Friday, December 30, 2016

DARPA radio transmitter to revolutionize battlefield communications

DARPA radio transmitter to revolutionize battlefield communications: Military engineers are looking to revolutionize battlefield communications by introducing a new project that seeks to bridge gaps in current military communications capabilities.

The program, by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is called A Mechanically Based Antenna, or AMEBA for short. It is headed by Troy Olsson, DARPA’s program manager in the Microsystems Technology Office.

Olsson’s program seeks to leverage the benefits of ultra low frequency (ULF) and very low frequency (VLF), which operate in the electromagnetic spectrum band between hundreds of hertz and three kilohertz (KHz), and three to 30 KHz, respectively.

The benefit of the ULF and VLF bands is their ability to penetrate water, soil, rock, metal and building materials, and their potential for long distance communication — as the atmosphere acts as a waveguide to propagate ULF and VLF due to their extremely long wavelengths, according to Olsson.

First Female Infantry Marines to Graduate Boot Camp in January |

First Female Infantry Marines to Graduate Boot Camp in January | Just over a year after Defense Secretary Ash Carter issued a mandate opening previously closed ground combat jobs to women, the Marine Corps expects to see its first female recruits with infantry contracts graduate boot camp, bringing them one step closer to billets in combat arms units.

To date, 31 female Marines have signed enlistment contracts for previously closed combat arms military occupational specialties, or jobs, Jim Edwards, a spokesman for Marine Corps Recruiting Command, told

Of these recruits, 21 have active-duty contracts for "03XX" ground infantry jobs, a field that includes rifleman, mortarman and machine gunner, among other jobs, Edwards said. Nine more have committed to four different artillery, vehicle and air support jobs, including field artillery cannoneer, armor Marine, assault amphibious vehicle Marine, and low-altitude air defense gunner, he said. And one woman enlisted on a reserve contract as a light armored vehicle Marine.

The new enlistees quietly began shipping to boot camp this fall. Edwards said 16 shipped to recruit training Oct. 1, and 15 remain in the delayed entry program and are expected to ship to recruit training after the start of the new year.

Marines' Africa Crisis Task Force Gears for Change as It Shrinks |

Marines' Africa Crisis Task Force Gears for Change as It Shrinks | The Marine Corps' crisis response task force for Africa will see its air contingent cut in half in 2017 as the service strives to build up aviation readiness at home.

As a result, outgoing task force commander Col. Martin Wetterauer said this month, the unit will be able to take on only one major mission at a time, joint military exercises with other nations will be cut back, and training for pilots deployed with the task force will present a significant challenge.

In a move first announced by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford during congressional testimony in May, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa -- created following the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya -- is cutting back from 12 MV-22B Ospreys to six and from six C-130 Hercules aircraft to three in the new year.

As that takes place, Wetterauer said during a briefing near Washington, D.C., on Dec. 15, the capacity of the unit will change.

"[The reduction in aircraft] doesn't change our ability to conduct the mission, but it changes the ability to conduct multiple missions," he said.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

US Army to Demo Robotic Wingman Vehicles in 2017

US Army to Demo Robotic Wingman Vehicles in 2017: The US Army is planning to demonstrate a host of combat vehicles in the role of robotic wingmen in 2017 at Fort Benning, Georgia, as it prepares to enter an official program of record in 2023.

The service is already successfully teaming unmanned and manned aircraft in the field, pairing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters with Shadow and Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft to fill the role of an armed scout helicopter after the Army retired its OH-58 Kiowa Warriors.

But teaming vehicles on the ground poses more challenges such as safely navigating around stationary or moving obstacles and rolling over rough terrain. The Army has a lot of thinking and experimenting ahead of itself to iron out concepts for today's and tomorrow's battlefield.

One of the efforts planned for the summer of 2017 at Fort Benning will assess whether it’s possible to give the weapons loader on an Abrams tank the responsibility to control unmanned air and ground vehicles by equipping the tank with an automatic loader, Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, the commanding general at the Army’s Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, said during a teleconference with reporters this month.

Okinawa: Work Resumes on Controversial Military Runway |

Okinawa: Work Resumes on Controversial Military Runway | Work resumed Tuesday on a controversial new U.S. military runway after local opposition shut down the project for 10 months.

Workers began preparing to reset floats around the construction area in Oura Bay at Henoko, according to Okinawa Defense Bureau officials.

The move came a day Gov. Takeshi Onaga abided by Japanese court rulings and retracted his cancellation order on a landfill permit for the runway. The permit was issued by his predecessor as part of the process of closing Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and relocating it to Camp Schwab.

"In accordance with the final decision by the Supreme Court, the government will carry out the landfill work," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday. "To reduce the burden and potential danger associated with the military presence, as well as maintaining its deterrence power, moving the operations to Henoko is the only solution."

McCain: Permanent US Troops in Estonia, Rather Than Rotation |

McCain: Permanent US Troops in Estonia, Rather Than Rotation | Sen. John McCain has pledged U.S. support to the security of Russia's three Baltic neighbors amid worries that the United States may not be fully committed to the defense of NATO allies following statements by President-elect Donald Trump.

McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said during a visit to Estonia on Tuesday that Washington should consider at least basing troops permanently in that country.

He says the U.S. remains committed to NATO, but that having soldiers assigned to Estonia full-time instead of during rotations would strengthen military ties between the two nations.

McCain, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is touring Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this week with fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar. The lawmakers also plan to visit Ukraine, Georgia and Montenegro.

Friday, December 23, 2016

military force, Bob Gates, Barack Obama, praise | DoDBuzz

military force, Bob Gates, Barack Obama, praise | DoDBuzz: Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a persistent critic of the Obama administration on Syria, Iran, Russia and “micromanaging” the Pentagon, had grudging praise for President Barack Obama’s overall restraint on the use of military force during his eight years in office.

“I think that there have been some very real achievements in the military with President Obama,” Gates said Sunday on NBC-TV’s “Meet The Press” program.”

“I think that he has managed a difficult situation where the American people were tired of war — 14, 15 years of war — and how do we conduct ourselves so that we don’t send troops to deal with every single problem around the world,” Gates said.

Gates, a Republican who served as defense secretary for former President George W. Bush and continued into the Obama administration, noted his differences with Obama on Libya and setting a “red line” with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the use of chemical weapons.

“I certainly was opposed to the intervention in Libya,” Gates said. “I said, ‘Can’t I just finish the two wars I’m already in (Iraq and Afghanistan) before you go looking for a third one?'”

“And I frankly think that he’s made several big mistakes on Syria, beginning with the crossing of the red line — first of all, putting down a red line and then allowing, you know, allowing it to be crossed,” Gates said.

“But I think that in terms of not engaging — not sending U.S. forces to deal with every single problem around the world – (that) was a needed antidote to 15 years of war,” Gates said.

Turning Up Heat on F-35, Trump Hints at F/A-18E/F Buy | DoD Buzz

Turning Up Heat on F-35, Trump Hints at F/A-18E/F Buy | DoD Buzz: President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday fired another shot at Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and hinted at the possibility of a renewed competition with rival defense contractor Boeing Co.

