The Insider

By John Liang
May 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

U.S. Joint Forces Command and U.S. Strategic Command have begun an effort to consolidate missile defense training programs across the services, according to JFCOM's Website.

JFCOM's Joint Warfighting Center and STRATCOM's Joint Exercises and Training Directorate (J7) are leading the effort:

Pat McVay, the director of USSTRATCOM J7, said this partnership, will lead the effort called "All Things Missile" (ATM) to build on their current mission of providing global deterrence capabilities and aligning Defense Department efforts to combat the threat of weapons of mass destruction world wide.

"Right now, we have a somewhat disjointed capability to train multiple mission areas - missile warning, missile defense and feeder missile warnings. Separate capabilities were developed over different periods of time," McVay said.

McVay emphasized that ATM is in the requirements development stage and, at this point, the goal is to identify requirements and establish a program to solidify training capability.

Gregory Knapp, USJFCOM JWFC executive director, said the command will work with USSTRATCOM to define needed operational architecture, training requirements, a solutions process, and modeling and simulation.

"We'll go into . . . what is actually required to create a distributed training environment to certain training audiences, to train to certain tasks," Knapp said. "In the end what ((US))STRATCOM and ((US))JFCOM will be able to do will simulate any training audience against the ATM task set and train whenever we need wherever we need."

By John Liang
May 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Senate Armed Services Committee today approved the following defense-related nominations, according to a committee statement:

Elizabeth L. King to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs;

Michael Nacht to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs;

Wallace C. Gregson to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs;

Jo-Ellen Darcy to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; and

Ines R. Triay to be Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management; as well as

296 pending military nominations in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. All nominations were immediately reported to the floor following the committee’s action.

By Christopher J. Castelli
May 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Roughly half of the $17 billion the Obama administration plans to save in its fiscal year 2010 budget request will come through reductions, terminations or other changes to defense programs, according to a senior administration official.

The request includes 121 reductions, terminations or other savings, the top official told reporters Wednesday evening in a background teleconference.

"In total they would save nearly $17 billion in 2010 alone, and more thereafter," the official said. "About half of the money comes from defense, and about half from non-defense. Looked at a different way . . . about $11.5 billion comes from the discretionary part of the budget, and the rest from the mandatory part of the budget."

The bulk of the changes to defense programs have already been announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, according to the White House.

Notably, however, the official said there are "a few other items," but declined to be more specific.

"And your final question was the largest item that we had not previously announced -- I think you'll see that in the document that we release tomorrow morning," the official said.

By Joe Gould
May 5, 2009 at 5:00 AM

As the Army beefs up its electronic warfare abilities, an article published by the Russian state news agency suggests that Moscow's plans for an equivalent electronic warfare cadre were "thwarted" by the country's economic crisis.

In the last several months, the U.S. Army has okayed an electronic warfare field manual and set aside 1,500 slots for an EW force. But similar Russian plans fell victim to "yet another army reform," the piece alleges.

The article, authored by Yury Zaitsev, an academic adviser with the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences, says electronic warfare "will play an increasingly greater role in future conflicts."

Russia has used electronic warfare against insurgent communications networks and roadside bombs in the North Caucasian region, said Zaitsev. And EW may have been used against Russian helicopter pilots in the same region when they found that their GPS devices displayed inaccurate readings.

While there may not be a Russian EW unit, the country has developed an EW weapon that can "fit inside a car trunk and can disable the power grid of a small country or an entire region in just a few minutes," Zaitsev said.

But he closes with this:

A couple of years ago, the Government discussed the issue of establishing an electronic warfare force. Well-informed sources say the Defense Ministry had drafted all the required documents and coordinated them at top military-political level. The new military branch was designed to obstruct enemy electronics in the air, on land and at sea, as well as in space, and to shield Russian military installations and government facilities.

These plans were thwarted, however, by yet another army reform, a decision to adopt new military uniforms, and the present-day financial and economic crisis. This is rather lamentable, as electronic warfare units will become an indispensable asset during a hypothetical conflict with any powerful enemy.

In the final analysis, electronic warfare will decide the outcome of future military conflicts.

However, a U.S. Army official wasn't buying Zaitsev's claims, contending, "They just want the public to think so. A nice ((information operations)) campaign."

By Zachary M. Peterson
May 5, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department is slated to unveil its fiscal year 2010 budget request Thursday in a series of briefings, according to a Pentagon source.

