The Insider

By Tony Bertuca
September 6, 2021 at 5:00 AM

Washington think tanks are hosting several discussions about the future of counterterrorism this week.

Wednesday

Senior defense officials speak at the Defense News Conference.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on supply resilience and U.S. cooperation with South Korea.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts a discussion on challenges to future NATO enlargement.

The Atlantic Council hosts a discussion on the future of counterterrorism.

Thursday

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville speaks at the DefenseOne Conference.

The Heritage Found host a discussion with retied Adm. Mike Rogers, the former chief of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.

The Aspen Security Forum hosts a discussion with former government officials about the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Friday

The Brookings Institute hosts a discussion on the legacy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The American Enterprise Institute hosts a discussion on the future of counterterrorism.

By Tony Bertuca
September 3, 2021 at 3:22 PM

The Defense Department, in keeping with a provision in the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, has officially disestablished the post of chief management officer.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, according to a Pentagon statement, has directed the CMO's responsibilities be transferred to different offices throughout DOD.

All CMO authorities with now revert back to the deputy defense secretary's office, while functions and responsibilities of the former CMO will transfer various Office of the Secretary of Defense principal staff assistants.

"The Director of Administration and Management (DA&M) will be designated as the Performance Improvement Officer and serve as the senior official for Defense Reform under the Deputy Secretary," DOD said. "The oversight of the Defense Business Systems will be shared by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Chief Information Officer of the DOD. The Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (ATSD) for Intelligence Oversight (IO) will be combined with the Privacy Civil Liberty and Transparency (PCLT) functions under a new official called the ATSD (PCLT)."

The Pentagon will review the new arrangement after a year to assess "any potential need for adjustments," according to DOD.

Congress fist established the CMO job in 2017 intending it become the third-most senior job in the Pentagon. But lawmakers, backed by recommendations from the Defense Business Board, soon came to view the position as a hindrance to the Pentagon, despite defense officials' repeated insistence it had found billions in savings.

The Defense Business Board, however, reported in May 2019 that the CMO position had been "mostly ineffective" and was "never set up for success."

By Briana Reilly
September 3, 2021 at 2:30 PM

The U.S. and Indian air forces have agreed to work together to develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles, a move that officials say represents the first co-development project between the two countries under their bilateral defense cooperation framework.

Announced by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center today, the more-than-$22-million project represents the biggest collaboration on defense research, development, test and evaluation between the two countries, according to the press release, which noted that costs will be "shared equally" between the U.S. and India.

Launched under the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, the effort seeks to design, develop, demonstrate, test and evaluate technologies ranging from small UAVs to launch systems, avionics and more, per the release.

The effort will be carried out by the Air Force Research Laboratory and India's Defense Research and Development Organization.

The announcement doesn't share details on the timeline for developing the UAVs, nor does it note when the agreement was officially signed. Brig. Gen. Brian Bruckbauer, chief of the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate, noted the project agreement came "after many months" of investment from U.S. and Indian officials.

By John Liang
September 3, 2021 at 2:24 PM

This Friday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on Navy fiscal year 2022 funding, a recent Northrop Grumman contract protest decision and more.

We start off with a look at which parts of the extra $25 billion added by House authorizers in the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill would go to help the Navy:

House topline amendment boosts Navy programs

Multiple Navy programs would receive increased funding after the House Armed Services Committee vote on Wednesday to authorize an additional $25 billion in defense spending above the president's request for fiscal year 2022.

More Navy news:

Golden: Congress, White House have to provide Navy more guidance before service creates shipbuilding plans

Congress and the Biden administration need to provide the Navy with strategic guidance before the service develops its long-term fleet size and shipbuilding plans, House Armed Services Committee member Jared Golden (D-ME) said Thursday.

GAO sustains Northrop Grumman protest on NGJ-LB program

The Government Accountability Office has upheld a protest Northrop Grumman filed against a contract awarded to L3Harris Technologies for the Next Generation Jammer-Low Band Capability Block 1.

The Army's Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System could be fielded as soon as fiscal year 2023:

Army hopes to field FTUAS in FY-23

The Army plans to field the first increment of the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, the replacement for the RQ-7B Shadow drone, by the second quarter of fiscal year 2023, according to an Army request for white papers released Sept. 2.

