Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Raytheon's RAM Strikes Twice During Back-to-Back Tests

Raytheon's Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2 successfully completed two guided test vehicle flights within one week, demonstrating the system's upgraded kinematic performance, guidance system and airframe capabilities.

Raytheon is building 35 RAM Block 2 missiles during the design and development test period and expects low-rate production to begin in 2012.

"To have a double success during two separate tests within days of each other is a significant accomplishment and proves our design upgrades," said Rick Nelson, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems' Naval Weapon Systems product line.

"The aggressive path we charted for RAM Block 2 will provide our customers with the most sophisticated ship self-defense missile available."

The RAM Block 2 upgrade includes a four-axis independent control actuator system and an increase in rocket motor capability. These and other upgrades increase the missile's effective range and deliver a significant improvement in maneuverability.

The improved missile also incorporates an upgraded passive radio frequency seeker, a digital autopilot and engineering changes in selected infrared seeker components.

Israels seeks to fill its quiver of Arrows

Israel has test-fired its new Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile system, the country's main defense against Iran's Shehab-3 missiles, as it drives to boost its arsenal of about 120 of the weapons amid rising tension in the Persian Gulf.

The Defense Ministry is meanwhile grappling with the problem of how to fund the development of Arrow-3 and the system's new Magnificent Pine radar. Ministry sources say $3.9 billion is needed to produce more batteries of the long-range, high-altitude Arrow built by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries.

But large sums are also needed to develop and produce other anti-missile systems that will eventually form a multilayer defense shield. These are designed to counter everything from intermediate-range ballistic missiles to short-range unguided rockets like those used by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Israelis are looking to the United States to pitch in and provide the money, on top of the $3 billion a year the Jewish state receives in U.S. military aid. Despite a sharp U.S. economic downturn, Congress has approved increasing missile defense funds for Israel to $235.7 million for 2012, up from $217.7 million in 2011.

This will cover Arrow-2, the variant in service with the Israeli air force, development of Arrow-3 and final development for David's Sling.

Whether that will mean further U.S. funding to help Israel over its defense budget problems isn't clear.

But U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman, D-N.J., a member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee that approved the funds, noted, "It's a mark of the importance of these jointly developed missile defense programs Â… that they were robustly funded by our subcommittee."

The Arrow program is one of the centerpieces of the U.S.-Israeli strategic alliance and one of the most advanced systems if its kind.

RAIDRS space control facility under construction at Pete

The next step in establishing full Rapid Attack, Identification, Detection and Reporting System capabilities is underway at Peterson Air Force Base. The 16th Space Control Squadron and 380th Space Control Squadron, a Reserve Associate Unit, formally broke ground near the east gate Jan. 17 for the new RAIDRS space control facility.

"This has been an incredible feat, especially when you consider the very challenging fiscal and manpower age in which we live," said Col. Chris Crawford, 21st Space Wing commander.

The $14.3 million facility will be 47,427 square feet once completed and house personnel from the 16th and 380th SPCS.

"With the birth of the new building we finally have the opportunity for the entire set of units to live together, to work together in one building," Crawford said.

Algeria 'foils al-Qaida attack on ships'

U.S. officials say Algerian intelligence foiled an al-Qaida plot to mount suicide attacks against U.S. and European ships in the Mediterranean at a time when the jihadists are driving to expand operations in North Africa.

The Algerian intelligence service, Direction de la Securite Interieure -- DSI -- caught the plot in its early stages and arrested three suspected members of al-Qaida's North African affiliate, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

The Algerian daily newspaper Echorouk broke the story a week ago. U.S. officials said they knew of the plot but the Algerians made the arrests.

Echorouk reported that the men had purchased a boat that they reportedly planned to pack with explosives and ram into a ship in the western Mediterranean. The plot, as outlined by the newspaper, bore a striking resemblance to tactics used by al-Qaida's Yemeni branch when it badly damaged the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole in Aden harbor Oct. 12, 2000, by ramming it with a small boat packed with explosives.

Report: Real arms race is in cyberspace

Conventional and nuclear weapons pose continuing threats but the real arms race now on is in cyberspace, a new cyber defense report said.

The report by Brussels think tank Security and Defense Agenda received input from Intel Corp. subsidiary McAfee technology security company and leading global security experts.

The findings indicated that smaller states Finland, Israel and Sweden surged ahead of larger countries in readiness for cybersecurity and fighting cyber warfare.

Israel's role in cyber warfare in the Middle East has been known, particularly in ongoing confrontation with Iran, but the emergence of Finland and Sweden as cyberspace-savvy operators in the technology industry wasn't widely expected.

The report coincided with other security intelligence posts on the Web that hostile cyber activity emanating from the Middle East, Asia, Russia and former Soviet republics was viewed in the West as a growing problem.

"Cyber-security: The Vexed Question of Global Rules" offered what it termed "a global snapshot" of current thinking about the cyber threats and the measures that should be taken to defend against them, and assesses the way ahead.

Iran, perceiving threat from West, willing to attack on U.S. soil, U.S. intelligence report finds

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Iran is prepared to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States in response to perceived threats from America and its allies, the U.S. spy chief said Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in prepared testimony that an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington that was uncovered last year reflects an aggressive new willingness within the upper ranks of the Islamist republic to authorize attacks against the United States.

That plot “shows that some Iranian officials — probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime,” Clapper said in the testimony, which was submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee in advance of a threat assessment hearing Tuesday. “We are also concerned about Iranian plotting against U.S. or allied interests overseas.”

The assessment signals a potentially dire new direction in the adversarial relationship between the United States and Iran, at a time when there are indications that a covert campaign is already underway to thwart Iran’s alleged ambition to develop a nuclear weapons.

Army Finds Silver Lining In Tough Budget Blueprint

"As important as the 490[,000] number was the fact that we were able to do this over a six-year period," said Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army Chief of Staff, at a Pentagon press conference. "[Army] Secretary McHugh and I are committed to ensuring we walk down this hill at the ready rather than running our nation's Army off a cliff.

" Specifically, while the troop cuts will start in 2012, they don't have to be complete until 2017. Slow and steady, in this case, makes for better personnel management. The steep cuts of the 1990s required buy-outs and other expensive expedients, which often backfired by paying talented troops to leave. This time, said Odierno, "We hope to do it mostly by attrition." So as servicemembers finish out their current enlistment contracts, the Army simply needs to try a little less hard to sign them back up again. That should allow the service to be more selective about who gets offered reenlistment bonuses. (The reductions won't be spread out perfectly evenly, however: The Army took in larger numbers of troops in the years it was growing, and their contracts will likewise expire in large "cohorts" concentrated in a few years).

The second silver lining is that the cuts, all things considered, aren't that dramatic. "We had some problems in the [1990s] when we came down a significant number, almost over 300,000 in the Army," said Odierno. Specifically, from 1987 to 1999, the active-duty Army dropped from 780,000 personnel to 480,000 – a 38 percent reduction. The current plan drops the Army from 570,000 to 490,000 – 14 percent.

Third, certain key cadres will be cut even less.

Afghan Village Fight Illustrates More Lethal COIN Strategy

In the middle of the night on July 23, U.S. Special Forces infiltrated a bowl-shaped valley in Paktika Province in remote eastern Afghanistan. Their target: a major Taliban encampment just outside this, which hadn't had a government presence in decades. Taliban fighters had been using Marzak as a rest stop on the long road between Pakistan and Afghanistan's major cities.

What followed was "one of the biggest fights of the year" in Afghanistan, according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Curtis Taylor, commander of forces in western Paktika. When the sun rose on July 24, around 100 insurgents lay dead. One American had died.

