The Insider

November 8, 2010 at 9:13 PM

The U.S. official who headed the negotiations for the follow-on Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty remains doggedly optimistic the pact can be ratified despite Republican gains in the Senate following last week's elections.

"This is the very same treaty that was there on Nov. 1 before the elections," Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation Rose Gottemoeller told attendees of an Arms Control Association forum earlier this afternoon. "It is in the national security interest of the United States after the elections the same way it was before the elections. Swift approval is the right and necessary thing to do."

Gottemoeller emphasized that "now is the time to finish the job. You heard last week President Obama explain, 'This is not a traditionally Democratic or a Republican issue, but rather an issue of American national security.' He noted that passage of the treaty will send a strong signal to Russia that we are serious about reducing nuclear arsenals and a signal to the world that we're serious about nonproliferation."

Gottemoeller's boss also spoke about the treaty today at a separate panel discussion co-sponsored by the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the U.S. Institute of Peace:

Ellen Tauscher, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security, emphasized that having the Senate ratify the treaty, called New START, before newly elected senators take their seats is imperative because the Democrats still enjoy a substantial majority in the chamber.

Republicans picked up six seats in the Senate last week, though they remain the minority party. To ratify the treaty, two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 senators, must approve it. Russia must also agree to the pact.

In September, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the treaty by a 14-4 vote. It is awaiting a floor vote.

The New START, signed by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in April, would allow U.S. inspectors back into Russian nuclear sites, where they have not been since the original START treaty expired last December.

Tauscher said the administration has already answered all possible questions about the deal, noting that since the agreement was signed, there have been more than 25 hearings, and the administration has received nearly 1,000 questions for the record from senators.

"We have a cadre of national security advisers, statesmen, former secretaries of defense, state, that have testified and are supportive of this treaty," Tauscher said. "Virtually a who's who of everybody you can imagine. I can't tell you of anybody of importance and of pedigree that said, 'No, don't ratify this treaty.'"

Last week's elections have made the former chief negotiator of the START I Treaty much more pessimistic about the pact's chances for ratification, however. Amb. Richard Burt, the U.S. Chair of the international Global Zero movement, said at the ACA event this morning that "I think we are rapidly approaching a real crisis in the arms control process" that could "dramatically reverse the good news that happened over the past 18 months."

-- John Liang

November 8, 2010 at 8:45 PM

A recent maritime laser test focused on surface targets was halted mid-test because "an internal component required replacement," Rear Adm. Nevin P. Carr Jr., the chief of naval research, said today.

Speaking with reporters at the Office of Naval Research Naval S&T Partnership Conference in Crystal City, VA, Carr said the maritime laser test took place within "the last couple of weeks" but would not comment on where it took place or what -- if any -- contractors were involved.

"We've had a couple different solid-state laser tests over the last few months," said Carr. "One was focused on some very small [unmanned aerial vehicle]s, and was able to shoot some of those down."

Describing the recent laser test, Carr said: "We put a system on board the self-defense test ship and we're learning things about propagation of laser energy low over the water, which is the most challenging environment for it."

The testing was directed against low-level surface threats -- what Carr called high-speed swarm threats. "So we've got experiments that learned up high and down low, and the down-low part's hard because it's where all the humidity is in particular."

The "down-low" test was called off, Carr said, but that doesn't mean it failed. "It was progressing through the test and we were collecting data and an internal component required replacement. It's something that because this is so new, a decision was made to just stop, take it back, make sure it's prepared right. We're not in a hurry. Everything we do with these systems is new and we're learning more and more things about them. So we get some great data, we went partway down the list of things we want to do and we'll just pick it up again when we get that internal component."

And when will the next test take place? "I'd rather not talk about the specifics," Carr said.

-- Andrew Burt

November 8, 2010 at 5:52 PM

Lockheed Martin, prime contractor for the Joint Strike Fighter, says “aircraft component reliability” continues to hamper test flights of the F-35B, the short take-off and vertical landing variant, while the other two JSF variants -- the conventional tak-off and landing and aircraft carrier variants -- are tracking “ahead” of the 2010 flight test plan.

