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Opinion: Military Pay and Benefits Unsustainable

Opinion: Military Pay and Benefits Unsustainable

Sailors assigned to Naval Branch Health Clinic at Naval Support Activity, Bahrain, wait for a uniform inspection on June, 17 2013. US Navy Photo

Sailors assigned to Naval Branch Health Clinic at Naval Support Activity, Bahrain, wait for a uniform inspection on June, 17 2013. US Navy Photo

Study after study show that the U.S. military’s pay and compensation system is unsustainable. Defense experts from all across the Washington Beltway forecast a steep decline in readiness and capability due to escalating personnel costs and overall declining defense budgets. There is an urgent need for a frank discussion on pay and compensation reform throughout the ranks.

Whereas the think tanks and defense experts have offered up all manner of fiscal programs, processes and policies to the chopping block of change or disposal, the fact is military pay, compensation and benefits have received particular attention—and with good cause. The money we make, the money we are promised in retirement, the money that maintains our health care—and that of our families—is eroding our ability to do our jobs. Read More

Navy Awards Raytheon $276 million Next Generation Jammer Contract

Navy Awards Raytheon $276 million Next Generation Jammer Contract

EA-18G Growler from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 during night flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in February 2013.

EA-18G Growler from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 to launch during night flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) in February 2013.

Raytheon has won a $276 million contract to develop the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) for the service’s electronic attack air fleet, according to a contract released late Monday.

Raytheon beat out Northrop Grumman and a teaming effort between ITT Exelis and BAE Systems for the 22-month contract to develop the replacement to the ALQ-99 jammer — first introduced in the 1970s — currently in use by the Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps. Read More

Joint China-Russia Exercise More Political Than Military

Joint China-Russia Exercise More Political Than Military

People's Liberation Army Navy guided missile destroyers in April, 2012. PLAN Photo

People’s Liberation Army Navy guided missile destroyers in April, 2012. PLAN Photo

China and Russia made headlines this past weekend when they participated in the rather blandly titled Joint Sea 2013. Despite the name, Joint Sea was China’s  largest ever joint naval exercise, and one of the more noteworthy bits of naval activity in the past several years. Eighteen surface ships, one submarine, three airplanes, five ship-launched helicopters and two commando units took part in the exercise, participating in a variety of activities including antisubmarine warfare, close maneuvering, and the simulated takeover of an enemy ship. Chinese and Russian officials alike were quick to note that Joint Sea wasn’t directed at any third party, something that might sound insincere but that actually reflects the reality that Chinese and Russian interests in the Pacific are very different. Read More

NAVSEA Awards Three Contracts for Oiler Development

NAVSEA Awards Three Contracts for Oiler Development

USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199). Monterey is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on June 30, 2013. US Navy Photo

USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199). Monterey is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on June 30, 2013. US Navy Photo

Naval Sea Systems Command has issued three contracts to shipyards for work toward the Navy’s next-generation fleet oiler (T-AO(X)).

General Dynamics NASSCO, Huntington Ingalls Industries and VT Halter Marine, “were each awarded firm-fixed price contracts at or below the not-to-exceed amount of $1.7 million as contained in the solicitation for Trade-Off Industry Studies,” according to a Wednesday release from NAVSEA. Read More

Underwater Art Galleries Keep Memory of Ships Alive

Underwater Art Galleries Keep Memory of Ships Alive

An image from The Sinking World of Andreas Franke, an art exhibition currently on display aboard the wreck of the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, almost 90 feet below the Atlantic Ocean. Image courtesy of Andreas Franke

An image from The Sinking World of Andreas Franke, an art exhibition currently on display aboard the wreck of the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk, almost 90 feet below the Atlantic Ocean. Image courtesy of Andreas Franke

Austrian artist Andreas Franke has turned an artificial reef made from the hull of a World War II Coast Guard cutter into a fine art gallery with a naval twist.

Almost 90 feet below the Gulf of Mexico, Franke has hung a dozen magnetized picture frames on the side of USS Mohawk CGC (WPG-78), a 1,005 ton cutter sunk July 2, 2012 to create an artificial reef 28 miles of coast of Florida.

