The Week Ahead in Defense: June 4, 2018

Combat aviation advisor students with the 6th Special Operations Squadron load onto a C-145A Skytruck during Operation Raven Claw at Hurlburt Field, Fla., April 24, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joseph Pick)
Combat aviation advisor students with the 6th Special Operations Squadron load onto a C-145A Skytruck during Operation Raven Claw at Hurlburt Field, Fla., April 24, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Joseph Pick)

 

1. AIR FORCE TO DOUBLE COMBAT AIR ADVISERS

From Military.com's Oriana Pawlyk:

The U.S. Air Force plans to double the number of Combat Aviation Advisors it sends to train partners on special operations missions at a time when the Defense Department's footprint in austere environments has come under scrutiny.

Under guidance in the National Defense Strategy, Air Force Special Operations Command is preparing to grow each of its teams, developing a planned total of 352 total force integration advisors over the next few years, officials said. The CAA mission, under Special Operations Command, has about half that now.

The goal is to sustain five year-round advisory sites around the world by fiscal 2023. The expansion comes at a time when the U.S. military is operating in smaller teams in remote regions of the world such as Africa and Southeast Asia.

 

2. BASES MAY SHELTER IMMIGRANT CHILDREN

From Military.com's Richard Sisk:

The Defense Department is on the verge of naming military bases to house the overflow of children taken into custody at the Mexican border as civilian shelters reach capacity.

The DoD has yet to receive formal requests from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White said last month that the DoD was awaiting a site survey by HHS to designate additional shelters, to include military bases. According to HHS, there are currently about 100 civilian shelters for Unaccompanied Alien Children in 14 states.

In a similar surge at the border in 2014, a total of more than 7,000 children were housed temporarily at the Army's Fort Sill in Oklahoma, Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and Naval Base Ventura in California.

The most recent site survey by HHS included officials going to four bases in Texas and Arkansas. The bases were Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas; Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas; the Army's Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas; and Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, ABC reported.

 

3. 'THIRD ARM' FOR SOLDIERS?

From Military.com's Matthew Cox:

Army Research Lab engineers released a video recently showing a soldier running, diving and handling weapons attached to a prototype mechanical arm designed to help reduce the felt weight of carbines and machine guns.

The "third arm" is essentially a multi-joint, stabilizing appendage that attaches to the weapon and the soldier's waist belt to take the weight off the service member's arms and distribute it more evenly on the body, Dan Baechle, ARL mechanical engineer, said in a recent Army press release.

During a recent test, a soldier wore the four-pound third arm while aggressively moving with an M4-style weapon at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain site at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

The device also works well with light and medium machine guns, Baechle said. ARL conducted a pilot study in 2017 that showed the device can improve marksmanship in addition to reducing arm fatigue.

 

4. PENTAGON REP FOR KOREA TALKS IS NAVY VET

From Richard Sisk:

A top aide to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has been representing the Pentagon's interests in North Korea talks and will be part of the team going to Singapore for the planned summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.

Randall G. Schriver, assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, has been at the truce village in Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone this week for talks with a North Korean delegation, on the groundwork for the summit and its implications for the more than 28,000 U.S. troops now based in South Korea.

Schriver, a former Navy intelligence officer and State Department official, also "will continue to be our representative" in Singapore, Dana White, the department's chief spokesperson, said at a Pentagon news briefing Thursday.

Schriver formerly was deputy assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, with responsibility for China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.

 

5. COULD THE MARINES GET LIGHT ATTACK AIRCRAFT?

From Oriana Pawlyk:

The Senate Armed Services Committee has set aside millions for light attack aircraft, but this time not solely for the U.S. Air Force.

In its version of the fiscal 2019 budget markup, the committee announced last week it wants to give $100 million to the Marine Corps to procure light attack aircraft such as the AT-6 Wolverine to boost lower-cost aviation support. The version passed the committee with a vote of 25-2. It heads for a full Senate vote in coming weeks.

Lawmakers and a few Pentagon officials have made the case for light attack -- especially in the context of the Air Force's ongoing experiment with light attack platforms -- saying the smaller planes could come in handy to offset the cost to taxpayers to put a few fifth-generation fighters in the air, sometimes in support of missions for which the advanced jets are far overqualified.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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