Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MQ-9 Reaper Stars in New USAF Infomercial

An Air Force commercial highlighting the technology of the unmanned aircraft systems is airing nationally this week in television markets and select movie theaters across the country.

The "UAS" commercial depicts a futuristic look at warfighting and how what was once considered science fiction is now reality for the Air Force.

The commercial features the technology of an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft system and Airmen from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., supporting special operations Airmen in identifying, locating and eliminating enemy threats.

"The Air Force is in the fight. Our latest creative efforts with the new commercials capture this by emphasizing the professionalism of highly trained Airmen using the latest technology," said Capt. Richard Solorzano, the chief of advertising for Air Force Recruiting Service.

The "UAS" was produced by contract ad agency GSD&M Idea City of Austin, Texas, for Air Force Recruiting Service. The 30-second spot began airing June 29 on the Adult Swim, BET, Comedy Central, ESPN, ESPNews, FX, FOX Soccer, G4, MTV, NFL, Speed, Spike TV, TBS, USA and History channels. It is scheduled to air through September.

Two other commercials also featuring the science fiction theme are in post-production with GSD&M Idea City and are scheduled to begin airing this fall. They include "CSAR" and "Space Command."

"CSAR" highlights the Air Force's elite combat, search and rescue Airmen who go into hostile environments to rescue downed servicemembers as part of special operations. Pararescuemen parachute undetected into a perilous situation where they provide medical treatment before transporting downed personnel to safety.

"Space Command" reveals the role by men and women in the Air Force's Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., in protecting satellite and other space assets as well as providing critical data to forces on the ground.

The "UAS" commercial and other Air Force products can be seen on Air Force Blue Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiB3vrhPDNs&feature=channel_page.


US Army Battlefield Promotions Now Permanent

The Army has made permanent the practice of giving battlefield promotions to staff sergeant and below after a yearlong pilot program to promote soldiers who demonstrate extraordinary job performance while serving in combat or under combat conditions, reports Army Times.


Washington May Change Stance on F-22 Export to Japan

U.S. defense officials are preparing a version of the stealth F-22 Raptor that Japan has expressed strong interest in buying, reports UPI.
While the Department of Defense is working to design an export version of the Raptor, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, this week sent a letter to Japanese Ambassador the United States Ichiro Fujisaki saying that the F-22 would likely carry a price tag of $290 million.


US Army Modernization in Turmoil

U.S. Department of Defense officials ordered an assessment of the Pentagon's ground combat vehicle program that effectively causes massive changes to the U.S. Army's modernization plan, reports UPI.
Ashton Carter, undersecretary for acquisition, issued a memorandum last week that makes the Pentagon's Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team, a $160 billion modernization plan, a thing of the past.


National Guard Volunteers Sought for US Border Security

The Obama administration is developing plans to seek up to 1,500 National Guard volunteers to step up the military's counter-drug efforts along the Mexican border, senior administration officials said Monday. The plan is a stopgap measure being worked out between the Defense Department and the Homeland Security Department and comes despite Pentagon concerns about committing more troops to the border — a move some officials worry will be seen as militarizing the region, reports the Denver Post.


Once Good Enough For Harm's Way, Volunteer Army Retirees Now Excess Baggage

The U.S. Army is ending a program that has allowed military retirees to volunteer for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, disappointing many former service members who have embraced a second chance to serve their country, reports the Washington Times.


Monday, June 29, 2009

USAF Upgrades Thule Radar for Missile Defense Mission

The first complete shift using the upgraded early warning system software took place the night of June 23 through the morning of June 24, making Thule's ballistic missile early warning radar the third radar to complete its upgrade.

The upgrade completes another step toward a fully-operational missile defense system for the United States and its friends and allies.

"We're making history here. We're the first crew that did the mission differently here than the crews in 1987," said 2nd Lt. Talaya Jones, 12th Space Warning Squadron and one of the crew members on UEWR's first shift.

While UEWR will be in a trial period for the next few months, the operators of the 12th SWS plan never to return to the old 1987 system, referred to as "Legacy" by its crews.

"The UEWR system now continuously feeds information to missile warning, missile defense and space surveillance agencies back in the States," said Lt. Col. Dave Meteyer, 12th SWS commander. "However, if the new system were to go down for any reason, we can still fall back on the Legacy system, which is on standby."

The UEWR upgrade process included no external hardware changes to the radar. In fact, no one would know looking at the radar that there had been changes. The upgrades were primarily internal and related to data-processing hardware and software.

"It's a more advanced system that allows operators to see more information and more effectively accomplish missile warning, missile defense and space surveillance missions," Colonel Meteyer said.

"The upgrades definitely make it easier to utilize the weapon system," said Capt. Keith Harrigan, another crew member on the shift. "It allows you to visualize what the radar is seeing much better than before. Now we can better see where the objects are going and what path they are taking with an interactive 3D interface."

Previously, the radar had operated under a software program that had more in common with the "War Game" movie than the 21st century. Operators used a large desktop monitor with monochrome screen, light pen--the precursor to the computer mouse--and relied on thick binders of information to effectively track missile launches and space objects.

The UEWR system introduced flat screen computers, color, computer mice and increased computer memory and computing speed to a new missile warning operations center where operators work 24/7.

"I enjoy the new system because it is something I can relate to as part of my generation," Lieutenant Jones said.

The comparison between the new and old systems is impressive. Instead of a mere 23 megabytes of random-access memory, UEWR provides 16 gigabtyes with a four terabyte hard drive. The old system had a 10-megahertz central processing unit; UEWR boasts 32 one-gigahertz CPUs. UEWR also provides real-time recording data from the two radar faces.

"This is not your father's missile warning system," said Capt. William Weiford, the third member of the crew. "The interface is much more user friendly."

UEWR also provides more accurate identification of object parts, separating, for instance, a missile's re-entry system from its launch components. This improved capability is the primary reason for the upgrade and is critical to ensuring the success of any missile defense engagement. However, another major advantage of the upgrade is it significantly improves the unit's ability to conduct space surveillance operations. This improvement is due to both a more effective operator interface and substantially more capable data processing capability.

The UEWR system did not come online with the flick of a switch. The 12th SWS spent nearly two years preparing for the new system to include construction, testing and crew training. More personnel were stationed at Thule to cover the additional workload, but the squadron still worked long hours and several weekends.

The UEWR system still requires a three-person crew as did the old system, but will ideally require less maintenance and trouble-shooting to sustain operations.

Thule's radar primarily watches the skies over the North Pole for land- or submarine-based missile launches. An important secondary mission is tracking about 10 percent of the world's space catalogue or about 475 objects per day. The radar is powerful enough to spot a softball-sized object 3,000 nautical miles away, or from New York to Los Angeles comparably. This information is critical in preparing space launches to avoid collisions in space.

"The completion of the upgrades means we're going to be at Thule for years to come. The site's longevity has significantly increased," Colonel Meteyer said.

The two other radar sites that already implemented the UEWR changes are in Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and Royal Air Force Fylingdales, England.

Lisa Meiman

Personnel recovery now a core USAF function

Air Force officials are transitioning their combat search and rescue motto to an over-arching name that encompasses all rescue assets under the same umbrella mindset with a more current operational focus.

Personnel recovery fulfills a promise to never leave an American behind and the new slogan comprises not only combat search and rescue operations but also civil search and rescue and shuttle recovery support.

An Air Force decision in September 2008 to adopt personnel recovery as one of its 12 core functions signifies that these activities are now viewed on the same level with other core Air Force functions such as nuclear deterrence, air/space/cyberspace superiority, agile combat support and rapid global mobility, among others.

This core function can also include noncombatant evacuations, humanitarian assistance/relief operations, medical/casualty evacuations and rescue command and control.

"The Air Force is the only service who possesses weapon systems and career fields that are solely dedicated to recovering isolated personnel," said Col. Darryle Grimes, the 347th Rescue Group commander. "It's essential to develop a global (personnel recovery) capacity that will help achieve national security objectives."

Even today, Air Force rescue forces are often seen as only being focused on preparing to rescue and recover high-risk personnel such as aircrew or special operations personnel in combat situations.

"In reality, the vast majority of people that we have recovered since 9/11 have not been those types of trained personnel," Colonel Grimes said. "They have been casualty evacuation or medical evacuation missions for both our United States servicemembers and friendly coalition forces, civilians and even the enemy in some instances. Right now, the demand for combat search and rescue is not in particularly high. Combat search and rescue is just one of many operational capabilities that we possess. We are more able to utilize our full range of abilities if we realize that and if joint force commanders realize that. The nature of war has changed in the many years since our rescue forces first had their beginning.

Despite the change in terminology, training for different missions has not changed.

"The way we train is still geared toward (combat search and rescue) because it is demanding and challenging," Colonel Grimes said. "When we train at such a high level, we are ready to support other operations and incidents at all levels of intensity. We need to retain all the necessary skill sets to conduct rescue across the full spectrum of military activities."

Under personnel recovery, rescue assets are constantly training and prepared to respond to any variety of situations that may present themselves.

"What we provide at Moody Air Force Base and the 23rd Wing is support for the operational capabilities within this new core function," said Col. Gary Henderson, the 23rd Wing commander. "On a day-to-day basis, it's not a huge change at Moody. We'll continue to organize, train and equip to do what we do best, provide joint world-wide rescue capabilities. We recognize that we have these capabilities, we expect to be tasked and we're ready to support missions globally. Although we rarely have an opportunity to rescue an Airman, we stand ready."

Brigitte Brantley


Agreement signed for integrated defense of Alaska

Joint Task Force Alaska and 17th Coast Guard District officials signed a memorandum of understanding June 23 at Elmendorf AFB (Alaska) to facilitate coordination of the missions under the auspices of JTF-Alaska with those performed by U.S. Coast Guard District 17.

The memorandum signals a common understanding between Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, Commander, the JTF-Alaska commander; and Coast Coast Rear Adm. Gene Brooks, the 17th Coast Guard District commander; for heightened emphasis on alignment of the two organizations in support of a unified approach to the security and defense of Alaska.

Alaska is a unique maritime environment in which most goods and services supporting the state enter via maritime routes. Additionally, many of Alaska's major port facilities are located deep in internal waters suggesting the need for innovative solutions bridging across the maritime, air, and land domains.

The memorandum recognizes the Coast Guard as a likely first responder for any maritime homeland defense operation in the waters surrounding Alaska due to its resident capability and expertise gleaned from its long standing tradition of maritime service to the state. It emphasizes coordination between the two commands to successfully blend Department of Defense's responsibilities with those of the Department of Homeland Security through planning, training, exercises and operations conducted by JTF-Alaska and District 17 officials. It also sets the stage for future cooperation as the northern approaches to Alaska become a more prominent topic as shipping activity increases in the Arctic Ocean.

"This memorandum codifies the strong relation between JTF-Alaska and U.S. Coast Guard District 17 as we refine the integration of all military services under a joint military mindset in order to meet future challenges," said U.S. Navy Capt. Tom Meadows, the director of plans and policy for JTF-Alaska.

Quoting renowned World War I flier Brig. Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell, Admiral Brooks took this opportunity to reiterate the strategic importance of Alaska.

"I believe in the future. Whoever holds Alaska will hold the world. It is the most important strategic place in the world." Admiral Brooks continued, "Those words spoken almost 75 years ago still hold true today."

JTF-Alaska, a subordinate JTF of U.S. Northern Command, has responsibility for homeland defense, defense support to civil authorities, and anti-terrorism/force protection missions within the JTF-Alaska joint operating area. The Coast Guard is a military, maritime, multimission service within the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to protecting the safety and security of America. (AFNS)


Friday, June 26, 2009

Naval Special Warfare Units Adapt to Changing Operational Environment

Naval Special Warfare Group 4 (NSWG-4), U.S. Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) maritime surface mobility component, faces an interesting task in a time when focus is almost completely concentrated on a ground war: how to stay relevant now and engaged ten years in the future.

"Ground operations are the primary diplomatic and military priority right now," said Capt. Chuck Wolf, commander of NSWG-4. "While attention is focused on the Middle East, problems continue to grow in coastal areas, leading to greater regional instabilities."

Wolf's mission is to organize, train and equip assigned Naval Special Warfare (NSW) personnel as needed, conduct security force assistance to build foreign security force small craft capability and capacity, and deploy NSW task force/group level staffs as required. This is a tall order with an aging combatant craft fleet and an increasing demand signal.

One of his priorities is building partnerships between numerous groups such as Coast Guard, special operations forces and the surface fleet. This synergy of effort will lead to similar tactics, techniques and procedures being common throughout all of the DoD and eventually Wolf hopes it will spread through partner nations as well.

"Working together, a basic coxswain here will be able to work with someone who's been trained to the same standards, enabling a more collaborative effort in the littoral battlespace," said Wolf, who has four subordinate commands.

Three special boat teams are spread on the East, West and Gulf Coast. Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School (NAVSCIATTS) transitioned to fall under NSWG-4 in February. Its mission is to provide partner nation security forces with the highest level of riverine and coastal craft operations and maintenance technical training.

"Both the in-resident courses at my schoolhouse and our mobile training teams manned by Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) from there and the Special Boat Teams continue to build upon existing relationships to further partnerships," Wolf added.

Training isn't the only place Wolf wants to find ways to work together. This combination of effort is necessary in combatant craft design as well.

In 1988, SOCOM approved a vision for a family of vessels, and NSW embarked upon one of the most aggressive combatant craft development and procurement programs in recent history. This program was effective; in 2000, SOCOM and the U.S. Navy achieved global preeminence in modern maritime interoperability. Today, more than 15 countries have, or will soon, exceed U.S. combatant craft capabilities, according to Wolf.

While speaking at the recent Multi-Agency Craft Conference aboard Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., June 17, Wolf briefed his vision of combatant craft development.

"We have to make a standard process out of non-standard partnerships," he said.

For instance, a SWCC detachment is aboard the DoD's high-speed experimental boat Stiletto, currently supporting U.S. and multinational counter-illicit trafficking operations and conducting operational testing. The 88-foot long, 60-ton Stiletto will deploy to the Caribbean basin through the summer under the operational control of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet and tactical control of Joint Interagency Task Force-South. Stiletto is manned by a joint U.S. Army and Navy crew and includes an embarked U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment.

Wolf said working together in new ways allows NSWG-4 to meet demand, as well as focus on procuring a new family of craft, all designed to meet baseline requirements of speed, range and payload, as well as improved communications while operating. Other specifications include improved strike capability, the ability to launch and recover unmanned aerial systems, higher performance propulsion, an integrated bridge system, improved ride quality, virtual training capabilities, low observable attributes and improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

"NSWG-4 can support the range of operations from pre-hostility capacity building to post-war resolution. We continue to evolve to maintain maritime dominance, and the new family of craft will ensure we can continue to perform any mission asked of us," said Wolf.

Kathryn Whittenberger (NNS)

USN Attack & Missile Subs Get Electronic Navigation Systems

The Navy's Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) certified a significant milestone in the submarine force's transition to electronic charting by approving version 8.3 of the Voyage Management System (VMS) for use aboard attack and guided-missile submarines June 9.

For submarine installations VMS is tested and certified by engineers from Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Port Hueneme, Virginia Beach detachment. This latest software version enhances submarines' abilities to navigate in extreme northern latitudes and conduct under-the-ice operations.

"This event marks a significant achievement in submarine charting tool technology," said Jack McKee, VMS test, evaluation and operations team lead from the NSWC Port Hueneme, Virginia Beach detachment. "The first VMS electronic navigation systems were approved by the CNO for fleet navigation in May 2005."

VMS automatically plots and displays the ship's position, course, heading, speed and depth over a digital nautical chart, providing the operator with an instantaneous navigation picture. The VMS also provides the operators with voyage planning and monitoring tools to assist in planning and executing missions. The VMS' automated functions significantly reduce the workload of the operators, allowing for more timely decisions that are critical to the ship's safety and mission.

"The VMS in-service engineers have dedicated thousands of man-hours to the evaluation and testing of this software, including coordination of testing during many underway shipboard events," said Mike Bibbo, VMS team lead. "The effort has resulted in safer, more efficient and increased capabilities in submarine navigation."

A Naval Sea Systems Command field activity, NSWC Port Hueneme, through its Virginia Beach detachment, is responsible for testing and evaluation, in-service engineering, and integrated logistics support for surveillance radar systems, system interface and radar design improvement. (NNS)


New AWACS IFF Doesn't Jam Civilian ATC System

Overseas ground and flight testing on a NATO Airborne Warning and Control System recently demonstrated that a prototype waveform designed to better distinguish friendly forces from foes did not interfere with European civilian air traffic control.

This paves the way for 635th Electronic Systems Squadron officials to continue developing the capability without having to modify the current design and implementation.

The prototype, referred to as the Mode 5-capable UPX 40, would replace the current Mode 4 capability and has been designed specifically to interfere less with U.S. and international civil air traffic control functions.

"We in the military need to perform our mission, but we also don't want to interfere with civil aviation's ability to maintain safe separations standards of all aircraft operating within the National Airspace System," said Patrick Martone, the 635th ELSS lead engineer. "Sometimes those two performance objectives can conflict with each other, but initial analyses of both flight test data and high-fidelity simulations have shown that Mode 5 has no impact on civil air traffic."

The E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System, or AWACS, is an aircraft with integrated command and control, battle management, surveillance, target detection, and tracking capabilities and provides an accurate, real-time picture of the battlespace to the Joint Air Operations Center.

AWACS' interrogator radiates a waveform, using different modes, to determine information such as aircraft identification and altitude and determines if aircraft are friends or foes -- known as identification friend or foe capability. The AWACS interrogator enables both military and civilian aircraft to be identified with range, bearing, and elevation information, along with providing platform-specific information.

The new Mode 5 capability is a waveform to which the Defense Department and NATO forces are now transitioning.

Ground testing by Eurocontrol- - Europe's equivalent to the FAA -- included radiating Mode 5 waveforms to evaluate their impact on civil transponders and civil air traffic control systems. The results showed no impact.

