Saturday, October 31, 2015

In Syria, Russian media take a page from US playbook -

In Syria, Russian media take a page from US playbook - Fighter jets swoop in to hammer enemy installations, and bomb sight videos record the devastating direct hits. Embedded reporters, in body armor and ballistic helmets, scramble through trenches to reach the front lines. They pan their cameras over positions of Islamic State militants, interview Syrian soldiers and frightened local residents – and often do it all in an intensely personal style.

Welcome to Russia's first-ever living room war. If it sounds familiar, that's probably because Moscow has been paying close attention to the way the US military has dealt with the media, and has picked up a few ideas.

The lessons adopted from American war planners and media outlets have shaped a Russian media that is far more modern - and freer – than during the era of Soviet operations abroad.


But while the new Russian media may have picked up its American peers' polish and sophistication, it is also repeating their mistakes of the Iraq war: uncritically taking the state line and failing to ask enough hard questions about the war's impact and execution.

What's behind US Special Forces in Syria? A new realism -

What's behind US Special Forces in Syria? A new realism - President Obama’s foreign-policy realism is on full display this week on two fronts related to Syria.

First, the United States sat down Friday with Iran at international talks on Syria – despite years of opposing any diplomatic role for Tehran in efforts to end the Syrian civil war.

Second, the White House announced Friday that the US will send just under 50 special operations forces to northern Syria – a move that reverses the president’s pledge from more than a year ago not to put boots on the ground in the fight.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Trump wants to 'fire' F-35

Trump wants to 'fire' F-35: Donald Trump wants to tell the F-35 that it’s fired.

The businessman and Republican presidential candidate questioned the wisdom of purchasing the joint strike fighter during an appearance on a conservative radio talk show Oct. 22.

“When they say that this cannot perform as well as the planes we already have, what are [we] doing, and spending so much more money?” Trump said during an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.

The host asked Trump his thoughts on the fifth generation fighter and the fact that it’s $160 billion over budget. Trump responded that he didn’t like what he had been hearing in security briefings.

“I do hear that it’s not very good,” he said. “I’m hearing that our existing planes are better. And one of the pilots came out of the plane, one of the test pilots, and said this isn’t as good as what we already have.”

ACC intel officer shares new ISR perspective > U.S. Air Force > Article Display

ACC intel officer shares new ISR perspective > U.S. Air Force > Article Display

Air Combat Command’s senior intelligence officer shared her perspective on fusion warfare with the intelligence community, defense industry and media during an Oct. 22 assembly at the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

Maj. Gen. VeraLinn Jamieson explained fusion warfare as “an asymmetric decision advantage, integrating and synchronizing multi-source, multi-domain information in a specific time and space,” ultimately benefiting tactical, operational and strategic leaders.

“The reason we need fusion warfare is to maintain our tactical edge, meaning the outer boundary of warfighting, not just today but specifically in 2035,” Jamieson continued. “By then, our competitors will probably be near-peer technologically, and some will have advanced us.”

Fusion warfare is achieved by combining the observe, orient, decide and act loop across multiple domains. Currently, the Air Force has multiple platforms working to achieve their own objectives -- they’re not necessarily integrated to affect the target or influence strategic decision makers.

“Our current tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) are based off of lessons learned,” Jamieson said. “Fifth-generation technology is going to increase the amount of data available -- it’s going to be and produce a hub of data that’s going to flood us, known as big data. Fusion warfare provides an opportunity for a much faster pace via air, space and cyber multi-domain operations. Current TTPs won’t keep pace by 2035; they’re based on single inputs, not multi-source or multi-domain. This is why we must act now.”

This new idea is an answer to the secretary of the Air Force and chief of staff of the Air Force’s challenge for Airmen to quickly adapt and respond to evolving operations, and is one approach to achieving the Air Force Future Operating Concept for 2030.

The intelligence officer said it’s about integrating and synchronizing multi-source, multi-domain information to know the adversary’s processes better than they know it themselves to make the unpredictable become predictable. She also highlighted that the U.S. military and its allies, the defense industry and academia must be included in fusion warfare conversations to create the TTPs of the future.

“The innovative Airmen teaming with academia and industry in a collaborative, environment, integrating, focusing and fusing data, will result in fusion warfare,” Jamieson said. “At the end of the day, it takes Airmen to deliver that asymmetric decision advantage in advance of real time in a time and place of our choosing. We’re not going to wait until 2035.”

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Army chief: Russia threat demands review of Europe force posture - Europe - Stripes

Army chief: Russia threat demands review of Europe force posture - Europe - Stripes: The U.S. Army is reviewing its force structure in Europe, measuring everything from crisis-response capabilities to its mix of armor and infantrymen, as the service adapts to counter a revanchist Russia, the Army chief of staff said.

Gen. Mark Milley, who was at U.S. Army Europe headquarters in Wiesbaden this week to confer with more than 30 European army generals, signaled that an era of steadily drawing down in Europe should be halted.

“We don’t need Cold War-levels of forward-deployed forces or anything like that,” Milley said in an interview on Tuesday. “But at the same time, you want to make sure you have sufficient capabilities to deter further aggression by Russia.”

The Army review has no set deadline for completion, but recommendations will eventually be submitted to the Pentagon and subject to approval by the White House.

Pentagon Wants Inexpensive, Less Complex Ships - Blog

Pentagon Wants Inexpensive, Less Complex Ships - Blog: The Defense Department is placing more emphasis on affordability over capability when it comes to ship procurement, according to a top acquisition official.

“In the ship community, we’re looking at mass," said Katrina McFarland, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition. “We are looking at numbers, quantities.”

It is counterproductive to build ships with a multitude of “Swiss army knife” capabilities if the cost severely limits the amount of vessels the military can purchase, she said Oct. 27 at a National Defense Industrial Association expeditionary warfare conference in Portsmouth, Virginia.

“If I can only buy and afford one great Swiss army knife … [I can’t put it] in three places at the same time,” she said. “So I have to have scalable capability.”

McFarland’s remarks come at a time when some officials worry that the U.S. Navy is too small, and high-profile shipbuilding programs have run into trouble.

The Pentagon is also concerned about cost ratios when it comes to defeating enemy threats. Electronic warfare, long range air-to-air missiles, counter-space capabilities, undersea warfare and cyber are all areas where potential adversaries are making technological advances, McFarland said.

“We’re looking at how to build low-cost options” as we advance our own capabilities, she said. “I’m trying to put the burden of cost on my adversaries.”

Soldiers assemble newly developed tactical command post

Soldiers assemble newly developed tactical command post: Soldiers from the 7th Mission Support Command at Panzer Kaserne in Germany assembled a newly-developed tactical command tent designed to support them in any environment.

The tent is a star-shaped structure covering 6,000 square feet, capable of expanding quickly and being used as a brigade-sized operations shelter for up to 200 people.

"It's designed to withstand high winds of up to 80 miles per hour and can support snow loads of up to 20 pounds per square foot in temperatures ranging from -40 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit," said contractor om A. Galbicsek, a retired U.S. Army soldier. Galbicsek said.

U.S. Navy plans to launch drone submarine squadron by 2020

U.S. Navy plans to launch drone submarine squadron by 2020: U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced plans to deploy a squadron of underwater drones by 2020.

The squadron will include the Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle, or LDUUV, a 10-foot-long unmanned submarine. The vehicle is still under development, but it is expected to be fitted for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

"These systems are affordable and rapidly deployable worldwide. They've already been operational and served as critical enablers and game-changers for mine-hunting missions, such as those that will be conducted aboard," Mabus said on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, Mabus named retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Frank Kelley to serve as the first deputy assistant Navy secretary for unmanned systems. Kelley will be tasked with creating and implementing a strategy for unmanned technology development.

U.S. demos Standard Missile 3 in Europe

U.S. demos Standard Missile 3 in Europe: The U.S. Navy reports it has performed the first at sea ballistic missile defense firing of a Standard Missile 3 in Europe.

The firing this month took place during three weeks of at sea demonstrations by allied navies at the Maritime Theater Missile Defense Forum in Faslane, Scotland.

The MTMD Forum, started in 1999, is to facilitate and improve interoperability and enhance individual and collective maritime integrated air and missile defense capabilities.

"Our ships and systems performed superbly," said Our ships and systems performed superbly," said Hill. "Our approach to ASD15 was to build a little, test a little and learn a lot... we did just that and we are better individually and collectively for our effort."

During the demonstrations Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and United States conducted surface-to-air missile firing events; France, Norway and Britain performed radar and combat systems development trials.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Riot control mask partially developed by Army researchers

Riot control mask partially developed by Army researchers: A wrap-style respiratory mask for protection against riot control agents has partially been developed by U.S. Army researchers.

The soft material Integrated Respiratory and Eye Protective Scarf mask, developed by three researchers and the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, can be quickly put on without removing any head gear first and is effective against tear gas and 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, also known as CS, for as many as 140 minutes.

It still lacks an effective eye protection component that minimizes fogging for wearers of eyeglasses.

