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15 Feb 19. DOD Statement on the President’s Declaration of a National Emergency on the Southern Border. DOD statement on the president’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border:
The president has declared a national emergency on the southern border. The president invoked sections 12302, 284(b)(7), and 2808 of Title 10, U.S. Code, and requires the use of the armed forces to respond to this emergency through support to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its efforts to secure the southern border.
10 U.S.C., Section 12302 (Activation of the Ready Reserve) authorizes involuntary activation of the Ready Reserve, which includes members who, when mobilized, perform a federal mission at the direction of the secretary of defense.
10 U.S.C., Section 284(b)(7) (Counterdrug Support) authorizes DOD to support the counterdrug activities of other federal agencies, including DHS, with the construction of roads, fences, and lighting to block drug smuggling corridors across international boundaries. DOD will review and respond appropriately to any request for assistance received from DHS.
Per 10 U.S.C., Section 2808 (Military Construction (MILCON)), this declaration of a national emergency at the southern border requiring the use of the armed forces authorizes the secretary of defense to determine whether border barriers are necessary to support the use of the armed forces and to re-direct unobligated DOD MILCON funding to construct border barriers if required.
15 Feb 19. Taking sides: Italian defense industry rep attacks Franco-German fighter deal. Plans by France and Germany to team up on a next-generation fighter are an affront to Italy and will weaken the European Union, according to the head of an Italian defense industry association.
In a strong attack on the Future Air Combat System, or FCAS, deal, Guido Crosetto told Defense News that Italy would seek closer ties with the U.K. as a consequence, despite the U.K.’s pending exit from the EU.
“The fighter deal between Germany and France leaves all others on the margins. And since the only other country with equal industrial capabilities is Italy, the deal is clearly against Italy,” he said.
“Have France and Germany tried to get the Italy involved? It doesn’t look that way,” he added. “Additionally, if two European stakeholders strike deals together, how should the others react? This risks weakening the EU, while giving more justification to those trying to weaken the EU.”
Crosetto is the head of the Italian defense industry association AIAD.
After signing to pursue a joint fighter last year, France and Germany this month awarded home players Airbus and Dassault a first contract for a concept study worth €65m (U.S. $73m), while Safran Aircraft Engines and MTU Aero Engines announced a partnership to supply propulsion.
The FCAS program covers both manned and unmanned aircraft, which are due in service from 2040 to replace French Rafale fighters and Eurofighters currently flown by Germany.
Showing that Paris and Berlin do want additional partners, Spain signed up Feb. 14, stating it would become an equal partner on the program.
But in the belief that Germany and France will call the shots, Crosetto said Italy would do well to sign up with the U.K. to work on the British future fighter known as Tempest.
“A jilted partner has the right to look around for other partners, and the U.K. has asked us to join Tempest,” he said.
Italy’s junior defense minister, Angelo Tofalo, said in December that the country “needed to enter the program immediately.”
Crosetto said he was not alarmed by the potential difficulty of doing business with the U.K. if and when it leaves the European customs union, which is due to happen this year. The split will be a headache for Italy’s defense champion Leonardo, which owns facilities in the U.K. and would spearhead Italy’s work on Tempest.
“Brexit would mean more red tape for Leonardo but would not be a difficulty — the Italy-U.K. relationship would remain very positive,” he said.
As Germany and France signal progress on FCAS, they are also drawing closer politically in the face of Brexit and the rise of populist governments in Europe, including in Italy.
Last month, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told Italian daily Corriere della Sera he was upset by France’s offer to Germany to get it a permanent seat at the U.N. Security Council, despite long-term plans in Europe to give a new seat to the EU, and not to an individual country.
Italy is already involved in a row with France over migrant quotas and Italian support for the gilet jaunes protesters in France, which have targeted the government of Emmanuel Macron.
Crosetto said the current rift with Paris was not a cause of Italy’s being sidelined on the fighter deal. “That predates the recent rows,” he said.
The new Franco-German tie-up suggests the two countries will now look to work together on joint programs that can draw on cash made available by the new European Defence Fund, possibly isolating Italy.
Crosetto said the Italian government was now obliged to invest more heavily in Italy’s defense industry to make it more competitive and better able to grab slices of the funding.
“Industry now needs the government to invest more,” he said.
(Source: Defense News)
15 Feb 19. Defense Innovation Board to Meet March 21.
(84 Fed. Reg. 4454) – The U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of the Secretary has announced that the Defense Innovation Board will meet in open session on Thursday, March 21, 2019, 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM EST, the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia The public meeting will be live streamed for those who are unable to physically attend the meeting. Members of the public wishing to attend the meeting or wanting to receive a link to the live stream webcast should register on the DIB website, http://innovation.defense.gov, no later than March 18, 2019.During the meeting, the DIB will receive a presentation from the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. The Science and Technology subcommittee will discuss their work on principles for the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence and their study on the viability of 5G capability for DoD. The Workforce Behavior and Culture subcommittee will discuss career paths and their work plan for calendar year 2019. The DIB will also receive a progress update on the Software Acquisition and Practices (SWAP) study directed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (“the FY18 NDAA'” and deliberate on the working draft of the study. Additionally, Mr. Joshua Marcuse, on behalf of DoD, will brief the DIB on DoD’s latest implementation activities related to DIB recommendations. (Source: glstrade.com)
15 Feb 19. America’s greatest advantage against China is slowly eroding. For several years, Pentagon officials have been sounding the alarm about China’s growing military abilities, with a particular focus on how Beijing has closed the technology gap between the two nations. But when discussing that, officials and experts often also note that the U.S. remains ahead in a key capability: training and doctrine for its war fighters. It’s the way American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines can think on the fly and make decisions under pressure. It’s the ability for the branches to coordinate efforts across a battlefield, region or on a global scale.
“The greatest advantage that the US has at the moment over the PLA (the People’s Liberation Army) is that the U.S. has been working on doctrine, training, professionalization for a lot longer than the PLA, with actual experience to back it up,” said Meia Nouwens, a Chinese military expert with the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
But PLA leadership is aware of its shortcomings, and Chinese officials have previously been open about the need to improve training. For instance, a Feb. 5 article published in the South China Morning Post quoted a retired Chinese naval officer as saying: “Some people hold the view that our military planes are more advanced than others. But if we look at the level of training of our forces … we are not at the same level [as others] yet.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a series of military reforms to try and force more joint operations and planning — reforms that could lead to the PLA becoming a more formidable force.
That assessment is shared, at least in part, by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, which in January released a new report on China’s military power.
A senior DIA official, briefing reporters, acknowledged that China is dramatically closing the gap when it comes to technology, but noted “there is more than just technology involved; there’s experience, there’s experience, there is command structure, there is training, there is proficiency.”
“I think there will be significant growing pains, but they seem to have chosen a blueprint for how they want to move forward to be what they consider an advanced military,” the DIA official said. “But it’ll take some time.”
Just how much time? That’s hard to pin down, according to analysts. But the consensus seems to be that the PLA will have reformed itself sometime in the next two decades into a force capable of joint operations.
“They’ve been talking about joint operations for a long time, but some of is it just now sort of being implemented. And it will take a while for them to be able to work these services together, to be able to work these joint theaters and to be able to deal with a large, complex operation,” the official added. “So I think in a lot of ways, they have a lot that they need to do.”
But technology and money matter in the equation. Per IISS figures, China’s official defense budget grew in real terms by 10 percent on average, year over year between 1998 and 2018. Much of that was invested in the PLA Navy and the PLA Air Force, as well as toward innovations in space, cyber and cutting-edge capabilities like artificial intelligence.
That’s something for the U.S. to watch closely, said Nouwens.
“The bottom line is that no matter where you think the PLA are outmatched, the most important thing to realize is that the PLA and its leadership are fully aware of where they need to improve,” she said. “And they’re throwing massive resources at fixing their weaknesses.”
Experience still counts
PLA leadership isn’t shy about watching and learning from the U.S. military, and China watchers say Beijing tracks how the U.S. military operates. But Roy Kamphausen, senior vice president for research with the National Bureau of Asian Research, says China may never be able to fully close that gap without getting directly involved in conflict.
“This is an area of great advantage for the United States. It’s not that we have a unique way to prosecute war that is a secret from the rest of the world and therefore — irrespective of system capabilities or any other independent variable — we would win because we have great doctrine. It’s that we have doctrine that is actually being tested in combat,” Kamphausen said.
“I don’t think we can overstate how critical a factor this is. I’m not arguing that we ought to fight wars just because it gives us an advantage of war fighting, but no other military achieves a comparable set of effects in leveraging effective command and control to implement doctrine using the advanced capabilities it has and making the most of the highly trained set personnel.”
While agreeing China has fallen behind because of a lack of external conflicts since the 1970s, Nouwens warned it “would be naive and wrong to assume that just because the Chinese haven’t fought a war, they’re not learning.”
“The PLA and its leadership keenly watch for lessons learned from other countries’ wars — and so, too, are learning from U.S. experiences in the Middle East, for example. Furthermore, joint exercises between the PLA and other militaries, such as the Vostok exercises with Russia, are also used to learn and gain experience during peacetime.”
She added that in drills, high-ranking officers are rewarded for taking risks, and there is anecdotal evidence that low-ranking officers are being given greater decision-making rights — potentially eroding that aspect of America’s advantage.
So would China be willing to get involved in a conflict in the next two decades to test its doctrine?
Neither Nouwens nor Kamphausen see China seeking out a major power conflict in the near term. But there may be options for something smaller in China’s backyard, whether over a long-simmering conflict with Japan over the Senkaku Islands, or with the long-sought apple of Beijing’s eye: Taiwan.
The DIA official said that while China could devastate Taiwan today with ground-based cruise missiles, the PLA appears unconvinced China’s armed forces are up for an invasion and occupation. However, the official did say China is approaching the point where officers are more willing to consider an invasion — a major milestone for the PLA.
Kamphausen said he was “quite taken” by that DIA statement, noting it is a change in the long-standing American view about the PLA’s internal judgments on readiness. But still, he predicted, China will try to avoid any direct conflict with the U.S. for some time, even if it is in Beijing’s regional sphere of influence.
“In specific scenarios, usually closer in to China, they can imagine a context in which the PLA Navy and ground-based or land-based missile systems could create a strike effect which could devastate or defeat a U.S. naval task group, in a specific set of limited circumstances,” he said. “But this begs the question as to what comes next. The PLA is really good at conducting pre-conflict ‘strategic assessment of the situation,’ and they will surely judge that the U.S. would respond in a very robust way to an initial PLA strike.
“As a consequence, I’m not of the view that they are gunning for early war with the U.S. I don’t see how it supports their broader developmental goals because the stakes are so high for the [Communist] Party that to pick a fight with the U.S. that they could well lose puts the regime at risk.”
Added Nouwens: “China’s goal of regional power is set for 2035, while a more global role is envisioned by 2049. Other than a potential Taiwan scenario, there is no real pressing need for the Chinese to be a military peer competitor with the U.S. just yet.”
13 Feb 19. U.S. Revives Secret Program to Sabotage Iranian Missiles and Rockets. The Trump White House has accelerated a secret American program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets, according to current and former administration officials, who described it as part of an expanding campaign by the United States to undercut Tehran’s military and isolate its economy. Officials said it was impossible to measure precisely the success of the classified program, which has never been publicly acknowledged. But in the past month alone, two Iranian attempts to launch satellites have failed within minutes.
Those two rocket failures — one that Iran announced on Jan. 15 and the other, an unacknowledged attempt, on Feb. 5 — were part of a pattern over the past 11 years. In that time, 67 percent of Iranian orbital launches have failed, an astonishingly high number compared to a 5 percent failure rate worldwide for similar space launches.
The setbacks have not deterred Iran. This week, President Hassan Rouhani singled out Tehran’s missile fleets as he vowed to “continue our path and our military power.”
The Trump administration maintains that Iran’s space program is merely a cover for its attempts to develop a ballistic missile powerful enough to send nuclear warheads flying between continents.
Hours after the Jan. 15 attempt, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo notedthat Iran’s satellite launchers have technologies “virtually identical and interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles.”
Mr. Pompeo is in Warsaw this week with Vice President Mike Pence to lead a meeting of 65 nations on encouraging stability in the Middle East, including by expanding economic sanctions against Iran. It is largely an appeal to European allies who, while continuing to oppose President Trump’s decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, also agree that the missile tests must stop.
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran in 2017 in Tehran at an exhibition of the country’s achievements in space technology. The launch failures prompted The New York Times to seek out more than a half-dozen current and former government officials who have worked on the American sabotage program over the past dozen years. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the covert program.
The officials described a far-reaching effort, created under President George W. Bush, to slip faulty parts and materials into Iran’s aerospace supply chains. The program was active early in the Obama administration, but had eased by 2017, when Mr. Pompeo took over as the director of the C.I.A. and injected it with new resources.
Tehran is already suspicious. Even before Mr. Trump withdrew last May from the nuclear accord, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran’s missile program, accused American and allied intelligence agencies of turning their campaigns of “infiltration and sabotage” to Iran’s missile complex from its atomic infrastructure.
“They want to repeat their nuclear sabotage in the missile area,” he told Iranian state television in 2016, vowing the program will never stop “under any circumstances.”
The C.I.A. declined to comment on the sabotage efforts. Government officials asked The Times to withhold some details of its reporting, mostly involving the identities of specific suppliers to the Iranian program, because the effort is continuing.
