Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Senior Officers Experience LCS Training

Senior Officers Experience LCS Training: "Commander, Naval Surface Forces (CNSF) and Naval Surface Force (NSF) Pacific Fleet, more than 40 flag officers and senior executives attending the Surface Warfare Officer Flag Training Symposium visited the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Shore-Based Training Facility (SBTF) Aug. 25 in San Diego.

Leadership, including CNSF and NSF Pacific Fleet, Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, toured the SBTF, which is operated and managed by Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) Detachment San Diego and is a final step in the LCS train to qualify process.

The LCS SBTF is the first surface warfare training facility to provide integrated bridge and combat systems tactical scenario training for Sailors serving on board an LCS.

Flag officers were shown the facilities and watched as the Blue Crew from USS Freedom (LCS 1) and USS Independence (LCS 2) manned stations in the simulators.

"The SBTF provides a perfect backdrop for introducing Navy leadership to the future of surface warfare training," said Joe Shifflett, director of the LCS SBTF. "It was especially helpful having actual crews who have benefited from using trainers answer the admirals' questions about the train to qualify process."

The train to qualify process connects the initial LCS training model to personnel qualification standards. Train to qualify is a new concept for the surface force that shifts qualification training from the ship to shore training, meaning that LCS Sailors report aboard ready to stand their watch and execute assigned duties.

"The mission of the SBTF is two-fold," explained Brian Deters, CSCS's technical support director. "It provides integrated training for Sailors and serves as the primary training venue for LCS off-crew preparing for deployment certification."

After the demonstration, Curtis and the flag officers spoke with Freedom and Independence Sailors about the blended training they received and their experience working on an LCS ship.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Analysis: Will battle for Kandahar win war? - Army News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Army Times

Analysis: Will battle for Kandahar win war? - Army News | News from Afghanistan & Iraq - Army Times: "Since the war began, this southern city and surrounding countryside have been marked as the heartland of the Taliban, the insurgents’ springboard to retake all of Afghanistan. It has witnessed some of the bloodiest fighting.
Now, as U.S. and allied forces wrestle with urban warlords and take on die-hard insurgents in booby-trapped orchards and grape fields, the battle for Kandahar city is being described as the decisive campaign, a linchpin of American strategy to win the 9-year-old conflict.
“As goes Kandahar, so goes Afghanistan,” has almost become the military’s mantra.
Not all agree, arguing even if success in Kandahar is achieved, the war will be far from over. That success is far from guaranteed: the obstacles are overwhelming, the time to overcome them may prove too short, and victory may hinge not on what happens on the ground in Kandahar, but in the American political arena.
“This is Western military thinking which is totally irrelevant to Afghanistan,” says Marc Sageman, a former CIA operative in the region now with the Washington-based Foreign Policy Research Institute. “You can pacify Kandahar and you’ll still lose the war because Afghanistan remains a highly decentralized society, and in the countryside, the Kabul government has little legitimacy.”"

ANALYSIS-Iraq drawdown may raise pressure on US defense budget | Reuters

ANALYSIS-Iraq drawdown may raise pressure on US defense budget | Reuters: "end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq may increase pressure on the Pentagon to trim spending, giving ammunition to lawmakers who have long wanted to take aim at the massive defense budget.

The United States will formally end its combat mission in Iraq on Tuesday, ahead of a scheduled withdrawal of all U.S. forces next year. President Barack Obama also aims to start withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan in July 2011.

Given mounting concern over the giant U.S. budget deficit, those drawdowns could be potent political arguments for advocates of making defense cuts part of the overall effort to trim federal spending.

Tackling defense spending has been a politically taboo topic since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, but that may be changing, analysts say."

I Corps re-shifts its focus to Pacific

I Corps re-shifts its focus to Pacific: "With news of the sinking of a South Korean navy vessel less than five months old, this year's annual exercise, Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2010, is a timely reminder of I Corps' defense commitments to the country's Asian-Pacific allies.

"There is no hiding that Korea has the potential to be a volatile place," said Maj. Gen. John D. Johnson, the commanding general of I Corps.

An Aug. 18 article on the U.S. Air Force website called Ulchi Freedom Guardian "the world's largest command and control simulation exercise."

It quoted senior Combined Forces Command officials about the nature of the exercise that took place Aug. 16 through 26, which addressed how to fight a combined-force conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

"The annual joint/combined command post exercise is designed to improve the Republic of Korea and U.S. alliance's ability to defend the Republic of Korea," wrote Staff Sgt. Jason Lake of 7th Air Force Public Affairs.

"The complex computer simulation exercise aims to train deployed and permanent party servicemembers while refining senior leaders' decision-making capabilities. In total, more than 27,000 U.S. joint forces and 500,000 ROK forces participate in the annual exercise throughout the peninsula."

For approximately 200 I Corps staff members, the exercise represented an unparalleled training opportunity for its newly assigned staff members and a chance to shake the sand out of their desert boots and focus on traditional commitments.

The corps staff has been rebuilding since it returned from Iraq last spring.

"The normal transition in people ... means (it) is pretty much a new staff from the one that came back in March, but I would say equally talented," Johnson said. "They bring skills from across the military that they've been applying here, and that's a very healthy thing for the corps to get an infusion of ideas and new blood."

New Soldiers, even key leaders, require us to build new teams whose members learn to know and trust each other, he said.

"While they're individually talented, like any new group we have to come together as a team," Johnson said. "Exercises like the one in Korea are the kinds of things that galvanize everyone together, because you have a common goal, a focused goal, to apply your skills against and learn from each other. Our participation in this exercise is very much a part of bringing that new group of talented individuals together as a team."

The new staff will turn from the counterinsurgency fight of the past seven years to more traditional full-spectrum operations. As Operation Iraqi Freedom winds down, I Corps will reaffirm its commitments and re-establish its international partnerships.

"The corps has been focused very heavily on the Pacific in the past," Johnson said. "We haven't been for the past couple years for obvious reasons. It's exciting to refocus in that area. The Korean people are great and they've got a great and professional military. The chance to stand side by side with them and plan and discuss war fighting is something we're all really looking forward to."

Johnson's experience in the region, having taken part in previous Ulchi Focus Lens exercises as deputy commanding general of 2nd Infantry Division, helped him establish meaningful objectives for the corps during senior-leader coordination meetings. He called this year's pre-exercise discussions the most detailed he had seen.

The exercise, Johnson said, provided an ideal chance to combine real-world challenges with corps training objectives for the staff as it shifts from an emphasis on counterinsurgency to full-spectrum operations. Beyond the normal work of learning how to integrate military decision-making models into corps staff processes and give its members experience working in a field environment, Johnson said one of the biggest benefits will be an objective evaluation of the staff.

"We'll come away from this with a great assessment of where we stand, what our strengths and weaknesses are, which will inform our training program for the future," Johnson said.

America's Corps completed its yearlong deployment to Southwest Asia as Multi-National Corps-Iraq five months ago. As with military organizations at all levels, staff members including the primaries, transitioned to new positions. New senior staff leaders will assist the commanding general in modifying the direction of the organization.

With the arrival of Brig. Gen. Lloyd Miles as deputy commanding general and Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay, the I Corps chief of staff, the training benefits of UFG-10 extend to the highest level.

"This will be the first opportunity I've had to train tactically as a corps commander and it will be the first opportunity they have as deputy corps commanders to train in their new roles," Johnson said. "By the time we come out on the far side of this exercise, we're much better informed on how best to do our jobs as leaders."

Current events have dictated a high seriousness to this year's Korean command-post exercise. A transition in North Korean leadership, the international community's strong suspicion that a North Korean torpedo sank South Korea's 1,500-ton ship, the Cheonan, March 26 with 104 sailors aboard, and more than the usual saber rattling by the enigmatic country have contributed to what Johnson said was a new level of detail in preparations. The roles of the Republic of Korea military and government have also been fine-tuned.

