Thursday, May 31, 2012

War Funds Face Automatic Cuts in January, Pentagon Says

Funds for war operations, including in Afghanistan, face automatic cuts in January if Congress and the White House don’t agree on ways to reduce the deficit, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The Pentagon reversed earlier statements that the war spending, known as overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding, wouldn’t be subject to automatic cuts. The cuts called sequestration were mandated under the Budget Control Act of 2011, which created a special congressional committee and required automatic reductions when it failed in November to agree on ways to cut the deficit.

“Upon further review of the law and after consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, the department now agrees that OCO funding is not exempt from sequester,” Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said today in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg Government.

The prospect of cuts in funds for U.S. forces at war may add urgency to efforts to pass legislation averting the automatic reductions that would cut total Pentagon spending by $55 billion in fiscal 2013. The administration has requested $88.5 billion in war funding for the fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

Boeing Delivers First EA-18G Growler Featuring Cockpit Subassembly Made in India

Boeing delivered to the U.S. Navy the first EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft on May 3, with a cockpit subassembly produced by Bangalore-based Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). The subassembly provides cockpit floodlighting compatible with the aircraft's Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS).

Boeing awarded BEL an initial contract in March 2011 for work on Super Hornet cockpit subassemblies. That contract included options to renew annually for up to four years. As a result of BEL's demonstrated performance, Boeing recently exercised an option to renew the contract for another year.

"BEL continues to demonstrate its capabilities and its position as a valued partner to Boeing," said Dennis Swanson, vice president of International Business Development for Boeing Defense, Space and Security in India.

China nukes no 'direct threat,' says US commander

China's nuclear weapons do not pose a "direct threat" to the United States, the man in charge of America's arsenal said Wednesday in calling for greater dialogue with the Chinese.

"We would like to have routine contact and conversations with China's military," General Robert Kehler, head of Strategic Command, which oversees US nuclear deterrence, told the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

"We think there would be tremendous benefit to that in both China and the United States, in particular to help us avoid some misunderstanding or some tension in the future."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Commentary: Alarm bells in the U.S.

by Arnaud de Borchgrave

Gen. David Richards, the British chief of staff, in the understatement of the week, says the strategic landscape is "worrying" and the outlook "bleak."

The United States as the world's strongest geopolitical player has become ungovernable, saddled with a dysfunctional Congress. House and Senate together, with 535 members, maintain 250 committees and subcommittees and micromanage muscular government decisions into unworkable policy directives.

No fewer than 108 committees have oversight jurisdiction on Homeland Security.

US to renew naval power in Asia-Pacific: Panetta

The United States will renew its naval power across the Asia-Pacific region and stay "vigilant" in the face of China's growing military, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday.

On the eve of a trip to Asia that will include stops in Singapore, Vietnam and India, Panetta said in a speech that the country's future depended on ensuring security throughout the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

"America is a maritime nation, and we are returning to our maritime roots," Panetta told graduates of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

"One of the key projects that your generation will have to face is sustaining and enhancing American strength across the great maritime region of the Asia-Pacific," he said.

US military denies parachuting into N. Korea

The US military Tuesday vehemently denied a media report that special forces had been parachuted into North Korea on intelligence-gathering missions, saying a source had been misquoted.

Current affairs magazine The Diplomat quoted Brigadier General Neil Tolley, commander of special forces in South Korea, as saying soldiers from the US and South Korea had been dropped across the border for "special reconnaissance" missions.

But Colonel Jonathan Withington, public affairs officer for US Forces Korea, said some reporting of the conference had taken Tolley "completely out of context".

"Quotes have been made up and attributed to him," he said, denying that any US or South Korean forces had parachuted into the North.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Army seeks to replace combat vehicles, but it won't be easy

After more than a decade of war, the Army wants to replace combat vehicles worn out from millions of miles in rugged terrain in Iraq and Afghanistan or blown up by roadside bombs. However, budget and political concerns likely will force the service to repair older vehicles instead, USA Today reported.

The Army wants vehicles whose armor can protect troops yet are maneuverable enough for the urban warfare that is increasingly common. That combination will be expensive, and right now politicians and the Defense Department are trying to find ways to save money, not spend it.

Compunding the problem, USA Today said, is that the Army hasn't had much luck in fielding new vehicles in recent years:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Boeing to Modernize Flight Deck and Avionics for US and NATO AWACS Fleets

Boeing has received a $368 million Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) contract to develop a design that modernizes the flight deck and avionics of the U.S. and NATO E-3 707 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft fleet.

The contract, awarded by the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the second phase of a cooperative program between the U.S. Air Force and NATO. The initial phase included subsystem requirements reviews completed in March.

Under the EMD contract, Boeing will integrate new and existing avionics and communications systems; develop a design to install the new equipment; upgrade one aircraft for each AWACS fleet; flight-test the new systems; develop logistics support data; and train flight crews and maintenance personnel.

Clinton, Panetta urge US Senate to ratify sea treaty

Clinton and Pentagon chief Leon Panetta urged the Senate on Wednesday to ratify a UN treaty on the law of the sea, arguing it was vital for the country's economic and military interests.

President Barack Obama's administration has launched a fresh push for approval of the treaty, saying major US industries are losing out on commercial opportunities and Washington's diplomatic leadership is being undermined by the Senate's failure to ratify the convention.

"We are on the sidelines," Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"We believe it is imperative to act now," she said.

Both Clinton and Panetta said the treaty was needed to bolster US credibility as it seeks to counter Beijing's claims in the South China Sea as well as Iran's threats over oil shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Researchers Improve Fast-Moving Mobile Networks

Mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs) allow people in multiple, rapidly-moving vehicles to communicate with each other - such as in military or emergency-response situations. Researchers from North Carolina State University have devised a method to improve the quality and efficiency of data transmission in these networks.

"Our goal was to get the highest data rate possible, without compromising the fidelity of the signal," says Dr. Alexandra Duel-Hallen, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work.

Transmitting data within MANETs is challenging because every node that transmits and receives data is in motion - and the faster they are moving, the harder it is for the network to identify effective relay "paths" for transmitting data. This is because the power of the data-transmission channels fluctuates much more rapidly at high speed.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Secretary Clinton to Deliver the Keynote Address at the Gala Dinner for the International Special Operations Forces Week

On Wednesday, May 23rd, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the Gala Dinner for the International Special Operations Forces Week at the Tampa Convention Center.

The dinner, hosted by Admiral William H. McRaven and the United States Special Operations Command, will bring together delegates from 96 nations. The conference will focus on building the global Special Operations Forces partnership.

American, Russian soldiers train in Colorado

Twenty-two Russian army paratroopers are in Colorado for two weeks of training with the 10th Special Forces Group at Fort Carson, a post outside Colorado Springs.The two nations’ militaries have been conducting joint exercises for years, but this is believed to be the first time Russian soldiers have trained on U.S. soil, Lt. Col. Steven Osterholzer said.

The Russians and Americans are training together on basic soldier skills ranging from firing weapons to making parachute drops, said Osterholzer, a public affairs officer for the 10th Special Forces Group.

It’s the first step toward joint exercises in more complicated anti-terrorism operations such as helicopter drops, he said.

“This is the shake-hands, get-to-know-you kind of thing,” Osterholzer said. “What this is not is a massive counterterrorism exercise.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

DARPA's SeeMe Program Has Arrived

On May 9, 2012, DARPA released its latest Broad Agency Announcement (DARPA-BAA-12-35) for a program called, "SeeMe," which is an acronym for Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements. Bidders will be competing for a total of roughly $45M to be distributed via multiple awards.

The goal of this program is to provide needed on-demand imagery directly to the warfighter in the field from a very-low-cost satellite constellation in a timely manner. Such a program will fill current gaps in critical information prior to, during and after military engagements.

