Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Air Force Delays New Bomber Contract by 'Couple of Months' | DoD Buzz

Air Force Delays New Bomber Contract by 'Couple of Months' | DoD Buzz: The U.S. Air Force is delaying the award of a contract to develop a next-generation bomber by a “couple of months,” a general said.

The latest schedule slip was acknowledged on Tuesday by Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy for the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, during a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

“This is a case, sir, where we need to go slow to go fast,” he said. “We’ve got a fair, deliberate, disciplined and impartial process anytime that we do a competition. And we’ve been transparent and working with industry trying to get this thoroughly done and documented so we can make that decision. It’s coming soon. That’s about as good as I can give you.”

Lockheed Martin moves forward with Space Fence program

Lockheed Martin moves forward with Space Fence program: U.S. government officials approved Lockheed Martin's design for their Space Fence system, which includes a large-scale digital radar and a turn-key facility, the company announced today.

The Space Fence is a next-generation space surveillance system being built by the U.S. Air Force. Its purpose is to monitor both artificial satellites and space debris that orbit Earth. The plans were based on an earlier system called the Air Force Space Surveillance System, but those plans were abandoned in 2013. Space Flight Now reported Lockheed Martin won a $915 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to build the "fence" in July 2014.

The project aims to allow the U.S. military to monitor tens times more "space junk" than it can currently with aging technology, meaning it will be able to catalog orbital objects more than 1.5 million times a day, and be able to predict space-based collisions.

Assessment of the Space Fence was conducted by the U.S. Air Force through the program's Critical Design Review. This three day process followed the delivery of 21,000 pages of design documents, and an eight-day Design Walkthrough. Steve Bruce, vice president for Advanced Systems at Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training business, is optimistic about the program's success.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Russians In Syria Building A2/AD ‘Bubble’ Over Region: Breedlove « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Russians In Syria Building A2/AD ‘Bubble’ Over Region: Breedlove « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: In keeping with its increasingly aggressive behavior over the past two years, Russia is deploying lethal and long-ranged anti-aircraft defenses to keep Western forces out of three key regions: the Baltics, the Black Sea, and, now, the Levant. From where NATO’s top commander Gen. Philip Breedlove sits, the Russian forces flowing into Syria don’t look like counter-terrorists out to stop the Islamic State, which Vladimir Putin has said is his highest priority. They look like the first pieces of a layered “anti-access/area denial” system that could complicate US and allied operations in Syria and well beyond.

“Anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD, is a growing problem,” Gen. Breedlove told the German Marshall Fund this afternoon, speaking just hours before Putin’s teeth-clenched meeting with President Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The northernmost danger zone or “bubble” is the oldest, based out of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad between Poland and Lithuania. “Kaliningrad is a large platform for A2/AD capability,” Breedlove said. His subordinates Gen. Frank Gorenc and Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges have warned taht Kaliningrad-based missiles reach well into Polish airspace and could shut down NATO reinforcements to the Baltics in a crisis.

Freezing U.S. out of the Arctic | Washington Examiner

Freezing U.S. out of the Arctic | Washington Examiner: U.S. national security leadership has put Arctic issues on the back burner for decades, focusing on global hot spots in the Middle East, Asia and Russia.

But the ice pack on the roof of the world is melting, and a surge of economic and foreign military activity is forcing Washington to take a hard look at how to fund polar priorities under an already strained federal budget.

While Russia is building air bases and search-and-rescue facilities in the Arctic and Chinese ships entered U.S. waters off the coast of Alaska, the U.S. lags at least 10 years behind where it needs to be in the Arctic, said Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard.

"Russia is building up capability that may be intended to deny U.S. access into that domain and to extend their base of operations as an offensive force targeting the U.S. using the Arctic as a base to carry out

Marine Corps could expand training mission in Ukraine

Marine Corps could expand training mission in Ukraine: Marine leaders are considering expanding the Corps' mission in Ukraine by training local troops who could be tasked with taking on Russian-backed separatists.

Marines could deploy to the Eastern European country to train the Ukrainian naval infantry, said Capt. Richard Ulsh, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa.

The move would follow a July 25 announcement by the State Department that the U.S. military would expand its mission in the country to include training conventional forces. U.S. troops were previously only authorized to train Ukrainian national guardsmen.

It also follows an 11-day exercise the Marine Corps concluded in Ukraine in late July. About 56 Marines from Minnesota-based 4th Law Enforcement Battalion participated in Exercise Saber Guardian, a multinational exercise.

About 1,800 military personnel from the U.S. and several European partners participated in Saber Guardian. The exercise was held at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center outside Yavoriv in western Ukraine, near Poland — far from Crimea.

Boehner Vows 'No' Government Shutdown

Boehner Vows 'No' Government Shutdown: House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that there will be "no" government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding, and signaled plans to pass the Senate stop-gap funding bill with help from Democrats.

"I expect my Democratic colleagues want to keep the government open as much as I do," Boehner, R-Ohio, said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

The interview was Boehner's first since announcing his resignation Friday.

The announcement came as Republican leaders spar over how to handle a series of budget extension proposals to keep the federal government operating past Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. Moderates within the House GOP caucus had been pushing for any plan that will avoid a shutdown while more conservative members had vowed to strip funding from Planned Parenthood programs at any cost.

New U.S. Navy aircraft carrier delayed for more testing

New U.S. Navy aircraft carrier delayed for more testing: The U.S. Navy has delayed plans for delivery by up to eight weeks of its latest aircraft carrier, Gerald R. Ford, saying further testing is needed.

The carrier, developed by Newport News Shipbuilding, was initially scheduled for delivery and sea trials by March 31, 2016. A Navy official says a new specific date for release will follow more testing.

"The Navy has identified a slight deterioration in the required progress on the CVN 78 shipboard test program," read a U.S. Navy statement on the matter, "the exact impact on ship delivery will be determined based on the results of sea trials."

U.S. Navy spokesperson Cmdr. Thurraya Kent says that despite the setbacks, the additional costs for the testing is covered under their budget, capped by Congress at $12.88 billion.

Monday, September 28, 2015

What's next for drones? Swarming, lasers, and wingmen, military leaders say

What's next for drones? Swarming, lasers, and wingmen, military leaders say: The next generation of remotely piloted aircraft could swarm enemy defenses, serve as wingmen for pilots, attack targets with lasers, or work as mobile weather radar.

Aerospace experts say that the technology is becoming advanced enough that drones can now take on a host of missions far beyond their normal reconnaissance and ground-strike roles.

“We’re just at the very early stages of what robotics and autonomous systems might do,” said Paul Scharre, a retired Army Ranger who helped craft some of the Pentagon’s drone policies while at the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

During discussions on the future of drones at the Sept. 14-16 Air Force Association national convention, Scharre compared the state of RPAs with aircraft after World War I: Everyone knew they were changing warfare, but no one was certain how to use them or what the extent of their capabilities would be.

Patching up X-37B

Patching up X-37B: The fourth flight of the mysterious X-37B robot spaceplane is still hard to decipher. For the first time, the US Air Force did not release any photographs of the spaceplane before launch. This has caused this analyst (and other boffins) to speculate that something strange is being deliberately concealed from us.

In previous articles for SpaceDaily, this analyst suggested that the X-37B that's now in orbit has been radically modified. It could have a different heatshield. It could have additional instruments bolted to its exterior. It could have been modified so greatly that it's no longer appropriate to call it an X-37B!

We have plenty of questions but few answers. It also seems to be difficult to get the answers we seek. The USAF is keeping silent on these matters. There are no statements or leaks through other channels.

Amateur satellite trackers are watching X-37B in orbit, but they have not produced any information that would help us to know what has changed with the vehicle. It's in a lower orbit than previous missions, but that doesn't tell us much.

This could have been done to expose the NASA materials samples on board to a tougher environment, where they will have better contact with the upper atmosphere.

Marine general sworn in as US military's top officer

Marine general sworn in as US military's top officer: Marine General Joseph Dunford became the US military's highest-ranking officer Friday, chosen by President Barack Obama as America's armed forces face an array of global crises and combat challenges.

Dunford, 59, replaces General Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Though the position has no direct operational authority, he acts as the main military advisor to the president and the defense secretary, and holds massive sway on matters of war and peace.

Dunford, who earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" as an infantry officer during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, ascends to the top of the military food chain during a difficult time.

Recent years have seen a resurgent Russia annex Crimea and aid separatists in eastern Ukraine, as well as the swift rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria that took the world by surprise.

In addition, the military is facing cuts if the Republicans and the White House can't agree on the budget.

