The Insider

By Jason Sherman
September 9, 2010 at 6:04 PM

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell today reiterated the Defense Department's plans to select a winner in the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker program this fall.  During a press briefing, Morrell was asked about a Sept. 4 Reuters story that said the target date for awarding the Air Force aerial refueling tanker “just got murkier.”

“No longer is mid-November necessarily the moment of truth in the rematch pitting Chicago-based Boeing Co. against Airbus parent EAD, its European rival,” the wire service reported in a story touted as an “exclusive,” noting the announcement on who will build the fleet of 179 aircraft could come as late as Dec. 20, technically the last day of fall on the calendar.

Morrell said the story “was a little overblown.”

“We've been consistent on this from the get go. We anticipate awarding of this contract this fall. . . . We have never offered more clarity than than that. And yet, that is a pretty precise period of time,” he said, noting that the fall season begins Sept. 21 and ends Dec. 21.

By John Liang
September 8, 2010 at 3:55 PM

The Missile Defense Agency has identified $1.4 billion in the Pentagon's six-year budget plan for the Next Generation Aegis Missile (NGAM) program.

In answers to questions submitted to MDA after a July 29 industry day with agency Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, which were recently posted on Federal Business Opportunities, MDA writes:

The $1.4B figure that LTG O'Reilly mentioned was referring to the funding within MDA's POM12 budget for the Product Development Phase (covering years FY12-16.) The number is a requested amount. No funds for FY-12 have been appropriated yet.

MDA anticipates contract awards for the NGAM program "in the second quarter of FY-11," the document states. When asked about the "technology maturation contact awards time line vs. the concept definition time line," MDA responds: "We intend to award additional technology maturation contracts in FY-11."

As to a question about the "funding stream," the agency answers: "The planning profile for this effort includes approximately $130 million between the years of FY11-13. The profile is notional and may change. It is roughly linear." However, the next question asks whether there is $45 million available "per year or total" for the concept definition and technology development phase, to which MDA responds: "The planning profile for this effort includes $135 million between the years of FY11-13. The profile is notional and may change."

In response to a question about the agency's focus on countering intercontinental ballistic missile threats and whether "longer-range" short-range ballistic missiles and medium-range ballistic missiles "should be in the trade space," MDA writes: "The priority is to maximize performance against ICBMs. But, the Government is also interested in the performance gain and loss trades between threat classes."

As to whether industry should "consider the inventory and consider the fact that other interceptors can handle the shorter-range threats," MDA states: "The allocation and use of a mixed missile inventory will not be part of this contract."

When asked whether the agency is looking for a "new or modified" kill vehicle, MDA responds: "The Kill vehicle configuration is part of the trade space."

MDA expects all the missile components to have "at least" a Technology Readiness Level 5 "at the start of product development," according to the document.

By Pat Host
September 7, 2010 at 7:30 PM

Boeing today announced a major realignment of its military aircraft sector, shrinking it from six divisions to four.

The defense giant is consolidating its Boeing Military Aircraft (BMA) business and appointing new leadership. The four new divisions are Global Strike, based in St. Louis and led by Shelley Lavender; Mobility, based in Ridley Park, PA, led by Jean Chamberlin; Surveillance and Engagement, based in Seattle and led by Bob Feldmann; and Missiles and Unmanned Airborne Systems, based in St. Charles, MO, and headed by Debbie Rub.

The realignment will take effect Oct. 1, according to a company statement released this afternoon.

Boeing Military Aircraft President Chris Chadwick said the new alignment will allow BMA to meet national and global requirements for the next decade and beyond.

"This new structure supports BMA's progression from a product-based business to a capabilities-based business, focusing on supporting our customers in the United States and increasingly important international markets," Chadwick said. "It is consistent with initiatives under way throughout the entire Boeing defense business that will allow us to remain competitive and grow."

Perhaps the most notable name in the leadership shuffles is Chamberlin's; she currently is the vice president and general manager for Boeing NewGen tanker program, which is the company's candidate for the Air Force's $35 billion next-generation aerial refueling tanker contract. Before that appointment, Chamberlin was vice president and general manager for BMA's global mobility systems division, leading programs including the C-17 Globemaster III airlifter.

