The Insider

By Cid Standifer
May 12, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Marines this morning that he believes units will reach a two-to-one or three-to-one dwell ratio in the next few years, despite the Marine Corps' intent to cut back on end strength, but some low-density high-demand specialties likely will continue to experience low dwell time.

At a town hall meeting in Camp Lejeune, NC, Gates said he expects the decline in the number of troops to balance out with the drawdown in Afghanistan. “The goal is to get to one-to-two, so for every, let's say, every six months deployed, you get at least a year at home,” he told Marines. “I think as we draw down in Afghanistan over the next three years, the dwell will probably increase beyond that.”

However, he said there was “no question in [his] mind” that some specialties would not reach that goal. Specifically, he named military police, intelligence analysts, ordinance disposal personnel and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance experts. "We just don't have enough of those specialties to fill the requirement,” he said, “so we're still having to deal with a fair amount of individual augmentees.”

Gates said he hopes that before he steps down from his position, he can “tee up” some of the difficult budgetary decisions the Defense Department will have to make. He said he fears cuts that would maintain today's force structure without providing the proper manpower and training to sustain it. “Across-the-board cuts, as far as I'm concerned, represent managerial cowardice,” he said.

Instead, he pledged to focus on “third-rail issues” like compensation for working-age retirees and Tricare premiums, as well as forcing commanders to accept some force-structure risk. For example, he questioned the likelihood that the United States could someday simultaneously be at war in two regions against enemies like Iran and North Korea.

“If you want to change the size of the budget in a dramatic way, what risk are you prepared to take in terms of future threats to the country?” he asked.

Gates noted that the budget cuts may not proceed in a logical and sensible manner as politics impacts the process. As an example, he pointed to the continuing resolutions on the fiscal year 2011 budget that Congress renewed multiple times earlier this year before passing an appropriations bill last month. “[They] were incredibly irrational and caused us to do incredibly stupid things,” he said.

By Christopher J. Castelli
May 12, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn spoke Wednesday evening in New York about managing the defense enterprise in a drawdown as the Obama administration seeks to cut security spending by $400 billion by fiscal year 2023.

"To undertake this evaluation, we have begun a comprehensive review to frame our choices in terms of strategy, missions, and capabilities rather than budget targets alone," Lynn said. (His speech is here.) "This review will focus on how to ensure that we preserve a superb defense force to meet national security goals, even if fiscal pressure requires reductions in size."

DOD must reject the traditional approach of making unbalanced reductions or applying across the board cuts that preserve overhead and force structure yet hollow out the force and harm the industrial base, Lynn noted.

The review will lay out key "policy choices," he said: "What missions are we doing today that we will not do tomorrow? What are the implications for our force structure and overseas deployments? What capabilities will be essential to meeting future national security threats? How will we balance the threat from near-peer competitors against that posed by low-end actors?"

The Pentagon must avoid embarking on unaffordable programs, but also "pare back" its missions to those deemed "essential," he said. DOD must "balance reductions across force structure, operating, and investment accounts," he noted, adding the department must "not to cut too much, too fast, especially from core mission areas."

DOD is not looking for further consolidation in the top tier of the defense industrial base, though it is not necessarily opposed to consolidation, he said. Also key to the industrial base: international sales.

"For us, the issue is how to slow defense spending responsibly while retaining the most effective fighting force in the world," he said. "For industry, it is how to adjust to a less robust defense market while maintaining their technological prowess."

DOD needs industry partners "interested in sustained performance, not highly leveraged companies who ignore risk in pursuit of profits," he said. "We are in this for the long haul, and need industrial partners and financial backers who think and act likewise. In this respect, our viewpoint is similar to long-term investors, not short-term speculators."

"Think Warren Buffet, not Gordon Gekko," Lynn said.

By John Liang
May 12, 2011 at 12:24 AM

The House Appropriations defense subcommittee will mark up its portion of the fiscal year 2012 spending bill on June 1, with the full committee scheduled to vote on June 14, according to a panel statement released today.

Included in today's statement was a list of 302(b) "notional subcommittee funding limits" which lists defense spending limits at $530 billion, compared to the Obama administration's just-under $539 billion. According to the panel statement:

While the House floor schedule is maintained and directed by the House Leadership, the Chairman's schedule helps pave the way for at least nine of the 12 bills to be considered on the House floor before August 5th, with the consideration of the remaining bills in September before the end of the fiscal year on September 30th.