Observers say Obama picked Dunford in part because of his ability to give candid and impartial advice.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Russia announces naval drills in Mediterranean Sea | News | DW.COM | 24.09.2015

Russia announces naval drills in Mediterranean Sea | News | DW.COM | 24.09.2015: Moscow has said it would hold "combat exercises" in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. The naval maneuvers in the region could raise tensions with the US, which accuses Russia of military buildup in Syria.

Marine Raiders will continue deploying to sea with MEUs

Marine Raiders will continue deploying to sea with MEUs: MARSOC will continue to support military operations in every theater across the globe, including missions from the sea, as Marine special operators embrace post-war amphibious missions.

Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, said his command will continue supporting a new concept in which teams of special operations troops from across the services deploy with Marine expeditionary units.

The first six-man Special Operations Forces Liaison Element wrapped up a seven-month deployment with 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in February. The team, which was led by a MARSOC officer and included enlisted troops from across the special operations forces, enabled the MEU to participate in 31 joint missions across two combatant commands.

SOFLEs are meant to encourage communication and coordination between Marines deployed to a region and special operations forces operating there. That type of coordination between the Marine Corps and U.S. Special Operations Command was a priority outlined in Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford's planning guidance and the Corps' post-war road map called Expeditionary Force 21.

Lasers could be mounted on aircraft by 2020

Lasers could be mounted on aircraft by 2020: While the Navy is already testing a ship-based laser in the Persian Gulf, Air Force leaders are looking to mount the weapons on AC-130 gunships and, eventually, on fighters like the F-22 and F-35.

Speaking Sept. 15 at the annual Air Force Association Air and Space Conference, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the leader of Air Combat Command, said he expects the service will begin mounting directed energy weapons onto aircraft within the next few years.

“Everybody thinks you have a tendency to talk about high-powered microwaves and lasers and it’s kind of science fiction,” Carlisle said. “But this is a reality. … I believe that we will have a directed energy capability in a pod that can be mounted on a fighter aircraft very soon as well.”

Carlisle said the technology will “change the game.”

“Imagine your ability to defeat an enemy surface-to-air capability with a directed energy weapon so you can penetrate an anti-access aerial denial environment,” he said, adding that the U.S. could develop the systems to protect its own airspace as well.

Experts said they expect lasers to be mounted on fighters starting sometime between 2020 and 2025. But smaller craft could carry them sooner. Defense contractor General Atomics announced earlier this year that its laser system had successfully completed testing, and could be mounted on the company’s MQ-1 Predator drones by 2018.

 Navy Set to Install Hybrid Electric Drives in Destroyer Fleet Staring Next Year - USNI News

 Navy Set to Install Hybrid Electric Drives in Destroyer Fleet Staring Next Year - USNI News: Next year the Navy will begin installing a hybrid electric drive (HED) system on 34 Flight IIA Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyers in a bid to lower the fuel costs of the ships, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) told USNI News in a statement.
The system, which will marry an electric motor to the ships’ main reduction gear to drive the ship at low speeds, promises to save the service thousands of barrels of fuel in over a ship’s deployment.

Earlier this year L-3 — the company was awarded contract in 2012 to develop the technology — delivered two pre-production HED systems for testing ahead of the first installation in the Burkes in the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2016 after research and development testing is done, NAVSEA said.

The almost $50 million program, to date, follows the lead of the U.K. Royal Navy which used a similar scheme to drive its Type 23 Duke-class frigates.

While the Burke’s four LM-2500 gas turbines are highly efficient at top speeds, the efficiency decreases at lower speeds, wasting more fuel.

Utilizing a preexisting quill drive in the main reduction gear, the HED motor is capable of turning the drive shaft and propelling the ship at speeds less than 13 kts. That speed range would work well with missions like ballistic missile defense or maritime security operations.

Climate change is major threat to readiness, expert says

Climate change is major threat to readiness, expert says: Soldiers can expect a range of new and more complex risks with the progression of climate change — and not just getting too hot, an Army scientist said at a forum on health readiness.

Soldiers face heat-related injuries, but much more than that, Army science adviser Dr. Steven Cersovsky told a panel on Tuesday. Climate change presents a major, multi-pronged threat to the military, ranging from increased disease to global instability that could push soldiers into a fight, he said.

Cersovksy is science advisor for the Army Public Health Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. He spoke at a "Hot Topics" forum on health readiness in Arlington, Virginia, presented by the Association of the U.S. Army. He described a variety of issues raised by climate change in a panel on "Enabling Health Readiness in a Complex World."

"We must understand what is coming and how these changes will affect our Army," Cersovsky said, according to an Army release. "And we must begin adapting now."

He said among the most obvious problems are heat-related injuries, already "unacceptably high in our formations."

Socom conference delves into partnerships of extremists, criminals | and The Tampa Tribune

Socom conference delves into partnerships of extremists, criminals | and The Tampa Tribune: What do Hizballah, an international crime syndicate called “D-Company,” and global drug cartels have in common?

Finding the answer to that question, and ways to stop the interaction between violent extremists and criminal enterprises, is the goal of a conference taking place this week at U.S. Special Operations Command’s headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base.

Socom is on the tip of the Pentagon’s spear for tracking violent extremist financing, working with the FBI, the Department of Treasury and other organizations.

The command’s annual Counter Threat Finance Working Group meeting is bringing together about 100 experts from the private sector, law enforcement, military and organizations like the FBI to help develop a “comprehensive approach for disrupting Transnational Organized Crime networks,” said Air Force Capt. Brian J. Wagner, a Socom spokesman.

The topic for this year’s conference, which began Tuesday and runs through Thursday, is “The Evolution of Transnational Organized Crime Networks,” and their relationship to sources of finance, Wagner said.

One of the objectives of the working group is to address the relationship between Transnational Organized Crime networks and terrorist organizations, Wagner said in an email to the Tribune. The mix of participants in the conference, which is closed to the press and public, is designed to bring a comprehensive approach to the challenge.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Russia vows to counter reported U.S. nukes in Germany

Russia vows to counter reported U.S. nukes in Germany: Tensions are rising in Europe as Russia's government announced it will take countermeasures if reports of U.S. plans to upgrade nuclear capabilities in Germany are true.

A Kremlin official voiced concern over the reported U.S. plans when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday.

"Certainly, it's another, unfortunately, very serious step," Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said. "Unfortunately, if this step is implemented -- and we can say they are confidently advancing towards its implementation, it may disrupt the strategic balance in Europe and therefore will clearly make Russia take corresponding countermeasures to re-establish the balance."

Peskov was not specific as to what exactly these countermeasures would include.

Military Analyst Again Raises Red Flags on Progress in Iraq - The New York Times

Military Analyst Again Raises Red Flags on Progress in Iraq - The New York Times: As the war in Iraq deteriorated, a senior American intelligence analyst went public in 2005 and criticized President George W. Bush’s administration for pushing “amateurish and unrealistic” plans for the invasion two years before.

Now that same man, Gregory Hooker, is at the center of an insurrection of United States Central Command intelligence analysts over America’s latest war in Iraq, and whether Congress, policy makers and the public are being given too rosy a picture of the situation.

As the senior Iraq analyst at Central Command, the military headquarters in Tampa that oversees American military operations across the Middle East and Central Asia, Mr. Hooker is the leader of a group of analysts that is accusing senior commanders of changing intelligence reports to paint an overly optimistic portrait of the American bombing campaign against the Islamic State. The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lockheed Martin introduces Amphibious Combat Vehicle candidate

Lockheed Martin introduces Amphibious Combat Vehicle candidate: Global security manufacturing company Lockheed Martin unveiled its new Amphibious Combat Vehicle 1.1 at the Modern Day Marine trade show in Virginia on Tuesday.

The ACV program was established by the U.S. Marine Corps to replace Amphibious Assault Vehicles in service since the 1970s. The ACV 1.1 designed to transport up to 13 Marines between land and water while providing a high level of blast protection.

Lockheed Martin's ACV candidate is built to be easily upgraded, with a design that allows growth for a wide range of weapons, sensors and communications systems. Company officials say the new vehicle, if selected, would be a boon to Marine Corps operations.

Marines send robotic dog into simulated combat

Marines send robotic dog into simulated combat: Over the last several days week, Spot, a robot dog designed by Google-owned Boston Dynamics, has been put to the test.

The four-legged robot served as a military scout in a variety of simulated combat drills at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia. Spot's initial tryout received high marks from participating Marines.

