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16 May 20. US elite forces ill-equipped for cold war with China. Special operations looks for a new role in Washington’s power struggle with Beijing.
The elite US special operations forces are ill-equipped for high-tech warfare with China and Russia, experts warn, as the Trump administration pivots from the “war on terror” to a struggle with geopolitical rivals. Special operations, known for kicking down doors and eliminating high-value targets, number 70,000 personnel, cost $13bn a year and have carried much of the burden of the war on terror. But it is unclear what role they will play as the Pentagon moves to redeploy troops from Afghanistan to the Indo-Pacific to counter China’s regional ambitions. General Richard Clarke, commander of special operations command (Socom), told an industry conference this week that the US needed to develop new capabilities to “compete and win” with Russia and China. He added that Socom must develop cyber skills and focus on influence campaigns rather than “the kill-capture missions” that characterised his own time in Afghanistan after the September 11 2001 attacks.
Socom’s fighters include US Navy Seals, Army Green Berets and Marine Corps Raiders. Defence officials say China has raised military spending and research with the aim of exploiting American vulnerabilities, while Russia has tested out new technology during combat in Syria. “Maybe we are further behind than we know,” Colonel Michael McGuire, director of combat developments at Socom, told the annual Special Operations Industry Conference.
Because of Covid-19 the event was conducted virtually for the first time. “Things just moved much more quickly than we expected,” he said of the new threats, citing the erosion of America’s traditional military advantages in the sky, space and communications. Recommended The FT ViewThe editorial board The dangers of a US-China financial war Col McGuire highlighted US vulnerabilities in cyber security, and soft-power tactics by America’s enemies that could “drive fissures through some of our alliances”. He proposed shifting focus to defence over attack. While some military analysts have suggested SOF should take on more of a supporting role and expand their psychological operations, others urge speedier development of new stealth weapons and cutting-edge technology. “You could have hundreds and thousands of engagements every single day in a fight against China. We are just not fast enough, dynamic enough or scaleable enough to handle that challenge,” said Chris Brose of Andruil.
Chief strategy officer at the start-up defence technology company, which supplies SOF, he added that satellites could be blinded or shot out of orbit. But he said the battle with Beijing would probably fall far short of all-out war. “Most of the US-China competition is not going to be fighting world war three,” he said. “It’s going to be kicking each other under the table.” He cited reconnaissance, influence operations and sabotage. “It’s not going to be Abbottabad; this is going to look very different,” he said of the 2011 US Navy Seal raid on a Pakistan compound in which al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed. US special operators have for years had the run of the battlefield. But they face very different conditions in any fight against China, which has developed an arsenal of missiles, fighter jets, spy planes and other eavesdropping and jamming techniques that would make it hard for America to conceal troops, transport and communications. Special operations forces are not ready for operations against a near-peer foe, such as China, in a direct engagement SOF commander An SOF commander said Socom would need to plan operations without GPS or access to satellites, which help with targeting, communications and beaming down intelligence. They would need to develop cheaper, more plentiful and easily replaced equipment in case satellites were shot out of the sky.
“Special operations forces are not ready for operations against a near-peer foe, such as China, in a direct engagement,” the former commander told the Financial Times. “We need special operations forces to find a way to operate in running gun battles and other scenarios without communications,” he said. He added that units would have to be cut off from higher command and execute plans on the ground with “substantially less oversight that we have practised in the recent war on terror”.
An SOF intelligence officer said the traditional culture of the troops had been changed by the demand for direct battle in counter-terrorism operations. He called for a return to their cold war roots. “Vintage special operations forces is about stealth, cunning and being able to blend in — they were triathletes rather than muscle-bound infantrymen with tattoos,” said the former officer. Such attributes, he added, would be more useful in efforts to counter China. Special operations troops already undergo language training and regularly train, advise and assist foreign militaries in allied countries that face aggressive encroachment from China and Russia.
Tom Mahnken, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington DC think-tank, said US special forces needed to “regain proficiency across the spectrum” in order to counter China. However, they were likely to face “gravitational pull” from ongoing counter-terrorism operations, which would remain a priority. Recommended Coronavirus: free to read ‘Wolf warrior’ diplomats reveal China’s ambitions | Free to read David Maxwell, a former Green Beret and military analyst, is among those who favour a shift towards political warfare. One such idea of his would involve a popular writer being commissioned to pen “the Taiwanese Tom Clancy” — fictionalised war stories based in Taiwan — intended to discourage Beijing from invading the self-governing island. He told a gathering of Pacific special forces operators in February that fictional losses could “tell the stories of the demise of Chinese soldiers who are the end of their parents’ bloodline”. He argued that Beijing’s former one-child policy could be weaponised to convince China that war would be too costly. But Mr Maxwell said such ideas have yet to catch on. He added that psyops officers lamented to him that it was “easier to get permission to put a hellfire missile on the forehead of a terrorist than it is to get permission to put an idea between his ears”. (Source: FT.com)
16 May 20. US ‘would lose any war’ fought in the Pacific with China. The United States would be defeated in a sea war with China and would struggle to stop an invasion of Taiwan, according to a series of “eye-opening” war games by the Pentagon.
American defence sources have told The Times that simulated conflicts conducted by the US concluded that their forces would be overwhelmed. One war game focused on the year 2030, by which time the Chinese navy would operate new attack submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers.
The analysis also found that Beijing’s accumulation of medium-range ballistic missiles has already made every US base and any American carrier battle group operating in the Indo-Pacific Command region vulnerable to overwhelming strikes. The Pacific island of Guam, a base for American strategic bombers such as the B-2 and B-52, is now considered wholly at risk.
“China has long-range anti-ship ballistic missiles and hypersonic [more than five times the speed of sound] missiles,” a US defence source said, meaning that US carrier groups could not oppose their Chinese counterparts “without suffering capital losses”.
The conclusions, described as “eye-opening” by one source, are supported by the most recent analysis provided by America’s leading experts on China.
“Every simulation that has been conducted looking at the threat from China by 2030 have all ended up with the defeat of the US,” Bonnie Glaser, director of the China power project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and a consultant for the US government on east Asia, said. “Taiwan is the most volatile issue because that could escalate to a war with the US, even to a nuclear war.
“In the Pentagon and state department and the White House, China is now seen as the biggest threat. We have been too passive in the past.”
Beijing has stepped up its military activities in the South and East China Seas, harassing ships, militarising islands whose sovereignty is claimed by others and sabre-rattling over the planned reincorporation of Taiwan. President Xi has said he wants the island back under “One China” by 2050 and is prepared to use force.
The US has no defence pact with Taiwan but has increased arms sales to help it to build a deterrent. US concerns are expected to be highlighted in the Pentagon’s 2020 China military power report, which is due in the summer.
A defence source said that repeated warnings by Admiral Philip Davidson, the regional commander, and a drive from within the Pentagon to fund hypersonic weapons to counter the Chinese threat had led to a significant switch in resources. “Mark Esper [the defence secretary] is aggressively moving to build the capabilities that we need to deter China from committing to a major confrontation,” the source said.
Hypersonic weapons are viewed as key to taking out China’s ballistic missiles capability, and the US also plans to deploy long-range, ground-launched cruise missiles in the Asia-Pacific region. Marine units are also to be armed with anti-ship missiles, along a string of islands enclosing China’s coastal seas.
President Trump announced yesterday during a White House ceremony to receive the flag of the Space Force from military leaders that the US was developing a “super-duper missile”.
“We are building incredible military equipment,” he said. “We have, I call it the super-duper missile, and I heard the other night 17 times faster than what they have right now, when you take the fastest missile we have right now. You’ve heard Russia has five times and China’s working on five or six times, we have one 17 times.”
US relations with China have deteriorated to their lowest ebb in decades as President Trump blames it for weakening the economy, and for its attempts to hide the extent of coronavirus. Although those rows have yet to result in a direct confrontation, the US intensified its trade war yesterday, announcing that it had commissioned a Taiwanese company to open a computer chip factory in Arizona to “re-shore” technology industries away from China.
Washington also announced that it would restrict the ability of the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, which it considers a national security risk, to develop products abroad that use US technology. Beijing hit back, saying it was ready to put US companies including Apple on its “unreliable entity list”.
US presence in Asia-Pacific
90 combat aircraft
Patriot missile launchers
THAAD (terminal high-altitude area defence) anti-missile battery
100-plus combat aircraft
Patriot missile launchers
THAAD missile batteries
Location for B-2, B-52H and B-1B strategic bombers
USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier battle group
17 destroyers and cruisers with Aegis ballistic missile defence interceptors
(Source: The Times)
15 May 20. Army General to Co-Lead ‘Operation Warp Speed’ for COVID-19 Vaccine. President Donald J. Trump today announced that Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the commander of Army Materiel Command, will co-lead an effort, dubbed Operation Warp Speed, to find a vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021.
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said the Defense Department is very excited and committed to partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services, across the government, and in the private sector to accomplish the mission. “Winning matters, and we will deliver by the end of this year a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our partners abroad,” he said.
The goal is to produce about 300 million vaccines by January, said Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, at a Pentagon press briefing today.
Hoffman mentioned that it’s a goal involving a whole-of-government approach, not just the DOD.
Regarding DOD and the Pentagon, Hoffman said neither has been shut down and daily operations continue, albeit with mitigation steps that include social distancing, face masks, quarantine when necessary and telework if the situation allows.
As for increasing the number of personnel at the Pentagon, Hoffman said it will be conditions-based and informed by medical experts. The Pentagon, he said, is in consultation with the governments of the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland. Policy and decisions are currently under review and are expected to be released in a matter of weeks.
Regarding the hospital ships USNS Comfort and Mercy, Hoffman said they have completed their work in New York City and Los Angeles and are standing by if their services are needed elsewhere.
Hoffman noted that tomorrow is Armed Forces Day. He mentioned the death yesterday of Army Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II, a Medal of Honor recipient.
Shurer served in Afghanistan. On April 6, 2008, he was cited for valorous actions for providing medical assistance to his teammates while facing enemy fire for over six hours. (Source: US DoD)
15 May 20. Lockheed Martin to pay $300m more to suppliers hit by coronavirus. U.S. weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) said on Friday it would pay an additional $300m (247.16m pounds) to its suppliers hurt by a sharp economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus crisis.
The company, which makes the F-35 fighter jets, has already injected $450m in payments to suppliers.
Lockheed’s advances comes as the Pentagon has increased the amount of interim payments it makes to defense contractors in an effort to give them a financial boost amid the pandemic.
The company has hired over 3,400 new employees in the United States since the pandemic began, and said it remains on track with its plans to hire 12,000 new employees by the end of the year.(Source: Reuters)
15 May 20. US escalates China tensions with tighter Huawei controls. White House action heightens geopolitical strains following the coronavirus crisis. The US commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, described the activities of the telecoms equipment maker as ‘malign’ and contrary to US national security.
The Trump administration has tightened export controls targeting Huawei and its US suppliers in the semiconductor industry, adding to the tensions between Washington and Beijing that have flared during the pandemic. In a statement on Friday, the commerce department said that Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications equipment company deemed a risk to US national security, and HiSilicon, an affiliate, had continued to use American technology in its semiconductor design despite being subject to export controls since May of 2019. “This is not how a responsible global corporate citizen behaves,” said Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary. “We must amend our rules exploited by Huawei and HiSilicon and prevent US technologies from enabling malign activities contrary to US national security and foreign policy interests,” Mr Ross said.
The commerce department said the restrictions would impact semiconductor designs and chipsets. The move by the Trump administration comes as the US president and administration official have adopted a more confrontational stance towards China, blaming Beijing for concealing information about the spread of coronavirus around the world. Donald Trump this week threatened to “cut off the whole relationship” with China in the midst of the pandemic, including a possible move to unravel the trade truce painstakingly reached in January of this year. The Trump administration has already moved to stop a federal pension fund from investing in certain Chinese stocks, and the tightening of export controls related to Huawei is the latest evidence of geopolitical tensions spilling over into the economic realm. (Source: FT.com)
12 May 20. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Actions Needed to Address Manufacturing and Modernization Risks. The F-35 program is at risk of missing its test schedule and not meeting manufacturing leading practices. In 2019, the F-35 program conducted much of its planned operational testing but extended the schedule by 9 months, which delays the program’s full-rate production decision to between September 2020 and March 2021. Over that time, the program will continue to deliver aircraft. In addition, while the F-35 program has increased the production rate and negotiated lower aircraft prices, it is not meeting manufacturing leading practices identified by GAO. Specifically, only about 3,000 of the over 10,000 airframe contractor’s manufacturing key processes meet predefined design standards for ensuring product quality.
Also, the fielded aircraft, over 500 so far, do not meet the program’s reliability and maintainability goals. Although the contractor is changing manufacturing processes to address problems and improve efficiency, more remains to be done.
Unless the program office evaluates the risks of not meeting these leading practices, the military services and international partners are at risk of not receiving the quality aircraft they purchased.
In addition, the July 2019 suspension of Turkey from the F-35 program—due to security concerns after its acquisition of Russian defense equipment—is likely to compound production risks. The program has identified new sources for 1,005 parts produced by Turkish suppliers, but the program is assessing the effect of 15 key parts not currently being produced at the needed production rate.
In 2019, estimated development costs to modernize the F-35’s hardware and software systems—known as Block 4—increased by over $1.5bn. The cost increase puts estimated Block 4 development costs at $12.1bn. However, the cost estimate did not fully adhere to leading practices, such as including all life cycle costs.
In addition, while development will continue through 2026, reports on Block 4 that the program submits to Congress are slated to end in 2023. Without continued Block 4 reporting through the development phase, Congress will lack important oversight information.
Why GAO Did This Study
The acquisition cost for the F-35 program increased substantially in 2019, partially due to the program’s addition of estimated costs for modernization of hardware and software systems, referred to as its Block 4 efforts.
This is the fifth report under the provision that Congress included in statute for GAO to review the F-35 program annually until the program reaches full-rate production. This is also the first report under another provision in statute to review the program’s production and Block 4 progress annually through 2024. Among other objectives, this report assesses (1) the program’s production performance and (2) the program’s modernization cost estimate and development progress. GAO reviewed Department of Defense (DOD) and contractor documentation and interviewed DOD officials and contractor representatives.
What GAO Recommends
Congress should consider extending DOD’s reporting requirement for Block 4 modernization beyond 2023. GAO is also making five recommendations to DOD. While DOD did not concur with two of these recommendations—including to evaluate production risks and update its Block 4 cost estimate with a program-level plan, it identified actions that, if implemented, will meet the intent of these recommendations. DOD concurred with GAO’s three other recommendations. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Government Accountability Office)
12 May 20. SOCOM Moving Forward with Hyper-Enabled Operator Concept. Special Operations Command is making progress on its hyper-enabled operator concept, officials said May 12. The effort — which the command has been working on for two years — is meant to give operators enhanced cognitive capabilities on the battlefield, said James Smith, SOCOM’s acquisition executive.
“We’re talking about … improving your cognitive overmatch at the edge,” he said during the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, which is being held virtually this year due to COVID-19 safety concerns. “The edge for us … is this small unit, individual operator, operating in a remote, austere environment.”
Army Col. Ryan Barnes, director of SOCOM’s Joint Acquisition Task Force, said the hyper-enabled operator concept will give commandos better access to the internet of things and data analytics on the battlefield so they can make important decisions faster.
Many of the technologies SOCOM wants to give the operator — such as facial recognition systems — already exist in the commercial space, so officials are looking to integrate commercial-off-the-shelf and government-off-the-shelf materials into a consolidated solution, he said.
“We are looking to put those types of sensors and communication devices on an operator collecting information in the operational environment,” he said. The system would be able to analyze data in near real time using advanced analytics, which could be relayed back to the operator. That would be a marked improvement over older technology that could sometimes take hours, days or even weeks to analyze data, he added.
Lisa Sanders, director of science and technology at Special Operations Command, said SOCOM wants to give operators the same access to information that they are accustomed to outside working hours.
“The hyper-enabled operator work that we’re focusing on really is about getting that capability that you assume that you have in your personal life in a tactically relevant environment, and being able to adapt as that environment changes,” she said during a media roundtable.
If an operator moves from a particular partner nation to another part of the world, that system still needs to work even in contested and congested environments, she added.
While SOCOM’s work currently focuses on small teams in a ground environment, the information it gleans can be applied to different domains such as air and sea, she said. “That’s part of the adaptability that we’re seeking,” Sanders said.
The Joint Acquisition Task Force has operators embedded, which means the command doesn’t have to wait for an operational assessment to get feedback, she said.
Despite having to employ social distancing methods because of the COVID-19 pandemic, SOCOM was recently able to pass on some of the data with beyond-line-of-sight communications, she said.
“We had things connected from the Tampa area across the bay to demonstrate how that would work,” she said.
Next year, the command wants a “gate check” to assess how things are going with the program, Sanders said. “Within the next year we’ll be doing assessments and seeing whether the things that the team is working on are ready to potentially get ready to roll out into a transition and whether we should be taking on new lines of effort,” she said.
However, Sanders noted that the program isn’t a five-year project. Rather, the service is taking an incremental approach.
As the system is demonstrated and proven to be effective, SOCOM wants to integrate it within a deployed unit for a field assessment, she added.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/ https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/)
12 May 20. Special Operations Command Launches ‘Engage SOF’ Tool. Special Operations Command has launched a new platform to collaborate with industry known as Engage SOF, or eSOF, the command’s director of science and technology said May 12.
The new effort replaces SOCOM’s Technology & Industry Liaison Office, or TILO, said Lisa Sanders.
“One of the problems that we have had with TILO in the past is that it can be … very linear. It can be very hard to use — it’s [even] hard for us to use,” she said during the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, which is being held virtually this year due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
In the age of social media, people are now used to going on a website and chatting with a real person in real time, she said.
While Engage SOF is “not quite a live chat, … it does provide a web-based tool that can allow that kind of interactive engagement,” she said.
The tool was developed by SOCOM’s data engineering lab, she noted.
“It is live today,” Sanders said. “Go to eSOF and submit an idea and we can interactively work through that.” The tool can help users reach the entire SOF enterprise rather than just the S&T team, she added.
Contractors using the tool can have peace of mind that their company’s intellectual property is safeguarded, Sanders said. The eSOF platform is firewalled off, allowing only government entities to see submitted information.
For those who have recently submitted a technology through the TILO process, Sanders said contractors won’t need to resubmit using eSOF because the office plans on transitioning the information over. However, she encouraged those who have done so submit through eSOF anyway and “give us feedback on how that process goes. You should be able to drop something in eSOF within 10 minutes. It’s a really simple tool,” she said.
Meanwhile, the office’s budget for fiscal year 2021 is being reduced compared to fiscal year 2020, according to Sanders’ presentation slides. In fiscal year 2020, the office had $132.4m. In fiscal year 2021, the office is requesting $131.6m.
However, over the future years defense program the budget is remaining flat, Sanders said.
“Overall budgets are shrinking, but … Special Operations Command has made a commitment to invest in our future, and my budget throughout the future defense plan — the five-year plan that’s in place — is not shrinking,” she said. “It’s not growing, but it’s not shrinking.”
Sanders noted that the overall budget has grown substantially. Including both its core research and small business innovation research program, the S&T office has about $140m per year. In the 2010-2012 timeframe, the office only had $40m a year.
“This was really getting after the National Defense Strategy,” she said. “A small investment in S&T has the potential of a payoff with … big capability growth.”
With the money it has, the S&T office is looking for new capabilities including biotechnologies/human interface; network and data management; next-generation effects/precision strike; next-generation intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance/tactically relevant situational awareness; hyper-enabled operator; and next-generation mobility, according to Sanders.
To get after new technology, SOCOM is hosting a number of technical experimentation events with industry, Sanders said. An event scheduled for July 13-17 at Texas A&M University is being moved to Avon Park, Florida, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, she noted.
“Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, Texas A&M has made the determination that they are not going to open the campus … in the timeframe that we have here,” she said. “We are going to hold that event with the same focus at Avon Park, Florida. … It’s a reserve base that we’ve used in the past and we’ll be able to actually do an expansive unmanned aerial system activity there because there’s a little bit more capability for UAS at Avon Park.”
Other future technical experimentation events include one in Key West, Florida, from November 16-20 focusing on combat diver technology, counter diver technology and biotechnologies/human interface. There will be an event on March 22-26, 2021, in Muscatatuck, Indiana, focusing on next-generation ISR/tactically relevant situational awareness, biotechnologies/human interface and SOF lethality. From July 12-16, 2021, there will be a technical experiment in Little Creek, Virginia, focused on combatant craft technology, according to Sanders’ slides.
Meanwhile, the program executive office for command, control, communications and computers, or C4, is working to provide operators with adaptive, flexible and scalable communications, said head of the office Deborah Woods. To get at that, it is investing in new technologies such as edge computing coupled with smarter algorithms and data assets, she said.
The office’s modernization priorities are focused on overmatch technology to support the National Defense Strategy while continuing to provide capabilities to support Special Operations Command’s counter violent extremist missions, Woods said.
The program office prides itself on acquisition agility, which is particularly crucial for its portfolio given the speed and dynamic nature of the technology in its space, she said. As it refreshes technology, new capabilities or gaps may have emerged, Woods added.
“Due to our limited investment resources, our focus on acquisition agility also means that we seek partnerships with academia, industry, other government agencies or partners,” she said. “This might be in the form of intellectual information or as some type of monetary partnership.”
It is taking advantage of non-traditional acquisition agility methods such as other transaction authority agreements, technical experimentation events and cooperative research-and-development agreements, she added. Overall funding in both procurement and RDT&E for the program office is decreasing, according to Woods’ slides. In fiscal year 2020, PEO C4 had $315m in procurement and $40m in RDT&E. In the fiscal year 2021 budget request, SOCOM asked for $239m for procurement and $36m for RDT&E.
However, Woods noted this was because some programs are wrapping up. For example, on the research-and-development side, the development of a multi-mission payload was completed and is now transitioning to production. For procurement, the command has completed the fielding and development of a next-generation tactical communication radio, she added.
(Source: Defense News Early Bird/ https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/)
12 May 20. Special operators will be countering violent extremists for the ‘long haul.’ The commander of the United States Special Operations Command said Tuesday that American commandos will continue to engage violent extremists for the “long haul.”
Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, the commander of SOCOM, said Tuesday during a virtual running of the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, that countering violent extremist groups was a generational issue and would remain the number one priority for U.S. special operators.
Clarke’s comments comes as national security experts and members of Congress have questioned SOCOM’s role in addressing near-peer adversaries like Russia and China.
For decades SOCOM has provided troops trained and primed to operate against terrorist and extremists organizations often operating out of more permissive environments. But the DoD is amid a massive shift to counter rising adversaries like Russia and China.
While Clarke said SOF would continue to hunt down extremists groups moving into the future, he told audience members streaming SOFIC that the fight to counter terror groups is not mutually exclusive from the Defense Department’s pivot to great power competition.
Highlighting a recent trip to the Indo-Pacifc region, Clarke explained that allies, partnerships and maintaining alliances will be an integral part to addressing near-peers in the future.
Special operations forces are uniquely placed to fill that role, serving in a number of host nation countries helping train partner forces to counter violent extremist groups.
In the Philippines, an important potential buffer to China’s ambitions in the region, American commandos “provided casualty triage and evacuation assistance” on three occasions supporting Phillipine forces during the stretch from Jan 1 to March 31, according to a recent inspector general report.
The IG report detailed that U.S. special operators assisted five Philippine soldiers wounded in the three separate occurrences in southern and central Mindanao when Philippine assets were unavailable.
American commandos are also partnering with Philippine troops “to conduct a week-long combat casualty care training with the goal of building the independent casualty evacuation capabilities of the Philippine forces,” the IG report reads.
Philippine forces are battling a number of terror and militant groups in the country to include ISIS. The IG report noted there was an estimated 300 to 500 ISIS-linked fighters in the Philippines.
“Great power competition is about influence” and American special operators have a “unique role” to play in this through presence, partnerships and training, Clarke explained. Clarke also said the information space was important.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II also made an appearance during the virtual SOFIC session and told viewers that ISIS was trying to exploit COVID-19 by increasing attacks in Iraq and “threatening to undo years of effort.” (Source: Defense News)
11 May 20. DDTC Implements Additional COVID-19 Measures. In addition to the foregoing actions, the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) has also taken the following actions in response to the COVID-19 crisis:
- DDTC is implementing new procedures and will send to the contact listed on the application email scans of final action letters for General Correspondence requests submitted in writing. If email information was not provided, final actions will continue to be mailed back to the applicant.
- DDTC is implementing new procedures and will send to the applicant email scans of unclassified final action letters for DSP-85s submitted in writing. If email information was not provided, final actions will continue to be mailed back to the applicant. The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) will continue to receive original sealed copies through the mail.
- DDTC is re-issuing guidance for the expedited authorization of requests submitted in support of U.S. Operations (USOP) at DTCL SOP – USOPS Guidance.
- With gratitude for the partnership with Congress and the Department of Defense in this regard, the Department has moved to electronic submissions of Congressional Notifications of proposed Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to the Congress.
- DDTC is also working with the interagency and leveraging updated staffing protocols to ensure streamlined interagency licensing reviews.
- In addition to our March 19, 2020 website announcement about the acceptance of disclosures and related information pursuant to ITAR § 127.12 via email, DDTC is now also accepting electronic submissions of FMS Part 130 reports via email at DDTC-Part130Notices@state.gov.
- To facilitate timely responses to inquiries from the public and regulated industry, DDTC has added additional points of contact on the Key Personnel tab of the About DDTC page and additional staffing and IT resources to its Response Team and Help Desk functions.
- DDTC Compliance is now granting an additional 30 days for responses to its request-for-information letters related to voluntary and directed disclosure matters. DDTC Compliance is also considering extensions for the submission of full voluntary disclosures on a case-by-case basis. Extension requests should be sent via email to DTCC-CaseStatus@state.gov on company letterhead in PDF format. (Source: glstrade.com)
11 May 20. DDTC Announces ITAR Temporary Suspensions, Modifications, and Exceptions in Response to COVID-19 Crisis – (85 Fed. Reg. 25287) – The U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) has announced certain temporary suspensions, modifications, and exceptions for certain lengths of time to several provisions of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). These actions are taken pursuant to ITAR § 126 port two and ITAR § 126.3 to ensure continuity of operations within the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) and among entities registered with DDTC pursuant to the ITAR during the current SARS-COV2 public health emergency. The actions are as follows:
- As of February 29, 2020, a temporary suspension, modification, and exception to the requirement in ITAR Parts 122 and 129 to renew registration as a manufacturer, exporter, and/or broker and pay a fee on an annual basis by extending ITAR registrations with an expiration date of February 29, March 31, April 30, May 31, or June 30, 2020–for two (2) months from the original date of expiration.
- As of March 13, 2020, a temporary suspension, modification, and exception to the limitations on the duration of ITAR licenses and agreements contained in ITAR parts 120 through 130, including but not necessarily limited to ITAR §§ 123.5(a), 123.21(a), and 129.6(e), to extend any license or agreement that expires between March 13, 2020, and May 31, 2020–for six (6) months from the original date of expiration so long as there is no change to the scope or value of the authorization and no Name/Address changes are required. This six (6) month extension is warranted in light of the unique challenges applicants face in the current environment when attempting to coordinate with U.S. and foreign business partners regarding the scope of applications.
- As of March 13, 2020, a temporary suspension, modification, and exception to the requirement that a regular employee, for purposes of ITAR § 120.39(a)(2), work at the company’s facilities, to allow the individual to work at a remote work location, so long as the individual is not located in Russia or a country listed in ITAR § 126.1. This suspension, modification, and exception shall terminate on July 31, 2020, unless otherwise extended in writing.
As of March 13, 2020, a temporary suspension, modification, and exception to authorize regular employees of licensed entities who are working remotely in a country not currently authorized by a technical assistance agreement, manufacturing license agreement, or exemption to send, receive, or access any technical data authorized for export, reexport, or retransfer to their employer via a technical assistance agreement, manufacturing license agreement, or exemption so long as the regular employee is not located in Russia or a country listed in ITAR § 126.1. This suspension, modification, and exception shall terminate on July 31, 2020, unless otherwise extended in writing. (Source: glstrade.com)
11 May 20. F-35’s Image as $428bn Bundle of Flaws Improved by Fixes. The F-35 fighter jet is starting to outlive its reputation as a $428bn bundle of flawed hardware and buggy software: Lockheed Martin Corp. and the military have eliminated all of the deficiencies believed to endanger pilots and about 90% of other serious flaws that could hamper missions. That’s down from 111 “Category 1” safety-of-flight and mission-impeding deficiencies in January 2018, according to Defense Department data compiled by the Government Accountability Office. The improvements may be critical to reassuring lawmakers and U.S. allies buying the F-35 that the costliest U.S. weapons system is worth its price tag, especially as pressure builds to reduce government spending after the response to the Covid-19 pandemic escalates budget deficits. The aircraft is already being operated by forces in the U.S., U.K., Israel, Japan, South Korea and Australia. (As well as Norway, the Netherlands and Italy— defense-aerospace.com Ed.) The Defense Department’s F-35 program office has “done a good job at working” with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps “to really prioritize what needs to get fixed versus what would be just a helpful thing to the pilot — getting to the actual things they need to get at,” Jon Ludwigson, the GAO’s top F-35 analyst, said in an interview. He said “they have procedures in place to work around” the remaining flaws. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Bloomberg News)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Home land Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company