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05 Nov 21. Tech Advantage Critical to Prevail in Strategic Competition With China, DOD Official Says. Technological capability on an ongoing basis is critical to the United States maintaining its edge against other nations, such as China, Michael Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit, said yesterday. At the 2021 Aspen Security Forum in Washington, D.C., Brown discussed preserving the United States’ technological edge and quickly getting new technology into the hands of U.S. warfighters.
“We need technological advantage to prevail in this strategic competition with China,” the DIU director said. “For the military, that means that we’ve got to modernize faster. We got to use more commercial technology.”
Brown added that requirements in acquisition and budgeting must again work for the Pentagon. “I’ve been leading DIU for three years now, and what I see is we’re not going fast enough. We’re not transforming at the scale that we need to make changes to address the threat with China.”
Brown agreed that the human capital in the United States’ volunteer force is extraordinary, citing earlier comments by Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency, and chief of the Central Security Service. “What I’ve seen firsthand in terms of the capability and dedication to mission is phenomenal. It’s impressive. We owe it to those men and women to give them the best tools. We ought to have an incredible sense of urgency and impatience and courage to change those 60-year-old processes to give them the best so they have adequate tools to do their jobs, which is what’s important to all of us to keep us safe,” he said.
“We’re losing that edge, and we’re losing it at a rapid rate,” Brown said, adding that the United States needs a recommitment to science and technology. “It involves STEM talent. Where is our program to increase STEM talent? We need that in the military. And we need moonshots to inspire people, just like we had during the space race. We need that kind of resurgence of excitement about what we can do in science and technology, and how that’s going to enable economic prosperity for the next 20, 30 or 40 years. China’s doing that long-term thinking, and we have to, as well.”
Investing in technology is something China has been doing, he said, and that’s where well-paying jobs are. “That’s why focused on creating the standards for industries for the next 10 or 20 years with what they call ‘China’s standards 2035,'” he said, noting that China wants to displace the United States, Canada, and all Western countries and companies with its own capabilities.
“We don’t want to live in that world,” Brown said.
It’s important for the United States to not sit back and become complacent and think it has a corner on technology or innovation, he said.
“If we don’t invest, if we don’t have the right talent, if we’re not focused on the fact that this is a tech race, we’re not going to be happy with the outcome,” Brown said. (Source: US DoD)
05 Nov 21. Official Says DOD Is Focused on Threats From State Actors, Terrorists. Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby held a briefing with journalists today, covering a broad range of topics from China, Russia and Pakistan. Kirby said there’s been an unusual build up of Russian military activity near Ukraine in the last several days.
“We continue to consult with allies and partners on the issue,” he said. “We continue to monitor this closely. Any escalatory or aggressive actions by Russia would be of great concern to the United States.
“We would urge Russia to be more clear about its intentions,” he added.
China and North Korea
Both nations have been building up their nuclear missile capabilities.
“What we’re focused on is being able to address the threats and challenges in the region,” Kirby said, referring to the “pacing challenge” from China, as well as potential actions by North Korea.
The Defense Department, he said, would “obviously support any level of dialogue and discussion that reduces the threats of weapons of mass destruction,” but the matter would be better addressed at the State Department and White House levels.
“What we have to stay focused on is making sure that to the degree there is a threat and a challenge, that we’re ready to deter that threat and challenge and defeat it if necessary, and that’s what our focus is on here. But nobody wants to see an arms race that leads to conflict and confrontation,” he added.
Pakistan remains a key partner in the region, he said. “We look for opportunities to continue to work with Pakistan to address what is a shared threat, a shared terrorism threat along that spine between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and we’re going to continue to explore opportunities to do that.”
Kirby added that Pakistan itself has fallen victim to terrorism in that border region, and the country’s citizens have been killed or wounded, “so, they have a real stake in this.” (Source: US DoD)
05 Nov 21. Special Operations Success Hinges on People, Partnerships . Talented, well trained and motivated people are key to a highly effective and capable special operations force. The other key to its success is partnerships across industry, academia and with allies and partners, the commander of U.S. Special Forces Command said.
As a result of the experiences and lessons learned during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last two decades, special operations forces are “battle tested and probably one of the most credible, integrated, capable forces that we’ve ever had,” Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke said yesterday at the 2021 Aspen Security Forum in Washington, D.C.
Although the focus has shifted to Great Power competition, particularly with China, the lessons learned from counterinsurgency operations need to be retained because the threat to the homeland will not dissipate, he said.
