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Air Education and Training Command boss Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast said the two most recent T-38 crashes—one on Wednesday and the other in November 2017—are not likely related and do not constitute a trend. Air Force photo by SrA. Keifer Bowes​.


T-38 Crashes Unrelated, AETC Chief Says

The Wednesday crash of a T-38 Talon jet trainer out of Columbus AFB, Miss., was unrelated to the crash of a T-38 at Laughlin AFB, Texas, last November, Air Education and Training Command chief Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast said Thursday. Speaking with defense reporters in Washington, Kwast said, “I can reassure you,” based on “initial indications” that “this is not a trend from Laughlin.” The Laughlin crash, in which one pilot was killed and another injured, was the result of a “dual gearbox failure,” Kwast explained, an “extraordinarily rare” problem. “In fact,” he said, “the engineers, when the plane was first built in the ‘50s, thought that it would never happen. But they never thought we would be flying it in 2018, either.” The Laughlin accident investigation has already reported out, he said. But, “I just wanted you to know that, having had so many years of experience with the T-38, we know this aircraft very well … initial indications are people do not have to worry this is a trend or they are linked. They are not.” As for Wednesday’s mishap, in which both pilots ejected and were treated for only minor injuries, Kwast would not give details, saying, “We’re going to do this by the book” and not presuppose any causes until the accident investigation runs its course. Columbus had already held a one-day “safety stand-down” to refresh personnel on safety issues before the crash, which marked the fifth this year throughout the Air Force, compared to seven with all of last year. Kwast did say, however, that, “This had nothing to do with” safety or that “somehow a stand-down would have prevented it.” —John A. Tirpak


Kwast Wants Training F-22s and F-35s Brought Up to Combat Configuration

Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, head of Air Education and Training Command, wants dedicated F-22 and F-35 training jets modified to the all-up combat configuration. If that proves unaffordable in the short run, his command is experimenting with virtual reality capabilities that could teach stealth pilots how to operate the frontline versions before they get to frontline units. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.


O’Shaughnessy Takes Command of NORTHCOM, NORAD

Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy officially took command of US Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command during a Thursday ceremony. O’Shaughnessy, who previously served as commander of Pacific Air Forces, assumed command from retiring USAF Gen. Lori Robinson. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein presided over the ceremony at NORAD’s headquarters at Peterson AFB, Colo. President Trump last week nominated Lt. Gen. Charles Brown to receive his fourth star and take command of PACAF. —Brian Everstine

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NDAA Moves Forward in Senate, House

Defense authorization legislation moved forward in both houses of Congress Thursday, as the Senate Armed Services Committee late in the day announced it had completed markup of its proposal, which it passed by a 25-2 vote, following adoption of more than 300 amendments during largely closed markup sessions. Meanwhile the full House passed its $717 billion version of the bill by a 351-66 vote. The House bill was approved by the Armed Services Committee earlier this month after a marathon markup session. HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) lauded the House bill as taking important steps “toward rebuilding our military and reforming the Pentagon.” —Steve Hirsch


US Will Continue to Work With International Partners on Space, Raymond Says

The United States will continue to work with allies on space issues, Gen. Jay Raymond, the commander of the Air Force Space Command told an AFA breakfast outside of Washington Thursday. A number of initiatives to increase international cooperation on national security space have been announced recently or are in the works, including Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s announcement last month that the Air Force would expand the availability of space training to US allies, and the planned conversion this year of the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., into a Combined Space Operations Center to integrate coalition partners. Space is a warfighting domain just like air, land, and sea, Raymond told the breakfast, and, “The way we operate in warfighting domains is we operate with our partners and with our allies, and we’re going to do the exact same thing in space.” —Steve Hirsch


SIGAR: Afghan War has Largely Failed to Bring Security, Caused Corruption to Rise

The Pentagon’s Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction again is strongly criticizing America’s longest war, claiming in a new report that US efforts to stabilize insecure areas of the country have “largely failed” since the war began in 2001. The US government has overestimated its ability to build government institutions, focusing on troop numbers instead of performance. The US spent “far too much money, far too quickly in a country unprepared to absorb it,” creating opportunities for corruption. “Powerbrokers and predatory government officials with access to coalition projects became kings with patronage to sell, fueling conflicts between and among communities,” the report states. Inspector general, John Sopko, speaking Thursday at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., said the US government needs to address these challenges and capacity constraints, and try to find a “realistic understanding of the level of effort required and what is achievable. —Brian Everstine

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AP Claims New Details on Airmen’s Drug Use, AFGSC Calls Story Old News

The Associated Press reported Thursday it had uncovered new details relating to drug use in 2015 and 2016 by airmen guarding US nuclear missiles in a report branded old news by Air Force Global Strike Command, which pointed to courts martial and other actions taken in 2016. AP said in its story that Air Force records showed the airmen bought, used, and distributed LSD and other drugs as part of a ring at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and that after investigators moved in, one went to Mexico. The Air Force launched its Force Improvement Program in 2014 after an internal investigation uncovered widespread cheating on a nuclear proficiency exam at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., coinciding with another scandal involving allegations of drug abuse among some missileers. A spokesman for the Global Strike Command said in an emailed statement Thursday that the drug activity in the AP story “is not a new incident.” Sixteen junior airmen “were court-martialed or received other disciplinary action under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice” in 2016, the statement said, adding that all reported drug use is “treated with the utmost seriousness, and offenders are held appropriately accountable." —Steve Hirsch


Trump Cancels North Korea Summit

President Donald Trump Thursday cancelled the planned summit with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, pointing to North Korean “anger and open hostility” in a letter to Kim released by the White House. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.


CAP Celebrates 70th Anniversary

The Civil Air Patrol on Saturday will mark its 70th anniversary as an auxiliary for the US Air Force. The milestone comes three years after the Air Force announced CAP would be included as part of its Total Force, assisting the service with aerial intercept and unmanned aerial vehicle training, disaster relief, aerial reconnaissance, and search and rescue missions. The Civil Air Patrol saves an average of 80 lives per year, but has already saved 115 lives in the first five months of 2018, according to a press release, which also highlights some of its “major missions carried out in support of the Air Force.”

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RADAR SWEEP


—The Air Force Academy class of 2018 graduated during a Wednesday ceremony in Colorado Springs. The ceremony included a flyover by the US Air Force Thunderbirds, the second performance by the team since they returned to flight this month: KRDO.

—The story of TSgt. John Chapman, a combat controller who was killed in Afghanistan in 2002, has been picked up by a studio to become a motion picture. Chapman was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, and is reportedly being considered for an upgrade to the Medal of Honor: Deadline.

—Five airmen with the 2nd Medical Group at Barksdale AFB, La., joined additional airmen, marines, and soldiers in a deployment to Panama for New Horizons 2018, an exercise focused on humanitarian aid: DOD release.

—The Air Force Personnel center launched a new website that hosts all special trophies, award descriptions, and eligibility information “for maximum visibility” to airmen: AFPC release.