The Insider

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

A much-anticipated House Armed Services air and land forces subcommittee hearing on the Future Combat Systems program -- scheduled for 3 p.m. today -- has been postponed.

The two Army witnesses -- Lt. Gen. Ross Thompson, military deputy to the Army acquisition executive, and Maj. Gen. John Bartley, program manager for FCS -- were already on Capitol Hill when word came down on the last-minute cancellation, attributed to illness on the part of subcommittee Chairman Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI).

The hearing was set to include the two Army generals as well as representatives from the Government Accountability Office, which last week released a deeply critical assessment of the program.

No new date has been chosen for the hearing.

By Dan Dupont
March 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Inside the Air Force's editor, Marcus Weisgerber, is out in St. Louis today for the unveiling of the new F-15SE -- the Silent Eagle -- which Boeing touts as a "stealthy" version of the fighter designed for "international customers."

From our story:

ST. LOUIS, March 17, 2009 -- In an effort to keep its international fighter jet business churning, Boeing today revealed a new, advanced version of the multirole F-15 Eagle, which the company has been secretly developing for months.

Dubbed the F-15 Silent Eagle, the fighter jet sports side-mounted conformal fuel tanks that can carry both air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. Program officials claim the internal weapons bays, combined with canted vertical tails, special coating and advanced computer systems, turn the aircraft into a stealthy day-one strike aircraft.

Boeing displayed a full-scale model of the new jet in a hanger here close to where it builds international versions of the F-15E Strike Eagle. The ground test aircraft displayed during the roll-out is a modified version of the first F-15E flight test aircraft.

In what Boeing terms “front-end” stealth mode, the jet can carry a mixture of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles and Small Diameter Bombs. The internal weapon bays can carry up to four AMRAAMs, or two JDAMs, or a mix of SDBs.

“Our international customers are worried about their future threats and they’re particularly worried about the value of stealth,” said Mark Bass, the company’s F-15 program vice president.

In a low-threat environment, the conformal fuel tanks -- which were flight-certified on the F-15C by the Air Force in the 1980s -- could be replaced by separate tanks that allow for external weapons mounting. The jet could then carry a heavy weapons load similar to an F-15E’s.

The aircraft likely will cost less than $100 million, according to Bass.

More pics here.

By John Liang
March 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The White House today announced the nomination of Rose Gottemoeller for the position of assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance.

"Turning the tide on the threat of nuclear weapons and strengthening the international non-proliferation regime is one of the great and urgent challenges of our time," President Obama said in a statement. "Rose Gottemoeller’s extraordinary commitment and expertise make her a valuable addition to the State Department and my national security team as we renew American diplomacy to create a more secure world."

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Karin Look has run the office in an acting capacity since former verification and compliance bureau chief Paula DeSutter left, according to the State Department.

Gottemoeller is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment; before that, she served as deputy under secretary for defense nuclear non-proliferation in the Energy Department.

According to a State Department fact sheet:

The ((Verification and Compliance)) Bureau's core missions are to ensure that appropriate verification requirements and capabilities are fully considered and properly integrated throughout the development, negotiation, and implementation of arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements and commitments and to ensure that other countries' compliance is carefully watched, rigorously assessed, appropriately reported, and resolutely enforced. In this regard, the Bureau is responsible for preparing the President's annual report to Congress on Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments. The Bureau is further required to prepare verifiability assessments on proposals and agreements, and to report these to Congress, as required. The Bureau also prepares the President's semi-annual Iran, North Korea, Syria Nonproliferation Report to Congress, which identifies entities that engage in the transfer of controlled items to and from Iran, North Korea, and Syria and authorizes the imposition of sanctions against these entities.

By John Liang
March 16, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates won't travel to the April 3-4 NATO Summit meetings in France and Germany so that he can put all his focus on the Pentagon's fiscal year 2010 budget request, according to an Armed Forces Press Service story issued today:

President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor Jim Jones will represent the United States at the summit in Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany, which takes place on the 60th anniversary of the alliance.

“Given the fact that the U.S. will be well represented, the work that still has to be done back here on what is arguably probably one of the most challenging budget reviews that has taken place in a number of years, he just felt that it’s best that he remain here and work on that,” Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

“He came to that conclusion and talked to the national security advisor about it, and it was agreed upon that that would probably be the best course to take,” Whitman added.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates had hoped to join Obama to celebrate the alliance's anniversary, but that work on the 2010 budget will not permit him to leave.

“He simply needs more time to review all of our major weapons programs and assess how they fit into his efforts to strategically rebalance the department's budget to reflect the president's national security priorities," Morrell said today in an e-mail statement.