Johnson said he is confident that I Corps will bring its experience in Iraq to the new theater.

"I think the trick is retaining much of (what) we've learned over the past years of the war, specifically in our role as Multi-National Corps-Iraq," he said, "while making room for and improving on those skills you need when you're faced with an enemy in a theater like Korea."

The exercise has been held annually for 34 years. Until 2008, it was known as Ulchi Focus Lens.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Second Live Tracking Exercise For Ballistic Missile Defense Completed

Second Live Tracking Exercise For Ballistic Missile Defense Completed: "Lockheed Martin successfully identified and tracked four live targets during a test of its Multi-Mission Signal Processor (MMSP) being fielded as part of the Aegis next-generation Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capability.
The MMSP is part of the Navy's Advanced Capability Build 12 system, intended to help combine next-generation Aegis BMD and anti-air warfare (AAW) capabilities in an open combat system architecture.

"This is our second demonstration of the MMSP capability, and both have successfully shown its abilities to detect and track targets," said Allan Croly, director, Naval Radar Programs, for Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Sensors business unit. "MMSP allows our customers to track threats that would have gone undetected with lesser capabilities."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Military Computer Attack Confirmed - NYTimes.com

Military Computer Attack Confirmed - NYTimes.com: "A top Pentagon official has confirmed a previously classified incident that he describes as “the most significant breach of U.S. military computers ever,” a 2008 episode in which a foreign intelligence agent used a flash drive to infect computers, including those used by the Central Command in overseeing combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Plugging the cigarette-lighter-sized flash drive into an American military laptop at a base in the Middle East amounted to “a digital beachhead, from which data could be transferred to servers under foreign control,” according to William J. Lynn 3d, deputy secretary of defense, writing in the latest issue of the journal Foreign Affairs.
“It was a network administrator’s worst fear: a rogue program operating silently, poised to deliver operational plans into the hands of an unknown adversary,” Mr. Lynn wrote."

Advise and Assist Brigade: A familiar unit with a new mission in Iraq

Advise and Assist Brigade: A familiar unit with a new mission in Iraq: The U.S. Army has seen significant technological, doctrinal and structural changes within the past decade.

The latest adaptation, turning brigade combat teams into advise and assist brigades, or AABs, reflects tremendous developments in the Iraqi Security Forces and a major change in emphasis for U.S. Soldiers in Iraq.

The role of the AABs is much how it sounds: advising ISF locally and nationally, providing them a logistical safety net, and assisting with governmental and private initiatives through mentorship and funding.

This requires the AAB to work closely with Iraqi leadership and the U.S. State Department's Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

As the ISF have taken up the responsibility of securing their country, members of Stabilization Transition Teams have been assigned to work directly with ISF leadership at different levels, Bantad said.

These specially-trained advisors are similar to the Military Transition and Border Transition Teams of the past but are organic to the brigades.

It may sound like a small change, but Capt. Michael Washburn, Alpha Company commander for 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd AAB, 3rd Infantry Division, who worked as a member of a BTT in 2005, said the impact has been noticeable.

"What I experienced on the BT Team prior to it coming down to a brigade level was that, since we had no unit we really fell under, getting the materials, personnel and the support we needed to do our job effectively just wasn't there," said the Yorktown, Va., native.

"Now, you have a team or teams that can do direct coordination for support when it comes to equipment and personnel to get the job done," he said.

In his current role advising the Iraqi Army's 2nd Battalion, 31st Brigade, Washburn has a front-row seat to changes in the ISF.

"We're doing a lot of joint patrols, to keep that partnership, but they're doing a lot more patrols on their own, which is a sign of them being able to run their area of operation without [U.S.] support." he said.

Capt. Matt Hunter, commander of Company C, 2nd Bnattalion, 69th Armor Regiment, is on his third Iraq deployment.

"We've really been able to step back and allow the IA to take the lead," he said. "From where they were in 2005 to where they are now is leaps and bounds ahead. Our 'advise and assist' is really just checking in with them and making sure that they have all the support they need to conduct the operations."

"They've gotten that system down where they train their own and they're very competent and independent, and they've got a lot more pride in themselves as an organization," Hunter said. "As Iraqi Army units, they're very proud of what they do."

Col. Pete Jones, commander of 3/3 AAB, said the development of the ISF has been key to the transition.

"The Iraqi Security Forces have truly taken the lead, demonstrated by the national elections and religious holidays, and most recently Sha'baniya, where they provided security for over three million religious pilgrims to Karbala," he said.

Training the ISF is not the entire picture. AABs also assist Provincial Reconstruction Teams with their efforts to improve Iraq.

In the past, PRTs worked with U.S. Army civil affairs units and had little direct contact with brigades, said Bob Wong, the public diplomacy officer for the Babil PRT.

Wong works directly with the 3/3 AAB, which is responsible for operations in Babil and four neighboring provinces.

"The company commanders I've met, they're intuitively people-persons," Wong said. "They seem to understand, intuitively, what they're trying to do, which is basically talk to the leadership, listen to the leadership."

Lt. Col. Greg Politowicz, deputy team leader for the Babil PRT, has spent the past seven years in Army civil affairs and has previously deployed to Iraq in that capacity.

"They, in my opinion, put the good, smart people in there and trained them well, so that when I go out to any one of the different [Areas of Operation] within the brigade, within the battalion, I find that the captains, lieutenants, sergeants and so forth are working very well and smart," said the Fayetville, N.C., native. "They know what to do; they've been educated."

"It's civil affairs teams out there, except they happen to be called 'companies' and 'AAB,'" he said.

3/3 AAB was one of the first AABs in Iraq. Preparing their combat arms Soldiers to operate in civil affairs started while training for the deployment at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.

The training center mimicked Iraq as much as possible, down to the bases they lived in, said Maj. Gary Bantad, the 3/3 AAB civil affairs officer, a Virginia Beach, Va., native.

As part of the rotation, the brigade visited villages with simulated civilians, met with "provincial councils," worked with U.S. State Department officers acting as a PRT, and simulated paying for and managing projects, he said.

The Iraqi people have confidence in Iraq's future, said Tanya Thompson, team leader for the Human Terrain Assessment Team in Babil, which is responsible for gauging the public's attitude on issues.

"The response was pretty unanimous that they feel that security has increased under the Advise and Assist Brigade, rather than under combat operations," said the Saddle Brook, N.J., native. "All the way up and down, I think that the feeling is that they're really ready to take over; they're ready for us to go."

Army Crafts Tailorable Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Acquisition Strategy

Army Crafts Tailorable Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Acquisition Strategy: "The U.S. Army has released its tactical wheeled vehicle acquisition strategy report to Congress, calling for a tailorable approach to vehicle procurement to include new buys and repair, sustainment and recapitalization of the existing fleet.
The acquisition strategy lays out a roadmap for tactical wheeled vehicles, including the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicles from 2010 through 2025.

"The acquisition objective is to have the ability to adapt to change and mitigate the risk of uncertainty caused by an evolving threat," said Tim Goddette, director, Combat Sustainment Systems.

"The challenge is finding the balance between an unconstrained requirements process and a constrained resource process that promotes stability and efficiencies."

Overall, the report takes up plans for the 260,000 TWVs in the Army inventory, representing an initial procurement investment of $50 billion.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

AFRL conducts second successful robot refueler test

AFRL conducts second successful robot refueler test: The test of a robotic refueling system by researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory's Materials and Manufacturing Directorate in late July 2010 marks the second successful test of technology that could dramatically change the way the United States military services its aircraft.

The prototype device connects a single-point refueling nozzle to a mock-up based on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, although program officials say they are not currently developing anything for a specific platform.

"With modifications to this technology, the system will work on many other aircraft, including fighters, tankers, cargo aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles," said Dr. Mike Sawyer, contractor with the AFRL Robotics Research Team.