Chadwick also announced a new BMA leadership team position -- operating executive -- which will be filled by Phil Dunford. Dunford will be responsible for managing BMA's Engineering, Supplier Management and Production Operations functions.

By John Liang
September 7, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Northrop Grumman recently demonstrated a sensor for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that could be used to detect boosting ballistic missiles, according to a company statement released today.

The AN/AAQ-37 Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System (DAS) "successfully detected and tracked a two-stage rocket launch at a distance exceeding 800 miles during a routine flight test conducted aboard the company's BAC 1-11 test bed aircraft," the statement reads. Further:

"The DAS could fill critical capability gaps in the area of ballistic missile defense (BMD)," said Dave Bouchard, program director for F-35 sensors at Northrop Grumman. "We have only scratched the surface on the number of functions the F-35's DAS is capable of providing. With DAS, we've combined instantaneous 360-degree spherical coverage, high frame refresh rates, high resolution, high sensitivity powerful processors and advanced algorithms into a single system. The number of possibilities is endless."

An operational DAS system is comprised of multiple DAS sensors whose images are fused together to create one seamless picture. DAS successfully detected and tracked the rocket during a nine minute, two-stage, flight period from horizon break until final burnout through multiple sensor fields of regard. Unlike other sensors, DAS picks up targets without assistance from an external cue. Because DAS is passive, an operator does not have to point the sensor in the direction of a target to gain a track.

"The DAS software architecture already includes missile detection and tracking algorithms that can be applied to the BMD mission," Bouchard added. "The results of the flight test were extraordinary. We found that the data gathered during this flight validated our performance predictions. In fact, we knew we could have seen the rocket at a longer distance."

The AN/AAQ-37 DAS is a high resolution omni-directional infrared sensor system that provides advanced spherical situational awareness capability, including missile and aircraft detection, track and warning capabilities for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. DAS also gives a pilot 360 degree spherical day/night vision, with the capability of seeing through the floor of the aircraft. Northrop Grumman is now exploring how the existing DAS technology could assist in several additional mission areas, including Ballistic Missile Defense and irregular warfare operations.

Using fighter aircraft as missile defense platforms is a concept that has been gaining traction in recent years.

Last year, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz called for his service to partner with the Missile Defense Agency to study the possibility of using fighter jets, bombers and drones to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles. As Inside Missile Defense reported in July:

If eventually adopted, the concept could give the service a more prominent seat at the table in the missile defense world, which is dominated by Army and Navy interceptors. The Air Force currently tracks and provides targeting data for those systems through Defense Support Program satellites.

Right now, the Air Force does not have a "shooter" in the missile defense fight. It plans to use the Airborne Laser Boeing 747 for this mission; however, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recommended keeping the effort in a research-and-development status due to its extremely high price tag and what Gates calls a questionable operational concept.

To that end, the Air Force explored the Air-Launched Hit-to-Kill concept in Unified Engagement 2008. The wargame concluded that "several approaches may be operationally suitable for employment from Air Force fighters or other aircraft," Schwartz wrote in a June 2 memo to MDA Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly.

The concept proposes using modified Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) missiles or Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) weapons to shoot down different types of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The THAAD-based system would be "shorter than a 600 gallon external fuel tank and weigh approximately 1,600 pounds," according to an April 24 white paper included with the memo. The document is marked "for official use only." The system could be carried externally on F-15 and F-16 fighters. Follow-on development of this "upper-tier capability" would include an F-22A and F-35 internally carried interceptor system.

The AMRAAM-based Net Centric Airborne Defense Element (NCADE) "would provide lower tier or endo-atmospheric intercept capability," according to the document.

The use of fighter aircraft "increases the range of equivalent surface-based missiles 3 to 6 times," the document states.

By John Liang
September 3, 2010 at 7:15 PM

U.S. Joint Forces Command is seeking to soothe the concerns of contractors who work for the command in the wake of Defense Secretary Robert Gates' recent recommendation to dissolve JFCOM. According to a command statement issued today:

Navy Capt. Frank J. Hruska, USJFCOM’s business manager, said that decisions  regarding the command’s transition have yet to be made, so he has asked the command’s business partners to hold steady for now.

