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08 Apr 22. More F-35s, Compass Call replacements make it onto Air Force wish list. The U.S. Air Force’s wish list for fiscal 2023 would include billions of dollars for more, brand-new F-35A fighter jets as well as EC-37 Compass Calls aircraft, hypersonic technology tests and construction projects for bases recovering from natural disasters.
The biggest item on the $4.6bn unfunded priorities list, obtained by Defense News, is $979m for procurement of the new Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft, which will replace the decades-old EC-130H that now performs that mission. That money would buy four used Gulfstream G550 business jets that contractor L3Harris Technologies would transform into the new Compass Calls, as well as spare engines and the kits and components needed for the modifications.
This would bring the size of the next-generation Compass Call fleet to 10, the request said. L3Harris, which received the Compass Call contract in 2017, began conducting test flights of the EC-37 last August.
Another $921m on the list would add seven more F-35As to the Air Force’s procurement request for 2023, bringing the total procurement up to 40. These would be Block 4 F-35As with the APG-85 radar from Lot 17.
The Air Force did not include F-35As on its unfunded priorities list last year, when it procured 48 of the fighters.
The Air Force also included $749 m in spending on 26 construction projects at bases around the world. This would include $286 m for multiple natural disaster recovery projects at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. A fund of $114m would go to construction of a corrosion control hangar for the KC-46A Pegasus at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
The Air Force’s next biggest request on the list is for $579m for weapon systems sustainment, focusing on aircraft including the B-52 Stratofortress, F-16 Fighting Falcon, T-38 Talon, C-17 Globemaster and C-5 Galaxy.
The Air Force also hopes to add another $197m to test hypersonic technology at two locations — Edwards Air Force Base in California and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida — and add more contractors to take on some of the workload. This would be a significant increase from the $577 m requested in the budget for hypersonic prototyping in fiscal 2023.
The wish list also includes $276m to bolster the procurement of the Small Diameter Bomb II, by eliminating problems with diminishing manufacturing sources and materiel shortages. It would also fund the development of software to improve the weapon’s current capabilities, and add new capabilities (Source: Defense News)
07 Apr 22. Austin Lays Out Reasoning Behind DOD Budget Request. At $773bn, the fiscal 2023 Defense Budget Request is huge, but that doesn’t mean that painful choices are not necessary, defense leaders told the Senate Armed Services Committee today. A case in point is divestiture of capabilities no longer needed as the National Defense Strategy changes. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the panel that with the change to strategic competition with China and Russia, that some of the capabilities resident in the Defense Department are no longer needed, or fewer of those capabilities are required. The fiscal 2023 budget calls for the Army to discontinue modifications to older night vision systems and for medium tactical vehicle protection kits.
The Navy seeks to decommission some cruisers, littoral combat ships and dock landing ships. The Navy also looks to retire the RQ-21 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft.
The Air Force looks to divest some A-10s, the E-3 Sentry aircraft, the E-8 JSTARS aircraft, some KC-135 refuelers and some C-130H aircraft.
The savings from cancelling, retiring or divesting these capabilities would allow the department to redirect resources to higher defense necessities, the il Congress approves the Defense Budget Request.
Milley said the cost benefit analysis to sustain these capabilities over time, “doesn’t add up.” He noted that many of the systems are old, and “we are trying to modernize the force for the future operating environment 2030 and beyond. And that’s what the investments are in this budget.”
Austin and Milley were also asked what effects the Russian invasion of Ukraine is having on the strategic picture in Europe. “This unlawful and unprovoked aggression by Putin has had the effect of changing the security architecture in the region for some time to come,” Austin said.
NATO defense officials are studying the outlook and positing the changes now, he said. The alliance is “taking a look at what has changed and what NATO will need to do, to make sure that we can continue to do what’s necessary to … defend our NATO countries,” the secretary said. “That work is just commenced, it’s ongoing. I expect that we’ll have a robust discussion as we go to the summit in June.”
Working out troop posture in the region requires some study. “As we look at that posture, we’re going to look at capability in all five warfighting domains, and we’re going to look at capability across NATO,” Austin said. “We do expect that it will change our footprint. In terms of how much it changes, that remains to be seen.”
The secretary said this could include permanent bases and troops permanently based there, more rotational troops in rotational bases, or a combination of both.
