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Thread: Obama, Now Biden, Guts the Military

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    Default Re: Obama Guts the Military

    Air Force is losing pilots, and the headwind is getting worse

    By Sig Christenson | San Antonio Express-News | Published: September 25, 2016

    SAN ANTONIO (Tribune News Service) — At the controls of a T-38 training jet high over Hondo, 1st Lt. Alex Lauer dueled at up to 485 mph against Capt. Christopher “Fiat” Umphres, who has 450 combat hours in Afghanistan.

    Lauer was “shot down” just once in the mock dogfight, demonstrating his growing skills.

    Lauer, 24, is near the end of an innovative 12-week course at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph that has increased graduation rates in the Air Force, which is struggling to fill a huge fighter pilot shortage as aviators burned out by deployments, budget cuts and extraneous duties flee for jobs elsewhere.

    The shortage stands at 723 pilots this year and is expected to worsen, reaching 1,000 in 2017, with no immediate way to plug the gap because the Air Force needs two years to transform a young officer into a fighter pilot. While active-duty pilot training will increase from 200 this year to 285 in 2017, it won’t begin to replace the lost talent and institutional memory.

    The Air Force has cut the number of active-duty fighter squadrons to 31 over the past 20 years, from a high of 54 in 1996.

    Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, in a briefing with reporters last month, blamed a good economy and airline hiring for the problem. Some estimates say airlines will recruit 2,000 pilots per year for the next decade.

    The crisis stems from crushing budget constraints under the congressional sequester, too many nonflying tasks that distract pilots from their main job and a perception that the Air Force doesn’t value them, several pilots said.

    Even as the Air Force built a fiscal firewall to protect its training units from budget cuts, flying hours went down substantially in many fighter squadrons. Pilots, especially those with families, may be weary of repeated deployments, but some find the drop in sorties stateside over the past 20 years more concerning.

    The Air Combat Command wants inexperienced fighter pilots to fly nine sorties a month and its veterans to fly eight. The average this year is only 7.2.

    “It’s not about the money. This is not a bunch of fighter pilots saying, ‘Hey, pay us more or we’ll leave and go to the airlines.’ said Umphres, 30, an instructor with the 435th Fighter Training Squadron here. “Nobody joined the Air Force to be a fighter pilot because someday they wanted to work for Delta.”

    “The Air Force right now has taken something that was every 8-year-old’s dream job and they’ve made it so difficult or frustrating or incompatible with their family life that they feel like they’re being forced to leave and do something else.”

    ‘Quiet crisis’

    Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, recently called the shortage a “quiet crisis” and outlined plans last week to provide greater support to fighter squadrons.

    Goldfein, an F-16 fighter pilot with 4,200 hours in the cockpit, also cautioned that the Air Force could not meet America’s defense needs if the sequester remains. Even with 5,600 airmen added this year, bringing the total to 317,000, retention is a servicewide problem, he said.

    “Pilots who don’t fly, maintainers who don’t maintain, controllers who don’t control, will walk,” he recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And there’s not enough money in the Treasury to keep them in if we don’t give them the resources to be the best they can be.”

    As the shortage worsens, pressure will only grow for instructor pilots like Umphres, who does three “double turns” a week. That’s two grueling instruction sorties a day, pulling up to six G’s in mock combat, each lasting about four hours with pre-flight and post-flight briefings.

    As the 435th’s flight commander, he puts in an additional four hours that include scheduling the next day’s sorties. It’s less of a problem for Umphres than for others. He lives alone at Randolph while his wife studies law in another state.

    The mathematics of the problem is simple. There are fewer instructor pilots than students in the Air Force training command’s T-38 and T-6A squadrons. Umphres’ squadron has 40 instructors and 22 T-38C Talon jets, and it graduated 160 pilots in the fiscal year that ends Friday, pilots who move on to their final phase of instruction.




    In a September, 2015 file photo, Second Lt. Duston Obrien, 435th Fighter Training Squadron upgrade pilot, and Maj. Gavin Peterson, 435th FTS instructor pilot, perform a pre-flight check at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. The 435th Fighter Training Squadron conducts Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals student training in nearly 50 T-38C Talon aircraft and trains IFF instructors for Air Education and Training Command at large. 502nd Air Base Wing


    The threat to a certain military culture is more complex. Lt. Col. Jason “Ugly” Earley, the 435th’s commander, mentioned Air Force “tribes” while bemoaning the lapse of hallowed fighter pilot traditions.

    He wouldn’t elaborate. Other pilots cited the banning of bawdy songs from squadron bars, now called “heritage rooms.”

    Some problems, such as time away from family, aren’t new. Gen. Mark Welsh, who recently retired as Air Force chief of staff and is now dean of Texas A&M University’s Bush School of Government and Public Service, said pilots also faced a high deployment tempo when he was young.

    But the service can’t consistently fight, fly and train the way it would if its maintenance units were fully staffed and supplied and its planes weren’t so old, he said. The F-15 fighter, for example, was introduced 40 years ago. The venerable B-52 bombers were first deployed in the 1950s.

    The Air Force has worked to address the problems, moving 4,500 personnel specialists and administrators into its squadrons from other units, but it has 500 fewer aircraft than it did 10 years ago.
    And the extra tasks that drive pilots crazy are the biggest new concern, said Welsh, a San Antonio native who served at Randolph.

    “When I was a squadron commander, I didn’t hear people complain nearly as much about additional duties because we had other people doing them,” he said.

    In a recent blog, retired fighter pilot Nate “Buster” Jaros recalled having to monitor the progress of plans to move into a new building, right down to making sure the toilet paper was ordered.

    Then there’s money. Earley, 42, calls it the least of the bigger issues but said the prospect of “equitable compensation” appeals to pilots whose aviation incentive pay and bonuses have remained stagnant for years.

    Flight incentive pay, based on a pilot’s age and years as an aviator, is around $650 a month for most and hasn’t changed in decades, he said.

    The bonus, at $25,000 a year, is the same as during the last big pilot shortage, in the late 1990s. Goldfein wants to increase it, but another former Air Force chief of staff, retired Gen. Ronald Fogleman, said some in Congress want a differential bonus program “where you pay fighter pilots a larger bonus than pilots in other career fields.”

    He hopes Goldfein will push back against the proposal because the Air Force has so many pilots “in bombers, airlift, tankers and special operations,” that “a differential bonus will create second-class citizens where there are none” and worsen the pilot retention problem.

    But money can’t buy what fighter pilots say they really need: love. They’re bothered by the idea, pushed down from higher echelons, that pilots aren’t different from anyone else in the Air Force.

    Umphres says it bothers people when the service tries to convince them “that fighter pilots are not special.”

    “We’re willing to work our butts off, but when you then turn around and tell us that we’re not any more valuable to the Air Force than the guy who’s running the commissary, that kind of rubs us the wrong way,” he said.

    Welsh, 62, has heard the complaints about getting rid of the crude songs in the bars that aren’t called bars anymore. He sang some of them when he was younger.

    But pilots can still call it a bar among themselves, and they can sing other songs, he said, recalling how his father, a highly decorated fighter pilot in World War II and Vietnam, reacted when Welsh shared his squadron’s songbook while home from Kunsan Air Base in South Korea in the late 1990s.

    “He said, ‘Why in the world would you ever sing stuff like this?’”

    Good time to be a pilot

    Ask Alex Lauer what he thinks of entering a service that is hemorrhaging pilots, and he’ll smile and say it doesn’t get him down.

    “I think this is a really good time to be a young pilot in the Air Force,” he said.

    Lauer, of Sammamish, Washington, will graduate from the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals course at Randolph in October and head to the Basic Course, where he’ll fly the F-15. He’s among the 45 percent of all Air Force pilots who came out of ROTC programs, in his case at Central Washington University. Another 45 percent graduated from the Air Force Academy, and the rest from officer training schools.

