The Insider

By John Liang
July 11, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world cannot be done by a single nation, according to a senior State Department official.

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher said in a speech in Paris late last month that "we need other countries to step forward with us and follow in our footsteps. Other countries need to be as transparent and as open as we are to provide confidence for deep reductions. Our actions show that transparency and security can go together. Secrecy may sometimes be necessary, but it also can lead to misunderstandings, miscalculations, and mistrust."

According to the text of her just-released speech, delivered on June 29:

While we have a growing consensus that a world without nuclear weapons is in all our interests, it is still fragile. Nuclear disarmament itself is not necessarily the Holy Grail, especially if we do not increase international stability and security. The journey and each step along the way is just as important, if not more important than the destination. These steps can enhance our mutual security and create a growing sense of momentum.

It is for this very reason why the P-5 follow-on conference, which begins tomorrow morning and will continue through Friday, is such a valuable exercise. It is a successor to an initial conference held in London in September 2009.

All of us have brought our experts from capitals to have a frank and detailed exchange on verification and transparency measures that can further enable future steps on disarmament.

From an American perspective, we so enjoy coming to these conferences that we want to make it a regular habit. It is important that our emerging dialogue in the P-5 context evolve into a regular component of our bilateral and multilateral relationships. That is essential if we are to make progress on the objectives set forth in the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan.

One core principle we should all share is that, as we draw down, other countries should not build up. That is why the United States is investing so much energy to begin negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). There are already too many nuclear weapons and too much fissile material for such weapons in this world. We do not need more fissile material that could be used to make more bombs, and we do not want to add to the risk of theft or misuse.

It remains our strong preference to house FMCT negotiations within the Conference on Disarmament (CD). Yet, so long as efforts to agree on a Program of Work remain deadlocked, it is only appropriate that we explore alternate venues.

Preserving the FMCT inside the CD when that body remains paralyzed only ensures that progress on an FMCT will remain out of our collective grasp.

By Christopher J. Castelli
July 8, 2011 at 4:17 PM

The House today voted 336-87 to approve the fiscal year 2012 defense appropriations bill.

Senate appropriators have not yet released their version of the bill.

By Dan Dupont
July 7, 2011 at 5:29 PM

The Associated Press is reporting that Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn will resign this year:

In a further shake-up of U.S. defense leaders, the Pentagon's second-ranking official said Thursday he intends to resign but has agreed to stay on the job until Defense Secretary Leon Panetta chooses a successor.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said in an Associated Press interview that he told Panetta last Friday, on Panetta's first day as Pentagon chief, that he planned to resign for personal reasons.

"I thought this was a logical point for me to depart the Pentagon," Lynn said during the interview in his office.

He said he told Panetta that he would be best served by having a deputy who was willing to stay at least through President Barack Obama's first term, which ends in January 2013.

"I did not think I could commit for that type of timeline," he said.

Lynn said he was leaving for "personal, family reasons," and wanted to spend more time with his children. He said it had nothing to do with Obama's choice of CIA director Panetta to succeed Robert Gates. Lynn said he knew Panetta only slightly from periodic contact while both served in the Clinton administration.

UPDATED 1:45: Panetta has issued a statement:

William J. Lynn III, the third-longest serving deputy secretary in the post-Cold War era, today announced his intention to step down as deputy secretary and return to private life. Lynn met with Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta late last week to discuss his plans. At Panetta’s request, Lynn has agreed to remain until a successor is in place this fall.

“Bill Lynn has provided outstanding advice and counsel to this department and to the nation over the course of his long career,” said Panetta. “I will rely on his experience and expertise during this transition period. His service will be greatly missed.”

As the nation’s 30th deputy secretary of defense, Lynn capped a nearly two-decade career of government service, during which he served as senior national security advisor to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and a senior advisor to five secretaries of defense.

“It has been a rare privilege to serve in the Department of Defense during such a challenging time,” said Lynn. “And it has been an honor to serve alongside an outstanding group of civilian and military members who every day demonstrate the value to this nation of their unwavering commitment and dedicated service.”

During his tenure, Lynn helped the department navigate new strategic and fiscal realities, while supporting efforts in two wars. He helped create a new space policy, the department’s first ever operational-energy strategy, and a landmark cyber strategy to protect the nation in the digital age, including the creation of the U.S. Cyber Command. He received widespread praise from America’s men and women in uniform for expanding their use of social media to communicate with their families while deployed.

