Daily Report

Oct. 10, 2019

Turkey Begins Assault on Syrian Kurdish Forces, US Lawmakers Promise Backlash

Turkish warplanes on Oct. 9 began bombarding Kurdish targets inside Syria, a long-awaited move that prompted Congressional leaders to promise harsh sanctions on Ankara. The opening salvo of an operation Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called “Operation Peace Spring” included F-16s bombing Kurdish encampments in border villages. The F-16s were launched from bases including Incirlik AB, which is also a USAF base, and Diyarbakir, which had hosted USAF rescue personnel in recent years. Many lawmakers of both parties quickly condemned the Turkish actions. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the Kurdish allies had been “shamelessly abandoned” by the administration, and that he will “lead (the) effort in Congress to make Erdogan pay a heavy price.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

45th Space Wing Aims to Execute Launches on Demand

Anticipating new space assets and the need to rapidly deploy space payloads, the Air Force is pressing to increase the frequency and speed with which it can launch satellites into orbit and then reset to prepare for more launches. The aim is to launch on demand and support at least 48 launches per year in the Eastern Range, which comprises the entire Atlantic Seaboard, says Brig. Gen. Douglas A. Schiess, commander of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick and director of the range. As the officer responsible for all rocket launches from the Eastern Seaboard, Shiess is pressing to expand launch capacity and efficiency. After executing just seven launches in 2007, the low point for the Eastern Range, Patrick supported 24 launches in 2018 and could approach 30 this year. Read the full story by Tobias Naegele.

Spangdahlem Grounds Aircraft After F-16 Crash

Flight operations at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, were grounded on Oct. 9, one day after an F-16 from the base’s the 52nd Fighter Wing crashed near the installation. The pilot was able to eject safely before the crash, and was released later the same day. Spangdahlem officials are working with local German authorities to ensure the site of the mishap, near the town of Zemmer, is secured, base spokeswoman Capt. Erin Recanzone said in an email. The F-16 was on a routine training sortie when it crashed at about 3 p.m. local time. —Brian Everstine

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Civil Air Patrol Search and Rescue Saves 117 Lives in Fiscal 2019

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center credited Civil Air Patrol search and rescue efforts with saving 117 lives in fiscal 2019, according to a CAP release. While the tally fell short of the previous fiscal year’s total of 158 saves, it marked CAP’s third-consecutive fiscal year of triple-digit rescues, the release stated. Technology has revolutionized search and rescue by reducing the amount of time, resources, manpower, and aircraft use these kinds of missions require, according to CAP, the Air Force’s official auxiliary. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

California Blackouts Not Affecting Beale, Travis, Moffett

Intentional rolling blackouts in Northern California, potentially putting up to 800,000 customers of Pacific Gas & Electric in the dark, are not impacting the three largest Air Force operating locations in the region: Beale AFB in Marysville, Travis AFB in Fairfield, and Moffett ANGB in Mountain View. The company is shutting down power because of the extreme risk of wildfire due to unprecedented heat, drought and anticipated high winds, especially in mountainous areas. PG&E’s equipment was faulted for starting fires in 2018 and 2017 that killed more than 100 people and burned more than 14,000 homes and 36,000 acres. The area affected by the rolling blackouts includes 30 counties up to three hours north and east of San Francisco. A Travis spokesman said the base is not on the company’s grid and won’t be affected by the blackouts. A Beale spokeswoman said the base has not been informed whether it could face blackouts, but the base has generators available to continue “critical operations.” A Moffett spokesman said that facility has not been told to expect a blackout, but the Air National Guard unit at the facility is preparing to help local emergency management organizations transport generators to areas affected by the action. PG&E is turning off the electricity as a precautionary measure, and said customers should expect up to seven days of intentional power outages. —John A. Tirpak

NY Guard Resupplies Northernmost Military Base in Canada

New York Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing recently wrapped up a mission flying cargo to Canada’s northernmost base, a small alert site on the northern tip of Nunavut. The C-130s and guardsmen flew seven missions from Sept. 26 to Oct. 4 to Canadian Forces Station Alert, transferring more than 100,000 pounds of cargo, according to a Guard release. The Canadian base, 490 miles south of the North Pole, has 55 people living there year round, making it the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world. The C-130 missions were flown from Thule AB, Greenland, and crews experienced freezing fog, low visibility, and high winds, according to the release. The mission, called Operation Boxtop, takes place twice a year; this iteration also included a Royal Canadian Air Force C-17. —Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP

UN Says US Strikes Cause Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan

A United Nations report released on Oct. 9 criticized American airstrikes earlier this year against alleged drug facilities in Afghanistan, saying they were unlawful and caused significant civilian casualties. The report, released simultaneously in Kabul and Geneva, said the UN verified 39 civilian casualties, including 14 children and a woman, from multiple airstrikes in May on more than 60 sites. Associated Press

On Ukraine Aid, “Nothing to See Here”: Diplomats Urged to Play Down Funds’ Release

American diplomats who had pushed for the Trump administration to restore security funding to Ukraine were advised by the White House to play down the release of the money when it was finally approved, documents show. The New York Times(subscription required)

At Tyndall, Human Resilience Trumped Nature’s Wrath

With the firm support from the president and Air Force leadership on down, 325th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Brian Laidlaw and a team of civil engineers in the first weeks after the storm began the initial steps toward reclaiming the base. Their nonstop effort over the past 11 months has begun to show concrete results. Panama City News Herald

OPINION: How Airmen Can Work Together for Persistent ISR

“Now is the time, while the United States maintains a position of strength, to ensure we are not outmatched, out-thought, or out-witted,” Air Combat Command Director of Intelligence Brig. Gen. Gregory Gagnon and National Defense Fellow Lt. Col. Nishawn Smagh write. “Rapidly and realistically positioning the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance enterprise for first-mover advantage in today’s data-driven environment is beginning with purposeful urgency.” C4ISRNET

AFRL Cyber Center to Train How to Hack Sensors (Think IoT)

The Air Force Research Laboratory has inked a deal with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology to develop a new training environment for testing cyber and electronic warfare attacks, which the Air Force sees as eventually becoming “an operational range for DoD cyber-kinetic and multi-domain operations.” The new cyber training environment is sharply focused on understanding how sensors embedded into devices that are connected via the Internet of Things might be manipulated, both to protect US systems and to attack those of adversaries. Breaking Defense

The Pentagon Is Standing Up a Nonprofit to Assess Vendor Cybersecurity

The group would be responsible for running the vendor accreditation process under the Pentagon’s new Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, or CMMC. The framework, which was released in draft form last month, will serve as a yardstick for determining if contractors are taking sufficient steps to protect the sensitive military data that resides on their networks. Nextgov

“Golf Ball” Radar Leaves Pearl Harbor After $24M Upgrade

The towering Sea-Based X-Band Radar is back at sea after nearly four months in Pearl Harbor, during which $24 million in repairs and upgrades were made, the Missile Defense Agency said. "SBX is underway for regular operations, " agency spokeswoman Heather Cavaliere said in an email. "We cannot comment on duration." The Honolulu Star-Advertiser via Military.com

One More Thing

Area 51 Has Its Own Unique Fleet Of HH-60U Ghost Hawk Helicopters

Originally intended as replacements for the Air Force’s aging HH-60G Pave Hawks, they now exclusively support operations at the top-secret base. The Drive