The 2004 National Landmine Policy directed the Pentagon to end the use of persistent landmines after 2010, and introduce self-destructing and self-deactivating alternatives. The XM-7 Spider is the successor to the Matrix system deployed in Iraq, and part of the USA’s Non-Self-Destructing Anti-Personnel Landmine Alternatives (NSD-A) program.
Spider is more of a “remote explosive device” than a typical lay-and-forget land mine. It’s detonated by soldier command, and that soldier can even load non-lethal canisters if the mission calls for it. Unlike conventional land mines, the XM-7 Spider always has a known location, so it can be safely and easily recovered and re-deployed. If that isn’t possible for some reason, XM-7 units deactivate after a set time period, so they won’t become a future threat. It sounds good, and its capabilities are badly needed in places like remote fire bases, and along Korea’s dangerous DMZ. Unfortunately, the program has run into difficulties and delays.
Democrats from the House Appropriations Committee published their estimates of the consequences of sequestration not just on defense, but as DID recently half-jokingly predicted, with an increasingly broad scope and dire consequences. If the loss of 1 million2 million jobs did not adequately frighten you, consider that the sequester also means “3 million fewer malaria treatments” and “more than 14,000 deaths from completely preventable illnesses.”
India’s new aircraft carrier will have its sea trials delayed. The problem isn’t the contractor this time – it’s the weather in northern Russia.
US base closures: if not this year, maybe the next?
The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank proposes their recipe for “sustainable pre-eminence.” You’ve heard it before: more Asia/Pacific, more Air/Naval, more joint interdependencies. They are sticking their neck out on capabilities: cut 1 CVN, stop LCS in FY17 at 27 ships vs. a planned 55, get less F-35Cs for the Navy and more F/A-18s instead.
NATO and Pakistan have not found an agreement on reopening transport routes out of Afghanistan. The fact Pakistan tried to increase the price per truck by a factor of 20 might have something to do with it. If allied combat troops are to withdraw by mid-2013 and don’t want to leave most of their equipment behind or ship it back at an outrageous cost, this will need to be resolved.
The US Navy said it would start releasing emergency funds today to start compensating the households whose property was destroyed in an F/A-18 crash on Friday in Virginia Beach. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt: “about as close as you can get to a miracle.” Video at the bottom of this entry.
A RAF Chinook had to make an emergency landing in Arizona on Saturday but nobody was injured either.
The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote a glowing profile of Susie Alderson, an engineer now at the US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) who promoted the production of MRAPs to protect troops from roadside IEDs.
Atlantic CommTech Corp. in Virginia Beach, VA received a $12 million firm-fixed-price contract. They’ll provide interior intrusion detection systems for protective aircraft shelters, and redundant cable, for the 498th Nuclear Systems Wing. Atlantic CommTech will be performing 100% of the work throughout 6 NATO installations in Europe. This is not surprising. Back in February 2008, “The Blue Ribbon Review of Nuclear Weapons Policies and Procedures” raised concerns about security practices at nuclear-capable facilities in Europe, and recommended a number of steps to improve the situation. Meanwhile, European countries’ waning desire to even host such weapons has become a subject of high-level debate among NATO members.
The 498th Nuclear Systems Wing is part of USAF Materiel Command, and handles nuclear maintenance projects, programs, & systems integration, advocacy, and oversight. The wing’s groups and divisions include the 498th Missile Sustainment Division based at Tinker AFB, OK, the 498th Nuclear Systems Division at Kirtland AFB, NM; the 498th Munitions Maintenance Group at Whiteman AFB, MO, and the 798th Munitions Maintenance Group at Minot AFB, ND. The USAF Nuclear Weapons Center/PKE at Kirtland AFB, NM, manages the contract (FA9422-12-F-0001).
President Barack Obama’s June 22, 2011 address to the nation confirmed that the decision he made in 2009 to send an additional 33,000 troops into Afghanistan was by no means an open-ended commitment. Starting in July, the United States will begin removing 10,000 troops from Afghanistan, with a further commitment to bring home the additional 23,000 troops by next summer. Reflecting that the United States’ mission in Afghanistan will change from combat to support, troop withdrawals will progress at a steady place until 2014. It is anticipated that by this time Afghanistan will be responsible for its own security.
Leon Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his main objective as the new Defense Secretary will be to ensure that the United States continues to have the best trained, best equipped and strongest military in the world. Despite the Department of Defense’ efforts to cut $400 billion as part of deficit reduction measures Panetta also stressed to the Committee the United States does not need to choose between strong fiscal discipline and a strong national defense. Instead the challenge lies in designing budgets that eliminate wasteful spending while protecting those core elements deemed vital to national security.
If the allied strategy in Afghanistan really rests on the eventual ability of their central government to handle the lion’s share of the campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, its government will have to be able to manage itself at an acceptable level of competence. Given the fact that the cost of equipping and maintaining Afghanistan’s defense forces is well beyond that government’s entire budget, its competence is equally important to foreign financial donors.
That very competence has been strongly questioned in recent years, with Afghanistan’s interior ministry and national police coming in for special criticism. Managing their quality is a difficult political problem, as the requirement of Afghan independence and the reality of the country’s culture and political actors collide. Then, too, the local approach can sometimes be the right approach, even if it seems strange or inefficient at first. That’s why locally-appropriate training programs at the management level, as well as the tactical level, must be part of any transition plan. Even as their ultimate effectiveness depends on the commitment and people in place among their trainees. To that end, L-3’s MPRI division has received a series of contracts: