Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marines Weighing Having Members Hitch Rides on Foreign Warships | Military.com

Marines Weighing Having Members Hitch Rides on Foreign Warships | Military.com: The Marines are weighing whether to have members hitch a ride on foreign warships, citing a shortage of U.S. Navy vessels due to recent budget cuts -- raising bipartisan security concerns about the leverage this could give other countries.

A key concern is whether a warship from a host nation could deny Marines permission to come ashore.

"Ceding our amphibious ships to other countries -- it's almost silly and I can't believe it is even an option for the Navy," said Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., who served as a Marine in Iraq. "Now we are going to have to ask other countries, much less financially stable countries than America, to loan us their ships so that we can base our Marines on their ships. It's almost embarrassing."

The Navy currently has 30 amphibious transport ships to carry Marines, but estimates it would need 38 to cope with rising crises across North Africa. It won't reach that number until 2028 under current budget constraints.

"We are a maritime nation, and we communicate across the world through our sea services, and ... the size of the Navy right now is way too low," said former Sen. Jim Webb, a Democrat who is weighing a presidential run. Webb was a decorated Marine infantry officer in Vietnam and was appointed Navy secretary under President Ronald Reagan.

Navy Sees Broader Role for Joint High Speed Vessel | DoD Buzz

Navy Sees Broader Role for Joint High Speed Vessel | DoD Buzz: The Navy has stepped up deployments of its new Joint High Speed Vessel in exercises around the globe as part of a broader effort to expand the mission set and operational use of the platform, service officials said.

Initially envisioned as a high-speed transport vessel, the JHSV is showing a broader range of applications such as logistical support, counter-trafficking and medical operations in support of larger platforms such as amphibious assault ships.

”It is truly a joint vessel to be delivered to combatant commanders as a fast, sizeable transport. The JHSV can help provide security cooperation support and counterterrorism assistance,” said Johnny Michael, Navy spokesman. “There are plans to put them in every COCOM (area of responsibility). They are going to be everywhere.”

USAF’s ultra-lethal carbon fibre bomb approved for export - 6/29/2015 - Flight Global

USAF’s ultra-lethal carbon fibre bomb approved for export - 6/29/2015 - Flight Global: The United States plans to export an advanced, tungsten-laden bomb that is designed to cause less collateral damage than its predecessors, but be more lethal.

The 227kg (500lb) BLU-129/B was originally produced by Aerojet Rocketdyne as a quick reaction capability for the war in Afghanistan as a way of reducing civilian deaths by using a cabon-fibre-wound composite shell casing to limit the blast radius. Its development followed one particularly disastrous airstrike on a wedding party in 2008 that killed dozens of women and children along with a number of Taliban insurgents.

The bomb entered service in 2011, and an initial production run of up to 800 units ended earlier this year. Now, the US Air Force says it is interested in restarting production for both domestic and international consumption, with the government approving exports to any nation that already purchases joint direct attack munition (JDAM) guidance assemblies.

Sputtering Start to US Military's Training of Syrian Rebels | Military.com

Sputtering Start to US Military's Training of Syrian Rebels | Military.com: Fewer than 100 Syrian rebels are currently being trained by the U.S. military to fight the Islamic State group, a tiny total for a sputtering program with a stated goal of producing 5,400 fighters a year.

The training effort is moving so slowly that critics question whether it can produce enough capable fighters quickly enough to make a difference. Military officials said last week that they still hope for 3,000 by year's end. Privately, they acknowledge the trend is moving in the wrong direction.

On June 26, 2014, the White House said it was asking Congress for $500 million for a three-year train-and-equip program. It only got started in May, however.

That program, together with a more advanced but also troubled parallel effort to rebuild the Iraqi army, is central to the U.S.-led effort to create ground forces capable of fighting IS without involving U.S. ground combat troops.

The Syria initiative is seen more as a way of enabling moderate opposition forces to defend their own towns against the militants. Expectations for the Iraqis are much higher; the goal is to have them roll back IS and restore the Iraq-Syria border.

The main problem thus far has been finding enough Syrian recruits untainted by extremist affiliations or disqualified by physical or other flaws. Of approximately 6,000 volunteers, about 1,500 have passed muster and await movement to training camps in other countries. Citing security concerns, the Pentagon will not say exactly how many are in training. Officials said that as of Friday, the number was under 100 and that none has completed the program.

"We have set the bar very high on vetting," said Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Army kills controversial social science program

Army kills controversial social science program: The Army has quietly killed a program that put social scientists on battlefields to help troops avoid unnecessary bloodshed and improve civilians' lives, an Army spokesman said Monday.

The initiative, known as the Human Terrain System, had been plagued by fraud and racial and sexual harassment, a USA TODAY investigation found.

HTS, which spent at least $726 million from 2007 to 2014 in Iraq and Afghanistan, was killed last fall, Gregory Mueller, an Army spokesman, said in an email. Commanders in Afghanistan, where the U.S. combat mission ended last year, no longer had a need for the advice of civilian anthropologists.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Better Defenses Change Nature of Precision Strike Warfare

Better Defenses Change Nature of Precision Strike Warfare: Over the past quarter century, precision guided munitions (PGMs) such as laser-guided bombs and cruise missiles have become the weapons of choice for the US military, providing a high degree of accuracy while avoiding widespread collateral damage.

And while the US and its allies have often benefited from operating in combat areas where opponents lack heavy and effective defenses, those days are coming to an end, experts are warning. The US needs to develop new operational concepts to maintain its precision strike advantage in the face of increasingly effective countermeasures.

"Big state powers like Russia and China are catching up," warned Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work. "This is going to require a fundamental rethinking of how the joint force operates."

Work is overseeing an effort to develop new "offset" strategies — tactics and weapons that can offset an opponent's abilities.

"The first thing on any offset policy is to have a demonstrated capability to win the emerging guided munitions salvo competition," Work said June 22, speaking to a Rand Corp. audience in Washington. "That is job number one. This demonstrated ability to win this competition will underwrite our conventional deterrence in the 21st century, and if we don't have it, we are going to be faced with a lot of problems that we do not want to face."

He pointed out that current PGM countermeasures are simply too costly, which is why the Pentagon is investing in the research and development of cheaper alternatives, such as directed energy or electromagnetic railguns.

4-star on Russia: 'The threat that has my greatest focus'

4-star on Russia: 'The threat that has my greatest focus': An emerging but familiar threat has become the "greatest focus" of the Army's No. 2 general.

"The threat that has my greatest focus, frankly, is in Eastern Europe," said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn. "Russia has clearly demonstrated their intent to infringe upon the national boundaries of now two states, and from what we can see, that intent is not abating."

In light of that threat — on top of several other demands for U.S. soldiers around the world and a tight fiscal environment — the Army must make sure it can continue to assure its allies, fulfill its NATO responsibilities, and "continue to rotate trained and ready forces" to support the deterrent work led by U.S. European Command, Allyn said.

Allyn spoke June 25 to Army Times as Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with Ukraine's defense minister, Colonel-General Stepan Poltorak at the NATO Defense Ministerial in Brussels.

The two leaders in Brussels discussed Russia's ongoing aggression in eastern Ukraine, according to information released by the Defense Department. Carter emphasized the United States' commitment to support Ukraine "in its effort to define its own course as a sovereign, democratic nation," according to DoD.

Carter also reaffirmed U.S. commitment to continuing defense cooperation with Ukraine, including through exercises and training.

Future of Sikorsky Sale Still Uncertain

Future of Sikorsky Sale Still Uncertain: Although United Technologies has received multiple bids for its subsidiary Sikorsky Aircraft, there are still obstacles to overcome before a sale can go through, and a spinoff of the helicopter business is still possible.

Lockheed Martin, Textron and Airbus are all believed to still be in the running, sources said, with bids that have made it past the initial stage. While there would be synergies for Airbus and Textron, which already manufacture helicopters, there could also be antitrust concerns of one company having too much of a share of the helicopter market.

For that reason, Richard Aboulafia, the Teal Group's vice president of analysis, said Lockheed Martin might be the best fit, even though it doesn't produce helicopters. But with an already successful business integrating mission systems and sensors for helicopters, Lockheed may decide to stay out of the business of building helicopters.

"I'm not so sure they'd want to get platform specific. They've done pretty well being ecumenical," Aboulafia said.

Mike Blades, an analyst who covers defense and aerospace for Frost & Sullivan, said Sikorsky likely will be spun off as a separate entity from UTC. With the Future Vertical Lift program under development by the Pentagon as the next generation of military helicopters, Sikorsky has teamed with Boeing to compete. Textron subsidiary Bell Helicopters is also in the running, so if Textron acquired Sikorsky, it would effectively have interest in both sides of the competition, he said.

If Sikorsky is acquired by either Bell or Boeing, the number of American helo makers drops from three to two, which drastically reduces competition, he said.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hypersonic flight the next frontier for the Air Force

Hypersonic flight the next frontier for the Air Force: Almost 70 years after Chuck Yeager and the Bell X-1 team broke the sound barrier, the Air Force is working to defy the next frontier in speed: hypersonic travel.

Defined as anything traveling above Mach 5, hypersonic flight usually clocks in between 3,800 and 4,000 miles per hour — fast enough to traverse the continental United States in about a half an hour.

Humans have reached those speeds before. NASA's X-15 program in the 1960's was able to reach speeds of Mach 5. And the Space Shuttle — while reentering the Earth's atmosphere and essentially free-falling from orbit — is estimated to reach speeds of Mach 25.

But the Air Force hopes to make the speed more commonplace than a spaceship landing on the planet. The service is looking to better understand and harness hypersonic flight technology to power missiles and — eventually — aircraft with "supersonic combustion ramjet" engines, or "scramjets."

"I think the biggest things that hypersonic and scramjet engines bring to the Air Force is speed. Speed and responsiveness, that's what we're working to create," said Ryan Helbach, an aerospace engineer with the service's Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

'Hoverbike' could join the fleet in 3 to 5 years

'Hoverbike' could join the fleet in 3 to 5 years: The military is working to develop a Star Wars-style "hoverbike" that uses a motorcycle engine and small rotors to soar up to 9,000 feet high.

A British startup firm and a U.S. defense contractor are working with the Army Research Laboratory in Maryland to test a prototype aircraft that could transform the way U.S. troops operate in difficult terrain. The aircraft could be available for procurement within three to five years, a company official said.

The aircraft is designed to carry a single pilot and fly at a range and altitude similar to a traditional small helicopter. But it's small size and potential maneuverability mean it could operate in far tighter spaces than a larger rotor-wing aircraft.

"The Army is looking at using it … close to the ground. So we are looking at technology to make sure it's safe in that kind of environment," said Mark Butkiewicz, manager of applied technology at Survice Engineering, a Maryland-based company working on the project.

"In some cases, the lower altitude is more challenging because you have to make sure you can maneuver around objects and debris and buildings," Butkiewicz said in an interview with Defense News, which is owned by the same company as Military Times.

A military variant of the aircraft could carry up to 400 to 800 pounds of cargo, said Grant Stapleton, a sales director for the British firm, Malloy Aeronautics.

The aircraft is equipped with sensors that allow it to fly manned or unmanned. The rotors spin inside a circular space enclosed by metal rims and strong wire mesh, a key safety measure that prevents rotors from striking objects when operating in smaller spaces.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

U.S. Navy Littoral Ship Found Vulnerable to Attack - Bloomberg Business

U.S. Navy Littoral Ship Found Vulnerable to Attack - Bloomberg Business: Weeks before one of the U.S. Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ships departed for Asia, tests had exposed its vulnerability to a potential enemy attack, according to the Pentagon’s testing office.

A “total ship survivability test” of the USS Fort Worth conducted off of Southern California in October “highlighted the existence of significant vulnerabilities” in the design of vessels built by Lockheed Martin Corp., according to Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of combat testing.

“Much of the ship’s mission capability was lost because of damage caused” by the simulated effects of a weapons attack and a hypothetical fire that followed, Gilmore said in an assessment for Congress obtained by Bloomberg News.




While the Fort Worth has never been in combat, it had an encounter with a Chinese ship in disputed waters of the South China Sea in May. Gilmore’s report, mandated by lawmakers, may add more congressional scrutiny of Navy budget requests for the Littoral Combat Ship, designed for missions in shallow coastal waters.

Plan B For Iran - Michael Crowley - POLITICO Magazine#.VYy_psJFDZ6#.VYy_psJFDZ6#.VYy_psJFDZ6

President Barack Obama’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran may yet fail. On Tuesday, exactly one week before a June 30 deadline for an agreement, Iran’s Supreme Leader delivered his latest in a series of defiant statements, setting conditions for a deal—including immediate relief from sanctions, before Iran has taken steps to limit its nuclear program—that Obama will never accept. Secretary of State John Kerry warned last week that the U.S. is prepared to walk away from the talks. And even if a deal is reached, the story is not over. The Iranians may break or cheat on an agreement, and try build a nuclear weapon anyway.



That’s why, at least three times in the past year, a B-2 stealth bomber has taken off from an Air Force base in Missouri and headed west to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. For these missions, the $2 billion plane was outfitted with one of the world’s largest bombs. It is a cylinder of special high-performance steel, 20 feet long and weighing 15 tons. When dropped from an altitude likely above 20,000 feet, the bomb would have approached supersonic speed before striking a mock target in the desert, smashing through rock and burrowing deep into the ground before its 6,000 pounds of high explosives detonated with devastating force.

US aim for ‘zero civilian casualties’ draws criticism | TheHill

US aim for ‘zero civilian casualties’ draws criticism | TheHill: U.S. and coalition air forces are aiming for zero civilian casualties in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), frustrating some lawmakers who say the military campaign is progressing too slowly.

While officials say they can never be absolutely certain of who’s on the ground, U.S. and allied forces are refraining from airstrikes against ISIS if there’s a risk of even one civilian casualty.





“There’s a target of zero civilian casualties, so if there are civilian casualty concerns, we would continue to monitor a target or a potential target to see if there is a way to mitigate that,” said an Air Force official.
In practice, the strategy means that sudden developments on the ground can often force pilots to call off airstrikes. If a car suddenly drives up to an enemy checkpoint, for example, a strike would be delayed until it could be determined that no civilians were present.

The focus on protecting civilians is adding a wrinkle to the U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, which is already operating without the help of “spotters” on the ground who can call in strikes on known ISIS targets.

“It’s insane. Seventy-five percent of those combat missions return to base without dropping a weapon,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said on Tuesday. “The air campaign is totally ineffectual.”

Military officials acknowledge the 75 percent figure but say it’s comparable to past campaigns.

Global publics support US and fight against IS: poll

Global publics support US and fight against IS: poll: Countries across the world have a favorable view of the US and its fight against the Islamic State radical group, according to a Pew Research Center report.

America's use of torture, though, was widely condemned, with people in the 40 countries included in the study declaring the practice against suspected terrorists was not justified.

Internationally, the global median of public perception of the United States was 69 percent favorable and 24 percent unfavorable. The US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against IS fighters drew 62 percent support and 24 percent opposition.

Those numbers were in stark contrast to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was generally viewed unfavorably abroad.

But the US scored less favorably when people were questioned about what Pew called "the harsh interrogation methods used against suspected terrorists in the wake of 9/11 that many consider torture".

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

McCain Accuses Republican of Funding Putin - The Daily Beast

McCain Accuses Republican of Funding Putin - The Daily Beast: Hundreds of millions in U.S. taxpayer dollars could be spent on Russian rocket engines if a tiny section slipped into the annual defense spending bill is ultimately passed.

Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is furious, calling it a benefit to “Vladimir Putin’s cronies”—and accusing a fellow Republican of trying to keep the cash flowing to Moscow. But the reality is there may not be an alternate to the Russian engines—at least not in the short term.

McCain has previously led an effort to ban the purchase of the Russian-made RD-180 engine, which is used to power Pentagon and U.S. intelligence community space launches, by 2019. He views the section in the appropriations bill as a threat to his prohibition.

“Why in the world would anyone think we would want to continue dependency on Russian rocket engines, which traces up to the corrupt mafia that is around Vladimir Putin?” McCain told The Daily Beast. “The American people should ask a question of these appropriators: Why are you taking care of Vladimir Putin’s cronies?”

The apparent bid to weaken McCain’s prohibition is being led by the powerful chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, a fellow Republican.

Newport News Shipbuilding breaks ground for new facility

Newport News Shipbuilding breaks ground for new facility: Newport News Shipbuilding has broken ground for a Joint Manufacturing Assembly Facility that will support the construction of aircraft carriers and submarines.

Initial phases of the facility, due to open in 2017, will feature production bays to improve construction efficiencies under current contracts for the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier and Virginia-class submarine programs.

"We aren't just breaking ground on a new facility, we're breaking the mold on how we build aircraft carriers and submarines," Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin said.

Work at the new facility will bring work indoors and feature multiple worksites, advanced technology, automated equipment, heavyweight cranes, large transportation doors and specialty paint bays.

General Atomics producing carrier EMALS system

General Atomics producing carrier EMALS system: The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear for the future aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy will be produced by General Atomics.

The company said the systems will be made under an undefinitized contract action from the U.S. Navy but did not give information as to its value, but an earlier announcement by the Department of Defense indicated it could be worth more than $700 million.

The company's work will include the production of equipment to support installation of EMALS and AAG into CVN 79.

"General Atomics is proud to be delivering this transformational technology to the Unites States Navy, now on the second ship in the Ford-class aircraft carrier, the John F. Kennedy (CVN 79)", said Dean Key, the director of Launch and Recovery Production Programs at GA's Electromagnetic Systems Group. "This is a great opportunity and GA has a great team assembled whose talents developing a first-of-kind system on the CVN 78 will allow us to pay that expertise forward for the CVN 79."

General Atomics said delivery of production hardware to the Huntington Ingalls Industries shipyard located in Newport News, Va., is expected to start in 2017.

NATO Refocuses on the Kremlin, Its Original Foe - The New York Times

NATO Refocuses on the Kremlin, Its Original Foe - The New York Times: After years of facing threats far beyond its borders, NATO is now reinvigorating plans to confront a much larger and more aggressive threat from its past: Moscow.

This seismic shift has been apparent in military training exercises in this former Soviet republic, which is now a NATO member and on the alliance’s eastern flank, bordering Russia.

On a recent day, Latvian soldiers conducted a simulated attack on dug-in enemy positions in a pine forest here as two United States A-10 attack planes roared overhead and opened fire with 30-millimeter cannons.

Two days before, a B-52 dropped nine dummy bombs radioed in by the Latvians on the ground — all just 180 miles from the Russian border.

The symbolism of the B-52s, stalwarts of the Cold War arsenal, was lost on no one. The bombers’ main mission once was to deliver a nuclear knockout punch to Soviet forces, but they were put to use for the first time over Latvia to show resolve on the new front between NATO and Russia, the heir of the Soviet war machine.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Navy Issues RFI for New Frigate Anti-Surface Missile - USNI News

Navy Issues RFI for New Frigate Anti-Surface Missile - USNI News: The Navy has issued a call to industry for options for an over-the-horizon anti-surface missile for the service’s future frigate design, according to a notice from Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) posted on FedBizOpps.

The request for information (RFI) — issued on June 15 — asks industry for options for a complete systems that includes the munitions, the fire control system and the launch system for the future missile destined for the frigate with an upward weight limits of 22,500 pounds, according to the notice.

The new OTH missile is a key component for the frigate design, as outlined in broad strokes in December by the Navy.

Since the Navy announced its decision to modify the two existing Littoral Combat Ship designs for the frigate, two systems have emerged as likely contenders for the OTH business — Boeing with a modified version of its 1980s era RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile and a Raytheon-Kongsberg team with Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile (NSM) based on Kongsberg’s Joint Strike Missile (JSM).

China aims to challenge U.S. air dominance: Pentagon | Reuters

China aims to challenge U.S. air dominance: Pentagon | Reuters: China is mounting a serious effort to challenge U.S. military superiority in air and space, forcing the Pentagon to seek new technologies and systems to stay ahead of its rapidly developing rival, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said on Monday.

The Pentagon's chief operating officer, speaking to a group of military and civilian aerospace experts, said China was "quickly closing the technological gaps," developing radar-evading aircraft, advanced reconnaissance planes, sophisticated missiles and top-notch electronic warfare equipment.

While hoping for a constructive relationship with China, the Pentagon "cannot overlook the competitive aspects of our relationship, especially in the realm of military capabilities, an area in which China continues to improve at a very impressive rate," he said.

China to Retrofit 172,000 Civilian Ships For

China to Retrofit 172,000 Civilian Ships For: China is set to retrofit 172,000 of merchant ships for military purposes so they can be used in the event of a war, another disturbing indication of growing tensions between Beijing and Washington, reports the Diplomat.



Chinese civilian shipbuilders have to ensure that their vessels can be used by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) during times of ‘crisis’.



While the recruitment of civilian maritime assets for military purposes is not unusual, the recent announcement is nevertheless a sign of the growing aspirations of Chinese naval planners in developing naval expeditionary warfare capabilities.



The Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily, citing a notice by the China Classification Society, reported Beijing has approved a number of technical guidelines to be adopted by commercial and civilian shipbuilders that will ensure new vessels will be able to transform for use by the military in the event of an emergency.



The new “Technical Standards for New Civilian Ships to Implement National Defense Requirements” will apply to five types of vessels: container, roll-on/roll-off, multipurpose, bulk carrier and break bulk.

US report calls for dual-capable F-35C and tactical nukes - 6/22/2015 - Flight Global

US report calls for dual-capable F-35C and tactical nukes - 6/22/2015 - Flight Global: A US think tank has proposed installing nuclear weapons on the Lockheed Martin F-35C Joint Strike Fighter for deployment aboard aircraft carriers as a hedge against Russia and China.

Clark Murdock of the Center for Strategic and International Studies floated the idea of a return to carrier-based nuclear weapons in a new report published on 22 June.

The US government has committed to outfitting only the land-based F-35A with nuclear weapons as a “dual-capable aircraft,” namely the Boeing B61-12 thermonuclear guided bomb.

According to Murdock though, the F-35C should also receive nuclear weapons in the future as a “visible manifestation” of the United States’ commitment to protecting its allies.

NATO head says alliance will more than double rapid response force

NATO head says alliance will more than double rapid response force: NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Monday the alliance will approve plans this week to more than double the size of its rapid response force, having already created a special spearhead unit in the fallout from the Ukraine crisis.

"NATO defence ministers... (will) take a decision to further increase the strength and capacity of the NATO Response Force to 30,000 to 40,000 troops, more than double its current size," Stoltenberg said ahead of a meeting Wednesday and Thursday in Brussels.

The US-led alliance set up what is known as the NATO Response Force in 2002, based on some 13,000 troops able to get to crisis hotspots much faster than its main forces.

But the crisis in Ukraine and Russian intervention in support of pro-Moscow rebels there, as alleged by the West, showed that the NRF might not be able to move fast enough in a vastly changed security environment, Stoltenberg said.

US Navy Plans to Equip Next-Generation Aircraft Carriers With Laser Weapons

US Navy Plans to Equip Next-Generation Aircraft Carriers With Laser Weapons: US Navy officials are pinning their hopes on laser and directed-energy weapons, claiming that lasers would even replace some existing missile systems, providing a much higher rate of annihilation. The US Navy is considering the possibility to equip America's next-generation aircraft carriers with powerful laser weapons, according to US journalist Zachary Keck, who has interned at the Center for a New American Security and the US Congress, where he worked on defense issues.

Citing Rear Admiral Michael Manazir, Director of Air Warfare, the journalist pointed out that the aircraft carrier is a perfect platform for the installation of laser weaponry. Currently this weapon can be used only for defensive purposes, but Rear Adm. Manazir believes that as technology gets more sophisticated, the US carriers will be able to boast new laser offensive technology.

"The USS Gerald Ford is able to generate 13,800 volts of electrical power, over three times as much as Nimitz-class carriers, which can generate 4,160 volts of electricity," Keck elaborated, adding that while some of this energy will be needed to power the carrier's Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), the rest of it can be used by laser weaponry systems.

Philippines in US, Japan naval drills amid China sea row

Philippines in US, Japan naval drills amid China sea row: The Philippines Monday began separate but simultaneous naval exercises with the United States and Japan, amid shared and growing concern at Chinese island-building in the disputed South China Sea.

Manila has been holding the naval drills with its longtime ally Washington since 1995. But the exercise with Tokyo, a World War II foe, is only its second ever after one earlier this year.

This week's Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) drill with Washington will include a P-3 Orion aircraft, of the type used by the US to monitor the South China Sea.

China claims almost the entire Sea despite competing claims from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, and has been taking strong action including reclamation to assert sovereignty.

"CARAT remains a practical way to address shared maritime security priorities, enhance our capabilities, and improve inter-operability between our forces," the US exercise commander, Rear Admiral William Merz, said at the opening ceremony in Puerto Princesa city on the southwestern Philippine island of Palawan.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Marine Ospreys reassure allies amid Russian saber-rattling

Marine Ospreys reassure allies amid Russian saber-rattling: The Marine Corps' MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor recently completed its first deployment to Romania as part of a multinational training exercise with European allies.

The aircraft's deployment sent a strong message about U.S. commitment in Eastern Europe, calming allies as they work to counter Russian saber-rattling, said Brig. Gen. Norm Cooling, the deputy commander of Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa.

"Exercises like Atlantic Resolve reassures our allies and deters [Russian President Vladimir] Putin in what he is doing," Cooling said, referring to a host of Marine training initiatives involving NATO allies, including operations by the Black Sea Rotational Force in Romania.

Escalating tensions in the region and ongoing intervention by Russia in Ukraine has some former Eastern Bloc countries — today close U.S. allies — nervous.

"If it is of concern to our allies, it should concern us because of our Article Five obligations," Cooling added, referring to the NATO agreement under which U.S. forces are obligated to respond to an attack on one of our allies. "Ideally Russia is not an adversary — if it turns around in Ukraine and gets back to their end of Cold War democratic transition to peaceful capitalism."

Navy experts call for more sleep for ship crews

Navy experts call for more sleep for ship crews: That's the unequivocal demand from Navy scientists and safety officials, who claim many sailors operate well below acceptable levels, and point to costly mishaps where lack of sleep has contributed. There's also evidence that adverse sleep patterns contribute to mental health issues and sleep disorders.

Experts have called for a number of changes, to include an end to five-and-dime watch bills (five hours on, 10 hours off), modifications to meal and meeting times, and elimination of disruptions in berthing areas. But change hasn't come easy. Many leaders see the call for more and better sleep as impractical without more sailors or a reduction in the work load. And old school leaders still see it as a weakness.

Those are the attitudes that the service's sleep advocates are tirelessly fighting, so they are arming fleet leaders with new gouge and best practices to promote more alert watchstanders.

"There is a great amount of science that has looked at the effect of sleep deprivation, but the military as a whole has not fully embraced the findings," said retired Capt. John Cordle, who has commanded two ships. "The question is, how to educate commanders on the science of sleep and get it in terms that they can relate to, specifically operational readiness."

Military considering ways to knock drones out of the sky - Baltimore Sun#page=1#page=1

Military considering ways to knock drones out of the sky - Baltimore Sun#page=1#page=1: or years the United States has enjoyed almost exclusive use of armed drones, using them to strike enemies remotely and with impunity.

But with adversaries — including ISIS — catching up on the technology, the Pentagon is now playing defense, trying to come up with ways to knock the pilotless aircraft out of the sky.

Much of the U.S. military's research into fighting drones is secret. But contracting and budget documents show that officials are exploring a range of approaches, from the tried and true — machine guns — to cutting-edge technology that includes electronic jamming and laser cannons.

Maryland, with its complex of military installations, defense contractors and research universities, is in the thick of the fight.

Marine Corps proves F-35B’s capability at sea, looks to future - Yuma Sun: News

Marine Corps proves F-35B’s capability at sea, looks to future - Yuma Sun: News



The Marine Corps F-35B operational test (OT-1) successfully concluded aboard U.S. Navy amphibious ship the USS Wasp (LHD-1).





Setting off from Norfolk, Va., on May 18, USS Wasp cut an arc between 50 and 100 miles off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina, as Marine Corps pilots safely conducted 100 short takeoff and vertical landing sorties from the ship.

 


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About 120 Marines from the following squadrons came together with U.S. Navy personnel, civilian contractors and partners from industry to make OT-1 a success: Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 22, based in New River, N.C.; Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, based in Yuma, Ariz.; Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, based in Beaufort, S.C.; and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadrons 13 and 31.
Four F-35B aircraft from VMFA-121 and two from VMFAT-501 participated in this test, with 10 operational Marine Corps pilots racking up more than 76 flight hours in the F-35B.
Over the course of two weeks, the Marine Corps and their Navy partners met the following OT-1 objectives: safely conducted 100 F-35B takeoffs and landings during day and night extended range operations; confirmed reliability of Block 2B software configuration; confirmed aircraft-to-ship network communications interoperability; trained and certified a new F-35B landing signal officer; proved the efficacy of the F-35B landing signals officer’s launch and recovery software; documented the crew’s ability to conduct scheduled and unscheduled day and night maintenance activities; confirmed the suitability of F-35B maintenance support equipment for shipboard operations; proved the feasibility of the logistics footprint of a six-plane F-35B detachment aboard a U.S. Navy amphibious ship; safely conducted day and night weapons loading.

US, NATO focus east, but for how long? - Europe - Stripes

US, NATO focus east, but for how long? - Europe - Stripes: U.S. plans to station tanks and other heavy weaponry in eastern Europe would be a clear show of increased U.S. and NATO presence in a region hungry for a tangible NATO footprint. But as the alliance looks to intensify its efforts in the east, it faces the dual challenge of averting a Cold War-style standoff with Russia and sustaining an operational tempo unmatched in recent years.

For NATO, the challenge ahead will be one of endurance as it works to transform itself in the aftermath of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine last year. There are already some indications of fatigue as the alliance presses ahead with a mission that is testing budgets, political will and alliance nerve.

“All of this is very expensive and it is running up hard against the limits of member states,” said Jan Techau, director of Carnegie Europe in Brussels, the European arm of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “It’s a question of staying power and how much political capital can be spent on this. This now is the big, big task.”

Re-purposed chutes save Special Operation Command money | Article | The United States Army

Re-purposed chutes save Special Operation Command money | Article | The United States Army



We are becoming a disposable society; one where it is easier to buy a new printer then buying the expensive ink cartridges. The U.S. Army Special Operation Command, or USASOC, is joining that society with its new cargo parachute systems.

With the defense budget shrinking, USASOC is trying to save every penny it can. Its latest cost-saving venture is the parachutes used in delivering equipment to Soldiers in the field. The Low Cost Aerial Delivery System, or LCADS, includes several different types of parachutes and containers, which are replacing the traditional cargo parachute and container systems that have been used for decades.

"The benefits of the LCADS are both cost and logistics" said Scott Martin, an equipment specialist for the Product Manager Force Sustainment System. "We developed the LCADS primarily to reduce operational costs and at 50 percent less than traditional parachutes. But as important was how LCADS made things more efficient for the Soldiers supporting airdrops in Operation Enduring Freedom [OEF]."

Martin pointed out one way LCADS is more efficient is that it comes from the manufacturer pre-packed and ready to use.

"Having the parachutes pre-packed allows the riggers to focus on building bundles and getting supplies delivered to the Soldiers at Forward Operating Bases [FOBs]," he said. "With the traditional parachute and container system, after the drops they had to be collected by Soldiers, returned to the main base and either be repacked or be prepared for disposal."

This has always time-consuming, often dangerous and ultimately expensive.

Cost-wise, the chutes are made of polypropylene plastic-like material, which is cheaper to manufacture than cotton/polyester cloth in traditional parachutes. This allows them to be a one-time use item when there's little chance of recovery (battle, terrain, etc.) They can be destroyed in the field and not have to plan for retrograde operations.

Ironically, some LCADS parachutes are actually derived from traditional parachutes.

A specialized subset of LCADS parachutes is called Low-Cost Low Altitude, or LCLA. These parachutes allow lower than normal air drops (150-300 feet above ground level) to resupply troops in combat areas. The parachutes used in LCLA are re-purposed, out of service, T-10 main and reserve personnel parachutes. These are parachutes, which are no longer safe for use by paratroopers due to their age.

"With the fielding of the new T-11/MC-6 parachute system, the Army made a conscientious decision to re-purpose the legacy T-10 main/reserve to a one-time-use cargo parachute," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 (P) Boyer, USASOC command aerial delivery advisor. "This re-purposing initiative saved the tax payer millions of dollars and allowed for a quick transition in order to provide necessary aerial resupply missions to the warfighter."

Friday, June 19, 2015

USS Jason Dunham Arrives in Kiel, Germany

USS Jason Dunham Arrives in Kiel, Germany



The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) arrived in Kiel, Germany, for a scheduled port visit, June 19.

Jason Dunham's visit to Kiel marks the conclusion of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2015, a large-scale naval exercise between 17 regional partners and NATO allied nations, which ended June 18.

Quote:

"I am extremely excited to make this visit during Kiel Week. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the hard work and dedication of my crew and every other crew that participated in BALTOPS 2015, than to gather here together with our friends and allies, and take part in this rich cultural experience. Over the past 10 days, we trained together with our naval counterparts from other nations as a collective fighting force and now we will have the opportunity to celebrate together," said Cmdr. Darren Dugan, USS Jason Dunham commanding officer.

Quick Facts:

The visit is scheduled during the city's annual Kieler Woche celebration, the largest sailing event in the world.

Tours of the ship are to be open to the public June 20 and 21.

U.S. Sailors are scheduled to play a soccer match with service members of other allied and partner nations.

During BALTOPS 2015, Jason Dunham participated as a member of a task group comprised of Danish, U.K. and German navy ships. The ship participated in exchange visits with vessels from Denmark and Germany.

The port visit to Kiel demonstrates the shared commitment the U.S. has toward promoting safety and stability within the region, while seeking opportunities to enhance interoperability with its NATO allies and partners.

Jason Dunham is currently operating in the Baltic Sea, working with allies and regional partners to help develop and improve our maritime forces, maintain regional security, and work toward mutual goals in order to advance security and stability in Europe.

Senate okays defense bill over White House objections

Senate okays defense bill over White House objections: The US Senate on Thursday passed a $612-billion defense policy bill, over White House objections, that allows lethal weapons for Ukraine, and virtually prevents President Barack Obama from closing the war-on-terror prison at Guantanamo.

The measure passed easily, 71 votes to 25. But significant battles lie ahead as Obama's Democrats, and the Republicans who control Congress, gear up for debates on spending bills including on defense for fiscal year 2016 which begins October 1.

Democrats have objected to the way the National Defense Authorization Act avoids congressionally-mandated spending caps by pouring extra money into a war-fighting fund that is not subject to the caps.

Top Senate Democrats wrote their Republican counterparts ahead of Thursday's vote, urging the two parties to enter negotiations to end the across-the-board budget caps known as sequestration.

"Members of both parties have long agreed that sequestration is not a smart, effective way to budget for our national defense and our domestic investment priorities," they wrote.

Obama and Democrats argue that any move to lift sequestration on the defense side should be met with similar action on domestic, non-military spending.

"We can not and we should not fix part of our government and not the other part," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said.

Philippines sets US, Japan naval exercises as China row simmers

Philippines sets US, Japan naval exercises as China row simmers: The Philippines is to hold simultaneous naval drills next week with key allies the United States and Japan, the military said Thursday, as Chinese building continues on the disputed South China Sea reefs.

The annual joint manoeuvres with the United States will include a P3-Orion spy plane flight and a helicopter crash and rescue simulation near disputed waters, officials said.

The exercises with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, only the second ever, will be staged separately, but in the same week as the US exercise, Philippine navy spokesman Commander Lued Lincuna said.

Lincuna could not immediately provide details of the second exercise but Japanese media, quoting unnamed official sources, said it would be staged in the South China Sea.

The Japanese media also said Japan would field a P3 surveillance aircraft.

"The joint training will help capacitate and familiarise our troops with modern equipment. There will be sharing of information, techniques and best practices on the tactical level," Lincuna told AFP.

He said the twin joint manoeuvres were not directed against China, which has built artificial islands on South China Sea reefs claimed by the Philippines.

Combat engineer specialty opens to women soldiers

Combat engineer specialty opens to women soldiers: The Army has taken a major step toward eliminating combat exclusion policies for women by opening some 20,000 combat engineer and associated skill positions to female enlisted soldiers of the active and reserve components.

Under policies now in effect, unit manning documents coded for military occupational specialty 12B (Combat Engineer), and seven related additional skill identifiers are available for fill by qualified women.

The associated ASIs are 2C (Javelin Gunnery), 6B (Reconnaissance and Surveillance Leaders Course), B6 (Combat Engineer Heavy Truck), D3 (Bradley Fighting Vehicle Operations and Maintenance), J3 (Bradley Fighting Vehicle Master Gunner), K9 (Combat Engineer Mine Detection Dog Handler) and S4 (Sapper Leader).

Women previously have served as engineer officers, and in 16 enlisted engineer occupations, with the exception of certain positions in special operations units.

12B had been the only remaining specialty closed to women. By opening the MOS and its associated skill identifiers, 20,563 previously closed positions are open to women.

The changes are part of an ongoing campaign to eliminate the Direct Ground Combat Assignment Rule by dismantling, in phases, policies that have barred women from serving in combat units below the brigade level.

US training fewer than 200 Syrian rebels | TheHill

US training fewer than 200 Syrian rebels | TheHill: The United States is currently training fewer than 200 Syrian rebels to fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Pentagon said Thursday.

Ninety rebels began training last month, but so far none have completed training, said Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren.





Pentagon officials acknowledge the program has gotten off to a slow start, but say they still hope to train up to 3,000 fighters by the end of the year, and 5,400 by next May.
"We are more interested in training the right recruits, so we are focused more on quality than quantity at the moment," Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Elissa Smith said.

Warren said so far there have been about 6,000 volunteers for the training, and that about 4,000 of those are waiting to begin the vetting process.

Of the remaining 2,000, more than 1,500 have completed pre-screening and are awaiting training, Warren said. Between "one and 200" are in training, and some did not make it through the vetting process, he said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged on Wednesday that the current number was below capacity.

"We have enough training sites and so forth for them; for now we don't have enough trainees to fill them," he told lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Congress approved $500 million in December for the program, which was expected to train about 5,000 rebels in about one year's time.

However, training began later than expected, after getting permission from four different countries to stand up the training sites.

Carter said finding the right recruits has been difficult.

US, Spain Sign Deal On Permanent Base For Africa Force

US, Spain Sign Deal On Permanent Base For Africa Force: Washington and Madrid signed a deal Wednesday setting up a permanent force of 2,200 US Marines based in southern Spain who can be swiftly deployed to crises in Africa.

