Defense Operations

November 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft join ships of the USS Ronald Reagan in a multiservice exercise in the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) seeks expanded capabilities to counter new and growing threats across a region that comprises more than half the Earth’s surface.  MC2 Kenneth Abbate

More crisis points are challenging U.S. goals in the Indo-Pacific region, and the combined command in charge of that vast theater is gathering resources and partners to maintain an effective military and diplomatic presence against rivals and other threats to peace and security. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) is building new coalitions, acquiring innovative technologies and adding greater capabilities while continuing to carry out its mission.

November 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
An HH-60G Pave Hawk from the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Japan, flies during a recent recovery training. Any command and control solutions have to reach airmen across the Indo-Pacific region, leaders say.  Pacific Air Forces.

Operating across the great distances of the Indo-Pacific region requires robust communication solutions. To meet the technological demands of airmen in the region, the U.S. Air Force, and in particular the Pacific Air Forces, are considering resilient network architecture, advanced software, battlespace command and control center solutions, new high frequency capabilities, low-earth-orbit platforms and decision-making tools, among other innovative solutions.

October 16, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Army paratroopers sling-load a ground mobility vehicle to a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during a September 2019 Saber Junction exercise in Germany. Army officials intend to invest heavily in multidomain operations in the coming years. Credit: Army Sgt. Henry Villarama

The U.S. Army is committing to the multidomain operations (MDO) concept with a $700 million budget plan for fiscal years 2021-2025. The investment includes cyber, cloud and information warfare.

“Multidomain operations is our fighting concept, and it serves as the foundation of the Army Modernization Strategy. The MDO is how the Army supports the joint force in the rapid and continuous integration across all domains of warfare—land, sea, air, space and cyberspace—to ultimately deter, and win the fight should deterrence fail,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told the audience at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C.

October 17, 2019
By George I. Seffers
M1A2 Abrams tanks take part in a May 2019 exercise in Poland. U.S. Army officials plan a massive exercise, Defender-Europe early next year. It will be the largest of its kind in 25 years.  Photo Credit: Sgt. Thomas Mort

Defender-Europe 2020, a massive, first-of-its-kind exercise to take place next spring, will test the Army’s ability to rapidly project power forward, effectively operate with other nations and engage in multidomain operations, service officials revealed at the Association of the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C.

November 1, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
U.S. Air Force Airmen prepare an F-22 Raptor for takeoff at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, in September. The Air Combat Command is taking steps to ready the Air Force for multidomain operations.  U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sarah Dowe

On the battlefield of the future, warfighters will need to be extraordinarily interconnected to weapon systems in the air, sea, space, land and digital realms. To support operations across these multiple domains, warfighters will have to rely on advanced command and control capabilities and vigorously employ cyber defenses to its weapons and systems.

November 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC (Ret.)

Key moments in history are often determined after the fact. But today, we have the luxury of knowing that we are at an important nexus in geopolitics. We stand at a crossroads in the Indo-Pacific region, and the actions we take now may well determine the future of the region and beyond.

Issues abound. India and Pakistan, two nuclear powers, have witnessed an increase in hostility along their common border. Terrorist organizations flow from Southwest Asia into the archipelagos of southern Asia, and North Korea remains a secretive puzzle with a massive potential for violence.

November 1, 2019
By Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence, USA (Ret.)
The multidomain operations concept envisions future wars being executed extremely fast and incorporating a great deal of automation and networking to connect sensors to warfighters across all domains—land, air, sea, space and cyber. Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

My columns so far have centered on various components of modernization and innovation that I think are needed for the U.S. military to reposition itself for success on future battlefields. Emerging technologies, culture, workforce, partnerships—all play critical roles and must be recalibrated for a future that will be increasingly complex and dynamic.

As the Defense Department moves to embrace more innovation, it will change the way our future wars will be fought. Defense planners already are working to understand this in detail, and the vision they have devised is called multidomain operations (MDO).

November 1, 2019
By Maj. Ryan Kenny, USA

When Google announced it was acquiring Nest for a little over $3 billion in 2014, analysts thought the company wanted to enter the home appliances market.

Wrong.

It was all about the data.

Google gained access to a treasure trove of information about consumer demands for heating and cooling. The company learned when people turned on their furnaces and shut off their air conditioners. Google could pair this information with the type of household, neighborhood and city.

October 17, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
An Atlas V rocket carrying a Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit satellite for an Air Force mission lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in January. DOD is proposing the creation of the U.S. Space Force to protect the space domain. Credit: United Launch Alliance

To build the Space Force, the proposed sixth service of the U.S. military, the Defense Department will initially pull from all the services, not just the Air Force, according to Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Steve Kitay. It will truly be a joint warfighting service, he stressed.

October 15, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
A Philippine airman acts as a gunner for a U.S. Marine during a surface-to-air missile simulation in a joint exercise. The U.S. Into-Pacific Command is seeking new technologies that will enable U.S. and partner forces to interoperate advanced capabilities in the battlespace. Credit: Lance Cpl. Brianna Tuck, USMC

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) is confronting technologically proficient adversaries with a combination of innovation and cooperation as it prepares for operations ranging from disaster relief to military force countermeasures. The command has a technology wish list that encompasses virtually all of its missions and is heavy on building cooperation among current and new allies and partners.

Deterrence is the name of the game for INDOPACOM, says its commander, Adm. Phil Davidson, USN. He describes the strategy’s goal as knitting together allies and partners to assure them of the way ahead, thereby deterring adversaries in the region.