“The counterterrorism mission is going to remain. There’s still going to be folks that want to come into our country, especially folks that would, if they had the opportunity, take a shot at the United States. I’m not saying the next 9/11 is around the corner, but I do think that we always have to be vigilant and be prepared,” he said, adding that the Defense Department did a great job adding the “irregular warfare annex” to the National Defense Strategy.
Undermining the confidence of potential adversaries is a particularly useful role of special operations forces, Clarke said. Information operations play a part in that, along with building resistance networks.
“Building resistance networks means that we want an adversary to think that behind every rock is an IED and up in every tree is a sniper, that if you were willing to attack this country, you’re going to be fighting all the way through,” he said, mentioning the Baltic nations as one of many examples employing this strategy.
Although special operations forces make up just 2% of the Joint Force and 3% of the department budget, it’s a pretty good return on investment, he said, noting the participation of special operations forces in the Afghanistan evacuation and its concurrent mission in Haiti for humanitarian disaster assistance.
Since special operations personnel are globally deployed, working with allies and partners is a valuable skill that they bring, Clarke said. They’re culturally astute and skilled in languages and customs of the country and region in which they’re located.
Not only do they train with the special operations units of other nations, but they also train with conventional forces, as they’ve been doing recently in Norway, Ukraine, Thailand and the Philippines, Clarke said. On each training mission, U.S. teams learn new tactics, techniques and procedures, and partner nations learn from their U.S. counterparts. “Deployments are probably the best training they get,” he said.
Besides training with allies and partners, special operations forces benefit from training as part of the larger joint force in some of their higher end exercises, he said.
“Working with and integrating with the joint force is absolutely critical because we want them to see us as an enabler and a capable force that helps them, whether that’s through joint forced entry, or because we may be the only ones in that country that can provide them access,” he said.
Special operations forces are resilient and creative, Clarke said, and their leaders listen to their ideas and respond appropriately(Source: US DoD)
05 Nov 21. Send Ukraine US troops, weapons, key Republicans tell Biden. Republican Reps. Mike Rogers and Mike Turner are urging U.S. President Joe Biden to further arm Ukraine and “deploy a U.S. military presence in the Black Sea” to warn off a renewed invasion threat from Russian forces.
“With the recent massing of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border, we urge your administration to take immediate and swift action to provide support to Ukraine in the form of intelligence and weapons,” Rogers, of Alabama, and Turner, of Ohio, said Friday in a letter to Biden, which was obtained by Defense News. Rogers and Turner are the ranking members of, respectively, the House Armed Services Committee and Strategic Forces Subcommittee.
“We also urge your administration to deploy a U.S. military presence in the Black Sea to deter a Russian invasion,” the letter says, adding Biden’s administration “cannot ignore Russia’s continued threat to international law and Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.”
“Additionally, we urge you to immediately consider an appropriate U.S. military presence and posture in the region and to initiate appropriate intelligence sharing activities between the U.S. and Ukraine to prevent the situation from escalating further.”
The call comes as Ukraine’s defense ministry said Wednesday there are 90,000 Russian troops not far from the border and in rebel-controlled areas in Ukraine’s east. Satellite images showed a buildup of armored units, tanks and self-propelled artillery as well.
“Russia has periodically deployed and built up troops to maintain tensions in the region and exert political pressure on neighboring countries,” the ministry said.
Ukraine and Romania told Congress last week Western allies should step up their military presence in the Black Sea to counter Russia’s militarization of the region. Ukraine said it wants Washington’s backing for a NATO force on the Black Sea akin to its Baltic Sea force, which has multinational battalion-size battlegroups.
Russia has cast its weight behind a separatist insurgency in Ukraine’s east that erupted shortly after Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and has left more than 14,000 people dead. Russia has repeatedly denied any presence of its troops in eastern Ukraine.
Several Republican lawmakers, including the Senate Armed Services Committee’s ranking member, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., have posted on social media lamenting the new massing of troops and suggesting the Biden administration act.
(Source: Defense News)
05 Nov 21. Lockheed wins $10.9bn contract to modernize F-22. The Air Force on Friday awarded Lockheed Martin a $10.9bn contract to modernize its F-22 Raptor fighter jet.
The massive indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity deal for the F-22 Program Office’s Advanced Raptor Enhancement and Sustainment, or ARES, program will cover up to a decade’s worth of sustainment and modernization of the fifth-generation fighter.
According to a Defense Department announcement, the contract will cover services including upgrades, enhancements and fixes to the Raptor. Lockheed will also provide logistics services and modernization hardware kit procurement.
If all contract options are exercised, the Pentagon expects the work to be finished by Oct. 31, 2031. Work on the contract will be carried out in Fort Worth, Texas.
