From SEAPOWER magazine: The Lastest Headlines from the Navy League’s 2013 Sea-Air-Space Exposition.

  • by BPC Staff
  • on April 9, 2013

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Couldn’t attend the show? SEAPOWER brings you the highlights from opening day:

Service Chiefs: Budget Cuts Create Crisis, Opportunity

By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent

Leaders of the three naval services on April 8 acknowledged the need to make serious changes to cope with the expected sharp drop in future funding, but the chief of naval operations (CNO) and the Marine Corps commandant ruled out abandoning the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter or taking retirement benefits from those currently serving.

The CNO, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Marine Gen. James Amos and Vice Adm. John Currier, the Coast Guard vice commandant, agreed that the budget cuts created a crisis, but also presented an opportunity to make long-overdue changes in the way their services function.

In the opening panel of the Navy League’s 2013 Sea-Air-Space Exposition at National Harbor, Md., the three leaders focused particularly on the need to change the cumbersome and slow process of acquiring major new weapons and equipment. Greenert and Amos proposed giving the service chiefs greater control over the acquisition process so they could better balance requirements with available funds.

“Too many people are touching acquisition who don’t have any responsibility” for operating the systems being developed, Greenert said.

Amos said the process is “broken, it’s constipated and we need to fix it.” He noted that acquisition executives told him it would take 13 years to develop and field the proposed amphibious combat vehicle to replace the cancelled expeditionary fighting vehicle.

Currier said the acquisition process was developed during the Civil War and had accumulated multiple layers of procedures, and it “would take a lot of courage” to change it to permit a better balance of risk and requirement. “We may not come out with everything we want, but we can get most of what we want.”

Requirements Drive Coast Guard Innovation Efforts

By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Associate Editor

The U.S. Coast Guard innovation team is trying to work better with program and platform managers to find out new requirements they may need, the service’s innovation program manager said.

While delivering a floor address April 8 at Sea-Air-Space, Cmdr. Tyson Weinert said he does not set the tone, or influence direction, on innovation projects, but rather listens to ideas and requirements people want to have on a given project.

“I want to talk with the managers and find out the buzz on what they want created, and then I will push that with industry and the Coast Guard. I think that great things can come of this,” he said.

Calling his current way of doing business more passive than active, Weinert said he does recognize the limitations some proposals may have in this current budget climate, but that does not mean he will push aside more expensive ideas. “Right now, perhaps, there is the perception that a cheap solution is a good solution,” he said.

FACE Will Boost Speed, Affordability of Aviation Software Upgrades

By NICK ADDE, Special Correspondent

The fleet would receive new and upgraded aviation software systems more quickly and affordably, under a plan now under way, managers of the Air Combat Electronics Program at Naval Air Systems Command said during an April 8 presentation at the expo.

Once fully implemented, the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) would improve portability of avionics systems throughout the Defense Department, they said. Life-cycle costs, buying power, software development, time of delivery to the field would benefit as well, the managers said.

The program “develops, integrates, and delivers avionics solutions that meet customer requirements, enable interoperability, and maximize affordability,” the Air Combat Electronics Program office stated in its the presentation.


Super Hornet: The Capability Slope ‘Still Going up’

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

The Navy’s F/A-18 program manager says the Super Hornet strike fighter’s capabilities are still increasing, even as its affordability remains intact.

Capt. Frank Morley, the Navy’s F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager, speaking to reporters at the show, said, “The slope’s still going up,” in reference to the expansion of the Super Hornet’s combat capability and situational awareness. “Evolutionary development [of the Super Hornet] has been key for the Navy.”


Mastering the Art of Cooking for Thousands

By DAISY R. KHALIFA, Special Correspondent

By early morning on Sea-Air-Space opening day, Culinary Specialist 1st Class (CS1) Michael Suzienka had already poached live lobster, deep fried an ample amount of artichoke sections and was putting final touches on his first course of the day: pan-seared salmon with butter poached lobster over braised endive in a warm butter sauce, served alongside artichoke fritters and a Bibb spinach salad with candied pecans, bacon vinaigrette and poached apples.

In a setting akin to a televised “Top Chef” competition, Suzienka appeared to be under pressure, which, in fact, he was, given he was being rated by Michael Harants, the Navy’s corporate chef for Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP).

