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19 Apr 19. DoD/DSS Implements Section 842 of the NDAA. On April 10, 2019, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USD(I)) directed the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Security Service (DSS) to accelerate the implementation of Section 842 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019. Section 842 of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2019 allows the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), to waive the National Interest Determination (NID) requirement for a U.S. company operating under a special security agreement (SSA) if the company has:
- An “ultimate parent” located in a country that is part of the National Technology and Industrial Base (NTIB), as defined in section 2500 of Title 10, U.S. Code (Canada, Australia, or the United Kingdom);
- Previously been approved for access to proscribed information; and
- A “demonstrated successful record of compliance” with the National Industrial Security Program.
DSS has identified the legal entities that appear to meet the preliminary requirements of that statute and is in the process of reviewing those companies for a demonstrated successful record of compliance with the National Industrial Security Program. Within 30 days, DSS will provide USD(I) with recommendations for waivers of the requirement to obtain a NID prior to accessing proscribed information under the control and authority of the Secretary, which is limited to Special Access Program Information, Top Secret Information and, with the approval of the Director, National Security Agency, communications security information. (Source: glstrade.com)
16 Apr 19. Trump vetoes measure to end US involvement in Yemen war. President Donald Trump on Tuesday vetoed a resolution passed by Congress to end U.S. military assistance in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. The veto — the second in Trump’s presidency — was expected, and Congress lacks the votes to override it. But passing the never-before-used war powers resolution was viewed as a milestone for lawmakers, who have shown a renewed willingness to assert their war-making authority after letting it atrophy for decades under presidents from both parties.
“This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities, endangering the lives of American citizens and brave service members, both today and in the future,” Trump wrote in explaining his veto.
Congress has grown uneasy with Trump’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia as he tries to further isolate Iran, a regional rival.
Many lawmakers also criticized the president for not condemning Saudi Arabia for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the United States and had written critically about the kingdom. Khashoggi went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October and never came out. Intelligence agencies said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the killing.
The U.S. provides billions of dollars of arms to the Saudi-led coalition fighting against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen. Members of Congress have expressed concern about the thousands of civilians killed in coalition airstrikes since the conflict began in 2014. The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country also has left millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and has pushed the country to the brink of famine.
Trump said the measure was unnecessary because except for counterterrorism operations against Islamic State militants and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the United States is not engaged in hostilities in or affecting Yemen.
He said there were no U.S. military personnel in Yemen accompanying the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthis, although he acknowledged that the U.S. has provided limited support to the coalition, including intelligence sharing, logistics support, and — until recently — in-flight refueling of non-U.S. aircraft.
The president also said that the measure would harm bilateral relations and interferes with his constitutional power as commander in chief.
He said the U.S. is providing the support to protect the safety of more than 80,000 Americans who live in certain areas of the coalition countries subject to Houthi attacks from Yemen.
“Houthis, supported by Iran, have used missiles, armed drones and explosive boats to attack civilian and military targets in those coalition countries, including areas frequented by American citizens, such as the airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “In addition, the conflict in Yemen represents a ‘cheap’ and inexpensive way for Iran to cause trouble for the United States and for our ally, Saudi Arabia.”
House approval of the resolution came earlier this month on a 247-175 vote. The Senate vote last month was 54-46.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said that Trump’s veto “shows the world he is determined to keep aiding a Saudi-backed war that has killed thousands of civilians and pushed millions more to the brink of starvation.”
Kaine accused Trump of turning a blind eye to Khashoggi’s killing and the jailing of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
“I hope my colleagues will show we won’t tolerate the Trump administration’s deference to Saudi Arabia at the expense of American security interests by voting to override this veto,” Kaine said.
The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, acknowledged the dire situation in Yemen for civilians, but spoke out in opposition to the measure when it was passed. McCaul said it was an abuse of the War Powers Resolution and predicted it could disrupt U.S. security cooperation agreements with more than 100 countries.
Trump issued his first veto last month on legislation related to immigration. Trump had declared a national emergency so he could use more money to construct a border wall. Congress voted to block the emergency declaration and Trump vetoed that measure.
(Source: Defense News)
17 Apr 19. Air Force to Begin Shifting Research Funds to These Kinds of Next-Gen Weapons. The Pentagon’s continues to shift focus toward Moscow and Beijing with a new push for tomorrow’s drone swarms and smart missiles. Taking a page from Silicon Valley, the Air Force has set up a new way to fund science and technology in the areas it sees as most important to the race with China and Russia. To lead the effort the military service branch will create a new chief technology officer position to oversee the development of next-generation capabilities, the Air Force announced on Wednesday at the unveiling of the service’s new science and technology strategy for 2030.
The Air Force funds lots of research, much of it on a small scale: a bit of money here to develop a new antenna capability, a bit there to teach drones to do a new trick, or a bit more there to create a new type of space-age material. The research sometimes makes its way into a formal program of record or an actual new weapon, but at the beginning of the process there is no way to know.
The change: Air Force officials say they are setting aside $560m from it’s $2.8 billion science and technology budget to fund big projects, and all the little science and research efforts that go along with it. It’s similar to the way Google’s X Lab funds lots of different types of science and technology research around specific, big programs like flying cars or delivering broadband through balloons. In essence, it’s money to fund ambitious new projects from the ground up.
Right now, the Air Force has no specific idea what those big projects will be.
“The idea is to assess where our adversaries can’t easily go and get there first and fastest” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson explained at a briefing for reporters. The service has established five research areas, which they’re calling “vanguards,” where they think they can “cause complexity for an adversary… not just [conduct] foundational research,” said Wilson.
Those areas are:
Global Persistent Awareness. That includes satellites and sensors but also edge computing capabilities that can “autonomously analyze sensor data at the source, accelerates the speed of intelligence processing, and reduce the demand on communications networks,” officials write, in the strategy document.
Resilient Information Sharing. For years now, the Air Force and other services have been advancing future fighting concepts that sound a lot like massive, weaponized nervous systems, with every drone, jet, and soldier digitally connected to everything else. Building that network has proven a bit harder. The Air Force is looking to build new networks that can “autonomously share data of different types and classification levels across the Joint and Allied Forces. They will adjust gracefully to degradation and reconfigure and change in spectrum, as needed, to maintain connectivity,” officials say.
Rapid, Effective Decision-Making. Remember how HAL 9000 was supposed to co-pilot and manage the ship in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Air Force wants artificially-intelligent aids to help commanders and everybody else make decisions much faster. They’ll be aided by new research, not just in artificial intelligence and sub-domains like predictive analytics, but also the best way to get humans to interact with electronics and digital assistants.
It’s an area where the private sector is already sprinting ahead. But the Air Force can’t just crib off of what Apple is doing. A lot of the data that the Air Force uses comes from “unpredictable and uncertain physical environments, noisy and unstructured data from dissimilar sources, limited training data for machine learning, and the high levels of trust required to support lethal combat operations.”
Complexity, Unpredictability, and Mass. That means swarms, but also anything that can fight in the air that isn’t a $90m-dollar jet with a human pilot. “Swarms of low-cost, autonomous air and space systems can provide adaptability, rapid upgradability, and the capacity to absorb losses that manned systems cannot,” they say.
*Speed and Reach of Disruption and Lethality. That includes smarter missiles, new hypersonics, next generation cyber tools and anything else you can think of to penetrate highly complex air defenses like the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft radar and missile battery, or whatever comes after it.
The Air Force already has a chief technology officer, but that position handles the Air Force’s information technology efforts. The newly created CTO position will serve as a sort of new technology czar, so the Air Force will have an information technology CTO in the Office of Information Dominance and one in charge of vanguard efforts.
Wilson couldn’t say when the new CTO would be on the job, only that she had already signed the memorandum creating the position.
(Source: Defense One)
17 Apr 19. Drawing parallels: The build up for WWI and the 21st century’s carrier race. Naval power has always played a critical role in the way great powers interact. The decades leading up to the outbreak of the First World War saw an unprecedented competition between the UK and German Empire, with much of the emphasis placed on Dreadnought battleships echoing a similar, albeit smaller, naval arms race gathering steam between the US and China. At the beginning of the 20th century, the British Royal Navy was unrivalled in its ability to rule the waves. Maintaining this capability was the ‘two-power’ standard, which sought to ensure that the Royal Navy was at least the size of the next two largest competing navies. This naval might guaranteed the British economy’s access to vital raw resources and helped ensure that the “sun never set on the British Empire”.
In the distance, as France struggled to rebuild itself as a true competitor, the newly formed German Empire emerged as an economic, political and naval competitor to Britain. Driven by voracious consumer and economic demand, combined with a new sense of national purpose, Bismarck’s Germany rapidly became a European and global powerhouse in the decades following its formation in 1871.
Recognising the mounting challenge, the British Royal Navy launched HMS Dreadnought in 1906, effectively resetting the game and laying down the challenge to Germany and any other nation that sought to challenge the industrial, economic and naval might of the British Empire.
Fast forward to the the beginning of the 21st century and the US, following decades of the Cold War, remained the world’s largest and most powerful naval power. Commanding the seas through a vast fleet of technologically advanced surface vessels and submarines, with the mighty supercarrier serving as the epicentre of America’s global maritime hegemony.
However, America’s maritime hegemony is now being challenged by a rising power in China that is introducing a suite of maritime capabilities to rival the dominance of the US Navy, as history appears to be repeating itself in the 21st century.
Dreadnought battleships and aircraft carriers
The Anglo-German naval race was characterised by the pursuit of ever more powerful and complex battleships and, later, battlecruisers, then the pinnacle of naval power projection and national prestige. Dreadnought set the stage for the naval competition that would come to dominate the relationship between the Germany and Britain.
Successive appropriation bills championed by both British and German naval planners sought to keep the two nations in constant competition with one another. Between the completion of Dreadnought in 1906 and the outbreak of war in 1914, the Royal Navy successfully employed a fleet of 29 dreadnought battleships and nine battlecruisers, compared with Germany’s fleet of 17 dreadnought-battleships and seven battlecruisers.
This period of unprecedented naval build-up stretched the economic, financial and industrial capabilities of both competitors, often at the cost of the nations’ other branches of the armed forces.
Aircraft carriers emerged from the Second World War as the pinnacle of maritime prestige and power projection. However, unlike their predecessors, the battleship, aircraft carriers are in themselves relatively benign actors, relying heavily a their attached carrier air-wings and supporting escort fleets of cruisers, destroyers and submarines to screen them from hostile action.
Both the US and China continue to invest heavily in the potent power projection capabilities provided by aircraft carriers and large-deck amphibious warfare ships. While the US enjoys a substantial quantitative and qualitative lead over the Chinese People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLA-N), with a fleet of 11 nuclear powered supercarriers and two currently under construction, China’s strategic planners know that they don’t need to exercise global maritime hegemony in the way the US does.
In the Indo-Pacific, the US Navy currently has the following supercarriers either home port based, forward deployed or on operational deployment:
- USS Nimitz (CVN-68) – Bremerton, Washington – currently in dry dock;
- USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) – San Deigo, California – currently on operations off the coast of southern California;
- USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) – Bremerton, Washington – currently on operations in the eastern Pacific; and
- USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) – Yokosuka, Japan – currently on operations in the Philippine Sea.
Both the Nimitz and Gerald R Ford Class supercarriers are exceptionally potent power projection platforms, weighing in at 100,000 tonnes, supporting 85-90 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, including F/A-18 E/F and G series Super Hornets and Growlers, MH-60S/R Seahawk helicopters, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft and growing numbers of the fifth-generation F-35 ‘C’ carrier-based variant of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.
The PLA-N has focused its attention on building an aircraft carrier force focused on establishing and maintaining control of the vital sea-lines-of-communication in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, while also leveraging the powerful defensive anti-access/area denial networks provided by the vast network of reclaimed islands in the South China Sea.
The Chinese have successfully put to sea two aircraft carriers. The Liaoning (CV-16), the first Chinese carrier (Type 001), was commissioned in 2012 and provides a potent, 58,600 tonne, 304.5-metre platform capable of supporting an airwing of 40 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, including the Shenyang J-15, a Chinese variant of the Russian designed Su-33 Flanker D and a fleet of domestic support helicopters.
CV-17, the second Chinese carrier, was commissioned earlier this year as an enlarged variant of the Liaoningand is a 70,000-tonne, 315-metre vessel with a similar airwing capacity of 40 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
China has plans to see an expanded carrier force incorporating a large fleet of up to four nuclear-powered supercarriers expected to be similar in size and capability to the US Nimitiz and Ford Class carriers, supporting an airwing of between 70 and 100 fixed and rotary-wing aircraft that would serve as the mainstay of the Chinese naval force, focused on Chinese power projection and resource security.
Just the tip of the iceberg
While the naval race, driven by the pursuit of ever more powerful aircraft carrier platforms, is the most visible example of the ensuing arms race between the two global powers, China and America are currently in competition with one another, racing to develop a number of next generation platforms and technologies seeking to tip the tactical and strategic balance of power in their favour.
As part of this series we will take a closer look at key battlegrounds in the 21st century’s arms race, including the development of fifth-generation combat aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and J-20, advanced nuclear powered attack and ballistic missile submarines like the Columbia and Type 096, and the Virginia and Type 093 submarines.
Finally, we will also take a closer look at the development and introduction of new long-range strike platforms, including the B-21 Raider and China’s rumoured H-8 stealth strategic bomber, and long-range missile systems including the growing US arsenal of stand-off weaponry designed to counter A2AD networks and the Chinese DF-21 and broader Dong Feng series of ballistic missiles. (Source: Defence Connect)
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