Tuesday, January 31, 2017

S. Korea, US defence chiefs back anti-missile system

S. Korea, US defence chiefs back anti-missile system: South Korea's defence chief and his new US counterpart vowed Tuesday to push ahead with a plan to deploy a US anti-missile system this year, Seoul's military said, despite angry protests by China.

The two allies last year announced the plan to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system following a series of atomic and missile tests by nuclear-armed North Korea.

New US Defense Secretary James Mattis and his South Korean counterpart Han Min-Koo reaffirmed the plan in a phone conversation, Seoul's defence ministry said, days before Mattis visits Asia.

How the incoming administration of President Donald Trump will approach the region has raised worries in South Korea and Japan, both of them longstanding US allies.

During his campaign, Trump threatened to withdraw US forces from the two countries if they did not step up their financial support for their defence.

Mattis and Han voiced grave concern over growing threats from North Korea and agreed on "a need...to push ahead with the deployment of the THAAD as planned", the ministry said in a statement.

The two ministers also warned that the North may stage armed provocations at times of power transitions in the South and the US.

US Military Botches Online Fight Against Islamic State, Report Says | Military.com

US Military Botches Online Fight Against Islamic State, Report Says | Military.com: On any given day at MacDill Air Force Base, web crawlers scour social media for potential recruits to the Islamic State group. Then, in a high-stakes operation to counter the extremists' propaganda, language specialists employ fictitious identities and try to sway the targets from joining IS ranks.

At least that's how the multimillion-dollar initiative is being sold to the Defense Department.

A critical national security program known as "WebOps" is part of a vast psychological operation that the Pentagon says is effectively countering an enemy that has used the internet as a devastating tool of propaganda. But an Associated Press investigation found the management behind WebOps is so beset with incompetence, cronyism and flawed data that multiple people with direct knowledge of the program say it's having little impact.

Several current and former WebOps employees cited multiple examples of civilian Arabic specialists who have little experience in counter-propaganda, cannot speak Arabic fluently and have so little understanding of Islam they are no match for the Islamic State online recruiters.

It's hard to establish rapport with a potential terror recruit when — as one former worker told the AP — translators repeatedly mix up the Arabic words for "salad" and "authority." That's led to open ridicule on social media about references to the "Palestinian salad."

Four current or former workers told the AP that they had personally witnessed WebOps data being manipulated to create the appearance of success and that they had discussed the problem with many other employees who had seen the same. Yet the companies carrying out the program for the military's Central Command in Tampa have dodged attempts to implement independent oversight and assessment of the data.

Navy SEAL Team 6 Members Fought Female Fighters in Yemen Raid | Military.com

Navy SEAL Team 6 Members Fought Female Fighters in Yemen Raid | Military.com: Navy SEAL Team 6 fought and killed female fighters of an al-Qaida affiliate in the raid Saturday in Yemen in which a team member was killed, three were wounded and three injured, the Pentagon said Monday.

"There were a lot of female combatants that were a part of this," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said of the firefight in the raid Saturday, which the Defense Department and White House said killed at least 14 enemy fighters. "Some of those enem[ies] killed in action were female."

Davis said the SEALs saw the women running to fighting positions as the team approached an enemy compound in Yemen's interior.

The main al-Qaida group generally limits women to support roles and suicide attacks, but AQAP reportedly has put women through training for combat.

The White House said the raid collected intelligence on AQAP's plans for attacks in Europe and elsewhere. Davis said the materiel gathered would give the DoD "a deeper insight into the group's planning."

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Mattis Orders Separate Reviews of F-35, Air Force One Programs | DoD Buzz

Mattis Orders Separate Reviews of F-35, Air Force One Programs | DoD Buzz: Defense Secretary James Mattis has ordered separate reviews of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Air Force One programs with an eye toward reducing program costs, an official announced Friday.

In two memorandums signed and effective immediately, Mattis said Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work will “oversee a review that compares the F-35C and F/A-18E/F operational capabilities and assess the extent that the F/A-18E/F [Super Hornet] improvements can be made in order to provide a competitive, cost effective fighter aircraft alternative,” according to a statement from Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.

For the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program, known as Air Force One, Mattis said Work’s review should “identify specific areas where costs can be lowered,” such as “autonomous operations, aircraft power generation, environmental conditioning [cooling], survivability, and military [and] civilian communication capabilities,” the memo said.

The memos didn’t specify if the review will reduce the planned number of aircraft.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Trump's call for 'safe zones' in Syria is met with skepticism at the Pentagon

Trump's call for 'safe zones' in Syria is met with skepticism at the Pentagon: The Pentagon has more questions than answers about President Donald Trump's plan to establish "safe zones" inside Syria and surrounding countries for potentially millions of refugees uprooted by the endless bloodshed there, an initiative that could require the deployment of tens of thousands of U.S. military personnel.

The draft executive order, a document published online Wednesday after it was obtained by numerous media outlets, appears to have caught military leaders by surprise. If executed, it would require the Defense Department and State Department to develop a strategy — within 90 days — for establishing and protecting what could amount to several refugee camps.

Financier with Asia expertise to lead Navy, Marine Corps - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Financier with Asia expertise to lead Navy, Marine Corps - The San Diego Union-Tribune: Philip Bilden spent most of his career in Hong Kong finance circles at HarbourVest International Private Equity Partners.

President Donald Trump announced the nomination on Wednesday, saying Bilden will “apply his terrific judgment and top-notch management skills to the task of rebuilding our unparalleled Navy.”

Bilden’s military experience was 10 years in the Army Reserve as a military intelligence officer, between 1986 and 1996. One of his reserve assignments was at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

It appears that Bilden parlayed involvement on Navy charitable boards into friendships with influential people in the Navy establishment.

Trump touted Bilden’s “longstanding trusted relationships with senior military leaders” gained through his volunteerism with the United States Naval Academy and Naval War College foundations.

Reaction on Wednesday was mixed.

Rogue Actors and the Coming Space Law Crisis - The Extremo Files : The Extremo Files

Rogue Actors and the Coming Space Law Crisis - The Extremo Files : The Extremo Files

Launching rockets into space has traditionally been the domain of nation states: only a handful of countries over the last several decades have mounted the technical expertise and financial resources to put payloads in orbit. With so few players, outer space was governed by the “Cold War principles” outlined in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which holds nation states accountable and reserves the use of space for scientific study and other peaceful purposes.

Today, space law needs an overhaul, according to James Gilley, an Instructor of International Studies at Louisiana State University. After all, some of the key assumptions that underlie the Outer Space Treaty no longer apply. A wide range of entities, from treaty non-signatories to private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin, are charging into low Earth orbit and beyond, and their intentions are unlikely to be restricted to scientific research.

“We’ve kind of forgotten as an international community that we’ve written laws about this stuff,” says Gilley, “because nothing has truly upset the apple cart.” But that could change soon, and Gilley points to a few plausible cases where rogue actors could set off an international legal crisis.

The first possibility involves non-signatory state actors – there are roughly 70 – establishing a presence in space and pursuing illicit activities. Chances of this scenario playing out are relatively low, since most of the potential nations lack launch capabilities and even traditional rabble rousers like North Korea have actually signed the treaty. Another option is the “flag of convenience” scenario, under which private corporations base their operations in non-signatory countries – likely small developed nations – to avoid the constrictions of the treaty.

But the most likely rogue actors, according to Gilley, are private companies operating within countires – like the United States – that have signed the treaty. To date, private launches have been assumed to operate under the legal auspices of the launch site country. If a SpaceX rocket launched from Florida were to disintigrate and cause damage in Europe, for example, the U.S. would be held responsible.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Lawmakers Call For Halt To DARPA Program: Robots Repairing Satellites « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Lawmakers Call For Halt To DARPA Program: Robots Repairing Satellites « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: Three influential House lawmakers have asked DARPA in a Jan. 25 letter to review a robotic space repair program to see if it violates the National Space Policy by competing with private-sector efforts and to put the program on hold until the review is complete. The National Space Policy requires “that the government not build or buy systems that “preclude, discourage or compete” with commercial systems. Orbital ATK is building a system it believes competes directly with the DARPA initiative, known as Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites.

It’s an intriguing program. DARPA’s goal is to develop robotic systems that can fix damaged satellites 22,000 miles up. In the words of the program web page, it would be designed to “make house calls in space.”

But Rep. Jim Bridenstine, one of the most active lawmakers on space issues today (and possibly the next head of NASA); Rep. Barbara Comstock, chair of the House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee on research and technology; and Rep. Rob Bishop, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, signed a letter today asking Acting DARPA Director Steven Walker to review RSGS to ensure it complies with the National Space Policy’s requirement that the government not build or buy systems that “preclude, discourage or compete” with commercial systems.

The rub may be that Orbital-ATK has invested $100 million in such a system, the Orbital Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV). In April last year, Orbital announced that the commercial satellite giant Intelsat would buy the first of the system.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Navy's Drone Boat May Take On Missions Beyond Minesweeping - Defensetech

Navy's Drone Boat May Take On Missions Beyond Minesweeping - Defensetech: Now in water testing: an unmanned surface boat designed to launch from the littoral combat ship to assist with the location and destruction of undersea mines.

But according to the boat’s creators at Textron Systems, the technology may have a much broader range of uses in the future. The system in question is the common unmanned surface vehicle [CUSV], a 39-foot vessel that looks much like a driverless motorboat and will be equipped to help conduct mine counter-measure warfare missions from Freedom- and Independence-variant LCS. Currently the vehicle is in testing with a minesweeping package, but Wayne Prender, vice president of control and surface systems for Textron Unmanned Systems, said the company is working with the Navy to move into mine-hunting with the system as well.

The full LCS mine-hunting package is set to be completed by the close of 2019, program officials said this month. But beyond that, Textron hopes other uses for the drone boat will present themselves.

“In addition to mine countermeasures, we continue to work and explore other mission sets and scenarios for the CUSV. So we have the mine countermeasure suite, and then continue to expand it along what we envision is a true multi-platform flexible ship,” Prender said.

The CUSV, he said, could be configured to conduct anti-submarine warfare as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

“We want to be able to perform missions in the maritime domain awareness field, to be able to do port security,” he said.

A-10 vs. F-35 Flyoff May Begin Next Year: General | DoD Buzz

A-10 vs. F-35 Flyoff May Begin Next Year: General | DoD Buzz: The future flyoff between the Cold War-era A-10 ground attack aircraft and the F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter will be “very interesting,” a general said.

The A-10 Thunderbolt II is set to go up against the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in a series of weapons tests as early as next year under a stipulation in the latest National Defense Authorization Act, the annual defense policy and spending bill.

The legislation also prohibits retirement of the lumbering, low-flying, snub-nosed aircraft popularly known as the Warthog until the Air Force can prove the F-35’s ability to conduct close air support missions on the battlefield.

“It’ll be a very interesting test,” said Pleus, a former F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot who directs the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program’s integration office for the service.

“The A-10 was built to deal with tanks in Europe,” he said. “A low, slow, big cannon on the front of it meant to destroy tanks and assist troops in contacts and do [close-air support]” a mission the aircraft has flown more recently in the Middle East against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

Pleus added, “CAS is a mission, not an airplane.”

U.S. adds extra aircraft to Marine force in Australia | Reuters

U.S. adds extra aircraft to Marine force in Australia | Reuters: The United States will send extra military aircraft to Australia's tropical north this year, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman said on Wednesday, bolstering its military presence close to the disputed South China Sea.

The Marines' deployment in the strategic city of Darwin, agreed in 2011, was a critical part of former U.S. President Barack Obama's "pivot" to Asia amid China's increased assertiveness in the region.

The move also cemented close ties with staunch ally Australia and gave the U.S. a foothold in the area.

President Donald Trump's new administration has struck a hawkish tone over Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea Asia, but it has abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact negotiated by Obama.

Marine Corps spokesman Major Chris Logan said there would be an increase in aircraft this year, including sending four MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor planes, which boost the range of the marine force and five AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters.

Logan added that Marine numbers would remain at 1,250.

Fix the Fleet! US Navy Makes Maintenance Top Priority

Fix the Fleet! US Navy Makes Maintenance Top Priority: With no fiscal 2017 defense budget in sight and little chance of an agreement before April – if then – the military services are submitting second and possibly third rounds of unfunded requirements lists to Congress. The lists include items left out of the original budget requests, ranked in order of priority should Congress find a way to fund them.

The latest list from the US Navy was sent to Congress Jan. 5, updating a similar list sent over at the end of February but rejiggered in light of the new 355-ship Force Structure Assessment, changes in requirements and the lateness of the fiscal year, which limit what can be done in the current budget. The new list also reflects what Navy leaders have been saying in recent weeks they need most – maintenance funding. While the late February list lead off with acquisition needs, the new top priorities include $2 billion in afloat readiness funding.

But the list remains a work in progress, a Navy official said, and includes input from the new Trump administration. An updated list is being prepared in advance of readiness hearings scheduled next month at which the service vice chiefs will testify – a Feb. 7 hearing before the full House Armed Services Committee, and a hearing the following day before the Senate Armed Services readiness subcommittee.

Nikki Haley confirmed as ambassador to United Nations - POLITICO

Nikki Haley confirmed as ambassador to United Nations - POLITICO: Nikki Haley is headed from the South Carolina statehouse to the world stage.

The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the Republican governor's nomination as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as Democrats put up little of the resistance they have to some of President Donald Trump’s other Cabinet picks.

Haley was approved on a 96-4 vote. The daughter of Indian immigrants will be one of the few women and minorities in Trump’s Cabinet, and some on the left hope she will be a moderating force in the new administration.

Haley impressed lawmakers from both parties by taking a tough stance toward Russia, praising international alliances such as NATO, and calling out human rights violations in countries such as the Philippines. Some of these stances, however, put her at odds with the new Republican president, and it remains unclear how she will square her positions with what Trump will demand she do while at the United Nations.

Budget Nominee Mulvaney Will Recommend Trump End War-Account Abuse

Budget Nominee Mulvaney Will Recommend Trump End War-Account Abuse: President Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s budget director, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said he will press the president to stop skirting budget caps by using the war budget.

Appearing before the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday, Mulvaney signaled he would continue to fight abuses of the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account.

Over the last two years, Mulvaney and lawmakers of both parties have partnered on bills to stop using OCO money for base-budget activities. He has also opposed increases in defense spending that are not accompanied by cuts to non-defense spending,

“I will look forward to explaining to the president why I think it’s not a good way to spend taxpayer dollars,” Mulvaney said in an exchange with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., an ally on the issue.

In an exchange with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Mulvaney agreed the use of OCO to solve budget problems has been “dishonest.” “That’s just the word I was going to use,” Mulvaney said.

McCain questions Trump budget pick's support for military | TheHill

McCain questions Trump budget pick's support for military | TheHill: Sen. John McCain

(R-Ariz.) said Tuesday that President Trump’s pick to lead the White House budget office was an “impediment” to supporting the U.S. military, questioning whether he took the issue seriously.

McCain called out Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Trump’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, for a series of votes he made against increasing military funding and in favor of pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Europe.

“Maybe you don’t take it with the seriousness that it deserves,” McCain said of supporting the military during Mulvaney’s hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“It’s clear from your record that you’ve been an impediment to that,” said McCain.

Mulvaney has opposed major defense spending boosts before, while McCain and other defense hawks have supported them.

Mulvaney on Tuesday promised to support Trump’s pledge to expand the military and defended his previous votes against funding as efforts to increase government transparency.

Trump's SecAF Pick May Signal Openness to Women in Combat | Military.com

Trump's SecAF Pick May Signal Openness to Women in Combat | Military.com: President Donald Trump's choice for the next Air Force secretary could be a signal to troops that neither he nor Defense Secretary James Mattis intend to impose a ban on women in combat.

Heather Wilson, a former congresswoman and Air Force Academy graduate, hasn't directly advocated for women on the front lines -- indeed, she once raised doubts about lifting the ban on female troops serving in direct combat arms positions. But she has aggressively backed the need for women in combat support roles, according to congressional testimony from 2005.

Wilson was elected in 1998 to represent New Mexico's 1st Congressional District and at the time was the first and only female veteran serving in Congress.

During a spirited debate more than a decade ago over whether the U.S. should move to ban military women from serving and supporting their male counterparts on the front lines, Wilson had no intention of letting the subject whittle away just because male members in Congress believed "good men protect women" -- and not the other way around.

"Good women want freedom, too, and will fight for it," the retired Air Force captain said, according to a New York Daily News story from May 19, 2005.

Navy BLAST Sensor Development Looking to Improve Data on TBIs | Military.com

Navy BLAST Sensor Development Looking to Improve Data on TBIs | Military.com: Navy researchers are developing a system that could help determine the severity of a brain injury suffered by a warfighter following an explosion.

The wearable, sensor-based, three-part Blast Load Assessment Sense and Test -- or BLAST -- is sponsored by the Washington-based Office of Naval Research and involves its Naval Research Laboratory, the University of North Carolina, NASA and New Mexico-based research firm Applied Research Associates Inc.

Though invisible, traumatic brain injury or TBI has been called the signature wound to emerge from the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Pentagon and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have spent millions researching and developing tools to detect TBI and treat service members.

More than 357,000 have been diagnosed since 2000, according to the Defense Department's Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center. Of that total, 294,000 cases have been of the mild variety, better known as a concussion.

NATO, Pentagon Chiefs Discuss Military Budgets, Terrorism | Military.com

NATO, Pentagon Chiefs Discuss Military Budgets, Terrorism | Military.com: NATO's chief and new U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis have discussed military spending and combating terrorism, the source of criticism of the alliance by President Donald Trump.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg's office said Tuesday that the two men "agreed on the fundamental and enduring value of NATO for the security of both Europe and North America."

In a phone call, they looked forward "to working together to strengthen the alliance, including by increasing defense spending and doing even more to fight terrorism."

Trump has said that NATO is "obsolete." He has upset allies by suggesting he might refuse to defend those not spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on military budgets.

The U.S. spends more on its armed forces than the other 27 NATO member states combined. It also pays a significant portion — just over 22 percent — of NATO's commonly funded budget.

Stoltenberg and previous secretaries general have been urging allies to step up spending for years.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

China To Protect South China Sea Sovereignty

China To Protect South China Sea Sovereignty: China said on Tuesday it had "irrefutable" sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea after the White House vowed to defend "international territories" in the strategic waterway.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer in his comments on Monday signaled a sharp departure from years of cautious U.S. handling of China's assertive pursuit of territorial claims in Asia.

"The U.S. is going to make sure that we protect our interests there," Spicer said when asked if Trump agreed with comments by his secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson. On Jan. 11, Tillerson said China should not be allowed access to islands it has built in the contested South China Sea.

"It's a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters and not part of China proper, then yeah, we're going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country," Spicer said.

Shortage of Air Force fighter pilots grows

Shortage of Air Force fighter pilots grows: The U.S. Air Force says it is short on fighter pilots and the deficit is growing.

At the end of fiscal year 2016, the Air Force was short 750 fighter pilots, up from 511 at the end of the previous year.

The Air Force's Air Combat Command said while there is a pilot shortage for all its platforms, fighter aircraft have been hit the hardest by the shortage.

"The health of the fighter pilot community is bad," said Lt. Gen. Chris Nowland, Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements (AF/A3). "We focus on fighter pilots, but it's not just (them). We have a national pilot crisis. Essentially the Air Force, when it comes to pilot production, is going to have to change."

U.S. AETC fires first live bombs from an F-35A

U.S. AETC fires first live bombs from an F-35A: The U.S. Air Force's Air Education and Training Command fired their first live bombs from a Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II.

The bombs, armed GBU-12s, were fired from six aircraft during a recent exercise conducted by pilots with the 33rd Fighter Wing. Officials say the event affirmed the weapon's capabilities onboard the aircraft.

Pentagon chief vows 'unshakeable commitment' to NATO

Pentagon chief vows 'unshakeable commitment' to NATO:

New US Secretary of Defense James Mattis reassured his British counterpart on Monday that Washington has an "unshakeable commitment" to NATO, despite President Donald Trump previously casting the military alliance as obsolete.

During a phone call with Michael Fallon on his first full day in office, Mattis "emphasized the United States' unshakeable commitment to NATO," Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in a statement.

During his phone call with Fallon, Mattis also "emphasized the United States and the United Kingdom will always enjoy a uniquely close relationship, reflected in our defense ties which are a bedrock of US security," according to his spokesman.

Trump’s ‘Debt Bomb’: Deficit May Grow, Defense Budget May Not « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Trump’s ‘Debt Bomb’: Deficit May Grow, Defense Budget May Not « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: While the new president wants to grow the military, rebuild infrastructure, and cut taxes, Eaglen said, his plan to fund all that that through steep domestic spending cuts “is complete fantasy” that will never pass the Senate. (Any legislative path, even reconciliation, would require 60 votes). The only other way to pay is borrowing money — and “he’s mentioned many times on the campaign trail that’s he’s very comfortable leveraging debt.”

The result, said Eaglen, who’s close to most Republicans and defense hawks on the Hill, “will be a total bulldozing over the Tea Party,” which has seen the much-derided Budget Control Act (aka sequester) as a necessary limit on federal spending. The bulldozees-to-be in this scenario include Trump’s own pick for budget director, Rep. Rick Mulvaney, whose confirmation hearing before the Senate is tomorrow.

“I would not be surprised if they took the same approach that Reagan did,” said Mark Cancian of the Center for Strategic & International studies, speaking to me after the CSIS-hosted panel on which he and Eaglen both appeared. Ronald Reagan took office proposing defense increases and tax cuts, to be offset by economic growth and cuts to domestic spending, all very much like Trump. When Democrats blocked the domestic cuts, and the economic projections proved too optimistic — the so-called “Rosy Scenario” — the difference was made up by borrowing money, also known as creating big deficits.

U.S. Army ground combat systems are becoming cold war relics

U.S. Army ground combat systems are becoming cold war relics: The core of the Army’s ground combat systems is under threat of being seriously outmoded by foreign adversaries like Russia, China, and North Korea, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Developed primarily in the 1970s, the Army’s fleet of main battle tanks, tracked infantry fighting vehicles, tracked self-propelled artillery and multiple launch rocket systems were designed to battle a larger Cold War adversary, a report produced by CRS explains.

“U.S. Army leadership notes for the first time since World War I that the Army does not have a new ground combat vehicle under development and, at current funding levels, the Bradley [Fighting Vehicle] and Abrams [tank] will remain in the inventory for 50 to 70 more years,” the report reads.

Efforts to modernize the Army’s artillery and armor systems have been a Sisyphean task, costing roughly $1 billion dollars a year since 1996 — representing nearly 42 percent of the Army’s research, development, testing and evaluation budget in failed and cancelled projects, according to the CRS.

Diverting From Norm, Army Sends Hill 2017-2018 Wish Lists

Diverting From Norm, Army Sends Hill 2017-2018 Wish Lists: Diverting from normal practice, the US Army has outlined in wish lists sent to Congress what it would need in the next two years in order to catch up on lagging modernization efforts and accommodate troop increases mandated in the recently passed defense policy bill.

Congress passed its National Defense Authorization Act in December that requires the Army to increase its end-strength by 16,000 more soldiers than originally planned. And President Donald Trump has pledged a troop plus-up to 540,000.

What hasn’t been determined is how much funding the Army will get in the fiscal year 2017 budget and beyond to cope with a large troop increase at a time it was drastically shrinking the force under the previous administration.

The first wish list is designed to meet the needs of a 476,000-strong active force in 2017 and the second list addresses 2018 plans for an active Army of 490,000. If Congress included all of the Army's "unfunded requirements" in its budget, the service has calculated it would need an additional $8.2 billion not included in 2017 and an additional $18.3 billion on top of its yet-to-be-released 2018 budget request.

Army quietly deactivates its small-team reconnaissance units - News - Stripes

Army quietly deactivates its small-team reconnaissance units - News - Stripes: The Army will quietly deactivate its three long-range surveillance companies in the active-duty force in the remaining days of January, along with four National Guard companies in 2018, the Army said.

The nearly 100 soldiers in each of three active-duty companies attached to three Corps commands at Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington will be reassigned to other units at those posts, said Lt. Col. Christina Kretchman, an Army spokeswoman.

Army National Guard units in Nebraska, Georgia, Indiana and Alabama will fold up their long-range surveillance companies and reassign those soldiers in August 2018, Kretchman said.

Stars and Stripes first reported in July that senior leaders decided to deactivate the companies through an evaluation in the Total Army Analysis, a force structure program used to balance the composition of the force with strategy and resources.

Computer models were used to conclude long-range surveillance companies were not in demand by ground commanders.

Defense analysts have said Army commanders have an aversion to risk and a growing preference to use technology such as satellites and drones for reconnaissance rather than insert small teams of soldiers.

Long-range surveillance companies in the Army are comprised of 15 six-man teams led by a staff sergeant. The teams specialize in navigating forward positions to monitor enemy movement and gather intelligence for commanders.

A Key NATO Ally Looks Nervously at Putin—and Trump - Defense One

A Key NATO Ally Looks Nervously at Putin—and Trump - Defense One: When the ready-room alarm went off—high-low, high-low—two Norwegian Air Force pilots pulled on cold-water survival gear, grabbed their flight bags, and sprinted through swirling snow to their hangars. Their decades-old F-16 fighter jets roared to life, and as the airport snowplow halted to let them pass, the jets taxied to the runway and lit the afterburners. The training run took less than ten minutes.

Norway has long kept two jets on round-the-clock alert at this Arctic base, allowing NATO to put eyes on the Russian warplanes that round the North Cape and head southwest. And while Moscow’s new assertiveness has Oslo preparing additional military units to react more quickly, defense officials here are also looking with concern toward Washington, where the incoming Trump administration has yet to articulate an unambiguous transatlantic security policy.

“Concerned” is a word we heard a lot last week, traveling with defense officials from Norway’s Ministry of Defense in Oslo to this coastal base 50 miles above the Arctic Circle, and beyond. Defense One was part of a group of Americans—analysts, former diplomats and national-security officials—brought here on a trip organized by the Atlantic Council, a NATO-oriented think tank in Washington, and sponsored by the Norwegian government.

