The Insider

By Thomas Duffy
July 14, 2010 at 9:16 PM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited with Senate Republicans yesterday and took the opportunity to ask them to help pass a supplemental appropriations bill that includes about $39 billion for Afghanistan operations. Over the past few months, Gates has warned that if the supplemental was not passed and signed into law by July 4 the Pentagon would have to make some drastic accounting moves to support troops in combat.

During a press briefing today, Gates' spokesman, Geoff Morrell, laid out where the department stands:

I think the secretary expressed to the Senate Republicans that he is disappointed that the Congress did not pass the defense supplemental before the July 4th break. He's very concerned about the predicament that puts us in. And in order to assure that war operations are not interrupted, the services will now have to begin cash-flowing operating costs for war activities using their base budgets.

But because of where we are in the fiscal calendar, this option won't last very long. So absent more drastic action, we project that certain Army and Marine Corps accounts will run dry in August. So we urgently need Congress to pass the supplemental before members leave town for the next break in August.

While we hope and expect the Congress will get this done, we also are obligated now to begin seriously planning for the possibility that they don't. The budget team and others are now developing an emergency plan should this happen, but it's not appropriate for me to discuss the details of that before the secretary has a -- has had a chance to consider the options they've put forth.

Needless to say, all of this is extraordinarily disruptive to the department.

But we've had some practice at this over the last few years. We're sadly getting used to this fire drill. And, while we have faced this circumstance in years past, the situation we find ourselves in this year is much more difficult because it comes so late in the fiscal year. So most of the department's accounts are on their last legs already, so we are left with far fewer options in terms of cash flowing.

By Jason Sherman
July 14, 2010 at 6:01 PM

The Pentagon has advised Congress of a potential $2.1 billion deal to sell 24 MH-60R Seahawk Multi-Mission Helicopters to Australia.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency on July 9 announced the potential sale, which would include 60 T-700 GE 401C Engines -- two per aircraft plus 12 spares -- communication equipment, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications and the like.

According to the notice:

The proposed sale of the MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopters will improve Australia’s anti-submarine and surface warfare capability and provide an improved search and rescue and anti-ship surveillance capability. Australia will also use the enhanced capability in future contingency operations encompassing humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and stability operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing these additional helicopters into its armed forces.

The prime contractors for such a deal, according to the notice, would be Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford, CT; Lockheed Martin, Owego, NY; General Electric, Lynn, MA; and Raytheon, Portsmouth, RI.

By Dan Dupont
July 13, 2010 at 7:22 PM

Just posted this morning is a key document for anyone interested in the Stryker program.

It's the acquisition decision memorandum clearing the way for the Army to take new steps to outfit some Strykers with "double-v-shaped" hulls that will make them more able to withstand IED blasts, fulfilling an urgent operational need in Afghanistan.

Not coincidentally, there was a bit contract announcement on the Stryker double-v-shaped-hull effort yesterday, as we reported:

GDLS Wins $30 Million Stryker Double-V-Shaped Hull Contract
General Dynamics Land Systems has been awarded $30 million by the Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command to begin production of a double-v-shaped hull for the Stryker infantry combat vehicle, according to a statement released by GDLS.

By Jason Sherman
July 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department earlier this month kicked off $63.5 million worth of new security assistance projects to provide counterterrorism training and equipment to five nations -- Lebanon, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Maldives and Mauritania, according to Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Bob Mehal.

The allocation for the new projects, according to Mehall:

- Lebanon: $23,000,000
- Bangladesh: $7,019,000
- Mauritania: $6,440,000
- Indonesia Aviation Upgrade: $11,760,000
- Indonesia Maritime Security: $10,775,000
- Maldives: $3,910,000

These programs -- drawn up in cooperation with the State Department -- bring total spending in fiscal year 2010 on “global train and equip programs,” authorized under the so-called Section 1206 authority, to $301.6 million. The Defense Department is authorized to spend $350 million in FY-10 on these “dual-key” security assistance programs.

Under his 1206 authority, the defense secretary -- with the concurrence of the secretary of state -- can sponsor a program to build the capacity of a foreign nation's military forces in order to either participate in a military operation alongside U.S. forces or conduct counterterrorism operations.

This spring, the Pentagon began programs to boost counterterrorism capabilities in Yemen and the Philippines as well as projects to assist the armed forces of nations set to deploy troops to Afghanistan.

