Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
August 29, 2014

US Military Will Send Tanks To East Europe for Drills

Defense News reports that “US Army troops equipped with tanks will head to Eastern Europe soon to reassure NATO allies anxious over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, Pentagon officials said Thursday.”

“About 600 troops from the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division are due to deploy in October to Poland and the Baltic states for training exercises with alliance members, replacing paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, said spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman.”

“’It’s a three-month rotation,’ Hillman said. The drills are ‘focused on small unit and leader training.’”

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Feature: History of Tanks

Stars and Stripes provides a very interesting history of tanks, from WWI through today.

How U.S. Military Could Become Trans-Inclusive

Smithsonian Magazine reports that “the U.S. Defense Department may have reversed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay service personnel, but transgender individuals serving in the military still need to keep their identity a secret or face dismissal. However, changing that policy would not be difficult or burdensome, a new study finds.”

“The report, issued by the Palm Center, a San Francisco think tank that researches issues of gender and sexuality in the military, looked at 18 other countries that currently allow transgender individuals to serve and at the U.S. military’s experience integrating gay, lesbian and bi people. Based on its findings, the center came up with what it thinks could be a roadmap to eliminating the ban on transgender service.”

“Already, an estimated 15,500 transgender individuals are actively serving, and another 134,000 are veterans, according to earlier research from the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles Law School.”

Boeing Commercial Crew Program Completes Critical Design and Safety Reviews

Boeing recently completed the Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review of its Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft and the Critical Design Review (CDR) of its integrated systems, meeting all of the company’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones on time and on budget.


Photo credit: Boeing

Completed in July, the CDR milestone marks a significant step in reaching the ultimate design that will be used for the spacecraft, launch vehicle and related systems. Propulsion, software, avionics, landing, power and docking systems were among 44 individual CDRs conducted as part of the broader review.

The CST-100 is being developed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which aims to make crew transportation systems available for low-Earth orbit destinations such as the International Space Station by 2017. The capsule could accommodate up to seven crew members or a mix of crew and cargo and features a weld less structure, wireless internet and Boeing LED “Sky Lighting” technology.

The Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review included an overall hazard analysis of the spacecraft, identifying life-threatening situations and ensuring that the current design mitigated any safety risks.

Watch this video on America’s first space taxi:

More information about the future of human space exploration can be found at

Obama on ISIS: ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy’

President Barack Obama said Thursday it’s premature to go to Congress to authorize a strategy to defeat ISIS — because he doesn’t have one yet, Roll Call reports.

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama told reporters after being asked about striking ISIS in Syria, saying he didn’t want to “put the cart before the horse.”

The line — sure to be repeated often by his critics — came as Republicans have been repeatedly demanding a strategy to defeat ISIS.

Obama said he’s asked the military for options to take on ISIS, but a decision to expand strikes into Syria isn’t imminent and he suggested it would not happen before Congress returns from recess.

Obama Senses Need to Gain Congressional OK Before Syria Strikes

Defense News reports that “pressure from the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue is mounting on President Barack Obama to seek congressional approval before launching military strikes inside Syria.”

“White House and Pentagon officials reportedly are mulling how and what the US military could hit in Syria to weaken the Islamic State, a violent extremist group that has seized much of northern Iraq and slaughtered minorities.”

“The debate around striking on Syrian soil comes almost exactly one year after lawmakers returned early from an August recess to craft a use-of-force resolution aimed at helping rebel forces there in a years-long fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.”

VA Showed Veterans as ‘Oscar the Grouch’

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “the beleaguered Department of Veterans Affairs depicted dissatisfied veterans as Oscar the Grouch in a recent internal training guide, and some vets and VA staffers said Tuesday that they feel trashed.”

“The cranky Sesame Street character who lives in a garbage can was used in reference to veterans who will attend town-hall events Wednesday in Philadelphia.

“‘There is no time or place to make light of the current crisis that the VA is in,’ said Joe Davis, a national spokesman for the VFW. ‘And especially to insult the VA’s primary customer.’”

“The 18-page slide show on how to help veterans with their claims, presented to VA employees Friday and obtained by The Inquirer, also says veterans might be demanding and unrealistic and tells VA staffers to apologize for the ‘perception’ of the agency.”

Singing Torpedoes to Sleep

Nixie, a siren-like creature of European legends, is said to sing a sweet song that entrances listeners and lures them away. Boeing’s modern-day ‘Nixie,’ or the AN/SLQ-25, sings its sweet lullaby confusing the torpedo’s sensors as it mimics the acoustic signature of the surface ship it protects. As the torpedo is lured away from the ship and its crew, it falls into a peaceful slumber at the bottom of the sea as its fuel is depleted.

