The Insider

By Jason Sherman
October 5, 2010 at 7:30 PM

The F-35 program office is expected today to resolve a software glitch responsible for halting test flights last week, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters, adding that Defense Department leaders do not believe the issue to "be a serious setback."

Vice Adm. David Venlet, the F-35 program manager, said in a statement that the "aviation development process discovers technical challenges that force programs to pause, reassess, resolve, and continue. As always, our primary concern is safety."

Venlet's office last week suspended flights tests of all three F-35 variants until software that controls the flow of fuel into the engine's three fuel boost pumps could be corrected, Morrell said today.

The incorrect sequencing was discovered during laboratory testing. It could possibly trigger a shutdown of all three boost pumps, potentially further causing engine stall. Such a simultaneous shutdown is unlikely, but prudence dictated a suspension of operations until the fuel boost pump signal timing was corrected. A software update has been developed, and is planned to complete required functional and safety tests prior to installation in test aircraft beginning Tuesday, October 5th.

Morrell added: "This is precisely why we have a test program: to try to encounter problems early, fix them and move on from there."

By Carlo Muñoz
October 4, 2010 at 7:08 PM

Japanese military leaders are mulling plans to introduce the Northrop Grumman-built RQ-4 Global Hawk into its aviation fleet, according to recent news reports by the Japanese press. Citing unnamed government and military sources in Tokyo, the Kyodo News reported that senior officials with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) are looking to acquire three Global Hawks total. According to those sources, Japanese military officials want the unmanned aerial vehicles to keep tabs on China's growing military arsenal, as well as North Korea's burgeoning nuclear weapons program.

Inside the Air Force first reported plans of possible Global Hawk sales to Japan, as well as Australia, last month. A senior company official said that Japanese military leaders were considering a three- to four-plane buy, while the Australians were eying procurement of six to 10 Global Hawks modified for maritime use.

These efforts come shortly after the arrival of the first Global Hawk to U.S. Pacific Air Forces in September. The first of three RQ-4s arrived at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam on Sept 20.

When asked about the level of international interest on the RQ-4, particularly by the Australians and Japanese, Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle, commander of 13th Air Force -- who has command-and-control authority for all U.S. Pacific Command's air operations -- acknowledged that "there is international interest in the capabilities of this airplane," but declined to go into detail on specific countries.

By Sebastian Sprenger
October 4, 2010 at 5:44 PM

With fall approaching fast, Pentagon leaders are keeping a close eye on Turkey. Members of the high-powered Defense Policy Board met Sept. 13-14 at the Pentagon to “receive classified briefings and have discussions” on just that topic, according to a brief notice filed by the committee as a justification for keeping the meeting closed.

Participants included intelligence community folks, academic experts, U.S. European Command chief Adm. James Stavridis, the under secretaries for policy of the State and Defense departments and four former U.S. ambassadors to Turkey (sans Eric Edelman), according to the agenda. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was also scheduled to make an appearance.

“The committee concluded with a classified executive session and made recommendations to the secretary of defense,” DPB Chairman John Hamre wrote in a one-paragraph note, required by law even for closed meetings. There ends the information available to the public.

From what we're told, “economic growth, political development, NATO alliance, growing regional power -- how should we respond?” were some of the issues that came up. Of concern, says one person with knowledge of the matter, is the European Union's continued refusal to let Istanbul join its ranks -- a position that some U.S. officials fear could lead to country to align itself more and more with the Arab world instead of the West.

By Carlo Muñoz
October 1, 2010 at 6:09 PM

The Air Force's only unit solely dedicated to the support and execution of cyberwarfare operations came online today, according to a service statement.

Stood up under Air Force Space Command, the 24th Air Force will be the focal point for all component numbered air force responsibilities for cyberwarfare. Offensive and defensive cyberwarfare missions carried out by elements of the 24th will be "in support of combatant commanders for the Air Force's cyberspace mission," according to the statement. The 24th will also serve as the air service component for U.S. Cyber Command, it adds.

Air Force officials completed a readiness assessment issued by the service's major command chiefs on Sept 11, according to the statement. That review was the final milestone before the 24th could achieve full operational capability.

“We’re proud of this significant milestone and will continue to provide cyberspace capabilities to defend the Air Force portion of the network, meet U.S. Strategic Command requirements when tasked, and supply cyber-trained forces to combatant commanders to enable joint operations," Maj. Gen. Richard Webber, commander of the 24th Air Force, said.

