Archive for the ‘US Navy’ Category

US Military Cyber Defense

January 19, 2011

The US military is preparing for 21st Century electronic warfare and cyber terrorism. A joint US Cyber Command and four service cyber commands have been set up.

Their mission is to defend American military networks and civilian American infrastructure from cyber terrorism and from foreign government hackers.

More info at http://www.teamultimedia.com/cyber-defense.html

USS George H.W.Bush completes Sea Trials

February 23, 2009

See the ultimate book on the US Navy’s final Nimitz class aircraft carrier, the USS George Herbert Walker Bush (CVN 77): CVN-77 GEORGE H. W. BUSH, U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier (Colorful Ships #3)

Northrop Grumman  has completed builder’s sea trials of the nation’s newest and most advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77).

Builder’s sea trials provide an opportunity to test systems, components and compartments at sea for the first time. The trials also include high-speed runs and a demonstration of the carrier’s other capabilities.

Read the complete article USS George H. W. Bush Completes Trials

US Navy Nabs Pirates

February 16, 2009

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The crew of the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) apprehended seven suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden Feb. 11 after responding to a distress call from a nearby merchant vessel.

The event marks the first time CTF-151 has apprehended suspected pirates.

The Marshall Islands-flagged Motor Vessel Polaris sent a distress call to all ships in the area reporting that a small skiff containing seven suspected pirates had attempted a forcible boarding of their vessel using a ladder. Polaris crewmembers removed the ladder before pirates could come aboard.

Vella Gulf closed immediately with the M/V Polaris and intercepted a skiff matching the description given by the motor vessel. The skiff contained individuals fitting the physical descriptions given by Polaris crewmembers. A Vella Gulf visit, board, search and seizure team conducted a consensual boarding and found several weapons.

M/V Polaris rendezvoused with Vella Gulf and provided positive visual identification of the suspected pirates. The suspected pirates were brought on board Vella Gulf, where they were processed and are being held until they transfer to a temporary holding facility on board the supply ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1).

CTF 151 is a multinational task force that conducts counter-piracy operations in and around the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea and was established to create a lawful maritime order and develop security in the maritime environment.
(NNS)

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Navy “VESSEL” – Newest Military “Video Game” Training Tool

February 16, 2009

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OR

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Video computer gaming is coming to the Navy as a training tool adapting to a new generation of gaming Sailors.

“This has the look-and-feel of a first-person role-playing game, but it would be better to call it a training simulation designed to enhance a Sailor’s critical thinking, problem solving, decision-making and ultimately ‘on-the-job’ performance,” said Rodney Chapman, director of Learning Strategies (N9) at Naval Service Training Command (NSTC).

“But because a recruit comes into the Navy growing up with gaming technologies it’s hard to get away from calling this a game.”

The new Navy video computer training tool is called VESSEL and stands for Virtual Environments for Ship and Shore Experiential Learning. VESSEL is a computer-based game that combines and resembles first person role-playing, educational and real-time strategy games.

“This is uncharted waters,” Chapman said. “We are using game based technology to supplement instructor led training. This strategy should lead to improved Sailor readiness and performance where the Navy can introduce real time fleet concepts to Sailors at various stages of their career. We happen to be starting this effort in Great Lakes, however, the strength of this technology is applicable and will help improve all Sailors no matter how senior or experienced.”

Although there are flight simulators for Navy pilots and Navy surface officers to learn navigation in large bridge simulators, VESSEL can be accessed by popping a disc into a Sailor’s computer in a workspace or office, like inserting a disk into a PlayStation or Xbox.

Through partnerships with BBN Technologies, Intelligent Decisions Systems Inc., (IDSI), University of California Los Angeles, University of Central Florida, the Office of Naval Research, Recruit Training Command (RTC) and NSTC’s N9 Department have designed a computer-based video “game” training tool built to be an adaptive product to enhance learning and build confidence in handling shipboard scenarios and casualties such as flooding and firefighting.

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Dr. Clint Bowers, a psychology professor and evaluator with UCF, said the computer “game” and gaming in general that many Sailors are familiar with “has a certain intrinsic quality that motivates young people today.

“If we can tap that motivation so that a Sailor wants to go back to their room or compartment and play and learn and not feel they are in a classroom, we think that will be a great thing.”

Bowers also said his team has seen Sailors who have participated in the evaluation since October 2008. He said they have demonstrated a high level of interest when exposed to the software and that it does have an appeal for today’s generation of gamers. “It’s one thing to build a game, but we need to make sure it works and we are seeing that it is.”