"Spot is great and has exceeded the metrics that we've provided," Captain James Pineiro, head of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab at Quantico, said in a news release. "The Marines [working with Spot] have been very receptive to the new technology, embrace it and came up with new ideas we couldn't even dream up."

"We see it as a great potential for the future dismounted infantry," Pineiro added. "We want to continue to experiment with quadruped technology and find ways that this can be employed to enhance the Marine Corps war-fighting capabilities."

The dog's missions included scenarios in forests, open fields and urban environs. One situation saw Spot sent into to an examine a potentially dangerous building before Marines entered. Spot can peer around corners in search of the enemy and offer immediate feedback as to the location of potential threats.

Bye Bye U-2: CIA Legend Allen Predicts End Of Manned Reconnaissance « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Bye Bye U-2: CIA Legend Allen Predicts End Of Manned Reconnaissance « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: “The world of manned reconnaissance is gone, and soon manned reconnaissance itself will be gone.” So says Charles E. Allen, whose opinion on such matters carries more weight than most.

Charlie Allen joined the CIA in 1958 and spent the last seven of his 40 years there as assistant director of central intelligence for collection. He was chairman of the National Intelligence Collection Board, coordinating all secret intelligence gathering by the CIA and a dozen or so other agencies. Allen also served as director of the CIA’s National Warning Staff. He predicted Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. He also pushed the CIA to use a Predator drone to find Osama bin Laden in 2000 and argued for using an armed Predator to kill him before 9/11.

Manned reconnaissance aircraft, especially Lockheed’s high-altitude U-2s and SR-71s, have “a tremendous history and rich history, but those are the historic days of manned aircraft,” Allen told Breaking Defense. “In the future, the history will be made by unmanned.”

Marine Corps moving 15 percent of its force to the Pacific

Marine Corps moving 15 percent of its force to the Pacific: North Korea is determined to expand its nuclear arsenal. China is constructing airstrips on artificial islands in the South China Sea. Russia is increasingly active in Japanese air space.

With key U.S. allies the targets of this aggression, Marine Corps leaders in the Asia-Pacific region say their greatest priority is preserving stability. And as tensions rise, the service is forging ahead with several big moves that will eventually place nearly 15 percent of the service's personnel in Hawaii and beyond.

Additionally, Marines are slated to partner with at least 22 regional militaries throughout the next year, Lt. Gen. John Toolan, the head of Marine Corps Forces Pacific, told Marine Corps Times. Notably, he said, "we are currently exploring options for greater amphibious engagement with India."

The Navy Department recently approved the Marine Corps' plan to move 5,000 Marines and their families from Japan to Guam. That will leave about 10,000 Marines in Okinawa, and 8,800 in Hawaii, Toolan said.

ISIS Brutality Rooted in an Apocalyptic Vision - USNI News

ISIS Brutality Rooted in an Apocalyptic Vision - USNI News: The extreme radical beliefs and brutal actions that caused al Qaeda in Iraq to fail earlier remain the heart of the success of today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), all because the political context of a decade ago and today have changed, a leading scholar on Islamic terrorism said Monday.

William McCants, the author of the ISIS Apocalypse: The History, Strategy and Doomsday Vision of the Islamic State, said the emphases “on state-building now” and “don’t put off the caliphate” because “we are waging he final battles of the apocalypse” are attractive to many young Islamic men across the globe.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think-tank, he said the political context of the early 2000s, when AQI took the field against a large American army in Iraq and a Shi’ite dominated government in Baghdad, has changed. AQI’s incredible brutality—public beheadings and other executions of anyone who did not believe as they believed or act in accord with their view of Islamic law—drove a number of tribes to link arms with the Americans in what is known as the “Sunni Awakening” and fight back.

Even core al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden then, were appalled by AQI’s actions and disowned it, McCants, a historian of religion at Brookings, said.

Pentagon: No more talks with Russia over safety risks for pilots over Syria - Stripes

Pentagon: No more talks with Russia over safety risks for pilots over Syria - Stripes: As Russia finishes its first major airbase in Syria with more than two dozen warplanes and new satellite imagery shows two more bases in the works, the Pentagon said Tuesday that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter does not plan to discuss deconflicting U.S. and coalition aircraft there without more Russian dialogue on political alternatives.

Carter had his first conversation Friday with his Russian counterpart, defense minister Sergei Shoigu. The two spoke at the behest of Russia, which has rapidly built an airbase in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad. On the Friday phone call, the defense leaders discussed their commitment to fight the Islamic State and began the dialogue necessary to reduce the risk to U.S., Russian and coalition pilots flying simultaneous missions over Syria’s skies.

The next discussion on deconfliction would depend on the Russians coming to the table with political options beyond bolstering the current Assad regime, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Friday.

US-trained Division 30 rebels 'betray US and hand weapons over to al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria' - Telegraph

US-trained Division 30 rebels 'betray US and hand weapons over to al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria' - Telegraph: Pentagon-trained rebels in Syria are reported to have betrayed their American backers and handed their weapons over to al-Qaeda in Syria immediately after re-entering the country.

Fighters with Division 30, the “moderate” rebel division favoured by the United States, surrendered to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, a raft of sources claimed on Monday night.

Division 30 was the first faction whose fighters graduated from a US-led training programme in Turkey which aims to forge a force on the ground in Syria to fight against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

A statement on Twitter by a man calling himself Abu Fahd al-Tunisi, a member of al-Qaeda’s local affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, read: "A strong slap for America... the new group from Division 30 that entered yesterday hands over all of its weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra after being granted safe passage.

"They handed over a very large amount of ammunition and medium weaponry and a number of pick-ups."

Obama's Islamic State War Czar Stepping Down - Bloomberg View

Obama's Islamic State War Czar Stepping Down - Bloomberg View

President Barack Obama is about to lose the man he hand-picked to build the war effort against the Islamic State. Retired General John Allen will be stepping down as envoy to the global coalition this fall, and the White House is searching for a replacement to be the face of America’s flailing effort to destroy the jihadist group in Syria and Iraq.

Allen will leave government service in the coming weeks, four administration officials told us. State Department officials said they were not ready to officially announce Allen’s departure, but he has notified his superiors he will give up his job in early November, after serving just over one year. His chief of staff, Karin von Hippel, will also depart, to join a British think tank.

The timing of Allen’s departure could not be worse for the Obama administration. The incoming Marine Corps Commandant, Lieutenant General Robert Neller, testified last month that the war is at a “stalemate.” Last week, the head of the U.S. Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, testified that of the 54 Syrian rebels trained and equipped by the U.S. military, only “4 or 5” were still in the fight. And now the Pentagon is investigating allegations by dozens of intelligence analysts that their reporting on the progress in the war effort was altered before being given to top officials.

U.S. officials familiar with Allen's decision say he has been frustrated with White House micromanagement of the war and its failure to provide adequate resources to the fight. He unsuccessfully tried to convince the administration to allow U.S. tactical air control teams to deploy on the ground to help pick targets for air strikes in Iraq. Allen also tried several times to convince the White House to agree to Turkish demands for a civilian protection zone in Syria, to no avail. Nonetheless, administration officials stress that Allen's decision to leave his post was motivated mainly by the health of his wife, who suffers from an auto-immune disorder.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

173rd Airborne in Ukraine; to expand mission this fall

173rd Airborne in Ukraine; to expand mission this fall: Troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade have begun their third rotation in Ukraine, and the U.S. soldiers are planning a new training regimen to better hone the skills of the country's active-duty force.

The U.S. and Ukrainian Ministry of Defence have created a two-month-long block of instruction as their guide to certify more trainers, said Lt. Col. Michael Kloepper, commander of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.

“They’re learning a lot in terms of how to counter drones and tanks and artillery,” Kloepper told Army Times.

The exercise, Fearless Guardian, has the same goal as previous rotations, to contribute to stability operations in eastern Ukraine.

But the training this fall will go a step further to simulate training under “increasingly complex conditions” for Ukraine’s security forces, Kloepper said, in an audio-recorded statement to Army Times.

“We anticipate the army forces showing up ... for a pretty rigorous program of instruction,” he said Sept. 21, six days into the latest rotation in Yavoriv.

Training for active-duty Ukrainian troops will begin in November.

Was Syrian Train-and-Equip Effort Always a 'Mission Impossible'?

Was Syrian Train-and-Equip Effort Always a 'Mission Impossible'?: A year after US President Barack Obama asked Congress for the authority to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces to fight the Islamic State group, a senior general has acknowledged the $500 million program is in tatters.

