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April 18, 2014

Joint Chiefs: Allow Pay Curbs or Harm Readiness

Stars and Stripes reports that “Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is giving the Joint Chiefs of Staff an unusual and potentially powerful opportunity to persuade senators they risk a readiness crisis if they don’t take significant steps this year to slow growth in military compensation.”

“All seven of the nation’s top four-star officers are to testify May 6, a rare event. They are expected side by side to urge support for pay and benefit curbs. The scene will be in sharp contrast to pleadings for higher pay by service chiefs during earlier times of crisis for the all-volunteer military.”

“The Joint Chiefs hope to make clear the dilemma Congress has created by trying to shield compensation from the effects of the 2011 Budget Control Act of 2011, with its deep cuts to overall defense spending and its automatic enforcement tool of sequestration.”

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U.S. Army Developing Solar Array for Energy

The U.S. Army announced “plans to start development of a solar array that will provide about 25 percent of the annual installation electricity requirement of Fort Huachuca, Ariz.”

“‘This will be the largest solar array in the department of defense on a military installation,’ according to Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment. A ground breaking is scheduled for April 25, with commercial operations commencing in late 2014.”

“‘Energy is an installation priority,’ said Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, Fort Huachuca commanding general. ‘The project goes beyond the megawatts produced. It reflects our continued commitment to southern Arizona and energy security. The project will provide reliable access to electricity for daily operations and missions moving forward.’”

“The Fort Huachuca Renewable Energy Project is a joint effort between the U.S. Army Energy Initiatives Task Force, Fort Huachuca, The General Services Administration, Tucson Electric Power and developer E.ON Climate and Renewables.”

U.S. Sending Non-Lethal Military Aid to Ukraine

Fox News reports that “the U.S. is sending helmets, sleeping bags and generators to support the Ukrainian military — but stopped short of approving other items the interim government reportedly says it needs to stand up to the might of Moscow, saber-rattling on its doorstep.”

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Thursday that the U.S. will send the additional non-lethal military aid. The additional aid was announced as fighting between Ukraine’s military and pro-Russian factions intensified in the eastern part of the country.”

“Hagel, speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon with his Polish counterpart, said the approved aid would include medical supplies, helmets, sleeping mats, water purification units, hand-fuel pumps and small power generators.”

Our Everyday Heroes

On a snowy National Medal of Honor Day at Arlington National Cemetery, three everyday American citizens received a prestigious civilian community service award from those who have received the nation’s top military honor, the recipients of the Medal of Honor. Recognized for their selfless service, Michael Landsberry, Connor Stotts and Troy Yocum were honored by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation with the Citizen Honors Award.242493 Medal of Honor_073

Michael Landsberry, a mathematics teacher at a Nevada middle school, made the split-second decision to protect the lives of his students, sacrificing his life in the process. Connor Stotts, an Eagle Scout, rescued three friends who were in danger of drowning. In 2009, Troy Yocum walked 7,880 miles across America in a “Hike for Heroes,” raising $1.3 million to support over 1,800 military families. Two years later, he founded Active Heroes, a charity that supports military families and wounded veterans.

“That’s what heroes do,” said Roger Krone, president of Boeing Network and Space Systems and the Citizen Honors keynote speaker. “They inspire us to reach beyond what we thought we were capable of and provide an example to emulate.”

The Citizen Honors Award is presented to people who, when confronted with extraordinary circumstances, make a decision to act. The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation performs a national search to identify 20 finalists for the award. From among those finalists, a panel of Medal of Honor recipients selects the three individuals to receive the award.

Boeing has been a supporter of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation since its inception in 1999. The company has made a $3 million dollar multi-year commitment to support the Foundation’s Citizen Honors program and education outreach, including expanding the reach of the Medal of Honor Character Development Program.

“They chose to put the interests of others before their own…that is why these awards are so important. They serve to inspire us to be better people,” Krone said.

242493 Medal of Honor_187

 

Poland Wants More U.S., NATO Presence

Defense News reports that “Poland’s defense minister is calling for a larger US and NATO military presence in his country to deter the type of Russian aggression occurring in eastern Ukraine.”

“Tomasz Siemoniak is scheduled to meet with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday to discuss ways the US military could partner more with Poland at a time when Russia flexes its military muscles on the Crimean Peninsula and near Ukraine.”

Defense Sec. Hagel Launches Military Justice Review

Military Times reports that “the Pentagon is launching a ‘systemic’ review of the entire military justice system that will look at how commanders convene courts-martial and impose nonjudicial punishments.”

“The 18-month review of the Uniform Code of Military Justice ‘will help ensure the continued effectiveness of our armed forces and the fair administration of justice for our service members,’ Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement.”

“The aim of the review is to ‘provide both a step-back look at ways to improve how the UCMJ operates and a close technical scrub to address any discontinuity after decades of individual amendments,’ according to the announcement.”

“The review comes at a time of increasing concern among Pentagon leaders about sexual assault specifically and broader misconduct across the force after years of war.”

NATO Adds More Forces to Eastern Europe

Stars and Stripes reports that “more NATO ships, warplanes and troops will soon be headed to eastern Europe in response to Russia’s pressure on Ukraine, the alliance’s top official said Wednesday. But NATO’s efforts to reassure wary allies appear to stop short of establishing a permanent forward presence in the region.”

“’We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water, and more readiness on the land,’ NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters after a meeting of the North Atlantic Council.”

“Among the measures to be taken include an intensification of NATO air policing missions over the Baltic region and more allied ships bound for the Baltic Sea, eastern Mediterranean and other regions as required, Rasmussen said. However, he made no mention of sending additional ships to the Black Sea, where Russia has the bulk of its fleet. The USS Donald Cook has been deployed to the Black Sea, and on Monday, a Russian fighter jet engaged in a ‘provocative’ act toward the destroyer.”

