Category Archives: Military Industrial Complex

Inside the ‘Foundational’ Future Technologies of the World’s Largest Defense Company

Standard

Lockheed


“DEFENSE NEWS”

“Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest defense contractor, a company with more than $47 billion in revenue in 2016. 

Keoki Jackson, Lockheed’s chief technology officer, laid out to reporters the “foundational” technologies in which his firm will be investing over the next two to three decades.”


“The technologies fall into three broad categories, with the first being what Jackson called “strategic technology thread areas,” areas that “go across pretty much anything Lockheed Martin will do, all these domains whether from undersea to outer space.”

Included in that pot are autonomy, directed energy, signal processing and communications, sensor technology and exploitation, and advanced cybersecurity.

Usable directed energy weapons, long described in defense circles as just around the corner, are truly at a “tipping point”, according to Jackson, who said he is confident the company’s 60-kilowatt system, which has been used on a Stryker vehicle, can be scaled up to 150 kilowatts or more.

Although not initially part of his discussion, Jackson later acknowledged the company is working on hypersonic technology as well. “I do believe we’re on the verge of a revolution in hypersonics, and we are certainly committed to supporting our customers in their quest for high-speed strike capabilities,” he said.

The second pot involves enabling technologies ― areas where there is a “huge amount of investment” going on in universities and the commercial tech sector, Jackson explained.

These are areas where we look not just to develop specific capabilities in-house, but really to leverage these huge investments that are going on in the commercial world that are really advancing,” Jackson said, noting investments in these areas can be found anywhere from the financial sector to the agricultural world.

That pot includes data analytics and big data, advanced electronics, and advanced materials and manufacturing. This is where Lockheed Martin’s LM venture fund, a roughly $100 million pot of money for investing in outside tech companies, most comes into play.

Finally, there is the third pot, which is made up of emerging technologies that “are kind of longer range, they are iffier bets, they are higher risk.” Among those noted by Jackson in this pot were quantum computing, communications and cryptology, as well as synthetic biology.

“We’re in an age today where you can effectively design a living molecular machine, you can compile it using a set of tools that is very much like a program compiler in a programming language, and then you can auto-generate a set of DNA sequences,” Jackson said of the synthetic biology piece. “You can create molecular machines to build almost anything at that molecular level with molecular precision.”

But while predicting biological technology is going to “revolutionize” the aerospace world, Jackson admitted he‘s most excited about the potential from quantum technologies, particularly the potential impact on information sciences.

“I believe the next leap in information technology, computing and sensing is going to come out of the quantum world. It is going to enable us to solve computational problems that we just cannot address today. It’s going to enable us to design new materials that we don’t have any way to go after,” he said.

A 2015 study from the U.S. Air Force warned there is significantly more “hype” than reality around quantum tech, and Jackson was upfront that it may never pay off for Lockheed the way he hopes. But the potential of the technology is worth plunking down the research funding, including the procurement of an expensive D-Wave system.

“Some of this seems a little science fiction-y, but i will tell you we see it in labs in the U.S., in other countries, where you’re actually seeing multi-qubit kind of computation systems come together and some really interesting advances in communications and sensing,” he said.”

https://www.defensenews.com/show-reporter/ausa/2017/10/19/inside-the-foundational-future-technologies-of-the-worlds-largest-defense-company/

Advertisements

Of Guns At Home, And Guns Abroad

Standard
box-cutters-rifle-drone_575

Box cutters (top) were banned from aircraft after 9/11, and Reapers (bottom) were sent around the world to hunt down terrorists. But homegrown terrorists have easy access to AK-47s (middle). (Photo illustration by Mark Thompson, U.S. ATF, USAF)

“THE PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT (POGO)” By Mark Thompson

“The gun and terrorism issues show markedly different approaches to vexing problems.

Congress demands the Pentagon hunt down and kill every terrorist—and adds billions to its budget to do just that. But it refuses to lift a (trigger) finger to curb domestic terror like that which occurred Sept. 30 in Las Vegas. These mass firearm murders have become an itch that must be scratched.”


“My father hunted deer with his 30.06 deep in the woods of Maine, and taught me and my brothers how to shoot. I helped teach my two sons to shoot in the wilds of New Hampshire. But when you combine all-but-unrestricted access to near-automatic firearms with suicidal shooters, there needs to be a reckoning.

I embrace the Second Amendment, and I don’t want guns banned. I think I am like most Americans in this regard.

Congress has become increasingly pusillanimous during my nearly 40 years in Washington. Despite talk, they have refused to cut the deficit, reform entitlement programs, or fix the zany tax code. This week, we entered our 17th year of war in Afghanistan without lawmakers declaring war. So why should we expect them to do anything about their constituents slaughtering other constituents?

