Launching the 1st Air Commandos: An Interview with 103-Year-Old Dick Cole

Retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole, now 103, best known as the last surviving member of the famous Doolittle Raiders, later flew “the hump”—the Himalaya Mountains—supplying US troops in China during World War II. In a rare interview about the 1st Air Commando Group, Cole told Air Force Magazine about the first-ever aerial invasion, flying troops and supplies into Burma from March 1944 to November 1945, and the unique precursor to today’s Air Force special operators. The Air Commando Group included fighters, bombers, light planes, transports, and gliders, creating an “Aluminum Highway” and bypassing Japanese troops. Watch the video by Mike Tsukamoto.

Abrams Assumes Command of USFK, Vowing to Maintain “Fight Tonight” Capability

Army Gen. Robert Abrams assumed command of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, and US Forces Korea from Gen. Vincent Brooks on Wednesday, vowing to maintain a high-state of readiness on the Peninsula. The change of command comes amid a renewed push to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, which has led to the cancellation of several major exercises between the US and South Korea. US leaders have said the exercise pause was meant as a demonstration of goodwill to allow diplomatic efforts with North Korea to move forward. “When Vince first took command,” in April 2016, “we saw an increasingly aggressive North Korea, with provocative rhetoric and a series of missile and nuclear tests, to include intercontinental ballistic missiles that threatened not just our South Korean allies, but were a direct threat to the United States homeland,” said Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of US Indo-Pacific Command, during the ceremony. “Vince responded through a series of training events that built interoperability between our forces, ensuring shared doctrine, tactics, procedures, and systems that allow us to operate seamlessly together.” Abrams promised to continue efforts, saying that by staying united, both sides gain strength. “The current conditions on the Peninsula are as dynamic as ever. As we pursue opportunities, it is our military responsibility to maintain a high level of readiness and ‘Fight Tonight’ capability so that we can not only deter, but defeat external threats if called upon,” said Abrams. —Amy McCullough

F-35 Lightning: Airmen Involved in Strike While Working on Eglin Flight Line

Two airmen from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill AFB, Utah, were involved in “a nearby indirect lightning strike” on Nov. 7 while working on an F-35 at Eglin AFB, Fla., 53rd Wing public affairs chief Maj. Ashley Conner told Air Force Magazine Thursday. The Utah-based squadron is at Eglin to take part in Combat Hammer, a quarterly exercise hosted by the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron in which airmen evaluate whether “precision-guided air-to-ground weapons” are reliable, maintainable, sustainable, and accurate. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

Former Army Secretary, AMC Boss Appointed to National Commission on Military Aviation Safety

House Armed Services Committee leaders said they plan to appoint a former Army Secretary and a former commander of Air Mobility Command to a commission tasked with investigating the underlying causes behind a recent rash of deadly aircraft mishaps. Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) will name Pete Geren to the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety. Geren served in a variety of senior roles within the Defense Department between 2001-2009, including Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Undersecretary of the Army, and Army Secretary. HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) will appoint retired USAF Gen. Raymond Johns, who served as commander of AMC before retiring in January 2013. During his career, Johns also served as the director of mobility forces for operations in Bosnia and oversaw strategic airlift in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act established the commission and tasked the chairman and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to each appoint one member. President Donald Trump will appoint four members. —Amy McCullough


Don’t Stand in Line: TSA Precheck Open to Military, DOD Civilians

Service members are trusted to defend the nation, surely they can be trusted when boarding a plane. DOD News

Pentagon Drops ‘Operation Faithful Patriot’ As Name of Military Mission at Border

The Pentagon is no longer referring to the U.S. military mission at the U.S.-Mexico border as “Operation Faithful Patriot,” a Defense Department spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday. Pentagon officials now refer to the deployment of more than 7,000 active duty troops as “border support,” Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis told The Hill.

Defense Ministry: Multinational Inspection Team of US, Canada, and Italy Working in Ukraine

A multinational inspection team of the United States, Canada and Italy is working in the territory of Ukraine in the period from November 5 to November 13, in order to conduct two joint training missions of observation flights using the observation aircraft of the U.S. Air Force OS-135B under the Open Skies Treaty, the Verification Office of the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has reported. Kyiv Post

Reservists Have Until Dec. 31 to Opt into Blended Retirement System

Reserve Citizen Airmen eligible to opt in to the Blended Retirement System have until Dec. 31 to make the election in myPay. AFRC News

US Air Force to Miss FAA Deadline for C-17 Traffic Tracking Upgrades

The USAF expects to miss a key 1 January 2020 deadline for upgrading C-17 aircraft with traffic tracking upgrades. Jane’s