The Insider

By Dan Dupont
August 27, 2010 at 4:00 AM

The Pentagon announced last night that Raytheon has won a contract in the Excalibur 1B program. From the release:

Raytheon Co., Tucson, Ariz., was awarded on Aug. 25 a $22,781,932 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for Excalibur 155mm increment 1B unitary warhead M982E1 Precision Enhancement Projectile Qualification Phase. Work is to be performed at Tucson, Ariz., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2013. One bid was solicited with three received. ACC JM&L Contracting Center is the contracting activity (W15QKN-08-0530; Serial No. 1771).

More to come.

By Dan Dupont
August 26, 2010 at 2:44 PM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has issued another memo explaining his push for efficiency initiatives.

This follows an Aug. 16 memo that promised more guidance was forthcoming. It still is, but the new memo, dated Aug. 20, covers those initiatives that "require immediate guidance."

"These are initial steps in our effort to redirect overhead and support resources to more critical mission areas," he says.

The memo bullets five specific areas for immediate attention, covering the topics he laid out in the Aug. 16 memo and in earlier public remarks.

By John Liang
August 25, 2010 at 9:00 PM

Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn is OK with the media's focus on the portion of the Foreign Affairs article he wrote that deals with his declassification of a purported hack of U.S. military computer systems in 2008 (although some analysts are beginning to doubt that the hack was a foreign spy attack). That said, during a defense bloggers' conference call earlier today, he sought to highlight the article's focus on his "five pillars" of defending against cyber attacks:

1. Recognize cyberspace as a new domain of warfare (highlighted by the Pentagon's establishment of the new U.S. Cyber Command earlier this year);

2. Be able to respond "at network speed" to future cyber attacks;

3. Extend cyber protection to the U.S. civilian critical infrastructure;

4. Increase shared warning with international partners; and

5. Maintain U.S. technical dominance of the cyber domain.

The Pentagon is in the process of developing  a formal strategic document "over the course of the fall," with completion planned by the end of the year, according to Lynn.

By Dan Dupont
August 25, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Sources confirm this morning that the Army has canceled the current request for proposals for the Ground Combat Vehicle, with the requirements for the program under review. More to come.

By John Liang
August 24, 2010 at 8:40 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' recommendation to eliminate U.S. Joint Forces Command when lawmakers return from their August recess.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) agreed to a request from Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) to hold the hearing in September, which in addition to the proposed JFCOM closure will also "cover the full range of efficiency initiatives announced by Secretary Gates Aug. 9, 2010," according to a statement from Webb's office released today.

"I commend Chairman Levin for agreeing to schedule this important hearing on the future of JFCOM and the additional efficiency initiatives announced by Secretary Gates," Webb, who chairs the personnel subcommittee, said in his statement. "Congress has an essential constitutional oversight role in such matters. I believe that further action by the president or Secretary Gates should be suspended until Congress has had ample opportunity to review the full scope of the Secretary’s actions."

In his Aug. 23 response to Webb's request, Levin wrote: "I share the secretary's objectives of reducing 'duplication, overhead, and excess in the defense enterprise,' and instilling 'a culture of savings and restraint' across the Department of Defense. At the same time, I agree that the far-reaching initiatives announced by the Secretary deserve close scrutiny from our Committee."

By Dan Dupont
August 24, 2010 at 3:59 PM

The Army's new Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Acquisition Strategy contains some eye-popping numbers on the juggernaut that is the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle program.

Including all variants, the report states, the U.S. government has spent more than $40 billion to date on more than 25,000 MRAPs. That's 19,000 vehicles for the Army alone. All of the above were procured via 17 low-rate initial production contracts, the report states.

And a new Congressional Research Service report has more. Dated June 17, the report adds up all MRAP funds to date as such: "Through FY2010, Congress appropriated $34.95 billion for all versions of the MRAP. In March 2010, DOD reprogrammed an additional $3.9 billion from the Overseas Contingency Operations fund to MRAP procurement. Both the House and Senate have now approved an additional $1.2 billion for MRAP procurement included in the FY2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R.4899)."

Add to that the FY-11 DOD budget request of $3.4 billion for the MRAP Vehicle Fund and the total is well above $40 billion.

By John Liang
August 24, 2010 at 2:10 PM

The Missile Defense Agency's intercept test of the Airborne Laser Test Bed scheduled for early this morning was postponed again, according to an agency statement:

The planned experiment involving the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) today is delayed because of unsuccessful tracking beam calibration engagements by the ALTB against an airborne diagnostic aircraft (surrogate target). The calibrations must be successfully completed prior to firing the aircraft's main directed energy beam.

The target missile was not launched. Program officials will determine the next opportunity to conduct the experiment.

The delay marks the fourth time MDA has had to delay its test of intercepting a boosting ballistic missile. As reported Aug. 17:

The agency was trying to intercept a boosting ballistic missile at a range twice the distance from the previous shoot-down in February, MDA Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly said yesterday before the shoot-down test. The test delay marks the second postponement within the last 30 days.

