Military News

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Army, Air Force Leaders Warn Congress Against Further Cuts



By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2015 – With growing threats to both the homeland and global stability, now is not the time to reduce capability and capacity, Army and Air Force leaders told Congress yesterday.

Demand for Army capabilities and presence continues to increase across combatant commands in response to emerging contingencies, Army Secretary John M. McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told the Senate Armed Services Committee during their annual testimony on the president’s defense budget request.

Any further stretch on the force, Odierno said, would force the Army to deploy troops who were not properly trained, something McHugh described as his greatest fear and one that he said keeps him and Odierno awake at night.

Dangers to National, Global Security

In their submitted joint testimony, both leaders emphasized that given the changes in the global security situation that were unforeseen just a year ago, national and global security and the lives of soldiers will be threatened if Army end strength, which is dropping, goes below 980,000 soldiers.

“Sectarian violence exploited by state and nonstate actors, irredentism and terrorist activities are driving conflict around the world,” McHugh and Odierno reported. The Army must have the right size and shape for the world it faces, they added, and if capabilities are not regenerated, “we will fight with the Army we have, but there will be consequences.”

The Army’s budget was cut by $6 billion this year; the service’s base budget request for fiscal year 2016 is just over $126 billion. “We now face a [fiscal 2016] defense spending cap insufficient for operating in an unstable global security environment that presents the Army with a number of urgent, complex and challenging missions,” the Army leaders said. Among those missions, they added, are increased deployments to bolster allies against Russian threats in Eastern Europe, as well as the support mission in Iraq to help defeat terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Sequestration’s Effect on the Air Force

At the same hearing, Air Force leaders made similar arguments, testifying that the expected re-imposition of sequester-related spending cuts in October would leave an already stretched force -- the smallest it has ever been -- unable to carry out half of all the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions it now conducts. This, they explained, would significantly reduce the ability of commanders to collect battlefield intelligence. The fiscal 2016 Air Force budget request stands at $122 billion.

In jointly written testimony, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee Lames and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III told the panel that aging aircraft and stressed fleets have turned capacity into “something of an illusion.”

“The numbers are there, barely, but the capability to command global influence is tenuous,” they said. “What was, in earlier times, a blanket of airpower covering the globe has been worn to mere threads.”

A return to sequestration-level funding will devastate readiness and modernization, the Air Force leaders said.

Missile Budget Cuts Threaten Defense Posture, Officials Say


By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2015 – The Oct. 1 return to sequestration-level funding now required by budget law would significantly lower an already austere budget for missile defense, making the nation less secure, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy told Congress today.

Brian P. McKeon testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the fiscal year 2016 missile defense budget, joined by Navy Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command; Navy Vice Adm. James Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency; and Army Lt. Gen. David L. Mann, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense.

President Barack Obama’s budget requests $9.6 billion for missile defense in fiscal year 2016, McKeon said, $8.1 billion of which is for the Missile Defense Agency to develop and deploy missile defense capabilities to protect the homeland and strengthen regional missile defenses.

“Sequestration levels would be significantly lower, and as [Defense Secretary Ash Carter] has said, would make the nation less secure,” McKeon told the House panel.

Even without sequestration, he added, austere times translate to not having enough money to fund every desirable program, and officials must prioritize investments accordingly.

Ballistic Missile Threats

McKeon detailed some of the ballistic missile threats and trends, including defending the United States against limited long-range ballistic missile attacks, strengthening defense against regional missile threats, fostering defense cooperation with partners, and examining how to advance missile defense technology base in a cost-effective manner.

“The U.S. homeland is currently protected against potential [intercontinental ballistic missile] attacks from states like North Korea and Iran,” he said. To ensure the nation stays ahead of the threat, he added, officials continue to strengthen homeland defense posture and invest in technologies to better enable addressing emerging threats in the next decade.

“This requires continued improvement to the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System,” McKeon said, “including enhanced performance of the ground-based interceptors and deployment of new sensors.” The program remains on track, he said, to deploy 14 additional interceptors in Alaska by the end of 2017.

“These interceptors,” McKeon said, “along with the 30 that are currently deployed, will provide protection against both North Korean and Iranian ICBM threats as they emerge and evolve. We’ve also deployed a second forward-based missile defense radar to Japan, which is operating today thanks to the hard work of MDA and the Japanese government. This radar strengthens both our homeland and regional defenses.”

Commitment to Modernization

McKeon said this year’s budget request also reflects the Defense Department’s commitment to modernizing the GMD system.

“It will move us toward a more reliable and effective defense of the United States,” he said. “It includes funding for the development of a new radar that, when deployed in Alaska, will provide persistent sensor coverage and improve discrimination capabilities against North Korea.”

“It also continues funding for the redesign of the kill vehicle for the [ground-based interceptors],” McKeon said. “As directed by the Congress, the MDA is also conducting environmental impact studies at four sites in the eastern part of the United States that could host an additional GBI missile field.”

These studies will be completed next year, he said, noting the cost of building an additional missile defense site in the United States is very high.

“Given that the ICBM threat from Iran has not yet emerged,” McKeon said, “and the need to fix the current GBI kill vehicles, the highest priority is for the protection of the homeland -- our improving reliability and effectiveness of the GBI and improving the GMD sensor architecture.”

McKeon said the current Ground-based Midcourse Defense System provides coverage of the entire United States from potential North Korean and Iranian ICBMs, and no decision has yet been made to deploy an additional field in the United States.

Sequestration Poses Most Dangerous Threat

During his testimony, Gortney said that as he assesses threats to the homeland, ballistic missile defense sits in the middle of it as a critical mission set.

“As I look as the threats – the most likely and the most dangerous [that are] getting ready to confront us -- I think it’s sequestration and the impacts on my ability across all of my mission sets, but particularly … to defend the homeland,” the admiral said

Sequestration is the quickest way to hollow out a force, he added, noting that when the cuts hit the services, leaders have to take the funding shortfall out of readiness.

This will delay capability, Gortney said, using the Missile Defense Agency as an example of the impact on readiness.

Syring, the Missile Defense Agency director, doesn’t have a readiness account that he can go to, Gortney said.

“He has to go into the New Start program, which is going to delay the long-range discriminating radar -- the improved kill vehicle that we need to outpace this proliferating threat,” he said.

Cope Tiger 15 takes off

by Capt. George Tobias
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs


3/13/2015 - KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand -  -- The roar of jets filled the sky March 9 over central Thailand during Exercise Cope Tiger 15.

With a focus on multinational interoperability and regional partnerships, aviation and ground units from the United States, the Kingdom of Thailand and the Republic of Singapore are participating in the annual multilateral aerial exercise.

Cope Tiger 15 is aimed at increasing readiness, cooperation and interoperability among security forces, contributing to maritime security, counterterrorism, search and rescue and humanitarian disaster relief efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.

Using a sports analogy to describe the training, U.S. Air Force Exercise Director Col. Paul Johnson said, "You do not walk out to a game without practicing. You have to practice a lot, and that is essentially what we are doing here."

Johnson explained with exercises like Cope Tiger, which allows the three air forces to practice together and understand how they work, it allows the air forces, when called upon, to handle operations like humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, to hit the ground running and "operate very efficiently and very quickly."

As the first U.S. multilateral air exercise in Southeast Asia, the annual Cope Tiger exercise demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the theater and to addressing regional security challenges and ensuring freedom of the seas through multilateral collaboration.

"The U.S. and Thailand have a long relationship," said Royal Thai air force Exercise Director Group Captain Chanon Mungthanya.

He further stressed the importance of the realistic multilateral training of Cope Tiger, so "we understand what we have, what the U.S. has and what the Republic of Singapore has," when called upon for real world operations or to provide HA/DR support."  

