Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chinks in special ops' armor pose challenges | Article | The United States Army

Chinks in special ops' armor pose challenges | Article | The United States Army

Terrorists are using social media to plan events, recruit, share information, propaganda, and so on. "We can detect [their activities] pretty well, but I'm not sure we know what to do about it," said a terrorism expert.

Countering terrorists' leveraging of social media is going to be a challenge, said Robert Newberry, director of the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office. "We're studying it to death, but I'm not sure coming up with any grand solutions."

Newberry and other experts spoke at a National Defense Industrial Association panel, "Special Operations Forces Technology Policy & Requirements," held at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park, Jan. 28.

He and the other panelists said these growing concerns are challenges not just to the special operations community, but also for the Army and other government organizations tasked with national security.

Klon Kitchen, special advisor for cyberterrorism and social media at the National Counterterrorism Center, said he sees "the rapid and seemingly unending advancement of technology" and social media as being one of the biggest threats.

The proliferation of social media and technology will impact "every future special operations mission," he said, "whether it be direct action, combating terrorism, information operations, civil affairs or any other SOF [Special Operations Forces] mission. The threat would come from terrorists exploiting social media for their own nefarious causes."


"Our SOF forces … will be confronted by an almost unimaginable deluge of data and an unprecedented technological capability," Kitchen added.

He cited figures. There are 1.8 billion active social network users globally, he said. Every minute of every day, these users produce 200 million emails, 72 hours of new YouTube video, 571 new websites, 3,600 new photos, 100,000 tweets, 34,722 Facebook likes and 2 million Google searches.

"We created 1.8 zettabytes, which is 1.8 trillion gigabytes of newly-generated information in 2011," he said. "In 2012 that figure was 2.8 zettabytes. By 2020, it's forecast to be 40 zettabytes in a 12-month period. This is just the beginning of the data deluge."

Newberry said that about half of those 200 million emails were probably sent by government workers, as the rest of the world tweets and uses text messaging. He confessed to using a yellow legal notepad most of his career and recalls getting his first electronic device -- a pager -- in the 1990s.

Social media can also be used to a special operator's advantage, Newberry said. For example, one can assess the operating environment in a particular region or area by collecting social media from those locations. "There's big value in this," he said.

The problem is, there's so much information out there that methods have not been codified on how to collect it, sort through and use it. Also, the authorities and organizational structures are not yet in place to do that, he said.


Matthew Freedman, senior advisor at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said social media is just one of many new threats and opportunities out there.

The "digital exhaust" trail left behind by terrorists will allow special operators to better track them, whether it's cloud computer, microblogging, crowd sourcing or social media.

"Futurists say that 90 percent of what will be known in 50 years has yet to be discovered," he said. For instance, the military is just now beginning to realize the power and potential of augmented reality -- having a real-world direct or indirect view of the environment, augmented by computer-generated sensory inputs.

Augmented reality is "blurring the lines between the physical and virtual worlds," he said, adding that non-state actors are increasingly getting their hands on similar technologies.

To stay ahead of the bad guys in innovation means the U.S. military "needs to rethink its acquisition strategy from requirement of things to an acquisition of capabilities."

During the Cold War, the United States had a good lead on new technologies most of the time, Freedman said. But now, technology is moving so quickly and systems are being integrated in ways unimaginable a short time ago. "Sometimes allocating resources means retrofitting existing systems at much lower costs instead of building new systems," he said.

Hard questions need to be asked, he added, such as, "is centralizing all the money a good thing for the warfighters? Sometimes we need to get software developments to the warfighters within 90 days." The system isn't built to handle that.

Might warfighters be allowed to purchase a piece of needed gear off the shelf when the need arises? he asked.


Anthony Davis, director, Science & Technology, U.S. Special Operations Command, pointed to the challenges in protecting the warfighters and making them more lethal.

The two-year research and development of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, also known as TALOS, is a good example, he said. There were and still are a lot of TALOS skeptics, he said, who say "Iron Man" is too far ahead of its time. Iron Man is the popular moniker of TALOS, a modern-day suit of armor for Soldiers.

But work is quietly continuing, he said. The first year of TALOS development revolved around passive exoskeleton technologies. "This year, we're moving into powered exoskeletons," which require 3 to 5 kilowatts of power, per Soldier to activate. This is all still in development.

There's a cost-benefit tradeoff involving armor, Davis said. Current requirements call for about 20 percent body protection, including the head. That's 8 to 12 pounds. To protect the whole body, much like the medieval knights, would take 600 pounds of armor, which obviously isn't going to happen until material and power innovations occur -- "significant challenges."

Other hot research areas, Davis said, are control actuators, digital optics and geographically distributed systems. Geographically distributed systems would allow an operator in the middle of the Pacific or Africa to communicate and have situational awareness the same as in Iraq or Afghanistan, which have infrastructures to do that in place.

Special operations are occurring in 75 countries every day. Just a handful are "kinetic" operations, he said. Most involve training, humanitarian assistance and security missions with just a handful of operators working autonomously. They need state-of-the-art communications equipment and other gear to do that successfully.

Navy Capt. Todd Huntley, head, National Security Law Department, International and Operational Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, said operators face a difficult legal environment here and worldwide.

The Supreme Court and district courts have not been definitive when it comes to 4th Amendment privacy concerns and national security concerns, he said. There are still a lot of gray areas when it comes to collecting intelligence on U.S. and foreign nationals. "We'll likely never be as nimble as our adversaries."

India, US Advance Strategic Relations

India, US Advance Strategic Relations: India and the US will initiate co-production of low-end weapons in India as the two countries renewed their 10-year Defense Framework Agreement during a visit here by US President Barack Obama Sunday through Tuesday.

The agreement, which defines steps to be taken in the next 10 years to bolster their bilateral defense partnership, incorporates for the first time a provision to co-produce weapons in India, along with transfer of technology through the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI).

Analysts and serving military officers, however, said it is too early to expect co-development and co-production of advanced weapons systems, and the two countries will need to begin with low-end projects to become familiar with how the DTTI will work as bureaucratic hurdles can impede execution of such projects.

At first, the two countries will co-produce such low-end weapons as the Raven UAV, and reconnaissance modules for the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft bought in 2008, said an Indian Defence Ministry source. More products under DTTI will be identified during next month's visit by Frank Kendall, US undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Obama was the first US president to be the guest at the Jan. 26 Republic Day parade. His visit received substantial attention by the media, with analysts describing it as a watershed event and the beginning of a new era in Indo-US strategic relations under the Narendra Modi government.

Analysts and serving officers, however, are divided about whether stronger Indo-US strategic and defense ties would loosen those bonds between India and Russia.

New Budget Will Feature 6th Gen Fighter

New Budget Will Feature 6th Gen Fighter: The fiscal 2016 future years defense program (FYDP) slated to be released on Feb. 2 "reverses the decline in defense spending over the past five years and works to address the under-investment in new weapons by making targeted investments in those areas we deem to be the highest priority," Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said.

Earlier in the day, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall told a Senate panel that there is money in the next budget for the Air Force to begin work on its 6th generation fighter

"It will be a program that will be initially led by DARPA," Kendall said, "but it will involve the Navy and the Air Force as well. And the intent is to develop prototypes for the next generation of air dominance platforms, X-Plane programs, if you will."

The Pentagon's new fiscal cliff - Jeremy Herb - POLITICO

The Pentagon's new fiscal cliff - Jeremy Herb - POLITICO: President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans say they want to boost Pentagon spending by tens of billions of dollars next year — but that’s just budget theater.

The administration and the new Republican-controlled Congress are creating another budgetary cliff on defense spending, forcing the military to face across-the-board cuts if Pentagon spending busts the caps that are already law.

The sequestration cap for Pentagon spending is about $499 billion, but the Obama administration is set to propose a $534 billion base defense budget, according to budget documents. And many analysts expect congressional Republicans propose a similar, if not higher, topline.

Read more:

U.S. Suddenly Goes Quiet on Effort to Bolster Afghan Forces -

U.S. Suddenly Goes Quiet on Effort to Bolster Afghan Forces - The United States has spent about $65 billion to build Afghanistan’s army and police forces, and until this month the American-led coalition regularly shared details on how the money was being put to use and on the Afghan forces’ progress.

But as of this month, ask a question as seemingly straightforward as the number of Afghan soldiers and police officers in uniform, and the military coalition offers a singularly unrevealing answer: The information is now considered classified.

The American outlay for weapons and gear for Afghan forces? Classified. The cost of teaching Afghan soldiers to read and write? Even that is now a secret.

The military command’s explanation for making the change is that such information could endanger American and Afghan lives, even though the data had been released every quarter over the past six years, and Afghan officials do not consider the information secret.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

DoD Official: Government Has Lost its Technological Edge Over Opponents - Blog

DoD Official: Government Has Lost its Technological Edge Over Opponents - Blog: A senior Defense Department official said the government has lost its technological edge and now must rely on industry to overmatch adversaries in the battlefields of the future.