This is very important, given that the United States and Europe civil air traffic control agencies won't allow use of the new military Mode 5 if it is determined to interfere with controllers' ability to maintain aircraft safe separation standards. Civil aviation organizations from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands also observed these ground and flight test trials in Germany.

Another stride came in the form of coalition interoperability: demonstrating that Mode 5 waveform works in conjunction with the products other nations are developing. For example, Mode 5 equipment with U.S. origins successfully interoperated with Italian fighter planes equipped with their own Italian-manufactured transponder devices.

"The detailed technical standards can be interpreted differently amongst companies, nations and services," said Capt. Will Williams, the next generation identification friend or foe program manager. "So it's a major milestone to prove that equipment made in the U.S. interoperated with other equipment made outside of the U.S."

Further developing Mode 5 will bring added benefit to the warfighter, primarily by replacing and surpassing Mode 4 in its ability to identify and locate friendly forces. This more reliable identification friend or foe system can pinpoint targets in densely packed environments, better eliminating fratricide.

"When we have lots of military aircraft operating in the same small area during an exercise or real-world engagements, identification friend or foe Mode 5 will allow AWACS to distinguish specific information about all friendly forces and will also allow us to distinguish friends from foes," Mr. Martone said. "With the legacy Mode 4 capability, it's more difficult to identify and distinguish all friendly and non-friendly aircraft in a densely packed environment."

Mode 5 brings also adds a layer of aircraft-specific information and security not provided by Mode 4.

"With Mode 5, instead of just knowing whether that distant target is a friend or a foe, operators can now know whether the target is an F-15 (Eagle), for example," Mr. Martone said. "The AWACS operator will know other information about each specific friendly target provided within an encrypted reply to an interrogation."

Despite these demonstrated victories, the squadron's work to fine-tune the capability continues through the current engineering and manufacturing development stage in preparation for a production decision in 2011.

Next month the ESC team will participate in the Mode 5 Joint Operational Test Approach, a demonstration event that aims to determine how Mode 5 equipment will interoperate among differing platforms, military services and manufacturers.

Joint Operational Test Approach participants include the Navy, Air Force, Army and Marine Corps and each service's respective interrogators and transponders affixed to a range of operational platforms to include aircraft, ground vessels and sea surface vessels. Combat scenarios will not only evaluate interoperability, but also the effects on civil air traffic control.

For the 635th ELSS staff, having AWACS there serves a two-fold purpose: to satisfy operational test and evaluation requirements, but also to prove the reputation as the premier air surveillance platform to be true.

"The idea is to have AWACS there because of its reputation of being the premiere airborne surveillance platform," Captain Williams said. "At Joint Operational Test Approach, we get an opportunity to demonstrate this, and use the results to improve the development of our interrogator and move one step closer to providing the warfighter a much needed capability."    
   M.D. Morales (AFNS)
     # END

Ukraine Cancels Joint Exercise with US Navy

Political infighting between pro-western and pro-Russian factions in the Ukraine parliament precluded approval for US Navy ships to enter Ukraine territorial waters for the scheduled "Sea Breeze 2009" exercise.

The same thing happened in 2006, making this the second year since 1997 that the bilateral exercise had to be called off. The 2008 exercise was held as scheduled, but was marred by anti-American protests. All-in-all, these developments do not bode well for the future of Ukraine's pro-Western, pro-NATO course.


Natick Army Institute Tailors Gear to Soldiers' Needs

Nestled in the shadows of the Boston skyline, scientists and Soldiers in a one-of-a-kind Army laboratory work quietly behind the scenes to improve the health and performance of today's troops.

Though it's known to relatively few outside of scientific and academic circles, the lab's work leaves its fingerprint on nearly everything Soldiers eat, wear and use.

The U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine is housed on a leafy, waterside post at the Soldier Systems Center here, alongside a handful of other military research and development agencies. But while those agencies are busy readying the force with rations, clothes and gear, the environmental medicine lab focuses on the physiological effects those items have on the Soldier.

About 200 people work on staff at the lab, and the scientists say their work concentrates on the "skin in" while the other development labs on post focus on Soldier equipment, or the "skin out."

"We're not designing the equipment. We're not designing the backpacks. But we essentially try to evaluate and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do to optimize the Soldiers' performance," said Edward Zambraski, chief of the military performance division at the institute, who holds a doctorate in exercise physiology.

Shortly after World War II, Army officials realized Soldiers would continue to be deployed worldwide and wanted a research facility that could study the environmental and operational impacts on the health and performance of troops in a variety of climates and conditions. The institute as it stands today eventually was formed in 1961 from a composite of other federal and academic laboratories.

It is the Defense Department's lead research lab for operational medicine, and spends about $28 million annually on its efforts. Using high-tech, multi-million-dollar facilities, scientists and technicians can simulate the searing summer heat of Iraq and measure its effects on Soldiers' performance. They can reproduce the effects of the high altitudes and freezing temperatures of the mountains in Afghanistan, gathering data that can help commanders predict how many Soldiers will succumb to mountain sickness on an infantry patrol there.

"We basically can duplicate the environmental conditions here [of those] almost anywhere in the world where our warfighters are going to be deployed," said Christopher Joyce, the lab's head of technology transfer and marketing.

The lab's two climatic research chambers - each 60 feet long, 11 feet high and 15 feet wide -- are among the largest and most sophisticated environmental test chambers in the world. They can simulate environmental conditions ranging from the arctic to the tropics. The tunnels can blast wind up to 40 mph and rain up to four inches an hour. Temperatures can drop to minus 70 degrees and soar to 165 degrees.

The lab's two altitude chambers can simulate altitudes of up to nearly 30,000 feet and temperatures to minus 25 degrees. A water-immersion lab simulates cold and hot environments in a 10,000-gallon concrete pool.

But the lab does not test only the effects of heat and cold or high altitude. It tests nearly everything that affects the Soldier.

A weapons simulator at the lab can mimic the ballistic characteristics of 25 different weapons, and is used among other research tools to test warfighter responses to sustained operations and fatigue. It also is used to test marksmanship training methods.

A biomechanics research lab with infrared cameras and sensors captures Soldiers' movements while marching, and a unique, patented treadmill invented at the lab measures the force placed on their bodies while shouldering a load.

Two life-sized anatomical models capable of mimicking walking and sweating are used to test uniforms' thermal and vapor-resistance values. They have been used by the military since 1943, and scientists there have nicknamed them "the oldest Soldiers still serving in the Army." The models currently helping Army officials choose the next version of the service's chemical protection suit.

Everything a Soldier eats and drinks is sliced, diced and boiled down in a state-of-the-art metabolic kitchen by dieticians who monitor the nutritional make-up of the rations and make recommendations for additions to Soldiers' diets.

"The real impetus is to try to figure out ways that we could use nutritional interventions to help Soldiers," said Harris Lieberman, who holds a doctorate in physiological psychology and serves with the lab's military nutrition division. "We know that Soldiers have very difficult jobs. There are a lot of stressors they are exposed to. Nutrition is hopefully a safe way of giving a little bit of help to somebody who's got a lot of requirements and stresses on them, if you can show that it actually works."

Separate contractors produce the same food products within general guidelines, but the lab tests for what is not on the published nutritional label. Before the lab can recommend nutritionally supplementing the rations, its scientists have to know what is in them. The lab also studies the effects of both under- and over-eating on Soldiers' performance.

The institute also conducts research at three off-site facilities housed at Pike's Peak, Colo.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and at the Center for the Intrepid at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Much of the institute's research is conducted using data collected from Soldiers. Some are recruited to take part in the studies at the end of their advanced training. The Soldiers are offered a 90-day stint at the lab before moving on to their first permanent duty station. All are briefed on the studies and the risks, and are medically cleared before they are allowed to participate.

Most of the chambers house treadmills and stationary bicycles used to assess the effects on the physical performance and physiological responses of Soldiers to the stressors. Soldiers typically are subjected to multiple stressors at the same time for a single study. For example, they are required to march on a treadmill while in an environment that simulates a high altitude and low temperature. Or they may be submersed in cold water, tasked with riding a stationary bike, and then removed and asked to perform additional critical-thinking or physical tasks.

"We try to mimic the situation that they're in," Zambraski said. "If they have to perform in the heat and it's at altitude, then we will mimic that situation and we will combine those two things. We're doing research that has to apply to a very unique situation in theater. And so we do everything we can to control the variables, but to make those variables look realistic."

Showers, toilets and running water are installed for multi-day tests in some of the chambers. In 1985, a small group of Soldiers lived for 40 days in one of the chambers while the atmospheric pressure was gradually reduced, simulating an ascent of Mount Everest.

The institute sits on the only active-duty Army post within the New England states, and is far removed from the larger installations where most troops spend their time training for and deploying to combat. Most Soldiers have no idea of the extent of research behind deciding what cloth their uniform is threaded from or the design of a new combat helmet, and many are eager to participate to better outfit their brothers in arms.

