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Author: Subject: U.S.Army 2017 0nwards

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[*] posted on 19-10-2017 at 05:14 PM

Everything’s coming up SHORAD

By: Jen Judson   16 hours ago

WASHINGTON — To say that short-range air defense is making a comeback would be an understatement; ready-to-go solutions to rapidly bring the capability back into service to address today’s threats are coming out of the woodwork.

Companies all over the showroom floor at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention last week brought SHORAD offerings to pitch to service officials roaming the massive two floors of expo halls.

What is most noticeable about the solutions at AUSA is nearly all of them take systems and platforms already in the Army’s inventory and reinvent them into mobile systems designed to take out air threats from unmanned aircraft systems to larger helicopters and manned aircraft. Some even had the added capability of defending against ground threats.

The solutions that are cropping up also reveal how industry is thinking about getting after an urgent need.

While many use platforms that have been in the Army inventory, several companies, such as BAE Systems and Orbital ATK, are combining newer tools for a multilayered approach.
And many of the solutions acknowledge that counter-UAS and SHORAD capabilities can be combined into multipurpose systems.

It’s been well over a year since U.S. Army Europe identified the SHORAD capability gap, acknowledging both the growing threat of small drones observed on the Ukrainian border by the Russian military and the realization that a key assumption held by the U.S. military for years that it will have air dominance against adversaries will undeniably be challenged.

The Army also took critical steps over the past year to rapidly fill the capability gap in Europe with Avenger SHORAD units resident only in the National Guard, deploying them rapidly to the region. At the same time, the service began to look at interim solutions to fill the gap with a plan to ultimately develop a new SHORAD system down the road.

The White Sands demo veterans

The service hosted a demonstration in September where companies could provide solutions on their dime to prove to the Army they had systems ready to go. Four SHORAD systems were demonstrated, according to Barry Pike, the service’s program executive officer for Army Missiles and Space.

Pike said the program to fill the SHORAD gap is “moving rapidly ahead” and that the Army saw some “promising” capability at White Sands. But the Army‘s reconnaissance on SHORAD capability is unfinished, and the service will continue to look across industry for solutions.

Israeli company Rafael brought Iron Dome to the demonstration. Raytheon would be the lead integrator should it be chosen as a SHORAD option for the Army.

General Dynamics Land Systems and Boeing brought an Avenger launcher mounted on a Stryker combat vehicle, marrying two systems already in the Army inventory. Lockheed Martin’s Longbow Hellfire missiles were fired from the system.

According to several sources, Hanwha, a South Korean defense company, brought its Biho Flying Tiger air-defense system to the demonstration. Hanwha showcased Flying Tiger at a large booth at AUSA, but declined requests for an interview there.

Pike told Defense News that Orbital ATK also demonstrated a SHORAD system — the Tactical-Robotic Exterminator — at White Sands Missile Range, solving the mystery of the fourth vendor that tested its wares.

The company’s solution offers a high level of flexibility, according Dave Dorman, Orbital ATK’s vice president for defense and government relations within its armaments systems sector, combining Liteye’s anti-UAV defense system, nonlethal electronic attack radio-frequency jammer and a gun with guided and air-burst munitions mounted on a Stryker.

The AUDS — a counter-UAS system — has been deployed by the Defense Department into U.S. Central Command’s area of operation and has effectively “drowned” more than 500 drones with electronic attack, Dorman said.

While CENTCOM bought the tripod-mounted version of the system, displayed at AUSA, users in theater mounted them on pallets and armored vehicles and started moving them around the battlefield, which generated a requirement for mounted systems. The company is now working to field the system on MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles, Dorman added.

At the same time, Orbital is integrating its XM914 chain gun used on Apache attack helicopters and is slewing that gun to the command and control of the AUDS, which has a 360-degree capability of detecting class 1 and class 2 drones very close in but also out to an extended range, according to Dorman.

The chain gun, loaded with 30mm, proximity-fuse rounds of ammunition, is seen as good solution to take out UAS, he said.

At the demonstration, Orbital was able to detect, track and slew the gun to engage ground targets. Dorman said Orbital offers a layered approach when combined with other systems because it can cover close-in targets while other systems meet the Army’s desire to detect and defeat drones roughly 15 kilometers out.

The capability also demonstrated it can complement the Army’s existing radar sensors like the Sentinel and the Q-50.

Orbital ATK provided the 30mm cannon for up-gunned Strykers headed to Europe, so it seeks to leverage that experience to create a mobile SHORAD solution, most likely in partnership with other companies to meet what the Army’s anticipated requirements might be.

Orbital’s gun or AUDS could be integrated onto another solution such as the General Dynamics Land Systems and Boeing Stryker-Avenger system.

The newer contenders

Several companies came forward for the first time with SHORAD solutions at AUSA.

BAE Systems pulled an early version of its Bradley fighting vehicle with an air defense history — the Linebacker variant — back into the forefront at AUSA.

The Bradley Linebacker was equipped with a search radar on the turret, a fire-control radar, a non-kinetic lethality mechanism — essentially a jammer — and a 30mm cannon with an air-burst munition for kinetic kills. On the other side of the vehicle, the company affixed a missile launcher that can accommodate Stinger, AIM-9X missiles “or anything else the Army wants to use,” Mark Signorelli, company vice president for strategy and business development for the platform and services sector, told Defense News in an interview at AUSA.

Signorelli noted the maintenance would be easy and low-cost because the system is on the same chassis as Bradley and retains the same sites and cannon.

And the same collection of systems that make up a mobile SHORAD offering could go on a different vehicle if the Army chooses to go that route, Signorelli said, such as an Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle. BAE is currently delivering prototypes to the Army ahead of a milestone C production decision.

Oshkosh Defense turned its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle — the Army’s Humvee replacement — into a mobile SHORAD system, configuring onto the vehicle an Avenger system with Longbow Hellfire missiles and a .50-caliber weapon.

And Raytheon, while it wasn’t displayed, touted a recent solution — tested at a separate demonstration at White Sands — of a Stryker with Stinger missiles, which successfully took out a UAS target on the first try.

The company also rolled out a high-energy laser dune buggy at the show designed to take out small drones, but the solution is farther afield and only addresses the counter-UAS portion of SHORAD.

Lockheed Martin, while not proposing an end-to-end solution, featured already fielded capabilities from a Q-53 counter-fire radar to a wide variety of interceptors that could be incorporated into a SHORAD solution.

The Q-53 is being programmed to detect UAS, and Lockheed’s Longbow missiles have been successful in tests against airborne targets such as helicopters while providing cross-domain fires capability, said Tim Cahill, Lockheed’s integrated air-and-missile defense vice president for the company’s Missiles and Fire Control business.

Looking farther out as the Army develops SHORAD capability beyond an interim solution, Lockheed sees its Miniature Hit-to-Kill interceptor as an attractive solution. At only 30 inches long and weighing just 5 pounds, it has the capability to go after rockets, artillery and mortars. The interceptors could fit in a 36-pack on a ground vehicle, Cahill said.

Jeff Martin, Defense News staff, contributed to this report.
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[*] posted on 21-10-2017 at 12:24 PM

BAE Systems has upgraded 5,000 tactical vehicles with C4I systems

Posted On Friday, 20 October 2017 11:24

BAE Systems, in support of the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center Atlantic, has successfully upgraded the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) capabilities on the 5,000th mine-resistant tactical vehicle for U.S. and allied forces.

BAE Systems has upgraded a variety of mine-resistant vehicles, including M-ATV vehicles, MaxxPro DASH and Ambulances, and RG-31 vehicles with C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) systems.

The important milestone comes as the U.S. Army, a SPAWAR customer, seeks to improve the mission capabilities of its tactical vehicle fleet and enhance situational awareness for soldiers.

The work is part of the Tactical Vehicle Engineering and Prototyping Support Services program through SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic, based in Charleston, South Carolina, with the integration work taking place at BAE Systems’ facility in nearby Summerville. The C4I upgrades enhance vehicle communications systems, intercom systems, mobile network systems, and soldier protective systems on a variety of mine-resistant vehicles, including M-ATV vehicles, MaxxPro® DASH and Ambulances, and RG-31 vehicles.

“Our experts ensure that rigorous quality standards are met when installing this equipment, because these technologies and communications systems must perform flawlessly when our soldiers are in harm’s way,” said Kris Busch, vice president of BAE Systems’ C4ISR and Electronic Systems business. “These vehicles are being redeployed throughout the world to support critical current and ongoing missions.”

The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce recently named BAE Systems as one of the 2017 Best Places to Work in South Carolina. The company has approximately 600 workers across the state supporting information technology services contracts and the welding and machining of combat vehicles, such as the Amphibious Combat Vehicle, Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, and Bradley family of vehicles. The company also recently announced plans to expand its manufacturing operations in Aiken, South Carolina to add more than 120 new jobs.

In addition to these critical C4I upgrades, BAE Systems over the years manufactured numerous mine-resistant vehicles, including RG-31s and RG-33s. Starting in the mid-2000s, the company produced more than 6,000 of these vehicles to support urgent military needs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

BAE Systems delivers a broad range of solutions and services including intelligence analysis, cyber operations, IT, systems development, systems integration, and operations and maintenance to enable militaries and governments to recognize, manage, and defeat threats. The company takes pride in supporting critical national security missions that protect the nation and those who serve.
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[*] posted on 23-10-2017 at 04:29 PM

Magpul Disputes Army Claims of PMAG Cold Weather Performance

Magpul officials maintain that its Gen M3 PMAG will function reliably at temperatures down to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Photo: Magpul.

Posted By: Matthew Cox October 19, 2017

I'm utterly puzzled by this design parameter? To me, it's a nonsense, a prescriptive measure little borne out by reality. You don't do anything at minus 60F/51C........NOTHING, nada, nowt...........any extensive exercise stands a chance , of you suffering severe injury even if you wear a face mask or other protective face cannot operate effectively without face protection as even your breath freezes on your face or beard. If you breathe too deeply, two less than pleasant things will happen; your nose hairs freeze, you feel itchy and sneeze - instant blood flow that only cauterisation of the nose passage will cure (you never want that, it's VERY unpleasant) OR two, you get ice on your Lungs internally and you bleed tell me again, WHY they test at minus 51C? It's a damn puzzle to me.................:no: The NATO groups that do operate in such temperatures where they usually occur, are operating in Norway. The Norwegians are past masters at fighting in these conditions, and so are the people they train in the form of three Marine group, USMC, RM and the Nederland Marines, they are the prime reinforcement groups for Norway, and they are the people who know how to operate in such conditions - by the way, I've experienced such severe conditions in some of the mountainous areas of Norway. It's not don't ski or do any form of exercise, other than gentle, unhurried, walking........and not in deep snow!

Magpul officials are challenging a recent Army safety message that states that the Gen M3 PMAG polymer magazine breaks in extreme cold weather conditions.

U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command Maintenance Information Message 17-045 states that “tests demonstrate PMAG magazines crack/break in cold (below 0 degrees Fahrenheit) environments when dropped and units should use Army-standard aluminum magazines in basic to severe cold environments.”

But Magpul Vice President Duane Liptak argues that the Gen M3 – the latest version of the PMAG that has been adopted by the U.S. Marine Corps and the Air Force – will continue to function more reliably than the Army’s new aluminum Enhanced Performance Magazine after drop tests at minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We strongly feel that there is either an error in their test methodology or their criteria for what they are considering pass/fail,” Liptak told recently.

“We have absolutely seen nothing from an extensive body of cold weather testing laboratory testing as well as extensive field use in arctic conditions to suggest any lack of suitability. In fact we have significant input from both fronts that it is superior to the USGI in those environments.”

The Marine Corps, U.S. Special Operations Command and the Air Force have selected the Magpul Gen M3 PMAG over the Army’s Enhanced Performance Magazine, or EPM.

