Thursday, January 28, 2016

Costs for upgrading weapons will put further pressure on US forces

The Pentagon faces a 23 percent increase in costs for its major weapons in the next six years, adding pressure to its ability to fund other needs, defense analysts warned Wednesday.
Spending will peak at roughly the same time in the 2020s for dozens of major weapons programs, including the Air Force’s new Long Range Strike Bomber, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Ohio-class ballistic nuclear submarine replacement program and the replacement of the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, said Todd Harrison, director of budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonprofit policy group in Washington, D.C. The fiscal bottleneck could force the next president into some tough budget choices, said Harrison, who was one of three defense experts at the center to speak Wednesday about the Pentagon’s future spending needs.
“When the next administration takes office in January 2017, it will need to make many difficult choices to rationalize long-term defense modernization plans with the resources available,” he said.
The large cost – estimated to average more than $90 billion each year by 2022 for just the Defense Department’s top acquisition programs – is a result of a decade of deferred modernization spending in order to afford the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Harrison said.

Army Mulls Expanding Units Comprising Active, Reserve Pilots

Establishing an Aegis Ashore missile interceptor site in Hawaii “may be a good idea” to help protect the U.S. mainland, the head of Pacific Command says.
“Whether we do it or not should be an outcome of a deliberative process,” Adm. Harry Harris said during a speech Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank. “I’m in support of studying it further and see where it goes.”
Aegis Ashore is the land-based version of the Navy’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system used on ships. Similar to the Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or THAAD, it destroys missiles as they re-enter the atmosphere.
Full Text

Army Mulls Expanding Units Comprising Active, Reserve Pilots

The US Army is considering how multi-component units might help it achieve greater capability as the force shrinks in a time of budget austerity and implemented such a structure within its fixed-wing aviation branch for the first time.
The pilot program took shape at the same time a commission tasked with examining the future force structure of the Army was also deeply examining possible ways to make greater use of multi-component units, made of both full-time troops and reservists.The service began implementing the plan in October, attaching a small group of active and Reserve pilots to already existing fixed-wing aerial exploitation battalions at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia.
The congressionally established National Commission on the Future of the Army comes out with its report Thursday. The commission looked at a number of alternative approaches, such as the Air Force’s Reserve-associate concept that has Reserve components and the regular Air Force sharing equipment.
Full Text

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Russian aggression a top concern in U.S. European Command's new military strategy

The U.S. European Command issued an “updated theater strategy” document Tuesday, pointing to Russian aggression as a top concern and warning that the U.S. troop drawdowns of the past 25 years put the region’s stability at risk.
The 12-page document lays out EUCOM’s priorities for the next three to five years and lists a dizzying array of challenges that include refugee migration, financial crisis, cyber attacks and infectious diseases.
The most prominent challenge is Russia and its “disregard for the sovereignty of its neighbors in Europe” as well as its military aggression beyond the EUCOM region, including Syria.
“Russia is presenting enduring challenges to our allies and partners in multiple regions; therefore, it is a global challenge that requires a global response,” according to the report.
Read Full Article

US Admiral Warns of China’s and Russia’s Growing Space Weapons Arsenal

Speaking last week at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, Admiral Cecil D. Haney, struck a familiar tone when warning about Russia’s and China’s burgeoning space warfare capabilities.
“Once thought of as a sanctuary, space is more congested, contested, and competitive than ever, and it is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Other nations understand our reliance on space and the advantages we have reaped in defense and commercial sectors,” he noted.
“Adversaries and potential adversaries want to exploit those dependencies by turning them into vulnerabilities.” He cautioned that threats are evolving faster than the U.S. military ever imagined and that they could “potentially threatens national sovereignty and survival.”
He went on to say that countries like China and Russia are developing and demonstrating “disruptive and destructive counterspace capabilities.”
“Furthermore, they are exploiting what they perceive as space vulnerabilities – threatening the vital, national, civil, scientific, and economic benefits to the U.S. and the global community.”
Read Full Article

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

SpaceX Falcon 9 upgrade certified for National Security Space launches

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif.  -- Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space and Space and Missile Systems Center commander, updated the certified baseline configuration of SpaceX's Falcon 9 Launch System to Falcon 9 Upgrade, for use in National Security Space (NSS) missions. The baseline configuration of the Falcon 9 Launch System was updated to the Falcon 9 Upgrade on Jan. 25.

SpaceX is eligible for award of NSS launch missions, in accordance with the updated Certification Letter, as one of two currently certified launch providers.

The partnership between SpaceX and the Air Force continues as they focus on SpaceX's newest vehicle configuration, Falcon 9 Upgrade. SpaceX and Air Force technical teams will jointly work to complete the tasks required to prepare SpaceX and the Falcon 9 Upgrade for NSS missions.

This certification update takes into account all of the Spring 2015 Independent Review Committee's recommendations, including clarification that the SMC commander, as the certifying official, has the authority to grant certification and updates based on a New Entrant's demonstrated capability to design, produce, qualify and deliver their launch system. This includes allowing New Entrant certification with some open work, provided there are jointly approved work plans in place that support potential NSS mission processing timelines.

"The certification process provides a path for launch-service providers to demonstrate the capability to design, produce, qualify, and deliver a new launch system and provide the mission assurance support required to deliver NSS satellites to orbit," Greaves said. "This gives the Air Force confidence that the national security satellites will safely achieve the intended orbits with full mission capability."

The purpose of certification is to provide high confidence for successful NSS launches by determining that New Entrants are capable of meeting Air Force established launch requirements for the complex NSS challenges and environments. The Air Force has established launch standards that all launch providers must meet to become certified. Formal design and mission reliability assessments ensure the launch system's capability to provide the necessary payload mass-to-orbit, orbital insertion accuracy, and other requirements to place a healthy payload into its intended orbit.

GOP Candidates Misstate Military Spending

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio maintains that President Barack Obama is more interested in providing money to Planned Parenthood than for the nation's armed forces. The front-runner in the GOP race, Donald Trump, says the U.S. military is a "disaster." Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says the Obama administration has "gutted" every weapons system in the U.S. military's inventory.
Gutted? Disaster?
It's become a staple for the Republican candidates to trash Obama and argue that he has failed to spend enough on defense. At the debates and campaign stops, they've cast him as a feckless commander in chief, standing idly by while the world's finest military withers away.
What's lost in the din: Money spent on weapons modernization is on par with the Republican George W. Bush administration. The military cuts that GOP contenders are complaining about were approved by Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. The military budget is being squeezed by the insistence of lawmakers in both parties that money be spent on bases and equipment that the Pentagon says it doesn't need.
And the government spends roughly 1,000 times more on the armed forces than on Planned Parenthood.
Some of the GOP candidates' claims and how they compare with the facts:

Navy Hopes Landing Tweaks Will Increase Osprey Cargo Capacity

The Navy is tweaking takeoff and landing procedures to increase the cargo load of its helicopter of the future -- the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey.

Helicopter Test Squadron 21 performed nine days of tests in October aboard the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower, said Naval Air Systems Command spokesman Billy Ray Brown. The team flew 25.6 flight hours, performing 69 short take-offs and minimum run-on landings. This maneuver is used to transition from forward flight to a landing when there may not be sufficient power available to sustain a hover as might be the case when the helicopter/airplane hybrid is at high gross weight.

Testing was a success in that engineers were able to complete the assessment plan without missed or canceled events, Brown said. However, in-depth analysis is still required before the maneuvers can be added to an Osprey pilot's repertoire.

