June 28, 2018

Keith's Congressional Corner

 “Our space program has done so much to bring us together because it gives us the opportunity to be the kind of nation we want to be, the kind of nation we must always be—dreaming, daring, and creating.”
President Ronald Reagan

This legislative update took a retro rocket turn in focus when President Trump boldly went where no one has gone before and announced last week, "I am hereby directing the Department of Defense and Pentagon to immediately begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces… We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force separate but equal. It's going to be something."

“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space.”
President Donald J. Trump

AFA is encouraged by the focus on space by our political leaders. Space is an invaluable warfighting domain, and the United States must maintain its superiority. Congress agrees but did not establish a Space Force in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019’s legislation. In FY 2020, funding is expected to take a plunge from its current high orbit, and resources will be more constrained. A new service would certainly stretch the tightening defense budget. It is crucial to understand how a new Space Force would interact and leverage existing organizations. Funding sources and costs should first be analyzed as a new Space Force requires a major restructuring of the world’s best Air Force. Our sister services will also be affected. At least these will likely not be the new ‘Space Force’ uniforms: Story and Space Force Uniform Here.
 
The US Air Force has funded and maintained 90 percent of our nation’s military space assets and in its FY 2019 budget request, sought an 8% increase in space funding, the second straight year of significant increases to the space portfolio. We are already the best in the world at space, and with congressional oversight and adequate on-time funding, we can maintain that space superiority. With skepticism on both sides of the aisle during this election year, we can expect the beginning of a drawn out deliberate process between DOD and Congress and little more than a broad proposal this year. Then, it will realistically take a few years to stand up the new force.
 
With oversight of the Air Force’s air and space superiority, the Senate marked up its version of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) putting it on schedule to be completed by Congress’ August recess. Both the Senate and House versions included additional funding for increased end strength but also funded JSTARS aircraft the Air Force did not request. Neither bill included language to establish a separate Space Force and neither bill authorized enough fighters for the US Air Force to meet our nation’s long term requirements for air superiority.
 
Moving to other orbits, AFA participated in a military healthcare executive leadership group meeting earlier this month with VADM Bono, Director of the Defense Health Agency (DHA), to discuss TRICARE, changes to TRICARE Retiree Dental, and DOD’s new electronic health records program.
 
Finally, AFA sends all its best wishes for a safe and joyous Independence Day with your families and friends on July 4th. On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia's Independence Square. On July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by celebrating with bonfires, bells, and fireworks. We have not forgotten the sacrifices many made for the freedoms we enjoy on the 4th of July and every day. It’s not about fireworks and parties--although that’s what makes it so much fun.

Air Force Highlights 

Space Force: Go Slow, Learn From Army Air Corps
BreakingDefense.com | 22 Jun 2018 | by David Deptula, Dean, The Mitchell Institute
 
The stakes are high for President Trump’s nascent Space Force because a poorly integrated service is a price America cannot afford to pay. This means a careful, thoughtful, conditions-based approach must be followed to assess if and when an autonomous military space organization will provide the best path forward. Read more.

Six Down To Earth Questions We Have About Trump's Space Force
TheDrive.com | 18 Jun 2018 | by Joseph Trevithick
 
President Donald Trump has directed the Pentagon to set up a dedicated Space Force as an independent, sixth branch of the U.S. military. It's a move that reflects the growing importance of American assets in space to any future operations and the subsequent need to be able to protect them from any kind of threat, but a significant number of questions about how the U.S. military will implement this order remain unanswered. Read more.
 
Proposed Space Force Would Pull Expertise From All Service Branches
USNI.org | 18 Jun 2018 | by Ben Werner
 
The White House’s proposed military Space Force would likely rely heavily on existing personnel from inside the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Army, plus a host of other intelligence agencies, experts told USNI News on Monday.
 
The Space Force was announced by President Trump on Monday. Trump’s directive doesn’t provide mission specifics, but the language suggests the Space Force would be charged with protecting both commercial and government assets in space.
 
“As space becomes increasingly contested, the demand for the Department of Defense to focus on protecting U.S. space assets and interests also increases. At the same time, the rapid commercialization of space requires a traffic management framework that protects U.S. interests and considers the private sector’s needs,” the directive reads. Read more.
 
