Thursday, December 29, 2011

Weapons Sales to Iraq Move Ahead Despite U.S. Worries

The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale of nearly $11 billion worth of arms and training for the Iraqi military despite concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is seeking to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government

The military aid, including advanced fighter jets and battle tanks, is meant to help the Iraqi government protect its borders and rebuild a military that before the 1991 Persian Gulf war was one of the largest in the world; it was disbanded in 2003 after the United States invasion.

But the sales of the weapons — some of which have already been delivered — are moving ahead even though Mr. Maliki has failed to carry out an agreement that would have limited his ability to marginalize the Sunnis and turn the military into a sectarian force. While the United States is eager to beef up Iraq’s military, at least in part as a hedge against Iranian influence, there are also fears that the move could backfire if the Baghdad government ultimately aligns more closely with the Shiite theocracy in Tehran than with Washington.

United States diplomats, including Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, have expressed concern about the military relationship with Iraq. Some have even said it could have political ramifications for the Obama administration if not properly managed. There is also growing concern that Mr. Maliki’s apparent efforts to marginalize the country’s Sunni minority could set off a civil war.

“The purpose of these arrangements is to assist the Iraqis’ ability to defend their sovereignty against foreign security threats,” said Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman in Washington.

But Iraqi politicians and analysts, while acknowledging that the American military withdrawal had left Iraq’s borders, and airspace, vulnerable, said there were many reasons for concern.

Pentagon trimming ranks of generals, admirals

With the Iraq war over and troops in Afghanistan on their way home, the U.S. military is getting down to brass tacks: culling generals and admirals from its top-heavy ranks.

Pentagon officials said they have eliminated 27 jobs for generals and admirals since March, the first time the Defense Department has imposed such a reduction since the aftermath of the Cold War, when the collapse of the Soviet Union prompted the military to downsize.

The cuts are part of a broader plan to shrink the upper ranks by 10 percent over five years, restoring them to the their size when the country was last at peace, before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The changes are projected to save only a modest amount of money, but defense officials said they are symbolically important as the Pentagon adjusts to an era of austerity. The Obama administration proposes to squeeze $450 billion from defense budgets over a decade. An additional $500 billion in cuts will be triggered if Congress cannot agree on a deficit-reduction plan in the next year.

Thinning the ranks of generals and admirals is also necessary to make the military more nimble, said Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.

Agency to get aggressive with fraud, waste in Afghanistan

By most measures, the government agency charged with watching over the enormous flow of cash to U.S. reconstruction efforts here stumbled out of the gate after its creation in 2008.

Not only did many critics consider the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction late to the game — opening its office seven years into the war — but already in its short life its first chief has resigned, the man who replaced him also quit, and Congress has blasted the agency for not living up to its mission.

But in an interview at the U.S. Embassy here, Steven J. Trent, the new acting inspector general, said he believed that with new offices opening in Afghanistan, the largest ever number of agents in-country, and several cases coming near to prosecution, the agency has finally achieved what he called “investigative momentum.”

It can now more aggressively monitor the millions of dollars spent each day on humanitarian and development projects in Afghanistan — and it can track down those who steal, bribe, and defraud the government, Trent said.

Pilotless helicopter makes first supply drop in Afghanistan

The Marine Corps used an unmanned helicopter to deliver cargo to troops in Afghanistan for the first time this month.

A detachment of Marines from Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 moved about 3,500 pounds of food and supplies to troops at Combat Outpost Payne using an unmanned K-MAX helicopter on Dec. 17, according to Kyle O’Connor, the officer in charge of the detachment.

“We delivered cargo today that was supposed to be delivered by convoy (and) now that convoy has three pallets that it does not have to carry,” O’Connor said in a Marine Corps news release.

The unmanned K-MAX, built by Kaman and Lockheed-Martin, can lift its own weight — 6,000 pounds – at sea level, according to Dan Spoor, Lockheed Martin aviation systems vice president.

The aircraft can lift four 750-pound pallets using a carousel system. It can fly to up to four remote locations, drop supplies at each within a 10-meter circle and return to base using GPS coordinates, Spoor said before the aircraft deployed to Afghanistan.

“An entire mission can be done autonomously with nobody controlling the aircraft other than the person who programmed the mission beforehand,” he said.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Future is Bright for ONR's Lightweight, Sun-Powered Generator

The Department of the Navy continues its move toward renewable energy with an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-funded solar generator that recently entered full production, officials announced Dec. 21.

The Ground Renewable Expeditionary ENergy System (GREENS) is a portable, 300-watt, hybrid battery generator that uses the sun to produce electric currents. It was developed to provide Marines with continuous power in the field.

"This item significantly reduces the amount of fuel that has to be delivered, minimizing the number of warfighters on the roads, convoys and hazards, as well as the logistics expenses associated with distributing fuel," said Cliff Anderson, logistics program officer in ONR's Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare & Combating Terrorism Department. "That was really the objective: to get warfighters out of harm's way and reduce the cost of transporting fuel."

The system, which rapidly transitioned from ONR to Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) and then into production, provides Marines in remote locations with battery and plug-in power for charging various devices. Several small Marine Corps outposts have successfully used GREENS as their sole energy source. This is notable because transporting fuel to these remote locations is often challenging and expensive.

"Infantry battalions that are far forward do not have immediate access to a wide range of logistics and maintenance equipment; therefore, any source of power that requires no [military-grade fuel], low maintenance and no special skills to operate becomes an instant success," said Maj. Sean Sadlier, a logistics analyst with the Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office, who trained users on and tested GREENS in the field with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. He added, "GREENS is modular, portable, rugged and intuitive enough to deploy in a combat environment. Units trained on GREENS as part of pre-deployment training have provided positive feedback."

GREENS supports the Marine Corps' objective of generating all power needed for sustainment and command, control, communications, computers and intelligence equipment in place in the field by 2025. This vision, as laid out in the USMC Expeditionary Energy Strategy, aligns with the Marine Corps Vision and Strategy 2025. The goal is to enable Marines to travel more lightly and quickly by reducing the amount of fuel needed.

Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division developed and tested the GREENS prototypes. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake assessed the final prototype, subjecting it to continuous power testing in temperatures exceeding 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Even under these conditions, GREENS worked at 85 percent capacity. This result exceeded expectations and led to an MCSC request that the product be rapidly developed and readied for acquisition.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 30 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and more than 900 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,065 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dempsey: Future to focus on training 'for all potential forms of warfare'

A day after the last U.S. troops left Iraq, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the U.S. military must redirect its focus of the last 10 years from preparing for continuous deployments to training, with an eye toward the growing strategic importance of the Pacific region.

“We have to restore readiness for all potential forms of warfare,” Army Gen. Martin Dempsey told a crowd of more than 400 U.S. military members and civilians at a town hall meeting Monday in Ramstein’s officers’ club.

“If you’re a major or a staff sergeant or younger, you have known nothing in your professional lives except deployments,” Dempsey said. “As we now face the evolution of becoming an armed force that is still deploying … but also now has to go back to understanding how to train and prepare for other kinds of conflicts and other environments, we will transition from being an Army that lives to deploy to an Army that is still deploying but that is also living to train. …”

Taliban is not our enemy, says US Vice President Joe Biden

The United States has said that Taliban is not an enemy of America, a move seen as the latest effort of the Obama Administration to send an olive branch to the terrorist outfit that ruled Afghanistan before 9/11.

"Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That's critical," US Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview to Newsweek magazine.

"There is not a single statement that the (US) President has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens US interests," he said.

''If, in fact, the Taliban is able to collapse the existing government, which is cooperating with us in keeping the bad guys from being able to do damage to us, then that becomes a problem for us. So there's a dual track here,'' Biden added.

"One, continue to keep the pressure on Al Qaeda and continue to diminish them. Two, put the government in a position where they can be strong enough that they can negotiate with and not be overthrown by the Taliban," he said.

"And at the same time try to get the Taliban to move in the direction to see to it that they, through reconciliation, commit not to be engaged with al Qaeda or any other organization that they would harbour to do damage to us and our allies," Biden said.

Read more at:

Troops "Not Leaving" Afghanistan in 2014, U.S. Officials Say

U.S. forces will not be leaving Afghanistan when Afghan troops are scheduled to take responsibility for the country's security in 2014, American officials in Kabul have said.

“If you're waiting for us to go, we're not leaving,” Marine General John Allen, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces, said, according to a report in Monday's USA Today. The United States has 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, along with 30,000 from NATO allies. By the end of next summer, the American troop level is expected to be reduced the 68,000. Americans will be training the Afghan Air force until 2016, but how many troops will remain or what additional roles they will play has not been announced and may not yet be decided.

"This is a work in progress," Allen said. "The continued work beyond '14 in terms of development of economic capability and governance will continue. We will also see, probably, a U.S. military capability beyond '14."