During a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels last week, Vice President Biden noted that Obama had ordered a full-scale strategic review of U.S. policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan. "He insisted that we consult with our allies and partners so that we produce a truly common vision of how to proceed. And that's what I had the privilege to do today at the North Atlantic Council," Biden said, adding:

I heard from our allies. I heard the concerns and they listed their priorities. And I pledged to them, as I pledge to all Europeans now, that we will build their ideas into our review, which we expect to present to President Obama before the end of this month, in preparation of the NATO summit in April.

I also shared with my colleagues some of the factors that are shaping our thinking right now, including the requirement that we set clear goals and achievable goals: We need to look at Afghanistan and Pakistan together, because success in one requires progress in the other; the imperative of a comprehensive approach with a strong civilian and diplomatic effort is necessary because we know there is no purely military solution to either Afghanistan or Pakistan; the centrality of building up Afghan security forces -- because our goal is not to stay in Afghanistan, it's to be able to leave, and to leave behind Afghan forces that can provide for the security and safety of the people of Afghanistan; and the need to ensure the security and legitimacy in this year's presidential elections.

In each of these areas, NATO and it member countries plays a critical role. So does the European Union. The Secretary General and I will meet with that leadership after this press conference. And I look forward to hearing from representatives of non-NATO countries, as well, who are doing so much in Afghanistan.

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

The Levin-McCain acquisition reform bill still has Pentagon officials busy assessing the legislation's potential implications, we're told. The bill's proposed moves in the areas of cost estimating and developmental test and evaluation are generating the most resistance at the Pentagon, according to sources.

Meanwhile, some defense officials said they are under the assumption that senators will include the bill as an amendment in the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization legislation.

According to Levin spokeswoman Tara Andringa, the way ahead for the legislation is still up in the air. "Sen. Levin has said he has not decided yet whether to mark it up separately or to include it in the NDAA," she wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

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

Ten senators today advised President Obama against delaying the Air Force’s KC-X next-generation tanker program and 2018 bomber program.

“We believe that any delay or cancellation of either program constitutes an unacceptable and unnecessary risk to our nation's unique ability to project airpower worldwide,” the group wrote in a letter to the White House.

The senators were reacting to reports claiming the White House Office of Management and Budget has recommended a five-year delay to the tanker program and canceling the next-generation bomber program.

Speaking at a conference in Washington this week, House Appropriations defense subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D-PA) called the recommendation false. Pentagon Deputy Comptroller Kevin Scheid said, “Probably somewhere along the line someone suggested you need to look at this. And it's been picked up in probably more significance than it ((has)).”

The senators contend that tankers are critical to all U.S. military operations:

As you know, none of our recent military operations would have been possible without the utilization of our tanker fleet. Specifically, our strike aircraft would not have been able to reach and dwell over Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, and Kosovo without a robust aerial refueling capability. However, the mainstay of our aerial tanker fleet, the Eisenhower-era KC-135, is nearly 50 years old. Undoubtedly, these were some of the factors your Administration considered when it articulated, on the White House's website, the importance of aerial tanker recapitalization.

 On the subject of the bomber, the senators claim:

The utilization of state-of-the-art stealth technology will be essential to defeat the emerging threat posed by advanced integrated air defense systems. For example, a rogue nation, for a relatively modest sum, could acquire such advanced systems as the Russian-made S-300 and S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

Signatories include Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD), David Vitter (R-LA), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Christopher Bond (R-MO), Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Robert Bennett (R-UT).

All of the lawmakers who sent the letter to the president have tanker or bomber connections in their states.

By Dan Dupont
March 12, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), the chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, told a conference crowd this morning he and others in Congress hope to get a split-buy tanker competition going with money in the emergency supplemental bill for fiscal year 2009.

Murtha, who has made news this week calling for a split tanker buy between Boeing and a Northrop Grumman-EADS team, also said he still wants to ensure competition in the controversial program -- namely, by promising that the bidder with the better proposal will be awarded more work than the other.

Funding tankers through the war costs supplemental is OK, Murtha added, because tankers -- unlike, say, F-22A fighters -- directly benefit ongoing war efforts. No F-22 money will be in the supplemental, he said.

Finally, Murtha said Congress is likely to add about $20 billion to the FY-09 supplemental.

For more on a possible split tanker program, see our story from yesterday:

Abercrombie: House Members Approaching Consensus in Favor of Split KC-X Buy

March 11, 2009 -- After years of false starts and delays, a consensus is forming on Capitol Hill that a split purchase is the only feasible option for the embattled KC-135 tanker replacement competition, the chairman of the House Armed Services air land subcommittee said today.

“I've spoken to all the principals involved, at least legislatively speaking in the House and Senate, and it seems that both companies had acted in good faith and put forth a proposal that was in line with what the Air Force was requesting and they both believed that they had fulfilled that,” said Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) today during a conference sponsored by Aviation Week. “My view is very simple: We're gonna split the buy. Each of the tankers from each of the consortiums does different things . . . buy them and use them where it's appropriate.”

