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22 Oct 20. USMC Hop Islands, Set Up Long-Range Fires as Force Preps for Clash with China. Marines in Japan got a look at what the Corps’ future missions could look like during a recent island-hopping naval exercise in the East China Sea. After a small team of reconnaissance Marines landed on an island during the first-of-its-kind Exercise Noble Fury, a larger force swooped in on MV-22 Ospreys and AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. The grunts “quickly seized control of the island, establishing defensive positions,” according to a news release on the exercise.
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The Marines then coordinated with Seventh Fleet sailors, who had identified a target they couldn’t engage. After passing info along to the Marines ashore, an Air Force MC-130J Super Hercules landed on an expeditionary airfield in the middle of the night with a high-mobility artillery rocket system, or HIMARS.
“The HIMARS team fired a notional shot, destroying the target, and quickly loaded back into the MC-130J, taking off minutes after landing on the island,” the release states. The Marines then loaded into CH-53E Super Stallions, it adds, and “were on the move again to prepare for follow-on missions.”
In a call with reporters when the exercise wrapped up, Col. Robert Brodie, III Marine Expeditionary Force’s operations officer, called Noble Fury “a highly successful operation.”
“This is III MEF’s ability to establish expeditionary fires and forward arming and refueling points throughout the Indo-Pacific at any time, in any place of our calling,” Brodie said.
The exercise follows a call by Commandant Gen. David Berger to make III MEF a “credible deterrent to adversary aggression in the Pacific.” The Marine Corps is undergoing a series of force-wide changes as it refocuses on naval-based missions amid rising tensions with China.
That includes folding heavy tank units as leathernecks pivot toward missions in which small teams travel light and don’t remain in one spot for long. The service recently reestablished a landing support battalion that can deliver supplies to those types of stand-in forces ashore.
Noble Fury, Brodie said, gave III MEF and Seventh Fleet the chance to work together in simultaneous and distributed training events across Japan and at sea. During the exercise, Marines and sailors were spread across two Japanese islands — Ie Shima and Iwo To — while others were in Okinawa or aboard the amphibious assault ship America.
“It … showcases III MEF’s ability to command and control multiple expeditionary advance bases, [and] forward arming and refueling points throughout the Indo-Pacific theater,” Brodie said, adding it’s the first time “we’ve been able to exercise and achieve this.”
As the Marine Corps put it, “The future of the naval services was on display at Noble Fury.”
“This future envisions a light, agile Marine Corps force to conduct raids and rapidly seize islands throughout the Indo-Pacific to aid in establishing expeditionary advanced bases,” a news release states.(Source: Military.com)
22 Oct 20. Mission Engineering: Ensuring Key Technologies Drive the Joint Warfighting Concept. To achieve our National Defense Strategy goals, the Defense Department must increase the pace by which critical technologies are integrated into the force. According to officials with the Director of Defense Research and Engineering (Advanced Capabilities) and Joint Staff, Joint Force Integration Cell, the Deputy Director for Engineering, in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, is working with stakeholders from the Joint Staff and services to implement mission engineering methodologies to facilitate technology integration aligned with future Joint Force needs.
Where systems engineering helps “build things right,” ME ensures we are “building the right things.” ME, as defined in the forthcoming DoD Mission Engineering Guide being released by R&E, is “the deliberate planning, analyzing, organizing, and integrating of current and emerging operational and system capabilities to achieve desired warfighting mission effects.” The officials said ME analyzes systems and systems of systems in an operational mission context to evaluate capability solutions, advise on the development of requirements and inform technology investment decisions.
Spotlight: National Defense Strategy
Officials added that R&E is currently involved in various activities aligned to the National Defense Strategy modernization areas and in support of the Joint Staff. R&E’s ME framework focuses on desired activities and effects rather than the current pipeline of programs and systems, using mission capability as the measuring stick to make it easier to decide on technology investments. It provides a systematic method to analyze, communicate, and compare joint warfighting concepts. It starts by defining and inputting the activities, assumptions, dependencies, threats and gaps within a concept’s “mission area” future scenario. Then, using metrics and other indicators, it examines mission threads and effects-chains to quantify improvement and expose gaps between current and future technologies through tradeoff analysis.
The R&E is working with the Joint Staff and other stakeholders to apply this methodology to help guide the Joint Warfighting Concept (JWC), said the officials. The JWC’s supporting concepts are emerging, threat-informed constructs to codify globally integrated operations encompassing all-domain maneuver warfare — supported by leading-edge concepts in command and control, joint fires, information assurance and contested logistics — enhanced by integrated capabilities in space, cyber, and electromagnetic spectrum dominance. By setting the JWC in a common analytical framework, it can validate (or invalidate) assumptions and untangle complex and intertwined dependencies. Mission blueprints and enterprise architectures are the products that capture these dependencies, future constructs, and performance needs.