“I don’t know what we’re going to be doing in 2014,” Ryan C. Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan told journalists earlier this month. A continued American military presence would be contingent on the wishes of the government in Kabul, he said. “They would have to ask for it,” Crocker said. “I could certainly see us saying, ‘Yeah, makes sense.’ ” That request will likely be forthcoming, since Afghan leaders earlier this year called for continued political and military support for at least another decade. That would extend America's military involvement to 20 years from the time U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban government in the fall of 2001.

German naval commandos are called Kampfschwimmer or "combat swimmers". These German navy counterparts to the US Navy SEALs are Germany's oldest Special Operations Forces. The Kampfschwimmer roots go back to World War II.

Today's Kampfschwimmer formations are heavily involved in international operations against terrorism, including missions in the mountains of Afghanistan.

This e-book is written by a German Navy lieutenant who serves as a Kampfschwimmer team leader -- the equivalent of a US Navy SEAL platoon leader.

"German Navy SEALs" is a profile of the Kampfschwimmer units. The e-book covers the history of the Kampfschwimmer beginning with the World War II era; describes their organization, command structure, capabilities and training; discusses their cooperation with US Navy SEALS and other Special Operations Forces; and their role in German and NATO operational planning.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pakistan restores Afghan border centres in step forward

Pakistan has restored liaison officers at coordination centres on the Afghanistan border, Nato said on Monday, in a slight easing of tensions, after Nato air strikes last month killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers and provoked fury across the country.

But the US-led coalition’s supply lines that run through Pakistan remain closed since the Nov. 26 incident and it is both in the interests of foreign forces as well as Pakistan that the routes be opened sooner rather than later, the alliance said.

Ties between the United States and Pakistan are fraught, with Islamabad blocking the Afghan supply line for one of the longest periods yet.

Last week, US lawmakers agreed to freeze $700 million in aid to Pakistan demanding it disrupt the movement of fertilisers used in making homemade bombs, the deadliest killer of foreign troops.

But the top Nato commander in Afghanistan, US General John Allen, had spoken to the Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and there were signs of progress over the last few days, Brigadier General Carsten Jacobsen, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), told reporters.

“We have seen liaison officers, Pakistani officers, return to border coordination centres, General Allen has spoken to General Kayani, so we are moving in the right direction,” he said.

The border control centres were set up to help Nato and Afghan forces and their Pakistani counterparts on the other side of the porous border to coordinate operations against militants and avoid the kind of the incident that occurred last month in which two Pakistan army posts in Mohmand came under Nato fire.

Secret US, Taliban talks reach turning point

After 10 months of secret dialogue with Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents, senior US officials say the talks have reached a critical juncture and they will soon know whether a breakthrough is possible, leading to peace talks whose ultimate goal is to end the Afghan war.

As part of the accelerating, high-stakes diplomacy, Reuters has learned, the United States is considering the transfer of an unspecified number of Taliban prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military prison into Afghan government custody.

It has asked representatives of the Taliban to match that confidence-building measure with some of their own. Those could include a denunciation of international terrorism and a public willingness to enter formal political talks with the government headed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The officials acknowledged that the Afghanistan diplomacy, which has reached a delicate stage in recent weeks, remains a long shot. Among the complications: US troops are drawing down and will be mostly gone by the end of 2014, potentially reducing the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Insect Trap Protects Deployed Soldiers

Navy Medicine Support Command (NMSC) in Jacksonville (Florida) announced Dec. 14 that an entomologist assigned to the premier U.S. Navy facility dedicated to ensuring military forces' readiness through reducing the risk of insect-transmitted diseases developed a fly trap now available for worldwide purchase.

Navy Entomology Center of Excellence (NECE) Operational Assessment Department's Lt. Joseph Diclaro developed the Florida Fly Baiter, a device designed to trap filth flies, which can mechanically transmit 100 known disease-causing pathogens. The trap is being commercially released by Killgerm, a British-based chemical company.

Diclaro, who conceptualized the trap while pursuing a graduate degree at the University of Florida through the Navy's Entomology In-service Procurement Program (IPP), said his initial study of neurological and behavioral responses of house flies to reflective coloring led to the design of the trap, something he said works two ways.

"The color of the trap visually attracts them [flies] from a distance," he said. "Once in close proximity to a trap, a chemical lure brings them into the device, where they can be eliminated [through chemical exposure or entrapment]."

Diclaro said his studies found that house flies were attracted to a blue background with black lines, a significant finding because previous schools of thought indicated yellow was a more attractive color to the insects.

Based on his research, Diclaro designed the trap and performed field studies to fine tune its workings.

"Prototypes were tested over several years," he said. "The various designs were evaluated for (effectiveness) outdoors near dumpsters, in residential areas and livestock farms as well as indoors in restaurants and a snake farm."

After proving the concept and finalizing the design, the UF Science and Technology Department applied for and was awarded a provisional patent. Killgerm later purchased licensure agreements to produce and sell the traps, a recognition Diclaro said represents his research, the teamwork the UF Science and Technology Department and NECE share, and the success of the Navy's doctoral program for medical entomology.

"Because NECE is the only command in the DoD [Department of Defense] that solely focuses on vector control, it was fitting to continue my research here," said Diclaro. "After reporting to NECE, I was able perform evaluations to fine tune its design."

The Florida Fly Baiter received attention within the DoD after NECE Assistant Officer-in-Charge Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Stancil petitioned the Armed Forces Pest Management Board (AFPMB) to assign a National Stock Number (NSN) to the device, something that would make the trap available throughout the U.S. Armed Forces. The AFPMB equipment committee voted unanimously in favor of assigning the NSN and allowing the device to be easily procured by service members.

Diclaro, who served as a hospital corpsman (radiological technologist) before commissioning, said the relatively fast commercialization of his concept also underscored the success of the Deployed War-fighter Protection Program (DWFP), a multi-million dollar DoD initiative with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to protect deployed war-fighters from disease-carrying insects.

The DWFP focuses on new chemistries and formulations of public health insecticides, better products for personal protection and more efficient public health insecticide application technology. NECE serves as the DoD lead agency responsible for facilitating and participating in collaborations associated with the DWFP and is the only DoD agency whose mission is dedicated to operational entomology, providing expertise on military vector control equipment, techniques and procedures.

"The Florida Fly Baiter is a tremendous example of how DWFP facilitates the development of ideas leading to commercialization of tools that, in this case, benefits both the DoD and the private sector," said NECE Officer-in-Charge Cmdr. Eric Hoffman. "Often a nuisance and potentially medically important pest, filth flies present a control challenge particularly in a deployed setting. The Florida Fly Baiter has been proven, through testing and evaluation, to be the most effective filth fly trap currently available and a welcome addition. Assignment of an NSN, adding the product to our toolbox, will clearly benefit our deployed customers."

The Navy Entomology Center for Excellence, an echelon five command reporting to the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) in Portsmouth, Va., supports global contingency operations by supplying medical entomologists and preventive medicine technicians, participating in disaster relief operations to minimize the risk of vector-borne disease to U.S. personnel as well as to those impacted civilian populations and participates in humanitarian assistance initiatives as well as maintaining an involvement in the President's Malaria Initiative, a program to reduce deaths caused by malaria in sub-Saharan African countries.

The NMCPHC reports to Navy Medicine Support Command, which is part of the Navy Medicine team, a global healthcare network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

US Army's "Space Age" Machine Gun

The Army recognized the M240L 7.62mm Medium Machine Gun among the 2010 Army Greatest Inventions (AGI) during an awards ceremony at the Association of the United States Army Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11.

The Army's first titanium machine gun was in good company, sharing the limelight with no less than five other Picatinny AGI winners out of a field of 10 honorees.

"The recognition validated the value the gun delivers to Soldiers," said Tom Walsh, M240 Product Director, Project Manager Soldier Weapons.

"The M240L is five pounds lighter than the original M240B, but delivers the same performance and reliability. The weight reduction means a great deal to Soldiers who are carrying the guns up and down the mountains of Afghanistan every day."

Project Manager Soldier Weapons fielded the first M240Ls to dismounted Army and U.S. Special Operations Command units operating in Afghanistan for an operational assessment in January 2010.

"First Unit Equipped" took place at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii in November 2010.

The Army took delivery of more than 3,600 M240Ls, 1,700 of which were fielded in support of current or upcoming Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) deployments.

Getting the program to where it is today was an enormous challenge, but one that the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) and Project Manager (PM) Soldier Weapons personnel were more than prepared for.

Lighter without Compromises

The M240 7.62mm medium machine gun series has long been a dependable workhorse. The Army first adopted the weapon in 1977 as an armor vehicle mounted secondary weapon system.

Army and Marine infantry units began using the M240G and M240B in the mid-90s.

The popularity of the gun soared as it became known for reliability, durability and low maintenance. Despite its success, Soldiers still noted the added weight and length of the M240 compared to its predecessor, the M60.

PM Soldier Weapons and ARDEC engineers started discussions with the manufacturer to consider ways to reduce the weapon's weight while preserving all of the performance standards of the original weapon by 2000.

On this point, there could be no compromise. In hindsight, the effort took longer than anticipated.

The organizations collaborated to develop a variant of the M240B that would reduce the weapon's weight by four to seven pounds without compromising the gun's operational characteristics.

