Trump expected to sign order creating US Space Command in coming days: officials

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order calling for the creation of a U.S. Space Command in the coming days, U.S. officials told Fox News on Monday. The move falls short of creating a new branch of the U.S. military, a “Space Force,” but officials say that could be the next step. … Continue reading “Trump expected to sign order creating US Space Command in coming days: officials”

President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order calling for the creation of a U.S. Space Command in the coming days, U.S. officials told Fox News on Monday.

The move falls short of creating a new branch of the U.S. military, a “Space Force,” but officials say that could be the next step.

TRUMP ORDERS ESTABLISHMENT OF 'SPACE FORCE' AS 6TH BRANCH OF MILITARY

Officials tell Fox to expect Vice President Pence to make the announcement Tuesday calling for the new U.S. Space Command in a scheduled speech at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA will not be part of the new Space Command, and will remain a civilian entity, officials say.

Space Force: White House proposes sixth branch of military

CNN was first to report the news.

Trump in March said that, "Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air and sea. We may even have a Space Force — we have the Air Force, we’ll have the Space Force, you know, the Army, the Navy.”

The U.S. Air Force has operated U.S. Space Command since 1982 at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

MARS 'TERROR,' FUTURE MOON MISSIONS AND AN EPIC JOURNEY TO THE SUN: 2018'S YEAR IN SPACE

The new command would raise its profile, putting it on par with the current combatant commands such as U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), responsible for U.S. forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and U.S. Cyber Command.

The U.S. Space Command existed in this same capacity from 1982 to 2002. After the 9/11 attacks, it was moved under U.S. Strategic Command, responsible for all of the U.S. military’s nuclear weapons.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

Gen. Anthony Tata: Trump is perfectly within his authority to review case of Green Beret charged with murder

President Donald Trump is perfectly within his legal authority to assert that he will review the case of West Point graduate and Special Forces Major Mathew Golsteyn, who is charged with murdering a Taliban bomb maker in Afghanistan in 2010.

Moreover, the president’s tweet – “At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder. He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas.” – ensures that as the Army prosecutes Golsteyn, it will provide him due process and the presumption of innocence.

As commander-in-chief, the president has the ultimate authority and responsibility to review military cases as he sees fit. His tweet does not exert command influence and is neutral in its tenor – rightfully so, as Golsteyn’s is an almost nine-year-old, complex case that puts a warrior in legal jeopardy.

Golsteyn received the Silver Star – the third highest combat award the military can issue – for his actions in Afghanistan while serving as a member of the famed 3rd Special Forces Group in 2010. In 2006 and 2007, this same unit served with me during my tour as the deputy commanding general of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. They were a brave and noble fighting force doing our nation’s bidding.

At issue now are Golsteyn’s actions a few days after two of his Marines were killed by improvised explosive devices. Golsteyn and his men captured the Taliban bombmaker, who later wound up dead. During a CIA job interview in 2011, Golsteyn allegedly admitted to his killing.

If this killing took place while the detainee was in custody, Golsteyn’s actions would be a violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Manual for Military Courts Martial article 118, Murder. It’s not clear this is the case.

One account has him shooting the enemy combatant away from the forward operating base where he was being held as a detainee and then burning the corpse in the “burn pit” on the operating base to dispose of the body. Golsteyn’s lawyer calls that account “fantasy” and there are apparently no corroborating witnesses to this alleged crime and cover-up.

After the 2011 CIA interview, the Army criminal investigation division was alerted to Golsteyn’s comments and opened an investigation. No charges were filed but Golsteyn received administrative punishment, including being stripped of his Silver Star and Special Forces tab.

Then, after comments he made on Fox News Channel in 2016 reiterating that he had shot the bombmaker, the Army opened another investigation. Last week, it charged Golsteyn with murder.

The Army is now moving forward with an Article 32 investigation – the military equivalent of a grand jury – to determine if there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Golsteyn. The Army already decided that there wasn’t sufficient evidence in 2011, but sees fit to continue to tilt at the Golsteyn windmill.

Citizens and soldiers are innocent until proven guilty. It would be the height of irony to deny a combat veteran the constitutional rights that he so bravely fought for.

While the first investigation appears to have left questions unanswered, this new investigation could ultimately lead to prosecution and, worst case, the death penalty if Golsteyn is convicted of murder.

There has been much speculation in the press regarding his actions, but speculation is all it is. It’s clear, however, that Golsteyn became frustrated with the rules for processing detainees.

Troops on the ground had 72 hours from point of capture to formally enter a detainee into the system, then lost complete control of what happened next. There was constant Pentagon pressure to soften the rules in favor of the detainees, as the Obama administration sought to undo the wrongs of the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay scandals.

The standard was simple: Does the detainee pose a threat to coalition forces and/or does the detainee have intelligence value? If the answer was yes to either of those questions, field commanders such as Golsteyn were to process the detainee immediately for transition to Bagram Detention Facility. Why this didn’t happen is central to the investigation, because it was clear that the detainee was both a threat and had intelligence value. Golsteyn should have been moving out on his next mission while intelligence officials immediately processed the detainee.

As Golsteyn goes before Army authorities once again, the military justice system should operate in broad daylight. That is the essence of President Trump’s tweet – to shine a light on the potential railroading of a man who sacrificed much on behalf of our nation. Citizens and soldiers are innocent until proven guilty. It would be the height of irony to deny a combat veteran the constitutional rights that he so bravely fought for.

The Army didn’t see fit to prosecute after the first investigation. Now, however, questions abound. Almost nine years later, are memories fresh enough to recall in any detail the specifics of the case? With no apparent evidence, can the Army convict a man based solely on circumstantial evidence, namely statements? Did the detainee attempt to escape? What, in fact, were the circumstances?

These are important questions and President Trump has rightly put the Department of Defense on notice that it better handle this with care.

Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata is the former deputy commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the national best-selling author of “Dark Winter.”

