Q&A: Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, Space Force Senior Enlisted Adviser

Air Force Magazine sat down for an exclusive interview with Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, Senior Enlisted Adviser for the Space Force and command senior enlisted leader of USSPACECOM, to discuss everything from building a unique Space Force culture to new opportunities for enlisted Airmen, and how policies such as fitness standards might differ from the U.S. Air Force.
O'Shaughnessy on "Aerospace Nation"

NORTHCOM: More Training, Improved Comms Needed for Arctic Operations

The Arctic is becoming a frontline for America’s homeland defense, but the U.S. military needs to train more and improve its ability to communicate in the region, the head of U.S. Northern Command said. In every other area of the world, U.S. military units can deploy relatively easy and begin operating. However, the Arctic provides unique challenges, and if the units aren’t prepared, “they’re not going to be successful,” NORTHCOM boss USAF Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said during a May 4 Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual event. “We have to find a way to get the team out there exercising and practicing” in the Arctic, he said.
F-15 Eagle taxis flight line

Oregon Guard F-15C Damaged in Emergency Landing at Andrews

An Oregon Air National Guard F-15C on a May 2 homeland defense mission diverted to Joint Base Andrews, Md., due to an in-flight emergency and skidded off the runway, damaging the aircraft. The aircraft, from the 142nd Wing in Portland, was assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Operation Noble Eagle homeland alert mission. Aircraft conducting that mission are usually armed with air-to-air missiles. The F-15C was forced to divert around 1:30 p.m., an Andrews spokesperson said in a statement. When it touched down, the aircraft’s landing gear malfunctioned and the aircraft “came to rest on its fuselage.”
Purple Heart medals presented to Soldiers of the 34th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade

29 Soldiers, 0 Airmen to Receive Purple Hearts for al-Asad Attacks

Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve approved 29 Purple Hearts for Soldiers who sustained traumatic brain injuries in the January Iranian ballistic missile attack on al-Asad Air Base, Iraq, but recommended against the two packages submitted for Airmen. OIR Commander Lt. Gen. Pat White reviewed 80 award packages, including two for USAF. White recommended against awarding the medal in 51 of those cases. Air Forces Central Command boss Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella Jr. was the final authority for the two USAF cases, according to U.S. Central Command. “It is important to note that a Traumatic Brain Injury diagnosis does not automatically qualify a service member for Purple Heart eligibility or awarding, and the CJTF-OIR process was designed to be a fair and impartial proceeding that evaluated each case in accordance with applicable regulations,” CENTCOM spokesman Commander Zachary Harrell said in a statement.
28th EARS refuels Fighting Falcons over Afghanistan

AFCENT Stops Releasing Airstrike Information as Taliban Talks Continue

For the first time since the early days of the war in Afghanistan, Air Forces Central Command is not providing a regular update on the number of airstrikes in that theater, or from ongoing operations in Iraq and Syria. AFCENT, in a statement, said it is not posting the monthly airpower summaries because of a “multiplicity of diplomatic relational concerns, including how the report could adversely impact ongoing discussions with the Taliban regarding Afghanistan peace talks.” The monthly charts typically include a tally of the number of weapons released, along with the number of mobility and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance sorties.

Hill Reserve Squadron’s ‘Taxi Service’ Minimizes Aircrews’ Exposure to COVID-19

The Air Force Reserve’s 514th Flight Test Squadron has created a “taxi service” aimed at delivering aircraft to and from the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, Utah, without exposing aircrews to the new coronavirus. When an aircraft is maintained or modified at Ogden, a pilot from the tail's owning base usually flies it to Hill Air Force Base and back. After the pilot drops off the aircraft—and then again when it’s time to pick it up—they usually fly commercial. “With many units concerned about exposing their combat aircrew [to COVID-19] due to travel, our ability to pick up and drop off aircraft also enables their missions by decreasing their exposure," 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group Commander Lt. Col. Nathan Litz said in a release.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual Conference Unites 19 Air Forces on Pandemic Response

USAF release

Air Chiefs and leadership representing 19 air forces across five continents came together for a video teleconference hosted by Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. on April 29. “Like the symposium that brought many of us together in person just a few months ago, this gathering is grounded in the shared belief that collaboration is required to meet the global challenges,” he said. “From cooperation to conflict and, now, through COVID-19, we remain stronger together.”

