‘They Want to Make Sure Their Loved Ones are Not Forgotten:’ Organizers Feel Urgency to Establish Global War on Terrorism Memorial
When 13 U.S. service members were killed in a bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan on Aug. 26, Americans across the country found ways to pay tribute. The instinct to gather and memorialize is natural, said Marina Jackman, president of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation. And she argued it’s past time America had a dedicated place to honor veterans and service members of the Global War on Terrorism.
President Joe Biden on Sept. 9 announced sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant. The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. Biden also signed an executive order to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government—with no option to test out.
Air Force leaders are promising a return to a Cold War posture opposite China and Russia, hoping for a reprieve from the counterterrorism operations of the past two decades as America winds down its presence in Afghanistan. The Indo-Pacific and Europe are often spotlighted as the central battleground for civil, military, and economic competition with China and Russia. But conversations with air commanders around the world show how the rivalry is shaping operations in their own backyards, from U.S. support for foreign troops to learning to deploy from bare fields.
The ultimate winner of two decades of war in Afghanistan is likely China. The aircraft and armored vehicles left behind when U.S. forces withdrew will give China—through their eager partners, the Taliban—a broad window into how the U.S. military builds and uses some of its most important tools of war. Expect the Chinese military to use this windfall to create—and export to client states—a new generation of weapons and tactics tailored to U.S. vulnerabilities, said several experts who spent years building, acquiring, and testing some of the equipment that the Taliban now controls.
Over the next year, the Air Force plans to shift its focus on tech development and experimentation efforts toward capabilities that can be rapidly transitioned to operators at U.S. Space and Indo-Pacific Commands, according to Preston Dunlap, chief architect for the Air Force and Space Force.
A growing crop of startups in the space industry are developing propulsion systems for small satellites. The demand is driven by commercial constellations, but propulsion suppliers also see opportunities in the military market as the Pentagon shifts focus to small satellites. Organizations such as the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Space Force’s SpaceWERX are increasingly interested in smallsat propulsion technologies as the military tries to build more resilient constellations, said Chris Carella, executive vice president of Benchmark Space Systems, a startup based in Vermont.
Northrop Grumman has designed a new autonomous aircraft that it hopes will be the answer to the Air Force’s search for the next generation of drones that could accompany manned planes into battle. Unveiled Sept. 8 at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., the Model 437—a stealthy jet with a 3,000-mile range—is a collaboration between the company and Scaled Composites. Scaled Composites also revealed a new variant of its Model 401 technology demonstrator that can be operated in autonomous mode.
“As a cargo aircraft jettisons flares as a countermeasure against any would-be missile attacks at Kabul’s international airport, the fragility of America’s single line of communication stands in contrast to the sea of Taliban flags encircling the airport. Here is America trying to extricate itself from 20 years of nation building in order to transition to strategic competition with China and others, and learning an important lesson for gray zone competition—the vulnerability of America’s air mobility lifeline,” writes Phillip Surrey, a senior intelligence analyst with 19 years' experience in air mobility.
Bell has provided The War Zone with exclusive details about its recently revealed concepts for future High-Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing, or HSVTOL, aircraft. While being able both to take off and land vertically using rotors and to fly at jet speeds in forward flight sounds far-fetched, it turns out that there is decades of elaborate risk reduction work and general research already done on this exact concept. As such, actually realizing such a capability set may be far less of a technological revolution than one would think at first glance.
Defenders from across the Total Force are currently beta testing a new Air Force Security Forces weapons qualification course designed to enhance proficiency across the career field. Developed by the Air Force Security Forces Center, a primary subordinate unit of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, the proposed course will seamlessly instruct, test, and evaluate weapons training for the more than 38,000 Active duty, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and government civilian Security Forces members.
SpaceX is gearing up for its first purely commercial human spaceflight, but many details about the mission remain unclear. A SpaceX Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch a Crew Dragon spacecraft on the Inspiration4 mission next week. Four people will fly on the mission, announced in February, spending three days in orbit but not docking to the International Space Station.