Sponsored by Exensor
13 Oct 23. Russia, North Korea expanding military partnership, White House says.
Russia and North Korea are building a military partnership amid heavy U.S. sanctions and support for Ukraine, according to a new assessment by the National Security Council.
Council spokesman John Kirby briefed reporters on a map allegedly showing lethal aid flowing from North Korea to Russia to supply the latter’s invasion of Ukraine. In the last month or so, he said, “1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions” have followed this route.
“We condemn the DPRK for providing Russia with this military equipment, which will be used to attack Ukrainian cities, kill Ukrainian civilians and further Russia’s illegitimate war,” he said Friday, using an abbreviation for North Korea.
For the last year and a half, Russia’s war against Ukraine has emptied the military stockpiles of both parties as well as their international supporters. The fight has largely been one of attrition, in which either side advances only after pounding the other with artillery. Such combat requires a constant supply of shells. Ukraine fires about 8,000 a day, according to an official with Ukraine’s Defence Ministry.
Just as the U.S. and its allies have increased production and donated stocks to Ukraine, Russia has partnered with other nations to sustain its war effort. Most notably, Moscow has received a supply of Iranian-made drones that it’s used to batter Ukrainian infrastructure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Russia for several days last month, in which the two discussed bilateral cooperation and toured factories. The meeting concerned U.S. officials, who watched the rare summit between two adversaries, drawn together amid American-led isolation.
During their summit, Kim pledged support for Russia’s war in Ukraine. For his part, Putin mentioned North Korea’s “great interest in rocket technology,” a reference to the country’s fledgling space program that Russia could assist. North Korea has tried and failed twice to launch satellites this year, and the visit included a tour of Russia’s far east spaceport.
During March, July, August and September, Kirby said, the U.S. and its allies have sanctioned people involved in arms negotiations and transfers between Russia and North Korea, whose nuclear program has made it a global pariah.
“In return for support, we assess that Pyongyang is seeking military assistance from Russia including fighter aircraft, surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles, ballistic missile production equipment, or other materials and other advanced technologies,” Kirby said.
He added that the U.S. has already seen Russian ships make deliveries to North Korea. These, he explained, may have been the first deliveries of Russian military equipment to North Korea.
Kirby used the assessment to again argue for supplemental Ukraine assistance. Earlier this year, the White House requested about $25 billion in further funding. The Senate nearly passed a bill including $6 billion, but later dropped that provision in late September as part of a deal to keep the government from shutting down..
At a meeting in Brussels of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a set of countries supporting Kyiv, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced $200 million more in U.S. security aid. That brings the amount of money available to send to $5.2 billion, alongside about $1.6 billion in funds to restock the U.S. military’s inventory.
Congress can’t approve further aid unless the House has a confirmed speaker — an absence likely to continue after the previous Republican nominee, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, withdrew his name for consideration. (Source: Defense News)
12 Oct 23. Assistant Secretary for Science & Technology Visits DOD Manufacturing Institutes. Dr. Steven Wax, performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Science and Technology, recently concluded a visit to two of the Department of Defense’s nine Manufacturing Innovation Institutes. The visit included both the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute/BioFabUSA and Advanced Functional Fabrics of America.
MIIs were created to revitalize U.S. manufacturing capabilities through domestic public-private partnership designed to enhance competitiveness within the innovation ecosystem. Today there are 17 MIIs nationwide, nine operated by DOD.
BioFabUSA, located in Manchester, New Hampshire, brings together the manufacturing process for science of regenerative medicine to create regenerative manufacturing. It has more than 170 members including corporations, academia, and not-for-profit organizations.
“Dr. Wax is a trusted collaborator who I have had the opportunity to work with from his time at DARPA,” said Dean Kamen, Executive Director, and Chairman of the Board for BioFabUSA. “Thanks to his leadership along with others at the Department of Defense, America is building the biofabrication industry. This new industry will be responsible for manufacturing lifesaving, restorative therapies for injured warfighters and veterans, and will transform treatments for traumatic injuries and chronic illness for all Americans.”
During the visit, Kamen briefed Wax about future capabilities that are being developed a BioFabUSA such as on-demand battlefield red blood cell production, on-demand battlefield IV fluid production, and biofabricated ligaments and tendons used to repair musculoskeletal injuries.
“Regenerative medicine will no doubt become an important asset at the DOD,” Wax said. “These innovative capabilities are just one of many reasons successful technology transitions are needed.”
AFFOA, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, transforms traditional fibers, yarns, and textiles into integrated and networked systems that will allow fabrics to become a tech-enabled products.
AFFOA leadership team, including Chief Executive Officer Dr. Sasha Stolyarov, demonstrated active textile capabilities that can utilize light-based communications and aid in warfighter rehabilitation.
“The active textiles being developed at AFFOA will provide a strategic advantage to the warfighter,” Wax said. “Military uniform fabrics that can store power and sense potential hazards are truly a game-changing technology.”
AFFOA, like all MIIs, collaborates with industry, academia, and government partners to identify solutions for targeted issues.
“Dr. Wax’s visit to AFFOA highlights the Department of Defense’s commitment to the manufacturing innovation institutes and the growing importance that we serve as part of the Department’s innovation ecosystem,” Stolyarov said. “We had the opportunity to discuss how AFFOA is bringing industry, academia, and government stakeholders together to address critical challenges for the nation. AFFOA is grateful for the partnership with the DOD and looks forward to further strengthening the collaboration in the years ahead.”
Both MIIs have a unique technology concentration and work with DOD to effectively transition capabilities into production.
“DOD is committed to an accelerated technology transition for the prototypes that have the best long-term operational value for the department,” said Wax. “The DOD is actively collaborating with our interagency partners to develop the best processes to field capabilities at speed and scale.” (Source: US DoD)
12 Oct 23. Austin Says U.S. Will Supply Military Necessities to Israel, Ukraine. The United States will supply Israel with the capabilities it needs to combat the Hamas terror group even as it supplies Ukraine with the weaponry needed to defeat Russia, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said today at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
“We can and will stand by Israel, even as we stand by Ukraine,” Austin said at the conclusion of a meeting of NATO defense ministers. “The United States can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
The NATO defense ministers discussed the situation in the Middle East during their meeting. “We are appalled by the emerging scope of the atrocities committed by the terrorists of Hamas,” Austin said. “Our hearts go out to all those whose loved ones were murdered or wounded or taken hostage. No country would live with the wholesale killing and kidnapping of innocent people, including the very old and the very young.”
In response to the terror attacks out of Gaza, the United States moved naval and aviation assets to the Eastern Mediterranean and Persian Gulf region to reinforce deterrence. “Nobody should try to take advantage of this vile Hamas assault to cause more bloodshed or instability,” Austin said. “Our support for Israel is rock solid. We’re working urgently to get Israel what it needs to defend itself, including munitions and Iron Dome interceptors. And we will do so, even as we continue to support the people of Ukraine as they fight against Russian aggression.”
This was the first defense ministers’ meeting since the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, over the summer. He noted that leaders at the summit welcomed Finland as a member of the alliance, and he called for the immediate accession of Sweden to the defensive organization.
Austin said the defense leaders discussed the alliance’s new regional defense plans and the progress on the new multinational and multidomain allied reaction force. “This new force will provide more response options to threats and crises across all domains,” he said. The ministers also discussed the defense investment pledge. That pledge re-affirmed the commitment of alliance nations to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. “Let me also underscore the words of ‘at least 2 percent’: We urgently need to do more to fulfill the commitments that all of our leaders have made,” he said.
The ministers examined ways to strengthen defense industrial bases in the various countries with an eye toward improving alliance interoperability.
Overarching all this is the discussion about Ukraine and the alliance’s enduring commitment to a free and sovereign Ukraine. Ukrainian forces continue to make steady progress against Russians occupying their country, Austin said, and NATO nations have been critical in helping the nation keep up the fight.
“I am tremendously proud of all the progress that NATO has made,” the secretary said. “We still got a lot more to do, but we will get it done together.”
The NATO nations are living up to the commitments they have made. “Let me be clear, NATO is a defensive alliance,” Austin said. “We will not be drawn into Putin’s illegal war of choice, but we will stand up for Ukraine’s right to defend itself. And we will continue to strengthen this alliance for the challenges to come. And we will defend the sovereignty and territory of every NATO ally. America’s commitment to that mission is ironclad, and so is our commitment to Article 5” of the North Atlantic Treaty. According to NATO, that language invokes principle of collective defense. (Source: US DoD)
11 Oct 23. Army leaders see Latin America as backyard test bed for military tech. The work that U.S. Southern Command is best known for — counternarcotics — is only one challenge the often-overlooked theater faces.
“You need to pause and understand the threat in this area of operations is real and it goes well beyond counternarcotics,” said Maj. Gen. Dusty Shultz, the command’s director of intelligence.
Shultz spoke on a panel here Oct. 10 at the annual Association of the U.S. Army Meeting and Exposition alongside Gen. Laura Richardson, head of U.S. Southern Command and her staff to pitch the Latin America theater as a backyard test bed for new technology, training and a testing option for both industry and military units.
Richardson has characterized SOUTHCOM as the “first island chain” for the United States. The island chain reference is a nod to the geographical and strategic features of the Pacific, with a series of island chains semi-encompassing China’s mainland, spreading out into the wider Pacific.
The combined security needs and proximity to the United States make the theater a prime location for experimenting with and testing new technologies that could also be used in other theaters, officials said.
Beyond similar terrain features and geography, SOUTHCOM resembles other aspects of what the Army faces in the Indo-Pacific Theater — a collection of nations with varying degrees of capabilities and allegiances.
The intelligence officer said that of the $300bn in illicit activity in the region by transnational criminal organizations, one-third, or $100bn is related to narcotics trafficking. The other $200bn comes from unregulated fishing, deforestation and mineral harvesting in U.S. partner nations. Much of that leads direction back to the Chinese government and military influence in the region, which is growing, she said.
At the same time, multiple online disinformation platforms run by Russian agents have large followings in Latin America, Shultz said. One example includes Sputnik Mundo, which has 31 million followers in the region.
Of the 31 nations in the area, 22 have projects with China in its “Belt and Road Initiative,” she said. The initiative is a series of infrastructure projects that many experts have called a kind of predatory lending program that the Chinese government has used to gain access and control in multiple countries across the world.
To simultaneously maintain security in the Western hemisphere, at the southern flank of the United States, and counter Chinese military incursions, SOUTHCOM leaders look to inject technology experimentation into its series of eight annual exercises.
Those include UNITAS and Tradewinds, two exercises that have existed for decades.
“We have willing partners and a permissive environment,” Greene said. In four hours or less, U.S. units can be in the region for training. And since it’s far from mainland China or Russia, exercises have less of a chance of escalating any existing tensions with those adversaries.
Within those exercises, Col. Anne-Marie Wiersgalla, communications director for the command, said that the region serves as an ideal testing arena for the Army’s Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2 efforts.
That’s because the way that commanders must share intelligence in the region varies widely. The United States partners with two dozen nations, all with different levels of access to classified or secret information.
In the past, that’s meant “walled gardens” on networks, Wiersgalla said. The problem with those walled gardens is that they’re not flexible enough to adjust for the variety of mission sets.
When responding to a mass immigrant migration across multiple countries, the United States may need to share certain information it wouldn’t share in a counternarcotics operation with certain partners.
Operations in SOUTHCOM allow commanders to adjust the levels of access as needed, which is part of the “data-centric” approach that the Army needs when working with such information, the colonel said.
Efforts with partners in the region go beyond sharing Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance feeds.
Marine Col. Douglas Burke, head of SOUTHCOM logistics, said that Colombia is building out depot-level maintenance for its helicopter fleet. The plan now is to share that expertise with other partner nations in the area. (Source: glstrade.com/Army Times)
10 Oct 23. US Army’s multidomain task force units could bring in allies, partners. The U.S. Army’s multidomain task force units could see elements that include allies and partners, according to the head of U.S. Army Pacific.
“We’re actually doing some work right now with the third MDTF in Hawaii to create conditions for a combined MDTF,” Gen. Charles Flynn told Defense News on Oct. 9 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. “Australia is moving five officers this summer — summer of 2024 — to Hawaii so we can build out a combined element of the multidomain task force”
The service’s first MDTF was experimental, but since then the Army has operationalized its existing units and determined it will grow at least four more. The Army established that initial one at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state around 2018. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command theater exercises helped inform the Army’s Multi-Domain Operations warfighting concept, which has now evolved into doctrine.
The Army then established another MDTF in Europe in 2021, and another last year in Hawaii.
The units are designed to operate across all domains — land, air, sea, space and cyberspace — and are equipped with the Army’s growing capabilities, including long-range precision fires.
Earlier this year, the now-retired Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville made a case to deploy the fourth MDTF in the Indo-Pacific region, bringing the number of MDTFs in that theater to three. Flynn agreed that the fourth MDTF should deploy to the Pacific. For that unit, the Army is still considering specific locations in the region, Flynn explained.
The Army is also considering how it could include Japan in an MDTF, similar to an evaluation for Australia.
Japan’s National Security Strategy and its defense forces’ cross-domain operations doctrine could align well with the intent of multidomain task forces.
“There’s obviously a great deal of synergy in the organizational constructs that they’re trying to create and compare and contrast to what we learned by building the multidomain task force,” Flynn said.
The third MDTF, and the second in the Pacific, just completed a deployment to participate in Talisman Sabre, a large-scale exercise with Australia.
And now the MDTF is working in the Philippines using its Combined Information and Effects Fusion Cell to combine open-source maritime and air applications in a common operational picture so the Philippines’ joint commands “can actually see into the maritime and air littorals, which is out in their exclusion zone, so that they can then track friendly or adversary actions that are happening” in those domains, Flynn explained.
The domain awareness from land, Flynn added, allows military commanders or political leaders to make well-informed decisions.
But the most important part of MDTFs are their multidomain effects battalions, Flynn noted.
“I like to refer to it as sort of the targeting brain that brings together all source information, intelligence, electronic warfare, space and cyber tracks, [as well as command, control, computers, communications, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], but also can conduct counter-C5ISR so that we can provide intel support to joint [targeting],” he said. “It is designed from the land to see, sense and understand into all the domains, and then to be able to share that information with the joint force.” (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
11 Oct 23. Congressional calls for Iranian assets to be re-frozen; increased sanctions, compliance risks. On 10 October, Democratic Senators Jon Tester and Joe Manchin called on the Biden administration to halt the USD6bn in assets earmarked under a deal which recently enabled a prisoner swap between the US and Iran. Manchin has called instead for ‘additional sanctions’ to be imposed on Iran. Twenty Senate Republicans also issued a letter to President Biden on 10 October calling for pending funds to be frozen. The calls for assets to be once again frozen comes amid allegations that Iran provided military training and ms of dollars in weapons to Hamas militants who launched the attack against Israel on 7 October. With the US having already demonstrated significant support for Israel, in both political statements and military deployments, it is possible that pending Iranian assets will be frozen again. The risk of bilateral tensions between the US and Iran is highly likely to increase. Risks for further sanctions also remain elevated, with the likelihood of increased compliance risks for companies with ties to such entities. (Source: Sibylline)
10 Oct 23. “We don’t have decades to rebuild” the submarine industrial base, says industry. Despite efforts to build and maintain submarines – an industry known to fall behind the required level of capability needed to support the US Navy – Bartlett Maritime calls for more to be done.
American shipbuilding industry players, also known as the Marine Machinery Association (MMA), gathered to listen to Bartlett Maritime’s proposal for rejuvenating submarine production for the Navy on 5 October.
Edward Bartlett – the founder and CEO of Bartlett Maritime, a corporation with the expressed purpose of assisting the US Navy with the resolution of the submarine capability shortfall – declared the crisis had become “an inescapable, urgent problem.”
Bartlett told the MMA that while their efforts to improve submarine maintenance in the last few years have been helpful, more must be done.
“While these efforts clearly remain vital and are having a positive impact, it is equally clear that both additional industrial infrastructure and access to an expanded labour pool are needed.”
