The Insider

June 18, 2018 at 7:29 PM | John Liang

The full Senate late this afternoon passed the $716 billion fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill by an 85-10 vote.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) said in a statement the bill "continues our reform agenda and helps better position the Department of Defense and the joint force to implement the National Defense Strategy by continuing to restore readiness, rebuild capacity, and modernize capabilities."

McCain, who is undergoing medical treatment for brain cancer in Arizona, said in the statement he is "grateful to Senator Jim Inhofe [(R-OK)] for shepherding this important legislation in my absence and to [committee Ranking Member] Jack Reed [(D-RI)] for the spirit of partnership he always brings to this endeavor."

While McCain wished the Senate "had been able to come to an agreement to debate and vote on more amendments, I am glad the legislation proceeded under regular order and that Senators Inhofe and Reed were able to work with leadership to incorporate 45 amendments from colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And I'm proud that the Senate Armed Services Committee did its work by considering and adopting over 300 bipartisan amendments during the committee mark-up."

The Senate Armed Services Committee's bill and accompanying report can be found here.

June 18, 2018 at 6:28 PM | John Liang

The Pentagon announced late this afternoon it has "suspended all planning" for the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise held in South Korea every August.

DOD's announcement comes after Trump met last week with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and announced he was "stopping the war games" with South Korea, citing the "tremendous amount of money" it would save the federal government.

According to a statement issued Monday by Defense Department spokeswoman Dana White, the decision was "consistent with President Trump's commitment and in concert with our Republic of Korea ally."

"We are still coordinating additional actions. No decisions on subsequent wargames have been made," she added.

The annual exercise "is a computer-simulated defensive exercise designed to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula," according to a Pentagon statement issued last August. Last year, about 17,500 U.S. servicemembers participated, with about 3,000 coming from installations outside South Korea.

A meeting at the Pentagon will take place "later this week with the secretary of defense, secretary of state and the national security adviser on this issue," White said today. "There is no impact on Pacific exercises outside of the Korean Peninsula."

Trump's suspension of military exercises with South Korea has been met with mixed results on Capitol Hill, with some lawmakers supporting his decision and others opposing it.

June 18, 2018 at 2:58 PM | John Liang

House appropriators' recommending cutting funding for the Tomahawk missile program leads off this Monday INSIDER Daily Digest, along with a look back at Inside Defense's coverage of an independent "space force," the establishment of which President Trump officially directed today.

House appropriators want to take money out of the Tomahawk missile program:

Citing 'mismanagement,' House appropriators rescind $115 million in Tomahawk funding

Concerned by the Navy's "mismanagement," the House Appropriations Committee is recommending rescinding $115 million of fiscal year 2018 funds from the Tomahawk missile program, according to the report accompanying the panel's FY-19 defense spending bill.

With President Trump's announcement earlier today regarding the establishment of an independent "space force," here is Inside Defense's most recent coverage on that topic:

DOD's interim 'Space Corps' report highlights ongoing reforms

The Defense Department recently submitted an interim report to Congress on the organization and management of the military space enterprise, and while it doesn't include any evaluation of the proposal to create a separate Space Corps, it does reveal several ongoing efforts to improve space acquisition, budgeting and warfighting.

SECAF: Trump's 'Space Force' comments have not altered Pentagon's course

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said today President Trump's recent endorsement of a separate "Space Force" has not changed the scope or content of an ongoing, congressionally directed Pentagon study of options for changing the way the service organizes and manages its space capabilities and personnel.

Trump's 'Space Force' comments contradict Pentagon, but may align with OMB

President Trump's comments this week in support of a "Space Force" appear to be a departure from the Defense Department's and his own administration's stance on recent congressional proposals, however they may align with a recent report from the Office of Management and Budget on space organizational reform that found merit in the creation of a separate space service.

OMB report highlights merits of 'Space Force,' differs from DOD, Air Force stance

The White House Office of Management and Budget told Congress in a recent report that significant changes to space organization within the Defense Department, including the option to create a separate 'Space Force,' are "not only prudent, but also necessary" -- an apparent departure from DOD's stance on space organizational reform.

More recent, related space news:

Senate authorizers call for space warfighting policy, reusable launch strategy

The Senate Armed Services Committee is calling for the Defense Department to craft a space warfighting policy that would review the resiliency of the national security space enterprise and its ability to defend against threats, defeat potential adversaries and deter future conflict.

