01 Apr 21. Exercise Reveals Advantages Artificial Intelligence Gives in All-Domain Ops. U.S. Northern Command hosted a global information dominance exercise and the results point to the tremendous advantages the Defense Department would receive by applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to all-domain information, Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck said yesterday. VanHerck, who commands NorthCom, detailed the results of the exercise during a virtual meeting with the Defense Writers’ Group.
All 11 combatant commands participated in the exercise, which was based on a global scenario involving two peer competitors. “What we were looking to do is show the incredible value of information and how information can be used today,” he said.
This is especially true if commanders can take information from all domains — undersea, space, cyberspace, air, land, sea and share it through machine-learning artificial intelligence, he said. This would serve to make data and information available in a timely manner to produce space for decision makers.
The decision makers could be at the tactical level all the way up to the president of the United States, VanHerck said. “You can use it in competition day-to-day; you can use it in crisis for de-escalation and, obviously, in conflict for ‘defeat or deny,’ if needed,” he said.
The exercise pointed to the fact that some of these capabilities are already available to commanders. “I did [this exercise] with the intent to bring all the combatant commands together to place a demand signal … on the department to move quicker down the path of domain awareness, information dominance and decision superiority,” VanHerck said.
The general said the capability in DOD is called Joint All-Domain Command and Control – JADCC. “We need to go faster; we can’t go slow for legacy processes to take years to build capabilities,” he said. “That was my intent: to show that capabilities exist today to go down this path.”
The exercise really demonstrated the need for military global integration. “All competition through conflict today is global in nature, and the tools gave us the ability to collaborate with all the combatant commands near real-time across all domains,” he said.
VanHerck also addressed the command’s efforts to combat COVID-19. “We’re down to one hospital that we’re currently embedded in right now in Kingman, Arizona. When that mission ceases, we’ll have no more [military personnel health] providers embedded in local hospitals,” he said. “I’m encouraged by that. That’s a good trend that we’re not having the mission to provide support to local and state authorities for the treatment of COVID patients.”
Northern Command is preparing to deploy more service members to provide the Federal Emergency Management Agency with vaccine support. There are currently 25 military teams with 3,562 personnel deployed at multiple locations across 14 states providing vaccination support. On March 30, the teams gave more than 60,000 vaccinations. “We just went over 1.6 million vaccinations as we continue to move forward,” the general said.
The command will place four more teams in the first week of April. (Source: US DoD)
31 Mar 21. Role reversal: Marine artillery and infantry swap roles in exercises preparing for a littoral fight. Marine infantry and artillery experienced a bit of a role reversal in March while the 12th Marine Regiment conducted exercises putting to the test Marine Corps expeditionary advanced base operations. The regiment, with units based out of Okinawa, Japan, and Hawaii, conducted two simultaneous exercises in March that put the artillery unit as the main focus with the infantry taking on a supporting role.
“Historically we had what’s called direct support ― artillery supported the infantry as they secured an objective,” Col. Michael Roach, commander of 12th Marines, told Marine Corps Times. “In this case we were the supported force, so in both exercises an infantry unit was attached to the artillery unit, so that’s a change. We had artillery officers as mission commanders for infantry forces.”
The role reversal is part of the Marine Corps’ plan to prepare for a littoral fight against a near-peer competitor.
The plan, pushed by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger since he took over the Corps in 2019, will see a smaller, lighter, more maneuverable Marine Corps, armed with heavier long-range weapons, acting as a skirmish line dispersed through the littorals of the future battlefield.
Through long-range fires, electronic warfare and maybe even submarine-hunting the Marines would clear the way for the Navy to launch its campaign and help deliver a knockout blow with the rest of the joint force.
The new strategy de-emphasizes the infantry while putting the priority on whatever the Navy needs from the Marine Corps to complete its mission. Often those needs will be long-range fires capable of sinking enemy ships. During the two exercises the regiment took and held key islands on both sides of the Pacific Ocean where a mix of HIMARS and traditional M777 cannons deployed in support of the Navy’s mission.
“We are coming in with stealth, extending the reach of our long-range fires, and working on our ability to sustain that as long as the maritime force needs us to control an access point to the sea lines of communication,” Lt. Col. Roe Lemons, commander of 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, said in a press release about the exercises.
On the island of le Shima, Japan, Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion (headquartered on Okinawa, Japan) alongside Army and Air Force special forces units conducted a quick raid that secured the enemy airfield.
The elite troops conducted a freefall out the back of Marine Corps MV-22B Ospreys under the cover of darkness.
Once on the island and the notional enemy was neutralized the force surveyed and secured an airfield that soon saw Marine F-35Bs from Fighter Attack Squadron 121 land.
Soon after the F-35Bs showed up, Ospreys and CH-53E Super Stallions dropped over Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, on the island to set up the defense for an expeditionary advanced base where 12th Marines’ artillery set up to provide fires for the Navy, a press release about the exercises said.
“This event illustrated how Special Operations Forces capabilities can support the rapid deployment of 3d Marine Division’s long-range precision fires platforms into austere or remote locations,” Army Lt. Col. Erik Davis said in the release.
The special forces were not the only units to aid the exercises.
Soldiers and airmen from Army’s I Corps Multi-Domain Task Force, 25th Infantry Division, 1st Air Defense Artillery Regiment and 8th Theater Sustainment Command, were all involved, a press release said.
Even the Space Force took part in the joint exercises, the release said.
Eventually firing positions were set up in both Hawaii and Okinawa, Japan, with ultimate command and control of both exercises coming from the headquarters element of 12th Marines in Japan.
“It was a truly distributed, I would say distributed oceanic operation,” Roach said.
Once the artillery positions were in place the symbiotic relationship between the Marine Corps and Navy really began to shine, with the Corps using sensors on Navy ships to help spot targets, giving the Marines the opportunity to hit targets they normally would never even see.
“Having those multiple sensors that we can access for greater situational awareness will help compress our decision cycle, which is going to be the key to success in any future battlefield,” Roach said.
During the two exercises the artillery regiment took a close look at how to sustain an expeditionary advanced base long term.
In a traditional ground campaign Marines can rely on ground transportation to meet their logistical needs, a task the Marine Corps is more than capable of handling itself.
“One of the things that we see limitations, but we also see opportunity, is how do you sustain a force that’s on an island that is harder to reach,” Roach said.
In these exercises the artillery unit was able to work more directly with the logistics and air wing side of the Marine Corps to supply the bases, Roach said.
While the exercises were ambitious in scale, it was only one of the unit’s first steps in testing its capabilities and training to the new concept.
For future exercises Roach would like 12th Marines to work with regional allies in dispersed operations, while incorporating more unscripted force on force elements. (Source: Marine Times)
29 Mar 21. UAE-hosted annual multinational exercise Desert Flag VI concludes. The UAE-hosted annual multi-lateral large force employment exercise Desert Flag-VI has concluded at Al-Dhafra airbase.
IAF participates in UAE-hosted Exercise Desert Flag-VI. Credit: Ministry of Defence / Press Information Bureau / Government of India.
The UAE-hosted annual multi-lateral large force employment exercise Desert Flag-VI has concluded at Al-Dhafra airbase.
The exercise saw participation from airforces of France, the US, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Bahrain.
Jordan, Greece, Qatar, Egypt and South Korea served as observer forces in the exercise.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) took part in the exercise for the first time. Desert Flag-VI started on 3 March and ran until 27 March.
According to a statement issued by the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD), the IAF participated with six Su-30 MKI, two C-17 and one IL-78 tanker aircraft in the exercise.
The MoD said in a statement: “IAF has been actively participating in operational international exercises, wherein collaborative engagements are enhanced. A multinational exercise in UAE with friendly forces afforded a unique opportunity to gain valuable learning to all the participating forces.
“The knowledge gained, lessons learnt and bonds made during the course of Ex Desert Flag-VI will go a long way in bolstering professional capabilities of the participating forces.”
The exercise provided an opportunity for participating forces to improve their operational capabilities and interoperability. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
30 Mar 21. Leonardo and CAE form JV to support IFTS operations in Italy. Defence company Leonardo and simulation technologies provider CAE have created a joint venture (JV) known as ‘Leonardo CAE Advanced Jet Training’.
Defence company Leonardo and simulation technologies provider CAE have created a joint venture (JV) known as ‘Leonardo CAE Advanced Jet Training’.
The JV will support the operations of the International Flight Training School (IFTS) in Italy. It will provide training support services, including full maintenance and operation of the M-346 fighter trainer aircraft and its ground-based training system. Furthermore, the joint venture will support the operation of IFTS base facilities.
The IFTS is a strategic collaboration between the Italian Air Force (ItAF) and Leonardo that has been created to deliver fighter training to the ItAF and other international customers.
Based on Phase IV of the ItAF syllabus, the IFTS is an advanced training programme that can rely on the M-346 ground-based training system.
The M-346 Master is an advanced and lead-in fifth-generation fighter trainer developed by Finmeccanica company Alenia Aermacchi (Italy).
It features a range of embedded training capabilities ‘enabling extensive live, virtual and constructive training’.
Leonardo Aircraft Division managing director Marco Zoff said: “The joint venture represents the ideal framework to further leverage our successful collaboration on the M-346 ground-based training system while ensuring us the agility and flexibility to meet challenging and tailored customer requirements.”
The new JV Leonardo CAE Advanced Jet Training’ will manage and conduct the daily operations of the IFTS.
According to Leonardo, the IFTS will operate a fleet of 22 M-346 advanced jet trainer jets.
CAE Defence and Security International vice-president and general manager Marc-Olivier Sabourin said: “CAE and Leonardo have a longstanding industrial relationship and we are pleased to invest jointly with Leonardo and the Italian Air Force in this groundbreaking public-private partnership to operate the International Flight Training School.
“The partnership between Leonardo and CAE will support the M-346 Integrated Training System, which is a pivotal element of a modern and innovative Lead-In to Fighter Training (LIFT) programme for next-generation pilots.”
Currently, IFTS is located at 61st Wing in near the Italian AFB and will be relocated to Decimomannu Italian AFB starting from next year. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
29 Mar 21. Zumwalt Destroyer will Control Unmanned Aircraft and Ships in Pacific Exercises. The US Navy will get a first glimpse of what future operations could look like, when a Zumwalt-class destroyer manages long-range surveillance and fires by manned and unmanned platforms in an upcoming exercise in the Pacific.
U.S. Pacific Fleet will host its most complex exercise to date involving unmanned systems, with next month’s Fleet Battle Problem exercise including unmanned aircraft on the water’s surface and in the air and USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) commanding and controlling the missions.
As the Navy tries to convey the seriousness with which it plans to pursue a fleet overhaul to incorporate manned-unmanned teaming into almost everything the service does, this upcoming exercise will show off how far the sea service has come in technology and concept of operations (CONOPS) development and what work still remains.
“The Unmanned Campaign Framework states it is imperative that we understand what our future force will need to operate both in day-to-day competition as well as high-end combat. The event being held in the 3rd Fleet operational area, under the guidance of U.S. Pacific Fleet, is exploring elements of that future force that will have the greatest impact on increasing the fleet’s lethality,” U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Tim Pietrack said.
“Through operational scenarios, what we learn from this event will provide pertinent and timely input to the Naval Research Enterprise and the acquisition community, to better inform unmanned system development moving forward.”
USNI News previously reported that a Zumwalt destroyer would be integrated into the complex exercise this spring, alongside unmanned surface vessels – both the Zumwalt DDGs and medium and large unmanned surface vessels fall under the same developmental squadron for concept of operations development and fleet introduction – but the Navy today revealed more details about this event.
“This event will incorporate many unmanned capabilities and unmanned capability enablers, including the Super Swarm project, the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vessels (MDUSV) Sea Hunter and Sea Hawk, the MQ-8B Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), and the MQ-9 Sea Guardian UAV,” Pietrack said.
The Navy has already used the first MUSV prototype, Sea Hunter, in several exercises and fleet familiarization events through the Surface Development Squadron-1 (SURFDEVRON). SURFDEVRON was expecting to take control of the second vessel, newly renamed Sea Hawk, in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2021, making it available to also participate in the April event.
“The MDUSV Sea Hunter and Sea Hawk will support manned fleet units by integrating various payloads to assist in anti-submarine warfare and building maritime domain awareness. The continued assessment of the autonomous capability of both Sea Hunter and Sea Hawk have led to great advances in reliability and compliance with collision provision regulations for autonomous surface vehicles,” Pietrack said. USNI News previously reported that Sea Hunter had conducted operations with a towed array for anti-submarine warfare and with an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) package for maritime domain awareness.
In the air, “the MQ-9 Sea Guardian will expand the traditional role of the MQ-9 by working with Navy and Marine Corps systems in both scouting missions and anti-submarine warfare missions,” Pietrack said.
The Marines are using the MQ-9A extended range aircraft today in U.S. Central Command and plan to explain their fleet to conduct mission over land and oversea, and contractor General Atomic has pitched the SeaGuardian MQ-9B as a potential tool for ASW operations.
“The Fire Scout, which will conduct operations from a Littoral Combat Ship, is designed to integrate with both Navy and U.S. Marine Corps units,” Pietrack added.
Heading up the event is Monsoor, which “will use the ship’s unique capabilities to command and control manned and unmanned forces to conduct long-range, multi-domain fires.”
The Navy has seen some success – both in technological development and securing support from lawmakers in Congress – with unmanned systems that are smaller and focused on a particular mission, such as the mine countermeasures unmanned surface vehicle, formerly called the common USV (CUSV), which had a clear purpose to carry a minesweeper and then later a minehunting sensor package. As the Navy tried to scale up to larger platforms like the Sea Hunter MUSV and the Overload Large USV prototype, though, lawmakers have had a lot of questions about the technical risk of such programs, as well as how well thought out the CONOPS were and if the Navy knew what it really needed to buy to complete the missions it envisioned conducting with larger-sized USVs.
Fleet Battle Problem will be the first opportunity to use two MUSVs in an exercise and to integrate them with unmanned aircraft.
The Zumwalt-class destroyers have been something of a ship class without a focus since the Navy stopped work on the long-range rounds for the DDG-1000 advanced weapon system and the ship was switched from a land-attack focus to a blue-water maritime strike focus. Aside from talk of installing hypersonic anti-ship missiles onto the Zumwalts, it’s been a bit unclear how the three-ship class might be used. This demonstration could provide a path forward, if the advanced destroyer and its significant space and power margin onboard prove useful as a mothership to unmanned craft in multiple domains. (Source: UAS VISION/USNI News)
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