Continuing Resolution May Delay Standup of Holloman F-16 Squadrons
A continuing resolution to fund the federal government will produce losses in readiness, canceled or reduced training, and delays in new starts and military construction, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said in a letter to congressional leaders. Writing on Sept. 8, the same day that President Donald Trump signed a three-month CR into law, Mattis warned the measure “drastically reduces the ability to respond to urgent requirements or to address funding gaps that damage readiness.” Sixteen major Air Force construction projects will be impacted, Mattis said, as well as F-15C and F-16 upgrade programs and work on the Joint Space Operations Center mission system. The service also may not have necessary funds to stand up two F-16 training squadrons. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
Building a Space Commons
In the near future, space will become a “domain for common human endeavor,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Tuesday. Led by a dramatic “decline in the cost of launch” and the “miniaturization of technology” seen in systems like cube satellites, space is opening up so that “more players can do more things from space,” Wilson said. This newly broadened domain will provide opportunity for collaboration between nations, and between governments and industries, but it will also require the kind of vigilance and defense that USAF provides. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
3,500 More Troops Headed to Afghanistan
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has signed orders to deploy 3,500 more US service members to support war efforts in Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported Monday. The new troops will not all come from a single unit, but will be drawn from across the services according to the particular needs of commanders on the ground. The increase will mark the first additional deployments to that country since President Donald Trump announced a new strategy of “enduring victory” there in an August prime time address to the nation. In that speech, Trump said the new direction in Afghanistan would require more troops, but he did not say how many. Also last month, the Department of Defense changed the way it reports the number of deployed troops in Afghanistan, raising the disclosed total already in country from 8,400 to 11,000. With the new deployments, the number of US service members in Afghanistan will be 14,500.
Spotlight: SSgt. Kacper I. Sovinski
SSgt. Kacper I. Sovinski, a sensors research and development analyst with the Geospatial Intelligence Analysis Squadron at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, is one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2017. Sovinski led a four-member team across five programs to develop the Air Force’s first laser sensor data analysis training program. A senior airman at the time, he executed a two-week study and calibration test to maximize the capabilities of an airborne asset. His technical expertise enabled him to rapidly deploy for Operation Inherent Resolve, performing spectral sensor maintenance and upgrades vital to combatants’ daily operations. He led 63 airmen across 22 community outreach, fundraising, and professional development events, enriching the military perspective of 228 airmen and improving the quality of life for 55 veterans in hospice care. He received the John L. Levitow award while attending Airman Leadership School. Air Force Magazine is shining the spotlight on each OAY in the days leading up to AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, which starts Sept. 18 in National Harbor, Md.
Reservists Tackle Hurricanes, Fire, and Spray Missions at Once
Because of two powerful hurricanes and a series of wildfires, the Air Force Reserve is simultaneously carrying out all three of its special mission operations for the first time in its 70-year history. Air Force Reserve Command owns all of the Department of Defense’s weather reconnaissance and aerial spray capabilities, as well as 25 percent of its modular firefighting units, according to a press release. Reservists from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler AFB, Mo., have been flying into hurricanes to provide crucial data for the National Hurricane Center since Aug. 17. At one point, the “Hurricane Hunters” were flying into three storms simultaneously for the first time in seven years. At the same time, Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System crews of the 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson AFB, Colo., are contributing to the fight against multiple wildfires across the western US. And, the 910th Airlift Wing, from Youngstown ARS, Ohio, is bringing its aerial spray capabilities to Hurricane Harvey-affected eastern Texas to control mosquito populations, eliminate invasive vegetation, and disperse oil spills in large bodies of water.
Paul Delays NDAA Debate Over AUMF Amendment
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sat on the floor of the Senate Monday night, refusing to allow the body to begin consideration of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. He was protesting the Senate’s unwillingness to consider his amendment calling for a repeal of the current authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) in Afghanistan and Iraq. “I will object to all procedural motions and amendments,” Paul tweeted, “unless and until my amendment is made in order and we vote on these wars.” Lawmakers from both side of the aisle have recently supported a new AUMF to demonstrate the power of Congress to authorize wars, while Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has said a new AUMF would be helpful but is not legally necessary to continue ongoing operations. Paul tweeted that his procedural blockade was undertaken in order “to protest the thousands of American soldiers who have died over the past decade in these wars.” In the end, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) returned to the Senate floor and agreed to devote four hours of floor debate, under Paul’s control, to the AUMF amendment. That debate was set to begin on Tuesday.
—SrA. Lauren Durham and SrA. Michael Davis, both medical technicians assigned to the Florida Air National Guard’s 125th Fighter Wing Medical Det. 1, got married at the staging area at the Orange County Convention Center and then volunteered to spend their wedding night helping with Hurricane Irma recovery efforts: DOD release.
—A senior at the Air Force Academy has been charged with abusive sexual conduct, possessing child pornography, and taking cell phone pictures of civilians without their permission. His military trial starts Tuesday: Military.com, via the Associated Press.
—The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to impose additional sanctions on North Korea for its increasingly ambitious nuclear and ballistic missile testing, and called for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks with China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Russia, and the United States: UN release.
—Raytheon announced it will manufacture the projector for BAE Systems’ Digital Light Engine head-up display for the F-22 Raptor: Company release.