But the Army has been reluctant to follow the other services and is sticking with its EPM.

Since its 2016 adoption, the Army has fielded more than 400,000 EPMs despite a 2015 U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center report that shows the Gen M3 outperformed the EMP along with nine other commercial polymer magazines.

When developing the Gen M3, Magpul officials said one of the main goals was to pass a drop test at minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the U.S. Army standard for extreme cold weather.

“Negative 60 was the goal for the Gen M3,” Liptak said.

Magpul used test criteria of the Army’s Picatinny Arsenal, Liptak said.

The test involves an M4A1 loaded with a full Gen M3 PMAG after it is kept in a special chamber at minus 60 F for 72 hours, Liptak said.

“The most violent drop is the full weapon drop test; it is five feet in various orientations onto a polished concrete surface, in free-fall” Liptak said.

“It’s dropped in normal orientation which is magazine directly down, and that is the most damaging one to every magazine because that back corner hits. There are also sideways drops, a drop on the top of the rifle, a butt first drop and a nose first drop”

Liptak acknowledges that the Gen M3 PMAG will show minor cracking after the test, but it will continue to function reliably.

Apparently, Picatinny’s criteria only tests for cracking and breakages, not functioning, Liptak said.

“There was no live-fire performance qualification required so an aluminum mag bends all to Hell, binds the follower or spring, but it doesn’t crack so therefore it’s a pass,” Liptak said.

The PMAG will suffer tiny cracks, without spreading, in the floorplate, the over-travel stop and the mag catch – “all those things combined are to some extent sacrificial surfaces where they take some damage but the magazine is completely functional and that is our biggest criteria. Our thing is no matter what happens it needs to function.”

Liptack maintains that the Army’s EPM in many will be unable to function after the same drop tests.

“So what you will see is the base of the magazine will bend to a degree that impinges on the spring or the follower; sometimes the body itself will buckle sideways and that will impinge on the spring or the follower,” Liptak said. reached out to the Army about this story but did not receive comment by deadline.

Magpul maintains that there are surfaces on the Gen M3 that are expected to have “small cracks when you drop it at minus 60, which is brutal,” Liptak said. “It’s a tough test. Like I said ‘the USGI doesn’t fair very well nor does anything else.

“Our criteria is function; the only thing we care about is function, so if the magazine fires 30 rounds after the drop it is considered a pass.”
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[*] posted on 24-10-2017 at 04:49 PM

Speedier Software Upgrades For Army Vehicles: Open Architecture

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

on October 23, 2017 at 4:23 PM

Army vehicles like this Stryker are often festooned with different antennas, each for a different radio or GPS system. Open architecture aims to streamline such systems.

NATIONAL PRESS CLUB: The Army’s wheeled vehicle programs like Stryker and JLTV are leading it on the path to open architecture, a modular approach to designing software and electronics that makes them easier to upgrade. That’s particularly critical when, facing Russian GPS jamming, the Army is looking to improve Position, Navigation & Timing (PNT) on tens of thousands of vehicles.

“The killer use case for this, at least initially, is distributing Position, Navigation and Timing across our platforms,” said Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for armored fighting vehicles like Strykers and tanks. The idea is to invent an “Assured PNT” solution once and then install it, plug-and-play, across a wide variety of vehicles that all use the same open architecture. “The savings associated with that, as opposed to modernizing every GPS receiver on your platforms (individually), is enormous,” Bassett told the Open Architecture Summit here.

To give a sense of scale: Across the Defense Department as a whole, there are 260 different, proprietary, and often incompatible configurations of GPS and inertial navigation equipment, another participant said. And the Army has many more ground vehicles to upgrade than the other services have aircraft or ships, with over 4,000 Strykers in service alone.

The eight-wheel-drive Stryker is the first of Bassett’s programs to move to an Army open architecture called VICTORY. (It’s an awful nested acronym: Vehicular Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability). VICTORY comes along with the installation of an in-vehicle Ethernet and other improvements on what’s called the Stryker DVH (Double Vee Hull) A1. Other armored vehicles such as the M1 Abrams tank and M2 Bradley troop carrier will move to the VICTORY standard as part of future upgrade packages called ECPs (Engineering Change Proposals).

Oshkosh Joint Light Tactical Vehicle fitted with anti-aircraft missiles and machinegun.

Alongside the 8×8 Stryker is the smaller but, soon, much more numerous 4×4 Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the 21st century Jeep. The planned buy of 50,000 JLTVs is meant to replace many (not all) of the military’s nimble but vulnerable Humvees and robust but lumbering MRAPs with a tactical truck that blends the best of both.

“It’s our great model for open architecture,” said Maj. Gen. Niel Nelson, the Marine Corps’ assistant deputy commandant for combat development. The whole point of a tactical utility vehicle like the JLTV, or the Humvee and Jeep before it, is that you can reconfigure it easily for different missions, he told the conference, from hauling cargo to evacuating casualties to conducting reconnaissance. In modern warfare, that means you need to reconfigure software and electronics quickly too.

“JLTV comes as sort of a base truck (that) could get any number of radios and jammers and weapons stations and all sorts of things,” said Scott Davis, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for combat support and service vehicles, who’s running JLTV for all the services. Thanks to open architecture, he told the conference, “what we’ve seen is the integration timeline and working thru the bugs and all of that is much, much quicker with the digital backbone that’s in the vehicle.” It’s possible to route information from multiple radios to a single screen, for example, rather than have a different display for each.

There have been hitches, the Army executives admitted. “To be very fair, adoption of VICTORY has been somewhat slow,” Bassett said bluntly at the start of his remarks.

So, added Davis, when JLTV solicited designs from industry in a formal Request For Proposal, “the first instantiation of the VICTORY standard wasn’t completely baked, but they rolled in pieces of it.” That means the VICTORY standard won’t be completely standard. Different programs that adopted it at different stages of maturity may have slightly different versions, although they can reconcile them over time.

More than any other service, Army faces tremendous problems of scale, which makes it hard to field one uniform standard across the service, said Rickey Smith, a retired colonel now with the Army Capabilities Integration Center. “The VICTORY architecture is a good start,” he said, but it’ll take years to roll it out across the service. “Everybody’s not going to have it (at once). Do it in increments, do it in blocks”.

Nor is VICTORY the all-conquering open architecture for all purposes, even in the relatively narrow world of Army vehicles.

Bassett, for instance, is also working on a Modular Active Protection System (MAPS), that will set common standards for radars, jammers, and mini-missiles that defend armored vehicles from incoming weapons, allowing plug-and-play upgrades as threats evolve. Meanwhile Army aircraft programs are working with the Navy and Air Force on an open architecture for avionics known as FACE, the Future Airborne Capability Environment. The Air Force and Navy have their own open architectures as well — and there’s not been much work on making them compatible.

“There are these DoD (Department of Defense) systems, but I do not see effectively at the DoD level, the federal level, a body of government common standards to make sure things are open,” said Maj. Gen. Sarah Zabel, the Air Force’s director of IT acquisition process development. “It is possible that the open architecture the Air Force has might not be compatible entirely with the open architecture (another service) has.”

That said, Zabel went on, “I would argue that the nature of open architecture means that the incompatibility’s not going to be as bad when every system’s completely unique.” In other words, there might be dozens of different standards, but that’s still a lot easier to deal with than hundreds of individual systems.

To some degree, you do need different forms of open architecture — different standards — for different missions, several experts at the conference said. Flight-critical electronics on an aircraft moving hundreds of miles per hour, for instance, have to operate with a speed and precision that would be expensive overkill on a ground vehicle moving 40 mph.

Submarines, helicopters, and trucks all need to track different kinds of data in different ways.

“One open architecture standard does not rule them all,” said Marcell Padilla, a former Navy pilot who now works on Army programs for CRL Technologies. “We need to have a combination of them.”
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[*] posted on 27-10-2017 at 07:24 PM

Starting off small: Army grapples with bringing robotics into fold

By: Jen Judson   17 hours ago

The Talon tracked military robot is operated during a route clearance mission while at the Combat Support Training Exercise at Fort McCoy, Wis., on June 19, 2015. (Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hamilton/U.S. Army)

WASHINGTON — After years of struggling to come up with a solid strategy for bringing robotics and autonomous systems into the fold, the U.S. Army finally appears on the verge of bringing them into combat formation in a way that makes operational sense, especially within the ground force.
But that still means starting off small.

“Smaller unit capabilities will be the first to be fielded with robotics,” Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess, the acting director of the Army Capabilities and Integration Center, told Defense News in a recent interview.

In executing the Army’s robotics and autonomous systems strategy born out of ARCIC and Training and Doctrine Command a year ago, the service will likely have a good idea in just a few years on how it will use robotics to decrease the soldier load and prevent battlefield surprise by being able to see over the next hilltop, Dyess explained. He noted that robots will continue to provide capabilities that are widely prevalent in operations such as bomb disposal.

While using robots in the field is nothing new, fully integrating the capability with units on the ground hasn’t been easy to conceptualize and execute.

Dyess sees “beyond 2020” as the time when the Army will likely look at how to bring robotics and autonomous capabilities to higher echelons and in more complex ways. “That’s like just over the rainbow,” he said.

The ability for robots to lead and follow, serve as wingmen or bird dogs to the soldiers, and possibly even shoot at the enemy are farther afield.

While manned-unmanned teaming is often used downrange in Army aviation, it’s much harder to get vehicles to work autonomously and safely over unpredictable terrain.

While armed ground vehicles are prevalent at defense trade shows worldwide, Dyess said he doesn’t foresee armed ground robots before 2020, and even then “they’re going to have some type of human in the loop in order to pull the trigger or make lethal decisions.”

But he added he feels “pretty strongly” that arming ground robots will be a requirement for the Army in the future.

Forward march

The service has taken major steps to figure out how to integrate robots into the maneuver force over the last several years.

In the summer, the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence held a demonstration at Fort Benning, Georgia, that showcased its efforts to develop a robotic wingman within the maneuver force and how to incorporate robotic capability within a tank formation.

Much of the technology is there to drive robotics and autonomy into maneuver formations, but when it comes to developing tactics, techniques and procedures, the Army is figuring out “how we want to massage this,” said Robert Sadowski, robotics chief with the Army‘s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, said at the demonstration. “The next 10 to 15 years will help us figure out how we want to embed robotics and autonomous systems into the formation.”

The service is investing in some new platforms across the next five years, but those are mostly tactical systems focused on explosive ordnance disposal, logistics, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The Army awarded in September an engineering development and production contract to Endeavor Robotics to build its Man Transportable Robotic System Increment 2 for $158.5 million.

MTRS will be a remotely operated, medium-sized common robotic platform to replace thousands of unique robotic systems rapidly fielded during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The service does not want to repeat the rapid procurement of a hodgepodge of one-off systems when providing its next round of robotic capability to the war fighter, and MTRS helps to get after that goal.

MTRS is the first of three programs to replace the countless robotic systems procured over the last 15 years.

Production of MTRS is expected to begin in fiscal 2019. The company will field roughly 1,210 systems to units related to engineering; explosive ordnance disposal; and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear measures, according to the Army.

The service is also holding a competition for a new small unmanned ground vehicle — the Common Robotic System — Individual — that weighs less than 25 pounds, is highly mobile, and is equipped with advanced sensors and mission modules for dismounted forces. A contract award is expected in the first quarter of fiscal 2018.

The service is pursuing an “innovative” approach to meet its Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport requirement, according to Bryan McVeigh, project manager of force projection within the Army’s Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

The Army awarded contracts to nine companies for a total of 10 platforms, McVeigh said, which participated in a live demonstration event from Sept. 11 through Oct. 14 at Fort Benning. The demonstration was meant to educate the Army on robotic logistics capabilities and for soldiers to provide operational feedback.

The participating companies were General Dynamics Land Systems, American Robot Company, Lockheed Martin, HDT Expeditionary Systems, AM General, Howe and Howe Technologies, Roboteam NA, Inc., QinetiQ North American, and Applied Research Associates.

Also based on the demonstration, the Army will select up to four platforms and award production contracts for 20 of each, and will then issue the systems to two infantry brigade combat team locations to inform future program decisions, McVeigh said.

Just over the rainbow

Even as the Army works to streamline the robotic systems within very specific units, it’s still unclear how unmanned systems will be integrated with combat formations in the near term.

According to James Tinsley, a defense analyst at Avascent, the lack of integration of unmanned aircraft systems into vehicle concepts was particularly striking at DSEI, a recent defense conference in the United Kingdom.

Finnish defense company Patria was the only one to display a concept integrating a drone with a vehicle ― mounting a hand-launched micro-UAV from FLIR/Prox Dynamics atop a little stick on the roof of the back-end of its armored modular vehicle.

“This may reflect the lack of consensus around which crew member will operate the platform and sensor, who will buy and maintain the system, how launch/recovery/reuse can be integrated into the vehicle architectures, and other things to be worked out,” Tinsley said. “But it seems like there could be some additional low-cost, [commercial/modifiable off-the-shelf] solutions and integration opportunities to shape market demand, which vehicle and system contractors are not pursuing.”

The budget for Army ground robotics is ramping up from small unmanned ground vehicles to systems that can be retrofitted onto larger vehicles for explosive ordnance disposal or for leader-follow applications, according to Kelleigh Bilms, also an analyst at Avascent.

And since the Army is looking for capabilities that span a broad set of missions, the showroom floor at the recent Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention in Washington had an abundance of offerings from industry, particularly claiming flexibility to meet multiple missions.

Industry is starting to bring forward ideas for fully autonomous, large vehicles, particularly as the rest of the automotive industry grows increasingly comfortable incorporating autonomy into full-sized commercial vehicles.

The Army tried a few medium-sized autonomous systems for cargo resupply in recent years during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; but even after feedback from the field expressed utility in the systems, the service essentially shelved the capabilities due to competing priorities in a tight fiscal climate.

Part of the resurgence could be that the Army is starting to look at a next-generation combat vehicle that will likely have a great deal of autonomous capability integrated into the platform.

BAE Systems earlier this year repurposed its future combat system Armed Robotic Combat Vehicle to reimagine what a larger unmanned ground vehicle could look like.

At AUSA, General Motors unveiled SURUS ― the Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure ― a flexible and highly mobile, stealthy, electric, autonomous platform that can be converted to meet a wide variety of operational needs within the Army, which builds off its extensive work on fuel-cell technology.

Many of the Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport offerings were also on display at AUSA, including QinetiQ’s Titan and HDT Global’s Hunter WOLF.

Polaris Industries also touted its Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport offering in partnership with Applied Research Associates and Neya Systems LLC that evolves squad mobility using the MRZR X vehicle in combination with ARA’s advanced unmanned systems and autonomous systems behavior technology from Neya.

The Army is shifting its focus toward building a capability to fit into its new Multi-Domain Battle concept, and that has “helped explain more clearly the value of unmanned ground systems in future [concepts of operation],” Bilms said. Yet, “there are still cultural and organizational barriers to the [manned-unmanned teaming] vision outlined in Army strategy documents.”

To successfully move forward, Bilms said, trust in fully autonomous capabilities needs to increase, and that will require assurance the technology is reliable.

“These are no small hurdles overcome before we’ll see [unmanned ground vehicles] realize their full potential,” Bilms said.
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[*] posted on 4-11-2017 at 04:02 PM

Army Goes Back to Basics on Supply, Maintenance

Posted By: Richard Sisk November 2, 2017

Army Gen. Gus Perna has a vision of future conflicts in which soldiers will return to doing their own supply and maintenance rather than relying on contractors.

“My view is there won’t be contractors on the battlefield at least initially, for sure,” Perna, commander of U.S. Army Materiel Command (AMC), said Wednesday at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.

“Over basically the last 15 years, supply and maintenance transactions were done by contractors as we were in Afghanistan and Iraq because we were maintaining a force cap level — only so many soldiers were allowed over there,” he said.
The limited numbers of soldiers on  Forward Operating Bases, or FOBs, were focused on the enemy, and “we wanted to make sure that the soldiers in those locations were executing their most important mission,” Perna said.

Consequently, AMC brought in “contractors to do maintenance and supply on those FOBs,” he said.

As a result, the Army neglected its logistics components, Perna said.

“We needed to focus our efforts on fighting, but the skills of the soldiers, the warrant officers, the leaders on how to execute supply accountability, maintenance, and then their processes” went into atrophy, he said.

Essentially, “we stopped doing maintenance and supply,” Perna said. “Our skills atrophied. If you’re not doing it, if somebody’s doing it for you, then natural atrophy occurs.”

The loss of logistics skills was one of his major concerns two years ago, he said, adding, “We’re getting better every day, and we’re building back our core competence to do this.”

Another major concern was the time it took to get equipment out of prepositioned stocks worldwide and into the hands of soldiers.

“We’ve significantly reduced the time it used to take to 96 hours” from when he gets the call to draw down gear from prepositioned stocks to when it’s moving to the field, Perna said. He would not quantify how long it used to take, but said it was “significantly longer.”

Much of AMC’s focus is now on managing the logistics of the Army’s transition from a force primarily concerned with counter-insurgency operations to one that will also deal with “decisive action” against more conventional enemies, Perna said.

He also described “atrophy” regarding the availability of spare parts and maintenance for heavy equipment such Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which are getting more frequent use in training cycles.

“So tanks, Bradleys, we’re racking up miles on that equipment, and things break,” Perna said. For spare parts, “we no longer have the breadth and the depth of that being maintained on the shelf, both in the motor pools and then all the way back to industry.

“Industry will keep on the shelf what they’re going to sell,” he said. “They don’t keep things on the shelf that they’re not selling.”

With the increase in operations tempo, “We increased our requirements for spare parts for that equipment,.and we are building a demand to demonstrate that, ‘Yes, we need the repair parts at the motor pool and we need the repair parts at industry,’ ” Perna said. “And so that’s coming along, and it’s getting stronger every day.”

He did not respond directly when asked if AMC is speeding supplies to meet current threats in South Korea and northern Africa.

“Different locations have different challenges, and we address them accordingly,” Perna said. “I am building supplies for all the combatant commanders.”
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[*] posted on 28-11-2017 at 09:44 AM

Operation Overmatch: US Army launches prototyping in virtual reality

By: Jen Judson   8 hours ago

The virtual environment of Operation Overmatch could help shape how the U.S. Army fights in the future. (Courtesy of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command)

WASHINGTON — Training soldiers using virtual reality has been a common practice for many years, but the U.S. Army is applying that technology to something new: prototyping its future equipment in virtual environments to see what works and what doesn’t before dollars are spent on bending metal.

Developing a new system in the Army has historically taken too long, ended up costing far more than anticipated, and resulted in underperforming equipment and canceled programs. But the service is trying a new way to take conceptual designs for vehicles and other equipment, immerse those designs in a synthetic environment and have soldiers war game battlefield scenarios using the technology.

Operation Overmatch began as a concept in 2013 when the Army asked the question: How do gaming environments enable capability development?

Because soldiers already spend their free time playing games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, and gaming is already used regularly in training, the Army decided to create a gaming environment where soldiers could try out concepts for equipment on a complex battlefield and provide feedback on the experience, Maj. Gen. Bo Dyess, the Army Capabilities Integration Center’s acting director, said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in October.

ARCIC and the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command partnered in 2016 to gauge soldiers’ interest in participating and to develop a way to collect feedback to enhance the prototyping and concept development going on within the service, Dyess said.

The Army game studio developed Operation Overmatch, essentially creating an immersive substantiation of synthetic prototyping, he added.

Many organizations in the Army, Dyess said, have dollars that are associated with simulating and modeling specific weapon systems, but there’s been no specific place to put them together, so Operation Overmatch can be seen as a “sandbox” where capabilities can come together, such as combining a vehicle with certain communications gear and night vision capabilities.

“This is innovation and I’m not sure it’s going to work or not, but we won’t be able to tell it’s going to work or not unless we try it,” Dyess said.

The Army’s intention is to gather feedback from soldiers in order to become more agile and more rapid in the development of weapons systems.

The Army is applying virtual reality technology to something new: early synthetic prototyping of its future equipment in virtual environments to see what works and what doesn’t before dollars are spent on bending metal. (Courtesy of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command)

The hope is that the synthetic prototyping environment will help the Army think about what is needed when developing such modernization priorities — like the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle or Long-Range Precision Fires — and will help the Army better understand how to use robotics, respond to swarms of unmanned systems, use jammers and detect when being jammed, and even improve technology in such areas as advanced optics, according to Dyess.

And ultimately Operation Overmatch could help shape how the Army fights in the future, he said.

The game is set up so eight soldiers can go up against another team of eight. The game is designed to be competitive as “competition raises the level of participation and engagement in game environments,” Lt. Col. Brian Vogt, ARCIC’s early synthetic prototyping project lead, told Defense News. “Soldiers want to win, and they will inherently innovate to gain an advantage over other players.

“Teaming is very important to the creative process.”

The game entered beta testing in early October and currently has a limited offense and defense scenario. As it improves and expands, the game designers will add more terrain types to the database such as desert and rolling wooded hills in addition to the current urban environment featured in the game, according to Vogt.

As the Army looks to the future, it expects to fight not just in similar environments to the one it fought in over the last 15 years in the Middle East, but also urban environments as cities are exploding around the world and it becomes more likely conflict would take place in a densely populated area. And the service has already found itself operating regularly in wooded, hilly terrain in such places as Eastern Europe, where a rotational armored unit is now regularly deployed among other units to deter Russian aggression.

Beta testing of the game comes at the same time the Army is launching its new Modernization Command, expected to be fully stood up in the summer of 2018. The Army has identified six top priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air-and-missile defense, and soldier lethality.

To get after many of these efforts, the Army is either prototyping or gearing up to design prototypes to deliver a new capability. Two teams are building FVL demonstrators that will fly in the coming months, and the Army just kicked off a prototyping effort for the NGCV, where prototypes will be built by 2022.

While physical prototypes are being developed, the game could provide a virtual playground to test out the concepts in a low-cost way.

The game as of now has a mobile protected firepower platform, an unmanned ground combat vehicle, micro-UAVs launched from vehicles and wheeled vehicles. The Army also has an “emerging threat” platform to war game against, Vogt said.
The vehicles and equipment featured in the beta version of Operation Overmatch are near-term emerging capabilities.

The Army is planning to release a request for proposals this month for a competition to rapidly procure effective Mobile Protected Firepower for infantry brigade combat teams and will evaluate offerings in the spring of 2018.

And teaming micro-UAVs with vehicles is another concept surfacing not only with the U.S. Army but internationally.

For instance, Finnish defense company Patria displayed a concept integrating a drone with a vehicle — mounting a hand-launched micro-UAV from FLIR/Prox Dynamics atop a little stick on the roof of the back end of its armored modular vehicle.

So far there’s been a lack of integration of unmanned aircraft systems into vehicle concepts, which may reflect the lack of consensus around which crew member will operate the platform and sensor, who will buy and maintain the system, and how launching, recovery and reuse can be integrated into the vehicle architectures.

A gaming system like Operation Overmatch could provide the opportunity to answer a lot of those questions.

But while some problems can be solved using early synthetic prototyping, the game is only as good as the feedback coming from soldiers, so the developers are working just as hard on the processes needed to collect and analyze feedback in a way that actually improves capability development.

Soldiers have already provided valuable feedback on vehicle capabilities, manned-unmanned teaming, UAVs and operating in a complex urban environment, Vogt said.

But the Army has to learn how to take the feedback and gather it for scientists, engineers and capability developers “to think more clearly about the problem and potential solutions,” he added.