October 10, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force has reactivated a flight test squadron to take on testing of the next-generation bomber. Credit: Graphic courtesy of the Air Force

Air Force leaders at Edwards Air Force Base in California held a reactivation ceremony on October 4 for the 420th Flight Test Squadron, which will fall under the Air Force Test Center's 412th Test Wing. Notably, the squadron will be conducting analysis of flight and ground testing of the service’s next-generation bomber, the B-21 Raider, a key future weapon system for multidomain operations.

September 18, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
Speaking yesterday at the Air Force Association’s ASC 2019 conference, Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, USAF, commander, U.S. Space Command, and commander Air Force Space Command, explains that the new combatant command will comprehensively train combat-ready space warfighters.

The U.S. military’s 11th combatant command, the U.S. Space Command, which the Defense Department stood up on August 29, is taking shape. Led by Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, USAF, who is also the commander of the Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, the Space Command has a singular focus of protecting and defending the space domain, Gen. Raymond explained.

The commander spoke with reporters at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference on September 17 at National Harbor, Maryland.

October 1, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The Army Futures Command executed a radio rodeo with industry throughout June to determine the network requirements needed to enable autonomous vehicle support in contested, multidomain environments. The newly created command has overhauled the way it communicates its needs to industry, allowing companies to more quickly design and deliver systems to meet those needs.  U.S. Army illustration courtesy of CCDC GVSC

The U.S. Army’s recently created Futures Command achieved full operational capability in July, but improving communications with industry and delivering technologies into the hands of soldiers may be its most buzzed about achievement.

There’s a common phrase in military circles about building the plane while flying it. That phrase could easily describe Futures Command’s efforts to carry on the mission at the same time officials were hiring staff, deciding on a headquarters location, building that headquarters, educating others on the command’s mission, and handling myriad other tasks and challenges associated with establishing a brand-new command.

October 1, 2019
By Robert K. Ackerman
NATO members participating in the 2019 Coalition Warrior Interoperability Exercise test communication equipment to ensure partner communications can interoperate during combined operations. Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is working to speed innovation into NATO forces to help improve interoperability along with seizing key military advantages.  Supreme Allied Commander Transformation photo

NATO is accelerating its efforts to input innovation into its operational capabilities. This effort is aided both by industry and academia and by different nations that bring new technology applications to the alliance table. But even the best ideas are encountering speed bumps, and adversaries are moving quickly to exploit their own technological advances.

September 26, 2019
Posted by Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force is conducting a new program, called Air Force Explore, to find “remarkable” ideas to apply to persistent awareness, resilient information sharing and rapid, effective decision-making, among other areas. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Janweb B. Lagazo

Calling it a unique new call to action, the U.S. Air Force is searching for transformational solutions that advance the principles of its Science and Technology 2030 strategy. The service’s effort, called Air Force Explore, is soliciting solutions from interested parties nationwide, according to an Air Force statement.

September 17, 2019
By Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force Special Operations Command's (AFSOC’s) development of a 60-kW laser weapon system is on track, says AFSOC’s new commander, Lt. Gen. James Slife (l), at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference yesterday.

In a world where a swarm of drones can take out an oil production (WC) system, the military needs advanced tools, including lasers to defeat asymmetric threats. For the past few years, the U.S.

August 23, 2019
Kimberly Underwood
The Air Force is standing up a new Information Warfare Numbered Air Force this fall, which will help support the service and the U.S. Combatant Commands, says Gen. Mike Holmes, USAF, commander, Air Combat Command, at an Air Force Association event on August 23.

The U.S. Air Force is in the process of standing up a new Numbered Air Force (NAF) within the Air Combat Command, which will bring together the service’s information warfare capabilities.

Last year, the service announced it was moving its 24th Air Force, which specializes in cyber operations, and its Cyber Mission from the Air Force Space Command to the Air Combat Command. The Air Combat Command (ACC) is in the process of merging those cyber components with its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities from the 25th Air Force, which will all be under the new Information Warfare NAF, explained Gen. Mike Holmes, USAF, commander, ACC during an Air Force Association breakfast event on August 23.

August 22, 2019
By George I. Seffers
The Synthetic Training Environment will assess soldiers in enhancing decision-making skills through an immersive environment. U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. Damon "DJ" Durall

International partners and allies are showing interest in the U.S. Army’s Synthetic Training Environment, or STE, which will combine an array of technologies such as gaming, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality to converge live, virtual and constructive training.

August 22, 2019
By George I. Seffers
Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the Army’s PEO for command, control and communications-tactical, speaks at TechNet Augusta. Photo by Michael Carpenter

Engaged in a concerted modernization effort, the U.S. Army is making strides in overcoming a persistent challenge—interoperability, according to Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the Army’s program executive officer for command, control and communications-tactical.

The Army’s network modernization plan and strategy calls specifically for officials to “define and develop the Mission Partner Environment to improve network joint interoperability and coalition accessibility.” Simply defined, interoperability is the ability to effectively communicate or share data with international partners and allies or even with other U.S. military services.

August 22, 2019
By Beverly M. Cooper
Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, USA, STE cross-functional team director, Army Futures Command, addresses the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference. Photo by Michael Carpenter

The second revolution in training for the Army environment is underway with the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) (see video below), which will be the first holistic training strategy for the Army, according to Maj. Gen. Maria Gervais, USA, STE cross-functional team director, Army Futures Command. The first revolution occurred in the 1980s with the live combat training centers, she said during a keynote address at the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference.

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