The Insider

By Mallory Shelbourne
November 26, 2019 at 11:55 AM

The Navy yesterday announced a $403.3 million contract modification to Raytheon for the service's Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band program.

"This modification increases the scope of the contract to procure an additional seven System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA) shipsets, 60 SDTA pod subsystems, 27 pieces of peculiar support equipment, one fatigue test pod and one static test pod in support of the initial operational test and evaluation phase of the Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band Program," the contract announcement reads.

Raytheon is slated to finish the work by December 2022.

The Navy will field the Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band capability on the EA-18G Growler.

According to the Navy's fiscal year 2020 budget documents, the service expects the NGJ-MB to reach milestone C in the final quarter of FY-20, while initial operational capability is slated for the fourth quarter of FY-22.

The mid-band capability, previously referred to as the Next Generation Jammer Increment 1, "will address [Airborne Electronic Attack] capability and sufficiency gaps against enemy threats operating in the middle frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum," the budget documents read.

By Ashley Tressel
November 26, 2019 at 11:51 AM

The Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office will hold invitation-only industry days on Feb. 11 and 12 in Austin, TX, "to quickly target and acquire promising new technology," according to an industry notice.

"This event is modeled after commercial investor 'pitch' days and will evaluate disruptive, innovative approaches and technologies to address critical capabilities required by the Army," the notice posted Nov. 21 to the National Advanced Mobility Consortium's website states. "The RCCTO is focused on finding solutions that could be in the hands of soldiers within a one- to three-year time frame."

The Army created the RCCTO to head up new projects in line with the service's modernization priorities, including hypersonic weapons, directed energy and space -- the "most strategic, highest-priority projects," according to its director.

The Army is seeking white papers "for innovative technologies that accelerate attainment of critical technologies" to be accepted for the "Innovation Days" event. Submissions are due Dec. 6.

By Jaspreet Gill
November 25, 2019 at 3:16 PM

The Army last week announced the director of its new Enterprise Cloud Management Office in the office of the chief information officer/G-6.

Paul Puckett III will lead the ECMO toward a "unified vision and delivery of cloud services and resources to turn information into a global strategic asset of the United States Army," according to a Nov. 22 press release.

He comes from Pivotal Software, a cloud technology company and "possesses extensive experience in [information technology] and cybersecurity contract oversight, in addition to artificial intelligence and machine learning capability development."

In October, the Army's chief information officer/G-6 told reporters the service would name the ECMO as the central oversight office for all things cloud.

"Standing up the ECMO is one of the key fiscal year (FY) 2020 condition-setting tasks we've identified as a part of our FY20-FY22 Cloud and Data Migration Plan for the Army. Establishing an ECMO also removes existing Army Commands, Direct Reporting Units and Army Service Component Commands barriers to entry (lack of organic capacity to get started) for application and data owners," said Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford, Army CIO/G-6.

By Ashley Tressel
November 25, 2019 at 2:54 PM

The Senate has confirmed Maj. Gen. Daniel Karbler to be the new commanding general of Army Space and Missile Defense Command and to receive his third star, the service announced today.

Karbler, who is currently the special assistant to the commanding general of Army Materiel Command, will replace Lt. Gen. James Dickinson at SMDC.

Dickinson will become the first deputy commander for the newly activated U.S. Space Command, the service said.

Karbler also served as the chief of staff of U.S. Strategic Command, commanding general of Army Test and Evaluation Command and director of joint and integration for the office of the Army deputy chief of staff (G-8).

He will officially take over the command and be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on Dec. 6 in a ceremony at Redstone Arsenal, AL, according to an Army release.

By John Liang
November 25, 2019 at 2:12 PM

This Monday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the firing of the top Navy civilian, plus a GAO report on Navy shipyard improvement costs and more.

We start off with some big news that broke over the weekend on a major Navy leadership shakeup:

Trump taps Braithwaite as new Navy secretary

President Trump announced Sunday night his plans to nominate U.S. Ambassador to Norway Ken Braithwaite to replace outgoing Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.

