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September 17, 2014

Report: U.S. May Delay USAF Cuts in Europe

Stars and Stripes reports that “planned cuts to the U.S. military presence in Europe may be postponed because of concerns about Russian aggression, according to top defense officials.”

“’Currently there are changes to overseas forces on the books,’ but ‘I have talked to leadership here about a function to re-address those decisions because those … decisions were clearly made before’ Russia sent its forces into Ukraine, the commander of U.S. European Command told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.”

“’I see this building now moving towards a review of those decisions,’ Gen. Philip Breedlove said.”

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Congress Ducks War Authorization Vote

Congress appears set to sprint for the exits after voting to fund President Barack Obama’s new war on ISIS — although not by name — after rejecting a smattering of calls from lawmakers to go on record explicitly debating and authorizing it, reports Roll Call.

The get-out-of-town votes could come Wednesday, as the nation celebrates Constitution Day, the brainchild of the late-Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who was long the defender of Congress’ prerogatives, especially with regard to war.

“Sen. Byrd would be on the floor demanding that the United States Senate fulfill its constitutional responsibilities, which are debate, amend and vote,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one voice in a fairly small bipartisan group pushing unsuccessfully for a full debate and votes on the authorization to use military force before going home. “This is another act of cowardice, which contributes to the low esteem in which we’re held by the American people.”

Dempsey Opens Door to Ground Troops in ISIS Fight

Fox News reports that “Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey addressed the possibility of U.S. ground forces getting involved in the fight against the Islamic State during blunt testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. He said he would consider recommending that option if the international coalition being formed proves ineffective.”

“‘My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward,’ Dempsey said. ‘I believe that will prove true, but if it fails to be true and if there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.'”

“The comment is a departure from what Obama vowed in his address to the nation a week ago, and from what the president’s top spokesman said just one day before Dempsey’s testimony. And it marks the latest mixed message to emerge from the administration on the fight against ISIS, which for weeks U.S. military advisers have described in more urgent and dire terms than others in the administration.”

NASA Selects Boeing for Next American Passenger Spacecraft

America has traveled to space for more than half a century and now we’re returning passengers to low-Earth orbit on a new spacecraft. NASA selected Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 to transport up to seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo to the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit destinations from U.S. soil starting in 2017.

Boeing will build three CST-100s, the first and only spacecraft to achieve Critical Design Review and Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft will undergo a pad-abort test in 2016, an uncrewed flight in early 2017, and the first crewed flight to the ISS in mid-2017.

Check out this video about the CST-100 as America continues the dream to explore space:

Also visit Beyond Earth for more information about the latest developments on the space frontier.

U.S. Military to Send 3,000 Personnel to Fight Ebola

The Associated Press reports that “the Obama administration is ramping up its response to West Africa’s Ebola crisis, preparing to assign 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the afflicted region to supply medical and logistical support to overwhelmed local health care systems and to boost the number of beds needed to isolate and treat victims of the epidemic.

President Barack Obama planned to announce the stepped up effort Tuesday during a visit to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta amid alarm that the outbreak could spread and that the deadly virus could mutate into a more easily transmitted disease.

The new U.S. muscle comes after appeals from the region and from aid organizations for a heightened U.S. role in combatting the outbreak blamed for more than 2,200 deaths.

NPR explains why the Ebola outbreak presents “special challenges” for the U.S. military

US Army Expects to Improve Management of Cyber Soldiers

Defense News reports that “the US Army is closer than ever to introducing a cyber branch to better manage troops with highly sought skills in this area, according to a senior Army cyber official.”

“The branch, called Career Management Field 17, will draw on experts from the intelligence and signals community for dedicated cyber forces, said Ronald Pontius, deputy to the commander of US Army Cyber Command.”

“’What the Army is looking to do is to train and sustain the very high-speed cyber operators, in the range of offensive to defensive cyber operations,’ Pontius said.”

War Powers Resolution Nags a Reluctant Congress

In his Sept. 10 address to the nation, President Barack Obama asserted he already had authority to go after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant but would welcome congressional action to underscore the U.S. commitment, reports Roll Call. Leaders of both parties in Congress, while supportive of the president’s aims, visibly balked at holding a direct vote to authorize military action, at least before the midterm elections. It was a rare profile in bipartisanship if not courage.

To date, the president has been pursuing a limited mission to protect American personnel and threatened religious minorities in Iraq. Obtaining a full-fledged congressional debate and vote for wider military action would both educate the public and fulfill Congress’ responsibilities under the war powers resolution. Failure to pass such a measure, however, would throw the administration’s foreign policy credibility into further disarray.

A year to the day before his Sept. 10 address to the nation, the president asked Congress for authority to enforce his “red line” against Syria for using chemical weapons on its own people. Congress made clear then it didn’t want such a vote and that, if taken, it would fail. Before the matter came to a head the confrontation was preempted by a Russian-brokered deal with the Assad regime.

Partners Shaping the Future Air Force

image001The Air Force will celebrate its 67th birthday this week at the same time as the annual Air Force Association Air and Space Conference Technology and Exposition (AFA). It’s an opportunity for partners, including Boeing, to demonstrate how they will help the Air Force shape its future by offering innovative, affordable products and solutions.

The Air Force plays a critical role in our nation’s defense. Perhaps best known for operating bombers and fighter jets, they also play a key role in supporting the joint force. The Air Force provides our nation with surveillance via satellites and unmanned aircraft and is solely responsible for providing aerial refueling for all fixed wing aircraft.

With such broad responsibilities, the Air Force is working to stay on the cutting edge and look to partners and suppliers to offer the most innovative products at an affordable cost. At AFA, Boeing will feature its solution for the Air Force’s Next Generation Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), its newest tanker, the KC-46A, and the Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system.

The show also will spotlight legacy programs including the F-15 fighter, Minuteman missile guidance system and Wideband Global SATCOM satellite. During the Air Force Anniversary dinner on Sept. 17, Boeing will receive the 2014 John R. Alison Award for outstanding contributions by industrial leadership in national defense for the development of the C-17 Globemaster III.

Boeing Defense, Space & Security CEO Chris Chadwick also will give a speech Sept. 17 about the evolving defense industrial base.

How Qatar Aids U.S. Military

The Associated Press reports that “just miles from where former Guantanamo Bay terror suspects have resettled, American warplanes take off from Qatar’s al-Udeid air base in the global war on extremism.”

“The contrast in images illustrates why tiny but rich Qatar is an intriguing player in what President Barack Obama says will be a long battle to stop and eventually destroy the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.”

“Qatar plays an outsize role as a U.S. military partner. It gained public praise from Obama for brokering the controversial deal that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity in May in exchange for the release of five senior Taliban officials who had been imprisoned for years at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. Qatar promised Obama it would keep the five under watch for one year, although they would then be free to leave. The Obama administration also praised Qatar for its role in securing the release of extremist hostage Peter Theo Curtis.”

U.S., NATO Troops Begin Military Exercises in Ukraine

BBC News reports that “about 1,300 troops from 15 countries – including the US and other Nato members – have begun a military exercise near Lviv in western Ukraine.”

“The US says the drill had been planned before the current crisis in eastern Ukraine, where government forces have been battling pro-Russian rebels.”

“Clashes have continued in eastern Ukraine, particularly around the city of Donetsk, despite a ceasefire deal.”

What Are the 1,600 U.S. Military Advisers Doing In Iraq?

Time reports that “President Obama ordered U.S. military reinforcements to Iraq last week. The additional 475 troops will push the total helping the Iraqis battle jihadist militants to about 1,600. That’s 1% of the 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in 2008, at the peak of the U.S. deployment for the 2003-2011 war.”

“So it’s a relatively tiny force. But just what are these troops doing? More importantly, what are they not doing?”

“The Pentagon insists that they’re not going to engage in ground combat against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They’ve spent much of the last three months—the first 300 advisers began arriving in Iraq in late June—assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the Iraqi army and the Kurdish peshmerga forces in the semi-autonomous north of the country. ISIS militants steamrolled over Iraqi forces earlier this year, culminating in their seizure of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.”

U.S. Navy Pilot Praises EA-18G Growler in Aviation Week Article

Crews operating the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G Growler continue to be impressed by the capabilities the Boeing-built electronic attack aircraft provides. Aviation Week, which had a reporter on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during the recent Rim of Pacific (Rimpac) exercises, recently published an article about the Growler’s performance.

MSF12-0110

Photo credit: Boeing

Click here to read the article.

Report: USAF Budget To Continue Push for Cuts

Defense News reports that “when the US Air Force rolled out its budget request in March, it was billed as a realistic look at the post-sequestration world, one filled with necessary tough choices but still maintaining current capabilities.”

“Air Force leaders’ intent to modernize the force quickly crashed against a brick wall in the shape of Congress, as both chambers made clear that cuts to the A-10 close air support plane, and to a lesser extent the U-2 surveillance aircraft, have little support.”

“With the Hill dug in, the Air Force seems prepared to stick to its guns on its FY 2016 proposal. Multiple sources tell Defense News that the service’s budget proposal hews closely to what was submitted in 2015, despite expected congressional pushback.”

Congress to Review Obama’s War Strategy

The Associated Press reports that “this week offers Congress its best chance to get answers about President Barack Obama’s new Mideast counterterror strategy.”

“As lawmakers prepare for votes to arm and train Syrian rebels – an element of Obama’s plan to fight Islamic State militants – members from both parties are airing their concerns.”

“Some want harder action against the Islamic State extremists who’ve conquered parts of Syria and Iraq. Others fear entanglement in a new war. Lawmakers also want to know why the administration wants to help rebels it has largely avoided aiding militarily throughout Syria’s three-year civil war and what the costs and duration of such an engagement might be.”

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