Friday, January 31, 2014

US Army and Lockheed Martin Complete Advanced Autonomous Convoy Demonstration

US Army and Lockheed Martin Complete Advanced Autonomous Convoy Demonstration

The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) and Lockheed Martin have demonstrated the ability of fully autonomous convoys to operate in urban environments with multiple vehicles of different models.

The demonstration earlier this month at Fort Hood, Texas, was part of the Army and Marine Corps' Autonomous Mobility Applique System (AMAS) program, and marked the completion of the program's Capabilities Advancement Demonstration (CAD).The test involved driverless tactical vehicles navigating hazards and obstacles such as road intersections, oncoming traffic, stalled and passing vehicles, pedestrians and traffic circles in both urban and rural test areas."The AMAS CAD hardware and software performed exactly as designed, and dealt successfully with all of the real-world obstacles that a real-world convoy would encounter," said David Simon, AMAS program manager for Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.The AMAS hardware and software are designed to automate the driving task on current tactical vehicles. The Unmanned Mission Module part of AMAS, which includes a high performance LIDAR sensor, a second GPS receiver and additional algorithms, is installed as a kit and can be used on virtually any military vehicle. In the CAD demonstration, the kit was integrated onto the Army's M915 trucks and the Palletized Loading System (PLS) vehicle.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Research on Ocean Conditions Will Aid Planners

New Research on Ocean Conditions Will Aid Planners

The Office of Naval Research Global (ONR Global) announced Jan. 30 a grant to the University of Melbourne that will provide new insights into ocean conditions-crucial information for Navy planners involved in tactical and strategic decision-making.

The project is intended to improve understanding of conditions in the Indian Ocean, including validating satellite data on salinity, or salt, levels. Confirming satellite findings with actual field-level research is an area scientists have deemed essential to improving the Navy's oceanographic models.

The research is in collaboration with Kenyan and Indian scientific organizations.

"The major goal of this kind of research is to be able to provide the best information possible on the environmental, or battlefield, conditions, so that tactical and strategic decisions can be properly made," said Dr. Augustus Vogel, the ONR Global program manager coordinating the research. "It is because of this kind of information that U.S. Navy ships can now more easily avoid hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones, for example."

Vogel noted that improved understanding of data from satellites will give Navy planners more confidence in the information received.

"This research will help us calibrate satellite data so that we are confident in what the data tell us," he said. "Field data are the best, but we can use satellites to study large areas that are not easily covered with a ship."

The need for improved environmental ocean research has long been recognized by the military and civilian seafaring community. Naval researchers point out that insufficient data on water and weather conditions can impact even the largest vessels, and recall the tragic losses of ships under Adm. William Halsey in World War II in storms that today would be easier to predict.

As with many ONR Global efforts, there will be a double benefit to the research, officials say, as the University of Melbourne grant represents increased ties between U.S. and allied scientists. The grant is an example of the kind of support President Barack Obama called for in his recent State of the Union speech, when he said: "Let's remember that our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats, but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe."

ONR Global scientists work around the world, and its personnel are often referred to as "scientific ambassadors" because of the goodwill created during shared research.

"We are proud to work with researchers at the University of Melbourne on this important effort to advance understanding of environmental conditions," said Capt. Mike Smith, commanding officer of ONR Global. "It is these kinds of collaborations that help advance the frontiers of knowledge, and strengthen ties between the U.S. and partner nations through shared research."

The command has offices in Japan, Singapore, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Chile and Brazil. It also sends science advisors out with the U.S. fleet and forces to help determine new ways science and technology can benefit the American Sailor and Marine.

Some of the command's work includes advances in mine-hunting capabilities for unmanned aerial vehicles; early tsunami detection; and increased emission controls for engines; and more.

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.

To view a recently released video describing the ONR Global mission, visit The video details how the command works, and shows some of the many technologies developed with ONR Global support.

Navy to Christen Second Mobile Landing Platform

Navy to Christen Second Mobile Landing Platform

The Navy will christen Mobile Landing Platform (MLP) John Glenn Feb. 1, during a 10:00 a.m. PST ceremony in San Diego, Calif.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Lyn Glenn, daughter of John Glenn, will serve as the ship's sponsor.

Upon delivery to the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command (MSC), John Glenn will be designated as a United States Naval Ship (USNS), and will have a core crew of 34 civilian mariners who will operate and navigate the ship.

"The christening of the future USNS John Glenn (MLP 2), a ship that will help usher in a new age of Navy and Marine Corps operations, is a fitting tribute to a man whose years of service to his nation as a Marine, a U.S. Senator and an astronaut helped shape the future of the United States itself," Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said.

The future USNS John Glenn (MLP 2), will honor John Glenn, the legendary astronaut who is the last surviving member of the Mercury 7 crew. He was the first American to orbit the Earth on Friendship 7 and even flew aboard the Discovery space shuttle at the age of 77.

