By Sandra I. Erwin
Top U.S. military contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. is putting a full-court press on the international missile-defense market. While the Pentagon remains the company's primary buyer of antimissile weapons, foreign customers are being actively pursued.
U.S. antimissile and antiaircraft weapons used to be regarded as gee-whiz technology, but they are now a mature market. Foreign buyers want missile shields to ward off attacks but also see these programs as a source of economic development.
Making U.S. weaponry more attractive to international buyers now requires novel industrial partnerships and co-production agreements. Export incentives are key to winning deals, said Richard McDaniel, vice president of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
The pressure is on at Lockheed Martin to step up non-U.S. business. CEO Marillyn A. Hewson has challenged the company to raise foreign sales from 17 percent to 20 percent of total revenues over the next year. While the F-35 joint strike fighter is expected to become Lockheed's largest international moneymaker, some of the most promising overseas opportunities are in missile defense.
Within Lockheed Martin's $8 billion a year Missiles and Fire Control, 33 percent of sales are to foreign buyers, and the goal is to reach 40 percent by 2016.
The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 — an interceptor missile used with the Patriot air defense system — is now sold to seven countries. The company soon will reach a major milestone when its 2,000th missile comes off the line this fall. Foreign buyers include the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Kuwait. An eighth customer, Qatar, is expected to sign an order soon, McDaniel said Sept. 23 at a news conference in Washington, D.C.
Lockheed is pushing its MEADS medium extended air defense system — a tri-nation program funded by the United States, Germany and Italy — in Poland and Turkey. Both nations are being aggressively courted by suppliers as they weigh the deployment of a regional missile shield. In Poland and Turkey, Lockheed is sweetening its offers with opportunities for local firms to partake in the production. These deals are estimated to be worth $10 billion and $4 billion, respectively.
Turkey a year ago selected China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp. to supply its missile shield. The French-Italian contractor Eurosam and U.S. contractor Raytheon Co. came in second and third. The Turkish government, under pressure from NATO officials, decided to reconsider and is now reviewing a new round of bids.
"It's very important for these countries to add domestic opportunities," McDaniel said of both Turkey and Poland. A win in Poland would be a boon for Lockheed's MEADS as the U.S. military decided not to field the system and ended its involvement in the program in 2013.
In Japan, Lockheed has had a long-term agreement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for coproduction of PAC-3. The country also is codeveloping a new version of the U.S. Navy's Standard missile with prime contractor Raytheon.
This partnering model is being considered for other countries, said McDaniel. "We work to come up with industrial sharing opportunities."
Lockheed expects to increase foreign sales of its terminal high altitude area defense (THAAD) theater air and missile defense system that the U.S. Army has deployed around the world. THAAD interceptor number 100 will come off the line before the end of the year, said McDaniel. The UAE last year became the first foreign buyer when it signed a $3.4 billion contract. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have "expressed interest," he said. "We expect deals."
Lockheed gets a great deal of marketing help from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, which advocates independently for American weaponry. MDA benefits from foreign deals because it helps keep U.S. contractors' manufacturing lines in business when Pentagon orders dwindle.
"We work together with them," Thomas J. Oles, vice president of strategy and business development at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, told National Defense in June. "With MDA, it's a partnership when we go internationally. They've been a really strong partner with us."
Oles said Japan is considering buying THAAD as one piece of a wider missile shield it would build to thwart ballistic missile attacks from North Korea. The shield would include the naval Aegis air-defense system, THAAD and PAC-3. "As more countries look to establish their own capability, it's a logical next step to integrate," Oles said.
International growth, too, is expected for the Navy's Aegis combat system as a ballistic missile defense option that can be deployed at sea or ashore. "We have two dozen international partners," said Mike Salvato, Lockheed's senior manager of Maritime Integrated Air and Missile Defense. Although the system is already three decades old, it is gaining new relevance with features such as "engage on remote," and "launch on remote," Salvato said at the news conference. That means commanders on ships or on land, for instance, can share target data and launch weapons based on cues from other parts of the grid. "There is a marriage of ballistic missile defense and anti-air warfare in the traditional approach," Salvato said. The first Aegis ashore system is now being built in Romania as part of the U.S.-funded European missile shield.
Naval analyst Ron O'Rourke, of the Congressional Research Service, said Aegis is benefitting from countries' desires to deploy collective missile shields for regional defense. "The diffusion of Aegis BMD capability abroad is occurring quietly," he wrote in a recent CRS report. "Governments that have made naval force-structure investment decisions based primarily on inwardly focused national interests have discovered that their investments also enable them to combine their resources in collective defense." This started with the Aegis sale to Japan, and then expanded to relationships with Australia and South Korea, and now includes a commercial connection with Spain as well as an enterprise between Norway and Spain. Several other nations have expressed interest in acquiring the Aegis weapon system and Aegis BMD, O'Rourke said. "Australia and other countries that are acquiring the Aegis system are stipulating that the systems they buy must have the capability of adding BMD in the future."
Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of U.S. Army Pacific, said allied countries in the region plan to “integrate” existing air and missile defense systems, rather than have them operate in isolation. “We have adversaries who are increasing their missile stocks on hand, their surface-to-surface fire, causing danger to the region,” he said in 2013. “There is increasing demand for integrated air and missile defense.”
Photo Credit: Lockheed Martin
By Sandra I. Erwin
The nation's military is fighting the Islamic State in the Middle East, helping to contain an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and warily watching other flashpoints around the world.
But that didn't stop the Army from bringing together every general officer above the two-star rank this week to Washington, D.C., to discuss a topic of utmost concern to the service: the Army's future.
About 200 general officers — including many division and corps commanders — spent an entire day discussing how the Army should reshape itself for tomorrow's conflicts, especially those after 2025. "Was that more important than working the inbox items such as the unfolding ISIL operation?" Stimson Center Chairman Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr. asked Gen. David G. Perkins.
In short, yes, said Perkins, the commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC.
Perkins is overseeing the latest rewrite of the Army's "operational concept" that will guide how the service is organized and equipped by 2025. The concept is still in the draft phase and will be unveiled next month in Washington at the annual convention of the Association of the U.S. Army.
While the world might be engulfed in war, the Army cannot let its long-term plans veer off course, Perkins said Sept. 25 during a talk at the Stimson Center.
With the world's volatility rising, the tendency is to turn every crisis into a soccer game of seven-year-olds where they are all chasing the ball and nobody is on defense, Perkins said. "Left to their own devices, everyone runs to the ball." Officials are paying proper attention to today's issues, but "we have to think about the future and start now to think about the brigade commanders of 2025."
At the top of the agenda is having a solid strategy for grooming future leaders to cope with unpredictable challenges, Perkins said. "Gen. Ray Odierno [the Army's chief of staff] said the key to our success in the future is leader development."
These high-level discussions are taking place as the Army faces not only the crises of the day but also budgetary and personnel troubles. To meet congressionally mandated spending limits, it is downsizing at a rate of 20,000 troops per year, including junior officers in command positions overseas. Cutbacks have affected troop morale. As the war in Afghanistan winds down, the Army is also gripped by questions about its role there and whether the huge sacrifice was worth it.
The generals at the Pentagon have been historically incapable of predicting the future, and that is not going to change, Perkins said. "I often get asked 'Tell me about the future,' as if it's going to be completely different from the past.'"
But there is a long list of "do not forget" items that the Army has to keep in mind as it moves forward, he said. One is to make sure it does not box itself into a particular role or mission, and is able to take on unglamorous jobs. "As we develop the future of the Army, we want to make sure we provide multiple capabilities to the strategic policy makers of our nation," he said. "We want to give them options, not ultimatums."
The Army in many cases will not get to choose what it does, he said. "When you say you don't do windows, what you find out is the enemy starts putting up a bunch of windows. It would be great if we could work ourselves out of some jobs. We just don't have that luxury."
The Army will have to accept the inevitability that it will be blindsided. Who would have predicted a year ago that there would be an Ebola epidemic, or who even knew that ISIL existed? “Things are going to happen that you didn't have on your radar screen and didn't have time to get ready for,” Perkins said. As a result, leaders will have to think on their feet. “As you look to the future, there is a whole quality associated with response time,” he said. “How long do you wait to do something about it? … The element of time is taking on a new meaning as we go into the future.”
Another pillar of the Army’s thinking about the future is that it needs hard power even if the ultimate goal is to not use it. The Defense Department has embraced the notion that U.S. military interventions can be prevented by building allies’ military forces to do their own fighting. There is also an underlying assumption that military actions don’t solve foreign policy problems. That said, “The only way you win without a fight is by deterring. The only way to do that is you have to be able to win with a fight,” Perkins said. “Your adversary has to be absolutely sure that you can win the fight. Then they may decide not to fight.”
The U.S. military has had a decisive technological advantage for decades, but the Army should not take that for granted and, further, it should operate on the assumption that its enemies will have access to the same technology, Perkins said.
What the Army is learning is that its “secret sauce” is its professional cadre of soldiers, he said. Many foreign allies attribute the success of the U.S. military to “our stuff.” But the technology that has given American forces an edge — such as night-vision goggles and precision-guided weapons — are increasingly available to anyone who has money to buy them.
The stuff can easily be acquired, but a brigade of competent soldiers takes many years to build, he noted. “Of all the things that set us apart, technology is the most transferrable.”
But Perkins acknowledged that the U.S. military should upgrade its technology regardless of global market trends. And that will require changing the arcane acquisition process that was conceived long before computers or the Internet even existed.
“We are looking internally at what things are preventing us from innovating,” he said. Innovation does not necessarily mean buying new stuff, however. The Army needs to think more broadly about how equipment is used and whether it creates vulnerabilities, he explained. A case in point is the current force's heavy reliance on fuel. The tendency is to deploy heavy equipment that demands a huge logistics tail and additional security to protect troops on the ground. But these efforts to reduce the tactical risk end up raising the political risk of the mission if, for instance, the enemy decides to target supply convoys en route to the front lines.
“We're looking at what we can do with technology not only to reduce tactical risk but also political risk,” said Perkins. An example would be the use of robotic supply vehicles that can deliver goods without putting drivers in harm’s way. “We never really looked at things that way. We tend to look at things from the tactical side.”
TRADOC intends to review the bureaucratic process that informs and dictates what equipment the Army buys, he said. “The new operational concept puts a big focus on requirements,” he added. “Our requirements are very narrowly defined,” which explains why the Army might design a new helicopter without consideration of its long-term logistics supply burdens. “We are not organized in the Army to look at things necessarily that way,” Perkins said. “We are discussing how we get a better view of total capability versus just a thing,” he said. “Exquisite solutions have exquisite weaknesses.”
Timeliness also has to be a priority. “The acquisition timeline for any piece of technology should not be longer than the lifecycle of the technology.”
Perkins said too much focus on high-tech equipment risks losing sight of what the force needs to accomplish. One of TRADOC’s favorite buzzwords, “expeditionary,” implies the Army has to be a 911 “crisis response” force and therefore needs lighter combat vehicles and faster means of transportation.
That thinking is shortsighted, he said. “Our nation wants more than just a response, it wants resolution,” he said. “When we say ‘expeditionary,’ it's not just getting there. It's having adequate capability and endurance to resolve the issue,” he added. “We want to make sure we define the requirements before we jump on the latest shiny object.”
Any conversation about the future also has to raise the uncomfortable subject of how to define “winning,” especially in complex conflicts where civilian agencies and foreign allies are involved. “It’s important to have clarity,” Perkins said. The bumper sticker of the new Army’s operational concept is “Win in a complex world,” he said. “Defining ‘win’ and defining ‘complex’ is going to be very powerful for the stuff we buy and how we go about using it.”
Photo Credit: Army
By Valerie Insinna
MQ-8C TritonNaval Air Station Patuxent River, MD — Days after the Navy’s new long-range surveillance drone flew its first cross-country flight, the service’s program manager announced the aircraft will likely not be equipped with a sense-and-avoid system until at least 2020.