Trump’s Air Force Nominee Could Bring Strong Voice to Capitol Hill - Defense One

Trump’s Air Force Nominee Could Bring Strong Voice to Capitol Hill - Defense One: President Donald Trump’s pick of a former congresswoman to run the Air Force could give the service a larger voice in the behind the scenes budget battles on Capitol Hill, service advocates say.

If confirmed by the Senate, former Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., would be the first Air Force secretary to have previously been elected to Congress. Stuart Symington, the first Air Force secretary in 1947, was elected in 1952 to the Senate in Missouri.

Wilson, a former Air Force officer, is president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, a position she has held since 2013. But her background includes assignments in Europe and arms control, two issues facing the Air Force today. The service has stepped up deployments to Europe in recent years in response to Russian aggression and are starting the process of buying new nuclear weapons.

“As a veteran, a committed public servant in Congress and a military spouse, she understands the needs of the Air Force and how to advocate policy that meets those needs,” said Thomas Spoehr, a retired Army lieutenant general who runs the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense.

Wilson would become secretary of a service that has been taxed in terms of it size and age of its equipment.

A Key NATO Ally Looks Nervously at Putin—and Trump - Defense One

A Key NATO Ally Looks Nervously at Putin—and Trump - Defense One: When the ready-room alarm went off—high-low, high-low—two Norwegian Air Force pilots pulled on cold-water survival gear, grabbed their flight bags, and sprinted through swirling snow to their hangars. Their decades-old F-16 fighter jets roared to life, and as the airport snowplow halted to let them pass, the jets taxied to the runway and lit the afterburners. The training run took less than ten minutes.

Norway has long kept two jets on round-the-clock alert at this Arctic base, allowing NATO to put eyes on the Russian warplanes that round the North Cape and head southwest. And while Moscow’s new assertiveness has Oslo preparing additional military units to react more quickly, defense officials here are also looking with concern toward Washington, where the incoming Trump administration has yet to articulate an unambiguous transatlantic security policy.

“Concerned” is a word we heard a lot last week, traveling with defense officials from Norway’s Ministry of Defense in Oslo to this coastal base 50 miles above the Arctic Circle, and beyond. Defense One was part of a group of Americans—analysts, former diplomats and national-security officials—brought here on a trip organized by the Atlantic Council, a NATO-oriented think tank in Washington, and sponsored by the Norwegian government.

Trump’s First Budget Could Be A Unique Mix of Severe Cuts and Increased Spending - Defense One

Trump’s First Budget Could Be A Unique Mix of Severe Cuts and Increased Spending - Defense One

Now that President Donald J. Trump has been sworn in as the 45th commander-in-chief, his next major task is unveiling a fiscal 2018 budget proposal for federal agencies that reflects his America First vision for the government.

Crafting a budget proposal for Congress to review and debate is always a top priority for the president, especially a new one. Trump’s inaugural budget will be the first look federal employees, lawmakers, and the rest of us get at the president’s detailed agenda and how he plans to pay for it.

“There is no 2018 template sitting there for the new administration,” said Ed DeSeve, co-chair of the National Academy of Public Administration’s Transition 2016 Program. DeSeve is a veteran of presidential transitions and has served at the Housing and Urban Development Department as well as the Office of Management and Budget. Trump, DeSeve said, has a challenge ahead of him, “especially given the fact that he doesn’t have experienced hands.”

Trump’s nominee for Office of Management and Budget Director is Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. As a lawmaker, he has been vocal about budget issues, especially cutting spending and balancing the budget.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Amid Amphib Shortfall, Marines to Board NATO Ships for Africa Missions | Military.com

Amid Amphib Shortfall, Marines to Board NATO Ships for Africa Missions | Military.com: Marine Corps leaders badly want their troops aboard an amphibious ship patrolling the African coast -- even if that ship isn't American.

Senior officials are in talks with multiple NATO nations about the logistics of putting a company-sized element of Marines aboard an allied ship to provide presence, patrol hot spots and conduct theater security cooperation missions with African militaries, Military.com has learned.

It's part of the Allied Maritime Basing Initiative, launched in 2015 as a stopgap measure to maintain presence in the European theater amid a shortage of U.S. amphibious ships. In tests, Marines spent time aboard Dutch, Spanish and French ships, and an MV-22 Osprey crew embarked aboard a Spanish amphib.

In an interview, the commander of Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, Maj. Gen. Niel Nelson, said the command is working through a cost analysis for putting Marines aboard an allied ship for a lengthy mission -- 30 to 60 days -- for bilateral and theater security cooperation exercises.

Another senior official, Col. Martin Wetterauer, commander of the 8th Marine Regiment, said the likely destination of the deployment would be the Gulf of Guinea, a region off the coast of West Africa known as a hotbed for piracy.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pair of Air Force Cyber Weapons Systems Ready for War – Fifth Domain | Cyber

Pair of Air Force Cyber Weapons Systems Ready for War – Fifth Domain | Cyber: Late last year, the Air Force declared one of its newest cyber weapons tools initially operationally capable. The tool, the Automated Remediation Asset Discovery (ARAD), is a modification to the Air Force Cyber Security and Control System (CSCS), which was itself declared IOC by Air Force Space Command in 2014.

CSCS, according to an Air Force fact sheet, is a weapons system that is designed to provide 24/7 network operations and management functions enabling key enterprise services within both classified and unclassified Air Force networks as well as supporting defensive cyber operations on those networks.

As outlined in a recent release from 24th Air Force – home to Air Force’s Cyber – ARAD leverages leading-edge technology to comprehensively modernize and efficiently improve vulnerability management execution, defensive cyber operations, system health, asset management and situational awareness capabilities.

US Air Force Chief Lends Support to Light Attack Aircraft Buy

US Air Force Chief Lends Support to Light Attack Aircraft Buy: The US Air Force’s top general on Wednesday indicated he would be supportive of purchasing low-end attack aircraft to ease the pressure on state-of-the-art fighters deployed to the Middle East.

Asked about Arizona Sen. John McCain’s recent suggestion to buy 300 low-cost, light-attack fighters, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein said it was a “great idea” that would help ameliorate growing readiness issues.

“I think we’re 15 years into a long campaign in the Middle East. This will continue to be a coalition fight. So we’ve got to continue to evolve and look at the way we prosecute and sustain this campaign,” he said during an event at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

In a white paper published Monday, McCain, the Republican leader of the Senate Armed Services Committee, proposed procuring 300 inexpensive, off-the-shelf fighter aircraft, 200 of which could be acquired by fiscal 2022.

“The Air Force should embrace a 'high/low mix' of fighter aircraft. Very expensive fifth-generation technology is not needed in every scenario,” McCain wrote in the paper.

First F-35B Fighter Jets Arrive in Japan

First F-35B Fighter Jets Arrive in Japan: The first Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters have arrived in Japan, beginning the type’s first permanent overseas basing assignment with the US Marine Corps.

According to the III Marine Expeditionary Force, F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 “Green Knights” arrived at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan, at approximately 5:30 p.m. local time on Wednesday.

These are the first of what will eventually be 16 VMFA-121 F-35Bs to be based at Iwakuni, with 10 aircraft scheduled to arrive this month and another six to arrive over the summer. Defense News reported earlier that the F-35Bs had left MCAS Yuma, Arizona, to cross the Pacific on Jan. 9.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What the World Might Look Like in 5 Years, According to US Intelligence - Defense One

What the World Might Look Like in 5 Years, According to US Intelligence - Defense One: Every four years, a group of U.S. intelligence analysts tries to predict the future. And this year, in a report released just weeks before Donald Trump assumes the presidency, those analysts forecast a massive shift in international affairs over the next five years or so: “For better and worse, the emerging global landscape is drawing to a close an era of American dominance following the Cold War,” the study argues. “So, too, perhaps is the rules-based international order that emerged after World War II.”

The National Intelligence Council (NIC), a unit within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is essentially marking the potential end not just of America’s status as the world’s sole superpower, but also of the current foundation for much of that power: an open international economy, U.S. military alliances in Asia and Europe, and liberal rules and institutions—rules like human-rights protections and institutions like the World Trade Organization—that shape how countries behave and resolve their conflicts.

Trump has repeatedly expressed opposition to key elements of this international order—specifically free-trade deals, U.S. alliance arrangements, and America’s promotion of democracy abroad. But he wants to preserve U.S. dominance in the world; he wants, after all, to once more make America great. And on Tuesday, Michael Flynn, Trump’s incoming national security adviser, suggested that his boss might be more committed to the international system than assumed.

A Pledge for More of the Same at the Pentagon - Defense One

A Pledge for More of the Same at the Pentagon - Defense One: That retired General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, Donald Trump’s nominee to become defense secretary, is a Marine’s Marine and a genuine warrior is undoubtedly the case. If less well-known than David Petraeus, he is easily the better field commander, something Mattis demonstrated in Afghanistan and Iraq. The question is whether he possesses the qualities suited to lead the Pentagon at this particular juncture.

