The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
May 22, 2024 at 11:07 AM

The House Armed Services Committee has begun its marathon mark-up of the annual defense authorization bill.

The committee decided against regular subcommittee mark-ups this year and is instead considering those portions of the bill at the full committee hearing today.

The proposed bill would, among numerous other things, stick to the $895 billion topline for national defense mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, add $1 billion to partially construct a second Virginia-class submarine, and cut $1 billion from the procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter so that it can reinvested it in the mitigation of ongoing production issues.

As in the past, today’s hearing is expected to stretch deep into the night or the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

Senate authorizers, meanwhile, are slated to mark up their version of the bill on June 12.

It is important to note that, while the bill authorizes funding for the Defense Department, it falls to congressional appropriators to actually provide that funding in separate legislation.

Watch Inside Defense for additional coverage of the authorization mark-up process.

By Nickolai Sukharev
May 21, 2024 at 5:05 PM

The Army can work to improve artillery rounds to meet its required ranges -- rather than procure a new weapon system -- when considering its future cannon capabilities, according to the deputy chief of staff.

“We can get ranges and lethality that are required in division lethality by innovating at the round as opposed to going and procuring an entirely new system,” Lt. Gen. Karl Gingrich, the deputy chief of staff for programs (G-8), said Tuesday morning at an event hosted by the Association of the United States Army.

Speaking about an unreleased tactical fires study, which evaluated cannon capability needs, Gingrich stressed that the Army could meet future range requirements by improving the 155mm rounds fired from the service’s howitzers.

“Rather than get a longer gun tube, there [are] technologies out there and many of your companies represent those technologies that allow us existing cannon configurations, whether it's 39 caliber, 52 caliber or whatever, 52 being the NATO kind of standard these days,” Gingrich said.

As part of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) program, which sought to develop a now cancelled tracked self-propelled 155mm howitzer to replace a portion of the current M109A7 Paladins, the Army also researched 155mm artillery rounds.

Seeking to increase the firing range of the rounds, the Army first tested and doubled the firing range of its M777 towed howitzer with rocket-assisted projectiles in 2018.

Following the M777 tests, the Army began the ERCA program, a howitzer with a 30ft gun tube fitted on to a Paladin wheelbase, with the aim of increasing the range from from 30km to 70km.

Speaking at the Fires Symposium in Lawton, OK earlier this month, Brig. Gen. Rory Crooks said the unreleased tactical fires study indicated that the Army could achieve the 70km range with a shorter barrel.

Last week, Gen. James Rainey, the commanding general of Army Futures Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that one of the big findings from the ERCA effort was being able to “innovate” at the round.

“Let's work with industry and see what kind of range we can get without having to redo the barrels, which makes you redo the turret, which remakes the platform,” he said.

By Tony Bertuca
May 21, 2024 at 4:09 PM

The Pentagon says Russia launched a counter-space weapon on May 16 into the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite.

“Russia launched a satellite into low-earth orbit that we assess is likely a counter-space weapon presumably capable of attacking other satellites in low-earth orbit,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said today during a press conference.

When pressed on whether the Russian system could take down a U.S. satellite, Ryder responded: “It's a counter-space weapon in the same orbit as a U.S. government satellite.”

Russia, meanwhile, denies that it has put a weapon in space.

But Ryder said the weapon resembles previously deployed counter-space payloads the Pentagon reviewed in 2019 and 2022.

“Obviously, that's something that we'll continue to monitor,” he said. “We have a responsibility to be ready to protect and defend the space domain and ensure continuous and uninterrupted support to the joint combined force and we’ll continue to balance the need to protect our interests in space with our desire to preserve a stable and sustainable space environment.”

By Abby Shepherd
May 21, 2024 at 4:06 PM

This year's biennial Rim of the Pacific exercise will kick off in late June, the Navy announced Tuesday.

RIMPAC 2024 will be the 29th exercise since the practice began in 1971, with approximately 29 countries taking part in this year’s event between June 26 and August 2 in and around the Hawaiian Islands. About 40 surface ships, three submarines, 14 national land forces, over 150 aircraft and over 25,000 personnel will also be present, according to a press release.