    Meanwhile, Lauer has flourished in a squadron that uses a new, more collegial approach to teaching the fundamentals of aerial combat, where instructors encourage students to bring up issues and concerns they might have kept to themselves in the past, so “we also end up fixing the things that we didn’t even know they screwed up,” as Earley put it.

    “We can open up to each other and we can say, ‘Hey, look, I asked you to do this and you didn’t do that. Why?’ In the past, a student might have said, ‘Yes, no, I don’t know,’ and not want to give any additional answers,” said Earley, an F-15 and T-38 pilot with 2,600 hours over his career, including about 50 in combat.

    So far, the attempt at a new training culture has cut attrition 85 percent.

    Using a video screen and whiteboard in a complex built in 1930, Maj. Matthew “Crater” Hannon went through the high and low points of Lauer’s dogfight. It was the first time Lauer had defended himself from an “aggressor,” and if mistakes were made, he still had reason to smile.

    “He did pretty well. We’re teaching a young man to look over his shoulder and fly a high-speed aircraft, which has a very small window of error before you’re no longer effectively flying your game plan,” said Hannon, an A-10 veteran of Afghanistan, where he flew close to 400 combat hours.

    “So Lt. Lauer learned how crucial it is to not only recognize a trigger by the bandit — the trigger meaning once I see (an enemy maneuver his jet) or I see a bandit respond in a certain manner — what’s my response?”

    Lauer had a split second to make the right, life-saving decision.

    After 16½ years in the Air Force, Hannon, a former instructor at the elite Air Force Weapons School in Nevada, is applying a fighter pilot’s perspective to events unfolding both in the squadron and at home, where his kids, Jack, 8, and Reese, 11, are an ever-larger issue in deciding his next move.

    Whether he stays or goes is up in the air. He’s waiting to see if Congress approves Air Force efforts to give pilots a $48,000 annual bonus.

    “I would fly fighters for this country for the rest of my life, if it were an option. The only reason I wouldn’t do that is at the expense of being the very best father that I could be to my children,” said Hannon, 38, of Seguin. “And not at the expense of not being able to teach my son the rules and the game of football, not being able to show my daughter how she should be treated on a date.”

    Nowhere to go but up

    At a conference in Florida this past week, Goldfein, the Air Force’s 21st chief of staff, reflected on how training time helped prepare him for his first night of battle in the Gulf War. He’d flown at Red Flag, a Nevada exercise that gives pilots a taste of what to expect.

    Only his squadron commander had been to war before, but as the mission ensued, he and his fellow pilots saw everything they had experienced at Red Flag — except when an enemy MiG fighter crashed.

    “And so for those that built that exercise to give young aviators the first 10 sorties so they could survive combat, gentlemen and ladies, it worked,” Goldfein told the crowd. “And so I came to believe that high-end training against the most difficult threat, in the most difficult environment, is nothing short of a moral obligation.”

    One of three focus areas over the next four years, Goldfein said, will be to stress the importance of the squadron, “where we succeed or fail as an Air Force.”

    “It’s where our culture resides,” he said.

    How to do it is the question.

    “The limited things that the Air Force can do itself to impact this, one of them is a refocus on letting aviators do what aviators are supposed to do, which is fly airplanes and not do additional duties,” said Fogleman, the retired Air Force chief of staff, who has flown fighters, transports, tankers and rotary-wing aircraft, including 315 combat missions.

    “The other thing they can do is they can advocate to the Congress to increase the money for readiness, spares, fuel for flying hours, and they can advocate for increased bonuses,” he continued. “Together, I think this can make a difference.”

    When it comes to retention issues, Welsh, one of the other retired chiefs of staff, thinks there are three kinds of pilots.

    The first plan to stay in. They love what they do, are challenged by it and will deal with the daily frustrations of life in the Air Force and work to make improvements. The second group, pushed by personal or family considerations, will get out, and there’s no stopping them.

    “And then there’s the third group, which is the group that kind of likes what they do and might stay if we can remove some of these frustrations,” he said. “Understanding the things that bother them the most and working on solutions to those issues is really where the focus needs to be.”

    Back at Randolph, Earley ran though the same categories: deployment-weary pilots and families headed out the door, those who might well stay if given better bonuses, and the ones who will fly through the turbulence.

    “I want to stress the most important one of those three is being part of something bigger than yourself. That’s what keeps people in the military,” he said. “That’s what motivates people to serve our nation.”

    Goldfein, who ran a fighter squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy, during the 1999 Kosovo air war, has said morale and readiness are linked. Asked how he would rank the current state of Air Force morale and readiness, he repeated what Earley had said, almost word for word: “Morale comes from being part of something bigger than yourself.”

    “I’ve never had an airman come back from a deployment raving about the quality of life downrange. They come back and talk to me about the mission. They talk about whether they were valued,” Goldfein said. “Whether they contributed and made a difference. That’s what makes high morale.”

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    Default Re: Obama Guts the Military


    Pilot Error, Lack of Training Caused Deadly Marine Helicopter Crash

    October 26, 2016

    The deadly helicopter crash that killed 12 Marines off the coast of Oahu earlier this year was a result of pilot error, a lack of training, and command problems, according to a Marine investigation into the incident.

    The investigation, which was obtained by the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley, and reported by Civil Beat and the Huffington Post, found that the pilots of the two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters had not met service goals for flight hours in the month leading up to the crash.

    The helicopters, which were each carrying six crew members, crashed off the coast of Oahu’s Waimea Bay around 11 p.m. on January 14 while conducting a nighttime tactical formation flight. All 12 Marines aboard the aircraft were killed “instantaneously,” according to the investigation, in a crash that yielded an explosion with forces “estimated at hundreds of times the force of gravity.”

    The Marine Corps declared all 12 service members dead after five days of unsuccessful search and rescue operations in January.

    Service officials said in a statement Tuesday that “low aircraft readiness leading to inadequate pilot efficiency, human factors, and the squadron’s lack of focus on basic aviation practices” were the main causes of the crash.

    According to the investigation, the four pilots had logged “4, 5, 4, and 13 hours” of flight time in the 30 days before the incident, which are all less than the Marine’s 15.1 flight hours per month goal for the Super Stallion helicopters. The months-long probe also concluded that two of the pilots were not “adequately proficient” in using night vision devices.

    There was no evidence that either of the helicopters endured mechanical problems leading up to the incident.

    The Marines were part of the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 based at Kaneohe Bay. According to investigators, several of the pilots in the squadron were worried about not logging enough flight training hours the month that the crash occurred.

    The probe also found that the firing of the commanding officer of the squadron days before the crash disrupted the “daily routine” and served as a “distraction.” He was fired, in part, because of a loss of confidence largely due to his “inability to improve aircraft readiness.”


    Marine aviation deaths reached a five-year high months before the January crash, 18 Marines having died in 13 separate incidents between May 2014 and September 2015. A Senate committee convened a hearing in March to ask Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine commandant, whether budget reductions had contributed to the increase in fatal helicopter crashes.

    “I would say the CH-53 community is probably right now the most challenged because of a variety of reasons: available aircraft, certain maintenance issues that go back to a Navy MH-53 accident three years ago this past January,” Neller told lawmakers. “When you don’t have enough airplanes to fly, then your flying hours go down and it becomes difficult to maintain your currency.”

    Budget cuts and force reductions have placed stresses on all of the military services, prompting leaders to voice concerns about impacts on readiness. Budget cuts coupled with continued deployments have generally reduced the services’ number of aircraft available to fly, resulting in less flying time for pilots.

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    The gift that keeps on giving...


    Grounded: Nearly Two-Thirds Of US Navy’s Strike Fighters Can’t Fly

    Congress’ inability to pass a budget is hurting the fleet, leaders say

    February 6, 2017

    The U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet strike fighters are the tip of the spear, embodying most of the fierce striking power of the aircraft carrier strike group. But nearly two-thirds of the fleet’s strike fighters can’t fly — grounded because they’re either undergoing maintenance or simply waiting for parts or their turn in line on the aviation depot backlog.

    Overall, more than half the Navy’s aircraft are grounded, most because there isn’t enough money to fix them.

