Washington Pulse

By Ndia Staff

More Headaches in Kosovo-NATO's top commander, U.S. Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark predicts Russia "will continue to be a problem" for the Western alliance trying to keep peace in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. That is because Russia's military is "playing domestic politics," Clark told a small group of colleagues in Washington, D.C. And, he added, because there is no formal peace agreement in Kosovo, the post-war mission there "is not going to be like Bosnia."

TOO MANY THEATERS - "It's a good military, what's left of it," said Rep. Floyd Spence (R-S.C.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, at a recent NDIA sponsored breakfast. According to Spence, the United States is not able now to fight wars in two theaters. "We simply don't have the people to do it."

UNDERSEA STEALTH - Air power is getting the credit for the recent North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) success in Yugoslavia, but Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) is pleased by the performance of Navy submarines, which fired precision-guided missiles from beneath the Adriatic Sea deep into Yugoslavia. Submarines proved their value as truly stealthy weapons platforms, said Lieberman, ranking minority member of the Senate Air-Land Forces Subcommittee. "My view is that we're going to be building even more subs in the years ahead." Submarines are built in his home state and Virginia, home of Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

UNUSUAL OPENNESS - When ammunition is running low, commanders typically do not share that information with the enemy. Strangely enough, however, only days into NATO's air war, it was widely reported that the U.S. Air Force was rapidly depleting its inventory of air-launched cruise missiles. Such unusual openness was necessary to "convince Congress" to provide more funding to replace the missiles, said Gen. Richard Hawley, who recently retired as head of the Air Force's Air Combat Command. "I don't think it's a good idea [to let the] adversary know you have a constraint," Hawley told reporters. But the "political system doesn't allow you to keep it secret."

KEEPING THE FAITH - Following the recent Chinese espionage scandal that has plagued Los Alamos National Laboratory, the lab's director, Dr. John C. Browne, said the New Mexico-based facility is working to restore the country's faith. "Our feeling is that we have to demonstrate ... that the lab can be trusted," said Browne at a defense writers' breakfast in Washington, D.C. "The thing that hits me ... is the feeling that the country no longer trusts Los Alamos."

BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY? The military services have been criticized heavily in recently years for being too conservative and slow to adjust to the post-Cold War era. But the executive director of the Defense Department's new National Security Group, which is preparing studies for the next administration, says that is OK. "The services are generally conservative institutions, and I'd rather have them stay that way," said retired Air Force Gen. Charles G. Boyd. "They should be cautious about leaping into new technologies."

AGING AIRCRAFT - Air Force plans to retain some of its already elderly aircraft well into the next century are unsettling even to some senior officials. "The average age of the fighter fleet should be 10 years," said recently retired Maj. Gen. George Stringer, former budget director for the Air Force. "It's 20 today. We don't know how to predict parts failure in 20-year-old aircraft." If the B-52 is still flying in 2037, as currently planned, Stringer said, "we'll have pilots flying the same planes as their granddads."

ANYBODY CAN PLAY - One reason that policy makers are getting more interested in anti-ballistic missile defenses is that it is getting steadily easier for even the poorest countries to develop their own missile system. By 2015, any country that wants to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile will be able to do so, according to the latest projections by the Central Intelligence Agency.

A WIDE UMBRELLA - A nation that takes missile defense very seriously is Israel, which was struck 39 times by Scuds during the Persian Gulf War. Miraculously, there were no casualties, but Israel doesn't want to be a target ever again. It is testing a theater missile defense system, called Arrow, which Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens calls "the most advanced and successful" anti-ballistic system so far. When deployed, an Arrow battery would protect not only Israel, but also the West Bank, Lebanon and Turkey, Arens recently told an industry lunch in Washington, D.C.

Topics: Aviation, Air Force News, Defense Department

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