31 May 2011

AUS: Two Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Two Australian soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in two separate incidents.

In the first incident, which occurred yesterday afternoon Australian time, a member of the Mentoring Task Force was shot by an Afghan National Army soldier.

The Australian Army soldier and the Afghan National Army soldier were undertaking guard duty at a patrol base north of Tarin Kot at the time of the incident.

Despite receiving substantial medical treatment at the base, and being airlifted to a nearby ISAF medical facility at Tarin Kot in well under an hour, the Australian soldier died from his wounds.

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, said the Afghan National Army soldier fled the scene and remains at large.

“We will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and work closely with our 4th Brigade partners to develop a clear understanding of what has occurred and what, if anything, can be done to prevent such an incident happening again,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

“We remain committed to our mentoring role and I can’t stress highly enough the importance of the Mentoring Task Force to achieving our mission in Afghanistan.”

In the second incident, which occurred a few hours after the shooting, an Australian Army Officer was killed when an Australian Chinook Helicopter crashed while undertaking a re-supply mission in Zabul Province.

An American Chinook was in close proximity and the crew landed and provided immediate medivac assistance for the most seriously wounded soldier to the Role II facility in Qalat, 70 km to the south of the crash site.

Unfortunately, the Officer could not be saved.  The other five Australians onboard the helicopter were subsequently evacuated to the Role III medical facility at Kandahar and they are in a satisfactory condition.

There is no obvious cause for the incident at this early stage, however, an investigation is being initiated.

Air Chief Marshal Houston said the families of both the soldiers had been notified and they had asked that the personal details of their loved ones not be released at this time.

“On behalf of all the men and women of the Australian Defence Force, I offer my condolences for their loss,” Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

“Though I can’t ease their grief at this very sad time, I want them to know the ADF will be there to provide comfort and support as their loved ones are laid to rest.

“I hope they are able to draw some comfort from the knowledge they are in the thoughts and prayers of so many Australians who are grateful for the service of their loved ones to our nation.”


TRANSCRIPT: PRESS CONFERENCE WITH CHIEF OF THE DEFENCE FORCE AND MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

Russia delivers another batch of naval fighters to India

RIA NovostiMiG-29KRussia delivers another batch of naval fighters to India
03:17 31/05/2011 Russia's MiG aircraft maker delivered a new batch of five MiG-29K/KUB carrier-based fighters to the Indian navy in May, the company said.>>

30 May 2011

Russia, U.S. seal Afghan helicopter deal

RIA NovostiMi-17 helicoptersRussia, U.S. seal Afghan helicopter deal
19:35 27/05/2011 The U.S. Army Forces Command and Russian state-controlled arms exporter Rosoboronexport have sealed a contract for the supply of 21 Mi-17V5 multipurpose helicopters to Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Russian Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation said on Friday.>>

AUS: Sergeant Brett Wood MG, returns home to Australia

Australian Defence Force pays tribute to a fine soldier

Australian soldier Sergeant Brett Wood, MG was farewelled from Afghanistan yesterday in a moving memorial service and ramp ceremony at Multi National Base- Tarin Kot.

Sergeant Wood was remembered as an exceptional soldier who dedicated his career to serving his nation, his mates and his family.

The Commando was killed in action on 23 May 2011 during a partnered Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) and Afghan National Security Forces mission. 

The Commanding Officer of the SOTG described Sergeant Wood as the finest example of an Australian soldier.
  
“We should all be immensely grateful for having had the privilege of serving with Brett before his last patrol.

“Brett was a man amongst men, a soldier’s soldier, an outstanding leader, a great mate, a loving husband, courageous and professional to a fault,” Lieutenant Colonel ‘G’ said.


Sergeant Wood was honoured in a ceremony within the SOTG compound, surrounded by his mates from the 2nd Commando Regiment, the Special Air Service Regiment and representatives from ISAF and Afghan Task Forces.
  
After the memorial service, Sergeant Wood’s casket was placed onto a Long Range Patrol Vehicle by members of his platoon and led through an honour guard of soldiers from the Task Group. He was escorted onto a waiting Royal Australian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft to begin the long journey home to family and friends in Australia.

“It was no surprise to anyone to hear that when Brett was killed, it was once again leading a team of Commandos, at the front, assaulting the enemy – much like in 2006 when he was awarded his Medal for Gallantry.”

“Know that Brett’s sacrifice was not in vain, our cause is just and we will continue to make a difference to the security and future of Afghanistan,” Lieutenant Colonel ‘G’ said.

The Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General Angus Campbell, said the loss of Sergeant Wood will not diminish the resolve of the Australian Defence Force and their Afghan partners.
  
“Foremost, our thoughts are with the family of Sergeant Wood during this difficult time. Sergeant Wood served his nation with distinction, commitment and honour.

“We will now take time to appropriately remember his service and the contribution he made in protecting the Afghan people while conducting operations in dangerous circumstances.”

Sergeant Brett Wood will be repatriated in Sydney and buried with full military honours.


---

Fallen Commando returns home to Australia

Sergeant Brett Wood, MG, of the 2nd Commando Regiment has returned home, met by members of his unit and his family, in a solemn and dignified ceremony at RAAF Base Richmond.

