The Insider

February 7, 2018 at 10:30 AM | Tony Bertuca

The House voted 245-182 Tuesday night to pass a six-week continuing resolution to avert a Thursday shutdown, though the bill is sure to be blocked by Democrats in the Senate, who have been working with their GOP counterparts on a bipartisan spending agreement.

House Democrats, meanwhile, will no longer hold their party retreat this week in Cambridge, MD, opting instead to remain in Washington in the event the Senate sends them a bill before the shutdown deadline.

The House CR, though it provides full fiscal year 2018 funding for the military, only funds the rest of the federal government until March 23.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters yesterday he and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were close to a final budget deal.

"I think we're on the way to getting an agreement and on the way to getting an agreement very soon," McConnell said during a weekly press briefing.

February 6, 2018 at 3:42 PM | Tony Bertuca

Senate leaders from both parties said today they are within reach of a bipartisan budget agreement that would avert a government shutdown Thursday and provide increases for defense and non-defense spending.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters a recent meeting with Democratic counterpart Sen. Chuck Schumer (NY) went well.

"I think we're on the way to getting an agreement and on the way to getting an agreement very soon," McConnell said during a weekly press briefing.

Schumer, during his weekly press briefing, was similarly optimistic, but said a few outstanding disagreements remain.

"We are really making good progress," he said. "I'm very hopeful that we can come to an agreement very soon."

Questions remain as to whether Senate Democrats will continue to insist that any deal provide "parity" between increases in defense and non-defense spending above the caps mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

"We Democrats have always stood for parity, and we are making very, very good progress in achieving parity," Schumer said.

Though the Senate debate over immigration policy was blamed for last month's three-day government shutdown, Schumer and McConnell say it is not part of current spending negotiations and will be postponed until week.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), however, has been vocal about Democrats' opposition to spending deals that lack parity and do not provide a path to citizenship for individuals covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

Schumer said he and Pelosi continue to work closely on ensuring Democrats' top priorities will be reflected in any spending agreement, even if DACA is not included.

"I think we're working from the same page," he said. "The things that we've asked for in terms of domestic priorities are very important to House members as well as Senate members."

Meanwhile, the House is scheduled to vote today on a stopgap continuing resolution that would provide full funding for defense, but punt funding for the rest of the government to March 23. The measure is likely to fail in the Senate, where Democrats have the votes to block it.

Schumer said opposition to the House CR legislation is based on Democrats' belief that domestic priorities should be addressed along with defense.

"We support an increase in funding for our military and an increase in funding for middle class programs," he said. "The two don't conflict with each other. The sequester caps have arbitrarily imposed austerity on both sides of the ledger -- defense and non-defense."

It remains unclear how the House would vote on any deal the Senate might reach this week, but House Democrats, scheduled to leave Washington tomorrow to attend a retreat in Cambridge, MD, would likely have to return to consider the legislation before the shutdown deadline Thursday at midnight.

February 6, 2018 at 2:15 PM | John Liang

The SECDEF's visit to Capitol Hill, a new commercial industry item regulation and more highlight this Tuesday INSIDER Daily Digest.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva are on Capitol Hill today:

Mattis previews new FY-19 tech investments to cover China, Russia

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis today told lawmakers the Pentagon's upcoming fiscal year 2019 budget request will make new investments in emerging technology areas necessary to address threats from China and Russia.

Document: Senior DOD officials' testimony on National Defense Strategy, Nuclear Posture Review

The Pentagon late last month published a new rule that incorporates provisions from defense authorization legislation from fiscal years 2013, 2016 and 2018:

Industry backs new rule on commercial item determinations

Industry groups are supporting a new rule intended to make commercial item determinations more consistent and bolster opportunities for nontraditional contractors.

Defense Business Briefing

Want defense business news delivered straight to your inbox?

Inside Defense's free weekly feature, the Defense Business Briefing, offers the latest in defense industry news.

Read it and sign up today →

The Navy's P-8A Poseidon fleet is getting a bunch of new mission sets:

Navy broadens concept of operations for multibillion-dollar P-8A fleet

The Navy is broadening the mission set of the P-8A Poseidon fleet to include anti-surface warfare, disaster response, search and rescue and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

A new Defense Department inspector general's report looks at Navy IDIQ contracts:

DOD IG: Navy contracting personnel failed to properly report justifications for 14 contracts

Navy contracting officials failed to properly provide required documentation justifying their use of more than a dozen single-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts, according to a Pentagon watchdog agency.

Document: DOD IG report on the Navy's single-award IDIQ contracts

Army Training and Doctrine Command will team with the Air Force's Air Combat Command to conduct a trio of exercises from March through July aimed at refining their joint operational concept:

Joint exercises to inform Multi-Domain Battle concept update

The Army and Air Force are mounting a collaborative effort to enhance their ability to fight in an increasingly complex operational environment.

