Monday, August 31, 2009

Naval Research Laboratory - Pushing the Envelope for 76 Years

On a stretch of land adjacent to the Potomac River, some of the nation's top scientists and engineers explore the boundaries of science and technology to help solve the challenges confronting U.S. military forces.

Since 1923, the Naval Research Laboratory, or NRL, has been on the cutting edge of scientific research.

"If the Navy or Marine Corps have a significant technological issue that they are wrestling with, they will come to the Laboratory to see what sorts of applications we have," explained U.S. Navy Capt. Paul Stewart, commanding officer of NRL, in an Aug. 19 interview on "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military."

"The investment of money in the development of sonar back in the 1920s is a perfect example of that. We did not have the means to find submarines other than visible observations from the ship," Stewart said.

Sonar is just one of many advances developed by NRL. Stewart described the invention of radar in the 1920s: "A couple of scientists were sitting on the Potomac and talking by radio to each other across the river, when a ship passed between them. The reflections off that ship led to the concept of reflecting radio waves off of objects, and the first U.S. radar patents came from the Lab," he said.

"It was actually Thomas Edison that we credit with the idea of the laboratory," Stewart explained. As early as 1915, Edison had suggested that "the U.S. government should maintain a research laboratory to develop guns, new explosives and other techniques of military and naval progression," and he served as head of the Navy Consulting Board, a scientific body that helped formulate the Naval Research Laboratory that was commissioned in 1923, according to Stewart.

Stewart stated that many of the discoveries of NRL have applications beyond the military, and some have changed all of our lives. "We do have an eye for military applications," he said, "but not all of our research leads to that. The Global Positioning System, or GPS, is a perfect example of a wonderful basic research concept that was worked on here for many years but then clearly led to broad, worldwide applications."

In addition to the development of sonar and radar, Stewart said that NRL research led to such pioneering advances as nuclear propulsion in submarines, early satellite technology, high frequency wave propagation theory which led to the development of HF communications, fracture mechanics, the fire suppressant agent known as AFFF, and various anti-corrosive agents.

According to Stewart, there are four technical directorates at NRL: the Systems Directorate, the Material Sciences and Compondent Technology Directorate, the Ocean and Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate, and the Naval Center for Space Technology Directorate.

"The Naval Center for Space Technology is a unique national asset," he said, "and they're the only federal organization that I'm aware of that can design, build, calibrate, control and test satellites, all under one roof right here at the laboratory.

Stewart noted that there are various satellite offices in addition to the main complex. Two of the larger ones are in Monterey, Calif., where they are co-located with the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, and at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi where they are co-located with the Naval Oceanographic Office. Stewart emphasized the benefits of being co-located with fleet operators. "You want to make sure you are meeting the customer's needs, and you want to make sure you are relevant," he said.

In a world of new, unconventional threats to U.S. forces, NRL continues to play an important role. As an example, Stewart cited the development of light-weight body armor known as QuadGard that is used by Marines and Army personnel to better protect them against improvised explosive devices. "The scientists that are working on these problems are very passionate about it because they realize that the work they do here on a daily basis saves arms, legs, and human lives," he said.

Stewart explained that some funding provided to NRL is for pure research that will not become applied until sometime in the future. Rather than applying known science to immediate problems, NRL researchers are expanding our understanding of science to provide novel solutions to warfighting challenges.

Stewart described some of the unclassified work that researchers are currently pursuing. "Being able to move large amounts of data around the world safely and securely is a big issue, and we're doing a lot of investments that could potentially change the way the internet functions," he said. He also described ongoing work to develop new non-silicon nano-materials that may speed up computers by several orders of magnitude; research that may enable the production of non-polluting hydrocarbon fuels from seawater; the development of photovoltaic fuel cells for autonomous unmanned vehicles; and even research into the elusive solution to nuclear fusion.

"There's a lot of great basic research going on right now that could potentially change the way we work," Stewart said

Bob Freeman (NNS)
      # END

Tracing the Rise of Piracy

Pirates are often in the news for their criminal activities at sea, but their antics are rooted in history.

Pirates have been around since man first took to the high seas, and a type of sea raider known as a privateer emerged between the 15th and 19th centuries.

Michael Crawford, a senior Navy historian, traced the rise of privateering and touched on strategies to combat modern pirates during an Aug. 24 "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable.

"A privateer is a private man of war who has a license from his sovereign government to attack the ships belonging to citizens of a country with which he is at war," Crawford said. "If he does capture an enemy ship, he has to go through all the legal requirements; he has to bring the ship into port and have it tried in an admiralty court."

Crawford traced the rise of privateering to the 15th century, when members of the merchant marine appealed to their kings after losing property in attacks at sea. The monarchs issued them letters of "marque and reprisal," giving them permission to retaliate and recoup their losses.

The use of privateers eventually expanded from peacetime to wartime, Crawford said. "The kings realized they could take advantage of these private merchant men who had armed ships to supplement their navies."

Privateers played a key role in the War of 1812, he said. Crawford estimates that the U.S. State Department issued a few thousand privateer ship commissions during the conflict with activity centered around Boston and Salem, Mass., and in Baltimore. The Baltimore privateers used highly maneuverable schooners and deployed them in pairs, Crawford said.

"One of these Baltimore clippers would go off and try to distract the British warships that were guarding the convoy of merchant men, and while that privateer was occupying the protecting ships, the other privateer would swoop in onto the merchant men and try to pick off as many of them as it could," he explained.

As a result, Crawford said, "the attack on Baltimore was, in large part, because the British hated the city for its role in sending out the privateers, which were actually doing a lot of damage to British commerce."

International conventions drafted in the 19th century effectively ended the recognition of privateering as a legitimate form of warfare. However, pirates continue to attack commercial and naval ships and to threaten regional security.

On Aug. 26, Navy officials reported that Somali pirates aboard a hijacked ship fired at, but did not hit, a Navy helicopter from the USS Chancellorsville. Somali pirates hijacked the Taiwanese-flagged Win Far vessel in April and have since used it as a "mother ship" to conduct attacks, including an attack on the U.S.-flagged Maersk-Alabama in the Indian Ocean south of Garacad, Somalia.

Meanwhile, Dutch Navy Commodore Pieter Bindt, commander of the European Union counter-piracy task group, visited the Combined Task Force 151 flagship USS Anzio at sea earlier this week to discuss counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

About 30 ships from 17 nations are taking part in missions to deter, disrupt and suppress acts of piracy off the Somalia coast.

"Piracy is a threat to the security of all nations," Navy Rear Adm. Scott Sanders, task force commander, said. "We are committed to continuing operations with our naval counterparts to create a lawful maritime order and deter acts of piracy activity here."

The strategies used to fight privateers in centuries past still hold true today, Crawford said.

"One is you can't fight pirates with large warships. You have to have ships that have shallow drafts that can go in and chase the pirates close to shore," he explained.

"And the other thing we learned is that it's best to hit the pirates in their shore facilities. It's easier to stop their depravations ashore than it is to do it on the high seas."

Judith Snyderman (NNS)
      # END

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Navy Research Lab's Microwave Imager/Sounder Program

Naval Research Laboratory's Spacecraft Engineering Department and Remote Sensing Division announced it has successfully completed the system requirements and design review for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Microwave Imager/Sounder program.

The MIS SRDR was the first major development milestone and was held in May. The program sponsor, the NPOESS Integrated Program Office (IPO), has certified the SRDR to be a success. IPO's Independent Review Team (IRT) reported that "the NRL development team demonstrated outstanding microwave design experience and knowledge" and that it was "an outstanding review by the IPO and NRL team." NRL is now proceeding toward preliminary design review (PDR), which is scheduled for spring of 2010.

"The approval to proceed to the design-build stage in preparation for the PDR is a major milestone for the MIS program," said John Schaub, superintendent, NRL Spacecraft Engineering Department. "Upon completion, this next generation sensor will deliver improved global microwave radiometry and sounding data, providing higher resolution microwave imagery and specialized meteorological and oceanographic products, including tropical cyclone structure."

The NPOESS tri-agency Integrated Program Office (IPO) competitively selected NRL in 2008 to build MIS because of its demonstrated experience and knowledge developing the first space-borne polarimetric microwave radiometer, WindSat, operating successfully since 2003 on the Coriolis mission.

The first MIS sensor is scheduled to fly aboard the second NPOESS spacecraft (C2) expected to launch in 2016.

NPOESS is a polar-orbiting satellite system used to monitor global environmental conditions and collect and disseminate data related to Earth's weather, atmosphere, oceans, land and near-space environment providing data for long-range weather and climate forecasts. In 1994, it was recognized that converging the existing polar systems from the DoC and DoD would result in a higher performance integrated system. NPOESS gathers those existing polar-orbiting satellite systems into a single national program.

