Senate Leaders Announce Two Year Budget Deal
Senate bipartisan leaders on Wednesday announced they had reached a two-year budget deal that would increase the funding for the Defense Department and avert the threat of a shutdown. The deal, set to be put up for a vote on Thursday, immediately received praise from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, but it would need support from House Democrats and fiscal conservatives. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
House Subcommittee Head Slams Air Force Over its Handling of Hypoxia Issues
The Air Force suspects maintenance might be to blame for hypoxia-like problems with its grounded T-6 trainer fleet, Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, USAF deputy chief of staff for operations, told legislators Tuesday during a sometimes heated House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee hearing. Read the full report by Steve Hirsch.
Pentagon Drawing Up Plans for a Military Parade at Trump’s Request
The Pentagon will send a list of options to the White House for a parade to reflect President Trump’s “fondness” for the military, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said. “We’re all aware in this country of the President’s affection and respect for the military,” Mattis said. “We have been putting together some options, we will send them up to the White House for decision.” The Washington Post reported that Trump asked military leaders during a Jan. 18 meeting at the Pentagon about a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, similar to the annual Bastille Day parade down Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris. Mattis, who appeared in the White House briefing room on Wednesday to deliver a statement on budget uncertainty and the inability to plan for long-term finances in the Pentagon, avoided questions on the feasibility and necessity of a parade when funding is tight, simply saying the planning is reflective of Trump’s affection for service members. The Air Force on Wednesday would not comment on its involvement in the planning, referring questions to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters it is too early to speculate on whether or how a parade should happen, just that “the President is simply exploring different ways to highlight” the military. Four Democratic senators on Wednesday sent a letter to Mattis asking for cost estimates for a parade, and whether it would impact military operations. A parade seems “inappropriate and wasteful,” states the letter, which was signed by Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Gary Peters (Mich.), and Jack Reed (R.I). —Brian Everstine
Afghan Operations Now CENTCOM’s Main Effort in the Middle East
Afghan Air Force aircraft are now flying 40 airstrikes per week, compared to USAF’s weekly total of 25. This is part of a growth of both Afghan and USAF airpower in what is now US Central Command’s main effort in the Middle East, said Maj. Gen. James Hecker, commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan and NATO Air Command–Afghanistan. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.
Airmen in the Pacific Face a “Fundamentally Changed” Pace in Theater
The near-term threat posed by North Korea is a top priority for Pacific Air Forces, as airmen in that area of operation have seen a “fundamentally changed” pace in theater, Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy said during a commander’s conference at JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The first full day of the conference focused on the threat posed by Kim Jong Un and North Korea. PACAF leadership discussed intelligence analysis and the growing complexity of the overall Indo-Asia-Pacific, according to a release. Other focus areas were support for PACAF airmen and theater-wide challenges to new operational concepts. “Our airmen are instrumental in all of this … in the most consequential region for our future, not just from a military perspective, but as a nation,” O’Shaughnessy said. —Brian Everstine
—Russian hackers known as “Fancy Bear” targeted at least 87 members of the US defense industrial base who work on military drones, missiles, rockets, stealth fighters, cloud-computing platforms, and other sensitive activities, according to an Associated Press investigation. It’s not clear exactly what information the hackers got: Military.com.
—Airmen with the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing recently deployed to Southwest Asia and Africa: 167th AW Release.
—Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan visited Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases in Colorado on Feb. 5 to discuss space operations with Defense Department and National Reconnaissance Office leaders: AFSPC release.
—President Donald Trump has nominated 27 USAF brigadier generals for promotion to major general: DOD release.