Lynn also oversaw the department’s budget process, relations with the defense industry, and acquisition process, including the department’s successful bid for a new refueling tanker.

Improving the care and treatment of wounded warriors was also a signature issue for Lynn, who implemented a new system of disability evaluation and oversaw the department’s development of an integrated electronic health record.

Lynn will continue living in the Washington D.C., area but has not yet announced any future plans.

By John Liang
July 7, 2011 at 3:17 PM

The Pentagon acquisition office recently released a "directive-type" memo outlining an updated acquisition policy for defense business systems (DBS). The memo:

Establishes policy requiring the use of the Business Capability Lifecycle (BCL) model as the acquisition process for DBS, and assigns responsibilities and provides procedures for meeting BCL and DBS requirements. The principles of BCL can be applied at the increment or at the release level - BCL provides the framework for structuring the definition, development, testing, production, deployment, and support of DBS. This model is a guideline and tailoring, consistent with statute and sound business practice, is encouraged.

The memo mandates that BCL is "the overarching framework for the planning, design, acquisition, deployment, operations, maintenance, and modernization of DBS," and applies to any DBS modernization effort with a total cost of more than $1 million. Further:

When a Major Automated Information System (MAIS) DBS employs an incremental acquisition approach, all functional capabilities associated with a given increment shall be reflected in any resultant Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) (cost, performance, and schedule) and must be achievable within 5 years from when funds were first obligated. For all DBS that are not MAIS or otherwise designated, they must achieve Initial Operating Capability within 5 years from Milestone (MS) A. Delivery of capability within an increment (e.g., releases, sub-phases, software drops) must be based on technologies that have been determined to be mature at the MS B decision review. Functional capabilities that are not supported by adequate cost estimates, mature technologies, etc., shall be deferred to subsequent program increment(s).

By Gabe Starosta
July 6, 2011 at 5:50 PM

An omnibus reprogramming request submitted to Congress on June 30 would shift $10 million in research and development money appropriated for the CSAR-X program, which was canceled two years ago.

The omnibus reprogramming request, signed by Defense Department Comptroller Robert Hale, involves the transfer of some $6 billion among DOD accounts, and one section of the document focuses on funds appropriated in fiscal year 2010. One of those FY-10 items involves slightly more than $10 million in research, development, test and evaluation accounts for the CSAR-X, which then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates killed in June 2009. The Air Force has since replaced the initiative with a competition for a new combat-search-and-rescue helicopter known as HH-60 Recap.

Boeing won the original CSAR-X competition in 2006, but protests from other contractors prevented work on the project for years, leading Gates to cancel it. The reprogramming request, if approved, would still leave $4 million in the CSAR-X RDT&E account.

By John Liang
July 6, 2011 at 3:13 PM

Lobbyists for Taiwan are claiming that allowing the island to import F-16 fighter aircraft would have a "positive impact" on U.S. jobs, noting Lockheed Martin announced last week that 1,500 workers would be laid off from its aeronautics division.

U.S.-Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers said in a statement released today:

The recent Perryman Report shows that the follow-on sale of F-16s to Taiwan would have a positive economic impact around the country, generating some US$8.7 billion in gross output and sustaining approximately 16,000 direct and indirect jobs over the life of the program. That would represent a significant economic boost to states such as Ohio and Florida -- where unemployment stands at 8.6 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively. Reports estimate that 1,800 workers in Ohio and 1,900 in Florida depend on an F-16 sale to Taiwan. Should the Taiwan sale fail to materialize, however, current orders would only sustain the F-16 production line for another two years.

By John Liang
July 5, 2011 at 6:45 PM

The Pentagon wants Congress to approve a foreign military sale of 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits and related equipment to Egypt that would cost nearly $1.33 billion, according to a recently released Defense Security Cooperation Agency statement. Further:

The Government of Egypt has requested a possible sale that includes 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits for co-production, 125 M256 Armament Systems, 125 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 250 M240 7.62mm machine guns, 125 AGT-1500 M1A1 series tank engines and transmissions, 120mm test cartridges, spare and repair parts, maintenance, support equipment, special tool and test equipment, personnel training and equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. Articles may be provided in furtherance of a co-production agreement. The estimated cost is $1.329 billion.

