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14 Aug 20. U.S.-Japan Alliance Increasingly Strengthened Since End of WWII. The United States and Japan share common goals in the Indo-Pacific region such as freedom of navigation, economic prosperity within the rules of international law, and deterrence of aggression from nations such as China, Russia and North Korea, as well as from terrorist organizations.
As an important ally, Japan increasingly has participated with the United States and other partners in a number of bilateral and multilateral military exercises and operations, especially since the fall of the Soviet Union. For example:
- In the early 1990s, Japan participated in a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Cambodia.
- In November 2001, Japan dispatched the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Indian Ocean to provide logistical support for U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, marking Japan’s first overseas military action during a combat operation.
- In 2003, Japan sent forces to aid in Iraq’s postwar reconstruction efforts.
- Since 2007, Japan has actively participated in Exercise Malabar with the United States and India.
- The U.S. and Japanese militaries worked effectively together to respond to a March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, which devastated large areas of the main Japanese island of Honshu.
- At the beginning of October 2018, the new Japanese Mobile Amphibious Forces held joint exercises with U.S. Marines in the Japanese prefecture of Kagoshima, the purpose of which was to work out the actions in defense of remote territories.
In recent years, Japan donated dozens of used and new patrol boats to coast guards in the region, complementing similar U.S. efforts toward building partner capacity and capabilities, such as the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative foreign military financing, international military education and training and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act.
The depth of the U.S. commitment to the U.S.-Japan alliance is evidenced by the nearly 55,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan, and the thousands of Defense Department civilians and family members who live and work alongside them.
The United States has also deployed its most capable and advanced military assets to Japan, including the Ronald Reagan carrier strike group, two missile defense radar sites and the F-35 joint strike fighter.
Japan acquires more than 90 percent of its defense imports from the U.S. and has expressed growing interest in interoperable technology with advanced capabilities.
The United States has approved some $20bn in foreign military sales to Japan, including Japan’s purchase of F-35s, E-2D airborne early warning aircraft, the KC-46 refueling tanker, the Global Hawk unmanned aerial system and MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft, as well as missiles such as the AIM 120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile, and UGM-84 Harpoon and SM-3 Block IIA ballistic missile defense interceptor missiles.
The Japanese government provides nearly $2bn per year to offset the cost of stationing the 55,000 U.S. forces in 85 facilities across Japan
History of the U.S.-Japan Alliance
After the official surrender of Japan to the Allies on Sept. 2, 1945, the United States began the process of helping to bring Japan back into the international community by strengthening military, political and economic ties, much as it was doing with former foes Italy and Germany.
The American military occupation of Japan lasted from 1945 to 1951. During that time, Japan categorically rejected militarism, embraced democracy, eagerly sought economic prosperity and began to embrace the U.S. as an ally and equal partner.
However, the U.S. still occupied several island chains in the Western Pacific that used to be part of Japan. That occupation ended when the U.S. returned the Bonin Islands, including Iwo Jima, to Japan in 1968 and Okinawa and other Ryukyu Islands in 1972.
A series of treaties followed the occupation of mainland Japan. First was the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed Sept. 8, 1951, that went into effect April 28, 1952. It marked the end of the Allied occupation of the Japanese mainland. Japan’s first security agreements with the United States and with nations other than the Soviet Union also were signed then.
Bilateral talks on revising the 1952 security pact began in 1959, and the new Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security was signed in Washington, Jan. 19, 1960. Also, the status of forces agreement under that treaty came into effect, setting the rules under which U.S. forces stationed in Japan would operate with respect to Japanese domestic laws.
In 1976, the U.S. and Japan established a subcommittee for defense cooperation in the framework of a bilateral Security Consultative Committee, provided for under the 1960 security treaty.
This subcommittee, in turn, drew up the first guidelines for Japanese-U.S. defense cooperation, under which military planners of the two countries have conducted studies relating to joint military action in the event Japan were to be attacked. The guidelines were updated in 1997 following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the beginning of the “post-Cold War” era. The U.S.-Japan alliance was strengthened further in 2015 through the release of revised guidelines, which provided for new and expanded forms of security-oriented cooperation. (Source: US DoD)
14 Aug 20. Pentagon wins brief waiver from government’s Huawei ban.
The Trump administration is granting the Pentagon a temporary waiver of government-wide ban on contractors using Huawei and other Chinese-made telecommunications equipment, according to a memo obtained by Defense News.
The move offers a weeks-long reprieve, until Sept. 30, for firms doing business with the Department of Defense. The firms are among those still reeling from the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and who lobbied for more time to comply with new far-reaching regulations.
The original provision was to take effect Aug. 13. The administration had been finalizing regulations that would prohibit government contracting with companies whose supply chains contain products from five Chinese companies including Huawei, as mandated under of Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
The administration, confronting China on trade and a host of issues, has deemed Huawei an espionage threat.
Citing U.S. national security interests, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe granted the Pentagon a temporary waiver to further assess a broader waiver request from DoD. The action came in a memo to Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.
The temporary waiver Lord sought was so DoD could continue to execute procurement actions that would, in part, equip and feed troops.
“You stated that DoD’s statutory requirement to provide for the military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of out country is critically important to national security,” Ratcliffe said. “Therefore, the procurement of goods and services in support of DoD’s statutory mission is also in the national security interests of the United States.”
While considering the broader waiver, Ratcliffe asked Lord share more information about potential increased risks, mitigation measures and a plan to contract with alternatives to the banned Chinese companies.
Contractors had been confused over an interim acquisition rule, agencies cannot award new contracts, task orders or modify existing contracts to any vendor who doesn’t self-certify that they are not using products from Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei, the Federal News Network reported this week.
