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30 Apr 21. Defense Secretary Says ‘Integrated Deterrence’ Is Cornerstone of U.S. Defense. Deterrence has always been the first line of defense. Preventing conflict, when possible, is greater than engaging, said the secretary of defense.
“The cornerstone of America’s defense is still deterrence, ensuring that our adversaries understand the folly of outright conflict,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in Hawaii Friday during a change of command ceremony for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
“Throughout American history, deterrence has meant fixing a basic truth within the minds of our potential foes: And that truth is that the costs and risks of aggression are out of line with any conceivable benefit,” Austin said.
But Austin said that, going forward, deterrence must be different from what it has been in the past, characterizing a new approach as “integrated deterrence.”
“To make that clear today, we’ll use existing capabilities, and build new ones, and use all of them in networked ways — hand in hand with our allies and partners,” he said. “Deterrence still rests on the same logic — but it now spans multiple realms, all of which must be mastered to ensure our security in the 21st century.”
Integrated deterrence, Austin said, includes having the best weapons systems and the latest technologies that make adversaries think twice. This includes development of tools that make use of artificial intelligence and quantum computing, for example.
Integrated deterrence also includes new concepts of operation, the elimination of stovepipes between services and their capabilities, and coordinated operations on land, in the air, on the sea, in space and in cyberspace.
“We can’t predict the future,” Austin said. “What we need is the right mix of technology, operational concepts and capabilities — all woven together and networked in a way that is so credible, flexible and so formidable that it will give any adversary pause. We need to create advantages for us and dilemmas for them.”
Most significantly, Austin said, integrated deterrence means working together in ways that were not done before.
“Integrated deterrence means all of us giving our all,” he said. “It means that working together is an imperative, and not an option. It means that capabilities must be shared across lines as a matter of course, and not as an exception to the rule. And it means that coordination across commands and services needs to be a reflex and not an afterthought.”
As a former soldier and one-time commander of operations in Iraq and U.S. Central Command, Austin said he understands the instinctive impulse to trust first those who wear the same uniform.
“I’ve been there,” he said. “I’m a former combatant commander and senior service leader. I get it. I know the temptations and the impulses, the desire to preserve what you believe is your equity. I indulged in that kind of thinking myself back in the day. But I also see what’s coming. And there’s some old habits that just don’t serve our core mission anymore.”
Now, he said, every service and agency — each of which brings its own unique capability for deterrence, first, and conflict, when needed — must be willing to draw on the capabilities of partners. Those partners include not just the U.S. military services, but federal agencies, partner nations and allies, as well.
“We have to redouble our efforts to work together — across commands, across services, and across stovepipes,” he said.
During Friday’s ceremony, Navy Adm. John Aquilino took the helm of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command from outgoing commander Navy Adm. Philip Davidson. (Source: US DoD)
30 Apr 21. DOD Release Regarding Cancellation of Border Barrier Project . Today, the Department of Defense released the following statement on the cancellation of all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for military missions and projects.
“Consistent with the President’s proclamation, the Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account,” said Jamal Brown, Deputy Pentagon Spokesman. “DOD has begun taking all necessary actions to cancel border barrier projects and to coordinate with interagency partners. Today’s action reflects this Administration’s continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families.”
With this cancellation, unobligated military construction funds that had been diverted from military construction projects will be used for previously deferred military construction projects, allowing some of these critical efforts to move forward as soon as possible. The Department is reviewing the deferred project list to determine funding prioritization.
The Department will continue to work with its interagency partners regarding any additional steps that should be taken at construction sites affected by project cancellation. (Source: US DoD)
30 Apr 21. Deputy Defense Secretary Says Conflict With China Is Not Inevitable. The challenge posed by China sets the pace for most U.S. defense requirements; but, despite concerns, diplomacy is important, and conflict with China is neither desirable nor inevitable, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks said today. In a virtual address to the Aspen Security Forum, Hicks talked about the Defense Department’s competition with China and what the department is doing to meet that challenge, especially regarding innovation and modernization.
“Beijing has the economic, military and technological capability to challenge the international system and America’s interests within it. This is happening all along the continuum of conflict — from routine statecraft, through the use of sharp power or gray-zone tactics, to the potential for sustained combat operations and an expanded and capable nuclear enterprise,” Hicks said.
As an example, Beijing continues to leverage its maritime militia to press its unlawful claims in the South China Sea, she said.
China’s military capabilities are rapidly advancing in a number of areas, she said. Beijing continues to make progress — strengthening its ability to conduct joint operations — and it fields increasingly sophisticated conventional systems, such as long-range precision missiles and integrated air defense systems.
China is also advancing its space and cyber capabilities, Hicks said, adding that China presents a prolific and effective cyber espionage threat and possesses substantial cyberattack capabilities.
Despite these growing concerns, Hicks said open channels of communications and diplomacy with China are important.
“We anticipate the U.S. military will often serve as a supporting player to diplomatic, economic and other tools,” she said.
Central to DOD’s value in deterring bad behavior from Beijing is demonstrating the role and capability to credibly deter China’s aggression, she said. “This will best position us to avoid a conflict.”
Hicks said allies and partners are important in deterring Chinese aggression.
Also, the department’s budget and research investments will focus on the threat and include nuclear modernization, cybersecurity, long-range fires, autonomy, artificial intelligence, shipbuilding and microelectronics, she said.
Incentivizing innovation, cutting red tape and working closely with the private sector and other government agencies are also important, she said. “This means being able to share best practices and key findings focused on the most important national security challenges.”
Cooperation with Congress is also critical to ensuring the department receives the support required to deter China’s aggression, she said.
“Let there be no doubt, China presents a real and enduring challenge,” she emphasized. (Source: US DoD)
30 Apr 21. India, Australia cleared to buy $4.3bn in US military gear. The Biden administration this week approved a trio of potential foreign military sales cases for Australia and India, items worth a potential $4.36bn for American companies.
On Thursday, Australia was cleared to purchase a package of Heavy Armored Combat Systems, with an estimated price tag of $1.685bn, and four CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopters, with an estimated price tag of $259m. On Friday, India was cleared to purchase six P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, worth an estimated $2.42bn.
FMS notification figures represent potential arms sales that the State Department internally cleared, then passed to Congress through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The notifications do not represent final sales; if Congress does not reject the potential sale, it then goes into negotiations, during which dollar figures and quantities of equipment can change.
The potential sales go to two key allies for the U.S. as it is increasingly focused on the Pacific. Both nations are part of the “Quad,” a group of like-minded partners that also includes the U.S. and Japan.
The Indian package would include the six P-8I aircraft, as well as radio systems, engines, navigational systems, and contractor support. Boeing is the primary contractor, with work performed at its Seattle facility. The proposed sale “will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” according to the DSCA notification.
India procured eight P-8I aircraft in Jan. 2009 via a direct commercial sale, and went under contract for another four in July 2016. The Indian Navy has operated the planes since 2013.
The Australian Heavy Armored Combat Systems package involves taking 160 M1A1 Tank structures and hulls provided from U.S. stock, and then using those to produce a variety of vehicles and equipment, including: 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams Main Battle Tanks; 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles; 18 M1074 Joint Assault Bridges; six M88A2 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles; and 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines.
Interestingly, the agency announcement notes that included is “development of a unique armor package,” without details on what that might look like. Work will be spread amongst General Dynamics Land Systems, BAE Systems, Leonardo DRS and Honeywell Aerospace; Australia typically requires commercial offsets in FMS cases.
“The M1A2 SEPv3 Main Battle Tanks will upgrade the current Australian fleet of M1A1 SA tanks with no changes to Royal Australian Armoured Corps force structure,” the agency announcement read. “Additional M88A2 vehicles provide de-processing and combat vehicle recovery support for the Australian tank fleet. The M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles (ABVs) and M1074 Joint Assault Bridges (JABs) will be a new capability for the Royal Australian Engineers, bringing under-armor bridging and breaching capability, increasing the effectiveness and survivability of Australian Combat Engineers and providing increased mobility for the armored fleet.”