The exercise promotes “a free and open Indo-Pacific,” leveraging multinational partnerships and interoperability methods, the press release adds.

“For the first time in RIMPAC history, a member of the Chilean Navy, Commodore Alberto Guerrero, will serve as deputy commander of the CTF,” according to the Navy’s press release. “Rear Adm. Kazushi Yokota of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force will serve as vice commander. Other key leaders of the multinational force will include Commodore Kristjan Monaghan of Canada, who will command the maritime component, and Air Commodore Louise Desjardins of Australia, who will command the air component.”

The exercise comes during a time of heightened Chinese military aggression in the Pacific, a threat also discussed in 2022’s RIMPAC exercise. Regular communication and cooperation between allies are important for this reason, Third Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Michael Boyle said in 2022 following that year’s RIMPAC.

“We’ve already shown the world that we are really like-minded and we’re willing to work together to get better, to work at this partnership and send a signal globally,” Boyle said at the time. “With everything else going on, it’s still important to come together and build these relationships.”

By Dan Schere
May 21, 2024 at 2:47 PM

The Army released a digital engineering policy today that directs the service to more broadly adopt digital engineering capabilities and best practices, with a particular emphasis on ground vehicles, aviation and sensors as "focus areas."

Digital engineering “leverages applications, modeling and simulation, and data to create digital models in place of the legacy paper-based approaches,” according to the Army policy. The digital models provide information about a system’s maturation as part of a “model-analyze-build" approach, instead of a “design-build-test" method.

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said earlier Tuesday during a congressional hearing that the goal of the policy is to ensure the Army adopts digital engineering approaches at scale to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

The Army policy released Tuesday states the service plans to incorporate lessons learned from companies in the private sector that are already employing digital engineering techniques, particularly companies that test automobiles, aircraft and other vehicles. Initially the Army’s digital engineering areas of focus will be ground vehicles, aviation and sensors -- areas that industry has started using these practices, the policy notes.

The policy also specifies multiple Army acquisition programs as being “pathfinder programs” that will “illustrate digital engineering’s potential contributions, highlight existing policies and processes that may hinder a program’s ability to implement [digital engineering] and identify how to advance [digital engineering] in various contexts.” These programs include:

  • The XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle
  • The Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft
  • Integrated Fires Mission Command
  • Joint Targeting Integrated Command and Control Suite
  • M113 Armored Personnel Carrier
  • The Black Hawk, Apache and Chinook helicopter programs that are all in sustainment.

Defense Scoop reported earlier Tuesday on the impending release of the policy.

By John Liang
May 21, 2024 at 1:43 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on an Army loitering munition program, a PAC-3 missile being fired from a Navy launch tube and more.

The Army has contracted with AeroVironment for its Switchblade 600 system in the initial stages of a new loitering munition program:

Army using supplemental, reprogrammed funds to bolster LASSO

As the Army looks to bolster its Low Altitude Stalking and Strike Ordinance (LASSO) program going forward, it plans to use a combination of reprogrammed funds from two previous fiscal years as well as the recently passed Ukrainian supplemental security package to do so.

During a flight test at White Sands Missile Range, NM, a PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement launched from an MK-70 containerized launch platform, chased down and hit a cruise missile target, Lockheed Martin announced this week:

DOD, Lockheed fire PAC-3 from Navy launch tube, new demonstration with implications for ship defense

The U.S. military and Lockheed Martin fired an Army air-defense missile from a Navy vertical launch tube in an on-land demonstration of a new capability that could allow the U.S. military to arm ships with the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 family of missiles, an event funded by a classified Defense Department customer.

More missile defense news:

MDA cancels source selection for C2BMC collaborative planning upgrade for combatant commanders

The Missile Defense Agency has pulled the plug on a planned upgrade of a key part of the Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications system, advising companies that prepared and submitted bids for a project called CODDS -- C2BMC Operational Defense Design System -- that funds previously slated for the effort have been shifted to higher-priority needs and the source selection is cancelled.

The latest CMMC news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

CMMC proposed rule with changes to defense acquisition regulations enters OMB review process

A proposed rule to amend the Defense Department’s acquisition policies for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program has entered the Office of Management and Budget review process.