The current “game” or first simulation is designed to have a Sailor investigate a space aboard a ship for flooding from a cracked fire main. A Sailor is introduced with a short story of how he or she has transferred from Naval Station Great Lakes to their first ship in Norfolk, Va. After boarding the ship, the Sailor enters the “game” in a first-person role-playing scenario and must report to his or her repair locker after the general quarters alarm has sounded. From the repair locker, the Sailor is sent out as an investigator and directed to look for a possible flood in a certain space.

A Sailor will need to find the space by locating the correct “bulls-eye” (numbered identification outside the space on the bulkhead, or wall) and, once found, go into the space where they will find there is flooding from a crack on the fire main. The Sailor then has to call Damage Control (DC) Central and report the situation.

“A more senior enlisted Sailor might want to shut down the fire main and cut off the water, but that would be wrong in this simulation,” Chapman said.

“We want the Sailor to report the flooding to DC Central using the shipboard phone IVCS (Integrated Voice Communications System) in the space, then go back to the repair locker and pick up the equipment they might need (Jubilee Patch), bring the equipment back to the space and properly patch the pipe.”

In the simulation, there is only one way to seat the Jubilee Patch, by putting it on the pipe and sliding it from the top down over the crack. If the Sailor doesn’t seat the patch correctly, the video will force it off.
A Sailor is also graded on time from reporting to the repair locker, finding the space with the flooding, reporting to DC Central, returning to the repair locker and patching the pipe.

If a Sailor does all this properly (using the certain buttons on the computer keyboard to move around and grab things) he or she then needs to call back to DC Central and make a final report of what they did and how they accomplished the task. An example of what the Sailor might report would be, “flooding was secured by properly applying Jubilee Patch over crack on fire main in space 1-109-2-L, Admin Berthing. There are two inches of water on deck, or there is no water coming up through the grates. Request dewatering team sent to compartment.”

After a Sailor has made a final report and has been told that a dewatering team has been sent to the space, objectives for the evolution show up on the left side of the computer monitor with a green, yellow or red mark. If an objective lights up green, the Sailor has successfully met that objective. If yellow lights up, the recruit completed the objective but was marginal and could have been faster making reports, getting the right equipment or took too long patching the fire main. A red means a failure for that particular objective and the things performed incorrectly will be identified and the Sailor will need to go through the task again.

When the objectives have been graded, the Sailor will then be directed to an Individual Development Plan (IDP). The plan is based on how well they did and what areas may need. The Sailor is then told where to go to receive more instruction on the areas that need work.

“This was a great experience,” Seaman Apprentice Melvin Cooks, 18, from East St. Louis, Ill., said. “I think this will help Sailors in here at Great Lakes and in the fleet to strengthen and refresh what they learned at boot camp and in school.”

Cooks, a student at Boatswain’s Mate “A” School was an early test-subject of the “game” adding that with tools like Battle Stations and VESSEL Sailors will be more prepared to handle situations and emergencies aboard ships and in the fleet.

Chapman called the IDP the most important thing for each Sailor.

“Ultimately, besides the usability of the ‘game’, we’ve put in enhancements with the Individual Development Plan. If I believed they were going to walk away from the test and remember what they were supposed to work on, I’d be sadly mistaken. We are going to deliver an Individual Development Plan with further instruction and training to make them better Sailors,” he said.

Early indications of improved Sailor performance are encouraging and impressive, according to Chapman. Two groups of Sailors were selected to participate in a study that required them to secure flooding in a main space aboard USS Trayer (BST 21), a 210-foot long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer at RTC, the Navy’s largest training simulator. Both groups had basic damage control training but had no previous exposure to the Trayer’s internal compartments or design. Only one of the two groups played VESSEL. The Sailors who played VESSEL found the flooding compartment using a bull’s-eye, learned from the “game,” in half the time of the Sailors who didn’t play the game (two versus four minutes). Sailors had less than half (eight versus 17) of the communications errors when making reports to DC Central. Twice as many (50 percent versus 25 percent) non-VESSEL participants repaired the leak without permission and 50 percent of the non-VESSEL participants secured the fire main without permission. No one from the group exposed to VESSEL secured the fire main.

Even though N-9 and ONR have been testing the “game” on recruits from RTC since October 2008, the VESSEL is not geared toward passing Battle Stations 21, the final test for a recruit before graduating from the Navy’s only bootcamp. Battle Stations 21 is conducted aboard Trayer a week prior to graduation.