Harants, an experienced chef and cooking expert, guides Navy CSs in culinary education, culinary certification and related programs. NAVSUP’s CSs, who number more than 7,300 throughout the Navy, are at Sea-Air-Space for their second year, Harants said, and they plan to spend the remainder of the event providing cooking demonstrations three times a day, while also preparing some of the Navy culinary team’s award-winning dishes from recent military cooking competitions.

“This demonstration today is along the lines of a special-event meal that one would provide for flag officers,” said Harants, who explained that Suzienka is being reviewed because he will be required to do this sort of higher-level cooking that is on “more of a fine-dining scale.” Nonetheless, Harants said, these skills carry over and benefit all Sailors at some point or another.


CNO: Navy Going ‘Differently Than Planned’ Into 2014

By DAISY R. KHALIFA, Special Correspondent

In his keynote address at the Sea Services Luncheon on April 8, Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert said that in light of a $4 billion budget shortfall and with requisite investments that have to be taken care of, the U.S. Navy, nonetheless, has a “way ahead,” and will spend “the precious money we have” – roughly $44 billion – to cover expenses and key operating costs, like training and maintenance, while also preparing for the 2014 deployment.

“Now we’ve got some operating money. We’ve got a way ahead. We’ve got some pretty good items and investments, and we feel much better,” Greenert told the luncheon audience. “We’re doing some shore readiness and some support items that are very important that we have to get done, but we’re not doing all of them. We can get reimbursements done, pay the must-pay bills, and get the fiscal year [2013] distribution management on its way.”

As to spending beyond that, Greenert explained that in looking at the 2014 deployment, they will need to reconsider the global force management plan.

“We have to sit down and talk about the 2014 deployment and say, ‘we’re going into [2014] differently than we originally planned. Is this the global force management plan we want to carry out?'” said Greenert before several hundred industry and military representatives at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.


Northrop Upgrading AN/AQS-24 Mine-Hunting System

By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent

Northrop Grumman is taking its operationally proven AN/AQS-24A helicopter-towed mine-hunting system to new levels, selling it to a trusted ally, refreshing its electronics and developing a compatibility with unmanned surface vehicles, a senior company official said April 8.

Interest in the mine-hunting system is being stimulated by some of the things going on in the world, as some nations look to sea mines as a relatively cheap way of denying access to technologically more sophisticated navies, said Tom Jones, vice president for undersea systems at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems.

Iran, for example, has threatened to mine the economically vital Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf in its disputes with the United States and allied nations.

As a result, the AN/AQS-24 is going through a number of upgrades and modernizations to provide higher performance, Jones told reporters at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition.

The AN/AQS-24 combines in a towed torpedo-like vessel a side-scan sonar for broad area detection of possible bottom mines with a laser line scanner that provides precise electro-optical classification and identification of the suspicious object. That enables the mine countermeasures operators to complete the detection and positive identification processes in a single mission, without having to bring a second sensor to confirm the type of object, Jones said.


Navy Striving To Fix Problems in Systems Development Before Fielding

By JOHN M. DOYLE, Special Correspondent

The U.S. Navy is working across all Systems Commands to develop better ways to identify problems with systems still in development before they are sent to the fleet, the deputy director of Integration & Interoperability (I&I) at Naval Air Systems Command said April 8.

“Maturing systems as integrated solutions across a system of systems is really what we’re talking about today,” Capt. Bob Dishman told a briefing at Sea-Air-Space.

The current model for developing platforms or systems follows a segmented “kill chain'” model – find, fix, track, target, engage and assess, he said. The acquisition process and programs mature independently, so figuring out how to integrate a new aircraft or technology is left to the fleet when the finished product arrives. Any warfighting gaps discovered once fielded have be be dealt with on an ad hoc basis. The platforms arrive already matured “and the fleet is left to be the battlespace integrator, a role we don’t want to put our fleet in,” said Dishman, previously the program director for the Navy’s MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) unmanned aircraft system.


Northrop Grumman Offers Modernized C-2 Carrier Delivery Aircraft

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

Northrop Grumman plans to offer to the Navy a modernized version of its C-2A Greyhound carrier-onboard-delivery (COD) aircraft to meet future requirements for the COD capability. The offered design will include features of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye radar warning aircraft being delivered to the fleet.

Steve Squires, director of C-2 programs for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, speaking to reporters at the show April 8, said the plan to replace the C-2A’s wings, engines, digital cockpit avionics, and empennage with those of the E-2D will enable the Navy to recapitalize its COD fleet at the lowest cost.