F-35 ‘tech refresh’ enables new attack technology, AI

The Pentagon and Lockheed are pursuing a "Tech Refresh" effort with the F-35 intended to improve the stealth fighter's targeting attack technology, weapons delivery and on-board computing — all as part of an effort to try to keep the F-35's combat effectiveness ahead of great power rival nations.

The refresh, intended to be built into new planes and retrofitted onto older ones, improves memory, storage, processing speed, display video and aircraft parametric data, Vice Adm. Mat Winter, Program Executive Officer for the F-35 program, told reporters earlier this year.

"These are hardware and software modifications to bring an integrated core processor, memory system and display screen," Winter said.

As part of this ongoing effort, Lockheed Martin has been working with Harris Corporation to provide the computing infrastructure for new panoramic cockpit displays, advanced memory systems and navigation technology.

The new hardware and software, to be operational on the F-35 by 2021, includes seven racks per aircraft consisting of 1,500 module components, including new antennas and weapons release systems. Other components include an Advanced Memory System (AMS) engineered to improve data storage and generate higher resolution imagery to help pilots with navigational and targeting information.

Faster processors will improve F-35 delivery of weapons enabled by the latest 3F software drop, such as the AIM-9X air-to-air missile. Improved radar warning receiver technology will more quickly identify enemy aircraft and integrate with the aircraft’s mission data files, or threat library.

The data processing increase is exponential, developers explain, as it enables measurements to take place in terabytes instead of megabits or megabytes. The upgrades include a portable memory device which can quickly be transferred from a ground station to the F-35 cockpit.

As the most recently implemented software upgrade, Block 3f increases the weapons delivery capacity of the JSF, giving it the ability to drop a Small Diameter Bomb, 500-pound JDAM and AIM 9X short-range air-to-air missile, service officials explained.

The Air Force is already working on a 4th drop to be ready by 2020 or 2021. Following this initial drop, the aircraft will incorporate new software drops as quickly as possible. Block IV will include some new partner weapons including British weapons, Turkish weapons and some of the other European country weapons that they want to get on their own plane, service officials explained.

Block IV will also increase the weapons envelope for the U.S. variant of the fighter jet. A big part of the developmental calculus for Block 4 is to work on the kinds of enemy air defense systems and weaponry the aircraft may face from the 2020’s through the 2040’s and beyond.

In terms of weapons, Block IV will eventually enable the F-35 to fire cutting edge weapons systems such as the Small Diameter Bomb II and GBU-54 – both air dropped bombs able to destroy targets on the move.

The Small Diameter Bomb II uses a technology called a “tri-mode” seeker, drawing from infrared, millimeter wave and laser-guidance. The combination of these sensors allows the weapon to track and eliminate moving targets in all kinds of weather conditions.

The emerging 4th software drop will build upon prior iterations of the software for the aircraft.

Block 2B builds upon the enhanced simulated weapons, data link capabilities and early fused sensor integration of the earlier Block 2A software drop. Block 2B will enable the JSF to provide basic close air support and fire an AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile), JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) or GBU-12 (laser-guided aerial bomb) JSF program officials said.

Following Block 2B, Block 3i increases the combat capability even further and the now operational 3F brings a vastly increased ability to suppress enemy air defenses.

Mission Data Files

The F-35 is now conducting attacks, surveillance operations and combat missions with an updated on-board “threat library” of Mission Data Files engineered to identify enemy threats in key regions around the globe.

“The AORs (Areas of Responsibility) for current operations where our forces are — currently have adequate Mission Data Files,” Winter said.

Described as the brains of the airplane, the "mission data files" are extensive on-board data systems compiling information on geography, air space and potential threats– such as enemy fighter jets — in areas where the F-35 might be expected to perform combat operations, Air Force officials explained.

Despite some delays with development, involving software engineering and technical development at Eglin AFB, Fla., the process is now fully on track to finish by 2019, Winter said.

Naturally, Air Force senior weapons developers do not comment on specific threats in specific areas around the globe, developers do acknowledge the threat library will include all known and future threat aircraft — which of course includes advanced Chinese and Russian 5th-generation fighters. For security reasons, Air Force officials do not wish to confirm this or specify any kind of time frame for their inclusion.

Overall, there are 12 geographical regions being identified to comprise the library, service developers say.

“We have not fully verified all Mission Data Files for all of the regions where we will operate, but we are slated to be ready by 2019,” Winter said.

The mission data files are designed to work with the aircraft's Radar Warning Receiver engineered to find and identify approaching enemy threats and incoming hostile fire. The concept is to use the F-35s long range sensors to detect threats – and then compare the information against the existing library of enemy threats in real time while in flight. If this can happen at a favorable standoff range for the F-35, it will be able to identify and destroy enemy air-to-air targets before being vulnerable itself to enemy fire. For example, the mission data system may be able to quickly identify a Russian MiG-29 if it were detected by the F-35’s sensors.

“There is continued collaboration between intelligence and acquisition teams,” Winter said.

The Mission Data Files are intended to support the F-35’s sensor fusion so that information from disparate sensor systems can be combined on a single screen for pilots to lower the cognitive burden and quicken the decision-making process. New modules for mission systems will integrate into the F-35s Distributed Aperture System sensors and Electro-optical Targeting System.

The Pentagon is improving Mission Data File technology, in part, through computer algorithms increasingly supported by AI, Winter said.

“Our fusion engine gets advanced sensors technology to rapidly identify and track targets without the pilot having to do all the work. This fusion is enabled by Mission Data Files,” Winter explained.

This concept regarding integrated threat warnings and the Missile Data Files is further reinforced in a Lockheed Martin engineering paper from early this year called “F-35 Mission Systems Design, Development and Verification.”