The F-35 flight test team completed 52 flight tests in October, two more than planned for the month, the company said in a Nov. 4 statement, which also notes:

The CTOL aircraft logged 22 flights against a plan of 17; STOVL jets flew 27 times against a plan of 28; and the CV jet flew three times against a plan of five.  Additionally, the STOVL jet flew supersonically, and at Mach 1.3 has flown faster than any other variant to date, and achieved 7 g’s, the highest load condition to date and maximum design g’s for the STOVL.

The conventional take-off and landing variant, the lowest risk of the three JSF types intended for the Air Force, is 66 flights ahead of the plan while the aircraft carrier variant is three flights ahead, according to the company statement.

The F-35B, meanwhile, was 41 test flights behind schedule at the end of last month.

F-35 program officials are pursuing a multi-faceted approach to improve tempo, including working to obtain higher levels of spare parts from suppliers to keep the aircraft in a flight-ready condition, while completing the analysis and corrective action planning to address the root cause of any issues.

The November goal is a total of 51 flights, according to Lockheed, with an eye toward 394 test flights through December.

-- Jason Sherman

November 5, 2010 at 8:37 PM

Last month, reported that Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter had established new rules for developing and procuring space systems, issuing guidance that effectively concludes work started by his predecessor to pull purchases of unclassified military satellites -- which total approximately $11 billion annually -- under the umbrella of regulations that guide the acquisition of other major weapon systems.

We now have the memo the story was based on. Click here to view it.

From the story:

In an Oct. 18 memo, Carter announced new “space system acquisition procedures,” which include a new requirement that all satellite programs undergo a high-level review during the technology development phase to permit Defense Department decision makers an early opportunity to assess technical maturity and program progress.

That requirement is designed in part to encourage the use of mature technologies in order for programs to hew closely to original cost and schedule estimates, a development that would stand in contrast to DOD's difficulty over the years in delivering satellites on time and on cost.

“So this is a fundamental culture shift,” said Josh Hartman, head of the Center for Strategic Space Studies. Hartman said the new policy aims to discourage the previously common practice in space system acquisition of committing resources and time to mature technologies during system development, efforts more appropriate to focus in military laboratories.

The two-page memo and three-page attachment direct changes to acquisition policy of space systems that are effective immediately and by April will be incorporated into DOD Instruction 5000.02, the Pentagon's definitive set of rules for developing and buying weapon systems.

Carter's directive-type memorandum is the culmination of work begun two years ago when then-Pentagon acquisition executive John Young directed an internal DOD analysis team to examine both the organization and process for buying military satellites, which at that point were managed and acquired though a system that operated in parallel to other major DOD equipment purchases.

-- John Liang

November 5, 2010 at 7:13 PM

The Pentagon recently established a policy governing when, how and in what capacity Defense Department employees can work from home. According to an Oct. 21 memo signed by Clifford Stanley, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness:

It is DoD policy that telework shall be:

a. Actively promoted and implemented throughout the Department of Defense in support of the DoD commitment to workforce efficiency, emergency preparedness, and quality of life. Telework is not an entitlement, but its use can serve as an effective recruitment and retention strategy; enhance DoD efforts to employ and accommodate people with disabilities; and create cost savings by decreasing the need for office space and parking facilities, and by reducing transportation costs, including costs associated with payment of transit subsidies.

b. Authorized for the maximum number of positions to the extent that mission readiness is not jeopardized.

c. Accomplished on a regular and recurring or an ad hoc basis at an approved alternate worksite.

d. Periodically exercised to ensure its effectiveness in continuing operations in the event of a crisis or national emergency (e.g., pandemic influenza).

e. Used to help create employment and return-to-work opportunities for veterans, people with disabilities, and spouses of Service members and employees being relocated.

-- John Liang

November 5, 2010 at 1:15 PM

Executive departments and agencies have been using ad hoc, agency-specific policies, procedures and markings to safeguard and control so-called "controlled unclassified" information, but the White House is moving to change that.

"This inefficient, confusing patchwork has resulted in inconsistent marking and safeguarding of documents, led to unclear or unnecessarily restrictive dissemination policies, and created impediments to authorized information sharing. The fact that these agency-specific policies are often hidden from public view has only aggravated these issues," President Obama writes in a new executive order that establishes a program for managing "controlled unclassified information."

-- Chris Castelli


November 4, 2010 at 7:55 PM

France and the United Kingdom signed a bilateral Defense and Security Cooperation Agreement this week. Analyst Jeffrey Lewis on his ArmsControlWonk blog notes the common stockpile stewardship portion of the pact:

7. We have decided:


b) to collaborate in the technology associated with nuclear stockpile stewardship in support of our respective independent nuclear deterrent capabilities, in full compliance with our international obligations, through unprecedented co-operation at a new joint facility at Valduc in France that will model performance of our nuclear warheads and materials to ensure long-term viability, security and safety – this will be supported by a joint Technology Development Centre at Aldermaston in the UK;

Lewis further notes:

The new facility at Valduc is apparently going to be called EPURE and will replace France’s current hydrodynamic test facility, AIRIX, and presumably obviate the planned Core Punch facility at Aldermaston.

The agreement also includes language concerning NATO and missile defense:

22. NATO remains the fundamental guarantor of Europe’s security. We share the same objectives for the forthcoming NATO Summit in Lisbon. In particular, we are looking for major decisions on reform to ensure NATO’s efficiency and effectiveness. We also want a new Strategic Concept that: makes clear NATO’s continuing commitment to collective territorial defence and to addressing threats to Allies’ security wherever they stem from; addresses new threats to Allies’ fundamental security interests; and underlines NATO’s desire to work with a wide range of partners. In this context, we will pursue closer co-operation across the board between NATO and the EU, and a lasting partnership between NATO and Russia based on practical co-operation and reciprocity.

23. As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance. British and French independent strategic nuclear forces, which have a deterrent value of their own, contribute to overall deterrence and therefore to Allies’ security. These national minimum nuclear deterrents are necessary to deter threats to our vital interests. We will support a decision in Lisbon on territorial missile defence, based on the expansion of the [Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence] system, which is financially realistic, coherent with the level of the threat arising from the Middle East, and allows for a partnership with Russia. Missile defence is a complement to deterrence, not a substitute.

Inside Missile Defense reported in September that NATO officials earlier this summer had inspected the architecture of the Medium Extended Air Defense System -- being developed by the United States, Germany and Italy -- for compatibility with the alliance's ALTBMD Program. That program's goal is the "upgrade, test and integration of NATO's command and control systems and underlying communication network to enable effective information exchanges between various NATO and national missile defence systems," according to a NATO website. Further:

As part of the Joint Project Optic Windmill 2010 exercise, officials "demonstrated the initial interoperability between the MEADS architecture and the ALTBMD architecture to ensure compatibility, interoperability and alignment in moving forward there," Kee told sister publication Inside the Army Sept. 8. "This was the first step of demonstrating that initial interoperability."

The test showed that MEADS and ALTBMD can pass data and "see" the missile tracks picked up by its sensors, Kee explained. NATO officials view the ALTBMD program as a key component in the eventual creation of a missile shield for all of Europe.

-- John Liang

November 4, 2010 at 12:00 PM

The Pentagon has updated its official doctrine for managing Defense Department public affairs activities.

