The Insider

By Ethan Sterenfeld
September 3, 2021 at 10:32 AM

The Army will host a virtual industry day Sept. 21 for a program to add tele-operation capabilities to the Assault Breacher Vehicle, according to an Aug. 31 notice.

The ABV is an armored tracked vehicle that is designed to clear minefields and breach obstacles for armored maneuver forces. It removes obstacles with either a mine plow or a combat dozer blade.

A remote-control system would allow ABV operators to dismount the vehicle and operate it from a distance while it performs its most dangerous tasks, according to the notice. Operators would control the ABV from a Bradley M2A3 with specialized command-and-control systems.

"The ABV integration kit will be composed of several components, allowing remotely controlled mechanical movement and communication between the ABV and control vehicle," the notice stated. "The [remote-control system] provides the option for either manned or unmanned operations."

Contractors will have to design their own interfaces to add remote operation to the ABV, as well as the controls that will be in the Bradley, according to the notice. Only members of the Defense Automotive Technologies Consortium will be able to participate in the program.

The most dangerous missions, such as breaching, could become the first roles where the Army uses unmanned systems in place of soldiers, Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, said earlier this year.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
September 2, 2021 at 4:30 PM

The Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office seeks to retrofit hybrid-electric powertrain technology onto the humvee and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle fleets, according to an Aug. 26 notice.

Hybrid technology would make the vehicles more capable and reduce fuel consumption, according to the notice. Hybrid vehicles can produce more onboard electrical power, without towing generators, which would be valuable for future capabilities that require large amounts of electricity.

“To remain competitive on the battlefield, our military vehicles require significantly more electrical power to support new and future high-energy capabilities such as silent mobility, reduced signature management, lasers, and microwave systems,” the notice stated. “Additionally, while increasing performance and power generation capabilities, it is equally important to reduce the fuel and logistical support required.”

The hybrid vehicles should increase automotive performance, including range, acceleration and fuel economy, without any increase in the gross vehicle weight, according to the notice. Vehicles can be modified to accommodate batteries, so long as the changes do not compromise crew compartment space.

Hybrid vehicles should be able to provide power at a range of voltages and in both direct and alternating current, according to the notice. They should also include anti-idle technology, which turns off the engine and relies on batteries for auxiliary power when the vehicle is stationary.

RCCTO wants whitepapers from companies and academic institutions that could design and prototype the hybrid modifications for the vehicles in 15 months or less. Responses are due Sept. 15, and RCCTO plans to make multiple prototype Other Transaction Authority awards for the project.

The proposals should include commercially available components as much as possible, according to the notice. RCCTO hopes for a technology readiness level of 7 and a manufacturing readiness level of 5.

Humvee production has ended, although recapitalization continues, so hybrid technology would have to be integrated onto existing vehicles. The JLTV is in production, and the notice included the possibility that future production could include hybrid technology on new vehicles.

“While the JLTV is in production, it is conceivable the Army could modify future production awards to include a hybrid electric variant,” the notice stated.

A service official said in July that the Army could include humvees when it adds electric powertrains to the light tactical vehicle fleet.

Industry has shown high levels of interest in the upcoming electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle, a six-seat truck that is expected to be the first hybrid or fully electric vehicle the service fields.

By John Liang
September 2, 2021 at 2:56 PM

Boeing announced this week David Joyce has been elected to the company's board of directors, while former Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani will retire from the board at the end of 2021.

Joyce retired from General Electric as vice chair in 2020, where he also served as president and CEO of GE Aviation from 2008 to 2020, according to a Boeing statement. He worked at GE for more than 40 years.

Giambastiani joined the board in 2009 after retiring from the Navy as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 2019, he was appointed to serve as the chair of the board's committee on airplane policies and procedures, which was formed to review Boeing's company-wide policies and processes for airplane design and development.

