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​​Airmen celebrate winning top honors from Air Force Global Strike Command's biannual competition, whose award ceremony took place at Barksdale AFB, La. Air Force photo

Global Strike Command Names Its Best

The 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, La., took the top spot in Global Strike Command’s biannual contest for its best units. The Global Strike Challenge included competitions to find the best bomb, ICBM, security forces, and helicopter units, among others. Read the full story by Gideon Grudo


Pilot Shortage is Even Worse Than Announced

The Air Force’s pilot shortage is even worse than service secretary Heather Wilson reported last week. The actual number, including remotely piloted aircraft pilots along with flyers in the Guard and Reserve is about 2,000. Wilson, speaking at a Pentagon briefing last week, said the number was 1,926. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak

McCain, Warren Grill Policy Nominee over Lockheed Ties

The president’s pick to lead Pentagon policy faced persistent questions about possible conflicts of interest during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday, prompting the committee to hold off on voting on the nomination until the nominee, John Rood, could further explain his positions. Read the full story by Wilson Brissett


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DOD Denies Ramping Up Operations in Somalia

Pentagon officials on Thursday claimed there has not been an increase in US operations or presence inside Somalia, as aircraft have flown several airstrikes within a short amount of time targeting Al Shabaab and ISIS inside that country. A US aircraft on Tuesday hit a target northwest of Mogadishu, the third such strike within a week. Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, said during a Thursday briefing that there has not been a “ramp up” of attacks in Somalia, but instead US Africa Command develops a “lot of targets in these places” which takes time. This could mean that multiple targets are hit within a short window as they are available, he said. Also, sometimes a strike produces movement of forces and additional targets become available. The US currently has about 400 troops inside Somalia, helping government forces in their fight against Al Shabaab militants. —Brian Everstine

House Leaders Worried About Overuse of Special Operations Forces

The US may be relying too heavily on its special operations forces around the world, the leaders of the House Armed Services Committee agreed on Wednesday. “I do worry about overuse of SOF,” HASC chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said. “They are increasingly an organization of choice because SOF is very effective,” but there is also a danger that US policy overseas is hamstrung by making that choice too often. “I worry about that,” Thornberry said. “I think we are asking too much of our special operators,” HASC ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said. “We can’t have [SOF] doing everything,” he added. In order to win the long-term war against terrorism, “we need a whole of government approach,” Smith said, “which too often we don’t have because the rest of government doesn’t have any money, so it falls to the Defense Department.” Extremism thrives in places where there “people who have no hope, people who don’t think they’re going to be able to provide for their families,” Smith said. In such an environment, SOF cannot accomplish the mission on its own. “That is where we need USAID, we need the State Department,” he said. —Wilson Brissett

Editorial: A Simple Lesson From 26 Murders in Texas

Former airman Devin Kelley’s brutal rampage at a Texas church is a reminder that USAF must perform routine bureaucratic tasks with the same precision it shows at war. Read the full editorial by Air Force Magazine Editor in Chief Adam Hebert

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RADAR SWEEP

—An investigation in the New York Times alleges the tally of civilian deaths in US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria is 31 times the official count. New York Times Magazine

—Multiple Air National Guard units flew MQ-9s in Operation Combat Hammer, the first operational air-to-ground weapons evaluation for Guard Reaper units. Air National Guard release

—F-16s from the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano AB, Italy, wrapped up exercise Blue Flag 2017 on Nov. 16 at Uvda AFB, Israel. Air Force release

—US Cyber Command in late October held its first industry day, emphasizing the need for companies to help keep the US safe. Defense Department release

—Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, F-15Es recently flew alongside F-22s and F-35s as part of Checkered Flag 18-1 at Tyndall AFB, Fla. Air Force release