"I always thought a lot of this gear and equipment that we're wearing came from just one guy in a room clicking on a button making all the arbitrary decisions," said Army Sgt. Glenn Brunson, a mental health specialist who now works at the lab and manages the Soldier volunteer program. Brunson admits he didn't know the lab existed until he was assigned there.

But despite its nearly anonymous efforts at warrior care, the studies at the lab have translated into products that commanders now use to make better decisions in the field and in training.

Much of the institute's work is published in the form of Army doctrine or in medical manuals that lay out guidelines commanders use for training and combat operations. They address water requirements, the weights of loads carried by Soldiers, heat, cold and altitude health and performance issues, as well as nutritional requirements.

One recent study by the lab's nutrition division showed that caffeine supplements in Soldiers' diets led to better decision making during periods of operational stress. Another showed that caffeine improved target detection response time and reduced friendly-fire errors. The Army's new "First Strike" ration now carries caffeine gum and other natural supplements in its rations.

Another study pointed to the use of a backpack hip belt that shifted 30 percent of the weight to the hips, reducing back pain. This has become problematic for the Army, as loads carried on the backs of combat troops have grown, and the number of medical disability discharges has soared. Most are muscle and bone related, Zambraski said.

"It's a huge problem," he added.

Besides minimizing the risk of injuries, the institute also addresses how to maximize performance. The lab worked with the Army as it developed a new fitness program for its recruits that involved fewer weights and gym workouts and more calisthenics.

"We know that the harder you train, the more fit you're going to be, to an extent," Zambraski said. "But the harder you train, you're also putting yourself at risk for injury. So how can we train a Soldier so that we maximize both of these things -- fitness and capability -- as well as minimize the injury potential?"

The data the lab collects is programmed into medical "models" that can help commanders predict the likelihood of injuries and also help ensure they are getting the most out of their troops.

The Army Rangers, for example, have asked for a model that will take into account climate conditions for its road-march tests. They want to vary load and pace based on weather conditions to ensure peak performance on the marches.

A weather model, now built into a meteorological system mounted into Army vehicles, places overlays on a map based on the current weather conditions that show a commander how those conditions will affect both his Soldiers and equipment.

"They may want to tailor the mission. Should we go up and over or should we go around? This gives them a situational awareness to make the right scientifically based decision on that," said Laurie Blanchard, a biomedical engineer at the institute who helped to design the system.

Scientists at the lab liken their efforts to those that are used to enhance the performance and reduce the risk of injury of professional athletes. Professional football and basketball clubs sometimes spend millions of dollars to recruit and train top athletes. While no individual Soldier's recruiting contract is in that financial neighborhood, the Army is spending record amounts for training and for enlistment and retention bonuses as it tries to grow its force while fighting two wars.

Hard-to-fill, highly trained Special Forces jobs are especially critical. This places greater emphasis on ensuring those trained stay healthy and in the fight.

"The Soldier is a high-performance athlete. But unlike Lance Armstrong, who's got a whole team of folks, ... we rely on our Soldiers basically to take care of themselves," said Army Col. (Dr.) Keith Hiatt, the head of medical support for the institute. "So we need to get them the best equipment and the best food and best ... advice to help them along."

While not officially designated as a joint facility, the institute does not work solely within the confines of the Army, officials said. It has conducted tests and provided data for the Marines, Navy and Air Force. The Coast Guard uses a weather model that predicts cold-water survival times to determine how to look for survivors.

The institute has more than 70 research agreements with private industry, academic and other government institutions. The institute has worked with other countries' militaries and has 12 of its staff on various NATO panels. The surgeon general from France visited the institute just months ago.

To date, the institute has garnered six patents on its science, and more are pending, with patent license agreements that could bring as much as $8 million back to the institute for additional research and the transfer of its technology.

"Everybody uses this research," Hiatt said. "I think what we do is very scientifically valid and relevant for our warfighters today."

F.W. Baker (AFPS)

NATO Command Afghanistan to Split into Strategic and Operational Subcommands

Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez arrived in Afghanistan on 24 June to assume his post as deputy commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

He'll serve in that capacity on an interim basis as NATO officials set up a new intermediate command that Rodriguez will head in the alliance's International Security Assistance Force to oversee day-to-day military operations.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates explained the rationale behind the new command structure and where Rodriquez will fit in under Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who commands both U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

"The problem we needed to address is [that] the commander of ISAF under the current arrangement has far too many responsibilities to be able to guide the tactical battle on a day-to-day basis across the country," Gates said. "The plan is for General McChrystal and the [British] deputy commander -- Royal Marines Lt. Gen. Jim Dutton -- to have more of a strategic role in looking across the country at a more elevated level in terms of cooperation between civil and military efforts."

The command as proposed would be an intermediate headquarters under the ISAF commander that would focus on the tactical situation. "It would be very much like the corps commander in Iraq under the Multinational Force Iraq commander," Gates said. "So you've got somebody with the overarching responsibility for strategy, but somebody working the day-to-day battle."

The secretary said he hopes the new NATO command structure will be in place by August. "Immediately on the establishment of this ISAF headquarters," he said, "[Rodriquez] will take off the U.S. hat and put on an ISAF hat, and his only role will be in an alliance role."

This is the second tour of duty in Afghanistan for Rodriquez. As commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, he led Combined Joint Task Force 76, based at Bagram Airfield, from February 2007 to April 2008.

As deputy commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, Rodriguez will direct the day-to-day operations and ensure efficient command and control of U.S. forces and continue effective integration and coordination between U.S. and coalition forces operating under ISAF, officials said.

Rodriguez most recently served as Gates' senior military assistant.


Moscow De Facto Admits it Instigated Kyrgyz Ouster of US Forces

When Kyrgyzstan announced it was ending the US lease on Manas Air Base -- a vital logistics hub for coalition operations in Afghanistan -- many analysts saw Moscow as drawing the strings. Now that Kyrgystan has agreed to renewing the US lease -- in return for triple rent -- the Russian foreign ministry has accused the Kyrgyz government of "treachery". If that isn't an admission by Moscow that Russia did in fact instigate the original American ouster, what is?


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Army likely to play key role in new U.S. Cyber Command

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates signed a memo June 23, establishing a subcommand focused on cyber security, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters today.

Details about the new U.S. Cyber Command, which will report to U.S. Strategic Command, still are unfolding. But Gates reportedly plans to recommend Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, to receive his fourth star and take on the additional responsibility of commanding the cyber command.

Initial indications are that the cyber command will have its headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., pending results of an environmental impact statement.

"This is not some sort of new and necessarily different authorities that have been granted," Morrell told reporters today. "This is about trying to figure out how we, within this department, within the United States military, can better coordinate the day-to-day defense, protection and operation of the department's computer networks."

Morrell emphasized that the new command will focus solely on military networks.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III noted the importance of cyber security to national defense last week at the Center for International and Strategic Studies.

"Just like our national dependence, there is simply no exaggerating our military dependence on our information networks: the command and control of our forces, the intelligence and logistics on which they depend, the weapons technologies we develop and field - they all depend on our computer systems and networks," Lynn said. "Indeed, our 21st century military simply cannot function without them."

Because cyberspace is critical to joint military operations, it's critical that the Defense Department ensure they're protected, Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Butterbaugh, a Defense Department spokesman, told American Forces Press Service.

"To do this, the Department of Defense needs to ensure it has the right balance of integrated cyber capabilities," Butterbaugh said. "We're increasingly dependent on cyberspace, and there's a growing array of cyber threats. To effectively address this risk to its networks, the Defense Department requires a command possessing the required technical capability and which remains focused on streamlining cyberspace operations."

Morrell called the standup of Cyber Command an internal reorganization that will consolidate and streamline its cyber capabilities within a single command. The effort in no way represents any attempt by the department to "militarize" cyberspace or take over the responsibility for defending civilian networks, he said, noting that responsibility falls to the Homeland Security Department.

"This is part of a holistic, government-wide effort to better organize and situate ourselves to deal with this very real threat," he said. "And it is a complement to efforts that are taking place elsewhere within the United States government."

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated during a June 4 address at the Center for International and Strategic Studies that a decision on the new subcommand was in the works.

"There will be a cyber capability at the tactical level, and ... we do deploy it forward," Cartwright said. "There is an operational level, which tends to be based regionally, and there is a strategic capability. And we will, over the next few days, start to roll out the organizational constructs associated with that."

Donna Miles (AFPS)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iraq: Lessons Learned

British General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, presented major lessons learned -- i.e. mistakes made which should not be repeated -- at a RUSI briefing. These lessons should be studied in Washington too.


Gates Courts Gulf Arabs for Afghanistan Support

Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged military leaders from the Persian Gulf region to help with security and development of Afghanistan, saying there is only a "fleeting opportunity" now to turn the stalemated war around, reports the baltimore Sun.


US Discusses Taiwan Arms Sales -- With Peking

A US government delegation is visiting the PRC to discuss a pending American arms sales package -- possibly including F-16 fighters -- to Taiwan. Washington is walking a fine line between supporting the democratic Chinese government on Taiwan and courting major power (and UN veto power) Peking.