Additionally, R&E co-chairs the Joint All Domain Command Control (JADC2) Research and Engineering/Reference Architecture Working Group. R&E, in coordination with J6, is conducting ME to apply analytical and technical rigor in a mission context to identify JADC2 capabilities and requirements and inform investment decisions for research and development initiatives. The results will support the development of the JADC2 reference architecture which provides the foundation to connect distributed sensors, shooters and data across all domains to all forces, the officials added.
ME products are already making a significant impact by providing data-driven “mission blueprints,” as well as government reference architectures that help decision makers ensure research, technology and programs converge in the proper timeframes. The officials said that applied to JADC2, FNC3 and other technical focus areas, the R&E’s principal directors for modernization can apply ME to guide the maturation of capabilities that deliver the highest mission efficacy and mission return on investment.
The officials said to face the challenges of this century, and give U.S. warfighters the technological edge they need to effectively confront near-peer competitors, the Defense Department must embrace a new approach to joint capability modernization. ME and related tools like the ME Framework will help instill engineering rigor into the technology and acquisition pipelines, with the promise of keeping U.S. forces relevant and dominant in the rapidly evolving battlespace of the coming decades. (Source: US DoD)
22 Oct 20. USAF Chief details plans for future force. New US Air Force Chief of Staff, General Charles Brown jnr, has used an address to the Mitchell Institute to detail the need to “fully understand our adversary” for the force to successfully adapt to information-age warfare while moving with speed and certainty in order to fulfill missions and protect national security.
In his first appearance at the influential Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies since becoming the Air Force’s highest-ranking officer, Gen Brown offered his prescription during the virtual event for maintaining the service’s excellence, his approach on leadership and insights on an array of topics ranging from the status of the nuclear triad to the value of war games and bureaucracy.
Tying them together was Gen Brown’s insistence that the Air Force move fast and that its policies and practices conform to a time of great power competition and the value of joint operations.
He spoke at length during the hour-long session about a document he released in August titled ‘Accelerate Change or Lose’, an eight-page document capturing his priorities and the culture needed to accomplish them.
That document was followed by “action orders” focused on four specific areas – Airmen, bureaucracy, competition and, finally, design and implementation.
Gen Brown explained, “Our peer competitors … are challenging us in different ways and challenging how we are able to generate combat power now and into the future,” he said, adding that how the threats are defined must also be recalibrated.
“We’re in contested space right now when you think about cyber. We need to be thinking about how we deal in the homeland as well at the same time we think about how we might fight what I call an ‘away game.”
For the “Airmen” category Gen Brown said, “I’m thinking about those who wear the uniform or are Department of the Air Force civilians, they ought to appreciate coming to work each day,” echoing a sentiment expressed by previous Chiefs of Staff.
He added, “We must provide them the resources, the training and the guidance and the intent and the authority to do their jobs and enjoy coming to work.”
For that approach to work, he said, Air Force leaders must ensure the proper conditions are present.
“Do they have all the tools? Have we helped them through the path? Or do we throw them in the deep end and say, ‘Call if you need help?’ How do we work with all the leadership chains to make sure they have what they need?” Gen Brown said.
Likewise, he said he is determined to ensure that leaders and Airmen know bureaucracy must be streamlined and even reshaped. “Redundancy” must be eliminated where possible and lines of communication “must be flattened”.
On competition, Gen Brown said the Air Force, like the US military as a whole, is moving with dispatch to reconfigure its policies, practices and doctrine to confront peer powers such as Russia and China after decades focusing on combating terrorism.
Succeeding, he said, demands a deep and precise knowledge of each adversary and successfully incorporating new mindsets that embrace joint operations and the value of “capabilities” rather than individual “platforms”.
“We’ve got to get our house in order to talk more about capabilities and less about platform. We need to take a hard look at each platform, each capability we buy and look at it through the lens of what the threat is and not just blindly continuing to buy the same thing because it’s available,” Gen Brown explained.
Building on these points, he offered two examples.
One is further development and field tests of the advancement of the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS).
That system links sensors, weapons and hardware from multiple services that provides unprecedented speed and information to joint commanders processed by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Second, Gen Brown said in response to a question, is clarity on what the Air Force means when it says it needs to increase to 386 squadrons:
“The number 386 was in response to a specific question – how big does the Air Force need to be to execute the National Defense Strategy? It wasn’t how big of an Air Force can you afford?”
