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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Troop levels to drop by 40,000 in Afghanistan

Members of the 49-nation international force in Afghanistan have announced that the number of foreign troops in that nation will shrink by 40,000 by the end of 2012.

The largest planned reduction is from the US, which will remove 33,000 troops. That would represent one-third of the 101,000 American troops in Afghanistan in June, when US military presence was at its peak, according to US defence department figures.

The planned reduction of international troops will give the Afghan forces, who are set to begin training on avoiding civilian casualties next month, a larger presence on the frontlines of the war.

Other nations have announced withdrawal plans for next year as well, but have vowed to continue to play a role in training Afghan police and military in the coming years.

The US-led foreign coalition says Afghan soldiers and police will be ready to secure the entire nation in three years, but Afghans still fear the breakout of another civil war like the one in the 1990s which led to the rise of the Taliban in 1996.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Army Seeks Answers, Combs Through 'Alternative Futures'

Escalating cyber threats, a struggling economy, the rise of China, and the unpredictable impact of the Arab Spring will dominate the next decade. At least, that's the best collective guess of a conclave of academic experts, government officials, and military officers from the U.S. and abroad, convened by the United States Army. Their objective: This March the service plans to revise its Capstone Concept, issued in 2009, to outline the Army's missions for the post-Afghanistan, post-budget-cut era. The road to that rethinking is a series of conferences and wargames called Unified Quest 2012, which kicked off at the end of October with a symposium to predict the future.

Instead of seeking – or simply imposing – a consensus around a single, supposedly authoritative vision of the world to come, the Army deliberately solicited a range of plausible "alternative futures." "We're not going to get 2020 right," said Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, deputy commander for "futures" at the Army's Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), which convened the conference. But, Walker went on, "if we don't consider all the possibilities of what we might have to do for the nation and try as hard as we can to get as many diverse views as we can, then we're guaranteeing we'll get it wrong."

There were certainly some sharp differences about what the Army should prioritize. At the final session of the "futues" conference, as excitement about cyber-war rose among the assembled experts, counterinsurgency crusader John Nagl spoke up sharply. "I want to push back pretty hard against this cyber [emphasis], not because I don't think it's an emerging field of conflict – it is – but I don't think it's the Army's primary responsibility," said Nagl, an Iraq veteran and retired officer who now co-chairs the Center for a New American Security. "The Army's going to be judged [by] how well Afghanistan turns out, and in the near future I think we should be thinking about... building partner capacity" – military jargon for advise-and-assist missions like those planned for Afghanistan after U.S. combat forces withdraw. Another attendee countered that given the spread of hacking technology, even counterinsurgency conflicts will have a cyber aspect in the future. "I don't disagree with that," replied Nagl, "but the Taliban isn't going to beat us with cyber."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NATO looks to pool resources amid budget pressures

NATO 3.0


NATO countries are taking tentative steps to pool military resources in the face of shrinking defense budgets and to fill gaps exposed by the recent Libya campaign, a French general said Tuesday.

The alliance hopes to unveil a number of cooperative projects in time for a NATO summit in Chicago in May that may include joint training for pilots of allied aircraft and shared maintenance for NATO vehicles, said General Stephane Abrial, supreme allied commander for transformation.

"Budgets are decreasing everywhere. We cannot expect any possibility to spend more," Abrial told reporters at a Pentagon briefing.

"We need to spend better and the best way to spend better is to do more things together," he said.

The NATO-led air war exposed shortcomings among US allies and underscored the need for sharing costly military resources, said Abrial, who is overseeing what the alliance calls the "Smart Defense Initiative."

U.N. should stop Ashraf plan

History can be a great teacher ... if we bother to remember it." But, when it comes to the fate of Iranian dissidents in Iraq in Camp Ashraf, it seems history cannot be a teacher simply because we don't want to bother to remember.

The situation is strikingly similar to the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. The government of Iraq wants to resettle the 3,400 Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf to another location in Iraq. This is tantamount to their massacre.

Unlike during World War II, the world now enjoys from the good offices of the United Nations. Would the United Nations succumb to Iraqi pressure and fall into its trap to agree with resettlement in Iraq?

The Ashraf residents, protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention, are members of the principal Iranian opposition movement, the People's Mujahedin of Iran, which Iran considers enemy No. 1.

During the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Ashraf residents remained neutral. The following year, the United States gave written guarantees to all of them that, in return for a voluntary disarmament, the United States would protect them. But, in early 2009, the United States handed over responsibility for the security of the camp to Iraqi forces. Since then, the camp has been under a punishing blockade, with residents deprived of basic services, such as access to proper medical help.

US to cease observing arms treaty with Russia

The United States said Tuesday it would no longer provide data to Russia on conventional weapons and troops in Europe, citing non-compliance by Moscow with a two-decade old treaty that governed the information exchange.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the United States will cease to observe the provisions of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE).

Adopted in November 1990, it was seen as a groundbreaking accord credited with greatly advancing global security. But Russia suspended its observance of the treaty in 2007.

"This is an issue that we've been working on ever since the Russians withdrew," Nuland told reporters.

"After four years of Russian non-implementation and after repeated efforts... to save the treaty, we think it's important to take some counter-measures vis-a-vis Russia," she said.

The US will now no longer accept Russian inspection of its bases.


Merchant Vessel Defense Against Pirates

Preemptive Measures Can Prevent Boarding and Hostage Taking

Too often, ship operators fail to take proper anti-piracy security measures, effectively turning their merchant vessels into “Golden Geese” ripe for the taking, writes the author. He goes on to discuss proven methods of hardening commercial ships and training their crews to prevent pirates – whether from Somalia or elsewhere – from boarding vessels and taking crews hostage.

154 New Submarines Needed Next Decade

The global submarine market is expected to increase by a CAGR of 1.22% during the forecast period 2011-2021 of the new report on

Submarines form an essential core of today's naval fleets as a result of their flexible mission capabilities and ability to complement other strategic resources.

Worldwide, 41 countries possess submarine capability and together operate 450 submarines. Most of these nations are modernizing their fleets or increasing them as a result of changing security situations.

A total of 154 submarines are to be procured over the forecast period, costing US$186.3 billion.

The market, which currently stands at US$16.4 billion, is set to rise by a CAGR of 1.02 % to US$18.2 billion by 2021. North America is expected to constitute 47% of the market during the forecast period, a total of US$87.3 billion.

MEADS Conducts First Flight Test At White Sands Missile Range

The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) successfully completed its first flight test at White Sands Missile Range, N.M. The PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) MEADS Certified Missile Round was employed during the test along with the MEADS lightweight launcher and battle manager.

The test demonstrated an unprecedented over-the-shoulder launch of the MSE missile against a simulated target attacking from behind.

It required a unique sideways maneuver, demonstrating a 360-degree capability. The missile executed a planned self-destruct sequence at the end of the mission after successfully engaging the simulated threat.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Obama and Asian Leaders Confront China’s Premier

President Obama and nearly all the leaders at an Asian summit directly confronted China on Saturday for its expansive claims to the resource-rich South China Sea, putting the Chinese premier on the defensive in the long-festering dispute, according to Obama administration officials.

Premier Wen Jiabao was by turns “grouchy” and constructive as he responded to the concerns aired by almost all of the leaders attending the East Asia Summit, said one of the administration officials, who spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One as Mr. Obama returned from an eight-day diplomatic swing around the Pacific Rim.

The meeting, at the end of the summit, capped a week during which Mr. Obama moved quickly, and on several fronts, to restore the influence of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region after years of preoccupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. He announced that 2,500 Marines would be stationed in Australia; opened the door to restored ties with Myanmar, a Chinese ally; and gained support for a regional free-trade bloc that so far omits Beijing.

The announcements appeared to startle Chinese leaders, who issued a series of warnings that claimed the United States was seeking to destabilize the region.

Despite the rapid-fire diplomatic challenges, Mr. Obama did make time to speak with Mr. Wen on Saturday morning after the Chinese leader asked if they could meet. And Thomas E. Donilon, the national security adviser, described the meeting as “a good engagement.” A report in Xinhua, the official Chinese government news service, backed up the administration’s suggestion that Mr. Wen had been put in an uncomfortable position by the focus on the South China Sea, especially because the country has long insisted that the issue should not be discussed in multinational forums.