The system will provide a feasible alternative to manual refueling, reducing the number of people needed near each aircraft during 'hot-pit refueling,' improving safety and efficiency, he said. In hot-pit refueling one or more of the engines are operating.

A crew chief will marshal the aircraft and oversee the refueling operation, but an operator at an Operational Control Unit will run the actual refueling and may be several hundred feet away from the aircraft. Video and data links will guide the robot and its operator. In the future, the system may be adapted to allow crews to operate in a closed environment while protected from possible chemical or biological risks, without mission-oriented protective posture gear.

While aircraft ground refueling equipment has improved, this is still a manual process that involves personnel handling the fuel supply hose or pantograph, attaching, and then detaching it. A fueling pantograph is a movable pipeline with rotating elbows. Some are mounted on wheels.

Researchers in AFRL's Airbase Technologies Division, Robotics Research Team at Tyndall AFB, received a request from the Air Education and Training Command and the Air Force Petroleum Agency to develop an automated system to refuel aircraft while on the ground.

Vision and proximity sensors observe the aircraft's location, and a guidance system aligns the robot with the fuel door. The robot opens the fuel door, attaches itself to the single point refueling adapter, and begins refueling. A fuels operator will observe and confirm the robot's actions throughout the process. Currently, the prototype performs dry runs, but in a fully functional AAGR system, a fuel hose or piping will attach the robot to a fuel hydrant.

The Robotics Team first successfully demonstrated the AAGR prototype in April 2010 and followed that with a second successful test in July. The prototype robot has a manipulator arm mounted on a low-profile, wheel-drive platform vehicle. A 30-foot metal truss connects the vehicle to a pivot point on the ground. As each experiment started, the vehicle drove to the mock-up of the F-35 maintenance interface panel, following a 90-degree arc on the ground.

The robot used a camera and a laser range finder to determine the aircraft panel's orientation and to re-orient itself accordingly. A specially designed tool then opened the panel door. A separate arm held the door open while the robot switched to a second tool built from a commercially available fuel nozzle. The robot attached the fuel nozzle to the SPR adapter inside the panel. The nozzle's operating lever/shaft rotated to push the poppet valve and open the flow path. After a pause to simulate fuel flow, the system reversed the steps until the door was closed and latched.

Following these successful demonstrations, researchers will add additional functionality including electrical bonding, checking the fuel status lights, and ensuring software compatibility with Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems. After these upgrades, the system will be prepared for field testing.

New System Developed To Test And Evaluate High-Energy Laser Weapons

New System Developed To Test And Evaluate High-Energy Laser Weapons: "Technologies for using laser energy to destroy threats at a distance have been in development for many years. Today, these technologies known as directed energy weapons are maturing to the point of becoming deployable.
High-energy lasers, one type of directed energy weapon, can be mounted on aircraft to deliver a large amount of energy to a far-away target at the speed of light, resulting in structural and incendiary damage. These lasers can be powerful enough to destroy cruise missiles, artillery projectiles, rockets and mortar rounds.
Before these weapons can be used in the field, the lasers must be tested and evaluated at test ranges. The power and energy distribution of the high-energy laser beam must be accurately measured on a target board, with high spatial and temporal resolution.
Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have developed a system to measure a laser's power and spatial energy distribution simultaneously by directing the laser beam onto a glass target board they designed."

US looks to Iraq strategy for Afghanistan

US looks to Iraq strategy for Afghanistan: "With the withdrawal of the final American combat brigade from Iraq, US commanders in Afghanistan are hoping to emulate a strategy used there as they step up the war against insurgents.
The number of US and NATO soldiers in Afghanistan is set to peak at 150,000 in coming weeks following orders from US President Barack Obama for an extra 30,000 troops, a 'surge' aimed at speeding the end of the war.
Critics say his goal to start drawing down the US presence from mid-2011 is unrealistic, as Afghanistan's security forces are not up to the task of taking charge of the war-torn country."

N.Korea develops camouflage tactics: reports

N.Korea develops camouflage tactics: reports: "North Korea has developed camouflage materials such as stealth paint to hide its warships, tanks or fighter jets from foreign reconnaissance satellites and aircraft, reports said Monday.
A confidential field manual used by the communist North's military showed the isolated regime has also built a network of foxholes and caves, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.
The newspaper said the manual quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il as saying: 'Modern warfare is stealth warfare. We can say that victory or defeat will be determined by how we carry out stealth warfare.'"

First Battery Engagement Operations Center For Integrated Air And Missile Defense Battle Command System

First Battery Engagement Operations Center For Integrated Air And Missile Defense Battle Command System: "Northrop Grumman Corporation has delivered the first battery engagement operations center for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) to the U.S. Army. The milestone was celebrated during a ceremony at the company's Madison facility on Wall Triana Highway.
When fully developed, the IBCS battery engagement operations center will enable an Army air defense battery to establish common battle command of air defense assets that are fully integrated with other Army and joint IAMD systems.
The initial system consists of common hardware and software housed in a rigid wall shelter and mounted on a five-ton M1085 Medium Tactical Vehicle, a part of the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles"

Spangdahlem Air Base first active base to test integrated security forces system

Spangdahlem Air Base first active base to test integrated security forces system: SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Spangdahlem Air Base is the testing site for the Joint Force Protection Advanced Security System, an integrated system that marries old and new technology with the intention to make monitoring security and responding to emergencies more efficient.

"JFPASS is a force protection system that fuses, automates and integrates dissimilar technology into a common operational picture," said Joe Fagan, the JFPASS operational manager. "One of the major attributes is it's tailorable, scalable and adjustable to the environment and situation."

The technology, which includes various sensors, cameras, robots and software, was demonstrated to leaders from the 52nd Fighter Wing, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, European Command and NATO. The demonstration included a simulated, controlled force protection scenario and a display of equipment and technology.

Spangdahlem Air Base is the first and only operational Department of Defense installation that has tested this system. It was developed and first used in a controlled environment at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Spangdahlem AB fit the bill as a testing site because of its overseas location, robust mission and medium size, Mr. Fagan said. Spangdahlem AB was first outfitted with equipment in January.

"Our goal is to integrate (JFPASS) with the existing force protection system at a base," Mr. Fagan said. "When you come to an existing base, you have to work with the existing technology and respond to typical day-to-day activity within the normal tempo of the base."

Essentially, the JFPASS team needed security forces Airmen to try out the gadgets and technology on their own to identify possible glitches and gains.

That's why cameras were tuned accordingly to only display activity in particular areas at particular times. Natural, regular motion, such as daytime vehicle traffic and a nocturnal family of foxes, caused motion-detecting and heat-detecting camera pictures to appear more like tennis matches, pinging back and forth between subjects.

"If controllers always see motion, they may start to ignore it," Mr. Fagan said.

The biggest change for 52nd Security Forces Squadron members using the system was the reversal of roles between internal controllers and external patrollers. Controllers typically received information from the patrollers; JFPASS reversed the process by having controllers feed patrollers information.

"As the testing progressed, security forces (Airmen) got more comfortable with it, both the operators and the Airmen in the field," Mr. Fagan said. "The learning curve went up after a few days."

Security forces Airmen provided feedback to JFPASS members on the usage of the equipment and system, which some have used for a few weeks and others a few months.

Several security forces Airmen said they appreciated the cameras and the additional capability they provide, while others disliked the patrol and control swap that occurred.

"Instead of being an active patrol, we turn into a reactive patrol," said Staff Sgt. Kristopher McIntosh, a 52nd SFS controller.

JFPASS will remain here for about another six months for extended use testing, whereby security forces Airmen will continue providing feedback on the usability of the system.

Overall, the JFPASS team said the wing's support was crucial to its ability to accurately assess the system and its capabilities here.