The contract was a sole-source award to Lockheed Martin, which built the F-22.
However, by the time the F-22′s modernization under ARES is finished, the aircraft could be nearing the end of its life span.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown said in May the Air Force plans to eventually retire the F-22 as part of an effort to trim its fighter inventory.
Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements, said in a May interview with Defense News the service is planning to use the Raptor as a “bridge” until the Next Generation Air Dominance program is up and running.
Hinote noted that by the 2030s, the Raptor would be four decades old, having first gone into development in 1991.
“It’s just not going to be the right tool for the job, especially when we’re talking about defending our friends like Taiwan and Japan and the Philippines against a Chinese threat that grows and grows,” Hinote said in May.
(Source: News Now/Defense News)
03 Nov 21. China Military Power Report Details Advances, Goals in 2020. The Defense Department today released its annual report on military and security developments involving China, commonly referred to as the China Military Power Report.
The report provides background on China’s national strategy, foreign policy goals, economic plans and military development.
“The report provides a baseline assessment of the department’s top pacing challenge, and it charts the modernization of the PLA throughout 2020,” a defense official said Tuesday. “This includes the PLA developing the capabilities to conduct joint, long-range precision strikes across domains; increasingly sophisticated space, counterspace and cyber capabilities; as well as the accelerating expansion of the PLA’s nuclear forces.”
A key revelation in the report are China’s advancements in its nuclear capability, including that the accelerated pace of their nuclear expansion may enable China to have up to 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027.
“The accelerating pace of the PLA’s nuclear expansion may enable the PRC to have up to about 700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027,” the official said. “And the report states that the PRC likely intends to have at least 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030 — exceeding the pace and the size that we projected in the 2020 China Military Power report.”
The report also reveals that China may have already established a nuclear triad, which includes the ability to launch such missiles from the air, ground and sea.
“The PRC has possibly already established a nascent ‘nuclear triad’ with the development of a nuclear-capable, air-launched ballistic missile and improvement of its ground- and sea-based nuclear capabilities,” the report reads.
New to the report this year is a section on the Chinese military’s chemical and biological research efforts. It says China has engaged in biological activities with potential dual-use applications and that this raises concerns regarding its compliance with the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The report concludes that China continues to be clear in its ambitions to be competitive with world-class military powers, the DOD official said.
“The PLA’s evolving capabilities and concepts continue to strengthen its ability to fight and win wars, to use their own phrase, against what the PRC refers to as a ‘strong enemy’ — again, another phrase that appears in their publications. And a ‘strong enemy,’ of course, is very likely a euphemism for the United States,” he said.
According to the report, a big part of China’s effort to match the strength of a “strong enemy” involves major modernization and reform efforts within China’s army. Those efforts include an ongoing effort to achieve “mechanization,” which the report describes as the Chinese army’s efforts to modernize its weapons and equipment to be networked into a “systems of systems” and to also utilize more advanced technologies suitable for “informatized” and “intelligentized” warfare.
Also of significance are China’s efforts to project military power outside it’s own borders.
“The PRC is seeking to establish a more robust overseas logistics and basing infrastructure to allow the PLA to project and sustain military power at greater distances,” the DOD official said. “We’re talking about not just within the immediate environments, environments in the Indo-Pacific, but throughout the Indo-Pacific region and indeed, around the world.”
The official said China’s army has sought to modernize its capabilities and improve its proficiency across all warfare domains, so that, as a joint force, it can conduct the range of land, air, and maritime operations that are envisioned in army publications, as well as in space, counterspace, electronic warfare and cyber operations. (Source: US DoD)
03 Nov 21. DOD Releases 2021 Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. The Department of Defense announces the release of its annual report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China.” The congressionally mandated report serves as an authoritative assessment on military and security developments involving the PRC.
This year’s report provides a baseline assessment of the Department’s top pacing challenge and charts the maturation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The report accounts for the PRC’s evolving national strategy and outlines the strategic objectives driving the PLA’s defense policy and military strategy. It also covers key developments of the PLA’s military modernization and reform, and provides insights into the PRC’s regional and global ambitions.
This includes the PLA developing the capabilities to conduct joint long-range precision strikes across domains, increasingly sophisticated space, counterspace, and cyber capabilities, and accelerating the large-scale expansion of its nuclear forces.
The full report can be found here: https://media.defense.gov/2021/Nov/03/2002885874/-1/-1/0/2021-CMPR-FINAL.PDF?source=GovDelivery (Source: US DoD)
02 Nov 21. U.S. defense allies push to block new ‘Buy American’ boost. A group of close U.S. military allies worried a legislative proposal to boost to “Buy American” requirements will upend longstanding defense trade pacts is asking Senate lawmakers to scuttle the measure — or at least make it friendlier.
A group of 25 foreign military attachés whose countries have special reciprocal trade agreements with the Pentagon wrote Oct. 28 to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., and ranking member Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., to ask that they oppose the language during eventual talks to reach a compromise 2022 defense policy bill. The group includes Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the U.K.
It’s the latest flashpoint in the fight over Democratic efforts to boost domestic manufacturing by strengthening “Buy American” requirements, which apply to about a third of the $600 bn in goods and services the federal government buys each year.
Since U.S. President Joe Biden took executive action during his first week in office, the House-passed 2022 National Defense Authorization Act contained language from Rep. Donald Norcross, D-N.J., to codify that boost into law, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., proposed similar language as an amendment to the Senate’s NDAA.
In an interview with Defense News on Tuesday, Pieter-Henk Schroor ― a Dutch defense cooperation attaché who chairs the Defense Memorandum of Understanding Attachés Group and sent the letter ― argued that unraveling defense production agreements will hurt some weapons programs or erode America’s multibn-dollar defense trade surplus. Some allies who spend heavily on U.S. weapons do so because their countries are allowed to help build those weapons, he said.
“If that incentive would no longer exist, simply because our defense industries would no longer be welcome in U.S. markets, of course that would also have an effect on our incentive to buy here,” Schroor said. “Especially European countries will start looking at alternatives and would be far more interested than they are currently to buy European.”
“If there would not be a defense trade with DMAG countries to the level that exists today, that would really damage economic growth in the U.S. or at least cost jobs in the U.S.,” he added.
Asked about the matter Tuesday, Reed said in a brief hallway interview he supports Duckworth’s proposed amendment but also said that the intent behind the Democrats’ “Buy American” push is to work with allies.
“What we want to do with the supply chain is make sure it’s in secure hands, which means some of our closest allies also ― not just exclusively the United States,” Reed said. “It would technically be very difficult [to untangle U.S. and allied defense supply chains] anyway.”
Inhofe said the U.S. would be unable to access all the equipment it needs under what he called a “severe ‘Buy America’ provision.”
The defense attaché group made a similar request over Norcross’s “Buy American” proposal last year, and it was later dropped from that year’s NDAA. This year, Duckworth’s amendment, if it is taken up and passed, would strengthen the hand of “Buy American” proponents going into NDAA negotiations.
If the language cannot be removed, the group of defense attachés would like to see it changed to include an explicit protection for special reciprocal trade agreements between their countries and the Pentagon. Schroor said he’d been told the Norcross provision is meant to target China, not allies, but he said that it would go a long way toward soothing allies’ concerns if the legislation made that clear.
America’s largest defense trade union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, backs both legislative proposals.
“This amendment will not only grow our industrial base and help give thousands of working Americans the opportunity to improve their lives and communities, but it will increase the number of domestic manufacturers throughout the country,” Robert Martinez Jr., the union’s president, said in a statement Oct. 29.
Some critics of the “Buy American” push are especially concerned because the Biden administration is undertaking broader efforts to strengthen domestic supply chains for certain goods and add U.S. manufacturing jobs. Biden and other high-level officials in his administration have said they will look to work with international partners, but some allies hear a mixed message.
“We hear about reshoring of economic activities … and in that same vein that close relationships with allies and partners will be supported. But all in all, it’s not clear enough to us if we will be included or not in the complete overhaul of supply chains,” Schroor said. “Are they looking at the domestic defense industrial base or the defense industrial base with partners?” (Source: Defense News)
29 Oct 21. Austin Emphasizes Importance of Working With Partners in Central, South America. U.S. Southern Command’s work is vital to American security, American interests and American values. When there’s instability or a crisis nearby, it can echo here at home, the secretary of defense said.
Lloyd J. Austin III delivered remarks today during a change of command ceremony where Army Gen. Laura J. Richardson assumed duties as commander of Southcom from Navy Adm. Craig S. Faller at Southcom headquarters in Doral, Florida.
The COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and the impacts of climate change, cybersecurity threats, drug trafficking and transnational criminal organizations are some of the examples Austin cited that have led to crises or instability.
“We have to tackle these challenges together, as neighbors and friends. And, Southcom is building and strengthening true partnerships, rooted in respect, communication and candor. True partnership means deepening the ways that we work together,” he said.