"Many of our adversaries have acquired, developed and even stolen technologies that have put them on somewhat equal footing with the West in a range of areas," said Michael Dumont, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low intensity conflict at the National Defense Industrial Association SO/LIC conference in Washington, D.C.

Examples of this can be found in advanced hacking technologies and weapons used for anti-access/area denial scenarios, he said. Both pose threats to weapons systems and war fighters, he added.

"Collectively ... we need to get out ahead of this and stay in front of it," he said. In that regard, there must be a better way for government to acquire technology and put it in the hands of special operators more quickly, he said. The military must do better to anticipate future needs and "make investments that take us beyond the reach of our headlights."

That expertise no longer lies in the U.S. government, he said. "Recognizing this future direction, requires understanding the current reality: the U.S. government no longer has the leading edge developing its own leading edge capabilities, particularly in information technology."

Pakistan opposes new India-US nuclear deal

Pakistan opposes new India-US nuclear deal

Pakistan Tuesday said it opposed a new nuclear deal signed between the US and India during a recent trip to New Delhi by President Barak Obama, saying it was detrimental to stability in South Asia.

The US and India reached an agreement Sunday during Obama's visit to New Delhi, breaking the deadlock that has stalled a civilian nuclear power agreement for years.The US and India in 2008 signed a landmark deal giving India access to civilian nuclear technology, but it had been held up since by US concerns over India's strict laws on liability in the event of a nuclear accident."The operationalisation of Indo-US nuclear deal for political and economic expediencies would have a detrimental impact on deterrence stability in South Asia," advisor to Prime Minister on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz said in a statement Tuesday.Aziz described the new deal with India as "another country-specific exemption from Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) rules" that would undermine the credibility of the watchdog, weaken the non-proliferation regime and "further compound the already fragile strategic stability environment in South Asia".

Monday, January 26, 2015

Spain negotiates permanent US Marines Africa force

Spain negotiates permanent US Marines Africa force: Spain said Friday it was starting negotiations with Washington to host a permanent US Marines intervention force for deployment on missions to Africa.

The Spanish government said it was ready to permanently extend an agreement under which the force has been based at Moron de la Frontera, near Seville in southern Spain.

The government approved negotiations to amend the two countries' 1988 defence accord, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said after a cabinet meeting.

Spain's foreign and defence ministers will negotiate the amendment, as requested by the United States last month, "with a view to hosting the deployment for an indefinite time", she told a news conference.

The US force was first stationed at Moron in April 2013 in the wake of a deadly attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya the previous year. Its temporary status was renewed last year.

Its duties in Africa include protecting embassies, rescuing military personnel and evacuating civilians or intervening in conflicts and humanitarian crises.

The force is made up of 800 Marines plus air support, including MV-22 Osprey vertical take-off transport planes.

Establishing the CODE for Unmanned Aircraft to Fly as Collaborative Teams

Establishing the CODE for Unmanned Aircraft to Fly as Collaborative Teams: The U.S. military's investments in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have proven invaluable for missions from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to tactical strike. Most of the current systems, however, require constant control by a dedicated pilot and sensor operator as well as a large number of analysts, all via telemetry.

These requirements severely limit the scalability and cost-effectiveness of UAS operations and pose operational challenges in dynamic, long-distance engagements with highly mobile targets in contested electromagnetic environments.

DARPA's Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program aims to overcome these challenges by developing algorithms and software that would extend the mission capabilities of existing unmanned aircraft well beyond the current state-of-the-art, with the goal of improving U.S. forces' ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace.

CODE researchers seek to create a modular software architecture that is resilient to bandwidth limitations and communications disruptions, yet compatible with existing standards and capable of affordable retrofit into existing platforms.

Army looking to store tanks, equipment in eastern Europe - News - Stripes

Army looking to store tanks, equipment in eastern Europe - News - Stripes: U.S. Army Europe will soon dispatch a survey team to eastern Europe to scout locations for tanks and other military hardware as part of a broader effort to bolster the U.S. military presence in a region rattled by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, the Army’s top commander in Europe said Friday.

“We are doing surveys here in the next few weeks up in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria to see if there is a place where perhaps some of that equipment could be stored there,” USAREUR chief Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said during an interview with Stars and Stripes. “Maybe it’s a company, maybe it’s a whole battalion, we don’t know yet until we do the survey.”

In 2015, the Army expects to rotate a full-sized, U.S.-based heavy brigade of some 3,000 troops and additional tanks and other armored vehicles through Europe in connection with the service’s Regionally Aligned Force initiative. Last year, the program kicked off on a smaller scale, bringing combat tanks back into Europe after a brief absence following the elimination of two Germany-based heavy brigades in 2013. Now, the regional concept is picking up steam, with plans for 220 armored vehicles in Europe.

New US Concept Melds Air, Sea and Land

New US Concept Melds Air, Sea and Land: The Pentagon's five-year-old Air-Sea Battle concept is undergoing a major rethink as it opens its focus to incorporate input from the land services and combatant commanders, senior Joint Staff and Navy planners told Defense News on Jan. 22.

The effort to expand the predominantly Navy and Air Force-heavy concept kicked off last fall when the Joint Chiefs made a recommendation to Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey to open it wider to the other services.

Dubbed the Joint Concept for Access and Maneuver in the Global Commons (JAM-GC), the emerging plan "is not trying to replace Air-Sea Battle with Joint Access and Maneuver, and it's not 'throw the Air-Sea Battle concept out and start all over again,' " said Navy Capt. Terry Morris, deputy director for Air-Sea Battle in the Pentagon. "It is an understanding of the environment, and the advances we have made since 2009 when we first started with this."

As part of the change, JAM-GC will be supported by the Joint Staff's Joint Force Development Office, or J7, and is expected to produce a concept paper by this fall.

The original concept for Air-Sea Battle "was focused on a smaller set of the operational access problem" than previous concept and strategic documents had, said Ric Schulz, division chief of joint concept development at the J7 office.

But the move "has opened it up and made it a little easier to create some of the change that the service chiefs" were asking for.

The US Military Is Building Gangs of Autonomous Flying War Bots - Defense One

The US Military Is Building Gangs of Autonomous Flying War Bots - Defense One: For the Pentagon, drones are cheaper to buy and to operate than regular fighter jets. An armed MQ-9 Reaper drone runs about $14 million, compared to $180 million or more for an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But unlike barrel-rolling a jet, the business of actually operating a unmanned aerial vehicle, UAV, for the military is lonely, thankless, and incredibly difficult. It’s no wonder the Pentagon doesn’t have enough drone pilots to meet its needs, a problem certain to persist as the military increases its reliance on unmanned systems, especially in areas where it has no interest in putting boots on the ground, like Pakistan or Iraq. The solution that the military is exploring: increasing the level of autonomy in UAVs to allow one pilot to manage several drones at once.

Pentagon agency wants drones to hunt in packs, like wolves - The Washington Post

Pentagon agency wants drones to hunt in packs, like wolves - The Washington Post: The U.S. military is preparing for a series of meetings that could shake up how the Pentagon flies its fleet of drone aircraft and move them toward hunting together in packs.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will host the gatherings in March for its Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program, it said this week. The major emphasis: Figuring out a way to move free of having a pilot operate only one drone with assistance from a sensor operator and a team of intelligence analysts through satellite links.

“Just as wolves hunt in coordinated packs with minimal communication, multiple CODE-enabled unmanned aircraft would collaborate to find, track, identify and engage targets, all under the command of a single human mission supervisor,” said Jean-Charles Ledé, the program’s manager, in a statement.

DARPA officials said the CODE program would use a combination of software and algorithms to “extend the mission capabilities of existing unmanned aircraft well beyond the current state-of-the-art.” It also would allow drones to operate in areas in which electronic warfare might be used against them or they might be shot down, officials said.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

US Nukes Cost $348B Over Next Decade

US Nukes Cost $348B Over Next Decade: The US government will spend an estimated $348 billion over the next decade to maintain, upgrade and operate its nuclear arsenal, according to a new estimate by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

That figure is slightly down from a Dec. 2013 estimate of $355 billion, but still represents an average price tag of $35 billion a year — major costs in an era when the Pentagon is focused on finding savings.

The Pentagon's share of the $348 billion total is estimated at $227 billion, or about $6 billion more than the 10-year estimate published in 2013. The Department of Energy's total has shrunk by $13 billion in the newer estimate, down to $121 billion.

The drop in overall cost is due in part to "budget-driven delays in several programs, including a three-year delay for the new cruise missile and its nuclear warhead and longer delays in some programs for extending the useful lives of nuclear warheads," the CBO wrote in its report, released Thursday.

Philippines: US Lifts Restrictions On Military Aid

Philippines: US Lifts Restrictions On Military Aid: The United States has lifted restrictions on a small portion of its military assistance to the Philippines that was withheld over human rights concerns, the foreign minister said Thursday.