The paper provides technical detail on a number of F-35 technologies, including analysis of a system called AN/ASQ-242 Communications, Navigation and Identification system, or CNI. CNI provides beyond-visual-range target identification, anti-jam technology, radio navigation and, of great significance to Mission Data Files — “warning messaging” and “pilot audio alerts.” Part of its function includes “connectivity with off-board sources of information,” a function which bears great relevance to identifying specific enemy aircraft at great distances.

While many developers cite significant challenges when it comes to software development and integration for the F-35, the fighter is regarded by developers as a “flying computer.” The “fusion” or technical integration on board the aircraft is engineered to access and leverage a wide range of data points and condense them for the pilot. In essence, surveillance, computer processing and targeting data are fused, as opposed to being stovepiped or separate sources. As a result, the technology also incorporates Identification Friend Foe (IFF) surveillance systems designed to quickly distinguish friendly from enemy aircraft.

Mission Data Files technology is now supporting the latest F-35 software configuration – called 3f.

"Mission data has been fielded in support of version 2B, 3i, and 3f," Air Force spokeswoman Emily Grabowski told Warrior earlier this year.

More Weapons and Technology – WARRIORMAVEN (CLICK HERE)

We don’t have enough air and missile defense weapons, Pentagon says

Pentagon weapons developers and military war commanders are expressing concern that deployed forces simply do not have enough Air and Missile defense assets to meet a fast-changing threat environment involving high volumes of dangerous new enemy weapons.

“The requirements exceed the capacity we have today. When it comes to combatant commander needs for missile defense, we find out we simply do not have enough,” Brig. Gen. Clement Coward, Commander, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, told an audience at a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies event.

These threats, posed increasingly by major power competitors, include newly emerging weapons such as guided enemy cruise missiles, attack drones, ballistic missiles with maneuvering re-entry vehicles and even “boost-glide” hypersonic weapons.

“We don’t like to say we don’t have air superiority anymore, but there may be forces in locations where we do not have air superiority. We are working on an all-inclusive culture change,” Coward said.

The air and missile defense push supports rapid development of more counter-drone weapons and Short-Range-Air-Defense (SHORAD) technologies – some of which are already being engineered into Army Stryker vehicles. A key goal is to design systems, at their inception, with technologies equipped to meet drone and short-range air defense threats.

“We have to bake in requirements for counter UAS (Drones) as part of this. We cannot allow that to be a segmented problem. We are trying to get Short Range Air Defense back in the units,” said Brig. Gen. Sean Gainey, Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization Director and Deputy Director, Force Protection.

A National Defense University study, called “Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense, “Simplifying an Increasingly Complex Problem,” details further specifics regarding new threat concerns, including the aforementioned weapons such as hypersonic threats and missiles with multiple “re-entry vehicles.”

“These threats demand a multi-layered defense to eliminate exploitable gaps between traditional IAMD (Integrated Air and Missile Defense) categories,” the paper writes.

Other concerns cited in the essay include “lethal, one-way UAS (drones as attack weapons) and long-range, large-caliber rockets equipped with terminal guidance.”

In response, both Coward and Gainey mentioned ongoing collaborative work to revamp weapons networking and integrated fire control technology.

“We are prioritizing upgrades to planned integrative fire control. We are doing a revision of joint integrated fire control across the joint force,” Gainey said.

As a way to further advance this goal, Coward and Gainey cited the example of better networking fire control systems for the PATRIOT Advanced Capability-3 and Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense interceptor missiles. While both of these systems are air and missile defense weapons, THAAD is a longer range system. Connecting radar, targeting and sensor information between these systems brings the US military services closer to the stated objective of having a multi-layered approach.

Integrated Battle Command System

This scenario, involving a specific effort to connect sensors, fire control and targeting information between “nodes” on a dispersed combat area, is what the Army’s Integrated Battle Command System is engineered to do.

IBCS uses a netted-group of integrated sensors and networking technologies to connect radar systems — such as the Sentinel — with fire-control for large interceptors such as PATRIOT and THAAD.

Synergy between nodes, using radio, LINK 16 data networks and GPS can greatly expedite multi-service coordination by passing along fast-developing threat information. IBCS, an Army program of record, uses computer-generated digital mapping to present an integrated combat picture showing threat trajectories, sensors, weapons and intercepts, senior Northrop developers told Warrior in previous interviews.

Coward cited IBCS as an example of how emerging technology is moving the military services closer to its intended objectives.

“Gives us flexibility instead of waiting on a shelter attached to a vehicle. It allows us to bring three Combatant Command needs statements together, as opposed to being stove piped,” Coward said.

In an interview with Warrior Maven, IBCS weapons developers with Northrop Grumman says that now, a Patriot missile does not have to be fired with a PATRIOT radar.

“By integrating sensors together, we can have an environment where any weapon can be used with a common sensor picture. It used to be that you could only fire a PATRIOT with a PATRIOT radar…now you do not have to have that,” Rob Jassey, Air and Missile Defense Program Manager, Northrop Grumman, told Warrior Maven.

Jassey added that, in a prior exercise, Northrop was able to use Sentinel radar maneuver sensors to provide guidance source data for a PATRIOT missile, enabling it to destroy a cruise missile target on the other side of a mountain.

“Because the low altitude trajectory of the target obscured it from the PATRIOT radar field of view, the IBCS used Sentinel composite tracking data to calculate and present the necessary engagement solution,” a Northrop statement said.

F-35 and Ballistic Missile Defense

Northrop Grumman and the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency recently analyzed information from a previous demonstration wherein an airborne F-35 helped perform Ballistic Missile Defense missions.

The demonstration used a ground-based F-35 sensor called the Distributed Aperture System, a 360-degree camera-sensor offering F-35 pilots a real-time view surrounding the aircraft. Using a DAS-configured gateway aerial node to locate a ballistic missile launch and flight path, the technical system was able to send target-tracking information using advanced data links from the air to ground-based command and control location.

