Wednesday, February 29, 2012

German, U.S. Officials Discuss New Military Hospital to Replace Landstuhl LRMC

U.S. senior military leaders hosted German federal, state and local government representatives here Feb. 27 to talk about the proposed new Kaiserslautern Military Community Medical Center.

The purpose of the meeting, according to officials, was to familiarize the German leaders with the current status of the project, the proposed way ahead and talk about some of the challenges.

"This is a great opportunity for us to have solid dialogue and discussion about a project that is absolutely critical to U.S. forces here in Europe," said Maj. Gen. James Boozer, the U.S. Army Europe deputy commanding general. "The overarching requirement for us is to build a facility that provides quality healthcare for U.S. forces that are assigned here in Europe as well as support forces assigned to Africa and Central commands. This has to be accomplished in accordance with German law and with minimal impact to the environment."

Boozer also talked about the significance the new hospital will have.

"This project is of strategic importance not just to the European theater, but our nation as a whole," the general said. "With about 50,000 U.S. personnel living and working here, the KMC is currently the largest community of U.S. service members, civilians and their families outside of the continental United States. This area is important to us. It is now and it will be in the future."

The new medical facility, which will be located on the Weilerbach portion of Rhine Ordnance Barracks, is scheduled to replace the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Ramstein Air Base Clinic upon completion, due to the aging infrastructure of the two facilities.

LRMC currently sees approximately 480,000 outpatients and about 8,000 inpatients annually, while the Ramstein Clinic cares for approximately 115,000 outpatients annually.

"Over the past several years we looked at several options as to where to build this new hospital." Boozer said. "We considered inputs from a variety of organizations and our German partners."

Weilerbach was chosen, among other reasons, because the land is already under U.S. control as part of Rhine Ordnance Barracks, reducing the overall project cost, and because of its proximity to Ramstein Air Base, reducing transportation times for critically wounded service members. It currently takes approximately 30 minutes to transport patients from the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility at Ramstein AB to LRMC; the new facility will reduce this transit time.

After a briefing from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the attendees were treated to a working lunch, followed with discussions on a variety of topics ranging from the construction timeline to environmental concerns.

"This project is a symbol of the great partnership which exists between the State of Rheinland Pfalz and the U.S. forces living in our community," said German Undersecretary Dr. Salvatore Barbaro, of the Ministry for Finance Rheinland-Pfalz. "We are dealing with a very significant project that, as far regional policies are concerned, will play a key role in the economic future in this region."

Barbaro's federal counterpart echoed these sentiments, adding that communication between all stakeholders is essential to ensure the success of a project of this size.

"The relationship with Germany and the United States and the U.S. service members stationed here in Germany has traditionally been very good," said Undersecretary Rainer Bomba, of the German Federal Ministry for Traffic and Construction. "With a project of this magnitude, it is imperative that our lines of communication are open and we use forums like this one to discuss whatever challenges come up in an effort to find solutions and move forward."

Bomba added that he looks forward to working closely with the U.S. representatives and pledged his, and the German government's, full support.

Construction of the new medical facility is scheduled to begin this year starting with the site preparation and running utilities such as water, gas and electricity to the site. The estimated time of completion is in 2019.

With the cost of diesel and fuel consumption both spiraling, the world's armed forces have been quick to support any emerging technologies capable of lessening their reliance on fossil fuels.

In an attempt to display the significant strides taken by the US Armed Forces to become more environmentally friendly and efficient, the US Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) displayed its Clandestine Extended Range Vehicle, the highly regarded, highly efficient hybrid vehicle co-developed with Quantum Technologies.

Demonstrated at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, the CERV has been labeled as one of the "greenest technologies" currently in development.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Germany preps Israeli super-sub for tests

Germany's Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft shipyard is expected to hand over one of the world's most advanced submarines to Israel's navy this year for sea trials.

The ultra-quiet, hard-to-detect Dolphin class sub is the fourth boat in a planned six-pack of submarines that are reportedly capable of firing nuclear-tipped cruise missiles, giving Israel unparalleled strategic reach in the Middle East even though until now it had never been a potent sea power.

The heavily modified Israeli Dolphins are considered the most modern non-nuclear submarines in the world.

Colombia buys German submarines in anti-drug war

Colombia is ratcheting up its war on sea-faring drug traffickers and has invested in German submarines and marine craft in a boost to its navy.

Sea-borne narcotics cargo bound for North America is a growing problem in Central and South America as organized and well-resourced drug gangs deploy submersible craft and other sea-borne vessels to transport contraband.

Mexico's crackdown on drug cartels led to organized drug gangs spilling over in the Caribbean, Central and South America, a threat Colombia wants to confront head-on.

New Colombian defense purchases include vessels for a gradual modernization of the navy, increasingly in the frontline of attack on drug cartels.

Two existing U209/1200 Class submarines, ARC Pijao and ARC Tayrona, are being modernized at the state-owned ship at Cartagena. These will be joined by another two German U206A submarines that generated interest in Thailand and other countries that originally planned to buy them.

The U206s are critical to Colombia's fight against the drug gangs' semi-submersible vessels.

Navy Begins Testing Railgun Prototype

Engineers have fired the Navy's first industry-built electromagnetic railgun (EM Railgun) prototype launcher at a test facility, commencing an evaluation that is an important intermediate step toward a future tactical weapon for ships, officials announced Feb. 28.

The firing at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) kicks off a two- month-long test series by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to evaluate the first of two industry-built launchers. The tests will bring the Navy closer to a new naval gun system capable of extended ranges against surface, air and ground targets.

"We are starting our full-energy tests to evaluate the barrel life and structural integrity of the prototype system," said Roger Ellis, program manager of the EM Railgun, part of ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department. "It's the next step toward a future tactical system."

The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 mph to 5,600 mph.

The 32-megajoule prototype demonstrator, built by BAE Systems, arrived at NSWCDD on Jan. 30. One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car being thrust at 100 mph. The prototype-which now looks more like a naval weapon compared to previous lab-style launchers-is the first of two industry-built launchers to be delivered to the Navy. General Atomics is building the second launcher, scheduled for delivery in April. ONR previously relied upon laboratory-built systems to advance the technology.

After installing the BAE Systems launcher and outfitting it with a comprehensive suite of sensors, high-speed cameras and measuring devices, engineers fired successful low-energy test shots to prepare it for the evaluation. The team will conduct tests at 20 megajoules and 32 megajoules, shooting test projectiles similar to what was previously fired through NSWCDD's laboratory launcher.

"The test series will characterize the gun's performance by shooting several rounds through the barrel at various energy levels to fully exercise the capabilities of the prototype," said Ellis.

When fully developed, the EM Railgun will give Sailors a dramatically increased multimission capability. Its increased velocity and extended range over traditional shipboard weapons will allow them to conduct precise, long-range naval surface fire support for land strikes; ship self-defense against cruise and ballistic missiles; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels. The Navy's near-term goal is a 20- to 32-megajoule weapon that shoots a distance of 50 to 100 nautical miles.

To achieve this, the Navy is moving ahead with the EM Railgun program's next phase: to develop thermal management systems for both the launcher and pulsed power to facilitate increased firing rates of up to 10 rounds per minute. Toward this end, BAE and General Atomics have been contracted to begin concept design of a next-generation thermally managed launcher.

"The next phase of the development effort is to demonstrate the ability to operate at a firing rate of significant military utility," Ellis said.

Additionally, ONR awarded contracts through Naval Sea Systems Command to General Atomics, BAE Systems and Raytheon Co. to develop a pulsed power system capable of meeting the firing rate goal.

Various new and existing ship platforms are currently being analyzed for future integration.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lockheed Martin's Fighting Falcon Evolves With New F-16V

Lockheed Martin has unveiled a new version of the F-16 at the Singapore Airshow. The F-16V will feature enhancements including an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, an upgraded mission computer and architecture, and improvements to the cockpit - all capabilities identified by the U.S. Air Force and several international customers for future improvements.

