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02 Oct 20. France plans 4.5% defence budget increase for 2021. The French Armed Forces Ministry presented a EUR49.7bn (USD58.3bn) draft 2021 defence budget to parliament on 28 September. The budget request would increase defence spending by 4.5%, compared to 2020 and 22% since 2017, and includes EUR22.3bn for procurement, EUR12.3bn for salaries, EUR8.5bn for pensions, and EUR4.6bn for operating costs.
During a press conference held at the ministry on 30 September, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French procurement agency, and the three armed service branches presented the main equipment delivered in 2020 and the status of ongoing programmes. In 2021, the DGA plans to order 30 H160M helicopters (21 for the army, 8 for the navy, and 1 for the air force), 120 upgraded Véhicule Blindé Léger (VBL) light reconnaissance vehicles, 12,000 HK416F rifles, one Frégate de Défense et d’Intervention (FDI) frigate, 45 Mer-Mer 40 Block 3C upgrade kits for Exocet anti-ship missiles, 367 MICA NG air-to-air missiles, 150 MICA NG training missiles, and 13 Syracuse IV satellite communications ground stations. The demonstration phase of the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS) should to be launched in 2021. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Oct 20. Policy Chief Outlines Changes to U.S. Defense Postures in Germany, European Theater. The Defense Department continues to prioritize implementation of the National Defense Strategy, including building a more lethal force and strengthening alliances, DOD’s acting undersecretary of defense for policy told the House Armed Services Committee.
Dr. James Anderson testified on Wednesday before the committee about proposed changes to U.S. defense postures in Germany and the European theater.
“One important initiative to advance the NDS and to ensure a focus on these priorities is the ongoing comprehensive review of all combatant commands as part of the U.S. European Command review,” he noted.
A goal is to develop options for posturing base forces to compete more effectively and respond to contingencies both within Europe and globally, he said.
To that end, the acting undersecretary said Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper’s five core principles will guide those options by:
- Enhancing deterrence of Russia;
- Strengthening NATO;
- Reassuring allies for improving U.S. strategic flexibility and Eucom’s operational flexibility; and
- Taking care of service members and their families.
Anderson said Esper announced in July an update on the status of the U.S. European Command’s force posture review following a decision by the White House to limit the number of assigned, active-duty service members in Germany to 25,000 and the DOD’s concept to reposition some U.S. forces within Europe and the U.S. to be better situated for great-power competition.
The review, he noted, yielded a concept for nearly 12,000 military service members to be restationed from Germany, with almost 5,600 restationed in other NATO countries, and about 6,400 returning to the United States.
“The realignment concept includes consolidating headquarters to strengthen operational agility, repositioning some forces in the United States to focus on readiness, and to prepare for rotational deployments and deploying rotational forces to the Black Sea region, NATO’s southeastern flank, to improve deterrence,” Anderson said.
The acting undersecretary outlined the concept’s four pillars:
- The consolidation of various U.S. headquarters in Europe outside Germany, including in some cases co-locating headquarters at the same locations as their NATO counterparts in Belgium and Italy. That would help strengthen NATO and improve operational efficiency and readiness with more than 2,000 service members in these headquarters.
- The nearly 4,500 members of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment would return to the United States, as other Stryker units begin rotations further east in the Black Sea region, giving DOD the more enduring presence to enhance deterrence and reassure allies along NATO’s Southeastern flank.
- Some 2,500 airmen based in the United Kingdom, who are responsible for aerial refueling and special operations and who had been scheduled to rebase to Germany, would remain in the U.K., ensuring the uninterrupted readiness and responsiveness of those units.
- A fighter squadron and elements of a fighter wing would be repositioned to Italy, moving them closer to the Black Sea region and rendering them more capable to conduct dynamic force employment and rotational deployments to NATO’s Southeastern flank.
“This concept to reposition our forces in Europe constitutes a major strategic shift, wholly aligned with the NDS and consistent with other adjustments the [United States] has previously made with NATO,” Anderson said.
“Over NATO’s 71-year history, the size, composition and disposition of U.S. forces in Europe has changed many times. As our planning for the current realignment matures, we will be sure to communicate frequently with Congress and with our NATO allies to maintain visibility and foster cooperation,” he said.
As DOD continues to put the NDS in place, the efforts at enhancing its European posture beyond the Eucom combatant command review have shown recent successes, the undersecretary said, including the signing of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with Poland in August, which will enable an increased, enduring U.S. rotational presence in that country of about 1,000 U.S. military personnel.
