What the “Skinny” Defense Policy Bill Offers USAF

A slimmed-down version of the fiscal 2020 defense policy bill recently introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), while lacking major parts of the original legislation, would allow the Pentagon to keep F-35 purchases on track and also allow certain Air Force construction projects to proceed. The bill does not mention a Space Force, nuclear modernization, the F-15EX, or many other Air Force priorities in the current fiscal year. But lawmakers say they are still working to reach a compromise on the full 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, and it’s unclear whether the “skinny” NDAA draft has a path forward. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

USAF Makes “Indefinite Enlistment” Official for NCOs

Airmen who have served for 12 years or more no longer have to re-enlist under a change made official Oct. 30. Previously, senior enlisted airmen were required to re-enlist every four years, a process described as lengthy and full of cumbersome paperwork that culminated in raising their right hand at a swearing-in ceremony. Now, under a new Noncommissioned Officer Career Status Program, that requirement is gone. Instead, an Oct. 30 Air Force release said, their separation dates will align with their high year of tenure date—when they must separate or retire. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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National Security Space Launch Study Probes Industry for New Ideas

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is reaching out to industry to answer some of the biggest questions of the new military space era for its study on how the service buys its space launch assets and puts systems on orbit. “Where do you see future space revenue markets” the Air Force asked in an Oct. 25 request for information. “Since space has been added as an operational warfighting domain, does assured access to space need to be re-evaluated from a national security standpoint” The answers will inform how the Air Force approaches the third phase of its National Security Space Launch program to launch small, medium, intermediate, and heavy payloads. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

DOD Chooses Two USAF Installations for 5G Experiments

JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., and Hill AFB, Utah, were selected as two of four installations that will test and experiment with 5G wireless network technology as part of a recently announced Defense Department initiative. DOD also chose Naval Base San Diego, Calif., and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. “The bases were selected for their ability to provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, access to key facilities, support for new or improved infrastructure requirements, and the ability to conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing,” the Pentagon said in an Oct. 31 release. The Pentagon aims to learn how it could provide augmented and virtual reality tools for mission planning and training, and manage warehouses and military logistics, via 5G. It also wants to learn more about sharing parts of the wireless spectrum with other users. A draft request for proposals is expected in November. —Rachel S. Cohen

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USAFA to Name Airfield After Tuskegee Airman Commander

The US Air Force Academy in Colorado on Nov. 1 will rename its airfield in honor of the late Gen. Benjamin Davis Jr., the former head of the Tuskegee Airmen and the Air Force’s first African-American general. Renaming the airfield will help honor the legacy of the first black military aviators in the Army Air Corps, according to an Oct. 30 USAFA release. “For our family, this is the greatest honor that we could ask for,” Douglas Melville, his great-nephew, said in an Oct. 25 release. “The airfield at the Academy is one of the busiest airfields in the entire world, and it’s an honor that his name will live on that airfield until infinity.” Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.



How the Iran Hawks Botched Trump’s Syria Withdrawal

In conversations with more than a dozen former and current US and Kurdish officials as well as experts, insiders described how a group of Iran hawks in the upper echelon of the administration—including then-National Security Advisor John Bolton and James Jeffrey, the special representative for Syria engagement—repeatedly sought to reverse Trump’s Syria withdrawal over nearly two years, culminating in a disastrous Turkish invasion that has destabilized the region. In doing so, they signaled to the Kurds that the United States would protect them against the possibility of a Turkish attack—something it turned out they had little power to prevent. Foreign Policy (subscription required)

The Taliban Got Way Deadlier in 2019, Says Pentagon’s Afghanistan IG

The group mounted 3,500 deadly or wounding attacks this summer, even as US airstrikes rose. Defense One

FORGE, OPIR’s Ground System, Deal Due March 2020

The Air Force in December will choose one of three competitors to build a revolutionary satellite ground system prototype for its next-generation missile warning satellites. The Future Operationally Resilient Ground Evolution (FORGE) system is seen as a first step towards the Air Force’s ambitious goal of a “common” command and control (C2) network for all its satellites. Breaking Defense

Who Will Help Track Hypersonic Threats from Space

The Missile Defense Agency has selected four companies to develop prototype sensors capable of detecting and tracking hypersonic weapons from space, the agency announced Oct. 29. The four companies selected are Northrop Grumman, Leidos, Harris Corporation, and Raytheon. C4ISRNET

Exclusive: Veterans Want Answers as New Data Shows Rise in Cancers over Two Decades of War

Veterans saw a spike in urinary, prostate, liver and blood cancers during nearly two decades of war, and some military families now question whether their exposure to toxic environments is to blame, according to a McClatchy investigation. McClatchy found that the rate of cancer treatments for veterans at Veterans Affairs Department health care centers increased 61 percent for urinary cancers—which include bladder, kidney and ureter cancers—from fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2018. McClatchy

Seoul Says North Korea Fires Projectiles Amid Stalled Talks

South Korea’s military said North Korea on Oct. 31 fired two projectiles toward its eastern sea, an apparent resumption of weapons tests aimed at ramping up pressure on Washington, D.C., over a stalemate in nuclear negotiations. The Canadian Press via Military.com

Report: 2020 Is the Year Data Gets Weaponized

Research firm Forrester experts criminals and bad actors to weaponized artificial intelligence and machine learning, and the results won’t be pretty. Nextgov

University Students Help JSTARS Innovate Scheduling

Operators of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System are teaming up with Mercer University’s computer science department in Macon, Ga., to advance an antiquated software system. The goal is to make the multiple databases the unit uses for scheduling missions and flying operations seamless and to aggregate 15 years of scheduling data to analyze for improvements, according to Lt. Col. Vanessa Cox, 116th Operations Support Squadron chief of scheduling, Georgia Air National Guard. USAF release

Trump Says Military Working Dog Conan, Four-Legged Hero of Baghdadi Raid, to Visit White House Next Week

Conan, the Belgian Malinois military working dog who was injured in the raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, will visit the White House next week. According to President Donald Trump, Conan is departing the Middle East and will make his way to Washington, D.C., next week, although no specific date has been set. Military Times

One More Thing

Whoops! First F-35A Based in the Netherlands Got a Foam Bath by Mistake

Crash trucks at the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s Leeuwarden Air Base were supposed to provide a water cannon salute to mark the arrival of the country’s first operational F-35A Joint Strike Fighter to be based in the country, but covered it in firefighting foam by accident instead. The base firefighters had reportedly responded to an actual emergency involving an F-16 Viper fighter jet earlier and forgot to switch back to shooting regular water for the ceremony. The Drive