Esper says he fired Spencer after learning of 'secret proposal' from White House official

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today he asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer after being told by a senior White House official that Spencer had a made a "secret proposal" to President Trump concerning how he would handle the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes.

The Government Accountability Office is questioning the Navy's shipyard improvement plan cost estimate:

GAO says Navy shipyard plan could cost 'billions' more than service estimate

The Navy's methods for estimating the initial costs of its $21 billion plan to improve the four public shipyards create risks that "together could add billions to the ultimate cost," according to a government watchdog.

Document: GAO report on naval shipyards

We now have more details behind GAO's decision to sustain Blue Origin's Launch Services Procurement protest:

GAO releases public version of Blue Origin LSP protest decision

The GAO has released a public version of its full decision to sustain Blue Origin's protest of the Air Force's Launch Services Procurement effort, expanding on its conclusion that the solicitation does not comply with federal acquisition regulations.

Document: GAO decision on Blue Origin's launch services protest

In case you missed it, a senior Marine Corps officer spoke last week about the effects of a continuing resolution on his service:

Marine Corps general: 'Normalization' of CR creates risk

A Marine Corps general who serves as an adviser to the commandant expressed concern last week over the "normalization" of using stopgap continuing resolutions to fund the government.

Also in case you missed it, the Army's Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical had a meeting last week to discuss Capability Set 23, which is focused on increasing resiliency and capacity of the network through satellite communication:

Army outlines plans for second tactical network 'capability set'

The Army recently outlined its plans to develop and field the next tactical network capability set during a two-day industry event in Austin, TX.

By Tony Bertuca
November 25, 2019 at 1:05 PM

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today he asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer after being told by a senior White House official that Spencer had a made a "secret proposal" to President Trump concerning how he would handle the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes.

Esper told reporters at the Pentagon the White House official, whom he declined to name, told him Friday of a deal Spencer was trying to strike with Trump, whereby the Navy secretary would personally ensure that Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher would be restored to rank and retain his Trident insignia in retirement as long as the president did not intervene with a Navy review board set to decide the matter.

"I lost trust and confidence when I found that this secret proposal was happening," Esper said.

The story, however, is at odds with statements Spencer has made.

Esper said Spencer on Thursday privately "indicated he was probably going to resign" if Trump intervened in Gallagher's case. Gallagher was acquitted of murder charges in July, but convicted of posting with the corpse of an Islamic State prisoner.

Spencer, however, over the weekend denied media reports that he was threatening to resign over the matter.

"I had every reason to believe that he was going to resign, that it was a threat to resign," Esper said today.

But in a Sunday letter acknowledging his termination by Esper, Spencer said he could not "in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Esper said senior DOD leaders had agreed in private to "let the process play out" in terms of Gallagher's review and went to advise the White House of their position, while recognizing that Trump has the constitutional authority to override their recommendations.

That's why Esper said he was "flabbergasted" when he learned of Spencer’s private proposal to the president.

"I cannot reconcile the personal statements, with the public statements with the written word," Esper said. "And that's why I lost trust and confidence."

Meanwhile, Esper said Trump on Sunday ordered him to circumvent the Navy review board anyway and allow Gallagher to retire with restored rank and his Trident.

"I can control what I can control," Esper said. "I'm the secretary of defense responsible for the department. My view is we will follow our processes. That is what we agreed to."

But Esper said he recognizes the president's authority supersedes his. He also said the case -- now a matter of considerable public attention and political angst -- should not be "thrown in the laps" of a Navy review board.

"If folks want to criticize anyone at this point about reaching down into the administrative processes, then simply blame me," he said. "I'm responsible at this point, it's not where I'd prefer to be, but I'll own it."

When asked what message U.S. troops should take away from the situation now that Gallagher's case will not go before a Navy review board, Esper said: "That the president is the commander-in-chief."

By Marjorie Censer
November 25, 2019 at 12:13 PM

The Pentagon is supporting a Government Accountability Office recommendation that it evaluate risks created by contractor ownership as part of its department-wide fraud risk assessment, according to a new report.