Some missile defense news:

Congressional support for continuing Hawaii radar project in FY-22 grows

Support is mounting in Congress to again reinstate funding for a Hawaii-based ballistic missile defense radar, with the House Armed Services Committee authorizing $75 million for the project and setting September 2028 as the target for initial operations -- keeping the effort alive in defiance of Pentagon proposals for the last two years to shelve it.

House authorizers are looking to streamline the acquisition of software and emerging technologies:

House panel adopts software acquisition, emerging technology amendments

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday during its mark-up of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill adopted several amendments aimed at streamlining acquisition of software and emerging technologies.

A bunch of Defense Department advisory boards have been re-instated:

Austin re-establishes key DOD advisory boards

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is directing several Pentagon advisory committees to resume their activities following a "zero-base" review he ordered earlier this year amid reports that former President Trump had used them in a lame-duck attempt to reward loyalists.

The Government Accountability Office recently released a report on satellite communications:

Space Force poised to begin narrowband satellite communications AOA in FY-22

The Space Force is moving forward with an analysis of alternatives on future narrowband satellite communications in fiscal year 2022 and has set aside $12 million for the effort, defense officials indicated in a Government Accountability Office report released publicly this week.

Document: GAO report on MUOS

By Tony Bertuca
September 3, 2021 at 2:00 PM

The Pentagon has established a new supply chain resiliency working group to address "systemic barriers currently limiting supply chain visibility, conduct resiliency assessments, and develop effective mitigation actions."

Acting Pentagon acquisition chief Gregory Kausner said the working group will aim to fix a problem that took "50 years to evolve."

"A comprehensive strategic approach will take time, dedicated attention, and resources," he said in a statement. "Effective implementation begins with understanding our vulnerabilities and the necessary responses, so we can focus our efforts to build greater resiliency across critical supply chains."

The Pentagon's focus on supply chain challenges was heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed vulnerabilities across the defense industrial base.

The new working group is aligned with a February executive order mandating the federal government conduct a comprehensive supply chain review.

The Pentagon noted in a statement that "multiple recent National Defense Authorization Acts require DOD to better understand its supply chains, and the current and future threats to their stability and security."

The new Pentagon working group will be led by the Office of Industrial Policy.

"The working group is a down payment on a long-term problem," said Jesse Salazar, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy. "It coalesces efforts from across the department and provides a mechanism to develop a framework and proactive strategy to change the way DOD does business, and better secure our supply chains."

The working group's review will span a two-year period and will "leverage work already being performed" across the federal government, the Pentagon said.

The group's initial findings will be included in the annual report on the defense industrial base, which is expected early next year.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
September 3, 2021 at 10:32 AM

The Army will host a virtual industry day Sept. 21 for a program to add tele-operation capabilities to the Assault Breacher Vehicle, according to an Aug. 31 notice.

The ABV is an armored tracked vehicle that is designed to clear minefields and breach obstacles for armored maneuver forces. It removes obstacles with either a mine plow or a combat dozer blade.

A remote-control system would allow ABV operators to dismount the vehicle and operate it from a distance while it performs its most dangerous tasks, according to the notice. Operators would control the ABV from a Bradley M2A3 with specialized command-and-control systems.

"The ABV integration kit will be composed of several components, allowing remotely controlled mechanical movement and communication between the ABV and control vehicle," the notice stated. "The [remote-control system] provides the option for either manned or unmanned operations."

Contractors will have to design their own interfaces to add remote operation to the ABV, as well as the controls that will be in the Bradley, according to the notice. Only members of the Defense Automotive Technologies Consortium will be able to participate in the program.

The most dangerous missions, such as breaching, could become the first roles where the Army uses unmanned systems in place of soldiers, Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, said earlier this year.

By Ethan Sterenfeld
September 2, 2021 at 4:30 PM

The Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office seeks to retrofit hybrid-electric powertrain technology onto the humvee and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle fleets, according to an Aug. 26 notice.

