The Insider

By Thomas Duffy
April 14, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Northrop Grumman announced today it has completed a full-scale dress rehearsal for the first Kinetic Energy Interceptor booster flight test, which is scheduled for later this year.

The Northrop team put together a full-scale booster using inert rocket motors and flight-qualified parts to make sure everything checked out with the booster, ground support equipment and facility structures, the company said. The work took place at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, the site of the upcoming flight test.

Using an extremely fast booster rocket, the KEI is being developed to provide combatant commanders with a mobile, land-based interceptor to defeat medium- to long-range ballistic missiles during the boost, ascent or midcourse phases of flight, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

A recently released environmental assessment of the KEI flight test programs shows the first four tests will consist of a two-stage booster, an avionics section and the nosecone/shroud. None of the first four flight tests would carry a kill vehicle. Future tests will likely include third-stage rocket motor and a government-furnished payload.

According to information MDA sent Congress with its fiscal year 2009 budget request, the first KEI flight test will take place before the end of June.

Under the budget plan announced April 6 by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, however, the Defense Department will take a long, hard look at the boost-phase intercept mission. KEI and the Airborne Laser are both vying for the BPI mission. But ABL's fortunes seem to be waning as Gates announced he is recommending the program stay in research and development and forgo any thoughts of production.

During the April 6 briefing, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright said DOD has a good midcourse and terminal missile defense capability.

“What do we need in the boost phase? What kind of attributes does it have for mobility and location, et cetera? Those are the things that we've got to understand before we go any further with the boost phase.”

By John Liang
April 14, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Obama administration today announced several more national security-related nominations. According to their bios, as released by the White House:

Andrew C. Weber, Nominee for Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs), Department of Defense

Andrew Weber is currently an adviser for threat reduction policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he is responsible for Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction initiatives to reduce the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, where he teaches a course on force and diplomacy in the Foreign Service Program. He was previously a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State, where he served in diplomatic assignments in Saudi Arabia, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Hong Kong. Weber has an MS from Georgetown University and a BA from Cornell University. He lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife Julie and daughter Eleanor. . . .

Bonnie D. Jenkins, Nominee for Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs (with the Rank of Ambassador), Department of State

Dr. Jenkins is the Program Officer for U.S. Foreign and Security policy at the Ford Foundation. Her grant making seeks to strengthen public engagement in US foreign and security policy debate and formulation in order to promote support for multilateralism, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and the rule of international law. Prior to joining the Foundation, Jenkins served on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (“9-11 Commission”), as counsel. She was the lead Commission staff member on counterterrorism policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on U.S. military plans to go after Al Qaeda prior to 9-11. She wrote part of the 9/11 report, which has since become a national bestseller. Jenkins also served as General Counsel to the U.S. Commission to assess the organization of the federal government to combat proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and as a consultant to the 2000 National Commission on Terrorism. She also worked at the RAND Corporation in their National Security Division. She recently served as a Lieutenant Commander in the US Naval Reserves and completed a year of deployment at CENTCOM. Jenkins has worked in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Policy Planning as a consultant of the Kosovo History Project. An expert on arms control and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Jenkins also served for nine years as legal advisor to U.S. Ambassadors and delegations negotiating arms control and nonproliferation treaties during her time as a Legal Advisor in the Office of General Council at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. She began her years in government when appointed as a Presidential Management Fellow. Jenkins is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the American Bar Association. She received a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Virginia; an LL.M. in international and comparative law from the Georgetown University Law Center; an MPA from the State University of New York at Albany; a J.D. from Albany Law School; and a BA from Amherst College. She also attended The Hague Academy for International Law. . . .

Stephen W. Preston, Nominee for General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency

Stephen W. Preston is currently a Partner at WilmerHale, where he is co-chair of the Defense, National Security and Government Contracts Practice Group, and a member of the Regulatory and Government Affairs and Litigation/Controversy Departments. He joined the firm in 1986, and later returned in 2001 after serving at both the Pentagon and the Justice Department. He was the Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Department of Defense from 1993 to 1995, during which time he served for an extended period as Acting General Counsel. From 1998 to 2000, Preston served as General Counsel of the Department of the Navy, a Presidential appointment requiring Senate confirmation. Mr. Preston’s responsibilities covered the full range of legal matters confronting the Defense Department and the national security establishment. He was actively involved in criminal, inspector general and congressional investigations, civil fraud and contract claims litigation and alternative dispute resolution. From 1995 to 1998, Mr. Preston served as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice, responsible for civil litigation in the courts of appeals on behalf of the United States. In addition to overseeing work in a wide variety of substantive areas and assisting the Solicitor General in cases before the Supreme Court, he also argued several significant appeals involving constitutional law, statutory interpretation, federal court jurisdiction and testimonial privileges. Mr. Preston holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard University.