Air Force increases funding ceiling for new Space Enterprise Consortium

The Air Force recently upped the funding ceiling of its new space prototyping consortium from $100 million to $500 million due to its initial success and popularity within the Defense Department.

DOD industrial base report highlights top four risk areas for space sector

The Defense Department's latest industrial capabilities report identifies the national security space sector's highest risk technologies and resources areas, which it has labeled "essential to the national defense."

For complete coverage of all space-related news, check out Inside Defense's Space Alert page.

June 18, 2018 at 12:48 PM | Courtney Albon, Tony Bertuca

President Trump announced today he is directing the Defense Department to establish an independent "space force."

Trump said during a White House speech that he has ordered DOD to "immediately begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces -- we are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the space force."

He wished Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford "luck" in creation of the new space force.

"There's no place like space," Trump said.

Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman, said DOD would begin working with the military services and Congress to implement Trump's directive.

"We understand the president's guidance," she said. "Our Policy Board will begin working on this issue, which has implications for intelligence operations for the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy. Working with Congress, this will be a deliberate process with a great deal of input from multiple stakeholders."

Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Inside Defense that although Trump's comments show that he is aligned with congressional proposals to create a new military space organization, the president does not have the authority to create the new military service without congressional approval.

However, Harrison noted, the greater effect of Trump's Space Force support will be to quash resistance to the move within the Air Force and the Pentagon, both of which have pushed back on recent large-scale space reorganization proposals.

Today's announcement from the White House could also disrupt some of the Pentagon's ongoing studies of alternative space organizational constructs -- particularly if the work thus far did not move them toward creating a separate space service.

A Senate Armed Services Committee staffer told Inside Defense the committee was not notified in advance of the president's speech.

Meanwhile, Trump's decision could also put him at odds with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who wrote to Congress last fall that he opposed the creation of a new and separate branch of the military for space.

"I oppose the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions," he wrote in an Oct. 17 letter sent to Capitol Hill.

Watch Inside Defense for more news on this breaking story.

June 18, 2018 at 5:15 AM | John Liang

The Senate is expected to pass its fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill this week, while senior Pentagon officials are scheduled to appear at a variety of events around the Washington area.

Monday

The full Senate is expected to take a final vote on the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill after 5:30 p.m.

The Defense Communities National Summit begins in Washington.

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition's State Leaders Summit begins in Washington.

Tuesday

The Navy League hosts a breakfast with the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems.

The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a nomination hearing for Lt. Gen. Austin Miller, whom President Trump has picked to be the next U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

Defense One hosts a briefing with Jerry DeMuro, the chief executive of BAE Systems' U.S. business.

Wednesday

The House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee holds a hearing on health system reform.

Amazon Web Services' Public Sector Summit begins in Washington.

Thursday

The Center for a New American Security hosts its annual conference in Washington.

The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing on military technology transfer.

The House Armed Services readiness subcommittee holds a hearing on aviation mishaps.

The House Homeland Security Committee hosts the Capitol Hill National Security Forum.

Friday

The House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee holds a hearing on space situational awareness.

June 18, 2018 at 5:05 AM | John Liang

Some must-reads from this week's issue of Inside the Navy:

1. The Pentagon has an ongoing damage assessment into the hack of a Navy contractor's networks that reportedly saw China steal troves of data on a sensitive program to outfit submarines with a supersonic, anti-ship missile.

Full story: 'Damage assessment' ongoing in hack of Navy contractor

2. The Navy has implemented 35 surface warfare reform recommendations provided by the service's two major reviews and a government watchdog as of May 24, according to slides obtained by Inside Defense.

Full story: Navy implements 35 surface warfare recommendations off two reviews

3. A key House panel is proposing to cut the Navy's MQ-25 Stingray fiscal year 2019 budget request by more than 40 percent, dealing the high-profile project to develop a catapult-launched unmanned aircraft system a major funding setback just as the service this summer is set to select a contractor to lead the program.

Full story: House panel would slash Navy MQ-25 air vehicle request by more than 40 percent

4. The Navy may offer more attack submarine work to private industry, which would be a reversal of its current maintenance structure, according to a senior official.

