Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Note from the AFA President: Defense Spending, the 101 version

AFA members, Congressional staff members, civic leaders, DOCA members, there is much news on activities in Washington – especially about the budget.  What strikes me is that to decipher much of it, one has to be almost an insider to understand the numbers.  Here is the simple version:

President Obama has directed the Department of Defense to cut $450B+ over 10 years starting with its FY13 budget.  [This will cut the base defense budget – and was part of the 2 Aug deficit reduction agreement with Congress.]  It looks like the cut will be laid into the budget on a, more or less,
flat line basis, e.g. $45B per year.  The Air Force portion of that is not yet fully known, but if trends continue, it will be $11B - $13B per year – perhaps more.  Once again, this does not include wartime spending – which is still off-budget.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is tasked to come up with $1.5 Trillion in cuts over 10 years.  If it fails, then an automatic cut kicks in which will cut $1.2 Trillion in spending.  Half of this must come from “national security” accounts – DOD, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy, and a bit from the State Department.  I estimate DOD’s share would be about $450B+.  This is in addition to the $450B+ in the paragraph above.

A few
observations:  First, the $1.5 Trillion to be cut is only a cut in the growth in spending.  The federal budget is expected to grow – during the next 10 years – by about $12 Trillion by some estimates. Thus a cut in the growth in government of $1.5 Trillion is only a cut of 12%.  At the end of 10 years, if nothing else is done, the US debt will still grow from about $15 Trillion to $25.5 Trillion.

Secondly, to take almost a trillion dollars out of defense spending in the next 10 years would call for draconian cuts.  It would gut many programs; throw tens of thousands of troops out of work; cause major force reductions; and necessitate closing bases.  Our allies would begin to question our commitments in both conventional and extended deterrence realms.  And, according to some experts, result in a “new isolationism.”  I do not need to remind this group that defending our nation is job one for any government.  In fact, the Preamble to the Constitution says:  “… provide for the common
defence, promote the general welfare … “ – and not the other way around.  And … base defense spending in the 2012 request amounts to 3.5% of GDP – almost a record post-WWII low.  In the aggregate, the defense budget is clearly an affordable investment.
Finally, DOD base defense funding in the FY12 request was $553B.  [The Senate Appropriations Committee has marked it to $513B.]  The Administration request for HHS was $893B – 1/3 of a Trillion more.  This gap is projected to double by 2014.  It is interesting to note that HHS spending was $47B in 1977 – just one-twentieth of what it is today.  

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Note from the President: Op-eds -- CFC, Heroes, TFL

AFA members, Congressional staff members, civic leaders, DOCA members,
It’s time for the 2011 Combined Federal Campaign.  As you are making your contributions, I hope you will consider the Air Force Association (#12214), and the Air Force Memorial Foundation (#11953).  
Contributions to the Air Force Association (#12214) will help to continue to EDUCATE the public about the critical role of aerospace power in the defense of our nation; to ADVOCATE aerospace power and a strong national defense; and to SUPPORT the United States Air Force, Air Force family, and aerospace education. 
Contributions to the Air Force Memorial Foundation (#11953) will honor our Airmen as well as works to educate and preserve the heritage of our courageous Airmen for future generations.  In addition to honoring our Airmen, we educate Americans about the United States Air Force and share the stories of our Airmen.
Your contribution, no matter what size will make a great impact in both organizations.  If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me or our development department at development@afa.org.
Secondly, the Air Force has just released its 2011 Portraits in Courage.  We have put them on line at:  http://www.afa.org/Portraits/2011/default.asp.  I’d urge you to browse through them … As I read them, the thought came to me:  “Where do we get such magnificent and brave men and women.  They are truly following in the footsteps of those who have gone before them.”
Finally, the Administration has just proposed, as a part of its deficit reduction plan, to increase TRICARE for Life and drug fees.  The Air Force Association strongly opposes these increases.  For our statement on it, see:  http://www.afa.org/media/press/Increasing_TRICARE-for-Life_Fees.asp
For your consideration,

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Friday, September 23, 2011

The End of the 2011 Air & Space Conference

The 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition and National Convention has officially ended, after nearly a week of great Conference addresses by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the Secretary of the Air Force, as well as the many sessions led by military leadership and industry experts. [For transcripts of the some of the sessions, go to: www.af.mil/news/afpressresources.asp]

AFA's Four Star Forum
The whole event culminated on Wednesday, September 21, 2011, with the Air Force Anniversary dinner, where several individuals/groups received awards five individuals and groups at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, after three days of workshops, presentations and panels and an exhibit floor that boasted the latest in aerospace and defense technology.