    Additionally, there isn’t enough money to fix the fleet’s ships, and the backlog of ships needing work continues to grow. Overhauls — “availabilities” in Navy parlance — are being canceled or deferred, and when ships do come in they need longer to refit. Every carrier overall for at least three years has run long, and some submarines are out of service for prolonged periods, as much as four years or more. One submarine, the Boise, has lost its diving certification and can’t operate pending shipyard work.

    Leaders claim that if more money doesn’t become available, five more submarines will be in the same state by the end of this year.

    The Navy can’t get money to move around service members and their families to change assignments, and about $440 million is needed to pay sailors. And the service claims 15 percent of its shore facilities are in failed condition — awaiting repair, replacement or demolition.

    The bleak picture presented by service leaders is in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s widely talked about plan to grow the Navy from today’s goal of 308 ships to 350 — now topped by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson’s new Force Structure Assessment that aims at a 355-ship fleet. Richardson’s staff is crafting further details on how the growth will be carried out — plans congressional leaders are eager to hear. It seems to many as though the Navy will be showered with money to attain such lofty goals.

    Yet, for now, money is tight, due to several years of declining budgets mandated first by the Obama administration, then Congress, and to the chronic inability of lawmakers to provide uninterrupted funds to the military services and the government at large. Budgets have been cut despite no slackening in the demand for the fleet’s services; and the Navy, to preserve shipbuilding funds, made a conscious choice to slash maintenance and training budgets rather than eliminate ships, which take many years to build and can’t be produced promptly even when funding becomes available.

    Congress has failed for the ninth straight year to produce a budget before the Oct. 1 start of fiscal 2017, reverting to continuing resolutions that keep money flowing at prior year levels. CRs have numerous caveats, however, and many new projects or plans can’t be funded since they didn’t exist in the prior year. There is widespread agreement that CR funding creates havoc throughout the Pentagon and the industrial base that supports it — often substantially driving costs higher to recover from lengthy delays. Yet, like the proverbial weather that everyone talks about but no one can change, there seems to be little urgency in Congress to return to a more businesslike budget profile.

    The current continuing resolution through April 28 marks the longest stop-gap measure since fiscal 1977 — outstripping 2011 by only a couple weeks, noted Todd Harrison, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in a post on Twitter. This also marks the first CR situation during a presidential transition year.

    And while the talk about building dozens of more ships grabs headlines, it is not at all clear when or even whether Congress will repeal the Budget Control Act — sequestration — which, if unabated, will continue its restrictions to 2021.

    Meanwhile, some details are emerging of the new administration’s efforts to move along the budget process. In a Jan. 31 memorandum, Defense Secretary James Mattis described a three-phase plan that included submission by the Pentagon of a 2017 budget amendment request. The request would be sent to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget by March 1.

    Under the plan, the full 2018 budget request is due to OMB no later than May 1.

    The third phase of the plan involves a new National Defense Strategy and FY2019-2023 defense program, which “will include a new force sizing construct” to “inform our targets for force structure growth,” Mattis said in the memo.

    The services will make their case to Congress this week when the vice chiefs of the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps testify in readiness hearings before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday and the Senate Armed Services Committee the following day.

    The vice chiefs are expected to make their pitches for money that can be spent right away, rather than funds for long-term projects that, with only five months left in the fiscal year even if Congress passes a 2017 budget, can’t be quickly put to use.

    “If we get any money at all, the first thing we’re going to do is throw it into the places we can execute it,” a senior Navy source said Feb. 2. “All of those places are in ship maintenance, aviation depot throughput — parts and spares — and permanent changes of station so we can move our families around and fill the holes that are being generated by the lack of PCS money.”

    The backlog is high. “There’s about $6-8 billion of stuff we can execute in April if we got the money,” the senior Navy source said. “We can put it on contract, we can deliver on it right away.”

    Even if the budget top line is increased, Navy leaders say, the immediate need is for maintenance money, not new ship construction. A supplemental Navy list of unfunded requirements for 2017 that was sent to Congress in early January and is still being revised made it clear that maintenance needs are paramount.

    “Our priorities are unambiguously focused on readiness — those things required to get planes in the air, ships and subs at sea, sailors trained and ready,” a Navy official declared. “No new starts.”

    The dire situation of naval aviation is sobering. According to the Navy, 53 percent of all Navy aircraft can’t fly — about 1,700 combat aircraft, patrol, and transport planes and helicopters. Not all are due to budget problems — at any given time, about one-fourth to one-third of aircraft are out of service for regular maintenance. But the 53 percent figure represents about twice the historic norm.

    The strike fighter situation is even more acute and more remarkable since the aircraft are vitally important to projecting the fleet’s combat power. Sixty-two percent of F/A-18s are out of service; 27 percent in major depot work; and 35 percent simply awaiting maintenance or parts, the Navy said.

    With training and flying hour funds cut, the Navy’s aircrews are struggling to maintain even minimum flying requirements, the senior Navy source said. Retention is becoming a problem, too. In 2013, 17 percent of flying officers declined department head tours after being selected. The percentage grew to 29 percent in 2016.

    Funding shortfalls mean many service members are unable to relocate to take on new assignments. So far in 2017, the Navy said, there have been 15,250 fewer moves compared with 2016.

    Under the continuing resolution, the senior Navy official said, another 14 ship availabilities will be deferred in 2018 — one submarine, one cruiser, six destroyers, two landing ship docks, one amphibious transport dock and three minesweepers. Programs seeking to buy items that were not included in the 2016 budget can’t move forward, including CH-53K helicopters, Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles, Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles and littoral combat ship module weapons. Many more programs that were to increase 2017 buys over 2016 levels can’t do so.

    And with only five months left in fiscal 2017, even if a budget is passed in late April, there is some talk about a yearlong continuing resolution — a prospect at which the senior Navy official shook his head.

    “The full CR is not a good situation at all,” he said.

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    Default Re: Obama Guts the Military

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Ruck View Post
    The gift that keeps on giving...

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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  5. #245
    Creepy Ass Cracka & Site Owner Ryan Ruck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Obama Guts the Military

    Quote Originally Posted by American Patriot View Post
    That is a true statement. Pregnancy just before deployment. In unmarried women. It happens a LOT.

    And so do abortions.

    Deployed US Navy Has A Pregnancy Problem, And It’s Getting Worse

    March 1, 2017

    A record 16 out of 100 Navy women are reassigned from ships to shore duty due to pregnancy, according to data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

    That number is up 2 percent from 2015, representing hundreds more who have to cut their deployments short, taxing both their unit’s manpower, military budgets and combat readiness. Further, such increases cast a shadow over the lofty gender integration goals set by former President Barack Obama.

    Overall, women unexpectedly leave their stations on Navy ships as much as 50% more frequently to return to land duty, according to documents obtained from the Navy. The statistics were compiled by the Navy Personnel Command at the request of TheDCNF, covering the period from January 2015 to September 2016.


    The evacuation of pregnant women is costly for the Navy. Jude Eden, a nationally known author about women in the military who served in 2004 as a Marine deployed to Iraq said a single transfer can cost the Navy up to $30,000 for each woman trained for a specific task, then evacuated from an active duty ship and sent to land. That figure translates into $115 million in expenses for 2016 alone.

    “This is an avoidable cost and expense, leaving a gap for other people to pick up the work slack,” Eden said.

    “A pregnancy takes you out of action for about two years. And there’s no replacement,” said Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a nonpartisan public policy organization. “So everybody else has to work all that harder,” adding that on small ships and on submarines, “you really have a potential crew disaster.”

    Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen told TheDCNF the Navy tries to plan for the unplanned.

    “Just as we deal with other unplanned manning losses due to injury or other hardships, we work to ensure that pregnant service members are taken care of and that commands are equipped to fulfill their missions when an unexpected loss occurs,” he said.

    In January 2015, 3,335 women were pregnant aboard military vessels, representing about 14 percent of the 23,735 women then serving such duty, according to the data.

