The Insider

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October 30, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Check out today's INSIDER for a good rundown of the latest.

One highlight:

Defense Acquisition Shop Prepares for Shift in Administrations
The Pentagon is preparing to brief the incoming administration’s defense team on upcoming, key decisions affecting major weapons programs worth billions of dollars.

“As I keep telling people, acquisition doesn’t transition,” Pentagon acquisition chief John Young told Inside the Pentagon on Monday. “Acquisition is a continuous process. Yes, we’ve done some things to prepare.”

Young, who oversees the acquisition of major weapons systems and related policy matters, wants to help the new administration get ready for decisions on the horizon. In his brief remarks, Young did not cite examples of the upcoming decisions, but his spokesman later elaborated.

-- Dan Dupont

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October 29, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon's Rapid Response Technology Office hopes to lure new business by making test beds available for companies to try out their new technologies. Speaking this week at the Emerging Technologies for Defense Applications conference in Arlington, VA, Benjamin Riley, director of the RRTO office, said it is possible for companies to book time on the Stiletto ship, for example, as well as at the Yuma Test Center in Yuma, AZ.

Inside the Pentagon reported this new use for Stiletto, "an all carbon-fiber vessel measuring 88 feet long and 40 feet wide," which was recently employed by U.S. Southern Command in counterdrug operations. Riley described the ship as a "maritime environment test bed," where companies can book time on the ship to use their plug-and-play technologies.

Time at the Yuma Test Center can also be booked by companies who want to test their counter-improvised explosive device technologies, said Riley.

The test bed effort is part of RRTO's outreach to innovative businesses, one of the office's key priorities for fiscal year 2009, according to Riley.

He listed other major areas where his office intends to invest its energies and resources in FY-09. One key priority is Thunderstorm, a multi-sensor program aimed at quickly mining data. The office will also look at the interface between law enforcement and military operations, strategic communications and influence operations, interagency coordination, biometrics and forensics, capabilities to support denied area operations, small dispersed unit operations, autonomous systems operations and strategic multi-layer assessment, said Riley.

-- Kate Brannen
 

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October 29, 2008 at 5:00 AM

We've been reporting this week on some fascinating new reports from the Defense Business Board that are worth wrapping up here given their focus on what comes next.

First up is the latest. Our story:

Panel: Fiscal Constraints Will Force Next Defense Secretary to Consider Program Kills

The next defense secretary will inherit a vexing set of financial challenges that demand an "all-or-nothing" approach to cutting the defense budget, including weapon systems and even personnel accounts, according to a key Defense Department advisory panel.

Such “bold action” would mark a departure from the less politically painful and more common practice of dealing with fiscal constraints by imposing small cuts across all accounts, the Defense Business Board says in a new report.

Next:

Pentagon Panel: Rising Healthcare Costs 'Perilous Threat' to DOD, Future Weapons Funding

Defense healthcare costs, which have surged 144 percent in the last eight years, are "eating up" the U.S. military budget and now represent an "existential threat" to the Defense Department, a high-level Pentagon advisory panel concludes in a new briefing that urges the next defense secretary and senior military leaders to address this "perilous threat."

Michael Bayer, chairman of the Defense Business Board, and Dov Zakheim, Pentagon comptroller from 2001 to 2005 and a member of the advisory panel, warn in a briefing presented Oct. 23 at the Pentagon that funding for weapon system acquisition programs and operations could soon be pinched by rising healthcare costs.

"Defense healthcare programs are facing an imminent head-on financial train wreck with other critical defense acquisition and operational programs," the panel's briefing slides assert.

Another:

DOD Panel: Next President 'Likely' to Face Crisis in First 270 Days

The next president is likely to face a major international crisis within his first nine months in office, according to a senior group of business advisers to the defense secretary.

Accordingly, the Defense Business Board says the new administration should set a goal to win Senate confirmation of key Pentagon posts in the first 30 days of the inauguration, in order to have a full team in place to deal with such a contingency.

