Perry flights fit Air Force trainingYour July 29 article...


August 02, 1996

Perry flights fit Air Force training

Your July 29 article from Newsday on air refueling of the National Airborne Operations Center omits one central fact: Secretary of Defense William J. Perry's flights on board the United States' military command and control planes were incorporated into the planes' operational and training schedule.

The crew of the airborne command post is performing its primary operational mission when the secretary of defense travels on board. Use of the plane provides the secretary vital operational support and also gives the crew important training.

For example, one way its pilots maintain crew proficiency and overall readiness is by performing the very air refuelings your newspaper incorrectly suggests are wasteful.

Air crews perform air refuelings during training missions because these maneuvers demand perishable individual airmanship and crew coordination. Air crews are not ''mission-ready'' without such training.

These 17 operational missions with the secretary on board the National Airborne Operations Center have been flown within the annual flying-hour program allocated by the Air Force. These intercontinental flights are central to the aircraft's global mission and have not driven up the defense budget.

Also, they have not increased the budget deficit, which is coming down thanks to the administration's and Secretary Perry's careful stewardship.

The plane's unique dual mission of command and control for the National Command Authority, while also providing operational support to the secretary of Defense and valuable training opportunities for the crew, combine to create an efficient use of Air Force resources.

Kenneth H. Bacon


PD The writer is assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs.

Downtown needs pedestrian walks

Your July 22 editorial, "New hope for downtown," wisely points to urban amenities as a key element in a business firm's decision to move downtown. However, I would suggest that the two businesses that are leaving the city, USF&G and BGE, are finding these amenities in Mt. Washington and Annapolis, together with a more inviting pedestrian environment.

To compete in the new millennium when work, through electronics, is more free to locate where it chooses, Baltimore must be a place to "be," not just work. The characters of the pedestrian areas and recreational infrastructure are therefore key elements in the quality of life downtown.

Whereas Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Santa Monica, Portland and many other cities encompass connected amenities in the downtown area, Baltimore cannot even extend its promenade from Canton to Fort McHenry. As completion of a small piece of the promenade at Pratt and Light streets brought people downtown in the early 1970s and began the Baltimore renaissance, a more complete system of parks, walks and bikeways would encourage businesses as well as tourists and ** residents to enjoy the downtown.

Philadelphia, Boston and even Las Vegas have improved their pedestrian environments and are advertising themselves as "walkable cities." Fells Point and Federal Hill have prospered because they are successful on this level -- and are attracting tourists and businesses as well as residents.

Baltimore is blessed with the harbor right in the city. We also have relatively large quantities of park areas downtown and nearby, but we are not making the most of them. They are scattered, isolated fragments lacking in real character or "mission" in the city.

At a recent Urban Land Institute conference held in the Power Plant, one out-of-town expert hailed the new attractions, but felt the infrastructure needed bolstering. Baltimore Development Corp. should create a plan to maximize return from our public space resources -- creating greater identity and enjoyment.

Attractions come and go but the infrastructure and the character of the city remain. The promenade is one of the best investments the city ever made. A plan for the next phase of pedestrian infrastructure and its implementation should be part of the BDC agenda.

Barbara E. Wilks


Patients to lose medical privacy

As of next Jan. 1, Maryland will become the first state to effectively outlaw its citizens' rights to confidentiality in personal medical records.

In 1993, the Maryland legislature established the Health Care Access and Cost Commission which has the authority to collect patient-specific information on every man, woman and child in a permanent electronic, government medical data bank. As of today, HCACC has electronically collected information about all health-care visits from 1992 to the present on about 40 percent of all Maryland citizens.

The patient-specific information is not general data about the community at large; it is specific information about an individual's specific medical treatment and diagnoses. This means that Marylanders will not have the right to see any doctor or any other health-care professional in strict privacy and confidentiality.

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