More details on the current round of programs were reported by Inside the Pentagon when Defense Secretary Robert Gates notified Congress in mid-June. Since then, these efforts cleared a 15-day congressional notification period without objection from any lawmaker, allowing the new projects to proceed, according to Mehal.

By John Liang
July 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Northrop Grumman has signed an agreement to purchase a building in Falls Church, VA, as the new location for its corporate office, according to a company statement released this afternoon.

Northrop had announced in January that it planned to move its corporate headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington, DC area. According to today's statement:

Northrop Grumman expects to initiate operations in the new corporate office facility in the summer of 2011 with employees from the company's Los Angeles and Arlington, Va. offices. The company currently employs approximately 40,000 people in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. region.

By Pat Host
July 9, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The co-chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus believe that future National Guard budgets should fund more C-27 aircraft. In a July 7, 2010, letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Army Secretary John McHugh, Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) state their support for the C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft program in lieu of White House plans to reduce the number of airframes from 78 to 38, stating it is “cheaper to fly” than comparable intra-theater airlifters and can handle many different missions.

“We firmly believe that the C-27 is an excellent option for austere tactical airlift into rugged environments,” the letter states. “It is cheaper to fly than other intra-theater airlifters. The airframe seems ideal for the gamut of homeland defense and civil support missions that are central to the mission of the National Guard. We believe future budgets should increase the C-27 buy.”

The senators also air concerns over air mobility force structure, “particularly that of the Army,” due to the reduction in airframes and the possibility that the program would go from a joint Army-Air Force program to an Air Force-only program. "The reduction in the total C-27 program represents challenges both for the future of Department of Defense air mobility as well as personnel in the Army who have been trained to fly the airplanes,” the senators inquire.

The senators also ask about how the secretaries plan on integrating the reduced number of C-27s back into the fleet and issue their support for the C-27. They also question the DOD analysis that lead to the conclusion that the C-23, once regarded as obsolete, would be worth retaining in lieu of purchasing new C-27s.

The co-chairmen also ask about possible plans to retain personnel who were trained to support the C-27 mission.

By Marcus Weisgerber
July 9, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Boeing officially submitted its bid in the KC-X next-generation tanker competition this morning.

In a statement, the company said:

The 8,000-page NewGen Tanker proposal, hand-delivered to the KC-X program office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, offers an American-made, 767-based multi-mission tanker that will satisfy all 372 mandatory Air Force requirements and be capable, survivable, and combat-ready at the lowest cost to the taxpayer. The proposal was created by an integrated "One Boeing" team from various sites across the company, including employees from the Commercial Airplanes; Defense, Space & Security; and Engineering, Operations & Technology organizations.

EADS submitted its bid yesterday, the day before proposals were officially due. (A little ironic considering the company claimed it needed a 90-day extension to the deadline and only received an additional 60 days to prepare.)

So the ball is now in the Air Force's court as it prepares to evaluate the two 8,000-page entries.

By John Liang
July 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and fellow panel member Jack Reed (D-RI) are traveling to Afghanistan and Pakistan this week to check out the security situation in the region, according to a committee statement issued this morning. Specifically:

During the trip, the Senators will meet with high-ranking foreign leaders, diplomats, and American military commanders, civilian personnel, as well as soldiers from Michigan and Rhode Island who are currently serving overseas.

By John Liang
July 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

It's official. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his recommendation today to President Obama that Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, the head of U.S. Joint Forces Command, be nominated to take over U.S. Central Command. Mattis would take the place of Gen. David Petraeus, who has taken over command of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The moves stem from the ouster of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who resigned his post last month following the publication of a profile piece in Rolling Stone magazine.

At a press briefing this afternoon, Gates said of Mattis:

Whether commanding troops in battle, leading the Marine Corps Combat Development Command or developing new operating concepts at JFCOM ((U.S. Joint Forces Command)), Gen. Mattis has proved to be one of the military's most innovative and iconoclastic thinkers. His insights into the nature of warfare in the 21st century have influenced my own views about how the armed forces must be shaped and postured for the future.

According to Mattis' JFCOM bio:

Gen. Mattis has commanded at multiple levels. As a lieutenant, he served as a rifle and weapons platoon commander in the 3rd Marine Division. As a captain, he commanded a rifle company and a weapons company in the 1st Marine Brigade.

As a major, he commanded Recruiting Station Portland. As a lieutenant colonel, he commanded 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, one of Task Force Ripper's assault battalions in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a colonel, he commanded 7th Marines (Reinforced).

