Trump Raises “Constitutional Concerns” Over NDAA
President Trump has raised “constitutional concerns,” particularly relating to his authorities as President, in relation to the Fiscal 2019 defense authorization legislation he signed Monday. Some of the language he highlighted limits funds for retiring the JSTARS, reducing the ICBM stockpile, as well as reducing the number of troops deployed to South Korea. Trump said those, and other provisions, saying they “purport to restrict the President’s authority to control the personnel and materiel the President believes to be necessary or advisable for the successful conduct of military missions.” Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.
Administration Official Raises Concern Over Russian Space Launch
A top State Department official Wednesday raised concerns in Geneva over the unusual behavior of what Russia claims was an inspection satellite launched last year. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance Yleem D.S. Poblete made the remarks at the UN Conference on Disarmament as the Trump administration is making its push to set up a Space Force as a new military service. Poblete said Russia in October deployed what that country called a “space apparatus inspector,” but its behavior, she said, “was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities.” She said the US is concerned with “what appears to be very abnormal behavior” by what is being described as an apparatus inspector. “We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it. But Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development,” she said. —Steve Hirsch
US Airstrikes, Special Operations Push Back Taliban Incursion into Afghan City
Coalition: Tensions, Tariffs, and F-35 Delay Not Impacting Joint Operations With Turkey
High-level tensions between the US and Turkey have grown into a war of words between leaders of the two countries. The newly signed defense authorization bill puts delivery of F-35s to Ankara on hold, but on the local level troops from both nations are working closely. A spokesman for the US-led Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said Tuesday the coalition still relies on operations at Incirlik AB, Turkey, and that coordinated patrols are routine now in Manbij, Syria. There is now training between the coalition and Turkey to operate jointly, instead of just coordinating independent operations, said UK Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, the deputy commander of strategy and support for the coalition. There’s “no change in our relationship with our Turkish allies,” he said. “Turkey is a very important member of the global coalition.” The Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law Monday by President Trump, blocks delivery of F-35s to Turkey until the Pentagon completes a report on the impact of Turkish behavior. Trump tweeted last week that, “Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” In response Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a Monday speech the US is “stabbing Turkey in the back” with sanctions. —Brian Everstine
Coalition, UN Estimates: ISIS Presence Remains High in Syria, Iraq Holdouts
Despite months of ongoing efforts to “roundup” the final ISIS fighters in the middle Eastern Euphrates River Valley, the US-led coalition’s estimate of remaining fighters has stayed steady and lingering insurgents still pose a threat. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve estimates there about 1,000 remaining ISIS fighters in the area, a number that is about the same as when Operation Roundup began in March. Steady US-led airstrikes and ongoing joint coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces operations have targeted the group in areas such as Abu Kamal. A recent US Central Command listing of airstrikes in the area shows coalition forces destroying dozens of ISIS vehicles, weapons caches, and tactical units in the area. More broadly, ISIS fighters remain in other parts of Syria and Iraq, and coalition airstrikes have targeted the group in areas such as Sharqat and Bashir in Iraq. The United Nations, in a report released Monday, estimates that between 20,000 and 30,000 ISIS fighters are “roughly equally distributed” between Iraq and Syria, but UK Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, a deputy commander for the coalition, said that estimate seems high, though he acknowledged the threat remains. “We do know that ISIS continues to be a threat post liberation, and that is why we need to maintain our focus on ensuring the security within Iraq and Syria,” Gedney said. —Brian Everstine
Lockheed Martin Captures Yet Another Hypersonic Missile Contract
The Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin yet another hypersonic missile contract; this latest one, awarded Monday and worth $480 million, is for the AGM-183 Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW. The work will go to Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control Division, which also makes the JASSM stealth missile. Lockheed’s Space Division got a $928 million contract to work on the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon in June. The Air Force said the weapons are of different sizes, have different flight profiles, and have different-sized payloads to provide flexible and “complementary” combat options. The ARRW is of the “boost-glide” type, meaning it’s launched from an aircraft and boosted to hypersonic speed by a rocket booster. The air vehicle then separates and coasts to the target at hypersonic speed. “Hypersonic” refers to air vehicles that move at Mach 5 or faster. The Air Force said the ARRW contract uses rapid prototyping acquisition methods authorized by Section 804 of the defense authorization bill. A combat capability in 2021 is the goal of the program. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.
US, African Airmen Complete Security Cooperation Program at Ramstein
—1st Lt. Daniel Ruth, part of the 37th Bomb Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., was discovered dead in his home in Rapid City Aug. 9 in what the sheriff’s department said appeared to be a self-inflicted death: Capital Journal.
—Army SSgt. Reymund Rarogal Transfiguracion, 36, form Waikoloa, Hawaii, died Aug. 12 after an improvised explosive device exploded during a combat patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Transfiguracion was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at JB Lewis-McChord, Wash.: DOD release.
—Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, has convened a formal board to investigate a chaotic response to a reported active shooter scenario at the base hospital on Aug. 2. During the search, a security forces airman shot a locked door. The report turned out to be in error: The Associated Press.
—The Military Religious Freedom Foundation this week sent a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asking him to investigate USAF Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert, installation commander at Edwards AFB, Calif., for alleged religious proselytizing: Los Angeles Times.
—The Air Force on Tuesday donated a Special Mission Installation and Response surveillance system on a C-130 to the Philippine Air Force: ABS-CBN.