In the November report, GAO writes that the scale of the Defense Department's contracting makes "DOD procurement inherently susceptible to fraud."

But assessing the risks related to contractor ownership would help it determine whether certain procurements are more vulnerable, the report adds.

"We recognize that collecting additional ownership information, including beneficial-ownership information, could pose compliance burdens for contractors; and regulatory trends have generally focused on easing the burden to do business. Additionally, verifying contractor ownership can be challenging and time-consuming," the document continues. "Nevertheless, having a thorough assessment of contractor-ownership risks will better position DOD to make informed decisions on how best to use its resources and help ensure that the department's fraud risk management program is organized and targeted to manage risks in a prioritized manner."

GAO notes that DOD, responding to a draft of GAO's report, "concurred with our recommendation and provided additional written comments outlining current and planned efforts in response to our recommendation."

"These written comments were deemed sensitive by DOD and have been omitted from this report," GAO adds.

By Justin Katz
November 25, 2019 at 11:53 AM

The Navy late last month continued implementing a host of structural changes to its acquisition directorates, according to a memorandum obtained by Inside Defense.

The service in October established a new senior civilian for sustainment and divided the responsibilities of the deputy secretary of the Navy for expeditionary and logistics management among several offices, Inside Defense reported at the time. Those changes were documented in a September memo.

Jay Stefany, who recently became the Navy acquisition executive’s civilian deputy, said in an Oct. 30 memo the senior civilian for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence and space is being renamed to "DASN Information Warfare and Enterprise Services."

The DASN responsible for acquisition and procurement will now be called "DASN Procurement to align its primary mission to contracting policies," according to the document.

"Acquisition policy functions are being consolidated under DASN Management and Budget which is being retitled DASN Acquisition Policy and Budget," the memo said.

Lastly, the director for acquisition career management will be renamed to director for acquisition talent management.

William Bray, the senior civilian in charge of the Navy's research and development, told Inside Defense last week the purpose of the structural changes is to give Navy acquisition executive Hondo Geurts a "holistic view" of the service's acquisition enterprise.

By Justin Doubleday
November 25, 2019 at 11:48 AM

Amazon Web Services is highlighting comments made by President Trump about Amazon and its chief executive Jeff Bezos in new exhibits filed alongside its formal bid protest of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud services contract.

Amazon’s formal complaint filed in the Court of Federal Claims on Friday is under seal, but in a related notice, the company points to four videos to supplement its case challenging the Pentagon's decision to award the JEDI contract to Microsoft Azure last month. The potential 10-year, $10 billion JEDI contract is intended to fulfill the Defense Department's requirement for a "general-purpose" cloud computing service.

The first video referenced by Amazon's lawsuit points to Trump’s remarks during a February 2016 campaign rally in Fort Worth, TX. During that event, Trump railed about "the media being among the most dishonest groups of people I’ve ever met" before specifically focusing on Bezos and Amazon.

"I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought The Washington Post to have political influence and I got to tell you, we have a different country than we used to have," Trump said. "He owns Amazon. He wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it. That's not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They're going to have such problems."

The second video referenced by Amazon centers on more recent comments made by Trump this past July. During a July 18 meeting at the White House with the prime minister of the Netherlands, Trump was asked about the JEDI contract. At that time, a federal judge had just rejected Oracle America's lawsuit against the JEDI contract, allowing the Pentagon to move forward with the award to the recently narrowed field of either Amazon or Microsoft.

"I'm getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon," Trump said. "They're saying it wasn't competitively bid. This is going on for a long time, I guess probably before this administration, and we're looking at it very seriously."

"I will be asking them to look at it very closely to see what's going on, because I have had very few things where there's been such complaining," he added. "Not only complaining from the media or at least asking questions about it, but complaining from different companies, like Microsoft and Oracle and IBM."

Just weeks after those comments, newly minted Defense Secretary Mark Esper launched a review of the JEDI program, although he said he wasn't pressured by Trump or the White House to do so. The review delayed the award, and Esper then recused himself from any JEDI decisions due to his son's employment with IBM.

On Oct. 25, the Pentagon announced Microsoft as the surprise winner of the JEDI contract.

The third video highlighted by Amazon's lawsuit references DOD Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy's remarks during his Oct. 29 Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing. Deasy faced questions about the recently awarded contract and the president's potential involvement.

"Can you categorically assure us that there was no influence by the White House or the president on the ultimate disposition of this contract?" Sen. Angus King (I-ME) asked.

"The way we organized the team kept the anonymity of the team, the compartmentalization of the team, that I feel very confident that at no time were team members who actually took the source selection were influenced by anyone external, including the White House," Deasy responded.

The fourth video submitted by Amazon as part of its case points to a July 21 Fox News segment called "Swamp Watch." The five-minute video features Fox News host Steve Hilton discussing the JEDI contract, referring to it as the "Bezos bailout" and highlighting, among other criticisms, Oracle's allegations that DOD employees tailored the JEDI award for Amazon before leaving the department to join the company.

"It's not just appropriate but vital that the president kills this contract," Hilton said.

By Justin Katz
November 25, 2019 at 9:47 AM

The Pentagon last month requested congressional approval to shift approximately $40 million to "correct deficiencies" found on the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford (CVN-78).

"Remaining work includes Advanced Weapons Elevator work, additional labor to address and correct technical issues [and] completing deferred work," according to an Oct. 7 document signed by acting Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker.

If approved by lawmakers, the available funding would come from money originally designated to deliver two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers as well as complete an extended maintenance availability on a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. The reprogramming document indicated that work was finished and the date the funding could be obligated had passed.

Separately, language in the fiscal year 2020 defense policy bill aims to repeal the cost cap for the Navy's latest aircraft carrier.

"Our rationale behind that is they've done absolutely nothing to contain cost over the years. As you know, CVN-78 had multiple cost overruns," a House Armed Services Committee staffer told reporters in June.

"We raised the cost cap on that I believe three times throughout the length. All it has done is driven inefficiencies within the Navy," the staffer continued.

The defense policy and spending bills have been stalled for several months as Congress works through several issues with the White House. A second continuing resolution was passed last week and expires Dec. 20.

By Marjorie Censer
November 25, 2019 at 9:15 AM

The Defense Department is planning a Dec. 20 public meeting on amending defense acquisition regulations related to technical data and computer software, according to a Federal Register notice.

The notice, published today, says the department is seeking the “views of experts and interested parties in government and the private sector.”

The Pentagon says in the notice that it is considering statutory amendments as well as recommendations from the Government-Industry Advisory Panel on Technical Data Rights, also known as the Section 813 panel.

“To facilitate discussion at the public meeting, DOD anticipates publication of advance notices of proposed rulemaking, which will include initial drafts of the [Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement] amendments, prior to the public meetings,” the notice adds. “This approach is based in part on a recommendation of the Section 813 Panel to invite industry to participate in the drafting of rules concerning technical data rights.”

Specifically, the Pentagon would like to discuss a DFARS case on negotiation of price for technical data and preference for specially negotiated licenses.

“After this meeting, DOD anticipates scheduling and hosting additional public meetings, structured in the same manner and for the same overall objective” about several other DFARS cases, including ones on continuation of technical data rights during challenges, noncommercial computer software and proprietary data restrictions, among other cases.

Registration is due by Dec. 13.

By Tony Bertuca
November 25, 2019 at 5:00 AM

Congress is out this week and there are few scheduled events because of the Thanksgiving holiday.


Will Roper, the Air Force acquisition chief, is scheduled to speak at the Center for a New American Security.


Thanksgiving Day.

By John Liang
November 24, 2019 at 6:14 PM

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has requested Navy Secretary Richard Spencer's resignation, the Pentagon announced late this afternoon.

According to a statement released by Defense Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman:

Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper has asked for the resignation of Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer after losing trust and confidence in him regarding his lack of candor over conversations with the White House involving the handling of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher.