July's Operation Marauder Rapids was a classic counter-terrorism operation, featuring fine-grain intelligence, swiftly-moving Special Forces ... and plenty of dead bad guys.

But what happened next read like a page from the Army's counter-insurgency manual. Starting in November, regular Army troops and their allies in the Afghan army and police flew into Marzak, built a new patrol base, forged ties with local elders and began recruiting and training local police.

This interplay between counter-terrorism (CT) and classic counter-insurgency (COIN) operations lies at the heart of a new, more forceful U.S. approach to defeating insurgencies that's taking hold in eastern Afghanistan in the waning years of the decade-old war.

The deaths of so many insurgents and their leaders outside Marzak had created a temporary vacuum -- one the Taliban realistically would not be able to fill until spring, when the mountain passes open and fresh fighters can move in from Pakistan. "We need to do something permanent about this place before the Taliban comes back," Taylor recalls thinking.

Today, the U.S. and Afghan military footprint in Marzak is steadily growing.

China And NATO Talk Regularly: "Getting To Know You'

The People's Republic of China and NATO hold little known high-level consultations, usually twice a year.

"We have had regular exchanges with the Chinese. They are not frequent," James Appathurai, NATO's deputy assistant secretary general for political affairs and security policy said yesterday. He mentioned the Chinese meetings in passing during a briefing about NATO relations with its many partner nations.

The NATO official described the talks as semi-annual exchanges "at a high level."

One of Washington's top experts on the Chinese military was surprised by word of the regular consultations.

"VERY interesting deal. It allows back-channel communications (not necessarily a bad thing). It seems to occur with little public notice (not necessarily a bad thing)," Dean Cheng of the conservative Heritage Foundation wrote in an email. "On the other hand, five years of this going on, and no real records about it means that we don't know what HAS been discussed here."

Cheng said the NATO-China talks, which Appathurai said included discussions between the NATO Secretary General and Chinese ambassadors to Belgium, raise "an interesting question of whether the Chinese increasingly assume that any conflict with the US WILL involve Western Europe, and on the US side at that. Which makes Chinese space targeting, in particular, an interesting question."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Military Masks Could ‘Give Injured Soldiers Their Faces Back’

An estimated 85 percent of recent wartime injuries caused damage to the extremities or face. Already, the Pentagon’s made swift progress in using regenerative medicine to more effectively heal those wounds. They’re building fresh muscle tissue out of pig cells, repairing damaged flesh with spray-on skin and even fusing broken bones with an injectable compound.

Biomask could be the next of those breakthroughs, if it pans out. It’s the result of a collaboration between engineers at UT Arlington, regenerative medicine specialists at Northwestern University, and experts from the Brooke Army Medical Center and the Army Institute of Surgical Research.

Right now, the mask is in early stages of development. But Eileen Moss, a research scientist at UT Arlington and the project’s leader, tells Danger Room that the team’s already got a good sense of how it’ll look and work. Most importantly, she says, the mask would “give soldiers back the face they had before the injury.”

The mask will be comprised of two major layers. The top, a hard shell, will protect a patient’s face and also store electrical components. Underneath, a flexible polymer mask will fit around the contours of a patient’s face. It’ll be embedded with three more layers: An array of sensors to track the rate of healing, actuators to push up against the wound and hold the mask in place, and a network of micro-tubing and valves to pump therapeutics — whether antibiotics and pain killers or stem cells and growth factor — onto specific regions of the wound.

Futuristic Navy railgun with 220-mile range closer to reality

Imagine a Naval gun so powerful it can shoot a 5-inch projectile up to 220 miles, yet requires no explosives to fire.

That's the Navy's futuristic electromagnetic railgun, a project that could be deployed on the service's ships by 2025, and which is now a little bit closer to reality with the signing of a deal with Raytheon for the development of what's known as the pulse-forming network.

Rather than using explosives to fire projectiles as do conventional naval weapons, the railgun depends on an electromagnetic system that uses the ship's onboard electrical power grid to fire the gun. The pulse-forming network is a system that stores up electrical power and then converts it to a pulse that is directed into the gun's barrel, explained John Cochran, the railgun program manager in Raytheon's Advanced Technology Group.

Essentially, Cochran continued, the process is akin to that of a car's starter, and how turning the ignition sends a jolt of electricity into the solonoid, which then creates a magnetic field in the solonoid/starter system. With the railgun, he said, current is sent into the barrel, forming a magnetic field, and that, in combination with the current, exerts force on a projectile, firing it out of the barrel. At Mach 0.75.

While Raytheon has scored the $10 million project to develop the pulse-forming network, it isn't the only contractor working on such a system. According to Roger Ellis, the program manager for the Railgun program at the Office of Naval Research, the Navy has awarded similar contracts to BAE Systems and General Atomics in a risk-reduction strategy that counts on having multiple contractors attacking a problem in order to arrive at the best possible technology.

Afghan War Allies Risk Fracture Over Troop Withdrawal Timing

Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, who is stepping down from the No. 3 Pentagon post this week, urged that allies fighting in Afghanistan coordinate their withdrawal of troops and commit the money needed to fill the gaps they leave behind.

Flournoy stressed the need for an orderly transition days before French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week accelerated the pace of his country’s withdrawal.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Chicago summit in May should lead to a detailed plan for troop levels leading to the anticipated handover of security control to the Afghans by the end of 2014, Flournoy told reporters at the Pentagon on Jan. 23 as she prepared to leave office this week.

“Some countries may be wanting to put their own plans on the table at that point,” Flournoy said. “What we’re emphasizing is the importance of us all coordinating.”

Sarkozy preempted such planning with his Jan. 27 announcement after a Paris meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, saying France will withdraw its combat troops by the end of 2013, a year ahead of schedule. The French president shortened the timetable after Afghan soldiers killed five French troops in two incidents in the past month.

Navy reassigns head of troubled Littoral Combat Ship program

The program manager of the Navy’s beleaguered Littoral Combat Ship program has become the first high-ranking Navy officer to be fired in 2012, officials from the Naval Sea Systems Command said Friday.

Capt. Jeffrey Riedel has been “temporarily reassigned” by LCS program executive officer Rear Adm. James Murdoch pending a command investigation into allegations of “inappropriate personal behavior,” according to a Navy news release. No further details were available.

Riedel could not be reached for comment, but an automatic reply to his Navy email account said he had been reassigned to Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren, Va.

Riedel’s dismissal comes on the heels of a near record year in firings in the Navy in 2011. There were 23 commanding officers relieved of their commands, just a few shy of the recent high water mark of 26 in 2003. A majority of those relieved were fired for personal misconduct including sexual misconduct and alcohol-related issues.

Edward Foster will serve as the acting LCS program manager until the investigation is completed, the release said.

Rotational forces: New way of doing business in Europe

The ranges in Bulgaria are now empty, but when U.S. forces rotate through later this year to work with allies, those vacant training grounds will be transformed.

“When we show up this summer, we’ll have the targets for them,” said Will Alston, chief of the Regional Training Support Division-Expeditionary team in Grafenwöhr, Germany. “We’ve got it down to a science now.”

The expertise of these six-to-eight man teams will be crucial as the Army begins a system of rotating soldiers in from the United States, to replace the two Europe-based brigades that are being drawn down as part of the Pentagon’s budget cuts.

For the military, reorganizing the force structure in Europe will mean a new way of doing business for some U.S.-based troops while maintaining Europe-based support units that make rotational training possible. It also will pose challenges for commanders, who will have to do more with less and find new ways to use rotational forces to accomplish the mission. Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers can likely expect fewer two- and three-year assignments in Germany.