"The hardest thing for any tech demo is there's a constant rotation of people," Mr. Fagan said. "We've been very fortunate to have help from everyone here, including security forces, civil engineers, force support for lodging and the list goes on."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Air base expansion plans reflect long-term investment in Afghanistan

Air base expansion plans reflect long-term investment in Afghanistan: "Three $100 million air base expansions in southern and northern Afghanistan illustrate Pentagon plans to continue building multimillion-dollar facilities in that country to support increased U.S. military operations well into the future.

Despite growing public unhappiness with the Afghan war -- and President Obama's pledge that he will begin withdrawing troops in July 2011 -- many of the installations being built in Afghanistan have extended time horizons. None of the three projects in southern and northern Afghanistan is expected to be completed until the latter half of 2011. All of them are for use by U.S. forces rather than by their Afghan counterparts.

Overall, requests for $1.3 billion in additional fiscal 2011 funds for multiyear construction of military facilities in Afghanistan are pending before Congress. The House has approved the money, as has the Senate Appropriations Committee. The full Senate has yet to vote on the measure.


Friday, August 20, 2010

No rejoicing in Iraq as U.S. combat mission ends - latimes.com

No rejoicing in Iraq as U.S. combat mission ends - latimes.com: "Reporting from Baghdad — Iraqis danced in the streets when U.S. troops withdrew from their cities a little over a year ago. After the last American combat brigade trundled across the border into Kuwait early Thursday, reversing a journey that began more than seven years ago, there was no rejoicing.

Instead, a mood of deep apprehension tinged with bitterness is taking hold as Iraqis digest the reality that the American invaders whom they once feared would stay forever are in fact going home, when their country is in the throes of a deep political crisis that many think could turn increasingly violent."

Gates to DoD Staff: Cooperate With Efficiency Effort - Defense News

Gates to DoD Staff: Cooperate With Efficiency Effort - Defense News: "U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates this week codified the 20 elements of his effort to cut 'excess and duplication' with the publication of a memo detailing his plans, distributed throughout the Pentagon Aug. 16.
The document, which does not list any new elements of Gates' war on excess, officially orders key Pentagon staff to assist in executing the 20 moves aimed at eliminating redundancy, which the secretary described in a widely publicized Aug. 9 speech."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

18-nation maneuvers focus on Panama Canal

18-nation maneuvers focus on Panama Canal: "Military commanders and troops from 18 countries including the United States mounted extensive naval exercises focused on defending the Panama Canal against terrorist activity that could threaten maritime traffic.
In what defense industry analysts saw as a potential major opportunity to showcase the latest innovations in maritime security, more than 2,000 civilian and military personnel pooled resources for the 12-day exercises that will explore how best to secure the Panama Canal. The waterway currently handles about 5 percent of global trade.
Defense industry manufacturers are pinning hopes on new contracts in Central and South America and Asia amid drastic cutbacks in spending in Europe. U.S. defense manufacturers, including those not already contracted to the U.S. military, are in the lead alongside European and Asian competitors looking for new business in the region."

Next U.S. Steps in Iraq Focused on North - Defense News

Next U.S. Steps in Iraq Focused on North - Defense News: "U.S. military forces will begin a four-part mission in Iraq next month when the U.S. State Department assumes operational lead in the country, with a major focus on Arab-Turkish relations.

American troops will on Sept. 1 formally shift from counterinsurgency operations to stabilization efforts, Pentagon and State Department officials said Aug. 17.

Colin Kahl, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy, said U.S. military forces primarily will focus on four issues after the Defense Department hands over control of American operations in Iraq to the State Department:

■ "Force protection," meaning providing security for State Department and other U.S. officials there, as well as some Iraqis.

■ The continuation of programs to "train, equip and support" Iraqi military and security officials.

■ "Continued partnered counterterrorism missions."

■ Carrying out the remainder of Washington's plans to draw down the 50,000 military troops that will still be in Iraq after Sept. 1.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Judge in Norfolk throws out piracy charge against 6 Somalis | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

Judge in Norfolk throws out piracy charge against 6 Somalis | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com:

RMKS: Next time, they should be charged with terrorism. No need to demonstrate intent of theft.

"A federal judge today threw out the piracy charge against six Somalis accused of attacking the Little Creek-based Ashland, dealing a blow to the government’s attempt to revive a piracy statute that had not been used in nearly 200 years.
The Somalis still face seven other charges in the April 10 attack on the Ashland off the coast of Africa, but the piracy charge carried the harshest penalty – life in prison. They remain accused of firing on the Navy ship.
“The court finds that the government has failed to establish that any unauthorized acts of violence or aggression committed on the high seas constitutes piracy,” U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson says in his ruling."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents - NYTimes.com

Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents - NYTimes.com"In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists.

The White House has intensified the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone missile campaign in Pakistan, approved raids against Qaeda operatives in Somalia and launched clandestine operations from Kenya. The administration has worked with European allies to dismantle terrorist groups in North Africa, efforts that include a recent French strike in Algeria. And the Pentagon tapped a network of private contractors to gather intelligence about things like militant hide-outs in Pakistan and the location of an American soldier currently in Taliban hands.

While the stealth war began in the Bush administration, it has expanded under President Obama, who rose to prominence in part for his early opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Virtually none of the newly aggressive steps undertaken by the United States government have been publicly acknowledged. In contrast with the troop buildup in Afghanistan, which came after months of robust debate, for example, the American military campaign in Yemen began without notice in December and has never been officially confirmed."

Friday, August 13, 2010

News From USJFCOM: Valiant Angel soars at EC 10

News From USJFCOM: Valiant Angel soars at EC 10: "An intelligence system that will allow warfighters to access, retrieve and analyze massive amounts of still imagery and video was tested successfully and vetted, meeting all its objectives at Empire Challenge 10 (EC 10).

Valiant Angel, a program being executed by the U.S. Joint Forces Command’s (USJFCOM) Intelligence Directorate, improves access to, and movement of, large data files, including full-motion video (FMV) and wide-area surveillance (WAS) data across existing networks to warfighters at the tactical edge.

Two Valiant Angel nodes travelled to EC 10, an annual USJFCOM-led multinational intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) demonstration that showcases emerging capabilities and provides lessons learned to improve joint and combined ISR interoperability.

Andrew “AJ” Forysiak, Valiant Angel deputy program manager, said the team successfully accomplished what it set out to do.

“Valiant Angel is serving as the baseline architecture for moving FMV in this demonstration,” Forysiak said. “We’re trying to replicate the environment in theater and share FMV with our coalition partners; Valiant Angel is performing that role.”

According to Forysiak, Valiant Angel is working as advertised.

“We had a series of objectives when we got here, and have gone down the list and met them all,” he said. “We’ve performed better than we had expected. EC 10 analysts are adding metadata to files which in turn makes them easy to sort and discover. Also, all the [forward operating bases (FOB)] are tied into us and we are sharing our data.”

He added that anything producing FMV in EC 10 was ingested by Valiant Angel and pushed out by its web client. This allows access to FMV for disadvantaged users who would have no other way of viewing these feeds.

“An example of this is at the U.K. FOB, U.K. analysts did not have access to the [Base Expeditionary Targeting and Surveillance System – Combined (BETSS-C)] producing FMV at a U.S. FOB. We went on a visit to the U.K. FOB, offered the Valiant Angel web client, and immediately gave them access to this feed,” he said, adding that type of FOB integration has been an important tenet for EC 10. “There’s nothing like walking into a coalition FOB and seeing our Valiant Angel web client providing access to FMV for our coalition partners.”

Coalition interoperability was another objective for the team.

“We had to get EC10 FMV to the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) located at The Hague (in the Netherlands),” Forysiak said. “We successfully sent FMV to (them) and in turn received FMV streams back, thus making NATO FMV available to the EC10 player audience.”

In addition to moving FMV around for the player audience, Forysiak said all Valiant Angel products generated from FMV were sent to the Distributed Common Ground System Integrated Backbone (DIB), and the DIBs could all view information called metadata embedded in the FMV.

