Friday, February 17, 2017

Army Stands Up 6 Brigades to Advise Foreign Militaries |

Army Stands Up 6 Brigades to Advise Foreign Militaries |

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 |

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

Fort Bragg Soldiers Return Home After Secretive Africa Mission | 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 |

Trump Moves Spark Iraqi Anger, Calls Against Future Alliance | 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 |

Russian Lawmakers Mount Fierce Defense of Flynn | 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 |

Army Aviation Brigade Deploys to Afghanistan Minus Mechanics | 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 |

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

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 -

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

Service Leaders Divided on Closing Bases to Cut Costs | 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 |

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

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 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.

Trump's nuclear options: Upcoming review casts a wide net

Trump's nuclear options: Upcoming review casts a wide net: On Dec. 22, just weeks from taking office, then President-elect Donald Trump shook the military and nuclear communities by tweeting out that the U.S. "must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes."

It was a stunning statement, as the push to limit expansion of atomic arms has been a cornerstone of American policy since the height of the Cold War. But Trump doubled down the next day.

"Let it be an arms race,” the president said, according to Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”

Now, having ordered a new review of America's nuclear arsenal, the world is watching to see how Trump will follow through on those comments.

Unmanned warfare office eliminated in US Navy shuffle

Unmanned warfare office eliminated in US Navy shuffle: A U.S. Navy office set up less than two years ago to oversee the warfare development of unmanned systems has been eliminated, the Navy said Wednesday.

The Office of Unmanned Warfare Systems — coded N99 in the Navy’s system of identifying offices reporting directly to the chief of naval operations, collectively known as OPNAV — is being broken up and its functions distributed to other offices, Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of naval operations, told service leaders in a Feb. 8 message.

The reorganization, said Lt. Jackie Pau, a Navy spokesperson at the Pentagon, “is the next step in the Navy's ongoing process to mainstream the complementary warfighting effects of manned and unmanned warfare systems.”

The move, Moran said in the message, was done “with the goal of creating a leaner, more agile organization.”

The N99 office was established in mid-2015 as part of an initiative by then-Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to place unmanned warfare on a par with other OPNAV warfare divisions.

Top Marine Corps aviator wants F-35Bs faster than planned

Top Marine Corps aviator wants F-35Bs faster than planned: The Marine Corps’ top aviator is hungry for more F-35Bs, telling reporters on Wednesday that he would like to see the service’s buy rate increase to 37 jets per year.

That would almost double the planned rate of F-35B procurement over the next few years, which is projected to sit at 20 aircraft per year from fiscal years 2018 to 2021.

"We have the infrastructure in place,” said Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy commandant for aviation. "Bottom line is we've had a very anemic ramp, so we've been holding onto the older airplanes longer. If asked by the American people to get the airplanes faster, I guarantee we'd put them into play very, very quickly.

“We'd transition squadrons faster is what we'd do,” he said, adding that if the service were allowed to purchase 37 B-variants a year, it would be able to retire its legacy F/A-18 Hornet and Harrier planes by 2026.

The Marine Corps currently owns about 50 F-35Bs in test, training and operations squadrons, and is gradually making the shift from Hornets and Harriers to F-35s, Davis said.

Army Builds Cyber Combat Teams, Studies Recruitment Pilot |

Army Builds Cyber Combat Teams, Studies Recruitment Pilot | In an effort to strengthen its cyberwarfare prowess, the U.S. Army is deploying teams of specially trained soldiers to launch cyberattacks on Islamic State extremists, as well as embarking on an effort to recruit cyber experts from the civilian world.

Since 2010, Army cyber experts have been standing up new commands, developing training programs and forming a cyber mission force to help combat units survive the cyber battlefield.

The Army has a requirement to field 41 teams in the cyber mission force for U.S. Cyber Command. Currently, the service has 30 fully operational teams and is scheduled to meet the requirement before the fiscal 2018 deadline, Brig. Gen. Patricia Frost, director of Army Cyber Directorate G3/5/7, told a group of defense reporters Wednesday at the Pentagon.

"We believe that it will happen by the end of 2017, which will be early," Frost said.

European Command Regional Operations Directorate

European Command (EUCOM) Regional Operations (RO) is a directorate within the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command (USASAC) at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, that manages $18 billion in Foreign Military Sales (FMS) cases and security assistance programs with 51 nations and nine international organizations throughout Europe. The EUCOM RO Directorate's emphasis on building partner capacity and supporting combatant command (COCOM) engagement strategies further strengthens regional partnerships across Europe.

