The INSIDER daily digest -- Dec. 4, 2018

By John Liang  
December 4, 2018 at 2:35 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has defense budget news from a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing, the Joint Strike Fighter program, Army artificial intelligence efforts, Air Force cybersecurity and more.

The nominees to head U.S. Special Operations and Central commands testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning on the defense budget:

Top military officials: Anything below $733B defense budget 'would increase risk'

Military officials nominated to run U.S. Central and Special Operations commands said today that at least $733 billion is necessary to implement the National Defense Strategy, an assertion that aligns them with GOP defense hawks, but runs counter to the White House's position that a $700 billion budget should be considered.

Document: Senate hearing on CENTCOM, SOCOM nominations

The F-35 joint program office this week issued a request for proposals to support an F-35 sustainment supply chain risk-management (SCRM) review:

F-35 JPO seeks industry support for sustainment supply chain risk-management review

As the Defense Department continues to craft a long-term sustainment plan for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the joint program office is looking to partner with industry to better understand the sustainment risks involving sub-tier suppliers.

Army Brig. Gen. Matthew Easley said he has been given a "daunting task" serving as the artificial intelligence authority at the enterprise level over the "hundreds of projects" the service works on each year:

Army official: AI should be thought of as a process, not a product

DETROIT -- The director of the Army's new artificial intelligence task force says the service should start thinking of AI not as a product but as a process.

The Air Force's deputy chief information officer spoke this morning at an information technology conference hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association in McLean, VA:

Air Force's revamped ATO policy aims to deliver greater cybersecurity faster

Air Force Deputy Chief Information Officer Bill Marion said today the service would release a "fast-track" authority to operate policy within the next week, hoping to deploy more cybersecure capabilities faster instead of remaining beholden to the current ATO process that can last 18 months.

A proposed rule, released in the Federal Register today, would put into place restrictions on lowest-price, technically acceptable contracts:

Pentagon moves to implement LPTA limitations

The Defense Department today issued a proposed rule that would implement sections of 2017 and 2018 legislation limiting the use of lowest-price, technically acceptable source selection.

More defense business news:

Mercury Systems looks to acquisitions and R&D for growth

Mercury Systems, a supplier to dozens of prime contractors, has been rapidly making acquisitions and is investing heavily in research and development as it seeks growth.

Check out our continuing coverage of this past weekend's Reagan National Defense Forum in California:

Air Force gained 15 percent readiness since secretary's confirmation

SIMI VALLEY, CA -- The Air Force is 15 percent more ready now than it was in May 2017, with 75 percent of operational squadrons able to deploy in lead force packages, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson recently told reporters here.

China takes center stage at Reagan Forum

China's evolving military and surging economy continue to loom large in the minds of U.S. defense policy experts, but President Trump sparked new uncertainty about his administration's posture today by voicing a desire to halt an "uncontrollable arms race" between China, Russia and the United States.