Military News

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dunford Shares Thoughts on Maintaining U.S. Military’s Competitive Advantage


By Jim Garamone, Defense.gov

ARLINGTON, Va. -- t is a dangerous and unpredictable time, and the United States must reverse any erosion in its military capabilities and capacities, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the Military Reporters and Editors conference here Oct. 26.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford is confident the U.S. military can protect the homeland and fulfill its alliance commitments today, but he must also look at the long-term competitive advantage and that causes concern.

He said the competitive advantage the U.S. military had a decade ago has eroded. “This is why our focus is very much on making sure we get the right balance between today’s capabilities and tomorrow’s capabilities so we can maintain that competitive advantage,” Dunford said.

Strategic Alliances Provide Strength

The greatest advantage the United States has – the center of gravity, he said – is the system of alliances and partners America maintains around the world.

“That is what I would describe as our strategic source of strength,” he said.

This network is at the heart of the U.S. defense and security strategy, Dunford said. “We really revalidated, I think, what our threat assessors have known for many years, is that that network of allies and partners is truly unique to the United States of America and it is truly something that makes us different,” the general said.

A related aspect is the U.S. ability to project and maintain power “when and where necessary to advance our national interests,” Dunford said.

“We have had a competitive advantage on being able to go virtually any place in the world,” he said, “and deliver the men and women and materiel and equipment, and put it together in that capability and be able to accomplish the mission.”

This is what is at the heart of great power competition, the general said. “When Russia and China look at us, I think they also recognize that it is our network of allies and partners that makes us strong,” he said.

Challenges Posed by Russia, China

Broadly, Russia is doing what it can to undermine the North Atlantic Alliance and China is doing what it can to separate the United States from its Pacific allies. Strategically, Russia and China are working to sow doubt about the United States’ commitment to allies. Operationally, these two countries are developing capabilities to counter the U.S. advantages. These are the seeds to the anti-access/area denial capabilities the countries are developing. “I prefer to look at this problem less as them defending against us and more as what we need to do to assure our ability to project power where necessary to advance our interests,” Dunford said.

These are real threats and include maritime capabilities, offensive cyber capabilities, electromagnetic spectrum, anti-space capabilities and modernization of the nuclear enterprise and strike capabilities. These capabilities are aimed at hitting areas of vulnerability in the American military or in striking at the seams between the warfighting domains.

“In order for us to be successful as the U.S. military, we’ve got to be able to project power to an area … and then once we’re there we’ve got to be able to freely maneuver across all domains … sea, air, land, space, and cyberspace,” the chairman said.

This requires a more flexible strategy, he said. During the Cold War, the existential threat to the United States emanated from the Soviet Union and strategy concentrated on that. Twenty years ago, this was different. The National Security Strategy of 1998 didn’t address nations threatening the U.S. homeland.

“To the extent that we talked about terrorism in 1998, we talked about the possible linkage between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction,” Dunford said. “For the most part, what we talked about were regional challenges that could be addressed regionally with coherent action within a region, not transregional challenges.”

Different Threats

Transregional threats are a fact of life today and must be addressed, the general said. “What I’m suggesting to you, is in addition to the competitive advantage having eroded, the character of war has fundamentally changed in my regard in two ways,” he said. “Number one, I believe any conflict …  is going to be transregional – meaning, it’s going to cut across multiple geographic areas, and in our case, multiple combatant commanders.”

Another characteristic of the character of war today is speed and speed of change, he said. “If you’re uncomfortable with change, you’re going to be very uncomfortable being involved in information technology today,” the general said. “And if you’re uncomfortable with change, you’re going to be uncomfortable with the profession of arms today because of the pace of change. It’s virtually every aspect of our profession is changing at a rate that far exceeds any other time in my career.”

He noted that when he entered the military in 1977, the tactics he used with his first platoon would have been familiar to veterans of World War II or the Korean War. The equipment and tactics really hadn’t changed much in 40 years.

But take a lieutenant from 2000 and put that person in a platoon “and there’s virtually nothing in that organization that hasn’t changed in the past 16 or 17 years,” Dunford said. “This has profound impacts on our equipment, our training, the education of our people.”

This leads, he said, to the necessity of global integration. “When we think about the employment of the U.S. military, number one we’ve got to be informed by the fact that we have great power competition and we’re going to have to address that globally,” he said.

The Russian challenge is not isolated to the plains of Europe. It is a global one, he said.

“China is a global challenge” as well, Dunford added.

Global Context

American plans have historically zeroed-in on a specific geographic area as a contingency, the general said. “Our development of plans is more about the process of planning and developing a common understanding and having the flexibility to deal with the problem as it arises than it is with a predictable tool that assumes things will unfold a certain way in a contingency,” he said. “So we’ve had to change our planning from a focus on a narrow geographic area to the development of global campaign plans that actually look at these problem sets in a global context. When we think about contingency planning, we have to think about contingencies that might unfold in a global context.”

This has profound implications for resource allocation, Dunford said. Forces are a limited resource and must be parceled out with the global environment in mind. “The way we prioritize and allocate forces has kind of changed from a bottom-up to a top-down process as a result of focusing on the strategy with an inventory that is not what it was relative to the challenges we faced back in the 1990s,” he said.