This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a friendly country that has been and continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.

The additional M1A1 tanks will provide Egypt with a modern tank fleet, enhancing its capability to meet current and future threats. This will contribute to Egypt’s goal to update its military capability while further enhancing interoperability between Egypt, the U.S., and other allies. Egypt, which has co-produced the M1A1 Abrams tank, will have no difficulty absorbing the additional tanks.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractors will be General Dynamics in Sterling Heights, Michigan, Honeywell International Incorporated in Phoenix, Arizona, and Allison Transmission Motors in Indianapolis, Indiana. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. . . .

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

However, Inside the Army reported in April that the recent unrest in the Middle East could put a damper on such a sale.

Over the past year, lawmakers have become agitated over a Pentagon proposal to shut down the Abrams production line. The issue has drawn the attention of the speaker of the House, who intends to ask the Army secretary to review the decision, according to government officials. As ITA reported in April:

The Abrams is produced by General Dynamics Land Systems and hundreds of subcontractors working out of a government-owned plant in Lima, OH. But, for fiscal reasons, the Army wants to stop production of the Abrams M1A2 in 2013 and begin work again in 2016 with an upgrade effort. GDLS and its host of subcontractors have been lobbying Congress to change the Army's mind.

The companies' claim that Abrams manufacturing impacts the economies of 48 states has garnered support from many lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), whose congressional district is adjacent to where the Abrams plant is located.

"Congressman Boehner intends to ask Secretary [John] McHugh to review the Army's current plan to cut tank production and ask that the excessive costs of shutting down the Lima plant are considered," according to Brittany Bramell, the speaker's spokeswoman.

An Army study from 2008 estimates the cost of a three-to-four-year Abrams shutdown and restart would not exceed $800 million, whereas producing 70 tanks annually between fiscal year 2012 and FY-15 would cost roughly $2.1 billion, according to an April 14 statement from the Army.

For more combat vehicle news, click here.

By John Liang
July 5, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Last week, Inside the Pentagon reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates had quietly agreed late last year to transfer responsibility for the Defense Department's information network to U.S. Cyber Command, but reversed that decision in the twilight of his tenure, according to a memo he wrote. Further:

Gates' memo on the disestablishment of the Pentagon's Networks and Information Integration (NII) office, issued earlier this week, describes DOD's plans for shuttering the office following months of uncertainty about how the department would proceed.

Inside the Pentagon reviewed a copy of the memo, which is addressed to DOD acquisition executive Ashton Carter, NII boss and Chief Information Officer Teri Takai and Christine Fox, the director of the cost assessment and program evaluation shop.

Gates -- who retires today and will be succeeded by Leon Panetta -- first announced plans for NII's closure last August. Gates' chief of staff, Robert Rangel, set a March 30 deadline for the task. When DOD failed to meet the deadline, Pentagon officials admitted the task was harder than expected, but they declined to comment on the details of internal deliberations.

But the new memo reveals Gates "tentatively agreed" last December to "a conceptual approach that involves transferring significant responsibility for the operation of the DOD information network" from NII and the Defense Information Systems Agency to CYBERCOM.

The website for Takai's office states she is responsible for setting policy and providing oversight of information processes, systems and technologies. DISA provides information technology and communications support to the White House, the armed services and the combatant commands. CYBERCOM chief Gen. Keith Alexander has said his command coordinates, integrates and synchronizes activities to direct the operations and defense of DOD networks.

Gates writes that issues raised by Fox's office in February led him to "recognize there are a number of significant policy, operational and practical concerns with shifting DISA to CYBERCOM that no longer make it a viable approach."

The department will abandon plans for such a shift and refocus on disestablishing NII, the memo states.

"To this end, I believe the best course for the Department is to return to the original goal of disestablishing NII into a smaller and more focused and strengthened Chief Information Officer (CIO) office that has a strong relationship between DISA and CYBERCOM and achieves savings from eliminating functions that are duplicative or no longer necessary," Gates writes.

We now have a copy of the memo. Click here to view it.

By John Liang
July 5, 2011 at 3:25 PM

The Missile Defense Agency has sent out a feeler to gauge small businesses' interest in working on a set-aside contract for MDA's Upgraded Early Warning Radar effort. According to a June 30 Federal Business Opportunities notice:

The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI)/Sources Sought is to aid the government in determining if there is sufficient small business industrial expertise and interest to proceed with a small business set-aside, competitive procurement for the desired capability described below. Only small businesses should reply to this announcement.

