The Insider

By John Liang
August 11, 2010 at 9:55 PM

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Buck McKeon (R-CA) doesn't like the fact that $3.3 billion in defense spending will go instead to fund education programs. According to the text of a floor statement he delivered yesterday:

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in opposition to this measure, which will increase domestic spending at the expense of national security. Specifically, the federal government will spend $10 billion for this teacher bailout, paid for in part with a $3.3 billion cut in defense programs. As the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I can assure you that the Department of Defense has need for these funds, including unfunded requirements related to our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. I say this fully aware of the needs of our educational system, as the former Chairman and Ranking Member of Education and Labor.

Those in favor of this bill will say that this money was previously identified by the Department of Defense as unspent and available for higher priorities. This includes $683.5 million unspent from last year’s economic stimulus package and $325 million for military construction projects. They will use this argument to convince members that these cuts will not harm the Department and to assure you that this next bailout is fully paid for.

But this argument misses two larger points. First, as yesterday’s Military Times observed, ‘…diverting money from the defense budget to education programs would eliminate any opportunity for the Defense Department or Congress to take unobligated money from one defense program to spend on another defense program.’ For example, in the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, we used the unobligated balances for military construction projects to fund other more pressing infrastructure needs, such as barracks and armories, and many of the services’ unfunded requirements. Now these funds will no longer be available for these purposes and the services will have outstanding needs go unmet.

Second, rescissions to the DoD budget this late in the fiscal year are problematic and disruptive to operations. As the Department of Defense Comptroller has told the Armed Services Committee, this rescission will require that DoD restructure or postpone programs. I am confident the Department will try to avoid adverse effects on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but when this nation is fighting two wars, Congress should not be pulling the financial rug out from under DoD at the end of the year.

Moreover, while these funds were identified as ‘unspent’ earlier this year, some of these 'unspent' dollars have already been diverted to other defense programs. When we cut the original accounts now, it will mean that some of these accounts no longer have enough money in them. Think about your own checking account—at the beginning of the year, you see that you have $1,000 more than your budget says you’ll need. So you move $800 into another account or give it to one of your children. If the government comes and takes $1,000 from you at the end of the year, your remaining account balance may not be sufficient and you find yourself in an overdraft situation. In the case of government agencies, it is against the law to overdraft an account. We have been told that the Department of Defense may find itself in violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act in some accounts.

Finally, I remain concerned that this is the beginning of a slippery slope. The Secretary of Defense has initiated an ongoing effort to generate $100 billion in savings within the Department of Defense over the next five years. Yesterday he announced a series of spending freezes and closures of organizations within his office and combatant commands. Secretary Gates plans on plowing these savings back into force structure and modernization accounts.

By Jason Sherman
August 11, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Is the Defense Department's security assistance program for Lebanon's armed forces indirectly aiding Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces? In the wake of last week's deadly clash between Israeli and Lebanese forces, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), House Armed Services Committee chairman, wants to know. The Missouri lawmaker sent Defense Secretary Robert Gates a letter today requesting that Pentagon officials brief him on how security assistance to Lebanon, which over the last five years has totaled $105.5 million, is advancing U.S. policy aims.

The "recent exchange of fire between Israeli and Lebanese armed forces along that border has me concerned that our policy with Lebanon may be counter-productive," Skelton writes:

First, I am concerned that the training and equipment we have provided the LAF for the purposes of counter-terror may in fact be used by the LAF against the Israelis.  I am also concerned of reports that the LAF is collaborating with Hezbollah and that Hezbollah is, as a result, an indirect recipient of our aid.

Yesterday, Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, announced that on Aug. 2 he placed a hold on future U.S. military assistance to Lebanon:

I have been concerned for sometime about reported Hezbollah influence on the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and its implications for our military assistance program for Lebanon. For that reason, on August 2, I placed a hold on a $100 million dollar security assistance package to the LAF. The incident on the Israel-Lebanon border only one day after my hold was placed simply reinforces the critical need for the United States to conduct an in-depth policy review of its relationship with the Lebanese military. I strongly condemn the unprovoked attacked by the Lebanese Army that resulted in the death of an Israeli officer. Until we know more about this incident and the nature of Hezbollah influence on the LAF -- and can assure that the LAF is a responsible actor -- I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon.

Steven Heydemann, a Middle East expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace, told it is too early to tell whether Hezbollah played any role in last week's incident:

I would hope that the people raising the questions would think back to the purposes of why we are providing that aid in the first place, which is to strengthen the formal institutions of the Lebanese states and permit the Lebanese government to extend its sovereignty over all of its territory and to deny Hezbollah justification for maintaining a kind of independent non-state militia. So there is a broader strategic purpose that is served by providing military support to the Lebanese army. And I think it would be short sighted and counterproductive if we let an incident like this obscure what we are trying to achieve with that aid.