“It’s all about the metadata,” added Forysiak. “Other FMV dissemination systems strip out the metadata, which makes it easy to move around. We not only preserve the metadata, but actually enhance it. This allows analysts the opportunity to easily search through the large volumes of collected FMV, which cuts down on the time needed to find what they need to accomplish their mission.”

Other challenges involved the sheer number of sensor feeds being collected and sent out.

“EC 10 has been a challenge – it’s not called Empire ‘Easy’. There’s been a wide range of sensors collecting FMV, everything from cameras on a stick to aerostats to unmanned and manned aerial vehicles,” he said. “Some of these sensors and formats we’ve never been exposed to before and we’ve had to change on the fly and meet these challenges. Overall, I think we’ve done a fantastic job.”

Gates Urges Congress to Avoid `Mistake' of Harmful Cuts in Military Budget - Bloomberg

Gates Urges Congress to Avoid `Mistake' of Harmful Cuts in Military Budget - Bloomberg: "Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged Congress to avoid repeating what he called “the same mistake” made by earlier officials who slashed military spending too deeply in the face of mounting federal debt.

Defense funding has dropped after periods of conflict four times in the past 100 years, gutting national security institutions, Gates told an audience at the Marines’ Memorial Club in San Francisco yesterday. The Sept. 11 attacks forced the U.S. to reverse post-Cold War spending cuts to re-arm and improve intelligence capabilities.

“It will be critically important to sustain those capabilities in the future,” Gates said. “Yet in the coming years, the pressure will undoubtedly be great to repeat that mistake and to reduce our spending on defense.”

Gates is betting he can ward off debilitating defense cuts with reminders of past setbacks and by demanding frugal habits to save $100 billion over five years. He announced the latest belt-tightening this week, proposing to slash spending on contractors and shutter one of the military’s 10 combatant commands.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vietnam-U.S. joint exercises start

Vietnam-U.S. joint exercises start: "The United States and Vietnam began controversial naval exercises amid smiling photo opportunities between sailors but also mounting Chinese concern over its ocean territorial claims.
The guided missile carrier USS McCain and the aircraft carrier USS George Washington are taking part in the non-combat training exercises in the South China Sea.
The exercises celebrate 15 years of diplomatic ties between the former enemies after aggressions ended in 1975 when the communists over ran the South Vietnamese capital Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City."

Army approves safer explosive to replace TNT

Army approves safer explosive to replace TNT: "The U.S. Army recently qualified a new explosive that has the same lethality as traditional TNT, but is far less likely to explode if dropped, shot at or hit by a roadside bomb during transport.

The new formula, called IMX-101 (Insensitive Munitions Explosive 101), is scheduled for delivery to deployed Army and Marine Corps units in the form of 1,200 M795 artillery projectiles as early as next year, as TNT supplies are eventually phased out.

Numerous tests by the Picatinny team have proven that IMX-101 is a safer alternative to TNT in the Army and Marine Corps' existing large-caliber projectiles, especially during transportation, storage and loading."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

With JFCOM closure, what then for Odierno? - Stripes Central - Stripes

With JFCOM closure, what then for Odierno? - Stripes Central - Stripes: "With JFCOM walking to the executioner’s gallows, Iraq war commander Gen. Ray Odierno will have about one year in Norfolk before the military needs to find him a new one.
You know what other jobs will need filling around this time next year? The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Army’s chief of staff.
And so the parlor game begins. Gen. Ray Odierno has given a lot of years in Iraq, far away from home, away from his family, and many expected he would get a plum job when he returned to the States. U.S. Joint Forces Command was that cushy assignment; a much lower-stressed post in beautiful coastal Virginia, not that far from Washington, DC.
Now it seems Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will keep Odierno even closer to heel.
“I expect that it will take about a year to carry out this change, and I've told Ray that his assignment at JFCOM is essentially the same...as his assignment in Iraq, and that is to work himself out of a job,' said Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on Monday. 'And then I'll find a new and better one for him.”"

Fears of al–Qaida return in Iraq as US–backed fighters defect | World news | The Guardian

Fears of al–Qaida return in Iraq as US–backed fighters defect | World news | The Guardian: "Al-Qaida is attempting to make a comeback in Iraq by enticing scores of former Sunni allies to rejoin the terrorist group by paying them more than the monthly salary they currently receive from the government, two key US-backed militia leaders have told the Guardian.
They said al-Qaida leaders were exploiting the imminent departure of US fighting troops to ramp up a membership drive, in an attempt to show that they are still a powerful force in the country after seven years of war.
Al-Qaida is also thought to be moving to take advantage of a power vacuum created by continuing political instability in Iraq, which remains without a functional government more than five months after a general election.
Sheikh Sabah al-Janabi, a leader of the Awakening Council – also known as the Sons of Iraq – based in Hila, 60 miles south of Baghdad, told the Guardian that 100 out of 1,800 rank-and-file members had not collected their salaries for the last two months: a clear sign, he believes, that they are now taking money from their former enemies."

News Analysis - U.S. and Iraqi Interests May Work Against Pullout - NYTimes.com

News Analysis - U.S. and Iraqi Interests May Work Against Pullout - NYTimes.com: "In a recent speech President Obama took credit for delivering on his promise to end the official combat mission on schedule, and vowed to meet America’s next deadline of moving all American forces off Iraqi soil by the end of 2011. “As agreed to with the Iraqi government, we will maintain a transitional force until we remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of next year,” the president said.

The reality in Iraq may defy that deadline, because many American and Iraqi officials deem the American presence to be in each nation’s interest.

“For a very long period of time we’re going to be on the ground, even if it’s solely in support of its U.S. weapons systems,” said Ryan C. Crocker, who was the American ambassador in Baghdad until 2009 and helped to negotiate the agreement that tethers the two countries and mandates that all American troops leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

Even as that deadline was negotiated, he said, a longer-lasting, though significantly smaller, presence of American forces had always been considered to be likely."

U.S., Iraqi leaders bid farewell to last American combat brigade

U.S., Iraqi leaders bid farewell to last American combat brigade: "FORWARD OPERATING BASE CONSTITUTION, Iraq (Army News Service, Aug. 10, 2010) -- Two Iraqi and three American Soldiers marched crisply across a parade field here to a display where their unit colors and their nations' flags flew in the wind.

The U.S. Soldiers, members of the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division "Raiders," knelt and removed the American flags from the display. After executing a left face, the detail marched off the field from the direction they came, with the 6th Iraqi Army Division and Iraqi Flag remaining on the field.

Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of United States Forces -- Iraq, Abdel Qader Jassim, Iraqi Minister of Defense and other senior American and Iraqi leaders watched the event.

This gesture -- symbolizing the departure of the Raider Brigade and the commitment of Iraqi Security Forces to the people of Iraq -- brought the Soldiers of the unit one step closer to the end of their year-long deployment as the last combat brigade to depart Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

By Aug. 31, all U.S. combat missions in Iraq will end, and the 50,000 U.S. troops remaining in country under "Operation New Dawn" will move toward stability operations, advising, training and assisting the ISF in building civil capacity in Iraq.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

USS Porter Sets Sail for the Arctic and the Future

USS Porter Sets Sail for the Arctic and the Future: "In response to an invitation from the Canadian government, USS Porter (DDG-78) and a Navy P-3 maritime patrol aircraft are headed north to join the Canadian navy in its annual Arctic military exercise, Operation Natsiq.

U.S. Coast Guard and Danish naval assets are also joining the exercise.

"This is a clear indication of the spirit of cooperation that exists between Arctic nations," said Rea Adm. David Titley, Oceanographer of the Navy and director of Task Force Climate Change.