This RFI/Sources Sought defines the tasks and scope for the UEWR & CD BIT which shall be acquired through a developmental Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to plan, execute, and analyze UEWR & CD BMDS flight tests, UEWR & CD BMDS ground tests (including MDA integration testing with the Single Stimulation Framework and at each participating radar site as necessary), and element stand-alone ground tests.

This RFI/Sources Sought includes developmental efforts for test provisioning, operation and non-COTS maintenance for the hardware-in-loop (HWIL) representations for each UEWR & CD sensor along with laboratory facilities that shall be required to execute Pre-Mission Testing/System Pre-Mission Testing (PMT/SPMT) for flight tests, BMDS ground testing, and element ground testing.

By John Liang
July 1, 2011 at 3:10 PM

Analysts from Wall Street firm Credit Suisse met with shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries execs this week and noted "a cautiously optimistic tone." In a research note, Credit Suisse analysts write: "While HII sees upside in earnings and cash flow over the long-term, it is now focused on the heavy lifting required in the short and mid-term to build a cultural and operational foundation to achieve that end." Further:

■      No Guidance Yet: HII has yet to offer EPS guidance, citing visibility around Avondale as a key factor, and instead suggested investors track ship progress & milestones over financial targets.

■      Gulf Coast Margin Remains Key Driver & Watch Item: Mgmt reiterated its 9%+ L/T margin target by year-end 2014 (currently at 5-6% overall, and near 2% in the Gulf Coast).  Poorly priced contracts on LPDs 22-25 and LHA-6 (now at or near zero margin as prior mgmt’s plan for serial efficiencies were never realized) will begin to roll off later this year.  As new ships (DDG-113, LHA-7, LPD-26) move from planning to construction, margin should ramp, albeit slowly. HII noted that normally, lead ship contracts should earn ~8% while serial production ships represent a ~10% margin opportunity.

■      Mgmt Frames Report of Higher Potential Cost on Aircraft Carrier:  A June 2011 CBO report estimates that CVN-78 (Ford) may exceed its $12B budget target by $600M or more.  HII cautioned that its portion of the work is far below the $12B total cost, and the excess cited may not be attributable to HII.  Under this cost-plus contract, higher costs are recoverable, but fee could be impacted, depending on the responsible party & the share line.

■      No Near-Term Catalysts; Reiterate N with $35TP: While we see eventual EPS growth as bad contracts roll off, the linearity of improvement is unclear, especially since new work (with presumably better pricing) will be booked conservatively at first. Thus, visibility on margin improvement (the key catalyst) is still a year or more distant in our view. Reiterate N with a $35 TP.

Inside the Pentagon reported in April that HII, according to DOD, was not moving fast enough to fix its management deficiencies:

Huntington Ingalls Industries' shipyards stumbled last year in Defense Department reviews concerning earned value management, the Pentagon's top tool for ensuring industry delivers weapons on time and on budget. Since then, the shipbuilder has not made enough progress addressing the problems, said Capt. Cate Mueller, spokeswoman for Navy procurement chief Sean Stackley.

"The Navy participated in the recent EVM reviews with the Defense Contract Management Agency at the shipyards and, while noting progress, is not satisfied with the rate of progress," said Mueller. "We will continue to provide oversight while working with the shipyards to ensure appropriate priority is placed on correcting these deficiencies."

The Navy's comments came in response to remarks by Mike Petters, the shipbuilder's president and CEO, who recently said his company has "more work to do" on earned value management but also questioned whether all the rules should apply (Inside the Pentagon, April 7, p1).

DOD uses the EVM tool to flag problems, forecast cost and schedule performance, and get troubled Pentagon procurement programs back on track. Asked whether the company should apply all 32 of the Pentagon's management rules to each of its contracts, Petters said no.

"I wish it was that simple, but it's not," he said. "We get certified by our customer to invoice and report. And we do that, we go through all those certifications and we don't have any issues. Then we have another agency monitor and inspect and they come up with areas that we need to go work on. And then we take a look at those and say, 'Is that something that really makes sense for this business or not?' And then we have a discussion with our customer about that."

