Metro-East News

Roger That: Lawmaker says Air Force wasted $500 million on defective weather satellite program

Mike Fitzgerald
Mike Fitzgerald

A top U.S. lawmaker slammed the Air Force’s handling of its weather satellite program Thursday, saying it would have been easier for the government to simply set the money on fire.

“We could have saved the Air Force and the Congress a lot of aggravation if we had 18 years ago put a half a billion dollars in a parking lot in a pile and just burned it,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, held to discuss military acquisition reform.

“In all, the Air Force spent well over a half-billion dollars on this satellite — $518 million to be specific,” he said.

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A trio of former heavyweight Obama administration officials Tuesday told lawmakers that the Islamic State group has metastasized and the United States must intensify its efforts to fight it militarily and politically.

Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell warned the House Armed Services Committee that the Islamic State’s influence has grown into the United States — where the FBI is said to have more than 900 open investigations into homegrown extremists. The radical group’s influence has also grown in Afghanistan and Libya, he said.

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Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition blew up a warehouse in Iraq where the Islamic State had stored millions of dollars in cash, the U.S. military disclosed Tuesday, according to Military Times.

Coalition aircraft targeted a “cash distribution center” near Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which is under control of the extremist group, the U.S military said in a daily report on details of airstrikes.

The coalition struck the facility Monday as part of intensified efforts to destroy funding sources of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS.

A senior Defense official said the coalition has targeted similar facilities in the past. The official, who is not authorized to discuss the strikes publicly, said coalition aircraft dropped two 2,000-pound bombs on the building. Mosul has been under Islamic State control since 2014, when the militants swept into Iraq from Syria.

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Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters following a two-day visit to Iraq that efforts to retake land from the Islamic State are gaining momentum.

Dunford made this announcement after a meeting with U.S. and Iraqi leaders, including Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones and Army Gen. Sean McFarland, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, according to a Pentagon announcement.

Dunford also met U.S., coalition and Iraqi troops in Baghdad, Asad and Irbil. He last visited the country in October, just after taking over as chairman.

“I believe the Iraqis now have the momentum,” the general said. The seizing of Ramadi, the operations that have been conducted in Anbar province, the recapture and continued control of the oil refinery in Beiji, and the successful operations cutting ISIL’s main supply line south of Sinjar make him “comfortable saying the Iraqis have the momentum.”

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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