Revamping Homeland Defense

U.S. Northern Command was created 20 years ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., and though the threats have evolved significantly since then, the command still largely relies on the same analog systems and processes to share threat data and intelligence. Solutions are mostly regionally focused and still involve human analysts entering data into spreadsheets, verbally providing updates across operations centers, and pulling together PowerPoint slides to brief leaders. That's about to change.
Austin briefing

Secretary Austin in Quarantine with COVID as DOD Braces for Infection Spike

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III tested positive for COVID-19 Jan. 2 and is experiencing mild symptoms, he said in a statement. Austin said he last met with President Joe Biden Dec. 21 and his own staff Dec. 30. Both meetings took place prior to exhibiting symptoms. The Secretary will conduct virtual meetings as necessary and quarantine at his home for five days. Austin’s own COVID-19 infection comes amid heightened measures across the defense apparatus to contain the rapid spread of the highly-contagious omicron variant, which has infects even those who have been vaccinated and received a booster. Austin received his COVID booster shot in October.
Biden White House

Biden Promises ‘Heavy Price’ of a Ukraine Invasion in Call with Putin

President Joe Biden kicked off the new year with a promise of three high-level talks between the United States and Russia to address tensions along the border with Ukraine and Russia’s concerns about NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin has maintained a forceful troop presence of some 100,000 virtually surrounding Ukraine, with sophisticated air force and anti-access/area denial (A2AD) capabilities that experts believe would allow for a swift invasion. Biden has warned of heavy sanctions and reinforcements to NATO’s eastern flank if Russia invaded, but the president has not increased deterrence measures from allies. Biden has also repeated his support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, but not provided additional defense assistance to that country following a December visit to Ukraine by a U.S. air defense team.
oklahoma air national guard

Oklahoma ANG Prohibits Unvaccinated Airmen from Drilling

Unvaccinated Airmen from the Oklahoma Air National Guard who don’t have an approved or pending religious or administrative accommodation to the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate are no longer allowed to drill, announced the state’s adjutant general, Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Mancino.

Radar Sweep

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Drone Attack on US Base Foiled, Iraqi Security Sources Say


Two armed drones were shot down on Jan. 3 as they approached an Iraqi military base hosting U.S. forces near Baghdad's international airport, Iraqi security sources said, adding that nobody was hurt in the incident. The attack came as Iran and its allies in Iraq marked the second anniversary of the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

Pakistan Confirms Chinese ‘Firebird’ Fighter Acquisition

Defense News

Pakistan has officially confirmed its long-speculated acquisition of the Chinese J-10C “Firebird” fighter, which is slated to arrive in time to take part in the March 23 Pakistan Day parade. Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Pakistan’s interior minister, told the media the country has acquired 25 aircraft. He linked them as a counter to India’s recently-inducted Rafale.

Biden Gets Snowed in to Air Force One as Winter Storm Brings DC to Standstill

The Independent

President Joe Biden was snowed into Air Force One as he landed back in Washington D.C., as a snowstorm brought the U.S. capital to a standstill. Biden was able to leave the plane after airport staff worked in the heavy snow to bring the stairlift to the door of the aircraft. The truck transporting the stairs was pushed by workers as it struggled through the snow, with the President being stuck on the tarmac for 30 minutes.

ANALYSIS: Why Do US Hypersonic Missile Tests Keep Failing? They’re Going Too Fast

Defense One

“A new arms technology is coming into its own, and the U.S. Defense Department is determined to achieve quick results in the field. Rather than select one or two concepts and usher them through the deliberate, highly structured process of research, development, testing, and evaluation, the Pentagon’s program managers opt for multiple, competing efforts, and place them on a streamlined course: rapid prototyping and testing, to be followed by rapid production and deployment. The major defense contractors set forth as confidently as prospectors during the gold rush,” writes Joshua Pollack, senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and the editor of the Nonproliferation Review.

VIDEO: Miles Above Top Secret: Does the US Classify Too Much in Space?

Breaking Defense

Victoria Samson of the Secure World Foundation, Makena Young of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Rosalind Lewis of Aerospace Corp, and Breaking Defense’s own space expert, Theresa Hitchens, discuss the findings of the the first ever Breaking Defense Military Space Survey, in which just under 50 percent of respondents, drawn from inside the government, industry, and outside close observers, reported that threat information to space systems should be disclosed or unclassified more often, with 33 percent saying it should not and the remainder “not sure” of their stance.

COVID-Related Shortages Could Send Tab for Offutt Rebuilding Through the Roof

Omaha World-Herald

Rebuilding Offutt Air Force Base from the devastating March 2019 flood is going to take longer and cost more than engineers first thought, military and congressional sources say. A lot more. Rep. Don Bacon, the former commander of the base’s 55th Wing, said he’s been told by Offutt officials to expect the original estimate of nearly $800 million, calculated within six months of the flood, to rise by more than one-third.

Why the Air Force Wants to Put LIDAR on Robot Dogs

Popular Science

What might it take to rebuild an Air Force base after a direct hit? In 2018, Hurricane Michael tore through Tyndall Air Force Base on the Florida panhandle, damaging planes and facilities alike. Restoring the place, while safeguarding against future disasters, is an ongoing task, and it’s one the Air Force is treating as a learning exercise. To that end, it’s experimenting with how laser sensors, on drones and robot dogs, can map damage before a human even has to set foot in a collapsing building.

35 Incredible Photos from a Chaotic Year for the US Military

From the nation’s capital to Afghanistan, service members were asked to defend America, Americans, and American ideals around the world in 2021. Those missions included assisting local hospitals as they battled the coronavirus pandemic, guarding the U.S. Capitol from those committed to upending democracy, and the evacuation of Kabul which claimed the lives of 13 service members and saw Afghans desperate to escape Taliban rule clinging to U.S. military aircraft and begging for a chance to flee.

Defense Secretary Taking More Authority for Use of DC Guard

The Associated Press

The Pentagon said Dec. 30 it has streamlined the approval process for urgent use of National Guard forces in the District of Columbia, after months of study following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The changes give the Defense Secretary sole authority to approve requests that would involve D.C. National Guard personnel participating in civil law enforcement or that would require their deployment within 48 hours. That approval authority had previously been delegated to the Army Secretary, the service’s top civilian official.

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Who Won in Afghanistan? Private Contractors

The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. lost its 20-year campaign to transform Afghanistan. Many contractors won big. Those who benefited from the outpouring of government money range from major weapons manufacturers to entrepreneurs. A California businessman running a bar in Kyrgyzstan started a fuel business that brought in billions in revenue. A young Afghan translator transformed a deal to provide forces with bed sheets into a business empire including a TV station and a domestic airline.

One More Thing

Check Out This Amazing Video Of German Air Force Tornado Aircraft Flying Low Level Over Afghanistan

The Aviationist

For three years, from 2007 to 2010, a contingent of six German Air Force Tornado IDS aircraft operated over Afghanistan, flying reconnaissance sorties in support of NATO International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) and Resolute Support (RS) missions. Video filmed back then provides a glimpse into the life of the Luftwaffe aircrews and their missions over Afghanistan.