“The recent recommendation to disestablish U.S. Joint Forces Command has raised significant questions and concerns among the command’s support contractors and valued industry partners,” he said.  “During this period of transition and uncertainty, it is important that we continue to focus on the mission.”

Hruska said in the current climate, it is most efficient to maintain current ordering vehicles and to plan for their possible transfers if they are determined to be necessary for future DoD mission support.

“USJFCOM will maintain existing contract vehicles and continue to develop   their potential successors and any new ones in synchronization with ongoing Department of Defense and USJFCOM transition planning,” he said.

USJFCOM will continue to provide releasable information to its industry partners to enable them to make sound business decisions, Hruska said.  He encouraged partners to continue following the command website,, for updates and announcements of industry outreach sessions.

By John Liang
September 3, 2010 at 5:12 PM

During a press briefing in Afghanistan earlier today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked how the U.S. military will measure success in that country at the end of this calendar year. His response:

Well, one of the things -- I mean, this is one of the things that we've been asking of -- in the assignment basically given to General Petraeus and the Afghans and General Rodriguez and so on, is, okay, what are the benchmarks, what are the criteria by which we will judge we are making progress?

Some of those are fairly evident.  Others they're still developing.  One that obviously is important is, is the ANA meeting its goals in terms of recruitment and retention?  How about the quality of the ANA as well as the quantity?  The same thing with the Afghan National Police.

So those are some -- two of the measures that are obviously important.  But they are in the process of developing the criteria or the -- the criteria by which we will be able to assess whether or not we're making progress.

By Marcus Weisgerber
September 3, 2010 at 2:56 PM

The Pentagon yesterday awarded Lockheed Martin a $315.6 million contract for five C-130J-based aircraft using wartime supplemental funding from 2008 and this year, according to a Defense Department announcement.

Three baseline C-130J aircraft and one Marine Corps KC-130J were funded using fiscal year 2008 overseas contingency operations money, and one Air Force HC-130J aircraft was funded using FY-10 OCO dollars At this time, $250.7 million has been obligated.

Last month, the Defense Department provided Congress an initial report on its cost, schedule and performance projections for an $8 billion Air Force effort to recapitalize the service's fleet of HC/MC-130 aircraft.

The HC/MC-130 program, which was launched in 2008 with initial acquisitions to meet urgent war needs, has evolved into a formal major defense acquisition program. As of June, Lockheed had received orders for 288 C-130J aircraft, 196 of which have been delivered to the Pentagon and allies.

By John Liang
September 2, 2010 at 8:03 PM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has rescheduled a workshop aimed at getting industry ideas for mining data obtained through social networks without infringing on the privacy of individuals from this month to next month, according to an amended notice posted this week on Federal Business Opportunities:

In recent years, interest in social networks has dramatically increased. Massive amounts of social network data are being collected for military, government and commercial purposes. In all three sectors, there is an ever growing need for the exchange or publication of this data for analysis and scientific research activities. However, this data is rich in private details about individuals whose privacy must be protected and great care must be taken to do so. A major technical challenge for social network data exchange and publication is the simultaneous preservation of data privacy and security on the one hand and information utility on the other. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO) is requesting information on areas of research related to the technology required to meet this challenge.

Responses to DARPA's request for information are now due by noon on Sept. 10, and an agency-sponsored workshop has been pushed back from Sept. 27-28 to Oct. 4-5, according to the FedBizOpps notice, "in Arlington, VA, for the purpose of reviewing and discussing current and future research relevant to this RFI. Information discussed at this workshop may assist in the formulation of possible future areas of DARPA research with the objective of creating tools and techniques for the anonymization of social network data."