With nearly 4,500 F-16s delivered, this is a natural step in the evolution of the world's most successful 4th generation fighter.

The Fighting Falcon program has continually evolved as it began with the F-16 A/B as the lightweight fighter then transitioned to F-16 C/D and Block 60 versions as customers' requirements changed.

AESA radars offer significant operational capability improvements. Lockheed Martin has developed an innovative solution to affordably retrofit this key technology into existing F-16s.

Boeing and USAF Mark Delivery of First Re-winged A-10 Thunderbolt II

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force on Feb. 15 celebrated the rollout of the first re-winged A-10 Thunderbolt II in a ceremony at Hill Air Force Base. Boeing is under contract with the Air Force to deliver 233 wing sets through 2018.

"This enhanced wing assembly will give the A-10 new strength and a new foundation for its continued service into 2040," said Mark Bass, Maintenance, Modifications and Upgrades vice president and general manager for Boeing Defense, Space and Security.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Failing to address anti-jam capability of future radio would be a big mistake

Sometime over the next several weeks, the Army will release the final request for proposals in an effort to replace its ill-fated Ground Mobile Radio. The radio was canceled last year due to price and performance problems, leaving a gaping hole in the service’s plans for future battlefield communications. What the Army wanted was a vehicle radio that could connect with legacy systems already in the field while delivering new signals capable of supporting high-speed transmission of video, voice and data communications. What it got was a system too expensive and power-hungry to deploy in large numbers.

So now it’s back to the drawing boards with a new request for proposals that seeks similar high data-rate transmission capabilities in a more affordable package. Somewhere along the way, though, the Army dropped a vital requirement -- and that could doom the whole effort. Specifically, it eliminated the anti-jamming capability for the most capable signal the new radio must support, which is known as the “wideband networking waveform.”

Thursday, February 23, 2012

ONR's ManTech Program Shrinks Costs While Building Future Force

Following a final review Feb. 22, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is transitioning its work on the second generation of the Navy's Electronic Warfare System (EWS), which will save $1 million per ship.

The project was executed by ONR's Navy Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) program and is just one example of how ManTech is saving the government millions of dollars each year.

"For warfighters, ManTech offers savings by reducing the costs of products that they buy," said John Carney, Navy ManTech program director. "Our investments often can transition a technology that improves capability that wouldn't otherwise be affordable."

ManTech, part of ONR's Office of Transition, improves manufacturing efficiency by working with defense contractors, Navy acquisition program offices and academia to enhance technological processes and equipment. The objective is not to build a new submarine, ship or airplane, but to make a product already in existence better, faster and at a lower cost.

"Ultimately, ManTech accelerates technology benefits to Sailors and Marines," Carney said.

ManTech and its innovative, cost-cutting processes are featured in a recently released video that highlights three major ManTech successes: Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP), Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and the Virginia-class submarine:

- ONR released the EWS-SEWIP Block 2 project results to Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems. For SEWIP Block 2, the second version of the system, ManTech helped accelerate upgrades to the SLQ-32(V) System. The program also reduced the cost of buying and delivering these upgrades by approximately $1 million per ship.

- With JSF, ONR helped improve the manufacturing process for the aircraft's composite wings and other critical components. ManTech helped realize a 50 percent improvement in overall cycle time and an overall cost savings over the life of the project of $100 million after only a $3 million investment.

- For the Virginia-class submarine, ManTech has yielded $21.3 million per hull in cost savings to date through 23 process improvement projects. One of these was investing in a smart approach to welding pipes that boosts quality and production speed, resulting in more than 8,500 man-hours and $500,000 savings per VCS hull. Additional projects are in the works for future implementation, and ManTech is currently projecting a conservative $37.3 million per hull total in acquisition cost savings.

For more information about these and other ManTech projects, contact the ONR ManTech Office at 703-696-0352.

US Navy Research Office in Europe Marks Anniversary

Hailed as a vital bridge between cutting-edge scientific research and international diplomacy, the Prague branch of Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global marks its two-year anniversary Feb. 26.

"Bringing different [international] entities together toward a strategic goal is one of the major benefits of having ONR presence in Central and Eastern Europe," said Cmdr. Mark Williams, ONR Global regional director, NATO and Europe.

ONR Global's mission is to meet current and future needs of the Navy and Marine Corps. Five regional engagement offices around the world seek out promising science and technology (S&T) advances, and promote S&T collaboration at an open source and unclassified level between ONR and international scientists.

The other sites are in London, Tokyo, Singapore and Santiago, with its international liaison office located in Arlington, Va.

"We wanted to increase our engagement with industry and academia in the region," said Michael Morgan, director of ONR Global's engagement office in Prague. "We chose Prague because of our rich history of research with the Czechs, and its central location."

With just 24 months in existence, the office has already accomplished pioneering work in technologies from cyber defense to new models of air traffic control.

In one recent effort, dubbed AgentC, the Prague office of ONR Global supported work at Czech Technical University on software that models sea piracy and provides alternative routing for commercial vessels in waters off the Horn of Africa.

"That [AgentC] has gotten a lot of attention from a number of people," said Dr. Paul Losiewicz, ONR Global associate director in Prague. "The Danish border police were interested because the same sort of tracking capabilities would be used, whether it's illegal fishing, illegal dumping, smuggling, you name it; the algorithms would be the same."

Williams singled out Prague office programs such as innovative cyber defense initiatives, and a string of collaborative scientific events that have brought together leading European scientists, U.S. and Czech government officials and representatives from private industry.

An upcoming engagement series on innovation, set to kick off in March in the Czech Republic, is exactly the kind of project ONR's strong global presence can create, he noted.

"We are bringing academia, government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs together at the same table to look at innovation. These entities don't regularly sit at the same table," Williams said.

According to Morgan, a key accomplishment so far for the Prague office includes a successful ONR/European Union (EU) workshop, the culmination of a year of planning and organizing. "It opens the door for us to leverage EU research and development funding, which is forecast to be more than $100 billion over the next seven years," he said.

"Our biggest challenge is managing the overwhelming positive response from central and Eastern Europe," Morgan added. "We are astounded by the response we received from the region."

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

US Army's Focus on Asia

The Army will remain strong in the Pacific to reflect the increased emphasis on the region, the Army chief of staff said Tuesday.

The Army already has a strong presence in the region, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told a Defense Writers Group roundtable.

"If you added up the number of people, the Army has more people over there than the Navy and the Air Force," he said.

These numbers will not drop despite overall reductions in the Army's size, the general told the group.

"We will sustain what we have and then review how we do our business," he said. "This issue over the past eight years has been that many of the forces in the region were used in Iraq and Afghanistan."

This means troops nominally assigned to the region actually fought in U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM. The 25th Infantry Division, for example, recently returned to Hawaii after completing its mission in the CENTCOM region, Odierno explained.

This model will change, he added. Going forward, if the Army must use Pacific forces outside the region, commanders will replace that capability.

"There will always be a baseline of capability in the Pacific," he said.

But the numbers tell only one part of the story. The service will review prepositioned stocks around the world to ensure these are positioned properly in case of a contingency. In the Pacific the most important aspect is to accomplish multilateral training, noting that he is working with regional Army chiefs to find ways to increase this training, Odierno said.

These army-to-army contacts are important, he said. Seven out of the 10 largest armies are in the Pacific, he noted, and 22 of the 27 nations in the region have an army officer as chief of defense. "Us engaging with them to build relationships will help us in the long run in the Pacific," the general told the defense writers.

Odierno also talked about the "advise and assist" brigades that will deploy to Afghanistan shortly, and said they will become more important for Afghan units in the future. The Army is putting together two of these brigades now, the general said, and they will deploy with the numbers of officers and noncommissioned officers needed to advise and assist Afghan national security forces.