The gesture affects about $15 million dollars that have been withheld over the last five years, a fraction of Washington's total military assistance to the South East Asian island.

Albert del Rosario told reporters that the aid restriction had been lifted "sometime last year," but did not explain why it had been lifted.

A day earlier, US Assistant Defense Secretary David Shear said that Washington had provided $300 million in military-related assistance since 2001 and would provide another $40 million in 2015 as part of America's support to modernize the poorly-equipped Philippine military, which is one of the weakest in the region.

Philippine-US defense relations have been complicated by leftist and nationalist groups who oppose the longstanding alliance and who have protested against any US military presence or assistance to the Southeast Asian nation.

Previously, human rights groups have successfully lobbied US legislators to cut military aid over the Philippine military's alleged failure to improve its human rights record.

I Corps commander on Pacific strategy: 'Army is not trying to be Marine Corps' - Pacific - Stripes

I Corps commander on Pacific strategy: 'Army is not trying to be Marine Corps' - Pacific - Stripes: The Pacific rebalance requires all the military services and their capabilities, and the Army has increased its presence in the Pacific “exponentially” in the past year, the commander of I Corps told reporters Friday.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord-based I Corps, said the unit is spread throughout the Pacific and is “truly part of the rebalance” and the whole-of-government strategy.

“The Army is not trying to be the Marine Corps,” Lanza said during a media roundtable in Washington, D.C., in response to questions about the similarity of the “Pacific Pathways” deployment program to Marine Corps deployments and operations.

“When you have a holistic strategy in the Pacific, you need all enabling capabilities. And, really, you have to come at rebalance from a joint perspective.”

The demands in the Pacific exceed any one service’s abilities, Lanza said, and the Army can bring unique capabilities to the region, including engineer brigades, civil affairs, medical brigades and aviation.

DARPA project to develop UAV teaming system

DARPA project to develop UAV teaming system: Unmanned aerial vehicles, as important as they are in ISR and other applications, have some weaknesses. One of the big ones is the need for a pilot to control each UAV. According to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, most UAV systems also require a dedicated sensor operator and a team of analysts.

DARPA's Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) program is an attempt to change that. The program, which will begin with meetings in March, is an attempt to develop a system that would let a single pilot control a team of unmanned craft.

Resource: Project CODE Special Notice

"Just as wolves hunt in coordinated packs with minimal communication, multiple CODE-enabled unmanned aircraft would collaborate to find, track, identify and engage targets, all under the command of a single human mission supervisor," said Jean-Charles Ledé, DARPA program manager. "Further, CODE aims to decrease the reliance of these systems on high-bandwidth communication and deep crew bench while expanding the potential spectrum of missions through combinations of assets—all at lower overall costs of operation. These capabilities would greatly enhance survivability and effectiveness of existing air platforms in denied environments."

As he exits, Hagel warns of limits to military power - News - Stripes

As he exits, Hagel warns of limits to military power - News - Stripes: As he prepares to hand over the reins of the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is warning that military power has its limits and Americans should avoid believing that force alone can transform conflict-riven societies in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“It is easy to drift into other missions, and I do believe that you always have to ask the tough questions, [such as] what happens next? Where do you want this to end up,” Hagel said in an interview with Stars and Stripes and Military Times. “Any secretary of defense has to always be on guard that we don’t inadvertently sometimes drift into a more accelerated use than we thought of what our military was going to be [doing] … I think the two long wars that we were in the last 13 years is pretty clear evidence of … how things can get out of control, and drift and wander.”

Hagel’s warning came as the U.S. military has returned to Iraq -- this time to help the Iraqi government defeat the Islamic State which has seized about a third of Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Central Command is conducting an air campaign against the militants, and about 1,550 U.S. troops have been sent to Iraq to train and advise government and Kurdish peshmerga forces. Another 800 troops are providing force protection.

Chief: Sequestration could create 'hollow Army'

Chief: Sequestration could create 'hollow Army': The Army is in danger of becoming a "hollow Army" if sequestration returns in 2016, the service's top officer said Thursday.

"If sequestration occurs, for the next three to four to five years, we're moving towards a hollow Army," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said. "What does a hollow Army mean? My definition of a hollow Army is one that we don't properly train our soldiers. They aren't able to do the exercises that they need. They're not able to have the ammunition necessary. They don't have the equipment they need. They're not able to sustain their equipment to the levels that are necessary for them to respond, no notice, to an unknown threat in potentially five different places around the world."

Odierno, who spoke at the Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare breakfast, said the Army has already reduced its modernization funding by almost 50 percent, and those cuts will only get worse if sequestration returns.

"So now we're not investing in training, we're not investing in equipment, and this falls on the shoulders of our soldiers," he said. "The ones who will pay the price are the men and women who show up, because they will go no matter what. It's up to us to make sure they have what they need."

Army leaders now hope to slow the drawdown

Army leaders now hope to slow the drawdown: The Army is considering taking measures to slow the drawdown, though the service still plans to eventually reach an end-strength of 450,000 active-duty troops.

Army Secretary John McHugh, in a Wednesday interview with Army Times, said he hopes to "retain some faces in our structure to fill out units that are undermanned."

The Army is on pace to hit 490,000 active-duty soldiers by the end of fiscal year 2015. It also is slated to cut about 20,000 soldiers every year to reach 450,000 by the end of fiscal 2017.

However, senior Army leaders are discussing extending that timeline an additional year — that is if sequestration can be avoided in 2016.

"Assuming budget relief occurs, the Army could retain some flexibility as it downsizes and slow the ramp to reach 440-450 thousand in FY18," said Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, public affairs officer to the Army Secretary. " In any event, the end-state of 440-450 remains fixed as long as sequestration is averted. Congress would have to grant us this authority in the budget."

McHugh told Army Times that adjusting the "ramp" of the drawdown "provides us a little bit of relief, basically for readiness purposes."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pentagon Bids Adieu to Air-Sea Battle Name | DoD Buzz

Pentagon Bids Adieu to Air-Sea Battle Name | DoD Buzz: The Pentagon has chosen to close the Air-Sea Battle Office and fold their work into a new section of the Joint Staff, according to a memorandum issued on Jan. 8 that was published by the U.S. Naval Institute.

Air-Sea Battle was a concept introduced by the Air Force and Navy in 2009 that was stood up to devise strategies for the military services to work together to defeat advanced militaries like China. The concept was designed to help U.S. forces gain access to contested areas and project power.

Air Force and Navy leaders said the new concept is needed in order to deal with advanced worldwide threats. Advances in ballistic missiles, jamming equipment and anti-aircraft weaponry had forced service leaders to review strategies going forward.

Pentagon testers: JLTV hinders marine amphibious assault operations - IHS Jane's 360

Pentagon testers: JLTV hinders marine amphibious assault operations - IHS Jane's 360: Pentagon testers have found that Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) prototypes are slow to deploy from ship to shore and, therefore, leaves US Marine Corps (USMC) units "vulnerable to threats".

The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation annual report on the previous year's testing, released on 20 January, found that during developmental test/operational test (DT/OT) events, USMC units with JLTVs were able to execute amphibious assault missions, but were hampered by the new trucks' lack of deployability.

"The JLTVs have large visual signature and their slow manoeuvre time from ship to shore prevents a Marine Expeditionary Unit from executing assault missions with tactical surprise, increases the time to close combat power ashore, and renders the unit vulnerable to threats," the report said.

"Testing showed that JLTVs are slower to load, prepare for fording, and transition to manoeuvre ashore than HMMWV [Humvees]" that they are meant to replace, the document said. Testers explained that the issues were caused by the JLTV's overall larger size (vehicle suspensions are dropped so they can better fit in amphibious ships) and "delays that occur while awaiting suspension mode, and other vehicle adjustments" such as adjusting tyre pressure.

A spokesman for the Army Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support declined to comment on whether the office has developed a plan to address deficiencies outlined in the report.

Northrop Developing 6th Gen Fighter Plans

Northrop Developing 6th Gen Fighter Plans: Northrop Grumman has stood up a pair of teams dedicated to developing a "sixth-generation" fighter for both the Navy and Air Force, years before the US Navy or Air Force intends to issue requests for information on potential replacements for current aircraft.

It's an aggressive move that Tom Vice, president of Northrop's aerospace division, hopes will pay off in a big way for his company.

"Northrop Grumman will compete for the next generation fighter," Vice flatly declared, noting that there is a program manager already leading a team of Northrop staffers on the program.

When asked whether he envisioned Northrop acting as a prime contractor on a future fighter, he added "of course."

Vice's comments were made during a trip to Northrop facilities in California, arranged and paid for by the company.

Both the Air Force and Navy have begun preliminary planning for what is referred to as next-generation air dominance, or "sixth-generation" fighters. After working together on the F-35 joint strike fighter, the two services are looking at procuring their own respective jets.

