The Insider

By John Liang
July 1, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Just posted: An amendment to the House Appropriations Committee's $35.5 billion fiscal year 2010 supplemental spending bill, $37.12 billion of which would support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The amendment itself includes money allocated for "education jobs and border security," according to a committee summary of the legislative language. To fund those programs, House appropriators want to take money out of the following Defense Department-related activities:

• $2 billion in funding appropriated as early as 2006 to the Defense Department.
• $500 million in funds appropriated to the Department of Defense for military construction projects that achieved bid savings.
• $262 million in Recovery Act funding provided to the Department of Defense.
• $177 million in funding appropriated to the Defense Department for HMMWVs they no longer plan to purchase.
• $116 million appropriated for the Non-Line of Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) which the Army has terminated.
• $100 million appropriated to the Army for Operations and Maintenance, because of slow execution of some programs within the account
• $87 million appropriated for SINCGARS radios and other Army procurement programs that have not been spent as quickly as planned.

The bill could be taken up by the full House sometime today.

By John Liang
July 1, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Government Accountability Office wants the Pentagon's Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization to improve its review and approval processes for developing counter-IED initiatives, according to a report released today. Specifically:

JIEDDO has developed various output performance measures, it has not yet developed a means for reliably measuring the overall effectiveness of its efforts and investments to combat IEDs. Federal internal control standards require that organizations, such as JIEDDO, establish performance measures that compare the results of a program with its intended purpose. GAO recognizes that developing outcome measures that address JIEDDO’s overall effect is difficult, but JIEDDO has not developed or followed through with a consistent process or plan to gather appropriate data and evaluate the fundamental effectiveness of the individual initiatives it has fielded. Some other limiting factors, according to JIEDDO officials, are that warfighters operating in theater face competing priorities that interfere with collecting data, and available data may not be consistently recorded and maintained. However, in the absence of a consistent process or plan for evaluating and collecting data from individual initiatives, JIEDDO will not be well-positioned to determine robust performance metrics and procedures to assess whether it is achieving DOD’s counter-IED mission.

JIEDDO has a review and approval process for developing counter-IED initiatives; however, it has not fully adhered to this process. Of the 56 initiatives GAO reviewed, JIEDDO excluded 26 from this process, and for the 30 that did go through the process, 22 did not show that they followed all of the required steps of the process. According to DOD’s directive, all of JIEDDO’s counter-IED initiatives are to go through this process, but JIEDDO’s instruction designates non-counter-IED initiatives as overhead, and specifies that overhead will not go through this process. However, neither DOD’s directive nor JIEDDO’s instruction specifically define what constitutes a counter-IED initiative and what should be considered overhead. As a result, GAO found some initiatives designated as overhead which at the time were similar to others then designated as meeting an immediate counter-IED need or later given that designation. With respect to the 22 initiatives that did not follow all required process steps, some of their required documentation needed to confirm approval decisions was incomplete or missing. Without following the requirements of the process, DOD lacks the transparency and accountability of funds spent by JIEDDO.

GAO identified several significant internal control system weaknesses that have been present at JIEDDO since GAO’s first review in 2007. Beyond those identified in this report, those weaknesses extend to other areas such as financial and human capital management. Although JIEDDO has taken some steps in the past to address these weaknesses, those efforts have not been successful. According to federal standards, internal control is a major part of managing an organization. Some underlying reasons for JIEDDO’s lack of progress in addressing these weaknesses include a lack of sustained management attention in following through with corrective actions; challenges with retention and expertise of personnel; and a lack of sufficient acquisition expertise with breadth and depth to understand the programs.

Consequently, JIEDDO should do the following, according to GAO:

GAO recommends JIEDDO take actions to improve (1) its processes for assessing effectiveness of counter-IED initiatives, (2) adherence to its initiative review and approval process, and (3) its overall internal control system. GAO also recommends DOD monitor JIEDDO’s progress in improving its internal controls. DOD concurred with these recommendations.

By John Liang
July 1, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The White House is reminding Congress not to mess with the commander in chief's ability to conduct operations in Afghanistan. According to a just-released statement of administration policy on the fiscal year 2010 supplemental appropriations bill:

As in any military operation, the ability of U.S. forces to operate effectively in Afghanistan depends on affording the Commander in Chief the utmost flexibility and discretion. If the final bill presented to the President contains provisions that would undermine his ability as Commander in Chief to conduct military operations in Afghanistan, the President’s senior advisors would recommend a veto.