"After an intensive five-month review, the committee recommended several actions that have been implemented to strengthen Boeing's safety practices and culture, including: creating a permanent Aerospace Safety Committee, which Admiral Giambastiani has chaired since its inception; establishing a Product and Services Safety Organization reporting to senior company leadership and the Aerospace Safety Committee; realigning Engineering teams into a unified organization under the Chief Engineer to further strengthen the Company's engineering function; establishing a formal Design Requirements program; enhancing the company's Continued Operation Safety Program; re-examining flight deck design and operation assumptions; and expanding the role and reach of the company's Safety Promotion Center," the statement reads.

By Aidan Quigley
September 2, 2021 at 2:54 PM

The Marine Corps will review its withdrawal from Afghanistan but not create a formal commission to investigate, a service spokesman told Inside Defense Thursday.

Maj. Eric Flanagan, a spokesman for Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, said there is no intent to create a formal commission to review the withdrawal.

Instead, Berger will follow the traditional service "hot wash" model of improve and sustain, Flanagan said. Berger has done similar reviews of other big events in the past, according to Flanagan.

The commandant "wants his headquarters staff to ensure we pause and take a look back at the recent events and critique what went well and what can improve," Flanagan said via email.

Berger said Wednesday that the service wanted to study what went right and wrong during the withdrawal and what the service can learn going forward.

In deciding the structure of that evaluation, Berger said the Marine Corps is looking at the Holloway Commission, which studied the failed 1980 effort to rescue hostages in Iran, and the Long Commission, which studied a 1983 terrorist attack at the Beirut International Airport.

"While it's relatively fresh in our minds, we need an open, honest critique, or a commission, or whatever it is that cracks open what are the options that were available, who made what decisions at what time," he said. "Not so we can penalize or hang somebody by a yardarm, but actually so we can learn."

By John Liang
September 2, 2021 at 1:57 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the defense budget topline, Army procurement spending and more.

The House Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill's topline will match the one passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this summer:

House panel lifts defense policy bill topline by $25B

The House Armed Services Committee voted 42-17 to authorize an additional $25 billion in total defense spending above the president's request for fiscal year 2022, aligning it with a version Senate lawmakers passed last month and setting the stage for congressional appropriators to possibly do the same when a final, bipartisan spending deal is hammered out in the coming months.

More on the House bill, which the committee passed early this morning:

New 'Buy American' provision added to defense policy bill

Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ) was successful in adding a "Buy American" amendment last night to the House Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill that would require the Pentagon to begin procuring more materials for major defense acquisition programs from domestic sources.

House panel boosts Army procurement budget

Several Army programs would see higher authorized funding under an amendment approved by the House Armed Services Committee that authorized a $25 billion increase in defense spending over the president's fiscal year 2022 budget request.

More Army news:

Army leaders discuss future force structure for artillery, air defense

Air defense and field artillery units will expand and shift to higher echelons as both become more prominent within military strategy, Army officials said Aug. 31 at the service's Fires Conference at Ft. Sill, OK.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian spoke this week at the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Showcase on Commerce:

Hicks: DOD will take 'meaningful action' to reduce barriers for small businesses

The Pentagon is working with the White House and Small Business Administration to streamline the process for small businesses to enter the federal contracting process, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said Wednesday.

Last but certainly not least, the latest from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

CMMC accreditation body clarifies details of approval process for assessment organizations

The accreditation body behind the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program has established new processes to speed the authorization of assessment organizations that want to become part of the CMMC ecosystem.

By Audrey Decker
September 2, 2021 at 11:05 AM

The Navy's last Zumwalt-class destroyer Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) recently conducted builder's trials.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and the Navy tested the ship's capability and readiness through at-sea and in-port demonstrations, according to the Navy.

The Johnson is the third and final Zumwalt-class ship to be added to the destroyer fleet.

The program fell behind on the delivery of the hull, mechanical and electrical delivery, which was initially scheduled for December 2020.

The Johnson will now complete combat systems installation and activation, according to the press release.

By Briana Reilly
September 2, 2021 at 10:19 AM

Nicolas Chaillan, the Air Force's chief software officer, announced today that he's resigning from the post he's held for the last two-and-a-half years.

First hired by the Defense Department in August 2018, Chaillan transitioned to the chief software role in the Air Force in May 2019, where he has helped lead the service's secure software development initiative, DevSecOps, and more recently, served as the Joint All-Domain Command and Control CSO for the Joint Staff's J-6.

