The Insider

By Jason Sherman
July 19, 2010 at 3:48 PM

That is the date tentatively set for the Marine Corps' change of command, according to Pentagon sources. The date -- which, of course, coincides with the ninth anniversary of terrorist attacks that triggered two wars -- is predicated on Senate confirmation of Gen. James Amos to replace Gen. James Conway to be the service's next commandant. No date for Amos' confirmation hearing is yet set but Pentagon sources are hopeful a hearing will be set later this month.

As for the change-of-command ceremony, one congressional official involved in defense matters questioned why such an event -- which, he said involves “a celebration” -- should take place on that date.

The hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 airplane that slammed into the Pentagon between corridor 4 and corridor 5 that day killed 64 passengers as well as 125 people inside the building.

By Jason Sherman
July 16, 2010 at 6:01 PM

The Canadian government today announced a $8.5 billion plan to replace its entire fleet of CF-18s with Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, a step that will secure 65 new F-35s for the Canadian military and $11.3 billion worth of steady work for Canadian aerospace companies.

Canada is one of eight partner nations that has invested in the stealthy aircraft  $168 million, to date) and its Minister of National Defense, Peter MacKay, explained the decision to acquire it in a statement today.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the best aircraft we can provide our men and women in uniform to face and defeat the challenges of the 21st century. This multi-role stealth fighter will help the Canadian forces defend the sovereignty of Canadian airspace, remain a strong and reliable partner in the defense of North America, and provide Canada with an effective and modern capability for international operations.

Jacques Gourde, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services and to the Minister of National Revenue, said:

Canadian participation in the Joint Strike Fighter program will bring high-value jobs and other economic benefits to our country. This government is delivering on our plan to strengthen Canada’s defence industry, leverage Canada’s competitive advantage and work with industry to help position Canadian companies for success in the global marketplace.

A fact sheet issued today by the Canadian defense ministry explains further:

Now that Canada has committed to purchasing the F-35, Canadian industrial opportunities could exceed CAD$12 billion [$11.3 billion] for the production of the aircraft. Sustainment and follow-on opportunities for Canadian industry are emerging and will be available over the 40-year life of the program. For instance, in accordance with the industrial participation agreements, all 19 Canadian companies manufacturing items for the F-35 will also repair and overhaul those components for the entire global fleet.

By Jason Sherman
July 15, 2010 at 9:06 PM

Ashton Carter, the Pentagon's acquisition executive, will lead a Defense Department delegation to the Farborough Air Show just outside London next week.

Traveling with him, according to a DOD spokeswoman, will be Brett Lambert, the Pentagon's industrial policy chief; David Ahern, who oversees acquisition efforts for the U.S. military's entire weapons system portfolio; and Alfred Volkman, head of international cooperation in AT&L.

By Dan Dupont
July 15, 2010 at 7:36 PM

The National Defense University and the Institute for National Strategic Studies is sponsoring an event next month that's centered on the premise, as stated in the symposium's title, that "economic security is national security."

It's slated for August 24 and 25 at Ft. McNair in Washington.

From the event description:

National Security includes the strength of our nation’s infrastructure, the foundation upon which the continuous growth of our society depends. This includes its strong societal and moral codes, the rule of law, stable government and political institutions and leadership. Also included are our nation’s schools and educational programs to ensure a knowledgeable citizenry and life-long learning including science, engineering, R&D and technological leadership but most of all a strong economy -- all the things Americans take for granted. Understanding the complex systems nature of National Security and why the economy is a part of the equation is the impetus for this symposium.

And the confirmed speakers:

  • The Honorable David M. Walker, President and CEO, Peter G. Peterson Foundation
  • Professor Leon Fuerth, Research Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University
  • Ms. Carmen Medina, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency
  • Dr. Claude Canizares, Associate Provost & VP for Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Larry Johnson, Director, Center for Transportation Technology R&D, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Dr. Sheila R. Ronis, Director, MBA/Management Programs, Walsh College
By Christopher J. Castelli
July 15, 2010 at 6:13 PM

Curious which acquisition programs will face Defense Acquisition Executive Summary (DAES) reviews in July and in the months to come? Check out today's Inside the Pentagon, which reports on the agenda for next week's DAES meeting and explains how major programs in three groups are reviewed on a rotating basis:

Group A is reviewed in January, April, July and September. Group B, which includes the Marine Corps' heavily scrutinized Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program, comes up for review in February, May, August and November. And Group C, which includes the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, is reviewed in March, June, September and December.

