Thursday, April 30, 2015

Taliban Gains Pull U.S. Units Back Into Fight in Afghanistan -

Taliban Gains Pull U.S. Units Back Into Fight in Afghanistan - Months after President Obama formally declared that the United States’ long war against the Taliban was over in Afghanistan, the American military is regularly conducting airstrikes against low-level insurgent forces and sending Special Operations troops directly into harm’s way under the guise of “training and advising.”

In justifying the continued presence of the American forces in Afghanistan, administration officials have insisted that the troops’ role is relegated to counterterrorism, defined as tracking down the remnants of Al Qaeda and other global terrorist groups, and training and advising the Afghan security forces who have assumed the bulk of the fight.

In public, officials have emphasized that the Taliban are not being targeted unless it is for “force protection” — where the insurgents were immediately threatening American forces.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Armed Services approves US-Israeli 'anti-tunneling' effort | TheHill

Armed Services approves US-Israeli 'anti-tunneling' effort | TheHill: The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that allows the U.S and Israel to develop an “anti-tunneling system” to protect against terrorist attacks.

The provision — offered by Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and Gwen Graham (D-Fla.) — was tacked on the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subpanel portion of the fiscal 2016 national defense authorization act (NDAA).

Speaking in defense of the amendment, Lamborn said tunneling was a “huge issue” in Israel and that around 30 secret passageways were found between Israel and the Gaza Strip after last summer’s conflict.
He noted there is similar problem along the U.S. southern border, where tunnels are used for “smuggling and other purposes.”

Lamborn said that other countries, besides the U.S. and Israel, could join the effort.

Graham drew a parallel between the initiative and the Iron Dome missile defense system that has helped prevent rocket attacks.

The bipartisan amendment, which came with no price tag, was approved by voice vote.

EXACTO guided bullet demos repeatable performance against moving targets

EXACTO guided bullet demos repeatable performance against moving targets: DARPA's Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) program, which developed a self-steering bullet to increase hit rates for difficult, long-distance shots, completed in February its most successful round of live-fire tests to date.

An experienced shooter using the technology demonstration system repeatedly hit moving and evading targets. Additionally, a novice shooter using the system for the first time hit a moving target.

This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are moving and accelerating. EXACTO's specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that can impede successful hits.

"True to DARPA's mission, EXACTO has demonstrated what was once thought impossible: the continuous guidance of a small-caliber bullet to target," said Jerome Dunn, DARPA program manager.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

US, Japan widen defense ties in historic sea change

US, Japan widen defense ties in historic sea change: The United States and Japan unveiled new rules for defense cooperation Monday in a historic move that will give Japanese forces a wider global role amid concerns over China's rising sway.

Under the revised guidelines, Japan could come to the aid of US forces threatened by a third country or, for example, deploy minesweeper ships to a mission in the Middle East.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter revealed the new rules alongside Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani after talks at a New York hotel.

Although officials said the new doctrine is not aimed at China, there has been increasing concern over moves by Beijing to try to scoop up disputed areas of the South China and East China Seas.

But they pointedly made mention of North Korea as another source of tension in the region.

Kerry stressed the United States saw the disputed Senkaku Islands, known in Chinese as the Diaoyus, as firmly under Japan's control.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Third armaments revolution set to unfold | Article | The United States Army

Third armaments revolution set to unfold | Article | The United States Army

Game-changer armament technologies come just once in a blue moon, said Michael Zoltoski, chief of the Army Research Lab's Lethality Division.

The first blue moon moment came during the 1950s, with the development of tactical nuclear weapons, he said. The second was during the mid-1980s, with the introduction of stealth, precision-guided munitions and armaments linked to enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The third blue moon moment has now arrived, at least developmentally, he said.

Zoltoski spoke April 21 about future weapons systems during the National Defense Industrial Association's 2015 Armament Systems Forum.


The desire for game-changer technologies came about over the last decade, Zoltoski said.

The adaptive enemy on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan were able to invert the cost curve in their favor by defeating expensive American equipment using low-cost improved explosive devices, or IEDs, and rocket-propelled grenades. Defeating these primitive devices forced the United States to spend a lot of money on detection, firepower and protection.

Zoltoski said that looking back over the years - as far back as Operation Desert Storm - one can see that the Army has fought in "relatively pristine, uncluttered environments." He said that deserts and areas with relatively low population densities allow missiles and aircraft to take out targets without causing a lot of collateral damage.

There were cities where fighting occurred, to be sure, but nothing like what the Army anticipates its battlespace will be in 10, 20 or 30 years, he said. The future battlespace, he said, will likely include "megacities" of 10 million or more people. The enemy, already adept at hiding amongst civilians, will also be holed up in subways, pipes, sewers and tall buildings.

A lot of population growth is also occurring in tropical areas where, outside these megacities, there is triple-canopy jungle, where adversaries can also lodge undetected, he said.


The Army's Unified Quest exercises have focused on this emerging threat scenario, he said, as the doctrinal "Army Operating Concept - Win in a Complex World."

The Army Research Lab, or ARL, has also been at work finding ways to defeat the enemy in these environments without breaking the bank, he said.

ARL's new business model for moving forward cost effectively with armament solutions, he said, is called Open Campus. ARL is opening its facilities to industry and academia in a collaborative effort.

The lab offers civilian scientists a research facility that they might not otherwise have access to and it benefits the Army as well, he said.


Zoltoski touched on some of the research at ARL's Open Campus.

Energy coupled to matter, or ECM, is one such emerging technology. ECM is focused on developing stronger and more fatigue-resistant munitions and weapons by introducing intensive magnetic, microwave, microgravity, acoustic or electrical fields during the manufacturing stage.

The outcome could result in an exotic materials with improved performance, he said, adding that a lot of the current research is being done using modeling and simulation, which allows one to explore many different material structures before making them.

By improved performance, he said, three to 100 times more energy could be produced so that a 40mm gun, for example, could produce as much energy as a 155mm gun without blowing up.

Another area of study involves replacing kinetic projectiles with specialty rounds that result in "incapacitating someone, with reversibility," he said, meaning that people could be knocked out of the fight but not killed or seriously injured.

Such technology, he said, does not involve drugs or chemicals and could be used in densely populated areas where the likelihood of collateral damage to noncombatants would make targeting difficult.

Nonlethal research that ARL is focusing on includes bright light and acoustic stimuli as well as directed electromagnetic energy.

Hitting multiple targets with just one shot is another avenue in development, he said.

The Navy and Air Force approach focuses on converging munitions from many sources and directions on a single target, such as a plane or ship.

The Army's approach is the opposite, he said. The Army would like to fire one shot which contains a packet of shots, operating in a "parent-child" manner. As the packet approaches the area, it breaks apart into separate projectiles that can hit a multitude of targets, using on board energy in a more effective manner than it is used today.

This distributed, cooperative and collaborative engagement ties together the fields of information, computational, material and lethality sciences and offers the potential to revolutionize how the Army operates in a complex world of the future.


Following Zoltoski's discussion, Mark Serben, tank and armor program integrator at U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Command, said the Army has successfully demonstrated an extended area protection and survivability, or EAPS, technology, in this case used with a Bushmaster 50mm cannon, can successfully track and prosecute distant moving targets using interferometric radar and radio frequency communication.

Serben showed several videos of EAPS in action against unmanned aerial vehicles. Rounds could be seen course-correcting in mid-flight to destroy UAVs.

Such technology, Serben said, could result in cost savings and more accurate targeting.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

American Naval Force Off Yemen Gets Credit After Iranian Convoy Turns Away -

American Naval Force Off Yemen Gets Credit After Iranian Convoy Turns Away - Pentagon officials on Friday credited the deployment of an American aircraft carrier group in waters off the coast of Yemen for a decision by Iran to turn back a naval convoy suspected of carrying weapons bound for Shiite rebels.

Although it was unusual to dispatch such a large American naval force to the Arabian Sea on an interdiction and deterrence mission, Pentagon officials said the deployment — and Iran’s apparent response — had lowered tensions in the continuing regional proxy war between Tehran and Saudi Arabia.

The nine-ship Iranian convoy had turned north and east near the coast of Oman, in the direction of Iran, Defense Department officials said.

Col. Steven H. Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said, “We do not know their future intentions,” but added that “it’s fair to say that, yes, this appears to be a de-escalation of some of the tensions.”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

SecDef Carter: Europe 'not doing enough' on defense

SecDef Carter: Europe 'not doing enough' on defense: Defense Secretary Ash Carter chided America's European allies on Wednesday, saying a long slide in European defense spending calls into question its ability to partner with the U.S. military at a time of growing security threats across Europe.

"They're not doing enough," Carter said in an unusually blunt assessment of the Europeans' defense efforts. He said they are spending a smaller share of their overall economic wealth on defense than they did in the past.

"It's too low," he said. "And if Europe wants to be a force in the world it needs to be more than a moral and political and economic force, which Europe is because it shares many of our values and demonstrates them around the world. But it has to have the military power that goes with that as well.

"It has to have the military power to be a capable ally of ours, and we see that slipping. It has got to turn around. It's not that they don't have the money to do it."

Carter made his comments in response to a question from his audience at Georgetown University after delivering a speech about eradicating sexual assault from the military and providing help for assault victims.

Carter has not visited Europe since taking office in February. He is expected to attend his first meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels in June.

Air Force looking at using Ospreys for search and rescue

Air Force looking at using Ospreys for search and rescue: The Air Force is looking at big changes to its combat search and rescue fleet, possibly using the tilt rotor Osprey to carry pararescuemen in addition to its new combat rescue helicopter, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said Wednesday.