Heavy Bombardment Crews of WWII accept their Lifetime Achievement Award

Representative C.W. Bill Young accepts his W. Stuart Symington Award
or the most significant contribution by a civilian for national defense

Check out more of the great moments we captured at www.facebook.com/AirForceAssociation! Our 2011 Air & Space  Album has pictures from our National Convention and Conference, our several award ceremonies, the Expo floor, our Anniversary Dinner and many more!

Also, we've uploaded new videos on the AFA YouTube page. So if you missed the CSAF's Air Force Update or wanted to learn more about our Lifetime Achievement winners, check out: www.youtube.com/airforceassochq.

The AFA thanks everyone who helped make this year's conference a success. If you were there, we hope you had a great time and used the opportunity for professional growth. If you weren't able to join us, hopefully you'll be able to catch us next year!  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

US Transportation Command Update

Guest blogger Nicole Daddario on General Duncan McNabb's afternoon session, covering USTRANSCOM:

The USTRANSCOM team consists of The Surface Deployment/ Distribution Command, The Military Sealift Command, The Air Mobility Command (the largest group on the team), The Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (newest member of the team), and the commercial industry contribution. There are 150,000 people, $56billion in assets and $14billion in revenue.

General McNabb said that USTRANSCOM has the authority to use its forces around the world, Therefore has the ability to move quickly. Precision is essential. He also discussed the necessity to get C-17's and MATV's out to the field, and what it takes to get the most out there in an efficient way. BRAC moves, Fusion Centers, and Business Process Improvements have contributed to where TRANSCOM is today. They are working on developing AT21 strategies and making the Enterprise aware of situations, such as natural disasters. General McNabb also believes that we should take advantage of social networking as a way to learn about and share resources.

TRANSCOM and its Enterprise partners will continue to provide valuable support to our nation by transforming and adjusting distribution and deployment to fit into a constantly changing environment.



AFA's very own Caitie Craumer covered Gen Fraser's session on USSOUTHCOM:

Gen. Douglas Fraser gave a comprehensive report on the condition sin the southern regions, their progress, and problems, and how USSOUTHCOM is monitoring those impacts on our nation.

Economically, and especially from an energy standpoint, we are tied to the southern region. There's a significant connection betweeen our countries, and we are seeing optomistic trends in a decade of progress. Trade continues to increase with the United States, and over 60% of regional populations in South America support democracy. That said, there are many underlying concerns, particulary weak institutions of government in many regions. Violent crimes, urban gangs, and mass migration are among the security concerns, but for the most part, the region has learned that through diplomacy, they can work through their problems.

Transational organized crime in the Southern region profits from drug trafficking, and engages in many destabilizing activities. The United States's financial investment over the last ten years has been roughly 10 million dollars, but this has been used as assistance--problems are being solved with funds from within. Much monitoring is for drugs, humans, weapons smuggling and money laundering--this global industry is estimated at nearly $400 billion per year.

Mission: Conduct joint and combined full-spectrum military operations. To counter trafficking, it is important to build partner capacity, detection and monitoring.

Gen (ret) John Jumper: Airmen and the Air Force

Guest blogger Ian Dinesen on former Chief of Staff of the Air Force General John Jumper:

Gen Jumper presented his view on the current state of the Air Force and his thoughts on where it needs to head, specifically with the overall business model for acquisition and fielding of platforms.  While he remained proud of the accomplishments of our Airmen, Gen Jumper characterized the last decade as one that is being dictated by desired outcomes vice the at-hand mission sets.  His views, particularly with the argument of whether current and future aircraft should be manned or unmanned, coalesced with this logic insomuch that the mission ought to drive the outcome.  “When Air Force One becomes unmanned, then [the Air Force] will completely take that next step,” said Jumper. 

Further, he went on to point out that the current thought model in procurement is platform centric – from acquisition to programming through procurement.  This model fails, as the desired platform is driving the mission which thus determines the capabilities; it needs to be the other way around.  Jumper’s bottom line: “We need to know how we are going to fight before we go out and buy the stuff to fight with.”

CMSAF James A. Roy: The Enlisted Perspective

Guest bloggers Ian Dinesen and Nicole Daddario comment on CMSAF James A. Roy's session, "The Enlisted Perspective":

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Roy addressed the Air Force Association audience with exuberance and pride on behalf of the enlisted members of the Air Force. He highlighted the tremendous responsibilities that our young enlisted members possess and the risks that each accept simply by joining our all volunteer force. Chief Roy addressed what is on Airmen’s minds by providing big-picture answers to everyday questions the most junior of our members face. He also provided his views on what the biggest challenges are ahead for the service and how the enlisted force can work to ease through the tough times to come. Chief Roy spent the majority of his time addressing the future and where he sees operations, development and resiliency in the enlisted perspective. The underpinning theme in all future endeavors hinged upon continued and enhanced training, education and experience, particularly in the face of declining resources.

"Bottom Line up front - You are a part of the best military in the entire world."
This is the message that Chief Master Sergeant James Roy persistently passed on to the Airmen sitting in the room. The purpose of his presentation today was to identify where we are today, what challenges we might face tomorrow, and where we are going. Did you know that there are currently 41,246 Airmen deployed all over the world?

CMSAF Roy talked about the changes coming to the the program and force structure, personnel compensation, and the sense of community at bases. He stated that we need to look at what draws families back to certain communities, and told a story of how his son could no longer play football in his community because there weren't enough kids for the team.

The final portion of CMSAF Roy's presentation focused on where the USAF is going. He highlighted upcoming changes in Operations, Development, and Resiliency. He put great emphasis on training and education, and said that if we do not update these things, our future is at risk. I completely support this statement, because everything in this world is constantly changing. Therefore, books and lessons must constantly be updated. What you learned 10 years ago most likely will not apply to today's world.

In conclusion, I will again support CMSAF Roy's bottom line. To all Airmen: At the end of the day, you're a part of the best Air Force in the world, and part of the best military that ever existed. BE PROUD!!

Day 3 of the 2011 Air & Space Conference

We are now on the last day of the 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Expo! We've got some great things going on today, with a panel on US Contingency Operations Tomodachi & Odyssey Dawn, as well as our Four-Star Forum, which will be the very last session of the Conference!

Yesterday had our social media team inundated with the many different sessions, covering future challenges of the USAF, present issues that the nation is addressing and great stories from historical airmen.

WWII Bomber George Kuckenbecker provided us
with some great photos of his time in the war.
The Technology Expo is sporting some amazing advancements in aerospace technology, so make sure to check it out our exhibit halls before they close at 4pm. We also had several book signings yesterday at the AFA booth, and we have one more scheduled for today: co-author Don Shepperd of Bury Us Upside Down will be signing at 11am!

Book signings!

Who knew robots liked ice cream?

"Killing Terrorists" by Chuck de Caro

Guest blogger Nicole Daddario on Chuck de Caro's (CEO of Aerobeureau Corp.) session on al Qaeda:

The aggressive nature of this session's title goes hand in hand with the passionate presentation given by Mr. Chuck de Caro, founder and CEO of Aerobureau Corporation and former CNN Special Assignments Correspondent. He preached about how we can defeat Al Qaeda through the use of his SOFTWAR theory. The definition of SOFTWAR is "the hostile use of global television and global media to shape another society's will by changing its view of reality". Mr. de Caro emphasizes that although Osama is dead, Al Qaeda is not; we need to kill the movement.

He also emphasized that "television transfers information through the PERCEPTION of images and sound rather than hard fact". He quoted Clausewitz: "War is violence to constrain the enemy to accomplish our will". My personal favorite part of Mr. de Caro's discussion was his SOFTWAR theory's focus on Cinematic Analysis, or CINAN. He showed videos that demonstrate the difference between the United States and Al Qaeda's use of video. From the comparison, we can conclude that video is Al Qaeda's primary strategic weapon. It creates an exciting recruiting tool, and improves morale among its supporters. Their videos show that they constantly repeat a tactical pattern in which the camera is slaved to the weapon. We observed that their videos show a sniper target at a close range, and they do not leave out any details. They don't seem to care about their locations being discovered, but do care more about having support from their followers. On the other hand, in the U.S.'s video Sniper video, the target is 800m away. It seems that our emphasis is more on the shooter's ability and skill with the weapon. The camera is not slaved to the camera, and the conclusion is not nearly as graphic.

I find Mr. de Caro's SOFTWAR theory interesting, and respect his ideas for a fundamental change and to plan an information operations war. He believes in a quote by Alvin Toffer: "Nations make more the way they make money". He argues that if we know how the enemy makes their money, then we should be able to beat them! We must overwhelm their propaganda efforts and use the SOFTWAR principles: Counter propaganda, counter programming, saturation, seduction, special means, and integration. According to him, we will crush Al Qaeda's information efforts to advance its cause, and come out on top.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dr. Jeffrey Mankoff on Russia: Friend or Foe?

Guest blogger Nicole Daddario reports on Dr. Mankoff's session on Russia:

Dr. Jeffery Mankoff is a specialist in Eurasian/Russian affairs and an adjunct fellow for Russian studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also the Associate Director of International Security Studies at Yale University.

In his session, Dr. Mankoff examined the evolution of Russian policy toward the United States and provided insight of how Russian priorities have shifted. He said that posing the question "Friend or Foe" is vindictive. Russia is neither a friend or foe of the United States. It is more of a self focused entity. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is no longer the super power it once was. As a result, the nature of the international system has changed. There have been many ups and downs between Russia and the United States since the Cold War; periods of productive relations, and periods of complications.

Dr. Mankoff spot of the Soviet Union's collapse in late 1991, which was the beginning of the end of Communism. The relationship between Russia and the United States grew stronger. Russian President Boris Yeltsin implemented privatization reforms and was supported by the administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. However, the reforms had a negative effect on Russia, and resulted in the rise of poverty and the deterioration of Russia's stability. Later in the 1990's, the United States and Russia had disagreed on the decision to support Serbia in the Kosovo War. From there, the United States and Russia continued to have a roller coaster relationship. The most recent status of the relationship between these two countries is mostly on good terms, as the Obama Administration and Russian President Dmitry Medvede struck up better terms at a conference in 2009. Obama's administration does not consider Russia to be the enemy.

In conclusion, Dr. Mankoff pointed out that Russia has been known to have an unstable economy, but they do have the ability to modernize nuclear systems at a rapid rate. It is important that the United States works with Russia to mitigate any potential threats in the future. Figuring out economic cooperation is the future biggest issue.

Space Industrial Base

Guest blogger Micah Foster checked out the panel on today's Space Industrial Base:

During the panel on the current state of the space industrial base, the audience heard leading aerospace experts discuss present and future challenges the space community will face. Moderated by former NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin, the panel consisted of Jeffrey D. Grant of Northrop Grumman, John Elbon of Space Exploration and Boeing, Mark Valerio of Lockheed Martin, and former Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space Programs Gary E. Payton.  Each gave brief remarks about their view of the space industry and then fielded questions from the audience. They each touched on the changing landscape of the space community, and the challenges that come from shrinking and cyclical budgets that threaten the highly technical workforce currently working on space projects. Mark Valerio called for "rightsizing for the environment," with John Elbon saying that without innovation the industry is risking atrophy of its workforce.

More Takeaways from the Misty Pilots

Guest blogger Liz Scott shared with us her take on the Misty pilots panel:

What an amazing group of brave, professional and humble warriors! Each Misty pilot gave a quick synopsis of their story. They were fun and inspiring. When asked by the moderator what lessons they would give to the people of our Air Force today, they provided some solid advice!

Charlie Neel: We put Colonels in charge of decisions, but they have to go higher before making a decision. Let middle management make good decisions! Also, provide people with intel. The “need to know” concept left some folks in the dark when they could have provided more to the fight had they been armed with more intel.

Col Robinson: If you are going to fight a war, fight it all the way and get air superiority. Don’t control a war from D.C. The graduates of this hard lesson learned planned Desert Storm with success.

General Fogleman: “I will do my job well and if they don’t like it … oh well.” True leadership!

General McPeak: Central control and decentralized execution is critical. Lessons learned from the Misty pilots were to improve technology and if you have outstanding people, you can get the job done!” We need to ask ourselves “How do we create teams that are effective in combat?” “We got it right and hope we continue to in the future because the existence of this country depends on it!”

Maj Gen Sheppard: “Know what we are fighting for and have the American people behind you!”

Does Diminished US Influence in Latin America Represent a Success or Failure of US Policy?

Guest blogger Barb Costa checked out Dr. Richard D. Downie's, Director of Center of Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS), session on Latin America:

Does Diminished US Influence in Latin America Represent a Success or Failure of US Policy?

The answer is a resounding “yes!” During the Cold War the US did everything they could to influence Latin American economy, elections and government with the singular goal to deter the Soviets from wielding their influence in that part of the world. Post Cold War, “Democracy was busting out all over the place” according to Dr. Downie, which brought about a “diminished influence” from the US. Without the threat of communism on the horizon during the 90s, the US turned it’s attention to domestic matters and the Middle East, non-state actors were weaving their way into several Latin American countries.

Hugo Chavez was subtle at first, taking over the Venezuela’s courts, and Congress. The US did not react, so Chavez continued to tighten the reins on his people all the while building relationships with China and Iran. Unfortunately the US is better at a threat-based strategy versus an opportunity-based strategy. The long range strategy for the Latin America is unclear. Dr. Downie was concerned that “China is filing the vacuum as we continue to be marginalized in Latin America.”

MISTY Pilots Panel

Guest blogger Nicole Daddario sat in on a panel of MISTY Fast FAC Pilots today, and heard some great stories of their time flying over Vietnam:

Panel: Misty Fast FAC Pilots

In 1967, the USAF tasked then-Maj. George "Bud" Day to form a top secret squadron of combat-experienced fighter pilots to fly the F-100 in a Fast Forward Air Control (FAC) capacity. Using the call sign Misty, these volunteers dedicated themselves to duty and proved themselves to be legendary heroes. Today, we had the opportunity to hear their stories straight from the heroes themselves.

A panel led by Misty 34 retired Major General Don Sheppard, consisting of Misty 22 retired Colonel Charlie B. Neel, Misty 45 retired Colonel Paul K. "PK" Robinson, Misty 86 retired General Ronald R. Fogleman, and Misty 94 retired General Merril A. "Tony" McPeak shared their individual stories from Vietnam.

Each Misty Pilot had their own compelling story to tell. They talked about their missions that took anywhere from four to six hours, and the risks that came along with them. Many were shot down in battle. Hearing their firsthand experience of being in combat and tactics they used to survive, especially after being shot down, really gave the audience a vivid picture of what it was like to fight in the Vietnam War. Stories like theirs are truly timeless. Learn more about the Misty Pilots' legacy in one of their books, "Bury Us Upside Down", or "Misty".

Checkmate and "The Black Hole"

Guest blogger Liz Scott provides a summary of the session, "Checkmate and the 'Black Hole'", with Colonel John A. Warden III, USAF (Ret.).

Colonel Warden discussed the inception of Checkmate and the planning of Gulf War I, as well as the major lessons learned.

Checkmate began due to the lack of an offensive planning cell.  The nation had spent most of its time planning defensive strategy.

When Kuwait was invaded, Colonel Warden was able to create an offensive plan quickly and effectively.  He attributes the success of the planning and the Gulf War I to four main principles:

1.  Open Planning:  This allowed for plenty of people to be included in the discussion.  "someone in the room has the answer!"  Also people take ownership of the issue.  Some people who were involved in the strategic planning were also responsible for the tactical implementation.

2.  Philosophical Consistent Planning:  This allowed for center of gravities to be identified and the war to be philosophically focused.

3.  Value in a Washington Based Planning Group:  Critical info exists there and it is difficult to access from the outside.  Once the plan was sent out to the field, Checkmate was only there to advise and no longer directive in nature.

4.  Air Power and Air Campaign Efficacy:  The heart of Gulf War I and the reason it lasted only 42 days!

Colonel Warden's main concept was an umbrealla approach to war planning.  Get the strategy right and give an over arching plan to the operators and let the operators figure out how to do their job!

CSAF State of the Air Force

Guest blogger Major Jim Horne sat in on Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Norton Schwartz's "State of the Air Force" and below are his comments:

Amazing speech! Hands down, the Chief delivered one of the most eloquent, poignant and comprehensive dissertations on air, space and cyber power I have ever heard. He boiled down the essence of airpower into a 4 + 1 construct.

Four key airpower tenets: Control and exploitation of air, space and cyberspace; rapid global mobility; and persistent ISR – all underpinned/enabled by Command and Control. He reiterated his commitment to and communicated the Force’s success in turning the corner on the five key priorities laid out when he took the post: reinvigorating the nuclear enterprise; caring for our airmen and families; modernizing and recapitalizing our aging platforms; and recapturing acquisition excellence.

Gen Schwartz challenged us to maintain a positive perspective as we advocate for the immense strategic value of airpower and recognize the opportunities presented in this “age of uncertainty” and budget challenges.

Bran Ferren's Innovate or Die (Dying is Easier...)

Guest blogger Nicole Daddario gives us another recap of a Monday session:

Bran Ferren has quite an impressive resume with experience as an engineer, technical and design consulting. His clients have included Intel Corp., General Motors, IBM, Warner Communications, Sony, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin. He is currently the Co-Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Applied Minds, Inc., and is the formed President of R&D and Creative Technology for The Walt Disney Company. He has also earned numerous technical achievement awards and served on many advisory boards for a variety of government organizations.

Mr. Ferren has had a lot of experience in many different places, and his "Big Idea" way of thinking is quite inspiring. His biggest concerns involve technology and the way it is changing our world. Mr. Ferren points out the reality that there are two different ways of thinking: the "Requirements" way, and the "Big Idea" way, and we must find ways to make these two ways of thinking work in harmony in order for any project to be successful.

He also makes a point that there was never a life-changing invention that had requirements; every big invention we've seen has been the result of someone thinking outside the box and seeing the big picture. He uses a great example of the "Big Idea" way of thinking by quoting Neil Armstrong's famous line after landing on the moon- "A small step for man, a giant leap for mankind." When Mr. Armstrong said this, it was clear that he was not just referring to what America had done. This was an accomplishment for the entire human species, and one that everyone in the world should be proud of.

Mr. Ferren has a list called "The Big Six", in which he identifies the tools and requirements we need to help the two ways of thinking live together:

1) Visioning- If you don't have a strong vision, you will have trouble getting people on board. You must articulate your goals clearly, and motivate people to want to join your team.

2) Get the Talent- Our country is based around our tolerance of different people. We must find ways for both types of people to work together and prosper.

3) Story Telling- We must have role models. The internet is the most important story telling tool that we have. We can learn anything about anyone at the click of a button. Can you name a living scientist? If not, look it up.

4) Complexity vs Simplicity- Americans are seduced by complexity, and we need to learn more about simplicity.

5) Speed- If you care about things happening, make them happen quickly. The longer a program takes, the less likely it will complete on time and in an acceptable manner.

6) Education- If we don't fix the current state of education, we will not have much of a future.

Bing West's "The Millennial Generation"

Guest blogger Nicole Daddario sat in on Bing West's session yesterday, entitled "the Millennial Generation." Below are her comments:

Francis J. "Bing" West is an established author who has been to Iraq sixteen times, and to Afghanistan six times. He spent this time going on patrols with the troops and writing about his experiences. He shared his firsthand experiences with us through many interesting stories from his journeys.

Mr. West began his session with a map of where the war is taking place, and identifies the majority of the population that inhabits each area. He told stories and showed pictures of when the Taliban would post their flags in the same area that our troops had already taken over, just to make sure their presence is still known. He cautions that no one should ever go near those flags, as there are likely to be at least 2 mines somewhere nearby. He told a story of one of his favorite soldiers whom he became close with. The soldier carried a metal detector to find Improvised Explosive Devices (IED's) before they became destructive. The soldier always succeeded in deactivating the IED, until the day after Mr West left the country. There had been multiple IED's planted in this final location, and the solider lost his leg.

Mr. West makes many of his observations based off of comparisons of the current war versus the Vietnam War, in which he also has experience. For example- he compares the mindset of each war. His Vietnam example is from 1961, the famous quote by John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country". The mindset of the current war is "How is the war in Iraq helping me?" This leads into the statistics of the volunteers currently fighting, which he notes consist of mostly middle to upper class citizens, with most being in the higher 50% of high school graduates. Many serve for five years, and get out with no retirement. He poses the question of cultural and ideological separation being a cause for concern, and believes that the next war will have shocking casualties. Mr. West also notes that there is less belief in God and Eternity, which means less people are willing to die. Unlike in Vietnam, where the reality of death was more accepted.

Mr. West's analysis of the volunteers who are currently fighting certainly show a difference between past wars. He makes a good point of the biggest dilemma in Afghanistan being its poor leadership and their lack of merit in the way they operate.  They need a stronger army. We will not know how the country will turn out until we are out of there.

Day 2 of the 2011 Air & Space Conference

The second day of this year's Air & Space Conference promises to be an even busier, with more than 30 conference addresses taking place. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get pictures and quick, up-to-date feed of the Conference!

We'll also be posting highlights of sessions throughout the day! Join in on the discussions!

Monday, September 19, 2011

How The Helicopter Changed Modern Warfare

Guest blogger Nicole Daddario on Walter Boyne's presentation, How the Helicopter Changed Modern Warfare:

Col. Walter Boyne, USAF (Ret.) is a true expert of this subject. He has earned many honors in the Aviation field, including the esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award from AFA, as well as an induction into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and many more accomplishments. He shared his knowledge in a very interesting breakout session at the 2011 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition.

Col Boyne began his session with a brief history of the helicopter, which was introduced to warfare during World War II. He taught us about the many men who attempted to perfect this marvelous machine. Among them, the most successful were Igor Sikorsky and Frank Piasecki. Sikorsky designed the first operable American helicopter, and modified his design to become the world's first mass-produced helicopter in 1942. Following Sikorsky's creation, Piasecki designed and sold a series of tandem rotor helicopters to the US Navy. Col Boyne emphasized the advancement of these creations by acknowledging the mission in which our Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden. He supported the fact that only a helicopter could have brought this mission to fruition. However, he also revealed the vulnerablity of the Black Hawk helicopters whose design dates back to 30 years or more. Col. Boyne pointed out the sad reality that our troops are faced with the challenges of flying into hostile territory with an outdated base designed helicopter that has aftermarket additions. He identifyed the need to simplify and accelerate our acquistion process to get new and improved combat helicopters to our troops.