SEALs train with Army pilots in Northern Edge

Thirteen operators from a west-coast based SEAL team performed final checks on their equipment as a one-minute warning bell rang shrilly throughout the hull of the CH-47D "Chinook."

After descending steeply, the helicopter's back ramp dropped, and the SEAL team sprinted from the Chinook with their weapons up, setting up security as the helicopter lifted out of its two-wheel landing and began circling in the air before landing again to repeat the procedure.

The SEAL team worked with Army pilots from Task Force 49, 1-52 Aviation Battalion, B Company, also known as the "Sugar Bears," in a training evolution, June 15, designed to promote and develop interoperability between the two branches.

The exercise was part of Exercise Northern Edge 2009, which is one of a series of U.S. Pacific Command exercises that prepare joint forces to respond to crises in the Asian-Pacific region.

Because Fort Wainwright's Stryker brigade is currently in Iraq, the pilots aboard the Chinook used this evolution to practice troop transportation and dropping troops while using a two-wheel landing.

"Troop transportation is a large part of what we do, but something we have not been able to train for lately," said Capt. Thomas Pierce, a Chinook pilot with Sugar Bears. "Having these guys in the back added an element of realism unattainable with our ground units currently deployed."

Landing on two wheels allows pilots to drop troops in confined spaces that do not allow for conventional landings, added Pierce. Pilots use this technique often when landing in mountainous terrain and on roof tops.

Although the training evolution provided a good training opportunity for the Army pilots, they were not the only ones who gained from the experience.

"We rarely get the chance to work with the Chinooks, so this is a good chance to familiarize ourselves with the airframe, and how to get on it and off it quickly," said Darrin, a SEAL who's rank and last name are withheld to protect his identity. "We use this airframe to get us to the fight and to get us out."

The pilots inserted the SEALs at three different locations. At each location, the SEAL team practiced exiting the aircraft quickly, establishing security and properly reboarding the aircraft while maintaining a security element. This evolution is one of several the SEAL team will participate in while attending Northern Edge 09.

R.A. Rholes (ANS)


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

USAF Modification Triples Medevac Potential of KC-135

Air Mobility Command officials recently tested an electrical modification made to a KC-135 Stratotanker at Scott AFB (IL) that could multiply the number of critically injured warfighters an aeromedical evacuation crew can carry on an aircraft at one time.

The KC-135 is currently equipped with one electrical outlet located in the galley and the modification has two electrical outlets placed along the length of the aircraft to provide power for medical equipment.

"This modification should help us be more timely with evacuation of wounded warriors; our most precious passenger. The test team is absolutely thrilled at the prospect of bringing tomorrow's mobility capability to life today," said Col. John Scorsone, the Air Mobility Command test and evaluation director.

"While two additional electrical outlets might not seem like much, they will provide a quantum leap in our ability to carry more of the critically injured warfighters on our KC-135s. The improved safety and ease of providing vital patient care is a priceless benefit to the entire U.S. military," said Brig. Gen. Douglas Robb, the AMC command surgeon. "It also gives us the ability to get more injured warfighters out of theater faster and more efficiently, and ultimately will save more lives."

This modification enables a KC-135 to hold up to six critically injured patients, said Master Sgt. Doug Tye, an AMC aeromedical evacuation flight examiner. As it stands now it can only hold up to two patients.

Without the modification, the outlet is a single point of failure, said Maj. Dave Hughes, an AMC test and evaluation manager for tanker aircraft. If the outlet went down, the aeromedical evacuation mission halted.

While aeromedical evacuation equipment is capable of running on battery power, it requires frequent stops and missions to be much shorter, making aeromedical evacuation missions with critically injured patients not realistic, Major Hughes said.

More outlets can serve as a backup if one fails, but also bring more flexibility in placing critically injured patients.

Aeromedical evacuation crews would be able to place the critically injured along the length of the KC-135 without having to run long cords thus limiting tripping hazards, said Major Hughes.

The test took place over two days and involved officials from AMC Test and Evaluation, 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 932nd Critical Care Air Transport Team and the 190th Air Refueling Squadron from Forbes Field Air National Guard Base, Kan.

During the first day of the test, measurements were taken to verify how much power the circuits could support. A simulated aeromedical evacuation mission was performed on the second day to determine that the aeromedical evacuation crew could work in the modified environment safely and efficiently.

While the goal of the test is to identify any problems between the modification and the aircraft, the ultimate goal of the modification is to bring more injured warfighters out of harm's way and to a higher level of care faster.

The modification could be used as early as July.

Bekah Clark (AFNS)

TacSat-3 Exceeds Expectations Says USAF

The Tactical Satellite-3 has exceeded expectations and is performing well a month after being launched, according to the program manager of the experimental spacecraft.

Launched May 19, TacSat-3 is managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate officials at Kirtland AFB (NM).

The TacSat-3 features an onboard processor, which will provide real-time data, within 10 minutes of its collection, to the combatant commander in the theater of interest.

Within 30 days of operation, the program has accomplished early on-orbit checkout and anticipates completing calibration procedures next week.

"All three payloads are operating properly," said Dr. Thomas Cooley, the TacSat-3 program manager. "The spacecraft has set a superior benchmark for the remaining 11 months of the mission, and the project team is excited about demonstrating the capability of providing rapid and responsive products to the warfighter."

The highlights of TacSat-3's inaugural month of flight in low Earth orbit at approximately 425 kilometers (264 miles) altitude are:

- Within two hours after launch, the spacecraft's solar arrays initiated power to operate key components, and controllers operated the satellite.
- Approximately 48 hours following liftoff, program officials verified the functionality of the primary payload, the Advanced Responsive Tactically-Effective Military Imaging Spectrometer, and sensor processing.
- During the first 2.5 days of the mission, the ARTEMIS sensor produced a high-resolution image, the satellite successfully communicated to a ground station via a high-bandwidth data link and operators discovered TacSat-3 had 50 percent more power than originally planned for due to the solar panels' efficiency.
- Following cool down in the initial week, the ARTEMIS also conducted a hyperspectral image collect.
- Between the first and second weeks, the Army Space and Missile Defense Battlelab Tactical Ground Station staff at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., successfully commanded TacSat-3.
- Also in week two, controllers initiated ARTEMIS focus operations and validated the spacecraft's autonomous software.
- Between the second and third weeks, the 880-pound satellite proved its tactical mode by collecting and processing hyperspectral imagery, downloaded a tactical product within a single, 10-minute pass, and validated that the secondary payloads, the Office of Naval Research Space Communications Package and the AFRL Space Avionics Experiment, were performing as required.

Project personnel continue to tactically command TacSat-3 and refine how the spacecraft can quickly react to the evolving battlespace environment.

Led by ARFL/RV, TacSat-3 is a collaboration involving the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, the Department of Defense's Operationally Responsive Space Office, the ONR, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Space Development and Test Wing and the AFRL Sensors Directorate.

Mike Kleiman (AFNS)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Naval Forces Raise a FRUKUS

Maritime forces from four countries began participation in annual exercise "FRUKUS" in the Bay of Biscay off the coast of Brest, France, June 19.

FRUKUS, which stands for the participating countries – France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – is a naval exercise focusing on strengthening maritime partnerships and improving interoperability and overall communication between the nations.

Exercise FRUKUS is broken into two segments, in port and at sea.

In port, Sailors will participate in training for communications and maritime interdiction operations and maritime coordination ashore, while senior leadership will focus on topics including maritime security, fleet modernization and international, submarine rescue.

At sea, the exercise will be driven by a scenario that supports Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), the interoperability between forces afloat and maritime interdiction [law-enforcement] operations.

"During this exercise, Sailors will get underway and become familiar with the other navies' operating procedures and practices," said Cmdr. Scott Smith, commanding officer of USS Klakring (FFG 42). "When they meet in the future to conduct combined peacekeeping or humanitarian operations, or to counter trafficking in drugs, weapons, or persons in this region, they will be better able to work together."

In the wake of last year's Russia-Georgia crisis, the United States cancelled FRUKUS 2008 participation as a part of its broader suspension of military-to-military activities with the Russian Federation.

FRUKUS was created in 2003 to aid in talks between France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Sponsorship rotates between the four navies with the lead nation traditionally providing a blend of professional and cultural activities. The principal aim is to increase interoperability by developing individual and collective maritime proficiencies of participating nations, as well as promoting friendship, mutual understanding and cooperation.

Participating U.S. forces include USS Klakring and staff for the Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet .

Rosa Larson (NNS)


Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Destructive Blow to US Air & Space Industrial Base?

Here's a link to an important editorial in which USAF General (Ret.) Gregory S. Martin argues that the lens to measure DOD "rebalancing" of the force should be viewed over 20-30 years. He also argues that DOD's decision to terminate the C-17 and F-22 production lines; cancel the next Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter, the Presidential Helicopter, the multiple kill vehicle, the next generation bomber and the Transformational Satellite communication system; and moving the Airborne Laser program to a research and development effort delivered a potentially destructive blow to America's air and space industrial base. You can find the op-ed on the Air Force Association web at: http://www.afa.org/edop/2009/edop_6-17a-09.asp

Friday, June 19, 2009

USN Targets, Destroys Incoming UAVs

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), with support from Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren, for the first time successfully tracked, engaged and destroyed a threat representative unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) while in flight at Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, Calif., June 7.