On June 14, the Defense Department notified Congress of its plans for a $23 million security assistance package for Lebanon using fiscal year 2010 funds. No lawmakers objected to that proposal over the subsequent 15 days, according to a Pentagon spokesman, which cleared DOD to press ahead with the assistance package for Beirut.

According to the Congressional Research Service, security assistance to Lebanon falls under so-called Section 1206 authority, which allows the defense secretary -- with the concurrence of the secretary of state -- to sponsor a program to build the capacity of a foreign nation's military in order to either participate in a military operation alongside U.S. forces or conduct counterterrorism operations, including:

For Lebanon, Section 1206 assistance first focused on helping the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to bring order to southern Lebanon and secure the country’s northern border in the wake of the July 2006 Israel strikes against Hezbollah in Lebanon. FY2006 assistance bought spare parts for trucks, armored personnel carriers, and helicopters. FY2007 assistance purchased trucks, secure communications equipment, vehicles and helicopter spare parts, spare parts for guns, and soldier equipment, including night vision goggles and body armor. FY2008 and FY2009 assistance has focused on equipment for Lebanese special operations forces. FY2008 items include secure communications equipment, as well as vehicles, night vision sights, Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, vehicles and ambulances, small arms, clothing, textiles, and individual equipment. FY2009 Urban Solider Equipment items are intended to help Lebanese force conduct CT operations in an urban environment. This package includes bulldozers, Humvee ambulances, tactical armor vests, rifles, and night vision device rifle scopes. FY2009 funds are also supplying four Cessna Caravan aircraft, as well as related spare parts and training.

By John Liang
August 11, 2010 at 3:04 PM

Foreign defense contractors that want to work with the Pentagon while employing people with more than one passport have had no shortage of headaches when trying to comply with the U.S. government's export control policies, as a State Department notice in this morning's Federal Register states:

The current requirement for the provision of additional information within a license to cover dual national and third-country national foreign employees has created a tremendous administrative burden on approved end-users and has evolved into a human rights issue, which has become a focus of contention between the U.S. and allies and friends without a commensurate gain in national security.

Consequently, the State Department has changed the rule:

Based on available intelligence and law enforcement information, and given the current licensing requirements regarding access by dual or third country national employees, most diversions of U.S. Munitions List (USML) items appears to occur outside the scope of approved licenses, not within foreign companies or organizations providing access to properly screened dual national or third country national employees. This amendment will place the affirmative responsibility upon the foreign company, government, or international organization, with the understanding that by accepting the USML defense article, they must comply with the provisions of U.S. laws and regulations to prevent the possible diversion of U.S. defense articles and technology. This change, by no means, reduces the due diligence requirements of the applicant to ensure, to the best of their ability, that the end-use and end-user are consistent with the approved authorization. The Department views due diligence as a requirement for security clearances or other effective screening procedures as a condition for access to ITAR-controlled defense articles and technology.

As National Security Adviser James Jones said in June:

We should be striving for a system that prevents harmful exports while facilitating useful ones. Our current system is not meeting that objective. In fact, our system itself poses a potential national security risk based on the fact that its structure is overly complicated, contains too many redundancies, and tries to protect too much. In short, we are hard to work with. As Secretary Gates has often said, we need to have a "higher fence around a smaller yard."

By Sebastian Sprenger
August 10, 2010 at 6:35 PM

United Nations leaders are scheduled to announce tomorrow a $460 million relief program to deal with the Pakistan flooding disaster, according to a cable today from Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador in Islamabad, that is being distributed in military and diplomatic circles.

According to the missive, the 90-day Pakistan Initial Flood Emergency Response Plan (PIFERP) will address seven sectors: food ($156 million), water, sanitation and hygiene ($110 million), shelter ($105 million) health ($56 million), logistics ($16 million), nutrition ($14million) and protection (less than $2 million).

After 30 days, officials would review the plan in light of “humanitarian needs and gaps,” the cable states.

The missive asks recipients to keep the information “on close hold” until tomorrow, when UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Sir John Holmes is expected to announce the plan in New York.

The relief plan follows an initial position by the Pakistani government, which “questioned the duration of the U.N. plan for emergency flood relief and also required that the U.N. scale back the plan to limit the clusters involved and to deal only with relief and not early recovery,” the cable states.

As for the role of the U.S. military in the disaster, Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters flew eight relief flights yesterday, delivering goods and evacuating 565 flood victims, according to the cable. That brings the total number of helicopter sorties to 40, with 221,000 pounds of supplies delivered and 2,305 victims evacuated to the city of Khwazakhela, according to Patterson's cable.

In a briefing with donors in Pakistan today, U.N. officials stressed that “a nationwide response” is necessary to deal with the crisis, Patterson's cable states. Also needed is an “emergency response capability” in the provinces Sindh and Punjab, where such capabilities are “nascent at best,” according to the document.

“[W]hile access is is not the issue in Punjab and Sindh, the sheer number of affected individuals -- estimated to be more than 8.8 million collectively -- will create significant problems in the coming weeks,” the cable states.

U.N. officials plan to set up a command and control center “at an Islamabad hotel” to manage the crisis, the missive adds.

By Christopher J. Castelli
August 10, 2010 at 2:29 PM

EADS North America said today its CEO, Sean O’Keefe, was a passenger on a private aircraft that crashed in Alaska last night.

Local authorities are reporting that there are survivors and a rescue operation is under way. "No other details are available at this time," said Guy Hicks, EADS North America spokesman.

CNN is reporting Ted Stevens, the former Republican senator from Alaska, was also a passenger on the plane.

(UPDATE 3 p.m.: CNN is now reporting that Stevens was killed in the crash. Reuters is reporting that O'Keefe survived.)

By Dan Dupont
August 9, 2010 at 7:15 PM

Asked today what will happen to Gen. Ray Odierno, who has been nominated to take over as commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, if JFCOM is dissolved, Gates said he has talked to the general (now in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq) and Odierno is on board with the move, which Gates estimates will take about a year. After that? Gates quipped that just as was the case in Iraq, Odierno's responsibility is to work himself out of a job, and then Gates will find him another one.

By Dan Dupont
August 9, 2010 at 6:13 PM

Reports of U.S. Joint Forces Command's impending demise were all it took for Virginia lawmakers to step into action, calling an "emergency" press conference for today at 4:00:

Washington, D.C. – Governor Bob McDonnell, Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Congressman Glenn Nye (VA-02), Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), and Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) will hold an urgent press conference today to discuss Secretary Robert Gates’ announcement today of plans to eliminate Joint Forces Command. The press conference will be held at 4:00 p.m. at the Webb University Center at Old Dominion University.


Governor Bob McDonnell

Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04)

Congressman Glenn Nye (VA-02)

Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03)

Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01)

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Defense Secretary Robert Gates just told reporters Virginia may stand to gain more than it loses from JFCOM's demise if he is successful in cutting what he hopes to cut in many areas. How? According to Gates, a few billion dollars for more Navy shipbuilding may be in the offing if the cuts are permitted.

By John Liang
August 9, 2010 at 5:47 PM

Until the Pentagon completes its restructuring of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and has a better idea of what its future tactical aircraft requirements will be -- and until it knows more about what unmanned aircraft and bombers can bring to the table -- "it will be difficult for DOD to make informed investments in legacy aircraft upgrades and modernizations, and new aircraft procurements," a new GAO report released today states.


GAO suggests that Congress consider requiring that costs associated with modernizing and sustaining the legacy fleet be included in future investment plans, and recommends that DOD 1) better define requirements and the size and severity of projected shortfalls, 2) clearly articulate how systems like unmanned aircraft are accounted for, and 3) complete a comprehensive cost and benefit analysis of options for addressing expected shortfalls. DOD agreed with the second recommendation and partially agreed with the others, citing current and planned actions. GAO believes its recommendations remain valid.

UPDATE (2:40 p.m.): Bloomberg News is reporting that Boeing may get an extra $7 billion "to extend the use of the Navy's older fleet of F/A-18 jets, partly because of delays in Lockheed Martin Corp.'s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters," quoting the GAO report.

By John Liang
August 9, 2010 at 5:37 PM

At least one analyst is downplaying the notion in the news last week that China's new missile could be a "carrier killer." As the Associate Press reported last week:

U.S. naval planners are scrambling to deal with what analysts say is a game-changing weapon being developed by China -- an unprecedented carrier-killing missile called the Dong Feng 21D that could be launched from land with enough accuracy to penetrate the defenses of even the most advanced moving aircraft carrier at a distance of more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles).

But Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute doesn't seem to think so. In a blog entry posted today, he writes:

I haven't seen the intelligence reports, so maybe all the alarm is warranted. But I doubt it. China has yet to conduct a single realistic test of the conventionally-armed ballistic missile. Even if it performs as feared, there is a glaring omission in all the threat mongering: the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) has no reliable way of actually targeting U.S. carrier task forces when they are at sea. No matter how accurate the new missile's guidance system may be, Chinese military commanders need to know where to aim it -- especially since a near miss with a conventional warhead has pretty much the same military value as missing by a hundred miles. So how exactly is the PLA supposed to find U.S. carriers, when they are constantly moving and actively excluding hostile forces from their immediate vicinity?

The answer is that it can't. "Four and a half acres of sovereign U.S. territory" -- the way carrier proponents often describe flattops -- may sound like a huge target, but in fact it is a mere speck in the vast expanses of the Western Pacific. For example, the modestly-sized South China Sea that Beijing keeps trying to claim for itself contains over a million square miles of water, in which a carrier can easily hide. And that's only a small part of the East Asia littoral. I calculated a decade ago that to acquire continuous target-quality information for the entire South China Sea, the PLA would need over a hundred low-earth-orbit reconnaissance satellites moving in three parallel tracks. At the moment, China only has a handful of such satellites, and as a result most of the time its overhead sensors aren't anywhere near areas of interest. It also has over-the-horizon radars and roaming submarines, plus a fleet of reconnaissance aircraft, but these do not add up to the seamless targeting network the PLA would need to track and attack a U.S. carrier.

By John Liang
August 6, 2010 at 9:16 PM

The Army this afternoon released its second annual "Sustainability Report" highlighting energy and environmental achievements and milestones supporting the service's sustainability concept and goals. Specifically, according to a Pentagon statement:

The annual sustainability report informs primary stakeholders, partners, the American people, and other interested parties on the Army's progress to embody the principles of sustainability in its operations and installation management.

"Army leadership has come to understand the potential for sustainability to strengthen national security.  What had previously yielded benefit through environmental initiatives is emerging as an important tool for countering the destabilizing effects of emerging challenges from competition over limited and diminishing resources, as well as population movements, pandemics and other climate change-related events," said Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal, who serves as both the Army's senior sustainability official and chief management officer.

Throughout the Army, efforts are underway to further recognize sustainability as an organizing principle.  Army sustainability results from aligning the Army's mission with environmental stewardship and community well being, plus the economic benefit accrued from reduced waste and increased efficiency.

Twenty-eight Army installations have undergone integrated strategic and sustainability planning which requires long-term sustainability plans and goals to meet future mission and community needs.  All new Army construction since fiscal 2008 has been required to be designed to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver minimum standard.  Further, efforts are underway to ensure that all new Army acquisition programs include the fully burdened cost of energy in the selection process to maximize the productivity of energy needed to meet our operational capabilities.

By Jason Sherman
August 6, 2010 at 3:33 PM

The Pentagon has announced a trio of potential foreign sales of military equipment and goods: $2 billion in fuel to Israel; $162 million for nine UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters to Colombia; and $152 million deal for technical support of Iraq's Mi-17 helicopters.

By Jason Sherman
August 6, 2010 at 2:46 PM

The Senate last night confirmed two officials to key national security positions: Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to be chief of U.S. Central Command and James Clapper, a retired Air Force three-star general and former under secretary of defense for intelligence, to be the director of national intelligence.

By John Liang
August 5, 2010 at 3:16 PM

The stage appears to be set for who will compete for the right to continue developing the Pentagon's Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, with Lockheed Martin and Raytheon announcing this morning that the two companies had entered into a partnership to compete for the multibillion-dollar contract.

In May, the Missile Defense Agency released an amended and updated draft request for proposals for the contract that would re-open competition for its GMD "development and sustainment" effort. As Inside Missile Defense reported:

"The [Statement of Work] and Task Orders have changed considerably in format and work scope since release of the original" draft RFP in January, the agency states in a May 14 letter attached to the amended request.

According to the original Nov. 25, 2009, FedBizOpps notice, the contract, with a potential annual value of $600 million, would involve "future development; fielding; test; systems engineering, integration and configuration management; equipment manufacturing and refurbishment; training; and operations and sustainment support" for the GMD system and associated support facilities.

"The potential scope described in the previous announcement has been revised to include significant requirements beyond GMD operations and logistics support," the agency notice stated, adding that the contract number had been changed to reflect the new competition.

Boeing had been operating under the second of a series of six-month "bridge" contracts as the main contractor for the GMD program, with MDA never having signed the company to a final deal to complete the system's core elements.

In December 2008, the contract Boeing had been working under since 2001 became "too complex to administer effectively" and associated cost overruns had changed the program's technical content and schedule, MDA said in a statement issued earlier that year. The agency decided to end that contract on Dec. 31, 2008, and have Boeing signed to a new, so-called "core-completion contract," which took place in March.

MDA spokesman Richard Lehner told in a March e-mail that "the GMD Core Contract follow-on modification was signed on March 10, 2010, with an effective date the same. It was not a new contract and therefore it was not formally announced" as a new Defense Department contract award or on Federal Business Opportunities, he added.

In January, MDA decided to open its GMD effort up to other potential offerors, resulting in the draft RFP release.

According to a joint Lockheed-Raytheon statement released this morning:

Together, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon develop, produce and sustain leading interceptor weapon systems for missile defense.  As strategic partners for GMD Development and Sustainment, the companies will apply their proven experience to ensure the reliability and readiness of the GMD element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System, which defends our nation, deployed military forces, and friends and allies against a limited attack by intermediate- and long-range ballistic missiles.

"Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are continuing a successful track record of delivering on key missile defense programs," said Mathew J. Joyce, GMD vice president and program manager, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company. "Lockheed Martin and Raytheon systems combined have achieved more than 50 intercepts in combat and testing – more than any other team." These systems include Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense including Standard Missile-3, Patriot and Patriot Advanced Capability-3, and GMD Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle.

"In addition to our highly successful Standard Missile-3 interceptor and our proven GMD Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle expertise, Raytheon brings important capabilities in manufacturing, mission assurance and readiness that will help to ensure a smooth transition in responding to the government's needs for this critical national system," said Frank Wyatt, Raytheon vice president of Air and Missile Defense Systems.

As a strategic partner to Lockheed Martin, Raytheon's role will span systems engineering, development, manufacturing, testing, training and operations and sustainment at all of the key GMD sites.  For this next phase in the GMD lifecycle, the Lockheed Martin-Raytheon team has the most experience, is the best qualified, and provides the greatest value to ensure our warfighters have a ready and capable interceptor weapon system.

In June, Boeing and Northrop Grumman announced their intention to partner up to compete for the contract:

"Boeing takes great pride in supporting the Missile Defense Agency on GMD, providing round-the-clock protection of the United States against attack by ballistic missiles, and we are pleased to join with Northrop Grumman in this competition for future development and support of this critical element of America's defense," said Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager, Boeing Strategic Missile & Defense Systems. "This partnership offers MDA the most experienced and responsive team, ready to adapt GMD to future needs and requirements. At the same time, this proven team will continue to offer the warfighter an unmatched level of mission readiness, availability and support -- affordably and with the lowest risk."

. . . Boeing will build on its experience of supporting the MDA as prime contractor for the development, deployment, integration and testing of the GMD weapon system since 2001. The Boeing-led team currently operates and sustains the deployed weapon system while developing and testing innovative technologies to provide greater reliability and meet its customer's evolving needs and requirements.

Northrop Grumman is responsible for designing and deploying the command-and-control systems that form the backbone of the GMD ground system, known as GMD Fire Control/Communications (GFCC) products. GFCC products connect and orchestrate GMD components that launch and guide interceptors in flight. Northrop Grumman has developed and sustained ground-based missile systems for more than 50 years and has been prime contractor for the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) weapon system since 1997. Northrop Grumman has been part of the Boeing GMD team for more than 10 years.

By Jason Sherman
August 4, 2010 at 6:58 PM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has tapped three senior Marines for new posts, including one key Joint Staff billet -- the director for operations -- according to a Pentagon announcement:

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., to serve as the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps and for appointment to the rank of general.  Dunford is currently serving as the commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force; and commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command in Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, to serve as the commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force/commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command and for re-appointment to the rank of lieutenant general.  Waldhauser is currently serving as the deputy commandant for plans, policies, and operations in Washington, D.C.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Robert B. Neller to serve as the director for operations, J-3, Joint Staff and for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general.  Neller is currently serving as the president, Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va.

By John Liang
August 4, 2010 at 5:10 PM

The European aerospace and defense industry's "main credit risks are likely to shift to defense from commercial in the next year," according to a new assessment by the Fitch credit-rating agency.

In a recent investor presentation in London, Fitch analysts found that:

With overall defense budgets in Western Europe under pressure from the general high budget deficits of most countries, the companies most exposed to European defense spending may see their traditional revenue base shrinking in real terms. These companies may choose to pursue growth in many emerging markets, although export opportunities are becoming increasingly competitive and politicised as more and more developed markets-based defense companies chase a limited number of sizeable contracts in countries such as India and Brazil.