US Military News, Reports, Data, etc.

interesting rounding inside
US Navy awards design contracts for FFG(X) frigate
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"All five contenders have received $14.9 million contracts and are expected to complete the designs by June 2019."

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"The following is the Feb. 16, 2018 contract annoucement from Naval Sea Systems Command.

Austal USA LLC, Mobile, Alabama, is being awarded a $14,999,969 ...

Huntington Ingalls Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi, is being awarded a $14,999,924 ...

Lockheed Martin Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, is being awarded a $14,999,889 ...

Marinette Marine Corp., doing business as Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Marinette, Wisconsin, is being awarded a $14,994,626 ...

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, is being awarded a $14,950,000 ..."
Nov 9, 2017
Oct 8, 2017
R.I.P. and my condolences to their families.:(


Pentagon identifies fourth U.S. soldier slain in Niger ambush

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Pentagon: Niger investigation to be completed by January 2018
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Command Failures Led to Niger Ambush, Explosive Report Shows
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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday that the Pentagon
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in which
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is close to being wrapped up, but that was before The
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published a detailed and damning report based partly on a video of the firefight.

On his plane back to the U.S. following a week-long trip to Europe, Mattis told reporters traveling with him that
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Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the AfriCom commander, has an unspecified timeline for completing his review of the draft of the Article 15-6 fact-finding investigation.

However, it is unclear whether Waldhauser's timeline could be affected by the
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' report Sunday, which contradicted previous Pentagon and AfriCom accounts of an Oct. 4 joint patrol with Nigerien troops that resulted in the ambush outside the village of Tongo Tongo, in northwestern Niger.

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report said that AfriCom poorly planned the joint patrol and then changed the mission three times while it was underway, leading to the deaths of the four Americans, four Nigerien troops and an interpreter.

What was to have been a routine operation with little risk turned into a raid on a terrorist base to capture a militant leader, carried out by troops lacking air or ground backup and who were unprepared and ill-equipped for the task, the Times said.

In addition to the Article 15-6 investigation, the FBI has conducted its own review of the national security implications of the ambush that killed Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida; Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Puyallup, Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Lyons, Georgia.

All were assigned to the
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's Third
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Group. The body of Sgt. La David Johnson was not recovered until two days after the firefight.

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report included gruesome details from the helmet camera of Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson that apparently was seized by the militants who attacked the patrol. The video was later given to a news agency in Mauritania -- Agence Nouakchott d'Information (ANI).

Without disclosing the price, the Times said it bought the video from ANI and submitted it to forensic analysis. The video is being withheld from publication because it shows the deaths of American soldiers and also because it includes Islamic State propaganda, the Times said.

The video shows Black, Jeremiah Johnson, and Wright outnumbered and outgunned as they were cut off in desert scrub from the rest of the patrol.

Black was hit first and fell, mortally wounded. Wright came out of a sports utility vehicle, pulled Black behind the wheel well and continued firing back over the hood of the vehicle, the Times said.

Wright and Jeremiah Johnson then ran to get more cover from the attack. Jeremiah Johnson went down, and Wright turned and fired on the advancing enemy. The militants shot Jeremiah Johnson several more times as he lay on the ground and then turned to kill Wright, the Times said.

Last month, the Pentagon and AfriCom said they were aware of social media posts of
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of Black, Jeremiah Johnson and Wright.

At a Pentagon briefing, Dana White, the chief Pentagon spokesperson, said, "I'm aware of the reports" on the images and the video, but "we have not confirmed the authenticity" of the posts.

Mattis, who met privately with Waldhauser during the European trip, said the AfriCom commander has yet to sign off on the draft of the Article 15-6 investigation led by Army Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier, Waldhauser's chief of staff. Mattis has said previously that the draft is thousands of pages long.

On Saturday, Mattis said Waldhauser "gave me the timeline when he expects to be done with it, and when he expects to forward it to me," but did not give dates for the release of the report, which had been expected in January.

Mattis said he will review the report before giving his own approval, but first, "I want to see his [Waldhauser's] endorsement on it. I want to see where he stands. I want to read that. This is a very extensive -- and rightly extensive -- investigation."

Mattis said the method for the report's release remains the same as described by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford shortly after the ambush.

It will first be released and briefed to the families of the fallen; a classified version will then be sent to Congress. Following that, an unclassified version will be released to the public.

The lengthy
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report cited survivors of the patrol, local villagers, families of the fallen, named and unnamed U.S. and Nigerien officials, and official documentation to call into question the sketchy U.S. accounts thus far of what happened -- from small details to the overall scope and purpose of the U.S. counter-terror mission in Africa.

The Pentagon said there were 12 U.S. troops on the joint patrol. The Times said there were 11, who were originally assigned to a train, advise and assist mission with 30 Nigerien troops.

The Pentagon said U.S. troops in Niger were barred from offensive actions on joint patrols. The Times said the joint patrol diverted to a mission to capture militant leader Doundoun Cheffou, who was believed to have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Cheffou's capture had been assigned to a separate U.S. Special Forces team, but their mission was scrapped, the Times reported. French air support in neighboring Mali that was tasked to assist the Special Forces team was told to stand down.

Someone in command -- the Times could not determine who -- told the joint patrol, which was already underway, to raid a base near the Mali border where Cheffou's presence was suspected. Someone in command did not tell the French of the new mission.

"We had intelligence confirming the presence of this terrorist [Cheffou]," Nigerien Defense Minister Kalla Moutari told the Times. "On the basis of this information, action was taken."

The joint patrol went to the suspected base and found it abandoned, but there was evidence that it had recently been occupied.

Before beginning the return to their own base near Niamey, the Nigerien capital, the patrol stopped in Tongo Tongo to take on water. There, they were delayed by requests for medical supplies from local villagers, who may have alerted the militants to their presence.

South of Tongo Tongo, the attack began.

The patrol "didn't find any militants," the Times said. "Instead, the militants found them."
Inside the Navy's fitful fight against cockpit oxygen loss
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it's incredible they've been working on it for so long
It has been nearly a decade since the Navy’s aviation community saw a dramatic spike in
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, or
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High in the sky, in several air frames, more and more pilots were getting dizzy in the cockpit. They were disoriented, they couldn’t breathe and they became confused, imperiling lives, multimillion dollar jets and readiness in the process.

The Navy has in the past year redoubled its efforts to disentangle the complex causes behind PE, which primarily involves oxygen loss in the cockpit, but can include decompression sickness and other problems.

Pilots can lose consciousness in the grimmest scenarios, but symptom severity varies.

While long-term fixes remain distant, officials say progress is being made on several fronts.

But that effort has come under fire from lawmakers and other federal agencies in recent months. From the
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, the Navy is facing criticism that it came at the crisis in a half-cocked fashion.

A unified, service-wide effort to assess and solve PE did not start in earnest until last year, when the Physiological Episodes Action Team, or PEAT, was stood up.

Rear Adm.
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, a career aviator, was tapped as the PEAT’s
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. But the Navy has announced she will leave that position this summer, after less than a year on the job, an abrupt transition that some lawmakers fear could imperil the team’s progress.

While the Navy has considered the problem since 2009, a unified effort was lacking before PEAT, and Navy medicine was not brought into the fold until the team was formed.

At the same time, the F/A-18, arguably the backbone of the service’s fighter world, has fundamental life support problems in the cockpit, issues that can only be fully solved by retrofitting every Hornet, Super Hornet and Growler with new parts, something that will take years.

PE concerns among pilots in the
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community sparked a refusal to fly last spring and subsequent operational pause.

These concerns are echoed in other airframes as well, leading rank-and-file pilots and jet maintainers to lose faith that leadership will listen to their concerns and solve the problem, according to NASA officials and lawmakers.

Rep. Michael Turner, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee for tactical air and land forces, chided the “failure of the leadership of the Navy” on PE during a hearing this month.

“Navy leadership was initially slow to respond to this issue that is having a direct effect on overall readiness and affecting the confidence of our pilots, as well as their ability to perform their missions,” the Ohio Republican said, according to a transcript.

Naval Air Systems Command, or
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, was tasked by Congress to assess the service’s PE efforts in 2016, and the command brought NASA in to help with the assessment.

NASA delivered a report to Congress late last year that pillories the Navy’s efforts on several fronts.

Turner lauded the report’s insight, but bemoaned that it was full of “things that aren’t happening after things that aren’t happening after things that aren’t happening.

“This has got to be fixed,” Turner said. “This has got to stop. And I don’t have confidence that we’re getting nearer to that. I believe that there are a number of things that are being done, and a number of things that are not being done, that are now being done because the (NASA) report said to do them.”

“A breakdown of trust”

Physiological episodes are not a new phenomenon. Pilots have in the past experienced side effects from the unnatural rigors of flying at such height and speed.

To date, PE plague the Navy’s F/A 18 Hornets and Super Hornets, EA-18G
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and T-45C Goshawks, as well as versions of the Air Force’s T-6 and F-35.

While final solutions to prevent dangerous changes in a cockpit’s pressure or oxygen remain a work in progress, mitigation steps taken in the past year have been fruitful, according to officials.

Tweaks in the T-45 fleet resulted in a drop in PEs, but the root causes and solution are still being studied, according to the team.

“The mitigations put in place to date have greatly reduced the PE rate, improved warnings and cautions for the aircrew and fully restored confidence in the T-45,” the PEAT fact sheet states.

On the Hornet and Growler side, PE related to breathing gas have “decreased significantly” in the past year, according to PEAT, while “aircrew concerns have increased as a result of rising trends in pressure-related PEs.”

Before the establishment of PEAT, efforts were largely “stove-piped,” according to the NASA report, and there was no unifying entity to bring the initiatives together and compare notes.

“Until recently, the absence of a single leader to coordinate and prioritize the Navy’s physiological episodes efforts resulted in organizational stove-piping and the exclusion of key stakeholders,” Clinton Cragg, a former submariner and NASA engineer who led the agency’s assessment, told Congress. “Investigations have been structured as if the physiological episodes were isolated events, rather than a series of related events.”

Cragg said it was “unfortunate” that the Navy’s medical community was not part of the search for a PE solution until last year. Much of the medical effort to combat PE was taking place at the flight line level, with no guidance from higher command, the NASA report found.

“They weren’t asked, so they didn’t participate,” Cragg said. “We were actually very surprised to hear that.”

Rep. Niki Tsongas, the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat, called that shortcoming “particularly troubling.”

“I think most members would assume that the Navy’s medical community would be tightly interested in all aspects of addressing the PE issue,” she said. “Those of us here certainly would be.”

There have been 655 reported PE cases in the past five years, according to Navy figures, mostly involving Hornets and Super Hornets.

PEAT officials said the severity of PE runs the gamut, and 75 percent are classified as low to moderately severe.

While the service contends that PE rates are falling, officials did not provide a yearly breakdown of that data by Navy Times’ deadline.

PEAT has for the first time established Navy protocols that warn aircrews of problems and fix the afflicted machines, Joyner told the House subcommittee this month.

The team’s effort has brought not only Navy medicine and other service entities into the fold, but industry and academic experts as well, she said.

Joyner noted that while jets keep going farther, faster and for longer, “we have encountered challenges in how to best support the human in the cockpit in an ever more dynamic environment.”

The impact of such operations on the human body are not fully understood, she said.

“Today, we benefit from oxygen systems that no longer limit prolonged operations,” Joyner told Congress. “Rather, it’s limited by the constraints of fuel, ordnance and human endurance.”

The Navy’s renewed push to get on top of the PE problem exploded in earnest after T-45 instructor pilots refused to fly the jet last year, citing safety concerns they said were being ignored or downplayed by leadership.

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the rest of the article from the post right above:
Such issues are not limited to those flying the T-45, the NASA report states.

“There has been a breakdown of trust in leadership within the pilot community,” the report found. “This has been precipitated by the failure to find a definitive cause for the PEs, the implementation of ‘fixes’ that do not appear to work … and the belief that Navy leadership is not doing enough to resolve the issue.”

A lack of information led aviators to seek other, unofficial insight on the PE problem, the report states.

As a result, pilots reported to NASA that they sought PE information from maintainers, fellow pilots and engineers, instead of through official information channels.

“Gathering information this way leaves room for inaccuracies and misinformation to spread quickly and gather consensus,” the NASA report notes. “Without trust in leadership, information produced in videos, testimonials, and (situation reports) makes little difference in the population’s perspective on PE progress.”

The Navy’s PEAT now works to ensure that pilots receive updates on the cause of PE events they report up the chain, Joyner said.

“The feedback loop has been strengthened, and we’re making sure that we’re getting that back down to the deck plates, to the aviators, site by site,” she told lawmakers.

A multidisciplinary team now falls on malfunctioning jets to root out the PE’s cause.

“That’s all communicated back to the pilots,” Joyner said.

Before the T-45 pilot strike last spring, aircrews expressed “considerable dissatisfaction” with the lack of information they were receiving from NAVAIR, according to the Navy review

Aircrews were submitting documentation on PE incidents but hearing nothing back, the review found.

NAVAIR briefed training wing personnel in early April, a few days after the first pilots opted not to fly.