The Naval Research Laboratory is the Department of the Navy's corporate laboratory. NRL conducts a broad program of scientific research, technology and advanced development. The laboratory, with a total complement of nearly 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, DC, with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss.; and Monterey, Calif.

Dan Perry
# #ND

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

DoD's Program Priorities -- Making Do

The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stressed relevance, adaptability and affordability as top concerns for programs ranging from nuclear weapons to satellites during the Space and Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville (AL) Aug. 19.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright emphasized the importance of striking a balance between "the exquisite and good enough," as reviews of several defense programs -- prompted by the new administration -- are under way in Washington.

The Quadrennial Defense Review, Nuclear Posture Review, Ballistic Missile Defense Review and Space Posture Review give defense and government officials a chance to relook at these programs and make sure they are "doing the right things," the general said.

The QDR outlines the national defense strategy for force structure, acquisitions and long-term budget planning. The unique advantage of this QDR is that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates stayed on after the administration changed, an unusual but fortunate decision, Cartwright noted. With the United States engaged in two wars and the challenges facing the U.S. and global economies, the secretary's decision cut out much of the acrimony typically associated with QDR discussions.

During his speech, Cartwright posed several questions arising from the review.

"Are the tools that we're procuring relevant to the reality of the wars that we're in and to anybody's best estimate of the wars that we're likely to go to?" he asked. "Is that strategy adaptable? Because if we've learned anything over the last eight years of this conflict, it's that the enemy has a vote in where we're going to go and where this fight's going to go.

"And the third is -- although sometimes it doesn't seem like it when we talk about trillions of dollars -- affordability is a huge issue," he said.

Cartwright also touched on nuclear posture and ballistic missile defense, stating that the current "one-size-fits-all" approach to nuclear deterrence is in question. These strategies have worked for the past 50 years, he said, but the question is whether they will work for the next 50. With emerging threats in North Korea and Iran, and non-nation state actors suxch as al-Qaida and the Taliban, the United States has to ensure nations under its extended deterrence "umbrella" feel secure enough that they don't proliferate nuclear weapons of their own.

The United States must look at its relationships with nations in a different way, encourage neighboring countries to band together to form a regional, extended deterrence construct that is not weapons-of-mass-destruction centric, and convince those nations that there are credible alternatives to nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for their safety and security, he said.

"These are the kinds of thoughts that we're trying to understand as we start to look at the synergies between the Ballistic Missile Defense Review and the Nuclear Posture Review," Cartwright explained. "How do these things fit together? And it's not one size fits all."

The general tied his three themes to the Space Posture Review as well, underscoring the importance of developing space capabilities similar to current missile defense capabilities, before the United States loses its competitive edge in space.

"Right now, the enemy is imposing cost on us. We react with exquisite, very expensive, long-time-to-discover systems. We've got to turn that around. We've got to be in front of it," Cartwright said. "We've gone the right direction in missile defense. We have proliferated; we have so many choices, the adversaries just plain don't know where to go.

"We've got to do the same with the capabilities we have in space, integrating them across domains, so it doesn't matter what [the enemy does] to my air, ground or my space," he continued. "There's always another answer, and we can adapt faster than you can change."

Army Capstone Concept balances winning today's wars with preparing for future co

Updates to the Army Capstone Concept, expected to be published in December, were briefed at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's senior leader conference last week.

"We have to be able to defeat the enemy, conduct security operations, and also conduct a broad range of activities while conducting stability operations - and be able to transition continuously across the spectrum of offensive, defensive, stability and civil-support operations," said Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center's Concepts Development and Experimentation Directorate.

The new Capstone Concept, McMaster said, examines how the Army operates under conditions of complexity and uncertainty in an era of persistent conflict. The concept's purpose is to put into operational terms Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey's vision of balancing the Army to win today's wars while describing how the future Army will fight the wars of tomorrow.

The previous writing of the Army Capstone Concept was in 2005 and was led by Maj. Gen. David Fastabend.

"The biggest change is that we're recognizing some of the limitations in technologies that were designed to improve situational understanding and situational awareness," said McMaster. "We understand now how enemy countermeasures can place what we need to know about the enemy and what we need to know about the situation outside the reach of technology."

In the new edition of the Army Capstone Concept, understanding the situation will be better defined and what the Army learns about the ethnic and cultural aspects of a situation will be factored into whatever threat the Army will face in the future.

The primary purpose of the capstone concept is to lead force development and employment by establishing a common framework to think about future Army operations; place modernization decisions in a broader context of future armed conflict; establish a conceptual foundation for subordinate concepts; guide experimentation in Army operations and capabilities; and guide capability development.

"We looked at how the Army intends to operate and face the challenges in the future operating environment against what we're calling hybrid threats," said McMaster. "By looking at the current operating environment and the hybrid threats we face and could face in the future, this helps the Army make a grounded projection into the near future and understand what challenges our Army will face as part of a Joint, interdepartmental and multinational force, and then develop the capability our Army will need to fight the future battle."

The new Army Capstone Concept isn't going to change the way the Army operates.

"This will help our Army fight effectively as part of the Joint force," said McMaster. "We looked at what the Army brings to the fight. The Army has to bring to the situation the ability to establish control over wide areas and defeat enemy forces. To establish control and defeat the enemy, we need to have capabilities complementary to those in the Joint force. In this concept, we have identified what we need to bring to the fight in combined arms capabilities."

As the 20-member team led by McMaster began planning for the development of the capstone concept, there were several major questions they hoped to answer when the final product is published: one, what is a description of future armed conflict; two, how should the Army operate to conduct Joint land operations that contribute to political outcomes consistent with strategic objectives; and three, what additional or new capabilities should the Army provide to Joint force commanders to meet a broad range of national security threats?

As the concept is being developed, McMaster's team realized that the Army faced a constant problem. How does the Army apply resources made available to them to overcome a combination of hybrid threats and adaptive enemies in complex operating environments?

"The first thing the Army needs to do is understand what the demands on it will be," said McMaster. "The key thing is to have flexibility. No matter how hard we think about it, you're never going to get it quite right. The key is to not be so far off the mark that you can't adjust once the demands of future armed conflict are revealed to you."

There are many aspects that go into the problem and many different solutions:

• Conducting operations under the condition of transparency;
• Conducting operations with partners and among diverse populations;
• Overcoming anti-access in the context of a Joint operations;
• Conducting and sustaining operations from and across extended distances;
• Fighting for information (physical reconnaissance and human intelligence);
• Employing the manpower, mobility, firepower and protection to close with the enemy;
• Conducting area security operations over large areas (including population security and precision fires to limit collateral damage);
• Developing partner capabilities (for example, security force assistance);
• Protecting the network and routinely fighting in degraded mode;
• Overcoming hybrid threats/complex web defenses in complex urban terrain;
• Ensuring tactical mobility in complex terrain and overcoming enemy countermobility efforts; and
• Reshaping logistics and the demand side of sustainment to ensure operations without pause and freedom of movement in non-contiguous areas of operations.

With operations ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan and facing an uncertain future with a possible unknown enemy, what is happening in the world is a fluid situation, so the Army Capstone Concept needs to be able to be adjustable to what the Army faces in the future, McMaster said.

"The concept recognizes that we are in a very complex environment," said McMaster. "We're engaged and will continue to be engaged in conflicts that will continue to evolve based on interaction with the enemy and other destabilizing factors. We will work to continually reframe and reassess the situation - and that is one of the foundations of the Army Capstone Concept."

The concept isn't directive in nature and is intended to be a guide of how to prepare for the possibility of future conflict.

"We are trying to capture a broad range of contingencies that are derived from national security guidance [and the] national defense strategy," said McMaster. "The concept is based on what we see as current and emerging threats to national security. Those include some we have familiarity with, such as networked terrorist organizations, hostile states and hybrid threats from both state and non-state actors - and grafted on top of the problem are criminal organizations. You also have insurgency and counterinsurgency, and that has a dimension of civil war involved [in it]."

John Harlow


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Military Doctors Consider Longer Medevac Routes for Wounded

The U.S. military is rethinking its "golden hour" goal for critically injured troops, questioning whether it should spend a little longer evacuating patients to get them to a better hospital, reports Army Times.

"Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been adamant that troops in Afghanistan,   where the craggy terrain makes medical evacuations difficult, get help as quickly as those in Iraq. Wounded troops in Iraq generally are reached, stabilized and hospitalized within what medical providers call the "golden hour" — the time it generally takes to deliver care needed to save a person's life.
"But at the base hospital located on what Afghans call the "desert of death," doctors Tuesday told Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway that it's better to make sure patients who are wounded in battle zones get the best care possible, rather than be taken to the closest medical facility."
More at Army Times.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Air Force Research Lab holds wargame at Maxwell

Exploring the potential military utility of future Air Force technologies is the key objective of a wargame held Aug. 10-14 by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Maxwell's Air Force Wargaming Institute, said the chief of AFRL's Strategic Planning Branch.

