Metro-East News

Roger That: U.S. Transportation Command wins Joint Meritorious Unit Award

Gen. Darren W. McDew, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, based at Scott Air Force Base, has presented the service members and civilians of Transcom with the Joint Meritorious Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service. McDew attached the streamer denoting the command’s achievement before an audience that represented the 118,000 men and women of Transcom and its service components: Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC), U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, andAir Mobility Command.

Presented by Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the gold-framed ribbon is for U.S. military members who were assigned to the headquarters between Jan. 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2014.

According to the citation, the command completed more than 15 million shipments, moving 110 million short tons of cargo, transferring 6 billion gallons of fuel, and the deployment of more than 1,800 specialists in direct support of global operations.

Global operations that the command participated in during that time period include crisis response to the chemical weapons in Syria, where, the command modified Motor Vessel (MV) Cape Ray was used to neutralize 600 tons of deadly chemical agents.

During this time, the command also orchestrated deployment of contingency response forces and synchronized aerial delivery of 35,000 gallons of water and 116,000 meals to beleaguered Iraqis besieged by the Islamic State.

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The Air Force’s signature aircraft have signature nicknames. The B-52 bomber is the Stratofortress. The B-2 bomber is called Spirit. The new KC-46A air tanker is Pegasus, according to Air Force Times.

Now how about a name for the B-21, otherwise known as the Air Force’s Long Range Strike Bomber?

On Monday the Air Force released a submission form and official guidelines for anyone that wants to suggest a name, according to Air Force Times.

Names should be no longer than two words, and you must include a description (maximum of 200 words) on why you think the name is a good fit.

The top ten finalists will be selected by a panel of officials from Global Strike Command and Air Force Headquarters, then submitted to James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh for final consideration.

There’s a limit of three submissions per person, and entries are due May 6.

An unofficial poll conducted by Defense News found that “Valkyrie” was the most popular suggestion, with “Wraith” coming in second.

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A controversial proposal that aims to end the military's "up-or-out" rules for officer promotions remains a source of debate and disagreement among the Pentagon’s top leaders, according to Military Times.

The proposal to reform the federal laws that regulate officer careers was central to Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s slate of personnel reforms — he called it "Force of the Future" — outlined last year. But the military’s top four-star officers balked and the matter remains under review.

“It is still in the deliberative process. Let me just say it’s been a fulsome debate,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told Military Times in a recent interview.

Changing the 1980 law known as the Defense Officer Personal Management Act, or DOPMA, could fundamentally redefine the officer corps’ career tracks, where promotions are mainly based on seniority rather than demonstrated talents and skills. The initiative could apply to the military's enlisted force as well, but that would not require congressional action to change federal law. The individual services have the authority to adjust enlisted manpower policies as needed to shape size and makeup.

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Hypersonic missiles that travel five times the speed of sound — or nearly 4,000 mph —could help the Air Force penetrate advanced anti-air systems that are being fielded by potential adversaries, a group of congressmen and experts said Tuesday, as reported by Air Force Times.

“Hypersonics is no longer Buck Rogers stuff,” said retired Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, former head of the Air Force Research Laboratory. “Hypersonic weapons are now both important for us to develop, and they are inevitable for somebody to develop. It’s time to get serious and focused about not falling behind.”

The super-fast missiles could allow the U.S. to threaten targets deep in enemy territory that are protected by advanced anti-air and aerial denial systems. Especially in a fight with a near-peer adversary such as Russia or China, hypersonic missiles would allow the U.S. to speed past outer defenses to strike vulnerable targets, without risking pilots lingering too long in areas where they would be in danger of getting shot down.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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