The administration’s stated campaign to destroy the Islamic State group, known as ISIL or ISIS, has hinged on the Pentagon’s repeated assertions that local forces must push back the insurgent fighters to ensure long-term security in the region. The plan was to train 5,400 local Syrian rebels by the end of the year.

Gen. Lloyd Austin, chief of US Central Command, disclosed that there are no more than five US-trained Syrian fighters left, and acknowledged the program may be overhauled. Austin also confirmed the Pentagon inspector general is investigating his intelligence director amid whistleblower claims that intelligence assessments were altered to show a more positive picture of US progress.

The damaging revelations about the program — which has been straining to recruit nationalist rebels to fight against the Islamic State exclusively, and not the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — renewed questions about whether it was realistically conceived or should continue.

Lockheed Martin, Roketsan to develop cruise missile for F-35s

Lockheed Martin, Roketsan to develop cruise missile for F-35s: A mid-range standoff cruise missile for use on F-35 fighters is being developed by Lockheed Martin and its Turkish partner, Roketsan.

The SOM-J will feature GPS guidance, aided by inertial, terrain-referenced and image-based navigation systems and an imaging infrared seeker. It will be based on the SOM missile developed by the Defense Research and Development Institute of Turkey and operational with the Turkish Air Force.

Roketstan is licensed by the Turkish institute to produce and market the SOM.

Lockheed Martin said the agreement of cooperation with Roketstan allows the two companies to build upon an earlier technical assistance agreement and will make the SOM-J missile available to international customers.

Cuts To Zumwalt Destroyer Won’t Save Much « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Cuts To Zumwalt Destroyer Won’t Save Much « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: The DDG-1000 Zumwalts are expensive; three ships will cost almost $13 billion. About $9 billion of that was spent on research and development alone. As a result, they’re the most sophisticated surface combatants in the Navy, with a radar-baffling hull and enough electrical power to run high-tech weapons like lasers and rail guns. To pack in all that technology, they’re also 60 percent larger than the standard Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) design. Originally intended as the follow-on to the Burkes, they grew so expensive that, in a classic death spiral, the Navy cut the production run repeatedly: from 32 to 24 to 16 to seven to three.

Now, according to a Pentagon memo, first reported by Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio, the Defense Department’s independent Cost Assessment & Program Evaluation office (CAPE) is considering cutting the third ship — which is in large part already built and paid for.

“If they wanted to kill the third ship , they’re about two years late,” said Loren Thompson, a defense industry analyst and consultant — and member of BD’s Board of Contributors — who’s criticized the Navy’s handling of the Zumwalt program. “You will lose an entire warship, but you will only reclaim a fraction of the cost. So, given the likely political fallout, why would you do it?”

Counting the current fiscal year (which ends nine days from now), Congress will have appropriated $11.8 billion for the DDG-1000 program, out of a projected total of $12.8 billion. So the maximum possible amount left to save is $979 million

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pentagon intrigued by breakthrough in cloaking technology

Pentagon intrigued by breakthrough in cloaking technology: An academic says he and his colleagues have demonstrated a major breakthrough in the quest for invisibility, and he has the military’s attention.

Boubacar Kante, a professor at the University of California-San Diego, and his colleagues tested the first effective "dielectric metasurface cloak." That's a fancy way of describing a super-thin, non-metal material that manipulates electromagnetic waves, including visible light and radio waves.

Those electromagnetic waves and how they come off an object are crucial to the ability to detect it. Radar can't detect a plane without radio waves bouncing back to a receiver, and seeing requires light bouncing off an object and passing into your eyeball. Manipulating those waves could, in theory, prevent detection, and in certain conditions, Kante said he can do that.

“I am very excited about this work,” Kante told Army Times.

Kante said he has been in contact with a Defense Department project manager and expects to be submitting a proposal this month.

First SeaRAM missile fired from U.S. Navy littoral combat ship

First SeaRAM missile fired from U.S. Navy littoral combat ship: The U.S. Navy fired a tactical missile from a Raytheon SeaRAM missile launcher aboard an Independence variant littoral combat ship in an August 14 test.

The launcher was used on board the USS Coronado (LCS 4). During the live-fire test, the SeaRAM fired a Rolling Airframe Missile that successfully tracked, engaged and intercepted an inbound threat target.

Rick Nelson, vice president of the Naval Area and Mission Defense product line at Raytheon Missile Systems, hailed the test as a success.

"This test marks a major milestone toward full operation and employment of the SeaRAM system on U.S. Navy ships," Nelson said, "SeaRAM demonstrated that it is a vital weapon for defending navies against anti-ship cruise missiles, and provides warfighters with a capability found nowhere else."

In addition to a live-fire showcase of the SeaRAM launcher, the demonstration was also held to study risk reduction in future combat and certification exercises for the LCS.

US defense agencies increase investment

US defense agencies increase investment: A new analysis by the Synthetic Biology Project at the Wilson Center finds the Defense Department and its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) fund much of the U.S. government's research in synthetic biology, with less than 1 percent of total federal funding going to risk research.

The report, U.S. Trends in Synthetic Biology Research, finds that between 2008 and 2014, the United States invested approximately $820 million dollars in synthetic biology research. In that time period, the Defense Department became a key funder of synthetic biology research. DARPA's investments, for example, increased from near zero in 2010 to more than $100 million in 2014 - more than three times the amount spent by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"The increase in DARPA research spending comes as NSF is winding down its initial investment in the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, or SynBERC," says Dr. Todd Kuiken, senior program associate with the project. "After the SynBERC funding ends next year, it is unclear if there will be a dedicated synthetic biology research program outside of the Pentagon. There is also little investment addressing potential risks and ethical issues, which can affect public acceptance and market growth as the field advances."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Navy Lab Studying Whether Smaller Ships Could Host Surgical Facilities - USNI News

Navy Lab Studying Whether Smaller Ships Could Host Surgical Facilities - USNI News: A Navy laboratory is investigating whether smaller U.S. Navy ships could host hospital facilities to support surgeries at sea.

Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division is looking into the possibility of conducting surgeries aboard the Littoral Combat Ship, Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPT) (formerly known as the Joint High Speed Vessel) and other “alternative platforms.” A Human Systems Integration Team, headed by NSWC PCD Biodynamics Laboratory engineer Eric Pierce, is hosting a proof-of-concept study from Aug. 31 to Oct. 9, 2015, to “deliver qualitative analysis to determine the feasibility of conducting select surgical procedures during high sea states,” according to a Navy statement.

“Once we have the study’s findings, we’ll take that information and give to leadership for further exploration to determine the feasibility on smaller navy vessels, using modeling and simulation of the high speed vessels and littoral combat ships,” chief of naval operations staff medical analyst Lt. Cmdr. Randy Dee said in the statement.

US Army Wants More Firepower across Formations, General Says |

US Army Wants More Firepower across Formations, General Says | A U.S. Army technology czar wants to arm the service's combat formations, from squads to brigade combat teams, with firefight-ending weapons.

"We are undertaking broad range of efforts to improve the lethality of our force," Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, director of Army Capabilities Integration Center and deputy commanding general of Futures at Training and Doctrine Command, told an audience at the 2015 Maneuver Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia.

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army emphasized armor protection over lethality and mobility, McMaster said.

"And so what we are trying to do now is ensure that every formation in our Army has the appropriate combination of mobility, protection and lethality to overmatch the enemy," he said. "We don't want 14-hour firefights. We want four-second firefights."

One of the goals of the effort is to build more lethality into the squad.

"We are weighed down; not as mobile as we want to be to conduct fire and maneuver and close contact with the enemy, so we need to lighten our kit," McMaster said. "We need to lighten what we are wearing for protection, but we also need to lighten our weapon systems and our ammunition."

This is being looked at under squad foundation of the Decisive Force Initiative.

Head of SpecOps Command: Decision on Women in Combat Imminent |

Head of SpecOps Command: Decision on Women in Combat Imminent | The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command said today that his recommendation on women serving in direct-action combat units would be ready in days.

Gen. Joseph Votel would not talk directly about the recommendation, but said that diversity was extremely valuable to special operations forces.

"I expect to get our recommendation on the behalf of SOCOM to the secretary of defense probably here in the next week," Votel told an audience at the 2015 Maneuver Conference at Fort Benning, Ga. "I will tell you from a SOF standpoint, from a SOCOM standpoint, we value people. People are our most important resource.

"We are an organization that the nation expects to be able to go out and work in a variety of different areas with a variety of different people. And so I would make the argument that diversity is extraordinarily important to us."

Votel's comments come on the heels of a recent speech by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who said that Marine infantry, Navy SEALs, and all other combat jobs in the Navy Department will open to women by the end of this year.