The Defense Department inspector general is running several reviews related to U.S. assistance in Ukraine:

Pentagon IG to review weapons pricing for Ukraine

The Defense Department inspector general intends to review the process by which DOD contracting officers have negotiated prices with contractors to provide weapons and other assistance to Ukraine, according to a new IG letter.

Document: DOD IG memo on weapons policy for Ukraine

By Nick Wilson
May 21, 2024 at 11:56 AM

The Navy stood up a new unmanned surface vessel squadron last week that will oversee a fleet of small uncrewed vessels called Global Autonomous Reconnaissance Craft (GARC), according to a May 17 service announcement.

Located at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, CA, and staffed by approximately 400 personnel, USVRON Three will help advance the integration of uncrewed surface platforms into operations through experimentation and the development of operational concepts.

“The mission of USVRON Three is to deliver the most formidable, unmanned platforms in the maritime domain,” the announcement states. “The squadron will be a cornerstone in building the foundational knowledge required to operate and maintain sUSV and will spearhead the development of [tactics, techniques and procedures] for sUSV operations and sustainment.”

GARCs are 16-foot USVs produced by naval technology company Maritime Applied Physics Corp. The vessels are intended to enable research, testing and operations.

“USVs, including the GARCs, will provide additional warfighting capability and capacity to augment the Navy’s traditional combatant force, providing commanders with a greater range of capabilities and employment options to increase the fleet’s tactical and strategic advantages,” the announcement adds.

The new unit is U.S. Pacific Fleet’s second USV squadron, following the establishment of USVRON One in 2022. The older unit has been experimenting with medium and large USVs including Sea Hunter, Sea Hawk and Overload vessels to inform the Navy’s decision-making process ahead of platform acquisitions.

Earlier this year, incoming head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Adm. Samuel Paparo said the new USVRON Three will continue these efforts to validate unmanned tech and operational concepts.

“Here in May in U.S. Pacific Fleet, we will be standing up our second USV squadron,” Paparo said in February. “This is not a contractor-owned, contractor-operated capability. This is a uniformed capability that will be able to own [and] operate unmanned capabilities that can be employed within particular spaces."

Paparo previously said INDOPACOM aims to use autonomous, unmanned systems to generate a “constant stare” to deter China from attacking Taiwan, while Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti has indicated the Navy is on track to begin operationalizing a hybrid manned-unmanned fleet as early as fiscal year 2029.

By Abby Shepherd
May 21, 2024 at 11:16 AM

The Navy's Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants will brief industry members on how the Large Unmanned Surface Vessel program will impact surface warfare during an upcoming industry day.

The industry day, planned for June 10, will allow feedback from potential contractors on the development and procurement of future vessels. The program will highlight “the LUSV program vision and objectives; the program schedule; and the engineering/technical requirements and objectives,” according to a Monday notice.

No contract or award will be granted based on this announcement, the Navy clarified. The event will be in the Washington, DC metro area, with access only allowed for Defense Department contractors.

In March, the Navy slowed the LUSV program’s pace -- with the fiscal year 2025 funding request postponing planned procurement of the lead vessel by two years. The LUSV’s research and development funding request was also reduced by $74 million, bringing it to $54 million.

Service officials cited technical challenges within LUSV, as well as funding caps imposed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act.

“Where we have one or two unmanned systems that we’re experiencing technical difficulty with, we’re working to ‘re-phase’ those across the ‘future years defense program.’ So LUSV, for example, we are moving that from FY-25 to FY-27,” Rear Adm. Ben Reynolds, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for budget and the service’s fiscal management division director, told reporters in early March.

Following this cut from the Navy, Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Bryan Clark told Inside Defense that LUSV could eventually be cut definitively, despite the service’s need for unmanned platforms.

“LUSV was always kind of a questionable use case,” Clark told Inside Defense in March. “And it was expensive: you’re looking at a couple-hundred-plus-million-dollar-ship. So, I think it’s likely to go away.”

By John Liang
May 20, 2024 at 12:53 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on missile defense, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and more.