Soldiers from Sergeant Wood’s unit formed an honour guard and bearer party to receive and carry Sergeant Wood’s casket from the Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft.

The Chief of Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston; the Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie and Special Operations Commander Australia, Major General Gus Gilmore attended the Ramp Ceremony. 


Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie paid tribute to the fallen Commando. 

“Army has lost an incredibly talented and truly courageous soldier and his wife has lost a very loving husband. The military family will ensure that Brett’s mates are looked after as they carry out their very important mission.  They will also ensure that his beloved family will also know of the compassion and support which will become more familiar over the days, weeks and months ahead,” said Lieutenant General Gillespie.

Special Operations Commander, Major General Gus Gilmore said Brett would be remembered by the entire Special Operations community.



“Sergeant Brett Wood epitomised the values of courage, dedication to duty, loyalty and mateship. He was admired and respected by all who served with him,” said Major General Gilmore. 

Sergeant Brett Wood, MG, aged 32, was killed in action on 23 May 2011 during a partnered Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) and Afghan National Security Forces mission.

AUS: Two Australian soldiers wounded by insurgent blast

Two Australian soldiers are in satisfactory condition after being wounded in action when their vehicle struck an insurgent-laid Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on Wednesday, 25 May 2011.

The soldiers were part of an Afghan National Police (ANP) and Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) partnered mounted patrol in Southern Afghanistan when their Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle struck an IED.

Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Ash Power said the soldiers have recovered well from their wounds and are now being managed as outpatients at their Tarin Kot base.

“Thankfully their wounds were such that it appears they will make a full recovery,” Lieutenant General Power said.

“Their Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle took the brunt of the blast and was significantly damaged in the explosion.”

The patrol secured the incident site, provided initial first aid to their wounded comrades and organised a casualty evacuation helicopter to extract them from the field.

Ground and air recovery options were explored for the damaged Bushmaster but the increasingly dangerous situation on the ground, the harsh terrain and high threat of further IEDs precluded the use of available recovery systems for the vehicle.

Based on the assessment by the Commander on the ground, Commander Joint Task Force 633, Major General Angus Campbell, authorised the destruction of the vehicle in place rather than to leave it for potential insurgent exploitation.

Lieutenant General Power said ongoing operations in that area of southern Afghanistan precluded earlier announcement of the casualties.

“Australian soldiers and their Afghan partners continued their operation,” Lieutenant General Power said.

“To enhance their safety on the ground we delayed the release of this information until that phase of the operation had concluded.”

The soldiers’ families have been notified of the incident.

USA: Navy Names Next Aircraft Carrier USS John F. Kennedy

BOSTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today the next Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier will be named the USS John F. Kennedy.

The selection John F. Kennedy, designated CVN 79, honors the 35th President of the United States and pays tribute to his service in the Navy, in the government, and to the nation.

"President John F. Kennedy exemplified the meaning of service, not just to country, but service to all humanity," said Mabus. "I am honored to have the opportunity to name the next aircraft carrier after this great Sailor and inspirational leader, and to keep the rich tradition and history of USS John F. Kennedy sailing in the U.S. Fleet."

Born in Brookline, Mass., May 29, 1917, Kennedy graduated from Harvard in 1940, and entered the Navy in October 1941.

During World War II, Kennedy took command of PT 109 at Tulagi Island in the Solomons, with a mission to intercept Japanese ships attempting to resupply their barges in New Georgia. In the early morning hours of Aug. 2, 1943, Kennedy's ship was inadvertently struck by an enemy ship and split in half. During the course of the next six days, Kennedy led his crew members to safety and an eventual rescue. Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for the rescue of his crew and a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained when his ship was struck.

After his military service, Kennedy became a congressman representing the Boston area, he was elected to the Senate in 1953, and in 1961 became the youngest person to be elected president.

One previous ship, USS John F. Kennedy, CV 67, was named in his honor and was decommissioned in 2007, after nearly 40 years of distinguished service, including Operation Desert Storm.

The USS John F. Kennedy and other Ford-class carriers will be the premier forward asset for crisis response and humanitarian relief, and early decisive striking power in a major combat operation. The aircraft carrier and the carrier strike group will provide forward presence, rapid response, endurance on station, and multi-mission capability throughout its 50-year service life.

The USS John F. Kennedy will provide improved warfighting capability, quality of life improvements for Sailors and reduced acquisition and life cycle costs. The ship will be constructed at Newport News Shipbuilding, Va., a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries.

Navy.mil

USA: Stennis Strike Group Completes COMPTUEX

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) completed a successful Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) May 27 off the coast of Southern California.

COMPTUEX, a three week exercise required for each carrier strike group, and designed to drill every warfare area from subsurface, surface and air to practice responses to situations that may occur while on deployment.

JCSCSG is made up of John C. Stennis, CVW-9, guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), and DESRON 21; guided missile destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100), USS Dewey (DDG 105), USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Pinckney (DDG 91).

"We all came together at the beginning of COMPTUEX as individual operating elements, and combined the forces into an effective strike group that is ready to deploy," said Cmdr. Stevin Johnson, strike operations officer.