USAF general: Women in combat standards test can keep up

USAF general: Women in combat standards test can keep up: The results of this summer's test to set gender-neutral standards for combat jobs — which could pave the way to opening up the last six male-only Air Force combat jobs to women — aren't in yet.

But Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, the director of military force management policy, said Tuesday that many of the roughly 70 women who took part in the test at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas are certain that they kept up with the men in the test and — if they wanted it bad enough — could hack it as Air Force special operators.

"These 70 women weren't existing special operations airmen ... so these were volunteers from a variety of other career fields," some of whom came from desk jobs, Kelly said at a news conference at the Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference. "And they would say, in lots of cases, they were able to compete with and stay up with the men. There were some tasks where they would say that if they had known that was the task and they had the ability to train to that, over time they were pretty comfortable they would be able to do that."

When asked if most of the female test subjects had that confidence, Kelly said, "Absolutely."

USAFE Chief Calls For An F-22 Base In Europe

USAFE Chief Calls For An F-22 Base In Europe: In light of Russia’s recent aggressive action in Europe, the commander of US Air Forces Europe is calling for a rotational F-22 Raptor base in the region.

The Air Force last month deployed four F-22s to Europe for the first time ever as part of the European Reassurance Initiative, a Pentagon effort to soothe anxiety among European allies facing a resurgent Russia.

The move may be the first step in establishing a rotational base for the fifth-generation fighter jet, Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, indicated Wednesday at the Air Force Association’s annual conference.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Russia’s Assertive Moves Weigh on Pentagon Plans for 2017 Budget - Bloomberg Business

Russia’s Assertive Moves Weigh on Pentagon Plans for 2017 Budget - Bloomberg Business: Russia’s increasing assertiveness in Europe and the Middle East is reshaping the U.S. defense budget for the coming fiscal year, according to Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord.

“There will be changes” to budget requests from the four branches of the U.S. military to emphasize threats from Russia, McCord said in an interview. He didn’t elaborate on specific areas but said Russia’s emergence as a sophisticated actor in cyberwarfare is one “key driver” of the evolving U.S. strategy.

The services’ budget proposals are being reviewed and haven’t yet reached Defense Secretary Ashton Carter for final approval, McCord said. The fiscal 2017 budget request will be $547.3 billion, about $13 billion more than the fiscal 2016 request and about $35 billion over caps set by the the Budget Control Act, according to the Pentagon’s most recent five-year plan.

Boeing Positions F-15 as F-22 Supplement

Boeing Positions F-15 as F-22 Supplement: In an effort to extend its F-15 business, Boeing unveiled a new upgrade package for the F-15C design — one specifically targeting an air superiority gap left from the decision to cut production on the F-22.

The new design, part of an effort dubbed "F-15 C2040" by the company, would double the number of air-to-air weapons carried by the F-15C from eight to 16 while adding conformal fuel tanks for enhanced distance.

It would also feature updated electronics, including a long-range Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST) sensor and the already planned Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS). It would also feature an updated AESA radar.

Early Tests Show Female Airmen Can Perform Many SpecOps Tasks: General |

Early Tests Show Female Airmen Can Perform Many SpecOps Tasks: General | Preliminary tests show female airmen can perform many of the same battlefield tasks as their male counterparts in Special Operations positions, a general said.

The Air Force ran a series of tests involving 170 airmen, including about 70 women, between May and July at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, to predict how they would perform on a series of physical tasks required on the battlefield and for Special Operations jobs, according to Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, the service's director of military force management policy.

"In lots of cases, they were able to compete and stay up with the men," Kelly said on Tuesday during a briefing with reporters at the annual Air and Space Conference held outside Washington, D.C. He later confirmed they did so most of the time.

"There were some tasks and places where they would say had they known that that was the task and had they the ability to train to that over time they were pretty comfortable that they would be able to do that over time," he said. "They may have struggled that particular day because their job is maybe a desk job and they weren't able to do 100 pull-ups or whatever they were doing in that regard.

"But there was confidence that if they really had a desire to do that career field, and had the ability to train to it, the test subjects all thought that they would be able to accomplish the task and be successful," he added.

USAFE commander warns of Russia's growing air power

USAFE commander warns of Russia's growing air power: Russian air power is making serious strides, and may soon be able to compete with U.S. and NATO dominance.

Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, spoke to reporters about Russia's progress in air power development at the Air Force Association's annual Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition on Monday.

"The advantage that we had from the air, I can honestly say, is shrinking, not only with respect to the aircraft that they're producing, but the more alarming thing is their ability to create anti-access, area denied areas is a challenge that we're all going to face up to," Gen. Gorenc said.

Improvements in Russia's air power include modernized surface-to-air missile defenses and remotely piloted aircraft. Russia has also shown significant gains in developing defenses against U.S. stealth fighters and bombers, developments Gen. Gorenc calls "alarming."

U.S. troops begin training Ukraine's active-duty military

U.S. troops begin training Ukraine's active-duty military: U.S. military assistance to Ukraine expands to include training of active-duty troops in addition to the country's recently formed national guard.

A new rotation of troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade are set to train up to five battalions of Ukrainian soldiers, as the conflict with Russian-backed rebels in Eastern Ukraine continues. The paratroops are no strangers to the region, rotating soldiers into the country for the program known as Fearless Guardian since April. The program's goal is to beef up and reform the Ukrainian military.

Training exercises will focus on marksmanship, small unit tactical planning, and counter drone surveillance. Many of the trainees have seen plenty of action already, returning from front-line battles against eastern Ukrainian separatists.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

US Air Force to Deploy More A-10s to Europe This Month, General Says |

US Air Force to Deploy More A-10s to Europe This Month, General Says | The U.S. Air Force this month plans to deploy another squadron of A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft to Europe in support of NATO allies amid Russian military activity in the region, a top general said.

The 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia will send a dozen more of the Cold War-era gunships, known as Warthogs, as part of a second theater security package, Gen. Frank Gorenc, the service's European commander, said during a briefing with reporters Monday at the Air and Space Conference. The plane will join a number of U.S. aircraft that have recently flown missions around the continent, including the F-15 Eagle and the F-22 Raptor.

"We've had the A-10s and F-15s all over the continent in many countries, 20-plus countries, that they engaged with ... and so they've been out and about doing particularly JTAC training -- joint terminal attack controller training -- and then to support Gen. Hodges with all of the rotation force that the Army is bringing in," Gorenc said, referring to the additional soldiers cycling through the region under the supervision of Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the service's European commander.

The U.S. brought the tank busters stateside in 2013 as part of a consolidation of bases and equipment in Europe. But it sent them back to the continent as part of a theater security package earlier this year -- including countries in the former Soviet bloc -- in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and support for pro-Russian separatists.

U.S. Air Force upgrades to Northrop's spyplane may cost half of prior estimate | Reuters

U.S. Air Force upgrades to Northrop's spyplane may cost half of prior estimate | Reuters: Upgrades for theNorthrop Grumman Corp high-altitude, unmanned GlobalHawk surveillance aircraft could cost as little as half theprevious estimate of $4 billion, a senior U.S. Air Forceofficial said Monday.

Lieutenant General Robert Otto, deputy chief of staff forintelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said two keyupgrades were needed for the Global Hawks: a new electro-opticalsensor and an optical camera with a wider field of view.

Both items could be added to the Northrop drone for perhapsas little as half the earlier estimate of $4 billion, he said.

The Air Force still hopes to retire its aging fleet ofmanned U-2 spy planes built by Lockheed Martin Corp because it could not afford two high-altitude surveillanceaircraft. The upgrades would be needed for the Global Hawksbefore the U-2 could be retired.

"We love the U-2 (but) we cannot afford both platforms,"Otto told reporters at the annual Air Force Associationconference, saying declining operating costs made the GlobalHawks the preferred option.

Air Force Ready to Open All Combat Jobs to Women, Secretary Says |

Air Force Ready to Open All Combat Jobs to Women, Secretary Says | The Air Force is ready to lift all restrictions on combat jobs and other military occupational specialties for women and also is taking a "lean forward" approach on allowing transgender airmen to serve openly, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Monday.

"I don't see any barriers to opening up those remaining career fields" that are still closed to women so long as gender-neutral standards are kept in place, she said to applause from the audience at the Air and Space Conference, held in National Harbor, Maryland, and sponsored by the Air Force Association.

James also said the service was "looking to see if there are ways that we can make reasonable accommodations" for transgender airmen.