Party Lines Are Blurring in Congress Over Iran -

Party Lines Are Blurring in Congress Over Iran -

Last year, members of the House voted with their party 93 percent of the time, and senators toed the party line an average of 91 percent of the time. But some are splitting from their parties on Iran: Top Democrats are turning on the president, while some Republicans are siding with the administration's warnings against new sanctions.

The leader of the Democratic pushback against President Obama over Iran is Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Robert Menendez of New Jersey. He and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk cosponsored a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran if talks over the country's nuclear program collapse. On Tuesday, in his State of the Union address, Obama threatened to veto that bill.

But just as some Democrats are jumping ship and challenging the president, two Republicans seemed to break with the GOP majority's push for new sanctions on Iran during the committee hearing.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said he supports the administration's negotiations and pushed back against the proposal for new sanctions. "We often say that the purpose of sanctions is to get parties to the table," Flake said. "They are at the table, and so I'm confused by the notion that some would want to impose additional sanctions while negotiations are going on."

He clarified that he remains skeptical of Iranian intentions, and, like Kaine, said that Congress should get to vote on whatever final deal negotiators reach.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky went further still. He and retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, a Democrat, are drafting legislation to rival the Kirk-Menendez bill, Boxer announced Wednesday. The legislation, which Boxer called a "moderate" alternative to the Kirk-Menendez bill, would allow Congress to consider reimposing suspended sanctions on Iran if the president determined the country was violating existing agreements.

McCain to push for expanded Middle East response | |

McCain to push for expanded Middle East response | | In May 2013, Sen. John McCain caused a stir when he took the risky step of venturing briefly into war-torn Syria to meet with opposition leaders whom he and many other Western backers considered the best hope for toppling Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Nearly two years later, 12 of the 15 Syrian commanders McCain met on the trip are dead, further proof in the senator's eyes of President Barack Obama's failed approach to the conflict spreading across the Middle East.

Now, as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain will have the opportunity to amplify his critique of Obama's handling of Iraq and Syria and, by doing so, test the panel's influence over military policy and operations.

"We are probably in the most serious period of turmoil in our lifetime," said the 78-year-old Republican from Arizona, whose control of the committee is the culmination of decades of tenacious advocacy for a muscular foreign policy. "Everything I've predicted, unfortunately, has come true, whether it be in Iraq or whether it be Syria."

McCain, speaking in a recent interview, sees no shortage of defects in the foreign policy record of the man who edged him out in 2008 to become commander in chief. Beyond the Middle East, McCain also has characterized Obama's response to the conflicts in Ukraine and Afghanistan as weak and inadequate.

Terrorism threat prompts increased security at military installations in Europe - News - Stripes

Terrorism threat prompts increased security at military installations in Europe - News - Stripes: U.S. military installations across Europe are increasing security in the wake of the recent terrorist attack in Paris and disrupted plots in Belgium, Germany and France, U.S. European Command said on Wednesday.

“U.S. European Command directed its component commands to implement additional force-protection measures and random security enhancements at facilities across the EUCOM area of responsibility,” said Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, EUCOM spokesman. “We continually assess threats to our forces with and alongside our host-nation counterparts and take appropriate measures based on those assessments.”

Hicks declined to elaborate on the specific steps being taken or to offer an assessment of the threat.

Typically, enhanced force-protection measures can vary from base to base. They can include such actions as more stringent inspections of cars entering installations, random bag checks and increased security patrols.

“We must be cognizant of the increased risk of counter demonstrations/revenge attacks,” said a Jan. 15 advisory issued to the Army community in Germany, which also called for enhanced measures. “While the current focus may be situated around events in France and Belgium, similar violence may occur within other countries in the USAREUR area of operations or worldwide.”

US Trainers To Deploy To Ukraine

US Trainers To Deploy To Ukraine: American soldiers will deploy to Ukraine this spring to begin training four companies of the Ukrainian National Guard, the head of US Army Europe Lt. Gen Ben Hodges said during his first visit to Kiev on Wednesday.

The number of troops heading to the Yavoriv Training Area near the city of L'viv — which is about 40 miles from the Polish border — is still being determined, however.

The American training effort comes as part of a US State Department initiative "to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conduct internal defense, and maintain rule of law" Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman told Defense News.

After meeting with commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Anatoliy Pushnyakov and acting commander of the National Guard Lt. Gen. Oleksandr Kryvyenko during his visit, Hodges said he was "impressed by the readiness of both military and civil leadership to change and reform."

The training was requested by the Ukrainian government "as they work to reform their police forces and establish their newly formed National Guard," Hillman added. Funding for the initiative is coming from the congressionally-authorized Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF), which was requested by the Obama administration in the fiscal 2015 budget to help train and equip the armed forces of allies around the globe.

US should deploy troops to Baltics: Brzezinski

US should deploy troops to Baltics: Brzezinski: The United States and its allies should deploy troops to Baltic states to deter Russia from staging a possible incursion in those countries, former presidential national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, told lawmakers Wednesday.

The foreign policy expert, who served under president Jimmy Carter, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he feared Russian President Vladimir Putin might try to take control over Baltic countries in a lightning move that could take NATO by surprise.

A nightmare scenario could be that "one day -- and I literally mean one day -- he just seizes Riga and Tallinn . . .That would literally take him one day. There's no way they could resist," Brzezinski said.

"And then we'll say how horrible, how shocking, how outrageous. But, of course, we can't do anything about it," he said, without risking a potential nuclear conflict.

US Navy uses Russian rocket engines to launch comsat

US Navy uses Russian rocket engines to launch comsat: The United Launch Alliance (ULA) successfully launched an Atlas V rocket, carrying the US Navy's heaviest national security payload on Tuesday evening, according to live video footage from the launch site in Cape Canaveral Florida.

The rocket carried the Navy's third Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite, which the Navy said "operates like a smartphone network from space, vastly improving secure satellite communications for mobile US forces."

Currently, the United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture that brings together Boeing and Lockheed Martin to provide launch services to the US government, uses the Russian made RD-180 rocket in the first stage to power the Atlas V launch vehicle into space.

The US 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) prohibits the US Department of Defense from awarding or renewing contracts for launch vehicles that use Russian-made rockets. Under the NDAA, the current contract for ULA to use the RD-180, that runs until 2019, will not be affected.The United States currently has enough RD-180 rockets to continue launches until 2016. After, if the supplies are stopped, there would be significant delays in the ability to launch national security satellites into space, according to an RD-180 Availability Risk Mitigation Study. The Department of Defense continues to search for alternatives to the RD-180.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Russia Could Export 30 More Rocket Engines to US

Russia Could Export 30 More Rocket Engines to US: Russian rocket manufacturer Energia is currently in talks with US space launch provider United Launch Alliance (ULA) over a contract to deliver 30 additional RD-180 rocket engines, Energia head Vladimir Solntsev said Friday.

"We are currently discussing [with ULA] a contract to increase the engine shipment - i.e. at least 30 more engines," Solntsev said on Rossiya-24 TV channel.

According to the Energia head, the United States wants the engines as soon as possible to "be sure of the future of Atlas-5 rocket."

The RD-180 is the engine that powers the ULA Atlas V rocket.

"24 engines are to be delivered by 2018. [The previous contract] will definitely be fulfilled," he added. He also stated that Energia was determined to continue cooperation with its American partners in deep space exploration.

Dempsey talks refugee migration, regional extremism while in Rome - Europe - Stripes

Dempsey talks refugee migration, regional extremism while in Rome - Europe - Stripes: The U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman and Italian officials said Monday that Washington and Rome share concerns about extremists entering Italy’s south at a time of record migration into the country from the Middle East and North Africa.

The U.S. has warned in the past about the possible flow of foreign fighters through Europe’s southern flank. European governments are increasingly worried about their own citizens who have traveled abroad to train with terrorist groups and then return home. The recent attacks in Paris and the thwarted attacks in Belgium have underscored those concerns.

Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey met with Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti and Chief of Defense Adm. Luigi Binelli Mantelli on Monday. He was joined by U.S. Ambassador to Italy John R. Phillips.

The meeting included discussions about U.S. and allied operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

Dempsey noted the influx of migrants into Italy from unstable regions to the east and south. Both sides expressed concern that foreign fighters may also try to enter Italy or other parts of Southern Europe, according to a Defense Department release. Dempsey said countries in the Middle East and North Africa should be a part of any discussion about extremism.

Congress, Pentagon Will Have to Agree to Disagree on Budget Issues - Blog

Congress, Pentagon Will Have to Agree to Disagree on Budget Issues - Blog: Just two weeks before the Obama administration submits its budget proposal to Congress for fiscal year 2016, at least on the defense side, the battle lines have been drawn.

The Pentagon can forget scrapping the A-10 attack aircraft, taking warships out of service or closing any more military bases in the United States. The military, too, will have to keep funding the remanufacturing of main battle tanks and continue to buy other hardware it says it doesn’t need.