By John Liang
September 2, 2010 at 4:08 PM

The Government Accountability Office came out with a report this week on increasing competition in federal contracting, and uses the Defense Department as an example of where congressional action might help in bringing that about:

Some degree of noncompetitive contracting is unavoidable, such as when only one responsible source can perform the work; and in some cases competition is impractical due to the government's reliance on contractors stemming from decisions that were made long ago. Recent congressional actions to strengthen competition opportunities in major defense programs may take some time to demonstrate results. Further, OMB's efforts to reduce agencies' use of high risk contract types may help agencies refocus and reenergize efforts to improve competition. Despite these actions, other targets of opportunity still exist, but to take full advantage of them, it will be necessary to challenge conventional thinking to some extent. Key among these are establishing an effective, adequately trained team of contracting and program staff working together, starting early in the acquisition process. Competition opportunities should be considered when requirements are initially developed, and as complex programs mature and the government gains more knowledge about what it needs. Because program officials have an essential role in the acquisition process, as do contracting officers, it is just as important for them to advance competition whenever possible. Given the nation’s fiscal constraints, it is not acceptable to keep an incumbent contractor in place without competition simply because the contractor is doing a good job, or to resist legitimate suggestions that competition be imposed even though it may take longer. As discussed in this report, some agencies have implemented the leadership and accountability to make progress in this area, such as breaking out requirements to facilitate competition. However, there is no requirement to assess the circumstances under which competitive solicitations receive only one offer to potentially bring about a greater response from the market place. The competition advocates, in their unique role and in the context of OFPP’s call to reinvigorate their role, have the potential to implement changes to practice and to culture. However, to do so they need to be situated in the right organizational position and able to bring to bear the acquisition knowledge and leadership to engender change.

Consequently, GAO recommends that the administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy do the following:

* Determine whether the (Federal Acquisition Regulations) should be amended to require agencies to regularly review and critically evaluate the circumstances leading to only one offer being received for recurring or other requirements and to identify additional steps that can be taken to increase the likelihood that multiple offers will be submitted, with the results of the evaluation documented in the contract file.

* As part of efforts to reinvigorate the role of the competition advocate, issue guidance to federal agencies regarding appropriate considerations when appointing competition advocates, such as placement within the organization, skill set, and potential methods to effectively carry out their duties.

* Direct agencies to require their competition advocates to actively involve program offices in highlighting opportunities to increase competition.

Some of the people who oversee those acquisition programs within DOD, at least, will have to be military and not civilian, Inside the Pentagon reports this morning:

The Pentagon's procurement shop has officially designated numerous acquisition posts to be "key leadership positions" that must be filled by military officials of a certain rank.

In an Aug. 25 memo to the military services and defense agencies, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's No. 2 acquisition official, lays out guidance for the department's critical acquisition functions.

The "key leadership positions" (KLPs) listed in the memo require "a significant level of responsibility and authority and are key to the success of a program or effort," writes Kendall, the principal deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. He signed the memo in an acting capacity for Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter.

The services and defense agencies can designate any job a KLP so long as it meets the criteria, but the memo declares certain types of positions are required to have that status. These include program executive officers; deputy program executive officers; program managers for acquisition categories I, IA and II efforts; deputy program mangers for acquisition category I efforts; and senior contracting officials.

By Marcus Weisgerber
September 2, 2010 at 3:03 PM

The President has nominated Air Force Space Command chief Gen. Robert Kehler to become the next head of U.S. Strategic Command, replacing Gen. Kevin Chilton, who will retire, according to a Pentagon document.

But perhaps the most notable part of the Sept. 2 memo (from Lt. Gen. Richard Newton, the Air Force's deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, announcing the leadership changes) is that it all but confirms Air Combat Command chief Gen. William Fraser will become the Air Force's next chief of staff.

Last month, Inside the Air Force reported that Fraser would likely become the service's next chief.

Chilton -- who has led STRATCOM since 2007 -- has been highly admired among the Air Force ranks and had often been rumored to be a candidate to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Of late, Chilton's name has also been tossed around as a potential candidate for the Air Force chief slot. However, numerous current and retired general have said Fraser is the leading candidate for that position.

By John Liang
September 1, 2010 at 8:57 PM

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Howard "Buck" McKeon (D-CA), readiness subcommittee Ranking Member Randy Forbes (D-VA) and oversight and investigations Ranking Member Rob Wittman (D-VA) are demanding to know the legal basis behind Defense Secretary Robert Gates' proposed closure of U.S. Joint Forces Command.

In a letter sent yesterday to Gates, the lawmakers write:

The House Armed Services Committee supports your efforts to achieve budgetary growth in force structure and modernization accounts, but have growing concerns about the complex process being used to achieve the reductions and eliminations necessary to achieve that growth. While all of us desire efficient government, the Department's aggressive, four track approach to finding efficiencies throughout the Department could lead to critical capability gaps without deliberate oversight review.