Ratcliffe’s memo is a win, albeit a temporary one, for defense contractors and trade associations representing them. They had hoped for a legislative fix in a new pandemic relief package ― but larger bipartisan talks had broken down.
The leaders of the National Defense Industrial Association and the Professional Services Council had called for the deadline for 889 implementation to move. They argued the focus should be on recovering from the fallout caused by the COVID-19 crisis. And citing the far-reaching implications of the government’s rules, NDIA said companies should get a yearlong extension.
In May, Lord told lawmakers that contractors needed more time to comply with the government-wide ban or risk throwing the defense industrial base into disarray.
“The thought that somebody in six or seven levels down in the supply chain could have one camera in a parking lot and that would invalidate one of our major primes being able to do business with us gives us a bit of pause,” Lord testified at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. (Source: Defense News)
14 Aug 20. Establishment of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force. On Aug. 4, 2020, Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist approved the establishment of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) Task Force (UAPTF). The Department of the Navy, under the cognizance of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, will lead the UAPTF.
The Department of Defense established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs. The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.
As DOD has stated previously, the safety of our personnel and the security of our operations are of paramount concern. The Department of Defense and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report. This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as UAP when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing. (Source: US DoD)
14 Aug 20. ‘No lines on the battlefield’: Pentagon’s new war-fighting concept takes shape. For most of this year, Pentagon planners have been developing a new joint war-fighting concept, a document meant to guide how the Defense Department fights in the coming decades.
Now, with an end-of-year deadline fast approaching, two top department officials believe the concept is coalescing around a key idea — one that requires tossing decades of traditional thinking out the window.
“What I’ve noticed is that, as opposed to everything I’ve done my entire career, the biggest difference is that in the future there will be no lines on the battlefield,” Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during an Aug. 12 event hosted by the Hudson Institute.
The current structure, Hyten said, is all about dividing areas of operations. “Wherever we go, if we have to fight, we established the forward edge of the battle area, we’ve established the fire support coordination line, the forward line of troops, and we say: ‘OK, Army can operate here. Air Force can operate here,’ ” Hyten explained.
“Everything is about lines” now, he added. But to function in modern contested environments, “those lines are eliminated.”
What does that mean in practice? Effectively, Hyten — who will be a keynote speaker at September’s Defense News Conference — laid out a vision in which every force can both defend itself and have a deep-strike capability to hold an enemy at bay, built around a unified command-and-control system.
“A naval force can defend itself or strike deep. An air force can defend itself or strike deep. The Marines can defend itself or strike deep,” he said. “Everybody.”
That “everybody” includes international partners, Hyten added, as the U.S. operates so often in a coalition framework that this plan only works if it can integrate others. And for the entire structure to succeed, the Pentagon needs to create the Joint All-Domain Command and Control capability currently under development.
“So that’s the path we’ve been going down for a while. And it’s starting to actually mature and come to fruition now,” Hyten said.
The day before Hyten’s appearance, Victorino Mercado, assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, talked with a small group of reporters, during which he noted: “We had disparate services [with] their concepts of fighting. We never really had a manner to pull all the services together to fight as a coherent unit.”
Mercado also said the war-fighting concept will directly “drive some of our investments” in the future and tie together a number of ongoing efforts within the department — including the individual combatant command reviews and the Navy’s shipbuilding plan.
“I can tell you there’s some critical components [from those reviews] — how you command and control the forces, how you do logistics; there are some common themes in there in a joint war-fighting concept,” he said. “I can tell you if we had that concept right now, we could use that concept right now to influence the ships that we are building, the amount of ships that we need, what we want the [combatant commands] to do.
“So this war-fighting concept is filling a gap. I wish we had it now. Leadership wishes we had it now,” he added. “It would inform all of the decisions that we make today because now is about positioning ourselves in the future for success.”
Like Hyten, Mercado expressed confidence that the concept will be ready to go by the end of the year, a deadline set by Defense Secretary Mark Esper. But asked whether the department will make details of the concept public when it is finished, Mercado said there is a “tension” between informing the public and key stakeholders and not giving an edge to Russia and China.
“I think there is an aspect that we need to share of this joint war-fighting concept,” he said. “We have to preserve the classified nature of it. And I think I have to be careful what I say here, to a degree.” (Source: Defense News)
13 Aug 20. Esper Departure Reports Thin Gruel; End Of Administration Looms.
“And you know I’m aware, because as everyone knows [with a chuckle], these political positions they can, they can turn quickly on the other side of the election,” says Will Roper.
We all know Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said a great deal of things recently that directly contradict what President Donald Trump has said. And we all know that Trump really doesn’t like people who disagree with him in public, and often dumps them.
So, when rumors that Esper might be on the way out were reported yesterday it did catch our ears. We reached out to a number of sources, the kind our readers can guess — former senior officials, folks on Capitol Hill and a few people in the Pentagon.
So far, we’ve not heard a whisper that it’s probably true in the short term. Of course, in this administration the usual sources that worked in every past one don’t always work because the president relies so much on a network of people outside the government for advice and to bounce ideas off of. So, we’re not dismissing it out of hand. Our colleagues at Reuters, in fact, said that while one source did confirm Trump may get rid of Esper, it won’t be until after the Nov. 3 election. For those with a long memory, you may remember that although Donald Rumsfeld had long lost his magic touch, President George Bush back in 2006 publicly said the defense secretary could stick around for a second term if he won. One week later, Bush accepted Rumsfeld’s resignation.
This close to the possible end of an administration — hopefully on or very soon after Nov. 3, rather than stretching out with uncertainty — we are likely to see more and more people in senior positions leaving to spend more time with their families, recharge their batteries, make enough money to send kids to college or just to get some well deserved sleep.