And for improving the game itself, soldiers “have been instrumental in identifying bugs as well as identifying future improvements to make the game more engaging,” Vogt noted.

The longer-term goal and vision for early synthetic prototyping is to use engaging game environments across the Army to develop, assess and give feedback about new ideas, Vogt said. “This is relatively boundless for [early synthetic prototyping].”
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[*] posted on 6-12-2017 at 03:15 PM

Army Explains New Dual-Arming Policy for Modular Handgun System

The U.S. Army has finalized a plan to dual arm combat leaders down to the team-leader level with the new XM17 Modular Handgun System. (U.S. Army photo) 1 Dec 2017 By Matthew Cox

U.S. Army weapons officials today explained the service's recent decision to dual-arm more soldiers in combat units with the service's new Modular Handgun System in addition to the M4 carbine.

Earlier this week, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky became the first Army unit to receive the MHS, which comes in two versions -- the XM17 full-size MHS and the XM18 compact MHS. Once the Army type-classifies the MHS, they will go by M17 and M18.

The MHS is designed to provide soldiers with more of an offensive weapon than the Cold-War era M9 pistol it is replacing, according to Daryl Eastlick, the deputy of the Lethality Branch at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia.

"We wanted to find a weapon system that was available as a non-developmental item that fit a more offensive capability, meaning I want to be able to take the fight to the enemy when I field this to those individuals that there job in the infantry is to close with and destroy the enemy in close combat," Eastlick told a group of defense reporters at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The Army awarded Sig Sauer a contract worth up to $580 million Jan. 19. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.

The 101st received more than 2,000 MHSs on Nov. 17 and plan to field the new pistols over the next year. The unit fielding the MHS on Monday with a significant shift in policy that will issue the XM17 to squad leaders and team leaders to carry along with their M4 carbines. In the past, these junior leaders have not typically carried sidearms.

Special operations forces such as the 75th Ranger Regiment dual-arm all of its members with a pistol and a carbine, Eastlick said.

Army weapons officials have decided that "we did not want to dual arm the entire Army," Eastlick said. "We looked at those forces that close with and destroy the enemy in close combat as their primary function.

"We did some basis of issue drills where we looked at dual arming the entire infantry particularly dismounted infantry soldiers, engineers, scouts, and what we concluded was the 75th Ranger Regiment -- being the premiere infantry regiment in the world -- they also have a different training regimen than the big Army infantry battalions do."

First Lt. Andrew Borer of 101st Airborne's C Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, said he didn't think it was necessary to arm every soldier in the squad with a pistol alongside their individual weapons.

"There is no real need for us to dual arm the basic rifleman, but having our team leaders armed with both the XM17 and the M4 allows them to better control their teams ... where ever the fight takes them, said Borer, who telephoned into the roundtable from Fort Campbell.

Arming combat units down to the team-leader level will help bring the MHS into the squad, Eastlick said.

"When I need to go into a confined space, negotiate some battlefield task where one of my hands is busy, I need something I can engage the enemy with with one hand," Eastlick said.

Cpl. Jory Herrmann, a team leader with C Company, 1-506th, said he is pleased that he will have a more compact weapon for times he has to operate in cramped conditions.

"It's more useful to have a handgun on your side than a rifle trying to low crawl under tight quarters," Herrmann said by phone. "I think it is going to add a whole new dynamic to close quarters combat."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at
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[*] posted on 6-12-2017 at 03:18 PM

Army Unveils Holster for Modular Handgun System

The Army's new holster for the XM17 Modular Handgun System includes various options for mounting the holster to soldier kit. (Photo by Matthew Cox/ 1 Dec 2017 By Matthew Cox

U.S. Army weapons officials recently unveiled the holster that will be issued with the service's new Modular Handgun System.

The Army chose a commercial holster, made by The Safariland Group, to issue with the XM17 full-size MHS, according to Sequana Robinson, product officer at Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment.

The tan-colored holster features a dual locking system that can be released with the shooter's firing hand thumb. It comes with multiple mounting options so soldiers can tailor their load, Army weapons officials maintain.

The holster was available at the Defense Logistics Agency tailored logistics program and Safariland was able to meet the characteristics for MHS as well as the timeline, Robinson said.

The Army awarded Sig Sauer the MHS contract worth up to $580 million Jan. 19. Sig Sauer beat out Glock Inc., FN America and Beretta USA, maker of the current M9 9mm service pistol, in the competition for the Modular Handgun System, or MHS, program.

The service launched its long-awaited MHS competition in late August 2015 to replace its Cold War-era M9 9mm pistol. The selection of Sig Sauer in January formally ended the Beretta's 30-year hold on the Army's sidearm market.

The 10-year agreement calls for Sig to supply the Army with full-size XM17 and compact XM18 versions of its 9mm pistol. The XM18 compact-size MHS pistol is designed to be carried in a concealed holster, Army officials maintain.

The Army is also working on a follow-on holster design to coincide with a program to equip the XM17 with a white light/aiming laser.

"We are working a soldier enhancement program to look at a pistol aiming laser which is a white light, infrared laser, so they have that night shooting capability, according to Daryl Eastlick, the deputy of the Lethality Branch at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The Army recently closed a request for proposal for the follow-on holster design which would hold the XM17 with an aiming laser/white light already mounted to the pistol.

"The last thing I want them to be able to have to do is draw a loaded weapon and put a light or a laser on it while it's loaded under fire," Eastlick said. "Probably not the best idea, so we need a holster that will hold the weapon system that is enabled and already ready to use."

Currently the Army intends to field about 238,000 MHS pistols. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, became the first unit to receive MHS on Nov. 28.

The base configuration of the full-size XM17 pistol comes with three different grip sizes, Tritium night sights and three magazines -- one standard 17-round magazine and two extended 21-round magazines.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at
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[*] posted on 6-12-2017 at 03:24 PM

Weapons Officials Tight-Lipped on MHS Ammo Selection

In January 2017, the Army selected Sig Sauer to produce the XM17 full-size MHS and the XM18 compact MHS. Sig Sauer partnered with Winchester to provide the ammunition. (U.S. Army photo) 4 Dec 2017 By Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army has begun fielding its new sidearm that will replace the M9 pistol, but weapons officials remain tight-lipped about the new ammunition that promises to make the Modular Handgun System more lethal than its Cold War predecessor.

One of the major goals of the MHS effort is to adopt a pistol chambered for a more potent round than the current 9mm.

During the summer of 2015, Army officials revealed that a new Defense Department policy would allow the service to use "special-purpose ammunition" for the MHS program, a significant break from its past devotion to ball ammunition.

In January, the Army selected Sig Sauer to produce the XM17 full-size MHS and the XM18 compact MHS. Sig Sauer partnered with Winchester to provide the ammunition.

Winchester is the largest commercial supplier of small-caliber ammunition to the U.S. military, company officials maintain. The firm has been supplying the M882 9mm ball round to the military for more than 30 years, according to Winchester officials.

The new Winchester XM1153 is a 147-grain jacketed hollow point bullet and "currently the principal go-to-war ammunition" for MHS, Lt. Col. Steven Power, head of Product Manager Individual Weapons, told defense reporters at a recent round-table discussion.

The Nov. 30 press event came two days after soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, became the first Army unit to receive the MHS.
Winchester officials maintain that its XM1153 is "about 25 percent better than the M882 [ball] round from a lethality standpoint."

Beyond that, weapons officials remain reluctant to describe in detail how they quantify that performance percentage increase or how the Winchester round was selected over other projectiles tested in the competition, which included calibers larger than 9mm, such as .40 caliber.

"When you talk about capability in systems that protect our soldiers, we just as a matter of policy try not to talk about that because it can be useful to adversaries," Power said, adding that ballistic gelatin testing was one of the types of testing used to measure the size of the wound cavity left by the bullet.

Army officials would not talk about the composition of the round or the types of barriers it is designed to penetrate -- a sharp contrast to the unveiling of the service's M855A1 Enhanced Performance Round

The Army replaced the Cold War-era M855 5.56mm round in 2010 with the new M855A1 EPR, the result of more than a decade of work to develop a lead-free round.

Army officials were very open about the M855A1 and invited reporters out to a range to show off the performance of the new round, which features a steel penetrator on top of a solid copper slug, making it is more dependable than the current M855, Army officials have said.

The M855A1 delivers consistent performance at all distances and penetrates 3/8-inch-thick steel at ranges approaching 400 meters, tripling the performance of the M855, Army officials say.

But at the Nov. 30 MHS event, Army weapons officials said the M855A1 was an Army-led engineering change proposal. By contrast, the Winchester XM1153 9mm jacketed hollow point round was chosen under "source selection," which prevents the service from discussing it in detail.

"This was a source selection event so because it is source selection sensitive, we can't share all of the information that was gathered there," according to Daryl Eastlick, deputy of the Lethality Branch at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The testing involved Army Research, Engineering and Development Command and Army Research Laboratory, Eastlick said.

"They both worked together during the source selection process to give us the technical information we needed to understand what that lethality was," he said.

"They did that through a very rigorous process that includes shooting ballistic gelatin and using modeling and simulation to understand what it would do on different shot lines and how it performs actually in reality."

Weapons officials say they will likely be less transparent about capability specifics in the future.

"Some of the programs we are moving forward with -- that kind of started with MHS but more so with others -- you are going to kind of see us being less transparent when it comes to our capability," Power said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at
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[*] posted on 8-12-2017 at 11:52 AM

US Army looks to cut typical acquisition timeline in half

By: Jen Judson   4 hours ago

Mark Esper testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to be secretary of the U.S. Army on Capitol Hill on Nov. 2, 2017. One way the Army is instilling confidence in industry that there is money to be spent on acquisition programs is defining its six modernization priorities. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is looking at how it can reduce by half what has turned into an unacceptably long timeline to deliver capabilities to soldiers in the field, according to the newly confirmed Army secretary.

“The process now to acquire something is maybe 10 to 15 years. It used to be five to seven. So our aim would be to get it back to where it used to be as a starting point,” Mark Esper said following a Dec. 7 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on acquisition reform.

Specifically, Esper said during his testimony that the Army plans to reduce the time it takes to develop requirements for a typical acquisition program from five years to 12 months.

The strategy for reducing the requirements development process so dramatically is to prototype capability early, test and then learn, he said. “That really sharpens your requirements process so you know exactly what is in the realm of the possible and how much it may cost, etc.”

The Army also plans to use soldiers more in testing prototypes to garner more productive feedback during a time when it’s easy to change requirements or design.

Once requirements are ironed out, Esper added, “you can go quickly through the process and get into production, so that is where we see we can really cut the timelines off.”

He noted there are already examples cropping up in the Army’s modernization efforts that show prototyping actually helps rapidly define requirements.

For instance, the Army’s Joint Multi-Role demonstrator program — designed to help guide requirements for a Future Vertical Lift aircraft expected to come online in the 2030s — will see two industry-built prototypes fly next year.

“If we can give industry some reassurance that there will be a contract on the other end, that there are dollars committed behind it, then I think you will see a lot more industry putting their dollars into the game and getting us there quickly,” Esper said. “What we are trying to do is improve collaboration with industry. That is how we see it moving forward.”

One way the Army is instilling confidence in industry that there is money to be spent on acquisition programs is defining its six modernization priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires; next-generation combat vehicle; Future Vertical Lift; the network; air and missile defense; and soldier lethality.

The priorities provide a clear picture to industry on where Army investments should be made.

The Army’s new Futures Command — which will stand up in the summer of 2018 to address those top six modernization priorities — is the mechanism by which the service hopes to see acquisition reform take shape.

Within the Futures Command, the Army is standing up eight cross-functional teams designed to tackle the top modernization priorities.

The Army has also reinvigorated its Army Requirements Oversight Council by placing the Army chief of staff in the center of the decision-making process.

The service is also in the process of carrying out eight directives that “improve capability and material development process by refining how we generate requirements, improving how we educate the acquisition enterprise, simplifying our contracting and sustainment processes and evaluating our progress through metrics to enable our ability to deliver capabilities to soldiers faster and more effciently,” Esper said in prepared testimony.

The directives are designed to implement acquisition reform requirements laid out in the fiscal 2016 and 2017 National Defense Authorization acts.

The Army is also aligning 80 percent of its science and technology funding going forward to address the top six priorities, ensuring funding is there to move forward on rapid prototyping and frequent testing.

Esper said the reviews the Army conducted to decide what science and technology efforts should be divested are complete and have enabled the service to shift $1.1 billion in funding toward priorities.
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[*] posted on 8-12-2017 at 01:05 PM

Army Shifts $1B In S&T, Plans Modernization Command: UnderSec McCarthy

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

on December 07, 2017 at 11:38 AM

PENTAGON: Merry Christmas, US Army. As you read this, the White House Office of Management and Budget is reviewing the service’s draft spending plan for 2019-2024, which reshuffles more than a billion dollars in science and technology funds, undersecretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy told me in an exclusive interview. The goal: to better resource the Big Six modernization priorities he and Chief of Staff Mark Milley announced in October.

“I personally led those meetings. We had all the Army staff components, secretariat, all the directors of the labs, PEOs (Program Executive Officers), they all came in and we did a realignment of the entire S&T portfolio,” McCarthy told me. “I picked this project over that project….winners and losers.”

McCarthy’s next round of tough choices begins next week, when Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon submits the rough draft of the biggest change in how the Army buys equipment in 40 years. Next summer, the service will stand up what’s now being called Futures & Modernization Command (FMC) to unify its sprawling system for thinking about and equipping for the future.

There’s a legion of devils in the details to deal with, however, which Cardon and his staff are developing recommendations on. “We’ll have our first look at them right before Christmas,” McCarthy told me. “Then we’ll have those formal decisions teed up again in the January, early February timeframe.”

With all this work to do, McCarthy acknowledged, he won’t spend much time with his family this Christmas. “I’ll be sitting in the lodge, probably, with exciting reading material about the restructuring of the US Army,” he said.

Army troops dismount their M2 Bradleys in a simulated assault. This kind of combined-arms attack — with, say, foot troops and vehicles fighting together — is standard on the battlefield but rare in the bureaucracy, which keeps different specialties isolated rather than working together.

Cross-Functional Teams

One central reorganization is already done. The service has set up elite Cross-Functional Teams — each one bringing together futurists, scientists, engineers, combat veterans, acquisition officials, and other experts from across the Army — for each of the Big Six modernization priorities. Those are, in order of importance:

- Long-range missiles
- New armored vehicles
- High-speed replacements for current helicopters
- Secure command networks
- Anti-aircraft and missile defense
- Soldier equipment.

The Cross-Functional Teams will form the core of the future Futures Command. In a sign of how seriously the service is taking the CFTs, each is led by a combat veteran who’s commanded a brigade and risen to general officer rank. The original plan was for CFT leaders to be one-stars but some are actually two-stars, McCarthy said: “We made it entirely about the individual,” not the rank. Vice-Chief of Staff James McConville played the leading role in picking the team leaders, with input from Gen. Milley and McCarthy.

Today, “the CFTs are off and working,” McCarthy said. “They’re going to be coming in here in a week to go through their charters” and to thrash out priorities within each of the Big Six portfolios.

The nascent teams even had a supporting role in the recent science and technology review, McCarthy said. “They participated but they were more in a listening mode, (though) some of them were in a position to weigh in on a couple subjects,” he told me. “In the future the CFTs will have even a greater role… and they will influence the recommendations for investments.”

“Where you’ll see the CFTs play the most and most aggressively is in the FY20 (budget) process,” which begins in earnest next year, McCarthy said. “Their charters will be approved, they’ll be task organized against the problem set, and they’ll have the amount of time that they need to perform the analysis against the capabilities and make an informed decision that this is [priority no.] 1, this is 2, this is n.”

Futures & Modernization Command

While the Cross-Functional Teams are already at work, the larger Futures & Modernization Command is still being designed.
“Gen. Cardon is working the larger restructuring recommendations,” McCarthy said. “The Vice Chief of Staff and I drive this process, so we meet with him every week.”

In November, McCarthy said, “we expanded his charter because we wanted to make sure everyone understood he had the authorities he needed to make recommendations that could alter the fundamentals of other major commands like a TRADOC (Training & Doctrine Command), like an AMC (Army Materiel Command).” Cardon needs to be able to say, “‘I need this piece of that command, this piece of that command’ and tie that together under one roof.”

The Army’s current division of labor, which has endured four decades, tasks TRADOC to think about future warfare, develop concepts and doctrine, oversee training, and write requirements for new equipment. Those requirements then go to Army Materiel Command, which actually researches new technologies and develops weapons, fields them, and sustains them with spare parts and upgrades. (To make matters more complicated, by law, AMC’s Program Executive Officers also report directly to the civilian Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics, & Technology). TRADOC and AMC each have their own complex internal divisions of labor as well. As a result, it can take years or decades for troops saying “we need X” to work its way through the system from concept to requirement to contract and emerge as something the troops can use.

There’ve been many attempts to bridge the divide, but the fundamental bifurcation endures. “I believe bringing requirements and the technical community together…. will simplify the requirements process,” McCarthy said. “Today requirements people work on something for a while and then they send it over the transom to somebody else, (and) they go back and forth….By bringing them together you can work the tradeoffs on the front end.”

Taking modernization-related functions away from TRADOC and AMC will still leave those commands with plenty to do, McCarthy argues. “This gives focus and clarity to the commands. You look at all of the things that TRADOC does — all of the training and doctrine and futures — that’s a lot.. (The reform) it will actually take away the burden of these responsibilities from the major commands and help tighten the focus.”

Adding a new command will not add bureaucracy, McCarthy contends, because it can start out as a relatively lean headquarters organization. Existing laboratories, program management offices, concept development staffs, and so on can report to this new HQ without physically relocating and losing their connection to the organizations they are part of today.

“The talent lives where the talent lives, I just want it to work for a different person,” McCarthy said. “We’re not looking at moving people all around the country.”

“The headquarters command element, that might a small subset of people that are living in a certain place….That is the connection to industry, academia, and the outside world,” McCarthy said. “The arms and legs of this organization will exist in other places in the country.”

How exactly this will work remains a work in progress. “There are various models of how to organize,” McCarthy said. “You look at other major commands of other services, or in the defense industry (like) the legendary Skunk Works.”

“But it always comes down to people,” McCarthy said. “I’ve even gotten in the mode where I’m recruiting people.”

Consider Hyman Rickover, the famously driven admiral who led the US Navy into the nuclear age, McCarthy said. (Yes, despite two centuries of “beat Navy,” the Army is now looking at the Navy and for that matter the Air Force for inspiration). “if you read anything about Rickover, he went around and recruited the absolute best and brightest minds in the Navy, and then he went out into academia and he got the best and brightest people in academia, and he built an incredible team,” McCarthy said. That’s the model the Army needs to follow.

“We’ve looked at the authorities that were granted to us by the National Defense Authorization Act (for) hiring,” McCarthy said. “Where are these people in the country, because some of them might not be in the military, they’re civilians, they may be in academe or industry. How do we go get them? How do we hire them quickly? And how do incentivize them in such a way so they’ll want to join the team?”

“It’s all about culture to me. What is the culture of this organization? What are the kinds of people we wan to attract?” McCarthy said. “If it’s just like another Army headquarters, well, you can have people who are army-centric. (But) we need to have different types of thinking.”
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[*] posted on 12-12-2017 at 02:51 PM

The heart of Army acquisition reform? Technology

By: Amber Corrin   7 hours ago

Mark Esper testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to be secretary of the U.S. Army on Capitol Hill on Nov. 2, 2017. He has since labeled reform of the Army acquisition system a "strategic imperative." (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Army leaders are putting the future firmly in their crosshairs as they aim to overhaul and modernize the service, including the process for developing and procuring high technology. But will the emphasis on the future be enough to save the Army from a history of bureaucracy and red tape that has marred rapid acquisition?

Across the Army and the broader Department of Defense, efforts to reform the acquisition process are under way, from the creation of new teams and task forces dedicated to improving oversight and streamlining the process in the Army to the upcoming split in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. AT&L on Feb. will split into two undersecretaries of Research and Engineering and Acquisition and Sustainment.

In the Army, officials are making plans to overhaul everything from missile defense to IT and networks, and the changes involve the highest echelons of the service and impact all the way down the chain of command.

“Our failure to modernize as quickly as possible will most likely exacerbate the significant risks the total Army now faces. This makes reform of our industrial-age acquisition system a strategic imperative,” Army Secretary Mark Esper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Dec. 7.

Officials are hedging their bets on the forthcoming Army Futures Command, announced in October as Army Modernization Command and expected to launch around the summer of 2018.

The new command will have eight cross-functional teams, and a key goal is to reduce the requirements development process from 60 months to 12, Esper said.

“This requires Army leadership to be directly involved in making tough choices to divest inefficiencies and reinvest in priorities, which we are committed to doing,” he noted in prepared remarks.

The Army is emphasizing technology in this acquisition overhaul and new command launch, including by aligning 80 percent of science and technology funding toward six core modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, the network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality.

Additionally, Esper said the reviews the Army conducted to decide what science and technology efforts should be divested are complete and have enabled the service to shift $1.1 billion in funding toward priorities, according to C4ISRNET sister publication Defense News.

“We’re in a completely different technology space today than we were in the ’80s. Then, the information age was kind of on the horizon, but now it’s upon us,” Maj. Gen. William Hix, Army director of strategy, plans and policy in the office of the deputy chief of staff (G-3/5/7), said Dec. 6 in Washington, according to FCW.

“We’re not saying, ‘How are going to necessarily execute the current system better’ — we are working at that — but we’re also working at what do we have to do to change the system to be more agile and responsive?”

Hix also said that, with the creation of the new Futures Command, the Army will try to break from its history of slow-moving processes and bureaucracy.

“The big thing we seek to avoid is becoming a bureaucracy that eats a bureaucracy … we’re very conscious of that,” he said.
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[*] posted on 27-12-2017 at 01:31 PM

Russia is pushing the Army to move faster on electronic warfare

By: Mark Pomerleau   4 days ago

Begs the question what the Australian Army has in electronic warfare capability.......very little one suspects! :no: :no:

The Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool is a command-and-control planning capability that allows commanders and soldiers to visualize what the effects of electronic warfare will look like on a screen.

When Army leaders in Europe needed advanced electronic warfare capabilities, they decided they couldn’t wait for years under the current trajectory of the Army’s official program schedule.

Instead, they asked the service to develop a faster solution, one that’s now known as Raven Claw 1 and incorporates facets of the existing program called Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool. The latter is a command-and-control planning capability that allows commanders and soldiers to visualize what the effects of electronic warfare will look like in the field on a screen.

By responding to battlefield needs that pop up outside of the traditional acquisition cycle, the Army believes it can accelerate the development of the EWPMT program, and in the process, provide a road map for how the service might improve acquisition.

The change is especially important as the Department of Defense looks to counter Russian forces and their unique threat in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Russia has showcased advanced skills in jamming and targeting within the radio frequency environment leading some top Army leaders to assess the United States is “outgunned by peer and near-peer competitors.”

U.S. forces in Europe want to keep pace with this threat and asked for an advanced tool to understand the electromagnetic environment.

However, the current program trajectory of EWPMT did not line up with their needs. The EWPMT program has four software capability drops planned incrementally over the next several years. The first capability drop is fielded to three brigade combat teams. It is expected to provide a visual of what can be jammed; what is being jammed; what is emitting; what the enemy emitter looks like; what it might look like to plan around the enemy’s emitting capability; and a strategy for jamming the enemy to allow for physical maneuver in the terrain.

Now, to meet those needs, the Army plans to jump directly to the third set of capabilities in EWPMT, Maj. Gen. John Morrison, commander of the Cyber Center of Excellence, said during a panel at an AUSA hosted event in Arlington, VA Dec. 13.

In the meantime, Raven Claw 1, a capability that includes EWPMT capability drop 1 along with additional electronic warfare asset control and enhanced situational awareness, will field to Europe in January, Col. Marty Hagenston, the project manager for electronic warfare & cyber at PEO-Intelligence Electronic Warfare and Sensors, told C4ISRNET in an interview.

Beyond what EWPMT as currently fielded can do, Raven Claw adds inter echelon communication and data sharing Lt. Col. Marc Dorrer, Product Manager Electronic Warfare Integration, told C4ISRNET. Capability drop 1 of EWPMT is isolated, he said, adding it can’t share data within a combat unit.

“The big takeaway from the [U.S. Army Europe operational needs statement] is the direct connect to sensors on the battlefield to get that situational awareness or understanding of the electromagnetic environment,” Dorrer added.

Hagenston said EWPMT is still planned along the four capability drops and funded across the Department of Defense’s long-term budget. In that plan, the first capability drop is complete, the second drop is complete pending testing, the third is waiting on a task order and the fourth is in requirements mode.

Army’s technology woes

The Army has acknowledged in recent months that it has to do a better job buying and developing systems and leaders have said big changes inside the large organization to buy smarter and faster are underway.

While leaders have been vague on details of the new acquisition strategy and instead used mantras such as “adapt and buy” and “buy, try, decide,” the service’s new approach with EWPMT is providing a potential road map for how it will do business differently going forward.

Hagenston said the capabilities developed for EWPMT for Europe can feed back into the program. In this case, he said the Army is leveraging the program to develop a quick reaction capability instead of the inverse, which is how it is typically done.

While noting that Army leaders have yet to make a decision, Hagenston said as Raven Claw 1 moves into operations, the question is if the Army will continue fielding EWPMT capability drop 1 or replace it with Raven Claw 1?

In addition, the Army isn’t projected to make a fielding decision on EWPMT capability drop 3 until 2020, while a similar capability in Raven Claw 1 is going to Europe next month.

“The appetite for long programs is over,” Hagenston said. “Headquarters Department of the Army, the users, everybody, the chief specifically, [have said] we can’t do that.

We’ve got to make sure that we take advantage of all opportunities to get capability out as soon as it’s ready and as quick as we can. An operational needs statement and leveraging Rapid Capabilities Office funding allows us those opportunities to do that and in this case it leverages a good solid base program to spring board off of.”

Hagenston said this approach is likely going to be the new normal across the board for the Army. “Being able to go quickly, try before you buy,” he said. With the U.S. Army Europe operational needs statement, capability, “if we find some challenges with it, wow we’ve tried it, we need to adjust it, before we field it to the big Army, we’ll adjust it so it buys down huge risk for the Army across the board.”

“Reduce cost, increase operational effectiveness against an immediate operational need,” Morrison said. “That’s the kind of processes we want to put in place.”
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[*] posted on 27-12-2017 at 03:08 PM

Army isn’t too flash on EW these days. They have some deployable jammers (though with a focus on IED protection)and have long had a rudimentary SIGINT capability and some DF capability within the various Signals Regiments. They have some EWSP systems on the aircraft and so on.

But there is no force level EW capability. There is no deployable broadband jamming capability. There is no deployable cyber capability, either offensive or defensive, there is no force or even Army level EW operational support capability, with reach back capability to develop threat libraries or research exploit development.

They would like to, but of course we would be considering a force actually designed for modern warfare then, rather than the force we have which still seems largely equipped to marginally refight the Vietnam war, slightly better.

In case people think I’m being a negative nelly of late, as of August this year, the Chief of Army acknowledged all those capability gaps...

In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 4-1-2018 at 12:36 PM

2018 Forecast: Can The Army Reinvent Itself?

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

on January 03, 2018 at 4:00 AM

WASHINGTON: Over the next few weeks, US Army leaders will make major decisions about the Futures Command they’re standing up this summer. The new organization will be the biggest departure in how the Army buys weapons in 40 years. Important as it is, however, it’s also just one of many changes the Army must make in 2018.

One of the unsung stories of 2017 was how the US Army made big down payments towards progress on multiple fronts: new weapons, new concepts, new organizations. But reinventing a huge institution takes years, and the post-Cold War Army in particular has tended to take two steps forward and 1.9 steps back. Under the irrepressibly energetic Gen. Mark Milley, who became chief of staff in 2015, the largest service seems to be overcoming inertia at last. The challenge is keeping the momentum.

Milley has made two big bets that should start to pay off in 2018. One is Army Futures Command, which will pull together talent from across the service’s vast bureaucracy into a single, streamlined organization to develop new weapons and new ways to use them. While the command won’t open its doors until this summer, the core is already in place: eight Cross Functional Teams, led by one- and two-star generals, each taking on a different aspect of Milley’s Big Six modernization priorities. That said, the chief of staff’s chief collaborator, Army undersecretary Ryan McCarthy, told Breaking Defense that the teams are still getting up to speed. They’ll start making their mark in earnest, he said, with the 2020 budget — the foundations for which are laid (you guessed it) in 2018.

Milley’s other big modernization move is an in-depth review of the service’s network programs, the electronic nervous system that binds the Army together from foxhole to headquarters.

Launched in 2017, the review already led him to curtail the service’s flagship WIN-T program (Warfighter Information Network – Tactical) for being too cumbersome, unreliable, and vulnerable for high-speed warfare against a high-tech foe. In 2018, the review faces the much harder task of coming up with a working alternative.

The current plan includes both a short-term push for off-the-shelf stopgaps this year and next — which is hard enough — and a long-term comprehensive solution for the entire Army — which is even harder. Imagine setting up a home wifi network, only for almost a million people scattered across the world, while the Russians try to hack and jam you.

To protect the network, and maybe mess with the adversary’s, the Army is investing heavily in cyber and electronic warfare. For the long-neglected electronic warriors in particular, Army cyber chief Maj. Gen. Patricia Frost said in December, “this is a tremendous year of delivery, because we’re going to deliver prototypes to the field,” building on off-the-shelf gear already urgently deployed to Europe. Said Frost: “We’re not going to wait six, ten years to build the perfect piece of kit.”

One big example: After at least a decade and a half of trying, and well behind other countries such as Russia and Israel, the US Army approved Active Protection Systems to shoot down incoming missiles that can penetrate existing armor. To get a brigade of M1 Abrams heavy tanks outfitted the Israeli-made Trophy APS by 2020, the Army needs to start fielding gear this year. Meanwhile, testing continues with smaller APS on lighter vehicles, the Bradley and the Stryker. The Army’s also exploring anti-aircraft variants of both these vehicles, as well as fielding upgunned Strykers to defeat light armored vehicles.

In addition to upgrades, the Army’s also building an all-new armored vehicle: the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) light tank, meant to accompany airborne troops and other light infantry where Strykers and Bradleys can’t. The formal Request For Proposals came out in November and the Army will choose a winner in early 2019. That means this year is crunch time for the competing design teams as they refine their prototypes to meet the exact requirements of the RFP. SAIC, for instance, said in October they’d offer a Singaporean chassis with a Belgian turret: This year they actually have to put the two together and make it work.

The Army is also the lead sponsor of the Future Vertical Lift program to replace existing helicopters with much faster, longer-ranged machines. FVL had a breakthrough in 2017: One competitor, Bell’s V-280 Valor, made its first flight (see video above). But Bell will only start flight testing in earnest this year — while the rival Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant, a more radical design, will have to prove it can fly at all.

All these new vehicles, like the new network electronics, are necessary for the Army’s alarming vision of future combat, in which armored and airborne forces must stay constantly on the move just to survive. After 16 years fighting savage but low-tech insurgents, Milley has decisively reoriented the Army towards sophisticated, high-tech nation-states. Above all, that means Russia, which he has clearly and consistently identified as the No. 1 threat. (At the same time, Milley’s also stood up two advisor brigades to preserve counterinsurgency skills). The Army’s concept for future combat, Multi-Domain Battle, first came out in late 2015, but it matured significantly in 2017: rolling out a full-length concept document, getting buy-in from the Air Force, and standing up an experimental unit to test tactics.

The thinkers behind Multi-Domain Battle, incidentally, will probably become part of the new Futures Command. (They’re currently under Training & Doctrine Command, TRADOC). The plan is to bridge old bureaucratic divides and bring together the Army’s futurists, its technologists, its acquisitions experts, and its veteran warriors. That kind of teamwork is what it will take to move beyond today’s significant but scattered successes to the comprehensive modernization that future warfare demands. 2018 is the year that starts — or doesn’t.
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[*] posted on 5-1-2018 at 06:54 PM

Army’s Basic Illusions Gone; Time For Futures Command

By Col. Richard Hough

on January 04, 2018 at 12:29 PM

This is the second op-ed we’ve run by serving Army officials about how and why the service should be restructured so it can build its next generation of weapons and do it effectively. The Army, not known for going public with its internal (sometimes religious) debates, appears to understand that after getting so much wrong since the end of the Cold War (start with Comanche and go through Future Combat Systems), it really needs to listen to a larger world. Dear Readers in Congress, industry, the Pentagon and in the wider public, this is your chance to help the Army get things right. All them what you think. Read on! The Editor.

American playwright Arthur Miller once observed that an era has reached its end “when its basic illusions are exhausted.”

Congress, the defense industry, academia, and the U.S. Army all believe the Pentagon must fundamentally change the culture and performance of its acquisition enterprise after decades of tweaks and inertia.

Since Vietnam, the most significant reform to the Defense Department, the United States Army and Army Acquisition Enterprise was the Goldwater-Nichols DOD Reorganization Act of 1986. It changed who controlled budgets, project management, research and development, and aspects of modernization. Since then, numerous institutional adaptations and reorganizations have been initiated, many of which have led to familiar conditions: cumbersome spans of control; complex communication and procedural (bureaucratic) structures; difficulty prioritizing competitive programs and budget requirements; decreased accountability and effectiveness; and, disconnects between futures and acquisition procurement strategies, to name a few.

For the Army those conditions materialized into “a lost decade of procurement” marked by, “reductions in modernization, procurement, and RDTE funding”; and a “wave of [OSD] requirements,” according to Lt. Gen. Mike Murray, Army Deputy Chief of Staff (G-8). While the present Army reorganization should address many of these concerns, a critical purpose of any new command, regardless of structure, is to obtain a central authority for translating futures and modernization activities into a smart acquisition strategy; activities that haven’t been under a single command since 1940.

With Futures Command

While the existing structure managed victory on global battlefields from Grenada to present operations, the U.S. Army has determined that long-delayed reforms in acquisitions require the most significant reorganization of modernization functions in 40 years. Because the overmatch our Army has enjoyed for the last 70 years is closing quickly across all domains of warfare, it is clearly understood that early successes are going to be essential for the new Army Futures Command.

While some may think this new command is a strategy of creating a new bureaucracy to address bureaucratic cultural concerns, the new command will be challenged to:

- Streamline the requirements process, which averages three to five years, and major weapons systems development, which averages 10 years. A major contributing factor for such lengthy delays is the current command structure requires dozens of flag officer board and committee hearings within multiple multi-star command to approve requirements (if one includes the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System).

- Overcome a risk-averse acquisition culture optimized for individual and organizational outcomes within stove-piped organizations, thus requiring synchronization at HQDA level.

- Provide a vision-to-victory or futures strategy that alleviates tensions between present requirements and future readiness.

- Improve integration of operational concepts into acquisition strategies, presently determined and developed by multiple disjointed multi-star commands. At present, there is no single point of contact (command) with ownership of futures to formulate consensus on a long-term procurement strategy within the United States Army.

- Overcome the stale reforms and existing R&D structure by leverage industries leadership of advanced technologies and modernization in order to decrease procurement and acquisition timelines, increase innovation, and, address cultural “contrast in approaches to research and development that differentiates defense firms from their commercial counterparts.”

- Improve and balance the research and development strategy; establish conditions for a “succeed-fast” and “fail-fast” strategy throughout the defense acquisition life cycle.

- Elevate the confidence of stakeholders, particularly Congress, in our ability to manage major Army defense acquisition programs.

- For the Army, recent “failures” have cost tax payers billions and are the most obvious reason why oversight and authorities is overly centralized (by Congress). Since 2011 alone, the Army has ended 20 programs, delayed 125 and restructured 124 others.

- and, ultimately, establish a wartime acquisition enterprise capable of rapid adaptability to threat capabilities today and in the future.

On this last point, recent acquisition enterprise efforts to synchronize and create a shared visualization stem from a current state assessment that “acquisition’s underlying problems are exacerbated during conflict, when warfighters are in harm’s way. Therefore, the natural tendency has been to work around the system rather than fix it,” according to a previous Army Futures Studies Group cohort. Reflecting on these truths, the Army has determined that now is the time to fix the system, as “wartime adaptation against a peer adversary will require capability generation to be exponentially faster than it was for recent operations”, according to Maj. Hassan Kamara of the Army Future Studies Group.

So the Army has started its most significant organizational redesign in four decades to meet futures and modernization challenges to do its part. Let’s look at how it got here.
A Short History of the Army’s Modernization and Futures Enterprise

Since the dawn of World War II, the Army has maintained a flexible organizational structure to meet significant overseas and continental commitments and challenges. Hundreds of congressional panels, committee hearings, and operational research projects have created new commands to address niche requirements but rarely resulted in the birth of a major command.

The Big Five

Of relevance to the present era, the first significant organizational overhaul was in 1940, when the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the United States Army was established.

The GHQ struggled to manage training, support, modernization, and ground combat functions. In 1942, these functions were separated when the War Department reorganized itself and assumed command and control over ground combat troops and formed Army Ground Forces (AGF) command which assumed responsibility for training troops.

At the end of the war Congressional and industrial committees and boards reformed the War Department and the Army.

Unfortunately, a mix of incremental and disruptive structural alterations were implemented which left the service with an uncoordinated command structure and in need of significant reorganization by 1955, when the Davies Committee formed the Continental Army Command (CONARC) which assumed command and control of ground forces and training functions.

Almost immediately, various panels recognized CONARCs structural challenges as the Cold War stressed the nation’s resources, but most recommendations went ignored throughout the remainder of the decade. By 1962, following the Hoelscher and Traub Congressional Committees, the Army was thoroughly reorganized. The Technical and Administrative Services; all support functions were centralized under Army Materiel Command; and the Combat Developments Command (CDC) were created under Continental Army Command (CONARC) to support modernization.

Within a decade CONARC’s span of control had become a significant concern and Gen. Creighton Abrams, Army Chief of Staff, initiated Operation STEADFAST under Lt. Gen. William DuPuy to fix it.

Operation STEADFAST led to the creation of Forces Command (FORSCOM) and Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), the latter assuming control of training centers, Army schools, and doctrine development and CONARC was abolished. Later that same year, TRADOC assumed the mission for modernization and CDC was deactivated. As a result of this restructuring, similar to today, modernization and research & development (R&D) activities were scattered among major commands but all other functions were represented by a major command.

While significant structural change has occurred since 1973, they have not fundamentally changed how TRADOC and AMC function.

Key challenges we’re dealing with now, like the construct, function, and institutional integration of Futures Command, which were factors in the failures of structural changes in the past, must be clearly understood. There is never a time in the Army where a need to repair something structural isn’t required.

Therefore, considering historical examples above, the question we must ask today is, are we in need of “incremental” or “disruptive” reform? If “disruptive” change is in the cards, the alignment of forces, sustainment, training, and combat developments (or modernization) functions within streamlined commands is one potential course of action. However, what the Army is ready for, what the specific content of the reform will be, and its tolerance levels for disruption while heavily engaged in current operations are yet to be determined. If history is any guide, this will be determined based on whether or not senior defense leaders perceive the current state as one in crisis or this is just an opportune time for reform.

It is clear that any new modernization command must demonstrate value to industry, academia, research and development communities within and external to the U.S. Army, but, even more so to the warfighters whose equipment readiness is one of four pillars of readiness.

Col. Richard Hough is a senior strategic fellow with the Army Future Studies Group (AFSG) as a Senior Strategic Study Fellow. The facts, findings and research conclusions outlined above are an extension of the hard work of the AFSG, previous cohorts, and several others. Any personal opinions, conclusions and recommendations expressed or implied above are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the AFSG or any entity of the U.S. government.
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[*] posted on 6-1-2018 at 06:01 PM

New Army secretary committed to designing fresh future readiness blueprint

By: Jen Judson   13 hours ago

Mark T. Esper, secretary of the Army, in his Pentagon office on Dec. 12, 2017. (Alan Lessig/Staff)

WASHINGTON — The new U.S. Army secretary, confirmed in mid-November, has spent his first days in office on the ground with troops both in Afghanistan and at the National Training Center in California examining the readiness of the force and how the deployed are faring in their mission. But he’s also turned his attention to laying some early groundwork for the Army’s new Futures Command focused on modernizing the service.

While readiness of the current force is Mark Esper’s top priority, making sure it is modernized and capable into the future is a close second. “Modernization is future readiness, and so this is my message to acquisition folks, too: You are critical to the future readiness of the Army, so we have to get it right,” he recalled telling those tasked with standing up the Futures Command, which is expected to reach initial operational capability this summer, during a recent visit.

The Army announced the new organization in October at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention in Washington along with its plan to prioritize modernization efforts in six areas: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality. Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon was chosen to spearhead a task force in charge of the formation of the command, and “cross-functional team” leaders were named late last year to tackle each priority.

Esper told Defense News in an exclusive Jan. 3 interview in his Pentagon office that while he has met with those shaping the command and provided his view on the importance of the effort, “I don’t want to give any guidance, I don’t want to utter a word that throws them all off from one direction because that is the risk there.”

Instead, he wants to wait to fully weigh in when the new task force comes to him with options in the February or March time frame.

Much is on the table from how the command will be organized to what that means for other commands such as Training and Doctrine Command or Army Materiel Command. “We have had conference calls with the major commands and everybody is on board and agrees that we need a different way of doing business again, getting back to that key outcome, which is giving the soldier what they need when they need it, and there is support across the board with regard to that,” Esper said.

“And look, there are going to be trade-offs and all this and the reporting lines may change to make sure we get the optimization,” he said, “but I think everybody recognizes that we have reached a point that we’ve got to just — it’s time to evolve from this industrial age system to a 21st-century-age system.”

While Esper is more focused on making sure the new command’s overarching architecture takes shape, he’s tasked the Army vice chief of staff and the Army undersecretary to take charge of recommendations coming from the cross-functional team leads.

Yet, Esper said he expected to see important decisions coming from the CFT leads in the coming months and admitted some leads have a heavier lift to figure out the right way forward.

The CFTs, he explained, are examining what programs make sense to keep within their portfolios and what programs should be discarded. But they also need to identify what might be missing, and if there is something, they will need to potentially initiate a new program within that portfolio, Esper added.

In some cases, like the Future Vertical Lift portfolio, it is easier to see the path forward. And the Army is already heading toward using flight demonstrators to help define requirements for a future vertical lift aircraft.

By building and flying demonstrator aircraft, it gives the opportunity for the service to fail early and fail cheaply, Esper noted, and to learn from mistakes and get to a higher level of technical readiness earlier in the program.

But for other portfolios within the new modernization command, more work has to be done, in part due to the nature of the technology involved.

“The network is hard, it’s really, really hard because it’s complex because those types of capabilities or the technology is really in the commercial sector more than the military sector, and it’s moving quickly and yet you can’t just take it from the civilian world and put in the military world because you have to make it secure, it has to be ruggedized and it has to be able to operate in certain environments, and so that is the challenge,” Esper said.

Making a tougher job for the CFT lead in charge of the network, the Army recently decided to curb the cornerstone capability of its tactical network, the Warfighting Information Network-Tactical, or WIN-T, system, in favor of other capabilities. The service said it needed to entirely reboot its tactical network to operate against emerging threats on the battlefield.

“I think with all of this, you do have to understand you have to get your requirements right, and I think for the network … the key, or part of the key going forward, has to be to understand the architecture and to map it out so we have the plan going forward,” Esper said. “It’s like building a house — you have to have a blueprint.”

Having a blueprint doesn’t necessarily mean deciding who will supply the fixtures or materials or what will be used, but it defines what is needed, he noted.

Esper said the Army plans to present a strategy on the network to Congress “soon” in response to the National Defense Authorization Act legislation requesting it.

As the CFTs work out blueprints, or solutions, to meeting modernization priorities, Esper also noted that he’d like to see the service, where possible, get away from the idea of filling capabilities with interim, gap-filler solutions that would be scrapped once a next-generation capability comes online.

“My philosophical approach to this is … let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the better,” he said, repeating a well-known statement from his confirmation testimony.

“To put some more meat on those bones, what I think about is let’s not think as much about interim capabilities. If we made the requirements so high, if we raised the bar so high that we think we need to have an interim, maybe we need to kind of lower that bill, those requirements, so it’s not perfect but it’s better than what we have now,” Esper said. “And then we build a system that we can scale, that we can modularize, that is kind of open architecture that we can kind of build upon.”
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[*] posted on 11-1-2018 at 01:54 PM

Army to hold tactical network industry day

By: Mark Pomerleau   8 hours ago

Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division drive a vehicle equipped with Warfighter Information Network-Tactical Increment 2 during the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation 13.1 on Nov. 9, 2012. (Katie Cain/Network Integration Evaluation)

The Army is holding its first industry day focused on its tactical network as part of a new Army-wide construct to help the service modernize and improve its systems procurement process.

The Army announced the establishment of a new Modernization Command with cross-functional teams that align with the service’s six modernization priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires, next-generation combat vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air-and-missile defense, and soldier lethality.

The industry day, held Feb. 6-7 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, with the Army’s Network Cross Functional Team — lead by Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher — and the Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical will seek to inform industry of Army tactical network modernization needs and priorities, an Army release stated.

This industry day follows the major network review in which the Army decided to scrap the continued delivery of its tactical network, called the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, because it was not up to snuff as compared with current threats, namely that of Russian jamming capabilities.

The Army is also looking at streamlining and revamping command post technology for integrating systems into a common interface.

“This industry forum will be the first of several topically focused CFT and program office technical exchange sessions to be held over the course of 2018,” said Paul Mehney, director of public communications for PEO-C3T.

The February industry day will provide industry insights as to specific threats the Army faces, and thus identify needed solutions and the Army’s priorities as they apply to tactical network modernization.

The first day of the event will focus on outlining the current network architecture and technical challenge areas such as emerging and future tactical wireless technologies and the state-of-mission command applications and infrastructure. The second day will shed light on focus areas for cross-functional teams in terms of tactical network challenges, to include a classified tactical radio electromagnetic signature session.
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[*] posted on 11-1-2018 at 04:05 PM

Army Boosts Air Defense, Key To Joint & Allied Fight

By Robbin Laird and Ed Timperlake

on January 10, 2018 at 4:01 AM

THAAD missile launch

The shift from low-intensity land wars and the concepts of operations associated with them to getting ready for higher tempo and higher intensity operations are key to the transformation of U.S. and allied forces. The challenge facing the liberal democracies was well put in a recent presentation by a senior Finnish defense official: “The timeline for early warning is shorter; the threshold for the use of force is lower.”