“Sometimes their priorities are just plain wrong,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Thornberry said he respects the difficult job of Defense Department leaders who have to make “tough choices” following five years of steep budget cuts. But Congress, he said, is not going to rubber stamp any budgets and will put its foot down on any proposals to “give things away” that might be needed in the future, including aging hardware that the military says it can’t afford to maintain.

The Pentagon should be reminded that Congress has a constitutional authority to determine the “size, shape and soul of the military,” Thornberry said Jan. 20 at the American Enterprise Institute. “It’s not clear that everyone understands our constitutional system. Congress is sometimes criticized for exercising its proper role in defense.”

Marine Corps realigns its Special Operations, sends elite troops to Middle East - The Washington Post

Marine Corps realigns its Special Operations, sends elite troops to Middle East - The Washington Post: The Marine Corps is close to completing a realignment of its elite Special Operations troops, sending some of them to the Middle East this month as part of a broader effort to refocus after years of fighting in Afghanistan, according to a top general.

Maj. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, the new commander of the Marine Corps’ Special Operations force, declined to disclose which country or countries the troops will deploy to, but said they will be spread across the Middle East and focused on training and coordinating with friendly governments to guard against insurgencies. Others already have been deployed to Africa and the Pacific.

“It’s really more of a proactive mission to prevent conflict from arising through capable forces, rather than a reactive crisis-management type thing,” said Osterman, speaking by phone from his headquarters at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in his first extended interview since taking over Marine Corps Special Operations in August.

Littoral Ship’s Mine-Clearing Equipment Flawed, U.S. Tester Says - Bloomberg

Littoral Ship’s Mine-Clearing Equipment Flawed, U.S. Tester Says - Bloomberg: Mine-detection equipment for the U.S.Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, including an underwater drone,remains unreliable, the Pentagon’s test office has found.

“Mission modules” to find and clear mines for the initial32 vessels have “not yet demonstrated sufficient performance toachieve the Navy’s minimal” requirements, Michael Gilmore, theDefense Department’s director of operational testing, said inhis annual report to Congress on major weapons systems. It wasobtained in advance of its scheduled public release this week.

Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), based in Bethesda, Maryland, andHenderson, Australia-based Austal Ltd. (ASB) make different versionsof the Littoral Combat Ship. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC), based inFalls Church, Virginia, is responsible for its mine-clearingcapabilities.

Gilmore’s report may add to the congressional scrutiny of avessel that some lawmakers are already criticizing. Amidquestions about whether the ship could survive in combat,departing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month approved aNavy proposal to buy 20 modified ships after 2019 with improvedarmor, sensors and weapons following the first 32, which willcost an estimated $23 billion.

Littoral Ship’s Mine-Clearing Equipment Flawed, U.S. Tester Says - Bloomberg

Littoral Ship’s Mine-Clearing Equipment Flawed, U.S. Tester Says - Bloomberg: Mine-detection equipment for the U.S.Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, including an underwater drone,remains unreliable, the Pentagon’s test office has found.

“Mission modules” to find and clear mines for the initial32 vessels have “not yet demonstrated sufficient performance toachieve the Navy’s minimal” requirements, Michael Gilmore, theDefense Department’s director of operational testing, said inhis annual report to Congress on major weapons systems. It wasobtained in advance of its scheduled public release this week.

Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT), based in Bethesda, Maryland, andHenderson, Australia-based Austal Ltd. (ASB) make different versionsof the Littoral Combat Ship. Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC), based inFalls Church, Virginia, is responsible for its mine-clearingcapabilities.

Gilmore’s report may add to the congressional scrutiny of avessel that some lawmakers are already criticizing. Amidquestions about whether the ship could survive in combat,departing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last month approved aNavy proposal to buy 20 modified ships after 2019 with improvedarmor, sensors and weapons following the first 32, which willcost an estimated $23 billion.

Monday, January 19, 2015

STRATCOM's Haney: China Not Transparent with Nuclear Weapons Policy - USNI News

STRATCOM's Haney: China Not Transparent with Nuclear Weapons Policy - USNI News: While Russia continues to steadily invest in strategic capabilities, the head of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said there is some transparency in what they are spending money on because of treaty requirements. But with China the story is very different, Adm. Cecil Haney told the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C.

“The piece that concerns us, and we work hard at is, China is not transparent in terms of its intentions and in terms of its [nuclear] development programs,” He added that “when we look at our relationship with countries like Russia, being able to have this transparency through new START treaty is very important to both our nations.”

Through the ups and downs in Russian–U.S. relations, “we have continued to inspect each other, per plan, associated with that treaty, for example. When we look at China, we haven’t been invited to come explore what they have associated with things in their nation.”

At the same time, Haney said, there is no corresponding command to his in China with which to discuss such events as long-range missile tests or cyber operations. To bridge that gap, he is working through Pacific Command on these issues with China on a military-to-military basis. As limited as that is, “those kind of things are good” in building respect and understanding

A-10 Performing 11 Percent of Anti-ISIS Sorties

A-10 Performing 11 Percent of Anti-ISIS Sorties: The A-10 Warthog jet has performed 11 percent of US Air Force sorties against the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS, according to service figures.

That number was first mentioned by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James during a Jan. 15 address, and confirmed by Air Force press affairs. The 11 percent figure refers to the total number of manned sorties launched by the US Air Force in Iraq and Syria against IS forces since operations began in August.

The Air Force has carried out around 60 percent of the 16,000 total strikes against IS forces. The remaining 40 percent has been carried out by the US Navy and allied nations.

During her speech, James stressed that while the A-10 is playing a crucial role, other aircraft are handling the bulk of the missions.

"There are a number of strike platforms, of course, that are engaged in it," she said. "[The] A-10 is one of it, but there's also F-16s, F-15s, and so forth. They're each contributing."

What's the total breakdown?

According to service figures, the F-16 fighter has been the most used aircraft, with 41 percent of sorties. That is followed by the F-15E at 37 percent, then the A-10 at 11 percent, the B-1 bomber at eight percent, and the F-22, which saw its first combat operation in the opening salvo against Is forces in Syria last Sept., at 3 percent.

New guided bullet could make Marine snipers deadlier

New guided bullet could make Marine snipers deadlier: The agency responsible for developing the Defense Department's next generation, science fiction-like technology is working to bring guided bullets that can change direction mid-flight to the military's most elite marksmen.

After successfully test firing a guided .50-caliber round this summer, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is now conducting "system-level" testing, which will help determine how a guided bullet would work with a service rifle on the battlefield.

In July, DARPA posted a video of testing for its Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance, or EXACTO program, in which several of the steerable rounds were deliberately fired off target. In the video, the bullet changes direction multiple times before striking the intended target, which was located to the left of the test's point of aim.

The new technology would be a welcome and useful development, but wouldn't replace the need for well-trained traditional sniper teams, said Ryan Innis, a former scout sniper with 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion. Innis, who left the Marine Corps as a sergeant in 2013 after serving on the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Units anti-piracy raid force near East Africa, said a guided bullet could make all Marines pinpoint marksmen.

Marine Prowlers fight Islamic State over Iraq, Syria

Marine Prowlers fight Islamic State over Iraq, Syria

They're old, gray and approaching retirement — but the Marine Corps' EA-6B Prowlers are still fighting terrorists.

The service's aging fleet of jets used for electronic warfare have flown hundreds of hours over Iraq and Syria in support of the fight against the Islamic State group. They may be some of the final combat missions for Prowler squadrons before the Corps starts to retire the aircraft and adds electronic warfare capabilities to a variety of platforms.

Changes in the electronic warfare community will begin this year as officers who spent their careers in the Prowler enter unmanned aerial vehicle squadrons and the Corps tries to make electronic warfare more a more ubiquitous part of combat.

Until then, the Prowler is helping coalition forces in Operation Inherent Resolve as the Corps' primary electronic warfare platform. Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, the "Moon Dogs" began missions into Iraq in June 2014. And in August, Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4, the "Seahawks" relieved VMAQ-3 and soon began sorties over Syria.

"We were the first USMC aircraft in Syria on the first wave of strikes, and have continued to support strike packages, air drops, and other electronic warfare requirements as directed by the Combined Force Air Component Commander," said Lt. Col. David Mueller, VMAQ-4's commanding officer. His squadron is currently attached to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command, which stood up in October and is based in Kuwait and other countries within U.S. Central Command.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Marine Corps Set to Deploy Next-Generation Unmanned Aircraft

Marine Corps Set to Deploy Next-Generation Unmanned Aircraft: The Marine Corps and Navy will launch their newest unmanned aerial system, the RQ-21A Blackjack, from a ship this spring for the first time, and are looking into developing pocket-sized reconnaissance drones, a service aviation official said.

At 140 pounds, the new Blackjack is considered a small tactical unmanned aerial system designed to support infantry regiments.

“Blackjack is still in test and low-rate initial production, but will provide persistent land-based and maritime, tactical [reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition] data collection and dissemination capabilities,” Col. Eldon Metzger, program manager for the Navy and Marine Corps small tactical unmanned air systems program office at Naval Air Systems Command, said in an email.

