By Stew Magnuson
Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis
A proposal to put separate leaders in charge of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command would be a “risk” because the structure in place is working well the way it is, the second highest ranking military officer in the organizations said Dec. 5.
“In my personal opinion, it works pretty darn good the way it works right now. We have figured out a way to make this work and get my job done,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, deputy commander of Cyber Command said in Arlington, Va., at a National Defense Industrial Association breakfast.
Davis’ boss, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, currently commands both the civilian NSA, and the military’s relatively new Cyber Command. He has announced in October his intention to step down by March or April. This came after months of news reports about NSA spying activity, which was revealed by former NSA and CIA employee Edward Snowden.
Since the announcement, the Obama administration has floated the idea of putting two different leaders in charge of the two organizations, which are co-located at Fort Meade, Md.
Davis in his speech painted a picture of a newly formed command, which is still in its infancy. It is in the process of training 6,000 highly skilled cyberwarriors, he said.
“By pulling us out of that umbrella right now, there is certainly some risk there,” he said.
“I’m a military guy so I plan for the worse case. And I know that our political leadership might do that,” he said. The organizations are actively planning as if the proposal will go through, he said. Policy, procedures, authorities, and transition of authorities are being looked at “to make sure Cyber Command doesn’t lose any speed if they decide to have two people,” Davis said.
“We will not miss a beat. We’re going to make it work,” he added.
Cyber Command is in the process of organizing and training two different types of teams that will go out and assist military entities. One is intended to deploy with combatant commanders. The other can go to any military organization and bolster its network defenses.
There will be 27 teams that will be allocated to the co-coms. “We are talking about empowering combatant commanders and giving them the tools they need to fight their fight,” he said.
“They will be trained to go out there in enemy space, build networks, map networks, build the intelligence they need to know if the threat is actually real, get the indications and warnings that something bad is about to happen, and also to be able to take action if need be,” Davis said.
They can prepare a target for a cyber-attack if there is an official order to do so, he added.
There will also be 68 cyber protection teams, each with about 40 personnel, and containing five subcomponents, he said.
A white team will come into an organization to do an inspection of its computer defenses. A blue team will patch any of the gaps the white team discovers.
“Blue teams to do patching for weak networks. 'Your network is a piece of junk. But here’s what you can do to make it a better piece of junk,'” he added.
A green team will sort out who among the personnel in an organization lack the proper training for how to defend networks, and then get them retrained.
After that work is done, a red team comes in to attack the system and discover any vulnerabilities. The fifth team, the hunters, will go into systems and look for malicious code, and “bad actors,” Davis said.
Red and hunter team personnel will be the most highly skilled among the team members and will undergo two years of training, Davis added.
Cyber Command and the NSA have also formed a research-and-development program called Joint-9, a secretive Skunk Works-like organization that will develop “tools,” he said. It will be housed in a facility at Fort Meade and will be co-led by an NSA employee and an Army colonel, both with computer science Ph.Ds.
Trained as a Marine Corps aviator, and having no experience with cybersecurity prior to Alexander naming him as the command’s deputy, Davis has brought a more regimented military approach to the job. Training, readiness and accountability were major parts of his speech.
“I will tell you right now we don’t even have a way to measure readiness. We’re working on that. We’re getting there. But 18 months ago, we didn’t even measure readiness,” he said.
If a network is compromised, the first instinct is to shut it down and isolate it. That is not going to be possible, he said. “Am I going to unplug it in the middle of a fight? Absolutely not.” Combatant commanders will have to work through problems, he said.
Cyber Command once asked the services to map their networks. They came back a few days later and said it was impossible. “How can I defend what I can’t even map?” he asked. “If I don’t know where my perimeter is, how can I defend that?”
The problem is that military networks were designed for communication, not defending, he said. He likened them to the F-18s he once flew. There were 32 lots manufactured by Boeing, and they all had some variations, but a trained pilot like himself could fly them all.
“Imagine if there were 32,000 lots of F-18s all different, built by different factories all over the world,” he said. And then each wing commander took each aircraft and modified it as he saw fit. That is what Cyber Command is facing with the thousands of computer systems it must defend.
“We need to treat our IT like weapon systems. If we treat it like a weapon system, we won’t have half the problems we have now,” he said.
As far as accountability is concerned, if he let his F-18 roll off the runway after a landing, he would be taken off the job, made to “pee in a cup,” and there would be an investigation to see if he was still qualified to fly. It will be the same with personnel charged with guarding military networks whose errors led to a cyber-attack. he said.
Whether the person who let the defenses down are contractors, union members, civilians or military personnel, he has the authority to treat them the same way as a pilot who makes a major error. There will be an investigation to find out if the cause is laziness, a lack of training or something more nefarious such as an insider threat.
“One thing I can do is pull people off the network and deny them the ability to log on … We’re going to do that for everybody,” he said.
Photo Credit: Navy
By Yasmin Tadjdeh
After several years of development, a new ground-based multi-mission radar able to detect cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles is nearly ready for low-rate initial production.
The AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) system, built by Northrop Grumman, is set to replace five of the Marine Corps' single-mission radar systems, Robert Lee Bond, the service's program manager for G/ATOR said Dec. 4 during a demonstration at the Pentagon.
"Our purpose in being here is to be sure that … the Department of Defense leadership acknowledges that we've had a successful test run and it's time to enter low-rate production," said Bond.
G/ATOR will be able to detect aerial threats such as UAVs and cruise missiles, said Bond. The system is mobile and can be transported by various aircraft such as the C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster.
