An X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator prepares to execute a touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), marking the first time any unmanned aircraft has attempted a touch and go landing at sea. George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean.

An X-47B unmanned combat air system (UCAS) demonstrator prepares to execute a touch and go landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), marking the first time any unmanned aircraft has attempted a touch and go landing at sea. George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean.

Pentagon requests $79.4 billion for combat operations

The Pentagon on Friday sent two budget items to Congress – one to provide funding for combat operations next year, and another to limit the sting of sequestration this year.

The Defense Department is asking for $79.4 billion for its overseas contingency operations, or OCO, budget in 2014. The department did not include the OCO request with the $526.6 billion Pentagon base budget request submitted in April, saying that continuing deliberations over troop levels in Afghanistan made the spending picture unclear.

Troop numbers in Afghanistan will decline markedly during fiscal 2014, which starts Oct. 1. The Obama administration has said it would remove just over half the current number of troops before stabilizing the level at about 34,000 by February. The drawdown is expected to continue after Afghan elections are held in April, during which U.S. troops will assist with security.

The new OCO request is the smallest since 2005. Congress approved $86.5 billion for war spending in the current fiscal year.

Though troop numbers will be far lower, the OCO request only fell marginally in part because DOD needs to withdraw equipment and remove facilities that have been built up in Afghanistan over 12 years of fighting, Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters Monday.

“It’s not all about cost-per-troop in the OCO budget,” he said.  The department also sent a $9.6 billion reprogramming request to Congress to shift funds from military personnel and investment accounts into those with pressing shortfalls as a result of nearly $40 billion in sequestration cuts in the current fiscal year.

“We’re trying to scrape for every penny, dime and nickel to achieve an additional $37 billion in cuts between now and the end of September,” Little said. If Congress approves the measure, the money would support training and military operations, as well as higher-than-expected fuel costs this year.

“The main goal that we’re trying to deal with right now… is to limit the impact of sequestration on military readiness, particularly operations, training and maintenance accounts,” he said. Pentagon officials hope the reprogramming request is approved by Congress by early June, Little said.

George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean.

X-47B Accomplishes First Ever Carrier Touch and Go aboard CVN 77

” …USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) — The Navy’s X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D) has begun touch and go landing operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) May 17. For UCAS-D, this represents the most significant technology maturation of the program. Ship relative navigation and precision touchdown of the X-47B are critical technology elements for all future Unmanned Carrier Aviation (UCA) aircraft.

Don Blottenberger, UCAS-D Deputy Program manager, commented, “This landing, rubber hitting deck, is extremely fulfilling for the team and is the culmination of years of relative navigation development. Now, we are set to demonstrate the final pieces of the demonstration.”

Earlier in the week, the UCAS-D test team and CVN 77 worked together to successfully complete the first ever launch of an unmanned aircraft from an aircraft carrier proving the importance of introducing unmanned aviation into the already powerful arsenal of aircraft squadrons. “We are proud to be a part of another historic first for Naval Aviation. The landing was spot-on and it’s impressive to witness the evolution of the Carrier Air Wing,” said Capt. Brian E. Luther, Commanding Officer USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)

The various launch and landing operations of the X-47B on the flight deck of George H. W. Bush signify historic events for naval aviation history. These demonstrations display the Navy’s readiness to move forward with unmanned carrier aviation operations.  Capt. Jaime Engdahl, program manager for Unmanned Combat Air Systems program office, said, “When we operate in a very dynamic and harsh carrier environment, we need networks and communication links that have high integrity and reliability to ensure mission success and provide precise navigation and placement of an unmanned vehicle.”

“Today, we have demonstrated this with the X-47B, and we will continue to demonstrate, consistent, reliable, repeatable touch-down locations on a moving carrier flight deck,” he continued. “This precision relative navigation technology is key to ensuring future unmanned systems can operate off our aircraft carriers.” The UCAS-D program plans to conduct shore-based arrested landings of the X-47B at NAS Patuxent River in the coming months before final carrier-based arrestments later in 2013.

George H.W. Bush is currently conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean, strengthening the Navy’s forward operating and war fighting ability…”

George H.W. Bush is conducting training operations in the Atlantic Ocean.

McRaven Sets Future Course for Special Ops Command

TAMPA, Fla., May 22, 2013 – After 12 years of unprecedented demand for special operations forces capability worldwide, the commander of U.S Special Operations Command is shaping his forces for the future based on his “SOF 2020” vision. Navy Adm. William H. McRaven began an assessment of how to posture special operations forces to meet 21st-century challenges shortly after taking command in August 2011. He formed operational planning teams to focus on four major priorities:

— Win the current fight in Afghanistan;

— Strengthen the global special operations forces network;

— Preserve the force and families; and

— Resource responsibly.

