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Author: TriSec    Date: 09/13/2016 10:15:06

Good Morning.

We're going to stay with military equipment this week. As it was reported here last week, the US Navy is having some problems with one of their new ships. (OK, four of them.) News came down a couple of days ago that the entire lead class is being withdrawn from service to become "non-deploying test ships". Call it what you want - I'll call it $1.4 billion down the hole.

In the wake of a rash of engine problems that have sidelined a number of the Navy's new littoral combat ships, the service is turning the first four LCSs into non-deploying test ships -- and overhauling its force employment strategy.

In a Sept. 8 announcement, Naval Surface Force Pacific Fleet officials said the changes would be implemented over the next five years and affect the 28 littoral combat ships budgeted and ordered through 2018.

The changes will "simplify crewing, stabilize testing and increase overseas deployment presence availability," officials said.

The decision to turn the first four $360 million ships -- the Freedom, the Independence, the Fort Worth and the Coronado -- into testing ships will allow the Navy to conduct near- and long-term testing for the entire ship class without affecting deployment rotations.

The ships designated for testing would be single-crewed, officials said, and would be able to deploy on a limited basis if necessary, but it would not be their primary purpose.

Of these ships -- two from the Freedom-class made by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Marinette Marine and two from the Independence-class built by Austal USA -- only one, the Independence, has not been sidelined with a serious engine issue in the last 12 months.

But at least those four ships were built in the United States. You're probably familiar with the F-16 "Fighting Falcon". After all, it's the mount of the USAF Thunderbirds, among other high-profile missions carried out by this jet. Originally developed by General Dynamics in the 1970s, it was swallowed up by Lockheed-Martin after a series of mergers. It's still built today, but now Lockheed wants to move the production line to India. Of course, there are some problems with this.

WASHINGTON — The issue of technology transfer is likely to be the sticking point on whether the US government sanctions the potential move of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 production line to India, the US Air Force’s top civilian said Wednesday.

Fresh off an August trip to the Asia-Pacific region with stops at India, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines, US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told reporters she discussed the possible sales of F-16s and Navy F/A-18s with Indian defense officials to help promote the US defense industry and further military cooperation between the two nations. Both Lockheed and Boeing, which produces the F/A-18, have proposed moving production to India in the hopes of attracting new sales of two fighter jets whose days are numbered.

James said her discussions with Indian Secretary of Defense Production Ashok Kumar Gupta, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa did not go into the details of the industry proposals. However, the talks did touch on technology transfer issues, something that she said was seen as crucial for finalizing a possible deal.

“Obviously technology transfer is something that India is really, really hoping for [and] looking for,” she said. “So how much we're able to work through will probably be a key determinant.

“And also I think a key determinant in what India ultimately ends up doing will relate to the Make in India part — how many jobs, what sorts of technologies might transfer,” she said, referring to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to expand the country’s manufacturing sector.

Ah, but since this is a veteran's column most weeks, we should take a look at our troops this week. After all, we're hell-bent on making more combat veterans every month.

About 450 more U.S. troops have arrived in Iraq in the past week to support the imminent offensive to drive ISIS from Mosul, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said Thursday.

Air Force Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, declined to give a time frame for the start of the offensive but added, "We're going to have to get started soon" if Mosul is to be wrested from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by the end of this year.

Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, task force commander, appeared to suggest in a Wall Street Journal interview that the Mosul offensive could begin as early as next month to fulfill Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's prediction that the strategic northwestern city would fall before the end of the year.

However, in a Pentagon briefing from Baghdad, Dorrian denied that Townsend said that the Mosul push would begin in early October.

To support the coming offensive, more than 400 additional U.S. troops have arrived since last week to boost the total number of U.S. troops in Iraq from about 4,000 to 4,460, Dorrian said. The additional troops are from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The deployment of the 2nd BCT was announced by the Army in August. The troops are expected to be assigned to the Qayyarah West airfield about 40 miles southeast of Mosul, which is being built up as a logistics hub and forward operating base for the Mosul offensive.

Dorrian said more than eight Iraqi Security Force brigades were ready for the Mosul offensive against what is believed to be about 3,000 to 4,500 ISIS defenders.

However, the offensive is temporarily on hold while the Iraqis form and train a follow-on force to occupy the city, provide relief and defend the population, Dorrian said. The size of the follow-on force had yet to be determined, he said.

Townsend predicted a difficult fight to retake the city, Dorrian said. ISIS has held Mosul for more than two years, and "they've had a chance to build intricate defenses."

Well, maybe President Trump will make this all great again.

18 comments (Latest Comment: 09/13/2016 22:17:20 by livingonli)
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