Going "Space Age"

To achieve this objective, engineers started evaluating high-performance, lightweight materials and alternative manufacturing methods.

Initial studies made it clear that the engineers needed to use metals other than steel to achieve weight reduction.

"You have to be careful when taking away or substituting metals," said Kevin Bauer, an ARDEC mechanical engineer who worked on the M240L during its development.

"Thinner metal parts have higher stress and may be less durable than the original parts. The team opted to preserve the integrity and strength of the M240's steel operating system components while leveraging lighter weight titanium in other parts of the weapon."

Known as a "space age" metal, titanium is especially known for having a very high strength-to-weight ratio. The new titanium parts on the M240L include the receiver body, the front sight post, and the carrying handle.

Working with titanium required adjustments to the manufacturing process. The lighter weight metal takes longer to machine than steel and requires more frequent replacement of tooling bits.

Early on, engineers sought to determine the feasibility of using robotic welding, but ran into warping issues. The final solution rested in using stainless steel rivets, which are more pliable than titanium and resist corrosion when in contact with titanium.

The weapon also needed a protective coating after assembly to preserve the metal. Steel weapons typically get a phosphate coat and are subsequently oiled, but the titanium receiver required a completely different process.

"Titanium alloys don't actually rust, they gall, causing the surface to become rough and deformed over time," explained Walsh.

"To solve this challenge we researched coatings that could protect the metal under extreme operating temperatures. We found success with both boron and chrome carbo-nitride coatings used for industrial, high-heat applications. A ceramic-based top coat is added to complete the process."

Once Army engineers were satisfied that the weapon's manufacturing process met the grade at an acceptable cost, the "real" tests had to be performed and assessed by Soldiers themselves.

The Army Research Laboratory's Human Factors Engineering group developed Soldier performance studies at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., to find out if Soldiers responded well to the new design.

Soldiers carried the M240L significantly faster than the M240B on the cross-country course and turned in shorter completion times in obstacle course runs.

Soldiers also rated most of the mobility and user acceptability characteristics for the M240L significantly higher than the M240B. The results demonstrated that the final engineered product was a success where it mattered most -- in the hands of the Soldier.

Aiming for the Future

The titanium M240L that Soldiers use today represents a leap in weapons technology inspired by Soldier feedback. The lessons learned from this program are expected to benefit future weapons systems designed to maintain continued advantage on the battlefield.

Enhancements to the award-winning M240L design are already under way. The M240L will be fielded with the short barrel and collapsible buttstock in the spring of 2012, which will reduce the gun's overall length by up to seven inches (four inches alone with the short barrel) and bring the weapon's weight down to just 21.8 pounds. The collapsible buttstock will be available by late summer for the M240B, as well as an adjustable bipod.

M240L Specifications

(short barrel and collapsible buttstock)

• Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO

• Weight: 21.8 lbs.

• Length: 44.5"

• Max Effective range: 1,800m

• Fire control: safe, auto

• Operation: gas-operated

• Receiver life: 50,000 rds (minimum)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grim picture for European defense spending

Total European defense expenditures will total about $280 billion by 2015 as a result of the continent's economic troubles, a report says.

The prediction by market intelligence and analysis firm Forecast International said with governments trying to rein in debt, defense budgets are prime targets for cost cutting.

"As dueling obligations force EU-NATO members to make financial choices between meeting EU Stability and Growth Pact deficit rules or minimum defense investment standards, invariably governments opt for the former requirement, with Denmark and Poland the only two dual members to refrain from shrinking their defense budgets over the past two years," it said.

"Little in the near-term environment lends hope that a rethink toward defense prioritization is in the offing. Austerity programs are draining government ministries of funding and any reversals of this trend will first be felt in areas outside defense.

"The end result of the ongoing decline and flattening of already-limited defense allocations will be armies that struggle to project power, conduct training exercises, maintain combat readiness and entice new recruits. Modernization programs will be postponed or forsaken entirely," it said.

The forecast said NATO's campaign to support rebel forces in Libya this year highlighted the alliance's shortcomings in defense capabilities. This was particularly so in the area of operational support, which saw heavy reliance on the United States.

As a result, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for more cooperation between alliance members in weapons and systems procurement. But member states appear to be focusing instead on trying to maintain what platforms they have.

German naval commandos are called Kampfschwimmer or "combat swimmers". These German navy counterparts to the US Navy SEALs are Germany's oldest Special Operations Forces. The Kampfschwimmer roots go back to World War II.

Today's Kampfschwimmer formations are heavily involved in international operations against terrorism, including missions in the mountains of Afghanistan.

This e-book is written by a German Navy lieutenant who serves as a Kampfschwimmer team leader -- the equivalent of a US Navy SEAL platoon leader.

"German Navy SEALs" is a profile of the Kampfschwimmer units. The e-book covers the history of the Kampfschwimmer beginning with the World War II era; describes their organization, command structure, capabilities and training; discusses their cooperation with US Navy SEALS and other Special Operations Forces; and their role in German and NATO operational planning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pentagon developing next-generation helicopter equipment

The Army-led science and technology Joint Multi-Role Demonstrator effort to design a next-generation vertical-lift aircraft by 2030 is heavily focused on leveraging advanced electronic and avionics capabilities, service officials explained.

Sensors, electronics, avionics and cutting-edge types of mission and survivability equipment are a large part of the science and technology, or S&T, equation, said Dave Weller, science and technology program manager, Program Executive Office - Aviation. The goal is to design a vertical-lift aircraft that is faster, more capable and better equipped than today's fleet.


As part of the JMR Technology Demonstrator Phase 2, the Army's Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC, at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., has sent a Nov. 9 formal Request for Information, or RFI, out to industry. The purpose is to solicit feedback on developmental solutions and emerging technologies in the areas of Mission Systems and Aircraft Survivability Equipment.

"Our notional strategy with this RFI is to look at potential technological solutions which can be integrated onto our flight demonstrator aircraft in the 2018 time frame," Weller explained.

Overall, the next-generation Mission Equipment Package, or MEP engineered for the JMR will need to accommodate the capabilities and parameters of the new Air Vehicles advanced in Phase 1 of the program, said Malcolm Dinning, AMRDEC Aviation Liaison for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology.

"The Phase 1 Air Vehicle design will provide a new platform, but the ability to be operationally effective depends upon the Mission Equipment Package -- such as targeting, weapons package and sensor capabilities," said Dinning. "As we start looking at vehicle speeds that are well above current aircraft, we cannot simply add large sensor pods onto the aircraft. We have to figure out how to integrate these sensors and antennas as conformal systems to the air frame."

Accordingly, Phase 2 will look for integrated solutions and Mission Systems capability able to provide the technological growth and open systems architecture sufficient to bring the JMR aircraft into the next generation.


"What we're trying to do is identify capabilities that we would like to see. We don't anticipate any particular solution, rather we are asking industry to propose solutions to certain problems we are looking to solve," said Ray Wall, chief of the Systems Integration Division, Aviation Applied Technology Directorate, or AATD, Fort Eustis, Va., and lead for the Phase 2 portion of the JMR Technology Demonstrator program.

Vendors were invited to a JMR industry day in Newport News, Va., Nov. 18 to learn more detail regarding the parameters of the RFI.

"We told our industry partners what we are trying to do and gave them the proper framework with which to give us advice. We're asking for industry to provide feedback regarding whether they have specific solutions which can meet our approach and solve our capability gaps. We are also interested in their comments regarding whether they believe we have adequately addressed an approach to solving problems that we know exist," said Wall.

The RFI will be followed by a Broad Agency Announcement expected to be released to vendors in January 2012. The AATD plans to conduct a Phase 2 trade and analysis beginning in July of this year, to be followed by plans to award multiple Mission Systems Effectiveness Trades and Analysis Technology Investment Agreements by late 2012.

"We don't want to be bound by what is out there today. The hardware and software solutions we seek may be similar or radically different than what exists today," Wall explained.


Integration is key to the Army's Mission Systems and ASE strategy, as the overall approach is aimed at fielding an integrated suite of sensors and countermeasure technologies designed to work in tandem to identify and in some cases deter a wide range of potential incoming threats, from small arms fire to RPGs, shoulder-fired missiles and other types of attacks.

One such example of these technologies is called Common Infrared Countermeasure, or CIRCM, a light-weight, high-tech laser-jammer engineered to divert incoming missiles by throwing them off course. CIRCM is a lighter-weight, improved version of the Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures, known as ATIRCM, system currently deployed on aircraft.

CIRCM, which will be fielded by 2018, represents the state of the art in countermeasure technology, officials said. Future iterations of this kind of capability envisioned for 2030 may or may not be similar to CIRCM, Chase said. Future survivability solutions will be designed to push the envelope toward the next-generation of technology, he explained.

"We will need to be responsive to today's threats plus additional threats that we don't even know about yet. With JMR, we are talking about a vertical-lift aircraft that has significantly different capabilities, so the sensors and Mission Equipment will have to be significantly different in order to accommodate the dimensions of the new Air Vehicle and the flight environment in which it will operate," Chase said.

