Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Magazine article National Defense

Washington Pulse

Article excerpt

PENTAGON'S AFRICAN COMMAND: WILL IT FLOAT?

While Pentagon officials fine-tune plans to create a new military command to oversee Africa, Navy leaders are floating a proposal to base that command s headquarters on a ship at sea.

Supporters contend that a Navy ship offers extra security and flexibility to move around as crises erupt. The high-tech vessel envisioned for this role also would be uniquely equipped to handle all forms of top-secret communications and command-and-control functions, says Rear Adm. Barry J. McCullough III, director of Navy surface warfare.

For many years, the Navy has wavered on the idea of building a state-of-the-art "joint command-and-control ship," and the project in recent years lost momentum as the Navy struggled to fund other ships. But the African Command would be a reason to resurrect a joint command-and-control ship, McCullough says. "Everyone knows we are going to stand up AFRICOM ... But where are we going to headquarter that command?" An "afloat command" is one option being mulled over, he says. "You have to have something to put the commanders and staff on with the right C4ISR to execute the mission."

'SPECIALTY METALS' LAW COSTS AIR FORCE BIG BUCKS

Air Force acquisition officials increasingly are becoming frustrated by a legislative mandate to comply with the Berry Amendment, which requires that all U.S. weapons be certified as containing only domestically produced "specialty metals." The law was passed in 1941 but only recently has the Defense Department been directed to clamp down and enforce the rule. Most U.S. weapons makers use foreign metals to keep their costs down, so they actively have sought relief from the legislation. During a recent meeting with industry executives, Air Force officials said that compliance with the Berry Amendment, on average, will add five years to the development cycle of major weapon programs and increase their costs by 75 percent.

LIGHTS ... CAMERA ... ANCHORS AWEIGH?

Movie studio engineers who normally ply their trade for Hollywood have set up shop in Great Lakes, Ill. They are putting the finishing touches on a replica of a Navy warship that is intended to dazzle potential recruits and to assist them in learning the ins and outs of modern naval technology.

The simulated guided-missile destroyer, called the USS Trayer, is being unveiled this month at Great Lakes, home of the Navy's recruiting command. To make sure the model accurately replicates the real thing, recruiting command officials have asked experienced sailors to evaluate how well it can simulate the sights, sounds and smells of being underway - and under attack. …

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