HASC Backs Commission to Look Into Flight Safety, Physiological Problems
The House Armed Services Committee Wednesday approved an amendment to the Fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill that would create a commission to look into aviation flight safety, unexplained physiological effects faced by Air Force and other military pilots, and delays in aviation maintenance. The move came as the panel dealt with more than 100 amendments to the bill during its opening session. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.
DOD Finalizing Cyber Posture Review
The Pentagon is finalizing a Cyber Posture Review, similar to a study it has already released focusing on nuclear forces and one underway on missile defense, that will outline how the department plans to increase its focus on online warfare. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, speaking Wednesday at a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing, said he expects to receive the review “within months,” and it will help the Pentagon “find a way to build up” cyber capabilities that are needed, including a lack of “red teams” to help strengthen network defenses. Cyber capabilities “cuts across all the services” from nuclear to conventional, and must be a top priority in the department, he said. —Brian Everstine
DOD Calls on FAA, Congress for Authorities to Counter Small UAS Threats
The military is tracking every over flight of its bases, ships, and airfields by small consumer drones and other aircraft and now needs additional authorities from the Federal Aviation Administration to be able to take down any possible threat, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said. Mattis said he was “surprised to see how much of this is being dealt with” at bases across the country, and while the department can take action at certain “sensitive” locations, the military needs to be able to take down UAS systems that can threaten any of its sites, he said at a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing. It is “only a matter of time before the threat manifests itself in a violent way,” he said. The FAA and Congress needs to help the military face this growing issue, while still being careful to avoid harming other aircraft such as a passenger jet, Mattis said. —Brian Everstine
USAF Raises Bar for Research Coordination with National Science Foundation
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and National Science Foundation Director France Cordova signed a letter of intent Wednesday afternoon, kicking off increased visibility between the organizations’ research efforts. The planned collaboration is focused on four broad areas: space operations and geosciences, advanced material sciences, information and data sciences, and workforce and processes. USAF and NSF experts in these areas will form working groups and identify mutually beneficial paths to this end. Other than that, the agreement is largely symbolic at the moment, and will take shape in the coming months. So far, USAF and NSF have already been finding ways to share research on artificial intelligence, data, and materials, and also began searching for NSF intern placements in the Air Force. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.
USAF Three Star Nominated to Take Over JSOC
President Donald Trump has nominated USAF Lt. Gen. Scott Howell to take over Joint Special Operations Command. Howell is currently the vice commander of US Special Operations Command and, if confirmed, would replace Army Lt. Gen. Austin Miller who has been nominated for a fourth star but not for a specific new position yet. Howell previously was the commanding general of NATO Special Operations Command—Afghanistan, and is a command pilot with more than 2,600 hours in rotary wing aircraft. Also Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced the nomination of Maj. Gen. Warren Berry to receive his third star and to be the chief of staff for logistics, engineering, and force protection. Berry is currently the deputy commander of Air Force Materiel Command. Lastly, Maj. Gen. Donald Kirkland was nominated to the rank of lieutenant general and to be commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center. He is currently the director of logistics for headquarters US Air Force. The Senate must approve the nominations. —Brian Everstine
Mattis: Violence Doesn’t Mean Progress Has Slowed in Afghanistan
Dramatic, high-profile attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan do not lessen progress made in that country by the US, NATO, and Afghan forces, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said as he sought to assure lawmakers about the ongoing strategy in the nation’s longest war. “Progress and violence coexist in Afghanistan,” he told Senate appropriators. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
—President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued an executive order aimed at providing “significantly greater opportunity for military spouses to be considered for federal competitive service positions:” White House release.
—RAND Corp. released a research paper on Wednesday that looked at potential security implications of additive manufacturing in the 2040 timeframe: RAND.
—Yokota AB, Japan, completed an elephant walk and formation flight for the first time since receiving its full fleet of 14 C-130J Super Hercules: DOD release.
—Two C-130Js from the Active Duty 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, based at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, and its geographically separated Air Force Reserve sister unit, the 746th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, based at Al Udeid AB, Qatar, came together on May 4 to drop more than 30 container delivery system bundles to a Resolute Support Expeditionary Advisor Package in Afghanistan: DOD release.
—US Army Sgt. John Skipper was found guilty of three instances of destroying government property and of lying during an investigation. Skipper intentionally cut the parachute straps of three Humvees that were then dropped from a USAF C-130 in Germany in 2016. The incident was captured on video, which later went viral: Washington Post.
—An Afghan Air Force UH-60 Black Hawk crew conducted an operational mission in support of the Afghan provincial elections just one day after graduating from mission qualification training: 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Facebook post.
—US Transportation Command is conducting market research to identify commercial air carriers that could provide airborne casualty evacuation services to US Special Operations forces operating “primarily in Yemen:” Military Times.