Milley said the Joint Staff is looking at the future U.S. force posture in Europe “to achieve the two fundamental purposes, which is to assure our allies, and deter any adversary specifically Russia. Right now, those are under development.” (Source: US DoD)
07 Apr 22. Novel, Breakthrough Warfighting Capabilities Discussed by DOD Officials. Defense Department officials yesterday described current and future game-changing warfare capabilities that will ensure national security for the U.S., allies and partners. The venue for the discussion was testimony at a Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities hearing. The Defense Innovation Unit successfully prototyped synthetic aperture radar satellites, which can see through clouds and at night. These satellites provided the world with imagery of Russian forces in and around Ukraine, enabling the department to predict the invasion and prove undeniably what was happening without revealing classified sources, said Michael Brown, DIU director.
Today, the National Reconnaissance Organization has provided this capability as part of U.S. defense security assistance to Ukraine, he said.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been working on some futuristic capabilities that could aid the warfighters in incredible ways.
Stefanie Tompkins, director of DARPA, said her agency is working on a number of projects.
“Imagine a world where soldiers’ basic needs things like food, water, fuel or medicine are made right on the spot from waste material, say from plastic, or even just from the air, completely independent of vulnerable supply chains,” she said.
“Imagine a world where both of our electronics and software are completely secure by design and thus unhackable. Imagine a world in which all of our military systems, which today have a lot of trouble interoperating, can seamlessly communicate and work together … Those are some of the features that DARPA seeks to make real,” she said.
Also, DARPA in partnership with the Air Force, recently completed a second successful flight test of a hypersonic air breathing weapon concept known as HAWC.
“This test set the U.S. record for scramjet endurance and we believe it’s an inflection point on the path to reclaiming U.S. leadership in hypersonic weapons,” Tompkins said.
“I ask you please to remember that some of those will fail. If they don’t, it means we’re not trying hard enough. And we’re not taking enough risk. But some of those will succeed, and in doing so, may fundamentally transform our nation and strengthen our national security,” she added.
Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu said: “As we have seen in Ukraine, novel commercial technologies, paired with conventional weapons can change the nature of conflict.
“The department’s processes, ranging from programming to experimentation to collaboration, should be updated to reflect the dynamic landscape today and anticipate the needs of tomorrow. Our nation’s private sector is our competitive advantage, and we must focus on improving how the government and private sector work together.
The forthcoming department’s “National Defense Science and Technology Strategy” will provide guidance to DOD regarding near-term challenges and ensure that the United States remains the global leader in technology far into the future, she said. (Source: US DoD)
05 Apr 22. US NORTHCOM again asks for homeland cruise missile defense funding in wish list. U.S. Northern Command is asking again for additional funds to develop a homeland cruise missile defense capability in its wish list sent to Capitol Hill.The wish list — or unfunded requirements list — is sent annually to Congress from combatant commands and service leaders and includes items that did not make it into the budget request, but would be desirable if additional funding becomes available.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, the commander of U.S. NORTHCOM, is seeking $50.87 m for a cruise missile defense homeland kill chain demonstration, according to the list, obtained by Defense News.
“The requested funds will enable a capability demonstration that integrates an elevated sensor into a Joint Tactical Integrated Fire Control architecture with fire control for a Navy long range surface to air interceptor,” the document reads.
“Funding will support sensor procurement and integration into existing fire-control network/architecture, up to three one-week exercises for data collection and data evaluation, integration of a Navy long range surface to air interceptor and a live fire test/demonstration,” it continues.
VanHerck notes the National Defense Strategy includes developing and fielding capabilities needed to deter and defeat specific threats to the homeland, “including Russia’s growing long-range cruise missile threat.”
To detect and defend against these kinds of threats, a network of elevated sensors must “provide high fidelity tracking and identification of low altitude and low radar cross section targets approaching critical [continental United States] infrastructure,” the document states.
NORTHCOM is partnering with the Missile Defense Agency to develop affordable technology that could quickly transition from testing to procurement then to integration and fielding, according to the document.
The Missile Defense Agency is planning to spend $1m to work on the system architecture for cruise missile defense of the homeland, according to its fiscal 2023 budget request. This includes the fire control demonstration using the Joint Tactical Integrated Fire Control System.
“The trade space is still within the department on how fast we’re going to move against what defended assets and what critical assets. So there’s a lot of homework to be done,” Vice Adm. Jon Hill, MDA director, said, of homeland cruise missile defense, when the FY23 budget was released last month. “Our job is to lay down the technical architecture options and work that within the department to see what we can do.”