Boeing subsidiary Argon ST has been providing navies around the world with the Nixie surface ship torpedo defense system for more than a decade, delivering more than 400 systems to the US Navy and coalition partners worldwide. This summer, the company enters a new chapter in producing high-end acoustics and anti-submarine warfare capabilities by bringing production of the voice of the Nixie system, the singing towed counter measure, in-house for the first time.

With this move, Argon ST expands into a whole new line of work to support Nixie customers with additional towed body repair capabilities and modernization of existing devices. In addition to opening doors to new innovation of the Nixie system through enhancements to the towed acoustics counter measure, the company is better positioned to expand system capabilities to new sensor payloads beyond torpedo defense to meet future customer and mission requirements.

Find out more about Nixie system’s potentially life-saving noise in this video:

Armed Services Chairman Calls for Strategy to Combat ISIS

More House lawmakers are warning President Barack Obama he needs to articulate a broader anti-terrorism strategy — and consult with Congress on that plan — before ramping up military action against anti-U.S. jihadists in northern Iraq and Syria, Roll Call reports.

Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif. is the most recent member to release such a statement after the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria executed American photojournalist James Foley last week.

“I challenge the President to engage Congress,” McKeon said in his statement Wednesday. “I’m willing to work with him.”

McKeon added, however, that while a plan to address ISIS’s growing power “may well require additional authorities from Congress … speculation about that before the President has even offered a strategy is putting the cart before the horse.”

U.S., Chinese to Meet at Pentagon

Reuters reports that “U.S. and Chinese military officials will hold talks on rules of behavior at the Pentagon on Tuesday and Wednesday, a U.S. official said, days after the United States denounced a “dangerous” Chinese jet intercept of a U.S. Navy patrol plane.”

“Last Tuesday, a Chinese fighter pilot flew acrobatic maneuvers around the U.S. Navy’s P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine and reconnaissance plane, crossing over and under it in international airspace over the South China Sea, the Pentagon said.”

“At one point, the jet flew wingtip-to-wingtip about 10 yards (9 meters) from the Poseidon, then performed a barrel roll over the top of it. The U.S. defense official said other close intercepts occurred in March, April and May.”

What Has the U.S. Hit in Iraq?

The Washington Post reports: “The United States is closing in on its 100th airstrike in Iraq since Aug. 8, when President Obama authorized military action against a variety of militant targets affiliated with the Islamic State. The details have come in news releases issued nearly every day since, incremental reminders that the U.S. military is waging a new war with no end in sight.”

“What has been hit, though? As the strikes continue, grasping the totality has become increasingly difficult. To get a better handle on it, Checkpoint compiled a spreadsheet — available in Google Docs here — breaking down all of the targets as U.S. Central Command has described them.”

Soaring the skies for more than 500,000 flight hours

It’s time to celebrate – U.S. Navy T-45 Training Air Wing One stationed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, Miss. hit the 500,000 flight hour milestone this summer.

Keeping aircraft in the sky for 500,000 flight hours is quite the accomplishment for Training Air Wing One. Reaching this milestone requires a continuous partnership between the U.S. Navy and Boeing to ensure fleet readiness.

This relationship stretches back to 1997, when the first T-45C was delivered to NAS Meridian. The T-45C has been flown by Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and allied pilots during their advanced training at NAS Meridian since then and will continue to be flown into the foreseeable future.

The 500,000th-flight-hour award was presented by Boeing at a winging ceremony to U.S. Navy Capt. Brian Goszkowicz and the student and instructor pilots who were aboard multiple airborne T-45C aircraft when the milestone was reached at NAS Meridian.

The journey continues for these pilots, students and operators as they strive to reach the next 500,000th flight hour milestone with the support of all involved.

t45 goshawk

Photo credit: Boeing

Congress Wants Vote on US Military Action Against ISIS

Fox News reports that “President Obama and military leaders are weighing a host of factors as they consider expanding airstrikes into Syria, including the Assad regime’s demand to seek permission first and warnings that the strikes could trigger ISIS retaliation.”

“But they soon could face another complication: Congress.”

“With Congress set to return early next month, influential lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have urged the administration to seek an up-or-down vote on military action in the region.”

Rubio Talks Military While Supporting SC Republicans

The Charlotte Observer reports on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio visit to support South Carolina Republicans: “On foreign policy, Rubio echoed previous comments by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., deploring cuts to the American military.”

“‘When America steps back from the national stage, it is chaos,’ Rubio said, adding that international conflicts need reasoned intervention. ‘Does that mean that we should be involved in every conflict? Of course not. … Only America can play that role. In the absence of us playing that role, no one does, and crisis ensues.’”

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