Gen Brown expanded on these points further, stating, “I think more so what’s the capability that would give me the equivalent of 386? It may be information, moving data that increases our capability … Anything less, capability-wise, incurs some level of risk.”
He acknowledged that modernising the land-based and bomber-based nuclear deterrent that the Air Force operates is needed. That the air, land, sea triad is critical to the nation’s security is without question, Brown said, calling it “a bedrock of deterrence since the Cold War.”
Finally, Gen Brown added, “As we think about the modernisation aspect of this we also have to understand where our adversaries are and what they are doing. That should factor into the decision making as we go forward.
“We’ve got great systems but our two legs of the nuclear triad are up in age and modernisation will be important.” (Source: Defence Connect)
21 Oct 20. Budget for secretive military intelligence program hits nine-year spending high. The Pentagon’s secret intelligence fund received $23.1bn in appropriated funds for the recently concluded fiscal 2020 — the highest total for the account in nine years. The increased funding for the Military Intelligence Program, or MIP, comes after FY19 saw a rare decrease in year-over-year spending power for the classified account. The funding, which includes both base dollars and overseas contingency operations money, “is aligned to support the National Defense Strategy,” per a four-sentence statement from the Pentagon.
The department annually waits until after the fiscal year ends to announce how much money it was given for the fund. The Pentagon requested less than $23bn for the MIP in its FY20 budget request, meaning Congress gave the fund a slight increase over requested amounts.
“The department has determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP,” the statement read. “No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.”
According to a 2019 Congressional Research Service report, the MIP funds “defense intelligence activities intended to support operational and tactical level intelligence priorities supporting defense operations.” Among other uses, these dollars can be spent to facilitate the dissemination of information that relates to a foreign country or political group, and covert or clandestine activities against political and military groups or individuals.
MIP money also partly goes to U.S. Special Operations Command to pursue “several current acquisition efforts focused on outfitting aircraft — both manned and unmanned, fixed and rotary wing — with advanced ISR and data storage capabilities that will work in multiple environments,” according to CRS.
MIP funding went as high as $27bn in FY10 and sat at $24bn in FY11. But by FY15, it hit a low point for the decade, at $16.5bn, per CRS.
The MIP then had three straight years of growth, going from $17.7bn in FY16 to $18.4bn in FY17, and to $22.1bn in FY18. It dipped in FY19 to $21.5bn. (Source: Defense News)
21 Oct 20. DOD Must Rethink, Prioritize Strategic Deterrence. The nation has not seriously considered the possibility of engaging in competition through a crisis or possible direct armed conflict with a nuclear-capable armed adversary in more than 25 years, Navy Adm. Charles “Chas” A. Richard, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said today.
The commander spoke virtually in a keynote address to the International Security at the Nuclear Nexus seminar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“Given Russia and China’s expanding capabilities in increasingly aggressive behavior, and those posed by nuclear North Korea and possibly Iran, we must reinvigorate the national conversation on the importance of strategic deterrence,” he said.
During the last 30 years, however, the Defense Department has focused on capabilities-based development and planning, because there was no existential threat, he said. “Our post-Cold War experiences of operating in uncontested domains are over. Our adversaries took advantage of this period, emboldened … their aggressive behavior, expanded their capabilities and reconsidered their tactics and strategies.”
But, as the commander in charge of employing strategic deterrence capabilities for the nation and U.S. allies, Richard said he simply doesn’t have the luxury of assuming a crisis conflict or war won’t happen.
“I know I painted a pretty sobering picture, but I really want to highlight the reality in front of us. It’s also important to understand how our modernization programs support and integrate with our efforts to rethink how we do strategic deterrence,” he noted.
The admiral said the DOD must prioritize the sustainment modernization of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile bombers, ballistic missile submarines, weapons complex and its nuclear command, control and communications systems, also known as NC3.
Richard said he is committed to investing in modernizing NC3 systems to be more robust and survivable against physical, electromagnetic and cyber attacks.
To shape the strategic environment to the U.S.’ advantage, the DOD must first face the reality that its adversaries have blurred the lines between conventional and nuclear conflict, and have developed capabilities to directly challenge the strategy, doctrine and advantages the United States has held as a nation and alliance.
“We can no longer expect our potential adversaries to act within our long-standing, self-imposed constraints based on our rule sets or values, particularly between conventional and nuclear,” he said.
Richard has challenged Stratcom to revise its 21st-century strategic deterrence theory that considers U.S. adversaries’ decision calculus and behaviors and identifies threat indicators or conditions that could indicate potential actions. Crafting this revised theory, he added, minimizes risks inherent in competing against another nuclear-armed state.
“It’s an exhaustive assessment to fully account for current conditions, emerging capabilities, changing norms and rule sets, and potentially unintended outcomes within a spectrum of conflict,” he noted.
“By the end of the decade, if not sooner, we will face two nuclear-capable peer adversaries who have to be deterred differently. We’ve never had to face that situation in our history,” Richard said.
Additionally, the DOD must engage in the environment early to shape its potential adversaries’ actions, using a synchronized whole-of-government and integrated global mindset, he said.
“Our ability for globally integrated planning, communications and execution in a defined, shared understanding of the threat and what we do about it may be our last remaining advantage over the adversary,” the Stratcom commander said.
The DOD must advance its abilities to integrate its coordination processes across the globe and across all domains, Richard said, adding that will include rethinking how DOD executes its NC3.
“As advanced kinetic capabilities are developed, we must have the ability to detect, identify, track and integrate our command and control architecture. NC3 architecture is a patchwork of deliberate systems that have been piecemealed over decades, [and] it works quite well, but it needs to be updated,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
20 Oct 20. Menendez, Feinstein Introduce Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2020. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced the Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2020, legislation to reassert Congressional oversight over the sale of sophisticated and mission-critical American military systems.
The new legislation comes against the backdrop of the Trump administration’s efforts to rush the sale of the United States’ most advanced fighter aircraft to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The administration’s headlong effort threatens to short-circuit a comprehensive interagency process by national security professionals at both the State Department and the Department of Defense, as well as undermine Congressional consultation and review processes. The result of a hasty sale of F-35s to a country in a volatile region with multiple ongoing conflicts could be severe and cause irreparable damage to critical technology and military advantages of both the United States and Israel.
The Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2020 ensures that any such sale will not proceed to delivery of aircraft unless and until the President can make detailed certifications to Congress that the United States’ aircraft technology and Israel’s security are fully protected.
“Ensuring that the United States and its crucial partner in the Middle East, Israel, maintain their critical qualitative military advantages over all potential adversaries is enshrined in law and must be one of the highest priorities of any President and Congress; this rush to close an F-35 deal by President Trump before the end of his term could well undermine that objective,” said Ranking Member Menendez. “This legislation would require that a fair, comprehensive, and soberly deliberative consideration of any such sale takes place, shorn of extraneous political or other interests.”
“Congress has an obligation to make sure that the most sophisticated U.S. weaponry be limited to our use and that of our most trusted allies,” said Senator Feinstein. “That’s why this legislation places significant limits on this or any future administration’s ability to sell the F-35 aircraft to the Middle East, where it could threaten our interests and Israel’s military edge in the region. I’m proud to join Senator Menendez in introducing a bill to solidify Congress’ role overseeing arms sales.”
A copy of the Secure F-35 Exports Act of 2020 can be found: https://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/DAV20F39%20(005).pdf
The legislation’s key provisions include:
— Requires that the President assess and report to Congress, before any provision of F-35 aircraft to countries that are not NATO members or Israel, Australia, Japan, South Korea or New Zealand:
* a full assessment of the risks presented by such sale, export, or transfer to the security of the United States, including to the critical military and technological military advantage such aircraft provide to the United States Armed Forces; and
* a certification that such sale, export, or transfer does not present a significant danger of compromising the critical military and technological military advantage such aircraft provide to the United States Armed Forces.
— Requires a certification by the President before the provision of F-35 aircraft to a Middle Eastern country other than Israel that:
* such sale will not compromise or undermine Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME);
* strong assurances have been made that these aircraft will not be used in activities or operations inimical to the security of Israel, or to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States;
* sufficient technology security measures will be required to prevent espionage against these aircraft; and
* if these assurances are violated, the U.S. will have the means to counter those violations.
— Requires a certification by the President before delivery that:
* the provision of F-35 aircraft will not undermine Israel’s QME;
* the U.S. has instituted technology security measures;
* such country has not transferred any US-origin arms to terrorists or adversaries of Israel or the United States;
* such country has not provided weapons from any source directly or indirectly to armed militias fighting against partners and allies of the U.S.;
* such country has not conducted surveillance on any U.S. citizen or committing on enabling human rights violations; and
* such country has not acquired foreign technology to compromise the technology of such aircraft.
— Requires, for 10 years subsequent to delivery of F-35 aircraft, annual certifications that:
* the U.S. continues to institute technology security measures;
* the recipient country has not engaged in military, paramilitary, or intelligence operations inimical to the security of Israel or to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States within the year prior to the certification; and
* the recipient country has not committed or enabled human rights violations.
— Requires the President to assess whether Israel is in danger of suffering a quantitative military disadvantage from the buildup of armed forces by other countries in the Middle East. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/US Senator Bob Menendez)
20 Oct 20. Esper Details Approach for Strengthening Alliances, Partnerships. As America’s strategic competitors modernize their own armed forces and continue to ignore international law, violate the sovereignty of smaller states and shift the balance of power in their favor, the strength of U.S. military alliances and partnerships becomes even more important.
Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper signed the “Guidance for Development of Alliances and Partnerships.” The GDAP is a comprehensive approach to strengthen alliances and build partnerships, Esper said today while speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C.
“In the past, our international engagements were guided by regional priorities and interests,” Esper said. “But we are now in an era of great power competition that is global in nature. This reality requires a common set of priorities across the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the services and the combatant commands, that will drive our interactions with our foreign counterparts and improve our effectiveness.”
The GDAP, he said, will help the department prioritize, align and synchronize security cooperation activities; better articulate the needs for ally and partner warfighting roles; focus efforts to help partners shape their militaries into more capable forces and measure and track progress across a wide range of tools available to the Defense Department.
As part of the GDAP, Esper said he’s asked departmental leaders to focus on four areas: leader engagement, international professional military education, the State Partnership Program and foreign military sales.
Esper said across the department, military and civilian leaders meet with foreign counterparts all the time. In the past year, he said, he’s conducted more than 200 such meetings in over 60 nations. But that those meetings are not on their own enough, he said — each must prove to be of value. Until now, he said, there’s been no effort to determine that value.
“Previously, we did not have a central repository for tracking senior leader engagements across the enterprise, let alone directing them, and then measuring progress against our collective goals,” he said. “It is very difficult to improve a process — let alone a relationship — if you don’t have a goal, and you don’t measure it. Nor can you make a resource like key leader engagements more effective in strategic competition if you don’t monitor and assess it.”
Now, he said, the department is tracking and analyzing the effectiveness of senior leader engagements with foreign military counterparts. This effort will allow the department to prioritize engagements, establish a common set of objectives and chart progress with each country, he said.
International professional military education is another key part of implementing GDAP, Esper said.
“One of our best means for strengthening existing partnerships and cultivating new ones is education and training programs, especially those run right here at home,” he said.
Already, the U.S. provides allies and partners with access to nearly 400 U.S.-led professional military education courses. But more can be done, Esper said.
“I have asked the department to find ways to expand the programs with the highest potential for enduring impact, increasing their student participation by 10 percent in fiscal year 2021, and over 50 percent between fiscal years 2021 and 2025,” he said.
Esper said Congressional support will be needed to help make that happen.
Another aspect of partnership building, he said, is the National Guard’s State Partnership Program. That program, started in 1993, he said, is ready for possible expansion.
“This program was designed to build relationships with former Soviet Bloc nations,” he said. “Starting with just three partnerships in the Baltics, today it boasts 82 around the world — and each U.S. state, territory and the District of Columbia has at least one partner.”
Right now, he said, the State Partnership Program is poised to add four new partners to its roster. He also said he’d like to increase participation by an additional eight nations by the end of 2025.
“To support this we are looking at increasing funding and making those resources more consistent and predictable,” he said. “At the same time, the program must also shift its focus to frontline and emerging partner nations to compete with China and Russia. We will undertake an independent strategic evaluation to look at all existing partnerships to help us find efficiencies and increase the effectiveness of this important program.”
As with international professional military education, he said, expansion of the State Partnership Program will need assistance from Congress.
Finally, the U.S. increases relationships with partner and allied nations through foreign military sales. In fiscal year 2019, he said, FMS amounted to more than $55bn. In the Indo-Pacific region, he said, more than $160bn worth of FMS projects are now underway.
“The strength of foreign military sales as a tool for advancing our relationships is equal to its potential for unleashing our domestic industrial base for innovation at home and strategic competition in the global marketplace,” Esper said.
To help with FMS, the department also recently launched the Defense Trade Modernization effort, Esper said. Within the DTM effort, the department will work to remedy a U.S. defense export process that’s often been identified as slow, opaque and complicated, Esper said. The DTM will work to make the department’s FMS efforts more competitive than they are now.
“We must compete with China and Russia, whose state-owned industries can fast-track military exports in ways that we cannot — and would never want to, in many cases,” Esper said. “We set out to reform our approach to make the United States more competitive in the global marketplace and to strengthen our cooperation with allies and partners.” (Source: US DoD)
20 Oct 20. Esper hints that the 2nd Cavalry Regiment could be heading closer to Russia. The Defense Department has been in talks with a handful of Eastern European countries about deploying thousands of soldiers closer to the Russian border, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday in his prepared remarks in an appearance at the Atlantic Council.
In July, Esper announced that the 2nd Cavalry Regiment would be transferred from its home at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, Germany, to a stateside post to be determined, as part of withdrawal of nearly 12,000 troops from that country. He had also proposed deploying its infantry and armor troops back to Europe on a rotational basis, and his remarks Tuesday revealed some groundwork already being laid.
“Indeed, since … the signing of the defense cooperation agreement with Poland, my recent meetings with defense ministers from Romania and Bulgaria, and correspondence received from Baltic states, there is now the real opportunity of keeping the 2nd Cavalry Regiment forward in some of these countries on an enduring basis,” Esper said.
A Pentagon spokesman clarified that Esper was referring to an purely rotational presence.
“… the nearly 4,500 members of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment will return to the United States as other Stryker units begin continuous rotations farther east in the Black Sea region, giving us a more enduring presence to enhance deterrence and reassure allies along NATO’s southeastern flank,” Esper said during the July 29 roll-out of his Europe posture plan.
So 2nd Cavalry Regiment will be relieved by other units, much like those who have been rotating through Europe since 2016.
Deploying those troops closer to Russia is part of the larger strategy, as troops based in Germany were spending more and more time on joint exercises and other training opportunities with countries right in the line of encroachment. (Source: Army Times)
20 Oct 20. Is Lockheed Building the Air Force’s Secret Fighter? Is Lockheed Martin building a secret new fighter jet that U.S. Air Force officials revealed last month? Company executives dropped some not-so-subtle hints about the company’s growing backlog of classified military work, including one project that requires erecting a new building at its secretive Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California. They also pointed to revenue growth within the company’s Aeronautics division, which includes the Advanced Development Programs shop that created the fabled U-2 and SR-71 spy planes and F-117 stealth attack jet.
“We do anticipate seeing strong double-digit growth at our Skunk Works — our classified Advanced Development Programs,” Lockheed CFO Ken Possenriede said during the company’s quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts. “We continue to execute on…recent awards.”
Last month, Air Force leaders revealed they had built and flown a prototype for the Next Generation Air Dominance program — an effort to develop a new generation of warplanes. Service officials said the project relied heavily on digital engineering, but declined to reveal much else, including what company or companies were working on the new aircraft. The classified aircraft project is believed to have started near the end of the Obama administration.
During an interview after the call, Possenriede mentioned a classified project that was the Aeronautics division’s top priority when he worked there between 2016 and 2019.
“It was bid aggressively [and] we happen to have won that one,” he said. “And we’re very happy with the results [and] the outcome right now.”
On the earnings call, Possenriede said that “in the classified area of Aeronautics, there are a multitude of opportunities out there.”
He said the company needs to build a building for a classified project in Palmdale, adding that “there are other customers that have a keen interest in that program.”
In 2019, Lockheed’s Aeronautics division booked $19.6bn in sales over the first nine months of 2020. That’s nearly 13 percent higher than what the sector booked over the same period in 2019. Overall, the company will spend about $1.7bn on capital expenditures, like new facilities, in 2020 and 2021, Possenriede said.
“We’re going to keep investing in organic capital expenditures to build capacity to deliver on our core business,” Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet said on the call. “Much of what we spent this year is on classified programs in both aeronautics and space, that are growing relatively rapidly. And so we’re going to continue to do those organic investments every time we can.”
Aeronautics is not the only division seeing a bump in classified contracts. Lockheed’s Space and Missile and Fire Control divisions are also seeing an uptick in secret work.
The missiles division, which is working on hypersonic weapons projects with the Aeronautics and Space divisions, won what Possenriede called a “large classified program” that is still in development.
“We will start to see — in the next four to five years — that go into limited-rate production, and then ultimately into production,” he said. (Source: Defense One)
20 Oct 20. The Army and Air Force are finally on the same page with a plan to connect the military. What happens next?
After years of sometimes contentious discussions, the Army and Air Force have adopted a plan to work together on what they are now calling Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control — the idea that all of the U.S. military’s sensors and shooters must be able to send data to each other seamlessly and instantaneously.
The agreement, signed Sept. 29 by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, paves the way for closer collaboration on “mutual standards for data sharing and service interfacing” that will ultimately allow the services to ensure that new communications gear, networks and artificial intelligence systems they field can connect to each other, reducing the risk of incompatibility.
But much is still unknown, including the exact nature of the Army-Air Force collaboration and how much technology the services will be willing to share.
Army Futures Command and the Air Force’s office of strategy, integration and requirements are tasked with leading the joint effort, which will bridge the services’ major avenues for CJADC2 experimentation — the Army’s Project Convergence and the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System.
Over the next 60 days, the two services will formulate a plan to connect the Project Convergence and ABMS exercises, and ensure data can be transmitted along their platforms, said Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, who leads Air Force’s strategy office.
But that doesn’t mean the services are on a path to adopt the same systems architecture, data standards and interfaces.
“What the Army and the Air Force are agreeing to is, we’re going to be able to see their data, they’re going to be able to see our data. And as much as we can, we will come up with common standards,” Hinote said in an Oct. 15 interview. “But even if we can’t come up with common standards, we realize that translators are going to be something that will be with us for a long time, and we will build the translators necessary to make sure we can share.”
The main point of the discussions was to avoid redundancies, McConville told Defense News on Oct. 15.
“We basically laid out what we’re doing, what they were doing, what the joint force was doing,” he said. “We don’t need to have duplications. We don’t want to have gaps in what we’re doing and what we agreed to.”
Ultimately, such close coordination between Army and Air Force leaders only happens once in a generation, said Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who pointed to the formation of the AirLand Battle doctrine in the 1980s as the last time they worked together so intimately on a new war-fighting concept.
“I’m very encouraged that we have the Air Staff and the Army Staff investing countless hours,” he said. “We’re laying down the path to get there. And it really starts with cloud architecture, common data standards, and command-and-control systems that you can wire together so that they can share information at the speed of relevance. So that whether it’s an F-35 [fighter jet] or an artillery battery, they communicate with each other to prosecute enemy targets.”
Battle of the AIs
The Army’s and the Air Force’s goals are roughly the same. The services want to be able to take data from any of the services’ sensors — whether that’s the radar of an E-3 early airborne warning aircraft or the video collected by an MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone — and detect a threat, fuse it with other information coming in from other platforms, use artificial intelligence to provide a list of options to commanders and ultimately send accurate target data to the weapon systems that will shoot it, all in a drastically shortened timeline.
Over the past year, the Air Force held three ABMS demonstrations, with the most recent taking place Sept. 15-25 alongside U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Exercise Valiant Shield. So far, the service has tested out technology that allows the F-35 and F-22 jets to send data to each other despite their use of different waveforms. It also test tech that connects an AC-130 gunship with SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, and used a high-velocity projectile shot from a howitzer to shoot down a surrogate cruise missile.
All of those demonstrations were enabled by 5G connectivity, cloud computing and competing battle management systems that fused together data and applied machine-learning algorithms.
Meanwhile, during the Army’s first Project Convergence exercise held in September, the service tested a prototype of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, fused data through a new system known as Prometheus and used artificial intelligence to recommend options for shooting a target.
A Marine Corps F-35 also participated in some tests, receiving targeting information that originated from a satellite, then passing on information from its own sensors to an Army AI system known as FIRES Synchronization to Optimize Responses in Multi-Domain Operations — or FIRESTORM.
Joint Army and Air Force experiments could begin as early as March 2021, said Portia Crowe, the chief data officer of the Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team at Army Futures Command. Crowe, who spoke during a Oct. 14 webinar hosted by C4ISRNET, did not elaborate on what would be tested.
Much of the early collaboration between the Army’s Project Convergence and the Air Force’s ABMS will likely involve plugging in new technologies from one service and seeing if they can successfully send data to the other’s nodes in the experiment, Hinote said.
But that won’t be “where the magic happens,” he noted. “The magic is going to happen in the flow of information, and then the development of that information into something that looks new” through the use of artificial intelligence.
Though Project Convergence and ABMS are still in their infancies, the Army and the Air Force have adopted different philosophies for incorporating machine learning into the “kill chain” — the sensors and weapon systems that detect, identify and prosecute a threat. While the Air Force is largely experimenting with solutions made by contractors like Anduril Industries and Palantir, the Army is mostly relying on government-owned platforms created by government software coders.
“One of the things that I see as being an incredibly interesting exercise — I don’t know if this will happen this year or next year, but I’m sure it will happen — is let’s compare what we were able to do in the government, using government civilians who are coders and who are programming these machine-learning algorithms to come up with the top three actions [to take in response to a given threat],” Hinote said. “And let’s compare that to what [private] companies are doing and their intellectual property. And then, if that gives us insight, then what is the business model that we want to propose?”
But as those technologies mature, Hinote said, the services must answer difficult doctrinal and technical questions: How much should the government be involved in shaping the responses given by the algorithm, and how does it balance that requirement with industry’s ability to move fast? When an AI gives a commander a list of military options, who owns that data?
And how can military operators know the underlying assumptions an AI system is making when it presents a threat to commanders and a set of options for countering it? If they don’t understand why an AI system is recommending a course of action, should commanders feel comfortable using lethal force?
“How do we know enough about the machine learning and algorithms so that their output is useful, but not a surprise to us? And if it is a surprise, how did it get to that surprise? Because if you don’t know that, you’re going to feel very weird about using it for lethal force,” Hinote said.
“Right now we’re kind of feeling our way down that path to see how much trust are we going to have in these algorithms, and developing trust is going to be something you’re going to see over and over and over in both Project Convergence and ABMS onramps.”
The Army and the Air Force aren’t the only military entities driving to make CJADC2 a reality. The Navy recently launched its own effort — Project Overmatch — and tapped Rear Adm. Douglas Small on Oct. 1 to lead it.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday has said it is the service’s second-most important priority, falling behind only the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine.
In totality, the U.S. military will have at least three separate CJADC2 initiatives, each fielding their own hardware and software.
There are good reasons for each service retaining their own programs, according to Hinote, as each domain presents unique challenges, and each service organizes itself differently to project power on land, at sea or in the air.
“The Army has been very concerned over scale. They see each of their soldiers as being a node inside the network, and therefore you could have millions of nodes. And they’re very concerned that if this was only Air Force-led, that the scale couldn’t be reached — we would not have the ability to plug in all of those soldiers and nodes in the network,” Hinote said, adding that it’s a valid concern.
He added that the Air Force also has its challenges — namely the difficulty of sending data over long distances, and having to connect aircraft and sensors that may be far away from a target.
But the result is three large, complicated acquisition programs that will need billions of dollars in funding — and potentially compete against each other for money. To further complicate the issue, the military’s existing funding mechanisms aren’t optimized for the fast-paced, iterative experimentation and procurement the services seek.
One way to overcome this might involve creating a Pentagon-wide fund for CJADC2, and then split it among the services, Hinote said. Another option might include designating one service as the executive agent, giving that force organizing authority and the power of the purse. But both come with drawbacks.
“[There are] different models out there, but none of them seem to really fit,” Hinote said. “And so we have been having talks with especially the appropriations defense [committees on] the Senate and House side on what would it look like for a modern military to buy a capability like this, and what would the taxpayers need for understanding that this is good stewardship. And that has not been decided.” (Source: Defense News)
20 Oct 20. UK and US reaffirm relationship at Atlantic Future Forum. Senior figures from government and industry in the UK and US will meet over the next two days on board HMS Queen Elizabeth for the annual Atlantic Future Forum.
Delegates will discuss a range of areas where the UK and US can increase cooperation, while exploring new ways of combatting global instability.
From defeating Covid-19 through vaccine and testing developments, to investing in our ability to tackle cyber threats, the senior figures from the two nations’ defence, security and trade establishments will discuss how to face down an uncertain future with confidence.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “At this time of global uncertainty and evolving adversaries, it is vital we continue to work together with the United States to strengthen our special alliance. The Atlantic Future Forum offers a space to discuss how our nations’ defence industries can provide a battle-winning edge, while developing our economies through trade and exports. As we come together on our outstanding HMS Queen Elizabeth, we are confident that Global Britain will continue to be the United States’ partner of choice.”
Opened by the Prime Minister via video link and chaired by former Cabinet Secretary, Lord Mark Sedwill, the Forum will include contributions from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Jeremy Fleming of GCHQ. First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sir Mike Wigston, will also be present.
Lord Sedwill, Chairman of the Atlantic Future Forum: “2020 has thrown up new obstacles for the world to tackle. This year’s Atlantic Future Forum looks at the UK’s role in securing our future in a disrupted world. By working with our global allies, we will meet the challenges of the future, from advancement in tech and cyber to the impacts of climate change. We will be bringing together some of our top political, business and military leaders, together with innovators, tech entrepreneurs and influential thinkers.”
The Forum comes as the UK Government continues to advance its ‘Ready to Trade’ agenda and grow the long-standing and cherished UK-US relationship, which offers fresh opportunity as the UK exits EU. Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade will convene a special session with her US counterpart, Robert Lighthizer, the US Trade Representative.
Business leaders will also join with CEOs Jes Staley of Barclays, Bernard Looney of BP and the President of Microsoft, Brad Smith, addressing the Forum.
The US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Woody Johnson, will also join British Ambassador to the US Dame Karen Pierce as part of the closing ceremony on Wednesday.
The detailed agenda will include expert panels and keynote speeches covering a broad range of shared UK and US issues; including our response to digital threats and cyber, hypersonics, space, global competition and climate change.
The Forum will examine how the UK and US can make innovation a key part of their relationship in order to increase resilience and productivity. Due to Covid-19, a set number of delegates attended the event on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. Media were invited to attend the programme events by video link. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
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