Tuesday, June 28, 2016

US Must Reinforce NATO with 'Stronger Germany' Following Brexit: Burns

The policy disarray in Europe was typified last week by an outburst from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He warned against provoking Putin by stationing four battalions of NATO troops in Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which was expected to be ratified at the Warsaw NATO summit.
Steinmeier said that "saber-rattling and war cries" directed toward Russia were counter-productive.
"Anyone who believes that symbolic tank parades on the Alliance's eastern border will increase security is wrong," he said in comments to the weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
The counter-argument to Steinmeier was offered Monday by retired Gen. James L. Jones, the former Marine Commandant, National Security Adviser, and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, and R. Nicholas Burns, the former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and U.S. Ambassador to NATO.
In a policy paper for the Atlantic Council titled, "Restoring the Power and Purpose of the Atlantic Alliance," Jones and Burns said Obama and allies at the Warsaw summit had to reinforce NATO to confront challenges that included "a revanchist Russia, eroding stability in the greater Middle East, a weakened European Union, and uncertain American and European leadership."
In addition to stationing troops in the Baltics and Poland, NATO should also permanently station troops in Romania and Bulgaria, Jones and Burhs said at a forum to discuss their policy paper.
Jones called on NATO to become more "proactive" in addressing crises in Europe, Africa and the Mideast and in providing humanitarian disaster relief. "This is not war mongering," as has been charged by Putin, Jones said.
In addition, "we need a stronger Germany following Brexit," Burns said.
NATO must show "President Putin that we're going to be true to our Article 5 responsibilities," he added, referring to the NATO article providing for the common defense of alliance members. "We need to stand up to Putin and I hope that will be the message from Warsaw."  more

Monday, June 27, 2016

International Flotillas Sail across Pacific for RIMPAC Exercise

Four multinational flotillas have set sail toward Hawaii for the biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise.
Ten ships departed from San Diego while another 12 assembled in the Western Pacific Ocean. All are expected to arrive at Pearl Harbor next week; RIMPAC starts Thursday.
Brazil, meanwhile, has dropped plans to participate due to "unforeseen scheduling commitments," the Navy said in a statement.
That's likely not the only reason. After astounding economic growth in the early 2000s, Brazil is now roiled by political, social and economic woes all as it prepares to host the Olympics this summer. Its president has been impeached, a corruption scandal has rocked the country's giant oil company Petrobras and its economy is in free fall.
Ships that departed from San Diego on Tuesday include USS America, leading Canadian ship HMCS Vancouver, Chilean ship CNS Cochrane, USS San Diego and USS Howard.
The USS Princeton left San Diego on Wednesday with Canadian ship HMCS Calgary, USCG Stratton and USS Pinckney.
The USS Coronado departed San Diego on Thursday.
On the other side of the sea, Singaporean ship RSS Steadfast departed the Western Pacific on June 18 with Japanese ship JS Hyuga, Indonesian ship KRI Diponegoro, Indian ship INS Satpura and USS Chung Hoon.  more

C.I.A. Arms for Syrian Rebels Supplied Black Market, Officials Say

Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.
Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, F.B.I. officials believe after months of investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the investigation.
The existence of the weapons theft, which ended only months ago after complaints by the American and Saudi governments, is being reported for the first time after a joint investigation by The New York Times and Al Jazeera. The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programs to arm and train rebels — the kind of program the C.I.A. and Pentagon have conducted for decades — even after the Obama administration had hoped to keep the training program in Jordan under tight control.  more

Wasp gets underway on its first major deployment in more than a decade

Wasp is back in the fight.
The 27-year-old gator, which last deployed in 2004, got underway Saturday morning as part of a 4,000-strong Amphibious Ready Group that includes dock landing ship Whidbey Island and amphibious transport dock San Antonio. The trio will carry the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on a planned six-month pump to 5th Fleet, where ARG commanders fully expect to tangle with ISIS.
Though among the oldest in the fleet (all three are first-of-class), the ships carry some of the newest sailors and systems — and a palpable readiness.
"This team is ready," said Capt. Byron Ogden, who commands the ARG as well as Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 6. "We've been put through the paces, we've gone through a very extensive training cycle, and have hit the mark time and time again. I have the utmost faith and confidence in every one of those sailors and Marines on all three of these mighty warships that we will do our nation's bidding."
He reiterated the flexibility of his team, and the likelihood its skills will be put to the test in a wide variety of missions and locations. Disaggregated operations have been a hallmark of work ups. Ogden said he fully expects to disperse different leadership teams to the appropriate ships to provide "the right level and scalable force necessary to accomplish the desire task."  more

U.S. national security adviser sees few immediate Brexit concerns

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Sunday that there are "relatively few" immediate security concerns stemming from Britain's vote to leave the European Union, but the United States will work to ensure continued U.S.-UK cooperation on counter-terrorism and other security issues.
Rice, in a forum at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, said that the United States and Britain will "remain the closest partners and allies," while the need for NATO members to "stay latched up will be even greater."
"We will do all we can to ensure that the areas in which we are cooperating -- counter-terrorism, you name it, will remain solid," Rice said.