Most Soldiers in the brigades will be combat veterans and will understand what these Afghan forces need, Odierno said. With the end of the U.S. military mission in Iraq, he added, more forces are available for the advise-and-assist mission in Afghanistan. He told the writers he expects the number of advise-and-assist units to grow as the deadline for turning over security responsibility to the Afghan forces approaches at the end of 2014.

Special operations and conventional forces will work even more closely together to accomplish this training mission, Odierno said, and the Army forces will work with Marine advise-and-assist teams as well. He added that he sees no duplication of effort with special ops, the Marines and the Army pitching in to train Afghan soldiers and police.

"There's room for all of us to do this in order to sustain it for a longer period of time," he said.

This shows the Army is flexible, Odierno said, as Army brigades can "own ground," conduct counterinsurgency operations, send a brigade to conduct high-end operations in Korea, all while being able to conduct the training and advising mission.

"That shows the flexibility of our organization and the kind of organization we will need in the future," he added. "We are going to have a lot of diverse operations to do."

Forbes Slams 'Green' Navy

House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee member Randy Forbes took Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to task, slamming the service's continued investment in alternative fuels, one of Mabus' top priorities for the service.

"I understand that alternative fuels may help our guys in the field, but wouldn't you agree that the thing they'd be more concerned about is having more ships, more planes, more prepositioned stocks," Forbes said during the Friday hearing. "Shouldn't we refocus our priorities and make those things our priorities instead of advancing a biofuels market?" Before Mabus could respond, the Virginia Republican took a clear shot at the secretary: "You're not the secretary of the energy. You're the secretary of the Navy."

Forbes' tirade was not completely unexpected given the fiscal pressures the Navy and the rest of the department are under, according to one congressional source. But Forbes did push the boundaries of opposition to the Navy program, and its leader. "I have never seen Mabus confronted like that before" on the service's alternative energy initiatives, the Hill source said. Members of the Navy's acquisition cadre "cannot not feel frustrated" when they look at the millions poured into biofuels and consider other areas those dollars could have gone toward. "You [could] buy a couple of ships" with those dollars, according to the source.

However, the timing of Forbes' denunciation of the Navy's green plans has more to do with politics than with procurement.

Political disagreements over how the Navy fuels its planes and ships "has a long pedigree" on the House panel, top defense consultant and member of AOL Defense's Board of Contributors Loren Thompson said. "The exchange between Rep. Forbes and Secretary Mabus isn't really about energy. It's about dueling political philosophies," Thompson said.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

German defense minister visits Holloman AFB

Dr. Thomas de Maiziére, Germany's Federal Minister of Defense, visited Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico on Feb. 15 during his trip to the U.S.

De Maiziére came to the U.S. to visit the German Air Force Flying Training Center here and tour other German units stationed here in the U.S.

"It's a pleasure and honor to be here," de Maiziére said while greeting and shaking the hands of leaders from the 49th Wing, training center and Alamogordo community.

The German defense minister wanted to see some of the different aspects of the German forces in America, said U.S. Air Force Col. David Krumm, the 49th WG commander.

"Holloman is a large part of that with our German Air Force contingent," Krumm said. "He wanted to get out to see the troops, the mission, how they're living, what's going on here and what needs they have."

Krumm also said de Maiziére's visit was important for the wing.

"It's always great to see our allies, to be able to talk and interface with them, and get to know each other's issues," he said. "Because we work together, we train together, and we fight together, having a solid relationship at every level is very important."

Bob Cain, of the Air Combat Command International Affairs, said the current relationship between the German Air Force and Holloman AFB is the best he's ever seen.

"The Germans started flying training here at Holloman in 1992, so we're celebrating basically 20 years of German (armed forces) program involvement this year," Cain said. "It's not only been a great relationship, but also highly successful for them. It's been nearly 10 years since we've had any German aircraft incidents on base. A lot of that goes into not only the ops and the maintenance infrastructure, but also the ability to train realistically in a very safe and controlled environment."

Also accompanying de Maiziére was a group of 18 German and international media members who got a first-hand look at static aircraft and a chance to interview subject matter experts of the airframes.

"I think that's an aspect that we don't always do and that's important for them to see the relationship between their armed forces and the Americans here," Krumm said. "The community has embraced the Germans as neighbors. I think this recognition highlights the good working relationship with have with our German allies."

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.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Secretive Navy SEALs take starring role in new film

The secretive Navy SEALs are coming out of the shadows for a new Hollywood film, with elite commandos cast in starring roles in a radical departure for America's special forces.

In "Act of Valor," the select troops who call themselves "the quiet professionals" take a turn as leading men on the big screen, reciting lines from a script as they race to prevent terrorists from carrying out an attack on the United States.

Filming began in 2007, before the Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams were catapulted to fame for their daring raid last May that killed Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.

US defense officials did not find out about the movie until after the fact, causing consternation at the Pentagon, which has an office that vets scripts and negotiates cooperation deals with Hollywood producers.

Although troops have appeared in movies before, such as "Black Hawk Down," this film ventures into uncharted territory, possibly jeopardizing the anonymity that the special forces have sought to safeguard.

"It's one thing to be filmed parachuting out of a plane, but it's another thing to be parachuting and land on the red carpet," a defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

Premiering on February 24, the action-packed movie tells the fictional story of SEALs rescuing a kidnapped CIA agent from a Central American drug cartel, only to uncover a terror plot against the United States by a Chechen jihadist.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Women in Combat: We Have the Technology

US military is one of the most high-tech fighting forces that the world has ever seen. The tools and weapons that men use in combat can be used just as easily by women.

The reason American soldiers are so effective, outside of their training, is the high-tech arsenal at their fingertips – an arsenal that would be just as effective in the hands of female troops.

With billions in R&D spending each year, and a host of contractors developing new weapons systems and other high-tech advances, the US Military is evolving rapidly. Alongside drones, land-based robots are being deployed for all sorts of tasks.

The battlefield itself is morphing into something very different from what it once was. We’re no longer fighting trench warfare. Modern wars are often fought in urban settings, and modern troops deploy all sorts of high-tech weaponry.

Special Ops commander vows better life for 66,000 troops

The commander of America's most elite fighting forces — responding to a groundswell of complaints raised by Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces and Marine and Air Force commandos — is promising to improve the quality of their personal lives, suffering in the wake of continuous fighting over 10 years.

"This pace has robbed you and your families of any sense of predictability and 'white space' (free time together)," Adm. William McRaven, the head of U.S.Special Operations Command, wrote to his 66,000 troops last month after an internal "sensing" study of the force last year uncovered quality-of-life concerns.

"I want you to know that I hear you! I am aware of the strain placed on you and I am personally committed to alleviating the pressure you and your families are dealing with in these difficult times," McRaven wrote in an e-mail obtained by USA TODAY.

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, February 16, 2012

Fewer bases, same number of troops in South Korea, US ambassador says

The new U.S. ambassador to South Korea said this week that the only impending change to the U.S. military presence on the peninsula will be the relocation of servicemembers to a smaller number of bases — not a decrease in troop levels.

During a forum Tuesday, Ambassador Sung Kim addressed longstanding concerns that the U.S. might station fewer troops in South Korea as part of the military’s overall cost-cutting efforts. Many South Koreans believe such a move would make their country more vulnerable to a North Korean attack, particularly following the death of dictator Kim Jong Il in December and uncertainty about his enigmatic son and successor, Kim Jong Un.

Sung Kim said the relocation of most troops in Seoul or north of the capital city to hubs in Pyeongtaek and Daegu — scheduled to take place “sometime around the year 2016” — would reduce the number of U.S. installations from 107 to 48. But the force level of about 28,500 U.S. troops in the country would remain stable.

His remarks come about one week before U.S. and North Korean envoys are scheduled to meet in Beijing to discuss the North’s denuclearization program.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

US, Afghans near deal on post-2014 mission: Panetta

US and Afghan officials are weeks away from clinching a security pact allowing an American military mission to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday.

The two sides still had to resolve disagreements over controversial night raids by US troops, which Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other officials say have claimed too many civilian lives, and the transfer of US-run prisons in the country, the Pentagon chief said.