Additional countermeasure solutions proposed by industry could include various types of laser technology and Directed Energy applications as well as missile-launch and ground-fire detection systems, Wall added.


The RFI is also looking to gather information on sensor technologies, such as next-generation options and solutions which might improve upon the state-of-the-art Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor, or MTADS, systems currently deployed on helicopters; MTADS sensing and targeting technology provide helicopters thermal imaging infrared cameras as well stabilized electro-optical sensors, laser rangefinders and laser target designators.

The current, upgraded MTADS currently deployed on aircraft throughout the Army were engineered to accommodate the size, weight and power dimensions of today's aircraft, dimensions which will likely change with the arrival of a new Air Vehicle built for JMR, Wall said. In essence, the AATD is hoping the proposed technical solutions will be engineered with a mind to the dimensions of a new, next-generation Air Vehicle.

"We're looking for enhancements to MTADS and other sensors and Mission Equipment in terms of how they could be incorporated into the airframe of a new Air Vehicle," Wall said.


JMR Weapons Systems Integration is a critical part of this effort, according to the RFI. The JMR aircraft will be engineered to integrate weapons and sensor systems to autonomously detect, designate and track targets, perform targeting operations during high-speed maneuvers, conduct off-axis engagements, track multiple targets simultaneously and optimize fire-control performance such that ballistic weapons can accommodate environmental effects such as wind and temperature, the RFI states.

Exploring the range of "autonomous flight" or "optionally piloted" technologies is also central to the JMR program, Weller said. Along these lines, the AATD is looking for technical solutions or mission equipment which increases a pilot's cognitive decision-making capability by effectively managing the flow of information from an array of sensors into the cockpit, Weller explained.


The RFI describes much of this capability in terms of the need to develop a Human Machine Interface, HMI, wherein advanced cockpit software and computing technologies are able to autonomously perform a greater range of functions such as on-board navigation, sensing and threat detection, thus lessening the burden placed upon pilots and crew, Chase said.

In particular, cognitive decision-aiding technologies explored for 4th-generation JMR cockpit will develop algorithms able to track, prioritize organize and deliver incoming on- and off-board sensory information by optimizing visual, 3-D audio and tactile informational cues, Dinning explained.

"What we're really looking to do for the volume of information flowing into the aircraft is exploring how to best deliver this information without creating sensory overload. Some of this information may be displayed in the cockpit and some of it may be built into a helmet display," Dinning added.

Manned-Unmanned teaming, also discussed in the RFI, constitutes a significant portion of this capability; the state of the art with this capability allows helicopter pilots to not only view video feeds from nearby UAS from the cockpit of the aircraft, but it also gives them an ability to control the UAS flight path and sensor payloads as well. Future iterations of this technology may seek to implement successively greater levels of autonomy, potentially involving scenarios wherein an unmanned helicopter is able to perform these functions working in tandem with nearby UAS, Chase explained.


Air-to-Air "tracking" capability is another solution sought by the RFI, comprised of advanced software and sensors able to inform pilots of obstacles such as a UAS or nearby aircraft; this technology will likely include Identify Friend or Foe, or IFF, transponders which cue pilots regarding nearby aircraft, Wall said.

Technical solutions able to provide another important obstacle avoidance "sensing" capability called Controlled Flight Into Terrain, or CFIT, are also being explored; in this instance, sensors, advanced mapping technology and digital flight controls would be engineered to protect an aircraft from nearby terrain such as trees, mountains, telephone wires and other low-visibility items by providing pilots with sufficient warning of an upcoming obstacle and, in some instances, offering them course-correcting flight options.

Using sensors and other technologies to help pilots navigate through "brown-outs" or other conditions involving what's called a "Degraded Visual Environment" is a key area of emphasis as well, Wall added.

"Overall, what we are trying to do is look at a range of solutions such as radar, electro-optical equipment, lasers, sensors, software, avionics and communications equipment and see what the right architecture is and how we would integrate all these things together," Wall explained.

Similar to Phase 1 which is focused on Air Vehicle development, Phase 2 of the JMR TD is also heavily emphasizing affordability and hoping to encourage innovation in a manner that also contains costs.


"JMR presents a unique opportunity to apply historic amounts of creativity and innovation to the single-largest decision factor influencing the entire life cycle of an aircraft: cost. With a clean-sheet design, it may be possible to incorporate from the beginning new technologies, new concepts, new processes, or even old ones that could not win their way on to fielded platforms," the RFI states.

Along these lines, the JMR is expected to use Health Usage Maintenance Systems, or HUMS, diagnostic sensor technologies attached to key aircraft components to catalog usage data as a way to streamline the repair parts replacement process, substantially lower maintenance costs and in some cases extend the service life of aircraft, Dinning said.

"HUMS absolutely has the highest potential for reducing operational and maintenance cost of the aircraft," Dinning explained. "This provides an ability to build sensors onto maintenance-intensive components that we routinely inspect. We record the flight-usage spectrum and the sensors record the behavior of this component. This information is then passed to a diagnostic software tool that diagnoses anomalies in that behavior and then sends the information to a prognostic tool which determines when failure might occur."

"This combination of sensing, diagnostics and prognostics allows us to move from our current scheduled maintenance to a conditioned-based maintenance approach. This allows us to replace stuff only as needed," he continued.

While this technology is used widely in the current fleet of Army aircraft, future applications of HUMS will look at innovative ways of embedding diagnostic technologies onto the Air Vehicle itself, Dinning added.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Army activates first-of-its-kind Cyber Brigade

Network warfare, cyber security and the illegal release and posting of classified information on the internet are all hot topics in recent news headlines -- topics which the government, and more importantly its military, take seriously.

The nature of that seriousness is evident with the Army's recent activation of its first computer network operations brigade.

With an urgent insistence and tremendous help from the National Security Agency, Department of Defense and U.S. Cyber Command, Army and Congressional staff, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command created the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade to support U.S. and Army Cyber Commands with their missions to provide a proactive cyber defense.

In an event that marked the culmination of years of preparation, the colors of the 780th MI Brigade were unfurled for the first time during an activation ceremony at NSA's Friedman Auditorium, Fort Meade, Md., Dec. 1.

"While normally it is enough to gather in time-honored tradition to pass unit colors to mark the transition of commanders and continuity of mission, on really rare occasions like today we have the opportunity to activate a new unit -- hand-picked, specifically recruited and purpose built, which has and will continue to contribute to a complex fight against those who present a clear and present danger to our nation's security, while providing new and breathtaking capabilities to our Army's already impressive portfolio of war fighting capabilities," said Maj. Gen. Mary A. Legere, INSCOM commanding general.

Though fully preoccupied with two wars in the Middle East, engaged in other operations globally and confronted by resource constraints that might have been an excuse for inaction, the Army empowered INSCOM to once again build a unit in response to a specific threat -- providing it with the mandate, mission and resources to form this brigade.

In December 2010, the Army approved the establishment of an Army Cyber Brigade and designated the 780th MI Brigade to fulfill this mission with an effective date of Oct. 1, 2011.

"'Never rely too heavily on intuition. It will never be a good substitute for good intelligence.'" said Legere, quoting a phrase from Gen. Omar Bradley. "It is his spirit, and in response to a sense of foreboding, that our Army has had the wisdom to resource and create the 780th."

The ceremony also marked the assumption of command for Col. Jonathan E. Sweet, as he accepted the colors from Legere.

"August 19th, 1942, Maj. Gen. Lee, commander of the newly formed 101st Airborne Division, told his Soldiers assembled at Camp Claiborne, La., that 'the 101st has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny,'" said Sweet. "These men were the infantry's best-of-the-best. They were selected, trained and deployed to counter an adversary that threatened our country during the Second World War."

Sweet compared his new brigade to a more seasoned one.

"Like the 101st, the 780th MI Brigade has no history, and was formed to counter an adversary operating in a different domain -- a highly technical, man-made domain called cyberspace," Sweet added.

While recognizing numerous individuals responsible for the creation of the brigade, and those who assisted his career accomplishments, Sweet said it is an honor to have the opportunity to return to Fort Meade and join Command Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Hoke, 780th MI Brigade command sergeant major, to activate, command, and operationalize this incredibly special brigade.

"The first 26 miles of this marathon began in October 2002, with the activation of Detachment Meade. Since then it's evolved and expanded into the Army's Network Warfare Battalion, assembled a headquarters company and staff, and today the 780th MI Brigade," said Sweet. "As we cross this finish line and take a moment to enjoy the accomplishment, we're reminded that it's merely a transition point, providing us enough time to catch our breath and get ready to step out across the start line for the next phase of what is actually a triathlon."

The brigade's 781st MI Battalion and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, at Fort Meade, and the 782nd MI Battalion, located at Fort Gordon, Ga., will collectively enable the unit's mission to conduct signals intelligence, computer network operations, and when directed, offensive operations, in support of DOD, Army and interagency operations worldwide, while denying the same to its adversaries.