“RQ-21A will bring the Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Expeditionary Units a dedicated [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] system capable of delivering intelligence products directly to the tactical commander in real time,” he said.

Blackjack is slated for its first maritime deployment this spring, he added.

The aircraft, manufactured by Boeing Insitu, has already seen action in Afghanistan. A Marine UAS squadron took one system there in spring 2014 for operational land-based tests.

The twin-tailed drone is eight-feet long and has a 16-foot wingspan, according to NAVAIR press releases.

It fits the service’s expeditionary nature by not requiring a runway for launch or recovery, Metzger said.

It is the first unmanned aerial vehicle specifically designed for the Marine Corps.

Zukunft: Ships needed for Arctic, drug interdiction

Zukunft: Ships needed for Arctic, drug interdiction: The Coast Guard's 11 missions keep the service up to its neck in operations. Things are under control, the service's top officer said Thursday, but there are a few key areas where they're stretched thin.

Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft made his case for more ships, airplanes and resources, though the service already has a long acquisition list to tackle.

"We're a small service, but as always, we do punch above our weight class," Zukunft said In his Thursday speech before the annual Surface Navy Association symposium in Arlington, Virginia.

Some highlights from Zukunft's speech and Q&A before hundreds of sailors, Coast Guardsmen and contractors:

‘Unrelenting’ need for drones will prompt changes in Air Force - The Washington Post

‘Unrelenting’ need for drones will prompt changes in Air Force - The Washington Post: The Air Force units that run the service’s fleet of drone aircraft are “under significant stress,” with long hours and a potential brain drain coming that will prompt a variety of changes, Air Force Secretary Deborah James said Thursday.

James, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, said that the “unrelenting pace” of remotely piloted aircraft requirements means that those who operate them work six days in a row on average, typically for 13 or 14 hours each. An average pilot flying a manned aircraft flies about 200 or 300 hours per year, but drone pilots fly 900 to 1,100, she said.

“Our plan is designed to immediately relieve some of this strain while still meeting the combatant commander requirements, and then we of course recognize we’ll have more work to do for the somewhat longer term to address the people side of this very important, but nonetheless high-demand weapons system,” James said.

James 'Disappointed' by SpaceX Delay

James 'Disappointed' by SpaceX Delay: The secretary of the Air Force is "disappointed" that SpaceX was not certified for military space launch before the end of 2014, but remains confident the company will meet the requirements set forth from the service.

"I'm disappointed that it didn't happen at the end of December, but to me, it is not a question of 'if,' it is a question of 'when' [certification] will happen," Deborah Lee James told an audience at the Atlantic Council Wednesday.

SpaceX is attempting to become the first company to break the monopoly on military space launch held by the United Launch Alliance (ULA), whose Atlas V and Delta IV vehicles provide transport to military satellites under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.

The company is proposing that the service use its Falcon-9 configuration, but hopes to be certified on other configurations in the future.

Could Catamaran Replace Army Landing Craft?

Could Catamaran Replace Army Landing Craft?: The venerable LCM-8 "Mike" boat is well known to military harbormasters and US Army logistics teams. Chugging at a sedate 12 knots with no load — 8 knots or less when fully loaded — the craft with bow ramps can drop right onto a beach and perform a myriad of unglamorous but necessary tasks.

But the Army's Mikes, which are from the late 1950s and 1960s, are worn out and in need of replacement. And one of the contenders is the L-Cat, a French-designed, multipurpose craft that can zip across the water at 30 knots — almost unheard of for a landing craft.

The L-Cat gets it speed from an unusual configuration. It's essentially a twin-hulled landing craft with a vehicle deck in the middle that can be lowered to the water's edge for direct access onto shore, then raised to turn the vessel into a high-speed catamaran.

Marine Corps Leaders Warn Troop Cuts May Go Too Far - Blog

Marine Corps Leaders Warn Troop Cuts May Go Too Far - Blog

As Congress gears up to consider military funding requests for 2016, the Marine
Corps is likely to argue that under the current budget law, its forces are being
cut too precipitously.
The current active-duty force of 187,900 would
have to drop to 182,000 under strict funding limits mandated by the 2011 budget
law. At that reduced size, the Marine Corps would have to stretch its forces
thin and might have to keep troops deployed longer than the standard seven-month
tours, said Maj. Gen. Andrew O'Donnell Jr., deputy commander of the Marine Corps
Combat Development Command.
"We are trying to find that sweet spot in
this fiscal environment where the number should be, and the right size of the
force. We think it should be somewhere around 182,000 to 184,000," he said Jan.
14 at the Surface Navy Association annual conference.
Echoing a similar
contention made by Army leaders, Marines insist that new security crises that
have erupted over the past year should spur a fresh discussion about military
downsizing goals.
At its wartime high, the Corps had 202,000 troops.
Marines have mostly left Afghanistan, where they had 6,500 troops last year and
now only have 120. But they are stepping up deployments to Europe and the Middle
East, O'Donnell said. Of about 110,000 Marines who are assigned to combat
duties, 31,000 are deployed. Three Marine Expeditionary Units are in the Western
Pacific. Another 2,000 Marines have been assigned to "rapid response" duties
under U.S. Africa Command in the wake of the Benghazi crisis in Libya, and to
Kuwait under U.S. Central Command to support the air war against Islamic
extremists in Iraq and Syria.
Marine officials worry that they might not
have enough forces to allow troops 14-month breaks in between seven-month
deployments, as is currently the norm. When the force drops closer to 180,000,
said O'Donnell, "it takes its toll" on people and equipment. The goal, he said,
is to have at least one-third of the Marine Corps in overseas locations.

U.S. Navy eyes next coastal warship contracts in first quarter | Reuters

U.S. Navy eyes next coastal warship contracts in first quarter | Reuters: The U.S. Navy plans to awardcontracts before the end of the first quarter to Lockheed MartinCorp and Australia's Austal for its next threeLittoral Combat Ships as well as money to buy materials for afourth, Navy officials said Thursday.

Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley told reporters the Navywas in talks with both companies and expected to award contractsbefore the pricing in the current proposals expired at the endof March.

Rear Admiral Brian Antonio, program executive officer forthe LCS ships, said one of the companies would be awarded acontract for two ships while the other would receive funds forone plus money to start buying material and components for asecond.

Tactical dirt bike? SilentHawk prototype set for 2016

Tactical dirt bike? SilentHawk prototype set for 2016: A prototype of a gas-electric hybrid dirt bike designed to get troops over all types of terrain quickly and stealthily could be ready for tests by the middle of next year.

Logos Technologies announced earlier this month that its work on the SilentHawk "military motorcycle" was progressing at a rapid clip, thanks in part to a second research award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The program, a partnership between Logos and Alta Motors, began in February, and Logos announced an initial DARPA grant in April.

The bike would combine Alta's RedShift MX electric dirt bike with a hybrid-drive system initially designed by Logos to power unmanned aerial vehicles, according to a Logos news release. The RedShift MX retails for $14,995, can hit 80 mph and has an estimated battery range of two hours "based on recreational trail or mixed road use," according to online product information.

A hybrid drive likely would extend the military version's range, and it would allow troops to generate "supplemental electric power" in the field

U.S. Marine general sees competition for next amphibious ship | Reuters

U.S. Marine general sees competition for next amphibious ship | Reuters: The U.S. Navy will insist on competition for the next U.S. amphibious warship despite a decision last year to base the ship on the LPD-17 ship designed by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc, Marine Corps Major General Robert Walsh said on Tuesday.

Walsh, who is director of the U.S. Navy's Expeditionary Warfare Division, said the U.S. military owned the design for the LPD-17 class of ships and would launch a competition for the new warship program known as LX (R).

"Competition drives down cost," Walsh said after a speech at the annual symposium of the Surface Navy Association. He said competition was also one of the key goals of the Pentagon's Better Buying Power initiative to improve arms acquisitions.

Navy officials had no immediate comment on the expected terms of the competition, which are likely to emerge after the release of the fiscal 2016 budget request.

USAF Launches Slate of New Acquisition Initiatives

USAF Launches Slate of New Acquisition Initiatives: The US Air Force is launching a wave of new initiatives aimed at bringing down the cost and time associated with acquiring new technologies, service secretary Deborah Lee James announced Wednesday.

The initiatives are bundled together under the banner of "Bending the Cost Curve," a program title that comes with its own logo and the requisite BTCC acronym. The goal is to work more closely with industry in order to find solutions that work for both sides, James said during an event hosted at the Atlantic Council here in Washington.

"We have got to stop spending more and more in order to get less and less, so what we have to do is bend that cost curve," James said.

As an example of how slowly the acquisition system moves, James noted that the average time to award a sole-source contract is 17 months, something she called a "horrifying fact."

"We in the Air Force — and I can say this broadly across the Department of Defense as well — we are way too slow in all that we do," James said.