    But by August 2016 that number reached nearly 16 percent, an all-time high. The Navy reported 3,840 of the 24,259 women sailors who were aboard Navy ships were pregnant.

    The Obama administration understated the pregnancy problem throughout its eight years and even suppressed some data about the impact of its “gender-neutral” policies on the Navy.

    For decades, for instance, the Navy published results from exhaustive surveys of 25,000 men and women in a document called the “Navy Pregnancy and Parenthood Survey.”

    The reports once were 75 to 100 pages long and disclosed attitudes among men and women and their behavior. However, the Obama administration published only brief two to three-page summaries from 2012 onward.

    A civilian attached to the Navy Personnel, Research, Studies and Technology group, which researched and published the surveys, told TheDCNF full reports were completed regularly even though it’s detailed findings were not released to the public. The individual requested anonymity.

    “The military has been tight lipped over the years about these numbers. They don’t like to publicize them,” Eden told TheDCNF.

    The Navy has been dogged for years by lingering claims that some women get pregnant simply to avoid deployment.

    “We all know that happens. Women do it to avoid deployment,” Eden told TheDCNF.

    “There do seem to be coincidences,” said Donnelly. “There is a lot of anecdotal evidence.”

    “This information is considered so sensitive. You just don’t talk about it. And you don’t ask. It’s just something that everybody knows occurs. Don’t ask, don’t tell,” Donnelly said. She served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services and on the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces.

    The sudden departure of pregnant women aboard military vessels severely hurts military readiness and morale for those left behind and who must pick up the slack. The expecting sailors must be transferred from a ship after the 20th week of pregnancy.

    The Navy officially considered pregnancy incompatible with military service and women who became pregnant were automatically discharged, according to The Alliance for National Defense.

    Obama during his eight years in office sought to increase dramatically the number of women on ships.

    In May 2015, Admiral Michelle Howard announced a quota of 25% women on all ships. “We’re going back and looking at the ships — all of them — and what percentage of women are on the ships. Over time, we’ll modernize them to make sure we get to about 25 percent on each ship,” she said.

    Former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus in September 2015 pushed the new policy, stating that the Navy SEALs and all other combat jobs in the Navy should be open to women, with no exemptions as part of the Pentagon’s new “gender-neutral” employment policy.

    Eden believes the policy of increasing women on ships results in failure. “It’s bad policy when you think of ships that have to be battle-ready and then have to transfer women off for pregnancy — something that has to do with controlled behavior or voluntary behavior,” she said.

    It is unclear how President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will handle women in the military. He has been a skeptic, but also said during his confirmation hearing he would support a combat role for women.



    I still think any female wanting to be active duty military should be required to have a birth control implant regularly administered...

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    101st Airborne Division's Readiness Is Under Question

    Match 8, 2017

    The problems were compounded after sequestration, budget cuts and when former President Obama imposed strict caps on troop numbers for Afghanistan; Jennifer Griffin reports for 'Special Report'




    But the real question is, are they current on their SHARP training and are there sex change operations available for all?

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    Air Force Could Recall As Many As 1,000 Retired Pilots To Address Serious Shortage

    October 20, 2017

    President Trump signed an executive order Friday allowing the Air Force to recall as many as 1,000 retired pilots to active duty to address a shortage in combat fliers, the White House and Pentagon announced.

    By law, only 25 retired officers can be brought back to serve in any one branch. Trump's order removes those caps by expanding a state of national emergency declared by President George W. Bush after 9/11, signaling what could be a significant escalation in the 16-year-old global war on terror.

    "We anticipate that the Secretary of Defense will delegate the authority to the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years," Navy Cdr. Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

    But the executive order itself is not specific to the Air Force, and could conceivably be used in the future to call up more officers and in other branches.

    The Air Force needs about 1,500 pilots more than it has. Bonus programs and other incentives have not made up the shortfall.

    The Air Force has been at the forefront of the Pentagon's battle against the Islamic State, flying most of the combat sorties in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

    In June, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., labeled the pilot shortage a crisis that would prevent the Air Force from fulfilling its mission.

    “This is a full-blown crisis, and if left unresolved, it will call into question the Air Force’s ability to accomplish its mission,” said McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

    Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst and vice president of the Teal Group, said the shortage stemmed from a number of issues.

    "One is competition from commercial airlines," Aboulafia said. "Another is delays and funding shortfalls in training. And, due to military operations, utilization of the aircraft and crew has been higher than expected."

    On Capitol Hill, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and a member of Armed Services Committee, said that the fight against Islamic State and al-Qaeda linked terrorists will be expanding. He spoke to reporters while speaking about the four U.S. soldiers killed Oct. 4 in Niger.

    Counter-terrorism rules under President Obama had been too restrictive and ineffective, Graham said.

    “The war is morphing," Graham said. "You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less. You’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less. You’re going to have decisions made not in the White House but out in the field. And I support that entire construct.”

    Last month, President Trump became the third president to renew the post-9/11 state of national emergency, which allows the president to call up the national guard, hire and fire officers and delay retirements.

    Those extraordinary powers were supposed to be temporary. But even after 16 years, there's been no congressional oversight of the emergency.

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    Lengthy Operations Are Grinding Down The Air Force, According To Rand Report

    August 30, 2018

    A new study sounds the alarm over the longer missions the Air Force has conducted overseas since the Cold War — and warns that the service won’t be able to fully do any of the jobs that may be asked of it in the future.

    Top Air Force leaders
    have been expressing concern for some time about the pace of operations and the size of the force. But the Rand Corp. report — “Is the USAF Flying Force Large Enough?” — attempts to specifically identify how bad the problem is and where the danger areas lie.

    The study aims to help the Air Force "develop planning tools to test the robustness of the flying force against a range of possible future demands.” It does so by estimating future fixed demands on Air Force aircraft, by missions such as homeland air defense, then predicting possible additional demands that might be placed on those aircraft, relying on historical data dating back to 1946.

    The report outlines four different scenarios the Air Force most likely would encounter: a Cold War-type situation with a long regional conflict like the Korean or Vietnam wars; a Cold War situation with a short regional conflict like Operation Desert Storm; a peacetime environment, perhaps to include a no-fly zone; and a counterterrorism or counterinsurgency conflict similar to the current operations going on in the Middle East.

    In all four of those scenarios, the Air Force would see significant shortfalls in multiple areas, according to Rand. For example, during a long regional conflict, the Air Force would only be able to field about half of the C3ISR/BM — or command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and battle management — as well as special operations aircraft necessary, and less than two-thirds of the airlift and attack aircraft necessary.

    Even a peacetime environment, which historically has included lengthy no-fly zones in places like the Balkans and Middle East, would seriously tap the Air Force’s ISR, special operations, tanker, bomber, fighter and attack aircraft capabilities, the report said.

    While some aircraft fare better under certain scenarios, there’s no class of aircraft that can meet at least 80 percent of demands, Rand said. For example, fighter aircraft would be able to meet at least 93 percent of demands under both Cold War scenarios and a counterterror or counterinsurgency scenario. But under peacetime, fighters drop to 64 percent.

    “Perhaps the most surprising result is that a future characterized by peace enforcement operations is most stressful to capacity,” the researchers write. "This is because that period was characterized by prolonged no-fly zones in the Balkans and Middle East, which required continuous rotations of fighter, tanker and C3ISR/BM platforms. Airlift is the only aircraft without shortfalls [under this scenario], meeting 97 percent of demand. “The other classes face massive shortfalls.”

    Rand argues that prolonged operations, defined as those lasting more than a year, are having a disproportionate impact on the Air Force — and are growing longer, on average, since the end of the Cold War. The Air Force has taken part in 46 prolonged operations throughout all presidencies since 1946, the report stated.

    The Air Force needs to start using historically based simulations, similar to those used in the study, as it goes through its force planning process, according to the report. For example, the current process doesn’t fully account for demands placed on the force during peacetime, when airmen are supposed to be training and otherwise preparing for the next conflict, the report said.

    The service also must start tracking data that better illustrates the consequences of lengthy overseas operations, the report said.