The C-2A has been flying for 50 years, produced in two production runs, the last of which built 39 aircraft in the 1980s. Thirty-five of those are in service today and four are in storage. The C-2A carries 26 passengers or 10,000 pounds of cargo or a combination thereof out to a range of 1,300 nautical miles. A typical two-plane detachment on a six-month deployment carries 5,000 passengers, flies 1,000 hours, and carries more than one million pounds of cargo. A typical cargo load is 5,000-6,000 pounds.


200 Stealthy, Long-Endurance Wave Gliders Operating at Sea Today

By WILLIAM MATTHEWS, Special Correspondent

They’re silent and invisible to radar and infrared sensors, but what might be most appealing about Wave Glider robots for the Navy these days is that they’re cheap.

These wave-powered, surfboard-shaped robots cost a few thousand dollars a day to operate, compared to $150,000 to several million dollars a day for a typical ship, said Bill Vass, the chief executive officer of Liquid Robotics, the Sunnyvale, Calif., company that invented the Wave Glider.

The stealthy, long-endurance robots are useful for Navy missions that range from monitoring ship traffic to detecting submarines and hunting for mines, Vass told Seapower. Recently, the Navy experimented with Wave Gliders serving as surveillance platforms that were also able to communicate with satellites, ships, airborne drones and undersea sensors.

Perhaps their greatest strength is endurance. One Wave Glider traveled 9,400 miles from San Francisco to Australia, spending 400 days at sea. By contrast, the endurance of most Navy robots, airborne and undersea, is measured in hours.

There are about 200 Wave Gliders operating at sea today, Vass said. Most are used by the oil and gas industry, where they explore for undersea deposits or help with rig maintenance and rig security. Others conduct water quality research, oceanographic surveys, weather monitoring and keep watch over marine sanctuaries. They’re good for performing “long, boring and dangerous” chores – such as hurricane monitoring – that would be prohibitively expensive or too hazardous to perform with a manned ship, Vass said.


Rear Adm. Darrah to Industry: ‘Fit Your Solutions to Our Architecture’

By NICK ADDE, Special Correspondent

The way aircraft systems are acquired, tested and delivered to the fleet is going to change, according to a senior commander at Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

“It’s time to stop talking about platforms, and start talking about weapon on target,” Rear Adm. Mark W. Darrah, the commander of the Naval Air Warfare Center aircraft division, told an audience at Sea-Air-Space.

Falling in line with a top-down directive to improve efficiency that emanates from the senior-most leadership in the Defense Department and the Navy, Darrah told the group that NAVAIR would require anyone with whom it does business to focus on moving new technologies into existing architecture. When gaps in capability are identified, they will be filled quickly with available technology, he said.

New equipment will be “hardened,” Darrah said, “adaptable anywhere in the world in an environment where enemies aren’t going to be able to take advantage of them.”

In the past, and still largely in effect, the Navy has found itself adapting its existing architecture to solutions provided by industry, Darrah said. “It should be the other way around. The architecture stays the same, and you fit your solutions to our architecture,” he said.


Official: UISS Could Take on Many Roles

By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent

The U.S. Navy envisions that the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) in development could take on a multitude of roles and help pick up the slack as aging H-53s retire, Capt. Duane Ashton, program manager for unmanned maritime systems, said during a presentation.
The Navy released a draft request for proposals (RFP) in December for UISS, and hopes to release a formal RFP in “the near future,” Ashton said. The Navy envisions UISS as a 40-foot unmanned boat that will provide Littoral Combat Ships with “a stand-off, long endurance, semi-autonomous minesweeping capability to counter acoustic and/or magnetic influence mine threats in the littoral environment,” according to a Navy fact sheet.
Although the primary mission of the vessel will be to sweep maritime areas for mines, the captain said he could see many more uses once the asset proves itself.
“Getting out of the gate, the first thing is to make sure we get that sweep mission right,” he said. “The next piece is working with the Office of Naval Research … looking at what would be those next steps.”
One of those steps could be toward a detect-to-engage capability. In order to achieve that, the program would need to look at launch and recovery, refueling and a host of other aspects of the unmanned system.


Modularity Is Key Part of LCS Mission Module Flexibility

By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor

“It’s been a very good year for the [Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)] mission package program in general,” Rear Adm. (sel.) John W. Ailes, program manager for Mission Module Integration, told an overflow briefing at the show.

Ailes outlined the progress of the various packages – mine countermeasures (MCM), surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare at the Naval Sea Systems Command pavilion, and noted that modularity was proving to be a critical element as the packages move through testing aboard LCS 1, Freedom, and LCS 2, Independence.