We start off with some missile defense news:

MDA cancels source selection for C2BMC collaborative planning upgrade for combatant commanders

The Missile Defense Agency has pulled the plug on a planned upgrade of a key part of the Command and Control, Battle Management and Communications system, advising companies that prepared and submitted bids for a project called CODDS -- C2BMC Operational Defense Design System -- that funds previously slated for the effort have been shifted to higher-priority needs and the source selection is cancelled.

DOD would be required to update notional plan to acquire 64 NGIs under draft legislation

The Defense Department would be required to revise a draft plan to triple the size of the Next Generation Interceptor inventory -- from 20 to 64 guided missiles – under a move proposed in draft legislation in the wake of last month's earlier-than-planned decision to select a prime contractor.

The Government Accountability Office recently released a report on the Pentagon's most expensive acquisition program:

New F-35 baseline expected in July

The Joint Program Office for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will release a new Acquisition Program Baseline and Selected Acquisition Report for the fifth-generation fighter in July, the Government Accountability Office said Thursday, suggesting the Pentagon’s largest acquisition program yet is getting even costlier.

Document: GAO report on the F-35 program

The chairman of the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee recently spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations:

Wittman: Lawmakers may approve aircraft divestment but still want Air Force to show game plan

Congress is slowly becoming comfortable with retirements of legacy aircraft, especially the A-10 Warthog, but first it wants the Air Force to consider ways it can use "existing aircraft to a greater advantage," Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) told Inside Defense Thursday evening.

The U.S. needs to make sure allies and not "potential enemies" supply the components used in ammunition production, according to a senior Army official:

Bush says 'potential enemies' can be out of the U.S. ammunition supply chain by 2028 if Congress invests

The Army can remove "unfriendly" countries from its ammunition supply chain by 2028 but getting there will require investment from Congress, service acquisition chief Doug Bush told lawmakers Wednesday.

The Army's No. 2 civilian official spoke recently at an event in Washington Friday hosted by the Center for a New American Security:

Army under secretary says drone corps would run counter to UAS experimentation goals

Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo said today that a recent proposal from congressional authorizers to establish a drone corps within the service could run counter to the service's goals when it comes to experimenting with unmanned systems.

Eric Fanning, the president and CEO of AIA who served as Army secretary and in other senior Pentagon civilian roles during the Obama administration, told a gathering of reporters that the military and Congress should view the defense industrial base as a strategic national security asset whose health should be fostered by policy and oversight:

Top defense industry group unveils legislative priorities, warns of possible inflation 'bow wave'

The Aerospace Industries Association has put forth a list of legislative priorities as congressional committees begin crafting their versions of the annual defense authorization and appropriations bills, with the group's leader emphasizing the need to lift international trade barriers and prepare for what could be a "bow wave" of inflation consequences.

A new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance digital architecture will be designed to share data across the joint force that comes from the services, intelligence community or even commercial sources:

Air Force looking to fund ISR digital infrastructure

The fiscal year 2025 budget request includes for the first time funding for an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance digital architecture for data sharing, according to a top Air Force official.

The FY-24 National Defense Authorization Act directed the establishment of an official SLCM-N program of record and congressional appropriators provided $90 million for the effort despite opposition from the White House and many congressional Democrats:

SLCM-N is in the works, though lawmakers and Navy officials remain split on use case

The Navy is standing up a nuclear sea-launched cruise missile program office, though the service requested no funding for the initiative in fiscal year 2025, and some lawmakers and naval officials remain skeptical of its use case.

House appropriators won't go above a congressionally mandated defense spending cap:

House appropriators sticking to defense cap

The House Appropriations Committee intends to honor the $895 billion defense spending cap mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, according to an announcement by the panel's chairman.

By Shelley K. Mesch
May 20, 2024 at 11:15 AM

Vipin Narang will be the acting assistant defense secretary for space policy starting today, the Defense Department announced, following the departure of John Plumb.

Narang was previously the principal deputy assistant secretary for space policy under Plumb, who announced his pending departure earlier this year.

Plumb -- the first to hold the title -- filled the role from March 2022 until this month. During his time, he “effectively and skillfully managed the department’s strategic capabilities for integrated deterrence: space, nuclear weapons, missile defense and countering weapons of mass destruction,” an announcement of the leadership transition posted Friday states.

