Congress created exceptions to the law Dec. 14 to authorize a choice spot on the National Mall for a Global War on Terror Memorial to honor those who served in the nation's longest conflict, which is symbolically bookended by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the disastrous fall of Kabul, Afghanistan, in August. "Now we definitely have our work cut out for us," said former Army Capt. Marina Jackman, president of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation.
The Defense Secretary has appointed Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Davis to the grade of lieutenant general with assignment as inspector general of the Department of the Air Force.
U.S. Air Force Special Air Mission 50601 departed from Joint Base Andrews, Md., on the night of Dec. 9 with an ambitious journey ahead—an eight-day, around-the-world trip with America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken. But the diplomatic mission to Britain, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand would soon be upended by the global surge in coronavirus cases. At least three members of the traveling party tested positive for COVID-19 and forced the abrupt cancellation of the last stop and a frantic re-calculation of the remaining itinerary.
OPINION: Don’t Let Overly Restrictive Strike Policies Hamper the Fight Against the Islamic State and Al Qaeda
"In its over-the-horizon fight against terrorists in Afghanistan, should the U.S. impose policy restrictions beyond what the law requires as some essayists recently argued? Or should it not hamper commanders in determining how best to battle those who threaten the U.S. so long as the law of armed conflict is strictly followed? Allow me to lay out the law and the facts so you can decide for yourself," writes retired Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap Jr., former Air Force deputy judge advocate general and executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security at Duke Law.
With the Air Force aiming to develop, deploy, and maintain the new Ground Based Strategic Deterrent at a rapid pace starting in 2029 and lasting for decades, the need for a broad strategy encompassing cybersecurity, digital engineering, and other new technologies has never been greater, and that will require integrated support like never before.
An Air Force mission defense team demonstrated the ability to conduct near-real-time cyber threat analysis aboard an [MC-130J] for the first time earlier this year. It was executed by the 27th Special Operations Communications Squadron Mission Defense Team aboard an active MC-130J Commando II. It was the first time their capability was connected to an operational weapon system outside of the labs, according to an Air Force release.
The Air Force successfully dropped a cruise missile armed with a live warhead out of an MC-130J over the Gulf of Mexico on Dec.16, the Air Force Research Laboratory announced. The test at the Eglin Air Force Base Overwater Test Range in Florida was a demonstration of the Air Force’s Rapid Dragon program seeking to employ palletized weapon systems from military cargo aircraft. During the test flight, the Air Force Special Operations Command crew operating the MC-130J received new targeting data, which was then routed to the cruise missile flight test vehicle.
A Space Force effort to launch a dedicated cybersecurity testing satellite in 2023 will include a design modeled after the common 3U cubesats that weigh no more than nine pounds, “are very small, [and are] made up of various modules that weigh under five pounds,” Space Systems Command said Dec. 15.
In a factory in St. Louis that once helped launch the U.S. space program, the Air Force’s next generation of training aircraft is taking shape. Boeing’s T-7A Red Hawk is still years away from reaching initial operating capability. But during a Dec. 15 visit to the factory where the new plane is being assembled, Boeing officials were bullish on its future potential—not just as a trainer to teach new pilots, but also as a model for how to build future aircraft.
The Air Force Research Laboratory’s airborne alternative position, navigation, and timing system prototype reached three milestones during recent test flights onboard a T-38C supersonic aircraft in November. The PNT AgilePod prototype completed its first test on a high-dynamic-range platform, its first remote interfacing and alternative positioning data transmission, and its first demonstration of overland and overwater transition operations, AFRL said.
The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress just passed and now awaits the President’s signature, adds more than $645 million to Defense Department space programs above the Biden administration’s request, analysts estimated. “Space industry leaders on the whole should be pleased with the NDAA,” said a Dec. 16 report by the consulting firm Avascent. The President’s budget request for fiscal 2022 includes $15.3 billion for procurement, research, and development of space systems and technologies, an increase of 13.8 percent above what Congress appropriated in 2021. The NDAA authorizes a $645.7 million increase, 4.2 percent more than the President’s request and 18.6 percent more than 2021 appropriations.
The spouse of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Sharene Brown, has announced a Five & Thrive initiative, which increases focus and attention on the top five quality-of-life challenges military families face. The challenges—child care, education, health care, housing, and spouse employment—are directly tied to military family readiness, resilience, and retention of the force. These five areas were selected based on feedback from military families and surveys conducted by Blue Star Families, Military OneSource, the Military Family Advisory Network, and other organizations.
Click through 80 of the best photos of the year of the Defense Department and its people through the eyes of military photographers.