New partnership: Working together means more than just badges | Article | The United States Army

New partnership: Working together means more than just badges | Article | The United States Army

A newly-formalized partnership will help a German Bundeswehr clinic and a U.S. Army Reserve unit learn from each other and work together.

The 361st Civil Affairs, or CA, Brigade signed a partnership agreement Thursday with the Bundeswehr Major Medical Clinic Cologne-Wahn, located south of Cologne. The goal is to help provide unique training opportunities for the benefit of Soldiers from both units.

"This is a really unique, strategic partnership for an American Army Reserve unit and an active-duty German Bundeswehr unit to come together," said Col. Miguel Castellanos, commander of the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade.

Castellanos and Col. Ulrich Schwederski-Menke, the head of the clinic, signed the agreement during a daylong event at the clinic.

During the event, members of the 361st traveled to the clinic and observed a first-aid demonstration, and took a guided tour of the facility, said 1st Lt. Luis Villegas, of the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade.

The 361st and Major Medical Clinic Cologne-Wahn began training together in 2014, said Capt. David J. Esra, commander of the 361st Headquarters, Headquarters Company.

"Many of our Soldiers are Reservists and are deeply involved with the German community," he said. As a result, a Bundeswehr Soldier invited the Americans to a shooting event.

After a few Soldiers took part, Esra inquired about the German badges that U.S. Soldiers can wear, including the German Armed Forces Proficiency Badge, or GAFPB, and the Schutzenschnur.

"Later, Capt. Mirko Klawa, the clinic's chief of staff, contacted me about this opportunity," Esra said. "Not only did our Soldiers want the German badge, but his Soldiers wished to earn the U.S. Army marksmanship badge."

Since then, the units have held several badge events along with other tactical training events, involving fitness, weapons, communications, field medicine, improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and more.

During the training, 32 Bundeswehr service members qualified using American weapons, 52 U.S. Soldiers became GAFPB qualified and 50 service members from both countries cross trained in life-saving procedures.

"We're trying to go beyond that," Villegas said. "By formalizing this partnership, we need to meet two times a year and plan training together."

After the formal signing ceremony Thursday, Villegas was presented with the GAFPB, which he earned earlier this summer. To receive the badge, participants took the German version of the physical fitness test, qualified in a shooting event, completed a road march, finished a swimming test and took part in other events.

"For my unit, I would like to conduct some joint training to work on MEDRETE [medical readiness training exercises] or MEDCAPS (the Medical Civil Action Program), something that CA guys need to know about," Esra said. "The brigade has a lack of medical personnel, so I hope to have the German medical expertise added to the training. They also are getting some real world experience handling refugees, another subject CA guys need to be familiar with."

Esra also would like to invite German medical officers or noncommissioned officers to travel to some of the CA humanitarian and humanitarian project assessment missions.

"This expertise would greatly benefit our capabilities since many of the projects are hospitals and clinics," Esra said.

"The Germans approached us about formalizing the partnership," he said. "They seem to enjoy opportunities to get out of the clinic to go to the field and work on Soldier skills. You know, drive trucks and shoot guns. We like this too."

The bottom line is that working together benefits both organizations, he said.

Army cyber forces take part in second Fort Polk training rotation for tactical pilot | Article | The United States Army

Army cyber forces take part in second Fort Polk training rotation for tactical pilot | Article | The United States Army

Army cyber forces will continue the integration of cyber effects into the Army's tactical units with their participation in an upcoming training rotation for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at the Joint Readiness Training Center, or JRTC, on Fort Polk, Louisiana.

The rotation represents another step forward in a pilot program developed by U.S. Army Cyber Command in response to a call by now-retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno to demonstrate cyber effects at corps and echelons below.

Using organic and expeditionary cyber forces, information operations and other capabilities, commanders employ cyber effects toward accomplishing their mission.

The Cyber Support to Corps and Below, or CSCB, pilot involves the integration of cyber effects via unit training at home station, at the Army's combat training centers, or CTCs, and in support of real-world missions.

For the upcoming JRTC rotation, Soldiers from the Cyber Protection Brigade on Fort Gordon, Georgia, will augment 1-82nd's organic cyber defense force by filling highly-skilled, low-density military occupational specialty positions. This will enable the brigade to defend its systems and networks against the Cyberspace Opposing Force, composed of Soldiers from the 1st Information Operations Command, which is employed by JRTC to challenge the brigade's cybersecurity during force-on-force training.

"The Army recognizes that cyber capabilities should also extend and be executed at the tactical edge to provide our forces a winning advantage across warfighting functions; therefore, the Army is working hard to define cyber requirements, including training requirements, for cyber support to our corps and below formations with pilot programs planned for this year," Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon, commanding general of U.S. Army Cyber Command and Second Army, told the House Armed Services subcommittee in March.

"We continue to expand our professional cyberspace opposing force to more effectively train organizations and individuals on how to better protect and defend themselves against cyber attacks and how to operate in a degraded cyberspace environment during operational training events, such as major exercises and training center rotations," Cardon said.

The upcoming 1-82nd rotation is the second at JRTC that has included CSCB pilot efforts. Earlier this year, the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division completed a rotation for which cyber elements were integrated early into the 3-25th's training cycle; incorporated cyber effects into training scenarios; trained and educated the brigade on threats, tools, tactics and capabilities at home station; integrated cyberspace operations into planning and targeting; provided cyberspace operations personnel to augment the brigade staff; and trained JRTC operations and opposing force personnel.

Maj. Gen. Charlie Flynn, commanding general of 25th Infantry Division, said injecting cyber training into the 3-25th's JRTC rotation "provides us another arrow in our quiver and sets conditions for battlefield success.

"In training, repetition leads to confidence and confidence leads to true mastery," Flynn said. "At the tactical level, we must get more repetitions and develop our confidence in the cyber domain by applying these unique capabilities. The 25th Infantry Division operates in a complex and ever-changing environment across the Pacific. Our potential adversaries may attempt to use social media, hacking, phishing, etc., against our forces or our partners across a range of missions from noncombatant evacuations to decisive action.

"The opportunity for our 3rd Brigade Combat Team to train in the cyber domain at JRTC enabled them to see the enemy, themselves, and the battlefield in ways they hadn't been able to previously," Flynn said. "The ability to understand and collect real-time information through networks and fuse it with intelligence was extraordinary. Tactical success at the brigade level was enabled by cyber capabilities collecting at the right place at the right time - it had noticeable and immediate impacts."

Additional CSCB pilot efforts include further CTC support and incorporation of increased cyber operations into the Network Integration Evaluation and Army Warfighter Assessment programs, a series of Soldier-led evaluations designed to integrate and rapidly progress the Army's tactical communications network.

Pentagon weighs deeper Iraq

Pentagon weighs deeper Iraq: Top leaders at the Pentagon are considering a range of options to bolster the military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including embedding some U.S. troops with Iraqi forces, according to two U.S. officials.

U.S. military commanders have forwarded several options to the Defense Department in the last few weeks, the officials told The Hill, as part of a mounting push within the administration to more aggressively target the terrorist group.

One of the options presented was embedding U.S. troops with Iraqi security forces; they would have the ability to call in airstrikes, a step that would bring American forces to the front line.
But even without a role in direct combat, that option would skirt close to having “boots on the ground” in Iraq — something President Obama has vowed not to do in the military campaign against ISIS.

The White House has repeatedly said U.S. troops would not have a "combat role" or be engaged in "large-scale ground combat" in Iraq.

A second option sent to Pentagon leaders would embed U.S. forces with Iraqis closer to the battlefield, at the level of a brigade or a battalion.

U.S. troops are now embedded with Iraqis at the division level, which keeps them stationed at headquarters.

Some of the options sent to Pentagon leaders would entail high risk for U.S. troops in Iraq and require more personnel, one of the officials said.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford will have an opportunity to discuss the options for the ISIS campaign when they testify Tuesday in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

One of the biggest topics of discussion at the hearing will be the way forward in Syria, where the White House recently suspended a program to train and equip rebel forces after it fell woefully short of expectations.

Delta Force KIA Led Assault Team on ISIS Prison in Iraq, Source Says |

Delta Force KIA Led Assault Team on ISIS Prison in Iraq, Source Says | Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler died leading his Delta Force team on the primary assault into an Islamic State compound in Iraq -- a stark contrast from the Pentagon's account that American commandos were there only to support Kurdish forces during the rescue mission, according to a U.S. military source.

The body of the 39-year-old native of Roland, Oklahoma, was flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday as more details began to emerge of the Oct. 22 night raid on a prison run by militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

Video footage, released by the Kurdistan Regional Government, shows American and Kurdish forces freeing 70 hostages that were held by ISIS militants near the town of Hawija, about 30 miles south of Kurdish-controlled Kirkuk. In a news report, a Pentagon official confirmed its authenticity to CNN.

Wheeler was the first U.S. combat fatality of the campaign against ISIS, but U.S. officials maintain that his death was not the result of a direct combat role.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has said publically that Wheeler was killed when he rushed into a firefight to help Kurdish forces, but he stressed that U.S. forces were there only to advise and assist Kurdish fighters.

