Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The last week in July showed a sizeable slowdown in the increase of coronavirus cases among service members, from a peak of more than 4,000 cases in one week earlier in the month. With a total of 27,536 infections as of the morning of July 31, Defense Department officials have attributed the rapid rise in cases to increased testing and community transmission in states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, which set records for new numbers of cases throughout the month.
The Department of the Air Force launched a task force to address concerns regarding interpersonal violence among service members. Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett appointed Brig. Gen. April D. Vogel, the director for manpower, personnel, recruiting, and services at the National Guard Bureau, to lead the task force, which will support members of the Air Force and Space Force.
Last week, the head of the U.S.'s newest military branch, the Space Force, cautioned publicly for the first time that Moscow had undertaken at least two concerning anti-satellite weapon tests in recent months, in a potential bid to develop on-orbit efficiency that could dangerously hinder the U.S.'s heavy dependency on space-based systems … While no targets were destroyed in either the April or July experiments, the pattern—coupled with the notion of two Russian satellites following an American spy satellite—is enough to stir up some anxieties.
With the U.S. election around the corner and the economic impact of COVID-19 mounting, calls for defense spending cuts are on the rise. The practicality of reductions is questionable given the scale and scope of the threat environment, the reality that key elements of the military are decaying, and that defense jobs represent one bright spot in an otherwise bleak economy. If cuts are coming, it is crucial to execute them in a fashion that prioritizes the most effective, efficient and valuable capabilities within the Department of Defense. This requires a new approach to assessing weapon systems’ value, write Mitchell Institute Dean retired Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula and Executive Director Doug Birkey.
Air Combat Command published a Total Force Integration Record of Decision on July 15, stating the 64th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., will become an Air Force Reserve Command Active Association, officially setting up the 926th Wing to take responsibility for the aircraft and leading the squadron. “The Air Force Reserve provides essential manpower and capabilities, enabling rapid global response, operational surge, and long term operational sustainment,” said Air Force Reserve Commander Lt. Gen. Richard W. Scobee. “This strategic depth is critical to our national defense.”
The Associate of Applied Science in Military Technology and Applied Sciences Management degree will be a more flexible option for airmen who don’t have enough formal skills training to meet the requirements for current degree programs, Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama announced in a release July 20.
Capt. Kristin "Beo" Wolfe, the new face of the U.S. Air Force's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter demonstration team, is "used to" being outnumbered as a female pilot. Wolfe, of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, has served in the Air Force for nearly a decade. But now, as the first woman ever to hold her job, she knows there’s an additional expectation to perform with superiority and excellence.
The measure—sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.)—would change the current statement from “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan,’” to the less specific “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”
On June 7, 2020, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Dominic Varriale, a geospatial intelligence analyst with the 11th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron, became the first member of Air Force Special Operations Command to gain a religious accommodations waiver. He accomplished this by way of the Sikh American Veterans Alliance, who helped guide him through the process from start to finish.
The RAF must choose between optimizing itself for high-intensity warfare against a technological foe—in other words, Russia—or tailoring its forces for low-intensity operations. At current spending levels, the United Kingdom can’t afford to pay for an air force that does both, analyst Justin Bronk wrote for the Royal United Services Institute. “The government will either have to significantly raise defense spending or make some hard decisions.”
The women who were the first to break gender and race barriers as military pilots understand the isolation that comes with being the only female in their squadron. They have spent years encouraging more women to fly, but as new data obtained by McClatchy shows, there are still few in the ranks, and even fewer who are Black.