Though the date has not been publicly announced, the source says the briefings are tentatively scheduled for midday Thursday. An Office of the Secretary of Defense briefing will be followed by Army, Air Force and Navy sessions.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates early last month announced major decisions in the FY-10 budget but did not provide detailed numbers. On Thursday, DOD is expected to reveal considerably more.

By Sebastian Sprenger
May 5, 2009 at 5:00 AM

House lawmakers want to make sure local extremists aren't the only radio jockeys to be heard in the Taliban-infested border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Members of the House Appropriations Committee plan to beef up the programming of Voice of America's Radio Deewa and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in the area with $10.9 million, according to a panel report on the latest fiscal year 2009 supplemental spending bill.

The committee understands that research shows that radio is a dominant medium for news in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region and that, with the exception of ((VOA's Radio Deewa)) and a few other international broadcasters, much of the radio broadcasting to this region is done by extremists.

The funds should be used to expand Radio Deewa's daily programming from six to nine hours, according to the report. In addition, lawmakers are eying a new six-hour program stream for RFE/RL, dubbed "Azadi Deewa," the report states. "Funds may also be used to establish capacity to send headlines and breaking news to listeners via mobile phones and to enhance security for RFE/RL's Kabul bureau," it adds.

By Kate Brannen
May 4, 2009 at 5:00 AM

EADS North America and Lockheed Martin "are teaming up to develop a new armed scout helicopter to meet the Army’s armed reconnaissance helicopter mission," according to a company statement.

The industry team, which also includes American Eurocopter, was announced today at the Army Aviation Association of America's big annual conference in Nashville, TN.

Our full story will follow in a few minutes; here's a healthy excerpt:

Lockheed Martin will serve as the equipment package integrator for the platform, named Armed Scout 645. A full-scale version of the new airframe is on exhibit at the conference, according to an EADS North America statement.

In October, the Army canceled its Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, a program on contract with Bell Helicopter Textron, due to cost overruns and delays. ARH was set to replace Kiowa Warrior helicopters and equip a number of AH-64A Apache battalions. A new competition has not yet been launched.

The Army is reviewing its requirements for a replacement program before conducting a formal “analysis of alternatives” that will help service officials determine how best to proceed. The Army has said that unmanned systems will be considered as part of this analysis.

“The analysis will cover the entire spectrum of options -- from the potential use of ((unmanned aerial vehicles)) to the use of a manned/unmanned aircraft mix to the procurement of a new manned platform,” said Army Director of Aviation Brig. Gen. Walter Davis and Brig. Gen. William Crosby, program executive officer for aviation, in their joint statement at an April 23 House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee hearing.

The Armed Scout 645 is based on Eurocopter’s EC145 commercial airframe, the same platform for the Army’s UH-72A Light Utility Helicopter, said EADS North America in its statement. The company also announced plans to produce the new airframe at American Eurocopter’s facility in Columbus, MS, where UH-72As are manufactured.

“We’re confident that our team has a low-risk technical path to meet or exceed the performance requirements the Army outlined in the Sources Sought document,” said David Oliver, EADS North America chief operating officer, in a statement. “Our highly capable and best-value solution will meet the Army’s armed scout capability gap, and has the flexibility to respond to the customer’s evolving mission scenarios in both current and future conflicts.”

By Kate Brannen
May 4, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Inside the Army this week reports on what the service is doing to scale back its recruitment efforts now that it has met its end strength goals early. It has postponed several recruiting programs and closed enlistment waivers for “adult major misconduct,” or felonies, as well as testing positive for drug and alcohol at military entrance processing stations.

Similar issues are addressed in a new Government Accountability Office report, released today, in which the Army is applauded for meeting its recruitment and retention goals early in its attempts to increase end strength by roughly 7 percent by 2013.

The report also examines how the Army managed this growth and the cost-effectiveness of the financial incentives used to recruit and retain enlistees. The GAO concludes that the Army's use of bonuses could be more cost-effective, stating that the service has not taken advantage of existing research on how best to use recruiting resources to calculate its bonus amounts. The GAO also found that bonus amounts vary widely across the Army's components. However, the Army states in the report that since the GAO completed its study, the service has reduced the numbers and amounts of bonuses it offers.

GAO is also critical of the Army for loosening its quality goals for new recruits, including the practice of giving waivers to those who don't meet academic, physical and conduct standards. GAO recommends that the Army collect data on the costs of recruiting and training soldiers with conduct waivers. According to the report, existing analyses show these recruits perform similarly as those without conduct waivers, but they are more likely to be separated from the Army for "adverse reasons."

By Sebastian Sprenger
May 4, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Last week's Defense Science Board report conferred an almost operational role to defense acquisition. Specifically, the procurement of information technology should be conducted with a certain tactical feistyness or, as the document puts it, to "confound the enemy."

The recommendation is part of a section about ways to harden military cyberspace assets against intrusions.

According to the DSB report, IT acquisition folks should:

  • "Buy in variety and update often;
  • "Buy only needed functionality;
  • "Combine government and commercial off-the-shelf systems; ((and))
  • "Create a national cyber defense test bed."

DSB members acknowledge implementing these steps would drive up cost. But, they argue, buying IT gear any other way would be like "buying a tank without armor."

By Marcus Weisgerber
May 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The White House has tapped Charles Blanchard to become the Air Force's new general counsel. If confirmed, the Arizona lawyer would replace Mary Walker, who was among the first political appointees out the door when President Obama took office in January.

Blanchard -- a partner at Perkins Coie Brown & Bain in Phoenix -- served as the Air Force's general counsel during both of President George W. Bush's terms, and as the Army's general counsel under President Clinton from 1999 to 2001, according to a biography posted on the Web site of the Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, where he is an adjunct professor.

His biography also notes:

Mr. Blanchard was law clerk to the Hon. Harry T. Edwards in Washington, D.C., and then law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. From 1987-88 he served as Associate Independent Counsel for the Office of Independent Counsel James McKay.

Blanchard has served two consecutive terms in the Arizona Senate, from 1991-95, where he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and was Vice Chairman of the Senate Environmental Committee. From 1997-99 he was Chief Counsel for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

By Christopher J. Castelli
May 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Navy today awarded General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works division a fixed-price contract to build one Flight 0+ Littoral Combat Ship seaframe at the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile, AL. The ship is known as Coronado (LCS 4).

The Navy says the construction contract's value is source-selection sensitive information because the price of the fiscal year 2009 ship is tied to the ongoing competitive solicitation for FY-10 ships. But Coronado is expected to cost less than Independence (LCS-2), the Navy said in a statement today. “The cost savings are due to a stable design, readiness of production facilities, an experienced build team in place and a fixed-price contract,” the statement says.

The Navy awarded a total of two contracts for LCS seaframes in FY-09, including a contract to Lockheed Martin for LCS-3 on March 23. The service is conducting a competition for three more seaframes in FY-10. All FY-09 and FY-10 ships will be fixed-price type contracts.

The Navy statement says the current Flight 0+ phase of the LCS program includes ships procured during FY-09 and FY-10, and will incorporate the existing designs from the incumbent industry teams along with all approved engineering change proposals, improved production techniques and material improvements discovered as a result of the construction and testing of LCS-1 and LCS-2.

“The design for both ships is mature and we are incorporating revisions to specific areas based on the lessons learned from the construction of the initial ships, proposed production improvements and acceptance inspections,” the Navy statement says. Those revisions will be in place for the start of construction of the FY-09 ships, according to the service.

The LCS program has had its share of cost troubles; the Navy insists it is focused on that issue.

“Affordability is a critical objective for the LCS program, the service's statement says. “Navy and LCS industry teams are working to reduce cost, achieve steady production, and improve execution. We remain committed to effective cost control and have modified contracting strategies and management practices to provide program stability.”

The Navy says it needs 55 littoral warships to fill urgent warfighting gaps. “LCS will provide capability in sea mine localization, clearance and neutralization; defense against swarming small boats equipped with anti-ship cruise missiles; and finding and neutralizing quiet diesel submarines in noisy environments,” according to the statement.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 30, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates today praised the C-17 program -- but defended his proposal to stop buying the cargo planes. At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, concerns about the decision were raised by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), whose state is home to a Boeing facility where C-17 components are assembled. Bond griped it was a case of “ready, fire, aim.” He asked Gates to support the inclusion of “long lead time” funding for the C-17 in the fiscal year 2009 supplemental appropriations package.

But Gates said the Air Force and U.S. Transportation Command believe the military has more than enough capacity for airlift over the next decade or so. He also cited a legislative prohibition on decommissioning C-5A cargo planes. “As we look at the capacity that we have with those 59 C-5As and we get more and more C-17s we just are continuing to build excess capacity,” Gates said.

Even if Congress lifts the prohibition, the Air Force would have to look at what other priorities it would have to give up to buy more C-17s, according to Gates.

“It's a zero-sum game,” he said. Gates added he is trying to balance all these things to come up with the “maximum possible capability for the maximum range of potential conflict.”

