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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addresses US Naval War College class of 2018 graduates during a commencement ceremony in Newport, R.I., June 15, 2018. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jess Lewis.


Mattis: Summit with North Korea Represents “New Avenue to Peace”

​​President Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the following announcement that joint US-South Korean military exercises would be suspended, represent a new way forward toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday. While some South Korean leaders have expressed concern about the suspension of exercises, retired Adm. Harry Harris, former US Pacific Command boss and Trump’s nominee to be the next ambassador to South Korea, told Congress on Thursday that now is a good time for a pause. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.


Senate Approves NDAA Amendment to Require Report on Putting Troops in Poland

The Senate, which is set to vote on its version of Fiscal 2019 defense authorization legislation Monday, approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) Thursday requiring a Defense Department report on the feasibility and advisability of permanently stationing US forces in Poland. The amendment, adopted by voice vote, would direct the Pentagon to submit the report to congressional defense committees by March 1, 2019, in unclassified form, although it could include a classified annex. The US Air Force has had an aviation detachment in Poland since 2012. The small group of airmen work closely with the Polish air force at three central air bases in Poland—Krzesiny, Lask, and Powidz—to ensure US forces can seamlessly flow into Poland for exercises or in the event of war. To learn more about the AvDet read Stronger Together from the Air Force Magazine archive. —Steve Hirsch


Lawmakers Urge Mattis to Block F-35 Sales to Turkey

A group of 44 lawmakers are urging Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to block the sale of F-35s to Turkey, following Turkish actions in Syria and its plan to buy Russian-made air defenses. “Contrary to its NATO obligations and the expectations that should govern a responsible ally, Turkey is actively operating to undermine US interests around the world,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote in a Thursday letter to Mattis. “Turkey’s repeated military actions against American interests, relentless degradation of human rights and democracy under President Erdogan, and clear intention to build a strategic partnership with Russia have completely eroded the US-Turkey relationship.” Turkey is set to receive its first F-35A on June 21, however, the lawmakers write that they have “no confidence” the country will use the aircraft “responsibly” in the region, based on Turkey’s history targeting US-backed Kurdish YPG forces inside Syria and Kurdish Peshmerga inside Iraq. “It is hard to imagine a more compelling case for re-evaluating the delivery of US military technology to a foreign state,” the letter states. We must hold Turkey accountable for conduct that threatens US national security, undermines the interests of our partners and allies, and represents a broadside attack against fundamental democratic values.”

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US Evolving Military Structure, Strengthening Alliances to Counter Russia, China

Russia and China are actively seeking to remake the global order, a move that requires a shift in military thinking to address a new era of great power competition, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday. The US military needs to evolve to “uphold a rules-based international order beneficial to all,” which is why the Defense Department is creating a more lethal force, strengthening alliances, and modernizing to be more effective, Mattis told the graduating class at the US Naval War College on Friday. This effort has been outlined in the Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy, released earlier this year. The US faces growing competition with Russia, who has shown with the annexation of Crimea and its resolve to “shatter NATO” that it wants to “diminish the appeal of the Western democratic model and attempt to undermine America’s moral authority.” China has shown its “long-term designs” to rewrite the global order, by using a “muscular manner” to expand its authoritarian model globally. US military leaders need to strengthen alliances and forge new ones to protect the global order, Mattis said. “For by knowing how to fight well together, you strengthen deterrence and help hold onto peace for one more year, one more month, one more day, as the diplomats work to solve problems,” Mattis said. —Brian Everstine


Saber Strike Wraps in Europe, Supported by Large USAF Airdrop Mission

Saber Strike 18, a US European Command-led exercise that brought together about 18,000 troops from 19 nations to train in the US, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, wrapped up Friday after two weeks of large-scale maneuvers, including a long-distance C-17 airdrop mission. Saber Strike was aimed at responding to regional crises and helping allies in Eastern Europe secure their borders, according to EUCOM. On June 8, nine C-17s carried 700 paratroopers and equipment from Pope Field, N.C., and, supported by two KC-135s and one KC-10, flew nonstop to Latvia, according to an Air Mobility Command release. A-10s and special tactics airmen practiced landings and take-offs from remote highways and unused runways in Latvia and Estonia—a capability that gives aircraft access to areas far from conventional airports, reported Air Force Times. USAF E-8C Joint STARS and F-16s also participated in the exercise. “This is an opportunity that allows us to work with our coalition partners and allies in Europe and creates a space where we can work together, learn from each other, and build the trust and confidence we need to succeed on the battlefield,” said Col. Anthony Angello, airlift mission commander for the flight, called Exercise Swift Response 18, in the release. —Brian Everstine


US-Norwegian Team Completes Major Segment of Joint Strike Missile Testing

A joint US-Norwegian team has completed “a large phase” of testing for the Joint Strike Missile, the advanced anti-surface warfare missile designed for the Norwegian Armed Force’s F-35A, the US Air Force said Friday. The 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., led the testing of the missile with Norwegian government and industry personnel. In Friday’s announcement, the service said that before moving to integration testing on the F-35A, the missile was tested on F-16s, “a much more proven and mature platform in terms of technology development,” according to Collin Drake, 416th FLTS JSM project engineer. Drake said that with the F-35 still in development, it is more efficient and effective to use F-16s for mid-cycle tests. Testing included different versions of the missile, with increasing levels of complexity and capability, and all versions were inert until the final flight test events, during which the missile hit a target with full mission systems software and guidance. Live releases of the missile were conducted at the Utah Test and Training Range. —Steve Hirsch

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RADAR SWEEP


—Florida’s Health Department confirmed Thursday it is collecting information from residents and former residents who are worried their cancers are linked to living near Patrick AFB, Fla.  The Pentagon recently issued a report on water pollution at current and former military installations, Patrick is among them: Military Times.

—The Black Hawk helicopters being sent to the Afghanistan air force lack some of the mission capabilities of the Russian Mi-17s they are replacing, according to a Defense Department inspector general’s report: Bloomberg.

—China held naval drills in the South China Sea simulating defense against an air attack, Chinese media reported Friday, a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed concern in Beijing over China’s maritime militarization efforts: Reuters.

—A United Arab Emirates official said Thursday the Trump administration had rejected three UAE requests for satellite imagery and other military assistance in the Saudi-led attack on Hodeida, a port in Yemen: Associated Press.