Daily Report

Sept. 15, 2021
blinken afghanistan

Blinken Faces Congressional Panels over Afghanistan Withdrawal

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Sept. 13 and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Sept. 14, testifying for nearly a combined nine hours about the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan that ended with scenes of chaos in Kabul and the deaths of 13 service members in a suicide bombing. Over the course of two bruising sessions, Blinken was pressed hard on both the final weeks of the military withdrawal as well as future plans to rescue Americans and Afghans still in the country hoping to flee Taliban rule.
Arlington national cemetery

With Arlington Groundbreaking, Air Force Memorial Will Soon be Inside Cemetery

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke ground Sept. 14 on an expansion of Arlington National Cemetery intended to add 80,000 gravesites and to make the Air Force Memorial the face of a new southern entrance to the cemetery. The expansion, which will include the site where the Navy Annex once stood and the slope between the Air Force Memorial and the Pentagon, will add 50 acres to the cemetery, realign roads, relocate the service complex, and incorporate access to the Air Force Memorial. Planners believe the expansion will draw thousands more visitors to the site. Officials hope the additional space will ensure the cemetery can remain active for another 150 years.

Outstanding Airmen of the Year: Tech. Sgt. Kelli Floyd

The Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2021 will be formally recognized at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference from Sept. 20 to 22 in National Harbor, Md. Air Force Magazine is highlighting one each workday from now until the conference begins. Today, we honor Tech. Sgt. Kelli Floyd, an infrastructure section noncommissioned officer in charge at the 20th Contracting Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. “Kelli is a remarkable leader, who truly understands our mission and more importantly, does a phenomenal job developing future Airmen and shaping our Air Force of tomorrow,” said Maj. Titus Butler, 20th CONS commander, in a USAF release. “Her selection as one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen comes as no surprise and we are proud to work alongside her.”

Radar Sweep

Air Force Veterans Seek Class-Action Suit Over Trauma Consideration in Discharges

Military.com

Two former Air Force Airmen have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit to compel the service to review thousands of less-than-honorable discharges awarded since 9/11 to members with traumatic brain injuries or mental health issues. The suit, known as Johnson v. Kendall, follows two other lawsuits settled against the Army and Navy this year that alleged those services wrongly discharged troops for misconduct linked to a military trauma such as a combat- or training-related head injury or sexual assault.

Can the Air Force Ditch the Pass-through Budget?

National Defense Magazine

The Air Force is still trying to free itself of the so-called “pass-through” budget that critics say distorts perceptions of how much money the service is receiving each year. Now, it appears the Secretary of Defense might be sympathetic to their arguments. For fiscal year 2021, the Department of the Air Force received $205.5 billion in total funding. Of that, $37.3 billion—or 18 percent—is pass-through, or “non-blue,” funding that actually goes to other agencies; hence the term “pass-through.”

The Air Force Tried to Kill the A-10 by Clipping its Wings and Starving It of Parts

Task and Purpose

You can’t have a superhero without a nemesis, and the beloved A-10 Thunderbolt II attack plane, which has saved the bacon of countless ground troops over its 45-year career, is no exception. The thing is, the A-10’s nemesis is the Air Force itself, and a new report reveals how hard the service has been working behind the scenes to starve the aircraft of replacement parts over the past 14 years.

​​Air Force Eyes Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Cognitive Electronic Warfare

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Air Force researchers plan to kick off a project to develop new kinds of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to enable attack aircraft to engage and defeat next-generation enemy integrated air-defense systems (IADS). Officials of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, released a presolicitation for Project Kaiju to apply AI and machine learning to future cognitive electronic warfare (EW) systems to help aircraft penetrate air defenses that rely on multispectral sensors, missiles, or other air-defense assets.

Afghanistan Has Been ‘Gut-Wrenching,’ ‘Deeply Personal For IC’: DNI

Breaking Defense

“There’s no question that as you pull out … our intelligence collection is diminished,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said during opening remarks at the 2021 Intelligence & National Security Summit organized by the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA) and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA). “In Afghanistan, we will want to monitor any reconstitution of terrorist groups.”

Former US Air Force Acquisition Czar Could Help the UK Build Its Future Fighter

Defense News

As an honorary member of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force’s No. 601 Squadron—a nonflying unit reestablished in 2019 and composed of thought leaders from commercial industry—Will Roper will provide input on how the RAF can best incorporate technologies such as digital engineering and agile software development that he believes could flip the paradigm of aircraft manufacturing.

ICBM Modernization and Sustainment: A Comprehensive Approach to Building GBSD

Air Force Magazine

With the Air Force aiming to develop, deploy, and maintain the new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent at a rapid pace starting in 2029 and lasting for decades, the need for a broad strategy encompassing cybersecurity, digital engineering, and other new technologies has never been greater, and that will require integrated support like never before.

Raymond: Small Satellites and Fast Data Transforming Space Business

Space News

Tiny but powerful spacecraft enabled by microelectronics and advanced propulsion is a transformative trend in the space industry that will benefit national security, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations of the U.S. Space Force, said Sept. 13. Technology has made it possible for the industry to make smaller and cheaper payloads that can be deployed in large numbers to serve as eyes in the sky and move data around the globe in seconds. The combination of small satellites and computing power is one of the most exciting developments seen in space technology, Raymond said at a New America virtual conference.

SPONSORED: Why is GE’s F110-129 the Best Engine for USAF’s F-15EX?

GE Aviation

Retired Air Force Gen. Paul V. Hester was already familiar with the power and performance of the GE F110-129 engine from his time commanding an F-16 Viper Wing in Misawa, Japan. But when he arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to take command of the 53rd Test and Evaluation Wing, it didn’t take long before the longtime F-15 Eagle pilot's impression was greatly enhanced.

F-117s Make Surprise Appearance at Fresno Airport to Train Against Local F-15s

The Drive

Fresno-Yosemite International Airport had a very strange pair of visitors Sept. 13. Two F-117s landed at the airport in north-central California and taxied over to the 144th Fighter Wing's base, which is located just to the south of the passenger terminal. You can just imagine people's surprise when they saw the long-retired (officially) flat-black faceted Nighthawks touch down and taxi to the base with their white drag-chutes billowing behind them. It's worth noting that at least one of the jets was not fitted with radar reflectors.

Temporary Hike in BAH Imminent for Some Troops, Families Caught in Housing Crunch

Air Force Times

Military members and families affected by surging housing costs in 56 areas around the country may soon get relief through a temporary hike in their Basic Allowance for Housing. DOD officials had not officially confirmed the initiative to Military Times by publication time, but the start is imminent, according to a Pentagon source with knowledge of the discussions. The temporary BAH hike has been approved by DOD personnel officials and is scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, the source said.

One More Thing

Proposed Modernization Coming to Falcon Stadium

Air Force Academy

After nearly six decades of football games, graduations, concerts, and various events, proposed renovations are coming to Falcon Stadium, with a goal of transforming the facility into a state-of-the-art, world-class venue. The Air Force Academy Foundation and the Air Force Academy Athletic Corp. have announced a proposed multiphase Falcon Stadium renovation project as part of the Defining Our Future campaign in support of the Air Force Academy.