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​The former airmen who opened fire in a rural Texas church over the weekend had threatened to kill his military superiors and escaped from a behavioral health facility in 2012, according to records. Undated driver's License photo provided by Texas Department of Public Safety/Air Force Magazine graphic by Mike Tsukamoto.


Devin Kelley Threatened Base Superiors, Escaped Behavioral Health Institution in 2012

Former airman Devin Kelley escaped Peak Behavioral Health Services in Santa Teresa, N.M., on June 7, 2012, according to a 2012 police report—obtained and posted by KPRC Click2Houston. A staffer at Peak—about 100 miles away from Holloman AFB, N.M., where Kelley was assigned at the time, reported him missing. Kelley “was a danger to himself and others as he had already been caught sneaking firearms onto [Holloman],” the staffer told police, adding then-21-year-old Kelley was “attempting to carry out death threats that [Kelley] had made on his military chain of command.” The police later found Kelley at a bus station, trying to skip town, and took him into custody. Five years and change later, Kelley carried out the Sunday shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The Air Force failed to notify authorities of Kelley’s criminal past, paving the way for him to legally purchase the Ruger AR-556 rifle he used to kill 26 people and wound at least 20 more. Armed Services Committee chairmen from the House and Senate condemned the slight and called for review of procedures. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.


Lasers Coming to Fighter Jets By 2021

The Air Force Research Laboratory awarded Lockheed Martin a $26.3 million contract to design, develop, and produce the actual laser portion of the lab’s Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) program. With SHiELD, AFRL hopes to create small, yet powerful, laser systems on tactical aircraft for self-defense purposes, with focus on ground-to-air and air-to-air capabilities. The laser portion of the program, called Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE), means Lockheed will find a way to convert electricity into laser in a method that is strong, small, and efficient enough to be practical on the air combat stage. Lockheed will work with Northrop Grumman and Boeing on the 2021 capability testing, both of whom were awarded portions of the project in late 2016. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.

DOT&E Nominee Focused on Speed, Experimentation, Software

Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Behler, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the Department of Defense’s director of operational test and evaluation, sailed smoothly through his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. SASC chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said the committee was likely to advance the nominations of Behler and three other DOD nominees at the committee’s next hearing on Thursday. Behler promised to work to speed up acquisition through a focus on experimentation and attention to DOD’s slow software processes. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.

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SMC Releases Draft RFP for Five EELV Launches

The Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center on Monday released a draft request for proposal for five launches in the evolved expendable launch vehicle program. Two of the missions will launch National Reconnaissance Office satellites, two will launch USAF satellites, and a fifth will launch Silent Barker, a classified space situational awareness asset developed jointly by USAF and the NRO. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.

US Deterrence Partners Practice Nuclear Command and Control

US Strategic Command wrapped up the 2017 version of its Global Thunder command and control exercise on Tuesday at Offutt AFB, Neb., and the focus throughout was on the importance of partnerships in the deterrence mission. Senior personnel from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia participated in the exercise, which involves “realistic training for nuclear command, control, and communication operations,” according to a STRATCOM press release. “Deterrence in the 21st century has to be an international approach, and it has to involve our allies and partners,” said STRATCOM boss Gen. John Hyten, in the release. “Increasing participation in exercises like Global Thunder from allies … helps us develop a coalition approach for deterring and responding to our adversaries.” —Wilson Brissett


Wilson Tells Veterans, Airmen to Keep Studying

One of the most important benefits for airmen and veterans is the opportunity for continuing education, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said Tuesday at a Veterans on Wall Street event in New York City. “Anybody in the Air Force who isn’t in continuing education is not taking advantage of the tremendous benefit the Air Force offers,” she told the audience. Currently, the service offers “500 advanced education courses ourselves for free,” Wilson said, and she added that “we’re actually changing those … to be available to anyone—airman or civilian—in the Air Force, on demand.” The new offerings will come through “blended learning by distance, and also self-study and then short courses,” Wilson said. She encouraged airmen and veterans to “study things even if they’re completely outside of your career field.” Such educational experience “changes the way you think about problems,” Wilson said, and “that is how you really get after difficult problems.” —Wilson Brissett

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RADAR SWEEP


—Speaking during a joint press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said “it's time to act with urgency and with great determination” with regards to North Korea. He called on the rest of the world, including China and Russia, “to demand that the North Korean regime end its nuclear weapons and its missile programs and live in peace:” DOD release.

—The Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday advanced the nomination of Mark Esper to be Secretary of the Army by voice vote. Three other nominations were also advanced: Robert Wilkie to be under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Joseph Kernan to be under secretary of defense for intelligence, and Guy Roberts to be assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical, and biological defense programs. Next, the full Senate will vote on the nominations.

—The bomber hydraulic Centralized Repair Facility is expected to save the Air Force more than $13 million this year, by repairing old parts on the service’s aging bomber fleet: AFGSC release.