U.S., South Korea Pledge to Expand Military Cooperation; NATO and Japan Deepen Ties

The U.S. and South Korea will step up joint field exercises and bolster joint capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, the defense chiefs of both countries said on Tuesday. In a joint statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korea Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup condemned North […]

South Korea’s 28th Infantry Division, Artillery Brigade, U.S 2nd Infantry Division, 2nd Striking Brigade,2-17th Artillery Battalion combined live-fire Exercise were held at Kkotbong Shooting Range in Gyeonggi Province. Jan. 23, 2023. ROK Photo

The U.S. and South Korea will step up joint field exercises and bolster joint capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, the defense chiefs of both countries said on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korea Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-Sup condemned North Korea’s continued provocations and violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions, including its missile launches and recent drone incursions. The defense chiefs also affirmed that the ROK-U.S. Alliance, along with the international community, will continue to take a strong stance against any further provocations by North Korea.

The two leaders emphasized that the two nations will continue to bolster the alliance capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean nuclear and missile threats, as well as to expand information sharing and joint planning. The two defense chiefs additionally pledged to closely cooperate in order to continue to deploy U.S. strategic assets in a timely and coordinated manner in the future.

The U.S. and South Korea will hold a Deterrence Strategy Committee Table-top Exercise (DSC TTX) in February, with the goal of assessing and developing response options to deal with the North Korean nuclear threat. The two sides highlighted the combined air exercises in late 2022 that involved U.S. strategic bombers and demonstrated a range of deterrence capabilities of the U.S.-ROK alliance.

“Going forward as well, we will seek together for various measures to enhance extended deterrence implementation, show the public of the Republic of Korea the firm will of the United States commitment to the defense of the ROK,” Lee said in a press conference with Austin.
“We will further reinforce the alliance capability and posture and the combined defense through expanded execution of field exercises and large scale combined joint fires demonstration.”

Neither Lee nor Austin provided details on the exercises that would be carried out, but they will likely be on the same level as the Foal Eagle joint exercises, which were suspended in 2019.

Asked about the types of deployments that the U.S. would carry out in the future to the ROK, Austin referred to the past year’s activities which included the deployments of F-22s, F-35s and the visit by the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

“You can look for more of that kind of activity going forward,” he said, adding that deeper consultations between the two countries and leaderships and more tabletop exercises are planned.

Both Austin and Lee also discussed measures to strengthen regional security cooperation, including ROK-U.S.-Japan trilateral security cooperation, according to the statement, and committed to following up on developing specific courses of action to facilitate trilateral sharing of missile warning data. Conversations are expected to be addressed at a future meeting of the Defense Trilateral Talks.

Both defense chiefs agreed to hold Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) at the earliest opportunity to discuss concrete measures on how to strengthen security cooperation among the three nations, the statement read.

Japan, Korea and the U.S. already carry out a number of joint missile defense activities like the Pacific Dragon exercise and held a ballistic missile defense drill in October 2022 in response to North Korean missile launches

Austin will now head to the Philippines where he will meet Philippines President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. while hosted by acting secretary of National Defense Carlito Galvez, Austin will also meet with Gen. Andres Centino, the chief of defense, and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo.

NATO and Japan

In Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged to deepen ties between Japan and NATO.

In a joint statement, Kishida and Stoltenberg condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and North Korea’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The pair reiterated their support for Ukraine and called for North Korea to fully comply with all U.N. Security Council resolutions and to abandon its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.

Both leaders also shared concerns with Russia’s growing military cooperation with China, including through joint operations and drills in the vicinity of Japan.

Kishida and Stoltenberg raised concerns about Chinese and Russian attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea, as well as the militarisation, coercion and intimidation in the South China Sea, due to China’s rapid strengthening of its military capabilities in the region. Both also stated that Japan and NATO’s positions on Taiwan remained unchanged and encouraged a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.

“Beijing and Moscow are leading an authoritarian pushback against the international rules-based order,” Stoltenberg said in his opening statement during his meeting with Kishida.

He said the Indo-Pacific faces growing challenges, from China’s coercive behavior to provocations by North Korea

“If President Putin wins in Ukraine, this would send a message that authoritarian regimes can achieve their goals through brute force. This is dangerous. Beijing is watching closely. And learning lessons that may influence its future decisions,” Stoltenberg said.

He added that what is happening in Europe today could happen in East Asia tomorrow.

Both leaders welcomed progress toward the new framework cooperation document between Japan and NATO, the Individually Tailored Partnership Programme (ITPP), in order to expand current Japan-NATO cooperation. Japan and NATO are exploring expanding cooperation to areas such as defense science and technology including activities with the NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO) and are also accelerating efforts to enhance information sharing.

Stoltenberg wrapped up a two-day visit to the Republic of Korea on Monday with talks with President Yoon Suk Yeol. The two leaders discussed common security challenges and how to strengthen the Alliance’s partnership with Seoul

In the South China Sea

On Friday, U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fighters embarked on amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) carried out dissimilar air combat training in international airspace in the southern reaches of the South China Sea with Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) F-15SG fighters, according to a social media post by the service.

On Sunday, embarked Rafale fighters and an E-2C Hawkeye from the carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R91), currently deployed around the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, carried out a drill off India’s west coast with Indian Air Force (IAF) Su-30MKI fighters, an IAF Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft and an IL-76 tanker.

GAO Report on Contested Information Environments

The following is the Jan. 26, 2023, Government Accountability Office report, Contested Information Environment: Actions Needed to Strengthen Education and Training for DOD Leaders. From the report What GAO Found Department of Defense (DOD) guidance for operating in a contested information environment continues to evolve as DOD works to develop and prepare leaders to make […]

The following is the Jan. 26, 2023, Government Accountability Office report, Contested Information Environment: Actions Needed to Strengthen Education and Training for DOD Leaders.

