20 March 2015

JIEDDO is Shuttering Its Doors

Adieu JIEDDO...

Top defense officials compared the scope of Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) to the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb in World War II. They drew the parallel to convey the broad nature of the threat and the time and money it would take to address it, including attacking the insurgent networks that build IEDs and training troops to deal with them better.

Nine years after JIEDDO's creation, however, it will soon fade into the Pentagon's bureaucracy. One reading of this, as Military Times noted last week, is that JIEDDO's main functions will become permanent. But it also means, as Military.com highlighted, that JIEDDO itself will be diminished, with a smaller budget, a new name and fewer employees in a combat support organization that falls under Frank Kendall, the defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

The details are still being worked out, but it is effectively the end of JIEDDO as we know it.

The organization's legacy is mixed. On one hand, JIEDDO's creation meant that there was a Defense Department organization that could rapidly sort through and acquire technology to help troops find IEDs on the battlefield. Examples include the Thor, a backpack-like radio that jammed radio-controlled IEDs, and the variety of metal detectors that U.S. troops used to search for bombs. Equipment like that was considered key, especially as insurgents constantly adopted new techniques to make the bombs hard to find.

On the other hand, JIEDDO grew to become a behemoth with at least 2,000 employees, a multi-billion dollar budget that wasn't closely scrutinized by outside organizations. For example, a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Organization, the investigative arm of Congress, noted the organization had not yet developed a comprehensive counter-IED strategy and that other Defense Department organizations, independent of JIEDDO, were still developing equipment to find roadside bombs.

09 February 2015

Brigade Reorganizations Coming This Year

Along with inactivations and consolidations of some brigades, there are internal changes coming, too.

In addition, all the BCTs — stateside and abroad — will receive additional engineer and fires capabilities.

Infantry and Stryker BCTs now have one engineer company, while armored BCTs have two.

Under the reorganization, the brigade support troops battalion in each BCT will be converted into a brigade engineer battalion with gap-crossing, breaching and route clearance assets.

This grows the number of engineers in each brigade from about 120 in the infantry and Stryker BCTs and about 200 in the armored BCTs to more than 300 engineers in all.

The infantry and armored brigades also will gain increased fires capability by going from a 2-by-8-gun fires battalion to a 3-by-6. This gives the brigades two additional howitzers and one additional battery to support the three maneuver battalions.

In the infantry BCTs, one battery will be equipped with 155mm Howitzers, providing it with precision fires capability, according to information from the Army.

The Stryker brigades retain the 3-by-6 design.

27 January 2015

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22 January 2015

Ukraine 1/22/15: US to Deploy Trainers

And since we're not British, we're not deploying tennis shoes. The US will be deploying troops to Ukraine to help train their forces.

American soldiers will deploy to Ukraine this spring to begin training four companies of the Ukrainian National Guard, the head of US Army Europe Lt. Gen Ben Hodges said during his first visit to Kiev on Wednesday.

The number of troops heading to the Yavoriv Training Area near the city of L'viv — which is about 40 miles from the Polish border — is still being determined, however.

The American training effort comes as part of a US State Department initiative "to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conduct internal defense, and maintain rule of law" Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman told Defense News.

After meeting with commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Anatoliy Pushnyakov and acting commander of the National Guard Lt. Gen. Oleksandr Kryvyenko during his visit, Hodges said he was "impressed by the readiness of both military and civil leadership to change and reform."

The training was requested by the Ukrainian government "as they work to reform their police forces and establish their newly formed National Guard," Hillman added. Funding for the initiative is coming from the congressionally-authorized Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF), which was requested by the Obama administration in the fiscal 2015 budget to help train and equip the armed forces of allies around the globe.

The training mission has been the subject of plenty of discussion among US policy makers for months, and the United States has already earmarked $19 million to help build the Ukrainian National Guard.

20 January 2015

First Female Headed to Pre-Ranger Course

It's not quite Ranger school, but it's a big step.

