The Insider

By John Liang
December 1, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Mindful of the current budgetary environment, the industry team developing the Airborne Laser has begun to do some in-house studies to see how system could be re-jiggered to be able to shoot down not just ballistic missiles in their boost phase but also cruise missiles and other enemy flying objects.

"The contractors have begun to do some work in simulation to show that there are capabilities for the weapon system in the future and there are some changes that would need to be made because we're optimized for ballistic missiles, but we believe that there are some capabilities for counter-aircraft and counter-((surface-to-air missiles)), for example, and potentially cruise missiles," Boeing ABL Program Director Mike Rinn told reporters during a conference call earlier today. "So it kind of opens up a whole other area -- that is not our primary mission, I want to state that emphatically, the Missile Defense Agency has designed the system for all classes of ballistic missile in boost phase -- but we believe there's other potential in the multimission arena."

Earlier today, MDA and its industry partners announced that the ABL program has successfully test-fired the megawatt-class laser through the Boeing 747 aircraft's turret mount in a ground test last week.

During the conference call with reporters, Boeing's Rinn said the program was still on track for a late summer, early fall 2009 attempt to intercept a live target ballistic missile.

The ABL program has encountered increasing congressional scrutiny. House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Chairwoman Ellen Tauscher earlier this month promised hearings on programs like ABL when Congress comes back in session next year. Not only that, reported earlier this month that the incoming Obama administration was mulling cuts to a small handful of named high-profile weapon systems, among them national missile defense and ABL.

Even if next summer's intercept attempt is successful, such a demonstration will not by itself be enough to prove the weapon meets requirements, the program office's commander said this past summer. Follow-on tests of the platform must occur before the laser is ready to go into production, he added. As Inside Missile Defense reported:

Unless the program office discovers something considered anywhere between "concerning" and "hideous" between now and August 2009, ABL’s in-flight shoot-down demonstration will take place as scheduled, Col. Robert McMurry, commander of the Airborne Laser program office at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, said during a June 27 National Press Club briefing on the directed-energy weapon's progress.

Still, though the test will be at a range that is "significant" -- the exact range is classified, but retired Lt. Gen. Michael Dunn, CEO of the Air Force Association, at the same briefing put it at hundreds of kilometers -- the program follows a "crawl-walk-run" process, and an "envelope expansion" of the laser's capabilities will be needed to prove its concept of operations, McMurry said.

“I don’t think you’re going to satisfy all of the government’s requirements that you need to say, ‘That thing’s ready to procure’ by . . . a single shoot-down; it’s just not going to happen,” McMurry said. “So what we need to do is show the operational utility. Part of that plan is things like taking the system now and shoot((ing)) something down, but, instead of shooting it down here, fly it to Hawaii and shoot it there and prove you can move it and then use it. There are a number of those variations on the theme that kind of start to pin down the modeling that you’ve done to support the concept of operations and do it beyond just computer modeling that really anchor that in real-life, purposeful execution of the . . . top-end requirements.”

In the conference report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2009 Defense Authorization Act, House and Senate lawmakers called for a Defense Department-sponsored independent study of boost-phase missile defenses, including ABL, the Kinetic Energy Interceptor and other potential systems.

“The study would assess a variety of relevant factors and compare the results to non-boost-phase missile defense systems,” the report states.

The conferees also prohibit spending money to buy a second ABL aircraft until the defense secretary certifies that the system “has demonstrated, through successful testing and operational and cost analysis, a high probability of being operationally effective, suitable, survivable and affordable.”

Money also cannot be allocated to a second aircraft until 60 days after the boost-phase missile defense study is submitted, according to the bill text.

By Christopher J. Castelli
December 1, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you're probably aware President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden are scheduled to officially announce the incoming administration's national security team today in Chicago at 10:45 a.m.

The line up includes Sen. Hillary Clinton to serve as secretary of state; Defense Secretary Robert Gates to continue to serving in his current job; retired Marine Gen. James Jones to serve as White House National Security Adviser; Eric Holder to serve as attorney general; Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano to lead the Department of Homeland Security; and Susan Rice to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that retired Navy Adm. Dennis Blair is the frontrunner for the job of director of national intelligence, but that the decision is still being mulled and might not be announced today. The New York Times reports no top intelligence appointments will be announced today but that Blair is expected to be named soon.

By John Liang
November 26, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Missile Defense Agency is calling on the Von Braun Conference Center in Huntsville, AL, to host an industry day next month for its MDA Engineering and Support Services (MiDAESS) program, according to a Federal Business Opportunities notice posted yesterday.

MiDAESS is MDA's effort to restructure and consolidate the way it procures contractor support services.