From the report

What GAO Found
Department of Defense (DOD) guidance for operating in a contested information environment continues to evolve as DOD works to develop and prepare leaders to make effective decisions. The information environment––that is, the aggregate of factors that affect how humans and automated systems derive meaning from, act upon, and are impacted by information—is at risk of adversaries from anywhere attacking and contesting it to undermine DOD operations. In 2017 DOD elevated “information” as a joint function, and in 2019 it identified Globally Integrated Operations in the Information Environment as a special area of emphasis for education. As adversaries increasingly aim to distort or compromise information available to leaders, the focus on leader decision-making approaches becomes more important to minimize negative effects on military readiness and the successful execution of military operations (see figure). DOD continues to take steps—such as establishing a doctrinal, operational, and technical framework—to improve its understanding of and effective operation in increasingly contested information environments.

As part of its efforts to prepare for contested information environments, DOD offers education and training for its leaders. However, DOD components are unclear about what information environment aspects to cover in such education and training because guidance does not specify what content to include. DOD officials also reported having limited resources for their education and training efforts and cited simulation, infrastructure, and personnel limitations as further impeding these efforts. Officials stated that these limitations hinder the creation of realistic environments in which leaders can practice decision-making skills. However, DOD has not assessed or comprehensively reviewed component assessments of resources. Until DOD develops guidance and assesses its resources, it will lack assurance that it will be able to educate and train leaders to prepare them to make decisions in a contested information environment.

Why GAO Did This Study
According to DOD, our competitors and adversaries are taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the information environment to advance their national objectives and offset the U.S.’s position as the preeminent warfighting force. DOD’s military operations in the information environment play a pivotal role in engaging our adversaries.House Report 117-118 included a provision for GAO to review DOD training that prepares leaders and service members to operate and make decisions in a contested information environment. In this report, GAO (1) describes DOD guidance that supports the department’s education and training efforts to prepare leaders to make decisions in a contested information environment and (2) assesses the extent to which DOD provides education and training designed to prepare leaders to make such decisions.GAO reviewed selected DOD strategies, policies, and course syllabi; analyzed information related to the conduct of military exercises; and interviewed officials with knowledge of the department’s education and training efforts.

What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that DOD (1) develop guidance about what content to incorporate in its education and training related to decision-making in a contested information environment and (2) assess the resources necessary to meet related education and training needs. DOD generally concurred with GAO’s recommendations.

Download the document here.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Jan. 30, 2023

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Jan. 30, 2023, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Ships Underway Total Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Jan. 30, 2023, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Ships Underway

Total Battle Force Deployed Underway
293
(USS 237, USNS 56)
102
(USS 67, USNS 35)
 58
(42 Deployed, 16 Local)

Ships Deployed by Fleet

2nd Fleet 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
1 1 1 11 20 68 102

In Japan

A sailor aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) working in the hangar bay on Jan. 30, 2023. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

In the Philippine Sea

Marines with Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, fly in a MV-22B Osprey during a rehearsal for an immediate company size reinforcement aboard the Amphibious Assault Ship USS America (LHA-6), in the Philippine Sea, Jan. 28, 2023. US Marine Corps Photo

The America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) – consisting of USS America (LHA-6), Amphibious Squadron 11, and USS Green Bay (LPD 20) – is underway in the Philippine Sea.

In the South China Sea

Sailors observe the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG-73) and the underway replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO-198) steam alongside the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Jan. 29, 2023. US Navy Photo

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group departed Singapore on Thursday after a port visit and is now back in the South China Sea, the Navy announced on Friday.

The Nimitz CSG deployed from the West Coast on Dec. 3 and chopped into U.S. 7th Fleet on Dec. 16.

Carrier Strike Group 11

Sailors observe from the fantail aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) as the ship gets underway from the Republic of Singapore on Jan. 25, 2023. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier

USS Nimitz (CVN-68), homeported in Bremerton, Wash.

Carrier Air Wing 17

An F/A-18F Super Hornet from the “Mighty Shrikes” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 94 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) on Jan. 27, 2023. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Nimitz and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Fighting Redcocks” of VFA-22 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA-94 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Kestrels” of VFA-137 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Blue Diamonds” of VFA 146 – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Cougars” of VAQ-139 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Sun Kings” of VAW-116 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Indians” of HSC-6 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Battle Cats” of HSM-73 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

Ens. Dennis Krivida, from Kensington, Md., stands watch on the bridge of the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) on Jan. 18, 2023. US Navy Photo

USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 9

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG-73) steams near the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Jan. 29, 2023. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 9 is based in Everett, Wash., and is embarked on Nimitz.

  • USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108), homeported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), homeported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor.
  • USS Decatur (DDG-73), homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.
  • USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60), homeported at Naval Station San Diego.

In Singapore

Marines with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) leave from an MV-22 Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor (VMM) 362 (Rein.), 13th MEU, on the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8), Jan. 20, 2023 in the South China Sea. US Navy Photo

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are at Changi Naval Base in Singapore. USS Makin Island (LHD-8), the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, left Naval Base San Diego on Nov. 9 for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific.

The ARG completed the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Sri Lanka 2023 in Colombo, Sri Lanka last week following eight days of in-person and at-sea exercises.

“CARAT/MAREX Sri Lanka took place in Colombo, at Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) bases in Trincomalee and Mullikullam, and in the Laccadive Sea, Jan. 19-26. The exercise focused on increasing proficiency in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief (HADR), and maritime security capabilities,” reads a statement from the U.S. Navy.

Sri Lanka Navy offshore patrol vessels SLNS Gajabahu (P 626) and SLNS Vijayabahu (P 627) operated with USS Anchorage (LPD-23), with the embarked 13th MEU at sea. This year’s exercise included participants from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Maldives National Defense Force, as well as the Sri Lanka Air Force.

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 13, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Sri Lankan marines brief the route plan during a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief exercise, Jan. 23, 2023 in Mullikulam. US Marine Corps Photo

“For the HADR training, two USN landing craft transferred troops, supplies, and vehicles ashore to a beach area of Mullikulam,” according to the statement.
“Additional exercises conducted at sea included divisional tactics, visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS), replenishment-at-sea approaches, and reconnaissance and gunnery exercises. Helicopters aboard Anchorage successfully carried out VBSS exercises, embarkation, and disembarkation of personnel and material on the decks of the SLN ships involved in the sea phase.”

