The Insider

By Marjorie Censer
October 28, 2008 at 5:00 AM

With the Defense Department poised to award Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contracts this week, let's take a moment to review the competitors. Some have revealed more than others about their proposals, but we'll walk through the teams.

AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems announced their partnership early, but their participation in the competition came as no surprise as AM General manufactures the current fleet of humvees. In a August 2007 interview with Inside the Army, AM General President and CEO James Armour, who has since stepped down, said he didn't see the team as the incumbent. “The JLTV is not a humvee,” he said last year. “It has to represent a quantum leap forward in the capability of the humvee.”

Textron Systems, Boeing and Science Applications International Corporation serve as an example of the wide span of companies pursuing the contract. The team's submission proposes a center driver, parallel hybrid drive and an innovative suspension, company representatives announced at a May 19 briefing. Placing the driver in the center of the vehicle “enhances not only the driver's situational awareness . . . but by having a crew member on either side of the driver, it increases the situational awareness of all the people in the vehicle,” said Robert Polutchko, director of Textron's advanced solutions centers, at the event.

The team of Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh have proposed a diesel-electric drive that company representatives say will provide more power while reducing weight and allowing for improved modularity. At a May 16 briefing, John Stoddart, president of Oshkosh's defense group, said the vehicle would be able to generate enough power to support a deployed tactical operations center or tactical communications node. The design also eliminates the need for a transmission and conventional drive-train, freeing up space in the crew compartment.

Lockheed Martin has partnered with the former Armor Holdings -- now part of BAE Systems -- on the JLTV program. At this month's Association of the U.S. Army convention, the team announced that its first two operational prototypes had exceeded 25,000 combined miles of testing. The partners also introduced the latest prototype, a general purpose mobility vehicle.

BAE Systems of York, PA, announced about a year ago that it would be working with Navistar on the JLTV program. Both builders provided significant numbers of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles as part of the effort designated as the Defense Department's number-one priority.

Force Protection has said it is working with DRS Technologies on the JLTV initiative. In a February press release, the team announced that DRS would serve as prime contractor while Force Protection would design and produce the JLTV base vehicle. Force Protection too was a builder in the MRAP program.

Raytheon and Blackwater USA have also said they are participating in the program.

John Young, the Pentagon's acquisition chief, told ITA yesterday that technology development awards for the JLTV effort are expected this week. DOD is anticipated to provide awards to three industry teams.

By John Liang
October 28, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The White House today is holding the second meeting of a committee established to manage the upcoming presidential transition, according to a White House fact sheet.

"The peaceful transfer of power from one presidential administration to the next is a hallmark of American democracy," the fact sheet reads. "With our nation at war, our homeland targeted by terrorist adversaries, and our economy facing serious challenges, the administration is committed to establishing and executing a transition plan that minimizes disruption, maintains continuity, and addresses the major changes in government since the 2000 transition, including the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as well as the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Homeland Security Council."

Among the specific steps being taken by individual agencies, the Defense Department's "Transition Task Force" is getting ready to host the president-elect's transition teams; the Department of Homeland Security "is holding conferences and exercises designed to boost incident management capabilities and cross-departmental awareness"; and the secretary of state earlier this month "held an offsite meeting with senior State Department and USAID leadership to discuss transition planning and foreign policy and management challenges facing the new administration. The State Department is also preparing a list of pending political/economic commitments arranged by country," according to the fact sheet.

Additional nuggets include:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has provided intelligence briefings to the candidates. These briefings are continuing and are being supported by the entire intelligence community . . .

The administration has also worked to facilitate a speedy security clearance process for key transition personnel. Historically, one of the biggest challenges faced by incoming administrations has been the time required to obtain these security clearances. The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act allows major-party candidates to request clearances for key transition personnel before the election so that those individuals will have the necessary clearances should their candidate win.

By Jason Sherman
October 27, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Washington Post today notes that both Barack Obama and John McCain support a key Bush administration national security goal: Increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps.

In addition, both the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, Robert Kaiser writes, “have revealed a willingness to commit U.S. forces overseas for both strategic and humanitarian purposes.”

Both agree on a course of action in Afghanistan that could lead to a long-term commitment of American soldiers without a clear statement of how long they might remain or what conditions would lead to their withdrawal.

Both candidates favor expanding the armed forces, Obama by 92,000 and McCain by as many as 150,000. Both speak of situations when the United States might have to commit its troops for "moral" reasons, whether or not a vital American interest was at risk. Both accept what Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel and professor at Boston University, calls the "unspoken consensus which commits the United States to permanent military primacy" -- shared, Bacevich said, by leading figures in both parties.