By Jason Sherman
July 1, 2011 at 1:36 PM

Leon Panetta, sworn in as the 23rd defense secretary at 8:45 this morning, pledged in a statement that he will protect the readiness and superiority of U.S. armed forces even as the Pentagon's budget is pared back.

“Even as the United States addresses fiscal challenges at home, there will be no hollow force on my watch,” Panetta said in a message to the Defense Department published soon after he took the helm.

As Secretary of Defense, I will do whatever is necessary to protect America and to meet the needs of the men and women who serve in harm's way, and the families who support them.  Even as the United States addresses fiscal challenges at home, there will be no hollow force on my watch.  That will require us all to be disciplined in how we manage taxpayer resources.  Throughout my career in public service -- as a member of Congress, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, White House Chief of Staff, and, until yesterday, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency -- I have focused on achieving that balance.  I will continue that approach at the Pentagon.  We must preserve the excellence and superiority of our military while looking for ways to identify savings.  While tough budget choices will need to be made, I do not believe in the false choice between fiscal discipline and a strong national defense.  We will all work together to achieve both.

Among Panetta's near-term challenges is continuing the Comprehensive Defense Review launched this spring by his predecessor, Robert Gates, to identify options for how to cut nearly $400 billion from planned national security spending over the next dozen years.

The new defense secretary, who until yesterday was the director of the CIA, plans to travel around the world to meet with troops and commanders.

As your leader, I will ensure that our nation continues to have the best-trained, best-equipped, and strongest military in the world – a force prepared to confront the challenges that face us.  As CIA Director, I saw first-hand the tremendous capabilities of our military, and I was always impressed by the professionalism and patriotism of the men and women of the Armed Forces.

Our nation is at war.  We must prevail against our enemies.  We will persist in our efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately defeat Al Qaeda.  The successful operation that killed Osama Bin Laden -- a mission that showcased American military strength and precision -- is a major step toward that goal.  As we begin the transition in Afghanistan, we must remain committed to working closely with our Afghan and international partners to ensure that it never again becomes a safe haven for Al Qaeda and its militant allies.  As we continue our transition out of Iraq, we must cement a strategic relationship with the Iraqi government, one based not solely on our military footprint there but on a real and lasting partnership.  It is in America's interests to help Iraq realize its potential to become a stable democracy in a vitally important region in the world, and to reinforce that responsibility for the future security of Iraq must belong to the Iraqis themselves.

By John Liang
June 30, 2011 at 8:27 PM

Two organizations that were under U.S. Joint Forces Command's umbrella have found new homes, according to the soon-to-be-defunct command.

The Joint Enabling Capabilities Command was reassigned from JFCOM to U.S. Transportation Command. According to JFCOM:

The JECC will retain the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE), the Joint Public Affairs Support Element (JPASE) and the Joint Deployable Team (JDT) as subordinate organizations.

"The JECC is pleased to be a part of the USTRANSCOM team and we will continue our mission of providing joint enabling capabilities on short-notice to joint force commanders worldwide," said U.S. Navy Rear. Adm. Walter E. Carter, Jr., JECC commander.  "The support we currently supply to the joint warfighter will continue without interruption as we are reassigned to USTRANSCOM."

The JECC provides immediate, short-duration support to establish, organize and operate joint force headquarters across the globe and combines capabilities from the six unique functional areas of plans, operations, logistics, information superiority/knowledge management, communications and public affairs.

The JECC will be a subordinate joint command of USTRANSCOM.  The JECC headquarters, JDT and JPASE will remain in Hampton Roads, Va., and JCSE will remain at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.

Additionally, the Joint Warfare Analysis Center has been moved from JFCOM to U.S. Strategic Command. In a separate statement, the command announces:

The JWAC provides comprehensive technical analyses on a wide array of national security challenges and issues to inform and support decision makers engaged in both combat operations and in policy-making sessions at the highest levels of our government.

“Our military and civilian professionals will continue to support the joint force by providing innovative solutions to our nation’s most pressing war fighting problems,” said Marine Corps Col. Michael R. Orr, commander, Joint Warfare Analysis Center.

After transition to USSTRATCOM, JWAC will continue work from its current location in Dahlgren, Va.

By John Liang
June 30, 2011 at 7:48 PM

Lockheed Martin just announced plans to lay off around 1,500 workers from its aeronautics business unit.

