The Insider

By John Liang
August 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Environmentalists are weighing the possibility of new litigation against the Army in light of a recent environmental assessment that proposes to re-start a controversial project that would relocate more than 1,000 desert tortoises, an endangered species, to make way for expanded training at the Army's Ft. Irwin, CA, National Training Center, Defense Environment Alert reports this week:

The Army last year suspended an initial translocation project at its National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, CA, after it saw a high mortality rate among translocated desert tortoises. A spokesman for Ft. Irwin says the predation number was a surprise. The Army also had been sued by environmentalists in 2008 over the project, but the suit was dismissed after the Army and other federal agencies reinitiated consultation under the Endangered Species Act over the impacts of the relocation project, and the Army agreed to revise its recovery plan for the tortoise.

Now the Army is looking to fulfill plans to relocate the tortoises from two training expansion areas at the NTC. But predation is an issue environmental activists believe should still be addressed under the latest relocation project.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) late last month released a draft environmental assessment analyzing the impacts of an Army plan to translocate desert tortoises from the Southern Expansion Area (SEA) and Western Expansion Area (WEA) of the NTC to BLM and other Army-managed lands. The SEA is approximately 24,000 acres of new training land, while the WEA is approximately 70,000 acres of new training property. The Army wants to transfer the desert tortoises out of the new training areas in order to protect them from training impacts. The military intends to use the new areas for both air and ground training. Both of these areas had been designated as critical habitat in 1994 for the desert tortoise. In order to allow the training use, the Army must comply with certain conservation measures and conditions.

Inside the Army reported in July 2008 that the service has planned to add 5,000 soldiers and increase training rotation capacity to 12 at Ft. Irwin, and prepared a draft programmatic environmental impact statement considering the “impacts associated with the stationing and training of new soldiers at Fort Irwin,” according to a June 2008 Federal Register notice. As ITA reported:

The move stems from an April 2002 record of decision that opted to go forward with the 30-year phased implementation of the service’s transformation from a division-based force to a modular, brigade-based Army.

“The Army leadership determined that the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) should transform over a period of several years to become a MultiComponent Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT), deployable throughout the world,” the notice explains. “Other smaller units would also be stationed at Fort Irwin.” The document, dated June 27, explains that training rotations would increase, as would the number of soldiers stationed at the base.

“Additional cantonment and range construction would be necessary to support the increase in rotations and troops,” it adds.

By Christopher J. Castelli
August 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said today that a cargo ship that mysteriously disappeared has been found near the Cape Verde archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, according to wire service reports.

He said details would be forthcoming about what happened to the ship, which is called the Arctic Sea, as well as why communications with it were lost and why it changed its itinerary.

Why we point this out: Search efforts over the last past 10 days reportedly involved rare coordination between Russia and NATO.

And: Yesterday, Finnish authorities dismissed talk that the vessel was carrying nuclear cargo.

By Jason Sherman
August 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department today unveiled a major overhaul of its main Web portal, incorporating a number of social networking tools in a bid to begin a new form of communication with the American public, according to a senior Pentagon official.

“We need to embrace these technologies. We need to use them because that’s what the young people use these days. We need to communicate with them,” said Price Floyd, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, told American Forces Press Service, a Pentagon new service.

In addition to a new domain name -- -- the Pentagon's embrace of Twitter and Facebook is intended to encourage commanders to launch their own social networking sites, Floyd said.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, twitters regularly, as does Floyd. U.S. European Command, U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan also have Facebook sites.

The new site invites visitors to propose questions to ask the defense secretary as well as to express an interest in learning more about select policy issues.

But: Will this embrace by DOD of social networking be short-lived?

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn last month commissioned an assessment -- due in two weeks -- of security risks associated with military-sponsored social networking sites. That report -- and, possibly, the early returns on the Web site unveiled today -- is expected to influence a formal policy by the end of September.

By Marjorie Censer
August 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army is in standing up a new center intended to improve the efficiency of its unmanned aircraft system efforts, service officials said last week.

