The Insider

By
May 20, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is now officially just that, sworn in to the position yesterday, according to the service. A former Mississippi governor and ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the 75th secretary took his oath of office during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Mabus replaces B.J. Penn, who was filling the role on an interim basis following the departure of former Navy Secretary Donald Winter on March 13.

In addition, according to Mabus' spokeswoman, Navy Under Secretary Robert Work was sworn in to his post this morning. A retired Marine Corps colonel, Work was previously a naval analyst and vice president at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Mabus and Work were confirmed by the Senate on Monday. During an April 28 Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing, Mabus and Work pledged to improve the Navy’s acquisition workforce.

-- Rebekah Gordon
 

By
May 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon tomorrow will dispatch two C-17s laden with food, water trucks and tents to Pakistan as part of a humanitarian relief effort announced today by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell said today in a press briefing.

The Defense Department, according to a White House fact sheet, plans to provide $10 million worth of goods and equipment as part of a $110 million U.S. government aid package to help people displaced by the Pakistani military offensive against the Taliban.

-- Jason Sherman

By
May 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has tapped Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, a Navy SEAL who commands the 4th Fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, to be his new senior military assistant.

Kernan's nomination for the position and a third star was sent to the Senate on Friday, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters today, along with Gates' new picks to lead operations in Afghanistan -- Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the director of the Joint Staff, and Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, Gates' current senior military assistant.

-- Jason Sherman

By
May 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told House lawmakers today the Air Force needs 243 Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptors to maintain air superiority.

During testimony before the House Armed Services Committee today, Schwartz said: “243 is the right number and 187 is the affordable force.”

The Air Force chief's answer came in response to a question from Rep. Rob. Bishop (R-UT), who asked if the Pentagon's decision to end production of the fifth-generation fighter at 187 aircraft was purely budget-driven or a requirement.

Schwartz's comments come the week after Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a Senate panel that the Air Force did not need any more Raptors.

-- Marcus Weisgerber

By
May 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army does not require more active -duty end strength authority than it now has, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said today.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Casey at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee he'd like to give the Army temporary additional end strength through the end of fiscal year 2009 to provide “some latitude." Additionally, Lieberman has introduced an amendment to the FY-10 budget resolution that would boost the Army's active size by 30,000.

Though he did not reject outright the idea of a temporary increase, Casey said what he's “not ready to sign up for just yet is whether we need to increase the active Army beyond 547,000,” he told the committee.

“An active Army of that size plus the Guard and Reserve -- that's 1.1 million folks and, if the demand comes down, we should be able to provide the country with sustainable capability at appropriate deployment ratios at 1.1 million.”

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Casey said he has discussed with Defense Secretary Robert Gates the proposed increase, and they have opted not to support it.

“It comes down to it's about a billion dollars to have that increase, and that's a lot of money,” Casey said.

-- Marjorie Censer

By
May 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

President Obama has announced plans to nominate J. Michael Gilmore to be the Pentagon's director of operational test and evaluation. Here is his bio, as released by the White House:

J. Michael Gilmore most recently served as Assistant Director for National Security at the Congressional Budget Office, where he was responsible for CBO's National Security Division, which performs analyses of major policy and program issues in national defense, international affairs, and veterans affairs. Before joining CBO in 2001, Dr. Gilmore was the Deputy Director for General Purpose Programs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Program Analysis and Evaluation. In that position, he was responsible for developing, formulating, and implementing Secretary of Defense policies on all aspects of Department of Defense general purpose programs. In his 11 years in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, he began by analyzing strategic defense and military satellite communications programs and later, as part of the Cost Analysis Improvement Group, directed teams of analysts in preparing estimates of the costs of defense programs. Prior to his career in government, he was a defense analyst for McDonnell Douglas Corporation and a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he performed research on nuclear fusion. Dr. Gilmore received a Ph.D. and M.S. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, and a B.S. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

-- Chris Castelli

By
May 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Senate Armed Services Committee says the Senate voted last night to confirm the following nominations:

* Gov. Raymond E. Mabus, Jr. to be Secretary of the Navy * Mr. Robert O. Work to be Under Secretary of the Navy * Mr. Andrew C. Weber to be Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs * Mr. Paul N. Stockton to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs * Mr. Thomas R. Lamont to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs * Mr. Charles A. Blanchard to be General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force

-- Chris Castelli

By
May 19, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told the House Armed Services Committee today the service plans to release a request for proposals for the KC-X tanker competition in June or July. The goal is to award a contract in mid-fiscal year 2010.

Speaking about the KC-X program last Friday, David Van Buren, the acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, said:

We're in the process now internally within the department of going though the acquisition plan, the execution, to be able to then come out to industry in the middle part of this year.