The Aug. 25 Joint Publication 3-61 includes a summary of the changes made to the May 9, 2005, edition. The new version:

  • Updates the mission of joint public affairs (PA) to better reflect its contribution to joint operations; Amends the responsibilities for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs;
  • Adds an overview of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Joint Communication responsibilities;
  • Incorporates an overview of the Defense Media Activity responsibilities;
  • Adopts the term media operations center to represent any type of media support facility instead of joint information bureau or combined press information center;
  • Adds a discussion of the Joint Public Affairs Support Element throughout the document;
  • Discusses capabilities of “visual information” in support of the joint force commander's operational and planning requirements;
  • Adds a discussion of joint PA in domestic operations;
  • Introduces the term “community engagement” replacing the term "community relations";
  • Addresses “strategic communication,” its principles, and how it relates to PA;
  • Adds new appendix describing development and execution of the commander’s communications strategy;
  • Establishes the new terms and definitions for inclusion in Joint Publication (JP) 1-02 for community engagement, joint PA support element, and media operations center;
  • Modifies the terms and/or definitions in JP 1-02 for American Forces Radio and Television Service, combat camera, command information, external audience, internal audience, message, PA, public affairs guidance, public diplomacy, public information, security review, and visual information; [and]
  • Removes the terms and definitions from JP 1-02 for combat visual information, community relations, community relations program, joint information bureau, and PA ground rules.

"Propaganda has no place in DOD PA programs," the doctrine document states. "Effective application of the PA tenets normally results in more effective and efficient execution of PA operations and relationships with the media. They complement the DOD principles of information and describe best practices. The tenets should be reviewed and appropriately applied during all stages of joint operation planning and execution."

The document also lists six tenets:

  • Tell the Truth. JFC’s PA personnel will release only accurate information of officially released information.
  • Provide Timely Information and Imagery. Commanders should be prepared to release timely, factual, coordinated, and approved information and imagery about military operations.
  • Practice Security at the Source. All DOD personnel and DOD contractors are responsible for safeguarding sensitive information.
  • Provide Consistent Information at All Levels. The public often receives simultaneous information from a variety of official DOD sources at various levels.
  • Tell the DOD Story. Although commanders designate only military personnel or DOD civilian employees as official spokespersons, they should educate and encourage all their military, civilian employees, and contractors to tell the DOD story by providing them with timely information that is appropriate for public release.

Inside the Pentagon reported in August that the Defense Business Board in July had recommended merging Joint Staff and OSD functions for public affairs, legislative affairs, legal affairs, personnel oversight and cable services responsible for delivering messages. The board also advocated reducing duplication and overlap in the Joint Staff's J-8 force structure, resources, and assessment directorate and OSD's cost assessment and program evaluation (CAPE) shop as well as the Joint Requirements Oversight Council and the Pentagon's acquisition directorate.

A DOD source told ITP at the time that "back office" functions like public affairs and legal affairs could presumably be joined while preserving the independent advisory role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

-- John Liang

November 3, 2010 at 7:38 PM

While congressional Republicans and Democrats scramble to find their way following yesterday's elections, the Obama administration is taking steps to try to make government programs work better and to be more open with the American public about how the government operates.

The White House budget office today issued a memo to the heads of all government departments that encourages the sharing of data among these departments. But this approach must be done with a recognition of privacy, according to the memo:

Sharing data in external public policy, scientific, and other areas of research is of value to the public and can promote savings. In cases where high-value data contain information that is protected under federal privacy laws, agencies are encouraged, to the extent permitted by law, to develop and implement arrangements that would permit access to these data for research purposes subject to the appropriate safeguards.

-- Thomas Duffy

November 3, 2010 at 6:32 PM

The Army today officially released guidance for a "common operating environment architecture" it will use to tie its stovepiped network together.

As reported in this week's issue of Inside the Army, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli announced the COE effort Oct. 26 during the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting.

"The network represents our number one modernization effort," he said. "One of the most significant challenges we face is interoperability. It's not enough to simply achieve a variety of separate capabilities working alongside each other independently -- or worse -- in conflict with one another. It must be symbiotic."

Chiarelli said the COE would be released later that day, but it was delayed until this morning. The announcement from the service's CIO-G6 states that the COE guidance was officially approved Oct. 20.

The announcement also states the Army will publish a complementary implementation plan in early 2011 that will describe the steps and schedule for bringing Army systems into compliance with the CEO.

"In order to obtain funding for developing and acquiring IT devices or systems, all programs under the Army Acquisition Executive will need to comply with the COE guidance and plan," according to the statement. "The COE Architecture and the Army's overarching 'End State' Architecture will drastically reduce the time it takes to deliver relevant applications to those who need them. The COE augments Army Software Transformation, an effort to standardize end-user environments and software development kits, establish streamlined enterprise software processes that rely on common pre-certified, reusable software components, and develop deployment strategies that allow users direct access to new capability."

The benefits of a COE architecture are lower costs, improved inter-interoperability and easier system maintenance, according to the Army.

-- Tony Bertuca

November 3, 2010 at 4:14 PM

For a sneak peek at how Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee may approach key issues like defense spending, missile defense, major weapons programs and building security by partnering with allies and friendly nations, look no further than the report accompanying the panel's FY-10 National Defense Authorization Bill.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA),  ranking member and now a frontrunner to take over as chairman, was one of two dozen GOP members on the committee last fall who collectively spelled out out issues they would handle differently if in control of the authorization committee.

Their perspective is spelled out in a six-page memo included in the “additional views” section of the report accompanying the FY-10 authorization bill (pages 669 to 674). That authorization bill largely endorsed major changes to DOD's modernization accounts -- including major weapon system terminations -- proposed by Defense Robert Gates in April 2009.

On topline defense spending:

We are concerned that the President’s Budget did not adequately increase defense spending. After taking into account the migration into the base budget of items previously funded in the supplemental the net effect is less than 2% real growth. As a result, the committee had limited headroom in which to address many of the programmatic cuts that accompanied Secretary Gates’ so-called ‘‘reform budget.’’ While the committee included a number of measures in the mark that redress some of the shortcomings found in the Administration’s request, including adopting an amendment which authorized much of the Army and Marine Corps Unfunded Requirements, we question some of the spending priorities of the committee.

Most notably, this committee provides for an additional $402.6 million above the President’s Budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) defense nuclear nonproliferation program which was already increased from the previous year’s request. We are concerned that this funding was provided without a formal request by the Secretary of Energy or the Administrator of NNSA and without an integrated, interagency plan for securing nuclear materials. We will carefully monitor NNSA’s execution of these funds in the coming year.

On missile defense:

We believe that such additional funding could have been used to address other priorities such as missile defense. Congress, and particularly the Armed Services Committees in both chambers, has the unmistakable obligation to ensure that the Department of Defense develops and deploys defensive capabilities that protect the American people, our forward-deployed forces, and our allies. This includes promising programs in the area of missile defense.

On the same day in which President Obama acknowledged that a nuclear-armed North Korea posed a ‘‘grave threat’’ to the world, the committee chose to sustain the Administration’s $1.2 billion cut to missile defense. In a year where Iran and North Korea have demonstrated the capability and intent to pursue long-range ballistic missiles and nuclear weapon programs, and a track record for widespread proliferation—elements of a genuine national security threat—the committee endorsed reductions to capabilities that would provide a comprehensive missile defense system to protect the U.S. homeland, our forward-deployed troops, and allies.

The committee sustained the Administration’s 35% reduction to the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program. This national missile defense system, located in Alaska and California, is designed to protect the U.S. homeland from long-range ballistic missiles fired either in anger or by accident. We are deeply disappointed that the committee rejected an amendment to restore funding to the program. The amendment provided a modest increase of funds to complete a partially constructed missile interceptor field in Alaska where all the equipment had already been purchased. It sought to pay for this program with funds set aside to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program. After witnessing Kim Jong Il walk away from the Six-Party talks, kick out U.S. and International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, and vow to be recognized as a nuclear weapons state, it is unrealistic to expect that there will be any dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program within the fiscal year. We believe that those resources could have been better spent on real, near-term capabilities to protect the United States. Should progress be made in negotiations with North Korea such that dismantling their nuclear complex becomes possible, funds could be reprogrammed at that time.