Rotational forces: New way of doing business in Europe

The ranges in Bulgaria are now empty, but when U.S. forces rotate through later this year to work with allies, those vacant training grounds will be transformed.

“When we show up this summer, we’ll have the targets for them,” said Will Alston, chief of the Regional Training Support Division-Expeditionary team in Grafenwöhr, Germany. “We’ve got it down to a science now.”

The expertise of these six-to-eight man teams will be crucial as the Army begins a system of rotating soldiers in from the United States, to replace the two Europe-based brigades that are being drawn down as part of the Pentagon’s budget cuts.

For the military, reorganizing the force structure in Europe will mean a new way of doing business for some U.S.-based troops while maintaining Europe-based support units that make rotational training possible. It also will pose challenges for commanders, who will have to do more with less and find new ways to use rotational forces to accomplish the mission. Meanwhile, U.S. soldiers can likely expect fewer two- and three-year assignments in Germany.

Navy faces crushing demand for information warfare systems

The Navy has a compelling need for shipboard assurance systems to maintain a secure environment, the service's top command-and-control acquisition official told an overflow audience here at the annual Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association-West conference. AFCEA is an industry group.

Last year, the Navy installed host-based security systems on 348 ships to monitor, detect and deter network cyberattacks. Rear Adm. Jerry Burroughs, program executive officer for command, control, computers, communications and intelligence at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command headquartered here, said SPAWAR remains "crushed" by demands from the fleet to maintain a secure environment for Navy computers, which he considers his top priority.

Burroughs said the cyberattackers the Navy has to deal with use inexpensive tools readily available on the Internet, and the service must adopt similar practices. "We need simple commercial off-the-shelf solutions -- the cheaper the better," Burroughs said, as well as the ability to rapidly field those tools.

Army must cut energy costs to balance budget

The Army must reduce energy costs at its installations and on the battlefield to meet the challenges of a Defense Department budget that will shrink $487 billion during the next decade, Gen. Raymond Odierno, the service's chief of staff, told a Pentagon press briefing Friday.

Odierno did not provide details, but in August 2011 the Army launched a program to seek $7.1 billion in private investments for renewable energy plants on its installations, with the goal of those plants producing more energy than they consume. The surplus, generated by solar, wind or geothermal plants, would be sold on the open market.

The Army also must cut its use of fuel on the battlefield, and BAE Systems has proposed a Toyota Prius approach toward developing the new $7.6 billion ground combat vehicle, which would feature a hybrid electric drive and a battery pack to supplement its diesel engine.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Protest against greater US role in Philippines

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.

Protest against greater US role in Philippines

Philippine activists picketed the US embassy on Saturday and burned a cardboard American flag and mock stealth bomber, vowing to launch a campaign opposing a plan to allow more US troops in the country.

About 50 members of the leftist New Nationalist Alliance (Bayan) also held a huge effigy of Uncle Sam with another of Philippine President Benigno Aquino labelled as his "dog", as riot police prevented them approaching the mission.

"If we allow more US troops to enter our country, the entire archipelago will be transformed into one military outpost for US hegemonic interests," Bayan said in a statement distributed at the rally.

Philippine officials have welcomed plans for a greater presence from the military of its former colonial ruler, seeing it as a counterbalance to recent Chinese aggressiveness in the South China Sea.

US 'bunker-buster' not powerful enough against Iran

The US military has concluded that its largest conventional bomb is not capable of destroying Iran's most heavily fortified underground facilities suspected to be used for building nuclear weapons, The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.

But citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said the military was stepping up efforts to make it more powerful.

The 13.6-ton "bunker-buster" bomb, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, was specifically designed to take out the hardened fortifications built by Iran and North Korea, the report said.

But initial tests indicated that the bomb, as currently configured, would not be capable of destroying some of Iran's facilities, either because of their depth or because Tehran has added new fortifications to protect them, the paper noted.

In a report issued in November, the International Atomic Energy Agency said intelligence from more than 10 countries and its own sources "indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device."

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.

US military reaches further into Asia

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.

US military reaches further into Asia

The United States is forging ahead with plans to expand its military power in Asia, with the Philippines and other allies welcoming troops and the Pentagon devoting funds to design cutting-edge weapons.

Despite pressure to curb spending, President Barack Obama has made clear that he will put a top priority on maintaining the US military's dominant role in East Asia at a time when China is rapidly building its own armed forces.

After two days of talks, senior officials from the United States and the Philippines pledged Friday to enhance security cooperation. The former US colony is locked in increasingly acrimonious disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.

In Manila, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said the Philippines was looking to doing more joint exercises with the United States as well as having a greater number of US troops rotate through the Southeast Asian country.

US says French pullout from Afghanistan coordinated


The United States said Friday that France's announced plans to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan a year early was a "consulted and managed effort" with its allies.

Amid an uproar over the killing last week of unarmed troops, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after meeting Afghan President Hamid Karzai that France would complete its pullout from the NATO-led mission at the end of 2013.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stressed the importance of a coordinated withdrawal even though US and other NATO countries intend to withdraw their combat forces by 2014.

"We obviously want to continue to work together to ensure that this is implemented in the way that is consistent with the efforts of all of NATO to give increasing authority to the Afghans and that it is smooth," Nuland said.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Special operations expanding as wars recede

War is going back under wraps - that's the next-generation plan put forth by the special operations commander who led the Osama bin Laden raid and embraced at the highest levels of the Pentagon and the White House.

Big armies and the land invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan will be replaced by fast and light special operations raids that leave little trace, or better yet, raids by friendly local forces the U.S. has trained, helping fight mutual enemies side by side.

U.S. officials say that's the plan offered by special operations chief Adm. Bill McRaven, who started working last fall to sell defense leaders on a plan to beef up his existing Theater Special Operations commands to reposition staff and equipment for the post-Iraq and Afghanistan wars era.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta shared few details in the new Pentagon budget he outlined Thursday, but officials explained the nascent plan in greater detail to The Associated Press.

As the overall military force shrinks and special operations troops return from their 10-raid-a-night tempo in Iraq and Afghanistan, they'll be redeployed to special operations units in areas somewhat neglected during the decade-long focus on al-Qaida because there were simply too few of them to go around, according to a senior defense official and other current and former U.S. officials briefed on the program.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the details of the proposal and timing of implementation are still being worked out.

While the idea is to work and train with foreign armies, the invigorated network would reinforce and reinvigorate special operations units in regions like the Pacific Rim.

US ground forces would be cut by 100,000

Pentagon leaders outlined a plan Thursday for absorbing $487 billion in defense cuts over the coming decade by shrinking U.S. ground forces, slowing the purchase of a next-generation stealth fighter and retiring older planes and ships.

In a bid to pre-empt election-year Republican criticism, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the plan shifts the Pentagon's focus from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to future challenges in Asia, the Mideast and in cyberspace. More special operations forces like the Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden will be available around the world, he said.

"We believe this is a balanced and complete package," Panetta told a news conference, with Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at his side.

Some lawmakers were quick to dispute him.

"Taking us back to a pre-9/11 military force structure places our country in grave danger," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee that will hold hearings on the Pentagon budget plan.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the Panetta plan "ignores the lessons of history." He said it provides for a military that is "too small to respond effectively to events that may unfold over the next few years."

DOD identifies brigades slated to leave Germany

Two Army heavy brigades based in Germany will return to the United States as part of the new defense posture in Europe, the Department of Defense confirmed Thursday.

The move will send the 172nd Separate Infantry Brigade, based out of Grafenwöhr and Schweinfurt, and the Baumholder-based 170th Infantry Brigade, back to the States.

The 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany, and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy, will remain as the only Army brigades permanently based in Europe.