Fielding such a system remains a requirement for the MQ-8C Triton program, said Capt. Jim Hoke, program manager for persistent maritime unmanned aerial systems. “We think we have a path ahead. I’m not ready to talk about specifics for it.” He added that his goal was to establish a way forward before his retirement in December.
“It may be a stair-step approach,” with additional capability installed further down the road, he said.
Sense-and-avoid systems that detect other aircraft are required for UAS flying in many countries’ airspace. Triton is scheduled for initial operating capability in fiscal year 2017.
The Navy is still evaluating how this will affect training, testing and operations, Hoke said.
“We are working closely with fleet operators to let them know what the capabilities are, and whether we can come up with tactics, training and procedures to mitigate the fact that we do not have a sense-and-avoid radar in there,” he said. “There’s potential that could impact [operations], but we just don’t know the full impact at this point.”
Triton manufacturer Northrop Grumman Corp. initially awarded ITT Exelis a contract to develop an airborne sense-and-avoid capability, but stopped work on the system in 2013. Navy officials at the time said that all options, including re-competing the contract, were on the table.
The service has since conducted a detailed market analysis to see what other technologies are available. “If there was something off the shelf, we would have gotten it,” Hoke said.
Triton, which will be able to provide at least 24 hours of constant surveillance, is already packed with cameras, radar and other sensors. Creating a system that can prevent collisions with other aircraft is a difficult technical problem that is compounded by size, weight, power and cooling requirements, Hoke said.
Despite these problems, Hoke said, the future of the program is bright. On September 18, Triton flew 3,290 nautical miles from Northrop Grumman’s Palmdale, California, facility to Naval Air Station Patuxent River — the longest flight the drone has ever accomplished.
Triton may be reliable enough that the Navy will be able to meet its operational requirements with fewer than its planned purchase of 68 aircraft, Hoke said. The Navy needs at least 20 Tritons continuously available to support five orbits, he said.
Hoke described piloting Triton as a hybrid between pure autonomy and having to manually control the air vehicle.
“This is not like sitting at a video game with a stick and rudder,” he said. “It was a preplanned flight route that was all loaded in, but the pilots could then activate the take off commands and they were able to change altitudes.” Decreasing flight altitude, for instance, is as easy as simply typing in a command, and “the aircraft will take itself there.”
The other two Triton air vehicles are slated to fly to Patuxent River by the end of October to support upcoming testing, Hoke said. There, the Navy will begin installing sensors — including the radar, electronic support measures system, automatic identification system and electro-optical and infrared cameras. Flight tests will begin early 2015.
The service currently is developing the integrated functional capability 2.2 software, which adds a basic sensor capability to the air vehicle, he said. “The sensors are integrated within the lab environment to make sure all of the messaging is right … so that we can test to make sure we can turn on and do the different functionality of those sensors.”
Not all of those sensors will be fully functional at first, but they will meet the requirements for Milestone C approval, Hoke said. “You won’t have all the modes in the radar."
The next software build, IFC 3.0, incorporates automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast and traffic collision avoidance system technologies, commonly referred to as ADS-B and TCAS, which will allow Triton to detect and avoid cooperative aircraft also using those systems, Hoke said. All of the air vehicle’s sensors will reach full functionality when the 3.0 software comes online in 2016.
Triton is the first unmanned system that will be equipped with both ADS-B and TCAS, he said.
The Navy plans to pair Triton drones with new P-8 Poseidon multimission maritime aircraft. “You’ll have Triton out there as that persistent stare, it sees something, and a P-8 crew is able to come out and take a closer look,” Hoke said.
The service has considered developing Triton so that it can be controlled by P-8 crews, but that project is unfunded, he added.
The Navy is already seeing interest in Triton from countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan, Hoke said. Earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced plans to buy the UAS.
“The Australians are very interested in building that into a full up [foreign military sales] case at some point, and now it’s just [having] the discussion about what the appropriate timing is for that and the commitment from the Australian government,” he said. “We’ll continue to have that dialogue as we go along. “
Photo Credit: Navy
By Sandra I. Erwin
Sen. Carl Levin
There is no chance that Congress will repeal sequestration before he retires, but Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., insists that lawmakers might find a way to relieve the military and civilian agencies from automatic budget cuts next year.
“My hunch is it will be repealed or reduced, one way or another,” said Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
“I hope we can get rid of sequestration,” he said Sept. 24 during a breakfast meeting with reporters. Regardless of the outcome of the mid-term election, it is conceivable that Republicans and Democrats could find some common ground on which to build a budget deal that spares both defense and nondefense agencies from automatic cuts, Levin said.
The next round of spending cuts will begin Oct. 2015, unless Congress takes action. “When sequestration hits, people are going to start scrambling around,” he said.
Levin is skeptical that the war on the Islamic State that President Obama launched last week — and its strain on the Pentagon’s budget — will break the political deadlock over defense cuts. “It might help,” he said. But he acknowledged that the political dysfunction that resulted in sequestration has not gone away.
Levin has been a long-time proponent of eliminating corporate tax loopholes to offset some, if not all, of the spending cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act — nearly $1 trillion split equally between defense and nondefense agencies. He intends to keep pushing this agenda even after he leaves Congress.
“Even if I can’t succeed, I’m determined, not sure in what form, to find a way,” Levin said. “If nothing else, I will leave a roadmap behind for how we can get rid of sequestration using tax avoidance schemes to pay for it,” he added. “I hope to have some success in this area before I’m done.”
Levin announced in March he would not seek re-election in 2014. The 78-year-old senator has been in Congress since 1978.
There is enough unhappiness about sequestration on both sides of the aisle to motivate members to support some form of repeal, he said. “We have done real damage in terms of cutting discretionary spending in this country.”
Any compromise will have to spare both defense and nondefense, he said. Republicans, however, will have a tough time rounding up support in their ranks for nondefense cuts, Levin noted. It will be up to the leadership to make the case that undoing sequestration could be a political winner in these times of war when the public tends to support military spending. If the GOP wins the Senate in November and controls Congress for the remainder of the Obama administration, said Levin, it will be up to its leaders to figure out how they can “responsibly” get rid of sequestration without raising the national debt.
