Friday, May 28, 2010

Waverider tops Mach 6 in historic test flight

Friday, May 28, 2010

An Air Force test vehicle, the X-51A Waverider, propelled by a Scramjet engine hurtled through the air at six times the speed of sound. According to reports, the craft was hypersonic for more than 3 minutes off the Southern California coast on Wednesday after being released from an airborne B-52 Stratofortress. [Air Force photo]

AFA Honors Fallen Patriots

On this Memorial Day, we take time to remember the patriots who have sacrificed life itself in the cause of freedom. Since our nation’s birth, there have always been patriots who answered the country’s call and gave their lives. Because of their dedication and sacrifice, millions of people across the world experience the great benefits of living in freedom. Today, we honor the lives of these heroes.

Our thoughts and prayers are with those among us who have lost a family member or friend in the nation’s service. As a nation, we cannot repay that sacrifice. We can remember these precious lives, and strive to devote ourselves to country and liberty.

Are you on Facebook? Join us!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Air Force Association's Facebook page is nearing 3,000 people. Join us! It's a great way to share your thoughts, learn the latest from AFA and find out what happened on this day in Air Force history.

Famed "Flags In" Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery

Friday, May 28, 2010

More than 1,500 service members took part in yesterday's "Flags In" ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Each year, the sacred ritual marks the beginning of Memorial Day weekend. Each one of the 350,000 white headstones is flanked by the Stars and Stripes.

Iran, Afghanistan, Russia

Friday, May 28, 2010
This week an excellent op-ed on Iran appeared in the Wall Street Journal. It was written by Warren Kozak (whose book -- LeMay: The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay is on both my and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force's reading list). In the op-ed, Mr. Kozak argues we should actually pay attention to what the Iranians are saying … and then believe them. You can find the piece at:

Secondly, George Will has written an intriguing piece he calls "The Civilianization of the US Military." In it, he argues that time is running out for our efforts in Afghanistan … and the best we can do is to convince enough of the Taliban to abandon the fight before we make the decision to abandon our efforts. You can find the piece at:

Thirdly, David Kramer has penned an op-ed which appeared in the Washington Post entitled: "Russia First" is becoming "Russia Only." In the piece, Mr. Kramer states the US has not only put Russia first, but has been "neglecting and even abandoning other countries in the region." You can find the piece at:

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Air sorties in Afghanistan through civilian eyes

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Here is an interesting look at a combat mission in Afghanistan, showing the complex expectations placed on U.S. Airmen in the fight.

Sometimes not firing can be tough. Pilots say it's hard to watch their fellow soldiers on the ground taking fire.

"We have to use restraint when it's tough," Col. Jack Briggs said. "We're listening to these kids on the ground, and they're taking fire."

Martha Raddatz of ABC News recounts her ride in an armed F-15 Eagle over Afghanistan, including what she heard on the radio as other fighters assisted ground forces, which were under fire. However, the jets, complying with U.S. policy of "Courageous Restraint," declined to use a bomb due to a school's proximity, but used machine gun fire.

"I request re-attack with one GBU, to the north 20 meters ... north to south ... one GBU, attacking 3-4-0," he yells.

"Negative, that is close to the building," we hear the lead F-15 reply. "The school to the south is too close for a GBU." The American crews of the fighter jets sound frustrated. "They sure are antsy to drop some bombs on friendlies," they say over the radio.

Her Reporter's Notebook entry includes video of the F-15, and a photo essay.

Special Memorial Day Ceremony at Air Force Memorial

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who have died in service to our nation.

This year we invite you to be part of the Air Force Association’s and the Air Force Sergeants Association’s commemorative Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony. Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Roy is the key note speaker. Cermeonies include the national anthem, invocation, special remarks, the laying of the wreath and the sounding of Taps. Please join us on Monday, May 31, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. at the national Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. Also there will be an opportunity available for individuals and organizations to lay smaller wreaths and/or flowers in memory of their loved ones, friends and organizational members. Come out and support your Air Force and all of the armed forces on this day of remembrance.

Learn more, or call or email the Air Force Memorial office, find online directions to the Air Force Memorial.

Largent briefs Missouri Legislators

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bob Largent, a member of AFA's grassroots Air Power Advocates, briefed the Missouri House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee. AFA works to highlight the ‘state of the Air Force’ to the American public and its decision makers. Joining Largent for the session at the Missouri State Capitol was Brig Gen Steve Cotter, Missouri Air National Guard; and Col Len D’Amico, 509th Ops Group Deputy Cdr, Whiteman Air Force Base, who highlighted their organizations’ contributions to the State of Missouri.