“We didn’t specifically build this for Battle Stations 21, because we knew there would be a far reaching benefit to the rest of the Navy enterprise. We purposely built this so it could be used at RTC or delivered to TSC (Training Support Center) and other training or shipboard commands fleetwide. The educational outcome and benefits will be consistent if you are in recruit training or out in the fleet. Whether you are a recruit, a bluejacket, chief or officer; this will benefit all Sailors.”

The NSTC N-9 team is working with ONR to build more scenarios to accompany the flooding evolution. They are exploring adding oil on top of the flooded water, placing “hot” electric wires in the space, and there will be personnel casualties in the space.

“We are going to add firefighting to it as another training opportunity and continue to build out to be an enterprise-wide learning tool,” Chapman said.

Chapman hopes both delayed-entry personnel as well as Sailors out in the fleet will be able sit down at a computer, put in VESSEL and use it as another training tool.

“We are entering an era where we are demanding more from our Sailors and they have to master things in a shorter period of time. We no longer have the luxury to put Sailors through long periods of training,” Chapman said.

“The nice thing [about the ‘game’] is technology will help us supplement today’s training in a well defined strategy. “Hopefully, in the future this will be just another tool in a Sailor’s toolbox that will help a Sailor identify a situation and react in a positive way to save the ship and save a shipmate.”
Scott Thornbloom (NNS)

Navy SEALS Train USAF Security Forces

February 5, 2009

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The 5th Security Forces Squadron is participating in a series of training classes, which began Jan. 5, in an Air Force-wide initiative to improve the tactics, awareness, vigilance and survivability of security forces at Minot AFB (North Dakota).

“This training better prepares us for any situation we may come across,” said Master Sgt. William Wilson, 5th SFS security forces training noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

The training, called the Air Force Blue Coach Initiative, began at Whiteman AFB, Mo., where an entire flight participated in an intense Navy SEALs training program. Airmen of all ranks trained in preparation for the Mighty Guardian exercise. During this exercise, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency brought in outside forces to test the Air Force’s defenses.

“This exercise was the first time these newly-learned tactics were employed and Air Force cops defeated the Marine Corps aggressors,” Sergeant Wilson added.

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Upon successful completion of the exercise, the Air Force decided this was training all security forces members needed. Subsequently, Brig. Gen. Mary Kay Hertog, Director of Security Forces, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., directed all security forces units to undergo the training.

The first two bases in Air Combat Command to receive the training are Minot AFB and Whiteman AFB during the fiscal year 2009, Minot being the first of the two bases.

General Hertog was not the only officer who felt the training was important for security forces members.

“Through this training, we received a higher level of individual and team tactics, which are vital to preserving our national resources and helps to ensure we have a fighting chance against a well-trained adversary,” said Capt. James Masoner, 5th SFS operations and training officer.

The training comes in four iterations available to 200 security forces members; the first was from Jan. 5 to 16. The next three will be: Feb. 23 to March 6, March 23 to April 3 and April 6 to 17.

The SEALs cover a wide variety of topics aimed at improving the capability of security forces units here.

“Our folks will learn how to best dress for cold weather, close-quarter combat, patrolling, employment of low-light equipment, among many others,” said Sergeant Wilson. “The trainers ensure our Airmen feel comfortable and completely understand all the tactics being taught. The training culminates to where we go out into the Weapons Storage Area and practice recapture techniques on structures.”

Sergeant Wilson said he has four members who have gone through the training. They act as instructors for training those who won’t have the opportunity to be trained first hand. He also said part of the contract states the trainers will leave all their lesson plans, power points, visual aids, etc.

Additionally, Sergeant Wilson said the training is considered an enhanced nuclear training initiative.

While all who participated in the first iteration of the training did extremely well, there were a few who shined for Sergeant Wilson.

One such Airman reflects on her experience from the training:

“At first, it seemed intimidating working with the SEALs,” said Senior Airman Angelena Lee, 5th SFS supply custodian. “They really had their stuff together and knew exactly what they were here to talk about. Between the five instructors, they had more than 120 years of experience.”

Another Airman from the first iteration revealed how important he felt the training was:

“It gives us a fundamental understanding for more advanced tactics and was a great way to get back to the basics,” said Staff Sgt. Casey Muffley, 5th SFS installation patrolman. “It was a great opportunity to train with highly-experienced military personnel and learn how to do our jobs better and work as a team much more effectively.”

Continued training of security forces personnel is a mission-essential task. These hard-working Airmen deserve only the best training the AF has to offer. Training is a crucial step to ensuring the nuclear surety of this base is as secure as possible, security forces leadership said.

“This training taught us how to overcome the challenges of our mission here,” concluded Airman Lee. “It improved our awareness, increased our vigilance and taught us new strategies for survivability.”