The event, scheduled for Dec. 17-19, would require a venue with a capacity of 1,000 people, the notice states:

The intended source for the requirement is the Von Braun Center located in Huntsville, Alabama, as they are the only responsible source who can satisfy the agency's need for this requirement. However, all responsible sources may submit a capability statement, proposal, or quotation, which shall be considered by the agency.

MDA spends approximately $900 million annually on contractor support services for functional areas like quality, safety and mission assurance; business and financial management; administrative and professional support; engineering; acquisition management; and warfighter support, among others, Inside Missile Defense reported in February when the MiDAESS draft request for proposals was first released.

In 2004, MDA began a re-engineering effort "to better align the agency to achieve an overall goal of developing a single integrated ((ballistic missile defense)) system," according to the RFP's executive summary. "A foundational premise of the re-engineering was to centralize control in the agency headquarters and de-centralize execution in the field."

"We are constantly looking for ways that we can be more efficient and more effective," then-MDA Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering told reporters at a Feb. 12 conference sponsored by Aviation Week, "and this ((draft RFP)) is part of that."

One of the major changes brought about by the re-engineering was a transition from a "project" organization to a "matrix" organization, the draft RFP states. That resulted in government personnel working in a "functional alignment," with each person in a program office being responsible to a functional manager for their particular skill "and responsible to the program leadership for day-to-day direction," the draft RFP reads.

In related news, MDA this week also released a MiDAESS "organizational conflict of interest policy" via FedBizOpps to encourage the contractor community "to resolve al OCI issues prior to submitting proposals or teaming in connection with the MiDAESS effort." Stay tuned to next week's issue of IMD for more info on this.

By John Liang
November 26, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The folks over at sister publication Defense Environment Alert are reporting this week that the Army and Navy are pushing to define the guidelines of their future energy policies, focusing on energy savings and increased self-reliance for the military services, before the Bush administration leaves office:

The Army's effort will attempt to establish a prescriptive, apolitical energy policy that officials say should nonetheless be in line with the incoming Obama administration, and, due to its necessity, be long-lasting. The Navy also expects to lay out plans for a new energy policy by time Obama takes office.

The Army’s drive to cut energy use and make itself more energy independent within 15 years will take on concrete form before Bush leaves the White House Jan. 20, Keith Eastin, assistant service secretary for installations and environment, told delegates to an Army-sponsored energy conference Nov. 17.

"This energy initiative . . . has been a long time coming, and will live long beyond this administration and hopefully the next," Eastin said.

The Army unveiled the energy initiative last month. Under the effort, Army bases will attempt to become net exporters of energy using a variety of methods, including renewable, alternative and conventional energy sources, while energy savings in transportation at forward operating bases are also envisioned:

The changes are driven by unstable energy prices and concerns over energy security, rather than politics, Eastin said. The changes will boost Army energy policy beyond its traditional focus on easily attainable energy savings measures at installations.

Addressing why the Army has left this policy shift until so late in the current administration, Eastin said: "We want to leave a little legacy for everybody else to work with." Earlier this year, Eastin recruited former Air Force energy expert Paul Bollinger to be his junior in the newly renamed post of deputy assistant Army secretary for energy and partnerships.

A draft strategic implementation plan for the energy initiative will be drawn up by Dec. 8, based on the results of consultations with industry at the Nov. 17 event, according to Bollinger. Multiple Army commands will then scrutinize the draft plan and the modified product will be presented to the Army’s new senior energy council Jan. 7. Army Secretary Pete Geren will then sign off on the plan.

The Navy, meanwhile, is the last of the three services to get into the energy act, with a new high-level initiative under preparation that will set up an "executive committee" to establish a strategy to be presented to the next Navy secretary, DEA reported.

Pat Tamburrino, assistant deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics, told the conference that the Navy’s strategy is still "embryonic," but will be "three-pronged." The three elements are doctrine, investment in new equipment, and security of supply, he said.

As for the Air Force, Mike Aimone, the service's deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support, said the Air Force will press ahead with its goal to supply half of its domestic fuel requirements from domestic, synthetic fuel sources, using primarily coal-to-liquids (CTL) fuels. Since the price of oil has now dropped sharply from its peak over the summer, the driving force for this program is now energy security, rather than cost, Aimone said.

By Christopher J. Castelli
November 26, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has reportedly agreed to continue to lead the Pentagon when President-elect Barack Obama comes to power next year, will be taking to the skies Monday and might just make a stop in Obama's hometown of Chicago, IL.

John Podesta, who co-chairs Obama's transition team, has said the Illinois Democrat generally plans to personally announce his senior cabinet-level appointments in Chicago.

For now, the Defense Department is not officially commenting on Gates' future or whether he will visit Chicago next week to appear with Obama. But a senior defense official coyly said today that Gates will likely have an opportunity to talk to reporters next week.

DOD also acknowledged that Gates is scheduled to speak in the early afternoon on Monday (Dec. 1) at the Air Force Base in Minot, ND. It is a sure bet nuclear weapons will come up in his speech there. In August 2007, the Air Force accidentally flew six live nuclear cruise missiles on a B-52 bomber from Minot AFB, ND, to Barksdale AFB, LA, touching off investigations that ultimately led Gates to sack the service's leadership.

Visiting Minot will put Gates a mere 900 miles or so from Obama's hometown at a time when the president-elect is reportedly poised to unveil a national security team that also includes Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and retired Marine Gen. James Jones as White House national security adviser.

By Marjorie Censer
November 25, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Associated Press and others are reporting today that Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- in a widely distributed 41-page memo issued in response to the most recent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves report -- is calling for a broad review of the reserve component's ability to handle domestic disasters.

As Inside the Army reported upon its release in early 2008, the commission's report called for the Pentagon to better integrate the active and reserve components of the military and to “improve its capabilities and readiness to play a primary role in the response to major catastrophes that incapacitate civilian government over a wide geographic area.”

The report contended that the National Guard and Reserves “should play the lead role” in supporting the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies.

In the new memo, Gates also calls for a review to consider how best to ensure visibility of National Guard and Reserve equipment and funding.

The document, sent to a large group of Pentagon and service leaders, asks them to “complete the work done by the Commission and ensure that the Commission's efforts result in lasting improvements to our national security.”

Last month, Gates signed a new DOD directive -- first reported right here -- that changed official Pentagon policy to say the reserve components “provide operational capabilities and strategic depth to meet U.S. defense requirements across the full spectrum of conflict,” and that active and reserve components “are integrated as a total force based on the attributes of the particular component and individual competencies.”

Arnold Punaro, chair of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, told ITA earlier this month that the document was “one of the most significant documents in the Pentagon in a long, long time.”

We'll have more on the Gates memo shortly.

By Dan Dupont
November 25, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Politico reports Defense Secretary Robert Gates has agreed to stick at the Pentagon, where he will be part of an Obama national security team that includes Sen. Hillary Clinton at State and retired Gen. James Jones as national security adviser.


Democrats familiar with the national-security event early next week said they also expect James B. Steinberg, who was deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration, to be named deputy secretary of State; Susan Rice, Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser on the campaign, to be named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and retired Navy Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command and a veteran of the NSC, Central Intelligence Agency and Joint Chiefs of Staff, to be named the director of national intelligence.

Tom Donilon, an assistant secretary of state for public affairs and chief of staff at the U.S. Department of State during the Clinton administration, is a leading candidate to be Jones’ deputy at the NSC, officials said.

By Marcus Weisgerber
November 24, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz are scheduled to meet with a senior member of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team today.

The meeting between the Air Force's top two officials and Michèle Flournoy will serve as an introduction and an opportunity for the service to initially present some of its big issues, according to an Air Force official. Those issues will be discussed in further detail when service officials hold formal briefings with the transition team in the coming weeks.

Transition team officials met with several senior Pentagon officials from other services last week; however, Donley and Schwartz were not in Washington.

The incoming administration will face some major Air Force-related decisions immediately upon taking office in January. At the top of that list is deciding whether to continue Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III production.

By Jason Sherman
November 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Norway yesterday announced the Joint Strike Fighter will replace its F-16s, passing over the Saab Gripen fighter, a procurement that could net JSF prime contractor Lockheed Martin orders for up to 48 aircraft, which Myles Walton, an investment research analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., estimates could be worth $8.5 billion.

In a statement, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence said:

The JSF is the only candidate which fulfills all the operational requirements specified by the Norwegian Government and is furthermore offered at a lower price than the Gripen NG. The selection of the Joint Strike Fighter rests upon a clear recommendation from Project Future Combat Aircraft Capability. External auditors have concluded that the evaluation has been carried out in a professional and ethically sound manor.

Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, the defence minister, said in the statement that she expects Norwegian industry to play a key part in JSF production.

An investment of this magnitude offers substantial opportunities for Norwegian industry. Throughout the process, the Government has communicated clearly to the candidates the significance of securing industrial opportunities, and the results of that focus is clearly evident today.

By John Liang
November 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Missile Defense Agency has a new director. Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly took the reins today from retiring Air Force Lt. Gen. Trey Obering in a ceremony at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA.

O'Reilly has his work cut out for him, what with two wars and a faltering economy and promises from senior lawmakers of a "severe scrubbing" of MDA's budget next year.

Obering last week reiterated his agency's argument that MDA is "a very small part of the defense budget," somewhere around "less than 2 percent."

I believe that we have gone to great pains to outline a balanced program, with obviously the emphasis being on the near-term fielding and the development to support the near-term fielding, testing and sustainment, and that accounts for about 75 percent of our budget today. The 25 percent left over goes for programs like the Airborne Laser, Kinetic Energy Interceptor, . . . ((and)) our Space Tracking and Surveillance System.

Obering told reporters in a Nov. 12 teleconference call that Congress' "propensity" for cutting funding for future missile defense programs "would be a very bad mistake."

We're going to have to develop these capabilities to stay up with the threat and make sure that the interceptors and the sensors that we're fielding today remain effective in the future. If you cut those future programs, that's going to mean that basically we're going to be fielding systems today that are going to be obsolete in the mid-term of the future.

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

Some visitors at this year's AUSA exhibit last month may have walked away from the contractor booths with USB memory sticks filled with digitized promotional material. For their size, these tiny things hold an awful lot of data, and with the warfighting gear advertisements purged from them, they come in handy for, say, a quick file transport between computers that aren't directly connected. And they are handed out like candy at some military trade shows.

As we reported yesterday, though, a recent STRATCOM message prohibits the use of all such removable media on unclassified networks for security reasons. A closer look at the message seems to confirm DOD's fears that attackers are successfully targeting low-level functions of electronic devices to emplace code capable of doing anything from stealing data to spying out passwords.

“Malicious software (malware) programmed to embed itself in memory devices has entered our systems,” the STRATCOM message reads, announcing further direction for sanitizing and “recertifying” the military's networks.

Malware happened to be one of the topics at the Army Combined Arms Center's Information and Cyberspace Symposium in September. In one of the presentations, titled “Advanced Malware Trends,” a Sandia National Labs expert predicted that the focus of attackers is “moving from ((operating systems)) and system software to application logic, software below the OS (virtual machine manager and firmware), and hardware.” In response, the official's presentation reads, military information assurance professionals must pick up additional skills -- in the areas of VMM programming, firmware programming, and hardware architecture and design -- to keep Defense Department networks safe.

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

The Washington Post is reporting on its Web site this afternoon that President-Elect Obama is "close" to naming his national security adviser -- retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones.

The Jones appointment would put the one-time Marine Corps commandant and NATO commander in charge of managing an interagency process that many Democratic foreign policy experts contend has been broken under the Bush administration. . . .

In picking Jones to coordinate his team, Obama would be sending a powerful sign of a desire to conduct a non-partisan national security policy. Jones is also close to Sen. John McCain, his colleague as a military liaison to Capitol Hill in the 1970s, and stayed publicly neutral during the campaign, but quietly provided advice to Obama in telephone conversations, according to someone who knows both men. He is one of the few individuals in public life who likely would have been courted for government service regardless of the election's outcome.

"He would bring a lot of the military dimension to the job," said Wesley Clark, the retired four-star general who was one of Jones' predecessors as NATO commander. "And his non- partisanship at this juncture is really important. He provides a nonpartisan standard for the national interest--that would be the presumption given his previous experience."

Jones currently heads the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy. His name circulated briefly as a possible vice-president pick, and he and Obama have discussed possible roles for Jones in an Obama administration since before the election.

Jones has not been silent of late, and we've been able to glean some of his latest thinking:

Inside the Pentagon - November 20, 2008

The new administration must ensure U.S. combatant commanders receive adequate resources to support essential, global engagement activities that have faced budget challenges in wartime, retired Marine Gen. James Jones tells Inside the Pentagon.

Inside the Pentagon - November 13, 2008

Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, who served as the Bush administration’s special envoy for Middle East regional security, is urging President-elect Barack Obama's team to continue to foster improvements on the Israeli-occupied West Bank that could lay the foundation for a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Inside the Pentagon - November 6, 2008

Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, who is reportedly being eyed for the job of national security adviser in the Obama White House, is not ruling out the possibility of joining the new administration.

By Dan Dupont
November 20, 2008 at 5:00 AM

As we told you this morning over on the INSIDER, there's a new U.S. Strategic Command message out there suspending the use of "flash media"devices -- "memory sticks, thumb drives and camera flash memory cards" -- because of some significant security concerns.

That directive -- stamped "for official use only" -- contains some pretty dire language.

A taste:



You should know's Danger Room blog broke this story last night.

You should also know that the defense IT community is very, very exercised about the whole thing.

More to come.