In 1942 while a junior in college, Glenn enlisted in the Naval Reserve to become a naval aviation cadet. He then entered active duty to the Naval Aviation Pre-Flight School in Iowa and became a naval aviator while he was a Marine. Glenn flew 59 combat missions as a Marine during World War II along with 90 combat missions in Korea. He was also a U.S. Senator, serving for 25 years.

John Glenn is the second ship of the Montford Point-Class. Using the commercially designed Alaska-class crude oil carrier as its base, the Navy's Strategic and Theater Sealift Program Office worked in conjunction with General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) to develop a design that supports the Navy's core capabilities while maintaining low costs.

The ship will leverage float-on/float-off technology, allowing John Glenn to partially submerge, facilitating easy movement of cargo and craft. Additionally, the ship's size allows for 25,000 square feet of vehicle and equipment stowage space, tankage for 100,000 gallons of potable water and 380,000 gallons of JP-5 fuel storage.

With this set of capabilities, the ship is able to easily transfer personnel and vehicles from other vessels such as the large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off ships (LMSRs) onto landing craft air cushioned (LCAC) vehicles and transport them ashore.

MLP has a maximum speed of 15 knots and range of 9,500 nautical miles. At 785 feet long, MLPs displace more than 78,000 tons when fully loaded. The platform with its open, reconfigurable mission deck will serve as an important flexible and transformational asset to the Navy as it can be reconfigured to support a wide variety of future operations.

U.S. Says Russia Tested Missile, Despite Treaty -

U.S. Says Russia Tested Missile, Despite Treaty - The United States informed its NATO allies this month that Russia had tested a new ground-launched cruise missile, raising concerns about Moscow’s compliance with a landmark arms control accord.

American officials believe Russia began conducting flight tests of the missile as early as 2008. Such tests are prohibited by the treaty banning medium-range missiles that was signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader at the time, and that has long been viewed as one of the bedrock accords that brought an end to the Cold War.

Beginning in May, Rose Gottemoeller, the State Department’s senior arms control official, has repeatedly raised the missile tests with Russian officials, who have responded that they investigated the matter and consider the case to be closed. But Obama administration officials are not yet ready to formally declare the tests of the missile, which has not been deployed, to be a violation of the 1987 treaty.

China threatens US military superiority: official

China threatens US military superiority: official

China poses an increasing challenge to the US military's technological edge while budget pressures are hampering Washington's effort to stay ahead, a senior defense official warned on Tuesday.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, told lawmakers that when it comes to "technological superiority, the Department of Defense is being challenged in ways that I have not seen for decades, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region."Citing China's major investments in anti-ship missiles, stealth fighter jets, hypersonic vehicles and other hi-tech weaponry, Kendall said the United States could lose its dominant position if it failed to respond to the altered strategic landscape."Technological superiority is not assured and we cannot be complacent about our posture," he told the House Armed Services Committee.Asked to assess what one lawmaker called an arms race between the two countries, Kendall said there was cause for concern as China dramatically increases its military spending."Their budget is far smaller than ours, but their personnel costs are also far smaller than ours," said Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics."Our budgets are going in the opposite direction. So just by that metric alone, it's not positive."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Raytheon, L-3 demonstrate new ship protection system

Raytheon, L-3 demonstrate new ship protection system: Raytheon and L-3 Communications have successfully fired Raytheon TALON laser-guided rockets from an L-3 remote weapon station using an LAU-68 launcher.

The test demonstrated that the lightweight remote weapon system can provide protection for small ships by incorporating the currently fielded launcher, sensor systems and TALON missiles.

"With the increase in swarming-boat threats, navies worldwide have an urgent need to protect their smaller ships," said Rick Nelson, vice president of Raytheon's Naval and Area Mission Defense product line.

"Combining our proven TALON LGR with L-3's Advanced Remote Weapon Station provides an affordable, effective and available solution. It also demonstrates our ability to reach across Raytheon's wide portfolio of products and team with companies around the globe to develop new solutions."

Designed to carry up to seven TALONS, the self-contained remote rocket weapon system incorporates an electro-optical sensor and laser designator, all weighing approximately 500 pounds.

It requires only a target queue to engage on-mount target tracking and can be integrated on ships ranging in size from riverine to major surface combatants.

Longbow Missiles Demonstrate Littoral Attack Capability

Longbow Missiles Demonstrate Littoral Attack Capability

The U.S. Army and Navy, with assistance from Lockheed Martin, recently conducted Longbow missile demonstration firings to showcase the missile's ability to counter littoral threats, making the weapon an effective candidate for potential use in operational shipboard launches.

