Monday, October 31, 2011

US Navy Researchers Fire 1,000th Shot on Electromagnetic Railgun

Scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) hit a materials research milestone in the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) Electromagnetic Railgun program when they fired a laboratory-scale system for the 1,000th time Oct. 31.

"A significant amount of development has been coming out of NRL to support the program," said Roger Ellis, ONR's Electromagnetic Railgun (EMRG) program officer. "It's a key piece of making railgun successful."

The EMRG is a long-range weapon that launches projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Under development by the Department of the Navy (DON) for use aboard ships, the system will provide Sailors with multi-mission capability, allowing them to conduct precise naval surface fire support, or land strikes; cruise missile and ballistic missile defense; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels.

"The weapon does all its damage because of its speed," said Dr. Roger McGinnis, program executive for ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, which oversees EMRG. Launched at 2 to 2.5 kilometers per second (4,500 to 5,600 mph) without using explosives, the projectile reaches its target at speeds that require only a small charge similar to that found in automobile airbags to dispense its payload, eliminating the objective through the inherent kinetic energy.

"EMRG will provide the Department of Defense with an advantage in future conflicts by giving troops the ability to fire weapons inexpensively against targets," McGinnis said.

As partgeometries to determine which ones can withstand the metal-melting temperatures and pressures of shooting a 1.5-megajoule energy weapon. One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour.

"We've really explored a lot of territory," ONR's Ellis said. "When you couple what we're seeing in testing with what we're seeing in modeling and simulation, it results in some interesting barrel shapes that you wouldn't intuitively think about. Railgun barrels don't necessarily have to be round as in most conventional gun designs."

Since 2005, scientists have been working to increase the railgun's barrel life, muzzle energy and size. Ultimately, their work will help to produce a 64-megajoule railgun with a range of about 220 nautical miles.

"You really have to look at the course of our understanding from the first day they shot to the 1,000th shot today, and how much our understanding of the rail life has dramatically increased, and how much science we have applied to ensure that we're on the path toward a future fieldable system," Ellis said.

Materials science breakthroughs resulting from the test firings have given researchers confidence to transition new technologies to a scaled-up experimental launcher at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren,Va., which fired a world record setting 33-megajoule shot in December 2010.

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, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.
"You really have to look at the course of our understanding from the first day they shot to the 1,000th shot today, and how much our understanding of the rail life has dramatically increased, and how much science we have applied to ensure that we're on the path toward a future fieldable system," Ellis said.

Materials science breakthroughs resulting from the test firings have given researchers confidence to transition new technologies to a scaled-up experimental launcher at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren,Va., which fired a world record setting 33-megajoule shot in December 2010.

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, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

U.S. Planning Troop Buildup in Gulf After Exit From Iraq

The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran.

The plans, under discussion for months, gained new urgency after President Obama’s announcement this month that the last American soldiers would be brought home from Iraq by the end of December. Ending the eight-year war was a central pledge of his presidential campaign, but American military officers and diplomats, as well as officials of several countries in the region, worry that the withdrawal could leave instability or worse in its wake.

After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative.

In addition to negotiations over maintaining a ground combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is considering sending more naval warships through international waters in the region.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

U.S. border czar pitches ‘thinner’ border for low-risk traffic

On the eve of a perimeter security deal between Ottawa and Washington, the top U.S. customs official is championing the idea of a “thinner” border for low-risk traffic as he seeks to reassure Canadians he understands what they want from the controversial agreement.

Alan Bersin, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says he wants to make it easier for legitimate travellers and cargo to enter the United States so both countries can focus on high-risk traffic instead.

He said under the deal Canada and the U.S. would exchange information on risky travellers and cargo, but not on all traffic. “It’s not to willy-nilly share data that would violate notions of privacy and civil liberties … but to share alerts and alarms that are being raised,” he said.

The U.S. border czar was in Ottawa on Monday as the clock ticks down on an announcement of the “action plan” for the Canada-U.S. perimeter deal to ease trade and travel between the two countries after a decade of thickening security measures.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pakistan allows insurgent fire on US troops: general

Pakistani forces are allowing insurgents to launch rocket and mortar attacks on US troops across the border in Afghanistan and may be collaborating with the militants, a US general said Thursday.

The rocket fire targeting American forces often originates within sight of border posts manned by Pakistan's Frontier Corps, said Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti, deputy US commander in Afghanistan.

"In some locations from time to time you will see what just appears to us to be a collaboration... or at a minimum a looking the other way when insurgents conducted rocket or mortar fire in what we believe to be (within) visual sight of one of their (Pakistan military) posts," Scaparrotti told reporters via video link from Kabul.


NATO 3.0

At the Lisbon NATO Summit, the US-European alliance made an open ended commitment to Afghanistan. NATO 3.0 has the details.

Russia shows little interest in new US missile offer: report

Washington, keen to allay Moscow's fears over its planned missile defence system, has invited Russians to visit its Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and participate in tests, a newspaper said on Thursday.

Citing sources, the Kommersant broadsheet said Russia was sceptical about the possible results of US proposal and was in no hurry to accept the offer.

Despite attempts to "reset" US-Russia relationship, Moscow and Washington have so far failed to reach a breakthrough on a missile shield project for Europe, with the Kremlin complaining that the US system would weaken its defenses.

"The United States has invited Russian technical specialists to visit a Missile Defense Agency base in Colorado Springs with their own equipment and to see for themselves that the US missile shield does not pose a threat to Russia," the newspaper quoted a diplomatic source in one of the NATO member countries as saying.

"There has not been a reply from Russia so far however."

Contested, Congested and Competitive:
US Space Security Posture and Military Space Forces

Outer space has become the new strategic high ground. Whether commercial or military, space assets are vital to everything from weather forecasting to communications to strategic and tactical reconnaissance. Western nations must be concerned as rival (and sometimes overtly hostile) actors increase their own space presence. No nation is more dependent on space for its national security and economic welfare than the technology-oriented, globally active USA. This issue of HRISQ will focus on US space security policy and space strategy, and examine the armed forces components dedicated to space operations.

China suspect in US satellite interference: report

NASA satellites were interfered with four separate times in 2007 and 2008, possibly by the Chinese military, according to a draft of an upcoming report for the US Congress.

The latest draft of the report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said the computer hackers behind the interference gained the ability to issue commands to one of the satellites on two occasions.

The targeted satellites are used for observation of the earth's climate and terrain, according to the report to be submitted to Congress on November 16. A copy of the latest draft of the report was obtained by AFP on Thursday.
US Space Security Posture and Military Space Forces

Outer space has become the new strategic high ground. Whether commercial or military, space assets are vital to everything from weather forecasting to communications to strategic and tactical reconnaissance. Western nations must be concerned as rival (and sometimes overtly hostile) actors increase their own space presence. No nation is more dependent on space for its national security and economic welfare than the technology-oriented, globally active USA. This issue of HRISQ will focus on US space security policy and space strategy, and examine the armed forces components dedicated to space operations.