A total of five targets were engaged and destroyed during the testing, also a first for the U.S. Navy. Members of NAVSEA's Directed Energy and Electric Weapon Systems (DE&EWS) Program Office and NSWC Dahlgren fired a laser through a beam director on a KINETO tracking mount.

Two additional UAVs were engaged and destroyed in flight June 9, with two more UAVs shot down June 11. These recent evolutions continued a series of progressively challenging tests using the prototype version of the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System (LaWS).

"The success of this effort validates the military utility of DE&EWS," said Program Manager Capt. David Kiel. "Further development and integration of increasingly more powerful lasers into Surface Navy LaWS will increase both the engagement range and target sets that can be successfully engaged and destroyed."

NAVSEA's DE&EWS Program Office is responsible for the research, development, integration and acquisition initiation of DE&EWS for the Navy's surface forces.

NSWC Dahlgren focuses on research, development, test and evaluation in the fields of military safety testing, integrated warfare systems, weapons and ammunition, sensors and directed energy and homeland and force (military personnel and equipment) protection.

Recent advances in commercial high energy fiber welding laser development for commercial welding use have made the deployment of a weapons grade laser based defense system on board naval vessels a realistic possibility.

DE&EWS is transitioning technology from the laboratory to prototype system development/test for operational development and use. One of the multiple 'game changing' technologies that is under development includes laser weapons that provide for speed-of-light engagements at tactically significant ranges with cost savings realized by minimizing the use of defensive missiles and projectiles.

# END    

Joint Logistics Exercise Improves Deployment Capabilities

Interoperability between the services is one of the success stories from the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) exercise that concluded June 19 at Camp Lejeune.

JLOTS brought Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen together to coordinate the movement of heavy cargo and vehicles from ship-to-shore.

The exercise not only showcased operational compatibility but fostered camaraderie between Soldiers and Sailors.

"I helped the Army with food preparation," said Equipment Operator Construction Apprentice Kyle Durocher, assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion Two (ACB 2). "I also worked with them to clean the galley and keep the trash around the camp down to a minimum."

Working side-by-side with other services can be beneficial, especially during an exercise as large as JLOTS.

"You meet a large array of individuals," said Builder Constructionman Apprentice Michelle Hazen, assigned to ACB 2. "Not only do you make friends, but you learn how they do the same job as you."

Navy and Army have always had a friendly rivalry, but both branches learned from their JLOTS experience.

"The interaction with the Navy has been great," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Berry, assigned to 11th Transportation Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment. "Having both services out here brings about better ideas that we can take back to our units."

JLOTS demonstrated the capability the services have to accomplish missions when they work together to achieve a common goal.

"To watch a Navy watercraft carry Army gear to the pier is a fine example of interoperability," said Capt. Clayton Saunders, who commands Naval Beach Group 2. "On that same token, to watch an Army watercraft come ashore to a Navy beach and offload vehicles and supplies is quite a sight."

John Stratton (NNS)


LCS 1 USS Freedom Completes Second Acceptance Trials

USS Freedom (LCS 1) completed a second round of acceptance trials May 22 that featured a successful four-hour, full-power run and both surface and air detect-to-engagement demonstrations of the ship's combat management system.

The trials evaluated the ship's major systems and equipment that were not tested during the first round of trials in August 2008 in Lake Michigan.

The four-day trial evaluated the material condition and performance of the ship's major systems. Officials from the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) noted that since the last trails, the ship had made improvements in the propulsion plant, machinery control system, communication systems and information systems.

The first round of acceptance trials took place in the constrained waters of Lake Michigan, which restricted the performance of certain tests. Because the Great Lakes are fresh water, the Navy could not test the ship's cathodic protection, degaussing and reverse osmosis system. The ship's surveillance and identification systems must be tested at a sufficient range from land, and treaty and overboard discharge limitations prevented the demonstration of fire suppression and waste discharge systems.

During this second trial, major systems and features were demonstrated for INSURV, including aviation support, small boat launch handling and recovery and fin stabilizers, in addition to the full-power run and detect-to-engage sequences. The Navy is reviewing the results of the trials and will correct any identified deficiencies. There were no major safety issues or operational restrictions determined during the trial, although the ship must complete a number of scheduled system certifications before it can conduct unrestricted operations.

Since her initial acceptance trials nine months ago, Freedom has been very active. She was delivered and commissioned, steamed from the Great Lakes to Norfolk, conducted multiple port visits, witnessed the first crew turnover, conducted tests and trials off of Norfolk and has undergone a brief maintenance period. The ship recently paid a visit to Alexandria, Va., where it was visited by hundreds of people from the Department of Defense, Congress, industry, media and the general public.

USS Freedom will now continue its operational testing intended to allow the ship's crew to exercise the ship's systems. Following all trials and testing, the ship will be ready for a fleet deployment to satisfy operational missions. This is a standard Navy practice employed to introduce first-of-class ships into service.

LCS is a new breed of U.S. Navy warship with versatile warfighting capabilities, ready for open-ocean operation but optimized for littoral, or coastal, missions. Operational experience and analyses indicate that potential adversaries will employ asymmetric means to deny U.S. and allied forces access into critical coastal regions, such as strategic chokepoints and vital economic sea lanes. LCS is specifically designed to defeat such "anti-access" threats, which include fast surface craft, quiet diesel submarines and various types of mines.

The Navy's Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships is responsible for the development and acquisition of U.S. Navy surface ships and is currently managing the design and construction of 11 major ship classes and a wide range of small boats and craft. These platforms range from major warships such as frontline surface combatants and amphibious assault ships to air-cushioned landing craft, oceanographic research ships and special warfare craft. Since its creation in November 2002, PEO Ships has delivered 31 major warships and hundreds of small boats and craft from more than 20 shipyards and boat builders across the United States.


US Waffles on European Missile Defense

The United States has made no final decision on deploying a controversial missile defense system in central Europe, a senior defense official said Tuesday, saying it was only "one of the options" under consideration, reports AFP.


Joint Exercise Enhances ContingLogistics Capabilities

Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS), a mutli-service cargo distribution exercise, officially began at Camp LeJeune (NC) June 15.

JLOTS is a test of critical military capability that allows equipment and sustainment supplies to reach specific areas without the benefit of a fixed port facility. The exercise increases interoperability and improves military readiness by alleviating situational sustainment issues.

"JLOTS is an annual exercise that allows the Navy and Army to practice operations of our logistics equipment over an unapproved beach in a joint environment," said Capt. Clayton Saunders, the commodore of Naval Beach Group 2. "It gives us the opportunity to integrate with one another and to rehearse our ability to move cargo, rolling stock and containers over a beach."

This capability ensures that military forces can discharge a ship off shore and move cargo into an area of operations without improved port facilities. The Navy, Army and Air Force are working together to contribute to this viable technique, enhancing capabilities for tactical or humanitarian missions anywhere in the world. Military logistics is an increasingly joint task, so the joint training environment is critical for future missions.

"JLOTS is an important exercise because U.S. armed forces may be required to do disaster relief or humanitarian assistance to a port that has been damaged, so with this capability we can still bring the cargo in," said JLOTS Task Force Commander Army Col. Chuck Maskell. "What we are training for here is a worst case scenario. We have many tools at our disposal many of which would be helpful during a natural disaster, including watercraft and causeways."

JLOTS improves current alternatives to providing sustainment, such as air support.

"Air support provides a vital link to sustainment, but it can only provide so much," Saunders said. "While you can get some initial support from air, when you start talking about some heavy supplies and fuel, you cannot bring it in by air. We have to have the means to bring that support from the sea to the fight."

Beach Master Unit 2, Assault Craft Unit 2 and Amphibious Construction Battalion 2, all stationed out of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, are participating in this exercise to assist in both the sea and shore aspects.

"The beach master unit provides the ability to traffic and salvage to the beach; the assault craft unit has the displacement craft we are utilizing, and the construction battalion provides the camp infrastructure as well as additional ship to shore support," said Saunders.

The exercise, by both ground convoy and water movement, started in May and will continue until the beginning of July. The actual discharge of the vessels and the moving of the cargo to the beach will take place June 15-21.

Katrina Parker (NNS)

USN Leaders Challenged to Look Beyond Horizon in Dealing with Today's Threats

The secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) delivered remarks before nearly 1,100 participants at the U.S. Naval War College's 60th annual Current Strategy Forum (CSF) June 16.

In his opening remarks Ray Mabus, SECNAV, praised the benefits of a yearly strategy conference like CSF. Hosted annually by the secretary of the Navy, the two-day conference presents the perspective of the nation's leading experts on how the Navy can both meet future challenges and identify opportunities to promote a more stable world with this year's theme, 'Seizing Strategic Opportunities: Challenging the Paradigm.'"

