Chief of Straff Gen. David Goldfein, speaking at an American Enterprise Institute event on Jan. 18, 2017, holds up a floppy disk, which is still used by nuclear operators today, to empasize the importance of modernizing the nuclear force. Screen shot photo.
Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said he expects the incoming Trump Administration to conduct a nuclear posture review to assess what is needed to keep deterrence healthy. Speaking on Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., Goldfein sought to explain the need for all three legs of the triad, noting the Air Force is building its next generation B-21 Raider bomber and beginning work on the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent system to replace the aging ICBM system. To drive that point home, Goldfein held up a decades-old floppy disk that is still in daily use in the Air Force's missile fields. The Air Force is looking forward to a discussion on the future of deterrence, one that isn't just the missiles in the field but also issues in space and cyber, Goldfein said. Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, Trump's nominee to be Defense Secretary, recently expressed support for modernization of the missiles and bombers, but said he'd need to look at updating the Air Force's Long-Range Standoff missile.
Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Sen. John McCain’s plan to procure 300 light support aircraft to provide close air support in a permissive environment is a “great idea.” In fact, the Air Force is in the middle of an experiment, calling on industry to provide proposals to offer commercial, off-the-shelf aircraft that can handle just that, Goldfein said Wednesday at an American Enterprise Institute event in Washington, D.C. As the Air Force’s commitment to the counterterrorism campaign in the Middle East continues to evolve, the service needs to look at how it prosecutes the fight, said Goldfein. To sustain and build readiness over time, USAF must "look at new ways of doing business in the future," he added. Goldfein said he expects several companies to come forward with low-cost proposals to perform the mission of close air support in a permissive environment. Having more aircraft to conduct this mission means other aircraft better suited to a high-level fight, such as the F-22, can focus on building readiness for that mission.
Russian and Turkish aircraft on Wednesday conducted joint operations for the first time, reportedly targeting ISIS fighters in the Syrian town of Al Bab, a move the US says "certainly adds to the complexity" of the fight in Syria. A Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman said nine Russian aircraft and eight Turkish F-4s and F-16s conducted strikes on 36 targets in the village near the Turkish border, where Turkish fighters have received tepid support from the US, according to the BBC. USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, speaking Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., said while the move complicates the fight, it isn't concerning yet. There has so far been a "say/do" gap with Russian action, where Russian officials say they are targeting ISIS but are instead supporting the Syrian regime. Goldfein said this mission isn't as concerning as long as it "aligns with a common enemy." But if there are "actions by any players that deviate from that objective, then it becomes a far more complex challenge." The phone line between the US Combined Air Operations Center and Russian officials has been successful, with a Russian-speaking US colonel speaking daily with Russia to deconflict airspace. So far, Russian flights have not impacted coalition operations, though "there's not an inch on the planet more complex than Syria. As Russia changes its footprint there, it adds to the complexity."
Iraqi forces on Wednesday announced they had claimed the eastern half of the ISIS-held city of Mosul after three months of block-by-block fighting. Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Chief Staff Gen. Talib al-Sheghati said Wednesday the left bank of the city had been liberated after elite forces routed ISIS from the last neighborhoods on the eastern half, Agence France-Presse reported. US and coalition airpower has continued to strike ISIS in the region, with aircraft on Tuesday conducting five strikes hitting ISIS tactical units, tunnels, vehicles, barges, supply routes, and other targets, according to US Central Command. Iraqi forces now prepare to fight ISIS on the western half of the city, where they have been entrenched but cut off from resupply and reinforcements.
