Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Upgraded Abrams Tank:

These are the first upgrades to the Army’s 1,500-tank fleet. They fall in line with overall Army plans to enhance lethality and improve its ground combat systems, preparing them for potential fights with near-peer adversaries. Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, said in a statement. "They are about compelling our enemies and winning the multi-domain battle."
A cautionary tale worth rememberingHMS Hood was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. Commissioned in 1920, Hood had design limitations, though her design was revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction. Despite the appearance of new and more modern ship designs over time, Hood remained the largest and most powerful warship in the world for twenty years after her commissioning. On 24 May 1941, 8 minutes after the first shot was fired in the Battle of the Denmark Strait with the German Battleship Bismarck, Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded and sank. Due to Hood’s perceived invincibility, the loss affected British morale.
It’s time for new warfighting equipment, not upgrades of old designs. The Army is sinking money and resources into old solutions designed in the 1970s. The handwriting is on the wall. Our soldiers will man the land equivalent of Hoods.

October 25, 2017

Army receives upgraded Abrams tank — and more improvements are on the way

By: Todd South   

The first of a batch of upgraded M1A2 Abrams tanks has hit the Army, with more improvements coming in the next few years.
Earlier this month, the first of six M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 Abrams tanks rolled off initial production at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, the Army announced.
These are the first upgrades to the Army’s 1,500-tank fleet. They fall in line with overall Army plans to enhance lethality and improve its ground combat systems, preparing them for potential fights with near-peer adversaries.
Another such improvement was the recent addition of a 30 mm cannon to many of the Army’s Strykers, which began deliveries last year.
“This version is the most modernized configuration of the Abrams tank, having improved force protection and system survivability enhancements and increased lethality over the M1A1 and previous M1A2 variants,” said Lt. Col. Justin Shell, the Army’s product manager for Abrams.
The version three enhancements address on-board power, electronics, computing, weapons, force protection and sensors. They are primarily a bridge to the version four variant planned for the 2020s, Program Executive Office-Ground Combat Systems spokeswoman Ashley Givens told the media.
The M1A1 Abrams tank has been in use since the 1980s. The M1A2 version being enhanced has been in production since 2005, according to officials.
According to the Army, the version three upgrades include:

Joint Tactical Radio System: The new system integrates various radio types into the system and allows for network readiness and interoperability with the rest of the brigade combat team.
Power Generation and Distribution: This enhancement includes improved amperage alternator, Slip Ring, Enhanced Hull Power Distribution Unit/Common Remote Switching Modules, and the Battery Monitoring System. These changes compensate for increased power demands of newer tank equipment.
Line Replaceable Unit/Line Replaceable Module redesign: New modules allow for troubleshooting within the system to the card level without the need to remove the entire system to conduct repairs.
Counter Remote Control IED Electronic Warfare version 3: this is the latest version of the tank’s counter-IED equipment.
Ammunition Data Link: The ADL allows tankers to program the M829A4 Advanced Kinetic Energy and Advanced Multi-Purpose rounds.
Auxiliary Power Unit: Allows tankers to operate the on-board system during silent watch operations for reduced detection probability.
Armor Upgrades: Undisclosed advances in ballistic protection.
The enhancements are being installed at both JSMC in Lima and at the Anniston Army Depot in Anniston, Alabama.
The version four variant is scheduled for testing in 2021, production in 2023 and fielding in 2025, Givens said.
Version four will add new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links, laser warning devices, integrated on-board networks and more lethal, wider ranging 120 mm tank ammunition.
The lethality advances center around the third generation Forward Looking Infrared camera, which can detect the enemy at greater distances and through most obscurants.
The version four Abrams will also carry a multipurpose 120 mm round. The AMP round will take the place of the High Explosive Anti-Tank round, the Multi-Purpose Anti-Tank, the M1028 Canister to attack dismounted infantry, and the Obstacle Reduction Round that’s used destroy large obstacles.
"These vehicles are not just about assuring our allies, or deterring or coercing potential adversaries," said Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, in a statement. "They are about compelling our enemies and winning the multi-domain battle."

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

"Repair-and-Rebuild" from the Heritage Foundation

“Repair and Rebuild” makes all of the usual mistakes while adding some new ones. Like virtually all proposals for defense spending the document argues for the re-building of the old force with improved versions of existing equipment as the primary answer to the nation’s military needs. As a result, a national security strategy that explicitly identifies the United States vital national interests with supporting political-military goals is absent from the document. U.S. economic prosperity is once again divorced from national security. As in the past, “Repair and Rebuild” treats irregular opponents in ungoverned spaces, as well as, the military 
modernization and transformation of potential nation-states as part of a global threat package that must be addressed by U.S. Military power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year after year. Naturally, there is no mention of the utter failure of this approach since 2001.

In sum, this document is not the expression of “Republican” Thinking. It’s a document created and produced in the depths of the Washington Swamp; another unfocused acquisition program that will be popular in the defense industrial sector and welcome on the Hill where the members’ appetite for self-enrichment from unfocused defense spending and ambiguous military commitments is insatiable. The open-ended character of the military commitments the document advocates is what the 32 Four Stars on active duty cherish. Here are three quick points that effectively summarize the content of the document: 

 1. The recommendations treat the current commitment of U.S. forces around the world in remote locations like Niger as a permanent condition for U.S. National Security. In other words, repeat the failures of the last 16 years in perpetuity. (The author quotes GEN (ret) Mattis saying, “Irregular methods—terrorism, insurgency, unrestricted warfare, guerrilla war, or coercion by narco-criminals—are increasing… This is our most likely opponent in the future.”) As seen in Niger, this is music to the ears of the SOF/Light Infantry community that is on autopilot in its quest for action in remote places of marginal to no strategic importance to the American People. 

2. The recommendations treat the WW II/Cold War/Industrial Age Forces as unchanging answers to contemporary and future threats.  The author insists on the “Procurement of additional Paladin upgrades and JLTVs should be pursued, as well as an across-the-board expansion and acceleration of Army rotary-wing purchases and upgrades”). This recommendation is made at a point in time when rotary wing aviation is clearly on the path to extinction and a wide range of new stand-off attack systems (Loitering Munitions, Rocket Artillery, Unmanned Strike) are rapidly supplanting investments in tube artillery. A billion dollars for trucks (JLTVs) designed to carry light infantry is reminiscent of making the horse cavalry in 1936 relevant for war in 1941; 

3. In another section the author argues that the Army must “build slack into its force structure to support the massive requirements of a potential campaign on the Korean peninsula.” Assuming (as the author does) “NO CHANGE” in warfare since 1953, regaining the strength to refight the Korean Conflict on industrial age terms would entail and expansion of the US Army’s Active Force to sustain at least 200,000 soldiers in combat on the Korean Peninsula or adding almost 600,000 soldiers to the Active Army. Fortunately, warfare has changed. Modern technology makes a difference, but unless we organize to exploit new technology differently, we confront bankruptcy in peacetime and certain defeat in future war. 

4. The recommendations treat the selective infusion of new technologies into old structures as the solution to future warfighting requirements. The author says, “The Navy must hone the carrier air wing of the future for use in high-end conflict, capable of conducting the full range of missions in contested environments.” Given the proliferation of new technologies, this is mission impossible. Even the Navy’s Admirals will admit privately that the commitment of large carriers is increasingly limited to permissive environments. Why not halt investment in more carriers and demand experimentation with new designs that may have some chance of survival in a future major war? 

However, the author offers the reader what she considers good news: “Of the $9.5 trillion in new debt the Congressional Budget Office expects the United States to accrue by 2027, additional defense spending outlined in Repair and Rebuild would represent only 6 percent of that increase.” Given many decades of experience in Washington, DC, I leave it to readers to determine whether this “good news” is reality based. 

RECOMMENDATION” READ if you must, then, DESPAIR and THROW AWAY this publication. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017