Schwartz and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley are on the House side of Capitol Hill this morning to discuss the service's FY-10 budget proposal. The duo are scheduled to brief their spending request to senators on Thursday.

-- Marcus Weisgerber

By
May 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon officials are asking Congress for the one-year renewal of a soon-to-expire authority under which officials may pay foreign tipsters through allied government representatives, according to a string of legislative proposals sent to lawmakers last week.

The years-old DOD Rewards program allows the defense secretary to "pay a monetary amount, or provide a payment-in-kind, to a person as a reward for providing United States Government personnel with information or nonlethal assistance" valuable in conducting operations or anticipating attacks against U.S. forces, according to law.

The Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, enacted early last year, gave DOD the additional authority to use foreign intermediaries to offer and pay these rewards -- up to $5 million. The authority to use intermediaries -- not the program as a whole -- is set to expire at the end of this fiscal year.

But defense officials only began transferring rewards through allied officials earlier this fiscal year, after guidance from former Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England took effect in mid-September, a section-by-section analysis of the legislative proposals states.

Here is the key graph from the analysis:

"The authority to offer and make rewards by acting through government personnel of allied forces is currently in use in Afghanistan. The Commander, United States Central Command, is supportive and expects to expand this method of offering and making rewards. The authority was not implemented until fiscal year 2009 and requires more time to mature and develop based on adjusted national and theater strategies."

-- Sebastian Sprenger

By
May 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Remember the Marine Corps’ new Harvest Hawk gunship program, which we told you about in March?

Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway said Friday the program remains on track to field aircraft this summer in Afghanistan.

“You know, Marine commanders have lusted for years over the AC-130s that the special ops communities have,” he told an audience assembled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “And again, because we consider air to be an asymmetric advantage, we want to take it to the wall in terms of what our capacities are. We know that our KC-130Js have long loiter capability that they can generally stay outside the envelope of air defense fires. And so we've created a roll-on, roll- off package that takes about six or eight hours to transform an aircraft that might be hauling men and equipment to become an aircraft overhead with ISR and with sting.”

The Harvest Hawk is no AC-130, Conway conceded, noting the special operations aircraft is very expensive and has some very sophisticated systems.

“But our ISR we think is sufficient for the battlefield we face,” he added. “We think a 30 millimeter cannon out the side of that aircraft, a Hellfire capability that can be launched from that aircraft, and the other things associated with it then are what we need. And I think you're going to see it in the theater before the end of this calendar year. We're pretty excited about it.”

-- Chris Castelli

By
May 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen said today he does not know of any U.S. aid to Pakistan that has been improperly diverted to advance the Pakistani nuclear weapons program.

"I am not aware of any U.S. aid that's gone towards nuclear weapons, save that which is very focused in the last several years -- last three years, three or four years, on improving their security, which is exactly what we'd like, and they've done that," he told an audience at the Brookings Institution.

We noted last Thursday Mullen's comments on the topic on Capitol Hill. During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, he acknowledged Pakistan is expanding its nuclear weapons program, a point that caused Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) to voice concern. The New York Times published a story on the subject today.

Mullen did note this morning he is encouraged by the Pakistani government’s efforts to fight insurgents.

-- Chris Castelli

By
May 18, 2009 at 5:00 AM

In an effort to bolster its KC-X tanker proposal team, Boeing has put former HH-47 boss Rick Lemaster in charge of its Air Force KC-767 program, Inside the Air Force has learned.

Boeing brass approved the move just a few weeks ago, and Lemaster set up shop at Boeing's offices in St. Louis last week. The move comes in the wake of the Pentagon's cancellation of the combat search-and-rescue helicopter effort, which Lemaster led for Boeing for a number of years.

“Rick Lemaster recently became Boeing's KC-X/USAF Tanker Program Manager,” a Boeing spokesman confirmed this afternoon. “His valuable experience both as program manager for our winning CSAR-X bid and as a former career acquisition officer in the U.S. Air Force make him well-suited to help lead our efforts in competing and winning the next KC-X Tanker competition.”

Long considered the underdog, Boeing's tandem-rotor HH-47 won the lengthy Air Force CSAR-X competition, which was mired by industry protests and numerous delays.

In another move, Greg Rusbarsky, who was slated to become the KC-X program manager if the Air Force selected the KC-767, has become the effort's chief engineer. Dave Bowman remains Boeing's vice president and general manager of tanker programs, reporting directly to Integrated Defense Systems President, Jim Albaugh.

Boeing's former tanker boss, Mark McGraw, left the program last summer and is working in the company's training systems sector.

-- Marcus Weisgerber

By
May 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

During a House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), the committee's ranking member, asked Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey whether the decrease in procurement spending in the administration's fiscal year 2010 budget request represents the “start of a procurement holiday.”