The announcement came during a preview of new Defense Department budget projections before the president releases the full federal budget request for fiscal 2013 on Feb. 13.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Northrop Grumman, U.S. Navy Test Autonomous Aerial Refueling for Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration

Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy have successfully completed a series of flight tests to demonstrate technology that could help extend the operating range and flight duration of future carrier-based unmanned systems.

The flight tests, completed Jan. 21 in St. Augustine, proved the functionality of the hardware and software that will enable the X-47B unmanned aircraft to demonstrate autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) in 2014.

The AAR activity is part of the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. Northrop Grumman is the Navy's UCAS-D prime contractor.

"These tests are a critical step toward proving that the X-47B can perform autonomous aerial refueling using either the Navy's probe-and-drogue refueling technique or the U.S. Air Force's boom/receptacle approach," said Carl Johnson, vice president and UCAS-D program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector.

"Future unmanned systems will need to use both refueling techniques if they plan to conduct longer range surveillance or strike missions from the carrier."

More Limits on U.S. Space Systems Unacceptable

The Obama Administration launched a push for an international Code of Conduct pertaining to activities of space-faring nations, but its activities have been cloaked in secrecy. This lack of transparency caused 37 Republican Senators to request more information about the Administration's negotiations on this issue in February 2011.

According to Ellen Tauscher, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, "We will never do a legally binding agreement because I can't do one. I can't get anything ratified." It appears that the Administration is trying to circumvent the Senate's constitutional role in consenting to the ratification of international agreements that should be concluded as treaties.

Negative Implications for the U.S. Military
Arms control treaties, such as the Washington and London naval limitation treaties, are designed to limit the quantity and quality of arms in the possession of the participating states during times of peace. They cease to pertain during times of war.

Laws of war treaties, such as the Geneva or Hague Conventions, on the other hand, are designed to dictate how the armed forces of participating states operate in times of war. If these restrictions are not honored, service members may be subject to courts martial as war criminals by their military justice systems.

The Code of Conduct for space will be as much about restricting how space forces are used by the U.S. military as about limiting their types and numbers. For example, participating states will have to operate their space forces in ways that prevent the generation of space debris.

US plans to cut troops, invest in future

The Pentagon on Thursday proposed taking some 100,000 troops off active duty as the debt-ridden United States winds down a decade of war, but vowed new investments to exert power in Asia and the Middle East.

With pressure mounting to balance the US books, President Barack Obama's administration sought a nine percent cut in the 2013 budget compared with last year's request by retiring older ships and planes and pulling back two brigades from Europe.

But the administration called for investment on new projects including a futuristic floating base for special operations and drones, and assigning elite Brigade Combat Teams with language training to each region of the world.

"We are at a strategic turning point after a decade of war and substantial growth in defense budgets," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said as he unveiled a preview of the Pentagon's 2013 budget requests.

Panetta vowed to maintain US power in the Middle East and Asia -- where China's growing military has concerned the United States and its allies -- including by modernizing submarines and funding a next-generation bomber.

Panetta called for funding to station littoral combat ships in Singapore and patrol craft in Bahrain -- part of the US strategy of forward-deploying its military to strategically placed US allies.

'Autonomous' combat drones debated

Researchers say a drone aircraft being tested by the U.S. Navy that could conduct a combat mission without human involvement raises troubling ethical questions.

The drone, designed to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier, operates not only with no pilot in the cockpit but with no pilot at all, raising the specter of a pre-programmed semi-independently operating machine capable of wreaking mayhem on its own.

While humans would program the autonomous drone's flight plan and could override its decisions, many find the concept of a heavily armed aircraft operating without direct human control worrisome.

"Lethal actions should have a clear chain of accountability," Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist and robotics expert, told the Los Angeles Times. "This is difficult with a robot weapon.

NATO sees little progress in missile talks with Russia

NATO and Russia have made little progress in talks to cooperate on a US-led missile shield for Europe, and failing a deal may have to drop plans for a summit in May, NATO's secretary general said Thursday.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen held out hope that the former Cold War foes will reach agreement before the 28-nation alliance holds its own summit in Chicago on May 20-21.

"However, I also have to make it clear that we have not made much progress so far," he said.

"We have had a lot of talks. These talks will continue. Maybe we will not have a clarified situation until a few weeks before the summit," Rasmussen said.

"We still keep it as an option to have a NATO-Russia summit in Chicago, but if there's no deal, probably there will be no summit."

U.S. Somalia raid is shape of war to come

The U.S. Navy SEAL raid into violence-wracked Somalia to rescue two Western hostages is widely seen as a harbinger of more wide-ranging covert U.S. operations against terrorists and their allies.

Wednesday's operation by helicopter-borne commandos of SEAL Team 6, the same unit that assassinated Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani hideout in May, underlined U.S. President Barack Obama's new focus on Special Forces as the cutting edge of U.S. military power in the global battle against Islamist militants.

The SEALs parachuted into Somalia near the town of Adado during the night raid, then moved in on foot to a pirate camp where the hostages were being held. They took the captors by surprise as they slept after an evening spent chewing qat leaves, a mild narcotic.

Nine of the kidnappers were killed and the two captives -- Jessica Buchanan, a 32-year-old American; and Pula Hagen Thisted, a 60-year-old Dane -- were freed unharmed.

U.S. Army chief at ease with smaller force, eyes Asia

The U.S. Army chief told Reuters on the eve of a major Pentagon budget announcement that he's comfortable with plans to shrink the size of his force and shift the military's focus to Asia, saying the Army will remain relevant and capable.

General Raymond Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, declined to disclose figures the Pentagon is due to unveil that envision a smaller Army and the withdrawal of two brigade combat teams from Europe. Those fixed brigades will be replaced by rotational units.

"We're now out of Iraq, we're reducing our commitment in Afghanistan, so we can now bring the size of the Army down. And I feel comfortable with how we're going to do that," Odierno said in an interview from his Pentagon office.

"It's more about the timeline we bring it down on, and I'm satisfied with that timeline."

The Pentagon will preview President Barack Obama's budget proposal for the Pentagon on Thursday. It is expected to cut $260 billion in projected defense spending over the next five years and favor services like the Navy and the Air Force over the Army and Marines.

A U.S. official confirmed media reports that the Pentagon plans to slash eight Army brigades and reduce the overall force to as few as 490,000 over the next decade from around 565,000. But Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have said they will not hollow-out the force with the kind of cuts the military endured in the wake of the Vietnam war.

Georgia to Almost Double its Troops in Afghanistan in 2012

NATO 3.0

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

Georgia plans to strengthen its almost 1,000-strong peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan by 700 more troops in 2012, Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said on Wednesday.

While other nations participating in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan are pulling their troops out of the war-torn country, President Mikheil Saakashvili proposed last year to increase the number of Georgian peacekeepers and the country’s lawmakers approved his move in December.

Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, Vashadze said Georgia “has solid intentions to continue participating in the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan.”

Georgia, which is actively seeking NATO membership, joined the international U.S.-led coalition fighting the Afghan insurgency in August of 2009.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

F-22 & F-35 Vital to US Strategy

Fifth-generation fighter aircraft are key to America maintaining domain dominance in the years ahead, Air Force officials said in Washington DC on Jan. 24.

Lt. Gen. Christopher D. Miller, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs, and Maj. Gen. Noel T. "Tom" Jones, the service's director for operation capability requirements, said the technology -- exemplified in the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter -- assumes greater importance in combating growing anti-access, area-denial capabilities.

The generals spoke during a media roundtable in the Pentagon.