In a statement Friday, Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, head of Committed Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said, "U.S. forces are not in Iraq on a combat mission and do not have 'boots on the ground.'"

But the reality on the ground is often quite different than official statements from senior military leaders.

U.S. troops who sought strike thought Taliban had hospital

U.S. troops who sought strike thought Taliban had hospital: The Army Green Berets who requested the Oct. 3 airstrike on the Doctors without Borders trauma center in Afghanistan were aware it was a functioning hospital but believed it was under Taliban control, The Associated Press has learned. The information adds to the evidence the site was familiar to the U.S. and raises questions about whether the attack violated international law.

A day before an American AC130 gunship attacked the hospital, a senior officer in the Green Beret unit wrote in a report that U.S. forces had discussed the hospital with the country director of the medical charity group, presumably in Kabul, according to two people who have seen the document.

The attack left a mounting death toll, now up to 30 people.

Separately, in the days before the attack, "an official in Washington" asked Doctors without Borders "whether our hospital had a large group of Taliban fighters in it," spokesman Tim Shenk said in an email. "We replied that this was not the case. We also stated that we were very clear with both sides to the conflict about the need to respect medical structures."

Taken together, the revelations add to the growing possibility that U.S. forces destroyed what they knew was a functioning hospital, which would be a violation of international law. The Pentagon has said Americans would never have intentionally fired on a medical facility, and it's unclear why the Green Beret unit requested the strike — and how such an attack was approved by the chain of command — on coordinates widely known to have included a hospital.

All Eyes on Long Range Strike Bomber Contract | DoD Buzz

All Eyes on Long Range Strike Bomber Contract | DoD Buzz: Defense contractors and industry observers are eagerly awaiting news from the Pentagon on which company will be selected to develop its future fleet of bombers.

The contract for the U.S. Air Force’s so-called Long Range Strike Bomber, or LRS-B, was initially expected to be announced in the spring but was delayed by several months.

Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy for the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, on Sept. 29 told members of the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee that the award would be issued “within the next couple of months.”

Monday, October 26, 2015

3-star: Army grows Pacific Pathways, ties with Asian armies

3-star: Army grows Pacific Pathways, ties with Asian armies: The Army is mapping out Pacific Pathways exercises for the next two years as the service looks to grow the program to include troops from the reserve component and other services.

“Any time you have something that’s good like this, you want to see how you can enable it,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commanding general of I Corps, said in an interview with Army Times. “One of the great things about how you build readiness is you want to continue to look at how you continue to adjust conditions, how you add complexity to the training.”

Pacific Pathways made its debut in 2014 when more than 800 soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, spent three months in Asia.

The Pathways concept employs a single unit through what officials call a “training pathway.” This unit spends three to four months in a series of already approved, consecutive bilateral and multilateral exercises and engagements with foreign militaries.

LCS To Get Missiles for Next Deployment

LCS To Get Missiles for Next Deployment: The US Navy’s push to increase the lethality of the littoral combat ship (LCS) is getting a major and somewhat unexpected boost with word that an over-the-horizon (OTH) surface-to-surface missile will be installed on-board the next LCSs to deploy.

Rear Adm. Pete Fanta, director of surface warfare at the Pentagon, issued a directive on Sept. 17 calling for the installation of an unspecified OTH missile aboard the Freedom and the Coronado, the next two LCSs scheduled for deployment. The Freedom is to deploy to the Western Pacific during the first quarter of calendar year 2016, while the Coronado is to follow in the second or third quarter.

“The objective is to install the OTH missile system aboard all in-service LCS deploying to forward operating stations starting in fiscal year 2016,” Fanta wrote in the directive, “as well as on all under-construction LCS prior to their commissioning ceremonies.”

Cyber warfare capabilities change modern battlefield | Article | The United States Army

Cyber warfare capabilities change modern battlefield | Article | The United States Army

Five Soldiers camouflaged under thick vegetation crawl on their bellies through the woods, dragging weapons and heavy backpacks with them until they are within sight of a small compound of buildings.

The Soldiers pause near the wood line and begin pulling high-tech computers and surveillance equipment from their bags, which they quickly set up and cover with vegetation to avoid detection. The Soldiers are a mix of infantry, intelligence and offensive cyber specialties coming together for an integrative cyber validation exercise on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, or JBLM, Washington, Oct. 20-21.

The exercise, which brings together Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry, or 2-2 ID, and the 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, or EMIB, out of JBLM, and the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade out of Fort Meade, Maryland, is the first of its kind for 2-2 ID as they prepare to face a new cyber enemy at the National Training Center, or NTC, on Fort Irwin, California, early next year.

Col. William J. Hartman, commander of the 780th Military Intelligence Brigade, is spearheading the cyber training initiative for the Army and providing integrated cyber assets for the brigade as they train this month in preparation for NTC.

"We're here working with 2-2 Stryker Brigade and the 201st EMIB here on a cyber pilot that we've been working on for about a year now," Hartman said. "The goal of the pilot is to analyze how we integrate a cyberspace operational capability at the corps level and below. For this particular iteration, we're focusing on how we integrate a capability with a brigade combat team at the National Training Center."

But the need for integrated cyber capabilities extend far beyond the training environment and into the modern battlefield.

"If we look at what's going on in the world, whether it's what's going on in Southwest Asia with ISIL or what's going on in EUCOM [U.S. European Command] with the crisis in Ukraine, we've seen that our peer competitors or adversaries are very aggressively using cyberspace to support their operations," Hartman said. "As an Army, we have to understand that environment."

The integrated training at JBLM is a major launching point for ground units beginning to integrate cyber capabilities into their training and operations. It's also a way for Soldiers at the most practical level to understand the importance of the cyber domain and how it can augment their missions.

For the training exercise, 1st Lt. Kenneth Medina, a platoon leader in C Company, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2-2 ID (SBCT), is commanding the ground troops whose mission is to isolate and capture a high-value target, a known enemy combatant holed up somewhere in a multi-building compound filled with people. Ordinarily, he would rely on pre-gathered intelligence information, which varies in reliability and accuracy from mission to mission, to locate his target.

However, during this mission, Medina has a new weapon providing him real time intelligence - offensive cyber teams.

"The cyber element was able to provide intelligence to myself on the ground that enhanced [intelligence] information that made the picture of the battlefield much more clear," Medina said. "When you incorporate cyber into that you gain a much higher degree of accuracy on the target and you can paint a much clearer picture of the objective area."

While patrolling through the village, cyber and intelligence teams hidden in the wood line across from the compound and teams within the patrol provide him with up-to-the-minute information, which allows his men to quickly isolate the enemy target and remove him from the village.

"The cyber element was able to monitor some of the digital traffic that was moving through the village and the compound. They were able to relay that information to me via radio, and I was able to take action on that intelligence that they gave me in the village in real time," Medina said.

He emphasizes the importance of this capability in situations, where Soldiers may have a difficult time distinguishing non-combatants from hostile personnel, such as an urban area of Afghanistan, where the Taliban live amongst civilians and don't necessarily carry weapons.

"It definitely increased our accuracy, which is a true challenge on the maneuver side going through such a small village with friendly, enemy and non-combatant forces. So being able to improve our accuracy increased our efficiency," Medina said.

Capt. Larry, Harris, commander of C Company, 4-23 Infantry, 2-2 ID (SBCT), is Medina's commander and shares his enthusiasm for what the cyber teams bring to the fight, but also sees his own Soldiers' importance in integrating the capabilities.

"This is a relationship where we help them help us. We're providing a security platform and mobility for them to use their assets the best they can," Harris said. "For our Soldiers to be able to see these assets and know they're available is a huge win for us."

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pentagon chief expects more anti-IS raids after captives freed

Pentagon chief expects more anti-IS raids after captives freed: US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Friday he expected more raids targeting the Islamic State group similar to the mission that freed dozens of captives but left an American commando dead in Iraq.

Carter's comments came as President Barack Obama tapped veteran Iraq expert Brett McGurk to coordinate the troubled US-led campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State group, replacing General John Allen, who served in the post for a year.

On Thursday, US Special Operations Forces and Kurdish forces stormed an IS-run prison near Hawijah in northern Iraq, freeing some 70 captives who were facing imminent execution.

Of those prisoners, more than 20 were members of the Iraqi security forces. Five IS militants were also captured and several others killed, the Pentagon said.

Ukraine to receive U.S. radars by mid-November

Ukraine to receive U.S. radars by mid-November: The U.S. will supply Ukraine with long-range counter-battery radar stations by mid-November as the country continues to fight Russian-backed militants.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko spoke about the matter in a speech delivered at the Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas, according to Ukrinform.

"I am proud that we are finally beginning to obtain military-technical aid from our partner nations. We have been waiting for it for one year," Poroshenko said. " am proud that after meeting U.S. President Barack Obama the special long range counter-battery stations will be delivered to us by mid-November Those stations located tens of kilometers from the front lines will assist us to clearly identify enemy's battery firing locations and by using unique experience and capabilities of our artillery we will immediately strike back at the enemy."

