“A diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar could pose problems for US foreign policy in the Arabian Gulf,” Defense News reports.
“On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar for the first time since the formation of the 33-year-old Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in what was described as Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the gulf state’s involvement in regional conflicts.”
“The trio said in a joint communique that Qatar has failed to implement a GCC security agreement adopted in November to refrain from involvement in other nations’ politics and supporting organizations that threaten the gulf’s stability.”
USA Today: “Cut the Army to 450,000 soldiers and it might not be able to sustain a war with high casualties in its opening days. That smaller Army might also be led by poorly qualified field commanders.”
“Until Wednesday, the Army and the Pentagon have been vague about the effects of dropping from its preferred level of 490,000 soldiers to the 440,000 to 450,000 forecast in President Obama’s budget. It has about 520,000 soldiers now.”
Janine Davidson: “I am sympathetic to the critics’ arguments that we cannot wish away the need for robust and ready ground forces. But considering the numbers in historical and strategic perspective, and assuming the Army is not forced to cut more soldiers due to sequestration (a big gamble), this round of cuts does not seem quite as dramatic.”
Stars and Stripes reports that “a Senate measure to strip military commanders of authority over prosecutions of sexual assaults and other serious crimes failed Thursday in a procedural vote.”
“The bill known as the Military Justice Improvement Act needed 60 votes under Senate rules in order to end debate and move to a final vote, but received 55. Even if the bill had passed, however, a similar measure is considered highly unlikely to pass the House of Representatives.”
“It was championed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who said placing prosecution authority with independent military prosecutors, rather than with the chain of command, would encourage reporting by victims now intimidated to do so because of retaliation from superiors.”
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.
Military Times posts an exclusive: “After years of silence on the intensely controversial issue of military retirement reform, the Pentagon on Thursday unveiled a detailed proposal for fundamental, far-reaching changes to the current pension system, Military Times has learned.”
“The changes would preserve the current system’s defining feature of a 20-year, “cliff-vesting,” fixed-income pension. But it would ultimately provide smaller monthly checks, according to documents obtained by Military Times.”
“To compensate for that, the new proposal would offer three new cash payments to be provided long before old age — a 401(k)-style defined contribution benefit awarded to all troops who serve at least six years; a cash retention bonus at around 12 years of service; and a potentially large lump-sum “transition pay” provided upon retirement to those who serve 20 years or more.”
“In the broad view, the new plan would lower the total economic value of the military retirement package. But maybe not by that much. Details vary, but several options show a roughly 10 percent reduction in cumulative lifetime payments.”
Defense News reports that “for months, top Air Force officials have been preparing Washington for a budget that cuts back on force structure in favor of modernization. During Tuesday’s budget reveal, they made good on their promise.”
“For FY 2015, Air Force procurement accounts would have a proposed fund of $18.5 billion, alongside $15.9 billion for research and development. Roughly 62 percent of the procurement fund would go towards aircraft.”
“Overall, the service’s budget request was $109.3 billion.”
Marine Corps Times reports that “William Kyle Carpenter, a Marine Corps veteran who was severely wounded during a November 2010 grenade attack in Afghanistan, will receive the nation’s highest combat valor award later this year, Marine Corps Times has learned.”
“Carpenter, a 24-year-old medically retired corporal, will become the service’s third Medal of Honor recipient from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which date back to October 2001. The Marine Corps is finalizing plans with the White House for a ceremony in Washington, officials said.”
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.
The Associated Press reports that “the Pentagon on Tuesday unveiled a proposed 2015 defense budget that shrinks the armed forces while keeping a commitment to support European allies at a time of tension over Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine.”
“The spending plan reflects what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel calls a choice to field a smaller but more modern force rather than a larger one less prepared for combat. Some in Congress, however, see that as an approach that weakens U.S. capabilities in a period of growing uncertainty in Europe and Asia.”
“The proposed $496 billion in spending — unchanged from this year’s budget total — is part of a $3.9 trillion federal budget that President Barack Obama sent to Congress Tuesday.”
