US Military News, Reports, Data, etc.


Tyrant King
Army Future Vertical Lift hones in on attack recon, long-range assault
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  1 day ago

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Army has been talking about procuring a
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for the better part of a decade, but is wavering on what procurement effort it should first attack.

The service is weighing two options: prioritize the procurement of medium-lift aircraft to replace UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apaches, or buy an armed reconnaissance helicopter to fill the gap left from the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior’s 2014 retirement.

The Army still expects it will start fielding FVL aircraft in the early 2030s despite some delays in its
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being conducted in advance of the FVL program of record.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and Brig. Gen. Wally Rugen, who is in charge of the service’s new team enlisted to work on vertical lift modernization, indicated at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium that it’s not about developing a helicopter that can replace the current fleet performing the current mission.

FVL development will be geared, instead, toward the future fight and should align with the Army’s multidomain battle construct — that assumes the force will be fighting across land, air, sea, space and cyber and in contested environments — as well as the new National Defense Strategy.

With that in mind, it will be the Army’s priority to pursue a future attack reconnaissance aircraft that can team in complex ways with mission-specific unmanned aircraft systems as well as a long-range assault helicopter, Rugen said at AUSA.

Up until now, the Army had planned to
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that would replace Black Hawks, and potentially Apaches, although the service is still wrestling with where an attack helicopter equivalent to Apache falls in the fleet, if at all.

And while the Army said it would prioritize the medium-lift capability, it has repeatedly declared its
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currently being filled by expensive and heavy Apaches teamed with UAS.

Rugen and McConville were quick to say the jury is out on whether the service would pursue a long-range assault helicopter before an attack reconnaissance capability, or the other way around, or simultaneously.

The National Defense Strategy prioritizes lethality, McConville told a group of reporters at AUSA, and so the Army is “certainly aligning our future research and development and acquisition efforts to reflect what those priorities are. And when you think about it, certainly you could make the argument that a long-range assault helicopter increases lethality in some ways, but I could make probably a stronger argument that a future attack reconnaissance helicopter that is more lethal is going to provide more lethality to the force.”

The Army is in a position where it doesn’t have to decide what gets prioritized, he added, and the service is keeping its options open and looking at what industry brings to the table.

“We are collaborating with them and giving them ideas and what we would expect as far as cost and performance and, you know, kind of get with the playing field and see what they come back with, and then we will do some more collaboration and we will move forward,” McConville said.

Helo, unmanned requirements

The Army envisions using
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, rather than multipurpose, which will consist of several types with attributes that allow the service to “dominate in a contested airspace,” that aren’t easy to spot or detect, that are inexpensive, have swarming capabilities, are runway independent, and can target for Long-Range Precision Fires at operational and tactical levels, Rugen described. The UAS will also be able to deliver lethal or nonlethal effects like electronic attack in order to jam, spoof and kill radars, he added.

These UAS would team in advanced formations with an attack reconnaissance aircraft, Rugen said.

The attack reconnaissance helicopter would need to be sized “to hide in radar clutter, to operate in urban canyons and mega-cities and should be a clean-sheet design, he said.

The aircraft would be optionally manned with autonomy “baked into” the future aircraft and will have improved reach and survivability, Rugen said.

Together, an advanced team of UAS and attack reconnaissance aircraft will be able to work with the ground force and fires teams “to detect and deliver lethal effects, assess those effects and reattack if need be,” according to Rugen.

The long-range assault helicopter will need to have much greater speed, range and endurance than the current fleet. Once the attack reconnaissance aircraft and the UAS dominate an area or corridor, the assault helicopter will be agile and have the speed to “flow through that window of opportunity,” Rugen said.

The assault helicopter will also need to have a significant increase in protection, operate from sanctuary and exploit windows of opportunity, he added.

Every FVL aircraft on the battlefield will have an open-system approach, Rugen said, which will be government-designed and defined specifically so industry can plug capability into the architecture.

The fact the Army is seriously focusing on attack reconnaissance capability is good news for some in industry.

While the Army’s technology prototype demonstration being conducted in advance of an FVL program of record focuses on a medium-lift aircraft, Sikorsky, which is now owned by Lockheed Martin, has a smaller aircraft — Raider — which is already flying and would fit in the armed reconnaissance category.

Chris Van Buiten, Sikorsky’s vice president for technology and innovation, recently argued the case for prioritizing a light-attack aircraft as opposed to a medium-lift capability in which long-range assault would fit.

“The concept of doing light first is: First, it fills the urgent need that was kind of created by the departure of the Kiowa Warrior from the fleet that is now filled by the Apache,” he said. “That is a big airplane for the mission for a recon role as forces get pushed back by rapid-reaction-rocket kind of threats and will have to execute at a greater radius. I think the Apache is going to start to struggle in that recon role.”

With Raider is already flying —
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— it could be ready to be built and fielded much quicker than a helicopter that has yet been built, he argued.

And “you could argue that FVL light is just a smaller, lower-cost program,” where only hundreds of aircraft would need to be bought instead of thousands,” Van Buiten said. “It might be a prudent way to get the ball rolling, get a win on the board, move FVL forward. It’s kind of a good warmup for a larger FVL program.”

Prioritizing the long-range assault variant also has a good case. But ultimately, FVL is a joint program, and the Army won’t be making its decision independently of the other services involved or without the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which, in the end, has the final say.
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Today is the Day I hate because all it take is that one April fools news story....


Tyrant King
Short-Range Air Defense battalions will grow in both Army’s active force and National Guard
By: Jen Judson   17 hours ago
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — While the Army National Guard has retained the service’s only Short-Range Air Defense capability in its Avenger Battalions for years, the Army is now pushing to prioritize SHORAD in the active force.

But with that effort underway to bring an interim SHORAD capability back into the active component, the National Guard has wondered what that would mean for its force.

The Army National Guard has seven Avenger Battalions which are all deployed 365 days a year, particularly to defend the National Capitol Region. That mission is changing now that SHORAD capability is becoming relevant again.

Brig. Gen. Timothy Sheriff, the National Guard’s 263rd Army Air and Missile Defense Command chief, stressed the need for another battalion “just to keep up with what we have on the plate in the next five years,” during a recent Association of the U.S. Army conference on air and missile defense.

And Brig. Gen. Randy McIntire, who is in charge of the Army’s air-and-missile defense modernization efforts under the new Army Futures Command, said at AUSA’s Global Force Symposium last week, the ANG will get that eighth battalion.

Meanwhile, the Army’s active component will have 10 SHORAD battalions, McIntire said, making the balance between the active and Guard relatively equal.

[Army details timeline for Short Range Air Defense system contract and prototype]

McIntire acknowledged the intense level of work in which the Guard has been engaged to shore up the SHORAD gap in the Army.

Then-U.S. Army Europe commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges began sounding the alarm to fill the SHORAD gap in Europe in 2016 and the service has quickly found ways to bring the capability back to Europe.

Until it fields an interim maneuver SHORAD capability, the Army is entirely dependent on Guard Avenger battalions and Stinger capabilities in Europe.

The first Guard Avenger battery that deployed to Europe with an Armored Brigade Combat Team in February is from the South Carolina National Guard’s 263rd AAMDC and subsequent units will rotate in on a heel-to-toe basis.

The unit will participate in assessments at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, and will also work with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, the two permanently forward-stationed Army units in Europe, to develop plans for incorporating SHORAD back into formations, McIntire said.

Wherever possible, McIntire added, SHORAD capability is worked in to Combat Training Center rotations as well.

[US Army could get laser for short-range air defense in under 5 years]

A massive effort is already underway to restore mothballed Avengers to fill out active units until a new capability is fielded.

Army Materiel Command has been overhauling legacy Avenger systems that were sitting in a field in Letterkenny, Pennsylvania, set to be trashed. The Army plans to overhaul 72 fully functional Avenger sets in order to support U.S. European Command mission requirements.

The Army is ahead of schedule to deliver two Avenger battalion equipping sets to Europe this year in support of the European Deterrence Initiative. And personnel and infrastructure to establish an active component Avenger battalion will fall in next year.

McIntire noted the plan is to ensure SHORAD battalions in both the active and reserve components are the same. The battalions will have both SHORAD capability as well as Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) which is designed to counter rockets, artillery and mortars as well as unmanned aircraft systems and cruise missiles but will be more stationary than the highly-mobile SHORAD.
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Tyrant King
Army secretary lays out modernization vision, priorities in visit to historic Army arsenal
By John B. SnyderMarch 30, 2018

His visit could not have been more timely, as the secretary announced earlier in the week at the Association of the United States Army Global Force Symposium in Alabama that the Army will stand up a new command called the Futures Command.

During Esper's visit, he met with senior military leaders from U.S. Army Materiel Command, Tank-Automotive Armaments Command, and Watervliet Arsenal. This engagement gave him a great opportunity to provide his insight into the roles and responsibilities that he sees for the arsenal as the Army transitions to fight and win decisively against any adversary, anytime and anywhere in a joint, multi-domain, high-intensity conflict.

Esper said that he is focused on modernizing the Army in six areas, which include long-range precision fires, a next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift platforms, a mobile and expeditionary Army network, air and missile defense capabilities, and Soldier lethality. The arsenal is directly tied to three of those modernization efforts: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, and Soldier lethality.

"No other manufacturing center in our country has more experience in transforming its capabilities at critical times in our nation's military history than the Watervliet Arsenal," said Esper. "Now is one of those times when I need the arsenal to transform, once again.

"In regards to our improving our current technology with our indirect fires systems, and with our armor force as well, Watervliet provides a critical role because we will be looking to the arsenal to provide tubes ... to improve the readiness of our current fleet and then help us envision the future and get to where we can defeat with long-range precision fires," Esper said.

Esper took multiple opportunities to praise the arsenal workforce for the great work they are doing today to support Soldier readiness.

"What I saw today reinforced in my mind the value of the arsenal being an Army-owned and operated manufacturing center," Esper said. "Whether it was making saddles during the 1800s or working today on the Army's future weapon systems, whenever the Army needed the arsenal to shift its priorities and production this great workforce made it happen."

During Esper's visit, he toured several arsenal manufacturing facilities where he witnessed the forging of a howitzer tube and the rough and finish machining of howitzer, tank, and mortar tubes. Additionally, he observed some of the great work that arsenal artisans are doing to support Army modernization programs.

The Watervliet Arsenal is an Army owned-and-operated manufacturing facility and is the oldest, continuously active arsenal in the United States. It began operations during the War of 1812, and celebrated its 200th year of continuous service to the nation on July 14, 2013.

Today's arsenal is relied upon by U.S. and foreign militaries to produce the most advanced, high-tech, high-powered weaponry for cannon, howitzer, and mortar systems. This National Historic Registered Landmark has an annual economic benefit to the local community in excess of $90 million.
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Mar 21, 2018
Yesterday at 8:08 PM
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As the Boeing tanker continues to see delays and cost overruns, the Air Force is airing its complaints.
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Has Boeing Been Neglecting KC-46?

Mar 30, 2018
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After years of delays and technical setbacks for
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tanker program, the U.S. Air Force is running out of patience with the aerospace giant.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson ripped Boeing in front of the House Armed Services Committee during a March 20 hearing, complaining that the manufacturer is more focused on its commercial business than “on getting this right for the Air Force.”

As if in response, Leanne Caret, CEO of
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, is reorganizing its defense business. In a move Boeing says has been in the works for several months, the company will stand up two new divisions starting April 2: Commercial Derivative Aircraft, and Missile and Weapon Systems, spokesman Todd Blecher confirmed March 29. Simultaneously, Boeing will eliminate a “Development” business unit created in 2015.

The Commercial Derivative Aircraft unit, to be based in Seattle, will handle the KC-46, the U.S. Navy’s P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and the new Air Force One, all of which derive from Boeing commercial jetliners. The Missile and Weapon Systems unit will be based in Huntsville, Alabama.

“The organizational move reflects the fact that tanker is progressing toward delivery and its transition to a production effort is more than a development one,” Blecher wrote in a March 29 email to Aviation Week.

The move appears designed to reassure the Pentagon that Boeing is laser-focused on delivering the beleaguered KC-46 as well as other commercial-derivative aircraft.

“I think there’s a perception that the company sees its future as more commercial jetliner-oriented and they prioritized resources accordingly,” says Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with the Teal Group. “This sends a message that they are determined to fight that impression.”

But Boeing has a long way to go to get the KC-46 back on track. The Air Force recently added two new Category 1 deficiencies—the most severe type—to the KC-46’s growing list of problems. The two new technical issues could further delay fielding of the aircraft, the first of which will not make it to the fleet until late 2018 at the earliest, the Air Force estimates.

This delay jeopardizes Boeing’s ability to meet a contractual deadline to deliver 18 operationally ready tankers to the Air Force by October, a date that has already slipped from the original target of August 2017.

Boeing was late to acknowledge that the first KC-46 would not be delivered by the end of 2017, a longtime internal goal. So the Air Force believes it has reason to be skeptical that the pending deadline will be met.

“Boeing is saying they are going to deliver in the second quarter of 2018. The Air Force thinks it is more likely to be late 2018. And Boeing has been overly optimistic in all of their schedule reports,” Wilson told lawmakers.

A major contributor to the slippage is that flight-testing to obtain the required
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certification for KC-46 has not gone as expeditiously as Boeing anticipated, Wilson said. And the two new deficiencies will likely add to the delay.

Air Force Undersecretary Matthew Donovan visited Boeing’s St. Louis plant in early March for a “deep dive” into the KC-46 problems, Wilson notes.

“We have asked them to put their A-team on this to get the problems fixed and get the aircraft to the Air Force,” Wilson says.

This comment, as well as the recent reorganization, raises the question: Why wasn’t Boeing’s “A-team” already working on the KC-46 program?

A look at Boeing’s overall earnings for 2017 may provide some insight. The
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division contributed more than 60% of the company’s overall revenue for 2017. Of the overall $93.4 billion in revenue
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, Boeing Commercial Airplanes contributed $56.7 billion—more than twice the $21 billion from the Defense, Space and Security division and more than four times the $14.6 billion from the Global Services division.

During that time, Boeing delivered 763 commercial aircraft, including the first 737 MAX, launched the 737 MAX 10 and completed first flight of the 787-10, according to a press release on the company’s most recent earnings report. On the defense side, the only noncontractual achievement the company touted was the maiden flight of the first KC-46 to be delivered to the Air Force.

So was Wilson correct in suggesting that Boeing is not prioritizing KC-46? Aboulafia says it’s a real possibility, given that Boeing does not have unlimited engineering resources.

“It could be under-resourced,” Aboulafia says. “[Boeing] put in a very aggressive bid, which is what the Air Force wanted, and it makes the company liable for most of the overruns at this point. So do you under-resource and continue to take hits on a pay-as-you go basis?” he asks.

Aboulafia notes that although the contract stipulates that Boeing bears responsibility for any overruns, the penalty for not delivering aircraft on time “was not really well defined.”

Of course, it is also possible Boeing simply continues to underestimate the requirements, Aboulafia says.

Right now the delay is manageable, especially since the Air Force is not on the hook for any cost overruns, but “endless problems and no clear solutions” will eventually lead the Air Force to look more closely at the contract, Aboulafia says. It is unlikely at this point that the Air Force will cancel the contract and rebid the tanker program or cut short the work, but Boeing could see penalties spike.

Boeing, for its part, maintains that delivery of the KC-46 is the company’s top priority. A company spokesman says, “Boeing has continued to demonstrate its commitment to deliver the tankers as soon as possible and believes in our partnership with the U.S. Air Force.”

But the proof will be in the pudding. It remains to be seen whether the shift is merely symbolic or if additional money will be invested in resolving KC-46 challenges.

“We’ll see if they back up the reorganization with the necessary product development resources and engineering resources,” Aboulafia says.
run-off-the-mill article
Pricetag for Pentagon’s major weapon systems grows by 10 percent
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The estimated cost for procuring the Pentagon’s major weapon systems increased 10 percent in 2017, growing from $1.74 trillion to $1.92 trillion in projected costs.

Those numbers were released as part of the department’s annual Selected Acquisition Reports,
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. The SARs cover the 83 major defense acquisition programs that make up the largest programs managed by the former undersecretary of defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics.

However, that increase is necessarily the result of problems within the acquisition programs, with the report starting that the cost increase is due in part to adding a new major program — the CH-47F Modernized Cargo Helicopter (CH-47F Block II) — to the SAR list, as well as increased quantities on various programs.

Only two programs had Nunn-McCurdy breaches, the government standard in judging unit cost increases, both from the Navy.

The Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) Blocks 2/3 program suffered a critical Nunn-McCurdy breach, with an increase of almost 132.5 percent over the program acquisition unit cost. That is due primarily to quantity cuts on the Block 3 program, the result of the Pentagon shifting to another solution due to “threat changes” in the world.

Meanwhile, the littoral combat ship (LCS) mission modules (MM) suffered a significant Nunn-McCurdy breach, due again to quantity shortfalls. The Navy decided to cut the procurement plan of modules from 64 to 48, which naturally increased the unit cost.

The cost of the Pentagon’s biggest program, the
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, remained roughly the same – decreasing by about $350 million. The department now estimates that total acquisition costs for both F-35 air vehicles and its F135 engines will amount to about $406.1 billion.

“Overall, in 2017, the [F-35] development effort has stabilized with the delivery of full Block 3F Capabilities,” the report stated. “Operations and support cost estimates will be updated at Milestone C/Full-Rate Production, currently planned for April 2019.”

The majority of cost growth among programs within the Army are due to an increase in planned quantities and extensions of procurement timelines.

For instance, the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System and the GMLRS Alternative warhead program costs increased to account for the service’s plans to buy an additional 52,760 rockets and extend procurement from FY24 to FY33.

Also, the Marine Corps is planning to buy more Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and the Army is going to buy 538 more Patriot Advanced Capability-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missiles.

The Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) program also saw a cost increase of $7.2 billion to account for major capability increases to include a discriminating radar for the Pacific theater, another radar for Hawaii and an additional 20 Ground-Based Mid-course Defense System Interceptors (GBIs) for silos at Fort Greely, Alaska.

The money also accounts for building two silos in Missile Field 1 at Greely to accommodate the new GBIs, six boosters to maintain 44 out of 64 deployed GBIs, and extending the time for the Sea Based X-Band radar to be deployed at sea.

Procurement increases of 100 more Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors, 16 additional SM-3 Block IIA missiles and 62 SM-3 Block IB missiles also contributed to an overall BMDS program cost increase.

For the Air Force, the
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program showed the biggest cost growth of about $1.2 billion or almost 12 percent. The department now estimates acquisition costs will amount to about $11.4 million.

However, that increase is due to an increase in the number of units the military plans to buy and not any technical problem. Most of the cost growth — about $911.3 million of the sum — could be attributed to a procurement increase of about 35,000 JDAM tailkits.

The report also stated that increased demand for JDAM production, growing requirements for “weapons instrumentation telemetry kits” for the Air Force, and revised Navy estimates also contributed to the rise in acquisition cost.

Other major cost increases were tied to GPS modernization. For example, the
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— which will field new ground control stations for the next generation constellation of GPS satellites — grew about 12 percent to about $6.1 billion. The $665.3 million increase resulted from new requirements and an increased funding profile over the next five years.

The Military GPS User Equipment Increment 1 increased by $265.1 million, or about 23 percent. The new $1.43 billion projection aligns with the newly approved Milestone B cost estimate and further changes due to department-wide funding adjustments.

It will be interesting to track the cost of these programs in the coming year, as the 2018 figure will represent the first numbers under a push by the Pentagon to shift management of major acquisition programs away from AT&L and into the services.

While Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of acquisition and sustainment — one of two successor organizations to AT&L, which dissolved Feb. 1 — has said she will keep a few key projects under her direct oversight, she has made it a priority to hand day to day program management
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. As of Jan. 1 of this year, the Air Force had taken direct oversight of 21 programs, the Army 18, and the Navy 34.
just raise the debt ceiling, no problem LOL and order more LCSs
Office of Naval Research launches program to speed up innovation
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go ask the F-35 Joint Program Office for speed limits LOL
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is launching a new program to spur innovation in the Navy and Marine Corps, in what the service says is a direct response to the
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call to accelerate the delivery of technology to warfighters.

The Naval Innovation Process Adoption (NIPA) program, launched March 29, seeks to inject new processes into the service that would allow “light bulb” ideas to go from concept to reality at a faster rate.

“The National Defense Strategy states it clearly,” Richard Carlin, the head of ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Department, said in an ONR press release. “As technology advances faster than ever before, and both state and non-state actors having access to it, the naval research community needs to accelerate accordingly.”

Few examples were included in the release, though it did note a focus on creating a “common language and approach” for both the Navy and Marine Corps. Broadly, NIPA is based on the H4X problem-solving method used by various organizations across the Department of Defense.

One of the architects of the methodology, Ret. Army Col. Pete Newell, former head of the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, said in the release that H4X is a data-driven and evidence-based process for addressing problems quickly on a large scale.

The concept has been used by the Pentagon’s Hacking for Defense program, which has seen the department partner with universities across the country to create a pipeline for young technologists and entrepreneurs to address national security issues.

“We are exceptionally proud of the results achieved by others who have applied it in the DoD and intelligence agencies, and look forward to seeing it drive innovation for our naval forces,” Newell said.
fund ends here:
Marine Commander in Southwest Afghanistan Strikes Optimistic on Progress in Fight Against Taliban
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A recently returned U.S. commander in Afghanistan gave an optimistic assessment of the combined progress of U.S. and Afghan forces against the Taliban.

Newly-installed provincial leaders fixed on bringing the Taliban to heel and the coalition commitment to provide assistance in changing the situation on the ground, the Marine Brig. Gen. Roger Turner Jr. who commanded Task Force Southwest said on Friday at the Brookings Institution.

The new provincial leadership was unwilling to accept the status quo of impassable roads, closed airports and the Taliban’s proclamation in 2017 to make Lashkar Gah, the capital of a new Islamic caliphate.

“We’re seeing great success in Helmand in the last year,” he said.

About half of the 300 Marines that he commanded in Helmand were assigned train and assist mission; the other half included rifle and artillery units that supported Afghan operations.

The Afghan forces know they can operate more professionally than the Taliban, giving the police and the army more confidence in what they were assigned, Turner said. The evidence of improvement is showing up in lower casualty rates and drops in desertion.

The result is dramatic: changing demoralized security forces into troops and national police operating with skill.

“Afghan forces, if properly enabled, will defeat the Taliban at the point of attack,” he said.

That does not mean having the Marines do for the Afghans what must be done. It is a balance — such as integrating the intelligence gathered by the Afghans with that gathered by the Americans; coordinating the air operations of Afghan fixed wing and helicopters with American attack aircraft, including B-52s; and working together on sustaining the forces on the air and ground. It also means avoiding creating a dependency and what is the second and third order of effects” if the Americans intercede in an operation and future missions.

The idea from the Afghans is now to develop a plan that was executable to create an overmatch and achieve the mission.

With that combination, the Afghan national forces “could beat the Taliban any day,” he added. Turner said the idea is to build a force that can sustain government control.

The impact of these changes on improving Afghan police and army operations that meet with success upon contact has forced the Taliban away from trying to hold territory and govern in Helmand.

Turner declined to estimate how much of the province is under government control. Ghani has a goal of bringing 80 percent of Afghanistan under government control in four years.

“I think we should drive toward that but we don’t want to do anything that the Afghans can’t sustain,” he said.

“Things are functioning now in the province; this time last year, they were not.”

Helmand was also where the Taliban movement started among its Pashtun population that eventually took control of Afghanistan and provided sanctuary for al Qaeda to carry out the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Turner, in his “under the hood” explanation of the “by, with and through” assistance project, said “Central Helmand is most important” to success for the national and provincial government. “It’s where most of the population lives.”

The province’s population is estimated to be about 880,000, and it also is a relatively flat, prime agricultural region that is well irrigated producing large legal crop harvests and much poppy. It is a region well familiar to Marines, including Turner who served there eight years ago as a colonel. Thirty-thousand Marines were assigned to Helmand from 2010 to 2014, alongside 10,000 British troops.

As for the advisers themselves, “we took Marines and sailors essentially out of the conventional force.” Turner said, “A lot of this is inherent [skill and training existing] in the force.”

To get after a source of income that allows the Taliban to continue fighting, Turner said the authorities granted American forces under the new strategy allows operations “where we could see a clear connection between opium production and the Taliban.” In these operations, the Afghan army seizes territory, assisted by Afghan and American special forces where needed “and you put counter-narcotics on top of that” to curb the trafficking.

He said in answer to a question that in some cases the Taliban in Helmand is given arms and ammunition from neighboring countries, such as Pakistan, and in other cases, they buy what they need using the money gained from narcotic sales.
gosh I recall Bill O'Reilly in '01 and '02 screaming on his talk show to send the Army so that the border isn't wide open ... it's almost two decades ago!

now Pentagon says it’s looking at ways to ‘expand’ border duties
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The Pentagon is looking at ways it can
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to have the military guard the U.S.-Mexico border, spokesman Dana White said.

“There are a number of ways the Department of Defense is already supporting the [Department of Homeland Security] border security mission,” White said. “We are still in consultation with the White House about ways we can expand that support.”

As it has become apparent that Congress was not going to give Trump the full funding he has requested to build a border wall, the president has looked to the military to fill the gap.

Last week Trump suggested on Twitter that the
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which is estimated to cost about $25 billion.

Then on Monday, Trump said he’d spoken to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis about how the military could further support the wall beyond funding.

“I’ve been speaking with General Mattis. We’re going to be doing things militarily,” Trump said. “Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step. We really haven’t done that before, or certainly not very much before.”

A defense official who spoke on the condition of not being identified suggested that one possibility is that National Guard forces could be used to secure the border as they did in the 2006 to 2008 Operation Just Cause, but the official had no additional details beyond that.