“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” he tweeted on Thursday evening.

The market reaction was swift. Lockheed shares tumbled 1.7 percent while Boeing’s climbed 0.6 percent, according to a report by CNBC within an hour of Trump’s message.

The timing of Trump’s latest criticism of the F-35 program — the Pentagon’s largest acquisition effort at nearly $400 billion to buy almost 2,500 of the single-engine fighters for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — was again noteworthy.

It came a day after the president-elect met during separate meetings at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida with Lockheed Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson and Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, who oversees the F-35 program, among other top Pentagon acquisition officials.

Trump the same day met with Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, who after facing similar criticism from the president-elect for the $4 billion estimated cost of the Air Force One program to develop two or possible three of specially modified 747s pledged to reduce the cost of the effort.

Lockheed had no comment.

Air Force Wants 350K Airmen by 2024 |

Air Force Wants 350K Airmen by 2024 |

The Air Force is putting forth its wishlist to expand its active-duty force to 350,000 airmen over the next seven years, two senior service officials have disclosed to

"I'm convinced that the Air Force we need is going to be about 350,000 airmen," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a statement that first appeared in USA Today.

"We got too small, too fast. We're too big an Air Force with too many programs for the budget that we have, and way too small an Air Force for what the nation is asking its Air Force to do," Goldfein said.

The Air Force is doubling down on its quest to expand the force after years of cutbacks. The push for the increase comes as President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to rebuild and increase the size of the military.

"This is what we think we need as an Air Force," one official later said on Wednesday during a phone call.

The officials said without the "balanced increase," leadership will have to look at eliminating some mission sets.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

US Army Dusting Off Volcano Mine Dispensers

US Army Dusting Off Volcano Mine Dispensers: The US Army is dusting off mine dispenser systems it originally used in the 1990s because it sees an important role for them against near-peer adversaries now and in the future.

The Volcano system can turn a vehicle or a helicopter into something like a Pez dispenser for mines. Volcano was used prior to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but has laid relatively dormant during the last 15 years of war in the Middle East because the Army did not see a role for it there.

But the systems didn’t go away entirely. A 2012 video posted to YouTube shows the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade stationed at Seoul Air Base in South Korea training and qualifying to use the air Volcano mine system. Volcano was deployed there to serve as a deterrent to North Korean advances, allowing a large amount of land mines to be dispersed quickly.

Now, according to the service's Training and Doctrine Command's Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC), the Army plans to resurrect Volcano as a key capability within Cross Domain Fires, one of its top six modernization priorities.

ACTUV on track for Navy success story

ACTUV on track for Navy success story: Researchers are reporting significant progress on efforts to build a large, long-distance unmanned vessel to extend the Navy’s eyes and ears.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began work in the project in 2010. It has spent $100 million on R&D for the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) and another $23 million to have Leidos build the prototype presently being tested out of San Diego.

On the heels of recent successful demonstrations, the coming year could prove pivotal to the program.

“We have a bunch of testing coming up, including a lot of at-sea testing of the collision avoidance systems. That will start in January and run through most of 2017,” said Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager in the tactical technology office.

DoD Opens Biofabrication Hub in New Hampshire

DoD Opens Biofabrication Hub in New Hampshire

The Pentagon has announced plans to open a manufacturing institute focused on the creation of human tissue biofabrication, which will be the seventh defense-related manufacturing center under the Obama administration’s Manufacturing USA program.

The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) will be based in Manchester, New Hampshire, with the mission to “organize the current fragmented domestic capabilities in tissue biofabrication technology and better position the U.S. relative to global competition,” according to an announcement from the Pentagon.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top acquisition official who was on hand at a White House event to announce the decision to award ARMI with government funding, called keeping America’s manufacturing edge ““fundamentally important to our national security.”

As an example, Kendall told a story about how during the Cold War, Pentagon planners were concerned about the technological genius of Soviet engineers, but discovered after the war that the equipment suffered from inferior manufacturing techniques and materials. Making sure US industry continues to produce at a high quality is vital for American defense, he added.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Underwater radio, anyone?

Underwater radio, anyone?: Here's something easy to forget when you are chatting on your cell phone or flipping channels on your smart TV: although wireless communication seems nothing short of magic, it is a brilliant, reality-anchored application of physics and engineering in which radio signals travel from a transmitter to a receiver in the form of electric and magnetic fields woven into fast-as-light electromagnetic waves.

That very same physics imposes some strict limits, including ones that frustrate the Department of Defense. Key among these is that radio frequency signals hit veritable and literal walls when they encounter materials like water, soil, and stone, which can block or otherwise ruin those radio signals. This is why scuba buddies rely on sign language and there are radio-dead zones inside tunnels and caves.

With his newly announced A Mechanically Based Antenna (AMEBA) effort, program manager Troy Olsson of DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office is betting on a little-exploited aspect of electromagnetic physics that could expand wireless communication and data transfer into undersea, underground, and other settings where such capabilities essentially have been absent.

The basis for these potential new abilities are ultra-low-frequency (ULF) electromagnetic waves, ones between hundreds of hertz and 3 kilohertz (KHz), which can penetrate some distance into media like water, soil, rock, metal, and building materials.

A nearby band of very-low-frequency (VLF) signals (3 KHz to 30 KHz) opens additional communications possibilities because for these wavelengths the atmospheric corridor between the Earth's surface and the ionosphere-the highest and electric-charge-rich portion of the upper atmosphere-behaves like a radio waveguide in which the signals can propagate halfway around the planet.

US Naval Secretary Calls For 355-Ship Fleet

US Naval Secretary Calls For 355-Ship Fleet: In announcing the results of the 2016 Force Structure Assessment (FSA), U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus recommended a 355-ship fleet, including 12 carriers, 104 large surface combatants, 52 small surface combatants, 38 amphibious ships and 66 submarines.

The FSA is a year-long effort which began in January that was conducted to evaluate long-term defense security requirements for future naval forces today at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.

Mabus’ assessment will be one input to the Navy's FY-2018 30-year shipbuilding plan. The current proposed Navy budget is seen as a bridge to this larger Navy, with shipbuilding on an upward glide slope toward 308 ships.

“To continue to protect America and defend our strategic interests around the world, all while continuing the counter terrorism fight and appropriately competing with a growing China and resurgent Russia, our Navy must continue to grow,” Mabus said. “All of the analysis done to date, inside and outside of the Navy, recognizes, as we have for nearly the last eight years, the need for a larger fleet. That is why, working with Congress and our partners in industry, we have successfully reversed the decline in shipbuilding that occurred from 2001-2009, putting 86 ships under contract over the last seven years. Maintaining this momentum, and the cost-saving business practices we have established, will be critical to ensuring the Navy is able to achieve the FSA-recommended fleet size and is positioned to maintain the global presence the Navy and Marine Corps uniquely provide our nation.”

