The Defense Department has temporarily grounded all F-35 fighter jets following the September 28th crash in South Carolina. An ongoing investigation into the crash shows that a fuel tube may have been faulty. Inspections are expected to be completed within the next two days. The grounding affects over 200 jets.
Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday the plan to create a sixth branch of the US military called the ‘Space Force’ as soon as 2020. Pence called the branch ‘an idea whose time has come.’ The branch requires approval by Congress. There is strong opposition from the Air Force, which could lose some responsibilities.
The Pentagon announced new restrictions on the use of electronics with GPS software such as fitness trackers by American troops in combat zones on Monday. The devices themselves will not be banned, but geolocation features which could reveal location will be required to be disabled.
The sentencing of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been delayed due to recent remarks by President Donald Trump about the case. Although not allowed to comment on the matter, Trump stated ‘But I think people have heard my comments in the past.’ Bergdahl’s defense argued that the statement will not allow an unbiased trial.
The U.S. shot down an Iranian drone over southern Syria on Tuesday. This is the second time in the span of a week that the U.S. military has shot down a pro-Syrian aircraft. Further, amid US-Russia tensions in Syria, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet has flown within five feet of a US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft on Monday over the Baltic Sea. The Pentagon have said that all strikes are an act of self-defense.
An American military aircraft patrolling the East China sea had a close encounter with two Chinese fighter jets after they flew too close and “unprofessionally” according to a spokeswoman for the Pacific Air Forces, Lt. Col. Lori Hodge. The United States has formally issued a complaint to China through diplomatic and military channels, she said in a statement. The “speeds and proximity” of the two Chinese planes, coupled with the “maneuvers” of one of the pilots, raised the concerns, she said.
Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced that he is planning to ban all transgender people from joining the military. The announcement made via Twitter hit with massive backlash from both the trans community, and the internet in general. One of Trump’s reasoning behind the ban is because of the “burden” of medical costs that come with the transition of a trans person. There are currently an estimated 15,000 trans people serving in the military. Many are asking whether their livelihoods are at stake due to Trump’s new goal.
On Saturday, the FBI arrested an active duty U.S. Army soldier in Hawaii, on the charges of attempting to provide military documents and training to the ISIS. The soldier, identified as Ikaika Kang, 34, who has alleged to swear allegiance to ISIS, served as an air traffic control operator with the 25th Infantry Division at U.S. Army Pacific Command. An affidavit by the FBI accompanying the complaint reports that he has been making pro-ISIS statements as early as 2011.
On Tuesday, a US official gave a statement saying President Trump has given the Pentagon authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan, this could mean a deployment of thousands of more troops as commanders decide how to move forward in the 15 year war. This is something that commanders on the ground have been asking for months.