March 24, 2019

Obama: Troops Will Remain in Afghanistan

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President Barack Obama promised Wednesday to keep 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan through the end of his term, reports Breaking Defense. The relatively modest cut of 14 percent (down from today’s 9,800) is much less of a drawdown than Obama had once hoped for, especially as US commitments creep upward in Iraq and Syria. The announcement comes just ahead of the NATO summit in Warsaw, where NATO allies will be asked to contribute to the sustained effort in Afghanistan. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) demanded the president immediately submit a supplemental budget request to pay for the troops who will remain, reports Inside Defense.

Poland’s Ministry of Defense has signed a contract for the deployment of non-kinetic countermeasures against unmanned aerial vehicles during the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw, Defense News reports. Plans to install the defensive technology emphasize the importance given by the Polish government to securing the summit and the visit of Pope Francis to Krakow later this month, along with the cabinet’s concerns related to the latest attacks carried out by Daesh, the Arabic term for the Islamic State jihadist group.

A House subcommittee on Thursday will debate three bills aimed at halting Boeing’s sale of passenger jets to Iran, The Hill reports. The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade will hear from members who want to prevent the largest US business transaction with Iran since 1979. But Boeing says Congress knew the sale of passenger jets was part of the negotiations of the nuclear agreement. In a letter, Boeing wrote, “”It was made clear to us in those consultations that that the ability to provide Iranian airlines with US and European replacement commercial passenger aircraft for their aging fleets was key and essential to reaching closure on the agreement.”

Cooking up a batch of drones? The Chemputer marries 3-D printing and chemical processes, making it possible to “grow aircraft and some of their complex electronic systems, conceivably from a molecular level upwards,” says BAE Systems in a Defense Tech report. BAE has teamed with a smaller company called Cronin Group Plc of Glasgow, Scotland, which developed the Chemputer. See the sci-fi animation video here.

Boeing will miss an important contractual deadline for delivery of the KC-46 tanker, Aviation Week reports, unable to deliver 18 certified tankers to the Air Force by August 2017. Instead of delivering the first aircraft in March 2017 and the 18th in August, Boeing will begin delivering tankers in August, with the final jet delivered in January 2018, according to Air Force spokesman Maj. Rob Leese. The Air Force blames higher than expected axial loads on the refueling boom when testing with very large aircraft such as the C-17.

Reduced funding and still-high operating tempos have affected aviation readiness across the military, service reps said at a House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing, Breaking Defense reports. “Combat operations and lower budgets “have contributed to the creation of one of the smallest, oldest, and least ready [air] forces in our history,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott West, noting challenges in keeping older aircraft operational. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said he expects improved readiness when the F-35B and F-35C Joint Strike Fighter replace the corps’ current fleet of F-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harriers, and EA-6B Prowlers.

The House Rules Committee on Tuesday merged an array of bills that would affect the federal workforce with an information technology safeguard act, immediately drawing a White House veto threat, Government Executive reports. What will soon come to the House floor as the Government Reform and Improvement Act (HR 4361), originally sponsored by Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL), would ease the suspension or firing of federal senior executives, crack down on employees who watch pornography, and require tracking of “official time” used by union leaders. The White House said the legislation “would weaken the rights of federal employees, and be impractical and administratively burdensome to implement.”

European plans to train and equip military forces in weak or failed states were unveiled July 5 as part of modifications to the European Union’s development-orientated “stability and peace” instrument, IHS Jane’s 360 reports. The move comes after more than a year of delicate political preparations, although the European Commission plans will support the purchase/donation of weaponry or other offensive equipment.

Roughly a year after the passage of new rules making it easier for fledgling businesses to tap US capital markets, just a handful of them have succeeded in doing so, The Wall Street Journal reports. Some companies aren’t prepared for all the marketing required to attract potential investors. Another hurdle: attorneys and broker-dealers are still getting comfortable with the new fund-raising option.

Russia is rebuilding its profile across Southeast Asia with new diplomacy, naval exercises, and deals in arms and energy, as it tries to diversify its trading partners and renew its sway in the Pacific, The Wall Street Journal says. Under Vladimir Putin, Moscow is resurrecting military and energy ties with the fast-growing region.

After promising to reduce Germany’s weapons exports, on Monday German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel was forced to defend the latest weapons export report, which showed that he had presided over a doubling in the number of weapons exports from 2014 to 2015 – reaching the highest figure this century, Defence Talk reports.

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