Versatile F-4 Phantoms making 'final flight' for U.S. military

Versatile F-4 Phantoms making 'final flight' for U.S. military: The last of thousands of F-4 Phantom jets that have been a workhorse for the U.S. military over five decades are being put to pasture to serve as ground targets for strikes by newer aircraft.

But first some well-earned honors.

The Air Force will hold a "final flight" retirement ceremony Wednesday at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, where the last F-4s are still flying for the U.S. military. The ceremony will celebrate the airplane's rich military history as the jet was a mainstay during the Vietnam War and used for decades for reconnaissance missions and anti-missile electronic jamming.

McDonnell Douglas — now part of the Boeing Co. — built more than 5,000 F-4s for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. It first flew in the late 1950s, and production ended in 1985.

NSA watchdog on leave in whistleblower case | The Star-Telegram

NSA watchdog on leave in whistleblower case | The Star-Telegram: Allegations of retaliation against a whistleblower at the National Security Agency have left its top watchdog fighting for his job, according to an intelligence official and another individual familiar with the case.

The case could offer some credence to Edward Snowden's claim that he could not have reported the government's domestic surveillance program without facing reprisals.

George Ellard, the NSA's inspector general, was placed on administrative leave after he refused to give the whistleblower a certain job assignment. The Project on Government Oversight, an advocacy group, first reported last week that Adm. Mike Rogers, director of NSA, had placed Ellard on leave and recommended that he be terminated. Ellard is appealing that decision.


Ellard received attention in 2014 for remarks at Georgetown University Law Center criticizing Snowden, the former NSA contractor who had leaked secret documents about the surveillance program. Snowden says he went public because he feared retaliation from his superiors if he had raised his concerns with them. Ellard said at Georgetown that Snowden could have safely come to him.

Ellard's case is the first to move completely through a process created by President Barack Obama in 2012 to ensure that intelligence employees can effectively report waste, fraud and abuse while protecting classified information. The directive prohibits agencies from retaliating against them or taking away security clearances or an employee's access to classified information.

McCain Blasts Navy Warships in Report on Pentagon Waste |

McCain Blasts Navy Warships in Report on Pentagon Waste |

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is blasting the Navy's expensive new warships that have been plagued by engine problems and have yet to demonstrate key warfighting functions.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a Navy fighter pilot in the Vietnam War, said the $12.4 billion spent for 26 littoral combat ships is the most egregious example of what he calls "America's Most Wasted: Indefensible," the latest in a series of reports on wasteful spending by the Pentagon.

In a report Monday, McCain calls the littoral ship program "an unfortunate and classic example" of defense acquisition gone awry." Initially expected to cost $220 million per ship and be able to counteract mines by 2008, the program's cost has more than doubled to $478 million per ship, and mine countermeasures are not expected to be operational until 2020.

As the military confronts a diverse and complex array of national security challenges, the U.S. "simply cannot afford to waste our precious defense dollars on unnecessary or poorly performing programs" such as the littoral ships, McCain said. They are designed to operate in shallow coastal — or littoral — waters.

Navy Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, defended the program to the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month, saying that he is well aware of the problems surrounding the ship's development and has been leading the effort to identify solutions. He said they have come up with a number of recommendations to address the issues.

Monday, December 19, 2016

US Eyes Bigger Partnership with China on Space - Defensetech

US Eyes Bigger Partnership with China on Space - Defensetech

As NASA scientists aim to cooperate on research with their Chinese counterparts, more communication between the agencies may not be such a bad idea — a partnership that might even bolster space agreements, officials say.

Speaking at a DefenseOne Space, Satellite and Communications briefing Tuesday near Washington, D.C., Brian Weeden, technical adviser to the Secure World Foundation, said the scope of how the U.S. works with China needs to expand.

While space wasn’t a dominant topic in this year’s election, Weeden said both Trump and Clinton campaign surrogates publicized “fairly favorably some sort of cooperation engagement with China.”

Weeden said it’s unknown whether those favorable views toward China in the space realm will translate into hard policy under President-Elect Donald Trump. “But I think there is … a growing sense that having the only interaction with China [be] in a national security, military context — I think is a problem,” he said during a discussion.

Weeden said there needs to be “commercial or civil engagement” to help deal with additional challenges, such as managing space traffic and debris control.

Since 2011, Congress has banned NASA from joint research and technology programs or data sharing with China even though the U.S. and Russia have had a robust association, even in times of conflict.

However, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has been trying to build bridges with China on a space program. In August, he visited China and met with the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment and the Civil Aviation Administration. The next month, NASA announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with those agencies to analyze data from Chinese airports “to identify potential efficiencies in air traffic management.”

Friday, December 16, 2016

Is War in Space Inevitable? Maybe Not

Is War in Space Inevitable? Maybe Not: The picture is one of chaos: highway traffic snarled, bank ATMs and the world's stock exchanges slowed and disabled, smartphones rendered dumb, air traffic grounded, communications slowed or stopped, military capability turned back in time a half century. This is a scenario recently forecast in several places as representing one of the consequences of a war in space.

There would also be no more GPS, or its Russian equivalent (GLONASS), or that of China (BeiDou2) or Europe (Galileo). No more SATCOM or weather satellites. Nations emerging with the help of satellite capabilities returning to darkness.

The war leaves the battlespace untenable for years, perhaps centuries, because of debris from destroyed satellites. Any trip to explore another planet would have to negotiate a debris minefield in space. It's a scenario some say is inevitable as space becomes more congested and contested. But maybe not. "Everything is about not having a war extend to space," said RAdm. Brian Brown, deputy commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, part of the U.S. Strategic Command.

In a November 17 panel at the Defense One Summit, Brown, DoD Deputy Undersecretary (Space) Winston Beauchamp and Scott Szymanski, mission manager for space with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, offered alternatives to space conflict.

For now, the goal is to have sufficient resilience to assure that satellite capability survives jamming and other offensive moves in orbit. Beauchamp outlined ideas being considered to build satellite resilience, singling out commercial satellite communications as a primary component of an eventual government plan.

U.S. Demands Return of Drone Seized by Chinese Warship - The New York Times

U.S. Demands Return of Drone Seized by Chinese Warship - The New York Times:

The Pentagon said on Friday that it had issued a formal protest to Beijing demanding the return of an underwater drone seized by a Chinese warship in the South China Sea, an incident that risked increasing tensions in a region already fraught with great-power rivalries.

A Defense Department official said that the unmanned underwater vehicle was discovered missing on Thursday when the crew of the United States Navy vessel Bowditch tried to retrieve it.

The Bowditch, an oceanographic ship, was operating in international waters and carrying out scientific research, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a potentially delicate international incident.

American officials said they were still trying to determine whether the seizure was a low-level action taken by Chinese sailors who spotted the drone or a strategic-level action ordered by more senior Chinese leaders.

Whatever the case, the Pentagon said that China had no right to seize the drone.

“This is not the sort of conduct we expect from professional navies,” said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

The incident is the second this week in the South China Sea, coming just after China signaled on Thursday that it had installed weapons on disputed islands that it would use to repel threats.