In this region, comprising South and Central America, as well as most of the Caribbean islands, that means helping neighbors strengthen their capabilities. It means sharing information. And it means working closely with partners to combat malign influences, he said.
“Our network of alliances and partnerships are a force multiplier that no competitor can match,” Austin added.
The secretary provided examples of partnership successes that were led by Faller’s team.
On Aug. 14, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the southwestern area of Haiti, causing extensive damage. Helicopters from Joint Task Force-Bravo and Puerto Rico’s National Guard delivered food and aid and other aircraft surveyed the damage. “Working together with USAID, you saved hundreds of lives,” he said, referring to the U.S. Agency for International Development.
When Hurricanes Eta and Iota struck nearly a year ago, pummeling Central America, Southcom was there providing assistance, he said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic spread to the region, Southcom secured more than $90 m for medical equipment, field hospitals, cold-storage containers and more for Southcom partners, he said.
Additionally, the U.S. government donated nearly 34 m vaccine doses to the region.
“We’re going to keep on fighting COVID in the region because that’s what friends do. We understand that a threat to global health anywhere is a threat to security everywhere,” Austin said.
Other areas of cooperation, he said, include: disrupting criminal organizations, stopping the flow of drugs into the U.S., expanding security cooperation.
“Our partnerships are based on much more than proximity. They’re based on our shared values of equitable growth and prosperity. And they’re based on our common commitment to human rights and human dignity. And they’re based on the region’s long standing consensus in favor of democracy,” Austin said.
Southcom will be in capable hands under Richardson’s leadership, the secretary said.
For the better part of three decades, the Army has benefited from her professionalism and dedication.
During the war in Iraq, Richardson commanded an assault helicopter battalion and flew missions to support troops on the ground, he mentioned. She later commanded U.S. Army North. Now, she is the first woman to lead Southcom.
“There isn’t a crisis that she can’t handle,” he said.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley also provided remarks at the change of command.
Many of the countries in the region have fought shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. military in various campaigns from World War II to Korea to Vietnam and throughout not only this region but elsewhere, he said.
“That has been incredibly significant to our country. This is in fact, a neighborhood of neighbors of the Western Hemisphere,” he said. “This hemisphere belongs to us and to no one else, and we’re all shoulder to shoulder in that common cause to protect our hemisphere from any international threats,” he said, mentioning potential adversaries China, Russia and Iran. (Source: US DoD)
29 Oct 21. U.S., Slovak Defense Officials Discuss Bilateral Cooperation. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and the Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad’ discussed relations between the two NATO allies and the best way ahead for their bilateral partnership.
The two defense leaders met at the NATO Defense Ministerial last week and continued their conversation at the Pentagon. The leaders agreed to work closely to enhance defense cooperation through the introduction of a High-Level Defense Group and concluding negotiations on a mutually beneficial Defense Cooperation Agreement soon. Austin said it was auspicious that the allies were meeting on this day — the 103rd anniversary of then-Czechoslovakia declaring its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the waning days of World War I. “As you know, that declaration was strongly supported by the United States,” he said.
Since 1993, the United States and the Slovak Republic have deepened their cooperation. The nation, which separated from the Czech Republic in 1992, participated in the Partnership for Peace program aiming at NATO membership. U.S. personnel worked diligently with the Slovak military and the republic became a NATO member in 2004.
Since then, Austin noted, U.S. and Slovak personnel have deployed together often. “Our cooperation also includes tackling common challenges like the pandemic and countering hybrid threats,” Austin said. “And I especially want to thank Slovakia for its contributions in Afghanistan. We will always be grateful to the brave Slovak troops who have fought and fallen alongside us. We’re also deeply grateful for your help during our historic recent airlift. This vital humanitarian mission wouldn’t have been possible without our allies and partners — including the support from Slovak military aircraft and forces. The lives that we were able to save together underscore the importance of allied investments and of NATO’s ability to project power.”
The Slovak Republic has doubled its defense spending in recent years and is modernizing its military and enhancing interoperability with NATO allies. “We’re proud to be partners with you on F-16s and Blackhawks,” Austin said. “And we’re looking forward to exploring future defense-industry cooperation in other areas to support NATO’s Capability Targets.”
“We are partners. We are friends. We are allies. And this collaboration between our countries is long,” Nad’ said to Austin. “Since 1993, the cooperation between our countries is really extensive. You have played a key role in Slovakia’s entry into NATO. And you are a key partner and ally in the modernization of our military.”
Nad’ said he looks forward to discussions on defense cooperation and exploring new opportunities for cooperation between the two nations. (Source: US DoD)
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