Announcing his resignation in a LinkedIn post, Chaillan lamented the lack of funding and support for his work, writing "it is time" to move on.

"It seems clear to me that our leaders are not aligned with our vision in pursuing agility, the importance of DevSecOps, continuous delivering of capabilities, nor, most importantly, the need to fund teams, like Cloud One and Platform One, that are making things happen for the Department, and is a catalyst for change across the Government," he wrote.

He didn't comment on what his next role may be, saying he's planning on spending time with his family and enjoying "some deserved peaceful sleep knowing that our nation is more secure thanks to the work we did!"

The service's first chief software officer, Chaillan in a separate comment wrote that he proposed a replacement for his position to leadership, though he didn't name that individual.

By Tony Bertuca
September 2, 2021 at 9:01 AM

The House Armed Services Committee, after 16 hours of legislative debate, voted 57-2 to pass its version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill early this morning.

The committee considered 780 amendments, one of which would authorize $25 billion more for total defense spending than what the White House requested in April. The increase, which was passed 42-17, aligns the bill with one passed by Senate lawmakers in July.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) released a statement after the bill was passed.

"For the sixty-first consecutive year, the Armed Services Committee has fulfilled its critical responsibility and completed, on a bipartisan basis, a defense bill that will bolster our national security and provide for the common defense," he said. "This year the defense bill focuses on transforming [the Defense Department] to better deter our adversaries while taking advantage of new, innovative technologies and implementing more cost-effective approach to develop and acquire crucial platforms. The future of our defense depends on our committee's tough policy discussions about what DOD needs, how to fill these needs, and the necessary tradeoffs to ensure the United States maintains a competitive edge over its adversaries."

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the committee's ranking member, also released a statement applauding the bill's bipartisanship.

"We face threats from a rising China and a re-emerging Russia, and the Biden-Harris administration chose to propose a weak defense budget," he said. "I am pleased that the Armed Services Committee once again passed a National Defense Authorization Act out of the Committee this morning. We did so in a bipartisan manner, including voting together to address the shortfall in the Biden budget. I thank Chairman Smith and our Republican and Democrat colleagues for their hard work on this year's [National Defense Authorization Act] mark-up. I look forward to this bill moving to the floor and being signed into law."

Smith, referring to Rogers, said "democracy is not always easy."

"But having a willing counterpart in the legislative process is critical to ensuring our military has the essential resources they need to combat threats at home and abroad," he said. "As the NDAA now moves to the floor, I look forward to our continued partnership."

By Aidan Quigley
September 1, 2021 at 3:45 PM

The House Armed Services Committee passed amendments to its version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill that would push the Defense Department to provide Congress more information about the Navy's nuclear sea-launched cruise missile development efforts.

House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Turner (R-OH) proposed the amendments.

One amendment limits the availability of some funds for the defense secretary until DOD submits an analysis of alternatives for the nuclear SLCM, while the other limits funding for the Navy secretary until Congress receives more information about the Navy's recommendation to defund the nuclear SLCM.

Acting Navy Secretary Tom Harker issued a fiscal guidance in June that called for the service to stop funding the development of the nuclear SLCM.

The Trump administration restarted the program in 2018 after the Obama administration retired the nuclear-armed Tomahawk missiles. Some Democrat lawmakers moved to block the nuclear SLCM development as Republican lawmakers have pushed to fund the program.

Turner’s amendment withholds 25% of the Navy secretary’s travel funding until the service submits “all written communications by personnel of the Department of Defense regarding the proposed budget amount or limitation for the nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile contained in the defense budget materials” to the congressional defense committees.

The other amendment blocks 25% of the travel for Office of the Secretary of Defense personnel other than the defense secretary and deputy defense secretary until DOD provides the congressional defense committees the analysis of alternatives for the nuclear SLCM and a briefing on that document.

By Aidan Quigley
September 1, 2021 at 2:59 PM

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said Wednesday the Marine Corps is planning to establish a commission to examine the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The U.S. wrapped up its 20-year war in Afghanistan earlier this week, following a suicide bombing by the Islamic State Khorasan at Kabul’s airport that killed around 170 civilians and 13 U.S. service members last week. The Taliban quickly took over the country this summer as the U.S. prepared to leave.

