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Afghan National Army soldiers stand in formation. The Pentagon has launched an investigation into the procurement of the ANA’s woodland camouflage uniforms. Defense Department photo

DOD IG Launches Criminal Investigation of Afghan Uniform Contract


The Department of Defense Inspector General has launched a criminal investigation into the procurement of Afghan National Army uniforms, the Pentagon’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan reconstruction announced Tuesday. The investigation follows a June SIGAR report that found the ANA uniforms contract—which used a proprietary camouflage pattern designed for woodland environments—had cost the US $28 million in unnecessary funds already and would likely cost $71 million more over the next 10 years.

Read the full report by Wilson Brissett.

US Ship Fires Warning Shots at Iranian Vessel

A US Navy ship on Tuesday fired warning shots at an Iranian vessel in the Persian Gulf after it ignored repeated efforts to get it to stop. The USS Thunderbolt fired shots at the vessel as it approached at a high rate of speed, ignoring radio calls, flares, and the ship’s whistle, Reuters reported. The Iranian vessel, reportedly a part of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was armed though its weapons were unmanned, a defense official told the news agency. It was the latest of multiple incidents involving US ships and Iranian vessels in the region, including the January 2016 incident when US Navy sailors were briefly detained by Iran. — Brian Everstine

GI Bill Reform Passes House While Dems Block VA, Intel Bills

The House unanimously passed legislation to reform and expand benefits for the GI Bill on Monday in a 405-0 vote. The bill eliminates a time limit on use of benefits and expands the program to Purple Heart recipients, reservists, and surviving dependents. The bill will next be considered by the Senate. On the same day, House Democrats defeated two separate bills related to defense matters. A Veterans’ Affairs bill, which would have shifted $2 billion into a Choice program allowing veterans to make use of private medical care, failed on a vote of 186-219, while an intelligence policy bill was voted down 163-241. Both bills were brought to the House floor without allowance for amendments. The VA bill was opposed by veterans’ groups because it would cut funding from other VA programs to cover the Choice shortfall. “The fact that Republican leadership is requiring offsets for direct patient care for veterans is troubling,” said Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), who led opposition to the bill, according to the Washington Post. Democrats opposed the intelligence bill on strictly procedural grounds. House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that members must have the opportunity to offer amendments that would improve the legislation. To rush the bill through is “unacceptable when critical intelligence decisions are being made that impact America’s national security,” she said in a letter to Democrats, the Associated Press reported. — Wilson Brissett

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Another Lawmaker Takes Aim at Space Corps Proposal

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) filed an amendment with the House Rules Committee on Tuesday seeking to block the formation of a separate Space Corps within the Air Force. Perry’s amendment would alter a House appropriations bill (H.R. 3219) which provides funding for a broad range of defense activities. The amendment, in its entirety, states that “none of the funds made available by this act may be used to establish a Space Corps.” The Rules Committee would have to agree to allow Perry’s amendment for floor debate before the House would have a chance to vote on its inclusion in the bill. Another attempt to block the Space Corps proposal was disallowed by the Rules Committee earlier this month during debate over the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have both publicly stated their opposition to the formation of a separate Space Corps. — Wilson Brissett

Air Force Bringing Storefront Innovation to Las Vegas

The Air Force is launching a new effort to make it easier for small businesses and entrepreneurs to bring good ideas to the service. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced the new initiative, called AFwerX, during a visit to Nellis AFB, Nev., on Friday. A storefront near the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, will be the first AFwerX project. With an opening targeted for early next year, the office will provide an accessible location for individuals and organizations to offer creative solutions minus the significant challenges of Department of Defense bureaucracy. “We’re changing the way we do business with innovators,” Wilson said in a press release. “Bringing an AFwerX storefront to Vegas allows us to take advantage of Nevada’s emerging idea marketplace.” The DOD itself has sought to take better advantage of commercial innovation in the last few years, establishing Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX) programs in Silicon Valley, Boston, and Austin, Texas, since 2015 to facilitate collaboration between cutting edge technology firms and DOD entities. “We have to move faster and be smarter,” Wilson said. “We know there are people out there with answers to problems, with ideas and innovations, and we are going to look at what they have and help them help us.”

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An F-15C from the 159th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron takes off from Campia Turzii, Romania, on July 18. Air Force photo by TSgt. Chad Warren

Florida Guard F-15s Train in Romania

Airmen and F-15Cs from the Florida Air National Guard are in Romania to train and provide NATO security. The 159th Fighter Squadron from Jacksonville deployed to Campia Turzii in late June for a European Theater Security Package rotation, where they are training alongside Romanian MiG-21s. “This gives us the opportunity (to) train together so in the future we will be better prepared to handle any security challenges or humanitarian challenges that may come up, particularly with the relationship that we establish over our time here,” 159th EFS Commander Lt. Col. George Downs said in a release. USAF units regularly deploy to Eastern European nations as part of the ongoing Operation Atlantic Resolve. — Brian Everstine

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RADAR SWEEP


—RAF Typhoons in Romania scrambled in response to Russian bombers flying near NATO air space. RAF release

—Remotely piloted aircraft ground crews at Holloman AFB, N.M., transition to newer ground control stations. Holloman release

—NASA releases rare videos of SR-71 flight operations. Task & Purpose

—The 36th Fighter Squadron at Osan AB, South Korea, celebrates its 100 year anniversary. Osan release

— Chinese President Xi Jinping touts his country's newer, more nimble military. Reuters

—The Taliban claims credit for a bombing in Pakistan that killed 26. The Associated Press

—NATO is offering to broker a visit between German and Turkish representatives. Reuters