Asked what President Barack Obama first told British Prime Minister David Cameron when they spoke by telephone on Friday after the vote result was announced, Rice replied: "Bummer."
She added that the two leaders had talked through the potential outcomes of the vote on several occasions both in April when Obama visited Britain and urged a "remain" vote, and at a G7 summit in Japan in late May.   more

Will article 50 ever be triggered?

When David Cameron delivered his resignation speech outside No 10 on Friday, he said he would leave the task of triggering article 50 of the Lisbon treaty – the untested procedure governing how an EU member state leaves the bloc – to his successor.
This has prompted much speculation – and a glimmer of hope for those who want Britain to remain in the European Union. Cameron, they argue, had repeatedly said during the campaign that article 50 would be triggered immediately if Vote Leave were to win the Brexit referendum.
By not doing so, the theory is, and by bequeathing the responsibility to whoever succeeds him, Cameron has handed the next prime minister a poisoned chalice. Given the dramatic reaction to Brexit – on world stock markets, on the foreign exchanges, in Scotland, across Europe – and with the enormity of the consequences of leaving the EU now plain, who will dare pull the trigger?
One consequence of this, as a below-the-line commenter argued on the Guardian website, is that Cameron has effectively snookered the Brexit camp: they may have won the referendum, but they cannot use the mandate they have been given because if they do so they will be seen to be knowingly condemning the UK to recession, breakup and years of pain.
This could mean, as lawyer and writer David Allen Green has suggested in a blogpost, that “the longer article 50 notification is put off, the greater the chance it will never be made ... As long as the notification is not sent, the UK remains part of the EU. And there is currently no reason or evidence to believe that, regardless of the referendum result, the notification will be sent at all.”  More

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Vice Chief of Army: More Maneuver Forces Needed in Europe

Additional maneuver forces are needed in Europe as Russia continues to intimidate its neighbors, said the vice chief of staff of the Army June 21.

“There is a significant lack of maneuver forces in Eastern Europe,” said Gen. Daniel Allyn. “That’s something that we are helping address with our rotational presence that will be a sustained presence starting on the first of January … this coming year.”

Russia has been a continued source of worry for officials. Through the European Reassurance Initiative, the United States is increasing its footprint on the continent to counter Russia. The Obama administration requested $3.4 billion in the Defense Department's fiscal year 2017 budget for the effort. Funding will go toward increased presence, bilateral and multilateral exercises, enhanced prepositioning, improved infrastructure and partner capacity.

These measures “are a step in the right direction particularly in a constrained budget environment,” Allyn said during a breakfast meeting with defense reporters in Washington, D.C. “It’s a fairly significant resource investment in deterrence.”

U.S. contribution to short-range air defense and artillery will be particularly helpful for NATO, he said. Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander Europe, is currently reviewing what has been offered in the initiative, Allyn said.

“I expect that in the coming weeks we will probably hear from him on what isn’t in there that he needs,” he said.

Allyn said he was pleased with multinational collaboration he saw during recent exercises in Europe, such as Anakonda 2016. The exercise, which took place in Poland in June, was meant to “test the ability, readiness and interoperability of the Polish armed forces and allies and partners, while conducting a joint defensive operation on a large scale,” according to a U.S. Army Europe press kit. It brought together more than 31,000 service members from 24 nations.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

US Navy's Great Green Fleet in the Med

Five ships from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (Ike CSG) conducted port visits across Italy as part of the Great Green Fleet partnership between the U.S.-Italian navies, June 17-22.

Aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)(Ike) and guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) visited Naples, while guided-missile destroyers USS Mason (DDG 87) moored in Genoa, USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) in Civitavecchia and USS Nitze (DDG 94) in Trieste.

Prior to the port visits, the ships participated in a multi-day passing exercise (PASSEX), involving units of the Italian Navy's Flotta Verde. The PASSEX highlighted energy conservation operations including short-cycle mission and recovery tanking (SMART), configuration management, trail shaft operations, steady-state transit, autopilot and minimized bleed air. It also involved a replenishment-at-sea event during which the Italian oiler ITS Etna (A5326) gave more than 15,000 gallons of advanced fuel (F76 equivalent) to Mason.

"The recent Great Green Fleet operations in the Mediterranean, along with the strike group port visits throughout Italy further highlight energy conservation technologies for both navies and emphasizes our enduring partnership with Italy," said Rear Adm. Jesse Wilson, commander, Carrier Strike Group 10.

Port visits provide a mutual and increased understanding of culture and ideology, strengthen cooperation and enhance relationships between nations.

During the port visits, each ship hosted local civilian and military officials for a reception, conducted tours and community relations events.

Sailors also took the opportunity to enjoy the rich culture of Italy.

"The moment I stepped off the ship I realized all my hard work had paid off," said Machinist's Mate Fireman Hannaniah Williams, assigned to Ike's engineering department. "I've never been outside the country before, and I was absolutely amazed by the culture. The food, the people and the city were all like something out of a magazine."

Sailors assigned to Ike and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3, embarked aboard Ike, participated in a community relations (COMREL) event at Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts Preschool where Sailors cut trees, cleaned up the garden and chapel, and played with the children.

"I love working with kids," said Master-at-Arms Seaman Recruit Maria Fragale-Miller, assigned to Ike's security department. "When I heard about the COMREL, I volunteered because I could not think of a better way to spend my last day in port."