The BTCC plan is aimed at addressing both those issues. It is divided into three target areas — enhancing interactions with industry, expanding competition for programs among both traditional and non-traditional industry partners, and improving the service's internal acquisition processes.

Air Force Space Programs on Hold as New Architecture Studied

Air Force Space Programs on Hold as New Architecture Studied: Large satellite systems take a long time to develop.

As the years stretch on, the temptation to change requirements and add new capabilities is too hard to resist. For once the spacecraft is launched, it’s impossible to swap out the hardware.
Schedules slip. Production lines go cold, increasing the contractors’ costs.

By the time the satellite is sent to orbit, the technology aboard is already generations behind what is available in the commercial marketplace.

This was all described in a 2012 paper co-authored by Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, then Air Force Space and Missile Center commander.

“Since the mid-1990s, we have seen some of the longest delivery times for major space systems since the beginning of the space age,” she wrote in “Space: Disruptive Challenges, New Opportunities, and New Strategies” published in Strategic Studies Quarterly.

However, deliveries of new space systems of late have all but come to a halt. The communication satellites being launched now are based on designs dating back to the early 2000s. The last major contract award was in 2008 for the third-generation GPS satellites.

That was also the year the Defense Department canceled the Transformational Satellite Communication System, or T-Sat, a six-year effort to create a next-generation spacecraft that came to naught.

Six years later, there are no new Air Force satellites on the horizon.

The Air Force is in the throes of conducting several studies that service officials say may lead to a radically new space architecture. Meanwhile, as the paper noted, getting space system acquisition right is more important than ever.

The nature of how it is employed by the military has changed over the past dozen years.

US Army Officials: Field Ultralight Vehicles Quickly

US Army Officials: Field Ultralight Vehicles Quickly: For more than a decade, the US Army's vehicle development efforts have focused on heavily armored vehicles, taking for granted the presence of roadside bombs common to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now Army officials say they want to quickly field a new class of vehicles that trades armor for mobility and lets airborne assault troops drop far from objectives protected by air defense, speed over land and capture them.

The Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) at Fort Benning, Georgia, is seeking the approval of senior Army acquisition officials for a plan to choose from readily available vehicles and field some 300 of them to the service's global response force (GRF), under the 18th Airborne Corps. Once the program is established, a vendor could be selected and a vehicle fielded in 2016, they say.

"Industry is saying, 'I can build this right now for you, I just need someone to say go,' " said Carl Pignato, a light combat vehicle analyst at the MCoE's mounted requirements division.

Senior Army leaders have been calling for such a capability, including Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel Allyn and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities and Integration Center. Allyn years earlier, as chief of the 18th Airborne Corps, signed off on an operational-needs request for the capability.

Sequestration Threatens Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Acquisition

Sequestration Threatens Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Acquisition: With round two of sequestration looming over the Pentagon, major weapon programs could be on the chopping block. The joint light tactical vehicle program — which if fulfilled would see more than 50,000 vehicles manufactured — could be a casualty, some experts said.

The fierce competition pits Lockheed Martin, Oshkosh Defense and AM General against each other to build the Army and Marine Corps’ next light tactical vehicle. The Army has said it intends to purchase more than 49,000 vehicles and the Marine Corps is slated for 5,500 units.

Interviews with JLTV program office leadership were not made available to National Defense, but a joint program office spokesman pointed to October remarks from Army Col. John R. Cavedo Jr., program manager for the JPO, in which he describes sequestration’s potential effects.

“The impact will more than likely … be a slowdown of production, which equals a stretch out of production,” Cavedo said at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting-exposition in Washington, D.C. “If you buy less, the cost will move up.”

He noted that the program was able to survive earlier budget cuts through efficiency.

U.S. Cyber Command, NSA commander discusses state of cyber efforts | Article | The United States Army

Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, or USCYBERCOM, and director of the National Security Agency, addressed staff and faculty during the first Leadership Professional Development series event of 2015, Jan. 9.

During his remarks, Rogers thanked the audience for their commitment to the Army and leadership. "You are building the foundation of the United States Army's leadership of the future… you are helping to mold the men and women, who will one day be standing up here talking to an audience like this," he said.

"That takes a lot of focus, commitment and hard work," Rogers said.

Rogers discussed how the Army is helping to contribute to the demanding cyberspace that the nation operates in. "The United States Army should feel incredibly proud about its role in Cyber," he said.

Specifically, Rogers explained the Army's ability to recognize the importance of cyber and the hard work required to be successful, its work to development of a clear vision for the service, its desire to commit resources, and its ability to meet its obligations in the joint world.

"There are few things in our professional lives that we get to start from the ground up, and we can truly say we are building this thing and creating the future… cyber is one of those of those things," he said.

Rogers said that by the end of fiscal year 2016, USCYBERCOM will have created a dedicated cyber mission force made up of approximately 6,200 people, formed into 133 teams.

These teams will have three missions: defending the Department of Defense, or DoD, information network; providing support to Combatant Commanders; and, when directed by the president or the defense secretary, applying DoD capability to defend critical U.S. infrastructure against cyber attacks.

"Cyber is not just about technology… cyber is a domain that is interconnected, interacts and interrelates with every other domain," Rogers said.

The graduating Class of 2015 will mark the first class of USMA graduates to branch directly into the U.S Army Cyber Command, a service element to USCYBERCOM.

Guard Special Forces: powerful punch in small packages | Article | The United States Army

At any given moment there are small teams of elite Soldiers deployed around the world who are conducting operations that many may never hear of. The Soldiers, often referred to as Green Berets, are members of Special Forces -- an Army-specific special operations force -- and are considered by many to be among the best in the world when it comes to unconventional warfare and increasing the combat potential of forces around the globe.

Of the seven Special Forces groups within the Army, two are part of the Army National Guard: the 19th SFG and the 20th SFG.

Army Guard Soldiers from those units have been a key part of the special operations forces capability during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as around the world.

"Over the past 12-13 years, Guard Special Forces have not only provided additional force structure to special operations forces at large, but we've continued to prove that Guard [Special Forces] teams are on par with our active-component counterparts," said Army Maj. Joseph Bauldry, deputy chief of the Special Operations Branch at the National Guard Bureau.

"Guard Soldiers are often more experienced than our active-component counterparts," Bauldry said, "in not only the current conflict, but also in the things we Special Forces previously did, such as conducting Joint Combined Exchange Training and Foreign Internal Defense missions."

Both are the kinds of missions Bauldry sees Special Forces returning to again.

"I see us revisiting the mission sets that predominated the 1980s and 1990s as well as continuing to support contingency operations around the world. We will stay busy," he said.

In addition to their training and combat experience, the Citizen Soldiers of the Army Guard Special Forces bring another capability to the table: the knowledge and experience they have gained from their civilian careers. Those skills strengthen their knowledge and abilities while in uniform.

Bauldry said prevalent careers among many Army Guard Special Forces Soldiers are local and federal law enforcement.

"U.S. Army Special Operations Command, or USASOC, has taken note of this capability that the active component just does not have," he said. "USASOC is looking to the Guard to leverage this law enforcement knowledge and latest techniques, which is often a critical component in fighting the seeds of insurgency and lawlessness in many nations.

"Soldiers who are Guard members, that's their full-time job, every day," he said.

Despite any institutional differences, every Soldier must complete the Special Forces Qualification Course, or Q Course, before they can call themselves a Green Beret.

While Baudry said training continues to evolve, it typically begins with small-unit tactics. That is followed by separate training in one of five military occupational specialty-specific training areas. Included among those areas is training for officers, weapons sergeants, engineering sergeants, medical sergeants, and communications sergeants.

"Soldiers then rejoin for an unconventional warfare culmination exercise, where they put together everything they've learned," and work as small teams to complete the exercise, he said.

Next, Soldiers go through the Special Forces training pipeline, consisting of survival, evasion, resistance, and escape -- or SERE -- training, and language training. "After successful completion of all of this training, Soldiers are awarded Special Forces tab and can then don their Green Beret," he said.

The training doesn't stop there. Bauldry said Special Forces Soldiers can also go through high-altitude military parachuting, or military free fall school, and combat diver school -- just two out of a handful of schools -- depending upon what role the Soldier will have within the assigned unit.

That special training often requires constant recertification, a task that can be challenging for Army Guard Special Forces units.

"National Guard Special Forces members have to seek out those opportunities after they are done at work, on the weekends, or when they are tired," said Army Maj. Sam with the Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West, Florida, "but they persevere through it and that's why I think there is a different level of dedication -- not better, not worse -- but there is a different level of dedication that National Guard members have in contributing to the defense of our nation.

"I know that it is hard for teams to get together, let alone to get extra time to do training and prepare to fight our nation's battles, but they work really hard down here, and I would put them on par with any active-duty combat dive team."

Being fully qualified is vital though, and the balance between civilian jobs and maintaining competency in Special Forces skills is what Sam said makes the Guard unique.

