Donovan Pushing to Give Space Force Stronger Legal Authorities

The Pentagon is lobbying lawmakers to amend existing law to call the Space Force a new military service within the Air Force so the organization can “unleash its full potential,” Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan said Aug. 20. Without reforming Title X of the US Code, which sets the structure of the armed forces, the Space Force would not legally have the authorities to organize, train, and equip its employees for space operations, Donovan said. Those reforms also would affect how money is budgeted for the Space Force and how it can use funding and personnel, both from the Air Force and the other services. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

US Space Command Set to Stand Up Aug. 29

The Pentagon will officially re-establish US Space Command on Aug. 29, according to Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “When the vice president presides over the ceremony, we will immediately assign 87 units under a single combatant commander,” Dunford said at an Aug. 20 National Space Council meeting. SPACECOM intends to oversee daily space systems operations and spearhead offensive and defensive space maneuvers as global militaries become more involved in the domain. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Holmes Fights for NGAD as USAF Mulls Tough Budget Choices

Air Force Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mike Holmes argues the service can spend $1 billion researching and developing Next-Generation Air Dominance solutions despite some lawmakers’ doubts the money can be used in a timely and effective way. Holmes, one of the most senior officials with a stake in NGAD, said he is meeting with congressional staffers during August recess to convince them to pass legislation with full funding for the forward-looking combat technology program. Holmes also suggested the Air Force is considering mission tradeoffs to meet smaller-than-requested budget levels. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

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C-130Js Deploy to Romania for Joint Training As Wing Joint Inspections Continue

Three C-130J Hercules aircraft and airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein AB, Germany, are spending two weeks in Romania for this year’s Carpathian Fall bilateral training exercise, according to an Aug. 20 US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa release. The exercise aims to fortify the relationships between the US and Romanian militaries and improve how they work together in combat, USAFE-AFAFRICA spokeswoman Capt. Allie Delury told Air Force Magazine in an Aug. 20 email. One C-130J assigned to the 86th AW was inspected and cleared for operations as part of an Air Force investigation into atypical cracks on the Lockheed Martin-built platform, Delury said. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

US Airstrike Kills al-Shabab Member in Somalia

US Africa Command killed one member of the al-Shabab terror group in an Aug. 20 airstrike near Qunyo Barrow, Somalia, according to a command release. “This strike is an example of the pressure US Africa Command places on terrorist networks,” Army Maj. Gen. William Gayler, the command’s director of operations, said in the release. “This persistent pressure limits the terrorists’ freedom of movement, creates confusion within the network, and supports our Somali partners.” AFRICOM said no civilians were hurt or killed in the strike, though organizations such as Amnesty International claim the US underreports civilian casualties in Somalia. The strike comes about two weeks after AFRICOM commander Army Gen. Stephen Townsend met with Somalia’s prime minister and senior military leaders, as well as the US ambassador to the nation, in the capital of Mogadishu. “Degrading the capability of terrorists who operate here makes the entire region safer and prevents its export to other places,” Townsend said in an Aug. 7 release. The US is also training the Danab, a specialized Somali military force, to fight al-Shabab and the Islamic State in Somalia. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

ICYMI: How Offutt is Getting Back on its Feet After a “500-Year Flood”

OFFUTT AFB, Neb—The runway again hosts airplanes instead of floodwaters and fish, but Offutt Air Force Base still faces a long slog to normalcy. Following a historic flood that covered about one-third of the base in March, officials here, just 12 miles south of Omaha, Neb., say it could take five years or more to fully restore damaged assets from the 55th Wing and US Strategic Command. The “get-well plan” includes mostly temporary fixes, such as replacing simulators destroyed by floodwaters with an RC-135 withheld from deploying so aircrews and maintainers have something to train with; moving about 3,200 employees into interim workspaces; and adopting around-the-clock maintenance shifts to make up for lost maintenance capacity. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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“We Are Dropping Like Flies.” Ex-Fighter Pilots Push for Earlier Cancer Screenings

Former Air Force and Navy fighter pilots are calling on the military to begin cancer screenings for aviators as young as 30 because of an increase in deaths from the disease that they suspect may be tied to radiation emitted in the cockpit. McClatchy

US Troops May Be Victims of Massive Credit Card Hack in South Korea, Military Says

American troops may have been among the victims of hackers who stole information from more than one million US and South Korean credit cards and listed it for sale on the dark web over the past three months, the military said. An unnamed credit union that provides services at US Air Force bases in South Korea was among the potentially compromised organizations, it said. Stars and Stripes (partial paywall)

Troops Who Deployed to the US-Mexico Border Are Getting a Medal

Thousands of US service members who’ve been sent to operate along the Mexico border will receive a military award reserved for troops who "encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action."

The US Military’s AI Can’t Find Targets On Its Own—Yet, Top USAF General Says

Nearly two years since the Pentagon started bringing artificial intelligence to the battlefield, the algorithms still need human help, a top US Air Force general said Aug. 20. But Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Holmes said the technology is getting better at identifying people, cars, and other objects in drone video. Defense One

Air Force’s 24th Special Operations Wing Signals It Wants to Expand Social Media Operations

Although these elite airmen and special tactics operators are reticent to discuss the covert operations they participate in, the 24th Special Operations Wing has signaled it is looking at additional avenues to share stories about its members. And social media might be the answer. Air Force Times

CNO Richardson Reflects on Massive Technology, Readiness Changes as Tenure Ends

The US Navy and the world it operates in are a far cry from what they were four years ago. USNI News

Atlas, Delta Rocket Factory Begins Transition to Vulcan Centaur

A booster prototype representative of the first stage of the Vulcan Centaur rocket will roll out of a United Launch Alliance sprawling factory in early September and make the short trip across the parking lot to a test facility run by ULA’s subcontractor Dynetics. Space News

OPINION: Getting the Drop in Cyberspace

“From Wild Bill to Wohlstetter, the US should learn the lesson of the risks of a fearsome offense paired with a weak defense,” writes Jason Healey, a senior research scholar and adjunct faculty member at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs and president of the Cyber Conflict Studies Association. “Using offensive forces to improve defenses may be satisfying and might even work in the short term. But if adversaries feel a war with the United States is coming, a more fearsome cyber offense makes it more likely they will go Deadwood on the US before Cyber Command can bring its big guns to bear.” Lawfare

Millions More Will Soon Be Allowed to Shop on Military Bases. But Some Veterans Wonder How They’ll Get Access.

Some veterans have contacted Military Times to say that they are eligible for the new benefit that takes effect Jan. 1, but are concerned they won’t have access to the stores. That’s because they don’t have the specific credential required—the Veteran Health Identification Card, or VHIC, issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Military Times

One More Thing

Wildlife Now Roam Where US Once Forged its Deadliest Weapons

From a tiny Pacific island to a leafy Indiana forest, a handful of sites where the United States manufactured and tested some of the most lethal weapons known to humankind are now peaceful havens for wildlife. An astonishing array of animals and habitats flourished at six former weapons complexes–mostly for nuclear and chemical arms–because the public and other intrusions were banned for decades. When they became obsolete, the government converted them into refuges under US Fish and Wildlife Service management, but the cost is staggering. Associated Press