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20 Aug 21. Official Says DOD Is Shifting to a Strategic Readiness Posture.
Strategic readiness is vital to mission success and should be woven into everything the Defense Department does, said the assistant secretary of defense for readiness.
Shawn Skelly told the Professional Services Council’s Defense Services Conference earlier this week that the traditional operational readiness model — which she said means being ready to fight tonight — needs to be broadened to include a strategic readiness model.
“While operational readiness is a key component of strategic readiness, viewing readiness through a ‘fight tonight’ lens does not provide the comprehensive view of readiness that the department needs to maintain a strategic advantage,” she said.
To refocus the Department on strategic readiness, Skelly said:
- Model-informed predictive analytics assessments of strategic readiness must be incorporated into the department’s existing strategy, planning and resourcing processes.
- Decision makers must have access to objective analysis that captures the full range of the risks and tradeoffs of their choices to current readiness, future readiness, and modernization.
- Professional military education, leadership development, and training must be paired with talent management so service members are strategically-minded, technologically-savvy, joint warfighters who think critically and can creatively apply military power based on national objectives, such as understanding China as a strategic competitor.
- The health and safety of the workforce is vital. Data-driven, predictive approaches are necessary to address mishaps and workplace injuries and their causes to prevent future occurrences and readiness degradation they cause.
“Without a renewed focus on strategic readiness, the department risks being unprepared to fulfill national military objectives, Skelly said, adding that many of these goals will not be achieved overnight and doing so will require an all-hands-on-deck effort.
(Source: US DoD)
19 Aug 21. New US Air Force secretary to shake up Advanced Battle Management Program. The new U.S. Air Force secretary says he’s skeptical about current plans to build the service’s Advanced Battle Management System, signaling the program could be heading for an overhaul.
“I want to focus it more on specific operational return on investment,” Frank Kendall told Defense News in a Aug. 13 interview. “Where do we get the most improvement in performance operationally in the battlefield, for investments in that type of technology?”
“I don’t think we’ve thought thoroughly enough about where that type of technology can have the most impact and how to get there as quickly as we can,” he said. “I want to emphasize fielded, meaningful military capability, not just a demonstration that you show what cool thing you could do, but real capability in the hands of operators.”
The goal of the ABMS program is to create an “internet of things” for the military that would provide the technical infrastructure to connect all platforms and sensors, allowing information to flow freely among them. The service is also interested in integrating artificial intelligence technologies that could parse information and aid in decision making.
But in Kendall’s view, the program has yet to answer important questions about what information will be transmitted and why, what results it is aiming to achieve and how those results will be an improvement on current command-and-control capabilities.
Kendall said he’s directed the ABMS program to do that analysis.
“I want to get to a design of the capability that will make a measurable difference in operational results, improve exchange ratios … and increase the number of targets that the Air Force gets serviced in a certain period of time,” he said. “Pick your metric, but I want to be able to show an actual operational return on the investment.”
Kendall’s comments underscore those made by other top Air Force officials, including Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Allvin, who told reporters in June the service needed to shift ABMS away from focusing on open-ended technology demonstrations and toward buying products that are ready to field.
“We understood that, when Congress looked at [the budget], that it was wasn’t clear enough. That perhaps we hadn’t laid out a clear enough path to justify the funds that we were requesting,” Allvin told reporters during a June 24 roundtable. “We had to look ourselves in the mirror and say, we need to better align ourselves to be able to articulate more clearly what we want to do.”
Two ABMS technology demonstrations were scheduled for 2021 after Congress slashed funding for the program. The first demo occurred in February, while the second wrapped up in July.
While ABMS technology demonstrations will move forward as planned in the short-term, Kendall said he would like future demos to revolve around giving defense companies an operational problem to solve and then trying out their proposed solutions.
“Here’s the operation we want to conduct, and here are the assets we have to have. You bring us the information system, if you will, that’s going to make us much more successful with this,” he said. “Tell me what that looks like, and how you would achieve it. What specific things would you do? We’ll do this competitively, of course.” (Source: Defense News)
19 Aug 21. Army Special Forces want to integrate more with other military units on info warfare. U.S. Army Special Forces have worked to develop top tier information warfare capabilities and want to mix their skills more often with conventional military units.
