Esper Outlines Priorities, Calls for Congressional Support at First Press Conference

Defense Secretary Mark Esper made his Pentagon briefing room debut on Aug. 28 for an overview of the changes he is directing and his focus on renewing the department’s interaction with the public and Capitol Hill. Esper appeared alongside Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford exactly one year since the last on-camera update from a defense secretary. “The United States military has a proud history and a great story to tell,” Esper said. “It is my commitment to the American people, who entrust us with their sons and daughters, to keep them informed of the work that our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Department of Defense civilians do every day to keep our nation safe.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Dunford Focuses on Afghan Stability, Negotiations Amid Withdrawal Talk

The Pentagon is focusing on ways to ensure stability in Afghanistan as the US and Taliban negotiate a peace process and the State Department calls for a way to bring US forces home. “I’m not using the ‘withdraw’ word right now,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford told reporters during an Aug. 28 briefing at the Pentagon. “We’re going to make sure that Afghanistan’s not a sanctuary, and we’re going to have an effort to bring peace and stability.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Compass Call Appears to Take On New Mission

The Air Force’s EC-130H Compass Call electronic-attack plane has taken on a new role at the intersection of cyber and electronic warfare, according to Capitol Hill researchers. “Compass Call is normally used to jam enemy radars and communications,” an Aug. 13 Congressional Research Service report said. “However, in recent years, it has been used to transmit computer code to wireless devices using radio frequencies.” An Air Combat Command spokeswoman declined to comment on that new mission because it is classified. It’s unclear whether the Compass Call is passing friendly code between friendly forces or whether it’s meant to disrupt enemy operations. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Moody PJ Receives Bronze Star with Valor

A pararescueman with the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody AFB, Ga., received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for aiding two injured Afghan soldiers while he was hurt and under fire during a battle in 2018. SSgt. Aaron Metzger was deployed to Afghanistan last year when the Afghan partners were severely injured by a grenade. “Disregarding the risk to himself, he carried the two partners away from enemy fire” to receive medical care, according to an Air Force release. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Turkey Shopping for Russian Fighters; Russia Claims Turkey as an “Ally”

Stung by its expulsion from the US-led F-35 fighter program over buying Russia’s S-400 air defense system, Turkey is now shopping for a substitute jet and may acquire Su-35s or Su-57s, Russia’s most advanced fourth- and fifth-generation fighters. Russia is also describing Turkey—one of the largest members of NATO—not only as a trading and security partner, but an “ally.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inspected an Su-57 this week at the MAKS airshow outside of Moscow, with Russian President Vladimir Putin looking over his shoulder. Reporters nearby said Putin aides mentioned a possible sale, which could be executed in the next few years. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Counter-UAS System to Stay at ICBM Base Another Year

F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., will keep operating a system designed by California-based Dedrone to counter small drones near the intercontinental ballistic missile base. “F.E. Warren was selected to test the Dedrone platform in June of 2018 as part of a [Defense Innovation Unit] testing phase that included six DOD facilities, and has been continuously testing, evaluating and using the capability for over a year,” the company said in an Aug. 28 release. DroneTracker finds, classifies, and tracks small drones that come near secure areas, and can automatically wield undisclosed countermeasures if an aircraft is a confirmed threat. The base is extending its license agreement to use the technology for one year, company spokeswoman Lisa Meserve told Air Force Magazine. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Outstanding Airmen of the Year Spotlight: SrA. Misty A. Richmond

The Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2019 will be formally recognized at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference Sept. 16-18. Air Force Magazine is highlighting one each workday from now until the conference begins. Today we honor SrA. Misty A. Richmond, from US Air Forces in Europe.



Here’s Who’s Affected by New Citizenship Policy for Children of Troops Serving Overseas

A policy clarification from the US Customs and Immigration Service published Aug. 28 does not revoke automatic citizenship for children of US citizens born abroad, including troops and federal workers, Homeland Security Department officials said. But it will make adoptions and paperwork more complicated for some families of US service members, as well as citizens who haven’t been in the US for a while.

Denied Hot Meals and Indoor Toilets, US Airmen Prepare for the Fog of War

It’s a perfect test for Operation Rapid Forge, a US Air Force exercise held in Europe this July that was meant to test the service’s ability to rapidly deploy to partner nation bases—and in some cases, to live in the spartan conditions airmen could face in a battle with a near-peer adversary like Russia or China. Defense News

Pentagon Urging South Korea, Japan to Continue Intel-Sharing, Resolve Trade Spat

Japan and South Korea would be “much better off removing obstacles, rather than making it more difficult” to share critical intelligence about ballistic missiles launched from North Korea and possible cyber and space threats they face from Pyongyang or Beijing, the senior Pentagon official charged with that region’s security said Aug. 28. USNI News

OPINION: Is This Space’s “Billy Mitchell Moment”? Let’s Hope Not

“The US military must cultivate spacepower theorists with Brig. Gen. Mitchell’s vision, but a ‘Mitchell Moment’ should not be part of the Space Force founding ethos,” writes Air Force Maj. Kenny Grosselin, a career space operator. “Instead of elevating a problematic analogy that exemplifies division and contention within the armed forces, the discourse on the proper organization of US military space forces should center around premises of trust, cooperation, and joint interdependence.” Defense One

Astroscale US Targets DOD Sat Servicing Market

Japanese start-up Astroscale thinks its space junk technology can be used by the Pentagon for on-orbit satellite servicing, to build a foundation for its ultimate goal of building a space debris removal business, says Ron Lopez, president and managing director of the company’s new US unit. Breaking Defense

OPINION: Jim Mattis: Duty, Democracy and the Threat of Tribalism

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis writes that the US must renew alliances abroad and overcome tribal divisions at home in an exclusive excerpt. Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Northrop Grumman Breaks Ground on Missile Facility in Roy

Defense company Northrop Grumman broke ground on a new facility at Hill AFB on Aug. 27, which will bring thousands of jobs to northern Utah. The new facility will be working on ground-based missiles that would deter another country from launching a nuclear attack against the United States. KSTU-FOX 13

One More Thing

Veterans Affairs Launches Digital National Cemetery

The Veterans Affairs Department’s National Cemetery Administration developed and launched an online memorial platform—Veterans Legacy Memorial—to honor millions of veterans interred in national cemeteries across America. Deemed a “digital national cemetery,” the new resource leverages technology and prioritizes security to boost community engagement and preserve the memories of those who served. Nextgov