B-1s Return to Ellsworth, Flew 250 Sorties During Pacific Deployment
B-1Bs and about 350 airmen returned home to Ellsworth AFB, S.D., on Monday after a six-month deployment as part of the Air Force’s Continuous Bomber Presence in the Pacific. The Lancers were replaced by B-52Hs from Barksdale AFB, La., earlier this month. During their deployment, the B-1s flew more than 250 sorties, according to the 28th Bomb Wing. This included multiple shows of force flyovers in the Sea of Japan and near the Korean Peninsula as tensions with North Korea flared. As the B-1s finished their deployment this month, B-2s deployed to the base along with the B-52s—only the second time in USAF history that all three bombers were deployed to the Pacific simultaneously. —Brian Everstine
DOD Launches Social Media Use Review After Fitness Map Shows Operating Locations
The Pentagon is reviewing its procedures regarding social media use after a fitness app published a map of its users’ running and cycling routes that included remote military operating locations. The Strava “Heatmap” displays where its users run and cycle, including special operations bases and other austere locations not publicly acknowledged by the Defense Department. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Mattis, South Korean Defense Minister Urge Diplomacy, Ready Military Options for North Korea
The ongoing threat of a nuclear North Korea requires a global, diplomatic solution, but the US military and its allies need ready military options to backup the diplomacy, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said. “The Kim regime is a threat to the entire world,” Mattis said at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, on Friday. “It’s an international problem that requires an international solution.” Mattis spoke alongside South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo, who said his country and the US are developing “measures of cooperation” to ensure that next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are safe and peaceful. The two countries have suspended military exercises until after the Olympics. North and South Korea have come together to talk and jointly participate in events at the Olympics, but “we do not lose sight of the fact that the Olympics talks alone do not address overarching problems,” Mattis said. “Accordingly, our combined military stands shoulder-to-shoulder, ready to defend against any attack on the ROK [Republic of Korea] or USA.” The joint talks came shortly after Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited Pacific Air Forces headquarters at Hickam to begin her tour of USAF sites across the Pacific. —Brian Everstine
Stoss Takes Over 20th Air Force
Maj. Gen. Fred Stoss assumed command of 20th Air Force from Maj. Gen. Anthony Cotton during a Friday ceremony at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. Stoss previously served as the director of operations and communications for Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters at Barksdale AFB, La. In his new role, he will be responsible for the more than 10,000 people who make up of the nation’s ICBM force at F.E. Warren, Minot AFB, N.D., and Malmstrom AFB, Mont. He also will oversee the 377th Air Base Wing at Kirtland AFB, N.M., which provides nuclear support. Cotton, who has led the numbered air force since November 2015, will now lead Air University at Maxwell AFB, Ala. “My first goal as your commander is to learn your issues and challenges to improve our lethality and readiness and to take care of our people and families across 20th Air Force,” said Stoss, according to a USAF release. “I am in awe of your commitment to our nation, and I look forward to serving shoulder-to-shoulder with you.”
Russian Jet Flies Within Feet of US Surveillance Plane
A Russian jet flew within five feet of a US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance plane in the Black Sea on Monday, another in a series of “unprofessional” intercepts in the region. The incident forced the P-3 to end its mission prematurely, CNN reported. F-15s assigned to the 493rd Fighter Squadron recently wrapped up an air policing deployment to the region, where they flew more than 30 intercepts of Russian aircraft. Pentagon spokesman US Army Col. Rob Manning said Monday that all “unsafe and unprofessional” intercepts in the region are “unhelpful.” —Brian Everstine
Chairman of House Appropriations Committee to Retire
The influential chairman of the House Appropriations Committee announced on Monday he will retire at the end of this session. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), who served 12 terms in the House of Representatives but only one full year as head of the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement posted to his website that he will use his remaining time in office to “finish” Fiscal 2018 bills and pass Fiscal 2019 bills on time. “Throughout my service in this House, my deepest devotion has been to supporting our Armed Forces, all volunteers, and their families, here and abroad, and those warfighters who have returned home with injuries and who depend on a functioning veterans’ health care system,” he wrote. “To those of you I have met while you served us overseas and to those of you that I have sat by your bedside, I hope and trust I have served you well.” Frelinghuysen is the eighth Republican committee chairman to announce retirement this year, reported NPR.
—A Royal Australian Air Force E/A-18G caught fire during takeoff at Nellis AFB, Nev., on Jan. 27. The jet was flying as part of a Red Flag exercise, and five were treated for injuries: USAF release.
—The 9?20th Rescue Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., was awarded the German version of the Medal of Honor for a 2016 rescue mission: Florida Today.
—About 50 airmen and two C-130s from Dobbins ARB, Ga., are participating in Exercise Real Thaw 18 in Portugal: USAFE Twitter post.
—The National Space Defense Center, previously known as the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, transitioned to 24/7 operations on Jan. 8. The interagency team is responsible for protecting the nation’s space assets by tracking and characterizing threats: USAF release.