Posts

Pentagon Works to Disable Drones

The "Reaper" has been chosen as the name for the MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicle. (Courtesy photo)

By Debbie Gregory.

To the military, they are  Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS). But they are more commonly known as drones.

Drones have an array of applications ranging from being mere hobby gadgets to their increasing use in professional photography and cinematography, intelligence, mapping, reconnaissance as well as target destination besides being used in rescue missions.

Drones are used in military situations where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult, and often times are used as weapons with the ability to drop explosives.

Although helpful on the battlefield, drones also present a clear and present danger to our troops when they are in the hands of the enemy.

Stopping the drones has become a challenge for the Pentagon and its allies.

To that end, the Pentagon is working to develop lasers and microwaves to eliminate enemy drones in the sky.

Some soldiers are equipped with “anti-drone” rifles that use pulses across radio frequencies to interfere with the vehicles’ controls.

As terrorists move to drones as their weapon of choice, the Pentagon agency called the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization (JIDO) is working with defense companies to develop counter-drone strategies, including lasers and microwaves to blast drones from the sky.

While France and Holland are training eagles and other birds of prey to attack enemy drones, Raytheon is mounting a high-energy laser weapon on top of a militarized dune buggy to take out drones. Raytheon also has “the Phaser”, a high-powered microwave cannon that can scramble a drone’s avionics.

CACI is developing “SkyTracker” to find and track drones using radio frequencies. And Lockheed Martin has “Athena”, a laser capable of destroying the tail of a fixed-wing drone.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Sen. Graham Wants Mil Families Out of South Korea

Sen-Lindsey-Graham

In spite of the concerns of Sen. Lindsey Graham regarding the safety of U.S. servicemember families in South Korea, there are no government evacuations plans in the works.

Sen. Graham believes the Pentagon  should start evacuating the families of the roughly 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea as America gets “close to military conflict” with North Korea.

“It’s crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea given the provocation of North Korea,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

But defense expert Thomas Spoehr, a retired Army lieutenant general, thinks North Korea would see the evacuation as a provocation.

“Certainly when the U.S. seriously contemplates military action family members should be removed. I don’t think we are at that point,” he said in an email. “We should be careful not to act prematurely.”

“North Korea would interpret a move to remove families as a sign of U.S. preparation for offensive military action,” he said.

North Korea and the United States have been enemies for more than half a century, but tensions have never been as high as they are currently. Kim Jong Un’s missile tests and the ramping up of the nuclear program has baited President Donald Trump, who has employed  frequent threats and insults, often in tweets, towards Kim, who he has nicknamed Rocket Man.

“Readiness, safety and welfare of our service members, employees and family members are essential to the strength of the U.S. and South Korean alliance,´said Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command.  “We currently have no intent to initiate departures for military dependents, whether on a voluntary or mandatory basis, and no intent to modify the policy authorizing military dependents to accompany military members being stationed in South Korea.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Guard and Reserves to Test Training Program

guard and reserve

By Debbie Gregory.

As active duty numbers continue to fall, the Army and the Pentagon want the Guard and Reserves combat-ready ASAP.

To that end, the Georgia National Guard’s 48th Infantry Brigade’s 4,200 soldiers are the first of 13 National Guard and Army Reserve units nationwide chosen to test a new role that pairs them with commanders on active-duty who will oversee their training.

The Army is forging similar active-duty partnerships for nine additional National Guard units based in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Texas, and two Army Reserve units based in North Carolina and Hawaii. The pairings are scheduled to last for at least a three-year test period. The Army says more units may be added after the pilot ends in the fall of 2019.

Every day, thousands of service members devote themselves to protecting freedoms, maintaining peace, providing relief and supporting policy around the globe. The Pentagon hopes this will make the Guard and Reserve troops better prepared to fight overseas at a time when the Army is down by roughly 100,000 full-time soldiers from the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Any National Guard units being paired with active-duty commands will remain available for their states’ governors to mobilize in response to natural disasters and other emergencies.

Meanwhile, leaders of the 48th Brigade have already been sharing training reports and planning meetings with the 3rd Infantry. A few additional days may need to be added to the brigade’s training schedule, Neal said, but otherwise he expects few major changes.

“It solidifies the relationships that we’ve already established,” Neal said. “In other words, we’re getting credit for what we’ve already been doing.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Critics Want Congress to Block DoD’s Freedom of Information Act Proposal

foia

By Debbie Gregory.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that allows access to information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.

Now, Congress has been asked by a number of organizations to block new changes to the FOIA requested by the Defense Department, saying that approving them would allow the Pentagon to “excuse itself from the hard fought and necessary reforms.”

Before Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act in 1966, federal agencies were veiled in secrecy. Information was nearly impossible to get.

The proposal would give the Pentagon the ability to withhold information about unclassified tactics, techniques and procedures used by the Armed Forces.

A letter released by the Project On Government Oversight argues that the proposal is so broad “it could allow DoD to withhold almost any unclassified document at all related to Defense Department operations and could be used to justify concealing just about any material DoD creates.”

Those who advocate for transparency have called for the Pentagon to improve its adherence to FOIA.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform acknowledges that it is common for government agencies to use delay tactics to withhold information after a FOIA request has been filed, including sending letters in which an agency asks if a requester is still interested in information sought and says a request will be closed if the agency does not receive a response within days.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

More Money and Boots on the Ground to Fight ISIS

Ashhh

By Debbie Gregory.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has confirmed that the Pentagon plans to sharply increase spending on the fight against the Islamic State group and potentially put more American “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Syria in an “enabling” role.

“We have 3,700 boots on the ground in Iraq today, and we’re looking to do more. We’re looking for opportunities to do more,” Carter said.

Carter acknowledged there are about 50 U.S. Special Forces troops serving as advisers in Syria to local forces opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in addition to the American troops serving as trainers and advisors to the Iraqi Security Forces.

“We’re not looking to substitute for local forces in terms of governing the place and policing the place,” Carter said. “That’s why we put Special Forces in Syria. They’re tremendous force multipliers. They’re the ones who connect them to the great might of our military. The strategic concept is not to substitute but to enable” local forces, he said.

The new campaign will focus on helping local forces retake the militants’ two main strongholds, Mosul, Iraq and Raqqah, Syria.

“We need to destroy them in those two places, and I’d like to get on with that as soon as possible,” he said.

Carter said he hopes that other countries will offer troops as well. “It won’t just be Americans. This is crucial. It has got to be the other members of our so-called coalition,” he said.

While in talks with defense ministers from allied nations in Brussels, Carter will coordinate future plans for the anti-ISIS fight.

“What I’m going to do with them is to say, all right, here are all the capabilities that are needed — boots on the ground, airplanes in the air, more prosaic things, logistics, bridging, training for those police that are going to patrol cities like they’re patrolling Ramadi now once the cities are retaken,” he said.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Defense Spending Bill Showdown: Military Connection

Defense Spending

By Debbie Gregory.

The Senate and House Armed Services committees have reconciled their versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, setting the stage for a veto showdown with the Obama Administration.

The House passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act Thursday after the House and Senate Armed Services committees reached agreement on a final conference report earlier this week.

On September 30th, t This year, the White House urged Republicans to lift federal budget caps for the Pentagon and non-defense spending in 2016. The Republican-proposed budget would leave those caps in place for non-defense spending but boost defense spending through a war fund not subject to those caps established in 2011.

President Obama has issued a veto threat against the bill, which senior administration officials warn he will follow through on. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday he has already recommended that the president veto it.

In regards to what would happen if the president does veto the bill, a senior staffer on the House Armed Service Committee said, “We’ll see what happens and move from there.”

The current version of the bill would keep the ban on bringing detainees from Guantanamo to the United States for another year. According to Sen. McCain, the Obama administration did not deliver a plan on where to house the detainees.

Other provisions of the bill would continue a ban on transfers to Yemen and add bans on transfers to Syria, Libya and Somalia. It would also allow one-year increases in military healthcare prescription co-pays. It would allow troops who serve fewer than 20 years to receive some retirement benefits, and allow troops to be able to take a lump sum payment after 20 years instead of waiting until they are 60 years old.

The bill would also allow the U.S. to provide arms to Ukraine; provide for coordination between the DoD and VA on mental health issues; allow troops on U.S. bases to carry arms, and ban torture by any U.S. agency.

Pentagon’s Silicon Valley Office Open for Business: Military Connection

Pentagon's Silicon Valley

By Debbie Gregory.

One might not expect the Pentagon to have a branch office. But the Silicon Valley area of California is now home to just that.

The Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx for short, has begun operations near Moffett Federal Airfield’s WWII-era airship hangars. The DIUx director, George Duchak, is joined by Rear Adm. Brian Hendrickson to develop alliances with the progressive innovators of the region.

The landmark move will position key Pentagon staff to focus on meeting tech companies with commercial components in order to improve military equipment. Duchak has worked at the Air Force research Laboratory, DARPA, as well as in the private sector with tech companies and startups. Hendrickson is a Naval Academy graduate with an MBA from Harvard and experience with SEAL teams and US Special Operations Command. With both men having an entrepreneurial mindset, their mission is part of a Pentagon initiative to find technologies that will prepare troops for the battlefield of the future. It is evident that technologies such as robotics, cyber, additive manufacturing and big data analytics will be critical to defense.

