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In memo, Air Force secretary slams Space Development Agency as not ready for prime time

WASHINGTON — The Space Development Agency was officially established as of March 12 — a move that goes against the wishes of the U.S. Air Force’s top civilian, who slammed the Pentagon’s plan for adding bureaucracy, creating risk by removing jobs and starting a new project that has yet to be validated, according to a…

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In memo, Air Force secretary slams Space Development Agency as not ready for prime time

WASHINGTON — The Space Development Agency was officially established as of March 12 — a move that goes against the wishes of the U.S. Air Force’s top civilian, who slammed the Pentagon’s plan for adding bureaucracy, creating risk by removing jobs and starting a new project that has yet to be validated, according to a memo obtained by Defense News.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson’s memo, dated Feb. 28, offers a scathing rebuke of the Space Development Agency, a pet project for both acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin.

The top Air Force official argues that the Office of the Secretary of Defense, or OSD, has not adequately laid out how to transfer the authority of the SDA to the Space Force, which was provisioned in a Jan. 19 memo by the defense secretary titled “Guidance for the Establishment of the Space Development Agency.”

The SDA also “appears to replicate existing ones already ordered by Congress,” she wrote. She points to a memo by the OSD, which states that the SDA would be modeled on organizations like the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, even as the service Air Force has launched a space-focused version of the agency called the Space Rapid Capabilities Office.

“Until the Space Development Agency has a uniquely identifiable mission that cannot be accomplished by current organizations, the plan should not move forward,” she wrote.

Over the past month, Wilson has emerged as a strong critic of the SDA, telling reporters in February that she still had questions about the mission of the organization and over what it could do differently or better than existing entities.

She has since announced her resignation and is set to leave her office in May. However, her dissent is notable, because the next Air Force secretary will be tasked with leading the U.S. Space Force ― if its creation is approved by Congress. The new military branch is slated to at some point be tasked with overseeing the SDA, which is currently under Griffin’s purview.

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Asked by media Wednesday why he felt the Air Force and Wilson were being so vocal in pushback against the SDA, Griffin paused for several seconds before saying “I’m not sure I really know. and so I won’t comment. I can’t get into people’s motives and not everybody who has spoken may have even the same motives. I note, and it has been noted within the media, that the Air Force has broadly disapproved of secretary Shanahan’s decision. Everybody can’t always agree.”

Griffin then went on to note that the Air Force has been resistant to change before, citing the introduction of the ICBM and unmanned systems, before adding “I would not choose to single out the Air Force, or indeed any other entity. It is a general rule that large, existing organizations do not respond well or favorably toward new innovations. It would be an exception if they did embrace a new idea. So, I’ll just leave it at that.”

When the Pentagon released its legislative proposal for the Space Force, there was noticeably little included about the SDA. A senior Pentagon official, however, said that was by design to focus the attention on the Space Force creation, adding that a new memo on the SDA is coming, perhaps as soon as this week.

On the disagreement between Wilson and Griffin on the role of the SDA, the official was blunt: “Dr. Griffin will win in the end on this one.”

Wilson’s memo responds to a second memo out of the OSD, titled “Qualification of Savings to Establish Space Development Agency,” which lays out an argument that as many as 55 civilians and 75 military jobs could be cut across the current space portfolio, which would offset the projected government staff requirement for the SDA.

Those cuts would come from the Missile Defense Agency (20 civilians and 15 military personnel), the U.S. Air Force Remote Sensing Directorate (15 civilian and 30 military), and a trio of service divisions focused on protected satellite communication, wideband SATCOM and advanced development (20 civilian and 30 military).

A fully staffed SDA will feature approximately 225 personnel, made up of 67 civilian, 45 military and 113 support contractors, per the memo. That would leave a net cut of 18 jobs across the department, which the qualification memo states will definitively save the Pentagon money.

In essence, the SDA would be a leaner, less bureaucratic alternative to existing space procurement organizations by stripping personnel from a number of agencies and eliminating a handful of Defense Department positions altogether.

But that’s too risky a gamble to make without further analysis, Wilson argues in a different memo to Griffin dated Feb. 26.

“The ‘Quantification of Savings’ paper suggest that harvesting personnel from existing office that perform critical missions today ‘could’ result in savings, without addressing the risk to such programs if personnel were removed,” Wilson wrote. “The plan should not move forward until the proper analysis has been completed and coordinated. Absent rigorous supporting analysis, validation and verification of such savings, we do not recommend Secretary of Defense certification.”

Griffin, however, says he sees the work being done by SMC and the space RCO as separate missions from that of the SDA. On the RCO, he pointed out that SDA cuts across the entire department while the Air Force office is more limited, although “I would be utterly surprised if we didn’t have, from space development agency, some useful working relationship with space RCO. I would expect that we would.”