The Ike CSG is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

"The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group looks forward to continuing to foster our partnership with our counterparts in the Italian navy," said Wilson. "To further demonstrate our mutual commitment to increase energy efficiency, enabling our forces to go farther, stay longer and deliver more combat capability." 

USNS Lewis B. Puller: The Future of Expeditionary Minehunting

The Navy's first expeditionary mobile base, USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3) got underway from Naval Station Norfolk to perform airborne countermine deployment training, June 13-16.

Puller's hybrid crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and civil service mariners (CIVMARs) worked in concert with Sailors attached to the "Blackhawks" of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15 to hone mine elimination capabilities.

"This underway was the first opportunity to merge the Puller's full mission deck which included small boat operations, countermine sled launches and flight operations," said Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Muehlbauer, Puller's military crew officer-in-charge. "The underway was our first opportunity to simultaneously launch aircraft, small boats and anti-mine sleds."

"We got underway to train in preparation for a future Initial Operational Test and Evaluation," said Bryan Stoots, Puller's chief mate. "We performed a mock Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) mission, which included deployment of countermine assets from the ship's AMCM inventory."

The training battery during the four-day underway consisted of deploying and recovering two types of mine countermeasures from the deck of Puller.

One mine countermeasure deployed was a Mark 105 magnetic sled, which creates a magnetic field to destroy mines as it is towed behind a helicopter.

The second type of countermeasure system used during the training battery was the Magnetic Orange Pipe (MOP). This system is a shallow-water mine countermeasure which also uses magnetism to negate mine threats.

The deployment of each countermeasure was broken down into multiple phases. Puller's deck department Sailors and CIVMARs first launched three rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs), manned by HM-15 Sailors. These boats were used to guide and maneuver the magnetic sled and MOP. The countermeasure devices were moved into position for towing. The sled was attached to one of HM-15's MH-53 Sea Dragon helicopters and towed through simulated mine target area.

"Prior to this underway, we developed these capabilities independently," said Muehlbauer. "We tested and qualified the crew to handle small boats and crafts. On the flight deck, we qualified the crew to launch and recover different types of aircraft."

After the designated target area was cleared, the mine countermeasures and the RHIBs were brought back aboard Puller.

"The Puller is designed to support anti-mine countermeasure mission sets," said Muehlbauer. "We are able to embark up to four MH-53 helicopters capable of towing different types of countermine equipment, such as different types of minehunting sleds or mine-finding sonars through the water."

"To support these anti-mine operations we are able to launch and recover small boats and different mine neutralization assets," added Muehlbauer. "This platform can be adapted very quickly to deploy the mine countermeasure assets required based on a particular situation."

Stoots explained his role as chief mate and the CIVMARs' responsibilities during Puller's underway.

"The chief mate is similar to an executive officer on a Navy combatant ship," said Stoots. "The position includes being the deck department head, [ensuring] safe navigation of the ship and leadership in the deck department. As the chief mate, I was responsible for the safety on deck and supervised the entire operation on deck in regards to launching rigid-hull inflatable boats, the mine countermeasure sled and Magnetic Orange Pole.

While Puller's crew was busy with mine countermeasure training evolutions, there were many critical tasks being performed behind the scenes by Puller's CIVMARs.

"The main function of the deck department is navigation of the ship," said Stoots. "At all times while we are underway, there is a licensed mate on the bridge. We have a helmsman, lookout, and rover on duty. The helmsman steers the ship and takes direction from the mate. The rover keeps the ship safe and ensures there are no fires, flooding, or injured personnel."

"The lookout is maintaining a proper lookout," continued Stoots. "Other aspects of the deck department include having the boatswain on scene and they manage the deck responsibilities such as operating the cranes, winches, and supervise the movement of cargo and equipment.

There were approximately 40 CIVMARs aboard during the underway.

"I felt like the mine countermeasure training evolution was very successful," said Stoots. "We were uncertain about certain elements of the evolution. This was the first time these types of mine countermeasures were deployed from a ship's deck while using a ship's crane to deploy the equipment instead of a ship's well deck, which is the norm. There was a lot of anticipation to see how the deployment of this equipment would work from Puller and I felt like it went very well."

"The Puller has 100 Sailors in its crew," said Muehlbauer. "The military crew is in charge of the aviation department, mission deck operations, launch and recovery of small boats and any other deployed mission assets, [and] ship's force protection. The Sailors also manage C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence), and are capable of providing galley services for approximately 250 military personnel."

"The Puller's military crew supports the CIVMARs in the deck department with tasks such as line handling, logistic tasks include crane operations, and moving material on and off the ship," added Muehlbauer. "The military crew is made up of four officers and nine chief petty officers. The majority of our junior enlisted Sailors are aviation boatswain's mates [equipment, fuel, handling], information [systems] technicians, damage controlmen and aviation [structural] mechanics. To round it out, we have about 30 Sailors who work in the supply department."

"This underway was our first big integrated training event and it went very well," said Muehlbauer. "The training from this underway will lead us into our final testing and evaluation period later this year when we will certify the full capabilities of the Puller and crew."