The service flies 67 aging HH-60G Pave Hawks to carry its Guardian Angel rescue airmen into combat to rescue troops. The service plans to replace the Pave Hawks with the recently named HH-60W next-generation Black Hawk, and it awarded a $1.2 billion contract for 112 helicopters to a joint Sikorsky and Lockheed-Martin team last year.

Welsh said the service has for the past six months studied ways to incorporate Air Force Special Operations Command's CV-22 Ospreys in combat search and rescue, noting that there are scenarios where the faster tilt rotors could be a better fit for rescues.

The service's current fleet of 33 Ospreys is used for long-range infiltration, exfiltration and resupply for special operations troops.

Manned aircraft needed for future Air Force, as Navy moves unmanned

Manned aircraft needed for future Air Force, as Navy moves unmanned: The Air Force will not follow the Navy into an all-unmanned future strike fleet, as

pilots will be needed in the cockpits of most of its combat fleet for the foreseeable future.

While the Air Force will increase its reliance on remotely piloted and possibly autonomous aircraft, there will be no replacement for a fighter pilot, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said Wednesday.

"Having the human brain as a sensor in combat is still immensely important in our view," Welsh said at an event sponsored by Defense One in Washington, D.C.

Welsh's comments follow a statement last week from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus that the service's F-35C "should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly." The Navy will need fighter pilots for possible dog fighting, but unmanned aircraft will handle strike missions, Mabus said.

"Unmanned systems, particularly autonomous ones, have to be the new normal in ever-increasing areas," Mabus said April 15 at the Sea-Air-Space Exposition outside Washington.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

X-47B First to Complete Autonomous Aerial Refueling

X-47B First to Complete Autonomous Aerial Refueling

The X-47B successfully conducted the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) of an unmanned aircraft April 22, completing the final test objective under the Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System demonstration program.

While flying off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, the X-47B connected to an Omega K-707 tanker aircraft and received over 4,000 pounds of fuel using the Navy's probe-and-drogue method.

"What we accomplished today demonstrates a significant, groundbreaking step forward for the Navy," said Capt. Beau Duarte, the Navy's Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager. "The ability to autonomously transfer and receive fuel in flight will increase the range and flexibility of future unmanned aircraft platforms, ultimately extending carrier power projection."

During the test, the X-47B exchanged refueling messages with a government-designed Refueling Interface System (RIS) aboard the tanker. The aircraft autonomously maneuvered its fixed refueling probe into the tanker's drogue, also known as the basket, the same way a Navy pilot would refuel a manned aircraft.

General Atomics: Third-Gen Electric Laser Weapon Now Ready | Technology content from Aviation Week

General Atomics: Third-Gen Electric Laser Weapon Now Ready | Technology content from Aviation Week: While fashions in high-energy lasers have changed as technology progresses, from gas to diode and now fiber, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has stayed its course over more than a decade and believes its third generation of electric laser weapon is ready for prime time.

The company has responded to an Office of Naval Research (ONR) solicitation for a 150-kw laser weapon suitable for installation on DDG-51-class destroyers to counter unmanned aircraft and small boats using only ship power and cooling.

Under ONR’s Solid-State Laser Technology Maturation program, the weapon is to be demonstrated in 2018 on the USS Paul Foster, a decommissioned Spruance-class destroyer that now serves as the U.S. Navy’s ship-defense test vessel at Port Hueneme in California.

GA-ASI has proposed its Gen 3 High-Energy Laser (HEL) system, which recently completed independent beam-quality and power testing for the U.S. government. The Gen 3 system is the third generation of electrically pumped laser using the architecture developed for Darpa’s Hellads program.

LCU Replacement in Preliminary Design, Anticipating 2022 Fleet Debut - USNI News

LCU Replacement in Preliminary Design, Anticipating 2022 Fleet Debut - USNI News: The Navy is doing preliminary design work on its Landing Craft Utility (LCU) replacement now to begin construction within about three years, in time to support one-for-one replacement on the surface connectors in 2022.

The LCUs were first built in 1959, and the 32 craft still in service average more than 43 years old – well over the 25 years of service life they were built for, Capt. Chris Mercer, amphibious warfare program manager at Naval Sea Systems Command, said at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2015 Exposition last week.

“We spend a lot of money keeping these things running. A lot of structural repairs, a lot of machinery repairs, and it’s time to invest in new,” he said.

Director of expeditionary warfare Maj. Gen. Robert Walsh echoed that sentiment during a different presentation at the conference, saying “we put them in drydock, and it costs a significant amount of money and we’re losing capability. For example on the LCUs, we used to be able to carry two tanks. Just this last summer we reduced that capability down to one tank.”

Marines Fire Switchblade Drone From Osprey in Test | Defense Tech

Marines Fire Switchblade Drone From Osprey in Test | Defense Tech: Marines fired a small airborne drone capable of carrying explosives from the back of an MV-22 Osprey in a test that could offer the tilt-rotor aircraft a new weapons potential.

Called the Switchblade, the drone was initially developed as a small intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft. Marines at Twentynine Palms, Calif., attached one of the tube-launched drones atop an Osprey for a test attack-launch.

The system is small enough to be carried by a single soldier or Marine, according to the company, AeroVironment of Monrovia, California. Marines have been using the drone in Afghanistan since 2011. At Twentynine Palms Marines demonstrated the company’s claim that it could be launched from the air, as well.

The five pound drone did not carry a lethal payload for the test-run, but was successfully released and accurately steered toward its target, Col. James Adams, commander of Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, told The Washington Post.

USAF realigns B-1 bomber fleets

USAF realigns B-1 bomber fleets: U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber fleets and the Long Range Strike Bomber program of the Air Combat Command are being realigned, the Air Force announced.

As of October 1, the two will be under the unified authority of the Air Force Global Strike Command, in charge of organizing, training and equipping crews of B-52 and B-2 bomber fleets.

"This realignment places all three ... bombers under one command and brings the LRS-B program with it," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "Consolidating all of our Air Force assets in this critical mission area under a single command will help provide a unified voice to maintain the high standards necessary in stewardship of our nation's bomber forces."

The Air Force said 63 aircraft and approximately 7,000 people will transfer from ACC to AFGSC under the realignment.

Navy's Triton drone flies with new radar system

Navy's Triton drone flies with new radar system: A U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial system has flown for the first time with a new search radar system that provides enhanced surveillance capabilities.

The new radar is named the Multi-Function Active Sensor, with a 360-degree view of a large geographic area and providing all-weather coverage for detecting, classifying, tracking and identifying points of interest, Naval Air Systems Command reported.

In addition to the new radar, the UAS will also carry an electro-optical/infrared sensor for still imagery and full-motion video of potential threats; an electronic support measures package to identify and geo-locate radar threat signals; and a system to detect and track vessels equipped with automatic identification system responders.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Who Will Supply the US Navy’s Next Anti-Ship Missile? | The Diplomat

Who Will Supply the US Navy’s Next Anti-Ship Missile? | The Diplomat: Last week, Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS) announced that it will offer the United States Navy an updated version of the Harpoon RGM-84 Block II anti-ship missile (ASM), called Harpoon Next Generation, for the navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the modified LCS Frigate program, USNI News reports.

Boeing will offer both a new missile as well as a kit to upgrade the existing Harpoon inventories of the U.S. Navy and 27 international clients. The principal improvements of the next generation Harpoon ASM, in comparison to the current model in use, will be increased range, a more fuel-efficient engine, and a smaller 300-pound class warhead.

According to Jim Brooks, director of cruise missile systems weapons programs for Boeing Global Strike Weapons and Missile Systems, a division of BDS, the upgrade aims at “doubling the range of Harpoon from 67 nm [124km] to 134 nm [248km].” The next generation Harpoon and the kit are supposed to be ready by 2018.

US Navy Pursues High-Tech Submarine Upgrades |

US Navy Pursues High-Tech Submarine Upgrades | U.S. Navy leaders say the service is making progress developing new technologies to ensure the U.S. retains its technological edge in the undersea domain – as countries like China continue rapid military modernization and construction of new submarines.

When asked about the pace of Chinese undersea military construction and modernization, the Navy's Director of Undersea Warfare said the Navy is focused on sustaining the research and development, or R&D, sufficient to ensure the U.S. retains its technological superiority.

Some of the efforts are yielding near-term results in the form of the USS South Dakota, a prototype Virginia-class attack submarine engineered with a series of high-tech adjustments, Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo told

The innovations, which emerged from the Navy's R&D program, include quieting technologies for the engine room to make the submarine harder to detect, a new large vertical array and additional coating materials for the hull, Tofalo said.

"I have an R&D program that I fund and the sole purpose is to make sure we don't get surprised. It is about understanding the science and technology and doing our due diligence from an academic standpoint to make sure we look at all the threat vectors -- whether that be hydrodynamics, acoustics, lasers -- and all the science that is associated with all that they do," Tofalo said.

While many of the details of these new technologies are not publically available, Tofalo said some risk reduction work on these innovations has been done on the other submarines such as the USS Dallas and USS Maryland.

NSA Chief: Rules of War Apply to Cyberwar, Too - Defense One

NSA Chief: Rules of War Apply to Cyberwar, Too - Defense One: Is there a way to discuss publicly what the future of cyber operations will look like? Defense One recently put the question to Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference outside of Washington, D.C.

Rogers indicated, unsurprisingly, that full transparency will remain impossible. But he also opened up, ever so slightly, in promising that Cyber Command would follow international norms in determining how the U.S. uses what are sometimes called offensive cyber capabilities. “Remember, anything we do in the cyber arena … must follow the law of conflict. Our response must be proportional, must be in line with the broader set of norms that we’ve created over time. I don’t expect cyber to be any different,” he said.

Navy Rolls Out CYBERSAFE: ‘Our Operational Network Is Under Fire’ « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Navy Rolls Out CYBERSAFE: ‘Our Operational Network Is Under Fire’ « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: We are now paying the price of “decisions made over the last 10 or 20 years in which the network was taken for granted,” said Adm. Michael Rogers, the Navy four-star who heads US Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.

“We really never put a lot of thought into the idea that it might actually be contested, that an opponent might actually want to take away our C2 [command-and-control] links, or that redundancy, resiliency, and defensibility were really core design characteristics,” Rogers said at last week’s Sea-Air-Space conference. “It was all about maximum output at the best price.”

Today, by contrast, the military must “operate the network as a warfighting platform,” said Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, head of Navy Cyber Command, “[even though] it wasn’t procured in the way that we’d procure a warfighting platform…. It’s not a service provider, it’s not a support capability. We know that our operational network is under fire every day; we have to defend it.”

Beijing Shocks US With Unbelievable Progress of Airstrip in South China Sea

Beijing Shocks US With Unbelievable Progress of Airstrip in South China Sea: New satellite imagery shows the extent of China's construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea. Fiery Cross Reef could soon serve as a military-grade runway in the middle of the ocean. And despite its own military presence in the region, US officials are in panic.

Dredging sand from the seafloor, the Chinese government has been steadily building artificial landmasses atop sunken reefs in the Spratly Islands archipelago. In part, the islands will be used to bolster emergency response in the region. But Beijing also says the islands will be used as military defense posts, which worries officials in Washington, already concerned about a growing Chinese influence.

Images obtained by IHS Jane's Defense Weekly from Airbus Defence and Space show just how rapid the island growth has been. With construction beginning only last year, Fiery Cross Reef is now home to China's first airstrip in the South China Sea. With 503 metered already paved, the runway could be as long as 3,000 meters once completed. That's long enough to support heavy military transport planes and fighter jets, according to Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Existing People's Liberation Army Air Force runways on the mainland range in length from 2,700 meters to 4,000 meters.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Pentagon's new cyber attack plan: 'Blunt force trauma' - Philip Ewing - POLITICO#ixzz3XmvqPRST#ixzz3XmvqPRST

The Pentagon's new cyber attack plan: 'Blunt force trauma' - Philip Ewing - POLITICO#ixzz3XmvqPRST#ixzz3XmvqPRST: “How do you make an enemy air defense system go completely blank in the first minute of the conflict?” Welsh asked reporters last week. “How do you make a [surface to air missile] radar show a thousand false targets that all look real so you don’t know where the real package is in the middle of that? How do you keep enemy surface to surface missiles from ever launching — or [fly] halfway to their target and then turn around and go home?”

The military services devote a lot of effort to defending their networks against cyberattacks and supporting the intelligence community, he said, but so far not enough pursuing cyber weapons they could wield the way they now deploy fighter squadrons or infantry battalions.

US Removing 24 Apaches from Europe

US Removing 24 Apaches from Europe: The US Army plans to transfer 24 attack helicopters from Germany to Alaska over the next two years as part of a larger cost-saving aviation plan, according to a senior Army official, but the move could send mixed signals as Washington tries to reassure European allies amid Russian aggression.

Maj. Gen. Gary Cheek, Army assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and policy, told reporters on April 14 that 24 AH-64 Apache helicopters from Germany will join a company, or 12, unmanned Gray Eagles in Alaska by 2017.

Only one combat aviation brigade (CAB) is permanently stationed in Europe, the 12th CAB, headquartered in Katterbach. An Army spokesman would not confirm it as the source of the Apaches — a sensitive issue as the Army has yet to formally announce two of the three combat aviation brigades it plans to render inactive.

With budget-driven efforts to draw down its presence in Europe on the one hand and a need to deter Russian aggression on the other, the US is walking a fine line. Analysts said moving Apaches now would be out of balance.

"At a time when the US is rightly pressing our European allies to do more, reducing real capability in Europe sends the wrong message — to our allies and to the Russians," said former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder, now president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "This is a time when budget decisions need to be reviewed in terms of geopolitical reality — which now includes a growing Russian threat to security in Europe."

Friday, April 17, 2015

DARPA demos Persistent Close Air Support System

DARPA demos Persistent Close Air Support System: Close air support (CAS)-delivery of airborne munitions to support ground forces-is difficult and dangerous because it requires intricate coordination between combat aircrews and dismounted ground forces (for example, joint terminal attack controllers, or JTACs). DARPA's Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program focuses on technologies to enable sharing of real-time situational awareness and weapons systems data through approaches designed to work with almost any aircraft.

PCAS envisions more precise, prompt and easy air-ground coordination for CAS and other missions under stressful operational conditions and seeks to minimize the risk of friendly fire and collateral damage by enabling the use of smaller munitions to hit smaller, multiple or moving targets. This capability is critically important in urban environments.

On March 27, DARPA successfully tested the full PCAS prototype system for the first time as part of TALON REACH, a U.S. Marine Corps infantry/aviation training exercise conducted in the southwest region of the United States in partnership with the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One and the Marine Infantry Officer Course (IOC).

Army plans intelligence system to be lighter weight, easier to use | Article | The United States Army

Army plans intelligence system to be lighter weight, easier to use | Article | The United States Army

Future versions of the Distributed Common Ground System - Army, or DCGS-A, will be less complex and easier to use, Army leaders told lawmakers.

The DCGS-A system is an intelligence collection, processing, and dissemination tool that Army leaders have acknowledged is "complex" but "complete." They say coming iterations of the tool will address the issue of complexity and will make the system easier for Soldiers to use.

"'We have acknowledged that the complexity associated with the buttonology ... bringing that information together ... has been difficult," said Lt. Gen. Michael E. Williamson, military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. "So we have tried to invest a lot of time, and we have also engaged with over 150 vendors through a series of industry days, to find out how we can improve the existing system."

During a hearing on Army modernization, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, subcommittee on Airland, April 14, Williamson told lawmakers that challenges with DCGS-A are "being addressed in subsequent increments of the DCGS program."

The general also said that during upcoming evaluations of the system in May, "I think you will see a completely different perception of how that tool is provided."


The Army plans to purchase 49,099 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, or JLTV, and expects that initial operating capability on the vehicle will come in fiscal year 2018. The JLTV provides to the Army a better balance of payload, performance and protection than did the Humvee.

Maj. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, assistant G-3/5/7, told senators the Army's priority for fielding the JLTV is focused on combat arms formations first. For echelons above brigade, he said, there will be some JLTV, but there will also likely be residual Humvees in those elements as well.

For "tactical battalions - infantry, armor, artillery - you are going to see JLTVs there," Cheek said. "Above brigade, you are going to see some mix of those."

Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Ierardi, Army G-8, also said fielding for the JLTV will be across the total force. "I believe it will be a total force issue plan, from the outset, based on the operational requirements the Army has."


Ierardi also told lawmakers that the Army's Aviation Restructure Initiative, or ARI, will enable the Army to achieve much of the aviation modernization it needs. He said the initiative will allow the Army to "enhance readiness" and "modernize."

One aspect of the ARI, he said, is the divestiture of Kiowa Warrior aircraft - and all other OH-58 aircraft - that he said was "reaching its shelf life." Dollars saved from divesting that aircraft will be invested in other programs, such as the Improved Turbine Engine Program and continued improvements to the AH-64 Apache aircraft. It is expected that all OH-58 helicopters will be gone from the Army fleet by 2018.

Another aspect of ARI is to have AH-64E Apache aircraft, paired with the Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle, fill the armed reconnaissance role that was performed by the OH-58 Kiowa helicopter.

Ierardi said the Army plans to move Apache aircraft from the National Guard to the active component, and to also provide UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft as well as UH-72 Lakota aircraft to the National Guard. The general also said that the TH-67 Creek, a training aircraft, would also be replaced by the Lakota.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

U.S. defense official cites concerns about attacks on satellites | Reuters

U.S. defense official cites concerns about attacks on satellites | Reuters: Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work on Wednesday underscored growing concerns about potential threats to key military and intelligence satellites, and said the U.S. government needed innovative and integrated ways to respond to any such attacks.

Work told a classified session at the annual Space Symposium conference that space assets were "absolutely critical" to the U.S. military's ability to operate and fight future wars, and the Pentagon would take action to defend those assets, according to his spokeswoman, Lieutenant Commander Courtney Hillson.

Work said government and industry needed to work together to find innovative ways to protect satellites and the networks used to operate them, she said.

"We depend on space for everything from space-based communications, to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to positioning, navigation and timing,” she said Work told 200 military and industry executives.

Work also said it was important to emphasize control of space assets as challenges arose, and that the U.S. government needed to respond in an integrated and coordinated manner if an adversary targeted those systems and capabilities.

Frigate Will Leverage Littoral Combat Ship Testing, Focus on New Combat Systems - USNI News

Frigate Will Leverage Littoral Combat Ship Testing, Focus on New Combat Systems - USNI News: The Navy’s new frigate will go through the requirements-generation and testing processes as a flight upgrade rather than a new-start program, helping save time and money and allowing the program office to focus on what will be different from the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to the frigate upgrade, frigate program manager Capt. Dan Brintzinghoffer said on Wednesday.

The frigate is working its way through the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) process now to support the first two ships being bought in Fiscal Year 2019, Brintzinghoffer said at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space 2015 Exposition. A request for proposals with a detailed technical data package would go out in FY 2017 to allow time for industry to ask questions and prepare their bids, which means the Navy has about 18 months to finalize its design – which will include common combat systems, over-the-horizon radars and over-the-horizon missiles.

