The Insider

By Dan Dupont
November 25, 2009 at 5:00 AM

A new version of the joint operating concept for irregular warfare is in the works and could be released as soon as next month, according to a document obtained by

The current version, 1.0, is dated September 2007. And version 2.0 could be out in December, the document states -- but it could also slip as far as February.

Two key reviews are approaching. The first, slated for Dec. 19, is a meeting of the three-star service operations deputies. After that will be a senior-level Tank review, which is not yet scheduled, the document states.

By Christopher J. Castelli
November 25, 2009 at 5:00 AM

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs today underscored the high price tag attached to the administration's new plans for Afghanistan, which President Obama will unveil next Tuesday.

"Well, look, guys, it's a billion dollars -- it's a million dollars a troop for a year," he told reporters. "It's -- 10,000 troops is $10 billion. That's in addition to what we already spend in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That also does not include training, and it doesn't include the maintenance of -- the maintaining of a security force. It's very, very, very expensive."

A reporter asked Gibbs whether that means there will be a supplemental budget request to cover the cost.

"I'm going to let the President make a decision before we go get the budget for the decision to implement what he does," Gibbs said. "I don't know what you guys would do on Tuesday if I just blurted it all out here."

By Kate Brannen
November 24, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army is nearing the release date for its revised Capstone Concept, a document that has received a lot of attention over the last few months. A new, slick video from the Army's Training and Doctrine Command introduces the ideas behind the latest version of the paper, which will be publicly released Dec. 21.

The Capstone Concept serves as a vision paper that looks out 10 to 15 years, describing what the Army sees as the future and its role within that.

"It is a logical assumption to conclude that what we'll experience in the future is very much like what we're experiencing now," says Col. Robert Johnson in the 15-minute video. He serves as chief of the Joint and Army Concepts Division at TRADOC's Army Capabilities Integration Center. Also making cameos in the video are Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, ARCIC director; Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who led the rewrite of the paper; and Gen. Martin Dempsey, TRADOC's commanding general.

This revision of the Capstone Concept is "particularly important," says Dempsey, because it captures the lessons of the last eight years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli experience in Southern Lebanon in 2006. One of the lessons learned is that major combat operations alone will not characterize the future operating environment, says Vane.

"The most fundamental shift in our thinking is to embrace the enduring uncertainty of war," says McMaster.

The video paints a future marked by urban population growth, water scarcity, poverty and political instability, making the case that situational awareness will require much more than advanced technology. Instead, human intelligence and knowledge of history and culture will prove crucial to success, according to McMaster.

Information dominance "was not my experience in Iraq," says Capt. Robert Green, a member of the concept-writing team. "Our information technologies and our reconnaissance and surveillance and UAVs and those kinds of things played a critical role in the operations that we did, but they probably gave us, in my experience, maybe 10 percent of the information that we acquired. Most of the information that we got was from doing reconnaissance the old-fashioned way -- going out, looking with our eyes, listening with our ears and talking to people."


By Marjorie Censer
November 23, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Oshkosh announced last week it has already completed the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles required in November. The company was set to produce 664 of the trucks this month.

The order was finished on Nov. 19, according to the announcement, which notes that November "marks the fifth consecutive month the company has exceeded the accelerated M-ATV delivery schedule.

"Oshkosh will continue to increase production to meet December's requirement of 1,000 vehicles, with output remaining at that high level through April 2010," the announcement continues.

By Marjorie Censer
November 23, 2009 at 5:00 AM

President Obama last week nominated Maria Sally Matiella to succeed Nelson Ford as the Army's assistant secretary for financial management.

Matiella, who most recently served as assistant chief financial officer for accounting at the Housing and Urban Development Department, has 29 years of federal employment behind her, according to the White House's announcement. She has also served as chief financial officer for the USDA Forest Service, as staff accountant for the Pentagon comptroller's office and as financial manager for the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Matiella holds a bachelor's degree and a business degree from the University of Arizona, the announcement reads.

By Zachary M. Peterson
November 23, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter told reporters today that the logistical hurdles presented by a war in Afghanistan are second only to those that would be faced on the icy continent at the South Pole.

“Getting into Afghanistan, which we need to do as quickly as we can possibly do it, is very difficult because, as I always say, next to Antarctica Afghanistan is probably the most incommodious place from the logistics point of view to be trying to fight a war,” Carter said at a press round table at the Pentagon. “It's landlocked and rugged and the road network is much, much thinner than in Iraq.”

Fielding valuable equipment like Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and their lighter-weight cousins, M-ATVs, to the landlocked central Asian country is a continual challenge, Carter noted.

“We can produce MRAPs faster than we can get them to the soldiers,” he said. “It's not our production capability that limits the rate at which soldiers will get MRAPs or M-ATVs in Afghanistan. It's the rate at which you can ship them in there, get the soldiers back, trained and what limits that? Do you have enough concrete slab to park the trucks on? Where do you buy concrete in Afghanistan? You don't, you get it in Pakistan.”

By Marcus Weisgerber
November 20, 2009 at 5:00 AM

U.S. Special Operations Command today announced it is interested in ideas on an airborne system that can provide close air support to troops in contact, according to a government notice.

“The area of interest includes new ideas and innovative approaches to rapidly mature proven technologies to a production readiness state, as well as applications of existing ((commercial-off-the-shelf)) solutions that may be integrated onto an existing airframe,” the notice printed today in Federal Business Opportunities states. “Considerations include speed to field, integration complexity, Technical Readiness Level TRL level of solutions proposed, and overall mission capability provided.”

For years, the Pentagon has been trying to field as many airborne assets as possible to provide intelligence and fire support for troops in the ground. The Defense Department has maxed out its unmanned MQ-1 and MQ-9 production lines in an attempt to get the drones to the battlefield as soon as possible.

Still, manned fighter and attack jets -- like the F-15E Strike Eagle, the F-16 Viper F/A-18 Hornet and the A-10 Warthog -- perform the majority of low-level close-air support missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Air Force is considering purchasing propeller-driven attack planes for irregular warfare CAS missions as well.

Air Force Special Operations Command's AC-130 gunships provide top cover for SOCOM troops. However, because only a small number of planes exist, the high-demand aircraft can only perform so many missions per flight.

By Sebastian Sprenger
November 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department today published a final rule in the Federal Register implementing an ethics provision of the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation requires former DOD employees who were involved with acquisition programs exceeding $10 million to obtain a written opinion from a DOD ethics counselor before jumping on the payroll of a contractor. The law applies to the first two years after officials leave their DOD jobs.

According to the legislation, the employment-seeking official's request to the ethics counselor must detail information about "government positions held and major duties in those positions, actions taken concerning future employment, positions sought, and future job descriptions, if applicable." The ethics counselor's opinion, in turn, must then discuss the "applicability of post-employment restrictions to activities that the official or former official may undertake on behalf of a contractor."

Since publishing an interim rule in January, officials received one lone comment on the issue, according to the FR notice. The commenter requested that the records of the written opinions be made available to the public.

But DOD rulemakers chose not to implement the suggestion, arguing the legislation does not "authorize" the opinion database to be publicly accessible. (Although the particular section of the law doesn't appear to prohibit this, either.)

In any case, the law tasks the DOD inspector general with conducting periodic reviews of the ethics opinions process, with the first due no later than two years after enactment of the FY-08 defense authorization legislation. That puts the due date in late January 2010.

By Sebastian Sprenger
November 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Opponents of the idea that U.S. nuclear warheads should be redesigned to ensure their effectiveness had a field day today after news broke that a panel of scientists believes the warhead stockpile can be maintained by simply replacing aging parts.

National Nuclear Security Administration officials sent out the unclassified summary of the report to reporters, but not without slapping a statement on the front page. Curiously, the statement includes a vague caveat.

While we endorse the recommendations and consider them well-aligned with NNSA’s long-term stockpile management strategy, certain findings in the unclassified Executive Summary convey a different perspective on key findings when viewed without the context of the full classified report.

You can read the executive summary of the JASON report here.

By Sebastian Sprenger
November 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) this morning brought up a couple of his favorite topics during a hearing on defense budget trends with think tank experts. For one, he said, the Defense Department should address vulnerabilities to an electromagnetic pulse attack. These kinds of attacks can be produced by detonating an atomic weapon high above U.S. soil, and they would knock out much of the country's power grid.

Bartlett also warned of the similar effects of a large-scale solar storm, which he said could lead to the death of 80 percent of the American population.

He was probably disappointed by the response he received.

The witnesses -- experts from the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Service, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the American Enterprise Institute -- didn't spend a word addressing solar storms and how well DOD may be prepared to deal with them.

As for the general topic of high-impact attacks on America, CSIS's David Berteau predicted the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review report would devote a good amount of attention to the issue.

By Kate Brannen
November 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army has decided to boost its French language skills so that it is better equipped to operate in Africa and other parts of the world, according to Col. James Stockmoe, director for operations and plans in the Army's intelligence office (G-2).

Speaking at a military intelligence conference in Washington today, Stockmoe said the Army is still struggling to develop sufficient language skills and plans to continue investing in language training.

The Army has decided it would be a smarter investment to teach French, which is widely spoken in parts of Africa, than to teach lots of soldiers Swahili, he said.

Another indicator of the service's commitment to increased language training is Training and Doctrine Command's inclusion of cultural and foreign language proficiency in its recommendations for the Army's first capabilities package, a key component of its revised modernization strategy.

In the meantime, Stockmoe said it's likely the Army will have to continue contracting out language capability until the requisite skills are well developed internally.

By Marjorie Censer
November 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Following comments by Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter earlier this month, BAE Systems representatives today argued strongly that the company's protest of the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles "rebuy" contract is not a frivolous one.

At a Nov. 2 event at the Pentagon, Carter warned that DOD takes protests seriously. "The entire department is concerned about protests becoming common or routine, and we take the protest process very seriously,” Carter said in response to a reporter's question. “We expect it to be rare, and we expect it not to be used frivolously.”

But during a conference call with reporters today, Dennis Morris, president of BAE's global tactical systems division, said the company does not believe its FMTV protest to the Government Accountability Office is frivolous.

"When it comes to protests, BAE Systems does not protest often," he said. "We are willing to admit that if we get beat in a competition, we got beat."

As an example, Morris added, the company lost to Oshkosh in the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle competition. "We did not protest that decision," he said.

Al Crews, BAE's vice president for legal and contracts and chief counsel for the company's global tactical systems division, noted that protests cannot be taken lightly. During the same call, he said BAE is spending its own funds -- "money that's coming directly from our bottom line" -- to pursue the issue.

"Protests are extremely expensive, they're time consuming and they divert a lot of resources regardless of whether we're successful in the protest or not," Crews added.

By Sebastian Sprenger
November 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense firms and their government clients are "well positioned" to accelerate the development and fielding of alternative energy sources that would obviate the dangerous practice of sending fuel resupply trucks to the front lines in Afghanistan and elsewhere, concludes a recent report by consulting giant Deloitte. Still, a "game-changing shift" to that end has yet to occur, the document states.

Defense Department officials should be familiar with the report's main argument in favor of new energy technologies: Less petroleum-based fuel required on the battlefield means fewer casualties during resupply missions, more operational flexibility for commanders and, perhaps, lower costs.

The document proposes four areas of "partnership" between the U.S. government and industry that could help make this a reality: "Common biofuels" for use across the services, hybrid/electrical/biofuel technologies for ground vehicles, solar power systems, and engine and propulsion technology research.

"First and foremost, energy security is essential to wartime casualties," the report states. "With the significant numbers of U.S. soldiers supporting the transport, logistics and deployment of fossil fuel to the front lines, there is a call to action to reduce dependence on oil in war," it adds.

That call to action likely would be answered by DOD's director of operational energy plans and programs, a congressionally mandated position. But the job has yet to be filled.

By Thomas Duffy
November 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Yesterday the Pentagon provided a look at its books when it released its fiscal year 2009 financial report detailing how the Defense Department used approximately $666 billion during the 12-month period.

A glaring weakness in the recent financial statements DOD has issued is that none can be held up to an audit. The law requires it; however, DOD cannot meet that standard. The problem is the financial management systems the department relies on cannot produce the kind of detailed data about what monies were spent where and when that an auditor needs, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale told the House Budget Committee in March. The systems “weren't designed to do that, and they don't do it,” he told the committee

Hale, who authored the newly released Fy09 report, says in the preface that the department has made progress toward what he terms “audit readiness” in recent years.

However, many of the most difficult problems remain, and the Department has not created a focused plan that offered a realistic chance of success in a reasonable period of time. After careful review, I have decided to implement a new strategy. DOD will focus on improving information and achieving audit readiness in those areas where we most use the information to manage, including the Statement of Budgetary Resources and the existence and completeness of weapons and other items. DOD is currently working to devise specific plans to carry out this new strategy.

Also available are the military services' 2009 financial statements: Army, Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force.

By Marcus Weisgerber
November 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The U.S. Court of Appeals today sided with the Air Force, rejecting a claim by Alabama Aircraft Industries that the service unfairly awarded a $1 billion-plus KC-135 maintenance contract to defense giant Boeing back in 2007.

The decision paves the way for Boeing to begin executing scheduled depot maintenance on its aging fleet of Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft.

The Air Force awarded the depot maintenance contract to Boeing in September 2007. Alabama Aircraft Industries protested that decision to the Government Accountability Office, which “denied the protest on all grounds raised by AAII, with the exception of the agency's cost/price evaluation,” according to the decision.

“The GAO concluded that the record was insufficient for the GAO to determine the reasonableness of the agency’s price-realism analysis,” the decision reads.

The Air Force then reexamined both companies' proposals and determined the prices presented “were realistic and reasonable.” The Air Force affirmed the contract award to Boeing in March 2008. AAII protested for a second time; however, GAO denied the claim.

The company then filed a complaint in the Court of Federal Claims. That court ruled the Air Force's price realism analysis was “arbitrary and capricious” because the agency failed “to deal explicitly with the aging-fleet issue in the RFP” and then sought “to sidestep the aging-fleet issue in the price-realism analysis of Boeing’s prevailing offer,” according to the decision.

The court ordered the Air Force to resolicit the contract. The Air Force and Boeing subsequently appealed the ruling, which the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed today.

Alabama Aircraft Industries -- in a last-ditch chance to have the contract voided -- could petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review today's decision.