Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy kicked off a quick visit to Washington on Dec. 11, warning in a speech at a defense university that Russia may be fighting in Ukraine but its “real target is freedom” in America and around the world. He also issued a personal plea for Congress to break its deadlock and approve continued support for Ukraine. His time in Washington, which will include meetings Tuesday at the White House and with Congress, is part of a last-minute push by the Biden administration to persuade lawmakers to pass a supplemental funding bill, as officials warn that the money for Ukraine is running out.
Since its inception four years ago, the U.S. Space Force has faced congressional scrutiny and received numerous directives to transform the military’s space capabilities at warp speed. Lawmakers have pointed to delays and cost overruns plaguing legacy space programs and have called on Space Force leaders to take swift action to deliver the next generation of satellites, weapon systems and infrastructure seen as vital to the projection of unrivaled space dominance.
The U.S. must dominate in space and the technologies deployable there to maintain an advantage in future wars, according to Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Matthew Glavy. Space-based capabilities already include an array of technologies such as sensing and spying satellites, communications relays and navigation aids used by combatants on the ground, at sea and in the air. The Space Force was established years ago, as well, a sign that the U.S. Department of Defense is taking the extraterrestrial more seriously.
The Pentagon’s policy shop is experiencing another shakeup, this time with its number two official stepping down, the department announced Dec. 11. Mara Karlin—tapped as the assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities in 2021, and now performing the duties of deputy undersecretary of defense for policy—is departing her post next week for academia.
The latest version of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-Based Interceptor for homeland missile defense intercepted an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile in test Dec. 11. The GBI, which is part of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system designed to defeat possible intercontinental ballistic missile attacks from North Korea and Iran, was launched at Vandenberg Space Force, California. The GMD system is made up of GBIs, the majority of which are positioned in underground silos at Fort Greely, Alaska.
Beginning next year, the U.S. military is expected to screen all potential recruits for cardiac anomalies under a new program designed to reduce deaths at boot camp and beyond. The current version of the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, expected to pass Congress this month, requires the Defense Department to launch a pilot program by next October to give electrocardiograms, also known as ECGs or EKGs, to anyone who undergoes a military accession screening.
An upcoming wargame at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command will test zero-trust, the network-security approach that the Pentagon is betting can keep enemies at bay, keep allies from accessing certain secrets, and keep troops connected—even in combat.
Members of Congress want the Pentagon to do a feasibility study and cost-benefit analysis of the space functions conducted by the Air National Guard—and the possibility of moving those missions to the Space Force or creating a Space National Guard. Under the directive, which was included in the compromise draft of the fiscal 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, the secretary defense must conduct a study “to assess the feasibility and advisability of transferring all covered space functions of the National Guard to the Space Force,” according to the bill text.
The Belgian Air Force was officially presented its first F-35A at an event in Texas on Dec. 10, in what the service called a “crucial advancement” for America’s NATO ally. “The introduction of the F-35 within the Belgian Air Force will enable us to continue to fulfil all our missions in the coming decades, in cooperation with our allies and partners in NATO, the EU and beyond,” Chief of Defence for the Belgian Armed Forces, Adm. Michel Hofman, said in a release from F-35 maker Lockheed Martin.
Since 2009, Indian and American teams have scoured the mountains in India's north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, looking for the wreckage and remains of lost crews of hundreds of planes that crashed here over 80 years ago. Some 600 American transport planes are estimated to have crashed in the remote region, killing at least 1,500 Airmen and passengers during a remarkable and often-forgotten 42-month-long World War II military operation in India. Among the casualties were American and Chinese pilots, radio operators, and soldiers.