Brintzinghoffer noted that he didn’t need to decide now which of each system he would use, but rather develop a roadmap for how to ensure a common system could be chosen and engineered into the ship designs. Currently, the Lockheed Martin Freedom variant and the Austal USA Independence variant have different combat systems. Brintzinghoffer said that for the sake of lifecycle costs and fleet flexibility, the frigates would have at the very least common combat system software, if not common consoles.

USAF and Raytheon complete operational testing of MALD-J platform - Airforce Technology

USAF and Raytheon complete operational testing of MALD-J platform - Airforce Technology: Raytheon's miniature air launched decoy-jammer (MALD-J) has successfully completed operational trials from an undisclosed location.

The jammer was jointly conducted by Raytheon and the US Air Force (USAF). It satisfied all requirements during testing moving closer to full-rate production and initial operational capability.

Raytheon Air Warfare Systems vice-president Mike Jarrett said: "MALD-J's unique capabilities have been proven in 42 successful flight tests during the last two years and brought us closer to full-rate production.

"MALD helps protect warfighters in the battlespace so they can complete their missions and return home safely."

US Navy: New Destroyers 'Looking Good'

US Navy: New Destroyers 'Looking Good': Development work for the new Flight III Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, scheduled to be ordered in 2019, is on track, a key US Navy admiral said Monday.

"We know we need more power, we know we need more cooling," Rear Adm. John Hill, program executive officer of integrated warfare systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), told an audience at the Navy League's annual Sea Air Space exposition. "But that is where [NAVSEA] is focused."

The Flight III ships will be fitted with the new Air Missile Defense Radar (AMDR), under development by Raytheon. The new sensor will replace SPY-1D radars fitted in earlier versions of the ships. Both SPY-1D and AMDR are the primary sensors for the Aegis combat system, which will continue to be fitted in Flight III ships.

Marines Postpone Faster Amphibious Combat Ships to 2025 |

Marines Postpone Faster Amphibious Combat Ships to 2025 | The Marines will have to wait another decade to increase the speed of its amphibious troop carriers, Marine Corps officials said Tuesday.

The service is pushing forward with plans to build about 200 new Amphibious Combat Vehicles that will ultimately replace the older, Amphibious Assault Vehicle fleet.

High-water speed has been a key requirement since these armored troop carriers are designed for forced-entry operations. Marine officials, however, have decided to postpone a decision on the requirement until 2025, Marine officials said at the 2015 Sea, Air and Space conference hosted at National Harbor, Md.

"High-water speed is still an important requirement for us. We are just going to have to figure out how to go about doing that," said Marine Maj. Gen. Andrew O'Donnell, assistant deputy commandant for Combat Development & Integration.

The ACV is the service's top modernization priority, but it will not immediately replace the AAV. The Corps will upgrade 392 AAVs to compliment the new ACVs.

Minisub a Hit At Navy Expo

Minisub a Hit At Navy Expo: While the floor at the annual Navy League Sea-Air-Space exposition is always packed with displays, it's unusual to see lines forming to view any one attraction. But a coal-black, sinister-looking undersea vessel on display here for the first time has clearly become a star, drawing lines and crowds milling around the always-busy Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) booth.

The new celebrity is the Proteus, a submersible undersea vehicle created by what is now HII's Undersea Solution Group (USG), Battelle and Bluefin Robotics. The craft came under HII's purview in late January with the purchase of the Columbia Group's Engineering Solutions Group, an outfit with long experience building swimmer delivery vehicles for the US Navy.

The Proteus is unique, designed to be manually crewed or to function as an autonomous, unmanned underwater vehicle.

Navy Will Test its Electromagnetic Rail Gun aboard DDG 1000 |

Navy Will Test its Electromagnetic Rail Gun aboard DDG 1000 | The Navy is evaluating whether to mount its new Electromagnetic Rail Gun weapon aboard the high-tech DDG 1000 destroyer by the mid-2020s, service officials said.

The DDG 1000's Integrated Power System provides a large amount of on board electricity sufficient to accommodate the weapon, Capt. Mike Ziv, Program Manager for Directed Energy and Electric Weapon Systems, told reporters at the Navy League's 2015 Sea Air Space symposium at National Harbor, Md.

The first of three planned DDG 1000 destroyers was christened in April of last year.

Ziv said Navy leaders believe the DDG 1000 is the right ship to house the rail gun but that additional study was necessary to examine the risks. A rigorous study on the issue should be finished by the end of this year, Ziv said.

"I think it's an ideal platform. There is a little bit more work needed to understand the details," he added.

The DDG 1000 is 65-percent larger than existing 9,500-ton Aegis cruisers and destroyers with a displacement of 15,482 tons,.

The DDG 1000's integrated power system, which includes its electric propulsion, helps generate up to 58 megawatts of on-board electrical power, something seen as key to the future when it comes to the possibility of firing a rail gun.

Coast Guard Commandant Says U.S. Falling Far Behind Russia in Arctic | DoD Buzz

Coast Guard Commandant Says U.S. Falling Far Behind Russia in Arctic | DoD Buzz: China is conducting Arctic research in an area considered the extended undersea shelf of the United States, while Russia is able to move across the frozen regions in 27 icebreakers.

Meanwhile, Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, said the United States is practically a bystander in the region.

“We sit here on the sidelines as the only nation that has not ratified the Law of the Sea Convention,” Zukunft told a gathering Tuesday at the Navy League’s annual Sea Air Space exposition and conference at National Harbor, Maryland. “Our nation has two ocean-going icebreakers … We’re the most prosperous nation on Earth. Our GDP is eight times that of Russia. Russia has 27 ocean-going icebreakers.”

USS America Performing Well in Trials; Shipbuilder Looking for Further Efficiencies - USNI News

USS America Performing Well in Trials; Shipbuilder Looking for Further Efficiencies - USNI News: Post-delivery testing on USS America (LHA-6) went far more smoothly than on previous big-decks, and the Navy and Ingalls Shipbuilding are trying to leverage this success as they move forward with the next two amphibious assault ships.

Capt. Chris Mercer, amphibious warfare program manager at Naval Sea Systems Command, said USS America’s (LHA-6) sea trials – which most recently include Combat System Ships Qualification Trials (CSSQT) in March and final contract trials (FCT) this month – “went very well across the board.”

Through almost 500 different test events in the one-week FCT two weeks ago, Mercer said “the trial went very well, especially compared to previous efforts on large decks – probably half the number of deficiencies identified, really great grades throughout. The combat system has been performing excellent, we got perfect grades across the board on our detect-to-engage.”

Brian Cuccias, president of Ingalls Shipbuilding, said that America is the 14th big-deck amphib to join the fleet and was the first ever to make it through a sea trial with zero starred cards, which indicate critical deficiencies.

Mercer said the ship would go through a few more test events this month, would do joint testing on its warfare systems at Point Mugu, and then go into a 40-week post-shakedown availability starting in June. After a few more trials, America will go into basic phase workups, probably participate in next year’s Rim of the Pacific international exercise, complete initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) and then deploy.

Army foresees a new age for robots

Army foresees a new age for robots: Soldiers will see a "new age" of ground robots, according to Army robotics managers.

Between 2019 and 2024, possible autonomous and semi-autonomous ground robots include mine-clearers, surveillance systems and supply vehicles, according to Scott Davis, program executive officer for Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

Davis, who spoke at the National Defense Industrial Association's Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference and Exhibition, said the current hodgepodge of disparate, non-interchangeable ground robots have become a sustainment burden. "During the last 10 years, the Army purchased more than 7,000 'nonstandard equipment' items such as Talon IV, Packbot 510 FASTAC, SUGV 310 mini-EOD, Dragon Runner and First Look," noted an Army news release on the conference.

The Army has just begun the Robotics Enhancement Program (REP). Davis listed several hardware and software upgrades the Army is seeking for existing robots, including "incremental hardware and software enhancements to existing systems/chassis; sensor and payload upgrades; modularity; open architecture in IOP, or, in- and out-processing software; standardization; miniaturization and light weight; and intelligent behavior."

NGA: 'Seismic Shift' in Geospatial Intel

NGA: 'Seismic Shift' in Geospatial Intel: The world of geospatial intelligence is undergoing a "seismic shift," the head of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) said Tuesday — one that will require a growing reliance on unclassified sources of intelligence.

Robert Cardillo said today's rapidly evolving threat environment means closer ties with industry and exploitation of open sources such as social media are key to making sure his agency can continue to provide top-level intelligence to the US government.

"We have both a challenge and a warning," Cardillo said at the 31st Space Symposium here. "We have only a limited time to transform our mindset and unleash the power of our people to leverage our enterprise and fulfill the potential that these massive changes offer."

As an example of how quickly the world moves, Cardillo pointed to the last several months that featured Russia's invasion of Ukrainian territory, the spread of ebola, the growth of the Islamic State group and the ongoing fallout from the Arab Spring uprisings has put stress on the GEOINT community.

"We must move to understanding more quickly by trending, predicting, forecasting and — anticipating — the threat in hours, if not minutes," he said. "And we must offer our customers potential courses of action dynamically."

The hidden battle to build the Air Force's new stealth bomber - Philip Ewing and Leigh Munsil - POLITICO

The hidden battle to build the Air Force's new stealth bomber - Philip Ewing and Leigh Munsil - POLITICO: The campaign by defense giant Northrop Grumman, specifically targeted at the Washington market, is the most visible evidence of the behind-the-scenes battle to build the Air Force’s new stealth bomber, a deal with an estimated value of at least $55 billion.

Defense officials are expected to choose a winner for the highly classified Long Range Strike Bomber as soon as this summer. And the face-off between Northrop and a powerhouse team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin is shaping up to be a political slugfest like few others at a time when the Pentagon is buying fewer major new weapons.