At an Asian regional meeting last year in Hanoi, at which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly warned China to curb its aggressiveness in its territorial claims, the Chinese foreign minister walked out enraged, according to officials who were there.

Afghan Council Supports Karzai on U.S. Troop Presence

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


The grand council of Afghan delegates known as the loya jirga drew to a close Saturday, choosing to support President Hamid Karzai’s vision for negotiating a strategic agreement that could keep a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan.

For the past four days, more than 2,000 delegates, including elders, local and regional leaders and government officials, met to discuss some of the country’s weightiest issues, including the negotiations with the United States and another debate about how to start peace talks with the Taliban. But from the beginning, the jirga was called into question by both its timing — it seemed to undercut an active session of Parliament — and its composition, in which about 90 percent of the delegates were handpicked by Mr. Karzai or his aides.

Important Afghan figures, including many members of Parliament, prominent civic leaders and political opposition, responded by boycotting the meeting. That undermined the traditional weight that jirgas are given in Afghan society, though this body was advisory only with no legal force behind it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Flying Tigers, Flying Legends Inspire Young Aviators

The 2011 Flying Tigers reunion at MacDill AFB (Florida) brought together pilots who have flown attack and rescue aircraft bearing the infamous shark's teeth for the past 70 years.

The remaining original Flying Tigers, made up of American Volunteer Group pilots and supporters who defended China in World War II, met Nov. 10 through 13 with pilots who have flown in conflicts from Vietnam to Afghanistan.

"It's an honor to meet with these generations of warriors," said Col. Ronald Stuewe, the commander of the 23rd Fighter Group at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. "We stand on the shoulders of giants, and it is distinctly humbling to be with them on Veterans Day. The legacy and heritage of the original Flying Tigers aren't lost on those currently serving."

The group's aircraft have evolved from the P-40 Warhawk, which lacked gun sights or bomb racks, to the current A-10C Thunderbolt II, which is the most-requested and sought-after air-to-ground support aircraft downrange.

Lt. Gen. Claire Lee Chennault, who formed and led the legendary Flying Tigers, gave a breakdown of the AVG's accomplishments in his book "The Way of a Fighter":

"The group that military experts predicted would not last three weeks in combat had fought for seven months over Burma, China, Thailand, and French Indo-China, destroying 299 Japanese planes with another 153 probably destroyed. All of this with a loss of 12 P-40s in combat and 61 on the ground."

The Flying Tigers have conducted these reunions since 1947, giving veterans the chance to share war stories with current Flying Tiger pilots.

"I've looked up to these guys since I was a little boy, so to actually meet them and hear their stories is truly, truly humbling," said Capt. Matthew Cichowski, a 75th Fighter Squadron pilot from Moody AFB. "As soon as I heard about this reunion, I said, 'Sign me up.'

"I've always wanted to be an A-10 pilot, and my first time flying one with the shark's teeth is something I won't forget," he added. "It's something I had been waiting decades for, and to be a part of the Flying Tigers now is an honor."

There were five original Flying Tiger pilots in attendance, and another handful are thought to still be alive. Also in attendance were original supporters of the Flying Tigers, such as maintainers, intelligence and medical staff.

This year, there were two guest speakers. Retired Lt. Col. Dale Storr, an A-10 pilot, spoke about his experiences as a prisoner of war when he was shot down during Desert Storm. The other speaker was retired Chinese air force Maj. Gen. Fred Wu-O Chiao, who trained and flew with Chennault. Like many of the other remaining Tigers, he is in his mid-90s.

"It almost made me cry to see how proud you all are," he said during his address. "There aren't a lot of us left. We don't have much time left, and we hope through your efforts to make the world a better place to live."

The spirit of camaraderie runs deep between the current and veteran Flying Tigers. In June, a group of 75th FS (Attack) members, led by current squadron commander Lt. Col. David Trucksa, rented a recreational vehicle and traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to attend the funeral of Maj. Gen. John Alison. A World War II ace, Alison was hand-picked to demonstrate the P-40's abilities to Chennault and Chinese officials. He was also a former 75th FS commander and the father of Air Force Special Operations.

Obama’s Trip Emphasizes Role of Pacific Rim

President Obama discussed maritime security, nuclear nonproliferation and disaster aid at an Asian summit meeting on Friday, but just his presence on this resort island telegraphed his main message: that the United States is turning its focus to the booming Asia-Pacific region after a decade of preoccupation with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Calling the region critical to economic growth and national security, he said, “I want everyone to know from the outset, my administration is committed to strengthening our ties with each country individually but also with the region’s institutions.”

The American focus on Asia has been raising tensions with an ever more powerful China, which has been increasingly assertive in the region. On Saturday morning Mr. Obama held a previously unscheduled meeting with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China. Administration officials said Mr. Obama and Mr. Wen talked briefly on Friday night at a dinner for the gathered leaders and agreed to meet the next morning. Earlier on Friday, Mr. Wen had pushed back against the United States, saying that “outside forces should not, under any pretext” interfere in a regional fight over the control of the South China Sea.

More Civil Servants Deploying to Conflict Zones

More than 800 Air Force civilians deployed to various overseas locations in 2010. Projections show that more than 900 will deploy in 2011 and by this time next year, Air Force Personnel Center officials anticipate as many as 1,000 Air Force civilians will be working side-by-side with uniformed members in deployed locations.

Those numbers are expected to continue to rise as mission demands and civilian interests increase, said Tom Kelly, the AFPC Civilian Expeditionary Workforce program manager.

"We've been deploying civilians for years," Kelly said, "but the Office of the Secretary of Defense CEW provides an additional avenue to allow civilians to deploy aside from the (air and space expeditionary force)."

There are hundreds of opportunities to support combatant commander requirements around the world, and Air Force leaders are working hard to increase the civilian footprint in support of those requirements, Kelly said.

"The challenge is to ensure our Air Force members are competitive against other governmental and nongovernmental applicants who are also contending for these opportunities. Selection for a civilian deployment is incredibly competitive, with thousands of America's best and brightest vying for a spot," he said.

Previously, civilians who wanted to volunteer for a deployment went directly to the OSD website to complete and submit an application, he said. Many of those who applied were not accepted.

"In some cases it was because they were applying for something they weren't qualified for," Kelly said. "To help our folks, we created a simple application process that helps prevent that. Before applications go to OSD, we review them and contact applicants if necessary to help them with the process. People who apply want to deploy, so when possible, we'll try to guide them toward opportunities for which they are qualified."

Since the oversight process was implemented, Air Force civilian selection rates have increased from 5 percent in 2008 to more than 23 percent this year, Kelly said. But other factors also contribute to nonselection, so Kelly encourages applicants to "bring their 'A' game."

"You have to ensure that your resume is strong and comprehensive because so many people are applying for CEW positions," he said. "So, you need to make sure you stand out if you want to deploy. It is well worth the time and effort."

Positions are available in a variety of fields including contracting, intelligence, human resources, security administration, finance, civil engineering, public affairs, supply and many more. Those interested in deploying can get more information about the program at the OSD CEW site ( and can review the various opportunities and requirements.

"Volunteers aren't limited to openings in their current fields," Kelly said. "If they have past documented experience and knowledge in another field, they can apply for an opening there."

To apply for one, or as many as three of the opportunities listed on the OSD site, select the "apply" link, and then the "volunteer statement" link that goes to the civilian readiness community of practice page. In the "how to apply" folder is the Air Force application, an application checklist and other related documents.

Volunteers must complete, sign and date the top section of the application, attach their resume and hand-carry the package to their local civilian personnel section.

"The application only has space to identify one position, but volunteers can apply for up to three openings, so all they need to do is provide the same information for their second and third interest areas on a separate sheet of paper," Kelly said.

From there, civilian personnel will make a recommendation and forward the application to the wing commander or equivalent, and then to the major command functional area manager. The MAJCOM FAM will forward it to the Headquarters Air Force FAM and from there it comes to me," Kelly said.

When all required leadership levels have reviewed and made a recommendation, Kelly will submit the entire package to OSD. If OSD selects an Air Force volunteer for deployment, deployment officials will contact Kelly who will notify the volunteer's commander, who notifies the member.

"Although the application process seems cumbersome, it is designed specifically to give Air Force applicants the best chance for selection and allow leadership to have visibility of their resources," Kelly said. "During the application process, commanders or FAMs can recommend disapproval, but they have to submit significant justification for their recommendation and even then, the application will still be provided to OSD."

Once OSD gets the application, the time it takes to make a selection can vary from a week to six months, depending on the number of applicants, required-in-place dates and other reasons.

"That said, a lot can change in someone's life depending on how long the selection process takes," Kelly said. "Applying for a position doesn't mean that a volunteer will be selected, and if selected, it doesn't mean the member has to go."

This same principle of timeliness also allows the Air Force the chance to object if necessary. If the volunteer does accept an offer, Air Force officials have the opportunity to deny it due to mission impairment. However, denial justification must come from a general officer in the member's chain of command, and justification must clearly show that the volunteer's absence would negatively affect his or her unit's mission, Kelly said.

Members selected and approved for deployment will go through the training necessary to prepare them for the experience and ito mprove survivability in the theater, Kelly said, which might include Combat Airman Skills Training. Following training, deploying civilians will outprocess, just as military deployers do, and will depart for their assignment.

Most deployments are 12 months, which doesn't include time spent in whatever training program is required for the location and position.

The process, Kelly said, can be somewhat lengthy, but for those who are interested in an incomparable experience and a variety of related opportunities, it is worth every minute.

U.S., Canadian defense leaders call F-35 crucial

Calling it crucial to the defense of North America, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Canadian Defense Minister Peter G. MacKay emphasized that both nations are committed to developing the F-35 joint strike fighter.

At a news conference in Nova Scotia on Friday in conjunction with the Halifax International Security Forum, the defense leaders said budget pressures should not stand in the way of fielding the next-generation fighter jet.

Panetta said he's seen media reports that the U.S. is not committed to the joint strike fighter.

"Let me make very clear that the United States is committed to the development of the F-35 and to a cooperative relationship with the F-35 with our Canadian friends," he said. "The F-35 is going to be an essential fighter that will help in (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) and will be the future in helping us with security challenges that we face."

Despite looming budget cuts, Panetta said, the F-35's capabilities are essential.
"I feel very confident that we'll get funding for the F-35 program," he said. "This is the fighter plane for the future, and in some ways, we really have no alternative. This is the plane that is going to be able to provide the technology (and) the capabilities for the future.

"We need to have this (aircraft)," Panetta continued. "It's true for us. It's true for our partners -- not only Canadians, but others -- who are going to work with us and participate with us in the development of the F-35."

Making budget decisions involves looking for savings, the secretary said, citing areas such as procurement reform.

"But we also have to look at areas where we continue to invest in the future, and the F-35 is one of those areas," he added.

MacKay said the "eye-watering technology aboard the F-35" is why Canada has chosen to participate in the program.

"It's the ability to dominate and own the airspace over continental North America," he said. "There is no fifth-generation aircraft other than the F-35 available to Canada and the United States, so all of the hypothetical discussions -- and quite negative discussions, quite frankly -- about this program are really just clatter and noise.

"This program is going ahead," he continued. "Clearly, budgetary pressures are going to lead to speculation. We are dealing with our budgets, as all countries are dealing with this budget, but we are not wavering on our commitment to this program."

Every defense department has certain pillars, MacKay said.

"This is one of those pillars: having the ability to protect your sovereignty. And there is a direct link -- a direct link -- between our national sovereignty and our ability to protect our airspace," he said.

US Marines Return to Roots: Largest Amphib Assault Exercise in 10 Years

Commander, United States Fleet Forces Command hosted the second operational planning team conference (OPT) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek/Fort Story, the week of Nov. 14-18 for Exercise Bold Alligator 2012 (BA-12), scheduled to take place during January and February 2012.

Bold Alligator 2012 represents the Navy and Marine Corps' revitalization of the fundamentals of amphibious operations, strengthening their traditional role as fighters from the sea.

The focus of BA-12 is based on the common goal of Navy and Marine Corps leadership to revitalize, refine and strengthen core amphibious competencies, which are critical to maritime power projection and are a cost-effective option for a wide range of military operations.

History has shown the capabilities that allow the amphibious force to conduct a forced entry landing against an opposing military force are the same capabilities that make it the force of choice for crisis response and building partnerships.

"One of our goals with Bold Alligator is to demonstrate the capabilities amphibious operations bring to the table to a very large audience," said Rear Adm. Kevin Scott, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG 2). "We want to show the value the Navy/Marine Corps team brings to the Department of Defense and the nation. Another goal is to look at what works and what doesn't work and build a foundation for the future."

Bold Alligator 2012, to be conducted under the purview of U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command (MARFORCOM), will be largest multinational naval amphibious exercise conducted in the past 10 years. It will focus on the planning and execution of a brigade-sized amphibious assault from a seabase in a medium threat environment. The underlying scenario of this exercise is designed to emphasize the Navy/Marine Corps capabilities in undeveloped and immature theaters of operations.

Scott said that after ten years of continuous combat operations ashore, the blue-green team is at risk of losing vital amphibious assault corporate knowledge.

"When we were getting ready to send USS Bataan (LHD 5) over to Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn, I had the opportunity to meet and speak to a lot of the young Marines who embarked aboard, and I couldn't find very many of them that had been on a ship before," said Scott. "It's the flexibility that the amphibious Navy gives us that we can't live without. We were on the precipice of losing that corporate knowledge. We have to reinvigorate our tactics, techniques and procedures to align with our current force structure and technical innovations."

According to Brig. Gen. Chris Owens, Commander, 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the Marines are also using BA 12 as a proof of concept to plan what the Marine force of tomorrow will look like.

"We've gotten very heavy during the last ten years of fighting land wars, so we need to look at lightening our load and take a hard look at what Marines are going to bring to the fight," said Owens.

A leaner, meaner Marine Corps also allows them to respond rapidly to a variety of missions.

"Amphibious forces are kind of like a Swiss Army knife," said Owens. "We're able to respond quickly to a variety of situations. Seabasing gives us the ability and the agility to reset quickly after each operation. BA-12 will allow us to explore all these capabilities in a complex but realistic scenario."

Expected to participate in the exercise are an amphibious task force (led by ESG-2) consisting of 10 amphibious ships and four to six combatants; a Marine expeditionary brigade-sized landing force (2d MEB); a carrier strike group (aircraft carrier, embarked air wing and four combatant ships); mine counter measure forces, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) forces, Military Sealift Command (MSC) ships; coalition force elements from several allies, and other commands in the support of amphibious operations.

"Our current fiscal constants have been challenging, but we've been able to maximize our resources. Many of the ships participating in BA-12 are entering their pre-deployment cycles, so they were going to be at sea conducting training regardless," said Owens. "We were able to mesh their required training into our planning for BA-12. In addition to 20,000 Sailors and Marines participating in the live exercise, we are incorporating a number of synthetic scenarios that will broaden the amount of participation and training opportunities to a much wider audience.

"It's important to recognize that while our forces are fairly stressed after 10 years of continuous operations in the Middle East, we recognize that future operations are most likely to take place at sea. If we don't maintain and improve our amphibious capability, we are severely limiting the operational options we can offer the country. This really is the culmination of planning that began in 2007. The commandant of the Marine Corps recognized the need to get Marines back to sea and rebuild our amphibious capability, so this has been a long time coming," said Owens.

U.S. Navy Destroyer Transits on Alternative Fuel Blend

The U.S. Navy successfully concluded its largest demonstration of shipboard alternative fuel use Nov. 17, with the successful arrival of the Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS) to Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme, Calif.

The SDTS is a decommissioned Spruance-class destroyer ex-Paul F. Foster (EDD 964) reconfigured to provide the Navy an at-sea, remotely controlled, engineering test and evaluation platform without the risk to personnel or operational assets.

The ship received approximately 20,000 gallons of a 50-50 blend of an algae-derived, hydro-processed algal oil and petroleum F-76 from the Defense Fuel Supply Point at Naval Base Point Loma, Nov. 16.