The system recently completed developmental testing at Marine Air Control Squadron, in Yuma, Ariz. While there, Bond said the radar was able to pick out a number of aerial threats. Operators initially ran into "glitchy" software issues, but have since fixed them, he said.
"We took some time in our test program to work that out and make sure we had it right. A system that used to move towards a 'blue screen of death' type scenario after a few hours now runs for several days with no such problems," Bond said.
Once the system passes Milestone C, low-rate production of the radar will begin. Initially, the service is looking to procure up to eight systems per year. While sequestration could take a bite out of the numbers, Bond said that President Obama's 2014 budget proposal has enough funds to cover most of the production.
"The budget the president requested for '14 contains all the funds necessary to begin making the G/ATORS in annual quantities of anywhere from two to four to eight systems a year. The total requirement is 57 to equip every Marine unit that needs one ... in the next five to seven years," Bond said.
The radar will be useful in the Asia-Pacific region, said Marine Corps Maj. Michael S. Keane, an air defense officer.
Many potential future adversaries are investing in cruise missile technology, said Keane, and G/ATOR is able to detect those threats.
G/ATOR will replace radar systems that are 20 to 30 years old, Keane said.
Bond said G/ATOR has been designed to interoperate with joint and allied command and control systems.
Northrop is expecting additional G/ATOR business from the Navy and Air Force, said Mike Meaney, director for ground based tactical radars at the company. Last month, Northrop was awarded a $6 million, 18-month Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar study contract by the Office of Naval Research to replace aging SPS-48 and SPS-49 air surveillance radars aboard some ships.
Meaney said that integrating the radar onto Navy vessels will present new obstacles. "We're looking at what changes do I make to make it fit on a ship," said Meaney. "When I put it on a ship, I have a different environment [than with the Marines], and in many ways it's less stressing and in some ways it's more stressing."
Northrop also plans to put in a proposal for the Air Force's Three Dimensional Expeditionary Long Range Radar program. The company is expected to offer the G/ATOR radar for the program. Proposals are due this month.
The company has also been in talks with some foreign nations, though Meaney would not disclose specific countries.
Photo Credit: Yasmin Tadjdeh
By Sandra I. Erwin
As part of a sweeping reorganization of the office of the secretary of defense, as many as 500 positions could be eliminated over the next five years. The cuts will mostly affect contractor-help jobs, as well as some senior civilian posts.
“We will detail our plans to achieve these savings in the President’s budget submission next year,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Dec. 4 at a Pentagon news conference.
Hagel already had announced in July he intended to downsize OSD headquarters by 20 percent — one of several cost-cutting measures he proposed in the so-called Strategic Choices and Management Review that outlined how the military would live with smaller budgets.
Hagel said the OSD reorganization is only one piece of a broader “institutional reform” effort that is needed to resize the Pentagon bureaucracy for leaner times. He said he would ask Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to propose similar reductions within his staff.
The restructuring will be based on recommendations by former Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, who was appointed by Hagel to lead a review panel. About 2,400 public-sector civilians, contractors and military officials work at OSD.
Pentagon officials must begin taking actions immediately in order to meet the 20 percent budget reduction goals by fiscal year 2019, Hagel said. “Much of these savings will be achieved through contractor reductions, although there will be reductions in civilian personnel.” Anticipated dollar savings are about $1 billion over five years.
OSD reforms will include the following:
• The office of the undersecretary of defense for policy will eliminate some senior executive service (SES) positions, including a deputy undersecretary of defense and an SES chief of staff. The plan phases out the SES-led Task Force on Business and Stability Operations, and realigns the portfolios of the five assistant secretaries of defense for policy. Four deputy assistant secretary of defense positions and their corresponding support structure will be axed through a consolidation and realignment of the overall staff.
• The deputy chief management officer position will be strengthened. The office of the director of administration and management will be folded under the DCMO. “Secretary Donley’s review found that since its inception, the DCMO has lacked the resources and mandate to effectively fulfill its role as a DoD-wide manager,” Hagel said.
• The DCMO office will become the focal point for DoD-wide management, administration and business oversight. Hagel will transfer responsibility for business information-technology systems from DCMO to the Pentagon’s chief information officer. This will “strengthen DoD’s ability to address growing IT and cyber challenges,” Hagel said. The undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics will continue to be responsible for acquisition of IT systems.
• Intelligence oversight and privacy compliance functions will be consolidated. The office of the assistant to the secretary of
defense for intelligence oversight and the defense privacy and civil liberties offices be combined into a single organization that will be aligned under the DCMO.
• The office of net assessment — which conducts long-term strategic planning and war gaming — will report to the undersecretary of defense for policy. “This change will better ensure that its long-range comparative analyses inform and influence DoD’s overall strategy and policy,” Hagel said.
• The acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness will be directed to consolidate positions across three assistant secretaries of defense.
• The undersecretary of defense for intelligence will reduce staffing levels and programs.
• The five remaining deputy undersecretaries of defense who are not presidentially appointed or Senate-confirmed will be eliminated. Hagel said this complies with direction from Congress.
The cutbacks will help the Defense Department absorb only a small portion of the $500 billion in spending cuts prescribed in the Budget Control Act, which mandates across the board reductions for all federal agencies.
Defense analysts have long criticized the Pentagon for delaying staff reductions at a time when the military is having to pare back training and cancel other important functions because of the sequester cuts. Since sequestration took effect in March, Army training has plummeted, aircraft have been idled and fewer ships have been deployed. Meanwhile, the Pentagon continues to spend about half its budget on administrative overhead that contributes little to nothing to military war-fighting missions, said a September study by Stimson Center, a non-partisan think tank. Closing bases, firing civilians and eliminating contractor jobs are politically unpopular measures, but the alternative is to keep gutting the military's combat capabilities, the study said.
