Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MC-130Js visit Kunsan

by Senior Airman Divine Cox
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/17/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea-- -- Members of the 353rd Special Operations Group from Kadena Air Base, Japan, visited Kunsan Air Base in support of Exercise Gryphon Knife March 3.

During Gryphon Knife, Airmen stationed out of Kadena AB came to the Republic of Korea to support the objectives and learn the mission of Special Operations Command Korea and how the new MC-130J Commando will fit into operating with ROK partners.

In December 2014, the first MC-130J arrived at the 353rd Special Operations Group at Kadena, replacing the retiring MC-130P Combat Shadows assigned to the 17th Special Operations Squadron.

The MC-130J Commando II multi-mission combat transport/special operations tanker, assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), delivers increased combat performance to the warfighter with its more powerful engines and unique features.

"The future for us looks pretty bright," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Tanner, 353rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron MC-130J crew chief. "We have a lot of contingency exercises and plans in the future that will go a lot smoother using this new aircraft."

The Commando II primarily flies missions at night to reduce probability of visual acquisition and intercept by airborne threats. Its secondary mission includes troop drops and airdrops.

"This is a very unique mission," said Lt. Col. Matthew Bartlett, 17th Special Operations Squadron director of operations. "Primarily since our aircraft is new, and our crew is new to operating both in the pacific as well as operating in Korea, we wanted to familiarize ourselves with operating in the Korean peninsula as well as familiarize ourselves with our customers we supported for this mission."

The MC-130J crew conducted specialized training while on mission here to the ROK.

"One of our missions was to conduct night vision low levels," Bartlett said. "The mountainous terrain in Korea made that pretty challenging, so you have to do quite a bit of planning for that type of mission."

The Airmen from the 353rd Special Operations Group are really excited about getting to fly and familiarize themselves with the new MC-130J Commando II.

"The increased range and reliability of this aircraft is amazing," said Master Sgt. Justin Solis, 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron production superintendent. "Not only does the MC-130 make our job easier, but every Airman involved can operate more efficiently."

DoD to Boost Modernization of Weapons, Capabilities

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2015 – This year, the Defense Department will move aggressively to reverse the trend of chronic underinvestment in weapons and capabilities, the deputy defense secretary said here today.

Bob Work spoke this morning about defense modernization and the department’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget before an audience attending the McAleese/Credit Suisse Defense Programs Conference.

The bottom line, he said in prepared remarks, is that “because of budget uncertainty and restrictions imposed by Congress, and because of our unrelenting focus on the readiness of forward deployed forces, we're chronically underinvesting in new weapons and capabilities.”

Work added, “That should give all of us pause because our technological dominance is no longer assured.”

Modernization = Technological Superiority

The U.S. military’s technological superiority is directly related to its modernization accounts, the deputy secretary said, so this year the department is moving to redress the long-deferred modernization to stay ahead of competitors and potential aggressor nations.

Work said the White House has helped by approving about $21 billion in added requirements over the Future Years Defense Program.

“This came with added funding, which has allowed us to make targeted investments in space control and launch capabilities, missile defense, cyber, and advanced sensors, communications, and munitions -– all of which are critical for power projection in contested environments,” he said.

The White House also added funding to help the department modernize its aging nuclear deterrent force, Work said.

Supporting Ongoing Operations

The department’s fiscal 2016 base budget request is $534 billion, or $36 billion above the FY16 sequestration caps, he said, adding that it’s “only the first year of a five-year Future Years Defense Program. When considering fiscal years 2016 through 2020, our planned program is approximately $154 billion over the sequestration caps.”

The department also is asking for $51 billion in overseas contingency operations funding, Work said, “to support our campaign against the extremist [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant], ongoing operations in Afghanistan, and other operations in the Central Command area of responsibility.”

The global demand for U.S. forces remains high, particularly for deployable headquarters units, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, missile defense, and naval and aerospace forces. The global operating tempo also remains high, he added.

Together, the deputy secretary said, these requests provide funding needed to recover readiness over the next several years, invest in long-deferred recapitalization and modernization, and meet global demands placed on the military by the National Security Strategy.

The Ragged Edge

“The leaders of this department believe firmly that any significant reduction in funding below what is in the president's budget, or a broad denial of the reform initiatives that we have proposed to Congress, would mean the risks to our defense strategy would become unmanageable,” the deputy secretary said.

“Quite frankly,” he added, “we’re at the ragged edge of what is manageable.”

Adding to the pressure on defense systems, potential competitors are developing capabilities that challenge the U.S. military in all domains that put space assets and the command and control system at risk, Work said.

“We see several nations developing capabilities that threaten to erode our long-assured technological overmatch and our ability to project power,” he added.

These include new and advanced anti-ship and anti-air missiles, and new counter-space, cyber, electronic warfare, undersea and air attack capabilities, Work said.

