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Military News Briefs for the week of July 6, 2001

National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2001 – (This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Service articles for the week ending July 6, 2001.)

*** SCHWARTZ DISCUSSES IMPROVING QUALITY OF LIFE IN KOREA

The commander of U.S. forces in Korea envisions providing housing for about 25 percent of the American families in Korea by 2010 and 50 percent by 2020.

Service members and their families stationed in Korea live and work in "grim" conditions, including Quonset huts that were built after the armistice agreement in 1953, Army Gen. Thomas Schwartz said during a recent hearing on quality of life for U.S. forces stationed in Korea.

Not only are living and working conditions poor, service members assigned to Korea lose more money than service members in any other assignment in the world, said Schwartz. "We can do better; we must do better," he said.

For example, an E-5 in Korea gets about $19,000 per year, whereas that same rank in the Balkans, with tax relief and separate rations, computes out to more than $24,000-plus, he said.

Thousands of married service members on unaccompanied tours suffer a large pay loss by absorbing between $3,000 and $6,000 in "hidden costs" supporting two households, Schwartz said.

He said the United States needs to improve and fix the infrastructure, including renovations and building-to- lease. Under a Land Partnership Plan the Republic of Korea would pay two out of every three dollars to rehabilitate or build infrastructure in the future, the general noted.

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***AS EQUIPMENT AGES, READINESS SUFFERS, SAY DOD OFFICIALS

All the military services are facing readiness problems directly tied to allowing aircraft, equipment and infrastructure to age, DoD officials said.

The average age of aircraft, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, ships, light armored vehicles and many other pieces of equipment is increasing. As they age, they become more costly and difficult to repair and maintain.

This is a direct result of a "procurement holiday" the last administration took following the Cold War. "They started drawing down after the Cold War and instead of stopping, they overshot the mark and went way too far," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during an interview with American Forces Press Service.

The problem runs across the services. In the Air Force the average age of the air fleet is 22.2 years old. In the Navy, the average age of the air fleet is 18 years.

And this will only get worse. DoD officials said the average age of the Air Force air fleet will be 25 years old in fiscal 2007. In fiscal 2010, the average age of Navy F- 14 Tomcats will be 41 years. "Clearly, we have to modernize," said a DoD official speaking on background.

Issues with aging military equipment are not limited to air systems. In the Army the "deuce-and-a-half" truck will be 67 years old in fiscal 2017. "When do people trade in their cars - every six or seven years?" asked the official. "These vehicles and systems have the same problems the family car has. There's fatigue and corrosion that you cannot see."

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***

NEW FUNERAL PROGRAM TEAMS MILITARY, VETS' GROUPS

DoD is teaming with veterans service organizations across the country to enhance traditional funeral ceremonies that honor the nation's military veterans.

Charles S. Abell, assistant secretary of defense for force management policy, said the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other groups will be asked to augment DoD- provided personnel at military funerals by providing volunteers to serve as color guards, rifle detail members, pallbearers and buglers. "We want to provide the appropriate honors to veterans who pass away," he said. "The veterans organizations want to help us, and we would like to have their help. (The program) will enhance the honors that can be rendered with their performance."

The 2000 Defense Authorization Act authorizes the program. The partnered veterans groups have augmented DoD efforts and "provided enhancements" to military funerals in the past, Abell said. Such help has been historically encouraged and authorized, he noted.

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***

NAVY-MARINE CORPS INTRANET GIRDS FOR CYBER-ATTACKS The precedent-setting Navy- Marine Corps Intranet will harness the latest information security technologies and practices to ward off computer hackers seeking to compromise the system, DoD officials say.

Information superiority is a key goal as the department moves into the 21st century, said Scott Henderson, the NMCI information assurance division chief with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego. Safeguarding that information, he added, is crucial to mission success.

"One of our critical capabilities will be how we are able to defend our information and our information systems from an adversary's attack," Henderson said June 26 at an NMCI news conference, here. "The Navy-Marine Corps Intranet will be one of the primary vehicles within the Department of the Navy to actually achieve that mission."

The $6 billion, NMCI network is DoD's largest information technology contract ever, Pentagon officials noted. The system is slated for completion in 2003 and will consolidate 200 separate Navy and Marine Corps computer systems involving some 400,000 desktop machines. Army and Air Force computer systems, officials said, will be interoperable with the NMCI.

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