• President Joe Biden’s decision to allow allies to train Ukrainian forces on how to operate F-16 fighter jets — and eventually to provide the aircraft themselves — seemed like an abrupt change in position but was in fact one that came after months of internal debate and quiet talks with allies. Biden announced during last week’s Group of Seven summit in Japan that the U.S. would join the F-16 coalition. But over the past three months, administration officials shifted toward the view that it was time to provide Ukraine’s pilots with the training and aircraft needed for the country’s long-term security needs. This is according to two officials familiar with the deliberations.

    August 25, 2023
  • The U.S. is joining NATO allies in hosting training for Ukrainian pilots on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, beginning at an Arizona Air National Guard base in October. The Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, announced the move Thursday. The training will be part of a U.S. and European effort to get the advanced fighter jets to Ukraine for its defense against invading Russian forces. Americans caution it's a long-term process to bring pilots up to speed on the complex technology. Ryder tells reporters the F-16 training is about long-term support for Ukraine, and not about the current counteroffensive.

    August 24, 2023
  • Bipartisan federal legislation is being introduced that would protect U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadets who report a sexual assault from being disciplined for minor collateral misconduct, such as underage drinking. Such a change would put the Connecticut service academy in line with policies at Department of Defense military academies. House members from Connecticut, California, Mississippi and Washington are co-sponsoring the bill. It comes amid recent revelations that the service did not widely disclose a six-year internal investigation it had conducted, known as Operation Fouled Anchor, into dozens of cases of sexual assault and misconduct between 1988 and 2006.

    August 22, 2023
  • A new report says female soldiers face rampant sexism, sexual harassment and other gender-related challenges in male dominated Army special operations units. The report on Monday comes eight years after the Pentagon opened all combat jobs to women. U.S. Army Special Operations Command reports a wide range of “overtly sexist” comments from male soldiers, including a broad aversion to females serving in commando units. It says the comments are “not outliers” but represent a common sentiment that females don’t belong on special operations teams. Several recommendations involving increased training to expand awareness of sexual harassment, mentorship, health care and other issues have been completed. Others are in progress.

    August 21, 2023
  • Officials say the United States has given its approval for the Netherlands and Denmark to deliver F-16s to Ukraine. The defense ministers of those two NATO countries announced the decision Friday. It is a major gain for Kyiv even though the fighter jets won’t have an impact any time soon on the almost 18-month war. It was not immediately clear when the first F-16s might enter the conflict. Denmark says it will hand over some of its F-16s only after receiving its new F-35 jet fighters, which are due to start arriving on Oct. 1. Officials have previously said that Ukrainian pilots will need six to eight months of training on the F-16s.

    August 18, 2023
  • A new report says the U.S. military academies must improve their leadership, stop toxic practices such as hazing, and shift behavior training into the classrooms in order to address an alarming spike in sexual assaults and misconduct. The report says the academies must train student leaders better to help their classmates, and upend what has been a disconnect between what the cadets and midshipmen are learning in school and the often negative and unpunished behavior they see by those mentors. The review calls for additional senior officers to work with students and provide expanded training. The report was released Thursday.

    August 17, 2023
  • Hundreds of thousands of veterans have received additional benefits in the past year after President Joe Biden signed legislation expanding coverage for conditions connected to burn pits that were used to destroy trash and potentially toxic materials. The first anniversary of the law is Thursday, and Biden will mark the occasion at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City. Administration officials are trying to encourage as many people as possible to sign up by Wednesday, which would allow their benefits to be retroactive to when the law was signed. The agency is also trying to hire more people to handle the influx of claims, which is expected to cause larger backlogs over the coming months.

    August 06, 2023
  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is warning that troop readiness and retention is at risk as the Army’s chief recently stepped down, leaving the military’s two ground combat forces without Senate-confirmed leaders for the first time in history. Austin said Friday that the Senate’s failure to confirm the services’ new leaders is disruptive to the force and could impact relationships with allies and partners around the globe. The confirmation of the next Army chief and Marine commandant are among more than 300 nominations that are stalled by a Republican senator over the Pentagon’s policy to pay for travel when a service member has to go out of state to get reproductive care.

    August 04, 2023
  • The U.S. military is considering putting armed personnel on commercial ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz, in what would be an unheard of action aimed at stopping Iran from seizing and harassing civilian vessels. That's what five American officials told The Associated Press on Thursday. If implemented, it would be an extraordinary step by the Pentagon as it grapples with a renewed effort by Iran to harass and seize ships traveling in the strait, through which 20% of all the world’s crude oil passes. Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP about the U.S. proposal.

    August 03, 2023
  • New lawsuits claim that the U.S. Defense Department and the Department of Veteran Affairs are making it difficult and sometimes impossible for veterans to get infertility treatments. Multiple lawsuits were filed Wednesday in federal courts in New York and Boston seeking to hold the United States accountable for creating obstacles to health care access for a population that advocates say has a higher rate of infertility than the population at large. The lawsuits seek to obtain in vitro fertilization coverage for military service members and veterans who don't fit the Veterans Affairs definition of infertility as pertaining solely to married, heterosexual couples.

    August 02, 2023
  • The Pentagon is pulling 1,100 troops from the U.S.-Mexico border that it had deployed in response to a surge in migrant crossings. A defense official, on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press on Tuesday the details ahead of an announcement. The active duty troops were sent to the border in May amid fears that the end of COVID-19 immigration restrictions was going to result in a crush of migrants attempting to cross into the United States. But immediately after Title 42 expired, the number of encounters dropped sharply, and have stayed low, according to Customs and Border Protection data.

    August 01, 2023
  • The Senate has passed a massive annual defense bill that would deliver a 5.2% pay raise for service members and keep the nation’s military operating. The Senate sidestepped more divisive policy matters to move the bill forward with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. The Senate's bill sets up a clash with the House, which passed its own version of the annual defense bill along party lines after repeated clashes over social issues like abortion access and diversity initiatives. The Senate bill authorizes $886 billion in defense spending for the coming year, in line with President Joe Biden’s budget request. Congress will have to allocate the funding later during the appropriations process.

    July 27, 2023
  • The White House has nominated a career airlift and cargo pilot with key deployments in Afghanistan and Europe to serve as the Air Force's next top general. In a notice to Congress posted Wednesday, the White House nominated Gen. David W. Allvin to serve as the service's next chief of staff.

    July 26, 2023
  • President Joe Biden has chosen Adm. Lisa Franchetti to lead the Navy. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to be a Pentagon service chief and the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Biden’s decision to tap Franchetti goes against the recommendation of his Pentagon chief. But Franchetti, the current vice chief of operations for the Navy, has broad command and executive experience. She was long considered by insiders to be the top choice for the job. In a statement Friday, Biden noted the historical significance of her selection and said “throughout her career, Admiral Franchetti has demonstrated extensive expertise in both the operational and policy arenas.”

    July 21, 2023