What is the Army doing?

USASAC is part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which is funded by the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act to counter Russia's attempted annexation and occupation of Crimea and continued aggression by combined Russian-separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. USASAC has delivered more than $600 million in training, equipment, supplies and services to help Ukraine:
Build their combat capability.
Preserve their sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russian and Russian-backed separatist aggression.
Support agreed-to ceasefire agreements.

These provisions have included counter-artillery radars; unmanned aerial surveillance systems; communication, medical and personal protection equipment; and sustainment materiel and services.

EUCOM RO Directorate continues to support COCOM priorities, Global Peace Operations Initiative, Global Train and Equip, Counter-Terrorism Partnership Fund, Global Security Contingency Fund and European Reassurance Initiative to build and enhance partnership capacities throughout the European theater. The directorate delivered major defense equipment in 12 countries as part of 34 FMS cases valued at $460.6 million in fiscal year 2016. These cases have helped weaken terrorist operations and increase regional security throughout the globe.

What continued efforts are planned for the future?

The EUCOM RO Directorate is working with EUCOM headquarters on a Rotary Wing Initiative to enhance the rotary wing capabilities of 11 countries and transition foreign partners from legacy Russian equipment to U.S. equipment, increasing joint interoperability. The focus of Department of Defense efforts is to work with, by, and through European governments to build the necessary military capability to defend its borders and support NATO.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Army's More Lethal M1A2 SEP v4 Abrams Tank Variant Will Start Testing in the 2020s - Warrior - Scout

The Army's More Lethal M1A2 SEP v4 Abrams Tank Variant Will Start Testing in the 2020s - Warrior - Scout: The Army is now engineering a far-superior M1A2 SEP v4 Abrams tank variant for the 2020s and beyond --designed to be more lethal, faster, lighter weight, better protected, equipped with new sensors and armed with upgraded, more effective weapons, service officials said.

Advanced networking technology with next-generation sights, sensors, targeting systems and digital networking technology -- are all key elements of an ongoing upgrade to position the platform to successfully engage in combat against rapidly emerging threats, such as the prospect of confronting a Russian T-14 Armata or Chinese 3rd generation Type 99 tank.

The SEP v4 variant, slated to being testing in 2021, will include new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, integrated on-board networks, new slip-rings, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links, laser warning receivers and a far more lethal, multi-purpose 120mm tank round, Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer, Ground Combat Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

While Army officials explain that many of the details of the next-gen systems for the future tanks are not available for security reasons, Basset did explain that the lethality upgrade, referred to as an Engineering Change Proposal, or ECP, is centered around the integration of a higher-tech 3rd generation FLIR – Forward Looking Infrared imaging sensor.

Army combines sensors in attempt to fly blind

Army combines sensors in attempt to fly blind: The Army is experimenting with combinations of sophisticated sensors in an effort to make it safer for pilots to fly in a degraded visual environment, or DVE.

The service has been pursuing DVE mitigation for about a decade. Successful ground sensor tests in 2015, followed by flight testing this fall, suggest the Army may be closing in on a solution.

Smoke and sand, snow and rain, fog and darkness: Any of these can obscure a pilot’s vision, making it difficult to fly and eroding the tactical edge. DVEs “have been the cause of a significant number of Army aviation accidents in the last decade,” Army officials told a House subcommittee on tactical air and land forces in March 2016.

DVE have been the cause of 24 percent of aircraft crashes and 44 percent of aviation fatalities since combat operations began in 2002, according to officials from Sierra Nevada Corporation. That company has been addressing the problem with the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center's Aviation Development Directorate.

US Army strategy to acquire Patriot radar replacement expected soon

US Army strategy to acquire Patriot radar replacement expected soon: The Army is nearing completion of an acquisition strategy to achieve a 360-degree threat detection capability for its future Integrated Air-and-Missile Defense system, according to the deputy program executive officer for Army Missiles and Space.

The service has long wrestled with when and how it will replace its current air-and-missile defense system — Raytheon’s Patriot — first fielded in 1982. And, at one point, planned to procure the Lockheed Martin-made Medium Extended Air Defense System as the chosen replacement. But the Army canceled its plans to acquire the system.

The Army’s request for information released in July 2016 revealed it was still trying to figure out a way forward, at least when it comes to the radar that would detect incoming threats as part of the future integrated system. The RFI indicates the Army has yet to decide whether it would procure a new radar or upgrade the current Patriot radar.

That decision is around the corner, Col. Rob Rasch told Defense News at an Association of the United States Army event on missile defense in Arlington, Virginia

US military leaders depict shortfalls ahead of likely spending bonanza

US military leaders depict shortfalls ahead of likely spending bonanza: Military leaders warned US lawmakers Tuesday that aging equipment, underfunding and understaffing have left the Pentagon critically unprepared, as the Republican-led Congress hopes to usher in a spending bonanza under President Donald Trump.

The president has repeatedly said the vast US military is suffering from massive shortages and has vowed a "great rebuilding" of the armed services.

Many officials worry that budget caps, known as sequestration, implemented under Barack Obama, have left the military depleted and lacking the readiness to deal with the full array of potential global threats.

The US military is already by far the world's most powerful and most expensive -- with bases spanning the globe, an annual budget of more than $600 billion and about 1.3 million active-duty troops.

Republicans are keen to spend billions more, though it is not clear where the extra cash would come from, especially if the Trump administration cuts taxes.

Stavatti enters T-X competition with Javelin

Stavatti enters T-X competition with Javelin: Aerospace manufacturer Stavatti entered a modified version of its Javelin plane into the U.S. Air Force's T-X trainer competition.

The Javelin is a twin-engine aircraft initially built as a civilian sportplane, but has since been configured as a very light fighter and a military jet trainer. The plane submitted into the T-X contest features more powerful engines, an increased internal fuel capacity and other enhancements.

The U.S. Air Force's T-X program is an effort to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon currently used to train pilots. The legacy jet has been in service with the branch since the 1960s. To replace the T-38, the Air Force is seeking a fast two-seat jet to fulfill the role.

Stavatti entered the Javelin into the contest after major industry teams pulled out of the program.

Philippines: US Military Can Build Barracks in Local Camps |

Philippines: US Military Can Build Barracks in Local Camps | Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has given the go-ahead for the U.S. military to build barracks and fuel depots in designated local camps where American forces are allowed to temporarily station under a 2014 defense pact, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday.

Duterte last month threatened to abrogate the agreement if the United States stores weapons in local camps, saying his country may get entangled if fighting erupts between China and the U.S. He identified three areas where U.S. forces were supposedly bringing in their armaments, including the western Philippine province of Palawan, which faces the disputed South China Sea.

He had said if the U.S. builds an arms depot "I will consider a review and maybe ultimately abrogate" the pact all together.

"I don't know where the president got his information but I corrected it," Lorenzana told reporters Tuesday. He said he also told Duterte that construction in the camps has not started and was scheduled later this year or next year.

Afghanistan Requests US Air Support for Combat Operations |

Afghanistan Requests US Air Support for Combat Operations | Afghanistan's national security adviser is appealing to the U.S. to provide aircraft to back ground operations in the country until Afghan security forces can do the job alone.

Mohammed Hanif Atmar told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday that "we will need a kind of filling-the-gap measure from the United States."

Atmar said "it will take us time" to develop close air support capabilities but didn't indicate how long. He said Afghanistan doesn't need more troops.

Afghanistan War Getting Little Notice from Trump White House |

Afghanistan War Getting Little Notice from Trump White House | Afghanistan, America's longest military fight, is getting little attention so far from the Trump administration despite the protracted struggle to rein in the Taliban and battle a stubborn Islamic State affiliate there.

The conflict, now in its 16th year, got only a peripheral mention during President Donald Trump's visit Monday to U.S. Central Command, which oversees the conflicts in the Middle East. And there's little discussion of a revamped policy to beef up the Afghan security forces as they work to make their country secure.

America, Trump said in Tampa, expresses its gratitude to "everyone serving overseas, including our military personnel in Afghanistan." That was it for a conflict that includes about 8,400 U.S. troops conducting counterterrorism operations against insurgents, and training and advising Afghanistan's military.

The contrast with the U.S. effort to defeat IS in Iraq and Syria has been striking. While Trump has given the Pentagon 30 days to come up with a new plan to defeat the self-described caliphate, there has been no similar order for Afghanistan. It's unclear if the White House simply wants to maintain Obama administration policies to bolster Afghan forces and keep some U.S. troops in the country for counterterror missions.

A-10's Earliest Retirement Reset to 2021: General |

A-10's Earliest Retirement Reset to 2021: General | The Air Force has reset the date for the earliest possible retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II to 2021, the service's top general said Tuesday.

"Then we're going to have a dialogue within the department of what the long-term plan is," Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told reporters during a breakfast in Washington, D.C. "As a mission, we're fully committed to close-air support."

Last year, then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced the aircraft's retirement would be delayed until 2022 after officials opined the Air Force was ridding the U.S. military of a "valuable and effective" close-air-support aircraft.

However, fiscal 2017 budget documents revealed the service still hoped to remove A-10 squadrons in increments between 2018 and 2022 in order to make room for F-35A Lightning II squadrons coming online.

"We're going to keep them through 2021. Then, as a result of a discussion we'll have with [Defense] Secretary Mattis and the department, and review all of our budgets -- that's when we'll determine the way ahead," Goldfein said.

The close-air-support conversation needs to swing in "a new direction" regardless of the A-10, affectionately known as the Warthog, because the mission "has changed significantly, and it will change significantly in the future if we get this right."

Marine 4-Star Wants to Extend Dwell Time, Speed Up Aviation Recovery |

Marine 4-Star Wants to Extend Dwell Time, Speed Up Aviation Recovery | The commandant of the Marine Corps wants the service to come up with a strategy to give Marines more time at home between deployments before the end of the year and get new aircraft cranking off production lines ahead of schedule.

Those are two of the 25 time-sensitive tasks for service commanders published Tuesday alongside Gen. Robert Neller's second major message to the force. In the task list, he calls on Marine Corps leadership to invest in people, build up readiness, and take training into the future.

Neller's checklist tasks Marine Corps Forces Command and Manpower and Reserve Affairs with developing a plan to give Marines on average more than twice as much time at home than they spend deployed.

Increasing "dwell time," as it's called, from the current 1:2 ratio has long been cited by Marine Corps commanders as a goal at odds with the service's high deployment tempo and ongoing force reductions. As leaders await approval of a defense budget measure that would modestly increase the size of the force for the first time in years, Neller's order is a signal that times may be changing.

"The optimal deployment-to-dwell ratio will not be the same for all elements of the [Marine air-ground task force] and we must strike the right balance between risk-to-force, risk-to- mission, and risk-to-institution," Neller cautioned in the document. "Potential factors to consider among others: increasing the end strength of the force, growing key Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs), and decreasing in Global Force Management (GFM) demands."

Another goal dependent on budget decisions is the plan to accelerate aviation recovery for the service, which has seen aircraft readiness rates and pilots' flight hours plummet and then begin to recover in the last two years.

Marine 4-Star Wants to Extend Dwell Time, Speed Up Aviation Recovery |

Marine 4-Star Wants to Extend Dwell Time, Speed Up Aviation Recovery | The commandant of the Marine Corps wants the service to come up with a strategy to give Marines more time at home between deployments before the end of the year and get new aircraft cranking off production lines ahead of schedule.

Those are two of the 25 time-sensitive tasks for service commanders published Tuesday alongside Gen. Robert Neller's second major message to the force. In the task list, he calls on Marine Corps leadership to invest in people, build up readiness, and take training into the future.

Neller's checklist tasks Marine Corps Forces Command and Manpower and Reserve Affairs with developing a plan to give Marines on average more than twice as much time at home than they spend deployed.

Increasing "dwell time," as it's called, from the current 1:2 ratio has long been cited by Marine Corps commanders as a goal at odds with the service's high deployment tempo and ongoing force reductions. As leaders await approval of a defense budget measure that would modestly increase the size of the force for the first time in years, Neller's order is a signal that times may be changing.

"The optimal deployment-to-dwell ratio will not be the same for all elements of the [Marine air-ground task force] and we must strike the right balance between risk-to-force, risk-to- mission, and risk-to-institution," Neller cautioned in the document. "Potential factors to consider among others: increasing the end strength of the force, growing key Military Occupational Specialties (MOSs), and decreasing in Global Force Management (GFM) demands."

Another goal dependent on budget decisions is the plan to accelerate aviation recovery for the service, which has seen aircraft readiness rates and pilots' flight hours plummet and then begin to recover in the last two years.

No Plans to Limit Women in Combat, General Says |

No Plans to Limit Women in Combat, General Says | Despite rumors to the contrary, there's nothing in the works at the Defense Department to revise current rules opening combat roles to women who qualify, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn said Tuesday.

"There's been no conversation in the Pentagon about reviewing [or] revising the commitment that's been made to gender integration," Allyn said in testimony during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

Allyn was responding to questions from Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, who said she had heard "rumblings that the [Trump] administration" with input from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford was "talking about reviewing, revising or appealing this policy" to have all military occupational specialties open to women.

Speier asked, "Do you know about any efforts to do that, and doesn't that kind of fly in the face of having the ready workforce we need if you're excluding women who are capable to engage in combat?"

Allyn, who spent much of his time at the hearing complaining that Army readiness is being affected by budget cuts, said the current state of readiness of all the services could not be maintained without having women able to fill roles that were previously closed to them.

Most Army Brigades, Navy Planes Aren't Combat Ready: Leaders |

Most Army Brigades, Navy Planes Aren't Combat Ready: Leaders |

Only three of the Army's 58 Brigade Combat Teams are ready to fight; 53 percent of Navy aircraft can't fly; the Air Force is 723 fighter pilots short; and the Marine Corps needs 3,000 more troops.

"We're just flat-out out of money" to address those immediate needs and provide the additional personnel and maintenance funding to plan for the future, Navy Adm. William Moran said Tuesday in summing up the concerns of four-star officers across the services.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Moran and other officers said their first priority is for Congress to scrap the budget caps known as sequestration under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

The Air Force currently is the smallest, the oldest, the most poorly maintained and the "least ready in our history," said Gen. Stephen Wilson, vice chief of staff of the Air Force.

"Your Air Force needs Congress' support to repeal the Budget Control Act," he said. "We need to act now before it's too late."

Gen. Glenn Walters, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, said 3,000 more Marines are urgently needed to bolster a force that is "insufficiently manned, trained and equipped."

In addition, the Marine Corps faces a $9 billion backlog for infrastructure, he said. The Corps also needs more amphibious ships, or "We will find our Marine Corps optimized for the past," he said.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Goldfein shares space focus

Goldfein shares space focus: Space is no longer the final frontier for the joint warfighter as the Air Force will organize, train and equip those who rely on the critical domain of space.

During the Mitchell Institute's Space Power Breakfast Feb. 3 at the Capitol Hill Club, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein described space as a warfighting domain, and said the Air Force is responsible for 90 percent of the Department of Defense's space assets. The Airmen responsible for securing these assets hold tremendous responsibility.

"Only when we think about and talk about space in the same way we talk about operations in the air, on land, at sea or in cyber will we move in the direction of truly integrating space across all warfighting domains," Goldfein said. "Because the opposite of integration is separation which moves us in exactly the wrong direction as a joint team."

Goldfein shared anecdotes from his recent trip to California where he met with Airmen and leadership from Vandenberg and Los Angeles Air Force Bases. Overall, the general said he was in awe of the Air Force's space warrior and proud of the achievements made thus far.

Weapons in Space

Weapons in Space: The issue of placing weapons in orbit about the Earth continues to be of increasing concern to the U.S. and other nations. Discussions of militarizing space have been ongoing since the first artificial satellite was launched in 1957.

By definition, space militarization is the placement and development of weapons and military technology in Earth orbits. Although ballistic missiles do transit space, they do not stay in space. Therefore, such missiles are not considered to be space weapons.

It is true that space is the home of many devices that serve national security interests. For example, there are many imaging and communications satellites that are owned and operated by defense and security organizations of several governments. However, these are thought to be weaponless.

Based on publically available information, weapons are not currently stationed in space. In fact, the Outer Space Treaty, the basic legal framework of international space law, bars any signatory to the treaty from placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body.

Furthermore, it limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes and prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers or establishing military fortifications.

On the other hand, the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit. Accordingly, governments are forbidden from claiming ownership of celestial resources such as the Moon or a planet.

Tomorrow’s Defense: Unmanned Vehicles Enter the Naval Arena - maritime global news

Tomorrow’s Defense: Unmanned Vehicles Enter the Naval Arena - maritime global news

A little more than a year ago, 40 global research and defense companies met to discuss how unmanned systems could be used by the world's armies, air forces and navies in the defense systems of the future. This led to the British Royal Navy staging its first 'robot wars' last fall to give companies the chance to demonstrate their latest technology in a realistic workout. In the largest exercise of its kind ever staged, 'Unmanned Warrior', held off the coasts of Scotland and Wales, provided an international showcase for industry to demonstrate what autonomous systems can do for naval warfare, including the use of unmanned vessels (AUVs, ROVs, USVs) in surveys, antisubmarine warfare, ISTAR (information, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) and mine hunting.

Royal Navy Fleet Robotics Officer, Commander Peter Pipkin, stated that Unmanned Warrior, the brainchild of First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas, was "a unique and innovative challenge to deliver the Royal Navy's vision for autonomous systems."
Sir Philip Jones, Fleet Commander and Vice-Admiral at the time, added that as an instinctive innovator and exploiter of modern technology, the Royal Navy was enthusiastic about new ideas, new concepts and new technology: "In our view the unique selling point of Unmanned Warrior is its ability to provide a playground, if you like, in which we can simultaneously demonstrate unmanned systems and do so across a range of warfare disciplines. We see a clear opportunity to shape the future of not just the Royal Navy but a raft of our partners."

Monday, February 6, 2017

America's 6th Generation Fighter Jets of the Future

America's 6th Generation Fighter Jets of the Future: America's 6th generation fighter jets will probably be the real game changer over its predecessor, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), that in spite of repeated setbacks (often referred to as a "nightmare" with its unsavory "bug" list) stands as a strong portend for offensive and defensive platforms.

Just a handful of countries have 6th generation fighter jet concepts. Fighters jets, just a single generation from now, will be hypersonic attacks aircraft, nuclear capable, able to achieve Mach 6, have stealth technology, heightened autonomous characteristics, prepared for advanced "electronic/cyber warfare," and be coated in "smart skin." According to some conceptual designs, features like super cruise technology means afterburner would not be needed to achieve supersonic speeds.

The US in addition to it potential military adversaries like Russia and China poised to accelerate fighter jet evolution, combining application with ideas that appear to be right out of a Sci-Fi film. The US' Boeing F/A-XX (not to mention Lockheed Martin's spy/strike design known as the SR-72) diamond-shaped, tailless super stealth 6th generation fighter jet is the answer to Russia's progressive moves in aerial technology, and China's current endeavors with its Chengdu J-20 "Mighty Dragon" and Shenyang J-31.

Although the US' current 5th generation fighters retain superiority in multiple ways over anything that its potential enemies could put into the air, efforts to introduce the next generation fighter by 2035 are underway. While these fighters are still in their conceptual development phases, much of what developers have witnessed in the F-22 and F-35 have served as critical stepping-stones for future development.

NATO Critic Trump Agrees to Attend Brussels Summit in May - NBC News

NATO Critic Trump Agrees to Attend Brussels Summit in May - NBC News: President Donald Trump spoke with the secretary general of NATO on Sunday and agreed to join a meeting of NATO leaders in Europe later this year, after having repeatedly criticized the alliance and having called it "obsolete" as late as last month.

Trump spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Sunday evening regarding the United States' "strong support for NATO," according to the White House press office.

The two leaders discussed "how to encourage all NATO allies to meet their defense spending commitments" and the potential for a peaceful resolution of the conflict along the Ukrainian border, according to the White House.

Marine Corps looks to empower squad leaders with new combat tech

Marine Corps looks to empower squad leaders with new combat tech: The Marine Corps is planning to field new high-tech combat gear — a ­rifle-mounted laser range finder — that will give squad leaders some extraordinary new capabilities and revolutionize the way the Corps’ small units operate in battle.

The laser range finders could for the first time allow infantry squad leaders to call in air strikes and artillery fire, a change that would vastly increase the lethality of small infantry units and push previously unheard of responsibility down to junior Marines at the squad level.

Specifically, the sophisticated laser range finder, which could cost nearly $10,000 each, would give squad leaders instant access to detailed information about distances and locations for targets that require heavy fires.

“A squad leader with accurate range data can quickly assign the appropriate force to eliminate threats,” said Chief Warrant Officer Five Mark R. Salmons, a Marine gunner, or infantry weapons officer.

Mapped: America's Collective Defense Agreements - Defense One

Mapped: America's Collective Defense Agreements - Defense One: As Donald Trump starts his presidency, the United States has agreements to come to the defense of more than 50 other nations.

President Donald Trump begins his term as an outsider distrustful of globalization, wary of overseas commitments, and determined to deliver on a promise to restore America’s sovereignty. His first 90 days find him in a particularly unique place for a U.S. president—having spent months suggesting some of America’s defense commitments may be obsolete, while knocking allies from Asia to the Middle East and throughout NATO for not paying the U.S. enough for security.

Now two weeks in and 18 executive orders down, the Trump administration is decidedly charting a new path for the country. And it’s doing so with a new and, at times, puzzling approach toward diplomacy. (Consider the recent messaging uproar from the president’s phone calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico.) Aside from occasional presidential tweets about World War III, one noteworthy draft executive order leaked to the New York Times in late January entitled “Moratorium on New Multilateral Treaties.” It could offer a window in the future of White House diplomacy. As written, the order would apply ”only to multilateral treaties that are not ‘directly related to national security, extradition or international trade.’” Notes the Times, “it is unclear what falls outside these restrictions.”

As Fighting Resumes, Ukraine Extends a Wary Hand to Washington - Defense One

As Fighting Resumes, Ukraine Extends a Wary Hand to Washington - Defense One: The renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine has reignited the debate in Washington about how best to support Kiev’s battle with separatists and their backers in Moscow. One front-line Ukrainian commander has been waiting years for arms and other equipment from Washington. His message, in a telephone conversation with Defense One, was I need help, and equipment, but: “Don’t send shit to me.”

In mid-December, leaders from U.S. European Command, or EUCOM, discussed security cooperation and military reform with Stepan Poltorak, Ukraine’s defense minister, and Viktor Muzhenko, Ukraine’s Chief of General Staff. “Additionally, we visited the Eastern part of the country where Ukrainian military units are involved in combat operations against Russia-led separatist forces,” a EUCOM representative said. “We remain concerned with the violence in eastern Ukraine and continue to call for an immediate end to Russia’s occupation of Crimea and for Russia to cease its destabilizing actions in Ukraine and fulfill its commitments in the Minsk agreements.”

Sunday, February 5, 2017

China warns US after Mattis says Senkakus covered by treaty

China warns US after Mattis says Senkakus covered by treaty: China warned the US Saturday it was risking instability in Asia after President Donald Trump's new defence secretary vowed to back Japan in any military clash with Beijing over a disputed island chain.

The Senkaku Islands, known in China as the Diaoyus, are at the centre of a festering row between Tokyo and Beijing, which claims they have been part of Chinese territory for centuries.

Wrapping up a visit to the region Saturday, US Defence Secretary James Mattis said in Tokyo the islands were subject to a decades-old treaty between Washington and Tokyo.

"I made clear that our long-standing policy on the Senkaku Islands stands -- the US will continue to recognise Japanese administration of the islands," Mattis told a press conference.

"And as such Article 5 of the US-Japan Security Treaty applies."

Article 5 commits the United States to defend Japan or territories it administers against any attack.

US-Japan alliance 'cornerstone' of stability: Mattis

US-Japan alliance 'cornerstone' of stability: Mattis

US Defense Secretary James Mattis told his Japanese counterpart on Saturday that their alliance remained a "cornerstone" of regional stability as he wrapped up a visit aimed at reassuring key Asian allies about Washington's commitment to their security.

Japan and the US have a decades-long security alliance while US-South Korea military ties date back to the 1950-53 Korean War. But on the campaign trail, US President Donald Trump accused Seoul and Tokyo of not paying their fair share for US troops stationed in their countries, sparking concerns about the future of the security alliances.Mattis arrived in Japan on Friday from South Korea and his visit to the region marks the first overseas trip by a senior official from the Trump administration.Mattis, a former Marine general who has served in both Japan and South Korea, made clear in no uncertain terms that the United States was ready to answer any threats the two countries may face."We see the alliance between ourselves and Japan as a cornerstone of peace, prosperity and freedom in the Asia Pacific area," he said at the start of discussions with Japanese defence minister Tomomi Inada."It will continue as strong as ever."

Saturday, February 4, 2017

F-35A Drops Below $100M; Trump Pentagon Trumpets Jobs « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

F-35A Drops Below $100M; Trump Pentagon Trumpets Jobs « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

WASHINGTON: While President Trump has not yet “saved” American taxpayers “billions of dollars” on the F-35 program as his spokesman claimed recently, today’s deal for 90 planes pushes the average cost of an F-35A below $100 million per plane for the first time.

Plane maker Lockheed Martin has promised the F-35A will drop below $85 million by 2019. And the leader of the F-35 Joint Program Office, Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, has promised it will hit between $80 million and $85 million for the plane and its engines. The engines are technically a separate program. The latest costs include the engine and assorted other costs.

LRIP 10 – F-35 Costs:

F-35A: $94.6 million

F-35B: $122.8 million

F-35C $121.8 million

The company says in a statement that the increase in production this marks, “enables us to reduce costs by taking advantage of economies of scale and production efficiencies.” For those who haven’t been reading us regularly, the statement also says that the president’s “personal involvement in the F-35 program accelerated the negotiations and sharpened our focus on driving down the price.” However, Bogdan deserves the credit for bringing the price down and for having kept sharp the government’s focus on both price and quality.

Friday, February 3, 2017

In Korea, Mattis vows ‘effective and overwhelming’ nuclear response - MarketWatch

In Korea, Mattis vows ‘effective and overwhelming’ nuclear response - MarketWatch: U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promised an “effective and overwhelming” response to any use of nuclear weapons, in firm remarks aimed at North Korea at the end of a two-day trip to South Korea.