This is the first time the strike group has worked together since last deployment.
Embarked Strike Force Training Pacific evaluators mentored the JCSCSG on integrated operational capabilities through a series of simulations.

Stennis simulated strait transits with other ships from the strike group; conducted multi-mission air wing operations; participated in replenishments at sea; and ran many shipboard drills.

"Like any evolution you have to meet certain requirements before you can get the grade of satisfactory," said Johnson.

Unit specific training allowed the separate strike group assets to practice their roles individually, while other situations reinforced the strike group's ability to integrate and operate as a single force.

"As a strike group we have gotten much better at coordinating our efforts and achieving the desired goal through a united front rather than individual warfare commanders," said Johnson.

With COMPTUEX complete, JCSCSG will begin a Joint Training Force Exercise.
"This is just the next step to a higher level of training and readiness for JCSCSG," said Johnson. "Next, we roll right into JTFEX and continue the same training we're doing right now but in a more complicated scenario.

COMPTUEX and JTFEX prepared Stennis and the JCSCG for the upcoming deployment this year.

"COMPTUEX has equipped our Sailors to meet worldwide challenges in a safe and professional manner," said John C. Stennis Commanding Officer Capt. Ron Reis. "It has given our crew the confidence and knowledge to be able to execute mission requirements during deployment; from humanitarian relief efforts to dealing with piracy or warfare in any region of the world."

Navy.mil

USA: Combat Cargo Ensures Pacific Partnership 2011 Humanitarian Aid Delivery

LAE, Papua New Guinea (NNS) -- The Combat Cargo division aboard USS Cleveland (LPD 7) moved tons of cargo and hundreds of personnel from ship to shore in Papua New Guinea, May 19-27, ensuring the safe and timely delivery of engineering, medical and other humanitarian supplies as part of Pacific Partnership 2011 (PP11).

USS Cleveland is the flagship for PP11, and its Combat Cargo department is responsible for supervising direct on-load and off-load operations aboard the ship. They ensure the proper sequencing of personnel and equipment, and coordinate the off-load plan in support of all PP11 operations ashore.

"On a daily basis, there are over 200 personnel departing the ship in the morning and returning to the ship at the end of the day," said Marine Chief Warrant Officer Gilbert Santacruz. "We are responsible for manifesting all personnel inbound and outbound from the ship."

A humanitarian assistance/disaster response initiative, Pacific Partnership is aimed at strengthening regional relationships between the U.S., its allies and nations in the Western Pacific that might be called upon to respond to natural or humanitarian crises in the region. Combat Cargo is a key component to mission success.

The well deck on any amphibious transport dock ship is a very busy place, due to that location being the point of embarkation and debarkation for all heavy equipment, relief supplies, and personnel. The Marines attached to Combat Cargo have to make safety their primary responsibility, since they are working in an inherently dangerous environment.

"I believe the most challenging part of my job is safety," said Gunnery Sgt. Rudy Galima. "During well deck operations there are a lot of moving parts, vehicles, forklifts moving cargo, and personnel all over the well deck. I need to be in the middle of everything to ensure everyone knows what they are doing and where they are going."

The Landing Craft Utility (LCU) 1665 crew and the air crew are essential parts of the Combat Cargo mission, as they own the platforms that bring people, equipment and supplies aboard the ship.

"We work very closely with the LCU crew and the aircrew team, coordinating time lines on when gear and personnel need to be loaded and offloaded," said Galima. "Whenever there are flight operations and personnel need to be transported, we manifest them onto the helicopters."

During a standard Western Pacific deployment, there are 18-20 Marines assigned to Combat Cargo operations on an amphibious ship like Cleveland, but there are only four for PP11.

"We have a smaller crew than normal for this deployment in the Combat Cargo department, but we do an excellent job nonetheless," said Cpl. Juan Rodriguez. "We work together to get the job done."

For Cleveland's final mission, the four-Marine team is responsible for transporting more than 800 people a day, as well as moving several trucks and heavy vehicles. As the last Combat Cargo team for Cleveland, they exemplify interoperability as the only Marines who are part of the ship's crew.

With Marines in tow, Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance mission sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. It is aimed at improving interoperability between host and partner nations, from Tonga to Australia. Now in its sixth year, the mission will continue to Timor-Leste and the Federated States of Micronesia following their stop in Papua New Guinea.

Navy.mil

RoK: Choi Young (destroyer) returns home with glory

Choi Young, a destroyer belonging to the Cheonghae Unit's 6th contingent, Korea's anti-piracy Naval force, returned to port in Busan on May 27 after completing its six-month mission near the Gulf of Aden.

Some 2,000 people, including the Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, Naval chief of staff Adm. Kim Sung-chan, other senior military officers and family members of crew members as well as Busan citizens, attended the welcoming ceremony, which began at 3 p.m. to greet sailors on board.

Choi Young, which sailed off to the Gulf of Aden from Busan port on Dec. 8 last year, conducted a total of 307 missions escorting commercial ships safely and 14 maritime security operations. Most of all, the unit rescued the Samho Jewelry on Jan. 21 on Somalian sea.