As a reporter for nearly 50 years, I’m pretty much of a First Amendment absolutist. OK: no shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, but that’s about it. That’s barred because—get this—it could lead to people getting hurt, or maybe even killed, in a stampede. But you can’t mow down innocent people by shouting vile epithets at them from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel.

Why are my staunch Second Amendment-backer friends so opposed to even the most common-sense measures to curb the gun violence in our midst? Do we really need semi-automatic weapons, huge magazines, suppressors—more commonly known as silencers—or “bump stocks,” a legal firearm option used in the Nevada massacre that all but turns semi-automatic weapons into machine guns?

Walmart and Cabela’s, two of the nation’s leading firearm retailers, apparently stopped selling bump stocks following the massacre. That’s sure to impress 58 families. And Congress hasn’t ruled out doing something about bump stocks. Such courage! Even the National Rifle Association broke its typical silence following such shootings to acknowledge such faux machine-gun devices might warrant restrictions. That’s a tentative, but tiny, step in the right direction.

Believing in the fundamental right to bear arms is a long way from the lust for personal firepower that has grown in this country since I was a kid. Why do so many gun advocates and their NRA allies have such a Pavlovian response to any suggestion that the nation needs to get a handle on this scourge? The notion that additional restrictions will inexorably lead to confiscations or bans is a black-and-white mindset in a gray world.

There are 89 guns in this country for every 100 people (No. 2 is Yemen, currently waging civil war, at 55). But 3 percent of American adults own half those guns (78 percent of Americans don’t own a firearm). Americans also possess an estimated 48 percent of the globe’s 650 million guns in civilian hands (that makes the Pentagon, which accounts for about 37% of global defense spending, look like a relative bargain).

One 2015 accounting noted that all of the nation’s wars killed 1,396,733 Americans…while 1,516,863—9 percent more—have been killed by guns, just since 1968. A Gallup survey earlier this year showed that 55 percent of Americans wanted tougher gun-control laws, with only 10 percent wanting them loosened. But that 10 percent, bolstered by more than $4 million in NRA campaign contributions to congressional candidates since 1998, has given the gun lobby unparalleled clout on Capitol Hill.

That’s led to some bizarre etymological debates. Joseph Lombardo, the Las Vegas sheriff, was asked if Stephen Paddock’s 58 murders were an act terrorism. “No, not at this point,” he said. “We believe it was a local individual.” That suggests the post-9/11 fear-mongering has worked, and that one must be an “other” to be a terrorist. A pathetic man can rake 22,000 people from high up in a nearby hotel, killing 58 and wounding nearly 500 more…and none (in charge) dare call it terrorism?

Some of my anti-gun friends say the Second Amendment was the Founding Fathers’ original sin. No, that’s not right either. A sound and fair Second Amendment makes sense for a nation spawned by those shrugging off the yoke of tyranny by force of arms.

But Second Amendment backers also have to acknowledge that the Founding Fathers had no inkling of modern firearms, and the NRA’s death grip on Congress. If the recent conservative embrace of “originalism” in interpreting the Constitution and its amendments means anything, it means that the Founders were familiar with Brown Bess muskets and Pennsylvania rifles, not AK-47s and the NRA.

The nation rightly goes to great lengths to prevent its men and woman in uniform from dying on the battlefield. U.S. taxpayers spent $50 billion on 25,000 Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles that the Pentagon rushed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many by air, to shield U.S. troops from $100 roadside bombs. The flip side of that fact is just as critical: we will spend billions—no, make that trillions—to track down a relatively few terrorists no matter where on the globe they’re hiding. We hurl $2.4 billion B-2 bombers and grim MQ-9 Reapers around the world, along with the cream of our young, to find them and wipe them out.

But our federal government won’t do a damn thing to halt homegrown mass murder. Both terrorists and murderers are vile scum, but what accounts for our skewed priorities?

An annual “Survey of American Fears” (is this a great country, or what?) by California’s Chapman University helps put this into perspective. Government corruption ranked #1 (60.6 percent of those surveyed said they were “afraid or very afraid” of it) in 2016. Terrorism was #2, cited by 41 percent, slightly higher than the 38.5 percent who feared “government restrictions on firearms and ammunition.” Interestingly, in light of that concern, “people I love dying” ranked 6th, at 38.1 percent, edging out the 35.5 percent who feared “The Affordable Health Care Act/Obamacare.”

Experts say fears can be irrational because our brains have evolved to make speedy judgments, fueled by emotion, that may have made sense in the past but no longer do. “Our biases reflect the choices that kept our ancestors alive,” neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz has written. “But we have yet to evolve similarly effective responses to statistics, media coverage, and fear-mongering politicians.”