Puller's crew is categorized as a hybrid as its members are both active-duty Sailors and CIVMARs. The success of the ship is dependent on a strong working relationship between the two distinctive cultures.

"A successful hybrid crew is definitely a team effort; I like to refer to the crew as 'Team Puller,'" said Stoots. "We are one ship and one crew, and work together on every aspect of every evolution. The military crew supports the CIVMARs on deck operation, and likewise we support the military crew on operations such as mine countermeasures."

"Early on there were times when we struggled with the crew interactions between the Sailors and CIVMARs," said Muehlbauer. "When the military crew arrived on the Puller, the mariners had already been on board for over a year. So when the military detachment arrived, we were very much the 'new kids on the block.' It took a little while to build trust, credibility, and rapport with the mariners."

"The ship's master and I worked together to lay down initial ground rules for the crew, but most of the real 'gelling' for the crew took place on the deck plates," continued Muehlbauer. "The more we placed Sailors and CIVMARs in situations where they had to work together, the better they understand each other's skillsets and how each does business. This was how we really started to build our team spirit. We put the right people in the right place and it worked very well for us. The formation of a successful hybrid crew for Puller was not dictated from the top, but was more of a grassroots effort which has proven to be very effective."

"Over the course of the last six months, the crew has gotten to the point where the Sailors and CIVMARs are able to predict how each is going to react or think during a variety of situations," said Muehlbauer. "The positive development of our hybrid crew has allowed Puller to maintain its very strict timeline and will ensure we are ready to deploy next year. I believe the Puller brings great capabilities to the Navy. This platform allows the Navy to sustain an expeditionary presence longer and will free up combatant ships to undertake missions which they are better suited for."

The future for Puller includes testing and evaluation. The vessel is also going to spend some time in the shipyard for upgrades and modifications prior to being permanently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in 2017.

"The Puller is going to receive an upgrade which will enable special operations forces (SOF) to utilize the ship for operations," concluded Muehlbauer. "The Puller will be able to support maritime interdictions, operations potentially in-country, and different adaptive military packages to perform different types of SOF contingencies throughout the world."

In addition to countermine training evolutions, Puller's crew performed vertical replenishment training with the Afloat Training Group, practiced flight deck firefighting techniques, and trained to counter the threat of a small boat attack.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lockheed Might Offer Miniature Hit-to-Kill Missile Internationally

The US Army has delayed its plans to move forward with a capability it was developing to launch a variety of missiles against rocket, artillery and mortar (RAM) threats, so Lockheed Martin is turning to the international market to sell its Miniature Hit-to-Kill (MHTK) missile designed to combat the worldwide threat.
Lockheed’s MHTK missile can go up against both RAM threats and some unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), Bob Delgado, the company’s international business development director for air and missile defense, told Defense News on Thursday at Eurosatory, a land warfare conference.
The RAM threat “has proliferated, it’s a very cost-effective threat,” he said. “Obviously the cost of mortars and rockets are extremely low, not something you’d want to engage with these large missiles.”
Lockheed developed the MHTK weapon in order to take out RAM threats — the second-largest killer of soldiers in Iraq — at a fraction of the cost of larger missiles.
The Army is developing the Integrated Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) program in three phases, first tackling the UAS threat, a major priority for the service. In the second increment, the Army plans to focus on countering RAM threats. “That is where our missile comes in,” Delgado said. more

US. and Russian Jets Clash Over Syria

U.S. and Russian fighter jets bloodlessly tangled in the air over Syria on June 16 as the American pilots tried and failed to stop the Russians from bombing U.S.-backed rebels in southern Syria near the border with Jordan.
The aerial close encounter underscores just how chaotic Syria’s skies have become as Russia and the U.S.-led coalition work at cross-purposes, each dropping bombs in support of separate factions in the five-year-old civil war.
The near-clash also highlights the escalating risk of American and Russian forces actually coming to blows over Syria, potentially sparking a much wider conflict between the world’s leading nuclear powers.

The incident began when at least two twin-engine Su-34 bombers, some of Moscow’s most advanced warplanes, struck what the Pentagon described as a “border garrison” housing around 200 U.S.-supported rebels in At Tanf on the Syrian side of the Syria-Jordan border.  more

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How US Counterterrorism Funds Ended Up in the Orlando Terrorist’s Pocket

Before Omar Mateen took the lives of 49 people in Orlando on June 12, he was a licensed security guard with British-based G4S, a company that rode the post-9/11 wave of counterterrorism budgets. The Florida shooting has focused critical attention on the company, which has been the subject of a number of embarrassing reports. But G4S is just a symptom of a larger problem: counterterrorism spending in the United States is generally poorly managed and monitored.
In Chasing Ghosts: The Policing of Terrorism, published in November, John Mueller and Mark Stewart argue that public anxiety about terrorism has resulted in the rapid expansion of counterterrorist programs and investments, very little of which justifies its cost. By their numbers, the United States spends roughly $115 billion per year on domestic homeland security, much of it on a variety of agencies, programs, technologies, and other efforts to disrupt or deter domestic terrorism. They write that the counterterrorism field includes at least 1,072 governmental organizations and agencies, plus some 2,000 private companies funded by U.S. tax dollars. That means lots of money for companies like G4S, which hired Mateen back in 2007.    more

