Tactical Airlift Requirement Increasing in Afghanistan
Tactical airlift crews in Afghanistan have seen a spike in operations as more troops flow into that country. Since arriving at Bagram Airfield in September 2017, the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron has flown 355 missions, including 1,655 combat sorties and more than 1,800 flight hours, according to an Air Forces Central Command release. The C-130Js from Little Rock AFB, Ark., also have offloaded some 300,000 pounds of fuel, including a 350 percent increase in “wet-wing” defueling missions, where the aircraft lands at an austere location to provide fuel for aircraft there, from the same time last year. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
One US Soldier Killed, Four Wounded in Afghanistan
One US soldier was killed and another four people were wounded during a “combat engagement” Jan. 1 in Afghanistan. The incident occurred in Achin, Nangarhar Province—an area of heavy combat operations in recent months in the fight against ISIS. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Tuesday identified the soldier as Sgt. 1st Class Mihail Golin of Fort Lee, N.J. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own,” Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US Forces-Afghanistan, said in a statement. “At this very difficult time our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of our fallen and wounded brothers.” Golin is the first US service member killed in Afghanistan in 2018, more than 16 years after the war there first began. —Brian Everstine
Air Force Intercepts Small Plane Near Mar-a-Lago
Two Air Force F-16s out of Homestead ARB, Fla., intercepted a small plane Sunday in airspace restricted during President Trump’s visits to his nearby Mar-a-Lago retreat. The intercept occurred at 4:24 p.m. about 29 miles north of the resort, according to the Palm Beach Post. Michael Kucharek, NORAD spokesperson, said in a email that one F-16 attempted to contact the private aircraft and followed it until it landed at North Palm Beach County Airport without incident. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that the Federal Aviation Administration says 11 aircraft violated airspace restrictions during Trump’s Dec. 22-Jan. 1 visit. —Steve Hirsch
Air Force to Let Colonels Serve Beyond 30 Years
Eligible colonels are now allowed to serve more than 30 years in uniform—a move intended to keep experienced personnel in service as the Air Force faces manning shortfalls. Fifty colonels who meet the mandatory requirement dates between Feb. 1, 2018, and Feb. 1, 2019, are now eligible to remain on Active Duty for another three years, the service announced Dec. 29. The eligible officers should have been notified by Dec. 31. “It can take 21 years to develop a line officer to become a colonel who may then serve up to 30 years,” Col. Jeff O’Donnell, Air Force Colonels Group director, said in a release announcing the change. “And as the Air Force is growing end strength, we need experienced leaders to serve and lead across the Department of Defense.
Mattis: No Plans to Reschedule Exercises in South Korea as Olympics Approach
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the Defense Department has no plans to reschedule exercises with South Korea as the Winter Olympics approach, but cautioned that the two countries’ governments still can decide to move the dates of events such as Foal Eagle. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Raytheon Gets $684 Million AMRAAM Contract
Raytheon on Dec. 28 received a $634 million contract to provide air-to-air missiles for the US and allied nations, the Pentagon announced. The contract covers Lot 31 production of Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles, including sales to Japan, Korea, Morocco, Poland, Indonesia, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Bahrain, and Qatar, according to the announcement. Work is expected to last until Jan. 31, 2020.
—Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, called for a more aggressive Afghan military to combat the growth of the Taliban: Associated Press.
—At the end of 2017, ISIS had lost 98 percent of the land it once held, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said in its year-end roundup of its mission. More than 4.5 million people were liberated in Iraq and Syria during the year: US Central Command release.
—SSgt. Cassidy McCurdy, an independent duty medical technician with the 51st Medical Group at Osan AB, South Korea, was able to use her Air Force training to help a woman in cardiac arrest on a recent flight to Seattle. McCurdy was heading back to South Korea after take leaving in California: USAF release.
—The Air Force awarded Boeing a $193 million contract modification for an additional 6,000 small diameter bombs. The contracts includes foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Singapore: DOD contract announcement.