US Space Command Takes Reins on Space Ops, But Questions Remain

President Donald Trump formally revived US Space Command to oversee daily space operations in an Aug. 29 White House ceremony, the most recent step in the federal government’s overhaul of military space organizations. “The dangers to our country constantly evolve, and so must we,” Trump said. “Now, those who wish to harm the United States, to seek to challenge us in the ultimate high ground of space, it’s going to be a whole different ball game.” But as the 11th unified combatant command gets to work, questions about how many people it will employ, where its permanent headquarters will sit, and which responsibilities it will take on and when remain unanswered. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Florida Bases Prepare for Hurricane Dorian

Air Force bases across Florida are preparing for Hurricane Dorian, which is expected to make landfall over Labor Day weekend as a Category 4 storm. The National Hurricane Center on Aug. 29 said there’s an “increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Florida east coast,” and that the risk of devastating winds continues to grow. It is too soon to say where the worst effects will be felt. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Pentagon Launches Maritime Security Effort Amid De-Escalation with Iran

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters Aug. 28 he’s not ready to say that recent US-Iran tensions have subsided, but that the Pentagon is holding out hope for diplomatic talks. “I’m not sure I’m ready to call the crisis over yet, but so far so good,” he said at a press briefing. “We hope the trend lines continue that way. We hope that the parties, that the Iranians would agree to meet and talk and help us resolve these issues.” In the past few months, the US has declared Iran and its paramilitary arm responsible for attacking ships, seizing oil tankers, and downing a Navy MQ-4. Operation Sentinel, a multinational maritime effort to boost surveillance and security in the region’s waters, is now underway, Esper said. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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US, Turkey Open Coordination Center to Address Syrian Border Issues

The US and Turkey are now working out of a “coordination center” in the Turkish capital of Ankara to manage potential conflict along the country’s border with Syria, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford said Aug. 28. “This was set up in the recent days—United States European Command, Central Command, Turkish General Staff are now in a coordination center inside of Ankara,” Dunford told reporters at a Pentagon press briefing. “We’ve also made agreements to immediately address some of the threats along the border between Turkey and Syria, removal of heavy weapons and those kind of things.” Officials in the coordination center are working out the specifics of joint border patrols as part of a deal struck between the US and Turkey for a “safe zone” in northeastern Syria that would move US-aligned Syrian Kurdish militias away from Turkey. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

Pentagon to Issue New Annual Report on Service Member, Family Suicides

The Pentagon will put out a new annual report on military suicide beginning this year, Defense Suicide Prevention Office Director Karin Orvis said Aug. 27. The inaugural report, due out this fall, will detail data on suicide incidents among troops and their family members that occurred in 2018, according to the Defense Department. The announcement comes as Air Force wings are pausing operations for a day to address suicide within their ranks, as directed by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright on Aug. 1. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

B-2 Visits Iceland for the First Time

A B-2 recently landed in Iceland for the first time, conducting hot-pit refueling at an Icelandic Coast Guard base that has hosted US aircraft for decades to keep a close eye on the Arctic. The B-2 touched down at Keflavik AB on Aug. 28, where it refueled without the engines shutting down, according to an Aug. 29 US Air Forces in Europe release. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

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Outstanding Airmen of the Year Spotlight: SSgt. Gary G. Jeffrey III

The Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2019 will be formally recognized at AFA’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference Sept. 16-18. Air Force Magazine is highlighting one each workday from now until the conference begins. Today, we honor SSgt. Gary G. Jeffrey III from Air Education and Training Command.



Trump: Taliban Deal Close, US Troops to Drop to 8,600

President Donald Trump said Aug. 29 the US plans to withdraw more than 5,000 American troops from Afghanistan and then will determine further drawdowns in the longest war in American history. Trump’s comment comes as a US envoy is in his ninth round of talks with the Taliban to find a resolution to the nearly 18-year-old war. Associated Press

Esper Sets Demand That Might Let Turkey Rejoin F-35 Program

The Pentagon would consider allowing Turkey to rejoin the F-35 program only if the Russian-made S-400 air defense system is completely removed from Turkish soil, meaning the government in Ankara could not simply keep the systems deactivated in warehouses, the Pentagon’s top official said Aug. 28. Defense News

Pentagon Wants Ukraine Military Aid to Continue

The Pentagon has completed a review of military assistance to Ukraine ordered by the White House and concluded the aid should continue, a senior official said Aug. 29. Congress approved $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative in fiscal 2019. President Donald Trump had previously authorized the sale of lethal weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, to help confront separatist forces backed by Russia. Politico

OTS Beta Courses Test Accelerated Commissioning Program for SNCOs

Air University is testing a new, accelerated program to help fast-track qualifying Air Force senior non-commissioned officers looking to commission as second lieutenants. Beta tests for the Officer Training School-Accelerated Commissioning Program, scheduled to run in August and November of this year, will each last 14 days, compared to the current program, which lasts 40 training days. USAF release

Defense Department Awards Its Other Multibillion Cloud Contract

While the Pentagon and Oracle continue to fight over the JEDI cloud, the Defense Department and General Services Administration announced the award of the department’s other multibillion-dollar cloud contract, the Defense Enterprise Office Solutions. The potential $7.6 billion contract to provide back-office tools like email, word processing, spreadsheets, and file-sharing was awarded to a team led by CSRA, a managed affiliate of General Dynamics Information Technology. Nextgov

OPINION: The US Must Prepare for a Cyber “Day After”

“The government needs a continuity plan to ensure that critical data and technology remains available after a devastating network attack,” writes Samantha Ravich, chair of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a commissioner on the Congressional Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Defense One

Libya’s Civil War Could Provide “Oxygen” to Terrorist Offshoots, Says US Africa Command

US Africa Command is concerned that Libya’s eight-year civil war could bolster terrorist groups harbored in the country and foster a breeding ground for violent extremist organizations. Preventing that chaos is a key issue for AFRICOM Commander Army Gen. Stephen Townsend, who traveled to Tunis, Tunisia, with US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland to meet with Libya’s prime minister, Fayez al Sarraj, on Aug. 26. Military Times

The Man Who Couldn’t Take It Anymore

“I had no choice but to leave,” retired Marine Corps. Gen. James Mattis says of his decision to resign as President Donald Trump’s secretary of defense. The Atlantic

One More Thing

My Short Little Life

At only 27, former Air Force Capt. Cole Holloway, a fighter pilot who was assigned to Kadena AB, Japan, was at the top of his game. Then, an unexpected death sentence forced him to focus on what really matters. Kadena Air Base on Facebook