The Insider

By John Liang
October 25, 2010 at 9:03 PM

A new Congressional Research Service report has taken a deep look into the workings of the National Security Council. The report evaluates each council and its role under every president from the Truman administration in 1947 through the present.

As for its evaluation of the Obama administration, the report, highlighted this morning in the Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy News blog, notes that in May 2009, the administration announced the integration of the staffs of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council into a single National Security Staff (NSS).

"The position of assistant to the president for homeland security, currently filled by John Brennan, will be retained 'with direct and immediate access' to the president, but the incumbent would organizationally report to the national security adviser," according to CRS. Further:

In the initial months of the Obama Administration, several steps have been taken to modify and enhance the role of the National Security Council. The integration of NSC and Homeland Security Council staffs may work to overcome the intelligence and law enforcement divide that many observers believe existed prior to 9/11. It may also facilitate closer cooperation of Federal agencies and state, local, and tribal entities in dealing with homeland security issues. These relationships are, however, complex and derive from separate statutory missions; observers suggest that establishing new organizational entities can affect, but not determine, the ability of different agencies to share information and cooperate on operational planning and programs. The relationships among the relevant senior officials and the role of the President will remain crucial. The Obama Administration has not had to contend with major public disputes between the NSC and the State and Defense Departments, but there have been some complaints that Mr. Brennan has exercised an influence on intelligence activities that more properly belongs to the Director of National Intelligence.

By John Liang
October 25, 2010 at 8:26 PM

The Army has awarded Boeing a $247 million contract to begin low-rate initial production for the AH-64D Apache Block III helicopter, the company announced today. The contract, signed by the Pentagon on Oct. 22, covers production of eight Apache Block III helicopters in the Lot 1 configuration, according to a Boeing statement. Further:

An Acquisition Decision Memorandum signed by the Department of Defense on Oct. 7 authorized the program to enter the LRIP phase to produce 51 aircraft. The first LRIP delivery is scheduled for October 2011.

The Apache Block III helicopter enhances the capabilities of the combat-proven AH-64D Apache by delivering superior flight performance and dramatically increased networked communications capabilities.

"The road map for the Apache Block III program has been clearly defined and the U.S. Army and Boeing are successfully working together to provide these advanced attack helicopters to soldiers in the field," said Lt. Col. Dan Bailey, Apache Block III product manager for the Army.

"Working together throughout the Apache Block III program's system development and demonstration phase since 2006, the Army, Boeing and our industry teammates have achieved our objectives on cost and on schedule," said Scott Rudy, Apache Block III program manager for Boeing. "I'm confident that the team will continue to effectively apply its collective expertise as the program moves into the production phase."

The current Army acquisition objective is for 690 AH-64D Apache Block III aircraft. The helicopters will be assembled, flight tested and delivered from the Boeing Global Strike facility in Mesa.

Inside the Army reported on Oct. 4 that the ADM comes on the heels of a Sept. 27 milestone C decision for the Apache Block III programs, clearing them to enter into low-rate initial production. In addition, according to an Oct. 18 story:

Contracts for LRIP of the Apache Block III remanufacture program were anticipated in the weeks following milestone C approval. Contractors for the program include Boeing for the helicopter and base platform, and a joint venture between Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin called Longbow Ltd. for sensor systems.

The "anticipated first LRIP contract award with Boeing is being planned for [no later than] 15 Oct. 2010 based on congressional notification post-ADM," Bailey wrote to ITA. "The LRIP contract award for [Longbow Ltd.] is anticipated in December 2010."

Though Bailey did not discuss contract specifics, he did say it is expected to encompass the LRIP program, which is slated to cover 51 remanufactured aircraft.

The Apache Block III new-build aircraft will not be covered by these near-term contracts, however, because the Army does not plan to procure the first of them until fiscal year 2013. According to Bailey, a follow-on contract action will occur after a full-rate production decision in FY-12.

By Marcus Weisgerber
October 25, 2010 at 7:10 PM

As the old saying goes: Better late than never. Boeing and the Air Force finally hammed out the termination details of the E-10 multimission intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, which has resulted in the defense giant crediting the service $30 million.