Welsh ‘Confident’ in F-35, ‘Disappointed’ in KC-46 Delay

Gen. Mark Welsh, the outgoing Air Force Chief of Staff, is confident the F-35A joint strike fighter will be declared operational before the end of the year, but remains “disappointed” that Boeing has been unable to develop the KC-46 tanker on time.
In an exclusive interview with Defense News, Welsh also described the idea of new F-22 production as “cost prohibitive,” throwing water on the idea of a Raptor restart.
During his tenure as chief of staff, Welsh has consistently identified three major modernization programs for the service: the F-35A, KC-46A and what is now known as the B-21 bomber. And during his tenure, all three programs hit major milestones.
Of those three, the biggest challenge at the moment is the Boeing made KC-46A Pegasus tanker.
Last month, the Air Force announced Boeing would miss a deadline to have 18 tankers ready to go by August of 2017. Instead, those 18 aircraft will be ready come January 2018, barring any further delays. The company has already been hit with $1.5 billion in cost overruns; the development contract it is operating under caps the Air Force's liability at $4.9 billion, with the company having to eat the rest.  more

Sikorsky uses tablet to complete autonomous flight

Test pilots for Sikorsky recently used tablets to fly one of the firm’s S-76 commercial helicopters, part of a Pentagon look at installing autonomous, or self-piloting, systems into existing helicopter models.
The chopper flew from the company’s Stratford, Conn., facility to Robertson Airport in Plainville, Conn. — a distance of about 30 miles — in January, a press release from the firm said. Pilots used a tablet to load the flight plan and initiate take-off, leaving system software to handle the flight controls and make adjustments.
The test completes the $8 million first phase of an autonomous cockpit program run by the military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. Dubbed the Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit System, or ALIAS, program, it aims to fit autonomous systems into existing helicopter models such as the company’s UH-60 Black Hawk. Pilots and trainers would have the option of using the system instead of flying the aircraft manually.  more

Monday, June 13, 2016

General Robotics Unveils Newest Combat Robot

General Robotics Ltd., recently unveiled, DOGO, a lightweight tactical combat robot capable of carrying light weapons.
Weighing roughly 26 pounds, DOGO was designed for Special Forces, SWAT teams, and infantry missions, and can maneuver across difficult terrain as well as climb stairs, according to a June 1 General Robotics press release. Light weapons can be quickly attached to DOGO and easily operated. DOGO can also integrate with non-lethal modules.
The robot includes eight video cameras that provide 360° images and boresight views, and it is outfitted with the means to communicate in hostage situations.
“Our solutions were developed to enhance force protection and enable real-time situational awareness and response,” according to Ehud Gal, CEO and president of General Robotics.  more

Russia: We will respond to entry of U.S. naval vessel into Black Sea

The Russian Foreign ministry said Moscow would respond to a U.S. naval ship's entry into the Black Sea with unspecified measures, saying it and other deployments were designed to ratchet up tensions ahead of a NATO summit, the RIA news agency reported.
Russian state media reported that the USS Porter, a U.S. naval destroyer, entered the Black Sea a few days ago on a routine deployment, a move it said raised hackles in Moscow because it had recently been fitted with a new missile system.
U.S. Navy officials told reporters on Wednesday the U.S. military would also have two aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean this month ahead of a July NATO summit in Warsaw as Washington sought to balance Russian military activities.
"Of course, this does not meet with our approval and will undoubtedly lead to response measures," RIA cited Andrei Kelin, a senior Foreign Ministry official, as saying about the USS Porter's movements.  more

Obama approves broader role for U.S. forces in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama has approved giving the U.S. military greater ability to accompany and enable Afghan forces battling a resilient Taliban insurgency, in a move to assist them more proactively on the battlefield, a U.S. official told Reuters.
The senior U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the decision would also allow greater use of U.S. air power, particularly close air support.
However, the official cautioned: "This is not a blanket order to target the Taliban."
Obama's decision again redefines America's support role in Afghanistan's grinding conflict, more than a year after international forces wrapped up their combat mission and shifted the burden to Afghan troops.
It also comes ahead of Obama's eagerly anticipated decision on whether to forge ahead with a scheduled reduction in the numbers of U.S. troops from about 9,800 currently to 5,500 by the start of 2017.  more

Friday, June 10, 2016

Battelle, Halyard teaming on Navy medical project

Battelle and Halyard Health are teaming up on a $14.4 million U.S. Navy project aimed at saving more tissue after battlefield injuries, Battelle announced Thursday.
The Office of Naval Research project aims to give military medics in the field something better with which to initially treat severely injured limbs, the company said.The Acute Care Cover for Severely Injured Limbs, or ACCSIL, initiative, includes the development of a cover that protects an injured limb while providing a therapeutic cocktail that mitigates the trauma and aids tissue survival.  more

Thursday, June 9, 2016

World record set for longest amphibious vehicle bridge during Exercise Anakonda 2016

Soldiers, civilians and media excitedly watch from a nearby hilltop as 34 M3 Amphibious Rigs, both German and British, drive into the Vistula River near Chelmno, Poland, before converting into boats. In less than 40 minutes, the U.S., U.K., German and Polish troops set a new world record by building the longest amphibious vehicle bridge during Exercise Anakonda 2016, June 7-17.

