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​Border Patrol Agents at Border Field State Park in Imperial Beach, Calif., watch over personnel that are reinforcing the border fence with concertina wire. US Customs and Border Protection photo by Mani Albrecht.

​Threatened Government Shutdown Wouldn’t Directly Impact Defense

President Trump on Tuesday repeatedly threatened a partial government shutdown if Congress doesn’t allocate billions of dollars to build a wall at the border. The move would not directly impact the Defense Department, because Trump signed a fiscal 2019 “minibus” funding bill that included DOD in September. However, the rest of the government is only funded through Dec. 21, and it’s likely DOD would be called to fill in any security shortfalls caused by a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

DOD at Risk of Losing Artificial Intelligence Edge

The Defense Department’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Agency is now operational, with an initial cadre of 30 civilian and military personnel from across the services. The agency, led by Dana Deasy, the department’s new Chief Information Officer, is focused on consolidating the many DOD-wide AI projects and works closely with DARPA and other researchers to rapidly push AI-enabled technology out to the operational force. When asked by House legislators if the US has fallen behind countries such as China in AI development, Deasy and Lisa Porter, deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said not yet, but the risk is there. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

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Putin and Maduro Play Blackjack in Venezuela

Russia has sent two Tu-160 “Blackjack” bombers to Venezuela in a show of force meant to underscore solidarity between the two countries, both of which have come under verbal fire from the US. Russia disputes US charges that it violated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, while the US labels Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro as corrupt, a leader US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said will “have to go.” The Tu-160s are nuclear capable, although neither country has said whether they are carrying any weapons. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak. 

Nuclear Gravity Bomb Tail Kit Assembly Enters Production Phase

The B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb’s new guided tail kit assembly, or TKA, has entered the production phase after successfully completing a 27-month test program, USAF announced. The B61 is the primary strategic nuclear weapon for the B-2 bomber and can equip both the F-16 and F-15E, providing forward-deployed deterrence in support of US allies. The B61-12 will extend the service life of the B61 weapon, which first achieved operational capability in 1968. It will operate in two modes: analog/ballistic mode and digital/guided mode. The TKA “is the enabler for realizing” the digital/guided mode, according to a Pentagon selected acquisition report. The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB, N.M., in partnership with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, completed the testing in less than 11 months, achieving a 100 percent success rate for all 31 bomb drops, according to a USAF release. “The flight tests demonstrated the system works very well in its intended environment,” said Col. Paul Rounsavall, AFNWC senior materiel leader for the B61-12 TKA. “This development effort brought the first-ever digital interface to the B61 family of weapons and demonstrated the B61-12 TKA’s compatibility with the Air Force’s B-2 and F-15 aircraft. In addition, the TKA achieved greater than five times its required performance during developmental testing and is ready to start initial operational test and evaluation.” —Amy McCullough

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RADAR SWEEP


Pentagon: Dunford Will Serve Full Term as Joint Chiefs Chairman
A Defense Department spokesman on Monday said that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford will serve the remainder of his term despite President Trump announcing his successor 10 months ahead of his end date. The Hill

Alarming Number of Mobility Pilots Decline Bonuses to Keep Flying; Overall Bonus ‘Take Rates’ Up Slightly
Mobility pilots are declining aviation retention bonuses in alarming numbers, despite the the Air Force’s attempt to keep them in uniform with an infusion of cash. Air Force Times

Behind the White House’s Plan to be More Aggressive in Cyberspace
For nearly a year, White House leaders had debated the rules for how America should operate in cyberspace. After brazen hacks by the Chinese and Russian governments that targeted millions of Americans and the 2016 presidential election respectively, senior officials believed they needed to stop the raid on American bits and bytes. Fifth Domain

Maxwell Forms Group in Hopes of Improving Education Options for Military Families
The newly formed public education-focused working group at Maxwell Air Force Base has a plate full of topics to tackle, including increasing attendance at their on-base school, a streamlined application process for Montgomery's magnet schools, more school choice options for military families and exploring the possibility of charter schools in the area. Montgomery Advertiser

Trump Administration: It’s ‘Extraordinary’ Judges Won’t Let Military Restrict Transgender Troops
The Trump administration pressed a federal appeals court Monday to allow the U.S. military to restrict service by transgender men and women, calling it “truly extraordinary” that judges throughout the country have stood in the way of its policy. Washington Post

One More Thing ...

The US Military Put a Fake Chinese J-20 Stealth Fighter at a Georgia Airbase
A replica of a Chinese Chengdu J-20 fifth-generation stealth fighter recently appeared at Savannah-Hilton Head Airport in Georgia, The Aviationist reported. Business Insider