    “Better metrics would also help USAF leaders make the case for more force structure in interactions with DoD leadership, Congress, the media and the public,” the report said.

    But the answer isn’t longer deployments, the researchers wrote. Even if airmen needed to operate ISR aircraft were deployed as much time as they stayed at home — or a 1:1 deploy-to-dwell ratio — that would only allow those planes to meet 42 percent of the demand, up from 29 percent. That’s an improvement, they noted, but it wouldn’t be worth the price.

    The change “still leaves the majority of demands unmet,” Rand said. “It also would place extreme, and likely unsustainable, burdens on units, personnel and families. It is hard to imagine service or DoD leaders recommending such a policy change.”






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    Report warns U.S. could lose a war against China or Russia will probably not get fixed thanks to Obama's sequester

    CBS Evening News
    Published on Nov 14, 2018

    A new report by a bipartisan commission selected by Congress says the U.S. has lost its military edge and could lose a war against China or Russia. CBS News national security contributor Michael Morell, former deputy CIA director, joins "CBS Evening News" to explain.


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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    We’ll so weaken your
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    All 6 East Coast Carriers In Dock, Not Deployed: Hill Asks Why

    As the Navy scrambles to get enough parts and people to move carriers back out to sea, it's facing a crowded waterfront at Norfolk.

    October 28, 2019


    USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS George H.W. Bush, USS Enterprise, USS Harry S. Truman, USS Abraham Lincoln at Naval Station Norfolk in 2012

    When the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman missed a planned deployment last month after suffering major electrical problems, the only East Coast-based carrier currently capable of deploying was forced to head back to the dock.

    As the Navy scrambles to get the Truman out to sea, it is pulling material and work crews from two other carriers undergoing their own long-planned refit and repair availabilities, though Navy officials say they don’t expect the Truman’s problems to affect those other repair efforts. As it sits pier-side in Norfolk, the Truman has plenty of company, joining an already crowded Norfolk waterfront where six of the Navy’s 11 carriers are currently tied up. At the time we’re going to print that means not one of the six carriers based in Norfolk are ready to be deployed.

    One congressional staffer familiar with Navy issues called the fact that there are so many ships at Norfolk at the same time “unusual,” but said this has happened before. “How much of an issue this will be operationally will depend on how long the situation lasts,” the staffer said.

    Normally, six carriers are based in Norfolk. Four are based on the West Coast, with two based in San Diego and two in Bremerton, Wash. The final carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, is the only carrier based outside of the United States, in Yokosuka, Japan.

    It’s unclear how long the Truman will be out of commission, but early estimates that it would be ready by the end of November might be too optimistic, according to a person familiar with the issue.

    The Navy is “very concerned” about the Truman, Adm. Robert Burke, vice chief of naval operations said Friday at the annual Military Reporters and Editors conference. “Truman is on a good path to recovery, I think the engineers have done a fantastic job at troubleshooting a very unique problem, and correcting it.” Burke estimated the ship will be ready in “weeks, not months,” but didn’t elaborate.

    Chris Miner, vice president for in-service aircraft carriers at Newport News Shipbuilding — a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, which is doing the repair work on all of the carriers — told me that in order to get the Truman up and running, the company has “pulled some material” off the carrier USS George Washington “so they can get [Truman] fixed.”

    The Truman’s challenges are one symptom of a larger problem — the Navy is finding it increasingly difficult to deploy carriers and keep them on station as the Pentagon says it is working to meet the challenges of two peer competitors, China and Russia. Beijing in particular is rapidly modernizing its navy, including building several aircraft carriers and new classes of destroyers.

    Navy Secretary Richard Spencer noted the emerging challenges last week when he sharply criticized one of the most knowledgeable House members on Navy issues, Rep. Elaine Luria, for pointing out how many carriers are available and questioning work on the Ford class of carriers, this is beginning to attract congressional attention.

    “Leaders in Congress who make disparaging comments against a platform [for which] we’re developing new technologies — you could not ask for a better disinformation program for our competitors,” Spencer said Wednesday at the Brookings Institution. “And I truly mean that.”

    Carrier Status


    The Truman’s issues are being felt through the 11 carrier fleet.

    The USS George HW Bush pulled into Norfolk in February for a 28-month overhaul that will keep it off the high seas until the early 2020s. But Huntington Ingalls says it has moved a handful of workers assigned to the overhaul to the Truman, amid “some concern about pulling those folks over to go do that work,” according to Miner. “We’re taking a look to see if there is any opportunity to help [the Navy] out, we don’t want to have an impact” on work on the Bush. “We’re doing whatever they need us to do to help them.”

    A Navy spokesperson told me in an emailed statement Monday the service “does not expect any delays to other ships due to the restoration work aboard HARRY S. TRUMAN.”

    Earlier this month, the USS George Washington was put back in the water as part of its mid-life refueling and overhaul, which has been underway since 2017. Work is more than halfway complete, and the ship should be ready in late 2021. Huntington has also “pulled some material” off the Washington to assist the Truman, according to the company.

    Any slip in the Washington’s schedule would be bad news for the USS John C. Stennis, which pulled into Norfolk in May to begin its own years-long mid-life refueling, but will have to perform other tasks along the East Coast while waiting for Washington to make room in dry dock.

    As the Washington is finishing up, the Bush is working through its overhaul, and the Stennis waits to begin hers, Huntington’s Newport News shipyard is looking at “one of our largest overlaps” in years, Miner said. “There’s some challenges that we’re working through” he added, “we’ve had some overlap in the past but nothing quite like this…it’s nothing we can’t overcome.”

    According to information from the Navy, here’s the state of play for the Norfolk carrier fleet:



    • USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) – has completed the Basic Phase of the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP) and is progressing normally through training to be deployable.
    • USS George Washington (CVN 73) – in Maintenance Phase undergoing a Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding.
    • USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) – at the end of OFRP, supporting operations off the East Coast; slated for RCOH.
    • USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) – in Sustainment Phase; repair efforts for an electrical issue are underway to restore the ship to its full capability in order to deploy the ship and its air wing as soon as possible.
    • USS George HW Bush (CVN 77) – Maintenance Phase.
    • USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) – New construction, undergoing testing.


    SecNav Lets Loose


    That effort to get multiple carriers through their lengthy and complex overhauls comes as Navy Secretary Spencer is publicly slamming Huntington Ingalls over delays in deploying the Navy’s next-class carrier, the $13 billion USS Gerald R. Ford.

    “Faith and confidence of senior management” at Huntington “when it comes to this project is very, very low,” Spencer said Wednesday at the Brookings Institution.

    Originally slated to be ready to sail in 2018, the Ford isn’t expected to deploy until the early 2020s, something Spencer laid squarely at the feet of Huntington for not getting critical systems to work on schedule, and Congress for failing to pass budgets on time. The ship did leave port on Friday for a new round of sea trials, which were originally scheduled to take place in July. The delay came after engineers were unable to get the ship’s new electromagnetic weapons elevators to work, after the Navy and Huntington Ingalls installed the new technology without first testing it on land.

    By the time Ford left the dock, only four of its 11 weapons elevators were working, a black eye for Spencer after he boasted of telling President Trump that he could fire him if all eleven weren’t up and running by the time the ship leaves port. Spencer visited the ship at sea over the weekend to check on its progress.

    After Spencer criticized Rep. Luria last week over her pointed questions to Navy leadership over the problem getting carriers out to sea, Luria shot back, “I find it disappointing that the Secretary finds Congressional oversight disparaging.”

    In a statement released after the hearing, Rep. John Garamendi, chairman of the House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee, backed Luria. “I applaud Congresswoman Luria for conducting appropriate oversight of the matter and working to improve processes. Secretary Spencer’s comments were unwarranted and contrary to the important constitutional obligation Congress has to conduct oversight.”