The conflict in Ukraine has drawn strong reaction from multiple world powers. The United States, Britain and NATO partner countries have pledged political and material support for Ukraine's government as it moves to bolster its relationship with NATO. Russian president Vladimir Putin has been criticized by Western governments for his support for rebels holding several key areas in eastern Ukraine.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A $550 million Air Force bomber so good it will never be used

A $550 million Air Force bomber so good it will never be used: The Defense Department recently announced it will soon pick a contractor to build a new stealth bomber for the Air Force. The potentially $80-billion Long-Range Strike Program is a big deal, particularly for the Air Force. It hasn’t developed a new bomber in more than 30 years. The Pentagon is increasingly worried that its existing fleet of about 160 B-52s, B-1s and B-2s is largely outdated, vulnerable to the newest Chinese- and Russian-made air defenses.

The Air Force wants up to 100 new bombers armed with all the latest weaponry and radar-evading stealth technology — and plenty of fuel. For the new warplanes must be able to fly long distances, penetrate even the heaviest defenses and destroy scores of targets in a single bombing run.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the Pentagon really believes it will be fighting a war against Russia or China. Defense planners instead want the new bombers to reinvigorate a once-key concept that the military has allowed to atrophy: conventional deterrence.

Revamped Army Spy Plane Program To Save Over $200 Million

Revamped Army Spy Plane Program To Save Over $200 Million: The revamping of an Army spy plane program is expected to save the service about $216 million across the fleet compared to the cost of the original plan, according to the product manager for the Army's Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance Systems (EMARSS).

The EMARSS program has been tumultuous, coming close to cancellation when the service announced in 2011 it would build only four aircraft. The program was resurrected when the Army decided to build 24 of the spy planes using Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350ERs.

The Army suffered major delays in building the first four engineering and manufacturing development aircraft and had cost overruns so serious the Army was assessing the possibility of using Air Force Liberty planes to meet its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft needs, a proposed move previously rejected by both the Army and Air Force.

USAF ‘Really, Really Close’ To Bomber Contract Award

USAF ‘Really, Really Close’ To Bomber Contract Award: The US Air Force is “really, really close” to announcing which industry team will build its next-generation bomber, according to top service officials.

"We are not going to announce it today, but we are very close,” Air Force acquisition chief William LaPlante told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

Industry is still holding its breath for the contract announcement, which could come anytime in the next few weeks. The upcoming award pits three giants in the aerospace world against each other: Northrop Grumman, builder of the B-2 stealth bomber, is competing against a joint Boeing-Lockheed Martin team for the project.

Although the Air Force has repeatedly postponed the contract award, LaPlante stressed that the program has not been delayed. Leadership is committed to making sure the source selection process is done right, he said.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Boeing showcases lightest metal ever

Boeing showcases lightest metal ever: Microlattice is 99.99 percent air. But it's not air, it's a metal -- the "lightest metal ever made," according to aerospace giant Boeing. It's so light, it takes several seconds for a sizable chunk of the metal to fall to the ground, floating like a feather.

The metal, first described in 2011 scientific paper, is the product of HRL Laboratories, a collaboration between engineers at Boeing and General Motors, with help from scientists at Caltech and the University of California, Irvine.

Over the last few years, researchers have been tweaking the material to make it as strong and light as possible. But the basic production process remains the same.

The metal is made similar to the way a sculptor casts a metal statue using a mold. A polymer with a hollowed structure is filled with a nickel-phosphorus alloy. The polymer is then stripped away to reveal a honeycomb-like lattice featureing metal links just 100 nanometers thick -- or as Boeing calls it, an "open cellular polymer structure."

Scientists say the lattice structure is inspired by the internal design of human bones.

"Strength and record-breaking lightness make it a potential metal for future airplanes and vehicles," Boeing wrote in a recent press release.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

USAREUR intel chief Potter assesses Russia's military might - Europe - Stripes

USAREUR intel chief Potter assesses Russia's military might - Europe - Stripes: Col. Laura Potter, deputy chief of staff for intelligence for the Army in Europe based in Germany, said she talks to a lot of Americans who, while smart and generally well-informed, don’t really grasp all that’s happening in Russia as President Vladimir Putin grows increasingly bellicose along his borders and in the Middle East.

His military invaded Ukraine last year, he annexed Crimea, he has threatened many of his neighbors and he now appears to be using the civil war in Syria as a proving ground for his modernized military in support of his ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

What is his ultimate goal?

“That’s a good question,” said Col. Potter, 48. “He’s a hard guy to predict.”

She said that while Mr. Putin will not risk a fight with the U.S. or NATO by such bold measures as, say, massing tanks on a NATO country’s border, “there are things he can do to destabilize nations” short of direct confrontation.

And that’s what he has been doing with a continual pattern of saber rattling, from issuing a threat of nuclear retaliation against Sweden if it joins NATO to conducting unannounced combat exercises across the region to test military readiness for his resurgent forces.

“One of his goals is to establish Russia as a global power,” Col. Potter said. “The Russians also see themselves as a regional power in the Middle East. And they clearly see NATO as a threat. We believe he would like to fracture the alliance.”

U.S. and Iraqi Forces Take Offensive Against ISIS on Several Fronts - The New York Times

U.S. and Iraqi Forces Take Offensive Against ISIS on Several Fronts - The New York Times: Struggling to regain the initiative after a long impasse in the battle against Islamic State militants, the Iraqi government and the American-led coalition are for the first time in months putting military pressure on the jihadists on multiple fronts, officials say.

Supported by increased American air power, Iraqi forces are on the outskirts of Ramadi, pressing to encircle the capital of Anbar Province, which the militants took in May, and cut it off from resupply and reinforcements.

To the north of Baghdad, Iraqi military forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are trying to expand their foothold at the Baiji oil refinery after retaking it from the Islamic State on Friday.

And in northeast Syria, the American military last week said it had parachuted 50 tons of ammunition to Syrian Arab fighters. The intent was that those fighters would join a larger body of Kurdish forces in advancing toward Raqqa, the Islamic State’s capital in Syria, and perhaps draw some Islamic State fighters away from Iraq to defend the city.

Monday, October 19, 2015

US Military Intensifies Cooperation With Israel

US Military Intensifies Cooperation With Israel: The US and Israel are marking a jam-packed week of military-to-military cooperation that cuts across all services and command echelons, from America’s top-ranked officer – USMC Gen. Joseph Dunford – to members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), who are winding up a five-month deployment with rest and relaxation here in this Red Sea resort town.

While Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, began meetings in Tel Aviv Sunday with his Israeli counterpart, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, dozens of US Air Force personnel joined the Israel Air Force in launching Blue Flag, a two-week multinational exercise at Israel’s Uvda Air Base in the Arava desert.

Not far away, at one of Israel’s desert training schools, officers from the US Army and four other countries are winding up a one-month course focusing on ground tactics and ethics in urban combat.

The US officers participating in Israel’s first-ever international officers course include a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot, a US Army brigade-level intelligence officer and a graduate of the US Army Ranger school who is going into Special Forces Assessment after the course, US and Israeli officials said.

USAF: Expanded Risk of Neck Damage to F-35 Pilots

USAF: Expanded Risk of Neck Damage to F-35 Pilots: Weeks after Defense News revealed that the military services has restricted lightweight pilots from flying the F-35 joint strike fighter, the US Air Force officially acknowledged an increased risk of neck damage during ejection to middleweight pilots as well.

In a news release issued Oct. 16, the Air Force confirmed a Defense News report that pilots who weigh less than 136 pounds are currently barred from flying the fifth-generation aircraft, expected to be the backbone of American airpower for decades to come. It also acknowledged an "elevated level of risk" for pilots between 136 and 165 pounds.

"While the probability of an ejection in this slow speed regime remains very low, estimated at one in 100,000 flight hours, the risk of a critical injury in that circumstance is currently higher than legacy fighter ejection seats," the service warned.

US Army Plans for More Equipment Caches in Europe

US Army Plans for More Equipment Caches in Europe: US Army is planning to set up more equipment caches — known as activity sets — in Europe as nerves continue to fray over Russia's incursion into Ukraine, putting eastern countries, particularly with ethnic ties to Russia, on alert.

Gen. Dennis Via, the commander of Army Materiel Command, told Defense News in an exclusive interview at the Association of the US Army's annual conference last week, that more caches are needed in Europe.

"There will be more activity sets," Via said. "We are looking at other options, what else we need."

The four-star visited Europe last month and met with both NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove and the commander of US Army Europe Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges "to understand what they determine their future requirements will be for these other activity sets that they want to build."

Despite Cuts, U.S. Army Prepares for Threats in Europe - The New York Times

Despite Cuts, U.S. Army Prepares for Threats in Europe - The New York Times: Less than three years after the United States Army sent home the last of its tanks that were permanently based in Europe, American commanders have been forced to rely on weapons shipped back temporarily or hardware borrowed from allies in the expanding effort to deter the latest threats from Russia with a fraction of the forces it had once deployed across the Continent.