5th Boeing GPS IIF Spacecraft Sends Initial Signals from Space

When most people think of GPS, they think of the navigation systems in their car, or the map application on their cell phones. Many people don’t realize that GPS was originally designed to provide satellite communications capability for the military. Today, the Air Force continues to operate the constellation of 31 satellites for millions of civilian and military end-users around the globe.

As part of ongoing efforts to enhance this technology, a Boeing GPS IIF satellite was launched into space on Feb 20, 2014, aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket.  This satellite joins four Boeing-built GPS IIF satellites already in service that are providing greater navigational accuracy, a more resilient signal, and a longer design life.

Boeing has played an integral role in the program since the first GPS satellite was launched in 1978. The sixth GPS IIF is already at its Florida launch site, undergoing preparations to enter service in the next few months. And with six more satellites ready to be deployed at the Air Force’s request, the Boeing GPS IIF will form the core of the system for many years to come.

For more information about the latest GPS IIF satellite launch, and about the program, click here.

Comment: Chinese Military ‘Corruption’ Hurts U.S.

U.S. News & World Report writes that “China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army, is currently engulfed in the worst corruption scandal in its history. Two of its top officials have been detained and accused of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, including a cash-for-promotion racket that benefited hundreds of officers. More heads will roll as dozens of senior personnel must have offered bribes — or had been bribed — to get ahead in the ranks, calling into question the very leadership of the 2.3 million-strong army.”

“It’s easy to look across the Pacific and feel a twinge of schadenfreude. But if Beijing can’t get this metastasizing scandal under control, it’s bad for America’s strategic interests for three basic reasons.”

  • “First, corruption within the Chinese army makes our interactions with China even more byzantine and unpredictable than they already are.”
  • “Second, a corrupted Chinese military might not be competent enough to handle a full-blown international crisis in Asia.”
  • “Third, even if a shooting war isn’t on the horizon, the U.S. still needs to work with a competent Chinese military to handle important international challenges.”

How U.S. Military Can Adopt Clean Energy For National Security

Forbes reports that “The military’s success in preparing for and mitigating climate change impacts will depend in large part on where it gets energy and how smartly it uses energy, especially amid budget constraints. Consider this: the Defense Department is the single largest energy consumer in the United States, despite accounting for less than one percent of total domestic use.”

“Each of the branches – Air Force, Army, Navy, and the Marine Corps – is making significant progress to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, but more must be done to meet energy goals and prepare for the global consequences of climate change. To do this, the Defense Department should:”

  • “Play a larger role in creating a smarter, more resilient U.S. electricity grid.”
  • “Increase energy efficiency.”
  • “Develop new partnerships.”
  • “Identify new ways to finance energy improvements.”

Spending Caps May Force $66 Billion Defense Cut

“The Pentagon’s planned five-year spending plan for procurement and research-and-development projects, set forth in its 2015 budget proposal, would be cut by $66 billion if US federal spending caps remain in place,” Defense News reports.

“The cuts would impact dozens of Pentagon programs, including the Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter, Boeing KC-46 tanker and Airbus Light Utility Helicopter.”

“The Pentagon’s five-year spending plan submitted with its 2015 budget proposal is $115 billion above defense spending caps. If the caps remain in place, the Army would not sign another multiyear procurement deal with Sikorsky for new Black Hawk helicopters and a fourth brigade of General Dynamics Stryker double-hull vehicles would also be canceled.”

Advanced IRST Sensor Will Make Super Hornet Even More Lethal

Future threats are predicted to be even more evasive and lethal than they are today – stealthier, smarter and less predictable.  In a battle environment where radar isn’t an option, Super Hornet operators soon will be able to rely on an upgraded infrared search and track (IRST) senor system to help find threats at great distances, and determine the best weapons to eliminate them.

This advanced IRST sensor had its first successful flight on a Super Hornet last week, demonstrating that the aircraft has the growth capacity needed to evolve and accommodate new capabilities required by the U.S. Navy. IRST is currently planned to deploy by 2017.

“Adding an advanced infrared sensor to the Super Hornet broadens the Navy’s warfighting ability,” Navy F/A-18 Program Manager Capt. Frank Morley said. “Combined with the Super Hornet’s advanced radar and the Growler’s electronic attack radar jamming ability, IRST will allow the fleet to dominate the skies in all threat environments.”

Lockheed Martin provides the sensor, and Boeing integrates it onto the Super Hornet.

You can read more about this important capability here.

IRST Pod

Pentagon Seeks Funds to Counter Biological Weapons

“The Pentagon wants to spend more money on a secret program to track weapons of mass destruction because of new information showing an increased need to locate chemical and biological weapons,” USA Today reports.

“The increased funding for the Nimble Elder program of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is ‘driven by recent classified DoD guidance,’ according to DTRA’s budget plans, which were released in March.”

“Nimble Elder, Pentagon documents show, involves WMD-tracking teams that work with combatant commands around the world to either deploy rapidly to crisis spots around the world or are already based in those areas. They collaborate with technical support groups to ‘provide the (combatant commands) and other U.S. government agencies with the capability to counter WMD threats.’”

Using Drones as WiFi Hotspots

“A small collection of aging surveillance drones are about to have something in common with a typical Starbucks: the ability to provide high-speed Wi-Fi access,” Defense One reports.

“The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is a step closer to perfecting the repurposing of aging surveillance drones into high-bandwidth mobile hotspots designed to ensure warfighters have aerial Wi-Fi access in the most remote places on Earth.”

“As one might expect, the technology behind DARPA’s effort through its Mobile Hotspots program is a little more complex than the coffee shop’s.”

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