The Insider

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November 26, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has reportedly agreed to continue to lead the Pentagon when President-elect Barack Obama comes to power next year, will be taking to the skies Monday and might just make a stop in Obama's hometown of Chicago, IL.

John Podesta, who co-chairs Obama's transition team, has said the Illinois Democrat generally plans to personally announce his senior cabinet-level appointments in Chicago.

For now, the Defense Department is not officially commenting on Gates' future or whether he will visit Chicago next week to appear with Obama. But a senior defense official coyly said today that Gates will likely have an opportunity to talk to reporters next week.

DOD also acknowledged that Gates is scheduled to speak in the early afternoon on Monday (Dec. 1) at the Air Force Base in Minot, ND. It is a sure bet nuclear weapons will come up in his speech there. In August 2007, the Air Force accidentally flew six live nuclear cruise missiles on a B-52 bomber from Minot AFB, ND, to Barksdale AFB, LA, touching off investigations that ultimately led Gates to sack the service's leadership.

Visiting Minot will put Gates a mere 900 miles or so from Obama's hometown at a time when the president-elect is reportedly poised to unveil a national security team that also includes Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state and retired Marine Gen. James Jones as White House national security adviser.

-- Chris Castelli

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November 25, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Associated Press and others are reporting today that Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- in a widely distributed 41-page memo issued in response to the most recent Commission on the National Guard and Reserves report -- is calling for a broad review of the reserve component's ability to handle domestic disasters. 

As Inside the Army reported upon its release in early 2008, the commission's report called for the Pentagon to better integrate the active and reserve components of the military and to “improve its capabilities and readiness to play a primary role in the response to major catastrophes that incapacitate civilian government over a wide geographic area.”

The report contended that the National Guard and Reserves “should play the lead role” in supporting the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies.

In the new memo, Gates also calls for a review to consider how best to ensure visibility of National Guard and Reserve equipment and funding.

The document, sent to a large group of Pentagon and service leaders, asks them to “complete the work done by the Commission and ensure that the Commission's efforts result in lasting improvements to our national security.”

Last month, Gates signed a new DOD directive -- first reported right here -- that changed official Pentagon policy to say the reserve components “provide operational capabilities and strategic depth to meet U.S. defense requirements across the full spectrum of conflict,” and that active and reserve components “are integrated as a total force based on the attributes of the particular component and individual competencies.”

Arnold Punaro, chair of the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves, told ITA earlier this month that the document was “one of the most significant documents in the Pentagon in a long, long time.”

We'll have more on the Gates memo shortly.

-- Marjorie Censer

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November 25, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Politico reports Defense Secretary Robert Gates has agreed to stick at the Pentagon, where he will be part of an Obama national security team that includes Sen. Hillary Clinton at State and retired Gen. James Jones as national security adviser.

More:

Democrats familiar with the national-security event early next week said they also expect James B. Steinberg, who was deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration, to be named deputy secretary of State; Susan Rice, Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser on the campaign, to be named U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and retired Navy Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command and a veteran of the NSC, Central Intelligence Agency and Joint Chiefs of Staff, to be named the director of national intelligence.

Tom Donilon, an assistant secretary of state for public affairs and chief of staff at the U.S. Department of State during the Clinton administration, is a leading candidate to be Jones’ deputy at the NSC, officials said.

-- Dan Dupont

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November 24, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz are scheduled to meet with a senior member of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team today.

The meeting between the Air Force's top two officials and Michèle Flournoy will serve as an introduction and an opportunity for the service to initially present some of its big issues, according to an Air Force official. Those issues will be discussed in further detail when service officials hold formal briefings with the transition team in the coming weeks.

Transition team officials met with several senior Pentagon officials from other services last week; however, Donley and Schwartz were not in Washington.

The incoming administration will face some major Air Force-related decisions immediately upon taking office in January. At the top of that list is deciding whether to continue Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III production.

-- Marcus Weisgerber

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November 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Norway yesterday announced the Joint Strike Fighter will replace its F-16s, passing over the Saab Gripen fighter, a procurement that could net JSF prime contractor Lockheed Martin orders for up to 48 aircraft, which Myles Walton, an investment research analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., estimates could be worth $8.5 billion.

