The Insider

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September 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Obama administration faces significant national security challenges today -- and should expect even more in the future, according to a recent briefing prepared by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey.

The document, available on McCaffrey's Web site and dated July 23, identifies nine "insights" into the United States national security strategy, including a "dramatic turn for the better" for the war in Iraq, a continued proliferation of nation states with weapons of mass destruction and a prediction that the war in Afghanistan "will go to high-order violence in 2009-2011."

The briefing slides say the "extremely capable and experienced Obama Administration national security team" should "create a foreign policy that takes into account a failing U.S. economy, disenchantment with the Bush/Rumsfeld misjudgments, and enormous animosity to perceived U.S. arrogance and unilateralism."

They argue that diplomacy and international development assistance are under resourced and that U.S. military intervention "must be the tool of last resort."

Though Iraq is a growing success, the slides say, Afghanistan is in peril and Mexico needs additional support from the United States. (McCaffrey also spoke extensively today on Mexico; see our report here.)

In the future, McCaffrey warns, relations with Russia will grow more hostile, and North Korea "will come apart." He also says "the situation in Pakistan is unstable" and Iran "will go nuclear and create instability in the Persian Gulf."

Other potential concerns identified by McCaffrey include the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, confrontation with Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as well as strategic challenges in the United States, such as the recession, health care and transportation infrastructure.

-- Marjorie Censer

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September 1, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies today issued a "Global Strategic Assessment" that looks at the international security environment in the next decade.

Over the past 10 years, NDU has published a series of similar annual assessments, according to the latest report's introduction. Last year, the Office of the Secretary of Defense asked NDU "to prepare another assessment that would provide a broad and diverse understanding of the international security environment in the decade ahead, specifically designed for use early in the term of the new president," the report states. Specifically:

Although the United States cannot afford to be the world’s exclusive security guarantor, the world is ill prepared for U.S. retrenchment. This Global Strategic Assessment offers a conceptual pathway for U.S. policymakers to begin recalibrating America’s security role to reverse what has appeared to be a widening gap between U.S. ends and means, now and in the future. International security requires U.S. active engagement, but the character of that engagement is changing along with the global environment. Worldwide trends suggest that the United States will increasingly have to approach complex challenges and surprises through wider and more effective partnerships and more integrated strategies. This volume explains the complex security environment and how in particular the United States can begin the process of strategic adaptation. Complexity is the watchword of our century.

This assessment should be a healthy reminder of just how complex—and dangerous—a world we live in. That complexity was encapsulated by the Greek poet Archilochus, who said that the fox knows many things but the hedgehog had only one big idea. During the previous administration, the United States conflated security under the umbrella of a “global war on terror” and focused on a single big idea. Thus, in this volume a central idea, if not an organizing principle, is that the United States will have to be as clever as the fox, keeping its eye on multiple challenges and taking care not to exert its finite resources on any single problem. Preparing for and dealing with such profound complexity requires particular capabilities, approaches, and proclivities: cultural, developmental, experiential, technical, organizational, political, and operational. These attributes can be selected, cultivated, and enhanced, and it seems that they will have to be if we are to survive, let alone succeed.

-- John Liang
 

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August 31, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is slated today to visit Lockheed Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter factory in Fort Worth, TX. He will tour the facility, talk with employees there and conduct a brief media availability, according to the Pentagon.

“The secretary obviously has placed an enormous priority on the F-35,” Gates’ spokesman Geoff Morrell said last month. “That’s one of the reasons he believes we do not need additional F-22s. So obviously he’s going to be very, very much on top of that program as it goes forward.”

Also today, Gates will travel to Greenville, TX, to visit the L3 Communications plant where the company outfits MC-12 Liberty aircraft with equipment for operations in Afghanistan.

Finally, he will travel to Houston to participate in a presentation of keys to a home for a wounded warrior sponsored by Helping a Hero.