Plumb had not announced what his next plans were but has said he only planned to hold the DOD role for two years when he accepted his nomination.

The White House has yet to nominate a full-time replacement for the position.

By Tony Bertuca
May 20, 2024 at 5:00 AM

Senior defense officials are scheduled to speak at several public events this week. The House Armed Services Committee is slated to hold its marathon mark-up of the fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill.


The Association of the United States Army hosts a discussion with the Army deputy chief of staff (G-8).

AFCEA NOVA hosts the DOD Enterprise IT Day.

The Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee holds a hearing on DOD space activities.

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee holds a hearing on the Army budget.

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies hosts a discussion with the chief of U.S. Space Systems Command.


The House Armed Services Committee meets to consider the fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill.

The Senate Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee holds a hearing on the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

Defense Scoop hosts its Defense Talks conference.

The Atlantic Council hosts a discussion with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. C.Q. Brown.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion with the deputy director of the Joint Interagency Force South on combatting transnational drug flows.

By Abby Shepherd
May 16, 2024 at 3:17 PM

The Navy's timeline for fielding the MQ-25 Stingray uncrewed aircraft system on certain aircraft carriers has shifted, after a recent provision was included in this week's House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee mark-up of the fiscal year 2025 defense policy bill.

While modifications to the compartments and infrastructure of the aircraft carrier George Washington (CVN-73) were originally planned to occur during the vessel’s refueling complex and overhaul work, the schedule shifted, leading to this recent change. Now, the modifications will occur “before the planned deployment date of such vehicle,” according to this week’s mark-up.

While the FY-19 National Defense Authorization Act directed the program to modify CVN-73 during certain maintenance periods, these periods were very short in duration and didn’t align with the current MQ-25 carrier deployment plan, Navy Capt. Daniel Fucito said in a statement to Inside Defense.

“The Program Office worked closely with Fleet representatives, Requirements Officers, and the [House Armed Services Committee] Professional Staff Members to modify the language in a way that was more conducive to achieving the desired result,” he added.

Right now, the program team is currently working to update CVN-73’s deployment schedule, a Navy spokesperson told Inside Defense.

Fulfilling the necessary modifications to support unmanned systems on vessels while they are completing maintenance availabilities is important because of limited time, a senior congressional aide told Inside Defense.

Despite issues last year regarding scheduling for the aircraft itself, the program is moving “in the right direction,” the aide added.

According to Navy FY-25 budget information, a reprogramming for the MQ-25 program was necessary to resolve obsolescence redesign efforts and procure two more system demonstration test articles. An acquisition plan approved by Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro in June 2023 also delayed milestone C production certification to the third quarter of 2025.

By Nick Wilson
May 16, 2024 at 3:10 PM

House authorizers are supporting a legislative request from the Navy that would give the sea service multiyear procurement authority to buy CH-53K heavy lift helicopters and their T408 engines.

A provision clearing the Navy to use multiyear procurement for the CH-53K is included in the House Armed Services Committee’s draft defense policy bill, which follows a legislative proposal submitted by the Pentagon in April.

In the proposal, the Navy asks Congress for the authority to enter a block-buy contract during fiscal years 2025 or 2026 for up to 37 CH-53K helicopter airframes. The Navy also asks for the authority to launch a separate multiyear procurement deal for up to 350 T408 engines from FY-25 to FY-29.

Taken together, the two multiyear deals are projected to save approximately $261 million compared to single-year contracts, according to the proposal. The aircraft will replace the legacy CH-53E as the Marine Corps’ primary, and only, heavy-lift aircraft.

The Marine Corps now anticipates an initial CH-53K deployment to begin in FY-26, marking a one-year delay compared to earlier plans as the service builds its inventory of spare parts and support equipment.

The Navy’s FY-25 budget request contains approximately $2.5 billion in procurement funding for 19 CH-53Ks and the Marine Corps’ unfunded priority list includes $250 million for two additional aircraft.

By John Liang
May 16, 2024 at 2:27 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the unfunded priorities included in the fiscal year 2025 defense policy bill, plus Army modernization issues and more.