In addition, the unit helped Koreans living in Libya to evacuate from the country’s uprising this year.

RoK MoD

28 May 2011

General Dynamics Land Systems Australia Awarded Contract to Deliver Through Life Support for ASLAV, M1A1 and M88A2 Fleets


ADELAIDE, SA, Australia – General Dynamics Land Systems-Australia (GDLS-A), a business unitof General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada in London, Ontario, received a five year, AU$44.8m Through Life Support contract today. The contract also includes a one year phase-in period.

The Through Life Support services will deliver enhanced fleet availability of the Army’s ASLAV
wheeled armoured fighting vehicles, M1A1 Abrams tanks, and M88A2 Heavy Recovery vehicles.

Ongoing spare parts, repairs, maintenance and engineering tasks will be ordered as required throughthis integrated support contract. It also provides the opportunity for stronger relationships with theCommonwealth and local industry.

ASLAV

The contract will change the mechanisms and business processes between the Commonwealth and General Dynamics in Australia to improve efficiency, reduce costs and promote value. The contract also includes the implementation of a performance management framework for the services, which contributes toward the Commonwealth Strategic Reform Program (SRP). This provides the basis for awarding up to 15, one-year contract extensions based on performance. The low risk Through Life Support solution is founded on local and experienced capability; leveraging the full range of original equipment manufacturer engineering, technical support network and product service centres.

Gary Stewart, Managing Director of General Dynamics Land Systems - Australia, said the
performance-based contract provides an adaptable framework to ensure sustainable, dependable and high quality service delivery.

M1A1

“We have leveraged our extensive experience in implementing and executing performance-based support contracts for other customers, which has enabled us to incorporate attributes such as cost transparency, continuous improvement and application of lean initiatives,” Stewart said. “Our service delivery model is flexible, enabling effective change and ongoing service delivery in response to the Commonwealth’s constantly changing operational and support environments.”

Stewart added that the contract enables the repair, maintenance and upgrade of combat vehicle fleets to remain a strategic industry capability within Australia.


M88A2

“The long range focus of this program also presents the opportunity for Australian industry to
participate in General Dynamics’ global supply chain,” Stewart said. “We look forward to engaging with Australian companies as part of our design, manufacturing and sustainment transfer initiatives for this contract and other programs.”

More information about the company is available at http://www.gdlsaustralia.com/.

General Dynamics Land Systems Australia

First Airbus Military A330 MRTT leaves on delivery flight to Australia

The first Airbus Military A330 MRTT new generation tanker/transport for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has left Madrid at 10h00 local time on its ferry flight to Australia.

Designated the KC-30A in RAAF service, the aircraft is scheduled to arrive at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland on Monday 30 May, and to be formally handed over to the customer in the next few days.

On its ferry flight, the A330 MRTT is being flown by Airbus Military and RAAF crews, and will transit via McCarran (Nevada) and Hickam (Hawaii) in the USA.

The aircraft is the second converted by Qantas Defence Services in Brisbane, which was returned to Madrid for painting and finishing. It will be joined by the second aircraft for the RAAF in June, and two further aircraft later in the year. The fifth and final aircraft ordered by the RAAF, which arrived in Brisbane for conversion a few days ago, will be delivered next year.

The first Airbus Military A330 MRTT new generation tanker/transport
for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has left Madrid at
10h00 local time on its ferry flight to Australia (c) Airbus Military

The arrival of the aircraft at RAAF Amberley follows an extensive development and test programme for what is the world’s only certified and flying new generation tanker/transport aircraft. Civil Supplemental Type Certificate was obtained in March 2010, and the military certification in October.

In RAAF service the A330 MRTT will be equipped with two underwing refuelling pods, the fly-by-wire Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), and a Universal Aerial Refuelling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) enabling it to be refuelled from another tanker. It is powered by two General Electric CF6-80E engines. It is equipped with a comprehensive defensive aids suite (DAS) and fitted with 270 passenger seats.

About the A330 MRTT

Having received its supplemental type certificate from European civil certification Authority EASA in March 2010 and military certification from Spanish Authority INTA in October, the Airbus Military A330 MRTT is the only new generation strategic tanker/transport aircraft flying and available today. The large 111 tonnes/ 245,000 lb basic fuel capacity of the successful A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived, enables the A330 MRTT to excel in Air-to-Air Refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tank. The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven air-to-air refuelling systems including an advanced Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System, and/or a pair of under-wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a Fuselage Refuelling Unit.

Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC). To date, a total of 28 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by four customers (Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom), with Saudi Arabia having already placed a repeat order.

USA: Seventh Fleet Ships Sortie for Typhoon Songda

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan — Five ships forward deployed to Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka were ordered to sortie May 28 to avoid Typhoon Songda.

In anticipation of the storm’s projected arrival on early Monday morning on May 30, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Mustin (DDG 89) and USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) departed from Yokosuka.

Typhoon Songda is currently southwest of Okinawa with winds of 105 knots gusting to 130 knots, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) are both undergoing maintenance in Yokosuka and will remain in port.