At a conference in Washington, Tim Owings, the Army's deputy program manager for UAS, told reporters that the Army is relocating a number of its unmanned systems, including Shadow, Hunter and Sky Warrior, to Dugway Proving Ground, UT.

The consolidated site at Dugway is called the Rapid Integration and Acceptance Center, Owings said, and will include acceptance testing, logistics support, contractor training and quick reaction fielding, among other capabilities, according to his briefing slides.

Owings said he expects the consolidation at RIAC to "reduce the time line by about 75 percent in terms of integration time lines."

His briefing slides indicate that RIAC will be activated this fall, and Owings said the consolidation effort there will be complete 12 to 18 months from now.

By Jason Sherman
August 14, 2009 at 5:00 AM

After months spent constructing new five-year investment plans, the military services today are required to formally submit their fiscal year 2011 to 2015 spending proposals to the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

With this milestone, each of the service's four-star vice chiefs is polishing a presentation on their respective spending request to present in the coming weeks to Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn and other Pentagon leaders.

Lynn and his deputies will be assessing how well the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps funded nearly $60 billion worth of new capabilities that Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants in order to bolster the U.S. military's ability to conduct low- and high-end combat.

Today's so-called POM-lock also officially kicks off the program and budget review, which is being led by 18 issue teams and will conclude in late fall with decisions on where to adjust spending proposed today by the services.

By Sebastian Sprenger
August 13, 2009 at 5:00 AM

NATO is using a new Web site to solicit feedback from the public on the organization's plan for a new strategic concept, a key foundational document for the alliance. The existing concept dates back to 1999 -- years before September 11, the Afghanistan war, piracy and cyber attacks changed the international security environment, as NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen points out in an introductory video message on the site.

“The discussion forum will be your opportunity to help shape the new NATO,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen, by the way, seems well versed in the use of social media tools. He also has a video blog, a facebook account and a Twitter page.

By Sebastian Sprenger
August 13, 2009 at 5:00 AM

With the Quadrennial Defense Review considering the gamut of defense-related issues, Pentagon officials believe there may be no need to publish a separate National Defense Strategy in the wake of the review, a senior official told us recently.

“It's possible we'll choose to publish something, maybe in the late spring, but I suspect you'll see just the QDR,” Kathleen Hicks, the deputy under secretary of defense for strategy, plans and forces, said Aug. 6. “The QDR will have, within it, the defense strategy. But a stand-alone NDS, I wouldn't expect to see anytime in the near future,” she added.

Officials will, however, derive a new National Military Strategy from the QDR, Hicks said.

Unlike in the case of the NDS, updates to the NMS are required by law, she noted.

By Marjorie Censer
August 13, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Lockheed Martin today celebrated a milestone in its development of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, driving one of its operational prototypes through a banner to mark 50,000 miles of combined testing on four prototypes.

The company flew reporters up to its headquarters in Owego, N.Y., to view the celebration as well as to test drive the newest prototype.

The milestone follows the completion of a preliminary design review here last week. The JLTV program office held PDRs with each of the three industry teams competing in the technology development phase of the program, which is intended to produce a next-generation humvee for the Army and Marine Corps.

Lockheed Martin is teamed with BAE Systems' Armor Holdings division in the effort.

The other teams in the TD phase are AM General working with General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems of York, PA, partnered with Navistar.

For more details on the PDRs and the road ahead for the JLTV, check out the next issue of Inside the Army on Monday.

By Thomas Duffy
August 12, 2009 at 5:00 AM

While official Washington slumbers through another hot August, members of the missile defense community will gather in Huntsville, AL, next week for the 12th Annual Space and Missile defense Conference sponsored by the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command.

The event takes place at Huntsville's Von Braun Center Aug 17-20. According to a notice issued by the command, the theme for this year's conference is “Space and Missile Defense . . .the path forward.”