Though Casey said “it certainly is too early to tell,” he added that he doesn't “feel that it is” -- and that the Army has “benefited substantially from a plus-up in our investment accounts over the last several years.”

In fact, he said of the holes in the service's equipment, the Army has “filled more than I would have thought possible.”

For more on Casey's testimony -- and what he told reporters during breaks in the hearing -- check out this story on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program as well as the next issue of Inside the Army, which will be posted to InsideDefense.com late today.

-- Marjorie Censer


 

By
May 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Air Force today announced that it plans to make Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, the permanent headquarters for the service's cyber-fighting arm -- the 24th Air Force.

This comes after years of fits and starts for the numbered air force, which was originally going to have major command status -- a proposal viewed by many as the Air Force's attempt to establish itself as the lead service for defending the nation in the cyber arena.

However, this notion didn't exactly go over well with everyone in the Pentagon. Public relations flaps over an ad campaign depicting the Air Force as all that protected America from cyber devastation, distracting scandals involving nuclear weapons and subsequent leadership changes led the service to downsize the cyber arm to a numbered air force, reporting to Air Force Space Command, that would be responsible only for protecting the service's networks.

The 24th Air Force's new home of San Antonio makes good sense in that Texas has a fairly robust high-tech economy and nearby Austin is host to the main campus of the University of Texas and its research facilities. Other bases that were vying to host 24th Air Force were Barksdale AFB, LA, Langley AFB, VA, Offutt AFB, NE, Peterson AFB, CO, and Scott AFB, IL.

A provisional command has been working toward the official stand-up at its temporary home of at Barksdale just outside of Shreveport, LA, for more than a year.

Now that the Air Force has made its choice, service officials will have to wait until summer to get the green light to stand up the command at Lackland while the Air Force conducts and environmental impact study to ensure the new mission will not harm the local environment. This. however, is not likely to be a problem because the online-oriented command will require little “brick and mortar” development, said provisional cyber command chief Maj. Gen. William Lord earlier this year.

-- John Reed

By
May 15, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Just because missile defense programs like the Multiple Kill Vehicle, Kinetic Energy Interceptor and Airborne Laser have experienced billions of dollars' worth of cost overruns and technical problems doesn't mean they should be canceled or cut back, according to the co-chair of the Congressional Missile Defense Caucus.

"The reality is that any time you're on the cutting edge of innovation and doing things that are extremely technologically challenging, there are going to be a lot of failures," Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) said today at a National Defense University Foundation breakfast. "Failure nearly always is the best teacher, and it takes you in a more productive direction at some point," he added.

In its fiscal year 2010 budget request, the Pentagon is recommending the cancellation of the KEI and MKV programs as well as not building a second prototype ABL aircraft. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at a Senate hearing yesterday that "the policy of the Bush administration and the policy of this administration has been to develop a missile defense against rogue nations, not against China and Russia. And the Multiple Kill Vehicle, in addition to schedule and cost and technology issues, was designed against a far more capable enemy than either North Korea or Iran are going to be in the next 10 to 15 years."

But for Franks:

The reason I feel it's so vital that we at least make the effort to defend ((those programs)) is because first of all, MKV, that's what . . . the opposition is saying, that 'You can't do anything with decoys or multiple targets.' Well, that's why we wanted a Multiple Kill Vehicle! My God! I don't want to sound too dramatic here but it's just astonishing to me that they say, 'Well, this is a problem, and we're going to cut the very thing that possibly could address it. And we're not only just cut it, we're going to wipe it out.'

KEI "had been restructured in 2007 to emphasize development of a high-acceleration booster," the Missile Defense Agency's FY-10 budget justification documents state, adding:

However, we have encountered considerable technical issues and delays during development, such as repeated first and second booster case failures, thrust nozzle concerns, overheating of avionics, thermal battery canister failure and C-Band transponder failure during shock testing.

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.

During May 13 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Gates said programs such as KEI are “essentially sinkholes for taxpayer dollars.”

On ABL, Gates told the Senate committee yesterday that he has a "problem" with the program's operational concept, in that:

It would have required buying a fleet of about 20 747s. And the other difficulty is that they have to orbit close enough to the launch site so that, if it were Iran, the orbit would be almost entirely within the borders of Iran, and if it were against North Korea it would be inside the borders of North Korea and China. And I just think operationally that's not going to happen. So we'll keep the research going.

For his part, Franks said this morning:

I don't think anybody will argue with the fact that no matter where we go with missile defense, I cannot perceive a time when the most effective time to defend yourself is ((not)) in boost phase. . . . Where do we have to go to where that paradigm would no longer be in place? And yet, those are the very systems that we're cutting.

-- John Liang