Military News

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Transcom Stands Ready To Respond, But Future Is Concerning, Commander Says



By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2018 — U.S. Transportation Command stands ready to deliver on behalf of the nation's objectives anywhere at any time, Transcom’s commander told lawmakers on Capitol Hill today during a joint convening of the House Armed Services Committee’s panels on readiness and seapower and projection forces.

Yet, as Air Force Gen. Darren W. McDew noted he has testified before, he remains concerned about the future.

“As we refocus our efforts on great power competition, we're faced with adversaries who want to challenge our democratic values and undermine our security and the existing balance of power,” McDew said. “In this environment, the logistics enterprise must always be ready.”

The resources necessary to transport and sustain America's military must keep pace, he said, and the Defense Department’s ability to deploy a decisive force is foundational to the National Defense Strategy.

“The size and lethality of the force is of little consequence if we can't get it where it needs to go when we want it there,” McDew added.

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act directed a mobility-requirements study and found the existing inventory of mobility assets is sufficient to support the requirements of combatant commanders, he said.

“This study will [also] consider the current strategic context and use updated assumptions [such as] multidomain contested environments [and] attrition of mobility assets, and the outcomes of the study will provide valuable insight to ensure we are able to respond to tomorrow's needs, as well,” the general added.

Weight Of Nation Needed

“But U.S. Transcom can’t get there alone,” McDew said. “We need the weight of the nation with us and behind us to make sure that our diplomats -- when they go to the negotiating table -- are negotiating from a position of strength.”

The cyber domain is of great concern, he said. “Today our adversaries don't have to stop us with bombs and bullets. All they have to do is slow us down with ones and zeros. That's the challenge, I would say, of our time,” he added.

“We have got to get smarter -- as an industry and as a nation, not only about how we protect ourselves, but how we protect each other,” McDew said. “Cyber defense is more than just security. It's about … mission assurance. It's a national issue. From safeguarding our intellectual property to guaranteeing the integrity of our elections, we've all got to be together,”

And in addition to threats from the cyber domain, challenges in the physical domain also exist, he said.

Personnel Concerns

“For the past three decades, reserve component assets have been used to sustain day-to-day operational requirements, a function for which they weren't properly resourced or structured,” the general said. “Meeting the challenges of the future may require adjustments to the mobilization authorities, or force mix to ensure we have access to vital capacity currently resident in our reserve and guard,” he noted.

Transcom’s ability to move patients from the battlefield is also facing challenges, he said, noting that although the command operates the most robust patient movement system in the world, it lacks sufficient capacity to surge for large-scale conflicts with mass casualties.

“The combination of insufficient personnel, equipment, infrastructure and capacity for patient movement significantly decreases the likelihood we'll see the same high-level survival rates [to which] we've all become accustomed,” McDew testified. “We continue to work with the services, the Joint Staff and the national health enterprise to address these challenges.”

If the United States is able to maintain its go-to-war capacity, “we must ask ourselves as a nation: Who are we and who do we want to be?” he noted. “The U.S. flag fleet has steadily declined since World War II from a little over 1,200 ships to 81 remaining today. That degradation correlates to a decline in qualified merchant mariners. They are the backbone of our industry. If we continue to lose this capacity, I'm concerned what it will mean for how we project our force in the future.”

Dunford Presents Legion of Merit to NATO Military Committee Chairman



By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va., March 8, 2018 — Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented the Legion of Merit to Czech Gen. Petr Pavel, chairman of the NATO Military Committee, during a ceremony here today.

More than 250 service members participated in the ceremony at Whipple Field. The clear, cold day gave great views over Washington and next door Arlington National Cemetery. The Legion of Merit is the highest award American leaders can bestow on foreigners.

Pavel has served as chairman of the Military Committee since June 2015 and his time as chairman coincided with NATO reemphasizing deterrence in the face of a growing Russian threat. The alliance also had troops in contact in Afghanistan and joined the effort to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Leading Through Challenges

His first mission was to shepherd the decisions made at the 2014 Wales Summit through the Military Committee to ensure the implementation of those decisions was on course. This included the alliance readiness action plan to ensure the allies were prepared for the challenges of collective defense in the 21st century.

Pavel’s time also marked NATO’s growing cooperation with the European Union. Cyber operations, increasing reliance on space assets, discussions about needed military capabilities are just a few of the issues Pavel steered through the committee.

He is the first chairman to come from a nation that was part of the Warsaw Pact. Before serving in Brussels, he was the chief of the general staff of the Czech army.

“General Pavel superbly navigated NATO’s Military Committee, including national military representatives and national chiefs of defense, through the most challenging period in the alliance’s recent history,” the Legion of Merit citation states.