Fifth-generation aircraft are particularly valuable as part of the new defense strategy guidance that President Barack Obama unveiled here earlier this month, they said. That strategy explicitly affirms that the U.S. military must be able to defeat anti-access, area-denial threats.

"This is not a new thing," Miller said. "Militaries have operated in anti-access environments probably since the beginning of time. But what is different, and why fifth-generation aircraft is relevant to that, is that operating in anti-access environments continues to become more complex and challenging."

There is a continuing competition between nations developing anti-access capabilities and others devising ways to defeat that, the general said.

"Fifth-generation aircraft are a key ability that the Air Force is bringing to the nation's ability to operate in those environments," he added.

The Air Force has flown against anti-access environments since it was founded. American fighters countered this capability in the skies over Korea and Vietnam. Airmen faced off against surface-to-air missiles ringing Hanoi. In the Persian Gulf War, Airmen defeated the ground-to-air threat over Iraq, and most recently, they knocked out the anti-access capabilities around Tripoli.

But missile technology has become more complex and more difficult to counter. Command-and-control capabilities have grown. This will require a new set of capabilities flying against them, Jones told reporters.

"The fifth-generation capabilities that the F-22 and F-35 possess will allow us to deal with that environment," he said.

F-22s and F-35s bring maneuverability, survivability, advanced avionics and stealth technology to the fight. Both planes are multi-role capable, able to fight air-to-air and air-to-ground.

"These capabilities give our leaders the ability to hold any target at risk, anywhere in the globe, at any time," Jones said. "I think it is important for any adversary to understand we possess those capabilities and intend to continue the development."

Another aspect of the strategy includes the ability to operate against adversaries across the spectrum of conflict. F-22s and F-35s are particularly relevant at the top of the spectrum, "where we can't always set the conditions for our operations as easily as we have in the last couple of decades of military conflict," Miller said.

This is an extremely valuable capability that must be nurtured, the generals said.

Americans have become used to having domain dominance, Miller said, expecting U.S. service members to be able to operate on land, at sea, in the air with a fair degree of autonomy as they pursue national objectives.

"This is not a birthright," Miller said. "That is something we have had to work very hard in the past to gain, ... and we can't take for granted that we are going to be able to support the joint team in future environments unless we maintain a high-end capability to target an adversary's air forces, their surface-to-air forces and basically be able to seize control of parts of the air space and other domains the joint commander needs.

"It's an Air Force capability," he added, "but it's a key Air Force contribution to the joint warfighting capability of the nation."

Gingrich Vows to Deploy Covert U.S. Forces to Topple Castro Regime

Newt Gingrich would deploy covert U.S. forces to Cuba to help topple the Communist regime led by Fidel Castro, the Republican presidential candidate said Monday.

The former House speaker said as president he would implement a policy "aggressively to overthrow the regime" of Fidel and Raul Castro. The Communist dictator brothers have ruled America's southern neighbor since 1976, with the latter officially taking over as the island nation's president in February 2008.

"A Gingrich presidency would not tolerate four more years of this dictatorship," Gingrich said during a debate on NBC. Asked whether he would use covert U.S. military troops to bring about his desired regime change, the tough-talking candidate said he would use "every asset available to the United States, including covert operations ... to minimize the survival of the dictatorship."

The Cuban issue is a controversial one in Florida, where the GOP candidates are campaigning hard ahead of next Tuesday's primary there. Miami, for instance, is home to a large Cuban population, and many flee the island nation each year bound for Florida.

U.S. Commandos Enter Pirate Camp, Rescue Hostages

American commandos flew into Somalia Tuesday and rescued two hostages who had been kidnapped by pirates based there, a mission ordered by President Barack Obama before he addressed the nation, the Pentagon said.

Obama appeared to congratulate Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for something Tuesday evening as he entered the House chamber to deliver his third State of the Union address.

Hours later, the Pentagon said in a statement that American Jessica Buchanan and her Danish colleague Poul Thisted had been rescued by U.S. special operations forces. Both are employed by the Danish Demining Group and had been nabbed by Somali pirates on Oct. 25, 2011.

The duo have been "transported to a safe location where we will evaluate their health and make arrangements for them to return home," the Pentagon said.

One report from the region said the U.S. commandos killed nine pirates. The Defense Department statement did not reference any killings, but it did say the American troops entered a "hostile environment".

Obama Administration Quietly Altering Military's Global Presence

The Obama administration is ushering in a new era in which the meaning of what constitutes a U.S. military presence in some corners of the globe will look very different than it does today.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in recent weeks has used words like "innovative" and "rotational" when describing how a leaner military will maintain a presence in places it's been for decades—like Europe—as well as emerging hot spots like Africa and Asia. Analysts and lawmakers are quick to note that the defense chief isn't talking about maintaining all permanent bases in Europe or building ones in new regions—ushering in a major shift in the way America flexes its military muscle overseas.

The Obama administration's new national defense strategy, released this month, says smaller annual Pentagon budgets "will require innovative and creative solutions to maintain our support for allies." And smaller budgets will mean "thoughtful choices will need to be made regarding the location and frequency of these operations."

Panetta has said in recent weeks that the U.S. military will shift course from decades-old practices toward developing "low-cost and small-footprint approaches to achieving our security objectives."

U.S.-Japan Commence Exercise Yama Sakura

Two bilateral command post exercises with Japan kicked off yesterday and today, reflecting the growing strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region as outlined in the new defense strategy guidance President Barack Obama announced earlier this month.

Japanese and U.S. military forces launched Keen Edge 12 yesterday at Yokota, Japan. The biennial exercise continues through Jan. 27.

Today, Exercise Yama Sakura kicked off, with operations to run through Feb. 5. Both exercises are designed to increase interoperability of U.S. and Japanese forces and their readiness to defend against external threats, officials said.

By providing realistic, combined and joint training that enhances both countries' combat readiness posture, they in turn provide for regional stability and security, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bill Clinton, a U.S. Pacific Command spokesman.

"These regular engagements showcase our commitment to peace and security in the region and to the protection of U.S. interests and those of our partners and allies," he said.

Keen Edge historically has been part of an annual exercise series that alternates between field training exercises, called Keen Sword, and command-and-control exercises.

About 500 U.S. personnel and about 1,380 Japanese forces are participating in this year's command post exercise, or CPX, during which headquarters staffs will use computer simulations to practice steps they would take in the event of a crisis or contingency.

Participants will practice responding to events ranging from non-combatant evacuations and force-protection scenarios to integrated air and missile defense to enhance bilateral coordination and cooperation, officials said.

Forces involved will use the computer-based Joint Theater Level Simulation System to direct and respond to exercise events. This system, officials reported, helps provide a realistic environment for commanders and staffs as they react and respond in real time to events generated by computer simulation.

U.S. participants in Keen Edge 2012 hail from U.S. Forces Japan headquarters; 13th Air Force, with headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and in Japan through its Detachment 1; U.S. Naval Forces Japan; U.S. Army Japan; and Marine Forces Japan.

Meanwhile, nearly 800 U.S. military personnel and more than 3,500 Japanese forces are participating in Yama Sakura, the largest bilateral exercise between the U.S. Army Pacific and Japanese ground forces since the Great Tohoku Earthquake in March.

About 150 U.S. Soldiers from the 8th Army headquarters element at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, will serve as the higher command for participating U.S. forces, which include members of U.S. Army Japan.

The exercise, officials said, will focus on bilateral and joint planning, coordination and interoperability of ground-based elements of the U.S. and Japan security alliance.

Officials called these command post exercises a cost-effective way to provide participants realistic and unobtrusive training in a simulated crisis or contingency operation while improving their ability to work together.