Ice-busting Ship Preps for Trip Amid Push to Replace Fleet |

Ice-busting Ship Preps for Trip Amid Push to Replace Fleet |

The only U.S. ship capable of breaking through Antarctica's thick ice is getting scrubbed down, fixed up and loaded with goods in balmy Hawaii this week as it prepares to head to the frigid south.

The voyage by Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star comes as the U.S. looks to replace and expand its aging fleet of polar icebreakers so it can maintain a presence in the most remote corners of the world. The demand for icebreaking ships is expected to grow as climate change melts sea ice and lures more traffic to northern Arctic waters.

"The specter in the future is more marine use in the Arctic, more shipping, more offshore development, more tourism," said Lawson Brigham, a professor of geography and Arctic policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The Coast Guard needs to be able to enforce U.S. laws as well as search for and rescue people in the Arctic like it does in other waters, Brigham said. Though sea ice is melting faster than before, the Arctic Ocean is fully or partially covered by ice for about three-quarters of the year.

The Seattle-based ship has stopped in Pearl Harbor to stock up on food and fuel. It was scheduled to leave Monday to carve a channel through 30 miles of ice in Antarctica so ships can resupply a U.S. research center, but it was delayed by last-minute repairs.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Invisible Costs of Cyber Weapons - Defense One

The Invisible Costs of Cyber Weapons - Defense One: Max Smeets’ take on the cost of cyber weapons is a thoughtful piece about the economics of cyber warfare, and the article is a useful point of departure on this topic. However, a few additional points not discussed by Smeets are worth considering, and they all point in the direction of higher costs that his piece might predict.

Begin with the fact that the economics for cyber weapons usable in a military context are fundamentally different than for kinetic weapons. With the latter, military power is highly correlated with number—specifically, the number of identical units of a given weapon. One hundred tanks (with crews, logistics, etc.) provides more military power than one tank. That is, for kinetic weapons, military power accrues as the result of procurement processes.

Not so for cyber weapons. No one would argue that a nation has more cyber power in a military sense if it has 100 identical CD-ROMs with a software-based cyber weapon on it. For cyber weapons, military power accrues as the result of research and development (R&D) processes.

So what? In the weapons acquisition process, R&D costs are amortized over multiple copies of a weapon. The effectiveness of a cyber weapon is a very strong function of the target’s characteristics. For example, the smallest change in configuration of the target can under many circumstances completely negate the effectiveness of a cyber weapon against it. To successfully attack two cyber targets that are almost identical may require two very different cyber weapons employing two different approaches to achieving their destructive effects. The coupling between weapons effectiveness and target characteristics is much weaker for kinetic weapons.

Pentagon updates war manual to better protect civilians

Pentagon updates war manual to better protect civilians: The US Defense Department on Tuesday released an updated version of its military war rules that now includes extra language aimed at reducing civilian casualties.

The revised Law of War Manual gives examples of precautions the US military should take to avoid civilian deaths, such as providing warnings and conducting detailed assessments of potential casualties.

"Protecting civilians in armed conflict is critical, and it's important that our legal guidance is clear and practical," Pentagon General Counsel Jennifer O'Connor said in a statement.

"This version of the manual provides greater clarity and also reflects important developments such as the president's recent executive order on civilian casualties."

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

U.S. Army to begin Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle testing

U.S. Army to begin Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle testing: The U.S. Army is set to begin testing its first Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle as it continues its M113 replacement program.

The branch expects its first delivery from BAE Systems on Dec. 15. The new vehicle will roll out from the company's plant in York, Penn. BAE Systems has been contracted to provide at least 29 of the next-generation infantry vehicles. Once delivered, the units will undergo 52 months of engineering and manufacturing.

The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or AMPV is part of the U.S. Army's effort to replace its Vietnam War-era M113 family of armored vehicles. Designed to operate alongside M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley fighting vehicles, the AMPV will feature improved protection, mobility and interoperability.

"At the end of the day, a combat vehicle is about a box," program director Maj. Gen. David G. Bassett said in a press release. "[Inside, are the latest] mobility system, lethality system, communications system and some other things. If you can take all those and put them on an existing vehicle, then maybe you don't have to build a whole new vehicle from scratch, along with the ris associated with that kind of development."

The Army also plans to issue an "analysis of alternatives." The report is expected in early 2017.

Navy Begins MQ-25 UAV Integration With Aircraft Carriers

Navy moves closer to common control system

The Navy is working to integrate the MQ-25 Stingray drone onto aircraft carriers.

The much anticipated UAV will be a tanker for aerial refueling. This, senior leaders said, would allow highly reliable aircraft, some with specifically tailored capabilities such as the premier aerial electronic attack aircraft, the EA-18G Growler, increase its range in the face of anti-access, area-denial environments, which seek to push adversaries farther away.

With this announcement, the Navy must ready itself from an integration standpoint to support the new UAS platform — building upon the successes of the X-47B demonstrator aircraft tests. At this early stage in the program, which will encompass many Navy system commands, one official is pleased by the coordination taking place.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

McCain: Taiwan is 'an independent nation' | Washington Examiner

McCain: Taiwan is 'an independent nation' | Washington Examiner: President-elect Trump's overtures to Taiwan represent a "healthy" approach to U.S. policy in the Pacific, according to Sen. John McCain, who on Monday backed Trump by saying Taiwan is an independent country.

"I think it's healthy," the Arizona Republican told CNN's Jake Tapper. "They're an independent nation, Taiwan, and I believe in the One China policy, but they are a democracy, which China is not and I believe that a conversation with the president of a freely elected, democratic Taiwan is more than appropriate."

McCain's remarks lend Trump the support of a leading Republican foreign policy maker in the Senate on an issue that has provoked broad criticism from national security experts. Trump rocked the foreign policy world by taking a phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen, the first known direct contact between an American Taiwanese leader since 1979, and then suggested that he might abandon the official U.S. position that Taiwan and mainland China form a single country.

US, Philippines Cancel Annual Amphibious-Landing Drill |

US, Philippines Cancel Annual Amphibious-Landing Drill | The U.S. and the Philippines have canceled next year's PHIBLEX amphibious landing exercise -- a move that has been in the cards since President Rodrigo Duterte called for an end to the maneuvers in September.

"In 2017, PHIBLEX will not be executed," Marine Capt. Rachel Nolan, a liaison officer at the U.S. Embassy in Manila said in an email Monday.

This year's PHIBLEX, which stands for Philippine Amphibious Landing Exercise, brought 1,400 Marines from Okinawa's 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to the Philippines to practice amphibious landings and complete live-fire training alongside 500 Philippine troops.

However, the October exercise was conducted under a cloud after Duterte made negative comments about the U.S. soon after taking office in June.

With a reputation as a tough-talking maverick, Duterte has generated public admiration for bluntly -- and often profanely -- telling the U.S. and other world powers to butt out of his brutal war on drugs while leaving his spokesman and Cabinet ministers to clean up the mess.