"This [activation] is a tribute to the belief in the notion that our nation requires assured freedom of maneuver in cyberspace in this era of persistent conflict and the advent of the increasingly more sophisticated threats to our security," Legere added.

Legere added that the Army's newest brigade is fully prepared to assist Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, as they forge ahead in promoting cyber defense and full-spectrum Cyber Ops as one of their top priorities, and in helping Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of USCYBERCOM and director of the NSA, as he continues to educate, implore and challenge our nation's leadership to take decisive action to develop and expand this kind of capability that is now so critical to our nation's security.

"The challenge to our nation in this domain is upon us. You see this every day. The future danger that you envisioned has arrived," said Legere. "And the time for the men and women of the 780th to take your place in the Army's long gray operational line as a fully resourced operational unit ready for action is now."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Chief Nurse Becomes Army Surgeon General

Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho, the first nurse and first woman appointed, became the Army's 43rd surgeon general Dec. 7 in a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia.

She was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama May 10 and was later approved by the Senate.

She succeeds Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, who will retire in January.

"Over the past decade, Army medicine has led the joint health effort in the most austere environments." Horoho said. "As part of the most decisive and capable land force in the world, we stand ready to adapt."

A decade of this war, she said, has left a fighting force with both physical and psychological scars.

"We are dedicated to identifying and caring for those Soldiers who have sustained psychological and physical trauma associated with an Army engaged in a protracted war," she said, adding that the war fighter does not stand alone.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who passed the U.S. Army Medical Command flag to Horoho in a ceremony Dec. 5 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, promoted her to lieutenant general and administered the oath to swear her in as the Army's top medical officer.

"The Army cannot provide trained and ready forces to the nation without our talented medical professionals and leaders. In everything we do, we rely on medical command and the surgeon general to set the vision for this community and have the courage to carry it out," Odierno said.

Horoho has commanded the Army Nurse Corps since 2008, when she received a rare two-grade promotion from colonel to major general.

As Army surgeon general, she will direct the third-largest healthcare system in the United States, behind the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Hospital Corporation of America.

With an annual budget of $13.5 billion, the surgeon general manages more than 480 facilities and 29 executive agencies, many of which lead groundbreaking research efforts. She also oversees 140,000 military and civilian employees, and more than 3.5 million beneficiaries, globally.

The Army surgeon general's impact, said Odierno, extends far beyond the Army to the national and the international level, collaboration and partnership with other public and private entities on research, standards of practices, national leadership in areas such as brain injury, concussive disorders, mental health promotion and pain management.

"This position requires a special officer who can lead change and achieve unity of effort in a dynamic, joint interagency and also in a multi-national role, working with our allies and partners around the world," Odierno explained. "For these reasons, it's important to pick the right person. And we are absolutely, incredibly lucky to have Lieutenant General Patty Horoho as the 43rd Army surgeon general."

"She's earned this extremely important leadership position, not only because of her incredible past performance and achievements, but more importantly her outstanding potential, as she will lead Medical Command and lead as the Army surgeon general," Odierno said, adding that her 28 years of experience and education will prove to be "an inspiration for many others."

"Army medicine," Horoho said, "has a responsibility to all those who serve, to include family members, and our retirees who have already answered the call to our nation. We will fully engage our patients in all aspects of their healthcare experience at each touch point, starting with the initial contact.

"We will make the right care available at the right time by demonstrating compassion to those we serve and value to our stakeholders. The collective healthcare experience is driven by a team of professionals partnering with the patient, focused on health, health promotion and disease prevention to enhance wellness.

One of Army medicine's greatest challenges over the next three to five years, she said, is managing the escalating cost of providing world-class healthcare in a fiscally constrained environment.

"I see these challenges as windows of opportunity for us to shape the future of Army medicine and I am confident, regardless of the environment or the landscape, we will meet all challenges in true Army medicine fashion -- with innovation, dignity and strength. Together, we will usher in the new era of possibilities.

While deployed to Afghanistan, Horoho remembered asking a young medic how he would describe Army medicine.

"He replied, 'We carry healthcare on our backs.' As we sit here today there are young men and women willing to put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Thank God we have young medics who are carrying innovative quality and precision healthcare on their backs, regardless of risk to personal safety. This is our privilege. This is our honor, and this is why Army medicine will face all challenges with strength, resolve and dedicated focus," she said.

As a Registered Nurse, Horoho earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Carolina, her Master of Science degree as a clinical trauma nurse specialist from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a resident graduate of the Army's Command and General Staff College and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, where she earned a second Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy.

Other military assignments include: Sstaff nurse on a multi-service specialty ward, staff and head nurse of a level III emergency department, Evans Army Community Hospital, Fort Carson, Colo.; nurse counselor, 1st Recruiting Brigade (Northeast) with duty at Harrisburg and Pittsburgh Recruiting Battalions; head nurse of a 22-bed emergency department, Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg, N.C.; chief nurse and hospital commander of a 500-bed field hospital, 249th General Hospital, Fort Gordon, Ga.; assistant branch chief, Army Nurse Corps Branch, United States Total Army Personnel Command, Alexandria, Va.; assistant deputy for Healthcare Management Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), Pentagon, Washington, D.C.; deputy commander for nursing and commander of the DeWitt Health Care Network, Fort Belvoir, Va.; and deputy commander for nursing, Walter Reed Army Medical Center and North Atlantic Regional Medical Command, Washington, D.C.

Recognitions include being selected in 1993 by "The Great 100" as one of the top hundred nurses in the state of North Carolina. In the same year, she was selected as Fort Bragg's supervisor of the year. She deployed to Haiti with the Army's first Health Facility Assessment Team.

After she co-authored a chapter on training field hospitals that was published by the U.S. Army Reserve Command surgeon in 1998, Horoho was honored Dec. 3, 2001, by Time Life Publications for her actions on Sept. 11, 2001, at the Pentagon.

She was among 15 nurses selected Sept. 14, 2002, by the American Red Cross and Nursing Spectrum to receive national recognition as a "Nurse Hero." In 2007, she was honored as a University of Pittsburgh Legacy Laureate. In April 2009, she was selected as the USO's "Woman of the Year," and in May 2009, she became an affiliate faculty with Pacific Lutheran University School of Nursing, Tacoma, Wash.

"And most recently, she was deployed to Afghanistan as a special assistant to the commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command -- incredible, impeccable credentials,' Odierno said.

"With Soldiers deployed, taking care of families, taking care of wounded warriors -- exactly the kind of leader we want to be our surgeon general," he added.

On Aug. 29, 1898, Dr. Anita Newcomb broke new ground for the Office of the Surgeon General by becoming the first woman to hold the office of acting assistant surgeon, Department of the Army. She was assigned to the Surgeon General's Office as superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps, which she organized.

Another nurse, Maj. Gen. Gale Pollock, served as acting Army surgeon general from March through December 2007, temporarily filling the post after Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley was relieved as a result of aging facilities at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. But Horoho is the first nurse and first woman to be nominated for the position and confirmed by Congress.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Al-Qaida After Bin Laden

Daniel Benjamin
Coordinator, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Jamestown Conference at the National Press Club

Washington, DC

December 8, 2011


As Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon. I want to thank Jamestown for holding this important conference and Glen Howard for inviting me to address it. I’m pleased to have become a regular at Jamestown Conferences and almost feel like this is a homecoming of sorts – this is my third appearance at a Jamestown Conference event in the two years I’ve been with the State Department, and I also participated in earlier events when I was part of think tank community. Because of its commitment to serious scholarship and analysis on terrorism issues, I can’t think of a more appropriate place to do an end-of-year reckoning on al-Qaida – an assessment that is particularly timely after such a remarkable year.

I was asked to speak about al-Qaida after bin Laden. There is no question that bin Laden’s departure from the scene was the most important milestone ever in the fight against al-Qaida. Bin Laden was al-Qaida’s founder and sole commander for 22 years. He was an iconic leader whose personal story had a profound attraction for violent extremists, and he was the prime advocate of the group’s focus on America as a terrorist target. We know now that even in the years when he had to carefully limit and manage his contacts with the rest of the organization, he was more deeply involved in directing its operations and setting its strategy than we had expected. The loss of bin Laden puts the group on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.

Having said that, it’s important to note that bin Laden wasn’t the only top AQ leader who departed in 2011, and in important ways, the terrorist network under consideration is not just “post” bin Laden.

In June, Ilyas Kashmiri, who was implicated in the 2009 Mumbai attacks and widely considered to have been the most dangerous terrorist planner in South Asia was killed in Pakistan.
In June as well, Harun Fazul, one of the architects of the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and the foremost member of al-Qaida in East Africa was killed in Somalia by the forces of the Transitional Federal Government.
In August, AQ’s second-in-command after bin Laden’s death, Atiya Abdul Rahman, who was also a highly capable operational commander, was killed in Pakistan.
And in September, Anwar al-Aulaqi, AQAP’s chief of external operations in Yemen was also killed. Aulaqi, it’s worth underscoring, was intimately involved in planning and directing attacks against the United States had also opened up a new door on recruitment in the English speaking world. He was an important reason why AQAP had become the most capable of the AQ affiliates and the first to make attacking the U.S. at home a core goal.
So there is no question that the top leadership of AQ and its major affiliates was hit hard in 2011.