    Speaking with reporters Friday, Navy Undersecretary Thomas Modly admitted to “frustrations we have with industry,” but added, “we as a Navy and Department of Defense have a lot to be held accountable for with the Ford, but what the secretary is trying to say is the Navy that gets blamed for this and there’s a shared responsibility,” with Congress and industry. “I know all the people at Newport News are doing everything they can, but they’ve struggled” with the program.

    Some Movement

    With questions swirling around Truman, and the Stennis just off a long deployment and likely unable to undertake another given the need for repair and refueling its nuclear core, the ship closest to deploying is the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which earlier this month wrapped up its last round of pre-deployment testing, including drills on the ship’s ability to integrate with other ships within a carrier strike group. But the ship still has to run through a Composite Unit Training Exercise, meaning it is weeks or months from deploying.

    One carrier crew that is looking for some help is the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is at the end of its planned seven-month deployment and is currently in the North Arabian Sea supporting Central Command. Slated to return to San Diego by the end of the month, the ship, as of Wednesday, was still operating in the Middle East, fueling speculation that it will remain deployed until a replacement arrives.

    While the US might be in a carrier crunch, it won’t last forever. The Ford will deploy in a few years, followed closely by the second in the Ford-class, the USS John F. Kennedy. To help patch any holes there might be in future carrier coverage and provide more ships that carry aircraft, the Navy and Marine Corps are rapidly warming to the concept of a “lightning carrier” concept, designed to pack amphibious ships with Marine Corps’ F-35Bs and sail them to the hotspots to cover places the big decks aren’t.


    For example, the USS America (not a carrier to the Navy) was recently photographed sailing in the Pacific with 13 F-35s on its deck, something that the services want to do more of as the so-called Gator Navy reinforces more decks to handle the fifth generation fighter. The Marines and Navy are working on a new strategy to more closely align operations, which would allow both to provide more punch, and give the Marines the ability to launch from both ships, and small, ad-hoc bases on land to support the fleet.

    In addition, the British Royal Navy will soon boast two new F-35-capable aircraft carriers, allowing the UK to take some of the load off the US Navy in keeping carriers sailing in as many places as possible.

    For the moment, however, the Navy’s 10 big deck carriers are carrying the load, and the price of two decades of long, punishing deployments, along with a holiday from carrier construction, has caught up with it.

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    Pentagon Proposal Cuts An FFG(X) And An Attack Submarine Out Of The Budget

    December 25, 2019

    A small but potentially significant change in the Pentagon’s five-year budget projection slows down the buying profile for the U.S. Navy’s new frigate, which is expected to be awarded in 2020, according to a memo from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to the Department of Defense obtained by Defense News.

    The Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan submitted to Congress with the 2020 budget showed the Navy planned to buy one FFG(X) in 2020, then it had planned to buy two every year until 2030, when it would buy the last of the planned 20-ship program. That would mean the next future-year defense program, or FYDP, in the 2021 budget would be for 10 FFG(X).

    But the Dec. 16 memo from OMB, which responded to the Navy’s submitted budget, shows the service planning to request just one FFG(X) in 2021 and 2022. Then the buy jumps to two per year 2023 and 2024 and increases to three in 2024, the last year of the FYDP.

    The proposal also cuts a Virginia-class submarine out of the budget. The 30-year shipbuilding plan shows two attack submarines per year through the next decade, but the OMB memo shows the Navy requesting just one in 2021, before returning to the two-per-year profile for the remainder of the FYDP. The single FY21 Virginia-class submarine, which is planned as an expanded Virginia Payload Module Block V submarine, is listed at $3.86 billion.

    The reason for the change is not addressed in the memo and a Navy spokesman declined to comment on the substance of the memo, citing a Navy policy not to comment on budget matters before they are finalized and sent to Congress. And while the pushing off a single FFG(X) and Virginia to later years isn’t much cause for alarm, the Pentagon proposal does come packaged with a dramatic series of other cuts to both current Navy force structure and planned ship construction.

    The surface Navy and experts see the FFG(X) as a vital program to put credible weapons systems and sensors on a small, less expensive platform that the Navy can buy more of than the current fleet of destroyers, which cost nearly $2 billion per hull. The memo shows the unit cost of an FFG(X) at $955 million per hull. More ships to act as nodes in a spread-out, or “distributed” network of ships and sensors, is key to making the Navy distributed maritime operations concept work.

    The FFG(X) is also key to the drive toward a 355-ship Navy, which the Trump Administration has signaled is a priority. Indeed, the memo from OMB directs the Pentagon to submit a “resource informed” plan to get to 355 ships, which is current national policy. The memo says the Navy should come back with a plan to include unmanned vessels such as its planned Large Unmanned Surface Vessel in the ship count.

    Still, the FFG(X) and Virginia programs fared better than others. the. The same proposal cut five of the planned 12 Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers out of the budget, and essentially directs the Navy to cancel its Common Hull Auxiliary Multi-Mission Platform program. The proposal also accelerated the decommissioning of three dock landing ships and four cruisers, as well as the first four littoral combat ships.

    A Trump Administration source pointed the finger at the Office of the Secretary of Defense for the cuts, saying the Navy and OMB are on board for 355 ships.


    Above is a screengrab of the 2021 shipbuilding tables from a Defense Department Proposal that include dramatic cuts from the Navy's 2020 30-year shipbuilding plan. (Source: White House Office of Management and Budget memo)

    Getting Smaller


    The Navy sees the push to get smaller, enabled by smaller platforms such as LUSV and FFG(X), as vital to the drive to grow the fleet and take on competitors such as China and Russia.

    In that light the proposal to deemphasize the Flight III DDG in the FYDP is less surprising. It’s a move the Navy began signaling early last year.

    “Today, I have a requirement for 104 large surface combatants in the force structure assessment; I have 52 small surface combatants,” said former Surface Warfare Director Rear Adm. Ronald Boxall. “That’s a little upside down. Should I push out here and have more small platforms? I think the future fleet architecture study has intimated ‘yes,’ and our war gaming shows there is value in that.”

    The paradigm shift is moving the fleet away from platforms like the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers — enormous, tightly packed ships bristling with capabilities, weapons and sensors, but enormously expensive to build, maintain and upgrade.

    “It’s a shift in mindset that says, instead of putting as much stuff on the ship for as much money as I have, you start thinking in a different way,” Boxall said in an interview with Defense News in January. “You start saying: ‘How small can my platform be to get everything I need to be on it?’

    “We want everything to be only as big as it needs to be. You make it smaller and more distributable, given all dollars being about equal. And when I look at the force, I think: ‘Where can we use unmanned so that I can push it to a smaller platform?’”

    ‘It’s Unavoidable’

    But part of getting smaller is out of necessity: The service is on the hook for an enormous modernization bill for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, something Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said at a recent forum will remain the Navy’s top priority no matter the consequences to the rest of the shipbuilding budget.

    “The Navy’s first acquisition priority is recapitalizing our Strategic Nuclear Deterrent — Electric Boat is helping us do just that,” Gilday said. “Together, we will continue to drive affordability, technology development, and integration efforts to support Columbia’s fleet introduction on time or earlier.”


    A rendering of the future ballistic missile submarine Columbia, the first of a 12-ship class of SSBNs. (Navy)

    The service has been driving toward fielding the Columbia’s lead ship by 2031, in time for its first scheduled deployment. Construction of the first boat will begin in October 2020, though the Navy has been working on components and design for years.

    In comments at a recent forum, Gilday said that everything the Navy is trying to do to reinvent its force structure around a more distributed concept of operations — fighting more spread out instead of aggregated around an aircraft carrier — would have to be worked around the Columbia class, which will take up a major part of the service’s shipbuilding account in the years to come.

    “It’s unavoidable,” Gilday said, referring to the cost of Columbia. “If you go back to the ’80s when we were building Ohio, it was about 35 percent of the shipbuilding budget. Columbia will be about 38-40 percent of the shipbuilding budget.

    “The seaborne leg of the triad is absolutely critical. By the time we get the Columbia into the water, the Ohio class is going to be about 40 years old. And, so, we have to replace that strategic leg, and it has to come out of our budget right now. Those are the facts.”