Photo, from left: Senator David Pierce; Representative Denny Hoskins; Bob Largent, Air Power Advocate (former Chairman of the Board for AFA); Brig Gen Stephen Cotter, Chief of Staff, Missouri Air National Guard; Col Leonard D’Amico, 509th Operations Group Deputy Commander, Whiteman AFB; and Representative Scott Largent, Vice Chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bomber Op-ed Response

I read with great interest the op-ed of General Elder, supporting the need for an advanced manned penetrating bomber. At this stage, I would postulate that what is needed is the development of an advanced long-range penetrating aircraft, which could be used as a bomber or to give the US many other capabilities from which we as a nation have not benefited. General Elder aptly makes the case for the bomber, although the B-52 strikes in Desert Storm were not the first strikes of the air campaign: they came after the Task Force Normandy helicopter assault against border radar sites (at H-hour minus 22 minutes), after the F-4 Wild Weasel attacks on surface-to-air missile sites (shortly before H-hour), after the F-117 attacks on command and control facilities in Bagdad (at H-hour), and after 18 F-15 Strike Eagles attacked fixed Scud launchers in western Iraq (a few minutes after H-hour). What he fails to mention is the ability to make surgical attacks deep in enemy territory without putting a bomb through the roof. I am, of course, referring to the ability to insert special operations forces clandestinely into target areas to achieve desired surgical results unobtainable through aerial bombing. Targets in this category include, but is not limited to, safe-havened targets, targets that may expel dangerous pollutants if exploded, certain cyber targets, the most hardened and deeply buried targets, hostage rescue situations, communications lines invisible to aerial sensors, etc. The Air Force has long acknowledged this need. The Jan 1996 AF Executive Guidance stated, “Long-range, low-observable transport aircraft will be required for special operations forces to accomplish missions in hostile territory by 2015.” The object of the SECAF and CSAF guidance was to start the research and development so we could have such an aircraft as an option to replace unsustainable Vietnam-era C-130s. The development of such an aircraft remained the number one priority of AFSOC (the MC-X or M-X) through the FY06 POM, when it became apparent that the R&D funding would not be forthcoming. Then, AFSOC ran out of time, and was left little alternative than to recapitalize the unsustainable aircraft with new and improved MC-130Js. These new aircraft are truly “Super Hercules,” with improved speed, avionics, cargo handling, maintainability, and several other performance features. But they are not low observable and will need tanker support to reach certain targets from some bases. This of course, suggests the other important capability that we’ve never enjoyed in our US defense arsenal: an advanced long-range manned penetrating tanker. If we employed such an aircraft today, many “too tough to handle” targets could be attacked with shorter range, but survivable, strike aircraft. So, the development of an advanced long-range penetrating aircraft is critical to give the Air Force the tools it needs for future war. Deciding on how to configure it can wait. So can the discussions on whether to glean the benefits in economies of scale by buying an initial robust force or merely seek a “silver bullet” approach. But we can no longer afford to wait to do the research and development of the aircraft. We cannot afford another M-X, where we have to wait another generation of aircraft to provide our warfighting commanders an already required capability.

Randy Durham, Lt Colonel, USAF (Ret)
Niceville, FL

Bomber, Spaceflight, START, U-2

Lt General (Ret) Bob Elder has written a thoughtful piece on the critical need for an advanced manned penetrating bomber. In it, Elder argues the bomber has the range, payload and persistence to hold an array of targets at risk. The present bomber fleet's oldest bombers are not scheduled to "age out" until 2040 which will make some of them almost 80 years old at that time. Further delaying R&D and the fielding of a new system presents too much risk for the nation. I agree with Gen Elder. If you look at a modern air campaign, there are about 15,000 aim points required to meet most political objectives. A robust bomber fleet – one that can penetrate modern air defenses and hit large numbers of targets on a single sortie – is invaluable. You can find the piece on our website at: Secondly, as we approach the end of the Space Shuttle program, I continually hear about the many unintended consequences on the industrial base for the cancellation of the shuttle's replacement program – which will result in higher costs for the Air Force and for industry as well as the loss of critical engineers and manufacturing sector jobs. One of our members, who asked to remain unnamed, penned a piece to try to help explain this issue. I commend it to you: . Thirdly, Sec Gates has published a thoughtful piece urging ratification of the new START treaty with Russia. In it he maintains the treaty reduces dangerous weapons, preserves critical defense capabilities, maintains strategic stability, and improves security for the American people. The piece can be found on our website at: Finally, I ran across a piece in the NY Times written by Cholene Espinoza, a former U-2 pilot. The piece is a softer one highlighting the many contributions of the Dragon Lady as it heads off soon to retirement. For those of you who have flown the U-2, the piece may bring back old memories. For those of us who admired the aircraft from afar, you should find it interesting. You can find the piece at:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Veterans' Issues