“How it should be done is by eliminating unjustified tax avoidance schemes,” Levin said. “I haven’t given up on that. ... After the election maybe the Republicans can take this up.” Democrats, too, he said, have to get over their fear of cutting domestic benefits programs.
Levin has been sympathetic to military officials who have paraded through his office to plead their case against sequestration. He tells them, however, that making this issue all about the military is not going to move the needle. With much of Congress leaning fiscally conservative, the key is finding a way to offset the cuts with politically acceptable sources of new revenue.
The military might not care about corporate tax loopholes, but it should, said Levin. His office identified 15 to 20 tax breaks that could be eliminated with bipartisan support. “These loopholes have no economic purpose except to avoid taxes.” During a hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Levin noted, it was revealed that one hedge fund alone, Renaissance Technologies, had avoided $6 billion in federal taxes over 10 years by timing transactions so they would not be subject to short-term capital gains.
Photo Credit: Defense Dept.
By Sarah Sicard
While the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, continues to dominate headlines, it is but one player in a growing list of threats to the United States and its allies, a report released by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Sept. 23 found.
The report, titled “2014 Jihadist Terrorism and Other Unconventional Threats” said the United States, along with its allies, faces a growing risk of attack by al-Qaida and jihadist groups not affiliated with the terrorist organization such as Boko Haram and the Pakistani Taliban.
"I think you have a number of overlapping phenomena that are appearing right now that make … [the threat landscape] much more complex than we've seen in the past," William McCants, director of the U.S. Relations with the Islamic World Project at the Brookings Institution, said in a panel discussion.
Since 9/11, al-Qaida’s forces and leadership have been decimated by targeted attacks from the United States and its allies. Rather than having a unified organization, it has become dispersed, with smaller groups spreading over 16 countries, Peter Bergen, the author of the report and a CNN national security analyst said.
"One of the themes of this report is that al-Qaida has sort of diffused. I think that’s a good news and a bad news story there," Bergen said.
While it is good that core al-Qaida has weakened, it has also increased its influence to new areas, he said. This poses new threats as al-Qaida can now cause chaos in more locations, panelists agreed.
However, "diffusion doesn't necessarily mean a greater threat to the United States," Bergen noted. Al-Qaida was at its most concentrated when it conducted the 9/11 attack, he said.
One reason that ISIL — which started as an offshoot of al-Qaida — has gotten more press than its parent organization is because it appeals to a new generation by using a social media-fueled “digital jihad,” said panel moderator and FOX News homeland security correspondent Catherine Herridge.
ISIL recruits have been largely young people, Herridge said. “Almost everyone is under 30, but the majority are under 25.”
This is the first social media war, Bergen said. Social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instragram, have been flooded with imagery, videos and notes from ISIL jihadists waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan. ISIL’s media has made it into the living rooms of Americans across the country, he said.
"ISIS is very good TV," Bergen said. "A lot of cable networks are showing their materials."
During the early days of al-Qaida, it too, was on the cutting edge of video and tape recording, Mary Haybeck, a scholar with American Enterprises Institute, said. It no longer finds itself capable of engaging the public like it used to, she noted.
“Al-Qaida central or the al-Qaida leadership has a vision of themselves as the doers, not the speakers,” she said.
Despite al-Qaida’s inability to draw as much media attention as it once did, that has not stopped the organization from being effective, she added.
"Since the 1990s, al-Qaida has spent a lot of time figuring out how to appeal to other groups,” she said. It has integrated itself into smaller terrorist cells and communities and continues to fund and perpetrate smaller-scale attacks.
However, "al-Qaida has a commitment to spectacular attacks," Haybeck said, which could manifest itself into a large-scale attack one day.
They won't want to do something lesser than 9/11, she added.
Photo Credit: Bipartisan Policy Center
By Sandra I. Erwin
The Army's multibillion-dollar project to replace outdated combat communications systems with modern wireless networks for troops in war zones is about to reach a pivotal point.
The new network has lurched forward over the past several years in fits and starts, and its future is still in flux. The program has been marred by technical, budgetary and bureaucratic troubles, but the Army is pressing ahead.
The linchpins of the network — a family of digital tactical radios and a mobile satellite-communications system — face key milestones in the coming months with make-or-break implications for the entire project.
Army leaders have insisted the tactical communications network is essential to modernize the force. "These are difficult times in the defense budget, and the Army is having to prioritize everything, but modernization of the network is among the very highest priorities," Undersecretary of the Army Brad R. Carson told a reporter in May during a visit to Fort Bliss, Texas.
Much of the responsibility for building the network is in the hands of Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Hughes, the Army's program executive officer for command, control and communications-tactical, or PEO C3T. His office is overseeing a major procurement of new tactical radios that have been 15 years in the making and have run up $9 billion in development costs.
The Pentagon gave the Army the green light in May to start buying large quantities of tactical radios under the "handheld, manpack, small form fit" (HMS) program. A final request for proposals could be released later this year, said Josh Davidson, spokesman for PEO C3T. "We are moving forward," he said in a statement to National Defense. "The program is working to finalize the draft HMS manpack RFP. Additionally, we are in the final coordination phase of the HMS rifleman radio RFP with the Army Contracting Command." He said both RPFs should be released and open for industry bids during the first quarter of fiscal year 2015. It would take at least another year to test the radios. Once vendors are selected, production would begin in fiscal year 2017.
The HMS manpack has been in development since 2004 and in low-rate production since 2011. It is made by General Dynamics C4 Systems and Rockwell Collins Corp. The HMS rifleman variant also is in low-rate production by General Dynamics and Thales Defense. The new RFP would open up the radio market to other vendors. Potential contenders like Harris Corp. and Exelis would offer commercially developed radios that are not in the HMS program.
But even as this major procurement gets under way, industry and government officials said the Army continues to rethink the structure of the network and is considering adding another radio to the mix in response to concerns about the performance and utility of the HMS devices.
In the face of shrinking budgets, the Army also is revisiting its earlier plans to supply rifleman radios to every soldier and manpack radios to every platoon. In the early days of the HMS program, vendors were hoping for future sales of up to 120,000 rifleman radios, 71,000 manpack radios, 2,000 vehicular four-channel radios and 7,000 small airborne networking radios. Those numbers now seem unrealistic.
In recent weeks, Army official have discussed the possibility of curtailing the single-channel rifleman radio buy and add a new variant, a two-channel handheld radio for small-unit leaders. This is in response to recent combat exercises where soldiers concluded they were better served by a two-channel radio that runs the SINCGARS waveform for voice communications and the soldier radio waveform, or SRW, for data services. The HMS manpack variant runs two channels, but the radio received poor reviews. A June memorandum — signed by Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, commander of the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, in Fort Benning, Georgia — lists several performance shortfalls of the manpack radio that was tested by dismounted soldiers, including excessive weight.
Industry and government sources told National Defense that while the HMS program is not in danger, the Army indeed is having second thoughts about the larger radio portfolio and officials are raising concerns about its affordability.
Over the course of seven technology rehearsal exercises at Fort Bliss, which the Army calls "network integration evaluations" and other tests at Fort Benning, Army leaders collected feedback from soldiers and concluded that they should reconsider the types of radios that would be fielded to mounted and dismounted soldiers. "That analysis is ongoing," an Army official said.
McMaster's criticism, particularly, has prompted questions about the density and placement of radios in Army formations. One of the changes could be adding a two-channel portable for dismounted soldiers and install the heavier manpack in vehicles instead. One proposal is to provide rifleman radios to team leaders, two-channel handheld devices to squad and platoon leaders, and manpacks to company commanders.
The official said this level of analysis is to be expected in complex programs such as the Army's network and is a sign that the Army is gaining a better understanding of what it needs.
The Army so far has made no decision regarding the two-channel handheld radio, and it could be months or years before such a requirement is approved and funded. These radios already are available for the military market. Vendors such as Thales and Harris are developing two-channel handheld radios for U.S. Special Operations Command.
Industry insiders point out that the Army has had a requirement for a two-channel handheld radio since 2006, but it was never funded. The Army now could amend the so-called "capabilities production document" that allows it to buy the rifleman radio and expand it to include a two-channel handheld which would operate the SINCGARS and SRW waveforms. The ongoing debate on this would explain why the request for vendor proposals for the HMS radios has been delayed for months.
HMS program officials are still anxiously awaiting the results of operational tests conducted by the Pentagon's independent tester J. Michael Gilmore. Any bad review from Gilmore would only compound the program's woes in the wake of McMaster's report.
Also unnerving Army officials is the upcoming operational test of the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) increment 2. The system provides high-speed voice, data and video communications in moving vehicles, at the company level.
The upcoming test at Fort Bliss will be WIN-T's third operational test and evaluation. Sources close to PEO C3T said Hughes sees the coming test as a decisive one. If the Army fails to show progress with WIN-T increment 2, Congress could take away future funding. A successful operational test would allow WIN-T, which is made by General Dynamics, to go into full-rate production. This would give Hughes the freedom to introduce "engineering change proposals" to make the system easier to operate — he has said he wants to make it more user friendly — and to synchronize the procurements of WIN-T and HMS radios. Not being able to sync up these programs has complicated efforts to build the network thus far, one industry expert said. "It is not an excuse. It's the reality. There's been a lack of synchronization."
Being able to reengineer parts of WIN-T hardware and software is key to its success, one official said, but procurement rules dictate that major changes cannot be made to a major weapon system, so it has to clear operational tests in its current configuration.
Photo: Undersecretary of the Army Brad R. Carson toured the site of the Network
Integration Evaluation 14.2. (Army)
By Sandra I. Erwin
During a recent visit to the 9/11 museum in New York City, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno took a look back in time. He was particularly struck by eerie similarities between threats made by al-Qaida in the early 1990s and those being made now by the Islamic State.
The Islamic State, also known as ISIL, is rapidly destabilizing the Middle East as it captures more territory in Iraq and Syria. But Odierno is convinced that its ultimate goal is to attack the West, especially the United States.
“If you don't believe they want to attack the West, and America, you're kidding yourself,” Odierno told reporters Sept. 19 during a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C.
Odierno predicts that ISIL could become an “existential threat” if the United States and its allies are not able to contain its expansion within the next two to three years.
The current plan is to train and equip Iraqi forces and Syrian rebels to do the heavy fighting on the ground, with the United States providing air power and intelligence support. The Obama administration approved the deployment of 1,600 military advisors to help the Iraqi government coordinate air strikes and train its army. The president has been adamant that he will not send U.S. troops to fight on the ground.
Odierno just returned from Europe, where he got into political hot water for suggesting that ground forces would be needed to defeat ISIL. He insisted that by “ground forces,” he meant Iraqi troops. But he cautioned that he could not rule out the possibility that the United States might have to increase its presence on the ground if the current strategy does not show tangible progress over the next two to three years.
“I don't ever rule anything out,” said Odierno. “We all agree with the current strategy,” he said of Obama’s plan. “But if down the road, ISIL becomes an existential threat to the United States and we haven't achieved our objectives, you always have to reassess, that's all I'm saying.”
Odierno stood behind controversial comments made by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Sept. 16. Dempsey said he would recommend to the president that U.S. advisors accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against ISIL targets if and when he reaches the point when he believes that will be necessary.
“This is not a short term fight,” Odierno said. “We have to adjust as we go along. … There is no rush to have lots of people there —1,600 is a good start.”
For now, “we have the right strategy,” said Odierno. “We have to allow time for it to work.” In a perfect world, it would be the Iraqis who defeat ISIL on their own, but if they fall short over the next couple of years, “we have to reassess,” he said.
Odierno said the fight against ISIL will require “air, ground and 'whole of government' capabilities” such as diplomacy, political means and economic development. The population has to be protected from the “incredible violence that ISIL brings to the community,” he said. The Iraqis and whoever else joins the coalition will be trained in counterinsurgency warfare. “That is what I believe needs to be done,” he said. “As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it's our responsibility to provide advice to the defense secretary. But ultimately the president makes the decisions.”
One of Odierno’s biggest concerns about the current strategy is that it hinges on political developments in Iraq, and whether the Iraqi population rallies behind its army to help flush out ISIL. “You have to have the population supporting you to defeat ISIL,” he said. “Air strikes alone will not defeat or destroy ISIS, it will slow their advance.”
He worries that the Iraqi government is moving too slowly in building a consensus government that includes Sunnis and Kurds. “They have not yet appointed a minister of defense or a minister of interior, so we are watching that very carefully,” Odierno said.
The government there must be one in which Iraqis believe, he said. “If that doesn't happen, we're going to have a lot of trouble inside Iraq.”
Odierno commanded the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq and served as the Commanding General, Multi-National Corps Iraq, and was the top commander of Multinational Force Iraq and United States Forces Iraq. When he left the country in 2010, Odierno never imagined the army he helped build would collapse so suddenly.
“It has been disappointing to watch what's happened in Iraq,” he said. Just four years ago, “I truly believed security was good, the economy was growing, a government was elected.” He blames the Shiite government’s sectarian policies for the breakdown of the military — as Sunni leaders were replaced by government loyalists — which allowed ISIL to exploit the divide and swoop in.
Iraq’s leaders have to “rebuild the trust,” he said. “They need the support of Sunni tribes. That has to be a major effort.”
The current plan is to train and equip 26 Iraqi brigades. Only half of the existing army is “trainable,” he said. The other half includes sectarian militias that the U.S. military sees as problematic. “We certainly are not going to train militias,” Odierno said. Iraqi forces will be trained both in counterinsurgency and combat tactics to fight ISIL. They also have a large arsenal of U.S. weaponry.
If other nations decide to join the coalition, he said, they will be trained and equipped as well, and the United States will provide them intelligence and targeting support.
Although U.S. air strikes so far have inflicted damage on ISIL, a major worry for U.S. commanders is the possibility that insurgents will use women and children as human shields. If civilians are killed, that will turn Iraqis against the United States and that could deal a major blow to the current strategy.
“That's the worst thing that could happen for us, if we start killing innocent Iraqis,” said Odierno. “We have to be careful and precise.” The targets pursued so far, such as armored vehicles and artillery, have been clearly identifiable. “They're very difficult to hide in the middle of the desert,” he said. Odierno fears ISIL fighters are going to start “infiltrating back into the population. That's when it's going to become more difficult. That's why you have to have the Iraqi forces trained to go in there.” This is the same problem that U.S. forces faced over a decade of war in Iraq.
With regard to Syria, Odierno said he backs the administration’s plan — and approved by Congress Sept. 18 — to train 5,000 Syrian rebels over the coming year. But he hinted that this is only the beginning of a much bigger effort.
“Five thousand is a good number to start,” he said. More than that would be tough to handle now because these fighters have to be individually vetted to make sure they are not militants with extremist agendas.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
By Sandra I. Erwin
The U.S. military is in a technology rut. American weaponry has ruled for decades, but that lead is at risk as countries like China continue to chip away. And although the Pentagon has far and away the world's biggest arms budget, military equipment is showing its age and efforts to modernize are sluggish at best.
These are the uncomfortable realities that shaped the latest update of the "better buying power" procurement rulebook the Pentagon unveiled Sept. 19. The new version, BBP 3.0, is a call to arms to engineers, researchers and technologists.
"It's motivated in part by my continuing concern with technological superiority and the fact that our capabilities in the world are being contested by others — people developing, modernizing, and building systems that threaten our superiority," said Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall.
Kendall has been sounding alarms about the U.S. technology slump for years, and believes the Pentagon must rev up the innovation engine so it can deploy more advanced weaponry in the coming years. Also behind this new emphasis on technological achievement is Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work, who is leading a separate study on military technology gaps that will shape future budgets.
Better Buying Power 3.0 is the third of a series that began in 2010 when Kendall's predecessor Ashton Carter unveiled BBP 1.0, followed by 2.0 in 2012. The first two iterations dealt with contracting methods and with the process of buying things. BBP 3.0 is less about how the Pentagon acquires products and services, and more about what it needs to buy.
In that vein, the Pentagon will more closely monitor the military services' research-and-development programs to ensure they are investing wisely, said Kendall. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Engineering Stephen Welby will oversee long-term R&D plans for the entire department. "Given the resource constraints that we have, focusing our long-range R&D on the things that are the highest payoff and that are strategically significant to us is especially important right now," Kendall said during a meeting with reporters at the Pentagon.
One of the reasons the military is falling behind the technology curve is that weapons systems are not engineered for easy upgrades. So what might be cutting-edge technology at the outset of a program becomes outdated by the time it gets in the hands of military service members. Kendall does not see weapon development cycles getting much shorter, but he wants to be able to update weapon systems in response to emerging threats, without having to start over with new a design. He will direct procurement officials to stay in touch with the intelligence community and keep up with technology advances around the world that could potentially undermine U.S. weapons systems. Kendall will ask intelligence analysts to help Pentagon program managers understand what enemies might be doing to counter U.S. technology, "so we can anticipate that and account for that in our designs." Electronic warfare technology, for example, is advancing rapidly and U.S. systems should be designed to be easily retrofitted with new countermeasures. Navy warships, which stay in service for decades, should be modified as anti-ship weapons become more sophisticated. In hindsight, Kendall said, the Navy's littoral combat ships might have been designed with better survivability had there been more awareness of potential threats. "That's the type of change I'm thinking of," he said.
Other countries, especially China, have "watched very carefully what we had done and reacted to it. And they've been reacting for the last 25 years," said Kendall. The United States, meanwhile, continues to rely on technologies that, although still dominant, are several decades old. "So it's time to think about another cycle of capabilities."
Some of the buzzwords in BBP 3.0, such as “technology insertion” and “refresh,” are not new, but “need to be emphasized,” said Kendall. “We have pushed for modular, open systems for a long time. We've had mixed success with that,” he said. “I think a lot of it has to do with successful management of intellectual property and managing design interfaces.”
To become more technologically agile, the Pentagon has to change its hidebound culture, Kendall said.
Productivity has to increase both in industry and government, he said. The Pentagon believes that competitive market forces motivate suppliers to improve products and lower prices. "We're going to continue to emphasize incentive-type contracts," said Kendall. "Whether they're cost-plus or fixed-price, you tend to get the same type of improved results in either case."
The Defense Department is often criticized for favoring a handful of top prime contractors and not opening up the market to outsiders. Kendall said one of the goals of BBP 3.0 is to "lower the barriers" to competitors. This is imperative as most of the R&D investment now comes from the private sector. "There are a lot of technologies that are moving more quickly in the commercial world than they are in the military-unique technology world," Kendall said. "We want to be able to capitalize on them as much as we can." He suggested it would benefit the Pentagon to seek sources of technology globally and not just in domestic markets.
“I want to look at the barriers to people selling to the government,” he said. One is the fact that the Defense Department buys in small quantities. Another is the cost accounting system and contracting requirements. Defense buyers need to know what keeps suppliers from engaging with the government, said Kendall. “I would like to work with industry to understand those barriers and see what we can do to remove them where it's possible to do so.”
With the Pentagon's R&D budget on a downward slide — from $80 billion in 2010 to $63 billion in 2014 — officials are feeling pressure to show results. The Pentagon reimburses defense contractors about $4 billion a year for R&D projects, and the return on that investment is not clear, said Kendall. More oversight is in order, he said. Government-owned laboratories will be scrutinized, too. "We're going to take a hard look at the DoD laboratories," said Kendall. "We've spent a lot of money there and are trying to get a higher return out of our laboratories."
Many of the initiatives in BBP 3.0 aim to motivate the private sector to invest in military-relevant R&D and to help the Pentagon avoid costly procurement fiascos.
A long-standing gripe of defense contractors is that they have little time to respond to DoD solicitations, particularly those for complex systems. Kendall will be directing program officials to release requirements in draft form to industry early, to give contractors a chance to start to prepare for future acquisitions, “and also to give us some feedback on those requirements from the point of view of costs and technical feasibility and risk.”
Kendall insists that financial incentives are what ultimately influence contractor behavior. He insists the Pentagon will increase contract awards based on “best value,” as opposed to picking the lowest cost bid. “We're going to continue the practice of letting industry know what we're willing to pay for better performance so they can bid intelligently.”
The Defense Department has over the years wasted billions of dollars on programs that, from the outset, were doomed because the technology promised by the contractors was out of reach. Under the current system, contractors are rewarded for gee whiz Powerpoint slides rather than for being straight about the art of the possible. Kendall wants to change that by involving contractors earlier in the cycle and getting candid assessments of what is realistic and financially doable.
After the release of BBP 3.0, the Pentagon will allow two to three months for the public to comment before the document is finalized early next year.
Analysts and industry insiders are skeptical that documents like BBP 3.0 will substantially change the status quo. The tenets of BBP 3.0 are motherhood and apple pie, but turning them into actionable policies will be a tall order, they contend. The highly bureaucratic procurement system — which emphasizes oversight, monitoring, reporting and top-down direction — is a hindrance to innovation, said military analyst Daniel Gouré, of the Lexington Institute, a think tank funded by top defense contractors.
“Russia and China are catching up technologically not because they are smarter or more inventive but because they are unencumbered by an archaic acquisition system,” he wrote in a blog post. “The real game changer would be if the Pentagon could acquire and field new capabilities in half the time and at reduced cost. Of equal significance would be using commercial best practices in maintenance, sustainment and supply chain management to lower the life cycle costs for military systems.”
He credits BBP 3.0 for promoting greater use of modular and open systems architectures and for suggesting contractors should be informed about military requirements earlier in the acquisition process. Gouré also gives Kendall kudos for seeking to remove obstacles to procuring commercial items from the global market.
“BBP 3.0 is a move in the right direction. But it is not a game changer,” Gouré said. “If we want a true defense revolution, get the acquisition system out of the way.”
Industry insiders have argued for years that, to be more nimble, the Pentagon should take a page from the book of one of its own organizations, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA has been ahead of the rest of the Defense Department in recruiting new vendors and pushing the technology envelope, industry analysts point out. Its productivity also is significantly higher. With a $3 billion budget, DARPA can do the job with 1,000 people. The military’s major laboratories have smaller budgets but much larger workforces. Until the Pentagon tackles its bloated overhead, analysts said, it will be financially difficult to invest in equipment modernization.
Experts also question the Pentagon’s avowed commitment to market competition as the ticket to lower costs and better technology. Most of the Pentagon’s technology dollars are captured by a small group of prime contractors, and these firms likely will continue to have a stranglehold on the available budget. That puts greater pressure on the rest of the industry and on smaller firms that generate much of the innovative technology the Pentagon wants. Having the preponderance of defense R&D dollars concentrated in a handful of firms with huge overhead costs is unproductive, one executive noted.
Small businesses are now a hotbed of innovation, but getting their foot in the door is a Sisyphean climb. It is not clear how BBP 3.0 will change that reality.
Dealing with the defense procurement system is a “battle we face every day,” said Sean Varah, CEO of MotionDSP. The Silicon Valley firm develops image processing software used by military and intelligence analysts across the government.
MotionDSP’s software is an example of a product the government didn’t know it needed until it saw it. There are thousands of technologies funded by the private sector that might be of use to the military, if only government buyers knew where to look. “They need to be able to buy more readily available commercial products,” Varah said. The Defense Department pays contractors hundreds of millions of dollars to write government-owned software from scratch that becomes obsolete within months, while better and cheaper products already exist, he said. “Private funding is investing in commercial R&D and creating products, at no taxpayer cost.”
Photo: Frank Kendall (Defense Dept.)
By Stew Magnuson
The director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan called the Islamic State in the Levant a threat to the stability of the Middle East, including vital U.S interests.
“This is something that has to be cauterized immediately and destroyed as quickly as possible,” he said Sept 18. He called the organization a “murderous, barbaric, criminal gang.”
Yet the United States will have to take a more holistic approach to defeating the ISIL ideology, he said. “We can’t kill our way out of this.” Policymakers must understand the “drivers” that are sustaining ISIL and allowing it to gather more adherents.
