The Insider

By John Liang
September 9, 2021 at 2:01 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on unmanned systems, DARPA's efforts to reduce U.S. dependency on China for rare earth metals, the Army budget and more.

We start off with news on unmanned systems:

Navy launches Mideast-based task force to focus on unmanned and AI

The Navy's 5th Fleet launched a task force today designed to integrate unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.

Scaled Composites unveils unmanned Model 437 aircraft concept

PALMDALE, CA -- Northrop Grumman subsidiary Scaled Composites has unveiled a new concept for the Model 437, an unmanned aircraft that officials hope could have a future as part of a broader family of systems or serve as a candidate for the Air Force's Skyborg program.

Gilday 'not yet satisfied' with Navy's pace of work on unmanned systems

The Navy will be setting up an unmanned task force over the next few months to accelerate its development of unmanned systems.

Northrop demonstrates JADC2-enabling long-range datalink

PALMDALE, CA -- Northrop Grumman announced today it has demonstrated a data link to enable long-range command and control, a feature company officials say could boost the Defense Department's efforts to connect sensors from across the services into a single network.

The latest on DARPA's efforts to reduce U.S. dependency on China for rare earth metals:

DARPA launches new rare earth project to reduce reliance on China

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has launched a new biomining-related project aimed at extracting rare earth elements and reducing U.S. dependence on China, the global leader in rare earth metals.

The Army's top civilian spoke this week about her service's budget outlook:

Wormuth: More hard choices to come in FY-23 budget

The Army expects another year of low or no growth in its topline for the fiscal year 2023 budget request, and cuts could come to some of the service's modernization priorities and key enablers, according to Army Secretary Christine Wormuth.

Some Space Force news:

Space Force, Lockheed confident in Next-Gen OPIR risk-mitigation strategy

Despite continued concerns from Congress and government watchdog agencies about schedule risk on the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared system -- the Space Force's largest development program -- service and industry officials are confident in their risk-mitigation strategy and say recent design milestones indicate the program is on track to deliver on time.

Space Force COMSATCOM office still crafting new acquisition strategy

The Space Force's Commercial Satellite Communications Office is "socializing" a new acquisition framework for buying and delivering COMSATCOM services to military users but does not have a solid timeline for when the long-anticipated strategy will be approved.

A new reprogramming memo shifts over $1 billion among various accounts to pay to re-settle Afghan refugees:

Pentagon transfers $1B to re-settle Afghan refugees

The Defense Department is shifting more than $1 billion to help resettle Afghan refugees who were evacuated following the U.S. military withdrawal and the collapse of the government in Kabul.

Last but by no means least, some cyber defense news from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity:

DCMA provides details on CMMC scoping, lessons learned

The Defense Contract Management Agency's process to conduct assessments for the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program is adapting to meet the needs of stakeholders, according to Defense Department official John Ellis who provided an overview to Inside Cybersecurity on lessons learned in recent months.

By John Liang
September 9, 2021 at 11:39 AM

Booz Allen Hamilton announced this week that former National Reconnaissance Office Principal Deputy Director Frank Calvelli will join the company as a senior vice president within its national security business.

"In this position, he will lead Booz Allen's work across intelligence and space to drive transformation and integration for critical missions supporting the national security sector," according to a company statement.

While at NRO, Calvelli helped manage the day-to-day operations of the agency and oversaw programs including satellite and ground development, mission operations, and facilities.

Calvelli’s 34-year government career also includes systems engineering, satellite and ground acquisition, and mission operations at NRO as well as work at the CIA, according to Booz Allen.

By Tony Bertuca
September 9, 2021 at 10:44 AM

The Senate Armed Services Committee has released a schedule for hearings on Afghanistan.

The committee will receive a briefing in closed session on Sept. 15 from Gen. Austin Miller, the former commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan. On Sept. 28, the committee will hear from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, chief of U.S. Central Command.

On Sept. 30, the committee will hold a hearing to review U.S. military operations in Afghanistan with witnesses yet to be determined.

Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) said he remains concerned about Afghanistan, despite the U.S. military withdrawal.

