The Insider

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October 20, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army -- incorporating soldier feedback -- has successfully adapted the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to meet ever-changing theater requirements, Brig. Gen. Robert Brown, deputy commanding general for Multinational Division-North and the 25th Infantry Division, said today.

For instance, a "young soldier" came up with an MRAP modification intended to protect against RKG-3 anti-tank grenades, Brown said, speaking by teleconference at an Oct. 20 Pentagon briefing.

He described the change as "a screen that goes on the outside and causes the RKG-3 to bounce off it and become ineffective." According to Brown, the idea was sent back to the United States, where a counter-IED task force tested it.

"I think we've got about 40 of them right now on MRAPs," Brown said today. "And one attack we've had since then. Can't verify, but it was ineffective. And we think the screen had something to do with it."

Another example, Brown added during today's briefing, was a modification to a counter-sniper screen meant to protect gunners in MRAPs. Though the screen was effective, it "distracted ((the gunner)) from looking, having good observation and being able to stop somebody throwing an RKG-3. There were blind spots."

In response, soldiers devised a system using "a series of fiberglass poles" to allow them to see RKG-3 gunners but still have protection, Brown said.

-- Marjorie Censer

 

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October 20, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn and Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale have postponed their scheduled appearance before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday. The reason? According to a source familiar with the situation: Lynn needs to be in the Pentagon because Defense Secretary Robert Gates is traveling in Asia.

No new date is set for the hearing, which was billed as an opportunity for the senior Pentagon officials to discuss “Defense Costs and Long-Term Fiscal Challenges."

-- Jason Sherman

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October 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

It's official -- President Obama has nominated National Security Agency Director Army Lt. Gen Keith Alexander to lead the recently created U.S. Cyber Command, the Pentagon announced on Friday. The job would come with a fourth star.

The new Cyber Command, at least initially, is part of U.S. Strategic Command. As in the case of other combatant commands, it will consist of several service component commands. The Army, for its part, recently agreed on an orginzational construct for an Army Cyber Forces Command, as Inside the Army reported earlier this month.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

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October 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Adm. Robert Willard is slated today to assume Command of U.S. Pacific Command from Adm. Timothy Keating in a ceremony at the command's headquarters in Hawaii. Keating has held PACOM's top post since March 23, 2007. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen are scheduled to speak at the event.

-- Chris Castelli

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October 16, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The 10 additional C-17s Congress wants the Pentagon to buy in fiscal year 2010 will cost $100 million annually to operate, a sum that will “invariably reduce critical warfighting capability somewhere else in the defense program,” White House Office of Management and Budget Director Pete Orszag, argues in an Oct. 13 letter to key members of the House and Senate appropriations committees.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates reiterates many points in Orszag's missivle in a heartburn appeal to the same lawmakers dated Oct. 14. Both letters warn that President Obama will likely veto the FY-10 defense appropriations bill if it in any way funds the VH-71 presidential helicopter program or the Joint Strike Fighter alternative engine program.

-- Jason Sherman

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October 16, 2009 at 5:00 AM

According to the White House budget office, Defense Department costs for fiscal year 2009 ran .7 percent below what had been projected during a mid-session review last August. In a joint statement issued this afternoon, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner tallied up government spending for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30:

Department of Defense -- Outlays for the Department of Defense (DOD) were $637 billion, $4.4 billion, or 0.7 percent, less than estimated in the ((mid-session review)). There is no single explanation for the differences between projected and actual outlays, but several examples illustrate the types of variance seen in accounts. For example, DOD spent $1.5 billion less than projected for the Air Force to purchase aircraft, in part because prior year supplemental appropriations provided more money than could be used to buy C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, exceeding production capacity. Other examples of lower-than-projected outlays include the contracts to purchase heavy- and medium-wheeled vehicles, where contracts were delayed or protested, slowing outlays by more than $1 billion. In some instances supplemental funds caused higher-than-expected outlays for the purchase of major defense systems, such as for the Navy's purchase of aircraft. In this instance, the purchase of planes had an outlay surge in the second year after appropriations (resulting in an outlay rate $1.3 billion higher than projected).