MDA requested $14 m in FY22 to work on homeland cruise missile defense. In its FY22 wish list, it sought another $27m to develop and demonstrate the fire control sensor for potential cruise missile threat engagement, which could also be effective in detecting hypersonic missile threats.
US NORTHCOM included the same request in its FY22 unfunded requirements list. In the new wish list, NORTHCOM is asking for an additional $135m in total.
The command would like $29.8m for an Information Dominance Enabling Capability. The funding would buy needed information technology equipment and fund configuring infrastructure to support applying and optimizing artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities into the NORAD and NORTHCOM Joint Operations Center.
Another $5.05m would be spent on digitizing Alaska Long Range Radar sites, and NORTHCOM is asking for $49.3m for refurbishment and replacement of aging infrastructure systems at Cheyenne Mountain Complex. The funding would “recondition” two 1960s vintage diesel generators, repair blast valve components and HVAC systems and replace the uninterrupted power supply battery system. (Source: Defense News)
06 Apr 22. FY2023 Budget Request Includes $246m for SOCOM’s ‘Armed Overwatch’ Program. Special operators need an eye-in-the sky to look out for them as they operate in dangerous environments across the globe. And it’s not always practical for that overwatch to come from high-end combat fighter jets, which are better suited for countering threats from nation states.
This year’s budget request includes funding for U.S. Special Operations Command to advance efforts to put smaller aircraft, uniquely suited to Special Operations Forces needs, in the skies over special operators.
“The budget … supports the ‘Armed Overwatch’ program to ensure our SOF have the required support in remote and austere environments where they operate,” said Christopher P. Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, during testimony Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
About $246 m for nine aircraft was requested this year to support procurement within USSOCOM’s Armed Overwatch program so that SOF deployed to remote locations can get the close air support, precision strike capability, airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities they need to execute their missions.
“The investment into the Armed Overwatch program will ensure that this dedicated capability exists, allowing high-end fighter aircraft to orient towards other critical needs,” wrote Maier in submitted testimony to the SASC. “The Armed Overwatch platform will deliver a capability that ensures our SOF can continue to operate wherever we need them, whenever they are needed.”
The budget request also seeks funding to support SOF Undersea program, Maier said, which includes both manned and unmanned underwater systems to provide intelligence and transport capabilities to special operators.
“We are working with the Department of the Navy to ensure the integration of modernized SOF operational concepts and investments intended to facilitate access in denied areas and greater range for longer periods of time with less risk to the operator,” Maier said.
Maier told lawmakers this is the first year that both the Armed Overwatch and the Undersea programs have been formally designated as “special interest” acquisition programs.
“more comprehensive oversight so that any problems or issues may be identified early and rapidly remedied,” Maier said. Also part of the budget request, Maier said, is continued funding to support USSOCOM’s most important asset, which are its people.
“As reflected in the FY23 budget, we continue to invest in the health and well-being of our SOF warriors and their families,” he said. “Our flagship Preservation of the Force and Families program, or POTFF, complements service-administered programs to address the unique physical, cognitive, psychological and spiritual health needs of our SOF community.”
Maier also thanked lawmakers for allowing the POTFF program to be extended to Gold Star families — the families of SOF servicemen and women killed while on duty. Congress made that possible through language in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.
“enable the SOF enterprise to extend the POTFF family support program to our Gold Star families and embrace surviving families as important members of the SOF community,” Maier said. (Source: US DoD)
05 Apr 22. A reinvigorated NATO will help the US re-posture to the Asia-Pacific. A recent analysis has contended that a renewed and confident NATO in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will enable the United States to re-posture to the Asia-Pacific region, reinforcing the US-led global order. While news of Russia’s recent withdrawal from the outskirts of Kyiv has come as a breath of fresh air, analysts have presented little evidence that the war will come to an end anytime soon.
In the aftermath of Russia’s disengagement to the north of the Ukrainian capital, many are now just learning of the true nature of the occupation and the horrors faced by those civilians under Russian control.
A recent intelligence report from the Institute for the Study of War has shown that Russia is likely to restart several engagements over the coming days as they attempt to take Slovyansk and cut off Ukrainian forces in the east of the country.
Nevertheless, overt Russian aggression in the face of economic and military deterrents have prompted governments around the world to rethink their foreign policy and defence strategies.
