Saturday, February 4, 2017

Week in review (1/29 to 2/4)

As the saying goes, nothing in this world is certain except death and taxes. I'd offer another: consequences.

The 90-day civilian hiring freeze that the new president imposed Jan. 23, which has no impact on military personnel, is having an impact on civilians who work at federal government activities across the region. It prevents vacancies from being filled, and that means more work for those who toil away.

The Defense Department late in the week announced 16 separate functions exempt from the freeze, allowing hiring to resume across broad categories of the workforce ranging from cybersecurity specialists to depot maintenance and shipyard personnel. The exemptions are for positions deemed critical to national security and public safety.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, who represents Florida's 1st District, supports the freeze and reducing the size of the federal government. But he's concerned about how it could impact civilian employees here. He wrote a letter to the Defense Department asking for clarification. According to one report, at Eglin Air Force Base alone there are more than 360 vacant positions.

Welcome to Washington, congressman. It's pretty common to hear politicians say, yes, I'm in favor of this or that, only to realize there are consequences that might not be good for your own back yard. The devil is always in the details.

Here's your week in review:

In Alabama, Airbus Engineering Center celebrated its 10th year at the Mobile Aeroplex with a tip of the hat to its 220 workers and the major contributions they've made to the community. Site Director Dave Trent said the workers are hardworking, dedicated, tenacious and diverse, representing 25 countries. Barry Eccleston, CEO of Airbus Americas, said the engineering center is probably one of the most successful endeavors he’s been involved in. He said it exceeded his expectation. (Post)

The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., conducted boat operations in the Gulf of Mexico and the Choctawhatchee Bay late this week and will continue during the upcoming week. Each morning, fighter aircraft release munitions about 20 nautical miles south of Destin in the Gulf of Mexico. In the afternoons  about 30 boats traveling in formation will transverse between the Mid-Bay Bridge and the Highway 331 Bridge, to include 10 to 20 miles south of Destin in the Gulf of Mexico. The boat formation will be used as visual targets by military aircraft flying over the area. No weapons or ammunition will be involved with this boat formation. (Post)

-- At Fort Rucker, Ala., the Air Traffic Services Command last month welcomed the newest addition to its fleet, a new C-12S aircraft. At the same time it bid goodbye to its predecessor, a JC-12D. Col. Michael E. Demirjian, ATSCOM commander, said the new C-12S is the only one in the Army’s inventory. C-12S is a twin-engine turboprop based on the Beechcraft Super King Air and Beechcraft 1900. (Post)

High school students in Mississippi and Louisiana have been invited to participate in a pilot “swarmathon” competition to develop robotic swarms for use in space missions. The competition to develop algorithms for robotic swarms has openings for 20 area teams to compete. Teams have until Feb. 15 to enter the challenge, and their final algorithm code must be submitted by April 15. Teams must have a faculty mentor and
coach. (Post)

Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Conn., was awarded an $18.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract exercising an option for supplies and services to implement engineering changes to the Rolls Royce lift fan systems, 3Bearing Swivel Module Conditioning Flow System, and production thrust recovery in support of the F-35 for the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and international partners. Work will be performed in Indiana and Oklahoma and is expected to be complete in December 2018.

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