By Christopher J. Castelli
March 12, 2009 at 5:00 AM

President Obama met today in the Oval Office with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to smooth relations following Sunday's testy encounter in the South China Sea between the U.S. Navy's surveillance ship Impeccable and Chinese naval forces.

Chinese sailors reportedly sought to prevent the U.S. vessel from looking for Chinese submarines by maneuvering their ships in the way, dropping objects in the water, trying to snag a sonar device and sailing within 25 feet of the American vessel while -- for reasons that are unclear -- stripping down to their underwear.

Obama and Yang "discussed the overall state of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship, emphasizing the desire of both sides to strengthen cooperation and build a positive and constructive U.S.-China relationship," the White House said in a statement.

Obama "stressed the importance of raising the level and frequency of the U.S.-China military-to-military dialogue in order to avoid future incidents," the White House said. Before the Oval Office meeting, Yang met with National Security Adviser retired Gen. James Jones, who also brought up the naval incident. Yang also met yesterday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In addition, the White House said Obama and Yang discussed the international financial crisis, North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Sudan and the president's interest in seeing progress in talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives.

On North Korea, Obama "expressed appreciation" for the key role China has played as the chair of the Six-Party Talks, noting America will continue to work with China and other partners in the Six-Party process to verifiably eliminate North Korea’s nuclear program, according to the White House. Obama also "highlighted the risks posed by North Korea’s missile program," the White House said.

By Sebastian Sprenger
March 12, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) is looking for new gear that might come in handy during counterterrorism operations, according to an announcement released by the organization this week.

Officials have grouped the solutions they are looking for into the following areas:

Blast Effects and Mitigation (BX); Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures (CBRNC); Explosives Detection (ED); Improvised Device Defeat (IDD); Investigative Support and Forensics (ISF); Irregular Warfare Support Program (IWS); Physical Security (PS); Surveillance, Collection, and Operations Support (SCOS); Tactical Operations Support (TOS); Training Technology Development (TTD); and Personnel/VIP Protection (VIP)

In the BX category, for example, officials are seeking some sort of lightweight, deployable shelter strong enough to protect forward-deployed forces against "personnel borne improvised explosive devices" -- aka suicide bombers -- or vehicle-mounted bombs.

In a separate project, officials are looking for a "Non-lethal Suicide Bomber Immobilization Device" capable of doing this:

The non-lethal capability device to immobilize a suicide bomber shall work from a standoff distance of 50 (threshold) to 75 (optimal) yards and incapacitate the potential suicide bomber for 60 (threshold) to 90 (optimal) seconds. The desired end-state allows no and/or minimal reaction time for the potential suicide bomber to initiate the explosive charge without causing long-term harmful side effects or permanent damage to the subject. . . . Devices employing an electrical charge (shock) to immobilize the suicide bomber will not be considered.

Not all projects are technology-focused. Officials also are looking for a contractor to study the dynamics of certain populations in the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command areas of responsibility. The idea is to get an understanding of the "actual versus perceived stakeholders and centers of gravity and power" in these areas, the announcement reads.

By John Liang
March 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The office of the Director of National Intelligence today announced the appointment of the organization's No. 3 official.

Lt. Gen. John "Jeff" Kimmons is the new director of the intelligence staff, according to a DNI press release. He arrived Feb. 28 from the Pentagon, where he served as the Army's deputy chief of staff, G-2 -- the service's top intelligence officer.

"Jeff Kimmons has a wealth of experience and a keen appreciation of the need for insightful intelligence to support the national security decision-making process. I look to him to help strengthen the ODNI and our Intelligence Community as we face new challenges," Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said in the statement.

Kimmons will be responsible for "oversee((ing)) the staff to ensure the effective integration and coordination of policy and procedures across the Intelligence Community," the statement reads.

Kimmons has served as commanding general of the Army's Intelligence and Security Command at Ft. Belvoir, VA, and commander of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion at Ft. Bragg, NC. He has also done stints at U.S. Central Command, the National Military Command Center, Joint Special Operations Command as well as serving as an intelligence officer with Delta Force.

Kimmons succeeds Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, who was recently appointed as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to the DNI statement.

DNI also announced the appointments of Wendy Morigi as the organization's new public affairs director and Arthur House as communications director. Morigi was communications director for Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and House was the managing director for public affairs at Connecticut-based Webster Bank.

By Sebastian Sprenger
March 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Michèle Flournoy is scheduled to make her first public appearance as the under secretary of defense for policy at a March 27 event at the Brookings Institution in Washington, we're told. As envisioned, she will be part of a panel discussion that includes Brookings vice president and foreign policy program director Carlos Pascual.

Sources said Flournoy's speech is sure to yield a glimpse of what the Quadrennial Defense Review has in store, particularly in the field of stability operations and related mission areas.

