Monday, February 24, 2014

Feb 24, 2014

U.S. Air Force

Historically during times of war, the military grows due to increased spending but a downsizing inevitably follows.  The USAF is facing not only a crisis of downsizing but trying to keep its future alive.  Legacy systems (other than the B-52 and KC-135) will be phased out to make the budgetary room for the F-35 fighter and new KC-46 tanker.  Drones will replace legacy aircraft in roles such as reconnaissance/surveillance and close air support but many of these missions will be assumed by fewer aircraft (such as the F-35 and C-130J).

To this end, AF Secretary Deborah Lee James said, "...try to heal the problems that have arisen within the Total Force in recent years and "make sure we get it right."  That's another way of saying the old canard "right-sizing" which always meant larger cuts to the Reserve components (and here I am only speaking about the USAF, USAFR and ANG).  The Reserves and ANG has smaller fleets and organizations to begin with so when they are "right-sized" the reductions take a more significant impact to those units and personnel.

In an attempt to avoid this, the Secretary made the following statement at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, "The upcoming Fiscal 2015 Air Force budget will see "a greater reliance" on the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, service Secretary Deborah Lee James told attendees at AFA's Air Warfare Symposium here Friday. James could not give specifics until the budget is released March 4, but she forecast a new scheme, based to a degree on the findings of the congressionally mandated National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force report, which sought "a greater collaboration" between the Active, Guard, and Reserve."  AFA Magazine

The USAF will need to reduce its end-strength by 25,000 over the next 5 fiscal years.  Reduction in Force (RIFs) or involuntary separations are not off the table.  In an already poor job market, tens of thousands of USAF veterans will be adding to those from the other services looking for jobs.  One of the ways being discussed by the Air Force structure commission is the elimination of the Air Force Reserve Command and its numbered air forces and organizations below.

Make no mistake, the recommendation is not about force savings but about elimination another challenge to the USAF supremacy.  USAF leaders have wanted to eliminate the ANG in the past but can't without incurring the wrath of the governors.  The Air Force Reserves don't enjoy the same protections and the USAF can easily eliminate their headquarters. (Beware Army Reserves, I'm sure the active duty Army leadership is watching this closely).

The roll-out of a new enlisted performance review seems ill-timed.  Somehow, AF leadership is convinced that a new revamped system will overcome the inflated ratings.  Bull!  During my career, I saw the appraisal system for both officers and enlisted revamped 3 or 4 times.  The results were always the same, over-inflation.  Why the AF simply can't have a "pass/fail" system ratings scheme has always alluded me because regardless of the rating system, it inevitably boils down to "go/no-go".

The time is suspect though given all of the news of budget cuts and drawdowns.  It seems like just another way of reducing the force through paper.

Shock Treatment

Apparently the Air Force is looking to use mild electric shocks to keep drone operators awake.

"According to the results of one recent experiment, in which several drone operator volunteers were kept awake for 30 consecutive hours, the electric shocks are “better” than caffeine. There’s no jitters and no “crash” like when caffeine wears out. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, subjects performed twice as well as those who relied on their natural brain power."

If other stimulants cause dependency, isn't electrical shocks essentially doing the same thing?  The effects of this notwithstanding, I see drone operators being replaced by some type of robot in the very near future.  The lack of external stimuli for the operators during long missions must make it unbelievably boring and monotonous.  Mistakes and errors in judgement are bound to happen.  Robots are making their case and war got just a little more anonymous.


The Olympics went off without any terrorist incidents making the news.  At the same time, Ukraine has completely unraveled with the US admonishing Moscow not to interfere.

     National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned that it "would be a grave mistake" if Putin intervened militarily in the crisis. "The United States is on the side of the Ukrainian people," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press." The people expressed themselves peacefully, she said, and Yanukovych "turned on" the people by using violence against them.  CNN


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