Erosion of Technical Superiority

In some areas, he added, “we see levels of new weapons development that we haven’t seen since the mid-1980s, near the peak of the Soviet Union’s surge in Cold War defense spending.”

The department, Work said, is addressing the erosion of U.S. technological superiority through the Defense Innovation Initiative, a broad effort to improve business operations and find innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.

“The DII’s leading focus is to identify, develop and field breakthrough technologies and systems,” he said, “and to develop innovative operational concepts to help us use our current capabilities in new and creative ways.”

The ultimate aim is to help craft a third offset strategy, he added.

Third Offset Strategy

After World War II the United States used nuclear weapons development to offset Soviet numerical and geographic advantage in the central front, and again changed the game in the 1970s and 1980s with networked precision strike, stealth and surveillance for conventional forces, Work explained.

Now, he said, “we will seek to identify new technologies and concepts that will keep the operational advantage firmly in the hands of America’s conventional forces, today and in the future.”

Central to the effort is a new Long-Range Research & Development Planning Program, the deputy secretary said.

The LRRDP was created to identify weapons and systems in the force that can be used in more innovative ways, promising technologies that can be pulled forward and long-range science and technology investments that can be made now for a future payoff.

Invitation to the Table

Technologies that might be associated with a new offset strategy are being driven by the commercial sector, he said.

These include robotics; autonomous operating, guidance and control systems; visualization; biotechnology; miniaturization; advanced computing and big data; and additive manufacturing like 3-D printing.

“The third offset strategy is an open invitation for everyone to come to the table … to creatively disrupt our defense ecosystem. Because we'll either creatively disrupt ourselves or be disrupted by someone else,” Work said.

Game-changing New Technologies

Funding dedicated to the effort includes the department’s annual $12 billion in science and technology accounts, and the FY 2016 budget request creates a reserve account to resource projects expected to emerge from the DII, he said.

“The FY 2016 budget submission also invests in some fantastic, potentially game-changing new technologies that we can more quickly get into the force,” Work added, “as well as longer-range research efforts.”

Over the Future Years Defense Program, for example, the department is investing $149 million in unmanned undersea vehicles, $77 million in advanced sea mines, $473 million in high-speed strike weapons, $706 million in rail gun technology, and $239 million in high-energy lasers.

And, he said, a new Aerospace Innovation Initiative will bring people together to develop a wide range of advanced aeronautical capabilities to maintain U.S. military air dominance.

Solving Operational Challenges

Work said the department’s innovation must be “broad-based and rooted in realistic war gaming –- a big priority of mine -– more experimentation, and new concept and leadership development to enable our people to adapt to situations we can’t yet imagine.”

The third offset strategy is looking to solve specific operational challenges, the deputy secretary said, using the electromagnetic spectrum as an example.

“Electronic Warfare is often regarded as a combat enabler, but more and more it is at the actual forefront of any conflict,” he said. “To ensure we remain ahead in this increasingly important space, today I’m signing out a memo that establishes an Electronic Warfare, or EW, Programs Council.”

Electronic Warfare Programs Council

The senior-level oversight council will have the lead in establishing and coordinating DoD’s EW policy and will be co-chaired by Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., he said.

Compared to the platforms that carry EW suites, the deputy secretary added, it is a relatively small investment but has the potential for a very high payoff.

“Our potential competitors seek to contest the EW space, an area where we retain a decided lead,” Work said. “But that lead is tenuous, and we believe that there has been insufficient focus on EW across the department.”

Destruction of WWII-era Chemical Stockpile Set to Begin

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2015 – The process of destroying the chemical stockpile at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot is set to begin today in Colorado, defense officials said.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall granted final approval to begin destroying 2,611 tons of World War II-era mustard agent stored near Pueblo.

“After months of preparation, testing and scrutiny by oversight and regulatory agencies, the Pueblo team is ready to play its part in meeting our nation’s commitment to the 100 percent destruction of the U.S. chemical weapons stockpile,” Conrad F. Whyne said. Whyne is program executive officer for Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, the responsible government agency.

Explosive Destruction System

An Army process called the Explosive Destruction System, located on the depot near the Pueblo Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant was chosen to destroy an estimated 1,300 chemical munitions that can’t easily be processed by the main plant’s automated equipment.

The stockpile include munitions that have leaked in the past and are now packed in sealed containers, plus some from the pilot plant that have physically deteriorated and may not be easily processed through the main plant, officials said.

The problematic munitions account for about 0.2 percent of the total Pueblo chemical weapons stockpile.

The EDS works by using explosive cutting charges to access the mustard agent inside a munition. Neutralization chemicals are then added and heated to destroy the mustard.

Blast, Vapor and Fragments

Detonating the cutting charge also eliminates the explosive components of the munition. The blast, vapor and fragments from the process are contained inside a heavy, sealed stainless steel vessel, defense officials said.