-- Chris Castelli

MORE: Recent JSF news:

  • Navy Discussing 2014 IOC for Joint Strike Fighter Carrier Variant
    Inside the Navy, Aug. 31, 2009 -- There are discussions among Navy leadership about shaving a full year off the initial operational capability date for the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, from 2015 to 2014, according to a source familiar with the JSF program.
  • Navy Delays Outlying Landing Field EIS, JSF Data May Be Considered
    InsideDefense.com, Aug. 28, 2009 -- The Navy is delaying the release of the draft environmental impact statement for a controversial East Coast outlying landing field (OLD), which would be used to practice night landings on aircraft carriers, the Defense Department announced.
  • First Full STOVL Flight of JSF May Be Delayed Until October
    InsideDefense.com, Aug. 25, 2009 -- The Marine Corps is still working toward a September flight in full vertical lift mode of the short-take-off, vertical-landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but a number of minor engineering issues are likely to delay that flight another month, according to Lt. Gen. George Trautman, deputy commandant for aviation.
By
August 31, 2009 at 5:00 AM

BAE Systems today called the news of Oshkosh's surprising win in the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle "rebuy" competition "disappointing" but said the company would continue to deliver FMTVs through the fourth quarter of FY-10.

The Army last week awarded Oshkosh a $280.9 million contract for 2,568 FMTVs as well as support services and engineering. According to Oshkosh, the order is the first in a five-year contract to buy 23,000 trucks and trailers. Incumbent BAE Systems as well as Navistar also competed for the contract.

In a statement released last week, Linda Hudson, president of BAE Systems Land & Armaments, said the company "delivered a strong proposal, which we believe met the best interests of the business, customer and our shareholders.

While this news is disappointing, we are proud of what we have achieved in making the FMTV the medium tactical vehicle of choice for the Army during the past 17 years. We remain committed to implementing a global land systems strategy, particularly in the areas of readiness and sustainment and export activities.

The new award is not expected to affect financial planning assumptions for FMTV sales in 2009 or 2010, the release adds.

Additionally, BAE remains "under contract to deliver FMTVs through to the fourth quarter of 2010" and "continues to support the U.S. Army's FMTV program through its public-private partnership with Red River Army Depot for the reset and support of FMTVs," the announcement said.

-- Marjorie Censer

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August 28, 2009 at 5:00 AM

In case you missed it this summer, the Counterproliferation Program Review Committee recently submitted a report to Congress on the government's efforts to counter nuclear, biological and chemical proliferation over the past two years. The panel itself includes officials from the Defense, Energy, Homeland Security and State departments.

While the full report is classified, the committee did release an unclassified executive summary outlining its conclusions and recommendations, which include:

Undertake a broad analysis of U.S. and allied non-kinetic capabilities and technologies, which may have CWMD applications, and determine how they may be better exploited;

Develop, test, and deploy improved capabilities for standoff or remote detection of chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological (CBRN) materials related to WMD. The improved capabilities should enable detection from a greater distance than current capability provides, and, for biological threat agents in particular, decrease the time between detection and identification of the biological agent to enable effective warning and treatment;

Develop a range of capabilities to improve U.S. abilities to conduct conventional prompt global strike;

Develop better, or improve existing, coordination mechanisms and information systems to support communities of interest (COI) awareness of ongoing security cooperation activities in foreign regional areas of responsibility;

Develop, test, and deploy capabilities for detection, medical countermeasures, decontamination, and protection against Non-traditional ((chemical)) Agents and emerging biological agents;

Create a global community of interest to matrix existing and future international partnerships to share information to more fully understand all ramifications of the present WMD challenge;

Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the future technology requirements of the nuclear weapons arsenal and stockpile, accounting for the fundamental role of deterrence and the importance of maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent;

Develop, test, and deploy capabilities for enhanced consequence management efforts, communications, awareness (i.e., common operational picture), and infrastructure to improve local responders’ capabilities to deal with mass casualties. Continued exercises and education, training more personnel, and dedicating more resources to preparedness are also needed to improve nation-wide CWMD consequence management capabilities;