Then -- for a complete roster of all the programs slated for DAES reviews in July and the coming months -- read the May 12, 2010, "for official use only" DAES memo penned by Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's No. 2 acquisition official. The attachment is chock full of details.

By John Liang
July 15, 2010 at 3:35 PM

With Congress back in session after the July 4th break and with only a few weeks left before the longer August recess, supporters and detractors of ratifying the follow-on Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty are ratcheting up the debate.

In a letter sent yesterday to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), former Secretary of State George Schultz and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) are calling for New START's ratification:

The two of us also want to make clear our support for New START and express our hope that the committee can now move expeditiously with their report and a vote recommending New START for consideration by the full Senate. We recognize the importance of the Senate giving full consideration to the related hearings held by the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

We strongly endorse the goals of this Treaty -- to achieve a near-term reduction of nuclear weapons with mutually agreed verification procedures. We believe the threat of nuclear terrorism remains urgent, fueled by the spread of nuclear weapons, materials and technology around the world. While this is a global issue, there are two countries -- the United States and Russia -- whose cooperation is absolutely essential in order to successfully deal with current nuclear threats. With New START, our odds of establishing a more cooperative relationship with Russia improve -- recognizing this will be a process of engagement broader than any one treaty.

Not everyone is so supportive, however. Retired Navy Vice Adm. Robert Monroe, a former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency, wrote an op-ed in today's Washington Times seeking to rein in such irrational exuberance:

To date, Senate ratification hearings on the New START nuclear weapons treaty with Russia have been "love-ins." A parade of witnesses - mostly Obama administration members, elder statesmen committed to "a world without nuclear weapons," and veteran arms controllers - have painted the treaty as another modest, responsible reduction in numbers of weapons, a new nonproliferation initiative and an important element for "resetting" our relations with Russia.

This one-sided approach to a key national decision is not serving the country well. Ratification of New START would be a major mistake, immensely damaging to national security. Some of the reasons have been touched upon in testimony but not emphasized or seriously discussed. For example:

The treaty is unbalanced. It reduces U.S. nuclear weapons while allowing Russia unlimited increases in new tactical nuclear weapons, multiple independent re-entry vehicles, nuclear cruise missiles and nuclear bombs.

The treaty reduces U.S. strategic delivery vehicles (SDVs) below the minimum recommended by the Defense Department last year while allowing Russia to increase its SDVs.

The treaty is unverifiable. It does not even include the on-site inspections, telemetry access and missile-production monitoring of START-I, which it replaces.

The treaty gives Russia virtual veto power over future improvements in U.S. missile defense - America's vital first line of defense in tomorrow's world.

The treaty seriously undermines our promising Prompt Global Strike program (with conventional warheads) by requiring that each missile be counted as a nuclear SDV.

Our nuclear weapons modernization program - which is required by law to be considered with treaty ratification - is totally inadequate. It omits modernization of the nuclear weapons themselves; it omits testing of nuclear weapons to prove their viability; it omits construction of a pit (trigger) production facility of adequate capacity to rapidly replace our overaged stockpile; and it omits replacement of SDVs for two legs of our strategic triad. . . .

In sum, the Senate owes it to America to expand the New START ratification debate so that it fully addresses the true issue at stake - should America rely on strength or weakness as it faces the dangerous and unknown future? Hopefully, these hearings will stimulate the national debate the issue deserves.

And Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) isn't a fan of the treaty either, saying at a National Defense University Foundation breakfast this morning that "the great concern here that I have is the administration's arrogance to competency ratio is catastrophically out of balance."

By Thomas Duffy
July 14, 2010 at 9:16 PM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited with Senate Republicans yesterday and took the opportunity to ask them to help pass a supplemental appropriations bill that includes about $39 billion for Afghanistan operations. Over the past few months, Gates has warned that if the supplemental was not passed and signed into law by July 4 the Pentagon would have to make some drastic accounting moves to support troops in combat.

During a press briefing today, Gates' spokesman, Geoff Morrell, laid out where the department stands:

I think the secretary expressed to the Senate Republicans that he is disappointed that the Congress did not pass the defense supplemental before the July 4th break. He's very concerned about the predicament that puts us in. And in order to assure that war operations are not interrupted, the services will now have to begin cash-flowing operating costs for war activities using their base budgets.

But because of where we are in the fiscal calendar, this option won't last very long. So absent more drastic action, we project that certain Army and Marine Corps accounts will run dry in August. So we urgently need Congress to pass the supplemental before members leave town for the next break in August.

While we hope and expect the Congress will get this done, we also are obligated now to begin seriously planning for the possibility that they don't. The budget team and others are now developing an emergency plan should this happen, but it's not appropriate for me to discuss the details of that before the secretary has a -- has had a chance to consider the options they've put forth.

Needless to say, all of this is extraordinarily disruptive to the department.

But we've had some practice at this over the last few years. We're sadly getting used to this fire drill. And, while we have faced this circumstance in years past, the situation we find ourselves in this year is much more difficult because it comes so late in the fiscal year. So most of the department's accounts are on their last legs already, so we are left with far fewer options in terms of cash flowing.

By Jason Sherman
July 14, 2010 at 6:01 PM

The Pentagon has advised Congress of a potential $2.1 billion deal to sell 24 MH-60R Seahawk Multi-Mission Helicopters to Australia.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency on July 9 announced the potential sale, which would include 60 T-700 GE 401C Engines -- two per aircraft plus 12 spares -- communication equipment, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications and the like.

According to the notice:

The proposed sale of the MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopters will improve Australia’s anti-submarine and surface warfare capability and provide an improved search and rescue and anti-ship surveillance capability. Australia will also use the enhanced capability in future contingency operations encompassing humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and stability operations in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia will have no difficulty absorbing these additional helicopters into its armed forces.

The prime contractors for such a deal, according to the notice, would be Sikorsky Aircraft, Stratford, CT; Lockheed Martin, Owego, NY; General Electric, Lynn, MA; and Raytheon, Portsmouth, RI.

By Dan Dupont
July 13, 2010 at 7:22 PM

Just posted this morning is a key document for anyone interested in the Stryker program.

It's the acquisition decision memorandum clearing the way for the Army to take new steps to outfit some Strykers with "double-v-shaped" hulls that will make them more able to withstand IED blasts, fulfilling an urgent operational need in Afghanistan.

Not coincidentally, there was a bit contract announcement on the Stryker double-v-shaped-hull effort yesterday, as we reported:

GDLS Wins $30 Million Stryker Double-V-Shaped Hull Contract
General Dynamics Land Systems has been awarded $30 million by the Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command to begin production of a double-v-shaped hull for the Stryker infantry combat vehicle, according to a statement released by GDLS.

By Jason Sherman
July 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department earlier this month kicked off $63.5 million worth of new security assistance projects to provide counterterrorism training and equipment to five nations -- Lebanon, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Maldives and Mauritania, according to Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Bob Mehal.

The allocation for the new projects, according to Mehall:

- Lebanon: $23,000,000
- Bangladesh: $7,019,000
- Mauritania: $6,440,000
- Indonesia Aviation Upgrade: $11,760,000
- Indonesia Maritime Security: $10,775,000
- Maldives: $3,910,000

These programs -- drawn up in cooperation with the State Department -- bring total spending in fiscal year 2010 on “global train and equip programs,” authorized under the so-called Section 1206 authority, to $301.6 million. The Defense Department is authorized to spend $350 million in FY-10 on these “dual-key” security assistance programs.

Under his 1206 authority, the defense secretary -- with the concurrence of the secretary of state -- can sponsor a program to build the capacity of a foreign nation's military forces in order to either participate in a military operation alongside U.S. forces or conduct counterterrorism operations.

This spring, the Pentagon began programs to boost counterterrorism capabilities in Yemen and the Philippines as well as projects to assist the armed forces of nations set to deploy troops to Afghanistan.

More details on the current round of programs were reported by Inside the Pentagon when Defense Secretary Robert Gates notified Congress in mid-June. Since then, these efforts cleared a 15-day congressional notification period without objection from any lawmaker, allowing the new projects to proceed, according to Mehal.

By John Liang
July 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Northrop Grumman has signed an agreement to purchase a building in Falls Church, VA, as the new location for its corporate office, according to a company statement released this afternoon.

Northrop had announced in January that it planned to move its corporate headquarters from Los Angeles to the Washington, DC area. According to today's statement:

Northrop Grumman expects to initiate operations in the new corporate office facility in the summer of 2011 with employees from the company's Los Angeles and Arlington, Va. offices. The company currently employs approximately 40,000 people in the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. region.

By Pat Host
July 9, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The co-chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus believe that future National Guard budgets should fund more C-27 aircraft. In a July 7, 2010, letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Army Secretary John McHugh, Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) state their support for the C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft program in lieu of White House plans to reduce the number of airframes from 78 to 38, stating it is “cheaper to fly” than comparable intra-theater airlifters and can handle many different missions.

“We firmly believe that the C-27 is an excellent option for austere tactical airlift into rugged environments,” the letter states. “It is cheaper to fly than other intra-theater airlifters. The airframe seems ideal for the gamut of homeland defense and civil support missions that are central to the mission of the National Guard. We believe future budgets should increase the C-27 buy.”

The senators also air concerns over air mobility force structure, “particularly that of the Army,” due to the reduction in airframes and the possibility that the program would go from a joint Army-Air Force program to an Air Force-only program. "The reduction in the total C-27 program represents challenges both for the future of Department of Defense air mobility as well as personnel in the Army who have been trained to fly the airplanes,” the senators inquire.

The senators also ask about how the secretaries plan on integrating the reduced number of C-27s back into the fleet and issue their support for the C-27. They also question the DOD analysis that lead to the conclusion that the C-23, once regarded as obsolete, would be worth retaining in lieu of purchasing new C-27s.

The co-chairmen also ask about possible plans to retain personnel who were trained to support the C-27 mission.

By Marcus Weisgerber
July 9, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Boeing officially submitted its bid in the KC-X next-generation tanker competition this morning.

In a statement, the company said:

The 8,000-page NewGen Tanker proposal, hand-delivered to the KC-X program office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, offers an American-made, 767-based multi-mission tanker that will satisfy all 372 mandatory Air Force requirements and be capable, survivable, and combat-ready at the lowest cost to the taxpayer. The proposal was created by an integrated "One Boeing" team from various sites across the company, including employees from the Commercial Airplanes; Defense, Space & Security; and Engineering, Operations & Technology organizations.

EADS submitted its bid yesterday, the day before proposals were officially due. (A little ironic considering the company claimed it needed a 90-day extension to the deadline and only received an additional 60 days to prepare.)

So the ball is now in the Air Force's court as it prepares to evaluate the two 8,000-page entries.

By John Liang
July 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and fellow panel member Jack Reed (D-RI) are traveling to Afghanistan and Pakistan this week to check out the security situation in the region, according to a committee statement issued this morning. Specifically:

During the trip, the Senators will meet with high-ranking foreign leaders, diplomats, and American military commanders, civilian personnel, as well as soldiers from Michigan and Rhode Island who are currently serving overseas.

By John Liang
July 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

It's official. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his recommendation today to President Obama that Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, the head of U.S. Joint Forces Command, be nominated to take over U.S. Central Command. Mattis would take the place of Gen. David Petraeus, who has taken over command of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. The moves stem from the ouster of Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who resigned his post last month following the publication of a profile piece in Rolling Stone magazine.

At a press briefing this afternoon, Gates said of Mattis:

Whether commanding troops in battle, leading the Marine Corps Combat Development Command or developing new operating concepts at JFCOM ((U.S. Joint Forces Command)), Gen. Mattis has proved to be one of the military's most innovative and iconoclastic thinkers. His insights into the nature of warfare in the 21st century have influenced my own views about how the armed forces must be shaped and postured for the future.

According to Mattis' JFCOM bio:

Gen. Mattis has commanded at multiple levels. As a lieutenant, he served as a rifle and weapons platoon commander in the 3rd Marine Division. As a captain, he commanded a rifle company and a weapons company in the 1st Marine Brigade.

As a major, he commanded Recruiting Station Portland. As a lieutenant colonel, he commanded 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, one of Task Force Ripper's assault battalions in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a colonel, he commanded 7th Marines (Reinforced).

Upon becoming a brigadier general, he commanded first the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and then Task Force 58, during Operation Enduring Freedom in southern Afghanistan. As a major general, he commanded the 1st Marine Division during the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In his first tour as a lieutenant general, he commanded the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and served as the deputy commandant for combat development.

Most recently, he commanded the I Marine Expeditionary Force and served as the commander of U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.

From 2007-09, he served as both NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation and commander, USJFCOM.

Gen. Mattis, a native of the Pacific Northwest, graduated from Central Washington State University in 1972. He is also a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College.