The Insider

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June 17, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Members of the House Armed Services Committee apparently found many of the Defense Department's legislative ideas from the past two months convincing. The summary of the panel's fiscal year 2010 defense authorization contains a number of provisions that will sound familiar to those following our coverage.

For example, panelists gave a thumbs-up to the DOD idea of training private-sector information technology specialists at the Defense Cyber Investigation Training Academy (DCITA), operated by the DOD Cyber Crime Center in Maryland.

Also considered in the bill is a Pentagon request to authorize the provision of senior-level civilian U.S. defense advisers to the defense ministries of Iraq and Afghanistan. 

A DOD request to expand a program for paying tipsters who provide counterterrorism-related information directly to US. officials or through foreign intermediaries made it into the bill, too.

Lawmakers OK'ed a Pentagon request to make permanent a pilot program for sharing space situational awareness data with private companies and foreign organizations.

They included a DOD proposal in their bill that would make it possible for the Pentagon to do business with countries eyed to host segments of what U.S. officials call the Northern Distribution Network of supply routes to Afghanistan.

However, committee members adopted the latter proposal with caveats. A panel spokeswoman would only say the bill language is “much more limited” than what DOD officials wanted.

The final bill text, which should include details on the limitations, will be available to the public after committee staffers file the legislation with the House Rules Committee later this week, the spokeswoman said.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

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June 16, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The House Armed Services Committee today held a lengthy, and at times entertaining, debate over how many interceptor missiles the United States should have to defend against ballistic missile attacks. The committee settled on 30 -- the number supported by the Obama administration -- during its mark-up of the fiscal year 2010 defense budget. The Bush administration was funding a plan to put 44 in the ground in Alaska and California (40 up north, four down south).

The back-and-forth between committee Democrats (who supported 30 interceptors) and Republicans (who wanted to restore the 44 interceptors) highlighted a rather curious fact -- neither number is backed up by any hard Pentagon analysis.

The Democrats offered up the support of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright and Missile Defense Agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, all of whom have testified to Congress that 30 ground-based interceptors are adequate to meet the threat posed by North Korea and Iran.

Republicans argued for restoring the plan for 44 interceptors because, well, 44 is more than 30. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) even threw China and Russia onto the table, arguing that both countries have sizable ICBM arsenals -- and contending that if they ever launched a few toward the United States, 14 more interceptors would come in handy. In the early days of the Bush administration's push for a deployed national missile defense system, though, Pentagon officials consistently told Congress the system would have no capability against China's missile arsenal.

In a statement issued just moments after the committee approved an amendment by Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) to stay with the 30 interceptor plan, the committee's majority staff said in the next few years North Korea “could launch, at most, one or two long-range ballistic missiles at the United States at any one time, and Iran has not yet tested a missile capable of reaching the United States.” Nether of those situations are expected to change over the next five years, according to the statement. “The 30 ((ground-based midcourse defense)) interceptors deployed under the president's plan are more than enough to counter this threat," the statement reads.

So what about the numbers? The Missile Defense Agency tells us that the decision to put 44 interceptors in the ground “was made in the 2001-2002 time frame based upon analysis of the expected threat. During that time frame ((the)) decision was also made to deploy up to four GBIs at Vandenberg ((Air Force Base in California)) in addition to GBIs at Ft. Greely ((in Alaska)).”

Earlier this year the Missile Defense Executive Board made the recommendation to go to 30 interceptors, MDA tells us. That position was accepted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, putting in motion the events that played out during the House committee's meeting this morning.

-- Thomas Duffy
 

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June 16, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Department officials are eying a new kind of assistance for Iraq and Afghanistan beyond instructing the countries' security forces in tactical warfighting matters.

According to a legislative proposal sent to Congress last week, Pentagon officials want to be able to send a total of 38 civilian advisers to Baghdad and Kabul to aid in the development of more strategic-level thinking among defense ministry officials when it comes to stabilization and irregular warfare operations.

The cost would be $13.1 million for fiscal year 2010, according to the legislative proposal.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

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June 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Today's news that foreign hostages in Yemen have been killed comes as U.S. officials are growing alarmed about violent extremism in that country, where a suicide attack hit the U.S. destroyer Cole (DDG-67) in 2000.

To wit:

  • In a speech last Thursday at the Willard Hotel, U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus said of Yemen, "We're very concerned about the challenges that have emerged there."
  • In a background briefing the next day at the Pentagon, a senior defense official told reporters al Qaeda remains a global network with significant links across a number of continents and to various groups, including the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
  • "I am very worried about growing safe havens in both Somalia and Yemen, specifically, because we've seen al Qaeda leadership -- some leaders start to flow to Yemen," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen said in a May 18 speech at the Brookings Institution.
  • Somalia and Yemen are potential safe havens for al Qaeda in the future, CIA chief Leon Panetta warned in a speech the same day to the Pacific Council on International Policy.

Also: The New York Times reports today that violence has been rising in Yemen throughout the last year.

-- Chris Castelli

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June 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Lawmakers last week included language in the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill that could turn out to be a technical obstacle to realizing Bush-era basing plans for a European missile defense system in the near term.

In a statement, House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Chairwoman Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) said her committee had contributed a provision to the bill that would "make permanent" an existing statutory requirement that interceptors intended for the European site first be considered operationally effective before moving ahead with the plan.

The FY-09 National Defense Authorization Act already contains language to that effect.

Section 233 of the act prohibits the Pentagon from using FY-09 money for acquisitions related to the European site, or the deployment of operational missiles there, until the defense secretary, with advice from the director of operational test an evaluation, certifies the interceptors as having a "high probability of working in an operationally effective manner."

The Missile Defense Agency has yet to begin test flights of the interceptors eyed for the European system.

Meanwhile, the No. 1 Republican on Tauscher's panel, Michael Turner (D-OH), has introduced legislation that would guarantee MDA $500 million over fiscal years 2011 and 2012 to do exactly what the NDAA language seeks to forbid.

The "NATO First Act" would enable MDA to spend the money on "research, development, test, and evaluation, procurement, site activation, construction, preparation of, equipment for, or deployment of" the envisioned sites in Poland and the Czech Republic.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

By
June 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Paris Air Show is under way in rainy Le Bourget, France. While the international media is busy coming up with conspiracy theories about why the Air Force did not bring the F-22A Raptor to the show, the staff of Inside the Air Force brings you some highlights from today's industry briefings and announcements.

Boeing Renames Tanker Program

Boeing announced it has changed the name of its KC-X tanker competition proposal from the KC-767 to the KC-7A7. While the “A” does not does not stand for anything in particular, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems President and CEO James Albaugh said it symbolizes the company's option to offer a 767- or a 777-based aircraft. “Our capture teams have been actively working both of these options,” Albaugh said during a morning briefing with reporters.

. . . And Unveils New UAS Division

Boeing also announced the formation of an unmanned aerial system division within its defense and space business unit. The UAS division will assume program management responsibility for the A160T Hummingbird, Unmanned Little Bird, SolarEagle (Vulture), ScanEagle and Integrator programs. The sector also will oversee the X-45 Phanton Ray and Hale programs. The division Director Vic Sweberg will report to Boeing Military Aircraft President Chris Chadwick.

Using Your Head

Lockheed Martin awarded Vision Systems International $54.1 million to deliver 52 F-35 Gen II helmet-mounted displays and 30 aircraft shipsets in support of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Helmet Mounted Display System program, according to a company statement. VSI will provide system hardware and production tooling for the first three lots of low-rate initial production. The system enables the pilot to accurately cue on-board weapons and sensors by looking at enemy aircraft and ground targets with the helmet display.

Moving Forward

Lockheed announced it has delivered the final block of new flight software architecture that will provide “highly reliable” spacecraft command and control operations for the Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Orbit (SBIRS GEO) satellite constellation. The software will enable robust command and data handling, fault management and safe-hold capabilities on the GEO satellites, according to a company statement. The delivery of the final block of software comes roughly a year and a half after arcane issues were found in the original design.

Lockheed also announced today that the Global Positioning System III program has entered the critical design review stage on schedule. Over the next year, Lockheed and its industry partners will conduct 70 individual CDRs for critical GPS III spacecraft subsystems, assemblies and elements, according to a separate statement. “The phase will culminate in the fall of 2010 with a final Space Vehicle CDR that will validate the detailed GPS III design to ensure it meets warfighter and civil requirements,” the statement reads.