The Chinook deal covers the four helicopters, along with “customer-unique modifications.” It also involved eight T55-GA-714A aircraft turbine engines, as well as associated mission systems and equipment. Aircraft will be provided from U.S. Army stock.
After an initial pause to review FMS cases approved by the Trump administration, the Biden state department has now approved 15 potential weapon sales, with a combined $8.9trn potential price tag. (Source: Defense News)
30 Apr 21. Software, Missiles, Testing At Top For Budget, Says DepSecDef Hicks. “The budget provides the resources to phase out systems and approaches optimized for an earlier era,” Kathleen Hicks said, while pumping cash into research and development of new capabilities.
The Pentagon’s second-highest ranking civilian today offered a new, sharper focus on funding software and munitions programs over more traditional large platforms in the upcoming 2022 budget request, marking the start of what could be a significant shift in how Washington views and manages military modernization.
“Platforms will always matter, but it’s the software…it’s the munitions, it’s those pieces that make such a critical difference in our capability,” Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said at the Aspen Security Forum, adding, “that’s a different funding picture” from what has traditionally been the case.
While the 2023 budget next year will be the first the Biden team will build on its own, Hicks said the ‘22 submission “will provide early insight into our strategic approach,” indicating that there will be some real movement on prioritizing the new administration’s vision.
The new budget will make a larger push to fund research, development test and evaluation programs for new and emerging tech, to “underpin the development of next-generation defense capabilities where the nation’s security needs are no longer being met,” she said.
The Biden administration’s highly anticipated first budget submission, expected some time in late May, will remain flat with the 2021 budget when accounting for inflation, something that has drawn fierce criticism from Republicans in Congress.
Hicks suggested that there will be plenty of movement inside those relatively static numbers, leading to shifts in where the department spends money, and how it is spent.
Both Hicks and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have made the point repeatedly since January that these new investments would be funded in part by getting rid of aging equipment that continues to saddle the military with massive sustainment costs.
The Marine Corps has jettisoned its Abrams tanks, and the Navy may retire many of its oldest cruisers instead of investing in costly upgrades, among other initiatives brewing in the halls of the Pentagon.
Hicks suggested this trend will speed up in the new budget.
“The budget provides the resources to phase out systems and approaches optimized for an earlier era,” she said, while pumping cash into research and development of new capabilities.
The budget will also address a list of hot-button issues most favored by defense hawks in Congress, including to “set a sustainable shipbuilding plan to ensure our maritime capability outmatches any competitor,” Hicks said. “The requests will modernize our nuclear deterrent and invest in long-range fires capabilities, and it will leverage the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, and ensure that the United States builds the concepts, capabilities, and posture necessary to meet challenges posed by China.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
29 Apr 21. Lawmakers draft $25bn investment in US shipyards. A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has drafted a bill that would see $25bn invested into shipyards across the country.
The Supplying Help to Infrastructure in Ports, Yards, and America’s Repair Docks (SHIPYARD) Act would provide $21bn for the recapitalisation of US Navy’s four public shipyards in Virginia, Maine, Hawaii, and Washington and a further $4bn for private construction and repair shipyards.
The bill has been signed onto by Senators Tim Kaine (Virginia), Susan Collins (Maine), Angus King (Maine), and Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire); Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker is heading up the legislative effort.
The draft legislation came as US President Joe Biden unveiled a massive multi-trillion dollar infrastructure package.
The bill is designed to address a ‘backlog’ of ‘modernisation, maintenance, and expansion’ identified by the US Navy and provide the US Navy ‘flexibility to support capital improvement projects’ and other improvements seen as key to growing the US’s fleet.
Projects identified for funding would include infrastructure improvements and the building of new drydocks, fully financing the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP).
Wicker said: “As lawmakers consider ways to improve our nation’s infrastructure, the facilities that support our navy fleet should be a part of the conversation.
“Congress has already taken the important step of committing to a larger navy, but our shipyards are having trouble servicing today’s 296-ship fleet and are clearly insufficient to maintain the 355-ship or larger fleet we need to counter China, Russia, and other adversaries. Now is the time to provide our navy leaders the support they need to grow and preserve our fleet for generations to come.”
The bill’s text says that while the US public shipyards have neem ‘incrementally’ updated, they need a ‘generational investment’ to ensure they can continue to sustain the US Navy fleet into the future.
Kaine said: “Virginia’s public and private shipyards are crucial to strengthening our national security.
“This legislation would ensure that our sailors, shipbuilders, and ship repairers have the most up-to-date tools, equipment, and facilities to ensure our navy remains ready to protect our nation.”
Two members of Congress, Representatives Rob Wittman and Mike Gallagher, are also supporting the bill. The bill’s sponsors cited the massive growth of China’s Navy, saying that improving US facilities would help the country compete with China.
Collins said: “The importance of our naval assets to our national security and global stability has never been greater, which is why it is so critical that our defence industrial base has the capacity to build and maintain a larger fleet.”
The Maine Senator added that if the US is ‘serious’ about competition with China, it must ‘consider’ defence infrastructure. Collins cited the navy’s identification of a ‘critical lack’ of dry docks at the US’ four public shipyards.
A White Paper released alongside the legislation lists several problems facing commercial and private shipyards, including ageing infrastructure, dry dock limitations, excessive maintenance delays, a maintenance backlog and that current infrastructure cannot keep pace with China’s shipbuilding efforts.
“Our bipartisan legislation would support infrastructure improvements at shipyards across the country to help reduce maintenance backlogs, increase safety and efficiency, and accommodate growth to counter China’s growing naval ambitions,” Collins added.
On maintenance delays, the white paper reads: “Delays caused by lack of public and private repair capability are crippling our naval readiness at a time when we can least afford it.”
As examples of this, the paper cited the 22-months it took to repair the USS Fitzgerald after a collision in 2017 and the four years Los Angeles-class Attack Submarine USS Boise sat at pier side waiting for repairs due to a lack of capacity.
King said: “As the Navy seeks to grow its fleet to address an array of challenges across the globe, and the associated maintenance requirements continue to expand, it is absolutely essential that we provide these shipyards with the modern tools and technologies they need to meet growing demand.
“This bipartisan legislation will make much-needed investments in a critical part of our national security infrastructure – including adaptations to prepare for the potential impacts of climate change – ensuring that these storied yards will be able to continue to fulfil their important duties for decades to come.”
The bill does not provide extra funds to be made available to the United States Coast Guard Yard in Maryland.
Representative Whitman said: “The United States Navy depends on four American public shipyards, including Norfolk Naval Shipyard right here in Virginia, to maintain and modernise our nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers,
“But our shipyards’ ageing infrastructure fails to provide the capacity, configurations, or equipment necessary to maintain fleet readiness. These factors have not only resulted in a maintenance backlog amongst our current ships but have left us ill-prepared to grow our navy to keep pace with China.”
Whitman added that the US could ‘build all the ships we want’ but without improvements to maintenance backlogs, the ships wouldn’t do ‘much good’.
“The SHIPYARD Act solves these problems by injecting desperately needed funding into the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) and making critical infrastructure investments to modernise American shipyards. Moreover, this bill marks one of our most substantial SIOP investments to date, highlighting the programme’s ever-growing importance,” he added. (Source: naval-technology.com)
29 Apr 21. Defense Official Says Partnerships Vital to Holding Russia Accountable in Eurasia. Russian influence and meddling in nations around the Mediterranean and the Middle East have been characterized as destabilizing and opportunistic and pose concerns for regional security and stability, according to a Defense Department official.
Laura K. Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, said that as Russian influence and military capability in the region grow, allies and partners — particularly NATO — become incredibly important in holding Russia accountable.
“We are determined to impose costs for Russia’s destabilizing behavior,” Cooper told an Atlantic Council panel.
“The way that the U.S. is approaching security cooperation is through developing very long-term strategic partnerships that involve training and education and operations that we work on together. This approach is quite fundamental to all of the allies and partners of the region,” she said.
Cooper noted that the U.S. is not seeking to escalate tensions. “And we are seeking to have a more stable relationship with Russia, so this inevitably involves dialogue.”
Cooper said it’s important to watch Russia’s actions, rather than just to listen to its words. Noting that Russia has agreed to remove its forces from Libya, she said the U.S. is waiting to see what happens. “We will be watching closely to see if that actually occurs,” she said.
“From a policy perspective, we have to be measured and realistic about the actual impact of those transactional relationships,” she said.
Russia has appeared from time-to-time to play the role of peacemaker in the region, but that isn’t really fooling anyone, she said. “I think countries of the region recognize how much this is to burnish Russia’s image, and how, in many cases, prolonging instability and prolonging conflict actually suits Moscow’s goals,” Cooper said.
“So, I think we have to give some credit to our allies and partners and their ability to be clear-eyed about this,” she continued.
For example, Cooper noted that there is an inherent tension between Russia’s desire to support a relationship with Iran and at the same time to cozy up to Arab countries and Israel. “This inherent tension is not lost on any of the parties in the region. And so I think that’s really important at the outset. We don’t want to overhype the influence or overhype the threat. That’s where we’re really clear in our conversations with allies and partners about situations in which Russia’s military-to-military cooperation, in particular, does impact our relationship,” she said.
For example, the sale of a Russian S-400 air defense system to Turkey resulted in a clear and decisive action on the part of the United States in removing Turkey from the F-35 advanced aircraft program, she said.
That being said, Turkey remains an important NATO ally and removal of the F-35 program was an example of a measured, balanced and tailored approach, she said.
Cooper said that the strong U.S. military presence in the Mediterranean region will continue as it has for many decades. “That is something that, perhaps, we take for granted, but it’s an important source of our ability to protect our national security interests and also to cooperate as part of the NATO alliance.”
The other piece is U.S. investments in humanitarian assistance in the region, which completely dwarfs anything that Russia is doing in that space, she said.
For example, in Syria, the U.S. has been working with the United Nations to invest in reconstruction and humanitarian assistance, while Russian actions in this regard have been to line the pockets of cronies in the Kremlin, she said. (Source: US DoD)
29 Apr 21. China Features Heavily in the Army’s Next Big Emerging Tech Experiment. The Army’s connect-everything experiment is about to get much bigger, and looks across the Pacific.
The Army will expand its emerging technology experiment this fall, bringing in more operators, more stealth aircraft, Navy standard missiles and new AI tools, and will focus heavily on defeating a high-tech adversary with a striking resemblance to China.
The Army will hold its second Project Convergence experiment at Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona, and simultaneously at several other locations, from October 12 to November 9, Col. Tobin Magsig, the head of the Army’s Joint Modernization Command, told Defense One. First established last year, Project Convergence has become the Army’s largest technology combat experiment to test out new artificial intelligence, autonomy and software tools even rapid software development under battlefield conditions.
It’s also emerged as the most important U.S. military experiment to test out new concepts for interconnecting planes, drones, ships and operators across the battlefield and across the services, a broad effort called Joint-All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2. Unlike other experiments or military wargames that test current readiness levels, Project Convergence is aimed at rapidly accelerating the Army’s ability to find and take out targets by connecting people, vehicles and weapons through a massive, interconnected sensing and shooting kill web.
Last year’s experiment showed that better data interconnection could significantly speed up the pace of operations, bringing down the time it takes to detect, identify and fire on targets from 15 minutes to less than one. The key to that is quickly sharing lots of intelligence and targeting data across many different weapons, vehicles, operators, etc. But experimental artificial intelligence, such as the Army’s FIRESTORM program, also played a major role in fusing that data and suggesting which weapon or unit was the optimal choice to take out the target.
This year’s experiment will look at those same concepts, but at “distances intentionally built to replicate distances in the INDOPACOM [Area of responsibility.]” said Magsig. Read that to mean across the vast stretches of ocean between Guam, various island chains and China. The experiment will also examine how well different platforms and operators are able to pass information back and forth while a technically advanced adversary attempts to block, intercept and confuse signals.
Magsig didn’t mention China by name, but did say that experiment would further test the military’s ability to breach high-tech anti-access area denial defenses, such as long-range missiles and effective electro-magnetic interference, which China possess to a greater degree than any other potential adversary in the INDOPACOM area. Magsig called anti-access area denial capabilities the military’s greatest challenge in the Pacific.
Project Convergence 2021 will put a bigger emphasis on actual operators using the technology as opposed to scientists.
“It’s … about how does this fundamentally change the way we will fight in the future? And that’s where the operations unit really comes in. I can sit back and imagine it, but to actually put technology in the hands of soldiers in the dirt and ask them to think about how this will enable them to fight in the future, that’s an outcome we will get in 21,” Gen. John Murray, the head of Army Futures Command, said during a Center for New American Security event this week.
The Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, as well as the newly established Multi-domain Task Forces, will play a role. “We’ll have some naval forces off the coast of California in the Pacific,” as well, Magsig said. The Navy will also be participating out of its facility at White Sands, New Mexico, where it will fire off a standard missile 6 as part of the experiment. The Marines will fly stealth F-35 aircraft, and Magsig said he expected the Air Force to do so as well.
The Shadow Air Operations Center at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada will participate, which Magsig said will help to inform how the Air Force develops air operations centers for future conflict, Magsig said.
In general, he said, this year’s experiment is exponentially larger than last year’s. He described last year’s event as “section level,” with fewer than ten active targets and active units at a time. “This year we will scale it up … to company … [around 200] in terms of the level of targets and also level of autonomous, robotic and semi-autonomous vehicles with humans in the loop that we are asking FIRESTORM to direct and control the fires across a company-sized formation.”
The Army will also be testing how well it can use FIRESTORM “in terms of its ability to interact and in some cases provide decisions for joint fires and controlling joint air space.” He called a “stretch goal.”
Perhaps most importantly, the experimentation will inform the military on how to integrate competing artificial intelligence programs and tools across services and departments under battle conditions.
“The Army is not the only service delving into artificial intelligence and decision-making algorithms. In some cases we may find that the answer is not one algorithm fits all … We may find that the best method forward is to federate and integrate each services’ algorithms so that they interoperate together. So part of what we’re experimenting on in the desert here is it will show us the left and right limits of each of these algorithms and which ones are sort of optimal in different conditions and different situations,” Magsig said. (Source: Defense One)
28 Apr 21. DOD On Path to Getting to a ‘Clean’ Audit, Official Says. Senior Defense Department financial leaders updated the House Armed Services Committee today on the department’s Financial Improvement and Audit Remediation plan, the fiscal year 2020 audit and other DOD financial management related issues.
Douglas A. Glenn, DOD chief financial officer, said he’s keenly aware that the department must be “good stewards of taxpayer dollars and [is] working to increase transparency in how we manage the resources entrusted to us.”
This year marks the third department-wide audit.
The department continues to make steady progress toward getting to a clean audit, he said, meaning zero discrepancies.
Glenn told lawmakers that he cannot give a firm date when the department will get to a clean audit, but he said that a reasonable guess would be around 2028.
In last year’s audit, there were around 3,400 notices of findings and recommendations. As of this month, the department has successfully closed on 23% of those, meaning remedial actions have been taken to address those discrepancies, he said.
“At the risk of sounding dramatic, the audit is driving improved national security. We already know DOD systems are primary targets for cyberattacks, from both foreign and domestic [sources],” he said.
As a result of the audit, DOD now annually tests its cybersecurity processes and procedures, controlling who can access its systems, what level of access they can have, what procedures they can perform and who can access decoding configuration capabilities, he said.
Overall, the audit provides a high return on investment to taxpayers and dramatically increases transparency and accountability as data is made more accurate, reliable and timely, he said.
To improve its audit performance, the department is working with other federal agencies and oversight bodies, such as the Treasury Department, the Government Accountability Office, the Office of Management and Budget, as well as the larger financial community such as the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board and the American Society of Military Comptrollers, he said.