Ben Stratton

UAVs Help Fight Pirates

February 3, 2009

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The guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan (DDG 72) brings an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capability to Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, which enhances the counterpiracy task force’s effectiveness.

This UAV supports the CTF 151 counterpiracy mission by providing maritime surveillance and cueing on suspicious activity.

“This is a significant step forward and is reflective of the increased use of UAVs across the spectrum of military operations,” said Cmdr. Steve Murphy, Mahan’s commanding officer.

The unique attributes of a UAV – namely the ability to stay airborne for long periods and cover hundreds of square miles of ocean during the course of one mission, all the while sending imagery in real time back to Mahan and other assets in the task force – provide a significant tactical advantage.

“It can fly day or night in a covert or overt posture, making it much harder for pirates to hide” said Murphy.
“It is also important to note that the images and information obtained [by the UAV] at sea is shared with our coalition partners, thereby improving overall mission effectiveness and strengthening key partnerships between navies.”

As part of Combined Task Force 151 Mahan is coordinating and deconflicting counterpiracy efforts with approximately 14 nations also operating in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

Taken in context with other aircraft and ships operating in the area, the UAV is considered by Murphy and other leaders in the task force as a force multiplier. The information the UAV generates also helps CTF 151’s leadership determine where to position all available units.

“It provides high quality imagery in real time, speeding decision making and is a significant advantage in stopping piracy on the high seas,” said Murphy. “It is versatile and very responsive, able to change operating areas and change missions in mid-flight.”

Mahan has integrated the UAV into every mission it has conducted while on deployment, gathering valuable information on maritime traffic patterns and the patterns of those suspected to be involved in illicit activity.

According to Murphy, it also helps protect the ship and crew, providing extended surveillance and early indications of potential threats.

“[The UAV] has great significance as a developing effort to apply 21st century technology to the 21st century challenges that our Navy faces.”

The civilian and Sailor team operating the unmanned aerial vehicle on Mahan is documenting lessons learned during this mission and throughout the ship’s deployment. This information is expected to contribute to the U.S. Navy’s plans for the future of UAVs at sea.

(NNS)

US 2nd Fleet Tests New Command and Control Concept

February 1, 2009

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The commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet embarked USS Bataan (LHD 5), the designated 2nd Fleet flagship, Jan. 26 to test command and control of the Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) during the CSG’s final exercise before deployment.

Vice Adm. Mel William Jr. and his staff embarked Bataan which was pierside at Norfolk Naval Base.

During the previous week, 2nd Fleet information technology specialists set up a modular command and control system, the 2nd Fleet demonstrator (2FD), aboard Bataan to facilitate communications and collaboration with the Ike CSG and the 2nd Fleet Maritime Headquarters.

The 2FD is a distributed deployable command element which was jointly developed by Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet and the deployable joint command and control joint program office. The 2FD provides the afloat joint task force commander a command and control capability at the operational level of war that is able to rapidly deploy afloat.

Under normal circumstances, without this DDCE type capability, it could take weeks to establish the structure and programs necessary for a flag staff to “set up shop” aboard a ship, according to Capt. Jeff Link, 2nd Fleet’s director for C4I, Networks and Information Assurance.

“The 2FD allows the joint task force commander and his staff to embark a designated flagship and have mobile command and control capabilities that utilize systems identical to his maritime headquarters with only four days for notification and equipment installation.”

The 2nd Fleet commander used the Eisenhower Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX) as an opportunity to reach out to the CSG via video teleconference (VTC). During the VTC, Williams was briefed by the Ike CSG commander and his warfare commanders on the exercise scenario and their actions against the notional opposing force.

“As a matter of routine, we will endeavor to include the fleet commander and staff’s operational level of war perspective with strike group’s tactical level of war training events,” Williams said.

(NNS)

US Navy, Partners Deter Pirate Attacks

January 31, 2009

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The presence of partner nations and the newly formed task force to reduce the number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden seem to be working, according to the commander of Combined Task Force 151.

“I think the combination of the coalition working together [with] the maritime community has decreased the pirate activity over the last couple of months,” Navy Rear Adm. Terry McKnight, also the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 2, told bloggers and online journalists during a Defense Department bloggers’ roundtable Jan. 29.

The task force was formed earlier this month and comprises three ships — USS San Antonio (LPD 17), USS Mahan (DDG 72) and HMS Portland (F 79) — that are collaborating with other nations to deter future pirate attacks.

While a number of factors — even the weather — can impact the number of attacks, McKnight gave credit to the European Union and the nations involved in anti-piracy operations, as well as the task force, with helping to decrease attacks since early December.