In a statement, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence said:

The JSF is the only candidate which fulfills all the operational requirements specified by the Norwegian Government and is furthermore offered at a lower price than the Gripen NG. The selection of the Joint Strike Fighter rests upon a clear recommendation from Project Future Combat Aircraft Capability. External auditors have concluded that the evaluation has been carried out in a professional and ethically sound manor. 

Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, the defence minister, said in the statement that she expects Norwegian industry to play a key part in JSF production.

An investment of this magnitude offers substantial opportunities for Norwegian industry. Throughout the process, the Government has communicated clearly to the candidates the significance of securing industrial opportunities, and the results of that focus is clearly evident today.

-- Jason Sherman

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November 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Missile Defense Agency has a new director. Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly took the reins today from retiring Air Force Lt. Gen. Trey Obering in a ceremony at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, VA.

O'Reilly has his work cut out for him, what with two wars and a faltering economy and promises from senior lawmakers of a "severe scrubbing" of MDA's budget next year.

Obering last week reiterated his agency's argument that MDA is "a very small part of the defense budget," somewhere around "less than 2 percent."

I believe that we have gone to great pains to outline a balanced program, with obviously the emphasis being on the near-term fielding and the development to support the near-term fielding, testing and sustainment, and that accounts for about 75 percent of our budget today. The 25 percent left over goes for programs like the Airborne Laser, Kinetic Energy Interceptor, . . . ((and)) our Space Tracking and Surveillance System.

Obering told reporters in a Nov. 12 teleconference call that Congress' "propensity" for cutting funding for future missile defense programs "would be a very bad mistake."

We're going to have to develop these capabilities to stay up with the threat and make sure that the interceptors and the sensors that we're fielding today remain effective in the future. If you cut those future programs, that's going to mean that basically we're going to be fielding systems today that are going to be obsolete in the mid-term of the future.

-- John Liang
 

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November 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Some visitors at this year's AUSA exhibit last month may have walked away from the contractor booths with USB memory sticks filled with digitized promotional material. For their size, these tiny things hold an awful lot of data, and with the warfighting gear advertisements purged from them, they come in handy for, say, a quick file transport between computers that aren't directly connected. And they are handed out like candy at some military trade shows.

As we reported yesterday, though, a recent STRATCOM message prohibits the use of all such removable media on unclassified networks for security reasons. A closer look at the message seems to confirm DOD's fears that attackers are successfully targeting low-level functions of electronic devices to emplace code capable of doing anything from stealing data to spying out passwords.

“Malicious software (malware) programmed to embed itself in memory devices has entered our systems,” the STRATCOM message reads, announcing further direction for sanitizing and “recertifying” the military's networks.

Malware happened to be one of the topics at the Army Combined Arms Center's Information and Cyberspace Symposium in September. In one of the presentations, titled “Advanced Malware Trends,” a Sandia National Labs expert predicted that the focus of attackers is “moving from ((operating systems)) and system software to application logic, software below the OS (virtual machine manager and firmware), and hardware.” In response, the official's presentation reads, military information assurance professionals must pick up additional skills -- in the areas of VMM programming, firmware programming, and hardware architecture and design -- to keep Defense Department networks safe.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

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November 21, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Washington Post is reporting on its Web site this afternoon that President-Elect Obama is "close" to naming his national security adviser -- retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones.

The Jones appointment would put the one-time Marine Corps commandant and NATO commander in charge of managing an interagency process that many Democratic foreign policy experts contend has been broken under the Bush administration. . . .

In picking Jones to coordinate his team, Obama would be sending a powerful sign of a desire to conduct a non-partisan national security policy. Jones is also close to Sen. John McCain, his colleague as a military liaison to Capitol Hill in the 1970s, and stayed publicly neutral during the campaign, but quietly provided advice to Obama in telephone conversations, according to someone who knows both men. He is one of the few individuals in public life who likely would have been courted for government service regardless of the election's outcome.