Upon becoming a brigadier general, he commanded first the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and then Task Force 58, during Operation Enduring Freedom in southern Afghanistan. As a major general, he commanded the 1st Marine Division during the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In his first tour as a lieutenant general, he commanded the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and served as the deputy commandant for combat development.

Most recently, he commanded the I Marine Expeditionary Force and served as the commander of U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.

From 2007-09, he served as both NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and commander, USJFCOM.

Gen. Mattis, a native of the Pacific Northwest, graduated from Central Washington State University in 1972. He is also a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College.

By Jason Sherman
July 7, 2010 at 5:00 AM

President Obama today announced the recess appointment of Philip Coyle III -- Pentagon director of operational test and evaluation during the Clinton administration -- to be the White House Office of Science and Technology's associate director for national security and international affairs.

Coyle's appointment is one of three announced today by the president “to fill critical administration posts that have been left vacant,” according to a White House statement. The other two appointments fill posts at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. In a statement, Obama said:

It’s unfortunate that at a time when our nation is facing enormous challenges, many in Congress have decided to delay critical nominations for political purposes. These recess appointments will allow three extremely qualified candidates to get to work on behalf of the American people right away. With more than 180 nominees still pending before the Senate, it’s my hope that my colleagues in Congress will agree to put politics aside and move forward on these vitally important positions.

The following is a summary of Coyle's curriculum vitae released by the White House:

Philip E. Coyle III currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the President of the World Security Institute, and to its Center for Defense Information, a Washington D.C.-based national security study center. In 2005 and 2006, Coyle served on the nine-member Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), appointed by President George W. Bush and nominated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Coyle served on Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger's Base Support and Retention Council. From September 1994, through January 2001, Mr. Coyle was Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, in the Department of Defense, and is the longest serving Director in the 25 year history of the Office. In this capacity, he was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense on test and evaluation in the DOD. Mr. Coyle has 40 years experience in national security research, development, and testing matters. From 1959 to 1979, and again from 1981 to 1993, Mr. Coyle worked at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California. Over those 33 years Mr. Coyle worked on a variety of nuclear weapons programs and other high technology programs. Mr. Coyle also served as Deputy Associate Director of the Laser Program at LLNL. Mr. Coyle retired from the Laboratory in 1993 as Laboratory Associate Director and deputy to the Director.  In recognition of his years of service to the Laboratory and to the University of California, the University named Mr. Coyle Laboratory Associate Director Emeritus. During the Carter Administration, Mr. Coyle served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs in the Department of Energy (DOE). In this capacity he had oversight responsibility for the nuclear weapons research, development, production and testing programs of the Department, as well as the DOE programs in arms control, non-proliferation, and nuclear safeguards and security.

By John Liang
July 6, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Looks like the United States isn't the only country that will miss a deadline to destroy its chemical weapons stockpile. According to today's issue of Defense Environment Alert:

Russia has conceded it will miss by three years a legally binding deadline of 2012 for destroying its massive stockpile of chemical weapons, the top official overseeing compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), an international treaty on chemical weapons destruction, announced late last month.

Russia joins the United States in conceding the deadline will not be met by the two countries possessing the largest stockpiles, but the treaty's overseer believes the key goal of getting the stockpiles destroyed is not in jeopardy.

The Russian Federation -- which is the largest possessor state of chemical weapons with a declared stockpile of 40,000 metric tons -- recently indicated it will not meet the CWC's April 12, 2012, destruction deadline, according to Global Green USA, an environmental organization that monitors weapons' destruction campaigns. Rogelio Pfirter, director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) -- the entity that oversees compliance with the treaty -- made the announcement in The Hague at the beginning of the 61st OPCW Executive Council meeting, held June 29-July 2.

"((G))iven the excellent track record and firm commitment to the implementation of the Convention consistently shown by the Russian Federation and by the United States of America, the key goal of achieving the total and irreversible destruction of their declared stockpiles is, in my view, not in question," Pfirter stated, according to a June 29 Global Green press release. "Indeed, both these countries have consistently shown their resolve to abide by their commitments under the Convention and I for one have no doubt that they will continue to stay on track."

Russia's announcement signals "a more realistic schedule for destruction," says Paul Walker, director of the security and sustainability program with Global Green, in the press release. "By extending the planning schedule from 2012 to 2015, Russia is recognizing that it's more important to meet safety and security requirements rather than deadlines." He says so far Russia has destroyed almost half of its stockpile.