“It was not well received,” the Navy’s review found. “The (instructor pilots) felt the NAVAIR team lacked urgency and discounted the severity of a rapid onset hypoxia or the histotoxic condition by telling the (instructor pilots) they were probably hyperventilating.”

Previous commitments prevented Naval Air Training and Naval Air Forces leadership from visiting the affected T-45 wings during those NAVAIR briefings.

“During those dates, (the chief of Naval Air Training) was in Pensacola for the selection of the next Blue Angel Commanding Officer and (the Naval Air Forces commander) was participating in talks with the United Kingdom followed by travel to Yuma, Arizona,” the review states. “Despite their scheduling conflicts, both CNATRA and CNAF remained heavily engaged on the emerging issue.”

‘We can’t afford to lose any more time’

Since then, Joyner said the Navy has “turned the curve” on the T-45 issues.

An oxygen flow problem was determined as the likely cause of the jet’s PE incidents, and the PE rate stands at roughly a fifth of what it was right before the pilots went on strike, Joyner told Congress.

On the Hornet and Growler side, the PEAT is aiming to replace several parts of the breathing and pressurization systems for those jets, according to Joyner’s testimony.

The entire F/A-18 fleet will eventually see their oxygen generation, cabin pressure monitor and alert and pressure regulator valves replaced, according to Joyner.

Still, that remains years away.

PEAT officials said they anticipate that a production contract worth about $85 million for the work will not be awarded until 2020.

Unlike the T-45, the Navy does not plan to install an automatic backup oxygen system in the F/A-18s, Joyner told Congress.

While those permanent fixes remain years away, Joyner said the Navy has been able to make improvements to the F/A-18 that are resulting in a more stable system.

“We see now that we are able to influence the pressure response on the aircraft,” Joyner told Congress. “We’ve been able to make noticeable and observable, measurable changes to the F/A-18, which are resulting in a better, more stable (environmental control system).”

Tsongas noted that new F/A-18s continue to roll off Boeing’s production line.

“At some point, paying $69 million for an aircraft we know has serious problems with its life support systems needs to be questioned,” Tsongas said. “I’m not calling for stopping production, but it seems clear that the Navy and Boeing need to work together and come up with improvements to the F/A-18 that make them safer … and to make sure every single new F/A-18 has those improvements built in from day one and we’re not back here a good number of years hence revisiting these same problems yet again.”

During her days in the cockpit, Joyner said she experienced symptoms that fall on the spectrum of PE effects.

“There were days when I came back and didn’t feel great,” she said in an interview. “The culture we were in, we didn’t point at the aircraft.

Joyner said she is confident that the work of PEAT, and the infrastructure she guided in to place during her less than 12 months in command of the team, will continue after she moves on this summer.

The Navy has not named her replacement and declined to comment as to why she is being moved so soon.

Tsongas lamented Joyner’s fast departure and transfer to a Joint Staff gig.

“Making the change so soon sends an unfortunate message to the entire Navy aviation community, including their families,” Tsongas said.

Hopefully, Joyner’s successor won’t be rotated out so quickly, Tsongas said.

“Because we know change does lead to setbacks,” she said. “And we can’t afford to lose any more time.”
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NORTHCOM Has ‘100 Percent Confidence’ U.S. Can Repel a North Korean Missile Attack
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The top military officer charged with defending the American homeland said she had “100 percent confidence” that Northern Command could defeat a ballistic missile attack from North Korea.

Air Force Gen. Lori Robison, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week,
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, “We continue to watch their developments [in ballistic missiles] closely and are prepared to defend” this country.

“We’re looking at discriminating radars” for Alaska and Hawaii to replace existing sensors in ballistic missile defense in identifying their potential targets as one step in meeting the changing threat. In answer to a question, Robinson said that Kim Jong Un, North Korean leader, seems to be focusing more on capability to deliver these missiles to long-range targets than raw numbers.

She said that with the recent congressional budget agreement the United States will be able to make steady investment in discriminating radars, improved interceptors and sensors to “outpace any adversary.” She included Iran in that category as well as Russia and China.

Just as the United States does, “you learn as much by failing as successes”
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. She said modeling and simulation have a role in ballistic missile defense testing, but so does live-testing.

Another reason for the close questioning on the adequacy of ballistic missile defense against North Korean attack was the last test of a U.S. interceptor failed to hit its target.

When asked how the command to false alarms in Hawaii and Japan about a missile had been launched against them from North Korea, Robinson said, “We were quickly confident [through a conference call with other military agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency] that nothing happened.” Hawaiian state officials, however, took more than 30 minutes to broadcast there was no imminent attack.