This not only kicked many of America’s allies into gear and re-evaluate their defence spending, but it also prompted military experts to reassess Russia and China’s real military capabilities. These were the assessments of Robert Murphy, former special assistant to the Commanding General, US Army Europe in the Small Wars Journal this week, who suggested that the invasion may bolster the US-led world order as NATO allies increase defence spending and enable the US to pivot to the Asia-Pacific.
“Putin’s ill-conceived invasion of Ukraine has not only bared the depths of Russia’s incompetence, it has shaken America’s normally ambivalent European allies back into acquiescence with NATO’s defense spending guidelines,” Murphy argued.
“The US is presented with the opportunity to disencumber itself from forward deployed forces and shift European security back to Europeans, while simultaneously reallocating resources to more valid security concerns. Russia is depleted, Europe is invigorated, and America can refocus.”
In his analysis, Murphy referenced a 2016 submission he wrote, where the strategist argued that Russian military power is a relative concept – “Russia is strong because Europe is weak.”
With a renewed sense of urgency for Britain and the major European nations to reinvigorate their defence spending, Russia’s relative threat decreases and enables the United States to re-posture to address more pressing matters.
The analyst further suggested that the recent invasion has shown that the Russian military machine simply isn’t as powerful as many Western strategists projected.
“A consistently accurate image of Russia’s culture of warfare is a starving, bedraggled and unmotivated conscript unsure of where he is or what he’s really fighting for.”
In fact, much of Murphy’s analysis was reflected by Major General (Ret’d) Mick Ryan in a recent opinion piece published on the ABC in mid-March, analysing the Russian military’s modernisation efforts over recent decades.
“New equipment, new ideas about future war, a more professional force at higher readiness and lessons from recent combat in Syria” informed Russian military doctrine, according to the retired Major General.
However, in seeking new equipment, the Russian military failed to address correct technology integration to get the full use of such capabilities in contested modern environments.
“They certainly overlooked developing the basics of land combat: Combined arms, air-ground integration, close combat and good leadership are foundational capabilities that have been conspicuously absent in the Russian forces in Ukraine,” he explained.
While Russia will be left to lick its social, economic and military wounds for the coming years, Murphy assessed whether the West’s overestimation of Russian military capabilities could be extended to China.
“However, China may not be the competent adversary we’ve been led to believe they are, and the solution in the Pacific, like in Europe, likely lies with a network of allies capable of defending themselves,” Murphy noted.
“Despotic strategic leadership, generals carping for political favor, disdain for the welfare of individual troops, no experience in the conduct of combined arms warfare, a penchant for and history of throwing masses of ill equipped, ill-led and largely ignorant members of its lower classes against a more competent adversary.”
To evidence this line of questioning, Murphy cited examples where the Chinese military bungled the deployment of troops to support humanitarian efforts as well as their inability to support their troops on the Indian border. (Source: Defence Connect)
05 Apr 22. Austin: Budget Funds Military to Accomplish Today’s, Tomorrow’s Missions. In the 21st century, military establishments that don’t innovate “get left behind,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told the House Armed Services Committee today.
The fiscal 2023 Defense Budget Request provides the funds to ensure the U.S. military can keep innovating, he said.
The $773 bn request is firmly based on the new National Defense Strategy and provides the funds to ensure the United States can thrive in a world with China as the pacing challenge and deal with the Russian invasion of its neighboring country.
The budget also provides the funding to deal with the threats posed by North Korea, Iran and violent extremists, Austin said.
The key priorities for the U.S. military are to defend the country, take care of the people of DOD and succeed through teamwork, he said.
The request puts its money where its mouth is by seeking more than $56bn for airpower platforms and systems, and more than $40bn to maintain U.S. dominance at sea. This includes funding nine more battle-force ships. The budget calls for almost $13bn to support and modernize combat credible forces on land.
The budget continues the bipartisan call to modernize the three legs of America’s nuclear deterrent.
All these capabilities are powered by people, and the budget calls for a 4.6% pay raise for military and civilian members of the department. It also calls for more and better childcare facilities in DOD and money to ensure the department is a safe and diverse workplace.
“We’re also deeply focused on a terrible problem of suicide in the U.S, military,” Austin said. “I’ll keep on saying it: Mental health is health, period. The budget calls for increasing access to mental health care, expanding telehealth capabilities, and fighting the tired old stigmas that’s against seeking help.”
DOD is also implementing the recommendations of the independent review commission on sexual assault. “Our budget seeks nearly $480 m for that enterprise,” Austin said. “Sexual assault, as we know, is not just a crime, it’s an … affront to our values, and to everything that we’re supposed to represent to each other and to this country. This is a leadership issue, and you have my personal commitment to keep leading.”
The United States needs to keep leading, too, the secretary said. Since Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, American leadership has become even more crucial. “Countries around the world continue to look to the United States to provide that sort of leadership,” he said. “With help from Congress, we’ve been able to rush security assistance to … help the Ukrainian people defend their lives, their country and their freedom.”
The United States is providing that leadership, and Austin reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine. He told the members of the committee that even before Russia’s unprovoked invasion, the U.S. sent more than a bn dollars’ worth of weapons and supplies to Ukraine.
Even more assistance is flowing to Ukraine now. “We’re also helping to coordinate the delivery of material provided by other nations, which continues to flow in every single day,” he said.
The U.S. military has also reinforced the NATO allies on the eastern flank, raising our posture in Europe to more than 100,000 troops. “These reinforcements include dozens of aircraft, an aircraft carrier strike group and two brigade combat teams,” he said. “We will defend every inch NATO territory if required. And we’re making good . . . on that promise.”
While Russia is in the headlines, China is the real worry for DOD, and this is mirrored in the budget request as well. The fiscal 2023 request includes $6bn for the Pacific deterrence initiative. “It’s why we’re realigning our posture in the Indo-Pacific toward a more distributed footprint,” he told the representatives. “We’re going to enhance our force posture, infrastructure, presence and readiness in the Indo-Pacific, including the missile defense of Guam. And it’s why we’re making broad investments in such key areas as undersea dominance, fighter aircraft modernization, and advanced weaponry including hypersonic strike.”
These same investments can be used against Russia as well.
The United States is a global power, and it must be prepared for threats that don’t observe borders from pandemics to climate change, Austin said.
The national defense strategy advances U.S. goals in three main ways: Forging integrated deterrence, campaigning and building enduring advantages, Austin said.
“Integrated deterrence means combining our strengths across all the warfighting domains to maximum effect to ward off potential conflict,” he said. “Campaigning means our day-to-day efforts to gain and sustain military advantage, counter acute forms of coercion by our competitors and complicate their preparations for aggression.”
Building enduring advantages means the department must accelerate force development, acquiring and fielding the technologies that service members need. “Our budget seeks more than $130bn for research, development, testing and evaluation,” he said. “That’s the largest request that this department has ever made.”
The request includes $2bn for artificial intelligence research $250m for 5G, nearly $28bn for space capabilities, and another $11bn to protect DOD networks and develop a cyber mission force. “This budget maintains our edge, but it does not take that edge for granted,” he said. (Source: US DoD)
06 Apr 22. Assessing Biden’s nuclear policy revision. Has the Biden administration’s decision to amend the nuclear declaration policy weakened the nation’s defence posture?
Late last month, the US Department of Defense submitted the classified 2022 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) to Congress.
According to the Pentagon, the NPR represents a “comprehensive, balanced approach” to US nuclear strategy, policy, posture and forces.
“Maintaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent and strong and credible extended deterrence commitments, remain a top priority for the department and the nation,” the Pentagon noted in a statement.
“The NPR underscores our commitment to reducing the role of nuclear weapons and re-establishing our leadership in arms control.
“We will continue to emphasise strategic stability, seek to avoid costly arms races, and facilitate riskreduction and arms control arrangements where possible.”
The interim 2022 NPR strategy notes that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the “fundamental role” of the US stockpile would be to “deter nuclear attack” on the United States, our allies, and partners”.
The Pentagon goes on to stress that the United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons “in extreme circumstances”.
According to Patty-Jane Geller, policy analyst, nuclear deterrence and missile defence at The Heritage Foundation, the new strategy represents a subtle but significant revision of the nation’s nuclear deterrence policy.
Geller welcomes the Biden administration’s resistance to progressive lawmakers who lobbied for a “no first use” policy but laments the shift away from a policy of “calculated ambiguity”, which emphasised that the role of US nuclear weapons is to deter both nuclear and non-nuclear attacks.
Biden’s ‘fundamental role’ policy walks this back, deemphasising the role nuclear weapons play in deterring nonnuclear attacks,” she writes.
She claims Biden’s revision, which resembles the policy declared by former President Barack Obama in 2010, is no longer fit-for-purpose, given the deteriorating geopolitical environment – namely the growing threat posed by Russia and China.
“Since then, Russia has invaded Ukraine (twice), Russian President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated an active chemical-weapons program with attacks on political opponents, and China has greatly expanded its military forces,” Geller writes.
“Indeed, the Trump administration strengthened Mr. Obama’s nuclear policy partly in recognition that our adversaries had greatly increased their lethal nonnuclear capabilities.”
The analyst makes particular reference to the ongoing clash in Ukraine, pointing to President Putin’s recent nuclear threats, with the former KGB spy ordering Russia’s nuclear forces to be on high alert.
Geller adds US allies supported the Trump administration’s declaratory policy, pointing to remarks from Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Sasha Baker.
“I can’t say that I’ve found an ally who is urging us to reduce our nuclear deterrence or our declaratory policy in particular,” Baker said in March.
Geller suggests that in the absence of a call for revision from allies, the amendment may have been a response to internal pressure from progressives.
“If our allies did not advocate for this change in policy, then perhaps Mr Biden is retreating to Obama-era nuclear policy to placate the left side of his party that favours nuclear disarmament,” she contends.
“But altering policy that impacts nuclear deterrence—the number-one issue for US national security—for political purposes would be nothing short of irresponsible.”
Alternatively, the policy shift may be an attempt to reduce tensions with Russia and China by demonstrating US intentions are “more benign” than those of the previous administrations.
But according to Geller, this would be “wishful thinking”.
“More likely, this policy will suggest to adversaries and allies alike that the US might be more reluctant to use nuclear weapons against major chemical, biological or conventional attacks,” she writes.
“Our adversaries may interpret that message to mean they now have greater freedom to take more risks, so long as they keep the violence just below the nuclear threshold.”
She adds that weakening declaratory policy amid sabre-rattling from President Putin could signal his threats are working, and that the US is “backing off”.
This could undermine confidence among the US’ key strategic allies.
“Mr Biden’s decision to announce the reduced role of US nuclear weapons as war wages on along NATO’s borders could also cause allies to question the administration’s assurance that it will live up to its extended deterrence commitments,” Geller notes.
Geller concludes: “Unfortunately, there’s not much anyone can do to reverse this policy since the authority to use nuclear weapons lies solely in the president’s hands.
“But moving forward, support for a modern and flexible nuclear deterrent will remain more critical than ever.
“In the face of some of the greatest threats to national security, the US must show strength.” (Source: Defence Connect)
31 Mar 22. Proposed US Army budget funds third Multi-Domain Task Force. The U.S. Army’s $178bn budget blueprint for fiscal year 2023 supports a third Multi-Domain Task Force, a flexible unit at the center of the service’s modernization efforts. The third task force will be similar to the two already up and running, Army executives said at a March 29 briefing, and will conduct electronic warfare and cyber operations. It will also aid military experiments and exercises. Exactly where the task force will be located has not been decided, officials said. The Army plans to construct five total Multi-Domain Task Forces. The first was established in 2017 in Washington state and has since focused on the Indo-Pacific, including China. The second, in Europe, was greenlit in September 2021 with an eye toward Russia. It included an intelligence, cyberspace, electronic warfare and space detachment. The initial MDTF venture was experimental — meant to test and flesh out the Army’s multi-domain operations concept — but the program has evolved to be more active and operational.
“One of our new formations that we’re developing is called the Multi-Domain Task Force,” Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said March 30 at the Future of Defense Summit. “It is designed to be able to bring together not just the traditional kinetic effects, but also to be able to leverage information, cyber and space.”
Other task forces are expected to focus on global response and the Arctic. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville on March 9 said there “is always a possibility that we could put a Multi-Domain Task Force up in Alaska, with the capability to provide long-range precision effects and long-range precision fires,” among other things. “I see a lot of things happening in the Arctic as a competitive zone. We think we’re going to be competing for that.”
Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo earlier this year said the service was “looking at making sure that we fill the needs of cutting-edge formations in the Army, like our Multi-Domain Task Forces,” according to Defense News. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
04 Apr 22. Pentagon’s Top Industrial Base and Nuclear Defense Leader Tours Critical Materials Sites and Defense Labs. In support of the Defense Department’s focus on increasing domestic production of critical materials, Deborah Rosenblum, performing the duties of assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy and current assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, visited key production sites and defense laboratories during a recent west coast trip.
National security and essential civilian markets require stable access to refined rare earth elements, which are used in a variety of defense applications as well as electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other modern technologies, including clean energy.
While visiting the Mountain Pass Mine in San Bernardino County, California, Rosenblum participated in an explosives detonation — the first step in the extraction process of rare earth elements. The DOD recently awarded a $35m contract to MP Materials of Las Vegas, owner of the Mountain Pass Mine, to build U.S. heavy, rare earth element separation capacity.
“Major investments in domestic production of key critical minerals and materials ensures these resources benefit the community and create good-paying jobs,” said Rosenblum. The budget request sent to Congress on March 28th increases investments in key technologies and sectors of the U.S. industrial base, including critical materials, microelectronics and castings and forgings.
In addition to enabling key opportunities for collaboration between government and industry stakeholders responsible for addressing some of the Nation’s most pressing supply chain challenges, the visit also demonstrated a shared commitment to increasing diversity throughout the defense industrial base, and to on-shoring production of critical materials.
In coordination with the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Materiel Readiness, Rosenblum also visited the Defense Microelectronics Activity in McClellan, California, which serves as a trusted technical source for microelectronics solutions within the Department; and NextFlex, one of nine manufacturing innovation institutes.
NextFlex’s mission is to advance U.S. manufacturing of flexible hybrid electronics. At the NextFlex Test and Characterization Lab, leaders viewed an industrial scale, six-axis robot used for printing circuits on non-planar surfaces and multiple other functions. Ongoing initiatives associated with DMEA and NextFlex are established testaments to the DOD’s vision to build resiliency in defense supply chains.
Each stop on the visit offered evidence on how the DOD is advancing shared strategic goals through technology and talent across the U.S. industrial bases, highlighting the importance these bases play in both the defense and civilian sectors.
“The work being done at each of these facilities is not only impressive but a great example of how we are partnering to drive innovation,” said Rosenblum. “Efforts here are essential to our success in delivering both preeminent capabilities to the warfighter and delivering a 21st-century defense industrial base; and none of it could be accomplished without a dedicated and talented workforce. I’ve truly been impressed.” (Source: US DoD)
04 Apr 22. Navy, Marines push ‘campaigning forward’ strategy as vital to deterring China. The upcoming National Defense Strategy will highlight “campaigning forward” as a pillar of future operations, and top naval leaders say the force is already moving in this direction.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger described campaigning forward as an extension of what the Marine Corps already does.
“Having the Coast Guard, Navy, Marines present — and I would argue special operations as well — forward all the time, not fighting their way in but forward all the time, gives the [defense secretary] a better picture of what’s in front of him,” he said while speaking at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference.
Campaigning forward represents the “first opportunity to deter” an adversary, he said, and “you’re already in places they want to be. If they want to extend beyond the South China Sea, if you’re [China] — if you want to extend your defense line farther and we’re already there — it makes it much more difficult.”
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said during the panel discussion that a persistently present fleet could make China think twice about taking action against its neighbors, or at least help ensure the world sees what’s really going on.
“Think about how important it was for the United States, and the world, really, with respect to Russia’s activity into Ukraine: We took away his [President Vladimir Putin’s] strategic surprise, we took away his operational and tactical surprise, we pulled the rug out under Vladimir Putin with respect to his ability to use false flag operations as a pretext to cross the border and invade Ukraine,” Gilday said.
“Our ability to do that on a day-to-day basis in the Western Pacific, I would argue, is critically important. And you can’t do that virtually, you have to be there to assure allies and partners, to see that activity, to expose it,” he continued.
The Marine Corps added a “Stand-In Force” approach to its list of concepts under development for future operations to deter or defeat China, which the U.S considers a pacing threat. This concept supplements the traditional forcible entry amphibious force with a one that’s already living and maneuvering within the enemy’s operating area. These two together — a stand-in force and a rotational expeditionary force — will support campaigning forward for the sea services.
For U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Samuel Paparo, this vision isn’t far from how the fleet currently operates.
“We’re behaving that way now in the sense that we’re executing deny, defend, dominate. Deny objectives inside of the first island chain. Defend allies and partners along the first island chain. And dominate when outside the first island chain,” Paparo told Defense News on April 4 at the conference.
“Campaigning forward means the continued exercise of freedom of navigation, underscoring the fact that the United States naval service will fly and sail anywhere that international law [allows], and then our continued forward readiness to deter and, if deterrence fails, to fight and win any aggression that would upend the international rules-based order on which the nation’s security and wellbeing rests,” he added.