"This is a virtual exercise of potential war-fighting capabilities/system concepts," Dr. Tamara Chelette said. "It is a unique wargame that allows for a good deal more creativity, and that is something we don't get to do in other wargames we are involved in."

Scott Ley, team lead for AFRL Focused Long-Term Challenge Plans and Programs, said the wargame is joint in nature, as members from many services and organizations are participating.

"We have representatives from most of the Air Force major commands; the Army, Navy and Marine Corps; and some geographic commands, and they are serving as operators of these potential new system concepts AFRL has created," he said. "We also have AFRL scientists here to serve as subject matter experts on the proposed use of the new technologies, and to learn from the operators on how to use the new systems."

Mr. Ley said the Air Force has AFRL working on "40 approved problems," and research lab personnel are applying technology to build potential warfighting capabilities to solve those problems.

"We're creating capabilities for future warfighting, and are here to explore the value of these capabilities with the users [operators]," he said.

Matt Caffrey, AFRL lead for wargaming, said he felt, as of Wednesday, the game was "going well," and one explanation might be the high level of diversity in this wargame.

"We have every service represented, and one of the reasons for being comprehensive is that we need to anticipate the capabilities of warfighting concepts," he said. "We need to have all types of warfighters because a capability designed for one service might well be useful to another service for something other than the originally intended purpose. It is easy to say joint, but much harder to truly identify opportunities for joint advantage."

Mr. Caffrey said what "breathes life" into a wargame is the players, and he is "very impressed" with players in this game because they are adding as much value to the wargame as they can. He said three goals of the wargame are: to gain insight into potential military utility; support the Air Force Futures Game; and to learn as much as possible from this exercise to make next year's game better.

Dr. Chelette said the wargame also offers a chance to "fine-tune" the concepts of operation of the warfighting concepts being played in the game. She said AFRL devotes a lot of time and effort to its new technologies before they come to the game. Another possible advantage of the wargame is that operators may find better ways to do things that are presented during the game. Dr. Chelette said AFRL members who have come to this year's event have a challenge to make the systems better.

"Something else that deserves recognition is the help we have received from Air Force Wargaming Institute personnel and the leadership at AFRL," she said. "AFWI support could not have been better, and our leadership, especially our commander Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, has been very supportive of this project. This wargame is the culmination of the work of hundreds of scientists and engineers from across AFRL over the last year."

Mr. Ley said he too wanted to thank AFWI personnel for their support of the game, as AFWI is a "fabulous facility" for hosting the wargame, and "the staff has been great" to everyone.

Mr. Caffrey said this is the second year the research lab has conducted the wargame, which will be held annually. More than 70 individuals participated in this year's event, and AFRL has received help from Air War College and Air University's LeMay Center.

Dr. Chelette said in addition to its headquarters at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, AFRL has divisions in 10 other locations and satellite operations in 40 locations around the world.
Carl Bergquist

Friday, August 21, 2009

Female Marines Connect With Afghanis, Gain Intel

An all-female unit of 46 Marines is the military's latest innovation in its rivalry with the Taliban for the populace's loyalty. Afghan women are viewed as good intelligence sources, and more open to the basics of the military's hearts-and-minds effort, writes


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Odierno proposes three-part security force for Northern Iraq

The top U.S. commander in Iraq has proposed a tripartite arrangement between American, Iraqi and Kurdish forces to shore up security in disputed areas of northern Iraq.

The proposal by Gen. Raymond Odierno is only in the discussion phase, but leaders involved in the talks have been receptive, according to a defense official speaking on background. The initiative has been characterized as "a confidence-building measure" aimed at protecting Iraqis and preventing disputed areas "from being used as a seam" by insurgents.

Defense officials declined to comment on how the proposed security force would be implemented in accordance with an agreement between Baghdad and Washington that forced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraqi cities June 30.

If approved, the altered security arrangement would be a temporary measure to improve confidence in the security situation and pressure terrorist networks, officials said.

Following his meeting yesterday with senior officials from Baghdad and Kurdistan, Odierno hailed the talks as an important step forward in defining a joint security framework for the disputed areas in the provinces of Ninewa, Diyala and Kirkuk.

"Today's meeting represents an important first step in working through the security issues in the disputed areas," Odierno said yesterday in a Multinational Force Iraq news release. "I was pleased with the positive and overall sense of cooperation. All parties are focused on improving security for all Iraqis."

Odierno met yesterday with the Iraqi government's defense and interior ministers, and the interior minister and military commander of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the news release said.

In addition to the proposed troop arrangement, the group also discussed unity of command, coordination measures, force-level arrangements, intelligence sharing, and rule-of-law oversight, according to the release.

John Kruzel (AFPS)


Army to Prepare New Modernization Plan by Labor Day

After terminating its $160 billion Future Combat Systems program, the Army is on track to complete by Labor Day a new outline for how it plans to modernize its fighting forces, reports Government Executive.


Monday, August 17, 2009

National Guard cannot revert to strategic reserve

The National Guard cannot go back to the days of the strategic reserve, the chief of the National Guard Bureau told conferees in Rochester, Minn., on Aug. 9.

"We must maintain the level of efficiency and effectiveness that has been achieved today," said Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, who spoke at the 38th annual conference of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS).

"We can't be relegated to obsolete and incompatible equipment like we were during the Cold War," he said. "We have proven that that old way of doing business does not work in today's environment."

McKinley added that the Guard cannot return to a model of one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

"In an era of persistent conflict, we need a predictable rotational model and we must maintain proficiency and interoperability with the rest of the force," he said. "We must modernize at a proportional rate to the active component."

This period in history is exactly what the Guard and reserve were built for, McKinley said. "We are shock absorbers in an all-volunteer force that allows us to go to this level of tempo."

How long can the Guard remain an operational force? McKinley said he asks the same question: "If resourced with the personnel and equipment to maintain readiness, can we maintain this optempo indefinitely, including floods, fires and hurricanes that we support for our governors? So far, I am hearing the answer is, 'Yes.'"

McKinley said the Guard proves this by enlisting high-quality recruits.

He said the better question is: What do we want to be when the war stops? "Even though the Guard, properly resourced could sustain the optempo, our nation cannot afford to do so," he said.

Even during steady state, the Guard will continue to have persistent requirements, McKinley said. For example, the Air National Guard flies the vast majority of air sovereignty alert missions, and "we are going to be challenged here in the near future as we retire our aging fleet."

The Chief said persistent conflict and constrained resources will be with us for the foreseeable future.

"While I recognize this to be true, I fear our leaders may eventually become worn down in the fight for resources and lower our expectations for our Airmen and Soldiers," McKinley said. "I fully expect you to continue to push enlisted issues up, so they are prioritized appropriately."

About 85 percent of the Guard force is enlisted, and "central to the way I approach every issue as the chief of the National Guard Bureau, is how decisions we make affect you, the backbone of our services," McKinley said.

Ellen Krenke (NGB)

Army's New MultiCam Field Uniforms: Questions and Praise

The US army's new MultiCam camouflage uniform is designed to provide better cover than the old pixelated ACU uniform. Most soldiers to date agree, but some criticize the change, reports Army Times.


Friday, August 14, 2009

USN Maritime Civil Affairs Unit Integrates into CJTF-HOA Staff

Just four months after establishing a maritime civil affairs unit (MCAU) at Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) at Camp Lemonier (Djibouti), the unit has fully integrated with the staff and is serving as the command and control element for three MCA teams deployed to HOA.

"With MCAU-HOA, the unique demands of operating in littoral areas can be addressed by those who specialize in those areas," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. David Warshaw, deputy director of civil-military operations for CJTF-HOA. "These Sailors are able to very succinctly communicate what they can and cannot do and were able to quickly integrate into a demanding planning and executing cycle in CJTF-HOA."

The MCAU is comprised of three MCA Sailors who support civil-military operations mission planning and facilitate the information flow between the deployed MCA teams and the task force. Additionally, the MCAU serves as the administrative and logistics support node for the MCA teams.

"The MCAU provides the units a familiar face – someone they have worked with during the training cycle and someone who understands what is required to make their deployment more effective," said Lt. Stuart Ferguson, officer in charge of the MCAU.

In addition to the daily support, the MCAU provides the task force and deployed MCA teams a unit serving as the command and control element of forces ashore. This is seen as a major step forward in the maturing process of the 2-year-old MCA Group.

"You can't put a price tag on how much maritime civil affairs is getting out of this," said U.S. Army Col. William Hollingsworth, CJTF-HOA's director of civil-military operations. "What it's going to allow them to have is a core group of individuals with deployment experience working as a MCAU and who have the ability to teach and train other leaders. I see that as a big step for maritime civil affairs."