Chairman Rogers said that this schedule will help avoid a perilous budget situation like the one that occurred earlier this year, which caused the final FY 2011 Appropriations to be approved seven months late and prompted arduous negotiations and threats of a government shutdown.

"I promised when I became Chairman that I would complete our Appropriations work on time and on budget, and I will do everything I can to fulfill that promise," Chairman Rogers said. "Congress has a responsibility to the American people to complete this legislation before the end of the fiscal year so that vital programs and services can be funded adequately and sensibly. We must rebuild Americans' confidence in the way the government spends its taxpayer dollars and avoid the uncertainty and expense often caused by past-due Appropriations bills."

In addition, reflecting the critical need for significant budget reductions to help cut back the nation's looming debt, Rogers announced lean funding limits for each of the 12 Appropriations subcommittees. The levels are based on the Budget Resolution the House passed last month and include a reduction of nearly $46 billion from last year's (FY 2011) levels for non-security programs.

"Facing record-high deficits, this year, more than ever, we must make the hard budget decisions to help rein in spending. The Appropriations bills this year will include double-digit reductions for virtually every non-security area of government, while providing additional resources for the nation's critical and urgent needs -- such as our national defense. Many of these cuts will not win any popularity contests, but these types of reductions are imperative to overcoming our unparalleled fiscal crisis so that we can get our economy moving, create jobs and provide future financial security," Chairman Rogers said.

By John Liang
May 11, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Last month's strong tornadoes in Alabama have pushed back the release date for the Missile Defense Agency's medium-range ballistic missile targets draft request for proposals, according to a notice posted today on Federal Business Opportunities.

"Due to the inclement weather during the week of 25 April and associated impacts to MDA operations, the current projection for the release of the Draft RFP is on or about 16 May 2011," the notice states. MDA had originally planned to release the document on May 5.

According to the original synopsis posted April 14:

Under FEDBIZOPPS announcement HQ0147-09-R-0011, released on July 2, 2009, the Government announced intent to award competitive, fixed priced and cost-reimbursement contract(s) to continue support of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Element and System Flight Tests, to include Short Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM), Medium Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM), Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), and Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) target systems.

This pre-solicitation notice specifically addresses MDA's MRBM Target Class requirements. MRBM requirements include development and manufacturing of MRBM, integrated logistics support to include inventory storage and maintenance, pre and post mission analysis, ground and air launch preparation and execution, and engineering services to include Ballistic Missile Defense System modeling and simulation support. The requirement is for targets under a contract including cost-reimbursement and fixed priced contract line items.

MDA anticipates issuing a final RFP in August, with contract award in mid-2012, according to the notice.

In February, MDA put a stop to its effort to build a new class of long-range, intercontinental ballistic missile targets. In a Feb. 16 FedBizOpps notice, MDA stated: "Due to reprioritization of the test events planned under the Missile Defense Agency Integrated Master Test Plan, the Government hereby provides notification to industry that the pending release of the ICBM Targets Request for Proposal (RFP) is canceled. The Missile Defense Agency will compete this requirement in the future at a time to be determined."

By John Liang
May 11, 2011 at 3:55 PM

The Defense Department will not undertake any major refinements to its data collection and reporting in tracking fiscal year 2011 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Defense Environment Alert reports this week. However, DOD will attempt some smaller improvements to its record-keeping following the release of its first-time comprehensive GHG inventory late last month. Further:

DOD's GHG emissions from its installations, purchased electricity and other non-combat-related consumption totaled 34 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) in FY10, according to the inventory, which was released on the heels of White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) scorecards evaluating federal agency performance in several sustainability areas, including GHG pollution reporting.

The inventory also revealed that DOD's military operations emitted more than 49 MTCO2e in FY 10 - far surpassing, as expected, the level of GHG emissions from its installations and other non-combat-related energy use. DOD's military operations are exempt from GHG reduction targets, but the military is still pursuing energy reduction and alternative fuels for operations that will have the added benefit of reducing GHG emissions.

DOD announced last month in conjunction with the OMB scorecards that it had made small cuts to its non-combat GHG emissions between 2008 and 2010 as it moves toward a target of reducing more than a third of its direct GHG emissions from non-combat related releases over the next decade (Defense Environment Alert, April 26).

Now, DOD and other agencies have released their first-time comprehensive inventories, indicating where they stand on GHG releases overall, and delineating specific types of releases, such as purchased electricity, fuel combustion and employee contributions, as well as the emissions it released from its military operations. The inventories and reduction targets are mandated by Executive Order (E.O.) 13514, signed in 2009.

By John Liang
May 10, 2011 at 5:49 PM

The Obama administration is touting joint demonstration projects between the Defense and Energy departments as a "test bed" for integrating renewable energy resources into the military and leveraging federal energy expertise to advance both DOD and national clean energy policy goals, Defense Environment Alert reports this week. Further:

The demonstration projects are part of an energy security initiative the Pentagon, separate branches of the military -- including the Navy as the largest contributor -- and five DOE national labs are participating in, according to the officials. The "Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security" (SPIDERS) projects are aimed at making military installations both self-sufficient "islands" apart from the commercial power grid while also enabling the bases to act as clean energy suppliers to the local grid.

Administration officials are framing the projects as measures within a broader push to advance clean energy technologies from the research and development (R&D) phase to commercialization, using DOD's sheer size to reduce the cost of the technologies through both deployment and increased scalability, according to the officials.

The clean energy technologies being eyed for advancement through the enhanced DOE-DOD collaboration include renewable resources, energy storage and lithium battery technologies, advanced vehicles and smart grid, according to officials and a DOE analysis detailing project goals.

Speaking at an April 26 White House event on the DOD-DOE joint energy strategy, DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman said the department has dispatched advisers to several military commands to help the branches advance their energy policy goals. Among the goals are the development of super-efficient "net-zero" energy buildings, advanced biofuels and so-called "drop-in" replacements for gasoline and diesel and smart grid deployment. The SPIDERS projects are a key piece in coordinating the development of these clean energy technologies to integrate and protect DOD's energy supplies, Poneman said.

A DOE spokesperson in an e-mail says the department "has energy advisers in the following commands: Central Command; Southern Command; European Command; and African Command. We will also be bringing on an energy adviser in the Pacific Command."

"These energy advisers serve as wide-ranging energy experts for the Commands, providing support to Command staff and leadership as various energy issues arise," says the spokesperson. "This can include providing expertise on energy infrastructure projects underway, operations planning, or implementing strategic energy objectives, among other things."

The SPIDERS demos are focused on developing more resilient and efficient electricity systems called "micro grids" for both generating and distributing electricity, said Poneman in his remarks at the forum. The projects will also put in place advanced metering and smart grid systems to protect the grid from cyber attack, according to DOE.

By John Liang
May 10, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Three Oklahoma lawmakers are questioning the Air Force's decision to eliminate "Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals" training units at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, OK, and Laughlin AFB, TX.

In a letter sent yesterday to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, Oklahoma Sens. James Inhofe (R), Tom Coburn (R) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R) ask the service leaders to provide "a detailed business case analysis for the proposed IFF move to include specific cost and efficiency data," claiming the decision "goes against the detailed recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) as well as Congressional intent."

In a statement, Inhofe said:

Although I fully support the Air Force's ongoing efforts to reduce costs during hard economic times, I remain skeptical that the proposed consolidation will lower costs and improve efficiency. The Air Force has cited a number of reasons for this consolidation, yet few details have been provided that prove moving IFF training from Vance and Laughlin AFB will save money and improve training.  This current decision by the Air Force runs counter to the conclusions contained in the 2005 BRAC Recommendations that were based on detailed analysis and modeling of all DoD missions and installations.  While I did not favor conducting the 2005 BRAC, it was approved by Congress meaning this Air Force decision could be at odds with the purpose of the BRAC Act and Congressional intent. I look forward to seeing the detailed business case analysis that explains how the 2005 BRAC data and savings are now no longer valid.

In the same statement, Lucas said:

The consolidation of the IFF mission away from Vance Air Force Base represents not only a significant deviation from the original BRAC 2005 recommendations, but also a departure from its intended function of reducing costs and maximizing efficiency. The IFF program at Vance AFB is renowned for its usage of unencumbered airspace that provides an exceptional training experience for pilots. That the IFF program at Vance is somehow so inefficient that it merits removal outside the auspices of BRAC warrants a serious congressional inquiry. For this reason, I join my colleagues in requesting that the Air Force provide the detailed information that demonstrates the most cost-effective basing alternative, and I look forward to their comprehensive response.

By Jason Sherman
May 9, 2011 at 8:54 PM

The Defense Department last week took delivery of the first Joint Strike Fighter production aircraft from Lockheed Martin, the company said in a statement, a milestone that was previously slated to occur last November. Congress authorized funding for the first JSF production aircraft in fiscal year 2007.

“This first aircraft is the beginning of the modernization of U.S. Air Force, Marine and Naval Air power and for our coalition partners around the world,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 program general manager. “The F-35 family of aircraft will bring an incredible increase in capability that our men and women defending us deserve. Today we begin to fulfill the vision of our government and international customers.”

The aircraft, AF-7, flew to Edwards Air Force Base, CA, on Friday to begin its flight-testing program, according to Lockheed.

Concerned that production F-35 aircraft were not ready for prime time, the Pentagon last fall directed six additional months of testing for the first Joint Strike Fighters off the assembly line, which pushed pilot testing until late summer of 2011, reported last November.

Instead of delivering the first two production aircraft to a training unit at Eglin Air Force Base, FL, at the end of 2010, as previously planned, the Pentagon directed Lockheed Martin to equip the initial Joint Strike Fighters production variants with testing instrumentation and directed them to Edwards Air Force Base, CA, for testing.

By Jason Sherman
May 9, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today proposed a fiscal year 2012 defense authorization bill including a provision that, if enacted, would require the defense secretary -- in consultation with the director of national intelligence -- to “carry out an assessment of the national security risks posed to the United States and United States allies as a result of the federal debt liability owned to China and the amount of interested determined to have been paid by the United States to China.”

In addition, the provision would direct the Congressional Budget Office to “determine and make public” how much the United States has paid China in interest over the past five years for funds Beijing has lend the U.S. government.

Early last year, two senior Chinese military officers -- Major Generals Zhu Chenghu and Luo Yuan and Senior Colonel Ke Chunqiao -- suggested dumping U.S. government bonds to retaliate against Washington's offer to sell Taiwan $6.7 billion in new weaponry, according to a Feb. 10 Reuters report.

In February, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, issued a new National Military Strategy that called the growing national debt a “significant security risk.”

Last week, the House Armed Services emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee, in its mark of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2012 authorization bill, directed the Pentagon to prepare a study on economic warfare threats.

By Cid Standifer
May 9, 2011 at 5:30 PM

The House Armed Services Committee mark-up of the fiscal year 2012 defense budget calls for the Department of the Navy to be renamed the Department of the Navy and the Marine Corps.

The mark-up, which was released today, would also change the position of Navy secretary to the secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps.

“This section would formally recognize the responsibility of the Office of the Secretary of the Navy over both the Navy and Marine Corps and the Marine Corps’ status as an equal partner with the Navy.,” the mark-up states.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing last fall that he believed the time was ripe for a name change.

“Where we are in 2010 today, because of where we have evolved, we are a pretty formidable force for our nation,” he said before the Senate Armed Services Committee in September. “And I think just viscerally . . . the average fleet Marine would look at the secretary [of the Navy] and say, 'Yeah, I'd like him to be called the secretary of the Navy and the secretary of the Marine Corps.'"

He added: "We paid a pretty healthy price in the last nine to 10 years of combat and we feel pretty relevant right now."

The debate over whether to rename the department has been ongoing in Congress for several years.

By John Liang
May 9, 2011 at 3:54 PM

The Missile Defense Agency plans to issue a sole-source solicitation to Raytheon's Integrated Defense Systems business unit, which it wants to build and deliver up to two AN/TPY-2 Forward-Based X-Band early-warning radars, according to a recent Federal Business Opportunities announcement.

Raytheon will also be required to include "initial spares for each AN/TPY-2 Radar system, March Order and Emplacement Trainers, a Radar Support Trailer, deployment package equipment, and options for Radar components to support fleet refurbishment and technical data," the notice states, adding: "Radars are required to be delivered not later than 3QFY14 and 4QFY14."

MDA said it doesn't want to compete the contract:

The proposed acquisition will be sole-source to Raytheon pursuant to the authority of FAR 6.302-1(a)(2)(ii) as the resulting contract is for highly specialized supplies and services where it is likely that award to any other source would result in substantial duplication of cost and unacceptable delays of the requirement. Raytheon has developed and manufactured seven AN/TPY-2 radars (with an eighth currently in production) as either the primary subcontractor for radar production on the THAAD Development contract (DASG60-00-C-0072) or as the prime sole-source contractor on the BMDS Radar contract (HQ0006-03-C-0047). No other company has manufactured the AN/TPY-2 radar or integrated the radar for operations in a forward-based or THAAD weapon system configuration. Only Raytheon is capable of such manufacturing and integration without substantial duplication of cost and unacceptable delays in fulfilling the agency's delivery requirements.

The proposed contract action is for supplies or services for which the Government intends to solicit and negotiate with only one source under the authority of FAR 6.302. This notice of intent is not a request for competitive proposals. All responsible sources may submit a capability statement, proposal, or quotation, within 15 days after publication of this notice which shall be considered by the agency. A determination by the Government not to compete this proposed contract based upon responses to this notice is solely within the discretion of the Government. Information received will normally be considered solely for the purpose of determining whether to conduct a competitive procurement.

By Tony Bertuca
May 6, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Nearly 140 members of Congress have signed a May 6 letter to Army Secretary John McHugh, urging him to reconsider the service's plans to cease buying Abrams tanks for three years.

“The cost of shutdown and restart of Abrams tank production appears to be more than the cost of continued limited production,” the letter states.

The lawmakers recommend that the Army purchase tanks at the rate of 70 per year between 2013 and 2016 to sustain the defense industrial base. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), whose district is adjacent to the Lima, OH, plant where the Abrams is produced, did not sign the letter, though his office has said he planned on asking McHugh to reexamine the issue.

General Dynamics Land Systems, the contractor for the Abrams, has been lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill to change the Army's strategy for several months, saying a three-year shutdown is a threat to the defense industrial base.

While the name of Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-OH), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, does not appear on the letter, he recently advocated keeping the Abrams production line open during a May 5 speech at the Heritage Foundation.

“Shutting down production then restarting at a later date costs more than just keeping the lines open,” he said. “This is a no-brainer.”

But the Army is arguing just the opposite, however, saying that shutting the line down for three years and restarting it again would cost only $800 million, as opposed to the $1.3 billion contractor General Dynamics Land Systems has proposed to keep it operating. But the service is revisiting its figures and has commissioned the Institute for Defense Analyses for a study that will deliver interim results in July and be completed in December.

By John Liang
May 6, 2011 at 7:20 PM

An Air Force spokesman just tweeted that today's scheduled launch of the first Space-Based Infrared System geosynchronous orbit satellite has been scrubbed.

The satellite was to have launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, using a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle sometime today between 2:14 to 2:54 p.m., according to a ULA statement. The ULA is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

GEO-1 will be the first in the constellation to provide scanning and staring infrared sensor data while flying over the equator, according to a Lockheed Martin statement. The satellite system will support critical national security missions that include missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness.

Inside Missile Defense reported this week that the Air Force plans to put about $555 million toward purchasing two SBIRS satellites in fiscal year 2013.

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter recently said the Defense Department needs to make changes concerning its space programs because they are too expensive:

"On space programs, we're paying too much," Carter said April 20 at the Heritage Foundation. "You'll see us doing a lot with the management of space programs coming up because there's way too much cost structure built into our space programs."

Carter said that these changes can be found with the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites, where DOD is looking "very aggressively" at the cost structure and considering the possibility of block buys. DOD is also looking at the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) and the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program.

As Inside the Air Force reported last month:

The success of the GEO-1 launch is critical because it is a follow-on program to the Defense Support Program (DSP), which is projected to have difficulties in the near future, said Gen. William Shelton, the commander of Air Force Space Command.

The new system will replace DSP, which has provided early warning for intercontinental ballistic missile launches since 1960.

Shelton said the Air Force has statistical projections for gaps in DSP service in the near future but would not discuss them. SBIRS is an expensive satellite system that has experienced several delays but it is important for officials to properly execute the program in May, he said during a Feb. 17 media roundtable at an Air Force Association conference in Orlando, FL.

GEO-1 will be the first in the constellation to provide scanning and staring infrared sensor data while flying over the equator, according to a Lockheed Martin statement. The satellite system will support critical national security missions that include missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness.

By John Liang
May 6, 2011 at 4:59 PM

Here's a Lockheed Martin statement on the F-22 stand-down:

Lockheed Martin is aware of the F-22 stand-down.  We deployed a five-person engineering team to Elmendorf AFB today to provide technical expertise and information to our USAF partner.

As we noted here yesterday, possible F-22 Raptor oxygen-system malfunctions prompted Air Combat Command this week to indefinitely stand down the entire stealth fighter fleet and investigate the matter.

UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: A Lockheed spokeswoman just told that the above statement was issued Wednesday.

By Jason Sherman
May 6, 2011 at 1:12 AM

Reports of possible F-22 Raptor oxygen-system malfunctions prompted Air Combat Command this week to indefinitely stand down the entire stealth-fighter fleet and investigate the matter, Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. John Haynes told Gen. William Fraser, ACC commander, ordered the precautionary move on May 3 to examine the reports "and ensure crews are able to safely accomplish their mission," Haynes said.