In fact, Will Roper, the head of Air Force acquisition, made a passing reference to this the other day:
“And you know I’m aware, because as everyone knows [with a chuckle], these political positions they can, they can turn quickly on the other side of the election. I have to think about my own tenure in this position not being guaranteed for a definite longer period of time,” Roper told reporters. “But I couldn’t be prouder of the innovation that I see in our teams, and it’s examples like this that make me very excited to be part of this team to see its future.”
A layered approach comprised of NGI, Aegis BMD and THAAD could be available in the mid to late-2020s, which strengthens our defense against a rogue state missile attack.
We don’t think Roper is leaving forthwith, but he makes an important point. Political appointments are not forever, and people often leave around the time of an election — regardless of whether their candidate wins or loses. It can be exhausting work at the upper reaches of what remains the world’s most powerful military.
If you’re plugged in, and you hear something solid about Esper’s fate, let us know first! (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
13 Aug 20. DOD Tech Chief Lays Out Vision for U.S. Technology Leadership. America’s economic and military dominance lies in innovation, and the Defense Department’s new technology chief is looking to strengthen and maintain the nation’s position as the global leader in emerging technologies.
Michael Kratsios was designated the acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering on July 13. He also serves at the White House as U.S. chief technology officer, leading national technology policies on artificial intelligence, quantum computing and 5G communications.
In his first remarks as acting undersecretary, Kratsios laid out his vision and priorities at a virtual event hosted by Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology.
“Great power competition has once again emerged as our nation’s greatest security concern,” he said. “An emboldened and increasingly aggressive Chinese Communist Party is building and deploying some of the most advanced weapons in the world while using their newfound economic and technological power to undermine our safety, our security and our freedom.”
The United States is responding to the Chinese challenge, and maintaining technological dominance is key, Kratsios said.
Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper has given clear marching orders: modernize the military with advanced technologies and protect those technologies.
“To preserve American superiority and security in the 21st century, we must use every lever at our disposal to protect and supercharge our innovative capabilities,” the acting undersecretary said. “When we continually have the most advanced technology, we maximize the lethality of our force, ensure our continued economic and military dominance and promote peace and prosperity for all Americans and all nations who value freedom.”
The Defense Department is crucial to this national effort. Kratsios announced three main priorities for the Office of Research and Engineering to advance America’s global technology leadership:
- Leveraging the DOD’s unique testing authorities to accelerate innovation.
- Strengthening the department’s research and development partnerships with startups and smaller innovators.
- Enhancing strategic R&D collaboration with America’s international allies.
On his first priority, Kratsios argued that the department’s unique authorities and unrivaled testing environments allow DOD to pursue innovation at a scale and scope unattainable by the private sector.
“Perhaps counterintuitively for a government agency, the DOD’s research and development enterprise has remained relatively free from regulatory capture,” he said. “In our mission to defend our nation’s interests and equip our fighting forces, we must take advantage of this freedom to maneuver, leveraging every authority and option we have at the DOD to enhance research and testing.”
Kratsios noted that the department’s ongoing work to test 5G on military bases is a great example of the advantages DOD can bring to researching and piloting cutting edge technologies.
Explaining the second priority, Kratsios said DOD must continue to invest in research and development and reach out to the private sector and academia to find and advance critical innovations.
“We must do more to bring the incredible advances currently being made in academia and private industry to bear on the department’s most difficult challenges,” he said.
Recognizing the barriers many startups and smaller companies face in partnering with the DOD, Kratsios said. “We are committed to redoubling our efforts to break down regulatory barriers and bureaucratic hurdles ensuring that all companies, no matter their size, have the opportunity to do business with the department. To succeed against our adversaries, the DOD must truly embrace all parts of our innovative ecosystem.”
His third priority doubles down on the importance of the United States engaging with international allies to promote technological advancement.
“Using our combined resources and expertise, the United States and our allies can and will develop technologies that support our mutual defense and counteract authoritarian technologies developed by our adversaries,” he maintained. “We will not stand idly by and watch as adversarial nations seek to steal our achievements, weaponize our technologies against us and subvert the free and prosperous order that we and our allies have built.”
The new acting undersecretary said he is focused on the future and committed to ensuring that the defense innovation ecosystem — and the entire U.S. innovation ecosystem — remain the envy of the world.
“Every generation of Americans has faced a challenge that defines them,” he said. “As we find ourselves, once more, in a world being shaped by great power competition, we can take heart in the knowledge that we will not ignore, or dismiss, or shirk from the obligation before us. With our technology, intelligence, institutions, and resources — and most importantly, our resilience and our spirit — we will prevail and remain secure, prosperous and free.” (Source: US DoD)
13 Aug 20. DOD Focuses on Minimizing Cyber Threats to Department, Contractors. Cyber threats against the United States and the Defense Department are very real, and efforts related to the department’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, released earlier this year, are underway to mitigate risks as they relate to both the department and contractors.
“It’s no secret that the U.S. is at cyber war every day,” Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said, as part of a keynote address during the Professional Services Council’s 2020 Defense Services Conference. “Cybersecurity risks threaten the industrial base, national security, as well as partners and allies.”
The CMMC, Lord said, is the DOD’s metric to measure a company’s ability to secure its supply chain from cyber threats, protecting both the company and the department.The department is now focused on implementing the CMMC. Lord said these efforts support the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement rulemaking process while completing a no-cost contract with the newly established CMMC accreditation body, registering and training candidate CMMC third-party assessment organization assessors, conducting risk reduction through CMMC pathfinder and pilot programs and developing the CMMC database infrastructure.
As part of CMMC, the accreditation body will accredit third-party assessment organizations, or C3PAOs, to evaluate a business’s compliance with CMMC standards. The CMMC-AB started registering such third-party assessors in June, Lord said.