By necessity, McRaven said, winning the current fight remains at the top of the list, a vital step toward accomplishing the other pillars of the vision. “Every commander that is in my position realizes that you have to take care of the 25-meter target first. For us, that is Afghanistan,” the admiral told several hundred participants at the 2013 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference here last week.

“And I think we are making great strides in Afghanistan,” he said, citing the success of a new command structure that aligns various NATO and U.S. special operations forces under a two-star headquarters. “We are achieving in the SOF world probably the best results we have seen in many, many years in terms of synchronizing the effect on the ground, on the battlefield by pulling together all three of the SOF components,” he said.

But shaping for post-2014, McRaven said, the defense strategic guidance released in January 2012 and the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations championed by Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, form the baseline for Socom’s future force and operations.

“Special operations forces are uniquely suited to implement the guidance outlined in these documents,” he told the House and Senate armed services committees earlier this year. With a pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region and continuing focus on the Middle East and Southwest Asia, the guidance includes a solid role for special operators around the globe, McRaven told the Tampa forum. “I am very comfortable that … there will still be a place for a force that is small, light, agile, networked, partnered — the sort of things that are a part of the SOF core competencies,” he said.

But looking to the future of the special operations force, McRaven said, those enamored with “Zero Dark 30” — the blockbuster movie depicting the SEAL mission that took out Osama bin Laden — and the myriad bestsellers about high-profile special operations forces activities are likely to be disappointed.

“The fact of the matter is, that [counterterrorism] piece — that we do better than anybody in the world — … is a small part of our portfolio,” McRaven said. “The broader part of our portfolio is how we build capability, how we link with our allies and our partners overseas so that we can help them take care of their problems so we don’t have to end up doing [counterterrorism].”

This capacity-building is vital in confronting the long tentacles of trans-regional and often globally networked adversaries, the admiral told the audience. “There is no such thing as a local problem any more,” McRaven said. “If you have a problem in Mali, it will manifest itself in Europe. And that problem in Europe will manifest itself in the Far East. Then the problem in the Far East will manifest itself in the Middle East. The world is linked, and therefore we need to be linked. We have to build a network to defeat the enemy network.”

McRaven’s SOF 2020 vision calls for a globally networked force of special operations forces, interagency representatives, allies and partners, with aligned structures, processes and authorities to enable its operations. Globally networked forces, he explained, will provide geographic commanders and chiefs of mission with improved special operations capability as they respond rapidly and persistently to address regional contingencies and threats to stability.

McRaven noted his own experience working with the Joint Special Operations Command in Afghanistan. “It has been interesting to work in a network like that, and we do that very, very well on the direct-action side,” he said. Part of the Socom plan, he added, is figuring out how to extend that network out to the theater special operations commands and down to special operations forward elements and forces assigned to them.

But McRaven said his No. 1 mission — one on which every other initiative depends — is the preservation of the force and family. Shortly after assuming command, McRaven received the results of an extensive evaluation of the special operations forces community, directed by Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, the former commander. The findings were sobering, he said.

“It said the SOF force as a whole was frayed,” McRaven said, a state he said continues with no light at the end of the tunnel in terms of operational demands. “I would say, in the last 20 months, the force is fraying at a rate I am not comfortable with at all,” he added.

McRaven recalled his initial SEAL training, provided by Vietnam veterans who, along with their families, weren’t properly cared for after the war. “We are not going to let that happen to this force,” he said. “So we are putting a fair amount of effort, money, manpower [and] time into preserving the force and families.”

Finally, McRaven underscored the importance of responsive resourcing for the special operations forces community and the “strategic employment” of SOF funding. Socom’s unique acquisition authorities are critical to meeting the demands of the force and its operations, he said. The goal, he added, is to simplify processes and cut through red tape to “move money more quickly to deal with problems from the field and be able to provide that capability as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, McRaven acknowledged budgetary constraints during his congressional testimony and affirmed his commitment to “common-sense steps to cost-cutting and cost avoidance.” As he implements the SOF 2020 vision and aligns resources to meet it, the admiral emphasized to Congress the value special operations forces deliver to the United States. “Special operations forces exemplify the ethic of smart power — fast and flexible, constantly adapting, learning new languages and cultures, dedicated to forming partnerships where we can work together,” he said.

111211090948-william-mcraven-story-top

Admiral William H. McRaven

Commander, United States Special Operations Command
United States Navy

Adm. McRaven is the ninth commander of United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. USSOCOM ensures the readiness of joint special operations forces and, as directed, conducts operations worldwide.

McRaven served from June 2008 to June 2011 as the 11th commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C. JSOC is charged to study special operations requirements and techniques, ensure interoperability and equipment standardization, plan and conduct special operations exercises and training, and develop joint special operations tactics.

McRaven served from June 2006 to March 2008 as commander, Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR). In addition to his duties as commander, SOCEUR, he was designated as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre where he was charged with enhancing the capabilities and interoperability of all NATO Special Operations Forces.

