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04 Oct 18. U.S. Could Help Pacific Allies Build Capabilities, Navy Undersecretary Says. The United States can help Pacific island nations with security needs, Navy Undersecretary Thomas B. Modly told the Defense Writers Group here today. Modly just finished a trip through the island nations of Oceania. The trip involved stops in Kiribati and its capital on the island of Tarawa. He also visited Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia and the U.S. island of Guam. The area is vast, he said, and there was hardly an island that was not a battlefield during World War II. The undersecretary said he was sobered by the scale of sacrifice and the scale of distance.
“The vastness of the region is matched by the vastness of the issues and the challenges we have in trying to keep it secure,” he said.
Modly met with civilian and military officials in each nation, as well as U.S. representatives. “The overarching theme I got from the government officials I met with there were the paramount value of freedom of navigation and the protection of their economic zones,” he said.
The land area in Oceania is small, but the economic zones are huge, and they are 80 percent water, he said. “They are very far flung,” he added.
The officials are also very clear about their desires to maintain a strong relationship with the United States, Modly said. The United States developed relations with the nations – many of them colonial possessions at the time – during World War II. Those continued through the Cold War to today. But things have changed, he told the defense writers, and the United States is no longer the only major power operating in the area now.
Expanded Chinese Influence
China is exerting influence into Oceania, he noted. “There is no question China is becoming much more assertive in the region,” he said. “They are looking for a variety of different ways to expand their influence. The Chinese government is making investments tied to loans, as well as grants.”
These projects are largely around infrastructure – extension of runways and construction of buildings and a conference center. “It is apparent they are there and plan to stay there for the long term,” he said.
The United States, Australia and New Zealand have a strong partnership in the region, and the moves in the area are complementary. “From my perspective,” Modly said, “it is critical to reinforce these partnerships and look for opportunities to help these nations.”
One opportunity, he said, is to invest in developing capabilities to use, patrol and police their vast watery economic zones. The countries do not have navies, and their coast guards are limited as well. Modly suggested that the United States could work with these nations to develop fusion centers that channel all sorts of information where it is needed and when it is needed. This information could be as simple as weather reports and fishing information or could be warnings about incursions by illegal fishing ships.
The nations don’t have large populations. Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets could give them an unmanned way to search their territory and only have patrol boats go out when they are needed, the Navy undersecretary said.
“It’s a pretty modest investment, and the technology is so good right now that it would be helpful,” he told the writers. (Source: US DoD)
04 Oct 18. US arm of Polish WB Group makes debut. The 2018 AUSA annual meeting and exposition will include first-time exhibitor WB America. The new company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of WB Group, a 22-year-old business that has served as a key contributor to the technological transformation of the Polish Army and its defense sector. The parent company is known for designing and manufacturing state-of-the-art systems that integrate communications, unmanned aerial systems, loitering munitions and fire control subsystems into robust and agile integrated solutions.
‘We’re more than just a systems integrator,’ said Jim Curtin, president of WB America. ‘We create solutions.’
Noting that WB systems ‘have been deployed in the field since 2002,’ Curtin says that the company plans to use the AUSA event ‘to highlight [the company’s] capability as it relates to artillery systems and fire control.’
‘There is a request for information that many people are pursuing right now called Future Indirect Fire Turret (FIFT),’ Curtin explained.
‘In that case the US is looking for a turreted 120mm mortar system that is fully autonomous, meaning you tell it where to shoot; it loads itself; it aims; and it shoots. It also has a sustained rate of fire, so you can autonomously say, “I want eight rounds in this location.” The requirement also asks for MRSI – Multiple Rounds Simultaneous Impact.
‘Why do we think that we are in a good position for this? Well, we already have a 120mm turret deployed in Poland on a vehicle called the Rak. We’re not quite where the US is looking for sustained rate of fire, but we are at eight rounds. Our MRSI is three rounds. We are already fully autonomous. We have already done all of this,’ he said.
Curtin added: ‘the reason we have already done all of this because in Eastern Europe the Russians know how to locate a battery very quickly. So we have always been in a situation in that operating environment where you be as quiet as you can, electronically, you get a target package, you light up and take your shot, and then you move before the counterfire takes you out.
‘We’ve set that standard in Poland,’ he said. ‘We are already there.’
Curtin said he expects that the company’s AUSA exhibit will include ‘data sheets and white papers covering the RAK and what we call Krab, which is a self-propelled 155mm howitzer. And I anticipate that we will also have some other vehicle examples, like Langusta 1 and 2 multiple rocket launcher, and the Daisy, which is basically an anti-UAV rocket launcher system. ‘Poland has been a great partner to the US, and vice versa,’ he concluded. ‘We have already developed a lot of expertise in what the US is trying to do. And we want to be a part of that.’ (Source: Shephard)
03 Oct 18. U.S. military comes to grips with over-reliance on Chinese imports. A Pentagon-led review ordered by President Donald Trump has identified hundreds of instances where the U.S. military depends on foreign countries, especially China, for critical materials, U.S. officials said. The study is expected to be released in the coming weeks and aims to lessen the U.S. military’s reliance on foreign countries and strengthen U.S. industry. Among the study’s conclusions will be a determination the United States is too dependent on foreign suppliers for a range of items including some micro-electronics, tiny components such as integrated circuits and transistors, the officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity. These kinds of essential components are embedded in advanced electronics used in everything from satellites and cruise missiles to drones and cellphones.
The focus on China reflects an effort under Trump to address the risks to U.S. national security from Beijing’s growing military and economic clout. Pentagon officials want to be sure China is not able to hobble America’s military by cutting off supplies of materials or by sabotaging technology it exports. The report could add to mounting trade tensions with China, bolstering the Trump administration’s “Buy American” initiative, which aims to help drum up billions of dollars more in arms sales for U.S. manufacturers and create more jobs.
Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman, did not comment on the contents of the report but told Reuters the study would make recommendations “to ensure a robust, resilient, secure and ready manufacturing and defence industrial base.”
China, which has also become the main supplier of many of the rare earth minerals used by the United States, will be given special emphasis in the report, said the officials who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
A January analysis here from the United States Geological Survey said the United States produced no rare earth minerals in 2017 while China accounted for 81 percent of global mine production. Rare earth minerals are used in magnets, radars and consumer electronics.
Aside from the risk that a foreign power could cut off vital supplies needed to keep the U.S. military up and running, other risks include the threat of sabotaged equipment or espionage.
The Pentagon has long fretted that “kill switches” could be embedded in transistors that could turn off sensitive U.S. systems in a conflict. U.S. intelligence officials also warned this year about the possibility China could use Chinese-made mobile phones and network equipment to spy on Americans. When the study is released, it will not provide a detailed inventory of all of the weaknesses in the supply chain. These will be in a classified annex.
A U.S. official said the report will also examine U.S. shortcomings that contribute to purchases from foreign companies, including roller-coaster U.S. defence budgets that make it difficult for companies to predict government demand. Another weakness is in U.S. science and technology education.
BOLSTERING U.S. INDUSTRY
Advocates of the study say it is a late but critical look at ways to address America’s loss of manufacturing, whose toll on national security gets far less attention than the jobs lost, and the political wave that it created in rust-belt states that helped elect Trump president in 2016.
“People used to think you could outsource the manufacturing base without any repercussions (on national security). But now we know that’s not the case,” said one U.S. official familiar with the report, speaking on condition of anonymity.
One aspect of the report’s recommendation is expected to be ensuring profitability for niche U.S. producers of critical components in American weaponry.
Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, has publicly spoken in recent weeks about the Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950, which allows the U.S. president to incentivise domestic producers of critical materials through purchase commitments and other guarantees. Lord said the government should step in to offer such support if businesses would be unable to ensure a “reasonable profit.”
