Operation COVID-19

Trump to Extend National Guard Title 32 Orders into August

President Donald Trump on May 28 announced he will extend the Title 32 orders of National Guard personnel activated to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through the middle of August, ensuring thousands of Guardsmen will get access to certain federal benefits. As of the morning of May 28, more than 40,400 Air and Army National Guard members were battling the new coronavirus outbreak in a Title 32 capacity, the National Guard Bureau said. A legislative push to ensure Guard personnel activated until Title 32 orders in the war on COVID-19 and their families will get access to TRICARE health insurance coverage once their activations end is still underway, however.

What’s a Space Weapon? The Answer Can Be Complicated.

The Pentagon has declared space a warfighting domain. A new Space Force is preparing to defend its assets from attack, and hit others if needed. But what, exactly, is a space weapon? A new report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies published May 27 tries to answer that question. Todd Harrison, director of CSIS’s Aerospace Security Project and the report’s author, puts space weapons into six categories: kinetic and non-kinetic Earth-to-space weapons like projectiles or jammers, dazzlers, and cyberattacks; kinetic and non-kinetic space-to-space weapons like on-orbit projectiles or microwaves; and kinetic and non-kinetic space-to-Earth weapons like jammers, lasers, or projectiles that come down from orbit.
Nellis aircraft take off during WSINT

DOD to Test 5G Network at Nellis

Another fifth-generation wireless connectivity initiative will come to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., as part of the Pentagon’s broader push into 5G research. The Defense Department announced May 28 its research and engineering branch will partner with the Air Force Warfare Center to build a 5G cellular network at Nellis for defense and civilian use. Officials aim to use the network for two main purposes—to set up 5G-enabled command and control operations and to practice chopping up the network into portions with different speeds and reliability levels needed for a range of uses, an approach known as network slicing.

Sam Johnson, 1930-2020

Former Rep. Sam Johnson (R), a founder of the Air Force Caucus in Congress, a seven-year POW in Vietnam, a former Thunderbird, and a Korean War veteran, died May 27 in Plano, Texas, at age 89.
COVID-19 Town Hall

Despite Frustration, Leaders Tout Success of Stop Movement Order

The Pentagon is rolling back some of its stringent restrictions on travel, allowing for more permanent change of station moves and deployments, saying the military’s largely been spared in the COVID-19 outbreak by the effectiveness of such measures. During a May 28 town hall, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, the senior enlisted adviser to the Chairman, faced repeated questions from service members and families about the extended impact of the stop movement order. “There’s been a lot of death, pain, suffering throughout the entire country,” Milley said during the virtual town hall May 28. “So the Secretary and the Department of Defense took those measures that were very strict in order to protect the force and to protect the families. And it was exactly the right thing to do, and those efforts have proven to be effective.”

USAF Delays Uniform Changes During Pandemic

The Air Force delayed the date some Operational Camouflage Pattern and Two-Piece Flight Duty Uniform changes will become mandatory by two months to make life easier for USAF and Space Force troops during the pandemic, the Air Force Personnel Center announced May 27. Although the OCP uniform will still become mandatory next April, several OCP uniform changes, including rank insignia, as well as T-shirt, boot, and sock color, now will take effect Sept. 1.

Virtual Events: Scowcroft Group’s Miller on Mitchell’s Nuclear Deterrence Series, and More

On March 23, the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies will host a virtual Nuclear Deterrence Series event featuring Scowcroft Group Principal Frank Miller. At a time when nuclear modernization programs are accelerating around the world, proposals to recapitalize the U.S. nuclear arsenal are at the forefront of debates over defense spending. Miller will share his insights into the prospects for U.S. nuclear modernization programs and the value of nuclear deterrence in today's competitive security environment. The think tank will post event video on its website and YouTube page after the live event.

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.

OPINION: The Pacific Deterrence Initiative: Peace through Strength in the Indo-Pacific

War on the Rocks

“The Pacific Deterrence Initiative will enhance budgetary transparency and oversight, and focus resources on key military capabilities to deter China,” write Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.). “The initiative will also reassure U.S. allies and partners, and send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that the American people are committed to defending U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific.”

FCC Stands by Ligado Decision as Lawmakers Step Up Criticism

Space News

The FCC pushed back on new criticism from the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. Committee leaders on May 27 accused the FCC of issuing the order without having received classified briefings from the Defense Department or other agencies on the impact of Ligado’s wireless network on the Global Positioning System that also operates in the L-band spectrum.

OPINION: The F-22 Imperative

Defense News

“The loss of an F-22 Raptor during a training flight on May 15 serves as a wake-up call regarding the size of the Raptor inventory,” write retired USAF Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, and Douglas Birkey, the think tank’s executive director. “Tunnel vision over a decade ago related to counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq saw the nation buy too few F-22s, with just 187 purchased versus the 381 official military requirement. Now, with those wars largely in the rear-view mirror and a new National Defense Strategy, the capability attributes afforded by the F-22 are more important than ever.”

Air Force Unveils First Test of Arsenal Plane Concept and New CLEAVER Munition

The Drive

The U.S. Air Force conducted a test earlier this year of a palletized munition concept to launch new stand-off precision-guided munitions from its airlifters, allowing the service to relatively quickly turn them into weapons trucks, as necessary. This has also prompted important discussions within the service about command and control issues and other operational considerations that would be involved when rapidly shifting cargo aircraft into a strike role.

Italy Defense Minister Commits to F-35 after Calls to Suspend Program

Defense News

Italy’s defense minister has thrown his weight behind the F-35 program to counter demands from within his coalition government to suspend purchases of the aircraft to help Italy’s coronavirus-stricken economy. Lorenzo Guerini said he “confirmed that the program would continue,” after calls from Italy’s Five Star party to halt F-35 purchases for a year as Italy seeks cash to help rebound from the virus, which has killed 33,000 in Italy.

One More Thing

U.S. Space Force Debuts New Recruiting Ad Entitled ‘Make History’

Space Force release

The 30-second ad, dubbed “Make History,” opens with a star-filled evening sky followed quickly by scenes of space-related activities, launches, and technology. “I see the future,” the narrator says. “I see exploration and courage. I see myself; the future is where I’ll make history.”