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    US Air Force Eyes Budget-Conscious, Clean-Sheet Fighter Jet To Replace The F-16; May Cut F-35 Orders By 700

    February 18, 2021

    The U.S. Air Force could be in the market for a brand-new, advanced, fourth-generation fighter jet as it looks to replace its oldest F-16s, the service’s top general said Wednesday.

    The Air Force has started a study that will describe its preferred mix of fighters and other tactical aircraft that will be used to help build the fiscal year 2023 budget. That result could include a brand new “four-and-a half or fifth-gen minus” fighter with capabilities that fall somewhere in between the 1970s era F-16 and stealthy fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 and F-35 joint strike fighter, said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown.

    “If we have the capability to do something even more capable for cheaper and faster, why not? Let’s not just buy off the shelf, let’s actually take a look at something else out there that we can build,” Brown told reporters during a Defense Writers Group roundtable.

    Brown’s comments are the first time an Air Force official has spoken about introducing another fourth-generation aircraft into the service’s fighter inventory. In January, former Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper disclosed that the service’s ongoing study will also weigh whether to buy new-build F-16s from Lockheed Martin.

    “As you look at the new F-16 production line in South Carolina, that system has some wonderful upgraded capabilities that are worth thinking about as part of our capacity solution,” Roper told Aviation Week.

    But Brown said he is still yet to be convinced that the F-16 is the right option.

    “I don’t know that it actually would be the F-16. Actually, I want to be able to build something new and different that’s not the F-16 — that has some of those capabilities, but gets there faster and features a digital approach,” he said. “I realize that folks have alluded that it will be a particular airplane. But I’m open to looking at other platforms to see what that right force mix is.”

    So what capabilities would this new clean-sheet aircraft have?

    At the top of the list, Brown said, is an open mission systems with a computing system powerful enough that software code can be updated very quickly.

    Brown also pointed to the approach the Air Force has taken with Boeing’s T-7A Red Hawk trainer and its secretive future fighter, known as Next Generation Air Dominance. Both aircraft have been designed using digital engineering practices, which have allowed the service to model the lifecycle of various designs and rapidly get full-scale demonstrators ready for flight tests.

    “And so the question is, what is the son of NGAD?” he said.

    The ongoing study will include modeling, simulation and analysis aimed at nailing down the right mix of aircraft, what capabilities they each have and how many of each type are needed in order to ensure the Air Force can be successful in future conflicts.

    Although the Air Force is currently conducting the study without input from outside organizations, Brown said he would like to involve the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, an influential organization inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense that often pushes against service budget decisions and advocates lower-cost solutions.

    “I can make a recommendation, but I don’t actually have the final vote because, again, I have to work with OSD and with the Congress. But that’s why the analysis to me is important and a dialogue is important,” he said.

    Investing in another fighter type could be a hard sell for the Air Force to make to Congress, particularly with several fighters already in production.

    The Air Force has not officially deviated from plans to buy 1,763 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing jets from Lockheed over its program of record, although internal documents from the Air Force’s future warfighting cell have indicated a plan to curb orders at 1,050 jets, Aviation Week reported in December.

    Last year, the service placed its first order for Boeing F-15EX jets to replacing aging F-15C/Ds, and could buy more than 144 of the new planes. The first F-15EX completed its inaugural flight earlier this month.

    Meanwhile, Lockheed’s F-16 line has pivoted to international sales since its move to Greenville, South Carolina, in 2019.

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    Default Re: Obama, Now Biden, Guts the Military


    U.S. Navy Punts on Building a Fleet To Compete With China

    June 17, 2021

    The Navy budget proposal released last month seems an exercise in cognitive dissonance. Not only does it fail to acknowledge the obvious dangers of the present day, it further defers making good on long-overdue commitments to meet the threats of tomorrow.

    Take a look around. Russia recently conducted large naval drills around Ukraine. Chinese aircraft and warships are busily trying to intimidate Taiwan and bully Philippine fishermen in the South China Sea. All the while, Beijing assiduously has been expanding its navy at breakneck pace.

    To meet these aggressive Chinese and Russian behaviors, the United States should push to recapitalize its naval infrastructure, invigorate lackluster shipbuilding, and build needed end-strength. Unfortunately, the Navy budget proposed by the Biden administration does none of this. Instead, it shunts money from the field to the lab (R&D increases 12 percent over last year while overall procurement drops 8 percent) and busies itself with re-education.

    The president’s proposal disappoints on several counts, starting with shipbuilding.

    Last year, the Navy sought and got Congressional authority to make a cost-saving block buy of four amphibious ships. Instead of honoring that commitment, the proposed budget would purchase none of those ships—a move that would further complicate the shipbuilding industry’s efforts to remain solvent and undermine good faith with Congress.

    Overall, this budget proposes a $2 billion cut to warship construction. The Navy was already struggling to meet the Obama-era goal, supported by President Trump, of building a 355-ship fleet by 2034. It today has only 296 warships instead of the scheduled 308. The proposed cut would put the re-building program even further behind. [Note: The Biden administration has yet to make clear its position on fleet size. Congress, however, still has as policy the earlier 355-ship goal. (See Sec. 1025 of the 2018 defense authorization act.)

    The budget also inexplicably cuts sailors, reducing manpower by 1,600 even though the end-strength must grow by 27,712 to man the 355-ship fleet. Yet, the same week the administration proposed these cuts, the Government Accountability Office reported that persistent crew manning shortfalls—as high as 15 percent on some ships—was producing widespread crew fatigue. Fatigue was a contributing factor to two fatal collisions in 2017.

    At a time when inflation is surging above four percent, the administration proposes a paltry 2.7 percent pay raise. This would surely compound the difficulty of attracting people to the Navy—especially when you consider that we will need additional sailors to man a larger fleet by 2034.

    The training budget is also problematic. It prioritizes sexual assault prevention training—a noble effort, but one that has thus far not succeeded in producing the desired results. Moreover, while it boosts the budget for sexual assault prevention and response, or SAPR, by $47 million, it shrinks higher education and entry level programs, such as the Reserve Officer Training Program, by $391 million.

    And, it misses an opportunity to bring back BOOST—Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection Training—as recommended in the February 3, 2021, Task Force One Navy report, to improve accession of minority and underserved recruits who want to become naval officers.

    Nothing in the proposed education and training budget indicates how the Navy will go about building a better understanding of the China threat with less resources—another instance of cognitive dissonance. After all, the Chief of Naval Operations’ January 2021 NAVPLAN states, “Our Naval Education Enterprise will incorporate more instruction about our adversaries into our professional military education curriculum.”

    A rare area of increased funding is research and development, where the administration proposes $2.5 billion in new monies, a 12 percent increase over 2021. But this increase comes with no guarantee of delivery of weapons or platforms in the near-term—or ever.


    In short, the administration is doubling down on its bet that conflict will wait until sometime in the distant future. Yet all indications are that conflict is a scant few years away. Certainly that was the testimony of the current and last Indo-Pacific Commanders to the Senate Armed Services Committee this March.

    Shipbuilding, recruitment, and training are long-lead elements of naval power. This budget delays tackling those challenges and turns a blind eye to the danger posed by China’s rapidly growing fleet of over 360 warships. The Navy’s false choice of investing in future capability misses the reality facing it today. America must invest in both growing today’s fleet in numbers and staying ahead of our competitors’ technologies.

    Our national security demands that we sustain our critical network of allies and compete with China and Russia. The administration’s proposed Navy budget does neither. Let us hope Congress will act more responsibly and deliver a budget that responds to current challenges and the dangers ahead.

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    Default Re: Obama, Now Biden, Guts the Military


    America And Its Allies Are Unprepared For The Next Great War

    May 10, 2021

    Do the Biden administration and the Democratic majority in Congress believe that America’s major competitors are willing to wait for the United States to sort out its domestic problems before ensuring the country has a military capable of defending its interests? That’s the impression one gets from following the money.