For example, a Special Operations Joint Task Force participated in July in the Army Defender Pacific exercise — a division-sized war game for joint multidomain operations in support of Indo-Pacific Command — to test its ability to win against a peer adversary, Col. Joshe Raetz, chief of staff 1st Special Forces Command, said in an Aug. 17 talk at TechNet Augusta.
“We integrated with I Corps as the joint force line component command and the Multidomain Task Force to converge capabilities to impose costs and introduce multiple dilemmas for our adversaries,” he said. “In this scenario, it was a war that we hope not to fight and through our approach to information warfare, we deterred our adversaries and not only survived, but thrived in competition short of armed conflict. Information warfare played a vital role in shaping the environment, deterring this adversary and preserving freedom of maneuver in both the operational and information environments. This vital contribution allowed the joint force and Army to seize the initiative and dominate the information environment.”
Army Special Forces are deployed to over 70 countries daily and engaging hostile actors while still being able to effectively message portions of a population, meaning they have been at the tip of the spear when it comes to developing and maturing information warfare capabilities.
The conventional forces are learning the importance of harnessing these capabilities as adversaries are using a variety of techniques to posture forces and undermine the U.S. and its forces. The Army, as a result, is pursuing an emerging idea called information advantage, which seeks harness information-related capabilities to enable commanders to maintain decision advantage over enemies.
Raetz told C4ISRNET following his remarks that Special Forces are looking to partner more frequently with conventional forces, noting that experimenting with regionally aligned Army forces was one success of the exercise.
“I think what we learned was to partner early and planning with the Army forces and other joint forces, and that may catch an adversary off guard. In this case, that’s what happened,” he said.
Additional lessons learned included the importance of low-equity electronic warfare and cyber-capable tools to degrade the adversary’s capabilities aimed at keeping U.S. forces outside its primarily sphere of influence.
In fact, special operations forces have experimented with and used tactical cyber and electronic warfare tools for some time, something the conventional forces are now beginning to develop.
“Our role as the SOF task force integrating information, electronic warfare, intelligence and other special operations activities is the key to achieving the information advantage,” he said. “The critical piece here is the importance of moving data and information at speed, scale while protecting the integrity of our command and control structures.”
Raetz also mentioned the role that the newly established Information Warfare Center at Fort Bragg is playing in special forces’ ability to contest adversaries below the threshold of armed conflict.
Psychological operations forces have been organized to form the core of the Information Warfare Center, focusing on top nation-state threats and collecting personal information of particular actors using open source tools and data aggregators to synthesize trends and identify narratives and key communications.
“We leverage our unique cultural and language expertise, develop content and engage target audiences online daily,” he said. “Our unique capability to impact the cognitive dimension where beliefs, attitudes and behaviors are impacted is integrated with our special warfare capabilities to see, sense and react to events in the information environment.”
“The Information Warfare Center offers a significant advantage of providing forward deployed forces with situational awareness above the tactical level and informed by intelligence capability with a message that we can craft rightly with the content and if necessary, deliver to target audiences nearly anywhere in the world.”
During the Defender Pacific exercise, Raetz said operators learned about the optimal integration of the Information Warfare Center and sensitive activities to present multiple dilemmas to adversaries and enable decision dominance.
In addition, Raetz said Army Special Forces are working with U.S. Cyber Command to deter malign actors in cyberspace.
“Controlling the information environment is so crucial to winning in both competition and high-intensity conflict,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
19 Aug 21. Joe Biden: UK and allies had choice to remain in Afghanistan. US president hits back at criticism as parents pass their children to soldiers at Kabul airport amid worsening chaos. Joe Biden has hit back at the UK and Nato allies, claiming they “had a choice” to stay in Afghanistan and could have done so despite the United States pulling out. The US president has faced a torrent of criticism from ministers and MPs over the botched withdrawal, which has left US and British officials scrambling to get their citizens out of the country after the Taliban seized power.
His suggestion appeared to contradict the British position that it could not carry on the mission without America. Boris Johnson told Parliament on Wednesday that the West could not continue in Afghanistan without US support and air power.
But on Thursday Mr Biden said it had been a joint decision to leave, and that Britain and other Nato nations had had the option of staying.
The president said: “Look, before I made this decision I met with all our allies, our Nato allies in Europe. They agreed. We should be getting out.” Asked whether those allies had a choice, he said: “Sure, they had a choice. Look, the one thing I promise you – in private Nato allies are not quiet.”