Other appointments of note: David Heyman is President Obama's choice for assistant homeland security secretary for policy. Heyman is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Homeland Security Program and an adjunct professor in security studies at Georgetown University. Also, P.J. Crowley, a former National Security Council public affairs director and Pentagon spokesman during the Clinton administration, has been nominated to become assistant secretary of state for public affairs.

By Marcus Weisgerber
April 13, 2009 at 5:00 AM

A proposed end to the production of the Lockheed Martin F-22A fifth-generation fighter has raised concerns among U.S. allies in the Middle East, Raptor fan Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said today.

“They are very concerned about the discontinuance of . . . aircraft that would have the ability to go into any territory where ((there are)) surface-to-air missiles that will take F-15s or F-16s out of the air on a fairly regular basis,” Chambliss said during a conference call with reporters early this afternoon.

Chambliss is at the tail end of a trip to the Middle East, where he said the possible curtailment of Raptor buys was among the topics of discussion. The congressional delegation -- led by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) -- visited Egypt, Israel, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Afghanistan. All of the countries save for Iraq and Afghanistan have Lockheed F-16s or Boeing F-15s in their air forces. Israel flies both fourth-generation fighters.

The Republican senator's comments come one week after Defense Secretary Robert Gates said his fiscal year 2010 budget plan calls for ending F-22A production at 187 aircraft, much to the chagrin of Chambliss. Raptors are assembled by Lockheed in Marietta, GA.

“I think this decision was not ((thought)) through from the standpoint of anything than other than being purely budget-driven,” he said.

Today, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz penned a letter in the Washington Post claiming they did originally request 60 F-22As beyond the current cap of 183 aircraft, but withdrew that request at the eleventh hour of internal Pentagon budget deliberations. The Pentagon requested its last four F-22As in an emergency warfighting supplemental last week.

Chambliss also said Donley told him several times over the past several months that he would push Defense Secretary Robert Gates for more Raptors.

The senator also criticized Gates' budget proposal because, he said, “it basically says . . . we're committed to fighting a back-alley war, we're committed to fighting a war strictly against terrorists and we're basically giving up the ability to fight a conventional war.”

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

Industry responses are due today for an Army project that offers an interesting glimpse into the U.S. information operations strategy in Afghanistan.

Officials running the External Information Program-Afghanistan (EIP-A) were seeking a contractor for the development and dissemination of all sorts of promotional material aimed at driving a wedge between violent extremists and ordinary citizens, according to a solicitation posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site recently.

The "themes," as the solicitation calls them, include these:

  • "Report ((improvised explosive device)) activities. The theme is that security is everyone’s concern. The concept is to use media to encourage the local populace to stop violence by reporting IED activities and facilitators to the ((Afghan security forces))."
  • "Killing Muslims is against Islam. The theme is that bombing and IEDs result in the murder of innocent Muslims. The concept is to use media to denounce IEDs as un-Islamic acts of violence and results in murder of innocent Muslims."
  • "((Afghan National Security Forces)) are legitimate security forces. The theme is the ANSF represent the ((Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan)) and protects its communities. The concept is to use media to show the ANSF is a legitimate security force capable of protecting its communities and ensuring peace."

The contractor is responsible for designing print products, like pamphlets and newspaper ads, and writing scripts for radio and television programs, according to the solicitation.

The Army took over funding of the External Information Program last year, the solicitation states. Officials also "realigned" the program at that time, broadening its goal from a counter-IED-only information operations effort to a more broad campaign aimed at getting "undecided Afghans" to accept the country's central government.

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 10, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Consistent with the administration's thinking that Pakistan is key to stability in Afghanistan, President Obama is requesting considerable funding for embassy upgrades in both countries.

The requested funds are dispersed across two funding lines, according to a White House statement from last night. For one, the State Department's "Embassy Security, Construction and Maintenance" account would get $899 million. Of that amount $806 million would fund programs in Pakistan, including $764 million for major security and infrastructure upgrades of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.

According to the statement, projects include the construction of a new embassy annex for 330 personnel ($111 million), renovation of the existing chancery with room for 645 personnel ($405 million), construction of a "New Embassy Compound" housing facility with 156 units ($108 million), and the construction of quarters for the Marine Corps guards there ($113 million).

In addition, Obama wants $594 million for the State Department's "Diplomatic and Consular Programs" account. Of that amount, $363 million would go toward U.S. diplomatic posts across Afghanistan "for increased staffing levels, support operations, and security programs throughout the provinces and in Kabul."

In addition, the White House said the U.S. Embassy in Iraq needs $150 million "to meet increased costs of security and operations."

As envisioned by administration officials, funding under the "Diplomatic and Consular Programs" line would come with a built-in possibility that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may transfer up to $138 million to "any other appropriation of any department or agency" of the U.S. government. The idea for those transferable funds is to finance "operations in and assistance for Afghanistan and to carry out the provisions of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961," the White House statement reads.

By John Liang
April 10, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Sister publication Inside U.S.-China Trade is reporting this week that a senior House lawmaker wants to pass legislation on satellite export controls to prevent the space industrial base from losing its export market share to foreign competitors. In a hearing, House Foreign Affairs terrorism, nonproliferation and trade subcommittee Chairman Brad Sherman (D-CA) signaled such a bill could ease controls on satellites going to countries other than China, but contain language blocking China from benefiting:

“We do have, I think, a need to legislate,” Sherman said in an April 2 subcommittee hearing. “One way is to kick this back to the executive branch” to decide whether satellite components should remain subject to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), or be moved to the dual-use Export Administration Regulations (EAR), he said. Existing statute requires satellite components to remain on the ITAR’s U.S. Munitions List (USML), unlike most USML articles, which can be removed at the discretion of the State and Defense departments.

Sherman suggested he might allow the Satellite Industry Association (SIA) to draft most of the new bill, while permitting Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to draft one chapter, “because I know what he’d write -- don’t let the Chinese do anything.”

Rohrabacher in the hearing stated that in order to be “really effective,” a bill reforming satellite export controls “has got to be a two-tiered approach” that treats China more harshly than the rest of the world. “If you don’t want export control reform to focus on China ... and you want to focus on how we can reform export controls generally, well, then you take China right off the table right off the bat,” Rohrabacher said.

Allowing satellite industry ties with China “will increase the potential of a country which is the world’s worst human rights abuser who looks at us as their most likely potential enemy,” Rohrabacher said. “Until that changes, we should have them regulated on a different level than we are regulating how we deal in the relationships that we establish with Brazil or England or Italy or any of these other countries like that.”

Rohrabacher argued that the industry’s cooperation with China, when it was allowed during the 1990s, resulted in China improving its Long March launch vehicle, which used to be “relatively ineffective and inefficient” due to frequent explosions. He argued the U.S. helped China improve its success rate from 10 percent, enhanced gyroscope technology on the Chinese rocket and allowed China to increase the number of payloads on each vehicle from one to three.

By Marjorie Censer
April 10, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Though asking for more money for defense “in the middle of a massive financial crisis is not the news most want to hear,” one analyst says most of the priorities in President Obama's $83.4 billion supplemental request “seem reassuring.”

Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies writes in a new paper on today's supplemental request that Obama had no choice but to submit a war-cost request because the “Bush administration had failed to draft a comprehensive defense budget.”

But Cordesman calls on Congress to closely review the request, particularly in the categories of equipment and force structure.

He questions the $11.6 billion requested to refurbish or replace equipment used in theater, arguing that “there still is no credible estimate of what the overall cost and procurement strategy will be to pay for the equipment lost or worn out in Iraq, and to ensure a suitable form of 'reset' for Afghanistan.”

Additionally, he says there are concerns surrounding the $9.8 billion marked for force protection, calling for a “clear path to providing an effective mix of armored vehicles to meet both current and future needs.”

Cordesman concludes that “Congress should be prepared to spend and the President seems to have all of the right priorities.”

“But,” he adds, “these are areas where the Congress, the media, and think tanks should be ruthless in questioning the quality of planning and management, and demanding transparent accounting and measures of effectiveness.”

By John Liang
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Usually when the Pentagon submits its annual budget, defense analysts have a field day (or several) taking apart the hundreds of pages of supplementary justification material to find any new trends in defense spending.

This time around, though, it hasn't been that easy. The only thing for analysts to go on so far in any kind of detail has been Defense Secretary Robert Gates' press conference on Monday.

Which is exactly what the Center for Strategic and International Studies did today. CSIS released a paper titled "U.S. Strategy, Force Plans, and the FY2010 Defense Budget: The Questions Still to Be Answered," authored by in-house analyst Anthony Cordesman:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates provided the first indications of how he will seek to shift the U.S. defense budget and program in his press briefing of April 6, 2009. This briefing, however, raised at least as many questions as it answered. It also is unusual in that it was not accompanied by any charts or detailed background data, and no material that supplements his comments has been issued by OSD (Public Affairs).

