The Insider

By Dan Dupont
June 15, 2011 at 6:52 PM

Robert Gates took to Capitol Hill today for the last time as defense secretary, dropping a bit of news on war costs in response to a question about Afghanistan:

[T]his is not a war without end. The Lisbon summit has made clear that the transfer to Afghan security responsibility and leadership will be complete not later than the end of 2014. Troops will be coming down during that period. The costs of these wars is coming down dramatically. The costs of these wars will drop between '11 -- FY '11 and '12 by $40 billion and between '12 and '13 probably by several tens of billions of dollars more.

Gates got around to the discussion of war costs in a roundabout way, responding to a question from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) about Pakistan and its willingness, or lack thereof, to help the United States combat terrorists. Leahy noted the news today that "our putative ally" -- Pakistan -- "arrested five people under the suspicion that they helped the United States to get Osama bin Laden, after publicly saying, of course, they wanted us to get Osama bin Laden." He added that "we could overlook the problem in Pakistan if the Afghan government were any better," then asked Gates, "how long do we support governments that lie to us? When do we say enough is enough?"

Gates' response began with this quip:

Well, first of all, I would say based on 27 years in CIA and four-and-a-half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.

By Christopher J. Castelli
June 15, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn and Brett Lambert, the Pentagon's manufacturing and industrial policy chief, will attend the 49th Paris Air Show later this month, but defense acquisition chief Ashton Carter and his deputy, Frank Kendall, will not be attending, Defense Department spokesman Col. David Lapan said.

Maj. Gen. Clyde Moore, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter deputy program executive officer, will attend the event but no JSF aircraft will be there, Lapan said. The show is scheduled for June 20 to 26.

By Jason Sherman
June 14, 2011 at 7:30 PM

The House Appropriations Committee, in a report accompanying its fiscal year 2012 defense spending bill, appears exasperated at DOD for not providing lawmakers a list of recently eliminated reporting requirements, which the Pentagon estimates will save $250 million in FY-12. The report, published on June 13, states:

The Committee has repeatedly requested a list of these reports which will be eliminated, as well as an explanation of the derivation of the savings estimate, but the Department has yet to supply the list or explain the derivation of the estimate.

Yet, on March 31, Defense Secretary Robert Gates directed the cancellation of 386 reports generated in accordance with internal Defense Department directives, publications, instructions as well as other processes such as strategic guidance and the Quadrennial Defense Review.

The main page of the DOD Issuances Web site features a prominent section called “2011 Internal Report Cancellation” that links to specific details on each of the eliminated reporting requirements.

By Dan Dupont
June 14, 2011 at 6:22 PM

The Pentagon today announced two key personnel moves:

Richard T. Ginman has been assigned as director, defense procurement and acquisition policy, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Washington, D.C. Ginman previously served as deputy director, program acquisition and contingency contracting, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Washington, D.C.

Edward R. Greer has been assigned as deputy assistant secretary of defense (developmental test and evaluation)/director, test resource and management center, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Washington, D.C. Greer previously served as director, developmental test and evaluation, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), Washington, D.C.

By John Liang
June 14, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Lockheed Martin's space systems business unit just announced it plans to lay off approximately 1,200 workers by the end of this year.

According to a company statement, the layoffs are "designed to address affordability and improve its competitive posture." Further:

Space Systems, which currently employs approximately 16,000 employees in 12 states, will implement a broad-based workforce reduction of roughly 1,200 employees by year-end. It is anticipated that middle management will be reduced by 25 percent, with significantly smaller percentage impacts in other levels and disciplines.

Operations across the country will be affected, with the largest impact expected at the company's sites in Sunnyvale, Calif., the Delaware Valley region of Pennsylvania, and Denver, Colo., where several of the company's major programs are transitioning out of development.

Joanne Maguire, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, said, "In today's economic environment, we have two choices: make painful decisions now or pay a greater price down the road. This is a difficult but necessary action to improve efficiencies and make our business more competitive going forward. We will remain relentlessly focused on achieving operational excellence and mission success for our customers as we position to deliver more affordably in the future."

Space Systems will offer eligible salaried employees an opportunity for a voluntary layoff to minimize the number of involuntary layoffs that will occur. The company also will provide career transition support to those affected by this workforce reduction.

By Dan Dupont
June 14, 2011 at 4:55 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee today approved the nomination of CIA Director Leon Panetta for the position of defense secretary, sending his name to the Senate floor, where he is expected to easily win confirmation.

"It was a unanimous voice vote," the panel said in a statement.

