Airmen prepare A10s for flight

Here’s What the Air Force Can’t Get Rid Of, According to the Draft NDAA

Every year, Congress and the military debate which combat assets should head to the boneyard and which have more life left in them. Lawmakers often opt to keep Air Force systems that bring jobs to their districts, which complicates matters as the service looks to modernize and ditch certain platforms. Sometimes the Air Force opposes congressional efforts to divest planes as well. While the final draft of the 2021 defense policy bill, released Dec. 3, is open to letting go of some worn airframes, several others will stick around.

Congress Won’t Impose Naval Ranks on the Space Force

Congress has backed off on requiring the Space Force to adopt naval ranks, allowing the new service to choose its own military rank system and a name for its members. Former Navy SEAL Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) earlier this year floated the idea of calling Space Force personnel admirals or ensigns, for example, instead of their current Air Force ranks like general and staff sergeant. His provision landed in the House’s version of the fiscal 2021 defense policy bill now making its way through Congress. But the Senate did not have a similar provision, and ultimately won out in stripping Crenshaw’s language from the bipartisan compromise between the two chambers.
B-52 Fairford

Maintenance Issues Force B-52 to Divert During Bomber Task Force Mission

The Air Force sent two bomber task force missions to the Pacific and Europe on Dec. 3, with a B-52 linking up with Greek and Norwegian fighters after another was forced to divert, and B-1s headed back to Guam. Two B-52s took off from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., and were en route to the Barents Sea when one of the Stratofortresses experienced a maintenance issue and had to divert to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom. The remaining B-52 continued, and joined with Greek and Norwegian F-16s along with U.S. and Turkish KC-135s for training, according to U.S. European Command.
75th EAS resupplies U.S. forces in Somalia

Trump Orders Pentagon to Withdraw Most Forces from Somalia

The U.S. military will withdraw the “majority” of its personnel and assets from Somalia by early 2021, the Pentagon announced without providing specifics. President Donald J. Trump ordered the move, though the Defense Department in a Dec. 4 statement said the “U.S. is not withdrawing or disengaging from Africa. We remain committed to our African partners and enduring support through a whole-of-government approach.” The Pentagon has not disclosed how many personnel are in the African nation, where they train Somali forces and have conducted operations against al-Shabab, though the Defense Department Inspector General in a November report said between 650 and 800 troops were operating in the country. The withdrawal comes weeks after Trump also ordered the Defense Department to reduce its footprint in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
DSCA briefing

U.S. Approved More than $175 Billion in Weapons Sales in 2020

Authorized U.S. arms sales abroad jumped 2.8 percent, climbing to $175.08 billion in 2020 from $170.09 in 2019, fueled largely by major F-35 sales, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced Dec. 4. The total reflects all deals DSCA has approved in the fiscal year, $50.78 billion of which is implemented government-to-government foreign military sales. The increase in approved buys coincided with the State Department’s efforts to reform arms transfers, including the loosening of restrictions governing the export of remotely piloted aircraft. The $50.78 billion for FMS is a drop from 2019’s total of $55.39 billion for a three-year rolling average of about $54 billion, according to DSCA. Major implemented sales included $23.1 billion for F-35s to Japan, $4.5 billion for F-15J modernization to Japan, $4.25 billion for AH-64E helicopters to Morocco, and $3 billion for aviation fuel to Israel, among others. Additionally, DSCA issued 28,800 export licenses via Direct Commercial Sales, for a total of $124.3 billion.

Virtual Events: USAFA Superintendent on Mitchell’s ‘Aerospace Nation,’ and More

On Jan. 21 at 11 a.m. EST, the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will host USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark on the next installment of its “Aerospace Nation” series. Clark will share his insights into how the Academy is preparing cadets to face today's global challenges, the implications of the creation of the Space Force for the Academy, what it means to accelerate change in an educational institution, and other Academy priorities. Advanced registration is required. Sign up 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.

US Air Force Appeals Ruling Against Urban Training in Idaho

The Associated Press

The U.S. Air Force is appealing a federal court ruling preventing exercises that had military jets coordinating with plain-clothed soldiers on the ground in cities in Idaho as part of an urban warfare training program. The Air Force filed the appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 30. The military says air support for ground forces is increasingly required in urban combat areas.

Airmen Praised for Helping Teenager Off Bridge

The Dayton Daily News

Two Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Airmen are being lauded for their quick action to help save a distressed teenager who was considering jumping from a Fairborn, Ohio, overpass.

Cadet Joint Domain Exercise Incorporates Cyber, Proves Successful

USAFA release

During the exercise, cadets acted as members of an Air Operations Center (AOC), directing two other cadets as remotely piloted aircraft pilots during an intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance mission leading to a simulated kinetic strike on an Islamic State group leadership meeting. Cadet Cyber Team members served as a cyber effects cell and cyber liaison officers who were providing cyber ISR to help track the target, and identify who was actually at the meeting.

Opinion: Are We at the Start of a New Cold War Between the US and China?

Military.com

“The U.S. and China are involved in a wide-ranging economic competition, one that spills over into American bilateral relations with other countries, and also impacts the "rules" of an international system that has evolved, largely under American leadership, in the postwar period. The U.S. competes economically with other countries, most notably Japan and the European Union, but this rivalry is different from the Sino-American one,” writes Joseph V. Micallef, a best-selling military history and world affairs author.

Video: Dunlap Speaks on the Navy, Air Force, Army, & JADC2

Breaking Defense

The Air Force and Army signed an MOU earlier this year to force lower ranking people to come on board and drive greater cooperation between the services as they build JADC2. The Navy has markedly stood back over the last three years as the Army and Air Force have forged ahead, making All Domain Operations one of their top priorities. Dunlap discusses how the three services are working together.