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 30, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The age-old tactic of suicide attacks is receiving renewed attention from the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. In a note posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site today, JIEDDO officials announced plans for the demonstration of new technologies aimed at detecting individuals intent on blowing themselves up.

Suicide bombings are common events in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. A recent string of suicide bombings in Iraq has killed scores of people, ending a relatively calm period there that began at the start of the year.

JIEDDO's short announcement doesn't reveal much about how officials intend to proceed on the task. The money phrase, ripe with military jargon, is this one:

Purpose of this announcement is to identify parties potentially interested in participating in a JIEDDO-conducted demonstration to characterize Person-Borne IED (PBIED) sensors against an intelligence-backed, standardized set of threat surrogates.

Interested companies have until Sept. 18 to get in touch, the announcement reads.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 30, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Juan Garcia, a former Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives and naval aviator who befriended President Obama when they were classmates at Harvard Law School, has been tapped for a senior job in the Navy. The White House has announced plans to nominate Garcia to be the Navy’s assistant secretary for manpower and Reserve affairs. Last year, Garcia was rumored to be in the running for the Navy secretary job -- one blogger even declared he had been selected.

That turned out to be wrong, of course: The Navy secretary nomination went to Ray Mabus, a Navy veteran and former Mississippi governor who served as ambassador to Saudi Arabia in the 1990s.

Here’s Garcia’s bio, as released by the White House:

Mr. Garcia was a member of the Texas House of Representatives, where he represented the 32nd District from 2006 - 2009. He is currently an attorney with Hartline, Dacus, Barger, Dreyer & Kern, L.L.P in Corpus Christi, TX. Previously, Mr. Garcia was a White House Fellow, serving as a special assistant to Richard Riley, the Secretary of Education. Since 1992 Mr. Garcia has been a Naval Aviator, and is currently the Commanding Officer of Naval Reserve Training Squadron 28. Mr. Garcia earned a B.A. from the University of California in Los Angeles, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an M.P.P. from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

By John Liang
April 29, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), one of the co-founders of the Congressional Missile Defense Caucus, today slammed the Obama administration's proposed billion-dollar-plus cut to the Missile Defense Agency's fiscal year 2010 budget. Speaking at a Capitol Hill symposium sponsored by the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, he said:

Secretary Gates announced President Obama's missile defense budget would reflect a $1.4 billion cut from last year's budget, which was $8.9 billion. Last year's Missile Defense Agency would have requested $9.45 billion for FY-10. So, this cut is worse than a $1.4 billion cut. It's actually around $1.85 billion, and since they are increasing other platforms, such as ((Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense)) and Aegis ((Ballistic Missile Defense)), the programs that have been cut have most likely been completely eliminated. Some people ask: If President Obama is going to plus-up some of our theater defenses even though it is going to come at the expense of long-range defenses and less-mature systems, is this really that bad? The answer is yes. It is really that bad.

Franks went on to emphasize the layered aspect of missile defense:

We must have defenses against short-, medium-, and long-range missiles. We must also have defenses to intercept missiles in every phase of flight: boost, midcourse and terminal. When we gut programs that defeat the enemy's missiles in their boost phase, we must fund another program that will step in to fill that gap. The Obama missile defense cuts do not do that. We know they are significantly cutting the Airborne Laser program, and the secretary was mysteriously quiet about ((the Kinetic Energy Interceptor)). I think this means it will take a significant cut. The program has already suffered serious setbacks because of budget cuts. Congress creates a self-fulfilling prophecy when it makes funding of a program contingent on the success of that program, but then it refuses to provide the funding necessary for success. It should come as no surprise that in such cases, a system will fail to meet knowledge points or will stagger in uncertainty as to what its objective even is. This has been the story of KEI and unfortunately we are doing it to ((the Airborne Laser program)) now. We are starving these systems.

As reported earlier this month, when asked about KEI on April 6, Gates said:

As for the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, "looking at the boost phase is an area that we're going to do more R&D," Gates said. "Clearly, there is great leverage in working in missile defense in the boost phase, because you catch it before you have the sophisticated threats or capabilities that might emerge -- decoys and things like that.

"But we've got to figure out what the right way forward is; what the right balance is between the mid-course and the terminal," he continued. "We've got now a good mid-course. We've got a good terminal capability. What do we need in the boost phase? What kind of attributes does it have for mobility and location, etc? Those are the things that we've got to understand before we go any further with the boost phase."