February 6, 2018 at 1:11 PM | Justin Doubleday

The Joint Staff is leading the Defense Department's modernization priorities under a new National Defense Strategy that homes in on countering China and Russia, according to Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan.

"Prioritization of force development and force design is really going to be driven from the Joint Staff more-so this year," Shanahan said during a keynote address delivered today at the annual AFCEA West conference in San Diego, CA.

Additionally, "there's a forced march on what are we not going to do?" Shanahan said. "That's the elephant in the room, but that's the discipline and the commitment we're focused on."

DOD is particularly focused on integrating the military services' equipment plans to prioritize new capabilities and achieve "joint effects," according to Shanahan.

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said last week the Pentagon now views Russia and China as "global" problems, rather than regional issues. The Joint Staff will develop a "global campaign plan" for each country, Selva said during a Jan. 30 Defense Writers Group breakfast.

"We'll have those two major plans, which will be in tension with one another, and that will help define the capabilities and capacities that need to be built inside the forces," he said. "Here's why they're in competition with one another: They're not the same."

Shanahan said Tuesday he wants to create such "tension" in high-level Pentagon meetings about what capabilities DOD should invest in and what should be left by the wayside.

"People have wanted to have that debate and dialogue," he added.

The deputy said he expects DOD will do "some heavy lifting" with its modernization priorities as part of the program objective memorandum for fiscal year 2020.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was on Capitol Hill this morning, where he highlighted the investments DOD plans to make in its FY-19 budget request. The Pentagon, along with the rest of the federal government, is expected to submit its FY-19 budget Feb. 12.

"Next week you will see our FY-19 budget investments in the following: space and cyber, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and professional military education to provide our high-quality troops what they need to win," Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee. "We will prioritize rebuilding readiness while modernizing our existing force."

February 6, 2018 at 11:48 AM | Lee Hudson

More than a year after Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller called for every infantry squad to be outfitted with an unmanned quadcopter, his goal is taking shape.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, said today the service began delivering quadcopters Jan. 31.

The Marine Corps is providing about 200 quadcopters per month, Walsh told reporters on the sidelines of an Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference. Concurrently, the service is developing a training and readiness syllabus for the platform, he added.

"We have a working group right now -- it's go fast, don't solve all of the problems, get them out there to them," Walsh said. "That's what the commandant demanded."

The working group is tackling problems such as where to store the quadcopters and who will perform training.

The decision to rapidly field quadcopters emerged from the first phase of Sea Dragon 2025, which wrapped up last year. Walsh said the commandant made 30 to 40 decisions as a result of the outbrief.

The first phase was focused on equipping the fifth-generation Marine Corps infantry squad. The commandant still has not determined how infantry squads should be configured.

"They wanted an assistant to the squad leader. That became clear very early," Walsh said. "We haven't made a decision on that, but I think we will make one soon."

The assistant squad leader will mostly likely be the best fire team member in the unit, he said. There is another faction within the service that is pushing for an "infantry systems manager" in addition to an assistant squad leader. The infantry systems manager could be the most tech-savvy member of the infantry squad or it could be a Marine with a communications specialty.

February 6, 2018 at 10:18 AM | Marjorie Censer

Forcepoint, Raytheon's cybersecurity business, said today it has named Eric Trexler vice president of sales for its global governments and critical infrastructure business.

Trexler joins from McAfee, where he was the executive director for civilian and national security programs. He has also worked at Salesforce.com, EMC and Sybase.

February 6, 2018 at 9:46 AM | Tony Bertuca

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis lashed out at Congress today for failing to provide fiscal year 2018 funding for the Defense Department in the face of ongoing military engagements in the Middle East and rising threats from Russia and China.

"To advance the security of our nation, these troops are putting themselves in harm's way, in effect signing a blank check payable to the American people with their lives," he told the House Armed Services Committee in his prepared remarks.

"They do so despite Congress' abrogation of its constitutional responsibility to provide stable funding," he continued. "Our military has been operating under debilitating continuing resolutions for more than 1,000 days during the past decade. These men and women hold the line for America while lacking this most fundamental congressional support, a predictable budget."

Mattis also said the ongoing fiscal gridlock on Capitol Hill was preventing him from making necessary investments in critical technologies.

"Congress mandated this National Defense Strategy -- the first one in a decade -- then shut down the government the day of its release," he said. "Today, we are again operating under a disruptive continuing resolution. It is not lost on me that as I testify before you this morning, we are again on the verge of a government shutdown or, at best, another damaging continuing resolution. I regret that without sustained, predictable appropriations, my presence here today wastes your time, because no strategy can survive without the funding necessary to resource it."