Box cutters were turned into blades of mass destruction on Sept. 11, 2001. They were used by 19 Islamic terrorists to hijack four airliners and kill 2,977 innocents. Forty-eight hours later, before post-9/11 flights resumed, the U.S. government barred them from U.S. commercial aircraft.

No one asked that the handy tool be banned elsewhere. In fact, I just bought a nifty ceramic-bladed model to help me slice up all the Amazon boxes that arrive at my house each week. But banning box cutters from commercial air travel was a necessary step in dealing with the violence they enabled.

The same logic needs to apply to guns. Of course tighter restrictions won’t end firearm violence. But few want to abolish the Second Amendment. They just want reasonable, responsible restrictions to curb the carnage. Such limitations, well beyond banning bump stocks, are coming. The only question is how many more will have to die first.”

Photo of Mark Thompson

By: Mark Thompson, National Security Analyst

Mark Thompson writes for the Center for Defense Information at POGO.

http://www.pogo.org/straus/issues/military-industrial-circus/2017/of-guns-at-home-and-guns.html

 

Top DoD Buyer Shifts Programs To The Services

Standard

Adquisition Shift

“BREAKING DEFENSE”

“Revealed today in her first public appearance since her confirmation that she is making fundamental changes in how the Office of Secretary of Defense starts and manages military weapons programs.

These moves could begin a significant shift of power away from the Office of Secretary of Defense to the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.”


“Until today, only new major programs were managed by the four services. “I am relooking at the decisions  that have been made on older programs too. We are right in the midst of discussing that. There may well be others that go back and are relegated to the services,” Lord told me. She hasn’t decided yet, she said, how many of the OSD acquisition workforce will migrate to the services to help manage them: “We are actively talking about people moving.”

Breaking D readers know better than about anyone how this all started. Sen. John McCain hired Bill Greenwalt, a top acquisition expert, to change the laws governing Pentagon acquisition. Greenwalt wrote legislation, later passed as part of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, that shifted the balance of power from OSD to the services. All new programs, it says, will be managed by the services. Lord’s decision to shift most programs to the services may mean the beginning of the ascendancy of the services in starting and managing weapons programs.

Lord also said she expects to see a 50 percent cut in the time it takes to get a program started, the time it takes the Pentagon to turn a requirement into a Request for Information (RFI) or for Proposal (RFP). “No kidding — we’re going to get there on that,” she told the conference. How exactly she’s going to measure that wasn’t clear. “I know it’s way too long,” she told reporters. “I learned that on the other side.”

Lord also declared that, while she didn’t want to regularly meet with individual CEOs, she did plan to meet individually with the heads of the top six defense primes twice each year. She met yesterday with Phebe Novakovic, General Dynamics‘ CEO. Generally, she said she preferred to work with the defense industry groups, the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), the Aerospace Industries Association(AIA), and the Professional Services Council (PSC).

A key driver for her push to speed acquisition is the need for weapons to be useful for multi-domain battle. “We need to be interoperable,” Lord said We have to have all the systems communicate with one another, and they have to share data and we have to be able to mine that data.”

Finally, Lord also told reporters after her talk that “I’m not sure that” a Space Corps— pushed by Rep. Mike Rogers of the House Armed Services Committee –would help improve space acquisition, noting there is “a very healthy debate” underway about it.”

https://breakingdefense.com/2017/10/top-dod-buyer-lord-shifts-programs-to-services/

Polaris Trucks Carry Commandos And Casualties – And Can Be Robots

Standard

2015-polaris-dagor-military-vehicle-utvunderground.com010-650x432

“BREAKING DEFENSE”

“Polaris is a small, tough company that makes small, tough trucks, favored by the MarinesSpecial Forces, and allied nations. They’re basically military-grade dune buggies, easy to transport by plane or helicopter and easy to customize to the mission. In this video, Polaris shows us one of their larger DAGOR vehicles configured to carry a full eight-man squad and the smaller MRZR set up as a mini-ambulance — as well as where to attach the gadgets to make it self-driving for the Army’s S-MET robotics competition.”

https://breakingdefense.com/2017/10/polaris-dagr-ausa/

 

 

Inspectors General Community Launches “Oversight.Gov”

Standard

oversightgov

“THE PROJECT ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT (POGO)”

“Oversight.gov, a centralized and searchable database of reports from offices of the inspector general (OIGs) throughout the federal government.

The database makes it easier to find reports on cross-cutting problems across the government.”


“The project is the result of two years of work from the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE).

Michael Horowitz, the Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Justice and the Chair of CIGIE, elaborates on the goals of the website in a press release, stating that “the public should have easy access to information about their government, and Oversight.gov is a big step in this direction.”

