A-10 Rewinging Will Continue in 2019
Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes said the Fiscal 2019 budget request will include funds to continue rewinging the venerable A-10. The service plans to keep flying the Warthog through at least the 2030s, but it’s still not clear how many A-10s will be upgraded. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
USAF, Army Forced to Cancel First Multi-Domain Battle Exercise Due to Shutdown
The recent government shutdown forced Air Combat Command and the US Army Training and Doctrine Command to cancel the first of four tabletop exercises meant to determine how the two services will fight together in future conflicts. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
Pentagon Presses Turkey to End Offensive Against US-Backed Fighters in Syria
US military leaders are pressuring Turkey to curtail its offensive against Kurdish fighters inside Syria, as Turkey’s president called on the US to withdraw and clear the way for more fighting. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday told President Trump to order the removal of US forces from the city on Manbij, where American advisers are working with Syrian Democratic Forces in the anti-ISIS fight. SDF units include Kurdish fighters that Turkey said are aligned with YKK separatists inside its borders. On Saturday, Turkey launched an offensive in Afrin against them. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Erdogan told Trump the fighting will expand to Manbij, according to Reuters. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White told reporters on Thursday that Turkey has “legitimate security concerns,” but the common threat in the region is ISIS and all parties need to “focus on that mission.” This offensive in Afrin is a “distraction,” she said. US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, said during the briefing that Turkey notified the US before it began the fighting in Afrin. In Manbij, Turkey knows where US forces are so they are not at risk. The US military would not speculate on whether this conflict would impact USAF operations at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey if it continues, just that there are “alternatives for a broad range of contingencies.” —Brian Everstine
Coalition Update: 13 More Civilians Killed by Airstrikes in Anti-ISIS Fight
Thirteen more civilians were killed in five incidents in Iraq and Syria, bringing the total number of civilian deaths caused by the US-led anti-ISIS coalition to at least 831. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve each month releases an update on its investigations into claims of civilian casualties in coalition strikes, which are largely reported by human rights groups. Throughout December, the coalition finished its assessment of 218 reports, with 207 deemed to be not credible and five more were duplicates of previous reports. The coalition has conducted 28,783 strikes between August 2014 and December 2017, with a total of 1,820 reports made of possible civilian casualties, of which 202 reports were deemed credible. There are 406 reports still under investigation, according to the coalition. —Brian Everstine
Former State Department Leaders Address Shortfalls in Security, Defense Strategies
Three former State Department leaders told lawmakers on Thursday that both the National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy fail to completely address growing threats, including climate change and an overworked military. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Official Says Air Force Working to Speed Officer Performance Management
A top Air Force official told Congress Wednesday the service is working to streamline the process for officer performance management, in light of success with enlisted promotion processes. The Air Force must compete for the best and brightest leaders, and with a more competitive labor market, attracting and keeping those leaders “may require additional flexibilities in our personnel management governance,” said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, head of manpower, personnel, and services. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.
—The Air Force has upgraded its largest conventional bomb, the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator, according to a new report from the Pentagon’s weapons tester. The upgrades improve the bomb’s penetration capabilities: Popular Mechanics.
—The Air Force is rolling out new physical training standards for battlefield airmen. The new tier two standards exempt airmen, such as air liaison officers and tactical air control party operators, from three of four components of the physical assessment because their job-specific assessments effectively measure their fitness: Air Force release.
—The Afghan Air Force this month received four additional UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which it is using to replace Mi-17s: IHS Jane’s.
—Northrop Grumman posted better than expected quarterly earnings, but the company’s chief executive on a Thursday call with shareholders raised concern about Congress not passing a federal budget: Reuters via CNBC.