Forbes, in a statement accompanying the letter, said: "If the decision to close JFCOM is as deliberate as the Department of Defense claims it was, then there is no reason they should not respond to a request from Congress for information related to the decision. This is our second request for this information, and we will continue to ask for it until we are given answers."

Specifically, the lawmakers' letter requests the Pentagon to provide the following documents by Sept. 10:

1)    A copy of the Secretary of Defense General Counsel’s legal opinion, along with supporting rationale, that concluded that the closing of U.S. Joint Forces Command does not trigger a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action.

2)    A copy of the report/written recommendation provided by the Director of Cost Assessment and Performance Evaluation and other senior staff that included a further analysis of each of the elements of the decision.

3)    Any business case analysis prepared by the Department of Defense that documents the extent to the decision will produce savings, reduce duplication and overhead in the defense enterprise, and instill a culture of savings and restraint across the Department.

4)    The terms of reference/ implementation memo provided to the task force led by the Secretary of Defense Chief of Staff and to the Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, detailing guidance and expectations for implementation of these decisions.

Forbes said in the statement that he had initially requested the items at an Aug. 10 committee briefing, but nothing had been received since then.

Last month, members of the Virginia congressional delegation challenged the legality of Gates' plan to close JFCOM and lambasted the Defense Business Board's study -- on which the move to close the Virginia facility was partially based -- as "superficial research" lacking "analytical rigor."

By John Liang
September 1, 2010 at 4:21 PM

The Missile Defense Agency plans to host an industry day next week to discuss its draft request for proposals for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program, according to an announcement posted this morning on Federal Business Opportunities.

The event will take place at The University of Alabama in Huntsville on Sept. 8 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. According to the notice, briefings will be held on:

1) Transition Strategy;

2) Demarc Study Update;

3) Safety Limitation;

4) Fort Greely Missile Field 2 and Future Power Plant Updates;

5) Site Security Responsibilities;

6) Information Technical Certification;

7) GMD Capability Document (GCD) Update; and

8) GMD Development and Sustainment Contract (DSC) Update.

MDA released its draft GMD development and sustainment contract RFP in May.

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, who are competing against a Boeing-Northrop Grumman team, last month announced a slew of Huntsville-based companies that have joined them to compete for the GMD development and sustainment contract.

By Sebastian Sprenger
August 31, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Some forward-operating bases in Afghanistan are about to get new occupants. Northrop Grumman today announced a contract for "providing personnel for operating" counter-rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) systems in that country.

The deal comes in the form of a $68 million task order under the Defense Information Systems Agency's Encore II contract. The task order has a potential value of $219 million over a one-year base period and two one-year options, according to the company's Aug. 31 statement.

The C-RAM capability in question has been fielded "to multiple FOBs in Iraq and is in the process of being installed in Afghanistan," the company said.

Army officials are eying an experimental C-RAM program, the Extended Area Protection and Survivability (EAPS), as a potential workplace for the Container Launch Unit of the canceled Non-Line of Sight Launch System, Inside the Army reported this week.

C-RAM capabilities are bound to become more important in the future if the conclusions of a recent Defense Department wargame hold true. The drill concluded that the increasing availability of precision weapons to potential foes could pose serious problems for U.S. forces.

By John Liang
August 30, 2010 at 3:13 PM

The Commerce Department is announcing long-awaited reforms to the federal export control system at a conference this week, something applauded by the Aerospace Industries Association in a statement released this morning:

"We are very pleased by the progress the administration is making in reviewing the U.S. Munitions List," said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey. "The restructured list shows great promise in assigning the appropriate level of protection to technology exports across all levels of risk." 

In particular, the completed review of Category VII of the USML -- Tanks and Military Vehicles -- shows that about 74 percent of the 12,000 items licensed last year could have been safely processed under the less restrictive Commerce Control List. This indicates substantial potential savings in time and compliance costs to U.S. exporters in the future, with enormous benefits for our military and closest allies.

"The clarification and eventual consolidation of the Munitions and Commerce Control lists will have a dramatic impact on small- and medium-sized companies," Blakey said. "These companies rarely have the resources to ensure compliance with the current export control regime. Simplifying the system offers them the opportunity to be more competitive in the international marketplace."