It is equally troubling that the committee did not enact amendments to reverse the Administration’s decision to reduce and terminate pioneering missile defense programs like the Airborne Laser, Kinetic Energy Interceptor, Multiple Kill Vehicle, and Space Tracking and Surveillance System, or restore their funding. The Department of Defense has yet to deliver to the committee any analysis or new requirements to justify these sweeping decisions. Furthermore, we cannot reconcile the simple fact that as the missile threat is increasing --substantiated by our own intelligence agencies --funding for our missile defense capabilities is decreasing.

The committee supported increased funding for theater missile defenses, which are important capabilities in protecting our forward-deployed troops and allies from shorter-range missiles. However, with a net $1.2 billion cut, we have been forced to trade national missile defense for more theater missile defense. Setting up such a false choice between the defense of our homeland and defense of our forward-deployed troops and allies is neither smart nor sound policy. Both are necessary and both could have been adequately funded without such deep cuts.

On working with allies:

We commend the inclusion of provisions taken from the bipartisan NATO FIRST bill that was introduced earlier in the year by Representatives Turner and Marshall. A strong commitment to transatlantic security is necessary as the Administration engages in a reset policy with Russia. We regret that the committee did not adopt the Administration’s proposals relating to building the capacity of partners in order to increase coalition partner nation participation in Afghanistan. These proposals are necessary to be able to quickly implement the new Afghanistan policy. Without these authorities we miss an opportunity to reduce the burden on our deployed forces in Afghanistan.

We are pleased the committee endorsed an amendment that sought to increase support for a European missile defense system proposed to be located in the Czech Republic and Poland. As the amendment noted, ‘‘Missile defense promotes the collective security of the United States and NATO and improves linkages among member nations of NATO by defending all members of NATO against the full range of missile threats.’’ Though the committee rejected authorizing additional resources, it did support the creation of a framework to evaluate alternatives, should they be pursued by the Administration. However, we would note that based on independent analysis requested by the committee, we have seen no alternative that provides a more cost-effective and operationally available solution to protect the U.S. and Europe than the current proposal.

We appreciate the Chairman’s commitment to work with us to address an amendment that would establish binding legislation to ensure that any treaty or agreement with Russia that seeks bilateral reductions in our strategic nuclear forces does not include limitations on U.S. missile defenses, space, or advanced conventional weapons capabilities. These important conventional capabilities continue to remain vital to our military forces and the defense of the American people and our allies, and are not collateral for U.S. negotiators to trade away to persuade Russia to reduce its nuclear forces.

On the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship:

We had concerns about the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program and the relief that was being provided to the cost cap in the subcommittee mark. Current law caps LCS end costs at $460 million per vessel, beginning in fiscal year 2010, with the fifth and follow-on ships. The committee has now raised the cap or delayed implementation of the cap for three years in a row. This program was proposed to Congress on the basis of affordability, but the price tag of the latest ships is approximately 250% greater than the original price estimate.

We have increased congressional oversight of this program; but, particularly in light of the passage of the Weapon System Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 in May, the first legislative act of this committee should not be approving a unilateral increase to the end cost of this program. This is especially true since the Navy has not officially requested a change to the current legislation. Therefore, we were pleased that the committee agreed to support an amendment to strengthen section 121, regarding the LCS cost cap. The bipartisan amendment imposes additional requirements before any changes to the cost cap may go into effect. This amendment is intended to send the signal that this committee is serious about controlling costs, does not adjust cost caps lightly, and is determined that the Navy make a knowledge-based decision prior to procuring additional Flight 0 LCS vessels.

On "transparency and defense oversight":

Finally, we believe that to carry out our constitutional mandate to raise and support the armed forces, the committee expects a transparent and open relationship with the Department of Defense where the independent views of the Service Chiefs are represented to the Congress by the civilian senior leadership in a timely manner.

That is why we are disappointed that the committee did not fully adopt an amendment that would have provided a statutory framework for the Service Chiefs to provide their independent view to the Congress.