The river quickly resembles a game of battleship as all 34 rigs descend into the water. "The vehicle is basically a big truck that has large aluminum pontoons attached to both sides that make it very buoyant," explained British Capt. Simon Mayers assigned to the 75th Engineer Regiment. "Once it's on the water, the pontoons open out and then the vehicles line up side by side together to form a ferry. When we have enough vehicles together, we can put ramps out and connect all the trucks together to make a bridge. "

The mass formation of rigs stretching the length of the river is awe-inspiring but the real thrill comes as U.S. forces convoy across the makeshift bridge, demonstrating the sheer power of the rigs and the combined capability of four nations to dominate both land and water areas of operation, while acting as one powerful entity. Approximately 200 U.S. military vehicles successfully crossed the bridge, while the Polish army provided security.

"Moving a unit as large as the 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment and crossing a river without any assets would be incredibly challenging," said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Kyle Griffin, armor officer assigned to 4th Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment. "This specific exercise tests the logistical capacity of the unit and allows us to refine our standards."

Griffin has practiced several bridge crossings over the past year but none on this scale. "Working with the international forces has been fantastic," Griffin said. "My platoon has personally worked with the German and Polish armies and they've been extremely hospitable and welcoming."

According to Mayers, the rigs are normally capable of building 100 meters of bridge, which is enough for heavy trucks like Strykers, in as little as 30 minutes.

Exercise Anakonda 2016 is a Polish-led exercise that includes more than 25,000 participants from 24 nations and demonstrates cooperative efforts to increase combined training and security with partner and allied forces in Europe.

Swift Response 16 highlights allied airborne capabilities

Exercise Swift Response 16 kicked in to high gear here this week as paratroopers from the British, Italian, Polish and U.S. Army conducted multiple and simultaneous airborne jumps on to the Polish countryside as a demonstration of allied rapid response capabilities.

Exercise Swift Response 2016 (SR16) is one of the premier military crisis response training events for multinational airborne forces in the world and takes place in Poland and Germany, May 27-June 24.

The training is evaluating the readiness of the core ground component of the U.S. Army's Global Response Force (GRF) (currently the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.) alongside high-readiness forces from Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, as well as additional U.S. Army and Air Force units in Europe. The GRF provides the U.S. with the ability to deploy airborne elements anywhere in the world to respond to crisis situations within 18 hours of notification.

This is the second summer in a row that the Army's GRF participated in Swift Response. This year the exercise involves two phases.

Phase 1 (May 27-June 9) took place primarily in Poland and featured simultaneous airborne operations: the first led by the 1/82 Airborne -- which, after alerting and out-loading a battalion-sized element from Fort Bragg, N.C., conducted a transatlantic airborne Joint Forcible Entry (JFE) operation to seize key terrain alongside Polish and British paratroopers on a drop zone near Torun, Poland. The second jump included elements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade and Italian paratroopers near Swidwin, Poland.

The paratroopers near Torun then secured a bridge leading in to the city of Torun for the passage of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment the following day as that unit moved through Poland on their way to exercise Saber Strike in the Baltics.

The second phase of the exercise will take place at U.S. Army training areas in southern Germany as the airborne forces conduct a combat training center rotation as part of a 10-nation task force.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Panetta: Trump's Remarks on Defense 'Irresponsible'

Former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta condemned presumptive Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump’s national security positions as “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”
Echoing Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s lambasting of Trump in a foreign policy speech last week, Panetta, in a CNN interview Monday, blasted day-to-day inconsistencies in Trump’s foreign policy positions.
“I think [former] Secretary Clinton tried to point that out last week, that this is a dangerous approach for somebody who wants to be commander-in-chief,” said Panetta, who served alongside Clinton when she was secretary of state. “I worry that it's sending a signal to countries abroad that a candidate for the president of the United States really doesn’t know what he really wants to do when it comes to protecting our national security.”  more

Narendra Modi Bolsters India’s Ties With U.S., Thanks to Donald Trump

After decades of mistrust and fitful reconciliation efforts, India and the United States turned toward cooperation Tuesday, and Donald J. Trump can claim at least some of the credit.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, making his second visit to the White House in two years, announced a crucial step toward ratification of the Paris agreement to limit greenhouse gases, bringing the accord close to full implementation. The two sides also announced that they intended to finalize a deal in which India will buy six nuclear reactors from Westinghouse by June 2017, fulfilling an agreement struck in 2005 by President George W. Bush. The two sides are still discussing price, but more difficult issues like liability have been resolved.
A defense deal, technology agreement and American investments in India are also expected to be announced on Tuesday. Mr. Modi has made clear that he intends to set aside decades of standoffishness — rooted in India’s colonial experience — to cement closer ties with Washington, in part because the next American leader may not share President Obama’s enthusiasm for India.
The news media in India has extensively chronicled comments by Mr. Trump that critics have said were racist, his “America First” views and his unorthodox campaign. While Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said little about India, his vows to tighten immigration policies worry Indian officials.
“Modi wants to get as much as he can out of Obama’s last months in office,” said Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.  more