In September, he called for U.S. special operators assisting in the archipelago's fight against Islamic extremists to leave Mindanao island, and said he won't allow his navy to conduct joint patrols with foreign powers near the South China Sea, apparently scrapping an agreement his predecessor reached with the U.S.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana now says the country will not allow its territory to be used as a staging ground for U.S. patrols, according to The Associated Press.

Army Reserve Chief to Build Rapidly Deployable 'Ready Force X' |

Army Reserve Chief to Build Rapidly Deployable 'Ready Force X' |

The chief of the Army Reserve said Monday he wants to stand up a package of forces capable of mobilizing and deploying into a major contingency operation much faster than traditional Reserve units.

"We are calling it Ready Force X; we are still trying to figure out what Ready Force X is going to look like, what's in it and what war plans inform that requirement," Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey, chief of the Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command, told a group of defense reporters in Washington, D.C.

"I have asked the G-3/5/7 of U.S. Army Reserve Command down at Fort Bragg to do an assessment of capabilities that we think we -- the United States Army Reserve -- ought to provide to the warfighter and the Army on fairly short notice."

The Reserve is made up of commands designed provide support, such as aviation, medical, military intelligence, civil affairs and theater sustainment, to active-duty and National Guard combat forces.

Over the last 15 years, the Army Reserve has built readiness and formations in a rotational manner, Luckey said.

Now, what Reserve forces "need to be able to do is anticipate a contingency demand different than a known demand," he said.

"Instead of planning for a unit deploying sometime in 2019 and have several years to prepare, we are now in a situation where we have some capabilities that we may need to deploy in less than 90 days and, in some cases, significantly less than 90 days," Luckey said.

Monday, December 12, 2016

MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22 « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

MUX By 2026: Marines Want Armed Drone ASAP To Escort V-22 « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: When V-22 Ospreys full of Marines take to the skies 10 years from now, they could be escorted by armed high-speed drones called MUX.

That’s become the Marine Corps plan because drones let you do things differently. Doing without a pilot inside makes it possible to build unorthodox aircraft that would work poorly carrying tender humans. You can also test unmanned aircraft more quickly, because you don’t have to validate pilot safety features, and because crashes don’t cost human lives. So the Marines figure they can get the MUX — a new armed, ship-based, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) drone — four to seven years before the Army-led Future Vertical Lift (FVL) project starts replacing existing helicopters with advanced, far speedier manned VTOL aircraft.

Defense, Navy Secretaries Spar Over Budget

Defense, Navy Secretaries Spar Over Budget
The terms in office of Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus might be nearing their ends, but the two are exchanging a final series of pot shots as the federal budget preparation season reaches its climax. Carter, in the view of many, is preparing a fiscal 2018 defense budget built around cost restrictions imposed by the Budget Control Act — commonly known as sequestration — while Mabus is defiantly submitting a Navy budget anticipating the lifting of those restrictions as the Trump administration takes over in January.

The Department of the Navy budget submitted Thursday afternoon to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is reportedly billions more than the marks set by Carter, sources told Defense News. The figures cited range from a $17 billion overage over the course of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) — the current year plus the following five years — to as much as $40 billion, depending on how the money is counted.

Pentagon sources said the Navy objected to OSD directives to cut ships from the shipbuilding program — in part to pay for more submarines — while an OSD source accused the Navy of using “creative interpretation” in following budget rules. The OSD source characterized the $17 billion overage as a Navy refusal to make cuts in that amount across the FYDP.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Philippines says it will not aid U.S. in patrolling the South China Sea

Philippines says it will not aid U.S. in patrolling the South China Sea: The Philippine defense secretary said Thursday it is highly unlikely his country will allow the U.S. military to use it as a springboard for freedom-of-navigation patrols in the disputed South China Sea.

Delfin Lorenzana said U.S. ships and aircraft could use bases in Guam or Okinawa or fly from aircraft carriers to patrol the disputed waters.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, some U.S. aircraft and ships stopped in the Philippines on the way to patrolling the disputed waters to challenge China's territorial claims.

Duterte, who took office in June, has taken steps to mend ties with China and became hostile toward the Obama administration after it raised concerns over Duterte's deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.

Navy's futuristic destroyer glides past Chinese warships, docks in San Diego - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Navy's futuristic destroyer glides past Chinese warships, docks in San Diego - The San Diego Union-Tribune: Sailors lined the decks of the Zumwalt’s neighbors at Pier 12 — the amphibious warships Anchorage and New Orleans, the destroyers Milius and Wayne E. Meyer — to watch the new ship’s arrival. Serenaded by a Navy band, more than 500 family members awaited the Zumwalt and its 147-member crew as well.

On its way into San Diego Naval Base, the Zumwalt passed the Chinese frigates Yancheng and Daqing and the oiler Tai Hu, which were docked at the Embarcadero for a port call.

The Zumwalt is part of a buildup of American warships on the West Coast, a military pivot to the Pacific Rim that’s designed to deter war with a rising and increasingly aggressive China.

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution: Using data from NASA satellites and airport visibility sensors, Veterans Affairs (VA) researchers and colleagues are extending an approach used to study air pollution in the U.S. They are developing methods to estimate exposures - from dust and sand storms and other sources - for U.S. troops who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. The work to date is reported in three related studies, two now online in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association and one pending publication.

The goal is to build reliable tools for epidemiologists trying to tease out the links between respiratory health and exposure to air pollution, especially in areas of the world where American troops are deployed but that lack air-quality monitoring networks like those in the U.S.

VA funded the research as a pilot to lay the groundwork for a larger study, under the auspices of VA's Cooperative Studies Program, to assess the lung health of 4,500 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The study, expected to be launched in 2017, is titled "Pulmonary Health and Deployment to Southwest Asia and Afghanistan." The three preliminary studies involved researchers from VA, the U.S. Army, Harvard, and universities in Kuwait and Israel.

The lead experts in satellite imaging were Dr. Alexandra Chudnovsky in the Department of Geography and Human Environment, School of Geosciences, Tel Aviv University; and Dr. Petros Koutrakis in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Chudnovsky is also currently a visiting scientist at the Chan School.

Boeing WGS-8 Satellite Nearly Doubles Bandwidth for Military Users

Boeing WGS-8 Satellite Nearly Doubles Bandwidth for Military Users: Boeing's eighth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite will provide nearly twice as much communications bandwidth as previous WGS satellites due to an upgraded digital payload.

Using leading commercial digital circuit technology, the newly upgraded satellite will aid in fulfilling the increasing demand for high-data rate communications of warfighters around the globe.

"Not only does WGS-8's cutting edge digital payload nearly double the satellite's bandwidth, but the U.S. government was able to realize more than $150 million in savings for WGS-7 through WGS-10 through fixed-price block purchases and commercial operating practices," said Dan Hart, Boeing vice president, Government Satellite Systems.

"We've been able to both increase the capability and reduce the per-unit cost with each new WGS satellite we've delivered, making WGS, by far, the most cost-effective asset for military communications."

