The Navy nabbed a lot of headlines again this week. Leading the way is news that subs are now officially open to women. In other career news, the active duty master chiefs list was released. The Coast Guard is holding its ground in the oil spill – and against critics. and the Army cancelled the Non-Line of Sight Launch System, which will likely have significant ramifications for the Littoral Combat Ship.
Here’s seven stories in seven minutes from the past seven days that you may not have seen, but are worthy of notice:
1. New skippers. Coast Guard Vice Adm. Robert Papp Jr. will become the service’s 24th commandant May 25 when Adm. Thad Allen retires. Papp is commander of the Coast Guard Atlantic Area/Defense Force East, and served as the Coast Guard chief of staff from 2006 to 2008.
The Navy’s airdales are getting a new skipper, too. Rear Adm. Allen Myers will get a third star and take the stick as commander of Naval Air Forces and Naval Air Force Pacific in San Diego this summer.
Myers is an Air Force Academy grad, but don’t hold that against him. The Tomcat pilot has more than 3,600 flight hours and 900+ arrested landings. He also has commanded Kitty Hawk and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.
2. In Haiti, in case. The military’s role in Haiti is expected to see big cuts after May, but the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima will be on standby for the hurricane season.
The ship will provide medical support throughout the Caribbean from June through November, and will never be more than two days from Haiti, according to Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, commander of U.S. Southern Command.
At the height of its support efforts, the united States had 22,000 forces deployed in or around Haiti. There were 7,000 boots on the ground and the remainder were aboard 15 Navy ships.
3. Lawmaker wants sub analysis to surface. SSBN(X) could be in trouble unless the Navy coughs up its analysis of the program, according to this report from Christopher P. Cavas, our esteemed colleague at Defense News and guru of all things nautical.
Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying the Navy “refuses to share” the analysis of alternatives that Taylor says was completed last year. Taylor oversees Navy programs on Capitol Hill and is threatening to recommend against funding development of the new ballistic missile sub if he doesn’t get the data he seeks.
4. Smaller pay raises ahead? A Senate subcommittee thinks you’re priceless, but feels 12 consecutive years of big pay raises is enough.
It’s not a matter of pinching pennies. It will cost $350 million to give service members a raise that is one-half percentage point more than the civilian sector will see, but the Congressional Budget Office says this will only convince about 1,000 people to stay in uniform. But if that money is used for bonuses, it could help keep the experience and training of 11,000 people in the ranks.
You can read about the plan and possibilities here.
5. Joint Warrior 10-1 comes to an end. DESRON 24 made the most of the Brit’s semi-annual two-week exercise, which offered joint training with Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, according to the Navy.
The skipper hosted British and Brazilian service members aboard the destroyer Laboon. We’re not sure whether coffee or tea won the day on the mess decks, but both nations were thankful for the opportunity.
The U.S. ships were rewarded with a port call in Faslane, Scotland, and are now headed to the Baltic Sea region.
6. Former Navy Secretary turned senator asks: Are there too many flag and general officers? Specifically, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., wants to know why the number of stars hasn’t diminished in the same proportion as the military they serve. Webb, chairman of the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee, said he is just asking questions at this point, according to this story.
For the record, DoD says there were 38 four-stars, 149 three-stars, 299 two-stars and 464 one-stars on active duty at the end of March.
Webb also set his sights on a program that sends officers provide insight to think tanks in the Washington, D.C., then pays tuition to the think tanks. He wants more info, and has threatened to possibly hold up DoD civilian nominations if he doesn’t get answers.
7. Pirates have their day in court. Nine of 11 Somali nationals accused of pirate attacks on two Navy ships off Africa had formal arraignments in Norfolk today to enter pleas. Another entered a “not guilty” plea Wednesday, and the 11th man is expected to plead next week.
Attorneys have a lot of complaints, none of the defendants speak English and all face mandatory life terms. This could get interesting.
In closing … Fair winds and following seas to the Los Angeles-class attack sub Louisville, which sailed Monday from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a six-month deployment to the western Pacific. And Bravo Zulu to the crew of the destroyer Hopper, which returned to Pearl after a successful seven-month pump to the 5th and 7th Fleet AORs.