The ARG includes Makin Island and amphibious transport docks USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) and USS Anchorage (LPD-23). During the deployment to the Western Pacific, the ARG has worked with other U.S. assets, including Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, P-8A Poseidon aircraft and personnel from U.S. 7th Fleet and CTF 72, 73, 75, 76/3, Destroyer Squadron 7, and Amphibious Squadron 7. Task Force 76/3 recently formed as a result of merging the staffs of the Navy’s TF 76 and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The MEU includes the aviation combat element with the “Flying Leathernecks” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 flying F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and the “Ugly Angels” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 362 (Reinforced) flying MV-22B Ospreys; the logistics combat element made up of Combat Logistics Battalion 13; and the ground combat element with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines.

In the Adriatic Sea

Israeli Lt. Gen. Hertzi Halevi, chief of the general staff, Israeli Defense Force, during a press conference aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) during exercise Juniper Oak 2023-2, Jan. 26, 2023. US Navy Photo

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the Adriatic Sea. Last week, USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) participated in Juniper Oak, joint drills between Israel and the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) continues to operate in U.S. 5th Fleet.

Carrier Strike Group 10

An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter, attached to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46, takes off from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) during flight operations on Jan. 24, 2023. US Navy Photo

Carrier

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 7

An E-2D Hawkeye aircraft, attached to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, flies over the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), Jan. 27, 2023. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, based on Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked on Bush and includes:

  • The “Pukin’ Dogs” of VFA-143 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sidewinders” of VFA-86 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Knighthawks” of VFA-136 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Patriots” of VAQ-140 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bluetails” of VAW-121 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Nightdippers” of HSC-5 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Grandmasters” of HSM-46 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) sails with the Israeli Navy during Juniper Oak 2023-2, Jan. 24, 2023. US Navy Photo

USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron

Sailors assigned to guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG-103) man the rails during a scheduled port visit to Haifa, Israel, Jan. 27, 2023. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 26 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier. The following ships deployed with the strike group.

  • USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Truxtun (DDG-103), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Farragut (DDG-99), homeported at Naval Station Mayport.
  • USS Nitze (DDG-94), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

In the Western Atlantic

Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) 3rd Class James Heddings, from Kansas City, Missouri, conducts preflight safety checks on an MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter, attached to the ‘Dusty Dogs’ of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 7, on the flight deck aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69). US Navy Photo

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), USS Bataan (LHD 5) and USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) are underway in the Western Atlantic.

Dwight D. Eisenhower is in the Virginia Capes conducting flight operations after completing a 15-month maintenance period in December. The 45-year-old carrier completed back-to-back deployments on July 18, 2021.

Kearsarge returned home to Norfolk and Virginia Beach, Va., after completing a seven-month deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operation on Oct. 13.

Bataan is conducting deck landing qualifications.

A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 (VMM-162) Reinforced, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), conducts deck landing qualifications aboard the Wasp-class Amphibious Assault Ship Class USS Bataan (LHD-5) during Amphibious Squadron/MEU Integrated Training, Jan. 27, 2023. US Marine Corps Photo

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units and more serving throughout the globe.

USS Nimitz Back in the South China Sea After Singapore Port Visit

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group departed Singapore on Thursday after a port visit and is now back in the South China Sea, the Navy announced on Friday. The Nimitz CSG – including carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and destroyers USS Decatur (DDG-73), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) – arrived in Singapore at […]

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) steams through the South China Sea. Nimitz in U.S. 7th Fleet conducting routine operations on Jan. 13, 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group departed Singapore on Thursday after a port visit and is now back in the South China Sea, the Navy announced on Friday.

The Nimitz CSG – including carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and destroyers USS Decatur (DDG-73), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) – arrived in Singapore at Changi Naval Base on Saturday, a day before the Chinese New Year period, known as Spring Festival in China, began on Sunday. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) generally has a less intensive operational deployment during this time, similar to western navies during the Christmas holiday period.

Prior to its arrival in Singapore, the Nimitz CSG operated in the Philippine Sea and South China Sea, where it performed “maritime strike training, anti-submarine operations, integrated multi-domain and joint training between surface and air elements, and flight operations with fixed and rotary wing aircraft, according to a Navy news release. The Nimitz CSG deployed from the West Coast on Dec. 3 and chopped into U.S. 7th Fleet on Dec. 16. The two other ships that are part of the CSG, cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) and destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60), are currently operating independently in the Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean, respectively, according to Pentagon photo releases.

Also in the South China Sea is USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26), along with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, which also includes with USS Anchorage (LPD-23), left Naval Base San Diego, Calif., in November for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific. Anchorage wrapped up its participation in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Sri Lanka 2023 on Thursday, according to a Navy statement.

The exercise began on Jan. 19 in Colombo at two Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) bases and also in the Laccadive Sea, according to a 7th Fleet news release.

“The exercise focused on increasing proficiency in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief (HADR), and maritime security capabilities,” the release reads.

The U.S. Navy sent Anchorage and the 13th MEU embarked to the sea phase of the exercise, while the Sri Lanka Navy sent two offshore patrol vessels – SLNS Gajabahu (P 626) and SLNS Vijayabahu (P 627), according to 7th Fleet. Sri Lanka’s air force, the Japan Maritime-Self Defense Force, and the Maldives National Defense Force also joined for the drills.

“Additional exercises conducted at sea included divisional tactics, visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS), replenishment-at-sea approaches, and reconnaissance and gunnery exercises. Helicopters aboard Anchorage successfully carried out VBSS exercises, embarkation, and disembarkation of personnel and material on the decks of the SLN ships involved in the sea phase,” according to the 7th Fleet release.

JS Suzutsuki conducted a bilateral exercise with the French Navy Charles de Gaulle CSG in the vicinity of Western Arabian Sea. JMSDF Photo

Nearby in the Indian Ocean, the French Navy’s Charles De Gaulle CSG continues its deployment after wrapping up the Varuna joint exercise with the Indian Navy on Jan. 20. The Charles De Gaulle CSG currently includes carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R91), destroyers FS Forbin (D620) and FS Provence (D652), and replenishment ship FS Marne (A360).

Meanwhile, on Friday the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force issued a news release announcing that “Iron Fist 23” will take place from Feb. 16 to March 12 between the JGSDF and the U.S. Marine Corps’ III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The drills will take place near the JGSDF Hijyudai Maneuver Area on Kyushu, Tokunoshima Island and Kikaijima Island, both part of the Amani Islands lying between Kyushu and Okinawa and Camp Hansen, Okinawa, while aviation units will largely stage out of JGSDF Camp Takayubaru on Kyushu. JGSDF forces taking part in the exercise will be the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), 1st Airborne Brigade, and 1st Helicopter Brigade, along with the Western Army Aviation Unit. The U.S. Marine Corps’ 31st MEU will participate, while the U.S. Navy and JMSDF will participate with the America ARG – which features amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD-20), and dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD-48) – and LST JS Osumi (LST-4001), respectively.

According to the JGSDF news release, this Iron Fist is the first time the drills will take place with both III MEF and in the Western Pacific. The goal is to perform joint operations between Japan and the U.S.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR) is about to begin a training exercise, according to a Marine Corps news release issued on Friday.

“This will be the eighth exercise the MLR has participated in since re-designating last year,” Col. Timothy Brady, the commanding officer of the 3rd MLR, said in the release. “We’ve progressed from wargaming Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations in a classroom to now conducting EABO at a service-level training exercise operating as a Stand-in Force under a Division headquarters. MLR-TE gives us a chance to train hard, refine tactics and procedures, and continue to rapidly develop this force of the future.”

The Marine Corps plans to take lessons learned from the training event and apply them to Balikatan 2023 in the Philippines in April, according to the release.

In the Philippine Sea, U.S Navy ships from commander, Task Force (CTF) 70 and commander, Task Force (CTF) 71 finished the Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) drills, according to a separate news release from 7th Fleet.

“Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Japan (FDNF-J) SWATT 2023 was the first multi-international iteration of the exercise with participation from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF),” the release reads.

CNS Yuhengxing (798) Japanese MoD photo

For the U.S. Navy, cruisers USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), USS Antietam (CG-54) and USS Shiloh (CG-67), destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) and replenishment ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE-11) participated in the exercise, while destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG-178) joined for the JMSDF. From Jan. 15 through Jan. 23, Ashigara conducted tactical exercises with those U.S. ships and replenishment ship USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) from south of Kanto, near Okinawa, south of Shikoku Island, according to a news release the JMSDF issued Monday. A Friday JMSDF release said replenishment ship JS Oumi (AOE-426) conducted a replenishment exercise with Antietam on Thursday near Okinawa.

Also on Thursday, a Chinese Dongdiao-class surveillance vessel was sighted at 10 a.m. local time that day sailing northwest in an area 150 kilometers east of Miyako Island, the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s Ministry of Defense said in a news release. The hull number and image in the release identified the ship as CNS Yuhengxing (798) and the ship subsequently sailed northwest through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea. The release noted that the PLAN ship had transited southeast through the Miyako Strait on Jan. 19, and that minesweeper JS Shishijima (MSC-691) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa monitored.

Marines Turning to Outside Experts for Fixes to Recruiting Challenge

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Fifty years after the United States turned to the all-volunteer force, a group of Marines gathered to hear outside experts discuss how to man the force between now and 2040. The Marine Corps, like the other branches, faces a competitive recruiting environment, which it is trying to overcome with a variety of […]

Recruits with Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, learn and apply rappelling techniques on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., October 31, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Fifty years after the United States turned to the all-volunteer force, a group of Marines gathered to hear outside experts discuss how to man the force between now and 2040.

The Marine Corps, like the other branches, faces a competitive recruiting environment, which it is trying to overcome with a variety of talent management programs. But Wednesday, the Marines took a listening role as they sat through multiple panels at the Naval Institute’s Jack C. Taylor Conference Center. Later, Marine leaders would take what they heard and aim to turn it into action, Assistant Commandant Gen. Eric Smith said during his opening remarks.

The Marines have turned to new ideas through their Talent Management 2030, the personnel side of the service’s Force Design 2030. The latest plan stresses retention and maturing the force over a high turnover rate and recruiting the service has been known for in the past. Now, the Marines need to figure out how to continue to recruit enough new Marines each year.

In Fiscal Year 2022, the Marines brought on 33,210 enlisted active-duty Marines, meeting the service’s recruiting goal, but commandant Gen. David Berger has raised concerns that it will not be able to keep meeting those goals.

“Nothing is off the table, except we’re not lowering our standards,” Smith said.

The military cannot be a family business, he said, after asking anyone in uniform to raise their hand if they had a family member who served. The majority raised their hands. Even Smith contributes to that family business. His son is a Marine.

“I really do have skin in this game, and this is personal for me,” he said.

With China as the pacing threat, the numbers do not look good in terms of bodies, Smith said. China has a larger population that can fill its military in the short term. In the United States, the numbers are smaller, reduced even further by fewer young people able to meet eligibility requirements and who have the desire to serve.

“It is just a matter of time before we are once again called to defend our nation and, perhaps, on our own shores,” he said.

The theatres where conflict could occur are expanding, said Jack Goldstone, chair of public policy at George Mason University. The highest growth of young populations is in Asia and Africa, he said.

China’s population growth is slowing, which could lead to President Xi Jinping pushing for a Taiwan invasion in the next 10 years while the population is still strong, Goldstone said. But the population increases in African countries are going to also pose a challenge for the military.

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, speaks during his visit to Recruiting Sub-Station, College Station, Texas, Nov. 18, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

China can do more than outmatch the United States in manpower, said Francis Hoffman, a distinguished research fellow at National Defense University. The country also has economic and technological advantages.

Hoffman does not necessarily agree with the idea of China as a pacing threat, saying it is too general. There are multiple futures for which the U.S. needs to prepare, he said.

Marines of the future will need to be more tech-savvy and collaborative, he said.