Results, expected in late spring, will be used to expand the envelope for the Marine Corps and Air Force variants of the V-22, known as the MV-22 and CV-22 respectively, as well as a future variant that will be employed by the Navy.
Read Full Article

Monday, January 25, 2016

DoD Weapons Tester Concerned about F-35 Software Development

Although the Joint Program Office maintains the F-35 program remains on track, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester recently raised concerns that the fifth-generation fighter jet’s software development could fall behind.
In a Dec. 11 memo, Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, described as being “not realistic” the JPO’s current plan to finish work on the F-35’s Block 3F software — the final software block required for full warfighting capability — by July 31, 2017. Rushing the testing schedule and weapons deliveries in order to meet this deadline “constitutes a very high risk of failing” Initial Operational Test and Evaluation — the final phase of testing before a full-rate production decision, Gilmore said.
The JPO recognizes there are about four months of “potential risk” in the 3F testing schedule, but maintains testing will be completed by the summer of 2017, according to spokesman Joe DellaVedova. He stressed that the JPO will not take any “shortcuts” to meet that deadline.
“The JPO does not intend on ‘short-cutting’ any required test points,” DellaVedova wrote in a Jan. 22 email to Defense News. “Removal of test points by the combined JPO, industry and warfighting team occurs only after a thorough and disciplined review of what is required to deliver the promised capabilities.”
The goal is to deliver full Block 3F capabilities in the fall of 2017, he said.
Read Full Text

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DARPA Investing in Vanishing Air Vehicles

Air vehicles delivering critical supplies to ground troops could soon simply disappear into thin air after dropping their payload, reducing troops’ environmental footprint.

The project, which is being spearheaded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is known as the “inbound, controlled, air-releasable, unrecoverable systems” (ICARUS) program.
“The main goal is to be able to deliver supplies whether they … [are] things like batteries, water, medical supplies to teams of either military or humanitarian personnel,” Troy Olsson, ICARUS’ program manager, told National Defense.

The vehicle, after dropping off its payload, would then disappear after being triggered by an operator or environmental factors, such as sunlight or temperature.

While the idea may seem too futuristic to be true, ICARUS builds off a previous DARPA project known as the “vanishing programmable resources” (VAPR) program, Olsson said.

“The goal of the VAPR program is to build transient or vanishing microsystems, so think of small-scale wireless sensor devices that can vanish on command,” he said. “Part of that program was to make things like circuit boards [and] packaging.”

One approach to that was a vanishing polymer, he said.

DARPA worked with the University of Illinois, Cornell and Georgia Tech on VAPR. Recently, there have been major advancements in the program that led agency officials to believe creating a disappearing delivery vehicle was feasible, he said.
Full Text

Improvements to USS America 75 percent complete

Improvements to the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) are 75 percent complete and expected to be completed in March, the service reported.
The improvements by the ship's crew and contractors come during the ship's post-shakedown availability, which began last summer."One of the big challenges with LHA 6 is that it is the first of its class," said post-delivery hull manager Michael Galecki. "Even with its similarities to the LHD class, there has been nothing like it before."The USS America was built by Huntington Ingalls Industries and commissioned into service in late 2014. It is designed to put ashore a Marine Expeditionary Unit using helicopters and MV-22B Osprey V/STOL aircraft. It can also be used as a small aircraft carrier.
Read More

Air Force Intranet Control (AFINC) Weapon System: 1st Fully Operstional Cyberspace Weapon System

Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. -- A major milestone was achieved on 7 January 2016 when the Air Force Intranet Control (AFINC) Weapon System became the first cyberspace weapon system to reach FOC status.

Achieving FOC means the AFINC weapon system is fully capable to serve as the top-level defensive boundary and entry point for all network traffic into the Air Force Information Network.  The AFINC weapon system controls the flow of all external and inter-base traffic through standard, centrally managed gateways.

The AFINC weapon system consists of 16 Gateway Suites, 15 SIPRNET Nodes, 200+ Service Delivery Points, two Integrated Management Suites, and is operated by the 26th Network Operations Squadron (26th NOS) located at Gunter Annex, Montgomery, AL.

"It was an amazing team effort to achieve FOC," said Lt Col Omar Velasco, 26th NOS commander.  "We couldn't have done it without our Air Force Lifecycle Management Center Program Office at Hanscom AFB, HQ AFSPC and 24th Air Force staffs, and most importantly our dedicated military, civilian, and contractor personnel employing the AFINC cyber weapon system to sustain and defend the Air Force network."

