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04 Aug 21. USSOUTHCOM commander nominee vows continued partnership building. Working to strengthen the United States’ relationship with Central and South American countries will be central to stemming off growing Chinese and Russian influence in the region, US Army Lieutenant General Laura Richardson told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing to be the next US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) commander.
The three-star general, serving as the US Army North commanding general, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee on 3 August to field lawmakers’ questions about how she would approach the role as head of USSOUTHCOM. If confirmed, she said countering Beijing and Moscow’s diplomatic expansion in the region would be a chief focal point, much as it is today to the command.
“Authoritarian regimes and transnational criminal organisations, enabled by China and encouraged by Russia, are attempting to consolidate power in the region, and free societies are being directly challenged,” Lt Gen Richardson said. Her solution was to maintain the current approach of building up military-to-military relationships in the region, in part, through expanding security co-operation efforts, multilateral exercises, and increasing international military education and training exchanges.
For example, the army has stood up a Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) aligned with this region, and its soldiers have deployed to Colombia and Honduras to work with the countries’ militaries. In the past, there was also a US Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Southern Command (SPMAGTF-SC) that annually deployed to several Central American countries such as Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to help train these countries’ militaries and respond to natural disasters. However, it was disbanded to save money. (Source: Jane’s)
03 Aug 21. Southcom Commander Nominee: U.S. Must Remain ‘Partner of Choice’ in Western Hemisphere. The nominee for the commander post at U.S. Southern Command told Congress she would build upon her predecessor’s efforts and work diligently with U.S. partners to ensure Southcom fully accounts for the defense challenges and opportunities in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Army Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson testified in her nomination hearing today for promotion to general and assuming command of Southcom before the Senate Armed Forces Committee. Currently serving as the commander of U.S. Army North at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Richardson would replace outgoing Southcom commander Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller.
remain the partner of choice throughout the Western Hemisphere, Richardson told the committee.
“[The] Southern Command region is of strategic importance to U.S. vital interests, and, if confirmed, I will synchronize our approach to security cooperation, working across all combatant commands to narrow the gaps and seams our competitors are exploiting,” she said.
Today, many of the United States’ closest partners in the region are still fighting bravely against the COVID-19 pandemic, she said.
“We are all too familiar with the devastation caused by this deadly pandemic, and I empathize with those who have felt its horrific impacts. More than a humanitarian crisis, this devastation is changing the geopolitical landscape,” Richardson said. “Authoritarian regimes and transnational criminal organizations enabled by China and encouraged by Russia are attempting to consolidate power in the region, and free societies are being directly challenged.”
While U.S. competitors are attempting to profit from our partners’ vulnerable circumstances, Richardson said she stands ready to support the coordinated and prioritized whole-of-government effort in support of partner nations on vaccine distribution.
Richardson said she will focus on rebuilding regional resilience by expanding U.S. security cooperation efforts and multilateral exercises, increasing international military education and training exchanges, and working with the Defense Department and Congress on innovative methods to increase levels of interoperability and global integration.
“Through a comprehensive and multilateral approach, we can strengthen regional resilience by denying freedom of movement to transnational criminal organizations,” she said. “And by reducing exposure to the corrosive efforts of external state actors in our shared hemisphere, we thereby improve security of our southern border,” Richardson added.
The United States draws upon the strength of the Western Hemisphere from partner nations that share U.S. values of freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, Richardson said, adding the U.S. cannot take these relationships for granted or let its guard down as competitors vie for influence.
“We must hasten to pick up the pieces left by the pandemic and transform our relationships to meet 21st century security challenges. Put simply, winning together with our allies and partners matters,” she noted.
Richardson said if she is confirmed, she would look forward to continuing to serve the American people by leading the “great team” at Southcom. Just as she has worked with numerous agencies within U.S. borders, Richardson said she would work with U.S. interagency partners abroad.
“Whether [working] against COVID, transnational criminal organizations, the predatory actions of China, the malign influence of Russia, or natural disasters, there’s nothing we cannot overcome or achieve through an integrated response with our interagency allies and partners,” Richardson said. (Source: US DoD)
03 Aug 21. DOD Official Says U.S. Faces Climate Change Crisis. Climate change absolutely affects national security, said the senior climate advisor to the secretary of defense.
Speaking yesterday to the Department of Energy’s Energy Exchange forum, Joe Bryan said:
- The Arctic is warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the planet — opening up competition with China and Russia over sea routes and mineral wealth.
- Across Africa and the Middle East, drought and rising temperatures drive insecurity, increasing demands on fragile states and contributing to food scarcity, migration and security concerns.
- Longer typhoon seasons threaten millions of people across Southeast Asia and challenge countries’ capacity to respond.
- Extended drought in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala contributes to migration north.
- Military exercises have been paused or altered due to hurricanes and typhoons.
- Military installations have had to be evacuated due to wildfires out West.
- Hurricanes and flooding have recently resulted in billions of dollars in installation infrastructure damage at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida ($5bn); Camp Lejeune, North Carolina ($3bn) and Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska ($400m).
But there is some good news. Bryan mentioned that the market for energy technologies is evolving fast, saying that renewables were the only energy source for which demand increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the International Energy Agency’s Renewable Energy Market Update for 2021. IEA predicted that renewables will account for 90% of new power capacity additions globally over the next two years. “And that’s not just because renewables are clean — it’s because they are competitive,” Bryan said.
In the auto sector, the global market is going electric, with Volvo becoming all-electric by 2030, General Motors by 2035, and Ford in Europe by 2030. In addition, Volkswagen will bring 70 new electric models to market by the end of this decade, and 50% of the cars they sell in the U.S. and Chinese markets will be electric by 2030.
“The world is changing, and we at the Department of Defense can’t afford to stand still. We need to compete for the energy technologies that will define the future. Our economy — and military capability — depend on it,” he said.
The department’s forthcoming Climate Adaptation Plan’s objective, he said, is to ensure the DOD can operate under changing climate conditions, preserving operational capability and enhancing the natural and man-made systems essential to the department’s success.
Bryan mentioned some DOD success stories:
- Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, built a microgrid capable of powering critical missions even when the grid goes down. During a heat wave last summer, Miramar took 6 megawatts off the grid for several hours to help the local utility company deal with exceptionally high demand and prevent rolling blackouts, preserving the grid for everyone.
- Earlier this year, the Army’s Schofield Barracks in Hawaii disconnected from the grid for a day and a half without losing mission capability.
- DOD and other government agencies are working to go to electric vehicle fleets.
“We need more of that, and one of the best ways to get there is to build partnerships and collaborate,” he said. “DOD and DOE, for example, have a memorandum of understanding that enables us to work together on innovative energy technologies.”
For instance, DOD and DOE recently demonstrated an air-source heat pump at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, he said.
There are lots of other DOD/DOE opportunities for collaboration from batteries and energy resilience to zero emissions vehicles, he added.
“Success in transforming the energy sector depends on collaboration across the government and with the private sector,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
02 Aug 21. Milley Discusses What It Takes to Remain the World’s Preeminent Fighting Force. The United States has always been a maritime nation, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley spoke today at the Navy League of the United States’ Sea-Air-Space Global Maritime Exposition at National Harbor, Md.
Sea control and power projection are critical to sea power superiority, he said. “In my mind, no one has ever done it better than the United States Navy, in the history of the world. The same is true for air and space and cyber in our ground forces. In fact, our joint force is second to none.”
How the department invests in time and how it allocates financial resources and talent is going to set the agenda for future generations to come, Milley said.
“Failure to recognize, adapt and capitalize on the changing character of war and failure to see the future produces devastating consequences. And it did for our military. It resulted in losses on a scale that’s difficult to fathom that none of us alive today have ever experienced,” he said, referring to the hundreds of thousands of U.S. service members killed in World Wars I and II after the nation was slow to arm.
Milley mentioned future capabilities needed to deter aggressors or to win should deterrence fail. They include artificial intelligence, long-range precision fires, hypersonics, unmanned systems, biotechnology, 3-D printing and miniature electronic components.
These and dozens of other emerging technologies are going to fundamentally change the conduct of warfare, he said.
“Those technologies are available right now to every country in the world. There’s nothing particularly secret about many of them. And I would argue that the country that masters those technologies … is likely to have a significant, and perhaps decisive advantage,” he said.
Milley said that all of these new technologies, along with maintaining current readiness, are expensive.
“There are very few things as expensive as preventing a war. But there are two that are more expensive. One is fighting a war. And the most expensive of all is fighting and losing a war,” he pointed out. (Source: US DoD)
02 Aug 21. Leaders Discuss Tri-Service Maritime Strategy to Deterring Conflict. Leaders of the three military sea services spoke today about the challenges ahead and how the services plan to navigate through the rough waters.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael M. Gilday, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger and Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl L. Schultz spoke at the Navy League of the United States’ Sea-Air-Space Global Maritime Exposition at National Harbor, Md.
Navy Adm. Michael M. Gilday
The tri-service navigation plan falls into four bands of emphasis, Gilday said: training, capabilities, capacity and failing.
By failing, the admiral meant pushing the experimental and developmental envelope, taking calculated risks and learning from mistakes or failures.
Those four bands fall into two key areas, he said.
The first is water execution problems such as aviation maintenance, private and public shipyard maintenance, supply chain manpower and closing capability gaps. He said the Navy is focused on producing deliverables in those areas in a timely and accountable manner.
The second area is innovation problems, he said. They include unmanned systems and live virtual training.
The focus on this set of problems is on development, testing, experimentation, learning, and turning this quickly to generate innovative warfighting outcomes, he said.
“It’s our hope that those areas produce for us a more capable, lethal, ready Navy, maybe by the end of the decade,” he said.
Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger
Berger said future warfighters will not offer the luxury of a long military buildup overseas such as that afforded during Operation Desert Storm.
Today, training and education, including wargaming experimentation exercises, is key to building more innovative and adaptive Marines and their leaders, he said.
The training and education should focus on developing leaders who understand risk and are willing to take [risks], he said.
“All three of us are pushing hard for wargaming experimentation exercises that force our leaders into circumstances where they have to make decisions under pressure,” he said, referring to the three sea service leaders.
Good wargaming experimentation will include opposition forces who have a lot of latitude to make calls on their own tempo, he added.
Coast Guard Adm. Karl L. Schultz
Schultz mentioned the importance of the Tri-Service Maritime Strategy that the military leaders of the three sea services signed in December.
“It’s a mindset where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” he said, referring to greater naval integration in all domains that the document calls for in the face of threats from China and Russia.
The admiral mentioned that besides his service being a blue water Coast Guard which can augment global naval power, the service also has unique law enforcement authorities, search and rescue assets and other important capabilities. (Source: US DoD)
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