Mr Johnson and Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, have pointed the finger at Washington to explain why UK troops did not remain in Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister, speaking in the Commons on Wednesday, said: “The West could not continue this US-led mission – a mission conceived and executed in support and defence of America – without American logistics, without US air power and without American might.”
Challenged on whether Nato could have continued to provide support, he said: “I really think that it is an illusion to believe that there is appetite among any of our partners for a continued military presence.”
Mr Biden’s comments came in an interview with Good Morning America, in a section about US relations with its allies which was not ultimately broadcast.
Asked what he thought when he saw fleeing Afghans crowding on to a US plane at Kabul’s airport, and people falling to their deaths, he snapped: “That was four days ago, five days ago!” He also said “no one’s being killed right now”, despite reports that 12 people have died in and around the airport.
On Thursday, there were growing fears over the situation at the airport as British military sources said they feared the Taliban were about to withdraw co-operation.
A British soldier helping in the Afghan capital told The Telegraph: “They want us out.” He described it as “surreal” that UK and US troops were working alongside Taliban fighters in the evacuation of British and American citizens and some Afghans.
The soldier said that, for the most part, people who qualify to leave in UK and US schemes were being let through to the airport by the Taliban, but warned: “I suspect that will change.”
The UK hopes to get around 2,000 people out of Kabul in the next 48 hours, but there were questions about whether that ambitious target would be met.
Only 1,200 people had been flown by military planes out of Afghanistan by Wednesday morning, some six days after have flown over Kabul as the Pentagon ramped up its evacuation operation from the airport. A Pentagon spokesman said any attack on Americans “would be met with a forceful response”. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
20 Aug 21. Harris faces task of convincing Asia of U.S. reliability after Afghan chaos. Vice President Kamala Harris, in a visit to Singapore and Vietnam next week that aims to counter China’s growing influence, will have to contend with a new problem: the collapse of Afghanistan, which has left allies questioning the credibility of U.S. foreign policy promises.
U.S. allies have complained they were not fully consulted on President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan by Aug. 31, which appeared at odds with his promises to recommit to global engagement. read more
With the Taliban’s rapid takeover putting their national security interests at risk, countries in both Europe and Asia are wondering whether they can rely on Washington to fulfill long-standing security commitments, experts say.
Harris’ trip aims to establish deeper ties with Southeast Asia, a region Washington considers key to checking Chinese expansion. A senior White House official told Reuters this month the vice president’s focus would be on defending international rules in the South China Sea, strengthening U.S. regional leadership and expanding security cooperation.
Regional experts like Murray Hiebert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies said Harris would have to try to reassure her hosts that Washington’s commitment to Southeast Asia is firm and not a parallel to Afghanistan.
“The debacle in Afghanistan will prompt concerns again about U.S. staying power and keeping promises to allies,” he said.
The chaotic evacuations from Kabul have evoked images of the 1975 U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, whose Communist-ruled government Washington sought to isolate for two decades after the Vietnam War, but with which it now enjoys warm ties given shared concerns about China.
A senior administration official said Harris’ trip would show that the United States was in the region “to stay,” but concerns about the outcome in Afghanistan could muddy that message. read more
“What has happened in Afghanistan has been quite frustrating and upsetting for a lot of countries,” said Yun Sun, co-director of the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center think tank. “The concern is one day when the United States determines you are no longer as important, they can just pack up and leave and there is nothing you can do about it.”
“And of course there’s China trying to capitalize on that narrative.”
Vietnam has been a vocal opponent of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and Singapore shares concerns about Beijing’s increasingly assertive behavior in the region.
They and other Southeast Asian countries have welcomed the U.S. military presence there given China’s militarization of the South China Sea and its vast coast guard and fishing fleet.
The U.S. Navy has maintained a steady pattern of freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea and near Taiwan, but those appear to have done little to discourage Beijing.
The senior administration official said Washington was confident the United States’ Indo-Pacific allies saw it as a “steadfast partner” and Harris would emphasize that on her trip. (Source: Reuters)
17 Aug 21. Joint Statement on NORAD Modernization. The Minister of National Defence of Canada, the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, and the Secretary of Defense of the United States, Lloyd James Austin III, approve this Joint Statement¹ to guide cooperation between Canada and the United States to enhance the ability of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to execute the missions outlined in the NORAD Agreement while facing evolving threats.