The controversial issue of lifting restrictions on women serving in combat MOSs -- mostly in the infantry, armor and artillery -- will come to a head at the end of the month. That's when the services must report to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on whether they will seek "exceptions" to the 2013 order from then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to gender integrate all billets.

The Marine Corps last week said that its extensive testing of mixed-gender units in combat training showed that women were more prone to injury and also that such outfits failed to perform as well as all-male units.

James said the Air Force has been the most aggressive of the services in lifting restrictions on women and that now only seven MOSs in Special Operations remain closed to them.

F-35 could deploy quickly after IOC next year, general says

F-35 could deploy quickly after IOC next year, general says: The F-35 could deploy overseas as soon as it reaches initial operating capability in 2016, said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, director of the Air Force's F-35 Integration Office.

"When you're at CENTCOM, you don't request a specific jet, you request the capability," Harrigian said Monday at the Air Force Association's Air and Space Conference. "When we declare IOC, the F-35 will be on the list of capabilities that will be available."

The decision of when F-35s will be deployed lies with Gen. Hawk Carlisle, who leads Air Combat Command, Harrigian said.

Here Are A Few Things the New Air Force Bomber Will Do Besides Drop Bombs - Defense One

Here Are A Few Things the New Air Force Bomber Will Do Besides Drop Bombs - Defense One: For years, the Long Range Strike Bomber project has been shrouded in secrecy, likely at Area 51, the Air Force’s top-secret proving ground deep in the Nevada desert. Service leaders say little beyond that they plan to buy 80 and 100 aircraft for about $550 million each, and will award a contract “soon” to either Northrop Grumman or a Boeing-Lockheed Martin team — perhaps at this week’s Air Force Association convention just outside Washington, D.C.

General Dynamics Destroyer Reviewed by U.S. for Cancellation - Bloomberg Business

General Dynamics Destroyer Reviewed by U.S. for Cancellation - Bloomberg Business: Pentagon officials are weighing whether to cancel the last of three ships in General Dynamics Corp.’s $22 billion program to build new destroyers even though the vessel is already under construction.

Canceling the USS Lyndon B. Johnson, a Zumwalt-class destroyer, is a topic that’s “to be reviewed in the next few weeks” by teams formed by the Pentagon’s independent cost-assessment office, according to a Defense Department briefing document dated Aug. 25. Two officials familiar with the issue confirmed that cancellation discussions are under way although no decision has been made.

The Zumwalt-class destroyer is designed as a multimission land-attack vessel that will use electricity generated by gas turbines to power all of its systems, including weapons. The cancellation discussions, part of planning for the fiscal 2017 budget, are the latest twist for a program that’s been buffeted by delays, rising costs and changing plans.

Okinawa to revoke approval for controversial US base

Okinawa to revoke approval for controversial US base: The governor of Okinawa said Monday he will revoke approval for work on a US air base in southern Japan, in the latest setback to the controversial plan.

The proposal to relocate Futenma air base to the Henoko region, first mooted in 1996, has become the focus of anger among locals, who insist it should be shut and a replacement built elsewhere in Japan or overseas.

Outspoken Okinawa governor Takeshi Onaga said his government has began procedures to cancel approval, just two days after work in Henoko resumed following a month-long delay, according to the prefecture.

"We'll do our best by using every possible measure to block the construction of a new base in Henoko as promised during our election campaign," he told a press conference, adding that "defects" had been found in the approval given by his predecessor in 2013.

DOD starting new entity for sharing space information

DOD starting new entity for sharing space information: A Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center is being created by the U.S. military for better information sharing.

The center, with the acronym JICSpOC, is to be located at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. It is being established by the Department of Defense in conjunction with the U.S. Strategic Command, Air Force Space Command, and the intelligence community.

The new JICSpOC, the Defense Department said, will improve processes and procedures to ensure data fusion among those involved with space operations, such as the DOD, the intelligence community, allied and commercial space entities.

It will also have embedded capabilities to provide backup to the Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC, at Vanderberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Poland to Receive U.S. cruise missiles

Poland to Receive U.S. cruise missiles: The Polish Air Force is receiving Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles from Lockheed Martin for its fleet of F-16 fighters.

The contract for the air-to-ground cruise missiles comes as a result of a U.S. Foreign Military Sales deal for Poland announced last year.

That package, worth about $500 million, was for 40 AGM-158 JASSM missiles and upgrades to the aircraft.

"JASSM provides Poland with operational flexibility, reliability and mission effectiveness to meet their national defense requirements," said Joe Garland, vice president of business development at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "JASSM gives our allies a powerful, vital and affordable cruise missile capability."

JASSM is a stealthy, precision-guided cruise missile that employes an infrared seeker and an enhanced digital anti-jam Global Positioning System. It is integrated on the U.S. Air Force's B-1, B-2, B-52, F-16 and F-15E. Internationally, it can also be used by F/A-18A/B and the F-18C/D aircraft.

Friday, September 11, 2015

McMaster Teases Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy To Be Revealed at AUSA

McMaster Teases Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy To Be Revealed at AUSA: The head of the Army Capabilities Integration Center said today the service will unveil its combat vehicle modernization strategy at the Association of the United States Army's annual convention in Washington next month.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the champion of the Army's operating concept "Win in a Complex World" revealed at AUSA's main event last year, said the new vehicle strategy has taken shape through the lens of the concept and will take into account a new balance of mobility, protection and lethality in combat vehicle missions.

McMaster said in the past that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan caused the Army to rightfully focus on vehicle protection at the expense of mobility and lethality, but now it's time to focus on all three, although he acknowledged there will need to be tradeoffs.

The Army vice chief of staff already signed off on the strategy, McMaster said at an AUSA breakfast on Sept. 10 in Arlington, Va.

McMaster said one of the Army's current priorities for infantry brigade combat teams is to give them a high degree of mobility; capability that allows them to respond quickly, with low logistics demand and also the ability to operate in restricted and urban terrain.

'Human-Machine Collaboration' Could Be Key to New Offset Strategy

'Human-Machine Collaboration' Could Be Key to New Offset Strategy: In the midst of Britain's Strategic Defense and Security Review (SDSR), US Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work let a European audience in on the thinking behind the US response to the rise of powerful potential adversaries armed with increasingly sophisticated weapons using conventional and nonconventional strategic approaches.

"The third offset strategy will be based on increased human-machine collaboration and combat-teaming," Work declared. Work's comments were taken from a late draft provided by the Pentagon.

The increasing effectiveness of unmanned systems, he noted, particularly autonomous systems capable of learning operations, will result in increasingly dynamic operations. "When combined with human-machine combat learning, these smaller dynamic systems will be even more agile, lethal and effective," he said Thursday during an address at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) here.

"The margin of technological superiority the West has enjoyed for the past 25 years — particularly in guided munitions — is eroding," he said, explaining the need for a strategy to offset enemy strengths.

DIA chief: Iraq and Syria may not survive as states

DIA chief: Iraq and Syria may not survive as states: Iraq and Syria may have been permanently torn asunder by war and sectarian tensions, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Thursday in a frank assessment that is at odds with Obama administration policy.

"I'm having a tough time seeing it come back together," Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart told an industry conference, speaking of Iraq and Syria, both of which have seen large chunks territory seized by the Islamic State.

On Iraq, Stewart said he is "wrestling with the idea that the Kurds will come back to a central government of Iraq," suggesting he believed it was unlikely. On Syria, he added: "I can see a time in the future where Syria is fractured into two or three parts."

That is not the U.S. goal, he said, but it's looking increasingly likely.

CIA Director John Brennan, speaking on the same panel at an industry conference, noted that the countries' borders remain in place, but the governments have lost control of them. A self-declared caliphate by the Islamic State straddles the border between both countries.

US intelligence official warns of evolving cyber threats

US intelligence official warns of evolving cyber threats: A top US intelligence official warned Thursday of an evolving cyber security threat that will see criminals not just stealing data, but actively altering or deleting it.

Speaking to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, heads of several top security agencies, still reeling from a string of high-profile hacks, spoke about the vulnerabilities faced by government and businesses in America.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said attacks typically have involved the disruption of a website or massive thefts of information -- such as the devastating hack of government databases that saw the theft of personal details of millions of federal workers and contractors.

"I believe that the next push on the envelope here is going to be the manipulation and deletion of data," Clapper said.

In written comments to the committee, Clapper said there may be more cyber operations that will change or manipulate electronic information in order to compromise its accuracy and reliability.

US intel analysts revolt over rosy IS assessments: Daily Beast

US intel analysts revolt over rosy IS assessments: Daily Beast: More than 50 US intelligence analysts have complained that senior military officials altered reports so as to downplay the strength of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, the Daily Beast reported Thursday.