“Although we have completed the withdrawal of American military personnel and over 100,000 civilians from Afghanistan, I remain deeply concerned about the events that accompanied our withdrawal and the ongoing humanitarian crisis,” he said. “It is the duty of Congress -- and the Senate Armed Services Committee in particular -- to hold hearings to learn lessons from the situation in Afghanistan and ensure accountability at the highest levels. The committee will hold a series of hearings to examine the factors and decisions that manifested over four presidential administrations of both political parties to shape the outcome we now face in Afghanistan.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the committee’s ranking member who has criticized President Biden’s decision to follow through on former President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, said he believes the hearings are necessary to provide “transparency and accountability.”

“I’m grateful to Chairman Reed for prioritizing these critical oversight hearings on Afghanistan -- the first of what I will expect to be many hearings and briefings to review and determine what happened, who should be held accountable, and how we move forward,” he said.

The Biden administration has taken bipartisan criticism for the chaos and violence that erupted during the U.S. military’s evacuation of Kabul, and the rapid collapse of the Afghan military has precipitated questions about the value previous administrations placed on the $141 billion effort to support the now-defunct government in Kabul.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, has been granted authority by Congress to reprogram more than $1 billion thus far to help re-settle Afghan refugees.

By John Liang
September 8, 2021 at 2:28 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on upcoming reviews that will influence future defense budgets and more.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian spoke this morning about next year's defense budget:

Hicks says upcoming budget will highlight rapid experimentation push

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said Pentagon officials expect to complete several key reviews this fall poised to impact next year's defense budget, especially in terms of where modernization dollars are spent.

Full-rate production for the Minuteman III Mk21 reentry vehicle fuze has been pushed back and is currently "on track" for the second quarter of FY-24:

ICBM fuze program now expected to enter full-rate production in FY-24

While the Air Force's timeline for entering low-rate initial production tied to a new arming and fuzing assembly for intercontinental ballistic missiles is still slated to begin in fiscal year 2022, a service spokeswoman said full-rate production is now not expected to start until FY-24.

The Navy is in the midst of a 20-year, $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program to improve the infrastructure in its four public shipyards:

Lawmakers see opportunities for shipyard funding outside of infrastructure bill

Despite unsuccessful efforts to include $25 billion in shipyard infrastructure funding in the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill, lawmakers who are pushing for shipyard improvements still see an opportunity to fund that effort this year.

Fights will begin with intelligence, including targeting information, with fires providing the decisive element, according to an Army general:

Rainey: Fires to be decisive in future battles

Fires will be the decisive element of future large-scale warfare, the Army's deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and training (G-3/5/7) said Sept. 1 during the service's Fires Conference at Ft. Sill, OK.

The White House needs billions to pay for resettling Afghan refugees:

White House wants $6.4B continuing resolution for Afghan refugees, other 'anomalies'

The White House is asking Congress to pass a short-term continuing resolution by Oct. 1 that includes $6.4 billion to pay for the processing and resettlement of tens of thousands of people evacuated from Afghanistan, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The multibillion-dollar plus-up agreed to by House authorizers includes millions for missile defense:

House panel adds $780M for missile defense, including new Guam project, THAAD and Aegis

The $24 billion topline increase proposed as part of the House Armed Services Committee's mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill boosts missile defense spending by $780 million, adding significant funds for a new Guam defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system interceptors and the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
September 8, 2021 at 1:43 PM

A Sikorsky-Boeing team submitted its proposal Sept. 7 for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft, the Army's planned replacement for the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, according to a joint press release from the companies.

The Army released the request for proposals for FLRAA in July to the Sikorsky-Boeing team and Textron's Bell. Both teams participated in two competitive demonstration and risk-reduction phases for the program, and the Army is expected to choose one of them in fiscal year 2022 to produce FLRAA.

DEFIANT X, the Sikorsky-Boeing team's proposed aircraft, would have increased range, speed and survivability compared to the Black Hawk, as well as lower lifecycle costs, according to the press release. The aircraft would fit within the same footprint as the Black Hawk.