There are obvious significant advantages in closing this information gap with persistent coverage and on-demand delivery in terms of driving up mission success probability and reducing personnel risk.

If successful, the SeeMe program will provide reliable and persistent information by using small, short-lived, very-low-cost satellites at very low altitudes, integrated into existing communications systems and handheld platforms.

Aegis Combat System Showcases Integrated Air and Missile Defense Capabilities

Lockheed Martin's Aegis Combat System recently demonstrated simultaneous anti-air warfare and ballistic missile defense capabilities during its first integrated air and missile defense test.

The successful test verified the capabilities of the most recent upgrade to the Aegis system, known as Baseline 9, which will provide integrated air and missile defense for the U.S. Navy's fleet to engage multiple threats at the same time.

This test also marks the first time the Aegis system has used the multi-mission signal processor (MMSP) in a real-world environment where external aircraft are "jamming" the system.

"It's an exciting time to be part of Aegis' evolution," said Jim Sheridan, director of Aegis Baseline 9 programs for Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Sensors business.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Former Commander of U.S. Nuclear Forces Calls for Large Cut in Warheads

Gen. James E. Cartwright, the retired vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former commander of the United States’ nuclear forces, is adding his voice to those who are calling for a drastic reduction in the number of nuclear warheads below the levels set by agreements with Russia.

General Cartwright said that the United States’ nuclear deterrence could be guaranteed with a total arsenal of 900 warheads, and with only half of them deployed at any one time. Even those in the field would be taken off hair triggers, requiring 24 to 72 hours for launching, to reduce the chance of accidental war.

That arsenal would be a significant cut from the current agreement to limit Russia and the United States to 1,550 deployed warheads each, down from 2,200, within six years. Under the New Start agreement, thousands more warheads can be kept in storage as a backup force, and the restrictions do not apply to hundreds of short-range nuclear weapons in the American and Russian arsenals.

“The world has changed, but the current arsenal carries the baggage of the cold war,” General Cartwright said in an interview. “There is the baggage of significant numbers in reserve. There is the baggage of a nuclear stockpile beyond our needs. What is it we’re really trying to deter? Our current arsenal does not address the threats of the 21st century.”

The proposals are contained in a report to be issued Wednesday by Global Zero, a nuclear policy organization, signed by General Cartwright and several senior national security figures, including Richard Burt, a former chief nuclear arms negotiator; Chuck Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska; Thomas R. Pickering, a former ambassador to Russia; and Gen. John J. Sheehan, who held senior NATO positions before retiring from active duty.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Air Force Space Command realigns cyberspace capabilities

The Air Force Network Integration Center will go through a restructure as it divests cyberspace lead command functions to Air Force Space Command to allow AFNIC to focus on its core mission of Air Force network integration and engineering services.

The changes are a result of an AFSPC chartered study in April 2011 that took a detailed look at AFNIC in order to determine how best to align and incorporate its unique cyberspace capabilities into AFSPC's organization and mission. The study was conducted by a diverse, cross-functional team consisting of AFSPC and AFNIC representatives.

General William L. Shelton, commander of AFSPC, adopted the study recommendations and directed they be implemented.

The study looked across the entire organization focusing on efficient and effective operations. Any civilian position reductions were included in Air Force-wide civilian reduction numbers previously announced by the Air Force in November 2011. The personnel affected by the civilian reduction are being supported by the local Civilian Personnel Section at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Any military position reductions were included in the Air Force's recent overall force structure announcement.

Specific restructuring actions will concentrate AFNIC resources on its core mission of network integration and engineering responsibilities for the Air Force Network and divest the remaining responsibilities to other organizations to better align them within the structure of AFSPC. This will make AFNIC a leaner and more efficient center for the Air Force.

Current organize, train and equip staff functions within AFNIC, such as records, forms,
publications, cyber training programs, cyber requirements support, plans, and maintenance policy, will transfer to an AFSPC Cyberspace Support Squadron (CYSS), which stood up today at Scott AFB.

Oversight of current line operations and maintenance functions at AFNIC will transfer to AFSPC organizations managed by 24th Air Force, which is headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio -- Lackland, Texas. These functions include operationally-based line activities, such as DISN long haul communications provisioning, transmission and infrastructure systems technical support, and Information Assurance Assessments.

Some of these functions will be realigned to an existing squadron within 24th AF, the 92nd Information Operations Squadron, and an additional squadron, the 38th Cyber Readiness Squadron to oversee other operational functions. Both units stood up at Scott AFB on April 27.

"As the lead major command for space and cyberspace, Air Force Space Command is chartered to organize, train and equip space and cyberspace forces and is tasked to review and efficiently use the resources assigned to the command," said Lt.Gen. Michael J. Basla, vice commander of Air Force Space Command.

"These changes will allow AFNIC to focus on its core mission and ultimately make AFNIC the premier Air Force organization providing network integration and engineering services for the Air Force. Those individuals whose responsibilities are aligned to other units in Air Force Space Command will be in a position to make an even greater impact on the Air Force cyberspace mission."

Fighting Pirates: There's an App for That

The Department of Defense will begin funding an Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored project aimed at developing Web applications to help multinational navies police the world's oceans, officials announced May 14.

The International Collaborative Development for Enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness (ICODE MDA) was one of 14 projects selected by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to receive $1 million awards beginning this fall through the Coalition Warfare Program, which funds international collaborative research efforts.

The ICODE MDA project is a research alliance between ONR and Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific). ONR is partnering with scientists in Chile to build widgets, or Web-based applications, for use by sailors and maritime operators to analyze data and other information to combat pirates, drug smugglers, arms traffickers, illegal fishermen and other nefarious groups.

"A lot of maritime threats occur in developing parts of the world," said Dr. Augustus Vogel, associate director for Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa in ONR-Global's Chile office. "Our goal is to develop partnerships with countries that have maritime threats to help solve those problems."

ONR will tap researchers at the Technical University of Federico Santa Maria, one of Chile's top engineering schools, to create Web-based tools in an open source environment. The work will focus on producing software to improve automation, small-target detection and intent detection.

Ultimately, the software will be compatible with multiple maritime network systems so that navies around the world can use the tools and share information for global operations.

"We'll take those tools and integrate them into a widget framework that can be part of a coalition-accessible Web portal," said John Stastny, an engineer in the advanced analysis systems branch at SSC Pacific, who is helping to lead the ICODE MDA project.

The effort in Chile is part of a larger collaborative project that encompasses nations in Africa, where ICODE MDA has been underway with researchers at the University of Ghana, University of Pretoria, University of Mauritius and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa.

Army communications network for Capability Set 13

The Army has completed the network design for Capability Set 13, the first integrated group of advanced tactical communications technologies that will be fielded to Soldiers beginning this fall.

The Capability Set 13 package of network components, associated equipment and software will for the first time deliver an integrated voice and data capability throughout the brigade combat team formation down to the tactical edge, even while units are moving across the battlefield. Its design lays out the systems that will be part of the Capability Set, the echelons and roles within each unit that will receive those systems, and how the systems will interoperate and pass information.

The network design is the outcome of the Network Integration Evaluations, known as NIEs, and Agile Process, the Army's new approach to rapidly developing, acquiring and fielding integrated mission command capabilities. Now that the network design is complete, the Army is executing its synchronized fielding plans to deliver Capability Set 13 beginning in October.

With Capability Set 13, the Army will field a network architecture based on a hybrid integration of satellite-based communications and terrestrial networking radios. The network design for future Capability Sets will evolve based on technology advancements and changing operational needs.