67 OIGs who make their reports public have committed to posting searchable versions of their reports from fiscal years 2015 through 2017 to Oversight.gov. They have also committed to posting all new reports to Oversight.gov whenever they post to their own site moving forward.

The homepage of Oversight.gov has data broken down by fiscal year on the number of reports available, on how many recommendations are in those reports, and on the potential savings identified by IGs. This data automatically updates every time an IG uploads a new report to reflect this new information.

The site also has a “Report Government Fraud, Waste & Abuse” button at the top of every page, which currently links to a list of contact information for all 73 OIGs. CIGIE has hopes of expanding the capacity of this whistleblower assistance functionality by, for example, assigning a full time CIGIE employee to facilitate whistleblower disclosures through the ‘report’ page of the site. However, such plans are contingent on funding.

The Project On Government Oversight has done extensive work to ensure IGs are independent and effective watchdogs, and we believe the introduction of Oversight.gov could serve to help those in the oversight community stay privy to the most recent findings of waste, fraud, and abuse, and to keep IGs accountable.

To keep up with the latest in the IG community, you can check out POGO’s database of vacant IG posts, and follow @OversightGov on Twitter to get live updates whenever new IG reports are available.”

http://www.pogo.org/blog/2017/10/inspectors-general-community-launches-oversight-gov-website.html

 

 

 

Army To Discard $6 Billion (WIN-T) Network Investment And Start Over Without A Plan

Standard

Army Network $6B

 “DEFENSE NEWS”

“House lawmakers roasted Army officials for abruptly scrapping its acquisition strategy months after submitting its 2018 budget without a well-defined alternative. 

Whether the U.S. Army may shift a half-billion dollars from its ailing network programs and chart a new course will be up for debate as lawmakers reconcile rival House and Senate defense policy bills this month.”


“But several key lawmakers said they are not ready to let the Army reboot from a $6 billion investment without explaining what’s next.

Army officials argue the service lacks the survivable, mobile and hardened tactical network it would need on a modern battlefield. They are asking Congress to end the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio, the Command Post of the Future and the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 at the end of fiscal year 2018 to free up money budgeted for the three.

And although at least two key lawmakers said they were supportive — chairmen of the House and Senate armed services committees — they want more information.

“I support them being willing to examine themselves and reverse course if that’s what’s appropriate,” HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said of the Army on Oct. 5. “It’s going to be up to them to prove to us that now we are on a better path, that we have learned the lessons.”

Thornberry said Army officials spoke with him in September about making the change.

“They’ll have to lay out their plans to us, but if we can have a path forward in ’18, there’s no reason to wait until ’19.”

The House-passed 2018 National Defense Authorization Act calls for WIN-T to be accelerated, and the Senate-passed version zeroes out the president’s request for WIN-T funding. The White House has defended WIN-T and some other programs the Senate NDAA would cut.

SASC Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., grilled Gen. Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, at a May hearing and accused the Army of wasting $6 billion on WIN-T. That stance actually aids Milley’s aim to reboot Army network plans.

On Sept. 9, McCain met with Milley on Capitol Hill and asked him how he proposes the WIN-T funding be redistributed.

“We told them to send us what they want to do with it, and we will examine it, but we had to act to cut it off,” McCain said of the meeting.

McCain said his support for the Army’s next move “depends on what they want to use it for. WIN-T has been a total failure.”

Proposed changes could be handled as an Army request to reprogram the 2018 funding or as part of the NDAA depending on the timing, McCain said.

The Army envisions scenarios in which it fights a near-peer enemy in contested environments that require small units, operating independently and moving constantly to avoid defeat.

Yet the first increment of WIN-T, while fielded, can only function — transmitting voice, video and data — when a unit is stopped. The WIN-T’s second increment is meant to provide an on-the-move capability, but it has struggled.

The latest annual report from the Pentagon’s office of developmental test and evaluation faults WIN-T’s technical performance, usability and vulnerability to enemy jamming.

At a hearing of the HASC Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee on Sept. 28 to question Army officials over its new plans, Chairman Michael Turner, R-Ohio, expressed deep skepticism the Army would get it right this time.

In a subsequent interview with Defense News, Turner said the goal is to provide new troops technology at least as advanced as what they were had in high school, and not to be eclipsed by adversaries who “have modernized and put at risk our ability to operate.”

“The question is what are we going to do, not just what are we not going to do,” Turner said.

Turner pushed back at the idea WIN-T had been a failure, noting it had been delivered, tested and fielded.