As to SMC, “they have a very important function with continuing to produce and oversee the legacy space architecture, the things we have in space today that we surely don’t want to give up. but this is a new capability with new functions,” he said. “It’s not about SMC. It’s about creating new capabilities as rapidly and as effectively as we can.”

In addition to criticizing the structure of the SDA, Wilson also lambasted its first major procurement effort.

The first big project the SDA will work on is what the memo calls the “transport layer” in low-Earth orbit — a large number of mass-produced small satellites networked together to provide “global, persistent, low-latency data transfer between and among the space and ground elements and the strategic and tactical military users of the next-generation architecture.”

In the long term, the SDA will be charged with procuring “not just the data transport layer but additional capabilities such as an alternate positioning, navigation and timing system, low-latency targeting, and improved detection, tracking and defense of ballistic and advanced missile threats.”

However, Wilson argues that the Air Force and the director of the Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation office are still conducting detailed work on whether that disaggregated satellite architecture will be better than current plans.

“It is premature to conclude that a massively proliferated low-Earth obit architecture would be more resilient in the face of deliberate attack than alternative, similar price architectures,” she writes. “The proposed plan requires in-depth supporting analysis and validation by the warfighting.”

Griffin, for his part, cast the need for the transport layer as long-overdue, saying “this is not a task currently being received by the air force or anyone else. It’s not a duplicative task. It’s a new thing we’re doing to meet known mission requirements for a threat driven space architecture.”

“My guess is that’s going to keep me busy for a while,” he later said, when asked if the SDA has plans for other future projects. “We’re not trying to solve world hunger here. We’re taking on a specific and very important challenge that means a lot tome personally, and that’s my first priority.”

Long-standing differences

Speaking last month at the Air Force Association’s winter meeting in Orlando, Wilson was upfront about her skepticism of the SDA.

“I have some concerns about what is the mission of this entity, why do we think it would be better than what we currently do, and what exactly will it be focused on conceptually,” she said. “I expect there would be public discussions on this. Conceptually, it would be stood up and then rolled into a Space Force, which means that it would be in a new agency that would exist for probably less than a year. So I think there [are] still questions.”

The fight over the SDA is, in many ways, a fight over who controls the future of the space portfolio. Getting the Space Force to live within the Air Force, even if just temporarily for a few years, was a major win for Wilson and her team. But the SDA exists outside the Air Force, and will only move within the Space Force when, or if, that new branch stands up independently.

Notably, the fiscal 2020 budget request included $306 million to stand up the headquarters of the Space Force, establish U.S. Space Command and create the Space Development Agency — and of those three, the SDA got the most money, with $149.8 million in new funding that cannot be transferred from other parts of the budget.

It’s unclear what this money will go toward. The budget provides a general description of the role of the SDA, saying it will “will have a development mindset and will be focused on experimentation, prototyping and accelerated fielding, as well as leveraging commercial technologies and services.” However, it does not lay out why the SDA’s stand-up costs are equal to that of U.S. Space Command and the Space Force combined, especially as the SDA — with 20 transfers and 30 new employees — is smaller than the other two offices.

Asked about that dollar figure, Griffin declined to comment, but said details will be available when the Pentagon’s j-books are released in the near-future.

In the past, Shanahan and Griffin have talked about the SDA as the core of what the Pentagon will do in the space domain. In October, Shanahan described it as “where all the players go” if they want to do something with space assets, later telling Defense News that he needs someone in that job focused on how to architect common standards across the department.

“This is that integrated environment that we have to protect, and the best way to be able to provision for the future is to develop a foundation that’s rooted in a very well-defined architecture and standards,” Shanahan, then the deputy secretary, said. “And the standards aren’t just simply for interfaces, these are design standards, you’re manufacturing standards, these are test standards — so it’s a suite of those things.”

This story was updated 3/13/19 at 4:40 PM to reflect Griffin’s comments.

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How the president could invoke martial law

Throughout 2020, America has faced a global pandemic, civil unrest after the death of George Floyd and a contentious election. As a result, an influx of fear about the possibility of the invocation of martial law or unchecked military intervention is circulating around the internet among scholars and civilians alike. “The fear is certainly understandable,…

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How the president could invoke martial law