OFFSET Envisions Swarm Capabilities for Small Urban Ground Units

OFFSET Envisions Swarm Capabilities for Small Urban Ground Units: Urban canyons-with their high vertical structures, tight spaces, and limited lines of sight-constrain military communications, mobility, and tactics in the best of times. These challenges become even more daunting when U.S. forces are in areas they do not control-where they can't rely on supply chains, infrastructure, and previous knowledge of local conditions and potential threats.

Unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have long proven beneficial in such difficult urban environs, performing missions such as aerial reconnaissance and building clearance. But their value to ground troops could be vastly amplified if troops could control scores or even hundreds-"swarms"-of these robotic units at the same time.

The prime bottleneck to achieving this goal is not the robotic vehicles themselves, which are becoming increasingly capable and affordable. Rather, U.S. military forces currently lack the technologies to manage and interact with such swarms and the means to quickly develop and share swarm tactics suitable for application in diverse, evolving urban situations.

To help overcome these challenges and dramatically increase the effectiveness of small-unit combat forces operating in urban environments, DARPA has launched its new OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program. OFFSET seeks to develop and demonstrate 100+ operationally relevant swarm tactics that could be used by groups of unmanned air and/or ground systems numbering more than 100 robots.

New Details Emerge on Littoral Combat Ship Breakdowns |

New Details Emerge on Littoral Combat Ship Breakdowns | In a pair of congressional hearings about the Navy's embattled littoral combat ship program this month, service program managers and oversight officials fielded tough questions about unexpected increases from ship unit costs -- from $220 million to $470 million over the course of the program -- and concerns about a planned block buy of upgraded frigates based on the same design.

But the panel also revealed new details about the cause and scope of a series of engineering casualties that have sidelined five of the eight active littoral combat ships in a little more than a year.

In testimony on Thursday before the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on oversight and investigations, Naval Surface Forces Commander Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden revealed that the most recent casualty, damage to the USS Montgomery when it transited southward through the Panama Canal, was at least in part due to failure on the part of canal engineers not to follow the Navy's instructions on how to guide it through the narrow passage.

The Oct. 29 mishap was the second time an Independence-class LCS, with its wider trimaran design, had been damaged passing through the canal. The USS Coronado had also required repairs after a canal transit in early 2014.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A NATO to Contain China? Key US Commander Doesn’t See it

A NATO to Contain China? Key US Commander Doesn’t See it: As the US continues to rebalance its military focus to the Asia-Pacific, some have speculated that a NATO-like institution in the region might be needed to counteract the expansion of Chinese power.

But Adm. Harry Harris, the head of US Pacific Command, doesn’t see that as a feasible solution – and a top Pacific defense ally agrees it would not be a tenable one.

“I do not believe we’re ever going to see a NATO in Asia,” Harris said in response to a question at the Reagan National Defense Forum Dec. 3.

SPAWAR unveils draft 2017 strategic plan

SPAWAR unveils draft 2017 strategic plan

Before an audience of mostly defense contractors, Rear Adm. Dave Lewis, commander of Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) unveiled for the first time publicly the draft 2017 SPAWAR strategic plan.

“What you’ll see is we’ve drilled down one more level,” he said at the C5ISR Summit in Charleston, South Carolina on Dec. 7. “If you go back to ’15, our first strategic plan was high level and lacked specifics. ’16 started to get in to the particulars. ’17, now we’ve clearly identified our weak areas and we’re drilling down to very specific areas.”

The draft includes five “end states,” along with strategic objectives, that the force is looking to drive toward: •Accelerate and streamline delivery: Increase commonality in the deployed C4I configurations; increase quality of installations and decrease installation timeline cost.
•Enable modern IT service delivery: Transform and modernize IT infrastructure; deliver mobile capability to the workforce.
•Own cyber technical leadership: Protect, improve, cyber hygiene, develop standards and target architecture; respond to cyber incidents/recover to ensure capability restoration.
•Reduce the cost of operations: Optimize information for effective decision making; optimize lab infrastructure at SPAWAR.
•Optimize our organization and workforce: Manage workforce talent.
Lewis also drilled down on cybersecurity, a major priority for the Department of Defense and specifically the Navy, especially following a high-profile break of networks by the Iranians in 2013 that led to initiatives aimed at identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities.

John Kelly, the Marine General to head Homeland Security

John Kelly, the Marine General to head Homeland Security: John Kelly, the Marine Corps general reportedly picked by Donald Trump to be Homeland Security secretary, will be the new administration's lead figure as it pursues the president-elect's goal of boosting the fight against Islamic extremists and illegal immigration.

The third general chosen for Trump's cabinet, Kelly spent 45 years in the Marines, holding a range of positions from field commands in Iraq to political liaison in Congress before finishing his career as commander of the US armed forces Southern Command covering Central and South America.

That experience -- and his record administering large operations -- will be useful if he is confirmed by Congress to take charge of the Department of Homeland Security bureaucracy of 240,000 civil servants, sorely in need of rationalizing and streamlining.

But meanwhile he will be in charge of fulfilling Trump's election promises to the American people to build a huge wall on the Mexican border to keep out migrants, and to tighten legal immigration processes to screen out potential extremists.

Pentagon defends new Air Force One after Trump slam

Pentagon defends new Air Force One after Trump slam: The Defense Department defended Wednesday the project to replace Air Force One, the flagship plane used by US presidents, a day after President-elect Donald Trump called the project's costs "ridiculous."

Boeing has received a $170 million contract to develop the scope and requirements of replacing the aging Air Force One, which is actually two planes -- one for the president and a spare.

On Tuesday, Trump said Boeing was spending $4 billion on the new plane and called for the order to be canceled.

Converting a pair of 747-8 jumbo jets to state-of-the-art luxury command centers by 2024 had been estimated to cost $3 billion, and cost overruns and delays could bring the price tag up to Trump's estimate.

But Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis underscored the complexities of the project and suggested it was not a simple bonanza for Boeing.

"It sounds like a lot, but you have to remember: This is a system of systems, it's multiple aircraft and it's not all Boeing," Davis said.

"This is a system that's going to have many different companies providing the systems that go on it. And we simply don't know the exact figure."

Philippines Says It Won't Help US Patrols in South China Sea |

Philippines Says It Won't Help US Patrols in South China Sea |

The Philippine defense secretary said Thursday it's highly unlikely his country will allow the U.S. military to use it as a springboard for freedom of navigation patrols in the disputed South China Sea to avoid antagonizing China.

Delfin Lorenzana said U.S. ships and aircraft could use bases in Guam; Okinawa, Japan; or fly from aircraft carriers to patrol the disputed waters.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, some U.S. aircraft and ships stopped in the Philippines on the way to patrolling the disputed waters to challenge China's territorial claims.

Duterte, who took office in June, has taken steps to mend ties with China and became hostile toward the Obama administration, after it raised concerns over Duterte's deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.

Asked if the Philippines will continue to host U.S. ships and aircraft patrolling the disputed waters, Lorenzana said that Duterte will not likely allow that to happen "to avoid any provocative actions that can escalate tensions in the South China Sea. It's unlikely."

