Keith’s Congressional Corner

September 11, 2018

September 11, 2018

Keith’s Congressional Corner

The creation of the United States Air Force as an independent entity recognizes the special capabilities of airpower; the creation of the Air Force Association recognizes aviation problems that require—specialized and organized—civilian assistance toward their solution. In this group we have a wealth of military and civilian talent that will devote itself to our defense needs …
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Chief of Staff, US Army

Our time is our time. It’s up to us to make the most of it, make it amount to more than the sum of our days.”
Sen John S. McCain III
Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee

TSgt John Chapman, killed in March 2002 during the Battle of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Trump in August. TSgt Chapman, posthumously promoted to MSgt, is the first member of the Air Force since the Vietnam War to receive the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest award for valor in combat. Learn more.

Congress just returned from its August Recess, and a looming government shutdown, Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearings, midterm elections, and partisan fights are on the radar. Congress now has approximately seven legislative days to work out differences and pass defense bills to provide for our warfighters in the new fiscal year.

This measure continues to rebuild and repair our military while making needed reforms in the Pentagon.”
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman, House Armed Services Committee

The president signed the $716 billion John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2019 into law. Providing $16 billion more than the current year, the bipartisan legislation set the military pay raise at 2.6 percent—the largest increase in nine years. It increased overall end strength, authorized the termination of some programs (JSTARS), and started others. It froze civilian pay increases and in less publicized actions, it provides relief against the increase of fees to the occupants in the Armed Forces Retirement Home and allows Space A travel for disabled veterans.

Assuming defense appropriators complete their work soon on the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills, at least next year’s funding will be secured.

Time to address the elephant in the room—Space Force. Last month, the Pentagon released its report on the possibility of creating a sixth military branch, a Space Force, while reorganizing its operational and acquisition structures accordingly. The Pentagon has yet to determine the cost of creating a sixth service branch, yet they rolled out a plan early in August to do just that.

Well, at least personnel assigned to the new Space Force won’t have to worry about PT…you can’t be overweight if you are weightless in space.

“We learned the value of organization of true believers within a democracy, in which public opinion is the final term of reference. Hence the formation of the Air Force Association.”
Gen Carl Spaatz, First Chief of Staff, US Air Force

September marks the 100th birthday of AFA’s Air Force Magazine. Congratulations to the outgoing editor, Adam Hebert, and the magazine’s dedicated staff. The first issue of the Army Aeronautical Information Branch’s ‘Weekly News Letter’ debuted the week of September 15, 1918. It delivered the news that the Air Service needed more mechanics, pilots, bombers, observers, and balloonists. Well, with the possible exception for balloonists, the Air Force still has ‘Jobs Available’ signs posted for those critical positions.

Speaking of needed specialties, AFA’s CyberPatriot program develops inspiring, determined, young cybersecurity defenders, many of whom will protect our nation’s networks in the future. The National Youth Cyber Education Program is growing at a rate of 1,000 additional teams per year and recently completed 260 summer training camps.

“AFA has generally supported Air Force policies but has remained independent of the Air Force by mutual agreement of USAF’s leaders and those of the Association. That is one reason why it has become a respected voice in national affairs.”
Gen Jimmy Doolittle

This month also marks the 71st anniversary of the first Air Force Association (AFA) convention. We hope many of you will join AFA for our 2018 Air, Space & Cyber Conference starting next Monday at the Gaylord Hotel, National Harbor, MD. This is the premier event for defense and aerospace professionals from across the globe. The conference is the nation’s largest annual Air Force gathering, bringing together the top leadership of the Air Force as well as industry experts and government officials to discuss challenges facing the Air Force and aerospace community today and in the future. This year’s theme is “Multi-Domain Operations: Leveraging the Full Spectrum.”

“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”
President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001

September 11th is a day in which we should take time to reflect. 9-11-2001 was a day and a time when our nation came together against a brazen enemy’s unprovoked attack. Many are still in harm’s way defending against our enemies, and we thank them.

In closing,

Happy 71st Birthday US Air Force!

Air Force Highlights

Lengthy operations are grinding down the Air Force, according to Rand report | 30 Aug 2018 | by Stephen Losey

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. Read more.

Concerns grow about Space Force diverting funds from other military priorities
Space News | 19 Aug 2018 | by Sandra Erwin

Political disagreements aside, the Trump administration’s push to create a separate branch of the military for space is being challenged on grounds that an expensive bureaucracy could undermine the central goal of boosting military capabilities to defend satellites and the nation’s access to space.

Congress has the final word on Space Force budget and authorities, and proponents of making it an independent branch of the military face an uphill battle. Meanwhile, an internal battle for resources is brewing inside the Defense Department. Read more.

“The Joint Team requires the right mix of agile capabilities to compete, deter and win across the spectrum of competition and conflict. We must push the boundaries of technology and own the high ground in this era of great power competition and beyond.”
Gen David Goldfein, Chief of Staff, US Air Force

Air Force Doubles Down on Hypersonic Weapons Development with 2nd Contract | 13 Aug 2018 | by Oriana Pawlyk

The U.S. Air Force has awarded a second contract to develop a new hypersonic weapon that would move five times the speed of sound. “We are going to go fast and leverage the best technology available to get hypersonic capability to the warfighter as soon as possible,” said Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. “The joint team requires the right mix of agile capabilities to compete, deter and win across the spectrum of competition and conflict,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. “We must push the boundaries of technology and own the high ground in this era of great power competition and beyond.” Read more.