Philip Odeen, a member of both the Stimson advisory group and the Pentagon's Defense Business Board, said the financial weight of defense overhead is gradually sinking the military. Infrastructure and overhead amount to about $235 billion a year, or nearly half the entire defense budget. "None of that is related to fighting forces. That's a substantial target to go after." Military and civilian department headquarters alone consume $40 billion of that bill, he said. These are purely administrative functions with no responsibility for directing troops, he says.
By simply removing layers of management, the Pentagon could save $4 billion a year, said Odeen. "We have multiple layers" of management everywhere, he noted.
In the private sector, said Odeen, "companies took big actions. They cut pay, they closed facilities. ... In almost every case, as we talked to these leaders, they agreed, years later, that their organizations are stronger and more effective after having taken all these layers out," he said. "Our view is that the Pentagon ought to take a similar approach before we cut too deeply into force structure and procurement."
Photo Credit: Defense Dept.
By Valerie Insinna
ORLANDO — Now more than ever, the lines are blurring between commercial and defense simulation companies.
That trend is expected to persist as the Defense Department budget shrinks, forcing defense contractors to look to other sectors such as health care and education, company officials said at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference. Meanwhile, commercial gaming companies continue to market their products to the military in the hopes that their low cost, innovative devices will attract new buyers.
Game-based learning is on the rise, and the scope of virtual training is changing, said Bill Rebarick, deputy general manager for Cubic Advanced Learning Solutions. This new wave of training will teach troops how to perform a task, allow them to practice it, and evaluate skills over time instead of simply meeting an objective.
"We see [military customers] investing a lot more in some advanced types of training skills to improve the efficacy of training, the retention of the knowledge that you gain while you're going through the training and the tools and processes that have greater" returns on investment, he told National Defense.
Cubic’s video-game based courseware for the littoral combat ship marked a shift for the Navy’s surface fleet, which traditionally trains sailors through onboard experience, he said. Now, the Navy plans to expand its use of immersive virtual learning for DDG-1000 class ships and perhaps even some types of submarines.
While the overwhelming narrative is that declining funding will ultimately lead to less innovation, several upstart companies attended the conference, hoping to break into the defense industry. Some of these firms had their genesis in the commercial video game industry and have not yet finalized product designs.
Today, when a soldier trains in a virtual reality environment, he can put on a headset that gives him a high-fidelity, 360-degree view of the scenario or wear sensors that track his motions. But he can only run so far before he reaches a wall. A new company, Virtuix, has designed a treadmill-like device that would allow troops to run or walk continuously, said Product Manager Colton Jacobs.
The device, called the Omni, was originally intended for video gamers who wanted to incorporate new virtual reality products in small homes or apartments, Jacobs said. The company funded product development through the crowd-funding website Kickstarter and has sold 25,000 devices.
Virtuix is a newcomer in the I/ITSEC exhibit hall, but they already have customers in the defense industry. BAE Systems is combining use of the Omni with Virtual Battlespace 3, the flagship game in the Army’s Games for Training lineup, to create a virtual reality simulator for infantry, he said.
The commercial version of the Omni will go on sale in May 2014, but Virtuix also plans on developing a military version of the product, he said.
“The military version would have different kinds of support systems to allow for a soldier to wear his entire gear set while doing training, because right now it's a little bit limited in terms of what I can wear on my body,” Jacobs said. It would also allow for more freedom of movement, such as being able to crouch.
Back for its second year was Oculus VR, a technology company that makes virtual reality headsets aimed primarily at the entertainment gaming industry. The company made its I/ITSEC debut in 2012 with headsets made out of cardboard.
Even at such an early stage of development, the response from simulation companies was overwhelming, said Joseph Chen, the company’s senior product manager.
Although the Oculus Rift is not yet in the hands of troops, defense simulation companies, such as Havok and Northrop Grumman, have begun to incorporate it with their own game engines, scenarios or hardware. Bohemia Interactive Simulations also plans to integrate it into Virtual Battlespace 3, he said.
"We're basically looking forward to more and more developers integrating the Oculus Rift, and ultimately they're going to be the creative minds that come up with these amazing applications, whether they be helicopter simulations, maintenance simulations, medical simulations. Who knows?" he said.
With a target cost of about $300, Oculus Rift devices are designed to be less expensive than virtual reality systems currently in use by the military. Not only does that address the Pentagon’s budget constraints, it could fundamentally change the way the military does training, Chen said.
Instead of buying one slightly less expensive simulator, the services could buy hundreds of headsets for the same amount of money, allowing troops to train together in an affordable way, he said. A fully functional end user device isn’t expected until at least 2014, however.
Like much of the rest of the defense industry, many military simulation companies are hoping to widen their markets to offset declining Pentagon spending.
As unmanned aerial systems are integrated into civil airspace, UAS training for non-military operators could emerge as an area for growth, said Nick Scarnato, Rockwell Collins’ director of marketing and strategy.
When that happens, Rockwell Collins will be positioned to fill that need, said LeAnn Ridgeway, vice president and general manager for simulation and training solutions.
“We’ve been on the advisory boards and the front end in working with several global rule-making authorities on what is going to happen in the commercial airspace when unmanned vehicles enter in,” she said.
About 40 percent of Cubic’s business today is for the commercial sector, but the company plans to increase its commercial sales, especially in the field of health care, Rebarick said.
"The size of the LCS contract, frankly, has allowed us to leverage some of the successes we've had there to be more effective in the commercial marketspace. So we're just now on the front edge of being able to take advantage of that."
GameSim, a software development company that splits its work between entertainment and defense customers, has seen its revenues increase by 30 percent in the last year, said its president and founder Andrew Tosh.
The company wants to expand the audience of its Conform software — which helps users compare and map geographic information system data — to other federal and local government agencies that use such data, he said.
Photo Credit: Scott Rekdal
By Valerie Insinna
ORLANDO — While the simulation industry often focuses on increasing the fidelity or graphics of its products, the military’s science and technology community is hunting for ways to increase their effectiveness, allowing troops to learn more at a faster pace.
The services need to measure how much an individual can learn in a simulation, officials said Dec. 4 at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference. Most of them did not provide examples of specific technology areas that the military plans to invest in, but all agreed on the need for products that accelerate learning and increase retention.
“How do we actually know what people know?” asked Terry Allard, director of warfighter performance for the Office of Naval Research. “It's not enough to check a box on a particular training exercise. We have to have some performance based metric of what people are learning in this environment."
The military must ensure that the technologies they seek out are a good fit for the task at hand, said Vice Adm. David Dunaway, head of Naval Air Systems Command. Some applications of simulation — such as the Navy’s new video game-based training for the littoral combat ship — are effective ways to teach sailors new information.
But it’s not one size fits all, Dunaway warned. For instance, certain Navy training, which had traditionally taken 15 minutes to complete, was recently replaced by game-based learning where “you have to listen to the full hour of this avatar droning on to you about personal safety,” he said. "It's a misapplication of this technology.”
The Navy is seeking interoperable and distributive technologies that can be used all over the globe and during exercises with other services, said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder.
The Army wants not only that, but it also seeks systems that can be individualized to different learning styles instead of always conforming to a standard human being, said Thomas Russell, director of the Army Research Laboratory.
“It’s too expensive to not standardize the material, but when it comes to training, when it comes to representation of information … there’s a force multiplier here that we have to figure out how to take advantage of, and that’s how we all function individually and how we maximize our own abilities to learn and to be trained,” he said.
The Air Force will need training that helps airmen contend with anti-access, area denial environments that prevents it from carrying out its mission, said Winston “Wink” Bennett, senior psychologist at the Air Force Research Laboratory. "All the gizmos that we took to Afghanistan and Iraq, some of those aren't going to work. So how do we fight without the gizmos?”
Over the long term, the Air Force also wants to create a secure, government-owned virtual environment that can be accessed worldwide, even by coalition forces, he said.
A changing threat landscape is also a concern to the Navy, Klunder said. “Some of these new mission sets are extremely high intensity and, frankly, very sophisticated,” he said. “It gets really hard in the existing template we have for simulation and training. … I don’t know if all of our simulation sets right now are tailored optimally to that.”
Allard said the military wants interoperable systems to practice joint missions however, creating inter-service acquisition programs is a challenge because each of branch may have unique requirements.
There is also the danger of one branch of the military exercising too much control over what is ultimately developed, Dunaway added.
“Scientists like to rub antennas,” he said. “But when it comes to money and acquisition, there is an epic battle of keeping things within the services because the way the money is appropriated."
By Sandra I. Erwin
Adm. Jonathan GreenertHope is dimming fast that Congress will undo the sequester budget cuts, said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert.
"I'm not very optimistic," he told an audience of Wall Street investors Dec. 3 during a conference in New York City hosted by Credit Suisse and McAleese & Associates.
As budget negotiators in Washington seek to strike a deal to avert another government shutdown Jan. 15, Defense Department officials, senior military leaders and industry CEOs have called on lawmakers to delay or cancel the automatic cuts. The 29-member House-Senate panel faces a Dec. 13 deadline to set funding levels for federal agencies for fiscal year 2014.
The sequester would slash $1.2 trillion from defense and civilian agency budgets across the board through 2021. The White House, congressional Democrats and Republican defense hawks oppose the cuts. Fiscal conservatives in the House want to keep sequester in place. The budget conference — led by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. — is expected to consider scenarios to replace the sequester but only temporarily.
Greenert acknowledged that military leaders' dire warnings of the impact of sequester on the armed forces have done little to move the parties from their entrenched positions. Some lawmakers have proposed giving the Defense Department some breathing room by allowing it greater authority to manage sequester cuts within the spending caps.
Under sequester, defense spending in 2014 would plummet from the administration's request of $552 billion to $498 billion.
The budget committee does not appear to be working on a "big deal to end sequester," Greenert said. "I don't see it."
One reason why the military service chiefs may have had less power than expected to shape budget decisions is that they were communicating their concerns to friendly defense committee staffers who have little say on the budget.
"I talk to defense staffers," Greenert said. "They sort of get it. But they are not the mass that carries" the biggest clout in budget negotiations, he said. "It took me a while to learn and understand that."
The fiscal hawks who run the show in the House of Representatives are less sympathetic to the military's pleas. Military leaders, said Greenert, need to reach out to members outside of defense committees. "That's kind of the story today."
As the reality of dramatically smaller budgets sinks in, it falls on the leaders of the Defense Department to “define the future,” which means making adjustments to the size and shape of the force, said Greenert. “Let's define reality … that's what leaders do. We deal with it.” If the lower budget caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act become the new normal, the Navy will have to get smaller, said Greenert. Once funding levels and the size of the force are set, “I can put together a ready Navy,” he said. “My nightmare is that we go two or three more years building a budget that exceeds the BCA caps. We go to the Hill. We tell them what we want. We talk about it. Then we get sequestered.” That was the situation in 2013 and the same is likely to occur in 2014. Proposing a budget that is destined to be sequestered with no proper planning is “really inefficient and a bad way to go,” he said.
Greenert’s take on the Pentagon’s so far unproductive efforts to push back the sequester echoes the frustration of pro-Navy lawmakers who have not been able to convince their colleagues to spare the military from the ax.
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on seapower and projection forces, has called for stronger advocacy about the impact of shipbuilding budget cuts on national security. But members other than Forbes and a handful of allies have shown little interest or desire to engage in this debate.
Photo Credit: Navy
By Valerie Insinna
ORLANDO — The military understands the value of simulation, but with budget constraints and possible sequestration limiting funding, its leaders must figure out how best to invest in virtual training, Pentagon and service branch officials said Dec. 3 at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference.
Still, the demand for certain defense simulations is expanding, and numerous opportunities exist for sales, said Frank C. DiGiovanni, the Defense Department’s director of training, readiness and strategy.
"Modeling and simulation is extremely flexible, and it's inherently agile. It's not free... but when you posture it correctly, it can be extremely responsive to new" threats, he said.
The military is facing $500 billion in sequester cuts over the next decade in addition to the $487 billion in cuts already in place under the Budget Control Act. That means the services may have to adjust to a new normal where not all products or technologies are readily available, panelists said.
"From my vantage point, I really don't see the budget levels going back to where they were, at least not in the forseeable future,” DiGiovanni said.
There are opportunities to leverage training and simulation to create greater efficiencies, DiGiovanni said. For example, commercial telecommunications companies and the military are competing for crowded radio spectrum. The Pentagon sees a chance for cost savings if it shares frequencies with commercial entities, he said. Modeling and simulation could provide a way to train troops when companies have exclusive access to those frequencies.
Cybertraining is also an area of growth, he said. "I've sat through a lot of budget meetings, and cyberfunding was off the table. It was not cut. Almost everything else was, but cyber wasn't,”
“I think there's an opportunity there both from an investment perspective but also in the fact that it's a growing area and it's going to continue to get funding for quite some time," DiGiovanni said.
Digital courseware is another area where new technology could spur investment. Improvements to artificial intelligence could boost the efficacy of digital tutors, DiGiovanni said. Such courses could also integrate with social networking, which would allow troops train each other, he added.
All of the services need to improve their ability to build training that rapidly responds to emerging threats, said Navy Vice Adm. David Dunaway, head of Naval Air Systems Command.
“We are not doing a good job in that regard," he said. "There are methods that we are not capitalizing on."
In Afghanistan, for instance, Prowler and Growler aircraft pilots encountered frequent changes to the electronic warfare environment. "If we’re going to take five weeks to get an update to their operational flight program, then we have five weeks of vulnerabilities where folks driving down the road are going to get murdered over a garage door opener frequency,” he said.
The shift to the Asia-Pacific region has increased the Navy’s workload, but readiness has declined in the last year, Dunaway said. “Right now the demand signal is not fully funded. That’s a problem.”
During the sequester, the Air Force has stood down 13 combat units, along with 18 institutional units that provide training. If sequester continues into 2014, the service will be forced to pull funding from training to make the necessary cuts, said Maj. Gen. James Jones, the Air Force’s assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements.
"It may not sound like a big deal to some people, but that translates to a loss of about 25 percent of their annual training that they needed to do to maintain combat readiness, and we're not going to be able to get that back. There's no way to surge to recover that training, “ he said during the keynote address.
For the Air Force, live exercises are significantly more expensive than conducting virtual training, with an F-16’s cost per flight hour at $7,500 compared to about $900 per hour in a simulator, Jones said. Not only is virtual training less expensive, it allows an instructor to create and tailor missions that would be difficult or dangerous to do in live training.
“We have the ability to adjust the weather for what I need, you can do mission rehearsals to test in degraded operations. … You can dial up the threat, dial down the threat," Jones said.
However, not all training tasks should be moved from live to virtual environments, Jones said. "I think we need to take this time to really think our way through what specifically do we need," both in terms of future requirements and how to optimize the blend of flight hours and simulators.
Budget cuts are also a concern of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, said the organization's director, Army Lt. Gen. John Johnson. During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, JIEDDO had access to special authorities and funding that allowed it to immediately field off-the-shelf products while the organization developed a device to directly contend with new threats.
“The concern that I have is that as money gets tighter, even the money to respond like that is going to start drying up," Johnson said.
Even if funding is cut, improvised explosive devices will continue to be a problem. Over the past year, there have been almost 13,000 IED events outside of Afghanistan. "No matter where we put U.S. forces on the ground, we're going to be threatened by, if not actually at risk to, IEDs,” Johnson said.
As combat veterans leave the military and are replaced by newcomers who have never directly dealt with IEDs, JIEDDO will need training systems that can replicate explosive devices as closely as possible and can be changed as adversary capabilities evolve, he added.
In order to enable Defense Department investment in virtual training, industry needs to be able to prove the cost benefits to Congress, DiGiovanni said. “Show us some precedent in the private sector. Show us where a company was able to be more efficient, and then take that storyline, take that vignette and bring it to the legislative branch.”
Photo: Flag officer panel at I/ITSEC (Scott Rekdal)
By Sandra I. Erwin
The U.S. military has contingency plans to cope with just about any threat to national security, including climate-related disasters and humanitarian crises. But even the Pentagon is likely to be caught flat-footed when the next wave of climate upheaval is unleashed on the planet, a new study suggests.
Scientists are not able to predict precisely when and where the ravages of climate change will cause widespread damage. But when climate-related changes do occur, they will happen suddenly, thus limiting governments' ability to respond, says a Dec. 3 report by the National Research Council.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, U.S. intelligence community and the National Academies funded the research.
Rapid changes in the climate system — including the Earth's atmosphere, land surfaces and oceans — could occur within a few decades or even years, leaving little time for society and ecosystems to adapt, researchers predict.
The military is one of several federal institutions that bear responsibility for dealing with climate-linked disruption. The armed services also have become an international 911 force that is called upon to assist following natural disasters. The Pentagon last year produced its first "DOD Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap" to help the military bring weather-related considerations into routine operations and planning.
Of the 202-page NRC report, titled "Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprise," only one page is dedicated to national security. But brevity, in this case, "should not be interpreted as an indication of importance," the study says, citing other reports that have delved into climate-related security issues in greater depth.
"Overall, the links between climate and national security are indirect, involving a complicated web of social and political factors," the NRC notes. Climate effects such as food and water security have the potential to fuel conflicts. Water and food scarcity could cause international humanitarian crises as do epidemics and pandemics. The Pentagon also anticipates future geopolitical tensions resulting from the melting of the polar ice caps.
"These impacts from climate change may present national security challenges through humanitarian crises, disruptive migration events, political instability, and interstate or internal conflict," the study says. These national security crises are "likely to be presented abruptly."
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel disclosed this month a “National Strategy for the Arctic Region” which predicts an increased military role there, though not necessarily related to climate issues. “Projections about future access to and activity in the Arctic may be inaccurate,” the strategy says. “Significant uncertainty remains about the rate and extent of the effects of climate change, including climate variability, in the Arctic.”
The NRC calls for the development of an early warning system that could help society better anticipate sudden changes.
"Evaluating climate changes and impacts in terms of their potential magnitude and the likelihood they will occur will help policymakers and communities make informed decisions about how to prepare for or adapt to them," says James W.C. White, professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and chair of the committee that wrote the report.
Even changes in the climate system that happen gradually, over many decades or centuries, can cause abrupt ecological or socio-economic change once a "tipping point" is reached, the report concludes. Relatively slow sea-level rise can affect roads, airports, pipelines or subway systems if a sea wall or levee is breached, and slight increases in ocean acidity or surface temperatures could cross thresholds beyond which many species cannot survive, leading to rapid and irreversible changes in ecosystems that contribute to further extinction, the study says.
"Right now we don’t know what many of these thresholds are," White says. "But with better information, we will be able to anticipate some major changes before they occur and help reduce the potential consequences." If society hopes to anticipate these tipping points, an early warning system for abrupt changes needs to be developed, the report says. It could be built with existing land and space-based sensors.
One example of an abrupt change that would have security implications is the opening of shipping lanes in the Arctic as a result of the retreating sea ice. There are geopolitical ramifications related to possible shipping routes and territorial claims, including potential oil, mineral, and fishing rights, says the report. The Arctic Council, which was formerly a relatively unknown international body, has become the center of vigorous negotiations over some of these issues. “This is a change that is occurring over the course of a couple of decades, well within a generation.”
The Pentagon started drafting a strategic policy for climate change in 2010 with the publication of the Quadrennial Defense Review. The document recognized climate change as a reality for which the military must prepare.
"The effects of climate change on infrastructure will not only be costly to our nation’s economy, they will also make us less secure as a nation," according to the 2012 climate security report by the American Security Project, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. "The military and government rely on physical infrastructure to protect our nation from outside threats and virtual infrastructure to maintain a strong homeland, both of which are threatened by extreme weather caused by climate change," says the study. The rising costs of coping and recovering from climate-related disasters could sap the United States as a global power, the study contends. "A robust economy is necessary for strong national security because it allows us to invest in the structures that keep people safe.” Some of the military’s most important bases are at risk of going under water, ASP says. “The nation’s structures are vulnerable to the effects of climate change because they were designed for a climate that is different from the one they will face in the 21st Century.”
Photo: Typhoon Haiyan hits Tacloban, Philippines (U.S. Marine Corps)
By Sandra I. Erwin
Army leaders are entering familiar territory as they contemplate how to reshape their forces for leaner times.
The current Army is too large, too expensive and mostly geared to fight counterinsurgencies, and it is now seeking to forge a new identity as a multifaceted force that can adapt to a broader range of threats.
Today’s existential crisis of sorts is not unlike the one the Army experienced in the late 1990s, when it was struggling to adjust to the post-Soviet world. The transition was interrupted by the 9/11 attacks, a gush of money and a massive reorganization that was needed to fight two wars.
With the Army now facing draconian budget cuts, Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said his most immediate fear is that the Army will become “hollow.” But his warnings have not helped avert the cuts, and the fiscal reality is gradually sinking in. Officials must now wrestle with a central question: How does the Army become leaner without losing its fighting edge?
Army strategists have waded into the issue in recent war games but have yet to come up with clear answers.
“We know there will be an Army in 2030. But we don't know its composition or size,” said Rickey E. Smith, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (Forward). The center, part of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, organizes strategy war games. This year's series is called “Unified Quest.”
Army leaders now face a dilemma similar to the one it confronted in the years following the end of the Cold War, when generals worried that the force was bloated and ill-equipped for quick-fire response to crises. In the most recent strategy seminar, the Army was sent to a hostile Syria-like country where terrorists had obtained chemical weapons that were used in an attack against U.S. citizens. The Army's job was to secure the weapons and keep them locked down until civilian authorities decided how to proceed.
The war game raised questions about the Army’s ability to deploy forces quickly enough to influence fast-moving events. In the fictitious operation, the force was “pretty slow,” Smith said. Because most of the Army is based in the United States and carries a heavy logistics tail, the amount of airlift and sealift required to move even one brigade makes it difficult for the service to respond quickly. In the game, it took the Army 45 days to deploy. “They can't get there quickly enough to prevent a WMD leak,” Smith said.
A different scenario had the Army intervening in the same crisis, but with a drastically slimmed down force, with minimum heavy equipment and a new high-speed cargo helicopter. The lighter force was agile, but also more vulnerable, Smith said. “It moved so fast that it didn't have enough endurance. It had difficulties sustaining itself.”
The lesson? When the Army is stripped down, it is not as robust, Smith said. “Faster is always better, but not if it can't sustain itself.”
The challenge is finding a happy medium so forces can get to hotspots faster and still have sufficient staying power, Smith said. “Somewhere in the middle we have to decide where to invest,” he said. “Should we pursue a future lift vehicle? Should we work on more sealift?”
More than 12 years in Afghanistan and eight years in Iraq turned the Army into an occupation force that could stay in one place and was more concerned about protecting troops from enemy attacks than about its mobility. Now the Army sees its heavy logistics tail as a potential weakness. These concerns have echoes of NATO's war in Kosovo 14 years ago, when the Army's Apache helicopters were sidelined because they were not ready for the fight. “The vaunted helicopters,” the Washington Post observed in Dec. 1999, “came to symbolize everything wrong with the Army as it enters the 21st century: Its inability to move quickly; its resistance to change; its obsession with casualties; its post-Cold War identity crisis.”
The post-Afghanistan Army is dramatically different from the one that didn’t get to fight in Kosovo. But its mobility problems are still there. A stark illustration is the Army’s communications gear. The service has spent billions of dollars building its own wireless communications infrastructure so it can have connectivity in any war zone. That has created a huge logistics load. “Could you have used a civilian network instead of shipping truckloads of hardware to set up your own cell towers?” Smith asked. “That's an interesting thought.” The Army prefers to not rely on the local infrastructure because it might not be secure, but when a force has to move fast, these equipment demands create significant burdens. The Army has to weigh risks, said Smith. “Yes, civilian networks are less secure, but we could reduce the tooth to tail ratio if we used existing commercial networks and secure the data, as opposed to bringing the entire infrastructure. That's something we have to continue to work with.”
Smith credits Odierno for attempting to plan for the distant future even as the Army leadership remains bogged down by the sequester budget cuts and continued uncertainty about future funding. “In times of fiscal constraint, you need innovation,” Smith said.
Military officials also recognize that the political environment is such that the last thing the country desires right now is to plan for another war. “No one wants to go do another land operation again,” Smith said. “But doesn't mean you have that option.”
The biggest “aha” moment of the seminar, he said, was the realization that the Army needs to educate its future leaders so they can cope with crises that cannot possibly be predicted. Right now, because most of the Army has focused on counterinsurgency, “we are kind of out of balance,” he said. “We have a lot of COIN experience. But a lot of officers and NCOs haven't gone through the education system.”
The Army wants to retain its counterinsurgency doctrine but also expand its repertoire. “We are not going to pull it like we did after Vietnam,” Smith said. “It needs to be there, along with combined arms. … We don't see a wholesale departure from COIN.”
Former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and U.S. ambassador there Karl W. Eikenberry recently weighed in on the future of the Army in a Foreign Affairs article, where he urged the service to avoid repeating costly mistakes. More than three years after Afghan “surge,” he wrote, COIN proponents might, “with some merit, claim that the experiment was too little, too late — too late because an industrial-strength COIN approach was not rigorously applied until eight years after the war began, and too little because even then, limits were placed on the size and duration of the surge, making it more difficult to change the calculations of Afghan friends and enemies.” But the political realities in that country “made the counterinsurgency campaign increasingly incoherent and difficult to prosecute. In short, COIN failed in Afghanistan,” Eikenberry said.
U.S. policymakers must know that “deploying highly trained U.S. soldiers and marines to Afghanistan to serve as social workers or to manage development projects comes at a very high price," he said. The U.S. government spends about $1 million per year per soldier deployed in Afghanistan.
At the height of the surge, Washington had about 100,000 troops in theater, costing about $100 billion annually. Eikenberry said it was “sheer hubris to think that American military personnel without the appropriate language skills and with only a superficial understanding of Afghan culture could, on six or 12-month tours, somehow deliver to Afghan villages everything asked of them by the COIN manual.”
But even as the United States ponders the limits of intervention, he noted, “it should not reject all the techniques and procedures put into practice in Afghanistan and Iraq. Fragile and failing states will continue to endanger U.S. and international security, and the choice of responses is not limited to doing nothing or deploying massive numbers of troops and civilians.”
The risk for the Army, and for the U.S. armed forces more broadly, is that the disappointments of recent conflicts will push the nation to an isolationist posture and render the military irrelevant, experts said.
“When America comes out of a period of war, we are tempted to turn inward as isolationist impulses assert themselves,” said former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy. “When I look at the world, I see problems for which it's difficult to imagine solutions without an international response,” she told an Aspen Institute forum.
“We need to resist that temptation to turn away from the world,” she said. Spending cuts create risks, she added. “We try to balance too much of the budget on the back on the force, and we end up with a hollow force. I am worried this will happen because we are not able to manage the drawdown in a smart way.”
University of Virginia history professor and former senior State Department official Philip Zelikow said these are opportune times for a fundamental reform of how the military is organized and equipped. “American levels of defense spending are at still near historic highs, even accounting for projected cuts,” he said. “But expenditures are poorly allocated. And the inefficiency is likely to get much worse. High spending in a period of low threat is buying less and less meaningful defense.”
In the 1990s, the defense establishment had become less relevant to the way the world was changing, Zelikow said. “After 9/11, huge adjustments had to be made to develop new capabilities that were strapped in an ad hoc way to the old established capabilities.” The result has been significant bloat and inefficiency that now have to be addressed, he said. The U.S. military needs “high readiness” and “high response” in future crises. “What we need in Asia is formidable military capability by sea and air that can deter and defeat rapidly any potential opponent with forces in hand available in hours or days,” Zelikow said. “A very small portion of our forces is able to meet those readiness requirements.”
U.S. forces are overwhelmingly concentrated in the continental United States, while “what we need is a base structure that is projected outward so we can get a larger effects from a smaller force.” The nation, he said, needs to downsize its military, but also build a force that is more responsive.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army
By Sandra I. Erwin
U.S. defense executives are pushing back on suggestions that a shortage of science, math and engineering graduates is a fake crisis.
A deficit of STEM (short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skilled workers has been the conventional wisdom in Washington for years, but a crop of studies in recent months has poured cold water on the notion, embraced by defense industry, that a dearth of engineering talent poses a threat to U.S. industrial competitiveness and national security.
Industry officials want to avoid letting the STEM debate become, like climate change, a reality that gets challenged by deniers.
Defense executives were surprised to see a study published in April by the Economic Policy Institute that concluded there is no shortage of STEM workers in the United States. “Contrary to many industry claims," the study said, "U.S. colleges and universities provide an ample supply of highly qualified STEM graduates."
The EPI study sought to counter high-tech industry lobbying efforts to increase the number of foreign guest workers that are allowed into the United States on the premise that there are not enough qualified U.S. workers. According to EPI, “Our examination shows that the STEM shortage in the United States is largely overblown.”
These findings, which were widely reported by news media, muddy the waters for defense and aerospace firms that claim they have thousands of unfilled jobs because they cannot find qualified engineers. Industry CEOs also worry that a wave of baby boomer retirements in the coming years will dig a deeper hole.
The challenge for aerospace and defense companies is to not let broad generalizations obscure the facts, said Brian Fitzgerald, CEO of the Business Higher Education Forum, an organization of Fortune 500 CEOs and research university presidents.
“Data can be misinterpreted,” he said. A case in a point is a study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, which also cast doubts on the STEM shortage. It concluded that nearly half of the nation's STEM graduates don't go into STEM jobs. “The diversion of native-born STEM talent into non-STEM educational and career pathways will continue and likely accelerate in the future,” the Georgetown study said.
That trend should alarm defense industry because it means that, even if there is an ample supply of U.S.-born STEM graduates, many will choose to work in commercial, non-defense disciplines, said Fitzgerald. “Many STEM engineers go to Wall Street,” said Fitzgerald. “It's a reflection of the value that the economy places on quantitative and analytical skills.”
He said defense companies should stop debating this issue and do something about it.
Many top U.S. defense contractors are taking action and becoming deeply invested in the STEM cause. They are pouring millions of dollars into education and training programs to help secure a skilled U.S.-born workforce. They fear that, increasingly, a majority of STEM graduates from U.S. universities are not American citizens and therefore are ineligible to work on sensitive military programs.
Executives point out that the United States has fallen way behind the power curve in STEM education, compared to other industrialized nations. The end of the Cold War and a dramatic decline in the Pentagon’s clout as a technology mover and shaker also play against defense industry recruiting, executive said.
The defense business just isn't interesting enough for up-and-coming engineers, executives acknowledge. “Graduates have decided that aerospace and defense isn’t as sexy as it used to be,” said Peter Nicholas Lengyel, president and CEO of Safran USA, a subsidiary of France's aerospace giant Safran Group.
In an interview, Lengyel said the company is not experiencing an engineer shortage, partly because of its internal programs that identify engineers with superior skills and promote them into senior positions. Safran does, however, have many unfilled jobs in high-tech manufacturing, he said.
In the defense sector, leaders have to counter the perception that the work involves dull, dirty factory jobs, said Linda P. Hudson, president and CEO of BAE Systems,
“When the general public hears the words ‘industrial base,’ they typically think of steel and grease,” Hudson said in a speech last week at the Atlantic Council.
“Young engineers, mathematicians, programmers, and cyber specialists rarely graduate today anxious to work in national security,” she said. “They have exciting choices: Google, Amazon, Instagram, Microsoft, McAfee, to name a few.”
Tens of thousands of skilled workers around the globe manufacture computer chips, she said. “But how about making radiation hardened microprocessors like our electronics business produced for NASA to power the Rover’s trip to Mars? Much of this talent is now being produced outside the United States,” she said. “But unlike Silicon Valley who can hire immigrant technology talent with an H1B visa, I need U.S. citizens to work on classified programs.”
Science, technology, engineering and math graduates, she said, “are the lifeblood of our industry. Unfortunately, we’re letting that blood spill away, and the supply is increasingly limited.”
In the race for top talent, Hudson said, “our industry is running with not just an arm tied behind its back, but a leg or two trussed up as well. … If we’re forced to forgo international talent, then we damned well better be doing something to produce that talent domestically.”
Hudson recognized that “our culture as an industry simply does not appeal to the incoming generation of workers. … We scare them away with our hierarchies, with our cubicles, with our gray walls and our red tape.”
Photo Credit: Thinkstock