The operational experience is also beneficial for the Sailors assigned to the MCAU.

"I'm gaining an appreciation of how a joint staff works," said Electronics Technician 1st Class (EXW/SW) Daniel Altobelli, MCAU assistant officer in charge.
"This experience will also prepare me for when I'm deployed as part of a maritime civil affairs team."

Before assuming command and control responsibilities over the assigned MCA teams, CJTF-HOA partnered the MCAU with the Army civil affairs company commanders who previously commanded the MCA teams. This mentorship and turnover phase provided a smooth transfer of command and control responsibilities and provided Army and Navy civil affairs personnel an opportunity to work closely with each other.

"I have found these Sailors to be smart, resourceful and motivated," said Warshaw. "What impresses me the most is how well prepared each individual is for the mission. They have mastered the art of the area study and came into the theater having done their homework on the intricacies of the areas of operation in which they work."

Maritime civil affairs is part of the Navy's effort to use smart power, the balance of conventional and irregular forces, to extend regional and maritime security to the civilian populace. The Maritime Civil Affairs Group has a MCAU and three MCA teams deployed in support of CJTF-HOA.

The MCAU and teams are deployed to help build lasting relationships with African partners and conduct civil affairs activities in support of the CJTF-HOA mission. Through a strategy of cooperative conflict prevention, CJTF-HOA helps build the internal capacities of East African countries in order to prevail against extremists exploiting instability.

Jon McMillan (NNS)

Israel, Turkey, U.S. Set to Begin Reliant Mermaid Exercise

The trilateral maritime search and rescue exercise Reliant Mermaid 2009, a four-day series of evolutions in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, will commence Aug. 17.

Maritime forces from Israel, Turkey and the United States are scheduled to participate in cooperative activities involving in-port harbor training, at-sea search and rescue scenarios and post-exercise discussions, each geared to enhance interoperability and strengthen ongoing maritime partnerships.

Contributing U.S. forces will consist of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stout (DDG 55) as well as staff members from U.S. 6th Fleet.

The annual humanitarian search and rescue exercise enables participants to increase the ability to share information and provides Sailors from each nation the opportunity to familiarize themselves with other navies' operating procedures.

The exercise will contribute to overall joint readiness in response to possible future humanitarian assistance efforts or maritime search and rescue operations in the region.

David Holmes (NNS)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pentagon officials plan cultural awareness training

Defense Department officials are developing a new training program that will teach military members and civilians how to be culturally competent and aware when interacting with people from different lands, a senior official told reporters Aug. 12.

Cross-cultural competence is "something that we want to bring to the department as a critical piece of training that we think needs to be incorporated into our overall training establishment," said Gail H. McGinn, the deputy undersecretary of defense for plans, during an interview with Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service reporters.

Among her many responsibilities, which include performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, Ms. McGinn is also the senior language authority for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She is responsible for improving foreign language capability within the department and also oversees policy development for the diversity and equal opportunity programs.

Since U.S. military forces conduct missions worldwide, Ms. McGinn said, they should "understand the cultural nuances of areas into which they are going to be deployed."

As the U.S. population becomes increasingly diverse, it's also useful for military members to be culturally aware so they can better understand comrades in the ranks from different cultural backgrounds, she added.

Cross-cultural competence training "is basically equipping people with the skills to understand what culture is, how people use culture, how they interact with each other within their culture," Ms. McGinn explained, "so that wherever they are deployed in the world or with host populations or with our allies, (they) understand that people operate differently based upon the cultural background they come from."

Military and civilian personnel who've been cross-culturally trained should be more effective in different cultural environments, Ms. McGinn pointed out. And that, she said, contributes toward mission success.

Though U.S. military forces today normally receive pre-deployment training, Ms. McGinn said, servicemembers may be deployed on short notice or can be quickly sent to perform humanitarian missions in foreign countries.

"So, what cross-cultural competence (training) tries to do is provide foundational skills, to say 'Let's understand what a culture is," she said. "Let's understand what it means to people that grow up in a certain area in terms of how they interact, how they engage with the world, how they engage with you.'"

Cross-cultural competence training also involves lessons on specific cultures, Ms. McGinn said.

The department sponsored a symposium, "The Role of Cross-Cultural Competence in Organizational and Mission Success," June 30 and July 1 at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., Ms. McGinn said. Participants discussed the best way to integrate cross-cultural competence curriculum into the military's existing training and education system.

The institute also serves as the coordinating agency for the Defense Language Office to ensure synchronicity among all services with respect to cross-cultural training.

Learning another language can become a window into the culture of a foreign people, said Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during his Aug. 10 visit to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif. As U.S. servicemembers continue to conduct missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the institute's language courses "are as important as any undertaking that we have in the United States military right now," he added.

"It is really important that we listen to other people, that we listen to other cultures, that we pay attention to how they see their problems," Admiral Mullen said. "I call that seeing it through their eyes; putting yourself in a position that actually focuses on what they are thinking about, as opposed to how we think of them, or how we think about, in our Western ways, we might solve their problems."

Gerry Gilmore (AFPS)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Naval Technology Enhances Warfighters' Threat Detection Capability

Several technological systems connected to provide an over-the-horizon threat detection capability during a demonstration Aug. 5-6 at Damn Neck, Va.

The combination of systems is designed to effectively warn Navy warfighters of threats. Navy and industry officials watched the systems successfully converge to produce a valuable new technological capability – a "systems-of-systems" – that can benefit Navy platforms such as the littoral combat ship (LCS) with an early warning capability.

"The integration of various capabilities to produce this over-the-horizon capability is a huge step forward for warfighters," said NSWC Dahlgren Division Commander Capt. Sheila Patterson. "It's the product of our partnership with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in our development initiatives and the involvement of warfighters to integrate their needs from the very beginning."

The Naval Expeditionary Overwatch (NEO) system combined with SeaLancet radios, AN/SPQ-9B radar and the Integrated Combat Management System (ICMS) to send extended threat detection information to a control station for the expansion of the defensive perimeter - beyond a ship's on-board capabilities.

"NEO can pass the threat detection data back to platforms such as littoral combat ship," said NEO Project Manager Nelson Mills. "This demonstration drives home the critical value of unmanned surface vessels (USVs) for surface warfare by extending the defensive envelope of ships and other command stations."

The NEO system is the integration of threat detection sensors and engagement systems onto both manned and unmanned platforms. ICMS integrates the sensors and weapons aboard LCS.

This over-the-horizon threat detection capability was made possible by combining the NEO USV intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors with the SeaLancet tactical radio, ICMS and the AN/SPQ-9B radar.

The SeaLancet radio communicates high-volume sensor data from multiple Navy platforms to distant tactical ships, such as the littoral combat ship. AN/SPQ-9B radar detects sea skimming missiles at the horizon even in heavy clutter while simultaneously providing detection and tracking of surface targets and beacon responses.

"NEO unmanned surface vessels broaden a ship's defensive perimeter and provides early warning for littoral surface warfare," said Frank Lagano, NSWCDD Deputy NEO Program Manager. "We did this by integrating warfighter requirements and working with our industry partners – including Northrop Grumman and Harris Corporation – to provide the final links that can bring this technology to warfighters on a grand scale."

During the two-day event, the USV successfully provided early threat detection from outside the defensive perimeter capabilities of a platform by using onboard sensors to pass radar tracks and video to ICMS and the NEO ground station at the Center for Surface Combat Systems.

This threat detection system provides warfighters with actionable information, real-time situational awareness and command and control processing such as track management, correlation, identification for weapon assignment.

J.J. Joyce (NNS)


Naval Research Lab Celebrates Flight Endurance Milestone

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has completed a successful flight test of the fuel cell powered experimental fuel cell (XFC) unmanned aerial system (UAS).

During the flight test in June, the XFC UAS was airborne for more than six hours. NRL's Chemistry and Tactical Electronic Warfare divisions are developing the XFC UAS as an expendable, long-endurance platform for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

Compared to internal combustion powered vehicles, battery powered UAS are inherently stealthy in that they are relatively free of noise and thermal signature and are easy to start, operate and maintain. However, they have poor payload capacity and endurance. The electrically powered UAS could have more tactical utility and be a platform for ISR if endurance could be increased.

NRL and its fuel cell development and manufacturing partner, Protonex Technology Corporation (Southborough, Mass.) have addressed these issues by developing a hydrogen fuel cell power plant system that greatly extends endurance and permits increased payload capacity.

The technology has been successfully integrated into the XFC UAS, a folding wing, expendable UAS that has a small footprint with a standard lightweight rail launcher. The non-hybridized power plant supports this fully autonomous aircraft and an electro-optical/infrared payload for a flight endurance that enables relatively low cost, low altitude, ISR missions of up to seven-plus hours in its current configuration. In its final form, the XFC will be capable of self-launching from a folded configuration with loiter speed of 30 knots and a dash speed of 52 knots.

The Office of Naval Research, the Department of Defense's Rapid Reaction Technology Office and the Office of Technology Transition sponsor this research program.

Richard Thompson (NNS)


USAF UAV Spending Exceeds Manned Fighter Aircraft

Senior defense officials are getting a glimpse of the latest in unmanned systems technologies, which many concede is the way of the future for the U.S. military, in Washington.

More than 5,000 people from 30 countries took part in the exhibition of robots and unmanned systems capabilities at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's Unmanned Systems North America 2009 Convention, which began Aug. 9 and ends Aug. 13 at the Washington Convention Center.

More than 320 unmanned aerial, maritime and ground systems were on display, offering the industries' latest products and innovations.

Maj. Gen. Blair E. Hansen, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, addressed an audience of unmanned systems developers and industry professionals yesterday and applauded their innovations and overall contributions to improving the military's unmanned systems capabilities.

"That's the direction we're heading," General Hansen said. "It's not a love affair with the platform of being unmanned. It's the capability it represents."

General Hansen said he's staggered by the advancements and rapid developments of such systems. He added that he shares Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' enthusiasm and desire for more unmanned capabilities, citing the need to embrace today's technology to be a successful military.

Information- and technology-based warfare "is not going to be just a component of irregular warfare," General Hansen said. "This is going to be a component of all of the kinds of engagements and operations we'll have in the future," he explained.

Secretary Gates has maintained publicly for more than a year that unmanned systems are more cost-effective and efficient than manned systems. Unmanned systems also lessen the risk of casualties among warfighters.

Aerial surveillance and intelligence-gathering capabilities from unmanned aircraft systems -- such as the MQ-1 Predator, Shadow and MQ-9 Reaper -- give the military more options with their troops. Rather than risking the lives of pilots flying multimillion-dollar reconnaissance planes, operators control and monitor the unmanned aircraft and their data remotely from safe locations. Operators in the United States, in some cases, can monitor missions in Iraq and Afghanistan without having to go to the combat theater, General Hansen explained. Unmanned systems can project power in combat without projecting vulnerabilities, he added.

The Defense Department has nearly 2,000 "small" unmanned aerial syatems deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense officials reported. Most of those are Ravens, which Air Force officials use to support Army and Marine Corps ground forces.

In April, Secretary Gates cited unmanned aircraft systems as an increasing part of the Air Force arsenal, as he recommended that Congress halt production of the F-22 Raptor fighter jet and devote more funding to unmanned systems. The secretary compared the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Reaper unmanned system, noting that the Reaper has a range of about 3,000 miles and can carry 1.5 tons of weapons -- all unmanned and remotely -- while the manned F-16 fighter has a range of about 500 miles.

This fiscal year, Air Force officials have spent more money on unmanned aircraft systems and trained more operators than fighter jets and fighter pilots, General Hansen said. Demand for unmanned systems by the U.S. military has increased more than 660 percent since 2004, he added.

The ability to sneak in and operate for long periods of time without risking aviators is incredible, the general said. He referenced a recent mission in which a RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned system flew for 33 straight hours conducting reconnaissance operations for ground commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unmanned aircraft systems, he added, can take off from the Middle East, go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and conduct missions for both theaters.

"That's phenomenal," he added.

General Hansen said that although unmanned systems give the military the ability to decrease its footprint in direct combat, they still require manpower. Operators fly the systems, while analysts in separate locations across the globe are recording intelligence from imagery and audio in real time.

"We don't need to have all of our capabilities forward," he said. "This is a very, very compelling capability. As we look to the future, we've got to keep our focus on capabilities, and keep in mind that it's critically important to have systems working together.

"[Unmanned aircraft systems] will cause missions to be effective and lives to be saved," he added. "We believe strongly that as we build out these capabilities, it's not just about improvements. It's truly about an integration to perfect and get the job done and support the mission."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Air Force Global Strike Command activated

Air Force officials stood up a new major command to oversee all of its nuclear forces in an activation ceremony Aug. 7 at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

Air Force Global Strike Command will provide combat ready forces to conduct strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations in support of combatant commanders.

"This week we achieved a major milestone in the activation of Air Force Global Strike Command," said Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley. "The command will bring together our strategic nuclear forces under a single commander, and will provide combatant commanders with the forces to conduct strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations through intercontinental ballistic missiles, B-2 (Spirit) and B-52 (Stratofortress) operations."

The creation of Air Force Global Strike Command began last fall with the approval of a nuclear roadmap developed by Secretary Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. Air Force officials took a critical look at its nuclear mission after discovering shortcomings in its procedures.

"Our expectation for the command is high, as it focuses on precision, reliability, and compliance on all nuclear matters," General Schwartz said. "Lieutenant General Frank (G.) Klotz will lead the new command fulfilling his role as the steward of the Air Force's contribution to America's deterrent posture and, more importantly, lead the Airmen who are the core of the Air Force's nuclear enterprise."

Nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate as the AFGSC commander, General Klotz previously served as assistant vice chief of staff and director of Air Force staff. In those positions he's had a close view of the Air Force efforts to reinvigorate the Air Force's nuclear enterprise.

"The activation of Global Strike Command is part of a broader, comprehensive strategy the Air Force is undertaking to ensure we have the proper focus on our critical missions that provide nuclear deterrence and global strike forces for the combatant commander, the joint team and our allies," General Klotz said.

The new major command is the latest -- and largest -- reorganization in the Air Force's ongoing effort to reinvigorate the Air Force nuclear enterprise. Late last year the Air Force established a directorate at Headquarters Air Staff (A10) focused solely on the nuclear mission. The service also increased the size and scope of operations at the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center to consolidate all nuclear sustainment efforts.

The activation of Air Force Global Strike Command is the "next and very important step," said General Klotz, noting that there are still more milestones ahead.

In December, command officials assume responsibility of 20th Air Force at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., and the ICBM force. In February 2010, the command staff gains 8th Air Force at Barksdale AFB and the nuclear-capable bomber force. The 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as well as the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron at Offutt AFB, Neb., will also fall under the new command. Like other Air Force major commands, Air Force Global Strike Command will be a total force team with the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units performing critical roles and responsibilities. Ultimately, the command will consist of 23,000 people.

The stand-up of a single command focused on nuclear operations has led many to draw parallels to Strategic Air Command, which led the Air Force's nuclear operations until 1992. When asked about the comparison to SAC, General Klotz said AFGSC represents an important part of the service's evolution from its original nuclear deterrent force.

"Strategic Air Command was a magnificent organization with a legacy of pride, discipline, of attention to detail. It kept the peace. It helped win the Cold War," he said. "But times have changed."

The general asserted that although the Cold War is over, "we continue to need nuclear forces to provide a deterrent to attack against the U.S. as well as to assure our allies of our commitment to their security."

He stressed it will be the people of Air Force Global Strike Command who ultimately maintain the credibility and viability of this important mission.

Amaani Lyle (AFNS)

Laser Image Aimed at Achieving 85 Percent Reduction in Costs

An innovative laser imaging technique, developed with funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), could cut more than 7,700 man hours from the manufacturing cycle of Virginia-Class Submarines (VCS).

Successfully piloted in June 2008, the laser image projection technology allows General Dynamics Electric Boat's (GDEB) Quonset Point, R.I., manufacturing facility to automate the layout of attachments during the early outfitting stages of VCS. This automation could result in an estimated 85 percent reduction in labor over the current method and could save up to $500,000 per hull.

The laser imaging technology uses 3-D digital ship design data generated by the OneStop Computer Aided Design (CAD) database. OneStop extracts positional data from the GDEB product model to determine the quantity and specific location of various attachments.

The GDEB project team cut its dependency on paper templates and string measurements using OneStop. In fact, the team located and attached 4,822 electrical and ventilation hangers and installed approximately 8,862 studs in 21 of the 22 VCS hull cylinders during the pilot program.

The laser image projection technology will ultimately equip production workers with direct access to the CAD model information needed to locate/mark points of attachment.

The GDEB project team continues to evaluate additional uses for the technology and in future efforts will include attachment points for piping and other fixed-point attachments. The cylindrical shape of the submarine's hull is ideally suited to this technology, but other ship construction applications are also being considered and could result in cost savings for other Navy construction programs.

ONR's Navy Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) Center for Naval Shipbuilding Technology (CNST) sponsored the pilot. CNST is a Navy ManTech Center of Excellence, chartered by ONR to identify, develop and deploy advanced manufacturing technologies in U.S. shipyards that will reduce the cost and time to build and repair Navy ships.