McRaven has commanded at every level within the special operations community, including assignments as deputy commanding general for Operations at JSOC; commodore of Naval Special Warfare Group One; commander of SEAL Team Three; task group commander in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility; task unit commander during Desert Storm and Desert Shield; squadron commander at Naval Special Warfare Development Group; and, SEAL platoon commander at Underwater Demolition Team 21/SEAL Team Four.

McRaven’s diverse staff and interagency experience includes assignments as the director for Strategic Planning in the Office of Combating Terrorism on the National Security Council Staff; assessment director at USSOCOM, on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, and the chief of staff at Naval Special Warfare Group One.

McRaven’s professional education includes assignment to the Naval Postgraduate School, where he helped establish, and was the first graduate from, the Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict curriculum.

William H. McRaven
Birth name William Harry McRaven
Nickname “Bill”
Born November 6, 1955 (age 57)
Pinehurst, North Carolina, U.S.
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1977–present
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg Admiral
Commands held U.S. Special Operations Command
Joint Special Operations Command
Special Operations Command Europe
Naval Special Warfare Group 1
SEAL Team 3
Battles/wars Persian Gulf War

Operation Enduring Freedom

Iraq War

Death of Osama bin Laden

AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal (2)

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Military suffers wave of ‘gay’ sex assaults

“… A recent military report on sexual assault in the military shocked many in Washington and around the nation, but a leading expert on military personnel revealed the prevalence of men assaulting other men is one of the major headlines in this study. The extended analysis of the report first appeared in Monday’s edition of the the Washington Times.

The Defense Department survey of sexual assault in the military during fiscal 2012 estimated 26,000 assaults took place in the armed forces. Nearly 3,000 of them were formally reported. Just more than 6 percent of women reported being victims of assault and 1.2 percent of men said the same. Given the much larger number of men in the military, those numbers suggest 14,000 of the assaults in the Pentagon study happened to men.

Among the assaults formally reported, 88 percent of reports came from women and 12 percent from men. The numbers are getting dramatically worse. “The number of reports of sexual assaults among military personnel have actually increased by 129 percent since 2004,” said Center for Military Readiness President Elaine Donnelly, who pointed out the number of formal reports of sexual assault jumped from 1,275 to 2,949 in just eight years.

She told WND when factoring in civilians working for or around the military, the increase in that time is 98 percent. Women are identified as the attacker in just two percent of all assaults, meaning most men who suffer assault are targeted by other men.

“So we’ve got a male-on-male problem here. The Department of Defense doesn’t want to comment on this. They know that the numbers are there. They say that they care, but all the attention is usually given to the female members of the military who are subjected to sexual assault,” Donnelly said.

The Washington Times article also includes analysis from Aaron Belkin, who heads The Palm Center. He said the rise in male-on-male sexual assault does not reflect the increase of homosexuals in the military but, rather, those assaults are ”somewhat similar to prison rape.”

“Well, that’s a great slogan to use for recruiting young men into the military, isn’t it? It’s outrageous. And yet, the Department of Defense doesn’t quite know what to do with these figures, and so they just sort of put them in there and hope nobody notices,” said Donnelly, who points out The Palm Center is a homosexual activist organization.

While Donnelly fiercely opposed repealing the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military, she said it’s important to keep monitoring the numbers to determine how much that policy change specifically contributes to the problem. She said the increase in sexual assaults against female service members should not be diminished, either. Donnelly said a lot of work lies ahead to reverse this trend, but the military and the federal government are kidding themselves if they don’t think some major policy decisions aren’t contributing to the rise in sexual violence.

“I think we have to start with the basics, and that means basic training. Back in 1998, unanimously, the Kassebaum-Baker Commission came out with recommendation to separate basic training for Army, Air Force and Navy trainers, (to) do it like the Marines do. The Marines train basic training separately, male and female at Parris Island. That’s a good thing to do. It’s a good first start,” Donnelly said.

“Second, they should stop pretending that sexuality does not matter. You cannot solve a problem by extending it into the combat arms. The big push is for women in combat, this argument that we have to have women in the infantry so they’ll be respected more and they won’t be assaulted,” said Donnelly, who noted that the strategy for women in combat that started more than a generation ago from then-Rep. Pat Schroeder, D-Colo., has been thoroughly discredited.

“Respect for women in the military today is higher than ever, but the sexual assault numbers keep climbing up,” she said. “I think before we start implementing a theory that’s been discredited.  The members of the Pentagon and the people who make policy in Congress as well, they need to stop.  They need to assess where we are, what has happened in the last two decades and they need to stop pretending that a lot of sensitivity training or highly paid consultants, that that is going to make a difference in the sex problems we’re seeing right now,” said Donnelly…”

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