His inspiring speech helped us understand how the success of air techniques in the use of helicopters has affected the way we view airpower, and how keeping them up to date will help save more lives.

Session Recaps: Dr. Krathammer, Dr. Hensel and NASA Administrator Bolden

Guest blogger Micah Foster, gave us some great recaps of the afternoon sessions!

On Dr. Charles Krathammer's session -- The New Isolationism?:

During the talk entitled "The New Isolationism?", Dr. Charles Krauthammer, MD outlined his definition of what isolationism is coming to mean, and his view of the current state of America's foreign policy.

As a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist and nightly panelist with Fox News' "Special Report with Bret Baier," Dr. Krauthammer has had a vast amount of experience in critiquing policy and put to good use his analytical skills during the afternoon's talk. Using China as an example, Dr. Krauthammer spoke of the dangers of indifference to foreign affairs and of the folly that isolating one's country from the rest of the world could bring. China's rise in its region is a result of its desire to become a more global power, and the idea of pulling the US's resources from Asia would result in an accelerated timeline for China's regional dominance, he outlined. Dr. Krauthammer expressed his hope that the current Administration wouldn't engage in "passive isolationism" in a kind of slow motion pull-out of the country's resources that are currently abroad.

At the very end of his talk, Dr. Krauthammer noted that he didn't want people to leave his talk gloomy from his analysis, saying tongue-in-cheek, "you know, I am a psychiatrist, so if anyone needs a prescription for some anti-depressants, come talk with me afterwards."

On Dr. Nayantara Hensel's Session -- Changing Tradewinds in the Global Economy/Impact on Defense:

During the talk entitled "Changing Tradewinds in the Global Economy/Impact on Defense", Dr. Nayantara Hensel spoke to all the "closet economists" in the room with a lecture chock-full of data and graphs on the current state of the global economy. She went over the changing demands of global markets and the shift in weapons demands from countries all over the world. The main question of the day was "how will the defense industrial base be changed over the next decade or more?"

Essentially with the austerity measures that many governments are considering putting in place to combat their dire financial states, Dr. Hensel has seen the shrinking and growth of markets within the defense industry. With shipbuilding as an example of a shrinking market, less states are spending less money on their navy's ships, while more states are spending more money on UAV's. Dr. Hensel also spoke about the world's dependence on rare earth minerals from China presenting challenges for the global economies over the next decade. Currently China produces 95% to 97% of the rare earth minerals used in products ranging from a Toyota Prius to the F-22, and are using that market dominance to their advantage.

Dr. Hensel wrapped up her talk with a few thoughts on how the EU financial crisis may deepen, undermining the Euro's market value.

On NASA Administrator Charles Bolden's Session -- The Future of Space:

During the talk entitled "The Future of Space", former astronaut and current NASA Administrator Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., USMC (Ret.) spoke on NASA's current developments and future plans.

With the SLS Heavy Lift-Launch Vehicle design chosen last week, NASA has decided to focus its mission on working with its corporate partners to provide commercial access to Low-Earth Orbit assets (i.e. the International Space Station) while also developing its ability to travel above Low-Earth Orbit. Giving a tentative timeline during the sessions Q&A, Bolden said that he hopes NASA will be able to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars by 2030. These deeper space missions will come from working with the SLS and developing components that were already designed with the Constellation program.

Describing the state of space commercialization, Bolden outlined his confidence that working with aerospace industry leaders will lead to a new era for NASA that will allow them to refocus on bold new exploration missions.

Guest Blog Post on Secretary Donley's State of the Air Force

Guess blogger Liz Scott gives us feedback on Secretary Michael B. Donley's session on the State of the Air Force:

Secretary Michael B. Donley, along with Gen Schwartz, leads over 690,000 total force airmen was introduced as the "Perfect Gentleman" and the right man to be leading our Air Force during these times, by AFA Chairman of the Board, Sandy Schlitt.

Secretary Donley began by thanking two men for their tremendous contributions and impact to the Air Force. They will be retiring from the Air Force this year. Mr. Bill Davidson, who has served for 43 years, and Maj Gen Al Flowers, who has served for 46 years, the longest service in SAF history.