Now as everyone remembers from their college history, there is the theory that it is great men who drive history – Thomas Carlyle was famous for advocating this. And while “great” is the wrong word for these criminals, they were certainly highly capable individuals, and if this school of history is right, then AQ should be finished.

Of course, we also know that Carlyle wasn’t the last word on history, and we recognize that ideology or world-view, social conditions, and a range of other factors drive events as well. And those factors help explain why despite the punishing blows I’ve mentioned, AQ and its affiliates continue to show resilience…continue to operate in worrisome ways…and continue to pose a threat to our national security. So while we’re pleased about the important successes of 2011, as the President has said, this story is not over and we have much more work to do,

Indeed, even as the core of al-Qaida experienced massive setbacks, activity by the affiliates continued to spread geographically, and other groups with AQ-related ideological leanings gained prominence. In 2011, the protean nature of AQ has very much been on display.

Consider some of these facts: al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) still remains at the top of the affiliates list despite the death of Aulaqi and we’re concerned about its attempts to hold territory in South Yemen and to exploit current unrest to advance plots against regional and U.S. interests.

In the Sahel, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has historically been the weakest of the major AQ affiliates. Yet in the last couple of years, the group has managed to fill its coffers with ransoms from kidnappings – a practice that other AQ groups are adopting to considerable advantage thanks to the willingness of wealthy Western nations to pay off the hostage-takers. These newfound resources together with AQIM efforts to take advantage of the recent flux/instability in Libya have raised concern about this group’s trajectory. Of particular concern are both the issue of terrorist transit in light of instability in Libya, and the threat posed by loose munitions that were previously under Libyan government control.

While not an al-Qaida affiliate, widespread attacks in Nigeria by elements of the group known as Boko Haram are also greatly disturbing, especially following the August attack against the UN headquarters in Abuja that signaled the group’s interest in traditional AQ targeting. Al-Qaida and its affiliates have been transparent in their efforts to strengthen other incipient movements, including Boko Haram.

In the Sinai Peninsula, we have also been tracking the activities of militant groups for some time and are aware of loosely-knit groups of militants, some of whom espouse the same aspirational goals as al-Qaida, and they’re becoming more conspicuous in the Sinai over the past year. We are not aware of any significant operational or other linkages between these militants and al-AQ core leadership or affiliates elsewhere in the region. But we will not be complacent and wait for those ties to appear.

In the Horn of Africa, al-Shabaab may have experienced setbacks in Somalia, but it too has shown its interest in pursuing a more diverse set of targets. We saw that in last year’s twin suicide bombings in Uganda during the World Cup that killed 76 people, and we’ve seen its recent “out-of-area” threats against targets in Kenya.

In other areas that have been critically important theaters over the last decade, I wouldn’t say we see signs for renewed alarm, but we recognize that there is a persistent threat. In Iraq, as the United States withdraws its final forces, we shouldn’t be surprised to see al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) try to exploit the moment and carry out high-profile attacks. The good news is that AQI has suffered leadership losses, continues to fail to mobilize a Sunni community that turned decisively against it after the carnage earlier in the decade, and Iraqi security forces are showing greater capabilities than ever before. However, AQI is resilient and likely to carry out attacks into the foreseeable future. So we need to remain vigilant and to ensure that our cooperation with the Iraqi authorities meets the needs of the new circumstances.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t remark on one other area of concern: the homeland. In the last couple of years we’ve seen high-profile law-enforcement cases, individuals who appear to have been trained and handled from the FATA, operating within U.S. borders. Najibullah Zazi, a U.S. lawful permanent resident, obtained training in Pakistan and pleaded guilty to charges that he was planning to set off several bombs in the United States. We also saw Faisal Shahzad, who was linked to the Pakistani Taliban, attempt to detonate a car bomb in Times Square. The significance of these cases cannot be ignored, nor of others who have far fewer ties abroad, and today, the White House is releasing its Strategic Implementation Plan for the national Strategy on Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States, also known as a Domestic CVE Strategy, and is the first U.S. Government strategy to address ideologically-inspired radicalization to violence in the United States. The plan envisions a fusion of local partners — such as schools, community boards and leaders — with both local and federal law enforcement and other agencies.

After this tour of the horizon, how are we going to meet the challenge posed by this durable threat? By continuing – and redoubling our efforts – on those things that have worked so well for us in the past and by innovating areas where we can do better.

There are three elements that we are focusing on:

1. Strong partnerships, both bilateral and multilateral;
2. Creating capable partners through capacity building; and
3. Countering Violent Extremism.

Let me begin with partnerships. As I have said many times, our international partnerships have been at the heart of our success in a broad array of areas – from intelligence to aviation security and from economic development to law enforcement. As the National Counterterrorism Strategy released earlier this year underscores, we will work harder than ever to build on this success. Our diplomatic engagement is essential for this effort, and whether through our frequent bilateral consultations…or through the kind of intense effort in New York and around the world that led to the UN General Assembly’s powerful rebuke to Iran for plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador here in Washington...this work is vital.

In speaking about our partnerships, obviously one of them is much in the news and deserves some comment here. That is our partnership with Pakistan.

Although the AQ core is much weakened, the story in South Asia is far from over. Al-Qaida remains a threat, and the group has forged closer ties with some of the other militant groups in the region – for example Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and the Haqqani Network – and this has provided the group with additional capabilities to draw on. And just a couple of days ago we saw another Pakistani group with ties to al-Qaida, Lashkar-e Jangawi, claim credit for attacks in Afghanistan directed at worshipers marking the Shia holy day of Ashura.

Clearly, regional cooperation on counterterrorism remains a necessity. It is no secret that the Pakistan-U.S. relationship has had its ups and downs, as we saw with the tragic cross-border incident on November 26 – and our military colleagues are conducting a full investigation so we can make absolutely sure incidents like that don’t happen again. We have conveyed our sincere condolences to the Pakistani people for the loss of life during this tragic incident.

But we also know that to achieve our long term goals regarding the destruction of AQ, we must have a constructive working partnership with Pakistan. We remain committed to our relationship with Pakistan and we continue to stress to the Pakistanis that we are prepared to jointly act against violent extremist groups. As you know, senior leaders are speaking frequently to their Pakistani counterparts, and we are eager to move this essential partnership forward.

Our work building partnerships is also taking into account the great historical development of the past year – the Arab Awakening. Millions of people are pushing their nations to move away from repression that has long fueled resentment which underscores extremism. They are embracing universal human rights and dignity. And this has discredited the extremist argument that only violence can bring about change.

Should these revolts result, as we hope, in durable, democratically-elected, non-autocratic governments, AQ’s single-minded focus on terrorism as an instrument of political change would be severely and irretrievably delegitimized. This would indeed be a genuinely strategic blow. We should be clear. From a security perspective, we have a great deal to gain. Because democracies increase the space for peaceful dissent and give people a stake in their governance, they greatly weaken those who call for violence and create ways of containing extremism not available to autocratic regimes.

Inspiring as the moment may be, we cannot ignore the attendant perils. The political turmoil has distracted security officials in a number of countries. In some cases, as we’ve seen, weapons have gone loose. Civil strife creates the kind of environment that terrorists are drawn to – in this regard, for example, the tragic situation in Syria bears careful watching. Undoubtedly, some are tempted to exploit the situation to carry out plots that could cause significant disruptions for states undergoing challenging, difficult democratic transitions.

That is why we in the U.S. government are engaging closely with transition countries such as Tunisia and Egypt and others in the region. There are tactical needs, so we have also been working aggressively over the past several months to engage with regional governments in mitigating threats posed by the prolonged instability in Libya. This is of particular concern as it relates to loose munitions emanating from Libyan stocks, and the threat of terrorists obtaining Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), which could pose significant risks to regional security and civilian aviation. We will continue to work this issue with our regional partners, and have been pleased with the quality of engagement on potential strategies to address this matter.

But we’ve also been working with them on a strategic basis across the broad array of economic, social, and political issues as well as on security issues. We all have an enormous investment in the successful transitions in these countries, and it is not a short-term investment by any means. We are supporting democracy in these countries because it is a good in itself. But it is also a matter of long-term security. We need to be concerned about the high expectations raised by the transitions in the Middle East. The inevitable frustration when change doesn’t occur overnight can create an opportunity for terrorist recruitment.

We have to go forward on the premise that no switch has been irrevocably flipped. Ideologies that seem finished can come back.

Integrally tied up with our work on partnership are our efforts to build capacity and counter violent extremism. Helping our partners more effectively confront the threat within their borders is both good counterterrorism and good statecraft.

With respect to capacity-building, let me briefly discuss our efforts in North and West Africa, to illustrate our approach. We have implemented a successful regional approach through the Trans Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, known to all as TSCTP, which came into being in 2005. The strategic goals of TSCTP are to: build military and law enforcement capacity; foster regional cooperation; and counter violent extremism.