Commander, Task Force 72 repositioned three P-3 Orion aircraft from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa to Misawa Air Base in northern Honshu after Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness (TCCOR) 1 was declared. Commander, Task Force 76, usually headquartered at White Beach in Okinawa, temporarily shifted its operations to Kadena Air Base.

Ships in Sasebo, Japan, are being closely monitored, but are not expected to sortie as sustained winds are forecast to remain below gale force.

Several ships at sea also adjusted their tracks to remain clear of the storm.

There are 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft and more than 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel assigned to the 7th Fleet. This includes forces operating from bases in Japan and Guam and rotationally-deployed forces based in the United States. Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, is embarked aboard the command flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.


US Pacific Fleet

USA: ‘Empire Challenge’ Promotes Intelligence Interoperability

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, May 27, 2011 – A handheld device that would give new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to warfighters and an airframe equipped with “plug and play” sensors are among new technologies being tested during U.S. Joint Forces Command’s Empire Challenge 2011 demonstration.

The demonstration kicked off May 23 and continues through June 3, bringing together more than 2,000 participants worldwide in a live, joint and coalition ISR interoperability demonstration, John Kittle, Empire Challenge project manager, told reporters yesterday.

The annual exercise showcases emerging technologies and provides lessons learned to improve intelligence collection and analysis and test better ways to get it out to warfighters who need it.

The demonstration’s three priority objectives focus on interoperability between the services’ distributed common ground systems and between U.S. and coalition partners, and in incorporating new and emerging sensors, Kittle explained.

Participants from the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and NATO are working together on those objectives during Empire Challenge. Almost half of them are on the ground at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., where teams from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia are operating alongside other multinational partners among mountains, canyons and vegetation that closely resemble conditions in Afghanistan.

“This year, we’ve spread everything out in order to replicate the operating environment in Afghanistan, providing a more realistic setting which drives realistic results,” said Air Force Col. Joe McDonald, Joint Forces Command’s Joint Intelligence Operations Center ISR integration, experimentation and systems integration chief.

The activities and scenarios are ramping up, Kittle said. “We are fully functional with all of our networks and all of our systems,” he added. “Lots of aircraft are flying, lots of ground sensors are working, lots of aerostats are out here collecting all of that information that we are hoping to share among our partners.”

As “blue” and “opposing” forces on the ground conduct scenarios based on case studies directly out of Afghanistan, they’re supported by a broad range of ground and airborne intelligence-gathering platforms.

These include aerostats, Cessna Caravan aircraft, E-8 joint surveillance target attack radar systems, EC-130H Compass Call airborne tactical weapon systems, FASTCOM Navion aircraft, Firebird optionally piloted system, Proxy Skyraider advanced heavy payload manned aircraft, RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles, ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems, U-2 Dragon Lady high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and Desert Hawk unmanned aerial system.

Throughout the demonstration, the participants will test more than 30 capabilities with a focus on improving multinational interoperability and data sharing.

Among them is the Army’s new “Relevant ISR to the Edge” or RITE, system. This handheld device is equipped with various applications designed to bring intelligence directly to troops at the brigade combat team level and below.

“This is what that program is really trying to get at: getting tactically relevant information to a soldier at the leading edge in a hand-held device,” Kittle said.

Another promising new technology is based on a commercial “Firebird” airframe that can operate either as an unmanned drone or a piloted aircraft. What’s particularly exciting, Kittle said, is its system architecture that enables users to switch out different sensors or combinations of highly capable sensors in as little as 20 minutes.

While putting these and other technologies to the test under realistic conditions, McDonald said a major objective of Empire Challenge will be to ensure capabilities live up to their promises.

“There’s nothing like a capability arriving in theater that says it will do A, B and C; however, in the field they realize it does A and B, but C it doesn’t do at all,” he said. “We don’t want to leave young soldiers in the field trying to figure out how to make things work. We need to deliver capabilities that do what they say they do.”

As the training tempo picks up at Fort Huachuca, live operations also are taking place at Camp Lejeune, N.C. There, the Army Research Lab and participating riverine assets will test the use of a networked sensor array deployed in a maritime littoral environment to support maritime surveillance, targeting, counterdrug and counterpiracy operations.

Additionally, computer modeling and simulation and analysis is under way at Joint Forces Command’s Joint Intelligence Lab in Suffolk, Va.; the Combined Air Operations Center-Experimental at Langley Air Force Base, Va.; each service’s distributed common ground or surface system laboratories; and coalition sites in Canada and the United Kingdom.

Intelligence collected at Fort Huachuca or generated through computer modeling and simulation is fed to analysts at participating sites, who turn it around as quickly as possible.

Several days into the demonstration, Kittle reported he’s seeing promising signs that Empire Challenge is promoting data-sharing among coalition partners and ensuring new technologies are designed with interoperability in mind.

“As things start to be developed and integrated into the military services, we try to ensure that the information they produce is interoperable with all those other systems and that those systems can mature and hopefully be fielded in the short amount of time,” he said.