We start off with an analysis of how much unfunded priorities funding is included in the House Armed Services Committee's FY-25 defense policy bill:

House defense bill would fund key items on INDOPACOM's unfunded priorities list

The House Armed Services Committee's draft of the fiscal year 2025 defense authorization bill would approve funding for more than $1 billion in "unfunded priorities" identified by the military, mostly U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee received joint testimony this week on Army modernization programs from several senior service officials:

Bush says supplemental replenishment fund will help increase PrSM increment 1 production

Army acquisition chief Doug Bush told lawmakers today that the fiscal year 2024 defense supplemental package passed last month will be key in increasing production of the Precision Strike Missile Increment 1 in the near term.

Document: Senate hearing on Army FY-25 modernization programs

The U.S. government has set up a new program aimed at getting more weapons to Ukraine:

New $2B 'defense enterprise program' would build up Ukraine's weapons industry

A new $2 billion initiative announced in Kyiv today by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is intended to help build a domestic defense industrial base in Ukraine as it faces long-term conflict with Russia.

The Pentagon's top acquisition official testified before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee this week:

LaPlante highlights DOD's ongoing desire for new funding flexibility to counter drones

Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante told Senate appropriators today that new funding flexibility would allow the department to more quickly counter the evolving threat of battlefield drones.

. . . as did the Navy's acquisition chief:

Guertin: Navy must 'up our game in understanding how to build ships'

The Navy needs to "up our game in understanding how to build ships," a senior service official said today, citing efforts to expand the use of modern design tools and hire more naval architects and marine engineers.

Navy invests $345M over FY-23, '24 for munition production capacity, Guertin says

To strengthen its organic industrial base -- made up of government-owned industrial centers -- the Navy has invested $345 million across 200 various projects at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division in Maryland.

A new U.S.-Japan missile defense interceptor development deal apparently denies Japan a role it sought in the "front end" of the missile:

U.S., Japan ink GPI co-development agreement; Japan denied role on missile 'front end'

The United States and Japan have formalized an agreement to co-develop a major new weapon -- the first-ever, clean-sheet design for a counter-hypersonic missile called the Glide Phase Interceptor, an estimated multibillion-dollar development that will take about a decade to ready for production.

A recent letter from Senate lawmakers is the latest evidence of growing congressional support for restoring a second Virginia-class submarine to the FY-25 budget:

Senate authorizers join push to fund two Virginia subs in new letter to appropriators

A bipartisan group of 15 senators sent a letter to appropriations committee leadership calling for the full restoration of funding for two Virginia-class submarines in fiscal year 2025.

Document: Senators' letter on Virginia-class sub funding

By Dan Schere
May 15, 2024 at 2:19 PM

Army acquisition head Doug Bush told Senate appropriators today that the service could use more funding to increase its contracting workforce.

Bush, speaking during a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing, said the Army’s contracting workforce currently numbers about 9,000. The workforce had to “double their workload” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which was followed immediately by the start of Ukraine’s war with Russia, he noted.

“If I worry about one workforce, it’s the contracting workforce,” he said.

When asked by subcommittee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) whether 9,000 people was optimal, Bush said “some more would be helpful.”

“However, we are in the meantime focused on giving them better technology and tools to be more efficient. So, I think a little help in both realms, efficiency investment and perhaps some more people, would be warranted,” he said.

Tester asked later in the hearing whether the services utilize a “distinct appropriations account to ensure sufficient funding to recruit and retain acquisition personnel,” and Bush said the Army does for training.

“And if it was bigger that would actually be very helpful. And it wouldn’t have to be dramatically bigger. A little bit could go a long way across the services,” he said.

Bush told Inside Defense following the hearing that contracting centers such as Redstone Arsenal, AL and Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, as well as others, are the types of facilities that could use more workers.

Bush said the Army plans to come back to the Senate with a more precise number of how many more workers it needs but added the increase would not be a “dramatic number.”

“I’m not talking doubling it. I’m talking just some more people to make sure that as you have a churn of workforce in and out . . . that we have enough flexibility to make sure all the work gets covered as you have workforce churn,” he said.