New leadership for Air Force Acquisitions, Logistics
On Feb. 11, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James announced that Darlene Costello, a senior acquisition official in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, is assuming the duties of the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and Logistics.
Costello replaces Richard Lombardi, who was reassigned to duties outside of the Air Force acquisition portfolio. This reassignment follows Lombardi’s voluntary disclosure that he had not reported a Northrop Grumman retirement account held by his spouse in his annual public financial disclosure form.
After being informed of the matter, James removed Lombardi’s acquisition duties, and referred the issue to the Department of Defense Inspector General.
Czechs propose to send pilot trainers to Iraq
The Czech defense minister says he is planning to send about 30 instructors and military technicians to Iraq to train pilots for Czech-made planes.
Martin Stropnicky says the Czech initiative is part of international efforts to help Iraq fight Islamic State militants and he discussed it during a meeting in Brussels with U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
The Czechs have agreed to sell to Iraq 15 Czech-made L-159 light combat planes. The deal is currently waiting for the green light from Britain. On a visit to Brussels Thursday, Stropnicky said he hopes Britain will soon lift its objections.
The Czechs have already trained four Iraqi plane pilots and dozens of helicopter pilots in the Czech Republic. They have also given the Iraqi army weapons, ammunition, grenades and anti-tank grenade launchers. AP
Putin praises Russian military over Crimea maneuvers
President Vladimir Putin says the Russian military in Crimea has proven its capability during war games this week.
Putin spoke during a Feb. 11 conference call with his top military leaders, who were overseeing maneuvers on the Black Sea Peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in March 2014.
The drills in Crimea are part of a massive exercise across southwestern Russia this week that involves troops of the Southern Military District. The Defense Ministry said the maneuvers involve up to 8,500 troops, 900 ground weapons, 200 warplanes and about 50 warships in the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
Putin said the maneuvers have demonstrated the military’s “readiness to firmly ensure Russia’s security” in its southwest, including Crimea. He added that the defense ministry should continue holding such exercises. AP
Carter: NATO to draw up plans to counter human trafficking
NATO military authorities will draw up plans for how the alliance could help shut down illegal migration and smuggling of people across the Aegean Sea, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Feb. 11.
Carter made the announcement at a press conference after three NATO allies — Turkey, Germany and Greece — requested alliance participation in an international effort to help ease Europe’s gravest migration crisis since World War II.
The three countries made the request at a NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels. NATO ministers “tasked NATO military authorities to provide its advice for options for implementing it,” Carter said.
NATO’s Military Committee will review those recommendations and submit them to the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s chief decision-making body.
Earlier this week, the International Organization for Migration said 409 people have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, and that nearly 10 times as many migrants crossed in the first six weeks of 2016 as in the same period last year. Most come from Turkey to Greece and then try to head north through Europe to more prosperous countries like Germany and Sweden.
IOM said 76,000 people — nearly 2,000 per day — have reached Europe by sea since Jan. 1.
“There is now a criminal syndicate which is exploiting these poor people,” Carter said. “Targeting that is the greatest way an effect could be had.”
During a visit to The Hague Feb. 10, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he and his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, agreed to work together with NATO and Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, “against the human traffickers who exploit the Syrian refugees and pave the way for their deaths at sea.” AP
Boeing to cut commercial airplane workforce
Boeing says it will be eliminating commercial airplane jobs as part of a cost-cutting effort.
The company provided no specific numbers but Doug Alder, spokesman for the aerospace giant, said in a statement Feb. 10 the company would begin the reductions with executives and managers. Alder said the reductions would ultimately affect “employment levels across all” of the commercial airplane unit. Attrition and voluntary layoffs would be used at first. However Alder said “involuntary layoffs may be necessary.”
The Seattle Times reports that Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner announced the job action in a webcast to all employees.
Boeing approached the International Association of Machinists union last week to discuss a voluntary layoff program. Union spokesman Bryan Corliss told the newspaper the company has provided no details. AP