Described as multi-function array technology, the DAS system uses automated computer algorithms to organize and integrate target-relevant data from missile warning systems, radar, night vision and other long-range sensors; the array is able to track a BMD target from the air at distances up to 800 nautical miles. Such a technology, quite naturally, enables a wider sensor field with which to identify and track attacking missiles.

An airborne DAS, networked with ground-based Patriot and THAAD weapons, could offer a distinct tactical advantage when it comes to quickly locating incoming missile threats. Air sensors in particular, could be of great value given that, in some envisioned threat scenarios, it is unclear whether there would be enough interceptors to counter a massive enemy ballistic missile barrage into US or allied territories.

Regarding Coward and Gainey’s cited concerns, air based detection and target tracking, it seems, could go a long way toward better fortifying defenses – as they might increase the time envelope during which command and control could cue interceptors to locate and destroy attacking enemy missiles.

Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar

Northrop developers are also assessing new optical sensors, passive sensors and lasers to widen the target envelope for the Army’s Counter Rocket, Artillery Mortar system such that it can destroy enemy drones, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and cruise missiles.

C-RAM uses sensors, radar and fire-control technology alongside a vehicle or ground-mounted 20mm Phalanx Close-in-Weapons-System able to fire 4,500 rounds per minute. The idea is to blanket an area with large numbers of small projectiles to intercept and destroy incoming artillery, rocket or mortar fire. As an area weapon, the Phalanx then fires thousands of projectiles in rapid succession to knock the threat out of the sky. Engineers are also looking at new interceptor missiles to compliment the Phalanx, Northrop developers said.

Adding new sensors and weapons to CRAM could bring nearer term improvements by upgrading an existing system currently deployed, therefore circumventing multi-year developmental efforts necessary for many acquisition programs.

CRAM is deployed at numerous Forward Operating Bases throughout Iraq and Afghanistan and the system has been credited with saving thousands of soldiers’ lives. It is now being analyzed for upgrades and improvements.

Engineers with Northrop Grumman integrate the Raytheon-built Phalanx into the C-RAM system; C-RAM was first developed and deployed to defend Navy ships at sea, however a fast-emerging need to protect soldiers on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan inspired the Army to quickly adapt the technology for use on land; C-RAM has been operational on the ground since 2005.

Ultimately, however, despite the current concerns about the US inventory of air and missile defense systems, both Crawford and Gainey were quite clear on one this – the US is right now ready to fight and defend against any attack.

“There is a lot of effort that goes into getting ready for the fight tonight. We do have capacity for that type of threat. With the joint force, we have alleviated a lot of the threat gaps in the PACOM AOR (Pacific Area of Responsibility),” Gainey said.

-More Weapons and Technology – WARRIOR MAVEN (CLICK HERE)

3 charged– including exec with past ties to Clintons– in alleged scheme to defraud Pentagon billions, DOJ says

Three Northern Virginia men –including one who reportedly celebrated New Year's Eve in 1999 with the Clintons– were charged last week for their alleged roles in a scheme to defraud the Pentagon after receiving an $8 billion contract in 2012 to provide food and supplies to troops in Afghanistan, the Department of Justice announced.

Federal prosecutors said the three—all executives connected to Anham FZCO, a defense contractor based in the United Arab Emirates— knowingly gave false estimates of completion dates for a warehouse intended to provide supplies for troops in Afghanistan in order to win contracts. They allegedly provided "misleading photographs" to show that the project was further along than it was.

"Specifically, the indictment alleges that, in February of 2012, the defendants and others caused Anham employees to transport construction equipment and materials to the proposed site of one of the warehouse complexes to create the false appearance of an active construction site," a Department of Justice statement read.

The company won the contract in 2011 to build warehouses at Bagram Air Field, but as the deadline approached, prosecutors said one warehouse was a concrete slab in the ground, and construction did not yet start on the second one, Stars and Stripes reported.

Abdul Huda Farouki, 75, the former Anham CEO; his brother Mazen Farouki, 73; and Salah Maarouf, 71, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to eight counts each of fraud and violating sanctions against Iran, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday. The men were charged in Washington, D.C.

Abdul Huda Farouki and his wife were Washington socialites and donated to the Clinton family charity, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Washington Post reported that the former CEO celebrated New Year's Eve with the Clintons in 1999 and was invited to a state dinner. The report pointed to a Bloomberg article that cited a government audit that found that Anham overbilled the Pentagon $4.4 million.

The Journal first reported on the company allegedly moving equipment in a military contract through Iran, a possible violation of sanctions. The government said that the former CEO fired off an email to a senior defense official that "falsely claimed" senior management at the company were unaware of the transshipments.

The company has denied all charges. Anham reportedly said it helped the U.S. save $1.4 billion by reducing prices. The company echoed the not guilty pleas and said it is confident the defendants would be exonerated.

"ANHAM continues to cooperate with the Justice Department. Nevertheless, the company continues to believe that the purported violations are without legal merit," the company said in a statement on its website, the paper reported.

Their next hearing is Dec. 6.

Edmund DeMarche is a news editor for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @EDeMarche.

US servicemen killed in Afghanistan bomb attack identified

The Pentagon on Wednesday released the names of three servicemen killed a day earlier in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan.

Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, age 29, of Lexington, Virginia; Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, age 39, of Brush Prairie, Washington; and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, age 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania died of injuries sustained in the attack in Afghanistan's central Ghazni Province, southwest of the capital, Kabul.

Tuesday's attack was the deadliest against U.S. forces in Afghanistan this year. Three other service members were wounded in the explosion along with an American contractor.

In all, 12 Americans have been killed in combat in Afghanistan this year, matching the total killed in 2017.

Ross and Emond were assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Army Special Operations Command spokesman Loren Bymer said that Ross was on his second overseas tour, while Emond was on his seventh. Both men were posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Ross is survived by his wife and parents, while Emond is survived by his wife and three children.

