Trump Unveils “America First” National Security Strategy
President Trump on Monday released his National Security Strategy, an “America first” approach that aims to spend more resources on the military, especially on the nuclear infrastructure, while strengthening the nation overall. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Air Commando Awarded Silver Star
Air Force Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Brad Webb presented the Silver Star—the nation’s third highest award for valor in combat—to CMSgt. Michael West on Friday. West, a special tactics operator with the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., was originally awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions in “two climactic battles” between Sept. 3-9, 2006, in Panjwai Village, Afghanistan, according to his Silver Star citation. However, his package was submitted for an upgrade as part of a Defense Department-wide review of medals earned in Afghanistan and Iraq. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
Hackers Infiltrate DOD, Winning Largest Bug Bounty Ever
Hackers utilized a vulnerability in an Air Force website to make their way into the larger Department of Defense unclassified network during a recent live-hacking event run by bug bounty organizer HackerOne. The maneuver, otherwise known as pivoting, demonstrated a flaw likely impossible to find without outside help, according to a Defense Media Activity official. “We wouldn’t have found this without you,” James Garrett, DMA’s web chief of operations told the hackers Dec. 9. The two hackers split a cash prize for their work. The event jump started Hack the Air Force 2.0, a 23-day call for hackers to find vulnerabilities in USAF networks and report them for the service. During the launch, seven USAF airmen and 25 civilians—comprising people from the US, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, and Latvia—hacked USAF networks for nine hours nonstop. They found 55 vulnerabilities, and USAF shelled out $26,883 in total in bounties. The more critical the report, the higher the bounty. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.
Mattis Warns Russia About Unsafe Flight in Syria
Russian aircraft have regularly exhibited “dangerous” behavior in the skies over Syria, after USAF F-22s were forced to fire flares to warn Su-25s operating in a restricted area, and that trend needs to change to ensure safe operations, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday. “I don’t expect perfection, but I don’t expect dangerous maneuvers either,” Mattis told reporters. “And so we’ll sort this out. But right now, I cannot tell you if it’s sloppy airmanship, or a rambunctious pilot, or people who are trying to do something that is very unwise.” On Dec. 13, two F-22s warned Russian Su-25s that were flying in a region of Syria that has been restricted to ensure safe operations by both US and Russian forces. During the 40-minute incident, an F-22 had to “aggressively maneuver” to avoid a collision, according to US Central Command. US and Russia still regularly use the deconfliction phone line, though Russian jets continue to violate the restricted airspace. “The deconfliction line is still up,” Mattis said. “It has never broken down, and it was working. But this lasted a while, and I don’t know if this was a mistake, if this is simply a lack of prior deconfliction, and so we were scrambling to deconflict it as it was happening. I don’t know if this was just some pilots dangerously feeling their oats.” —Brian Everstine
Longest-Serving “Rosie” Gets Her First Flight in a C-17 She Helped Make
Elinor Otto, the longest serving “Rosie the Riveter” from World War II who worked in the aerospace industry for 68 years, flew in a C-17 for the first time on Monday. Otto helped make every C-17 Boeing produced over her lengthy career, before retiring in 2014 at the age of 95. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Air Force Seeks Huge Increase in Foreign Military Sales in 2017
The Air Force’s share of international military sales increased dramatically in 2017, part of an overall US arms sale total of $41.93 billion this year. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency in late November announced the 2017 total—an increase of about $8.3 billion from 2016—proving the US is the “global provider of choice” for security cooperation. The Air Force alone accounted for $27 billion of that total, an increase of nearly 213 percent from 2016, Brig. Gen. Gregory Gutterman, the director of the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, told National Defense Magazine. The biggest sale of the year was of 36 F-15QAs to Qatar, which accounted for $12 billion. “Twenty-seven billion, that’s a great number,” Gutterman told National Defense. “If you look at the Fortune 500, McDonald’s sold $24 billion worth of hamburgers last year, and we brought in $27 billion worth of military revenue.” —Brian Everstine
Academy to Overhaul Its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office
The Air Force Academy announced changes to its sexual assault office following an investigation that found poor management and a series of high-profile reports of ongoing problems. Academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria said he will require better qualifications for staff and put more focus on assault prevention, according to The Associated Press. An academy report found the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office had ongoing issues of infighting, rumors, and poor record keeping. The report prompted the resignation of the office’s director. Earlier this month, CBS News released an investigation into how the academy handled sexual assault investigations after more than a dozen current and former cadets said they experienced humiliation after filing complaints. —Brian Everstine
Lockheed Meets 2017 F-35 Delivery Goal
Lockheed Martin on Dec. 15 delivered the 66th F-35 for 2017, meeting a government delivery target that included 31 F-35A strike fighters for the US Air Force, the company announced. The total is a more than 40 percent increase from 2016, and Lockheed projects the program will increase production year-over-year to 160 deliveries by 2023. To date, 265 F-35s have been delivered. Going forward, “nothing major” will prevent the F-35 program from finishing its basic development with resources ready to finish flight testing, F-35 Joint Program Office Director Vice Adm. Mathias Winter told Air Force Magazine in September.
—RAF Mildenhall, England, was briefly on lockdown Monday afternoon local time after a man attempted to force his way through a checkpoint. US service members “fired shots” and the suspect was apprehended with “cuts and bruises.” No other injuries were report: Huffington Post, UK edition.
—Eight al-Shabaab militants were killed and one vehicle destroyed in a Dec. 15 air strike conducted by US Forces in Somalia: AFRICOM release.
—The US military’s cyber offensive against ISIS has “provided devastating effects on the adversary,” said Army Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of US Special Operations Command: Washington Post.
—A military investigation found that Army Sgt. La David Johnson was not captured alive or killed at close range in Niger, rather the soldier continued to fight after militants killed his three comrades: Associated Press report.
—Air Force Global Strike Command is updating its museums and heritage centers in an effort to better connect airmen and their families to the command’s mission: AFGSC release.