"As you know, there are two areas that we still have difficulties with, one of which involves the transfer of detention facilities, the other involves night-time raids," Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"And we continue to try to see if we can work out some kind of compromise on those issues," he said.

But he said most of the elements of a security pact were in place.

Raytheon Restarts Production of Maverick for USAF and US Navy

After more than two decades, Raytheon has formally restarted production of the laser-guided Maverick missile, with the first weapon expected to be delivered to the U.S. Air Force in late 2012.

Production began following a rigorous U.S. Air Force and Navy Developmental Testing/Operational Testing program that culminated in a production contract in late 2011.

"The combat-proven laser Maverick has demonstrated its effectiveness against frigate size ships, small moving boats, tanks, fortified personnel and fast moving maneuvering vehicles in excess of 70 miles per hour," said Harry Schulte, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems' Air Warfare Systems product line.

Bunker-Buster Bomb Improvements Sought by Pentagon Win Approval

The Pentagon won congressional approval to shift $81.6 million in funds improve the military’s largest conventional weapon, the 30,000-pound Boeing Co. Massive Ordnance Penetrator, known as the bunker-buster bomb.

The Senate defense appropriations subcommittee on Feb. 7 became the fourth and final defense panel to approve the shift from programs deemed less important, Pentagon spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Robbins said today in an e-mail. ‘It was an urgent request,” Robbins said without elaboration.

The move to improve the bomb shortly after the Air Force took delivery may have been triggered by Iran’s announcement Jan. 9 that it would begin uranium enrichment at the Fordow facility near Qom that’s tunneled into mountains, said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East military analyst for the non-partisan Congressional Research Service.

“This is a very hard target, and the international community believes that if Iran were to attempt a nuclear breakout, it would be conducted at this site,” Katzman said of the enrichment activity, which could be used to produce enough material for a nuclear device. Iran says its nuclear program is for civilian uses.

The Pentagon request to upgrade the bomb was submitted 11 days after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed the enrichment activity. The location at Qom is 90 meters (295 feet) under rock, said David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.

PACOM nominee backs US troop consolidation in South Korea

The Obama administration’s nominee to lead U.S. Pacific Command has expressed his support for the planned consolidation of American troops in South Korea to bases south of Seoul by 2016, despite continuing opposition from senators considering his confirmation.

Adm. Samuel Locklear, as part of a 48-page response to policy questions posed to him by the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote, “The movement of units and facilities to areas south of the Han River (which runs through Seoul) improves force protection and survivability, placing the majority of personnel and equipment outside of the tactical effective range of North Korean artillery.

“In addition, the move to central location outside of Seoul provides efficiencies, reduces costs, contributes to the political sustainability of our forward presence and improves military readiness on the Korean peninsula,” he wrote.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Admiral Seeks Freer Hand in Deployment of Elite Forces

The officer, Adm. William H. McRaven, who leads the Special Operations Command, is pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy. The plan would give him more autonomy to position his forces and their war-fighting equipment where intelligence and global events indicate they are most needed.

It would also allow the Special Operations forces to expand their presence in regions where they have not operated in large numbers for the past decade, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

While President Obama and his Pentagon’s leadership have increasingly made Special Operations forces their military tool of choice, similar plans in the past have foundered because of opposition from regional commanders and the State Department. The military’s regional combatant commanders have feared a decrease of their authority, and some ambassadors in crisis zones have voiced concerns that commandos may carry out missions that are perceived to tread on a host country’s sovereignty, like the rift in ties with Pakistan after the Bin Laden raid.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Navy's Computerized TRACS Planning Tool Helps Disaster Relief Missions

A Web-based tool suite that helps first responders rapidly coordinate resources during disasters, co-sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), is being introduced at a University of Connecticut panel Feb. 8-11 as part of a monthlong rollout.

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are first responders to international crises, which often include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DRACS technology into wider use at the United States Pacific Command.

COE-DMHA is led by its director, retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Goodman, and retired Navy Rear Adm. Thomas Cullison, formerly Navy deputy surgeon general and vice chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The center aids military and non-military international disaster management and humanitarian assistance, and it partners with various national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations to provide education, training, coordination and research.

TRACS is able to digest a vast amount of information-social media, images, analytics, etc.-being broadcast from the crisis and display it in various formats to provide users with a dashboard-like "at a glance" view of all the functional status of numerous assets, such as public health and water systems. A chart displays the items in green (good), yellow (fair) and red (needs help).

Future iterations will show what needs to be fixed and in what order to turn a "red" item to "green." Also planned is inclusion of a suite of social media analysis tools in development by ONR, which will reduce the initial footprint of first responders by allowing them to arrive with only the items that are actually needed for a particular event and location.

One ONR objective is for TRACS to become a key HA/DR widget, or application, that is accessible on Navy command and control networks. It will run on ONR's Command and Control Rapid Prototyping Capability (C2RPC), which pulls together large amounts of data from disparate sources, sifts it for relevancy and validates it, helping decision makers get information quickly and coordinate with partners.

"A lot of times when we use naval forces to perform humanitarian assistance to areas that have just experienced some type of disaster, we spend a lot of time and resources just communicating what is needed and when it's needed," said Gary Toth, who spearheaded C2RPC as ONR's program manager for Command and Control. "C2RPC offers visibility into where we have available resources-whether it's blood supplies, fresh water, diapers or food-and it minimizes the amount of time spent in information gathering and coordination. As a result, you spend that time actually making decisions and executing a variety of mission outcomes."

C2RPC operates on a cloud computing framework, named "OZONE," so various applications can interact. OZONE is a standards-based widget technology that enables information sharing from unclassified to classified platforms-essentially, feeding information from the ground up. C2RPC can flow information from new knowledge sources, models and visualization technologies and to improve information sharing with potential partners, such as the United States Agency for International Development, host nations, non-governmental organizations, allied nations and local authorities. The idea is to create standards-based widgets with rules to foster global coordination and collaboration while retaining information that is sensitive or classified.

Navy to Build Two New Oceanographic Research Vessels

The Navy has awarded $70 million to a West Coast-based shipyard to begin building the second of two modern oceanographic research vessels, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced Feb. 9.

Dakota Creek Industries Inc. of Anacortes, Wash., will begin detail design and construction on the Ocean-class Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR) vessel 28. Naval Sea Systems Command previously awarded a contract for AGOR 27, the first of the two new research ships. The recent award brings the Navy's combined shipbuilding investments in the program to $145 million.

"The ships are indispensable research tools," said Dr. Frank Herr, director of ONR's Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department. "They are the primary means by which we go to sea and engage the oceanographic research community to learn about the ocean and to develop oceanographic and atmospheric prediction systems to help the fleet understand the ocean, and plan for its operations around the world."

The Navy, through ONR, has been a leader in building and providing large research ships for the nation's academic research fleet since World War II. The latest ships will replace two vessels previously Navy-built and owned.

Designed as single-hull ships, AGOR 27 and AGOR 28 are approximately 238-feet long and incorporate the latest technologies, including high-efficiency diesel engines, emissions controls for stack gasses, new information technology tools both for monitoring shipboard systems and for communicating with the world, and hull coatings to reduce maintenance requirements. Each vessel will operate with a crew of 20 with accommodations for 24 scientists.

The construction phase will last 30 to 36 months per ship with delivery expected in late 2014 and early 2015. Once delivered to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, respectively, the ships will allow scientists to continue with ongoing research efforts in the Atlantic, western Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

The U.S. academic research fleet is organized by the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS), a partnership among research institutions consisting of 16 vessel operators. Federal agencies provide research grants for ocean sciences which in turn support ship operations via day rates charged to research users. The six Navy-owned vessels are among the largest in this fleet enabling global ranging research programs.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

U.S. 4th Fleet Supports Multinational Operations to Combat Organized Crime in Latin America

Out of Naval Station Mayport in Florida, the U.S. 4th Fleet is supporting Joint Interagency Task Force-South's (JIATF-S) Operation Martillo with deployed maritime and aviation assets in U.S. Southern Command's (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility (AOR), following an JIATF-S announcement Feb. 8.