Elchin was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, based at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. He had arrived in Afghanistan this past August. His commendations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with Valor and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

"Dylan had an unusual drive to succeed and contribute to the team. He displayed maturity and stoicism beyond his years, and was always level-headed, no matter the situation,” said squad commander Lt. Col. Gregory Walsh, in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dylan's family, fiancé, and friends. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten."

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Burn pit vet’s widower says memos show that grave illness didn’t need to happen

It was in 2009 when Brian Muller first met his wife, Amie.

“We actually met at a music venue. And at the time I was playing music in a band and she had some friends there that were at the event,” Muller, 45, from Woodbury, Minn., recalls in a recent interview with Fox News. “Her friends forced her to go out. I forced myself to go out and just to see some music.”

He remembers how they discussed her service with the Minnesota Air National Guard.

“We ended up talking about what she does with the military,” he says, “and at that time, she was doing a project to make video memorials for gold star families. Families that lost loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan or any type of war.”

“She asked me to write a song for those videos. And that's how we kind of started our relationship, as– friends, and then it developed from there.”

Brian has never served in the military but was impressed by Amie’s service — including her two tours in Iraq.

“She wanted to fly, and she joined the Air Force. And she got deployed and had her life kind of uprooted there for a while.”

Amie was stationed at Air Force Base Balad during both of her tours in 2005 and 2007 and while her active service was already behind her, the effects from her time on that base still lingered.

“She didn't really want to talk about her time over there,” Brian says. “Anytime a door would slam or a loud noise, she'd get startled very easily. She had a lot of PTSD [episodes] from just little things.”

Amie Muller served two tours of duty at AFB Balad in 2005 and 2007 where her husband Brian says she was exposed to the toxic smoke of nearby burn pits. (Courtesy of Brian Muller)

A decade after returning from Iraq, Amie’s physical health also suffered. She was diagnosed with Stage III Pancreatic Cancer.

“I still remember Amie getting the call, and she looked at me,” Muller says about the day they found out about her diagnosis back in April 2016.

“We walked around the corner just to make sure the kids didn't see. I could tell by the look in her face how scared she was. And I just kind of listening in to the call. And we just started shaking.

Both she and Brian believed it was related to her exposure to open-air burn pits used to destroy trash generated on the base. Nearly every U.S. military base in Iraq during the war used the crude method of burn pit disposal, but Balad was known for having one of the largest operations, burning nearly 150 tons of waste a day.

The smoke generated from these pits hung above Amie’s barracks daily.

“She talked about the burn pits even before she got cancer,” Muller recalls, “and how the fact that they would change the filters on these ventilation systems quite frequently. And every time they'd change it would just be this black soot, so thick that you would think you'd have to change it every hour.”

“After she told me what they were burning, you know, all I thought about is all the campfires that we had in our backyard. You don't burn Styrofoam. You don't burn plastic. We all know that, but they were burning all those things. Highly toxic.”

Nearly a decade after her return, Muller was diagnosed with stage III pancreatic cancer and died just nine months later.

As early as Operation Desert Storm in 1991, burn pits were used on U.S. military bases in Iraq. At the height of the Iraq War in 2005, more than 300,000 troops were stationed there and potentially exposed to the smoke and fumes from burn pits.

Thousands of veterans and former contractors returned from the Middle East and have developed rare cancers, respiratory problems, and blood disorders from what they claim are their exposure to toxins from the flaming pits. More than 140,000 active-service members and retirees have put their names on a Burn Pit Registry created by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After Amie was diagnosed and her treatment began, she and her family went public with her story in the hopes that it would bring awareness to the dangers she and countless veterans faced after what they believe was a result of burn pit exposure.

Amie succumbed to her illness just nine months after she first diagnosed.

In her absence, Brian continued Amie’s work in raising awareness by sharing her story. He also worked closely with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., toward getting “The Helping Veterans Exposed To Burn Pits Act” — a bipartisan bill recently presented in Washington and signed by President Trump – passed.

The bill will help fund a new center by the Department of Veterans Affairs that will study the effects of burn pit exposure and eventually assist with treatment plans. He also started the Amie Muller Foundation, which helps other veterans who were diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.

“I just hope that our vets are going to get the help they need,” Brian says, “and it's not going bring back Amie, my wife, but it's going to get veterans the help they need.”

But recent findings show that the Pentagon was aware of the dangers of burn pits during the height of the war in Iraq.

Fox News recently obtained a series of memos drafted by top officials at AFB Balad during the same years that Amie served on the base. The authors of the documents — which include commanding officers as well as environmental officials — stated that the operation of burn pits was a danger to those stationed there and that precautions needed to be taken urgently to improve conditions.

“I don’t understand why they didn’t do something. These are people that volunteered to serve our country, and it just disgusts me to see memos like that, from high ranking officers that expressed this concern.”

— Brian Muller

“In my professional opinion, there is an acute health hazard for individuals,” reads a line from one memo written by a Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander and the Chief of Aeromedical Services at Balad in 2006. “There is also the possibility for chronic health hazards associated with the smoke.”

The memo also includes an assessment of the pits in Balad where one environmental inspector said that Balad’s burn pit was “the worst environmental site I have personally visited.”

After inquiries by Fox News regarding the memos, Officials for the Department of Defense said that they would look into the matter and explained their procedural policy and that open-air burn pits are to be operated in a manner that prevents or minimizes risk.

“DOD does not dispose of covered waste in open-air burn pits during contingency operations except when the combatant commander determines there are no feasible alternative methods available,” reads the statement provided by a Defense Department spokeswoman. “DOD minimizes other solid waste disposal in open-air burn pits during contingency operations. Generally, open-air burn pits are a short-term solution.  For the longer term, we use incinerators, engineered landfills, or other accepted solid waste management practices whenever feasible.”

Muller finds the memos troublesome.

“I don't understand why they didn't do something,” he says after being shown a copy of the memos. “These are people that volunteered to serve our country, and it just disgusts me to see memos like that, from high ranking officers that expressed this concern.”

