First Living Iraq War Vet Awarded Medal of Honor

President Donald Trump on June 25 presented the Medal of Honor to David Bellavia, a former Army staff sergeant who is the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the military’s highest award for valor in combat. Bellavia, 43, ensured his fellow soldiers could escape from a building where insurgents lay in wait during the battle to liberate Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004—his 29th birthday. “For three days straight, David and his men kicked down doors, searched houses, and destroyed enemy weapons, never knowing where they would find a terrorist lurking next,” Trump said in a White House ceremony. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Tournear Tapped as Acting SDA Director

Derek Tournear, the Pentagon’s assistant director for space within the department’s research and engineering branch, became acting director of the Space Development Agency on June 24, less than a week after the agency’s founding director, Fred Kennedy, left the post. Tournear, who will continue to serve as both the acting head of SDA and in his current role, takes the helm as SDA begins to pursue a network of hundreds of satellites and payloads in low Earth orbit for communications, missile defense, and other national security missions. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Deasy Faces Senate Confirmation as IT Portfolio Progresses

Pentagon Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy will come under congressional scrutiny to stay in the same role, thanks to legislative language in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that turned his job into a presidentially chosen, Senate-confirmed post at the start of 2019. President Donald Trump formally nominated Deasy on June 25. The CIO found out the announcement was posted during a Defense Writers Group breakfast that morning, but said there isn’t anything notable about the timing. The legislative change reflects Congress’s recognition of technology’s growing importance to the military, he argued. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

United Kingdom F-35s Make Operational Debut Flying Patrols in Syria, Iraq

The United Kingdom is now the fourth operator of the jet to fly operational missions, the country’s Ministry of Defense said June 25. On June 16, UK F-35s flew alongside the country’s Eurofighter Typhoons on operational flights into Syria and Iraq as part of the ongoing mission against ISIS, though the aircraft did not conduct strikes. The mission was conducted out of RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, the MOD announced in a release. Since then, the UK F-35s have flown 12 operational sorties. “This first operational mission for the UK’s F-35 Lightning confirms the impressive progress which we have made in introducing this formidable new capability into service,” Air Chief Marshal Stephen Hillier, the chief of the UK Air Staff, said in the release. The mission follows the combat debuts of the USAF F-35 in late April and the US Marine Corps F-35B in September 2018. Israel also has said its F-35 has conducted airstrikes. —Brian Everstine

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Two Years, $32 Million to Go on Desert Shield/Desert Storm Memorial

A site is approved and money is being raised for the National Desert Storm War Memorial, the association for which hopes it will be designed and built in time for the 30th anniversary of the conflict, in January 2021. At a fundraising kickoff in Washington, D.C., on June 25, association CEO and president Scott Stump said he expects the design to be made final in the coming months and approved in the fall, with groundbreaking to take place early next year. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.



Trump: An Iranian Attack on the US Will Be Met with “Great and Overwhelming Force”

The US is prepared to wipe out areas of Iran if the country decides to attack “anything American,” President Donald Trump threatened June 25 on Twitter. Military Times

OPINION: What is the Next US Move With Iran
After the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down an unmanned and unarmed US Navy surveillance drone last week, President Trump exercised significant restraint, calling off a planned kinetic strike against the offending surface-to-air missile launch site. Many—including the Iranian leadership—expected to see a retaliatory attack in response to the unprovoked attack. Forbes
Falcon Heavy Launches STP-2 Mission

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy lifted off early June 25 carrying two dozen small satellites on a mission to demonstrate the rocket’s capabilities for the US Air Force. Space News

Laser Pointers Target Two Military Planes in North Carolina, Air Force Says

Laser pointers were aimed at military planes in two separate incidents recently in North Carolina, according to the US Air Force. The lasers were aimed at the planes near Pope Army Airfield at Fort Bragg, officials said. Fayetteville Observer

US, Australia New C-17 Maintenance Arrangement Enhances Readiness, Cooperation

US Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force officials implemented a new maintenance arrangement for the C-17 Globemaster III that will improve strategic airlift efficiency and fleet readiness. USAF release

Kirtland’s “THOR” is Dropping the Hammer on Drones

It’s a growing threat that our military wasn’t necessarily ready for. Now, engineers at Kirtland Air Force Base have come up with a solution, and they did it quickly. KRQE

Lockheed Teams With Airbus, ELTA, Rafael for Israeli Contracts & US Cash

New restrictions on US aid to Israel is driving companies to seek American partners. Breaking Defense

Future of Army Aviation Funding Remains Murky

The Army has ambitious plans to acquire next-generation aircraft as it gears up for great power competition. But uncertainty about future vertical lift programs and other modernization efforts leaves an unclear picture of what lies ahead, analysts say. National Defense Magazine

Hackers Are Stealing Years of Call Records from Hacked Cell Networks

Security researchers say they have uncovered a massive espionage campaign involving the theft of call records from hacked cell network providers to conduct targeted surveillance on individuals of interest. TechCrunch

One More Thing

Crater in German Field Apparently Caused by WWII Bomb

More than 70 years after the end of the war, authorities are still finding unexploded bombs in Germany. Police in central Germany said that a 13-foot deep, 33-foot wide crater has appeared in a field in central Germany, apparently caused by a World War II bomb exploding in the middle of the night. Associated Press via Military Times