"Your deliberations take place at a crucial time," said Mabus. "While we focus on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we also must answer the call...to look beyond the horizons."

Mabus referred to the piracy attacks off the Horn of Africa when explaining the need to look "beyond the horizon" for unexpected security threats.

"When ninety percent of global commerce is transported by sea, and ninety-five percent of global communications go under the sea, we can see the immense importance of ensuring the freedom of those seas."

Mabus also stated that the military, "must not only meet the traditional security challenges posed by the military forces of other states, but also get ready for the important role we will play in the struggle against violent extremism. We are in the midst of a rapidly changing security landscape and increasingly complex world."

Mabus explained that most security threats are difficult to detect in advance and praised the Naval War College for hosting the CSF and providing a venue for "fresh ideas." He spoke of the unpredictable nature of security threats.

"If you had been in this room twenty years ago, before the fall of the Berlin Wall and made a thoughtful analysis of the challenges we would face in 2009, most likely everyone would have been wrong. If you were to come back ten years later, in 1999, and do the same good, deep analysis, it would have still been more wrong than right...Odds are, over the next two decades, we will face threats and challenges we cannot see today."

Mabus lauded the opportunities awaiting guests at the forum.

"As you listen to a most impressive array of figures over the next two days, from top military commanders to some of the brightest minds in academic and policy circles, I think you will find the Current Strategy Forum to be enormously useful in understanding and confronting these challenges."

Sarah Smith (NNS)

Adm. Roughhead Stresses Naval Adaptability

The chief of naval operations (CNO) presented a keynote address at the U.S. Naval War College's 60th annual Current Strategy Forum June 16.

Adm. Gary Roughead, CNO, stressed the importance of the Navy's ability to adapt in the face of modern warfare.

"We believe that preventing war is as important as winning war," Roughead said.

The two-day forum themed "Seizing Strategic Opportunities: Challenging the Paradigm" presented the perspective of the nation's leading experts on how the Navy can both meet future challenges and identify opportunities to promote a more stable world.

"I think one of the greatest challenges we will have in the future is being able to exercise sea control wherever and whenever we will be called to do so," said Roughead.

Roughead explained the importance of the seas in terms of commerce, communication and resources. Oceans hold 95 percent of the world's trade routes, in addition to 65 percent of its oil reserves and 35 percent of its natural gas reserves. With a greater need to provide security on the seas, wage irregular warfare and combat piracy, the Navy must be multimission capable and always ready to perform.

Commenting on the Sailors and officers in today's Navy, CNO said the Navy demonstrates excellent service with a highly professional fleet.

"We must be able to attract and maintain the fine men and women who serve," CNO said. "This is the best Navy, today, in which I have ever served."

Tyler Will (NNS)

Gen. Conway Discusses USMC Future

The commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps delivered a keynote speech at the U.S. Naval War College's 60th Current Strategy Forum June 17.

The forum was themed "Seizing Strategic Opportunities: Challenging the Paradigm" and was a two-day discussion that presented opinions on military policy from nationally recognized academics, military personnel and other government officials.

Describing the current direction of the Marine Corps, Gen. James T. Conway began his speech by reflecting on Marine activity in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East as a whole. In the middle of 2006, Sunni sheiks came to the Marines requesting help to fight al-Qaida, resulting in Marines and Sunnis engaging al-Qaida together.

"The value of that experience has been that other nations in the region have seen that this has taken place," Conway said.

Describing challenges in the region, the commandant said Marines are combating a multi-million dollar drug trade in southern Afghanistan.

He commended Pakistan for recent efforts combating the Taliban.

"We wish them continued success, because it is a tremendous operation that absolutely had to happen," Conway said.

The Marine Corps is also researching ways to operate with lighter equipment.

"As an expeditionary force, we say that we are fast, austere and lethal," Conway said. "In order to be fast, you need to be light."

Commenting on personnel, the commandant said the Marine Corps is continually working to make sure deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan remain at seven months. He concluded his speech with a statement about quality Marines rising to substantial challenges.

"We are optimistic in the Corps. Where there are challenges, there are opportunities," he said.

Tyler Will (NNS)

USAF's HYDRA '09 Exercise PReps for Humanitarian Reaction

Members of the 615th Contingency Response Wing and 15 other units from around the United States joined together at Travis AFB (CA) to participate in HYDRA '09.

The joint exercise is the 615th CRW's most comprehensive training event, organized to allow Airmen to hone their skills and enhance command, control and joint interoperability using realistic scenarios.

"This humanitarian exercise gives us the ability to practice in a realistic environment," said Master Sgt. Craig Brown, 571st Contingency Response Group first sergeant. "We are able to test our command and control, and enhance our ability to accept airflow and off load cargo using real world scenarios. "

The exercise has grown from a 615th CRW-only event in 2007 to a training event that has about 750 participants from 16 different units, some from the Army and Marine Corps.

"We're working jointly with all different services of the military at different times of the day," said Senior Airman Jason Aglubat, 571st Global Mobility Squadron aerial port journeyman. "Every day brings different challenges and learning opportunities."

The 11-day exercise began June 12 and trains participants on a variety of operations that would be required in the event of an emergency.

"It gives us a real sense of what we would actually be doing if a humanitarian need rose somewhere in the world," Sergeant Brown said.

The scenario for HYDRA '09 was a magnitude 6.0 earthquake in a fictional allied country. The devastation from the quake extended up to 100 miles out from the epicenter. This scenario allowed the exercise to spread over three locations to provide maximum training opportunities. A part of the exercise, called Global Medic, focused on treating and moving victims of the earthquake.

"Participating in this exercise has allowed me to learn a lot of things that a classroom environment just can't offer," said Army Private 1st Class Arlett Diaz, a nutritionist with the Mobile Aeromedical Staging Facility at the exercise site. "I've learned how to administer flight transportation so that patients can receive the medical attention they need when they get to a hospital."

The training received during the exercise is invaluable to participants.

"This training keeps me up to date with the advances in my field," Private Diaz said. "It also makes me a better team member because I know I am able to help in other areas of the MASF as well."

In addition to training on aerial port operations, participants also were involved in helicopter sling-load training, simulated medical evacuation, several air drops of both personnel and equipment, low level and landing zone aircrew training.

"This exercise does a lot of things for us," said Staff Sgt. Melinda Santiago, 615th CRW air transportation craftsman. "In addition to learning how to interact with other services, we're also training to respond to a natural disaster and get relief supplies in and anyone who is injured out."

All of this training helps support the 615th CRW's mission of employing rapidly deployable, cross functional teams to quickly open forward air bases in an expeditionary environment.

Jessica Switzer (AFNS)
      # END

DISA Plans EMP Hardened Comm for White House

The Defense Information Systems Agency plans to install a presidential network in the Washington area this year that will be able to survive an attack by a nuclear weapon that generates a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP), which can burn out circuit boards and other electronic devices, reports Nextgoc.com


Barksdale Now Official as Global Strike Command HQ

The Air Force announced Barksdale Air Force Base, La. as the permanent location of Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters June 18.  The new major command will focus on the nuclear and global strike mission.

Barksdale was previously identified as the Air Force's preferred alternative for purposes of the environmental analysis process that is now complete. AFGSC will be activated on August 7.

"The environmental assessment, which included a 30-day public comment period, resulted in a finding of 'No Significant Impact' which allows for the SECAF to take the additional steps of making a final basing decision and formally standing up AFGSC," said Kathleen Ferguson, deputy assistant secretary for Installations.

"The standup of this new command will provide clear lines of authority and responsibility dedicated to the nuclear and conventional global strike mission, a key component of strategic deterrence," said Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz, designated commander for AFGSC.

      # END

US Moves Missile Defense Forces to Hawaii to Repel NK Threat

The U.S. is moving ground-to-air missile defenses to Hawaii as tensions escalate between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea's recent moves to restart its nuclear-weapon program and resume test-firing long-range missiles, reports the Wall Street Journal.


Army develops new modernization strategy after scaling back FCS

Battlefield communications networks will be a critical component of a modernization strategy the Army is developing after canceling the $160 billion ground vehicle portion of its Future Combat Systems program, an Army spokesman said.
The Brigade Combat Team Modernization Strategy aims to develop a new line of ground combat vehicles and deploy sensor systems and unmanned vehicles engineered under FCS, reports Nextgov.com


Thursday, June 18, 2009

FCS Transitions into BCT Modernization Program

The Army's Future Combat Systems program is transitioning to a Brigade Combat Team Modernization Strategy according to officials testifying before a Senate Armed Services subcommittee Tuesday.

Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli told the Airland subcommittee that the BCT Modernization Strategy is expected to enhance network capabilities and use advancing technology to give Soldiers an advantage over the enemy.

Chiarelli said the Army is applying lessons learned from the past seven years of combat to improve tactics, training and equipment.

"In every aspect of the Army's modernization strategy, our purpose is to improve Soldiers' survivability and ensure they are able to maintain a decisive advantage over whatever enemy they may face," Chiarelli said. "We are adamant, and I know that the members of this esteemed committee are equally adamant that we never want to send our Soldiers into a fair fight."

