JTAC to Receive Silver Star for 2006 Afghanistan Battles

CMSgt. Michael West will receive the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor in combat, for his actions at Panjwai, Afghanistan, from Sept. 3-9, 2006. In two battles over a five-day period, then-Master Sergeant West served as a joint terminal attack controller for Operational Det. Alpha team in support of Operation Medusa, whose mission was to gain government control over part of Kandahar province. Over the course of the battles, West exposed himself to enemy fire while demonstrating “surgical control” of more than 88 fixed and rotary wing attack aircraft, ISR platforms, and medical evacuation aircraft. He directed strikes delivering more than 24,000 pounds of precision ordnance and is credited with the deaths of more than 500 enemy fighters killed in action. His “mastery of air-to-ground operations and willingness to expose himself to direct and accurate enemy fire” saved the lives of 51 Special Forces members and 33 coalition partners, according to his award citation. West will receive the Silver Star on Dec. 15 during a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla. —Wilson Brissett

Combat Controller to Receive Silver Star for Mosul Actions

SSgt. Christopher Lewis will receive a Silver Star next month for his actions during a 10-hour firefight near Mosul, Iraq, on Oct. 20, 2016. Lewis was embedded with a Navy SEAL team tasked with advising, assisting, and accompanying Kurdish Peshmerga forces to clear ISIS fighters from two villages near Mosul. On approach, Lewis and his team were ambushed from three directions and took heavy fire from rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and small arms. Lewis immediately began calling in close air support, exposing himself to enemy fire while directing airstrikes “within 400 meters of his team’s position,” according to his award citation. Later, Lewis used a “.50 caliber machine gun in an open turret” to destroy a truck bearing IEDs quickly approaching toward his team. Lewis dismounted his vehicle to provide life-saving medical treatment to an injured teammate who fell less than five meters from an unexploded IED, and he pulled two other teammates from a vehicle damaged by in an IED blast. Over the entire battle, Lewis controlled airstrikes that killed 20 enemies in action. He will receive the Silver Star—the nation’s third highest award for valor in combat—on Jan. 19 in a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Fla. —Wilson Brissett

Raymond Says Partnerships are Driving Progress in Space

Partnerships with allies, industry, other US military services, and the intelligence community are working to make “our space capabilities and our space warfighters … the envy of the world,” Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, said Dec. 8 at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Washington, D.C. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

The Creation of a Space Rapid Capabilities Office

The 2018 national defense policy bill, which is currently waiting for President Trump’s signature, changes the name of the Operationally Responsive Space program to make it the Space Rapid Capabilities program. The shift is more than “just a name change,” Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, said at an AFA Mitchell Institute event in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Eventually, the ORS may become the service’s space-focused Rapid Capabilities Office. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

Congress Passes Two-Week Continuing Resolution

Both houses of Congress on Dec. 7 approved a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for two more weeks, until Dec. 22. The Senate supported the measure overwhelmingly with an 81-14 vote, while the House approved the bill 235-193, with only 18 Republicans voting against the bill and only 14 Democrats supporting it. Armed Services Committee members from both ends of the Capitol have opposed another continuing resolution because of its destabilizing influence on military plans and readiness. HASC chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) voted for the CR, but in the Senate, eight of the 14 nay votes came from members of the Armed Services Committee. Five of the six Republicans voting against the bill are SASC members, including committee chair Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). “Every day we spend on a continuing resolution is a day that our military must try to do more with less, modernization is delayed, and readiness is degraded,” McCain said in a press release. “For that reason, I cannot support this continuing resolution.” The Air Force Association “strongly urges” Congress to pass a full-year appropriations bill by Dec. 22 so it doesn’t further put the nation at risk. —Wilson Brissett

A-10s Surge at Moody

Airmen from the 23rd Fighter Group at Moody AFB, Ga., recently completed a week-long surge exercise intended to test their ability to deploy quickly with little advanced notice. A-10 pilots at Moody logged more than 100 sorties during the Dec. 4-7 surge, more than twice the normal operations pace. “This exercise prepared our airmen to execute our wartime mission,” said Col. Michael Curley, 23rd FG commander, in a press release. “The fighter group trained to execute their primary wartime mission to deliver and support the delivery of close air support and combat search and rescue in any theater, anytime around the globe.”

Smarter Acquisition

Years worth of reacting to acquisition missteps have yielded duplicative and burdensome statutes, policies, and self-imposed practices. The time has come to stop adding new regulations, and to seek opportunities to streamline existing regulations to empower prudent decision-making focused on smart outcomes, according to a panel of USAF leaders and industry experts at a recent West Coast Aerospace Forum in California. Read the full story by Doug Birkey.


—The Air Force wants to add more than 300,000 acres to the Nevada Test and Training Range, which, at 2.9 million acres, is already “the largest contiguous air and ground space available for peacetime military operations in the free world,” according to the service: Las Vegas Review Journal story.

—The Counter-electronics High Power Microwave Advanced Missile Project, which is under development at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland AFB, N.M., could be deployed on an air-launched cruise missile: CNN story.