US Military News, Reports, Data, etc.

Sep 24, 2018
Aug 10, 2018
and in the meantime the cost estimate became available,
So what do you get for $13 billion?
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LOL here's the follow-up
Report: Trump may fire Air Force Secretary Wilson over Space Force
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President Trump is considering firing U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson after the midterm elections due to her perceived slow-rolling of his order to create a separate
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, according to a
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In an article posted online Thursday afternoon, Foreign Policy reported that Trump and Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan are “angered ... with what is seen as a campaign to undermine the
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effort” by Wilson. Citing three unnamed sources, Foreign Policy reported that Trump has not made a final decision on firing Wilson, but that potential replacements, including Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., are being considered.

When asked to comment by Air Force Times, the service referred any questions to the White House.

In a statement, Shanahan said he “greatly appreciate Secretary Wilson’s leadership, commitment, and vision.”

“We are partnered on implementing the National Defense Strategy and winning,” Shanahan said. “We’re focused on the future of the department. There is no groupthink in the Pentagon as we deal with complex real-world decisions as making large scale institutional change is difficult and demanding.”

Wilson was previously a critic of proposals to create a sixth separate branch of the military to
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, and told Congress that taking space operations out of the Air Force would jeopardize its efforts to integrate space with other war-fighting operations.

But at the Defense News Conference last month, Wilson said she was in “complete alignment” with Trump’s order to create a Space Force.

“If we’re going to do this, let’s propose to do it right,” Wilson said. “Let’s have this debate, support the president’s proposal and put it forward — and make sure that we don’t do this with half measures.”

Foreign Policy reported that Trump became angry at Wilson this summer, when the White House deemed the Air Force’s first draft of a plan to stand up a Space Force inadequate and rejected it.

In a Sept. 14 memo signed by Wilson, the Air Force estimated that creating a Space Force would cost $13 billion over five years. Some experts, such as Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that estimate was grossly inflated. Harrison suggested the Air Force’s estimate may be an effort to “sabotage the idea by making it seem much broader and more expensive than it really would be.”

But skeptical lawmakers, including such Republicans as Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, felt the projected price tag reinforced their concern that creating a new Space Force would be an expensive, unnecessary boondoggle.

Foreign Policy reported that Wilson and Shanahan have frequently butted heads, and quoted a source as saying he “hates her guts.”

But she is well-known to have a strong relationship with Vice President Mike Pence, who made a surprise appearance with her last month at the Air Force Association’s Air Space Cyber conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
sad Heritage Report: Aging Navy Fleet Complicates Tradeoff Between Buying New Ships, Fixing Old Ones
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The Heritage Foundation released its fifth annual
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that stated the armed services are too small, too old and not ready enough to support a credible two-war battle force.

“The deterrent value is certainly being compromised” by these factors, Dakota Wood, senior research fellow for defense programs at Heritage and lead editor of the index, said at a Thursday morning rollout event.

For the Navy specifically, the index highlights the need to grow the fleet and boost its readiness – but it also demonstrates how the age of many of today’s ships will complicate that effort.

For instance, 10 ship classes have an average ship age that is more than halfway through the ship’s expected service life, and two of those are more than 75 percent through their expected service life: the Avenger-class mine countermeasure ships and the Los Angeles-class attack submarines. Just five ship classes are below that 50-percent service life mark.

Another way of looking at the fleet’s age is that half the ships are more than 20 years old. These older ships bring with them increased maintenance challenges and higher costs to keep ready – a fact made clear by
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and back to the fleet.

With a force that skews towards older ships, the Navy can expect a hefty bill in the coming decades to simply replace these ships on a one-for-one basis, let alone grow the force.

The Navy has plans to grow to a 355-ship fleet. The timeline for reaching that figure was accelerated due to a class-wide service life extension for all Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, but ultimately that just delays a dip in the fleet once those DDGs eventually decommission.

The Heritage Foundation, though, recommends a 400-ship Navy to support a two-war capability – which the Pentagon had years ago endorsed but later revised to being able to fight one war and deter aggression in a second theater.

The index assesses that, to fight and win two major contingencies, the Navy would need to provide 13 carrier strike groups and 12 expeditionary strike groups simultaneously, based on historical data of forces used during major wars and contingencies. To keep that sized force forward, with follow-on forces training at home and ships being maintained ahead of rotating forward, the Navy would need 400 ships. The service has 284
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, which is 29 percent short of the 400-ship figure.

Overall the index rates the Navy as “marginal” in strength – the middle rating, essentially a 3 out of 5. Navy capability and readiness also scored a marginal rating. Capacity, though, is rated as weak, or a 2 out of 5.

Wood said during the index rollout that quantity is a major factor when he looks at the strength of the military as a deterrent force: the Navy needs to sufficient numbers “to commit a force, and have uncommitted capability either for reinforcement or to have time and resources available for training and competency.”

Extending the life of the destroyers, for example, does help boost the numbers, but he cautioned against relying on that too much.

“Do I continue to extend the life of a legacy platform to the point where the maintenance cost are eating my budget up and it’s not really giving me relevant, credible combat power with the unfolding of newer battlefields, with the ability of the enemy to bring fires against me?” he told USNI News during a question and answer session.
“And yet, you still need this numbers issue. So if the Navy is really hampered by lack of ships, how do I get more ship hulls into the water? Well, I have steel right here tied to the pier. So I think in the prioritization within that decision (to extend the DDG service life), they said the need for hulls at the moment outweighs the need to stop those kinds of modernization efforts and apply that money to some future ship that maybe hasn’t even been designed yet.”

He noted that uncertainty about the future may be part of the issue for the Navy today. Numerous studies have suggested that a potential war in the Pacific, for example, would require capabilities and ship classes the Navy does not have today, such as a corvette, a frigate, a light carrier and other ideas. Wood said the Navy needs to come to a decision on whether a fight within the enemy’s threat ring would be fought with power concentrated on large ships, like an aircraft carrier, or with a flotilla of smaller patrol craft and small combatants; and if an amphibious assault would require large amphibious assault ships with large well decks, or “something else.”

“Nobody knows what the something else is, so I’m very reluctant, as a service, to let go of something that I currently have and I have utility for given today’s challenges, in the hope that I’m going to be able to grab onto something that’s not even off the design books,” he said.
and now something from the Pentagon Modly: Unmanned Systems ‘Huge Priority’ in Building a Bigger Fleet
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When talking about the future fleet size, the Navy’s No. 2 civilian leader says he calls it “355-plus,” with the “plus” meaning a lot of unmanned systems and other innovative things not normally considered part of the fleet.

“Unmanned is a huge priority for the Navy,” which is looking at a range of systems to take advantage of the “huge advances in unmanned” technology, Navy Undersecretary Thomas B. Modly told a Defense Writers Group breakfast Oct. 4.

Despite that push to add unmanned systems, Modly said there is no quota or goal for the share of the fleet they will fill.

“We are definitely on a path to building a bigger fleet” and it will include “a bigger integration of unmanned.”

The Navy and Marine Corps already are fielding a large number of unmanned air and ground vehicles and surface and subsurface vessels, and are developing larger and more capable systems. The Navy recently awarded a contract to Boeing to produce the MQ-25 Stingray, a carrier-based unmanned aerial refueling jet, and the Marines want a large Group 5 unmanned aerial vehicle that can operate from amphibious ships.

Modly said a new Navy force structure plan should go to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer next month and probably would be released early next year.

A lot of things have changed since the last plan was released in 2016, he said, including the build-up of Chinese capabilities and activities in the Pacific, how unmanned systems would fit in and the effect of the planned new frigate on the force of small surface combatants.

Modly said the larger fleet obviously would require more Sailors. Asked whether there were concerns that those plans to add personnel would hit the same problems the Army suffered when it fell 6,500 short of its recruiting goal in fiscal 2018, he conceded the Navy “was going to face the same challenges.” Recruiting always becomes more difficult in a “hot economy” with low unemployment rates, he said.

“We always have to make the case that the Navy is a good place to start a career,” with its training opportunities, and “the ships are more comfortable to live in” than when he served in the Navy several decades ago.

Modly said the Navy was making a maximum effort to improve the sustainability of its ships and aircraft, with investments in the shipyards and a focus on improving the maintenance and supply of spare parts for the F/A-18s, which suffered badly during the years of tight budgets.

