Van Ovost Tapped to Lead TRANSCOM, New Bosses Named for SOUTHCOM and INDOPACOM

President Joe Biden on March 6 nominated USAF Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost—currently the U.S. military’s only woman with four stars—to command U.S. Transportation Command, and Army Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson for a fourth star and to take over as commander of U.S. Southern Command. If confirmed, Van Ovost and Richardson would become the second and third women to lead combatant commands. During a March 8 speech at the White House commemorating International Women’s Day, Biden said the two generals “pushed open the doors of opportunity” for female service members, calling them “outstanding and eminently qualified warriors and patriots.”

Hypersonic ARRW Readied for Booster Flight

An AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile is being readied for its first booster flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., the Air Force announced March 5. The missile that flies within the next month will not be an all-up round. Instead, the test will run the missile through separation, booster ignition, and separation of a dummy glide vehicle.
Emerald Warrior 21.1

AETC Rolls Out Interim Height Standards For Career Enlisted Aviators

The Air Force rolled out new interim height standards for Career Enlisted Aviators aimed at improving aircrew diversity and “safely meeting accession demands,” as the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center works to update a 1967 anthropometric study used to establish USAF flight requirements for more than half a century. Nearly 35 percent of the Total Force aviator community is made up of enlisted flight crew in a variety of Air Force Specialty Codes, including in-flight refueling, flight engineers, flight attendants, aircraft loadmasters, airborne mission systems operators, and cryptologic language analysts. CEAs work on 32 different aircraft in the Air Force inventory, and the AFLCMC study will look at roughly one aircraft per month until the fleet-wide evaluation is complete in 2022, according to the release.
Bomber Task Force mission to Middle East

B-52s Fly Direct to Middle East in Message to Iran

Two B-52s flew direct to the Middle East on March 7 in a mission to “deter aggression” amid high tensions with Iran. The B-52s from the 69th Bomb Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., linked up with aircraft from multiple partner nations, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, according to a U.S. Central Command release. It marked the fourth time bombers have flown to the Middle East this year, according to CENTCOM.
Fort Carson Soldiers begin first day of COVID vaccination support at Cal State LA

DOD Deploying More Teams to Help the National Vaccination Effort

The Pentagon has approved more military teams to deploy to mass COVID-19 vaccination centers as the push to vaccinate the public grows. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III on March 4 approved 10 more teams to deploy to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency run the vaccination sites, bringing the total approval to 35 teams, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. This includes 15 “type one” teams with 222 total Active-duty personnel capable of administering 6,000 vaccinations per day, and 20 “type two” teams with 139 personnel capable of administering 3,000 vaccinations per day.
National Guard Bureau Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson

National Guard Takes on Vaccine Stigma

While the Guard can’t force troops to get a COVID-19 vaccine, it is engaged in educational initiatives to keep personnel informed about what’s available. “We just try to educate people on the potential benefits of getting the vaccine and we’re doing the best we can to let people know that we’ve got vaccine available, and that there are some good points for opting in, but I can’t go beyond that to the point where I would appear to be having undue command influence in telling people to get vaccinated because it’s not a requirement yet,” Washington Adjutant General Army Maj. Gen. Bret D. Daugherty said on March 5.

Radar Sweep

Blinken Proposes New Steps to Peace, Keeps May 1st Pullout Option


U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered proposals to accelerate the peace process, including convening a UN-facilitated conference with international stakeholders, facilitating discussion between the two sides to form a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, holding a meeting in Turkey between both sides to finalize a peace agreement, and revising the proposal for a 90-day reduction in violence. However, Blinken also made it clear the United States is considering all options regarding Afghanistan, including the May 1st deadline for full withdrawal.

US Officials Believe Iran-Backed Group Responsible for Latest Rocket Attack in Iraq


U.S. and Iraqi officials believe that an Iran-backed group with a history of targeting Americans in Iraq was responsible for a March 3 attack on an Iraqi air base that hosts U.S. troops. While the investigation into the attack on Al-Asad air base in the western province of Anbar is still ongoing, officials believe that Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed paramilitary force, or an affiliated group, was responsible, according to two defense officials familiar with early intelligence.

US and South Korea Agree on New Cost-Sharing Deal for Troops

The Associated Press

The United States and South Korea have reached agreement in principle on a new arrangement for sharing the cost of the American troop presence, which is intended as a bulwark against the threat of North Korean aggression, both countries announced. The State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said on March 7 that the deal includes a “negotiated increase” in Seoul’s share of the cost, but it provided no details.

Military Officials Plan to Rename Vandenberg Air Force Base, More Launches in 2021

Santa Maria Times

More missile, satellite, and rocket launches are planned at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in 2021 than last year, and the installation will also officially change its name to Vandenberg Space Force Base. At least 12 launches are planned this year, including three Falcon-9 rockets and a Missile Defense Agency test, Col. David Rickards of the 30th Space Wing said March 4, as he delivered the annual State of Vandenberg Air Force Base address via Zoom.

IG: Pentagon Disregarded Auditors, Overpaid Contractors by as Much as $97M

Federal News Network

The Pentagon may have overpaid two of its biggest contractors by nearly $100 million because contract administrators failed to heed to the Defense Department’s own auditors’ warnings about potentially improper reimbursement claims, according to a new review by the Pentagon’s inspector general.

Esper, McMaster, Panetta Endorse 9/11-Style Commission to Investigate Jan. 6 Insurrection

Defense One

Two of former President Donald J. Trump’s top national security officials called for a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Mark T. Esper, one of Trump’s Defense Secretaries, and H.R. McMaster, one of his national security advisors, joined Leon E. Panetta, an Obama administration Defense Secretary and Central Intelligence Agency director, in calling for the panel during a virtual Reagan Institute event.

Wyoming Governor Quietly Mobilized Guard Troops in Cheyenne

The Associated Press

While the Wyoming National Guard was sending more than 100 troops to Washington, D.C., to help with security around President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January, Gov. Mark Gordon quietly mobilized dozens of Guard troops and others in case of violence at the state Capitol in Cheyenne.