“We are confident that DEFIANT X, supported by our longstanding Army industrial base suppliers, is the best choice for delivering overmatch on the Multi-Domain Operational battlefield in [U.S. Indo-Pacific Command] and across the globe,” Paul Lemno, Sikorsky president, and Mark Cherry, vice president of vertical lift at Boeing, said in the press release.

Together, the partners have built 90% of the service’s current helicopter fleet, according to the press release. Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, builds the Black Hawk, while Boeing manufactures the Army’s two other most common helicopters, the CH-47 Chinook and the AH-64 Apache.

Bell plans to submit its V-280 Valor design for the FLRAA competition. The aircraft completed a three-year flight-test program in June. Bell and Sikorsky are also competing for the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft, the program to replace the Apache helicopter.

By Aidan Quigley
September 8, 2021 at 9:25 AM

The Marine Corps has suspended waterborne operations of its Amphibious Combat Vehicle after discovering an issue with the vehicle's towing mechanism.

Maj. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps spokesman, told Inside Defense in a statement Tuesday that the ACV's waterborne operations were suspended out of an abundance of caution.

"The Marine Corps is working on identifying and fixing the root cause of the problem," Stenger said. "Realistic training is a vital component of readiness, and the Marine Corps is committed to ensuring Marines train under the safest conditions possible; this includes ensuring the functionality of vehicles and equipment."

Marine Corps Times first reported the suspension.

The Amphibious Combat Vehicle is replacing the Assault Amphibious Vehicle. It reached initial operational capability late last year.

The service has fielded 54 ACVs, and this is the first time ACV use has been paused.

The suspension comes after Marines reported they could not cause the quick release of the ACV's Sea Tow Quick Release mechanism, or the tow rope detached unexpectedly. An after-action report from the field describing the issue led to the suspension, according to the service.

By John Liang
September 7, 2021 at 4:37 PM

Boeing said today it has named Matt Welch as vice president of investor relations.

Welch will succeed Maurita Sutedja, who is leaving the company to work on "an opportunity outside of Boeing following more than a decade of leadership within several finance roles at Boeing," according to a statement.

Welch, currently vice president of revenue management at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, has worked at the company for more than 20 years.

By Aidan Quigley
September 7, 2021 at 3:55 PM

The Navy established a command Sept. 2 to oversee construction at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as the service starts work to improve the shipyard's infrastructure.

The Navy recently issued a $1.7 billion contract to 381 Constructors to build a multimission dry dock at the Maine shipyard, and another $63 million contract for construction on the shipyard's Dry Dock 2 complex.

The work at Portsmouth is part of the Navy's 20-year, $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program.

The commander of Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Atlantic commissioned Capt. Frank Carroll as the officer in charge of construction earlier this month.

"Establishing an OICC provides robust on-site construction oversight and command-level accountability for resident engineering services, as well as coordination among crucial stakeholders," the service said in a press release. "OICC PNSY will now move swiftly into executing numerous large contracts, applying innovative and efficient processes to improve critical existing drydock complexes as a part of [the] Navy's Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program (SIOP)."

By John Liang
September 7, 2021 at 1:18 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the Army's Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, funding for a Hawaii-based ballistic missile defense radar and more.

The Army's Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System could be fielded as soon as fiscal year 2023:

Army hopes to field FTUAS in FY-23

The Army plans to field the first increment of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, the replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow drone, by the second quarter of fiscal year 2023, according to an Army request for white papers released Sept. 2.

Here's a look at which parts of the extra $25 billion added by House authorizers in the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill would help the Navy:

House topline amendment boosts Navy programs

Multiple Navy programs would receive increased funding after the House Armed Services Committee vote on Wednesday to authorize an additional $25 billion in defense spending above the president's request for fiscal year 2022.

Some missile defense radar news:

Congressional support for continuing Hawaii radar project in FY-22 grows

Support is mounting in Congress to again reinstate funding for a Hawaii-based ballistic missile defense radar, with the House Armed Services Committee authorizing $75 million for the project and setting September 2028 as the target for initial operations -- keeping the effort alive in defiance of Pentagon proposals for the last two years to shelve it.