The U.S. Government Accountability Office offered one example in a report last year about how the U.S. military had to fund a U.S. factory in 2014 to produce the chemical Butanetriol, used in the Hellfire air-to-surface missile. For the previous six years, the military relied on China for the chemical. (Source: Reuters)
02 Oct 18. Dunford: Russia, China Pose Similar Challenges to U.S., Rules-Based Order. The challenges the United States sees from Russia and China are similar because both have studied the America way of war, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford is here visiting Spanish officials after attending the NATO Military Committee meeting in Warsaw, Poland, over the weekend. The bottom line for the United States and the country’s greatest source of strength strategically “is the network of allies we’ve built up over 70 years,” Dunford told reporters traveling with him. At the operational level, he added, the U.S. military’s advantage is the ability to deploy forces anywhere they are needed in a timely manner and then sustain them.
“Russia has studied us since 1990,” Dunford said. “They looked at us in 2003. They know how we project power.”
Russian leaders are trying to undermine the credibility of the U.S. ability to meet its alliance commitments and are seeking to erode the cohesion of the NATO alliance, he said.
Russia has devoted serious money to modernizing its military, the chairman noted, and that covers the gamut from its nuclear force to command and control to cyber capabilities. “At the operational level, their goal is to field capabilities that challenge our ability to project power into Europe and operate freely across all domains,” Dunford said. “We have to operate freely in sea, air and land, as we did in the past, but now we also must operate [freely] in cyberspace and space.”
The nature of war has not changed, but the character of war has. The range of weapon systems has increased. There has been a proliferation of anti-ship cruise missiles and land-to-land attack missiles. Cyber capabilities, command and control capabilities and electronic warfare capabilities have grown.
Great Power Competition
These are the earmarks of the new great power competition. Russia is the poster child, but China is using the same playbook, the chairman said.
“What Russia is trying to do is … exactly what China is trying to do vis-a-vis our allies and our ability to project power,” Dunford said. “In China, what we are talking about is an erosion of the rules-based order. The United States and its allies share the commitment to a free and open Pacific. That is going to require coherent, collective action.”
Against Russia, the United States and its NATO allies have a framework in place around which they can build: a formal alliance structure allows the 29 nations to act as one, Dunford said.
However, he added, a similar security architecture is not in place in the Pacific.
The United States has treaties with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand. Politically and economically, the United States works with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“I see the need for all nations with an interest in the rules-based architecture to take collective action,” Dunford said. “The military dimension is a small part of this issue, and it should be largely addressed diplomatically and economically.”
He said the military dimension is exemplified by freedom of navigation operations, in which 22 nations participated with more than 1,500 operations in the past year. “These are normal activities designed to show we will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and not allow illicit claims to become de facto,” the chairman said. (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
01 Oct 18. Dunford Pleased DOD Enters Fiscal 2019 With Budget. For the first time in a long time, the Defense Department entered the fiscal year with a budget, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said troops should be extremely pleased with the development.
“What the troops have seen is a commitment from the executive and legislative branches of government to give them the wherewithal to do their jobs,” Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said during an interview with reporters traveling with him.
President Donald J. Trump signed the appropriations bill on Friday meaning the Defense Department starts fiscal year 2019 with money in the bank. The president signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act in August. Both bills must be passed before DOD can operate. Defense leaders had made the case for the budget through “identifying the challenges we face and also the demonstrated performance of our men and women in uniform every day,” Dunford said. Congress understood that the U.S. military needs these capabilities, “and we can be entrusted to make good use of them.”
His message to Congress and the American people this year is for an appropriate, sustained level of funding. “It took us years to get into this problem and you don’t spend money efficiently, you don’t spend money as good steward, if you lurch from year to year,” he said. “You can’t plan a program and develop capabilities over time.”
Predictability will allow the department to build effective partnerships with industry. This will allow companies to deliver capabilities on time and on cost.
“We need to have predictability to properly prioritize what we are going to invest in,” he said. “Every year, no matter how big the budget is, you have to make choices. We are much better at making choices if we are informed by a three-to five-year look ahead and predict what level of funding we will have.” (Source: US DoD)
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