“We’ll learn a lot about what technologies are emerging in the high-tech world and they’re going to learn a lot about what we need,” Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall said.

By positioning themselves in the heart of Silicon Valley, Pentagon officials hope to gain insight as to how industries approach innovation.

“We need to prove to the Valley that we aren’t this big ponderous beast — that we can turn some things certainly a little faster if they are very promising, have good technology behind them and we see a way to get there,” Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said.

“One of the reasons that we’re establishing this new presence in Silicon Valley is to have a visual presence out there and get people to think about the DoD as a source of financing and as a potential customer,” Kendall explained. He hopes to assure tech companies that the Pentagon is not looking to confiscate anyone’s ideas or work.

“We want to make sure people understand that we’ll respect their intellectual property.”

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Pentagon’s Silicon Valley Office Open for Business: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Possible Next Secretary of Defense: By Joe Silva

100628-D-9880W-113.JPGAfter the November 24th announcement that Chuck Hagel was resigning as Secretary of Defense, there has been speculation as to who his successor might be. Multiple reports are now claiming that former Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter will be chosen as Hagel’s successor.

Mr. Carter held the second-in-command spot at the Pentagon from October 5, 2011 through December 3, 2013.  Before that, he served for two years as the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics, and served for three years as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs during the Clinton administration.

Ash Carter was one of the original members of the short list of likely candidates, immediately following the announcement of Hagel’s resignation. And following the reports that Sen. Jack Reed and Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy asked to be withdrawn from consideration, Carter now sits atop an even shorter list.

It is widely believed that if President Obama does nominate Carter, he would easily be confirmed by Congress. Despite his previously held high-profile roles, Carter is not viewed as a political player. It’s been reported that Carter is willing to return to the department.

Considering all of his experience within the walls of the Pentagon, Carter seems like a strong candidate. In fact, when Carter resigned from his post as Deputy Secretary, Hagel told the media that Carter possessed an “unparalleled knowledge of every facet” of the DOD. But there is one major area on Mr. Carter’s résumé that some may find lacking… military experience.

Carter has two bachelor’s degrees from Yale University, and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University. He also has experience teaching at prestigious universities, including Oxford and Harvard’s Kennedy School. Mr. Carter also has extensive experience working as a senior official within the DOD. But he never served in uniform. While some Americans might think this is not an important requirement, to those who served and still serve, it could be.

It is not a requirement for the head of the DOD to have served in the armed forces, just as it is not a requirement for the commander-in-chief. But many Americans feel that having a Veteran running the Pentagon is extremely important.

Many who have worn a military uniform believe that only those who have experienced the military lifestyle can truly appreciate what it means to serve, deploy, and sacrifice. But it’s not a requirement.

Until an official announcement is made, Americans eagerly await the nomination of the next U.S. Secretary of Defense. Hagel will remain in the position until his successor is confirmed.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Possible Next Secretary of Defense: By Joe Silva

Military Connection: Pending Defense Budget Fears: By Debbie Gregory

The PentagonFor the second straight year, the Pentagon is expected to submit a five-year budget to Congress that will infringe on mandatory spending caps, this time by as much as $60 billion.

Defense officials have said for months that the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), which limits how much the Pentagon can spend, wouldn’t limit the 2016 request. It has been reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have pushed for an increase of $60 billion over the $535 billion cap for defense, with another $10 billion for Department of Energy programs.

Budget planners from the Pentagon estimate that, unless overturned, the automatic cuts will reduce defense budget request through 2021 by an average $31 billion a year. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that unless Congress reverses the caps, the cuts could average closer to $47 billion a year.

A Pentagon report from March, 2014 outlined how $35.3 billion per-year in cuts would fall under sequestration in 2016, and remains relevant for companies and investors

The five year plan for fiscal 2015-2019, released in February and still pending before Congress, called for $115 billion more than sequestration permits. That plan also included $35.3 billion more than allowed for fiscal 2016, if the cuts return in full force, as planned, after a two-year pause.

The Pentagon aims to spend at least ten percent more each year for the next five years than it currently does on nuclear upgrades and modernization programs.

One of the main areas that would be cut is the upgrading of aircraft throughout all branches of the military. The Pentagon is expected to cut 17 of the 343 F-35 fighters it planned to buy, in fiscal years 2016 through 2019.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Pending Defense Budget Fears: By Debbie Gregory