“The issue is not that it’s not working; the issue is: What are our goals and objectives, what are our technology needs, and how do you achieve those?” Turner said, “And the Army’s going to need to have an answer at least in scoping and in implementation, while they explain the nearly $6 billion that’s already been spent.”

https://www.defensenews.com/2017/10/05/lawmakers-if-us-army-ends-6b-in-network-programs-whats-next/

Jimmy Carter: “What I’ve Learned From North Korea’s Leaders”

Standard
Jimmy Carter...In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Age

Image – AP – Former president Jimmy Carter in Pyongyang

“WASHINGTON POST” By Jimmy Carter

“Over more than 20 years, I have spent many hours in discussions with top North Korean officials and private citizens during visits to Pyongyang and to the countryside. I found Kim Il  Sung and other leaders to be both completely rational and dedicated to the preservation of their regime.

The next step should be for the United States to offer to send a high-level delegation to Pyongyang for peace talks or to support an international conference including North and South Korea, the United States and China, at a mutually acceptable site.

The Pyongyang government believes its survival is at stake.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement last week that “we have lines of communications to Pyongyang. We’re not in a dark situation” is a good first step to defusing tensions.


“As the world knows, we face the strong possibility of another Korean war, with potentially devastating consequences to the Korean Peninsula, Japan, our outlying territories in the Pacific and perhaps the mainland of the United States. This is the most serious existing threat to world peace, and it is imperative that Pyongyang and Washington find some way to ease the escalating tension and reach a lasting, peaceful agreement.

What the officials have always demanded is direct talks with the United States, leading to a permanent peace treaty to replace the still-prevailing 1953 cease-fire that has failed to end the Korean conflict. They want an end to sanctions, a guarantee that there will be no military attack on a peaceful North Korea, and eventual normal relations between their country and the international community.

I have visited with people who were starving. Still today, millions suffer from famine and food insecurity and seem to be completely loyal to their top leader. They are probably the most isolated people on Earth and almost unanimously believe that their greatest threat is from a preemptory military attack by the United States.

The top priority of North Korea’s leaders is to preserve their regime and keep it as free as possible from outside control. They are largely immune from influence or pressure from outside. During the time of the current leader, Kim Jong Un, this immunity has also applied to China, whose leaders want to avoid a regime collapse in North Korea or having to contemplate a nuclear-armed Japan or South Korea.

Until now, severe economic sanctions have not prevented North Korea from developing a formidable and dedicated military force, including long-range nuclear missiles, utilizing a surprising level of scientific and technological capability. There is no remaining chance that it will agree to a total denuclearization, as it has seen what happened in a denuclearized Libya and assessed the doubtful status of U.S. adherence to the Iran nuclear agreement.

There have been a number of suggestions for resolving this crisis, including military strikes on North Korea’s nuclear facilities, more severe economic punishment, the forging of a protective nuclear agreement between China and North Korea similar to those between the United States and South Korea and Japan, a real enforcement of the Non- Proliferation Treaty by all nuclear weapons states not to expand their arsenals, and ending annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

All of these options are intended to dissuade or deter the leadership of a nation with long-range nuclear weapons — and that believes its existence is threatened — from taking steps to defend itself. None of them offer an immediate way to end the present crisis, because the Pyongyang government believes its survival is at stake.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jimmy-carter-what-ive-learned-from-north-koreas-leaders/2017/10/04/a2851a9e-a7bb-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-c%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.126cb97e6a40

National Network for Manufacturing Innovation – On the Move

Standard

Manufacturing USA

“DEFENSE NEWS”

“A series of centers of excellence spread around the country, with each center focused on a different technological area of study.As the initiative matures, it is beginning to show tangible feedback for relatively low cost.

The institutes are investing in what we call industrial commons. It’s a technology challenge that needs to be overcome, in order to get some capability.For small businesses, they say ‘what an amazing opportunity. “


“Tracy Frost, the Pentagon’s director of DoD Manufacturing Institutes and the acting head of the DoD Manufacturing Technologies (ManTech) program, sat down in August with Defense News to explain how it all works and why the defense industry should get involved.

Can you lay out the core idea behind the manufacturing institutes? – All of the technology advancements in the world don’t really mean much to the warfighter unless we can make it, make the product. We usually couch that as, ‘we have to make it when the troops need it, we have to make it in the quantity that they need, and we have to make it at affordable cost.’ The cheaper we can make things, the more we can buy. On a bigger scale, manufacturing kind of underpins all the productivity that we do in the country. That is both an economic and national security issue.

They are public-private partnerships, which is something the department has certainly utilized that authority for in the past but we’re using it in a very new way and revitalizing that authority. So one of the requirements is there was a 1:1 cost match of these awards. The Department of Defense puts [funding out] ranging from $55 million to $110 million of investment over a 5-7 year period. And the proposals had to come in with a 1:1 cost match, which can come from industry, academia and other government organizations.

By DoD standards, that’s not a ton of money. – It really isn’t a large investment considering what the goal was, and is, and what they’ve accomplished so far. And when you look at it as a 1:1 match, industry had to come to the table and match that funding, that’s a lot of skin in the game from day one. And that’s an important point, that from the beginning this is certainly a national effort.

The institutes are investing in what we call industrial commons. It’s a technology challenge that needs to be overcome, in order to get some capability. The applications are super wide. If we can figure out how to transmit information by light, look at the applications — It’s not just defense, its commercial. So all these institutes, we address a space that is going to change the world, not just DoD.

DoD has invested in eight areas. How did you go about selecting those? — We don’t want to bring all manufacturing back to the U.S., right? We want to bring advanced manufacturing back to the U.S. We’re selective, in the technology spaces we want to bring back. We tried to find a technology space that was advanced manufacturing, so not old-school, really moving it forward, where there was a commercial sector, an industry need for the technology as well, and where defense really thought we could use that technology going forward. If there wasn’t a strong commercial pull, it was off the table.

It’s interesting to look at the locations. Detroit makes sense for [the lightweight metals institute]. The fabric and textiles institute is in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is located near Natick, which houses our Fabric and Textiles experts with the government. So there were some strategies when they proposed where it was going to be located. Youngstown is an old manufacturing town. It’s very economically depressed so the local government was happy to have them come in. A lot of them got fairly cheap rent spaces they can move into, because local government wants them there. It’s a national resource, but has local impacts.

It’s a public-private partnership, so how does industry funding work? – It’s all different. What was built into the institutes, in the model we have, is the flexibility. Each institute has membership agreements. Some they make public, some they don’t. There’s different tiers of membership. Some institutes say we’re a no-tiers institute. It’s a flat rate to join. Others range from membership fees goes anywhere from a couple hundred dollars for small businesses all the way up to a million dollars. They typically have higher-tier members. It depends, typically, on what kind of organization you are, and then also what you want to get out of it. The higher tier, the more money you give, you might have more seats on councils.

What has feedback been from the defense industry partners involved? – Large companies, some of our big OEM primes, I’ve been in some stakeholder meetings and they say ‘we came to the institutes first because there was money, and if DoD is going to put money somewhere we’ll go see what’s going on. But we’re staying because of the connections.’ The money is not that big. They’re staying because they’re getting access to our supply chain like never before.

For small businesses, they say ‘what an amazing opportunity, I’m sitting at a table with Lockheed and Boeing, and even the medium size companies that will buy my product and integrate into a subsystem Lockheed buys.’ We’re getting access to the rest of our supply chain in a way we couldn’t before. It’s a way to help secure our supply chain. It’s really catalyzed conversations and organizational relationships, and is addressing technology problems like we’ve never seen before.”

https://www.defensenews.com/smr/equipping-the-warfighter/2017/09/29/qa-tracy-frost-director-of-dod-manufacturing-institutes/

What Went Wrong in Vietnam and Why it Matters in Afghanistan

Standard
What Went Wrong in Vietnam

The setting sun silhouettes a U.S. Marine firing his rifle into suspected North Vietnamese positions at the encircled the Sanh Base, March 18, 1968. (AP Photo)

“MILITARY TIMES” David Skidmore, Drake University, via AP

“In the Vietnam era, as today, the United States found itself engulfed in a seemingly never-ending war with mounting costs, unclear goals and few signs of success.  Muddling through offered presidents a politically safer short-run alternative to withdrawal or major escalation.

A similar dynamic appears at work in the U.S. approach to Afghanistan, where Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump have each accepted stalemate over the riskier options of retreat or decisive escalation.”


 

“The ghosts of the Vietnam War no doubt hovered over a recently assembled conclave of President Donald Trump’s advisers as they deliberated over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.

In both Vietnam and Afghanistan, successive presidents faced much the same options: Withdraw, decisively escalate or do just enough to avoid losing. Like his predecessors in both wars, Trump chose the middle path – incremental escalation with no clear exit plan. Although Trump called it a “plan for victory,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson candidly admitted that the additional American troops will likely do little more than “stabilize the situation.”

How can we to explain the seeming preference of U.S. presidents for muddling through – whether in Afghanistan or, 50 years ago, in Vietnam? This has been a central question in a course on the Vietnam War that I have offered for the past 30 years. In it, we look for answers in a fascinating debate among former officials that emerged in the late stages of the war.

Down a slippery slope

Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger offered one point of view in his 1967 book “The Bitter Harvest.” A onetime adviser to John F. Kennedy, Schlesinger compared Vietnam to a quagmire: The first step into a quagmire inexorably draws one down a slippery slope. Schlesinger argued that officials in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations stumbled blindly into Vietnam without understanding where the U.S. commitment would lead. Escalation proceeded through a series of small steps, none of which seemed terribly consequential. Each succeeding step was taken in the optimistic belief that a little more effort – a bit more aid, a few more troops, a slight intensification of the bombing – would turn things around by signaling American resolve to stay the course. Faced with this prospect, the reasoning went, the North Vietnamese communists would sue for peace on American terms.

