Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is pushing back on criticism from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., over Russian rocket engines, according to The Hill.
McCain wrote an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal this week blasting Durbin and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., for inserting a provision in the 2016 spending bill that allows the United States to keep buying rocket engines from Russia.
McCain argued the move would support Russian President Vladimir Putin despite his aggressive moves in Ukraine.
Durbin accused McCain of stretching the truth in his own letter to the editor for the Journal Thursday.
“I am co-chairman of the Ukrainian Caucus in the Senate, and my long-held feelings about President Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of that sovereign nation are well established,” Durbin wrote. “Having been personally invited by Sen. McCain to accompany him to Ukraine, he knows his suggestion that he is the only one truly willing to confront Mr. Putin is shameless.”
The spending bill reversed a provision championed by McCain in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that limited buys of the Russian engine, called RD-180, to nine in an effort to cover rocket launches until U.S. companies could produce an American-made engine.
The Air Force must stop relying on older aircraft. It needs to invest in cutting-edge platforms, Gen. Mark Welsh, the service’s chief of staff, told Congress, according to Military Times.
“The platforms and systems that made us great over the last 50 years will not make us great over the next 50 years,” Welsh told a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
Though the general did not mention the A-10 Thunderbolt II directly, the Air Force and Congress have butted heads over the possible retirement of the 40-year-old Warthog. The service has repeatedly tried to decommission the plane and shift its resources and maintenance personnel over to the new F-35 Lightning II.
But Congress isn’t convinced the F-35 can fulfill the close-air support role, and in previous years’ budgets has included language forbidding the Air Force from retiring the plane.
In the budget for fiscal 2017 released Tuesday, the Air Force relented and said it would not consider retiring the plane until 2022. The Air Force estimates it will cost $3.4 billion to keep the A-10 in service for the next five years.
The Marine Corps may be approaching a steady-state end strength of 182,000 troops, but that doesn't necessarily mean personnel cutbacks are over.
Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Thursday that the Corps may consider scaling back its infantry population or operational forces -- with an emphasis on cutting from the most junior ranks -- in order to create space for an increase in its cyberwarfare community, according to Military.com.
Speaking at an Atlantic Council event in Washington, D.C., Neller said he was looking hard at tradeoffs as the Marine Corps sought to develop well-trained, mature cyber warriors.
The Corps, he said, had two options: to ask for an end strength increase after several years of drawing down, or restructure existing forces for a new mission. Neller said he would probably know how many cyber Marines the Corps needed by this summer, and then it would take an unspecified period of time to realize that growth.
The pilots are known as Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. They flew military aircraft in noncombat roles to free up male pilots for combat. They were considered civilians until Congress granted them veteran status in 1977.
For years, the women were permitted to have their ashes placed at Arlington. But last year, the Army reversed course. Cemetery officials say WASPs never should have been let in and that space in the cemetery is limited.
On Thursday, a group of senators led by Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson and Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal called on Acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy to restore WASPs' eligibility.