Senior service leaders, under the direction of former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, had initially planned to create a new Air Force command to conduct cyber operations. But with Defense Secretary Robert Gates officially directing the creation of CYBERCOM, service leaders opted to abandon the command structure, and reorganize the effort as a numbered air force.

By John Liang
October 1, 2010 at 3:55 PM

And as is the case with the last day of every fiscal year, the Pentagon yesterday rushed to wrap up as many contract awards as it possibly could. Final count: Sixty-six contracts were included in the Sept. 30 Defense Department daily contracts list, with a cumulative value of more than $6 billion.

Among those awarded yesterday -- but not the largest deals -- were three contracts to develop technology for the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) S-band and radar suite controller (RSC). Northrop Grumman got $120 million, Lockheed Martin $119.2 million and Raytheon $112.3 million, according to DOD. Specifically:

AMDR is envisioned as a radar suite containing an S-band radar, an X-band radar and RSC and will be designed to be scalable to accommodate current and future mission requirements for multiple platforms. The AMDR-S will provide volume search, tracking, ballistic missile defense discrimination and missile communications. The AMDR-X will provide horizon search, precision tracking, missile communication and terminal illumination. The RSC will perform all coordination actions to ensure that both radars operate in concert in a widely diverse environment.

Hours before the contract announcement, Inside the Pentagon broke news about the way ahead for the AMDR program:

The Pentagon is advancing development of the Navy's Air and Missile Defense Radar while seeking new ways to coordinate the program with a key Air Force radar initiative, according to Defense Department, service and industry officials.

The Defense Department is poised to launch the AMDR program's technology development phase, paving the way for further contract awards while pressing to bolster ties with the Air Force's Space Fence program, Inside the Pentagon has learned.

The AMDR program is intended to meet integrated-air-and-missile-defense needs for multiple ship classes by developing a suite that includes an S-band radar (AMDR-S), an X-band radar (AMDR-X) and a Radar Suite Controller (RSC). The Space Fence program, meanwhile, is developing two to three ground-based, S-band sensors to better detect and track space junk orbiting Earth that can damage satellites. Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are involved in the early stages of both programs.

The Defense Acquisition Board, chaired by Pentagon procurement chief Ashton Carter, had been slated to hold a meeting in August to approve the AMDR program's entry into the technology development phase with a milestone A decision. But the board opted instead to endorse the move simply by issuing a memo, a fast-track approval process known as a "paper DAB."

"The AMDR milestone A DAB did go paper, based on the recommendations of the [overarching integrated product team]," Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin told ITP. Officials have been crafting the memo that will formalize the move.

By Jordana Mishory
October 1, 2010 at 3:04 PM

The post of Defense Department chief information officer is back up for grabs.

President Barack Obama has withdrawn his nomination of Teresa Takai for the CIO position, according to a statement the White House released Wednesday.

The post, which has been empty since John Grimes vacated it in spring 2009, is undergoing a major overhaul in light of the defense secretary's initiative to save $100 billion through efficiencies in the next five years.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates plans to disestablish the networks and information integration office, which the CIO post was tied to. According to a Sept. 1 memo from Gates' special assistant, the CIO functions are to be bolstered and transferred to the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Obama named Takai, California's chief information officer, in late March. She was removed from her planned confirmation hearing in August.

In other nomination news, Obama named Michael Vickers to replace James Clapper as the under secretary of defense for intelligence and Jo Ann Rooney to be the principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness. If confirmed, Rooney will succeed Michael Dominguez.

By Jason Sherman
September 30, 2010 at 9:40 PM

In a bid to preempt a Pentagon decision to terminate the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, a $15.5 billion program widely believed to be on the chopping block in the fiscal year 2012 budget review, Virginia's two senators today asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to permit the EFV program to complete development and testing before its fate is decided.

The letter from Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, both Democrats, reads:

We write today to urge you to allow the Marine Corps to complete development and testing of its Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) before deciding on the future of this important acquisition program.  Reliability testing at Camp Pendleton and the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground will be completed late this year or in early 2011.  The Marine Corps will be in a much better position to confirm if the EFV satisfies its performance requirements when this testing is completed.  Early indicators are said to be positive in most categories.