“Under the proposed defense plan, the Army would shrink from 490,000 active-duty soldiers to 440,000-450,000 over the coming five years — the smallest since 1940, prior to the buildup for World War II, when the Army had 267,000 active duty troops.”
“A small scientific study of veterans exposed to bomb blasts while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan uncovered signs of lasting brain damage even in cases where there were no outward symptoms such as headaches, dizziness or confusion,” USA Today reports.
“Even though a soldier may not appear hurt by a blast wave doesn’t mean there aren’t small changes to the brain, concludes the report published Monday in The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation.”
“The authors cautioned that it remains unclear whether those changes will alter how the service member functions in the long run.”
The US Defense Department recognizes Women’s History Month with a “special report that takes a closer look at the contributions of women in the U.S. armed forces as they continue to lead our nation’s defense into the future.”
After revolutionizing the way U.S. Marines and Air Force Special Operations perform their mission-sets, the V-22 Osprey program now has its sights set on redefining what it means to be a multi-mission and multirole aircraft in the 21st Century. The Bell Boeing team announced in early September successful initial testing of a V-22 in the role of aerial tanker, as an Osprey equipped with a roll-on, roll-off prototype aerial refueling system demonstrated flight and maneuvering coordinated with an F/A-18C and an F/A-18/D Hornet trailing the Osprey.
The demonstration is a valuable step in moving the V-22 into the aerial refueling role, and highlighted safe deployment, retraction, and stable positioning of the refueling drogue trailing the V-22, as well as a Hornet fighter aircraft flying in positions adjacent to the deployed drogue. A second series of flights tested the hose and drogue system in the low-speed role to simulate speeds used in refueling other capable rotorcraft. Future testing of the system will include aircraft in a fuel-receiving position directly behind the V-22, connection with the refueling drogue and ultimately in-flight refueling.
The V-22 is key contender for the coming Navy Carrier Onboard Delivery competition, and the aerial refueling demonstration marks a major milestone in developing capabilities that bolster the Osprey’s position in that contest. With the tiltrotor’s speed, range and runway independence, future carrier groups could task a V-22 to deliver supplies to the afloat task force or ashore, roll on the refueling kit and refuel everything from fighter aircraft to vehicles on the ground, then task that aircraft for a MEDEVAC or special operations insertion – all within a single day.
National Defense Magazine reports that “the particulars of the $496 billion defense budget will be unveiled tomorrow, but two other funding mechanisms could boost military spending and help alleviate the pain of the Budget Control Act, an analyst said.
One wild card is the Obama administration’s Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative that would boost defense spending by $26 billion in exchange for tax and spending reforms. The military could also continue to use its Overseas Contingency Operations funds — a wartime fund that is separate from the base budget — to soften cuts to accounts, said Todd Harrison, senior fellow of defense budget studies for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
But don’t bank on either to provide real relief. The former initiative is unlikely to be approved by Congress, Harrison said during a conference call with reporters. The latter fund could disappear in just a few years, and the Defense Department has yet to work out how it would fit OCO expenses back into the base budget.
Defense News offers a special report and Defense budget preview: “Chuck Hagel, with his first budget plan as US defense secretary, has managed to do the unthinkable: He has united Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill.”
“In short, they hate it.”
“Limited by spending caps erected by Congress, Hagel’s budget proposes large cuts to America’s ground combat forces, a number of controversial troop-benefits changes, retiring aircraft fleets and a round of politically white-hot base closures.”
“Republican hawks bristled at the 2015 Pentagon spending request Hagel described last week, saying it would instantly make America less safe and the military less ready to respond to a list of possible threats. Fiscal hawks began preparing for a fight over a coming $58 billion request from the White House, including $26 billion for defense, for things not included in the federal spending plan.”
“Democrats largely gave the plan political cover by holding fire, but few embraced its proposed cuts as strategically wise. For the most part, President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats renewed their push to roll back the remaining eight years of sequestration cuts, saying Hagel’s plan shows more cuts would undercut military lethality and readiness.”