Because there are so many things that can stymie a launch — from bad timing to bad welding to bad luck — some of Iran’s troubles, aerospace experts warned, could well be the result of normal malfunctions.
Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran’s missile program, has said that Iran’s pursuit of missiles will never stop “under any circumstances.”
Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran’s missile program, has said that Iran’s pursuit of missiles will never stop “under any circumstances.”CreditMahmood Hossein/Tasnim News Agency, via Wikimedia Commons
But the recent rise in failures suggests the effort to subvert Iran’s space launches and missile test flights, and the resulting flows of forensic information needed to lift performance, may now have intensified.
The covert actions against Iran’s missile and rocket program are being taken through countries and companies that supply Tehran’s aerospace operations. French and British officials have joined the United States in calling for ways to counter Iran’s missile program.
At the Pentagon last month to unveil a new missile defense strategy, Mr. Trump noted the Jan. 15 failed space launch. Had it succeeded, he said, it would have given Tehran “critical information” it could use “to pursue intercontinental ballistic missile capability, and a capability, actually, of reaching the United States.”
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“We’re not going to have that happen,” Mr. Trump said. (Source: glstrade.com/New York Times.com)
09 Feb 19. Lockheed Gets Boost When Pentagon Labels Late F-35s as ‘On-Time.’ Lockheed Martin Corp. delivered 91 of its F-35 jets in 2018 as promised, but only 54 were “on-time” based on monthly contract targets — and 19 of those were reclassified from “late” in a settlement of production issues with the Pentagon. The tardy deliveries mark the fifth consecutive year in which Lockheed’s missed the monthly dates, which are different from annual targets agreed to with the Pentagon’s F-35 program office, according to the Defense Contract Management Agency.
The 91 deliveries were “an encouraging milestone” but Lockheed didn’t meet “all their monthly contracted delivery requirement dates,” Joe DellaVedova, the program office’s spokesman, said in an email. The office has developed a set of incentives for Lockheed “to further implement efficiencies to improve aircraft final assembly,” he said.
He said the change in categorizing the planes “was in no way an attempt by Lockheed Martin or the program office to ‘boost’ deliveries. The modification was part of a contract settlement action on other production-related issues.”
The fighter remains dogged by delivery delays and deficiencies as it heads into increased production. The F-35 entered the crucial one-year phase of intense combat testing required to proceed into full production with 917 unresolved deficiencies, 15 of which are regarded as “must-fix” potential safety or combat capabilities problems. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Bloomberg News)
08 Feb 19. Army Realigning $25bn to Fund Modernization Priorities. The Army’s fiscal year 2020 budget request will reflect its intent to reduce, eliminate or delay programs in favor of its top modernization priorities, according to the service’s top civilian leader. In the 2020 budget blueprint — which is expected to be released mid-March — the service shifted “the dollars dramatically into the future next-generation projects defined by our cross-functional teams,” Army Secretary Mark Esper said Feb. 8 during a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. These priorities fall under the Army’s new Futures Command that was first announced in October 2017. They include: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, the network, air-and-missile defense and soldier lethality. Eight cross-functional teams were established to pursue these initiatives. Esper said there are at least 31 programs that fall under these categories. The service met its goal of developing a five-year spending plan that realigns $25bn to fund the highest-priority modernization efforts, Esper told reporters after the panel. These types of funding shifts will be part of a long-term trend, he suggested.
“This is going to be a process that continues on and on,” Esper said. “We’ve got to keep sharp pencils and constantly look to the future because dollars are tight. Congress is watching. We need to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ generosity. We need a plan for the future. We cannot cling to the past.”
Esper said he and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Miley assessed which programs and initiatives did not need additional funding. Some projects contained unnecessary upgrades, had a high production rate, or were too similar to systems they already had, he noted.
“There are no bad programs … [but] some are more important than others,” Esper said.
While these divestments are mostly focused on the acquisition budget, in the fall the service began to examine ways to realign training, installation, sustainment and personnel dollars for future years, he noted. Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said his service is also reviewing its portfolio to determine what systems it needs to acquire to modernize its force. The fiscal years 2018 and 2019 budgets helped set “the foundation for readiness,” he said during the panel. The Navy is trying to move fast to prepare for future fights.
“We have money, we have plans — we cannot buy time,” Spencer said. “That is the biggest stressing point that we have right now.”
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson noted the benefit of having appropriations bills passed on time for fiscal year 2019. The service was able to execute about 25 percent of its budget within the first quarter, she said.
“You’re able to do new-starts with programs,” she added. “The budget and the topline is important [but] getting it on time is important.” (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
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