The president's initiatives also include consolidating licensing policies, export enforcement and information technology systems to make the export control licensing system more efficient.

"These initiatives will greatly improve our national security," Blakey said. "Enhanced interoperability with friends and allies will increase our ability to defend our common interests, and better controls for truly sensitive items will help keep them out of the hands of our adversaries."

The current system was established during the Cold War, when many key war-fighting technologies were developed first by the United States and primarily by the government, White House National Security Adviser James Jones writes in an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal. "Today, our military is more dependent on technology initially developed by private companies for commercial purposes. It is therefore critical to our national security that our export control system enhances, not undermines, the competitiveness of U.S. industry," he adds. Furthermore:

. . . The current system is the product of layers upon layers of regulations adopted over the last few decades, with very little distinction between relatively low-tech and widely available items and the most advanced proprietary technology. Going forward, our goal is to focus our efforts on the most critical technologies and items needed to defend ourselves against current and anticipated threats, and to place more emphasis on protecting them effectively.

The foundation of our new system will ultimately include a single control list that distinguishes in tiers between the most sensitive items and technologies and everything else; a single licensing policy to be applied across all agencies; a center to better coordinate the many agencies involved in export-control enforcement; and a single IT system to make sure decisions are fully informed.

The development of a single, tiered, positive control list will allow us to closely and efficiently scrutinize the export of our most sensitive items and more effectively deny exports to those who mean to do us harm.

At the same time, such a system will allow the export of other items under less restrictive conditions, helping to ensure that the U.S. government can move quickly to respond to the needs of allies and coalition partners. The current system often makes it difficult for allies and partners to have the key items necessary for today's operations. We can do better. For example, if we decide to share a weapons system with our partners, we shouldn't require them to seek a license for every spare part.

By John Liang
August 27, 2010 at 3:37 PM

The Federation of American Scientists' Secrecy News blog today highlights a recent Congressional Research Service report on "rare earth elements" used in a whole bunch of applications -- from jet fighter engines to flat panel displays. According to the report:

The concentration of production of rare earth elements (REEs) outside the United States raises the important issue of supply vulnerability. REEs are used for new energy technologies and national security applications. Is the United States vulnerable to supply disruptions of REEs? Are these elements essential to U.S. national security and economic well-being?

There are 17 rare earth elements (REEs), 15 within the chemical group called lanthanides, plus yttrium and scandium. The lanthanides consist of the following: lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium. Rare earths are moderately abundant in the earth’s crust, some even more abundant than copper, lead, gold, and platinum. While more abundant than many other minerals, REE are not concentrated enough to make them easily exploitable economically. The United States was once self-reliant in domestically produced REEs, but over the past 15 years has become 100% reliant on imports, primarily from China, because of lower-cost operations.

In February 2009, a Pentagon board ruled that specialty metals are not materials critical to national security for which only a U.S. source should be tapped, eliminating a national security reason for the Defense Department to ensure a long-term domestic supply of such materials. As reported at the time:

John Young, the defense acquisition executive, submitted the finding to Congress in a Jan. 26 report mandated by lawmakers. The report followed a Dec. 12 meeting of the Strategic Materials Protection Board, chaired by Young and composed of representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the service acquisition executive offices and the under secretary of defense for intelligence.

The Strategic Materials Protection Board discussed and approved the definitions of strategic and critical materials proposed by the executive secretary during its meeting, the report states.

"As a result of the modified definition for critical materials, any material designated as critical will require a risk assessment and a strategy to ensure domestic availability," the committee explains.

The status of specialty metals used to make sensors, armored vehicles, satellites and other items has long been a congressional concern. The Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Act mandated the creation of the Strategic Materials Protection Board to oversee their use.

A year later, the FY-08 Defense Authorization Act directed the board to assess the extent to which domestic producers of strategic materials are investing in a sustained way in the processes, infrastructure, workforce training and facilities needed for the continued domestic production of such materials.

The Jan. 26 report concludes that the critical nature of a material is a function of its importance in DOD applications. It also assesses the extent to which department actions are required to shape and sustain the market and the impact and likelihood of supply disruption.