The Government Accountability Office recently released its decision on Northrop Grumman's protest of a Next Generation Jammer-Low Band Capability Block 1 contract award to L3Harris Technologies:

GAO sustains Northrop Grumman protest on NGJ-LB program

The Government Accountability Office has upheld a protest Northrop Grumman filed against a contract awarded to L3Harris Technologies for the Next Generation Jammer-Low Band Capability Block 1.

Document: GAO decision on Northrop Grumman protest of NGJ-LB program

House authorizers are looking to streamline the acquisition of software and emerging technologies:

House panel adopts software acquisition, emerging technology amendments

The House Armed Services Committee during its mark-up of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill adopted several amendments aimed at streamlining acquisition of software and emerging technologies.

By Tony Bertuca
September 7, 2021 at 12:49 PM

Congress has granted the Defense Department authority to reprogram funds to renovate outdated electronics in the White House situation room, according to a Pentagon document.

The Pentagon requested authority in June to reprogram $3.2 million to renovate the White House situation room, aiming to "update the security and technology that have not been updated since 2006, to include audio visual improvements and production capabilities," according to a budgetary reprogramming document.

The request was part of an overall reprogramming package seeking authority to move around $30 million in Military Intelligence Program funds.

Other transfers approved by Congress include: $1.1 million for a Digital Imagery Exploitation Engine to the Navy and $3.7 million to implement and sustain a Battlefield Information Collection and Exploitation Systems Extended for the Air Force.

The funds, meanwhile, are being made available because of pandemic-related contract delays and travel restrictions, and the end of the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, according to the document.

By Tony Bertuca
September 6, 2021 at 5:00 AM

Washington think tanks are hosting several discussions about the future of counterterrorism this week.

Wednesday

Senior defense officials speak at the Defense News Conference.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on supply resilience and U.S. cooperation with South Korea.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on challenges to future NATO enlargement.

The Atlantic Council hosts a discussion on the future of counterterrorism.

Thursday

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville speaks at the DefenseOne Conference.

The Heritage Found host a discussion with retied Adm. Mike Rogers, the former chief of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.

The Aspen Security Forum hosts a discussion with former government officials about the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Friday

The Brookings Institute hosts a discussion on the legacy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The American Enterprise Institute hosts a discussion on the future of counterterrorism.

By Tony Bertuca
September 3, 2021 at 3:22 PM

The Defense Department, in keeping with a provision in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, has officially disestablished the post of chief management officer.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, according to a Pentagon statement, has directed the CMO's responsibilities be transferred to different offices throughout DOD.

All CMO authorities with now revert back to the deputy defense secretary's office, while functions and responsibilities of the former CMO will transfer various Office of the Secretary of Defense principal staff assistants.

"The Director of Administration and Management (DA&M) will be designated as the Performance Improvement Officer and serve as the senior official for Defense Reform under the Deputy Secretary," DOD said. "The oversight of the Defense Business Systems will be shared by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Chief Information Officer of the DOD. The Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (ATSD) for Intelligence Oversight (IO) will be combined with the Privacy Civil Liberty and Transparency (PCLT) functions under a new official called the ATSD (PCLT)."

The Pentagon will review the new arrangement after a year to assess "any potential need for adjustments," according to DOD.

Congress fist established the CMO job in 2017 intending it become the third-most senior job in the Pentagon. But lawmakers, backed by recommendations from the Defense Business Board, soon came to view the position as a hindrance to the Pentagon, despite defense officials' repeated insistence it had found billions in savings.

The Defense Business Board, however, reported in May 2019 that the CMO position had been "mostly ineffective" and was "never set up for success."

By Briana Reilly
September 3, 2021 at 2:30 PM

The U.S. and Indian air forces have agreed to work together to develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles, a move that officials say represents the first co-development project between the two countries under their bilateral defense cooperation framework.

Announced by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center today, the more-than-$22-million project represents the biggest collaboration on defense research, development, test and evaluation between the two countries, according to the press release, which noted that costs will be "shared equally" between the U.S. and India.

Launched under the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, the effort seeks to design, develop, demonstrate, test and evaluate technologies ranging from small UAVs to launch systems, avionics and more, per the release.

The effort will be carried out by the Air Force Research Laboratory and India's Defense Research and Development Organization.