NPC Determined to Be a Successful Proof of Concept

USAF release

Culminating with an in-flight demonstration on April 30, the Negatively Pressurized Conex (NPC) proof of concept prototype successfully proved its capability to potentially transport individuals with infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. Air Force Materiel Command and Air Mobility Command leaders quickly joined forces in early April to invite creative materiel and non-materiel solutions to address a Joint Urgent Operational Need to move large numbers of COVID-19 patients should the need for that capability arise.

Subscription Required

Warren Raises Doubts on Pentagon Bid to Get Cash to Contractors

Bloomberg

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is questioning whether the Defense Department’s policy of increasing payment rates for contractors—intended to keep assembly lines humming during the coronavirus outbreak—has sufficient oversight and is helping the companies that need it most.

Lockheed Martin's Accelerated Payments to Suppliers Now Total $365 Million

Inside Defense

Lockheed Martin said May 1 it advanced another $110 million in payments to suppliers this week, bringing the company's total to $365 million of its $450 million goal. Additionally, the contractor said it added new employees and now has hired more than 2,100 since the coronavirus crisis began.

Air Force F-15s Race Across Atlantic to Complete Tricky 'Tail Swap' with Reduced Crews

Military.com

A pair of F-15E Strike Eagles sprinted across the Atlantic earlier this month, not because they were called to war, but because they were in dire need of a tune-up all the way back in the United States. And maintenance crews at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., were able to get the pilots back in the air with a new set of twin-engine fighters, plus an additional F-15C Eagle, in just three days flat.

Rapid Acquisition & Sustainment

Air Force Magazine

The Air Force and U.S. defense establishment are breaking down barriers and injecting speed, innovation, and creativity into the procurement system. Check out our new page to learn more about these efforts.

Defense Innovation Board’s Josh Marcuse heads to Google

FedScoop

Josh Marcuse, the head of the Defense Innovation Board, is leaving his job as a champion of tech in the military to join Google’s public sector shop. Marcuse has served as executive director of the innovation board since 2016 and in a number of other innovation policy positions. In the director role, he organized the board and its meetings, and facilitated its recommendations to the Department of Defense.

Boeing Ramps-Up Red Hawk Testing

Jane's Defence Weekly

Boeing has ramped-up flight trials of the T-7A Red Hawk jet trainer, noting its "busiest week ever" on May 1. According to the manufacturer, the production representative jets flew 11 engineering and manufacturing development test flights out of its St. Louis production facility in Missouri.

SEAKR Moving Forward with DARPA’s Pit Boss Project

C4ISRNET

SEAKR Engineering will continue developing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Pit Boss as the sole prime contractor, the company announced April 28. Pit Boss is the autonomous mission management system that will be used for DARPA’s Project Blackjack, an initiative to demonstrate the value of a proliferated low earth orbit constellation that takes advantage of off-the-shelf commercial satellite technologies for military uses.

Citing Cyber Threats, Trump Orders Ban on Buying Energy Sector Equipment from Foreign Adversaries

Nextgov

President Trump has tasked the Energy secretary with issuing rules that would ban U.S. entities from procuring foreign equipment that the administration said could make the nation’s electricity systems vulnerable to cyberattacks. “The bulk-power system is a target of those seeking to commit malicious acts against the United States and its people, including malicious cyber activities,” he said declaring a national emergency in an executive order issued May 1.

CyberPatriot XII Nationals Champions Announced

AFA release

The Air Force Association's CyberPatriot program announced this week the winners of the twelfth season of its National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. CyberPatriot XII began in October 2019 with nearly 7,000 registered teams among the Open, All Service, and Middle School divisions of the competition.

One More Thing

NASA Names Companies to Develop Human Landers for Artemis Moon Missions

NASA release

NASA has selected three U.S. companies to design and develop human landing systems for the agency’s Artemis program, one of which will land the first woman and next man on the surface of the Moon by 2024. NASA is on track for sustainable human exploration of the Moon for the first time in history.