Muller adds that the underlying issue is a lack of accountability.

“The issue is they were doing something they shouldn't have done, that they constantly warned was an environmental hazard,” he says. “And our vets are getting sick. Our vets are dying.”

“You know, there was a fellow that did a video—‘Delay, Deny and Hope You Die.’ And that's kind of what's been going on. They're delaying this as long as possible so that they won't have to deal with as many claims, because most of them will die before they do anything about it.”

Burn pits, like this one at FOB Marez, were originally considered a temporary measure to get rid of huge amounts of waste generated at bases. The array of material sent to the pits is said to have included plastics, batteries, metals, appliances, medicine, dead animals and even human waste. (Courtesy of John Nelson)

Muller also believes that Amie would have never fallen ill if it wasn’t for the fact that she was stationed at Balad.

“I don't think she would have gotten cancer. I really don't. Maybe she would have later in life. Maybe it would have been some other type of cancer. I don't know,” he says. “But something caused inflammation — for something to grow in her body for a long period of time before it was ever seen and diagnosed. There was something going on with all of the vets when they got back.”

In a recent interview with Fox News, Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. Central Command and Multi-National Force-Iraq in 2007, offered an explanation when asked about why burn pits were used on military bases, conceding that the realities of war kept concerns about how to dispose of waste a low priority at that time.

"At that time we weren't worried about burn pits,” The general said back in September. “We were worried about just getting enough water for our troops in the really hot summer. We were looking forward to the time where we might get some real food, real rations, as opposed to MREs and so forth."

The general also expressed that the U.S. has a commitment toward helping those veterans.

“It's a sacred obligation,” Petraeus said. “But comparing what our VA does to any other country's care of veterans…this is the gold standard. Certainly, a gold standard that can always improve, without question. This is an issue, though, where we have a sacred obligation, and we need to meet that obligation.”

Muller believes the general’s recent comments to be a sign of a move in the right direction.

“When you start seeing men in uniform, or women in uniform, people higher up in the military starting to voice their concerns, you know we're making progress.”

Perry Chiaramonte is a producer with Fox News Channel’s Investigative Unit. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych

Burn pit vet’s widower says memos show that grave illness didn’t need to happen

It was in 2009 when Brian Muller first met his wife, Amie.

“We actually met at a music venue. And at the time I was playing music in a band and she had some friends there that were at the event,” Muller, 45, from Woodbury, Minn., recalls in a recent interview with Fox News. “Her friends forced her to go out. I forced myself to go out and just to see some music.”

He remembers how they discussed her service with the Minnesota Air National Guard.

“We ended up talking about what she does with the military,” he says, “and at that time, she was doing a project to make video memorials for gold star families. Families that lost loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan or any type of war.”

“She asked me to write a song for those videos. And that's how we kind of started our relationship, as– friends, and then it developed from there.”

Brian has never served in the military but was impressed by Amie’s service — including her two tours in Iraq.

“She wanted to fly, and she joined the Air Force. And she got deployed and had her life kind of uprooted there for a while.”

Amie was stationed at Air Force Base Balad during both of her tours in 2005 and 2007 and while her active service was already behind her, the effects from her time on that base still lingered.

“She didn't really want to talk about her time over there,” Brian says. “Anytime a door would slam or a loud noise, she'd get startled very easily. She had a lot of PTSD [episodes] from just little things.”

Amie Muller served two tours of duty at AFB Balad in 2005 and 2007 where her husband Brian says she was exposed to the toxic smoke of nearby burn pits. (Courtesy of Brian Muller)

A decade after returning from Iraq, Amie’s physical health also suffered. She was diagnosed with Stage III Pancreatic Cancer.

“I still remember Amie getting the call, and she looked at me,” Muller says about the day they found out about her diagnosis back in April 2016.

“We walked around the corner just to make sure the kids didn't see. I could tell by the look in her face how scared she was. And I just kind of listening in to the call. And we just started shaking.

Both she and Brian believed it was related to her exposure to open-air burn pits used to destroy trash generated on the base. Nearly every U.S. military base in Iraq during the war used the crude method of burn pit disposal, but Balad was known for having one of the largest operations, burning nearly 150 tons of waste a day.

The smoke generated from these pits hung above Amie’s barracks daily.

“She talked about the burn pits even before she got cancer,” Muller recalls, “and how the fact that they would change the filters on these ventilation systems quite frequently. And every time they'd change it would just be this black soot, so thick that you would think you'd have to change it every hour.”

“After she told me what they were burning, you know, all I thought about is all the campfires that we had in our backyard. You don't burn Styrofoam. You don't burn plastic. We all know that, but they were burning all those things. Highly toxic.”

Nearly a decade after her return, Muller was diagnosed with stage III pancreatic cancer and died just nine months later.

As early as Operation Desert Storm in 1991, burn pits were used on U.S. military bases in Iraq. At the height of the Iraq War in 2005, more than 300,000 troops were stationed there and potentially exposed to the smoke and fumes from burn pits.

Thousands of veterans and former contractors returned from the Middle East and have developed rare cancers, respiratory problems, and blood disorders from what they claim are their exposure to toxins from the flaming pits. More than 140,000 active-service members and retirees have put their names on a Burn Pit Registry created by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After Amie was diagnosed and her treatment began, she and her family went public with her story in the hopes that it would bring awareness to the dangers she and countless veterans faced after what they believe was a result of burn pit exposure.

Amie succumbed to her illness just nine months after she first diagnosed.

In her absence, Brian continued Amie’s work in raising awareness by sharing her story. He also worked closely with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., toward getting “The Helping Veterans Exposed To Burn Pits Act” — a bipartisan bill recently presented in Washington and signed by President Trump – passed.

The bill will help fund a new center by the Department of Veterans Affairs that will study the effects of burn pit exposure and eventually assist with treatment plans. He also started the Amie Muller Foundation, which helps other veterans who were diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.