These flawed expectations, Schlesinger argued, arose from a decision-making system characterized by “ignorance, misjudgment and muddle.” A dysfunctional bureaucracy fed presidents misleading and overly rosy intelligence. The Vietnam War debacle, in other words, arose from inadvertence and folly.

Just don’t lose

In separate pieces, this interpretation of what went wrong was challenged by Daniel Ellsberg and Leslie Gelb. Both Gelb and Ellsberg had formerly served as Defense Department officials during the 1960s, and both helped to compile the famous “Pentagon Papers.”

Gelb and Ellsberg reached similar conclusions about the sources of U.S. policy toward Vietnam. Ellsberg argued that policymakers during the Kennedy and early Johnson administrations followed two rules:

  • Do not lose South Vietnam to communism, and
  • Do not involve the U.S. in a large-scale ground war in Asia.

Each rule drew upon recent precedent. The “loss” of China to communism in 1949 led to charges that Democrats were “soft on communism” and a wave of McCarthyite hysteria at home. On the other hand, the public would also not tolerate another ground war similar to the unpopular Korean engagement.

The perceived domestic political costs of either extreme – withdrawal or unrestrained escalation – steered Kennedy and Johnson toward the middle. As long as feasible, each president did enough to avoid losing South Vietnam but shunned the direct commitment of U.S. troops that military advisers insisted would be necessary to bring victory.

By 1965, the deteriorating political and military situation in South Vietnam cut this middle ground from beneath Johnson’s feet. The minimum necessary to stave off defeat now required the commitment of American combat troops. Even once this line had been crossed, however, troops were introduced in a gradual manner and Johnson balked at imposing higher taxes to pay for the war.

As Kennedy and Johnson anticipated, public support for the war waned as U.S. casualties mounted. Richard Nixon responded to these domestic pressures by undertaking “Vietnamization,” which gradually reduced American troop levels even while prolonging U.S. efforts to stave off a communist victory.

Ellsberg refers to this as a “stalemate machine.” Policymakers acted in a calculated manner to avoid losing for as long as possible, but understood that their policies could not bring victory. Stalemate was a conscious choice rather than a product of overoptimism or miscalculation.

While echoing Ellsberg’s account of the domestic constraints on U.S. policy, Gelb added two sets of international constraints. Withdrawal was ruled out because policymakers believed in the domino theory, which predicted that the loss of South Vietnam would set off a cascade of communist victories throughout Southeast Asia. They also feared that the U.S. would lose credibility with its allies if we failed to put up a fight in South Vietnam. For these reasons, as well as fears of a right-wing backlash, Kennedy and Johnson were unwilling to walk away from Vietnam.

Yet Kennedy and Johnson also feared the international risks of major escalation, Gelb argued. An invasion of North Vietnam raised the possibility that either China or the Soviet Union would intervene more directly or retaliate against U.S. interests elsewhere in the world. In an age of nuclear weapons, the U.S. preferred to keep the Vietnam conflict limited and to minimize the risks of superpower war.

From Vietnam to Afghanistan

Gelb and Ellsberg rejected Schlesinger’s argument that policymakers were overly optimistic and lacking in foresight. Rather, they saw policymakers as generally pessimistic, recognizing that the next step along the ladder of escalation would not be sufficient and that future steps would be necessary just to maintain a stalemate. With victory viewed as infeasible, presidents chose stalemate as the least bad among a set of terrible options. Presidents had no clear exit strategy, other than the hope that the enemy would weary of the conflict or that the problem could be passed along to the next president.

Instead of blaming bureaucratic bumbling, Gelb argues that “the system worked.” The bureaucrats did exactly what top policymakers asked them to do: Avoid losing Vietnam for more than a decade. The problem lay rather in the underlying assumption – never questioned – that Vietnam was a vital interest of the United States.

Who was right?

I’d contend that Gelb and Ellsberg make a more convincing case than Schlesinger. Muddling through offered presidents a politically safer short-run alternative to withdrawal or major escalation.

Against an entrenched Taliban insurgency, U.S. policy has been driven by the need to stave off the collapse of weak local partners rather than the pursuit or expectation of military victory. Even President Barack Obama’s surge in Afghanistan provided fewer than half the troops requested by the military. On the other hand, Obama later retreated from his own stated deadline for total withdrawal, opting to leave 11,000 troops in place. Now Trump has also reneged from previous pledges to disengage from Afghanistan, instead sending additional troops.