"This is the initial baseline Capability Set 13 network design, and we will continue to mature it from this point through our Agile Process and successive NIEs," said Lt. Col. Jon Ellis, who led the network design cell managed by the Army's System of Systems Integration Directorate or SoSI. "This design is going to be a living document that will change for Capability Sets going forward."

The design cell also included other key network organizations, such as Army headquarters G-3/5/7, Chief Information Office/G-6, and G-8; the Training and Doctrine Command; the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center; and several Program Executive Offices.

"Integration across the acquisition community and the ability to synergize the materiel offerings into a cohesive Capability Set is what we are getting at," said Mike Badger, technology director for SoSI Product Director Futures. "It's bringing together what is technically possible, what is affordable and what is timely so the systems that (are fielded) together work together in a synergistic way."

Before they are implemented for synchronized fielding of Capability Set 13, the design group's recommendations will be reviewed and approved by Army headquarters G/3/5/7 and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology (ASA(ALT)). The recommendations will also be informed by the ongoing NIE 12.2, which will serve to validate and finalize the connectivity, architecture and components of the Capability Set.

"In NIE 12.2 we are making the final checks on some of the recommendations that are going to go into a rapid fielding for this Capability Set 13. The turnaround time on this is lightning fast by DoD standards," Badger said. "What's exciting that's happening now is the ability to look across systems beyond just one program and bring together a whole complement of capabilities."

NIE 12.2 is taking place from May 1 to June 8, at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. It is the third and most significant in a series of semi-annual evaluations designed to quickly integrate and mature the Army's tactical communications network. The events assess new network capabilities from government and industry with 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division executing realistic operational scenarios.

The network design was informed by results of the first two field exercises, NIEs 11.2 and 12.1, as well as laboratory evaluations at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., in earlier stages of the Agile Process. The design cell is also helping shape requirements for future NIEs by identifying capability gaps and other questions about the network that must be answered through further evaluations.

While the first network design targets a Deployed Expeditionary Force that is engaged in combat operations, other versions are underway aimed at a Contingency Expeditionary Force and other unit types based on Army priorities.

"It really only makes sense to get the latest and greatest capability to the tip of the spear first, and then field to the rest of the Army," Ellis said. "There are units in war right now, so we're working to get this capability in those Soldiers hands' as soon as possible."

Pentagon to unveil missile defense funding for Israel

The Pentagon is expected to announce an additional $680 million in U.S. aid for Israel to boost the development of anti-missile systems to shield the Jewish state from a feared bombardment by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinians.

The announcement will coincide with the visit to Washington of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who arrived Monday.

The funds will be allocated to the Iron Dome counter-rocket system developed and built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.


NATO Missile Defense for Europe

NATO has agreed to provide ballistic missile defense or BMD for all of Europe. This NATO BMD will protect NATO (European and American) military forces in Europe. It will also – for the very first time – protect the civilian population throughout Europe from ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction launched from the Middle East.
Much of this NATO missile defense for Europe – known as the European Phased Adaptive Approach – will actually be provided by the United States armed forces. This will include seaborne AEGIS missile defense on board US Navy ships in the Mediterranean, as well as land based radars and interceptor missiles.
This e-book describes how NATO missile defense for Europe will be organized and implemented.

EU force hits Somali pirate targets on land

The European Union's anti-piracy force on Tuesday attacked pirate bases along the Somali coast for the first time, using helicopters to destroy suspect boats.

Stepping up efforts against a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise that international navies have struggled to contain, the EU Naval Force (EU Navfor) said it had conducted an overnight attack on pirate targets using helicopters and surveillance aircraft.

It was the first time the EU had taken its fight against the pirates to Somali soil since its mandate was expanded earlier this year to allow strikes on land, as well as at sea.

A Somali pirate, who identified himself as Abdi, told Reuters that a helicopter attacked the central Somali coastline near Hardhere, a known pirate haven.

"An unidentified helicopter destroyed five of our hunting boats early in the morning. There were no casualties," he said. "We were setting off from the shore when the helicopter attacked us. We ran away without counter-attacking."

EU Navfor said it had carried out the attack to destroy pirate equipment, four days after Somali gunmen hijacked a Greek-owned oil tanker carrying close to a million barrels of crude oil in the Arabian Sea.

EU Navfor's Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, said the attack would "further increase the pressure on, and disrupt pirates' efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows".

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.

Monday, May 14, 2012

NECC Announces Formation of Coastal Riverine Force

Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) is establishing a new command, the Coastal Riverine Force (CORIVFOR), a merger of Riverine Group 1 and the Maritime Expeditionary Security Force (MESF), June 1.

CORIVFOR will perform core maritime expeditionary security missions in the green and brown waters bridging the gap between traditional Navy blue water operations and land-based forces, spanning the capabilities that currently reside with the riverine and expeditionary security force.

"We are combining maritime expeditionary and riverine forces to preserve a range of capabilities in brown, blue and green water environments," said Capt. James C. Hamblet, commodore of Maritime Expeditionary Security Group (MESG) 2. "Although Coastal Riverine Force will predominantly perform force protection type missions, when required it will be capable of conducting offensive operations which will enhance mission effectiveness throughout the force."

CORIVFOR will be composed of active and Reserve component unit capable of defending high value assets against a determined enemy and, when ordered, conducting offensive combat operations. Capable of conducting 24-hour operations, CORIVFOR will provide port and harbor security, offshore protection for maritime infrastructure and Military Sealift Command ships operating in coastal waterways. When necessary elements of this force will provide offensive combat capabilities.

CORIVFOR will utilize a mix of maritime expeditionary security and riverine equipment with plans to procure additional craft in the future.

CORIVFOR will be comprised of two Echelon IV groups, Coastal Riverine Group (CORIVGRU) 1 homeported in Imperial Beach, Calif. with squadrons located in San Diego at the Naval Amphibious Base. CORIVGRU 2 will be homeported in Portsmouth, Va. with active squadrons located at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story (JEBLC-FS), Va., a forward deployed detachment in Bahrain, and reserve squadrons located in Newport, R.I. and Jacksonville, Fla.

"By combining capabilities we will be able to provide a more effective way of expanding maritime security both inland and on coastal waterways," said Hamblet.

The establishment of Coastal Riverine Force will take place June 1 at JEBLC-FS for CORIVGRU 2 and Imperial Beach, Calif. for CORIVGRU 1. The force's initial operating capability is slated for October 2012 and the CORIVFOR will reach Full Operational Capability in Oct. 2014. All current and scheduled routine deployments will continue as normal. Hamblet will become the first commodore of CORIVGRU 2. Capt. Eric Moss, commordore of Maritime Expeditionary Security Group (MESG) 1, will command CORIVGRU 1.

CORIVFOR is a component of NECC and provides flexible responsive maritime security forces capable of performing high level security.

DoD opens combat oriented assignments to women

The Department of Defense is gearing up for policy changes that will open more than 14,000 new assignments to women in uniform as of today.

Changes to the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule will be implemented today. The Army will be opening the majority of the new positions with 13,000 assignments available to female soldiers. However, the Marine Corps will also be affected by this change, opening 371 assignments to female Marines, according to February's report to Congress.

"I am so very proud of how far our women have come in both civilian and military positions," said retired Marine Corps Maj. Linda Lacy, former president of the Women Marines Association, Tarheel Chapter. "We have crossed many barriers and each generation has opened new doors for our women. Today's woman is now serving side by side with their male counterpart."

The changes will no longer close occupations to women simply because the positions are co-located with ground combat units. The co-location requirement mainly applies to the Army; any Marine Corps billets that were previously closed due to co-location specifications were also closed because of physical requirements, according to Marine Corps spokeswoman Maj. Shawn Haney.

She said following the implementation of these new policies, the Marine Corps will be collecting data dependent upon female Marines.