The intercept attempt had been scheduled to take place two weeks ago, but was postponed due to a problem with the stand that holds up the target missile, O'Reilly told reporters at an Aug. 17 Defense Writers Group breakfast. A follow-up attempt was scheduled for Sunday night, but a software glitch in one of the system's tracking modules pushed it back again to last night. The test window opened at around 1 a.m. EST, he added.

By Carlo Muñoz
August 24, 2010 at 4:00 AM

This week's announcement that Iran has successfully developed an unmanned strike capability has raised the stakes in an already tenuous relationship between Tehran and Washington.

According to recent reports in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the weaponized aerial drone will be able to carry upwards of four cruise missiles, and strike targets within 620 miles. During the aircraft's unveiling ceremony on Sunday, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the work on the program was "only the beginning" of the country's efforts to acquire next-generation weapon technology.

While many regional and military experts regard the announcement as mere posturing -- especially in light of the international pressure over Iran's nuclear program -- and question the aircraft's true capability, the notion that potential adversaries could field advanced unmanned weapons systems against U.S. forces has prompted DOD to take action.

In January, Inside the Pentagon reported that Pentagon officials were drafting a new concept of operations to address the threat of UAVs to U.S. forces. The concept focused on counter-UAS capabilities against small to medium tactical drones, as well as integrated air missile defense threats, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Alison McBain, chief of the counter-UAS branch at the Joint UAS Center of Excellence, said in a Jan. 12 interview.

Israel was forced to temporarily shut down all aerial operations when militants tied to the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah were able to field a crude UAV against Israeli forces during the country's war with Lebanon in 2006

By John Liang
August 23, 2010 at 4:39 PM

The Pentagon has set up "Aristotle," an internal social networking site for its science and technology community, according to a statement released earlier this month by the Defense Technical Information Center and posted on the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's website:

Aristotle provides a secure environment for scientists, engineers, researchers and program managers to network, create and collaborate with other experts in the S&T community.

Aristotle is a Web-based social media tool that adds a new dimension to professional social networking for DoD employees. Users not only network with other individuals; they can link to Topics, Projects and Documents. Aristotle provides situational awareness of the larger DoD S&T community. This powerful application helps S&T professionals do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. Users can organize and share information, and collaborate with colleagues around the world on Projects; gather, prioritize and utilize information; and keep up-to-speed on developments in areas vital to their work. Through Aristotle, users have access to DTIC's technical reports and research summaries.

Federal government and DoD employees and their contractors must register with DTIC to access Aristotle. In addition to the security provided by the requirement to sign on with a userid and password or by using a registered Common Access Card (CAC), users can assign permissions to everything they create in or upload to Aristotle.

By Sebastian Sprenger
August 20, 2010 at 7:41 PM

The final version of the Army Operating Concept, published Aug. 19, is a bit more vague than previous drafts when it comes to characterizing modularity. “Wartime experience has been contrary to the implicit assumptions that underpinned the modular Army's design,” read a June 15 draft of the AOC, first reported by Inside the Army. The sentence is nowhere to be found in the final document, however. The assessment led to a June 21 ITA front-page review titled “Army Finds Some Tenets of Modularity Don't Pass Muster During War.”

Here is the old, draft passage in question:

Wartime experience has been contrary to the implicit assumptions that underpinned the modular Army’s design. For example, the assumption that advanced surveillance systems could maintain situational awareness adequate to secure empty spaces between units operating in non-contiguous areas of operations has proven false. In addition, the assumption that headquarters could assign, attach, and detach units with little or no degradation in the cohesion and combat effectiveness of those units or their higher headquarters has also been proven false. Accordingly, future Army organizations place significantly greater emphasis on the value of organically assigned and habitually associated Army forces to ensure the level of trust, cohesion, confidence, and common understanding required for successfully operating decentralized.

And here is the final version:

Future Army organizations place increased emphasis on the value of organically assigned and habitually associated forces to achieve the level of trust, cohesion and common understanding required to operate decentralized consistent with mission command. By reducing the continuous assignment, attachment and detachment of units and promoting predictable command relationships at all echelons, particularly in the case of activated reserve component units, Army forces prevent unnecessary degradation of the cohesion and combat effectiveness of their units.

By John Liang
August 20, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) today issued a statement on the use of private security contractors in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently issued a decree calling for the dissolution of most private security companies operating in Afghanistan, and Levin says:

The reliance on private security contractors in Afghanistan too often empowers local warlords and powerbrokers who operate outside the Afghan government's control. There is even evidence that some security contractors work against coalition forces, creating the very threat that they are hired to combat. Not only do these contractors threaten the security of our troops, but they put the success of our mission at risk -- an assessment that Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, and Major General Nick Carter, the Commander of Regional Command South, both shared with me during my recent trip to Afghanistan.

President Karzai has said he wants to get rid of most private security contractors in Afghanistan.  I agree with that.  We need to work with President Karzai to come up with a realistic plan to accomplish that goal – one that not only shuts off the spigot of U.S. dollars flowing into the pockets of warlords and powerbrokers, but attracts rank and file contractor personnel to the Afghan national security forces.  The challenge is significant, but the risk posed by maintaining the status quo is greater.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is nearing completion of a year-long investigation into private security contracting in Afghanistan, according to Levin's statement.

By Jason Sherman
August 19, 2010 at 5:19 PM

The Aerospace Industries Association has highlighted 10 things it argues the Defense Department can do within the current acquisition regulatory framework to wring costs from the procurement system.

The list is drawn from a package of 97 initiatives AIA submitted to the Defense Department in late July in response to Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter's call on June 28 for ideas from industry on how to restore affordability and productivity in defense spending, Richard Sylvester, AIA's vice president for acquisition policy told

Here are some things that we believe DOD can implement immediately, within their power to do. They can put into effect today and they can begin to accumulate cost savings.

The recommendations, delivered to DOD on Aug. 17, include:

* Propose additional multi-year procurements.

* Increase the use of long term performance- and outcome-based product support contracts.

* Expand the definition of commercial products to include defense products with competitive direct commercial sales to foreign governments and buys “of a type” and use commercial-type contracts for commercial items.

* Reduce the volume of cost or pricing data for all proposals, especially for those where such data does not already exist or for re-procurements when no significant changes have occurred.

* Re-institute timely enterprise-wide rate negotiation and use of forward pricing rates.

* Eliminate serial reviews of contractor proposals prior to negotiation.

* Reinvigorate the use of weighted guidelines to develop profit objectives. Recognize contract technical difficulty and contractor cost saving initiatives.

* Combine multi-agency compliance reviews.

* Establish a single point DCMA/DCAA authority at major primes to drive commonality and consistency.

* Base audits on materiality and risk.

By Christopher J. Castelli
August 19, 2010 at 4:36 PM

The White House issued an executive order Aug. 18 to establish a Classified National Security Information Program designed to safeguard and govern access to classified national security information that is shared by the federal government with state, local, tribal and private sector (SLTPS) entities. The program -- which uses non-disclosure agreements to keep secrets under wraps -- is led by the Department of Homeland Security, but the Pentagon will have a seat on a new SLTPS Policy Advisory Committee, the order states.

"The level of access granted shall not exceed the Secret level, unless the sponsoring agency determines on a case-by-case basis that the applicant has a demonstrated and foreseeable need for access to Top Secret, Special Access Program, or Sensitive Compartmented Information," according to the order.

Also on Aug. 18, the White House issued a separate executive order establishing a temporary Pakistan and Afghanistan Support Office in the State Department. The office will "perform the specific project of supporting executive departments and agencies in strengthening the governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan, enhancing the capacity of those governments to resist extremists, and maintaining an effective U.S. diplomatic presence in both countries," the order states.

By John Liang
August 19, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will be among the featured speakers at next week's annual AUVSI Unmanned Systems conference in Colorado. Other speakers include: Air Force Brig. Gen. H.D. Palumbo, currently director of plans and programs at Air Combat Command who has been selected for promotion to major general and reassignment as director of plans and programs for U.S. Africa Command; Brig. Gen. Dana Born, dean of the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy; and Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall.

By Cid Standifer
August 18, 2010 at 5:18 PM

The Marine Corps Force Structure Review ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates will begin in September and should wrap up this winter, according to a statement issued by the service.

And: It will not address end-strength numbers.

The statement says that the review will focus on capabilities and, specifically, options for "multi-capable Marine Air Ground Task Forces that can disaggregate and aggregate to engage, respond to crises, rapidly project power, and assure access."

"There is no active-duty end strength target; the results will be based on the Force Structure Review Group's (FSRG) analysis of the capabilities and capacity required," the statement quotes Marine Corps Combat Development Command head Lt. Gen. George Flynn as saying.

The review also "must not reduce current readiness," the release adds.

"The intent is to ensure the Marine Corps is designed first and foremost, to remain our Nation's premier crisis response force," the release says. "The implications of this are many, including the requirement for Marine forces that are adaptable, highly trained and organizationally and operationally flexible. The Corps must be expeditionary -- light, powerful, sustainable, and able to operate where there is no infrastructure."

The statement matches what Secretary Gates said recently to a Marines' Memorial Association gathering in California about the Corps' future role, which he suggested might not include plans for large-scale amphibious assaults.

"The counterinsurgency skills the Marines developed during this past decade," Gates said, "combined with the agility and esprit honed over two centuries, will position the Corps in my view to be at the 'tip of the spear' in the future, when the U.S. military is likely to confront a range of irregular and hybrid conflicts."

Navy Under Secretary Robert Work recently told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the decisions from the force structure review could start influencing investment decisions as soon as next summer.

"The earliest you might see concrete changes to the structure, organization and size of the Marine Corps is in [the fiscal year 2013 program objective memorandum], but all of the changes are going to be conditions-based on what happens in Afghanistan, obviously," Work added. "If we're still hard in the fight, then the Marine Corps will stay focused on that fight, but we will at least be thinking of what the Marine Corps might look like."