Military News

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hagel Announces New Defense Innovation, Reform Efforts

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2014 – In a keynote speech tonight at the 2014 Reagan National Defense Forum, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced a plan to harness the brightest minds and cutting-edge technology to change the way the Department of Defense innovates and operates.

On the second day of a five-day trip nationwide to see some of the critical training the force receives to maintain readiness, Hagel addressed members of Congress, DoD officials, military leaders, and members of the defense industry during the annual forum held in Simi Valley, California.

Along with the new innovation initiative, the secretary also announced a project to reform the defense enterprise, preparing it to deal with dwindling budgets in an uncertain future.

DoD Experiencing a Time of Transition

“The Department of Defense is undergoing a defining time of transition,” Hagel said. “We [face] a reshaping of our enterprise by a fiscal environment plagued by … budget uncertainty and a large decline in resources, and by an historic realignment of interests and influences around the world.”

As these dynamics unfold, he added, the U.S. military is engaged in crises and security challenges around the world -– degrading the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, helping to stop the spread of Ebola virus disease, and reinforcing NATO allies.

“Few would have predicted these missions a year ago,” the secretary said, adding that DoD is responsible for addressing a range of contingencies and crises.

New, Old Threats, Challenges

“We face the rise of new technologies, national powers and non-state actors,” as well as “sophisticated, deadly and often asymmetric emerging threats ranging from cyberattacks to transnational criminal networks, [and] persistent, volatile threats we have faced for years,” Hagel said.

The nation’s long-term security, he added, depends on whether the department can address today’s crises while preparing for tomorrow’s threats.

Hagel described the department’s two most-important investments as bolstering the United States’ unrivaled capacity for innovation and reforming the defense enterprise to ensure that the military foundation is reliable, agile, accountable and worthy of the men and women who serve.

While the United States and its allies spent more than a decade at war, he said, countries like Russia and China have heavily invested in military modernization programs to blunt the U.S. military’s technological edge, fielding advanced aircraft, submarines and longer-range and more accurate missiles, and developing new anti-ship and air-to-air missiles, and counter-space, cyber, electronic warfare, undersea and air-attack capabilities.

New Defense Innovation Initiative

“Today I am announcing a new Defense Innovation Initiative,” Hagel told the audience, describing the effort as an ambitious, departmentwide effort to identify and invest in innovative ways to sustain and advance America’s military dominance for the 21st century.

“Continued fiscal pressure will likely limit our military’s ability to respond to long-term challenges … so to overcome challenges to our military superiority we must change the way we innovate, operate and do business,” the secretary explained.

The innovation initiative, he said, will ensure that U.S. power-projection capabilities continue to sustain a competitive advantage over the coming decades.

Identifying, Developing Cutting-edge Technologies

As part of the initiative, Hagel said, a new Long-Range Research and Development Planning Program will help identify, develop and field breakthroughs from the most cutting-edge technologies and systems, especially in robotics, autonomous systems, miniaturization, big data and advanced manufacturing, including 3-D printing.

“The program will look toward the next decade and beyond,” he said, “[but] in the near-term it will invite some of the brightest minds from inside and outside government to … assess the technologies and systems DoD [should] develop over the next three to five years and beyond.”

The innovation initiative will explore and develop new operational concepts, including new approaches to warfighting, and balancing DoD’s investments between platforms and payloads, Hagel said.

People Are DoD’s Premier Asset

New approaches to war-gaming and professional military education already are in development, the secretary added, “and [the initiative] will focus on the department’s most-important asset -- people -- by pursuing time-honored leadership development practices and emerging opportunities to reimagine how we develop managers and leaders.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work will guide the innovation initiative’s development and lead a new Advanced Capability and Deterrence Panel to drive it forward, Hagel said.

“The panel will integrate DoD’s senior leadership across the entire enterprise -- its policy and intelligence communities, the armed services, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and research, development and acquisition authorities,” he said.

Hagel said he expects the panel to propose changes to the way DoD diagnoses and plans for challenges to the military’s competitive edge, and to face a new challenge head-on -- the fact that many breakthrough technologies are no longer in the domain of DoD development pipelines or traditional defense contractors.

Seeking Private-sector Proposals

“We all know that DoD no longer has exclusive access to the most cutting-edge technology or the ability to spur or control the development of new technologies the way we once did,” the defense secretary said. “So we will actively seek proposals from the private sector, including firms and academic institutions outside DoD’s traditional orbit.”

The Defense Innovation Initiative will shape the department’s programs, plans and budgets, Hagel said, adding that as the initiative matures over time he expects its impact on the defense budget to scale up as well.

“As the world in which we operate changes, we must change too,” the defense secretary said, adding that he has ordered full reviews of the department’s business and management systems.

“The first reviews are underway now, starting with the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” Hagel said. “DoD must embrace better business practices that are core to any modern enterprise, private or public.”

Upgrade Business, Information Technology Systems

The department will upgrade business and information technology systems and processes, striking the right balance between civil service and contractor support and avoiding duplication of support functions in OSD and the services, he said, adding that after years of postponement and delay the department is making progress in moving toward greater financial accountability.

Hagel said the department has been making hard choices and mustering the flexibility required by new geopolitical and fiscal realities.

“But to succeed,” he said, “we need the support and partnership of Congress, especially at a time when demands on our military are surging and our resources are shrinking and our ability to manage our institution is being more and more limited.”

The continuation of sequestration could impose nearly $1 trillion in cuts to the defense budget over 10 years, the defense secretary said, in a department that has already begun taking deep cuts over the last few years.

Sequestration ‘Would Devastate’ Military Readiness

Sequestration, he said, “would devastate our military readiness and threaten our ability to execute our nation’s defense strategy. Congress has an opportunity this year to help the Defense Department, and I and all the leaders of DoD look forward to working with Congress on this challenge.”

Hagel added, “If we make the right investments in our partnerships around the world in innovation and in our defense enterprise we will continue to keep our nation’s military and our nation’s global leadership on a strong and sustainable path for the 21st century.”

Winnefeld Urges 'Reset' in National Security Balance

By Lisa Ferdinando
Army News Service

SIMI VALLEY, Calif., Nov. 15, 2014 – Sharp cuts and continued uncertainty in the U.S. defense budget have upset the strategic balance of the nation's security, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

"If we’re wise, we’ll drive that strategic balance back to a favorable equilibrium before it’s too late," Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. said. "If we’re not, then we’re going to have to live together with the consequences."

Winnefeld was the keynote speaker at a luncheon at the day-long Reagan National Defense Forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

"The trajectory of the security environment and the ongoing turbulence in defense funding have upset the strategic balance among the ends, ways, and means of our nation’s security and we need to reset it," he said.

Winnefeld spoke in place of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who is visiting with U.S. troops in Iraq today.

Russia, China Among International Challenges

As the United States was engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade, the "rest of the world did not stand idly by," Winnefeld said.

"Major states like Russia and China, convinced that the unipolar moment was fading fast, and capitalizing on our distraction, began asserting themselves," he said.

Russia's recent aggression in Ukraine is an example, but is by far not the only example, the admiral said.

"In protecting our allies against potential mischief from these powers, we've always counted on our overmatch in capability and capacity to offset the challenges of distance and initiative," Winnefeld said.

"That overmatch is now in jeopardy," he said.

Russia and China are investing in new capabilities, such as precision-guided weapons, stealth, unmanned platforms in traditional domains, and new capabilities in the space and cyber domains, Winnefeld said.

They are also modernizing their nuclear forces, the admiral said.

Meanwhile, he said, the United States "contends every day with two insecure, authoritarian regimes in North Korea and Iran, who covet weapons of mass destruction as insurance policies."

Other threats to the balance of national security include "violent extremism and deep instability" in North and East Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, Winnefeld said.

Other threats with other challenges include transnational criminal organizations, pandemics such as the Ebola crisis, and natural disasters and tensions exacerbated by droughts and food shortages.

"Our world remains a dynamic and very dangerous place," Winnefeld said.

Budget Uncertainty a Major Challenge

The U.S. strategic balance is being impacted by decreased defense spending, the admiral said, and continued budget uncertainty.

"We aren’t modernizing as fast as we should in a highly competitive technical landscape; our capability overmatch is slipping," he said.

While the United States is meeting its daily military deployment demands, the fiscal environment has put a "real dent in our ability to surge," the admiral said.

The budget challenges and reductions have "pushed us hard against the bounds of manageable risk," he said.

Meanwhile, the "sequester is a bet that went terribly wrong and its salami-slice method is the most-destructive way possible to reduce a budget," he said.

Winnefeld said the strategic balance "truly becomes untenable under sequester-sized cuts."

DoD Needs to 'Reach Even Harder for Efficiencies'

The Department of Defense, the admiral said, needs to find the next technological offset. He predicts that could be more about payloads than platforms, and involve every warfighting domain, and will likely be a combination of diverse technologies.

"We need to get to the far side of the whole ends, ways, and means discussion if we’re going to get ourselves back in balance," the admiral said.

Winnefeld said he would like to restore equilibrium by preserving the ends of the national security interests while maintaining manageable risk.