Mattis, who is due to fly to Tokyo at midday Friday, said during a meeting with South Korean defense minister Han Min-koo that the U.S.’s commitment to defending itself and its allies would be “ironclad” in the face of Pyongyang’s “threatening rhetoric and behavior.”

Petraeus Says Efforts to Beat Extremists Online Are Lacking |

Petraeus Says Efforts to Beat Extremists Online Are Lacking | The U.S. isn't doing enough to stop the Islamic State group from using the internet to spread its propaganda and recruit new members, former CIA Director David Petraeus told lawmakers Wednesday.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Petraeus, a retired Army general, said so-called counter-messaging initiatives are inadequate and urged a greater collaboration with the private sector similar to the effort to block child pornography from being peddled online. He did not mention any specific programs.

The remarks from Petraeus came a day after The Associated Press published an investigation that found a counter-propaganda program aimed at thwarting the Islamic State group's use of social media for recruiting is plagued by incompetence, cronyism and skewed data.

The program, known as WebOps, is run by defense contractors at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Closing the Gap: Malaria Vaccine Candidate Proves Effective in Navy Medicine Clinical Trial

Researchers at the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) have put much effort into developing an effective and safe vaccine against malaria.

Malaria is ranked by the Department of Defense as the number one infectious disease threat to military personnel deployed to areas where malaria is endemic.

The recent study results were included in the paper, "Protection Against Plasmodium falciparum Malaria by PfSPZ Vaccine," published in JCI Insight, Jan. 12. The paper highlights research conducted by a team of clinical investigators led by Navy Capt. Judith Epstein and Army Maj. Kris Paolino. The study reports a radiation-attenuated Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) sporozoite (SPZ) vaccine, PfSPZ Vaccine, protected some volunteers against two strains of Plasmodium falciparum malaria.

The sporozoite is the stage of the malaria parasite transmitted to a person by an infected mosquito. The PfSPZ Vaccine includes weakened parasites to generate a strong immune response, but cannot cause disease.

"As a Navy scientist, it has been rewarding to work hand-in-hand with Army investigators as we move closer to the goal of a vaccine that can provide protection against malaria for our military personnel," said Epstein.

Initial studies demonstrated five doses of PfSPZ Vaccine provided protection against infection by malaria parasites similar to those used in the vaccine in six subjects who were tested three weeks after the final dose by exposure to malaria-infected mosquitoes in a Controlled Human Malaria Infection, (CHMI).

"We are excited that this research backs up our hopes for the vaccine," said Epstein. "With this research, and future vaccine research, we believe that we may finally be able to close the gap between wanting to protect deployed personnel against malaria and having the actual capabilities to do so."

A highly-effective malaria vaccine would be an ideal tool to prevent malaria in deployed military personnel and travelers, reduce morbidity and mortality in infants and children, and eliminate malaria from defined geographic areas through vaccine campaigns.

The clinical trial reported in JCI Insight was supported by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Joint Warfighter Medical Research Program and the Military Infectious Diseases Research Program, and U.S. Navy Advanced Medical Development Program and other sponsors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.

Boeing Takes T-X Lead As Northrop Joins Raytheon

oeing Takes T-X Lead As Northrop Joins Raytheon

It may be an exaggeration to say the companies are dropping out of the T-X competition like flies, but the Northrop Grumman-BAE Systems team‘s decision to drop out today means that at least four of the biggest defense companies in the world decided they couldn’t come up with competitive offerings for the Air Force’s next generation trainer.

“Northrop Grumman and its principal teammate BAE Systems have carefully examined the U.S. Air Force’s T-X Trainer requirements and acquisition strategy as stated in the final request for proposals issued on Dec. 30, 2016. The companies have decided not to submit a proposal for the T-X Trainer program, as it would not be in the best interest of the companies and their shareholders,” today’s statement says.

The Raytheon-Leonardo team dropped out on Jan. 25, leaving us with these competitors: Lockheed Martin-KAI, Boeing-Saab, and Sierra Nevada-TAI. This doesn’t raise questions about the Air Force’s approach — yet. It does raise intriguing questions about the costs of providing a system that can mimic enough aspects of a fifth-generation aircraft to train pilots at a reasonable price. A contract award is expected in the second half of this year. Lockheed is offering an existing aircraft, Boeing created a new one from scratch, and Sierra Nevada is building a new one with the Turks.