That is part of an evolving mission as American commanders here are preparing, if called, to face off against a new set of threats — not only from an aggressive Moscow, but also from rising militancy and chaos in the Middle East. But with across-the-board spending cuts squeezing the Pentagon’s budget, and a war-weary nation showing little eagerness to sustain a global, war-ready crouch, one of the main targets in recent years has been the Army presence in Europe, a heavy land force in an increasingly digital combat zone.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Firms Show Off Contenders for Army's Ultra-Light Vehicle | DoD Buzz

Firms Show Off Contenders for Army's Ultra-Light Vehicle | DoD Buzz: The U.S. Army will soon have its long-awaited Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, but the Humvee replacement won’t solve the mobility needs of the service’s expeditionary light forces.

This week combat vehicle makers showed off possible solutions to the Army’s latest combat-vehicle need – the Ground Mobility Vehicle program, at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting.

In mid-September, Army officials at the Maneuver Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia emphasized that Army light infantry units need a transportable, ultra-light combat vehicle that can they can take into a forced-entry operation.

Expert: Navy might need two unmanned carrier jets

Expert: Navy might need two unmanned carrier jets: The Navy is still deciding what it needs from its first operational unmanned carrier jet — surveillance or strike weapons, or a mix of each.

The name of the program suggests a hybrid strike-surveillance aircraft, but one expert says they'd be better served with two carrier-launched airframes.

The Unmanned Carrier-Launched Aerial Strike and Surveillance program proposes one jet to do both jobs, but ongoing argument between the Navy and Congress has delayed its request for proposals: Some lawmakers want Naval Air Systems Command to focus on strike capabilities, but the Navy wants to maintain an emphasis on a long-range surveillance platform.

"The problem is, if you try to stuff both missions into one airframe, you end up sacrificing one," former destroyer skipper retired Cmdr. Bryan McGrath told Navy Times. "We need both strike and surveillance, and we probably need them in two separate aircraft."

New Army Strategy Sees Future Combat Vehicles As Highly Mobile, Highly Lethal

New Army Strategy Sees Future Combat Vehicles As Highly Mobile, Highly Lethal: The Army's plan to modernize its combat vehicles fleet in the near-term looks to acquire a new lightweight vehicle for infantry brigade combat teams and increase the lethality of its Strykers, according to the service's brand new combat vehicle modernization strategy.

In the outlying years of the strategy, vehicles will have robust mobile protected firepower capability and formations could see mostly unmanned, autonomous systems carry out security and reconnaissance missions.

The strategy acknowledges there are no "silver bullet technologies," Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the head of the Army's Capabilities Integration Center and chief architect of the service's operating concept, told Defense News in an exclusive interview. "We recognize that there is no single combat vehicle that does everything for you . . . so what we do in the Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy is identify, okay, 'Hey, what are our first principles for combat vehicle development. What do we really want to do through the fielding of combat vehicles?"

The Army's brigade combat teams need to come to the battlefield overmatching the enemy's capabilities, McMaster explained. "We know that in a battle a fair fight means barely winning, and barely winning is ugly and costly."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Carter: Russia Has Created 'New Reality' in Europe

Carter: Russia Has Created 'New Reality' in Europe: Russia's actions in Ukraine have created a "new reality" for the American military and its NATO allies, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the AUSA conference here, Carter pledged to use a "strong and balanced approach" to address Russia's actions, but seemed to acknowledge that the relationship between NATO and the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has irrevocably changed since the invasion of Ukraine last year.

"This is the new reality for us, strategically, and it looks like it's here to stay," Carter said, in a line that was not included in his prepared remarks.

That new reality requires a new "playbook" for Europe, said Carter, with the Army firmly at the center.

"The 20th century playbook was successful in creating a Europe whole, free and at peace, but the same playbook would not be matched to the 21st century," Carter said in his comments. "We must write a new playbook, which includes preparing to counter new challenges like cyber and hybrid warfare, better integrating conventional and nuclear deterrence, as well as adjusting our posture and presence to adapt and respond to new challenges and threats.

"Russia has the opportunity to change course and rejoin the track toward a political transition in Damascus. I don't know if they will," Carter said. "From the Kamchatka Peninsula through South Asia, into the Caucasus and around to the Baltics, Russia has continued to wrap itself in a shroud of isolation. And only the Kremlin can decide to change that."

BAE Debuts ‘See Through’ Armored Vehicle System in US

BAE Debuts ‘See Through’ Armored Vehicle System in US: BAE Systems has brought a capability to the US for the first time that allows soldiers wearing a helmet-mounted monocle to “see through” their armored vehicle.

The company used its advanced jet fighter technology from the Eurofighter Typhoon helmet to develop the BattleView 360 system that consists of a monocle and touch-screen display. The monocle has the ability to see a video feed — both visual and infrared — from the vehicle’s cameras and relevant symbology.

Commanders can quickly assess information and make decisions for targeting or other purposes through the touch-screen display. The commander also can view the display of other crew members, such as the gunner.

The digital mapping system “collates, displays, and tracks the positions of all surrounding features of interest in two- or three-dimensional modes,” according to the company.

F-35's Heavier Helmet Complicates Ejection Risks

F-35's Heavier Helmet Complicates Ejection Risks: In the latest hurdle for the Pentagon's F-35 joint strike fighter, testers this summer discovered an increased risk of neck damage when a lightweight pilot is ejecting from the plane.

The Joint Program Office blamed the phenomenon on the jet's ejection seat, Martin-Baker's US16E. But interviews conducted by Defense News in recent weeks indicate the added weight and bulk of the new F-35 helmet complicates the problem. It is still unclear whether the blame rests squarely with the helmet, or the seat, or somewhere in between.

The JPO is trying to improve safety for lightweight pilots during an ejection by reducing the weight of the new helmet, built by Rockwell Collins and Elbit Systems of America, which is on its third iteration due to repeated technical problems. Rockwell Collins is now on contract to build a Generation III "Light" helmet, David Nieuwsma, company vice president of strategy and business development for government systems, told Defense News on Tuesday.

"The F-35 program is still in its System Development and Demonstration phase and the aircraft's safe escape design continues to develop and improve. All ejections from any fighter aircraft are risky and place extreme amounts of stress upon the body," JPO spokesman Joe DellaVedova told Defense News in a Wednesday email. "The safety of our pilots is paramount and the F-35 Joint Program Office, Lockheed Martin, and Martin-Baker continue to work this issue with the US Services and International partners to reach a solution as quickly as possible."

Firepower Upgrade Planned for GDLS Strykers

Firepower Upgrade Planned for GDLS Strykers: Amid fears that Stryker-equipped US Army units in Europe are outgunned by their Russian counterparts, General Dynamics Land Systems is pressing ahead with fast-track efforts to mount a medium-caliber cannon on a portion of the fleet, company officials said.

Though the Army has announced the upgrade for 81 vehicles in response to requests from the Germany-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment, company officials anticipate the Army will eventually replace the .50-caliber machine guns with a 30mm gun and turret for the entire active fleet, about 1,000 of the eight-by-eight wheeled vehicles.

“What the Army wants is a weapon with a longer range, greater accuracy and more punch than the .50-caliber machine gun, and a 30mm will give you a lot more in all three of those areas,” General Dynamics Land Systems business development manager, Timothy Reese, said.

Russian Military Uses Syria as Proving Ground, and West Takes Notice - The New York Times

Russian Military Uses Syria as Proving Ground, and West Takes Notice - The New York Times: Two weeks of air and missile strikes in Syria have given Western intelligence and military officials a deeper appreciation of the transformation that Russia’s military has undergone under President Vladimir V. Putin, showcasing its ability to conduct operations beyond its borders and providing a public demonstration of new weaponry, tactics and strategy.

The strikes have involved aircraft never before tested in combat, including the Sukhoi Su-34 strike fighter, which NATO calls the Fullback, and a ship-based cruise missile fired more than 900 miles from the Caspian Sea, which, according to some analysts, surpasses the American equivalent in technological capability.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pentagon Won't Waive Russian Rocket Engine Ban for ULA

Pentagon Won't Waive Russian Rocket Engine Ban for ULA: The Pentagon late last week refused to waive a law banning the use of Russian rocket engines for military satellite launches, rejecting a plea from United Launch Alliance (ULA).

ULA, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing that provides spacecraft launch services to the US government, has threatened to skip an upcoming Air Force competition for satellite launches unless it gets some relief from the ban. ULA relies on the Russian RD-180 rocket engine to power its Atlas V rocket, although it also builds a Delta IV rocket powered by US company Aerojet Rocketdyne's RS-68 engine.

Elon Musk's SpaceX is the other potential competitor for the Air Force's GPS III Launch Services solicitation, part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program. SpaceX has invested heavily over the past few years to develop its own Merlin engine to power its Falcon 9 rocket.

Proposals for GPS III Launch Services are due Nov. 16.

Multipurpose Robot Fights Enemies, Transports Loads

Multipurpose Robot Fights Enemies, Transports Loads: The HDT Micro-Utility Vehicle Robot is a remote-controlled, multipurpose tool designed for dismounted troops to clear terrain in nearly any ground environment, and it can do more than that.