While the official cancellation of the E-10 program came three years ago today, the two parties finalized it last week. “The Air Force is finalizing a termination for convenience of the government with The Boeing Co., Seattle, Wash., for -$64,652,791,” an Oct. 22 contract announcement states. “The modification will result in a credit to the government of $30,052,79.”

The E-10 was supposed to be a Boeing 767-based aircraft that would replace the E-3 Sentry, the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System and the RC-135 Rivet Joint. In 2003, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Raytheon a $215 million pre-system development and demonstration contract for E-10 aircraft and related integration work. As part of that contract, the service ordered a “green” 767 airliner.

But the service scaled the program back and eventually canceled the entire effort in 2007. As Inside the Air Force reported in August 2006:

Air Force officials are mulling plans to terminate the E-10A program as the service continues work on its fiscal year 2008 budget request, according to sources with knowledge of the thinking of service brass. The possibility of placing the embattled command and control aircraft program on the chopping block comes as service and Pentagon officials are looking to trim expenses. The Air Force, in its FY-07 budget blueprint, eliminated procurement funds for the E-10A program but left in place research and development dollars. Those R&D dollars were slated to be used for work on at least one E-10A plane, a plan that now appears in jeopardy, sources say.

After canceling the E-10 program, the 767 sat at a Boeing facility in Washington State for several years. In 2009, Flight Global reported that the government of Bahrain would acquire the aircraft for VIP transport.

By Thomas Duffy
October 25, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Since Oct. 1 the Pentagon comptroller's office has been using a new weapon in the fight to get its arms around the prickly problem of managing the Defense Department's finances. The Electronic Funds Distribution (EFD) system will replace many of the comptroller's stovepiped systems now in use. According to an Aug. 23 memo from the comptroller's shop that was just made publicly available:

The goal of the EFD system is to provide visibility, auditability, and traceability of appropriated funds distributed within DOD and to interface with components' funds distribution systems. The EFD system will distribute and manage budget authority for defense-wide military departments and appropriations using a web-based application. Specifically, the capabilities of the EFD system include: distributing budget authority to the components, managing recissions and continuing resolutions, and reprogramming/transferring budget authority as needed to support changes in funding priorities throughout the year.

Last week, Inside the Pentagon explained some of the problems the comptroller's shop is having in tracking where the dollars go and how it won't meet a Nov. 15 deadline for what was to be the first audit of the military's -- the Marine Corps in this case -- books. That story is here.

By Carlo Muñoz
October 22, 2010 at 8:53 PM

The Army is looking for ways to better protect soldiers on the ground from improvised explosive devices, according to a recently released notice to industry.

Looking to pursue near-term solutions based on existing technologies, Army officials want to field systems that will help ground troops detect "pressure plate" IEDs, as well as those set off by command and trip wires, the notice states. With a 300-meter radius, the system must be man-portable, able to operate nonstop for six hours and able to survive the unforgiving terrain in Afghanistan.

The notice comes shortly after Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, director of the Joint IED Defeat Task Force, announced the service's efforts to use unmanned ground sensors to detect IEDs has largely been ineffective."The local population is able to detect them almost as rapidly as we can put them in,” he said during an Oct. 20 briefing in Arlington, VA. “That has not panned out to be as effective as many people thought it might be.”

However, the three-star general did note that ground commanders have voiced an an increased need for unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct counter IED operations, as reported this week. “Their application to the counter-IED fight is enormous," he said. UAVs, Oates noted, can carry a range of payload packages that aid communication over mountain ranges in Afghanistan, and provide full-motion video at lower tactical levels.

By Christopher J. Castelli
October 22, 2010 at 8:03 PM

Today at the Marine Corps Barracks on Capitol Hill, Gen. James Amos officially took over as Marine Corps commandant as his predecessor, Gen. James Conway, stepped down from the role. Over the next four years, Amos' knowledge of the workings of the Pentagon and Washington will keep the Marine Corps "competitive" in a "resource-constrained environment," Conway predicted.

In a reference to an ongoing force structure review, Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted Amos will lead an effort to "look hard" at the role of the Marine Corps. "They need to preserve both their maritime soul and the hard-won counterinsurgency skills they've developed during this past decade," Gates said. No mention was made of procurement programs such as the troubled Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

The audience for the outdoor ceremony was packed with senior defense officials, top brass and retired Marine Corps leaders, including Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn; Pentagon policy chief Michèle Flournoy; Navy Secretary Ray Mabus; former Navy Secretary Donald Winter; U.S. Central Command chief Gen. James Mattis; the service chiefs; retired Gen. Peter Pace, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and retired Gen. James Jones, the former Marine commandant who recently stepped down as White House national security adviser.

By Carlo Muñoz
October 22, 2010 at 7:12 PM

The White House plans to cut off funding and support for a number of Pakistani Army units accused of killing prisoners and civilians during counterterrorism operations against the Taliban, according to a recent report in The New York Times. The administration's efforts are driven by mandates in the Leahy Amendment, which states the United States must cut off any foreign military assistance to any country accused of human rights violations, the article states.

Earlier this year, a videotape showing men dressed in Pakistani Army uniforms executing six civilians at an undisclosed location was released on the Internet. Even though an official inquiry into the incident was launched by Pakistani Army chief Gen. Asgfaq Kayani, The United States opted to withdraw its support for Pakistani forces, as mandated by U.S. law.

While ongoing joint counterterror operations between Pakistani troops and U.S. Special Operations Forces in the Swat Valley and South Warziristan will likely be affected by the move, the White House's decision could also derail a proposed sale of unmanned aerial vehicles to Islamabad.

In April, reported that Pentagon officials and their Pakistani counterparts were working a new slate of requirements to identify which unmanned aerial system being used by U.S. forces in Afghanistan will be sold to the Pakistani military.

Tactical-level drones -- particularly the Army's Shadow unmanned aerial system -- were among the many capabilities Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani requested during a meeting with DOD officials in Washington, a senior defense official told reporters during a March 29 Pentagon briefing."We are working with [the Pakistanis] right now in order to correctly identify the requirements and match the best [UAS] platform to their needs," the official said.

During a trip to Islamabad in January, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States was prepared to sell a dozen RQ-7 Shadow UAS to the Pakistani military.

By Dan Dupont
October 22, 2010 at 6:16 PM

The Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting begins Monday, and will be covering it in force. Stay tuned here and throughout the site for frequent updates from the Inside the Army staff and other contributors.

And look for the new Inside the Army, which will set the stage well for the Army's biggest event of the year.

By Carlo Muñoz
October 21, 2010 at 8:20 PM

In Kandahar, if you run, you will only die tired.

Recent successes by U.S. and NATO troops against Taliban forces in Kandahar province is due in no small part to the expanded use of a key Army precision missile system, according to commanders on the ground.

Increased use of the Army's High Mobility Artillery Rocket System against mid-level Taliban leaders has been critical to the advances made by coalition forces as part of the ongoing Kandahar offensive, according to a recent report in The New York Times. Use of the HIMARS has been so successful that many Taliban leaders have been forced to seek safe haven across the border in Pakistan, according to the article.

Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the British commander of NATO forces in Southern Afghanistan, told the Times that the devastating HIMARS strikes have given coalition troops the initiative in the ongoing Kandahar campaign. "We broke their neck," said Hajji Niaz Muhammad, the local police chief of the Arghandab district north of Kandahar.

In May, Inside the Army reported that the HIMARS system was one of the few bright spots in the Army and Pentagon's acquisition portfolio.

The weapon system was identified as a stable, on-track program for the ground service, according to a May 6 Government Accountability Office report. GAO said the design and requirements for HIMARS were also "well-understood and realistic from the outset," with rapid transportability, commonality maximization and use of existing hardware as key goals for program officials.

And with the subsequent cancellation of the service's Crusader artillery program, the HIMARS took on greater importance to Army operations, the report stated.

By Jason Sherman
October 20, 2010 at 7:09 PM

The Pentagon today notified Congress of a $60.5 billion package of potential arms sales to Saudi Arabia, a virtual bonanza for U.S. defense contractors that would feature 84 new F-15s and a fleet of 166 helicopters, including scores of attack and utility rotorcraft and associated gear, spare parts, and service support contracts.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which handles foreign military sales for the Pentagon, announced details of the potential deals in four separate statements.