And two more documents:

Defense Business Board Briefing Slides on 'Focusing a Transition Effort'
In Oct. 23, 2008, briefing slides, the Defense Business Board recommends that the next president will likely face a major international crisis within his first nine months in office, and should set a goal to win Senate confirmation of key Pentagon posts in the first 30 days after the inauguration.

DBB Briefing Slides on 'Improving DOD's Transition Process'
In Oct. 23, 2008, briefing slides, a Defense Business Board task force reviews private sector experience to find lessons relevant to the Defense Department during the transition to a new administration.

Get instant updates on all our transition coverage -- compiled here -- with our new e-mail alert.

-- Dan Dupont

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October 28, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The intelligence community spent $47.5 billion during fiscal year 2008, the office of the director of national intelligence announced today.

A federal law passed in 2007 mandates that the DNI disclose to the public "the aggregate amount of funds appropriated by Congress to the National Intelligence Program (NIP) for fiscal year 2008 not later than 30 days after the end of the fiscal year," the DNI statement reads.

But don't expect the intel community to be any more forthcoming.

"Any and all subsidiary information concerning the intelligence budget, whether the information concerns particular intelligence agencies or particular intelligence programs, will not be disclosed," according to the statement. "Beyond the disclosure of the top-line figure, there will be no other disclosures of currently classified budget information because such disclosures could harm national security. The only exceptions to the foregoing are for unclassified appropriations, primarily for the Community Management Account."

Getting the intelligence community to disclose even the above amount has been something that Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists has long advocated. Aftergood, who writes about this in his Secrecy News blog, last month highlighted the debate in Congress on how much oversight the intel community should have, when Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) was defending congressional intelligence oversight and rejecting a proposal by Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) to set up an intelligence subcommittee within the Senate Appropriations Committee:

Sen. Bond’s proposal, according to Sen. Inouye, would have the undesirable effect of reducing the number of Senators and staff who are engaged in intelligence oversight. “It would put all decisionmaking into fewer hands,” he said.

In making his argument, Senator Inouye also provided some fresh insight into current intelligence oversight arrangements in the Intelligence and Appropriations Committees.

“I would point out that the Intelligence Committee has one professional staff member on the majority staff who reviews the budget for the National Reconnaissance Office; so do we ((on the Appropriations Committee)). The Intelligence Committee has one professional staff member on the majority staff who reviews the budget for the National Security Agency; so do we.”

-- John Liang

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October 28, 2008 at 5:00 AM

With the Defense Department poised to award Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contracts this week, let's take a moment to review the competitors. Some have revealed more than others about their proposals, but we'll walk through the teams.

AM General and General Dynamics Land Systems announced their partnership early, but their participation in the competition came as no surprise as AM General manufactures the current fleet of humvees. In a August 2007 interview with Inside the Army, AM General President and CEO James Armour, who has since stepped down, said he didn't see the team as the incumbent. “The JLTV is not a humvee,” he said last year. “It has to represent a quantum leap forward in the capability of the humvee.”

Textron Systems, Boeing and Science Applications International Corporation serve as an example of the wide span of companies pursuing the contract. The team's submission proposes a center driver, parallel hybrid drive and an innovative suspension, company representatives announced at a May 19 briefing. Placing the driver in the center of the vehicle “enhances not only the driver's situational awareness . . . but by having a crew member on either side of the driver, it increases the situational awareness of all the people in the vehicle,” said Robert Polutchko, director of Textron's advanced solutions centers, at the event.

The team of Northrop Grumman and Oshkosh have proposed a diesel-electric drive that company representatives say will provide more power while reducing weight and allowing for improved modularity. At a May 16 briefing, John Stoddart, president of Oshkosh's defense group, said the vehicle would be able to generate enough power to support a deployed tactical operations center or tactical communications node. The design also eliminates the need for a transmission and conventional drive-train, freeing up space in the crew compartment.

Lockheed Martin has partnered with the former Armor Holdings -- now part of BAE Systems -- on the JLTV program. At this month's Association of the U.S. Army convention, the team announced that its first two operational prototypes had exceeded 25,000 combined miles of testing. The partners also introduced the latest prototype, a general purpose mobility vehicle.

BAE Systems of York, PA, announced about a year ago that it would be working with Navistar on the JLTV program. Both builders provided significant numbers of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles as part of the effort designated as the Defense Department's number-one priority.

Force Protection has said it is working with DRS Technologies on the JLTV initiative. In a February press release, the team announced that DRS would serve as prime contractor while Force Protection would design and produce the JLTV base vehicle. Force Protection too was a builder in the MRAP program.

Raytheon and Blackwater USA have also said they are participating in the program.

John Young, the Pentagon's acquisition chief, told ITA yesterday that technology development awards for the JLTV effort are expected this week. DOD is anticipated to provide awards to three industry teams. -- Marjorie Censer

By
October 28, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The White House today is holding the second meeting of a committee established to manage the upcoming presidential transition, according to a White House fact sheet.

"The peaceful transfer of power from one presidential administration to the next is a hallmark of American democracy," the fact sheet reads. "With our nation at war, our homeland targeted by terrorist adversaries, and our economy facing serious challenges, the administration is committed to establishing and executing a transition plan that minimizes disruption, maintains continuity, and addresses the major changes in government since the 2000 transition, including the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as well as the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Homeland Security Council."

Among the specific steps being taken by individual agencies, the Defense Department's "Transition Task Force" is getting ready to host the president-elect's transition teams; the Department of Homeland Security "is holding conferences and exercises designed to boost incident management capabilities and cross-departmental awareness"; and the secretary of state earlier this month "held an offsite meeting with senior State Department and USAID leadership to discuss transition planning and foreign policy and management challenges facing the new administration. The State Department is also preparing a list of pending political/economic commitments arranged by country," according to the fact sheet.

Additional nuggets include:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has provided intelligence briefings to the candidates. These briefings are continuing and are being supported by the entire intelligence community . . .

The administration has also worked to facilitate a speedy security clearance process for key transition personnel. Historically, one of the biggest challenges faced by incoming administrations has been the time required to obtain these security clearances. The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act allows major-party candidates to request clearances for key transition personnel before the election so that those individuals will have the necessary clearances should their candidate win.

-- John Liang
 

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October 27, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Washington Post today notes that both Barack Obama and John McCain support a key Bush administration national security goal: Increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps.

In addition, both the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, Robert Kaiser writes, “have revealed a willingness to commit U.S. forces overseas for both strategic and humanitarian purposes.”

Both agree on a course of action in Afghanistan that could lead to a long-term commitment of American soldiers without a clear statement of how long they might remain or what conditions would lead to their withdrawal.

Both candidates favor expanding the armed forces, Obama by 92,000 and McCain by as many as 150,000. Both speak of situations when the United States might have to commit its troops for "moral" reasons, whether or not a vital American interest was at risk. Both accept what Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel and professor at Boston University, calls the "unspoken consensus which commits the United States to permanent military primacy" -- shared, Bacevich said, by leading figures in both parties. 

Could end-strength cuts for ground forces be off the table in next year's Quadrennial Defense Review? 

-- Jason Sherman

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October 27, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Foreign Policy magazine's latest issue has something worth your time if you're tracking the transition to a new administration.

In the piece, available online, the magazine's editors "asked 10 of the world’s top thinkers to name the unlikely team that can best guide No. 44 through the turbulent years ahead."

Lots of names in there, but one comes up a lot: Robert Gates.

-- Dan Dupont

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October 24, 2008 at 5:00 AM

If Barack Obama wins the White House, don't be surprised if he puts a strong emphasis on preventing bioterrorism. Richard Danzig, one of Obama's key advisers, is deeply interested in the subject.

This week's Inside the Pentagon includes a detailed report on Danzig's call for more public-private partnership to address this threat, as well as cyberwarfare.

On a related note, we're tracking the work of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism, which will provide recommendations for the new president next month.

You can read more about Danzig's views on bioweapons and terrorism in this transcript of a speech he gave in June at the Center for New American Security.

Also, here's a piece he wrote about nuclear, biological and chemical weapons way back in 1999 as Navy secretary.

-- Christopher J. Castelli

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October 24, 2008 at 5:00 AM

With the advent of cyberspace as a key warfighting domain for the U.S. military, lots of new legal questions arise. Exactly what laws apply, international and domestic, when service members gird for virtual battle with enemy nations, terrorist groups or individuals?

A draft version of the Air Force’s upcoming doctrine for cyberspace operations includes some clues about how the air service could ultimately opt to answer some of the questions.

For example, as airmen select cyberspace targets for engagement they should consider this:

Legal considerations and international legal obligations directly affect all phases of targeting. Those involved in targeting should have a thorough understanding of these obligations and be able to apply them during the target analysis. Operations in cyberspace are no different in this respect than any other domain. The operational law expert should apply the same standards to operations conducted in cyberspace as are applied in air and space. The laws of armed conflict apply equally to all. No special allowances should be made, nor additional approval sought. Considerations regarding proportionality of effects demand that the employment of capabilities in cyberspace adhere to the same professional, ethical, and legal standards and drive to precision that characterize kinetic attack operations.

On the defensive side, three different portions of the U.S. Code are relevant for service officials dealing with network intrusions and other “unwelcome activity,” the draft doctrine states.

For one, there is U.S. Code Title 18, which governs criminal law. The application of these laws could be “complicated by the need to gather forensic evidence and identify perpetrators, especially when cyberspace attacks cross national boundaries,” the document states.

Then there are the foreign intelligence surveillance authorities of U.S. Code Title 50 (“War and National Defense”), which could be applied “if it appears that unwelcome activity has been instigated by foreign entities,” the draft doctrine states.

Finally, there are the wartime statutes of Title 10. Under that authority, officials could order counterattacks, both in cyberspace and through “destructive kinetic responses,” the document reads.

The final version of the Air Force cyberspace doctrine is slated to be unveiled in the next few weeks, according to a service spokesman.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

By
October 23, 2008 at 5:00 AM

When the next administration begins to make difficult choices about its national defense priorities, force structure will be a key concern -- and a critical piece of that debate will involve the balance between soldiers, civilians and contractors, said Nelson Ford, under secretary of the Army, at a discussion at the Brookings Institution yesterday.

"Any serious or purposeful discussion of size must include the role of contractors, without them much of the Army's mission would be simply impossible," said Ford.

While he described contractors as indispensable to current military operations, he asked, "Are they more or less expensive than Army civilians or soldiers? What are the associated costs with having contractors on the battlefield?"

Ford said 60 National Guard security companies are on the ground in Iraq, mostly doing force protection for light trucks -- contractor trucks. "That's a cost of having a contractor on the ground."

The Army currently has 230,000 civilians, 130,000 permanent contractors and180,000 temporary contractors -- though Ford called the number for temporary contractors an educated guess, saying, "We really don't know how many contractors we have."

During his first week at the Pentagon, back in 2002, Ford was in a meeting where officials discussed the appropriate role of contractors on the battlefield. "I've got to say that that conversation has not gone forward very effectively. We still don't understand that."

While these issues won't be resolved on his watch, Ford said they will be central to the next administration's decisions about how large the Army should be and what it should be tasked to do.

-- Kate Brannen

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October 22, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Sen. Obama met today with his high-level national security advisory team, according to the campaign.

Here's the lineup:

Senator Obama was joined by Senator Biden at a meeting with their Senior Working Group on National Security this morning to discuss the challenges that we face abroad, and the new direction that we need in our national security policy. Also at the meeting were Lt. Gen. John G. Castellaw (USMC, Ret.), Mr. Greg Craig, Sec. Richard Danzig, MG Paul Eaton (USA, Ret.), Rep. Lee Hamilton, Amb. Richard Holbrooke, MG Geoff Lambert (USA, Ret.), MG Al Lenhardt (USA, Ret.), ADM John Nathman (USN, Ret.), Sen. Sam Nunn, Sen. Jack Reed, Rep. Tim Roemer, Amb. Dennis Ross, Ms. Mara Rudman, Amb. Wendy Sherman, Brig. Gen. Jim Smith (USAF, Ret.), and Mr. Jim Steinberg.

-- Dan Dupont

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October 22, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Is the economic downturn negatively affecting everyone? On Oct. 11 Oct. 8, at the National Defense Industrial Association's Air Armament Symposium in Ft. Walton Beach, FL, Brig. Gen. Genaro Dellarocco, the Army's program executive officer for missiles and space, told an audience of industry representatives that the financial crisis is actually driving up global arms sales.

"We've got an opportunity here. Let me explain in a couple of different ways. . . . No matter who gets elected -- irrelevant -- we're going to have an unstable world out there. And that is producing a lot of angst. The economy isn't well.

“So, what's happening? People are arming themselves to protect themselves, to protect their investments, to protect their people, to protect their borders,” he added. “We're getting a lot of business."

Dellarocco then highlighted high-profile pending foreign military sales to the United Arab Emirates.

"We're all ready to sign a $7 billion Patriot case with the United Arab Emirates,” he said. “And every one of my shops, except for ((Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon)), has a FMS case with UAE."

He also mentioned the three Terminal High Altitude Air Defense fire units, estimated to cost $ 6.95 billion, that the Army intends to sell to the UAE, as well as another "three dozen" foreign military sales in the works.

And . . .

Of those sales, he said, this is "investment that everyone in this room has contributed to at the gas pump. Our treasure went over to their treasure and the way we get it back -- we sell our technology and our weapon systems."

-- Kate Brannen

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October 22, 2008 at 5:00 AM

At an industry conference today in Springfield, VA, a member of an industry panel charged with forecasting the space market over the next 10 years said the Transformational Satellite Communications System contract award will be pushed one year to the right.

Regarding "the TSAT program, which is the largest space communications programs during this period and is essential to the FCS, it was recently announced that the contract for this will likely slip 12 months," said Hughes Petteway, senior strategy analyst for the Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems Business Development Operations group. "While it is possible that the DOD has decided scale down the program . . . we have already projected that there will be additional program delays in this area."

Contrast that with a statement the Office of the Secretary of Defense released just two days ago in response to media reports on TSAT delays.

Stay tuned.

-- Jason Simpson

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October 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Inside the Navy this week runs a story on how the service sees the next administration's National Security Strategy as key to its future course:

“In very real terms, the ways and means must align with the objective the nation wants to achieve,” Adm. Patrick Walsh, the vice chief of naval operations, said at a Marine Corps Association and Marine Corps Combat Development Command dinner here on Oct. 15.

“The overarching national guidance is impactful to a service,” Walsh added, calling the implications of the strategy “substantial” for the Navy.

The next administration faces key Navy policy decisions, such as the fate of the next-generation DDG-1000 destroyer program, the make-up of the Maritime Preposition Force (Future) and how to reach the service’s goal of a 313-ship fleet in the 2020 time frame. How the Navy proceeds will be largely based on the next administration’s broad national security strategy, the four-star admiral said.

Walsh expressed hope that the document would be completed within 180 days. However, the Bush administration, when first elected in 2000, did not release its national security strategy until the fall of 2002, “because of concerns that it would be out of date as soon as it was printed,” he said.

-- Dan Dupont