Pavel will relinquish the job of chairman to British Air Marshal Stuart Peach on June 29.

NATO Military Chairman Seeks Constructive Contacts With Russia



By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2018 — The chairman of NATO’s Military Committee would like to see the NATO-Russia Council reinvigorated to address issues pending between the two entities.

Gen. Petr Pavel of the Czech army said Russia must show through actions, not just words, that it is ready for such a development. The general spoke to the Defense Writers Group this morning at George Washington University here.

Pavel said he believes there is a chance for improved relations between the alliance and Russia. “I am always a cautious optimist,” he told the writers. “I believe that there is a chance to have better relations between NATO and Russia, but what we need is more willingness on the Russian side that would assure the alliance that Russia has serious interest in making this relationship better.”

Russia must take steps, in other words, to prove it is serious, and the general said he will not ignore past bad behavior. “It is difficult to sit at the table knowing there are occupied territories in Georgia, that there is direct Russian support to separatists in [Ukraine’s Dombass region], that there is the Crimea that was occupied illegally,” he said. “There are a number of not only concrete measures, but also narratives that are creating tensions. We need to have more common will to engage in a constructive dialogue.”

The best place to start would be in Ukraine, Pavel said. “Until there is a solution in Ukraine, there will not be an improvement in relations,” he added. One step in the right direction would be for Russia to allow United Nations or Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe missions into the contested region. “That would be a clear sign of a constructive approach,” the general said. “At that point, we can start thinking about other steps to improve coordination and dialogue.”

Russian Military Doctrine

There are no hard-and-fast lines between peace and war in Russian military doctrine -- it is a spectrum, the general said, adding that the Russian government views its actions against neighbors such as Georgia and Ukraine as the low end of continuous conflict.

What NATO calls “hybrid war” or some observers call the “Gerasimov Doctrine” – after Gen. Pavel Gerasimov, Russia’s chief of defense – is the use of information operations, troop movements, propaganda, economic moves and diplomacy to gain Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objectives. It is a “way to influence development in a number of countries,” Pavel said. “This is a new reality we have to learn from and adjust to. Russia is using opportunities provided by new technologies and some gaps in international norms to its benefit.”

Pavel said he would like to see some sort of agreement to define the rules of behavior in cyberspace. “It’s a big question today how we will address it, how we will create a similar regulatory framework as in the conventional or nuclear -- the same framework has to be developed in cyber,” he said. “We will have to work on this issue not only with Russia, but with other big actors like China.”

The NATO-Russia Council had three meeting last year, and another will be scheduled after Russia’s March 18 elections, Pavel said. Scheduling a meeting is a problem, he noted, as Russia has neither an ambassador nor a senior military representative to NATO.

Military-to-military contacts are important, Pavel said, but Moscow cancelled a scheduled meeting between U.S. Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, and Gerasimov. Pavel said he would like to continue his and Scaparrotti’s military-to-military contacts with the Russian military leader. “Both these channels are important and can bring a substantial level of detail to the NATO-Russia Council,” he added.

Moving the Dialogue Forward

“We need probably more impulse to move the dialogue forward,” Pavel said. “Up to now, the standard agenda is quite vague. We need to get more into substance to move ahead, including the issues that we call hybrid, which is a quite broad area. Cyber and other issues must be addressed.”

The standard agenda for the council is limited to Ukraine, risk reduction and transparency, the general told the writers. “I believe we will have to go a little bit more into the depth, because without addressing concrete measures, concrete numbers, concrete actions, it is difficult to proceed,” he said. “I think we need the will on both sides to move ahead with the agenda to set up progress.”

Putin’s March 1 speech was not so much on the state of the country, but an address on the state of the military, Pavel said. The speech “also illustrates the need for extensive dialogue with Russia on disarmament, especially in the nuclear arena,” he added.

“All these developments may turn dangerous if they are not handled carefully from the very beginning,” he said.

Increased Concerns

The Russian military buildup and modernization leads to increased concerns and fear in the population in the Baltic republics, Pavel said. “That’s why NATO created the enhanced forward presence with rotational battle groups to demonstrate NATO resolve to act if necessary,” he said. “We are doing the best to keep the level of this military presence below being threatening to Russia -- we didn’t want to bring any competition to bring more forces to the region.

“We wanted to demonstrate at a very proportionate level that most of NATO allies are present and the commitment to Article 5 is solid, he continued. “All NATO allies will act if there is a violation of the NATO treaty.”

Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which established the NATO alliance, addresses the principle of collective defense, with an attack against one ally considered as an attack on all allies.