Others testifying were: Wesley C. Miller, performing the duties of the assistant secretary of the Army for financial management and comptroller; Alaleh Jenkins, performing the duties of the assistant secretary of the Navy for financial management and comptroller; and Stephen R. Herrera, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and comptroller. (Source: US DoD)
27 Apr 21. DoD Estimates New Missile Defense Program To Cost $17.7bn. NGI kicked off in 2019 after the cancellation of an earlier $5.8bn plan to replace the existing Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle, which defends the US mainland against long-range ballistic missile attacks.
The Pentagon has a fresh estimate for how much its new ballistic missile defense program will cost over the next decade-plus, now that the department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office has wrapped up its review of the effort.
The Next Generation Interceptor, designed to shoot down missiles launched at the United States from North Korea and Iran, should run about $17.7 bn to develop, field, and maintain 21 interceptors in the coming years, CAPE said today. The program was approved by the DoD in March when it awarded developmental contracts to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
The $17.7 bn price tag includes $13.1 bn to develop 10 warheads for testing, with 21 more to be fielded in silos in California and Alaska by the end of the decade. That fielding will cost another $2.3 bn, with $2.2 bn more to operate and sustain the missiles once deployed, according to details provided by the Pentagon.
“These are big numbers, but they have to be put in context,” said Tom Karako, director of the Center for Strategic and International Security’s Missile Defense Project. The estimate includes not only research and development, he said. but “procurement, operations, and sustainment after they are fielded. It’s also not just about contractor cost, but also management of the GMD weapon system supporting the homeland missile defense enterprise. And all this spread over a decade or so.”
Karako added that the numbers represent a realistic look at the overall cost of the program. They “reflect a more rigorous acquisition approach, commitment to competition, and to ‘fly before you buy,’” said.” The Department is not rushing here.”
The NGI effort kicked off in 2019 in the wake of the cancellation of a $5.8 bn effort to replace the existing Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle, a ground-based interceptor designed to defend the US mainland against long-range ballistic missile attacks.
The Missile Defense Agency has estimated that testing of the NGI could happen by the mid-2020s, and if all goes well they could begin to be put into silos by 2028.
In March, the Pentagon awarded contracts to teams led by Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin to develop the NGI to replace the aging interceptors in California and Alaska. The awards, worth about $1.6 bn, will fund technology development for the program. Boeing was the third competitor for one of the developmental contracts, but was not selected. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
27 Apr 21. Regional Solutions Needed to Address Middle East Security, General Says. U.S. Central Command is the only geographic combatant command that routinely engages with U.S. adversaries, including violent extremist groups that aim to destabilize the region, its commander said today.
Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. said the two most urgent threats in the coming years will most likely be the proliferation of cheap and capable unmanned aerial vehicles used by extremist groups, as well as humanitarian crises in the Middle East caused by poor governance, which could serve to radicalize youths.
The U.S. military cannot solve these problems alone, he told a virtual gathering of the American Enterprise Institute in a broad-ranging discussion of topics concerning the Middle East. It will require a regional solution, as well as working with allies and partners such as NATO.
Security and prosperity are incredibly important in the region, he said. Among the many reasons: About 15% of the world’s oil and natural gas originates there, and the Suez Canal is a major world waterway to global commerce.
“It’s no surprise at all that we’re seeing accelerated efforts by China and Russia to establish bases and expand ties in the region,” he said.
“Russia is in the region because it perceives opportunities, while gaining warm-water ports that allow it to contest freedom of navigation in the Middle East,” he said. “China is playing a longer game that involves economic deals that are very enticing and appealing, but carry substantial costs down the road. Ultimately, China hopes to supplant the United States as the partner of choice in the region and is making inroads wherever it sees opportunities — whether through the sale of military equipment, the provision of COVID vaccines or offers of debt traps in development contracts.”
McKenzie said U.S. Centcom is working closely with U.S. Forces Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission to ensure the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan in a deliberate and synchronized manner that protects personnel and equipment.
The department is working through how it will continue to manage counterterrorism security assistance to the Afghan government as forces draw down, he added.
The department is also steadfastly supporting ongoing diplomatic efforts to end the long war and get a commitment from the Taliban to cease its relationship with al-Qaida and prevent Afghanistan from being used by terrorist groups as a base to plan attacks on the U.S. homeland, he said.
The department is also drawing up contingency plans to conduct over-the-horizon counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan if that should become necessary, he said. (Source: US DoD)
26 Apr 21. Two US Democrats vow to oppose additional F-35 requests to those in budget. US Representatives Donald Norcross and John Garamendi, both Democrats, vowed on 22 April to oppose authorising additional Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) to those requested in the Pentagon’s fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget proposal.
The Democrats control both the House of Representatives and Senate.
Norcross of New Jersey, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC’s) tactical air and land forces subcommittee, said during a House hearing that providing 97 additional F-35s, more than was requested since FY 2015, has created a sustainment issue for parts. Although the subcommittee has been supportive of the F-35 programme in the past, Norcross said financial resources are limited, and he would not support any request for additional aircraft given affordability concerns with the programme.
Garamendi of California, the HASC readiness subcommittee chairman, said neither to expect more F-35s, nor more funding for the F-35 programme.
“It seems that the … industry solution to many of these problems is to simply ask the taxpayers to throw money at the problem,” Garamendi said. “That will not happen.”
Mackenzie Eaglen, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank in Washington, DC, told Janes on 22 April that she would not be surprised to see other Democrats, both on the HASC and off, to take a cue from HASC chairman Adam Smith of Washington, who has been critical of the F-35 programme. This would be drawing a line as leverage with prime contractor Lockheed Martin, she added. (Source: Jane’s)
27 Apr 21. The force is still too small, Army chief says, and Afghanistan withdrawal won’t really help. Ending the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan won’t be of much use to Army planners sweating the size of the force, as fiscal constraints loom large over the service in the coming years.
The Army’s end-strength growth, once expected to top 500,000 active-duty soldiers, has slowed to a crawl in recent years and currently sits at roughly 485,000 troops.
“This is the same size Army that we had on 9/11, and when I take a look at what the requirements are, when I take a look at what historically we needed, and now that we’re in a time of great power competition, I’m very, very concerned about the size of the Army,” Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville said during a Tuesday discussion at the Center for a New American Security.
Much of the strain on the Army’s size comes from the combatant commands, where soldiers make up the bulk of military personnel deployed across the world. But the impending withdrawal from Afghanistan, in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, won’t make much of a difference.
“The number of troops in Afghanistan is really not a significant amount,” McConville said when asked how the withdrawal would factor into end-strength woes.
Growing the Army also doesn’t appear to be happening in the current fiscal environment, unless the service cuts into readiness and modernization funding.
“The [Army] secretary and I both agree that we can’t do the things, as far as readiness and when it comes to modernization, if we were to grow the Army to the level that we think would reduce the stress of deployments for our troops,” McConville said. “What we’re trying to do is produce the best Army we can with the resources that we’re going to get.”
President Joe Biden’s fiscal 2022 budget request asks for $715bn for the Defense Department. The Army’s top line has not yet been revealed, but defense officials have said they’re bracing for a possible budget cut.
Even flat budgets have required Army leaders to fund their key modernization initiatives, like long-range fires, by culling lower priority programs and shifting around billions of dollars.
The Army has carried that process out for the past few years, but leaders have run out of fat to trim, according to acting Secretary of the Army John Whitley.
“We’ve rebuilt readiness. We’re in a good state with readiness, but that is fragile, and it could be reversed,” said Whitley. “We’re in a good place moving out on modernization, but that requires consistent, sustained funding to see through and deliver products to our soldiers.”
If the budget declines, Whitley noted, the current operations tempo would have to give.
“There’s a tremendous amount of risk in the Army’s budget today,” Whitley added. “The simple fact is, we took risk in the budget to get to where we are today, so there’s not a lot of excess that can be used.”
The Army accounts for about 25 percent of the Defense Department’s budget and about 35 percent of the active-duty end strength of the department.
“But we’re over 50 percent of the current operating tempo of the Department of Defense,” Whitley said. “We’re two-thirds of the readiness demands and the readiness priorities for warfighting of the Department of Defense.”
“The Army cannot sustain that level of commitment and operating tempo and readiness for such a wide range of things in a declining budget environment — and that’s the simple math,” Whitley said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Army Times)
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