“I just hope that our vets are going to get the help they need,” Brian says, “and it's not going bring back Amie, my wife, but it's going to get veterans the help they need.”

But recent findings show that the Pentagon was aware of the dangers of burn pits during the height of the war in Iraq.

Fox News recently obtained a series of memos drafted by top officials at AFB Balad during the same years that Amie served on the base. The authors of the documents — which include commanding officers as well as environmental officials — stated that the operation of burn pits was a danger to those stationed there and that precautions needed to be taken urgently to improve conditions.

“I don’t understand why they didn’t do something. These are people that volunteered to serve our country, and it just disgusts me to see memos like that, from high ranking officers that expressed this concern.”

— Brian Muller

“In my professional opinion, there is an acute health hazard for individuals,” reads a line from one memo written by a Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander and the Chief of Aeromedical Services at Balad in 2006. “There is also the possibility for chronic health hazards associated with the smoke.”

The memo also includes an assessment of the pits in Balad where one environmental inspector said that Balad’s burn pit was “the worst environmental site I have personally visited.”

After inquiries by Fox News regarding the memos, Officials for the Department of Defense said that they would look into the matter and explained their procedural policy and that open-air burn pits are to be operated in a manner that prevents or minimizes risk.

“DOD does not dispose of covered waste in open-air burn pits during contingency operations except when the combatant commander determines there are no feasible alternative methods available,” reads the statement provided by a Defense Department spokeswoman. “DOD minimizes other solid waste disposal in open-air burn pits during contingency operations. Generally, open-air burn pits are a short-term solution.  For the longer term, we use incinerators, engineered landfills, or other accepted solid waste management practices whenever feasible.”

Muller finds the memos troublesome.

“I don't understand why they didn't do something,” he says after being shown a copy of the memos. “These are people that volunteered to serve our country, and it just disgusts me to see memos like that, from high ranking officers that expressed this concern.”

Muller adds that the underlying issue is a lack of accountability.

“The issue is they were doing something they shouldn't have done, that they constantly warned was an environmental hazard,” he says. “And our vets are getting sick. Our vets are dying.”

“You know, there was a fellow that did a video—‘Delay, Deny and Hope You Die.’ And that's kind of what's been going on. They're delaying this as long as possible so that they won't have to deal with as many claims, because most of them will die before they do anything about it.”

Burn pits, like this one at FOB Marez, were originally considered a temporary measure to get rid of huge amounts of waste generated at bases. The array of material sent to the pits is said to have included plastics, batteries, metals, appliances, medicine, dead animals and even human waste. (Courtesy of John Nelson)

Muller also believes that Amie would have never fallen ill if it wasn’t for the fact that she was stationed at Balad.

“I don't think she would have gotten cancer. I really don't. Maybe she would have later in life. Maybe it would have been some other type of cancer. I don't know,” he says. “But something caused inflammation — for something to grow in her body for a long period of time before it was ever seen and diagnosed. There was something going on with all of the vets when they got back.”

In a recent interview with Fox News, Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. Central Command and Multi-National Force-Iraq in 2007, offered an explanation when asked about why burn pits were used on military bases, conceding that the realities of war kept concerns about how to dispose of waste a low priority at that time.

"At that time we weren't worried about burn pits,” The general said back in September. “We were worried about just getting enough water for our troops in the really hot summer. We were looking forward to the time where we might get some real food, real rations, as opposed to MREs and so forth."

The general also expressed that the U.S. has a commitment toward helping those veterans.

“It's a sacred obligation,” Petraeus said. “But comparing what our VA does to any other country's care of veterans…this is the gold standard. Certainly, a gold standard that can always improve, without question. This is an issue, though, where we have a sacred obligation, and we need to meet that obligation.”

Muller believes the general’s recent comments to be a sign of a move in the right direction.

“When you start seeing men in uniform, or women in uniform, people higher up in the military starting to voice their concerns, you know we're making progress.”

Perry Chiaramonte is a producer with Fox News Channel’s Investigative Unit. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych

Burn pit vet’s widower says memos show that grave illness didn’t need to happen

It was in 2009 when Brian Muller first met his wife, Amie.

“We actually met at a music venue. And at the time I was playing music in a band and she had some friends there that were at the event,” Muller, 45, from Woodbury, Minn., recalls in a recent interview with Fox News. “Her friends forced her to go out. I forced myself to go out and just to see some music.”

He remembers how they discussed her service with the Minnesota Air National Guard.

“We ended up talking about what she does with the military,” he says, “and at that time, she was doing a project to make video memorials for gold star families. Families that lost loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan or any type of war.”

“She asked me to write a song for those videos. And that's how we kind of started our relationship, as– friends, and then it developed from there.”

Brian has never served in the military but was impressed by Amie’s service — including her two tours in Iraq.

“She wanted to fly, and she joined the Air Force. And she got deployed and had her life kind of uprooted there for a while.”

Amie was stationed at Air Force Base Balad during both of her tours in 2005 and 2007 and while her active service was already behind her, the effects from her time on that base still lingered.

“She didn't really want to talk about her time over there,” Brian says. “Anytime a door would slam or a loud noise, she'd get startled very easily. She had a lot of PTSD [episodes] from just little things.”

Amie Muller served two tours of duty at AFB Balad in 2005 and 2007 where her husband Brian says she was exposed to the toxic smoke of nearby burn pits. (Courtesy of Brian Muller)

A decade after returning from Iraq, Amie’s physical health also suffered. She was diagnosed with Stage III Pancreatic Cancer.

“I still remember Amie getting the call, and she looked at me,” Muller says about the day they found out about her diagnosis back in April 2016.

“We walked around the corner just to make sure the kids didn't see. I could tell by the look in her face how scared she was. And I just kind of listening in to the call. And we just started shaking.