“The key part that we’ve seen over and over again, because of the modularity, you can drop capability in,” he said. “The three different teams that developed our three different mission packages all together standing on the same infrastructure, that’s a very powerful concept because it demonstrates just how open [the systems are.]”

The MCM package is “by far the most technically complex,” of the modules, Ailes said, “in part because the mission itself is the most challenging. It’s very much a question of discrimination, figuring out what on the bottom is a mine, going back, reacquiring it and the neutralizing it.”


Navy to Test Solid-State Laser on Ponce

By DANIEL P. TAYLOR, Special Correspondent

The Navy plans to field and test a solid-state laser prototype system on the service’s newest afloat forward-staging base early next year, two officials said.

The former amphibious ship Ponce (LPD 15), which had been transformed last year into an interim afloat forward-staging base and redesignated AFSB-1, will host a laser that the Office of Naval Research has used to shoot down drone targets and perform non-lethal operations.

Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, chief of naval research, said the Navy wanted to get the prototype onto an operational Navy ship. However, it won’t go in the flight deck area of the ship, but rather be integrated into the combat system, the power grid and the cooling grid on the Ponce.

Rear Adm. Thomas Eccles, chief engineer and deputy commander for naval systems engineering at Naval Sea Systems Command, said during the presentation that the version on Ponce will look similar to prototypes tested in the past.

The upcoming tests will help prove out the capability, Eccles said. “We’ll have an improved laser system,” he said. “It will be a longer-range engagement, I expect.”


USCG Builds International Capability through FMS

By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Associate Editor

The Coast Guard has averaged $105 million in annual foreign military sales (FMS) since the program’s inception in 1997, and the service’s chief of international acquisition said he is not trying to dramatically increase that number.

“We don’t have a set goal we try to reach on a given year,” Tod Reinert said April 8.

The service has delivered 405 vessels worldwide and it expected to deliver 59 assets to 13 countries this fiscal year. Over the past four years, the Coast Guard’s average annual international sales have increased from $13 million to more than $138 million.

Most of the assets are delivered to countries in the Caribbean, Africa and Middle East, and recently there has been a lot of requests for small boats, Reinert said.

“We are engaged in building international military capability,” he said.


NAVSUP Commander: ‘Logistics Is a Team Sport’

By NICK ADDE, Special Correspondent

Awareness of the need to improve logistics at installations and in the supply chain is obviously more acute in the current economic climate. Even if there were no such thing as sequestration, however, the sea services’ chiefs of logistics and supply believe the time has come anyway for improvements in efficiency.

During an April 8 panel discussion, senior Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard leaders and representatives from industry agreed they must work closely to implement these necessary changes in culture.

“Logistics is a team sport,” said Rear Adm. Mark F. Heinrich, commander of Naval Supply Systems Command and chief of Supply Corps. “Resiliency in the supply chain comes from collaboration and teamwork.”

“Industry and defense are inseparable,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Garry E. Hall, now an accounts manager with Siemens USA. “Challenges can only be solved with collaboration.”


Navy-Marine Corps Team Focuses on Traditional Missions

By OTTO KREISHER, Special Correspondent

As they draw down from 11 years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Navy and Marine Corps are working on multiple fronts to devise new ways they can train and operate together to meet future challenges while in an era of fiscal austerity, three senior naval leaders said April 8.

A primary focus will be on maintaining and increasing the traditional missions of Navy-Marine Corps forces forward deployed, working with international partners and being prepared to respond to whatever emerges, the panel of officers told an audience at the expo.

There will be a lot of crises out there. We’ll sail to those crises because we’re already there,” Adm. William Gortney, commander Fleet Forces Command, said.

Rear Adm. Michael Smith, director of the Strategy and Policy Division on the Navy Staff, cited a long list of studies and program already under way to determine what the naval forces will need to do and how they will be organized and equipped to meet the uncertain future.

The efforts include revising the National Maritime Strategy for the 21st Century, first adopted by the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard leadership in 2007; creation of a Naval Board consisting of several three-star officers from the Navy and the Corps; and expanding the Air-Sea Battle Concept, started by the Navy and Air Force, to include the Marine Corps and Army.

Although the future has “significant challenges – the fiscal environment not the least of them,” it also offers opportunities, Smith said. And the naval services have been there before, he added, noting the time between the world wars that saw development of amphibious and carrier warfare capabilities.