-- Jason Sherman

November 3, 2010 at 3:07 PM

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), the presumptive next chairman of the panel, isn't waiting for the transfer of power in January to put forth his priorities. In a statement issued this morning, McKeon outlined what he termed "a broad vision for national defense policy that emphasizes winning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while also investing in the capabilities and force structure necessary to protect the United States from threats of tomorrow." Further:

America remains a nation at war.  More than 150,000 of our sons and daughters are deployed around the globe in the fight against al-Qaeda and its terrorist allies. The top priority of the Armed Services Committee, as outlined in the House Republicans' Pledge to America, will be to work in a bipartisan manner to provide those brave warfighters the resources and support they need to succeed in their missions and return home safely. . . .

In carrying out our constitutional mandate, we must place a renewed emphasis on oversight.  Our efforts will be relevant and directly tied to the front-line war fighter in Iraq and Afghanistan and the protection of the U.S. homeland. Our oversight will be focused and aggressive, while upholding the integrity of the military and its personnel.

Our citizens have spoken, and they want a defense budget that is sufficient to address the challenges of today and the threats of tomorrow. One percent real growth in the base defense budget over the next five years is a net reduction for modernization efforts which are critical to protecting our nation's homeland.

According to the statement, McKeon's priorities for the 112th Congress include:

* Ensuring our troops deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world have the equipment, resources, authorities, training, and time they need to successfully complete their missions and return home;

* Building on the Armed Services Committee’s strong bipartisan tradition of providing our warfighters and their families with the resources and support they need; and

* Investing in the capabilities and force structure needed to protect the United States from tomorrow’s threats, while mandating fiscal responsibility, accountability, and transparency from the Department of Defense.

McKeon said congressional Republicans "are committed to passing a National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 that is not weighed down by the current majority's social agenda items."

-- John Liang

November 3, 2010 at 2:47 PM

The House Republicans' policy agenda that was rolled out in September, called the "Pledge to America," states that the GOP will "fully fund missile defense" to protect the homeland and support U.S. allies. No specifics are given, but Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee were very upset when the Obama administration cut $1.2 billion from missile defense funding in the fiscal year 2010 defense budget.

As part of that move, the administration eliminated the Kinetic Energy Interceptor program and the Multiple Kill Vehicle program, reduced the scope of the Airborne Laser program (renaming it the Airborne Laser Testbed and shifting it from the Missile Defense Agency to the office of the director of defense research and engineering) and committed to fielding 30 ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California. The previous Bush administration wanted 44 interceptors.

Riding a wave of Tea Party anger over government spending, among other issues, the newly elected House GOP majority may have to explain to its base why missile defense should be given any more money if you consider the argument laid out by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. During a May 13, 2009 appearance before the House Armed Services Committee, Gates defended the administration's moves this way:

In terms of your larger point, I would say that the security of the American people and the efficacy of missile defense are not enhanced by continuing to put money into programs that, in terms of their operational concept, are fatally flawed or research programs that are essentially sinkholes for taxpayer dollars.

Gates walked the committee through each program and gave his reasons for why each should be cut. The KEI effort was, at the time of Gates' testimony, in its 14th year of development even though the program plan called for five years. Gates said KEI was "a program that wasn't going anywhere." In its justification material sent to Congress with the FY-10 budget, MDA laid out several technical problems affecting the KEI program. "Even if such technical problems could be solved without excessive cost and schedule implications, we have become concerned about the cost-effectiveness of the KEI interceptor, which is currently estimated at $75 million per unit," the agency said.

Gates said the Multiple Kill Vehicle was aimed at a stronger missile threat, such as from China or Russia, and not the threat posed by rogue states like Korea and Iran. MKV was "incompatible" with the policies of both the Obama and Bush administrations in that sense, Gates said.

The operational concept behind the ABL does not hold up, Gates pointed out. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, testifying with Gates, told the committee he felt the ABL "has been a flawed concept for years." Gates pointed out that if the target were Iran, the concept calls for ABL to "orbit almost entirely within the borders of Iran. This is probably a little problematic."

Eight days after Gates and Mullen spoke to the committee, MDA Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly explained why 30 ground-based interceptors provided the protection needed against a possible North Korean missile attack. O'Reilly explained that there was never any analysis done to justify the 44-interceptor limit and the threat projections done in 2002 that supported the 44 number "were off by a factor of 10 to 20 in that regard."

