AFCENT Adjusts Airstrike Reporting Policy as Authorities Changed in Afghanistan

US Air Forces Central Command has changed how it presents its tally of airstrikes in both operations Resolute Support in Afghanistan and Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria. The move is an attempt to more clearly present to the general public what is happening, according to AFCENT. The command every month releases “airpower summaries” detailing the pace of airstrikes in both the operations. The most recent tally, released last week, showed 469 weapons released as part of ongoing operations in Afghanistan, an increase of 91 from the previous month. The newest accounting specifies “manned & RPA (remotely piloted aircraft) strike assets” where AFCENT previously said just the number of weapons releases, along with specifically saying sorties are both close air support and deliberate strike instead of simply saying “strikes.” This change is made to clarify that aircraft in Afghanistan are conducting deliberate engagements in addition to close air support as part of the administration’s new South Asia strategy, which expanded authorities for airstrikes in the country. The recent total for the anti-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria shows 747 manned and RPA strikes in February, along with 2,939 sorties so far this year from manned strike aircraft. The “manned” clarification shows that these sorties are by “traditional strike aircraft”—F-15E, F-16, A-10, B-52, F-22—AFCENT spokeswoman Capt. Annmarie Annicelli said in a statement to Air Force Magazine. While MQ-9 Reapers are not tasked on the air tasking order to conduct deliberate strikes, they can be tasked to “strike a timely target.” Therefore the monthly totals include Reaper strikes, according to AFCENT. —Brian Everstine

DOD’s New Plan to Bar Transgender Troops Faces Legal Fights

The Trump administration’s plan to bar most transgender individuals from military service is already facing a series of legal challenges with the US Department of Justice saying it is ready to defend the Pentagon’s authority. The White House on Friday said it allowed Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to implement a new policy, finding “the accession or retention of individuals with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria—those who may require substantial medical treatment, including through medical drugs or surgery—presents a considerable risk to military effectiveness and lethality.” Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

43 House Democrats Raise Doubts About Trump Nuclear Posture Review

Forty-three House Democrats, including members of the Armed Services Committee, Monday wrote President Trump to express misgivings about the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review. The administration issued its review in February, outlining plans for a new era of US nuclear power, emphasizing the possibility of a nuclear response to a non-nuclear attack and announcing development of low-yield weapons that can provide more “flexibility” and the possibility of a more proportional nuclear response to a smaller-scale attack. In their letter, the House members expressed “deep concern” over the review, saying that if implemented, the policies would “likely increase tensions with Russia and other major world powers, while making our country less secure.” —Steve Hirsch

Raytheo?n Gets $523.1 Million AMRAAM Contract

Raytheon has received a $523.1 million Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile production contract, the Air Force announced Friday. The contract provides for production of AMRAAM Lot 32, including production of the AMRAAM missile and other AMRAAM system items. This contract is a modification of a December contract. Work under the new contract is to be completed by Jan. 31, 2021, and the contract involves foreign military sales to Japan, Kuwait, Poland, Indonesia, Qatar, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom. —Steve Hirsch

US Strikes al Qaeda in Southern Libya

The US effort supporting the Libyan government expanded Saturday as American aircraft struck al Qaeda targets in the south of the country. The strike, which reportedly killed two terrorists in the town of Ubari, was conducted in support of the Government of National Accord and was the first on al Qaeda in the country, US Africa Command said in a statement. The command assessed no civilians were killed in the strike, according to Reuters. Similar efforts in recent years have targeted ISIS inside Libya, and have largely been focused on its northern territory. “We are committed to maintaining pressure on the terror network and preventing terrorists from establishing safe haven,” AFRICOM said according to Reuters. —Brian Everstine

AFCENT: No Truth to Claims of Downsizing at Incirlik, Al Udeid

US Central Command and Air Forces Central Command have pushed back on reports that US forces are pulling out of two key bases in the Middle East. Claims that the US was moving away from Qatar and Turkey and into bases in Saudi Arabia appeared late last week, triggering the pushback. “There is zero credibility to news reports asserting the US is leaving Incirlik and Al Udeid air bases in Turkey and Qatar,” AFCENT said Sunday on Twitter. “These unhelpful reports feed mistrust and division among regional partners at a time when we need to work together to address shared security concerns.” Citing purported military sources, an Israeli intelligence site claimed Thursday the US was removing forces from the two bases. According to that report, the US would move them to Prince Sultan air base following last week’s White House visit by Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. It is the latest in a series of claims that the US is downsizing in Turkey, a base that was key to the US effort targeting ISIS in Syria. —Brian Everstine



—Russia’s “destabilizing activity” in Afghanistan includes smuggling weapons to the Taliban inside the country, the head of the US mission there said: BBC News.

—The FBI is investigating four suspicious packages sent to military bases in the Washington, D.C., area, including JB Anacostia-Bolling: CBS News.

—The Air Force is studying four bases in Arizona, Florida, Missouri, and Texas as possible locations for a new F-35 Reserve squadron. The candidates are Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.; Homestead AFB, Fla.; Whiteman AFB, Mo.; and NAS Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas: The Associated Press.

—More than 1,350 people in the Tucson, Ariz., area have filed formal claims to the Air Force claiming pollution from a nearby base has caused sickness, including cancer: The Associated Press.

—Airmen with the 352nd Special Operations Wing, along with Army Special Forces soldiers, recently concluded an arctic winter training course in the north of Sweden: Special Operations Command-Europe release.