The BCT Modernization Strategy will replace the Future Combat Systems. Portions of the FCS program were cut from the fiscal year 2010 budget, specifically the eight FCS manned ground vehicles, including the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon.

The budget accelerated the fielding of spin-outs to all 73 BCTs starting in FY2011. Other parts of FCS will transition to the BCT Modernization Strategy, most notably the network.

Lt. Gen. N. Ross Thompson III, military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology told the committee that the network is imperative because it connects leaders and soldiers to various systems.

"By growing the network in regular increments, we will provide our Soldiers and their leaders with a continually enhanced common-operating picture of the battle space, which is a significant advantage in combat," Thompson said.

Chiarelli said he disagreed with some opinions that money previously allocated to the FCS program should be reallocated elsewhere. Although the funding was cut for the MGV, the network component of the FCS program is still needed, he said.

"The network is the centerpiece of the Army's modernization efforts and any short fall in funding will put that effort at risk," Chiarelli said.

Since the MGV was halted, the Army will use information gathered under the FCS program to develop a new ground combat vehicle in the next five to seven years, according to Chiarelli.

An Acquisition Decision Memorandum will soon be issued by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, according to Chiarelli. He said it will halt the current FCS program and provide detailed guidance for how the Army's modernization program will move forward.

Holly Meyer (ANS)


New Army Combat Vehicles Likely to Borrow from FCS Program

The Army is committed to providing Soldiers with a new ground combat vehicle, despite the recent cancellation of the eight manned ground vehicles from the Future Combat Systems program.

Army leaders hosted a symposium to develop requirements for a new vehicle, June 15, at the National Defense University on Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. Attendees at the forum included Army commanders, retired general officers, representatives from think tanks and enlisted Soldiers.

"It's a wide variety of diverse individuals with experiences in combat, experiences in combat development, experiences in strategic operations and operational concept development -- we've got a lot of people," said Brig. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., director, joint and futures, Army G-8.

Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli requested the "blue-ribbon panel" event, Harrison said, to gather "thoughts, ideas and perspectives" on what the Army needed in a new ground combat vehicle.

Harrison said it was important to include a variety of people in the panels because diversity of insight would mean a more robust vehicle for Soldiers.

"We have the end user in mind here, and the end user is the Soldier," Harrison said. "That Soldier is represented here today by some of the platoon sergeants and command sergeants major that serve in combat formations throughout the Army. They have a perspective that is real and that is current."

The one-day meeting with Army and civilian participants featured breakout sessions in six areas related to a new ground combat vehicle, including operational environments, platform characteristics, platform threats, realistic future requirements, networking considerations, and differences between a commercial-off-the-shelf vehicle verses an entirely researched and developed vehicle.

Information and ideas gathered at the blue-ribbon panel may eventually be used in Army Training and Doctrine Command's recommended requirements document for the ground combat vehicle. TRADOC is expected to deliver that recommended requirements document by Labor Day, and if approved, the document will kick off the acquisition process that will eventually put a new ground combat vehicle into the hands of Soldiers.

"Ideally, as we look at requirements documentation, it is reasonable to assume we may have this available to the force within a five-to-seven-year time frame," Harrison said. "We think it is doable, and we have support of the senior Army leadership and the secretary of Defense."

Just what the new ground combat vehicle might look like remains to be seen, though Chiarelli told members of the Senate, June 16, that technology in the new vehicle would likely borrow from technology the Army has developed for the cancelled FCS MGVs.

"We are working very hard to pull all those things we learned in the FCS MGV program -- that is not money that has been wasted," Chiarelli said. "All things we will use and look at for integration into the ground combat vehicle."

Chiarelli also said the GCV could be more than just one vehicle.

"I would not be surprised if we didn't see a family of vehicles that may include an indirect-fire capability," Chiarelli said. "We are very pleased with the (Secretary of Defense's) commitment to an Army modernization plan and to a GCV. And the chief of staff of the Army and the secretary of the Army have charged us with moving ahead and fielding something to our forces within five to seven years, and we are well into the planning to do that right now."

C.T. Lopez


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq on Schedule

The withdrawal of American troops from Iraq cities is on track, Iraqi and coalition officials said this week.

Iraqi security forces are set to assume responsibility for the areas, Iraqi spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said at a June 15 news conference.

"The step of withdrawal of American forces from the city will be a main step in this effort," he said. "And the Iraqi government is committed to receive all the security responsibility and protect security, protect its citizens and all foreigners who are working and living in Iraq."

The security forces also will provide protection for embassies, foreign missions and the commercial and cultural missions working in Iraq, he added.

The spokesman also noted the longer-range goal of withdrawal of all American combat forces from Iraq by December 2011.

"The Iraqi government affirms that the American forces will complete ... the withdrawal of the combat forces at the specific time, and will leave limited numbers from the technicians with our security forces for the purpose of training, and will operate some equipment based on the request of the Iraqi government," he said.

The United States remains firmly committed to fulfilling the terms of the security agreement, said Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of Multinational Force Iraq.

"In accordance with this security agreement, U.S. combat forces will leave the cities on June 30, and it will be a great day for the Iraqi people," the general said. "The improvements in security and the professionalism of the Iraqi army and police have enabled this step."

The withdrawal includes the city of Mosul and the province of Ninevah. A few months ago, General Odierno acknowledged he had reservations about pulling out of Mosul. But, Iraqi security forces have increased their presence in the city.

"We have had very successful operations in Mosul over the last 45 days," General Odierno said. "We have been able to detain several key leaders. I feel much more comfortable now where we're at in Mosul."

The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq has decreased significantly, General Odierno said.

"In fact, for the most part, it's been just a trickle," he said, crediting border enforcement inside Iraq and Syrian cooperation.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has been degraded significantly, and though the terror group still can launch attacks, it is becoming more difficult, the general said.

"The dark days of previous years are behind us," he added. "Today, Iraqis are able to lead more normal lives, more children are in schools, restaurants are beginning to open, shops are doing business and parliament is meeting."

The numbers of attacks in Iraq has dropped significantly. Military officials said the number of attacks in May was at the lowest level since August 2003. Attacks against civilians, attacks against Iraqi security forces and attacks against coalition forces all are down.

"Across Iraq, attacks remain low as a result of the strong partnership between Iraqi and U.S. security forces, forged in tough fighting during the surge of operations that began in January of 2007," General Odierno said.

Since the U.S.-Iraq security agreement took effect in January, coalition forces have closed or returned 142 bases to Iraq control.

"And since last September, we have reduced over 30,000 Multinational Force Iraq troops in all of Iraq," the general said.

Coalition forces had operated from about 460 bases, and now operate from about 320.

"We will continue to reduce those this year," General Odierno said. "And we will continue to reduce both our forces and the number of bases in 2010 and through December of 2011, when we will be completely withdrawn from Iraq."

"Enablers" such as logistics and aircraft are on track, said Iraqi Defense Minister Abdul Qader Mohammad Jassim al-Mafrji.

"We will have capabilities for helicopter support starting in the middle of 2010," Minister al-Mafrji said. "This will grow gradually, but [we] plan to be able at the end of 2011 to have complete support. The support also needs logistical support, and logistical support is focused greatly on medevac."

Jim Garamone (AFNS)
      # END

Navy Revises Intelligence Manpower Distribution

As the demand for Navy's intelligence expertise has continued to grow, Navy intelligence professionals have been working hard to keep pace. In April 2009, the chief of naval operations approved and directed implementation of revised naval intelligence manpower alignment and distribution plan.

The plan is an all-inclusive review and alignment of the Navy's intelligence manpower and will entail the establishment of fleet intelligence detachments and the Fleet Intelligence Adaptive Force, reporting to Commander Naval Network Warfare Command (NETWARCOM).

As the fleet intelligence type Commander, NETWARCOM is tasked with executing the plan which will begin this October to be fully implemented by October 2010.

"This plan is necessary to meet current and projected fleet operational requirements with improved intelligence capability while remaining within existing naval intelligence manpower constraints," said Rear Adm. Samuel Cox, director of Fleet Intelligence, based at NETWARCOM.

According to the plan, aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious ships will retain a reduced permanent intelligence force but will be augmented by the fleet intelligence detachments for underway training, deployment and surge requirements. Fleet and operational requirements will be met with rapidly adaptive intelligence capability, within current overall naval intelligence manning. Manpower freed up by the realignment will be realigned to the fleet intelligence detachments (direct support) and Fleet Intelligence Adaptive Force to provide intelligence capability to meet increased fleet demands including maritime interception operations intelligence exploitation teams, Scan Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operations, SSGN missions and similar requirements or other priorities identified by operational commanders.

These detachments and the Fleet Intelligence Adaptive Force, which integrates Sailors from different intelligence teams into one group, will be administratively aligned under the authority of NETWARCOM, but when embarked, deployed or operationally employed, they will report directly to the appropriate operational commander.

The Fleet Intelligence Adaptive Force will also provide enhanced intelligence capability to maritime operations centers and serve as the primary source for meeting fleet obligations for individual augmentees.

Chris Koons (NNS)