ORZYSZ, Poland — For the second time this year, the 2d Cavalry Regiment deployed a Squadron of soldiers to the Battle Group Poland in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s enhanced Forward Presence initiative. The 2nd Sqdn., 2CR deployed to the BGP in March 2017 and will be replaced by the 3rd Sqdn., 2CR later this month.
The Wolfpack Sqdn. began their forward deployment from Rose Barracks, Germany to Orzysz, Poland, Oct. 9, 2017. The Sqdn. traveled in two serials along separate routes along with the British Army Light Dragoons Element.
Along the route, refuel on the move sights were identified for the convoy element to stop. These sights allowed for the soldiers to refuel their assigned vehicles, conduct maintenance operations and reset for the remainder of the drive.
“My mission today is to ensure that all military vehicles get put where they are needed at each stop,” said Spc. Adan Castillo, 3/2CR ROM site road guard. “The first chalk comes in, they pull up and I ground guide them to where they need to go so the military vehicles can fuel up and do whatever they need to do.”
Each night, the Wolfpack Sqdn. stopped at an identified rest over night point. These locations were selected through coordination with the NATO Forces Integration Unit and ensured the soldiers met the required amount of rest hours before continuing on to their next assigned RON sight.
En route to their final destination, soldiers from Lightning Troop, 3/2CR stopped in Bydgoszcz, Poland to participate in NATO Day with the local community, Oct. 14. The engagement team provided static displays of weapon systems and military vehicles. The soldiers had the opportunity to interact with the local community throughout the day.
“We are just training here in Poland to show our support for the Polish military, show them how we train and just to support NATO and NATO efforts while we’re here,” said Capt. Russell Tabolt, Lightning Troop, 3/2CR commander.
The following day, soldiers from the Kronos Troop, 3/2CR, provided similar displays for the community of Elblag, Poland. In addition to seeing the inside of the Strykers and interacting with the American soldiers, children were able to have their faces camouflaged throughout the event.
“Our Squadron was tasked to maintain the [Battle Group] Poland and our task for the next months is to establish and continue training with our multinational coalition partners,” said Capt. Yevgen Gutman, Kronos Troop, 3/2CR commander.
After more than 1,100 kilometers of travel, the Wolfpack Sqdn. arrived to the Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Oct. 15.
“Our formation, which includes soldiers from Croatia, Romania, the United Kingdom, as well as soldiers from the United States, will show [sic.] the opportunity for us to highlight our NATO resolve and the NATO alliance,” said Lt. Col. Scott Cheney, the incoming BGP commander.
Cheney will assume command of the battle group from Lt. Col. Christopher L’Heureux during the transfer of authority scheduled for Oct. 20, 2017.
Collaborating under an Integrated Program Office (IPO), the US Navy and Coast Guard released a draft request for proposal (RFP) for the detail design and construction of a Heavy Polar Icebreaker (HPIB).
Released on October 19, the draft RFP is for one HPIB, with options for two additional HPIBs.
The USCG requires new heavy icebreakers to ensure continued access to both polar regions and support the country’s economic, commercial, maritime and national security needs.
The draft RFP is for comments, questions, and planning purposes and is provided as an advance notice to ease proposal lead time and assist teaming arrangements, if applicable.
Responses to the draft RFP are due Dec. 11 and will support release of the final RFP early next year.
The Coast Guard plans to award a single contract for design and construction of the lead heavy polar icebreaker in fiscal year 2019.
Release of the draft RFP represents the IPO’s latest effort to refine requirements and reduce acquisition costs for the HPIB procurement. Earlier this year the USCG awarded five firm-fixed price contracts for early design studies and analysis and conducted model testing with the National Research Council of Canada and the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division.
The contracting agency is the Naval Sea Systems Command.
Thanks to cooperation with the US, special operational capability of the Latvian National Armed Forces has reached a very high quality, said Latvia’s Chief of Defense Leonids Kalnins during his meeting with commander of the United States Army Special Operations Command in Europe Kenneth Tovo.
The Latvian Defense Ministry reported that the officials discussed regional security issues, US support to Latvia under the Atlantic Resolve operation, and Latvian-US cooperation in military exercises.
“Special operational capability of the Latvian National Armed Forces has reached a very high quality, and it ha been done largely thanks to the excellent cooperation with the US.
Today’s challenges make us intensity development of special capabilities and deepen cooperation with the US. Highly qualified US specialists with huge experience in crisis regions offer significant contribution to the growth of the Latvian army.
Also, Latvian troops share their experience, therefore there are winners on both sides,” said Kalnins.
