Daily Report

July 22, 2019

Building a Better Space Training Pipeline

Air Force Space Command is launching four new tracks for space operators as part of a broader training overhaul, a senior command official announced July 19. Orbital warfare, space electronic warfare, space battle management, and space access and sustainment are the four focus areas, dubbed “space warfighter follow-ons,” Brig. Gen. DeAnna Burt, AFSPC’s operations and communications director, said at an AFA Mitchell Institute breakfast in Washington, D.C. “The first three are probably going to be our bread and butter and the heart of what we do,” she said. “Space access and sustainment is really our Air Force satellite control network and launch, and some [command and control]. That’s probably going to be a second-tier assignment, or kind of a place you would go to do extra.” Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

US Reconnaissance Aircraft “Aggressively Shadowed” by Venezuelan SU-30 over Caribbean

A US Navy EP-3 Aries II and its crew were endangered July 19 when the signals intelligence reconnaissance aircraft was “aggressively shadowed” at an “unsafe distance” by a Venezuelan SU-30 Flanker in international airspace over the Caribbean Sea, US Southern Command said July 21. The command condemned the move, saying it shows Russia is providing military support to embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government, whose administration US government officials publicly opposed in April. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

INDOPACOM Boss: China Close to Surpassing Command Capacity

China’s military capacity will surpass that of US Indo-Pacific Command within the next few years unless American policy changes significantly, the top US official in the region said. INDOPACOM boss Adm. Phil Davidson, speaking July 19 at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, said China’s “explosive growth” in the air, land, and maritime domains, along with its increased capability in space and cyber, has changed the dynamic of the region. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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House NDAA Explores More Deployments, Military Assistance for Baltic Countries

The House-passed fiscal 2020 defense policy bill calls on the Pentagon to explore providing more air and missile defense systems, surveillance capability, and US personnel to three Baltic states in response to Russian aggression. The bill, approved 220-197 in a July 12 party-line vote, includes a provision that calls on the Pentagon to assess how the US can collaborate more closely with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia and learn what those countries need. Defense officials should consider possible activities to “increase the rotational and forward presence” of US forces, improve air defenses, and increase intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, among others. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Minot Bombers Rotate in the Pacific

B-52s from one Minot AFB, N.D., bomb squadron recently replaced Stratofortresses from another in the Pacific. Bombers with the 5th Bomb Wing’s 69th Bomb Squadron deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam, on July 12 to replace the wing’s 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron for the Air Force’s continuous bomber presence mission, according to Pacific Air Forces. The 23rd deployed to Guam in January and flew several exercises throughout the region. The Air Force has kept a continuous presence of long-range bombers at Andersen since 2004. —Brian Everstine

AETC Launches Project NEXUS to Train Tech-Savvy Airmen

Air Education and Training Command on July 9 launched a test initiative to spread greater technological knowledge throughout Air Force squadrons, according to a USAF release. The five-month “Project NEXUS” at AFWERX in Austin, Texas, will bring in 18 airmen from diverse career fields and backgrounds to dig into data science, software development, or app design, the release said. As part of the boot camp-style training like that offered in commercial industry, three groups of six airmen will complete capstone projects that tackle data science or software-development problems that AETC currently faces, according to Lt. Col. Eric Frahm, director of the command’s Technology Integration Detachment. “After the 120-day training at Project NEXUS, participants will return to their home units armed with the skills to more effectively solve their career field’s operational problems,” Capt. Kyle Palko, the program’s manager, added. “If the Project NEXUS prototype ends up delivering outsized output and capable personnel and can scale cost effectively, then we could look at scaling up Air Force-wide. If not, it would still be a success because we’ll take lessons learned and roll them into other Air Force initiatives.” Project NEXUS runs through November and mirrors other Air Force efforts to build software knowledge across the service. ––Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

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The article “US Downs Iranian Drone as DOD Preps Deployments to Saudi Arabia” that ran online July 18 and in the July 19 Daily Report misstated the circumstances that brought down an unmanned aerial system in the Strait of Hormuz. The drone, identified by the White House as Iranian, was electronically jammed. We have corrected the original story.



Trump: Administration to Review Pentagon Computer Contract

President Donald Trump said July 18 that the administration will “take a very long look” at a massive multibillion-dollar contract the Pentagon is preparing to award for a cloud computing system, citing “tremendous complaints” he’s heard about the process. Associated Press

Goldfein Stresses Promise of Multi-Domain Operations, Calls It “The Single Most Critical” Tool for Winning Future High-End Fights

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein urged fellow air chiefs from 39 nations, July 18, to fully embrace, institute, and refine a warfighting approach that links air, sea, land, space, cyber, and information assets in a powerful system for identifying threats and defeating them. The complex effort, known as multi-domain operations or MDO, “will change the character of modern warfare” Goldfein said in a closely scrutinized keynote address at the Air and Space Power Conference 2019. USAF release

Here’s the New Marine Corps Weapon that Just Destroyed an Iranian Drone

A new Marine Corps anti-drone system that attaches to all-terrain vehicles and can scan the skies for enemy aircraft from aboard Navy ships was responsible for destroying an Iranian drone, Military.com has learned. Military.com

Alleged American ISIS Sniper Brought Home by the Defense Department to Face Federal Charges

An American citizen who allegedly served as a sniper for ISIS and became a leader for the terrorist group was expected to appear in federal court on July 19 after being returned to the United States by the Defense Department, officials said. Task and Purpose

US Expands Icelandic Airfield for Tankers, Big Cargo Lift

An old Cold War base in Iceland has seen over $80 million in US investments in recent years as the Pentagon flies more surveillance missions in the high north––and plans to do more. Breaking Defense

Battle for the Arctic: US Warns Russia “Is Way Ahead of Us” in Race to Control New Frontier

The US Coast Guard has warned that American is falling behind Russia in the race to dominate the Arctic, as warming global temperatures open up areas previously inaccessible due to ice. Speaking at the Aspen Security Conference, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said American leaders had serious concerns that they were lagging behind Russia in the world’s newest military frontier. Newsweek

UK Deepens Space Ties with US, Announces Investments in Small Satellites, Responsive Launch

The UK will invest $34 million in small satellites and will increase support for the Combined Space Operations Center. Space News

OPINION: How to Protect the Growing Internet of Battlefield Things

“It is imperative that the Pentagon implement a security framework that allows only authorized and properly secured devices to access defense networks,” Lexington Institute Senior Vice President Dan Goure writes. Fifth Domain

One More Thing

This Is What the Next Space Suit Will Look Like

The vintage Apollo moonwear is getting a major upgrade. Popular Mechanics