Loadmasters from the 315th Airlift Wing load humanitarian cargo onto a
C-17 Globemaster III Jan. 13, 2017, at Minneapolis-St. Paul ARS, Minn. Air Force photo by Sra. Tom
Reservists with the 315th Airlift Wing delivered 35 pallets containing more than 275,000 dehydrated rice soy casserole meals to Ramstein AB, Germany, last week. The more than 50,000 pounds of meals, which were donated by Global Samaritan Resources and are worth about $85,000, will be flown to Iraq and then delivered by truck to Kurdish refugees who have fled ISIS and are located in northern Iraq. The humanitarian aid was flown to Germany via a joint State Department and US Aid program that allows humanitarian supplies to be flown on a space available basis aboard USAF aircraft. “Personnally, I love flying these types of missions,” said TSgt. Brian Farmintino, a loadmaster with the 300th Airlift Squadron. “They really show the flexibility of our wing. We combined a training mission, with evaluations, and an instructional ride with a real-world humanitarian mission and added an aeromedical evacuation trainer on top of that.”
An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, lands at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 18, 2017. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph Abrego.
The first F-35s to be based overseas began arriving at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, on Wednesday. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, equipped with short takeoff/vertical landing F-35Bs, is moving from MCAS Yuma, Ariz., to Japan, and will replace F/A-18s that have been stationed there. The service said the F-35B “incorporates the mission capabilities of the … AV-8B Harrier, F/A-18 Hornet, and EA-6B Prowler within a single airframe,” bringing “all the access and lethality capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter, a modern bomber, and an adverse-weather, all-threat environment air support platform” to Japan. The unit has been practicing with the aircraft at Yuma in “numerous exercises and training events,” the Marine Corps said in a press statement. Eventually, 16 of the new jets will be stationed at Iwakuni. The move is consistent with Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s statements that the US is basing its most sophisticated equipment in the Pacific, either in rotational deployments or permanent assignments. The US has deployed stealthy B-2 bombers and F-22s to the Pacific in response to threatening moves by North Korea in recent years; the stationing of F-35s at Iwakuni may signal a reduction in the need for those deployments. The Navy also announced that the first four F-35C carrier-capable aircraft will arrive for duty at Naval Air Station Lemoore, near Fresno, Calif., on Jan. 25, to populate VFA-125, which will be the Navy’s west coast Fleet Replacement Squadron for the F-35C. The F-35C variant is still in its early flight test program, but the Navy wants to begin familiarizing pilots and deck crews with routine shipboard operations.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter gives his farewell address at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Jan. 18, 2017. DOD photo by Air Force SSgt. Jette Carr.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaking for the final time in office on Wednesday, praised the support of Defense Department personnel and said DOD must remain focused on threats such as Russia and North Korea during the transition process. This commitment "drives the three million Americans serving, in uniform and as civilians, across this country and around the clock, in every time zone on Earth, in every domain—in the air, ashore, afloat, and even in cyberspace," Carter said while addressing Pentagon workers. "All of them—and all of you—are defending not only the United States and its people; you're also defending the values and principles that define us, while you provide the security that will enable our children to live a better life." Carter said the need to counter Russian aggression in Europe and deter North Korean nuclear provocations were among the biggest needs the Pentagon must focus on under the new administration. This comes at a time of extreme budget uncertainty, but DOD needs to assure the military has what it needs to complete its mission, stressed Carter. (Listen to his farewell address.)
Official broke ground for this 19-megawatt solar array at Nellis AFB, Nev., March 24, 2105. This is the second industrial-scale array at the base, and, once complete, the arrays will be the largest photovoltaic system in the Department of Defense. Air Force photo.
The Air Force released an Energy Flight Plan on Tuesday, which outlines a long-term path toward energy assurance. Because the Air Force is largely dependent on the commercial electric grid, and both cyber and physical threats to that system are increasing, the service wants to ensure the mission can continue in the event of an outage. The 32-page plan focuses on three primary goals: “Improve resiliency, optimize demand, and assure supply,” states a Jan. 17 release. “We need to take a holistic approach to energy projects to provide resilient, cost-effective, cleaner energy solutions to ensure we can continue to operate when our energy supplies are interrupted,” said Miranda Ballentine, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment, and energy. Ballentine approved the plan on Jan. 6. (Read the plan; Caution, large-sized file.)
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