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26 Nov 19. Russia says it showed hypersonic nuclear missile system to U.S. inspectors. Russia’s Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday it had shown the country’s new Avangard nuclear missile system to U.S. inspectors for the first time, a move Moscow said showed a key arms control treaty was still effective. Russia is due to deploy next month the Avangard system, a hypersonic glide vehicle designed to sit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, one of several new types of weapons touted by President Vladimir Putin as ahead of their time.
The Defence Ministry said a group of visiting U.S. arms inspectors had been shown the Avangard system from Nov. 24-26 under the auspices of the New START treaty, which came into effect in 2011.
The treaty limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads the world’s two biggest nuclear powers can deploy to no more than 1,550 each.
The treaty, which is due to expire in 2021, also curbs the number of nuclear launchers and deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers they can have.
Putin has said Moscow is ready to extend the pact, but has complained about what he sees as Washington’s lack of interest.
President Donald Trump, who told Putin in 2017 he thought it a bad deal for the United States, will only decide next year whether or not to extend the treaty, U.S. officials have said.
It was signed by Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, with Russia in 2010. (Source: Reuters)
26 Nov 19. US Navy struggles with stopping dirt from clogging Osprey engines, report warns. Although the V-22 Osprey aircraft entered service more than a dozen years ago, Navy officials still can’t figure out how to keep dirt and sand from clogging the tiltrotor’s engines and causing potentially catastrophic mechanical failure, according to a report released this month by the Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General.
Operated by the Marine Corps and Air Force but overseen by the Navy, Ospreys rely on innovative tiltrotor engines that allow them to take off and land like helicopters but fly like fixed-wing planes.
But keeping sand and soil from being sucked into the engines when the aircraft picks up or drops off personnel on natural terrain continues to bedevil the Naval Air Systems Command program office, according to the IG.
The Engine Air Particle Separator, or EAPS, was supposed to shield the Osprey’s engines from particulates, but NAVAIR officials have repeatedly failed to design an adequate EAPS since the aircraft first entered service in 2007, IG investigators wrote.
The EAPS is placed in front of the engine and is supposed to create a powerful vacuum to pull dirt away before it can enter the engine.
Without EAPS, too much soil can inhibit engine air flow, raising the risk of midair engine failure.
Ospreys suffered eight “rapid power loss events” in the engines due to EAPS failure between 2008 and 2015, according to the IG report.
“Although the eight engine rapid power loss events did not result in a catastrophic accident, the engines had degraded to a point where engine failure was possible,” IG determined.
“The V-22 remains at risk despite more than nine years of EAPS redesign attempts,” the IG report states.
NAVAIR undertook but aborted two EAPS redesign efforts over the past decade and is in the midst of a third try, which IG believes might not provide proper engine protection.
Officials with the V-22 Joint Program Office “could not provide analysis that demonstrated whether this redesign would adequately protect the engine,” according to the report.
Program officials also “stated that is it not technically feasible to meet the engine manufacturer’s specification for air quality in a desert environment,” IG found.
“Although the third EAPS redesign may remove more soil than the original EAPS, (program office officials) could not provide any analysis demonstrating the expected results…or whether the EAPS would remove enough soil to adequately protect the engine when operating in all desert environments,” according to IG.
While V-22 program officials told IG they could not test for every type of soil an Osprey may operate in, investigators noted in the report that the office is not taking advantage of the military’s ability to tailor soil samples for aircraft testing.
Program officials pushed back on the IG’s recommendation that the office review alternatives to help ensure the EAPS protects the Ospreys in all environments and argued that such a prescription fails to take into account the program office’s “multi-layered approach” to solving the EAPS problem.
But IG officials wrote that “It is not clear what impact this multi-layered approach may have on the reliability of the V-22 engine.”
“The Deputy Program Manager…stated that extensive research has led (the program office) to conclude that it is not technically possible to develop, integrate and field an EAPS that is fully capable of protecting the V-22 engine from all possible soil types and concentrations for unlimited durations,” according to the report.
Other program office efforts include an aircrew notification system, so that members on board can be made aware of “impending engine degradation,” IG indicated.
The program office initially confronted EAPS glitches in 2010. While operating in desert conditions, engines that were supposed to run for 500 hours before replacement could manage only 200 hours of service.
When the program office was developing the specification for the EAPS design, it didn’t require the system to meet the engine manufacturer’s performance specification, according to the IG report.
This month’s report is the latest to raise questions about the Osprey.
Data released by the Marine Corps earlier this year also revealed the Osprey fleet’s mission capable rate hovered at less than 60 percent due to maintenance problems and staffing shortages. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Military Times)
26 Nov 19. The Cost of Supporting Military Bases. In 2016, the military services allocated $25bn to base operations support (BOS). CBO explores characteristics of bases and the mission of the units they serve, analyzing the relationship between those characteristics and BOS costs.
- What Data Did CBO Use to Analyze the Cost of Base Operations Support?
- What Did CBO Find?
- What Are Some Limitations of CBO’s Analysis?
The Department of Defense (DoD) operates hundreds of bases that support the daily operations of units in the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy, providing services such as housing, utilities, and grounds maintenance, much as might be found in a town or city. In 2016, $25bn—about 4 percent of DoD’s budget— was allocated to the costs of such services, called base operations support (BOS). The costs of providing such support vary between bases, and the factors that affect those costs are not clearly understood. In this report, CBO explores certain characteristics of bases, such as their size, geographic location, and the mission of the units they serve, and uses statistical methods to assess the relationship between those characteristics and BOS costs.
What Data Did CBO Use to Analyze the Cost of Base Operations Support?
CBO assembled 2016 data on more than 200 bases (about 90 percent of active-duty bases) in all four services. The characteristics CBO measured include the number of full-time DoD employees at a base, its building space, and its land area. Other characteristics CBO considered include the base’s location (in the United States or overseas), the branch of service running it, the primary mission of the units it hosts, whether it hosts a significant number of transient personnel, the local climate, and the local cost of living. (Source: Congressional Budget Office)
26 Nov 19. Trump’s rising interference in military irks Pentagon. Concerns grow that president is politicising defence department after Navy Seal case. Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher’s rank was restored by President Trump in a controversial decision this month. When Mark Esper, US defence secretary, fired the head of the navy on Sunday, it marked the latest chapter in the turbulent relationship between Pentagon leaders and Donald Trump. Over the past three years, the commander-in-chief has blindsided his generals with impromptu decisions to withdraw troops from Syria, slammed allies from Germany to Japan, abruptly cancelled military exercises to please Kim Jong Un, and irked the Pentagon by demanding a military parade. But the latest controversy — over the case of a Navy Seal convicted of a war crime in Iraq that culminated in the firing of Richard Spencer, the Navy secretary — has created a bigger headache for the top brass because it played out publicly in real time. Chief Petty Officer Eddie Gallagher was acquitted in July of several war crimes but was convicted of posing for a photo beside the corpse of an Isis detainee he had killed. He was demoted as a result but Mr Trump restored his rank in a controversial decision this month. Mr Trump angered the Pentagon with the announcement, which also included a pre-emptive pardon for a soldier facing trial over a death in Afghanistan. Mr Esper and General Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs, urged him to let the military justice system play out but were ignored.
Given that this case became a cause célèbre among conservative media, there may in the future be an incentive to campaign in such media in hopes of garnering the president’s attention and action Richard Fontaine, Center for a New American Security “This feels like an inflection point,” said one retired senior officer, who warned that Mr Trump had already politicised other government agencies, such as the homeland security and state departments. “Trump has been chipping away at the apolitical, non-partisan nature of the defence department but this feels different. He is trying to complete the trifecta by politicising the Pentagon.” The Pentagon was forced to accept the Gallagher decision but the Navy planned to convene a panel to determine if he could retire as a Seal — a move that angered Mr Trump. Mr Spencer, the Navy secretary, then tried to cut a deal with the White House that would create a veneer of maintaining order by letting Chief Gallagher retain his Seal status if Mr Trump agreed not to intervene in his case.
Mr Trump on Monday said he had been thinking for a “long time” about firing Mr Spencer, an ally of Jim Mattis, who resigned as defence secretary in December over disagreements with the president. But military justice experts said the president’s involvement in the case had raised more serious concerns. Rachel VanLandingham, a retired Air Force judge advocate and professor at Southwestern Law School, said Mr Spencer had offered a “different flavour of corruption than that which has already infected the military justice system by the president”. But she stressed that while Mr Trump had the right to take the action as commander-in-chief, his move to get involved set a dangerous precedent. “This is not an order of legality. It’s an issue of propriety,” said Ms VanLandingham. The Gallagher case has also renewed questions about the influence that Fox News, the conservative television network, has on Mr Trump. Some of the network’s anchors championed the case of Chief Gallagher. Mr Trump also reportedly cancelled a strike on Iran over the summer in response to the downing of an American drone because of criticism from Tucker Carlson, another Fox anchor. Richard Fontaine, a former aide to John McCain who heads the Center for a New American Security, a think-tank, said: “Given that this case became a cause célèbre among conservative media, there may in the future be an incentive to campaign in such media in hopes of garnering the president’s attention and action.”
The Gallagher controversy has also resurrected much broader concerns about the way Mr Trump deals with the military. The announcement two weeks ago came as Mr Esper and Gen Milley were in Asia where they spent time reassuring Japan and South Korea that Mr Trump was committed to the US allies despite his previous disparaging comments about Tokyo and Seoul. Recommended US foreign policy Pence lands in Turkey with Trump under pressure at home Kori Schake, an expert on the US military and deputy director-general of IISS, a think-tank, said the Pentagon leadership was “really anxious” about “the president’s erratic behaviour”, which she stressed both undercut deterrence and damaged critical US alliances around the world. Military experts say the Pentagon was happy with some of the early actions taken by the president, such as the decision to strike Syria with cruise missiles in 2017 over its use of chemical weapons. But Ms Schake said much of the goodwill had been undone by “arbitrary withdrawal decisions” in Syria.
Mr Trump last month came under fierce criticism for not doing more to try to stop Turkey from launching an incursion into Syria. While US military leaders largely agreed with his decision to withdraw the tiny number of American special forces operating in the vicinity of the attack, he complicated matters by announcing a complete withdrawal from the country. This was slowly rolled back by the Pentagon, as occurred after his Syria withdrawal announcement last year. Syria was a clear example of the fine line that Mr Esper, who recently became the permanent successor to Mr Mattis, and Gen Milley are having to walk in their new positions. “The best bellwether is Gen Milley’s expression,” said Ms Schake. “He wanted the job . . . and now looks like Prometheus watching his vultures drop in to pick at his liver.” (Source: FT.com)
25 Nov 19. Chairman Aims to Reassure Allies in Middle East. Assure and deter is the message the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is delivering during a trip to the Middle East. Army Gen. Mark Milley is meeting with national and military leaders to assure allies and partners in the region and deter Iran from malign behavior.
Milley is carrying an important message to U.S. allies and service members on a whirlwind trip around the world.
“I think that’s an important message to always remind people that the United States of America is a global power, and we remain committed to our responsibilities throughout different regions,” Milley said.
Last week, the chairman visited the Indo-Pacific region, meeting with Japanese and South Korean leaders.
Yesterday, he visited his Israeli counterpart in Tel Aviv before traveling to Jordan. Now, he is heading to Bahrain to meet military leaders and visit with U.S. service members based in the strategic Persian Gulf nation.
Later this month, he will visit European allies.
He also getting into specifics with his counterparts, building the military-to-military relationship that he has said is important to interoperability and cooperation.
“Each country is unique,” he said. “So, I talked about all the various issues, you know, whether it’s training and interoperability or whether it’s broader contingency planning and national security decision-making within the region.”
He is also talking to allies about Iran and the malign activities they sponsor throughout the region.
“They’re the world’s number one sponsor of terrorism. They have conducted a wide variety of support to terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East region, and that’s widely known,” Milley said.
Deterring Iran from further hostile acts is on the minds of U.S. allies in the Middle East, the chairman said. But countering Iran is tough because they can lash out overtly, nation versus nation, or covertly, via cyber attacks or attacks by Iranian-sponsored or -funded terror groups.
But Milley said the first step is getting Iran back to the negotiating table. The U.S. military mission is subordinate to, and in support of, diplomatic efforts that are ongoing by the U.S. government and deter any sort of external aggression by Iran against U.S. national security interests, Milley said.
As a means of deterring Iran, Milley said the U.S. has sent forces with defensive capabilities to Saudi Arabia and beefed up its overall presence in the Persian Gulf in response to Iranian attacks.
“If your opponent knows that you have capability … and you have a demonstrated will to use it, and [the adversary] clearly and unambiguously understands that, then the probability is that deterrence will obtain,” Milley said.
Milley said he doesn’t want to speculate on what Iran could do, because no one can predict the future with any degree of certainty. “All we can do is deal in degrees of probability. And I think there is a possibility, for sure, that … Iran is aggressive in the region against their neighboring states. … Will they continue to do that in the future? I don’t know, I would like to say no, but it’s certainly possible they will,” he said.
Milley also answered a question about the firing of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer. He said Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper made the decision for good reasons, and the decision is a matter for civilian leaders. Milley added that he supports Esper’s decision.
“In the broader issue of processes, etc., the secretary of defense, the president of the United States are all part of the process, and they made a decision,” he said. “As far as I am concerned now, the case is closed, and it is time to move on and address the national security of the United States.” (Source: US DoD)
25 Nov 19. Congress to target Russian pipeline in defense bill. Congress’s must-pass defense policy bill will be the vehicle to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s $11bn project to deliver natural gas to Europe via a new pipeline from Russia to Germany, a top U.S. lawmaker revealed Friday. Sanctions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have been added to the draft 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch told Defense News on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum.
The inclusion of the sanctions in the bill is a strong sign, but House and Senate lawmakers have yet to reach a final deal on the massive bill.
“The reason for the push is that this window is closing. A lot of Nord Stream is done already,” said Risch, R-Idaho, adding he believes the sanctions will persuade the construction firms involved to stop work on the project.
“It will cost them dearly. I think if those sanctions pass [the companies] will shut down, and I think the Russians will have to look for another way to do this, if they can do this,” Risch said.
The plan to transport natural gas about 1,200-kilometers (746-miles) through the Baltic Sea from Russia to Europe has come under fire from President Donald Trump’s administration and several European countries, who argue it will increase Europe’s dependence on Russia for energy.
Risch said the addition of the language in the bill, which falls under the jurisdictions of the armed services committees, reflects an agreement between the administration, the House and Senate, and the banking committees.
The text of the sanctions provision has not been made public, but Risch said it is close to the “Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act,” sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed 20-to-2 in July. That bill would sanction companies operating vessels that lay pipes for the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipelines. The pipeline is owned by Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom, though half the cost is being financed by five European energy companies. (Source: Defense News)
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