The AFINC weapon system replaced and consolidated 100+ regionally managed disparate Air Force network entry points into 16 centrally managed access points for all traffic through the Air Force network.  The AFINC weapon system provides greater agility to take defensive actions across the network.  AFINC was officially designated a weapon system by the Air Force Chief of Staff in March 2013 and achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in May 2014.

"As the first line of defense for our network, the 26th NOS team is responsible for more than one billion firewall, web, and email blocks per week from suspicious and adversarial sources," stated Col Pamela Woolley, 26th Cyberspace Operations Group commander.  "Our network is under constant attack and it is a testament to the dedication of our 26th NOS team that our network reliability and traffic flow remains consistently high."

The AFINC Cyberspace Weapon System serves more than 1M Air Force users at 237 sites worldwide.  Their infrastructure is among the largest in the world, yet operated and maintained by a single Air Force unit.  As the weapon system and 26th NOS operations have evolved, their mission set now includes intelligence gathering, cyberspace surveillance and reconnaissance, interdiction, and security.

After declaring the AFINC weapon system FOC, Brigadier General Stephen Whiting, HQ AFSPC Director of Integrated Air, Space, Cyberspace and ISR Operations stated, "This is a great achievement for the Air Force and the first cyberspace weapon system to achieve FOC.  We look forward to continued rapid progress and maturation of the Air Force Cyberspace mission.  As we all know, our mission is to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace."

Other cyberspace weapons systems include the Air Force Cyberspace Defense Weapon System, the Cyber Security and Control System Weapon System, the Cyber Command and Control Mission System Weapon System, the Cyberspace Defense Analysis Weapon System, and the Cyberspace Vulnerability Assessment/Hunter Weapon System

Saturday, January 16, 2016

US Air Force Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Desert Storm

            Twenty-five years ago, the Air Force participated in Operation Desert Storm, the largest air campaign since the conflict in Southeast Asia. The campaign’s purpose was to drive the Iraqi military out of Kuwait, release the country from Saddam Hussein’s invasion and reestablish its sovereignty.

On the morning of Aug. 2, 1990, Iraq invaded nearby Kuwait. In less than four hours, Iraqi forces occupied the capital, Kuwait City, and Hussein soon annexed the country as the 19th province of Iraq. The U.S. government initiated Operation Desert Shield in response.

Several months later on Jan. 16, 1991, following Congressional concurrence with United Nations efforts to enforce a resolution that demanded Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait, Desert Storm was launched.

“The real mission, the immediacy of that mission … was to deploy as many forces as possible to deter further aggressiveness by the Iraqi military and of course the Air Force was the first on the list, along with the Navy and the aircraft carriers, to deploy in the region,” said retired Lt. Gen. Bruce A. “Orville” Wright, a Desert Shield/Storm veteran. “It was a rapid deployment of forces from the continental United States (and some forces from Europe) to put enough airpower in place so the Iraqi military would be discouraged, if not deterred.

“We took out their eyes and ears, their control capability,” he continued. “The entire ground operations lasted about 100 hours and that’s a credit to the joint coalition airpower that was employed against the Iraqi military. We were all excited, that’s what we trained for our whole career. To take 24 F-16s and a squadron of very capable highly-trained pilots and maintenance professionals … and defeat what was then the largest ground force.”

The air campaign marked the initial phase of the war and for the Air Force, air superiority was the goal. With more than 68,800 total force Airmen being rapidly deployed in support of Desert Storm, there were approximately 69,406 sorties flown by 30 different types of aircraft.

“I remember thinking, ‘Saddam Hussein has no idea what’s coming,’ and after the first 60 minutes of the war, he will be largely disconnected from his tactical forces and he was. They tried to reconnect, but in many ways we began the decapitation of the leadership within the first 15 minutes of the war,” said Maj. Gen. Paul T. Johnson, an operational capability requirements director and Desert Shield veteran. “I really hope we can remember how we came together as a joint and a coalition team, nations from all over the world, all of the services supporting each other, generating effects for one another to achieve an effect in an incredibly short period of time.”