The companies’ representatives have trekked to scores of congressional offices in recent months to talk up the program, according to industry officials — especially from Northrop and Lockheed. A small army of retired generals, lobbyists and consultants are also pressing the case.

AC-130J Ghostrider Program Hits Developmental Snags

AC-130J Ghostrider Program Hits Developmental Snags: Air Force Special Operations Command has a history of taking existing aircraft and boosting lethality with new sensors and powerful weapons.

One example is AFSOC’s AC-130, a modified Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The AC-130, which has been in the command’s inventory for decades, is currently being revamped with a new J-model, known as the Ghostrider.

The gunship — which is a modified MC-130J aircraft — will be used for close-air support and air interdiction. It is meant to replace aging AC-130 H/U/W gunships and the Air Force plans to convert 32 MC-130Js to the new variant. The first is currently in testing and a second is being built.

However, J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester, recently found that the aircraft’s developers face a number of developmental issues, including trouble integrating the precision strike package — a key component of the new gunship.

“Problems integrating the PSP weapon kit onto the aircraft continue to delay portions of developmental testing by prohibiting weapons employment,” the fiscal year 2014 office of the director of operational test and evaluation annual report said.

“The visual acuity of the electro-optical/infrared sensors installed on the AC-130J is not sufficient for accurate target identification and designation because the new aircraft causes more vibration than the legacy AC-130W aircraft on which the PSP was previously installed,” it said.

Additionally, electrical/radio frequency interference between the aircraft and the hand controllers used by crewmembers to guide the system’s various sensors and weapons has caused “erratic sensor movements,” the report said.

Pentagon: We Can’t Afford to Replace Aging ICBMs, Bombers, Subs - Defense One

Pentagon: We Can’t Afford to Replace Aging ICBMs, Bombers, Subs - Defense One: Even if Congress approves the White House’s 2016 budget for the Pentagon, the Pentagon will find itself $10 billion to $12 short beginning in 2021, Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, said Tuesday at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference.

“We don’t have a solution to that problem right now,” Kendall said, asked by a reporter about the plan for funding a replacement for the Navy’s Ohio-class submarines. All more than 30 years old, these “boomers” slip silently around the world’s oceans, waiting for the command to launch their nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.

The entire U.S. nuclear inventory needs to be upgraded by the 2030s, Pentagon officials say. That includes the submarines, land-based Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles and new stealth bomber. Together, the three make up the “nuclear triad,” the cornerstone of America’s deterrent force. The Pentagon also says it needs a new nuclear cruise missile.

US military not ready to wage digital attack: official

US military not ready to wage digital attack: official: The US military is well equipped to defend the country against cyberattacks but is not yet ready to wage digital warfare, a senior defense official told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The military's cyber command, created in 2009, lacks the means to lead an offensive campaign in a fast-moving digital conflict, said Eric Rosenbach, the Pentagon's principal adviser on cyber security.

Asked by Senator Bill Nelson if the command lacks the computer network infrastructure to carry out a cyber offensive "effectively," Rosenbach said: "Yes, they currently do not have a robust capability."

But when it comes to defending US networks, "we are in good shape," he told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats.

His comments were unusual because officials previously have suggested the military was ready to lead an offensive digital campaign if necessary.

Raytheon testing new target seeker for Tomahawk missiles

Raytheon testing new target seeker for Tomahawk missiles: Raytheon plans to test a multi-mode seeker for Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles to show it can enable the missile to hit moving land and sea targets.

The self-funded captive flight test will use a modified Tomahawk Block IV missile nose cone equipped with active and passive radio frequency antennas integrated with Raytheon's new modular, multi-mode processor and fitted to a T-39 aircraft, which will simulate a Tomahawk flight regime.

Raytheon said the multi-mode seeker and its multi-function processor will operate the active radar against fixed and mobile targets on land and at sea.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Asleep-yet-Aware electronics could revolutionize remote wireless sensors

Asleep-yet-Aware electronics could revolutionize remote wireless sensors: State-of-the-art military sensors today rely on "active electronics" to detect vibration, light, sound or other signals. That means they constantly consume power, with much of that power and time spent processing what often turns out to be irrelevant data.

This power consumption limits sensors' useful lifetimes to a few weeks or months when operating from state-of-the-art batteries, and has slowed the development of new sensor technologies and capabilities. Moreover, the chronic need to redeploy power-depleted sensors is not only costly and time-consuming but also increases warfighter exposure to danger.

DARPA's new Near Zero Power RF and Sensor Operations (N-ZERO) program seeks to overcome the power limitations of persistent sensing by developing wireless, event-driven sensing capabilities that would allow physical, electromagnetic and other sensors to remain dormant-effectively asleep yet aware-until an event of interest awakens them.

To achieve these goals, the program intends to develop underlying technologies to continuously and passively monitor the environment and activate an electronic circuit only upon detection of a specific signature, such as the presence of a particular vehicle type or radio communications protocol.

Army Wants Full Robotic Autonomy

The Army is working toward developing a fully autonomous tactical vehicle, a robotics expert said.

"When you start looking at the mid-term, five to 10 years, we start talking about tapping into external systems," said Mark Mazzara, robotics interoperability lead for the Army's Program Executive Office - Combat Support and Combat Service Support at Detroit Arsenal, Michigan.

Mazzara was a panelist, April 8, at the National Defense Industrial Association Ground Robotics Capabilities Conference and Exhibition in Crystal City, Virginia, where he discussed the path toward autonomous capabilities.

Autonomous vehicles will be able to operate without direct human supervision and are a step up from unmanned vehicles, which are typically controlled remotely. Today, unmanned aerial systems, for instance, have remote operators. In contrast, autonomous vehicles would be operated robotically.

The process to reach the goal of autonomous capabilities is a three-phase approach, Mazzara said, starting with driver-safety and driver-assist technologies that are upgrades to vehicles.

Mazzara explained that is followed by basic autonomy capabilities, which then lay the foundation for the third phase, a fully autonomous tactical vehicle.

The Army wants its Unmanned Ground Vehicle Interoperability Profile, or IOP, to enable this "evolutionary approach toward tactical vehicle autonomy," he said.

"In the far term, we start talking about more ubiquitous interoperability between the robots and external systems," Mazzara said.

Today, semi-autonomous systems are used to clear mines, provide surveillance, convoy supplies and acquire targets, among many other things.

To reach autonomous capability, the Army needs incremental hardware and software enhancements to existing systems/chassis; sensor and payload upgrades; modularity; open architecture in IOP, or, in- and out-processing software; standardization; miniaturizatio

LOCUST: Autonomous, Swarming UAVs Fly into the Future

A new era in autonomy and unmanned systems for naval operations is on the horizon, as officials at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced April 14 recent technology demonstrations of swarming unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) - part of the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program.

LOCUST can launch swarming UAVs to autonomously overwhelm an adversary. The deployment of UAV swarms will provide Sailors and Marines a decisive tactical advantage.

"The recent demonstrations are an important step on the way to the 2016 ship-based demonstration of 30 rapidly launched autonomous, swarming UAVs," said ONR program manager Lee Mastroianni.

The LOCUST program includes a tube-based launcher that can send UAVs into the air in rapid succession. The breakthrough technology then utilizes information-sharing between the UAVs, enabling autonomous collaborative behavior in either defensive or offensive missions.

Since the launcher and the UAVs themselves have a small footprint, the technology enables swarms of compact UAVs to take off from ships, tactical vehicles, aircraft or other unmanned platforms.

The ONR demonstrations, which took place over the last month in multiple locations, included the launch of Coyote UAVs capable of carrying varying payloads for different missions. Another technology demonstration of nine UAVs accomplished completely autonomous UAV synchronization and formation flight.

ONR officials note that while the LOCUST autonomy is cutting edge compared to remote-controlled UAVs, there will always be a human monitoring the mission, able to step in and take control as desired.

"This level of autonomous swarming flight has never been done before," said Mastroianni. "UAVs that are expendable and reconfigurable will free manned aircraft and traditional weapon systems to do more, and essentially multiply combat power at decreased risk to the warfighter."

UAVs reduce hazards and free personnel to perfo

U.S. Soldiers, Back in Iraq, Find Security Forces in Disrepair -

U.S. Soldiers, Back in Iraq, Find Security Forces in Disrepair - Lt. Col. John Schwemmer is here for his sixth Iraq deployment. Maj. James Modlin is on his fourth. Sgt. Maj. Thomas Foos? “It’s so many, I would rather not say. Sir.”

These soldiers are among 300 from the 5-73 Squadron of the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, about half of them trainers, the rest support and force protection. Stationed at this old Iraqi military base 20 miles north of Baghdad, they are as close as it gets to American boots on the ground in Iraq.

Back now for the first time since the United States left in 2011, none of them thought they would be here again, let alone return to find the Iraqi Army they had once trained in such disrepair.

Colonel Schwemmer said he was stunned at the state in which he found the Iraqi soldiers when he arrived here. “It’s pretty incredible,” he said. “I was kind of surprised. What training did they have after we left?”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Navy to Deploy First Underwater Drones from Submarines |

Navy to Deploy First Underwater Drones from Submarines | The Navy will deploy its first underwater drones from Virginia-class attack submarines for the first time in history later this year, the Navy's director of undersea warfare said Monday.

The deployment will include the use of the Remus 600 Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, or UUVs, performing undersea missions in strategic locations around the globe, Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, told at the Navy League's Sea Air Space annual symposium at National Harbor, Md.

"Now you are talking about a submarine CO who can essentially be in two places at the same time – with a UUV out deployed which can do dull, dirty and dangerous type missions. This allows the submarine to be doing something else at the same time," Tofalo said. "UUVs can help us better meet our combatant command demand signal. Right now, we only meet about two-thirds of our combatant commanders demand signals and having unmanned systems is a huge force multiplier."

The Remus 600 is a 500-pound, 3.25-meter long UUV equipped with dual-frequency side-scanning sonar technology, synthetic aperture sonar, acoustic imaging, video cameras and GPS devices, according to information from its maker, Hyrdoid.

The Remus 600 is similar to the BLUEFIN Robotics UUVs, such as the BLUEFIN 21, that were used to scan the ocean floor in search of the wreckage of the downed Malaysian airliner last year.

The upcoming deployment of the Remus 600 is part of a larger Navy effort to use existing commercial off-the-shelf technology, Tofalo explained.

Naval aviation progress comes in fits, starts

Naval aviation progress comes in fits, starts: The Navy is in the midst of sweeping changes in aviation, particularly in the future carrier air wing.

As engineers continue to develop the F-35C Lightning II, the carrier variant of the stealth aircraft that has suffered repeated delays, service officials are trying to ensure an adequate number of F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets are available to operate at sea. In addition, the Navy is bringing on a new early warning aircraft and beginning the shift from a twin-engine cargo aircraft for carrier onboard delivery to the tiltrotor aircraft now flown by Marines.

Meanwhile, the helicopter community is retiring two older H-60 aircraft and shuttering some squadrons while transitioning others to newer models.

The first-in-class carrier Gerald R. Ford, with its impressive array of technological advancements, appears to be on pace for its March 2016 delivery, but nagging issues with the launch and recovery systems continue to produce headaches.

Coast Guard Targets Crime Network

SEAPOWER Magazine Online: The U.S. Coast Guard says it’s not enough to seize thousands of pounds of cocaine at sea or even arrest the people transporting illegal drugs by boat. Instead, it’s crucial to defeat the transnational organized crime (TOC) networks behind the illicit commerce in narcotics and people, according to the Coast Guard’s Western Hemisphere Strategy.

“Last year alone. the Coast Guard took 91 metric tons of cocaine out of the [trafficking] stream,” Lt. Cmdr. Devon Brennan told a briefing on the first day of the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition. He noted that is three times the amount of drugs seized by all U.S. law enforcement agencies “including along the southwestern border.”

But Brennan, from the Office of Law Enforcement at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, noted “it’s not the end of the game.”

The Western Hemisphere Strategy, released by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft in September, focuses on three broadly defined priorities for safeguarding the Western Hemisphere: combating criminal networks, securing borders and safeguarding commerce.

Focusing on the first priority in his briefing Monday/April 13, Brennan said just getting the drugs before they hit American streets “is not the main goal.”

Instead, the Hemisphere Strategy calls for better intelligence and better communication with U.S. law enforcement as well as international partners to attack transnational organized crime on many fronts.

ULA Unveils Vulcan Launch Vehicle

ULA Unveils Vulcan Launch Vehicle: The United Launch Alliance's next generation launch vehicle will feature a reusable main engine and a redesigned second stage, the company announced Monday.

The rocket, dubbed 'Vulcan' via an online vote, will replace both the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles, the only two current options for military space launch under the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.

Details of the next-gen rocket have leaked out over the last month, but the greatest surprise of Mondays announcement at the National Space Symposium was the company's Sensible, Modular, Autonomous Return Technology (SMART) initiative, which would allow ULA to capture and reuse the main booster engine.

Tory Bruno, who took over as ULA president in August, said the new design "Takes the best parts" of the legacy launch vehicles while also driving down the cost.

The biggest news of the design is the inclusion of a reusable engine, which the company believes will save an estimated 90 percent in booster propulsion cost.

ULA's competitor SpaceX, which is expected to be certified for military launch by June, is testing how to build reusability into its Falcon series of rockets. Where SpaceX's design involves landing the full system onto a landing pad, only the first stage engine will be reusable for Vulcan.

Corps tests new camo the enemy won't be able to spot

Corps tests new camo the enemy won't be able to spot: There was a time when U.S. forces owned the night, conducting shadowy raids against enemies who never saw them coming. But as night vision technology becomes more readily available, that advantage has faded into history.

One of the greatest battlefield threats now is the proliferation of cheap night vision, thermal cameras and a plethora of other sensors. Those tools can give even underfunded third-world insurgents capabilities once reserved for military superpowers, according to defense industry experts.

The Marine Corps and Army have taken note and, along with U.S. Special Operations Command, are working with manufacturers to counter the growing threat by incorporating new cloaking technology into camouflage.

"There are requirements to conceal uniforms across the electromagnetic spectrum," said Maj. Anton Semelroth the Combat Development and Integration spokesman at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

Traditional camouflage is designed only to break up the shape of troops, helping them match the splotchy color of the natural environment in which they operate. But it's only effective when observed by the naked eye, which sees only a narrow piece of the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Some sensors are able to detect wavelengths on other parts of the spectrum that the human eye cannot, revealing that some seemingly invisible items actually stand out in a natural environment with the help of cheap, widely available equipment.

Congress wants the Pentagon to develop a long-range, deadly superdrone - The Washington Post

Congress wants the Pentagon to develop a long-range, deadly superdrone - The Washington Post: The revolution in unmanned aerial flight has advanced quickly and in dramatic leaps, perhaps none more momentous than the historic landing of an autonomous Navy drone on an aircraft carrier.

That happened for the first time two years ago, when Northrop Grumman’s X-47B, which looks more like a UFO than a military aircraft, took off and landed on the USS George H.W. Bush.

[Video: The Navy’s X-47B drone reaches a new milestone]

It made history again last year, when it flew alongside F/A-18 fighter jets, the first time a drone flew in concert with piloted planes off a carrier. And later this month, the X-47B is expected to attempt what would be another aerial triumph: refueling midair by a tanker plane.

But despite those breakthroughs, some powerful members of Congress and leading military think tanks say the Pentagon is being too cautious in its development of a technology that they think could push the boundaries of unmanned flight—and the future of warfare.

In what has become a made-for-Washington drama, a group of Congress’ most influential members are pushing the Pentagon to develop what to some sounds like sci-fi fantasy: drones that could not just take off from carriers, but fly for days at a time, covering hundreds, if not thousands, of miles, and perhaps most importantly, haul a hefty arsenal of bombs deep into enemy territory.

NASA selects proposals for ultra-lightweight material development

NASA selects proposals for ultra-lightweight material development: NASA has selected three proposals to develop and manufacture ultra-lightweight (ULW) materials for future aerospace vehicles and structures. The proposals will mature advanced technologies that will enable NASA to reduce the mass of spacecraft by 40 percent for deep space exploration.

"Lightweight and multifunctional materials and structures are one of NASA's top focus areas capable of having the greatest impact on future NASA missions in human and robotic exploration," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. "These advanced technologies are necessary for us to be able to launch stronger, yet lighter, spacecraft and components as we look to explore an asteroid and eventually Mars."

Composite sandwich structures are a special type of material made by attaching two thin skins to a lightweight core. Traditional composite sandwich structures incorporate either honeycomb or foam cores. This type of composite is used extensively within the aerospace industry and in other applications making it possible for future journeys to Mars. The ULW materials being developed by NASA vary significantly from traditional cores and are expected to result in a significant decrease in mass.

DARPA Seeks to Create Software Systems That Could Last 100 Years

DARPA Seeks to Create Software Systems That Could Last 100 Years: As modern software systems continue inexorably to increase in complexity and capability, users have become accustomed to periodic cycles of updating and upgrading to avoid obsolescence-if at some cost in terms of frustration. In the case of the U.S. military, having access to well-functioning software systems and underlying content is critical to national security, but updates are no less problematic than among civilian users and often demand considerable time and expense.

That is why DARPA has announced that it will launch an ambitious four-year research project to investigate the fundamental computational and algorithmic requirements necessary for software systems and data to remain robust and functional in excess of 100 years.

The Building Resource Adaptive Software Systems, or BRASS, program seeks to realize foundational advances in the design and implementation of long-lived software systems that can dynamically adapt to changes in the resources they depend upon and environments in which they operate.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Navy Interested in Guided Rounds for Surface Ships Pending Price Reductions - USNI News

Navy Interested in Guided Rounds for Surface Ships Pending Price Reductions - USNI News: The Navy is still interested in pursuing guided rounds for naval guns on its surface fleet but waiting for the technology to get cheaper before moving forward, the director of surface warfare said Wednesday in a press briefing with reporters.

The Navy has pursued a guided five-inch round for the service’s Mk 45 five inch guns on its guided missiles cruisers and destroyers in fits and starts since the mid-1990s with limited success.

“I’m at a point where I’m extraordinarily interested in as soon as the cost comes down to something I can make a reasonable case for,” said Rear Adm. Peter Fanta.
“So I’m looking at a number of different guided rounds, extended range guided rounds.”

The idea is to fire a rocket assisted guided weapon far beyond the 13 nautical mile range of the standard munitions to strike targets accurately faster and more cheaply than longer range guided missiles.

The Navy has been successful procuring guided weapons for the 155mm Advanced Gun System for the Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) guided missile destroyers — the BAE Systems Long-Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP).

But reducing the size to the smaller MK 45 weapon has been a challenge for the service.

US military tactics falling behind those of adversaries, Pentagon official warns | US news | The Guardian

US military tactics falling behind those of adversaries, Pentagon official warns | US news | The Guardian: A “proliferation of precision” weapons and the spread of styles of warfare displayed by Russia in Ukraine risks ending “the American way of war that we have grown accustomed to over the last three decades”, the Pentagon’s No 2 official warned on Wednesday.