U.S. drone base in Ethi­o­pia is operational

The Air Force has been secretly flying Reaper drones on counterterrorism missions from a remote civilian airport in southern Ethi­o­pia as part of a rapidly expanding U.S.-led proxy war against an al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa, U.S. military officials said.

The Air Force has invested millions of dollars to upgrade an airfield in Arba Minch, Ethi­o­pia, where it has built a small annex to house a fleet of drones that can be equipped with Hellfire missiles and satellite-guided bombs. The Reapers began flying missions earlier this year over neighboring Somalia, where the United States and its allies in the region have been targeting al-Shabab, a militant Islamist group connected to al-Qaeda.

On Friday, the Pentagon said the drones are unarmed and have been used only for surveillance and collecting intelligence, though it would not rule out the possibility that they would be used to launch lethal strikes in the future.

Mindful of the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” debacle in which two U.S. military helicopters were shot down in the Somali capital of Mogadishu and 18 Americans killed, the Obama administration has sought to avoid deploying troops to the country.

As a result, the United States has relied on lethal drone attacks, a burgeoning CIA presence in Mogadishu and small-scale missions carried out by U.S. Special Forces. In addition, the United States has increased its funding for and training of African peacekeeping forces in Somalia that fight al-Shabab.

Military Is Said to Make Progress in Modernizing

As concerns grow at the Pentagon over likely budget cuts, a new report contends that the military has already managed to modernize much of its equipment through $1 trillion in arms purchases over the past decade.

The report, by the Stimson Center, a nonprofit research group in Washington, will be released Friday and provides the most detailed compilation of how each of the services has upgraded its weapons since 2001.

Cuts in military spending are at the center of the deficit-reduction debate. Pentagon officials have warned that large reductions could keep them from replacing equipment damaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, and from modernizing other planes, ships and tanks. But in analyzing the contracting records, the Stimson researchers concluded that the services had updated more of their existing equipment and bought more substantial quantities of new systems than they had anticipated.

In all, the report said, 10 of the Pentagon’s 14 most expensive weapons programs had received at least 88 percent of the financing that they were projected to need. “I was surprised at how much they had already done,” said R. Russell Rumbaugh, the main author of the report, who previously worked on military issues for the Senate Budget Committee.

Mr. Rumbaugh said news reports about the cancellations of several high-tech weapons systems, and the cost of the wars, obscured how much progress the military made in other areas.

Spending on weapons systems more than doubled to $135.8 billion in fiscal 2010, from $62.6 billion in fiscal 2001. The Air Force and the Navy received more of the money than the Army and the Marines, Mr. Rumbaugh said.

In a new elite Army unit, women serve alongside Special Forces

While Congress still bans women from serving in combat units, the soldiers selected from this group will serve alongside the Army’s most elite units on the battlefield. The Army has never selected women to do a mission because of their sex, until now.

It is recruiting female soldiers to work closely with Special Forces teams and Ranger units during raids. Because women and children are often held in a separate room while soldiers search the compound, these teams go into villages in Afghanistan to build rapport with women, as it is culturally inappropriate for male soldiers to talk with them.

“We’ve been missing out on half of the population in Afghanistan because of cultural taboos,” said candidate Meghan Curran, a West Point graduate and first lieutenant in the artillery.

Female Marines began meeting with women in southern Afghanistan two years ago. Then in spring 2010, retired Navy Adm. Eric Olson, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, issued an order to create these Cultural Support Teams.

The teams are trained to have a deeper understanding of Afghan culture and to connect with women in the villages to gather information on enemy activities. The teams aim to create a dialogue between U.S. forces and Afghan women, which can help in medical clinics or building governance.

The teams have been deployed to Afghanistan for more than a year. While Army officials have praised the program, it is unclear how they are measuring its success except for anecdotal stories and requests for more CSTs by commanders in Afghanistan.

So far, 156 out of 233 candidates have been selected.

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.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Manned Unmanned Systems Integration: Mission accomplished

The Army's Program Executive Office for Aviation's offices Project Manager's Unmanned Aircraft Systems, PM Armed Scout Helicopter and PM Apache have worked together with the goal to make the most capable, automated, lethal and interoperable systems available to our forward deployed Soldiers and our allies.

On Sept. 16, Program Executive Office for Aviation, or PEO, AVN sponsored the first ever Manned-Unmanned Systems Integration Capability, or MUSIC, Exercise. The exercise was the largest demonstration of manned-unmanned interoperability ever attempted.

The exercise has been in the works for over one and one half years. The integrations and evaluations culminated with a live demonstration before an audience of leaders from across the Department of Defense as well as civilian onlookers.

Tim Owings, deputy program manager for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or UAS, was a great proponent in bringing this exercise to realization, and had this to say.

"I am most proud of the teamwork and selfless attitudes demonstrated by our industry and government partners," he said. "You can't make MUSIC without an orchestra and everyone playing their instruments. This really is an amazing story of teamwork and perseverance."

There were many objectives to this exercise including: demonstrating advancements made in manned-to-unmanned teaming, or MUM-T; demonstrating interoperability among unmanned systems through the Universal Ground Control Station, known as UGCS, Mini-UGCS, or M-UGCS, and the One System Remote Video Terminal, or OSRVT; and highlighting PEO Aviation's open architectural approach that allows multiple control nodes and information access points via the Tactical Common Data Link, or TCDL.

The combination of M-UGCS, UGCS and OSRVT serves as the catalyst for interoperability amongst the Army's manned and unmanned aviation fleet. Interoperability translates into cost savings and increased efficiency through common hardware and software. Interoperability is also helping to mitigate the ever-increasing threat to our Soldiers, due to advancements in enemy technologies, and increasing our Army's overall combat edge.

"In my short tenure here as the PM, the work I witnessed, day in and day out was brought together and displayed in the first ever MUSIC Exercise," explained Col. Tim Baxter, with PM-UAS. "Although I had been briefed about this thing called MUSIC, I couldn't fathom the amount of effort given by each member of PM's UAS, Apache and Attack Scout Helicopter. The heavy lifting done by a workforce comprised mostly of civilians, and for the good of our Soldiers, is heartfelt and makes a positive impact every day to the lives of those operational folks we send into harm's way."

The event established seamless integration of Apache Block II and Kiowa Warrior helicopters, along with the Army's complete fleet of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which is comprised of the Raven, Puma, Hunter, Shadow and Gray Eagle.

Video was exchanged flawlessly among all the systems. Additionally, the ability to control the UAS payloads of the larger aircraft from both the M-UGCS and the -OSRVT were demonstrated.

The demonstration clearly illustrated the remarkable capability and synergy that the combination of tightly integrated manned-unmanned systems provides. Furthermore, the demonstration showed clearly how this information could be rapidly provided to individual Soldiers on the ground.

Here is a breakdown of operating systems and technologies explaining desired effects and actual recorded accomplishments.