Flournoy recently wrote a new foreword for the Army's Stability Operations Field Manual, along with confidants Shawn Brimley and Janine Davidson. The manual has been re-released by University of Michigan Press.

A Brookings spokeswoman said the event is not yet listed on the organization's Web site because the logistics, like the sending out of invitations, are still being coordinated.

By John Liang
March 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

David Ahern, the director for portfolio systems in the Pentagon's acquisition office, was asked today how the new acquisition-reform bill introduced last month by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-VA) would affect the Defense Department's most recent changes to DOD procurement processes.

"We're going to work on it," he told after delivering a speech at an Aviation Week-sponsored conference in Washington. "Some of that has already been incorporated ((in recent DOD acquisition memoranda)) when I look at it, some of it is additional ideas."

In December, the Pentagon released a policy instruction that updated the "operation of the defense acquisition system," as the document is called. Among other things, the Dec. 8, 2008, instruction:

Establishes a simplified and flexible management framework for translating capability needs and technology opportunities, based on approved capability needs, into stable, affordable, and well-managed acquisition programs that include weapon systems, services, and automated information systems (AISs).

Last month, Levin and McCain introduced legislation designed to address "major flaws" in the Pentagon's weapon system acquisition process, including provisions that would strengthen enforcement of existing laws that require termination of programs with runaway costs.

In a Levin, McCain Propose Bill to Address 'Major Flaws' in Weapons Acquisition System (Updated)
Key Senators Pledge Support for Acquisition Chief Nominee
DOD Officials Hurry to Assess Effects of Levin-McCain Acquisition Bill
Obama Takes Aim at Pentagon Procurement System, Defense Industry (Updated)
Senate Hearing on Major Weapon Systems Acquisition

By Sebastian Sprenger
March 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

In a speech at the National Defense University yesterday, CSIS scholar Anthony Cordesman had this to say about the Quadrennial Defense Review: (Consider yourself warned.)

If God really hates you, you may end up working on a Quadrennial Defense Review: The most pointless and destructive planning effort imaginable. You will waste two years on a document decoupled from a real world force plan, from an honest set of decisions about manpower or procurement, with no clear budget or ((future years defense plan)), and with no metrics to measure or determine its success.

If God merely dislikes you, you may end up helping your service chief or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs draft one of those vague, anodyne strategy documents that is all concepts and no plans or execution.

If God is totally indifferent, you will end up working on our national strategy and simply be irrelevant.

Quite seriously, I have no idea where we lost sight of the fact that policy planning, concepts, and good intentions are not a strategy. The secretary used to issue an annual posture statement that justified the budget request in terms of detailed force plans, procurement plans, and at least some tangible measures of progress. The chairman issued his own statement and views-sometimes explaining and sometimes dissenting. For a while, there were even crude attempts at an annual net assessment.

By John Liang
March 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The fourth annual Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense (JIAMD) Summit is scheduled to be held next month in Huntsville, AL.

The Pentagon's acquisition office, the Joint Staff's force protection office, U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Joint Forces Command, U.S. Northern Command, the Joint Functional Component Commander for Integrated Missile Defense (JFCC-IMD) and the Missile Defense Agency are supporting the April 6-9 confab, according to the conference Web site.

The annual JIAMD Summits provide a forum to aid in achieving improved Government and industry communication by obtaining innovative industrial inputs necessary to attain a more joint and integrated Air and Missile Defense Family of Systems (FoS). At each of the Summits, experts from Government, industry, military, and academia will work together to resolve key issues and improve overall participation in the present and proposed JIAMD architecture and FoS implementation plan. In reflection of this spirit of cooperation, the motto of the Annual JIAMD Summits is "One System …One Team …One Fight …One Future."

The subject matter to be discussed during JIAMD Summit 2009 will include issues relating to gaps in our present JIAMD system capabilities that threaten the security of our Homeland and our deployed forces overseas.

Feel like attending? That might be a problem unless you have an invitation. Not to mention the fact that it's classified as "Secret." But hey, the keynote dinner on April 8 will be open to the public, according to the Web site announcement.

Here's some more -- unclassified -- info on the conference:

The theme for the Fourth Annual JIAMD Summit is "Process to Product." This year's work will build on the progress that has been made during the previous three Summits. Resolutions for JIAMD issues that have been identified in previous Summits will be the focus of discussions that will lead to executable project plans that can obtain measurable results in a reasonable timeframe.

By Dan Dupont
March 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Kevin Scheid, the Pentagon's deputy comptroller , said today he expects the fiscal year 2010 defense budget request to be released on April 20 or April 21.

But: He stressed that no date is certain. So keep that in mind.

UPDATE: Scheid also said that what's released for FY-10 in April will include "placeholders" for outyear spending, no doubt because the new administration wants more time to figure out what it wants to do.

And: A source writes in to say that by March 31, all defense budget numbers are to be "locked."