"We're going to allow female volunteers to go through Infantry School," Haney said.

Additionally, positions such as a tank mechanic or field artillery operator will be newly open to women at the battalion level in certain direct ground combat units.

Navy Capt. John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, told reporters the change "doesn't mean that immediately, today, there will be 14,000 women in these jobs. But these billets will now be eligible to be filled by women."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

U.S. May Scrap Costly Efforts to Train Iraqi Police

In the face of spiraling costs and Iraqi officials who say they never wanted it in the first place, the State Department has slashed — and may jettison entirely by the end of the year — a multibillion-dollar police training program that was to have been the centerpiece of a hugely expanded civilian mission in Bagdad.

What was originally envisioned as a training cadre of about 350 American law enforcement officers was quickly scaled back to 190 and then to 100. The latest restructuring calls for 50 advisers, but most experts and even some State Department officials say even they may be withdrawn by the end of this year.

The training effort, which began in October and has already cost $500 million, was conceived of as the largest component of a mission billed as the most ambitious American aid effort since the Marshall Plan. Instead, it has emerged as the latest high-profile example of the waning American influence here following the military withdrawal, and it reflects a costly miscalculation on the part of American officials, who did not count on the Iraqi government to assert its sovereignty so aggressively.

“I think that with the departure of the military, the Iraqis decided to say, ‘O.K., how large is the American presence here?’ ” said James F. Jeffrey, the American ambassador to Iraq, in an interview. “How large should it be? How does this equate with our sovereignty? In various areas they obviously expressed some concerns.”

Last year the State Department embarked on $343 million worth of construction projects around the country to upgrade facilities to accommodate the police training program, which was to have comprised hundreds of trainers and more than 1,000 support staff members working in three cities — Baghdad, Erbil and Basra — for five years. But like so much else in the nine years of war, occupation and reconstruction here, it has not gone as planned.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sipping, not guzzling, fuel on Afghanistan's frontlines

To sustain themselves on Afghanistan's rugged frontlines, U.S. Army troops have learned to sip, not guzzle.

The liquid they must conserve is JP-8, a kerosene-based, all-purpose fuel the Army uses in aircraft and Humvees and to generate power for computers, lights and heat. Consumption of JP-8 - short for Jet Propellant-8 - often comes at a grim cost.

The fuel arrives by tanker trucks dispatched in heavily guarded convoys that are frequently attacked by insurgents. For every 20 convoys that roll across the harsh terrain, one U.S. soldier dies, said Colonel Peter Newell, head of the Army's Rapid Equipping Force (REF) at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.

Newell's operation keeps that statistic in mind as it aims to make troops more sustainable - meaning that as they live and work on isolated bases they consume an absolute minimum of fuel. It also means they spend less time guarding fuel convoy routes and more time on tasks like combat, security and communications.

Plans to gradually reduce the size of the U.S. force in Afghanistan, which is due to shrink to 68,000 by the end of the summer, have made fuel conservation more challenging. Soldiers are more spread out now, Newell said, and many work out of small outposts of 150 soldiers or fewer. These outposts are often put up and dismantled after just a few months of operations.

The remaining soldiers are "performing more and more missions," Newell said. "Now they're driving longer than ever." Newell's team is working this year with 15 to 20 outposts spread across Afghanistan.

Army scientists explore wireless power transfer

The American Soldier is equipped with more capabilities than ever before. These capabilities come in the form of new and more powerful devices that translate to a need for more power.

Currently, power is supplied to the dismounted Soldier through a collection of batteries, many of them rechargeable. A focus of Army Science and Technology is to figure out how to power the Soldier, and to enable all of his/her new capabilities, without increasing (and ideally decreasing) his/her physical load.

In order to accomplish this imperative, the U.S. Army is exploring a variety of different technologies and concepts. One exciting technology that opens up different concepts of powering the Soldier is the wireless transfer of power. The U.S. Army is allocating $5-$6M to advance these technologies.

Wireless power could eliminate the need for bulky cables, especially between the Soldier's helmet and vest (where centralized power sources might reside). Wireless power also allows for the recharging of Soldier gear whenever the Soldier enters a "recharging zone," to include a vehicle, certain areas within a forward operating base, etc.

The U.S. Army funds the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology,or ISN, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known as MIT, in Cambridge, Mass. One of the many discoveries at the ISN is the invention and development of strongly coupled magnetic resonators that can transfer electrical power over (relatively) large distances.

Scientists and engineers at the U.S. Army's Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, in Natick, Mass., have picked up this concept and worked with the company founded by ISN technology developers, as well as its competitors, to design systems that can wirelessly transfer power between the Soldier helmet and the Soldier vest.

Current capabilities allow for using a Soldier battery (Li-145) on the vest or torso to transmit ~5W of power to a helmet receiver at about 50 percent efficiency. Current programs are in place to increase that efficiency. As might be expected, the shorter the distance required for power transfer, the more efficient the transfer process.

The U.S. Army is also leveraging work performed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. One effort of note explores the simultaneous wireless recharging of multiple items. The U.S. Army's Tank and Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, known as TARDEC, in Warren, Mich., and Communications Electronics Research Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, in Aberdeen, MD, are both expanding on this (and alternative) technologies to increase the efficiency of power transfer over longer distances (50ft) so that Soldier recharging from vehicles and recharging from areas within a forward operating base can become realities.

The concept is to develop a future interoperable system so that organic Soldier equipment recharging can reduce both the cognitive and physical load on the dismounted Soldier.

Army scientists develop deployable renewable-energy solutions

Soldiers stationed in remote combat outposts face logistics and safety challenges to power their radios, laptops and GPS units.

U.S. Army scientists are researching methods to harness the sun and wind to ease the burdens associated with transporting fossil fuels to dangerous areas.

Marnie de Jong, an electrical engineer with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, is helping to develop renewable-energy based microgrids that work independently of traditional grid power.

Microgrids help to integrate different sources of energy for more efficient use and storage, she said.

"There has been a larger demand from the field for fuel reduction and power in remote locations," de Jong said. "As that demand has increased, we have increased our focus in those areas.

"Microgrids will be able to take solar, wind and batteries and use them together. You can use solar when there is no wind available. Different pieces of the puzzle work better in different places. By making this a solution set, you can take what you need given your location."

To provide alternative power sources to Soldiers in combat, de Jong and her colleagues at RDECOM's Communications--Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center are developing two systems -- Reusing Existing Natural Energy from Wind and Solar, or RENEWS, and Renewable Energy for Distributed Undersupplied Command Environments, or REDUCE.


CERDEC started work on RENEWS in 2009 under an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act program for photovoltaics in which it partnered with RDECOM's Army Research Laboratory and Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center. The team has developed RENEWS prototypes and is finishing internal testing, de Jong said.

Units are being sent for operational assessments from Soldiers at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., and U.S. Africa Command.

"The RENEWS system is completely renewable energy [with] solar and wind components," de Jong said. "It's meant for smaller, mostly communications systems in very remote locations that are difficult to get to re-supply fuel or [where] it might be dangerous. It would be a self-sustaining system."

RENEWS is designed to power two or three laptops continuously as long as there is power coming daily from the solar panels or wind turbine, she said. The storage component will be able to provide power at peak demand for about five hours when energy is not being generated by the renewable components.

The RENEWS components weight about 100 pounds, and it is stored in two cases weighing about 70 pounds each.

The Army intends the RENEWS and REDUCE systems to be complementary, resulting in power-grid technology that addresses power generation, distribution, load, renewables and storage.

A major concern for military logisticians is securing routes for fuel-truck convoys. According to Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, environment and technology, said one in 46 convoys suffers a casualty.

"There will be a reduction in fuel that is necessary for regular operations," de Jong said. "That is one of the major concerns in the field in transporting fuel -- logistics and safety. We are working to reduce fuel consumption by supplementing generators with renewable energy sources."


Work on the three-year REDUCE program is in the early stages, de Jong said. It is designed to be towed on a Humvee trailer.

"The key behind the system is the intelligent power management and distribution, as well as the plug and play capability for devices. Automatic-device detection and power distribution make it a network of power systems that is capable of adjusting based on mission demands and needs," she said.

The REDUCE integrates renewables with traditional fossil-fuel generators to reduce consumption. The goal is to ease the Soldier's work by having the system manage all the power.

"The problem with a lot of [Army] systems is that they don't all work together. Pieces from one don't necessarily work with pieces from another," de Jong said. "You can't get two systems to parallel when they're made from different places.

"Under the REDUCE system, we're looking to make that all happen automatically. We [will] have an interface defined for all the systems components such that you don't run into the problem where the different pieces don't work together."


Scientists and engineers across the Army focus on removing obstacles for Soldiers. By integrating smart power systems, CERDEC's aim is to allow Soldiers to concentrate on their missions instead of monitoring power systems.

"One of the biggest challenges is getting different systems to work together," de Jong said. "It's really frustrating for Soldiers in the field when they just want to use this cable with this battery, and it doesn't work. One of the major technical challenges is having standardization for interfaces and smarts that make all the pieces work seamlessly so the Soldier doesn't have to configure anything.

"Soldiers will appreciate the plug and play capability. They don't need to be an expert in power systems. They can just turn it on, and it gives them situational awareness into their power systems. It will report back to them what is going on and if there is a problem."


The RENEWS and REDUCE systems will also contribute to the Army's goal of increasing energy efficiency and lessening the reliance on fossil fuels, she said.

"Renewable energy solutions are helping to reduce the carbon footprint. They generate energy more efficiently on-site from renewable sources. It's good for the Army, good for the Soldier, and good for the environment," de Jong said.

3D MAW (FWD) explores the use of unmanned helicopters

Improvised explosive devices have changed the way the Marine Corps engages hostile forces. The need has risen for supplies to reach the most remote parts of Afghanistan quickly, reliably and safely. Late last year, the Corps began experimenting with the K-MAX - an unmanned helicopter, able to transport large amounts of cargo and reduce the need for convoys.

With troops spread across a desolate country with few paved roads, steep mountains, rocky terrain and abrasive weather, the K-MAX has arrived to help deliver supplies across the harsh lands of Afghanistan.

Presently, convoys are exposed to many potential dangers, such as improvised explosive devices and ambushes. Both have claimed the lives of Marines in the past.

"The need (for an alternate transport solution) came about because the Marine Corps wanted to get trucks off the road," said Maj. Kyle O'Connor, the detachment officer in charge for Cargo Resupply Unmanned Aircraft Systems (CRUAS), a component of Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1.

Army Preps for War Withdrawal Under Fire

Taliban fighters continue shooting at U.S. soldiers, but the Army has already started planning for how it will haul a decade's worth of combat infrastructure out of Afghanistan's landlocked, mountainous terrain.

The Army finished shutting down a war in Iraq this past December. Now, it must start the process all over again to meet President Obama's 2014 deadline to bring America's troops home from Afghanistan.

Army leaders say they'll lean on the lessons they learned from the withdrawal from Iraq, but the those same generals and colonels warned this week that Afghanistan will pose a much stiffer challenge to the Army's sustainment and transportation brigades.

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

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

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

"German Navy SEALs" is a profile of the Kampfschwimmer units. The e-book covers the history of the Kampfschwimmer beginning with the World War II era; describes their organization, command structure, capabilities and training; discusses their cooperation with US Navy SEALS and other Special Operations Forces; and their role in German and NATO operational planning.
Other German Special Operations Forces are also briefly discussed. 5,400 words

Army takes advantage of training opportunities with reduced OPTEMPO

With the military out of Iraq, there's more time for Soldiers to train for the next fight, the vice chief of staff of the Army said.

"As we have come out of Iraq, we have more opportunities to train at home station and we are taking advantage of those opportunities," said Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III. "And again, as we retrograde our equipment and put that equipment through reset, more equipment is being made available (to use for training.)"

Austin spoke May 10 on Capitol Hill before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, subcommittee on readiness and management support, discussing the current readiness of the Army.

"We are already beginning to reap some of the benefits of that slowdown," Austin told lawmakers.

Even with the Army out of Iraq, it is still preparing to come out of Afghanistan, and the general said, "much work lies ahead," in that regard. The Army is still placing priority on the fight there, while at the same time it is working at home "to help heal and alleviate some of the stress on our personnel."

Austin told lawmakers that with the Army pulling out of Afghanistan it is going to need funding to reset the heavily-used equipment that comes out of the country.

"It will take about two to three years, beyond the complete retrograde of our equipment out of Afghanistan, to reset that equipment," he said. "And we certainly need to be funded to do so."

Without that funding, he said, the Army will be required to accept risk in other areas "at significant cost with a negative impact on readiness."

Also on the minds of lawmakers is what the Army will do with "non-standard" equipment. Austin said the Army is already assessing non-standard equipment in terms of numbers of vehicles and weapons.

"I have a real concern about how much equipment we are asking our troops to maintain that may not be useful to us anymore, and (that) we may not be able to afford to sustain," he said. "So we are going through a very deliberate process of making sure that we keep what we need and we transition things we don't need and can't afford."

Also being assessed, he said, is the status of the mine resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, known as the MRAP, how many the Army will keep once it is out of Afghanistan, and how it will pay to maintain those vehicles.

"We won't be able to rely on contractor logistics for the foreseeable future," he said. "That is very expensive. We are going through an assessment on how many MRAPs we are going to keep and what the disposition of those is going to be and again, we will outline what the maintenance and supply chain will be."

The Army is looking at reducing the number of Soldiers in the Army by 79,000. Austin said to do that, the Army will need continued overseas contingency operations funding to ensure a gradual reduction in forces and to prevent negative consequences that would come from drawing down too quickly.

"This funding is imperative to our ability to manage a gradual reduction to our end strength over the next five years," Austin said. The lack of continued OCO funding will force a steeper drawdown "primarily through involuntary separations and other means that could result in significant hardship for thousands of Army combat veterans and their families, and generate a large bill for unemployment and other related costs."

The active component will draw down 79,000 Soldiers to 490,000 by the end of fiscal year 2017. In the Reserve Component, by fiscal year 2018, the Army National Guard will draw down by 8,000 Soldiers, to reach 350,200 end strength.

Also looming on the horizon is possible implementation of the "sequestration" that was spelled out in the Budget Control Act of 2011. As part of that act, lawmakers who were part of a "super committee" last year were tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in savings, or risk across-the-board reductions in funding. Because a resolution was not reached, as much as half that amount could now automatically be cut from the Department of Defense through sequestration.

While the Army has not actually planned for sequestration to happen, Austin said a "back-of-the-envelope" calculation shows that implementation of sequestration could mean an additional force cut of 100,000 Soldiers on top of the 79,000 it is already planning to cut. About half of the additional cuts could come from the Reserve Component, he said.

Despite the already planned force cuts of 79,000 Soldiers, Austin said the Army is confident that it will continue to be "sufficiently agile, adaptable, and responsive," as well as able to grow capacity as needed in response to unforeseen contingencies.

"The key to our success," he said, "is balancing the three rheostats of force structure, modernization and readiness. That is where we are focusing our efforts."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) Completes Acceptance Trials

The future USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) successfully completed acceptance trials May 4, testing the ship's major systems and equipment in port and underway in Lake Michigan.

Acceptance trials are the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship to the Navy. The ship was presented to the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) with high levels of completion.

"Fort Worth performed extremely well during its trials," said LCS Program Manager Capt. John Neagley. "The ship's level of completion coupled with Marinette Marine's excellent craftsmanship resulted in relatively few material deficiencies."

During the four-day trial, the Navy conducted comprehensive tests intended to demonstrate the performance of the propulsion plant, ship handling and auxiliary systems. This improved performance in comparison to the first ship of the class is a result of design stability, facility improvements and production efficiencies by the shipbuilder.

Fort Worth will join her sister ships USS Freedom and USS Independence, which have already been commissioned, when she is commissioned September 22, in Galveston, Texas. In addition, Milwaukee (LCS 5) is under construction at the Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard, and Coronado (LCS 4) and Jackson (LCS 6) are under construction at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, Ala.

Second America Class LHA Named USS Tripoli

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced May 4 the selection of USS Tripoli as the name for the Navy's next large-deck amphibious assault ship (LHA 7).

The USS Tripoli will be the third ship to bear the name Tripoli. The name commemorates the capture of Derna in 1805 by a small force of U.S. Marines and approximately 370 soldiers from 11 other nationalities. The battle, later memorialized in the Marines' Hymn with the line "to the shores of Tripoli", brought about a successful conclusion to the combined operations of the First Barbary War. The first USS Tripoli, an escort carrier, fought in the battle of the Atlantic during World War II. The second, an amphibious assault ship, earned nine battle stars, a Meritorious Unit Commendation, and a Navy Unit Commendation for service in Vietnam.

"USS Tripoli and the proud heritage the name represents will be an inspiration for generations of sailors and Marines who serve aboard and those who come in contact with her, reminding all the freedoms our Navy protects are as vital today as they were centuries ago," Mabus said.

Like the future USS America (LHA 6), LHA 7 has an increased aviation capacity to include an enlarged hangar deck, realignment and expansion of the aviation maintenance facilities, a significant increase in available stowage for parts and support equipment, and increased aviation fuel capacity.

The LHA 7 will use the same gas turbine propulsion plant, zonal electrical distribution and electric auxiliary systems designed and built for the USS Makin Island, replacing the maintenance intensive steam plants of earlier ships. This unique auxiliary propulsion system is designed for fuel efficiency.

The LHA 7 will provide a flexible, multi-mission platform with capabilities that span the range of military operations -- from forward deployed crisis response to forcible entry operations. The ship also will provide forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint, interagency and multinational maritime expeditionary forces. The ship will operate for sustained periods in transit to and operations in an amphibious objective area to include: embarking, transporting, controlling, inserting, sustaining and extracting elements of a marine air-ground task force, and supporting forces by helicopters and tilt rotors supported by Joint Strike Fighters F-35B.

Army SWIPES Battery Weight, Lightens Soldiers' Load

A Soldier treks through treacherous terrain in a dangerous combat zone with a rucksack filled with meals ready-to-eat, first-aid gear, weapons, ammunition, radios and batteries.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command is lightening the Soldier's load by developing smaller and lighter batteries. Scientists and engineers are unburdening the Soldier, increasing maneuverability, reducing fatigue, and cutting time needed for battery re-charging.

Christopher Hurley, an electronics engineer with RDECOM's Communications--Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center for six years, leads the battery development projects team.

"One of the major projects on the battery team is trying to reduce the logistics burden," Hurley said. "We investigate state-of-the-art battery chemistries that will help us to decrease the Soldier load."


Hurley and his colleagues have reduced the size and weight of the standard BA-5590 battery by half, but the performance and run time has remained the same. The Half-Size BA-5590 plugs into the same equipment, about 80 types of radios and robots, as the full-size version.

"The Soldier can still perform the same [mission] with half the weight and volume in batteries," Hurley said. "It will lighten their load and increase their maneuverability so they have more freedom to get around on the battlefield."

The research team accomplished the size and weight savings through improvements in the battery's materials, he said. One of the battery chemistries under development is lithium-carbon monoflouride.

"A lot of the research is done on the materials. Once we identified a chemistry that has potential to lighten the Soldier load, a lot goes into it in terms of the raw materials -- the cathode, anode, and energy-storage components that afford us a high-energy density battery," Hurley said.

The Army has been working on the battery for five years, and it should be fielded to Soldiers in about a year, Hurley said.


As the Army transforms to meet changing battlefield threats, Soldiers need to be agile without carrying boxed-sized batteries around their bodies. CERDEC is partnering with RDECOM's Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center to develop a 0.8 inch-thick battery that can be placed into a Soldier's vest.

"We're putting those same battery chemistries into a wearable battery configuration known as the Polymer Conformal Battery," Hurley said. "The idea is to keep it close to the body so there are not a lot of projections from the body. When the Soldier is in a prone position or tight spaces, you don't have huge batteries sticking out.

"The next step is to get it into an integrated, wearable vest system so that Soldiers can wear this battery to have it run to all of their equipment."


The Soldier Wearable Integrated Power System, known as SWIPES, supplies a main battery from a central location to power all end-items.

SWIPES places pouch-mounted chargers and power cables for batteries, GPS units, shot-detection systems and handheld communications into the vest. It allows for extended mission times without the need to of swap batteries or power sources by keeping devices charged at all times.

SWIPES won one of the top 10 U.S. Army Greatest Inventions in 2010.

"All of the cabling is routed through the different pockets for radios and equipment. The idea is to have this battery power all of the equipment," Hurley said.

The Army Rapid Equipping Force and Project Manager Soldier Warrior have started field testing several hundred SWIPES units.

"The major benefit is the weight savings. For a typical 72-hour mission, a Soldier will save up to 12 pounds of batteries they don't have to carry," Hurley said.

Monday, May 7, 2012

U.S. special forces commander seeks to expand operations

A top U.S. commander is seeking authority to expand clandestine operations against militants and insurgencies around the globe, a sign of shifting Pentagon tactics and priorities after a grueling decade of large-scale wars.

Adm. William H. McRaven, a Navy SEAL and commander of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, has developed plans that would provide far-reaching new powers to make special operations units "the force of choice" against "emerging threats" over the next decade, internal Defense Department documents show.

Israel's submarine fleet gets 4th Dolphin from Germany

Israel's navy has taken delivery of its fourth Dolphin class submarine built by Germany's Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, giving the Jewish state the most powerful submarine fleet in the Middle East and boosting its strategic capabilities.

The new diesel-electric boat, named the Tannin -- Alligator -- was handed over during a ceremony at HDW's Kiel shipyard Thursday to an Israeli team headed by navy commander Vice Adm. Ram Rothberg.

The Tannin is the first of three "super-Dolphins" the Israelis will acquire from Germany.

These 1,925-ton boats will be equipped with advanced systems that greatly enhance operational capabilities, which Western sources say include a new propulsion system that makes them almost impossible to detect and a special diesel and hydrogen conversion system that allows them to produce their own fuel, thus extending range and endurance.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lessons of Iraq Help U.S. Fight a Drug War in Honduras

The United States military has brought lessons from the past decade of conflict to the drug war being fought in the wilderness of Miskito Indian country, constructing this remote base camp with little public notice but with the support of the Honduran government.

It is one of three new forward bases here — one in the rain forest, one on the savanna and one along the coast — each in a crucial location to interdict smugglers moving cocaine toward the United States from South America.

Honduras is the latest focal point in America’s drug war. As Mexico puts the squeeze on narcotics barons using its territory as a transit hub, more than 90 percent of the cocaine from Colombia and Venezuela bound for the United States passes through Central America. More than a third of those narcotics make their way through Honduras, a country with vast ungoverned areas — and one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world.