Second lieutenant Kelly Derienzo shed her long hair Jan. 11 to be one of the first women allowed to go to Fort Benning's Pre-Ranger Course.

It's one of many steps the Army is taking to integrate women into combat roles.

"With the Army now saying females are leading combat arms Soldiers, it wouldn't be right for them not to go to Ranger School. It's a leadership school," said Capt. Jonathan Worswick, Fort Sill Pre-Ranger Course officer in charge. "If they can't be afforded the opportunity to get the best leadership training the Army can give then we've done a disservice to all the people we're asking them to lead."

Ranger School, which opened in 1952, trains Soldiers in infantry-related skills.

Last November the Army chose 31 women: 11 officers and 20 noncommissioned officers to be observer/advisers for the school.

The Army has now allocated 40 seats for female candidates in each iteration of the Ranger Training Assessment Course, the school's Pre-Ranger Course, between January and April.

Derienzo left Fort Sill Monday for the first iteration.

"It's almost a bit of a shock. I didn't come into this expecting this at all. I guess things line up and I'm really lucky I'm granted these opportunities and I've just got to run with it," she said.

Derienzo passed Fort Sill's Pre-Ranger Course, which is how male Soldiers earn a slot in the prestigious school.

"We've always had females participate in the Pre-Ranger program here as far back as I can remember," said Worswick. "I'm glad they're finally getting to do something more than Pre-Ranger Program 1-30th FA."

The course here, ran by captains who are also attending the Captains Career Course, was instrumental in deciding who could have what it takes in this historic undertaking.

"The key thing for me is if a female is interested in the program then we will do everything in our power to prepare them for Ranger School," said Lt. Col. Jeremy Jelly, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery commander. "It's an Army program so I support it 100 percent. If they prove they can do it, more power to them."

Derienzo is not the only woman Fort Sill has deemed worthy.

Going through the post Pre-Ranger Program before her, 2nd Lt. Maychee Zah, is also looking to go to Benning for training.

"I definitely feel humbled and honored to get the chance to go," said Zah, now assigned to 2nd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery. "Ranger School teaches you infantry tactics and I feel like in field artillery you need to know that side."

Zah had completed the course here and Derienzo was halfway through before the Army announced it would allow women to move forward.

Worswick said the level of motivation they showed without knowing they had the chance of moving on was impressive.

"Both lieutenants Zah and Derienzo have gone above the expectations and standards that most of their male or female counterparts have," he said.

Zah finished fifth out of nine candidates in the course and Derienzo finished seventh out of 14.
"Not only do I think they're going to be successful in Ranger School, but their numbers prove they should be successful," said Worswick.

He said the course here is meant to prepare Soldiers for the physical tests they will endure in Ranger School.

Sixty percent of all Ranger School failures occur in the first four days.

Many are disqualified during the physical fitness test on the first day. The test gives candidates two minutes to do 49 push-ups; two minutes to do 59 sit-ups; and 40 minutes to run five miles. They must also do six chin-ups.

"To be quite honest I don't know if I'm going to end up with a tab. It's not really a concern for me, that's not my goal. My goal in going through all of this is the experience and just knowing that I'm going to get leadership lessons out of this and one day hopefully those lessons I've learned and this experience are going to translate into being a better leader and saving the lives of my Soldiers," said Derienzo.

To move on, she had to cut her hair to 1/4 of an inch or an inch from her scalp.

She decided to let her BOLCclassmates help her get into regulation standards.

"I don't look at a group of people and feel uncomfortable as being the only female. It's a new experience, but I don't know that it feels weird. I just hope, if nothing else, this shows them there's nothing to really be afraid of and women can operate in the same way."

17 January 2015

Anniversary: The Start of Gulf War I

Today marks the anniversary of the start of the air campaign known as Operation Instant Thunder.

The Gulf War air campaign was broadcast across the world on CNN.