Lord also said the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer for Acquisition and the Missile Defense Agency are now also completing a CMMC pathfinder on an existing contract, which involves acquisition tabletop exercises, training of mock assessors and conducting mock assessments of a prime contractor and three subcontractors. These efforts, she said, are for evaluation only and are non-punitive and not for attribution.
The OCISO-A and another DOD stakeholder will begin a second CMMC assessment pathfinder on an existing contract in September. That second pathfinder will also be nonpunitive and not for attribution, she said. The OCISO-A is also looking for other contracts on which to conduct CMMC pilot projects.
“These pilots will be implemented on new DOD contracts to further reduce the risk of CMMC phased rollout, by focusing on the flow-down of controlled unclassified information … and CMMC requirements through the supply chain and conduct of mock CMMC assessments,” she said.
As part of developing the CMMC database infrastructure, Lord said, the department is now working with the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Enterprise Mission Assurance Support Service to develop “CMMC EMASS,” which will serve as the infrastructure for CMMC assessment reports, certificates and data analytics.
“The initial development for this is planned to start this month,” she said. “The certification body will train and credential candidate-assessors and accredit CMMC third-party assessment organizations. In fact, the first CMMC training course for candidate-assessors is also on track for this month.” (Source: US DoD)
12 Aug 20. Virus impacts force US Navy schedule reassessments for carrier Kennedy and other programmes. The US Navy is reassessing the impact of Covid-19 on the schedules and costs for major shipbuilding programmes with the virus taking its toll on shipyard workforce numbers.
“We are watching with some concern workforce levels at all our shipyards,” James Geurts, assistant secretary of the navy for research, development, and acquisition, said on 12 August.
Geurts told reporters during a telephone news conference that he was particularly worried about Newport News Shipbuilding, the Huntingtin Ingalls Industries (HII) yard in Virginia, “given the relatively high number of cases in there”.
He added, “What we’re really looking at is understanding those impacts.”
During HII’s 6 August quarterly earnings call on 6 August, HII CEO Michael Petters told investment analysts that attendance of HII shipyard hourly production workforce was about 65% with several days during April and May around 50%.
“Following the end of our liberal leave policy in May, we did see those metrics improve,” Petters said. “And during June and July, attendance of our hourly production workforce at both shipyards was approximately 77%. Now cases have been increasing in our shipyards as states have opened up, but we are now seeing a sustainable and manageable level of attendance, and we continue to refine our policies to adapt to the changing circumstances.”
The USN is trying to assess what the impacts of the workforce reductions will mean to the schedule of the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), the Ford-class ship recently launched at Newport News Shipbuilding. (Source: Jane’s)
12 Aug 20. National Defense Strategy Key to Force Restructuring. As the Defense Department looked at restructuring its forces in Europe, officials had to decide how a restructure would deal with today’s threats as defined in the National Defense Strategy, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Hudson Institute today.
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said the NDS — which focuses on force lethality, increasing partners and allies, and reforming DOD — is a strategy “based on a threat.”
When DOD looked at Europe, it had a series of priorities, he said:
- Whatever we do in Europe should improve our deterrent posture.
- DOD must better engage with its allies across the European continent.
- DOD needs to improve its partnership with NATO.
- DOD must make sure its armed forces are ready and it could give more flexible options for deploying the force.
- DOD must ensure it is true to its commitment to its service members and their families that are deployed in Europe.
“We are moving [some] forces back to the United States so we can improve readiness, and then deploy them back into Europe on a rotational basis and some other places in Europe to allow us to better be postured for the threat,” the vice chairman said.
“You’ll see Poland be a more active partner, you’ll see Romania be a more active partner, [and] you’ll see the Black Sea area more active because that’s where we improve our deterrence versus Russia, which was [Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper’s] No. 1 priority,” Hyten said.
After the military is done with the restructure, the largest number of forces will still be in Germany, he said, calling Germany “a critical ally.”
The secretary asked DOD to build a new joint warfighting concept and to have the first defined by the end of this year, Hyten said.
The secretary also said to integrate the Army’s focus on multidomain operation, the Air Force’s focus on multidomain command and control, and the Navy’s focus on fleet operations, the vice chairman said. “As we’ve looked at each of those, we started to build a joint warfighting concept,” he added.
“But it’s really combined in … all the main command and control, because we have to be able to do it with our allies and partners too,” he said.
“Because if we figured out how to do it in the United States, … since we do everything as a coalition, when we bring a coalition together, they have to understand how to fit in because we have to draw a line for them.”
If DOD and its allies can do all of that together, the general said, it creates a huge advantage for the future joint combined force, and it will create huge challenges for competitors around the world to try to figure out how to deal with it. Hyten said that’s the path DOD has been going down for a while, and it’s starting to actually mature and come to fruition now. “It’s pretty exciting to see,” he said.
Allies and partners are probably DOD’s biggest advantage in the world today, “and will be as far as I can see in the future,” the vice chairman said.
“[We] want to make sure that when our allies come with us — whether they come with us in the air at sea on the land — that they have capabilities to allow them to interoperate with the tactical units they’re falling in with.”
The command and control relationship is going to be “critically important to build as we go forward,” Hyten said. (Source: US DoD)
12 Aug 20. Four key members of Congress, either individually or collectively, have quietly frozen all major U.S. arms sales to Turkey for nearly two years in a move to pressure Ankara to abandon its Russian-built S-400 air defense system, Defense News has learned.
The legislative action, which has not been previously reported, is another sign of the deeply fractured relationship between the two NATO allies, a disruption that has already led to Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 joint strike fighter program.
While it is unclear exactly how many potential sales have been held back, at least two significant deals are in limbo: a follow-on contract for F-16 structural upgrades and export licenses for U.S.-made engines that Turkey needs to complete a $1.5bn sale of attack helicopters to Pakistan. Historically, the United States is the largest exporter of weapons to Turkey.
