Hurricane Michael levels Air Force base. The death toll has risen to 11 for the storm that grew freakishly intense as it smacked into Florida on Wednesday, then raged across Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia.
Tyndall Air Force Base is in ruins. Michael’s eye passed right over the base, located just east of Panama City, Florida, bringing 130-mph winds that leveled hangars, damaged almost every house, and flipped a retired jet on static display. Recovery teams found “widespread catastrophic damage,” Air Force Times reports. Watch this aerial video from local station WPDE to get a quick read on the destruction. There’s a bit more at the New York Times.
Plenty of military help. Among the units that dispatched troops and gear to help rescue people and restore order: 822d Base Defense Squadron out of Moody Air Force Base, Ga.; Florida Air National Guard’s 1-111th Aviation Regiment; Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules and MH-65 Dolphin crews. Find video and photos, here.
Hurricane Hunters provided critical warning — specifically WC-130J crews from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron. “It wasn’t until we saw the numbers from people flying through the storm that we realized how much it had intensified,” Colin Zarzycki, a tropical-cyclone scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told The Atlantic. “Students in tropical-meteorology classes are going to be talking about this storm for 20 years.”
This just in: Way back in March 2017, then-EPA director Scott Pruitt hinted to a TV interviewer that internal reviews cast doubt on the scientific consensus that humans are causing climate change. A new release of documents (prompted by a FOIA request and then a lawsuit) appears to contradict that. GovExec, here.
From Defense One
In Pacific, US Army Shifts Training from Disaster Relief to War // Kevin Baron: The change reflects Trump’s defense strategy and rising threats from China and North Korea.
Congress Is Forcing a Reluctant White House to Confront Saudi Arabia // Mohamad Bazzi, The Atlantic: The Jamal Khashoggi crisis may finally push lawmakers to put real pressure on Mohammed bin Salman.
IBM Files Bid Protest Against Pentagon’s JEDI Contract // Frank Konkel, Nextgov: IBM becomes the second company to file a pre-award bid protest against the Pentagon’s multibillion-dollar cloud contract.
Stop Military Aid to Saudi Arabia // Rand Paul, The Atlantic: The regime must be held accountable for Jamal Khashoggi.
Dire New UN Climate Report Lays Out a Way Ahead // Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic: The battle to prevent climate change has already been lost. But the battle to blunt its effects has just begun.
Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Defense firms jockey for Army business; F-35s grounded; One-on-one with DynCorp CEO; and a bit more.
Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief by Bradley Peniston. If you find this useful, please consider forwarding it to a friend or colleague.
Turkey insists it has audio and video showing that Saudi Arabia killed journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi. Washington Post: “The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said.”
Congress hunts for options: Defense News: “Thursday on Capitol Hill, lawmakers were discussing various tracks to punish Saudi Arabia if the allegations were founded ― by suspending arms sales, by cutting U.S. military aid to the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen or by imposing sanctions — though some lawmakers expressed doubts Trump would follow through.” Read on, here.
Trump: arms sales more important. The president reiterated on Thursday: “We don’t like it, not even a little bit. But whether or not we should stop $110 billion in this country knowing [Saudi Arabia has] four or five alternatives — two good alternatives? That would not be acceptable to me.”
Washington Post takes out ad in…the Washington Post. Jason Rezaian: “This is the advertisement that the @washingtonpost is running today, demanding answers for the disappearance of our Saudi colleague and @PostOpinions columnist.” Click through to see it.
Some F-35s cleared to resume flying. Just a few hours after the Pentagon ordered all F-35s — foreign and domestic — to stand down for emergency inspections of their engine fuel tubes, some of the aircraft were being cleared to resume operations, D1’s Marcus Weisgerber reported Thursday about 3:30 p.m. The standdown was related to last month’s crash of an F-35.
Taliban bragging about Afghan training camp. Via Long War Journal, here’s a report and some video that purports to show recruits at the “Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah Training Camp” in Afghanistan.
S. Korea: Kim wants to trade nukes for security guarantees. Reuters: South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who held his third summit with Kim Jong Un last month, said on Friday that the North Korean leader will destroy his nukes and nuke factories in return for guarantees that his regime will survive.
Big changes to Army’s training in the Pacific. Where once they trained largely for humanitarian relief missions, evacuations from natural disasters, and efforts to build up allied security forces, forces in the Indo-Pacific region have shifted gears to meet “a new National Security Strategy focused on the persistent potential for military conflict with China and North Korea,” D1’s Kevin Baron reports.
Army booted hundreds of immigrant soldiers with key skills last year. Associated Press: “Over the course of 12 months, the U.S. Army discharged more than 500 immigrant enlistees who were recruited across the globe for their language or medical skills and promised a fast track to citizenship in exchange for their service.”
A new study looks at the cost of overweight soldiers. Army Times: “Almost one in five active duty male soldiers in 2015 was obese, and one-half were overweight. Now, for the first time, the Army is calculating the costs of those added pounds to better understand: At what point is a soldier too expensive to keep?” Read on, here.
And lastly: Who was that defense contractor/rock star at the White House? Why, that was Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, former guitarist for Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers, who “has received numerous security clearances and contracting jobs since the 1980s as a self-taught expert on missile-defense and counterterrorism,” reports Business Insider. Have a rockin’ weekend!