Tovo underscored that Latvia is a loyal NATO member state and a significant US ally. “Our troops shoulder by shoulder served in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Permanent presence of the US special troops in Latvia and the Baltic states since 2014 is a proof of our resolution to deter any aggression against our allies and the Alliance,” he said.
Next year will be called “the year of integration,” where the U.S. will work even harder to improve interoperability with all NATO allies as well as with other partners such as Sweden and Finland, said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges.
The commander of U.S. Army Europe said 2017 has been a “year of implementation,” meaning initiating rotational armored brigade combat teams and combat aviation brigades, emplacing Army preposition stocks, and standing up an enhanced forward-presence battle group in Poland.
That implementation was a direct result of decisions reached by NATO at the 2016 Warsaw Summit, which was in essence a transition from assuring allies to deterring would-be aggressors, he said.
Hodges and three European allies spoke at a press briefing at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, Oct. 11.
Besides working on interoperability, Hodges said “we will continue to learn from the massive Zapad exercises” just completed by the Russians in Belarus. “Some things will take us a few months as we continue to study the forensics.”
Other lessons already gleaned are that improved intelligence sharing with NATO and other partners helped the alliance to better understand the Zapad exercises.
“It’s the best I’ve seen in years in terms of intelligence sharing,” he said. “We were all focused on trying to understand the Zapad exercises. People had their eyes wide open.”
Hodges said there are three things that need to be more interoperable among allies in Europe.
First is secure, tactical FM radios at the company and battalion level. At that level, he said, there’s a lot of interdependence. Also, he said, radios at that level must be able to operate effectively inside a “real nasty” cyber or electronic warfare environment that allies “might face in the Baltics or Poland, for example.”
Second, the common operating picture, or COP, must be truly “common.” No matter who manufactures a device, there must be seamless information sharing among allies, he said. Blue-force tracking is one example of what a COP can share, he said.
Third is digital fires, he said, providing an example of getting into a counter-fire situation, where the radar from one country should still be able to relay the mission digitally to the fire direction center and then onto the guns to do the counter-fire.
“If you can’t do that in a very short amount of time, then you’re never going to be able to strike back at who’s shooting at you,” Hodges said.
Dynamic Front is an exercise that will be begin in February at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, Germany, he said, where several nations using 100 different firing systems will focus on making them interoperable.
The Army is also honing its interoperability with allies during current exercise Swift Response 17-2, taking place Oct. 2-20 in Hohenfels, Germany, and including more than 7,000 participants from Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
SHARING THE LOAD
Hodges said that there are many times that the U.S. must rely on European partners for capabilities that it lacks. He provided some examples.
The Army depends on Romania, the United Kingdom and Germany to provide bridging capability, and their bridges have been used a number of times for river crossings, he said.
Also, the Army doesn’t have much in the way of short-range air defense. Romania is one of the countries providing that, he noted.
The Army is also leasing British heavy equipment transports to move tanks on European highways, he said.
Lt. Gen. Leo Beulen, commander, Royal Netherlands Army said that unfortunately, his nation’s defense budget was slashed in 2011 and the army was forced to sell off all of their Leopard main battle tanks to Finland and Canada, “not that we didn’t need them anymore, but because we had to find the money.”
With changes in the world since then, the Netherlands needs them badly, he said.
“Now we find cooperation with Germany, where we have a German battalion of Leopard 2 tanks, [embedded in] a Dutch company that is operating within a Netherlands brigade,” he said. “So together with Germany, we could restore the main battle tank capacity.”
Another example of where the Netherlands contributes to the collective security, he said, is providing protection with its Patriot air defense system. The Netherlands is one of the few countries in Europe that has them.
Maj. Gen. Karl Engelbrektson, Swedish Army chief of staff, said there are niche capabilities partners can bring. For instance, Sweden provides other nations with artillery-locating radar, ground-based air defense radar and smart munitions, among others.
He framed cooperation in terms of economics as well as security, particularly after the Russian invasion of Crimea.
Although Sweden is not a member of NATO, “it is not a neutral country,” he said. “We are military non-aligned. But, we adhere to NATO’s principles of military business because we believe that we need to do things together. … So for us it’s logic that we have to deploy troops far from home to be part of securing the world order and the values we live for.”
Last month, Sweden hosted an exercise with 20,000 troops from NATO and European partners, he said. During exercises such as this, “we learned that we can learn from each other. For example, there are some tactical things we developed living close to Russia in similar terrain and climate.”
Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, general commander of the Polish Armed Forces, said his nation has increased its military budget to contribute more to the collective defense of Europe.