Feds Don’t Think a 1.9 Percent Pay Raise Would Be Enough to Attract Talent | 13 Aug 2018 | by Erich Wagner

A plurality of civilian federal employees reported in a new poll that they would be satisfied with the Senate’s proposed 1.9 percent pay increase in 2019. But nearly half said they believed the plan would not improve agencies’ competitiveness in the job market. Read more.

DoD reveals why there’s ‘not going to be another big’ budget increase in 2020 | 4 Aug 2018 | by Aaron Mehta, Tara Copp, and Leo Shane III

As the Pentagon finalizes its fiscal 2020 planning, the department is not expecting to see its budget top line grow, according to a top official.

“If you look at ’18 and ’19 — two nice step-ups, in terms of funding. And the intent is there’s not going to be another big step up again,” Robert Hood, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, told Military Times during a recent interview.

Instead, the Pentagon has to focus on finding savings to help fund necessary requirements, including increasing funds for high-tech efforts such as hypersonic weapons. Read more.

“Take everything you’ve learned about aviation in war and throw it out of the window, and let’s go to work on tomorrow’s aviation. It will be different from anything the world has ever seen.”
Gen Henry “Hap” Arnold

USAF Wants Drone Swarms, AI To Buy Space | 2 Aug 2018 | by Paul McLeary

Some of the most iconic weapons of the past 17 years of war are quickly becoming a relic of the past, top Air Force officials say.

The service — like every other office at the Pentagon — is rushing toward a mix of almost-ready and yet-to-be-developed technologies, including artificial intelligence, cloud computing, hypersonics, swarms of small drones, and clouds of tiny cubesats capable of sucking up data and beaming it back down to operators the ground in real time. Read more.

“I’m opposed to [creating a sixth branch]. I know the president has strong feelings. I think we can do that without a new branch.”
Sen James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman,Senate Armed Services Committee

Opposition to a Space Force Simmers in the Senate | 1 Aug 2018 | by Katie Bo Williams

Senate Republicans are holding their fire for now on the creation of a sixth branch of the military to guard America’s interests in space, punting a fight with President Trump despite deep-seated skepticism about the wisdom of such a move.

But the final step—officially creating a new service branch—will require legislative authorization. And it is Senate Republicans who could stand in the way of Trump’s so-called Space Force; the House has already signaled its support for the move. Read more.

Quotes to Note

  • “Readiness has plummeted—plummeted–of the five services. We’re finally rebuilding that. Where I’ve been focused is, hey, let’s get the five services we currently have back to the readiness levels that the American people think we should have and that we’re not at. Nobody thinks we’re at the readiness level that we should be. And then once we get there, then we can talk about a space force.”
    – Sen David Sullivan (R-AK), Senate Armed Services Committee

  • “Standing up an organization is generally not resource neutral. Anyone who makes those assertions doesn’t understand what is involved.”
    – Gen Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

  • “I was not going against setting up a Space Force. What I was against was rushing to do that before we define those problems.”
    – Gen, USMC, Retired James Mattis, Secretary of Defense

  • “Because [the Space Force] will be a smaller service with fewer resources, it may be more dependent on industry for technical advice and policy input. [It] would likely be more of a creature of industry than if the Air Force were kept intact.”
    – Loren Thompson, Lexington Institute

  • “Deterrence does not exist just because we have capability. It has to be capability that is practiced, that is ready, that our adversaries know [is] ready, and we’re able to respond to any threat that comes after the United States of America.”
    – Gen John E. Hyten, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)

  • “This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day. Yet, we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.”
    – President George W. Bush on September 11, 2001

Your Air Force – Did You Know?

AFA membership solicitation began in January 1946, and two of the first nine members included James H. Doolittle, and James Stewart.

The first national convention of the Air Force Association was held September 15-16, 1947 in Columbus, OH. At the convention, the first elected national leaders of the AFA were announced.

Who was the first elected AFA Chairman of the Board? First Vice President?

On September 18, 1947, W. Stuart Symington was sworn in as the first Secretary of the Air Force, signaling the birthday of the new Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Air Force. To honor the date, the cover of the September 1947 issue of Air Force Magazine had a picture of an Air Force pilot in a WWI era uniform. The headline simply said, “The Day Billy Mitchell Dreamed of.”

On September 18, 1947, W. Stuart Symington was sworn in as the first Secretary of the Air Force, signaling the birthday of the new Department of the Air Force and the U.S. Air Force. To honor the date, the cover of the September 1947 issue of Air Force Magazine had a picture of an Air Force pilot in a WWI era uniform. The headline simply said, “The Day Billy Mitchell Dreamed of.”

By the end of AFA’s first year, more than 50,000 present and former members of the Army Air Force had joined the association.

The official song of the US Air Force is “Wild Blue Yonder.” Robert MacArthur Crawford wrote the lyrics and music in 1938, and it was originally titled, “Army Air Corps.” The song was subsequently renamed “Army Air Force” during World War II to match the service’s new name. When the Air Force was established as a separate service in 1947, the song became the “Wild Blue Yonder (Air Force Song)”.

Key Dates to Watch


  • Feb 12 – FY 2019 President’s Budget Released
  • Oct 1 – FY 2019 Begins
  • Oct 25 – Unveiling of The Legacy Wall (Doolittle Brick Campaign), AFA HQ To Order Your Personalized Brick, Click Here.
  • Nov 14 – AFA Breakfast with Gen Stephen “Seve” Wilson, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, Key Bridge Marriott
  • Dec 7 – Mitchell Institute Breakfast with Gen John Raymond, Commander, Air Force Space Command, Capitol Hill Club


  • Feb 27-Mar 1 – AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium, Orlando, FL

If you have questions, please contact:

Keith Zuegel, (Ret.), USAF
Senior Director, Government Relations
Air Force Association (AFA)