Saudi Snipers

Lockheed Martin announced that it is set to deliver Sniper advanced targeting pods to the Royal Saudi Air Force. This marks the first step in a $100 million program aimed at upgrading the precision targeting equipment on the Saudi air service's fleet of F-15Ss, which are nearly identical to U.S. F-15E Strike Eagles. The Saudi jets have been using Lockheed's LANTIRN targeting pods since the planes were delivered to the kingdom in the mid-1990s, according to a company statement.

Airborne Intelligence

Lockheed Martin unveiled its newest intelligence product as it announced the creation of a flying intelligence collection tech lab known as the Airborne Multi-INT Laboratory. The lab is centered on a Gulfstream III business jet and will serve as a flying testbed for a number of intelligence collection tools that can be swapped in and out of the jet, according to a company statement. More interesting is the fact that Lockheed claims the plane will be available for “participation in government and coalition exercises,” according to release. “Using the AML as a multirole cooperative research platform testbed, the team will work with operational commands to develop innovative ways to bring ((intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance)) to the edge,” the statement reads.

-- Marcus Weisgerber, Jason Simpson and John Reed, reporting from stateside

By
June 12, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Marines are looking for a few good men -- with curly red hair, glasses and pocket protectors, according to the Marine Corps commandant.

Gen. James Conway was asked yesterday at the National Press Club what the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization should be doing more of. And he said:

You know, that’s a tough one. And I don't have a good answer for that question, quite frankly. I visited. They’ve got some wonderfully intelligent people over there that wear uniforms and that don’t wear uniforms. They realize the importance of what they’re doing. They’re looking at every aspect of it that you can imagine, and I would offer, more

And that's when it got a little weird. Conway said he still hopes for a groundbreaking high-tech solution that would help troops spot and eradicate improvised bombs at a safe distance.

He followed that with this:

You know, I still hold out hope that some day some guy with curly red hair and glasses and a pocket holder is going to come running out of his garage saying, 'I got it! I got it!' and we’re going to have a device that will detect and destroy at distance. But we’re not there yet. That magic device has not occurred.

Conway added, however, that he does not fault JIEDDO for anything it is doing.

“They’re making progress,” he said. “They’re putting things in the field as rapidly as they can for experimentation. And so I think they’re doing a very good job. We just hope someday that they find that answer, and the weapon becomes obsolete.”

-- Chris Castelli

By
June 12, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The new off-road version of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle designed for Afghanistan has not been developed yet, but the Marines are already gung ho about their effort to develop an alternative.

“There is an effort by the Department of Defense, a very right and helpful effort, to come up with an Afghanistan version of the MRAP,” Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway said yesterday at the National Press Club. “The fact is, we’re not waiting for that.”

Instead of awaiting the MRAP-All Terrain Vehicle (MRAP-ATV), the Marines are putting an MRAP on the suspension of the 7-ton truck known as the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR). It's a familiar theme from Conway's recent speeches. Here's the general in his own words from yesterday:

We’ve tested the vehicle. It’s tested very well in initial tests. Even as we sit here today, it’s being further tested before we send it to theater. But we’re very optimistic it’s going to work. It’s going to give our Marines the off-road kind of mobility, and, more importantly, the protection they need in a 38,000-pound vehicle. We’re going to get it there faster than waiting for the development of the MRAP series, designated for Afghan use. And we’re going to do it at a fraction of the price. So we’re charging ahead on that program with great expectations. And our Marines are going to be making great use of the vehicle in what we consider to be the very near future.

Conway made similar comments on June 2, as Inside the Navy reported. “We will probably still need some M-ATVs because not every column is going to be strictly MRAPs,” he noted that day. “Where there’s a need for an up-armored Humvee, we may want to have an M-ATV in its place when they come about. But that is on down range from where we are right now.”

And on May 15, we reported Conway said his service was not "divorcing" from the M-ATV program but would decide where to “park” its money as both the M-ATV and the service’s alternative option develop.

-- Chris Castelli

By
June 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

U.S. Southern Command is scheduled for its change of leadership later on this month, according to a SOUTHCOM statement issued this morning:

MIAMI - U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Douglas Fraser is scheduled to assume duties as commander, U.S. Southern Command from Navy Adm. James Stavridis during a formal change-of-command ceremony at the command's headquarters June 25.

