Space Operations Command Ceremony

Space Force Launches New Operations Branch

The Space Force on Oct. 21 formally stood up its Space Operations Command, the largest organization to run satellites, radars, and other combat assets for regional military commanders around the world. Lt. Gen. Stephen N. Whiting will run SpOC at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. He has held similar positions in the Space Force and its predecessor, Air Force Space Command, for the last three years. During a ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colo., Whiting laid out his three top priorities: preparing combat-ready, cybersecure space forces driven by intelligence data and building a diverse and healthy workforce culture; partnering with other parts of the Space Force, U.S. Space Command, the U.S. government, and private companies; and providing tech-savvy military power in, from, and to space.
CSAF on Aerospace Nation

Contentious Corona Debates Push Budget Decisions

Although the Air Force expected to finalize a lot of its budget and force-design decisions at the top-level Corona meeting earlier this month, debate and competition for resources will push decisions to a later time, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr said Oct. 21. Brown said major commands and combatant commanders are trying to preserve here-and-now capabilities, instead of taking a longer-term view needed for future success. In addition, Brown said the Air Force's “culture of consensus” is cutting senior leaders out of program debate just when an overarching view is needed to move the force forward.
U.S. Capitol

Top Lawmakers Look to Start Talks on 2021 Defense Policy Bill

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are tentatively scheduling a “Big Four” meeting for Oct. 26 to begin hashing out an agreement on the 2021 defense policy bill, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told reporters. The Big Four refers to the top Democrats and Republicans on the two armed services panels: SASC Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and HASC boss Smith and Ranking Member Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas). “We are in discussion, certainly, on the staff level. We haven't moved forward as aggressively as I would have liked, in terms of having more 'Big Four' conversations,” Smith said on an Oct. 21 press call. “Sen. Inhofe has a campaign, he's focused on that.”
B-1B Lancers

Russia Intercepts USAF B-1 Bombers Over Bering Sea

Russian aircraft intercepted two B-1 bombers over the Bering Sea on Oct. 20, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Twitter. The USAF aircraft never entered Russia's sovereign airspace, and the Russian planes followed “international airspace rules,” the ministry added. Pacific Air Forces on Oct. 21 confirmed that two of its B-1s were tasked in the area at the time of the alleged interaction. The Oct. 20 intercept is at least the second time this year that Russia intercepted U.S. military aircraft within a day of their own tails crossing into the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.
STRATCOM Commander Holds Pentagon Briefing

Russia, China Push STRATCOM to Reconsider Strategic Deterrence

Adversaries such as Russia and China have “blurred the lines” when it comes to conventional and nuclear conflict, forcing the U.S. to rethink the way it approaches strategic deterrence. U.S. Strategic Command boss Adm. Charles “Chas” A. Richard said his command is conducting an “exhaustive assessment” of the current threat environment, to include emerging capabilities, changing norms, and potential unintended consequences of conflict. “I recognize that great power competition doesn’t equal conflict, or that we’re on a path to war, but as the commander in charge of employing strategic deterrence capabilities for the nation, and our allies, I simply don’t have the luxury of assuming a crisis, conflict, or war won’t happen,” Richard said.

Virtual Events: 6th Annual Schriever Space Forum, and More

On Nov. 20, the Air Force Association's Schriever Chapter will host the 6th Annual Schriever Space Futures Forum—a live, virtual event—featuring appearances by Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John E. Hyten, Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson, Space and Missile Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, and incoming U.S. Space Command boss Lt. Gen. (sel.) John E. Shaw. Register for free here.

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.

OPINION: The Air Force Pilot Retention Crisis Is Not Over

War on the Rocks

“Some in the Air Force may assume that the service’s pilot manning problems may be over due to the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes Tobias Switzer, a Special Operations Airman who currently works as a military fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “During recessions, Air Force pilots are less likely to leave the service for jobs with commercial airlines. As expected, airline pilot hiring went to almost zero when the pandemic began, and Air Force pilot separations and airline hiring are strongly correlated. This time is different, though, as demographic and licensing trends for airline pilots will significantly shorten the period before companies start recruiting military pilots again.”

The Air Force Plans to Retrain Weapons System Officers to Be B-21 Bomber Pilots

Military.com

Though the service has not announced exactly how many B-21 Raiders it expects to purchase, it will no longer need as many WSOs—commonly referred to as "wizzos"—the aircrew who manage the delivery of bombs as well as intelligence-gathering sensors. It plans to retrain them to become pilots in the years ahead, according to Maj. Gen. Mark E. Weatherington, 8th Air Force commander.

OPINION: What We Don’t Know About Military Innovation

Defense One

“It’s time to take stock of the Pentagon’s various rapid-acquisition efforts,” write Jamie Morin, executive director of The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy, and Bill LaPlante, a former assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition who now serves as president and CEO of the nonprofit Draper Laboratory.

DOD’s CMMC Remains Stuck in Drama, Confusion, and Concern

Federal News Network

Industry experts continue to raise serious concerns about the way forward for the Defense Department’s cybersecurity maturity model certification (CMMC) program. A technology industry representative told reporters on Oct. 20 that the interim rule the Defense Department published in September didn’t offer enough clarity about the certification process, the costs to become certified, and whether there will be reciprocity with other cyber standards. Comments on the interim rule are due Nov. 30 and so far more than two dozen people or organizations have submitted analysis.

Democratic Senators Introduce Bill to Constrain F-35 Sales to UAE

The Hill

A pair of Democratic senators has introduced a bill aimed at constraining the Trump Administration’s effort to sell F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates. The bill, introduced Oct. 20, would require the administration to certify that Israel’s military advantage in the region would not be jeopardized before it can move forward with selling the United States’ most advanced military aircraft to other Middle Eastern countries.

OPINION: Space Force Should Break the Mold in Recruiting and Retaining Talent

SpaceNews

“The Space Force’s Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. ‘Ray’ Raymond is taking a ‘clean sheet approach’ to building a new service,” writes Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Eric Fanning. “One of his most important tasks is recruiting and developing the workforce required to meet the challenges of this ultra-modern domain.”

General Officer Announcement

Defense Department release

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper announced Oct. 21 that President Donald J. Trump has nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael T. Plehn to receive a third star and serve as president of National Defense University.

House Lawmakers Announce New Space Force Caucus

Inside Defense

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers today announced the creation of the Space Force Caucus, which will be focused on advocating for the new service and educating lawmakers and staffers about the military service on its objectives and priorities.

Here Are the 181 Veterans Running for Congress This Year

Military Times

This year, 181 veterans are running for Congress in 162 House and Senate races spread around the country. That number is a slight increase from the 173 veteran candidates who won major political party primaries in 2018.

One More Thing

A Timeline of the International Space Station

Aviation Week Network

On Nov. 2, NASA and its 14 international partners will mark 20 years of continuous human presence aboard the International Space Station. Here are some of the key milestones along the way.