Both she and Brian believed it was related to her exposure to open-air burn pits used to destroy trash generated on the base. Nearly every U.S. military base in Iraq during the war used the crude method of burn pit disposal, but Balad was known for having one of the largest operations, burning nearly 150 tons of waste a day.

The smoke generated from these pits hung above Amie’s barracks daily.

“She talked about the burn pits even before she got cancer,” Muller recalls, “and how the fact that they would change the filters on these ventilation systems quite frequently. And every time they'd change it would just be this black soot, so thick that you would think you'd have to change it every hour.”

“After she told me what they were burning, you know, all I thought about is all the campfires that we had in our backyard. You don't burn Styrofoam. You don't burn plastic. We all know that, but they were burning all those things. Highly toxic.”

Nearly a decade after her return, Muller was diagnosed with stage III pancreatic cancer and died just nine months later.

As early as Operation Desert Storm in 1991, burn pits were used on U.S. military bases in Iraq. At the height of the Iraq War in 2005, more than 300,000 troops were stationed there and potentially exposed to the smoke and fumes from burn pits.

Thousands of veterans and former contractors returned from the Middle East and have developed rare cancers, respiratory problems, and blood disorders from what they claim are their exposure to toxins from the flaming pits. More than 140,000 active-service members and retirees have put their names on a Burn Pit Registry created by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After Amie was diagnosed and her treatment began, she and her family went public with her story in the hopes that it would bring awareness to the dangers she and countless veterans faced after what they believe was a result of burn pit exposure.

Amie succumbed to her illness just nine months after she first diagnosed.

In her absence, Brian continued Amie’s work in raising awareness by sharing her story. He also worked closely with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., toward getting “The Helping Veterans Exposed To Burn Pits Act” — a bipartisan bill recently presented in Washington and signed by President Trump – passed.

The bill will help fund a new center by the Department of Veterans Affairs that will study the effects of burn pit exposure and eventually assist with treatment plans. He also started the Amie Muller Foundation, which helps other veterans who were diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.

“I just hope that our vets are going to get the help they need,” Brian says, “and it's not going bring back Amie, my wife, but it's going to get veterans the help they need.”

But recent findings show that the Pentagon was aware of the dangers of burn pits during the height of the war in Iraq.

Fox News recently obtained a series of memos drafted by top officials at AFB Balad during the same years that Amie served on the base. The authors of the documents — which include commanding officers as well as environmental officials — stated that the operation of burn pits was a danger to those stationed there and that precautions needed to be taken urgently to improve conditions.

“I don’t understand why they didn’t do something. These are people that volunteered to serve our country, and it just disgusts me to see memos like that, from high ranking officers that expressed this concern.”

— Brian Muller

“In my professional opinion, there is an acute health hazard for individuals,” reads a line from one memo written by a Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander and the Chief of Aeromedical Services at Balad in 2006. “There is also the possibility for chronic health hazards associated with the smoke.”

The memo also includes an assessment of the pits in Balad where one environmental inspector said that Balad’s burn pit was “the worst environmental site I have personally visited.”

After inquiries by Fox News regarding the memos, Officials for the Department of Defense said that they would look into the matter and explained their procedural policy and that open-air burn pits are to be operated in a manner that prevents or minimizes risk.

“DOD does not dispose of covered waste in open-air burn pits during contingency operations except when the combatant commander determines there are no feasible alternative methods available,” reads the statement provided by a Defense Department spokeswoman. “DOD minimizes other solid waste disposal in open-air burn pits during contingency operations. Generally, open-air burn pits are a short-term solution.  For the longer term, we use incinerators, engineered landfills, or other accepted solid waste management practices whenever feasible.”

Muller finds the memos troublesome.

“I don't understand why they didn't do something,” he says after being shown a copy of the memos. “These are people that volunteered to serve our country, and it just disgusts me to see memos like that, from high ranking officers that expressed this concern.”

Muller adds that the underlying issue is a lack of accountability.

“The issue is they were doing something they shouldn't have done, that they constantly warned was an environmental hazard,” he says. “And our vets are getting sick. Our vets are dying.”

“You know, there was a fellow that did a video—‘Delay, Deny and Hope You Die.’ And that's kind of what's been going on. They're delaying this as long as possible so that they won't have to deal with as many claims, because most of them will die before they do anything about it.”

Burn pits, like this one at FOB Marez, were originally considered a temporary measure to get rid of huge amounts of waste generated at bases. The array of material sent to the pits is said to have included plastics, batteries, metals, appliances, medicine, dead animals and even human waste. (Courtesy of John Nelson)

Muller also believes that Amie would have never fallen ill if it wasn’t for the fact that she was stationed at Balad.

“I don't think she would have gotten cancer. I really don't. Maybe she would have later in life. Maybe it would have been some other type of cancer. I don't know,” he says. “But something caused inflammation — for something to grow in her body for a long period of time before it was ever seen and diagnosed. There was something going on with all of the vets when they got back.”

In a recent interview with Fox News, Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of U.S. Central Command and Multi-National Force-Iraq in 2007, offered an explanation when asked about why burn pits were used on military bases, conceding that the realities of war kept concerns about how to dispose of waste a low priority at that time.

"At that time we weren't worried about burn pits,” The general said back in September. “We were worried about just getting enough water for our troops in the really hot summer. We were looking forward to the time where we might get some real food, real rations, as opposed to MREs and so forth."

The general also expressed that the U.S. has a commitment toward helping those veterans.

“It's a sacred obligation,” Petraeus said. “But comparing what our VA does to any other country's care of veterans…this is the gold standard. Certainly, a gold standard that can always improve, without question. This is an issue, though, where we have a sacred obligation, and we need to meet that obligation.”

Muller believes the general’s recent comments to be a sign of a move in the right direction.

“When you start seeing men in uniform, or women in uniform, people higher up in the military starting to voice their concerns, you know we're making progress.”

Perry Chiaramonte is a producer with Fox News Channel’s Investigative Unit. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych