The Insider

By John Liang
October 20, 2022 at 1:42 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy warship maintenance, the future of Littoral Combat Ships, industrial competition for the U.S. military's next-generation short-range interceptor and more.

The Navy's top uniformed officer spoke about warship maintenance during an Atlantic Council event this week:

CNO: Half of maintenance delays stem from ships proposed for decommissioning

The Navy's continued struggles with surface ship maintenance delays can partly be tied to the ships on the service's decommissioning list, according to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday.

While there are no trimaran-hulled, Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ships slated to be decommissioned in the Navy's fiscal year 2023 budget request, the service's 30-year shipbuilding plan notes that two Independence-class LCS will be decommissioned in FY-24:

Facing an uncertain future, Independence-class LCS returns from first deployment

After returning from a successful first deployment, the Navy will continue to operate Littoral Combat Ship Jackson (LCS-6) at its "full potential" despite facing a potential divestment in fiscal year 2024.

Competition for the U.S. military's next-generation short-range interceptor is heating up:

Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon submit proposals for next-generation Stinger missile

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies are vying to supply the U.S. military’s next-generation short-range interceptor, with all three companies submitting bids, due last week, in an expected multibillion-dollar competition to design and build the follow-on to the venerable Stinger missile -- a franchise with a four-decade run.

Honeywell Aerospace will seek to further assert itself in satellite communications, networks and navigation technology, among other areas, Ricky Freeman, president of the company's defense and space business unit, told Inside Defense last week at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army:

Honeywell undergoes shift to align with Army modernization, executive says

Honeywell Aerospace, the company that has made engines for the Abrams tank and Chinook helicopter for decades, is undergoing a "strategic change" to align more closely with the Army's modernization effort and changing budget priorities, according to a top executive.

(Check out our complete AUSA coverage.)

Rear Adm. Michael Wettlaufer, head of Military Sealift Command, spoke at a Navy League event on Tuesday morning:

Wettlaufer: Military Sealift Command faces ship and personnel shortages

Military Sealift Command, the Navy's primary maritime equipment mover, is contending with shortages of both ships and personnel, which may impair the service's crisis-response capability, according to MSC's commander.

By Shelley K. Mesch
October 20, 2022 at 10:47 AM

The B-21 Raider will be unveiled Dec. 2 in Palmdale, CA, in an invitation-only event, contractor Northrop Grumman announced via Twitter Thursday.

The B-21 will be the Air Force’s newest nuclear bomber, and Northrop calls it the “world’s first sixth-generation aircraft.”

The Air Force announced last month at the Air and Space Forces Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference that it would unveil the highly classified aircraft in December, but a specific date had not yet been finalized.

Northrop won the contract for the bomber in 2015. Six test aircraft were in final assembly in September at the Palmdale facility, according to a news release from the company last month.

The Air Force confirmed Thursday that six aircraft are in production, and the first flight is projected for next calendar year. The flight will be event, not calendar driven.

“The B-21 program is in the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase and is on-track to deliver aircraft to the first main operating base in the mid-2020s,” service spokesman Maj. Josh Benedetti said in an email to Inside Defense.

By John Liang
October 19, 2022 at 2:11 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on a multibillion-dollar omnibus reprogramming request, modernization of Army depots, a White House statement of administration policy on the Senate's fiscal year 2023 defense authorization bill and more.

The Pentagon has released a multibillion-dollar, congressionally approved omnibus reprogramming request:

Congress backs $2.3B funding shift at DOD

Congress has given the Defense Department the authority to realign $2.3 billion in various unspent appropriations toward priority weapons programs like systems to counter small, unmanned drones as well as toward "must-pay bills" brought on by "inflationary pressure," according to a Pentagon "omnibus" budgetary reprogramming document.

Document: DOD's FY-22 omnibus reprogramming

Meanwhile, in a separate Air Force-related reprogramming:

Congress approves Air Force reprogramming request for E-7 Wedgetail

Congressional defense authorizers and appropriators approved the Air Force's request to reprogram about $16 million for the E-7 Wedgetail program to keep the new- start effort on track amid the continuing resolution.

The Army will invest $16 billion over 15 years to upgrade outdated depot facilities and prepare them to work on the 34 modernization programs the service says it will deliver:

Army depots supporting Ukraine will also need to support modernization push

The Army's 2019 Army Modernization Strategy pre-dates the supply chain snarls, COVID-19-caused factory shutdowns and computer chip shortages that have beset manufacturing facilities around the world. But those issues have brought into stark focus the importance of the back-end processes critical to maintaining readiness and delivering the Army's modernization priorities.

In a new statement of administration policy, the White House "strongly opposes" funding for the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile as well as modifications to Ballistic Missile Defense System plans and more:

White House objects to weapons provisions in Senate defense bill

The White House is not threatening to veto the Senate's version of the fiscal year 2023 defense bill, but it does oppose several provisions related to procurement of major defense weapon systems, according to a new statement of administration policy released by the Office of Management and Budget.

Document: Statement of administration policy on Senate's FY-23 defense authorization bill

Adm. Christopher Grady, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke this week at the National Defense Transportation Association and U.S. Transportation Command Fall Meeting 2022 in St. Louis, MO:

Upcoming release of new Joint Warfighting Concept touted as a 'watershed moment'

The third iteration of the Joint Warfighting Concept, due at the end of the year, will be a turning point for the U.S. military and how it is resourced, according to a top Defense Department official.

Navy Vice Admiral Karl Thomas affirmed this week that 7th Fleet is prepared to provide defensive capability to Taiwan, although a peaceful resolution to the conflict is desired:

Thomas: 'Integrated deterrence' essential to maintaining rule-based order in the Pacific

The Biden administration doctrine of "integrated deterrence" is the key to preventing Chinese aggression in the Pacific and maintaining rule-based international order, according to the commander of U.S. 7th Fleet.

By Audrey Decker
October 19, 2022 at 12:04 PM

The Navy and Marine Corps' fleet of T-45 training jets was placed on a safety pause after an aircraft's engine blade failed at Naval Air Station Kingsville, TX.

The fault was discovered after an aircraft experienced a low-pressure compressor blade failure prior to take off, Navy spokeswoman Elizabeth Fahrner told Inside Defense in a statement.

The service has 193 T-45C Goshawk aircraft to train its Navy and Marine Corps pilots.

When asked if the blade will need to be redesigned, Fahrner said it’s “too early to determine since the engineering analysis is still ongoing.”

This summer, the Navy ordered a safety pause for all non-deployed aviation units after multiple crashes involving Navy and Marine Corps aircraft.

The Navy has been working “around the clock” with Rolls Royce, which provides support for the T-45 engines, to identify the root cause of the engine blade failure, said Rear Adm. John Lemmon, program executive officer for tactical aircraft programs in yesterday’s press release.

“Flight operations will remain paused until we can safely return the T-45 fleet to a flying status. Training air wings and squadrons are currently looking to maximize ground training, including classroom lectures, simulators and computer-based training,” Fahrner said.

The Navy wants to replace the T-45C fleet with a more advanced tactical trainer, according to a request for information released last fall. The Air Force is seeking a similar trainer aircraft, but the services have yet to decide whether it will be a joint program.

By Shelley K. Mesch
October 19, 2022 at 10:38 AM

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is seeking information relating to rebuilding and replacing data center and Air Force base security stacks to support the service’s Zero Trust Strategy, according to an online posting of the request.

The service is not looking for detailed plans, according to the information request, but product offering descriptions and examples of a business’ past experiences with zero-trust gateways, or ZTGs.

An enterprise protection suite for ZTG would be expected to function at high speeds, leverage Identity Credential Access Management and work with other government-provided services.

Among other requirements, products would need to:

  • Be designed for Component Enterprise Data Centers (CEDC) Security Stacks and Zero Trust Protection Suites;
  • Separate CEDC from the base network while providing direct connection to customer edge routers, such as service delivery points;
  • Create and extend security for a minimum of five zones;
  • Be capable of automatic fail-over to a secondary CEDC;
  • Have policy decision point and policy enforcement point solutions for hosted applications;
  • Transfer data between CEDCs at high speeds;
  • Be interoperable between ZTGs installed at Enterprise IT-as-a-Service bases and Air Force Network;
  • Allow for a scalable system capable of five years of data backup and log storage;
  • Be capable of micro-segmentation to isolate workloads for secure lateral movement.

The Air Force has about 800,000 users on its network, and larger bases can have up to 35,000 users, according to the post, so the ability for a vendor to scale any products should be included in the response.

Businesses should indicate whether they are interested in submitting a proposal once a request is released, what military contracts they hold and whether they are considered large or small businesses by the Small Business Association’s standards. Responses should not exceed 10 pages.

Responses are due Nov. 2.

By John Liang
October 18, 2022 at 1:27 PM

This Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on C-130J funding, the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System and more.

The Air Force will need more C-130J program funding:

Air Force revises C-130J DMS estimate, says more funds are needed

An additional $63 million is required to address diminishing manufacturing sources for the C-130J Super Hercules ahead of further orders for the aircraft, a spokesman for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center told Inside Defense.

The Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System is drawing foreign allied interest:

Key allies eyeing IBCS; UK, Japan, Australia interested in new Army missile defense system

U.S. allies in Europe, Asia and the Pacific are eyeing the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense program -- specifically the IAMD Battle Command System (IBCS) -- with nations, including the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia, in discussion with the prime contractor and the U.S. government exploring potential foreign sales.

The upcoming congressional elections could have an impact on several Biden administration defense nominees:

Reed says DOD picks could further stall if Dems lose Senate

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) said the confirmations of more than a dozen Defense Department nominees could remain stalled if Democrats lose their Senate majority next month as the party's focus would be to move as many federal judges as possible before yielding control to the GOP.

The Defense Science Board has released the executive summary of a classified task force report on homeland air defense:

DSB: Strategic Aerospace Guard Environment needed to defend U.S. airspace

An influential Pentagon advisory panel has assessed it "is essential and feasible to quickly and affordably" field new domestic air defense capabilities to protect critical homeland targets -- both civilian and military -- against advanced Russian and Chinese threats.

Document: DSB executive summary of homeland air defense report

Delivery of the Navy's latest Expeditionary Sea Base vessel has been pushed back to January:

Delivery of sixth ESB vessel delayed until January

As the Navy's public and private shipyards continue to face workforce shortages, delivery of the newest Expeditionary Sea Base vessel has been delayed to January.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity have the latest on industry efforts to persuade lawmakers to reconcile different Software Bill of Materials proposals:

Software group calls for coherence on SBOM as lawmakers offer proposals for different agencies

BSA-The Software Alliance wants the House and Senate to sort out diverging proposals on Software Bill of Materials contained each in chamber's version of this year's annual defense policy bill, and calls for an approach that goes across government rather than focusing just on the Homeland Security or Defense departments.

By Briana Reilly
October 18, 2022 at 12:49 PM

(Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect additional information provided by a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman.)

Executives at Lockheed Martin, the builder of the High Mobility Advanced Rocket Systems that have been a key component of U.S. military aid packages to Ukraine, say they're working to ramp up production of the rocket launchers to 96 per year.

Lockheed President and CEO James Taiclet said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call today that leaders have met with their long-lead supply chain to plan for the boost.

“We advanced-funded ahead of contract, $65 million to shorten the manufacturing lead time,” he said. “That was without a contract or any other even memo or whatnot back from the government; we just went ahead and did that because we expected it to happen. So those parts are already being manufactured now.”

The effort comes after the Army recently posted a sources-sought notice surrounding the potential of driving HIMARS production quantities up to 96 per fiscal year beginning in FY-24. In order for Lockheed to meet that timeline, executives would have to boost capacity over the next 18 to 24 months.

The Army systems have been regularly included in U.S. transfers to Ukraine to combat Russian forces, with a Defense Department fact sheet from Oct. 14 stating that to date, officials have delivered 38 HIMARS and ammunition to Ukraine.

As of mid-October, the U.S. has committed $17.6 billion since the beginning of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.

Lockheed began 2022 producing HIMARS at a rate of 48 per year, a company spokeswoman told Inside Defense. Following the invasion, Taiclet said Lockheed had approached DOD senior officials and warned them of the company’s plans to “start spending on capacity” for HIMARS and other systems. Around then, HIMARS production expanded to 60 annually, the spokeswoman said.

To respond to growing and shifting demand now, executives are currently in the process of cross-training the workforce across product lines, allowing people to “move between them,” Taiclet said. Further, Lockheed is working to modernize an existing facility in Camden, AR, to support bolstered demand, he added.

By Briana Reilly
October 18, 2022 at 11:32 AM

Michael Brown, the former head of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit, has joined Shield Capital as a venture partner, the firm announced today.

Brown served at the helm of the small-budget outreach unit for four years up until his departure last month. He had previously announced plans to be a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution and a member of the Center for a New American Security’s Board of Advisors next year.

“Having worked in start-ups and large public companies, I look forward to helping SHIELD identify and build innovative companies with impactful missions,” Brown said in the release. “As we are seeing in the Ukraine conflict, commercial technology is becoming even more important in advancing national security. Our military can leverage this technology to modernize capabilities and save taxpayer dollars.”

With the news, Brown joins another former DIU leader at Shield: Raj Shah, currently a managing partner at the firm. Shah, one of the first heads of the unit who now leads a cybersecurity startup, praised Brown and fellow new venture partner and startup adviser John Jack, who was included in today’s announcement.

At DIU, Brown’s replacement as director hasn’t yet been named, but acting leader Mike Madsen indicated in recent weeks that the search -- which now involves the deputy secretary of defense -- is expected to take another four to six months.

By Tony Bertuca
October 18, 2022 at 10:55 AM

The Heritage Foundation's annual index of military strength has rated the U.S. military as "weak" when measured against the requirements the conservative think tank says are necessary to win two "major regional conflicts."

“In the aggregate, the United States’ military posture can only be rated as ‘weak,’” the 578-page report states.

Heritage says the Air Force is “very weak,” the Navy and Space Force are “weak,” and the Army is “marginal.” The Marine Corps and nuclear forces are rated “strong.”

“[B]ut the [Marine] Corps is a one-war force, and its overall strength is therefore not sufficient to compensate for the shortfalls of its larger fellow services,” the report states. “And if the United States should need to employ nuclear weapons, the escalation into nuclear conflict would seem to imply that handling such a crisis would challenge even a fully ready Joint Force at its current size and equipped with modern weapons.”

Heritage says threats emanating from China, Russia and North Korea make the “two-war or two-contingency requirement” necessary.

“The 2023 Index concludes that the current U.S. military force is at significant risk of not being able to meet the demands of a single major regional conflict while also attending to various presence and engagement activities,” the report states. “The force would probably not be able to do more and is certainly ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous MRCs -- a situation that is made more difficult by the generally weak condition of key military allies.”

Last year, the Heritage index said the U.S. military was “likely capable” of winning one regional conflict but would “certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two” simultaneously. At the time, the index rated the Marine Corps as “strong,” the Army and Navy as “marginal” and the Air Force and Space Force as “weak.”

But this year’s report argues the services are mostly too small and not modernized enough. For instance, Heritage says the Navy needs a battleforce of 400 manned ships “to do what is expected of it today,” but has only 298 ships. Heritage says the “very weak” rating for the Air Force stems from “problems with pilot production and retention, an extraordinarily small amount of time in the cockpit for pilots, and a fleet of aircraft that continues to age compounded challenges even more.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. National Security Strategy released last week embraces a doctrine of “integrated deterrence,” which calls for U.S. military strength backed by technological innovations and foreign allies, arguing the nation cannot “rely solely on conventional forces and nuclear deterrence.”

“Integrated deterrence requires us to more effectively coordinate, network, and innovate so that any competitor thinking about pressing for advantage in one domain understands that we can respond in many others as well,” the NSS states. “This augments the traditional backstop of combat-credible conventional and strategic capabilities, allowing us to better shape adversary perceptions of risks and costs of action against core U.S. interests, at any time and across any domain.”

By Briana Reilly
October 17, 2022 at 3:59 PM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is holding a proposers day next month targeting participants interested in a new artificial intelligence reinforcement effort that aims to enable tactical autonomy in operational environments often avoided by military commanders.

Scheduled for Nov. 14, the proposers day will center on the objectives of the program, known as AIR, ahead of an anticipated broad agency announcement, a notice posted today shows.

Through AIR, DARPA is looking to prioritize fully integrated sensors, scalability and adaptability in the face of “open-world problems,” as well as deceptive effects and the learning of predictive models “that capture uncertainty and automatically improve with data,” according to a document posted with the listing.

“AIR will pair existing, maturing and emerging algorithmic approaches with expert human feedback to rapidly evolve the cooperative autonomous behaviors that solve previously avoided challenges,” the document adds.

The proposers day will be held at Amentum’s Ballston Conference Center in Arlington, VA, on Nov. 14, with one-on-one meetings available on Nov. 15 with program manager Air Force Lt. Col. Hal Hefron. Registration closes Nov. 4, according to the notice.

By John Liang
October 17, 2022 at 1:02 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on future hybrid electric military vehicles, Guam missile defense, Army ammunition procurement and more.

Inside Defense spoke to executives from several military ground vehicle companies during last week's big AUSA conference:

At AUSA, the future is (hybrid) electric

Major ground vehicle companies including General Dynamics Land Systems, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense and GM Defense are investing millions into rapidly maturing hybrid and electric technologies at a time when the Army has begun to take climate change seriously, evidenced in recent months by the release of its Climate Strategy and Climate Strategy Implementation Plan.

(View our full coverage of the AUSA Annual Meeting 2022.)

The Missile Defense Agency has selected the Army's A4 Sentinel radar and the Homeland Defense Radar-Guam as the two sensors that will combine efforts -- linked by a new capability that bridges separate Army and Navy command and control systems -- to monitor skies around Guam:

Guam radar blueprint calls for 10 sensors by 2027; initial capability on island by 2024

The Pentagon has locked in a sensor architecture for the U.S. military's new counterair and missile defense system slated for Guam that will be composed of a newly minted Army radar and a land-based Navy variant of technology derived from a towering Space Force array that is due to become operational soon.

A recent Government Accountability Office report recommends the Army "revise its governing documents" on ammunition procurement and production:

Army agrees to revise governing documents for ammunition procurement and production

The Army has agreed to revise its governing documents that concern the procurement and production of ammunition, following an audit by the Government Accountability Office that found the guidance was out of date by 18 years.

Document: GAO report on Army ammo procurement, production practices

Redesigning the battery on the Navy's Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle is what led to program delays:

Boeing says XLUUV delays primarily caused by battery redesign

Delays in the Navy's large robotic submarine program were caused by a new battery design and supply chain issues due to the global pandemic.

A need to upscale employees within the Defense Information Systems Agency's Hosting and Compute Center was identified months ago:

DISA fleshes out plans for 'technician of the future' workforce training effort

The Defense Information Systems Agency is working to roll out a series of pilot programs and bring on a chief learning officer as officials aim to bolster their workforce's skill set through a soon-to-be widely deployed "technician of the future" training initiative.

By Michael Marrow
October 17, 2022 at 12:26 PM

The Space Force is seeking a range of space vehicles for its Space Test Experimental Platform 2.0 program, according to a draft request for proposals posted by the service today.

The RFP specifies that the STEP 2.0 program office intends to issue a multiple-award, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with separate delivery orders that will have “the ability to execute DOs aligning payload, space vehicle, and launch vehicle schedules.”

According to the RFP, the spacecraft for delivery orders will range in size from 12U CubeSats to Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter class or “any size in between.”

The program office will define payload requirements within delivery orders, the RFP adds, and the spacecraft will operate in either low-earth or geosynchronous orbit as a class D system.

Officials previously announced a virtual industry day for STEP 2.0, which stated that vendors would be responsible to construct the spacecraft, provide payload and launch integration and supply on-orbit services for a minimum of 365 days. Though originally planned for Oct. 25-26, the event is now scheduled for Oct. 25-27.

The spacecraft will conduct technological and scientific experiments that will be overseen by the Innovation and Prototyping Acquisition Delta at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, the industry day announcement states.

Following the Oct. 25-27 industry day, officials will publish a revised draft RFP to seek feedback from vendors before posting a final RFP at an unspecified date, the draft STEP 2.0 solicitation says.

By Nick Wilson
October 17, 2022 at 11:22 AM

The Marine Corps has adjusted operations guidance for its Amphibious Combat Vehicle, halting all water operations involving surf zone transit after a training accident last week.

According to a service press release, an ACV was performing routine training exercises near Camp Pendleton, CA, on Thursday evening, when a mechanical malfunction occurred and the vehicle tipped over in surf. Three crew members were unharmed.

The service announced an investigation into the incident and said it will maintain the suspension of ACV surf zone transit until it can perform additional data collection and analysis.

The suspension applies only to surf zone operations -- ACVs will continue operating on land and in the open ocean.

“We’re taking a deliberate and methodical approach to fielding this platform,” Lt. Gen. David Furness, deputy commandant for plans, policies, and operations, said in a statement included in the release. “This adjustment to current guidance ensures our Marines have the ability to safely train and maintain proficiency with the platform while we work to conduct additional testing.”

Earlier this year, all ACV waterborne operations were paused following a training incident in which two ACVs capsized. The Marine Corps resumed waterborne operations in September after establishing new safety guidance.

The ACV will replace the legacy Amphibious Assault Vehicle, which was permanently banned from waterborne operations in December, but continues to operate on land. In 2020, eight Marines and one sailor were killed when an AAV sank during a training exercise.

ACV maker BAE Systems is on pace to increase production from five to nine vehicles per month by FY-25. The Marine Corps is closely monitoring schedule risks that could delay production.

The Navy requested $536.6 million to procure 74 ACVs in its fiscal year 2023 budget, after acquiring 83 of the vehicles in FY-22.

By Tony Bertuca
October 17, 2022 at 11:04 AM

The Defense Department will be sending $725 million in military aid to Ukraine, including additional ammunition for long-range artillery systems.

The aid package, first announced Friday night, is being provided via presidential “drawdown” authority and will be transferred directly from U.S. stocks. It is the 23rd such transfer to Ukraine since August 2021.

The package includes:

- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)

- 23,000 155 mm artillery rounds

- 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds

- 5,000 155 mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems

- 5,000 anti-tank weapons

- High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARMs)

- More than 200 humvees

- Small arms and more than 2,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition

- Medical supplies

In total, the United States has committed $17.6 billion since the beginning of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.

By Briana Reilly
October 17, 2022 at 10:47 AM

Members of the soon-to-reconvene Defense Innovation Board will include a former lawmaker, ex-military service acquisition chief, a prior intelligence community official and more, Inside Defense has learned.

Those individuals are among the seven appointees to the newly reinstated DIB, which will be led by former New York Mayor and presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg and is set to meet for the first time today in two years.

The members, according to a list obtained by Inside Defense, are:

  • Mac Thornberry, former ranking member and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and current CAE Board of Directors member.
  • Will Roper, a former Air Force acquisition chief who now serves as a senior adviser at McKinsey and Co., in addition to teaching at Georgia Tech.
  • Susan Gordon, the former principal deputy director of national intelligence and deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. She is now on the boards of CACI International, Avantus Federal, MITRE and BlackSky.
  • Retired Adm. Michael Mullen, who previously served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and chief of naval operations.
  • Ryan Swann, the chief data analytics officer for Vanguard and previous director of data analytics for the General Services Administration's Office of Government-Wide Policy.
  • Gilda Barbarino, the president of the Olin College of Engineering who previously served as dean of the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York.
  • Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and Inflection AI, who is also a partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Greylock.

The DIB is poised to meet in a closed-to-the-public meeting from noon to 3:45 p.m. Eastern Time today, according to a Federal Register notice from late last week. The public portion of the board’s meeting will begin at 4 p.m. Eastern Time, per a previously posted LinkedIn event notice.

Despite the impending gathering, the board’s membership hadn’t yet been publicly announced. Politico first reported on the panel’s appointees this morning. DIB and other advisory committees previously saw their operations paused after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in winter 2021 directed a so-called "zero-based review" of the Pentagon's panels.

It is unclear which areas board members may want to focus on, with the Federal Register notice only spotlighting “senior DOD leaders' defense innovation priorities and challenges and the broader innovation and national security landscape” as part of the closed session portion of events.

But in the lead-up to today’s meeting, there has been a strong congressional focus on the four-decade-old Small Business Innovation Research and complementary Small Business Technology Transfer programs -- areas in which Roper has experience. During his tenure at the Air Force, he oversaw efforts to open up and streamline those programs by seeking to target first-time commercial vendors and bring them into the military technology space.

That includes the addition of an “open topics” approach that seeks to give companies the ability to pitch their solutions to military problems. Lawmakers during the most recent SBIR and STTR reauthorization debate -- the first since open topics were implemented -- worked to expand their adoption across military components as part of their compromise three-year extension plan that avoided a programmatic lapse.

But SBIR underwent further changes under Roper’s watch at the Air Force, including an effort to help the program bridge the so-called acquisition “valley of death” by shepherding awardees from phase II to III of SBIR through the supplemental Strategic Funding Increase. STRATFI bolsters the dollar value of phase II contracts and enables prototype production, which challenging Air Force officials to think of themselves as investors and “less like an acquirer or procurer,” as Roper previously told Inside Defense.

The panel, formerly chaired by Eric Schmidt, the past chief executive officer of Google, is tasked with providing “strategic insights and recommendations on technology and innovation to address the Department’s highest national security priorities,” the Pentagon previously noted.