He did not believe that the emerging “dynamic deployment” concept would interfere with the planned maintenance cycle for ships, like a similar aggressive deployment plan a decade ago that had caused an epidemic of unfit ships. The ships would make their six-month deployments as scheduled so they could meet the planned maintenance periods, he said.

But what the ships would do during that deployment will be different, he said, noting the recent unusual activities of the USS Harry S. Truman battlegroup.

The “dynamic deployment” concept was proposed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who said U.S. forces should be strategically predictable but tactically unpredictable.

Modly recently returned from an extensive tour of many of the small island nations in the Pacific. He said the impression he gained from their leaders was a strong desire for more U.S. presence, including port visits, and help in improving their capabilities to monitor their territorial waters.
Sep 12, 2018
Feb 27, 2018
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President Trump approved a major study of America's national security economy last week after meeting with Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. But Hurricane Florence might have something to say about when it's released!
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Congress and China have emerged as the primary culprits for the weakening the US defense industrial base. Those are the most striking findings of a new White House report that takes a deep-dive into the state of defense manufacturing in the United States, sounding alarm bells over the decline in capability and the rise of China’s industrial might.

just don't have time to read it right now LOL
Sep 12, 2018
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Congress and China have emerged as the primary culprits for the weakening the US defense industrial base. Those are the most striking findings of a new White House report that takes a deep-dive into the state of defense manufacturing in the United States, sounding alarm bells over the decline in capability and the rise of China’s industrial might.

just don't have time to read it right now LOL
back at home, so
Congress and China have emerged as the primary culprits for the weakening the US defense industrial base. Those are the most striking findings of a new White House report that takes a deep-dive into the state of defense manufacturing in the United States, sounding alarm bells over the decline in capability and the rise of China’s industrial might.

Nothing, the report indicates, has harmed America’s industrial base more than the self-inflicted harm of sequestration.

“The decade-long reliance on Congressional continuing resolutions has exacerbated uncertainty, both for DoD and across the supply chain. Combined with the adverse impacts of the Budget Control Act, these fluctuations challenge the viability of suppliers within the industrial base by diminishing their ability to hire and retain a skilled workforce, achieving production efficiencies, and in some cases, staying in business,” the report says. “Without correcting or mitigating this U.S. Government- inflicted damage, DoD will be increasingly challenged to ensure a secure and viable supply chain for the platforms critical to sustaining American military dominance.”

While sequestration is listed as the top problem, China gets many more mentions (emphasis ours):
Predatory practices including state-sponsored dumping, public subsidies, and intellectual property theft are destroying commercial product lines and markets of domestic DoD suppliers,” the report says. “The loss of commercial business can lead to the loss of domestic production capabilities essential to U.S. defense and essential civilian needs. Impacted materials are widely used across multiple DoD systems and all major defense sectors (land, sea, air, and space systems).”
“In multiple cases,” it notes, “the sole remaining domestic producer of materials critical to DoD are on the verge of shutting down their U.S. factory and importing lower cost materials from the same foreign producer country who is forcing them out of domestic production…..”
“Without relief from unlawful and otherwise unfair trade practices, the U.S. will face a growing risk of increasing DoD reliance on foreign sources of vital materials.”
The report fits squarely within the Trump administration’s growing trade war with China, and broad concerns throughout the US government that Chinese industrial might in everything from auto production to semiconductors and microchips has pulled ahead of American capacity.

The 130-page report mentions “China” or “Chinese” a whopping 229 times. In the case of China having cornered the market in critical rare earth metals which are central to the US defense industry, it claims “China’s domination of the rare earth element market illustrates the potentially dangerous interaction between Chinese economic aggression, guided by its strategic industrial policies and vulnerabilities and gaps in America’s manufacturing and defense industrial base.”

Breaking Defense reviewed a copy of the report, due to be released by the White House on Friday afternoon with President Trump and Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan. Defense officials said that the report’s specific recommendations are included in a classified annex, but that they expect money to be budgeted beginning next year to help bolster the industrial base where needed, particularly in batteries and fuel cells.

“There will be requests for additional money” in upcoming budgets, Eric Chewning, deputy assistant Defense Secretary for industrial policy, told reporters here Thursday evening. “But I wouldn’t think of this just as an additional ask for money. We also need to be spending more wisely, This isn’t just an investment fix. There’s also legislative fixes; there’s policy fixes; there’s regulatory fixes.”

Alongside Chewning was Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s top acquisition executive, who added, “we are working on a number of things…but this is a policy issue, a technical issue, an education issue, a workforce issue — it’s a whole of government issue.”

The report does call for direct investment in smaller manufacturers most vulnerable to sequestration, spending caps, and the late budgets passed by Congress over the past decade. The Pentagon’s Manufacturing Technology and Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment programs will help address “critical bottlenecks, support fragile suppliers, and mitigate single points-of-failure.”

Both officials underscored that the Labor and Energy departments were involved in crafting the study, and will have a hand in implementing its recommendations.

With the economy having shed millions of manufacturing jobs in recent years, the Pentagon is concerned over a “skill atrophy” that has taken hold, especially among skilled workers who can operate complex machinery so critical to making next-generation weapons systems. The report notes that some 17,000 American companies stopped working as prime contractors for the DoD between 2001 and 2015.

China, China, China. The US competitor is all over the report, and is described as “a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials and technologies deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security; a challenge shared by key allies such as Germany and Australia.

Congress. Top among the issues that the report fingers as problems are the long effects of sequestration and years-long uncertainty of government spending, both of which have played a hand in driving small manufacturers out of the defense space.

The Navy has been hit the hardest. Of all the services, manufacturers of
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components have been taken the deepest cuts due to the globalization of industry over the last 20 years. The contraction “limits competition among U.S. suppliers of Navy components,” forcing the Navy to rely on single and sole source suppliers for critical components.

Eric Fanning, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, said in a statement that his group is “pleased to see that the Administration’s assessment includes measures to: increase our focus on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and other tradecraft; reduce the personnel security clearance backlog; pursue advanced technology to counter future threats; develop shared industrial base strategies with our allies and partners; and, avoid reliance on unstable or single-source providers.”

... goes on right below due to size limit;

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here's the rest:
Examples of a weakened industrial base from the report:

  • There currently exists only one domestic source of ammonium perchlorate, a chemical widely used in DoD propulsion systems. Foreign sources exists, but maintaining a domestic capability is critical to national security.
  • filed for bankruptcy, citing a decline in the military and commercial helicopter market. Without a qualified source for these castings, the program will face delays, impeding the DoD’s ability to field heavy lift support for Marine Corps expeditionary forces.
  • Domestic printed circuit board manufacturing struggles to compete in the global marketplace. Since 2000, the U.S. has seen a 70% decline in its share of global production. Today, Asia produces 90% of worldwide printed circuit boards, and half that production occurs in China. As a result, only one of the top 20 worldwide printed circuit board manufacturers is U.S.-based. With the migration of advanced printed circuit board manufacturing offshore, DoD risks losing visibility into the manufacturing provenance of its electronics.
  • ASZM-TEDA1 impregnated carbon, a defense-unique material provided by a single qualified source, is subject to a single-point-of-failure and demonstrates a capacity constrained supply markets. A lack of competition with other potential sources precludes assurances for best quality and price. While ASZM-TEDA1 is used in 72 DoD chemical, biological, and nuclear filtration systems, the current sourcing arrangements cannot keep pace with demand.
  • The high operational tempo of the Navy in recent years, along with a lack of steady funding for maintenance and modernization, has resulted in a backlog of repair work across the nuclear and non-nuclear fleet. Coupled with increases in new ship construction, many suppliers are experiencing a shortfall in their capacity to perform work and manufacture products.
  • U.S. military “night vision” systems are enabled by an image intensifier tube, a vacuum sealed tube that amplifies a low light-level scene to observable levels. The U.S. is reliant on a German supplier for the image intensifier tube core glass, a DoD-unique product with low demand compared to commercial glass production. While the German supplier manufactures the core glass in batches every few years to replenish a U.S. buffer stock, we still lack a domestic supplier, creating vulnerability in the night vision supply chain.
  • In 2017, a semiconductor chip foundry used in a voltage control switch (used in all DoD missiles systems) was purchased by another foundry. A 5th-tier supplier, the voltage control switch company notified its next tier customer of the foundry closing and received an end-of-life buy order for what was considered enough supply to allow time to qualify a replacement voltage control switch. DoD was not informed of the issue or consulted on the end-of-life quantity until the opportunity to stockpile had passed, at which point it became evident that the end-of-life buy, intended to last 3-5 years, would only last 6 months, putting U.S.
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    at risk.
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Trump Administration, Mattis Appear to Take Contrasting Views on China
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Vice President Mike Pence outlined an aggressive policy against China on Thursday that appeared to contrast with the more measured position taken by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis earlier this week.

