A1C Keigan Baker

Hurlburt Combat Controller Dies During Training Swim

A special tactics combat controller from the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fla., died March 19 during a training swim in Panama City. The Airman has been identified as A1C Keigan Baker, 24, of Longview, Washington. Baker enlisted in the Air Force in 2018, and was in training as a Special Tactics combat controller apprentice.
PSAB Hot Refuel and Reload Operation

CENTCOM Stops Flow of Troops to Counter COVID-19

U.S. Central Command has ordered a stop movement for all forces deploying to the Middle East to allow for a 14-day quarantine to counter the spread of the new coronavirus. Under the order, announced March 20, forces deploying to U.S. commands or coalitions in the area of responsibility will be quarantined for two weeks at their point of embarkation prior to the deployment “so that they will be cleared for duty upon arrival as a prudent precaution to maintain critical combat and combat support functions," CENTCOM said in a release. This will extend the deployments of some personnel while they wait for their replacements to clear quarantine.

Lawmakers Considering Remote Markup of NDAA Bill

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees are scrambling to learn more about how the coronavirus pandemic could affect the U.S. military, while also trying to keep the major annual defense policy bill on track. “The committee is in constant contact with DOD about its response to coronavirus and how it can most effectively support the national COVID-19 response efforts,” SASC spokeswoman Marta Hernandez said. “We believe current authorities give the department the latitude it needs to respond appropriately.” HASC is planning an April 30 markup, typically a marathon session of debates over the core provisions and added amendments with all committee members in the room. Hernandez said SASC Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) still wants to mark up the Senate’s draft National Defense Authorization Act by the end of May, but the committee is considering running the markup remotely using teleworking software.
EUCOM All Hands with Gen. Wolters

EUCOM Trying to Maintain Readiness Despite Exercise Cancellations

U.S. European Command has about 2,600 personnel in self-isolation and has curtailed its exercises because of the ongoing new coronavirus outbreak, but the head of the military in Europe says readiness will remain high for the foreseeable future. USAF Gen. Tod Wolters, EUCOM boss and NATO Supreme Allied Commander-Europe, said March 20 his command has watched the coronavirus outbreak spread throughout the continent for months now and is evolving its tactics, techniques, and procedures to try to counter the spread. “This is serious, serious business and for months we have embraced precautionary measures to safeguard the health of not only our personnel, but also of our communities and the mission,” Wolters said.
A-10 Thunderbolt maintenance

Air Force Depots Not Slowing Down

The Air Force’s depot maintenance activities continue unabated during the COVID-19 crisis, but Air Force Materiel Command is staying alert for supply chain issues that could affect throughput. “To date, no mission requirements have been impacted, and aircraft are still being inducted into the depots,” an AFMC spokeswoman said March 19. “Although we are monitoring for slowing of supply chain operations, we are not aware of any supply or material disruptions at this time,” she said.
Bomber Task Force Europe operations

B-2s Fly With Dutch F-35s For First Time

Two B-2s that are deployed to Europe as part of a bomber task force rotation flew alongside Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35As on March 18, marking the first time the stealth bomber flew alongside Dutch fifth-generation fighters. The bombers, deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., to RAF Fairford, England, linked up with the F-35As for a familiarization flight over the North Sea.
Hypersonics test

Army, Navy Hypersonic Test Clears Way for Weapon Development

The Army and Navy jointly conducted a test of the Common Hypersonic Glide Body on March 19 over the Pacific Ocean. The test clears the way for design of an operational system to be ready by 2023. The Missile Defense Agency used the test to gather data it will use in its efforts to build defenses against hypersonic vehicles.
U.S. forces demonstrate airpower at Farnborough International Air Show

Farnborough, RIAT Airshows Canceled Indicating Long-Term Impact of COVID-19

England's Farnborough International Airshow and Royal International Air Tattoo, both originally slated to take place in July, have been canceled due to the new coronavirus pandemic, indicating the outbreak may have a long-term impact on the global defense industry. “After very careful consideration, the unprecedented impact of the global coronavirus pandemic has forced this decision in the interests of the health and safety of our exhibitors, visitors, contractors, and staff,” wrote the Farnborough International Board of Directors in a March 20 letter posted to its website.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Returning Troops Denied Water, Bathrooms Under Quarantine

Associated Press

It wasn’t the welcome home that U.S. soldiers expected when they returned from war zones in the Middle East this past week. When their planes landed at Fort Bliss, Texas, they were herded into buses, denied water and the use of bathrooms, then quarantined in packed barracks, with little food or access to the outdoors.

Senator Pushes Pentagon for Personnel Guidance Amid Pandemic


Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) continued his pressure campaign on executive branch agencies to release guidance and response plans to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 19, this time directing questions to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. In a letter, Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, requested the Defense Department issue guidance for uniformed, civilian, and contractor personnel and to clarify their options for paid leave and telework options during the pandemic.

Navy, Air Force Chaplains Must End in-Person Worship Like Army Did, Advocacy Group Says

Military Times

An advocacy group is complaining about the lack of strict orders from the Navy and Air Force to end in-person worship services during the coronavirus pandemic, but officials from those services say the decision to do so rests with local commanders and not their chiefs of chaplains. The Navy and Air Force stances are in contrast to the Army, which closed all chapels in the United States and Europe this past weekend, according to a memo signed by the Navy chief of chaplains and provided to Military Times.

NDIA Appeals to Top House, Senate Authorizers

Inside Defense

The National Defense Industrial Association is calling on the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees to address the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the defense industrial base. In March 19 letters, retired USAF Gen. Hawk Carlisle, NDIA's chief executive, said contractors are working without protections for loss of pay due to delays and without help if their supply chain is affected.

Lawmakers Submit Nearly 50 Questions to VA Over Its COVID-19 Response


House Veterans Affairs Committee members are demanding daily and weekly updates from the Department of Veterans Affairs on its response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, along with the answers to 49 questions. In a bipartisan letter to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie released March 18, 27 lawmakers said they are concerned about staying up-to-date as the number of COVID-19 cases rapidly increases across the country.

NASA Leadership Assessing Mission Impacts of Coronavirus

NASA release

To protect the health and safety of the NASA workforce as the nation responds to coronavirus (COVID-19), agency leadership recently completed the first assessment of work underway across all missions, projects, and programs. The goal was to identify tasks that can be done remotely by employees at home, mission-essential work that must be performed on-site, and on-site work that will be paused.

U.S. Naval Officer Sues Over Military Transgender Ban

Associated Press

A U.S. naval officer who is facing involuntary discharge because of a policy restricting transgender people from military service has filed a lawsuit that aims to force defense officials to allow her to continue serving. The federal lawsuit, filed March 17, is the first legal challenge to the policy since rules went into effect in April 2019 stripping transgender troops of rights they secured under the Obama administration to serve openly and to have their medical transitions covered in their health benefits, lawyers said.