Full story: Moore: Navy may competitively bid future attack sub maintenance

June 18, 2018 at 5:00 AM | John Liang

Some must-reads from this week's edition of Inside the Army:

1. Lawmakers are lining up to support the Army's fast-track project to rapidly develop and field an air- and missile-defense system that can be bolted onto the Stryker vehicle, a potential billion-dollar effort to harden ground forces in Europe from Russian threats which service leaders did not formally validate until after the Pentagon submitted its fiscal year 2019 budget to Congress.

Full story: Lawmakers back Army's IM-SHORAD to counter low-flying Russian threats

2. With the Army's Futures Command stationing team having so far visited Boston, Raleigh and Austin as potential locations for its new headquarters, Inside Defense has learned that Philadelphia and Minneapolis are the two cities left awaiting site visits before the service makes its final decision.

Full story: Army picks five finalists for Futures Command location

3. The House Appropriations Committee has taken issue with the Army's path so far toward modernizing its Stryker vehicles, asking the service to submit a resourcing strategy for its desired A1 upgrade.

Full story: House appropriators find 'lack of consistency' in Army's Stryker plans

4. The Pentagon, on the heels of completing a review of its manufacturing industrial base, will soon begin studying whether U.S. industry is prepared to deliver the game-changing technologies the Defense Department seeks to field in the future.

Full story: Pentagon plans review of U.S. 'technology industrial base'

June 15, 2018 at 2:45 PM | John Liang

The Army's interim SHORAD capability, a recent cyberattack against a Navy contractor and more highlight this Friday INSIDER Daily Digest.

The House Appropriations Committee is recommending funding the Army's $108 million request to develop and field an interim Maneuver Short Range Air Defense capability:

Lawmakers back Army's IM-SHORAD rapid acquisition to counter low-flying Russian threats

Lawmakers are lining up to support the Army's fast-track project to rapidly develop and field an air- and missile-defense system that can be bolted onto the Stryker vehicle, a potential billion-dollar effort to harden ground forces in Europe from Russian threats which service leaders did not formally validate until after the Pentagon submitted its fiscal year 2019 budget to Congress.

A recent Navy contractor cyberattack involved "technical information" residing on the contractor's unclassified networks:

'Damage assessment' ongoing in hack of Navy contractor

The Pentagon has an ongoing damage assessment into the hack of a Navy contractor's networks that reportedly saw China steal troves of data on a sensitive program to outfit submarines with a supersonic, anti-ship missile.

DOD is embarking on a "technology industrial base review" this year to assess whether the United States can meet goals laid out in the Pentagon's forthcoming modernization strategy, according to Kristen Baldwin, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for systems engineering:

Pentagon plans review of U.S. 'technology industrial base'

The Pentagon, on the heels of completing a review of its manufacturing industrial base, will soon begin studying whether U.S. industry is prepared to deliver the game-changing technologies the Defense Department seeks to field in the future.

A House lawmaker this week urged Levy and the department to negotiate for data rights at the start of a program:

Air Force sustainment chief stresses importance of intellectual property

The head of the Air Force Sustainment Center told lawmakers Thursday the intellectual property that supports weapon system development has become more valuable than the actual hardware -- a shift that has sparked some concern among lawmakers and the Defense Department as they struggle to negotiate with industry for access to those data rights.

Within the next six months, Navy leadership will decide the way ahead for future attack submarine repair work:

Moore: Navy may competitively bid future attack sub maintenance

The Navy may offer more attack submarine work to private industry, which would be a reversal of its current maintenance structure, according to a senior official.

June 15, 2018 at 11:16 AM | Ashley Tressel

Army Training and Doctrine Command will host the Mad Scientist Conference, "Installations of the Future," June 19 to 20 in Atlanta, GA, exploring the evolution of the operational environment through 2050.

TRADOC, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and environment and the Georgia Tech Research Institute will convene to discuss trends in artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, microgrids and social media.

"Due to the increasing connectivity through the Internet of Things, Army installations cannot be considered the sanctuaries they once were," TRADOC wrote in a June 14 press release. "A myriad of emerging threats of vectors from social media, cyberattack, information operations, and new generation warfare will change the dynamic of how these installations can and should be viewed."

The event will be livestreamed.

June 15, 2018 at 11:10 AM | Tony Bertuca

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said today there is now a "new avenue to peace" with North Korea after President Trump's meeting with Kim Jong Un, but he cautioned that the United States must remain "vigilant" in blocking Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Mattis' warning on North Korea's nuclear arsenal follows Trump's claim on Twitter that the nation is "no longer" a nuclear threat.

