Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The T-X battle comes down to Lockheed and Boeing

The T-X battle comes down to Lockheed and Boeing: With U.S. President Donald Trump’s attention fixed on the F-35 and Air Force One, the Air Force’s biggest ongoing aircraft competition so far has gone untouched. But even without Trump’s intervention, the T-X race has evolved into something not unlike an episode of a reality TV show, featuring industry teams breaking up, companies unexpectedly dropping out and upstart entries coming in at the last minute.

The T-X program began with four main competitors: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman — which developed a new prototype — and a Raytheon-Leonardo team offering the latter firm’s M-346. Over the past couple of months, Northrop has pulled out of the competition, Raytheon dissolved its partnership with Leonardo — leaving the Italian firm to ally with its US wing, DRS Technologies — and several smaller companies, including Sierra Nevada and the nigh-unknown Stavatti Aerospace, decided to throw their designs into the ring.

Analysts tell Defense News that the drama overshadows the most important point: The competition has become a face-off between Boeing’s clean-sheet T-X design and the Lockheed Martin-Korean Aerospace Industries’ T-50A, the US derivative of a trainer flown by the South Korean, Iraqi, Philippine and Indonesian militaries.

Army on track to integrate bigger gun on Stryker

Army on track to integrate bigger gun on Stryker: The Army is trying to rapidly field Strykers with a bigger gun to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe amid concerns the service is outgunned by Russian counterparts, and so far the program is on track, according to Col. Glenn Dean, the project manager for Stryker.

Congress provided the Stryker program office funding in 2015 and 2016 to field Stryker infantry carrier vehicles with a 30 mm cannon to the regiment in Europe by 2018. A little more than $300 million is allocated for eight prototypes and upgrades to 83 production vehicles, plus spares.

General Dynamics Land Systems — the Stryker’s prime contractor — was authorized by the Army to hold a competition to select a gun and turret for the vehicle.

The company chose Kongsberg Defense Systems as the turret provider and ATK’s XM813 30 mm cannon for the gun in December 2015.

Pentagon Officials Review Overall Strategy To Fight ISIS : NPR

Pentagon Officials Review Overall Strategy To Fight ISIS : NPR: Rachel Martin talks to Sarah Margon, Washington director of Human Rights Watch about the potential shift in the strategy to fight ISIS. Some worry it may call for expanding the rules of engagement.

Future of Army Combat: McCain Wants Ambition, Army Offers Caution « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Future of Army Combat: McCain Wants Ambition, Army Offers Caution « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: Sen. John McCain wants an ambitious plan for new ground vehicle designs and new kinds of combat units from the Army. So does the Heritage Foundation, which has provided much of the brain power for the Trump administration. But the Army isn’t on board: Burned by past program meltdowns like FCS and GCV. the service is focused on incremental upgrades to existing weapons,

McCain & co. have plenty of suggestions. As Senate Armed Services staffer (and retired Army colonel) James Hickey reiterated today at a Lexington Institute briefing on Capitol Hill, McCain’s recent white paper calls for

John McCain
leap-ahead investment in new technologies “such as electronic warfare (jamming) and unmanned ground vehicles (robots)”;
new unit organizations such as “Multi-Domain Combat Brigades” with long-range missiles and offensive cyber, or reconnaissance-strike brigades riding new combat vehicles, such as
a new design for a multi-mission ground combat vehicle, albeit using existing components to save time and money;
a new “highly maneuverable, short-range air defense system” to accompany combat units and protect them from drones, helicopters, and attack aircraft;
“major investments” in Army missiles and munitions, both defensive — like Patriot and Stinger — and offensive — ATACMS, Guided MLRS, and the Paladin howitzer; and
rapidly upgrading five of the Army’s nine active-duty Armored Brigade Combat Teams to the latest models of existing vehicles, the new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, plus Active Protection Systems (APS) to stop incoming anti-tank missiles.

Citing Mattis, retired generals oppose Trump's proposed foreign aid cuts - U.S. - Stripes

Citing Mattis, retired generals oppose Trump's proposed foreign aid cuts - U.S. - Stripes: Now is not the time to slash U.S. foreign aid, more than 120 retired generals and admirals said Monday in a letter to lawmakers, while citing past comments from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to buttress their case.

The letter was released by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, which includes business executives, foreign-policy experts and retired senior military officials, as the Trump administration signaled that it will slash international spending while boosting funding for the U.S. military. The signatories include several past service chiefs and combatant commanders.

"The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm's way," the letter said. "As Secretary James Mattis said while Commander of U.S. Central Command, 'If you don't fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.' "

The letter added that while the military will "lead the fight against terrorism on the battlefield," it needs strong partners to combat issues that drive extremism, including insecurity, injustice, hopelessness and lack of opportunity.

Air Force's New Intelligence Chief Explains Vision for Future of ISR | Military.com

Air Force's New Intelligence Chief Explains Vision for Future of ISR | Military.com: Like her nickname, Lt. Gen. VeraLinn "Dash" Jamieson is taking her ideas for the Air Force intelligence community and running with them -- full speed ahead.

Jamieson -- who in November became the service's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance on the Air Staff at the Pentagon, known as the A2 -- has begun a developmental phase she believes will take intelligence gathering, and ISR missions involving platforms such as the MQ-9 Reaper, the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS), and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, well into 2030.

"I think [what] I'm actually addressing, I'm starting with the 'I' in ISR," Jamieson said in an interview with Military.com on Feb. 15. "I came up with a vision that encompasses where I think we are, and how do we support the [Air Force's] strategic master plan, the [defense] secretary's national strategy, and address our [major command] concerns. I'm a simple person: Win today, prepare for tomorrow. And I thought all of the airmen could understand, 'What does that mean?' [The plan] addresses how do we enable and become successful in today's fight, while not ignoring tomorrow's ... [threats]."

Mattis Gives White House Tentative Plan for Rapid Defeat of ISIS | Military.com

Mattis Gives White House Tentative Plan for Rapid Defeat of ISIS | Military.com: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis presented a classified plan to the White House Monday for the rapid defeat of ISIS that was reportedly an updated version of the Obama administration's strategy of relying on local forces to carry the brunt of the fight.

"It is a plan to rapidly defeat ISIS," said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, but he stressed that "this is a preliminary plan" whose details will be closely held to allow for continued discussion and to avoid giving the enemy forewarning.

The plan called for the involvement of "all elements of national power" in what Davis called a "trans-regional approach" to defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

"Diplomacy is a key part of the plan" that was focused on ISIS but was also shaped to include other "trans-regional" terrorist groups, Davis said. "This is really a framework for broader discussion."

The formulation of the plan fulfilled a campaign pledge by Trump, who had said that if elected he would order up a 30-day review on accelerated action to eliminate ISIS as a threat. On Jan, 27, Trump went to the Pentagon for the first time to sign an executive order directing Mattis to draw up the plan within 30 days.

McCain, Thornberry: Trump's Proposed Defense Spending Hike Not Enough | Military.com

McCain, Thornberry: Trump's Proposed Defense Spending Hike Not Enough | Military.com: The Republican chairmen of the Senate and House armed services committees said Monday that President Donald Trump's proposal to boost defense spending by $54 billion for fiscal year 2018 is not enough.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, are pushing for a $640-billion base defense budget and said the $603-billion proposal unveiled by the White House will not reverse the decline in recent years in spending and military readiness.

The White House released a spending cap-busting, top-line figure following pledges by Trump for a major defense buildup but declined to provide details of how the additional money will be used. It plans to release a fully detailed defense budget in May and that must be passed by Congress.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Information Warfare Breaks Regional, Geographic Boundaries at WEST 2017

WEST 2017 concluded Feb. 23 following three-days of speakers, panels, demonstrations, and capability displays.

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), alongside the Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (N2N6), hosted the information warfare (IW) pavilion on the exposition floor for the second consecutive year. The critical man, both Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet and Navy Information Forces Command showcased train and equip IW missions.

Electronics Technician 1st Class Antonio Munoz, SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, served as a subject matter expert during WEST in the IW pavilion for the Heterogeneous Autonomous Maritime Mobile Expeditionary Robot (HAMMER).

"HAMMER supports surface, subsurface, and air mission areas," said Munoz. "It is designed to respond to unknown threats, so that we do not have to risk the lives of [explosive ordnance disposal] service members. Attendees of WEST were completely surprised that this type of technology even exists, especially because HAMMER does multiple missions autonomously, all while being powered by wind and solar technology. HAMMER is only one example of something innovative that exists now for our Sailors to use in the fleet."

Munoz continued to explain his excitement for having the opportunity to showcase HAMMER at WEST this year.