"He would bring a lot of the military dimension to the job," said Wesley Clark, the retired four-star general who was one of Jones' predecessors as NATO commander. "And his non- partisanship at this juncture is really important. He provides a nonpartisan standard for the national interest--that would be the presumption given his previous experience."

Jones currently heads the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy. His name circulated briefly as a possible vice-president pick, and he and Obama have discussed possible roles for Jones in an Obama administration since before the election.

Jones has not been silent of late, and we've been able to glean some of his latest thinking:

JONES WORRIES ABOUT UNDERFUNDING MILITARY ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITIES
Inside the Pentagon - November 20, 2008

The new administration must ensure U.S. combatant commanders receive adequate resources to support essential, global engagement activities that have faced budget challenges in wartime, retired Marine Gen. James Jones tells Inside the Pentagon.


JONES: NEW TEAM MUST BUILD ON ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PROGRESS IN JENIN
Inside the Pentagon - November 13, 2008

Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, who served as the Bush administration’s special envoy for Middle East regional security, is urging President-elect Barack Obama's team to continue to foster improvements on the Israeli-occupied West Bank that could lay the foundation for a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


JONES MUM AS OBAMA TEAM MULLS POSSIBLE ROLE FOR RETIRED GENERAL
Inside the Pentagon - November 6, 2008

Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, who is reportedly being eyed for the job of national security adviser in the Obama White House, is not ruling out the possibility of joining the new administration.

-- Dan Dupont

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November 20, 2008 at 5:00 AM

As we told you this morning over on the INSIDER, there's a new U.S. Strategic Command message out there suspending the use of "flash media" devices -- "memory sticks, thumb drives and camera flash memory cards" -- because of some significant security concerns.

That directive -- stamped "for official use only" -- contains some pretty dire language.

A taste:

2. (FOUO) IT IS APPARENT THAT OVER TIME, OUR POSTURE TO PROTECT NETWORKS AND ASSOCIATED INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE HAS NOT KEPT PACE WITH ADVERSARY EFFORTS TO PENETRATE, DISRUPT, INTERRUPT, EXPLOIT OR DESTROY CRITICAL ELEMENTS OF THE GIG. THE DECISION TO TERMINATE USE OF REMOVABLE REWRITABLE MEDIA IS A KEY COMPONENT IN THE STRATEGY TO DEFEND AGAINST ATTACKS AND ESTABLISH A BASELINE FOR INFORMATION SYSTEM PROTECTION. MEMORY STICKS, THUMB DRIVES AND CAMERA FLASH MEMORY CARDS HAVE GIVEN THE ADVERSARY THE CAPABILITY TO EXPLOIT OUR POOR PERSONAL PRACTICES AND HAVE PROVIDED AN AVENUE OF ATTACK.

MALICIOUS SOFTWARE (MALWARE) PROGRAMMED TO EMBED ITSELF IN MEMORY DEVICES HAS ENTERED OUR SYSTEMS. ONLY THROUGH A LAYERED DEFENSE OF TRAINING, TECHNOLOGY, PROCEDURES AND PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE, CAN WE REGAIN THE HIGH GROUND.

You should know Wired.com's Danger Room blog broke this story last night.

You should also know that the defense IT community is very, very exercised about the whole thing.

More to come.

-- Dan Dupont

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November 20, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Former Pentagon weapons tester Philip Coyle told Inside Missile Defense this week that he does not think the Obama administration “can avoid cutting missile defense,” noting the likely need for cash to pay for “higher priorities, and there are not many places where you can so easily find $10 billion year after year for the foreseeable future that could be better spent on important national needs, such as energy independence.” Coyle is a senior adviser at the Center for Defense Information.

And James Clay Moltz, an associate professor on the National Security Affairs faculty at the Naval Postgraduate School, said downward pressure on the Obama administration’s overall defense budget is likely to be significant.

