For our heavily militarized region, one key side show of the inauguration was the confirmation and swearing in of James N. Mattis as secretary of defense. The retired Marine general was approved with a 98-1 vote after the inauguration.
Mattis released a statement to U.S. troops afterward that credited not only them, but intelligence personnel as "sentinels and guardians of our nation." Mattis also pledged to work with the State Department to strengthen U.S. alliances abroad, some of which have been rattled by Trump questioning their worth.
Mattis retired in spring 2013 as the chief of U.S. Central Command after a career in which he became one of the most influential officers of his generation and commanded troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the first senior military officer to serve as defense secretary since President Truman nominated Army Gen. George C. Marshall for the job in 1950. (Story)
Mattis has indicated his support of the F-35 program, which is good news for our region since Eglin is home of the F-35 integrated training center and two F-35 reprogramming labs. He's apparently an independent thinker willing to take a different approach from the boss, who has criticized the F-35.
It's time for everybody to take a deep breath and give the new administration a chance. Our country is far more resilient than some might think. All the things you see going on right now have happened in the past and will happen in the future.
The 33rd Fighter Wing on Jan. 17 loaded and released the Air Education and Training Command's first live bombs from an F-35A at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Six aircraft were loaded with armed GBU-12s, and two bombs were released over the Eglin range.
The GBU-12 is a 500-pound laser guided bomb. The F-35 can carry a combined payload of 2.3K pounds of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions internally, with an extended capacity of munitions on each wing. While this is the first live bomb to be loaded into an F-35A here, weapons personnel also regularly load the 2,000-pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition and the AIM-120 missile as part of their training and readiness. (Post)
The 96th Test Wing was scheduled to conduct testing on the Eglin range complex requiring the closure of State Roads 85, 123 and 285. Testing was to take place Jan. 25, and several backup dates were provided. But later in the week Eglin’s testing schedule for Jan. 25, along with backup dates, was canceled. (Post)
-- More than 300 aeromedical specialists attended a week-long conference at Naval Air Station Pensacola designed to provide participants with the latest information regarding aerospace medicine. Rear Adm. Rebecca J. McCormick-Boyle, commander of Navy Medicine Education, Training and Logistics Command, was among the featured speakers hosted by the Pensacola-based Navy Medicine Aerospace Medical Institute. Capt. Joseph LaVan, NAMI officer in charge, noted the event was a critical component in maintaining the continued excellence of Navy Medicine's aerospace community. (Post)