Hybrid technology would make the vehicles more capable and reduce fuel consumption, according to the notice. Hybrid vehicles can produce more onboard electrical power, without towing generators, which would be valuable for future capabilities that require large amounts of electricity.

“To remain competitive on the battlefield, our military vehicles require significantly more electrical power to support new and future high-energy capabilities such as silent mobility, reduced signature management, lasers, and microwave systems,” the notice stated. “Additionally, while increasing performance and power generation capabilities, it is equally important to reduce the fuel and logistical support required.”

The hybrid vehicles should increase automotive performance, including range, acceleration and fuel economy, without any increase in the gross vehicle weight, according to the notice. Vehicles can be modified to accommodate batteries, so long as the changes do not compromise crew compartment space.

Hybrid vehicles should be able to provide power at a range of voltages and in both direct and alternating current, according to the notice. They should also include anti-idle technology, which turns off the engine and relies on batteries for auxiliary power when the vehicle is stationary.

RCCTO wants whitepapers from companies and academic institutions that could design and prototype the hybrid modifications for the vehicles in 15 months or less. Responses are due Sept. 15, and RCCTO plans to make multiple prototype Other Transaction Authority awards for the project.

The proposals should include commercially available components as much as possible, according to the notice. RCCTO hopes for a technology readiness level of 7 and a manufacturing readiness level of 5.

Humvee production has ended, although recapitalization continues, so hybrid technology would have to be integrated onto existing vehicles. The JLTV is in production, and the notice included the possibility that future production could include hybrid technology on new vehicles.

“While the JLTV is in production, it is conceivable the Army could modify future production awards to include a hybrid electric variant,” the notice stated.

A service official said in July that the Army could include humvees when it adds electric powertrains to the light tactical vehicle fleet.

Industry has shown high levels of interest in the upcoming electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle, a six-seat truck that is expected to be the first hybrid or fully electric vehicle the service fields.

By John Liang
September 2, 2021 at 2:56 PM

Boeing announced this week David Joyce has been elected to the company's board of directors, while former Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani will retire from the board at the end of 2021.

Joyce retired from General Electric as vice chair in 2020, where he also served as president and CEO of GE Aviation from 2008 to 2020, according to a Boeing statement. He worked at GE for more than 40 years.

Giambastiani joined the board in 2009 after retiring from the Navy as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In 2019, he was appointed to serve as the chair of the board's committee on airplane policies and procedures, which was formed to review Boeing's company-wide policies and processes for airplane design and development.

"After an intensive five-month review, the committee recommended several actions that have been implemented to strengthen Boeing's safety practices and culture, including: creating a permanent Aerospace Safety Committee, which Admiral Giambastiani has chaired since its inception; establishing a Product and Services Safety Organization reporting to senior company leadership and the Aerospace Safety Committee; realigning Engineering teams into a unified organization under the Chief Engineer to further strengthen the Company's engineering function; establishing a formal Design Requirements program; enhancing the company's Continued Operation Safety Program; re-examining flight deck design and operation assumptions; and expanding the role and reach of the company's Safety Promotion Center," the statement reads.

By Aidan Quigley
September 2, 2021 at 2:54 PM

The Marine Corps will review its withdrawal from Afghanistan but not create a formal commission to investigate, a service spokesman told Inside Defense Thursday.

Maj. Eric Flanagan, a spokesman for Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, said there is no intent to create a formal commission to review the withdrawal.

Instead, Berger will follow the traditional service "hot wash" model of improve and sustain, Flanagan said. Berger has done similar reviews of other big events in the past, according to Flanagan.

The commandant "wants his headquarters staff to ensure we pause and take a look back at the recent events and critique what went well and what can improve," Flanagan said via email.

Berger said Wednesday that the service wanted to study what went right and wrong during the withdrawal and what the service can learn going forward.

In deciding the structure of that evaluation, Berger said the Marine Corps is looking at the Holloway Commission, which studied the failed 1980 effort to rescue hostages in Iran, and the Long Commission, which studied a 1983 terrorist attack at the Beirut International Airport.

"While it's relatively fresh in our minds, we need an open, honest critique, or a commission, or whatever it is that cracks open what are the options that were available, who made what decisions at what time," he said. "Not so we can penalize or hang somebody by a yardarm, but actually so we can learn."