This new offensive, emerging just as the United States military winds down its conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and is moving to confront emerging threats, also showcases the nation’s new way of war: small-footprint missions with limited numbers of troops, partnerships with foreign military and police forces that take the lead in security operations, and narrowly defined goals, whether aimed at insurgents, terrorists or criminal groups that threaten American interests.

The effort draws on hard lessons learned from a decade of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq, where troops were moved from giant bases to outposts scattered across remote, hostile areas so they could face off against insurgents.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Army Will Reshape Training, With Lessons From Special Forces

The Army is reshaping the way many soldiers are trained and deployed, with some conventional units to be placed officially under Special Operations commanders and others assigned to regions of the world viewed as emerging security risks, like Africa.

The pending changes reflect an effort by the Army’s top officer, Gen. Ray Odierno, to institutionalize many of the successful tactics adopted ad hoc in Afghanistan and Iraq. As the Army shrinks by 80,000 troops over the next five years, General Odierno is seeking ways to assure that it is prepared for a broader set of missions, including in hot spots around the world where few soldiers have deployed in the past.

The initiatives are a recognition that the role and clout of Special Operations forces are certain to grow over coming years. Faced with impending budget cuts and public exhaustion with large overseas deployments, the military will focus on working with partner nations to increase their ability to deal with security threats within their borders. The goal is to limit the footprint of most new overseas deployments.

Senior Pentagon policy makers briefed on the plans say they are fully in keeping with the new military strategy announced early this year by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Creating new sets of formal relationships between Army general-purpose units and the Special Operations Command would be a significant change in Army culture. For more than a generation, the large, conventional Army and the small, secretive commando community viewed each other from a distance, and with distrust. Armor and infantry units trained and operated separately from counterterrorism and counterinsurgency teams.

The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, changed that. The demands of combining high-end conventional combat and counterinsurgency missions for complementary and overlapping operations in Afghanistan and Iraq pushed conventional and Special Operations forces together. General Odierno, who now serves as Army chief of staff, oversaw many of those tactical initiatives.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Army asks for armed aerial scout demonstration

The Army released to industry, April 25, a "request for information" about a replacement for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior aircraft, including a proposal to industry to provide for the Army a demonstration of the current "state of the art" in rotary-wing aircraft and their subsystems.

It's expected any demonstrations would happen this summer or fall.

Currently, the Army has more than 300 Kiowa Warriors filling the armed aerial scout, or AAS, role. But that airframe entered into service during the 1960s and no longer meets all the needs of commanders. Yet it still remains in high demand.

"The Kiowa Warrior, in its current form, is still the basic airframe of an OH-58A/C that we flew in Vietnam," said Ellis Golsen, director of the Capability Development and Integration Directorate at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence. "We have continued to modify it and address it. But the airframe itself and the environments we fly in now and the ones we look to in the future are going to require greater performance."

Golsen said the Kiowa Warrior, as an AAS, is "our most demanded capability," and added that the Army's AAS has not received the attention other airframes have.

"If you look at the history so far, we have corrected or adjusted or fielded an upgraded system for everything except AAS," he said. "But those are the guys that are continuing to have to fly in a hostile environment, to provide close support to ground Soldiers, and that's the reason we exist, to provide support to the ground Soldiers."

The request for information, known as an RFI, spells out capability shortfalls with the current OH-58D. Those shortfalls include responsiveness in terms of speed, range and endurance; the performance margin to operate in high and hot environments; and aircraft lethality due to limitations on weapons payload capacity.

Officials expect that this summer or fall, they should begin viewing demonstrations of aircraft from industry. And industry participation in the demonstration is totally voluntary, the RFI explains. Aircraft developers who don't participate in the demonstration will have an equal chance to compete to sell the Army a new armed aerial scout, or AAS, if and when the Army decides to buy one.

"This voluntary flight demonstration is really an effort, an extension of the 'analysis of alternatives,' or AOA, to help us verify the data in the AOA and give us a better idea of what we can ask for, and what is achievable within our budget constraints," Golsen said.

There are multiple options for the Army to purchase a new AAS. Included in those are:

-- improving the current Kiowa Warrior to fill its capability gaps

-- creating a new aircraft, a developmental aircraft, from the ground up

-- pursuing a commercial off-the-shelf replacement.

The COTS solution means finding something already being made by industry, and deciding that with acceptable modifications it could fit the Army's needs.

Maj. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, commander of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence, said in Afghanistan today, the Kiowa Warrior is showing gaps in what it's able to do.

"The Kiowa Warrior, quite frankly, has challenges in some of the altitudes that we fly in Afghanistan, in reaching those altitudes, and having the appropriate station time that a ground commander needs," he said. "That is one of the biggest gaps. We want to be able to not only reach the target area, but we want to have the loiter time commanders need."

Crutchfield said commanders can make trades with the capabilities of the Kiowa Warrior, such as adjusting the aircraft's weight by taking less fuel or less ammunition. Those kinds of changes can affect altitude, station time and payload. A longer range, with altitude and environment taken into consideration, might mean a tradeoff with fuel and ammunition, for instance. Less fuel can also means less station time, and less ammunition might mean not meeting a ground commander's needs.

"It's trades, it's give and take," Crutchfield said. "What we'd like to see is an aircraft that we don't have to make that choice; that we don't have to give up something. We can give the commander the station time he needs and the payload that he needs. That's what we are really after."

The Army's current AAS, the Kiowa Warrior, is good at "going out and finding things, reporting them, synchronizing the battlefield, calling for indirect fire, and doing all the other things we expect of a scout on the battlefield."

Like AH-64 Apache, the Kiowa Warrior is armed, but unlike the Apache, the Kiowa Warrior is more subtle in its approach, Golsen said.

"When you're doing recon, you don't necessarily want the other guy to know you're looking at him," he said. "Apache is big and heavy, it was designed to go out and no kidding, kill stuff."

The AAS needs to be able to loiter and watch, and to be ready at a moment's notice "to deal with fleeting targets that you don't have time to coordinate for, and you have a small window of opportunity to destroy the target and it's a high pay-off target," Golsen said.

US Army Allocates Half a Billion to Support Mobile Countermine Radar

The US Army awarded NIITEK, Inc. a sole source contract for the supply of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Husky Mounted Detection System (HMDS). This multi-year contract has a ceiling of US$579 million with an initial order of $161 million. This contract provides the U.S. Army the ability to procure spares and replacement systems to replenish theatre sustainment stock. Additionally, this contract will serve future system requirements for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and potential Foreign Military Sales. The current Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract represents the largest investment in the HDMS system sofar. In previous years NIITEK ramped up production and deliveries of HMDS, orders 240 HMDS and initial support of fielded systems. The recent order will mainly cover the support of those fielded systems.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

U.S. backs another $680M for Israel shield

As Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ramps up the threat of pre-emptive strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities, and the prospect of Iranian retaliation, a key U.S. House panel has approved another $680 million for the Netanyahu government's anti-missile defenses.

The move by a House Armed Services subcommittee far exceeds previous U.S. funding for the Iron Dome system, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to counter short-range missiles and rockets.

The $680 million, slated as part of the U.S. budget for fiscal 2013, will be in addition to the record $3.1 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel this year and some $100 million in U.S. support for medium- and long-range missile defense systems already pledged.

US deploys F-22 fighter jets to UAE

The United States has deployed sophisticated F-22 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates amid deepening tensions between Iran and its pro-US neighbors, officials said Monday.

The US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, would not say how many F-22s would be sent to the Al-Dhafra air base in the United Arab Emirates. Military officers tend to avoid publicly discussing details of operations at the US air base.

An Air Force spokeswoman confirmed that a number of F-22 Raptors, the most advanced fighter in the US fleet, would be deployed to the region without mentioning the base or Iran.

"The United States Air Force has deployed F-22s to Southwest Asia. Such deployments strengthen military-to-military relationships, promote sovereign and regional security, improve combined tactical air operations, and enhance interoperability of forces, equipment and procedures," said Major Mary Danner-Jones.

Chile-U.S. base a boon for defense firms

What began as a joint Chilean-U.S. base for training peacekeepers before their dispatch to the wider world is growing into a major destination for regional military trainers and defense industry contractors.

The $460,000 facility is a burgeoning site for what the U.S. Army South calls a training ground for Military Operations on Urban Terrain. When completed the MOUT base will support the Chilean Joint Center for Peace Operations and the U.S. Department of State's Global Peace Operations Initiative.

Chile is an active participant in international peacekeeping operations and has sent military experts and troops over the years to trouble spots on the India-Pakistan border, Cyprus, Bosnia-Herzegovina in the Balkans and various potential flashpoints in the Middle East.

Raytheon's JLENS and Patriot systems prove integration in intercept test

Two Raytheon systems, the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) and the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System, demonstrated their ability to work together to detect, track and shoot down a test target simulating a hostile cruise missile during an exercise at the Utah Training and Test Range.

This test reinforces the ability of Raytheon systems to integrate in support of a comprehensive air and missile defense strategy involving multiple sensors and interceptors.

"When systems like JLENS, Patriot and others work together, the capability of our nation's air and missile defenses is significantly improved," said David Gulla, vice president of Global Integrated Sensors for Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business.

U.S. Army Awards Lockheed Martin $391 Million for Counterfire Radar Production

The U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin $391 million in production orders for a new radar system that provides soldiers with enhanced 360-degree protection from rocket, mortar and artillery fire.

The orders represent the execution of two contract options for a total of 33 AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) counterfire target acquisition radars – formerly designated EQ-36 during their development and initial production – to be delivered by the end of 2014. The options include spares, testing and training materials. If all options are exercised, 38 additional low- and full-rate production systems could be added and the total contract value would exceed $800 million.

“The Q-53 is in production and has been battlefield-proven by the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Lee Flake, program director for counterfire target acquisition radar programs at Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems & Sensors business. “The radar detects, classifies and tracks enemy indirect fire, as well as locating its source, in either 360- or 90-degree modes that give soldiers greater protection than ever before.”

Mounted on a five-ton truck, the Q-53 can be rapidly deployed, automatically leveled and remotely operated with a laptop computer or from a fully equipped climate-controlled command vehicle.

Airborne radar prepped for missile defense testing

A new air defense radar system is undergoing testing on White Sands Missile Range to ready it for later integrated testing with the Navy this fall.

The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS, is an advanced radar system that is intended for use by the Army, Air Force and Navy as part of a larger air and missile defense network.

"In simple terms JLENS, is an elevated radar platform which is specifically designed to track and defeat land attack cruise missiles," said Maj. Michael Fitzgerald an assistant product manager with the JLENS Product Office under Program Executive Office Missiles and Space.

The objective of the system is to provide a long range radar system that can detect small low flying targets like cruise missiles, as well as other airborne threats, so air defense systems can engage them sooner and with more accuracy.

Radar works by sending out radio waves into the air. When the waves hit something like an aircraft, they bounce off, reflecting back to the radar system and allowing the system to determine where the aircraft is. Unfortunately other objects like tall buildings, hills, and mountains can block the radar waves and disrupt or limit that radar. Cruise missiles are designed to take advantage of this limitation by flying low to the ground along routes that allow them to hide behind terrain.

"What the Aerostat allows you to do is get above the ground clutter. The whole objective of this system is to provide protection to ground assets that cannot see through mountains or other ground clutter," said Steven Stone Raytheon's test director for JLENS Integration at WSMR.

Using large blimp-like balloons called aerostats, JLENS seeks to counter the threat of low flying missiles and aircraft by taking a powerful surveillance radar to altitude, allowing the system to look down from heights of up to 10,000 ft. and over nearby terrain, eliminating blind spots and extending the range of the radar.

"The surveillance radar has a 360 degree capability, it kind of sees everything at once," Fitzgerald said.

Since the elevated radar must look down to detect and track missiles and aircraft, the radar also gets back lots of data on the ground beneath the airspace it's monitoring. For a normal radar, this would cause a lot of interference that could disrupt operations. JLENS ground station however, utilizes advanced computer systems that can filter out this ground clutter and leave the service member's view screens with a clear image of the air they are defending.

Once a target has been located, a targeting radar system in a second aerostat can then lock onto the target and feed that data to air defense weapon systems. These systems would then be able to engage and destroy the target.

"The fire control radar, which is very precise, can see a long distance, track targets, and hand off targets to other air defense platforms," Fitzgerald said.

To lift the radar the aerostats need to have some serious lifting power.

"The radar, the cooling equipment, and some of the other electronics associated with it are fairly heavy, because they are obviously, built to military standards and built to handle a military environment threat environment. So therefore it has to have enough lift to lift a fair amount of weight," said Stone.

To achieve this lift, each aerostat must be very large, almost the size of a football field. Visible from WSMR's main post, the JLENS site includes one Aerostat, which will be interchangeably equipped with the surveillance or fire control radar, along with the JLENS mobile mooring station that holds the aerostat in place, and the ground station composed of a data processing shelter, a signal processing shelter and a communications and control station.

The radar's long range, which covers an area larger then New Mexico, allows it to monitor large operational areas, making the system valuable to not only the Army, but the other services as well. Each service has different weapons and requirements which JLENS must meet if it is to work and so extensive integration testing is required. For this reason a single JLENS aerostat has been brought to WSMR.

Over the next few months the JLENS system components will be checked out and its systems tested to prepare it for integration with Naval air defense systems and testing on WSMR.

"The weather, when it holds, has helped out a lot. But so far the test has been going good and we've been meeting all the objectives set out for us," Stone said.

The Naval requirements are the reason why WSMR was chosen for these tests. Along with WSMR's expansive military controlled air space, WSMR's Naval detachment provides the right environment for the integration of this joint system into Naval operations.

In addition to the experienced Sailors the Naval Detachment brings to the table, the Navy also commands the Desert Ship, a specialized test bunker on WSMR that simulates a ship at sea. The Desert Ship allows tests like this to be conducted in a realistic environment, using the same systems and configurations that a ship has, but with the control and data collection needed for testing.

As the system is still in the earlier stages of development, at this time it is expected for JLENS to be an ongoing presence on WSMR for some time while the system is further developed and tested.

U.S. Army to Test Microsoft’s Kinect in Helicopter Cockpits

Motion-tracking game technology found in American living rooms has a shot at making its way into U.S. military helicopters. The Army envisions Microsoft’s Kinect system as a low-cost solution for smarter cockpits that track what pilots see or do — opening the door for smarter war machines capable of responding quickly to human needs during combat.

The Microsoft Kinect for Xbox can already recognize gestures, faces and voices under almost any ambient light conditions for about $150. Such off-the-shelf gaming technology looks like a bargain next to expensive military helmets that track a pilot’s head movements or eye gaze based on infrared detectors or magnetic sensors.

“New technology from the gaming world has the potential to substantially reduce the cost of adding head tracking to conventional helicopters, as well as the ability to do body tracking and gesture recognition to support future intelligent cockpits,” according to the Army’s solicitation for the small-business innovation research program on April 25.

Such intelligent cockpits may feature Minority Report virtual controls and displays, automatically identify targets a pilot is seeing outside the cockpit, report on damage based on where a pilot looks, or even monitor a pilot’s mental and physical health based on his or her motions. That futuristic vision starts with motion-tracking technology.