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Inside Missile Defense obtained a May 2010 report, marked "for official use only," that contains the following threeat assessment:

While both Iran and North Korea have demonstrated technologies that are directly applicable to the development of ICBMs, neither has yet to show any evidence of developing an ICBM-class warhead.

-- Thomas Duffy

November 3, 2010 at 2:10 PM

As expected, the Democratic leadership of the House Armed Services Committe took a beating last night, leaving way up in the air the question of what comes next. As Danger Room reports:

Take a last look at the membership list of the House committee. Longtime Democratic leader and outgoing chairman Ike Skelton of Missouri lost his seat. So did next-up John Spratt of South Carolina. So did next-up-next-up Solomon Ortiz of Texas (though a recount is possible). So did naval-subcommittee chairman Gene Taylor of Mississippi. So did Georgia's Jim Marshall, New Hampshire's Carol Shea-Porter, Virginia's Glenn Nye, Maryland's Frank Kratovil, Alabama's Bobby Bright and New York’s Scott Murphy. Three other Democrats retired from the committee -- one of them, Pennsylvania's Joe Sestak, lost a Senate race last night -- and things look tough for Washington's Rick Larsen as well.

So say hello to likely incoming chairman Buck McKeon of California. As we reported last month, McKeon's a big proponent of missile defense, a skeptic of the Obama administration's plan to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan next July, and no great fan of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. One of his key allies, Virginia Republican Randy Forbes, has blasted the administration for neglect of the Navy and Air Force and general "lack of concern . . . for the men and women in uniform." Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plans to cut $100 billion in defense overhead in five years is going to get the fine-tooth-comb treatment from the committee. Expect hearings on all of these issues practically as soon as Speaker-in-Waiting John Boehner gavels the next Congress into session in January.

That's hardly the only upcoming fight. Next month, the Pentagon will complete a military study on repealing the ban on open gay service. Unless the Senate can pass a stalled defense bill during the lame-duck session before January, the ban will remain in place until Congress chucks it. Only now it faces much steeper chances in a GOP-run House: repeal of the ban only passed the House this year after Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania -- who, by the way, just lost his seat -- added it as an amendment to the House version of the defense bill, to much GOP criticism. Forbes, the incoming chairman of the readiness subcommittee, wants to get the results of the military study before considering an end to the ban. But even if the study finds no problems with repealing it, wide GOP House majorities make it unlikely to get through the chamber. (And the Senate isn't so hot on it either.)

More to come.

-- Dan Dupont

November 2, 2010 at 7:11 PM

The Joint Strike Fighter alternate engine program is not on the ballot, but its future may hang in the balance of today's midterm election results. If predictions of a Republican surge and takeover of the House come to pass, the political exigencies of the moment -- in particular, pressure to reduce federal spending -- could make it difficult for lawmakers who for the last five years have added money to the budget for the F136 program in the name of sound public policy to continue to do so.

Should control of the House flip, it will likely be many weeks before Congress sorts out how it will proceed with stalled fiscal year 2011 appropriations and authorization bills. Meantime, under a stopgap funding measure the Pentagon is permitting the F136 program to continue development by utilizing carryover fiscal year 2010 funds, a sum that will keep the effort going until early December.

In the event Congress enacts another continuing resolution to fund government operations beyond Dec. 3, the F136 program is in trouble. Under rules issued by Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- who is leading the effort to kill the F136 program -- can unilaterally turn off funding for the F136 because it did not receive support in all four proposals of the FY-11 defense bill proposed by congressional panels that oversee military spending. In a Sept. 30 bulletin to federal department heads, OMB explains:

If either the House or Senate has reported or passed a bill that provides no funding for an account at the time the CR is enacted, the CR automatic apportionment does not apply to the account. Instead, you must submit a written apportionment request to OMB if you want to request funds for the account during the period of the CR. OMB will apportion funds in such a manner as not to impinge on the final funding prerogatives of Congress.

-- Jason Sherman