By John Liang
September 2, 2021 at 1:57 PM

This Thursday INSIDER Daily Digest has news on the defense budget topline, Army procurement spending and more.

The House Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2022 defense policy bill's topline will match the one passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this summer:

House panel lifts defense policy bill topline by $25B

The House Armed Services Committee voted 42-17 to authorize an additional $25 billion in total defense spending above the president's request for fiscal year 2022, aligning it with a version Senate lawmakers passed last month and setting the stage for congressional appropriators to possibly do the same when a final, bipartisan spending deal is hammered out in the coming months.

More on the House bill, which the committee passed early this morning:

New 'Buy American' provision added to defense policy bill

Rep. Donald Norcross (D-NJ) was successful in adding a "Buy American" amendment last night to the House Armed Services Committee's version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill that would require the Pentagon to begin procuring more materials for major defense acquisition programs from domestic sources.

House panel boosts Army procurement budget

Several Army programs would see higher authorized funding under an amendment approved by the House Armed Services Committee that authorized a $25 billion increase in defense spending over the president's fiscal year 2022 budget request.

More Army news:

Army leaders discuss future force structure for artillery, air defense

Air defense and field artillery units will expand and shift to higher echelons as both become more prominent within military strategy, Army officials said Aug. 31 at the service's Fires Conference at Ft. Sill, OK.

The Pentagon's No. 2 civilian spoke this week at the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Showcase on Commerce:

Hicks: DOD will take 'meaningful action' to reduce barriers for small businesses

The Pentagon is working with the White House and Small Business Administration to streamline the process for small businesses to enter the federal contracting process, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks said Wednesday.

Last but certainly not least, the latest from our colleagues at Inside Cybersecurity on the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program:

CMMC accreditation body clarifies details of approval process for assessment organizations

The accreditation body behind the Pentagon's Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program has established new processes to speed the authorization of assessment organizations that want to become part of the CMMC ecosystem.

By Audrey Decker
September 2, 2021 at 11:05 AM

The Navy's last Zumwalt-class destroyer Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002) recently conducted builder's trials.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and the Navy tested the ship's capability and readiness through at-sea and in-port demonstrations, according to the Navy.

The Johnson is the third and final Zumwalt-class ship to be added to the destroyer fleet.

The program fell behind on the delivery of the hull, mechanical and electrical delivery, which was initially scheduled for December 2020.

The Johnson will now complete combat systems installation and activation, according to the press release.

By Briana Reilly
September 2, 2021 at 10:19 AM

Nicolas Chaillan, the Air Force's chief software officer, announced today that he's resigning from the post he's held for the last two-and-a-half years.

First hired by the Defense Department in August 2018, Chaillan transitioned to the chief software role in the Air Force in May 2019, where he has helped lead the service's secure software development initiative, DevSecOps, and more recently, served as the Joint All-Domain Command and Control CSO for the Joint Staff's J-6.

Announcing his resignation in a LinkedIn post, Chaillan lamented the lack of funding and support for his work, writing "it is time" to move on.

"It seems clear to me that our leaders are not aligned with our vision in pursuing agility, the importance of DevSecOps, continuous delivering of capabilities, nor, most importantly, the need to fund teams, like Cloud One and Platform One, that are making things happen for the Department, and is a catalyst for change across the Government," he wrote.

He didn't comment on what his next role may be, saying he's planning on spending time with his family and enjoying "some deserved peaceful sleep knowing that our nation is more secure thanks to the work we did!"

The service's first chief software officer, Chaillan in a separate comment wrote that he proposed a replacement for his position to leadership, though he didn't name that individual.

By Tony Bertuca
September 2, 2021 at 9:01 AM

The House Armed Services Committee, after 16 hours of legislative debate, voted 57-2 to pass its version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill early this morning.

The committee considered 780 amendments, one of which would authorize $25 billion more for total defense spending than what the White House requested in April. The increase, which was passed 42-17, aligns the bill with one passed by Senate lawmakers in July.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) released a statement after the bill was passed.