The images on display are pictures of the ship taken shortly after Mohawk was sunk super imposed with models Franke shot in his Vienna studio, the diver/photographer told USNI News on Tuesday. Read More

NAVSEA: LCS Missile Competition Could Start Next Year

NAVSEA: LCS Missile Competition Could Start Next Year

The Griffin Missile, Raytheon Photo

The Griffin Missile, Raytheon Photo

The U.S. Navy could start its investigation into its new surface-to-surface missile for its Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program as early as next year, Naval Sea System Command officials told USNI News on Monday.

Currently, NAVSEA is testing the Raytheon Griffin IIB as part of the Surface Warfare (SuW) mission package, only, “as an interim capability,” according to a statement provided to USNI News. Read More

Opinion: Despite Arms Deal U.S. Influence of Syrian Rebels Limited

Opinion: Despite Arms Deal U.S. Influence of Syrian Rebels Limited

Free Syrian Army fighters. Reuters Photo

Free Syrian Army fighters. Reuters Photo

As the United States begins providing arms to Syrian rebels , it enters an increasingly complex arena of arms-trafficking and proxy warfare. The highly factionalized Syrian rebellion and the combined third-party actors supporting it—often with competing aims—mean U.S. attempts to shape the Syrian conflict through military support will depend not simply on American resources and intentions, but the dynamics of the civil war and the network of actors that facilitates its logistics. With the U.S. role in Syrian arms-trafficking shifting from one of restraint to one of support, the difficulties encountered in producing viable political outcomes in Syria are likely to persist. Read More

The Carrier Debate: From 1922 to Now

The Carrier Debate: From 1922 to Now

USS George Washington (CVN-73) in 2001.

USS George Washington (CVN-73) in 2001.

Even years before its launch, the U.S. Navy’s new class of ships — the aircraft carrier — was dismissed by some critics as an exorbitantly expensive folly that was already obsolete due to advances in modern warfare.

Although this argument has often been levied at USS Gerald R Ford (CVN-78) currently under construction, it was also said about the nation’s first purpose-built carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) in the early 1930s. In the century since the Navy first started experimenting with shipboard takeoffs and landings, analysts have debated the merits versus the weaknesses of aircraft carriers.

Detractors maintain that carriers are too costly and too vulnerable, while proponents have held that the big flattops have consistently proven their worth and will remain the key to sea power well into the future. This battle over carriers has been raging in the pages of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine for decades: Read More

Navy Docs Reveal UCLASS Minimum Ranges and Maximum Costs

Navy Docs Reveal UCLASS Minimum Ranges and Maximum Costs

Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator flies near the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77). George H.W. Bush on May 14, 2013. US Navy Photo

Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator flies near the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77). George H.W. Bush on May 14, 2013. US Navy Photo

The Navy aims to build a system of stealthy pilotless aircraft to patrol at a minimum range of 600 nautical miles around an aircraft carrier at a maximum cost of $150 million per orbit, according to May Navy requirements documents obtained by USNI News.

The Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) so-called key performance parameters (KPPs) outline an aircraft that will primarily fill information, reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting (ISRT) roles for the service’s carrier strike group with a limited ability to strike targets at a range of 2,000 nautical miles from the strike group in lightly contested environments, according to the documents. Read More

The Legacy of Adm. Frank Kelso

The Legacy of Adm. Frank Kelso

An undated file photo of the 24th Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Frank B. Kelso II. US Navy Photo

An undated file photo of the 24th Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Frank B. Kelso II. US Navy Photo

On Sunday former Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Frank Kelso, died in his home state in Tennessee, “following a fall this week that resulted in a severe head injury,” according to a report from al.com.

The following is an excerpt of 2009’s preface to Kelso’s U.S. Naval Institute oral history.

The early 1990s were a time of substantial-even tumultuous-change in the United States Navy. Adm. Frank Kelso presided over the service during that era as the Chief of Naval Operations and faced a host of daunting challenges. Read More