After Secretary Esper and [Joint Chiefs of Staff] Chairman [Gen. Mark] Milley spoke with the Commander in Chief on Friday regarding the case of Gallagher, Secretary Esper learned that Secretary Spencer had previously and privately proposed to the White House -- contrary to Spencer's public position -- to restore Gallagher's rank and allow him to retire with his Trident pin. When recently asked by Secretary Esper, Secretary Spencer confirmed that despite multiple conversations on the Gallagher matter, Secretary Esper was never informed by Secretary Spencer of his private proposal.

Secretary Esper's position with regard to [the Uniform Code of Military Justice], disciplinary, and fitness for duty actions has always been that the process should be allowed to play itself out objectively and deliberately, in fairness to all parties. However, at this point, given the events of the last few days, Secretary Esper has directed that Gallagher retain his Trident pin. Secretary Esper will meet with Navy Under Secretary (now Acting Secretary) Thomas Modley and the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday on Monday morning to discuss the way ahead.

"I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official." said Secretary Esper. "Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position. I wish Richard well."

Secretary Esper has proposed to the President that Ambassador Kenneth Braithwaite, current U.S. Ambassador to Norway and a retired Navy Rear Admiral, be considered as the next Secretary of the Navy."

By Mallory Shelbourne
November 22, 2019 at 4:27 PM

The Navy yesterday announced the winners of four prize challenges for the Marine Air Ground Task Force Unmanned Expeditionary program.

Boeing, BAE Systems, L3 Harris Technologies and Telephonics Corp. each took first place finishes for design concepts of four different mission payloads.

"A team from the Multi-Mission Tactical UAS program office (PMA-266) coordinated these four mission payload prize challenges, each totaling $1 million, to obtain information, performance capabilities, and technical data on mission system payload technologies that will inform the development and acquisition strategy for the MUX program, the Marines' future ship-based UAS," Naval Air Systems Command said in a press release.

While Boeing won first place for the data relay payload design concept, BAE Systems took first place for the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance concept. Telephonics took first place for its design concept of an airborne early warning mission payload and L3 Harris Technologies came in first place for the electronic warfare payload.

The prize for each first-place winner was $700,000, while second-and third-place winners each collected $200,000 and $100,000, respectively.

Piasecki Aircraft Corp. took second place for the airborne early warning mission payload, while Bell Textron and Sierra Nevada Corp. together won third place. Piasecki Aircraft Corp. also came in second for the ISR mission payload and General Atomics came in third.

For the data relay mission payload, Northrop Grumman took second place, while Cubic Defense Applications Inc. came in third. General Atomics took second place for the electronic warfare payload, with Piasecki Aircraft Corp. coming in third.

The Navy has described the four mission payload prizes as part of the initial phase of its development of MUX, a group 5 unmanned aerial system that can take off and land vertically from amphibious ships. The first phase is also slated to include two additional prize challenges for designs of system architecture and a payload adapter.

The second phase will include a prize challenge for "air vehicle designs that, at the discretion of the Government," would use payloads from the first phase, according to a prior Navy solicitation.

By John Liang
November 22, 2019 at 3:44 PM

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) are worried about the future of the Open Skies Treaty and whether the Trump administration plans to withdraw from the pact.

"We write to express our concerns regarding the future of the Open Skies Treaty, which plays an important role in advancing Euro-Atlantic security," Smith and Engel write in a letter sent today to national security adviser Robert O'Brien. "Given the importance of the Treaty, which is a key element of the existing arms control framework that allows the U.S. and our allies to monitor Russia's military maneuvers, we are again bringing this matter to your attention and seeking clarity regarding the administration's intentions."

Specifically, the two congressmen write of their concern related to reports indicating that the Defense and State departments have been ordered by the White House not to discuss the Open Skies Treaty with Congress.

"This stonewalling only serves to undermine collaboration between the executive and legislative branches of our government on matters of national security," their letter states.

Read the full letter.