Several high-level policy documents have prompted U.S. Navy interest in the Arctic, including the National Arctic Policy (National Security Presidential Directive-66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive-25), which states that the U.S. has "broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic region."
The need for a naval presence in the Arctic is further supported by the nation's Maritime Strategy, the Congressionally-mandated Quadrennial Defense Review, and the Navy's Arctic Roadmap, released last November.

"Some people forget that the Arctic is largely ocean," said Capt. Tim Gallaudet, deputy director of the Task Force. "The Navy has the same responsibilities there as in any other maritime domain."

"After years of record decreases in both ice coverage and ice thickness, it is clear that the Arctic Ocean is becoming more accessible to human activity," said Titley. He mentioned that the two primary sea lanes around the Arctic, the Northwest Passage (along the Canadian and Alaskan coasts) and Northeast Passage (along the Russian coast) were both navigable in 2008 for the first time in recorded history.

Sea routes across the pole can save thousands of miles of transit time with significant fuel savings, and will become an increasingly attractive option for commercial shipping. The open water also allows access to massive oil, gas, and mineral reserves in the sea bed.

"During the second half of this century the Bering Strait could take on strategic significance for oil shipping, like the Strait of Hormuz, as well as for general trade, like the Strait of Malacca," Titley noted.

Despite the melting sea ice, shrinking ice fields, and increased temperatures, the Arctic remains a very challenging environment.

"The Arctic thaws in late summer, but freezes over again every winter, and we think that will continue throughout this century," said Gallaudet. "An increasing number of climate scientists predict that we will likely see the Arctic Ocean basically ice-free for several weeks each year as soon as 20 to 30 years froms now."

This buys the Navy some time to prepare. The Arctic Roadmap recommends increased training missions in the high latitudes to prepare for probable future mission requirements. This will build a cadre of sailors experienced in polar waters, and help determine operational shortfalls.

"The Arctic environment can be very challenging for surface ships," Gallaudet noted. "Aside from the threat of drifting icebergs, surface ships must worry about freezing spray covering exposed weapons and sensors and changing the stability of the ship, proper foul weather gear for the crew, challenged communications, and the lack of logistics, medical support, and search and rescue assets in such a remote part of the world," he said.

Operation Natsiq will give the crew of USS Porter an opportunity to get some experience in the far north, and help mission planners determine what future polar operations will require. It will also help build essential relations with some of our Arctic partners.

"Partnerships will help us prepare for these new challenges more effectively and with less cost," Titley said. "That includes partnerships with federal agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA, and also with other nations."

"In the Arctic," he added, "harsh environmental conditions are a common enemy."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

No further delay for U.S. Air Force tanker

No further delay for U.S. Air Force tanker: "The U.S. Air Force won't further delay the award date for its $40 billion air tanker contract, a U.S. official said.
Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff, said he would be 'very, very surprised' if the contract award date would be postponed beyond the current mid-November deadline, Defensenews.com reports.
'We're going to come in when we say we are,' Schwartz said."

Karzai Targets Two U.S.-Backed Task Forces - WSJ.com

Karzai Targets Two U.S.-Backed Task Forces - WSJ.com: "Afghan President Hamid Karzai stepped up tensions with the U.S. on Wednesday by asserting control over two American-backed anticorruption task forces, ordering a handpicked committee to review all their investigations.
U.S. officials see Mr. Karzai's decision as a way for the Afghan president to limit the inquiries that may touch his inner circle.
A senior U.S. official described the move, which followed last week's arrest of a senior presidential aide on corruption charges, as 'a huge blow' to U.S.-backed efforts to clean up corruption in Afghanistan.
'What they're trying to do, what they're saying to us is: 'We don't care what you think. We've had enough,' ' the official said.
U.S. officials say they are worried that members of both units may be in grave danger and are moving to try to protect them as best they can."

LandWarNet opens with 4 keys to Internet security

LandWarNet opens with 4 keys to Internet security: "Protection of the nation's computer networks requires focus on four key areas, said the director of the National Security Agency.

During the first day of the 2010 Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's "LandWarNet" conference, Aug. 3, in Tampa, Fla., Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander, U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, discussed both threats to the DOD computer network and suggestions on how to secure it.

Dynamic protection of the network, the general said, involves a four-pronged approach to protecting a network with as many as 7 million attached computers.

1: Hunt for malicious ware

First among those aspects, he said, is defending the network in the same way the Army might protect an area of land it has captured on the ground.

"Inside our networks, just like we would do in physical combat, we have to have folks that are hunting inside our networks," he said. "Give the system administrators, our network operators, weapons to hunt inside our networks for malicious software and malicious actors, to destroy them."

2: Protect network borders

At the edges of the network, where users interface with network capabilities, there needs to be systems in places that can provide real-time notification of malicious activity to those that are charged with protecting it, he said.

"We have to have an interactive device at the boundary," he said. "And that interactive device capability has to be able to talk to those network hunters inside our network and our foreign intelligence capabilities and law enforcement and others outside our network."

3: Partner with stakeholders

Also key to protecting the network, he said, is to have strong partnerships with stakeholders in the network. That includes allies and other government agencies.

"We have to, with our allies, be able to see what is going on with the global network so we can provide real-time indications and warning to our defensive capabilities."

4: Establish ROE

Finally, he said, those protecting the network need to be able to defend it when threats arise. That means they are equipped with rules of engagement to allow them to know what they are allowed to do, both defensively and offensively, without having to endure costly efforts to propose plans for defense and to seek approval for actions they should take.

"We have to have offensive capabilities, to, in real time, shut down somebody trying to attack us," he said. "You need autonomous decision logic that's based on the rule of law, the legal framework, to let network defenders know what they are allowed to do in the network's defense."

The general spoke to what was claimed as a record audience of attendees at this year's LandWarnet conference. An estimated 9,000 Soldiers and information technology experts from the private sector are in attendance at the three-day event.

Know the threat

The general spoke at length about the threats to military networks. He said the threat environment today affects more than 7million computers on more than 1,500 individual DOD networks.

"On any given day, our networks are probed over 250,000 times an hour," he said. That comes to about six million times a day. Additionally, over 140 foreign intelligence organizations are actively attempting to penetrate U.S. computer networks. And according to a figure by the network security company, Symantec, the cost of cybercrimes have exceeded $1 trillion, he added.

Threats to the network have evolved, he said, from exploitative threats, to disruptive threats, to destructive threats.

Using networks to take money or information, for instance, is exploitative. To deny service to networks is disruptive. In 2007, for instance, the national networks in Estonia were nearly shut down by distributed denial of service attacks, suspected to be the doing of unhappy Estonians of Russian descent voicing outrage at the removal of a bronze statue of a World War II Soviet soldier.

Destructive threats evolving

It is destructive attacks against networks, said Alexander, that have him concerned the most.

"It's only a small step to go from disrupting to destroying parts of the network," he said. "If you think about our nation, our financial systems, our power grids -- all of that resides on the network. Our government, our defense department, our intelligence community, all reside on the network. All of them are vulnerable to an attack like that. Shutting down that network would cripple our financial system."

'Logic bombs'

One such destructive threat he warned of, and asked industry for assistance on, is the potential of "kill switches" in computer hardware.

"Hardware kill switches in many of these computers are now something that anybody could put in," he said. "It's very difficult to detect. Those kill switches, or logic bombs in your network, are some of the things that we are going to have to figure out for the Defense Department, our government."

In systems the military buys from contractors, for instance, there are sometimes hundreds or thousands of microchips. Those chips are now often built by third-party manufacturers. It is difficult for the military or even for contractors who build systems, to determine everything such a microchip can do. It is possible, for example, for such a microchip to be built with backdoor logic that can cause it to fail at a specific time -- a kill switch -- which ultimately affects the system it resides in.

Edge-to-edge visibility

Visibility of the entire network is also a problem. Today, Alexander said, the DOD cannot see the entire network. It is not enough, he said, to know there's antivirus software residing on the end-user's computer system -- at its best, antivirus and other methods in place today can only provide about 80 percent protection.