During the demonstrations, multiple U.S. Army Longbow missiles were fired from a launch fixture provided by the U.S. Navy aboard a 65-foot surface craft. The launches represented a variety of progressively more complex scenarios, with the missiles successfully engaging multiple incoming high-speed boat targets at a range of six kilometers.This demonstration proved that the Longbow missile can counter fast-attack craft in realistic situations, representing an efficient path forward for shipboard launches with a weapon already in government inventory."This was the second demonstration firing conducted by the Army with Lockheed Martin assistance," said Hady Mourad, director of Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control."These firings showed the capability of the existing Longbow missile in a new littoral threat environment, and also verified the vertical-launch capability of the missile. Earlier this year, we demonstrated the use of Longbow from an Apache helicopter against a representative littoral target."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Boeing Transmits Protected Government Signal Through Military Satellite

Boeing Transmits Protected Government Signal Through Military Satellite:

Boeing has applied new anti-jamming technology to an existing military satellite for the first time, expanding the military's potential to access secure communications more affordably.

In the test conducted Dec. 15, Boeing successfully sent a government-developed, protected signal through the sixth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-6) satellite. Engineers confirmed that the signal met all targets for accuracy and strength.The demonstration follows a successful transmission of data over the ViaSat-1 commercial satellite in July, showing that the technology offers an affordable option for enhancing anti-jam communications using existing commercial and U.S. government satellites and terminals.

For both tests, the signal was sent using a commercial modem that ViaSat modified with anti-jamming features. Boeing plans to continue to develop and test the technology for compatibility with other terminals and systems in 2014.

Lockheed Martin Completes Critical Milestone to Upgrade US Navy's Electronic Warfare Defenses

Lockheed Martin Completes Critical Milestone to Upgrade US Navy's Electronic Warfare Defenses:

Lockheed Martin recently completed a milestone test on the U.S. Navy's evolutionary Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2 system. This test further validated the system's ability to protect the Navy's fleet from evolving anti-ship missile threats.

Under SEWIP Block 2, Lockheed Martin will upgrade the AN/SLQ-32(V)2 system found on all U.S. aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and other warships with key capabilities to determine if adversaries are using electronic sensors to track the ship.Block 2 obtained a Milestone C decision in January 2013, after which the system began 11 months of land-based testing in preparation for installation on a Navy warship. This test, which successfully completed earlier this month, demonstrated the maturity of the open architecture electronic warfare system by performing full system operation in multiple scenarios.

Block 2 is the latest in an evolutionary succession of improvement "blocks" the Navy is pursuing for its shipboard electronic warfare system, which will incrementally add new technologies and functional capabilities. The Navy competitively awarded Lockheed Martin a contract in 2009 to develop SEWIP Block 2 to upgrade the passive detection capabilities of the current SLQ-32 systems. The company recently completed shore-based testing in preparation for ship installation.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

US ready to train Iraqi troops in third country: official

US ready to train Iraqi troops in third country: official

The US military is planning to train Iraqi troops in a third country to help counter a resurgence of Al-Qaeda-linked militants, a defense official told AFP on Friday.
Pending an agreement with Jordan or another nation to host the effort, the training was "likely" to go ahead as both Baghdad and Washington supported the idea, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.However, Pentagon officials are not contemplating sending an American team of military instructors into Iraq, partly because it would require negotiating a legal agreement with Baghdad that proved elusive in the past. Such a move also could spark political rancor in Washington that would revive old wounds over the controversial US-led war in Iraq."We're in discussions with the Iraqis on how we can improve the Iraqi security forces," Colonel Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.He said a possible counter-terrorism training effort was under consideration and that the Pentagon planned to send weapons and ammunition at the request of the Iraqi government.

Friday, January 17, 2014

TRADOC: Strategic Landpower concept to change doctrine | Article | The United States Army

TRADOC: Strategic Landpower concept to change doctrine | Article | The United States Army

The Army's doctrine will change dramatically in the near future as joint leaders develop the operational concept of Strategic Landpower, said Gen. Robert W. Cone.

One change will be a seventh warfighting function called "engagement," said Cone, who serves as commanding general of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

He told those at the Association of the United States Army Aviation Symposium in Arlington, Va., Jan. 15, that the new warfighting function would involve skills used to influence foreign governments and militaries.

Relationships with the Special Operations community that the Army has formed over the past 12 years should be preserved and institutionalized in the Strategic Landpower concept. So should gains in battlefield intelligence, Cone said.

"Unless we continue to exercise these skills, we will lose them and pay for it again in blood," Cone said.


The Strategic Landpower Task Force that Cone presides over is a joint effort with the Marine Corps and U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM. Although Cone is president of the task force, he said the board of directors include Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos and SOCOM Commander Adm. William H. McRaven.

The task force was formed partly to counter critics who believe "precision strikes" by air and sea power can win a war without boots on the ground.

"While human beings transit air and transit sea, they live on the land," Cone said. "And so your strategic outcomes are going to take place on the land."

Any strategy that relies on only two elements of the joint triad is doomed to be problematic, he said.


The Army was captivated from 2001 to 2003 with something called "precision strike" or "net-centric warfare," Cone said. He explained the fundamental premise was viewing an adversary as a "complex, adaptive system."

"You identified critical nodes and then you essentially used precision strike to take out those nodes that brought about the systemic collapse of the enemy, which resulted in the enemy's capitulation," Cone said.

Before invading Iraq, Cone said he even took part in a "capitulation exercise" at Camp New York, Kuwait. He said many fully expected invading forces to be greeted as liberators.

"How did that work for us?" he asked, adding that the Iraqis "flipped the thing over on its head" and began a bloody insurgency.

"War is fundamentally a clash of human wills," Cone said. "Technology is secondary."


Before invading Iraq, Cone admitted that he didn't think much of human terrain skills. He said the campaign was originally planned "sort of independent of the people, the culture, the language, the history ... "

But he said 12 years later, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he's the biggest advocate of what the Army has learned about human terrain. He warned that human terrain skills are especially perishable.

"You know what will happen if budgets retract," Cone said. "The first things they will cut are the linguistic skills [and] the human terrain systems."

He said that the military has come a long way in battlefield intelligence and human terrain systems over the past 12 years, but he emphasized they must be institutionalized.

"Is there a human domain" in warfare? Cone asked.

The Special Operations Forces community is adamant that there is, Cone said, but the Marine Corps disagrees. He cited the disagreement as an example of the issues the task force is sorting out as it forms its Strategic Landpower concept.

The joint differences are one reason that the operational concept is taking some time, Cone said, citing that the seven-page Strategic Landpower White Paper took five months to complete.

If it takes time to pave the right path, that's alright, Cone said, because the Strategic Landpower concept needs to be enduring.

"On the institutional side, I got to tell you, I can't wait to write an operational concept and then change all of doctrine in the coming years," Cone said.


Some decisions have already been made, Cone said. Special Operations has been added as an Army competency.

"You'll have combined arms maneuver, you'll have wide-area security and you'll have special operations," Cone said.

To the six warfighting functions, the Army will add another called "engagement," Cone said.

Many of the skills, tasks and systems associated with "influence activities" were formerly clustered under "mission command." But now enough lessons have been learned and the skills are so important, he said the Army will be better served to conceptualize them under a seventh warfighting function.

"The Army's world has been rocked, as we talk about the direction in which we're headed," Cone said. "All of the supporting systems have to come together and understand what the implications are for the future to make sure we treat our Soldiers fairly in terms of career management fields, in terms of promotion opportunities and in terms of training options."

Some of these same issues are being addressed by "Force 2025" which Cone said is a "near-term" project under TRADOC.

McCain fury over 'secret' Congress move on drones

McCain fury over 'secret' Congress move on drones: A political row erupted Thursday after the Washington Post reported that US lawmakers secretly inserted language into a huge spending bill that blocks major changes to the nation's controversial drone program.

Veteran US Senator John McCain said he was flabbergasted to learn that members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, who are mainly focused on cobbling together funding for federal agencies, slipped a provision into the $1.1 trillion spending package that maintains the Central Intelligence Agency's role in deadly counter-terrorism operations.

"This is the making of a major policy concerning our war on terror, and it's hidden in a secret annex?" McCain told AFP, after he stepped off the Senate floor where he angrily waved a copy of the Post and complained about the secret manoeuver.

"What it requires is hearings in the Intelligence Committee and the Armed Services Committee."

President Barack Obama's administration is said to be pressing for shifting drone operations away from the CIA and under military control, amid mounting concern over drone attacks resulting in civilian casualties.

Adm. Gortney Unveils New Optimized Fleet Response Plan

Adm. Gortney Unveils New Optimized Fleet Response Plan

The Navy's new Optimized Fleet Response Plan (O-FRP) was unveiled in a keynote address delivered at the 26th Annual Surface Navy Association National Symposium in Crystal City, Va., Jan. 15.

Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Adm. Bill Gortney explained the changes to the new O-FRP, addressing Quality of Service and blending both Quality of Work and Quality of Life efforts by providing stability and predictability to deployment schedules over a 36 month O-FRP cycle. One of the highlights from his address was the Navy's efforts to lock in eight month deployment schedules for Sailors. These changes are intended to return a sense of normalcy to a Sailor's schedule by evening out the Sailor's family life and increasing retention rates and Quality of Work for their command.

"What's happened here is that over time ... we lost predictability in the way we generate readiness," said Gortney.

His address began by naming the problems with the current Fleet Response Plan, placing an emphasis on readiness through training.

"It doesn't matter how good the stuff is if people aren't there and they aren't properly trained," said Gortney. "Not only do they need to be on the ship ... they have to be there at the right time. If they show up after the training occurs just before deployment it's not going to work."

The plan aims to streamline pre-deployment inspection requirements and increase readiness by putting all the members of a strike group on the same maintenance and deployment schedule. Starting in fiscal year 15, all required maintenance, training, evaluations and single eight-month deployment will be efficiently scheduled throughout the cycle in such a manner to drive down costs and increase overall fleet readiness.

"The band is put together at the beginning of the maintenance period," said Gortney. "It's underneath a single chain of command for that entire 3-year period. It's got a stable maintenance plan."

The plan puts a strong emphasis on training crews correctly.

"We're going to be training a lot of ships at the same time through that cycle," said Gortney. "A resource they need is trainers. We have to synchronize it so the trainers are there and everyone gets their reps and sets with the proper oversight that happens to be there and they're assessed at the right time."

The O-FRP is set to roll out implementation in 2014 with the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group after its current deployment. It will initially be focused on Carrier Strike Groups and eventually will roll out to all U.S. Navy assets from the ARG/MEU to submarines and expeditionary forces.

The Surface Navy Association was incorporated in 1985 to promote greater coordination and communication among those in the military, business and academic communities who share a common interest in Naval Surface Warfare and to support the activities of Surface Naval Forces

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Safety top priority on chem-demil ship, officials say | Article | The United States Army

Safety top priority on chem-demil ship, officials say | Article | The United States Army

Joe Wienand pulled his agency's military challenge coin from his coat pocket and held it in the air to display its artwork. He pointed to a small dot of green paint on its surface, less than 1/8 inch in diameter.

"A spot like that of mustard [chemical agent] would raise a blister that would be very, very big, and painful," he said. "And nerve agent -- a dot like that would be enough to kill somebody."

Wienand, who serves as director of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., said the coin was designed with that bit of artwork so he could use it to illustrate the toxicity of the chemicals the center works with.

His team, in cooperation with the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, is responsible for designing, constructing, deploying and operating the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System, which will be used aboard the cargo ship MV Cape Ray later this month as part of a U.N. mission to destroy bulk chemical weapons from Syria. That mission is expected to begin Friday.

Those weapons include 700 metric tons of bis(2-chloroethyl) sulfide, or mustard agent; methylphosphonyl difluoride, or "DF," which is one component in the manufacture of the nerve agent sarin; and O-ethyl methylphosphonothioic acid, or "EMPTA," a component in the manufacture of the nerve agent VX.

Aboard the ship Cape Ray, a team of 46 Army civilians from both ECBC and JPEO-CBD will use the two Field Deployable Hydrolysis Systems, or FDHS, to destroy those chemical agents over the course of about 90 days.

The Cape Ray was originally built in Japan for Saudi Arabia, said Carmen J. Spencer, the Joint Program Executive Officer for Chemical and Biological Defense. The Saudis used the ship to haul components of oil rigs. Today, the ship is owned by the U.S. Maritime Administration. It was modified for the chemical weapon destruction mission.

Modifications to the Cape Ray in advance of the mission include a collective protection system to ensure clean air in berthing compartments, hospital units, and operational areas, Spencer said. Also installed were 100 berthing units to accommodate the increased crew, a hospital trauma unit, and a medevac capability. To accommodate the medevac capability, a helicopter pad was installed on the ship.

The Cape Ray will sail to a yet-unnamed port in Italy to rendezvous with a Danish ship that will have previously picked up the chemical weapons at the port of Latakia, Syria. The trans-loading of the chemical weapons -- moving them from the Danish ship to the U.S. ship, will take place at the Italian port.

"It's much safer that way," Spencer said.

Following the transfer of the chemical weapons, the Cape Ray will head out to international waters -- where, exactly, is still to be determined -- and the process of destroying those chemical weapons will commence.

Using the FDHS, Edgewood specialists will mix the chemical weapons with neutralizing agents such as bleach, water, or sodium hypochlorite, to render them unusable as weapons. In some cases it's expected the mix ratio will be nine gallons of neutralizing agent for each gallon of chemical weapon. The resulting mixture is waste material, called effluent.

The effluent from the neutralization process, hazardous waste, will be stored in approved containers aboard the ship. The UN has solicited bids to determine what commercial facilities will receive the effluent for disposal. Some 42 bids have been received. Spencer said an announcement on winners will be made soon.

Safety is a top concern during the mission, Spencer said, and the JPEO-CBD has worked closely with ECBC to make the mission a success.

"We could not accomplish this mission if we did not collaborate and work together," Spencer said. "The number one driver of this mission is not schedule, it is safety. The operators coming from ECBC, physically deployed on the ship, are performing a dangerous mission. Within the PEO, my people on the ship will be working side-by-side with them and will be performing a dangerous mission. What has always been preeminent in our working together is how can we protect the people, the ship and the environment, to accomplish this mission successfully. We are very confident we will be able to do that."

Wienand said the ECBC operators aboard the Cape Ray are experienced with the handling of chemical weapons. He also said the systems aboard the ship have been engineered to ensure crew safety.

"We have very, very experienced operators, people who have dealt with this material before," Wienand said. "All the material will be monitored with chemical monitors so if any vapor gets out we can close the operations, and we can decontaminate. These very experienced operators know how to handle these materials, and I think they are going to do a fantastic job of making this a safe operation."

Spencer said the team from ECBC, JPEO-CBD, and the Cape Ray crew, embarked on a five-day sea trial, Jan. 10.

"We hope to validate all of our equipment, the emergency procedures, operating procedures, and integration with the ship," he said. Afterward, he said, the crew will conduct an after-action review.


It was a little more than a year ago, Dec. 27, 2012, when defense officials at the Pentagon gathered to address the concern of dealing with chemical weapons from Syria, Spencer said.

"Since we knew at the time that an overwhelming majority of the chemical weapons were bulk liquid, we had to basically do a search around the globe on what capabilities exist today, and what capabilities does the U.S. own that could deal with the chemical weapons in Syria," Spencer said.

Within the United States, destruction of chemical weapons comes to the JPEO-CBD, Spencer's responsibility. So the task came to him to find a solution. He worked with Wienand's ECBC to look for a solution to the problem.

"We collectively came together and did a global market search," Spencer said. "We quickly realized that the U.S. did not possess that capability."

The U.S. Strategic Command subsequently published a Joint Emergent Operational Needs Statement that directed JPEO-CBD to put together such a capability, no later than July 1, 2013.

"Basically, we took an acquisition system that was designed to provide something in seven years or less, and in less than six months (had to) provide a proven operational capability," he said. "Together with ECBC and my organization, we determined the best available technology -- a proven technology that we had over 10,000 hours of operating, and a technology that we had used in three locations in the United States."

The prototype solution, the FDHS, was finished June 27 -- three days in advance of the July deadline. The FDHS is air-transportable and fits inside two 20-foot containers.

"It is a proven capability that can effectively neutralize and destroy all known chemical agents, anywhere on the planet," Spencer said. "It is a portable, transportable system to accomplish that mission."

"It's a very small chemical plant that you can move wherever you need it to be operated," Wienand said.

In building the FDHS, ECBC and JPEO-CBD looked at technology and processes used at Aberdeen Proving Ground for destruction of mustard gas; Newport, Ind., for destruction of the nerve agent VX, and Pine Bluff, Ark., for the destruction of precursors and binary components of chemical weapons.

While these chemical weapons destruction processes, facilities and technologies existed already in the United States, what did not exist -- and what was created with the development of the FDHS -- was a way to make that capability portable.

The system was designed and built at Aberdeen Proving Ground by Army civilians within ECBC. So far, the team there has built three completed units -- two are currently on the Cape Ray. The team is in the process now of building a fourth FDHS, and will build an additional three -- for a total of seven systems.

"It's been a very busy year," Wienand said. "It is not our job normally to produce things, but in this case it was the only way to do it quickly enough so we wouldn't have to put a contract out and wait for people to bid on it and produce it."

Initially, the expectation was that the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons would happen on land, but that changed.

"The ultimate decision was to deploy it at sea," Spencer said. "When you deploy it at sea, in international waters, there is no potential for harm to civilian populations in nearby areas. There (are) operational advantages to doing it at sea."

Wienand said the decision to go to sea produced some challenges.

"It took a little bit of engineering to figure out how to ruggedize the system to make sure it is survivable," he said. "On the shipboard application we had to run some special engineering studies to make sure it was effectively braced and bracketed so it wouldn't have any problems when it is transported on ship or operated on a ship."

In addition to making accommodations for at-sea operations, accommodations also had to be made for the constrained space, Wienand said. On land, all components of the process would be laid out on the same level. In the constrained environment of the ship, the whole process had to be adjusted for deployment on multiple levels. It forced engineers who installed the system to consider the three-dimensional nature of the ship.

"They want to be able to use gravity as much as possible," Wienand said. "They want gravity to feed the effluent down to the tanks. Many of the tanks are down below the FDHS unit. There is support equipment on the same deck. There is support equipment on the deck above. They tried to position it all, with the ship engineer, so that whatever that piece of equipment was and the way the operation was supposed to work, it would be optimum. So a lot of the electrical material, and the things that you don't have to worry about in terms of pumping liquids, it's above the FDHS. The liquids, the things that you have to handle, it's either on that deck, or below. The engineers have done a great job."

On Aberdeen Proving Ground, at ECBC's Chemical Biological Applications Risk Reduction unit, construction of the fourth FDHS is now underway.

In a maintenance building, a pre-built frame for an FDHS stands nearly empty, save for two electric motors and pumps on one end, and a bit of brightly-colored plumbing. Two workers together bolted another part onto the system, which when complete will contain nearly 2,000 such parts.

Jeffrey Gonce, supervisor of the field maintenance branch at ECBC's Chemical Biological Applications Risk Reduction unit, is responsible for a team of 20 Army civilians, eight of whom constructed the existing three FDHS units already in existence, and who are now building the fourth. It takes about two weeks to assemble a system from off-the-shelf parts.

Gonce said he has 26 years of experience working in the Army facilities that are responsible for destroying America's own chemical weapons stockpile. Because of his experience as a field maintenance technician, he was called on to offer guidance in the design of the FDHS.

"They were having some difficulties with designing the plumbing," he said. "So they brought me in to kind of facilitate some of the plumbing, how it flows ... to get the right agents and reagents going to the right locations at the right time."

