Ukraine’s Survival ‘In Danger’ if West Fails to Help, Austin Says

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III issued a grave warning March 19 of Ukraine’s chances in its war with Russia if the U.S. does not continue to provide military assistance. “Today, Ukraine's survival is in danger,” Austin told reporters. Austin's remarks came at a meeting of the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, with America placed in the awkward position of having no new aid of its own to pledge.

SOCOM Cuts Armed Overwatch Buy from 75 to 62 Aircraft

Budget documents indicate U.S. Special Operations Command is cutting back on its plans for Armed Overwatch, the rugged, lightweight, fixed-wing aircraft to support counterterrorism efforts in permissive airspace. According to SOCOM’s 2025 budget request released earlier this month, the combatant command is trimming its planned purchases of the Air Tractor-produced, L3Harris-modified OA-1K by 13 airframes, a 17 percent cut from the previous plan of a 75-aircraft fleet.

Radar Sweep

Congress Announces a Deal to Avoid a Shutdown, Resolving Homeland Security Dispute

NBC News

Congressional leaders and President Joe Biden announced a deal March 19 to fund the government ahead of a weekend deadline, breaking an impasse regarding money for the Department of Homeland Security, which had held up talks. Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) announced the DHS deal in a statement, saying it will allow Congress to finish funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in September. “House and Senate committees have begun drafting bill text to be prepared for release and consideration by the full House and Senate as soon as possible,” he said.

AC-130 Gunship’s Laser Weapon Cancelled, 105mm Howitzer May Be Removed

The War Zone

The U.S. Air Force has scrapped plans to flight test an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship armed with a laser directed energy weapon after years of delays. The Airborne High Energy Laser program for the AC-130J had for a time looked set to become the U.S. military's first operational aerial laser directed weapon. This all also comes amid a review of the AC-130J's current and future planned capabilities, which could see the gunships lose their 105mm howitzers, as part of a broader shift away from counter-insurgency operations to planning for a high-end fight.

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Oklahoma-Based Air Force Unit Reports Death of Group Commander

Stars and Strips

The commander of an air control group at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., has died, the Air Force announced late March 18. “It is with heavy hearts that today we report the loss of Col Bruce ‘Munch’ Avriett, the 552nd Air Control Group commander,” the 552nd Air Control Wing, which the group falls under, posted on its official Facebook page that day along with condolences to family and friends.

Air Force RFI Targets Engine Options for NGAS Tankers

Breaking Defense

The Air Force is interested in a “broad” range of engines that could potentially power its upcoming tanker fleet and has begun industry outreach to assess its options, according to a request for information (RFI) released by the service March 18. The RFI seeks input on the capabilities of existing engines and opportunities to scale them up, as well as the potential for introducing entirely new powerplants that would power the service’s planned future refuelers known as the Next Generation Air Refueling System (NGAS).

VA Plans to Cut 10,000 Jobs This Year on Medical Side of the House

Following a record hiring effort last year, the Department of Veterans Affairs needs to trim 10,000 full-time positions, mainly from its medical side, by 2025, officials said this month. VA officials said the reduction will largely be made through attrition—by not filling positions after employees depart or retire—and likely will primarily affect supervisory and support staff.

Ukraine’s Impossible Choice: Conceding Territory or Lives

The Wall Street Journal

Ukrainian leaders say every inch of territory is worth fighting for, but their military is worn down after a failed counteroffensive last year and with a much-needed additional aid package stuck in Congress. Russia, with a larger army and a war economy clunking into gear, is pressing forward against its smaller neighbor.

Pacific Force’s Wish List Seeks $11 Billion More Than Defense Proposal

Defense News

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is asking Congress for $11 billion more than the White House’s fiscal 2025 defense budget request, an amount that is three times greater than the wish list it submitted last year. Much of the money requested in the annual list, obtained by Defense News, would go toward constructing infrastructure to host U.S. forces in the region, classified space programs, munitions, and Guam defenses. The U.S. is aiming to bolster its presence in the region to deter China.

Pentagon’s Innovation Unit Steps Up Role in Space Force’s Responsive Launch Program


The Defense Innovation Unit, the Pentagon’s outpost in Silicon Valley tasked with integrating commercial tech into the military, is increasing its support of the Space Force’s efforts to shorten the time it takes to plan space missions. Maj. David Ryan, space portfolio program manager at the Defense Innovation Unit, said DIU is working with the Space Force’s Space Safari office to identify and select commercial providers for an upcoming responsive mission named Victus Haze.

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Generals Who Carried Out Biden’s Afghan Exit Face New GOP Scrutiny

The Washington Post

The top two generals who oversaw the deadly evacuation of Afghanistan faced renewed scrutiny March 19. Retired Gens. Mark A. Milley and Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, career military officers who served in senior roles under both presidents, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee as part of its oversight investigation. Both men said that while the military had built a plan to withdraw all U.S. troops, diplomats, citizens, and at-risk Afghanistan in 2021, President Joe Biden instead decided to leave open the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and withdraw the military, setting conditions for security to crumble with Americans still in harm’s way.

US Defense Modernization Gets a ‘D’ Grade in New Report as Tech Roadblocks Persist

Breaking Defense

A new report released March 19 gives the United States a “D” in defense modernization, the result of the Defense Department showing little improvement in transitioning the innovative gear from fledgling defense tech firms into mass-produced equipment available for battlefield use. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute released its second annual National Security Innovation Base report card, which assigns grades to key metrics tied to the Pentagon’s ability to leverage the work of the defense companies, startups, and research laboratories it depends on to develop leap-ahead technologies.

One More Thing

‘Ghosts’ of WWII To Be Honored with Congressional Gold Medal

Military Times

The seemingly phantom American “Ghost Army” was one of many problems plaguing the Wehrmacht in the summer of 1944. The Germans were not, as they believed, fighting a numerically superior American force, but battling artists, engineers, and inflatables. Now, after nearly a decade of research and grass-roots lobbying on their behalf, the masterful performers of the Ghost Army are slated to receive the Congressional Gold Medal.