Operation Martillo, a U.S., European, and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. Martillo is the Spanish word for hammer.

Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates USS Ingraham (FFG 61), USS Elrod (FFG 55), USS McClusky (FFG 41) and USS Nicholas (FFG 47) are already operating in support of Operation Martillo, conducting Combating Transnational Organized Crime operations(C-TOC), while Patrol Squadron (VP) 1 is providing aerial patrol support while forward deployed to El Salvador.

The 4th Fleet assets are working closely with JIATF-S, USSOUTHCOM, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force, and various Federal law enforcement agencies and partner nations to deny transnational criminal organizations the ability to exploit shipping routes through South and Central America for the movement of narcotics, precursor chemicals, bulk cash and weapons.

"JIATF-South is the lead Federal agency for all of our activities in combating transnational organized crime," said Rear Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. "The Department of Defense, and specifically U.S. Southern Command and 4th Fleet plays an important supporting role in Operation Martillo. Our ships and aircraft have unique capabilities to detect and monitor criminal activities in the maritime domain especially tracking the movement, by sea and air, of illicit materials intended for the United States."

Operation Martillo is a critical component of the U.S. government's coordinated interagency regional security strategy in support of the White House Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime and the U.S. Central America Regional Security Initiative.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Russia to build six submarines annually from 2013

Russia will produce six submarines and one aircraft carrier annually starting 2013, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Thursday. "By 2013, production capacity [at Russian shipyards] will allow us to build six submarines and an aircraft carrier every year," Rogozin told reporters, adding that the number includes both nuclear and diesel-powered submarines.

As a result, the production output will surpass that of the Soviet era when Russia built an average of five submarines annually, he said.

CSBA: Pentagon must plan for more cuts

As the Pentagon prepares to unveil its fiscal year 2013 budget request next week, the sequestration beast is back in the news again.

Pentagon officials would be wise to make fallback plans that would prepare for hundreds of billions in additional funding cuts in the next decade should Congress fail to enact legislation in the next 11 months to nullify the massive cuts, dubbed “sequestration,” that are set to go into effect in January 2013, a pair of prominent analysts warned Wednesday.

“The failure to plan for the possibility of further reductions [in defense spending], I think, really is a major shortfall in the new defense strategy that they laid out,” said Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assesments (CSBA) discussing the Pentagon’s soon to be released 2013 budget request this morning in Washington. “Because if you look at history, you don’t see plateaus in defense spending, it doesn’t just decline a little bit and then flatten out for the rest of the decade …if this decline is anything like what we’ve seen in the past three defense cycles [post Korean, Vietnam and Cold Wars], there are further cuts to come and the current strategy needs to be flexible and adaptable enough to adjust to that. The Pentagon can and they should begin preparing for the possibility of more reductions, especially sequestration, and I think if they fail to do that they run the risk of being unprepared for what is a perfectly foreseeable contingency.”

Read more:

Robo-mule hauls military gear & follows like a dog

U.S. troops who carry as much as 100 pounds of gear could soon get a robotic mule capable of shouldering their burdens in the toughest terrain. Such a robot recently showed how it can follow a person and navigate around trees and rocks while climbing a hill in its first outdoor test — but it might someday follow spoken commands like a huge, obedient dog.

The four-legged, headless "LS3" robot evolved as the quieter, faster and tougher version of Boston Dynamics' "BigDog" robotfunded by the U.S. military's DARPA research arm. Upcoming trials will test the robot's ability to carry 400 pounds on a tough 20-mile trek without any refueling for 24 hours.

"If successful, this could provide real value to a squad while addressing the military’s concern for unburdening troops," said Army Lt. Col. Joe Hitt, program manager for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). "LS3 seeks to have the responsiveness of a trained animal and the carrying capacity of a mule."

Added "hearing" technology could even allow human squad members to issue spoken commands such as "stop," "sit" or "come here."

Read more:

US voters back Obama as commander-in-chief

US President Barack Obama has overwhelming support from American voters for his use of drone strikes against terror suspects and his planned troop drawdown in Afghanistan, a poll found Wednesday.

Obama, who signed off on the US special forces raid which killed Osama bin Laden last year, also enjoys a wide edge over his likely Republican election foe Mitt Romney on national security and foreign policy, the poll showed.

The survey contained the latest evidence that Obama's conduct as US commander-in-chief has wiped out the traditional edge Republicans have had over Democrats in national security policy.

The findings will likely complicate the efforts of Republican candidates to portray Obama, who last year kept his promise to get US troops home from Iraq, as feckless on national security.

The poll showed that Obama led Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, by 56 percent to 36 percent when respondents were asked who they trusted to combat terrorism.

Respondents also trusted him more on international affairs by a 56 to 37 percent margin.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wolfenbarger to be First Female 4-Star in USAF

President Barack Obama nominated Air Force Lt. Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger for promotion Feb. 6, which, pending Senate approval, would make her the first female four-star general in Air Force history.

Wolfenbarger currently serves as the military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition here and she is one of four female lieutenant generals in the Air Force.

"I am humbled and honored to have been nominated by the President to the rank of general and to serve as commander of Air Force Materiel Command. I look forward to participating in the Senate confirmation process when the time comes. At present, I remain focused on the important Air Force acquisition work I've been charged with," Wolfenbarger said.

A Beavercreek, Ohio, native, Wolfenbarger was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1980 after graduating in the first class with female cadets at the Air Force Academy.

She also holds a graduate degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.

The general has held several positions in the F-22 System Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; served as the F-22 lead program element monitor at the Pentagon, and was the B-2 system program director for the Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB.

She commanded ASC's C-17 Systems Group, Mobility Systems Wing and was the service's director of the Air Force Acquisition Center of Excellence at the Pentagon, then served as director of the headquarters AFMC Intelligence and Requirements Directorate, Wright-Patterson AFB.

Prior to her current assignment, Wolfenbarger was the vice commander of AFMC, Wright-Patterson AFB.

She has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Medal.

Wolfenbarger received her third star in December 2009 and became the Air Force's highest-ranking woman in January 2010.

CIA digs in as Americans withdraw from Iraq, Afghanistan

The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in December has moved the CIA’s emphasis there toward more traditional espionage — monitoring developments in the increasingly antagonistic government, seeking to suppress al-Qaeda’s affiliate in the country and countering the influence of Iran.

In Afghanistan, the CIA is expected to have a more aggressively operational role. U.S. officials said the agency’s paramilitary capabilities are seen as tools for keeping the Taliban off balance, protecting the government in Kabul and preserving access to Afghan airstrips that enable armed CIA drones to hunt al-Qaeda remnants in Pakistan.

As President Obama seeks to end a decade of large-scale conflict, the emerging assignments for the CIA suggest it will play a significant part in the administration’s search for ways to exert U.S. power in more streamlined and surgical ways.

As a result, the CIA station in Kabul — which at one point had responsibility for as many as 1,000 agency employees in Afghanistan — is expected to expand its collaboration with Special Operations forces when the drawdown of conventional troops begins.

U.S. Sending Commander to Repair Ties With Pakistan

Gen. James N. Mattis, the head of the military’s Central Command, will meet Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Pakistani Army chief of staff, to discuss the investigations of an exchange of fire at the Afghan border that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, as well as new border coordination procedures to prevent a recurrence of the episode.

General Mattis’s visit, the first by a high-ranking American official since the cross-border confrontation in November, was to have begun Thursday, but has been postponed by at least a week pending what is expected to be a spirited debate in the Pakistani Parliament over a new security policy toward the United States.

Pakistani and American officials are quietly optimistic that both events will trigger a chain of public engagement and private negotiations that will reboot the two nations’ frayed strategic relationship, although along more narrowly defined lines than before.

Pakistani officials say they will probably reopen NATO supply lines running through their territory, which have been closed for more than two months. The State Department is supporting a proposal circulating in the administration for the United States to issue a formal apology for the deaths of the Pakistani soldiers in the Nov. 26 airstrike by American gunships.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

U.S. 'committed' to Bulgaria's security

The United States remains committed to the security of its "important NATO partner" Bulgaria, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says.

Clinton made the comments Sunday during an official visit to the Eastern European nation, in which she reiterated U.S. support for its security at a news conference in Sofia with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

"Let me say how committed the United States is to Bulgaria's security," Clinton said. "We are NATO allies. We take very seriously our Article 5 obligation for collective defense. Bulgaria has been an important, productive partner of NATO."

Thanking Bulgaria for its contribution of troops with the NATO-led forces battling Taliban extremists in Afghanistan, Clinton said the security cooperation between Washington and Sofia will only deepen over time.

Iran shipping line masks 'arms vessels'

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 autholinksMode=ON

Army Chief of Staff Odierno defends Panetta's Afghanistan comments

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

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno defended Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's attention-grabbing Afghanistan comments, saying that it has been the U.S. strategy "all along" to transition power to that country's forces.

Panetta stirred up controversy last week when he become the first high-ranking administration official to publicly say that the United States would seek to end its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2013, coming out ahead of both the White House and NATO.

When asked if he knew whether Panetta planned to make his remarks, Odierno said "we have lots of conversations with Secretary Panetta. He is very hands on. He is very collaborative with the joint chiefs."

"I would just tell you that this has been our strategy all along, is that over time we are going to transition more responsibility to the Afghans and I think that's still what our plan is," said Odierno on "Fox and Friends" Monday in an interview pre-taped before the Super Bowl.

He told Fox News that the military will conduct assessments with commanders in Afghanistan during the troop drawdown.

"I think Secretary Panetta was just walking through the continued turnover responsibility to the Afghans over time," he added.

Odierno also weighed in on the potential $600 billion in sequestration cuts to the Defense Department set to go into effect in 2013, calling it a "significant threat" to the security of the United States.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Obama imposes new sanctions on Iran

US President Barack Obama has imposed new sanctions on Iran's central bank as he seeks to tighten a choke hold on the Islamic republic's ailing economy and compel it to reverse course on its nuclear program.

Obama's move, made public Monday, came as US officials warned foreign, non-American banks doing business with Tehran that they too could soon face sanctions, and amid speculation about a possible Israeli strike on Iran.

The US president tried to still some of the nervousness at the weekend, saying that he did not think Israel had taken a decision to launch a high-risk military assault on underground nuclear plants it sees as an existential threat.

IAI and Boeing drive to active Arrow-3

Israel Aerospace Industries and the Boeing Co. are driving to complete development of Israel's Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile interceptor amid the Persian Gulf confrontation between Iran and the West.

If that standoff, over Iran's contentious nuclear program, does erupt into open war in the Middle East that could result in Iranian Shehab-3 missiles streaking toward the Jewish state.

The Arrow-3 will be Israel's first line of defense against ballistic missiles when it becomes operational. It's slightly smaller than the Arrow-2, currently in service with the Israeli air force, but much more powerful and accurate and is intended to specifically to counter an Iranian nuclear threat.

Israel is small, the size of New Jersey, and thus could be effectively knocked out by one well-placed nuclear strike in its central sector around Tel Aviv, the country's commercial and industrial core.

"Israel's too small to absorb a nuclear strike," a senior defense official observed. "The Arrow-3 will minimize the chance of enemy missiles penetrating our defense shields."

The U.S. Aviation Week magazine said the Arrow-3 "will be a critical strategic asset against Iranian ballistic missiles."

Navy to Begin Tests on Electromagnetic Railgun Prototype Launcher

The Office of Naval Research's (ONR) Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun program will take an important step forward in the coming weeks when the first industry railgun prototype launcher is tested at a facility in Dahlgren, Va., officials said Feb. 6.

"This is the next step toward a future tactical system that will be placed on board a ship some day," said Roger Ellis, program manager of EM Railgun.

The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500 miles per hour to 5,600 miles per hour.

With its increased velocity and extended range, the EM Railgun will give Sailors a multi-mission capability, allowing them to conduct precise naval surface fire support, or land strikes; cruise missile and ballistic missile defense; and surface warfare to deter enemy vessels. Navy planners are targeting a 50- to 100-nautical mile initial capability with expansion up to 220 nautical miles.

The EM Railgun program, part of ONR's Naval Air Warfare and Weapons Department, previously relied upon government laboratory-based launchers for testing and advancing railgun technology. The first industry-built launcher, a 32-megajoule prototype demonstrator made by BAE Systems, arrived at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren Jan. 30. One megajoule of energy is equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 miles per hour.

"This industry prototype represents a step beyond our previous successful demonstrations of the laboratory launcher," Ellis said.

The prototype demonstrator incorporates advanced composites and improved barrel life performance resulting from development efforts on the laboratory systems located at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and NSWC-Dahlgren. The EM Railgun laboratory demonstrator based at NSWC-Dahlgren fired a world record setting 33-megajoule shot in December 2010.

The industry demonstrator will begin test firing this month as the EM Railgun program prepares for delivery of a second prototype launcher built by General Atomics.

In the meantime, the Navy is pushing ahead with the next phase of the EM Railgun program to develop automatic projectile loading systems and thermal management systems to facilitate increased firing rates of the weapon.

"The next phase of the development effort is to demonstrate the ability to operate at a firing rate of significant military utility," Ellis said.

ONR recently awarded $10 million contracts through Naval Sea Systems Command to Raytheon Corp., BAE Systems and General Atomics to develop a pulsed power system for launching projectiles in rapid succession. These new contracts kick off a five-year effort to achieve a firing rate of six to 10 rounds per minute.

BAE Systems and General Atomics also are commencing concept development work on the next-generation prototype EM Railgun capable of the desired firing rate.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

Navy's Cyber Commander Participates in NPS Information Dominance Symposium

The commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and the U.S. 10th Fleet visited the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) to present at the university's Information Dominance Senior Leader Symposium (IDSLS) Jan. 29-31.

Facilitated by the university's Center for Executive Education, the IDSLS is designed to create a senior level forum to engage in and enhance core competencies in senior leaders within the Information Dominance (ID) community.

Vice Adm. Michael Rogers attended a series of lectures and presentations related to the diverse fields within ID and cyber defense during his visit. He also met with members of the NPS' recently established Cyber Academic Group to discuss future programs related to cyber education.

"As the 10th Fleet Commander, clearly cyber is one of our primary missions - and an important element of our success in the cyber arena is going to be the knowledge and the abilities of the workforce," said Rogers. "The Naval Postgraduate School has an important part to play in helping educate the cyber workforce of the Navy of the future."

An essential part of this equation would be the education and training NPS is providing the Navy's workforce. Rogers emphasized the role of graduate education, and forums like the IDSLS, in developing the Navy's cyber community, particularly in the officer arena, and wanted an introduction to the university's programs first-hand.

"Since NPS has this critical role to play in helping educate the cyber workforce ... I wanted to come out here and see it for myself," said Rogers.

A part of the cyber education provided by NPS, the IDSLS provides senior leadership with the strategic capabilities to succeed in the ID Community. Attendees to these symposia are leaders in the diverse ID community - O5 and above, senior enlisted E8 and above, or senior civilian equivalents - and while most attendees are usually in the Navy, it's not uncommon to see the other services reflected in cohorts.

"The Information Dominance Senior Leaders Symposium is designed to develop an executive level perspective that results in a warfare capability integrated in all phases of the joint and naval fight," said retired Rear Adm. Andy Singer, NPS Intelligence Chair Professor and Director of the Information Dominance Center of Excellence.