A broad range of U.S. organizations and agencies are supporting this year’s Empire Challenge. They include the office of the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, the Joint Staff Intelligence Directorate, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the National Security Agency, the services and U.S. Special Operations Command.

US DoD

USA: Clinton, Mullen Meet With Pakistani Leaders

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service


WASHINGTON, May 27, 2011 – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen met with Pakistani leaders today in an effort to shore up relations between the United States and Pakistan.

Clinton and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and Intelligence Chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Pasha.

Clinton described the meetings as “very extensive, open, frank and constructive discussions.” The relationship has been strained by the U.S. operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden on May 1.

Mullen stressed “the criticality” of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States, of the shared sense of urgency that leaders in both nations feel and of moving the relationship forward.

“I think we all realize the challenges under which this relationship now labors, but now is not the time for retreat or for recrimination,” the chairman said during a news conference at the U.S. embassy. “Now is the time for action and closer coordination -- for more cooperation, not less [and] for the friendship to get stronger, not weaker.”

Clinton said the visit comes at an important time because bin Laden’s death marks a turning point in the struggle against extremists.

“Osama bin Laden is dead, but al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror remain a serious threat to us both,” she said. “There is momentum toward political reconciliation in Afghanistan, but the insurgency continues to operate from safe havens here in Pakistan.”

The United States has been clear and consistent about its expectations in the relationship with Pakistan, the secretary said. She said both countries want to defeat violent extremism, end the conflict in Afghanistan and ensure a secure, stable, democratic, prosperous future for Pakistan. “We expect to work closely with the government and the people of Pakistan to achieve those ends,” she said.

Many terrorists have sought refuge in Pakistan and have used the country as a planning center, the secretary noted. “From here, they have targeted innocent people all over the world -- in Pakistan, Afghanistan and far beyond,” Clinton said. “But no nation has sacrificed more lives in this struggle against violent extremism than Pakistan has. Extremists have killed women and children, blown up mosques and markets, and shown no regard for human life or dignity.”

The United States and Pakistan have worked together to take on these terrorists, Clinton said, and the governments and militaries have cooperated and shared intelligence often.

“Today, we discussed in even greater detail cooperation to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida, and to drive them from Pakistan and the region,” the secretary said. “We will do our part and we look to the government of Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead. Joint action against al-Qaida and its affiliates will make Pakistan, America and the world safer and more secure.”

Clinton stressed there is absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest levels of the Pakistani government knew Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad.

Pakistan has an interest in a safe, stable Afghanistan, and the United States and Pakistan must work together to achieve that goal, Clinton said, adding that the United States is working with Afghanistan to split the Taliban from al-Qaida and reconcile insurgents who meet certain criteria.

“Today, we discussed Pakistan’s perspective on Afghanistan and how it can support the international community’s efforts there,” Clinton said. “We look forward to putting those words into action and seeing momentum toward a political resolution.”

Bin Laden’s death has caused terrorists to lash out in Pakistan, and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban continue to collude with al-Qaida, the chairman said.

“To be sure, these groups are weaker -- much weaker -- and not just as a result of this raid, but as a result of the extraordinary efforts expended by both coalition forces and the Pakistani military over the last several years,” Mullen said. “There is a much larger struggle afoot, and I would be remiss if I did not applaud the bravery and the skill with which Pakistani troops have engaged the enemy in that struggle, losing thousands of their number in the process.”

The fight must continue, and Pakistani and American service members must continue to cooperate, Mullen said.

“For our part, my military took many risks going after bin Laden, risks to the lives of our men and women in uniform, risks to civilian causalities and to collateral damage,” Mullen said. “We took the risk of being wrong about what we thought we knew of the killer’s whereabouts. And yes, in our desire to preserve secrecy, we incurred a certain risk in our relationships with other nations in the region.

“But this particular relationship with Pakistan is too critical,” he added, “and now is too critical a time to allow whatever differences we may still have with one another impede the progress we must still make together.”

The chairman acknowledged that he realizes U.S. and Pakistani service members must continue to build trust -- trust that has been tested by the bin Laden raid.

“But I do leave here with a sense that General Kayani and other Pakistani military leaders share my commitment to that task and share my desire to look for ways to advance the relationship,” he said. “There’s no better time for that sort of partnership than right now.”

US DoD

India: Naval Commanders Conference Concludes

Emphasis on Being 'Ready Today and Prepared for Tomorrow'

The Naval Commander's Conference which commenced on 24th May concluded today after fruitful deliberations over four days. The Chief of Naval Staff took stock of various aspects involving acquistions, operations, personnel and logistics in the presence of senior leadership of the Indian Navy.

One of the focus areas during the conference was the prevailing security environment and the need to ensure that naval units are kept at the highest state of readiness to meet unforeseen challenges. To ensure this Commanders were directed that training of personnel and honing of their skills be closely monitored for execution of the tasks assigned with the highest level of professionalism.

While reviewing the acquisition plans of the Indian Navy, stress was laid on close monitoring of ongoing projects to ensure timely completion and prevent cost over runs. Attention was also drawn to timely fruition of infrastructure development associated with operationalisation of new inductions and projects already approved by the Government, particularly, Operational Turn Round bases in A&N Islands, Forward Operating Base at Tuticorin and Naval Air Enclaves.