The robot, on display in the AUSA exhibit hall, can act as a standoff weapon, a communications hot spot and a pack mule.

Parked a few hundred meters away from troops, its sensors can detect enemy activity, and mounted with a 50-caliber weapon, it can fend off aggressors at a distance from the soldier operating it, said Francis LeGasse, vice president of business development - west for HDT Global.

It is designed for versatility: An NCO on the ground can decide how he wants to use it, or a commander can count on it to carry 500 pounds of gear on the vehicle and another 500 pounds on its trailer.

The robot has a backhoe/loader attachment and can configure based on the unit's needs. Shorter than an average man, the robot can be broken down into man-portable components and quickly reassembled.

The robot is undergoing testing at the Network Integration Evaluation near Fort Bliss, Texas, to get feedback from soldiers on how it can fit their units' needs

Rebels say US-made missiles turning tide against regime

Rebels say US-made missiles turning tide against regime: American-made anti-tank missiles are turning the tide against the Syrian regime and allied forces in a major battle in the country's centre and northwest, rebel groups said Tuesday.

Non-Islamist opposition factions say they are using the US-made TOW missiles to halt a Syrian army advance that is backed by Russian air strikes in the provinces of Hama and Idlib.

The deliveries are distinct from ammunition packages that a US-led coalition airdropped to Arab rebel groups in northeastern Syria late Sunday to bolster the fight against the extremist Islamic State group.

"These rockets have played an important role in stopping the fierce attack by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally," said Asaad Hanna, spokesman for the non-Islamist Division 101.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Vanishing Acts: A Call for Disappearing Delivery Vehicles

Vanishing Acts: A Call for Disappearing Delivery Vehicles: It sounds like an engineering fantasy, or maybe an episode from Mission Impossible: A flock of small, single-use, unpowered delivery vehicles dropped from an aircraft, each of which literally vanishes after landing and delivering food or medical supplies to an isolated village during an epidemic or disaster. And it would be nothing more than a fantasy, were it not that the principle behind disappearing materials has already been proven.

Building on recent innovations in its two-year-old Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program, which has developed self-destructing electronic components, DARPA has launched ICARUS, a program driven by a vision of vanishing air vehicles that can make precise deliveries of critical supplies and then vaporize into thin air.

"Our partners in the VAPR program are developing a lot of structurally sound transient materials whose mechanical properties have exceeded our expectations," said VAPR and ICARUS program manager Troy Olsson.

Among the most eye-widening of these ephemeral materials so far have been small polymer panels that sublimate directly from a solid phase to a gas phase, and electronics-bearing glass strips with high-stress inner anatomies that can be readily triggered to shatter into ultra-fine particles after use. A goal of the VAPR program is electronics made of materials that can be made to vanish if they get left behind after battle, to prevent their retrieval by adversaries.

Outgoing Army Secretary calls for larger U.S. land force

Outgoing Army Secretary calls for larger U.S. land force: Outgoing Army Secretary John McHugh warns that recent situations like the rise of the Islamic State and Russian aggression are reasons to expand the U.S. land force.

McHugh spoke Monday alongside Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley at a media briefing held by the Association of the United States Army. Defense News reports both senior Army officials agreed that while the United States presents a very formidable force for air and sea platforms, long-range attacks alone do not win wars.

"There are a lot of things going on around the world today that present very real threats to the security of the United States," Milley told reporters. "As we look to the future, it is incumbent that we maintain our capability and capacity, and for the Army, that means the total Army."

McHugh agreed, citing the rapid mobilization of the Islamic State, Sunni militants also identified as Daesh and by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL, and the political turmoil in Syria as reasons that having a strong ground force is an invaluable asset for an armed force.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bio-engineering skin to treat severe burns

Bio-engineering skin to treat severe burns: Military researchers are putting the final touches on a study of a "skin substitute" grown from a patient's own cells to treat complex burns and soft tissue injuries.

The new research study underway at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research in San Antonio holds promise for treating burn patients, including those with severe, life-threatening wounds.

The treatment, called "engineered skin substitute," or ESS, combines tissue cultivated from a patient’s skin along with collagen-producing cells to replace the two top components of skin, the epidermis and dermis.

Using the patient’s cells avoids the need for foreign substitutes and lowers the chances of infection, which in turn avoids the need for immunosuppressants and reduces the number of surgeries required.

Lockheed Martin's modular ATHENA laser weapon is headed to production | Fox News

Lockheed Martin's modular ATHENA laser weapon is headed to production | Fox News: The US military already has a few high-powered laser weapons at its disposal, but it's about to get a hell of a lot more. Earlier this week, defense contractor Lockheed Martin began production of its modular, Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) laser system for the US Army -- a weapon that's expected to roll out on the battlefield sometime next year.

If you're not familiar with the ATHENA system, all you really need to know is that Lockheed has been working on it for the past few years, and demonstrated its power a few months ago by disabling a truck with it. This feat was accomplished by firing a sustained 30 kilowatt burst at the vehicle's hood, and burning a hole through the engine block. It's ridiculously powerful -- but power alone isn't its most revolutionary feature.

The thing that makes ATHENA special is the fact that it's built using modular techniques. The weapon combines multiple fiber modules to generate an intense laser beam. According to Lockheed, this layered approach "reduces the chance for mission disruption as a result of a component failure and minimizes the need for frequent maintenance or repair."

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Arctic Militarization 'Moot Point' - NORAD Commander

Arctic Militarization 'Moot Point' - NORAD Commander: US head of Northern Command and Commander of NORAD Admiral William Gortney said that the Arctic has already been militarized by both the United States and Russia as an area of mutual strategic interest.

The Arctic has already been militarized by both the United States and Russia as an area of mutual strategic interest, US head of Northern Command and Commander of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) Admiral William Gortney said.

"I think we already have militarized the Arctic," Gortney stated at the Atlantic Council on Wednesday.

Responding to a question on Russian military activity in the region, Gortney said the issue of militarizing the Arctic "is a moot point."

Gortney, who is also the Department of Defense's chief advocate for the Arctic, noted that both the United States and Russia have ballistic missile submarines already patrolling the Arctic.

It is possible, however, for the Arctic became a "flash point" of conflict, Gortney said.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Lockheed Martin begins manufacturing ATHENA laser weapon

Lockheed Martin begins manufacturing ATHENA laser weapon: Lockheed Martin announced this week that production of its Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) laser weapon system has begun at the company's Bothell, Washington facility. The high-powered laser weapon modules will be used as the heart of a 60-kilowatt system designed to be fitted to a US Army vehicle.

The ATHENA laser can be operated by a single person and is made up of multiple fiber laser modules, which not only allows for greater flexibility, but also lessens the chance of the weapon being knocked out by a minor malfunction, so frequent repairs aren't required. Lockhead Martin also says that the modular design means that the laser power can be varied across an extremely wide range to suit specific mission needs. Using off-the-shelf commercial fiber laser components to keep down costs, the modules can be linked together to produce lasers of up to 120 kW.

ATHENA was tested in March when it took out a pickup truck with a sustained 30 kW burst. Lockheed says that the laser is based on Spectrum Beam Combining, which overcomes the limitations of other lasers by using fiber laser modules where the active gain medium consists of an optical fiber doped with a rare-earth element such as erbium, ytterbium, neodymium, or others. The optical fibers are flexible, so the laser can be thousands of meters long for greater gain, while taking up very little space because it can be coiled like a rope. The large surface-to-volume ratio means that it's easy to cool. In addition, fiber lasers are very durable and project a high-quality beam using 50 percent less electricity than an equivalent solid-state laser.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Russia’s Giving ISIS An Air Force - The Daily Beast

Russia’s Giving ISIS An Air Force - The Daily Beast: Last June, the U.S. embassy in Damascus accused Bashar al-Assad’s air force of clearing a path for an ISIS advance on Syrian rebels in the Aleppo town of Azaz. “Reports indicate that the regime is making air strikes in support of [ISIS’s] advance on Aleppo, aiding extremists against Syrian population,” the embassy account tweeted, following up with a broader accusation: “We have long seen that the regime avoids [ISIS] lines, in complete contradiction to the regime’s claims to be fighting [ISIS].”

Now Russia seems to have inherited Assad’s role as the unacknowledged air force of ISIS.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fighter jets rocketed an ammunition storehouse, destroying artillery, armored personnel carriers and even tanks belonging to Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, or The Mountain Eagles, a U.S.-backed brigade of the Free Syrian Army. A video uploaded by the brigade to YouTube shows the burning wreckage of the Russian airstrike, in Mansoura, in the western suburbs of Aleppo, as the local commander known as Abu Mohammed taunts his enemy: “Thank God, we are all fine,” says Abu Mohammed. “We don’t fear Russia or anyone helping the Russians. Bashar, we will remain resistant fighting you even without any ammunition or bullets. We will fight you with knives. We don’t need ammunition, Allahu Akhbar.”

Sea battle: Big ships vs. big money | Washington Examiner

Sea battle: Big ships vs. big money | Washington Examiner: Naval experts are defending the aircraft carrier as a critical piece of America's national security strategy, amid criticism that the nation's largest warships could be replaced by smaller, cheaper vessels.

Today's threats actually increase the need for the aircraft carriers' unique benefits, which can not be achieved by smaller ships, analysts at the Hudson Institute argued in a report that will be formally unveiled Thursday at an event on Capitol Hill.

"While there are some capabilities that offer portions of the capabilities that the carrier provides, no approach provides them all," the report says.

But some key lawmakers and defense analysts argue that it may be time for the military to consider smaller, less expensive ships to launch jets, especially as the acquisition of the first Gerald R. Ford-class carriers is delayed and runs significantly over budget.

GSSAP reaches initial operational capability

GSSAP reaches initial operational capability: General John E. Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the first two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) spacecraft on Sept. 29, 2015.

This significant achievement is reflective of the outstanding collaboration between numerous organizations, including AFSPC, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) and its Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC Space), the Space and Missile Systems Center, 14th Air Force, the 50th Space Wing (50th SW) and Orbital ATK Corporation.

It is the latest in a series of efforts by the defense and intelligence communities to strengthen Space Situational Awareness (SSA), including establishing a new Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, agreeing to continue working together to increase space collaboration and coordination, and taking other steps to increase resilience.

The declaration of IOC for GSSAP concludes successful testing of the system. It brings on line an SSA capability that will improve our ability to rapidly detect, warn, characterize and attribute disturbances to space systems in the geosynchronous (GEO) environment.

The system reduces the likelihood of space collision, increases safety in this domain and will support USSTRATCOM's Unified Command Plan-assigned mission to plan and conduct SSA.

Networked Tomahawk cruise missile demos re-direct capability -

Networked Tomahawk cruise missile demos re-direct capability - The U.S. Navy's networked Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile has demonstrated new capabilities in a special test conducted with missile-maker Raytheon.

In the test, a missile was launched from the destroyer USS Gridley carrying a camera, and captured battle damage indication imagery and then transmitted the image to fleet headquarters with a two-way UHF SATCOM datalink.

The missile then engaged in a loiter pattern to await further instructions. Strike controllers at the U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain retargeted the missile to a new aim point on a Navy range off the coast of California, which it successfully struck.

U.S. Naval Commander in Europe: NATO Needs to Adapt to Russia's New Way of Hybrid Warfare - USNI News

U.S. Naval Commander in Europe: NATO Needs to Adapt to Russia's New Way of Hybrid Warfare - USNI News: Russia has found ways to slow NATO military responses while simultaneously quickening its own ability to mobilize, the commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa said, and NATO needs to find ways to adapt.

Adm. Mark Ferguson, who also commands the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, said at the Atlantic Council on Tuesday that Russia has not only expanded its presence – in the Atlantic Ocean, the Arctic, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and now in the Mediterranean Sea – but has deployed more sophisticated weaponry and has introduced an element of hybrid warfare that keeps NATO unsure of how to respond.

“The language coming from the Russian military reflects the mindset and actions characteristic of direct challenge and confrontation with NATO. What makes this approach troubling is hybrid warfare coupled with the ever-present threat of the full application of robust conventional and nuclear forces,” Ferguson said.
“Russia has also introduced new capabilities, such as newer and more stealthy nuclear-powered attack and ballistic missile defense submarines. They are also expanding the reach of their conventional submarines with advanced cruise missiles. Just last month the first Caliber [cruise missile]-equipped Kilo-class submarine transited from the North Sea to the Black Sea, the first of six, bringing within its range the eastern half of Europe.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Lockheeed building high-power laser

Lockheeed building high-power laser: A modular, high-power laser is being built for use from a U.S. Army vehicle by Lockheed Martin.

The 60-kilowatt fiber modules system is the first of a new generation of lasers that enters production this month at the company's facility in Washington State.

The system's modular laser design will allow the laser's power to be varied across a wide range -- from 60 kW to 120 kW -- depending on the specific mission and threat, Lockheed Martin said.

"A robust laser system with minimal operational down-time results from the integration of modular fiber-based lasers," said Iain Mckinnie, business development lead for Laser Sensors and Systems, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training. "With modular lasers, the possibility of a complete system failure due to a single-point disruption is dramatically lessened."

Lockheed Martin said its laser combines multiple fiber modules to generate an intense laser beam. The layered approach reduces the chance for mission disruption as a result of a component failure, maintenance or repair time is also reduced.

Lockheed Martin delivers enhanced Patriot interceptor

Lockheed Martin delivers enhanced Patriot interceptor: The U.S. Army has received its first enhanced range and improved mobility Patriot 3 interceptor missiles from Lockheed Martin.

The Patriot Advanced Capability Missile Segment Enhancement, or PAC-3 MSE, interceptors were delivered Oct. 5, the company said, but the number involved was not disclosed.

"We are proud to deliver these interceptors to the U.S. Army and are confident the men and women of the armed forces can count on the PAC-3 MSE when it matters most," said Scott Arnold, vice president of PAC-3 programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

"As enemy threats grow in number and complexity, these interceptors will be critical to protecting soldiers, citizens and infrastructure around the globe."

Tomahawk demos new cruise missile capabilities

Tomahawk demos new cruise missile capabilities: The U.S. Navy's networked Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile has demonstrated new capabilities in a special test conducted with missile-maker Raytheon.

In the test, a missile was launched from the destroyer USS Gridley carrying a camera, and captured battle damage indication imagery and then transmitted the image to fleet headquarters with a two-way UHF SATCOM datalink.

The missile then engaged in a loiter pattern to await further instructions. Strike controllers at the U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain retargeted the missile to a new aim point on a Navy range off the coast of California, which it successfully struck.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Russian Soldiers Join Syria Fight - The New York Times

Russian Soldiers Join Syria Fight - The New York Times: Ratcheting up the confrontation over the Syria war, Russia said Monday that its “volunteer” ground forces would join the fight, and NATO warned the Kremlin after at least one Russian warplane trespassed into Turkey’s airspace.

The saber-rattling on both sides reflected a dangerous new big-power entanglement in the war, as longstanding differences between Russia and the United States over President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his opponents increasingly play out not only in the halls of the United Nations but on the battlefield in Syria.

Russia squared off with Turkey and its NATO allies, calling the air incursion on Saturday an innocent mistake because of foul weather — a claim American officials rejected.

News services said late Monday that a second airspace violation might have been committed on Sunday, but that report could not be immediately confirmed.

Monday, October 5, 2015

15th MEU tests new tablets, communications tools on Ospreys

15th MEU tests new tablets, communications tools on Ospreys: Marines deployed to the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region are the first to field test a new communications suite that gives troops in the back of aircraft unprecedented access to information and communications while in flight.

Members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are now able to send and receive text, photo, audio and video messages on handheld tablets from the back of an MV-22B Osprey or heavy-lift helicopter, said Maj. Chuck Buckley, the MEU’s communications officer. It's made possible by a new roll-on, roll-off communications device called the Digital Interoperability Package, which maintainers can bolt into aircraft to provide Marines in transit with up-to-the-minute intelligence.

The MEU now has six kits installed on two CH-53 Super Stallions and four Ospreys. Each of those aircraft received a simple modification in order to accommodate the pod, which takes a pair of Marines about 15 minutes to set up, Buckley said.

New course helps officers develop mobile-friendly gear

New course helps officers develop mobile-friendly gear: Officers who guide the development of the gear that Marines will carry into future fights recently ran through a challenging obstacle course at Marine Corps Base Quantico in an effort to better understand how battle rattle affects troops' mobility.

Hundreds of infantry Marines have run the course, but Sept. 29 was the first time that requirements officers, who write the documents that shape gear development and procurement, took it on themselves.

The goal: To make sure they understand the load they're asking Marines to carry while deployed, said Lt. Col. Drew McNulty, the maneuver branch head and infantry capabilities integration officer at the Fires and Maneuver Integration Division.

The event, hosted by the Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad — a Quantico-based test bed for improving individual equipment, was intended to prepare the officers for incorporating mobility parameters into all future gear requirements. In other words, when they write up requirements for new gear they want to see developed, they'll include mobility standards the same way they now detail attributes like weight, size and color.

Bernie Sanders sides with Obama and against Clinton on no-fly zone in Syria - The Washington Post

Bernie Sanders sides with Obama and against Clinton on no-fly zone in Syria - The Washington Post: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Saturday that he opposes a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, offering a less hawkish stance on the war-torn region than Hillary Rodham Clinton, his chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, and a position more in line with President Obama.

“We must be very careful about not making a complex and dangerous situation in Syria even worse,” Sanders said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I support President Obama’s efforts to combat ISIS in Syria while at the same time supporting those in that country trying to remove the brutal dictatorship of Bashar Assad.”

But, Sanders added: “I oppose, at this point, a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria, which could get us more deeply involved in that horrible civil war and lead to a never-ending U.S. entanglement in that region.”