Berger, speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event, said the Marine Corps wants to study what went right and wrong during the withdrawal and what the service can learn going forward.

“While it’s relatively fresh in our minds, we need an open, honest critique, or a commission, or whatever it is that cracks open what are the options that were available, who made what decisions at what time,” he said. “Not so we can penalize or hang somebody by a yardarm, but actually so we can learn."

Berger said in deciding the structure of the commission, the Marine Corps is looking at the Holloway Commission, which studied the failed 1980 effort to rescue hostages in Iran, and the Long Commission, which studied a 1983 terrorist attack at the Beirut International Airport.

Berger said the past 10 days have not changed his assessment that the Marine Corps’ service in Afghanistan was “worth it.”

“Is it worth it? Yes,” he said. “Were there decisions that were made that we ought to go back and scrub? Absolutely yes."

The commission should review what options the service had, Berger said.

“How did this surprise us, that in the span of 11 days, it so fundamentally changed?” he said. “So those are things, critically, as a government, as a military, we absolutely need to unpack."

By John Liang
September 1, 2021 at 2:28 PM

This Wednesday INSIDER Daily Digest has coverage of the House Armed Services Committee marking up next year's defense authorization bill and more.

We start off with coverage of the House Armed Services Committee's marking up the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill:

New legislative provisions mandate reports on hypersonic threats, upgrading hypersonic strike and re-alerting bomber force

House lawmakers have agreed to new legislative provisions that would require an accounting of the ability to detect hypersonic threats to the United States, direct the Navy to plan for future upgrades to its long-range hypersonic strike project and require the Air Force to prepare a cost estimate to re-alert nuclear-armed bombers.

House authorizers want new space AQ exec to leverage commercial services

The House Armed Services Committee is seeking to bar the Space Force's acquisition executive from establishing a program of record unless officials determine there are no commercial alternatives currently available, under an amendment lawmakers adopted today during the panel's marathon mark-up of the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill.

House authorizers seek Pentagon notice surrounding growth of Chinese nuclear stockpile

In the opening hour of the House Armed Service Committee's marathon defense policy bill mark-up, lawmakers signed off on an amendment that would direct officials to notify congressional defense panels if they determine China's nuclear stockpile outpaces that of the United States.

Document: House authorizers' FY-22 defense policy bill amendments

In case you missed it, the House Armed Services Committee's top Democrat spoke this week at a Brookings Institute event on the defense budget:

Smith defends Pentagon spending in advance of marathon mark-up

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smtih (D-WA) this week sounded like a lawmaker who knows the defense budget is going up, offering arguments against progressives in his own party who seek to cut Pentagon spending, rather than vocalizing his oft-stated opposition to GOP-backed efforts to boost the defense topline.

Our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity covered an industry event that featured former Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord:

Lord: CMMC needs to continue under new DOD leadership

Ellen Lord, former chief of the Pentagon's acquisition office, says the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program should move forward with a focus on incorporating improvements as it develops, while the Biden administration needs to help the effort by appointing her replacement.

By Jaspreet Gill
September 1, 2021 at 1:35 PM

The House Armed Services Committee today in its full mark-up of the fiscal year 2022 defense bill rejected a GOP-backed amendment that would require the Pentagon to hand over any materials related to its failed $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract.

The amendment, offered by Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), would have required the Defense Department inspector general to submit all documentation received in preparation for the final report on the JEDI cloud contract.

“This is a gigantic contract and the way this was handled from the beginning was riddled with all kinds of issues and if we dare not repeat this disaster with JEDI in the future, this committee deserves to know what happened along the way,” Banks said.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) opposed the amendment, saying it would only delay a new DOD enterprise cloud capability because politics would continue to slow down the contracting process.

“The one thing we do not need in the area of cloud computing is to further litigate past issues with the risk of further slowing down any progress and actually moving forward on the contract,” Smith said.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, is pursuing a new multivendor Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability in place of JEDI.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), chairman of the cyber, innovative technologies and information systems subcommittee, said Banks’ amendment “is less about fixing the issue moving forward and more about embarrassing key figures like [former Defense] Secretary [James] Mattis and his staff.”