Desert Storm marked the first conflict in history to make comprehensive use of stealth and space systems support capabilities against a modern, integrated air defense, allowing the Air Force to succeed in their endeavor of air superiority.

“Over time I have come to understand the enabling capabilities that came to us from space, came to us out of stealth (and) that came to us out of new weapons and ammunitions that allowed us to do things in ways that we hadn’t done them before,” Johnson said. “Our ability to dynamically command and control across an entire theater there were things that, looking back now in hindsight, fundamentally began the transformation of airpower. There are so many things that we take for granted today … that saw their beginnings in Desert Storm.”

As with any mission, operation or task, there are lessons learned. Desert Storm taught the Air Force that being on the cutting edge of revolutionary technology is critical to success.

“That was the first time the investments, that had been made in some cases a decade or two decades earlier, came together on the battlefield and for the first time the world saw what the United States Air Force could do,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “Looking back and learning from Desert Storm, it is more important than ever before that we continue to modernize our force, gaining the advantage to defeat any adversary we may face in the future.”

On Feb. 28, 1991, following six weeks of air attacks and 100 hours of a ground campaign, President George H.W. Bush declared a cessation of operations and announced that Kuwait had been liberated.

“The memories and lessons learned from Desert Storm continue to define today who we are,” Wright said. “We have the ability to defend the nation that’s founded on, not just the history of Desert Storm but the history of airpower from World War I to World War II to Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and today. We have been in this fight now for 25 years and those Airmen who are out there today are critical. They are critically important to the safety of our fellow citizens and critically important to the future of the United States of America.”

Friday, January 15, 2016

Philippines seeks joint patrols with US in South China Sea

The Philippines has called for joint patrols with the United States in the disputed South China Sea, where Manila has festering territorial dispute with Beijing, a defence department spokesman said Thursday.
The remarks came after the Philippine's Supreme Court upheld a 10-year security agreement opening the door for the US to operate more troops and equipment out of the Southeast Asian archipelago."There is a need for more collaborative presence in the South China Sea. Thus, in addition to freedom of navigation operations of the US, we are also suggesting that we patrol the area together," spokesman Peter Paul Galvez told reporters.Galvez did not specify where in the South China Sea the joint patrols would be conducted. China has conflicting territorial claims with the Philippines in the waters, as well as Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Read More

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Philippines to Offer the Use of Eight Bases to US Forces

The Philippines is set to offer the US military use of eight bases, a military spokesman said Wednesday, after the country's supreme court upheld a security agreement with Washington forged in the face of rising tensions with China.
The facilities include the former US Clark airbase and air and naval facilities on the southwestern island of Palawan, which faces the South China Sea, the focus of territorial disputes with China.
Military spokesman Colonel Restituto Padilla said the facilities would be used to store equipment and supplies.
He added that the offer had still to be finalized after the Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a 10-year security accord.
The decision allows for the full implementation of the Enhanced Defense Co-operation Agreement (EDCA), signed in 2014 but not implemented due to legal challenges from groups opposed to US military involvement in the Philippines, a US colony from 1898 to 1946.
It will see more US troops rotate through the Philippines for war games and help Manila build military facilities.
Read More

U.S. military may expand ISIS fight beyond Iraq and Syria

Defense Secretary Ash Carter signaled Wednesday that the U.S. military will expand efforts to target Islamic State militants beyond the group's territory in Iraq and Syria, potentially involving airstrikes and raids in other Islamic countries.
“The threat posed by ISIL, and groups like it, is continually evolving, changing focus and shifting location,” Carter said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.
“That’s why the Defense Department is organizing a new way to leverage the security infrastructure we’ve already established in Afghanistan, the Middle East, East Africa, and southern Europe into a network to counter transnational and transregional threats like ISIL,” Carter said.
“They help us act decisively to prevent ISIL affiliates from becoming as great of a threat as the parent tumor itself,” Carter said.
For example, Carter pointed to a U.S. airstrike in Libya in November that killed a man known as Abu Nabil, an Iraqi national who was a senior Islamic State leader in Libya.
The U.S. has also begun targeting some Islamic State militants in Afghanistan.
Read More