Trump says he’s directing Pentagon to create a new ‘space force’
Washington Post | 18 Jun 2018 | by Sarah Kaplan and Dan Lamothe
 
President Trump said Monday that he would direct the Defense Department and the Pentagon to create a new “Space Force” — an independent sixth branch of the armed forces.
 
Trump has floated this idea before — in March, he said he initially conceived it as a joke — but has offered few details about how the Space Force would operate.
 
Trump said Monday that the branch would be “separate but equal” from the Air Force.
 
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would oversee its creation.
 
“It is not enough to have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space,” Trump said, adding that he didn't want to see “China and other countries leading us.” Read more.
 
Study: To fix Air Force pilot shortage, look to contractors — and forget about warrant officers
AirForceTimes.com | 18 Jun 2018 | by Stephen Losey
 
The Air Force should make greater use of contractors to bolster its pilot training capabilities as it works to fix its festering pilot shortfall once and for all, according to a new report released Monday.
 
But, researchers from the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies argue in their paper titled “Protecting the ‘Pipeline’: Overcoming the Air Force’s Pilot Shortage,” reviving the long-defunct warrant officer program would do nothing to fix the shortage of pilots, and Air Force leaders should reject the idea. Read more.
 
#SpaceForce takes Capitol Hill by storm • What is the true cost of space programs? • Space budget deep dive
SpaceNews.com | 21 Mar 2018 | by Sandra Erwin
 
The internet has been having fun with President Trump’s talk of creating a military space force. The president’s riff captured the public’s imagination, spawning memes and jokes about starship ninjas gearing up to fight the nation’s wars in space.
 
But the reality is far more boring and complicated. Before anyone rushes to design storm trooper helmets and uniforms, there is a congressionally mandated review under way — led by Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan — that will lay the groundwork for what comes next for the military’s space forces that are now part of the U.S. Air Force. Read more.
 
National security warrants focus on space — but not a separate Space Corps
defensenews.com | 27 Oct 2017 | by Keith Zuegel 
 
Secretary of Defense Gen. Jim Mattis wrote Congress declaring, “I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint war-fighting functions.”
 
Reorganizations are costly and time prohibitive, and Congress should first detail how a separate Space Corps would improve space capabilities while saving taxpayers’ money. Read more.
 
TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP)
The TRICARE Retiree Dental Plan (TRDP) will be ending on December 31, 2018. Retirees currently enrolled in or eligible for TRDP will have the option to secure dental coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP). The Federal Benefits Open Season is Nov 12 – Dec 10, 2018. Note: Retirees will not automatically be enrolled in the new program this Fall.
 
Prevent any gap in dental coverage for you and your family by visiting TRICARE.benefeds.com.

Quotes to Note

“We remain the best in the world in space and our adversaries know it.”
- Dr. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force; Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force; and CMSAF Kaleth Wright
 
“Establishing a service branch requires congressional action. We still don’t know what a Space Force would do, who is going to be in it, or how much is it going to cost…The congressionally mandated report evaluating a Space Force to answer those questions is due in August. After we get the report that we required as a legislative body and the President signed off on, then this issue can be appropriately evaluated for what’s best for national security.”
- Rep. Michael R. Turner, Chairman, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces
 
“We can’t even recapitalize the geriatric forces we have inside the Air Force, so where is this extra money [for a Space Force] going to come from?”
Lt Gen (Ret.) Dave Deptula, Dean, The Mitchell Institute
 
“My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea. We have the Air Force, we’ll have the Space Force."
- Pres. Donald J. Trump
 
“I personally think three or five years is the way to get it [Space Force] done without being too disruptive, because we have to keep using these assets while we’re in the process.”
- Rep. Mike Rogers, Chairman, House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

YOUR AIR FORCE – DID YOU KNOW?

The ‘kill’ ratio of the F-15A/C/I/S Eagle is 102-0-0. In the 1991 Gulf War alone, it was 32-0. That’s the asymmetric advantage of air superiority and why we need to maintain it.
 
In 1985, Major Wilbert Pearson launched an ASAT (anti-satellite) missile from an F-15A fighter and achieved a direct hit on a satellite orbiting 340 miles above Earth.
 
Which ‘underachieving’ Air Force pilot flew in the Air Force during the Korean War, had 86 combat missions, shot down two enemy aircraft, earned a doctorate, and later walked on the moon?