"Part of the reason for this lack of detail may lie in the need to rush some decisions out in time to meet budget deadlines, and before the secretary had time to develop all of the necessary supporting plans and analysis," Cordesman continues.

It is also clear that there will still have to be an FY2010 supplemental for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the same time, the Department of Defense is also committed to yet another QDR this year, although it is far from clear as yet that it will be any better tied to a clear force plan, procurement plan, and future year defense program and budget (FYDP) than its largely meaningless predecessors.

Furthermore, if the new administration is serious about creating an integrated national security strategy, at some point it will have to put forward an integrated approach to civil-military strategy, programs, and budget covering the Department of Defense, State Department, and other federal departments and agencies—a massive but necessary reform in the way that the U.S. approaches national security and one that could make the rationale for the FY2010 defense budget largely moot. If nothing else, it may be impossible to modernize the U.S. security posture until the chaos, lack of focus, and waste in the foreign aid efforts in wars like Iraq and Afghanistan are addressed. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already warned about these problems, which are exemplified by the lack of any integrated plans, budget, and measures of effectiveness for the State Department, DoD, and USAID efforts.

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Ever since cyberspace became a major concern for the Defense Department, figuring out who exactly is behind attacks against U.S. networks has largely remained an unsolved problem, according to defense officials. So tangled is the Internet, and so manifold the worldwide laws governing its use, that sophisticated attackers seem to have no problem concealing their tracks.

Pinpointing the origin of cyberattacks to somewhere and someone in China or Russia is usually as far as officials will go when discussing the issue in public.

In practice, this means cyberspace is still a domain that "favors the attacker," as they say in the military.

The implications of not knowing who U.S. cyber warriors are fighting are enormous, and experts at the National Security Agency and elsewhere at DOD presumably are working feverishly to find solutions.

But Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an old hand at cyber issues, this week suggested U.S. officials may just have to live with the anonymity of cyber attackers.

In a briefing about fiscal year 2010 budget decisions on Monday, Cartwright made the point that key pieces of information associated with conventional warfare (identity and origin of the attacker) are notably absent in today's conflicts -- cyber or otherwise.

"((H))eretofore, conventional warfare was: I know your home address, I know exactly who we're fighting, and we know exactly where. And the problem is, that's not the case anymore in cyber warfare and weapons of mass destruction, because there are venues without attribution that we have to deal with as we move to the future."

A senior defense official tells us the general's comment was not meant to signal officials have given up hope, and work continues on attribution techniques. But, the official said, the problem remains "extremely difficult."

Of course, any public comment from DOD that reliable cyber attack attribution cannot be achieved would be seen as an invitation to cyber intruders. Besides, at least one senior cyber warrior has said the Internet's anonymity could, in fact, sometimes come in handy for U.S. forces.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) says he'll support the Defense Department's new push for a joint combat search-and-rescue aircraft, though DOD's plans to discontinue the current CSAR program could affect his region in Pennsylvania, where Boeing makes rotorcraft.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky have been involved in a three-way competition for the CSAR-X helicopter contract

Today on MSNBC's “Morning Joe” program, Sestak said, “People tend to go to the armed services committees because they have districts that happen to have defense industries in them. One of them's going to affect my district, CSAR, the combat search-and-rescue platform for the future.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday he does not want to purchase a single-service, Air Force-only platform. “Let's sit back and get a multiservice capability to do it,” Sestak said. “That's the right thing to do, and I'm going to support that.”

But Sestak predicted Gates will face a “tough, tough battle” with authorizers and appropriators in the House and Senate, as well as the defense industry, as he defends his budget proposals for the F-22, C-17 and other programs. “And it's a shame,” Sestak said. “If there's a transformation needed, it's now.”

While congressional proponents of the F-22 are upset with Gates' plan to buy no more than 187 F-22s for the Air Force, Sestak, a retired three-star admiral, argued DOD probably needs fewer than 187.

By John Liang
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

In 1994, technothriller author Tom Clancy published "Debt of Honor," a novel about a brief war between the United States and Japan. The ending of that novel had a terrorist crashing an airliner into the Capitol building, presaging the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

The beginning of the novel, however, presaged something else which Publisher's Weekly described at the time thusly:

Jack Ryan, now the President's National Security Adviser, finds himself embroiled in the buildup to a new world war -- one in which the stock market and national economic policy are as critical as advanced weaponry.