The US Army provides a key combat enabler with Air Defense Artillery (ADA) now engaged in global military operations. ADA plays an increasingly significant role within joint and coalition forces shaping America’s 21st Century offensive-defensive enterprise way of war. Modern ADA has seen the growing importance of Patriot and THAAD within the Joint Force, but to reshape the Army’s ground maneuver force, ADA must be built more broadly into its transformation going forward.

Recently, we had a chance to talk with one of the US Army’s leading ADA architects, Brig. Gen. Randall McIntire. He is commandant of the ADA School based at Fort Sill, Okla. and in this capacity both trains for the current fight and prepares for success in combat.

As the Army prepares its future with the return to a priority on high tempo and high-intensity operations, ADA plays a key role. McIntire identified a number of key priorities for the current Chief of Staff of the US Army and among them is clearly a growing role for defensive capabilities.

Without effective defense in the maneuver force, you’re not going to be able to survive. Air Defense is a key enabler for the maneuver force, he says: “Survivability of the maneuver force requires an organic air & missile defense as well as extended defense for the integrated battlefield. It is not an afterthought; it is a core requirement of mission success.”

McIntire emphasized that integrated fires are the key to cracking adversary efforts to shape anti-access and area denial of operational areas. At Fort Sill, both offensive fires and defensive fires are co-located. Base closures in the mid-2000s forced co-location of offense and defense and that has provided a foundation for creating the kind of integration crucial to develop integrated fires. Put another way, a template has been put together – integrating offensive and defensive fires – which lays down the foundation for incorporating the technologies entering the force.

The new generation of ADA warriors are comfortable working in the integrated battlespace with other services and allies as well. In fact, ADA can provide key strategic deterrence, as well as reassurance for our partners and allies, without requiring a heavy “boots on the ground” force. Air defense is a key enabler for “setting the theater” for all levels and phases of military operations. It is important, however, to understand that ADA forces on the ground in an allied situation must be integrated with the air and naval power of the United States to provide for the kind of protection which land warriors on the ground deserve.

But to get where ADA needs to go and to achieve its full promise of providing core capabilities within an integrated offensive-defensive force, acquisition approaches must change in some fundamental ways. Most importantly, rather than buying whole systems, and being dependent on prime contractors for the complete integration of those systems, the Army is looking towards a commodity approach.

What the Army is looking to do is be able to manage interactions among C2, sensors, and missiles and to improve whichever of these “commodities” needs to be plus-ed up. It is also crucial for the Army to be able to integrate the defense systems in the maneuver force, as well as to focus on what is necessary for the evolving integrated battlespace. It is not simply about after market integration; it is about building in integration from the ground up as new systems are added as well.

This means that sorting out integration of Patriot and THAAD is necessary for the current fight and for establishing a way ahead for future integration as well. Rather than looking at a very broad network integrated across at battle space, it makes sense to look at discrete force packages integrated around the effects that they can create. Clearly, it is important that Patriot and THAAD can work together but also provide tools to be integrated with air and naval systems to support a particular force insertion mission as well.

By the Army focusing on its ability to integrate with the services C2 or missiles or sensors as the case needs to be, it will be in a position to shape integrated force packages to support the evolving needs of the integrated battlespace. In other words, one can look back at the last 20 years in which Patriot and THAAD have emerged as important systems and see these as foundations for moving forward to a more integrated approach.

“The way I look at the situation,” McIntire says, “is similar to two boxers sparring and working together to defeat the adversary. One boxer is throwing the offensive punches; the second boxer is providing for the defense of the force. The two boxers working together provide for the striking defense force to defeat the adversary, thus allowing the maneuver force the ability to get into the close fight.”

A key ally which is aligning itself with the new approach is Poland. Poland is approaching its Article III NATO defense efforts by shaping a core missile defense capability, both medium and short range which allows it to deal with the 21st century Russian threat of missile strikes as a core part of their operational offensive force It is about building a capability which can defend Poland but link into the defense in depth which is necessary in the region.

The Poles are focusing on both building mid-range and short-range missile defense. With regard to their mid-range missile defense, they are building in capabilities for networking back to their own forces and to those of their neighbors and allies. The system selected by the Poles to fill the mid-range missile defense system is a Patriot variant. Very noteworthy is the command and control aspect of the approach they are taking.

They are not pursuing a classic prime-contractor-provides-all approach, but are opting for an open architecture system to allow them to both have open-ended modernization and also work the linkages to NATO neighbors and allies.

The Poles are acquiring the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS).

Rather than buying a proprietary C2 system, the Poles are leaning forward to procure an open architecture C2 system. They won’t have siloed systems that require new or upgraded C2 with each new radar or interceptor.

It is about shaping a defense in-depth capability across Poland, German, the Baltics, Finland and the Nordics. Without shaping common C2 capabilities, defense in depth will be more limited than siloed defense capabilities will allow for.

In short, the role of ADA within multi-domain warfare is of growing impact and significance. And to play an expanded role integrated C2 is a key enabler for shaping the way ahead. We have heard a lot about anti-access and area denial, but the US and the allies are not sitting on their hands. They are building key capabilities such as fifth-generation force enablers and expanded ADA capabilities and integration. And with the coming of laser weapons, a recalibrated and integrated ADA force will have increasing impact on dealing with the threat.
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[*] posted on 13-1-2018 at 07:21 PM

JMRC plans to incorporate SHORAD into exercises

By Staff Sgt. David OversonJanuary 11, 2018

U.S. Army Capt. Richard Tran, an air defense officer, and an observer coach trainer with the Warhog Team, Joint Multinational Readiness Center, trains with an FIM-92 Stinger Man-Portable, Air Defense Missile System at the Hohenfels Training Area, Hohenfels, Germany, Jan. 10, 2018. The training was in preparation of future rotational exercises where the OCT's will start evaluating two-man Stinger teams for the first time in approximately 15 years. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. David Overson) (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. David Overson)

HOHENFELS, Germany (January 10, 2018) -- For the first time in nearly 15 years, 7th Army Training Command's Joint Multinational Readiness Center will soon begin observing, coaching and training Soldiers using the FIM-92 Stinger Man-Portable, Air Defense Missile System during future exercises.

In preparation for this, approximately 50 observer coach trainers (OCT's) attended their own training on the Stinger system at the Hohenfels Training Area, Jan. 10.

Instructors from the Fires Center of Excellence in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, traveled to Germany on a whirlwind excursion to offer their expertise with the Stinger system. Lt. Col. Aaron Felter, the director of training and doctrine for the Air Defense Integrated Office; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen Ford and Sgt. 1st Class Edward Goldman, both instructors with the 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade; provided hands-on instructions for the system that is now being reintroduced to brigade combat teams across the U.S. Army.

JMRC was the first combat training center to receive this Stinger training for OCT's.

"Based on the Chief of Staff of the Army's initiative, getting Europe stood up with short-range air defense (SHORAD) Stinger teams is his first priority inside the initiative of getting Stinger teams back online," said Felter. "We're going to go to the National Training Center and the Joint Readiness Training Center, however, the immediate focus is Europe and getting Europe ready to fight tonight and defend Europe against any adversary."

In the past 15 years, the Army slowly drifted away from the FIM-92 Stinger, which is an infrared homing surface-to-air missile that has been around since the late 1970's, as it focused on counter insurgency tactics. However, now it is one of the Army's main focal points, as pointed out by Felter.

"Bringing back the Stinger addresses a self-identified gap that the Army created and has recognized," added Felter. "We're getting back to the basics and providing short range air defense to maneuver units."

One of three air defense officers at JMRC, Capt. Richard Tran, who is the Headquarters and Headquarters Company OCT for the Warhog Team, is prepared to share his knowledge with the rest of the OCT teams at JMRC who could not attend the training.

"I have a much better picture of how to go about observing, coaching and training Soldiers," said Tran. "I'm better equipped after this class. Initially some of these Stinger teams who rotate through JMRC won't be completely up to speed with the Stingers. They're riflemen who cross trained to operate the system, and it will be our job to help guide them along this learning process."

Though the Avenger and other variants may be seen and used from time to time, JMRC will primarily observe, coach and train the individual two-man Stinger teams using the shoulder fired configuration.

While in the field at JMRC, the Stinger teams will be evaluated on the mission-essential tasks of site placement, determining air avenues of approach, defending a critical location, deconflicting engagements of enemy aircraft based on sector of fire, and proper operation of the FIM-92 Stinger.

"In parallel efforts, the goal is to get 62 Stinger teams into the operational force as soon as possible," added Felter. "In concert with that, additional SHORAD battalions are being stood up, which will result in aligning one SHORAD battalion with each division."

Some of the Soldiers who have received this training include personnel from 173rd Airborne Brigade and 2nd Cavalry Regiment who recently took a five-week Stinger course with the 7ATC at Grafenwoehr, Germany. Soon, many of those same Soldiers and others will be observed, coached and trained during their participation in future exercises at JMRC.
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[*] posted on 14-1-2018 at 11:11 AM

That is what I find unusual about the way our Army structures it’s air defence capability. Partly it is equipment based, but we make such a deal about maneuvering forces as our style of warfare in our doctrine and then rely on a single unit equipped with a point defence only, physically fixed VSHORAD air defence capability that has little to no ability to protect a mobile battle group...

In a low speed post-merge manoeuvring fight, with a high off-boresight 4th generation missile and Helmet Mounted Display, the Super Hornet will be a very difficult opponent for any current Russian fighter, even the Su-27/30
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[*] posted on 14-1-2018 at 04:49 PM

Probably because we don't want to spend any more than the absolute minimum on a token capability.

Otherwise we would have to accept that we might have to fight a near peer under skies where we don't have air-supremacy, and we all know which opponent that is, don't we?

Publically stating such heresy is not good for one's career in Russell Offices.

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[*] posted on 15-1-2018 at 08:58 PM

US Army to send its first new SFAB advisory unit to Afghanistan in mid-2018

Daniel Wasserbly, Washington, DC - Jane's Defence Weekly

14 January 2018

The US Army's Nett Warrior display is a chest-mounted commercial Android smartphone in a ruggedised wrapper with in-house software. New SFAB units are expected to take them to Afghanistan. Source: US Army/CERDEC

In mid-2018 the US Army plans to deploy the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) to provide training and advising to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), the army announced on 11 January.

The SFAB is a newly formalised brigade concept, based on the sort of ad hoc advisory and assistance units the army has used in previous counter-insurgency missions, such as in Iraq.

Two SFAB’s have now been activated out of a planned six. The 1st SFAB that will deploy to Afghanistan is based at Fort Benning in Georgia. A second is based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Five are expected to reside in the regular army and one in the Army National Guard, Jane’s understands.

The army said the SFABs are to receive “the best, most advanced military equipment available”.

Major Matthew Fontaine, a spokesperson for the 1st SFAB, told Jane’s on 12 January that his unit “is fielding and using advanced equipment across our operations including communications systems, tactical medical care, and more”.

Specifically, this includes the Harris AN/PRC 152A Falcon III Wideband Networking Handheld Radio; the Nett Warrior, a dismounted situational awareness system that connects an Android-type smartphone to a radio for data sharing; and new the Sig Sauer M17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) sidearm.

SFABs “consist of approximately 800 senior and non-commissioned officers who have proven expertise in training and advising foreign security forces”, the army said.

Commanders “will have previously commanded and led similar [brigade combat team] BCT units at the same echelon” and enlisted advisors will rank sergeant or higher, it added. Unit training includes courses at the Military Advisor Training Academy for language, foreign weapons, and a ‘joint fires observer’ course.

(305 of 433 words)
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[*] posted on 16-1-2018 at 05:32 PM

US army orders 228 155mil SP

More heavy armor: Army orders 228 155-millimeter self-propelled artillery in $227.9 million deal

Just what we need, cheap and less manpower. One battery for each Brigade thank you.

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