US Space Force seal

Planners Aim to Build Slim, Agile Space Force

The U.S. Space Force is being built from the existing Air Force with a priority to keep a small and low-priced footprint, relying heavily on existing force structure. The Air Force on Feb. 3 sent a 26-page document to Congress outlining the plan for the structure of the new service —with the main goal to be lean, agile, and “minimize cost and bureaucracy.” The document, which was required under the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, likely will continue to evolve, with a finalized version expected in early May. “Building the Space Force from the ground up is an historic opportunity to take a clean sheet approach to designing a 21st century military service with a streamlined organizational structure,” Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett wrote in the document.
Feb. 5 ICBM Test

Hanging Between Past and Future, Missileers Practice for War

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.—You see the intercontinental ballistic missile before you hear it. Upon ignition in its underground silo, the horizon blooms bright red-orange, and a ball of light rises west over the Pacific Ocean. A dull roar intensifies as the unarmed nuclear missile jets upward to arc over the moon on its way to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. As the weapons reach 50 years since they were first deployed across the U.S., the Air Force is checking that its more than 400 Minuteman IIIs can still perform. At the same time, the service is looking ahead to the future Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent missiles that will replace Minuteman III and outlast some of the people managing it.
Taxiing In

Defense Industrial Base Health Gets a “C” Grade from NDIA

A health of the defense industrial base was given a grade of "C" by the National Defense Industrial Association in a report released Feb. 5. The NDIA says the report will be issued annually to gauge whether the industrial base is able to surge at need, is properly funded, and is not onerously regulated, among many other evaluated factors. The grade was pulled down by cyber theft and a shortage of skilled labor and materials, but was buoyed by strong demand for U.S. defense goods and services.
Travis AFB Westwind Inn

New Coronavirus Evacuees Arrive at Travis

Two charted aircraft arrived at Travis Air Force Base, California, on Feb. 5 carrying about 350 passengers evacuated from the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak. The 747s flew from Wuhan, China, and were received at Travis by personnel from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Passengers from one of the planes will be quarantined for 14 days at a hotel on base, while the other aircraft refueled and continued on to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Also on Feb. 5, the Pentagon announced Camp Ashland, Nebraska, also will provide housing for up to 75 people who may be quarantined upon returning to the United States.

Radar Sweep

Esper Issues Talking Points Before Pentagon Budget Roll-Out

Military Times

All roads lead to the National Defense Strategy from here on out, Defense Secretary Mark Esper wrote Jan. 27 in a memo to top military leadership. The Pentagon plans to put its money where its mouth is as it announces the fiscal 2021 budget, according to the memo, focusing funding on the kinds of programs and weapons that will bring the U.S. up to snuff with competitors like China and Russia.

Military Sexual Assault Reform Pledge Backed by Majority of Presidential Candidates

Federal News Network’s “Federal Drive” podcast

One of the preeminent service member sexual assault awareness organizations has the support of most presidential candidates, and at least slight consideration from the second highest military official, in an effort to change the way the most serious crimes in the military are prosecuted.

New OCP Uniforms: Time is Running Out to Start Wearing New Items

Air Force Times

The Air Force is getting ready for the next steps in the transition to the Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform across the service. Beginning June 1, airmen will only be allowed to wear a coyote brown T-shirt with the OCP and will no longer be allowed to wear the lighter desert sand shirt under their new utility uniforms, Air Education and Training Command said in a release.

Judge OKs Limited Release of Pentagon Papers Case Records

Associated Press

The government must release some documents that will shed light on two grand juries that sat in Boston nearly 50 years ago to investigate the leak of the Pentagon Papers, a federal judge ruled Feb. 4. The records detailing the probe into the publication of records that exposed the deceit of American policymakers during the Vietnam War were sought by Jill Lepore, a Harvard University professor and New Yorker staff writer.