It may be that the logic of the stalemate machine is built into the very concept of limited war. Or that it is a predictable consequence of how presidents manage the constraints posed by American politics. In any case, the histories of U.S. military involvements in Vietnam and Afghanistan should serve as warnings to future presidents who might be tempted to again jump onto the treadmill of perpetual war.

Why We Must Not Build Automated Weapons of War

Standard
IRAQ-CONFLICT

A drone operator from the Mosul Brigade of the Iraqi Special Operations Force 2 releases a drone during a military operation to retake parts of Mosul from the Islamic State on Dec. 5, 2016. Achilleas Zavallis—AFP/Getty Images

“TIME MAGAZINE”

“Over 100 CEOs of artificial intelligence and robotics firms recently signed an open letter warning that their work could be repurposed to build lethal autonomous weapons — “killer robots.”

They argued that to build such weapons would be to open a “Pandora’s Box.” This could forever alter war.”


“Over 30 countries have or are developing armed drones, and with each successive generation, drones have more autonomy. Automation has long been used in weapons to help identify targets and maneuver missiles. But to date, humans have remained in control of deciding whether to use lethal force. Militaries have only used automated engagements in limited settings to defend against high-speed rockets and missiles. Advances in autonomous technology could change that. The same intelligence that allows self-driving cars to avoid pedestrians could allow future weapons that hunt and attack targets on their own.

For the past three years, countries have met through the United Nations to discuss lethal autonomous weapons. Over 60 non-governmental organizations have called for a treaty banning autonomous weapons. Yet most countries are hedging their bets. No major military powers have said they plan to build autonomous weapons, but few have taken them off the table.

There’s a certain irony in the CEOs of robotics and AIcompanies warning of the dangers of the very same technologies they themselves are building. They implore countries to “double their efforts” in international negotiations and warn that “we do not have long to act.” But if the situation is truly dire, couldn’t these companies slow their research to buy diplomats more time?

In reality, even if all of these companies stopped research, the field of AI would continue marching forward. The intelligence behind autonomous robots isn’t like stealth technology, which was created in secret defense labs and tightly controlled by the military. Autonomous technology is everywhere. Hobbyist drones that retail for a few hundred dollars can takeoff, land, follow moving objects and avoid obstacles all on their own. Elementary school students build robots in competitions. Even the Islamic State is getting in on the game, strapping bombs to small drones. There is no stopping AI. Robotics companies can’t easily band together to stop progress, because it only takes one company to break the agreement and advance the technology. Besides, to ask companies to stop research would be to ask them to forgo innovations that could generate profits and save lives.

These same dynamics make constraining autonomous weapons internationally very difficult. Asking countries to sign a treaty banning a weapon that doesn’t yet exist means asking them to forgo a potentially useful tool to defend against threats and save lives. Moreover, the same problem of cheaters applies in the international arena, but the stakes are higher. Instead of lost profits, a nation might lose a war. History suggests that even when the international community widely condemns a weapon as inhumane — like chemical weapons — some despots will use them anyway. Treaties alone won’t prevent rogue regimes and terrorists from building autonomous weapons. If autonomous weapons led to a decisive advantage in war, a treaty that disarmed only those who care for the rule of law would be the worst of all possible worlds.

The letter’s signers likely understand this, which may be why the letter doesn’t call for a ban, a notable departure from a similar letter two years ago. Instead, the signatories ask countries at the United Nations to “find a way to protect us from all these dangers.” Banning or regulating emerging weapons technologies is easier said than done, though. Nations have tried to ban crossbows, firearms, surprise attacks by submarines, aerial attacks on cities and, in World War I, poison gas. All have failed.

And yet: Nations held back from using poison gas on the battlefields of World War II. The Cold War saw treaties banning chemical and biological weapons, using the environment as a weapon and placing nuclear weapons in space or on the seabed. The United States and Soviet Union pulled back from neutron bombs and anti-satellite weapons even without formal treaties. Nuclear weapons have proliferated, but not as widely as many predicted. In more recent years, nations have passed bans on blinding lasers, land mines and cluster munitions.

Weapons are easier to ban when few countries have access to them, when they are widely seen as horrifying and when they provide little military benefits. It is extremely difficult to ban weapons that are seen as giving a decisive advantage, as nuclear weapons are. A major factor in what will happen with autonomous weapons, therefore, is how nations come to see the benefits and risks they pose.

Autonomous weapons pose a classic security dilemma for countries. All countries may be better off without them, but mutual restraint requires cooperation. Last year, nations agreed to create a more formal Group of Governmental Experts to study the issue. The group will convene in November and, once again, nations will attempt to halt a potentially dangerous technology before it is used in war.”

http://time.com/4948633/robots-artificial-intelligence-war/?iid=sr-link1