Petraeus Warns ‘Battle After the Battle’ May Be Harder Than Defeat of ISIS in Iraq

The “battle after the battle” in Iraq, or the “competition for political power and resources after the defeat of ISIS,” may be more difficult than the defeat of ISIS itself, retired Army Gen. David Petraeus said Saturday, the same day the Iraqi government declared victory against the terrorist organization. Read the full story by Jennifer Hlad, who was reporting from the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain.

Iraqi Government, Putin Both Declare Victory Over ISIS, “Terrorists”

The Iraqi military on Sunday held a parade in Baghdad to declare victory over ISIS, as Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Syria to announce a victory over “terrorists.” Like the US, however, Russian troops will maintain a presence inside Syria for the foreseeable future. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

North Korea Developing Biological Weapons

US and allied intelligence officials believe North Korea has accelerated its efforts to build biological weapons, the Washington Post reported Sunday. While Pyongyang has possessed smallpox and anthrax pathogens for years, the intelligence community considered its biological weapons program to be lacking in resources and developing slowly. Now, it appears North Korea has developed the capacity to produce weaponized biological agents in the tons and has operational laboratories working on genetic modifications as well. Pyongyang is also actively looking to place its scientists in advanced microbiology programs overseas. Intelligence officials remain unsure exactly how much technical progress the regime has made on the biological weapons front because much of the program is hidden within existing commercial infrastructure in North Korea. The question of how quickly Kim Jong Un could deploy a biological weapon capability has recently taken on more urgency for US military planners, as growing tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program has raised the possibility of war on the Korean peninsula.

Boeing Gets $46 Million for AWACS Upgrades

Boeing on Friday received a $46 million contract modification to begin low-rate initial production of a flight deck upgrade for the Air Force’s E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft. The contract, which includes $4 million at the time of the award, is for Boeing’s diminished manufacturing sources replacement of avionics for global operations and navigation program, or DRAGON. As part of the program, the aircraft will receive five full-color digital displays with customizable navigation, engine, and radar data, Boeing spokesman Ben Davis said in a statement to Air Force Magazine. The upgraded cockpit allows the Air Force to reduce E-3 aircrew from four airmen to three. “By switching 1970s-era systems with modern, off the shelf digital avionics, the modernization resolves recurring issues with out-of-production parts,” Davis said. Boeing is providing kits to the Air Force, and installation will be done at Tinker AFB, Okla. Work is scheduled to be completed by 2022. —Brian Everstine

Withdraw, Retaliate, or Sit Tight? CRS Outlines Options on INF Treaty

The US has an array of options for responding to Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and all of them are tricky, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

Pennsylvania Guard KC-135 Helps Locate Fishermen Capsized Near Guam

A Pennsylvania Air National Guard KC-135 deployed to the Pacific recently flew a different type of mission—helping rescue fisherman after their ship capsized near Guam. The aircraft and Guardsmen, deployed from the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Pittsburgh, were the first aircraft to locate the capsized fishing vessel about 900 miles southwest of Guam on Nov. 21, according to a 171st Air Refueling Wing release. The KC-135s were the only aircraft available that could quickly make the trip when the US Coast Guard requested assistance. The KC-135 flew low at 2,500 feet and located the boat, and two life rafts. The aircrew marked the location, and the fishermen were rescued. —Brian Everstine

Defense Department to Allow Transgender Recruits on Jan. 1

The Defense Department will allow transgender recruits to enlist in the military on Jan. 1, the Pentagon announced, even as the White House is pushing to ban the move. The Pentagon told the Associated Press that new guidelines will allow transgender recruits into service, but could disqualify potential recruits with gender dysphoria, a history of medical treatments, and those who recently underwent reconstruction. The Pentagon in 2016 ended a ban on transgender service members with an effective date of July 2017, however President Trump announced on Twitter in July that the Defense Department would not “accept or allow” transgender service members in “any capacity.” The formal order, issued in August, was challenged in court and two US district courts ruled against the ban and the government has appealed those decisions. —Brian Everstine

Orbital ATK Gets EELV Secondary Payload Adaptor Contract

The Air Force has awarded a contract to Orbital ATK for production of rideshare payload adaptors to be used in its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The Long Duration Propulsive EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) is a platform “positioned between the launch booster and a primary space vehicle” that will be “used to carry small payloads or deploy small satellites,” according to a company press release. Under the contract, Orbital ATK will produce the initial ESPA, plus two more systems. The award was the result of a competitive bid acquisition managed by the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center. —Wilson Brissett


—President Donald Trump on Monday signed a directive calling for the US to send astronauts back to the moon and eventually to Mars: NASA release.

—The Pacific Regional Training Center, which will train Pacific-based airmen for contingency operations and deployments, opened on Dec. 7. The $251 million project is the largest troop-built construction project in the Pacific the end of the Vietnam War: DOD release.

—Air Force officials say the service is not planning to bring back enlisted pilots. Instead, a program called Pilot Training Next, which was first unveiled via an unofficial Facebook page in late November, looks to study how airmen learn and the role technology plays in that process: Business Insider.