Improve foreign WMD consequence management (FCM) capabilities by establishing more international cooperative agreements with allied host nation governments in coordination with DOS and accounting for variations in countries organic capabilities. Specifically, these should define roles, responsibilities, and procedures for host nation and U.S. military WMD consequence management;

Develop, test, and deploy capabilities for improved WMD forensics, to include improvements to coordination procedures among relevant national and local agencies;

Improve intelligence gathering, analysis, and dissemination (e.g., information management systems, decision support systems, sensor development, and intelligence support) regarding state and non-state WMD proliferation and development activities; ((and))

Develop, test, and deploy capabilities to understand and predict the motivations, actions, and reactions of an adversary seeking to acquire and employ WMD against the United States, its interests, friends and allies, whether the adversary is a state or non-state (e.g., terrorist cell -- affiliated or non-affiliated) actor.

-- John Liang
 

By
August 28, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee is expected to mark up the fiscal year 2010 defense spending bill soon after arriving back in Washington from the August recess.

John Bray, a committee spokesman, said in an e-mail today that while there is no official schedule, the Senate panel is expected to review the defense bill in “early” September.

However, multiple sources say the defense subcommittee will mark up the bill on Sept. 9, with the full committee to take it up the following week. The draft legislation would head to the Senate floor the week of Sept. 21.

-- Marcus Weisgerber

By
August 28, 2009 at 5:00 AM

In bilateral maritime security talks that concluded yesterday in Beijing, China urged America to “reduce, and gradually put an end to air and sea military surveillance and survey operations to avoid naval confrontations,”  China's official Xinhua news service said Aug. 27.

In a statement quoted by Xinhua, the defense ministry said, "China believes the constant U.S. military air and sea surveillance and survey operations in China's exclusive economic zone had led to military confrontations between the two sides."

Inside the Pentagon reported earlier this week that senior U.S. defense officials went into the meeting seeking “improved procedures” for avoiding dangerous incidents at sea.

The “special” session -- conducted under the 1998 bilateral Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) -- began Aug. 26 and concluded Aug. 27. Special sessions are convened to address specific matters of concern. Plans for the meeting emerged after several standoffs between Chinese and American naval ships in recent months, including a collision in May between a Chinese submarine and a U.S. warship’s towed sonar array.

Relations between U.S. and Chinese defense officials cooled off last October after China voiced concern about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. China postponed a number of high-level talks between the two countries. In late June, however, Pentagon policy chief Michèle Flournoy rekindled bilateral defense ties by conducting defense consultative talks in China.

-- Chris Castelli

By
August 27, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Navy's 5th Fleet, which operates under U.S. Central Command, released a statement today about Somali pirates' firing on a Navy helicopter:

Yesterday, at approximately 8:00 a.m. local time, Somali Pirates aboard Motor Vessel (M/V) Win Far, fired what appeared to be a large caliber weapon at a U.S. Navy SH-60B Helicopter from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49, embarked aboard USS Chancellorsville (CG 62). No rounds of ammunition struck the SH-60B. The SH-60 crew did not return fire. No personnel injuries resulted from the incident.

CBS News reports it was the "first time pirates have shot at U.S. Navy helicopters conducting daily surveillance flights over areas where pirates anchor hijacked vessels and await ransom."

Video of the incident is online.

More than 30 crewmembers remain as hostages aboard the pirated vessel M/V Win Far.

According to a bulletin issued yesterday by the Office of Naval Intelligence, pirate activity is set to increase near Somalia as monsoon season nears its end.

Piracy attacks around the globe more than doubled to 240 from 114 during the first six months of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008, according to ICC International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB), which says most of the attacks are against vessels supporting the oil industry .

The trend comes as no surprise to readers of Inside the Navy, which reported a decade ago then-Coast Guard Commandant Adm. James Loy's prediction that all maritime nations would face common security concerns.

"Piracy appears to be a growth industry worldwide,” he warned.