McCain Wins Big With Acquisition Reform

McCain Wins Big With Acquisition Reform: With conference finished on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), it appears that sweeping acquisition reforms spearheaded by Sen. John McCain will become the law of the land.

The bill, reported out of a joint committee Sept. 29, gives service chiefs and secretaries overall responsibility for acquisition programs within the services — a shift away from the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L), which has held milestone decision authority over programs for roughly the past 30 years.

"That's designed to establish clear lines of authority and clear accountability so the service chief and service secretary are given greater responsibility in this bill," a Senate Armed Services Committee staff member said during a briefing with reporters a day after the committee report was filed.

Months of negotiations between House and Senate committee conferees sorted through more than 120 acquisition policy provisions to yield a conference report with mostly Senate provisions. The measures are aimed at increasing accountability, streamlining existing rules, and gaining access to different and nontraditional parts of the industrial base.

U.S., NATO Condemn Russia's Violations Of Turkish Airspace

U.S., NATO Condemn Russia's Violations Of Turkish Airspace: T
he United States and its NATO allies have condemned Russia's incursions into Turkey's airspace, saying the violations were both dangerous and irresponsible.

Ankara said Turkish warplanes were scrambled after a Russian warplane violated Turkey's airspace on October 3.

It said Turkish jets patrolling the border were also "harassed" by an unidentified plane on October 4.

The Russian Defense Ministry said one of its warplane briefly entered Turkish air space due to "unfavorable weather conditions."

After an emergency meeting on October 5, NATO said, "Allies strongly protest these violations of Turkish sovereign airspace, and condemn these incursions into and violations of NATO airspace."

"Allies also note the extreme danger of such irresponsible behavior," the statement added.

Obama rejects candidates' ideas for solving crisis in Syria

Obama rejects candidates' ideas for solving crisis in Syria: President Obama is accusing White House hopefuls of concocting "half-baked" ideas for solving the crisis in Syria, appearing to even dismiss his former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's call for a no-fly zone before later clarifying his view of the Democratic front-runner.

The idea of a no-fly zone — a region of Syria that the United States would protect from bombing to create a safe corridor for refugees — has emerged as a favorite option for Democratic and Republican candidates. It's a plan that allows them to stake out a more aggressive military posture than Obama, while stopping short of the kind of large-scale combat troop deployments the U.S. engaged in for years in Iraq and Afghanistan — and of which voters have wearied.

Obama, who opposes such a move, said Friday that he'd like critics of his Syria policies to be asked, "Specifically, precisely, what exactly would you do?" He told a White House news conference, "Typically, what you get is a bunch of mumbo jumbo."

Iraqi Leader Says Would 'Welcome' Russian Air Strikes In Iraq

Iraqi Leader Says Would 'Welcome' Russian Air Strikes In Iraq: I
raq's prime minister says that he would "welcome" air strikes by Russia in his country if Moscow made such a proposal, but that hasn't happened yet.

Haidar al-Abadi told France 24 television in an interview made available October 1: "If we get the offer, we [will] consider it. In actual fact, I would welcome it." Abadi noted that he has been in contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said October 1 that Russia has no plans to extend air strikes to Iraq, but would do so if Iraq invited it.

Abadi said he would be "amazed" if Russian planes now carrying out air strikes in Syria were going after Syrian opposition rebels rather than the Islamic State group.

He said it's in Russia's interest to go after IS because "more than 2,000" IS fighters are Russians, making them a "national threat" that would "cause havoc" were they to return to Russia.

Abadi said Washington and Moscow should stop sparring over Syria and find a way to work together.

U.S. vs. Russia: What a war would look like between the world's most fearsome militaries

U.S. vs. Russia: What a war would look like between the world's most fearsome militaries:

Russia's increasingly aggressive posture has sparked a sweeping review among U.S. defense strategists of America's military policies and contingency plans in the event of a conflict with the former Soviet state. Indeed, the Pentagon's senior leaders are asking questions that have been set aside for more than 20 years:

  • How much are the Russians truly capable of?
  • Where precisely might a conflict with Russia occur?
  • What would a war with Russia look like today?

Make no mistake: Experts agree that the U.S. military's globe-spanning force would clobber the Russian military in any toe-to-toe conventional fight. But modern wars are not toe-to-toe conventional fights; geography, politics and terrain inevitably give one side an advantage.

Today, the U.S. spends nearly 10 times more than Russia on national defense. The U.S. operates 10 aircraft carriers; Russia has just one. And the U.S. military maintains a broad technological edge and a vastly superior ability to project power around the world.

F-22 Raptors deploy to Middle East

F-22 Raptors deploy to Middle East: An undisclosed number of F-22 Raptors of the Hawaii Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force have been deployed to the Middle East for as long as six months.

The Hawaii Air National Guard, or HIANG, said the deployment of most of the fighters and more than 200 personnel from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu took place Sept. 26 but was kept secret for security considerations.

The aircraft and personnel are now in an unidentified location in the region, which is in the area of responsibility of the U.S. Central Command.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Billions From U.S. Fail to Sustain Foreign Forces - The New York Times

Billions From U.S. Fail to Sustain Foreign Forces - The New York Times: With alarming frequency in recent years, thousands of American-trained security forces in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia have collapsed, stalled or defected, calling into question the effectiveness of the tens of billions of dollars spent by the United States on foreign military training programs, as well as a central tenet of the Obama administration’s approach to combating insurgencies.

The setbacks have been most pronounced in three countries that present the administration with some of its biggest challenges. The Pentagon-trained army and police in Iraq’s Anbar Province, the heartland of the Islamic State militant group, have barely engaged its forces, while several thousand American-backed government forces and militiamen in Afghanistan’s Kunduz Province were forced to retreat last week when attacked by several hundred Taliban fighters. And in Syria, a $500 million Defense Department program to train local rebels to fight the Islamic State has produced only a handful of soldiers.

Friday, October 2, 2015

BAE Systems developing new, digital EW system for F-15s

BAE Systems developing new, digital EW system for F-15s: A new, all-digital electronic warfare system for U.S. Air Force F-15s is to be developed by BAE Systems under a contract received from Boeing.

BAE Systems said the system is part of a multi-billion dollar program to develop the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System, or EPAWSS, an integrated system to provide enhanced aircraft protection and improved situational awareness.

"This selection builds on our extensive electronic warfare legacy, a history we were able to leverage to develop an executable, affordable, and low-risk solution for the F-15 fleet," said Brian Walters, vice president and general manager of Electronic Combat Solutions at BAE Systems.

"By upgrading to an enhanced all-digital system, the Air Force, in conjunction with the platform prime (contractor), Boeing, will provide next-generation electronic warfare capability to F-15C and F-15E aircraft to help keep the platform capable and mission-ready against current and future threats."

New carrier Ford adds more crew comforts

New carrier Ford adds more crew comforts: Just when you thought its crew comforts couldn’t get better, the Navy’s new supercarrier added a few new extras.

Life aboard the Gerald R. Ford is the envy of Norfolk’s waterfront. It is not hard to imagine why. The flattop has 6,800 square feet of gym space, wider p-ways, a mess decks design that cuts down line length, fewer racks and private heads in the berthing areas, and more than 1,000 flat screen TVs with 30 high-definition channels (instead of the eight snowy channels common to most ships).

“This is a carrier built around the needs of the people,” said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Launch/Recovery) 1st Class (AW) Jernelle Smith, who has been aboard for one year. “It’s very different from anything I’ve seen.”

Navy Times toured the ship on Sept. 23 to see the crew's progress in moving aboard and finishing spaces. Though still in construction, roughly 1,700 of 2,700 spaces have been turned over. Everything on the main deck and below is owned by the crew. Power cables and ventilation tubes no longer snake through most passageways. Steel bulkheads and decks are now covered with fresh paint and tile — and one berthing area added a unique twist.

US Army tests remote controlled weapon towers

US Army tests remote controlled weapon towers: The tests are part of the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 16.1, which is currently being conducted at an experimental expeditionary base camp at Fort Bliss, Texas. The camp consists of 15 air-conditioned billeting containers – complete with latrines, laundries and shower – that can house ten soldiers each, plus two containers for tactical operations. It's here that 9,000 participants from the US Army and a 14-member coalition made up mainly of NATO nations are evaluating new technologies designed to make forward base operations more efficient in terms of energy, water and manpower.

The Tower Hawk System replaces conventional guard towers with unmanned towers set around the edge of the razor wire. It's shipped in the form of containers and the towers that can be erected in less than an hour by six soldiers with only minimal training. Each tower is equipped with a Browning M-2 50-caliber machine gun and a 338 Lapua sniper rifle, though any other gun system can be swapped in.

Meanwhile, two soldiers in the base tactical operations center sit in front of large screens providing normal, thermal, and infrared vision for watching outside the perimeter. The operators use handheld controllers, at least some of which appear to be commercial video game controllers (that's clearly an Xbox gamepad in the image below) that allow them to raise, lower, and rotate the weapons by 360 degrees, as well as fire them remotely. These are linked to the Joint All Hazard Command Control System software, which can differentiate between friend and foe, and can automatically track identified hostiles.