With regard to utilising budgetary allocations, the CNS stressed that capital expenditure be evenly spread throughout the year and fiscal prudence be exercised in respect of revenue expenditure.

Various aspects of the induction and fleet integration of 'Vikramaditya' along with its air element of MiG 29 K fighters was also discussed. The training and infrastructural preparations to operate this and other transformational assets were also reviewed.

In the course of the four day conference the Defence Ministeer had addressed the Naval Commanders on 25 May laying out the higher directives and in keeping with the practice of sharing inter service perceptions on matters of security, the Chief of Army Staff also addressed the gathering on the same day.


Indian Press Information Bureau

27 May 2011

AUS: Update on 23rd May Special Forces incident in Middle East

Defence has commenced planning for the repatriation of Sergeant Brett Wood to Australia.

No firm date has been set as yet but it is likely that he will arrive home next week.

A memorial service and ramp ceremony will be held in Tarin Kot to honour Sergeant Wood before he is flown to the Australian national headquarters in the United Arab Emirates and transferred to a C-17-A Globemaster aircraft to commence his journey home.
  
The two soldiers who were wounded in the dismounted improvised explosive device blast that killed Sergeant Wood have been under continual care by medical specialists since being wounded.

There has been a significant improvement in their medical condition with one of the soldiers being transferred from the ISAF medical facility in Kandahar to Multi National Base Tarin Kot last night. The condition of this second soldier now allows him to be managed as an out-patient.

The soldier remaining at Kandahar is also in a satisfactory and stable condition and he is also expected to return to Tarin Kot today.

The three other soldiers wounded in a separate small arms fire incident on Monday, 23 May 2011 were transferred to the ISAF medical facility in Kandahar that evening and transferred to the ISAF medical facility at Multi-National Base Tarin Kot on Tuesday, 24 May 2011. All are in a stable condition and are being managed as out-patients in Tarin Kot. 

AUS: Changes to Air Warfare Destroyer Construction Program

The Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and the Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced the reallocation of construction work for the $8 billion Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) Project.

Australia is constructing three AWDs based on a proven design from the Spanish Navy.  The ships are due to be delivered from December 2014.  When complete, the AWD will be one of the more capable types of warship of its size in the world.

F100 AAW Frigate (Spain)

The AWD Project is an important element of Force 2030.  The Government and Defence have been actively working with Defence Industry and the AWD Alliance, which is managing the AWD project, to deliver the project.  The AWD Alliance consists of ASC, the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) and Raytheon.

Construction of the AWDs involves 90 separate steel blocks being built at three shipyards in Adelaide (ASC), Melbourne (BAE Systems) and Newcastle (Forgacs).  Three additional sonar block assemblies are being built in Spain and the United Kingdom.

The Melbourne BAE Systems shipyard is also building 14 steel blocks for the superstructure of two new 27,500 tonne Landing Helicopter Dock ships (LHDs) due for delivery in 2014 and 2015.

Juan Carlos 1 class LHD (Spain)

Last year the project encountered difficulties in relation to engineering and construction of some of the first AWD hull blocks.  To assist the AWD project schedule, earlier this year the AWD Alliance reallocated construction of nine steel blocks from BAE Systems in Melbourne to the Forgacs shipyard in Newcastle.

The Melbourne BAE Systems shipyard remains stretched, working on two major projects at the same time – steel blocks for the Air Warfare Destroyers and the superstructure and integration of the Landing Helicopter Dock Ships.

The Government, the AWD Alliance and BAE Systems take the schedule for both these important projects extremely seriously.

In February 2011, BAE Systems advised the AWD Alliance of potential schedule delays.  Over the last few months, the AWD Alliance and BAE Systems have been working closely to develop options to improve the production program. 

In March, the Minister for Defence met with Guy Griffiths, the Group Managing Director - International of BAE Systems UK, in London to discuss this project.

The Minister for Defence Materiel has also met with the CEO of BAE Australia, Jim McDowell, on a number of occasions about this project.

Earlier this month BAE Systems presented the AWD Alliance with a plan to adjust its workload on the AWD Project.

The advice of the AWD Alliance is that if no action is taken to relieve the pressure on the Melbourne BAE Systems shipyard the first ship would be two years late, approximately 25 per cent over schedule.

The AWD Alliance (with the support of BAE Systems) therefore proposes to take the following action:

Up to 13 steel blocks will be reallocated among the three Australian shipyards in Adelaide, Melbourne and Newcastle – seven for advanced fit out and six for construction; and
Up to five steel blocks will be reallocated to Navantia in Ferrol, Spain.

These changes involve the reallocation of blocks for the first two ships only and are subject in the usual way to satisfactory commercial arrangements with the shipyards.

BAE will complete the structural steel and initial outfitting work on the seven steel blocks it is currently working on, as well as all its work on the 14 blocks for the superstructure of the Landing Helicopter Dock Ships and the integration work.

A decision on the reallocation of blocks, if any, on the third AWD will be made later in the project.