In the past, the defense secretary’s means of establishing priorities came through total obligation authority. The secretary would assign a portion of the budget to each one of the service departments and the services would develop capabilities informed by general standards of interoperability. At the time, this meant the American military had sufficient forces that would allow it to maintain a competitive advantage.

“Because the competitive advantage has eroded, in my judgment, the secretary is going to have to be much more focused on the guidance he gives,” Dunford said. “He not only has to prioritize the allocation of resources as we execute the budget, but he’s got to five, seven or 10 years before that, make sure that the collective efforts of the services to develop the capabilities that we need tomorrow are going to result in us having a competitive advantage on the backside.”
This fundamentally changes the force development/force design process, he said. “This is not changing because of a change in personalities. It’s not changing because different leaders are in place,” the general said. “It’s changing because the character of war has changed, the strategic environment … within which we are operating today and expect to be operating in five to seven years from now, will change. Frankly, were we to not change the fundamental processes that we have in place inside the department, we would not be able to maintain a competitive advantage five or seven years from now.”

Friday, October 19, 2018

Former U.S. Navy Commander Sentenced to Prison for Bribery Conspiracy with Foreign Defense Contractor in Massive U.S. Navy Corruption and Fraud Case


A former U.S. Navy Commander was sentenced today to 30 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, a $10,000 fine and $21,625.60 in restitution by the Honorable Janis L. Sammartino of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.  The case relates to a wide-ranging corruption and fraud investigation involving foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis and his Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman for the Southern District of California, made the announcement.

Earlier this year, Amundson, 51, of Ramsey, Minnesota pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, admitting that he conspired with Francis and others to receive things of value in exchange for taking official acts for the benefit of GDMA and violating his official duties to the U.S. Navy.  Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges.

According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, from May 2005 to May 2013, Amundson served as the officer responsible for coordinating the U.S. Navy’s joint military exercises with its foreign navy counterparts.  As part of his duties, Amundson was responsible for building and maintaining cooperative relationships with the U.S. Navy’s foreign navy exercise partners.  Amundson admitted that from September 2012 through October 2013, Francis paid for dinner, drinks, transportation, other entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes for Amundson and other U.S. Navy officers, in return for sensitive information, such as U.S. Navy ship schedules, and for taking other actions in favor of GDMA and in violation of his official duties.   Amundson further admitted that after being interviewed by federal criminal investigators in October 2013, he deleted e-mail correspondence with Francis.

So far, 33 defendants have been charged and 21 have pleaded guilty, many admitting to accepting things of value from Francis in exchange for helping the contractor win and maintain contracts and overbill the Navy by millions of dollars.

The investigation is being conducted by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Defense Contract Audit Agency.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California.             

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Stoltenberg, Scaparrotti Talk Deterrence Aboard Aircraft Carrier USS Truman


By Jim Garamone, Defense.gov

WASHINGTON -- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, made a statement about deterrence just by their presence aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the North Sea during an Oct. 12 news conference.

The carrier is participating in Exercise Trident Juncture 18, the largest NATO exercise since the 1980s. The exercise will be held Oct. 25-Nov. 7.

“From these decks, the USS Truman projects power to keep us all safe,” Stoltenberg said on the hangar deck of the massive ship. “It delivers deterrence every day. It helps keep our sea lines of communication open and it has been critical in the fight against terrorism, against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.”

Trident Juncture showcases the defensive might of the 29-nation alliance. More than 45,000 service members, 60 ships and thousands of vehicles will participate in the exercise in and around Norway.

Testing NATO’s Collective Response Capability

Trident Juncture will test NATO’s collective response to an armed attack against one ally. “To keep our nations safe in an unpredictable world, we need to keep our alliance strong,” Stoltenberg said. “We do need to have the training and we need to train together in all domains; at sea, in air, on land and in cyberspace.”

The exercise will test NATO’s high-readiness forces, and send a clear message of alliance.

The exercise will test NATO nation’s ability to work together in a time of crisis, Scaparrotti said. “It will be an important test and, as you’ve seen today, a demonstration of our collective capabilities,” he said. “With all 29 nations, as well as Finland and Sweden participating across air, land and sea, … this Trident Juncture exercise is a prime example of NATO allies and partners working together. Trident Juncture 18 will demonstrate that, in an unpredictable world, NATO remains an anchor of stability.”

The general stressed that the alliance is changing and adapting to new threats not only from Russia but across the spectrum. Trident Juncture itself includes the cyber domain, space and activities short of war. NATO nations must train together to handle these new multinational, multi-domain threats.

“The challenge of doing that across 29 nations makes this complex,” he said. “I was just aboard a Danish flagship connected with ships from the United States, Portugal, Norway, sharing a common picture, working on common operating procedures, tactics and procedures, and doing quite well. So again, we’re ready and we’re getting stronger every day.”

Both Stoltenberg and Scaparrotti noted that the ship’s namesake, President Harry S. Truman, was in office when the Washington Treaty that established NATO was signed in 1949.