Stavridis, who began his tenure as commander of SOUTHCOM on Oct. 19, 2006, was confirmed June 10 by the U.S. Senate to serve as Commander, U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and Supreme Allied Commander of Europe for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, headquartered near Mons, Belgium.

Fraser's presidential nomination for appointment to the grade of general and assignment as SOUTHCOM commander was also approved by the U.S. Senate June 10. The general is scheduled to receive his fourth star prior to the June 25 change-of-command ceremony.

Fraser comes to SOUTHCOM from U.S. Pacific Command, headquartered in Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, where he served as the geographic unified command's deputy commander.

Fraser has also served as commander of Alaskan Command, a component command of U.S. Pacific Command; 11th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces; and Alaskan North American Defense Region, headquartered at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

A 1975 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and 1992 graduate of the National War College, Fraser earned a master's degree in political science from Auburn University in 1987.

His awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Meritorious Service Medal.

Fraser is the first Air Force general to head SOUTHCOM, a post to date led only by Army, Marine Corps and Navy officers.

When Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the nomination in March, he said Fraser's appointment as well as Stavridis' to head EUCOM are "but one more indication of how joint our military leadership has become and how much America's global security arrangements have evolved since the end of the Cold War."

-- John Liang
 

By
June 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus heard an idea he liked this morning -- and promptly decided to run with it.

The moment came as he took a few questions from an audience assembled by the Center for a New American Security, following a speech in the packed ballroom of the Willard Hotel, not far from the White House.

A Pakistani fellow from U.S. Joint Special Operations University asked the general about the possibility of launching a joint lessons-learned effort on counterinsurgency operations with Pakistan’s national defense university.

“First of all, it’s a great idea,” Petraeus said. “I think I will actually pursue it, which is even better."

He also noted U.S. and Pakistani forces have done a fair amount of sharing back and forth.

“We have a lot to learn from our Pakistani partners -- a great deal -- and there’s much that they can teach us,” Petraeus said.

-- Chris Castelli

By
June 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Two years ago, defense leaders summoned the Defense Science Board to take an independent look at the Pentagon's strategy to combat roadside bombs. The effort has been known as the board's "Phase II" task force on improvised explosive devices, and the group was to act as a "sounding board" to the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, former Pentagon acquisition chief Kenneth Krieg wrote in a March 21, 2007, terms of reference document.

Recently, defense officials began announcing meetings for a "Phase III" DSB effort.

But the new "phase" does not reflect any sort of new tack or research angle in the panel's counter-IED work, officials said. According to Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin, Krieg's old "Phase II" terms of reference still apply.

Naturally, the folks at JIEDDO have knowledge of the matter, too. "To clarify, this is not being considered a phase III activity, but simply a continuation of the phase II task force," JIEDDO spokeswoman Irene Smith wrote in an e-mail.

Current research topics include competitive strategies and red teaming; training technology, including "virtual, constructive, and live simulations;" and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance architectures, Smith wrote.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

By
June 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

As Inside the Army first reported yesterday, the service has a big event going on next Monday. And today, as this new story notes, the service has formally announced that the event in question is intended to “bring together knowledgeable individuals to offer information and opinions on a way ahead for the Army to develop a new ground combat vehicle.”

The service has provided to Inside the Army a list of those who “have indicated they're interested in coming to the panel.”

Here it is, in full:

GEN (Ret) William Hartzog

LTG (Ret) James Dubik

LTG (Ret) David Barno

MG (Ret) David Fastabend

Dr. John Nagl

Mr. Thomas Szayna

CSM Matthew Walker

SFC Paul Marler

Mr. Dave Oskey


GEN (Ret) Scott Wallace

Mr. Tom Donnelly

BGen Michael Brogan, USMC

COL Reginald Allen (3rd ACR)

Dr. David Markowitz

CSM John Troxell

SFC Nathan Tiemeier

Mr. Bob Holcomb

Brig Phil Jones (UK)

Mr. Jeff Martin

Mr. Don Sando


LTG (Ret) Paul Funk

LTG (Ret) Patrick Hughes

COL David Teeples

Mr. Colin Agee

CSM John Sparks

MG (Ret) Waldo Freeman

Mr. David Johnson

SGM Richard Jones

COL Steve Hood

MSG Victor Vincente

Hon Nelson Ford

LTG (Ret) Joseph Yakovac

MG (Ret) Robert Armbruster

Mr. Anthony Melita

CSM Cynthia Pritchett

Mr. Scott Badenoch

Mr. James Quinlivan

Lt Col Mark Sullivan (UK)