"It was pretty amazing to be at WEST," said Munoz. "Not only did I represent SPAWAR and the tremendous technology being developed, but I also represented the U.S. Navy Reserves. I am currently serving extended time on active duty and I am very proud to showcase how the Reserve community supports the information warfare mission."

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, N2N6 and director of naval intelligence, explained during an IW leadership panel how cyber and digital warfighting looks on a global scale.

"We have to operate differently than we have in the past," said Tighe. "Operators of our information warfare systems need to integrate with the engineers and the designers, so that we can quickly find digital approaches to solve problems and move forward with solutions. Battlespace awareness, combined with integrated fires and assured command and control, will allow us to get to a better place and get the requirement right."

Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations; Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps; and Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant of the Coast Guard, discussed the importance of working across all sea services in the information warfare domain during the closing luncheon of WEST 2017.

Richardson emphasized the important role information technologies have on the future of the fleet.

"The operating concepts that will allow us to continue to be competitive and win in the future [include] directed energies, unmanned technologies, artificial intelligence, and additive manufacturing," said Richardson.

Richardson continued to stress communicating and coordinating across all services will provide necessary standards and consistency in warfighting environments.

"Providing the data standards and the communication standards -- not only within the Navy, but with our sister services -- [will allow us] to communicate, sense, and target together ... that's going to be a real force multiplier," said Richardson.

Neller complemented Richardson's comments by emphasizing information warfare is not a mission area restricted by a region or geographic location.

"All of us recognize that [information warfare and cyber are] not bounded geographically, even though the effect may be in a geographical area," said Neller. "We are going to have to look closely at our training and the gear that we buy [so] we have enough commonality [across services] in order to communicate with each other and help defend each other. We are entering an area where joint training is as important, or more important, than it's ever been."

WEST 2018 will be held Feb. 6-8, 2018, at the San Diego Convention Center.

Legal, Military Issues in Space are Focus of NWC Forum

Forward-looking experts are gazing skyward in preparation of examining military and legal issues being created as countries explore the security domain of outer space.

A recent conference, "International Legal Implications of Military Space Operations," brought together experts in law, policy, and academics from around the world to discuss this emerging legal topic.

The conference was sponsored by Stockton Center for the Study of International Law at U.S. Naval War College (NWC), Newport, Rhode Island; Harvard Law School Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Regional Delegation for the United States and Canada.

"The organizing members of the conference all agreed that the outer space domain is of growing concern and interest," said Army Maj. Chad Highfill, Stockton Center professor and organizer of the event. "Governments and corporations increasingly rely on space-based technologies to support many aspects of daily life. Military operations increasingly depend on space-based assets. In light of these trajectories, it is more vital than ever to examine international legal implications of military space operations. The workshop sought to analyze a select array of enduring and emergent legal issues in this area."

One of the presenters at the workshop, Dale Stephens, director of the Adelaide Research Unit on Military Law at the University of Adelaide, Australia, found the conference an opportunity to help shape the future discussions on the topic.

"This conference establishes the key questions and the fault lines in the area," said Stephens. "You get a sense of where people's concerns are. I'm very happy there was a lot of thoughtful consideration of how you apply an analysis of the issues."

Highfill said the need for discussions is important when exploring this newly-emerging topic.

"While the presentations at the conference were certainly outstanding," he said, "it's the discussions they engender that are of the most value in examining the issues raised during this workshop. We work hard to create an environment that encourages timely, relevant, and interesting discussion of the topics."

Covering this emerging topic requires participation from many areas. Highfill worked to include as many voices as possible.

"This workshop brought together a rich mix of experts in international law pertaining to armed conflict, in space law, and in relevant technologies, with eight foreign participants from seven countries -- United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Estonia, Switzerland, Slovakia, and Germany," said Highfill.

In this field of law there are many legal approaches to issues, and Stephens was eager to discuss opinions from everyone, especially those with whom he disagrees.

"I want to have my ideas challenged by others to just be assured in my mind whether I'm on the right track or not," he said.

Only through an open exchange of ideas can legal matters gain clarity, said Stephens. "A conference like this enables a more innovative way of thinking in an out-of-the box sort of way."

As space becomes more commonplace, legal issues will need to be solved, and this conference helped inform those discussions.

"The proliferation of space-based assets and their vital role in supporting both modern-life and military operations compels an examination of the international legal implications of military space operations," added Highfill. "This workshop brought together a mix of experts for the purpose of exploring a consensus on the governing legal precepts to guide some of [the] most fundamental issues arising in conflict in this domain."

The papers produced from this workshop will be published in the Stockton Center's journal "International Law Studies."

Army Ground-Launched Missile hits 500 km-2027 - Warrior - Scout

Army Ground-Launched Missile hits 500 km-2027 - Warrior - Scout: The Army is working to engineer a sleek, high-speed, first-of-its-kind long-range ground launched attack missile able to pinpoint and destroy enemy bunkers, helicopter staging areas, troop concentrations and other fixed-location targets from as much as three times the range of existing weapons, service officials said.

The emerging Long Range Precision Fires, slated to be operational by 2027, is being designed to destroy targets at distances up to 500 kilometers.

“The Long Range Precision Fires Missile will attack, neutralize, suppress and destroy targets using missile-delivered indirect precision fires. LRPF provides field artillery units with 24/7/365 long-range and deep-strike capability while supporting brigade, division, corps, Army, theater, Joint and Coalition forces as well as Marine Corps air-to-ground task forces in full, limited or expeditionary operations,” Dan O’boyle, spokesman for Program Executive Office, Missiles & Space, told Scout Warrior.

The new weapon is designed to replace the Army’s current aging 1980’s era MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System, a ground-launched missile able to fire at least 160 kilometers.

Why a few American marines in Taiwan pose so many problems for China-US ties | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post

Why a few American marines in Taiwan pose so many problems for China-US ties | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post: Stephen Young, former head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), Washington’s de facto mission to Taiwan, said uniformed officers would guard its new Taipei office upon its completion later this year. William Stanton, another former AIT director, has also confirmed the decision.

Echoing the news, Taiwanese Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee Ta-wei said Taipei would discuss with Washington sending a similar defence force to its de facto embassy in the US.

Beijing calls landmark Taiwan protests part of China’s liberation struggle

Though serving as a kind of embassy, the AIT is a private entity established in 1979 to manage US relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties. Deploying US marines there is a strong signal that will impact bilateral relations between the world’s largest and second-largest economies.

Few things create a more visual symbol of official ties than having uniformed officers at the gate of a diplomatic mission in a nation’s capital.

U.S. Air Force to retire MQ-1 Predator drone in 2018

U.S. Air Force to retire MQ-1 Predator drone in 2018: The U.S. Air Force is preparing to phase out its MQ-1 Predator drones in favor of an all-MQ-9 Reaper fleet in 2018.

The Predator's retirement will effectively conclude the unmanned aerial vehicle's 21 years of service with the Air Force. The platform supported intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions for the branch in addition to targeted strikes in enemy territory.

In a statement explaining the move, Air Force officials note the more modern MQ-9 Reaper is better equipped, and features overall superior operational capabilities.

F-35 Won't Join ISIS Battle for Years, General Says | Military.com

F-35 Won't Join ISIS Battle for Years, General Says | Military.com: The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will deploy to the Middle East for operations against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria -- but not for a few more years, the head of Air Combat Command said Friday.

"The plan is a few years out. It's not going to happen this year," Air Force Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle told reporters during a breakfast in Washington, D.C.

The general's comments come days before Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is set to unveil his plan to speed up the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, at President Donald Trump's behest, perhaps with the assistance of more U.S. troops on the ground.

The Trump administration has been vocal about its goal to "obliterate" ISIS much more swiftly than the ongoing air campaign, which began in 2014, is accomplishing.

Trump -- calling the current momentum of defeating ISIS "a disaster" -- previously on the campaign trail vowed to the American public crushing the terrorist group would happen under his administration.

Depending on the new military plan, and Trump’s hope to ramp-up operations, the question remains when or even if the F-35 Lightning II would deploy to the Middle East for anti-ISIS operations.

Pentagon Seeks to Expand Fight Against Extremists in Somalia | Military.com

Pentagon Seeks to Expand Fight Against Extremists in Somalia | Military.com: The Pentagon wants to expand the military's ability to battle al-Qaida-linked militants in Somalia, potentially putting U.S. forces closer to the fight against a stubborn extremist group that has plotted attacks against America, senior U.S. officials said.

The recommendations sent to the White House would allow U.S special operations forces to increase assistance to the Somali National Army in the struggle against al-Shabab militants in the fragile Horn of Africa nation, the officials said. They said the proposal would give the military greater flexibility to launch airstrikes against extremists that appear to be a threat.