Mattis’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, which convened today to consider his confirmation, raises doubts on that score. Or more precisely, it should raise doubts on the part of anyone viewing U.S. national security policy since 9/11 as less than satisfactory.

The most intriguing aspect of the exchange between Mattis and members of the committee was the absolute absence of interest, from either side, in how the armed forces of the United States have performed in recent years. In Afghanistan, in the now-resumed war in Iraq, in U.S. combat operations, large and small, in Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria—none has yielded anything approximating conclusive victory. However you define U.S. aims and objectives—promoting stability? Spreading democracy? Reducing the incidence of Islamist terrorism?—they remain unfulfilled. Yet no senator thought to ask Mattis for his views on why that has been the case, what conclusions he draws from that absence of success, and how he might apply those conclusions as defense secretary.

McCain proposes $640B defense budget for 2018 | TheHill

McCain proposes $640B defense budget for 2018 | TheHill: Sen. John McCain

(R-Ariz.) is proposing a $640 billion base defense budget for the next fiscal year, $54 billion above what had been projected by the Obama administration.

“President-elect Donald Trump

has pledged to ‘fully eliminate the defense sequester’ and ‘submit a new budget to rebuild our military.’ This cannot happen soon enough,” McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, wrote in a 33-page white paper released over the holiday weekend.

“The damage that has been done to our military over the past eight years will not be reversed in one year. Just stemming the bleeding caused by recent budget cuts will take most of the next five years, to say nothing of the sustained increases in funding required thereafter.”

McCain’s plan would pay for more troops for the Army and Marine Corps, more ships for the Navy and more planes for the Air Force. But it would require caps on defense spending to be overturned, an action that has eluded Congress since such caps were enacted in 2011 and that fiscal conservatives are expected to continue pushing against.

Combined with a projected $60 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, McCain’s plan would bring next year’s defense budget to a total of $700 billion.

US, Baltic states sign military pacts as Trump uncertainty grows

US, Baltic states sign military pacts as Trump uncertainty grows: The United States and Baltic NATO allies Estonia and Lithuania signed military deals on Tuesday as President-elect Donald Trump's pro-Moscow stance stokes uncertainty about future commitments.

Fellow Baltic state Latvia has also inked a similar agreement defining the status of hundreds of US troops that are to be deployed this year to deter a more militarily aggressive Russia on NATO's vulnerable eastern flank.

These pacts also come after Washington launched a separate mission last week that will see an armoured brigade of some 3,500 soldiers and heavy equipment sent to Poland, the Baltic states and nearby NATO allies Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

The US-lead NATO has been increasing its military presence along Europe's borders with Russia ever since Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

U.S. Marine Corps Retools Strategy As Tech Threats Mushroom

U.S. Marine Corps Retools Strategy As Tech Threats Mushroom: The U.S. Marine Corps is postured for the past rather than the future. That's the conclusion its top leaders came to after a year-long review of how the threats Marines face are changing and what the Corps must do to adapt.

It's not that the Marines are likely to suffer defeat at the hands of some foreign adversary anytime soon. But after 16 years of continuously fighting terrorists and insurgents while deferring modernization and experimentation with new warfighting concepts, they sense that their edge is slipping away.

The challenges seem to arise mainly from new technology. On the one hand, enemies are acquiring drones, jamming devices and antiship missiles that complicate the fight for U.S. forces. On the other hand, the Marines have had to slow their own assimilation of new warfighting tools in order to sustain a high state of readiness

McCain fires opening shot in Pentagon budget wars with buildup plan - POLITICO

McCain fires opening shot in Pentagon budget wars with buildup plan - POLITICO:

Sen. John McCain is set to propose a military buildup that would add nearly half a trillion dollars to the defense budget over the next five years and blow past current limits on Pentagon spending, according to a copy of the blueprint drafted by the chairman of the Armed Services and obtained by POLITICO.

The proposal, which is set to be unveiled early this week, is the opening salvo of Republican hawks as they seek to leverage GOP majorities in the House and Senate and seize upon the surprise victory of President-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to rebuild the armed forces.

The 21-page plan advocates boosting the Pentagon budget as well as nuclear weapons spending in the Department of Energy by approximately $430 billion over budget projections between fiscal 2018 and 2022 — including to finance a bigger Army and significantly more new warships and fighter jets.

It would also bust through the spending caps now mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act, which are not set to expire until after 2021 and would have to be overturned.

U.S. Navy helos getting Lockheed Martin counter-missile capability

U.S. Navy helos getting Lockheed Martin counter-missile capability

Lockheed Martin is to provide enhanced electronic warfare surveillance and countermeasure capabilities against anti-ship missiles to U.S. Navy helicopters.

The system to be hosted by MH-60R or MH-60S Seahawk aircraft is the Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare (AOEW) Active Mission Payload AN/ALQ-248, is a self-contained electronic warfare pod, Lockheed Martin said."Every day ships across the world are facing a variety of evolving threats," said Joe Ottaviano, Lockheed Martin's electronic warfare program director. "Our Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare AMP AN/ALQ-248 system will help create a coordinated attack against these threats, to keep our warfighters safe by controlling the electromagnetic spectrum and disrupting adversaries."

Monday, January 16, 2017

F-35 Could Carry B61 Nuclear Warhead Sooner Than Planned

F-35 Could Carry B61 Nuclear Warhead Sooner Than Planned: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is slated to be armed with the B61 nuclear bomb as early as 2020, but could carry the weapon sooner, a general said.

The stealthy fifth-generation fighter made by Lockheed Martin Corp. is set to be fitted with the B61-12 Mod gravity bomb — the latest variant — sometime between 2020 and 2022, Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus told Military.com during a recent interview at the Pentagon.

If the weapon is needed sooner, the schedule could be quickened, according to Pleus, a former F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot who directs the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program’s integration office for the service.

“It would definitely be possible,” he said.

Navy May Create Experimental Squadron - Defensetech

Navy May Create Experimental Squadron - Defensetech: As the Navy aims to make its ships more deadly and experiments with a host of new technologies, ranging from railguns to laser weapons, the service’s top surface warfare officer said he wants to create an experimental squadron devoted to exploring the art of the possible.

Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander of Naval Surface Forces, said he is eyeing the prospect of launching an experimental squadron as a platform for increased technology testing and demonstrations.

Speaking to reporters at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium Thursday, Rowden said he wants to base the prospective squadron at the Naval Surface and Mine Warfare Development Center in San Diego, potentially placing it under the center’s command structure.

“We’ve got a tremendous number of fabulous young men and women that are being trained as warfare tactics instructors in that organization, and I think [we can leverage] their talents, their ideas as we look for opportunities to bring not only different platforms into the Navy, but leveraging in different ways the ships that we have right now,” Rowden said.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

NATO obsolete says Trump as he suggests Russia nuclear deal

NATO obsolete says Trump as he suggests Russia nuclear deal: President-elect Donald Trump, in remarks published on Sunday, described NATO as "obsolete" and suggested a deal with Russia that would reduce nuclear arsenals and ease sanctions on Moscow.

He also hailed Britain's exit from the EU and backed a speedy trade deal with the UK, but condemned as "catastrophic" Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open Germany's doors to a flood of refugees.

"I said a long time ago that NATO had problems," Trump told The Times of London and Bild, Germany's biggest-selling daily.

"Number one, it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago," he said.

"Number two, the countries aren't paying what they're supposed to pay."

"I took such heat, when I said NATO was obsolete. It's obsolete because it wasn't taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying Trump is right."

He added, though, "NATO is very important to me."

Friday, January 13, 2017

Navy Acquisition Chief: Surge to 355 Ships 'Easily Done' | DoD Buzz

Navy Acquisition Chief: Surge to 355 Ships 'Easily Done' | DoD Buzz: The Navy’s production lines are hot and the work to prepare them for the possibility of building out a much larger fleet would be manageable, the service’s head of acquisition said Thursday.

From a logistics perspective, building the fleet from its current 274 ships to 355, as recommended in the Navy’s newest force structure assessment in December, would be straightforward, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition Sean Stackley told reporters at the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.

“By virtue of maintaining these hot production lines, frankly, over the last eight years, our facilities are in pretty good shape,” Stackley said. “In fact, if you talked to industry, they would say we’re underutilizing the facilities that we have.”

The areas where the Navy would likely have to adjust “tooling” to answer demand for a larger fleet would likely be in Virginia-class attack submarines and large surface combatants, the DDG-51 guided missile destroyers — two ship classes likely to surge if the Navy gets funding to build to 355 ships, he said.

US Troops Enter Poland, 1st Deployment at Russia's Doorstep | Military.com

US Troops Enter Poland, 1st Deployment at Russia's Doorstep | Military.com: American soldiers rolled into Poland on Thursday, fulfilling a dream some Poles have had since the fall of communism in 1989 to have U.S. troops on their soil as a deterrent against Russia.

