Historic B-1 Flights Part of Increased US Bomber Activity in Pacific
B-1B bombers flew two high-profile missions to Japan and South Korea following North Korea’s recent test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The bomber missions are part of an accelerated air operations campaign in the Pacific, where the number of higher headquarters-directed tanker and bomber sorties has nearly tripled in the past two years. Brig. Gen. Stephen Williams, director of air operations, told Air Force Magazine why he believes PACAF may have the highest readiness levels in the Air Force. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
An F-35A departs Eglin AFB, Fla., for Exercise Red Flag 17-3 on July 6. Air Force photo by SSgt. Peter Thompson
USAF, USMC F-35s to Train Together at Red Flag
Air Combat Command’s premier exercise will integrate two variants of the newest fighter for the first time. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.
361st EATKS Predator Flies Final Combat Mission in CENTCOM
An MQ-1B Predator flew the aircraft’s final flight within the US Central Command area of responsibility on July 1. The 361st Expeditionary Attack Squadron flew the last mission and held a ceremony the next day for the RPA that ushered the US military into the era of unmanned aerial warfare. In the past 18 months, the 361st EATKS has flown the MQ-1 on more than 2,000 combat missions, covering 36,000 flight hours, and fired 358 AGM-114 Hellfire missiles in the counter-ISIS fight. “The predator has been a workhorse in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the fight against ISIS,” said Lt. Col. Douglas, 361st EATKS commander in a press release. “When you see the results everyday on the battlefield, it’s unfathomable at times.” The Air Force is working to retire the whole MQ-1 fleet by 2018. Stateside bases like Creech AFB, Nev., and Holloman AFB, N.M. have already ended their Predator missions. The platform is being replaced by the more capable MQ-9, which the Air Force has been flying for ten years. “The MQ-1 was a great capability, but the MQ-9 brings extra speed, weapons, and a better sensor package,” Douglas said. — Wilson Brissett
White House Limits Afghanistan Troop Increase
The White House has limited the Pentagon’s ability to increase the numbers of troops in Afghanistan, while publicly saying Defense Secretary James Mattis has the authority to determine the total increase. The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a memo from National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, that the White House told Mattis that no more than 3,900 more troops could be sent to Afghanistan without conferring again with the administration. The White House, last month, gave the Pentagon the authority to decide the troop levels in Afghanistan, to coincide with a broader government strategy in the Middle East. Mattis said his interagency discussions would “define the way ahead.” — Brian Everstine
Fallon: NATO Needs More Agility in Addition to More Funding
NATO needs to not only increase the defense spending among its members, but also needs to “transform itself into a far more agile organization,” the head of the United Kingdom’s military said Friday. Michael Fallon, the UK’s Secretary of State for Defense, said during a visit to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., that he is working with US Defense Secretary James Mattis to help NATO speed up its decision making and cut back on bureaucracy in response to increasing global threats. There are “challenges that demand an international response,” including North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, international terrorism, Iran’s malign influence, along with “misinformation and cyber attacks,” Fallon said. NATO as a whole needs to work together to address these threats, and while members need to spend more, there has already been a notable increase in spending. Since the 2014 Wales summit, 24 of NATO’s 29 nations have raised their spending commitments to a collective total of $46 billion dollars, Fallon said. — Brian Everstine
Squadron Officer School Gets Redesign
Air University’s Squadron Officer School (SOS) is reopening at the end of July with a revamped curriculum designed to integrate Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s top priorities. SOS had closed during the month of June, cancelling an entire class, in order to make the changes. The new course will focus on four areas of study: leadership, team building, logical and ethical decision-making, and multi-domain joint warfare. These are intended to coordinate with Goldfein’s focus on revitalizing squadrons, developing joint leaders, and improving multi-domain command and control across the Air Force. “This in-residence program is an opportunity to ensure captains think deeply and critically” about their tactical experience, said Maj. Dwayne Clark, dean of academic affairs at Squadron Officer College, which runs SOS, in a press release. “As such, we will engage them in divergent, convergent and reflective thinking habits, which are cornerstones for leadership growth.” The new course will take six-and-a-half weeks to complete instead of five, and the first class begins on July 31. With a longer course, SOC will only be able to hold six versions of the course per year, instead of seven, but the size of each class will also be increased from 600 to 700 students.
— The Air Force Personnel Center announces the 2017 Outstanding Airmen of the Year: AFPC release.
—Airmen with the 497th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., keep a constant eye on ISIS in Iraq and Syria to develop targets for deployed aircraft: The Washington Post.
—The United Nations adopted a treaty to ban nuclear weapons on Friday. The treaty, which will be open for member-nation signatures beginning on September 20, has been op?posed by US military commanders: Voice of America.
—A small but growing USAF presence in Poland is having a large impact in Eastern European security: Stars and Stripes.
—Airmen with the 24th Air Force are contributing to an increasing cybersecurity presence in San Antonio: Xconomy.
—The 317th Airlift Wing, a C-130 unit previously an airlift group, stands up at Dyess AFB, Texas: Abiline Reporter-News
—Eglin AFB, Fla., is assessing the environmental impact of a fire at the base’s McKinley Climatic Laboratory: Northwest Florida Daily News.