Beefing up the military effort in Somalia fits with President Donald Trump's broader request for a Pentagon plan to accelerate the U.S.-led battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and defeat other extremist groups, including al-Qaida and its affiliates. U.S. concerns about al-Shabab escalated in recent years as young Americans from Somali communities traveled to training camps in Somalia, raising fears they might return to the United States and conduct terror attacks.

Pentagon: Out with 'ISIL,' In with 'ISIS' | Military.com

Pentagon: Out with 'ISIL,' In with 'ISIS' | Military.com

When the Islamic State group swept east from Syria to grab large swaths of Iraqi territory in 2014, the world was divided over how to refer to the extremist group, which traces its roots to al-Qaida in Iraq, which declared an Islamic State of Iraq in 2006. In 2013 the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, renamed it the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.

Al-Sham is an archaic word for a vaguely defined territory that includes what is now Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. It is most often translated as either Syria -- in the sense of a greater Syria that no longer exists -- or as the Levant, the closest English term for the territory it describes and the term preferred by the Obama administration.

Al-Baghdadi later shortened the name to Islamic State, declaring that the territory under his control would be a caliphate, or Islamic state.

In English, the group's name was most commonly translated as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Associated Press refers to it as the Islamic State group -- to distinguish it from an internationally recognized state -- or IS for short.

In Iraq and other Arab countries opposed to IS, the group is usually called Daesh, an Arabic acronym corresponding to ISIS. The term has a mocking tone and is insulting to IS because it diminishes its claim to have revived the Islamic caliphate. It is also close to the words "dahesh" and "da'es," meaning "one who tramples," making it fodder for puns.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

We CAN Tie Army, Navy Missile Defense Networks: Navy Experts « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

We CAN Tie Army, Navy Missile Defense Networks: Navy Experts « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: It’s completely possible to plug Army missile defenses into the Navy fire control network, a panel of Navy experts said Wednesday. That could make an obscure system called NIFC-CA (Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter-Air) the electronic backbone of a seamless defense against Russian, Chinese, Iranian, or North Korean airstrikes and missile salvos. NIFC-CA could potentially coordinate our own offensive strikes.

On Tuesday, the chief of US Pacific Command had told the AFCEA-USNI West 2017 conference here that he wanted the two services’ systems to interconnect. “I believe that Army missileers should incorporate their air defense systems into the Navy’s integrated fire control – counter-air, or NIFC-CA, architecture,” Adm. Harry Harris said. “I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a technical guy, so I don’t know how to make it work.”

We can make it work, the expert panel said the next day when asked about Harris’s idea. “It’s not hard,” said Anant Patel, a senior program manager in the Navy’s Program Executive Office – Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO-IEWS). “We’ve cracked the nut on how to integrate systems together, we understand what quality of service we need to engage a specific threat, so I think that’s the easy part to go work on with Army.”

The hard part, Patel continued, is “connectivity(:) That’s a tough, tough question because it all depends on the latencies and accuracies of the networks, so you have to look at a specific threat, what kind of reaction time do you have (and therefore what kind of network lag you can afford). It’s not as easy as, I’ll just give you the data.”

Drones Do Excellent Urban Close Air Support; Mideast F-35A Deployment In Several Years « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Drones Do Excellent Urban Close Air Support; Mideast F-35A Deployment In Several Years « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary: If Congress was skeptical of bombers and fighters doing Close Air Support, how will they react to MQ-9s doing the toughest CAS mission around — taking out targets in the close confines of an urban fight?

Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the soon-to-retire head of Air Combat Command, told reporters this morning that the Reaper is performing urban missions and doing a very fine job of it too. I understand there are videos of Hellfire missiles fired by Reapers snaking through an urban environment, heading through a window or door, exploding and leaving the structure intact (though it may not be very safe). While there have been isolated mentions of the Reaper performing CAS missions in Iraq and Syria, none have mentioned urban CAS operations, the most complex and difficult to perform given the difficulty of identifying targets, causing as little damage to homes and businesses as possible and killing as few innocents as humanly possible.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Air Force to request funds for light attack aircraft demo

Air Force to request funds for light attack aircraft demo: The Air Force plans to ask for additional funds for a light aircraft flight demonstration in its supplemental budget request, the service’s top general confirmed Thursday.

The Air Force and other military services are days away from their deadline to craft a supplemental request for fiscal year 2017, which Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said would be delivered to the Office of Management and Budget by March 1. Although most of the items on the supplemental are still shrouded in secrecy, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein acknowledged that an experiment of light attack aircraft is one of the items on its list.

"It's not a lot of money to do an experiment,” he said during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Recent legislation gave the service chiefs the ability to authorize experiments, “so I exercised it."

Goldfein did not specify how much the service needs to conduct the flight demonstration, but the service’s most recent unfunded requirements list earmarked $8 million for the activities.

Trump threats to New START could imperil nuclear modernization programs

Trump threats to New START could imperil nuclear modernization programs: U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments Thursday about the New START treaty could imperil the political consensus in Washington on modernizing the Pentagon’s nuclear arsenal.

In a Thursday interview with Reuters, Trump called the New START treaty a “"a one-sided deal” and a “bad deal,” and pledged that “if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”

Signed in 2010, the New START treaty limits both the U.S. and Russia agreed to limit their deployed forces to 1,550 warheads over 700 delivery systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and bombers, by 2018.

The deal has been praised by both the non-proliferation community and former Pentagon officials as one that increases global security, but has drawn the ire of Trump previously, with media outlets reporting that he railed against the deal during his first call with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Army Abrams Tanks to Control Robotic Attack Drones - Warrior - Scout

Army Abrams Tanks to Control Robotic Attack Drones - Warrior - Scout: Algorithms are progressing to the point wherein they will be able to allow an Abrams tank crew to operate multiple nearby “wing-man” robotic vehicles in a command and control capacity while on the move in combat.

The Army is preparing to configure Abrams tank prototypes able to control nearby “robotic” wing-man vehicles which fire weapons, carry ammunition and conduct reconnaissance missions for units on the move in combat, service officials said.

Although still in the early stages of discussion and conceptual development, the notion of manned-unmanned teaming for the Abrams continues to gain traction among Army and General Dynamics Land Systems developers.

Algorithms are progressing to the point wherein they will be able to allow an Abrams tank crew to operate multiple nearby “wing-man” robotic vehicles in a command and control capacity while on the move in combat.

Army researchers, engineers and weapons developers are preparing to prototype some of these possibilities for future Abrams tanks, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout warrior in an interview.

“As I look to the future and I think about game-changing technologies, manned-unmanned teaming is a big part of that. There’s a set of things that we think could be really transformational,” Bassett said.

This kind of dynamic could quickly change the nature of landwar.

'Bionic' eye on the future: From 'Star Trek' visors to 'Mission Impossible' contact lenses | Fox News

'Bionic' eye on the future: From 'Star Trek' visors to 'Mission Impossible' contact lenses | Fox News: Could bionic eyes restore sight to the blind and give the U.S. military super sight?

Bionic implanted eyeballs, “Star Trek”-style visors, telescopic contact lenses ... these are just a few of the many exciting projects underway to both restore and provide enhanced sight.

Significant strides have been made in tech that will restore and transform lives - replacing white canes, service animals, braille machines and more for the visually impaired.

There has been a lot in the media about prosthetic breakthroughs for U.S. veterans, but what about vision? Last year the Blinded Veterans Association told the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs that there are an estimated 131,580 legally blinded veterans in the U.S., citing data from the Depatment of Veterans Affairs.

This foam stops bullets cold and pulverizes them to dust | Fox News

This foam stops bullets cold and pulverizes them to dust | Fox News: Foam body armor? Even armor-piercing bullets cannot get through this foam.

And the foam doesn’t just stop bullets. It destroys them…this foam decimates bullets into dust.

North Carolina State University Professor Afsaneh Rabiei led the team that created the amazing foam.

This is not ordinary foam like the kind used for shaving, for example. This is a special type of foam called composite metal foams, or CMF.

The military and law enforcement could use this kind of foam for advanced, ultra light body armor to protect personnel.

And this research team has other foams up its sleeve that have the potential to keep military and first responders safe from radiation and extreme heat too.

Trump Facing GOP Pressure to Counter Russia's Arctic Fleet | Military.com

Trump Facing GOP Pressure to Counter Russia's Arctic Fleet | Military.com: As Donald Trump becomes the latest U.S. president to attempt a 'reset' with Russia, a key Republican ally is pressing the White House not to lose sight of an emerging battle for influence that Moscow is currently winning – in the Arctic.

Russia has aggressively built up its fleet of ships cruising Arctic waters, while the U.S. has fallen far behind. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is now urging Trump to counter that influence by funding additional so-called "icebreakers" for the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as drones to help the U.S. patrol.

In a Feb. 21 letter to the White House, the chairman the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation argued the U.S. needs to project power in the region, and not let Russia roam unmatched.

"Not only have we not built a new icebreaker since the late 1970s, the Coast Guard is being forced to order parts online and cannibalize older vessels to maintain a minimum level of operability – just to operate a single heavy icebreaker," he said.

Trio of Military Men Gain Growing Influence with Trump | Military.com

Trio of Military Men Gain Growing Influence with Trump | Military.com: In a White House laden with competing power centers, a trio of military men has emerged as a force to be reckoned with.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford have quickly formed a stabilizing alliance in an administration whose earliest days have been marked by turmoil. At working dinners and meetings with President Donald Trump, the men — all retired or current generals —have sought to guide the new leader and foreign policy novice.

And they have increasingly represented Trump around the world, seeking to allay concerns about the new president and his nascent foreign policy.

Their fingerprints can increasingly be seen on the president's early national security moves, from the reworking of his controversial refugee and immigration order to the walking back of his talk of a "military operation" for deportations to his search for a national security adviser after the first was ousted.

All three are notable for their independence from Trump. None had a prior relationship with him but all have long histories with each other.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

NRL's UAV 'Wingman' Technology Used in Air Combat Trials

The Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence (NCARAI) at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) joined forces with Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to continue work on the NRL-developed Tactical Battle Manager (TBM), a software system which uses intelligent agents to guide unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which each serve as a 'wingman' in manned/unmanned teams, in simulated beyond-visual-range (BVR) air combat missions.

The TBM streamlines cross-platform coordination of manned and unmanned air combat teams to operate in highly contested environments. It allows a human operator to manage the UAVs on a team by coordinating their objectives and goals.

In these scenarios, operators control the lead air vehicle and communicate with autonomous agents, each of which is TBM-controlled. Each agent observes its environment through its sensors and executes actions to achieve its goals. These agents employ goal reasoning techniques, which allows them to dynamically self-select mission objectives to pursue, thus ensuring competent behavior when the operator is inaccessible and unanticipated situations arise -- for example, representing challenges or opportunities.

"The main idea here is if the UAV/wingman is left to its own devices, it has the ability to recognize when or how to change its goal or objective as the mission scenario unfolds," said Dr. David W. Aha, head, Adaptive Systems Section, NCARAI. "While some systems allow users to insert new goals or pre-program the selection of new goals, goal reasoning agents can dynamically select new goals to pursue that are not pre-programmed."

NRL's team integrated the TBM with AFRL's Analytical Framework for Simulation, Integration and Modeling (AFSIM) and NAVAIR's Next Generation Threat System (NGTS). AFSIM and NGTS are high fidelity BVR mission simulators which model air, land, and surface platforms -- including weapons and subsystems -- and are used daily by pilots in virtual training and testing systems.

Aha said in initial human studies with AFSIM, in counter-air scenarios, expert pilots said they had a positive attitude for trusting the TBM's ability to control a UAV under their command.

Development of the TBM took place within the framework of the Office of the Secretary of Defense-sponsored project Autonomy for Air Combat Missions, which is one of five multi-service research projects on autonomy technology that involves NRL researchers. NRL's intelligent agent for controlling unmanned vehicles is being used by AFRL and NAVAIR in simulated BVR air combat scenarios.

Directed energy atmospheric lens could revolutionise future battlefields

Directed energy atmospheric lens could revolutionise future battlefields: Within the next fifty years, scientists at BAE Systems believe that battlefield commanders could deploy a new type of directed energy laser and lens system, called a Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens which is capable of enhancing commanders' ability to observe adversaries' activities over much greater distances than existing sensors.

At the same time, the lens could be used as a form of 'deflector shield' to protect friendly aircraft, ships, land vehicles and troops from incoming attacks by high power laser weapons that could also become a reality in the same time period.

The Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens (LDAL) concept, developed by technologists at the Company's military aircraft facility in Warton, Lancashire, has been evaluated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and specialist optical sensors company LumOptica and is based on known science.

It works by simulating naturally occurring phenomena and temporarily - and reversibly - changes the Earth's atmosphere into lens-like structures to magnify or change the path of electromagnetic waves such as light and radio signals.

US-Backed Iraqi Forces Enter Mosul Airport, Military Base | Military.com

US-Backed Iraqi Forces Enter Mosul Airport, Military Base | Military.com: Backed by the U.S.-led international coalition, Iraqi forces fought their way Thursday into a sprawling military base outside of Mosul and onto the grounds of the city's airport, taking control of the runway amid fierce exchanges of fire with Islamic State militants.

The two-pronged advance is part of a major assault that started earlier this week to drive the Islamic State group from the western half of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city

The Iraqi federal police units, backed by regular army forces, entered the airport on Thursday morning, according to two police officials who said heavy clashes were underway hours later with IS militants hunkered down inside several airport buildings.

The officials said troops from the U.S.-led coalition were with the advancing forces, though they didn't specify the nationalities of the foreign forces. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Strike on ISIS Drone Cell Highlights Airman's Novel Intel Methods | Military.com

Strike on ISIS Drone Cell Highlights Airman's Novel Intel Methods | Military.com

It all started with a small tip of intelligence.

A U.S. airman in Virginia spotted a piece of intel thousands of miles away. Ten days later, warplanes bombed 11 sites in the Middle East where American military officials say Islamic State militants manufactured deadly drones.

The operation -- detailed for the first time by Air Force officials to Military.com -- underscores a growing trend in modern warfare in which troops at their home bases are intimately involved in wars half a world away. It also highlights a new way of analyzing intelligence to find, track and kill enemies and their weapons, they say.

"Analysis is the foundation that's going to drive everything," Air Force Lt. Gen. VeraLinn "Dash" Jamieson, the service's deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said in an interview at the Pentagon on Thursday. "This [way of] thinking is not just top-down driven. It's going to be enabled bottom up."

Jamieson noted the airman -- identified only as Senior Airman Jean, assigned to Distributed Ground System-1 at Langley Air Force Base -- was able to maneuver her way through the data in large part because of her training in critical analysis and observation.

Jamieson, who assumed her post in November, said the intel career field and the service as a whole are shifting toward an analysis-based infrastructure that will enhance multiple missions across the force.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Former DoD Comptroller: Be Skeptical of Claims of Readiness Crisis | Military.com

Former DoD Comptroller: Be Skeptical of Claims of Readiness Crisis | Military.com: A former Defense Department comptroller said Tuesday the public should be skeptical of the dire warnings of a readiness crisis coming from the military this year.

Robert Hale, who served under President Barack Obama, said the services do have some shortfalls but are likely putting their "worst foot forward" in hopes of scoring funding increases under the new administration, which has proposed a major defense buildup.

The comments come after the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee recently blamed Obama administration officials for denying how thin and ill-prepared the military has become due to decreasing budgets in recent years.

Earlier this month, vice chiefs for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps came to testify on Capitol Hill, and for the third year in a row painted an increasingly grim picture of grounded aircraft, units unready to fight and personnel shortages.

"There's money available right now … This is a time when the services, if you will, want to put their worst foot forward and make clear all the problems that are there," Hale said during a forum at the Brookings Institution, a liberal-leaning think tank in Washington. "So, I think we need to be a little skeptical."

Army Races To Rebuild Short-Range Air Defense: New Lasers, Vehicles, Units « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Army Races To Rebuild Short-Range Air Defense: New Lasers, Vehicles, Units « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

As Russia and other adversaries stock up on drones, rockets, and missiles, the US Army is building up defenses to shoot them down. But that Short-Range Air Defense force has been devastated by a decade of cuts. The service’s plan to revive SHORAD involves

  • deploying to Europe about 50 more of its current Avenger systems, Humvees mounting multiple Stinger missiles;
  • developing requirements for new “Maneuver SHORAD” equipment — such as lasers mounted on armored vehicles to keep up with frontline units — for which an Initial Capabilities Document is expected out by April;
  • and ultimately quadrupling the SHORAD force — if funding can be found — to put air defenders in every Army division and combat brigade, both active-duty and National Guard.
Adding these assets would allow frontline units to maneuver independently even in the face of air attack, a key part of the emerging Multi-Domain Battle doctrine. “Our ability to defeat air and missile defense threats would be central to that Multi-Domain Battle,” said Maj. Gen. Brian McKiernan, commander of the Army Fires Center at Fort Sill, which oversees both offensive artillery and air and missile defense.

There’s a real sense of urgency, said Col. Greg Brady, head of the Fires Division on the Army staff. “Within 12 months we have got to get capability back,”said Brady, speaking along with McKiernan at a recent Association of the US Army conference. “The No. 1 priority for capacity, the shortfall for the Army, is on air and missile defense.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

So, American Mass Shooters and Islamic Terrorists Do Have Something in Common - Defense One

So, American Mass Shooters and Islamic Terrorists Do Have Something in Common - Defense One: When US president Donald Trump announced his so-called “Muslim ban” on Jan. 27, he framed it as a move to keep the country safe from terrorists. But a look at the data on terrorist attacks in the US exposes the fallacy of this logic. An immigration ban will not keep the terrorists out. The terrorists are already here.

According to a publicly available dataset from the New America Foundation, in the years since 9/11, jihadists born in the US have killed 69 victims. Right-wing extremists born in the US have murdered 50 victims. Foreign-born jihadists are the least lethal of these groups, with a total of 25 victims.

These numbers offer evidence that an immigration ban will not stop the murder of Americans. But they also point to a larger flaw in the way we talk about domestic terrorism in the US. We treat right-wing extremists and radical Islamic killers as if they are two separate issues. But in fact, research suggests that the same underlying factors cause homegrown Americans to break bad—whether they join a radical Islamic terrorism group or the Ku Klux Klan.

How McMaster Could Change the Way the US Goes to War - Defense One

How McMaster Could Change the Way the US Goes to War - Defense One: The most important thing to know about Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s new National Security Adviser, is that he’s not a fan of committing troops to action if they, or their allies, can’t hold the territory they seize — in his terms, “consolidate their gains.” His previous comments suggest that he’s skeptical of surgical special operations raids and drone strikes absent a realistic plan to change political realities on the ground.

Back in February 2015, when McMaster was the deputy commanding general of futures at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, he offered an indirect—but unmistakable—critique of the light-footprint approach to dealing with escalating conflicts in places like Iraq, the approach that the United States was taking toward the Islamic State, or ISIS.

McMaster, who had first gained fame as the tank commander in the Gulf War’s Battle of 73 Easting, then solidified his credentials as a thinking soldier with the well-received Dereliction of Duty, said that the chaos in Afghanistan and the parts of Iraq and Syria then held by ISIS was the fault of multiple parties but stemmed from a single cause: a failure to consolidate gains. Read that to mean the deployment of a substantial number of troops, enough to manage the transition of an occupied territory into a reliable U.S. ally, or at least a stable country.

US Advisers Are Fighting Alongside Iraqi Forces in Battle for Mosul | Military.com

US Advisers Are Fighting Alongside Iraqi Forces in Battle for Mosul | Military.com

U.S. military advisers are now fighting alongside Iraqi forces near the front lines against the Islamic State, a sign of President Donald Trump's willingness to grant more latitude to American commanders than they've had since Iraq's ground war against the militants was launched more than two years ago.

The Trump administration has not yet granted new authorities, but has loosened the reins for U.S. generals running the war, allowing hundreds of U.S. troops to join advancing Iraqi forces as they embark on their most complex mission to date: liberating Mosul, their second-largest city.

Allowing U.S. forces to head to the leading edge of the battle was almost unthinkable under the Obama administration, which was reluctant to be seen as putting American lives in harm's way in a foreign war.

In recent weeks, however, about 450 U.S. special forces and spotters have embedded with the Iraqis to direct airstrikes against Islamic State positions and advise Iraqi ground commanders on how best to advance on the battlefield as they move to free western Mosul, said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mattis to Decide Soon on Troop Levels in Afghanistan | Military.com

Mattis to Decide Soon on Troop Levels in Afghanistan | Military.com: U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he plans to make some decisions soon on whether to recommend an increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and whether the totals should be based on military requirements rather than preset limits.

Mattis told reporters traveling with him that he spoke for several hours by video conference on Sunday with U.S. Gen. John Nicholson, the top American commander there. Mattis said he will collect his thoughts and then send recommendations to the White House where, he said, President Donald Trump is open to his advice.

Earlier this month, Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he needs a few thousand more troops to train and advise Afghan forces.

US Lawmakers Want North Korea Added to Terrorism Blacklist | Military.com

US Lawmakers Want North Korea Added to Terrorism Blacklist | Military.com: The apparent assassination of the North Korean leader's estranged half-brother is strengthening bipartisan calls for the U.S. to place North Korea's name back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation lifted nine years ago. Doing so would increase the country's isolation, while potentially complicating any future diplomacy to halt its nuclear and missile programs.

The U.S. kept North Korea on its terrorism blacklist for two decades after the 1987 bombing of a South Korean airliner killed 115 people. But President George W. Bush lifted the designation in 2008 to smooth the way for aid-for-disarmament negotiations. The concession proved of little value as the talks collapsed soon after and have yet to resume.

Currently, the U.S. considers only Iran, Sudan and Syria as terrorism sponsors. To re-impose the designation on North Korea, the secretary of state would have to determine that it has "repeatedly" provided support for acts of international terrorism. Last June, the department said North Korea "is not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts" since the plane attack 30 years ago.

House lawmakers are pushing for a fresh review of the evidence.

Trump's Plan for Spike in Defense Spending Faces Big Hurdles | Military.com

Trump's Plan for Spike in Defense Spending Faces Big Hurdles | Military.com: Republicans control Congress, so President Donald Trump's pledge to boost the Pentagon budget by tens of billions of dollars should be a sure bet.

It's not.

Trump faces skeptical Democrats whose support he'll need and resistance from fiscal conservatives opposed to repealing a 2011 law that set firm limits on military and domestic spending. Unless the president figures out a way to mollify the disparate camps, he'll have a tough time delivering on a signature campaign promise to rescue the armed forces from a festering financial crisis.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Army Stands Up 6 Brigades to Advise Foreign Militaries | Military.com

Army Stands Up 6 Brigades to Advise Foreign Militaries | Military.com

The U.S. Army announced Thursday the creation of six new brigades designed to take on the service's growing mission of training and advising foreign militaries.

The first of six planned units known as Security Force Assistance Brigades, or SFABs, as well as the new Military Advisor Training Academy will be established at Fort Benning, Georgia, starting in October, according to an Army press release

The brigades are the service's first permanent units whose core mission is conducting security cooperation activities, allowing quick response to combatant commander requirements, the release states.

Until now, the service has been deploying combat units to train, advise and assist security forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other partner nations. The new units are designed to enhance the readiness of the Army by reducing demand for existing brigade combat teams to conduct security force assistance operations, preserving BCT readiness for full-spectrum contingency operations, according to the release.

The new units have an added benefit of serving as the framework of a brigade combat team that could rapidly expand if needed to meet future requirements, according to Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, Army chief of operations.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Take Off the Pentagon’s Gloves in the ISIS War? Not So Fast. - Defense One

Take Off the Pentagon’s Gloves in the ISIS War? Not So Fast. - Defense One

Policies intended to reduce civilian harm didn’t arise out of elite Washington think tanks or academia; they arose from the military’s own lessons learned.

There are worrying signs the United States is about to back away from its role in setting the high bar for reducing civilian casualties in conflict. That would be a horrible mistake.

President Donald Trump consistently has said he believes the U.S. has been hamstrung in the fight against Islamic terrorists by fighting a “politically correct” war. In December of 2015, he famously said, “The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families,” a tactic illegal under international law. On January 28, Trump  issued a memorandum asking for a “review of recommended changes to the rules of engagement and other policy restrictions that exceed the requirements of international law regarding the use of force” in the fight against ISIS. This should give advocates for civilian protection and anybody who has an interest in defeating ISIS reason for concern.

U.S. military leaders of the war against ISIS have reportedly hoped the new administration would get the White House and National Security Council out of the day-to-day decisions they felt were hamstringing war operations. Nonetheless, given the high risk that an increase in civilian deaths stemming from U.S. actions will be portrayed by our adversaries as a deliberate expression of the President’s stated intentions, we believe the Pentagon, which will ultimately shoulder the blame and any operational consequences of civilian casualties, should proceed with an abundance of caution. Some options for ramping up the fight against ISIS  (and possibly Al Qaeda) may be worth considering. But when it comes to protection for civilians, now is not the time to “take the gloves off” in the fight against terrorists.

The “gloves” in this case are rules and constraints on the use of lethal force by U.S. forces, expressly intended to limit civilian harm, which meet or exceed the requirements of international humanitarian law. These rules were codified at varying thresholds and levels of specificity and clarity by the Obama administration in the Presidential Policy Guidance on direct action against targets outside of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, and the Executive Order on Pre- and Post Strike Measures to Address Civilian Casualties.

There's No One At the Helm of White House Foreign Policy - Defense One

There's No One At the Helm of White House Foreign Policy - Defense One: Flynn’s departure won’t solve the Trump administration’s central dysfunction.

There are two theories of the future of President Trump’s foreign policy and the National Security Council. In one, the good ship NSC, like a Nantucket whaler of old, has had a hard shakedown cruise, but is coming to. A couple of misfits have been tossed overboard, and the captain has given up trying to run the ship. He periodically shows up on deck to shake his fist at the moon and order a summary flogging, but for the most part he stays in his cabin emitting strange barks while competent mates and petty officers sail the NSC. It’s not pretty—the ship rolls and lurches alarmingly—but it gets where it needs to go.

This could happen. Trump, overwhelmed by a leadership task far beyond his experience and personality, will focus his efforts on infrastructure projects and the like, and quietly concede the direction of foreign policy to his sober secretaries of state and defense, with a retired general or admiral to reassemble something like an orderly White House process. He is erratic but not stupid: he knows he is in over his head, hates the bad publicity his first few weeks bought him, and has family members nudging him in this direction.

Unfortunately, another possibility is more likely: The ship is in serious trouble.

Trump’s Empty ‘Ultimatum’ to NATO - Defense One

Trump’s Empty ‘Ultimatum’ to NATO - Defense One: Defense Secretary Mattis just called for Europe to increase defense spending or else...what exactly?

President Donald Trump’s “ultimatum” to NATO is, at best, as clear as mud and, at worst, an empty threat that will harm U.S. security interests. It’s a vague call for European member nations to increase their individual defense spending, which is the same thing four previous defense secretaries under President Barack Obama said every time they traveled to Europe for this thrice-a-year meeting of national security heads.

In Trump’s message, delivered by Jim Mattis during his first trip to Brussels as defense secretary, is a threat: pay up, or else. But what else, exactly? All Mattis said is that if European members states don’t do more, America will “moderate its commitment to the alliance.”

So: Washington thinks Europe isn’t taking the threat to NATO seriously enough. It says pay up and do more. If not, Washington threatens to defend the rest of NATO less? How does that make America safer, again?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

U.S. warns NATO - increase spending or we might 'moderate' support | Reuters

U.S. warns NATO - increase spending or we might 'moderate' support | Reuters: U.S. President Donald Trump's defense secretary warned NATO allies on Wednesday that they must honor military spending pledges to ensure the United States does not "moderate" support for the alliance.

Jim Mattis, on his debut trip to Brussels as Pentagon chief, also accused some NATO members of ignoring threats, including from Russia.

"America cannot care more for your children's future security than you do," Mattis said in a closed-door session with NATO defense ministers, according to prepared remarks provided to reporters.

Federica Mogherini: Europe will have ‘new relationship’ with US – POLITICO

Federica Mogherini: Europe will have ‘new relationship’ with US – POLITICO: Political conflict in the U.S. is a threat to stability worldwide, Europe’s foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini warned on the back of her first meeting with Donald Trump’s administration.

“I have never seen the U.S. so polarized, so divided and so ridden with conflict,” Mogherini told Die Welt in an interview published Wednesday, referring to her mid-February trip to Washington, D.C. “When the largest democracy in the world shows these kinds of tensions, that can be a destabilizing factor for the rest of the world.”

Mogherini met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and then national security adviser Michael Flynn, who has since resigned after revelations he was in contact with the Kremlin during Trump’s campaign.

There will be an increasing number of issues on which Europe and the U.S. take different positions but, she said, “this is no drama.”

NATO to stress ‘fair burden-sharing’ in Mattis visit – POLITICO

NATO to stress ‘fair burden-sharing’ in Mattis visit – POLITICO: NATO allies are ready to show the color of their money to the first emissaries of Donald Trump’s administration at a ministerial meeting in Brussels this week.

Ahead of the arrival in Brussels on Wednesday of Defense Secretary James Mattis, the first senior member of the new U.S. government to visit Europe, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said defense ministers would focus on “fair burden-sharing.”

During the election campaign, Trump rattled NATO by describing the military alliance as “obsolete” and complaining that some member countries were not bearing their share of the finances. More recently, the president has toned down his criticism but he continues to beat the drum on costs.

“We strongly support NATO, we only ask that all NATO members make their full and proper financial contribution to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing,” Trump said during a visit to the U.S. Central Command headquarters in Florida earlier this month.

Stoltenberg insisted at a news conference Tuesday that military spending by NATO allies was already on the increase and he provided new data for 2016 showing an aggregate rise in spending of $10 billion. Still, the overwhelming majority of NATO countries fall short of the stated goal of spending 2 percent of their annual GDP on defense.

Textron announces successful test of G-CLAW missile

Textron announces successful test of G-CLAW missile: Textron Systems' G-CLAW precision-guided glide missile successfully tracked and engaged targets during a recent flight test, the manufacturer announced.

The weapon was tested at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona in October 2016. Textron says G-CLAW was able to engage static and moving targets within 1 meter circular error probable, and verified the weapon's lethality.

"We are pleased with the test results and development progress of the G-CLAW precision guided weapon system," Textron's Brian Sinkiewicz said in a press release.

The G-CLAW comprises a 50-pound glide munition and a 20-pound warhead, and is designed for anti-personnel and anti-materiel strikes. The missile is also equipped with a GPS-aided Inertial Navigation System and Semi-Active Laser precision guidance. It is compatible with the Common Launch Tube.

U.S. Marines test 'Instant Eye' mini drone

U.S. Marines test 'Instant Eye' mini drone: Marines in Camp Lejune, N.C., recently completed training using the Instant Eye, a new hand-held unmanned aircraft designed to support reconnaissance missions.

The Instant Eye is made by PSI Tactical, and is capable of taking off and landing at 90-degree angles. Many other unmanned aerial vehicles require either a runway or throwing for launch. According to the U.S. Marine Corps, the device is ideal for reconnaissance operations in heavily clustered areas.

"We can send this thing ahead and it can look for us," Cpl. Isaac Brown explained in a press release. "We don't have to send Marines not knowing what's on the other side of any obstacle."

In addition to its maneuverability, testers also praised the Instant Eye for its stealth capabilities. The hand-held aircraft is fitted with rotary wings, allowing it to move through tight spaces such as walls or buildings.

SpecOps Commander: 60,000 ISIS Fighters Killed by US Troops | Military.com

SpecOps Commander: 60,000 ISIS Fighters Killed by US Troops | Military.com: To date, U.S. coalition military efforts have resulted in the deaths of more than 60,000 Islamic State militants over the course of a two-year campaign, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command said Tuesday.

That figure is 10,000 troops higher than was reported in December, when U.S. officials said 50,000 of the extremist fighters had been killed. Speaking at the National Defense Industrial Association's annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict conference near Washington, D.C., Army Gen. Raymond Thomas said that figure should signal to Americans how successful the fight has been.

"I'm not into morbid body counts, but that matters," Thomas said. "So when folks ask, do you need more aggressive [measures], do you need better [rules of engagement], I would tell you that we're being pretty darn prolific right now."

What makes the number of militants killed difficult to put into context is the wide variance between estimates of how many Islamic State fighters there are to begin with. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated in 2014 that there were 100,000 ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, while the Pentagon announced last summer that there were only 15,000 to 20,000 militants remaining in those countries.

Thomas pointed to major military gains on ISIS strongholds, including U.S. and partners "on the verge" of toppling the capital of the group's caliphate in Raqqa, Syria, and advances in efforts to take back Mosul, Iraq. Some 1,500 ISIS fighters were killed when coalition forces claimed a recent victory in Sirte, Libya, he said.

With these gains, he said, the military has the opportunity to "reset the country's awareness for the nature of the fight."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

US Air Force: Removal of F-35 pilot weight restrictions eyed for April

US Air Force: Removal of F-35 pilot weight restrictions eyed for April: The Air Force could be ready to remove restrictions on lightweight F-35 pilots as early as April, following fixes to the aircraft’s ejection seat and helmet.

But Martin-Baker’s US16E ejection seat is not completely in the clear yet. Even if the newly modified pilot-escape system meets requirements, the service may still press ahead with certifying a second ejection seat as a bulwark against potential risks in the future, said Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, who heads the Air Force’s F-35 integration office.

In 2015, the Air Force discovered that F-35 pilots who weigh less than 136 pounds were at high risk of severe or potentially fatal neck injuries upon being ejected from the aircraft. The service then restricted all pilots below that weight from flying the F-35 while Martin-Baker, which produces the US16E ejection seat found in all variants, and Rockwell Collins, which manufactures the helmet, adjusted their products.

Now, testing of the modified escape system is mostly complete, and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) has provided that data to the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, which functions as the service’s airworthiness authority, Pleus told Defense News during a Feb. 10 interview.

Fort Bragg Soldiers Return Home After Secretive Africa Mission | Military.com

Fort Bragg Soldiers Return Home After Secretive Africa Mission | Military.com: More than 80 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division quietly deployed in late September.

Unlike most missions undertaken by conventional Army forces, this one came with nearly no fanfare. There was no announcement the troops would be leaving. And officials on Fort Bragg, as well as families of the soldiers, were instructed to keep the mission quiet.

Deploying on little notice, the soldiers -- with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade -- briefly trained at Fort Bragg and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point before leaving for Africa to support Combined Joint Task Force -- Horn of Africa.

Over the weekend the soldiers returned to Fort Bragg, welcomed by family and friends at Green Ramp, and broke their silence.

For the past five months, the detachment of 85 soldiers provided aviation, personnel recovery and casualty evacuation capabilities to the Combined Joint Task Force -- Horn of Africa mission, which spans an area roughly the size of the eastern United States.

Comprised of soldiers from F Company, 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion and B Company, 3rd General Aviation Support Battalion, the detachment included the Army's last pathfinder unit and crews that fly and serve with the 82nd Airborne Division's CH-47 Chinook helicopter company.

The mission ends an era for the pathfinders of F Company -- representing the last time the unit was called to action before its inactivation later this month.

Trump Moves Spark Iraqi Anger, Calls Against Future Alliance | Military.com

Trump Moves Spark Iraqi Anger, Calls Against Future Alliance | Military.com: Iraqi and U.S. officials have said maintaining security in a post-IS Iraq will be just as difficult — preventing a resurgence of the militants and containing political divisions among Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Both countries have talked of keeping some U.S. troops long term to back Iraq's security forces in that task, a recognition that complete American withdrawal at the end of 2011 was a mistake.

Now the Iraqi leader is coming under pressure. Lawmakers are demanding he reduce cooperation with Washington in the future, limit or prevent American troops from staying in the country after the defeat of IS, and reciprocate for any travel ban on Iraqis. Members of powerful Shiite militias have outright warned of retaliation against Americans if the U.S. carries out any military action against Iran, their patron.

"Trump embarrassed al-Abadi," said Saad al-Mutalabi, a lawmaker and long-time ally of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, one of al-Abadi's most powerful political opponents.

"There will be a general consensus that Americans should not stay in Iraq after Mosul, after the statements and the executive order from Trump," he said. "We believed that we had a strategic agreement with the U.S."

"We are fighting ISIS on behalf of the entire world," he added, using an alternative acronym for IS. "This has been a severe, severe disappointment among all Iraqis."

Publicly, al-Abadi has maintained measured tones. While he called Trump's ban an "insult," he refused to enact a reciprocity measure despite a strong call from Parliament to do so.

Russian Lawmakers Mount Fierce Defense of Flynn | Military.com

Russian Lawmakers Mount Fierce Defense of Flynn | Military.com: Russian lawmakers on Tuesday mounted a fierce defense of U.S. President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, who resigned following reports that he misled White House officials about his contacts with Russia.

Michael Flynn resigned Monday night, conceding that he gave "incomplete information" about his calls with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Flynn was in frequent contact with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the day the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Russia after U.S. intelligence reported that Russia had interfered with the U.S. elections. The Kremlin has confirmed that Flynn has been in contact with Kislyak but denied that they talked about lifting sanctions.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, said in a post on Facebook that firing a national security adviser for his contacts with Russia is "not just paranoia but something even worse."

Kosachev also expressed frustration with the Trump administration.

"Either Trump hasn't found the necessary independence and he's been driven into a corner... or Russophobia has permeated the new administration from top to bottom."

Monday, February 13, 2017

Orbital ATK to complete development of new tank ammo

Orbital ATK to complete development of new tank ammo: Orbital ATK is to complete development of the next-generation 120mm multipurpose round for Abrams tanks.

The 30-month development and qualification deliverable award from the U.S. Army is worth $45 million. It includes three options for initial and full-rate production that could bring the total contract value to $119 million.

U.S. Army awards $3 billion in missile defense contracts

U.S. Army awards $3 billion in missile defense contracts: Eight defense contractors have been selected to share a $3 billion contract to develop new missile defense solutions for the U.S. Army.

The award's recipients include BAE Systems, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Dynetics, QWK Integrated Solutions, Teledyne Brown Engineering, KBRwyle Technology Solutions and Science Applications International Corporation.

Under the agreement, the companies will perform design, development, demonstration and integration services for the Domain 1 - Space/High Altitude and Missile Defense Program. The effort aims to facilitate research on appropriate hardware and software components to bolster U.S. missile defenses.

Army Aviation Brigade Deploys to Afghanistan Minus Mechanics | Military.com

Army Aviation Brigade Deploys to Afghanistan Minus Mechanics | Military.com: The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan said Thursday that an Army aviation brigade deployed to Afghanistan last year without its mechanics because of the 8,400-troop ceiling on U.S. forces.

Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and NATO's Resolute Support mission, said he had to hire contractors at greater expense to taxpayers to make up for each soldier mechanic that the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, had to leave behind.

"We left their mechanics back in Fort Riley and substituted contract mechanics" to work on the brigade's AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk, and CH-47 Chinook helicopters, Nicholson said in response to questions from Sen. Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the progress of the Afghan war.

Nicholson said the military had to hire two contractors for every soldier mechanic left behind to keep the brigade flying. The troop ceiling also resulted in the Fort Riley mechanics "not having an opportunity to do their jobs."

Mattis Headed to Europe Next Week for Talks on ISIS Campaign | Military.com

Mattis Headed to Europe Next Week for Talks on ISIS Campaign | Military.com

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is headed to NATO headquarters in Brussels next week for talks with allies on speeding up the campaign against ISIS and boosting troop strength in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Friday.

Earlier Friday, Mattis met with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, whose support will be crucial at the NATO talks. Von der Leyen's closed talks with Mattis followed on the meeting last week of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel with new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Germany has sought assurances of continued U.S. support for NATO following remarks by President Dgermnonald Trump that the alliance is "obsolete," and his ongoing complaints about NATO members not paying their fair share for defense.

Despite Trump's remarks, Mattis has been upfront in stating that the U.S. commitment to NATO is solid and enduring to counter Russia and ease the concerns of the Baltic states and Poland on threats emanating from Moscow.

Mattis is scheduled to leave Tuesday for Brussels on what will be his second foreign trip since succeeding Ashton Carter as defense secretary.

Later in the week, Mattis will attend the Munich Security Conference, an annual event that bills itself as "a major global forum for the discussion of security policy." Vice President Mike Pence and a congressional delegation are expected to join Mattis in Munich.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Senate Republicans ask Trump to arm Ukrainians, maintain Russia sanctions | Washington Examiner

Senate Republicans ask Trump to arm Ukrainians, maintain Russia sanctions | Washington Examiner: President Trump faces additional pressure not to reset relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as a growing number of Senate Republicans are asking him not to lift sanctions on Putin's government.

"We write to ask you to pursue a results-oriented, but tough-minded and principled policy toward the Russian Federation," Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and six other Republican senators wrote in a Thursday letter to the White House. "[W]hile we should seek common ground with Russia in the areas of mutual interest, we must never pursue cooperation with Russia at the expense of our fundamental interests of defending our allies and promoting our values."

That letter asks Trump to maintain the sanctions imposed on Russia over the annexation of Crimea and attack on eastern Ukraine. "Furthermore, we ask you to expedite the provision of defensive lethal weapons to Ukraine, and we were encouraged that Secretary of State Tillerson supported this position during his confirmation hearing," they wrote.

U.S. Marines set to receive new ultra-light Utility Task Vehicles - UPI.com

U.S. Marines set to receive new ultra-light Utility Task Vehicles - UPI.com: The U.S. Marine Corps will soon supply its infantry units with new ultra-light Utility Task Vehicles to support logistics maneuvers on the battlefield.

The Utility Task Vehicle, or UTV, is equipped with minimal armor to allow infantry to carry more ammunition, equipment, provisions or injured personnel. The branch ordered 144 of the units, and is expecting delivery later in February.

The new vehicle is approximately 12 feet long, and can carry up to four Marines or roughly 1,500 pounds of supplies. It can also fit inside legacy Marine Corps aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey or the CH-53 helicopter.

Army wants electronic-warfare capability for Gray Eagle drone

Army wants electronic-warfare capability for Gray Eagle drone: The Army is looking for an electronic-warfare system that can be integrated onto a Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system, according to a request for information released this week.

The release of the RFI is the first signal the Army is moving out on its second phase in a plan to develop a complete Integrated Electronic Warfare System. It will have three parts: The Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare capability and the Defensive Electronic Attack capability.

The MFEW system will provide the ability to detect signals and to jam them if necessary. The capability will be housed on a large and small unmanned aircraft and later a rotary-wing aircraft. The capability will also reside in a large and small ground vehicle, at fixed sites and as a wearable device for the dismounted solider.

The plan for the MFEW large air version is to reach initial operational capability in 2023, but Army electronic warfare leadership have pushed for a faster fielding of the capability as Russia exhibits strong electronic warfare tactics. The Russians’ capability has been well-highlighted in the war in Ukraine.

Top commander: Russia 'legitimizing' Taliban to undermine US, NATO | TheHill

Top commander: Russia 'legitimizing' Taliban to undermine US, NATO | TheHill: Russia is trying to legitimize the Taliban in order to undermine the United States and NATO, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan said Thursday.

“The Russian involvement this year has become more difficult,” Gen. John Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “First, they have begun to publicly legitimize the Taliban. This narrative that they promote is that the Taliban are fighting Islamic State and the Afghan government is not fighting Islamic State and that, therefore, there could be spillover of this group into the region. This is a false narrative.”

“I believe its intent is to undermine the United States and NATO,” he later added.

Nicholson was testifying about the current situation in Afghanistan, which he called a stalemate that he needs a few thousand more troops to break.

Among the challenges in the country are the actions of external actors such as Pakistan, Iran and Russia, Nicholson said.

He said Russia's meddling in Afghanistan started in 2016 and continues to increase.

In addition to spreading a narrative that the Taliban is fighting the Afghan branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Russia has also organized a series of meetings to discuss the future of Afghanistan without inviting the Afghan government, Nicholson said.

Service Leaders Divided on Closing Bases to Cut Costs | Military.com

Service Leaders Divided on Closing Bases to Cut Costs | Military.com: The Army is adamant: It needs to close bases to save money, and it needs to do it now. The Air Force may also be open to the idea, but other services are not so sure.

Before the Senate Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on readiness Wednesday, the vice chiefs of the military services made well-worn cases to lawmakers for more money and an end to sequestration budget caps that they say have cut into maintenance and efforts to modernize the military.

And a round of base closure and realignment, or BRAC, may provide a solution for some.

Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, asked the officers to provide their perspective on BRAC, warning at the same time that he firmly opposed such a measure.

"I've been through every BRAC round, [six] of them. And without exception, every BRAC round in the first three years costs money," Inhofe said. "If there's ever a time in the history of our military that we can't afford to dilute those dollars … we need to resolve the problems that have been talked about today."

Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff for the Army, nonetheless maintained the service's position that it needed a BRAC round, and soon.

Corps Wants 12K More Marines to Boost Cyber, Info Ops, ISR | Military.com

Corps Wants 12K More Marines to Boost Cyber, Info Ops, ISR | Military.com

The Marine Corps just completed a multi-year drawdown process beginning in 2011 to bring it from a peak force strength of 202,000 during the troop surge in Afghanistan to the current 182,000 end strength, cutting infantry battalions and support elements. Amid sequestration cuts and budget austerity, some leaders warned the service might be forced to draw down as low as 175,000.

Now, with the prospect of funding to grow the force, Walters said specialized communities and capabilities would get attention first.

"Cyber, information operations, [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance], counter-UAS, and long-range fires," he told Military.com in an interview after the hearing. "So these are the capabilities we're trying to buy that we lack right now."

The Corps, he said, is building what he called the MEF information group, a Marine Expeditionary Force element that would incorporate all these capabilities. This development comes as the service also adds a new three-star general position, a deputy commandant for information environment operations, to serve as an advocate to leadership for these roles.

"The way we're going to fight in the future and the way the enemy's going to fight in the future, we have to push those [capabilities] down to the lower echelons," Walters said.

Of the 12,000 troops the Corps hopes to add, the only Marines in traditional ground combat positions will be artillery troops adding long-range fires capabilities, including the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, Walters said. While other Marines in the prospective plus-up might serve in infantry units, they won't be riflemen, he said.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Two Months to Stop Pandemic X from Taking Hold

Two Months to Stop Pandemic X from Taking Hold: Over the past several years, DARPA-funded researchers have pioneered RNA vaccine technology, a medical countermeasure against infectious diseases that uses coded genetic constructs to stimulate production of viral proteins in the body, which in turn can trigger a protective antibody response.

As a follow-on effort, DARPA funded research into genetic constructs that can directly stimulate production of antibodies in the body.1,2 DARPA is now launching the Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program, aimed at developing that foundational work into an entire system capable of halting the spread of any viral disease outbreak before it can escalate to pandemic status.

Such a capability would offer a stark contrast to the state of the art for developing and deploying traditional vaccines-a process that does not deliver treatments to patients until months, years, or even decades after a viral threat emerges.

"DARPA's goal is to create a technology platform that can place a protective treatment into health providers' hands within 60 days of a pathogen being identified, and have that treatment induce protection in patients within three days of administration. We need to be able to move at this speed considering how quickly outbreaks can get out of control," said Matt Hepburn, the P3 Program Manager. "The technology needs to work on any viral disease, whether it's one humans have faced before or not."

Last Port Of Call For The US Merchant Marine?

Last Port Of Call For The US Merchant Marine?

The privately owned U.S.-flag foreign trading fleet, which is an essential component of U.S. sealift capability, stands on the edge of a precipice. The fleet – roughly stable in terms of cargo carrying capacity from 2000 to 2012 – has declined from 106 vessels in 2012 to 78 vessels at October 30, 2016 primarily because of a substantial decline in available U.S. Government-reserved cargo. The size of the fleet has reached a point where the viability of the U.S.-flag industry involved in foreign trade – including its trained mariners, maritime academies and schools, and experienced back office personnel – is in danger of disappearing. As the cargo decline is not likely to be reversed any time soon, the fleet will likely only survive into the future if there is a substantial, renewed national commitment to sustain it.

This alarm bell has been rung before. In fact, it has been wrung over and over ever since the foreign trading fleet began to decline at about the time of the Civil War. For example, the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings published an article in 1882 by Lt. Cmdr. F.E. Chadwick, USN, entitled “Our Merchant Marine: The Causes of Its Decline, And the Means to Be Taken For Its Revival.” Scientific American devoted its entire July 15, 1911 issue to the question “Shall We Have a Merchant Marine?” (answered by all the authors including the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor in the affirmative). Prof. Andrew E. Gibson, of the Naval War College and the former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Maritime Affairs in the Nixon Administration, wrung the alarm bell on numerous occasions including “So Long, American Flag – It Was So Nice to Fly You” in the Naval War College Review in 1993. These are but a small sample of the pleas for help. 
Dire State of the Fleet
What is different today is that the foreign trading U.S.-flag fleet has shrunk to the point that any further substantial decline is likely to make the situation irretrievable. As Vice Admiral William A. Brown, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, testified before Congress on July 30, 2014: “we are concerned that we may be coming closer to a tipping point where our ability to man some of the surge fleet would be at risk ....” At that point in time, the U.S.-flag foreign trading fleet was 83 vessels – it declined another five vessels by the end of October 2016. When Prof. Gibson wrote that we were saying goodbye to the U.S.-flag flying on vessels in foreign trade there were 176 such vessels. 
Capt. Paul N. Jaenichen, Sr., USN (retired), the outgoing U.S. Maritime Administrator, has testified before Congress on several occasions to the effect that the fleet decline is endangering the U.S. ability to meet its sealift requirements. For example, he stated in a Congressional hearing on November 17, 2015 that we are already “on the very hairy edge” of lacking the manpower to man reserve defense sealift vessels (which only have partial crews until activation).
What is particularly alarming is that it is not at all clear that the manpower pool can be readily redirected from existing commercial employment to manning reserve vessels. There are a number of historical examples when the pool size appeared more than adequate but it was still difficult to draw on the pool in an emergency sufficient to meet all vessel activation needs. For example, personnel shortages caused delays in about 40 percent of scheduled sailings during the Korean War when the manpower pool reserve was substantial. In 1990, when the privately owned fleet was much larger than it is today, putting half the reserve fleet in operation exhausted the supply of mariners. The existing pool is also likely to be negatively impacted by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1987 (STCW) which imposes new, stringent marine credentialing requirements effective January 1, 2017.