Texas Activates Its Entire National Guard to Respond to Storm
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday activated the entire Texas National Guard to help respond to tropical storm Harvey as the Houston region coped with massive rainfall and flooding. Multiple Air Force units have deployed or are prepositioned to help with storm response. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
Mitchell Institute Says GBSD Contract Puts Nuclear Modernization Back on Track
With the Air Force announcement last week of two design contracts to replace the Minuteman III ICBM system, “the United States is back on track to modernize its entire nuclear deterrent,” wrote retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute, and Peter Huessy, director of strategic deterrent studies at Mitchell, in an op-ed for The Hill on Sunday. In a statement following the contract announcement, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the contract awards for the development of the Long Range Standoff weapon and the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent will cost the Air Force nearly $2.5 billion in technology maturation and risk reduction contracts and “could undermine strategic stability and fuel another arms race.” But Deptula and Huessy argue that the GBSD program will cost only “about two percent of the USAF budget” over the next 10 years, and that its enhanced survivability will sustain strategic stability with key US adversaries. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
McCain, Smith Blast Trump Transgender Move, Court Challenge Filed
Two senior leaders of congressional defense committees criticized President Donald Trump’s directives limiting transgender individuals from serving in the US military over the weekend, and advocacy groups filed two separate federal lawsuits Monday challenging the constitutionality of the President’s new policy. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
Aircrew Crisis Task Force Completes Two-Week Summit
The Aircrew Crisis Task Force, which the service began to assemble in March to address its pilot shortage, completed a two-week summit held at JB Charleston, S.C., on Friday that was focused on improving pilot retention for the service. The summit brought together aviators and subject matter experts from multiple USAF major commands to identify common retention issues and develop solutions. One of the summit’s central tasks was to examine the exit surveys of pilots separating from the Air Force in order to understand the most common reasons for leaving. After their work was finished, teams from the summit reported their findings to generals from Headquarters Air Force, Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command, US Special Operations Command, and Air Education and Training Command. The Air Force has already announced a first raft of initiatives emerging from the summit conversations, including the first increase in aviation bonuses since 1999 and a new program aimed at returning retired pilots to Active Duty in non-flying positions. —Wilson Brissett
Iraqi Forces Liberate Tal Afar
Iraqi forces wrested control of the city of Tal Afar following an eight-day fight, though coalition aircraft are still hitting ISIS targets in the city. After just more than a week of fighting, Iraqi forces cleared all 29 neighborhoods in the city just west of Mosul, according to Reuters. Tal Afar was ISIS’s last major stronghold in the country and coalition officials expected a harsh fight. Coalition aircraft remain active in the area of the city, with one strike on Sunday hitting an ISIS unit, and two on Saturday hitting units, machine guns, and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, among other targets, US Central Command reported. —Brian Everstine
Japan To Test Missile Defenses at USAF Bases
USAF bases in Japan will host Japanese Air Self Defense Force missile batteries over the next two weeks to test “their ability to rapidly respond to North Korean missile threats.” Japanese forces will test the missile battery during a one day deployment at Yokota AB, along with US Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni on Tuesday. On Sept. 7, a similar test will take place at Misawa Air Base, according to US Pacific Command. “Bilateral engagements like this one demonstrate the enduring strength of the US-Japan alliance and the determination of both our nations to address the security challenge posed by North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs,” US Forces-Japan Commander Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez said in a release. The test follows last weekend’s ballistic missile test by North Korea, in which two missiles failed in flight while the other exploded “almost immediately.” —Brian Everstine
McCaskill Questions DOD Compliance with Improper Payments Plan
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, is pressing DOD on its lack of compliance with a 2010 law aimed at eliminating improper payments. Claiming the DOD Inspector General estimated nearly $1 billion in improper payments in 2016, McCaskill’s letter to Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis asked why the department is behind on compliance with the law. McCaskill’s letter points to a May 2017 DOD IG report that found the DOD had failed to comply with four out of five requirements of the law, including a failure to conduct risk assessments and publish improper payment estimates for two DOD travel programs. She asked Mattis for an update on the department’s implementation of the DOD IG’s recommendations and a description of other efforts taken by the department to reduce improper payments. “When it comes to defense spending, it’s especially important that taxpayer dollars aren’t being wasted and instead are being used to strengthen our national security as much as possible,” said McCaskill in a press release. —Wilson Brissett
—North Korea fired a missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido early Tuesday morning local time. The missile broke into three pieces and then fell into the Sea of Japan. The Japanese government did not attempt to shoot down the missile, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch “unprecedented.” North Korea also fired three other missiles into the Sea of Japan on Friday and Saturday, escalating already heightened tensions in the region: BBC.
—The US military says the United Nation’s call to halt airstrikes in Raqqa, Syria, would lead to opportunities for ISIS: Military Times.
—A military judge ruled that the former commander of the 722nd Expeditionary Air Base Squadron at Sidi Ahmed AB, Tunisia, be dismissed from the service for having an inappropriate relationship with an 18-year-old Security Forces airman among other charges: Stars and Stripes.
—The Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing received its first KC-135 with the Block 45 upgrade, which modifies the aging aircraft’s instruments with “the newest digital avionics:” Iowa ANG release.
—Members of the 563rd Rescue Group conducted Tiger Rescue Aug. 14-16. The three-day personnel recovery exercise focused on “the specific downrange atmosphere” the “rescue squad?rons will be entering:” USAF release.