The Week Ahead in Defense: April 23

French President Emmanuel Macron visits the U.S. military corral at the Paris Air Show, June 19, 2017 at Le Bourget, France. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ryan Crane)
French President Emmanuel Macron visits the U.S. military corral at the Paris Air Show, June 19, 2017 at Le Bourget, France. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ryan Crane)

 

1. FRENCH PRESIDENT SALUTES MARINE CORPS

From Military.com's Richard Sisk:

"French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday that he is bringing a living tribute to "Devil Dog" Marines who fell in the World War I battle of Belleau Wood to the White House this week as a symbol of the two nations' enduring ties.

The oak sapling from the battle site will be presented to President Donald Trump in hopes that it will be planted in the White House garden, Macron said in an interview on the 'Fox News Sunday' program from the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Macron arrives in the U.S. Monday on a three-day visit that is expected to focus on the way forward in Syria following the April 13 missile strikes, and on France's concern that Trump next month may pull the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to halt Iran's nuclear programs."

 

2. RACE ON FOR HYPERSONICS TECH

From Military.com’s Oriana Pawlyk:

"If the great Space Race that began in the 1950s helped define technologies that would take satellites and mankind into space, a new kind of global competition today will define technologies that move at more than five times the speed of sound.

The U.S. Air Force this week awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a contract to develop a prototype hypersonic cruise missile, or the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon. The project -- one of two hypersonic weapon prototyping efforts the service is pursuing -- could cost as much as $928 million over the course of its lifetime.

The award comes as Pentagon officials say they fear the U.S. may be lagging behind in hypersonics, while rivals Russia and China have made hypersonic technologies national programs of record and have made recent advances. Like nuclear weapons, officials have said speedy weapons can act as deterrents, as well as game changers, in responding to conflict from hundreds of miles away."

 

3. ARMY SET TO MISS RECRUITING GOALS

From Richard Sisk:

"The Army will fall short of its recruiting goals this year but eventually wants to have a force of 500,000 active duty troops, Army Secretary Mark Esper said Friday.

The Army had sought to recruit 80,000 troops this year, a major increase over the 69,000 brought into the service last year, but has now lowered the goal to 76,500 new troops, Esper and Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey said at an off-camera session with Pentagon reporters.

Esper and Dailey attributed the shortfall to a number of factors, including the improving economy and the low unemployment rate that has private employers competing for new hires.

Esper said the current goal was to increase the strength of the active duty force to 483,500 but said he expected the force would have to grow to 500,000 to decrease the operational tempo that ‘sees our soldiers on this hamster wheel’ of deployment after deployment with little time at home."

 

4. AIRMAN APPROVED FOR MEDAL OF HONOR

From Oriana Pawlyk

"The U.S. Air Force is set to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to an airman for the first time since the Vietnam War, according to an exclusive report from Task & Purpose.

The White House will award Tech Sgt. John Chapman, who was killed in eastern Afghanistan in 2002 while serving as a radioman with Navy SEALs, the highest award for military valor in a ceremony later this year, T&P said on Friday.

In 2016, then-Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James reportedly pushed to elevate Chapman's award. Chapman was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross in 2003.

Chapman's final hours in Afghanistan were unveiled in new details first obtained by The New York Times. New evidence from drone footage showed that Chapman fought al-Qaida fighters alone on a mountainside after his unit departed, the Times said."

 

5. SERVICE CHIEFS SPEAK ON TRANSGENDER TROOPS

From Richard Sisk:

"Top military leaders have gone public in the past week to disagree with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on the possible erosion of ‘unit cohesion’ and readiness that Mattis said might come from allowing transgender troops to serve openly in the ranks.

The latest to come forward was Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey.

'We haven't heard' of any problems with unit cohesion since transgender troops were cleared to serve under the Obama administration in 2016, Dailey said at an off-camera session with Pentagon reporters Friday.

In addition, 'I have received no formal reports' on dissension in the ranks or morale problems caused by the presence of transgender troops, Dailey said.

In testimony before SASC on Thursday, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Gen. Robert Neller, the Marine Commandant, also said they have seen no discipline, readiness or unit cohesion problems arising from having transgender individuals serve openly.

Adm. Paul Zukunft, the Coast Guard Commandant, said the Coast Guard has no problems with allowing transgender individuals to serve openly."

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