By John Liang
November 20, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Former Pentagon weapons tester Philip Coyle told Inside Missile Defense this week that he does not think the Obama administration “can avoid cutting missile defense,” noting the likely need for cash to pay for “higher priorities, and there are not many places where you can so easily find $10 billion year after year for the foreseeable future that could be better spent on important national needs, such as energy independence.” Coyle is a senior adviser at the Center for Defense Information.

And James Clay Moltz, an associate professor on the National Security Affairs faculty at the Naval Postgraduate School, said downward pressure on the Obama administration’s overall defense budget is likely to be significant.

“Missile defense spending will almost certainly be affected, but the Obama administration will also be leery of appearing weak on defense or hurting programs with significant prior investment, capabilities, or perceived deterrent value,” he told IMD in an e-mail. “For these reasons, I think we can expect a continuation of Aegis, ((Patriot Advanced Capability))-3, and domestic GMD spending (with some slippage in planned numbers and deployment dates for new hardware), a slowdown of funding for proposed European defenses, and cuts for less-proven technologies (like the Airborne Laser, the ((Multiple Kill Vehicle)), the ((Kinetic Energy Interceptor)), and ((Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense))).”

Lawmakers long skeptical of the outgoing Bush administration's missile defense policies are sure to get in on the action, with House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Chairwoman Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) promising a "severe scrubbing" of the Missile Defense Agency's budget by the next Congress, IMD reported:

“We're going to finally get to a place I think where we have had a number of programs that have been moderately extended -- you know, not-full-funding, a-little-funding, you know, resuscitation funding, as we call it, resuscitating funding, just keeping them going, and make decisions on where we're going to go,” Tauscher told reporters following a Nov. 12 speech at a Center for Nonproliferation Studies event. “And that's going to be part of the hearing process that we start in January ((or)) February when we begin to build toward the ((fiscal year 2010 defense authorization)) bill.”

When asked if that scrubbing would include funding cuts to missile defense programs, Tauscher said she could “not speculate because we have a new administration coming in . . . we've got the Strategic Posture Commission, we've got a number of different things that are going to inform us, including where exactly our numbers are.

“And until I have that information, I cannot speculate and I won't speculate, but everything I think is on the table,” she continued. “Everything has to be reviewed; we're looking forward to . . . going back to regular order, where we have hearings, where we have comprehensive overview, oversight, and the hearing process will illuminate where we think we need to be going.”

MDA Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, fearing some outside the government may be "dated" in their knowledge of U.S. missile defense efforts, said the same day as Tauscher's speech that his agency stands ready to brief incoming Obama administration officials on the status of its programs.

Some related future-of-missile-defense-funding stories from recent weeks:

MEADS Missile Defense Program Undergoes Management Overhaul

Young Establishes Joint Missile Defense Analysis Team

Report Urges 'Renewed Emphasis' on RDT&E at Missile Defense Agency

Report Says MDA Should Play No Role In Cruise Missile Defense

Defense Department Opposes FY-09 Multiple Kill Vehicle Funding Cuts

Campbell: Army Would Need More Money From OSD to Run GMD System

By Rebekah Gordon
November 19, 2008 at 5:00 AM

When it comes to the effect that a potentially diminished Defense Department budget in the next administration might have on science and technology research and development, at least one defense official said he’s pretty frightened.

“It really scares me when I think about a shrinking science and technology budget,” John Wilcox, an assistant deputy under secretary of defense and the director of the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration program, said yesterday on a panel at the Coast Guard Innovation Expo in Virginia Beach, VA. “Because that’s the money that’s the future, whether it’s building the research, scientists, the engineers and our young people that have those programs out there, or having the right monies to invest in things that can react quickly to the battlefield.”

He said he’s pretty certain defense research organizations will see a “drawdown” and be asked to do more with less. And to counter the effects, he told the audience, DOD should take greater advantage of cooperative efforts across departments.

“If we don’t start doing that, and we see our budget going down and things like that, especially across places like DOD, ((Department of Homeland Security)), and the services and the Coast Guard, we’re going to find that we’re not going to be able to put the solutions out there and we will get halfway down the path we need to go.”

The JCTD program funds accelerated research, development and operational evaluation of mature technologies that meet joint warfighting requirements or combatant commander priorities. He said JCTDs can “bring people together from the labs, from industry, sometimes working on a very informal basis,” and that “actually, it puts together a very strong, collaborative effort to go after a solution to a problem.”

More of that kind of collaboration, Wilcox said, will be what is necessary to keep science and technology research and development moving forward under tightened purse strings.

“We need to do a real shift,” he said. “And it’s going to come whether we like it or not.”