Approximately 390 U.S. personnel are participating in the exercise, with approximately 1,000 service members from Thailand and Singapore. The multilateral exercise involves a combined total of 84 aircraft and 38 air defense assets from the three contributing countries.

Personnel, Readiness Leader Shares Defining Career Milestones



By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2015 – Helping service members and their families as an Army lawyer prepared Stephanie Barna well for her people-driven personnel and readiness position in the Defense Department.

Barna, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for readiness and force management, spoke with DoD News as part of Women’s History Month to share how her Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps experience led to her DoD responsibilities for service members, civilians, families and survivors.

A ‘People Business’

Describing readiness and force management as a “people business,” Barna said she and her staff ensure service members, civilian employees, their families and survivors are cared for.

Her responsibilities, she said, include readiness of the force, helping veterans smoothly transition from military to civilian life, quality of life programs, family advocacy, military spouse employment initiatives, diversity and equal opportunity management, and total force planning and requirements for service members, civilians and contractors.

Barna also has oversight for the DoD Education Activity, the Defense Commissary Agency and both armed forces retirement homes.

Barna said the large size of her portfolio is partly because her job is centered on people. “And whenever people are concerned, it’s both incredibly challenging and fulfilling,” she added.

Army Opened Doors

Barna’s story began when she entered the Army on an ROTC scholarship as a young lawyer.

“[My first job] doing legal assistance was most fulfilling,” she said. “It was my first exposure to soldiers and their families and trying to help them with personal legal issues. It was a great way to get to know soldiers, from the most junior grade to senior officers. Everyone has a need for an attorney at some time.”

And legal counsel for those in uniform is about military readiness as much as legal matters, Barna pointed out.

The military does what it needs to do to ensure its service members are capable of performing to the highest level of their ambition and potential, she noted, compared to “having to deal with issues that can be distractors from the military mission.”

Not only did being an Army lawyer teach Barna to think about personnel and readiness issues, she said, she also saw how military families live, and what issues and concerns the military had on the readiness front.

Barna’s legal career evolved over 14 years on active duty in numerous arenas. She has served as trial counsel, prosecutor and special assistant U.S. attorney, and also worked in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps administrative law division.

Jumpmaster: A New Perspective

But it was her two-year attorney position with Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that opened her eyes to the importance of leadership, Barna said. During that assignment, she said, she was struck by the soldiers’ enhanced commitment to the mission, irrespective of gender, background, race or faith. Barna translated this mission focus to her role as a jumpmaster.

“I wasn’t airborne qualified until I went to Special Forces, and it’s a rite of passage,” she said. After completing airborne school, she said, her next step was to learn to help other people jump, and she was the only woman in her jumpmaster class.

Barna said that was her first operational leadership role, and that it called for a lot of detail and focus. “It was an incredible responsibility,” she said. As a leader and jumpmaster, Barna noted, she relied on a team of people to achieve each mission. Leadership is needed to focus people around a shared mission and vision, she added.

Knowing her mentors had faith in her abilities, she said, she came away from her special operations stint feeling “incredibly confident” in her abilities. “It was a great opportunity for growth,” she said.

Reservists Garnered Appreciation

Following her active duty career, Barna became a member of the career Senior Executive Service, charged with providing legal advice to the secretary of the Army. Throughout, she continued to serve as an Army reservist, and she retired as a colonel. As a reservist, she said, she realized how integral a role the military component serves. It gave her insight into reservists “who are both committed to serving their nation and being personally ready to do their job when the nation calls,” she said.

As a DoD personnel and readiness leader, Barna said, she reflects on how the Army prepared her for that position by helping her to understand that it takes a team of like-minded people to perform a mission, as well as hard work, persistence and mission focus.

“By going from the legal field to the policy and management aspects of DoD,” she said, “I can’t imagine a better way to have been prepared for the job I have today.”