Hodges was asked if he’d prefer Army aviation to be permanently stationed in Europe.
“I would prefer to have Army aviation permanently stationed in Europe, as opposed to rotational units,” he said. “Rotational aviation is expensive, and I worry that at some point the Army [will say] ‘I can’t keep this up.’ If [European Reassurance Initiative] money dries up or we get less of it, it becomes more difficult for the Army to fund.”
On the other hand, Hodges said, “I like rotational forces because I can do more with them and they’re here for nine months, like the armored brigade. Their opstempo is three times what it is back at home station, so you get a lot of strategic effect.”
Regarding ground forces, Hodges said he’s pleased with U.S. Stryker capability in Europe, in that they can be fitted with the 30mm cannon, Javelin missiles, and counter-unmanned aerial vehicle systems. Additionally, he said, they can also navigate the highways. Tanks, while essential, have to be transported by rail or heavy equipment transporters, so they’re less visible to the populace, restricted to the training areas.
Europe’s premier integrated air and missile defense drill Formidable Shield concluded October 17 with ally ships engaging a supersonic target off the coast of Scotland.
The US Navy-led exercise began September 24 and saw the participation of warships from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and US.
During the closing collective self-defense scenario, Dutch frigate HNLMS Tromp (F803) fired a Standard Missile (SM) 2 and an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) against the supersonic target.
U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, were designated as “opposition forces” and fired the supersonic target during this exercise scenario.
The two missiles fired against the supersonic target Oct. 17 occurred during the third live-fire event of FS17. During FS17, four nations conducted a total of 11 successful missile launches.
During the first live-fire event Oct. 7, the Canadian frigate HMCS Montreal (FFH 336) fired three Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) fired two SM-2s at four incoming anti-ship cruise missiles.
The second live-fire event took place on Oct. 15, with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) firing one SM-3 Block IB guided missile against a medium-range ballistic missile target. Also on Oct. 15, the Spanish frigate SPS Alvaro de Bazan (F101) fired one ESSM against an incoming anti-ship cruise missile while Tromp fired two ESSMs against a pair of incoming anti-ship cruise missiles.
Notable ‘firsts’ that occurred during FS17 include: the first time NATO’s smart defense concept was demonstrated with ships serving as air defense units protecting naval ballistic missile defense units; the first no-notice launch of anti-ship cruise missiles as part of an IAMD scenario; and the first time a NATO IAMD task group was exercised at sea.
In order to increase military capabilities, the Swedish Armed Forces conducted Exercise Aurora 17 in September. It was a national exercise that built a stronger defence and increased the overall capability of the armed forces in the face of an attack on Sweden.
The overarching mission of the Swedish Armed Forces is to defend the country´s interests, our freedom and the right to live as a free and democratic people.
Deterrence lies at the core of a strong defence, one that rises to all threats and overcomes all challenges. It is designed to deter potential attackers, and force them to carefully consider the risks of attacking our country. For a deterrent to be effective, it needs to be credible and visible. Through frequent and extensive training and exercise, especially with other defence forces, Sweden is strengthening its deterrence effect and increases our defensive capabilities.
Aurora 17 was conducted in the air, on land and at sea. Units from all over Sweden were involved, but the main exercise areas were the Mälardalen and Stockholm areas, on and around Gotland, and the Gothenburg area.
The Exercise contributed to the development of Sweden’s total defence capabilities. 40 other agencies will participated in the exercise. In addition, in order to have as good an exercise as possible, and at the same time exercise Sweden’s defence capability against a larger, sophisticated opponent, other countries have been invited to participate in Aurora 17. This video demonstrates that concept with the United States Marine Corps acting as the ‘opponents’ using Russian RPGs in a simulated anti-tank attack exercise against Swedish ‘Blue’ forces.
CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft from U.S. Special Operations Command Europe participated in Exercise Aurora 17, the largest military exercise in Sweden over the last 20 years. More than 19,000 personnel from Sweden participated in the exercise alongside an estimated 1,500 personnel from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, and the United States. Filmed out of Satenas Airbase, Sweden in September, 2017.
The US Navy has christened its 17th Virginia-class attack submarine, the future USS South Dakota (SSN 790).
The christening ceremony took place at General Dynamics Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut on Saturday, October 14.
South Dakota, a Virginia-class submarine designated SSN 790, is the third ship to bear the state’s name. The second ship was a battleship that stood as the lead ship of her class and earned 13 battle stars during her extensive service in the Pacific theater during World War II.
The ship began construction in 2013 and is contracted to deliver in August 2018. South Dakota will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea superiority well into the 21st century.