"ManTech sponsorship is making a huge impact here at Quonset Point," said Danielle Fernholz, point manager at GDEB's Quonset Point facility. "We can't thank [ONR] enough for the tremendous opportunities this program is affording us."

Previous ManTech efforts on the VCS are projected to help reduce design and engineering costs by $3.65 million per year and generate a per-hull savings of $5.275 million. Known as Design for Production (DfP), these efforts have yielded an optimized design and production environment for the VCS and are applicable across the shipbuilding and weapons systems industries. (NNS)


Space Fence program awards contracts for concept development

The award of three $30-million concept development contracts for the Space Fence program will yield an outcropping of risk reduction activities designed to improve the overall space surveillance network.

"This is truly a classic multi-contractor, prototyping risk-reduction effort, and a return on the investment of the program to gather data to improve the follow-on phases," said Linda Haines, Space Fence program manager.

The 850th Electronic Systems Group, the Electronic Systems Center organization responsible for the Space Fence's acquisition and development, awarded the three contracts to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon on June 11.

The Space Fence is a system of three S-band ground-based radars designed to perform uncued detection, tracking and accurate measurement of orbiting space objects. The Space Fence is intended to replace the Air Force Space Surveillance System, or VHF Fence, that was transferred from the Navy to the Air Force in 2004. The higher wave frequency of the Space Fence allows for detection of much smaller satellites and debris.

The "fence"concept is created by the strategic placement of multiple radars that cover enough area to continuously track space objects that enter the Earth's orbit at certain angles. The land-based geographically dispersed sites will significantly improve timeliness for space event detection.

The current system design review phase will last more than a year and will include systems requirement reviews, design reviews and a three-month demonstration period with each of the three contractors.

"We will be getting systems engineering, architecture, modeling and simulation and analysis that will be used to update the Capabilities Development Document for the next phase, in addition to informing our lifecycle cost estimates and performance parameters," Ms. Haines said.

The February collision of a U.S. Iridium communications satellite and a Russian Cosmos 2251 communications satellite, which added hundreds more pieces of debris to the atmosphere, highlighted the need for more precise tracking of space objects.

"The Space Fence is going to be the most precise radar in the space situational surveillance network," Ms. Haines said. "The S-band capability will provide the highest accuracy in detecting even the smallest space objects."

Avoiding space collisions is important because it averts adding to the thousands of existing objects and debris already in space. All these objects present potential threats for communication or GPS satellites or even NASA's International Space Station and Space Shuttle.

Though current capabilities allow operators to monitor space launches, the Space Fence's radar architecture - three radars strategically located around the world- will yield a higher return in terms of timeliness and characterization of space events.

"Having these radars will boost the completeness of the resident space object catalog, in terms of accuracy and maintenance, and give an order of magnitude improvement in capability for space situational awareness," Ms. Haines said.

Data collected from the Space Fence's sensors would potentially feed into the Joint Space Operations Center Mission System, which is used to track objects orbiting the Earth, monitor space weather and assess foreign launches. Used by operators at the 614th Air and Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., the 614 AOC's 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week support provides vigilance of global and theater operations and equips the Joint Functional Component Command for space operations with the tools to conduct command and control of space forces.

The Space Fence's follow-on full and open competition is expected in the fall of 2010, following an in process review with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

M.D. Morales (AFNS)

419th FLTS flies first B-1 sortie after FIDL upgrade

The 419th Flight Test Squadron conducted the first functional check sortie of a B-1B Lancer which ended two years of modifications to the aircraft on Edwards AFB July 30.

The B-1 was upgraded with the Fully Integrated Data Link that allows the aircraft to communicate quickly with others in the entire battlespace, even when not in theater, and allows it to become a more powerful asset to U.S. warfighters.

"The FIDL is basically going to bring the B-1 into the fight," said Maj. Jason Wierzbanowski, 419th Flight Test Squadron B-1 test pilot. "All the data links will give us real time data of where the warfighter needs the bombs on the ground... so we can get there faster and put the bombs closer to the target."

"This aircraft went through a long and extensive modification," said 1st Lt. Chad Miller, 419th FLTS B-1 lead operations engineer. "It was on the ground for more than two years and they really did a lot of work on it."

The entire aft crew station of the aircraft was taken out and replaced with a modern cockpit. Much of the avionics were changed and the displays, which had been installed since the 1980s, are now brand new with more flexible cursor controllers and keyboards. The bomber was also upgraded with new open-architecture processors, mass-storage capability and an Ethernet network.

Both Air Force and Boeing testers at Edwards worked to develop and integrate the hardware and software that make up the FIDL system.

Captain Michael Jungquist, 419th FLTS project flight commander and B-1 weapon systems officer, said, "All the new equipment seems to be working pretty well. We have nice colored displays and they're very easy to read with a lot more capabilities."

The functional check flight assured the new aircraft systems worked properly and that it still flew safely, but there are still more flight tests to be done before the bomber is ready for operational testing.

"The aircraft did very well," said Major Wierzbanowski, who was one of two pilots to do the functional check flight. "The maintenance (team) did an outstanding job after the modification in getting the aircraft back into a flying state, and she ran great."

Major Wierzbanowski extended his appreciation to all who worked hard to complete the modifications and the maintenance team who "definitely worked late hours to make sure we got up and down safely."

A.N. Smythe
      # END

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Romanian Chief of Staff visits Naval Special Warfare Commands

Naval Special Warfare Command hosted a visit by Romanian Navy chief of staff to Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) and Special Boat Team 22 (SBT-22) Aug. 4-5.

During the visit to the units at the John C. Stennis Space Center (MS), Deputy Commander Naval Special Warfare Command Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli showed Adm. Gheorge Marin key aspects of training and partnership building efforts taking place in these facilities.

"Creating and sustaining relationships is a vital part of our mission," said Bonelli. "Reaching out to other navies and sharing visions for the future, and how to get there, is a fundamental way to strengthen those bonds."

The mission of NAVSCIATTS is to provide partner nation security forces with the highest level of riverine and littoral craft operations and maintenance technical training. The school, which usually runs ten courses simultaneously for members of up to 20 countries, is adjacent to SBT-22, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) premiere riverine command. Both are operated predominantly by Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen, SOCOM's maritime mobility experts and some of the best mariners in the world.

"I was impressed with the facilities and the range of specialized training the curriculum covers," said Marin. "It would be very interesting to continue training for our special units of the Romanian Navy at such a professional and highly qualified training command. This kind of partnership would be beneficial for the Romanian Navy in its endeavor to maintain security in the Black Sea region."

NAVSCIATTS has been conducting security force assistance since 1963 to prepare partner nation forces to conduct small craft operations in riverine and littoral environments, as well as develop and professional and personal relationships. The affiliation with Romania included eight students who attended in-resident courses from 2003-2005. Also in 2003, a mobile training team visited Romania to provide in depth follow-on training.

This mission is closely aligned with the Navy's maritime strategy of increasing security and alliances in waterways across the globe. With this waterborne mission, it is natural for NAVSCIATTS to fall under NSWG-4, U.S. Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) maritime mobility component.

During the visit, Marin walked through the school house and observed a variety of classes, received briefs on the functions of both commands and participated in a capability demonstration of the Special Operations Craft-Riverine, operated by SBT-22.

Kathryn Whittenberger (NNS)
      # END

NUWC Newport Breaks Ground on New Sensors Lab

Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Newport personnel broke ground July 31 on the Maritime Subsurface Sensor Operations Laboratory that will house a variety of unique equipment used in maintaining U.S. Navy towed sonar array systems.

The $11 million project, includes a 40,000-square-foot, single story addition to the NUWC Newport facility that will centralize all research, development, acquisition, testing, refurbishment and maintenance of these systems.

"When completed, the combination of existing labs and the new facility will be the U.S. Navy's only facility capable of providing development and full life cycle support of towed arrays for both submarines and surface ships," said Dr. Paul Lefebvre, NUWC Newport technical director. "I am confident that this laboratory will help us remain on the cutting edge of undersea technology."

Much of that equipment in the new facility will relocate to Newport from a Space and Naval Warfare Command facility in Virginia, part of the overall Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) legislation in 2005 to relocate all maritime subsurface sensors functions within the U.S. Navy at NUWC Newport.

"The BRAC commission recognized that collocating repair and overhaul work with the engineers involved with the design and acquisition of new and upgraded systems will result in synergies to improve quality and service to the Navy fleet," said Capt. Michael Byman, commander, NUWC Newport.

NUWC Newport, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, is the Navy's full-spectrum research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support center for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, and offensive and defensive weapons systems associated with undersea warfare. (NNS)


US Navy's Pacific Partnership returns to Solomon Islands

Pacific Partnership 2009 returned to Solomon Islands Aug. 6 for 14 days as part of a four-month mission on board the Military Selift Command ship USNS Richard E Byrd (T-AKE 4).

