The Insider

By Jordana Mishory
June 17, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Senate defense authorizers have not received any details on the executive branch's plan to cut security spending by $400 billion over the next decade despite two requests for information from the administration, according to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI).

During a conference call with reporters today, Levin said the administration is “losing an opportunity” to provide lawmakers information that could help guide the formation of the fiscal year 2012 defense authorization bill. The committee unanimously approved the bill Thursday.

The Pentagon submitted its FY-12 budget to lawmakers in February. But in April, President Obama announced his plans to reduce security spending by $400 billion through FY-23, with the bulk of those reductions expected to be borne by the Pentagon.

Defense authorizers would have found the administration's plans on the proposed cuts “useful and helpful,” although not binding, Levin said.

Levin noted that the committee found $6 billion in savings for FY-12.

By John Liang
June 16, 2011 at 6:04 PM

In what is likely his last press conference, outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates just announced that he would nominate Navy Adm. Jonathan Greenert to succeed the retiring Adm. Gary Roughead as the next chief of naval operations. According to Greenert's bio:

Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert is a native of Butler, Pa. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1975 and completed studies in nuclear power for service as a submarine officer.

His career as a submariner includes assignments aboard USS Flying Fish (SSN 673), USS Tautog (SSN 639), Submarine NR-1 and USS Michigan (SSBN 727 - Gold Crew), culminating in command of USS Honolulu (SSN 718) from March 1991 to July 1993.

Subsequent fleet command assignments include Commander, Submarine Squadron 11, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet (August 2004 to September 2006) and Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (September 2007 to July 2009).

Greenert has served in various fleet support and financial management positions, including deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources (N8); deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet; chief of staff, U.S. 7th Fleet; head, Navy Programming Branch and director, Operations Division Navy Comptroller.

He is a recipient of various personal, and campaign awards including the Distinguished Service Medal (5 awards), Defense Superior Service Medal and Legion of Merit (4 awards). In 1992 he was awarded the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for inspirational leadership. He considers those awards earned throughout his career associated with unit performance to be most satisfying and representative of naval service.

By John Liang
June 16, 2011 at 5:59 PM

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today said the White House's legal justification for continuing military operations in Libya under the War Powers Act -- sent to Congress yesterday -- is not enough. According to a statement highlighting remarks the congressman made earlier today at a press conference:


"Well, the administration gave its opinion on the war powers resolution, but it didn't answer the question in my letter as whether the Office of Legal Counsel agrees with them. So I'm looking forward to an answer on this by tomorrow."


"The White House says there are no hostilities taking place, yet we have got drone attacks under way, we're spending $10 million a day. We're part of an effort to drop bombs on Qadhafi's compounds. It doesn't pass the straight face test, in my view, that we're not in the midst of hostilities. It's been four weeks since the President has talked to the American people about this mission, and I think it's time for the President to outline to the American people why we are there, what the mission is, and what our goals are, and how do we exit this."


"The House has options. We're looking at those options, and my guess is that next week we may be prepared to move on those options based on the answers to the questions that we get."

By John Liang
June 15, 2011 at 9:01 PM

Lest anyone worry that the Czech Republic is no longer interested in cooperating with the United States on missile defense, Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan minutes ago tweeted:

Czech Republic not pulling out of the U.S. European missile shield plan. CR embraced [European Phased Adaptive Approach] at the 2010 Lisbon NATO Summit & reaffirmed 2day.

That reaffirmation, as Lapan calls it, came in a joint briefing in Prague earlier today with Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn and his Czech counterpart Alexandr Vondra:

VONDRA: Regarding missile defense, we welcome the new developments.  We agreed in Lisbon that MD will be created under NATO, which, in fact, shifts the situation in the direction which we have always requested.  We really appreciate the U.S. involvement in the form of the Phased Adaptive Approach as a U.S. contribution to a complex European missile defense.  In this context we, of course, thanked them for the previous, pre-Lisbon U.S. offer and we stated that in the light of Lisbon and further developments the previous offer of our participation in the Shared Early Warning System will no longer be necessary and that we would seek other possibilities of the Czech Republic’s future involvement in the Allied System. . . .

LYNN: In terms of the Shared Early Warning there is no offer that was cancelled, I think that the offer that we made, as the minister described, was overtaken by events.  The Lisbon Summit has, I think, changed the nature of the missile defense framework in which we are operating and that the offer, while it was an interesting one and a good one, no longer fits either the missile defense framework or the Czech needs.

VONDRA: [Speaking Czech] I wouldn't say that the offer has been cancelled, because the offer was made in a certain historical context.  After the U.S. changed the original MD concept where the Czech Republic had its share, there came this well-meant offer.  We evaluated it and presented our opinion several times.  But in the meantime, there has been some development.  There came the Lisbon summit decision and there has been further progress on the NATO joint system -- I mean we got to a certain stage where it was superseded and where we have a whole spectrum of other fields where we can work hard to find a kind of cooperation between the U.S. and CR which will make practical sense.

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

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

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

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

Gates' response began with this quip:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pentagon today announced two key personnel moves:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOD Appeals Funding Cuts In Counternarcotics Aid To Colombia

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

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

Lawmakers Suggest Expansion Of Security Assistance To Colombia

Lawmakers Await Bush Administration Plan After Colombia Resolution

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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