The EFV, the Marine Corps' highest acquisition priority, is designed to replace the 40-year old Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV).  A replacement for the antiquated AAV is a key enabler for the Marine Corps to perform one of its important roles as a multi-mission force in readiness. This month’s 60th anniversary of the Incheon landing during the Korean War reminds us that the locations and types of future Marine Corps operations cannot be predicted.  As General Amos noted during his recent confirmation hearing, amphibious forces have responded to crises at least 104 times in the past 20 years—more than double the rate experienced during the Cold War.

If current testing is completed satisfactorily, the EFV will fill a critical gap in providing the Marine Corps with an assured access capability from the sea during opposed and lower-risk operations.  Designed to achieve water speeds in excess of 25 knots and land speeds of up to 45 mph, the highly armored and well-armed EFV will provide the Navy’s amphibious ships the maneuver space and stand-off distance needed to counter anti-access weapons more effectively.

General Conway and many other Marine Corps leaders have repeatedly validated the Marine Corps’ requirement for the EFV.   We recognize that the EFV program has had a long and checkered history.  In the final analysis, it must satisfy affordability and performance requirements.  The results of this autumn’s testing should allow us to make a more informed assessment of the program’s ability to satisfy those goals, so we ask that you defer any final decision on the EFV’s future at this time.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has openly questioned the need for the EFV program, most recently in May, asking "what kind of new platform is needed to get large numbers of troops from ship to shore under fire?"

"We have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious landing again -- especially as advances in anti-ship systems keep pushing the potential launch point further from shore," Gates said May 3 in an address to the Navy League. "On a more basic level, in the 21st century, what kind of amphibious capability do we really need to deal with the most likely scenarios, and then how much?"

Gates has openly questioned the need for the EFV program, asking in May, "what kind of new platform is needed to get large numbers of troops from ship to shore under fire?"

"We have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious landing again -- especially as advances in anti-ship systems keep pushing the potential launch point further from shore," Gates said May 3 in an address to the Navy League. "On a more basic level, in the 21st century, what kind of amphibious capability do we really need to deal with the most likely scenarios, and then how much?"

By Jason Sherman
September 30, 2010 at 6:37 PM

Senior Pentagon and Taiwanese defense ministry officials will gather next week during a two-day conference sponsored by the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council in Cambridge, MD.

Wallace “Chip” Gregson, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, will deliver the keynote address on Monday night, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros told Andrew Yang, deputy defense minister for policy, will lead a five-person delegation from Taipei, according to a Taiwanese military official.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, says the U.S. government, Taiwan's government and the defense industry have effectively worked through all of the major weapon systems proposed for sale to Taiwan by the Bush administration in April 2001, including P-3 Orion aircraft and Kidd-class destroyers. Taiwan has not acted on a proposal for acquiring conventional submarines.

“Now the big question is, what's next?” said Hammond-Chambers.

Many believe the next big question is modernizing Taiwan's air defenses.

In February, the Defense Intelligence Agency provided Congress an assessment of Taiwan's air defense capabilities noting that the self-governing island, which Beijing regards as a break-away province, “recognizes that it needs a sustainable replacement for obsolete and problematic aircraft platforms.”

The report note that “in addition to pursuing a replacement airframe, Taiwan is also examining an upgrade to its F-16A/B aircraft and its IDF [F-CK-1A/B, Indigenous Defense Fighter] aircraft.”

By Pat Host
September 30, 2010 at 6:21 PM

The Pentagon should continue to invest in stealth aircraft because the technology remains among the most effective means of improving and ensuring aircraft survivability, according to Rebecca Grant, who today released an updated version of her 1998 report, "The Radar Game: Understanding Stealth and Aircraft Survivability." Grant is the director of the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies.

Noting that radar detection has improved since the debut of stealth aircraft during the Gulf War in the early 1990s, Grant told today that fifth-generation fighters are needed to combat the technology on the ground:

A lot of the earliest surface to air missiles were relatively shorter-range. We see now systems like the S-300 and S-400 series (surface-to-air missiles) (with) the ability to detect non-stealth aircraft at ranges of around 100 miles or more. So to just get close enough to be effective, you have to have a fifth-generation stealth aircraft. So that is why stealth is so important.

In irregular warfare, as in Afghanistan, the need for stealth technology has diminished. However, for possible future conflicts with traditional state actors like Venezuela, China or North Korea, Grant said modern stealth aircraft could be key:

Now integrated air defenses are sold very widely. Venezuela has purchased fairly modern systems. We see them on contract in Iran. So nearly any adversary we face is likely to have at least some of these systems. And the tier of adversaries we worry about, such as those with ballistic missiles, other things that we'd want to go in and defeat, are certain to have integrated air defenses as well.

