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Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson speaks Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California. Screenshot photo

SECAF: Building a Strong Air Force Requires Public Awareness, Commitment to Funding

The greatest threat to the US military and the greater national security is an erosion of public awareness of the importance of funding a strong defense while the Pentagon pushes to implement a new strategy that requires investment, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said Saturday. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Kentucky Guardsmen Get Bronze Stars for Fights in Afghanistan, Against ISIS

Five special tactics airmen with the Kentucky Air National Guard recently received Bronze Star awards, including one with Valor, for actions in both Afghanistan and against ISIS in Iraq during a ceremony Nov. 17 in Louisville. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Elmendorf Avoids Serious Damage After 7.2 Earthquake

JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, avoided serious damage though it is still assessing the destruction caused by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Friday afternoon with its epicenter near the base. The earthquake caused large damage to roads and some structures in and around nearby Anchorage, though the base said in a series of updates that the quake did not seriously impact the base. "I've been out to assess the installation — from work centers to the Joint Military Mall, and was extremely proud to see our JBER team helping one another to recover our community back to normal," Col. Patricia Csànk, commander of the 673d Air Base Wing, said in a statement. "Together, we've carried on our mission while keeping people safe and bringing the base fully back online. Team JBER is safe, secure, and we are still ready." Immediately following the earthquake, the base shut off water to Elmendorf, there was reported power outages, and base access was limited to those with immediate needs. —Brian Everstine​

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US Effort in Afghanistan Still Pushing Toward Taliban Reconciliation

The US-led effort is continuing to pressure the Taliban toward peace talks, and while the group has continued its momentum across Afghanistan, there is still a "political resolution" possible to end the war, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said. Speaking on Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in California, Mattis said it is "very clear that the lives of the Afghan people are of no interest" to the Taliban, so they are using bombs to "try to terrorize people into dominating them." The US will continue to stand with the 41-nation coalition, "the largest wartime coalition in modern history," to push the Taliban toward reconciliation by getting them to break with Al Qaeda, stop killing Afghan people, and live by the constitution, he said. Until that happens, the US cannot leave the war. "If we leave, 20-odd of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world centered in that region, and we walk out of there, then we know what will happen," Mattis said. "Our intelligence services are very specific that we will be under attack in a number of years, a very few number of years." —Brian Everstine​​

US Strikes Al Qaeda in Libya

US aircraft returned to Libya, conducting an airstrike Nov. 30 on al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, reportedly killing 11 fighters and destroying three vehicles. The strike, the first in the country since a strike targeted ISIS in August, was conducted near the town of Al Uwaynat. US Africa Command in a release said it assesses that no civilians were killed or injured in the strike, which was conducted in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord. It was the third US strike against AQIM in Libya this year, with the last conducted in June, according to AFRICOM. —Brian Everstine

INDOPACOM Boss: US Still Providing ISR Support for the Philippines

The US military is still providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support for the Filipino military as it continues limited operations against ISIS, and that continued support is helping the alliance recover from a tumultuous time, the top US officer in the Pacific said Thursday. US Indo-Pacific Command boss Adm. Phil Davidson, speaking to a Washington, D.C., audience via teleconference at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event, said the US—along with Australia—is still flying ISR support and providing some advice for continued battles inside the country. Last year, the US provided ISR and other support as Filipino forces fought an ISIS siege on the city of Marawi, and as recently as early this month, there has been a resurgent presence of the group, according to the Guardian. The siege came following months of threats from Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to end the military alliance with the US. The continued support “bodes well for our future and getting our alliance back on a solid footing,” Davidson said. —Brian Everstine

Former Swedish Air Force Awarded Air Medals for Previously Classified SR-71 Escort

The Air Force last week awarded four former Swedish air force pilots US Air Medals for helping escort and defend a wounded SR-71 Blackbird in a mission that stayed classified for more than 30 years. On June 29, 1987, an SR-71 was flying a reconnaissance mission over the Baltic Sea, a flight known as a “Baltic Express” flight, when it experienced an in-flight emergency. Two pairs of Swedish air force Viggens intercepted the aircraft when it flew down to about 25,000 feet over Swedish air space, according to a US Air Forces in Europe release. When the pilots intercepted the SR-71, they supported it by defending it from any other aircraft that may threaten it even when it flew beyond territorial boundaries. “That day in 1987 showed us that we can always count on our Swedish partners in times of great peril,” said Maj. Gen. John Williams, the mobilization assistant to the commander of USAFE, who presented the awards during a Nov. 28 ceremony in Stockholm. “Even when there was both political risk and great physical risk in the form of actual danger, there was no hesitation on your part to preserve the pilots on that day.” Retired Swedish air force Col. Lars-Eric Blad, Majs. Roger Moller and Krister Sjoberg, and Lt. Bo Ignell received the awards during the ceremony.

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RADAR SWEEP


George Bush, 41st President, Dies at 94
George Bush, the 41st president of the United States and the father of the 43rd, who steered the nation through a tumultuous period in world affairs but was denied a second term after support for his presidency collapsed under the weight of an economic downturn and his seeming inattention to domestic affairs, died on Friday night at his home in Houston. He was 94. The New York Times.

Lockheed Martin Reducing Cost of F-35 Simulator
Lockheed Martin is reducing the price of the F-35 joint strike fighter’s full mission simulators by utilizing technologies such as additive manufacturing. National Defense Magazine

DOD Acquisition Chief Presses For More F-35s in the Air
The top Pentagon buyer said today the operating cost for the F-35 has to come down at the same time that mission capable rates must ramp up by double-digits. And it needs to happen in less than a year. Breaking Defense

White House Seeks Alternatives to Independent Space Force
Pentagon leaders were dutifully double-timing toward a new military branch. Then they got new marching orders. Defense One

B-52 Squadron Commander Fired over Penis Drawings in Bomber Cockpits
A commander of a B-52 Stratofortress squadron at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, was recently relieved from duty after sexually explicit and phallic drawings were discovered inside the bomber's cockpit screens during a recent deployment, Military.com has learned. Military.com

A Decade after Russia Hacked the Pentagon, Trump Unshackles Cyber Command
It began with an infected USB flash drive. Politico

One More Thing:

Conspiracy Theorists Claim Birds Aren’t Real, Actually Spy Drones for US Government
There’s a new conspiracy in town, and this one may stick around for a while. Techly.com