“Today’s christening of South Dakota brings this submarine one step closer to joining our strong fleet,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “For decades to come, this boat and the Sailors who will serve on it will stand as a tribute to the patriotic people of South Dakota and a testament to the value of the partnership between the Department of the Navy and our industry teammates.”
Last week, on October 8, the US Navy commissioned Huntington Ingalls Industries-built USS Washington, the 14th boat in the class.
Another day and another article about Boeing’s dispute with Bombardier and the Canadian government.
As readers are well aware, Boeing complained earlier this year to the U.S. about what it has labelled as subsidies provided to Bombardier by Canadian governments. As a result, the Trump administration has hit the Canadian company with a penalty of almost 300 per cent in duties on its C-Series civilian passenger aircraft.
In an article today about the ongoing dispute I had this line near the end of the story: “Boeing’s critics point out it receives billions of dollars of subsidies from the U.S. government.”
That has prompted a rebuke from Boeing spokesman Scott Day, who accused me of “spreading false information.”
According to Boeing it hasn’t received any subsidies. Day noted that, “U.S. Export-Import Bank financing does not go to Boeing. Boeing doesn’t receive a single penny in funds or financing from the Export-Import Bank.”
He also added that “the World Trade Organization has dismissed the vast majority of subsidy claims against Boeing.”
For starters, reporting accurately what Boeing’s critics are saying isn’t “spreading false information.”
Boeing’s critics, both in Canada and around the world, have indeed repeatedly pointed out that the company receives billions of dollars of subsidies from U.S. governments at the federal, municipal and state levels.
The U.S. watchdog group Good Jobs First has continually reported on the billions of dollars that it says Boeing receives in government subsidies. In 2015, the St. Louis Business Journal, citing a Good Jobs First study, noted that Boeing is the nation’s largest winner of state and local tax incentives, receiving in excess of $13 billion U.S.. Most of that was related to Boeing’s commercial aircraft manufacturing, the newspaper noted.
In the article, I also quoted Marc Allen, Boeing’s president of international business, who stated the company took its action against Bombardier to ensure a level playing field in the aerospace industry and Boeing believes that global trade only works if everyone plays by the same rules.
Boeing’s critics say that isn’t true and Boeing is really out to destroy it competitor Bombardier and significantly hurt Canada’s aerospace industry. They too could accuse me of “spreading false information” by reporting on Boeing’s view, although they haven’t yet. Maybe that email is to come.
Interestingly, Day’s email arrived just as Bloomberg TV was reporting that the United Kingdom’s Labour Party has now labelled Boeing the “king of corporate welfare.”
Labour’s trade spokesman Barry Gardiner accused the U.S. aerospace giant of “egregious hypocrisy” in pursuing the illegal-subsidies claim against Bombardier Inc.
Boeing has been denounced by many in the UK government and opposition MPs for putting thousands of UK jobs at risk with its action (the wings for C-Series aircraft are built in Northern Ireland).
Gardiner told Bloomberg that “no aircraft these days comes to market without support from government,” including those produced by Boeing.
“Boeing has absolutely been sucking at the milk of corporate welfare in America for far too long,” Gardiner said on Bloomberg TV. “They need to understand that the way in which they are playing this does not sit well with U.K. parliamentarians.”
But according to Boeing executives the 300 per cent duty now tacked on to Bombardier aircraft being sold in the U.S. is about all about “following trade rules” and not about punishing its competitors. “This trade case is about fairness,” Day noted. “Taking government subsidies and using them to offer below-production-cost pricing on aircraft is a violation in the U.S., and the laws are well-known.”
Both sides have their view.
But it is becoming clearer now that Boeing’s actions could have serious consequences in its ability to sell defence related products to Canada and the United Kingdom.
Government officials in both countries have suggested that is the case.
Whether that comes about still has to be seen though.
More than 3,500 troops will participate in Silver Arrow 2017 international military drill held in Latvia – Adazi, Ape, Gulbene and Aluksne regions – on October 16- 29, the Latvian Defense Ministry reported.
Countries participating in the drill include Albania, the US, Estonia, Italy, Canada, Latvia, the UK, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Germany. Also about 200 home guards and 30 reserve troops will participate in the exercise.
The goal of the drill is to improve cooperation of the National Armed Forces with the allies, train the ability of units to plan and conduct defense operations, the ministry said.
Alongside, National Armed Forces mobilization drills and reserve troops exercise will be held.
The ministry reminded that initially Silver Arrow was a national military exercise, but since 2014 it has growing into an international exercise with cooperation of allies and partners.