When Congress holds up sales of major weapon systems like tanks, planes and ships, it is typically meant to rebuke a country’s specific military or political actions, such as when lawmakers attempted to block sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in 2019. But freezing arms sales is a diplomatic tool that the United States hasn’t used against Turkey since 1978, after the Turkish military invaded Cyprus.
Defense News learned of the situation from a half dozen sources in Congress, the administration, and the defense industry, all of whom requested anonymity because of the sensitivities involved.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and House Foreign Affairs ranking member Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, acknowledged they are part of the freeze after they were contacted by Defense News.
The two other lawmakers who can sign off on foreign military sales ― House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., are also part of the hold, according to multiple Capitol Hill sources. Neither would comment for this story.
“There is serious concern over [Turkey’s purchase of the S-400] in both parties and in both chambers on the Hill, and until the issues surrounding this purchase are resolved I cannot and will not support weapon sales to Turkey,” Risch said in an email to Defense News.
“An oh shit moment”
Turkey’s relationship with the United States has been strained for several years — especially with Congress.
Lawmakers have blasted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s deepening ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan’s rejection of U.S. offers to buy the Patriot surface-to-air missile system over the Russian-made S-400 and Turkey’s military incursion last year into Kurdish-controlled northern Syria also frustrated members of Congress.
“Turkey is a longtime strategic ally of the United States. That relationship has deteriorated dramatically in recent years and is quickly deteriorating further,” Risch said. “President Erdogan’s purchase of the Russian S-400 significantly changed the nature of our relationship. This purchase benefits our adversary Putin and threatens the integrity of the NATO Alliance.”
Traditionally, during the arms sales process, the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee — the so-called “four corners” — are granted an opportunity to dissuade the U.S. State Department from approving arms sales to foreign governments on an informal basis. The lawmakers have used that notification period to block sales from moving forward, but they consider such deliberations sensitive and rarely speak publicly about them.
Engel has refused to sign off on military sales to Turkey since mid 2018, while Risch has maintained his own hold since Turkey officially took possession of the S-400 in July 2019, according to multiple congressional sources. McCaul doesn’t have a blanket hold, and has, at certain points, signed off on sales specifically in support of NATO operations.
“Nobody has signed off on anything, roughly, for the last year,” said one congressional source. “Nothing moves in this process until all four of the offices have said, ‘yea.’”
A second congressional source described Turkey taking possession of the S-400 as “kind of, pardon my language, an oh shit moment.” The source added that Turkey riled lawmakers further in November, when it publicly targeted a Turkish F-16 with the S-400, a move interpreted as an implicit threat against other F-16 users, such as the United States.
“Not only was it intentionally provocative, but it happened the day after Erdogan was in the Oval Office,” the source said.
Turkey’s September 2017 decision to purchase the S-400 created a major rift between Turkey and its alliance partners. NATO officials quickly sounded the alarm that Turkey would compromise NATO’s security if it plugged the S-400 into allied systems, as the Russian system would be sharing a network with sensitive alliance data. Most significantly, American officials worried that the system would be able to gain information about the F-35, compromising the stealth capabilities of the jet. The presence of Russian contractors in Turkey to support the S-400 was also a concern.
President Donald Trump has yet to engage in the sort of high-profile confrontation with Congress over Turkey such as when he vetoed Congress’s attempt to halt U.S. sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last year. But the administration has made efforts to lobby lawmakers in favor of individual deals with Turkey, according to the second congressional source, who noted opposition to Turkey is both bipartisan and bicameral.
“Right now, the mood [in Congress] toward Turkey is enormous,” the source said. “Unless Turkey wants to change the narrative and do a mea culpa, the president could very easily lose a veto override vote.”
Just as the Trump administration has been quiet about the hold on sales, so have the U.S. defense contractors who would benefit from those purchases.
Two sources with ties to major defense primes said they had not seen evidence of a full-scale lobbying push from industry to clear the way for these deals, which include new sales and the renewal of existing contracts typically viewed as routine.
Instead, an unspoken consensus exists among contractors to wait out the holds until tensions between the United States and Turkey cool, or until new policymakers in either a Biden or second Trump administration shift the White House’s willingness to work with Turkey.
“We’re operating under the impression that anything that requires congressional notification will not move forward this year,” said one source.
Risch in particular has evinced frustration the United States could not reach a deal on the Patriot system. Similarly, when congressional ire was peaking over Turkey’s invasion of Syria in October, Engel called Erdogan an “authoritarian thug” whose rule is “a glaring black mark on Turkey’s historic secular, democratic traditions.”
“We need to pressure him while ramping up diplomacy in the hopes of getting Turkey back on the right track as a NATO ally,” Engel said at the time.
Another motivating issue is the lack of action from the Trump administration on implementing the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.
Under that law, the Trump administration is bound to level sanctions against any nation that purchase a major defense article from Russia, but the administration has yet to impose those sanctions, much to the consternation of Congress.
“Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 is unacceptable and undermines NATO’s mission to deter Russian aggression,” McCaul said in a email to Defense News. “The Administration must impose the sanctions required by law in response to this purchase. Turkey must reverse course on this destabilizing action to renew the United States’ confidence in our defense relationship.”
McCaul supports a proposal to lift CAATSA sanctions against Turkey, once imposed, if Turkey no longer possesses the S-400. That proposal passed as part of the House’s version of the annual defense policy bill.
Melissa Dalton, a former Pentagon official now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, called the lack of resistance from the administration “surprising, in the sense that Turkey is an actual ally, whereas the Saudis are just a close partner.” But she noted that Turkey falls on a seam between the European and Middle Eastern subject teams, both at the Pentagon and at the State Department, and so putting together “a coherent policy to start with is tough.”
Through a spokesman, the State Department declined to comment on the Turkey arms hold.
In a statement to Defense News, the Turkish embassy in Washington said “There are a number of arms procurement cases for Turkey, pending approval in Congress. As a staunch member of NATO and an ally of the U.S., we are confident that approval of these requests without further delay will be a natural outcome of our strategic cooperation.
“The U.S. is our number one trade partner in defense industry and we believe that it is in the strategic interest of both Turkey and the U.S. to further increase our bilateral cooperation in this field.”
The defense industry is watching the export issue closely.
Arms deals between the United States and Turkey totaled nearly $1bn from 2015 through 2019, according to data compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. During that time, Turkey ranked within the United States’ top 20 customers, with purchases that included aircraft and missiles. Its military is now in the market for trainer helicopters.
Not all arms deals to Turkey have stopped. Older cases that are already underway have not paused, and any weapons sales — be it Foreign Military Sales (FMS), where the U.S. government acts as a go-between, or Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), in which the country deals directly with industry — less than the $25m threshold is not subject to Congressional approval.
But direct commercial sales and low-tier FMS cases tend to be smaller deals, such as spare parts, ammunition, and maintenance packages for aging equipment. The tanks, planes and ships that form the core of any modern military remain the province of major FMS sales.
The blockage has paralyzed negotiations for several deals, including a follow-on contract for F-16 upgrades, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.
Lockheed Martin is performing structural upgrades to a portion of Turkey’s aging F-16 Block 30 fleet under a direct commercial sales contract that expires this fall. Defense News reported in 2017 that it would take until 2023 for Lockheed to complete modifications for all 35 F-16s included in the deal.
An industry source with knowledge of the F-16 contract said that Lockheed is still “planning to complete the requirements” of the order and does not “foresee any performance changes or requirement changes.”
When asked to comment about the Turkish F-16 upgrade contract, Lockheed Martin officials said that “any questions related to F-16 sustainment work should be directed to the U.S. government.”
Another side effect of Congress’ hold is the endangerment of a $1.5bn deal between Turkey and Pakistan for the sale of 30 Turkish-made T129s attack helicopters, an issue Defense News reported on earlier this year.
Two major Turkish firms are licensed to domestically produce the T129 and its engine. Turkish Aerospace Industries manufactures the helicopter through a partnership with Italian-British aerospace company AgustaWestland. Meanwhile, the helicopter’s CTS800 engine — originally designed by the Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company, a joint venture between U.S.-based Honeywell and U.K.-based Rolls Royce — is made by Tusaş Engine Industries.
Because the CTS800 was originally produced in the United States, Turkey cannot sell T129s — or any weapon system containing that engine — without obtaining an export license from the U.S. government.
But those licenses are also being held back as a result of the congressional block on arms deals, leaving Tusaş Engine Industries racing to develop a replacement engine for the T129.
“Pakistan has agreed to give us another year [to resolve the problem]. We hope we will be able to develop our indigenous engine soon to power the T129,” Ismail Demir, the head of Turkey’s top procurement agency, said Jan. 6. “After one year, Pakistan may be satisfied with the level of progress in our engine program, or the U.S. may grant us the export license.”
Threatening the T129 sale to Pakistan hurts Turkey more than just financially, said Joel Johnson, a Teal Group analyst who has previously worked for the State Department and as a staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
For one, the sale cements a relationship between Turkey and a fellow Islamic nation, signaling the country’s pivot from the West. Increasing annual defense exports is also a key priority for Erdogan, who vowed in 2015 to boost arms sales to $25bn by 2023 and to rid the Turkish defense industrial base of its reliance on foreign suppliers.
“This is a nerve ending that is very sensitive to Erdogan. It’s not the helicopters, per se, it’s the symbolism of the sale that hits him in a way that hurts,” Johnson said.
Honeywell and Rolls Royce declined to comment for this story.
The current hold marks the first U.S. arms embargo on Turkey since 1975, after Turkey invaded Cyprus and Washington halted sales of weapons and military assistance to Turkey for three years.
Some industry officials worry that if the hold extends much beyond 2021, the relationship between American and Turkish defense contractors could diminish as legacy contracts expire, leading Turkish firms to seek industrial partnerships elsewhere.
“What value [does] the Hill or the administration see in holding up these legacy areas of cooperation? Do we really think that will influence Erdogan’s decision making?” the source said. “Will industry be able to simply restart the defense industrial cooperation once Erdogan is out of power in the future? I think that’s the tricky part. The policy decision makes sense, but the byproducts of that policy decision and the implications down the road have the potential to hurt industry and U.S. national security.”
But Teal’s Johnson countered that Congress’ block on sales could force the White House to work with lawmakers more closely on issues related to Turkey, including potential sanctions or punitive measures in the wake of the S-400 acquisition.
“Congress can’t negotiate with Turkey. They can only really go negotiate with the White House, so the question is, what do they want the White House to do, and is anybody talking?” he said. “Normally, if you had a normal president, the congressional staffers would be quietly talking to the [National Security Council] and the State Department about what they want. … It’s hard to see the way forward with this group.”
Even if Turkey fulfills U.S. government demands and arm sales resume, it remains to be seen whether Turkey will still line up to buy American weapons.
Over the past 15 years, Turkey has drastically cut its spending on weapons imports, going from the world’s third largest importer in the 1995-1999 timeframe to 15th in 2015-2019, according to SIPRI.
The last FMS deal approved by the State Department to Turkey was in 2018: an offer to sell 80 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missiles, and 60 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles — a last ditch effort by the U.S. government to entice Ankara to cancel its S-400 purchase in favor of an American air defense system. It was never completed, as Turkey pressed on with the procurement of the S-400.
Ultimately, the Patriot deal was taken off the table.
According to figures from the State Department, in 2017 the United States authorized more than $587m in DCS sales for Turkey and shipped equipment worth more than $106m. The next year, the United States approved more than $600m and shipped $136m in weapons. In 2019, more than $615m was authorized and over $66m shipped.
Although the United States remains Turkey’s biggest foreign supplier of weapons, the country makes a fair amount of military goods domestically, has purchased Russian arms like the S-400, and even flirted with buying a Chinese missile system in 2013.
“They have a reasonably capable defense industrial base that is getting more capable because of investment going in from the government. They’ve also become a little more of a catholic shopper,” said Douglas Barrie, a military aerospace expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies. “They have some options. They wouldn’t just have to look to Europe if the U.S. was no longer seen as a supplier nation to them. I think, on some occasions, they may look farther afield.”
It’s unclear whether a retaliatory action like the arms sale freeze helps bring Erdogan to the table, or whether it pushes Turkey even further into Russia’s arms.
“The alliance is incredibly troubled at the moment, but I don’t think it’s beyond the pale,” Dalton said. “The U.S. has a lot at stake in terms of Turkey’s trajectory, and the NATO alliance has a lot at stake as well. So for all those reasons, [any actions] need to be framed as part of a broader approach.
“I don’t have high confidence that it’s being framed in that way.” (Source: Defense News)
10 Aug 20. On Rare Earths, the Pentagon Is Making the Same Mistake Twice. Its investment in a California mining venture is pretty much exactly the wrong approach to securing access to vital materials. The Pentagon, which peers beyond the horizon using radars powered by rare earth materials, is far more short-sighted when it comes to securing access to the critical elements that drive so much of its high-tech arsenals of today and tomorrow.
This lack of vision is evident in the Pentagon’s recent decision to fund MP Materials, the privately held company that owns the twice-defunct Mountain Pass mine in California. Officials say the investment is part of a strategy to ensure American access to these key minerals. But this deposit does not serve U.S. technology and defense industry needs. For one thing, the geochemistry of the deposit is deficient; for another, the project may well be a geopolitical ruse.
The fundamental problem with the Pentagon’s decision is that the Mountain Pass deposit cannot produce many of the heavy rare earths that are critical to the military. For example, it lacks terbium and dysprosium, used in all high-temperature military-grade magnets for guided weapons, drones and the F-35. (Nor does it serve the U.S. commercial market, lacking lutetium, used in medical imaging devices; thulium and ytterbium, used in X-ray devices; and erbium and holmium, used in medical lasers.)
But there are other reasons to question the Pentagon’s judgment. One is that MP is partially funded by a Chinese company that acts as MP’s sole off-taker. This Chinese participation should have raised serious questions within the Pentagon, as it has within the U.S. Department of Energy.
The first question anyone should ask is: Why would the Chinese commit to buying rare earth concentrates with such a high dead-weight value? More than 82 percent of the concentrate is cerium and lanthanum. These elements are in oversupply and sell below their mined and processed cost.
And then: Why would China bother to haul these low-value materials across California and the Pacific Ocean for processing when it has access to much better rare earths from new producers in Asia and Africa?
Some industry analysts suspect that China’s interest in propping up MP is to use this U.S. company as a proxy to influence U.S. policy with the simple objective of protecting and extending its monopolistic advantage.
Another obvious problem is that MP, like its predecessor Molycorp, ships these materials to China to be converted into their usable form, metals, alloys or magnets, doing nothing to minimize U.S. dependence on China.
Of course, MP says it has a “mine to magnet” strategy, but it is the exact same plan that the now-defunct Molycorp sold to the Pentagon and investors in 2010.
One other problem, not learned from recent history, is that this decision will channel most, if not all, private capital into this one project. Because investors will view the U.S. government’s backing of Molycorp as an endorsement, the U.S. capital markets will overwhelmingly committed capital to that project – leaving all other projects to languish. This is exactly what happened the last time.
At the time of Molycorp’s IPO there were over 450 rare earth projects seeking financing. The U.S. equity markets directed nearly all of their capital into Molycorp while the Japanese government and rare earth dependent end-users backed Lynas.
The Pentagon’s decision in to back the Molycorp project in 2010, resulting in a spectacular bankruptcy in 2015, poisoned the investment well for this sector. No new private equity flowed into this space for the remainder of the decade; essentially gifting China another uncontested decade of rare earth supremacy. The resulting capital drought resulted in the near-bankruptcy of many superior projects, with more than a few being bailed out by the Chinese.
A decade later, and the Pentagon is setting up the dominos for a re-make of this fiasco. The only thing that has changed over the past decade is that China is now leading the U.S. in economic diplomacy in the Asian and African region, home to the many new low-cost Asian and African mining projects, making the commercial environment for a mine like Mt. Pass even more precarious.
The trajectory of this project will not be measurably different from its predecessor and there are no mineralogical, economic or strategic reasons on ‘the Pentagon’s radar’ that can justify this decision. It is a strange and dangerous incongruity that the largest and most generously funded war planning entity in the world cannot see beyond the horizon and has no institutional memory of its past mistakes. (Source: Defense One)
10 Aug 20. Scientists, Policy Experts Assess Environment’s Impact on Stability, Defense Strategy. The environmental factors affect war and security has long been known, but a new Defense Department group seeks to increase awareness of these factors in making policy and responding to crises.
RECESS — Resource Competition, Environmental Security and Stability — is the brainchild of Dr. Annalise Blum, a policy fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, who works in the Pentagon’s Office of Peacekeeping and Stability Operations. The idea underlying the program is to build a community of interest that examines environmental factors, and what that means to the threats moving forward and in the U.S. response.
The increasing desertification in Africa is a case in point. As the Sahara grows south, people can become displaced and desperate. Groups such as the terrorist group Boko Haram swoop in and convince these desperate people to join their extremist organizations, not necessarily because they believe the ideology, but because it represents survival, Blum said.
Blum called the Lake Chad region the “poster child” for environmental instability where periods of drought and competition for water in the West African area play right into extremists’ hands. Blum, whose doctorate is in environmental and water resources engineering, notes that water is crucial, but environmental changes take many forms, affecting food supplies and crop growing seasons, and it may affect electricity generation and health.
Changes in environmental conditions mean stronger storms, more floods, more persistent droughts, rising sea levels, greater forest fires and more. In First World areas, governments and organizations can better deal with these effects. In some areas of Africa and Asia — both places where Blum did research — this becomes a problem. In many areas there is no government or the government’s ability to deliver capabilities is limited. This generates instability, and possibly war.
RECESS seeks to “inform strategic thinking to prepare more effectively for the risks associated with resource competition and environmental insecurity,” Blum said in an interview.
The group is a network of people from DOD organizations, led by the deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability and humanitarian affairs, concerned with environmental threats. “It allows us to share thinking among the various offices and possibly reduce duplication and encourage cooperation,” she said. For now, the group is in DOD, but they have had presentations by outside experts, including from the State Department.
RECESS also includes representatives from the intelligence community, and Blum said they are crucial to giving all participants an idea of the threats and instability that nations or regions face. As a whole, the group provides the participants “the opportunity to talk and coordinate the issues or ideas,” she said.
The combatant commands also play a large role in this process. U.S. Africa Command is dealing with droughts, floods, natural disasters and some man-made problems, Blum said. The command is also seeing a growth in extremist groups that recruit among the vulnerable and prey on populations. “U.S Africa Command’s work with nations in the region to mitigate the effects of some of these [environmental] changes is helping to support stability and prosperity,” Blum said.
Historically, the environment has always influenced outcomes. Had Washington known the Battle of Monmouth in 1778 would be fought in temperatures around 100 degrees, he may have had more water available and fewer soldiers would have died from the effects of the heat alone. A sticky, quagmire of a bog at Culloden ensured the Highlanders defeat in 1747. During operations against the Japanese in December 1944, Typhoon Cobra sank three U.S. ships and damaged a score more during World War II. The U.S. Marines at the Battle of Tarawa in 1943 had to walk a mile to shore after officials misread the tide table. The environment and weather can have great impact on how and where the military operates. Being informed and prepared to deal with these challenges helps ensure mission success.
“Environmental change impacts strategic competition,” Blum said. “We can see environmental trends and track them. Now we must consider these changes and study the implications. Supporting stability and environmental security presents an opportunity to support the National Defense Strategy objectives, including strengthening alliances and attracting new partners.”
Blum is one of about 20 AAAS Fellows in DOD. The program is targeted to scientists and engineers to join a government department or agency and gain experience in policymaking. It also allows them to impart their knowledge and scientific way of thinking to policymakers. (Source: US DoD)
07 Aug 20. DOD Innovation Speed Must Increase to Modernize. The Defense Department must be more innovative and act faster in its pursuit of putting new technology in warfighters’ hands, the director of Defense Innovation Unit said.
Speaking on a panel at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado yesterday, Michael Brown said while the 5-year-old DIU has been successful since former Defense Secretary Ash Carter stood it up in 2015, more needs to be done. DIU is a DOD organization Carter founded to help the U.S. military make faster use of emerging commercial technologies.
“I feel like we’re just scratching the surface,” Brown said, while adding that DIU has accomplished a lot in five years. “We probably influence about $500m worth of defense procurement. Big number in absolute terms, but … what defense buys is probably [up to] $400bn a year. Depending on the year, we’re a small drop in that bucket.”
To energize the flow of commercial technology into the Pentagon — the purpose of DIU — DOD needs to do a lot of things to make it easier for successful entrepreneurs who have the creativity, and vision and initiative to be successful with DOD, he said.
“But we’ve got to increase the scale of this effort because [of] the game-changing technologies that we face in competition with China, where we need to make investments: artificial intelligence, cyber autonomous systems, biotechnology — the list goes on,” Brown said.
DIU is ready to pick up the challenge, he added, but it needs to happen across the country to really take advantage of the innovations, he said.
“We’re not moving in government at an agile pace that reflects the nature of the competition. It’s about speed,” the DIU director said. “When we have successful prototypes that we’ve done, it’s difficult for the budgeting process to catch up and the services to catch up.”
Many of the technologies that DIU wants to prototype are not developed yet, he said, adding, “We need to be quick on our feet to be able to prototype, test in military application, and then have a rapid uptake to get those vendors into production.”
We have to change what is now about a two-year process, he said, if we want to have the flexibility to incorporate the most innovative technology.
“That could happen with bigger budgets that are focused on innovation; it can happen by trying to speed up that process,” Brown noted.
DOD now has the variety of authorities to tailor the contracting instrument to what we’re buying, he said.
“But the speed is now all about the budgeting process. And that requires work with Congress.”
“We have to develop a relationship that involves trust so that there is more budget flexibility,” he added.
To move faster, DOD must categorically reject that two years is required to agree on the war-fighting concept and get Congress to approve it, Brown said, adding, “That’s too slow in a competition with China.”
In addition to speeding up the budget process, “[We] need to be bolder in terms of our experimentation,” Brown said. “The world is moving way too fast in the technologies that are commercial … In the commercial world, we really can’t wait for that, or we’re going to be behind in terms of what we’re delivering to warfighters.”
DOD must be given more flexibility to experiment, and then use the commercial sector where it can inspire much more competition and let the taxpayer dollars stretch further, Brown said.
“This is going to be a bright spot in an environment where the defense budgets are flattening,” he added. (Source: US DoD)
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