The online news outlet said senior officials at US Central Command changed the reports to bring them into line with the White House's rosier public view that the United States was winning the war against the militant groups.

"The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command," the report quoted a defense official as saying.

It said the revolt came to a head when two senior analysts at Centcom signed and sent a written complaint to the Defense Department inspector general in July alleging that reports, including some presented in briefings to President Barack Obama, portrayed the groups as weaker than the analysts believed they were.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Russia Answers U.S. Criticism Over Military Aid to Syria - The New York Times

Russia Answers U.S. Criticism Over Military Aid to Syria - The New York Times: The Foreign Ministry here expressed surprise on Monday over an American warning to Russia against escalating the conflict in Syria, saying that the Kremlin’s Syrian policy — in particular furnishing military aid to help the government confront extremist forces — had been consistent for years.

“We have always supplied equipment to them for their struggle against terrorists,” Maria V. Zakharova, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said in an interview. “We are supporting them, we were supporting them and we will be supporting them” in that fight.

The sharp exchanges over Russian military aid to the Syrian government appeared to have dampened a brief spirit of cooperation, starting in early August, when Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia agreed on a renewed effort to reach a political solution to the Syria crisis.

Continue reading the main story

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Some analysts see any possible Russian move to strengthen military aid now as a maneuver by President Vladimir V. Putin to embarrass the United States.

Monday, September 7, 2015

U.S. Revamping Rebel Force Fighting ISIS in Syria - The New York Times

U.S. Revamping Rebel Force Fighting ISIS in Syria - The New York Times:

In an acknowledgment of severe shortcomings in its effort to create a force of moderate rebels to battle the Islamic State in Syria, the Pentagon is drawing up plans to significantly revamp the program by dropping larger numbers of fighters into safer zones as well as providing better intelligence and improving their combat skills.

The proposed changes come after a Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda attacked, in late July, many of the first 54 Syrian graduates of the military’s training program and the rebel unit they came from. A day before the attack, two leaders of the American-backed group and several of its fighters were captured.
The encounter revealed several glaring deficiencies in the program, according to classified assessments: The rebels were ill-prepared for an enemy attack and were sent back into Syria in too small numbers. They had no local support from the population and had poor intelligence about their foes. They returned to Syria during the Eid holiday, and many were allowed to go on leave to visit relatives, some in refugee camps in Turkey — and these movements likely tipped off adversaries to their mission. Others could not return because border crossings were closed.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Germany and Sweden Are Said to Help Make Afghan ‘Kill Decisions’ - The New York Times

Germany and Sweden Are Said to Help Make Afghan ‘Kill Decisions’ - The New York Times: Two European allies of the United States have been directly participating in so-called kill decisions against insurgents in Afghanistan despite rules prohibiting them from doing so, according to two senior Western officials with knowledge of the operations.

The accusations concern airstrikes, mostly by drones, that American officials have justified as part of a lasting counterterrorism mission agreed to with the Afghan government. However, some of the strikes have come under question as being far more aggressive than the security deal allows for.

The two countries said to be improperly involved in approving strike decisions — Germany, a NATO member of the coalition in Afghanistan, and Sweden, which is not a member of NATO — as well as a spokesman for the American-led military coalition all denied that anyone other than the United States military had been involved in targeting insurgents.

Russian Moves in Syria Pose Concerns for U.S. - The New York Times

Russian Moves in Syria Pose Concerns for U.S. - The New York Times: Russia has sent a military advance team to Syria and is taking other steps the United States fears may signal that President Vladimir V. Putin is planning to vastly expand his military support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, administration officials said Friday.

The Russian moves, including the recent transport of prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to a Syrian airfield and the delivery of a portable air traffic control station there, are another complicating factor in Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated efforts to enlist Mr. Putin’s support for a diplomatic solution to the bloody conflict in Syria.

The Russians have also filed military overflight requests with neighboring countries through September.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Special ops diversity woes dog Pentagon

Special ops diversity woes dog Pentagon: Concerns about diversity in special operations forces within the Pentagon — and on Capitol Hill — date back to the mid-1990s, but a host of social issues have kept the elite forces disproportionately white more than 15 years later.

U.S. Special Operations Command leaders, spurred by concern in the House of Representatives, commissioned a report in 1999 by the RAND National Defense Research Institute to determine why so few minorities joined special operations forces like the Navy SEALs and the Army's Green Berets. Many of the issues found then — passing the rigorous swimming test, for example — remain barriers to diversifying their ranks, according to a senior Pentagon official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Last month, USA TODAY reported that despite the emphasis placed on diversifying the military by officials such as Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the top officer at Special Operations Command, the military's most elite forces continue to be led and manned mainly by white officers and troops. Military records show that African Americans make up 1% of the Navy SEAL officers despite outreach programs that have been in place for years.

A New Class of Ship — 'Expeditionary Support'

A New Class of Ship — 'Expeditionary Support': There are different kinds of submarines, of destroyers and amphibious ships, of patrol and support ships. The US Navy’s unique designation system defines all of them, starting with a root type, like SS for submarine, adding an N for nuclear, adding a G for guided missiles or a B for ballistic missiles.

Now there’s a new root designator — E for expeditionary support.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, working with Adm. Jon Greenert, chief of naval operations, signed off on the E plan and changed the designations of three kinds of ships to the new category:

JHSV joint high-speed vessels will become EPF, for expeditionary fast transport.
MLP mobile landing platforms are now ESD, expeditionary transfer docks.
And AFSB afloat forward staging bases — currently included as MLPs — will become ESB, for expeditionary base mobile.

The changes, announced Thursday by Mabus’ office, are in line with an effort begun by the secretary in 2013 to streamline some of the Navy’s ship designations, which some feel have become too disparate. The topic has been debated within the Navy’s command structure, where some argue the designators should reflect an acquisition program, while others think more traditional terms should apply.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

US Army general 1st to serve in British division - News - Stripes

US Army general 1st to serve in British division - News - Stripes: U.S. Brig. Gen. Michael J. Tarsa has assumed the role of deputy commander of a British division, becoming the first American general to serve in that capacity in the British army, a spokesman said.

Tarsa was previously the deputy commander of the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, Colo.

In January, the Army chief of staff announced his assignment to deputy commander 3rd (United Kingdom) Division and he started his new job at Bulford Garrison, in Wiltshire, England, on Tuesday.

Tarsa told the division staff it was a “distinct honor,” according to Maj. Laurence Roche, a spokesman for the division.

“I wear my nation’s uniform as a member of the U.S. Army, but I now have the privilege to be part of the British army and 3rd Division,” Roche quoted Tarsa as saying.

Roche said Tarsa is the first U.S. general to serve in a British army division.

Lawmakers Offer A Way Out of US Navy Minehunting Mess

Lawmakers Offer A Way Out of US Navy Minehunting Mess: Reacting to a new Pentagon assessment that paints a dismal picture of the US Navy’s efforts to field a new seagoing mine countermeasures system, two powerful lawmakers could be clearing a new path through for a way ahead.

“The Navy should consider all available alternatives,” to address the problems, Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island – chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Armed Services Committee – wrote Monday in a letter to Navy and Pentagon leaders.

“Too much is at stake to accept the status quo and permit systems with long documented cost, schedule, performance and reliability shortfalls to get a free pass into the fleet and further production,” the senators wrote to Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Adm. Jon Greenert, the outgoing chief of naval operations.

Army officially opens Ranger School to female soldiers

Army officially opens Ranger School to female soldiers: The Army's elite Ranger School is now open to all qualified soldiers regardless of gender, the service announced Wednesday.

The school had been open only to men until April, when the Army ran a gender-integrated assessment of the course. Nineteen women started the course on April 20.

Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver on Aug. 21 became the first women to earn the distinctive black and gold tab when they graduated from Ranger School.

One female soldier from that original group of 19 is still working to earn the tab; she advanced to the Swamp Phase, Ranger School's third and final phase, last weekend.

In its announcement Wednesday, the Army said "qualified personnel will be able to attend all future classes" of Ranger School "regardless of gender."

"We must ensure that this training opportunity is available to all soldiers who are qualified and capable, and we continue to look for ways to select, train, and retain the best soldiers to meet our nation's needs," Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement.

LRS-B Details Emerge: Major Testing, Risk Reduction Complete

LRS-B Details Emerge: Major Testing, Risk Reduction Complete: The two designs competing to be the US Air Force's next generation bomber have undergone extensive testing by the service and are far more mature than previously known, to a level nearly unheard of in the Pentagon before a contract award, Defense News has learned.

