Thursday, February 11, 2016

Naval War College Participates in Cutlass Express Africa for First Time

By Daniel L. Kuester, U.S. Naval War College Public Affairs

PORT VICTORIA, Seychelles (NNS) -- U.S. Naval War College (NWC) faculty participated in exercise Cutlass Express 2016, developing an exercise for the event designed to help African nations and stakeholders cooperate in their maritime environment.

U.S. 6th Fleet has operated Cutlass Express for five years and the exercise is designed to improve regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, and information-sharing practices to increase capabilities of East African and Indian Ocean nations to counter sea-based illicit activity.

NWC faculty took part in the senior leader engagement portion of the exercise that involved high-level decision makers and leaders from the 17 nations, as well as several international organizations.

At the conclusion of the exercise, senior leaders took part in a NWC war game designed to work through how affected countries would deal with the various threats.

"Cutlass Express has always been a maritime exercise that was to promote tactical and operational cooperation among the navies," said Jeff Landsman, associate professor of war gaming at NWC. "This is the first time where they had Naval War College come in and do a war game. We had the countries go through situations that had elements of terrorism, poaching, criminal elements and corruption, and we'll see if the answers they came up with hold water. With so many nations bordering the area, cooperation is important to the region's stability."

Landsman said the war game stressed the ability of African nations to cooperate.

"One of the things we are trying to do is to regionalize or to allow national maritime operational centers to start to coordinate more," he said. "And it is not just ships and helicopters, but it now involves directing those ships across various nations."

Rear Adm. Thomas Reck, vice commander of U.S. 6th Fleet, stressed that the expertise brought by NWC was a welcome addition to Cutlass Express.

"By facilitating strategic thinking in a collaborative and academic setting linked to Cutlass Express, this seminar provided by the Naval War College helps facilitate strategy development as well as build further links of cooperation within the region," he said.

The war game was also designed to help participants broaden their problem-solving skills in a maritime environment and ability to develop a course of action that supports strategic priorities and objectives.

Larry McCabe, associate professor of national security affairs at NWC, said the task of translating strategy into capabilities is difficult in some regions that have not traditionally done that.

"That connection between how strategies impact capabilities isn't always there in many countries around the world," McCabe said.

"A major goal of Cutlass Express 16, as an ongoing exercise, is to increase interoperability amongst maritime security stakeholders in the East Africa region," said Capt. Scott Ruston, the exercise director for Cutlass Express 2016. "By bringing senior leaders together, we unite a strategic-level interoperability with tactical-level operations at sea. This makes Cutlass Express a more comprehensive exercise."

Cutlass Express is one of four regional Express Series exercises facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet that focus on increasing interagency capabilities in deterring counter-piracy, counter-illicit trafficking, and other maritime threats in the waters off East Africa.

"Cutlass Express is an exercise that works with partner nations near the Horn of Africa, and some interests outside the region, to build and maintain maritime regional coordination that the countries could not achieve as individually," added Landsman.

Countries participating in Cutlass Express 2016 include Australia, Canada, Comoros, Djibouti, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as representatives from the Eastern Africa Standby Force, EU Naval Force, International Maritime Organization, and Combined Task Force 150.

Seychelles Lt. Col. Phillp Barbe said the exercise has been enlightening.

"Being an infantryman, I've found learning how the navy operates is incredibly enriching experience," he said.

CNO Visits McCampbell in India

By Ensign Soon Kwon, USS McCampbell Public Affairs

VISAKHAPATNAM, India (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson visited Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) during the India's International Fleet Review (IFR) 2016.

While aboard McCampbell, CNO had lunch with junior officers and discussed various topics. Some of the discussions were related to his recently released "A Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority," a document that addresses how the Navy will adapt to changes in the security environment and continue to fulfill its mission.

CNO had an all-hands call with McCampbell Sailors where he answered several questions before his departure.

McCampbell arrived in India, Feb. 4, to participate in IFR 2016, which is an international military exercise hosted by the Indian Navy to help enhance mutual trust and confidence with navies around the world. Through Feb. 8, more than 50 countries participated in the event.

Since Feb. 4, Sailors assigned to the McCampbell and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) participated in various events of the IFR 2016 such as the opening ceremony, fleet review, and fly-by.

Antietam and McCampbell are forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and are currently on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Carter Encouraged by Developing NATO Capabilities

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, February 11, 2016 — During meetings in Brussels today, NATO defense ministers discussed deterring and defending against high-end threats emanating from Russia and the threat that the Islamic State poses to southern allies, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

Defense leaders from the 28-nation alliance have gathered at its headquarters for two days of talks on NATO’s continued adaptation in the face of growing security challenges.

Carter said he briefed ministers on the details of the U.S. $3.4 billion European Reassurance Initiative that is in the fiscal year 2017 defense budget request.

“Among other things, it invests in forces and capabilities to operationalize our strong and balanced strategic approach to Russia,” he said during a news conference.

If approved, the funds will support more U.S. rotational forces in Europe, Carter said, “including heel-to-toe rotations that maintain the persistent presence of an armored brigade combat team throughout the year.”

Funding More Training, Exercises

The proposal would fund more training and exercises with allies and base pre-positioned equipment to outfit an additional armored brigade combat team, a division headquarters, a field artillery brigade and air defense units. It would also fund infrastructure improvements to airfields, training centers and ranges throughout Europe.

“It will expand military capability and allow for the quick deployment to the region,” Carter said.

All of these efforts will allow the United States to rapidly form a highly capable combined arms force that could respond theater-wide, if necessary, the defense secretary noted.

Carter told his counterparts that the U.S. defense budget also funds capabilities to deter high-end adversaries.

Readiness Plan Progress

The defense secretary said he is pleased to see progress by allies on the NATO Readiness Action Plan. He specifically praised Turkey and Denmark, who are providing forces that will make the alliance’s very high readiness task force operationally capable.

Still more must happen, Carter said. “NATO must further strengthen its posture to deter and, if necessary, defeat any aggressor across the spectrum of threats,” he said.

“Whether it comes to hybrid, cyber or information operations, Russian actions speak volumes,” the defense secretary said. “They make clear why all allies must continue to invest in and modernize their capabilities -- not only to respond to current challenges, but to stay ahead of potential threats.”

Flexibility and agility will be vital to NATO in the future. “We must demonstrate to potential foes that, if they start a war, we have the capability to win on our terms,” Carter said. “Because for a force to deter conflict, it must show it can dominate a conflict. This is a responsibility we all share.”

The allies also explored ways the alliance can make contributions to the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Later today, Carter will meet with NATO and partner nations that are part of the counter-ISIL coalition to discuss ways to accelerate progress against the terrorist group.