-- Thomas Duffy

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October 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Congressional Budget Office should check into the cost of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's proposal for increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan by 40,000, Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) said yesterday at a House Budget Committee hearing.

"So have you personally analyzed in any way some of the other estimates that every soldier or serviceman or woman we have in Afghanistan, it costs about $1 million?" Edwards asked Matthew Goldberg, CBO's acting assistant director for national security.

Goldberg noted CBO has focused mostly on Iraq, which has been the bigger operation until now, and that CBO has not distinguished the cost per service member between the two theaters. "If we were to receive a request to look specifically at Afghanistan, we would attempt to make those distinctions and refining estimates," he added.

Edwards faulted Republicans for not seeking such information. "That seems completely inconsistent with their newfound focus on trying to reduce the deficit that, in my opinion, many of them helped create with their irresponsible budgets of tax cuts during a time of war and defense build-up,” he charged.

Meanwhile, the BBC reported last night that the White House is poised to approve McChrystal's troop request. The BBC's Mark Urban discussed the story on Charlie Rose last night. The White House is dismissing the report.

-- Chris Castelli

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October 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn and Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale are scheduled to testify next week on Capitol Hill about "defense costs and long-term fiscal challenges," the House Budget Committee announced yesterday.

The hearing is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 21.

"Additional witnesses may be announced," the committee notes.

-- Chris Castelli

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October 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Obama administration's nominees for top Pentagon jobs overseeing budget and acquisition issues will testify at a Senate confirmation hearing next week.

Christine Fox, the nominee to lead the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CA&PE) shop, and Frank Kendall, the nominee for the Pentagon's No. 2 acquisition job, will be among the witnesses at the Oct. 22 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Fox recently stepped down as president of the Center for Naval Analyses.

Kendall, who would be the deputy to Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter, has served most recently as a managing partner at Renaissance Strategic Advisors.

Also testifying will be Gladys Commons, the nominee to be the Navy's comptroller and Terry Yonkers, who is in line to become assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations and environment.

-- Chris Castelli

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October 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

President Obama has nominated Clifford Stanley to become the next under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, the White House announced today. According to Stanley's bio, as released by the administration:

Dr. Clifford L. Stanley recently served as the President of Scholarship America, the nation’s largest nonprofit, private-sector scholarship organization. As President, Dr. Stanley provided leadership for over 50,000 volunteers in 42 states with a full-time staff of 160 men and women. Prior to assuming this position, Dr. Stanley served on the senior leadership team of the University of Pennsylvania as Executive Vice President. In that capacity, he served as Chief Operating Officer and was responsible to the president for the non-academic functions of the university, such as business, finance, facilities maintenance, and campus security. In 2002, Dr. Stanley retired from the United States Marine Corps with the rank of Major General. During his distinguished 33-year career, he served in a range of leadership positions including Deputy Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, where he was responsible for all doctrine, organization, training and education in the U.S. Marine Corps; Commanding General of the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia; Commanding General, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center; and Director of Public Affairs, Marine Corps Headquarters. Dr. Stanley earned his Doctorate of Education Degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and holds a Masters degree in Counseling from The Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelors degree in Psychology from South Carolina State University.

-- John Liang
 

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October 14, 2009 at 5:00 AM

This morning, after receiving the presidential daily briefing in the Oval Office, President Obama will discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan with his national security team in the Situation Room.

Here’s the list of expected participants, as released by the White House:

Vice President Biden
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (via videoconference)
Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Amb. Susan Rice, Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Amb. Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew
Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Commander in Afghanistan (via videoconference)
Retired Adm. Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence
CIA Director Leon Panetta
Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (via videoconference)
Anne Patterson, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan (via videoconference)
Retired Gen. James Jones, National Security Adviser
Tom Donilon, Deputy National Security Adviser
John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security
Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan

-- Chris Castelli

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October 14, 2009 at 5:00 AM

With the Obama administration recently presiding over its first fiscal year close-out, officials want to make sure work on the FY-09 financial statements goes as quickly as it did in previous years.

The statutory deadline for the paperwork is five months after the fiscal year ends. But during the past four years it took agencies only 45 days to complete the work.

"It is my expectation that federal agencies will continue to meet this accelerated time table, and I hereby request that federal agencies treat 45 days after the end of the fiscal year as a deadline for submitting year-end financial statements," Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag wrote in a memo yesterday.

Of course, not all financial statements are equal. The Defense Department -- partly  because of its sheer vastness, officials say -- has been trying to get its numbers in order for years.

DOD's latest moves toward clean audits are summarized in the periodically updated Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan. The latest version, from March, said auditors considered 45 percent of DOD's $3.8 trillion in assets and liabilities deserving of a  "complete" rating.

-- Sebastian Sprenger

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October 14, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The commander of the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base, ND, has been relieved of command "due to loss of confidence in his ability to command," according to an Air Force announcement released today:

Col. Christopher B. Ayres was removed by Maj. Gen. Roger W. Burg, commander of 20th Air Force. Col. Ayres assumed command in May 2008.

He was not relieved for any alleged misconduct or wrongdoing. Recent incidents during his command, including a vehicle rollover accident involving a Payload Transporter on Aug. 31, 2009, contributed to the loss of confidence.

“We must uphold the highest standards within the nuclear enterprise,” said Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of Air Force Space Command, who approved of the decision. “We must have complete confidence in our leadership as we continue the revitalization of the nuclear enterprise.”

Ayres' firing is not the only bad publicity the base has had to endure in recent years, what with an August 2007 mishap where an Air Force B-52 bomber was inadvertently loaded with live nuclear weapons slated for long-term storage during a flight from Minot AFB to Barksdale AFB, LA. That event led to the resignations of then-Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley.

-- John Liang

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October 13, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scheduled to meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden late this afternoon in the Oval Office, according to the White House.

The meeting is closed to the press. No agenda items disclosed, but Afghanistan is sure to come up. As The Washington Post reported on its Web site yesterday:

President Obama announced in March that he would be sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. But in an unannounced move, the White House has also authorized -- and the Pentagon is deploying -- at least 13,000 troops beyond that number, according to defense officials.

The additional troops are primarily support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police. Their deployment has received little mention by officials at the Pentagon and the White House, who have spoken more publicly about the combat troops who have been sent to Afghanistan.

The deployment of the support troops to Afghanistan brings the total increase approved by Obama to 34,000. The buildup has raised the number of U.S. troops deployed to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan above the peak during the Iraq "surge" that President George W. Bush ordered, officials said.

-- Chris Castelli

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October 9, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army chief of staff has approved the service's latest equipping strategy, describing the "ends, ways, and means the Army will use to achieve equipping balance by Fiscal Year 2011," according to a Sept. 29 memo from Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes, deputy chief of staff for programs (G-8). The memo, obtained by Inside the Army, notes that the strategy intends to "ensure Soldiers have the right amount and type of modernized equipment to meet their mission requirements -- whether in combat, training for combat, operating as part of the generating force, or conducting Homeland Defense and Defense Support to Civilian Agencies missions."

The 12-page equipping strategy, also obtained by ITA, lays out the methods by which the Army properly equips its troops. It also details challenges ahead, such as the increasingly uncertain budget environment.

"Affordability and Risk will be critical issues as the Army looks to move through Balance and into Enduring Readiness, while fielding the new Ground Combat Vehicle and continuing to Reset and recapitalize," the strategy reads. "There must be explicit decision criteria in equipping decisions at all levels."

-- Marjorie Censer