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22 Aug 19. New Naval Operations Chief Commits to Alliances, Readiness. Navy Adm. Michael Gilday said that as the new chief of naval operations, he will continue to emphasize the Navy’s commitment to partnerships and alliances worldwide, as well as to the Defense Department’s modernization and readiness efforts.
“We will question our assumptions. We will think differently about the competition we are now in. We will be the Navy the nation needs now, and we will build the Navy the nation needs to fight and win in the future, always guided by our core values,” he said.
Gilday also thanked the 600,000 naval personnel serving around the globe, many in harm’s way, and said the Navy will continue “taking care of our most important weapons system, our sailors and their families.”
Gilday, who received his fourth star before the Washington Navy Yard ceremony, became the 32nd chief of naval operations, succeeding Navy Adm. John M. Richardson, who is retiring.
Gilday assumes two responsibilities. Besides being the Navy’s top uniformed officer, he now serves as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Admiral Gilday has already played a critical role in restoring readiness, and he’s well positioned to take over our integrated naval force as we march into the future,” said Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer.
Spencer noted that Gilday’s career has included distinguished operations at sea and cooperation with NATO allies to confront the great power competition with Russia and China, as well as innovative leadership as commander of the Navy’s Fleet Cyber Command.
The admiral’s most recent assignment as director of the Joint Staff “has given him visibility into the challenges that he will now face,” Spencer said.
The Navy secretary also praised Richardson, with whom he had a two-year working relationship, as an officer who “pays attention to details.”
“I could not have asked for a better business partner,” Spencer said. “He’s done more for this Navy to put us in a ready, lethal position than many before. No effort was too great, no detail was too small, as he really did help us navigate the rocks and shoals to deliver the Navy the nation needs.”
Spencer awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal to Richardson and the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award to Richardson’s wife, Dana.
“Dana has been the strongest advocate for military families,” Richardson said. “She understands that a stronger family means a stronger fleet.”
Spencer cited the adage that being a Navy wife is the toughest job in the Navy. “There’s a lot of truth to that,” he said.
Besides having a strong, supportive family, Spencer said, Richardson emphasized that his faith in God has been a strength and comfort to him and his family.
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and other military leaders from the United States, its allies and its partner nations attended the ceremony. (Source: US DoD)
22 Aug 19. Avoiding past mistakes: Are the Army’s modernization plans on the right course? To avoid past mistakes that have all but crippled the Army’s ability to procure new equipment, the service should ensure its top modernization priorities are aligned with its emerging warfighting doctrine, which could mean rearranging some of its top efforts, conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation is arguing in a new report.
The assessment comes at a time when the Army is preparing to release a new modernization strategy in short order.
“From 2002 to 2014, for a variety of reasons, nearly every major modernization program was terminated,” the report’s author Thomas Spoehr writes. Spoehr is the director of the Center of National Defense at Heritage. His former Army career was partly spent helping to develop the service’s future year financial plans.
Spoehr acknowledges that with the advent of a new four-star command — Army Futures Command — the programs envisioned to modernize the Army “are well-conceived,” but urges the services to look through a lens of how its priorities measure up in Multi-Domain Operations — a concept under development that will grow into its key warfighting doctrine.
Spoehr also warns the Army’s leaders that there needs to be a balance “of the lure of technology with the necessity” to buy new equipment.
The service is steadfastly marching down a path to modernize and develop its capability in Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air-and-missile defense and soldier lethality, in order of importance.
But Spoehr is proposing to drop NGCV and FVL to the bottom of the list because they would serve less effective roles when carrying out operations in an environment where territory is well defended against enemies like Russia and China.
“The need for long-range precision fires and a precision-strike missile with a range of 310 km, for example, is grounded in the need to strip away Russian surface-to-air missile batteries and gain access,” Spoehr writes. “The linkages of other programs and initiatives are not as obvious and would benefit from an Army effort to make the connections either more explicit or reconsider requirements.”
Spoehr points out that it’s not clear, for example, how a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft and a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft “might survive against near-peer sophisticated integrated air defense capabilities like the Russian’s capable Pantsir-S1 SA-22 system.
“Even if the aircraft’s speed is doubled or tripled, it will not outrun the Pantsir’s 9M335 missile,” he writes.
“Nowhere in the MDO concept is a compelling case made for the use of Army aviation, combined with a relative youth of Army aviation fleets,” he adds.
Instead, Spoehr said, the priorities “should be based on an evaluation of current versus required capabilities, assessed against the capability’s overall criticality to success, and all tied to a future aim point-2030, by a force employing MDO doctrine.”
This means, he argues, that the Army’s network should be prioritized just below LRPF, followed by AMD and soldier lethality. Ranked at number five and six would be NGCV and FVL, respectively.
According to Spoehr, “nothing has come forward to suggest that there is a technological advancement that will make a next generation of combat vehicles significantly better.”
Additionally, the Army should not try to force the key requirement of making its Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle replacement — the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle — robotically operated or autonomous until the network matures to support the capability, the report notes.
The Army needs a network “that is simple, reliable and less fragile than its current systems,” Spoehr says. “These capabilities may need to come at the expense of capacity,” which the Army appears to be doing, he notes.
Spoehr also suggests that the Army invest less in hypersonic offensive capability and more in defensive capability.
But ensuring effective modernization of the force and avoiding past failures is just as much a management challenge as it is overcoming technological and cost hurdles.
One of the phenomena Spoehr observed during his time serving in the military, particularly at the Pentagon, is what he calls “groupthink,” where those who spend time together begin to think alike and make decisions without those around them questioning actions. Additionally, subordinates tend to avoid disagreeing with those in charge.
Groupthink has been the culprit when it comes to major failure in development and acquisition programs in the past, so the Army should “zealously promote critical thinking and avoid groupthink,” Spoehr writes. The service should “promote a free and open dialogue in journals and forums” and “exercise caution when senior leaders endorse specific system attributes or requirements to avoid closing down discussion.”
The report acknowledges that the Army “is making a concerted effort to change to meet the future,” such as standing up AFC and aligning its future doctrine with materiel solutions more closely.
It’s important the Army keep sight of what it’s actually trying to do with its future capability, the report warns. “Rather than seeking to match and exceed each of our adversary’s investments, the Army must focus on enabling its own operational concepts and seeking answers to tough operational and tactical problems,” it states.
Elsewhere in the overarching analysis, Spoehr recommends growing the force, as well ensuring its effective modernization to include roughly 50 Brigade Combat Teams and an end-strength of at least 540,000 active soldiers.
He suggests reducing investment in infantry brigade combat teams in favor of armored BCTs, but also to keep capability to fight in a counter-insurgency environment as well, such as keeping the Security Force Assistance Brigades. The third such formation is preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.
The Army also needs to grow faster and must find ways to resolve recent problems with recruiting, Spoehr said, recommending that the service grow at a rate faster than 2,000 regular Army soldiers per year.
And force allocation should also be reconsidered, Spoehr argues, recommending that the Army should create a new field headquarters in Europe and, when appropriate, do so in the Indo-Pacific.
Overall, “the task for the Army is no less than to develop a force capable of deterring and defeating aggression by China and Russia, while also remaining prepared to deal with other regional adversaries (Iraq and North Korea), violent extremist organizations, and other unforeseen challenges,” Spoehr said.
What’s hard for the Army is that it lacks “the certainty of a single principal competitor” — the Soviet Union in 1980s, during the last buildup, for example, he noted.
Because of the complicated global environment, Spoehr advocates for the Army to shift from thinking about a 20-year lead time for new, transformative capabilities and instead take a constant iterative and evolutionary approach to building the force. Under AFC, the Army is attempting to do just that.
The Army can’t wait “until the future is clear before acting,” he adds. “When dealing with a 1-million-person organization, equipping, training, and leader development typically takes at least a decade to make any substantive change,” Spoehr said. “The Army must therefore make bets now to remain a preeminent land power.”(Source: Defense News)
15 Aug 19. How DOD will survive its next audit. The Defense Department famously completed — and failed — its first financial audit in 2018. The ordeal highlighted gaps and inefficiencies in the organization’s IT infrastructure, but it also served as a bastion for tech innovation.
Here’s what some of the Defense Department’s chief financial experts had to say about how they plan to survive DOD’s second audit and how using automation and robotics is easing the process:
Simply put, how do you all plan to pass the next audit for 2019?
Douglas Glenn, the Pentagon’s assistant deputy chief financial officer
Same way we did last year. We got through it last year — that’ll have been the hardest — we’re going to do it again next year. And you know, it’s that question of how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. So we just chip away at the NFRs [notices of findings and recommendations], which will lead to reducing the material weaknesses, which will lead to more clean opinions and we’ll get there.
Fredrick Carr, associate deputy assistant secretary for the Air Force
We’re more efficient now. The first full audit was in 2018. Getting all the documentation to the auditors, timely, entering all the PBCs [provided by client lists], that was really a ruckus. But we really learned from that. We put a tool in place — we don’t have any late PBCs now. That I think is the biggest piece. And we learned from the corrective actions, how to write them, getting at root costs.
Wesley Miller, the Army’s deputy assistant secretary for financial operations
With the Army, I don’t think we’re at a breakthrough point. We’re still focusing on the different types of audits that we’re performing — our working capital fund, our conventional ammo — and taking care of those particular items and then tackling the big general fund as of late.
Victoria Crouse, chief strategy officer for the U.S. Navy’s financial operations office
I think we’re open to any and all findings that we get from the auditors. We try to be pretty transparent on where we think some of our issues are. We’re getting some positive feedback on corrective actions that we’ve implemented. But they’re getting in some areas where they’re able to dig a little bit deeper than they did last year. It’s a continued learning experience, and we’ll go through that prioritization process again and just keep moving forward one step at a time.
All of you might have mentioned robotics during your presentations, how important is this? I know from the Army side, Army Futures Commander Gen. John Murray has talked about using artificial intelligence and automation to improve the Army’s budgeting process. Can you talk a bit about how that’s developing and how each of you is using robotic processes?
MILLER: Compare functions. You look for compare functions where you can take one item and have it do the checking. Rather than have someone swivel from one system to another system, you have the robot do the comparison function for you. We want to use a robot to look at individuals who are leaving the service and then comparing that back to individuals who are still remaining and have permissions remaining on the systems. Those are the types of functions that I see initially. They will grow bigger, become more complex after that.
CARR: Across the board, anything we see that is typically not high-value added and repeatable, we can program it. And our goal is to take all that stuff that’s low value added and see if we can add robotics to it and get it out of the hands of people manually processing. Because every time you have to put something in a system manually, it’s probably going to generate a DFAS [Defense Finance and Accounting Service] bill that’s manual — and that’s a huge cost. We can pay $34 for a transaction or we can use an electronic and do it for $2 or $3 a transaction. So that’s huge.
Any new areas for robotic processes that you’re looking into?
CARR: So the leave balance for our active duty military is the newest one. Being able to do that instead of having a person go in and see where did Airman Snuffy come back from leave because he didn’t clock back in. There’s no incentive to do that when you come back from leave because you’re back at work the next day. But it’s still in the system that way and it shows that you’re still gone. Well if robotics can take all that stuff and clean it up, then the [supervisor] doesn’t have to worry about that. It’s done.
Where’s the Navy on this?
CROUSE: We’re in the early stages. Similar to Air Force, we’re looking at any of those processes that are highly manual where we might have an opportunity to use robotics. One of the areas we’re looking at is retrieval of supporting documentation for the audit.
MILLER: And remember, what we’re attempting to do is open up more time for people to actually do analytical work. We don’t want them to get hung up on the … work of doing comparisons. We want them there to spend more time analyzing what’s behind, what the numbers mean.
Back to DOD, anything to add?
GLENN: There’s a positive ROI [return on investment] there. I forget the numbers, but we estimate that we’re saving more annually than we spend on it, just in the few that we’ve deployed at the office of the secretary level.
At the Pentagon, Fourth Estate level, are there any new areas that you’re looking to apply this sort of automation?
GLENN: We’d love to get into accelerating the de-obligation process and contract close out. I think almost every agency out there is wrestling with closing out old obligations and getting their contracting community to focus on that as opposed to getting new contracts out. So if we could deploy some robots to accelerate that closeout process, lift some of the burden off the contracting officers, it would be a win-win across the government.(Source: Defense Systems)
21 Aug 19. Air Combat Command Delivers Amid Stresses. The Air Force’s Air Combat Command is stressed, but is still able to provide military capabilities combatant commanders need, ACC’s commander said.
“Are we stressed? Yes,” Air Force Gen. James M. “Mike” Holmes told the Defense Writers Group yesterday in Washington. “But are we able to meet the things our country is asking us to do? Yes.”
ACC is the largest command in the service, operating around 1,000 aircraft in 35 wings at 300 locations worldwide. The command has 159,000 military and civilian personnel, and its headquarters is at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
The command is responsible for organizing, training, equipping and maintaining combat-ready air, space, cyber and intelligence forces.
The Air Force was hit hard by budget problems of the past decade. The effects of the Budget Control Act, sequestration, continuing resolutions and government shutdowns hit readiness hard. Maintenance was deferred, spare parts were short, and flying hours were limited.
Exacerbating the situation were manpower woes — especially a shortage of pilots.
ACC was still able to provide trained and combat-ready forces to combatant commanders worldwide, but it was a difficult time, Holmes said.
The command has climbed back from the depths of the readiness trough, Holmes said, but it continues to face challenges. “As we go forward, we have taken efforts over the last couple of years to try to balance the tempo with the time it takes to build readiness and to have a place where our airmen and their families can thrive, and not just survive,” he said.
ACC officials worked with the Joint Staff using the global force management process to address the limits and amount of force the command provides, the general said. “We’ve worked with our units when they are home to provide more ‘white space’ on their calendars,” he added.
The command is working to get to a 1-to-5 ratio or time spent on deployments and temporary duty to time spent at home station. This allows airmen to reconnect with their families and also allows the service to ensure airmen get the training they need to move up the skill ladder.
“There are areas that I am concerned about; there are areas that are under more stress than others,” Holmes said. “A lot of those fall into the places where, because of the tempo, we’re required to do most of our training in operational missions.”
Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and the rescue enterprise are particularly concerning, the general said, and the stress really comes into play when unexpected operations such as the efforts in the Persian Gulf arise, he added. (Source: US DoD)
21 Aug 19. The B-21 Raider looms large over the celebration of B-2′s first flight. The U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman celebrated 30 years since the inaugural flight of the iconic B-2 stealth bomber Tuesday during a ceremony at Northrop’s Palmdale facility, where the B-2 was built and first took off.
What went uncommented on, either by the Air Force leaders or Northrop executives in attendance, were the new crop of recently constructed buildings at Northrop’s Site 4 — buildings that almost surely can be linked to the B-21 bomber the company is developing under a veil of secrecy.
“These engineering frontiers that we’ve taken on with B-2 are setting the course for the B-21. While I can’t talk much about the details of the B-21, I can share this with you,” said Janis Pamiljans, who leads Northrop’s aerospace sector.
“What we learn on B-2 are finding themselves baselined in the design for B-21 for supportability, sustainability, for mission capable rate. So we are bringing you the next generation capability. At the end of the day, where the B-2 goes, so goes B-21.”
That technology exchange seems to go both ways.
“New technologies are coming. We’re continuing to lift technologies,” said Pamiljans, pausing before continuing, “from other programs onto the B-2.”
The phrase “other programs” became a kind of code speak for the B-21 for the news outlets, including Defense News, that attended the celebration. Defense News accepted travel and hotel accommodations from Northrop.
A couple of new buildings stood nearby the B-2 parked on display for the event, but Northrop personnel would not comment on their purpose. Production of the Global Hawk and Triton surveillance drones, which once occurred partially at Site 4, have been pushed to Site 7 to make room for “other programs.” The facility once used for final assembly of the B-2 has been transformed into the production line for the F-35 center fuselage — well, half of it, anyway. The other half of the building, closed off to reporters, is used for “other programs” that went unnamed.
And though military and industry gathered to hail the B-2, the celebration occurred in the shadow of seemingly quick progress of the B-21 Raider and ongoing questions about the future of the B-2.
Last month, the Air Force’s number-two general made a surprise announcement that the first flight of the B-21 could occur around December 2021.
“Don’t hold me to it, but it’s something like 863 days to first flight,” Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson said July 24.
That means, that if the B-21 stays on schedule, the bomber will fly just six years after the 2015 contract award to Northrop Grumman — a relatively speedy pace that raises questions about whether sub- or full-scale prototypes of the air vehicle have already been flown and the level of commonality to the B-2.
The program has made fast progress through its design phase, completing a preliminary design review in 2017 and the critical design review in 2018. The B-21 Raider could reach initial operational capability in the mid 2020s, the Air Force has said, and the service plans on buying at least 100 aircraft.
“From everything I hear, the cost, schedule, performance is right on expectations,” said Maj. Gen. Jim Dawkins, the commander of the Eighth Air Force who is responsible for overseeing strategic bomber operations. Dawkins was on the ground in Palmdale for the event and for B-2 related activities, but told reporters that his trip would not include any B-21 related activities.
Big questions still loom about the future of the B-2. In 2018, the Air Force announced that it would retire both the B-2 and the B-1 in the early 2030s as the B-21 came online.
But after an internal study by the Air Force posited that it would need to increase from nine to 14 bomber squadrons by 2030, service leaders have said that they continue to assess its bomber force structure plans. On Tuesday, Dawkins said the timeline for the B-2’s retirement was “still evolving,” with “no set date” for divestment.
Dawkins said the Air Force continues to work with Northrop to improve sustainment activities “for several more years as we bring on the replacement, the B-21.”
In the meantime, Northrop is working hard to drive down the cost of sustainment as well as the amount of time it takes before each B-2 needs to go in for a yearlong overhaul of its LO coating and avionics, said Richard Sullivan, the company’s vice president and B-2 program manager.
The B-2 once had to go through that process every seven years, but improvements in technology have made it possible to the restoration process to be accomplished every nine years.
“The only thing I think we do to make a case [to keep the B-2] is to perform,” Sullivan said, pointing to the increase in the B-2’s mission capability rate, which rose from about 54 percent to 61 percent from 2017 to 2018.
The Air Force plans to upgrade the B-2 with a suite of new hardware and software known as the Defensive Management System, but only three bombers are currently under contract, with one having undergone the modifications.
Last year Bloomberg reported that DMS could may be as much as 21 months late for initial deployment, which is scheduled for 2022 and requires that a certain number of aircraft have received the new system. Sullivan said the exact timing would be dependent, however, on whether Northrop was given a production contract to modify additional B-2s.
Asked about DMS, Dawkins said, “Right now it’s a fully funded program and the Air Force continues to track the progress.” (Source: Defense News)
21 Aug 19. Pentagon warns of China’s growing influence in the Middle East. Top official cites fears that Beijing could leverage economic ties and steal sensitive technology. A top Pentagon official has warned that China’s efforts to gain influence in the Middle East could undermine defence co-operation between the US and regional allies that grow too close to Beijing. Defence officials are concerned about China’s “desire to erode US military advantages” in the Middle East, Michael Mulroy, the top Pentagon official for the region, told the Financial Times. He argued that Beijing could use investments in the Middle East for “economic leverage and coercion” and “intellectual property theft and acquisition”. “Many investments are beneficial, but we’re concerned countries’ economic interests may blind them to the negative implications of some Chinese investments, including impact on joint defence co-operation with the United States,” said Mr Mulroy. Beijing has long been investing in Middle Eastern countries through its $1tn Belt and Road infrastructure programme, through which it aims to finance roads, ports and power stations in some of the world’s poorest areas. Chinese companies are also competing with the US to sell weapons to Middle Eastern countries, according to the Pentagon. China is one of the biggest trading partners of Iran and of Saudi Arabia, and has also forged close ties with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
As part of its push into the Middle East, Chinese companies have built ports in Israel, and invested in oil and petrochemical complexes in Saudi Arabia. Sinopec, the Chinese oil company, has several joint projects with Saudi state energy giant Saudi Aramco, including a large refinery in Yanbu. The Suez Canal Economic Zone, launched by Egypt in 2015 to create an industrial and logistics hub around the Suez Canal, is another key Chinese investment. The canal is a vital shipping route connecting the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, is home to a Chinese naval base, while China Merchants Port Holdings, a part state-owned enterprise, is negotiating to take control of the Doraleh Container Terminal in Djibouti, one of the most strategically located ports in the Middle East region. Lisa Blaydes, professor of political science at Stanford University, said China had also sought to increase its investment in the reconstruction of Syria, at a time when political instability had deterred other investors.
“Chinese willingness to bring development dollars to countries emerging from conflict could give Beijing an upper hand in terms of regional influence,” said Ms Blaydes. “Yemen, with its strategic location along Gulf shipping lanes, provides a future potential Chinese target.” Although Washington remained committed to helping partners in the region “fight terrorism” and “promote stability”, the US was prepared to make “hard decisions” to protect US technology, said Mr Mulroy. Recommended The Big Read Middle East’s power struggle moves to the Horn of Africa One example of the lengths to which Washington has been willing to go to keep sensitive technology out of foreign hands is Turkey, which was removed from the F-35 fighter jet programme after it bought Russian weapons. The US had argued that the Russian S-400 system bought by Ankara would allow the Kremlin to gather intelligence on the advanced fighter jets if they remained in Turkey.
Jon Alterman, Middle East expert and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the US and China saw the Middle East in different terms, and that the Chinese did not want to “replace” the United States. “The American vision of Middle East is based on cold war competition, where there are red countries and blue countries. But the Chinese map is full of grey areas, there are hedges and counter-hedges.” Beijing has faced accusations that its Belt and Road Initiative can create debt traps for host countries. In April, China said it would commit to more sustainable financing standards following criticism that many BRI projects leave host countries mired in debt, with Beijing offering financing on terms that some states have struggled to maintain. (Source: FT.com)
20 Aug 19. The Army is not optimized for this fight. Upon assuming command just over a month ago, the new Army commander tasked with overseeing all of the service’s combat training set out a challenge for the commanders to answer a question: With multidomain capabilities existing in formations currently, has the Army changed enough to ensure victory in the next battle?
The conclusion that Gen. Paul Funk, commander of Training and Doctrine Command, determined was no, the force has to change the way it thinks and organizes to meet these challenges in a 21st century information battlespace.
“Our application of information dominance is too narrow,” Funk said, speaking at TechNet Augusta, Aug. 20. “It is underdeveloped and lacks coordinated direction.”
To fix that, Funk said they are working at TRADOC to include information dominance in the Army campaign plan and develop and information strategy.
He said the Army needs to invest in appropriate resources, such as data mining and alerts, in order to restructure information operations for success on the future battlefield.
When developing a future strategy, Funk said the force needs to keep a few observations in mind.
First, it does not understand how to best degrade connected systems or what ripple effects attacking one component of a system will have on the system as a whole. Second, the Army doesn’t know whether what it thinks the enemy knows about it is true or not. “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you killed; it’s what you think you do know that ain’t so,” he said.
Third, the Army when building systems in the past hasn’t taken into account that adversaries will seek to take them down; rather, it has assumed that it will always have uninterrupted flows of data.
The force has, however, taken some lessons and themes into consideration, namely that the way the current Army is structured and optimized is not ideal for the future fight, and must be tweaked.
The force the Army built for the counterterrorism fight, which is centered around brigade combat teams, won’t work in a fight against a peer adversary. Echelons above brigade have the most capability and are most decisive to enable the multidomain fight for the future.
“The scale, tempo, lethality and complexity of large-scale, multidomain combat operations requires significant changes in how we equip, organize and structure the force to enable the Army to prevail against peer threats in contested domains,” Funk said. (Source: Defense News)
19 Aug 19. Pentagon sees warning for China in Turkey’s F-35 ouster. The Donald Trump administration’s move to kick Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program for purchasing a Russian air defense system could have implications for Middle East nations that buy Chinese technology, according to a Pentagon statement. As the US stock market sagged this week after China threatened to counter fresh US tariffs on Beijing’s exports, the Defense Department has continued a spate of warnings to American allies about buying foreign weapons.
“The United States remains committed to improving the capacity of its partners to fight terrorism, deter regional spoilers and promote stability in the Middle East,” said Mick Mulroy, a deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East. “But — as seen in the department’s decision to cancel Turkey’s F-35 program — we are also prepared to make hard decisions to protect US technology.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper is fresh off of a tour of Asia-Pacific countries amid raising worries about China’s increasing global push for military access and basing. The Pentagon is seeking to round out the case to allies that tying themselves to Beijing economically could hamper US defense ties. The message going forward will be simple, Mulroy told Al-Monitor. “It means that if the purchase of Russian or Chinese weapons threatens the operational security of our weapons, we will have no choice but to pull ours.”
It was not immediately clear whether the Pentagon had warned allies about buying specific Chinese arms platforms, though the agency’s annual “China Power” report said Beijing sold $10bn worth of weapons to the Middle East between 2013 and 2017 and is actively looking to offload armed drones and precision-strike weapons.
Yet Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system, which the Pentagon feared would be able to uncloak the F-35’s radar-busting technology, could provide a difficult test case for cutting off allies who invest in China.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to buy the air defense batteries has split Congress and Trump, who has been reluctant to impose sanctions on Turkey. Trump asserted in June that the Barack Obama administration had denied the rival Patriot system to Erdogan, though former US officials say Ankara’s demands for control of US technical secrets were too high.
Turkey had lobbied Congress to duck US sanctions that are automatically applied to large purchases of Russian weapons systems just weeks before accepting delivery of the S-400.
The Pentagon has repeatedly warned that China has soaked up a larger share of the Middle East arms market, especially for technology such as armed drones, which the United States is treaty-limited from selling to allies.
“The United States is not destined to be China’s adversary, but we do see Chinese leaders choosing to challenge the global order that is based on values shared by the United States and our partners and allies,” Mulroy said in the statement provided to Al-Monitor.
The Trump administration has struggled to come up with a cohesive response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative that seeks to ensnare erstwhile US allies in lucrative investment deals, including long-term American partners such as Israel.
On Wednesday, US and Chinese officials met at the Pentagon to discuss China’s latest defense white paper, which describes Washington and Beijing as competing superpowers. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://www.al-monitor.com/)
20 Aug 19. DIA Identifies Emerging Technology Threats. US, Russia and China in Race to Harness Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Encryption. Within a decade, China and Russia’s militaries will be using data visualization, artificial intelligence, machine learning and possibly quantum encryption and communications, according to the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, US Army Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr.
These tools are used to collect, analyze and secure data accurately and at high speeds. Both China and Russia realize that “whoever can leverage the data and understands that can dominate,” Lt. Gen. Ashley Jr. said at the 2019 Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference in Tampa, Florida, August 19.
China is already moving rapidly ahead with digital advances, he said, citing Huawei’s Smart City Intelligent Operation Center, which is using big data, 5G, machine learning and AI to collect, monitor and analyze security, transportation and emergencies, and to track people.
The Defense Intelligence Agency’s 3 Priorities
DIA’s efforts at improving intelligence gathering have a three-pronged focus:
First, the general said, the agency needs to ensure that its intelligence-sharing tool, the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, has adequate resourcing to ensure it remains secure, reliable and resilient.
Second, Ashley said, the Machine-Assisted Analytic Rapid-Repository System, which is still in development, will become DIA’s database of the future, using cloud computing, AI and machine learning, automating many of the tasks currently done manually by operators.
Third, open-source intelligence will be used to a much greater extent. Open-source intelligence is data collected from publicly available sources. When combined with other intelligence data, it can provide a much more accurate intelligence picture that will further DIA’s mission of “providing intelligence on foreign militaries to prevent and decisively win wars.”
Strength in Personnel
In addition to systems, Ashley said, people are the agency’s foundational strength. People work best when they are on teams to use one another’s strengths, he said. DIA has organized analytic data teams composed of data scientists, tool developers, methodologists and all-source analysts to look at information and refine algorithms to get a more accurate intelligence picture.
Data Sharing with Allies
DIA also needs to strengthen its teaming with allies and partners, Ashley said, notably data sharing. Currently, a brigade is pretty good at speed in sharing intelligence within the brigade, he said.
However, when it comes to sharing intelligence between brigades and between each of the military services, it slows down, he said. And, it’s even slower between allies and partners.
It took World War II to compel better information sharing between allies, he said. The U.S. cracked Japan’s Purple Encryption Machine early in the war. About the same time, the United Kingdom cracked the Enigma Machine used by the Germans. A decision was made at the very top for the two nations to share their work, and it probably shortened the war by two years. It should not take another war like that to enable intelligence sharing, Ashley said. (Source: Warfare Today/DoD)
20 Aug 19. Russia condemns first US missile test since quitting arms treaty. Analysts have warned decision to pull out of nuclear pact could herald new arms race. Russia has condemned the US for its test of a ground-launched cruise missile, the first since it pulled out of a Cold War-era arms treaty that banned the development of such missiles. The US pulled out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned development of missiles with a range of 500-5,500km, on August 2 citing alleged Russian violations of its rules. Analysts have warned that the breakdown of the agreement could herald a new arms race and mass deployment of new missile launching systems in Europe. On Monday the US department of defence said it had tested a “conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile” that “accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kms of flight.” Moscow said the test proved its claim that Donald Trump’s administration had long planned to exit the treaty in order to develop new medium-range missiles that, it says, present a threat to Russia if deployed in Europe or Asia.
“It is noteworthy that the test of an advanced Tomahawk missile took place literally 16 days after the United States withdrew from the INF Treaty,” Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov told state-run news agency TASS. “There can probably be no more clear and explicit confirmation that the development of the corresponding systems was carried out in the United States for a long time and in preparation to withdraw from the pact.” Mr Ryabkov also said the launch, made from a Mk-41 launcher that the US has deployed in Romania in eastern Europe, proved Moscow’s long-held suspicions that the launchers could be used for offensive missile strikes. “All this is regrettable. The United States has obviously taken a course towards escalating military tensions,” he added. “We do not succumb to provocations.” US officials have said that the country is considering deploying missile systems in Asia. Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Monday during a visit to France that Russia would only develop similar missiles “if such strike complexes will be produced by the United States”, adding: “we will not place them in regions of the world until American systems of this kind appear also there.” (Source: FT.com)
21 Aug 19. Putin says U.S. is able to deploy new cruise missile in Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the United States was now in a position to deploy a new land-based cruise missile in Romania and Poland, a scenario he considered a threat that Moscow would need to respond to.
The Pentagon said on Monday it had tested a conventionally-configured cruise missile that hit its target after more than 500 km (310 miles) of flight, its first such test since the demise of a landmark nuclear pact this month.
The test followed the U.S. formally withdrawing from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) on Aug. 2 after accusing Moscow of violating it, a charge dismissed by the Kremlin. Putin, speaking during a visit to Helsinki, said that Washington could potentially now use existing launch systems in Romania and Poland to fire the new missile, meaning it could deploy it easily and swiftly if it chose to.
“Launches of this missile can be carried out from (launch) systems already located in Romania and Poland. All you have to do is change the software. And I don’t think our American partners will inform even the European Union about this. This entails new threats for us that we must react to,” Putin said.
The test would have been banned under the INF, which prohibited land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles, reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.
The United States has said it has no imminent plans to deploy new land-based missiles in Europe.
Putin was speaking to reporters following talks with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö.
The Russian leader used a joint news conference to defend the authorities’ response to a series of political protests in Moscow and to reassure people that an accident at a military testing site in northern Russia this month did not pose any threat to neighbouring countries or people living nearby. (Source: Reuters)
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