“Missile defense spending will almost certainly be affected, but the Obama administration will also be leery of appearing weak on defense or hurting programs with significant prior investment, capabilities, or perceived deterrent value,” he told IMD in an e-mail. “For these reasons, I think we can expect a continuation of Aegis, ((Patriot Advanced Capability))-3, and domestic GMD spending (with some slippage in planned numbers and deployment dates for new hardware), a slowdown of funding for proposed European defenses, and cuts for less-proven technologies (like the Airborne Laser, the ((Multiple Kill Vehicle)), the ((Kinetic Energy Interceptor)), and ((Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense))).”

Lawmakers long skeptical of the outgoing Bush administration's missile defense policies are sure to get in on the action, with House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Chairwoman Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) promising a "severe scrubbing" of the Missile Defense Agency's budget by the next Congress, IMD reported:

“We're going to finally get to a place I think where we have had a number of programs that have been moderately extended -- you know, not-full-funding, a-little-funding, you know, resuscitation funding, as we call it, resuscitating funding, just keeping them going, and make decisions on where we're going to go,” Tauscher told reporters following a Nov. 12 speech at a Center for Nonproliferation Studies event. “And that's going to be part of the hearing process that we start in January ((or)) February when we begin to build toward the ((fiscal year 2010 defense authorization)) bill.”

When asked if that scrubbing would include funding cuts to missile defense programs, Tauscher said she could “not speculate because we have a new administration coming in . . . we've got the Strategic Posture Commission, we've got a number of different things that are going to inform us, including where exactly our numbers are.

“And until I have that information, I cannot speculate and I won't speculate, but everything I think is on the table,” she continued. “Everything has to be reviewed; we're looking forward to . . . going back to regular order, where we have hearings, where we have comprehensive overview, oversight, and the hearing process will illuminate where we think we need to be going.”

MDA Director Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, fearing some outside the government may be "dated" in their knowledge of U.S. missile defense efforts, said the same day as Tauscher's speech that his agency stands ready to brief incoming Obama administration officials on the status of its programs.

Some related future-of-missile-defense-funding stories from recent weeks:

MEADS Missile Defense Program Undergoes Management Overhaul

Young Establishes Joint Missile Defense Analysis Team

Report Urges 'Renewed Emphasis' on RDT&E at Missile Defense Agency

Report Says MDA Should Play No Role In Cruise Missile Defense

Defense Department Opposes FY-09 Multiple Kill Vehicle Funding Cuts

Campbell: Army Would Need More Money From OSD to Run GMD System

-- John Liang
 

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November 19, 2008 at 5:00 AM

When it comes to the effect that a potentially diminished Defense Department budget in the next administration might have on science and technology research and development, at least one defense official said he’s pretty frightened.

“It really scares me when I think about a shrinking science and technology budget,” John Wilcox, an assistant deputy under secretary of defense and the director of the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration program, said yesterday on a panel at the Coast Guard Innovation Expo in Virginia Beach, VA. “Because that’s the money that’s the future, whether it’s building the research, scientists, the engineers and our young people that have those programs out there, or having the right monies to invest in things that can react quickly to the battlefield.”

He said he’s pretty certain defense research organizations will see a “drawdown” and be asked to do more with less. And to counter the effects, he told the audience, DOD should take greater advantage of cooperative efforts across departments.

“If we don’t start doing that, and we see our budget going down and things like that, especially across places like DOD, ((Department of Homeland Security)), and the services and the Coast Guard, we’re going to find that we’re not going to be able to put the solutions out there and we will get halfway down the path we need to go.”

The JCTD program funds accelerated research, development and operational evaluation of mature technologies that meet joint warfighting requirements or combatant commander priorities. He said JCTDs can “bring people together from the labs, from industry, sometimes working on a very informal basis,” and that “actually, it puts together a very strong, collaborative effort to go after a solution to a problem.”

More of that kind of collaboration, Wilcox said, will be what is necessary to keep science and technology research and development moving forward under tightened purse strings.

“We need to do a real shift,” he said. “And it’s going to come whether we like it or not.”

-- Rebekah Gordon

FURTHER READING: JCTDs

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November 19, 2008 at 5:00 AM

President-elect Obama's transition team announced today that James Steinberg and Susan Rice will lead its national security policy working group.

“The focus of the Policy Working Groups will be to develop the priority policy proposals and plans from the Obama Campaign for action during the Obama-Biden Administration,” according to the announcement.

Steinberg, dean of the University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs since 2006, served as deputy national security advisor to President Clinton from 1996 to 2000.

He also worked as vice president and director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution from 2001 to 2005 and recently co-authored with Kurt Campbell a book titled "Difficult Transitions: Foreign Policy Troubles at the Outset of Power."

Rice, who served as a senior foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign, has been on leave from her post as a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution's foreign policy and global economy and development programs.

She is also part of the Obama-Biden Transition Project Advisory Board, the announcement adds.

Previously, Rice was assistant secretary of state for African affairs, from 1997 to 2001, and special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council.

-- Marjorie Censer

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November 18, 2008 at 5:00 AM

A Pentagon panel chartered to judge the progress made by the services toward greater reliability, availability and maintainability of their weapon systems says in a recent report that Defense Department leaders should keep their eyes on this ball.

Members of the Reliability Improvement Working Group, in their September 2008 report, lauded some of the services’ recent efforts in the area of reliability improvements. But, they noted, “many of the service responses promise future action” when it comes to a) implementing recommendations for improved reliability, and b) integrating test and evaluation.

Those two recommendations were central to a Defense Science Board report published earlier this year.

The group says future Pentagon leaders should re-examine the topic some time next summer to get another reading on where the services stand in their efforts.

Back story:

Young Seeks Grip on Sustainment Costs of Large-Scale Weapon Programs

New DOD Policy Targets Trend of Under-Performing Weapon Programs

ARMY EYES RELIABILITY IMPROVEMENTS IN ITS WEAPONS PROGRAMS

Pentagon Officials Propose Service Weapon Systems 'Reliability' Czars

Science Board: New DOD Office Needed to Boost Focus on Early Program Testing

-- Sebastian Sprenger

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November 17, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The wave of advice for the incoming Obama administration continues. This time it’s the Center for Strategic and International Studies with a new analysis of defense procurement.

According to the report -- “Defense Procurement by Paralysis” -- the new administration “will face a crisis in U.S. national security planning, programming, and budgeting.”

The assessment, authored by Anthony Cordesman and Hans Ulrich Kaeser, says that the administration now in place will leave behind the job of awarding contracts that could be worth as much as $70 billion -- on top of current procurement and modernization plans.

The Obama administration will inherit a history of mismanagement of appropriations and procurement processes, incoherent force plans and unrealistic budgets, and legal proceedings. It will have to make unpopular cuts, possibly canceling programs that have already absorbed billions of dollars in development expenditures. In a time of economic crisis, heavy competition with other procurement programs and a doctrinal rift inside the Department of Defense, this task will . . . stir political resistance to some of the new administration‟s policies.

In particular, the document looks at four systems: the Army's Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and the Air Force's Transformational Communications Satellite, Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter and Aerial Refueling Tanker programs.

“The new defense procurement priorities are still unknown but they will involve trade-offs between major increases in the defense budget and current force plans,” the report finds. “Reshaping an affordable and effective procurement program may well take at least the full term of the next President and involve major program cancellations, and further hardship for the defense industry.”

-- Marjorie Censer
 

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November 17, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department announced today it is setting up a new advisory panel to assess the department's ability to support local civil agencies in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive incident. Congress asked for the creation of the panel in the 2008 Defense Authorization Act.

According to the bill, the panel must undertake a thorough review of several areas, including DOD's ability to conduct operations in the event of an attack; the adequacy of existing plans and programs for training and equipping forces to carry out such operations; and the various policies and plans the department has today to support civil authorities if an attack happens.

Congress also asked that the panel take a look at and make recommendations on “whether there should be any additional Weapons of Mass destruction Civil Support Teams, beyond the 55 already authorized and, if so, how many additional Civil Support teams, and where they should be located.”

In a Federal Register notice issued today, DOD said the new advisory panel will be made up of a chairperson and no more than 19 additional members. It will have the authority to create subcommittees. The full panel is to deliver a report to the defense secretary and the congressional defense committees within 12 months of reaching its findings and making recommendations.

-- Thomas Duffy