Monday, December 5, 2016

Littoral Combat Ship, at a Crossroads - Defense One

Littoral Combat Ship, at a Crossroads - Defense One: The U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ship program is at a crossroads, and it’s not just a new Government Accountability Office review saying so.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Dec. 1, senators, the GAO, and a representative from the Office of the Secretary of Defense slammed the program for cost overruns, engineering failures, and more.

“The miracle of the LCS didn’t happen,” said Paul Francis, GAO’s managing director of acquisition and sourcing management.

Vociferous criticism for the ships is nothing new in committee hearings, But yesterday’s hearing also saw calls for further reducing planned purchases.

The Navy, which has bought or ordered 26 LCSs and just received approval for another two, is working to build a fleet of 52 small surface combatants (either LCSs or a planned modified version dubbed a frigate). But the recently settled National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 provides for only 40.

“Given the cost overruns, mission package testing woes and the rate of engineering failures, reducing the size of this program is a necessary first step,” SASC chair Sen. John McCain said. “I am prepared to go even further by taking a hard look at any further procurement of ships until all of the mission packages reach IOC,” or initial operating capability.

Six key issues facing Trump's Pentagon pick

Six key issues facing Trump's Pentagon pick: How will President-elect Donald Trump's pick for defense secretary, retired Marine general James Mattis, steer America's largest bureaucracy and the world's biggest war machine through what likely will be turbulent years to come?

Here are six of the most pressing issues that will land on Mattis's plate if he is confirmed:

Navy Shipbuilding, Uniforms Under Scrutiny in Defense Budget | DoD Buzz

Navy Shipbuilding, Uniforms Under Scrutiny in Defense Budget | DoD Buzz

The final version of next year’s defense budget bill allocates extra money to the Navy for procurement of a new warship, but it also demands the service produce reports on a controversial ship acquisition program and several much-discussed changes to the female dress uniform.

Overall, the service would get a modest end strength bump from 322,900 to 323,900 under the plan and see a relatively small increase in shipbuilding funds from what was recommended in the president’s fiscal 2017 budget request.

The National Defense Authorization Act increases the number by nearly $526.7 million to roughly $18.88 billion, with most of that increase going to a $440 million down payment on another landing platform dock (LPD 29) amphibious ship, or an L(X)R, the planned amphibious ship replacement.

That money will allow procurement of the LPD 29 or L(X)R to begin in 2017, instead of 2018 as had been planned.

Tucked inside the NDAA, however, are several stern accountability measures. The bill requires the secretary of defense to submit a report on the littoral combat ship‘s mission package for every fiscal year from 2017 to 2022, including plans for development, projected unit costs, and projected development costs, as well as problems encountered during the year and test milestones accomplished.

The embattled LCS was the subject of a fiery Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this week, as lawmakers expressed outrage that the ship, which has more than doubled in unit cost from $220 million to $478 million, is falling short of planned capability goals and may not be survivable in combat.

Despite Reputation, Mattis Tries to Avoid Fights: Neller |

Despite Reputation, Mattis Tries to Avoid Fights: Neller | Despite his brawler reputation, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis actually tried hard on the battlefield to avoid fights, Commandant Gen. Robert Neller said Saturday.

Neller means that as a compliment.

The commandant said he had served under Mattis twice and "I never met anybody who tried harder to win without fighting."

The retired general, selected by President-elect Donald Trump for defense secretary, has a special talent for matching goals with means and "how to engage below the level of conflict," Neller said during a panel discussion at the Reagan National Security Forum in Simi, Calif.

Neller quickly added that he had also "never met anybody -- if you have a fight -- there's no way we're not going to win." Neller called Mattis a rare combination of "accomplished leader, thinker, fighter" whose fitness to lead the Pentagon will soon become evident to Congress.

"He's a very measured guy. He listens and he's decisive. I'm confident that when he makes the calls”to members of Congress and testifies at Senate confirmation hearings, he will be judged to be exceptionally qualified to serve as the next defense secretary, Neller said.

Acquisition Chief: LCS Program 'Broke' the Navy |

Acquisition Chief: LCS Program 'Broke' the Navy | The Navy's littoral combat ship is costing taxpayers billions more than budgeted, failing survivability assessments, and may never live up to the original vision for the program, a panel of Navy and government oversight officials told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

The hearing, which focused on continued testing and acquisition of the small surface vessels, came at the close of a 12-month period in which five of the eight littoral combat ships in service have suffered major mechanical and engineering casualties. Navy officials have ordered dramatic program overhauls and reviews of ship employment and training in response to the breakdowns.

And despite the program's underperformance, costs continue to skyrocket, testified Paul Francis, managing director of acquisition and sourcing management at the Government Accountability Office. The ship's unit cost has more than doubled from $220 million to $478 million apiece, and plans to conduct a "block buy" of 12 redesigned littoral combat ships, to be called frigates, will put taxpayers on the hook for nearly $14 billion, he wrote in a GAO report released Thursday.

"The miracle of LCS didn't happen," Francis told the Senate panel. "... Once the money wheel starts to turn, the business imperatives of budgets and contracts and ship construction take precedence over acquisition and oversight principles."

Friday, December 2, 2016

US Air Force Has Severe Shortage of Pilots

US Air Force Has Severe Shortage of Pilots: The United States Air Force is reporting a shortage of pilots of fighter airplanes. The lack is so severe that some generals say it may affect the service’s ability to carry out operations as soon as next year.

The Air Force is training about 135 more fighter pilots this year than two years ago. But it will be a long time before they are ready for action.

Pilots must train for years -- at a cost of millions of dollars -- before they are qualified to fly fighter jets. The high-tech aircraft could be described as flying supercomputers so lengthy training is required.

The Air Force is permitted to have 3,500 fighter pilots. However, there are now about 725 fewer.

Major General Scott Vander Hamm and Lieutenant General John Cooper supervise Air Force pilots and mechanics who take care of the planes.

They recently spoke with VOA about the pilot shortage.

General: Army struggles to meet goal of 80,000 recruits |

General: Army struggles to meet goal of 80,000 recruits | The U.S. Army is having trouble recruiting the 80,000 new soldiers it needs this fiscal year because most people don't meet the requirements to join or are misinformed about the military, according to its chief recruiter.

"The biggest challenge right now is the fact that only three in 10 can actually meet the requirements to actually join the military," said Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, commanding general of U.S. Army Recruiting Command. "We talk about it in terms of the cognitive, the physical and the moral requirements to join the military, and it's tough. We have a very good Army; there's a desire to recruit quality into the Army."

Snow spoke about the issues Tuesday while in the Phoenix area to meet with recruiters and to address a gathering of local community and business leaders about their roles in helping to develop the nation's soldiers.

Snow's command is charged with signing 62,500 recruits for the Army and 15,400 for the Army Reserve in fiscal 2017, which runs Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017.

Although there are many requirements that must be met in order for an individual to join, Snow said he doesn't believe changing or adjusting them would be beneficial because it would ultimately reduce the quality of the military.