Berger said that for campaigning forward to work, the naval force must be “credible.” But Gilday has butted heads with lawmakers over his own approach to funding this credible forward force.
The CNO has focused on readiness for today and developing improved weapons and sensors for the near term, while pulling back on capacity and noting that he only wants a fleet as large as he can properly crew, train and sustain.
The fiscal 2023 budget request, released last week, would shrink the fleet from 298 ships today to 280 in fiscal 2027. Lawmakers agree the Navy must be ready to meet a near-term threat from China but argue the service needs more ships, not fewer, to create a credible deterrent.
Still, Gilday said current events in Ukraine support his strategy. “We need a ready, capable, lethal force more than we need a bigger force that’s less ready, less lethal and less capable,” he said.
He pointed to Russia as an example of what he wants to avoid. Despite Russia’s numerical advantage, Gilday said, the 125 battalion tactical groups the country positioned around Ukraine struggled due to training and sustainment problems.
“That’s not the force that any of us want. The investment strategy — if we want to flip that and make capacity king, we’ll end up with a force like that because you’ll pay for it with people, with ammunition, with training, with maintenance,” the CNO said.
He noted his service had to make difficult fiscal decisions, including requesting to decommission 16 ships that haven’t reached the end of their planned service lives but are costing the Navy money that it would rather invest elsewhere.
“I personally think we’re on the right path. That path is not popular with everybody in this room, certainly not on the Hill. But I believe it’s a responsible path, and I think it both fields a force today that’s ready to go and it invests in a force mid-decade and beyond that will serve us well,” Gilday told conference attendees.
Despite shrinking the fleet, he said the FY23 request maxes out industrial base capacity to build long-range and high-speed missiles: advanced capability torpedoes, Maritime Strike Tomahawk missiles, Standard Missile-6 1B missiles, Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles, and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile—Extended Range. He also noted the request will give Navy aircraft, ships and submarines the capabilities they need to be more successful in the near to midterm. (Source: Defense News)
01 Apr 22. Climate Investments Tied to Mission Objectives, DOD Official Says. Climate change is reshaping the geostrategic operational and tactical environment, with significant implications for U.S. national security and defense, said Joe Bryan, a Department of Defense official.
Bryan, DOD chief sustainability officer and senior climate advisor to the defense secretary; Melissa Dalton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs; and Richard Kidd, deputy assistant defense secretary for environment and energy resilience, spoke to the media yesterday.
From extreme heat and drought to more intense and unpredictable weather, climate is also impacting military readiness and imposing significant costs on the department, Bryan said.
Climate change is increasingly setting the context for DOD operations, and those of our allies and partners, as well as adversaries, he said.
“While climate creates risk, responding aggressively to mitigate that risk offers the opportunity to create advantages, making our installations or operations more resilient by increasing our capabilities for our missions and our platforms, by ensuring the competitiveness with the technologies that will define the future,” he said.
“There’s been an idea out there by some that there’s competition between what’s good for the climate and what’s good for the mission. We believe that that is a false choice,” Bryan said. He further emphasized this idea by noting that climate investments are aligned with mission objectives.
DOD investments, he said, include energy resilience, conservation improvement programs, operational energy, improved efficiency of operational platforms and science and technology.
For example, the department looks to use hybrid tactical vehicles to enhance capability and extend range, he said. Also, DOD is prototyping new platforms to increase aircraft range and payload, while improving energy efficiency.
The department is also working on electrifying its large fleet of non-tactical vehicles, he added.
The department is poised to address how global climate and other threats are transforming the context in which DOD operates, said Dalton.
“In order to train, fight and win in an increasingly complex threatened environment, the department must consider the effects of climate change at every level of the enterprise and invest in accordingly,” she said.
Allies, partners and competitors are assessing the implications of climate change on their respective strategic objectives, she said.
To address climate risks, DOD is working within the whole-of-government approach to prevent, mitigate, account for and respond to security risks associated with climate change, she said.
The department is also working in close coordination with partners and allies since climate change is a global challenge that can only be tackled by working together, she added.
“Over time, we’re all influenced by climate change,” said Kidd.
As such, the department is making decisions on how to more smartly operate its installations, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address vulnerabilities to the supply chain and the power grid, he said.
Kidd noted that it’s easy transitioning to electric vehicles for zero emission. The hard part, however, is getting in place the charging infrastructure to support it. (Source: US DoD)
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