Meanwhile, the House is scheduled to vote today on a stopgap continuing resolution to provide full FY-18 funding for defense and extend funding for the rest of the government until March 23. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Democrats have pledged to block any spending bill that does not provide equal lift for defense and non-defense above the caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

Mattis warned lawmakers that should they "stumble into" a yearlong CR, the Pentagon would be irreversibly harmed.

The military, he said, will not be able to: provide pay for U.S. troops by the end of the fiscal year, recruit the 15,000 Army soldiers and 4,000 Air Force airmen required to fill critical manning shortfalls and maintain ships at sea with the proper balance between operations and time in port for maintenance.

Additionally, a yearlong CR would also ground aircraft due to a lack of maintenance and spare parts, deplete ammunition, training, and manpower required to deter war and delay contracts for "vital" modernization programs.

"I cannot overstate the impact to our troops' morale from all this uncertainty," he said. "We need Congress back in the driver's seat, not in the spectator's seat of the Budget Control Act's indiscriminate and automatic cuts."

February 5, 2018 at 10:04 PM | Tony Bertuca

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) has introduced a stopgap continuing resolution that provides full for funding for defense and extends funding for the rest of the federal government until March 23.

"This CR will allow for additional time for a deal to be reached on topline spending levels for this fiscal year," Frelinghuysen said in a statement. "Once this agreement is made, my committee will rapidly go to work with the Senate to complete the final legislation."

The current CR expires Feb. 8. 

Meanwhile, Democrats assert they will vote against any spending measure for defense unless it is accompanied by similar funding for non-defense priorities.

The House Freedom Caucus issued a tweet saying they intended to back the CR because it included full funding for defense. 

February 5, 2018 at 5:03 PM | Courtney McBride

The Army on Feb. 1 delivered its tactical network modernization strategy to the House and Senate Armed Services committees, complying with a provision of the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

Inside Defense obtained a copy of the document, which details the service's plans to streamline its network, strengthen it against cyber and electronic warfare threats, and render it easier to use.

The story, which was made available to subscribers last week, is now free here.

February 5, 2018 at 5:00 PM | Justin Doubleday

The State Department has cleared Finland to buy Harpoon anti-ship missiles and defensive Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced today.

The Harpoon sale could be worth as much as $622 million and would include 100 Block II Plus Extended Range (ER) missiles, 12 Block II missiles, 12 Block II Plus ER upgrade kits and eight exercise weapons, according to DSCA. Finland plans to use the missiles on its Hamina-class ships, Multi-role Corvette ships and coastal batteries.

"The missiles will provide enhanced capabilities in effective defense of critical sea lanes," DSCA said. "The proposed sale of the missiles and support will increase the Finnish Navy's maritime partnership potential and increase regional security capability."

Boeing manufactures Harpoon missiles in St. Louis. The potential sale would be the first time Finland purchases the Block II Plus ER variant of the missile.

Boeing has developed the Block II Plus ER variant for use on U.S. Navy aircraft. The company was planning to offer the Navy a ship-launched version of the weapon for the over-the-horizon missile program, but the company dropped out of the competition after saying the service's requirements were too modest, Inside Defense reported in May.

The potential ESSM sale to Finland, meanwhile, would involve 68 missiles at a cost of $112.7 million, according to a separate DSCA announcement. Finland would use the ESSMs, which defend against anti-ship missiles, on its new Squadron 2020-class Corvettes, DSCA notes.

The potential sale would be Finland's first time purchasing ESSMs.

"The missiles will provide enhanced capabilities in effective defense of critical sea lanes and improve Finland's capability to meet current and future threats of enemy anti-ship weapons," DSCA said.

Raytheon manufactures Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, while BAE Systems makes the missile canisters.

February 5, 2018 at 2:13 PM | John Liang

The Nuclear Posture Review, defense business news from Engility and General Atomics are among the highlights in this Monday's INSIDER Daily Digest.

The Defense Department released its latest Nuclear Posture Review late last week. Our coverage so far:

DOD's new nuclear strategy lowers yield on SLBMs, re-establishes sea-launched cruise missile

In its new Nuclear Posture Review, released today, the Pentagon calls for lowering the yield of some existing submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads and reinstating the sea-launched cruise missile program to address threats posed by Russia and China.

NPR calls for rapid development of nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile

The Nuclear Posture Review calls for the rapid development of a new nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile program leveraging "existing technology," as part of the Trump administration's bid to coerce Russia back into compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty.

Defense business news from Engility and General Atomics:

After refocusing on growth, Engility seeks to differentiate itself

Nearly two years into her tenure as chief executive, Lynn Dugle is seeking new ways to differentiate Engility, looking to product toolkits to help the contractor stand out in competitive areas.

General Atomics receives additional funds for common Reaper software

General Atomics has received $49.3 million to develop common MQ-9 Reaper software under an open agreement that facilitates upgrades to the remotely piloted aircraft, according to a Defense Department contract announcement.

Defense Business Briefing

Want defense business news delivered straight to your inbox?

Inside Defense's free weekly feature, the Defense Business Briefing, offers the latest in defense industry news.

Read it and sign up today →

The latest DOT&E report notes that the AAV SU troop compartment was a tight space compared to the legacy AAV and the troop commander could not egress:

Marines modify amphib vehicle design to support troop commander egress

The Marine Corps has modified the interior layout of the Assault Amphibious Vehicle Survivability Upgrade so that a troop commander can easily exit the vehicle through the ramp in the back, according to the service.

Check out Inside Defense's full DOT&E report coverage →

Under a new contract, General Atomics will develop, field and sustain a common operational flight program that can be used by both Air Force Special Operations Command and Air Combat Command:

Top Army programmer warns of CR impacts on GMLRS, Hellfire stockpiles

Munitions are the Army priority most affected by the lack of a fiscal year 2018 appropriation for defense, according to the service's deputy chief of staff (G-8).

February 5, 2018 at 12:13 PM | John Liang

The Pentagon's updated Nuclear Posture Review includes steps for strengthening the military's cyber defenses, as President Trump is calling for an increase in spending to modernize the nation's nuclear arsenal, Inside Cybersecurity reports:

"The emergence of offensive cyber warfare capabilities has created new challenges and potential vulnerabilities" for the nuclear command, control and communications system, with potential adversaries "expending considerable effort to design and use cyber weapons against networked systems," according to the posture review released Friday.

The revised strategy cites emerging threats such as cyber attacks while singling out Russia, China and North Korea as potential bad actors.

"The United States will protect NC3 components against current and future cyber threats and ensure the continuing availability of U.S.-produced information technology necessary for the NC3 system," according to the document which is expected to guide the Pentagon's spending decisions.

"There now exists an unprecedented range and mix of threats, including major conventional, chemical, biological, nuclear, space, and cyber threats, and violent non-state actors," the review says. "These developments have produced increased uncertainty and risk."

Russia, China and North Korea are "engaged in increasingly aggressive behavior in outer space and cyber space" and the new strategy responds to "a rapidly shifting environment with significant future uncertainty."

Check out Inside Defense's coverage so far of the Nuclear Posture Review:

DOD's new nuclear strategy lowers yield on SLBMs, re-establishes sea-launched cruise missile

NPR calls for rapid development of nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile

February 5, 2018 at 11:58 AM | Lee Hudson

All of the Navy's operational T-45C Goshawk training aircraft have now been equipped with a new oxygen-level monitoring system, according to a Navy spokesman.

Additionally, T-45s at depots are in the process of having them installed before they fly, he added.

Rear Adm. Sara Joyner, physiological episode action team lead at the Pentagon, told reporters in October that 65 percent of T-45Cs had received the new oxygen measuring device, known as the CRU-123, and had been cleared to fly.

"What the CRU-123 does for us is it tells us . . . the percent of oxygen and flow going through the system," Joyner said.

In June, the Navy released a comprehensive review of physiological episodes after pilots reported several instances of hypoxia. The service established a Physiological Episode Rapid Response Team to create consistency in the Navy's approach to the problem.

In the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed the Navy to conduct an independent review of physiological episodes dating back to January 2009. The service tapped the NASA Engineering and Safety Center to assess the Navy's physiological episode review effort, factors that may reduce the physiological episode rate and the performance of relevant aircraft subsystems.

According to the report, released in December, the Navy's investigative approach did not rely on a single leader to coordinate and prioritize the efforts, resulting in "organizational stove-piping and the exclusion of key stakeholders." The assessment noted F/A-18 manufacturer Boeing "was not fully involved in investigation efforts until recently."

The House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee will hold a hearing tomorrow on addressing physiological episodes in attack, fighter and training aircraft.

February 5, 2018 at 11:04 AM | Justin Katz

Leidos said today it will team with IBM, Unisys and Verizon Enterprise Solutions to compete for a part of the Navy's Next Generation Enterprise Network re-compete contract.

The team will pursue NGEN-R's service management, integration and transport program contract, according to a Leidos statement. That award is anticipated in December, Inside the Navy reported last year.

The NGEN contract provides the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet, which spans 2,500 locations and 700,000 users.

Separately, NGEN-R is slated to award an end-user hardware contract in November.

Meanwhile, DXC, the incumbent on the current NGEN contract, announced last week AT&T will join its team as it pursues NGEN-R. 

February 5, 2018 at 10:37 AM | Marjorie Censer

PAE announced late last week it has acquired Macfadden & Associates, which works on U.S. Agency for International Development humanitarian and disaster relief programs.

Macfadden, which has about 300 employees, mostly in the Washington, DC area, also maintains government financial systems, PAE said.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.