In her foreword to the updated version, Grant writes:

Stealth remains at the forefront of design. One of the best signals about the ongoing value of stealth lies in new applications. Leading unmanned aerial vehicles for high-threat operations incorporate stealth. Navy ships have adopted some of its shaping techniques. Of course, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter remains the nation’s single biggest bet on future airpower.

Success in the radar game will continue to govern the value of airpower as a tool of national security. Many of America’s unique policy options depend upon it. When and if the SA-20 joins Iran’s air defense network, it will make that nation a considerably tougher environment for air attack, for example. Already there are regions of the world where only stealth aircraft can operate with a good chance of completing the mission.

In fact, stealth aircraft will have to work harder than ever. The major difference from 1998 to 2010 is that defense plans no longer envision an all-stealth fleet. The Air Force and joint partners will operate a mixture of legacy, conventional fighters and bombers alongside stealth aircraft even as the F-35s arrive in greater numbers. The radar game of 2020 and 2030 will feature a lot of assists and the tactics that go along with that.

By Cid Standifer
September 30, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Gen. James Amos has been approved by the Senate as the next commandant of the Marine Corps.

The vote last night came as no surprise, though Corps officials have been careful not to openly presume that the nomination would go through the Senate.

During his confirmation hearing on Sept. 21, when Amos began to answer a question, “If I become the 35th commandant,” Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) cut him off, saying, “You will, sir. There's no question about that.”

His nomination was included with 3,272 other nominations from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Amos will be the first aviator to take the helm of the service. He currently serves as current Commandant Gen. James Conway's assistant commandant.

Lt. Gen. Joseph Dunford has been confirmed as the future assistant commandant.

Corps sources have told Inside the Navy that they expect Amos to take the helm of the service near the end of October. Conway has told the press he plans to spend his retirement fishing and hunting.

By John Liang
September 30, 2010 at 3:31 PM

The top Democrat and Republican on the House Armed Services Committee want Defense Secretary Robert Gates to include "operational energy" in the Pentagon's nascent effort to find budgetary efficiencies in DOD operations.

In a letter Reps. Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Buck McKeon (R-CA) sent to Gates yesterday, the lawmakers write:

In 2009, operational energy accounted for 70 percent of all energy use by the Department of Defense at a cost of $9.34 billion, which makes it a prime area for achieving efficiencies. There are many options for achieving energy efficiencies and supplementing power through renewable energy alternatives, tactical waste-to-energy initiatives, insulation for structures, and other innovative ideas. For example, according to a U.S. Army briefing in July 2009, the average fuel consumption of a foamed building in Baghdad was 4,839 gallons per year as compared to an unfoamed building which used 10,690 gallons a year. This is a fuel savings of 55 percent. This low-technology solution results in significant and demonstrated cost savings, particularly in a region like Afghanistan where the Fully Burdened Cost of Fuel is more than $200 a gallon at isolated forward operating bases.

The focus on operational energy has been a sustained priority for our Committee, most notably recognized in our creating the position of Director of Operational Energy Plans and Programs in Section 139b of Title 10, United States Code. We commend the appointment and arrival of Ms. Sharon Burke as the new Director to provide leadership, conduct oversight, and be accountable for operational energy plans and programs in the Department of Defense and the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

While we understand the need to exercise great care when adopting new technologies and procedures in the midst of a conflict, we encourage you to seriously consider prudent ways to reduce the need for fuel on the battlefield. We believe there are ample opportunities and technological solutions to reduce our energy footprint in theater which will reduce the logistical and security burdens on our troops. As part of the broader effort to identify efficiencies within the Department, we request an update prior to delivery of the President’s fiscal year 2012 budget request detailing the Department's plan to reduce operational energy through technology and culture change, the approximate savings that may be achieved, approximate funding required, timeline for deployment, and cross-service efforts to maximize investments. We look forward to hearing greater detail on this critical issue.

By Pat Host
September 29, 2010 at 7:44 PM

At a congressional briefing today on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's aeronautics research and development, caught up with NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver after her speech and asked about NASA's commitment to biofuels and how they apply to national security.

"We are looking right now at biofuels with a couple different centers, and one of them is the Navy, specifically," Garver said. "There is a lot of commonality . . . We have, as a federal agency, committed to reducing our fuel consumption and costs and so we have to invest in alternatives."