These elements are in addition to the 4,500 U.S. military service members already on rotation in Poland and include infrastructure and logistical support provided by Poland, he said.
“Our continued efforts to streamline operations across Europe — including through modernized and new agreements with NATO allies, especially on the Eastern flank — directly support our NDS principles by improving operational flexibility and enhancing deterrence,” Anderson told the committee. “The department is confident that these continuing efforts will help us adapt the force and optimize our force posture in Europe as we seek to deter malign actors.” (Source: US DoD)
30 Sep 20. British Army to become force of ‘boots and bots’: CGS. Delivering a briefing ahead of the upcoming integrated review into defence, security and foreign policy British Army Chief of the General Staff (CGS) General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said the future of the army would be “about the integration of ‘boots and bots’, of proxies and pixels, of the conventional and unconventional”.
Carleton-Smith told reporters that while he did not want to ‘prejudge’ the results of the Integrated Review, his vision for the British Army: “Will be about the integration of ‘boots and bots’, of proxies and pixels, of the conventional and unconventional. An Army which is fit for the demands of the digital age: more lethal, more agile and more expeditionary, more of the time.”
He added that moving forward the British Army is set to be more forward deployed alongside the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF), as well as other government departments and the private sector.
Carleton-Smith explained: “These will provide ‘lily pads’ to enable understanding, change narratives, provide reassurance to allies and deterrence for adversaries and to secure economic interests for the promotion of shared prosperity.
“In short, they will give the UK more strategic choice and influence.”
The British Army’s 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment – 2 PARA – and School of infantry are set to receive robotic vehicles this month.
Carleton-Smith said the future British Army would be enabled by a ‘digital backbone’ and ‘integrated intelligence picture’. That army, he added, would have the ‘ability to anticipate, to assert, and to act – and at a speed of relevance to decision-makers and observers alike’.
Priorities for the Army will be growing its special operations and intelligence capabilities, as well further developing ‘intelligence and counter-intelligence; information operations; and unconventional warfare’ expertise.
The General said that the technology available to the British Army must ‘also change’ adding that the current system of fielding new technology was not up to scratch for the modern era. He said: “The current system for fielding new technologies is simply not good enough for the digital age – to retain the competitive advantage requires the ruthless pursuit of innovation and novel tech – fusing current operations and training with prototype technology. Military needs matched with civilian innovation.”
In a future force, Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) will deploy as ‘motherships’ acting as command hubs for robots. This Carleton-Smith added would be supported by ‘longer range and more powerful artillery than the Army have ever used, firing on targets identified by swarms of drones.’
He added that the UK faced great resurgent power competition between nation states. In this ‘more fragmented and competitive world’ Carleton-Smith added that the nature of conflict in itself was moving away from a clear distinction between peace and war “to warfare of the digital age; endlessly competitive, inherently complex, and always blurred – and with the maturing battlegrounds of cyber and space to compete in.”
Carleton-Smith said: “This will not only be good for the Army and the wider integrated force but also for the UK; on top of the £15bn annual contribution to the British economy, the Army will incubate British innovation and British technology – something we know is world-leading.”
“An Asymmetric Army for the Digital Age”
Outlining his plans for “An Asymmetric Army for the Digital Age” Carleton-Smith said: “It perhaps won’t come as a surprise to you that my vision for the Army is one of unrelenting transformation; of how we train, operate and fight.
“To build an Army that thinks sharper and moves faster, designed to exploit weakness and counter strength, and to do it all of the time.”
He concluded: “This Army must be able to challenge our adversaries operating in the grey zone between war and peace.
“For our aim should be to prevent a war as much as win one. We need forces to shine a light into the shadows.” (Source: army-technology.com)
30 Sep 20. Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter launches the Integrated Operating Concept. Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter delivers a speech on the Integrated Operating Concept at Policy Exchange.
The Prime Minister I think has set a clear vision for the future of Global Britain. One where the UK is considered an outwardly looking, internationalist country, that acts as a burden-sharing and problem-solving nation, making a tangible contribution to tackling diplomatic and security challenges in our neighbourhood and beyond.
To do this though and particularly from our perspective in Defence, we must first understand that the threats to our national security, our values and our prosperity have evolved and diversified markedly. Our authoritarian rivals see the strategic context as a continuous struggle in which non-military and military instruments are used unconstrained by any distinction between peace and war. These regimes believe that they are already engaged in an intense form of conflict that is predominantly political rather than kinetic. Their strategy of ‘political warfare’ is designed to undermine cohesion, to erode economic, political and social resilience, and to compete for strategic advantage in key regions of the world.
Their goal is to win without going to war: to achieve their objectives by breaking our willpower, using attacks below the threshold that would prompt a war-fighting response. These attacks on our way of life from authoritarian rivals and extremist ideologies are remarkably difficult to defeat without undermining the very freedoms we want to protect. We are exposed through our openness.
The pervasiveness of information and rapid technological development have changed the character of warfare and of politics. We now have new tools, techniques and tactics that can be used to undermine political and social cohesion, and the means to make the connection to an audience ever more rapidly. Information is now democratised. It’s available for everyone.
Our adversaries have studied our ‘Western way of war’, identified our vulnerabilities and modernised their own capabilities to target them. The campaigns of the last 30 years have been played out over global media networks. From the first Gulf War in the early 1990s to the air strikes in Bosnia and Kosovo, the response to the terrorist attacks on embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and of course the campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya – all have been watched closely by our rivals.
They saw that air power could penetrate deep into hostile territory and learned that we preferred to fight and strike targets from afar. They saw that this enhanced our natural aversion to putting people in harm’s way. They watched how casualties, financial cost and length of time swayed domestic and public opinion and the effect that had on the legitimacy assuring the use of armed force.
So they learned how to improve their own resilience to absorb strikes; they developed anti access denial systems; they improved their maritime undersea capabilities; they developed long range missile systems; they integrated Electronic Warfare, swarms of drones with multiple fires and used these to defeat armour; they invested in space and cyber, recognising the importance we attach to global positioning and digitisation. And in Ukraine and Syria Russia has created battle laboratories from real life events to develop their tactics and battle harden a new generation of soldiers.
The US Department of Defence’s latest annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China highlights that the PRC has marshalled the resources, technology, and political will over the past two decades to strengthen and modernize the People’s Liberation Army. Including growing the largest maritime surface and sub-surface battle force in the world; an armoury of ground launched cruise and ballistic missiles – some of which have ten times the range of conventional ballistic missiles; one of the world’s largest forces of advanced long range surface-to-air systems; and of course expanding the PRC’s overseas military footprint.
They have also harnessed technologies and tactics that have outpaced the evolution of international law to avoid their actions being classified as conflict under the current definitions of international law. Authoritative PLA texts have argued that the ambiguous boundary between peace and war opens up opportunities for the military to achieve its ends, disguising its activities as civilian, and therefore peaceful.
China’s new Strategic Support Force is designed to achieve dominance in the space and cyber domains. It commands satellite information attack and defence forces; electronic assault forces and Internet assault forces; campaign information operations forces, which include conventional electronic warfare forces, anti-radiation assault forces, and battlefield cyber warfare forces. All of this is available in the open domain.
Now, Western states draw legitimacy from respect for the rules, conventions and protocols of war. Where we see morals, ethics and values as a centre of gravity, authoritarian rivals see them as an attractive target. And all of a sudden the idea of ‘lawfare’ becomes a helpful tool in their inventory. The term ‘lawfare’ covers different meanings. In this context though, it entered national security parlance when it appeared in ‘Unrestricted Warfare’ – written on military strategy in the late 1990s by two PLA officers who used the term to refer to a nation’s use of legalized international institutions to achieve strategic ends.
But ‘lawfare’ also applies to the challenge we have encountered in recent campaigns where we need to update our legal, ethical and moral framework to properly hold our forces to account if they break the law, while ensuring they have appropriate freedom of action to seize fleeting opportunities on the battlefield.
The COVID crisis has highlighted how the use of propaganda, data misuse, disinformation, and strategic influence is presenting complex and rapidly evolving challenges for researchers, civil society, and of course for policymakers. And our autocratic rivals have utilised these techniques most effectively. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute is tracking how a range of actors are manipulating the information environment to exploit the COVID-19 crisis for strategic gain – including pro-Russian vaccine politics whose disinformation narratives are designed to permeate anti-vaccination social media groups.
Russia has used cyber and information attacks against its opponents regularly in the last few years. Notable examples included Ukraine’s financial and energy sectors in 2017 and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2018. Iran and North Korea are following suit. And the online national security forum ‘War on the Rocks’ in their ‘Digital Authoritarianism’ series highlight Russia’s hack-and-leak, ‘kompromat’ operations and the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency troll farm which engages in sowing division abroad.
The WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017 demonstrated how an attacker could rapidly achieve a global effect by spreading a virus through computers operating Microsoft Windows, holding user’s files hostage, and demanding a Bitcoin ransom in return.
This idea of ‘Digital Authoritarianism’ also explores how the Chinese Communist Party is forging a future of mass surveillance and ‘social credit scores’ and is rapidly exporting these tools to other parts of the world. The recent Netflix documentary – A Social Dilemma – describes the way in which online interaction is subliminally influenced leading to the audience becoming unwittingly controlled.
Proxies, private military and security companies (PMCs) and militias are back in fashion as well. The recent report by the US Center for Strategic and International Studies on the expansion of Russian PMCs into security vacuums in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia is worth reflecting on.
Using companies, like the Wagner Group, Moscow can support state and non-state partners, extract resources, influence foreign leaders, and do so with plausible denial. Their military skills and capabilities lend a form of limited power projection, strengthening partners, establishing new military footholds, and altering regional balances to achieve strategic advantage. CSIS estimates that operations like these are underway in 30 countries across some four continents.
Our rivals typically tailor their activities to remain below obvious detection and response thresholds, and they often rely on the speed, volume and ubiquity of digital technology that characterizes the present age. And with an increased emphasis on creativity, ambiguity, and amplifying the cognitive elements of war, while dialling down the physical elements. Their way of warfare is strategic, it is synchronized and systematic – and our response must be too.
None of our rivals can afford to go to war as we define it. They want to win below that threshold. However, the stakes are high, the traditional diplomatic instruments that have provided some measure of arms control and counter-proliferation have all but disappeared, with the last arms control treaty, New START potentially ending next February.
The upshot is that the threat of unwarranted escalation and therefore miscalculation between military protagonists is now clear and present. And as the competition for resources, bases and partners intensifies so the risks increase.
The Horn of Africa is a case in point. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute sets out the growth of foreign military bases and a build-up of naval forces in the region since 2001 when the focus was on counterterrorism, counter piracy and of course peace support operations in the wake of 9/11. Currently a wide variety of international security actors operate there — from Europe, the United States, the Middle East, the Gulf, and Asia and international networks of military facilities and naval deployments together link the Horn to security developments in the Middle East and the Gulf, the Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific, as well as in other parts of Africa. The level of military engagement is matched in the Eastern Mediterranean where the potential for misunderstanding is significant.
And, as we look down the barrel of a global recession it’s worth reflecting on how often financial crises lead to security crises.
So, what should be our response to this ever more complex and dynamic strategic context? My view is that more of the same will not be enough. We must fundamentally change our thinking if we are not to be overwhelmed.
Hence we are launching this Integrated Operating Concept. It has several big ideas:
First of all, it makes a distinction between ‘operating’ and ‘war-fighting’. In an era of persistent competition our deterrent posture needs to be more dynamically managed and modulated. This concept therefore introduces a fifth ‘c’ – that of competition – to the traditional deterrence model of comprehension, credibility, capability and communication. This recognises the need to compete below the threshold of war in order to deter war, and to prevent one’s adversaries from achieving their objectives in fait accompli strategies. As we have seen in the Crimea, Ukraine, Libya and further afield.
Competing involves a campaign posture that includes continuous operating on our terms and in places of our choosing. This requires a mindset that thinks in several dimensions to escalate and deescalate up and down multiple ladders – as if it were a spider’s web. One might actively constrain in the cyber domain to protect critical national infrastructure in the maritime Domain.
This campaign posture must be dynamically managed and there must be a preparedness to allocate consistent means over longer term horizons, while adjusting the ways to anticipate a rival’s response. The ways will include actions being communicated in a manner that may well test the traditional limits of statecraft.
This posture will be engaged and forward deployed – armed forces much more in use rather than dedicated solely for contingency – with training and exercising being delivered as operations. It will involve capacity building and engagement in support of countries that need our support. This could include partnered operations against common threats – particularly violent extremism. And this may involve combat operations.
It will also place a premium on building alliances and improving interoperability to make us more ‘allied by design’ and thus able to burden share more productively.
It is important to emphasise that the willingness to commit decisively hard capability with the credibility to war fight is an essential part of the ability to operate and therefore of deterrence.