Some people waved and held up American flags as U.S. troops in tanks and other vehicles crossed into southwestern Poland from Germany and headed toward the town of Zagan, where they will be based. Poland's prime minister and defense minister will welcome them in an official ceremony Saturday.

"This is the fulfilment of a dream," said Michal Baranowski, director of the German Marshall Fund think tank in Warsaw. "And this is not just a symbolic presence but one with a real capability."

U.S. and other Western nations have carried out exercises on NATO's eastern flank in past years, but the new deployment — which includes some 3,500 U.S. troops — marks the first-ever continuous deployment to the region by a NATO ally.

It is part of a larger commitment by President Barack Obama to protect a region that grew deeply nervous when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then began backing separatist rebels in Ukraine's east.

There are fears, however, that the enhanced security could eventually be undermined by the pro-Kremlin views of President-elect Donald Trump.

Mattis at Odds With Trump on Russia, Backs Women in Combat | Military.com

Mattis at Odds With Trump on Russia, Backs Women in Combat | Military.com

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis set out positions at odds with the campaign statements of President-elect Donald Trump on Russia and Iran at his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday to become the nation's 26th secretary of defense.

Mattis also pledged to keep in place the current policies opening up all military occupational specialties, including combat jobs, to women and allowing gays to serve openly.

Trump has expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggested working with the Kremlin to combat terrorism, but Mattis used his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee to warn against Russian aggression in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria.

"History is not a straightjacket, but I've never found a better guide for the way ahead," Mattis said, pointing to the failures of U.S. policy since World War II in improving relations with the Soviet Union and now Russia.

"Right now, the most important thing is that we must recognize the reality" of Putin's continuing adversarial policies, he said.

Mattis said he would seek to bolster the NATO alliance and "defend ourselves where we must" against Russia. He said he had discussed Russian aggression with Trump and "he's shown himself to be open" on the issue, but "he understands where I stand."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

LCS Minehunting Package Near Completion | DoD Buzz

LCS Minehunting Package Near Completion | DoD Buzz: The first littoral combat ships are set to deploy with mine countermeasures packages, including airborne systems and unmanned technology, by the end of the decade, Navy and Marine Corps officials said Wednesday.

One of the three missions the small surface ships are set to take on is mine countermeasures, replacing the Navy’s aging fleet of Avenger-class mine countermeasures [MCM] ships. But they’ll do the job using a new range of technologies, many of which are unmanned. This, officials said, will allow the Navy to “take the sailor out of the minefield” and complete longer missions with fewer resources.

The Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system, a minehunting payload designed to operate aboard the MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle, is set to achieve initial operational capability by the end of September, said Marine Maj. Gen. Christopher Owens, director of the Navy’s Expeditionary Warfare Division.

Two more airborne systems, the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System, and the Airborne Mine Neutralization System, achieved IOC at the end of November, Owens said. Both will operate aboard the Navy’s MH-60S chopper to locate and take out sea mines from the air by means of powerful armor-piercing warheads.

All these systems are headed for shipboard testing later this year, along with the AQS-20A minehunting sonar, a system designed to be pulled by the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle, a new surface drone boat now in water testing.

Mattis Defends Trump's F-35 Criticism

Mattis Defends Trump's F-35 Criticism: President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the next defense secretary on Thursday characterized his boss as ultimately supportive of the F-35 program, despite recent comments by Trump criticizing the high costs of the program.

Over the past month, Trump has repeatedly used Twitter as his platform of choice to trash the “out-of-control” costs of the F-35. The president-elect has also put the Air Force One program in his crosshairs, tweeting that the program should be canceled.

During a confirmation hearing in front of the Senate armed services committee, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis said Trump has "in no way shown a lack of support for the program. He just wants more bang for the buck.”

US Navy Surface Forces Urged To Become More Aggressive

US Navy Surface Forces Urged To Become More Aggressive: “The time is now. The future of war fighting is up to us.” With those declarations, Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, commander of US Naval Surface Forces, on Tuesday opened the 29th annual national symposium of the Surface Navy Association, a gathering of officers and sailors from around the fleet who man cruisers, destroyers, littoral combat ships, mine ships and amphibious ships.

Rowden’s hallmark after two and half years as the Navy’s “SWO Boss” — Surface Warfare Officer Boss — is distributed lethality, an effort to install more powerful weapons on ships while expanding command and control of those weapons, and reinstate a sense of war fighting in the surface Navy. He’s directed, for example, that each ship fire at least one weapon each day at sea.

He debuted a stirring video depicting the striking power of the US Navy’s surface forces and appeared on camera at the end, declaring: “We, the US Navy, are back in the sea control game, in a big way.”

A return to the themes of sea control, once a mantra of the Cold War-era US Navy, is a major facet of Rowden’s new Surface Force Strategy. As defined in the strategy, sea control “is the capability and capacity to impose localized control of the sea when and where it is required.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Marines study sci-fi to plan for future battlefield needs

Marines study sci-fi to plan for future battlefield needs: The Marine Corps is turning to science fiction and short stories to help forecast future operating concepts in an increasingly complex world.

A Science Fiction Futures Workshop held at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory resulted in three realistic short stories based on the memo "Marine Corps Security Environment Forecast: Futures 2030-2045" (MCSEF), known as the "Science Fiction Futures."

The project, put on by the Corps' Futures Directorate, which provides assessments of plausible future security environments, was a collaboration of science fiction writers and service members to dream up short stories based on future environments described in the 2015 MCSEF.

In every concept the Marine Corps writes, each should begin with a futuristic short story, according to Brig. Gen. Julian Alford, commanding general of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

“It’s the hook … it’s just like any great leader is usually a good storyteller, and that’s what this is,” he said of these short stories.

Speaking at the Atlantic Council on Jan. 11, Alford, who also serves as the director of the Futures Directorate, added: “If we’re thinking and writing about the future, we’re more likely to get it close.”

Proposed 355-Ship Navy Could Open Door to Increased Destroyer Production

Proposed 355-Ship Navy Could Open Door to Increased Destroyer Production: The head of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer program is anticipating increased demand for the ship as a result of the Navy’s new 355-vessel shipbuilding goal, and growing production from two to three ships a year is within the realm of possibility, he said Wednesday.

“As a program, we used to routinely build three ships a year. Right now, we’re budgeted at two ships per year,” said Capt. Casey Moton during a briefing at the Surface Navy Association conference in Arlington, Virginia. “So if you ask Capt. Moton if the DDG-51 community is capable of increasing the program to three ships a year, it’s pretty hard for me to stand here with that chart and then tell you no. I’m confident that we could do it.”

The Navy in December released a new fleet assessment plan that boosted its shipbuilding goal from 308 to a whopping 355 vessels—even more than had been proposed by President-elect Donald Trump during his campaign. The service recommended growing its fleet of large surface combatants, consisting of cruisers and destroyers, from 88 to 104 ships.

First F-35B Squadron Moves to Japan

First F-35B Squadron Moves to Japan: A Marine Corps F-35B squadron has transferred from the United States to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, marking the first permanent international deployment of the joint strike fighter, the service announced Tuesday.

Marine Corps spokesman Capt Kurt Stahl told Defense News that 10 F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) departed Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona on Monday, with the first jets slated to arrive in Japan on Wednesday. All 10 F-35s will arrive at Iwakuni by Thursday. Eventually, an additional six jets will be relocated from Yuma to Iwakuni, bringing the squadron up to a full 16 aircraft.

VMFA-121 is a part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

“The transition of VMFA-121 from MCAS Yuma to MCAS Iwakuni marks a significant milestone in the F-35B program as the Marine Corps continues to lead the way in the advancement of stealth fighter attack aircraft,” the service said in a statement.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Navy to Kick Off Extra Large UUV Competition This Month

Navy to Kick Off Extra Large UUV Competition This Month: The Navy is getting ready to start a new competition for large underwater drones that can be linked together, providing the service an undersea network of communications equipment or sensors.

During a briefing at the Surface Navy Association conference, Capt. Jon Rucker announced that the service plans to release a request for proposals for the Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV) program as soon as this month. The competition will include both vehicle design and construction.

The Navy envisions the XLUUV as a modular, open architecture system that can be reconfigured with different payloads, according to a September request for information. The vehicle will be able to be launched pierside without needing to be carried aboard a host ship, Rucker said.

The XLUUV will differentiate itself from current submersible systems by its greater endurance and payload capacity, including the potential to perform offensive maneuvers while submerged underwater, he said.

Defense Department succesfully tests world's largest micro-drone swarm

Defense Department succesfully tests world's largest micro-drone swarm: U.S. military officials in California have conducted a test launching more than 100 micro-drones from three F/A-18 Super Hornets, the largest-ever test for the cutting-edge "swarm" technology, defense officials said.

The swarm consisted of 103 Perdix micro drones, which are small, low-cost, battery-powered devices, launched from three separate Super Hornets. The exercise was conducted at China Lake, California, by the Pentagon's Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO, working with Naval Air Systems Command.

The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as "collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying, and self-healing," according to a Defense Department statement Monday.

Documents detail Mattis' speaking engagements, financial ties to defense contractors - U.S. - Stripes

Documents detail Mattis' speaking engagements, financial ties to defense contractors - U.S. - Stripes: Retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, nominated to be the next secretary of defense, has received millions of dollars of income since leaving the military, including through lucrative speaking engagements with companies such as Goldman Sachs and Northrop Grumman and paid positions with Theranos, Stanford University and General Dynamics.

The details were disclosed in part through records newly released by the Office of Government Ethics. Mattis, who retired as chief of U.S. Central Command (Centcom) in 2013, said in a memo to the Pentagon dated Jan. 5 that he will not participate "personally and substantially" in any matters in which he knows he has a financial interest without seeking a legal waiver.

The financial documents were first reported on by Politico.

The general's financial moves since retirement are not uncommon among his peers, who often make far more after leaving the military than they did while serving. But the newly released documents provide a window into the financial opportunities for a retired senior military leader and present a complication as he is considered by the Senate to be the Pentagon's senior civilian leader.

Mattis's most significant forms of income since retiring include salary of $419,359 as a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and fees of $242,000 as a member of the board of directors at the defense contractor General Dynamics, according to the documents.

US-led raid on IS leaders in Syria 'successful': Pentagon

US-led raid on IS leaders in Syria 'successful': Pentagon: US special operations troops carried out a "successful" raid in Syria against leaders of the Islamic State group in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday.

The operation was "focused on ISIL leadership" and was conducted by a US special operations unit tasked with tracking down top jihadist operatives, Navy Captain Jeff Davis said.

Davis said, however, that reports by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an independent monitor, that 25 jihadists had died in the raid were "grossly exaggerated."

He said the raids were carried out by the "Expeditionary Targeting Force" (ETF), an elite unit deployed to Iraq.

This kind of raid is aimed at eliminating jihadists as well as intelligence-gathering to conduct further operations, Davis said.

According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights and the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed coalition of Arab and Kurdish forces, at least four helicopters, including Apache attack helicopters, were used in the operation.

A commander of the SDF said the attack targeted vehicles driven by senior IS fighters coming from Raqa, killing several and capturing other. Davis denied that prisoners were taken, saying there was "no detention from this operation."

Pentagon successfully tests micro-drone swarm

Pentagon successfully tests micro-drone swarm: The Pentagon may soon be unleashing a 21st-century version of locusts on its adversaries after officials on Monday said it had successfully tested a swarm of 103 micro-drones.

The important step in the development of new autonomous weapon systems was made possible by improvements in artificial intelligence, holding open the possibility that groups of small robots could act together under human direction.

Military strategists have high hopes for such drone swarms that would be cheap to produce and able to overwhelm opponents' defenses with their great numbers.

The test of the world's largest micro-drone swarm in California in October included 103 Perdix micro-drones measuring around six inches (16 centimeters) launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, the Pentagon said in a statement.

"The micro-drones demonstrated advanced swarm behaviors such as collective decision-making, adaptive formation flying and self-healing," it said.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Pentagon approval will advance submarine work - Navy - Stripes

Pentagon approval will advance submarine work - Navy - Stripes: Advance work on a new fleet of nuclear-armed submarines, the Navy's top priority and key to fortunes at Newport News Shipbuilding, received approval this week from the Pentagon's lead weapons buyer.

The endorsement of Frank Kendall, a Defense Department undersecretary, means the Columbia class submarine program can proceed to the next phase: detailed design and construction.

The Newport News shipyard, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, serves as top subcontractor on the $100 billion program. Taking the lead is General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton, Conn.

The two yards are exclusive builders of nuclear-powered submarines for the Navy. They already split work on the Virginia-class submarine program, which the Navy holds up as one of its success stories.

Kendall's approval came late Wednesday and was announced in a news release from Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn. He worked closely on the program with former congressman Randy Forbes, a Chesapeake Republican.

Report: US Security Cooperation Knotted in Bureaucracy

Report: US Security Cooperation Knotted in Bureaucracy: A new report in the wake of big changes to the Pentagon’s security assistance apparatus argues the sector’s wider web of US government bureaucracies is still profoundly tangled.

Security cooperation has been a cornerstone of US defense strategy, with $250 billion spent in at least 137 countries since 9/11. By bolstering partner security forces — from local police to elite troops — it’s meant to prevent future crises, a way to do more with less.

Yet, in spite of a recently-signed defense policy bill that aims to rid the Pentagon of its organizational, transparency and training woes for security assistance, the government overall is a knot of 46 entities with slim to no coordination between them or a means of gauging whether these programs actually work.

A report by Open Society Foundations senior policy adviser Rose Jackson, published Monday, offers a blueprint for Department of Defense and beyond. Its recommendations aim to improve internal transparency, make the workforce more capable and standardize processes for planning, budgeting and programming.

Women in Afghanistan Join Forces to Fight Militants

Women in Afghanistan Join Forces to Fight Militants: A group of 150 women in the northern Jawzjan province of Afghanistan have taken up arms to fight Taliban and Islamic State militants.

Some of the women, who live in the violence-plagued districts of Qoosh Tapa and Darz A’ab, say Taliban and IS militants killed the male members of their families.

Mumlakat is a woman from Qoosh Tapa district:

“They killed three of my sons and burned down our livelihood. Now we have come out to fight IS,” she said.

The Afghan women, who say they are ready to fight alongside men from their districts, say they can no longer tolerate the brutalities of the militants.

Nafisa is a resident from Darz A’ab district:

“They [the militants] killed my brother, sister, and a nephew. That is why I took the arms and seek the Afghan government’s help in the fight against IS,” she said.

Hafeez Khashi, the local national police commander, said they are trying to support and equip the women.

U.S. military vows more complex training in Europe to deter Russia | Reuters

U.S. military vows more complex training in Europe to deter Russia | Reuters

The U.S. military on Sunday vowed to increase the scope and complexity of its European training exercises to deter Russian aggression, as more U.S. tanks, trucks and other equipment arrived in Germany for a big buildup on NATO's eastern flank.

"Let me be clear: This is one part of our efforts to deter Russian aggression, ensure the territorial integrity of our allies and maintain a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous, and at peace," U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Tim Ray, deputy commander of U.S. European Command, said in prepared remarks.

Ray underscored the United States' "rock-solid commitment to Europe" in the northern German port of Bremerhaven, where he marked the arrival in recent days of some 2,800 pieces of military equipment that will be used by nearly 4,000 U.S. troops in exercises in NATO states near Russia.

The U.S. and NATO buildup in eastern Europe comes days after U.S. intelligence agencies accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering an effort to help Republican Donald Trump's electoral chances by discrediting Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Ray said the U.S. military's nearly 70,000 service members in Europe were adapting to rapidly changing strategic challenges such as Russia's military operations in Ukraine, migrant flows from Syria, and Islamist radicalism, as evidenced by a truck attack in Berlin that killed 12 people in December.

The U.S. military and NATO are seeking to boost their ability to quickly respond to emerging threats by pre-positioning supplies and equipment across Europe, while upgrading airfields, ranges and other infrastructure after years of neglect.

DARPA's networks of the sea enter next stage

DARPA's networks of the sea enter next stage: DARPA's Tactical Undersea Network Architecture (TUNA) program recently completed its initial phase, successfully developing concepts and technologies aimed at restoring connectivity for U.S. forces when traditional tactical networks are knocked offline or otherwise unavailable. The program now enters the next phase, which calls for the demonstration of a prototype of the system at sea.

TUNA seeks to develop and demonstrate novel, optical-fiber-based technology options and designs to temporarily restore radio frequency (RF) tactical data networks in a contested environment via an undersea optical fiber backbone. The concept involves deploying RF network node buoys-dropped from aircraft or ships, for example-that would be connected via thin underwater fiber-optic cables.

The very-small-diameter fiber-optic cables being developed are designed to last 30 days in the rough ocean environment-long enough to provide essential connectivity until primary methods of communications are restored.

U.S. Air Force issues RFP for aircraft laser weapons

U.S. Air Force issues RFP for aircraft laser weapons: The U.S. Air Force has issued a request for proposal to develop laser protection systems for its fleet of tactical fighter aircraft.

The competitive request aims to solicit research for the Air Force Research Laboratory's Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments project, or LANCE. Under the program, researchers will investigate laser-based solutions for defending pilots from a variety of anti-aircraft threats.

"The objective of LANCE is to perform research and development activities necessary to design, fabricate and deliver a reliable, ruggedized high-power laser (with excellent beam quality and compact design) for integration within an aerodynamic integrating structure for use during flight testing on tactical aircraft for self-defense research during Phase II of the Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHIELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD)," the request says.