"What are you going to do for the rest of that, where adversaries are operating," he asked. "If you can't see them all, how do you react to somebody that's trying to get into one of them? How do you know where they are? We don't have situational awareness of our networks -- real time, situational awareness, and the ability to take action."

What is critical, he said, is that the entire network is visible to monitor what is going on and where. The DOD needs a common operating environment to create a baseline of what is normal, he said, to get that edge-to-edge visibility.

U.S. must take lead

Alexander also said that it was the United States that invented the Internet, and that the United States must lead the charge to protect it.

"How are we going to operate and defend that Internet," he asked. "We're the folks that started it, we ought to get down to securing it."

Securing the Internet, he said, requires great minds. It also requires a partnership, within government, to include the Department of Defense, the intelligence community and the Department of Homeland Security, for instance. It also requires partnerships with America's allies, and with industry.

"We need to leverage our technical dominance in this area," he said.

Training surge at Graf to prep forces for Afghanistan

Training surge at Graf to prep forces for Afghanistan: "August marks the beginning of a three-month surge in training at the Joint Multinational Training Command's Grafenwoehr Training Area and Hohenfels Training Area in eastern Bavaria.

The training includes tactics for Counter-Improvised Explosive Device, International Security Assistance Force training, and full-spectrum operations, as well as small-arms qualifications, vehicle gunnery, and live-fire exercises.

Rotational exercises are scheduled to bring the 170th Infantry Heavy Brigade Combat Team, the 15th and 54th Engineer Battalions, and soldiers of multiple NATO countries to the training areas, which will prepare them for missions in Afghanistan.

"The training in August is a surge because of the confluence of small exercises that came together to create a larger exercise," said Maj. Kevin Broadnax, G3 (Training) plans officer, at the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwoehr, Germany. "We are using all of the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas to support the training."

Hohenfels Training Area is the home of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. During a typical training scenario a brigade headquarters is at Hohenfels, or HTA, long-known as the Army's premier maneuver training site in Europe.

Units train at HTA, while subordinate units are dispersed throughout Grafenwoehr Training Area, or GTA, well-known for its vast live-fire capabilities, or various other training areas in the region.

"Instrumentation towers at Grafenwoehr allow Soldiers to operate over much larger areas, replicating closer-to-reality distances for commanders and their staffs," said Dan Hoeh, director of instrumentation, training analysis, computer simulations and support at JMRC. "The hardware and antennas at Grafenwoehr are integrated into the JMRC, and provide the commander of the Operations Group and his senior trainers situational awareness of the two separate training areas."

Soldiers move from one training area to the other, and are monitored at all times. The infrastructure allows the operations group to collect more training-feedback, data, execute better command and control, and provide better feedback to the training unit commanders and Soldiers, said Hoeh.

"The training prepares the units for deployment. We've requested observer/controller augmentation and enabler support from other units in U.S. Army Europe to execute the rotation," Broadnax said. "We have multinational forces either training with U.S Soldiers, or supporting the rotational training units."

Soldiers from the Republic of Georgia are participating in a mission-rehearsal exercise this month. Likewise, during OMLT XVI, NATO is planning for training with U.S., French, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, Spanish, Slovakian, Slovenian, Finnish, Polish, British, German, & Afghan participation.

Currently, on-going mission support to the International Security Assistance Force involves Soldiers from about 44 different troop-contributing nations, known as TCNs. The JMTC provides training to 39 of 44 TCNs.

The multinational participation replicates the current operating environment in Afghanistan.

"NATO sends their Soldiers here to train. It's a readiness exercise," said Capt. Ron Gevry. "They don't have a dedicated opposing force, instrumentation and training aids to improve their capacity, and they get immediate-feedback on their staff processes."

Colombia U.S. bases up for court review

Colombia U.S. bases up for court review: "The U.S. forces' use of military bases in Colombia in the war on gangs supplying narcotics to North America is under scrutiny in the country's Constitutional Court ahead of the Saturday's inauguration of Juan Manuel Santos as Colombian president.
Outgoing President Alvaro Uribe signed the agreement last year despite opposition criticism and fiercer condemnation from populist neighbors like Venezuela, who saw the military pact as a preparation for war, a charge dismissed by both U.S. and Colombian officials.
Critics say the pact remains controversial and must be reviewed by the new Santos presidency and probably revised so much as to bar U.S. forces from using the Colombian military bases. One counter-criticism is that the joint Colombian-U.S. military cooperation to fight the drug overlords is a product of the South and Central American states' failure to stem the outflow of narcotics to North America and beyond."

Petraeus issues new rules to avoid civilian casualties

Petraeus issues new rules to avoid civilian casualties: "General David Petraeus has issued new rules to troops in Afghanistan telling them to 'redouble' efforts to avoid civilian deaths, seen as a crucial issue in winning the increasingly unpopular war.
The head of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan told commanders he believed the counter-insurgency strategy was bearing fruit but warned that any civilian casualties risked losing the battle to win Afghan hearts and minds.
'We must continue -- indeed, redouble -- our efforts to reduce the loss of innocent civilian life to an absolute minimum. Every Afghan civilian death diminishes our cause,' he said in the directive released by NATO on Wednesday.
'If we use excessive force or operate contrary to our counter-insurgency principles, tactical victories may prove to be strategic setbacks,' he said in the directive, which replaces rules issued to troops in July 2009."

NORAD, Russia To Conduct First-Ever Joint Air Defense Drills

NORAD, Russia To Conduct First-Ever Joint Air Defense Drills: "The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Russian Air Force will hold their first-ever joint air defense exercise on August 8-11, NORAD said.
The exercise, dubbed VIGILANT EAGLE, involves Russian, Canadian and U.S. Air Force personnel operating from command centers at the Elmendorf airbase in Alaska, and in Khabarovsk, Russia.
'Airborne warning and control aircraft [AWACS E-3B and A-50] from Russia and the United States will be involved along with fighter-interceptor aircraft and refueling aircraft from both countries,' NORAD said in a statement on Tuesday."

NATO unveils new division to tackle 'emerging' threats

NATO unveils new division to tackle 'emerging' threats: "NATO announced on Wednesday the creation of a new division focused on 'non-traditional' challenges to international security including threats to information and energy powerbases.
Citing a 'growing range of non-traditional risks and challenges,' the Emerging Security Challenges Division (ESCD) will address 'terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cyber defence, and energy security,' a statement said."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

State Of Israel And US Sign Upper-Tier Missile Defense Agreement

State Of Israel And US Sign Upper-Tier Missile Defense Agreement: "The Ministry of Defense of the State of Israel and the United States Department of Defense have co-signed an agreement to cooperatively develop a high-altitude Arrow-3 interceptor and to integrate it with Israel's missile defense systems.
This new Upper-Tier Project Agreement will give Israel the capability to engage ballistic missile threats at maximum range, and the ability to intercept weapons of mass destruction outside the earth's atmosphere."

US to activate missile shield over southern Europe: report

US to activate missile shield over southern Europe: report: "The United States is close to activating a missile shield over southern Europe as part of its effort to shore up regional defenses in the face of a missile threat from Iran, The Washington Post reported late Saturday.
Citing unnamed Pentagon officials, the newspaper said the US Defense Department is nearing a deal to establish a key radar ground station probably in Turkey or Bulgaria.
Installation of the high-powered X-band radar would enable the first phase of the shield to become operational next year, the report said."

US to activate missile shield over southern Europe: report

US to activate missile shield over southern Europe: report: "The Czech Republic is prepared to host a missile warning centre funded by the United States and incorporated into a NATO missile defence system, Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said Friday.

"There is a plan to grant two million dollars in 2011-12 for the creation of a central shared early warning system, in the budget debate in the two houses of (US) Congress," he said during a press briefing in Prague.