For the first time the UGCS demonstrated its ability to control the larger unmanned aircraft consecutively from a single ground station through common hardware and software. The results were seen immediately as handoffs occurred between the Shadow Portable GCS, or PGCS, to the UGCS, the Gray Eagle ground station to the UGCS, and finally the Hunter legacy ground station to the UGCS.

This new capability has also paved the way for the universal operator concept. This is a single operator with the ability to fly multiple unmanned aircraft. During the demonstration the same aircraft operator and payload operator flew all three aircraft consecutively marking a huge milestone for UAS.


The role of OSRVT was showcased throughout the MUSIC Exercise by demonstrating interoperability with all the participating platforms. OSRVT received the video from the small unmanned aircraft via the Digital Data Link, or DDL. Video from the large platforms was received via TCDL.

The new bi-directional capability in which the OSRVT operator controlled the payloads of the Shadow, Hunter and Gray Eagle platforms demonstrating the ability to receive the video and simultaneously transmit commands back to the aircraft to guide the camera to the point of interest. The combination of the OSRVT and manned aircraft were shown to be able to share targeting data and insure a common operating environment.

All of these capabilities are based on a standard approach so when the OSRVT understands the language of one platform it understands it for all the platforms; enabling efficient use of the available development time. The success demonstrated in the exercise is a direct result of the years of effort spent developing the standards and the hardware and software that implement those standards.

In the coming months these capabilities will be refined to give the Soldier unprecedented situational awareness through an impressive array of tools on the battlefield.


For the Army's fleet of Small UAS the Army continues to move toward a M-UGCS. For the MUSIC exercise, the M-UGCS Block 0 demonstrated the first step toward that goal. The M-UGCS Block 0 is a software upgrade to the existing Raven GCS, which is currently being fielded by the Army in the thousands.

While this GCS already has the ability to control the Raven and Puma UAS currently being fielded, a software upgrade to the system now allows the GCS to control the wing-mounted sensors on the TRICLOPS configuration of the Gray Eagle. The TRICLOPS configuration adds two additional payloads to the wings of the Gray Eagle in addition to its main payload on the fuselage.

These payloads can be accessed independently of the main payload thus providing the ability to track three geologically separate targets with one air vehicle asset.

The M-UGCS will provide front-line soldiers with Level of Interoperability-, or LOI-, 3 control of highly capable sensors using hardware that is already in place. And in keeping with the nature of true interoperability, the interface follows the same Standardization Agreement 4586 standard as the UGCS for the messaging protocol.

Additionally the audience was able to see the M-UGCS Block 1 on display, which provides the functionality of a Raven GCS in a single, consolidated package. The handheld M-UGCS Block 1 combines the Windows-based functionality of FalconView and video/data logging with the highly-reliable Real-Time Operating System functionality required for real-time UAV control.

Touch screens for ease of use, hot-swap batteries, and a mini-DDL radio also combine to provide a stand-alone package. While still in prototype form, this system is fully functional, and has been evaluated by Raven and Puma operators with a good deal of positive feedback.



The Apache Block II demonstrated video transmission to the OSRVT via the Efficient TCDL. The TCDL link allows the Apache to send and receive video and metadata. The Apache is currently using the Visual User Interface Tool-, or VUIT-, 2 system in theater with outstanding results. The VUIT-2 system can transmit both Apache and UAS video to the Soldiers on the ground equipped with OSRVT. VUIT-2 provides positive target identification for the Soldier on the ground. Once the target is confirmed, Apache aircrew can engage the target with its weapon systems.

Manned-Unmanned Teaming-2, or MUMT-2, is the next step for Apache. MUMT-2 is a fully compliant TCDL system. MUMT-2 is currently being fielded and provides the Apache an integrated system within the Apache systems architecture. MUMT-2 reduces the weight of the Apache by over 40 LBS while providing all the functionality of the VUIT-2 system.

With MUMT-2 the Apache has the enhanced capability of transmitting both Apache and UAS video to the Soldiers on the ground as well as ship-to-ship. The future for the Apache is Block III. MUMT is a bridging strategy to provide this capability until Block III is fielded. Block III will roll out its first production aircraft in Nov 2011. Block III goes beyond MUMT-2 and VUIT-2 by fully integrating LOI - 4 into the next generation of Apache.


The Kiowa Level 2 Manned-Unmanned, or L2MUM, system succeeded in demonstrating three of its major capabilities that are inherent to this system; a system that is currently in the process of being fielded. The Kiowa Warrior equipped with L2MUM carried out its portion of the MUSIC exercise at a range of 22KM from the OSRVT ground station. The Kiowa L2MUM system successfully received Hunter unmanned aircraft TCDL video and displayed it in the cockpit on the co-pilots multi-function display.

Second, the Kiowa L2MUM system retransmitted the received Hunter video to an OSRVT ground station 22KM away using TCDL. Thus proving out its capabilities to share what the Kiowa pilot is viewing with what the ground OSRVT user is viewing in real-time.

Lastly, the L2MUM system demonstrated its capability to transmit its on-board mast mounted sight video and own-ship metadata to an OSRVT user or other teammates capable of pulling this data into their prevue. Kiowa closed out the demonstration with a live fire of hydra rockets, demonstrating the lethality of these systems when they work together.

Baxter now turns his attention to incorporating the positives discovered during this exercise and refining those areas needing attention.

"As we turn the page on the first ever MUSIC Exercise, I along with the Training and Doctrine Command Capabilities Manager for UAS, must continue to keep pace with combatant commanders increased demands in developing and fielding advanced UAS and personnel to operate these apparatus that change how we fight and win on today's and tomorrow's battlefields," he said.

Marty Shelton

Afghan Leader’s Invitation Could Reopen Doors for Former U.S. Commander

President Hamid Karzai has invited retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who led NATO troops here in 2009 and 2010, to Afghanistan, and General McChrystal plans to make the visit in the next few weeks, Afghan and American officials said.

The general has not been in Afghanistan since he resigned his command in June 2010 after an embarrassing article in Rolling Stone magazine quoted members of his staff saying disparaging things about the Obama administration.

Though his visit is being described as a private one — his wife, Annie, will accompany him — it may be the beginning of a return to the Afghan policy arena, where he was a significant player for much of the last 10 years, first as chief of clandestine special operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and then as NATO commanding general here.

General McChrystal has remained in touch with senior Afghan officials, in particular Mr. Karzai, with whom he had built a strong relationship.

The official relationship between Washington and Mr. Karzai has often been strained. As a result, American officials are interested in having people in the wings who could open back channels to the erratic Afghan leader. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts has sometimes played that role.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waging war over Pentagon budget cuts

Pentagon budget combatants traded blows Tuesday, with one faction warning of 1 million lost jobs and another arguing that strategic cuts will not damage the world’s most lethal military.

The dueling assessments offered a glimpse of the closing arguments each side will make to the congressional supercommittee that has been tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts by Thanksgiving.

On one side are the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW). Those organizations are lobbying hard against further defense budget cuts and released a report Tuesday conducted by a George Mason University economist that concluded more reductions could push the U.S. economy into a recession.

Firing from the other side is the Project on Defense Alternatives (PDA), which unveiled its own report that concluded “modest changes” to how the military does its work and to its missions would produce big savings while keeping national security strong.

If the supercommittee fails, automatic federal spending cuts would be triggered, including a national-security cut of about $600 billion. When added to the $350 billion in defense cuts set in motion by the August debt deal, the total cut would approach $1 trillion over a decade.

For Elite U.S. Troops, War's End Will Only Mean More Fighting

The sky-high demand for special-operations troops like the Rangers won't be changing anytime soon.

The strain on the highly-trained forces will only increase as the Obama administration expands its shadow war against high-ranking militants in countries like Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, all of which have been the scene of targeted raids by elite troops in recent months. Senior Pentagon officials have also made clear that Special Operations troops will be used to conduct counter-terror raids in Afghanistan even as overall U.S. troop levels there begin to decline.

Elite forces like the Navy SEALs and the Army's Delta Force don't deploy for as long as conventional Army and Marine units, which usually spend six to 15 months in the war zones per tour of duty. But they deploy far, far more often. Many conventional troops have done four or five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. By contrast, Special Operations troops have done 10, 12, and even 14 tours.

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.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

US Air Force grounds F-22 fighters -- again

The US Air Force has had to ground dozens of F-22 fighter jets for the second time this year after concerns a pilot suffered a lack of oxygen in the cockpit, officers said Monday.

Commanders at a base in Virginia and in Alaska ordered a "pause" in flights for the world's most expensive and advanced fighter aircraft as a safety precaution, an Air Force spokesman said.

The decision came after an incident last week in which a pilot at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia suffered "hypoxia-like" symptoms in mid-flight, Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Johnson told AFP.

The announcement came only a month after the Air Force grounded the entire Raptor fleet from May through mid-September -- an extraordinary step -- to allow engineers to check for possible problems with the plane's oxygen supply.

Analysts say the precise source of the problem remains a mystery despite elaborate tests and safety measures.

Boeing Deploys Gigabit Ethernet Data Multiplex System on USS Spruance

Boeing has announced that it has installed the first Gigabit Ethernet Data Multiplex System (GEDMS) on the USS Spruance (DDG 111), a newly constructed Arleigh Burke-Class guided-missile destroyer.

GEDMS is a data transfer network that provides a highly reliable, redundant, mission-critical network backbone to any ship in the U.S. Navy inventory. The Spruance was commissioned Oct. 1 during a ceremony at Naval Air Station Key West, Fla.

"Inclusion of GEDMS in the Navy's DDG modernization program highlights the continued confidence the Navy has in our ability to provide innovative and advanced solutions to the fleet," said Chris Devine, director of Information Dominance for Boeing subsidiary Argon ST.

"Commissioning of the USS Spruance marks the successful completion of nearly two years of hard work and dedication by Argon in cooperation with the U.S. Navy."

The Spruance is the first combat-ready destroyer to be outfitted with GEDMS as part of the Navy's ongoing modernization effort. The ship is designed to operate in multi-threat air, surface and subsurface environments.

GEDMS, the most recent upgrade to the Data Multiplex System (DMS) family of networks, offers enhanced network communication capabilities by providing an IP-based backbone that supports multimedia services such as video and data.

GEDMS provides increased capabilities to support data transfer for the upgraded hull, mechanical, and electrical systems introduced into the fleet with DDG 111.

Additional benefits include manpower reduction and increased crew safety by using video and sensors for monitoring of remote or confined spaces.

Third Littoral Combat Ship Completes Builder Trials

A Lockheed Martin industry team completed Builder's Sea Trials for Fort Worth, the nation's third littoral combat ship.

The trials - a coordinated effort between the U.S. Navy and the Lockheed Martin team including Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) - were conducted in the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan.

They included operational testing of the vessel's propulsion, communications, navigation and mission systems, as well as all support systems.

Panetta says US committed to being Pacific power

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Japan on Monday hoping to persuade Tokyo to relocate a military base which Washington says is vital to its role as a Pacific power.

In his first trip to Asia as Pentagon chief, Panetta is seeking to reassure allies that the US remains engaged in the region as a counterweight to the growing might of China.

Part of that engagement, he will tell Japanese officials, means moving ahead with the planned relocation of a marine airbase on an island chain in the south that is home to around half of the nearly 50,000 US troops stationed in Japan.

Panetta's Asian tour has already taken him to Indonesia where he told regional figures that budget cuts at home would not stymie Washington's engagement in the Pacific, even as he offered rare praise for China.

Lightweight MEADS Launcher Arrives At White Sands for Initial Flight Test

After completing extensive system integration testing, the first Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) launcher has arrived at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., ready to demonstrate its advanced capabilities.

The lightweight MEADS launcher is easily transportable, tactically mobile and capable of rapid reload. It carries up to eight PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) Missiles and achieves launch readiness in minimum time.

Through improvements in range, interoperability, mobility and full 360-degree defense capability against the evolving threat, MEADS improves the ability to defend troops, friends and allies in critical areas around the globe.

At White Sands Missile Range, MEADS will demonstrate an unprecedented over-the-shoulder launch of a PAC-3 MSE against a simulated target that attacks from behind.

The test will demonstrate a 360-degree capability that current air and missile defense systems cannot provide.

Monday, October 24, 2011

U.S. to Sustain Military Power in the Pacific, Panetta Says

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Sunday that despite hundreds of billions of dollars in expected cuts to the Pentagon budget, the United States would remain a Pacific power even as China expanded its military presence in the region.

Mr. Panetta, who is on his first trip to Asia as defense secretary, made the comments at a meeting of Southeast Asian nations on this Indonesian resort island. He sought to reassure Pacific nations that are concerned about China’s assertiveness that the United States, as he put it, would be “a force for peace and prosperity” here.

He acknowledged that nations in the region were worried about the impact of at least $450 billion in Pentagon budget cuts over the next decade and whether the United States could afford to maintain a strong military presence in the Pacific.

“There’s no question that those concerns have been expressed,” Mr. Panetta told reporters before meeting with the defense ministers of the 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But, Mr. Panetta said, “I’ve made clear that even with the budget constraints that we are facing in the United States,” there is “no question that in discussions within the Pentagon, and discussions in the White House, that the Pacific will be a priority for the United States of America.”

Mr. Panetta offered no specifics, although he said that the United States would maintain its “force projection” in the region — some 85,000 troops in all, largely in South Korea and Japan.

Although he did not mention it, the United States is also stepping up investments in a range of weapons, jet fighters and technology in response to China’s military prowess.

Panetta to focus on military ties with Indonesia

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is looking to build military ties with Indonesia but Washington is watchful that Jakarta honours its commitment to reform its armed forces, accused of rampant rights abuses under Suharto, a US official said Sunday.

In a meeting Sunday with his Indonesian counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro on the resort island of Bali, Panetta will discuss regional issues and Washington's growing "military relationship" with Jakarta after a decade-long hiatus, the defence official said.

"We've seen incredible commitment of the Indonesian military and (defence) ministry to transforming the Indonesian armed forces," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"As a result of that transformation, we've been able to do more with them, both in terms of personnel exchanges, experts exchanges, exercises and even some defence trade and cooperation in sales and security relations," he added.

Relations with the Indonesian army had nearly screeched to a halt and remained frozen for 12 years over abuses during former dictator Suharto's 32-year rule.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Stuxnet-like virus points to new round of cyber war

Internet security specialists have warned of a new round of cyber warfare in the form of a computer virus similar to the malicious Stuxnet worm believed to have targeted Iran's nuclear program.

Analysts at US firms McAfee and Symantec agreed that a sophisticated virus dubbed "Duqu" has been unleashed on an apparent mission to gather intelligence for future attacks on industrial control systems.

"This seems to be the reconnaissance phase of something much larger," McAfee senior research analyst Adam Wosotowsky told AFP about the virus, named for the "DQ" prefix on files it creates.

Cyber Defense

The US military is preparing for 21st Century electronic warfare and cyber terrorism. A joint US Cyber Command and four service cyber commands have been set up.

Their mission is to defend American military networks and civilian American infrastructure from cyber terrorism and from foreign government hackers.

The officers leading these cyber commands explain how they are organized, how they operate, and how they will protect the United States from foreign military hackers, intelligence agencies, and cyber terrorists.

Libyan prime minister confirms Gaddafi killed as Sirte is overrun

Revolutionary fighters overran the last loyalist stronghold in Libya and killed former Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi on Thursday, bringing to a dramatic close an eight-month war backed by NATO.

Gaddafi, 69, the long-entrenched autocrat who was driven from power in Tripoli two months ago, was killed when revolutionaries ended loyalist resistance in Sirte, his birthplace and home town, the new government announced.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fat Replaces Oil for F-16s as Biofuels Head to War

Biofuels face their biggest test yet -- whether they can power fighter jets and tanks in battle at prices the world’s best-funded military can afford.

The U.S. Air Force is set to certify all of its 40-plus aircraft models to burn fuels derived from waste oils and plants by 2013, three years ahead of target, Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary Kevin Geiss said. The Army wants 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. The Navy and Marines aim to shift half their energy use from oil, gas and coal by 2020.

“Reliance on fossil fuels is simply too much of a vulnerability for a military organization to have,” U.S. Navy Secretary Raymond Mabus said in an interview. “We’ve been certifying aircraft on biofuels. We’re doing solar and wind, geothermal, hydrothermal, wave, things like that on our bases.”

Yet the U.S., stung by an oil embargo during the 1973 Arab- Israeli war, won’t deploy biofuels beyond testing until prices tumble. The Air Force wants them “cost-competitive” with traditional fuel, for which it pays $8 billion a year. Producers see it the other way around, saying they need big buyers before building refineries to help slash costs, according to Honeywell International Inc. (HON), which developed a process to make biofuels.

“The first few widgets are always more expensive than the billionth,” said James Rekoske, vice president of renewable energy at Honeywell’s UOP unit. “That’s where we’re at.” Honeywell expects to have delivered about 800,000 gallons of biojet fuel from 2009 through early 2012.

Rekoske said prices need to dive to $3 to $4 a gallon from more than $10 now. Refineries, costing about $300 million each, are “mission critical” and a giant customer like the U.S. government is necessary to carry production to the next level.

“The U.S. military is by the far the largest user in the country, so we can create a market for it,” Mabus said. The Navy is the “guaranteed customer” needed to get the industry “across the so-called valley of death from a good idea to commercial scale,” he said.

The armed forces say they’ve been successful testing fuels produced from sources as diverse as animal fat, frying oils and camelina, an oil-bearing plant that’s relatively drought- and freeze-resistant.

U.S. forces amass on Afghan-Pakistan border, ready for attack on feared Taliban faction

U.S. military troops are positioning on the Pakistan border in eastern Afghanistan ahead of a likely drone missile attack against militants from the Haqqani network, a feared faction of the Taliban.

The American build-up, which includes helicopter gunships, heavy artillery and hundreds of U.S. and Afghan military personnel, has reportedly caused panic in Pakistan’s north Waziristan, a usually safe haven for Haqqani fighters.

Pakistan Army sources told the Telegraph that the American plan was to force the tribal militia from their bases and into Afghanistan, where they will be 'encircled, arrested or killed.'

Operation ‘Knife Edge’ on at border

Afghan security forces and their Nato allies have launched a new push against the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network along the troubled Pakistani border, senior defence officials said on Tuesday.

US commanders say the network is their most potent enemy in eastern Afghanistan and increasingly capable of launching high-profile attacks in Kabul. Afghan Defence minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said operation “Knife Edge” was launched two days ago, while a senior defence ministry official said it was “largely against the Haqqani network”.

The Afghan ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the operation was tied to the recent spats between Washington and Islamabad, but gave no details about its scale.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a weaponry exhibition in Kabul, Wardak said the operation would “deliver a crashing blow to the enemy’s capabilities to conduct operations, especially terrorist operations during the winter”.

“This operation is launched along the border because the enemy lately operates along the border on both sides. Sometimes on this side and sometimes on the other side,” said the Afghan chief of army staff, Sher Mohammad Karimi.

A NATO spokesman confirmed only that ‘enhanced official operations’ were ongoing “to reduce the select insurgent network” in the eastern region that borders Pakistan, but offered no operational details for security reasons.

Demo Humvee burns 70 percent less fuel

The Army has temporarily halted its testing of a unique fuel-efficient tactical vehicle so it could be shown to senior leaders and displayed in the nation's capital.

The Fuel Efficient Ground Vehicle Demonstrator, dubbed "FED Alpha," is on display this week in the Pentagon courtyard for an Energy & Sustainability Technology Fair. Last week it was on the exhibit floor at the 2011 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.

The concept vehicle has a solar panel on its rear hatch that can recharge its electrical system. It also has a custom engine, transmission and a score of other features that dramatically increase its mileage per gallon compared to other Humvees.

The vehicle has all the capabilities of an up-armored Humvee, but burns about 70 percent less fuel, said Steve Kramer, an engineer with the U.S. Army Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Command, known as TARDEC, headquartered in Warren, Mich.

Kramer has been involved in designing the FED Alpha for the past three years. TARDEC is working with Ricardo, a British company, on the testing phase of the vehicle at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

The FED Alpha may never be mass produced as is, Kramer said, but added that he hopes many of the energy-saving features can be priced low enough to make it onto the next generation of tactical vehicles.

"Hopefully the technology on here can get back into the force," he said.

The FED Alpha features a Cummins turbo-charged 200-horsepower 4-cylinder diesel engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and low-rolling resistance tires.

The low-rolling tires alone provide an estimated 7 percent fuel reduction. While officials said that percentage may not sound like much, if applied to the Army's entire tactical vehicle fleet, it would add up to about $45 million in fuel savings annually.

The vehicle also has a gas pedal that provides the driver feedback if the vehicle exceeds the recommended fuel-efficiency speed. The pedal vibrates and provides force against the driver's foot, but if it's mission-essential to increase the speed, Kramer said the driver can punch through the feedback and continue the mission.

The FED Alpha also has:

• A high-efficiency 28-volt integrated starter-generator that enables electric accessories and 20 kW of onboard power for equipment

• A lightweight aluminum structure, except for the armored cab and underbelly V-shaped blast shield

• An improved driveline that uses a unique carrier and differential assembly, including non-geared hubs and isotropic super-finished gears to reduce friction

Since July, the FED Alpha has been undergoing testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground. The Aberdeen Test Center Roadway Simulator is validating the fuel economy of the vehicle.

ATC is the world's largest automotive test simulator and is designed to perform vehicle dynamics, powertrain performance, shock and vibration testing in a laboratory environment. It enables the FED Alpha to be tested in a controlled environment so small changes in fuel economy can be verified.

ATC will test the FED Alpha in convoy operations, urban assault, cross-country trips and extended idle situations.

A second vehicle, the FED Bravo demonstrator, is scheduled to be completed by late November or early December, Kramer said.

The FEB Bravo will be a hybrid-electric drive vehicle. It should undergo shakedown testing in Michigan before Christmas, Kramer said, and head to Aberdeen Proving Ground for testing in early spring.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Transatlantic Missile Defense: Phase II and the Lead Up to the NATO Chicago Summit


Legislation could expand Reserve role in homeland security

Legislation being considered by both houses of Congress could provide the Army Reserve broader authority to call up troops for homeland security and also allow the force to deploy units for operations lasting 120 days or less.

Chief of the Army Reserve Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz said last week that the legislation would grant authority to call up as many as 60,000 Reservists per year from all services, for unnamed contingencies, both inside and outside the country. He spoke to reporters about the proposed expansion of Title 10 authority following a seminar Oct. 11 at the Association of the 2011 U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.

"For homeland use, current law says you can only use your Title 10 Reserve in the homeland in instances of weapons of mass destruction," Stultz said, adding that the Army Reserve isn't trying to insert itself or replace the National Guard.

"There should be a logical progression, just like there is now, where local civil authorities respond, then the governor calls up the National Guard -- and in 90 percent of the cases that's all that's needed -- but in that other 10 percent where the state needs federal help, we'd be available with a lot of needed expertise," Stultz said.

Stultz said the National Governors Association and the National Guard Association felt there were no issues of infringement and they support the Title 10 change as well.

Additionally, the Army Reserve has sought the Title 10 change to allow it to support operations that are usually 90-to-120-day deployments and would give each Reserve force commander the authority to send one unit for the entire duration rather than have two or three units cover down in that same period of time.

The general also said he was looking at creating an operational reserve of about 25,000 Soldiers of which 5,000 could be pulled up trained and ready when the country needed them. This would keep the rotational cycle ideal at one year out, four years back.

Presently, the rotational cycles are "pretty good for the majority of units" at about 12 months out and 42 months back. He said some units are one to four, but others -- such as aviation units -- are still high- demand, high operations tempo, especially in Afghanistan. Yet others, like logistics units, are coming down as units move out of Iraq.

Stultz said the Reserve force needs to continue investing in modernizing equipment, providing the dollars for training and simulation systems that give Soldiers realistic training. He said if worthwhile training is not sourced or invested, the Reserve will lose what he called the "national treasure" because Reserve Soldiers don't want to sit in a drill half for a weekend or go to summer camp and dig foxholes.

He noted as budgets shrink and the force becomes smaller that Soldier standards will be more closely looked at, and he, like the chief of staff of the Army, is concerned with the possibility of automatic budget cuts that would kick in if there's no agreement on the $1.5 trillion in federal savings by the Congressional deficit reduction committee.

"If sequestration kicks in, we don't want to end up doing what we've done in the past where we focus on how to get people off the rolls, not which people off the rolls," he said. "We don't want to incentivize the wrong people to leave the service."

"We need to upgrade the standards, and if you can't get there, you can't stay in," Stultz said. "We have people in our formations who we should have already eliminated, but for lack of a clerk or motor pool sergeant we kept them. Let's process these people out so we can make room for those we want to keep."

Monday, October 17, 2011

'US mobilizes forces along Pak border'

Reinforced with gunships and heavy weaponry, some 500 of the forces had been stationed near Afghanistan's border with Pakistan's North Waziristan region, a senior Pakistani government official told our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Sunday.

The official went on to explain that the motive behind the move was yet unknown, but that the deployment could be part of a military drill to later launch a ground assault against the Taliban-allied Haqqani network of militants.

Tribal sources, meanwhile, said that a curfew had come into force, preventing the Pakistani troops' freedom of movement in the violence-hit region.

Last month, former US Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen claimed that Pakistan's intelligence agency was supporting the network, which has been blamed for assault on the US embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul. "The Haqqani network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency," he had asserted.

Tensions Flare as G.I.’s Take Fire Out of Pakistan

American and Afghan soldiers near the border with Pakistan have faced a sharply increased volume of rocket fire from Pakistani territory in the past six months, putting them at greater risk even as worries over the disintegrating relationship between the United States and Pakistan constrain how they can strike back.

Ground-to-ground rockets fired within Pakistan have landed on or near American military outposts in one Afghan border province at least 55 times since May, according to interviews with multiple American officers and data released in the past week. Last year, during the same period, there were two such attacks.

May is also when members of a Navy Seals team killed Osama bin Laden in the house where he lived near a Pakistani military academy, plunging American-Pakistani relations to a new low. Since then, the escalation in cross-border barrages has fueled frustration among officers and anger among soldiers at front-line positions who suspect, but cannot prove, a Pakistani government role.

The government’s relations with the United States frayed further after senior American officials publicly accused Pakistan of harboring and helping guerrillas and terrorists. Last month, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, called the insurgents who attacked the American Embassy in the Afghan capital “a veritable arm” of the ISI, Pakistan’s military intelligence service.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Why send US troops against African bush fighters? Political payback for Somalia a possibility

Why is the U.S. sending its troops to finish off a fractured band of bush fighters in the middle of Africa? Political payback for the quiet sacrifices of Uganda’s troops in Somalia could be one reason.

President Barack Obama announced Friday he is dispatching about 100 U.S. troops — mostly special operations forces — to central Africa to advise in the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army — a guerrilla group accused of widespread atrocities across several countries. The first U.S. troops arrived Wednesday.

The U.S. has not had forces in Somalia since pulling out shortly after the 1993 Black Hawk Down battle in Mogadishu in which 18 American troops died, raising the possibility that military advisers in Uganda could be payback for U.S.-funded Ugandan troops in Somalia.

“I’ve been hearing that. I don’t know if our group necessarily agrees with that, but it definitely would make sense,” said Matt Brown, a spokesman for the Enough Project, a U.S. group working to end genocide and crimes against humanity, especially in central Africa.

“The U.S. doesn’t have to fight al-Qaida-linked Shabab in Somalia, so we help Uganda take care of their domestic security problems, freeing them up to fight a more dangerous — or a more pressing, perhaps — issue in Somalia. I don’t know if we would necessarily say that but it’s surely a plausible theory,” Brown said.

Col. Felix Kulayigye, Uganda’s military spokesman, told The Associated Press previously that Ugandan forces have long received “invaluable” support from the U.S. military, including intelligence sharing, in the fight against the LRA.

U.S. goes after Haqqani network

The Obama administration has launched the opening salvos of a new, more aggressive approach toward an Afghan insurgent group it asserts is supported by Pakistan’s government, senior administration officials said.

Early Saturday, drone-fired U.S. missiles hit a compound in neighboring South Waziristan, killing six suspected militants, the Associated Press reported. Pakistani intelligence officials said the militants belonged to a group led by Maulvi Nazir, who is accused of working with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to direct cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

The decision to strike Miran Shah was made at a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Obama two weeks ago and was intended to “send a signal” that the United States would no longer tolerate a safe haven for the most lethal enemy of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, or Pakistan’s backing for it, said one of several U.S. officials who spoke about internal deliberations on the condition of anonymity.

Armed U.S. Advisers to Help Fight African Renegade Group

President Obama said Friday that he had ordered the deployment of 100 armed military advisers to central Africa to help regional forces combat the Lord’s Resistance Army, a notorious renegade group that has terrorized villagers in at least four countries with marauding bands that kill, rape, maim and kidnap with impunity.

The decision by Mr. Obama to deploy armed military advisers into the region was welcomed by human rights advocates who have chronicled the atrocities committed by Mr. Kony and his subordinates. But it also raises the risk of putting American military personnel in harm’s way in another region while the United States is winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama wrote that he had decided to act because it was “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.” He also wrote that the deployment was justified by a law passed by Congress in May 2010, the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which favored “increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.”

American efforts to combat the group also took place during the administration of President George W. Bush, which authorized the Pentagon to send a team of 17 counterterrorism advisers to train Ugandan troops and provided millions of dollars worth of aid, including fuel trucks, satellite phones and night-vision goggles, to the Ugandan Army.

Friday, October 14, 2011

F-35 fighter program might face cuts

The US military's top officer signalled Thursday that the Pentagon might have to cut one of three planned models of the new F-35 fighter jet, citing budget pressures.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that while he believed a new fighter was vital he questioned whether a constrained defense budget could fund all three versions of the Joint Strike Fighter, including an aircraft able to take off or land vertically.

"I am concerned about the three variants and whether as we go forward in this fiscal environment, whether we can afford all three," Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee.

The general said he was ready to "learn more about" the issue and to hear the views of the commandant of the US Marine Corps, General James Amos, a strong advocate of the short-take off, vertical landing (STOVL) version of the plane.

"But I'll tell you, that's something we have to keep an eye on" and three versions of the aircraft "create some fiscal challenges for us."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

First MEADS Battle Manager Begins Integration Testing in the United States

MEADS International (MI) has begun integration testing on the first completed Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) battle manager at the MEADS Verification Facility in Orlando, Fla.

The MEADS battle manager controls a revolutionary network-centric open architecture that allows any combination of sensors and launchers to be organized into a single air and missile defense battle element. Through a capability called "plug-and-fight," sensors, shooters or other battle managers act as nodes on the network. From the MEADS battle manager, a commander can add or subtract nodes as the situation dictates without shutting down the system.

With new threats, US Army must reinvent itself: Panetta

The US Army won't be fighting conventional wars against columns of tanks in the future and will have to prepare for new threats from cheaper high-tech weaponry, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

With budget pressures bearing down on the Pentagon, Panetta challenged the "battle-hardened" generation of army officers who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade to come up with new ideas on how to counter a wide range of potential adversaries, including militant groups.

Referring to the first Gulf war in 1991, Panetta said "the reality is there aren't a lot of countries out there building massive tank armies -- it is unlikely that we will be re-fighting Desert Storm in the future.

"Instead, I see both state and non-state actors arming with high-tech weaponry that is easier both to buy and operate, weapons that frustrate our traditional advantage and freedom of movement," he told an audience of mainly retired officers at the Association of the US Army.

Panetta described what US military planners and analysts call a new "hybrid threat" that combines conventional and irregular warfare, with the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon often cited as the most vivid example.

Are U.S. goals in Iraq realistic?

What kind of ally has Washington gained in Baghdad?

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spent his years of exile in Syria. As noted in Sunday's Washington Post, Maliki made clear in a televised interview Sept. 30 that he supports the increasingly brutal Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, which the U.S. opposes.

The Maliki government has also bucked the United States by supporting the Palestinian effort to gain membership in the United Nations and even Iran's assertion that it has the right to nuclear technology.

One bright spot for Washington: Iraq's heavy purchase of almost $12 billion in American weaponry, including the late-September announcement of 18 F-16 fighters valued at $3 billion. The aircraft would be part of the program to provide Iraq with the means to protect its airspace from outside intrusions or attacks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

U.S. foils Iran-backed terror plot, officials say

The Justice Department on Tuesday accused elements of the Iranian government of being involved in a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, and Attorney General Eric Holder said the U.S. would hold Iran accountable.

Two people, including a member of Iran’s special operations unit known as the Quds Force, were charged in New York federal court. Holder said the bomb plot was a flagrant violation of U.S. and international law.

Spec-Ops and CIA first in, last out of Afghanistan

After the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA and special operations forces were the first to go into Afghanistan, helping to drive the Taliban from power. Now, as America marks the 10th anniversary of the conflict, it appears they will be the last to leave.

The two groups are preparing for up to another decade of fighting there even as the bulk of U.S. forces plans for a withdrawal in 2014.

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.

Pak Taliban considering peace talks with US

Pakistan's Taliban movement, the country's biggest security threat, has suggested it would consider peace talks with US-backed government, a local newspaper reported on Monday.

Pakistani leaders said after an all-party meeting attended by top military and intelligence officials last month they would seek reconciliation with militants to end an insurgency.

And PM Yusuf Raza Gilani was quoted by newspapers as saying the government was ready to talk peace.

"Our shura (council) will decide whether and when can we enter into talks with the government, with the military ," the Express Tribune quoted Maulvi Wali-ur-Rehman Mehsud, deputy leader of the Pakistani Taliban, as saying.

NATO 3.0

At the Lisbon NATO Summit, the US-European alliance made an open ended commitment to Afghanistan. NATO 3.0 has the details.

Rodriguez stresses importance of the Reserve Component as an operational force

Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command, highlighted the critical role of Reserve Component Soldiers and units during the keynote address at the Maj. Gen. Robert G. Moorhead Guard/Reserve Breakfast at the 2011 Annual Meeting and Exposition of the Association of the United States Army in Washington DC Monday.

"During the last decade America's military could not have achieved success without the sustained contribution of its Reserve Component (U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard) as an operational force," Rodriguez told the 500 breakfast meeting attendees. "The combat experience ingrained within the ranks of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve must be preserved."

The breakfast, hosted by AUSA's Vice Chairman for National Guard and Reserve Affairs, Lt. Gen. Roger C. Schultz, retired, featured introductory remarks by Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz Jr., chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command, and Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director, Army National Guard.

Forces Command, or FORSCOM, is the Army's largest command, and prepares conventional forces to provide a sustained flow of trained and ready combat power to combatant commanders in defense of the United States, at home and abroad.

"As we move the Army forward, we must use the momentum gained over the last decade and sustain the (current) degree of enhanced readiness by keeping the Army National Guard and Army Reserve on predictable and progressive readiness models." Rodriguez said. "That model is Army Force Generation."

Rodriguez also talked about the importance of the Reserve Component's ability to respond to emergencies at home.

"The readiness that we must maintain is also essential to our nation's ability to provide for timely and effective response to national events, such as tornado's, hurricanes and floods," he said. "This year alone, our National Guard provided over 4,000 Soldiers for support to 13 states and one U.S. territory."

Rodriguez summarized the importance of maintaining the recent increase in capability and experience gained by the Reserve Component.

"There are those out there who would argue for a return to the old -- to the strategic reserve," Rodriguez said. "However, the way we look at the world today, and the situation we are in, there is only one way to meet the requirements of the combatant commanders and maintain the health of the force, we must maintain the Reserve Component as an operational force."

"We cannot afford to squander the decade of operational experience resident in the Army National Guard and Army Reseve today," he said. "I believe the American people and congress will support it (the operational Reserve)."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coming Soon: The Drone Arms Race

Eventually, the United States will face a military adversary or terrorist group armed with drones, military analysts say. But what the short-run hazard experts foresee is not an attack on the United States, which faces no enemies with significant combat drone capabilities, but the political and legal challenges posed when another country follows the American example. The Bush administration, and even more aggressively the Obama administration, embraced an extraordinary principle: that the United States can send this robotic weapon over borders to kill perceived enemies, even American citizens, who are viewed as a threat.

“Is this the world we want to live in?” asks Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Because we’re creating it.”

If China, for instance, sends killer drones into Kazakhstan to hunt minority Uighur Muslims it accuses of plotting terrorism, what will the United States say? What if India uses remotely controlled craft to hit terrorism suspects in Kashmir, or Russia sends drones after militants in the Caucasus? American officials who protest will likely find their own example thrown back at them.

“The problem is that we’re creating an international norm” — asserting the right to strike preemptively against those we suspect of planning attacks, argues Dennis M. Gormley, a senior research fellow at the University of Pittsburgh and author of “Missile Contagion,” who has called for tougher export controls on American drone technology. “The copycatting is what I worry about most.”

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In G.O.P. Race, Foreign Policy Is a Footnote

Herman Cain suggested that Israel’s conservative prime minister would be open to allowing Palestinians right of return to the lands they fled in what is now Israel. Gov. Rick Perry suggested it was possible that American troops could be sent to Mexico if drug violence there got worse. And former Senator Rick Santorum offered that the United States should engage with the ousted Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf — now living in self-exile in London — to respond to the threat of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands.

Many foreign policy experts regard such proposals as head-scratchers, at best, and the Republican presidential candidates have been prone to occasional blunders and posturing, as well, when delving into international affairs — that is, when they have had anything to say about the topic at all. It has often been an afterthought in the campaign — in the CNN/Tea Party debate last month, it was the second-to-last question, before the one about whether the candidates would plant vegetable gardens or put in horseshoe pits at the White House. In an election in which the economy is the overriding focus, neither candidates nor voters bring it up much on the stump.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Budget crisis, military spending cuts may impact future Afghanistan mission

The worldwide economic crisis is having an impact on the NATO mission militarily as the alliance transitions to a post-International Security Assistance Force environment, said the commander of U.S. Army Europe during a bloggers roundtable today.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who took command of U.S. Army Europe in March, said that much like the U.S. is grappling with its own military budget shortfalls, most European allies who are looking to modernize are facing their own set of challenges.

The International Security Assistance Force is the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, which includes participation from nearly 50 countries world-wide. More than 70 percent of those participating nations are in Europe.

"What we are seeing is various influences, depending on the country, of what the budget is doing specifically to the military," he explained. "There aren't many countries, in fact I can't think of one, that actually meets the NATO requirement of two percent gross domestic product contribution to military budget," adding that this dilemma is something that politicians and budgeters will have to address.

Hertling pointed out that with fewer military dollars, countries must decide whether to spend money on weapons or training for contingency operations.

"Every single country that we are working with in terms of building alliances are having challenges with budgets and getting as much as what they like to have within their militaries -- as are we," he said.

"Do I buy more rifles and radios and intelligence equipment for the army, or do I buy a couple of F-16s for the air force? Those are the kinds of things they are weighing and frankly have to determine in terms of their new roles both within NATO," Hertling said. "They have some hard choices, just like we have."

However, despite the crisis, Hertling emphasized that every country he has worked with is "fighting above their weight class" as far as contributions to the NATO mission.

"From a military standpoint, and from my working with the allied armies, every single one them that I've dealt with have been doing the very best that they can to contribute to coalitions; even small countries that have budget contributions of less than one percent," the general said.

Using Estonia as an example, he said the tiny Baltic state in Northern Europe has done "significant work" in terms of contributing forces to operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

In response to questions on the U.S. debt crisis and how the country will deal with cuts to military spending in a post ISAF environment, Hertling said he trusts congressional leaders will do what's right for the military and the nation's security.

"I'm convinced that in an increasingly globalized world that our smart decision makers will do the right analysis and make the right call on what kind of military we need, but they will also consider things like budget situation, the strategy and the threat," he said. "I know there is going to be a lot of debate in the next couple of months on all these things, but I believe we got some pretty smart people making those decisions. I'm just hopeful they make the right ones."

Hertling said he tells his troops not to worry about military spending cuts and how having fewer resources to work with will affect them.

"That's my job," he said. "I'll fight for the budget. You just train your forces, and if we don't get the resources we need, then we will adjust."

Meanwhile, Hertling said that better theater security cooperation and building relationships through military exercises and training with NATO allies will be key to maintaining peace and stability in a post-ISAF world.

Currently, thousands of USAREUR troops along with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, out of Vicenza, Italy, and NATO allies, are taking part in the full-spectrum theater security exercise at the military training centers in Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr, Germany. He said last year USAEUR conducted more than 8,000 theater security cooperation events with partner nations.