    The administration has proposed a 1.7 percent increase in defense spending for 2022, which is not enough to offset inflation. Meanwhile, it’s asking for a 16 percent hike in domestic spending. That comes on top of the nearly $3 trillion in new spending pushed through since November, ostensibly to offset the costs of the coronavirus pandemic.

    And there’s at least another $2 trillion up for consideration in the weeks ahead. The American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan would “gift” us with national child care, paid family leave, tuition-free college, health insurance subsidies, universal preschool, electric vehicle charging stations, electric school buses, and more . . . all to be paid for by the federal government (i.e., the U.S. taxpayer). That’s a lot of money being committed to domestic programs, but very little to address the very real external threats that could spell the end of America.

    The Left loves to talk of “demilitarizing” U.S. foreign policy. Perhaps they believe that diplomatic finesse will buy the time necessary to prepare for war, should it become necessary, or that the United States and its allies will have the opportunity to replay a conflict if the first go doesn’t work out as desired.

    Of course, there’s no “best two-out-of-three” when it comes to war between countries. If China and the United States were to go to war over Taiwan, for example, and China was to win, it’s unlikely Beijing would agree to give the United States time to catch its breath, regroup, and then have at it a second time. The same could be said for the United States confronting Iran if it attacked Israel or standing against Russia if it decided to cut off our Baltic allies from the rest of Europe.

    You are either ready for the fight or you aren’t. And if you aren’t ready, there are no alternatives to compensate for military failure.

    Contrast that with the business world. Companies rise and fall all the time, but failures have a minimal impact beyond those immediately involved. Other companies step in, out-of-work employees find new jobs, and customers take their business elsewhere. Not to make light of such things, but in the big scheme of things, the market adjusts and life goes on.

    We see this in almost all areas of life: sports, churches, politicians, people suffering private losses even as they enjoy personal gains. The point here is that there are always alternatives to restart in private life and in business. Failure for one person or business doesn’t mean failure for the entire population or business sector. These losses are limited in scope, and they don’t threaten the very existence of the larger community.

    It’s profoundly different when it comes to war, where an entire country, its people, and their lives and livelihoods hang in the balance. A strong military strengthens diplomacy, secures economic ties, constrains potential enemies, and enhances the wellbeing of citizens. Shortchange the military, and you accept additional risk in all of these areas.

    Not to say military spending should be unrestrained. It, too, has context and bounds. Assessing how much military power is needed is a matter of identifying what your true interests are, the dangers that threaten, and what it actually takes to address those dangers. It might be that three strong men and an angry dog suffice if one’s enemy is small and weak. But against a major foe, armed with substantial military power and a willingness to use that power to achieve its own objectives, one needs quite a bit more force in numbers, modernity, and readiness.

    The condition of today’s U.S. military is worrisome. It’s not that U.S. warriors lack will or skill, but most of their tools (ships, aircraft, tanks, and such) are old and deficient in numbers. Most major equipment was bought in the 1980s and 1990s. The Navy has shrunk to nearly half the size it was thirty years ago, while the Air Force’s flight time for its pilots would have made them non-deployable during the Cold War. The Army has made substantial progress with the readiness of its units, but it simply doesn’t have enough units to do all that may be asked to do. The same goes for the Marine Corps, which has opted to shrink in size to free up the money needed to develop the capabilities it will need for the next war.

    None of this would be a problem if the United States wasn’t faced with significant threats, but it is. Competitors have spent the past twenty years investing in their militaries with new equipment, cutting-edge technologies, and serious force development witnessed in their training exercises and new skills.

    Meanwhile, U.S. allies have allowed their militaries to wither to the point that they have little ability to help in a major crisis. For example, Britain recently announced that it will reorganize its military to favor cyber, space, and special operations, leaving it with the smallest army since 1714 and a navy that possesses a mere seventeen warships.

    Near the end of the Cold War, West Germany fielded five thousand main battle tanks to check the threat from the East. Today, it has fewer than three hundred. Neither Germany nor France has the ability to sustain air operations without the support of U.S. aerial refueling or munitions inventories.


    We can bemoan these circumstances, but the fact remains that, in the event of a major conflict, America would pretty much have to rely on its own military sources—and what it has to rely on is a shadow of what it had when last it faced challenges on a global scale.

    Politicians who argue for limiting defense spending—already too low to support the military we need—so they can spend more on domestic priorities establish an equivalency between spending on the security of the country and spending on farm subsidies or tax incentives for alternative energy companies.

    Less federal spending on a host of domestic matters can always be offset by market options where our economy, the entrepreneurial spirit of our people, and the power of local communities step in to provide alternatives.

    But when it comes to the defense of the country, there are no alternatives. The U.S. military either has the size, readiness, and equipment it needs to win in war, or it doesn’t. The consequences, in either case, are extraordinary.

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    Default Re: Obama, Now Biden, Guts the Military


    The Looming National Defense Crisis No One Is Talking About

    October 15, 2021

    There is no lack of U.S. national defense challenges.

    China continues to modernize and expand its military, routinely using its burgeoning might to intimidate its neighbors—most recently with massive aircraft incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone.

    Meanwhile, President Biden has proposed a defense budget that doesn’t even keep pace with inflation and cuts the military by 5,000 people.

    Analysts worry the U.S. is falling behind in such key military technologies as hypersonic missiles, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Additionally, the disastrous departure from Afghanistan has raised concerns that the country may once more become a hothouse for global terrorism.

    But the biggest challenge might be the one that nobody is talking about: The Pentagon’s difficulty in attracting enough qualified volunteers to serve in the armed forces.

    If you thought it would be easy for a nation of 330 million people to attract 160,000 volunteers annually, you would be wrong.

    The Army missed its recruiting goal in 2018 and has since struggled, and other services are experiencing difficulties too. And odds are that recruiting will get even more difficult in the coming years, to the point where the military may consistently fail to meet its goals.

    To get a sense of future recruiting difficulty, analysts look at trends pertaining to demographics, the economy, disqualifying factors, veteran influence, future value of incentives and the public’s view of military service.

    Spoiler alert: Every one of these indicators is either trending negatively or remains stagnant.


    The key age bracket for recruits—18-24 years old—is projected to remain constant, hovering around 31 million through 2040, while the overall U.S. population grows, mostly in older age segments. As America ages, the opportunities for young people will make military service less attractive.

    Increased unemployment normally leads to greater recruiting success, but economists forecast a gradual return to historic low unemployment, offering no relief for recruiting efforts.

    Exposure to veterans has been linked to a greater propensity for individuals to volunteer, but the number of veterans in the U.S. population is projected to decrease by 1.7% per year, declining 17% from now to 2030.

    As for disqualifying factors, youth obesity is projected to hit 24.2% by 2030, and the mental illness rate among youth hit 26.3% in 2018 and is expected to climb further. This further diminishes the pool of individuals qualified to serve in the military.

    But there’s more.

    The public’s confidence in the military—usually very high—has been slipping, dropping nine percentage points in the last decade. The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan will probably accelerate that trend.

    Every year, more high school students go directly to college. Assuming that trend continues, fewer individuals will be available to join the military after high school.

    Finally, one of the main incentives used to motivate individuals to join the military, the GI Bill, which provides tuition for college, will be diminished in value if progressives in Congress get their wishes to make community college free and to forgive student debt.

    Thus far, the Defense Department has chosen to view this issue through a narrow year-to-year lens, furiously manipulating bonuses, incentive programs, and the number of recruiters to achieve annual goals while failing to recognize the problem is getting harder each year.

    Further, because each military service is expected to solve, on its own, what is legitimately an all-service, national problem, progress is slow and fragmented.

    Fortunately, there are solutions if America approaches this issue seriously. By acting to reverse trends that are disqualifying youth from serving, reimagining existing recruiting tools, and engaging America’s youth earlier and in a more comprehensive manner, we can avoid this problem and preserve America’s national security.

    Congress and the executive branch can choose to do nothing and wait till this is a full-blown crisis, or they can begin now to prepare America for what promises to be an increasingly dangerous and challenging future.

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