There are several things, he said, that need to be done.

The admiral said the Department of Defense needs to "reach even harder for efficiencies" and Congress should support it and remove some of the barriers in aiding the department in becoming more efficient.

The department needs to "embrace new operational plans, concepts, and technologies that could change the complexion of our force," he said.

U.S. Aided Afghan, Iraqi People

In response to a question from an audience member, Winnefeld said he believes United States military involvement has aided the people in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"What we did in Iraq was give the Iraqi people the chance to set themselves on a course that would allow them to have a government that would look out for the needs and the rights and the prosperity of all Iraqis," the admiral said.

Now, the United States is helping the Iraqi people battle Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists, the admiral said. ISIL, he added, possessed the potential to threaten the United States.

Winnefeld said he’s optimistic about the battle against ISIL, noting Iraqi security forces are ready to fight and the current Iraqi government will work with the United States and has said it has the goal of looking out for the interest of all the Iraqi people.

"We think they've a good shot of recovering from the disruption they've just been through," the admiral said.

The same thing has happened in Afghanistan, he said.

"We have given the Afghan people, through the blood and sacrifice of many American young men and women, an opportunity to have a brighter future," Winnefeld said.

The United States has put Afghanistan on a course where "success is in their hands," the admiral said.

George H.W. Bush Strike Group Returns to Homeport

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffrey Madlangbayan, USS George H.W. Bush, Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- After completing a nine-month deployment in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Operations (AOR), the ships and squadrons of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group (GHWB CSG) returned to their homeports in Norfolk, Va., Whidbey Island, Wash. and Mayport, Fla., Nov 15.

The GHWB CSG is comprised of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8), Destroyer Squadron 22 (CDS 22), the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), and the guided-missile destroyers USS Truxtun (DDG 103) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). The Strike Group, which deployed on 15 February, steamed a total of 73,400 nautical miles throughout two different AORs in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) as well as Maritime Security Operations (MSO) and Theater Security Cooperation (TSC) efforts while working with joint, coalition and allied forces.

"I am extremely proud of each and every Sailor in the George H.W. Bush Strike Group and our many accomplishments during this 9-month deployment. The flexibility and striking power inherent in a Carrier Strike Group made a difference on this deployment, and professional Sailors made it all happen." said Rear Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller III, commander, GHWB CSG. "I am also eternally grateful for the wonderful support we all received from family members and friends, many of whom welcomed us home today."

Highlighting the versatility of a CSG, in one 30-hour period, CVW-8 flew combat sorties in support of the Afghan Democratic run-off elections, CVN 77 then quickly steamed west executing an inbound Strait of Hormuz transit and then launched armed sorties into Iraq to counter ISIL extremist advances. Ships and aircraft of the GHWB CSG were the first U.S. forces on scene providing combat capability over Iraq and options for the President. GHWB CSG commenced the first airstrikes in Iraq, Aug. 8.

"This ship and air wing team possesses tremendous capabilities which can, and did, have an immediate impact on events in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations. This impact is generated not only by the incredible striking power of a Carrier Strike Group, but by the committed men and women aboard these ships that make it happen day in and day out in extremely trying conditions," said Capt. Andrew Loiselle, commanding officer of George H.W. Bush. "From day one, our Sailors came together and remained focused on the mission. I'm extremely proud of our Sailors and all they've accomplished."

In the early morning of Sept. 23, GHWB CSG and coalition partners participated in the first offensive strikes deep into Syria, engaging both ISIS and Khorasan Group targets using a mix of strike fighter and bomber aircraft as well as Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs). The 47 TLAMs employed in the strikes were launched from the USS Arleigh Burke and USS Philippine Sea operating in international waters from the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf, respectively.

During 2014, the GHWB CSG team amassed 12,774 sorties for a total of 34,831 flight hours. Of the sorties, 3,245 were combat sorties with 18,333 combat flight hours. The aircraft made 10,003 catapult launches and arrested landings (traps) for the deployment.

During the deployment, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 delivered a total of 232 precision guided bombs, launched 47 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM) and fired more than 2,400 rounds of 20mm ammunition.

This was the 2nd combat deployment for CVN 77, which deployed after the successful completion of a Fleet Readiness Training Plan that included Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX), Air Wing Detachment Fallon, and Fleet Synthetic Training exercises.

Upon return to homeports, GHWB CSG Sailors received a warm welcome by family and friends.

CVN 77 was commissioned Jan. 10, 2009 as the 10th and last Nimitz-Class aircraft carrier. Named after the 41st U.S. President, USS George H.W. Bush is the only aircraft carrier in the fleet with a living namesake.