During senior-level talks between U.S. and Japanese military leaders last month about future operations and engagement between the two countries, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ted Kresge, 13th Air Force commander, said interoperability strengthens the bilateral alliance.

Kresge noted the success of the humanitarian relief mission after a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan last March. American aid to the Japanese ultimately included 20 ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, almost 20,000 personnel and huge amounts of supplies and heavy equipment.

"As was demonstrated during Operation Tomodachi, there is tremendous value added in working and exercising side-by-side," Kresge said. "When real-world events occur, we are better able to operate in a joint environment and respond effectively and efficiently."

Meanwhile, 8th Army officials said Exercise Yama Sakura helps to ensure its ability to operate with its other U.S. and Japanese counterparts to defend South Korea as well as maintain regional security.

"This exercise improves 8th Army's ability to deter or defeat aggression on the Korean peninsula," said Brig. Gen. David J. Conboy, 8th Army's deputy commander. "It also helps strengthen the Republic of Korea-United States alliance by enabling critical staff coordination and collaboration at the multinational level."

Clinton said engagements like these support the new defense strategy guidance that recognizes the challenges as well as opportunities in Asia and the Pacific.

That strategic guidance, announced earlier this month, provides a strategic vision intended to guide the military through 2020 with its heavy focus on the region.

"Through continuous evaluation of our force posture and engagement activities, we will work with our regional partners and allies to maintain the military strength to protect our interests, defend our allies and deter potential adversaries from acts of aggression and intimidation," Clinton said.

U.S. relationships with Asian allies and key partners will remain critical to the region's future stability and growth, Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, U.S. Pacific Command's commander, told the Annual Hawaii Military Partnership Conference on Jan. 6, the day after the guidance was announced.

In addition to strengthening existing alliances that have provided a vital foundation for regional security, Willard said, the United States also will strive to forge closer ties with emerging regional partners.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

DoD Strategy, Army Reset Should Bolster Helo, Drone Budgets

One lesson the Army has taken to heart from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the value -- and often the necessity -- of aviation to soldiers fighting on the ground. This is one reason that, even as the Army shrinks by a reported 80,000 or more troops under President Obama's new military strategy, and even as defense spending is cut at least $487 billion over the next decade, Army aviation won't get cut much.

"If you have fewer troops, you need to move them quicker and more safely, given the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) threat," reasons retired Maj. Gen. Andy Andreson, who ran the Army's UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter program in the early 1980s and then the RAH-66 Comanche attack helicopter project, which was canceled well after he retired.

The Obama administration's new strategic guidance makes it pretty clear that the Army and Marines will need substantial helicopter and drone fleets. "Our ground forces will be responsive and capitalize on balanced lift, presence, and prepositioning to maintain the agility needed to remain prepared for the several areas in which such conflicts could occur," the guidance asserts. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made the case more eloquently, noting that U.S. forces would be "smaller and leaner, but will be agile, flexible, ready and technologically advanced." Agile, flexible and ready would seem a pretty powerful argument in favor of a robust Army aviation capability.

A vivid illustration of why Army aviation is so valued, and stretched painfully thin at times, aired Sept. 20 on the CBS Evening News. Pentagon correspondent David Martin's powerful report shows the last moments of a soldier who died in Afghanistan last September after being wounded by an IED. His death was blamed on the lack of an armed helicopter to escort the unarmed medevac chopper needed to get him to treatment within the so-called Golden Hour. As Martin noted, however, "Today in Afghanistan, a wounded soldier stands a 92 percent chance of surviving -- the highest rate of any war."

A primary reason for that survival rate is helicopters, which have saved countless lives in other ways as well, from providing air cover for troops in contact with the enemy and convoys in danger of being ambushed to transporting soldiers and supplies without the risk of hitting a roadside bomb.

While Army aviation primarily means helicopters, ground commanders also have come to rely during the wars of the past 10 years on the growing fleet of unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Counter-IED product heads to Afghanistan

Robotic manipulator arms used to detect and counter improvised explosive devices are being sent to Afghanistan for U.S. military evaluation.

RE2 Inc., a Pennsylvania developer of modular manipulator systems, said 100 of its DS1-MA Manipulator Arms are scheduled for delivery to the California company that makes the Armadillo Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle.

Once integrated, the vehicles will be shipped to the war zone, where the U.S. Department of Defense's will test the manipulator arms.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shrinking defense budget worries small businesses

The obstacles small businesses face trying to win their first Defense Department contracts will likely grow, and some existing small defense firms could be driven out of business in the coming years, amid billions in planned defense cuts and the drawdown from two wars.

The cuts could stall progress in states such as North Carolina, home to the Army's Fort Bragg and the Marines' Camp Lejeune, where leaders have made it a priority to create jobs by helping entrepreneurs take advantage of the state's large military footprint.

Business and political leaders in Florida, South Carolina and other states have created public-private organizations in recent years to help entrepreneurs capture money from the Defense Department. The potential is staggering: The federal government spends about $300 billion annually on defense contracts with a goal that 23 percent go to small businesses.

Many of the small businesses are run by veterans who have spent years trying to win contracts that could anchor their companies' futures.

Experts say those small businesses are the most vulnerable during reductions because they're less flexible. Their survival often is connected to one or a few specific aspects of the military that can be cut or eliminated.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

F-35B fighter project to resume

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Friday that he is resuming a troubled program to build a short-takeoff and vertical landing variant of the new F-35 fighter.

The F-35B, the most complex and costly of the fighter's three variants, has been beset by development delays and cost overruns.

The setbacks led Panetta's predecessor Robert Gates to announce in January 2011 that he was putting the aircraft on probation for two years, and would cancel the program if its problems were not fixed.

At the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, the home of the US Navy's test pilot school, Panetta said "real progress" had been made and the threat weighing on the aircraft's future had been lifted.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Panetta, on Enterprise, says cuts won't weaken Navy

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta used his first visit to an aircraft carrier at sea to reassure the crew of the Norfolk-based Enterprise on Saturday that even as he prepares to cut billions in defense spending, America's Navy will remain healthy and strong.

With the roar of jet engines at times drowning him out, Panetta vowed before nearly 2,000 sailors gathered in the ship's hangar bay that he will maintain the Navy's carrier fleet at 11. He said that as the military downsizes, the Navy will only become more important because of its ability to project American power anywhere in the world, even on short notice.

In return, he offered a pledge that the cuts the Pentagon will unveil in the coming weeks - $490 billion over the next 10 years - won't leave a hollowed-out force.

While he said some Navy programs will face cuts and the military as a whole will come out smaller, it will also be more agile, more deployable and more technologically advanced, he said. It will remain capable of taking on any aggressor and focused on the Middle East, all while adding renewed focus in the Pacific.

Speaking later to reporters, Panetta couldn't say whether that might eventually mean that one or more of the Navy's Atlantic-based carriers moves west, though he said no decision to that effect has been made so far.

Asked how long he envisions maintaining 11 carriers, Panetta was less equivocal.

"It's a long-term commitment," he said.

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.

Friday, January 20, 2012

'France suspends Afghan training, mulls withdrawal'

France on Friday suspended all training and joint operations in Afghanistan after an Afghan soldier shot dead four of its troops, and President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was mulling an early withdrawal. "The French army is alongside its allies but we cannot accept that a single one of our soldiers be wounded or killed by our allies, it's unacceptable," Sarkozy said, dispatching defence minister Gerard Longuet to Afghanistan.

Longuet and army chief of staff Admiral Edouard Guillaud will establish the circumstances of Friday's shooting in which an Afghan soldier shot dead four French troops and wounded 16 before being arrested.

"Between now and then all training, joint combat operations by the French army are suspended," Sarkozy said.

"If security conditions are not clearly established, then the question of an early return of the French army will be asked."

NATO 3.0

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

New truncal tourniquet ready for battlefield use

Saving the lives of combat wounded is one of the main objectives at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Research on prehospital care devices like the tourniquet has proven to save lives in the battlefield wounds to the arms or legs, which was once the most common cause of preventable death.

Now, after almost two years of research on a device to prevent the most common cause of preventable death in the battlefield, the junctional tourniquet is ready for battlefield use.

"Exsanguination, or bleeding to death, from the body is now the most common cause of preventable death to wounded warriors on the battlefield," said Dr. John F. Kragh, an orthopedic surgeon and researcher at U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, or USAISR. "Groin hemorrhage is the most common type of junctional bleeding where regular tourniquets cannot work."

Research on the effectiveness and type of battlefield truncal tourniquet began in 2009 after the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care made it a research priority. Shortly after this, the Combat Casualty Care Research Program, of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, and USAISR headquarters requested candidate devices for the research.

The Combat Ready Clamp, or CRoC, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is manufactured by Combat Medical Systems in Fayetteville, N.C. This clamp was selected from a handful of junctional tourniquet prototypes from those submitted after the request for candidate devices.

"The CRoC is a vice-like tourniquet that can be placed over the groin and lower abdomen," said Kragh. "A pressure ball is screwed down to press on the artery and to stop the bleeding."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Mobile Landing Platform Ship Keel Laid

According to a press release today, General Dynamics NASSCO hosted a keel laying ceremony for the first Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) ship at the company's shipyard in San Diego . Mrs. Pat Mills was the honoree for the ceremony. She is the wife of U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Richard P. Mills , Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration.

Mrs. Mills validated the keel laying by welding her initials into the ship's structure. The steel plate with her initials will be permanently affixed to the ship's keel, remaining with the vessel throughout its time in service.

Delivery of the first MLP ship is scheduled for May 2013 . The 765-foot long ship will be used as staging areas for the Navy and Marines. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus recently announced that this first MLP ship will be named Montford P will become the core of the Navy/Marine Corps sea basing concept. This capability will allow prepositioning ships to offload equipment and supplies to the MLP for transshipment to shore by other vessels.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

US to Launch Space Arms-Control Initiative

The United States is launching a new space arms-control initiative, as a Russian official accuses a U.S. radar of being behind the failure of Russia's Mars probe.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announce the initiative later on Tuesday, the Washington Times reported.

The plan will draw on a 2008 European Union draft code of conduct for space, an unnamed administration official told the paper.

"The United States has decided to enter into formal consultations and negotiations with the European Union and other spacefaring nations to develop an International Code of Conduct," the official said.

"We believe the European Union's draft Code of Conduct is a solid foundation for future negotiations on reaching a consensus international code," the official said, adding negotiations to sign the code may stretch well into next year.

In 2008, Washington rejected an international treaty proposed by Russia and China to ban the use of weapons in outer space.
Contested, Congested and Competitive:
US Space Security Posture and Military Space Forces

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

Monday, January 16, 2012

US hopes for Russian missile shield accord this year

The United States hopes to reach a deal with Russia by the end of the year for the deployment of a ballistic missile shield in Europe, the State Department's top arms control official said.

"We will get a missile defense agreement for cooperation with Russia," Undersecretary of State for Arms Control Ellen Tauscher said Thursday, according to the website of Foreign Policy magazine.

"This is the place where we can begin to put aside the Cold War and mutually assured destruction' and move toward mutually assured stability'."

President Dmitry Medvedev said in November that Moscow was prepared to deploy short-range Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad enclave that borders EU members Poland and Lithuania in response to the deployment of a missile shield.

Study analyzes countries' cyber-power

Britain and Germany are among the top five countries with the capability to withstand cyberattacks and protect their economies, a study indicates.

The ranking among 19 of the Group of 20 members countries studied is the result of the Cyber Power Index, a study sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton of the United States and conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"The Cyber Power Index identifies those countries that understand what it takes to operate in a digital era Â… and those that don't," said Booz Allen Hamilton Vice Chairman Mike McConnell.

The Cyber Power Index gauges digital adoption, cybersecurity and a country's economic and regulatory environment to cyber-power.

The United States is also on the top five list, as are Australia and Canada.

Cyber Defense

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

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

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

Israel needs $3.9B to fund Arrow plan: May Turn to U.S.

Amid controversial cuts in Israel's defense budget and concerns of new conflict in the Middle East, the Defense Ministry is grappling with the problem of funding costly plans to build a multi-layered shield against Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles.

Ministry sources say, for instance, that $3.9 billion is needed to produce more batteries of the long-range, high-altitude Arrow anti-missile system built by Israel Aerospace Industries and the Boeing Co. of the United States.

In situations like this, particularly with the threat of war looming so large these days, it's possible that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's right-wing government will turn to the United States for financial support.

Netanyahu's relations with U.S. President Barack Obama have been strained of late, but providing funds to aid Israel's military could be a big boost for Obama's looming re-election campaign.

The United States provides Israel with $3 billion a year in military aid, as well as other indirect support.

More than half the $3 billion cost of developing and building the Arrow over the last decade was covered by Washington.

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 as well as Israel. 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.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Non-citizen recruits less likely to wash out

The armed forces have enlisted nearly 70,000 non-citizens since the attacks of 9/11 and, as a group, their washout rate is much lower than that of American citizens who enlist, according CNA, a think tank that studied attrition data gathered by the Defense Manpower Data Center.

Within three months of entering active service, 8.2 percent of citizen enlistees have been discharged. That is more than double the 4 percent attrition rate of non-citizens who volunteer to serve in America’s military.

At the three-year mark, 28 percent of citizens have left before completing initial service obligations while the washout rate for non-citizens remains significantly lower, at 16 percent. And the disparity widens by the four-year mark, with 32 percent of citizen recruits having been discharged versus only 18 percent of non-citizen accessions.

The results don’t change much when adjusted for age or other demographic differences between the two groups of volunteers, or even when comparisons are broken out by branch of service, CNA analysts found.

“These findings are consistent with the anecdotal evidence we gathered in our interviews of recruiters and non-citizen recruits,” wrote researchers Molly F. McIntosh and Seema Sayala. “The interviews revealed that, relative to citizen recruits, non-citizen recruits generally have a stronger attachment to serving the United States, which they now consider to be ‘their country,’ and [they] have a better work ethic.”

Given their lower attrition rate, which saves on recruiting and training costs, and the diversity of language and cultural skills that non-citizens have, CNA recommends that the services develop strategies to recruit more non-citizens, particularly as the U.S. economy improves, recruiting gets more difficult and demand stays high for foreign language skills.

2 Army brigades to leave Europe in cost-cutting move

The Obama administration has decided to remove two of the four U.S. Army brigades remaining in Europe as part of a broader effort to cut $487 billion from the Pentagon’s budget over the next decade, said senior U.S. officials.

The reductions in Army forces, which have not been formally announced, are likely to concern European officials, who worry that the smaller American presence reflects a waning of interest in the decades-long U.S.-NATO partnership in Europe.

Top Pentagon officials have sought to allay the concerns by telling their NATO allies in private meetings that the United States will continue to rotate Army units through Europe on training missions to augment the presence of the remaining two brigades.

“In the briefing we’ve been giving the Europeans, we have made clear that there is going to be this rotational presence there that will be conducting exercises,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in an interview.

“As a matter of fact, they will probably see more of the Americans under the new strategy because the brigades that were there were actually fighting in Afghanistan and weren’t even there. . . . What you are going to have is two [brigades] plus this large rotational presence that is going to be there.”

