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15 Jan 20. Army secretary: Harder decisions to come in budgets beyond FY21. Harder decisions will come in future budget requests following the fiscal 2021 ask expected to roll out Feb. 10, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Jan. 15 at a Defense Writers Group event in Washington.
The service is facing flat budgets in the coming years, and without the ability to grow, the Army has scoured its entire budget looking for ways to afford ambitious modernization plans through a process it calls night court.
In the Army’s first night court, the chief, secretary, vice chief and undersecretary presided over decisions — big and small, easy and tough — for roughly 600 programs, shifting $33bn from programs across the FY20 through FY24 five-year plan.
In FY20, the Army is investing $8.6bn in modernization efforts and, across the next five years, investing a total of $57bn, a 137 percent increase from the previous year’s five-year plan.
A couple of major programs — the CH-47 F-model Chinook Block II cargo helicopter and the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle — took major hits in FY20 to fund modernization. But across the board, those shifted funds were small muscle movements across a large number of programs.
The service repeated the process for the FY21 budget, which is complete. McCarthy said last year that the Army aimed to find another $10bn across the five-year plan to apply to priority programs, but he didn’t say at Wednesday’s event whether the service achieved that goal.
The Army plans to conduct rounds of night court for the FY22 through FY26 plan after picking much of the low-hanging fruit from programs that will no longer meet the service’s future needs.
While McCarthy was careful not to detail the contents of the FY21 budget request yet to be released by the White House, he said the cuts and funding shifts “were refinements” to previous decisions “where you get to greater specificity.”
Following FY21, it’s likely the Army will make bigger cuts and decrements to current fleets and programs because it will have a better sense of how well some of its modernization programs are going, he added. Many of the modernization efforts will see demonstrators and prototypes built and evaluated over the next 18 months, McCarthy said.
“There were some hard choices, there were some cuts,” he said of the FY21 budget. But over the next 24 months, “harder choices are coming again,” he added.
The scale that balances the funding of legacy equipment against new development efforts will tip more toward procuring new equipment in future budgets, McCarthy explained.
“You’ve got to be successful in the form of demonstrations and prototypes before you would want to expand and start buying [low-rate initial production] LRIP tranches obviously,” he said. “The course on those decisions, you get more data, you get success, then you got hard choices when we start buying LRIP tranches. … Do you start scaling long-range fires before helicopters, before armored vehicles, and then, ultimately, as a tiered acquisition approach, so you select units that you outfit … instead of spreading it peanut butter-thin?” (Source: Defense News)
14 Jan 20. Army Chief Describes 3-Pronged Great Power Competition Approach. The National Defense Strategy describes how the Defense Department will be postured to be successful in the great power competition with Russia and China, the Army chief of staff said.
In two words, the National Defense Strategy is to be strong and innovative in order to deter conflict or to win if diplomacy and deterrence fail, Army Gen. James C. McConville said.
McConville spoke about the great power competition today at the Atlantic Council in Washington. Allies and partners, personnel and innovation were the general’s discussed themes.
Allies and Partners
DOD relies heavily on allies and partners, McConville said, noting that he has personally met with 75 chiefs of staff from nations around the world over the course of the last year.
There aren’t enough U.S. soldiers to be in all places in the world at one time where they’re needed, he said.
In order to have well-trained partners who can provide their own security, the Army has recently stood up security force assistance brigades, he said. They train and advise partner nations.
When they are all stood up there will be five active security force assistance brigades and one in the Army National Guard, he said.
In the area of communications, a future integrated command and control network will not only link sensor to shooters across the DOD, but will also be integrated with systems allies and partners use, he said.
The soldier is the Army’s most important and potent weapon, McConville said. Having the right person in the right job is paramount. In order to do this, the Army is finalizing a new personnel system that looks at more than just two variables which the current system uses: rank and job.
This new system will consider 25 variables that include a range of knowledge, skills and even soldier preference.
Perhaps the most important and influential persons in the Army are battalion commanders, he said. A good commander not only knows how to command well, but also influences whether or not soldiers reenlist due to the command climate that commander brings.
Therefore, the Army has developed a new command assessment program for these commanders to ensure only the best are selected. He said physical fitness, leadership, peer and subordinate reviews are some of the selection variables.
Also, noncommissioned officers are no longer selected based solely on time in grade. Now, only the most qualified get promoted, he said.
Innovation will require a lot of experimentation and testing of leap-ahead technology systems, McConville said.
Among two of the Army’s priorities are long-range precision fires, and air and missile defense, he said.
A near-peer competitor like Russia or China could make it difficult to enter an area through their advanced standoff weaponry, he said.
In order to overcome that obstacle, the Army is experimenting with advanced weapons that use directed energy and microwaves, he said, adding that in two to three years, he expects the Army to begin fielding new precision strike missiles and extended-range cannons.
Another way to penetrate an enemy’s defenses, he said, is with aircraft that have much greater range and speed than the current fleet. Some of those aircraft could even be unmanned, he said.
Unmanned ground vehicles are also being developed. It would make sense to have them take the lead in areas that are heavily mined or full of improvised explosive devices, he said.
Also, future tanks might just have one person in the vehicle instead of four. Artificial intelligence and robotics could take the place of some of the crew. (Source: US DoD)
12 Jan 20. US to ground civilian drone programme on concerns over China tech. Department of the Interior is planning to halt the use of its nearly 1,000 drones. Officials are warning that the images captured on Chinese drone cameras could be accessed by Beijing. The Trump administration is set to ground one of its biggest civilian drone programmes permanently because the devices have been made at least partly in China, in the latest sign of concern in Washington about US exposure to Chinese technology. The Department of the Interior is planning to halt the use of its nearly 1,000 drones, according to two people briefed on the plans, after concluding there was too high a risk that they could be used by Beijing for spying. The decision is being made despite widespread concerns among department staff that taking the fleet out of action will cost the government significant time and money. Documents seen by the Financial Times reveal that staff at various agencies have protested against the proposals. David Bernhardt, secretary of the interior, has not yet signed off on a final policy, but people briefed on his thinking say he is planning to pull the fleet from action, with exceptions made for emergencies such as fighting wildfires and possibly for training. Chinese-made civilian drones have recently become a major area of security concern for the US government, with officials warning that the images captured on their cameras could be accessed by Beijing.
The US army has already issued a directive banning drones made by the Chinese company DJI, which sells more than 70 per cent of the world’s civilian drones, while Congress is debating a bill that would ban the federal government from buying any more Chinese drones. Without drones, we often have to fly manned aircraft, which is much more expensive — and frequently dangerous for those involved Gary Baumgartner, formerly of the Bureau of Land Management The US government has been looking at ways to encourage the development of a purely American made-drone, but this is likely to take years, officials say. Several western companies have already admitted defeat in their attempts to take on DJI in the consumer market, confounded in part by the costs of manufacturing. The interior department uses drones to tackle wildfires, to map terrain and to monitor natural resources. It announced last October it would temporarily ground 810 camera drones while Mr Bernhardt reviewed their security risks. A department spokesperson said the review is ongoing and drones manufactured in China or containing Chinese components remain grounded except for emergency use. A spokesperson for DJI, which made 121 of the department’s drones, said: “While we have not seen the new policy, we look forward to reviewing the findings of DOI’S comprehensive review of its drone programme, given the lack of credible evidence to support a broad country-of-origin restriction on drone technology.” Dozens of members of staff at several agencies have protested against the plan to ground them permanently, according to documents seen by the FT.
A note compiled by the Fish and Wildlife Service outlined the ways in which its operations had already been affected by the temporary ban. The service said it had cancelled flights to monitor controlled burns aimed at reducing wildfires and to help count animals in certain areas. Recommended Technology China shows its dominance in surveillance technology A separate document prepared by the Geological Survey for the department lists eight different ways its staff have used drones, including for flood response, monitoring agricultural sites and preparing for earthquakes. One staff member warned: “Unmanned aircraft systems are a unique tool that fit into this mission and allow us to make high-quality surface observations at a fraction of the price of manned aircraft operations.” Gary Baumgartner, who retired from the Bureau of Land Management last June, told the FT such concerns were widespread among staff who, like him, had relied on the drones for their work. “Without drones, we often have to fly manned aircraft, which is much more expensive — and frequently dangerous for those involved.” (Source: FT.com)
12 Jan 20. Esper: Information Indicated ‘Broad Scale’ Attack Within ‘Matter of Days.’ Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper reiterated his belief on Sunday morning talk shows that elimination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani would prevent an attack that could lead to more dangerous, open conflict with Iran.
“We had information that there was going to be an attack within a matter of days, that would be broad in scale, in other words more than one country, and that it would be bigger that previous attacks, likely going to take us into open hostilities with Iran,” Esper said, while speaking today with Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” news program.
That attack, Esper said, was being orchestrated by Soleimani, who was killed in Iraq Jan. 3 by a United States-launched airstrike. Soleimani was head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, which is designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
“He was the one who has led the attacks against America for 20 years now,” Esper said. “So we had every expectation to believe that this would happen.”
A “very senior” member of the intelligence community, Esper said, has said the risks associated with doing nothing to prevent the attack was greater than the risk of taking action. “That was compelling for me,” he said.
The secretary said intelligence was briefed to lawmakers who are members of the “Gang of Eight.” That bipartisan group includes members of both the Senate and the House. While Esper himself didn’t sit in on the briefing, he said he spoke to one of the intelligence briefers who was in on the meeting.
“What the briefer said to me, coming out of that meeting, was his assessment that most if not all of the members thought that the intelligence was persuasive,” Esper said. He also said that members of the group felt the intelligence should not be released to the broader members of Congress.
While speaking with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” news program, Esper said he thinks the threat of direct action against the United States by Iran has diminished, but that Iranian “malign behavior” is likely to continue.
“I think our watchword is ‘vigilance,'” Esper said. “We have to remain vigilant. What we have got to do though is get back to a position where they will come sit down with us. We can talk about how we get Iran to act like and behave like a normal country. That’s what all of us want. That’s what the regional partners want. That’s what the Europeans want, is to get Iran to behave like a normal country.”
Esper characterized that normalcy as meaning no nuclear weapons program, no long-range ballistic missiles, no hostage taking and no support to proxy groups.
“The United States is safer today than we were just a few short weeks ago,” Esper said. “We eliminated the world’s foremost terrorist, Qassem Soleimani, who had the blood of hundreds of American service members on his hands. Secondly, we restored deterrence with Iran and we did so without American casualties. And third, we reassured our friends and allies in the region that the United States will stand up and defend our interests.” (Source: US DoD)
10 Jan 20. Today’s Army Is More Than Tanks, Bradleys, Army Secretary Says. The United States must maintain overmatch — be stronger, better armed, or more skillful than its adversaries, the Army secretary said at the Brooking Institution in Washington.
Ryan D. McCarthy addressed Indo-Pacific region Army strategy at the nonprofit public policy organization today.
“Our modernization focus — how we fight, what we fight with and who we are — is in part driven by new challenges and potential adversaries,” he said.
The secretary said the Army remains ironclad in its priorities of readiness, modernization and reform, and the Army budget and investments are aligned with its priorities.
“In this era of great-power competition, China will emerge as America’s strategic threat,” McCarthy said. “Over 60% of the world’s [gross domestic product] flows through the Strait of Malacca, and China is militarizing the global commons.”
He noted that having the Army in that region of the world with modernized weaponry “changes the calculus and creates dilemmas for potential adversaries.”
Having the Army in the region also strengthens America’s position to conduct global commerce, build confidence with investors and compete economically, he added.
The Army has traditionally focused its efforts toward Europe, given that Russia is a land-based threat, the secretary noted. “Seven decades of partnership in Europe has set the conditions for strong militaries. And strong partners that are capable of countering threats from abroad,” he added.
While efforts continue with U.S. allies and partners in Europe, the Army is much more than tanks and Bradleys, McCarthy said.
“We serve as the operational command and control, advise and assist, long-range precision fighters and the logistical backbone of our current and future military operations,” he said, adding the Army, in essence, is engaging in warfare by other means.
It’s been evident since World War II that the Army would need to operate on two fronts: in Europe and the Pacific. It’s the Army on the ground, partnered with militaries, that has ensured continuous presence and shared equipment will enable military strength to overcome economic strangleholds, promote good global commons and offer an alternative to the adversary’s narrative, he noted.
In the new competition space, U.S. forces will require a change in behavior and patience, the secretary said.
“We must be engaged in constant competition, versus the episodic engagement strategy,” he said.
The military has had a boxer’s mentality to conflict — go in, use fast hands and deliver a devastating punch in the first round that’s fast, lethal and gone, McCarthy said.
“Our approach to competition with potential adversaries, however, such as Russia [and] China will feel more like a soccer match than one round in the ring,” he emphasized.
“Endurance, strong partnerships and patience will be a necessary mix. Presence does not have to lead to conflict. If we wait until there’s a conflict, we’re already too late,” he said.
McCarthy said that now, during the “compete phase,” the Army is refining its approach to improve U.S. strategic readiness.
“We’ll accomplish readiness through strengthening our partnerships and advising and assisting with our regionally aligned security force assistance brigades, which will deploy in fiscal year 2021,” he said.
McCarthy added that the military’s multidomain task forces with deployments in fiscal years 2021 and 2022 will build partnerships.
The Army seeks to increase foreign military sales, international military education and training and more repetitions from multinational exercises, shared equipment, shared training, and shared understanding as the end state, he noted.
“The Army is reinvigorating our presence and disposition in the Pacific,” the secretary said. “History has shown the Army has always had a role in the Pacific.” (Source: US DoD)
10 Jan 20. Hyten Looks to Ensure DOD Remains Competitive. Air Force Gen. John Hyten has the perfect background to advance the National Defense Strategy and change Defense Department processes so it remains in the lead in a world dominated by great power competition.
In his first interview as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hyten talked about competition with China and Russia and the need for the department to be more responsive.
[“We have to look at China and Russia and the speed at which they’re moving,” he said. “China in particular, is moving unbelievably fast. So we have to make sure that we move as fast or faster than the potential adversary that we have in China and Russia.”
The United States military is currently in the lead in most capabilities. But, “if you’re in a race and someone is running faster, it doesn’t matter how far ahead you are, eventually that somebody is going to catch and pass you. We can’t ever allow that to happen,” Hyten said.
The Pentagon has to start moving quicker. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has told Hyten he needs to make this a priority.
The vice chairman is the head of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. The council — made up of the vice chiefs from each of the services — reviews and validates all joint capabilities integration and development. It is a key step in getting needed capabilities in the hands of service members.
The general said all members of the council are acutely aware of the need for speed. It is something they will all work together on, he said. “The JROC has to figure out how to set the course for all these mission areas,” he said.
The department is also going to have to continue to adopt new processes pioneered by the private industry. He used software development as an example. Software is a completely different industry than when he studied it 40 years ago, he said.
The industry has moved with the speed of commerce. In the cyber world, threats change daily. “If you’re going to maintain a speed of development ahead of the cyber threat, then you have to change the baseline all the time,” Hyten said. “I saw [industry] delivering new software versions, new operating systems in weeks, sometimes in days, sometimes twice in a day.”
DOD needs that sort of speed, agility and flexibility, he said. “We have to adjust to the strengths of our industry, and enable that, which means we have to come up with a different way to look at software from a joint requirements process,” the general said.
The Joint Requirements Oversight Council has a role in this process. The members haven’t fully defined that role yet, but the members are “thinking about how do we actually put that demand signal out from the services to all the developers.”
The process will take some time because some of them emanate from U.S. law, some from regulations, some from directives, and some from instructions. “It has to look different than it does right now. And we’re going to have to adjust to that as we go forward,” Hyten said.
The department will define the problem and study the situation, but will not get paralyzed so there is no activity, the general said. “You actually have to understand the problem, then socialize solutions, come up with the best solutions and then implement them quickly enough to make a difference.”
The vice chairman also discussed the Defense Department’s number one priority, nuclear modernization.
Given the general’s previous assignment as commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Milley wants Hyten to continue his involvement in nuclear modernization from his seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I’ll have a big voice and given my background, the chairman certainly wants me to stay very much engaged,” he said.
The modernization of intercontinental ballistic missiles, new submarines and new manned bombers are proceeding apace. Hyten is pushing the nuclear command and control modernization and the modernization of the weapons themselves, and to have all happen at the same time.
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