The US already has a rapid reaction force of about 800 troops at MorĂ³n de la Frontera, near Seville, who were deployed temporarily in the wake of the 2012 attack on a US mission in Benghazi, eastern Libya.

Four Americans, including the ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed when dozens of armed militants stormed the compound and a nearby CIA facility in an hours-long gunbattle, which triggered protests that no US troops could be deployed fast enough to help them.

"The deployment at the Moron base will be made permanent with a force of 2,200 military personnel and 500 civilian staff plus 26 aircraft," Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said late last month.

NATO says implementing 'biggest' defence boost since Cold War

NATO says implementing 'biggest' defence boost since Cold War: NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday the alliance was implementing its biggest defence reinforcement since the Cold War, as the region grapples with terrorism and an increasingly assertive Russia.

He spoke a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would add more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year.

"NATO is facing a new security environment, both caused by violence, turmoil, instability in the south -- ISIL in Iraq, Syria, North Africa -- but also caused by the behaviour of a more assertive Russia, which has used force to change borders, to annex Crimea and to destabilise eastern Ukraine," Stoltenberg told reporters, using another acronym to refer to the jihadist Islamic State group.

"And therefore NATO has to respond. We are responding, and we are doing so by implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defences since the end of the Cold War and the Spearhead force is a key element of this reinforcement, and it's great to see that it's functional, and that it's exercising here in Poland," he said.

Navy Considers Laser Weapons for Carriers | Military.com

Navy Considers Laser Weapons for Carriers | Military.com: The Navy may outfit is new Ford-class aircraft carriers with a wide range of laser weapons to shoot down incoming missiles and eventually provide offensive fire power, senior service official said.

With this future in mind, the Ford-class carriers are built with three times the electrical power generating capacity compared to Nimitz-class carriers, Moore said.

The USS Ford is able to generate 13,800 volts of electrical power, more than three times the 4,160 volts that a Nimitz-class carrier generates, said Rear Adm. Thomas Moore, Program Executive Officer, Carriers.

As the technology matures, Navy leaders anticipate using a number of lasers to assist existing missiles designed for carrier defense.

"The current technology in directed energy, with the power and cooling required, means that the installations are big and they are heavy – but the technology is rapidly advancing. I’ve seen some concepts that start to get the sizes down," said Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, Director of Air Warfare.

While much less expensive than defensive missiles engineered aboard the Ford-class carriers such as the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and the Rolling Airframe Missile, laser technology requires a large amount of on-board, transportable electrical power.

Navy, Air Force to Develop Sixth-Generation Unmanned Fighter | Military.com

Navy, Air Force to Develop Sixth-Generation Unmanned Fighter | Military.com: by Kris Osborn


Navy and Air Force developers are immersed in early conceptual work on a new, sixth-generation fighter aircraft designed with breakthrough technologies and an ability to perform for both manned and unmanned missions.

Few details are available about the new aircraft, called F/A-XX by the Navy, because the early work is at this point purely conceptual, said Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, Director of Air Warfare.

"There is an opportunity to field an unmanned system in the F/A XX program. We are collaborating with the Air Force on the technologies that would be required to operate an air system that gives us enhanced capabilities in the future," Manazir told reporters June 15.

Air Force senior leaders tell Military.com they are working closely with the Navy on future technologies but do not yet have a platform identified.

"We are actively engaged with the Navy on the capabilities required to achieve air superiority to 2030 and beyond. As always, we’ll need the capability to sense and characterize the battlespace, then command and control platforms and weapons, all while surviving. As of right now, that does not translate to a next-gen fighter," Maj. Gen. Paul Johnson, Deputy Chief of Staff, Requirements, Air Force said in a statement.

The new aircraft will, at least in part, replace the existing inventory of F/A-18 Super Hornets which will start to retire by 2035, Manazir said.

Colt's bankruptcy not expected to impact military purchases

Colt's bankruptcy not expected to impact military purchases: One of the U.S. military's top firearms manufacturers has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Colt Defense LLC, the military-oriented branch of the firearms producer, filed for bankruptcy reorganization Sunday. The company produces the Army and Marines' M16 and M4 rifles, as well as specialty pistols for the Corps.

Colt officials say the filing should not impact military purchases since the company has secured funds to continue operating while it reorganizes its finances.

"The plan we are announcing and have filed ... will allow Colt to restructure its balance sheet while meeting all of its obligations to customers, vendors, suppliers and employees and providing for maximum continuity in the company's current and future business operations," Keith Maib, Colt Defense's chief restructuring officer, said in a statement.

Colt currently produces pistols for the U.S. military, including the Marine Corps' M45 Close Quarters Battle Pistol. A tuned M1911 patter pistol, the M45 is popular with elite forces like critical skills operators with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. Colt won a $22.5 million contract in the summer of 2012 to produce up to 4,000 for delivery by 2017.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

As Stress Drives Off Drone Operators, Air Force Must Cut Flights - The New York Times

As Stress Drives Off Drone Operators, Air Force Must Cut Flights - The New York Times: After a decade of waging long-distance war through their video screens, America’s drone operators are burning out, and the Air Force is being forced to cut back on the flights even as military and intelligence officials are demanding more of them over intensifying combat zones in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The Air Force plans to trim the flights by the armed surveillance drones to 60 a day by October from a recent peak of 65 as it deals with the first serious exodus of the crew members who helped usher in the era of war by remote control.

Air Force officials said that this year they would lose more drone pilots, who are worn down by the unique stresses of their work, than they can train.

“We’re at an inflection point right now,” said Col. James Cluff, the commander of the Air Force’s 432nd Wing, which runs the drone operations from this desert outpost about 45 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New authorization bill could revamp Coast Guard

New authorization bill could revamp Coast Guard: The Coast Guard could be facing a major overhaul as bipartisan reform legislation continues to work its way through Congress. The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 impacts everything from funding and structure to acquisition reform and accountability at the agency.

The House passed the bipartisan legislation May 18, and the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the Coast Guard, is working on its version of Coast Guard legislation, according to the committee.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the legislation is an important step in ensuring that the Coast Guard continues to have the resources it needs.

"As the process moves forward, I look forward to working with the Senate to ensure a strong final product," Hunter said.

The bill would authorize funding for the Coast Guard for the next two years — fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 — at the current $8.7 billion in funding. The two-year period helps provide stability to the Coast Guard and allows for better long-term planning, according to bill supporters.

Floating base named for legendary Marine arrives in fleet

Floating base named for legendary Marine arrives in fleet: The newest vessel in the Corps' amphibious arsenal carries the name of its most iconic Marine — and it is ready for action.

The first Afloat Forward Staging Base — the Lewis B. Puller — was delivered to the Navy in San Diego on June 12. The staging base is a variant of the Mobile Landing Platform, a state-of-the-art amphibious platform designed to act as a floating helicopter pad and special forces base.

The AFSB lacks the survivability of its namesake, or an amphibious assault ship, for that matter. But berthing for 250 troops, flight deck, fuel and equipment storage, and repair spaces make the AFSB a key asset for special purpose Marine air-ground task forces and special operations units. The AFSB's hangar has two aviation operating spots capable of handling MH-53E or equivalent helicopters. Its reconfigurable mission deck area can store embarked force equipment to include mine sleds and rigid-hull inflatable boats.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Army planning more combined operations with British Army | Article | The United States Army

Army planning more combined operations with British Army | Article | The United States Army



Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division and the British Army conducted the largest multi-national airborne training exercise Fort Bragg, North Carolina, has seen in a decade and more integrated operations are planned for the future.

The Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise, or CJOAX, in April focused on enhancing interoperability between the two nations' militaries, as well as on developing their roles as their nation's go-to force for immediate response.

The 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, or "Falcon Brigade" serves as the Army's portion of America's Global Response Force, or GRF. It has filled that role for eight months now and will continue to do so until the end of November 2015 -- for a total of 14 months.