We want the region to lead its counterterrorism efforts, and adhere to the notion that African problems are best solved by African solutions. TSCTP is working to enhance the capabilities in the Sahel including Mauritania, Mali, Chad, and Niger, as well, farther south with Nigeria, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. It is also facilitating cooperation between those countries and our TSCTP partners in the Maghreb, specifically Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

We believe that this program is beginning to pay off with partners taking an even greater than ever role in CT operations in the region. In addition, we have seen positive signs of greater cooperation among those countries, particularly between Algeria, Mauritania, Niger, and Mali. Moreover, select Allies, such as Canada and France, have joined to bolster TSCTP efforts with their own similar programs that complement ours. We view the success of TSCTP as so compelling that we are creating something similar for East Africa – PREACT (Partnership for Regional East African Counterterrorism).

It is important to note that we are also working on capacity building with the same vigor in the international community, and particularly through the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). The GCTF is a new multilateral counterterrorism body with 30 founding members (29 countries and the EU). Launched by Secretary Clinton on September 22 of this year in New York with her counterparts from most of those founding members, the GCTF is a major initiative within the Obama Administration's broader effort to build the international architecture for dealing with 21st century terrorist threats. With its primary focus on capacity building in relevant areas, the GCTF aims to increase the number of countries capable of dealing with the terrorist threats within their borders and regions.

The Forum will provide a much needed venue for Middle Eastern and North African countries undergoing transitions to engage with the United States on some politically sensitive issues. This could include discussing how the United States and other Western partners can best support efforts to transition away from repressive regimes to rule of law-based approaches to counterterrorism. The Forum’s criminal justice/rule of law working group, which met for the first time in early November in Washington, offers an ideal platform for these discussions.

Two major deliverables announced at the September launch demonstrate the action-oriented nature of this forum. Approximately $100 million in programming funds for states seeking to support the development of rule of law institutions needed to allow countries, including those in the midst of the transition, to shift away from repressive approaches to counterterrorism, was announced. A number of GCTF members contributed to this deliverable.

The second deliverable brings us to our efforts to Counter Violent Extremism. The United Arab Emirates announced its intention to host the first ever international center of excellence on countering violent extremism, which is slated to open in Abu Dhabi next fall. There is widespread agreement on the need to prevent individuals from starting down the path toward radicalization, the embrace of violence, and support for terrorism, as well as to divert those already on that path before they are fully committed. There is no institution, however, dedicated to addressing this challenge. The proposed Center of Excellence will fill this gap. We are already working closely with the UAE on the project and will continue to do so in the months ahead.

Another line of our key CVE efforts has to do with messaging. The Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was stood up one year ago, and is tightly focused on undermining the terrorist propaganda and dissuading potential recruits. The center is housed at the State Department, but is a true whole-of-government interagency endeavor. It has a mandate from the President in the form of an executive order. And as part of this effort, a group of tech savvy specialists – fluent in Urdu and Arabic – that we call the digital outreach team, are contesting online space, media websites, and forums where extremists have long spread propaganda and recruited followers. With timely posts, this team is working to expose the contradictions and abuses of al-Qaida and other violent extremists, including their continuing brutal attacks on Muslim civilians.

CSCC’s work is at the crossroads of American public diplomacy and CVE. It uses public diplomacy’s communication tools, and its messages and videos are attributed to the Department of State. But we are reaching out to a specific, narrowly defined overseas audience: People who are or may be sympathetic to the views of al-Qaida and could indeed be vulnerable to its propaganda; people who could be persuaded or enticed into crossing the boundary between sympathy and action.

I hope this has been a useful overview. In conclusion, protecting the United States, the American people, and our interests abroad will remain a challenge in the 21st Century. New terrorist threats will require innovative strategies, creative diplomacy, and even stronger partnerships. But Secretary Clinton believes we have an approach and a set of tools that are right for the challenge. That is why she has announced her intention to upgrade the Office of the Coordinator to a full-fledged bureau within the State Department – a move that was one of the key recommendations of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review concluded in December 2010. This transformation will continue the process of strengthening civilian-led diplomacy as a key counterterrorism tool – a process underway now for three years. Building partner capacity, countering violent extremism, and engaging partners bilaterally and multilaterally: all these are essential tools for dealing with a changing terrorist threat. Yes, we have made a lot of progress. But as I hope you’ll all agree after this review, there is a great deal left to do.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today. I welcome your questions.

Drone Crash in Iran Reveals Secret U.S. Surveillance Effort

The stealth C.I.A. drone that crashed deep inside Iranian territory last week was part of a stepped-up surveillance program that has frequently sent the United States’ most hard-to-detect drone into the country to map suspected nuclear sites, according to foreign officials and American experts who have been briefed on the effort.

Until this week, the high-altitude flights from bases in Afghanistan were among the most secret of many intelligence-collection efforts against Iran, and American officials refuse to discuss it. But the crash of the vehicle, which Iranian officials said occurred more than 140 miles from the border with Afghanistan, blew the program’s cover.

The overflights by the bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel, built by Lockheed Martin and first glimpsed on an airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2009, are part of an increasingly aggressive intelligence collection program aimed at Iran, current and former officials say. The urgency of the effort has been underscored by a recent public debate in Israel about whether time is running out for a military strike to slow Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon.

In a recent speech, President Obama’s national security adviser, Tom Donilon, hinted at secret efforts by the United States to keep watch on Iran’s nuclear program.

“We will continue to be vigilant,” Mr. Donilon said last month at the Brookings Institution. “We will work aggressively to detect any new nuclear-related efforts by Iran. We will expose them and force Iran to place them under international inspections.”

Report: Allen backs pause in withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2013

The top military commander in Afghanistan is privately recommending that once the planned U.S. troop reductions for 2012 are completed there should be a pause for 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday citing anonymous sources.

The newspaper reported that Marine Gen. John Allen and other NATO officers are concerned that continued reductions in 2013 would make it harder to clear and hold insurgent havens.

Allen, who commands U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has shared his thinking with visiting congressional officials and delegations, the paper said.

Allen’s position reflects the findings of an internal assessment by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, which warned that reducing U.S. troop levels below 68,000 would complicate efforts to protect supply lines and bases ahead of the scheduled security handover in 2014, WSJ reported.

Is Pakistan intelligence implicated in Afghanistan bombings?

One of the main theories being investigated by western forces in Afghanistan is that Tuesday's bombing aimed at Shia targets, which killed 58 people, was carried out by the Haqqani network.

If this is true, it would point the finger at Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency, which has nurtured a long relationship with this Afghan group, and has been publicly accused by the US of using it to orchestrate terrorist attacks in Kabul.

In September, Admiral Mike Mullen, the outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee that the US had "credible intelligence" that the Haqqani network had carried out spectacular strikes in Kabul, including against the American Embassy, and that it acted as a "veritable arm" of the ISI. Pakistan slammed the comments as "irresponsible" and denied the accusation, in effect, of state backed terrorism.

However there have been a number of indicators that suggest the latest attacks may also have sprung from the Haqqani network. The staging of a coordinated multiple bombing operation (with targets in Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar) is beyond the capabilities of almost all Taliban groups.

The mainstream Taliban, or Quetta Shura, have denied responsibility for Tuesday's bombings. In previous assaults on the Intercontinental Hotel and US Embassy, the Haqqani network has shown the capability to mount ambitious, coordinated, strikes.

The relationship between this group and the ISI goes back to the Soviet war, when the Pakistanis channelled weapons to its patriarch, Jalaludin Haqqani, who commanded forces in the border area around Tora Bora.

So what could the ISI's possible motive be for endorsing such a move, particularly when Pakistan's own Shia/Sunni tensions have historically been a good deal more aggravated than those in Afghanistan?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saudi may join nuclear arms race: ex-spy chief

Saudi Arabia may consider acquiring nuclear weapons to match regional rivals Israel and Iran, its former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said on Monday.

"Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran... therefore it is our duty towards our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons," Faisal told a security forum in Riyadh.

Riyadh, which has repeatedly voiced fears about the nuclear threat posed by Shiite-dominated Iran and denounced Israel's atomic capacity, has stepped up efforts to develop its own nuclear power for "peaceful use."

Abdul Ghani Malibari, coordinator at the Saudi civil nuclear agency, said in June that Riyadh plans to build 16 civilian nuclear reactors in the next two decades at a cost of 300 billion riyals ($80 billion).

He said the Sunni kingdom would launch an international invitation to tender for the reactors to be used in power generation and desalination in the desert kingdom.

U.S. Navy examines undersea blast impact

The U.S. Navy has ordered a $4.6 million investigation to analyze the effect of such an underwater blast on ships and submersibles within range.

Research over the years has concentrated on the dramatic and destructive impact of the water on vessels in the range of an underwater blast, which can often be deadlier than effects of an explosion on the surface or land but largely unpredictable.

