The Cable

Situation Report: Carter back to the valley; U.S. Army shipping out for Europe; the forever war in Iraq grinds on; Iraqi generals killed by Humvee; Russia’s new fighter jet turns heads, and lots more

By Paul McLeary with Adam Rawnsley #flex? Defense Secretary Ash Carter is back in Silicon Valley to sell his vision for a collaboration between fast-moving tech giants and the more “traditional” Pentagon bureaucracy. In his second trip there in four months, Carter will use a speech Friday afternoon to unveil the $171 million FlexTech Alliance ...

By Paul McLeary with Adam Rawnsley

#flex? Defense Secretary Ash Carter is back in Silicon Valley to sell his vision for a collaboration between fast-moving tech giants and the more “traditional” Pentagon bureaucracy. In his second trip there in four months, Carter will use a speech Friday afternoon to unveil the $171 million FlexTech Alliance award, a collaboration between a consortium of tech companies and the Pentagon whose goal is to produce flexible sensors that can be stretched over clothing or fitted on ships and airplanes.

Backed by 162 companies, universities, and research labs, the alliance includes names like Apple and Lockheed Martin and will be managed by the Air Force Research laboratory. Overall, it’ll receive $75 million in Defense Department funding over the next five years, along with $96 million from the civilian sector.

Carter has been pushing the nascent partnership with the tech world hard since assuming office in February. He last visited Silicon Valley in April, and addressed a conference of tech CEOs in Idaho in early July at The Allen & Co. conference, where he pitched a greater collaboration between the two. He has also put some roots down in the valley, having opened the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX) at Moffet Field in San Jose, right next to a building owned by Google.

Safe European home. The U.S. Army is adding 450 troops to its force in Europe this November, promising to spread them out across the continent for a continuous cycle of training and advising activities with jittery European allies, who are closely watching Russian forces operate in Ukraine and elsewhere along NATO’s eastern flanks.

The soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation, 1st Cavalry Division will deploy to Germany for nine months — along with their helicopters — to “execute medical transport and aviation operations throughout Europe,” a release from the Army says. The deployment will be paid for with cash from the $985 million European Reassurance Initiative that Congress agreed to fund in the Pentagon’s 2015 budget. An Army spokesman tells SitRep that the unit will play a big role in Operation Atlantic Resolve, an ongoing series of large-scale exercises with NATO partners and Eastern European countries aimed at sharpening their skills and forging new partnerships among former Soviet satellite states who want to move closer to the West.

As the Army draws down its forward-stationed force in Europe – most recently from about 40,000 to 30,000 soldiers – top generals have said that they’ll rely more and more on moving in troops for these kinds of rotations to thicken the American presence there.

The forever war. Some of the most senior generals in the Defense Department have predicted that the fight against the Islamic State will last more than a decade. It’s not a message the White House or Congress wants to hear, reports FP’s Dan De Luce, who opens with a revealing interaction between outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and troops in Baghdad last month.

Another week is in the books, and as we already start to look forward to Monday, we’re interested in any tips, notes, or otherwise interesting bits of information that you may have at your disposal. Please pass them along to paul.mcleary@foreignpolicy.com or on Twitter: @paulmcleary or @arawnsley.   

Iraq

Information has come out that the two Iraqi generals who were killed in a suicide attack by the Islamic State near Ramadi on Thursday met their fate at the hands of two American-made Humvees packed with explosives, likely snatched from Iraqi troops earlier this year. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi estimated that his Army lost 2,300 Humvees to the jihadist group earlier this year when entire divisions broke and ran in the face of the Islamic State’s push on Mosul. The attack this week killed Maj. Gen. Abdulrahman Abu Ragheef, the deputy head of the Anbar Operations Command, and Brig. Gen. Safeen Abdulmajid, the head of the Iraqi Army’s 10th Division.

Business of defense

ABC News reports that Jorge Scientific, now named Imperatis, received a sole source contract last year to help the Office of Personnel Management patch security holes in its network after hackers made off with sensitive government personnel information. The award has raised eyebrows, as the company had been in hot water after ABC released video of the company’s security personnel in Afghanistan, tasked with protecting American officials, incoherently drunk and high on drugs. A subsequent Inspector General investigation also found the company could not account for $135 million spent on a contract for training Afghan security forces.

South Korea

After a border clash and tense standoff with North Korea, South Korea’s Minister of Strategy and Finance Choi Kyung-hwan now says the country will boost its defense spending to better cope with the threat from Pyongyang. Choi said that new spending will aim to “strengthen anti-submarine forces and combat power at the DMZ.” North Korea reportedly deployed 70 percent of its submarine fleet after North and South exchanged artillery along the border.

China

Spaceflight Now reports that China has launched a new spy satellite, the Yaogan 27, into orbit atop a Long March 4C rocket. China said the satellite, whose launch was unannounced beforehand, would provide agricultural surveys and help with disaster prevention, but the satellite’s orbit, launch site, and launch vehicle are more consistent with a spy satellite tasked with optical reconnaissance, reports contend.

NATO

NATO is launching a series of exercises aimed at preparing troops for “hybrid war,” the mixture of conventional and unconventional warfare that Russia’s military has come to favor, and a phrase that Defense Department brass has become rather fond of. The alliance is teeing up an effort this fall labeled Trident Juncture 2015, which will sharpen skills like large scale maneuver warfare that may have atrophied following years of fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. The drills will also feature some contingencies including cyber attacks and ballistic missile defense.

Russia

The MAKS aerospace exhibition is underway in Moscow, and Russia is using to the occasion to show off its latest military aviation tech. Russia’s forthcoming 5th generation stealth fighter jet, the PAK-FA or T-50, has been the belle of the ball so far, showing up for a demonstration flight and a few stunt maneuvers. Russia’s Aerospace Systems design bureau and Urals Civil Aviation Factory also announced last week that they would unveil a new UAV system which they claim will ultimately replace the country’s Mi-8 helicopters.

Poland

Popular Mechanics’ Joe Pappalardo took a trip to Poland’s Lask air base to talk to troops on one of the front lines of Europe’s staredown with an increasingly aggressive Russia. Pappalardo talks to the Polish F-16 pilots tasked with scrambling to intercept inbound Russian fighter jets and finds them acutely aware of the odds they face in the event of a conflict. “Even if it’s a bad aircraft,” he quotes one Polish airman, “they can still put 100 in the air and we can only put 10.”

Hamas

Hamas’s tunnels, used to smuggle fighters and weapons into Gaza and Israel, were a major focus of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) during Israel’s most recent war in Gaza in the summer of 2014. Now, after intense efforts by the IDF to destroy the underground passageways, a video released by Hamas shows off newly-built tunnels being used by the terror group’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Afghanistan

The announcement of former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar’s death has thrown the organization’s leadership into turmoil and led to open feuding among its senior management. If you’re looking keep track of the various leadership factions, their members and interests, Radio Free Europe has put together a handy interactive graphic laying it all out.

 

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