"We are a no-notice, wheels-up in a minimum of 18 hours with a battalion-sized force," said Col. Joe Ryan, commander, 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. His brigade-sized unit would follow the battalion within 96 hours.

Partnered with the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division during the CJOAX was the United Kingdom's 3rd Parachute Battalion, 16 Air Assault Brigade. The 3rd Parachute Battalion serves a role similar to the current role of the 2-82nd, as their nation's crisis response force.

In April, more than 900 British paratroopers from the 3rd Parachute Battalion integrated with the Falcon Brigade for the CJOAX on Fort Bragg.

"That exercise was a significant milestone along the campaign plan of multi-national interoperability for the division," said Ryan of the CJOAX. He said that campaign began with an August 2014 exercise where B Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion was integrated under the command of 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

"The natural progression moved to a battalion, the entire 3rd Parachute Battalion underneath the command of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team," Ryan said. "And then the multiple enablers, echelons of enablers that the UK brought along with the warfighting functions, to integrate as seamlessly as possible with the other enablers in the brigade and should progress in the future to a relationship where the 16 Air Assault Brigade can integrate seamlessly under the command of the 82nd Airborne Division."

Ryan said there is opportunity for American units to integrate under British units as well. During one such exercise this fall, Askari Storm in Kenya, Ryan said the Americans are "committed to sending at least a platoon" to integrate under the 16 Air Assault Brigade.

During the CJOAX in April, brigade planner Maj. Josh Brown said he worked hand-in-hand with British counterparts to ensure that the integration was sufficient enough to reveal conflicts that would need to be remedied -- rather than designed to ensure that there were no conflicts at all. Rather than what Brown called "inclusion by separation," where the Americans and the British each had their own battlespace, the planners worked for far more integrated operations.

We "made the decision we would include them on all facets of the operation with the understanding there would be friction points," he said. "And with the intent to identify those friction points and what just didn't work, to progress along that line of effort with interoperability, specifically with 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3rd Parachute Battalion. It was a tedious exercise -- a lot of areas to continue to work on. It was proven that it could be done. It set the glide path for the future."

British Maj. Ivan Rowlett, commander, B Company, 3rd Parachute Battalion, 16 Air Assault Brigade said that in planning the CJOAX, planners had made a "conscious decision not to just de-conflict ops, as we had been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 10 to 15 years, but it was about creating friction."

In August 2014, when his company integrated under the Red Falcons as part of an earlier exercise, he said the experience provided his unit with the subject-matter experts needed "to feed back in the requirements and the training requirements of what we needed to get done and also the capability work which was primarily on the air delivery side, to enable us to actually deploy using American aircraft, American parachutes -- but still using our equipment harnesses and our kit."

He said a lot of work was done on air delivery, including putting British equipment on American aircraft. There were many successes, Rowlett said, but also challenges, including mission command.

"We found out that we are pretty efficient at executing operations," he said. "But there is still work to be done in terms of us being able to access all the data, to be able to plan operations at the right tempo, in line with the brigade. There are challenges that remain, but they are certainly not insurmountable."

Ryan said during the CJOAX the integration of US and UK elements was tight.

"We jumped side by side" off both U.S. and Royal Air Force aircraft, he said. And the U.S. did training on the British low-level parachute, while the British did training on the American T-11.

Ryan cited examples of British troops de-rigging a parachute-dropped American bulldozer, and British and American medics treating each other's casualties that had resulted from the jumps.

During the last mission of the exercise, Ryan said, "we primarily made it a 3rd Parachute Battalion-led operation to conduct a raid on the target, air assault with U.S. aircraft from the 10th Mountain Division. I embedded a U.S. company under [U.K.] command. We bounced our brigade alternate command post forward to maintain communications with 3rd Parachute Battalion, who then communicated to the U.S. company that essentially served as a reserve force for them to exploit success. It was as granular as it could get. We did everything we could think of to make it where the only difference between us was one side spoke better English. Then that's the level we wanted to get to."

COMMAND AND CONTROL

Both Ryan and Rowlett said there were command and control issues between U.S. and British forces during CJOAX, but not issues that were show stoppers.

"We have a work-around for every friction point we have encountered," Ryan said. "Some are more cumbersome than others."

One example of that, he said, is the "expeditionary digital support liaison team," or EDSLT, which puts an American Army battle command system on the secret internet protocol router, or SIPR network, embedded with a partner unit. Ryan said the EDSLT includes a team of Soldiers that "interprets and manipulates" command and control information for a partner unit, "so they can have a common operating picture with us, and they can add to the common operating picture from their perspective."

The EDSLT is "cumbersome" Ryan said, and it takes Soldiers from other jobs.

"We have initiatives to make that EDSLT [unnecessary]," he said. He said the plan is to use other systems and capabilities and to provide allies, the UK specifically, with Army battle command systems so they can operate them on their own.

Another friction point is sustainment of forces. Rowlett said he is suggesting there be an exercise where the two units rendezvous at an intermediate staging base, rather than starting off on an operation together, "to get a better understand of how that will affect the timeline in terms of notification to actually getting on target." That type of operation would also let both sides evaluate sustainment, by having to integrate two pipelines of support, one from the U.S. side and one from the U.K.

Despite a few problems with command and control differences, Ryan said the integration of U.S. and British forces during CJOAX was exceptional. He cites British commitment to the partnership as being key to that success.

"They are 100 percent all in on this," Ryan said. "They have been leaning forward and making sure this is a success. I think this is a testament to our shared vision of the world. They have given as much to this as we have. In our relationship with our allies, often times I think our going-in assumption is that the U.S. has to give, give, give, and give more -- because other nations cannot -- that we have to fill the vacuum. We have not found that in this relationship."

"They have given certainly as much as they have gotten. We have not asked them to give more, because they are all in on this relationship. We are proud and satisfied of their level of commitment and their level of will to engage in this relationship, left of the crisis, earlier than the crisis, to the point now that we are confident that on a distant battlefield, we can be more effective earlier."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

U.S. Is Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in Eastern Europe - NYTimes.com

U.S. Is Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in Eastern Europe - NYTimes.com: In a significant move to deter possible Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 American troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, American and allied officials say.

The proposal, if approved, would represent the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member nations in Eastern Europe that had once been part of the Soviet sphere of influence. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine have caused alarm and prompted new military planning in NATO capitals.

It would be the most prominent of a series of moves the United States and NATO have taken to bolster forces in the region and send a clear message of resolve to allies and to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, that the United States would defend the alliance’s members closest to the Russian frontier.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Russia threatens 'consequences' if US deploys missiles in Europe

Russia threatens 'consequences' if US deploys missiles in Europe: Russia on Thursday warned the United States of consequences if it moves to deploy land-based missiles in Europe in contravention of a key Cold-War era arms control treaty.

"It is clear that such actions would mean complete destruction by the American side of the regime of the treaty with all its attendant consequences," the Russian foreign ministry said, referring to the 1987 INF treaty on intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles.

"We urge the United States to ensure the full implementation of the INF, (and) not to threaten the feasibility of this document," the ministry said in a statement.

The two countries have accused each other of violating the treaty signed by US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.

US defence officials said last week Washington is considering a range of moves to counter Russia's alleged violation of the treaty, including bolstering missile defences or deploying land-based missiles in Europe.

The INF agreement eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with intermediate range of 500-5,500 kilometres (300-3,400 miles). The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Strain on Navy resources will cause Mideast carrier gap | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

Strain on Navy resources will cause Mideast carrier gap | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com: A year after Navy aircraft carriers launched an ongoing U.S. air assault against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, the Navy plans to pull its carrier presence from the Middle East this fall for as long as two months.

That gap - between when the current carrier leaves the Arabian Gulf and its replacement arrives - is part of the Navy's effort to regroup after years of what officials say was an unsustainable pace of operations that has worn down resources.

