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Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Charles Q. Brown speaks during a panel discussion at AFA's 2019 Air, Space & Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., near Washington, D.C. Staff photo by Mike Tsukamoto.

​PACAF Boss Calls for a Roles and Missions Discussion About Air Base Defense

The armed services may need to adjust their roles and missions to help the Air Force defend itself as it rapidly moves small groups of airplanes and airmen among austere air bases in the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and elsewhere, Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Charles Q. Brown said. “We need to think about” a roles and missions discussion that would give the Air Force responsibility for air base defense, Brown said told reporters at AFA’s Air, Space, & Cyber Conference. Read the full story by John A. Tirpak.

B-52s to Remain in Pacific as Global Strike Addresses B-1 Readiness

The Air Force’s continuous bomber presence in the Pacific will continue to rely on the venerable B-52 for the foreseeable future as Air Force Global Strike Command wrestles with improving the readiness of the B-1B. Since 2004, the Air Force has kept bombers stationed at Andersen AFB, Guam, with B-52s and B-1s rotating through the area, and B-2s occasionally deploying for short periods of time. For the past couple of years, B-52s have been the mainstay at Andersen as AFGSC pulled B-1s back from deployments after flying hard in the Middle East for years at a pace that “broke” the jets, AFGSC boss Gen. Timothy Ray said. Read the full story by Brian Everstine and Rachel S. Cohen.

Air Force Reserve Sees Uptick in Suicides

Air Force Reserve boss Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee said Sept. 18 the component has lost 14 of its airmen to suicide so far in 2019—compared to a single instance as of this time last year. In all but one of this year’s cases, the airmen involved were part of civilian life, not on Reserve status, he explained at a panel discussion during AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference. Scobee said AFRC is countering suicide within its ranks in two ways. First, he said, the command is training airmen on how to avoid problems Reservists frequently deal with, largely related to relationships and finances, and giving them the tools to cope with those issues. Second, the command is working to ensure that its airmen feel connected to their 74,000-person Reserve family, regardless of whether they are on Reserve status. Read the full story by Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory.

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Q&A: AFRL Looks Ahead

Air Force Research Laboratory Commander Maj. Gen. William Cooley spoke with Air Force Magazine Senior Editor Rachel S. Cohen on Sept. 17 about the lab’s ideas for “vanguard” programs, the service’s attempt to take on more risk, and how AFRL could support the new “Century Series” of aircraft development. Cooley also mentioned coming advances in quantum computing and autonomy, and an October meeting to align the efforts of research labs across the Pentagon. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Read the full story by Rachel S. Cohen.

USAF Nearly Finished With Cyber Audit, Jamieson Says

Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and cyber effects operations, said Sept. 18 the Air Force is working on a cyber review that assesses the service’s capabilities, weaknesses, and opportunities in that domain. That report, akin to similar Army and Navy analyses, will soon be briefed to Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, she said at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference. “We’re going to look at how do we prioritize our way ahead to address those vulnerabilities, and then what pieces, parts do we need to put in place for future development so those vulnerabilities are not created in the first place?” Jamieson said. Her branch on the Air Staff is working with Air Force Materiel Command boss Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS), and mission defense teams that protect Air Force networks to standardize crews, training, and tools to quickly address the problem of enterprise-wide cyber flaws, she added. —Rachel S. Cohen

AFRICOM Airstrikes Kill ISIS-Libya, Al-Shabaab Fighters

A pair of US Africa Command airstrikes within days of each other took out a total of 10 terrorists in two countries without harming any civilians, according to command assessments. A Sept. 17 airstrike that AFRICOM coordinated with the Somalian government killed two Al-Shabaab fighters “after they attacked a Somali patrol northwest of Kismayo” in the country’s Lower Juba province, a command release said. Two days later, an airstrike that targeted Islamic State-Libya terrorists near the Libyan city of Murzuq killed eight of the group’s members, according to a Sept. 20 release. The Sept. 19 strike aimed to “eliminate terrorist leaders and fighters and to disrupt terrorist activity,” according to AFRICOM boss US Army Gen. Stephen Townsend. Townsend said the command won’t let “the current conflict in Libya” protect these parties and pledged continued collaboration with its “Libyan partners” to make sure terrorists can’t find safe haven in the country. —Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

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RADAR SWEEP


AF Education & Training Shifts to “Space Warfighting Ethos”: Gen. Webb
A key focus of Air Education and Training Command for the foreseeable future will be training airmen for the space warfighting mission, says Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, the brand new head of Air Force Education and Training Command. Breaking Defense

These Three Weapon Systems Will Face Delays Under a Short CR
On Sept. 20, the department stated that a one to three month CR would “disrupt major exercises and training events, affect readiness and maintenance, curtail hiring and recruitment actions, and adversely impact contracting negotiations.” But more specifically, it called out three modernization priorities that would be hurt. Defense News

“Col. Ned Stark” Sounds Off on Air Force Promotion System Overhaul
The "distinguished graduate" tag can be misleading when it comes to Air Force promotions, and past performance won't necessarily tell raters how an individual will do the job at a higher grade, according to the intelligence officer whose postings went viral under the nom de plume "Col. Ned Stark." Military.com

Air Force Looking to Use Hill AFB's West Desert Training Range to Test Drones
The Air Force wants to start flying drones at the Utah Test and Training Range. The Department of Defense is now accepting public comment on a draft environmental assessment related to a plan to test unmanned aircraft at the west desert testing range. Standard-Examiner

NOAA Weather Satellite Transferred to US Air Force
A retired National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration geostationary weather satellite is being handed over to the US Air Force to fill in a gap in the service’s forecasting requirements. Space News

Industry Group Head Urges US Air Force to Better Engage with Future Vertical Lift
The US Air Force should better engage with the Pentagon on its Future Vertical Lift next-generation rotary wing development program instead of relying on commercial industry to provide similar capability, according to the head of an influential vertical flight trade group. Jane’s Defence Weekly (subscription required)

Air Force Identifies Air Force Civilian Casualty
The Air Force identified Jason Zaki, an intelligence analyst, as the Air Force civilian who died on Sept. 18 due to a non-combat related incident at Al Udeid AB, Qatar. Air Force Times

China Detains Former US Air Force Pilot Flying for FedEx
Chinese authorities have detained a FedEx Corp. pilot in the southern city of Guangzhou, elevating pressure on the express shipping giant that is already in Beijing’s crosshairs amid a US-China trade war. The pilot, a former US Air Force colonel named Todd A. Hohn, was detained a week ago while waiting for a commercial flight to his home in Hong Kong after flying deliveries throughout Asia from the FedEx regional hub in Guangzhou, people familiar with the matter said. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

One More Thing … 

The NSA Is Running a Satellite Hacking Experiment
Researchers at the National Security Agency are using artificial intelligence to characterize strange behaviors in small satellites to understand if they’ve secretly been brought under adversarial control. “We’re looking at a way to characterize telemetry data so that as we deploy new satellites, we can make adjustments,” said Aaron Ferguson, the technical director of the encryption solutions office of NSA’s Capabilities Directorate, said at a Defense One event on Sept. 17. Defense One