Design of the system, he said, drew on existing chemical weapons destruction facilities he was already familiar with.

"We took the plant designs, and we figured out the common denominators between them and shrunk them down to make one system, a portable system," he said. "We took the three plants and three processes and combined them together to make one process -- we came up with the FDHS."

Gonce said his team has embraced the mission so far. "They stood up to the challenge that was put before them," he said, adding that when his team ran into difficulties constructing the FDHS, because in some cases the blueprints for the system didn't match the realities of actual construction, his team was able to contribute by improvising and making the system work.

One example is with the electrical components of the system. When the preliminary drawings for the FDHS were made, the boxes that would house electrical components were not yet available. As a result, the system's electrician had to make modifications at construction time to accommodate the new boxes.

"Things didn't fit like we thought they would, because we didn't have the actual boxes and material at the time," Gonce said. "He redesigned it so it would all fit the way we wanted to make it work."

"I'm very proud of my team," Gonce said. "I'm very proud knowing that something that my team here worked on, I can stand back some day and say we had something to do with that. I'm proud of that."

The operational part of the Cape Ray mission is expected to take 90 days, though with perfectly calm seas, it could take as little as 45.

"It will be one less nation on this planet that will then possess chemical weapons," Spencer said.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Odierno: International cooperation critical in today's complex world | Article | The United States Army

Odierno: International cooperation critical in today's complex world | Article | The United States Army

In an increasingly complex world, the Army is looking to strengthen bonds with its international partners, and jointly tackle issues to seek peace and stability around the world, said the chief of staff of the Army.

Despite shrinking federal budgets, the U.S. military will continue to be strong, and the Army will remain "robust with capability to conduct and help and train and, if necessary, conduct operations around the world," Gen. Ray Odierno said at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Thursday.

Odierno spoke at a reception he hosted for foreign military attachés. The event was a great way, he said, to interact with the foreign officials and strengthen relationships.

"I really do want to thank you. It's an honor to see all of you here," he said. "I know you're such great representatives of your own counties. We're truly grateful for your service and your willingness to serve here in Washington."

The relationships between the Army and its foreign counterparts are key in today's global environment, he stressed.

"In my nearly 38 years of service, I would say that today is probably the most uncertain I have ever known it around the world," Odierno told the 100 attachés representing more than 70 countries.

The cooperation is critical in solving global problems, bringing about a better life for all citizens, and addressing difficult issues that nations face, he said.

"As Soldiers, we understand more than anyone the costs of war. We witness it and we understand that this is an incredible cost to pay," he said. "Our job together, working together, is to create stability and peace and to prevent conflict around the world."

The Army has the best trained Soldiers who are able to assist and help others anywhere in the world, he said.

"We will continue to maintain our ability to be globally responsive and to engage regionally in order to assist nations and sustain stability," he said.

While the U.S. military strategy is a re-balance to the Asia-Pacific region, the Army will still have "significant operations" with NATO partners and other allies in Europe, and will continue to have a presence in all regions of the world, he said.

"As we welcome in the new year, I hope it is one that we will build stronger relationships with our friends, our allies and our partners around the world," he said.

Odierno's remarks were preceded by an introduction from Lt. Gen. Mary A. Legere, deputy chief of staff, G-2.

Legere said attachés have done important work in expanding cooperation and understanding between their nations and the United States, and contributing to peace and stability around the world.

As the Army transitions out of war, it is seeking to significantly expand relationships and global and regional partnerships, she said.

"This (reception) is the Army's way of saying 'thank you' for everything that you're doing for our Army here at the headquarters and for our Army commanders around the world," she said.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Shelton discusses importance of space defense