"We don't want to sacrifice quality," Snow said. "If we lower the quality, yes we might be able to make our mission, but that's not good for the organization. The American public has come to expect a qualified Army that can defend the nation. I don't think the American public would like us to lower the quality of those joining the Army if they knew it's going to impact our ability to perform the very functions or nation expects us to do."

It's official: Donald Trump has chosen Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary

It's official: Donald Trump has chosen Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary: Donald Trump on Thursday announced retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as his pick for secretary of defense, tasking the popular military leader with carrying out the president-elect's planned overhaul of Pentagon operations and a shift in national security priorities.

Speaking at a rally Thursday night in Cincinnati, Trump confirmed media reports published earlier in the day indicating the president-elect intended to nominate Mattis for the key Cabinet post.

Neither Mattis nor Trump's transition team responded to Military Times' requests for comment.

The 66-year-old retired general, who left active duty in 2013 after reportedly falling from favor with the Obama administration over disagreements about Iran, last served as the head of U.S. Central Command. The post afforded him oversight of all military activity in the Middle East, to include the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He will require a waiver from Congress to hold the Pentagon's top post because law mandates a seven-year wait between active-duty service and working as defense secretary, a rule designed to reinforce the concept of civilian control of the military.

Advanced tech needed for 'inevitable' high-end conflict

Advanced tech needed for 'inevitable' high-end conflict: However, a fight in a highly contested environment, which differs from the permissive counterinsurgency environments in which U.S. forces have fought for 15 years, is inevitable. “This future fight — and this is where I’ll say this is my opinion — a future fight that is inevitable, non-permissive operations in high-end contested and degraded operational environment — to me this is not a matter of if but when and we’re not as well prepared for it as we would like to be, which is why the [future] budget does put a lot of emphasis on those high-end technologies,” Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director for defense intelligence (warfighter support) at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, said Thursday at a breakfast hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association.

Shanahan provided a short list of priorities being pursued to get after this issue. The first is greater airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability, both manned and unmanned. This unmanned component, he said, is across all the services, “it’s no longer just an Air Force [thing], the Army and the Navy are getting big into the unmanned ISR."

Shanahan also noted unmanned undersea capabilities for the Navy, which he described as a big growth area.

Congress set to elevate CYBERCOM to unified combatant command

Congress set to elevate CYBERCOM to unified combatant command: Congress is set to authorize the elevation of US Cyber Command, taking it from under the purview of US Strategic Command and making it a fully unified combatant command.

In the finalized National Defense Authorization Act that passed House and Senate conference committees, the legislation authorizes the secretary of defense to establish a unified combatant command for cyber operations forces. Currently, CYBERCOM is a sub-unified command beneath STRATCOM, which oversees a bevy of areas from the nation’s nuclear capabilities to space and cyber.

What this designation means in practical terms is greater scope in global campaign planning, funding, authorities, personnel and policy, said Mackenzie Eaglen, resident fellow in the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

This elevation also makes cyber a core and priority mission for the Department of Defense, according to Eaglen.

Trump's new foreign policy: 'We will stop looking to topple regimes' | Washington Examiner

Trump's new foreign policy: 'We will stop looking to topple regimes' | Washington Examiner: President-elect Trump announced a libertarian-like foreign policy at his first "thank you" rally in Cincinnati on Thursday night.

While sharing core components of the tasks he will have his administration focus on, Trump rolled out new directions for the State and Defense Departments.

"We will destroy ISIS. At the same time, we will pursue a new foreign policy that finally learns from the mistakes of the past. We will stop looking to topple regimes and overthrow governments, folks," Trump told attendees at the U.S. Bank Arena. "Our goal is stability, not chaos because we wanna rebuild our country. It's time."

Trump said throughout the campaign season that he opposed the Iraq War and lambasted Hillary Clinton for supporting the decision to send troops to the Middle East.

Army Loses One Infantry Brigade to Create New Armored Brigade |

Army Loses One Infantry Brigade to Create New Armored Brigade | U.S. Army has announced it will convert one of its infantry brigades into an armored brigade combat team amid an increasing demand for heavier formations to counter Russian aggression in Europe.

Beginning this summer, the 4,200 soldiers from the 2nd IBCT of the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, will be converted into an ABCT and equipped with M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

"The conversion of an IBCT to an ABCT better postures the Army to meet the defense strategic guidance by developing force structure capabilities to … retain overmatch in key warfighting functions," said Maj. Gen. Andrew Poppas, Army director of force management, in a recent Army press release.

The announcement comes two months after the service announced that the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Carson in Colorado, will deploy to Europe in January, beginning a continuous rotation of U.S.-based armored brigades to the region as part of the European Reassurance Initiative.

The conversion of the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team -- scheduled to begin next summer -- will add more than 200 armored vehicles as it transitions to the Army's 10th active-duty armored BCT and the 15th in the entire force.

Once the conversion is complete, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, will mirror its sister ABCT at Fort Stewart -- 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division -- which recently returned from deployment to Eastern Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Air Force Get More Airmen, No Extra Planes in Defense Bill |

Air Force Get More Airmen, No Extra Planes in Defense Bill | The U.S. Air Force would add 4,000 more airmen to its ranks next year -- but no extra warplanes to its arsenal -- under a compromise version of the defense authorization bill.

The move would boost the Air Force's authorized end-strength for the active component to 321,000 airmen, according to a summary document released this week on the negotiated fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

The $619 billion bill must pass both chambers of Congress and be signed by President Barack Obama before becoming law. The House may vote on the measure Friday and the Senate may do the same next week.

The Air Force in September had about 311,000 airmen serving on active duty, according to Pentagon personnel statistics. Amid the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the size of the service peaked in 2004 at nearly 377,000 airmen before beginning a steady drawdown. Last year, the service was authorized to add more airmen for the first time in six years.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James in recent months has pushed for 4,000 to 8,000 more airmen, in part to address a shortage of fighter pilots and maintainers in the force.

"I am absolutely certain that we need somewhere on the order of 321,000 to 325,000 active-duty airmen," she said in an interview with Air Force Times in August.

House Pushes Ahead with $611 Billion Defense Policy Bill |

House Pushes Ahead with $611 Billion Defense Policy Bill | The Republican-led House is pushing ahead with a $611 billion defense policy bill that prohibits closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, forbids the Pentagon from trimming the number of military bases and awards U.S. troops their largest pay raise in six years.

Lawmakers are scheduled to vote Friday on the legislation, which authorizes military spending for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1. The defense bill includes an agreement that prevents the Defense Department from forcing thousands of California National Guard troops to repay enlistment bonuses and benefits they received a decade after they signed up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During his 2008 bid for president, Barack Obama pledged to close the detention facility at Guantanamo, which he called a recruiting tool for extremist groups. But Republicans and a number of Democrats repeatedly thwarted his goal over the ensuing years, arguing the prison was badly needed for housing suspected terrorists. The ban on closing the prison also includes a prohibition on moving Guantanamo detainees to secure facilities in the U.S.