By Alan W. Dowd

Air Force Shortfalls

The Air Force has lost more than 160 warplanes “to accidents and enemy action” since the 9/11 attacks, according to a report published by Air Force Magazine. The report concludes that “inadequate budgets…have made it possible for USAF to buy few, if any, replacements for aircraft lost or retired because of their age, soaring maintenance costs or safety concerns.”

The result is a reduction in the fleet’s size and “a growing concern about the Air Force’s future ability to meet the demands of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention those generated by USAF’s other global responsibilities.”

There have been 26 aircraft lost to combat or accidents in operations falling under CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, according to the report, and 103 Air Force personnel have been killed in operations related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Missile Defense Review

A new DoD report on missile defense concludes, “The ballistic missile threat is increasing both quantitatively and qualitatively, and is likely to continue to do so over the next decade.” North Korea and Iran top the threat list. Among the qualitative threat issues, the report notes that:

-“More states are moving to advanced liquid-propellant systems and even to solid-propellant systems, which increase flexibility, mobility, survivability, and reliability.”
-“Ranges are increasing, putting ever more targets at risk.”
-“Accuracy is increasing, making these systems more effective against point targets.”
-“Some states are working to defeat missile defenses, through both technical and operational countermeasures.”
-“Some states are also taking steps to increase the protection of their ballistic missiles from pre-launch attack, including through more aggressive denial and deception practices.”

Thanks to investments and improvements in ground-based midcourse defenses, “the United States possesses a capability to counter the projected threat from North Korea and Iran for the foreseeable future.”

The report notes that continued development of land- and sea-based defenses, including a land-based variant of the Aegis anti-missile system dubbed “Aegis Ashore,” will help counter “the expanding regional threat.”

Read the report at www.defense.gov/bmdr .

New Name

Seven years after it began, the U.S. campaign in Iraq has been renamed “Operation New Dawn.” The Washington Post reports the new name will come into force by September. According to a memo penned by Defense Secretary Robert Gates the new codename aims to “recognize our evolving relationship with the Government of Iraq.”

As a contributing editor to The American Legion Magazine, Dowd writes columns and news briefs on national security, foreign affairs and U.S. politics each month for the magazine's "Rapid Fire" section.