US Forces Face Growing Electronic Warfare Threat in Syria
US forces in Syria are facing a crowded, complicated, and challenging environment that is creating new challenges in electronic warfare. “Right now, in Syria, we’re in the most aggressive [electronic warfare] environment on the planet, from our adversaries. They’re testing us every day, knocking our communications down, disabling our AC-130s, etc.,” said US Special Operations Command boss US Army Gen. Raymond Thomas, speaking Tuesday at the GEOINT Symposium, according to audio of his speech posted by The Drive. These gunships have reached a higher profile inside Syria, following the February strikes on fighters backing the Syrian regime that targeted US and Syrian Democratic Forces. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, asked about this jamming during a Thursday Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, said he can’t blame it on the Russians “right now,” because it is such a crowded battlefield that also includes Syrian regime fighters and Iranian forces. The fighters targeted in February reportedly included Russian contractors, but Mattis said Thursday the US confirmed with Russia’s high command using its “deconfliction line” that no Russian military forces were involved. With that knowledge, Mattis said his direction was for the attacking forces “to be annihilated.” The deconfliction line is “never interrupted” and has “worked pretty well to make certain we don’t run afoul of one another’s forces,” Mattis said. —Brian Everstine
American Service Member Killed in Afghanistan
A US service member was killed and another injured in combat in eastern Afghanistan on Monday. Several Afghan security members were also killed or wounded in the incident, according to a US Forces-Afghanistan release. The specific location of the incident was not released. The service member’s name, and specific service, was not released pending next of kin notification. The incident came the same day as an ISIS suicide bombing in Kabul, which killed dozens including several journalists. —Brian Everstine
Pentagon Sees Increase in Sexual Assault Reports, Courts Martial
Sexual assault reports across the military grew by 10 percent in Fiscal 2017 compared to the previous year, with enough evidence in those reports to take disciplinary action 62 percent of the time, according to data released Monday by the Pentagon. The Defense Department’s Fiscal 2017 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military showed that evidence supported taking action on 54 percent of allegations with the court-martial process. While the report states leadership has taken on a more visible role in the sexual assault prevention and response program, there are still challenges with understanding sexual harassment and changing behavior online. In 2017, there were 6,769 total reports, up from 6,172 in 2016 and more than double the 2007 total of 2,846. Of the 5,277 service members who filed reports, 4,193 were women. Of all these reports, 1,446 received action on a sexual assault charge and 774 of those having court martial charges made. —Brian Everstine
Whiteman A-10s Return from Afghanistan Deployment
Six A-10s and airmen from the 442nd Fighter Wing returned Friday from a six-month deployment to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The A-10s, which were originally slotted to deploy to Incirlik AB, Turkey, were rerouted in January to take part in a renewed offensive targeting the Taliban in Afghanistan. In addition to the A-10s, the Air Force also deployed MQ-9s and HH-60G helicopters to Kandahar as part of the renewed effort. —Brian Everstine
Air National Guard Aircraft that Responded to 9/11 Honored
Military aircraft that responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US are being honored at the Killey Center for Homeland Operations at Tyndall AFB, Fla., the Defense Department said Friday. The facility is home for both the 1st Air Force and the Continental US NORAD Region. An F-15C has been repainted to match one of the F-15As from the 102nd Fighter Wing—now the 102nd Intelligence Wing—from Otis ANGB, Mass., to respond to the attack, and an F-16 was repainted to match one of the fighters from the District of Columbia Air National Guard’s 113th Wing that flew over Washington and the Pentagon. “The F-15 and F-16 both represent the planes that were involved in the 9/11 attack,” said Casey Connell, Killey Center historian. “The 1st Air Force has a history of continental defense, but it was really after the attacks of 9/11 that we started the Operation Noble Eagle mission,” he said, referring to the combined US-Canadian air defense mission to prevent another such attack in North America, “and our mission became more important.” —Steve Hirsch
— Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve on Monday formally inactivated its land component headquarters in Baghdad, marking the “end of major combat operations against ISIS:” CENTCOM release.
—Boeing is responding to Air Force pressure on the delays plaguing the KC-46 program, and working with the service to agree on a common schedule, Air Force Undersecretary Matt Donovan said: Bloomberg.
—The 437th Airlift Wing at JB Charleston, S.C., unveiled the first of eight C-17s to receive nose art. The art is part of an Air Force-wide initiative focused on squadron revitalization: JB Charleston release.
—The Air Force on Friday awarded Harris Corp. a $130 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for handheld video data link radios: DOD release