This action will reduce the schedule risk to both this project and to the LHD ships project.

The AWD Alliance has advised that this action will reduce the delay of the completion of Ship 1 by up to 12 months, and of all three AWDs by up to 12 months.

It will also reduce the pressure on BAE Systems to complete the construction of the superstructure and the integration of Australia’s two new LHD ships.

Defence will plan its comprehensive options to manage the transition from the current Adelaide Class frigates to the AWDs taking into account the agreed reallocation of blocks.

 

AUS: HMAS Manoora retired as Navy’s future beckons

After 17 years of dedicated service, the Royal Australian Navy’s amphibious transport ship, HMAS Manoora, was decommissioned at her homeport of Garden Island, in Sydney, today.

Following a time honoured tradition, the Australian White Ensign was lowered for the last time and handed to Commanding Officer, Commander Stephen Dryden, RAN.

Commander Dryden said Decommissioning the vessel was a bitter sweet moment.



“It is always sad to farewell a ship like Manoora, which has provided significant amphibious capability to the Australian Defence Force over her many years of service,” said Commander Dryden.

“Manoora has proven herself to be versatile and resilient, supporting humanitarian aid and disaster missions in the Solomon Islands and East Timor and undertaking active service in the Middle East as part of Operations Slipper and Falconer.”



“Her hard work has paved the way for the future of the Navy by providing an understanding of how to carry out amphibious and expeditionary warfare,” said Commander Dryden.

“Today it is also important to acknowledge the hard work of the current and former crews who have called Manoora home. Their dedication has enabled the platform to respond to situations in war and peace, whenever tasked by Government to do so.”




Manoora is a helicopter capable amphibious transport ship with a 40 bed hospital, which has seen an army contingent embedded as part of her crew.

AUS DoD

NZ: Naval combat force ship returns home

After a four month overseas deployment, warship HMNZS TE KAHA will arrive home at the Devonport Naval Base on Monday 30 May 2011 to awaiting friends and family. 

This deployment has seen TE KAHA and her sister ship TE MANA take part in Exercise TRITON STORM in Australia off the West Coast of Australia, port visits to Singapore and participation in  Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD in the South China Sea that tested the Navy’s military capability and strengthened regional security and diplomatic links.

“This deployment has been invaluable to the training and experience of TE KAHA’s crew. We have worked hard and proven ourselves as a combat force that contributes to a stable international environment in the Pacific and wider region” said Commander Jon Beadsmoore, the Commanding Officer of TE KAHA.

“Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD tested the crews capabilities under intense and challenging conditions. We were coming under simulated attack from ships and aircraft which gave us the opportunity to test our combat systems and people in realistic circumstances and we held our own.”

The multi-national Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD involves a variety of air and land-based support elements from New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom as part of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.

Upon her return, TE KAHA will enter a scheduled maintenance period while TE MANA continues on Defence diplomacy tasking in South East Asia until late June 2011.

RNZN

NZ: Kiwis return from 6 month deployment to Timor-Leste

Sixty seven NZ Defence Force personnel arrived back in Christchurch after completing a six month deployment supporting the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force (ISF) in Timor-Leste.

The contingent, made up mostly of personnel from 2nd/1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (2/1 RNZIR) and supporting units, have returned to a city significantly changed following February’s earthquake.

Major Ian Lattimore, Officer Commanding the contingent, said Defence Force personnel put duty first as they soldiered on to help the people of Timor-Leste despite their own concerns about home and loved ones.

“As the news flooded in of the extent of the human and property losses, the contingent wished they could be home near loved ones and to help the massive Defence Force efforts in support of their people. The majority of the contingent deployed from Burnham and have family in Canterbury, and this only added to the feelings of distance and a desperate wish to help. 

"In true ANZAC fashion of duty first, and after ensuring their nearest and dearest were safe, our personnel realised they still had a job to do in Timor-Leste. We pulled together to help each other and the people of Canterbury as best we could, holding support activities such as prayer services and fundraising. Along with the eager help of our Aussie comrades, we raised over $US7000.00 for the relief fund.”

During their six month tour, the Kiwi contingent conducted patrols throughout Timor-Leste to engage with the local population and report their security, economic and health concerns.

“The contingent worked very well with the locals, the Kiwi uniforms were universally welcomed. Many of the people here remember with deep gratitude the help and sacrifice of NZ Defence Force personnel who protected and assisted them through more troubled times.

“To be greeted by locals in remote mountain villages with a ‘Kia Ora’ greeting, and a friendly wave is a moving tribute indeed,” said Major Lattimore.

The improved security situation in Timor-Leste has allowed the International Stabilisation Force to evolve from a security and stabilisation role to supporting the capacity building of the Falintil-For├žas de Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL, the Timor-Leste Defence Force).

“Timor-Leste has moved on considerably from its history of violence and it now remains relatively quiet as it works to build a stable independent nation with the assistance of neighbours like Australia and New Zealand.

“The fact that the country remains calm after many years of strife is testimony itself to the professional job many ANZACs have and continue to do here. New Zealanders have a right to be proud of their service to help the people of Timor-Leste” added Major Lattimore.

NZ Army