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  • A Leap in Military Power for Iran; Slashing Reenlistment Bonuses; SECAF in Afghanistan

    This photo shows detail of a component in an Iranian Qiam ballistic missile, on display at the Iranian Materiel Display at JB Anacostia-Bolling, Washington, D.C., on Nov. 29, 2019. Defense Department photo by Lisa Ferdinando.​

    ​DIA: Iran Gaining More Military Power

    Iran has been successful deterring the US and its regional adversaries and extending its influence in the Middle East with a three-pronged approach to defense, centered on ballistic missiles, a multilayered maritime defense and sponsorship of regional proxies, according to a new report from the Defense Intelligence Agency. The DIA also said Iran’s military power could leap in just a year’s time, when a UN embargo on selling most kinds of weapons to Iran expires. Absent a re-imposition of the embargo, Iran could dramatically up its air and ground game. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.


    Mismarked Nuclear Missile Motors Draw Scrutiny in Air Force Audit

    Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist told lawmakers Nov. 20 the Air Force needs to improve its system for tracking intercontinental ballistic missile motors, after the service’s fiscal 2019 audit noted 79 motors were listed as being in the wrong place. The Defense Department revealed the issue in its recently released Air Force audit for fiscal 2019. Bloomberg first reported the problem Nov. 19. “They aren’t actual ICBMs and missiles, they are the motors that are used in them,” Norquist said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the DOD’s failing audit grade. “When they’re pulled out and put into maintenance in the supply system, there was an issue in the accuracy of the supply system because it’s manual, tracking whether they were still on the base and whether they were at the depot.” Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.


    USAF Cuts Career Fields Eligible for Reenlistment Bonuses in 2020

    The Air Force’s annual retention bonus program is shrinking to about 70 career fields in fiscal 2020, while aiming to keep more types of aircraft maintainers and cybersecurity specialists in the service, according to a Nov. 20 release. The Selective Retention Bonus effort offers a piece of more than $150 million to airmen who reenlist in 72 specialties that are struggling with a high pace of operations, low manning, and retention concerns, down from 115 specialties last year. Cyber surety experts and maintainers that handle the RQ-4 Global Hawk, the C-17 Integrated Instrument and Flight Control System, and communications, navigation, and mission systems on the E-4 and VC-25 were added to the 2020 list of people who can see a financial boost if they stay in the service. Airmen can earn bonuses of up to $100,000. This year’s program goes into effect Nov. 21. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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    Two Service Members Killed in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash

    Two US service members were killed in a helicopter crash Nov. 20 in Afghanistan. Resolute Support issued a statement on the crash, but did not identify either the personnel or the specific services they belonged to, pending next of kin notification. While the cause of the crash is under investigation, “preliminary reports do not indicate it was caused by enemy fire,” Resolute Support said. The statement did not specify the type of aircraft, or where the crash occurred. Newsweek, citing an unnamed defense official, reported the helicopter was an AH-64 Apache that clipped a cliff during an operation in Logar Province.  —Brian Everstine

    Watchdog: US-Provided Aircraft, Training Underused in Afghan Air Force

    The Afghan Air Force is under-utilizing aircraft and training the US is providing, which in turn is stressing older airframes and leading to ineffective air support, a Pentagon watchdog states. The Defense Department Office of the Inspector General’s quarterly report on Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan outlined several issues facing the ongoing US-led training mission in the country. While the Afghan Air Force’s fleet has continued to increase to a total of 183 authorized aircraft as of the end of September, that fleet is not being flown effectively as planned by Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air leaders, the IG states. Additionally, US-trained tactical air coordinators are rarely used in Afghan army operations. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

    Barrett Makes First Trip to Afghanistan as SECAF

    Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein visited 455th Air Expeditionary Wing airmen at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, this week as part of their first joint journey to Air Forces Central Command, according to a Nov. 19 USAF release. Prior to becoming service secretary, Barrett was a member of the US-Afghan Women's Council, according to her Air Force biography. But while she has an established track record of visiting Afghanistan as part of her collaboration with its female citizens and businesswomen, this visit was her first time in the country as SECAF, the release noted. “I’m here because it is such an important location, and it is a place where America is making a difference,” Barrett said in the release. “Aviation is how we project power in this area, and the Airmen here at Bagram are a huge part of the reason why those efforts are successful.” Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

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    Bill Would Greenlight National Medal of Honor Monument

    Two Texas congressmen from opposite sides of the aisle have joined forces to introduce a bipartisan bill to construct a National Medal of Honor Monument in or around the nation’s capital. Reps. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) and Ron Wright (R-Texas) co-introduced the National Medal of Honor Monument Act—also known as H.R. 5173—on Nov. 19 to authorize the nonprofit National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation to establish the structure. The measure would also cement Arlington, Texas, as the future home of the future National Medal of Honor Museum, according to a Nov. 19 release from Veasey’s office. According to Congress.gov, the bill has been referred to both the HASC and the House Committee on Natural Resources for consideration. “The monument will be an inspiration that everyone around the country can stand behind,” National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation President and CEO Joe Daniels said in a Nov. 19 release. “It will help to further shed light on the stories of our nation’s bravest military heroes.” Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

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    RADAR SWEEP


    US House Approves Bill to Avert Government Shutdown This Week
    The US House of Representatives on Nov. 19 approved legislation to avert a widespread government shutdown later this week with a bill extending temporary federal funding through Dec. 20. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 231-192, with all but a dozen Republicans voting against the funding. Reuters

    OPINION: Why the US Needs to Invest More in Bombers
    “The B-21 promises to be a very advanced and capable aircraft and the Air Force should procure them in ample numbers as rapidly as possible,” writes retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “However, until the day comes that the B-21 is fully mission capable in sufficient numbers to meet the needs of the national defense strategy, the legacy bomber force will have to answer the call to fly and fight. Investing in sustaining the viability of these proven aircraft is not an option, it is an imperative.” Forbes

    Rising Costs, Dwindling Recruit Numbers, Increasing Demands May Bring Back the Military Draft
    Over the past five years, retired Army Maj. Gen. Dennis Laich and Col. Larry Wilkerson along with members of the All-Volunteer Force Forum have traversed the country in an effort to address what they see as a looming crisis in the military—dwindling numbers of qualified and interested recruits for a military straining at the seams. And they’ve got the solution: Bring back the draft. Military Times

    Trump Blows off Congressional Inquiry on Lebanon Aid Freeze
    The White House blew through a Nov. 15 deadline to justify its decision to freeze $105 million in US military aid for Lebanon to Congress, two congressional aides told Al-Monitor. The administration of President Donald Trump has not explained the controversial move to Congress in repeated meetings. Al-Monitor

    Rostec Exec: American Sanctions Create Unfair Advantage for Weapons Sales
    Defense News spoke with Victor Kladov, Rostec’s director for international cooperation and regional policy, on Nov. 18 about aircraft sales, the impact of US sanctions, and the ongoing S-400 air defense deal with Turkey. Defense News

    Point Blank 19-8 Integrates ISR, Special Operations
    The 48th Fighter Wing, in partnership with the Royal Air Force, hosted Point Blank 19-8 on Nov. 14, 2019. The purpose of Point Blank is to exercise large force capabilities that incorporate current and future wartime scenarios. USAF release

    The Agency That Recovers and IDs Remains of Missing Troops Needs More Money, Partner Organizations Say
    Leaders of organizations that work closely with the Pentagon agency charged with recovering and identifying the remains of service members missing from overseas battlefields blasted its funding as insufficient to recover nearly 82,000 missing troops worldwide. The Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Agency, or DPAA, should receive additional funding to increase its capacity to locate, recover and ultimately identify Americans missing from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, top officials with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nonprofit History Flight and the National League of POW/MIA Families told lawmakers Nov. 19. Stars and Stripes (subscription required)

    Nanotechnology Is Shaping the Hypersonics Race
    A protective coating of carbon nanotubes may help the Pentagon field warplanes and missiles that can survive the intense heat generated at five times the speed of sound. Researchers from Florida State University’s High-Performance Materials Institute, with funding from the US Air Force, discovered that soaking sheets of carbon nanotubes in phenol-based resin increases their ability to disperse heat by about one-sixth, allowing a thinner sheet to do the job. Defense One

    Too Many CISOs Delay Cyber Response, DHS Official Says
    Agencies must be able to act swiftly to keep their tech ecosystems secure against a constantly evolving array of digital threats, but excessive bureaucracy within the federal cyber community is impeding that quick action, according to Mark Bristow, director of the hunt and incident response team within the Homeland Security Department’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. Though it’s critical to have different groups weigh in on cybersecurity policies, he said, today there are too many cooks in the kitchen to execute a coherent, unified strategy. Nextgov

    “A Really Momentous Day”: STRATCOM Welcomes New Leader, Dedicates New HQ
    About 800 military and civilian workers and VIP guests attended the Nov. 18 dedication of the new US Strategic Command headquarters in honor of the iconic Air Force leader who moved the infant Strategic Air Command from Maryland to Nebraska in 1948, and presided over its growth into the world’s most important and most feared military command. Omaha World-Herald (subscription required)

    One More Thing …

    Azellia White, Trailblazer for African American Women in Aviation, Dies at 106
    Azellia White, who said she found freedom in the skies, becoming one of the first African American women to earn a pilot’s license in the United States, died Sept. 14 at a nursing home in Sugar Land, Tex. She was 106. Mrs. White, the daughter of a sharecropper and a midwife, was drawn to aviation by her husband, Hulon “Pappy” White, a mechanic who served during World War II in Tuskegee, Ala., as a mechanic for the storied unit of black military pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The Washington Post (subscription required)

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