“A small group of Airmen are having a dramatic effect on the battlefield. They’re in demand from everyone from Army squads and platoons to large defense contractors. Everyone wants a joint terminal attack controller on their team — and with good reason. They are crucial to putting air force bombs on target by controlling the air strikes the ground commander needs. With less than 1,100 of them to go around the Air Force, their career field has been forced to come up with better ideas for fighting the war on terrorism…”
Given the coming size expansions of the US Army and Marines, the need for more JTACs is acknowledged. There’s also the nature of counterinsurgency campaigns, with dispersed units and the potential need for air support in unexpected places and times. If the USAF itself is acknowledging resource issues, one might think that the idea we’re about to cover refers to a way of using electronic assets like ROVER and other ‘sensor fusion simplifiers’ to make it easier for more people in the armed forces to become as effective as current JTACs. The idea described is indeed a form of sensor fusion simplification – but it will not help with the JTAC squeeze… yet.
Faced with an enemy that has no compunctions about committing war crimes by using human shields, the US Army is discovering that snipers are a critical battlefield asset. For instance, the American Snipers 501c3 support organization got this letter from a 1st Stryker Brigade sniper team it had helped out with some gear:
“…On April 9th all hell broke loose here in Mosul and we were up on an OP. My shooter spotted approximately 150 personnel with RPG’s and AK’s inter mixed with civilian personnel. He was able to fire three shots before the crowd dispersed. He killed two and wounded one at a 430 meters while under indirect fire. Now the shot does not seem that difficult but if you add the fact that he was firing from the 5th story out of a 12 degree loophole and the persons were running. I am proud of my shooter for making those shots. We were in heavy fire for about 5 hours that day and in all my company killed about 30 NCF and sustained no friendly injuries. I just thought I would tell you a little bit about us…”
Of course, the rifles themselves need to come from the military. Remington Arms Company Inc. in Ilion, NY received an $11.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for M24 sniper rifles (and see weapon review), spare parts, and modular access rail systems (aka. “Picatinny Rails”). Work will be performed in Ilion, NY, and is expected to be complete by April 30, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on May 18, 2006 by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Rock Island, IL (W52H09-06-C-0152).
Subjects discussed included how the job of Fleet Forces Command has evolved since its creation in 2001, global piracy, the “thousand ship navy” concept, new directions in anti-mine warfare, developments related to the Littoral Combat Ship and its program innovations, et. al. The answers were substantive, and the interview is worth your while.
“Yet what if the Pentagon’s big platforms weren’t merely the wrong weapon systems to fight present and future wars, but actually likely to bring defeat? John Arquilla, one of the military intellectuals who created and promoted the concept of “transformation” for the U.S. military, believes that may be the case. Arquilla teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, and is a RAND consultant and a Pentagon advisor. His publications include Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy, [see also shorter paper], In Athena’s Camp: Preparing for Conflict in the Information Age and the forthcoming The Reagan Imprint: Ideas in American Foreign Policy from the Collapse of Communism to the War on Terror.”
Agree or disagree, he’s always worth reading. Here are a few more recent articles that tie into the Arquilla article’s points. or feature additional thought-provoking material and ideas which could impact military procurement down the road.
Maj. Gen. Roger Nadeau, who heads the US Army’s research and development command, told the U.S. Army Winter Show on February 15th that fighting in Iraq is shaping almost every Army spending decision. One of those lessons is that urban warfare is the new baseline, a point that has been by many observers over the last five years. Nadeau challenged industry to come up with new and more innovative ways of thinking: “This is nose-to-nose street fighting; if you can help me fight in this environment, then we will listen to you.” Items on the wish-list include better night-vision devices for soldiers and vehicles, sensors to allow troops to see through walls and buildings, active protection systems for vehicles that work in short-range urban environments, and even an improved bunker-busting type weapon to allow soldiers to breach walls (q.v. Britain’s recent buy).
“If [FCS] were here in its entirety today, how would the soldier’s life in that city be better? If we can’t answer that, we’re probably going down the wrong path and we need to make some modifications.”
On July 30, 2004, the U.S. Department of Defense finalized its Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Policy. The DoD requires passive RFID labels on the case, pallet, and item packaging for Class I, Class II, Class VI, and Class XI commodities delivered on or after January 1, 2005. For approximately two years, the DoD will accept EPC Class 0 (read only) or Class 1 (read-write) passive RFID tags. The DoD will migrate to Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Generation 2 tags when the specification is finalized. In addition, the DoD requires Advance Shipment Notifications (ASNs) using the 856 format. Articles like “RFID at the DoD” and “RFID Vision in the DOD Supply Chain” explain; meanwhile, the In-Transit Visibility (ITV) network already spans more than 45 countries, and tracks military supplies through more than 2,000 sites. See also the DoD’s Lessons Learned from the experience to date.
In a recent release, Savi Technology Inc. noted that the U.S. Army’s Information Technology, E-Commerce and Commercial Contracting Center (ITEC4) has increased its radio frequency identification (RFID) II contract from $207.9 million to $424.5 million and extended the ordering time for the company’s products and services for two years through Jan. 31, 2008. Savi’s active tags can store up to 128 kilobytes of information, read and write at distances of up to 300 feet, and are based on ISO 18000-7 standards operating at 433.92 MHz. The Department of the Army wrote in a public notice wrote “The extension of the ordering period and raising of the contract ceiling is necessary in order to continue to provide active RFID tags and associated supplies and services for shipments of materiel to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Savi also supplies a number of US allies, and moves are afoot to create interoperable RFID-based networks that can manage logistics in multi-national, joint-force operations.
EagleSpeak Blog, run by a former Captain, USNR (ret.), notes the recent “stand-up” of Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron Five (NCWRON-5) near San Diego recently. Once at full strength, 325 sailors will go to war in a fleet of speedy 34-foot, SeaARK Marine aluminum-hull boats (likely Dauntless Class) equipped with .50-caliber and 7.62mm machine guns and 40mm grenade launchers. The boats cost $500,000 each, and can be loaded quickly aboard Air Force C-17 transport jets for quick transport to trouble spots. SeaARK boats of these types are also in use by civilian agencies like the NYC Police and National Park Police.
As of Friday, February 3, 2006, the USA’s 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review has been released. As Title 10, Section 118 stipulates, the QDR’s Congressional mandate is:
The Secretary of Defense shall every four years… conduct a comprehensive examination (to be known as a “quadrennial defense review”) of the national defense strategy, force structure, force modernization plans, infrastructure, budget plan, and other elements of the defense program and policies of the United States with a view toward determining and expressing the defense strategy of the United States and establishing a defense program for the next 20 years.
DID has a roundup of relevant resources and links:
Elbit Systems’ 100% subsidiary Elisra Electronic Systems has received an order estimated at $3 million from the Polish Ministry of Defense for its unique EJAB (Electronic Jammer Against Bombs) system. Designed to thwart remotely activated explosive devices, EJAB will support the Polish Army’s forces in Iraq and work to help keep them safe from IED land mines. Judging by the doorless jeep picture on the left, the portability of Elisra’s EJAB will make it a timely purchase indeed.
DID’s report follows with a picture of the device, plus additional details covering the order, EJAB itself and some recent shifts in Polish tactical doctrine. Not to mention a reason why every single one of us has a personal stake in the continued success of this technology…