Technology can help address manpower concerns, said Paul Scharre, vice president at Center for New American Studies. But the Marine Corps will have to ask what can machines do and what still needs a human touch or decision.

Looking toward the future, one aspect that might need to change is the overhaul of the officer system, Scharre said. He questioned why recent college graduates, who go through officer programs, are put into the middle manager version of a position in the military. The system harkens back to the British influence on the country, he said.

“It’s fundamentally unAmerican,” Scharre said. “I don’t know why we do it.”

Instead, there needs to be more education available for enlisted service members so they can get into leadership positions, bringing their time and experience into the positions, he said.
Identifying what the 2040 force will face is one challenge. The other is figuring out how to ensure there are enough people that want to and can serve.

There are systemic issues that are affecting the population that can serve. Obesity, drug use and felony convictions pick away at the population of young Americans targeted by the services. Roughly one in seven men in the United States has a felony conviction, said Nicholas Eberstadt, Henry Wendt chair in political economy at the American Enterprise Institute.

Then there is the issue of willingness to serve. Only half of Americans 18-29 years old think the military has a positive effect, said Richard Fry, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center.

Nationally, fertility rates are dropping – there were 58.21 births per 1,000 women in 2019 versus 70.77 in 1990, according to the Census Bureau – but immigration is rising, which means that there will still be a number of young adults, Fry said. Immigrants are a population that the military can pull from, Goldstone said. There are young people who would take the opportunity to join the military as a way to get citizenship.

“So just like all the tech companies in Silicon Valley that are recruiting engineers from around the world, the military should, I think, take a leading role in exploring ways to draw on the strength of immigrants and have immigrants a big part of our National Service and National Defense as they always have been,” he said.

The military needs to expand the pools where it recruits, said Lindsay Cohn, an associate professor at the Naval War College.

U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, raise their right hand during the Oath of Allegiance aboard the Battleship USS North Carolina Dec. 2, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

“The idea that you should only fish where there are fish, I get that it makes total sense, Cohn said. “But you have to expand your idea of who the fish are. Because if you just go to the places where you have an easy time recruiting numbers, you’re not going to get the force that you need.”

This includes seeking out more women to serve, she said. In addition to seeking out more places to find recruits, the military needs to go to populations that have been less tapped, like women, said Meredith Kleykamp, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland.

Recruiting messaging also needs to change, Kleykamp said. Right now, the message being shared is the one that encouraged current Marine leadership to join. But the Marines need to appeal to future generations.

“And those are the people we need to recruit and the institution needs to be a place that is seen as a desirable place to go for people who both want to serve the nation and fight and defend the country but also who have a very clear sense of justice about our collective national values,” Kleykamp said.

It is not that young people do not want to serve, Cohn said. They just want to serve different communities. The service branches need to appeal to young Americans as their community.

Younger people also see problems as not requiring force, and if there’s no need for force, the military has less importance, Cohn said. When it comes to China, young Americans think the country will affect their lives but they do not see it as a military problem.

That mindset needs to change in order to get more people who want to serve, she said.

The military also needs to figure out how to better recruit those who have already been to college or those considered difficult to recruit, Kleykamp said.

The military does not want to lower its standards, but there are military policies that are kept because it has always been that way not function, Cohn said. She raised the question of haircuts and if it was because of function or history.

Marijuana use is another issue that could be changed, she said. As a compromise, the military could let in people who have used marijuana in the past but not allow use once recruits are in the service.

Medication is another area that can be examined as society as a whole is more medicated now, Cohn said.

Recruiting is about getting those who do not have the desire to serve into the military, said Beth Asch, a senior economist at RAND. Incentives offered by the service branches are good, but they only help push those already considering service.

The military is stressing its recruiting system, said Todd Harrison, managing director at Metrea Strategic Insights. The service branches have made do, but it comes at the cost of lowering standards.

“I don’t think it’s a money problem,” Harrison said. “I think it is a culture problem. It is a career model problem. And then there are some limitations that we’ve artificially imposed on ourselves that are holding us back and making it difficult to recruit the people that we need.”

Recruits with Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, conduct physical training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Jan. 18, 2023. US Marine Corps Photo

The military’s reliance on the pyramid model, where many people start at the bottom and few rise to the top is also hurting the military, Harrison said.

“We build ourselves in an inefficient way to try to maintain this pyramid structure,” he said.

It also leads to an up-and-out problem, where those who want to stay are pushed out because they are not promoted, Cohn said.

The military needs to move beyond the industrial model that drove it in the past, he said, a sentiment Cohn echoed. It is not about putting bodies in the Marines anymore, they said. It’s about finding the best and the brightest.

“That is the Marine Corps today, that is who you are today,” Harrison said. “Is that who we want to be in the future?”

Carrier USS George H. W. Bush in Eastern Mediterranean in Joint U.S.-Israel Exercise Juniper Oak

Aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) is participating in the Juniper Oak, joint drills between Israel and the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The exercise kicked off on Sunday and will include assets from across the U.S. military branches, U.S. Central Command said in a news release this week. “This exercise […]

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group sails in formation with the Israeli Navy during exercise Juniper Oak 2023-2, Jan. 24, 2023 in the Mediterranean Sea. U.S. Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) is participating in the Juniper Oak, joint drills between Israel and the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The exercise kicked off on Sunday and will include assets from across the U.S. military branches, U.S. Central Command said in a news release this week.

“This exercise will include a large-scale live fire event with over 140 aircraft including B-52s, F-35s, F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s, AC-130, AH64s, 12 naval vessels, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems,” reads the CENTCOM release.

CENTCOM is billing the exercise as the largest bilateral exercise between the U.S. and Israel ever.

A Tuesday Defense Department image showed the George H. W. Bush carrier strike group operating in the Eastern Mediterranean for the exercise.

“Juniper Oak is a Combined Joint All-Domain exercise which improves our interoperability on land, in the air, at sea, in space, and in cyberspace with our partners, enhances our ability to respond to contingencies, and underscores our commitment to the Middle East,” CENTCOM commander Army Gen. Michael Kurilla said in the release.

Bush has been operating throughout the Mediterranean since August when it relieved the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. For the last five months, the Bush CSG has remained in the Mediterranean amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Since December 2021, there has been a continued U.S. carrier presence in the Mediterranean. The last carrier to operate in the Middle East was the Japan-based USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in conjunction with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

Marines Buy 2 XQ-58A Valkyrie Drones for ‘Collaborative Killer’ Concept Testing

The Marine Corps used a new Pentagon program designed to quickly prototype systems for conflict in the Pacific to buy two unmanned aerial vehicles last month for $15.5 million, a service official told USNI News on Tuesday. The contract to Kratos for the pair of XQ-58A Valkyrie “loyal wingman” drones was bought through the Naval Air […]

The Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie is an experimental stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle designed and built by Kratos. US Air Force Photo

The Marine Corps used a new Pentagon program designed to quickly prototype systems for conflict in the Pacific to buy two unmanned aerial vehicles last month for $15.5 million, a service official told USNI News on Tuesday.

The contract to Kratos for the pair of XQ-58A Valkyrie “loyal wingman” drones was bought through the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division under the Department of Defense Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) and wasn’t part of the Navy’s ongoing Next Generation Air Dominance program, Marine Maj. Jay Hernandez told USNI News.

“This purchase is part of ongoing USMC efforts to look at future autonomous collaborative platforms and is not tied to the Next Generation Air Dominance Program, or any other Air Force or Navy programs. The base contract was awarded primarily for the baseline aircraft—a decision for future modifications and operations has not been made as these aircraft are for experimental use,” he said.
“This project officially started with the award of the base contract and will develop into experimentation in [Fiscal Year] 24.”

The Pentagon awarded the contract on Dec. 30, and the initial announcement did not say the purchase was for the Marine RDER effort. Naval Air Systems Command did not respond to a request for comment when asked by USNI News in December. Breaking Defense first reported the contract’s connection to the Marines on Monday.

The UASs should have “sensor and weapon system payloads to accomplish the penetrating affordable autonomous collaborative killer” mission, according to the DoD announcement.

The two drones are part of the RDER experimentation program that allows services to military items to quickly test concepts with systems already in use in other arenas with an emphasis on the needs of commands in the Indo-Pacific.

2018 Kratos data sheet on the XQ-58 UAVs

“RDER is really a whole of [Defense Department] effort that’s focused on the exploitation of advanced technologies in order to provide capabilities that address some of our most pressing or difficult military challenges,” Air Force Col. Corey Beaverson said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Future Force 2022 conference in September, reported National Defense Magazine.
“The focus is going to be on long-range kill chains, long-range fires, command and control capabilities: how do we operate in a contested logistics environment? How do we defend forward fixed bases?”

The Valkyries were developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory to be a high-speed, low-cost aircraft developed for the AFRL’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) project.

“The LCAAT portfolio was established to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft and provide an unmanned escort or wingman aircraft alongside a crewed fighter aircraft in combat,” according to Kratos.

The XQ-58As can operate without a runway and carry a variety of payloads from weapons to communication relays at a range of about 3,000 nautical miles with a cruising speed of about 550 miles per hour, according to a 2018 datasheet from Kratos. In addition to launching from land, Kratos developed a version of the UAV that can be moved in a standard shipping container.

Both the Air Force and Marines are developing expeditionary aviation concepts for their respective services. The Air Force is refining its Agile Combat Employment – a concept that disperses combat air power across several expeditionary bases. The Marines have also experimented with the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) that will be key to how it says it will fight in the island campaigns in modern conflict. The Marines have tested assembling remote airfields to support F-35s in austere locations.

The Marines are also experimenting with other unmanned vehicles like the MQ-9 Reaper UAV, unmanned ground vehicles and is developing its own large, unmanned surface vessel program.

New Marine Training Plan Emphasizes Technology to Prepare for Modern Conflict

THE PENTAGON – The Marine Corps laid out a plan Tuesday for transforming training and education of the force through advancements in technology and a focus on critical thinking that will better shape Marines for future operations. Training and Education 2030 is the latest strategy document produced by the Marine Corps as part of its […]

Recruits with Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, initiate the Crucible with a hike at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C, Jan. 12, 2023. US Marine Corps Photo

THE PENTAGON – The Marine Corps laid out a plan Tuesday for transforming training and education of the force through advancements in technology and a focus on critical thinking that will better shape Marines for future operations.

Training and Education 2030 is the latest strategy document produced by the Marine Corps as part of its Force Design 2030 effort to reshape the service for modern conflict. Training and Education 2030 is a companion policy to Talent Management 2030 released last year.

Under the new plan, the Marine Corps aims to move away from some of the repetitive training and replace it with exercises that require critical thinking to help young Marines learn to make battlefield decisions, said Lt. Gen. Kevin Iiams, commanding general of Training and Education.

“There’s a sacred process to making a Marine,” Iiams said. “That’s not going to change.”
The critical thinking piece is going to allow the Marines to prepare for what the Marine Corps leaders predict the future will hold as well as unknowns, he told reporters during a roundtable on Tuesday.

The document, which lays out a number of objectives and areas of further study, along with deadlines for each, also formalizes the commanding general of Training and Education as a new deputy commandant.

Training and Education 2030 will build on the core legacy of the Marine Corps, through more integration and abilities provided by technology not previously available or used.

“They want to talk,” Iiams said. “They want to be part of solutions. They want to be thinkers and what we’re doing is we’re just unchaining them, they have capability well beyond anything that we ever imagined. And this is just us recognizing that and finding a ways and a means to unleash it.”

The focus on critical thinking is one way that the Marine Corps can mature the force without just bringing in and retaining older Marines, said Col. Joseph Farley, assistant chief of staff for Training and Education Command.

The training program also lays out some new standards for the Marines, including an emphasis on swimming.

For the past 20 years, the Marine Corps was focused on the Middle East, with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. With the change of focus to the Indo-Pacific, Marines need to be better equipped to be in the water, said Col. Eric Quehl, director of the policy and standards division in the Training and Education Command.

A U.S. Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Maritime Raid Force prepares to breach and entrance during a limited scale raid as part of Realistic Urban Training Exercise 23.1 on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Jan. 11, 2023. US Marine Corps Photo

One aspect of the training plan is Project Tripoli, which will eventually allow for integrated training across the globe through the use of simulations. The idea behind Project Tripoli is that different units will be able to train together even when not in the same place through a combination of live and simulated training.

As an example, Iiams said a situation under Project Tripoli is a lance corporal using a blended reality system to train at Twentynine Palms, Calif., with an F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter pilot using the same training system in a simulator from the East Coast.

“So the airplane doesn’t exist, he sees it as an avatar as being flown by a pilot on the East Coast, that pilot looks down and can actually see the entire grand scheme of maneuver, and can strike and employ in support of the forces,” he said. “That simulator might also be flying in a formation with a live airplane, that live airplane looks over and actually sees its wingman avatar.”

Tripoli also helps to address the lack of long ranges that are required for training on long-range precision missiles or ranges that allow for Marines to test equipment like jammers, Iiams said.

With the use of virtual space, the Marines are able to do this type of training within the space the service already has.

It also allows for more real-time adjudication and feedback, Iiams said.

“We know that Marines learn, humans, learn, in real-time,” he said.

The virtual aspect can also help with safety around training, as it’ll allow for progressive training, said Col. Mark Smith, director of range training programs division under the Training and Education Command.

That sort of progressive training means that a Marine might be able to train on the basics before using live fires, Smith said. Or they can do training that would be considered riskier in a safe environment because of the virtual element.

It also allows Marines to train their critical thinking skills in an environment where they cannot get hurt, Farley said.

The Marine Corps has a mishap library from training exercises so Marines can see mistakes made by other units when training in order to learn and avoid making similar ones, Iiams said.

Aspects of the new training policy are already in effect. Training and Education 2030 lays out new standards and training for marksmanship with a new advanced rifle qualification course, Iiams said.

“[It is] more offensively minded,” Iiams said. “It’s combat related, it’s positional shooting, it’s talking about how they’re actually going to employ their [weapons], teaching them how they’re going to employ their weapons in combat, instead of just marksmanship.”

A U.S. Marine with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Maritime Raid Force signals platoon to halt while on patrol during a limited scale raid as part of Realistic Urban Training Exercise 23.1 on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Jan. 11, 2023. US Marine Corps Photo

Marksmanship is more than firing at static paper targets, Quehl said. Instead, the Marines are using training that requires service members to start at farther positions and progress toward the target to simulate a combat situation.

That’s already been rolled out in the fleet, but they are still working toward full operational capability, he said.

The Marine Corps is a learning organization, said Sgt. Maj. Stephen Griffin, command senior enlisted leader of Marine Corps Training and Education Command.

The document lays out the plan for how to modernize the force to be able to address future operations, Iiams said.

“And I think what’s really key here when we talk about the document, as much as we’re talking about new, is this document actually builds on the core legacy of high standards. It’s really, really rooted in our core values, our warfighting ethos, what we consider for our Marines, you know, a desire for a bias for action. And then, you know, really our cornerstone document, which is MCDP 1 Warfighting, and that’s all of the tenets of maneuver warfare.”

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Jan. 23, 2023

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Jan. 23, 2023, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Ships Underway Total Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Jan. 23, 2023, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Ships Underway

Total Battle Force Deployed Underway
293
(USS 237, USNS 56)
101

 68
(46 Deployed, 22 Local)

Ships Deployed by Fleet

2nd Fleet 3rd Fleet 4th Fleet 5th Fleet 6th Fleet 7th Fleet Total
1 0 1 10 21 68 101

In Japan

Sailors aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), hang a ‘Don’t Give Up The Ship’ banner in the hangar bay, while in-port Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Jan. 17, 2023. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

In the Philippine Sea

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Kenny Ngo, from Upland, California, assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault carrier USS America (LHA-6), directs an F-35B Lightning II aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 242 on the ship’s flight deck while sailing in the Philippine Sea, Jan. 15, 2023. US Navy Photo

The America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is underway in the Philippine Sea.

In Singapore

A sailor observes as an aircraft makes an arrested landing on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Jan. 18, 2023. US Navy Photo

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is in Singapore at the Changi Naval Base.

The Nimitz CSG deployed from the West Coast on Dec. 3 and chopped into U.S. 7th Fleet on Dec. 16.

Carrier Strike Group 11

Sailors refuel an MV-22 Osprey from the ‘Ugly Angels’ of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 362 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Jan. 20, 2023. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier

USS Nimitz (CVN-68), homeported in Bremerton, Wash.

Carrier Air Wing 17

Sailor directs an E/A-18G Growler from the ‘Cougars’ of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 139 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) on Jan. 19, 2023. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Nimitz and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Fighting Redcocks” of VFA-22 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Mighty Shrikes” of VFA-94 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Kestrels” of VFA-137 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Blue Diamonds” of VFA 146 – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Cougars” of VAQ-139 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Sun Kings” of VAW-116 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Indians” of HSC-6 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Battle Cats” of HSM-73 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Cassidy Johnson, left, from St. Petersburg, Fla., and Operations Specialist 2nd Class Mathew Zelek, from Chicago, practice drawing charts in the combat information center aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) on Jan. 17, 2023. US Navy Photo

USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 9

Retail Services Specialist Seaman Jarod Gonzales gives a haircut to Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class Alex Martinez aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) on Jan. 17, 2023. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 9 is based in Everett, Wash., and is embarked on Nimitz.

  • USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108), homeported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), homeported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor.
  • USS Decatur (DDG-73), homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif.
  • USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60), homeported at Naval Station San Diego.

In the South China Sea

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122) taking off from USS Makin Island (LHD-8). US Navy Photo via Facebook

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are in the South China Sea. USS Makin Island (LHD-8), the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, left Naval Base San Diego on Nov. 9 for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific.

The Makin Island ARG and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) wrapped up the Singapore phase of the 2022 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise serials on Jan. 13.