Garver spent 20 minutes speaking about the importance of aeronautics research and development to continued U.S. innovation and competitiveness. She said NASA aeronautics R&D is "the very fuel of our economy."

By John Liang
September 29, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Senior Pentagon leaders have been making the congressional rounds this week hoping to persuade lawmakers to allow the Defense Department to find up to $100 million in efficiencies over the next few years. Yesterday, it was the Senate Armed Services Committee. Today, it's the House's turn. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Buck McKeon (R-CA) said in his opening statement this morning that "as with most things, the devil is in the details." Further:

Unfortunately, although we have requested more information, both verbally and in writing, the Department has failed to fully respond.  My first concern is where we find $20 billion a year in cuts—in the midst of two wars—without also cutting back on required weapons and services needed to meet the threats of today and tomorrow.   Secretary Lynn, you’ve already announced that at least a third of the savings will come from within the force structure and modernization accounts—the same accounts the Secretary is attempting to grow.  We have seen that setting arbitrary targets for cost savings, as appears to have happened with insourcing, can frequently not yield the expected results.  How do we avoid those pitfalls here?

Second, I am extremely concerned that no matter what the intentions of the Secretary may be, the Administration and some in Congress will not allow the Secretary to keep the savings.  This summer, the White House supported a teacher bailout bill that was funded in part with defense dollars.  Once these savings from this efficiencies initiative are identified, what’s to stop them from taking this money, too?

We're already seeing impacts of this summer’s cuts.  For example, some of those funds were intended to rectify an overdraft in the Navy’s military pay accounts.  Once those funds were taken, the Navy was forced to take the money from aircraft procurement accounts.  What’s the result?  It’s going to take longer to buy the external fuel tanks our Super Hornets and Growlers need and to upgrade training simulators.  Even worse -- it will cost the taxpayers more money to buy those fuel tanks because we won’t be able to take advantage of a negotiated bulk buy.  So much for efficiency.

As for committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO):

As long as I have served in Congress, the system has worked one way: the Administration proposes, and the Congress disposes.  This year and next will be no different.  So gentlemen, your task today is to persuade us that this initiative is not part of an agenda to cut the defense budget, and that it is consistent with this committee's longstanding priorities in a number of critical areas.

By John Liang
September 28, 2010 at 7:36 PM

The Pentagon is having problems identifying the amount of resources it devotes to counterproliferation, according to a new Government Accountability Office letter to lawmakers.

The letter takes the Counterproliferation Program Review Committee (CPRC) to task over the way the panel assembles the information included in its annual report to Congress:

Although DOD compiles a biennial list of programs "strongly related to combating WMD" and related costs, it cannot identify with precision what proportion of its resources are devoted specifically to counterproliferation. One of the key elements of an effective national strategy is identifying resources and investments necessary to execute that strategy. However, the CPRC report provides information on only budget requests; it does not provide any data on budget authority or actual outlays. In addition, visibility over how the department's resources support its counterproliferation strategies is limited, in part because those resources are not comprehensively aligned with gaps in counterproliferation capabilities identified by the Joint Staff based on inputs from the combatant commands and other DOD sources. Moreover, efforts across DOD to align resources with identified gaps in its ability to carry out its counterproliferation strategy have not been fully integrated into DOD's budget process. Although the 2009 CPRC report shows what mission areas the various programs/program elements are responsive to, it does not show what functional capability gaps they are designed to mitigate. As a result, the report does not present congressional decision makers with a clear portrait of how counter-WMD gaps translate into DOD funding priorities.

Consequently, GAO recommends "that DOD report actual appropriations and expenditures as well as budget requests related to counterproliferation in the CPRC report and that DOD align prioritized counterproliferation capability gaps with programs and resources."

CIA last month created a new "Counterproliferation Center" to "combine operational and analytic specialists dedicated to combating the spread of dangerous weapons and technology, allowing for even greater collaboration and information sharing on a top intelligence priority," according to an agency statement.

At an April 14 House Armed Services terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities subcommittee hearing, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs Andrew Weber and Defense Threat Reduction Agency Director Kenneth Myers were asked how the intelligence community was sharing information pertaining to WMD threats with appropriate officials in the Defense Department or other key U.S. agencies, and whether more needed to be done. Their response:

MR. WEBER: Congressman, we get briefed on a daily basis by the intelligence community on the whole range of WMD threats. In addition, the office of the DNI participates in the counterproliferation program review standing committee so we can align resources and investments that are being made in the countering WMD area. I would say that the reporting that we get on the threats in the -- from states -- state programs is excellent and extremely helpful in helping us prioritize where we should be spending resources.