"During eight very full days, leaders learn about themselves, Information Dominance as a key element with naval and joint warfighting, in concert with applied leadership, management and strategy tools and models," he added. "Helping to build a naval warrior ethos with emphasis on Information Dominance, the symposium sends senior leaders back into the fleet better prepared and ready to meet and anticipate the complex opportunities and challenges of today."

For the Navy, Rogers noted, the idea of operationalizing information is a concept that has been evolving over the last decade. Senior leaders of the Navy, both current and in the past, have emphasized that cyber would be a key operational element of the future strategy of the Navy.

As head of the Navy's operational cyber command, he said he recognizes the emergence of the cyber arena within the operational environment and is fortunate that senior leadership of the Navy does as well. Rogers added that he has an optimistic outlook on the days ahead for the Navy's cyber workforce.

"I think it's got a bright future but it's something new so it involves change," said Rogers. "And change is always a challenge, but it's a challenge I look forward to."

HC-130P King - First Afghanistan Medevac Flight

The first all-Air Force Critical Care Air Transport and Aero-medical Evacuation Team to fly with the only fixed wing aircraft dedicated to the medical evacuation mission in Afghanistan completed its first successful mission Jan. 13 and continues saving lives.

The CCAT/AE team flies with the 76th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, who provide medical or casualty evacuation for U.S. and coalition forces, Afghan National Security Forces and local nationals in all of the Regional Commands in Afghanistan. They can reach almost any airfield in Afghanistan in an hour and a half from their home base in Helmand Province.

The HC-130P King aircraft assigned to the 76th EQRS are equipped with an air-to-land command and control system, which allows the crew to communicate in real-time with their operations center. This gives them the option to re-task a mission while still in the air, reducing response time. This speed of response combined with the higher level of in-flight care provided by the CCAT team brings a much-needed MEDEVAC capability to the fight.

"When we first started flying these types of missions, we flew with an Air Force pararescue team, who are trained paramedics and very good at trauma care," said Lt. Col. Peter Dominicis, 76th ERQS commander. "As we flew more, we started seeing patients that were more critical and needed more attention."

To further meet the needs of their patients, flight doctors and Army en-route critical care nurses were added to each mission. Although this was an improvement, some of the patients still required care that exceeded the scope of the team. The need was addressed and two months later, the first specialized CCAT team, comprised of a critical care physician, nurse and respiratory technician, and AE team, comprised of a nurse and two medical technicians, arrived to the 76th ERQS.

The CCAT teams are validated through a 14-day course meant to familiarize them with the three components of the team and how to work together in the back of the aircraft. The AE team is comprised of medical professionals that fly as aircrew. The AE Airmen are familiar with aircraft emergency procedures, where the CCAT team is not.
Staff Sgt. Erin Hyder, CCAT respiratory therapist, says the CCAT team's skill set is for the more critical patients.

"We're there to help with patients that can't maintain their own airway, or have multiple injuries and require different types of treatment at the same time," she said.

Hyder said that although the bulk of the missions flown with the EQRS are to transfer stable patients from field-type medical facilities to major hospitals, the CCAT team is there for the missions that require extra care.

"We are here for that 10 percent of the missions where the patients may still be in the operating room when we get the alert," she said. "Here, the patients that are critical are pretty bad. It's important that we're here to get them from point A to point B to save their lives."

One of those missions came on Jan. 18, when the squadron responded to a mass casualty event in Kajaki, Afghanistan. Dominicis said that although the CCAT team wasn't on alert that day, they sprang into action.

"We had one patient, a U.S. Marine, with burns to over 80 percent of his body. The plane was running, the CCAT team hopped on and waited for the patient to arrive by helicopter," he said. "They took the Marine to Kandahar with the CCAT and AE team providing care en-route. I don't think he would've survived if it hadn't been for the teams."

The ERQS is still evolving to better meet the needs of its patients. Dominicis said the goal is for the squadron to receive a Tactical Critical Care Evacuation Team with even more specialized training in critical care later this year. But in the interim, the CCAT/AE team is in the fight. After 20 missions and 11 saves of life, limb and eyesight, Hyder says she's glad she can contribute to the successful missions of the EQRS.

"It's very gratifying to know that we are able to help the guys on the ground that are out here fighting for us," she said. "It's a great feeling to be able to return the favor."

Gen-Y Communications for the US Military

Everywhere you look, people are tapping, talking and swiping away at smartphones and tablets. Rapidly-emerging technologies give users information immediately, and these super machines fit easily in the palm of your hand.

The Air Force is planning to implement these high-tech handhelds into daily operations and, in preparation, the Air Force C2 Integration Center kicked off the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment here Jan. 13.

Dubbed Unified Communications I, the goal is to determine commercial cellular carriers' ability to provide sufficient service to support the Air Force's mission sets.

According to Ken Gunter, the JEFX event manager, the four-week experiment will test the networks and hardware of Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint to see if the carriers will accommodate communications needs.

Teams of emergency response, civil engineer and maintenance Airmen will use Apple iOS and Google Android-based smartphones, tablets and mobile hotspot devices in a variety of scenarios to test their functionality and effectiveness.

"Our goal is to do things smaller and faster," Gunter explained. "We need to move away from our current infrastructure, like (land mobile radios) and first- and second-generation wireless, and transition from five networks down to two -- wireless cellular and assured (local area network). Legacy systems have to go away, as they're too expensive to maintain and not flexible.

"Five years ago, we couldn't do what we're able to do now," he continued. "Now, I can put a device in an Airman's hand with all the capabilities of a phone and computer. The Air Force told us to find the future architecture of communications, and these devices are being tested to get us there."

In 2012, the Air Force plans to introduce "tens of thousands" of smart devices, according to officials. The JEFX will validate the mobile strategy being developed at the Air Force level and across the entire Department of Defense.

Gunter said the Air Force is choosing cellular over Wi-Fi connections because cellular is more secure, provides greater range, and costs less to operate and maintain.

"One or two cell towers can cover an entire base, as opposed to establishing potentially thousands of access points for Wi-Fi connections," he said. "Also, all four carriers will offer 4G coverage in our area here within the next year. With the current available 4G network, we have 10 times the bandwidth we had even four months ago."

The experiment will look at carriers' augmented technologies, such as the infrastructure needed on base to ensure maximum, uninterrupted coverage and improve signal penetration in buildings.

"We need networks and devices that will allow us to do our mission, like launching our planes and securing the base in the event that commercial communications goes out in a hurricane or other catastrophic event, when that communication is most critical," Gunter said. "For example, say there's a crash at an air show with 10,000-plus civilians on base, all using their cell phones. How do we prioritize network coverage to ensure first responders can do their job? That's what we're here to figure out."

The AFC2IC chose JB Langley as the test site for the experiment as a cost-saving measure. The organization's labs are located in surrounding Hampton, Va., and Air Combat Command mission partners are headquartered at JB Langley, eliminating temporary duty assignment costs.

The JEFX UC1 experiment will be followed by second field exercise, UC2, slated tentatively for July. During that exercise, the group plans to include units and personnel from Fort Eustis, and will focus on the features of applications of various devices.

"We want to pull in as many functional areas as we can here, including our Fort Eustis mission partners," Gunter said. "These technologies promote interoperability and allow us to avoid stovepipe systems. That cuts down response times and makes communicating more seamless, which further enables joint operations.

"Whenever there's a need to set up and assess new technologies, that's what we do," Gunter said. "Warfighters come to us with problems, and we help find solutions. We're excited about giving this amazing new technology to our Airmen to see how we can take the next step in streamlining how we accomplish our mission."

U.S. Army in Europe eyes greater partner training

The U.S. military, which is cutting its presence in Europe, plans to expand its training of European partners to cope with new threats posed by interlinked criminal and militant networks smuggling weapons and drugs, said the U.S. commander in Europe.

The United States is withdrawing two Army combat brigades from Germany, reducing the size of its force by around 7,000 soldiers. The cuts, announced by the Pentagon last month, are part of a new U.S. strategy aiming to create a leaner military costing it $487 billion less over the next decade.

