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​An A-10 Thunderbolt II assigned to the 75th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron while flying over Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018. Air Force photo by SrA. Kaylee Dubois.

​US, Taliban Show “Encouraging” Progress in Talks

While the US and Taliban have shown encouraging progress in peace talks, there is no current plan for a full withdrawal from Afghanistan, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Monday. Shanahan’s comments come as the US head of negotiations with the Taliban says there is a “framework” for a way forward. NATO Defense Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, speaking at the Pentagon on Monday, also said the progress is encouraging, but said NATO has long-term plans to stay in the country. Read the full story by Brian Everstine.

Shanahan, Stoltenberg Laud Increase in NATO Defense Spending While Calling for More

NATO has sharply increased its overall defense spending, a move that has helped the organization strengthen parts of its collective defense, but that increase should just be the beginning, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Monday. Speaking alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon, Shanahan said that since 2016, NATO allies have increased spending by a total of $41 billion, with a projected total increase of $100 billion by 2020. “We know our work here is only the beginning,” Shanahan said. “We recognize a need to move from theory to practice, and from practice to results.” Recent increases in funding have contributed to a buildup of NATO assets in Eastern Europe, infrastructure improvements, and more frequent exercises, Shanahan said. “This has allowed us to increase our force presence on the territory of our most vulnerable allies,” he said “A few years ago, achieving these improvements and funds might have seemed impossible. A few years from now, we will write the same success story on readiness.” In addition to funding, NATO’s contribution to the war in Afghanistan also has increased 12 percent, Shanahan said. “NATO is really making a lot of progress in many different areas, high readiness of our forces, stepping up the fight against terrorism, and also investing more in defense burden sharing,” Stoltenberg said. —Brian Everstine

Hurlburt Field Airman Found Dead Outside Hospital

An airman from Hurlburt Field, Fla., was discovered dead outside of the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center early Jan. 28, according to a spokesman for the 1st Special Operations Wing. His cause of death is still under investigation and the Air Force did not release his name. Air Force Special Operations Command and the 505th Command and Control Wing are headquartered at Hurlburt Field. —Rachel S. Cohen

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Moody A-10s Return From Afghanistan

A-10s and airmen returned home to Moody AFB, Ga., beginning last week after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan, where they helped increase the number of strikes flown in that war. The airmen and aircraft from the 75th Fighter Squadron began the transition home on Jan. 25, with more expected back through this week. The A-10s deployed in July 2018—the second rotation of A-10s at Kandahar Airfield since the aircraft returned to the base in January 2017. Through November 2018, US aircraft conducted more airstrikes inside Afghanistan than in the previous three years combined, and the highest yearly total in at least 10 years. The Air Force has not released which unit is replacing the Moody A-10s in theater. — Brian Everstine

Russian Fighter Intercepts US Navy Surveillance Plane Over Baltic Sea

A Russian Su-27 twin-engine fighter intercepted a US Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft over the Baltic Sea on Jan. 28, US European Command has confirmed to Air Force Magazine.  “Russian means of airspace control over the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea detected an air target approaching the State border of the Russian Federation,” Russia’s defense ministry wrote in a Jan. 28 statement, explaining that the Russian fighter “scrambled to intercept” the aircraft. After approaching it at "a safe distance,” the statement said, the Su-27 identified it as an American Poseidon, though the aircraft was mischaracterized as a US Air Force asset. In a EUCOM statement the Navy shared with Air Force Magazine, the command declined to elaborate on the incident, citing a policy of not discussing “specific details” about US-Russian air and sea interactions “unless an interaction is unsafe.” "Our aircraft and ships routinely interact with Russian units in international airspace and seas and most interactions are safe and professional,” the statement said. The intercept comes two days after two Russian Tu-160 Blackjack bombers flew into the Canadian Air Defense Identification Zone. The bombers, which did not cross into sovereign airspace, were identified by five North American Aerospace Defense Command aircraft, including an E-3 AWACS, two F-22 fighters, and two CF-18 fighters, according to a tweet from the command. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

AFSPC Industry Day Aims to Chart Future of Satellite Communications Enterprise

Air Force Space Command will hold an industry day Feb. 14 to develop a satellite communications enterprise strategy that draws on military and commercial assets to build resilient networks that transport military data. AFSPC Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson recently said those conversations will help the Air Force decide how to build on its current slate of commercial SATCOM pathfinder programs. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

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Correction

A story that ran online Jan. 18 and in the Jan. 19 Daily Report mischaracterized Textron’s bid in the T-X trainer competition. The company’s Scorpion jet was suggested as a possible T-X contender early in development, but was never formally offered for the program. We have corrected the original story.
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RADAR SWEEP

Airman Died After Accidentally Inhaling Hydrogen Sulfide in a Manhole at Al Dhafra
Staff Sgt. James Tyler “Ty” Grotjan died last July after he inhaled hydrogen sulfide down a manhole, lost consciousness and fell off a ladder, according to an Air Force investigation report released Friday. Air Force Times

The Federal IT Market Grew by 10 Percent in Fiscal 2018
The U.S. federal government spent an all-time high of $64.7 billion on information technology contracts in fiscal 2018, a 9.5 percent increase from fiscal 2017 levels, according to Bloomberg Government’s analysis. Bloomberg Government

Official Explains Federal Tax Changes for Military, Spouses
Most service members and their families will see a reduction in their tax bills this year, but there are a number of changes in U.S. federal tax laws that they need to be aware of, said Army Lt. Col. Dave Dulaney, the executive director of the Pentagon’s Armed Forces Tax Council. DOD

AFRICOM to Resume Announcing Somalia Airstrike Death Toll
US Africa Command, which oversees U.S. military operations on the continent, will again release the number of enemy fighters killed and damage information caused from its airstrikes, after briefly saying it would no longer do so. Voice of America