Pacific Partnership works by, with and through partner nations, nongovernmental organizations and other U.S. government and international agencies to execute a variety of humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) missions in the Pacific Fleet area of responsibility.

Building on partnerships forged in previous missions, the team for Pacific Partnership 2009 includes military and government personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Korea and the United States and civilian volunteers from International Relief Teams, Project Hope and University of California San Diego Pre-Dental Society who will work alongside their local counterparts. Additionally, Loloma Foundation and Interplast will accept surgical referrals from embarked medical civic action programs.

Pacific Partnership will conduct medical, dental, veterinary and engineering civic action programs ashore at locations in Honiara and Visale on Guadalcanal and in Auki on Malaita.

For this mission, Byrd has been outfitted with humanitarian civic assistance equipment and supplies and a staff augmented with a robust multi-disciplinary team of preventive medicine personnel, veterinarians, medical and dental teams and engineering personnel. (NNS)


Civil Service MAriners Key to US Navy Mission

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) returned to its layberth in Baltimore Aug. 4 after completing a four-month humanitarian and civic assistance mission to Latin America and the Caribbean that delivered medical and dental care to more than 100,000 people.

The mission, called Continuing Promise 2009, was planned and coordinated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet to build strong and enduring partnerships and demonstrate the lasting commitment of the United States to the region.

Comfort visited Antigua and Barbuda, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Panama. At each stop, the ship's crew of about 63 civil service mariners, or CIVMARs, worked tirelessly to transport mission personnel and patients between ship and shore by small boat. The ship's size precluded it from pulling into port at all stops but Panama. The crew was also responsible for maintaining electricity and water supplies to the shipboard hospital where 1,657 life-changing surgeries were conducted.

While the CIVMARs operated and navigated the ship and transported patients via small boats, Navy medical personnel worked side-by-side with partners from other U.S. military services, host and partner nations, and non-governmental organizations to staff Comfort's shipboard hospital and shoreside medical treatment sites.

"There is no doubt that every person on this ship – every civil service mariner, service member, medical personnel and non-governmental organization volunteer – did phenomenal work," said Capt. Thomas Finger, Comfort's civil service master. "The patients in every country we visited were grateful and impressed by the willingness of people on the ship to leave their families for months to help [them]."

In addition to medical services, Comfort's team included veterinarians who treated 13,238 animals and Navy Seabees who completed 13 construction projects ranging from minor renovations of facilities to building new schools.

None of this work, however, could have been conducted without close coordination between the medical mission and Comfort's civil service mariners.

Thomas Sellers, Comfort's navigator who not only navigated the ship, but also drove the utility boats that connected patients and doctors when the ship was anchored off shore, enjoyed the hands-on role that the CIVMARs played in the medical mission.

"MSC's role in most of our missions is to support. This mission was different because we were directly part of the end goal," said Sellers. "I felt a profound sense of accomplishment every day."

Finger agrees. Even with more than 30 years of experience sailing for MSC, he said of this mission, "It's the most personally rewarding assignment I've ever had. Anyone who has participated in this mission even for a short while would recognize the value it has in bridging cultural and national boundaries."

When not deployed, Comfort is kept in reduced operating status in Baltimore where a small crew of about 18 civil service mariners and 58 Navy medical personnel maintain the ship in a high state of readiness. When activated, Comfort can transition to full operating status in five days. MSC operates an additional hospital ship, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), in San Diego.

Before returning to Baltimore, Comfort stopped in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and then Norfolk, Va., where First Lady Michelle Obama honored Comfort's crew and the crew of aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in a speech marking the ships' return from deployment.

Military Sealift Command operates approximately 110 noncombatant civilian-crewed ships. These ships move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners, replenish U.S. Navy and coalition ships, chart ocean bottoms, conduct specialized missions and strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world. (NNS)


Georgia Departs Kings Bay for Maiden Deployment as Guided Missile Sub

The fourth of the four guided-missile submarines (SSGN) departed for its maiden operational deployment as a newly converted SSGN from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., Aug. 6.

USS Georgia (SSGN 729), led by Capt. Brian McIlvaine, Blue crew commanding officer, completed its conversion from a ballistic missile submarine to a guided-missile submarine and returned to service March 28, 2008.

Georgia will deploy for approximately one year to the 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility before returning to its homeport in Kings Bay. Georgia's two crews, Blue and Gold, will alternate manning the submarine every three months, conducting crew swaps in Diego Garcia.

Georgia's blue and gold crews are well-trained for a wide variety of missions including strike, special operations and irregular warfare. The submarine carries MK48 torpedoes and can carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles. There is additional space provided aboard Georgia to accommodate living, working and training of up to 66 special operations forces and their equipment.

"I could not be more pleased with the way the Georgia team has prepared and trained for their deployment," said Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, commander, Submarine Group 10. "I know the forces forward will use USS Georgia wisely and look forward to watching her excel throughout the many real-world and exercise events that she will participate in."

Georgia credits fellow commands at Kings Bay for preparing the boat and crew for the deployment, including the numerous certifications and inspections that the boat has completed in the past 45 days.

"All the support external organizations provided was superb," said Command Master Chief Richard Rose, Blue crew chief of the boat. "Submarine Group 10 and Submarine Squadron 16 staff, Trident Training Facility, Trident Refit Facility, and Naval Submarine Support Command Kings Bay's support during the [pre-deployment] phase has been above board. Every time the ship went to sea was a testament on all the hard work and support these facilities provided." (NNS)


Corona Warfare Center Automated Calibration System Expected to Save Navy Million

Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona completed installation and training Aug. 4 for the automated Metrology Bench Top (MetBench) Calibration Management System (MCMS) aboard the Navy's newest Arleigh Burke destroyer in operation, USS Sterett (DDG 104).

NSWC Corona's work marks the 100th ship installation for the Navy's metrology and calibration agent. NSWC Corona is a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command.

"I'm extremely proud that Corona has delivered 100 ship installations of the MetBench calibration system," said Capt. Jay Kadowaki, NSWC Corona commanding officer.
"This gives the Sterett unprecedented capability for critical calibration support of the ship's systems and is another outstanding example of how our Corona engineers are able to stand up support to meet the fleet's needs."

The MCMS installed aboard Sterett seamlessly integrates the ashore portion of the MetBench program, which includes a total of 107 automated calibration procedures that support a workload of 260 items. This significantly increases calibration efficiency and improves equipment availability.

"The MetBench system enables our Sailors to track and maintain a database of all our calibration requirements within the ship," said USS Sterett Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Darren McPherson. "It also helps us maintain that database for inspections, assessments, certifications and off-ship requirements. It's really a one-stop shopping tool for Sailors to coordinate between on-ship and off-ship requirements."

NSWC Corona's innovative approach to shipboard calibration fully utilizes the Navy's new distance support architecture to best support the fleet, and MCMS makes these tasks as easy and transparent to the Sailor as possible.

"I use it to help track all of my test equipment and ensure that everything's in calibration," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Ryan Otian. "When I send items to the calibration lab, it automatically prints out reports I need when I turn in the equipment. It's really easy and it's working really well."

Otian said MCMS makes his job easier, but he realizes another key benefit.

"It increases ship readiness because the test equipment we need for maintenance is going to be calibrated on time," said Otian.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued the MCMS program patents in seven areas of innovation. Deployment began in July 2007 and is slated to be installed on 146 warships. The combined afloat and ashore elements will save the Navy an estimated $38.6 million over the next six years.

"With the millions of calibrations the Navy needs to maintain readiness, we're using automation, innovation and modernization to reduce costs for the Navy, reduce cumbersome workload for our Sailors and extend the life of our surface fleet," said Kadowaki. "With calibration support being critically important to maintenance, Corona is uniquely poised to help the Navy sustain today's Fleet efficiently and effectively."

NSWC Corona serves as the Navy's only independent assessment agent and is responsible for gauging the warfighting capability of ships and aircraft, analyzing missile defense systems, and assessing the adequacy of Navy personnel training. The base is home to three premiere national laboratories and assessment centers, the Joint Warfare Assessment Lab, the Measurement Science and Technology Lab, and the Daugherty Memorial Assessment Center.

Troy Clarke (NNS)

Incentivized Energy Conservation Program Nets $99 Million Fuel Saving

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) announced Aug. 3 that Navy ships achieved more than $99 million in fuel cost avoidance during fiscal year (FY) 2009 as part of the Navy's Incentivized Energy Conservation (i-ENCON) Program.

The i-ENCON program is a "Meet the Fleet" initiative spearheaded by NAVSEA to reduce ships' energy consumption. Program sponsors conduct routine meetings with ship operators to review specific fuel-saving procedures and recommend quarterly awards for ships with the most fuel-efficient operations.