Throughout 2020, America has faced a global pandemic, civil unrest after the death of George Floyd and a contentious election. As a result, an influx of fear about the possibility of the invocation of martial law or unchecked military intervention is circulating around the internet among scholars and civilians alike. “The fear is certainly understandable, because as I’m sure you know, martial law isn’t described or confined or limited, proscribed in any way by the Constitution or laws,” Bill Banks, a Syracuse professor with an expertise in constitutional and national security law, told Military Times. “If someone has declared martial law, they’re essentially saying that they are the law.” What is ‘martial law’ In short, martial law can be imposed when civil rule fails, temporarily being replaced with military authority in a time of crisis. Though rare, there have been a number of notable U.S. cases where martial law came into play, including in times of war, natural disaster and civic dispute — of which there has been no shortage in 2020. While no precise definition of martial law exists, a precedent for it exists wherein, “certain civil liberties may be suspended, such as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom of association, and freedom of movement. And the writ of habeas corpus [the right to a trial before imprisonment] may be suspended,” according to documents from JRANK, an online legal encyclopedia. Martial law may be declared by both the president and by Congress. State officials may also declare martial law, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, however, “their actions under the declaration must abide by the U.S. Constitution and are subject to review in federal court.” “Notorious examples include Franklin D. Roosevelt’s internment of U.S. citizens and residents of Japanese descent during World War II and George W. Bush’s programs of warrantless wiretapping and torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” the Atlantic reported. “Abraham Lincoln conceded that his unilateral suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War was constitutionally questionable, but defended it as necessary to preserve the Union.” Throughout the course of U.S. history, federal and state officials have declared martial law at least 68 times, according to Joseph Nunn, an expert with the Brennan Center for Justice. Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief. How does it work? Martial law does have limits. The Posse Comitatus Act, passed on June 18, 1878, prevented federal troops from supervising Confederate state elections during Reconstruction. Though initially it only applied to the Army, it has been amended to include the Defense Department and, of course, the other service branches. That act prevents troops from enforcing domestic law, preventing such actions as searching and seizing property or dispersing crowds. However, National Guard units, which take their direction from state governors, are exempt from the Posse Comitatus Act. One exception to Posse Comitatus, however, is the Insurrection Act, which allows the use of active-duty or National Guard troops for federal law enforcement in cases when “rebellion against the authority of the U.S. makes it impracticable to enforce the laws of the U.S. by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings,” according to U.S. Northern Command. The text of the Act reads: “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in all cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws, either of the United States, or of any individual state or territory, where it is lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection, or of causing the laws to be duly executed, it shall be lawful for him to employ, for the same purposes, such part of the land or naval force of the United States, as shall be judged necessary, having first observed all the pre-requisites of the law in that respect.” But activating the National Guard even under federal Title 32 status, in which the federal government helps pay for Guard troops under state control, does not fall under the Insurrection Act, nor does it equate to martial law in ordinary circumstances. “Governors call the National Guard all the time to respond to a storms or power outages, delivering medical supplies, stuff going on even during COVID,” Banks said. “That’s not extraordinary, nor would it be if the President federalized the National Guard for similar reasons, responding to a need to disseminate vaccines next winter, for example, would be perfectly appropriate, lawful, not martial law.” Should we be worried? “The sort of hellish scenarios that some people talk about is one where the president orders or regular military armed forces the United States to take over cities that he believes are engaged in an unlawful election, disruption or protests in the wake of an unresolved presidential election in the days after November 3,” Banks noted. Though purely a hypothetical, Banks notes that the way it would happen would be through the Insurrection Act. In order to invoke the Insurrection Act, the president “must first issue a proclamation ordering the insurgents to disperse within a limited time, 10 U.S.C. § 334.4. If the situation does not resolve itself, the President may issue an executive order to send in troops,” according to a 2006 Congressional Research Service report. “One of the important things to remember about the Insurrection Act is that it’s not martial law,” Banks said. “The purpose of utilizing the mechanisms of insurrection act is to enforce the law, not replace it.” In June, at the height of the protests surrounding the death of a Black man named George Floyd at the hands of a white Minnesota police officer, President Donald Trump alluded to the Insurrection Act as a means of calling up active duty troops to quell civil unrest as protest erupted across the country. “If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said in a White House statement on June 1 — just before he posed for a photo opportunity outside Washington, D.C.’s St. John’s Church with a bible amid an entourage, which included Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley. Milley publicly apologized for his appearance in Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square to pose for photos in front of a church partially burned during protests. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” Milley said. “As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from, and I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.” But while the Insurrection Act is law, the fact that martial law is not codified lands its use in a distinctly grey legal area. “One of the problems, of course, is that there’s nothing to prevent the president or a military commander from declaring martial law,” Banks noted. “They can just do it. It’s not sanctioned by law.” Banks noted that the civilian in charge of the military — in this case, Defense Secretary Mark Esper — is the key to ensuring the military is kept out of the 2020 elections. “Secretary Esper is in a in a really critical role here,” Banks noted. Esper addressed this in a memo to the force. “As citizens, we exercise our right to vote and participate in government,” he wrote. “However, as public servants who have taken an oath to defend these principles, we uphold DoD’s longstanding tradition of remaining apolitical as we carry out our official responsibilities.” Milley too feels strongly about the necessity of keeping the U.S. military out of politics and the election. “We don’t swear an oath of allegiance to an individual, a king, a queen, a president or anything else,” he said in an interview with NPR. “We don’t swear an oath of allegiance to a country, for that matter. We don’t swear an oath of allegiance to a flag, a tribe, a religion or any of that. We swear an oath to an idea, or a set of ideas and values, that are embedded in our Constitution.” As a result of these comments, Banks is optimistic that the worst case election scenario in the event of disputed election results might just be lawsuits in certain states where the outcomes are murky. “A really important limitation in the event that there is martial law is that it’s highly unlikely to be tolerated in a situation where our civilian institutions are working,” Banks noted. “Martial law requires a complete meltdown. It requires the inability of our civilian institutions to manage government. It’s hard to imagine that.”

