US Space Command Set to Launch Within Weeks

A new US Space Command will formally launch within weeks, the deputy commander of US Strategic Command told reporters July 31. “I think it’d probably be about weeks—we should see the actual establishment of US Space Command,” Vice Adm. David Kriete said during a media roundtable. “I think we’re on a good track in terms of our planning.” Kriete said the timeline for launching the revived SPACECOM, which will take over responsibility for space combat operations from STRATCOM, will be at the discretion of new Defense Secretary Mark Esper. The Pentagon has not yet announced where SPACECOM headquarters will be, but its two major components will be located at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., and Schriever AFB, Colo. The Senate recently confirmed Air Force Space Command chief Gen. Jay Raymond to lead the combatant command. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Virtual Reality, Trimmed Syllabi: How Vance is Ramping Up Pilot Production

VANCE AFB, Okla.—The Air Force’s pilot shortage has forced its training bases to get creative to rapidly increase the number of trainees without a matching boost in funding. At its peak, the Air Force was short 2,000 pilots, prompting a series of steps that began in 2016 to grow pilot retention and push more trained aviators through Air Education and Training Command bases. The 71st Flying Training Wing here must ramp up production from 325 new pilots last year to 400 this year, then grow to 425 pilots in 2020. Vance is trying to do so with the same airspace, the same number of instructors, and the same number of aircraft. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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STRATCOM Chief Calls for More In-House Nuclear Missile Engineers

US Strategic Command boss Gen. John Hyten on July 30 suggested the Air Force can do more to draw nuclear engineering expertise from its Reserve component to avoid an overreliance on private industry. “You lose the expertise inside the military, and you end up with the fox guarding the henhouse, and I’m very concerned about that,” Hyten said of losing organic engineering knowledge in intercontinental ballistic missile programs. The four-star, who is under consideration to be the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that he’s disappointed Boeing, the Air Force’s long-time source for intercontinental ballistic missiles, decided to drop its bid to build the new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Two Key DOD Officials Progress Through Senate Confirmation

David Norquist was sworn in as deputy defense secretary July 31 after the Senate confirmed him by voice vote July 30. He’s been acting in that role since Jan. 1, when then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan became acting secretary. The vote means the Defense Department’s top two civilian positions will be filled by Senate-approved officials for the first time all year. Senate Armed Services Committee members also voted 20-7 July 31 to send US Strategic Command boss Gen. John Hyten’s nomination to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the full chamber, following a high-profile confirmation hearing. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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OPINION: Expanding Our Airmen’s Competitive Edge

“As Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein has said repeatedly over the past year, the Air Force we have is not the Air Force we need. It is too small to answer the requirements of our National Defense Strategy,” writes AFA President retired Lt. Gen. Bruce “Orville” Wright in the Aug. 1 installment of his “President’s Perspective” column on “How we respond as a nation in rebuilding our air combat capacity and improving our combat capability will say a lot about what kind of a world power America will be in the future.”

The Air Force is Ramping Up its Airstrikes in Somalia

The Air Force has already carried out as many airstrikes in Somalia in the first seven months of 2019 as it did in all of 2018. In an email Monday, Col. Chris Karns, a spokesman for United States Africa Command, said that a July 27 airstrike in Somalia brought the total number of airstrikes in the African nation to 47, the same as 2018’s total. Air Force Times

Goldfein’s 10-Day Trip across Northern Europe Focuses on Partners and "Great Power" Realities

Familiar and well-honed goals fueled Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s recently completed 10-day trip across northern Europe and Greenland––underscoring the United States’ commitment to allies and friends, forging and reinforcing bonds that help ensure a safe and prosperous Europe, and finding ways to increase operational unity and reduce friction. USAF release

Directorate Wants to Change View of Nonlethal Weapons

Modern warfare is often characterized by heavy firepower such as guns, tanks and attack aircraft. But as the United States faces operations in the “gray zone”–– actions that remain below the level of conventional armed conflict––there is an increasing need for nonlethal options. National Defense Magazine

It’s Sentient: Meet the Classified Artificial Brain Being Developed by US Intelligence Programs

A product of the National Reconnaissance Office, Sentient is (or at least aims to be) an omnivorous analysis tool, capable of devouring data of all sorts, making sense of the past and present, anticipating the future, and pointing satellites toward what it determines will be the most interesting parts of that future. That, ideally, makes things simpler downstream for human analysts at other organizations, like the NGA, with which the satellite-centric NRO partners. The Verge

Space Insurance Costs to Rocket After Satellite Crash

Space rockets and satellites are likely to cost more to insure after the European Vega rocket crash this month, which hit insurers with a record space market loss of 369 million euros ($411.21 million), insurance industry sources say. The Vega rocket carrying a military observation satellite for the United Arab Emirates veered off course shortly after take-off and crashed. Reuters

TACE Lays Down Foundation for Future UAV Test Safety

The 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force conducted an autonomous test flight at Edwards AFB, Calif., July 25. The flight’s mission was to test a software suite designed to make unmanned aerial vehicle flight safer. USAF release

CISA: Small Planes Vulnerable to Flight Data Manipulation

A vulnerability in the network protocols of small planes could allow anyone with physical access to the aircraft to manipulate its flight data, according to the Homeland Security Department. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on July 30 issued a warning about an insecure implementation of CAN bus networks, the protocols that allow the various devices within planes, cars and other machines to communicate with each other. Nextgov

UN Says More Afghan Civilians Killed in 2019 by Afghan, US, and Allied Forces than Terror Groups

More civilians were killed by Afghan and international coalition forces in Afghanistan than by the Taliban and other militants in the first half of 2019, the U.N. mission said in a report released July 30. The report apparently refers to civilians killed during Afghan and U.S. military operations against insurgents, such as airstrikes and night raids on militant hideouts. CBS News and The Associated Press

One More Thing

10 Million Steps: 71-Year-Old Air Force Veteran Walking Across America to Support Veterans

The father, grandfather, former teacher, psychologist, and veteran left his Newburyport, Mass., home on May 15. He’s averaging about 30 miles a day. When he arrives at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., he will have taken 10 million steps across 13 states. Vail Daily