Pence accused China of marshaling a wide range of military and non-military means to advance its interests and undermine those of the U.S., including attempts to influence the upcoming elections.

"As we speak, Beijing is employing a whole-of-government approach, using political, economic and military tools, as well as propaganda, to advance its influence and benefit its interests in the United States," Pence said in an address to the conservative Hudson Institute.

He cited China's military buildup on artificial islands in the South China Sea and attempts to limit free navigation, saying the moves reflect China's determination to challenge the U.S. in "more proactive ways than ever before."

The main target of China's trade and military policies is President Donald Trump, Pence said. "President Trump's leadership is working and China wants a different American president."

He also cited the incident in the South China Sea earlier this week in which the Chinese destroyer Luyang
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with the
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destroyer Decatur near the contested Spratly Islands.

The Luyang "conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for Decatur to depart the area," Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet, said in a statement. "The PRC [People's Republic of China] destroyer approached within 45 yards of Decatur's bow, after which Decatur maneuvered to prevent a collision."

In response,
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to China, but he also downplayed the significance of the incident in terms of military-to-military relationships.

He told reporters traveling with him in Paris on Tuesday, "There's tension points in the relationship, but based on discussions coming out of New York last week [at the United Nations] and other things that we have coming up, we do not see it getting worse," The Associated Press reported.

Mattis added, "We'll sort this out."

Last month, he also appeared to be odds with the White House on Syria policy while maintaining that there were no major differences.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton had just announced that the estimated 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria would remain there until Iranian forces and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia withdrew.

At one of his informal sessions with Pentagon reporters, Mattis later said the U.S. presence is mainly contingent upon the defeat of ISIS, but he
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between his position and Bolton's.
New Next-Gen Combat Vehicle outfit takes on light tank and personnel carrier
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The Army’s new
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modernization arm is expanding its scope from
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and ground robots to also guiding more near-term programs through the procurement process.

The NGCV cross-functional team — which serves under the new
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— is taking on the Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, which is being manufactured by BAE Systems and just finished its limited user test, as well as the Mobile Protected Firepower capability.

The Army is close to entering a competitive prototyping phase of the MPF program and expects to choose to industry participants to build the vehicles by the end of the year.

The NGCV’s top priority is to competitively develop prototypes to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle with an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, but that will be farther afield than both the AMPV program and MPF.

Adding MPF and AMPV to the cross-functional team’s portfolio of projects that seek to modernize the Army to operate across multiple domains in denied and challenging environments against peer adversaries may come as a surprise, since the pair of vehicles are not seen as the futuristic capabilities the Army is looking for when it thinks about where the force will be in 2028, when it expects to be fully modernized.

But the thinking goes, according to Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, the NGCV CFT lead, that the outfit’s involvement helps establish a “whole of Army” approach to developing new vehicles.

“The idea is that as one technology develops, we can look across this plate of vehicles and give each of them the best that they can be,” Coffman said.

”We can’t stop evolving our vehicle fleet, we must roll in new technology,” which goes for both AMPV and MPF, he added.

One industry source theorized that moving AMPV and MPF into the Next-Gen Combat Vehicle portfolio would help shelter the programs from possible budget cuts as Congress and the service look at low-hanging fruit as bill payers for its top six modernization priorities that will build the future force.

Since NGCV is the second priority in Army modernization, anything inside its portfolio is likely more protected from the budget ax.

While the NGCV CFT is focused on near-term programs like MPF, AMPV and a Bradley replacement, it will later develop a robotic combat vehicle and a next-generation main battle tank.
please somebody translate from Newspeak