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The Bones are back: B-1s return to Guam

Four B-1B Lancer bombers and 200 airmen from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas arrived at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam Tuesday for a bomber task force mission, Pacific Air Forces said in a release. The bombers and airmen, with Dyess’ 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, were sent to Guam to support PACAF’s training missions…

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The Bones are back: B-1s return to Guam

Four B-1B Lancer bombers and 200 airmen from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas arrived at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam Tuesday for a bomber task force mission, Pacific Air Forces said in a release. The bombers and airmen, with Dyess’ 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, were sent to Guam to support PACAF’s training missions with allies, partner forces and joint forces such as the U.S. Navy. This represents the latest in a string of near-monthly B-1 bomber task force rotations to Guam since the Air Force ended the continuous bomber presence in April. “Every bomber task force is important because they accomplish both tactical and strategic objectives,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Stallsworth, the squadron’s commander. “As we conduct training operations, we are able to increase our bomber force lethality, readiness and experience across the force. It also demonstrates the Department of Defense’s ability to operate in an agile fashion to the world.” On their way to Guam, the bombers trained with the amphibious assault ship America, which is now deployed to the western Pacific Ocean, PACAF said in Thursday’s release. The bombers also linked up with 16 F-15s and two F-2s from the Japanese Self-Defense Force, also called the Koku-Jieitai, near the Sea of Japan. “The training proved to be a very good opportunity to improve tactical skills as well as to show our commitment to the robust Japan-U.S. alliance and the region,” said Lt. Col. Kobayashi Yoshiyuki, commander of the Koku-Jieitai’s 305th Fighter Squadron, in the release. “Through continued bilateral trainings between the Koku-Jieitai and the U.S. Air Force, we are tough and strong, and always ready.” Sign up for the Air Force Times Daily News Roundup Don’t miss the top Air Force stories, delivered each afternoon (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Air Force Times Daily News Roundup. Two B-1B Lancer aircraft sit on a runway during a Bomber Task Force deployment at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 21. (Pacific Air Forces) After the 16-year Continuous Bomber Presence mission at Anderson and its regular rotations of strategic bombers in and out of Guam ended in April, the Air Force began a series of bomber task force missions, often involving B-1s. Less than a month later, four B-1s from Dyess returned to Guam on May 1 for a temporary rotation. A pair of B-1s from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota followed in July, and more B-1 bomber task forces followed in August and September.

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Judge permits former Army colonel’s sex assault case against Joint Chiefs No. 2

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff sexually assaulted a former top aide during a Southern California trip. Air Force Gen. John Hyten has denied the allegations brought by former Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser that he attacked her…

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Judge permits former Army colonel’s sex assault case against Joint Chiefs No. 2

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff sexually assaulted a former top aide during a Southern California trip. Air Force Gen. John Hyten has denied the allegations brought by former Army Col. Kathryn Spletstoser that he attacked her during a December 2017 trip to attend the Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, northwest of Los Angeles. At the time, Hyten commanded the United States Strategic Command, known at STRATCOM. The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of alleged sexual assault. But Spletstoser has allowed her name to be used. Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald in Los Angeles rejected defense motions to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction or to move the case to Nebraska, where STRATCOM is based. A phone call and email seeking comment from Hyten or his lawyers were not immediately returned. However Hyten, who was confirmed last September as the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer, flatly denied Spletstoser’s claims during his confirmation hearing. 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The case against Gen. John Hyten Gen. John Hyten, nominated to become vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (VCJCS), sexually assaulted me multiple times between January and December, 2017. Spletstoser served in the Army for 28 years and carried out four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her assault and sexual battery lawsuit alleged that while staying at a hotel during the Simi Valley trip, Hyten grabbed her, kissed her, fondled her buttocks and rubbed himself against her. The lawsuit was amended from an original complaint that alleged Hyten sexually assaulted her at least nine times in 2017, including during trips to California, London, South Korea and elsewhere and that he retaliated against for refusing his advances by harming her career and eventually forcing her retirement. Spletstoser reported the allegations after Hyten’s nomination. She told the AP last year that she decided she couldn’t live with the idea that Hyten might assault someone else if he was confirmed for the job. The Air Force investigated the woman’s allegations and found there was insufficient evidence to charge the general or recommend any administrative punishment.

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