The reductions are part of a Pentagon plan to shrink the Army from its current 560,000 soldiers to about 490,000, defense officials said. The cuts are being driven by a new defense strategy that calls for smaller, faster and more agile forces and a shift in focus toward the Asia-Pacific region, where China has been investing in submarines, fighter jets and precision-guided missiles.

Senior Obama administration officials have targeted Europe for cuts because they recognize that reductions in U.S. forces abroad will generate less congressional outcry than cuts in the United States, where the soldiers pump money into local economies.

Dempsey: New Strategy Offers More Opportunities Than Liabilities

The Defense Department’s new military strategy offers it more opportunities than liabilities, and the military is not being victimized by the need for a leaner budget, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said tonight.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff addressed hundreds of attendees at Duke University’s Page Auditorium during the annual Ambassador S. Davis Phillips Family International Lectureship.

“The real question from me to the service chiefs and the secretary of defense is how can we look at changing the way we deliver our objectives given these [budget constraints] and, actually, its enormous opportunity,” Dempsey said.

“I think there is as much opportunity as liability,” he added.

The chairman stressed that the military services are not being victimized by the U.S. economic crisis.

“We clearly have a role to play, all of us as citizens, in helping the nation address this economic crisis,” he said. “We understand that for the nation to overcome its debt crisis and some of the other economic challenges it has, we have to get a hold of costs. And we will.”

Dempsey added, “This is something that we, the Joint Chiefs, have embraced as what’s best for America, and we’ll figure it out.”

The most important part of the emerging defense strategy “and where we’re trying to get between now and 2020,” he said, is that the United States is and must always be a world power.

President Barack Obama released the strategic guidance alongside Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Dempsey on at the Pentagon on Jan. 5. The guidance describes how the military will maintain superiority by becoming more agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.

The strategy honors four principles -- that the U.S. military must remain preeminent, that there will be no hollow force, that financial savings must be balanced, and that the all-volunteer force must be preserved, keeping faith with men and women in uniform and their families.

“It’s a real strategy,” Dempsey told the Duke University audience. “We made some real choices. We’ve taken real ownership of it. It seeks a balance of principle and pragmatism.”

The nation’s military needs in 2020 are “what we should be thinking about,” Dempsey said.

That means some combination of changed relationships between the traditional and conventional military components, the emerging components such as cyber, the lessons of the last 10 years of war, especially special operations forces, the chairman added.

“It’s a new relationship among the services potentially … a change in the way we approach security challenges [and] shifts in geographic priorities,” he said.

Also changed is the two-war construct, Dempsey said -- the idea that arose in the era of the Soviet Union that the United States should be able to fight two large-scale land wars at the same time.

“Somebody said, ‘Aha, you’re taking that language out because now you’re only going to fight one war,” he said. “I would never say that. The nation doesn’t need a military that can only do one thing at a time. The nation needs a military that can do multiple things” to give the nation’s leaders as many options as possible.

Taking the two-war wording out of the defense strategy released the department from the “tyranny of language” associated with that construct, Dempsey said.

“That was fine when the world was like that and it was fine when resources were not an independent variable,” the chairman said, “and so by freeing ourselves from that tyranny of vocabulary I think what we can actually allow ourselves to do now is to think differently about how we achieve the outcome.”

Intelligence study glum on Afghan war, at odds with DOD portrayal

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


The U.S. intelligence community says in a secret new assessment that the war in Afghanistan is mired in stalemate, and warns that security gains from an increase in American troops have been undercut by pervasive corruption, incompetent governance and Taliban fighters operating from neighboring Pakistan, according to U.S. officials.

The sobering judgments, laid out in a classified National Intelligence Estimate completed last month and delivered to the White House, appeared at odds with recent optimistic statements by Pentagon officials and have deepened divisions between U.S. intelligence agencies and American military commanders about progress in the decade-old war.

The detailed document, known as an NIE, runs more than 100 pages and represents the consensus view of the CIA and 15 other U.S. intelligence agencies. Similar in tone to an NIE prepared a year ago, it challenges the Pentagon's claim to have achieved lasting security gains in Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan, said U.S. officials who have read or been briefed on its contents.

In a section looking at future scenarios, the NIE also asserts that the Afghan government in Kabul may not be able to survive as the U.S. steadily pulls out its troops and reduces military and civilian assistance.

Nangalam: A symbol of the Afghan war's troubles

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


Most Americans in Afghanistan are doing their best in a war that's now in its 11th year. Why has it taken this long?

CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward found one reason in the Pech Valley. Americans lost their lives there building a base called Nangalam. When they tried to hand over their gains to the Afghan army, the base went to ruin.

This is one part of Afghanistan that America thought it could finally leave. But U.S. troops are back, trying once again to train their Afghan allies.

A new Afghan army unit has been brought in, with a new commander, Colonel Turab. "It will take about 30 years" for the Afghan army to be ready, Turab said through a translator. "And if they are reformed and the corruption is removed, ten years."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

U.S. intelligence report on Afghanistan sees stalemate

The U.S. intelligence community says in a secret new assessment that the war in Afghanistan is mired in stalemate, and warns that security gains from an increase in American troops have been undercut by pervasive corruption, incompetent governance and Taliban fighters operating from neighboring Pakistan, according to U.S. officials.

The sobering judgments, laid out in a classified National Intelligence Estimate completed last month and delivered to the White House, appeared at odds with recent optimistic statements by Pentagon officials and have deepened divisions between U.S. intelligence agencies and American military commanders about progress in the decade-old war.

The detailed document, known as an NIE, runs more than 100 pages and represents the consensus view of the CIA and 15 other U.S. intelligence agencies. Similar in tone to an NIE prepared a year ago, it challenges the Pentagon's claim to have achieved lasting security gains in Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan, according to U.S. officials who have read or been briefed on its contents.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Army sought 'universal' radio, but created a boondoggle

As several dozen soldiers from the U.S. Army’s Task Force Rock drove into Afghanistan’s Chowkay Valley one morning in March 2010, Taliban fighters immediately began moving into ambush positions along a higher ridge. The force’s mission was to protect a U.S. reconstruction team as it met with village leaders, but it was stuck in place as the Taliban reached their fighting posts.

What tied the soldiers down were their radios: a forest of plastic and metal cubes sprouting antennae of different lengths and sizes. They had short-range models for talking with the reconstruction team, longer-range versions for reaching headquarters 25 miles away and a backup satellite radio in case the mountains blocked the transmission. An Air Force controller carried his own radio for talking to jet fighters overhead and a separate radio for downloading streaming video from the aircraft.

Some of these radios worked only while the troopers were stationary; others were simply too cumbersome to operate on the move. “Not good,” Spc. Geoff Pearman said as he watched farmers scurry indoors from their wheat fields, a sure sign that fighting was imminent.

Task Force Rock’s vulnerability that morning is routine for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But it was never supposed to happen.

Almost 15 years ago, the Army launched an ambitious program, the Joint Tactical Radio System, aimed at developing several highly compatible “universal” radios.

Rockets to flatten Osama bin Laden Pakistan hideout

Next month, in an event slated to take place before a sandstorm of news media cameras, Pakistani officials say they will flatten the Pakistani house where for years, Osama bin Laden eluded capture -- until he was killed last May by U.S. Navy SEALs, according to the U.K.'s Sun.

Military chiefs in Pakistan plan to flatten with rocket-propelled grenades, then bulldoze the house in Abbottabad in an effort to keep the walled complex from becoming a shrine to the former al-Qaida, the Sun reported.

"We will hit it like an enemy fort. But first we must erase everything related to bin Laden from our country," the Sun quoted Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister.