Just hours after filing an on-the-ground assessment of the first few weeks of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv-based Breaking Defense contributor Reuben Johnson disappeared. He eventually reemerged in Poland, having been robbed by Russian soldiers and detained at gunpoint for two full weeks. The following is Reuben’s story of his time in captivity at a Russian base, how he eventually was freed, and what he learned about the invasion while surrounded by Russian soldiers.
Members of the Florida National Guard unit training Ukrainians in the days before Russia invaded are back at it, getting Ukrainian soldiers spun up on the new hardware the U.S. has sent to help them repel Putin’s attack on the Donbas region. The American Soldiers are not in Ukraine, but in Grafenwoehr, Germany, and elsewhere in Europe, where they’ve begun training Ukrainians on U.S. artillery.
A bipartisan group of Georgia lawmakers is asking congressional budget writers to reject the Biden administration’s plan to close a training facility for military pilots in the state. The five Georgia congressmen, led by Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, sent a letter to key members of House and Senate subcommittees that oversee defense budgets to request $11.5 million to keep open the Combat Readiness Training Center in Savannah.
Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force, showed off the latest prototype of the service's dress uniform during a Senate hearing. The new version features notable changes after critics roasted an earlier iteration last year. Raymond's well tailored dress uniform, which he wore as he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the service's proposed 2023 budget, is the latest version to be publicly displayed since the first was unveiled at the Air & Space Forces Association's Air, Space & Cyber Conference in September 2021.
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee pressed Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond on the Space Force’s plans to acquire next-generation technologies and develop the future workforce. Raymond said the “No. 1 mission” is to modernize the missile-warning space architecture to defend against increasingly advanced hypersonic missiles and glide vehicles being developed by U.S. adversaries.
The Space Force is moving ahead with a plan to extend the life of the Mobile User Objective System constellation, requesting funds in fiscal 2023 to build and launch two more ultra-high frequency communication satellites. The service last month released details of its budget request, including $165.9 million for MUOS development in fiscal 2023 and about $2.2 billion over the next five years. It also includes funding for two fixed-price satellite design contracts to be awarded early next year.
“Luckily, escalation theory is an academic discipline that can help policymakers gauge the risks of the next proposed package of U.S. military aid to Ukraine. As it happens, escalation theories provide much more flexibility for aggressive U.S. actions in Ukraine than many realize. But there is a limit, as these theories also explain how nuclear escalation could become inevitable, even if the United States contributes nothing more to Ukraine’s defense,” writes Air Force Maj. Shane Praiswater, a former military analyst at the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a fellow at Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.
Turkey’s 2017 purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system notoriously turned it into a pariah on Capitol Hill, prompting Congress to lead the way in kicking Ankara off the F-35 stealth fighter jet program. But Turkey’s support for Ukraine, most notably via the export of armed drones and diplomacy with Russia, has presented Ankara with an opportunity to bolster its tarnished image in Congress.
“While AI is probably not going to determine the outcome of a U.S.-Chinese war, the bottom line is that the technology would augment U.S. and Chinese military capabilities in important ways. Chinese investments in AI prioritize near-term offensive capabilities. In particular, AI could play a significant role in the People’s Liberation Army’s efforts to disrupt and degrade the U.S. battle network and compensate for its own deficiencies in the undersea and electromagnetic domains,” write Alex Stephenson, a China military technology research assistant at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology; and Ryan Fedasiuk, a research analyst at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology and an adjunct fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
With its host of acronyms, ranks, ratings, and buzzwords, the military has a language all its own, with plenty of localized jargon and dialects for each branch, occupation, and even unit developing unique words to do their jobs. The Air Force, in particular, has several highly specialized jobs that play essential roles in keeping aircraft ready to fly. Airmen in each Air Force Specialty Code take pride in what they do, to the point where there are a dazzling number of nicknames for each role.