The United States in 2006 signaled it would not be able to meet the 2012 deadline either, and in 2007, DOD formally certified a plan to stretch out the cost and schedule for destroying weapons at two of its sites, citing tightening annual budgets. Now, the United States has shortened that a little, expecting to finish in 2021, while Congress passed legislation in recent years calling for the United States to complete destruction by 2017.

The United States has eliminated 74 percent of its 28,600 metric tons of chemical weapons, according to Global Green.

By Jason Sherman
July 6, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Navy plans to invite foreign firms to bid on a contract to install lights -- capable of withstanding withering heat from the Joint Strike Fighter's jet engines -- on warship decks, Inside the Navy reports in this week's issue. In a recent Federal Business Opportunities notice, the Navy announced its interest in product data for commercially available heat-resistant lighting. Interested parties are to reply by July 15, according to the notice, which adds:

the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWC-AD), of Lakehurst NJ, ((...)) is seeking potential sources and no cost product information of commercially available, non-developmental Joint Strike Fighter exhaust heat resistant flight deck to be proposed under the Foreign Comparative Test (FCT) program for US Navy ships. NAWCAD intends to initiate a Foreign Comparative Testing Program for the Light fixtures and invite full and open competition.

See Dan Taylor's Inside the Navy story for more.

By Marcus Weisgerber
July 2, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Ukrainian aircraft maker Antonov has entered an agreement with California-based U.S. Aerospace to compete in the Air Force's KC-X next-generation tanker competition, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

The July 1 filing, states the two companies have entered an agreement for “((p))articipation in the KC-X Tanker Modernization Program for the U.S. Air Force.”

“We anticipate bidding three models of aircraft, the AN-124-KC, AN-122-KC and AN-112-KC,” the notice states.

The team, in the filing, states that it notified the Pentagon of its intention to bid on July 1.

“The airframes will be built by Antonov in Ukraine, with final assembly in the United States,” the notice states. “We believe that we will be able to offer a superior ((aircraft)) at a significantly lower price than other potential bidders.”

Boeing and EADS are both expected to submit tanker bids, which are due on July 9. The Antonov-U.S. Aerospace filing and word that they would compete in the tanker competition was fist reported by Defense News this morning.

By John Liang
July 2, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Just posted for your weekend reading: A new Government Accountability Office report on cost, schedule and performance challenges with the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Specifically:

Findings:

* Reliability growth approach and other performance issues present significant challenges and risks

* Current nature of development, test, and procurement schedules add unnecessary risk to program

* Costs could increase due to concurrency, redesign effort, and final procurement quantity

Conclusions:

Program’s history of cost growth, schedule slips and performance failures and the current challenges (including changing threats) raise the question of whether the business case for the EFV program (in terms of cost, schedule, and performance) is still sound.

Recommendations:

* A reevaluation be performed to confirm the EFV remains a required asset and the preferred approach. If the EFV business case is confirmed,

* ensure that certain knowledge is gained prior to the start of OA-2 (Operational Assessment) and

* add another OA to verify progress along an acceptable reliability growth curve.

To ensure a more informed production decision and minimize investment risk,

* delay the production decision until the added OA and a design projected to provide the required reliability are completed, and

* reduce LRIP quantities to the minimum necessary and document the rationale for the quantity if it is in excess of 10 percent of the total planned buy.

Some of Inside the Navy's recent coverage of the EFV program:

USMC Ground Vehicle Strategy Now Due After Conway's Departure

Limited Objective Experiment 4 Will Use Surrogates For EFV And V-22

Flynn: Marines Will Keep Expeditionary Capability Regardless of EFV

Regression Testing To Precede Formal Release Of New EFV Software

EFV Program Admits Software Delays, But Says Overall Schedule OK

Marine Corps Receives New EFV Prototypes; Operational Testing Next Year

By Jason Sherman
July 2, 2010 at 5:00 AM

It will be wheels up on July 4 -- destination: Afghanistan -- for Pentagon Acquisition Executive Ashton Carter, according to his spokeswoman, Cheryl Irwin. This will be his third trip to that theater, and one that will focus in part on his role as the Pentagon's chief civilian logistician, Irwin explained in an e-mail.

He will look at a number of things including the logistics aspect of moving equipment from Iraq to Afghanistan.