-- Chris Castelli

By
August 27, 2009 at 5:00 AM

U.S. news sources today began picking up a story from the Polish Gazeta Wyborcza, which suggested U.S. officials had pretty much already decided to scrap plans to station missile defense assets in Poland and the Czech Republic.

We asked Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner this afternoon if there was any truth to this.

"Nope," he replied in an e-mail.

Of course, the Obama administration's review of the issue, when finished, could very well result in the termination of the Poland/Czech Republic option, or at least a significant tweaking. After all, scientists have called into question the technical feasibility of the undertaking.

But last month, Missile Defense Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly chose the words "standing commitment" in describing the basing plans for the two countries that were hatched under the Bush administration.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

By
August 26, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) announced today that it would host a conference in October to bring government and industry leaders together to discuss new ways to counter improvised explosive devices. According to a JIEDDO statement:

As part of its efforts to defeat the IED as a weapon of strategic influence, JIEDDO will host the 2009 JIEDDO Fall Technology Outreach Conference (JTOC) on October 27-29 in College Park, Maryland.

The JTOC is designed to facilitate innovative cooperation and business opportunities for participating companies and organizations, with the ultimate goal of supporting the warfighter. The fall JTOC provides a forum for representatives from government, industry, academia, and federal laboratories as well as our Coalition partners to network capabilities and expertise in a classified forum.

The three-day event offers conference attendees the opportunity to hear presentations ranging from a Coalition Update to an overview of emerging threats from JIEDDO’s Competitive Strategies Group. In addition to the presentations, attendees can actively participate in comprehensive discussions with JIEDDO program integrators, scientists, warfighters, and intelligence specialists during the panel sessions. Each panel session will focus on JIEDDO’s most urgent technology gaps and highlight the organization’s “Attack the Network” and “Defeat the Device” counter-IED initiatives in various areas.

The panel session topics include:

• Threat Phenomenological Data for Analysis & Experimentation
• Sensor Data & Information Fusion
• Airborne Counter IED Systems
• Roadside IED Defeat
• Signatures Detection
• PBIED & VBIED
• Social Dynamics Analysis: Non-Kinetic Attack
• CREW Update
• Underbelly
• Blasting Cap Defeat
• Predictive Analysis: Advanced Analytics
• SeRF

Attendees can also conduct private meetings with JIEDDO personnel. These 15-minute meetings, held immediately following the panel sessions, are designed to address issues where business confidentiality may be a concern and establish follow-on points of contact. Conference attendees can sign up online and are required to submit a “read ahead” prior to the meeting.

Potential attendees can check out JIEDDO's Web site for more information on the conference.

Click below for InsideDefense.com's recent JIEDDO coverage:

Senate Committee: JIEDDO Funding Belongs in Supplemental Budget

House Authorizers Reallocate, Reduce FY-10 JIEDDO Funding

JIEDDO Moving Forward With Joint Counter-IED Training Stations

JIEDDO, Air Force Developing Sensors to Spot IEDs, Suicide Bombers

-- John Liang
 

By
August 26, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) leaves a vacancy on the Senate Armed Services Committee -- and, most notably, atop the seapower subcommittee.

Kennedy joined the panel in 1983. With his passing, the seapower subcommittee, which he has chaired, will need a new leader.

Next in line is Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), the chairman of the airland subcommitee. After him comes Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), who chairs emerging threats and capabilities.

-- Dan Dupont

By
August 26, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has plenty of advice for the Army when it comes to the restructured Future Combat Systems program.

In a recent report, CSBA president Andrew Krepinevich and research fellow Evan Braden Montgomery called on the Army to develop a modernization strategy that would "avoid repeating the mistakes of the past."

And today, in a new report, Montgomery warns the service against rushing ahead on the ground combat vehicle effort only to prepare platforms that are outdated by the time they are built.

Montgomery predicts the new GCVs "will almost certainly be larger, more heavily armored, and have V-shaped hulls for better protection against improvised explosive devices."

However, he says "sunk costs and time constraints" might keep the Army from coming up with designs that significantly improve on the previous MGV plans.

