Tuesday, July 23, 2013

VFW National Convention:Distinguished Guests,Sobering News

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Louisville,Kentucky Tuesday morning.Hagel,a double Purple Heart recipient and enlisted man Vietnam veteran,took note of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice on July 27.It's an opportunity for the country to fully express its gratitude for your service and sacrifice,Secretary Hagel said. I grew up in small towns in Nebraska,where life revolved around the VFW and American Legion posts.I've been a VFW member for 45 years since I came home from Vietnam in 1968. The US is emerging from the longest period of sustained combat in our history in Iraq and Afghanistan.The world is complicated,and it's dangerous.America must have a strong,capable and ready military,but fulfilling that obligation will require us to realign and reshape in difficult budgetary times,prioritising our core mission of defending our country;maximising our combat power;and taking care of our military men and women past and present. The Department of Defense must set clear priorities within the sequestration realities of the largest reduction since the post-Korea drawdown.Sequestration is an irresponsible process and it is terribly damaging,but we cannot lead the DOD based on hope.We have to prepare an institution for whatever comes.Many DOD missions and capabilities are essential,but others are not. The President must be assured that the options we present to him are ready and real.In an era of reduced resources,every dollar we spend on large staffs and overhead are dollars not spent on our troops.If we are to preserve out decisive miltary edge,we must find savings everywhere in our budget.I expect these cuts to result in organisations that are more efficient and agile-but it will require far more than cuts. We've had to reduce,stop and defer training,maintenance and modernisation.These cuts have had,and are continuing to have,very damaging effects such as a shortage of training rounds;planes are not flying;ships are not sailing.Unfortunately,military readiness does not always have a vocal constituency,and you cannot buy back readiness.There is a cost in precious human lives to sending out a hollow force. DOD is not a corporation,and cannot be run like one.The cost of our decisions is how they have a real effect on human lives. Our people are under stress,and so are the institutions that support them.Our people have been pushed to,and beyond,the breaking point.They must have the same care at home they had on the battlefield.DOD and the VA are building a seamless system to ensure our veterans never again encounter the problems they are having now.We're making good progress;we're committed to do it.We will get through this,but only if we're prepared to make wise and difficult decisions,Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Also present at the VFW convention was US Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp,Jr.He received a VFW medal for his service and presented the organisation with a cheque for his own VFW membership dues.Admiral Papp cited the Coast Guard's history of bravery under fire as the nation's fifth member of the Armed Forces.Coast Guard members have received the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.It has 1700 of its men and women currently deployed overseas in Afghansitan,Kuwait,Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.The Coast Guard patrol boat squadron in Bahrain is securing the Northern Arabian Gulf,Admiral Papp noted.A Coast Guardsman was killed in 2004 by a terrorist bomb as he served alongside US Navy Sailors in a boarding party in the region.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Reagan Era B-1B Still Relevant Today

A US Air Force bomber first envisioned in the 1960s and produced in the 1980s,the Rockwell B-1B Lancer,saved from oblivion by President Ronald Reagan,remains an integral part of US Strategic Command,and will be for decades.Highly controversial for its cost and questions about its utility early in its life,it has proved much more valuable than many ever thought it would be. Indeed,the B-1B is the only supersonic bomber in the US inventory today,with the biggest payload.What is more,it is the cheapest to fly,even given the extensive maintenance and upgrades it requires. Capable of flying at Mach 1.25 at altitude,or 950 mph/1130 kmh,it was originally solely a nuclear bomber.By the 1990s,it had been given a conventional role as well.In 1995,it was removed from the nuclear forces. Though not technically a stealth aircraft,it is about fifty times less detectable than the ancient B-52 and features variable-sweep wings.Forward sweep is for takeoff,landing and high altitude maximum cruise.Aft sweep is for high subsonic and supersonic flight. The Lancer is still getting upgrades to its cockpit displays,communications and instrumentation.It holds 61 world records for such things as speed,payload,distance and climb rate.It can strike anywhere in the world and safely return to a broad variety of bases without refueling.Extensive electronic countermeasures,reflective coating and stealthy intake design make it highly survivable. The B-1B has been extensively used for missions in the Iraq and Afghan Wars,as well as in Operation Odyssey Dawn over Libya in 2011;Operation Desert Fox in 1998;and Kosovo in 1999.In the Afghan War,it has been used in an armed overwatch capacity,loitering in flight until tasked by ground forces for precision strike with advanced munitions. The Air Force intends to fly the Lancer into the 2030s,gradually replacing it with the Next-Generation Bomber.It believes the B-1B is particularly well-suited for the new Pivot to East Asia strategy,given its long range,speed and survivability.It will continue to invest in this reliable aircraft in support of Pacific and other strategic objectives.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

US Marine,Canadian RAF Firefighters Train Together

US Marine Corps Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Specialists trained with their Canadian Royal Air Force counterparts at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake,Alberta in Exercise Maple Flag 46.The annual Canadian RAF multinational air combat exercise provides Coalition forces the opportunity to learn how to work together and share best practices.
The Marine specialists assisted the Canadian RAF in fuel delivery and quality assurance,as well as supply,administration,communications and flightline support.Maple Flag 46 ran from 27 May to 21 June,2013.
In the course of the training,Marine and Canadian RAF personnel fought simulated aircraft and structure fires.The Marines were also on standby for any actual emergencies that might occur at Cold Lake.
Marine ARRF Sergeant Brad Alexander contrasted the Marine and Canadian RAF methods.While the Marines focus on speed and reaction time,they benefited from the Canadians' measured strategy.The Canadians don't run anywhere,but they move with a purpose.They get the mission done and they don't waste any time.They step back,look at the big picture,assess the situation and how to attack it
Sharing a crash barn,or fire staion,with the Canadians has been nothing but a positive experience,Sgt.Alexander said.
It was a valuable experience working with another country.The blending of strategies contributes to mission success.
Aircraft rescue and firefighting involves the response,hazard mitigation,evacuation and rescue of air crew and passengers in an air base ground emergency.There cannot be air combat without such support operations.