Several Republican members of the committee backed Banks’ amendment, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who said the amendment asks for documents already in possession of the DOD IG and would not slow the contracting process. Gaetz also accused Smith of making a “pro-Amazon argument.”

“The mere fact that you take the Amazon shot sort of makes my point,” Smith said. “That’s what’s going to happen.”

By Aidan Quigley
September 1, 2021 at 11:10 AM

The Navy has issued New Hampshire-based Methuen Construction a $63 million contract for construction on the Dry Dock 2 complex at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as part of the service's ongoing Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program.

The project adds infrastructure to the shipyard’s existing Dry Dock 2, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command spokesman Bill Couch told Inside Defense in a statement.

“This project adds enclosures and other infrastructure to the existing Dry Dock 2 complex at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and will enhance the shipyard's ability to handle multiple Los Angeles-class and Virginia-class submarines,” Couch said.

Work on the project is expected to be completed by October 2023, according to the contract announcement. The contract has six unexercised options which can increase the contract’s cumulative value to $93.8 million.

The enclosure will “consist of two towers, storage areas, railcar access, multiple high and low bay work areas, three bridge cranes, movable roofs, access control and all associated heating, ventilation and air conditioning, mechanical, electrical, alarm, controls and communication systems,” according to the contract announcement.

The contract follows a $1.7 billion contract the Navy issued in August to 381 Constructors to build a multimission dry dock at the shipyard. That contract calls for a partitioned addition to the shipyard’s Dry Dock #1 which will consist of two bays, labeled Dry Dock #1 North and Dry Dock #1 West.

Both contracts are part of the Navy’s 20-year, $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program, the service’s effort to improve the nation’s four public shipyards. The Navy is planning to spend over $4 billion to improve its shipyards over the next five years, Adm. William Lescher, the vice chief of naval operations, said in June.

By Tony Bertuca
September 1, 2021 at 10:43 AM

The House Armed Services Committee has convened to finalize its version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill, a legislative debate that will consider more than 700 amendments and is expected to last well into the night and possibly tomorrow morning.

Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) has set a budgetary topline for the bill in line with President Biden’s request for $753 billion in total defense spending, but there is expected to be a bipartisan push to include an additional $25 billion, aligning the bill with one already passed by Senate authorizers.

Yesterday, Smith said he still supports Biden’s requested budget, but softened his earlier opposition to a GOP-backed effort to increase the topline.

"We just spent $6 trillion in the last year dealing with COVID and we've got proposals on the table to spend another, I think, almost $5 trillion on a variety of different other priorities," Smith said. "I don't support the argument [that says] . . . 'Oh my gosh, we can't spend another $25 billion because we have all these other priorities.' We've spent a lot of money on all those other priorities."

The committee is also expected to debate dozens of amendments related to Afghanistan.

Additionally, Smith said the bill will include provisions related to constraining the cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and an initiative to support an alternate engine competition.

Watch Inside Defense for further news throughout the day, and view the amendments as they become available.

By Aidan Quigley
August 31, 2021 at 4:13 PM

Reps. Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Anthony Brown (D-MD) have introduced a bill aimed at improving the safety of military tactical vehicles by authorizing the use of data recorders on Army and Marine Corps vehicles following a series of fatal mishaps.

Military leadership can use the data to develop performance criteria and measurable standards for driver training programs, Wittman and Brown said in a press release.

Wittman is the ranking member on the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee and Brown is a member of that subcommittee as well as the tactical air and land forces subcommittee.

A July Government Accountability Office report found 123 soldiers and Marines had died in Army and Marine Corps tactical vehicle accidents from 2010 to 2019.

The data recorders would allow the services to identify near-misses and potential hazards that could go undetected and establish a database to ensure consistent implementation of safety programs across the services, according to the press release.

House authorizers, in the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee's mark of the fiscal year 2022 defense bill, encouraged the Army to accelerate its addition of anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control to its humvee fleet.