Metro-East News

Roger That: Tops In Blue tour suffered truck wrecks, other mishaps during 2012 tour

Mike Fitzgerald
Mike Fitzgerald

Tops in Blue, the Air Force’s traveling stage show, is the subject of an in-depth Air Force Times story that focuses on its rocky 2012 world tour.

Tour mishaps included back-to-back truck wrecks, one of which led to a tipped-over tractor trailer. Allegations also cropped up of toxic leadership and rampant and persistent sexual harassment, resulting in two commander-directed investigations, both of which substantiated many of the concerns raised by former members, according to the Air Force Times.

Tops In Blue, formed in the late 1950s as an offshoot of an Air Force-wide talent contest, performs its last scheduled show on Jan. 15 at Scott Air Force Base. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James last week ordered the troupe to go on hiatus, with its 35 active duty airmen re-assigned to their home bases, for an indefinite period of time while the Air Force ponders its future amid cost-cutting concerns and its effectiveness as a tool for recruitment and morale enhancement.

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Politico features on its website a scathing story about the Defense Logistics Agency entitled, “How do you buy $7 billion of stuff you don’t need?”

Created in 1961 by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s, the DLA has grown into a global, $44 billion operation that, were it a private enterprise, would rank in the Fortune 50. Its 25,000 employees process roughly 100,000 orders a day for everything from poultry to pharmaceuticals, precious metals to aircraft parts.

Led by military officials with little or no private-sector experience, DLA is systemically overcharged for parts, buys things the military doesn’t need — like 80 years worth of aircraft frames for a plane that will likely be out of use long before then. The Government Accountability Office in 2010 estimated that about half of the agency’s inventory — said to be worth nearly $14 billion at the time — was just taking up space.

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Goodbye GPS, and hello ACES.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, plans to replace Global Positions Systems, or GPS, with Atomic Clocks with Enhanced Stability, ACES, according to a report posted on the Defense World website.

Better clocks could reduce one of the more worrisome modern-day national security vulnerabilities: a deep and growing dependence on the GPS, not just within the military but among numerous civilian sectors of the economy. The longer that clocks on Earth or on aircraft can maintain extreme accuracy in the absence of satellite reference signals, the lower the impact of any loss of satellite contact, whether caused by natural forces or adversarial activities.

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Twenty-one armored bulldozers supplied by the U.S. played a key role in the successful assault by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) on Ramadi’s city center but Islamic State holdouts posed a continuing threat, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said Tuesday, according to Military.com.

In a sign that Ramadi had not been fully secured, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was forced to cut short a victory visit to the city Tuesday when three mortar rounds hit about 500 meters from his convoy into the city.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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