"These efforts increase fleet readiness by enabling Sailors at sea to train or deploy longer while spending the same amount of money on fuel," said Hasan Pehilvan, i-ENCON program manager.

One of the ways NAVSEA's i-ENCON measures fuel and cost avoidance is through underburn, the reported fuel rate for the quarter that's below the ship class' average burn rate. One hundred twenty Pacific and Atlantic Fleet ships reported an underburn for the third quarter fiscal year 2009.

"The cumulative underburn was 14.96 percent of fuel consumption for the past three quarters, which exceeded the ENCON goal of 10 percent by a wide margin," said Pehlivan. "This 14.96 percent underburn translates to a cost avoidance of 1,043,000 barrels of oil or $99 million."

This accomplishment increases fleet readiness by saving enough fuel to support 21 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (at an average of 2,500 underway hours) per year.

This performance may be attributable to ships receiving $2 million in cash awards distributed in the fourth quarter of each fiscal year by Commander, Naval Surface Forces, according to Pehlivan.

i-ENCON rewards leading fuel conservers among underway surface ships with special recognition and cash incentives up to $67,000. In FY 2008, 148 ships received incentive cash awards. Award money is routed to each commanding officer's discretionary funds, which are often used to buy items like damage control gear or to augment the ship's welfare and recreation programs according to Pehilvan.

"The incentives are very important to i-ENCON's success," Pehlivan added. "It's a voluntary program that requires real commitment from ships' commanding officers, chief engineers and main propulsion assistants. I receive calls and emails from ships every day wanting to know how they can participate and improve their fuel performance." (NNS)


Air Forces Central chosen to provide enhanced support to area of responsibility

Air Force officials have designated U.S. Air Forces Central Command as the new dedicated, forward-based Air Force component supporting the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Air Force officials temporarily redesignated 9th Air Force/U.S. Air Forces Central as AFCENT and activated a new 9th Air Force to enhance continuity and focus on priority missions in the CENTCOM AOR.

"We want to download some of the (stateside) responsibilities so our three-star (commander) ... can focus on the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff during testimony to the House Armed Services Committee May 19.

The temporary placement of the three-star AFCENT commander and a small staff of no more than 50 personnel in a forward location allows the commander to focus exclusively on the planning and execution of air, cyber and space operations in the CENTCOM AOR.

"The operations tempo is as high as it's ever been and as our commitments accelerate in Afghanistan, we need 100 percent focus," General Schwartz said. "This was in keeping with the best military judgment of Air Force leaders as well as coordinated with and favored by [CENTCOM commander] Army Gen. (David) Petraeus."

The new 9th Air Force, commanded by a two-star general, will retain oversight of six stateside wings and one direct reporting unit. It will remain at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., as a numbered air force subordinate to Air Combat Command.

The details of AFCENT's configuration, including the exact composition of the command element, the nature of the overseas assignments for AFCENT personnel and the proposal's projected cost, are being assessed.

When contingency operations subside, the Air Force will reset to the peacetime configuration of 9th Air Force/AFCENT at Shaw AFB.


New leaders take command of redesignated AFCENT, 9th Air Force

New leaders took command during the 9th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Central change of command and redesignation ceremony Aug. 5 at Shaw Air Force Base.

Lt. Gen. Gary North relinquished command of 9th Air Force/AFCENT, then the two units were redesignated into two separate commands.

Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. John D.W. Corley, commander of Air Combat Command, presided over the ceremony.

Lt. Gen. Gilmary Michael Hostage III then assumed command of AFCENT.

"Thanks General Corley, to you and the Air Force for the confidence in me to put me forward for this position, and to General Petraeus for having the faith to give me a shot at it. I will let neither of you down and I'm looking forward to the opportunity," General Hostage said. "USAFCENT family, I am really looking forward to joining you. You are the pinnacle of what warriors are. What you are doing is vital to Airmen, vital to all our warriors in any uniform, and I endeavor to join you in that fight."

Maj. Gen. William L. Holland then assumed command of a new Headquarters 9th Air Force that was activated.

"To the men and women of 9th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Central Command, our job sounds simple: to ensure that we are ready to answer our nation's call," General Holland said. "But in the dynamic world that we live in today, that simple statement requires our utmost focus. Our people deserve, and we must demand and ensure that they are provided the very best equipment, training, guidance and leadership that we possibly can give them. My request to you is to try to make yourselves and your units a little bit better every day, and my commitment to you is that together, we will take care of our people first, and the mission always."

AFCENT is the air component of CENTCOM, a regional unified command. AFCENT officials are responsible for air operations, either unilaterally or in concert with coalition partners, and for developing contingency plans in support of national objectives for CENTCOM's 20-nation area of responsibility in Southwest Asia. Additionally, AFCENT officials manage an extensive supply and equipment prepositioning program at several AOR sites.

"Ninth Air Force and AFCENT have for three and a half years, under Lt. Gen. Gary North's watch, succeeded admirably, in providing our forces downrange the combat power needed to perform the entire gamut of air operations from close-air support; air transport; airdrop and ground maintenance; to command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and numerous other missions in the CENTCOM area of responsibility," General Petraeus said. "AFCENT has played an absolutely vital role in our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Ninth Air Force controls ACC fighter forces based on the East Coast of the United States and is responsible for overseeing the management of six wings and three direct reporting units, as well as ensuring the operational readiness of 14 designated units of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.

"For six decades, the Airmen here, and others before them, have fought bravely in my mind," General Corley said. "They've stood shoulder to shoulder with our Soldiers, with our Sailors, with Marines and Coast Guardsmen, to do what? To hone the warfighting skills of 9th Air Force. For what? For defending freedom, defending our homeland, and defending our great way of life."

The temporary separation between the stateside numbered air force and its warfighting component to CENTCOM will allow the AFCENT commander to focus solely on AFCENT duties, and the 9th Air Force commander to focus on oversight of stateside wings. When contingency operations subside, the Air Force will reset to the peacetime configuration of 9th Air Force/AFCENT here. This redesignation is also part of the proposal Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz announced in May.

General North was confirmed by the Senate to receive his fourth star and will become commander of Pacific Air Forces, the air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command, and executive director of Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.


Monday, August 3, 2009

USMC Fields Light Strike Vehicle, Expeditionary Fire Support System

General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems announced today that it has successfully fielded the Internally Transportable Vehicle (ITV), also known as the Light Strike Vehicle (LSV). These vehicles were fielded to the U.S. Marine Corps' (USMC) 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment in preparation for its deployment with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

The LSV, specifically designed to fly internally in the MV-22 and CV-22
Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and the CH-53 and MH-47 aircraft, are used in a
variety of operations such as reconnaissance, raids, Tactical Recovery of
Aircraft and Personnel (TRAP) and airfield seizures in support of Over-the-
Horizon amphibious operations, Irregular Warfare and Enhanced Company
Operations (ECO).

The LSV provides the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Commander with a
vertically transportable, high mobility, weapons-capable platform. It can
carry enough fuel, water, ammunition, and food for a 3-day mission, while
safely transporting a crew of four. The LSV can be equipped with an M2 .50-
cal., MK-19 or MK-240G machine gun, further enhancing the unit's mission
performance and survivability.

The fielding of the LSV to 1st Battalion, 9th Marines follows the recent
Initial Operational Capability of the Expeditionary Fire Support System
(EFSS) on March 17 with Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, who are
planned to deploy with the 24th MEU.

As the third leg of the USMC's triad of land-based fire support for
expeditionary operations, EFSS is the primary close-in fire support system
for vertical element of the Ship-to-Objective Maneuver (STOM) force,
providing expanded fires support to amphibious and expeditionary operations.
The system is comprised of a pair of Prime Mover vehicles, the 120mm M327
rifled mortar weapon, a new family of 120mm insensitive munition (IM) rifled
ammunition and ammunition trailer. Marines can emplace, fire and displace
the EFSS in under five minutes.

"The LSV and EFSS give the Marines greater agility and versatility in
supporting expeditionary operations," said Dr. Dean Bartles, vice president
and general manager of large-caliber ammunition for General Dynamics
Ordnance and Tactical Systems.  "Both systems are fast and reliable, giving
the Marines more options and greater survivability in the field."


Sunday, August 2, 2009

McChrystal Mulling Major Afghanistan Strategy Change

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is preparing a new strategy that calls for major changes in the way U.S. and other NATO troops there operate, a vast increase in the size of Afghan security forces and an intensified military effort to root out corruption among local government officials, reports the Washington Post.

"One of the key changes outlined in the latest drafts of the assessment report, which will be provided to Gates by mid-August, is a shift in the "operational culture" of U.S. and NATO forces. Commanders will be encouraged to increase contact with Afghans, even if it means living in less-secure outposts inside towns and spending more time on foot patrols instead of in vehicles," writes the Washington Post.