“Deploy or Get Out” Will Impact About 1,600 Airmen
DOD’s so-called “deploy or get out” policy is expected to affect about 1,600 Active Duty airmen who’ve been non-deployable for at least a year straight, and service says it’s still firming up details what its review process and impact on airmen will be. “Until the updated guidance is complete in late 2018,” these airmen’s cases will be handled according to “existing procedures,” the Air Force said in a Wednesday release. Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel, and services, said the final product will let the Air Force determine whether these airmen’s “continued service is compatible with and can meet the requirements the nation expects of us as an Air Force.” He added that some airmen’s contributions may check these boxes, even if they can’t deploy. “It’s important to understand this is not an automatic separation policy,” Kelly said in the release. When the guidance comes out, the release said, each affected airma?n will be evaluated “for a retention determination, referral to the Disability Evaluation System, or initiation of administrative separation” on a case-by-case basis, it said. The policy was issued in response to a charge from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to pinpoint which “military personnel policies” could be changed to increase force readiness and lethality, according to a Feb. 14 memo from then-Undersecretary of Defense Robert Wilkie. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory
Multi-Department Study Finds Some of Defense Industrial Base is Fragile
The White House issued a report Thursday which sounded familiar themes about the health and resilience of the defense industrial base, raising alarms over the shrinkage of lower-tier suppliers, the extensive use of sourcing from other countries, and the threat to secrets posed by hacking and industrial espionage, especially from China. The report laid out a host of identified supply base problems and recommendations, including the development of a new industrial base policy, and hinted at others in a classified annex. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
CENTCOM: S-300 Deployment in Syria Not Driving a Change in Operations
The deployment of advanced Russia surface-to-air missiles to Syria is a “reckless” move that, while it increases tensions in the area, will not impact the US ability to fly and operate in the region, the top US officer in the region said Thursday. US Central Command has USAF F-22s, along with a contingent of US Marine Corps F-35s in the area, and the command’s boss said Thursday he is confident the US will continue to pursue its mission unabated. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Fifth Gen Fighters Can Now Fly Faster as They Deploy to Save Fuel
The Air Force’s stealth fighters have been approved to fly faster during deployment missions in a development that will both reduce the time of the mission and the amount of fuel required. Air Force Operational Energy recently approved that F-22s and F-35s during Coronet missions, deployments over long distances during which the aircraft do not land, can fly closer to their maximum range airspeed while still within tanker boom limits. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
US Service Member Killed in Afghanistan
A US service member was killed Thursday in Afghanistan during what the top US officer in the Middle East said was a “combat action” against an unidentified group. Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, said the unidentified service member was killed in what “initial reports” said was a combat action in an undisclosed area, and the investigation is ongoing. It isn’t clear if the fight was against ISIS or the Taliban, he said. “Our thoughts go out to this soldier’s family and to the unit he came from,” Votel said during a Thursday briefing. The soldier is the seventh US service member to be killed this year in a war that has seen an increase in the number of Afghan casualties. US forces are working alongside Afghan leaders to determine ways to reduce the number of casualties, including reducing the dependence on remote “poorly defended” checkpoints throughout the country. —Brian Everstine
US Forces Applying “Constant Pressure” on Al Qaeda in Yemen
US forces, both on the ground and in the air, need to continue pressure on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters inside Yemen to avoid the group from proliferating further, and elements on the ground will continue their presence for the foreseeable future to this end, the head of US Central Command said Thursday. Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of CENTCOM, said Thursday that the continued mission has “had a significant impact on their ability to plan and conduct external operations.” These operations require “constant pressure” working with Arab partner, with US special operations on the ground, and with US airstrikes. The most recent CENTCOM tally of counterterrorism airstrikes, released at the end of August, states that there had been a total of 35 airstrikes targeting AQAP inside Yemen. Votel said Thursday that he would not talk about the specifics of the US presence inside the country, but that there are “elements on the ground that support our ongoing missions here for counterterrorism.” —Brian Everstine
Airmen Working with Montenegro to Increase Cyber Defense Capabilities
Airmen with the US Cyber Command have been working with Montenegrin government cyber specialists in recent weeks to build cyber defense capabilities, the Air Force said Thursday. The airmen’s work, undertaken in cooperation with the US European Command, has been aimed at increasing interoperability and partner capacity and deterring “malign influence on the democratic processes of our allies, partners and the US,” the Air Force said. “We are confident that through cooperation with the United States we can achieve optimal capacities for cyber defense, and therefore, contribute to the protection of both national cyber space and within the Alliance,” a Montenegrin Defense Ministry spokesperson said. The country is the most recent addition to NATO, joining the organization in June. —Steve Hirsch
Air Force Establishes New Partnership with Paraguay’s Air Force
The Air Force has established a new relationship with the Paraguayan air force as the 571st Mobility Support Advisory Squadron completed a mobile training team mission with the Paraguayan service from Sept. 17 to 28, the Air Force said Thursday. During the mission, US advisors focused on rotary wing aircraft water survival and twin tension rope rescue techniques. The mission was conducted at four locations throughout the country. —Steve Hirsch
—The Air Force is standing up the first two operational support squadrons for the Tactical Air Control Party community — the 803rd Operation Support Squadron at Fort Hood, Texas, and the 818th Operation Support Squadron at Fort Bragg, N.C.: Fort Hood Sentinel.
—A. Finkl & Sons Co., a Chicago-based contractor, is protesting the Air Force’s decision to scrap a contract for bunker buster bombs. The Air Force canceled the contract because the company is foreign-owned with reported ties to a US-sanctioned Russian oligarch: Bloomberg Government.
—The FBI on Wednesday arrested a former sailor in Utah for sending letters containing a suspicious substance to the Pentagon and the White House: Task & Purpose.
—The Navy is reportedly planning a major show of force in the Pacific to warn China after a Chinese destroyer came within 45 yards of a US ship near Chinese-claimed islands on Sunday: CNN.
—The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center processed thousands of travel claims and expedited approval for hundreds of time cards for service civilians who were impacted by Hurricane Florence on the East Coast: AFIMSC release.