Necas said at issue was a "technical-administrative" centre aimed at "detecting the launch of missiles against the territory of the Atlantic alliance."

"Right now, it is a bilateral issue, but it is assumed that this system will be part of NATO's missile defence," the head of the Czech government said.

Necas said it is likely that the centre could be located "in Prague or surrounding areas", but that "details will be negotiated later."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Russia's Defense Spending To Rise By 60% By 2013

Russia's Defense Spending To Rise By 60% By 2013:

An interesting report, and a marked contrast to US military budget austerity plans at a time when both major near-peer rivals are building up their armed forces.

"Russian defense spending will increase by 60 percent, to more than 2 trillion rubles ($66.3 million) by 2013 from 1.264 trillion ($42 million) in 2010, a leading Russian business daily has said.
The Russian government made the relevant decision during a meeting on Thursday. The largest growth is planned for 2013, when the figure will rise by 0.5 trillion rubles ($16.6 million), Vedomosti reported.
Konstantin Makiyenko from the Russian Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) told the paper that the government is likely to spend more on the Navy, as well as the aviation and space industries."

Elite US cyber team courts hackers to fight terrorists

Elite US cyber team courts hackers to fight terrorists: "An elite US cyber team that has stealthily tracked Internet villains for more than a decade pulled back its cloak of secrecy to recruit hackers at a DefCon gathering here Sunday.
Vigilant was described by its chief Chet Uber as a sort of cyber 'A-Team' taking on terrorists, drug cartels, mobsters and other enemies on the Internet.
'We do things the government can't,' Uber said. 'This was never supposed to have been a public thing.'
Vigilant is an alliance of slightly more than 600 volunteers and its secret ranks reportedly include chiefs of technology at top firms and former high"

Monday, August 2, 2010

RIMPAC 2010 Officially Concludes as Ships Return to Pearl Harbor

RIMPAC 2010 Officially Concludes as Ships Return to Pearl Harbor: Top military leaders from 14 partner nations held a press conference at Merry Point Landing on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) July 30, officially marking the end of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010 exercise.

A total of 32 ships and five submarines from seven nations returned to JBPHH July 30-31 after successfully completing the exercise.

"RIMPAC has clearly achieved everything we set it up to do," said Vice Adm. Richard Hunt, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet and commander, Combined Task Force. "We all met our training objectives and in doing so, as an international force, we have increased our interoperability, built upon our solid relationships, and improved the readiness, capability and capacity of the Pacific maritime forces."

The U.S. Pacific Fleet-event commenced June 23 in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands, involving more than 20,000 personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Peru, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the United States.

The exercise was designed to increase the operational and tactical proficiency of participating units in a wide array of maritime operations by enhancing military-to-military relations and interoperability.

The senior Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) leader, Rear Adm. Kazuki Yamashita, deputy commander of Combined Task Force, stated that RIMPAC was very important in helping establish maritime security in the Pacific.

"I would like to express my appreciation to [the] U.S. Navy who supported this exercise, and our friends of all nations who gave us (a) great impression about their professionalism," said Yamashita.

"From the Canadian perspective, RIMPAC 2010 has been a terrific opportunity for all of our forces," said Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Ron Lloyd and the maritime component commander for RIMPAC.

"The performance of all the participants across the various task forces in the maritime component were superbly planned and brilliantly executed which speaks to the tremendous leadership of the task force commanders all the way down to the individual units. All of the participating nations should be exceptionally proud of how their forces represented their respective countries in an extremely dynamic, challenging and complex exercise," said Lloyd.

During the exercise, participating countries conducted three sinking exercises, which included 140 discrete live-fire events - 30 surface-to-air engagements, 40 air-to-air missile engagements, 12 surface-to-surface engagements, 76 laser guided bombs and more than 1,000 rounds of naval gunfire from 20 surface combatants. In addition, units flew more than 3100+ air sorties, completed numerous maritime interdiction and vessel boardings, explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage operations and mine clearance operations and 10 major experiments – the major one the Marine Corps Enhanced Company Operations experiment.

Ground forces from five countries completed five amphibious landings, including nine helicopter born amphibious landings and 560 troops from ship-to-shore.

In all, 960 different training events were schedule and 96 percent were completed in all areas of the Hawaiian operations area – from Kaneohe Bay and Bellows, to the Pacific Missile Range Facility, to the Pohakuloa Training Area on the main island of Hawaii.

"It is this trust and confidence that we've developed amongst our international participants that is perhaps the most important aspect of RIMPAC. It is the one that is enduring," said Hunt. "It is this that will provide huge benefits in the realm of increased maritime security for years to come."

RIMPAC is the world's largest multinational maritime exercise. This year's RIMPAC exercise themed "Combined Agility, Synergy and Support," marked the 22nd exercise in the series that originated in 1971.

Irregular Warfare Office and NWC Examine Irregular Challenges

Irregular Warfare Office and NWC Examine Irregular Challenges: Participants wrapped up a four-day "Irregular Challenges 2010" game that helped define maritime obstacles and scrutinize root causes of irregular challenges, July 30, at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC).

Co-sponsored by the U.S. Navy Irregular Warfare Office (NIWO) and NWC, the game's purpose was to explore Navy roles in addressing irregular challenges and review underlying conditions of crises that stress the maritime environment and influence United States national security.

Military participants, federal officials, business representatives and nongovernment agency officials considered challenges, like side effects of globalization and consequences of global warming. A variety of "irregular" global challenges confront the United States and its partners and friends, including terrorism; piracy; the smuggling of people, drugs and weapons; man-made and natural disasters; illegal exploitation of marine resources and environmental degradation in ungoverned global commons; proliferation of dangerous weapons; and regional instability and crisis.

"This is a different kind of game," NWC President Rear Adm. Phil Wisecup said at the event's kick off. "In this game, we're not looking at a specific plan; we're looking at all intellects, thinking through some very complex issues."

NWC War Gaming Department chairman and game director David DellaVolpe said the "different kind of game" is an example of the Navy adapting to modern challenges.

"The Navy recognizes that there is a lot of potential for instability in the maritime environment out there," said DellaVolpe.

Irregular challenges in a maritime environment differ markedly from irregular threats on land. They are complex and ambiguous, with the seas and littorals serving as highways for a broad spectrum of transnational military and non-military threats.

To look at these challenges, the 60 participants were divided among three teams, or cells, with mixed Navy and Coast Guard officers and civilian academics and planners. Topic experts analyzed game play, and scenarios focused on the implications of maritime instability and consequences of naval actions.

DellaVolpe said the contributions of military, government, policy institutions and business provides for a realistic and highly beneficial environment for "Irregular Challenges 2010." The diverse group of game players brought not only expansive expertise but critical thinking and creativity.

"It's about bringing them together and putting them in an environment that the Navy can really benefit from," he said. "It's about thinking through complex problems and helping the Navy define the risks, the challenges and the unintended consequences of the potential future military environment."

During an opening lecture, NWC Strategy and Policy professor Mike Vlahos gave his audience a new framework for analysis of the game's scenario.

"I like to think of something like this more like a vision," Vlahos told participants and mentioned a few civilizations that met potentially empire-toppling challenges with varying degrees of success—the Mayans and Vikings were hit by climate change, which neither adapted to.

Today, Vlahos said the world faces overfishing, global warming, low governance of commons and fertilizer dumping, which could lead to huge humanitarian crises, particularly in urban areas which are often on coast lines.

"This is where humanity is clustered; the vulnerability of this littoral world is where the nature of humanity may be decided," Vlahos said. His lecture concluded with an appeal to treat irregular challenges with great priority and significance.

The Navy confronts irregular challenges globally through exercising freedom of navigation, ballistic missile defense, maritime interdiction, preventive security engagement, counter-drug, counter-piracy, and other operations in the littoral maritime domain to include projecting capacity ashore. The NIWO assists in the development of strategies, policies, and operational concepts to confront irregular challenges.