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Asia-Pacific

Fiscal Armageddon Is No False Prophesy

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

West 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 1

Quote of the Day:“’Flat’ is the new ‘up’ in this defense budget environment.”— Robert O. Work, undersecretary of the Navy

The military services are facing potentially crippling constraints if sequestration takes place in March. Defense officials foresee the likelihood of draconian budget cuts being imposed that will cripple the force just as it is being counted on to assume new strategic missions. In most cases, the services will have to choose to sacrifice some capabilities so that others will remain part of the force. In worse-case scenarios, the U.S. military may be unable to meet its obligations when a crisis emerges.

These and other points were hammered home by speakers and panels on the first day of West 2013, the annual conference and exposition hosted by AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute in San Diego. While the event has the theme of “Pivot to the Pacific: What Are the Global Implications,” the first day’s discussions largely focused on the dire consequences of the fiscal cliff as well as potential solutions to avoid completely gutting the military force. Audiences generally were aware of the looming budget crisis, but many were surprised by the bluntness of the assessments offered by high-ranking Defense Department civilian and military leaders.

Obstacles Loom for Pacific Realignment

January 1, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The shift of U.S. power to the Asia-Pacific will not be successful without an infusion of new technology and a dedicated effort to defeat a wide range of adversaries. The new strategic emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region poses a new set of challenges, mandating solutions that run the gamut from technological capabilities to cultural outreach and diplomacy.

On the military side, direct challenges range from dealing with cyberspace attacks to providing missile defense in a large-scale conflict. On the geopolitical side, centuries of conflict and confrontation among neighbors must be overcome if a region-wide security environment enabling economic growth is to be implemented.

The technological response will require moving game-changing—or even disruptive—technologies into theater faster and more effectively. Strategically, both government and the military must build more extensive coalitions among a large number of nations, some of which historically have not trusted each other.

These points were among the many discussed at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2012, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 13-15. Titled “Rebalancing Toward the Asia-Pacific—Challenges and Opportunities,” the conference featured a multinational roster of speakers and panelists from across government, the military, industry and academia.

One challenge that faces modern military forces anywhere in the world is cyberspace, and the threat in that realm is extending into new areas with potentially greater lethality. A new type of player has emerged among cyber malefactors, and many traditional adversaries are adopting new tactics that combine both hardware and software exploitation. These threats no longer are confined to customary targets, as even systems once thought sacrosanct are vulnerable to potentially devastating onslaughts.

Korea Exercise Changes the Game

January 1, 2013
By Rita Boland

An unprecedented choice allows soldiers to use communications and intelligence assets in more meaningful ways.

Military operational decisions are moving further down the chain of the command, and a group of Stryker soldiers has taken a large step toward improving the training small units receive. Troops with this battalion had a chance to practice with capabilities never before available to them in an environment that simulates combat better than any facility they have at home. The results are new levels of preparation and confidence for whatever challenges they may be called on to handle next.

Home based in Hawaii, the 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division traveled to Korea to conduct the training event Wolfhound Maul. The unit is nicknamed the Wolfhounds. Contained within that effort was a smaller combined arms live fire exercise (CALFEX) that gave the unit’s three subordinate companies a chance to run full-spectrum operations with new assets in stressful surroundings. Maj. Christopher Choi, USA, operations officer for the battalion, says that as his team searched for the best resources to conduct the training it wanted to provide, it realized Korea offered benefits not available in Hawaii. After a careful cost-benefit analysis, decision makers chose to approve the travel to the Korean peninsula. Almost the entire battalion made the trip, with its companies experiencing the CALFEX training one at a time over a period of a month.

