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New F-35 pilots might get to skip training in F-16s


EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FLA. — New Air Force pilots might not have to fly F-16 jets before transitioning from T-38 trainers to the F-35 joint strike fighter.

While plans have not been finalized, officials are hoping pilots will be able to transition from two-seat T-38 Talon trainers directly into the single-seat F-35 thanks to more advanced simulators.

"We hope not," Lt. Col. Eric Smith, 33rd Fighter Wing operational support squadron commander, said in a meeting with reporters when asked if new F-35 pilot would need to fly two-seat F-16s, much like they do before they fly single-seat F-22s.

"Right now, the full mission simulator has the capability to train a guy on air refueling, which is one of the reasons that they did that in the F-22," he said.

Commander puts 30-day ban on alcohol for incoming airmen in Korea


Incoming airmen to bases in South Korea cannot purchase or drink alcohol during their first 30 days in country, the 7th Air Forces commander announced as part of a new "Korean Readiness Orientation" policy.

"We are guests here and not only do our actions matter, they have strategic implications," Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas said in a release published in the Crimson Sky, an Air Force newspaper. "This is a fresh start to change the tone in Korea and leave a culture that is better than how we found it."

RAFB 5th Combat Communications Group celebrates 50 years


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Three-star General Michael Basla made a stop at Robins Air Force Base to celebrate the 5th Combat Communications 50th anniversary by attending an open house for the unit.

"It's got fifty years of tradition and excellence, these are the folks that go out to the field first and make sure that the war front out there has the communication capabilities that they need," says General Basla.

The group was officially activated on July 1st 1964 and is now the Air Force's only combat communications unit. They deploy all over the world.

VA whistleblowers allege retaliation in 4 Ga. cases


AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - Federal authorities say they are looking into four retaliation cases in Georgia, in which whistleblowers within the Department of Veterans Affairs say they've been punished for reporting concerns in VA facilities.

The Augusta Chronicle reports that the four Georgia cases being handled by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel come after workers say authorities retaliated after they reported concerns about scheduling, understaffing and other patient care issues.

Nationwide, investigators said last month they were examining allegations that supervisors in the veterans' health system retaliated against 37 employees who complained about practices such as falsified records used to cover up months-long delays in scheduling appointments.

The acting VA chief said such reprisals would not be tolerated.


More U.S. troops to Iraq, raising total to about 775


President Obama told Congress on Monday that he is deploying about 200 more troops to Iraq to bolster security at the U.S. Embassy and airport in Baghdad.

These and previously announced forces are being sent "for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property, if necessary, and (are) equipped for combat," Obama said in a letter to Congress required under the U.S. War Powers Resolution.

Earlier this month, Obama announced the deployment of 275 troops to protect the embassy.

In addition to security, these troops will provide "intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support," Obama said.

The president is also in the process of sending up to 300 military advisers to assist Iraq as it battles an invading army of jihadists that has taken over major cities and threatens the capital in Baghdad.

Senate candidate Jack Kingston stops in Warner Robins


U.S. Senate candidate Jack Kingston made a quick campaign stop in Warner Robins Monday afternoon where he talked about strengthening national defense.

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He says as a senator, his top committee assignment would be the armed services.

One of his top priorities he says is strengthening the Robins Air Force Base.

He also spoke about the problems with the VA hospitals, saying it needs a top-down review.

Afghan pilots to train at Moody


Afghan Air Force pilots will head to Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, to train on new A-29 Super Tucano close air support aircraft, the Air Force has announced.

The South Georgia base was selected as the preferred alternative for the training and the contingent of 20 aircraft after an evaluation of the base's operational and infrastructure requirements. Now the Air Force must do an environmental analysis before a final decision is made.

"Moody AFB was selected as the preferred alternative because the airfield and airspace are available without disruption during the required timeframe, and suitable facilities are immediately available for the new occupants to move into," Timothy Bridges, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, said in a release Wednesday. "Moody AFB is the lowest cost option."