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Navy Weighing Options for a Family of Future Surface Ships

The Navy is currently charting its new roadmap for a family of future surface ships it hopes to enter the fleet sometime in the 2030s.
The future surface combatant study – set to complete in the late summer or early fall – is the early work that will lay out in detail a picture of the world and threats the next set of surface combatants will face and what the ships of the future will need to look like to combat them, the Navy’s director of surface warfare, Rear Adm. Peter Fanta (OPNAV N96) told USNI News in an interview last week.
“The future surface combatant study looks at all of the capabilities that we need to get across the board – from replacing [Cyclone-class patrol craft (PC-1)], all the way up through what we do with cruiser follow on and what do we do for the next destroyers,” Fanta said.
“We’re looking at a family of options. I have family of requirements. Now, for the large surface combatant, it’s both capacity and capability that we have to look at.”
The current generation of large surface combatants – Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyers (DDG-51) and Ticonderoga-class (CG-47) guided missile cruisers – have been in the fleet for decades and were all part of a surface-wide shift in capabilities across several different sizes of platforms.
The ships – though multi-mission — are optimized for anti-air warfare and built around a large radar array and a battery of vertical launch system (VLS) missile cells that field a variety of weapons. The ships centered on the Aegis combat system were part of a generational shift in thinking that traded boiler power for gas turbines and single purpose ships for multi-mission combatants.
And now, “we’re about at that inflection point again,” Fanta said.
What’s different in this generation of combatants is how Fanta and the Navy will tackle the problem of the next wave of ships. – constrained by budgets but buttressed by new networked weapons and technologies like directed energy and electromagnetic railguns.
“We’ll see a slightly different fleet [in the 2030s] but we’re going about it differently and how do I plug that together,” he said.
Read Full Article

U.S. Navy Reveals Details About Lasers on Next-Gen Ships

A new U.S. Navy large surface combatant might feature futuristic weapons that, until now, have been the province of science fiction.
According to a recent interview with a top naval official, the Navy envisions that its next-generation large surface combatant—or destroyer-cruise-size—ships might be armed with host of lasers, railguns and even particle beam weapons, in addition to regular missile tubes. The new design is intended as a replacement for both the Flight III Arleigh Burke-class and the Ticonderoga-class ships.
Read Full Article

Monday, January 11, 2016

Interview: Rear Adm. Pete Fanta

An interview with Rear Adm. Pete Fanta, Director of Surface Warfare, N96.

Navy's Rail Gun Still Headed to Sea, but When, Where?

 One of the prime attributes of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers is the design’s 78-megawatt integrated power system, able to switch electrical power between propulsion, sensor and weapon systems. It’s long been touted as the best platform to field new energy-gobbling weapons like rail guns and lasers.
A year ago, however, it appeared the first ship that might carry a rail gun to sea might be a joint high speed vessel (JHSV) fitted with a temporary installation. Briefers at naval exhibitions spoke publicly of the plans, and at least one model of the proposed demonstration was on display.
Plans for the at-sea demonstration remain in place, officials said, but it’s looking more likely that a test using an expeditionary fast transport (EPF) — the new designation for JHSVs — won’t take place at least until 2017, if at all.
“What I’m finding is if I go ahead with the demo it will slow my development,” Rear Adm. Pete Fanta, director of surface warfare, said during a Dec. 30 interview at the Pentagon. “I would rather get an operational unit out there faster than do a demonstration that just does a demonstration.Read Full Article