“This is something that is going to be with us for a generation,” he said.
Brennan spoke along with the directors of the National Security Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Intelligence and National Security Summit in Washington, D.C.
Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, said, “Don’t underestimate how success can breed change in others.” The group’s power may snowball if it continues to have success, he warned.
If ISIL’s tactics are seen by similarly minded individuals around the world as successful, more of them will want to “get on that train.”
“If this idea expands beyond a single group — right now rather geographically focused in its disposition — to something even broader, that’s really bad,” Rogers said.
ISIL is particularly adept at using social media and the Internet to spread its messages and recruit, the directors said.
If the answer to destroying the ISIL is more than just a “killing our way out of this,” as Brennan said, then the intelligence community must be able to explain to policymakers the underpinnings that are providing support to the organization. Then other elements of the nation’s power can be brought to bear against it, Rogers said.
The heads of the four three-letter agencies all agreed that the proper name for the organization was ISIL, rather than ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. It’s propaganda, and leaders have ambitions far beyond Syria’s borders, they said.
“That is why the ‘L’ is a much more accurate description in the acronym than the ‘S’ because it is in fact about Lebanon, Jordan and beyond,” said Acting DIA Director David Shedd.
All four leaders gave their organizations high marks when it came to spotting the current crises in Iraq and Ukraine ahead of time. As for ISIL, the rise of the organization, which first came to being as al-Qaida in Iraq before joining forces with radicals fighting the Assad regime in Syria, was somewhat unexpected.
“I certainly think that the intelligence community did a very good job on both those issues as far as trying to ensure that policymakers were informed about the evolving threats on the ground,” Brennan said.
“We had been looking at for many months how the former al-Qaida in Iraq, which then combined forces with elements inside Syria were growing in ability in Anbar, Fallujah and those areas, and how they were expanding their reach,” he added
The NGA gave strategic warning, but all those indicators don’t give intelligence agencies “intent,” its director Letitia Long said. “And that is the most difficult thing to do.”
Rogers said the NSA did well on the Ukraine, but did not do as good a job on the rise of ISIL. “If I’m honest with myself, I wish the transition of ISIL from an insurgency to an organization that was also focused on holding ground, territory, the mechanisms of governance … I wish we had been a little bit stronger.”
Answering criticism that the intelligence agency did not foresee the collapse of the Iraqi army, Brennan said it is hard to predict such events.
“Looking back over the past several months on both those issues, I think we teed up the right issues for policymakers … [but] these are very very complex, difficult issues and you’re never going to get perfect insight into those developments that are going to allow you to foresee the future,” Brennan said.
It was more difficult to assess the ability of the Iraqi army to withstand a concerted effort on the part of ISIL to take territory. That, and the Sunni’s disaffection from the Iraqi government, allowed ISIL “like a water leak, to move forward without any resistance.”
Iraqi forces at outposts were totally overwhelmed by ISIL’s barbarism. That resulted in a cascading effect that is hard to calculate and assess, he said. No longer having a permanent presence in the nation was a hindrance, he added. “Unless you’re actually there, you’re getting second- and third-hand information.”
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
By Yasmin Tadjdeh
The Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to stop radicalized foreign fighters in Syria from entering the United States, Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
As foreigners including U.S. citizens, travel to Syria to fight with rebel forces against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the department has become increasingly worried that they could return with terrorist sympathies and training.
“We’re very focused on those who leave their home countries, including the United States, to travel to Syria to take up the fight against the regime there,” Johnson said Sept. 17 at the Air Force Association’s annual Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
“We’re concerned that these individuals may hook up with extremists and become indoctrinated by their ideology and return to their home countries motivated to commit terrorist acts,” he said.
One of these organizations, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has emerged as a particularly violent group, Johnson said.
“ISIL is by all accounts a dangerous terrorist organization. They have both the elements of a terrorist group and an insurgent army,” he said. “They are a band of murders, rapists and terrorists.”
To ensure that foreign fighters do not return to the United States, DHS has since July enhanced its screening policies at last point of departure airports overseas, before potential terrorists can arrive in the country, he said.
“We’re making progress building more pre-clearance capabilities overseas,” Johnson said. “Together with our law enforcement and intelligence community partners, we are doing a better job … of tracking foreign fighters, of sharing information concerning foreign fighters.”
DHS is also evaluating if more information should be required from those traveling from visa-waiver countries to the United States, Johnson said.
“There are large numbers of foreign fighters from [coming to the United States] countries … from which we do not require a visa to come to this country. So the concern is that someone could go to Syria from another country, become radicalized, indoctrinated, come back to their country and then travel to our country without the need for a visa,” he said.
So far, intelligence reports have found no credible threat from ISIS to attack the homeland, Johnson said. Still, the organization is of particular concern.
The group takes in over $1 million a day in revenue, he said. ISIS is currently occupying large swaths of Iraq and Syria and violently killing those in its way.
Its wealth and use of propaganda makes them unique, Johnson said.
“ISIL is very adept at social media, propaganda [and] recruitment. Their social media, their literature is as slick as any terrorist organization’s that I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Another measure DHS — along with the Department of Justice and the FBI — is taking is educating people about ISIS’ violent work and stopping misinformation, Johnson said.
“I believe that it’s important that we deliver the message here at home that ISIL is neither Islamic nor a state. They are a band of terrorists. They are not out to defend or free Muslims. They kill Muslims,” he said.
Johnson said he took this message to a Syrian-American organization in Chicago earlier this year, and will go to a Somali community organization next week in Columbus, Ohio.
DHS is also working to counter violent extremism at home, especially those from ‘lone wolf’ actors, he said. Lone wolf attacks are characterized by the presence of a single terrorist who is influenced by the goals of a terror organization but works without any formal support from the group.
“It is still a huge agenda item … [to counter] those who read the literature, who may become indoctrinated from a distance. That is a major, major initiative of ours,” Johnson said. “In many respects, this type of terrorist threat is harder to detect than the terrorist threat from overseas. It could strike at any moment.”
Photo: Jeh Johnson at the 2014 Air Force Association Air & Space Conference (Defense Dept.)