Shelton discusses importance of space defense

Space is fundamental to the economy, the military and the way of life in the United States and officials must continue to guard against challenges in the domain from adversaries, the commander of Air Force Space Command said today. Gen. William Shelton shared with students at George Washington University here some of his worries and concerns.
In the past 60 years, space has grown from a domain with a lone satellite beeping across the heavens to a $300 billion economic engine."The advent of space systems has allowed citizens and governments to engage routinely in the world around them, communicate at the speed of light and to tap sources of information previously unavailable to them," Shelton said.Satellites are now essential parts of the 21st century way of life for all nations. Weather forecasting, precise navigation, instant communications and many other capabilities tie space to Earth.These are incredibly important during crises. The death tolls from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Japanese tsunami in 2011 would have been even higher had not satellite surveillance and communications been available, he said.Space has also changed the military. "In all of recorded history, when armies met on the battle field, they fought for the coveted high ground because of the obvious advantage it gave them over the adversary," Shelton said. "Later, balloons performed that function and even later, airplanes were used as observation platforms."Space is the ultimate high ground, he said.Shelton's command has a global mission with global responsibilities reaching all corners of the planet and up to 23,000 miles in space and geosynchronous orbit. "We get space-derived information to all sorts of users, including the military operators of our nation's Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines -- those who rely on timely and accurate data," he said.Intelligence, logistics and other operationally relevant data flow seamlessly to the front lines in Afghanistan as well as to other parts of the world where U.S. forces are operating."I can't think of a single military operation across the full spectrum from humanitarian relief operations all the way to major combat operations that doesn't somehow depend on space for mission success," Shelton said. "But frankly, this dependence on space has also become quite a bit of a double-edged sword. Our potential adversaries have been going to school on us during these many years of combat operations."Adversaries are mimicking American procedures and looking for chinks in American armor, the general said. "More concerning, as they've watched us, we've watched them develop systems to challenge our advantages in space," he said."Because space launch is so expensive, we loaded as much as we could onto our satellites -- multiple missions, multiple payloads, " Shelton said. "After all, we were operating in a relatively peaceful sanctuary in space."Not today. "As I look at the next 20 years in space, we have a difficult, up-hill climb ahead of us," he said. "I equate this to the difficulty of turning the Queen Mary. You send the rudder command and the delayed response tries your patience."To sustain space services, the United States must consider architectural alternatives for future satellite constellations. "These alternatives must balance required capability, affordability and resilience," he said. "There are many options that we're actively studying right now. The notion of disaggregation is one. And what we mean by this is moving away from the multiple payload, big satellite construct into a less complex satellite architecture with multiple components."Distributing space payloads across multiple satellite platforms, increases U.S. resiliency. "At a minimum, it complicates our adversaries' targeting calculus," he said.

Monday, January 6, 2014

US, French Navies Work Together to Ensure Security, Stability

US, French Navies Work Together to Ensure Security, Stability

Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG) began combined operations with the French navy's Task Force 473 in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) Dec. 29.

HST CSG, comprised of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), guided-missile cruisers USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Carney (DDG 64), USS Hopper (DDG 70) and USS Mason (DDG 87) is operating with the French navy's Task Force 473 to enhance cooperation and interoperability in the region.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for our ships, Sailors and Marines to work together and gain a better understanding of each other," said Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney, commander, HST CSG. "Our operations with Task Force 473 will increase both of our maritime capabilities while helping promote long-term stability in the region."

The French ships include aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91), destroyers FS Forbin (D 620) and FS Jean de Vienne (D 643) and replenishment oiler FS Meuse (A 607).

"This mission is a big challenge," said Rear Adm. Eric Chaperon, commander, Task Force 473. "France and the USA have been partners for a longtime, but with this new and rare opportunity to integrate two CSGs, our cooperation is becoming ever closer. All of our sailors are really proud to have a role to play in building the operational interoperability of our two nations."

In addition to conducting combined maritime security operations, ships from the two navies have participated in a variety of training and operations together including visit, board, search and seizure training, live-fire gunnery exercises, small boat operations, deck-landing qualifications, underway replenishments, combat search and rescue training and air defense exercises. U.S. and French personnel have also traveled to visit counterparts on the other ships, sharing techniques and experiences.

"Not only is this a great opportunity to conduct operations with a close and trusted ally, this is a great time to learn from each other," said Sweeney. "There are a lot of similarities in the way we operate across the different platforms, but there are also some differences. Understanding those differences will make both of us better, stronger, and enable us to operate with each other, and with other navies, more effectively. Our presence goes a long way in reassuring our regional partners and allies."

The commanding officers of both aircraft carriers also recognize the opportunity the two navies have to learn from each other.

"This mission is a decisive opportunity to share knowledge and build upon our friendship in order to be able to successfully handle future contingencies together," said Capt. Pierre Vandier, commanding officer, FS Charles de Gaulle. It is also an opportunity to check our interoperability that allows a lot of common procedures and aircraft exchanges."

Capt. Bob Roth, commanding officer, Harry S. Truman, fully appreciates the opportunity to work closely with a longtime partner.

"It's a rare and very fulfilling experience to sail alongside and operate closely with another aircraft carrier, especially a CVN from a navy with whom we have so many lasting personnel exchange programs," he said. "I think we're going to further develop our already deep trust and mutual operational understanding."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Afghanistan Slaps U.S. With $1 Billion Tax Bill | The Fiscal Times

Afghanistan Slaps U.S. With $1 Billion Tax Bill | The Fiscal Times

United States has poured billions into efforts to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan – but the Afghan government has violated an understanding between the two countries. It’s presented  the U.S. a billion-dollar tax bill and charged U.S. contractors hundreds of millions in questionable fees.
In a letter dated June 28 to members of Congress, John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), described the $1 billion in taxes imposed on the U.S. since 2008 as “the cost of doing business in Afghanistan.”
Those  taxes were paid   out of the $93 billion of U.S. aid   targeted during that period for strengthening Afghan security forces, improving crumbling schools and fostering economic growth in the region.  Sopko termed those taxes “improper” and said they had undermined  efforts “to achieve the U.S. goals” in that country.
- See more at:$1-Billion-Tax-Bill#sthash.kmwARM7I.dpuf