Inside Opinion

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Tag: Air Force


Military must do more to address sexual-assault crisis

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Nothing better sums up the military’s problem regarding sexual assault than the mug shot of Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski.

Jeffrey Krusinski
Jeffrey Krusinski

The officer in charge of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention programs had been arrested — on suspicion of sexual battery in a parking lot against a woman he did not know. Police say she fought him off and called 911.

That someone like Krusinski – an Air Force Academy graduate – may not have gotten the message about unwanted sexual advances shows how far the military still must go to address the problem.

And it’s a big one. Based on anonymous surveys, the Defense Department estimates that about 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012 – an increase of almost 37 percent over the previous year. Sexual assault was defined as anything from rape to “unwanted sexual touching” of private parts. Only 3,374 of those assaults were reported in 2012.

Why are so few reported? The survey suggests that victims fear retaliation and have little confidence that the military will prosecute the offense. Read more »


State stands to weather storm of defense cutbacks

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The Obama administration’s plan to trim the defense budget by $487 billion over the next decade – about 8 percent – has some critics saying it cuts too deeply and others saying it doesn’t cut enough.

But hardly anyone is disputing that Washington state’s military facilities are as well poised as any to weather the cutbacks in the new age of austerity – and perhaps even benefit from them.

That’s because as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the Pentagon’s focus is shifting to threats along the Pacific Rim. For operations in that region, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the state’s naval bases in Everett and on the Kitsap Peninsula have a geographical advantage over just about any other state’s military installations. Read more »


The tanker goes to Boeing, comes to Washington

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington needs all the morale boosts it can get right now. It got a big one Thursday when Boeing won the $35 billion contract to build the Air Force’s new aerial refueling tankers.

Hooray for the home team, or something like that. The Boeing Co. is now headquartered in Chicago, but most of the expected 11,000 tanker-dependent jobs will be created in Western Washington; perhaps 1,000 of those jobs will go to Kansas.

The planned gas-station-in-the-sky will be a modified version of the 767, an old model Boeing had planned to

Read more »


This time, let’s have a non-botched tanker decision

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The third time’s a charm – we devoutly hope – with the Air Force’s snake-bit effort to replace its ancient KC-135 aerial refueling tankers.

Last Thursday, The Boeing Co. and its archrival European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. submitted yet another pair of bids for the $35 billion-plus contract to build America’s next tanker. The Pentagon expects to pick a winner fairly quickly, perhaps in a matter of weeks.

Anticipation is high, and not just because of the money and jobs at stake. No one can be quite sure the Air Force won’t blow this decision once more.

Aerial refueling is the linchpin of most of America’s global military operations, and it is approaching the breaking point.

The oldest KC-135s rolled out more than a half century ago, when color television was a rare novelty. The military was supposed to start getting new planes five years ago.

But the first attempt to award the contract collapsed in a corruption scandal, and the second fell apart in 2008 when auditors discovered that the Air Force had made billion-dollar blunders when it awarded the work to EADS.
Read more »


The WTO makes the case against an Airbus tanker

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Is that all you got, WTO?

Americans rooting for the Boeing Co.’s success have been waiting apprehensively for a World Trade Organization’s ruling on whether the U.S. government has been unfairly subsidizing the aerospace company’s commercial jets.

The answer, announced last week, was yes. According to the arbiters of international free trade, Boeing’s jets have benefited from about $5 billion in illegal assistance.

Two billion dollars of that is a 10-year-old, recycled complaint about a federal tax advantage that has long since been rescinded. The remainder, roughly $3 billion, includes

Read more »


No more do-overs for Air Force tanker

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

At some point, the Air Force will replace its Eisenhower-era fleet of aerial refueling tankers. Just don’t count on it happening anytime soon.

On Friday, Pentagon officials said they will consider extending a May deadline to allow a European aviation giant to bid for the $35 billion tanker contract.

European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. isn’t sure it wants to bid, mind you. EADS, the parent company of Boeing rival Airbus, is just looking for more time to weigh its options.

Three additional months, to be exact. Three additional months, in a controversy-riddled saga that’s been unfolding for nearly nine years. By the time the Air Force could get around to awarding a contract, the process would have stretched nearly a decade.

Read more »


Lewis-McChord: A welcome new partnership

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Goodbye Fort Lewis. So long, McChord Air Force Base.

As of this month, the South Sound’s two immense military installations have fused into Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The Air Force and Army have officially tied the knot. The motto on the combined base’s logo emphasizes the partnership: “Soldiers and airmen defending America.”

The “new” arrangement harks back to the past, locally and nationally. What is now McChord Air Field once belonged to the Army, just as the Air Force itself was once a part of the Army. The repackaged Joint Base Lewis-McChord would seem a logical arrangement to those who served there before McChord (and the Air Force) won independence in 1947.

Independence can be overrated, though. The merger of McChord and Fort Lewis is part of a broader effort to restructure military installations in ways that make sense in light of limited budgets, evolving missions and the need for far greater coordination among the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

The independence of those four branches has always bred problems. For example, the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters were once equipped with radios that couldn’t communicate with the radios on the Air Force’s F-15 fighters. That wouldn’t have happened if enough people had been talking to each other.
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WTO ruling a moral victory for Boeing

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The World Trade Organization is reportedly close to announcing what Boeing supporters have long known: Airbus doesn’t play by the rules.

The WTO’s preliminary ruling, according to Washington state lawmakers briefed about it, confirms that launch aid received from four European nations amounted to illegal subsidies.

The trade arbiter reportedly found that European aid had benefited every model Airbus had produced by 2004 – and that the subsidies harmed its U.S. arch-rival, Boeing.

Vindication feels good, but a WTO ruling could be a victory in name only. Theoretically, the United States could raise tariffs or impose other barriers to EU imports years from now when the WTO case is finally settled, but that’s probably unlikely.

Read more »