US Needs Game-Changing Military Innovation

US Needs  Game-Changing  Military InnovationUS Needs  Game-Changing  Military Innovation

Wary of a more muscular Russia and China, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Saturday the Pentagon will make a new push for fresh thinking about how the US can keep and extend its military superiority despite tighter budgets and the wear and tear of 13 years of war.

Hagel announced a “defense innovation initiative” that he likened to campaigns during the Cold War to offset military advantages of US adversaries. He described a “game-changing” strategy to sharpen American’s military edge in the face of budget impasses on Capitol Hill, the AP reported.

“We must change the way we innovate, operate and do business,” he told a defense forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

In a memo to Pentagon leaders in which he outlined the initiative, Hagel said the US must not lose its commanding edge in military technology.

“While we have been engaged in two large land-mass wars over the last 13 years, potential adversaries have been modernizing their militaries, developing and proliferating disruptive capabilities across the spectrum of conflict. This represents a clear and growing challenge to our military power,” he wrote.

In separate remarks to the defense forum, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James Winnefeld, said Russia and China began reasserting themselves on the world stage to capitalize on America’s “distraction” in the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“In protecting our allies against potential mischief from these powers, we’ve always counted on our overmatch in capability and capacity to offset the challenges of distance and initiative,” Winnefeld said. “That overmatch is now in jeopardy.”

Hagel, a Republican who served two terms in Congress as a senator from Nebraska, said the US can no longer count on outspending its rivals and potential adversaries.

But longstanding overseas alliances and America’s reputation for dependability require, he said, that the military be able to project power abroad — an expensive capability that he said is now at risk.

Hagel said the US cannot afford to relax or assume that the military superiority it developed during the Cold War will automatically persist.

He said he is launching a long-range research and development program to find and field breakthroughs in key technologies, including robotics, miniaturization and advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3-D printing. He said the Pentagon will call on the private sector and academia for help.

Hagel likened the program to the Eisenhower administration’s “New Look” program in the 1950s, which sought to rapidly expand the US nuclear weapon arsenal to offset superior Soviet conventional military power in Europe. He also compared it to the 1970s push by the Pentagon to emphasize long-range research into technologies that yielded such significant breakthroughs as stealth aircraft, Patriot air defense weapons, precision-guided bombs and missiles and more sophisticated surveillance systems.

   Battle ‘Turning’ Against IS

Meanwhile, America’s top general has told US troops in Iraq that momentum is turning against IS militants.

Gen Martin Dempsey, on an unannounced visit, called the militants “midgets” but said the battle against them was likely to take years.

The US has launched air strikes against IS and has more than 1,000 personnel in Iraq to help to train local forces.

The Iraqi army said earlier they had driven IS from around the country’s largest oil refinery near the town of Baiji.

On Friday, officials said the military had also retaken Baiji, which had been under militant control since June.

Gen Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, flew to Baghdad for talks with Iraq officials, and to check on the progress being made against IS.

He told a group of marines at the US embassy in Baghdad that US forces had helped “pull Iraq back from the precipice,” Reuters reported.

He said IS militants were not a force of 10ft tall fighters, but were instead “a bunch of midgets running around with a really radical ideology”.

However, he stressed that IS could not be defeated by the US alone.

Earlier this week, the general told the US House of Representatives armed services committee that the door remained open to sending US combat troops to help Iraqi forces retake the northern city of Mosul, which IS overran in June.

President Barack Obama recently authorized sending 1,500 more trainers.

  IS ‘Beheads’ New US Hostage

IS militants fighting in Iraq and Syria claimed in a video posted online on Sunday that they had beheaded American hostage Peter Kassig.

The video did not show the beheading but showed a masked man standing with a decapitated head covered in blood lying at his feet. Speaking in English in a British accent, the man says: “This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen.”

Kassig’s parents have said through a spokesperson their 26-year-old son was taken captive on his way to the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zor on Oct. 1, 2013.

A former soldier, Kassig was doing humanitarian work through Special Emergency Response and Assistance, an organization he founded in 2012 to help refugees from Syria, the family has said.

If confirmed, Kassig’s beheading would be the fifth such killing of a Westerner by IS, following the deaths of two US journalists and two British aid workers.

The video also shows militants beheading several men identified as pilots and officers loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.