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​Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 13, 2017. DOD photo by Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith.

​Mattis Says US is “Not Winning” in Afghanistan

Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress Tuesday the US is “not winning the war” in Afghanistan. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused the Defense Department of having no strategy in the war, and blamed the Trump Administration’s lack of strategic clarity for inconsistent military funding from Congress. Mattis accepted the criticism but said that Congress was also to blame, having “sidelined itself from its active constitutional oversight role” by refusing to repeal the Budget Control Act of 2011 and its sequestration spending caps. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.
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A B-1B Lancer from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., a B-2 Spirit from Whiteman AFB, Mo., and a B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale AFB, La., are parked on the ramp at RAF Fairford, U.K., June 12, 2017. Air Force photo by A1C Randahl Jenson.

All Three Bombers Simultaneously Deployed to Europe

All three of the Air Force’s bombers are deployed to Europe for “theater assurance and deterrence” in the region, marking “the first time in history all three of Air Force Global Strike Command’s strategic bomber aircraft are simultaneously in the European Theatre,” according to a release. Two B-2s touched down at RAF Fairford, England, on June 9, joining three B-52Hs and three B-1Bs already deployed to the area. The B-52s, from Barksdale AFB, La., and the B-1s, from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., are participating in exercises Saber Strike and BALTOPS across Europe. The B-2s are not flying in the exercises, but are “in support of recurring bomber assurance and deterrence operations,” according to a US Air Forces in Europe release. “The bomber assurance and deterrence missions these three aircraft are supporting are key to reinforcing our commitment to our allies in NATO—in a very visible, very tangible way—that we stand shoulder to shoulder with them, no matter what,” 322nd Air Expeditionary Group Commander Col. Jared Kennish said in the release.

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House Democrats Ask Trump to Reduce Nuclear Arsenal

A group of more than 40 House Democrats sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday asking him to work towards a global reduction in nuclear forces as his administration completes its Nuclear Posture Review. The letter, signed by House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), argues that “nuclear weapons have little bearing on immediate threats—like fighting extremism and combating cyberwarfare,” and asks Trump to join the “tradition” started by President Ronald Reagan to “prevent the use and spread of nuclear weapons and materials.” The lawmakers ask Trump to state unequivocally that he “would not use nuclear weapons first in a conflict or against non-nuclear adversaries” and that he does “not seek to launch a new nuclear arms race.” The letter also asks Trump to extend the New START treaty and work to bring Russia back into compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. The Democrats also take aim at US nuclear forces, asking Trump to reconsider the Department of Defense’s “$1 trillion-over-30-years” plan to modernize the nuclear triad. Instead the group urges Trump to “prioritize finite defense dollars on securing and hardening command and control systems.” —Wilson Brissett

Report: Drone Strikes Increasing Under Trump, More Transparency Needed

The Trump administration has conducted about four times as many drone strikes a month in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan as the Obama administration. The US has also been consistently secret in disclosing its drone operations, though there has been some increase in transparency, according to a new report from the Columbia University Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies. “Improved transparency is not a panacea for the many concerns related to the US use of force abroad,” the report states. “But transparency matters. It matters for those injured and the families of those killed, compliance with international law, protecting the rule of law, democratic accountability, harm deterrence, and US leadership and credibility.” The report calls on the US to take multiple steps to be more transparent in its drone operations, including providing more information on the CIA’s decision-making process and to provide more post-strike measures to ensure accountability. —Brian Everstine


GAO Identifies Five Major Challenges for DOD

The Government Accountability Office has identified five major problem areas for the Department of Defense in a new report released Tuesday. GAO says the key DOD struggles are in readiness, threats in the cyberspace domain, controlling escalating costs of weapons systems and medical care, managing human capital, and improving the efficiency of business practices. The report criticizes the Air Force for developing uninformed divestment strategies and failing to update pilot requirements to meet the needs of a growing operational tempo. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett.

Grandson of Enola Gay Pilot Flies B-29

The grandson of famed B-29 Enola Gay pilot took to the sky in a refurbished Superfortress on June 9. Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets IV, commander of the 509th Bomb Wing, flew in “Doc,” a refurbished B-29, at McConnell AFB, Kan. Tibbets’s grandfather is retired Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets Jr., who flew the Enola Gay on the mission to drop an atomic bomb on Japan to help end World War II. The flight was the second time Tibbets IV has flown a B-29, the first was in 1998 with his grandfather, according to a McConnell release. “The only time I ever flew with my grandfather was with Fifi,” Tibbets IV said in the release. “He had given up aviation and had not flown in any aircraft in a very long time. He and I got to fly Fifi together, which was awesome. It was a great opportunity for me to be with him.”

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RADAR SWEEP


—President Donald Trump is expected to award his first Medal of Honor to former Specialist Five James C. McCloughan for his conspicuous gallantry during a 48-hour battle near Don Que, Vietnam, on May 13-15, 1969: USA Today

—Vice President Mike Pence visits Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga.: USAF release

—The Air Force has realigned the 319th Air Base Wing at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., from Air Mobility Command to Air Combat Command. The hosts Active Duty RQ-4 Global Hawks: USAF release

—Boeing to streamline its defense and space sectors in an effort to become more competitive: Boeing release