Mr. Andrew Hoehn

Mr. Lawrence Keith


GEN (Ret) Gordon Sullivan

GEN (Ret) John Tillelli

MG Bill Troy

Dr. Dan Goure

Mr. Anthony Cordesman

Mr. Matthew Schaffer

Dr. Joe Braddock

SFC Freddie Housey

COL Bill Burleson (1/10 MNT)

SGM Greg Larsen


LTG (Ret) Bill Campbell

LTG (Ret) Robert Donahue

MG James Terry

COL Ricardo Love (4/2 SBCT)

Mr. Jim Arkedis

CSM Russell Reimer

SGM Jeff Brown

CSM Dennis Defreese

SSG Everett Vantonio

MG (Ret) Scales (T)

-- Marjorie Censer

By
June 11, 2009 at 5:00 AM

President Obama has tapped a former assistant secretary of the Army for civil works to be the service's next under secretary, the White House announced today.

Joseph Westphal, now a professor at the University of Maine, was the civil works assistant secretary in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was also, very briefly, the acting Army secretary, and he served on the Obama transition team.

-- Dan Dupont

By
June 10, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates yesterday told lawmakers he has renewed hope for a cooperation with Russia on a ballistic missile defense system that would protect Europe against Iranian missiles.

The possibility of a BMD system on European soil has been a source of contention between Washington and Moscow ever since the project was proposed by the Bush administration. The Russians' concern is that the envisioned system, with interceptors in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, could shoot down their missiles, thereby putting the effectiveness of Moscow's strategic deterrent at risk.

In addition, the Russians believed the system is unnecessary because Iran's missile technology has a ways to go.

Amid this all, the geometrics of missile defense comes into play. And that, according to some scientists, would favor a radar site somewhere in southeastern Russia to ensure an optimal distance to suspected launch sites in Iran.

"((W))e've made a number of offers in terms of how to partner, and I think there are still some opportunities -- for example, perhaps putting radars in Russia, having data exchange centers in Russia," Gates said yesterday at a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing.

Gates then recounted a conversation with former Russian President Vladimir Putin on the subject.

And so I think the administration is very interested in continuing to pursue this prospect with the Russians, and it may be that our chances are somewhat improved for making progress, because I think the Russians -- when I first briefed -- when I first met with President Putin and talked about this, he basically dismissed the idea that the Iranians would have a missile that would have the range to reach much of Western Europe and much of Russia before 2020 or so. And he showed me a map that his intelligence guys had prepared, and I told him he needed a new intelligence service.

And the fact of the matter is, the Russians have come back to us and acknowledged that were right in terms of the nearness of the Iranian missile threat. And so my hope is -- and that they had been wrong. And so my hope is, we can build on that and perhaps -- perhaps at the president's summit meeting with President Medvedev, perhaps begin to make some steps where they will partner with us and Poland and the Czech Republic in going forward with missile defense in the -- this third site.

The summit meeting is scheduled for next month.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

By
June 10, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The House Appropriations Committee yesterday released a tentative mark-up schedule for its fiscal year 2010 spending bills.

According to the schedule, the defense subcommittee plans to mark up the FY-10 military spending bill Monday, July 13, and the full committee Tuesday, July 21. The legislation would subsequently go to the House floor Thursday, July 30.

"This schedule would allow the House to complete action on all FY2010 Appropriations Bills before the August Recess, provided that consideration of other high priority legislation does not intervene and provided that we have reasonable procedural cooperation from all members," committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI) said in a statement. "It is an ambitious schedule, but it is workable if we all work together and if other crucial considerations do not intervene."

Other bills of interest: The FY-10 military construction spending legislation is scheduled for subcommittee mark-up Tuesday, June 16, with full committee mark-up Wednesday, June 24, and would go to the House floor July 13.

The homeland security subcommittee marked up its $42.6 billion FY-10 bill (which includes $9.9 billion for the Coast Guard) this past Monday, June 8; the full committee is scheduled to take it up on Friday, with the full House to consider it Monday, June 23.

-- John Liang