Navy Moving Ahead With Two Carrier-Based Unmanned Aircraft Projects

By JOHN M. DOYLE, Special Correspondent

The next step for testing the U.S. Navy’s planned carrier-based unmanned strike aircraft has been approved by the chief of naval operations, the head of the Navy’s unmanned aircraft office announced April 8.

Rear Adm. Mathias Winter told a briefing that the capability development document (CDD) was signed by Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert earlier in the day. The signed CDD means “a formal Navy requirement” exists for the Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) system, said Winter, head of the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons.

“The acquisition strategy document to go forward for our Milestone A is with the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition technology and logistics and we anticipate approval of that within the next three to four weeks,” Winter said. The UCLASS project could then begin a technology development phase with the command and control and carrier-development segments, he said, adding that the government will be the lead systems integrator of the program. He noted there were 22 systems of record already connected with just those two segments of the UCLASS program.

Winter said the Navy would launch an air vehicle competition with a request for proposals in the second quarter of fiscal 2014, with a contract award anticipated at the end of fiscal 2014.


Finding Ways To Cut USMC Fuel Consumption in the Field

By WILLIAM MATTHEWS, Special Correspondent

Marines in Afghanistan “are exponentially more lethal today” than they were a decade ago, thanks to far superior communications capability and advanced sensors, said Col. Bob Charette. But these new capabilities come at substantial cost – the logistics of fossil fuel.

In 2001, the Marines had 4,000 generators in the field; today they have 13,000, said Charette, director of the Corps’ Expeditionary Energy Office. Generators need fuel, and fuel means convoys, and – in Afghanistan – convoys mean casualties.

There are more than 8,000 Marine Corps laptops in Afghanistan, and they consume a megawatt of power – enough to power an Afghan town, Charette said during a briefing April 8.

In the summer, trying to air condition tents can consume 60 percent of a base’s fuel, while power-hungry radars require 60 kilowatt generators all their own. Marines in Afghanistan consume 200,000 gallons of fuel a day.

Charette’s job is to find ways the Marines can keep the technology that improves their combat effectiveness, but reduce their dependence on fossil fuel. His goal is to cut fossil fuel consumption in the field in half by 2025.

Since the Expeditionary Energy Office was created in 2009, there have been encouraging developments with solar panels and hybrid energy systems, and innovative approaches to cooling and heating.

Among the most promising is a hybrid power system that uses solar panels and batteries as well as a standard generator to cut fossil fuel consumption. It reduced fuel use by half during tests at an experimental forward operating base in California.


Next Batch of DDG 51s Set to Move Forward

By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor

With the four Arleigh Burke-class (DDG 51) guided-missile destroyers already under contract in various stages of construction, Capt. Mark Vandroff, program manager for the DDG 51 program, now must wait on the machinations of the Pentagon contracting process before awarding contracts for a new batch of ships.

“I’m hoping to have more ships under contract in the near future,” Vandroff said a briefing at the Naval Sea Systems Command pavilion. “We are looking forward to that now that we have the legislative authority.”

A request for proposal was issued last year for a nine- to 10-ship multiyear procurement from fiscal 2013 to 2017, he said. Bids were received in July, but authority from Congress was needed to move forward under the National Defense Authorization Act and the Defense Appropriations Act.

The continuing resolution signed into law last month to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year includes the authority to set things in motion, but the ball first must go back to the Pentagon’s court, Vandroff said. Contracts in excess of $500 million require the secretary of defense to notify Congress 30 days before they are awarded. And now the program manager is waiting for that notification to be sent.

“It is proceeding at pace,” said Vandroff, who would not speculate on when the might the notification might be sent.

Meantime, work is forging ahead on DDGs 113-116 at both Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, and Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascaguola, Miss., which are being built as part of the DDG 51 restart program that followed the truncation of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer program. Officials from both companies offered brief updates on their respective programs, with HII’s Bob Merchant noting, “It’s a real pleasure to be back in the DDG 51 business.”


V-22 Ospreys To Be Support Aircraft for Presidential Helo Fleet

By JOHN M. DOYLE, Special Correspondent

The first V-22 Osprey has been delivered to the Marine Corps helicopter squadron that supplies helicopters for the president, the V-22 program manager for Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) said April 8.