“Some things have changed that have helped us in this case to combat piracy,” McKnight said. “The United Nations has come out with several resolutions … that give us more authority to combat piracy.”

U.N. Resolution 1846, approved by the United Nations Security Council on Dec. 2, authorizes states and regional organizations cooperating with the Somali transitional government to enter Somalia’s territorial waters and use “all necessary means” to combat piracy. Two weeks later, U.N. Resolution 1851 was approved, and calls for those states and organizations to “actively participate in defeating piracy and armed robbery off Somalia’s coast by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft, and through seizure and disposition of boats and arms used in the commission of those crimes.”

The other recent change that has assisted in combating piracy is the maritime community itself, McKnight said.

“We have tried very hard to say to the maritime community, there are just not enough Navy ships out there to cover 1.1 million square miles,” he said.

McKnight added that creating a safe corridor allows the nations involved in combating piracy to offer protection to the maritime vessels transiting through the Gulf of Aden.

In standing up Combined Task Force 151, McKnight said, he hopes to “make it unpleasant to be in the pirate business.”

“Right now, we have about 14 nations out here with about 20 ships,” he said. “We’ve had some encouraging signs from other ships and other nations to join the task force. I expect that by the spring we will have quite a few ships joining.”

McKnight said these and other nations involved and those interested in participating in the future all share the same goal of “free commerce.”

“We have to make sure that we have free commerce throughout the open seas and throughout the world,” said McKnight.

Jennifer Cragg (NNS)

Gen. Craddock Says: Leave Troops, Nukes in Europe

January 21, 2009

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NATO Supreme Allied Commander – Europe (SACEUR) General Bantz Craddock has endorsed recommendations by a special Pentagon commission which confirmed the need to retain US nuclear weapons in Europe.

General Craddock, who previously served as Commander, US Army Europe, also said the U.S. command needs to retain four Army brigades, instead of cutting to two as has been proposed, and needs to retain current Air Force and Navy force levels.

Read more on Gen. Craddock’s remarks at Government Executive

Navy Names Virginia Class Submarine USS John Warner

January 19, 2009

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The Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter announced Jan. 8 that the next Virginia-class attack submarine will be named in honor of recently retired U.S Sen. John Warner of Virginia. Warner retired Jan. 3, 2009 after 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.

“Senator Warner has served his country for over 63 years and has been an unwavering advocate of the men and women of our nation’s armed forces. It gives me great pleasure to be able to honor him in this manner and I thank him for his support and mentorship,” said Winter.

The USS John Warner, designated SSN 785, honors Warner’s lifetime of service to the nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Warner’s career in public service began in January 1945, the last year of World War II, when he enlisted at the age of 17 in the U.S. Navy, where he earned the rank of petty officer third class.

In the Fall of 1949, he joined the Marine Corps Reserve. At the outbreak of the Korean War in October 1950, he volunteered for active duty and was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps and served with the 1st Marine Air Wing as a ground communications officer in Korea. He continued his affiliation with the Marine Corps Reserve, reaching the rank of captain.

In February 1969, he was appointed and confirmed by the Senate as under secretary of the Navy, and succeeded Secretary John Chafee as the 61st secretary of the Navy in 1972 following Senate confirmation during the height of the war in Vietnam. During this period, Warner was designated as chief negotiator for the conference between the U.S. and Soviet navies which led to the Incidents at Sea Agreement which is still in effect today between the U.S. and Russian navies.

Entering politics in 1978, he was elected to represent the Commonwealth of Virginia in the U.S. Senate. He served five consecutive terms becoming the second longest serving U.S. senator from the Commonwealth of Virginia in the 218-year history of the Senate. During his 30 years of service in the Senate, Warner was a leader in national defense issues serving continuously on the Senate Committee on Armed Services. He held leadership roles as chairman or ranking member for half of his tenure on this committee and also served many years on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

In this capacity, and throughout his career, he has shown unwavering support for the men and women of the armed forces, and has been a champion of modernizing the structure and operations of the military to ensure its effectiveness in the 21st century.

This next-generation attack submarine will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. It will have enhanced stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy’s multi-mission requirements.

USS John Warner will have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; mine delivery and minefield mapping. It is also designed for special forces delivery and support, a subject Warner worked on throughout his career in the U.S. Senate.

The Virginia-class is 7,800-tons and 377 feet in length, has a beam of 34 feet, and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. It is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship – reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time.

The USS John Warner will be built by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., in partnership with General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corporation. Warner was instrumental in developing this construction teaming arrangement concept which was later codified into law. (NNS)