US Plans to Commit Combat Troops to NATO's Eastern Flank

NATO officials are close to securing a deal that would station one U.S. combat battalion along with three allied battalions on Europe's eastern flank as an additional deterrent to future Russian aggression, according to military experts.
The plan to bolster military presence in Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania comes as NATO officials are preparing for the a summit in Warsaw set for July 8-9.
The U.S. military for months has been conducting joint exercises with other NATO military units in Europe to reassure allies and deter Russia from attempting future operations similar to its incursion into Ukraine in 2014.
So far NATO's military response to Russia deploying thousands of troops into Ukraine has come in the form of small-scale airborne operations involving several countries.
Swift Response 16, which began May 27 and is scheduled to run through June 26 in Poland and Germany, will include more than 5,000 soldiers and airmen from the United States, Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
Swift Response will demonstrate the allies' ability to respond to a crisis scenario from staging bases in both Europe and the U.S. within 18 hours of notification.
A battalion of 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division will make a 10-hour transatlantic flight -- including en-route refueling, mission planning and parachute rigging -- from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to parachute into the exercise area near Torun, Poland.
The Pentagon also recently announced it plans to deploy an armored brigade combat team to Eastern Europe next February. That plan essentially calls for the constant presence of a third brigade in Europe. Two are already permanently stationed in Europe -- a Stryker brigade and an airborne brigade. And now a brigade will rotate in and out on a continual basis, according to the Associated Press.
In addition to these three combat brigades, the United States has agreed to commit one battalion to be stationed on the eastern flank, according to Heather Conley, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, D.C.
"I think the U.S. is making a commitment to a more sizeable, more credible deterrent," Conley said.  more

Friday, June 3, 2016

Can the Navy’s Electric Cannon Be Saved?

The Navy’s futuristic electric cannon, or railgun, received yet more hype this week for its ability to fire a shell at up to 5,600 miles per hour, and do it far more cheaply than a missile. But there’s a daunting reality behind the hype: the Pentagon is already looking past the railgun to a less power-intensive, more easily deployable alternative.  The railgun rounds can be fired from more conventional cannons, giving the same capability sooner and cheaper.  more

Does the Navy’s Little Warship Need a Bigger Cannon?

Criticism about the Littoral Combat Ship’s ability to survive in battle prompted the Navy to eye a series of firepower-boosting upgrades and to redesignate the ship a frigate. Service officials have not finalized the ship’s configuration; meanwhile, companies and experts are weighing in on the best mix of weapons for it.
Currently, both versions of LCS, the Lockheed Martin-made Freedom class and the Austal-made Independence class, carry a BAE Systems Mark 110 57-millimeter gun. The bow-mounted gun is the ship’s main defense against fast-moving and swarming boats.  more

Navy eyes miniature nuclear reactors to power its bases

While nearly a fifth of the Navy’s ships run on nuclear power, the only land-based nuclear reactors the service operates are for training purposes. But Mabus said this week he wants to explore the concept of installing small, modular nuclear reactors on bases to continue their push toward independence from off-base energy.
Rather than the large, utility-scale nuclear plants currently in use by civilian power companies, Mabus said he envisions a system of small, “distributed” nuclear generators networked together via a microgrid on a given base.
“With some of the new technology that’s coming along, it’s much safer, it produces far less residue and nuclear waste, and it is an option that I think we should explore,” he said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York this week. “In every source of energy, whether it’s solar or conventional energy, it’s becoming much more distributed where you generate and store energy exactly where you use it. We’re looking at nuclear in the same way, but we haven’t gotten there yet.”  more

Air Force F-35A To Skip Farnborough Air Show

The US Marine Corps is planning to send a pair of short-takeoff and vertical-landing F-35Bs to the Farnborough Air Show in the United Kingdom this summer for the fifth-generation Lockheed Martin jet’s international debut.
But the Air Force is now dropping plans to send two of its conventional takeoff-and-landing F-35As to join the Marine Corps jets at the commercial air show.
Both the Air Force F-35A and the Marine Corps F-35B will appear at the Royal International Air Tattoo military show in the UK in early July. The planes will appear in a heritage flight fly-by and on static display during the show, according to Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff.
But due to a lack of hangar space at Farnborough, the F-35A is scheduled to return to the US after RIAT, Graff said June 2.  more

Predator next-gen derivative Big Wing boosts flight time

The Big Wing next-generation derivative of the Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial system has performed a 37-hour, non-stop flight in testing by GA-ASI.
The flight in California demonstrated Predator B Big Wing's ability to boost flight time by over 10 hours while replicating an operational mission in altitude and maneuver profile, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems said at the ILA Berlin Airshow."This long-endurance flight demonstrates Predator B Big Wing's game-changing potential for providing life-saving persistent ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) in support of U.S. and coalition warfighters," said David R. Alexander, president, Aircraft Systems, GA-ASI. "Our company continually strives to extend Predator B's already impressive endurance further, pushing the aircraft's capabilities to its full potential."GA-ASI said follow-on testing of the aircraft will be conducted to further expand the aircraft's flight envelope endurance profile.The company said the Predator B Big Wing also features short-field takeoff and landing performance, active lift spoilers on the wings for precision automatic landings, additional hard points for carrying external stores and provisions and integrated low- and high-band radio frequency antennas.  more