The Air Force expects to award only one new contract for the project, but did not disclose an official number. The total estimated cost for the award is $35 million.

U.K. Defense Ministry finalizes laser weapon system contract

U.K. Defense Ministry finalizes laser weapon system contract: Britain's Ministry of Defense has awarded MBDA and other industry partners a $36 million contract to produce a Laser Directed Energy Weapon demonstrator.

The contract, which aims to allow Britain's first laser weapon to enter service by the mid-2020s, will task contractors to assess the technology's capabilities. Project leaders hope to demonstrate the system in 2019.

"The U.K. has long enjoyed a reputation as a world leader in innovation and it is truly ground-breaking projects like the Laser Directed Energy Weapon which will keep this country ahead of the curve," U.K. Defense Procurement Minister Harriet Baldwin said in a press release. "Our commitment to innovation will deliver a safer and more prosperous Britain."

Friday, January 6, 2017

US Ships Tanks, Equipment For NATO Exercises In Europe

US Ships Tanks, Equipment For NATO Exercises In Europe: Hundreds of U.S. tanks, trucks and other military equipment arrived by ship in Germany on Friday to be transported by rail and road to eastern Europe as part of a NATO buildup that has drawn Russia's ire.

Two shiploads arrived in the northern port of Bremerhaven and a third was due in a few days, bringing the fleets of tracked and wheeled vehicles for use by around 4,000 U.S. troops being deployed for exercises in NATO states near Russia.

U.S. and Polish forces will participate in a large "massing" exercise in Poland at the end of January as part of a series of measures aimed at reassuring U.S. allies in Europe after Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

"The best way to maintain the peace is through preparation," Major General Timothy McGuire told reporters when asked if the large deployment was meant to send a message to Russia.

"This is just showing the strength and cohesion of the alliance and the U.S. commitment to maintain the peace on the continent," he said.

NATO countries say their planned deployments to eastern NATO countries are purely defensive, but Russia has rebuked what it sees as an aggressive western buildup in eastern Europe.

South Korea to Form Brigade to Remove North's Leadership in War | Military.com

South Korea to Form Brigade to Remove North's Leadership in War | Military.com: South Korea will form a special military brigade this year tasked with removing North Korea's leadership in the event of war as Seoul looks for options to counter its rival's nuclear weapons and missiles, an official said Thursday.

The brigade will aim to remove the North's wartime command and paralyze its function if war breaks out, according to an official from Seoul's Defense Ministry, who refused to be named, citing office rules. The brigade was originally planned to be ready by 2019. The official refused to say whether the brigade will train to execute pre-emptive strikes.

The plan was included in Defense Minister Han Min Koo's policy briefing to Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who became government caretaker upon President Park Geun-hye's impeachment over a corruption scandal.

General: Older Fighters Can't Match F-35 | DoD Buzz

General: Older Fighters Can't Match F-35 | DoD Buzz: Older fighter jets such as the F-16 and F/A-18 will never match the F-35, an Air Force general said.

Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, a former F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot who directs the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program’s integration office, said even upgraded versions of the fourth-generation fighters simply can’t compete against the newer aircraft’s stealth superiority.

“You cannot take an airplane like an F-16 and really make it stealthy,” Pleus said in an interview with Military.com on Wednesday at the Pentagon. “The airplane is the shape of the airplane, the size is the size of the airplane,” he said.

“The radar cross-section of an F-18 is the radar cross-section of an F-18 — you can’t change that,” he added. “Low observable technology, the ability to evade radar if you will, is something that has to be designed into the airplane from the very beginning.”

Pleus’ comments came just weeks after President-elect Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize the F-35 program — the Pentagon’s biggest acquisition program estimated at nearly $400 billion for almost 2,500 aircraft.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

DARPA discloses endurance record for diesel-powered UAV | IHS Jane's 360

DARPA discloses endurance record for diesel-powered UAV | IHS Jane's 360: The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced on 4 January a world-record breaking endurance flight for a diesel-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), with a nearly 56-hour sortie flown by a craft built by Vanilla Aircraft of Falls Church, Virginia.

The flight of aircraft VA001 began on 30 November 2016 at New Mexico State University's Unmanned Air Systems Flight Test Center near Las Cruces International Airport, and saw the UAV fly at an altitude of between 6,500 ft and 7,500 ft and averaging 57 kt before landing on the afternoon of 2 December.

A representative from the National Aeronautic Association - the organisation that verifies and tracks flight-related world records - certified the flight as achieving the world duration record for combustion-powered UAVs in the 50-500 kg subclass (FAI Class U-1.c Group 1). Moreover, the flight was the fourth-longest for any unmanned aircraft and the 11th-longest for an aircraft of any type (manned or unmanned, solar or fuel-powered).

U.S. Navy to deploy advanced early warning aircraft to Japan | Reuters

U.S. Navy to deploy advanced early warning aircraft to Japan | Reuters

The U.S. Navy on Thursday said it will deploy its latest advanced early warning aircraft to Japan to bolster air defences, deterring potential missile attacks and intrusions by stealth aircraft.

The Northrop Grumman Corp E-2D Advanced Hawkeye deployment is part of a U.S. military pivot to Asia of its most advanced aircraft and ships to counter China's growing military strength.

The move, although planned before the U.S. election, comes amid fresh tension between the United States and Japan as President-elect Donald Trump questions the longstanding One-China policy.

"The Advanced Hawkeye’s suite of systems allow it to act as the 'digital quarterback' of the fleet, collecting and distributing the tactical picture to command centers and other assets," the U.S. Navy said in a press release.

The aircraft, designed to operate from aircraft carriers, will be based at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni in western Japan. It can act as a networked battle management platform, guiding other aircraft and ships to fire on incoming threats.

The Navy did not give a specific number, but a squadron typically includes between 12 and 24 aircraft. The new aircrafts replace an older version, the E-2s.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Russia Eyes Naval Drills with Philippines as Two Ships Visit | Military.com

Russia Eyes Naval Drills with Philippines as Two Ships Visit | Military.com: Russia is eyeing naval exercises with the Philippines and deployed two navy ships for a goodwill visit to Manila on Tuesday as Moscow moves to expand defense ties with a Filipino president known for being hostile to the U.S.

Rear Adm. Eduard Mikhailov, deputy commander of Russia's Pacific Fleet, led the five-day visit of vessels including an anti-submarine ship and showcased what his country can offer to a Southeast Asian nation that's long been a staunch American treaty ally.

"You can choose ... to cooperate with United States of America or to cooperate with Russia," Mikhailov told reporters through an interpreter at the Manila harbor after a welcoming ceremony. "But from our side we can help you in every way that you need."

"We are sure that in the future we'll have exercises with you. Maybe, just maneuvering or maybe use of combat systems and so on," he said.

The anti-submarine ship Admiral Tributs and sea tanker Boris Butoma have a wide range of combat features. Filipinos will be allowed to tour the huge ships and Russian marines will demonstrate their combat capability during the high-profile visit, according to the Philippine navy.

Air Crews Can Expect Busy Training Year in Europe: General | Military.com

Air Crews Can Expect Busy Training Year in Europe: General | Military.com

U.S. airmen will see more training exercises with NATO counterparts this year as part of an effort to support allies amid increased Russian military activity in the region.

Units under U.S. Air Forces Europe-Africa should expect a drill boost beginning this spring, according to the head of the command.

"[We are] working to maximize the number of training events we have this spring all the way through the summer, but we're also careful not to overload the troopers with training events that might not be fruitful for what we expect they might have to do," Gen. Tod Wolters said in a recent interview with Military.com.

"We anticipate in the areas of strike superiority, surveillance, rapid global mobility and command and control that we'll have a wide array of exercises here in the European region," he added.

That means the Air Force -- with help from National Guard and Reserve units -- will bring in a number of different aircraft to the region, from intelligence and surveillance planes to fighters and bombers and airlifters.

In addition, there might be even more personnel rotations into the region

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Duterte seeks 'strategic shift' from US to China: envoy

Duterte seeks 'strategic shift' from US to China: envoy: The Philippines is tilting away from its traditional ally the United States towards China in a bid to "normalise" relations following a longstanding territorial dispute, the country's incoming ambassador to Beijing said Monday.

Manila has been one of Washington's most loyal allies in Asia, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to end the decades-long alliance after the US criticised his bloody war on drugs that has killed over 5,000 people since he took office in June.

His fiery rhetoric against the US has been followed by overtures to China as he has sought to assuage Beijing's concerns over Manila's competing claims to the South China Sea.

The new Philippine ambassador to China, Jose "Chito" Sta. Romana, told AFP the move represented "a strategic shift in our foreign policy".

"We were one-sidedly imbalanced in favour of the US," he said.

"We are not abandoning our alliance with the US.... We are basically trying to normalise our relations with China."