At 2:43 A.M. two EF-111 Ravens with terrain following radar led 22 F-15E Strike Eagles against assaults on airfields in Western Iraq. Minutes later, one of the EF-111 crews – Captain James Denton and Captain Brent Brandon – destroyed an Iraqi Dassault Mirage F-1, when their low altitude maneuvering led the F-1 to crash to the ground. It was not credited to the crew but an F-15E that was also involved in the manuevering.[6]

At 3 A.M., ten U.S. F-117 Nighthawk stealth bombers, under the protection of a three-ship formation of EF-111s, bombed Baghdad, the capital. The striking force came under fire from 3,000 Anti-Aircraft guns firing from rooftops in Baghdad.

Within hours of the start of the coalition air campaign, a P-3 Orion called Outlaw Hunter developed by the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which was testing a highly specialised over-the-horizon radar, detected a large number of Iraqi patrol boats and naval vessels attempting to make a run from Basra and Umm Qasr to Iranian waters. Outlaw Hunter vectored in strike elements, which attacked the Iraqi naval flotilla near Bubiyan Island destroying 11 vessels and damaging scores more.

Concurrently, U.S. Navy BGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missiles struck targets in Baghdad, and other coalition aircraft struck targets throughout Iraq. Government buildings, TV stations, airfields, presidential palaces, military installations, communication lines, supply bases, oil refineries, a Baghdad airport, electric powerplants and factories making Iraqi war machine equipment were all destroyed due to extensive massive aerial and missile attacks by the coalition forces.


Here's the broadcast most people remember


What's the biggest technological jump in aerial weaponry since then? Tell us below.

By: Brant

06 January 2015

US Army Heading Back to Europe, Only Further East

According to the Army Times, there's a significant force headed back to Europe and deploying further east...


The Army is dialing up its missions in the regions with plans to:
  • Continue three-month troop deployments of about 800 soldiers, with the likely addition of aviation rotations.
  • Contribute soldiers to a NATO response force of an expected 4,000 to 5,000 troops.
  • Add a brigade's worth of tanks and Bradleys by the end of 2015.

All of these efforts by the U.S. Army in Europe is part of what Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, has dubbed "Strong Europe."

"Strong Europe is meant to convey the framework of what U.S. Army Europe, as a forward-stationed force, is able to provide on behalf of the Army to [European Command] and NATO," he said. "It's about relationships, the training centers, the infrastructure, as well as the organizations that are here."

18 December 2014

Nothing Says "We're Serious About Missile Defense" Like A Bunch of Balloons

Army to deploy new BA-1100N's that detect cruise missiles.

The U.S. Army plans to launch two stationary "blimps" at 10,000-feet in the air next week to better protect the Washington D.C. area from cruise missiles and other possible air attacks.
It's part of a three-year test by the North American Aerospace Defense Command of the so-called JLENS System, which is designed to work with already existing air defense technology.
The tethered large balloons, called aerostats, carry technology that will almost double the reach of current ground radar detection, officials said. The JLENS manufacturer, Raytheon Corp., says the system can provide radar coverage to an area the size of Texas.
It will "increase decision time available to respond efficiently and accurately for the defense of the National Capitol Region," NORAD said.
The JLENS system -- which stands for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor -- has no firing capability. Any response to missile attacks would still come from ground missiles, ships and airplanes, according to NORAD.
The balloons will fly above the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and do not carry any cameras.
"It's not for surveillance," said NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek. "It's simply for the detection of cruise missiles."
The 242-foot-long aerostats will be tethered to the ground by 1⅛-thick "super-strong" cables, according to Raytheon. The tethering system is designed to withstand 100 mph winds and had no problems in 106 mph winds during testing, the company said.
The helium-filled aerostats can stay aloft for up to 30 days at a time, making it five to seven times cheaper to operate than using aircraft for the task, Raytheon says.
NORAD says the JLENS system will be crewed by 130 personnel at the Maryland base.

h/t Gus