"Even with the loss of two brigades I will have close to 35,000 soldiers here. That is a big force size and bigger than most European armies," Lieutenant General Mark Hertling told Reuters in an interview.

"It is the end of an old era and the beginning of a new one, because the threats these forces were positioned for in the past are not the types of threats we have today," he said on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reassured European allies Saturday that Washington remains committed to their security despite the austerity drive.

New bioelectric bandage interests Army

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command has initiated steps to evaluate a new bioelectric bandage

Small silver and zinc dots embedded into cloth create micro-currents in the presence of moisture. This may create an anti-microbial environment and provide pain reduction.

The use of silver on burns has a long history of preventing infections. The combination of silver, zinc, and moisture is purported to create pain-reducing antimicrobial micro-currents. According to literature from the manufacturer, the results of this bandage dressing include faster healing, greater pain control, reduced incidence of infection, and decreased scarring.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has cleared the device for antimicrobial wound care, which is the primary reason for the Army's genuine interest in the product. The bandage is currently being used on hard-to-heal wounds, with multiple research studies underway. Anecdotal results are promising, especially with regard to pain control. In some cases, wound pain is reported to be reduced dramatically.

The nature of the cloth conforms well to multiple surfaces of the body. Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections are anticipated to be impacted by the antimicrobial properties of the bandage dressing, which has tremendous potential for Soldier use.

Studies are underway with Ranger units. Recently, at a Ranger road march, a considerable number of Soldiers obtained blisters and were treated with the bandage. The results were notable, as many Soldiers reported dramatic pain relief and the ability to quickly return to the march.

The novel technology of this bandage is that it purportedly creates a healing bioelectrical pathway over the entire wound surface, enhancing the body's natural healing environment. As a broad-spectrum antimicrobial flexible dressing with electrically active currents providing pain control, the device could have huge potential for the Army if testing scientific testing bears out anecdotal claims.

The public may hear more about this bandage as indications for use are expanded. Currently, indications for use are directed toward all full- and partial-thickness skin wounds, from simple abrasions and skin tears to traumatic wounds and surgical sites.

Given this, the battlefield may serve as the best proving ground in which to test this emerging medical device.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why Taliban are so strong in Afghanistan

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.

Nato has invested hundreds of billions of dollars over the past 10 years trying to raise a modern army for Afghanistan and to rebuild the country's infrastructure.

But if a leaked classified report prepared by the alliance is to believed, all this will go to waste soon after foreign combat forces withdraw in 2014.

The latest in a series of leaks suggests that Nato is much more worried about the course of the war than it lets on in public.

Nato has tried to play down the importance of the report by calling it a "compilation of opinions expressed by Taliban detainees", but it highlights many failures in the decade-long war in Afghanistan.

"Americans are like Kuchi nomads," a tribal elder from the south-east once told me. "They come with their tents for some time and before you know them, they leave."

The harsh reality is that an increasing number of Afghans are turning to the Taliban, having grown mistrustful of Nato and Afghan forces.

In remote parts of the country where the government rules only on paper, the Taliban are often preferred.

People have little choice but to support the Taliban in many areas, given the power of the militants.

But widespread corruption in the government and a culture of impunity - where senior bureaucrats or those with connections to them easily escape punishment even for serious crimes like murder - are seen as reasons for people moving closer to the Taliban.

In winding down war, a fundamentally different challenge in Afghanistan than in Iraq

In Afghanistan, heavy fighting is likely to persist well into 2014, particularly in the provinces along Pakistan’s border, senior military officials said. In contrast with Iraq, the Afghan government and security forces will require billions of dollars annually in U.S. support for the foreseeable future. It seems unlikely that the insurgents’ haven in Pakistan will shrink.

“In Afghanistan, you will be fighting a much tougher war over the next few years compared with Iraq post-2008,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, who previously served as the top U.S. commander in Kabul.

Obama administration officials made the comparison to Iraq on Thursday as they scrambled to clarify Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s remarks that the United States hoped to end its combat mission in Afghanistan by the middle of next year, more than a year earlier than scheduled, and shift to advising Afghan forces.

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.

U.S. Will Keep Fighting as Afghans Take the Lead, Panetta Says

“As I stated to our allies today, we hope that the A.N.S.F. forces will be ready to take the combat lead in all of Afghanistan sometime in 2013,” Mr. Panetta said, referring to the Afghan National Security Forces, the 300,000-strong army and police force built, trained and financed by NATO.

Mr. Panetta, who was visiting NATO military headquarters here, was reacting to concerns among the allies about his statement to reporters while traveling to a meeting with them here that “hopefully by the mid to latter part of 2013 we’ll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advise and assist role” in Afghanistan. It was the first time that the United States had put a date on stepping back from a central role in the conflict, at least before the end of 2014, when most of the troops are scheduled to be home.

Mr. Panetta’s comments, which reflected the Obama administration’s eagerness to get out of the unpopular war, were immediately dissected by European nations that are under pressure from their parliaments to bring their troops home from the decade-long conflict. European officials said it would be hard to persuade their own countries to stay put if the United States were perceived as rushing to the exits.

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.

Army Develops Better Combat First Aid Kit

Maybe it looks like a camouflage money belt on steroids, but it could save Soldiers' lives.

The new Individual First Aid Kit, or IFAK, being developed at the Natick Soldier Systems Center eventually will be carried by every Soldier in a combat environment.

"We designed it literally about three or four months ago," said Rich Landry, individual equipment designer with the Load Carriage Prototype Lab, Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, at NSSC. "The medical community said, 'Awesome idea. Let's move out with it.' Overwhelmingly, they thought this was a huge improvement over the current IFAK."

As Landry pointed out, the current IFAK, developed rapidly in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom to fulfill a critical need, has proved rather unwieldy.

"This thing is just kind of a brick on your side that gets in the way of everything," said Landry of the current bulky IFAK, which was built into an existing Squad Automatic Weapon ammo pouch. "It was very, very quick, because they needed them right away."

More thought has gone into the new IFAK, a streamlined, two-piece system that features a pouch with an insert that slides out to allow easy access to medical equipment from either side.

"It supports all the critical items to the individual Soldier's medical needs," Landry said. "The beauty of this system, compared to the old one, is that it allows the Soldier to place it on (his or her) body in a spot where it can be easily accessible, which is the critical piece, but also not get in the way of other important tactical pieces of equipment."

Landry said 30 new IFAKs recently underwent evaluation at Fort Polk, La., where a platoon of Soldiers carried them through a training rotation. The early feedback has been positive, he added.

"We're very sure this is the direction the Individual First Aid Kit is going to go, hopefully, for all services, but you never know," Landry said. "That would be icing on the cake."

The new IFAK carries even more medical gear than the first version, including two Combat Application Tourniquets. Still, its lower profile allows a Soldier to wear it comfortably in the small of his or her back under the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, or MOLLE, Large or Medium backpack.

"And that's critical for us, because the big picture in load carriage is the backpack piece," Landry said. "That's where a large percentage of the load and bulk comes from. And it's critical that we still have to be able to carry that.

"All you do is reach back and pull (the IFAK) out, and it doesn't matter what side you pull it out from," Landry said. "So if this hand is injured, you can reach behind with this (hand) and pull it out, or your buddy can get to it."

Such innovation is Landry's calling card at Natick. A former Pathfinder with the 82nd Airborne Division, he began tinkering with outdoor equipment at a young age.

"My sister taught me how to sew," Landry recalled. "Every backpack I got, every piece of equipment I got, was modified in some way, shape or form. That's just how my brain works. Nothing can be left alone. Nothing's perfect in my mind, as far as outdoor equipment, and that's a curse."

It's also been a blessing for Soldiers, who have worn equipment all around the world that Landry developed in his lab.

"The ability to know what they need, as opposed to what they want, is a little bit different," Landry said. "That's just what I do. It's what I love. I'm in a perfect place to do that."