USAF Looking to Overhaul Officer Promotion System

The Air Force is looking to significantly overhaul its officer promotion system, breaking the massive line of the Air Force category, which currently includes about 87 percent of the officer corps, into six subcategories. “We’re looking at how do we develop people, giving them the experiences they need to be successful in different areas, so we have exceptional teams at every level,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on May 16. “Not everybody’s career is going to look like everybody else’s, and it doesn’t have to.” Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

Speeding Up Depot Maintenance

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson acknowledged there is some merit to a recent Government Accountability Office report that gave the service’s three depots an average rating of “poor,” but she said overall she’s “pleased” with the progress the service has made improving operations at the depots. The GAO based its rating largely on the age of equipment used to fix aircraft moving through the depots, which Wilson readily agreed is old. “We’re using old tooling, and we’re fixing old airplanes,” she told reporters in Washington, D.C., on May 16. However, during her tenure as Secretary, she said she’s had a chance to visit all three depots, and each has significantly changed the way they operate compared to how they operated 10 years ago. She called it the “art of the possible,” saying the focus is on compressing the time it takes to strip an aircraft down to its bones and then build it back up again. For example, if it normally takes 365 days to move 100 aircraft through depot maintenance, but the service can now shrink that down to 180 days, “you’ve effectively bought more aircraft because you don’t have aircraft sitting at the depot,” Wilson said. The acceleration started at Tinker AFB, Okla., but is now the standard at all three depots, she said. —Amy McCullough

Using Autonomous Drones to Rescue Downed Aircrew

The Air Force has asked industry to submit proposals for an autonomous drone that can rescue downed aircrew in remote or hostile environments. The aircraft would be flown remotely via secure data connections, similar to today’s remotely piloted aircraft, and should be capable of carrying between two to four people, including one in a liter, for 200 miles, according to a solicitation to industry. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

Cyber Experts Call for More Collaboration, Training

A new provision of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act clears the way for fully fledged joint operations in cyberspace involving both military personnel and those from civilian agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, officials said at the AFCEA TechNet Cyber event in Baltimore, Md., on May 16. Panelists also emphasized the need for more flexible training tools and the imperative to scale cyber training out from just the Cyber Mission Forces to the military as a whole. The cyber environment “will continuously change. It’s dynamic in terms of the technology, it’s dynamic in terms of the threat, and so too must our forces be dynamic to keep up,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Stanton, deputy director of current operations for US Cyber Command. Read the full story by Shaun Waterman.

Get Your V-22 Orders In Now, Boeing Says, Or Risk Missing Out

Boeing has advised its domestic and international customers that if they want to buy more V-22 tiltrotors, they need to state that requirement promptly, in order to take advantage of economical quantity production. US military services must get their orders in by the fall of next year, but international buyers would need to make their decisions this summer, in order to leave time for the cumbersome Foreign Military Sales process to play out. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.


US Officials Say New North Korean Missile Appears Aimed at Evading US Defenses

A newly tested North Korean short-range ballistic missile appears to be a copy of an advanced Russian design that could greatly improve Pyongyang’s ability to evade U.S. missile defense systems, according to US officials. Los Angeles Times

Can New Spoofing Tech Give US Aircraft a Shroud in the Clouds

The Air National Guard is set to test next-generation decoy technology that was originally designed and fielded in the United Kingdom to protect Royal Air Force aircraft against advanced radar-guided missiles. C4ISRNET

Female Veterans Want New Caucus and Clout in US Politics

Congresswomen who have served in the military are setting up a new caucus to support the nation’s growing ranks of female service members, and they’re looking for clout, too, in American politics. Associated Press via ABC News

Pentagon Asked for Funds to Reimburse Taliban Expenses: Report

Earlier this year, the Pentagon reportedly asked Congress for funding to reimburse the Taliban for transportation and other expenses the group incurs by attending peace negotiations. The Hill

One More Thing …

The Unmasking of Ned Stark and the Future of Air Force Leadership

An Air Force colonel used a pseudonym—”Ned Stark”—to write a call for desperately needed reforms to how the Air Force selects and promotes leaders. After the column went viral, others appeared in War on the Rocks and Air Force Times, and Stark even elicited a supportive response and job offer from USAF Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. He is now choosing to reveal his identity. War on the Rocks