Military Tracks Earthquake-Related Radiation Contamination

December 6, 2012
By Max Cacas

To monitor the possible effects of radiation on Americans who were in Japan during the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the U.S. Army Public Health Command has launched the Operation Tomodachi Registry website. The site provides location-based radiation dose estimates for the approximately 70,000 department-affiliated adults and children who were in one of 13 mainland Japan locations at the time of the disaster, which included the release of radiation into the environment. It will serve as a public clearinghouse for information on the U.S. Defense Department's response to the crisis in which U.S. troops assisted their Japanese counterparts in relief efforts. The Operation Tomodachi website will be used to build a model for future exposure registries that could be used to manage a range of other events or activities where the potential for environmental exposure to harmful chemical or biological agents is possible. It will be managed as part of the Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System. Names, locations and radiation exposure information for service members, civilian contractors, employees and their family members is contained in a secure database.

 

Update on the Asia-Pacific

December 4, 2012
By Rita Boland

Military activities in the Asia-Pacific region have become more focused since the release of a defense strategy a few months ago that places renewed attention on the global area. Through U.S. Pacific Command's (PACOM's) recent theater campaign plan, leaders are telling the subordinate military-service components to report back in a year on how efforts are working while deconflicting duplicate programs.

Book Review: Project Azorian, the CIA and 
the Raising of the K-129

December 1, 2012
Reviewed by Dr. R. Norris Keeler

Book By Norman Polmar and Michael White (U.S. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland 2010, 238 pages)

In 1974, the United States attempted to raise a sunken Soviet submarine from a depth of 16,000 feet, in the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. The submarine had been lost in March 1968. The operation to do this was camouflaged as an ocean bottom mining operation carried out by the Hughes Glomar Explorer, specially constructed for that purpose. As the Soviet general staff later admitted, the deception was excellent. They did not believe recovery from such a depth could be accomplished.

In thoroughly describing this ambitious effort, the book begins with the story of how the news media, specifically the Los Angeles Times, published an article describing U.S. attempts to raise a Russian submarine, the K-129, from a depth of 16,000 feet. This publication compromised the operation, at least partially. The authors then describe the role of the USS Halibut, which found and localized the K-129. By coincidence, the Halibut also was a strategic-missile-launching submarine as was the K-129. The Halibut’s missiles were the Regulus, an air-breathing platform launched from the surfaced submarine.

The K-129’s missiles were of the “Serb” designation, underwater-launched ballistic missiles, three in the sail aft, with thermonuclear warheads. The Halibut, with its large spaces available for Regulus missiles, had ample room for cameras and other sensors with the missiles removed. These sensors were deployed while submerged in the search for the K-129.

Technology Will Be the Leveling Tool for Pacific Rebalancing

November 16, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

TechNet Asia-Pacific 2012 Online Show Daily: Day 3

Quote of the Day: “Anyone who wants to go to conflict is not right.”—Lt. Gen. Francis J. Wiercinski, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Pacific

Technology advances hold the key for the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) to fulfill its new missions as part of the U.S. strategic realignment toward the Asia-Pacific region. Many of the technologies that top the wish lists of PACOM leadership are the usual suspects: enablers of interoperability and data sharing. But, in addition to introducing new capabilities, technology advances also are needed for defending against emerging vulnerabilities.

The third and final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2012, held November 13-15 in Honolulu, Hawaii, featured a well-distributed set of PACOM leaders describing their challenges and needs. One panel featured four of the command’s joint directors discussing their requirements in the context of each other’s fields. Ultimately, the head of the Pacific Fleet delivered a straight-up wish list designed to carry the fleet well into the foreseeable future.

One item that seemed to be at the top of everyone’s list is the ability to share information across domains. Rear Adm. Paul B. Becker, USN, commander, PACOM J-2, director for intelligence, cited the ability to engage in multidomain data transfer. That common wish was expanded on by Brig. Gen. J. Marcus Hicks, USAF, director, communications systems, J-6, PACOM. Gen. Hicks also requested interoperability and the ability to move data across the domains.

Rebalancing Is a Long-Term Endeavor

November 15, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The commander of the Pacific Fleet sees changes taking place far into the future.

Ultimately, Many Cyber Operations May Be Local

November 15, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The infinite domain may best be addressed on a geographical basis.

PACOM Directors Think Regionally Across Vast Area

November 15, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman

The nature of the challenges facing the largest U.S. area of operation require acting locally as well as globally.

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