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps began exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Sri Lanka 2023 with the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) and Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) in Colombo, on Jan. 19, 2023.

USS Anchorage (LPD-23) and elements of the 13th MEU will participate in the at-sea portion of the exercise in the Indian Ocean and Laccadive Sea.

The ARG includes Makin Island and amphibious transport docks USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) and USS Anchorage (LPD-23). During the deployment to the Western Pacific, the ARG has worked with other U.S. assets, including Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, P-8A Poseidon aircraft and personnel from U.S. 7th Fleet and CTF 72, 73, 75, 76/3, Destroyer Squadron 7, and Amphibious Squadron 7. Task Force 76/3 recently formed as a result of merging the staffs of the Navy’s TF 76 and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The MEU includes the aviation combat element with the “Flying Leathernecks” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122 flying F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and the “Ugly Angels” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 362 (Reinforced) flying MV-22B Ospreys; the logistics combat element made up of Combat Logistics Battalion 13; and the ground combat element with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines.

In the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 3rd Class Christian Pedro, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, is raised out of the water during a combat search and rescue training evolution, Jan. 19, 2023. US Navy Photo

The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, near Crete.

USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) continues to operate in the U.S. 5th Fleet.

Carrier Strike Group 10

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Anthony Valladares, assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), uses a rivet gun to secure arresting gear cables, Jan. 18, 2023. US Navy Photo

Carrier

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 7

Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Jason Ogletree, assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), directs an F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136, on the flight deck, Jan. 17, 2023. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, based on Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., is embarked on Bush and includes:

  • The “Pukin’ Dogs” of VFA-143 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Es from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sidewinders” of VFA-86 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Knighthawks” of VFA-136 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Patriots” of VAQ-140 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Bluetails” of VAW-121 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Nightdippers” of HSC-5 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Grandmasters” of HSM-46 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) sails alongside the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) while an F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft, attached to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, takes off during operations in the Adriatic Sea, Jan. 15, 2023. US Navy Photo

USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron

Yeoman 1st Class Cornell King, assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), responds to a simulated casualty during a general quarters drill, Jan. 17, 2023. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 26 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier. The following ships deployed with the strike group.

  • USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • USS Truxtun (DDG-103), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Farragut (DDG-99), homeported at Naval Station Mayport.
  • USS Nitze (DDG-94), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

In the Eastern Pacific

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) conducts an ammunition transfer with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) during a replenishment-at-sea with USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187) on Jan. 20, 2023. US Navy Photo

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and USS Tripoli (LHA-7) are underway in the Southern California Operating Areas.

In the Western Atlantic

Capt. Robert Weede, an AV-8B Harrier II jet pilot with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 231, receives fuel in an AV-8B Harrier II jet on the flight deck aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), Dec. 6, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) is underway in the Western Atlantic.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units and more serving throughout the globe.

GAO Report on Emerging Pentagon Battle Management Programs

The following is the January Government Accountability Office report, Battle Management DOD and Air Force Continue to Define Joint Command and Control Efforts. What GAO Found Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) is a long-term effort to connect military assets across space, air, land, sea, and cyber domains. The Department of Defense (DOD) intends for […]

The following is the January Government Accountability Office report, Battle Management DOD and Air Force Continue to Define Joint Command and Control Efforts.

What GAO Found

Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) is a long-term effort to connect military assets across space, air, land, sea, and cyber domains. The Department of Defense (DOD) intends for JADC2 to analyze warfighting data across all of those domains to allow decision makers to identify, execute, and monitor operations more effectively.

DOD is in the early stages of developing JADC2 and released initial guidance, including a strategy that outlines broad goals. However, DOD has not yet defined the details, such as which existing systems will contribute to JADC2 and what future capabilities need to be developed. A House report directed DOD to report on the scope, cost, and schedule of the overall JADC2 effort. Currently, DOD is in the early stages of determining those elements.

In April 2020, GAO reported on the Air Force’s contribution to JADC2—the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS)—and recommended that the Air Force develop acquisition and planning documents. Since then, the Air Force has taken steps to do so and has defined two ABMS efforts:

• Capability Release 1 intends, in part, to enable F-35 data connectivity with command and control centers, and the Air Force plans to deliver prototypes in 2024. This is a shift from original Capability Release 1 plans, which also included F-22 data connectivity. The Air Force intends to update documents to reflect this change.

• Cloud-Based Command and Control intends to integrate a variety of air defense data sources to support homeland defense. The Air Force plans to deliver initial capabilities in 2023; however, it is in the process of identifying those capabilities.

In June 2022, the Air Force established a consortium of companies to assist in developing requirements for a network, called the ABMS Digital Infrastructure, to enable ABMS efforts. Additionally, in September 2022, the Air Force established a new leadership structure for ABMS. While these are positive steps toward developing ABMS, the Air Force has not delivered any capabilities to date and is in the process of identifying future capabilities and when they will be delivered.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOD military commanders require a real-time, complete picture of the battlespace to quickly make informed decisions. Historically, DOD has prioritized individual systems over joint capabilities and interoperability. DOD intends for JADC2 to address this issue by connecting warfighting capabilities through digital networks to enable commanders to effectively communicate and share information. Each military department is contributing to JADC2; the Air Force’s part is called ABMS.

Members of Congress included a provision for GAO to conduct a review of ABMS. In addition, GAO was asked to evaluate how ABMS will contribute to DOD’s broader goals for JADC2. This report addresses the extent to which (1) DOD has defined JADC2, and (2) the Air Force has developed plans for ABMS.

GAO reviewed planning and acquisition documents for JADC2 and ABMS, JADC2 implementation guidance, and ABMS contracts, among other documents. GAO also interviewed officials from the Joint Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Air Force (including ABMS leadership), Space Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Army.

What GAO Recommends

In April 2020, GAO recommended the Air Force develop a plan to mature technologies, develop a cost estimate, and conduct an affordability analysis for ABMS. DOD concurred. The Air Force is taking steps to address the recommendations—through acquisition and planning documents—but needs to do more to fully address them.

Download the document here.