Delays in maintenance are keeping submarines from operating at sea at an unprecedented rate. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) revealed on 25 September that the number of attack submarines (SSNs) either in depot maintenance or idle (i.e., awaiting depot maintenance) has increased from 11 boats (about 21% of the SSN force) in FY2012 to 18 boats (about 37% of the SSN force) as of May 2023.
The resulting reduction of available submarines decreases fleet readiness and damages the Navy’s warfighting capability amidst rising concerns about increasing danger of conflict at sea.
This doesn’t help when the Navy’s proposed FY2024 budget requests $32.8bn in shipbuilding funding for, among other things, the procurement of nine new ships, including one of the most advanced submarines ever to be constructed – the Columbia (SSBN-826) class ballistic missile submarine, as well as two more Virginia (SSN-774) class attack submarines.
Jumping from the Navy’s inability to produce a Columbia class boat under FY2023, aiming to deliver this vessel as well as two SSNs in FY24 may be considered wishful thinking.
Referring to the current risk of conflict on the world stage today, Bartlett stated that “we must be creative and pro-active to help the Navy return to robustness in an accelerated manner. We don’t have decades to rebuild,” given America’s competition with China in technological capability and in terms of naval force structure.
Nonetheless, the solution lies in “fixing the fundamental underlying maintenance capacity and capability problem and to dramatically accelerate our submarine overhauls.”
Bartlett Maritime proposed developing new facilities for repairing and rotating submarine components as a first step.
The company’s founder called on members of the MMA to support Bartlett Maritime’s proposal or some action just as timely, affordable and effective to solving the problem quickly.
Can the US Government’s SIOP resolve the submarine crisis?
In its report on the US Navy’s shipbuilding plans, the CRS asks industry will implementing the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP) — the Navy’s 20-year plan for investing in the modernisation of facilities at the four government-operated shipyards — provide enough capacity at the facilities to meet the overhaul, repair, and modernisation needs for the nuclear-powered ships (including, potentially, an increased number of attack submarines) in a larger Navy?
However, it may be that money is not the problem in this case. Continued investment in an industrial base that is known for its poor schedule estimates and risk analyses may simply be going down the drain.
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) explained in June that the Navy us unable to provide a full cost and schedule estimate for SIOP, and reports that it will not be able to do so until at least 2025.
It appears that problems from the very start of production – in lacking cost and schedules estimates and continually updating this information – in an administrative capacity is a big part of the delays, especially as naval platforms become ever more sophisticated. (Source: naval-technology.com)
10 Oct 23. US Army mulls attack drones, ground robots for Replicator. The U.S. Army could contribute one-way attack drones and ground-based robotics to the Pentagon’s nascent Replicator initiative, which aims to deploy autonomous systems en masse to counter Chinese stockpiles.
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks rolled out the venture in August, calling for thousands of attritable systems in the field in the next 18 to 24 months. Details have been scant regarding sourcing and validation of the systems as well as how the U.S. will dispatch them so quickly.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth on Oct. 9 said the service has “a number of areas that would be right for Replicator,” including UAVs “of all sizes.” The service is in close coordination with the defense secretary’s office.
“Obviously UAVs, both using them as sensors and as deliverers of payloads, and also defending against them, are key on the battlefield,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington. “Some of the loitering munitions that we have could be candidates for Replicator. And then, finally, perhaps some of our ground robots.”
The U.S. military and its private industry suppliers are embracing unmanned and autonomous technologies amid preparations for a potential war with Russia and China. A fight with either power would likely cover vast distances and be flooded with precision sensors, powerful jammers and long-range weaponry.
Drones and other robots, officials say, can extend spying, targeting and logistics while also reducing human risk and workload. Exhibits at AUSA this week were dotted with uncrewed equipment, from Anduril Industries’ target-ramming Anvil to the rugged Textron Systems Ripsaw robot.
“Replicator, that’s a very new initiative,” Wormuth said. “We’re still exploring how the Army can fit into that.”
The Replicator undertaking is made possible by a reorganization of existing funds. It is expected to cost hundreds of ms of dollars, Defense News previously reported. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Homeland Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company