Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nation’s top military leaders have been cleared to return to work at the Pentagon after having self-quarantined as a precaution following the positive COVID-19 test of a senior Coast Guard official in early October.
A decade-long U.N. arms embargo on Iran that barred it from purchasing foreign weapons like tanks and fighter jets expired Oct. 18 as planned under its nuclear deal with world powers, despite objections from the United States, which insists the ban remains in place. While Iran says it plans no “buying spree,” it can now in theory purchase weapons to upgrade military armaments dating back to before its 1979 Islamic Revolution and sell its own locally produced gear abroad.
The Defense Department has to undertake a foundational “redesign of how we manage our data” in order to succeed at creating a joint all-domain command and control network for orchestrating future information-centric warfare against peer adversaries, says Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, the Space Force’s deputy chief of space operations for operations, cyber, and nuclear.
In early June, four National Guard spy planes took to the skies over several cities to monitor street protests following the killing of George Floyd, triggering concerns that the military was improperly gathering intelligence on U.S. citizens. Three of the reconnaissance planes kept watch on demonstrations in Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Washington that drew hundreds or thousands of protesters and were marred by violence. But the target of the fourth plane was far more surprising: the affluent Sacramento, Calif., suburb of El Dorado Hills, the scene of much smaller and entirely peaceful protests.
Army aviation officials recently provided an update on the service's field-testing of its next-generation drone aircraft program, a key modernization effort under Future Vertical Lift. The Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System is being developed to replace the current RQ-7B Shadow UAS to provide brigade combat teams with day and night reconnaissance and surveillance of enemy forces on the future battlefield.
AFWERX, the Air Force’s innovation catalyst, announces the Reimagining Energy for the DOD Challenge, seeking solutions to create the future of resilient energy production, transmission, use, and storage. The Defense Department is currently the largest energy consumer globally. By reducing demand and reliance on petroleum and modernizing the energy infrastructure, the Air Force can improve the way it consumes energy, increase sustainability, and remain adaptable to future impacts of climate change and reduction in fossil fuels.
The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan warned Oct. 19 that “distressingly high” levels of violence threaten to derail ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Zalmay Khalilzad’s comments come as renewed fighting for days has plagued Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, a longtime Taliban stronghold.
A Democratic lawmaker is urging the IRS to quickly process amended tax returns filed by the families of deceased military members after Congress enacted legislation last year to provide these families with tax relief.
Plans for Vets Suicide Prevention Training, New Three-Digit Emergency Mental Health Crisis Line Signed into Law
President Donald J. Trump on Oct. 17 signed into law a pair of bills designed to help prevent veterans suicide, including a measure to establish a new three-digit national crisis line similar to 911 for mental health emergencies.
A ridge east of Paradise Valley, Mont., where a bomber crashed in 1962 has officially been named “B-47 Ridge” in honor of the four Air Force pilots who died there. President Donald J. Trump signed the bipartisan B-47 Designation Act into law on Oct. 13.