The potential F-15SA deal -- worth $29.4 billion -- includes new aircraft as well as upgrades to the Royal Saudi Air Force's fleet of 70 F-15S aircraft to the F-15SA configuration, 170 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESA) sets, 193 F-110-GE-129 engines, and substantial inventory of weaponry including bomb, sophisticated missile, and precision guided munitions.

According to the DSCA statement:

For the past twenty years the F-15 has been a cornerstone of the relationship between the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and the RSAF. The procurement of the F-15SA, the conversion of the F-15S fleet to a common configuration, and the CONUS training contingent will provide interoperability, sustained professional contacts, and common ground for training and support well into the 21st century.

The F-15SA will help deter potential aggressors by increasing Saudi’s tactical air force capability to defend KSA against regional threats. The CONUS-based contingent would improve interoperability between the USAF and the RSAF. This approach will meet Saudi’s self-defense requirements and continue to foster the long-term military-to-military relationship between the United States and the KSA. Saudi Arabia, which currently has the F-15 in its inventory, will have no difficulty absorbing the F-15SA aircraft into its armed forces.

A second batch of aircraft, potentially worth $25.6 billion, would include 36 AH-64D Block III Apache helicopters, 72 UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters 36 HA-6i Light Attack Helicopters and 12 MD-530F Light Turbine Helicopters, according to the announcement. This deal could include trainers, simulators, munitions and assorted other equipment, according to the statement, which also says:

The Saudi Arabian National Guard will use the AH-64D for its national security and protecting its borders and oil infrastructure. The proposed sale will provide for the defense of vital installations and will provide close air support for the Saudi military ground forces. This sale also will increase the Saudi National Guard’s APACHE sustainability and interoperability with the U.S. Army, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and other coalition forces. Saudi Arabia will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.

In addition, DSC announced two additional potential sales, both for AH-64D Apache helicopters, one for 24 aircraft and associated equipment worth $3.3 billion, and a second for 10 aircraft and associated gear worth $2.2 billion.

By Marcus Weisgerber
October 20, 2010 at 2:23 PM

U.S. Aerospace announced this morning that it will accept a Government Accountability Office ruling that the Air Force properly disqualified the small California-based defense company and Ukrainian partner Antonov from the KC-X tanker competition.

GAO ruled last week that the company submitted its bid late, which bars the Air Force from reviewing its proposal. The company had alleged that it was intentionally delayed at the security gate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, where the bids for the $35 billion competition were due in July.

In a release today, U.S. Aerospace stated:

After comprehensive discussions of the Government Accountability Office's decision, including the advise of counsel that there are substantial legal grounds to proceed in court, the Company has determined that it will not continue to pursue its bid to supply the U.S. Air Force with its next generation of aerial refueling tankers.

“America's service men and women have been forced to wait too long for new tankers,” commented CEO Jim Worsham. “We feel a deep responsibility for their safety and ability to fulfill the important missions our nation calls upon them to perform, they must always remain our top priority.”

The Company intends to continue to bid on projects for the U.S. Department of Defense, and looks forward to actively pursuing both military and commercial opportunities beneficial to U.S. Aerospace, Inc. and its strategic international partners.

In an Oct. 6 ruling, GAO said its attorneys concluded that “the U.S. Aerospace proposal to build the KC-X tanker was received after the deadline for the receipt of proposals. Consequently the Air Force acted appropriately in rejecting the proposal.”

As reported earlier this month:

GAO ruled that U.S. Aerospace “offers no evidence to support its assertion other than its messenger’s representations regarding the timing of events prior to proposal submission, and the messenger’s conclusion that 'the proposal was submitted by 2 p.m.,'” the protest decision states.

By Christopher J. Castelli
October 20, 2010 at 3:43 AM

Since Inside the Pentagon broke big news last week about management problems at Northrop Grumman's shipyard in Newport News, VA, we've learned from the Defense Contract Management Agency that Newport News is noncompliant with 16 of the Pentagon's 32 rules for earned value management.

ITP asked Northrop CEO and President Wes Bush about the issue today. From our story:

"That is an area where all of the companies in the industry, I would say, are going through a fairly rigorous process together with our government customers, to make sure that comprehensively across the company, all of the systems really measure up to the standards that the department has established,” Bush said.

