Vietnam Veteran Awarded Medal of Honor
President Trump awarded former Spc. 5 James McCloughan the Medal of Honor—the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat—during a White House ceremony on Monday. From May 13-15, 1969, McCloughan, a combat medic with the Army’s Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, repeatedly risked his own life to save his fellow soldiers during a 48-hour battle in the areas of Tam K? and Nui Yon Hill in Vietnam. He is credited with save 10 soldiers, five of whom attended Monday’s ceremony, and tending to many more. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.
White House Reportedly Reconsidering Troop Increase in Afghanistan
President Trump’s reluctance to surge the troop levels reportedly has the administration considering the possibility of withdrawing from the country instead of bolstering its support—a move that has prompted Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to devise his own plan for the way forward in Afghanistan. The Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous current US officials, that the administration has not been able to agree on a plan to send up to 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan to counter Taliban momentum and continue to fight ISIS-Khorasan. The White House is now looking at what would happen if the US decided to draw down further, the Journal reported. The White House earlier this summer gave Defense Secretary James Mattis the ability to set troop levels in the country, but reportedly limited the possible increase to 3,900. McCain, who serves as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Monday that after more than six months since Trump’s inauguration there is still no strategy. He pledged to offer an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act in September that is “based on the advice of some [of] our best military leaders that will provide a strategy for success in achieving America’s national interests in Afghanistan.” The administration’s decision is expected this summer, and would follow a government-wide Middle East strategy. At the same time, NATO countries have pledged to increase their troop commitment in the country. —Brian Everstine
New Joint Component will Bring Integrated Space Power to the Fight
As chief of US Strategic Command’s elevated joint space component, Gen. Jay Raymond will be better positioned to integrate space power across acquisitions, testing and evaluation, and operational functions. In the face of congressional critics who say the service is simply too slow when it comes to space, the service is hoping the new authorities for its top space commander will help streamline the National Security Space enterprise. Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.
Senator’s Demand for New AUMF Delays NDAA
Senate consideration of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act has been delayed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who wants to ensure debate for two amendments related to detention and the authorization for use of military force (AUMF). Paul alone refused the unanimous approval necessary to bring the bill to the floor Friday because he “requested two bipartisan amendments, one on ending indefinite detention and one on AUMFs,” a spokesperson from Paul’s office said Friday, according to Roll Call. During floor debate the previous day, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had asked the Senate to take up the bill on Friday. “We can get it done in a few hours,” McCain told his colleagues. The Senate Armed Service Committee, which McCain chairs, voted unanimously at the end of June to move the bill to the full Senate, which may not take it up until September. “For 55 years in a row, Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act,” McCain said Friday in a press release. “The highest responsibility of every member of Congress is to do what they think is right for the nation. It is unfortunate that one senator chose to block consideration of a bill our nation needs right now.”
SIGAR Blasts Pentagon Spending on Afghan Intelligence Training Programs
The Pentagon cannot accurately gauge the effectiveness of $457.7 million for programs focused on building up the Afghan National Defense Security Forces, and there has been no indication of any improvement in the program’s stated goals, a new review by the Defense Department’s watchdog found. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, in a report released Monday, found that the $457.7 million spent on Legacy Afghanistan Research and Development and the Afghanistan Source Operations Management training and mentoring program had a lack of performance metrics and a reliance on contractor-provided data, noting “it is impossible to gauge the government’s return on investment for the $457.7 million spent.” An analysis of both the programs also found they didn’t achieve their objectives, according to SIGAR. The programs focused on training intelligence soldiers for the Afghan National Army and the Ministry of Interior. The SIGAR report was the second by the agency in as many months blasting Pentagon spending, following an assessment that the government wasted $28 million on woodlands camouflage uniforms for the ANA. That assessment has sparked a criminal investigation. (Read the full report. PDF warning) —Brian Everstine
Service members render full honors for retired Col. Freeman “Bruce” Olmstead’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., July 27, 2017. Olmstead, an Air Force veteran and prisoner of war survivor, passed away Oct. 14, 2016. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya.
Retired Colonel, Cold War POW, Buried at Arlington
Retired Col. Freeman “Bruce” Olmstead, a former Air Force reconnaissance pilot who survived 100 days as a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union, was buried with honors July 27, 2017, at Arlington National Cemetery. Olmstead, 81, died at his home on Oct. 14, 2016. In 1960, as a captain, Olmstead was a copilot on an RB-47 Stratojet of the 343rd Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron when he was shot down by a MiG-19 over international waters near the Soviet Union. Of the jet’s six-man crew, Olmstead and Capt. John McKone were able to eject and survive. They were picked up by a Soviet fishing vessel and were later charged with espionage. The two airmen were kept for 100 days in the Lubyanka prison, where they faced constant interrogations and sleep deprivation, according to an Air Force release. In January 1961, the two airmen were released and were greeted by President John F. Kennedy upon their return home. Olmstead received the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Purple Heart. —Brian Everstine
—Lockheed Martin was awarded a $3.69 billion contract modification for low-rate initial production of Lot 11 F-35 strike fighters. The contract modification covers 50 aircraft for non-Department of Defense participants and foreign military sales customers, including one F-35B for the United Kingdom, one F-35A for Italy, eight F-35As for Australia, eight F-35As for the Netherlands, four F-35As for Turkey, six F-35As for Norway, and 22 F-35As for FMS customers. This is the second contract modification for Lot 11: DOD contract announcement.
—The Air Force Research Laboratory and the Baltimore US Air Force Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness Skills recently observed a combat search and rescue mission at Moody AFB, Ga., in an effort to improve trauma care in combat: USAF release.