The new research by Alion Science and Technology, an employee-owned technology solutions company, will analyze survivability and response of ships and submersibles to a explosion. The research will likely have global implications and also open new opportunities for Alion, other defense-related businesses and the U.S. military.

Alion's brief under the U.S. Navy contract will focus on the effects of underwater explosions, also called UNDEX, on the navy's platforms. The company says its experts will examine submarines, surface ships and associated platforms for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division's Survivability and Weapons Effect Department.

Russia sends ship-killer missiles to Syria

Russia, a key backer of the beleaguered regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is reported to have delivered supersonic Yakhont SS-N-26 anti-ship cruise missiles to Damascus despite calls for a U.N. arms embargo on the regime.

The Russian Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified military source in Moscow as saying the 2007 contract, which reportedly involved at least two coastal-defense Bastion anti-ship systems with 72 Yakhonts, "was completely fulfilled, almost ahead of time."

The contract is worth an estimated $300 million.

Interfax noted that "this weapon allows coverage of the entire coastline of Syria from possible attacks from the sea."

It isn't known when the delivery was made. But Syria's acquisition of the Yakhont, which Russia calls the P-800, has caused considerable alarm in Israel.

The SS-N-26, with a range of 190 miles and a maximum speed of 1,900 miles an hour, carries a warhead of 440 pounds of high explosive, enough to sink a large warship.

The weapon's nearest U.S. counterparts, Raytheon's BGM-109 Tomahawk and Boeing's AGM-84 Harpoon, are subsonic. The best French equivalent, MBDA's MM-40 Exocet, only has a range of 45 miles.

Pakistan pulls out of liaison posts; US concerned

Pakistan on Tuesday temporarily recalled some troops from border posts meant to coordinate activity with international forces in Afghanistan as relations have been pushed to an all-time low by NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The troops were pulled back for "consultation" on how to improve coordination with NATO and should be back at their posts within the next few days, said Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas. He did not specify the number of troops who would be recalled, but said some would remain at the border centers.

The decision, however, highlighted current problems with coordination because U.S. military officials seemed to think it was another retaliatory move by Pakistan for the NATO strikes. The officials feared it would hamper efforts to liaise with Pakistani forces and increase the risk for another misunderstanding.

U.S. military officials said late Monday that Pakistan was pulling out of at least two of the three centers along the border and expressed concern about the potential impact. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Monday, December 5, 2011

US convoys leave Iraq under tribal protection

With less than a month to go, the US military wants to minimise last-minute dangers and has paid tribal fighters cash to help provide a safe exit from Iraq after more than eight years of war.

Much of the mighty US military machine is leaving Iraq by heading south to Kuwait down the main highway, a tempting target for Iran-backed militants.

From Contingency Operating Base Basra, to the north of the border with Kuwait, Colonel Douglas Crissman of the US army commands American forces in four southern Iraq provinces.

Under his supervision, soldiers prepare to hand the base to Iraqi forces in the coming days, but they also oversee security for US personnel and equipment slowly making their way down the road.

"We are continuing our mission and securing paths for our sisters and brothers," Crissman said, referring to US soldiers and personnel.

Fewer than 10,000 US military personnel are still in Iraq, while five bases still remain to be handed over.

U.S. mulls Israeli anti-rocket system buy

The U.S. Army will decide in the next few weeks whether it will buy Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, to protect bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Rafael and the U.S. Raytheon Co., which produces the Patriot air-defense system, teamed in August to market Iron Dome, currently used to defend against Palestinian rockets, in the United States.

Iron Dome is designed to counter rockets and artillery shells with a range of 2-43 miles. It's the first system of its type to be used in combat.

Yossi Druker, head of Rafael's Air-to-Air Directorate, said Wednesday that the winner of the tender issued by the Pentagon is expected to be announced in January.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Berlin 'will sell Israel sixth submarine'

Germany is reported to have agreed to provide Israel with a sixth Dolphin class submarine, supposedly capable of firing nuclear-tipped missiles at Iran, and pay one-third of the cost after it looked like Berlin was prepared to scrap the deal.

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported Oct. 30 that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government was angry at Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for approving construction of a Jewish settlement in Arab East Jerusalem and failing to make concessions to achieve a peace deal with the Palestinians.

A German official in Berlin disclosed Wednesday that the Dolphin deal will go ahead, with the government setting aside $180 million in the 2012 budget to cover part of the cost.

U.S. Cyber Command Practices Defense In Mock Attack

The military command in charge of U.S. cyber-warfare activities has successfully completed its first major exercise in its mission to protect the Department of Defense (DOD) from cyber attacks.

The U.S. Cyber Command performed the exercise, called Cyber Flag, over a week's time at the Air Force Red Flag Facility at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and through a virtual environment pulled in participants from other locations, according to a press statement.

The Cyber Command, part of the U.S. Strategic Command, went into action last September specifically to protect DOD networks and oversee federal cyber warfare activities. It's based in Ft. Meade, Md., and led by National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander.

Establishing the Cyber Command was one of the Obama administration's many efforts to shore up cyber security and protect U.S. military networks from cyber attacks as well as mitigate the effects of any.

NATO: Pakistan resumed some cooperation with US led forces in Afghanistan

ccording to AP, it reported, Pakistan resumed some cooperation with US led forces in Afghanistan following NATO strikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers with the coalition to prevent another cross-border incident from escalating, a spokesman said Wednesday. The weekend airstrikes have severely strained the already damaged relationship between Pakistan and the U.S., jeopardizing Washington's hopes of enlisting Islamabad's support in winding down the Afghan war.
Pakistan is still outraged by the soldiers' deaths and has retaliated by closing its Afghan border crossings to NATO supplies, demanding the U.S. vacate an air base used by American drones and boycotting an international conference aimed at stabilizing Afghanistan.

But NATO said Islamabad communicated with the alliance to prevent an exchange of fire over the border late Tuesday from turning into another international incident.

U.S. forces received mortar and recoilless rifle fire from an area just inside the Pakistan border, said U.S. spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Brian Badura. U.S. forces returned fire in self-defense while confirming with the Pakistani military that it wasn't involved. No damage or casualties were reported by the U.S. or Pakistan, he said.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Did Taliban trick U.S.-NATO forces?

The U.S.-NATO attacks over the weekend that killed 24 Pakistani troops may have been the result of a calculated maneuver by the Taliban to lure coalition forces into mistakenly engaging in friendly fire, The Associated Press reports.

According to preliminary U.S. military reports on the incident as described to the AP by American officials, a U.S.-Afghan patrol was attacked by Taliban forces Saturday morning. The strike led to the patrol chasing the enemy in a poorly marked border area, and a Pakistani border post was mistaken for a militant camp, after which NATO forces were ordered to open fire.

Officials said the Taliban may have deliberated provoked friendly fire to set back the U.S. and NATO partnership with Pakistani soldiers and that the Taliban’s first attack was intended to create confusion in the border region.

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Russia Threatens To Cut Off NATO Afghanistan Transit

Russia has threatened to cut off NATO supply routes to Afghanistan if the alliance doesn't compromise on its missile defense plans, Moscow's NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, has said. From the Wall Street Journal:

If NATO doesn't give a serious response, "we have to address matters in relations in other areas," Russian news services reported Dmitri Rogozin, ambassador to NATO, as saying. He added that Russia's cooperation on Afghanistan may be an area for review, the news services reported.

This is just the latest in several headaches that the U.S. has had to deal with over the last couple of weeks regarding its supply lines to Afghanistan. First, there was an explosion in Uzbekistan on a line used by the U.S. and NATO, then Pakistan cut off its supply lines in response to a NATO attack that killed 28 Pakistani soldiers. And the flamboyantly nationalist Rogozin rarely misses a chance to kick the U.S. when it's down. (He also gloated, via twitter, that a somewhat threatening statement by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on missile defense last week forced U.S. officers at NATO to go into work on Thanksgiving.)

Raytheon SDB II Program Ahead of Schedule After Latest Round of Testing

Raytheon's Small Diameter Bomb II program remains ahead of schedule after completing a series of tests that demonstrated successful integration of production tri-mode seeker hardware and software.

During the tests, a seeker built on an active production line was mounted on a tower and tracked a variety of moving targets in imaging infrared and millimeter wave modes.

The tests proved that the seeker's software could seamlessly pass data between modes, allowing the weapon's algorithms to arrive at a targeting solution.

Raytheon Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer to Begin Production

The U.S. Air Force reached a Milestone C decision on Raytheon's Miniature Air Launched Decoy Jammer variant, authorizing Raytheon to begin Low Rate Initial Production of the system.

The Air Force also exercised a contract option and awarded Raytheon $5 million to convert Lot 4 MALD production of the baseline to the MALD-J variant.

MALD is a state-of-the-art, low-cost flight vehicle that is modular, air-launched and programmable. It weighs less than 300 pounds and has a range of approximately 500 nautical miles (about 575 statute miles).

MALD protects aircrews and their aircraft by duplicating the combat flight profiles and signatures of U.S. and allied aircraft. The MALD-J adds radar-jamming capability to the basic MALD platform.