Eyeing China, Obama demands Congress move on key UN maritime rules

US President Barack Obama asked Congress to ratify contentious UN maritime rules Thursday, hoping to strengthen his hand in a dangerous stand-off with Beijing over the disputed South China Sea.
Addressing the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, Obama said that Congress should approve UN rules designed to peacefully resolve maritime disputes.Obama's presidency has seen escalating diplomatic and military tensions over Beijing's claim to territory throughout the South China Sea.The area is a vital shipping channel that is also believed to have significant energy and mineral deposits.It is also pivotal to China's effort to transform the focus of its navy from coastal defense to a "blue water navy" capable of projecting power across the region.  more

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Revealed: The US Navy's Master Plan to Crush Enemy Cruise Missiles Is Here

The U.S. Navy and numerous NATO partners are developing a new, upgraded high-tech ship defense weapon designed to identify, track and destroy incoming enemy anti-ship cruise missiles and other threats, service officials explained.
The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II, or ESSM, is a new version of an existing Sea Sparrow weapons system currently protecting aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, amphibious assault ships and other vessels against anti-ship missiles and other surface and airborne short-range threats to ships such as drones, enemy aircraft and helicopters, Navy officials said.  more

Admiral: Submarine force shifting to payload-centric model

The submarine force is shifting from a platform-centric model to a payload-centric model, Rear Adm. Jeffrey Trussler told a small crowd Wednesday night at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus.
"We have some very good weapons in our little Swiss knife but we're still very limited," Trussler said.
Trussler is the commander of the Undersea Warfighting Development Center, which began operating Sept. 1, 2015, in Groton as part of a larger Navy plan to establish warfighting development centers for air, undersea, surface and expeditionary forces.
The command is responsible for training the submarine force in advanced tactics, techniques and procedures for anti-submarine warfare.
His talk Wednesday, "The Future of the Submarine Force and Submarine Warfare," was part of Connecticut's Submarine Century lecture series.
At any given time, the U.S. can have five to 10 submarines around the world, Trussler said, and "their job is just to help us listen, walk that potential future battle space to give us forewarning of adversary activities."  more

Big Win Over ISIS Could Mean a New War

Troops fighting ISIS appeared to on the verge of another victory over the self-proclaimed Islamic State Wednesday, as they moved into a city that has served as the main thoroughfare for ISIS foreign fighters and weapons. But the potential seizure of the Syrian city of Manbij by U.S.-backed forces is only likely to set off a new battle for control—this time pitting Arabs against Kurds.
The battle Wednesday reflected a growing problem for the U.S. and its push to train local fighters, even as those forces take territory from ISIS. Who exactly will govern those towns now? Will it be the Kurds who have led the fight against ISIS? Or will it be what some in the Pentagon have privately called the “token Arabs” trained by the U.S. to accompany them?  more

Air Force Chief: US Must be Ready to Fight in Space

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said the U.S. Air Force needs to be ready to engage in space combat.
“Other nations are preparing to use space as a battlefield, a big battlefield, and we’d better be ready to fight there,” Welsh said last week in Arlington, Virginia. “We don’t want to fight there but we better be ready for it because other people clearly are posturing themselves to be able to do that.”
Welsh, who will be retiring on July 1 after just over 40 years of service, made his comments Thursday morning in Arlington, Virginia, at an Air Force Association breakfast.
His comment about space as a battlefield came in the context of what the U.S. needs to be able to do to win future fights.
One of the absolutes in modern warfare, he said, is firepower – “more of it, more quickly and more precisely.” And the Air Force needs to have that not only in the air domain but in cyber and space domains.  more

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Crews Aboard the Navy's New Sub-Hunter Get Less Tired

Crews aboard the U.S. Navy's new submarine-hunter are getting less tired during missions in part because the Boeing Co.-made plane flies much smoother than its predecessor, a company official said.
Fred Smith, director of global sales and marketing for Boeing's maritime surveillance and engagement business, recently briefed reporters on production and training programs for the P-8 Poseidon, a twin-engine jet based on the company's 737 commercial airliner.
Smith said crew members aboard the new maritime surveillance aircraft are better able to spot targets such as submarines and surface ships than its predecessor, the four-engine turboprop P-3 Orion introduced by Lockheed Martin Corp. in the 1960s, in part because they're less fatigued.
"Recognition differential is much higher on the P-8 because the operators simply have more situational awareness, because of the [newer] equipment and because [crew members] have less fatigue," he said during a briefing with reporters earlier this month at the company's offices in Arlington, Virginia.
"Not only is there more room, but it's just the physical nature of the airplane," he added. "The P-3 has short, stubby wings [that are] very inflexible and every bump out there at 200-300 feet over the water, you feel it -- you feel it vibrate through your body. Those large turboprops out there [provide] constant noise."
Whereas on the P-8, "it's much quieter on the interior of the airplane. The wings are out there absorbing the shock from the buffeting and it's just a smoother ride. It's a much safer ride, frankly. The pilots will tell you, it's much less complicated to operate than a P-3," said Smith, who noted that his own son recently transitioned from flying the Orion to the Poseidon.  more