Mattis: Diplomacy First, But Military is Ready on North Korea

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis affirmed on Wednesday that the US is committed to using diplomacy to respond to the North Korean nuclear threat, but military options are available and ready if diplomacy should fail. “We want to use diplomacy,” Mattis said, speaking to reporters en route to Seattle. Diplomacy is “succeeding in drawing the international community together and speaking with one voice” he added. China has unique economic influence on North Korea, and recent Trump administration efforts have focused on encouraging China to raise the pressure on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program. The goal of diplomacy, Mattis said, is “a denuclearized Korean peninsula.” If such efforts should ultimately fail, however, “of course there’s a military solution.” Mattis said the US has a variety of “multilateral military options” available, though he declined to offer specifics. “It is North Korea’s choice,” Mattis insisted. “Do you want a much better future, … or do you want a much worse future?”

OA-X Experiment: Not Just Testing Aircraft

The Air Force’s light attack experiment isn’t just a way to test multiple aircraft before a possible purchase, it’s a way to change how the service does acquisition. Read the full report by Brian Everstine.

Hackers Find 207 Vulnerabilities in USAF Sites

In a nearly one-month-long hacking competition, participants found 207 vulnerabilities across Air Force sites and systems. The military bug bounty program involved 272 vetted hackers managed by cybersecurity firm HackerOne. In an interview with Air Force Magazine, CEO Marten Mickos talked about Hack the Air Force, the latest military bug bounty program. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.

McCain Releases Strategy for Afghanistan

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a new strategy for the US war in Afghanistan on Thursday that calls for the deployment of an unspecified number of additional US troops and acknowledges the need for “an enduring US counterterrorism presence” in that country. The plan also calls for “strictly conditioning” US military and other assistance on “measurable progress” in achieving clearly defined “benchmarks” in Afghanistan. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

Iraqi Forces Advance on Remaining ISIS Stronghold

The US-led coalition estimates about 2,000 ISIS fighters remain in their last stronghold inside Iraq following the liberation of Mosul, while aircraft have continued to hit the group and its financial centers. Iraqi forces face a “difficult fight to root out ISIS from one of their last strongholds in Iraq” at Tal Afar, US Army Col. Ryan Dillon, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, said during a Thursday briefing. Aircraft with the coalition on Aug. 8 and 9 conducted multiple strikes in the city, destroying tactical units, ISIS-held buildings, vehicles, and a staging area, according to US Central Command. Within the past two weeks, the coalition has directly targeted ISIS financial centers in both Iraq and Syria, destroying financial headquarters and bulk cash depositories, Dillon said. The strikes are a push to limit the group’s ability to raise money, move its cash, and use its resources to pay its fighters, he said. Over the past three years, about 30 ISIS banks and tens of millions of dollars have been destroyed, according to the coalition. —Brian Everstine

AETC Rolls Out New Learning Model

Air Education and Training Command is rolling out a new “Continuum of Learning” model that has already shaped changes to the curriculum used at squadron officer school, a cyber transport course, and other programs. AETC leadership introduced the changes at a “leadership summit” last week that gathered wing commanders, command chiefs, and superintendents to familiarize them with the new approach. The Continuum of Learning model is expected to “transform our industrial-age pipeline production system into a more modern-age, learner-centric model,” said AETC commander Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson in a press release. He said one goal is to integrate more hands-on experience into training and education programs. In order to provide airmen with greater flexibility in meeting their training goals, the Air Force will also be making greater use of modularized learning, blended learning, on-command and on-demand learning, and competency-based learning. “I believe airmen will be impacted in a positive way,” said AETC command chief CMSgt. Juliet Gudge in the release.


—DIUx has been fully embraced by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and is currently working to develop a software tool to help US operators hit tricky “pop-up” targets in their wars against terrorists: Bloomberg.

—The 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., has retired its last HC-130P. The wing is scheduled to begin receiving replacement HC-130J aircraft in 2019: Patrick release.

—A report by the Government Accountability Office found that the Air Force reduced its number of musical bands from 23 to 14 between 2012 and 2016, while reducing the personnel assigned to bands by nearly 22 percent. Nonetheless, GAO found that the cost of operating all Air Force bands rose by $1.6 million over the same period: GAO report.