In a speech likely to be hotly debated in defense circles, US deputy defense secretary Robert Work outlined a vision of ground warfare for what might be called a post-insurgency era, one in which US adversaries cycle between using subterfuge tactics and high-tech precision artillery – “conventional weapons with near-zero miss”, in his warning – to potentially overmatch the US military.

“I tell you now, our technological superiority is slipping. We see it every day,” Work told the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Work’s extended meditation on the future of ground warfare marks a departure for the Pentagon in the Barack Obama era, which has thus far forsworn large-scale land campaigns in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan, to the point where some army officers have wondered if their reward for those grueling wars is irrelevance.

“It’s certainly possible, even probable, that we will fight similar campaigns in the future,” Work said in his prepared remarks, expressing a sentiment rarely voiced at senior levels in the Obama administration.

Reliable Tempo draws down 13-year combat footprint in Afghanistan | Article | The United States Army

Reliable Tempo draws down 13-year combat footprint in Afghanistan | Article | The United States Army

 By Dec. 31, 2014, the United States transferred more than 300 military installations and $180 million in foreign excess personal property to the Afghan government. Concurrently, more than 30,000 pieces of rolling stock and 50,000 shipping containers of equipment were sent back to the United States, as well.

Much of that work was accomplished under the direction of the Army's 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), or TSC, as part of its four-phase Operation Drum Beat, or ODB, and Operation Reliable Tempo, or ORT, from June 2012 - December 2014, which was designed to remove U.S. Service members, equipment and vehicles from Afghanistan by the presidentially-mandated, Dec. 31, 2014, deadline, thus transitioning the U.S. presence from the Operation Enduring Freedom, or OEF, combat mission to the Operation Resolute Support, or ORS, mission.

The ORS mission is to train, advise and assist Afghan forces, while leaving security responsibilities to the Afghans.

Under the guidance and orders of International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, Joint Commander Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson and U.S. Forces - Afghanistan, or USFOR-A, Commander Maj. Gen. Jeffery Colt, who provided operational command over ODB, the 1st TSC and 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), or ESC, conducted ORT with a "team of teams", which was required to tackle this monumental mission; no one command or agency could do it alone.

To accomplish the mission, the 1st TSC and USFOR-A depended upon strategic partnerships with Army Materiel Command; Defense Logistics Agency; U.S. Transportation Command; Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command; U.S. Central Command J-4; U.S. Central Command Deployment Distribution Operations Center; Army G-4; assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology; and others.

"Our relationship with these strategic partners was the key to success," said Maj. Gen. Darrell Williams, commander, 1st TSC. "This is the ultimate team sport."

"The 1st TSC's operational command post, located in Kuwait, and its main command post, located on Fort Bragg, N.C., provided tremendous reach capability fostering success in personnel and equipment management that supported the retrograde of equipment from Afghanistan," Williams said.

Operating forward in Afghanistan, from April to December 2014, to conduct the ORT Phase 3 and 4 retrograde mission for the 1st TSC, was the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, or ESC, commanded by Brig. Gen. Flem B. "Donnie" Walker Jr.

The 3rd ESC accomplished, what is seen as arguably the largest and most demanding retrograde of equipment and personnel in the Army's modern era. This is due to the challenging geographical location of Afghanistan and the aggressive timeline to retrograde equipment out of the country by the end of 2014.

The 3rd ESC was involved in Ph.D.-level logistics, using lessons learned from Iraq to get the mission accomplished. Afghanistan is a landlocked country. To retrograde equipment, it was necessary to use every possible transportation node, while placing an emphasis on the stewardship of resources and creating efficiencies.

"Our mission in Afghanistan was to be the single-sustainment mission command for the entire combined joint operations area," Walker said. "In concert with our doctrinal mission to serve as a forward operational command post for a theater sustainment command, we were able to serve that role operating under the 1st TSC, whose focus is on the entire [U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility]."

"Sustainment is a team sport, and it was an entire enterprise effort that resulted in our strategic and operational successes over this last year," he said.

Walker said that during the retrograde from Afghanistan, the 3rd ESC's mission involved five major lines of effort: daily sustainment operations, theater provided equipment, or TPE, retrograde, materiel reduction, support to base closure/transfer, and preserving the first team.

More retrograde-specific lines of effort included the collection and sending home of TPE back to the United States, which includes "rolling stock," or combat vehicles. "We executed that through the 401st Army Field Support Brigade, out of Army Sustainment Command, or ASC. TPE accountability and retrograde have been top priority missions for them and we simply could not have been as successful without their expertise."

The 3rd ESC also focused on materiel reduction, which included the sorting, processing and shipment of virtually any type of standard and non-standard type of equipment imaginable that was either identified for disposal through Defense Logistics Agency-direct support or put back into the Army's inventory for future use.

The 3rd ESC supervised base closures and transfer of installations. "We've been very successful in doing that through our USCENTCOM [U.S. Central Command] Materiel Recovery Element, or CMRE, Brigade, which consisted primarily of a sustainment brigade headquarters, two engineer battalions and a combat sustainment support battalion," Walker said. "The CMRE was developed based on many lessons learned from the Iraq retrograde operation and proved to be our biggest "game-changer" in terms of our success in expeditious, standardized base deconstruction efforts."

The 3rd ESC also focused on preserving the 1st Team. "We practice on a daily basis the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program with all of our down-trace units," Walker said. "Engaged leadership, with emphasis on the five pillars of fitness [emotional, social, physical, spiritual, family], enabled our sustainers to remain focused and resilient throughout the deployment."


At one point, there were some 300 military installations that ranged in size from installations including Kandahar Airfield, also known as KAF, or Bagram Airfield, also known as BAF - two of the largest - down to "installations" that amounted to maybe just one building.

The U.S. footprint included installation "clusters," where multiple smaller facilities, each with their own security, sat in close proximity to one another that they were counted as one installation.

By the start of ORS, the U.S. footprint had to be reduced to less than 30 installations. Making that happen meant transferring existing installations to the Afghans. The United States worked with Afghan commanders to determine what they wanted and could sustain on their own. These installations were "de-scoped" to such a degree the Afghans could take care of them on their own.

Included among the responsibilities of base closure was the removal of personnel, equipment, rolling stock and non-rolling-stock equipment, as well as either complete or partial removal of facilities before the handover to the Afghans.

Lt. Col. Doug Kadetz, 3rd ESC, support operations branch at BAF, explained that situation regarding one installation case, where there had been a land dispute over what would happen to the facility once the United States handed it back to the Afghans. Cases like this could result in installations being stripped to nothing more than the concrete slabs that buildings once sat on, he said.

"We had to fully reduce Forward Operating Base Walton down to basically hard stands and level the entire forward operating base," he said." That means leveling every building, every piece of infrastructure, every re-locatable Connex, t-wall and concrete barrier. That took a significant amount of effort."

"Our guidance was that anything that was a sustainable structure, concrete buildings or maintenance structures for instance, be maintained or left for transition to the Afghan National Security Forces for their use," Kadetz said.

Lt. Col. Mark Ogburn, commander of the 608th Construction Management Team, managed two engineer battalions in Afghanistan that conducted much of the base closure. He said his team did the coordination and synchronization of those assets throughout the Combined Joint Operations Afghanistan to determine what was needed by the customers to start de-scoping a facility.

He described the work as taking the timeline for building up a base and flipping it on its head.

"We manage construction. You start from zero, you pour the foundation, and you end with the roof," he said. "Then you paint everything and move in. Now we are doing that in reverse. We took our schedule and flipped it upside down and did it in reverse. It was still the same ... we just had to learn to untie our shoes instead of tie our shoes."

For installations that would not be completely stripped, such as at Forward Operating Base Walton, Ogburn's team made sure the installations to be transferred met the needs of the Afghans.

"What we're doing is setting up Afghans for success," he said.


During the Phase 3 and Phase 4 portions of ORT, the 1st TSC set goals for itself to move a significant amount of both equipment and vehicles out of theater. The Phase 3 goal was to move more than 3,374 combat vehicles out of country. For Phase 4, that goal was 3,453. Overall, during ORT, the 1st TSC ensured that more than 14,000 combat vehicles were shipped out of the country.

Similar goals existed for non-rolling stock, which could be anything from communications gear to mine-detection equipment. Phase 3 saw a goal of 240 20-foot-equivalent units of equipment slated to leave the country, while the goal in Phase 4 was to ship 232 TEU's of equipment.

Significantly larger numbers of combat vehicles and non-rolling stock left Afghanistan before the start of ORT.

And while some materiel was prepared to go home, much more was either sold in theater to the Afghans, or was destroyed in theater and the scrap sold off. Such equipment would have cost more to send home than it would cost to buy new back in the states, said 1st Lt. Petar Mostarac, 133rd Quartermaster Company, at the KAF retrosort yard.

"With an old keyboard we've been using for 10 years, it doesn't make sense to ship that back home," Mostarac said. "It costs $20,000 per container to ship. It's better off buying it from Staples. Most of these items here are going to DLA [Defense Logistics Agency] to get destroyed. But we are capturing high-dollar items like vehicles and communications equipment."

At Mostarac's retrosort yard at KAF, Soldiers received containers of equipment from the field, sometimes as many as 500 20-foot-equivalent units a month, that needed to be sorted through to determine its value and whether to send it back home or not.

"We had some play," Mostarac said in making a decision. "But our biggest assistance came from the Standard Army Retail Supply System [SARSS]."

Mostarac said the SARSS helped them determine the value of an item, using its National Stock Number. How much the Army needed an item back in the supply system also played a role in the decision. The partnerships with Army Materiel Command and the different lifecycle management commands that fall under them, such as Communications and Electronics Command, and Aviation and Missile Command and Tank Automotive Command, helped with the retrosort operation, Mostarac said.