Generally, reporting on nuclear threats is quite good. There is I would say as a consumer of intelligence room for improvement on collection and analysis on biological weapons threats which are a very difficult target.

MR. MYERS: If I may just add very quickly.

One of the efforts that is currently under way between the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency is working together in co-located spaces to work together on some of the potential WMD threats. In other words, bringing the intelligence analysts together with the technology experts, with those systems engineers that are responsible for designing the approaches that we would take in dealing with those WMD threats.

So as the assistant secretary mentioned, there is work to be had and to move forward and improve, but I think one of the things that we found is that bringing the experts together at a working level is a good step in the right direction.

By John Liang
September 28, 2010 at 7:21 PM

Montana's two Democrat senators have introduced a stand-alone bill that would give the Defense Department long-term contracting authority to purchase aviation biofuels and synthetic fuels -- something the Pentagon has sought and the biotechnology industry is hailing as a way to provide financial certainty to investors backing biofuels production, sister publication Defense Environment Alert reports today:

The bill, S. 3807, was introduced by Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester Sept. 20. The bill would give DOD authority to enter into contracts for up to 20 years to purchase liquid synthetic or biomass-derived aviation fuels or fuel blends that are domestically produced, do not interfere with food stocks, and meet EPA renewable fuel standards, according to the legislation. Current law generally limits DOD to signing five-year contracts with one-year extension options.

DOD has been seeking to lengthen contract terms in order to propel private investments in renewable and alternative fuels for mobile uses. Earlier this year, the White House approved a DOD proposal to seek legislation in the fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill that would allow for longer contracting authorities as a way to boost private sector investments in renewable and alternative fuels. But House lawmakers in their passage of the defense bill declined to fulfill the request, instead directing DOD to produce a report on whether existing contracting authorities are adequate. The Senate has not yet completed work on its version of the defense bill, with plans to take up the bill on the floor again after the November elections.

Long-term contracting authority would allow developers of alternative and renewable fuels to point to long-term contracts with DOD as a way to persuade financial institutions to support loans for developing facilities to produce the fuels. Brent Erickson, with the Biotechnology Industry Organization, said in a Sept. 23 press statement that such a measure could provide the needed certainty for leading companies and investors to provide capital for large-scale biofuel production. While advanced biofuel producers are already working with the military to test their fuels for aviation and other uses, "efforts to commercialize advanced biofuels have been hampered during the recent recession by lack of access to institutional funding," he said.

Sources with the Coal-to-Liquids Coalition could not be reached for comment on how the bill might aid coal-to-liquids (CTL) production. CTL has been controversial among environmentalists and some lawmakers because CTL emits significantly more lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than fuels from petroleum if carbon capture technology is not used.

It was unclear at press time whether the bill, if passed, could revive a plan abandoned by the Air Force in 2009 to site a CTL fuel production facility at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. A spokeswoman for Baucus' office did not respond by press time to questions on the issue.

The Air Force cited operational concerns and worries over security when it backed out of the plan. The project, the brainchild of Bush-era officials who have since left the Air Force, had been under review for some time, but it courted controversy because of the questionable environmental credentials of CTL fuels and possible related legal difficulties stemming from a requirement in a 2007 energy law that bans the federal government from using fuels with lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions higher than those of conventional petroleum. reported in July about a new study by retired admirals and generals that urged the Pentagon to play a leading role in the development and testing of clean energy technology and forge a new partnership with the Energy Department -- just as the two departments are poised to announce tighter ties:

The report, titled "Powering America's Economy: Energy Innovation at the Crossroads of National Security Challenges," states that the Defense Department's size, energy consumption and innovation track record would enable it to "provide the testing ground and the economies of scale necessary to begin the innovation that could ultimately change the course of the country."

The study is slated for release by the CNA Military Advisory Board July 27, hours before Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman and other senior administration officials are scheduled to participate in a White House forum on clean energy and energy security. The same day, DOD and DOE will also sign a memorandum of understanding on these issues, an industry source said.

The CNA study calls on the defense and energy secretaries to ensure the departments closely align their research and development work, funding and "intellectual capital."