In April, focused reviews of Northrop's Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, MS, and General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine determined both contractors have "high-risk" processes for earned value management. The problems are not confined to shipyards. This month, the Defense Department revoked the management certification for the Lockheed Martin division that builds the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, citing longstanding problems.

“I think just about all of the companies in our industry are doing very well at EVMS overall, but we all tend to have a few spots where we've got to do better,” Bush said. “So I would not characterize our situation as representing an unusual concern or risk; it's more in the category of continuous process improvement to make sure we're demonstrating excellence in EVMS across the whole board.”

And down in southern Virginia, two big newspaper rivals -- The Virginian-Pilot and The Daily Press -- have followed up our reporting with stories of their own. Click here and here to read them.

By Cid Standifer
October 19, 2010 at 6:10 PM

The Navy will soon try taking biofuels up creeks and waterways on the experimental riverine command boat, according to an announcement from Naval Sea Systems Command.

NAVSEA's advanced fuels program office will test an RCB-X at full power using an alternative fuel this Friday in Norfolk, VA, the press release says. NAVSEA spokesman Alan Baribeau said the boat will run off a mix of 50-percent algae-based biofuel and 50-percent NATO F76 marine diesel fuel.

At the Navy Energy Forum last week, Rear Adm. Thomas Eccles said that NAVSEA may focus on algae-based fuels rather than the camelina fuel that was used for testing on the F/A-18 “Green Hornet.”

"We're going through the process now of [setting] requirements on that fuel, even at a premium, and then demonstrating it, sometimes at sea but generally on land first, and in prototypical ways qualifying fuels with engines," he said. "We started small and we're working our way up."

Testing on a boat used to patrol Navy yards, an air-cushioned landing craft and an aircraft carrier emergency diesel generator is scheduled to follow later this fiscal year. In fiscal year 2012, the Navy plans to test biofuels on its Self-Defense Test Ship.

Vice Adm. William Burke, deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics, told Inside the Navy last week that the jury is still out on whether algae and camelina are the optimal biofuel feedstocks for meeting the service's needs.

“I don't know what the other options are right now, but I guess my point is that I don't know that camelina and algae are the holy grail,” he said. “We're not going to use those to replace 50 percent of our fuel supply. They'll be a part of it, and hopefully there will be other options that present themselves . . . whether they're bio or synthetic or whatever they might be.”
By Jason Sherman
October 19, 2010 at 2:59 PM

U.K. Prime Minster David Cameron today announced results of a major defense review, widely reported in British press in recent days, an assessment that calls for scrapping purchases of the F-35B, the short-takeoff and landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, and buying the F-35C, the aircraft-carrier variant of the JSF.

The review also calls for terminating the Nimrod surveillance aircraft program, retiring the Harrier jump-jet fleet, cutting the defense budget by 8 percent while bolstering investments in cybersecurity and unconventional warfare capabilities, Cameron told Parliment this afternoon in London.

By Jason Sherman
October 18, 2010 at 8:35 PM

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is schedule on Tuesday afternoon in London to unveil the results of Britain's strategic defense and security review -- an assessment expected to detail changes in procurement plans and force structure driven by future reductions in military spending.

In anticipation of announcing the results of that review, Cameron's government today unveiled a new National Security Strategy that ranks the highest priorities for the U.K.'s national security as terrorism, cyber attack, “major natural hazards” and accidents; and “international military crises.”

The war in Afghanistan will remain Britain's top priority as long as its troops are deployed there, according to the strategy.

In a letter to Parliament accompanying the new report, Cameron said:

The United Kingdom faces a complex array of threats from a myriad of sources.

The National Security Strategy describes the strategic context within which these threats arise, and how they may develop in the future.

It describes Britain's place in the world as an open, outward-facing nation whose political, economic and cultural authority far exceeds our size. Our national interest requires our continued full and active engagement in world affairs, promoting our security, our prosperity and our values.

Our objectives are a secure and resilient United Kingdom, and shaping a stable world. In pursuit of these goals, our highest priorities are tackling terrorism, cyber security, international military crises and national disasters such as floods and pandemics.

We will draw together and use all the instruments of national power to tackle these risks, including the Armed Forces, diplomats, intelligence and development professionals, the police, the private sector and the British people themselves.

The National Security Strategy, together with the measures in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, will enable us to protect our security and advance our interest in the world.