Secretary Donley outlined the challenges and path ahead for our Air Force. He emphasized Air Force men and women have been in combat for two decades and have never faltered. While continued operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and against Al Qaeda, the Air Force has also "rapidly and successfully" responded to unexpected events in Libya, Japan, and wildfires and hurricanes in the US. "Airmen make us exceedingly proud, each and every day."

He spoke about the budget issues and how dealing with a declining budget will result in a balanced force. If the Air Force is too large, we risk the lack of readiness and training. If the Air Force is too small, we risk the loss of flexibility and ability to respond to new operations. If we do not focus on modernization, we may lose our technical edge and if we focus too much on modernization, we risk the size of our force being too small. This is why it is all about balance!

Secretary Donley stressed that there is much work ahead and we look ten years into the future. He emphasized the Air Force must remain focused on its strategic and key capabilities and never turn its back on its members. "The Air Force is committed to keeping faith with our airmen and families." he said with the budget cuts and determining a balanced force, the leaders have the right to use their "best military judgment." He assured there will be careful consideration with retirement benefits in order to keep a motivated and capable force.

The Air Force's core competencies must be safeguarded. With air superiority, "holding any target in the world at risk," he stated that we rely on the 5th generation strike fighter and the F-35 program "must succeed."

No matter what, the Air Force must remain ready, Secretary Donley stated. "We have always and will continue to always be a forward leaning service. Our flexibility to changing needs enables the Air Force to protect the US today and in the future." The Air Force will "continue to be a force to be reckoned with."

Americans do not give up and the Air Force reflects this spirit! AFA continues to be an advocate for our Air Force, Airmen and families.

2011 Air & Space Conference

This year's Air & Space Conference is finally here!

Secretary Michael Donley, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen Norton Schwwartz
and AFA Chairman of the Board Sandy Schlitt cut the ribbon to the Expo floor!
The first day of this annual event kicked off this morning with a welcome from Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Norton Schwartz followed by a great awards ceremony honoring many individuals' great contributions to aerospace. The ribbon has been cut for the Expo floor (pictured above), granting access to more than 100,000 square feet of the latest and greatest in technology!

Throughout this three day Conference, we will be highlight key points from 53 sessions, workshops and panel discussions here on the blog, provide real-time news feed covering the Conference AND the Expo floor on Twitter and posting great pictures on AFA's Facebook. So don't forget to check back with us often and join in on the online discussions: hashtag #AFAairspace!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, USAF!

More than 60 years ago on September 18, 1947, the Air Force was born.

Over the decades, millions of men and women have contributed to the legacy in countless capacities, creating a rich history that continues to deliver excellence throughout the world. Let us celebrate the strong dedication and perseverance that has been displayed over the many years.

As we celebrate the 64th anniversary of the Air Force becoming an independent Service of the Armed Forces, let us remember the great leaders – such as Ira Eaker, Billy Mitchell, Frank Andrews and Hap Arnold – who have helped progress the creation and organization of the Air Force with their innovation and commitment. And let us never forget the contributions and sacrifices made by our Airmen of the past and present.

As we move forward, we much recognize today's environment as one filled with uncertainty, with diffult times lying ahead. Sixty-four years ago, the Air Force separated from the Army to become its very own Service and AFA had a vital a role in that independence. But the AFA will continue to advance in our aggression to support, advocate and educate on behalf of the United States Air Force -- the greatest air force in the world.

Happy 64th birthday to the U.S. Air Force!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Air & Space Conference -- Less than a week away!

The 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition is just days away and there is no better time to register than now! This one-of-a-kind conference will be held September 19-21, 2011, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in beautiful National Harbor, Maryland. Nowhere else will you be able to network with the top leaders in the Air Force, academia and industry from around the world about the current issues facing today’s Air Force. 

This year's Conference will include: 
Three days of addresses, forums and workshops on relevant topics:
  • Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley
  • Four Star Forum hosted by CSAF Gen Norton Schwartz
  • Command Chief Master Sergeants Forum
  • Pulitzer-prize winning writer/commentator Charles Krauthammer
  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden
  • Vietnam Ace Charles DeBellevue
  • Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Transformation Gen Stéphane Abrial
  • WWII Heavy Bombardment Pilots
  • See the full agenda online.
Book signings featuring authors:
  • Bing West
  • Warren Kozak
  • Walter Boyne
  • Donald Shepperd
  • Nathan Hodge
  • See the full list of authors and book signing times online.
Also, the exhibits at AFA's Technology Exposition highlight the most current developments in aerospace technology and education.  Nowhere else will attendees find more than 140 of the most exciting aerospace exhibitors assembled to display and demonstrate the latest breakthroughs in air and space technology. 

To register for the 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition please click here.