The announcement doesn't share details on the timeline for developing the UAVs, nor does it note when the agreement was officially signed. Brig. Gen. Brian Bruckbauer, chief of the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate, noted the project agreement came "after many months" of investment from U.S. and Indian officials.

By John Liang
September 3, 2021 at 2:24 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy fiscal year 2022 funding, a recent Northrop Grumman contract protest decision and more.

We start off with a look at which parts of the extra $25 billion added by House authorizers in the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill would go to help the Navy:

House topline amendment boosts Navy programs

Multiple Navy programs would receive increased funding after the House Armed Services Committee vote on Wednesday to authorize an additional $25 billion in defense spending above the president's request for fiscal year 2022.

More Navy news:

Golden: Congress, White House have to provide Navy more guidance before service creates shipbuilding plans

Congress and the Biden administration need to provide the Navy with strategic guidance before the service develops its long-term fleet size and shipbuilding plans, House Armed Services Committee member Jared Golden (D-ME) said Thursday.

GAO sustains Northrop Grumman protest on NGJ-LB program

The Government Accountability Office has upheld a protest Northrop Grumman filed against a contract awarded to L3Harris Technologies for the Next Generation Jammer-Low Band Capability Block 1.

The Army's Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System could be fielded as soon as fiscal year 2023:

Army hopes to field FTUAS in FY-23

The Army plans to field the first increment of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, the replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow drone, by the second quarter of fiscal year 2023, according to an Army request for white papers released Sept. 2.

Some missile defense news:

Congressional support for continuing Hawaii radar project in FY-22 grows

Support is mounting in Congress to again reinstate funding for a Hawaii-based ballistic missile defense radar, with the House Armed Services Committee authorizing $75 million for the project and setting September 2028 as the target for initial operations -- keeping the effort alive in defiance of Pentagon proposals for the last two years to shelve it.

House authorizers are looking to streamline the acquisition of software and emerging technologies:

House panel adopts software acquisition, emerging technology amendments

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday during its mark-up of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill adopted several amendments aimed at streamlining acquisition of software and emerging technologies.

A bunch of Defense Department advisory boards have been re-instated:

Austin re-establishes key DOD advisory boards

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is directing several Pentagon advisory committees to resume their activities following a "zero-base" review he ordered earlier this year amid reports that former President Trump had used them in a lame-duck attempt to reward loyalists.

The Government Accountability Office recently released a report on satellite communications:

Space Force poised to begin narrowband satellite communications AOA in FY-22

The Space Force is moving forward with an analysis of alternatives on future narrowband satellite communications in fiscal year 2022 and has set aside $12 million for the effort, defense officials indicated in a Government Accountability Office report released publicly this week.

Document: GAO report on MUOS

By Tony Bertuca
September 3, 2021 at 2:00 PM

The Pentagon has established a new supply chain resiliency working group to address "systemic barriers currently limiting supply chain visibility, conduct resiliency assessments, and develop effective mitigation actions."

Acting Pentagon acquisition chief Gregory Kausner said the working group will aim to fix a problem that took "50 years to evolve."

"A comprehensive strategic approach will take time, dedicated attention, and resources," he said in a statement. "Effective implementation begins with understanding our vulnerabilities and the necessary responses, so we can focus our efforts to build greater resiliency across critical supply chains."

The Pentagon's focus on supply chain challenges was heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed vulnerabilities across the defense industrial base.

The new working group is aligned with a February executive order mandating the federal government conduct a comprehensive supply chain review.

The Pentagon noted in a statement that "multiple recent National Defense Authorization Acts require DOD to better understand its supply chains, and the current and future threats to their stability and security."

The new Pentagon working group will be led by the Office of Industrial Policy.

"The working group is a down payment on a long-term problem," said Jesse Salazar, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy. "It coalesces efforts from across the department and provides a mechanism to develop a framework and proactive strategy to change the way DOD does business, and better secure our supply chains."

The working group's review will span a two-year period and will "leverage work already being performed" across the federal government, the Pentagon said.

The group's initial findings will be included in the annual report on the defense industrial base, which is expected early next year.