"For the sixty-first consecutive year, the Armed Services Committee has fulfilled its critical responsibility and completed, on a bipartisan basis, a defense bill that will bolster our national security and provide for the common defense," he said. "This year the defense bill focuses on transforming [the Defense Department] to better deter our adversaries while taking advantage of new, innovative technologies and implementing more cost-effective approach to develop and acquire crucial platforms. The future of our defense depends on our committee's tough policy discussions about what DOD needs, how to fill these needs, and the necessary tradeoffs to ensure the United States maintains a competitive edge over its adversaries."

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the committee's ranking member, also released a statement applauding the bill's bipartisanship.

"We face threats from a rising China and a re-emerging Russia, and the Biden-Harris administration chose to propose a weak defense budget," he said. "I am pleased that the Armed Services Committee once again passed a National Defense Authorization Act out of the Committee this morning. We did so in a bipartisan manner, including voting together to address the shortfall in the Biden budget. I thank Chairman Smith and our Republican and Democrat colleagues for their hard work on this year's [National Defense Authorization Act] mark-up. I look forward to this bill moving to the floor and being signed into law."

Smith, referring to Rogers, said "democracy is not always easy."

"But having a willing counterpart in the legislative process is critical to ensuring our military has the essential resources they need to combat threats at home and abroad," he said. "As the NDAA now moves to the floor, I look forward to our continued partnership."

By Aidan Quigley
September 1, 2021 at 3:45 PM

The House Armed Services Committee passed amendments to its version of the fiscal year 2022 defense authorization bill that would push the Defense Department to provide Congress more information about the Navy's nuclear sea-launched cruise missile development efforts.

House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Turner (R-OH) proposed the amendments.

One amendment limits the availability of some funds for the defense secretary until DOD submits an analysis of alternatives for the nuclear SLCM, while the other limits funding for the Navy secretary until Congress receives more information about the Navy's recommendation to defund the nuclear SLCM.

Acting Navy Secretary Tom Harker issued a fiscal guidance in June that called for the service to stop funding the development of the nuclear SLCM.

The Trump administration restarted the program in 2018 after the Obama administration retired the nuclear-armed Tomahawk missiles. Some Democrat lawmakers moved to block the nuclear SLCM development as Republican lawmakers have pushed to fund the program.

Turner’s amendment withholds 25% of the Navy secretary’s travel funding until the service submits “all written communications by personnel of the Department of Defense regarding the proposed budget amount or limitation for the nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missile contained in the defense budget materials” to the congressional defense committees.

The other amendment blocks 25% of the travel for Office of the Secretary of Defense personnel other than the defense secretary and deputy defense secretary until DOD provides the congressional defense committees the analysis of alternatives for the nuclear SLCM and a briefing on that document.

By Aidan Quigley
September 1, 2021 at 2:59 PM

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger said Wednesday the Marine Corps is planning to establish a commission to examine the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The U.S. wrapped up its 20-year war in Afghanistan earlier this week, following a suicide bombing by the Islamic State Khorasan at Kabul’s airport that killed around 170 civilians and 13 U.S. service members last week. The Taliban quickly took over the country this summer as the U.S. prepared to leave.

Berger, speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event, said the Marine Corps wants to study what went right and wrong during the withdrawal and what the service can learn going forward.

“While it’s relatively fresh in our minds, we need an open, honest critique, or a commission, or whatever it is that cracks open what are the options that were available, who made what decisions at what time,” he said. “Not so we can penalize or hang somebody by a yardarm, but actually so we can learn."

Berger said in deciding the structure of the commission, the Marine Corps is looking at the Holloway Commission, which studied the failed 1980 effort to rescue hostages in Iran, and the Long Commission, which studied a 1983 terrorist attack at the Beirut International Airport.

Berger said the past 10 days have not changed his assessment that the Marine Corps’ service in Afghanistan was “worth it.”

“Is it worth it? Yes,” he said. “Were there decisions that were made that we ought to go back and scrub? Absolutely yes."

The commission should review what options the service had, Berger said.

“How did this surprise us, that in the span of 11 days, it so fundamentally changed?” he said. “So those are things, critically, as a government, as a military, we absolutely need to unpack."