He particularly stresses the need to ensure a strong link between the new vehicles and the network. To address this challenge, Montgomery recommends the Army "prioritize developing and testing the components of the network and making sure they work together before any new vehicle designs are completed and production begins."

Yet, he warns that the Army's time line of five to seven years for production poses challenges.

According to the backgrounder, "rushing to judgment on a new generation of ground vehicles makes little sense, because it sharply increases the risk that the Army will not adequately resolve the many problems which led to the FCS program's cancellation."

Montgomery argues the Army may be racing ahead for budgetary reasons -- to ensure it can hold onto its funding -- more than strategic ones.

"Because its advantage in conventional warfare is likely to persist for some time, the Army should prioritize developing a modernization plan correctly rather than quickly," he concludes. "At the same time, ((Defense)) Secretary ((Robert)) Gates should maintain his pledge that funding previously earmarked for the FCS program's manned ground vehicles over the next several years will be reserved for the Army's new vehicle modernization program, while also providing the Army with additional time to develop and refine that program -- especially if the results of its soon-to-be-concluded assessment fall short of expectations."

-- Marjorie Censer

By
August 25, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Air Force last week conducted a successful test of a Lockheed Martin long-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, adding to the weapon's flawless test-flight record, according to a service official.

Unlike the baseline missile, which experienced test issues prompting a retrofit of a fuze cable, the JASSM-ER has flown successfully in all five of its test flights dating back to 2006. The extended-range missile can fly more than 500 nautical miles, or twice as far as the baseline.

“The B-1 landed before the weapon impacted the target successfully,” Col. Michael Fantini, the service's chief of combat force applications at the Pentagon (A5RC), said of the Aug. 20 JASSM-ER test during a presentation at a munitions conference in Vienna, VA this morning.

Last month, the Air Force awarded Lockheed a $23 million contract to build 12 JASSM-ER test missiles. Six of the weapons will be used for the development test flight program, while the remaining six will be used in operational tests.

-- Marcus Weisgerber
 

By
August 25, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department has gone viral.

The Joint Staff released a YouTube video today, calling for questions to be submitted via video to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. According to a Pentagon statement:

The chairman intends to use social media to expand the two-way conversation with service members and the public. Mullen expects this conversation to be interactive, similar to the all-hands meetings he conducts in person at bases all over the world.

Those with questions for the Chairman are encouraged to submit videos by visiting http://www.youtube.com/dodvclips. The deadline for video submission is midnight EDT, Aug. 31, 2009. The chairman will answer selected video questions after Sept.1, 2009, through a video podcast posted on YouTube and an interview which will air on the Pentagon Channel.

-- John Liang
 

By
August 24, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon recently issued the latest request for project nominations for the Coalition Warfare Program, this one covering fiscal years 2011 and 2012.

The idea behind the program is to promote closer working relationships between U.S. and overseas coalition partners through cooperative research and development efforts. The program is looking for projects that address critical needs across the range of conflict, from humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping contingencies to high-intensity combat.

The memo, released Aug. 19 by the office of the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, lays out how the Coalition Warfare Program office will proceed:

The CWP funding element supports coalition interoperability solutions that can be fielded rapidly. CWP is a key part of the Department's Building Partnerships initiatives. The program provided supporting funds on a competitive basis to projects that conduct collaborative RDT&E with foreign government partners. CWP can provide up to $1 million per year over two years to individual projects; however, CWP funding will provide only a portion of the overall investment associated with any given initiative and is limited by fiscal constraints. Proposals must include financial and non-financial (e.g.; manpower, facilities, innovative technology) commitments from the sponsor's Service or agency and other DOD activities along with an equitable contribution from committed foreign government partners(s).

The AT&L office also wants a transition plan for each proposal. This plan should show military service or agency funding for follow-on fielding and sustainment.

The first round of proposals are to be submitted by Jan. 15, 2010. Final nominations are due by Feb. 26, 2010. Notification of those selected will go out in late spring or early summer 2010.

-- Thomas Duffy