Belleville

Roger That: New leader for Air Operations Center at Scott

News-Democrat

Brig. Gen. Brian Robinson succeeded Maj. Gen. Timothy Zadalis as commander, 618th Air Operations Center /Tanker Airlift Control Center, in a change-of-command ceremony held Monday, according to the center’s public affairs office.

Robinson took over command after serving as the vice commander of the 618th operations center. Robinson assumes responsibility for planning, scheduling, directing and assessing a fleet of about 1,100 aircraft in support of combat delivery and strategic airlift, air refueling and aeromedical operations around the world.

The new commander expressed enthusiasm for his new assignment. “No one gets it done like we do,” he said. “I look forward to continuing with you, working with you and enabling you for your successes because there are many yet to come.”

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The U.S. government agreed Thursday to provide millions of dollars in disability benefits to as many as 2,100 Air Force reservists and active-duty forces exposed to Agent Orange residue on airplanes used in the Vietnam War, according to a story Thursday on the Stars and Stripes website.

The new federal rule, approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget, takes effect Friday. It adds to an Agent Orange-related caseload that already makes up 1 out of 6 disability checks issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to the newspaper.

The projected cost over 10 years is $47.5 million, with separate health care coverage adding to the price tag.

"Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do," VA Secretary Bob McDonald said in a statement.

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The Air Force spends millions of dollars more than it needs to on spare parts for the C-130 air cargo plane, and something needs to be done about it, according to a report issued by a top Pentagon watchdog, according to Air Force Times.

The Defense Logistics Agency's Aviation office has “accumulated inventory unique to the C-130 aircraft that exceeded actual customer orders,” said the inspector general, the Pentagon's internal investigative and oversight office.

The watchdog evaluated 68 different parts the DLA had in inventory worth $16 million, but found the military was only using $1.36 million of those parts per year between 2012 and 2014.

“If inventory management is not improved, DLA Aviation will continue to acquire future inventory that exceeds customers' actual orders,”the IG said. “Additionally, DLA Aviation will use funds to manage and store this inventory, resulting in increased materiel prices to its customers.”

Part of the problem, investigators said, is that DLA never changed its orders once the purchasing process was started.

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Much of the damage from the massive hack into federal government computers could have been avoided if those computers had featured encryption and blocking software. But such safeguards weren’t installed because the government computers were too old and their software too out-of-date, according to the independent military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported.

Up to 14 million records of current and retired government employees were apparently stolen by Chinese hackers. Most of the records were not encrypted, and software designed to block known computer breaches has not been installed to protect most of the files, officials said Tuesday.

The latest disclosure came as officials continue to investigate two devastating hacks into the files of the Office of Personnel Management, the federal government’s human resources agency. The cyberattacks have exposed how vulnerable and outdated are many of the computer systems that the federal government uses to store details collected for job applications, security clearances and other needs.

Intelligence officials are concerned that Chinese intelligence services or others could use the sensitive information, which can include medical histories and other personal details, to blackmail or otherwise recruit spies in the U.S. government and to design carefully tailored emails to infect computers of federal workers with access to secret files.

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As the U.S. Air Force pushes to retire its fleet of A-10 attack aircraft, Boeing Co. doesn’t want the planes to waste away in the Arizona bone yard — it wants to sell them abroad, according to the website DoDBuzz

The Chicago-based aerospace giant has begun discussions with the service about potentially selling the Cold War-era gunship known as the Warthog to U.S. allies, according to Chris Raymond, a vice president at the company.

“There’s been talk about what the international opportunities might be,” he said on Tuesday at the Paris Air Show, held at the historic Le Bourget airfield outside the city. “We’re going to stay close to the U.S. Air Force in this case. They have to make some decisions about what they actually have that they’re willing to declare as excess defense articles and so it’s really not our place to speculate on that.”

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The Iraqi military’s efforts to fend off the Islamic State are being hampered by its problems in recruiting enough troops, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Carter told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that training efforts in Iraq so far have been “slowed”by a lack of Iraqi volunteers, sparking concerns about how effective those security forces can be in pushing back the advancing enemy, according to a story in Military Times.

U.S. officials had hoped to train about 24,000 new Iraqi fighters by this fall, but so far have seen only a third of that total in the four training sites set up across the country.

“As I've told Iraqi leaders, while the United States is open to supporting Iraq more than we already are, we must see a greater commitment from all parts of the Iraqi government,” Carter said.

Earlier this month, President Obama announced plans to send 450 U.S. personnel to Iraq's military base in Anbar province to set up a new training site with local security forces.

Roger That is a regular feature by BND military beat reporter Mike Fitzgerald. Contact him at mfitzgerald@bnd.com or 618-239-2533.

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