The designs also feature significantly improved stealth capabilities when compared to the B-2 and still feature plans for future certification of nuclear weaponry and the ability to be optionally manned.

Considered one of the US Air Force's three top acquisition priorities, the Long Range Strike-Bomber (LRS-B) program has been kept primarily in the dark as the service weighs two competing proposals, one from Northrop Grumman, and the other from a team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. A contract award is expected soon, with indications it could come before the end of September.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

NASA Funds Plasma Rocket Technology for Superfast Space Travel

NASA Funds Plasma Rocket Technology for Superfast Space Travel: Superfast journeys to Mars may be one big step closer for humanity, as NASA has sponsored a private company to develop a high-tech, plasma engine.

Ad Astra Rocket Company, specializing in the development of plasma rocket propulsion technology, has finished contract negotiations with NASA. As part of the Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) award, the space agency will cover half of Ad Astra's testing expenses over the next three years.

Known as the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, or VASIMR, the engine uses plasma technology to accelerate rockets to previously unattainable speeds. To create plasma, the proposed engines will heat pressurized gas to extremely high temperatures with radio waves. The resulting plasma is kept under control with magnetic fields.

"These experiments aim to demonstrate the engine's new proprietary core design and thermal control subsystem and to better estimate component lifetime," reads a statement from Ad Astra.

If the company successfully develops VASIMR, it could be possible for humans to reach Mars in less than two months.

The Aviationist » This Infographic provides at least one interesting detail about the F-22 Raptor Mission in Europe

The Aviationist » This Infographic provides at least one interesting detail about the F-22 Raptor Mission in Europe: The U.S. Air Force has released an infographic with a collection of information about the F-22 Raptor at its first training deployment in Europe.

Even though it is quite simple, the image provides some useful information about the Rapid Raptor Package concept used to deploy the 5th Generation jet in any theater across the world in 24 hours: in particular, it states that a standard package is made of 4 F-22s, 1 C-17 and 60 supporting airmen. Not too much for the most advanced U.S. fighter plane currently in service.

Two of the four F-22s belonging to 95th FS are currently in Poland, for some training with the Polish Air Force and prove they can operate from former Warsaw Pact countries and airbases as well.

More base visits across eastern Europe are expected until the aircraft return to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, in mid September.

NATO Activates Six New Hubs On Eastern Flank With Russia

NATO Activates Six New Hubs On Eastern Flank With Russia: S
ix NATO hubs being established along the alliance's eastern flank went into operation on September 1, the alliance said, in a move responding to a perceived new security threat from Russia.

NATO has been stepping up its role in Eastern Europe to deter potential aggressors and reassure its allies in light of the conflict in Ukraine, where Russia has been condemned for annexing Crimea and backing pro-Moscow separatists.

The six NATO centers -- in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania -- are to help on the ground with exercises and planning activities. Each should be staffed with around 40 people by the end of the year.

"They have begun work, but are not yet operating at full capacity," a NATO spokesman said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is due on September 3 to attend an inauguration ceremony at the Lithuanian command-and-control center.

The decision to establish the so-called NATO Force Integration Units was made at the alliance's Wales summit in September 2014. They are to be fully operational by the next NATO summit, taking place in Warsaw in July 2016, the spokesman said.

Official: Minehunting System Shows No Improvement

Official: Minehunting System Shows No Improvement: Despite years of development, constant effort and numerous official pronouncements of progress, the minehunting system at the heart of a new family of US Navy mine countermeasures gear shows no signs of improvement and poses a significant risk to the planned deployment of the system aboard littoral combat ships (LCS), according to the Pentagon’s top test and evaluation officer.

“Recent developmental testing provides no statistical evidence that the system is demonstrating improved reliability, and instead indicates that reliability plateaued nearly a decade ago,” Michael Gilmore, director of the Office of Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), wrote in an Aug. 3 memo to Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall.

A copy of the memo was obtained by Defense News.

“The reliability of existing systems is so poor that it poses a significant risk to both the upcoming operational test of the LCS Independence-variant equipped with the first increment of the Mine Countermeasures (MCM) mission package, and to the Navy’s plan to field and sustain a viable LCS-based minehunting and mine clearance capability prior to fiscal year 2020,” Gilmore wrote.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tanks Get Green Makeover as USAREUR Shifts Focus to Europe |

Tanks Get Green Makeover as USAREUR Shifts Focus to Europe | Europe-based tanks and other armored vehicles will soon be repainted to woodland green in a strategic shift away from the desert tan that has marked the Army’s fighting vehicles for more than a decade.

The vehicles had been painted desert tan for operations in the Middle East; the return to the forest colors coincides with security concerns among eastern NATO allies since Russia’s intervention in Ukraine last year.

During a stop at the Army’s Coleman Barracks in Mannheim on Tuesday U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said the conversion is more than symbolic.

“It is about deterrence and reassurance, and paint — all of a sudden that matters,” Hodges said during a tour of Coleman Barracks, where nearly 200 Bradleys, tanks and other heavy vehicles are stored for use by troops rotating through eastern Europe and the Baltics.

Hodges, along with a team from USAREUR and several other commands, examined the facilities at Coleman as part of a “Terrain Walk” through key logistical hubs in Germany.

Coleman, which the Army left in 2011, was set for turnover to the Germans last year. But after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, the Army decided to keep the site, reaching a deal to do so on a temporary basis just three days before the planned turnover.

The fighting vehicles stored here are a key part of USAREUR’s rotation of troops and vehicles into the Baltics and eastern Europe.

US Deploys Two MQ-1 Predator Drones to Latvia | DoD Buzz

US Deploys Two MQ-1 Predator Drones to Latvia | DoD Buzz: Two MQ-1 Predator drones and 70 airmen from the Texas Air National Guard have deployed to Latvia in the continuing buildup of forces on a rotational basis in Eastern Europe to guard against Russia and spillover from the crisis in Ukraine.

U.S. European Command also announced that two of the four F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets that arrived in Germany last week had been flown to the Lask airbase in central Poland to join training exercises with NATO allies.

“The U.S. is conducting reconnaissance of abilities of operating this type of aircraft at an allied airport,” Polish army spokesman Artur Golawski told Reuters. The General Atomics-made Predators and the Lockheed Martin Corp.-made F-22s were expected to stay in Latvia and Poland through mid-September.

Air Force Official Predicts Private Launches for Military Satellites - WSJ

Air Force Official Predicts Private Launches for Military Satellites - WSJ: Budget pressures increasingly are pushing Pentagon planners to consider outsourcing satellite launches, routine military communication links and even some space-based surveillance operations to industry, a senior Air Force official said Monday.

Projecting reliance on straight commercial-style purchases in coming decades, Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry told a conference here that vendors ultimately would be paid for providing specific space services to the military rather than the military underwriting development, testing and deployment of government-owned systems into orbit as it traditionally has done.

Such drastic changes will take many years, Gen. McMurry predicted in remarks to the meeting sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The Air Force’s No. 2 uniformed acquisition official for space sketched out a long-term trend that he described as necessary and probably inevitable.

In his remarks and answers to audience questions, Gen. McMurry appeared to go further than his superiors in embracing commercial solutions, similar to the strategy adopted by U.S. civilian space leaders to outsource cargo deliveries and astronaut transportation to the international space station.

Women in Combat: Silver Stars, Combat Action Badges and Casualties |

Women in Combat: Silver Stars, Combat Action Badges and Casualties | In the coming weeks, the service chiefs will likely cite reams of data to support their positions on whether to lift restrictions on women serving in combat jobs.

A couple of the statistics will be hard to miss: More than 9,000 female troops have earned Combat Action Badges during modern combat operations, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and hundreds more have earned valor awards, including the Silver Star, the Army's third-highest valor award.

Advocates of lifting the restrictions argue that existing data show women are already serving in combat and lifting the restrictions would only be recognizing that reality to allow them to prove they can meet the standards for currently closed billets and receive the training they need.

Opponents argue that imposing major social and cultural changes on the military would be fraught with risk in an era of increasing global threats and cite statistics showing that women suffer injuries at twice the rate of men in training.

At his Aug. 20 Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter restated the policy that has been in effect since then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in January 2013 that all military occupational specialties would be open to women unless the services argued for an exception.

"Approximately 110,000 ground combat positions have been opened to women since then, and the Department's policy is that all ground combat positions will be open to women, unless rigorous analysis of factual data shows that the positions must remain closed," Carter said. Some 200,000 combat positions remain closed to female troops.