In her role as North American Air Defense commander, Robinson said the United States and Canada are engaged in a review of the “northern approaches” to better “detect, identify, track and engage if necessary” any threat.

“Time to put our feet in the snow,” she said, explaining the need for upcoming military exercises like Ardent Sentry and Arctic Edge to prepare American and Canadian forces for operations in the north.

Right now, Robinson sees Russian military moves in the Arctic as “protecting their shore.” She told the committee the Russians are “moving their infrastructure around” as does the United States. The idea is to “put things in the place they want at the time of their choosing.”

For the Arctic, she is drawing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data from Global Hawk, a high-altitude unmanned system operated by the Air Force. She also is advocating for funds to pay for a heavy icebreaker for the Coast Guard.

Robinson added as a light aside, “I think about this [the need for icebreakers] during the summer … every time Crystal Serenity [a cruise ship] goes through” the Northwest Passage above Canada from the West Coast of the United States to the Atlantic.

She said the command also is reviewing its response to calls from civil authorities for assistance in recovering from 2017 hurricanes, including the dispatch of the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) to Puerto Rico and is preparing a lessons learned document for the future.


The Navy's stealth destroyers are getting new missiles that will turn them into long-range ship killers..


"The Navy is asking Congress for funding to equip its most technologically advanced surface ships, the Zumwalt-class stealth destroyers, with new weapons designed to turn them into long-range ship killers, according to budget documents spotted by Defense News.

One of the new weapons is Raytheon's SM-6 missile, which serves three purposes: anti-air, anti-surface, and ballistic-missile defense.

Unlike its older brother the SM-3, the SM-6 has a proximity charge that explodes near its target, meaning it does not have to make physical contact with whatever it is intercepting."

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Monday at 7:20 AM
Yesterday at 11:14 AM
... and that tweet also inside the USNI News Two U.S. Guided-missile Destroyers Now Operating in the Black Sea
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now the story is Navy sends destroyers to Black Sea to ‘desensitize’ Russia
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The Navy has deployed the guided-missile destroyer Carney to join the destroyer Ross in the Black Sea in a move that U.S. military officials told
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is intended to “desensitize” Russia to the presence of American military assets in the strategically important region.

The deployment of the Carney marks the first time in four years that two American destroyers have operated in the Black Sea outside of scheduled exercises. The move comes as Russia continues to militarize Crimea, the peninsula it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

In recent years, the U.S. and NATO have accused Russia of sending troops and military hardware to Crimea, and there are now reports that submarines have been added to the mix.

Nevertheless, U.S. and NATO officials have insisted that they are not playing tit-for-tat with the Russians.

“Our decision to have two ships simultaneously operate in the Black Sea is proactive, not reactive,” said Vice Adm. Christopher Grady, commander of 6th Fleet, which oversees U.S. naval operations in the region. “The continued presence of the U.S. Navy in the Black Sea demonstrates our enduring commitment to regional stability, maritime security of our Black Sea partners, and the collective defense of our NATO allies,” he added.

The Black Sea sits between Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Western Asia, and is bordered by several NATO nations.

The sea has long been a contentious region for U.S. and Russian military forces, but tensions spiked after the Russian annexation of Crimea. Since then, there have been
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between Russian forces looking to assert their ownership of the region and U.S. forces asserting their right to operate in international waters and airspace.

The last time the U.S. sent a multi-destroyer security patrol to the Black Sea was during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, shortly before the Crimea annexation.

U.S. warships have participated in multilateral military exercises in the Black Sea since then, including a recent trip for the annual
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The destroyers Carney and Ross are both equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which a U.S. defense official told CNN the Russians are especially sensitive to.

Both U.S. ships are forward deployed to Naval Station Rota, Spain, and regularly patrol the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

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all I say is there should be "further", not "feather", in
"It might help if the appropriators can give us some flexibility, so we can spend '18 money in '19 and feather in the plan"
Military’s New Problem: Too Much Money, Not Enough Time to Spend It
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US, South Korea to Go Ahead with Joint War Games after Olympics...


"The U.S. and South Korea will go ahead with joint military drills after the Paralympics, both of them confirmed Tuesday, despite the exercises always infuriating Pyongyang and the Olympics having driven a rapprochement on the peninsula.

Washington previously agreed to a request from Seoul to delay the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises -- which usually begin in late February or early March -- until after the Pyeongchang Games in the South, to try to avoid stoking tensions."

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