That intermixing between economics and warfare is taking on greater importance in the real world, and is the subject of an investigation.

By Dan Dupont
April 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The White House Office of Management and Budget has released the administration's latest supplemental appropriations request.

You can find the statement here, and the whole thing here.

Equipment highlights:

* $11.6 billion to refurbish or replace equipment that is worn out or damaged from operating in harsh conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan, including $0.6 billion to procure four F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft to replace four fighter aircraft lost in the theater of operations.
* $9.8 billion to improve the protection of our forces with lightweight body armor, armored vehicles, safe and secure operating bases, identity management for access control, and persistent surveillance capabilities.
* $1.5 billion to confront the evolving threat from Improvised Explosive Devices.

More news to come Friday.

By Christopher J. Castelli
April 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday that the Pentagon has not had to punish anyone for violating the nondisclosure agreements that have been used to prevent leaks about defense budget deliberations.

“No, because there have been no leaks, in case you hadn't noticed,” Gates told reporters who participated in a roundtable discussion with the defense secretary.

Gates said he and other officials have been “astonished” by the discipline displayed by Defense Department officials during the budget deliberations. Demanding the nondisclosure pacts was “kind of an afterthought,” he added, noting he could not remember who suggested the idea.

At that point, Gen. James Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, raised his hand a bit, signaling he advocated the pacts.

“I think what you have is a building, fortunately, with men and women in it who when they put their name to something saying they won't do something, have the character and integrity to stick with it,” Gates added. “I didn't have to say a word to a soul through this whole process.”

Gates said he has given DOD officials the “maximum possible opportunity” to make their views on budget issues and programs known to him, to “guide” decisions and “try to change my mind about things.” But once a decision is made by DOD and the president, he said, the department must heed it and respect the chain of command when dealing with Capitol Hill, he added.

Conducting “guerrilla warfare” against DOD's budget plans, he said, is not a good idea.

By Sebastian Sprenger
April 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army will soon begin the process of picking a contractor to teach Afghan administration officials how to run an U.S.-style defense apparatus in their country -- literally.

According to a January 2009 draft request for proposals for the "Afghanistan National Security Sector Development & Fielding Program," contractors will be in charge of teaching senior security officials everything from personnel management, intelligence training, logistics, strategic planning and budgeting.

Army officials posted a link to the draft RFP on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site late last month, announcing the proposal submission period for industry would begin this month.

The winning company must provide "training, coaching and advice" to senior Afghan defense officials in the use of processes like the "Strategic Defense Planning System" or the "Planning, Programming and Budgeting System," according to the draft RFP. Both processes apparently are modeled after signature Pentagon processes.

To be clear, the document makes no mention of introducing the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System into the Afghan defense establishment.

It does, however, require the contractor to run a tight ship and keep U.S. defense officials abreast of the Afghans' progress, as illustrated by this snippet from the draft RFP:

"Within two months of start of contract, the contractor shall establish a system to track the progress of the ((assistant minister of defense for strategy and policy)) and his deputy as they develop internal staff operations and functions. The contractor shall provide written updates and an oral presentation to the ((U.S.-led Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan)) at least quarterly on the progress of the development and no less than monthly if progress is not being made in accordance with the plan that is approved by the CSTC-A . . . by the second month."

The contract's period of performance will begin on August 1 and last one year, according to the draft RFP. After that, there is a possibility of four yearlong extensions.

Contractors must put in sixty-hour work weeks, consisting of six ten-hour days (Saturday through Thursday) and no reimbursable overtime. "Meal time is not inclusive in the 60 hours," notes the draft RFP.

By Marjorie Censer
April 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

A new Army vehicle modernization program “will take 15 years or more to implement,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday, while also stressing the importance of launching that effort.

“We need to get agreement with the Army and kind of broad agreement on what that program ought to look like and then build it out and . . . start bending steel just as soon as we can,” Gates said during a teleconference with reporters.

The modernization initiative is a response to Gates's decision to cancel the eight manned ground vehicles in the Army Future Combat Systems program -- a decision he said he didn't make until this weekend, just days before Monday's announcement.

“One reason why it was so difficult was because the Army felt very strongly about it,” he said during the same phone call. “I spent a lot of time with ((Army Chief of Staff)) Gen. ((George)) Casey and ((Army)) Secretary ((Pete)) Geren -- probably more time with them on this particular issue than on any other single issue with anybody else in the building.”

But -- as Gates said on Monday and in a roundtable with reporters yesterday -- he concluded the vehicle component of the program was not responsive to the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.