The second important idea is that we cannot afford any longer to operate in silos – we have to be integrated: with allies as I have described, across Government, as a national enterprise, but particularly across the military instrument. Effective integration of maritime, land, air, space and cyber achieves a multi-Domain effect that adds up to far more than simply the sum of the parts – recognising – to paraphrase Omar Bradley – that the overall effect is only as powerful as the strength of the weakest Domain.
And third we have to modernise. We must chart a direction of travel from an industrial age of platforms to an information age of systems.
Warfare is increasingly about a competition between hiding and finding. It will be enabled at every level by a digital backbone into which all sensors, effectors and deciders will be plugged. This means that some industrial age capabilities will increasingly have to meet their sunset to create the space for capabilities needed for sunrise. The trick is how you find a path through the night. We know this will require us to embrace combinations of information-centric technologies. But predicting these combinations will be challenging.
We will have to take risk, accept some failure and place emphasis on experimentation by allocating resources, force structure, training and exercise activity to stimulate innovation in all lines of development, with a responsive commercial function at the leading edge. This will enable adaptive exploitation as opportunities become clear and allow better financial control.
Throughout we must recognise that the nature of war doesn’t change – it is always visceral, it is always violent, and it always involves interaction between people, in the final analysis one has to go close and personal with one’s enemy. So, while this Integrated Operating Concept places a premium on operating, it also places a premium on adaptability – the ability to adapt to war fight. And this in turn emphasises the importance of our people – who have always been, and always will be, our adaptive edge. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
29 Sep 20. NATO launches latest Bulgarian air policing mission. NATO has begun its latest round of policing of Bulgarian airspace, with six Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft of the US Air Force (USAF) flying out of Graf Ignatievo Air Base in the country.
The recommencement of air patrols on 28 September is part of NATO’s wider enhanced presence in Europe that includes the Baltic and Southern (Bulgaria and Romania) air policing missions that were either strengthened or launched in response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014. The six F-16s from the USAF’s 555th Fighter Squadron, normally based at Aviano Air Base in Italy, will conduct their mission alongside MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ fighters of the Bulgarian Air Force.
This latest Bulgarian air policing mission follows earlier stints by USAF Boeing F-15C Eagles in 2016 and Italian Air Force Eurofighters in 2017. Controlled by Headquarters Air Command (HQ AIRCOM), located in Ramstein, Germany, the enhanced air policing missions are directed by one of two combined air operation centres (CAOCs). (Source: Jane’s)
28 Sep 20. Airbus Zephyr drone broke up because of unstable weather conditions – ATSB. An Airbus SE high-altitude surveillance and communications drone broke up in flight after its launch in September 2019 because of unstable weather conditions, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said on Monday.
It was the second consecutive failed flight for the Zephyr programme from a launch site in northwest Australia, the ATSB said in a report.
Airbus’ Zephyr drone, which weighs about 65kg (143lbs), is hand launched by a crew of four or five. It is designed to linger at an altitude of about 70,000 feet (21km) for months at a time for surveillance or to provide a temporary boost to communications.
ATSB said that about an hour after the September 2019 launch from an Airbus facility, the Zephyr unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) unexpectedly turned several times when climbing through 8,000 feet above sea level.
“The UAV self-recovered from the first two uncommanded turns, however, the third upset resulted in the aircraft entering an uncontrolled spiral descent,” the ATSB report said. “Despite attempts to return to controlled flight, the UAV sustained an in-flight break-up.”
The investigation found the Zephyr drone entered an area of unstable atmospheric conditions that the aircraft could not fly through. Both wings fractured and then separated, according to a camera mounted on the drone.
ATSB said this was the first Zephyr launch from the site since its initial flight in March 2019. Airbus last year said that flight, for the British Ministry of Defence, had been “interrupted” because of adverse weather conditions.
ATSB said on Monday that the March 2019 launch was an accident that resulted in a crash, but that there were no injuries or damage to infrastructure.
The Zephyr programme had used launch sites in Arizona and Dubai before the Australian base opened in late 2018.
ATSB said Airbus had conducted an investigation resulting in several safety recommendations after the accidents in Australia, including the development of tools capable of forecasting local weather to the higher accuracy and resolution required.
“Following the September 2019 incident, Airbus conducted a thorough internal investigation, in addition to the ATSB, and both reports find the same primary factor that the Zephyr entered unstable environmental conditions which resulted in loss of the aircraft,” an Airbus representative said in an email. “We have made several changes since September 2019 and are testing these in our flight programme this year.” (Source: Reuters)
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