He said subject-matter experts from these components worked with the Soldiers at the yard to identify and sort items and look for high-value items.

"You might see a toaster-sized item come through here that's worth $300,000," Mostarac said. "It's critical we capture those items."

Mostarac's retrosort yard was not the only one in Afghanistan. There was another at BAF as well. In addition, teams went to outlying installations as they were closing, to capture materiel's and determine if those materials were even worth sending to the larger retrosort yards for further processing.

"The forward retrograde elements would pull out the scrap materiel and trash first, rather than send it back here and pay for the shipping," Mostarac said. "If it was scrap metal or a mattress, we could just as easily sell ... for 10 cents a pound or something like that, and get rid of that, and pull out the bulk stuff. And what they sent back here is the high-dollar stuff."

Making such decisions at the origin means the materiel doesn't have to be convoyed back -- putting Soldiers' lives at risk, said Lt. Col. Daniel Fresh, support operations officer, 45th Sustainment Brigade, CMRE.

"That materiel was either reduced or given to Defense Logistics Agency - Disposition Services, or DLA-DS, to be redistributed or scrapped out, forward," Fresh said. "The Soldiers didn't have to drive it back. About 90 percent of all materiel that was out forward, was not worth the effort to bring it back. It saved Soldiers lives, it saved money. We reduced it all forward."

Defense Logistics Agency - Disposition Services operated a yard at BAF, where equipment and gear that would not be sent home or could not be sold to the Afghans or others were properly disposed of in theater. In many cases that means a large industrial shredder. In other cases, it meant something was dismantled with a torch by contractors.

"All of the materiel came to our receiving area and they determined the de-mil code of the item, and that determined what happened to that property," said Kathy Wigginton, DLA-DS, BAF. "If it had to be totally destroyed or mutilated, and it's small enough to fit through the shredder, and too small to be cut up with the torch, then it comes here to be destroyed in the shredder."

"We are actually the last stop for all government-owned property. Everything would come here that isn't retrograded back to the U.S.," Wigginton said. "It's our job to make sure the proper disposal is taken for that property, whether it is sold as a usable item, or if it has commercial value. If it is a military offensive or defensive piece of equipment, we totally destroy it so that it can't be used against us."

A big part of the "responsible retrograde" mission in Afghanistan is ensuring that materiel that does not go home cannot be used against U.S. allies in theater.

"Because of what the items are, they have trade-security control regulations, or commerce-control regulations," Wigginton said. "Those items had to be destroyed or mutilated so they could not be used for their intended purposes. We didn't want them to get into the hands of unfriendly nations."

Other equipment, such as gear from Mostarac's retrosort yard, did go home, however, to be reinserted into the Army's inventory for training or the next war, it had to be accounted for and processed.

Unit equipment turned in was received by 401st Army Field Support Brigade for accountability and processing. Deedy Neal served with the 401st AFSB in Afghanistan as a wholesale responsible officer at the Bagram Redistribution Property Accountability Team yard. Neal's work in Afghanistan had her in-processing equipment from unit turn-ins, and accounting for that equipment. The same unit prepares the gear for shipment home to the United States.

"The equipment that was brought in was handled carefully," Neal said. "It was cleaned off, brushed off, blown off, especially with the communications stuff. It was blown off with an air compressor then bubble-wrapped and put in a kicker box. That way it was not knocking together. So nothing got broken going back to the sources of repair."

"The reason it's important for all the equipment to be accounted for is because it saved the taxpayers money," she said. "It put the equipment back into the system so we can have equipment if we need to go to war again. It's important we get the equipment back to the source of repair in a timely manner, so it can be ready for the next situation that occurs."

The equipment going through the yard was cleaned to ensure it passed customs and agricultural inspections when it arrived in port back in the United States.

Sgt. Braden Chalmers, supply sergeant, Delta Company, 1st of the 502nd, 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne Division, had an array of gear to turn in to Neal's Redistribution Property Accountability Team, RPAT yard in August 2014, including electronic countermeasure systems, countermeasure backpacks and mine detection equipment.

He said his unit had closed down Torkham Fire Base, Afghanistan.

"We signed for all the equipment there, packed it up, brought it to Jalalabad Airfield, when we shut down Torkham," he said. "And since the RPAT left JAF, we had to pack it up and bring it here."

Chalmers said he took care of both his own organizational equipment that needed to go back to his unit in the United States, as well as the theater-provided equipment that his unit used while on their deployment.

"To see the property book shrinking as we make trips to BAF -- it feels good," he said. "A lot of hard work has been put in here in this country, and we're finally getting out. And that feels good too."


Combat vehicles, equipment taken from installations that were transferred and theater-provided equipment that units have turned in, all had to get home.

During Phase 1 and Phase 2 of ORT, equipment might have gotten out of theater via ground transportation via the Pakistan Ground Lines of Communication or later the Northern Distribution Network. But toward the end of Phase 2, said Brig. Gen. Duane Gamble, deputy commanding general, 1st TSC, a new way was tried.

Working with U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Central Command, the command did an "accelerated retrograde proof-of-principle," where a "channel flight" was set up between Kuwait and Afghanistan.

The channel flight is a rotation of aircraft would move between Afghanistan and Kuwait, and then equipment could be sorted and cleaned in Kuwait rather than in Afghanistan. Equipment could also be shipped by surface transportation back to the United States from Kuwaiti ports.

"We set up Kuwait as what we call an equipment intermediate staging base, so we could fly it out of Afghanistan and into Kuwait, then hand it off to the other AFSB that we have in Kuwait - the 402nd AFSB -- instead of doing all the processing through the 401st AFSB in Afghanistan; we called it throughput," Gamble said. "We jumped over the 401st and turned it into the 402nd in Kuwait using a channel flight."

"The most reliable line of communication or route from Afghanistan was the ALOC to Kuwait where elements of 402d AFSB helped download, obtain disposition instructions and prepare equipment for onward movement back to the U.S.," said Williams.

During Phase 3 and Phase 4 of ORT, the 402nd AFSB in Kuwait performed "break bulk" operations there on gear that was coming into country from Afghanistan via channel flights, said Lt. Col. Dan Grundvig, brigade operations officer for 401st AFSB, BAF.

In theater, he said, there might not have been enough materiel to fill a box to go to just one place back in the United States.

"They would hold it there till it was full, so that stuff would sit here longer," Grundvig said.

Now, Grundvig said, those same boxes could be filled immediately, with anything that needed to go home, regardless of where the final destination would be.

"This helped us in several areas," Grundvig said. "One, we could do the break bulk - put things in a box and they separate it in Kuwait where they have more time and space and more manpower. And with rolling stock, it didn't have to be customs cleaned like when we sent it to other places. It took about 20 hours to do that. With Kuwait, we could wash it before it goes -- but it got the full customs wash in Kuwait."

"Another method of moving equipment out of Kuwait is via sealift. The 595th Transportation Brigade [Surface Deployment & Distribution Command], stationed in Kuwait assisted in the retrograde effort through scheduling transportation for movement of rolling stock [wheeled vehicles] and non-rolling stock [trailers] for movement by commercial sealift," Williams said.

The new method of transportation, combined with shipment across the Northern Distribution Network, is how the United States got most of the gear out of Afghanistan during the final two phases of the drawdown.

Air Force Maj. Christopher Carmichael, commander of 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron, and his team at BAF, played a huge role in airlifting cargo out of Afghanistan to Kuwait.

He and his team moved more than 84,000 tons of cargo between January and August 2014, as well as 134,000 passengers.

"We were the busiest aerial port in the Department of Defense," he said.

He said while the number of aircraft coming into BAF was based on need, his team could work seven aircraft at a time on the ground - what he called the "maximum on ground," or MOG.

"We could work seven planes simultaneously," he said. "Their ground time is roughly two hours and 15 minutes. Then the next planes come in."

While Carmichael said that was the capacity of the aerial port squadron, he admitted they hadn't seen that kind of throughput.

"That's a surge, a stretch. We had never worked that simultaneously all day, because the demand signal was not that great," he said.

The biggest challenge to moving things, Carmichael said, was the heat. "When it's so hot, the fuel expands and they could not take as much fuel on the aircraft. So because they were not taking as much fuel, they could not take as much cargo," he said.

Still, Carmichael said his team could clear a cache of 325 MRAP all-terrain vehicles in just 72 hours, about 625 tons of cargo a day, and about 1,300 passengers each day.

"Our aerial port squadron played into the ORT mission by getting the majority of equipment and all the military passengers out of theater. Considering we were landlocked here in Afghanistan, the majority of cargo went out by air," Carmichael said.

Lt. Col. Jamey Haukap, support operations mobility branch chief for 3rd ESC, said 2,400 pieces of rolling stock were left in country at the conclusion of ORT, which will play a part in ORS. Eventually, those will be retrograded, and divested, he said.

As ORT and ODB concluded and ORS continues to support the Afghan Army, the 1st TSC and USFOR-A along with its strategic partners continue to support the warfighter providing logistical support through sustenance, descoping of military facilities, and retrograde operations.

"I applaud the efforts of our "team of teams" in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Fort Bragg and around the world. The work and effort put forth by our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, DoD civilians and contractors who operated under the mission command of the 1st TSC is commendable and we could not have done it without their professionalism and dedication," Williams said.

"I also thank our strategic partners the Army Materiel Command, Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Transportation Command, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, USCENTCOM J-4, USCENTCOM Deployment Distribution Operations Center, Army G-4, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology and others. "Our relationship with these strategic partners was the key to success," said Maj. Gen. Darrell Williams, commander, 1st TSC.