Milley Sworn in as 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Army Gen. Mark Milley on Sept. 30 became the 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, taking over for retiring Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford. Milley, who had served as the chief of staff of the Army since 2015, was sworn in as the nation’s top uniformed officer during a rain-soaked ceremony at JB Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. During his speech, Milley pledged to continue the military’s modernization, along with showing “unwavering support” and care for troops and families. “We stand ready to keep the peace, or if necessary, win the war,” he said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Thornberry Announces Retirement from the House

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the ranking member and former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, announced Sept. 30 he will not seek re-election, joining three other HASC Republicans who have announced they will retire. “I believe the time has come for a change,” Thornberry said in a statement thanking his voters. In the committee, he has been a champion of increased readiness and spending on research and development, along with leading the effort for Section 804 authorities to speed Pentagon acquisition. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

Boeing Gets $2.6 Billion KC-46 Lot 5 Contract

The Air Force on Sept. 27 awarded Boeing about $2.6 billion for lot 5 production of the KC-46 tanker, covering 15 aircraft. The contract modification also covers data, two spare engines, five wing refueling pod kits, initial spares, support equipment, subscriptions, and licenses. Work on this production lot is expected to be completed by March 2023, according to the Pentagon announcement. Boeing so far has delivered 19 of the aircraft to the Air Force, though multiple Category One deficiencies have limited the aircraft’s ability to meet testing requirements. Air Mobility Command boss Gen. Maryanne Miller said recently she doesn’t expect the aircraft to be able to deploy for three to four years, as a deficiency on the aircraft’s remote vision system will take an extended amount of time to address. —Brian Everstine

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US Aircraft, Personnel Fight Off Attack on Somali Training Base

US aircraft and personnel fought off an al-Shabaab attack on a training base and airfield Sept. 30 in Somalia, where US forces train local fighters in a rural area about 70 miles from the capital. US Africa Command said the group targeted the Baledogle Military Airfield with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. No US or partner forces were injured in the attack. “This attack, though ineffective, demonstrates the direct threat al-Shabaab poses to Americans, our allies, and interests in the region,” Maj. Gen. William Gayler, AFRICOM’s director of operations, said in the release. In response to the attack, the US conducted two airstrikes, and forces on the ground fought off the attacks. Ten al-Shabaab fighters were killed and one vehicle was destroyed, according to AFRICOM. The airfield has undergone recent construction, including to its runway, and it is the site of US training for the Somalia National Army. —Brian Everstine

Pratt Gets $2.2 Billion Contract for F-35 Engines

The Pentagon on Sept. 30 awarded Pratt & Whitney Military Engines an almost $2.2 billion contract to supply 183 engines for all F-35 variants. The contract definitizes a previous contract covering 112 engines Air Force F-35As, 46 engines for the Marine Corps F-35Cs, and 25 engines for Navy F-35Bs, according to a Pentagon release. The contract also definitized a previous award for long-lead parts and materials associated with 129 A variant engines and 19 B variant engines. Including previous contract totals, which also includes foreign sales, $3.56 billion was obligated by the Sept. 30 action. The award combined purchases of about $880 million for the Air Force, about $619.2 million for the Marine Corps, $178.8 million for the Navy, $420 million for non-US F-35 partners, and $99.4 million for foreign military sales customers. —John A. Tirpak

McCarthy Takes Over as Army Secretary

Ryan McCarthy on Sept. 30 was sworn in as the 24th secretary of the Army. McCarthy, who was formerly the No. 2 in the Army, had served as the acting secretary of the service since Mark Esper was nominated and confirmed to be defense secretary. In a Sept. 27 message to soldiers, McCarthy wrote that under his leadership the service will need to improve strategic readiness while also modernizing, to ensure the Army “remains the most lethal ground combat force in the world.” While moving toward these goals, the service also must take care of its people, including reversing “negative trends in suicide, sexual assault, and sexual harassment that tear at the fabric of our formations.” McCarthy, who was confirmed by the Senate on Sept. 27, was nominated for the job in June. Barbara Barrett, who was nominated to be the next Air Force secretary a month before McCarthy was tapped, is expected to be up for a Senate vote on Oct. 15. —Brian Everstine