But the tiltrotor aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter, but also fly as fast as an airplane, won’t be ferrying President Barack Obama as Marine 1, said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Greg Masiello. Instead, the 12 Ospreys to be assigned to Marine Squadron HMX-1 at Quantico, Va., will act in a supporting role, flying White House staff and other VIPs. To that end, the V-22s in HMX-1 will not sport the white roof of the presidential fleet. Instead they will be all green, Masiello said.

There are 208 Ospreys currently operating around the world – 31 with U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command and 177 at Marine Corps bases and stations in North Carolina, California, Hawaii, Japan and Okinawa. There are plans for a Marine Corps V-22 squadron to be assigned to Europe to serve as a contingency unit for both Africa Command and European Command, but Masiello declined to go into details, saying that information should come from the two regional combatant commands.


Unmanned Systems Emblematic of Warfighting Principles

By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor

The Navy’s unmanned systems programs are emblematic of the principles laid out by the chief of naval operations (CNO), the director of the Navy’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Capabilities Division said during a briefing.

Rear Adm. DeWolfe “Chip” Miller said the Navy’s unmanned systems are being rapidly developed and fielded to the fleet, operating on the front lines and providing information that troops on the ground and at sea can use, all central to the “warfighting first, operating forward and being ready” tenets of CNO Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert.

“In Air Systems, in calendar year 2012, 99.1 percent our flight hours were combat or combat support,” Miller said. “Unlike manned aircraft, that are back doing turn-around training, that sort of stuff, our unmanned aircraft are forward. In the undersea domain, the exact same is true.”

Miller said unmanned systems provide the advantages of persistence, being able to operate far forward without the logistics trail of manned aircraft and their ability to complement manned systems. As an example, he cited the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial vehicle that will work in concert with the P-8A Poseidon to provide persistent maritime surveillance over large areas.


Paralympian Relates Tale of Injury, Recovery and Triumph

By DAISY R. KHALIFA, Special Correspondent

Navy Lt. Bradley Snyder on April 8 related the riveting details of injuries suffered in Afghanistan – and of his uplifting transition during his recovery, where eventually he became a swimming champion and established himself in professional civilian world.

Speaking to audience members in an afternoon floor session, Snyder provided a moving account of a life-transforming accident that caused him to go blind. He urged audience members to encourage returning troops and injured veterans to network within veterans’ organizations and take advantage of the many support groups available.

Snyder, who served in the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) operations group, told the story of events on a fall day in 2011, when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and suffered severe injuries, largely from the neck up. He spent the first part of his recovery in Baltimore, and came in touch with staff of COMMITT Foundation, the Baltimore-based support group for veterans making military-to-civilian transitions. He said that thanks to the support and the “serendipity” of getting a call from a caring COMMIITT Foundation staff-member, Snyder was able to discover his talent as a world-class swimmer while also launching a career in the civilian world.

Snyder decided to swim as a way of recovering from his injuries, and also as a way of assuring his mother he would be alright. Soon enough, he said, “Swimming was a conduit to my recovery.”

“Before I got hurt, I was a guy who could jump out of an aircraft at 25,000 feet, and dive down to 300 feet in the ocean and do everything in between,” said Snyder. ” And then in a flash, an instant, I couldn’t do anything. I was chained to a bed.”

Snyder went to London in 2012 and won two gold medals and one silver in the 2012 Paralympics.


International Maritime Panel Stresses Partnerships, Opportunities

By PETER ATKINSON, Deputy Editor

The importance of continuing to build relationships in the international arena and enhancing the opportunities for partnerships to improve capabilities were highlighted during the first International Maritime Panel Discussion April 8.

Vice Adm. William E. Landay III, director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency; and Rear Adm. Douglas J. Venlet, director of International Engagement, spoke of the many similar challenges the U.S. Navy and its allies face in trying to maintain partnerships in an ever-changing security environment and as defense budget belts tighten across the globe.

As security cooperation requirements evolve, Landay, more capabilities and more engagement are necessary, adding that “competitors will be very aggressive” to fill any voids.

Landay touted improvements in the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, the nation’s primary tool for international military cooperation, as a means of addressing these evolving requirements. The three main areas of improvement, he said, have been making the process faster, driving out cost and increasing the program’s visibility and transparency. “More improvements are in the works,” he promised.

Venlet highlighted the strength of the relatively small Foreign Area Officer corps, noting, “We don’t kick in the door; we open the door from the inside.”

He said partnerships and engagement were key to security cooperation because “we cannot surge trust, trust can only be built on the ground.” And security cooperation itself was vital, he said, “because no one nation can truly do it alone.”