Friday, January 8, 2016

US Must Combat ISIL and Russian Disinformation Campaigns

Influencing popular opinion has always been a vital element of international politics and of warfare. The recent revolution in communications technology has taken 21st Century propaganda warfare into a new dimension. It has also leveled the playing field to the point that a small organization or even one skilled communicator can disseminate a message around the world within minutes. The snowball-potential offered by social media means that one film clip or blog post can be forwarded to millions of people within days. Traditional media outlets tendency to monitor the net further increases the potential exposure for propaganda messages. The more outrageous or threatening the message, the more likely it will be viewed.
The internet’s potential as a propaganda tool was quickly recognized by groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS, groups which recruited technology- and media-savvy specialists to churn out e-zines, blog posts, twitter campaigns, and eye-popping violent videos. Meanwhile Vladimir Putin’s nationalist Russia has revived disinformation as a foreign policy tool, seeking to convince Europeans and Americans that, “objectively,” Putin is pursuing legitimate national aims. And once western governments are playing catch-up in their struggle to discredit adversarial propaganda.Weaponizing Information for 21st Century Propaganda Warfare

Thursday, January 7, 2016

EUCOM Commander Advocates New Policy on Russia

 For two decades, the United States "hugged the bear" in Europe, but that has to change, the commander of U.S. European Command, or EUCOM, said.

Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, who also serves as NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, has advocated for more U.S. forces in Europe to counter growing Russian capabilities and capacity. He spoke to reporters traveling with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States and its allies saw an opportunity to try to make Russia a partner. But a strategy document signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week names the United States and the expansion of the NATO alliance as threats to his country. Breedlove said the policy document merely codified Russian actions for several years.


"What I would offer is that if you look at Russia's actions all the way back to '08 - in Georgia, in Nagorno-Karabakh, in Crimea, in the Donbass, and now down in Syria - we see what most call a revanchist Russia that has put force back on the table as an instrument of national power to meet their objectives," the general said.

This means there has to be changes in the way U.S. military forces operate in Europe, he added, noting that for 20 years, U.S. military decisions were guided by the effort to make Russia a partner.

"Across that time … we have changed our force structure, we have changed our [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] allocations, we've changed our analytical allocations, [and] we've downsized the forces in all the media here in Europe," he said.

Now, Breedlove said, U.S. military officials look at Russian capabilities and capacity and have to adjust.


Breedlove has advocated for more U.S. service members and more capabilities in Europe, and that is beginning to happen. A fourth destroyer has arrived in Spain, for example, and the Army is rotating a brigade-sized unit to Europe, he said.

But it is more than simply building up numbers, he added. For 13 years, he said, EUCOM was focused on training other nations to join the counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan.

"We are really good at counterinsurgency targeting," Breedlove said. "It's been a long time since we've done an air campaign the size of Iraq 1 or Iraq 2, or even in the opening days of Afghanistan. We need to get back to those high-end skills to ensure we have the depth of bench for that fight.

"As Afghanistan drew down, we were prescient," he continued. "We decided … that we needed to train to high-end Article 5 capabilities. That was our plan, even before Crimea." Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that an attack on one NATO ally will be considered an attack on all allies.


Russia's actions validate the decision, the general said. "Now every Soldier, sailor, airman or Marine that comes to European Command will be focused on redeveloping that high-end kinetic fighting capability," he added.

All exercises and training will stress these capabilities, the general said, and EUCOM also will exercise at division and corps level in the future.

Breedlove said he cannot tell what Putin intends to do with the military he has re-equipped and retrained.

"Many people ask me, 'What is Putin thinking?' or 'What do you think he's thinking?'" he said. "I'm not sure what he's thinking, but I can look at what he's doing and derive from that what we should be thinking about on our side."

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Army submits plan for women in infantry, armor, special operations

The Army has submitted to the Defense Department its plan to open its infantry, armor and special operations ranks to women.
The implementation plan comes one month after Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced his decision to lift all gender-based restrictions on military service starting in January. The move paved the way for women to serve in these previously all-male specialties.
The plan, which is supposed to outline how the Army will integrate the newly opened occupations and positions, is now being reviewed and discussed as part of the implementation working group co-chaired by Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work and Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Army officials could not say when the plan might be rolled out or approved by senior DoD leaders.Read Full Text
The Navy has announced it will open the Navy SEALs to women and is looking to recruit more women to the service overall as the number of those who step up to serve drops from rates in earlier generations.
The Navy's personnel boss, Vice Adm. Bill Moran, discussed these priorities during a wide-ranging interview on Dec. 16. Answers have been edited for brevity.Read the Interview