"President Trump's historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un proves the past does not have to define the future," Mattis said in prepared remarks today at the Naval War College graduation ceremony.

The defense secretary also said the actions of Russia and China continue to draw the United States into a new era of strategic competition.

Russian President Vladimir Putin "seeks to shatter NATO," Mattis said. "He aims to diminish the appeal of the western democratic model and attempts to undermine America's moral authority. His actions are not designed to challenge our arms but to undercut and compromise our belief in our ideals."

China, Mattis said, appears to be modeling its global ambitions after the Ming Dynasty, "demanding other nations become tribute states kowtowing to Beijing."

Mattis said China is "attempting to replicate on the international stage their authoritarian domestic model," militarizing the South China Sea and using "predatory economics of piling massive debt on others."

"Today, how we engage with China . . . will provide the world roadmap for our future relationship," he said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government today announced it would retaliate following the Trump administration's levying of new tariffs on $50 billion of goods imported from China.

June 15, 2018 at 10:00 AM | John Liang

Inside the Pentagon Managing Editor Justin Doubleday and Inside the Navy Managing Editor Lee Hudson have been lauded for their work by the Washington, DC, Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, each earning "Finalist" recognition in the Dateline Awards for 2017 Journalism.

Doubleday was a Finalist in the "Breaking News" category for his story about the Pentagon's plan to select one cloud services provider for the entire Defense Department.

Hudson was a Finalist in the "Beat Reporting" category for her coverage of the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter carrier variant.

Here is Justin Doubleday's story, available to all:

Industry concerned about Pentagon plan to 'lock in' one cloud services provider

Here are Lee Hudson's stories, available to all:

* F-35C design fix to support AIM-9X missile weight will cost $8.8M

* Joint Strike Fighter cost estimate continues to climb

* Navy official skeptical F-35 helmet will be ready for fall carrier test

* JSF test pilots recommend new set of strap-in procedures for carrier variant

(First place in the same category went to Jenny Leonard at Inside U.S. Trade, a sister publication.)

June 15, 2018 at 5:00 AM | John Liang

Some must-reads from this week's issue of Inside the Air Force:

1. A series of demonstrations this month at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada could pave the way for a new technology meant to vastly improve the quality of the service's training for fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft.

Full story: AFRL to begin key LVC technology demo later this month

2. House appropriators are pushing back on the Air Force's request to buy 29 MQ-9 Reapers in fiscal year 2019, arguing the service's procurement plans don't properly address its future aircraft needs.

Full story: House lawmakers urge Air Force to rethink Reaper procurement plan

3. House appropriators are offering an additional $194 million in their version of the fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill to accelerate the Air Force's move to a new Compass Call platform.

Full story: P&W wants to cut F135 sustainment cost in half, DOD hones in on life-cycle cost

4. The president of Pratt & Whitney's military engine group said this week the company is working to cut the cost to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's propulsion system in half over the next 10 years, telling reporters sustainment is a top priority for the engine manufacturer.

Full story: P&W wants to cut F135 sustainment cost in half, DOD hones in on life-cycle cost

June 14, 2018 at 4:36 PM | Tony Bertuca

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) said today he opposes President Trump's plans to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea.

"Suspending U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises is a mistake," McCain said in a statement. "Making unnecessary and unreciprocated concessions is not in our interests -- and it is a bad negotiating tactic."

Trump has characterized the exercises as "provocative," which McCain said undermines the U.S. alliance with South Korea and plays into Chinese and North Korean "propaganda."

McCain, who is away from Washington and being treated for terminal brain cancer in his home state of Arizona, said he continues to hope Trump will be successful in diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, "but we must not impose upon ourselves the burden of providing so-called ‘good faith’ concessions as the price for continued dialogue."

Meanwhile, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) has said he supports Trump's plans to suspend the exercises as long as negotiations with North Korea continue to make positive progress.

June 14, 2018 at 1:42 PM | John Liang

A slew of news on the House and Senate defense spending and policy bills dominates this Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest.

Overall news on the FY-19 defense authorization and appropriations bills:

Thornberry wants final defense authorization bill complete by end of July

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said today he wants to work with his Senate counterparts to send a final fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill to President Trump by the end of July.