A Navy spokesman said the increased tempo of recent years has been compounded by the impacts of budget cuts and a fleet of 10 carriers instead of 11. That combination means the fleet has been overextending for years without the ability to catch up on maintenance and training, said Lt. Timothy Hawkins, a Navy spokesman at the Pentagon.

"When we responded to increased combatant commander demand for carrier strike groups in 2011, 2012 and 2013, we said we would have to recover our readiness in subsequent years," Hawkins said. This kind of gap between deployments will continue until 2020 to achieve that full readiness, he said.

Report: Readiness slipping on overseas-based Navy ships

Report: Readiness slipping on overseas-based Navy ships: The fleet's most ready ships are showing signs of wear and tear, a new watchdog report has concluded.

A Government Accountability Office report concluded that higher operating costs for forward-based ships, combined with a drop in training readiness and a rise in broken equipment, are proof that these ships are increasingly overworked and undermaintained.

The report, "Navy Force Structure: Sustainable Plan and Comprehensive Assessment Needed to Mitigate Long-Term Risks to Ships Assigned to Overseas Homeports," published May 29, details a troubling culture of pushing off maintenance for forward-deployed naval force ships, whose frequent patrols typically make them among the fleet's highest op tempo ships year after year.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert has made the 37 forward-based ships a central tenet of his strategy to increase presence in the world's most unstable regions while facing constrained budgets and a fleet whose size has stagnated in the past decade. Forward-basing, proponents say, allows the Navy to have warships ready to respond around the world without the lengthy transit times for stateside ships, noting that a force without these ready-duty vessels would need to deploy more ships for longer cruises, yielding more wear and tear.

Navy: Sailors laying groundwork for missile shield in Romania

Navy: Sailors laying groundwork for missile shield in Romania: The first sailors are now on station at the controversial missile defense shield in Romania, Navy Region Europe announced Monday.

The sailors arrived last month as part of an initial wave that will "lay the groundwork for a full team deployment."

The announcement means the AEGIS Ashore missile defense facility in Deveselu is a step closer to becoming operational. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly condemned the facility, claiming the shield is aimed at upsetting the strategic balance of power in Europe.

Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Lewis, the executive officer for the AEGIS Ashore Missile Defense System, said the advance team is setting up procedures and organizing workflow for the new facility.

"There's real value in actually seeing the facility first hand and formulating how you want to do business based on first-hand experience," Lewis said. "We can also liaison with the base team to formulate procedures and memorandums and understanding between us."

Next-generation SM-3 missile interceptor takes first flight - IHS Jane's 360

Next-generation SM-3 missile interceptor takes first flight - IHS Jane's 360: The United States and Japan conducted the first flight test of a next-generation Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), a larger and more capable version of the currently deployed interceptor missile.

During the event an SM-3 Block IIA Cooperative Development Controlled Test Vehicle-1 (CTV-1) "demonstrated flyout through nosecone deployment and third stage flight", according to a 6 June statement from the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA). It was launched from a Mk 41 launcher, prime-contractor Raytheon said in a statement the following day.

The missile launched from the Point Mugu Sea Range off of California with participation from the Japanese Ministry of Defence's Technical Research and Development Institute, the MDA, and the US Navy.

US and Japanese officials are jointly developing a 21-inch diameter variant of the SM-3 with larger rocket motors and a more capable kill vehicle, meant to provide faster speeds, greater range, a more sensitive seeker, and improved divert capability in the kinetic warhead.

The test was not meant to include an intercept and rather "evaluated the SM-3 Block IIA's nosecone performance, steering control section function, booster separation, and second and third stage rocket motor separation", Raytheon said.

The SM-3 Cooperative Development project began in 2006, with the United States' Raytheon contracted for hardware and system development and all-up-round integration, and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries working on second and third stage rocket motors, steering control, and the missile nosecone.

Army Aims for Bradley Replacement or Upgrade

Army Aims for Bradley Replacement or Upgrade: The two design contracts awarded by the US Army for the Future Fighting Vehicle (FFV) could yield a Bradley replacement or technology spinouts to upgrade the Bradley.

BAE Systems Land and Armaments and General Dynamics Land Systems won the contracts, of more than $28 million each. The work is due Nov. 28, 2016.

Following the last decade's failed 70-ton Ground Combat Vehicle and sprawling Future Combat Systems, deemed unaffordable or having requirements that are infeasible, analysts said the Army is taking a more pragmatic approach, exploring what is technically possible and financially affordable.

The decision to build a new vehicle will likely hinge on whether the technologies and systems proposed offer game-changing improvements, or whether incrementally improved legacy vehicles can provide significant performance gains at lower costs, said James Tinsley, managing director at the consulting firm Avascent. For industry, the stakes are high.

Robots can recover from damage in minutes

Robots can recover from damage in minutes: Robots will one day provide tremendous benefits to society, such as in search and rescue missions and putting out forest fires - but not until they can learn to keep working if they become damaged. A new paper in the journal Nature, called "Robots That Can Adapt Like Animals," shows how to make robots automatically recover from injury in less than two minutes.

A video of the work shows a six-legged robot that adapts to keep walking even if two of its legs are broken. It also shows a robotic arm that learned how to correctly place an object even with several broken motors.

Antoine Cully and Jean-Baptiste Mouret, from the Pierre and Marie Curie University in France, led the work in collaboration with Jeff Clune (University of Wyoming) and Danesh Tarapore (Pierre and Marie Curie University).

In contrast to today's robots, animals exhibit an amazing ability to adapt to injury. There are many three-legged dogs that can catch Frisbees, for example, and if your ankle is sprained, you quickly figure out a way to walk despite the injury. The scientists took inspiration from these biological strategies.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Carter Wants More European Defense Spending

Carter Wants More European Defense Spending: US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter remains concerned about declining defense budgets in Europe, at a time he says NATO is facing new challenges .

"In general, our view is they're not investing enough," Carter said of US allies in Europe. "We'd like to see more. We understand the economic circumstances in general, but still in all, security is a very important thing to be investing in.

"I certainly will be continuing to argue that the Europeans should be making bigger investments."

That call is likely to be repeated over the next month when a trio of major European meetings – the annual G7 gathering, the NATO ministerial and the Council of Europe – gather key European allies together, a defense official said on background.

Carter made his comments June 5 to a group of reporters, just hours after the conclusion of a major review of US strategy as it relates to Russia.

The secretary pointed out that a few years ago, the discussion revolved around NATO's lack of a mission in a post-Cold War era. Now, he said, the alliance is faced with two distinct, but serious threats, in the form of Russian aggression and the Islamic State, commonly known as ISIS.

It's something he equated to chewing gum and walking at the same time, warning that it requires new commitments from the partners not just in dollars spent, but how they are investing them.

In particular, Carter called out the need to improve the information and intelligence sharing capabilities between partner nations.

Merkel, Obama: Russia sanctions to stay until Ukraine truce implemented

Merkel, Obama: Russia sanctions to stay until Ukraine truce implemented: US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday that Western sanctions must remain in place against Russia until it complies with a ceasefire deal with Ukraine.

"The two leaders discussed the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and agreed that the duration of sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia's full implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine's sovereignty," the White House said in a statement released on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Germany.

Obama and Merkel held private talks ahead of the summit and the US president earlier urged his fellow G7 leaders to stand up together against "Russian aggression in Ukraine".

Peace talks on Ukraine resumed in Minsk on May 6 as clashes have intensified on the ground in a conflict that has killed more than 6,400 people since April 2014.

The negotiations are aimed at enforcing the implementation of a peace deal reached in Minsk in February, leading to an extremely fragile ceasefire that is regularly breached across the eastern conflict zone.

The Minsk deal, agreed under pressure from the leaders of Germany and France, states that all conditions -- including a complete ceasefire, the pullback of all heavy weapons and the restoration of Ukraine's border with Russia to Ukrainian control -- should be fulfilled by the end of 2015.