Before the vessel is reopened, laboratory sampling of liquid and air from inside the vessel confirms the chemical agent’s destruction.

EDS has a documented history of safe, successful operations at sites across the United States, including the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado. There, it was used to destroy several recovered non-stockpile chemical munitions.

The Army designed the EDS with Sandia National Laboratories to treat chemical warfare materiel on site in a safe, environmentally sound way.

This week’s destruction operations will begin with Department of Transportation bottles that contain chemical agent drained from munitions over the years to assess the condition of the stockpile.

The bottles are made of seamless stainless steel and are about 25 inches high with a 7-inch diameter. They were developed under federal guidelines to transport hazardous chemicals.

Safe, Smooth Destruction Operations

The Defense Department’s Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program selected the Bechtel Pueblo Team to design, build, operate and close a plant to destroy the chemical weapons stockpile stored at the Pueblo Chemical Depot.

Bechtel, with headquarters in San Francisco, is a global engineering, project management and construction company.

The full-scale plant, built by the Bechtel Pueblo Team, is undergoing systemization, which encompasses all the planning, technical work, training and testing activities required to ensure that destruction operations run safely and smoothly.

Afterward, the plant will destroy the remaining stockpile of chemical weapons located at Pueblo, Colorado, beginning in late 2015 or early 2016, officials said

Winnefeld Gives Blunt Assessment of Budget Options

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2015 – The U.S. defense budget is strategy driven and the nation will be at greater risk if the budget is cut or if sequestration is triggered this year, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Speaking at the McAleese/Credit Suisse Defense Programs Conference held at the Newseum, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. said the president’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal allows the DoD to defend America’s national interests.

The budget request is $35 billion more than envisioned under sequestration, a law requiring major spending cuts that will take effect in October unless Congress changes it. Even at that number, the department will be at the edge of acceptable risk, the admiral said.

Winnefeld delineated the strategic necessities of the United States and their priority. “Such a list enables a more meaningful discussion about strategy because it’s a powerful way to support the recommendations we are expected to make referenc[ing] allocations of scarce resources, assessing risk and the use of force,” he said. “It’s especially valuable because it is prioritized, which some people in this town don’t like, because that unlocks the door to very difficult decisions.”

The difference between threats and the ability to mitigate them is called risk, Winnefeld said. “Clearly we want to keep risk lowest in the most highly ranked security interests,” he said. “It’s a simple concept, but it’s very difficult to apply in the daily press of daily crises.”

Balancing Priorities

The first national security interest is the survival of the United States. This means the DoD must maintain a safe, reliable and effective strategic deterrent.

The second priority is the prevention of catastrophic attacks on the U.S. “This implies protection from a major terrorist attack or a rogue state’s nuclear weapon or a cyberattack on our infrastructure,” the vice chairman explained.

Winnefeld said the third priority is protection of the global economic system. This means providing security for the physical flow of goods and services and the virtual flow of information. “We rank it highly because it is the driver of American prosperity and a key foundation of American power,” he said.

Fourth is maintaining secure, confident and reliable partners and allies. The United States has the most extensive system of allies and partners in history, the admiral said, and they count on American leadership and support.

“Our power and prosperity are deeply linked with theirs,” he added. “In protecting our allies against potential mischief, we’ve always counted on the overmatch on capability and capacity to offset the challenges we have in initiative and distance. We aren’t going to start a fight and we have a long way to go to get to one.

Winnefeld noted that the overmatch is now narrowing, as potential adversaries invest in new capabilities and additional capacities.

The next interest is looking after the security of American citizens abroad, he said.

Finally, “we believe we have a role in protecting international boundaries,” he said. “In a rules-based international order, these are fundamental to who we are as a nation. A great deal of our moral power is derived from our continued support and adherence to these values, even if some of our competitors don’t seem to do the same.”

Aligning Resources With Important Interests

These priorities maintain the overall goal of maintaining American leadership and freedom of action across the globe, he said.

The problem comes with the budget. “We can’t buy all the capability, capacity and readiness we need to perfectly protect all of these interests all at once,” the admiral said.

The Defense Department is facing a trillion dollar budget cut over 10 years, and leaders can turn to this list to make choices to ensure resource decisions are aligned with the most important security interests, Winnefeld said.

“Under the president’s budget submission we can do all of this under manageable risk –- but we’re on the edge,” he said. “Anything less than that –- and I’m not talking about sequester, I’m talking about anything less than our budget submission – and we will have to make tough choices.”

Defense leaders will not compromise on protecting the homeland or conducting counterterror operations, he said.

“But our forward presence is either going to have to be at the same level in fewer regions, or at a lower level in the same regions,” the admiral said.

“If you look at a chart depicting almost any force element we own alongside our daily demand and our surge demand, you will see gaps are beginning to open between supply and demand,” he said. “The military ends of our strategy … are going to have to change if we go below the president’s budget submission and even more if we go to sequestration.”