Inside the amphibious vehicles that won the Marines' $225M contracts

The battle to build the amphibious combat vehicle is down to two competitors, and both prototypes promise a better ride than the amphibious assault vehicle the Corps wants to replace.
Indeed, Marines may feel spoiled by either ACV. Both are eight-wheeled vehicles that are more quiet and comfortable than the tracked AAV. The hot exhaust that has nauseated many a Marine has been erased by air conditioning and better ventilation.
BAE Systems and SAIC beat out three other manufacturers in a competition to build engineering and manufacturing development prototypes of the vehicle that will ferry Marines ashore and into battle. General Dynamics Land Systems has protested the award.
Each of the winning companies, announced Nov. 24, will build 16 eight-wheeled vehicles to be tested over the next two years.Read Full Text

Dunford: Russian Threat Assessment Unchanged

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters traveling with him to U.S. European Command headquarters in Germany that a new Russian national security strategy document naming the United States as a threat does not change his perception of the threat posed by Russia.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said the U.S. military "has always been focused on Russian capability development." The chairman spoke following meetings with the commanders of U.S. European Command, or EUCOM, and U.S. Africa Command.

Russia is a challenge to the United States and its allies, Dunford said, adding, "based on their behavior, based on their capabilities - nuclear, cyber, conventional - based on the threat to our allies."

The Russian strategy document, "About the Strategy of National Security of Russian Federation," was signed by President Vladimir Putin on New Year's Eve and names the United States and the expansion of the NATO alliance as threats to the country. The previous document - signed in 2009 - does not mention the United States or NATO.

Dunford said he believes Russia is viewing strategy from a perspective of what nation poses a threat to them. Still, he said, he has only read open-source reporting about the Russian document and wants a chance to read it before discussing its meaning.


Russia's behavior in Ukraine, Crimea and Georgia requires the United States to take Russian capabilities seriously, the chairman said.

In some areas, Dunford said, he is comfortable with the U.S. military presence in Europe. In other areas, "the [EUCOM] commander has asked for additional rotational forces and, frankly, long before this announcement was made, has taken a broad look to see how to best advance our interests in Europe in the context of security challenges in Europe, which is clearly Russia," he said.

Since taking office, the chairman has already spoken twice with his counterpart in Moscow, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian Armed Forces. "I've spoken with him a couple of times and plan to do that routinely," Dunford said. "We talk about a wide range of issues."

Dunford would like to have a face-to-face meeting with Gerasimov in the context of military-to-military relations. "No matter what the relationships are between states, it's important to keep the lines of communication open," he said. "We did that during the Cold War - we had a hotline that we could use in times of crisis.

"My experience tells me that when you are in a period of difficulty, having a military-to-military, professional relationship … can, one, help you better understand what you are dealing with, and, two, mitigate the risk of miscalculation," the chairman said.

BAE Systems developing EW suite for special ops aircraft

A new electronic warfare suite for C-130J aircraft operated by U.S. Special Operations Command is to be developed by BAE Systems.
The Radio Frequency Countermeasure system, or RFCM, to be developed is the first phase of a more than $400 million multi-phase life-cycle program to enhance the aircraft's capabilities to detect, identify, locate, deny, degrade, disrupt, and defeat threat systems in operational significant environments.The system will provide fully integrated, precision geo-location, and radio frequency counter-measure capabilities against land-based and airborne threats.Read Full Test

Work on U.S. BMD complex in Poland expected to start in summer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects to break ground this summer for a ballistic missile defense facility in Poland.
The Aegis Ashore BMD complex will be located on Poland's Redzikowa Air Base and when completed in 2018 will complement the Aegis Ashore facility completed last month in Romania.The two land facilities, together with Aegis-equipped U.S. warships based in Spain, are to protect European NATO allies and U.S. forces in the region "against growing ballistic-missile threats from the Middle East," the Army said.Read Full Text