By Zachary M. Peterson
June 30, 2010 at 5:00 AM

President Obama has nominated Marine Maj. Gen. Robert Schmidle, currently the assistant deputy commandant for programs and resources, for a third star and a new assignment as the deputy commander of U.S. Cyber Command. Maj. Gen. John Wissler, the deputy commander of the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, NC, has also been nominated for the rank of lieutenant general and a new post as the deputy commandant for programs and resources. The announcements were made in a statement issued this afternoon by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

By Jason Sherman
June 30, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Just posted: a copy of the Marine Corps Operating Concept. The 155-page volume, dated June 2010, is the Corps' third edition. Lt. Gen. George Flynn, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, has this to say in a foreword:

In these pages, you won’t find an answer to every problem posed by the future. Instead, you should consider it as both a window into many different futures and a mirror to allow you to reflect upon your own ability to operate within them. Many of the words and phrases herein -- power projection, seabasing, crisis response, enhanced MAGTF operations, engagement and countering irregular threats -- should be very familiar to all Marines. Don’t let this familiarity lure you into thinking there is nothing new within these pages. Old ideas can take on an entirely new life when placed with a new context - and if there is one constant reflected in our view of the future, it is that there is no longer a single context but many.

Inside the Navy had an early look at the volume and moved a story -- "Marine Operating Concepts: Service Must Get Lighter, Return To The Sea" -- early this week. Here is the top:

The Marine Corps post-Afghanistan must get lighter and return to operations staged from ships, which could include large Navy surface combatants and Coast Guard cutters, according to new operating concepts slated for release this week.

The document titled “The Marine Corps Operating Concepts: Assuring Littoral Access . . . Winning Small Wars” was obtained by Inside the Navy ahead of its official release set for June 29.

The 155-page document, which includes an annex on strategic communications, is divided into seven chapters covering an overview of the Marine Corps’ roots and uniqueness from the other military services, mission command, enhanced Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) operations, engagement, crisis response, power projection and countering irregular threats.

Lightening the load that individual Marines carry and the overall weight of service equipment is paramount to the concepts described in the document.

By Thomas Duffy
June 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Gen. David Petraeus, nominated by President Obama to take over as commander of all coalition forces in Afghanistan following last week's resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is testifying this morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In answers submitted to the committee before the nomination hearing, Petraeus provides a brief assessment of the enemy he will be facing if he takes over the Afghanistan command:

It is difficult to arrive at quantitative estimates of Taliban manpower. Even though the increase in ISAF ((International Security Assistance Force)) strength in 2010 caused some concern for insurgent leaders, they continue to show an ability to adapt and respond to ISAF changes, and the size and intensity of the insurgency has increased in proportion to ISAF’s expansion. The Taliban’s increasing ability to project its influence in Regional Command-South, Regional Command-Southwest and Regional Command-East and to create instability in Regional Command-West and Regional Command-North indicate the Taliban suffer no shortage of manpower. They likely believe they will be able to maintain their current strength and possibly grow.

Petraeus told the committee that if he is confirmed, he will do his own assessment of the Afghan security forces to judge whether their size needs to be increased. That review will be done within 90 to 120 days, he said.

An assessment of the Afghan forces is being done by the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, Petraeus said. "While the exact numbers needed are still being determined, I am not willing to say that the currently approved strength of 305,600 will prove sufficient," he added.

By John Liang
June 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved via voice vote the nomination of Army Gen. David Petraeus to become the head of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, according to a committee statement.

Once confirmed by the full Senate, Petraeus would replace Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who resigned his post last week following the publication of a profile piece in Rolling Stone magazine.

By Jason Sherman
June 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The White House yesterday unveiled a new National Space Policy, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon -- in response -- is gearing up for a new strategy formulation assignment, this one focused on U.S. military needs far beyond the atmosphere.

Together with other departments and agencies, the Department of Defense will take a number of steps to support the new National Space Policy, and will work with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to develop a strategy document to address specific national security requirements for outer space. We will look to leverage growing international and commercial expertise to enhance U.S. capabilities and reduce vulnerabilities.

During the last two decades the U.S. military has become reliant on satellites orbiting the planet for precision in executing essential tasks including navigation, striking targets and collecting intelligence.

Once dominated by the United States, outer space is now a domain other actors seek to influence, Gates said.

Today, space is increasingly contested as our systems face threats of disruption and attack, increasingly competitive as more states, private firms, and others develop space-based capabilities, and increasingly congested with orbital debris.

In articulating U.S. military outer space requirements, the secretary stressed the Defense Department will “pursue activities consistent with the inherent right of self-defense, deepen cooperation with allies and friends, and work with all nations toward the responsible and peaceful shared presence in space.”

By John Liang
June 29, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing this afternoon titled "Beyond the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap: Bearing the Burden for Today's Educational Shortcomings."

Nancy Weaver, director of the Defense Language Office, and Army Brig. Gen. Walter Golden, director of manpower and personnel on the Joint Staff (J-1), will testify.

The Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act contains a provision that "would authorize the Secretary of Defense to carry out a program to establish language training centers at accredited universities, senior military colleges, or other similar institutions of higher education for the purposes of accelerating the development of foundational expertise in critical and strategic languages and regional area studies for members of the armed forces, including reserve component members and Reserve Officers' Training Corps candidates, and civilian employees of the Department of Defense," according to the report accompanying the conference bill.

Inside the Pentagon reported in September 2009 that the Pentagon resisted the inclusion of such a provision, arguing the effort would siphon money from higher-priority defense language programs. Specifically:

DOD is urging conferees to drop the House provision. In a Sept. 4 appeal to Congress, the department opposes the House provision because it would require "the expenditure of already limited resources," including funding and personnel for oversight and management, "to the detriment of higher priority defense language programs."

The provision does not allocate any funding to establish the pilot program and language training center, the appeal complains. This lack of additional resourcing would "negatively impact" existing defense language program resources, DOD argues. It would be similar to the pilot program for foreign language proficiency training for reserve members mandated by the FY-09 National Defense Authorization Act that DOD funded through other programs, adds the Pentagon.

"Additionally, program management and oversight are also major considerations, because experiences in our Language Flagship and Grant programs demonstrate that the department would have to outsource and/or create new positions to provide the required management and oversight of this new pilot program," argues the appeal.

By Jason Sherman
June 28, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Ashton Carter, the Pentagon's acquisition executive, this afternoon will unveil “new initiatives on procurement, contracting and the acquisition workforce,” in a 2:30 p.m. briefing to Defense Department reporters, according to his spokeswoman.

The roll-out will follow a much-publicized closed-door meeting with defense industry executives taking place this morning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Carter's exact agenda is closely held, but he is expected to propose efforts that aim to support Defense Secretary Robert Gates' goal of wringing $102 billion from overhead costs over the next five years.

By John Liang
June 28, 2010 at 5:00 AM

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) gave a speech this morning on congressional Democrats' national security efforts. Some excerpts:

First, Democrats have aggressively stepped up the fight against terrorists. We’ve strengthened America’s military by funding its re-equipment after years of war, and we have put new and better weapons into the battlefield, including the body armor and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles our troops need, as well as more aerial drones. Under President Obama, the United States has killed or captured hundreds of terrorist leaders, including much of the top leadership of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, disrupting their ability to plot attacks on our Country. . . .

Second, though force is, at times, clearly necessary, we learned from the Cold War that force alone does not win ideological struggles. Then, it was the promise of a better life that led so many to abandon communism and its false promise of progress. Today, chronic lack of opportunity drives the appeal of the jihadism of Islamic extremists and its hatred of a modern world that seems to have left too many behind. Chronic oppression of women and girls condemns nations to poverty and abandons young men to extremist ideologies. And the failure of institutions in distant states, as we see from Somalia to Afghanistan, is a direct threat to our own people. So a strong development policy must be a pillar of our national security. . . .

Third, the Cold War taught us that democracy, human rights, and economic freedom are the most powerful weapons in an ideological struggle. Today's autocrats understand that, as well, as they carefully channel their own people’s frustration into rage against America. The eight years of the Bush Administration showed what we knew already: that democracy cannot be imposed by force; that elections alone do not equal democracy; that democratization and economic growth do not always go hand-in-hand; and that failing to lead by example weakens democracy around the world. But the trials of those years taught us that there are wiser ways to build democracy and respect for human rights in the world—not that that objective is out of keeping with our character as a nation. Indeed, it is an integral part of that character. . . .

Fourth and finally, every one of these policies comes with a cost; every choice rules out other choices. The deeper our Nation sinks into debt, the more our choices will be constrained—and the more our leadership will be challenged by nations, especially China, that hold our debt. As a matter of fact, on the path we’re on, the day will come, I fear, when our strength will be sapped by our debt. So it’s time to stop talking about fiscal discipline and national security threats as if they’re separate topics: debt is a national security threat. Unsustainable debt has a long history of toppling world powers. As financial historian Niall Ferguson writes, 'This is how empires decline: it begins with a debt explosion.'

By Zachary M. Peterson
June 28, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon announced earlier today that Rear Adm. Bill Landay, the program executive officer for ships at Naval Sea Systems Command, has been selected by President Obama for a third star and a new assignment as the director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. At DSCA, Landay will oversee the sales of U.S. military equipment to foreign countries.

Rear Adm. David Lewis, currently the deputy commander of NAVSEA, will take over for Landay pending Senate confirmation. Lewis' appointment to PEO ships was announced earlier this year. Lewis will inherit a portfolio that includes the Littoral Combat Ship program. The sea service plans to announce a winner of the ongoing LCS design competition by the end of this summer.