SMDC also tells us that:

This year's SMD Conference will have an international emphasis, including information on ballistic missile defense in Europe and China. The conference will also emphasize a "Joint" nature. Exhibits and presentations on topics such as future technologies, Army Way Ahead, tactical perspectives, operational perspectives, increasing roles in each of the services, and operationally responsive space will explore these issues with attendees.

According to the command's notice, the confirmed speakers include Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff; NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr.; Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, commander, US Strategic Command; Lt. Gen. Kevin T. Campbell, commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT); Lt. Gen. Larry D. James, commander, 14th Air Force; Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director, Missile Defense Agency; Maj. Gen. (P) Robert P. Lennox, G-8 nominee; Brig. Gen. Kurt S. Story, deputy commander for operations SMDC/ARSTRAT; and Alabama Congressman Parker Griffith (D).

By Jason Sherman
August 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense industry executives from six competing firms have joined voices in a bid to remind Defense Secretary Robert Gates of his commitment last year to a sweeping assessment of the U.S. military's vertical-lift needs.

In a July 25 letter to Gates -- which was coordinated by Rhett Flater, executive director of the American Helicopter Society International -- the six executives use a soft touch to prompt the secretary about his 2008 pledge, which is to say, they register no explicit request.

We would like to express our strong support for your DOD Future Vertical Lift initiative to develop a joint approach to the future development of vertical lift aircraft for all the military services.

It's not every day that executives from competing defense firms lend their signature to a common letter. But they all clearly would like the Pentagon to package a new competition for a multibillion dollar helicopter program.

Signing the letter along with Flater are: Richard Millman, president and CEO of Bell Helicopter Textron; Jeffrey Pino, president and CEO of Sikorsky Aircraft; Philip Dunford, vice president and general manager of Boeing's rotorcraft systems; Scott Rettig, president and CEO of AgustaWestland; David Oliver, chief operating officer, EADS North America; and Marillyn Hewson, president and CEO of Lockheed Martin Systems Integration.

Last May, Gates directed the Pentagon’s acquisition shop to spearhead a comprehensive review of the U.S. military’s rotorcraft needs. He directed a two-year assessment that was expected to influence the requirements for a joint heavy lift aircraft and a joint multirole helicopter for future reconnaissance and attack missions, according to industry officials. The executives, in their letter, recap their hopes for this effort:

We believe that this initiative, consisting of (a) common requirements definition via a Capabilities Based Assessment; (b) early integration of the Science and Technology community to define the technological art of the possible and to reduce risk; and (c) a Joint Strategic Plan identifying the path ahead to develop and field new capabilities, shows the potential to be an unusually successful approach to support current and future warfighters. We also view it as identifying a clear way ahead for the Department of Defense and for the vertical flight industry. It will allow us to conduct informed industry research and engineering and to be better able to focus precious Independent Research and Development resources on DOD’s areas of greatest need. We believe the integrated approach of your Future Vertical Lift initiative will allow the development, maturation and fielding of truly Joint, revolutionary capabilities more quickly and at less cost to the Government.

August 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department announced this afternoon the appointment of two new senior Pentagon officials and the reassignment of a third. According to DOD the people, and the jobs, are as follows.

Robert J. Butler has been appointed to the Senior Executive Service and will be assigned as deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber and space policy, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Washington, D.C. Butler previously served with Computer Sciences Corp., San Antonio, Texas.

Michael C. McDaniel has been appointed to the Senior Executive Service and will be assigned as deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense strategy and force planning, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Washington, D.C. McDaniel previously served with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Lansing, Mich.

Marcel J. Lettre II is assigned as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, Washington, D.C. Lettre previously served with the principal director for countering weapons of mass destruction, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Washington, D.C.

By Jason Sherman
August 10, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Security challenges caused by increasing global temperatures offer the United States and China new opportunities for military cooperation, particularly in Africa. That is a finding offered by Rymn Parsons -- a naval reservist and attorney with Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Norfolk, VA -- in a new monograph published by the Army War College.

The U.S. military is the best vehicle, most notably in areas in which conflict is occurring or where civil government is ineffective or not present, for enabling diplomacy, development, and defense, as part of a preventative, collective security construct. The military’s reach, capability, and durability in these circumstances are obvious (but not limitless) advantages.

So, too, is the military’s capacity to connect and coordinate external and internal entities, not merely indigenous and foreign security forces, but also regional and international governing organizations and non-governmental organizations. Sub-Saharan Africa would be a particularly good place to address the challenges that climate change is causing and will produce. It is also a particularly good place to take advantage of opportunities that environmental engagement offers. Working together with African militaries, AFRICOM and the PLA ((China's People's Liberation Army)) can enable security and stability projects focused on global warming and other climate change phenomena.

The intelligence community last year concluded that climate change will degrade U.S. military readiness by diverting key transportation assets and combat support forces. The Pentagon, at the direction of Congress, is currently examining the national security implications of climate change in the Quadrennial Defense Review.

By Sebastian Sprenger
August 7, 2009 at 5:00 AM

That term became the new mantra among Defense Department officials some years ago when roadside bombs in Iraq were killing dozens of U.S. forces every month, with no end in sight. It symbolized a shift in attention -- mainly through intelligence and good old fashioned police work -- toward understanding and disabling the networks of bomb makers behind the deadly attacks.

Similar thinking is apparently going on among the nation's intelligence agencies charged with stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, according to a speech by a top official this week.

In the past, counter-WMD efforts often were understood as a "technical" discipline providing "descriptive analysis" to U.S. decision-makers, National Counterproliferation Center Director Kenneth Brill said in a speech this week at the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy.

But officials now are increasingly trying to figure out the motivations of WMD-seeking adversaries and deduce from those potential strategies to "discourage, prevent, rollback and deter" their WMD programs, Brill said.

"To get to the left of the proliferation problem, we need to learn about and understand a state’s motivations, determine ways to address those motivations and identify what levers and opportunities can be applied or exploited to dissuade interest in WMD," according to Brill.

"The Intelligence Community, in coordination with partners across the U.S. government -- is instituting a new watchfulness to guide its action -- watchful for nascent WMD programs, watchful for levers that can discourage such programs, and watchful for the threats that have been made real in this era of globalization," he said.

By Marjorie Censer
August 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

After seven years of underfunding of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama will have to funnel more resources to Afghanistan operations if he hopes to win there, according to a new report.

The report, written by Anthony Cordesman and Erin Fitzgerald of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argues that the Bush administration dramatically underresourced the wars both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The Bush Administration failed to develop a meaningful long-term strategy or plan for the Iraq and Afghan Wars, while also failing to properly resource its wars and produce sound budgets," a summary of the report reads. "For the past eight budgets, the Department of Defense requested emergency supplemental or 'bridge' funding outside of the regular defense budget."

Consequently, the administration and DOD "never developed a consistent or credible long-term funding profile for war fighting, nor did it properly manage either conflict," the summary adds.

Only beginning in fiscal year 2009, the report says, did the administration "began to fund the war seriously."

But, it adds, Obama now must "deal with two badly managed and budgeted wars." In Iraq, he must handle the withdrawal of forces, while in Afghanistan he must "now pay far more to compensate for a past Administration's grand strategic failures or risk losing the war in Afghanistan."

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

The White House yesterday released a memo outlining the Obama Administration's science and technology priorities for fiscal year 2011.

The document sets out four "practical challenges" to which agencies must divert dollars from "lower-priority" projects.

As for defense-related themes, the memo lists as one of the four practical challenges "technologies needed to protect our troops, citizens and national interests, including those needed to verify arms control and nonproliferation agreements essential to our security."

The document gets more concrete in a section prescribing four "cross-cutting areas," which agencies also must sufficiently fund.

According to the memo, investments will be needed to enhance U.S. space capabilities because they are "essential for communications, geopositioning, intelligence gathering, Earth observation and national defense, as well as for increasing our understanding of the universe and our place in it."