By John Liang
June 14, 2011 at 4:10 PM

In a speech yesterday at a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference on Colombia, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg highlighted an effort developed under former President Clinton to address drug trafficking, civil war and economic stagnation in the South American country. That "Plan Colombia" holds lessons for the United States in handling conflicts in other parts of the world, Steinberg said, adding:

I think that the biggest success of Plan Colombia, what we’ve done together . . . is, first, we had a strong bipartisan basis for this in the United States. And on the big challenges, whether it’s providing security and moving forward on social inclusion in Colombia or dealing with democratic transformation in the Middle East, these things don’t happen overnight. They require a sustained commitment of both policy and resources to make it happen. And there needs to be a sense among all the parties that you’re in it for the long term. If you don't have that, then people will game the system because they'll assume it's a flash in the pan or that the kinds of benefits -- the costs are often upfront in -- or front-loaded and the benefits are in the long term. . . .

That's what we did in Plan Colombia. We were able to be convincing because we had bipartisan support, because there was a strong commitment to what we could do this; it wasn't one congressional session or one presidential administration. Those are hard to do. . . . But when it's done, it's America at its finest. And I think that's something that we all need to focus on is how do we build these strong commitments that have the support of both parties -- the people as well as government, and in both countries -- to sustain these kinds of long-term challenges. And the fact that we've done it together in Colombia, I think shows it can be done and that can give people some confidence and encouragement to look for ways to replicate that.

For some background on Plan Colombia, check out's coverage from a few years ago:

RAND: Military Aid To Colombia Sparked Surge In Small Arms Trafficking

SOUTHCOM Chief Gives Positive Report On U.S. Military Aid To Colombia

DOD Appeals Funding Cuts In Counternarcotics Aid To Colombia

Lawmakers Reject Proposal To Cut U.S. Military Aid To Colombia

U.S. Government Deals Helicopters, New Aid Restrictions To Colombia

Lawmakers Suggest Expansion Of Security Assistance To Colombia

Lawmakers Await Bush Administration Plan After Colombia Resolution

By John Liang
June 13, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Frank Rose earlier today spoke about U.S. space policy during a trip to the Czech Republic. In his speech, he highlighted "conducting regular Space Security Dialogues with both established, as well as emerging, space-faring nations." Specifically:

This is important not only for our broader national security and foreign policy concerns, but also in carrying out our diplomacy and public diplomacy responsibilities under the President’s National Space Policy. A key stimulus to establishing these dialogues was the collision of a commercial Iridium communications satellite and an inoperable Russian Cosmos military satellite in February 2009. This collision -- and China’s 2007 anti-satellite test -- created significant amounts of dangerous debris in low Earth orbit and further increased the future risks to human spaceflight and satellite services. Consistent with legal and policy requirements, the United States Strategic Command, known as USSTRATCOM, has begun to provide notifications of potential orbital collision hazards to all government and private sector satellite operators. . . .

For example, over the past year, USSTRATCOM’s Joint Space Operations Center, or JSpOC, has provided Russia with 252 notifications and China with 147 notifications regarding close approaches between satellites. Furthermore, notifications have been provided to government and commercial owners/operators approximately 677 times since May 2010 due to Chinese ASAT debris alone. After receiving those and other notifications, satellite owners and operators maneuvered their satellites over a hundred times in low Earth orbit since the beginning of 2010. Such notifications are themselves an important confidence building measure, and they also provide the basis for pursuit of other bilateral TCBMs in diplomatic, military-to-military, and scientific channels. Another example of a TCBM is conducting familiarization visits of satellite control centers such as the JSpOC. The United States actively conducts these reciprocal visits and looks forward to hosting Russia later this year at the JSpOC at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

By Jason Sherman
June 10, 2011 at 9:10 PM

The House Appropriations Committee, in its mark of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2012 spending bill, proposes cutting $100 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's spending request, a reduction lawmakers believe is equal to cost savings that will be produced by corporate strategies designed to improve efficiency.

The DARPA director, according to documents reviewed by, would be directed by the committee to prepare a report detailing how the panel's proposed reduction would be spread across the agency.

By John Liang
June 10, 2011 at 8:38 PM

The House Appropriations Committee is concerned over a possible dependence on foreign countries like China for rare earth materials used in U.S. weapon systems, according to a document reviewed by

Rare earth materials are in a myriad of advanced weapon systems and equipment, and many lawmakers believe the United States should maintain significant domestic supplies.

Consequently, the panel wants the defense secretary to reconstitute a U.S.-based rare-earth materials supply chain, according to the document.

In March, Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced a "resource assessment of rare earths" bill, which directed the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct a three-year, comprehensive global mineral assessment of rare earth elements.

By Christopher J. Castelli
June 10, 2011 at 8:32 PM

House appropriators are concerned that the Pentagon continues to underfund its corrosion mitigation and prevention requirements, according to a document reviewed by

The lawmakers want the Defense Department to invest more in these efforts to better protect the nation's investment in military equipment and to keep a lid on maintenance and replacement costs for weapons and infrastructure. Addressing the problem requires gleaning more lessons from the latest research on preventing, reducing and treating corrosion, the lawmakers argue.

By Jordana Mishory
June 9, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Panetta told senators today that if confirmed as the next defense secretary one of the first things he plans to do is find a way to speed up the Pentagon's push to become audit-ready.

The Defense Department has failed to comply with a 1990 law mandating all federal agencies be audited. Congress has recently mandated that DOD become audit-ready by 2017.

During his confirmation hearing this morning before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Panetta said he was concerned when he found out the Pentagon wouldn't reach its audit-readiness goal for another six years.

“We should be able to audit the department,” Panetta said. “If confirmed, one of the first things I'm going to do is see if we can't take steps to improve upon that time table.”

His comments in the hearing echoed his response to policy questions sent to him in advance. In his response, Panetta wrote that “achieving clean-audit opinions is one of my top management improvement priorities. A clean financial audit opinion is important to demonstrate that DOD is a responsible steward of public funds and to ensure management has accurate and timely information for decision making.”

Panetta wrote that he expects senior leaders to work together to achieve audit readiness by the congressionally mandated deadline.

By Jason Sherman
June 9, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Panetta, a former Office of Management and Budget chief during the Clinton administration and a former House Budget Committee chairman, delivered this assessment on the future of Pentagon spending to Senate Armed Services Committee:

The days of large growth and unlimited defense budgets are over. Our challenge will be to design budgets, eliminate wasteful and duplicative spending, while protecting those core elements that we absolutely need for our nation's defense.

He added:

I do not believe, based on my long experience in government and working with budgets, that we have to choose between strong fiscal discipline and strong national defense. I don't deny there are going to be tough decisions that have to be made and tough choices that have to be made. But we owe it to our citizens to provide both strong fiscal discipline and a strong national defense.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, pressed Panetta to explain how much of the $400 billion the president wants cut from national security over 12 years will come from the Pentagon, and how much of those reductions would come in FY-12.

Panetta said he did not know the answer.

“Can you try to find that out for us, because we need to find that out, and give us an answer for the record?” Levin asked.

“I will certainly ask whether that decision has been made,” Panetta replied.

By Jason Sherman
June 9, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Panetta, asked during his confirmation hearing to be defense secretary about cost growth in the Pentagon's largest program -- the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, said: “I think we have to watch it very carefully.”

He added that, in light of the current fiscal environment, no weapons program will escape scrutiny. “I want to assure you that one of my responsibilities . . . is to take a very hard look at all weapon systems to make sure they are cost-effective and that they are, in the end, providing the very best equipment our forces need.”

In response to advance policy questions from the Senate Armed Services Committee, Panetta offered these views on the Pentagon's tactical fighter programs:

Perhaps the largest modernization effort that we will face over the next several years is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program to modernize our tactical aviation forces with fifth generation tactical aircraft equipped with stealth technology.

Based on current and projected threats, what are your views on the requirements for and timing of these programs?

I understand that the F-35 will replace a range of legacy tactical aircraft in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps with a fifth generation fighter. Based on the current and projected threats, I believe it is important 56

that we transition to a fifth generation tactical aviation capability across the U.S military services as soon as practical. I understand that one F-35 variant, the Marine Corps’ Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) F-35B is on “probation” while technical issues are addressed. Overall, I believe we should maintain sufficient legacy inventory to support the force structure needed to prevail in the wars we are currently engaged in, as well as in possible future conflicts, while we field the F-35.

What is your assessment of whether the restructuring of the JSF program that we have seen over the past two years will be sufficient to avoid having to make major adjustments in either cost or schedule in the future?

It is my understanding that the F-35 program restructure was intended to put the program on solid ground, with realistic development and production goals and significant reduction in concurrency. I support DoD’s current effort to focus on and reduce F-35 sustainment costs. If confirmed, I will review the overall F-35 program’s status and health.

By Jason Sherman
June 9, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Leon Panetta, CIA director and defense-secretary nominee, believes the United States is in a “blizzard war,” dealing with threats more complex, more dynamic and more intense than those managed during the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning, Panetta outlined his view of global challenges the nation faces:

This is a time of historic change. Unlike the Cold War when we had one main adversary, we face a multitude of challenges. AQ and other global terrorist networks in places like Yemen, Somalia, North Africa . . . [and] Pakistan. Dangerous enemies spread out across the world. We face insurgents and militants who cross borders to conduct attacks. We face the proliferation of of dangerous weapons in the hands of terrorists, in the hands of rogue nations. We face cyber attackers, a whole new arena of warfare than can take place not only now but in the future. It is something we have to pay attention to. We face the challenge of rising and changing powers, nations in turmoil, particularly in the Middle East -- undergoing enormous political transformation. We are no longer in the Cold War. This is more like the blizzard war, a blizzard of challenges that draws speed and intensity from terrorism, from rapidly developing technology, and the rising number of powers on the world stage.