US, Japan Pledge Close Cooperation in Face of North Korea Threat

The increasing rate of missile tests and threats from North Korea has prompted the US and Japan to pledge to work more closely together for deterrence and mutual protection. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.

Dunford: Exercises With South Korea Will Continue

The US is not currently considering a Chinese proposal that would see North Korea halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for the cancellation of annual military drills between the US and Republic of Korea forces, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said Wednesday. That doesn’t surprise Bruce Bennett of the RAND Corporation, who called Beijing’s suggestion, “an extraordinarily biased proposal.” Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.

US Service Member Killed in Afghanistan

A Utah Army National Guard soldier was killed Wednesday during a partner operation with Afghan forces in Eastern Afghanistan. US and Afghan forces were battling ISIS-Khorasan when the service member was killed, with additional forces injured during the operation. The soldier had not yet been named as of Thursday morning. “My heart aches for the loss and sacrifice of our members and their families,” Utah National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton said in a news release. US and Afghan forces have been intensely fighting ISIS-K in the Nangarhar Province this year. The leader of ISIS-K was killed in a May raid in the province, and it is the location where a USAF aircraft dropped the GBU-42/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb on a network of tunnels in April. The latest casualty is the 10th US service member killed in Afghanistan so far in 2017. —Brian Everstine

Mattis, Dunford Join Chorus Condemning Racism Following Charlottesville

The top military civilian and uniformed officer joined the service Chiefs in condemning racism following Sunday’s attack by a purported white nationalist that killed one and injured 19 in Charlottesville, Va. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, who is traveling in China, said he is “very saddened by the events there and the loss of life of the young lady who was hit by a vehicle. I can absolutely and unambiguously tell you there is no place—no place—for racism and bigotry in the US military or in the United States as a whole,” according to a Pentagon release. All four service Chiefs and the head of the National Guard Bureau this week released statements condemning the incident in Charlottesville and condemning racism. When asked about these statements on Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said his service Chiefs are leaders of diverse forces and the US military is playing “on the same team” on the battlefield. —Brian Everstine

Three Strikes Target Al Shabaab in Somalia

Three US strikes in Somalia killed seven Al Shabaab fighters, part of the continued increase in operations against militants inside that country. The strikes were conducted between Wednesday and Thursday in coordination with Somali forces and targeted Al Shabaab positions in Jilib, about 200 miles southwest of Mogadishu, US Africa Command said in a statement. US aircraft have conducted airstrikes in the country regularly, most recently in late July when an airstrike hit an Al Shabaab troop concentration. There is a contingent of about 50 special operations troops stationed in Somalia to help the Somali military. —Brian Everstine

Building Trust into Autonomous Systems

In its ongoing efforts to improve the autonomous systems that the US military is increasingly reliant upon, DARPA is now focusing on improving the ability of operators to trust driverless vehicles and remotely piloted aircraft to perform according to design expectations. The Department of Defense’s research agency announced Wednesday it is launching a new Assured Autonomy project to make unmanned systems more predictable. The problem DARPA is tackling, according to program manager Sandeep Neema, is that “assurance approaches today are predicated on the assumption that the systems, once deployed, do not learn and evolve.” Neema wants to create software tools that can make operations more predictable even in learning-enabled systems. DARPA held a “proposer’s day” for the new program on Tuesday in Arlington, Va. The event announcement invited potential industry partners to brainstorm possibilities for the creation of “a set of publicly available software tools integrated into design toolchains for use in commercial and defense sectors.” Such software would help autonomous systems identify deviations from expected performance and even self-correct to better meet mission goals.

Maxwell Launches Immersive Flight Commander Shortcourse

In order to broaden the reach of its leadership training efforts, Maxwell AFB, Ala., has introduced a new two-day, immersive Flight Leader Course. In coordination with Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s effort to revitalize squadrons, the new short course is aimed at including noncommissioned officers and Air Force civilians in the kind of flight leadership training program typically reserved for company grade officers. The new course, which launched in June, teaches participants about the military and civilian promotion systems, airman readiness programs, legal matters, and unit discipline. Based on a similar integration effort undertaken by Air University last year, Col. Eric Shafa, commander of the 42nd Air Base Wing, pioneered the new course. “After seeing what Air University did, along with the Air Force’s priority on revitalizing the squadron,” he was inspired to create “a single flight leader course” that was able to meet “the professional development demands of our company grade officers, as well as our civilian and enlisted leaders,” Shafa said in a press release. The next offering of the new course is scheduled for November.



—The Air Force is preparing for the next X-37B launch. The upcoming mission, which is slated for early September, according to media reports, is known as Orbital Test Vehicle-5 and it will lift off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida:

—The Air Force Academy’s a cappella group has advanced to the semifinals of NBC’s America’s Got Talent: Task and Purpose.