Lawmakers move to tighten OTA production authorities after REAN Cloud controversy

House lawmakers are moving to restrict how quickly the Defense Department can shift other transaction agreements from prototype work to production after government auditors ruled DOD improperly awarded a nearly $1 billion follow-on production agreement earlier this spring.

House panel shifts funds to hike procurement for select weapons projects by $4.5 billion

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee has increased funding for select weapon system projects by nearly $4.5 billion in its mark of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2019 spending bill, a hike achieved in part by diverting $2 billion away from Defense Department-requested projects in order to benefit National Guard programs, aircraft procurement and purchases of additional ships.

Pentagon seeks to further develop, integrate DIBNow system to manage supplier information

The Pentagon is seeking to bolster its DIBNow system, a business intelligence and analytics capability focused on the industrial base, according to the head of the Defense Department's manufacturing and industrial base policy shop.

Air Force news:

AFRL to begin key LVC technology demonstration later this month

A series of demonstrations this month at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada could pave the way for a new technology meant tovastly improve the quality of the service's training for fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft.

House appropriators offer Compass Call recap more money for fourth jet

House appropriators are offering an additional $194 million in their version of the fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill to accelerate the Air Force's move to a new Compass Call platform.

House lawmakers urge Air Force to rethink Reaper procurement plan

House appropriators are pushing back on the Air Force's request to buy 29 MQ-9 Reapers in fiscal year 2019, arguing the service's procurement plans don't properly address its future aircraft needs.

Air Force confirms 3DELRR acquisition baseline set in late April

The Air Force confirmed this week an acquisition program baseline for the Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long Range Radar was signed in late April, and the service is on track to begin testing of the system in fiscal year 2020.

Navy news:

Peters: Navy will submit aviation depot modernization plan to Congress next year

The Navy's aviation community is lagging behind the shipbuilding enterprise in determining how to modernize its depots and is slated to submit a plan to Congress next year, according to a senior official.

House panel would slash Navy MQ-25 air vehicle request by more than 40 percent

A key House panel is proposing to cut the Navy's MQ-25 Stingray fiscal year 2019 budget request by more than 40 percent, dealing the high-profile project to develop a catapult-launched unmanned aircraft system a major funding setback just as the service this summer is set to select a contractor to lead the program.

House appropriators boost shipyard modernization, want report on submarine backlog

House appropriators are boosting the Navy's request for modernizing the public shipyards and want the Navy to create a five-year plan to reduce its submarine maintenance backlog, according to the report accompanying the committee's version of the fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill.

Navy implements 35 surface warfare recommendations off two reviews

The Navy has implemented 35 surface warfare reform recommendations provided by the service's two major reviews and a government watchdog as of May 24, according to slides obtained by Inside Defense.

Navy partners with Army Analytics Group to sift through aviation mishap data

The Naval Safety Center has partnered with the Army Analytics Group for data aggregation and complex analysis to better understand the uptick in aviation mishaps, according to a Navy official.

Army news:

House lawmakers wary of Army recovery vehicle use

The House Appropriations Committee is worried that the Army may need to use two M88A2 Hercules recovery vehicles to tow one Abrams tank due to the tank's increased weight, according to the committee's fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill.

House appropriators find 'lack of consistency' in Army's Stryker plans

The House Appropriations Committee has taken issue with the Army's path so far toward modernizing its Stryker vehicles, asking the service to submit a resourcing strategy for its desired A1 upgrade.

Army addresses aviation training based on large-scale conflict

The Army is trying to take a more proactive approach to aviation safety through training, rather than simply reacting to mishaps, according to a service official.

June 14, 2018 at 11:10 AM | Tony Bertuca

Harry Harris, President Trump's nominee for ambassador to South Korea, said during a Senate hearing today the nuclear threat stemming from North Korea remains a danger, despite Trump's statements to the contrary.

"I think we must continue to worry about the nuclear threat," Harris told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

On Wednesday, however, Trump tweeted that after his meeting with leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore North Korea was "no longer" a nuclear threat.

But Harris, a former Navy admiral who advocated continuing joint military exercises with South Korea when he was chief of U.S. Pacific Command last year, said he supports the president's decision to cancel upcoming exercises because the region is "in a dramatically different place" following Trump's meeting with Kim.

"We should give major exercises a pause to see if Kim Jong Un is serious," Harris said.

The Pentagon has yet to release a statement about its plans for the next joint military exercise with South Korea, which is scheduled for August.