By Christopher J. Castelli
June 28, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter reiterated today the shipbuilding sector has excess capacity that ought to be eliminated. Industry should look to close "excess facilities," he told reporters -- without naming specific shipyards.

"Capitalization in general is very much an example where there is excess -- there are excess facilities and a larger plant for floor space or number of facilities is being used to conduct a given activity then is necessary to do it," he said. "And there are examples like that. Shipbuilding is one -- that's clearly an example where savings can be had and productivity can be increased."

As Inside the Pentagon reported June 17, Carter complained of “gross over capitalization” in the shipbuilding industry in remarks at National Defense University.

A recent report from the Pentagon’s industrial policy shop warns the six major U.S. shipyards may not all have enough work in the future to continue operating. “Fewer healthy shipyards capable of attracting talent and capital investment will be able to provide a price and quality than more shipyards that are operating with excess capacity,” states the department's annual report on industrial capabilities.

By John Liang
June 25, 2010 at 5:00 AM

U.S. Strategic Command operationally accepted command and control of its third Wideband Global SATCOM satellite, the WGS-3, the Air Force announced today.

"This significant achievement reflects the successful collaboration between numerous organizations, including Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, and the Boeing Company," an Air Force statement reads, adding:

WGS provides flexible, high-capacity communications for Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen throughout the world. WGS is a key enabler of Command and Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, as well as battle management and combat support information functions. WGS-3 is the third of six planned satellites in the wideband constellation. WGS-3 launched from Cape Canaveral on the evening of December 5, 2009. The Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing at SMC accepted delivery of WGS-3 from Boeing on March 1, 2010 following extensive ground and in-orbit testing. WGS-3 was then relocated to its final operational location. WGS-3’s payload configuration is now optimized to support operations. Upon the recommendations of AFSPC and SMDC/ARSTRAT, USSTRATCOM accepted Combatant Command authority for WGS-3 and assumed responsibility of the system. WGS-3 is operated by the 3rd Space Operations Squadron at the 50th Space Wing, Schriever Air Force Base, CO, under the operational command of Joint Forces Component Commander for Space at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. The JFCC SPACE Joint Space Operations Center continuously monitors WGS-3's orbital safety and operational status, assisting USSTRATCOM with any performance issues “I am extremely proud to add WGS-3 to our 50th SW constellation as another great asset to deliver space effects to the warfighter,” said Colonel Wayne R. Monteith, 50th SW commander.

WGS-3 provides a bridge between (the Continental United States) and our forces in Europe, Africa, South America and parts of the Middle East as well as forces afloat in the Atlantic Ocean. “I am proud of the tremendous dedication and commitment of the Military Satellite Communications Wideband Group, as we field this critical communication capability” said Colonel Donald W. Robbins, commander of MCWG. “The success of WGS-3 is a testament to the professionalism and expertise of the entire Wideband SATCOM team."

WGS-3 is the last satellite to be procured via the Block I contract and is a significant milestone for the program.

In related news, Inside the Air Force reported this morning that Defense Department officials are confident that the cancellation of the Transformational Satellite Communications System will only have a minimal impact on the space industrial base, according to a recently released Pentagon report. Specifically:

DOD officials canceled the program in April 2009 and directed the Air Force to explore enhancements to existing satellite communication systems, according to an Air Force Space Command spokeswoman. The fiscal year 2009 TSAT research, development, test and evaluation budget accounts for only 1 percent of the entire 2008 U.S. government space budget, according to the May 2010 industrial capabilities report from the office of the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

The future procurement of Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) and Wideband Global SATCOM satellites will help to mitigate the loss of the TSAT program, according to the report.

“While there has been no decision to proceed with upgrades to either program, studies and technology risk reduction efforts have been funded and will maintain the critical military satellite communications industry base until a future SATCOM architecture is defined,” the spokeswoman wrote in a June 17 e-mail, referring to AEHF and WGS.

There is a robust satellite forecast and the civilian industrial base will be healthy in the near future, according to the report. The world satellite industry has seen double-digit growth in revenue from 2005 to 2008 and the private sector dominates the satellite communications market, the report states.

By Christopher J. Castelli
June 25, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter is slated to meet with defense industry executives Monday to discuss the department's efforts to cut costs.

An industry source said the session is being put together with help from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, led by former Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre. Carter is also expected to brief reporters at the Pentagon sometime Monday, but Defense Department spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin declined to comment on the details. reported this week that Senior Pentagon officials responsible for the U.S. military budget and five-year investment plan have issued guidance to the services and defense agencies on how to carry out Defense Secretary Robert Gates' June directive to squeeze $102 billion from business operations between fiscal years 2012 and 2015.