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The US Military is Practicing Moving its Middle Eastern Command Base to South Carolina Because its Qatar Base is a “Sitting Duck” for Iran

Recent Iranian success at striking military and civilian infrastructure targets in the Persian Gulf region have led the American military to practice switching operational control of military operations from bases located within range of Iranian missiles to bases in the United States that are out of harm’s way. Business Insider

New Space BMC2 System to Debut at Corona: Raymond

Air Force Space Command’s new system for command and control of battlefield space assets during conflict is “on the verge” of operational capability, says Gen. Jay Raymond. The Enterprise Space Management Command and Control system is one element of AFSPC’s year-old data strategy that is “already beginning to pay benefits,” said Raymond, who commands both AFSPC and the new Space Command. Breaking Defense

Space Commander Warns Chinese Lasers Could Blind US Satellites

China is developing new directed energy weapons that could degrade American satellites during a future crisis, the leader of the newly formed US Space Command said Sept 27. The spectrum of threats to US assets makes it critical to reorganize the military’s space enterprise, Gen. Jay Raymond noted during remarks at a breakfast in Washington, D.C., hosted by AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. National Defense Magazine

OPINION: Let’s Talk About the Story of a German Radar Vendor That Claims to Have Tracked Two F-35s with Passive Radar

“To consider the test valid, it should have been conducted in real operational conditions: with the aircraft not carrying radar reflectors (that, generally speaking, do exist also as bistatic units) and, above all, not transmitting their position; in other words, as they would operate in a contested airspace,” writes David Cenciotti, founder and editor of The Aviationist. The Aviationist

Large Chunk of Border Wall Funding Diverted from Tiny Guam

President Donald Trump is raising a large chunk of the money for his border wall with Mexico by deferring several military construction projects slated for Guam, a strategic hub for US forces in the Pacific. This may disrupt plans to move Marines to Guam from Japan and to modernize munitions storage for the Air Force. Associated Press via ABC News

Civil Air Patrol to Provide IT Training to Keesler AFB Technical School Graduates

Every six months, four to six software coders will work at CAP National Headquarters at Maxwell AFB, Ala., to immerse themselves in CAP’s well-established Agile DevSecOps software framework. In turn, these airmen will provide valuable, additional manpower that will help CAP satisfy increased demands on its small development team. USAF release

OPINION: In Dark Times, We All Must Be Good Wingmen

“While leadership encourages us to talk openly and not be afraid of the stigma that comes with seeking help, there is still room for improvement in our culture to engender an environment where we can feel comfortable telling our peers and leaders we are facing some mental health challenges,” writes Col. Chris “Chico” Anderson, battle watch commander at Headquarters US Strategic Command’s Global Operations Center. “This is especially true in flying organizations, where maintenance and ops personnel excel at compartmentalization and we are expected to be a ready, full-up round.” Air Force Times

Two Dead in Shooting Near Offutt Identified as Active-Duty Service Member, Spouse

Offutt Air Force Base officials have confirmed that two people died on the night of Sept. 28 in a shooting in a base community. An active-duty service member from Offutt and their spouse died, a spokesman for the Air Force base said Sept. 29. Omaha World-Herald

Afghan Protesters Claim US Strikes Kill 5 Civilians in East

An airstrike by US-led forces in eastern Afghanistan killed at least five civilians, local villagers said Sept. 29. Associated Press

One More Thing

Troops, Vets Increasingly Targeted by Russian "Troll Factories," Report Finds

The same Russian "troll factories" that sought to influence the 2016 elections have continued to target service members, veterans, and their families online with "hateful and divisive messages," according to a two-year investigative report by Vietnam Veterans of America.