According to the statement:

Lockheed Martin currently has about 28,000 employees at its principal Aeronautics sites in Texas, Georgia and California and at six smaller locations in as many states. Reductions may occur across the enterprise, with the greatest impacts occurring at the larger sites. An organizational assessment will determine how to trim the organization with a target reduction of approximately 1,500 employees.

Ralph D. Heath, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said, "Bold and responsible action is necessary to meet customer expectations and reduce our costs. We are realigning the organization to be more efficient and agile, and a reduction in force will enable us to meet the requirements of our changing business environment."

Lockheed Martin will offer eligible salaried employees an opportunity for a voluntary layoff to minimize the number of involuntary layoffs. We will use a disciplined process to review every organization and position, considering all factors rather than making arbitrary reductions. We expect the greatest impact to be on employees in higher-level labor grades. Employees eligible for voluntary layoffs will be notified in August. An involuntary reduction in force begins in mid-September.

Today's layoffs announcement comes on the heels of the company declaring two weeks ago that it would lay off 1,200 workers from its space systems unit.

By John Liang
June 30, 2011 at 7:37 PM

The Congressional Budget Office today released an assessment of the Pentagon's five-year future years defense program. Among its conclusions:

-- To execute its base-budget plans for the period covered by the 2012 FYDP, DoD would need appropriations totaling about $206 billion (or 8 percent) more over those five years than if funding was held at the 2011 level of $536 billion. Over the 10 years from 2012 to 2021, DoD would need a total of $597 billion (or 11 percent) more than if funding was held at the 2011 level.

-- DoD's base budget would grow at a real (inflation-adjusted) average annual rate of 1.8 percent from 2012 to 2016 and by 0.5 percent from 2016 to 2030. At those rates, DoD's base budget would rise from $554 billion in 2012 to $594 billion in 2016 and to $642 billion in 2030.

-- The primary cause of long-term growth in DoD's budget from 2012 to 2030 would be rising costs for operation and support (O&S), which would account for nearly all of the increase. In particular, CBO projects significant increases in the costs for military and civilian compensation, military health care, and various operation and maintenance activities. O&S costs would grow steadily throughout the projection period, from $350 billion in 2012 to $459 billion in 2030, a growth rate of 1.5 percent per year.

-- That large contribution of operation and support costs to long-term budget growth is a change from the years before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, when sharp growth in anticipated requirements to replace and modernize weapon systems (the so-called bow wave) was the primary factor underlying projected budget growth beyond the years covered by the FYDP. In CBO's current projections, acquisition costs (the costs of developing and procuring weapon systems) would grow steadily from $189 billion in 2012 to a peak of $217 billion in 2019 (an increase of about 14 percent) before decreasing and leveling off -- albeit with year-to-year variations -- at an average of about $197 billion per year through 2030.

By Dan Dupont
June 30, 2011 at 2:00 PM

The National Guard Association of the United States is touting unprecedented levels of support in the Senate for its long-running goal of a seat for the Guard director on the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In a statement issued this morning, NGAUS says thirty senators "now sponsor legislation that would give the National Guard a voice in final resource decisions at the Pentagon."

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced the National Guard Empowerment and State-National Defense Integration Act of 2011, S. 1025, in late May. Twenty-eight senators have since signed on as co-sponsors.

The bill includes a provision to give the Guard’s senior officer a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The House approved a similar provision last month, meaning it now only needs Senate approval to be sent to the president, who committed to a Guard “seat at the table” in his 2008 campaign booklet, The Blueprint for America: Barack Obama’s Plan for America.

“Thirty and counting,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., the president of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). “This legislation has real momentum because a growing number of lawmakers recognize that the Guard will be increasingly important to the nation’s defense and security, yet still goes largely unrepresented atop the Pentagon.”

A formal role in final resource decisions is part of an ongoing effort by many on Capitol Hill and NGAUS that three years ago elevated the chief of the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon from a three- to a four-star general.

The NGB chief is now invited to participate in some discussions with the Joint Chiefs. However, he does not have a vote in final decisions. Nor does he have the ability to nominate Guard officers for positions that require Senate confirmation.

S. 1025 would enable the NGB chief to sit with the heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines — none of whom have ever served in the Guard — and give the Guard, for the first time, representation in final deliberations on staffing and resources.

All of the living former NGB chiefs, who were not allowed to support a Guard seat at the table while they served at the Pentagon, have endorsed the legislation.