News Briefs – November 2, 2015

Navy submarine force increases stress-management services

The U.S. Navy’s elite submarine force is stepping up stress-management services for its sailors, responding in part to elevated numbers of unexpected dropouts among younger service members.
Navy Capt. Steven Wechsler is a psychiatrist at Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn. He has been meeting with sailors for the last three months at his office on the waterfront, going aboard submarines to introduce himself, and giving talks on issues surrounding deployments. The idea is to engage sailors who might be reluctant to seek out mental health professionals at a military clinic and keep them focused.
It’s a model that the Navy intends to replicate at its six other homeports for submarines in Virginia, Georgia, Hawaii, Washington state, southern California and Guam.
Wechsler himself served in the submarine force for years, and he said that experience helps put sailors at ease. AP

France’s army chiefs, facing new threats, get new ‘Pentagon’

The building’s walls are designed to withstand a missile strike and a highly secured operational room is hidden underground. France’s army chiefs are moving into their new defense ministry, aimed at allowing a quicker response to the threats faced by the country — especially terrorism.
About 9,300 military and civil staff who were previously dispersed around a dozen different sites are now based in the $4.6 billion, dubbed the “French Pentagon.”
The joining together of army, air force and navy headquarters will make it easier to lead France’s military operations abroad, said Jean-Paul Bodin, secretary general for the administration of the Defense Ministry. “This enables us to be in contact with each other much more easily than before and also to mobilize the staff quicker when needed.”
France’s military is highly active internationally, with about 7,000 French troops involved in operations around the world, including in the anti-Islamic State coalition in Iraq and Syria and in operations against extremists in Africa’s Sahel region. An additional 7,000 troops have been mobilized to patrol sensitive sites across France, following attacks in Paris in January on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery that left 20 dead, including the three Islamic extremist attackers.
Bodin said the new military organization will make the army’s decision-making process “more efficient.”
It will also help reduce costs and staff in the headquarters, as part of a government plan to reduce France’s military from 270,000 people to 240,000 by 2019, he said.
The ministry’s employees left behind historical buildings in the center of Paris for the new modern site, in a quiet district in the south of the capital.
Yet Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian keeps his office in a prestigious Paris mansion from the 18th century, closer to Parliament and the presidential palace.
The new ministry is to be inaugurated by president Francois Hollande next month. It is named the “Hexagone-Balard” — the hexagon being the shape used to describe France’s mainland, and also the shape of the heart of the building.
From the outside, the seven-floor structure looks like a modern fortress with its white opaque glass front. It is topped by the largest solar-paneled roof of Paris.
Inside, it evokes a small university campus with its succession of gardens surrounded by blue and green facades, and a series of facilities including a hairdresser, library, swimming pool, sports rooms, restaurants and preschools for the staff’s children.
Specific military equipment is being kept top secret — even from the architects. AP

Russia holds war games involving numerous missile launches

Russia’s Defense Ministry says the military has conducted a series of ballistic and cruise missile launches from various sites across Russia in the latest demonstration of the nation’s resurgent military might.
The ministry said Friday’s exercise involved launches from ground sites, sea and air in what appeared to be one of the largest such maneuvers this year.
The war games come as foreign ministers from Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and a dozen of other countries are meeting in Vienna to discuss a Syrian settlement.
The exercise involved the launch of a Kalibr cruise missile from a ship in the Caspian Sea. Earlier this month, Russian navy ships launched 26 such missiles at targets in Syria as part of Moscow’s air campaign that began Sept. 30. AP

Defense contractors to gather at Connecticut industry summit

Connecticut defense contractors will soon have an opportunity to meet other businesses and government officials to boost exports and develop global business relationships.
Rep. Joe Courtney and Anne Evans, district director of the U.S. Department of Commerce in Connecticut, say an Aerospace and Defense International Trade Summit is scheduled for Nov. 8-10 in Mystic.
Courtney, a Democrat who represents eastern Connecticut, says the annual meeting will join defense suppliers with domestic and overseas contractors to encourage new contacts and business opportunities.
Connecticut’s defense industry includes companies supplying parts and systems for aerospace and submarine manufacturers.
Courtney and Evans say representatives from 15 countries will attend the summit. Domestic and foreign contractors including General Dynamics Electric Boat, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and United Technologies Corp. also are expected to participate. AP

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