Could end-strength cuts for ground forces be off the table in next year's Quadrennial Defense Review?

By Dan Dupont
October 27, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Foreign Policy magazine's latest issue has something worth your time if you're tracking the transition to a new administration.

In the piece, available online, the magazine's editors "asked 10 of the world’s top thinkers to name the unlikely team that can best guide No. 44 through the turbulent years ahead."

Lots of names in there, but one comes up a lot: Robert Gates.

By Christopher J. Castelli
October 24, 2008 at 5:00 AM

If Barack Obama wins the White House, don't be surprised if he puts a strong emphasis on preventing bioterrorism. Richard Danzig, one of Obama's key advisers, is deeply interested in the subject.

This week's Inside the Pentagon includes a detailed report on Danzig's call for more public-private partnership to address this threat, as well as cyberwarfare.

On a related note, we're tracking the work of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism, which will provide recommendations for the new president next month.

You can read more about Danzig's views on bioweapons and terrorism in this transcript of a speech he gave in June at the Center for New American Security.

Also, here's a piece he wrote about nuclear, biological and chemical weapons way back in 1999 as Navy secretary.

By Sebastian Sprenger
October 24, 2008 at 5:00 AM

With the advent of cyberspace as a key warfighting domain for the U.S. military, lots of new legal questions arise. Exactly what laws apply, international and domestic, when service members gird for virtual battle with enemy nations, terrorist groups or individuals?

A draft version of the Air Force’s upcoming doctrine for cyberspace operations includes some clues about how the air service could ultimately opt to answer some of the questions.

For example, as airmen select cyberspace targets for engagement they should consider this:

Legal considerations and international legal obligations directly affect all phases of targeting. Those involved in targeting should have a thorough understanding of these obligations and be able to apply them during the target analysis. Operations in cyberspace are no different in this respect than any other domain. The operational law expert should apply the same standards to operations conducted in cyberspace as are applied in air and space. The laws of armed conflict apply equally to all. No special allowances should be made, nor additional approval sought. Considerations regarding proportionality of effects demand that the employment of capabilities in cyberspace adhere to the same professional, ethical, and legal standards and drive to precision that characterize kinetic attack operations.

On the defensive side, three different portions of the U.S. Code are relevant for service officials dealing with network intrusions and other “unwelcome activity,” the draft doctrine states.

For one, there is U.S. Code Title 18, which governs criminal law. The application of these laws could be “complicated by the need to gather forensic evidence and identify perpetrators, especially when cyberspace attacks cross national boundaries,” the document states.

Then there are the foreign intelligence surveillance authorities of U.S. Code Title 50 (“War and National Defense”), which could be applied “if it appears that unwelcome activity has been instigated by foreign entities,” the draft doctrine states.

Finally, there are the wartime statutes of Title 10. Under that authority, officials could order counterattacks, both in cyberspace and through “destructive kinetic responses,” the document reads.

The final version of the Air Force cyberspace doctrine is slated to be unveiled in the next few weeks, according to a service spokesman.

By Kate Brannen
October 23, 2008 at 5:00 AM

When the next administration begins to make difficult choices about its national defense priorities, force structure will be a key concern -- and a critical piece of that debate will involve the balance between soldiers, civilians and contractors, said Nelson Ford, under secretary of the Army, at a discussion at the Brookings Institution yesterday.

"Any serious or purposeful discussion of size must include the role of contractors, without them much of the Army's mission would be simply impossible," said Ford.

While he described contractors as indispensable to current military operations, he asked, "Are they more or less expensive than Army civilians or soldiers? What are the associated costs with having contractors on the battlefield?"

Ford said 60 National Guard security companies are on the ground in Iraq, mostly doing force protection for light trucks -- contractor trucks. "That's a cost of having a contractor on the ground."

The Army currently has 230,000 civilians, 130,000 permanent contractors and180,000 temporary contractors -- though Ford called the number for temporary contractors an educated guess, saying, "We really don't know how many contractors we have."

During his first week at the Pentagon, back in 2002, Ford was in a meeting where officials discussed the appropriate role of contractors on the battlefield. "I've got to say that that conversation has not gone forward very effectively. We still don't understand that."

While these issues won't be resolved on his watch, Ford said they will be central to the next administration's decisions about how large the Army should be and what it should be tasked to do.

By Dan Dupont
October 22, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Sen. Obama met today with his high-level national security advisory team, according to the campaign.