"How can we have an impact?" asked Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment) Jackalyne Pfannenstiel at the demonstration's kick-off. "We can have an impact as a technology leader, highlighting and demonstrating the viability of biofuels as we are here today. This demo, the largest to date, is a major milestone for us. More than 50 percent of our fuel goes to maritime use. When this ship arrives in Port Hueneme, we will be a giant step closer to powering our Great Green Fleet and demonstrating progress toward a sustainable energy future."

Shortly after Pfannenstiel's remarks, the ship began its 17-hour transit back to Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme using the 50-50 blend. While the SDTS has four LM 2500 main propulsion gas turbines and four 501-K17 ship service gas turbine generators, the ship only operated on one LM 2500 and two 501-K17s during the demonstration, so 100 percent of ship's propulsion power and 50 percent of service power came from the algal oil/F-76 fuel blend.

Meeting the secretary of the Navy's call for a drop-in fuel replacement, no changes were required to the infrastructure of the ship or fueling pier for the SDTS test. The demonstration also marked the only at-sea operational test of alternative fuels in the LM 2500 - the engine found in most surface combatants - before the Green Strike Group demonstration planned for 2012.

"For the test, a baseline run was made on the ship's transit from Port Hueneme to San Diego using F-76 fuel," said Rick Kamin, Naval Fuels and Lubricants Cross Functional Team lead. "Using the 50-50 blend on the return run to Port Hueneme, the tested engines were assessed on their abilities to perform start sequences as well as motoring and purging operations noted in Engineering Operational Sequencing System procedures.

"We also collected data on compressor inlet temperature, engine speed, engine start time, fuel manifold pressure, turbine outlet temperature, turbine inlet temperature, ship service gas turbine generators power output and gas turbine main engine shaft output."

"From our perspective as the ship's operators, there was absolutely no difference, whatsoever, in the operation or performance of the ship," said Mike Wolfe, Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division underway project officer. "The fuel burned just like the traditional fuel we get from the Navy and have been burning for years. We could not tell the difference. The biggest success is that a Navy ship with engines identical to those in commissioned warships operated successfully on an overnight transit with the alternative fuel without a glitch in anything. Operationally, it was absolutely a success."

The alternative fuels effort supports the Navy's overall energy strategy to increase energy security and safeguard the environment. Recent and upcoming maritime vehicle alternative fuel testing includes an ongoing yard patrol boat demonstration at the U.S. Naval Academy and a Landing Craft, Air-Cushioned vessel demonstration scheduled for early December at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City, Panama City, Fla.

Friday, November 18, 2011

White House threatens to veto defense bill over detainee rules

The White House on Thursday threatened to veto the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act because a series of the bill’s provisions would mandate military custody for some terrorism suspects and prevent the administration from transferring detainees out of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“Any bill that challenges or constrains the President’s critical authorities to collect intelligence, incapacitate dangerous terrorists, and protect the Nation would prompt the President’s senior advisers to recommend a veto,” the White House said in a statement.

The language on detention, which has divided Democrats on Capitol Hill, sets up a clash between Congress and the White House over a measure that would authorize $526 billion for the Defense Department budget.

U.S. Army Tests Secret Hypersonic Weapon

The U.S. Army's hypersonic weapon prototype streaked across the Pacific Ocean at several times the speed of sound Thursday, Nov. 17, in a flawless maiden test flight. The success could pave the way for a new military capability to strike targets anywhere on Earth in as little as an hour.

Such a hypersonic weapon concept flies at a relatively flat trajectory within the atmosphere, rather than soaring up toward space like a ballistic missile and eventually coming back down. Hypersonic speed is defined as being at least five times the speed of sound (3,805 mph, or 6,124 kph, at sea level).

The Army's success Thursday was built upon lessons learned from two hypersonic test flights carried out by the Pentagon's research arm, called DARPA, in April 2010 and August 2011.

The Army's Advanced Hypersonic Weapon launched aboard a three-stage booster system from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai in Hawaii at 6:30 AM ET, deployed for its hypersonic glide, and eventually splashed down in the Reagan Test Site located near the Kwajalein Atoll.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Department of the Navy Updates its Science, Technology Priorities

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) released Nov. 16, the latest update to the Naval Science and Technology (S&T) Strategic Plan, which reflects future naval requirements, including a new emphasis on autonomous systems and current fiscal realities.

"Our superiority at sea demands that we maintain superiority in science, engineering and technology," said Sean J. Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. "Ours is a proud history, marked by great achievement and steady progress in the advancement of power and propulsion, weapon systems development, electronic warfare, and now, unmanned systems. This strategic plan provides a blueprint for our S&T community to move forward rapidly with game-changing ideas in areas where the need is greatest."

The 2011 Naval S&T Strategic Plan communicates how ONR operates as a full service provider of basic and applied research that delivers cutting-edge technology to Sailors and Marines. It has been simplified from those of previous years and reveals a renewed focus on ONR's core competencies of mid- to long-term S&T investments.

Key areas of difference between the 2011 biannual plan and the 2009 version include:

- Updated investment strategy reflecting Department of Defense and Department of the Navy (DON) program guidance.

- New emphasis on speed-to-fleet, which accelerates the insertion of maturing technologies into the naval forces.

- Thirteen S&T Focus Areas are consolidated to nine, including a new category, Autonomy and Unmanned Systems.

- An emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives aimed at increasing the talent pool of future naval scientists and engineers.

"The revision updates our S&T focus areas, aligns investment priorities with higher guidance and provides a more balanced approach to our S&T portfolio," said Dr. Walter F. Jones, ONR executive director.

The plan, issued every two years, reveals how ONR's $1.9 billion budget is allocated and explains the organization's objectives. It reflects the DON's continued commitment to basic research, which is fundamental to sustaining innovation. In addition, the plan reaffirms ONR's long-standing support for the basic research community.

The plan's goals are to align the S&T with the naval mission and future capability needs; balance and manage the Navy's S&T portfolio; and communicate the S&T vision and approach.

The plan is submitted by the chief of naval research and approved by the secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition; Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, then vice chief of naval operations; and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., assistant commandant of the Marine Corps.

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.

Office of Naval Research Welcomes New Chief

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) welcomed their 24th chief of naval research in a change of command ceremony Nov. 17 at the Washington Navy Yard.

Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder relieved Rear Adm. Nevin Carr, who previously led ONR and retired from the Navy after 34 years of service.

"The reality is that when it comes to assigning stewardship of the Navy's research establishment, and with it, the stewardship of our future Navy, we are careful to select only the very best," said Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Sean Stackley.

As head of ONR, Klunder has oversight of the Department of the Navy's $1.9 billion investment in science, technology, research and development efforts. He will manage ONR's broad range of portfolios, including basic and applied research, military technology advancement, youth and university education programs and international scientific partnerships.

"Rear Adm. Klunder has a great background for this job," Carr said. "He has a deep understanding of how we interface with larger programs. I'm very excited about turning over this wonderful organization to such a knowledgeable leader."

Klunder joins ONR after serving as director of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities division in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance in the Pentagon, where he has been responsible for overseeing naval autonomous vehicles and a number of other critical Navy programs. Prior to that post, he was the 83rd commandant of midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Klunder has served at sea as air wing commander of Carrier Air Wing 2, and commanding officer and department head of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1982 and has qualified in the E-2C Hawkeye and the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.

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.

Navy Scientists Discover IED Detection Technique

Thanks to a discovery while researching synthetic aperture radar, detecting improvised explosive devices will now be easier, according to a Nov. 16 announcement by Navy scientists at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD).

Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) provides high-resolution imagery from airborne or space-borne platforms, coupling the long-range propagation characteristics of radar signals and digital electronics. Expected results include improved ability to conduct target detection and discrimination, supporting intelligence analysis.

"New detection techniques will lead to enhanced remote sensing capabilities with immediate application to asymmetric operations and battle space awareness in addition to intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting applications," said Houra Rais, an NSWCDD scientist.

Dahlgren scientists George Rogers and Houra Rais made the discovery while conducting research on an Office of Naval Research-sponsored project focusing on polarimetric synthetic aperture radar that uses multiple polarizations to provide detailed information at the pixel level, the smallest addressable screen element in a display device.

Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Dahlgren is a Naval Sea Systems Command field activity and a research and development center that serves as a specialty site for weapon system integration. The activity rapidly introduces new technology into complex warfighting systems based on its longstanding competencies in science and technology, research and development, and test and evaluation.

PEO LCS Delivers First Riverine Unmanned Surface Vessel

Program Executive Office, Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS), delivered the first three unmanned surface vessels to the U.S. Navy's Riverine Group 1, Nov. 1.

Known as MUSCL, the Modular Unmanned Surface Craft Littoral, is an X-class unmanned surface vessel, designed to reduce risk to manned forces and perform tedious and repetitive surveillance tasks.

MUSCL is a two-man portable craft with capabilities that include intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions that provide real-time monitoring of suspicious vessels, personnel, and activity along waterways, shorelines, and under bridges and piers. The units can be employed from Navy riverine assault or patrol boats.

Riverine Group One personnel will maintain and evaluate the three delivered systems for form, fit and functionality.

PEO LCS is leading system development, production, and delivery of the system in partnership with the Naval Surface Warfare Centers at Panama City, Fla., and Carderock Combatant Craft Division, in Little Creek, Va.

PEO LCS, an affiliated program executive office of Naval Sea Systems Command, provides a single program executive responsible for acquiring and maintaining the littoral mission capabilities of the littoral combat ship class, beginning with procurement, and ending with fleet employment and sustainment. PEO LCS designs, delivers and maintains the systems, equipment and weapons necessary to dominate the littoral battle space and provide U.S. forces with assured access to coastal areas.

'Exoskeletons' Supports Shipyard Work

Navy shipyard workers are becoming modern day "iron men" using "exoskeletons" to maintain the nation's ships at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF), Nov. 3.

Exoskeletons are mechanical supports carried like a backpack that augment a technician's ability to carry and operate heavy mechanical tools. Developed by the Army, the human universal load carrier (HULC)/Zero-G exoskeleton system operates with a balanced zero-g arm technology and titanium legs that transfer physical effort to the ground.

This mechanical assist to the arduous task of grinding has already demonstrated a significant increase in productivity, with initial data indicating grinding operations now require a third of the normally required time.

"I could have gone longer, but I ran out of weld, and the grind disc wore out," said Ransom Spurlock, a PSNS & IMF employee testing the HULC.

Nine PSNS & IMF workers used the system for grinding testing. Benefits indicate improved feathering of the grind to the surrounding base metal with less effort.

One of the testers suffers from Fibromyalgia, a disability that causes muscle and joint fatigue, and the HULC enabled him to perform the task with ease. "I would never try a task like overhead grinding again without a system like this," said Charles W. Osborne, PSNS & IMF employee.

The shipyard intends to use additional systems for drill and drain hull cuts during the next USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) maintenance availability while it continues to work with the Army to develop an industrialized version of the system.

PSNS & IMF is one of four Naval Shipyards - Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va.; Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine; and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash.- that perform logistic support and work in connection with ship construction, conversion, overhaul, repair, alternation, dry docking, outfitting, manufacturing research, redevelopment and test work.

Keel Laid for First DDG 1000 Destroyer

The U.S. Navy laid the keel for its first Zumwalt-class destroyer (DDG 1000), Nov. 17, at General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works shipyard in Bath, Maine.

While keel laying was once traditionally the formal recognition of the start of the ship's construction, today's advanced modular shipbuilding allows fabrication of the ship to begin months before. However, the keel laying continues to symbolically recognize the joining of the ship's components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.

"Keel laying is just the first of many important milestones and events in bringing Zumwalt to life," said Capt. Jim Downey, DDG 1000 program manager, Program Executive Office, Ships. "With the outstanding team we have assembled, I look forward to building on the superb progress we've achieved to date and delivering this extremely capable warship to the Fleet."

The lead ship and class are named in honor of former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo R. "Bud" Zumwalt Jr., who served as chief of naval operations from 1970-1974. The ship's co-sponsors, Ann Zumwalt, Mouzetta Zumwalt-Weathers, and Lt.Col. James G. Zumwalt symbolically authenticated the keel with a plate displaying the initials of all four children of the ship's namesake, including eldest son, the late-Elmo R. Zumwalt III.

Construction began on DDG 1000 in February 2009, and the Navy and its industry partners have worked to mature the ship's design and ready their industrial facilities to build this advanced surface combatant. Zumwalt is currently more than 60 percent complete and scheduled to deliver in fiscal year 2014. Construction on the second ship of the class, Michael Moonsoor (DDG 1001), began March 2010.

Designed for sustained operations in the littorals and land attack, the multi-mission DDG 1000 will provide independent forward presence and deterrence, support special operations forces, and operate as an integral part of joint and combined expeditionary forces. This warship integrates numerous critical technologies, systems, and principles into a complete warfighting system. These include employment of optimal manning through human systems integration, improved quality of life, low operations and support costs, multi-spectral signature reduction, balanced warfighting design, survivability, and adaptability.

Some Troops to Stay in Iraq as Trainers, Top Officer Says

Some United States forces will remain as military trainers on 10 bases in Iraq even after an end-of-year deadline for all American troops to be out of the country, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The forces will provide training in counterterrorism to Iraqis and also instruction in operating American-made tanks and F-16 fighter jets, General Dempsey said. The trainers are expected to remain largely on the bases, “so this isn’t about us moving around the country very much at all,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

General Dempsey did not provide a number, although a military official later said there would be no more than 200 American military personnel in the country. Overall, there will be about 16,000 American Embassy personnel in Iraq, including a large number of civilian contractors as security guards. Currently there are some 24,000 American troops in Iraq.

At a sometimes heated hearing, both General Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta tried to counter criticism from Republicans on the panel that the Obama administration was abandoning Iraq, but also sought to make their case that any military personnel left behind would have limited roles.

Although the Pentagon wanted to leave as many as 20,000 troops in Iraq as a hedge against future violence, President Obama announced last month that all American troops would be home by the end of December.

A U.S. Marine Base for Australia Irritates China


The agreement with Australia amounts to the first long-term expansion of the American military’s presence in the Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War. It comes despite budget cuts facing the Pentagon and an increasingly worried reaction from Chinese leaders, who have argued that the United States is seeking to encircle China militarily and economically.

“It may not be quite appropriate to intensify and expand military alliances and may not be in the interest of countries within this region,” Liu Weimin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in response to the announcement by Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia.

In an address to the Australian Parliament on Thursday morning, Mr. Obama said he had “made a deliberate and strategic decision — as a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future.”

The president said the moves were not intended to isolate China, but they were an unmistakable sign that the United States had grown warier of its intentions.

China has invested heavily in military modernization and has begun to deploy long-range aircraft and a more able deep-sea naval force, and it has asserted territorial claims to disputed islands that would give it broad sway over oil and gas rights in the East and South China Seas.

Karzai Details Vision for Long-Term Partnership With U.S.

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


At turns nationalistic and pragmatic, Mr. Karzai, addressing the loya jirga, the traditional Afghan council gathering, called for a long-term agreement that would put detailed limits on American military operations while ensuring they could continue beyond the present 2014 deadline to withdraw troops. He evoked an image of a nation still fiercely proud, and even dangerous, if weakened by years of war.

“We should be respected as lions on our own soil,” he said, speaking for nearly an hour in a strong voice, although he looked tired. “In this case we are ready to sign a strategic partnership with the United States. If they want military facilities, we are ready to give them, but Afghanistan, its vision, its interests, should be clear.”

If his speech charted a confident path, it was also a very difficult one: trying to keep ambitious neighbors at bay by casting his lot with the Americans, convincing regional leaders hostile to an American presence that it is vital, and pinning the United States down to long-term military and financial help despite a budget crisis and electoral politics in Washington.

“President Karzai seemed to be playing to all constituencies,” said a Western diplomat here, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Karzai spoke in some detail about his terms in the strategic partnership document that his government is negotiating with the United States, giving the clearest outline in some months about his current thinking.

Hamid Karzai tells loya jirga: no US military pact until night raids cease

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


Hamid Karzai has told a national gathering of Afghan elders that he will not sign a much-delayed military pact with the US until night raids by foreign forces come to an end, a demand that threatens to complicate the deal.

In a fiery speech on Wednesday at the opening session of a loya jirga, a grand assembly of more than 2,000 delegates held amid tight security, the Afghan president said continued US military and economic help after the end of the Nato combat mission in 2014 was vital to avoid civil war.

But he presented himself as the leader of a proud country whose sovereignty must be respected, and set firm terms to be met before any deal could be concluded. "We want to have a strong partnership with the US and Nato, but with conditions," he said. "We want our national sovereignty, and an end to night raids and to the detention of our countrymen."

Night raids and Nato-run prisons have long been the main sticking points between the two sides during private negotiations. Some diplomats have predicted the president's rhetoric on the raids could reduce room for compromise and delay the signing of a strategic partnership.

U.S., Australia expand military relations

President Barack Obama joined Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday to announce expanded military-to-military relationships between the two countries as they commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Australia-New Zealand-U.S. alliance.

Speaking at a joint news conference in the Australian capital of Canberra, the leaders announced closer collaboration between the U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force and the Australian Defense Force.

Beginning in mid-2012, company-size rotations of 200 to 250 Marines will begin deploying near Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory for six-month rotations. Gillard said the presence will expand to a force of 2,500 over the next several years.

"As of today's deal, U.S. Marines will be for the first time conducting exercises by themselves on Australian soil," Obama said.

This rotational deployment is significant because it allows the United States and Australia to build capacity and cooperation, the president said.

"But it also allows us to meet the demands of a lot of partners in the region" in terms of training, exercises and "the presence that's necessary to maintain the security architecture of the region," he added.

Obama and Gillard also agreed to provide U.S. military aircraft greater access to Royal Australian Air Force facilities in northern Australia.

The expanded relationship will ensure "we're going to be in a position to more effectively strengthen the security of both of our nations and this region," Obama said.

It also will ensure an ability to respond faster to crises and provide humanitarian and disaster relief, he said. "This will allow us to be able to respond in a more timely fashion and also equip a lot of smaller countries who may not have the same capacity," he said. "It allows us to equip them so that they can respond more quickly as well."

The expanded U.S.-Australia military relationship also "sends a clear message of our commitment to this region, a commitment that is enduring and unwavering" the president said.

"I am making it clear that the United States is stepping up its commitment to the entire Asia-Pacific [region]," the president said, thanking Australia for its leadership role in the region.

"As it has been for six decades" he continued, "our alliance is going to be indispensable to our shared future, the security we need and the prosperity that we seek, not only in this region, but around the world."

The talks in Australia spanned a range of challenges that extend beyond the region, including the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan, the president said.

"Obviously, this has not been an easy mission for either of our countries," he said, expressing condolences for Australia's fallen. "But we both understand what's at stake -- what happens when al-Qaida has safe havens. We've seen the awful loss of life, from 9/11 to Bali."

Obama cited progress in the transition process in Afghanistan as security responsibility is transferred to Afghan security forces.

"But it's important that we do it right," he said. "Given the enormous investment that's been made and the signs that we can, in fact, leave behind a country that's not perfect, but one that is more stable, more secure and does not provide safe haven for terrorists, it's appropriate for us to finish the job and do it right."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

US to base Marines in Australia, rankling China

The United States will deploy up to 2,500 Marines to Australia as the nations expand their 60-year-old military alliance, President Barack Obama said Wednesday in a move that rankled China.

Stressing the rising economic influence of the Asia-Pacific, Obama told reporters in Canberra he was stepping up Washington's commitment to the region, undaunted by China, which he said America did not fear.

The deployment of US Marines to Australia's tropical north came as the allies adapted their military posture to face a new security era marked by the rise of China, which sparked an immediate negative response from Beijing.

The leaders also agreed to enhance cooperation between their air forces that will result in increased rotations of US aircraft through northern Australia, which is closer to Asia than it is to Sydney and Melbourne.

Raytheon SDB II Warhead Exceeds Test Requirements

The warhead for Raytheon's Small Diameter Bomb II performed at twice what was required during a series of recent tests. The test marked the first demonstration of an SDB II warhead built on a fully-automated production line.

SDB II is the world's first weapon capable of engaging fixed or moving targets around-the-clock in adverse weather conditions from a range of greater than 40 nautical miles (approximately 46 statute miles).

"SDB II is affordable because we designed it to be low cost, producible, and meet government specifications. Exceeding those requirements at no extra cost is good for the taxpayer and warfighter," said Harry Schulte, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems' Air Warfare Systems.

"We are determined to keep SDB II on cost and ahead of schedule because the warfighter needs, but doesn't have, an air-launched weapon that can engage moving targets in adverse weather."

Weighing in at 30,000 pounds, a new bomb for US

The US Air Force has a new 30,000-pound bomb in its arsenal designed to penetrate targets buried deep underground, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The Air Force started taking delivery of the giant bomb, the "Massive Ordnance Penetrator," in September, said Lieutenant Colonel Jack Miller.

Under an August 2 contract worth $32 million, the aerospace firm Boeing is due to produce eight of the giant MOP bombs to fulfil the Air Force's "operational needs," according to Miller.

The Air Force could not say how many of the conventional bombs have been delivered so far, but the MOP is seen as a weapon made for going after underground bunkers and tunnels in North Korea or Iran.

Boeing Receives Phase II Contract for High Power Adaptive Optic System

Boeing has received a contract from the U.S. Department of Defense's High Energy Laser - Joint Technology Office (HEL-JTO) to continue development of a prototype High Power Adaptive Optic system.

The objective of this follow-on, 15-month contract is to apply adaptive optic technology to high energy laser tactical systems. The value of this contract is not being disclosed.

Traditional "adaptive optics" were originally developed for use in astronomers' telescopes to correct for the blurry image that occurs when wind or other turbulence distorts wavelengths of light from a star or other astronomical object.

Similarly, the objective of the High Power Adaptive Optic system is to minimize atmospheric distortion in order to increase the amount of energy - in this case laser energy - applied to a target.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

US Forces Leave Balad Air Base

What was once a bustling hub for U.S. operations in Iraq has now transitioned into a quiet and empty shell of its former self.

In accordance with a 2008 security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq, Joint Base Balad was transitioned to the government of Iraq and the U.S. military presence has vanished.

Brig. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, said he was extremely satisfied with the work Airmen at JB Balad have done with transitioning the baseAll the pieces of equipment that made the communications footprint function transitioned through here."

Kane said equipment such as computers, printers, scanners, monitors and telephones were all sent to other U.S. Central Command installations for further use.

In addition to redistributing communications equipment, JB Balad Airmen at the 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron processed all vehicles on base as part of the transition.

"Like any other equipment, the base cannot transition without these vehicles being transferred to the Iraqi government or shipped out to one of 30 deployed locations," said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Lorow, the 332nd ELRS vehicle maintenance superintendent.

According to Lorow, all vehicles were given a four-hour inspection to check for function capabilities and ensure they were both mechanically and cosmetically serviceable.

"We had people here until the last day," Lorow said. "The Iraqi government didn't want to come into a junkyard and we made sure that didn't happen."

During the course of the U.S. operations in Iraq, JB Balad provided top cover for U.S. and coalition forces. F-16 Fighting Falcons, C-130 Hercules, MC-12 Liberties, HH-60 rescue helicopters and MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted vehicles all once called JB Balad home. It was the second largest installation in Iraq and housed the Air Force Theater Hospital, which boasted a 98 percent survival rate for the more than 35,000 U.S. troops who were treated here.

"Over the course of the more than eight years at JB Balad, Airmen have done something very special and worthy," Neubauer said. "There were some very challenging circumstances to overcome here, and I want our countrymen to appreciate the sacrifices of our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines and be proud of them."20inspection to check for function capabilities and ensure they were both mechanically and cosmetically serviceable.

"We had people here until the last day," Lorow said. "The Iraqi government didn't want to come into a junkyard and we made sure that didn't happen."

During the course of the U.S. operations in Iraq, JB Balad provided top cover for U.S. and coalition forces. F-16 Fighting Falcons, C-130 Hercules, MC-12 Liberties, HH-60 rescue helicopters and MQ-1B Predator remotely piloted vehicles all once called JB Balad home. It was the second largest installation in Iraq and housed the Air Force Theater Hospital, which boasted a 98 percent survival rate for the more than 35,000 U.S. troops who were treated here.

"Over the course of the more than eight years at JB Balad, Airmen have done something very special and worthy," Neubauer said. "There were some very challenging circumstances to overcome here, and I want our countrymen to appreciate the sacrifices of our Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines and be proud of them."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Army Advances Smartphone Strategy

Military IT leadership has been increasingly talking about equipping soldiers with smartphones, and now the Army's 5th Signal Command, via a procurement run by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), is looking at the possibility of buying thousands of mobile devices in a move that could help get that strategy up and running.
DISA Tuesday issued a request for information to do market research ahead of the impending expiration of two communications contracts now in place. It plans to consolidate the existing contracts into a new contract that will provide wireless services and hardware to soldiers across Europe.

The Army's 5th Signal Command, which manages network and communications operations for the Army, has been a vocal supporter of the Army's mobile strategy, which, among other things, includes plans for an application marketplace reminiscent of Apple's AppStore. On the About page of the 5th Signal Command's website, the only content under the heading "Vision" is an image of an iPhone with various mobile apps.

In addition to standard phone features, the RFI asks for BlackBerrys, "emerging smartphones included but not limited to 4G devices such as Androids [and] iPhones," tablet computers, and wireless broadband access devices like wireless aircards and personal hotspot devices.

$130B Hit for U.S. Modernization

About half of the $260 billion in U.S. defense spending cuts over the next five years will come from weapon modernization accounts, according to defense analysts.

Roughly $60 billion - about 25 percent - of the cuts will come from efficiencies, while another $60 billion or so will come from reductions in force structure, said Emerson Gardner, a retired lieutenant general who served as the principal deputy director of the Pentagon's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office until last year.

The remainder of the cuts are expected to target modernization coffers, which include procurement and research-and-development accounts, Gardner - now a senior defense adviser for Potomac Research Group - told an audience in New York Nov. 10 at the 2011 Defense Outlook Forum, hosted by Bank of America Merrill Lynch in association with Defense News.

The $260 billion figure refers to cuts already ordered, not potential further cuts resulting from congressional debt reduction.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

U.S. to Build Up Military in Australia

President Barack Obama will announce an accord for a new and permanent U.S. military presence in Australia when he visits next week, a step aimed at countering China's influence and reasserting U.S. interest in the region, said people familiar with his plans.

The agreement will lead to an increase in U.S. naval operations off the coast of Australia and give American troops and ships "permanent and constant" access to Australian facilities, the people said. While no new American bases will be built under the plan, the arrangement will allow U.S. forces to place equipment in Australia and set up more joint exercises, they said.

The move could help the U.S. military, now concentrated in Japan and South Korea in Northeast Asia, to spread its influence west and south across the region, including the strategically and economically important South China Sea, which China considers as its sovereign territory.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

U.S. seeks to manage global economic shift to China

The United States must develop new transpacific trade and investment agreements to channel China's huge economic power into a "rules-based" international system that benefits all, a top State Department official said on Monday.

As President Barack Obama prepares for two Asia-Pacific summits next week, Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats said the global economic shift toward Asia had highlighted new challenges as Washington's budget crunch prompts questions about U.S. economic and political strength.

"There's competition between the American economic model and the more state-centered economic model of China and other countries," Hormats told the Reuters Washington Summit.

"What is very important as we look at ourselves and our relationship to the world is to demonstrate that our economic model continues to work and continues to deliver," he said.

Hormats, the top U.S. diplomat for international economic policy, said Beijing's influence was rising around the world including in Europe, where officials hope China may support a European bailout fund by investing some of its $3.2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves.

Washington would not see a Chinese rescue plan as a threat, Hormats said, but hoped European leaders would not make concessions on economic or foreign policy principles to tap into Chinese largesse.

"The Europeans are going to have to decide what commitments or what concessions they want to make in order to get this money," he said, speaking at Reuters' Washington office. "They are quite aware that money doesn't come free in this world and they have to make the judgment as to the right balance."

US weapons 'full of fake Chinese parts'

The US Senate Armed Services Committee said its researchers had uncovered 1,800 cases in which the Pentagon had been sold electronics that may be counterfeit.

In total, the committee said it had found more than a million fake parts had made their way into warplanes such as the Boeing C-17 transport jet and the Lockheed Martin C-130J "Super Hercules".

It also found fake components in Boeing's CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter and the Theatre High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile defence system.

"A million parts is surely a huge number. But I want to repeat this: we have only looked at a portion of the defence supply chain. So those 1,800 cases are just the tip of the iceberg," said Senator Carl Levin.

In around seven in 10 cases, the fake parts originated in China, while investigators traced another 20 per cent of cases to the United Kingdom and Canada, known resale points for Chinese counterfeits.

Song Xiaojun, a former Peoples' Liberation Army officer who has become a nationalistic commentator in the Chinese media said the US had "got itself into the position it is in".

"The US has been dismantling its factories since the 1960s," he said. "And since the Clinton government, the US has turned a blind eye towards military requisitioning. As it keeps cutting its procurement budget, weapons dealers will keep providing cheaper quality products," he added. "This attack on China is political, given the forthcoming elections. But it should not be blaming China, this is a free market issue. The only solution the US has is to buy its components from Korea or Japan instead, but then its costs will rise a hundredfold."

Major attack would damage US-Pakistan alliance

Another major attack on American interests in Afghanistan by Pakistan-based militant groups would greatly damage the alliance with Islamabad, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

The official was voicing Washington's frustrations with Pakistan and its failure to tackle safe havens in its territory that militant groups such as the Haqqani network use to launch attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The official specifically referred to an attack in September on an American base in Wardak province that wounded 77 American troops and a 20-hour siege of the U.S. embassy in Kabul that killed nine.

"A spectacular raid or a set of spectacular mis-steps, which are possible, could take the relationship much more in a direction that would be detrimental for both countries," the official said from Islamabad, requesting anonymity because of the sensitivity of the relationship.

Both attacks were blamed on the Haqqanis. The former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral, Mike Mullen, has said the Haqqanis are a "veritable arm" of Islamabad's top spy agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

U.S. Army to slash jobs in Europe

The U.S. Army in Europe said it will cut 1,000 civilian jobs in the next year with more reductions to come, amid budget cuts and the winding down of two wars.

Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the Army Installation Management Command-Europe commander, said seven garrisons will be downsized and three garrisons eliminated, the Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday.

The IMCOM-E will slash 606 civilian positions, 401 of those slated for local nationals, and 205 Army civilian jobs, the newspaper said.

The U.S. Army In Europe will slash 432 civilian jobs -- 214 earmarked for Army civilians and 218 targeted for local nationals, officials said.

Fake weapons parts 'ticking time bomb'

"Sprinkling" sounds like a fairly harmless practice, but in the hands of sophisticated counterfeiters it could deceive a major weapons manufacturer and possibly endanger the lives of U.S. troops.

It's a process of mixing authentic electronic parts with fake ones in hopes that the counterfeits will not be detected when companies test the components for multimillion-dollar missile systems, helicopters and aircraft. It was just one of the brazen steps described Tuesday at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing examining the national security and economic implications of suspect counterfeit electronics — mostly from China — inundating the Pentagon's supply chain.

"The failure of a single electronic part can leave a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine vulnerable at the worst possible time," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the committee. "A flood of counterfeit electronic parts has made it a lot harder to have confidence that won't happen."

Company executives, a Defense Department official, government investigator and a representative from the semiconductor industry testified before the committee about a "ticking time bomb" of suspect counterfeit electronics ending up in weapons system. They described counterfeiters operating openly in China, with Beijing unwilling to crack down on the deception.

Missing from the long list of witnesses at the hours-plus hearing was a representative from China. Levin said the panel wrote the ambassador, but he declined to send someone to testify.

The committee's ongoing investigation found about 1,800 cases of suspect counterfeit electronics being sold to the Pentagon. The total number of parts in these cases topped 1 million. By the semiconductor industry's estimates, counterfeiting costs $7.5 billion a year in lost revenue and about 11,000 U.S. jobs.

'Nigerian Taliban' threat prompts US military training

The US army provided counter-insurgency training to Nigerian troops battling a rise in attacks by Islamist militants, the Nigerian military has revealed.

More than 100 people have been killed in recent days by the radical Muslim sect Boko Haram, dubbed the "Nigerian Taliban", in Nigeria's north-east. One rights activist described it as "a state of armed Islamist insurgency" likely to spread.

Nigeria has sought to crush the group with military force but faces criticism from human rights activists for alleged extra-judicial killings.

The military said some battalions had received training in the US. "The army is in the process of setting up a division that is effectively looking at warfare tactics," a spokesman said. "Various battalions were in the United States earlier this year for training to that end."

It is though these include specialist units such as bomb disposal.

US officials confirmed it has a longstanding deal with Nigeria with soldiers travelling to America for training. It could not comment on whether the exercises was aimed at combating Boko Haram.

The US embassy in Abuja said: "We have had a mil-mil relationship with the Nigerians for decades, principally supporting their peacekeeping efforts in Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Darfur) and around the globe. In recent years, and at their request, we have also worked with them on their nascent counter-force. We do not know if any of these elements have been deployed in the north."

Boko Haram has overtaken militants in the oil-rich Niger delta as the country's main security problem. Loosely modelled on the Taliban in Afghanistan, it became active in 2003 and is focused mainly in the impoverished northern states of Yobe, Kano, Bauchi and Borno.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kuwait denies US troops deployment report

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

Kuwait on Sunday denied reports it would boost the number of US troops in the country as they withdraw from Iraq.

Receiving well wishers on the Eid, Shaikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah said that there were no plans to base more US troops on the Boubyan Island or on the mainland as they pull out of neighboring Iraq.

Shaikh Jaber, quoted by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna), said that the US military presence in his country was ruled by bilateral agreements and that there were no plans to increase it.

Kuwait would be a mere crosspoint for US forces as they withdraw from Iraq, the minister said.

British troops plan larger role in Helmand to cover US withdrawal

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


British forces are planning to take responsibility for a larger area of Helmand province to cover parts affected by the withdrawal of thousands of US troops from Afghanistan.

Increasing the so-called "battlespace" will not lead to more British troops being sent to the region, but it will mean the 9,000 personnel still in the province will be spread more thinly.

One area the UK is unlikely to return to is Sangin, where 99 British troops died during some of the bloodiest fighting after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

It is thought British officials have made clear to the top brass at US Central Command (Centcom) that this would be a PR disaster in the UK, reviving memories of the initial deployment to Afghanistan, which left a small number of troops trying to secure a vast territory overrun with Taliban insurgents.

Military planners have known since the summer that the Americans are likely to cut the number of US marines in Helmand, as part of the 27,000 personnel that Barack Obama pledged to return home by September 2012. There are 20,000 US marines in Helmand, but the US is considering slashing that to 6,000 – one Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) unit.

British troops would have to extend operations outside the central areas around the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, and move further south and north.

Army Re Heavier Humvees; 'We Don't Know If They Can Do It'

There is growing concern within the Army that industry won't be able to give the service what it wants for its improved Humvee fleet.

"We have tested some of the [upgraded Humvees] already and they did not prove out," said an Army official with knowledge of the program. "We don't know if they can do it," the official said of ongoing industry efforts. The Army will continue to entertain industry offers for the Modernized Expanded Capability Vehicle program, according to the official. But the proposals already on the table have been less than stellar, the official said Friday.

The Army is capping the number of Humvees it plans to upgrade in the coming years in order to get its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle into the field faster. The official made clear the decision was not tied to the lackluster performance of the modified Humvees. The Army plans to modernize between 5,000 to 6,000 Humvees, and they are meant only for its air assault units, the official said. The Army initially wanted to upgrade between 60,000 to 100,000 Humvees under the MECV program, industry sources told me. Now the Army plans to build roughly 50,000 JLTVs to flesh out its light tactical vehicle fleet. "The JLTV is the modernization piece for the light [combat vehicle] fleet. The MECV [only] goes after a piece of it," the official said."We are hoping the [Humvee] will get us there for our airborne and air assault forces."

Monday, November 7, 2011

Opposition Grows To Next Stage Of U.S. Military Presence In Afghanistan

The Afghan government is pushing for a draft agreement for a small, long-term U.S. military presence in Afghanistan -- and one newly formed Afghan political group is pushing back.

The proposed agreement was jointly drafted over the course of many months by representatives of the U.S. and Afghan governments. It is intended to update the current security agreement signed in 2005, and would outline the U.S. military role in Afghanistan after 2014. The draft received a lukewarm endorsement this week from the Afghan Security Council, which told the cabinet that it was satisfied with most of the terms.

Not so for the National United Front, a newly formed alliance of former mujahedin leaders and clerics that took the agreement as a call for protest. In an apparent effort to present the protest as representative of not only religious voices, but of the secular intelligentsia as well, the avenue directly in front of Kabul University was chosen as the site of a rally held on October 24.

Hundreds came out to protest, which organizer Wahid Mozhdah says was aimed at highlighting their belief that a long-term U.S. presence in Afghanistan could only guarantee continued conflict.

Speaking to RFE/RL on October 25, Mozhdah questioned how, if nearly 130,000 international troops currently serving in his country cannot provide security, could a lower number of troops succeed after 2014?

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

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Top Afghanistan commander removed for remarks to POLITICO

Major Gen. Peter Fuller, a top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was relieved of his duties Friday after comments he made to POLITICO disparaging Afghan President Hamid Karzai and calling the government’s leaders “isolated from reality.”

Gen. John Allen, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, ousted Fuller following what the coalition called his “inappropriate public comments.”

“These unfortunate comments are neither indicative of our current solid relationship with the government of Afghanistan, its leadership, or our joint commitment to prevail here in Afghanistan,” Allen said in a statement.

“The Afghan people are an honorable people, and comments such as these will not keep us from accomplishing our most critical and shared mission — bringing about a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan,” he added.

Fuller was the deputy commander of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan and responsible for training Afghan security forces.

In a Thursday interview with POLITICO, Fuller, a two-star general, slammed Karzai’s recent remark that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in a war against the U.S

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lawmakers Aim to Stop Defense Cuts if Debt Panel Fails

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, has drafted a bill that would replace the military reductions that would occur under a process known in Congress as sequestration with 5 percent cuts to other, unspecified parts of the federal budget, and a 10 percent decrease in pay for members of Congress. In the House, similar measures are being assembled.

“If the joint select committee does not do what it needs to do,” said Representative K. Michael Conaway, a Texas Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, “most of us will move heaven and earth to find an alternative that prevents a sequester from happening.”

After listening to dire predictions by the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the effects of automatic cuts, Representative John Garamendi, Democrat of California, was even more blunt. “The sequester will never take place,” he said. “It’s not going to happen.”

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate and a member of the deficit-reduction panel, has repeatedly said he has no intention of letting such cuts occur. Some House members said they were being urged by military contractors and others in their districts to avert such reductions.

Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the panel, said the attempt to undo the triggers “reflects a total lack of seriousness.” Adding that such efforts would not be successful, he said they were “the result of people trying to escape the fundamental choices before us, and one of those choices is whether or not we are willing to end special interest tax breaks to pay for defense.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

USGeneral Says: Afghan leaders out of touch

A senior U.S. Army officer in Afghanistan called key elements of the government “isolated from reality,” said they don’t appreciate America’s sacrifice for their nation and offered up some choice words for President Hamid Karzai.

Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller, deputy commander of the American-led NATO effort to train and equip Afghan security forces, told POLITICO in an interview that top leaders in the Afghan government had not fully recognized the sacrifices in “treasure and blood” that the U.S. was making for their security and recalled that a senior Afghan official even demanded the transfer of tanks just so they could be used for parades.

The two-star general flashed irritation when he brought up Karzai’s recent remarks that Afghanistan would side with Pakistan in a war against the U.S., blasting the president’s comments as “erratic,” and adding, “Why don’t you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You’ve got to be kidding me … I’m sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you’re telling me, ‘I don’t really care’?”

“When they are going to have a presidential election, you hope they get a guy that’s more articulate in public,” Fuller said during a visit to Washington for a conference.

Karzai is term-limited and will not be running for another term. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Karzai’s remarks have been misunderstood.

Fuller recently involved Afghan generals in a strategic review of the U.S. mission and said that they didn’t understand the extent to which America is in economic distress.