No two sovereign, neighboring nations enjoy as strong, supportive, and enduring a partnership as Canada and the United States. We understand that, to meet our security and defense objectives, both countries must be secure within our shared North American continent. The stronger and safer we are at home, the more we are capable of engaging and acting together in the wider world, in support of a strong, rules-based international order.
Canada and the United States have long benefited from the protection afforded by North American geography. However, growing strategic competition, rapid advancements in technology, and ongoing changes in our climate are eroding that protection, including by exposing North America to a greater and more complex conventional missile threat.
As an integral part of ongoing work to strengthen the security and defense of Canada and the United States, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting NORAD’s ability to detect, deter, and defend against aerospace threats and to detect maritime threats to North America, today and in the future. In particular, NORAD must be able to detect and identify those threats earlier and respond to them faster and more decisively, including aerospace threats transiting our northern approaches.
Defending our shared continent in a changing world
This Joint Statement is intended to guide our collaborative efforts to modernize NORAD over the coming years. This work is guided by our common understanding of NORAD modernization, which refers to our shared commitment to:
Modernize, improve, and better integrate the capabilities required for NORAD to maintain persistent awareness and understanding of potential threats to North America in the aerospace and maritime domains, to deter acts of aggression against North America, to respond to aerospace threats quickly and decisively when required, and to provide maritime warning consistent with the NORAD Agreement.
Priority areas for new investments should include:
- Situational awareness, especially in the northern and maritime approaches to the continent.
- Significant progress has been made to identify solutions for detecting, identifying, characterizing, and tracking new conventional threats to North America. Canada and the United States share a desire to coordinate in fielding new capabilities to complement and eventually replace the North Warning System with more advanced technological solutions as soon as possible, including next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems that can dramatically improve early warning and persistent surveillance of North American airspace and approaches.
- Ensuring effective awareness ultimately requires a system-of-systems approach including a network of Canadian and U.S. sensors from the sea floor to outer space.
- The existing North Warning System is to be maintained until appropriate replacement capabilities are in place.
- Modernized command and control systems
- Enhanced capabilities in this area can better fuse and integrate data from all-domain sensors into a common, comprehensive operating picture, enabling faster and better informed decision-making.
- The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) continue to explore and field solutions for robust and resilient communications, including in remote and contested environments, as required to execute NORAD missions.
- Capabilities to deter and, if necessary, defeat evolving aerospace threats to North America
- This includes investments to upgrade and modernize the infrastructure required to support robust NORAD operations, including in our Arctic and northern regions.
- Research, Development, and Innovation
- The DND and DoD recognize that one of the most fundamental challenges facing North American security and defense is the rapid pace at which both threats and solutions continue to evolve.
- Strong, collaborative research and development and new approaches to leveraging Canadian and U.S. strengths in innovation are critical to enabling the objectives set out above in the years to come.
Renewed Partnership, Deliberate Approach
The DND and DoD intend to move forward deliberately with coordinated investments that reflect the continuing importance of the role that NORAD plays in North American and allied deterrence, and in maintaining North America as a secure base for active engagement around the world. This work is to be advanced through ongoing engagements between DND and DoD. (Source: US DoD)
16 Aug 21. President Details Role of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan. President Joe Biden today addressed the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban and the actions U.S. troops are now taking to facilitate the departure of allies and Afghan partners. He spoke from the White House.
Biden said he authorized 6,000 U.S. troops to deploy to Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation. Troops are working to secure the Hamid Karzai International Airport to enable their safe departure, he said.
“Over the coming days we intend to transport out thousands of American citizens who have been living and working in Afghanistan, while also continuing to support the safe departure of civilian personnel of our allies who are still serving in Afghanistan,” he said.
Within the coming days, the U.S. military will assist with moving special immigrant visa-eligible Afghans and their families out of Afghanistan, he said, adding that there are others who will be eligible for movement out of the country as well.
“American troops are performing this mission as professionally and effectively as they always do. But it is not without risks. As we carry out this departure, we have made it clear to the Taliban that if they attack our personnel or disrupt our operation, the U.S. response will be swift and forceful. We will defend our people with devastating force if necessary,” he said.
“I cannot and will not ask our troops to fight on endlessly in another country’s civil war, taking casualties, suffering life-shattering injuries, leaving families broken by grief and loss. This is not in our national security interest and it is not what the American people want,” he said, explaining the rationale for departure. (Source: US DoD)
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