Here's the lineup:

Senator Obama was joined by Senator Biden at a meeting with their Senior Working Group on National Security this morning to discuss the challenges that we face abroad, and the new direction that we need in our national security policy. Also at the meeting were Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw (USMC, Ret.), Mr. Greg Craig, Sec. Richard Danzig, MG Paul Eaton (USA, Ret.), Rep. Lee Hamilton, Amb. Richard Holbrooke, MG Geoff Lambert (USA, Ret.), MG Al Lenhardt (USA, Ret.), ADM John Nathman (USN, Ret.), Sen. Sam Nunn, Sen. Jack Reed, Rep. Tim Roemer, Amb. Dennis Ross, Ms. Mara Rudman, Amb. Wendy Sherman, Brig. Gen. Jim Smith (USAF, Ret.), and Mr. Jim Steinberg.

By Kate Brannen
October 22, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Is the economic downturn negatively affecting everyone? On Oct. 11 Oct. 8, at the National Defense Industrial Association's Air Armament Symposium in Ft. Walton Beach, FL, Brig. Gen. Genaro Dellarocco, the Army's program executive officer for missiles and space, told an audience of industry representatives that the financial crisis is actually driving up global arms sales.

"We've got an opportunity here. Let me explain in a couple of different ways. . . . No matter who gets elected -- irrelevant -- we're going to have an unstable world out there. And that is producing a lot of angst. The economy isn't well.

“So, what's happening? People are arming themselves to protect themselves, to protect their investments, to protect their people, to protect their borders,” he added. “We're getting a lot of business."

Dellarocco then highlighted high-profile pending foreign military sales to the United Arab Emirates.

"We're all ready to sign a $7 billion Patriot case with the United Arab Emirates,” he said. “And every one of my shops, except for ((Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon)), has a FMS case with UAE."

He also mentioned the three Terminal High Altitude Air Defense fire units, estimated to cost $ 6.95 billion, that the Army intends to sell to the UAE, as well as another "three dozen" foreign military sales in the works.

And . . .

Of those sales, he said, this is "investment that everyone in this room has contributed to at the gas pump. Our treasure went over to their treasure and the way we get it back -- we sell our technology and our weapon systems."

By Jason Simpson
October 22, 2008 at 5:00 AM

At an industry conference today in Springfield, VA, a member of an industry panel charged with forecasting the space market over the next 10 years said the Transformational Satellite Communications System contract award will be pushed one year to the right.

Regarding "the TSAT program, which is the largest space communications programs during this period and is essential to the FCS, it was recently announced that the contract for this will likely slip 12 months," said Hughes Petteway, senior strategy analyst for the Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems Business Development Operations group. "While it is possible that the DOD has decided scale down the program . . . we have already projected that there will be additional program delays in this area."

Contrast that with a statement the Office of the Secretary of Defense released just two days ago in response to media reports on TSAT delays.

Stay tuned.

By Dan Dupont
October 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Inside the Navy this week runs a story on how the service sees the next administration's National Security Strategy as key to its future course:

“In very real terms, the ways and means must align with the objective the nation wants to achieve,” Adm. Patrick Walsh, the vice chief of naval operations, said at a Marine Corps Association and Marine Corps Combat Development Command dinner here on Oct. 15.

“The overarching national guidance is impactful to a service,” Walsh added, calling the implications of the strategy “substantial” for the Navy.

The next administration faces key Navy policy decisions, such as the fate of the next-generation DDG-1000 destroyer program, the make-up of the Maritime Preposition Force (Future) and how to reach the service’s goal of a 313-ship fleet in the 2020 time frame. How the Navy proceeds will be largely based on the next administration’s broad national security strategy, the four-star admiral said.

Walsh expressed hope that the document would be completed within 180 days. However, the Bush administration, when first elected in 2000, did not release its national security strategy until the fall of 2002, “because of concerns that it would be out of date as soon as it was printed,” he said.

By Sebastian Sprenger
October 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

While a status-of-forces agreement between Washington and Baghdad remains in abeyance, U.S. senior administration officials wrapped up a lesser-known, internal accord this summer that governs contractor activities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The No. 2 officials from the Defense and State departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development inked a memorandum of understanding in early July, vowing to use a single database for keeping track of government contractors working in the two countries.

Defense officials began work on the database, called Synchronized Pre-deployment and Operational Tracker and managed by the Defense Department, some years ago with the idea of gaining a better understanding of how many contractors the military has working in war zones, where these workers are located, and what they are up to.

Pentagon acquisition chief John Young, since taking office last year, has encouraged increased of the system.

With State and USAID now also using the database, the quality of data about the large amount of government contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan should improve, Government Accountability Office auditors wrote in a report earlier this month.

According to the MOU, the three agencies will work quickly to close what sounds like a loophole in the existing regulations mandating the registration of data on hired security guards.

“The parties agree, as soon as practicable, to expand the common database to include information on those entities performing private security functions under major grants, including contracts under grants and cooperative agreements under which assistance is provided in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the document reads.

By Jason Simpson
October 20, 2008 at 5:00 AM

You may have seen a report today suggesting the Defense Department has decided to terminate the current competition for the Air Force's next-generation communications satellite constellation.

According to an Office of the Secretary of Defense spokesman, it's not accurate.

“We have seen the news reports about TSAT ((the Transformational Satellite Communications System)); however, as of right now, no final decision has been made on program status,” OSD spokesman Chris Isleib said in an e-mail today. “The department is still reviewing the requirements associated with the TSAT program, but DOD remains committed to fielding a TSAT solution by ((fiscal year 2019)).”

The report, citing an industry source, stated the Pentagon's Deputy's Advisory Working Group decided to put off awarding the contract until the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010.

In September, Inside the Air Force reported that Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England was briefed on a study related to the investment strategy of TSAT in June. At that time, Air Force officials said a contract award was expected no earlier than Dec. 15.

England was briefed on the study at a DAWG meeting on June 10. England is the group's chairman.

The service originally anticipated an award date in May, but made the announcement contingent on the investment strategy study's findings. The Air Force has awarded the two companies vying for the multibillion-dollar contract award, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, three 180-day extensions to risk-reduction contracts since August 2007 in the midst of the production contract delays.

Both companies said in statements they were not notified of any recent action OSD or the Air Force were taking in regards to changing the competition structure of the program.

More to come, and we're checking into all of it.

By Sebastian Sprenger
October 20, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Joint Special Operations University officials, on behalf of U.S. Special Operations Command, recently released a catalog of research ideas they would like military schoolhouses to tackle in 2009.

Under the heading “getting beyond al Qaeda,” JSOU officials want a deeper look into the inner workings of terrorist organizations -- what drives them and how they differ from the group led by Osama bin Laden.

The idea, according to the document, is to explore “possible future terrorist activities.”

In another effort, officials want a thorough treatment of the relationship between military special operators and CIA operatives when it comes to clandestine and covert counterterrorism operations worldwide.

“Is this the purview of SOF or CIA or both, depending on the situation?” asks the document, adding: “Should a more robust partnership between SOF and CIA be built to conduct this type of activity?”

Whoever looks into these questions should consider past covert operations, assassinations, and sabotage missions to determine what worked, and what didn’t.

Those expecting a gripping James Bond-style read out of this had better get the requisite clearance. “This study will certainly be classified,” the document states.

By Dan Dupont
October 17, 2008 at 5:00 AM

A quick note today on a new Inside the Air Force story about the future of space -- that is, the U.S. military's dominance of space.

Retired Maj. Gen. James Armor -- former director of the National Security Space Office -- talked about what the next president should do during an Oct. 16 panel discussion -- dubbed “A Day Without Space” -- in Washington. A career space officer, the retired two-star also held the position of program manager of the NAVSTAR Global Positioning Systems Joint Program Office at the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force base between 1996 and 1999.

. . . Armor said a loss of the country’s space assets means “that we, the United States, have gotten to a point where we’re looking at a decade without U.S. preeminence in space, and that would be, I think, a terrible tragedy. I think space preeminence is essential to being a great power. Primarily, it is ensuring the physical security of the homeland. Without space, I’m not sure we could do it. It is absolutely essential to the security of the homeland. Furthermore, it also provides for the general welfare in the sense of peaceful use of space for all free nations, not just the United States. I’m not convinced that, if the United States doesn’t sustain its preeminence in space, that we can guarantee that peaceful use of space.”

Making space a national priority and assigning “commensurate resources” is an “urgent, compelling priority,” Armor said, adding that space is still a “secondary thought” in the Air Force and needs to be a “principal priority.” . . .

After the next president makes securing the space domain a national priority, he needs to assign “accountable leadership” to ensure the United States keeps its superiority in the area beyond the atmosphere, Armor asserted.

“I know the Air Force and the ((Defense)) Department has put maybe tens of hundreds of millions of additional dollars into space situational awareness; I think it should be hundreds of billions of dollars, because, without rapid attribution . . . we put ourselves at a disadvantage, we put ourselves in a position to be surprised, which could lead to bad behavior or a military escalation where you don’t really want it,” the retired two-star added.