AFA Members, as some of you may know, I have the opportunity to appear quarterly in front of the House leadership to share concerns about the country's support of veterans (and I never miss these sessions). Attending these roundtable meetings are the leaders of all the major committees – the Speaker of the House, Chairmen of Armed Services, Budget, Veterans Affairs, Intelligence, and Milcon/VA Construction Committees – as well as many other Members of the House, myself and other veterans organizations' representatives.

I come prepared to offer remarks on a few issues – and increasingly, AFA's issues have been or are being addressed by the Congress. During the meeting last week, I planned to bring up 5 issues – but did not need to do so because they had been addressed by the Congressional leaders. They were:

Medicare reimbursements for doctors (and by extension TRICARE). There is a 21% gap, and Congress has routinely solved this year-by-year. Next week the House plans to pass legislation that would provide a permanent "waiver" to the appropriate legislation. The Speaker relayed that the Senate would enact similar legislation for a period of 5 years. It will remain to be seen what compromise will be forged between the two bodies.

Post 9/11 GI Bill. Presently the bill needs tweaking in a number of areas – address the convoluted tuition and fee system for determining top-dollar funding for each state; providing a housing stipend for distance learners; trade/vocational training that is not covered under the bill; transferability for every eligible military member without the requirement to extend their service to attain the option to transfer their benefit to a spouse or dependent; and extension of eligibility to Guardsmen and Reservists who are serving in an active-duty capacity under Title 32 orders. The House leadership said these fixes were receiving bi-partisan support and they were confident they would be supported in this year's VA bill.

Concurrent receipt of disability benefits, VA claims backlog, and SBP/DIC offset were all items that were being considered, however, some were more difficult than others to solve. The House leaders stated they will continue to work these … and they have done so in the past.
I was struck by the number of issues that had been solved in the past three years. The support for our nation's veterans has, in the opinion of the leaders of every veteran's organization, never been higher. As an example VA health care funding had increased by 60% since 2007.

The Speaker passed out a list of "accomplishments" for veterans … and we have put it on our website. Beware: the document is political in nature … but recommend you scroll through the piece and review the items. Success in this area has required and did achieve bi-partisan support. We rightfully hold Congress' feet to the fire when we think they need it. We should congratulate them when they stand by our veterans. You can find the piece on our website at:

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Friday, May 14, 2010

AFA Launches CyberPatriot III

This week the Air Force Association announced a significant step in furthering our goal in helping to educate the public on the importance of Air, Space, and Cyberspace power.

Of these, Cyber security is one the most critical national security imperatives for the U.S. today. No nation relies more on the internet for its own defense, economy and daily life – we are the most vulnerable nation on Earth to disruption or exploitation of those connections. The key to our protection lies in people. We need more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-educated U.S. citizens of all disciplines, but arguably require talent in cyber security most of all.

This need was the reason the Air Force Association decided to create The National High School Cyber Defense Competition. First step was to prove the concept, and the CyberPatriot I competition held in conjunction with AFA's February 2009 Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Florida, did that in spades. The next step was to prove the competition could go nationwide, and our Pilot National Deployment during the 2009-10 school year cleared that hurdle. We successfully conducted three online qualification rounds for nearly 200 AFJROTC/CAP units in 44 states, with eight finalist teams competing in the February 2010 Championship in Orlando.

This coming school year we are going to Full National Deployment, with up to 500 slots reserved in the "All-Service" Division for JROTC units of all the services and the Civil Air Patrol. In a separate, parallel competition we will have an "Open" Division available to up to 500 non-JROTC high schools nationwide. Both competitions will culminate at an in-person Championship at the Gaylord National Resort to be held on 1-2 April 2011 in conjunction with the new CyberFutures Symposium and Technology Exposition.

A committed team of partners joined us to make the dream a reality. A generous grant from our Presenting Sponsor, Northrop Grumman Corporation, has made Full National Deployment possible. Founding Partners are the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS) of the University of Texas San Antonio (creator of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition), and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) (supplying their patent-pending Cyber NEXS Cyber Defense Trainer as the platform for the competition. Strategic Partners General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems (GD AIS), Raytheon Company and Microsoft Corporation also provide significant essential resources and multiyear commitments to the project.

To register your high school, go to: