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05 Sep 19. Killing programs is ‘like working out,’ says acting US Army secretary. The U.S. Army’s program-killing project known as “night court” will continue and become more aggressive in the coming years as demands for the service’s modernization effort increase, the Army’s acting secretary said Wednesday. Named after the 1980s-era sitcom and a nod to the long hours worked by staff to pull it off, night court in 2018 identified $25bn in savings and scrapped modernization efforts that the Army plans to use to finance new technologies. Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced another $10bn of savings in May.
But keeping night court alive will require a deliberate effort until it becomes routine, McCarthy told the audience at the third annual Defense News Conference.
“Night court is kind of like working out: You’ve got to get up, you’ve got to get after it,” McCarthy said. “It’s hard. It wears you out. You think: ‘Boy, it would be easier to just stay in bed.’ But it’s necessary to keep the institution strong. We believe it has been institutionalized. … But we’ve got to keep up the repetitions, and over time it will become a behavior, like a reflex.”
McCarthy, who is expected to face a confirmation hearing to become Army secretary later this month, said as Army Futures Command’s cross-functional teams identify requirements for the next generation of Army systems, the effort must become more aggressive.
“What we’ve done in the cross-functional teams, those efforts have been successful,” McCarthy said. “So as we continue to go down the development pipe, they are going to come back with a requirement we are going to need X numbers of systems to lay in across our formations. And as we scale that out over time, that will cost more money.
“So, when you look at where are the opportunities, you have to make choices — divestiture. Legacy systems that we have enjoyed for decades that have performed for us in combat operations for going on 18 years now, some of them will have to go away.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who formerly served as the Army secretary and championed the service’s effort, signaled he will continue night court Pentagon-wide, something that will test his political clout as services are often loathed to give up reliable legacy systems, and lawmakers is even less willing to give up jobs in their districts that would be threatened by program cuts.
But, McCarthy said, the effort is necessary to finance the new technologies the Pentagon needs to gain an advantage over China and Russia.
“Night court will continue. In fact, night court is going prime time with Secretary Esper down the hall,” he said. “It’s necessary to find as much trade space within that [$741bn] in the ’20 and ’21 budgets to find every penny we can to finance our ambitions. Every investment program has a divestiture.” (Source: Defense News)
05 Sep 19. The U.S. Navy just deployed its new ship-killer missile to China’s backyard. It can travel more than 100 nautical miles, passively detect an enemy through imaging stored in its computer brain, and can kill a target so precisely that an operator can tell it to aim for a specific point on the ship – the engine room or the bridge, for example. And it’s heading to China’s stomping grounds.
The littoral combat ship Gabrielle Giffords deployed Tuesday from San Diego packing the U.S. Navy’s new Naval Strike Missile, transforming the LCS from an under-gunned concept-ship gone awry to a legitimate threat to Chinese warships at significant ranges.
Giffords is the second LCS to deploy this year. The LCS Montgomery deployed also from San Diego in June after a 19-month lapse in LCS deployments as the Navy reworked the way it mans and trains crews for the ships.
Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. John Gay confirmed Giffords’ deployment, saying the ship got underway Sept. 3, equipped with the Naval Strike Missile and with the newly mission-capable MQ-8C Fire Scout. The Fire Scout, an over-the-horizon surveillance and targeting platform, achieved its “initial operational capability” in June.
A Navy official speaking on background said the ship was deploying to the Indo-Pacific theater, but could not elaborate on ship’s schedules. Giffords’ sister ship Montgomery is currently operating in the Gulf of Thailand, according to the Navy.mil site.
When equipped with NSM, a joint Raytheon/Kongsberg program, combined with Northrop Grumman’s Fire Scout for surveillance over the horizon, an LCS sitting off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia, could destroy a ship sitting off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. That’s more than 30 miles further than the published range of the current anti-ship missile, the Harpoon, which is in excess of 67 miles. The Navy has also signaled it will install NSM on its next small surface combatant, FFG(X). The deployment is the latest sign that the U.S. Navy is gradually upping its game in the Pacific, which during the past decade has seen rising tensions over expansive Chinese maritime claims discredited by the international community but enforced by China’s Navy, Coast Guard and maritime militias. The Navy has made a dedicated push to the ranges of its systems, from its missiles and sensors to its air wing with the development of the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueling drone and new conformal fuel tanks for the F/A-18 Super Hornets that increase the speed and range of the Navy’s mainstay aircraft.
But it’s also a sign that despite a steady drumbeat inside the Pentagon to “move faster” to get new capabilities to the fleet, the Navy’s process is still moving painfully slow. The NSM partially answers the bell for a “joint urgent operational need” requirement issued by former U.S. Pacific Command head Adm. Robert Willard from early in President Obama’s first term, who identified the need for longer-range anti-ship missiles in the Pacific.
“It’s great that the Navy is doing these improvements, but it’s very incremental,” said Bryan Clark, a retired submarine officer and analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “It has been a decade since the Navy said, ‘Hey we need to start an unmanned aircraft program of some kind and we need put better anti-ship missiles on our ships.’”
“And here we are, 10 years later, and the MQ-25 is still making its way toward fielding, which wont happen for several years, and we’re finally deploying a ship with a better anti-ship cruise missile,” Clark continued. “So, kudos to the Navy for doing it but this is emblematic of the problem the [Department of Defense] has in making the shift toward new ways of fighting. It just can’t get out of its own way to field a new capability in under a decade.”
LCS to the Pacific
The surface Navy has signaled it intends to maintain a steady forward presence of LCS in the region for the foreseeable future. Giffords is the second LCS to deploy under the newly reorganized LCS program.
In an August 2018 interview, Navy Surface Warfare boss Adm. Richard Brown told Defense News that once the deployments started, they weren’t going to stop.
“We are on track with the 2016 [chief of naval operations] review of the LCS … and I think we will see the first deployments next year and then happening continuously after that,” said Brown, who heads Naval Surface Force Pacific.
The trimarans Montgomery and Giffords would deploy first from the Pacific then the mono-hulled Detroit and Little Rock on the East Coast, Brown said. LCS Squadron 2 is based in Mayport, Florida.
Getting a more deadly LCS up and running is critical for the surface Navy, which has been rocked first by a string of engineering mishaps with the new Littoral Combat Ships, some caused by crew errors, and then by the 2017 accidents that claimed the lives of 17 sailors in the Pacific in two separate collisions. The Navy is on track to take delivery of 35 LCS total, a major chunk of the surface fleet.
The Navy has sought to keep up a consistent presence in the South China Sea, something that will be made easier once more LCS are up and running and deploying regularly. In the 2016 reorganization, the Navy switched from an arcane three-crew-for-two-hulls crewing system to a more traditional blue-and-gold crewing model, where two crews man one hull, and switch off at various periods in the ship’s deployment cycle.
That maintains a high operational tempo for the ship without burning out any one crew, meaning more time forward for the Navy’s only small surface combatant.
During the Trump era, the Navy has stepped up its freedom-of-navigation patrols of Chinese claims in the South China Sea, a patrol where a Navy ship sails within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese-claimed feature to demonstrate that the U.S. has the right to pass peacefully through freely without any preconditions in waters China appears to claim as its territory.
Some have argued that using the Japan-based cruisers and destroyers for such missions is a waste of a high-end asset, and could be accomplished more cheaply and just as effectively with an LCS, freeing up DDGs and CGs for missions suited for their advanced sensors and weaponry.
The Navy just took delivery of the 17th LCS, the Indianapolis, in June. The mono-hull LCS is made by Lockheed Martin with Fincantieri in Marinette, Wisconsin, all of which will be stationed in Mayport. The trimaran version is made by Austal USA and all of them will be stationed on the West Coast. (Source: Defense News)
04 Sep 19. The US Army faces struggles working with small businesses. The U.S. Army faces problems on multiple fronts when it comes to sending more of their business to small companies, the head of Army Futures Command said Wednesday.
Gen. John Murray said small businesses struggle under a procurement system that can take years, and then struggle to scale their business to meet the Army’s needs.
“There is a lack of trust [on the part of small businesses] that the government can sustain in small-business model,” Murray told the audience at the third annual Defense News Conference. “The way we do budgeting, POM cycles and all that, a small business can’t survive. We’re going to have to prove to small businesses that we can adjust our POM cycles to meet their needs.
“And from the small business perspective, there are only a few ways that they can scale to the size we are talking about in terms of production, one of those ways is partnering with a traditional [defense contractor] so that’s going to be a challenge going forward.”
Murray’s comments come at a time when the Army is looking to engage with a range of partners – from universities and small businesses to the traditional prime contractors such as Raytheon and General Dynamics – to find ways to integrate new technologies into the force.
The outreach to small businesses at Army Futures Command is about finding new ways to get after the challenges the service faces, Murray said, but it comes with challenges.
“This outreached to small business is not because there is anything wrong with traditional defense primes, it’s really an outreach to find new ways to solve our problems,” he said. “I’ve been in the Army 37 years and I think about solving our problems a certain way. I guarantee a lot of these small businesses think about how to solve problems a different way.
“Part of the challenge I have with small business is comfortably describing our problem to them. I can’t talk in acronyms, I can’t talk with 37 years of experience, I need to talk very clearly and very plainly.”
Murray said his teams have staged events, such as a recent one where they had startups come in and figure out how to move artillery shells 250 meters using autonomous unmanned systems. And those events have been instructive, he said.
Ultimately, however, the Army is going to go with the business that can best meet the requirements the service lays out, he said.
“What it really comes down to is what are our problems and where is the best place – whether that’s small business or a university or a traditional prime – where is the best place to solve that problem?” Murray said. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
04 Sep 19. Trump Administration Seeks Congress’ Help to Facilitate Arms Exports. The Trump administration will ask Congress for legislative fixes and additional funding to help boost international arms sales, officials said Sept. 4. Promoting exports of U.S.-made defense products has been a top foreign and economic policy goal of President Donald Trump. He has sought to bolster the defense industrial base, and loosen restrictions and reduce bureaucratic red tape for selling systems overseas. In April of last year, he issued a national security memorandum regarding U.S. conventional arms transfer policies. It called for “supporting United States industry with appropriate advocacy and trade promotion activities and by simplifying the United States regulatory environment.”
In 2018, foreign military sales increased to $55.6bn, noted Gregory Kausner, deputy director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
“But we will not rest on our laurels,” Kausner said during a panel at a conference in Arlington, Virginia, hosted by Defense News. “We cannot … in this era of hyper competitive [global] defense industries.”
Although the new conventional arms transfer policies were rolled out last year, there are significant implementation objectives that have yet to be fully achieved, said R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs.
“Some of those are directly associated with resourcing at the Department of State and at the Department of Defense. Some of those require some legislative relief that many of you in this room will have a role in as far as advocacy and pointing that out to our colleagues on the Hill,” he told an audience that included members of industry.
“We are looking at the next phase of implementation wickets on conventional arms transfer policy … to modernize the bureau, modernize our resources and our ability to execute at a quicker pace,” he added.
Although the idea has already been floated, the administration will soon formally request $8bn for foreign military financing, or FMF, to help allies and partners purchase U.S.-made equipment, Cooper noted. That has proven to be a successful mechanism for enabling international sales to nations facing budget constraints, he said.
There is bipartisan support in Washington for boosting the defense industrial base, which employs 1.7 million Americans, Cooper said.
“There’s the natural U.S. constituency of American employers and employees that are seeking this, that are seeking further clarity, that are seeking refinement” in arms export initiatives, he said.
Cooper declined to say which specific legislative changes the administration will seek.
“I don’t want to get ahead of what would be rolled out, but these would be non-controversial fixes that allow the bureau to better implement not only conventional arms transfer implementation, but also better implement the day to day workings” of offices responsible for handling these issues, he said.
“There are interested parties on both the House and the Senate committees of jurisdiction that have said, ‘You know, we’re willing to entertain’” legislative action, he added.
Efforts to ramp up arms sales comes as the United States is engaged in great power competition with China and Russia.
Selling U.S. military equipment abroad serves the national defense strategy by improving partner capacity and interoperability. It also strengthens political relationships, the panelists noted. If the U.S. government doesn’t effectively promote arms sales, potential customers will turn to other sources of supply, Cooper said.
“As I’ve said to many members of Congress, … if we don’t get ahead of our adversaries or if we do not foster secure relationships, the vacuum will be filled” by other nations, Cooper said. “A denial of a sale or denial of a relationship doesn’t just mean that that capability goes away or that requirement goes away. That partner will seek it elsewhere.” (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
04 Sep 19. DOD to Divert $3.6bn to Fund 11 Barrier Projects at Southern Border. Defense Department officials say 127 military construction projects in both the United States and overseas will be deferred to free $3.6bn for construction or augmentation of barriers along 175 miles of the southern U.S. border.
The Department of Homeland Security sent a list of prioritized border construction projects for DOD review in February, Jonathan Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, told reporters yesterday. DOD determined which projects were necessary to support the use of the armed forces in conjunction with the national emergency at the southern border, he said, and also determined which military construction projects could be deferred.
Hoffman said Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper “has determined that such construction projects are necessary to support the use of the armed forces, and, therefore, DOD will undertake 11 border barrier military construction projects on the southern border pursuant to section 2808 of Title X, U.S. Code.”
Family housing, barracks or dormitory projects were not considered for deferment, nor were projects that had already been awarded or those that were expected to be awarded during fiscal year 2019.
The $3.6bn will be delivered to the Army in two allotments, Hoffman said. The first $1.8bn is associated with deferred overseas projects, he said, and the second half of the money, associated with deferred projects in the United States and its territories, will be made available to the Army only if needed.
Kenneth P. Rapuano, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, said the 11 projects at the southern border involve strengthening or augmenting existing, less effective barriers, as well as installing barriers where none currently exist. The projects will enhance about 175 miles of the border, he added.
Hoffman said Homeland Security data shows that the number of resources needed to patrol an area “drops dramatically” where a border barrier has been completed.
He said construction of the border barrier will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of DOD forces supporting DHS’s border security mission. Over time, Hoffman said, border barrier construction may reduce the demand for DOD personnel and capabilities in particular areas. As additional barriers are built, and the current humanitarian and security crises changes, he said, DOD and DHS will continue to evaluate capabilities needed to support the DHS border security mission.
The construction and augmentation projects will happen on property owned by DOD or another federal agency, said Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon’s deputy comptroller. Construction could begin on DOD-owned land within 130 to 145 days. The start of construction on other property will have different timelines, she said.
Hoffman said that DHS, DOD and the Army Corps of Engineers are moving as expeditiously as possible.
“They have been going through the planning, the permitting process, and the [engineering] process to begin the projects,” Hoffman said. “So, the goal is to move out as quickly as possible.” (Source: US DoD)
04 Sep 19. Bioengineering, lasers and more drones: Griffin outlines the Pentagon’s tech wish list. If the U.S. wants to maintain its military edge over competitors Russia and China, it has to be smart with how it invests its relatively limited research and development funds. The good news for the Pentagon? Mike Griffin, its technology head, has a plan.
Griffin, speaking Wednesday at the 2019 Defense News Conference, argued that the strategic picture around the world has dramatically changed in the last 20 years, with the long-standing global order shifting and the Pentagon adjusting accordingly.
“New weapons have been built. New strategic alliances have been formed. New behavior has emerged, behavior we had hoped we consigned to the past. So what might work? Realistically, we’re not going to change the values of our peer competitors. We’re not going to outnumber them,” Griffin said. “What we can do is maintain a clear overmatch in both capability and capacity, and those two axes are different.”
So where will the Pentagon get its capability overmatch? Griffin outlined a few areas in which he wants to invest.
Directed energy: Griffin said laser weapons are the future of warfare, and always will be. But he believes certain systems are showing more promise than others.
“We haven’t had money for everything that we might like to do, so we’re focusing on nearer-term applications of directed energy, particularly lasers of higher power than we currently have,” Griffin said. That means aiming for systems in the “hundreds of kilowatts” as well as investing in high-powered microwave technology, he noted.
One area previously discussed was a neutral particle beam system, which could be posted in space and used for missile defense. However, Griffin said his team is “deferring” work on that system “indefinitely,” as it is not near-term enough for R&E’s limited funding.
Biotechnology: Griffin warned the crowd that the Defense Department must improve its understanding of biotechnology, “especially with bioengineering and the use of biological systems to manufacture things that we’ve been doing the old-fashioned ways.”
“The petroleum that we mine and use was the result of nature’s bioengineering. The other things we use today are the result of nature’s bioengineering. We need to figure out how it’s done and do it on an industrial scale.”
The tech head pointed to penicillin as an example of where humankind took something that was naturally occurring and synthetically reproduced it, noting that a major push for the medicine occurred only during World War II when a need became acute. Rather than wait for a disaster to strike, Griffin seemed to argue, the Defense Department should invest now toward discovering ways to bioengineer solutions.
Unmanned systems: Across land, sea, air and space, Griffin said unmanned capability is an area of needed investment.
“We can’t afford to put our people at risk” in the battlefields of the future, he said. “We need advances in autonomy. Self-driving cars may be out there on the horizon, self-driving logistics trains may be closer,” but more work is needed.
Hand in hand with that are new developments in “persistent and timely global awareness” as well as the use of artificial intelligence to handle the infamous “tsunami” of data coming in from the Pentagon’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.
“How do we find and identify and track and maintain custody on potential targets? How do we know when the situation has changed, how do we monitor patterns of life?” he said. “It is not useful if we have to have people looking constantly at the data.”
Other key tech: Quantum technology — in particular, quantum clocks to enable positioning in the event of GPS-denied environments — “are critical,” Griffin said.
And the next-generation network known as 5G will be vital for enabling multiple capabilities, which is why Griffin wants to work with industry partners now, involving the Pentagon early in 5G development. (Source: Defense News)
04 Sep 19. Defense of Indo-Pacific Requires Joint Capabilities, Solutions. The importance of joint operations in defending the Indo-Pacific region has increased by an order of magnitude, U.S. military leaders said.
At a conference in Arlington, Virginia, sponsored by Defense News, the paper’s David Larter moderated a joint service panel titled “Defending the Pacific.”
All panel members stressed the importance of joint solutions in multidomain operations they foresee taking place in the region, and they discussed what the return to great power competition means to the U.S. effort in the region.
There is no doubt that an increased threat from China and Russia in the Indo-Pacific region has meant changes to U.S. strategy and requirements, and the National Defense Strategy is the tie that binds in the region, the panelists said.
“The concept of multidomain operations, the concept of being able to connect any shooter with any weapon to any sensor, is not a small challenge,” said Maj. Gen. Mike Fantini, the Air Force’s director of wartime integration.
Fantini said he sees a time when it doesn’t matter which service owns a sensor. All services will be networked together so the command can “execute thousands of kill chains in hundreds of hours,” he said.
“If we are able to pull that off,” he added, “our potential adversaries will think twice before they start to step off.”
Vice Adm. Stuart B. Munsch, the Navy’s deputy chief of operations, plans and strategy, said the new situation requires a new look. The United States had not had a comprehensive adversary for three decades, he noted. “As a result of that,” he said, “we are restoring some behaviors that used to be second nature to us.”
While new capabilities grab the headlines in a way that new quarterbacks do in football, “the blocking and tackling” are just as important, Munsch said. Logistics enables everything done in the region and beyond, the admiral said, and more attention must now be paid to that aspect of warfare.
Everything is predicated on the truism that all in the Defense Department are members of a joint force, said Lt. Gen. Eric M. Smith, commander of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. This is even more important in the Indo-Pacific region, he said, because the distances in the region are overwhelming and the resources of any one service would be spread thin.
Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, director of the Army’s Future Concepts Center, said force posture in the region and worldwide needs to be studied. He said there is a need to have resources based forward to challenge competitors who are not afraid to pursue their goals “left of conflict.”
“The degree to which we find ourselves forward-postured will measure the degree which we can effectively deal with that against China and Russia,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
04 Sep 19. US Air Force to keep A-10 off the chopping block in next budget request. The A-10 Warthog will not be one of the planes the U.S. Air Force requests to retire in its upcoming fiscal 2021 budget request, a senior service official confirmed.
During a speech at the Defense News Conference on Wednesday morning, acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan stoked speculation that the service will retire the A-10 after announcing that its FY21 budget request will include “controversial changes” such as the divestment of legacy aircraft.
But speaking at the conference later that day, Lt. Gen. Timothy Fay, deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, confirmed that the A-10 is not one of the aircraft under consideration for divestment and will stay in service until the 2030s.
“Short answer: No,” Fay said, when asked whether the Warthog is on the cutting block. “I will tell you, I wish the response had been that the Air Force is actually bold enough to get after the threats that we’re facing.”
Read more from 2019 Defense News conference!
The decision to retain the A-10 likely prevents another major battle with Congress over the fate of the aircraft — one in which the Air Force found itself when proposing to mothball the fleet in FY15. After several unsuccessful requests to retire the plane, which lawmakers rebuffed, the Air Force decided to keep it in its FY18 budget.
It then restarted an effort to replace the wings on a portion of the A-10 fleet, awarding Boeing an initial $240m in August to produce 27 wing sets. Under a previous contract, Boeing put new wings on 173 Warthogs, including one that crashed, and its latest contract could be worth as much as $999m if the Air Force decides to re-wing the rest of the 109 A-10s that need replacements.
But Air Force leaders have not committed to replacing the wings on all 281 A-10s currently in service.
“We are not confident that we’re flying all of the A-10s that we currently possess through 2025 with our plan,” said Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, during a House Armed Services Committee panel in 2018.
The Air Force is considering divesting aircraft as part of a Pentagon-wide review directed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper. As the Army’s secretary, Esper oversaw a similar “night court” effort to divert funds from legacy programs into ones deemed necessary to combat Russia and China.
“We need to shift funding and allegiance from legacy programs we can no longer afford due to their incompatibility with future battlefields and into the capabilities and systems that the nation requires for victory. There’s no way around it,” Donovan said earlier at the conference. (Source: Defense News)
04 Sep 19. Pentagon reveals fate of money paid to industry after missile defense program was canceled. The Pentagon will not seek repayment from industry for money tied to the now-canceled Redesigned Kill Vehicle program, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin confirmed Tuesday.
Griffin, delivering a keynote address at the 2019 Defense News Conference, said that the money spent still provides a return for the department, even though the program ended in a failure that will set U.S. missile defense efforts back “a few years.”
“We terminated for convenience, not default. There are no paybacks due, and we learned quite a lot that we’ll carry forward into the next-generation interceptor,” Griffin said. “The money, which was spent, did not go toward hardware which will be mothballed somewhere — it went towards the acquisition of knowledge, which will inform our future.”
The Redesigned Kill Vehicle would have replaced the current Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle on the Ground-Based Interceptor, which makes up the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system designed to protect the homeland from ballistic missile threats.
The redesigned variant would have also been fielded on all future ground-based interceptors — ultimately a total of 64.
Griffin made the decision on Aug. 14 to terminate the program due to what was termed “technical design problems.” The Pentagon plans to move forward with a new, next-generation interceptor competition.
More than $1bn have been spent on the program, primarily to Boeing and Raytheon.
“Obviously we weren’t pleased,” Griffin said of the decision. “Not every new development works out. … We chose to recognize that fact rather than just continue to throw money at it.” (Source: Defense News)
04 Sep 19. US lawmakers press Trump to release aid for Ukraine to fight Russia. A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is pressuring the Trump administration to release $250m in military aid to Ukraine.
In a letter sent Tuesday to acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, the leaders of the Senate’s bipartisan Ukraine Caucus expressed “deep concerns” as the Trump administration evaluates the aid package.
Vice President Mike Pence, a day earlier in Warsaw, Poland, voiced U.S. support for Ukraine and condemned Russia’s “illegal occupation of Crimea and Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.” But Pence also expressed concerns about Ukraine’s corruption problems and seemed to confirm that President Donald Trump asked that the aid package be reviewed.
“I mean, to invest additional taxpayer in Ukraine, the president wants to be assured that those resources are truly making their way to the kind of investments that will contribute to security and stability in Ukraine,” Pence told reporters. “And that’s an expectation the American people have and the president has expressed very clearly.”
Pence said that when he and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met in Warsaw, they discussed America’s support for Ukraine and “the upcoming decision the president will make on the latest tranche of financial support, in great detail.”
The move to hold up the aid, which helps Ukraine buy lethal weapons and was first reported by Politico last week, sparked bipartisan ire. Lawmakers argue the U.S. must maintain its commitment to help Ukraine defend against Russia-backed separatists, since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
The aid “has helped Ukraine develop the independent military capabilities and skills necessary to fend off the Kremlin’s continued onslaughts within its territory,” the lawmakers wrote. The funding falls under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
Tuesday’s letter to Mulvaney comes from Ukraine Caucus co-chairs Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., as well as Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Dick Blumenthal, D-Conn.; and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Johnson chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, and Shaheen is its top Democrat.
“U.S.-funded security assistance has already helped turn the tide in this conflict, and it is necessary to ensure the protection of the sovereign territory of this young country, going forward,” they wrote.
The letter follows separate pushback on social media from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.
“In willfully delaying these funds, the Trump Administration is once again trying to circumvent Congress’ Constitutional prerogative of appropriating funds for U.S. government agencies,” Menendez said in a statement. “It is also undermining a key policy priority that has broad and deep bipartisan support.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe, wrote in a tweet Thursday: “This is unacceptable. It was wrong when [President Barack] Obama failed to stand up to [Russian President Vladimir[ Putin in Ukraine, and it’s wrong now.”
The Trump administration’s reported request for senior officials ― Defense Secretary Mark Esper and national security adviser John Bolton ― to review the aid package became public after the White House lost an internal battle to cut $4bn foreign aid.
U.S. lawmakers have urged Trump to take a harder line on Russia on a number of fronts since he took office. The latest controversy comes days after Trump campaigned to reinstate Russia into the Group of Seven, or G-7, during its annual gathering in Biarritz, France. Russia was excluded in 2014 after its annexation of Crimea.
In response to questions Tuesday, a State Department official emphasized that U.S. policy supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression remains unchanged and that the U.S. has committed more than $1.5bn in aid over time. Bolton visited Kyiv just days ago, while Secretary of State Pompeo issued a recent statement of support.
“The United States remains steadfast in its support for a prosperous, democratic, and free Ukraine, secure within its internationally recognized borders,” Pompeo said Aug. 24 to recognize Ukrainian Independence Day. (Source: Defense News)
04 Sep 19. Military Must Be Ready to Confront Hybrid Threats, Intel Official Says. Hybrid warfare — also known as grey zone conflict or low-intensity conflict — is a reality, and the U.S. military must be ready to confront and deter it, a senior intelligence officer said.
Army Lt. Gen. Karen H. Gibson, the deputy director of national intelligence for national security partnerships, discussed the lessons learned in combating hybrid warfare during the Defense News conference in Arlington, Virginia, today. Hybrid warfare is the effort to achieve strategic objectives without using significant force, the general said. It is an amorphous definition for an amorphous strategy. Hybrid warfare can include information operations, troop movements, disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks or a combination of all these things. It can also include actual force, as the Russians used in Ukraine.
Hybrid warfare takes many forms. The Chinese efforts in the South China Sea are a form of hybrid warfare. The Russians in Georgia and Ukraine is another. Russia is also continuing efforts to influence European nations with regard to NATO, as the Chinese are working to undermine alliances in the Pacific.
Hybrid warfare is not new, the general said, noting that the Nazis used a form of hybrid warfare before World War II. Sun Tzu, a Chinese general and strategist who lived more than 2,500 years ago, famously said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting” and “All warfare is based on deception.”
What is different now, Gibson said, “is the unprecedented ability to use information as an element of warfare with much greater volume, velocity, breadth and depth and precision than previously possible, because global IT systems have made us more connected, more automated and allowed for more precise messaging than ever before.”
This development allows adversaries to promulgate vast volumes of information and the ability to target precise audiences, the general explained. The risks and opportunities will only increase as artificial intelligence developments occur and as the internet of things matures, she added.
Hybrid warfare is appealing to nations or groups that want to challenge the United States, Gibson said, because countries do not wish to be on the receiving end of U.S. conventional military might in any domain. Nations saw the U.S. way of war in operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. They want no part of that type of conflict, the general said.
Further, she said, hybrid warfare is low risk, low cost and provides an adversary the opportunity to obfuscate, throwing doubt on who is responsible for these grey zone actions.
Gibson cited the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons as an example. “An indicator to us that the regime might be about to use chemicals would be planting information that the opposition has chemicals,” she said. “Then, when there is chlorine in the village, who is to say it came from a barrel bomb?” This type of tactic is a particular problem with consensus-driven organizations such as NATO, she said.
The challenge for U.S. intelligence is identifying, and providing “public attribution of what our adversaries are doing,” Gibson said. Part of this challenge is the fact that the intelligence community does not want to give away sources and methods, she said, and another is simply the time it takes to ensure accuracy. (Source: US DoD)
01 Sep 19. Esper’s pledge to trim pointless programs will test his political clout. As U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper launches a comprehensive review that promises to cut costs and target legacy programs that drain money from next-generation capabilities, he ought to gird himself for fights with lawmakers, defense industry lobbyists and perhaps the White House.
“The idea is to take a hard look at our activities so that everything we do drives towards our strategic objectives, which are designed to achieve our policy aims,” Esper said this week in describing the scope of the effort. “If something doesn’t, then we ask ourselves, ‘Why are we doing it?’ and ‘What should we be doing instead?’ ”
While Esper is likely to find broad agreement that the Pentagon should take bold action to reshape the military for competition with Russia and China, he will almost definitely be fought on the specifics, as there are potentially billions of dollars in revenue for defense firms as well as local jobs on the line. Defense News interviewed several analysts and observers about the political challenges and how Esper might navigate them.
“There are plenty of people on Capitol Hill who understand we need to change and who believe it is important for the future effectiveness of the U.S. military. The problem, as it always is, is the devil’s in the details,” said Chris Brose, a former staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, now head of strategy for Anduril Industries. “People want to change until change hits their bottom line or takes something out of their state or district. But that in and of itself isn’t ‘game over.’”
To be sure, Esper — who was the chief lobbyist for weapons-maker Raytheon when President Donald Trump picked him to be Army secretary in 2017 — is probably well-aware of the dynamics. As his Army-wide “night court” review reduced, delayed or canceled 200 programs to free up about $25bn, he saw industry and its representatives in Congress push for reversals.
Not all of those fights are over. The Army’s plans to scuttle a Block II upgrade of the CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopter, for example, triggered fears of layoffs at Boeing’s Philadelphia factory and a backlash from local lawmakers. After some wrangling, the Senate-passed policy bill backed the ground service, and the House-passed spending and policy bills added millions the Army didn’t request ― which means talks between the two chambers will have to reconcile the two approaches.
At a Washington think tank event in May, Esper said there will be new opportunities for industry, but he also pushed back on opponents of potential cuts. Forward-looking “general officers, who have been battle-tested for decades, and civilians, who have studied and war-gamed the future,” he said, have more credibility with him than industry’s “parochial” concerns.
“These professionals are motivated by nothing other than the intense desire to win the next war and bring our soldiers home safely,” Esper said. “While the bias for defense companies is to upgrade existing systems, the best way to build resilience into our industrial base is by adapting to the needs of the future, and meeting us there.”
One public advocate for the CH-47F upgrade said of the broader effort that Esper will run afoul of the White House unless he delays major acquisition changes until after the 2020 presidential election, particularly when there could be program cuts that equate to lost jobs in states Trump needs to secure the presidency.
Loren Thompson, a paid industry consultant and analyst with the Lexington Institute, was bearish on Esper’s chances of making a deep impact anytime soon.
“We’re too close to the presidential election, and nobody [at the White House] wants to lose votes by killing a program,” Thompson said. “If you want to accomplish a successful top-to-bottom review, you have to wait until a second Trump administration.”
“Can he accomplish trivial efficiencies? Sure, but if he wants to kill a major weapons program, if he wants to close a base, if he wants to eliminate a key benefit, forget it,” he added. “Every company that sees the possibility of a program being cut will mount a successful opposition effort on Capitol Hill.”
Trump would not be the first president to back off of defense cuts for political reasons, but he and his administration have been markedly vocal about protecting America’s defense-industrial base and the jobs it creates. Ahead of a reelection fundraiser in March in the bellwether state of Ohio, Trump visited a General Dynamics plant in Lima that makes the Stryker combat vehicle and the M1 Abrams tank. He delivered an hourlong speech in which he took credit for keeping the plant open.
In February, news broke of the Pentagon’s plan to find savings by canceling an overhaul of the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman, even though that would have hurt the shipyard performing the work at Newport News, Va. That yard, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, is the state’s largest industrial employer. When Vice President Mike Pence visited Norfolk in April, he announced that Trump had intervened to scrap the Pentagon’s plan.
Defense secretaries at least as far back as Donald Rumsfeld in the early aughts have wanted to cut legacy programs to modernize, but the extent of Esper’s ambitions won’t be clear until the 2021 budget request, said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The words have been said before and I think all of the previous [defense secretaries] meant it, but the question is how much political capital Esper wants to put at risk,” Harrison said.
Harrison suggested the 2021 budget may be the best ― or last, depending on the outcome of the presidential election ― opportunity for Esper to make a significant impact.
If Esper wants to follow a successful model, consider when then-Defense Secretary Bob Gates thwarted resistance to his budget cuts by sharing his plans early with industry, Capitol Hill and the White House, Harrison noted. Gates managed to balance a battery of program cuts with protecting high-priority programs, as he’s said to have argued to Lockheed Martin that scrapping the F-22 fighter would save the F-35 program.
“You have to be transparent, not just with Congress and industry, but also the White House,” Harrison said, “And it’s incumbent on DoD to pre-brief the White House on, ‘Here are the pros and cons of this decision.’ If it’s going to cost jobs, don’t let the White House be surprised by it.”
Mark Cancian, senior international security adviser with CSIS, said the Department of Defense already has a mechanism Esper could use: the annual budget and program review process. The secretary could take personal charge of it, though it’s typically convened by the deputy defense secretary with support from issue-based teams.
“Every recent secretary has conducted a review like this to squeeze the fourth estate, so there’s no low-hanging fruit left,” Cancian said, referring to a collection of agencies and field activities that fall under the Pentagon’s purview. “If you want any savings, you have to be willing to spend some political capital and accept some controversy.”
Esper could go for big savings by trying to close military bases, phase out dozens of on-base schools, move non-war-fighting medical research to the National Institutes of Health, or transfer military dependents and retirees on the military medical establishment to civilian sources. All of the above have constituencies that would be outraged.
How to do it? Another defense secretary who succeeded at cutting costs, Dick Cheney, managed to scare up support from lawmakers to authorize the Base Realignment and Closure process by threatening to close bases without it, Cancian recalled.
To Brose, the former staff director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, Esper must seize his chance to make tough and far-reaching budget decisions to compete with China and Russia ― beyond organizational tweaks. He’d best succeed if he personally takes charge, is transparent with Congress, makes allies of the winners in future modernization efforts and argues for change based on effectiveness rather than cost savings alone.
“Congress will always find money for the things it wants to buy, that’s an iron rule of the budget process,” Brose said. “So it can’t simply be about efficiencies, but a more effective future force.”
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