B-2 Flies 37-Hour Deterrence Mission to the Pacific
The B-2 “Spirit of Missouri” flew a 37-hour mission from Whiteman AFB, Mo., to the Pacific and back in a deterrence mission that is short on specifics. US Strategic Command said the bomber took off from Whiteman the night of Oct. 28, landed for a crew change at Andersen AFB, Guam, and returned to Missouri. The flight took place as senior Pentagon leaders were meeting with South Korean officials on ways to deter North Korean aggression. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and watch video of the B-2 preparing to take off.
CMSAF Floats Indefinite Enlistment, Other Changes Aimed at Retention
The Air Force is considering doing away with the necessity for its enlisted members to recommit every four years, CMSAF Kaleth Wright told an audience of airmen at an air mobility symposium in Orlando, Fla., on Oct. 27. The change is in the exploratory stages, according to a press release, and is one of a number of initiatives Wright is pushing in an effort to address problems with retention. “My question to you is ‘how do we keep them?,’” Wright said, according to the release. “How do we keep them motivated? How do we keep them encouraged? How do we keep them inspired?” Wright said removing the reenlistment requirement for long-term airmen could make a difference. “I think we’d like to get to once you hit your 15-year mark, then you’re an indefinite enlistment,” he said, “You’re good until your high year of tenure.” Wright also spoke of the Air Force’s drive to reduce additional duties in the squadrons and said the service is close to a move that would reduce how long it takes to submit an awards package and would change the criteria for awards to better address mission focus.
DOD Has Spent $1.4 Trillion on War Since Sept. 11, 2001
As of June 30, the Department of Defense had obligated $1.46 trillion for war-related costs since Sept. 11, 2001, according to a new DOD report. Spending on prior missions, like Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, makes up about 90 percent of that cost, but the report says the department is currently spending $3.6 billion per month for ongoing operations. The US is spending 91 percent of that amount, or $3.2 billion monthly, on its counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan. US operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria are costing the US about $600 million per month. Of the $32 billion the DOD spent on war during fiscal year 2017, the Air Force accounted for about $7.5 billion of that spending. Most of that amount ($6.5 billion) went toward operation and maintenance costs for the service. In FY17, the DOD spent $15 billion on Army war costs and $5.6 billion on Navy war costs, including the Marine Corps. The total FY17 DOD spending on war-related costs was $10 billion less than in FY16 and continued a seven-year decline from FY10, when the Department spent $150 billion for ongoing operations. —Wilson Brissett
US Soldier Killed When Helicopter Crashes in Afghanistan
Chief Warrant Officer Jacob M. Sims, 36, of Juneau, Alaska, died on Oct. 27 in Logar province, Afghanistan, from injuries received when his helicopter crashed. Sims was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash., and was deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the US counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan. The crash, which injured six other US service members, was “not the result of enemy action,” according to a US Central Command press release. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our comrade,” said Gen. John Nicholson, commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, in the release. “On behalf of all of Resolute Support, our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of our fallen comrade and those injured in this unfortunate event.” Operation Resolute Support, the NATO-led train, advise, and assist mission in Afghanistan, is investigating the cause of the crash. —Wilson Brissett
D.C. Court Rules Against Ban on Transgender Military Service
The United States District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday issued a temporary injunction against portions of President Donald Trump’s memorandum directing the Department of Defense to ban transgender members from serving in the US military. Under the injunction, the DOD must revert to its previous retention and accession policy, which protects the status of transgender people already serving in the military but is undecided on whether to allow new transgender accessions. The court did not rule on the Trump memorandum’s refusal to continue paying for medical care related to gender transition. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
DOD to Congress: New AUMF is a Nice to Have, Don’t Repeal Old one
While the Pentagon would welcome a new authorization on the use of military force as a statement of support for continued military operations focused on defeating terrorism, that support comes with caveats. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Monday evening, said any new authorization must not limit military efforts, either by time or geography, and the current authorization should not be repealed. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Northrop Grumman Demonstrates GPS-Denied Navigation System
In recent tests performed by the Air Force and the Navy, Northrop Grumman’s All Source Adaptive Fusion software successfully demonstrated its ability to navigate aircraft to specific locations without the use of GPS data. Relying on high-speed algorithms and hardware, ASAF provides accurate navigation based on data from “radar, electro-optical/infrared, light detection and ranging, star tracker, magnetometer, altimeter, and other signals of opportunity,” according to a company press release. In one test, conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratory and a team from Eglin AFB, Fla., a remotely piloted aircraft used ASAF to navigate to a specific land-based location at the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera Test Range in Australia. In another test, a Bell-407 helicopter equipped with ASAF and infrared sensors successfully tracked a US Naval Academy YP-700 ship operating in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Md. The Department of Defense has been working for a number of years to improve alternate navigation systems to prepare for the possibility of air operations in a GPS-denied environment.
AMC Studying Automation for its Aerial Ports of the Future
Air Mobility Command is looking at the possibility of robotics and automation to build military aerial ports that operate like cutting-edge Amazon warehouses, possibly automatically building pallets ready to go for specific aircraft with less human input. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
—Northrop Grumman’s quality control practices have once again come into question after the US Army issued a delinquency notice to the company in June for an antimissile system, citing “poor contract performance related to initial supply and quality concerns.” The Air Force had previously found that a Northrop maintenance error had caused $7.35 million to the E-8 JSTARS: Bloomberg.
—The United States has pledged up to $60 million to support the counterterrorism efforts of the Group of Five Sahel Joint Force, the Department of State announced Monday. The G5 Sahel Joint Force was formed in 2014 to improve security in the Sahel region of Africa, and is supported by the militaries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger: State Department release.