"I think it is vital that Guard members hold the same qualifications that the active-duty members have," he said. "Guard members are unique though, in that they go above and beyond to keep those skills, to maintain those skills, or to advance those skills and it's not easy to do. I would argue that it is harder to do in the National Guard than it is in the active component, where the active-duty guys are training during the duty day."

The constant training provides a team or unit the ability to effectively and efficiently do what Special Forces do best.

"We train specifically in skill sets that enable us to work with indigenous people and cultures around the world," said Army Master Sgt. Rick, an operations sergeant with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 20th SFG (Airborne). "For us, operating as a small package with a powerful punch, it's a cost-effective way to accomplish the needs of the nation in certain scenarios, instead of sending in a whole battalion. Basically, we are a force multiplier and that's kind of our bread and butter in Special Forces."

It's a capability that lends itself to the atmosphere surrounding Special Forces around the world.

Bauldry encourages anyone interested to try out for the team.

"It's a rewarding opportunity and I would encourage all those who are interested to try out. We are always looking for strong candidates who are looking for a challenge and who want to get more out of their Guard experience," he said.

U.S., Republic of Korea armies to establish combined division | Article | The United States Army

The 2nd Infantry "Warrior" Division is entering a significant phase in its 100-year history.

For more than 60 years, 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their South Korean allies on freedom's frontier keeping the peninsula secure against an aggressive and oppressive North Korean regime. The division is constantly seeking ways to further improve its readiness and strengthen the historic alliance it shares with South Korea.

The division is establishing a new organizational paradigm for the U.S. and Republic of Korea, or ROK, armies. This month, the division will enter a new phase in its enduring partnership with South Korea. They are combining forces with the establishment of a combined division and are preparing to emerge as a more decisive expeditionary force with collective capabilities for a robust combined deterrence and defense posture.

"The combined division construct is itself historic. It will be the first of its kind at any time in our history. U.S. and Korean Soldiers will literally operate as one unit with one unified effort," said Maj. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division. "Nowhere else has this been attempted to the extent that we are going to implement, and the fact that we are able to make this happen is momentous."

Officers, non-commissioned officers and units will be attached to the division, allowing interoperability between U.S. and Republic of Korea forces as well as planning for mission requirements; capitalizing on the strengths of both armies.

The Combined Division will be led by the 2nd Infantry Division commander with a Republic of Korea deputy commander. The combined division will fall under Eighth Army in support of the ground component commander and will be composed of the already existing 2nd Infantry Division structure and a brigade from the Republic of Korea's army.

Brig. Gen. Yin will serve as the Republic of Korea's deputy commanding general and approximately 30 Republic of Korea army staff officers will support the commander's core staff functions as primary and deputy staff and as deputy chief of staff. Many will begin integration training next week.

The collaboration is unprecedented and a true testament of the strength of the alliance between the United States and South Korea, building on its already strong and historic presence and partnership.

"The goal of this unification is to cultivate adaptive capabilities to deter and defeat future provocations," Vandal said. "Together we will strengthen the Alliance and enhance the defense of the ROK."

The combined division and its headquarters will initially be located in Uijeonbu at Camp Red Cloud. As part of the Land Partnership Plan, an agreement made between the U.S. and South Korean governments, the combined division will move further south on the Korean Peninsula to Pyeongtak as facilities become available.

To kick off this move, the division participated in a groundbreaking ceremony this past April for its future headquarters at Camp Humphreys. The expansion and construction is a multibillion-dollar project that includes housing, medical, educational, and recreational facilities. The new headquarters, along with office and housing facilities, are scheduled to be complete by 2016. 

US Concerned About Russia's Emerging Strategic Military Capabilities

US Concerned About Russia's Emerging Strategic Military Capabilities: The United States is concerned about Russia's emerging strategic capabilities in nuclear, space, cyber security spheres, Commander of US Strategic Command Adm. Cecil Haney said on Thursday.

"Russia has had more than a decade of investments in modernization across their strategic nuclear forces. This is not about the continuation of the cold war <...>This is about emerging capability at a time of significant concerns in Russians execution of their near abroad strategy," Adm. Haney said at the event devoted to strategic deterrence in Atlantic Council, Washington, DC.

The commander went on by saying that Moscow has significant cyber capability and also "has publicly stated they are developing counter space capabilities."

"Russian leaders openly maintain that Russia's armed forces have anti-satellite weapons and conduct anti-satellite research," Adm. Haney noted.The commander also reminded of the news of "Russian strategic bombers penetrating the US and ally air defense identification zones on multiple occasions this year."

Navy authorizes SM-6 missile for more ships

Navy authorizes SM-6 missile for more ships: U.S. Navy has authorized the use of long-range multi-role SM-6 missiles by more ships in the fleet equipped with the Aegis Combat Weapons System.

Raytheon, the missile's manufacturer, said the authorization affects more than 35 ships with the Aegis baseline 5.3 and 3.A.0 system series.

"SM-6 is the longest range integrated air and missile defense interceptor deployed, and its multi-role capabilities are unprecedented," said Mike Campisi, Raytheon's Standard Missile-6 senior program director.

The SM-6 is a surface-to-air supersonic missile. It is designed to defeat manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles in flight. It features active and semi-active guidance, advanced fuzing techniques and signal processing and guidance control capabilities.

U.S. Navy orders additional torpedo decoy systems

U.S. Navy orders additional torpedo decoy systems: A subsidiary of Boeing is to supply the U.S. Navy with additional AN/SLQ-25C surface ship torpedo defense systems.

The AN/SLQ-25C is a towed decoy and shipboard signal generator that lures torpedoes away from a ship by mimicking the vessel's acoustic signatures -- its propeller and engine noise.

Argon ST will deliver five of the systems known as the Nixie, which are installed on all U.S. Navy combatant ships, under a $6.5 million award.

Drones Need Humans, Badly; Pilots Getting More Dough « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Drones Need Humans, Badly; Pilots Getting More Dough « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: Even unmanned aircraft need people to make them fly. Today, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced stopgap measures to shore up overworked drone squadrons. At the same press conference, the service’s Chief of Staff pledged to plug another personnel gap, the shortage of skilled maintainers for the manned F-35 — but, Gen. Mark Welsh admitted, the expedients required would be “painful.”

So even in the service most enamored of technology, the knottiest problems sometimes still turn out to be old-fashioned human beings.

The MQ-1 Predator and its big brother, the MQ-9 Reaper, have become pop culture icons of modern warfare, but pop culture forgets how labor-intensive they are to operate. Not only do they need maintenance crews, intelligence analysts, and sensor operators, each drone requires a human pilot flying it by remote control every second it’s in the air. That’s why the Air Force prefers the term Remotely Piloted Aircraft or RPA. (More advanced drones like the Global Hawk and Triton require less constant hand-holding). All those humans are under stress today, but none more so than the pilots

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Marines prep for unpredictable amphibious operations

Marines prep for unpredictable amphibious operations: The Marine Corps is refining its new concept of operations — Expeditionary Force 21 — as it begins to apply the new doctrine to real-world missions and large-scale military exercises, a Marine general told a gathering of Naval officers Wednesday.

That could include basing mini special-purpose Marine air-ground task forces on small ships in the Pacific and the Gulf of Guinea to quell crises on a moment's notice, said Maj. Gen. Andrew O'Donnell, the deputy commanding general for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, at this year's Annual Surface Navy Association symposium in Arlington, Virginia.

The major tenants of EF-21 and the closely related Marine Expeditionary Brigade Concept of Operations, which together place an emphasis on scalable forces built and deployed within hours of a crisis, are sound, he said.

But service leaders are now weighing the nature of distributed operations, studying after action reports — most recently from Bold Alligator 14 — and carefully considering how current and future amphibious and air platforms will influence how the doctrine is applied to meet unpredictable missions in a post-Afghanistan operating environment.

2-star: Despite challenges, Marines headed back to sea

2-star: Despite challenges, Marines headed back to sea: The Marine Corps is returning to its roots as a sea-based strike force after 13 years of ground wars, but getting there in fighting shape requires flexibility and resourcefulness, warned Maj. Gen. Robert Walsh.

Walsh, director of the Expeditionary Warfare Division, laid out the plan for getting the Corps afloat again — and the challenges associated with it — during the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium in northern Virginia on Tuesday. Commandant Gen. Joe Dunford is prioritizing Marines' ability to undertake amphibious operations in contested areas, he said.

"As Marines, we want to be sea-based," Walsh said.

But the Navy's amphibious assault ship force needs a chance to recuperate after more than a decade of hard-use, he added. Extended deployments, compressed training cycles and ship substitutions have taken a toll.

"We were running ships too hard and readiness went down," he said.

As the service shifts its focus to the Asia-Pacific region, it still needs to remain at the ready to respond to ongoing and unexpected crises in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. The Corps is looking at placing Marines on new types of Navy vessels, he said, a concept already being tested. Marines experimented with embarking upon nontraditional vessels including an aircraft carrier, destroyer and dry cargo ship last summer.