The Insider

By John Liang
August 24, 2010 at 8:40 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on Defense Secretary Robert Gates' recommendation to eliminate U.S. Joint Forces Command when lawmakers return from their August recess.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) agreed to a request from Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) to hold the hearing in September, which in addition to the proposed JFCOM closure will also "cover the full range of efficiency initiatives announced by Secretary Gates Aug. 9, 2010," according to a statement from Webb's office released today.

"I commend Chairman Levin for agreeing to schedule this important hearing on the future of JFCOM and the additional efficiency initiatives announced by Secretary Gates," Webb, who chairs the personnel subcommittee, said in his statement. "Congress has an essential constitutional oversight role in such matters. I believe that further action by the president or Secretary Gates should be suspended until Congress has had ample opportunity to review the full scope of the Secretary’s actions."

In his Aug. 23 response to Webb's request, Levin wrote: "I share the secretary's objectives of reducing 'duplication, overhead, and excess in the defense enterprise,' and instilling 'a culture of savings and restraint' across the Department of Defense. At the same time, I agree that the far-reaching initiatives announced by the Secretary deserve close scrutiny from our Committee."

By Dan Dupont
August 24, 2010 at 3:59 PM

The Army's new Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Acquisition Strategy contains some eye-popping numbers on the juggernaut that is the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle program.

Including all variants, the report states, the U.S. government has spent more than $40 billion to date on more than 25,000 MRAPs. That's 19,000 vehicles for the Army alone. All of the above were procured via 17 low-rate initial production contracts, the report states.

And a new Congressional Research Service report has more. Dated June 17, the report adds up all MRAP funds to date as such: "Through FY2010, Congress appropriated $34.95 billion for all versions of the MRAP. In March 2010, DOD reprogrammed an additional $3.9 billion from the Overseas Contingency Operations fund to MRAP procurement. Both the House and Senate have now approved an additional $1.2 billion for MRAP procurement included in the FY2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R.4899)."

Add to that the FY-11 DOD budget request of $3.4 billion for the MRAP Vehicle Fund and the total is well above $40 billion.

By John Liang
August 24, 2010 at 2:10 PM

The Missile Defense Agency's intercept test of the Airborne Laser Test Bed scheduled for early this morning was postponed again, according to an agency statement:

The planned experiment involving the Airborne Laser Test Bed (ALTB) today is delayed because of unsuccessful tracking beam calibration engagements by the ALTB against an airborne diagnostic aircraft (surrogate target). The calibrations must be successfully completed prior to firing the aircraft's main directed energy beam.

The target missile was not launched. Program officials will determine the next opportunity to conduct the experiment.

The delay marks the fourth time MDA has had to delay its test of intercepting a boosting ballistic missile. As reported Aug. 17:

The agency was trying to intercept a boosting ballistic missile at a range twice the distance from the previous shoot-down in February, MDA Director Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly said yesterday before the shoot-down test. The test delay marks the second postponement within the last 30 days.

The intercept attempt had been scheduled to take place two weeks ago, but was postponed due to a problem with the stand that holds up the target missile, O'Reilly told reporters at an Aug. 17 Defense Writers Group breakfast. A follow-up attempt was scheduled for Sunday night, but a software glitch in one of the system's tracking modules pushed it back again to last night. The test window opened at around 1 a.m. EST, he added.

By Carlo Muñoz
August 24, 2010 at 4:00 AM

This week's announcement that Iran has successfully developed an unmanned strike capability has raised the stakes in an already tenuous relationship between Tehran and Washington.

According to recent reports in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the weaponized aerial drone will be able to carry upwards of four cruise missiles, and strike targets within 620 miles. During the aircraft's unveiling ceremony on Sunday, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the work on the program was "only the beginning" of the country's efforts to acquire next-generation weapon technology.

While many regional and military experts regard the announcement as mere posturing -- especially in light of the international pressure over Iran's nuclear program -- and question the aircraft's true capability, the notion that potential adversaries could field advanced unmanned weapons systems against U.S. forces has prompted DOD to take action.

In January, Inside the Pentagon reported that Pentagon officials were drafting a new concept of operations to address the threat of UAVs to U.S. forces. The concept focused on counter-UAS capabilities against small to medium tactical drones, as well as integrated air missile defense threats, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Alison McBain, chief of the counter-UAS branch at the Joint UAS Center of Excellence, said in a Jan. 12 interview.

Israel was forced to temporarily shut down all aerial operations when militants tied to the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah were able to field a crude UAV against Israeli forces during the country's war with Lebanon in 2006

By John Liang
August 23, 2010 at 4:39 PM

The Pentagon has set up "Aristotle," an internal social networking site for its science and technology community, according to a statement released earlier this month by the Defense Technical Information Center and posted on the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's website:

Aristotle provides a secure environment for scientists, engineers, researchers and program managers to network, create and collaborate with other experts in the S&T community.

Aristotle is a Web-based social media tool that adds a new dimension to professional social networking for DoD employees. Users not only network with other individuals; they can link to Topics, Projects and Documents. Aristotle provides situational awareness of the larger DoD S&T community. This powerful application helps S&T professionals do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. Users can organize and share information, and collaborate with colleagues around the world on Projects; gather, prioritize and utilize information; and keep up-to-speed on developments in areas vital to their work. Through Aristotle, users have access to DTIC's technical reports and research summaries.

Federal government and DoD employees and their contractors must register with DTIC to access Aristotle. In addition to the security provided by the requirement to sign on with a userid and password or by using a registered Common Access Card (CAC), users can assign permissions to everything they create in or upload to Aristotle.

By Sebastian Sprenger
August 20, 2010 at 7:41 PM

The final version of the Army Operating Concept, published Aug. 19, is a bit more vague than previous drafts when it comes to characterizing modularity. “Wartime experience has been contrary to the implicit assumptions that underpinned the modular Army's design,” read a June 15 draft of the AOC, first reported by Inside the Army. The sentence is nowhere to be found in the final document, however. The assessment led to a June 21 ITA front-page review titled “Army Finds Some Tenets of Modularity Don't Pass Muster During War.”

Here is the old, draft passage in question:

Wartime experience has been contrary to the implicit assumptions that underpinned the modular Army’s design. For example, the assumption that advanced surveillance systems could maintain situational awareness adequate to secure empty spaces between units operating in non-contiguous areas of operations has proven false. In addition, the assumption that headquarters could assign, attach, and detach units with little or no degradation in the cohesion and combat effectiveness of those units or their higher headquarters has also been proven false. Accordingly, future Army organizations place significantly greater emphasis on the value of organically assigned and habitually associated Army forces to ensure the level of trust, cohesion, confidence, and common understanding required for successfully operating decentralized.

And here is the final version:

Future Army organizations place increased emphasis on the value of organically assigned and habitually associated forces to achieve the level of trust, cohesion and common understanding required to operate decentralized consistent with mission command. By reducing the continuous assignment, attachment and detachment of units and promoting predictable command relationships at all echelons, particularly in the case of activated reserve component units, Army forces prevent unnecessary degradation of the cohesion and combat effectiveness of their units.

By John Liang
August 20, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) today issued a statement on the use of private security contractors in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently issued a decree calling for the dissolution of most private security companies operating in Afghanistan, and Levin says:

The reliance on private security contractors in Afghanistan too often empowers local warlords and powerbrokers who operate outside the Afghan government's control. There is even evidence that some security contractors work against coalition forces, creating the very threat that they are hired to combat. Not only do these contractors threaten the security of our troops, but they put the success of our mission at risk -- an assessment that Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, and Major General Nick Carter, the Commander of Regional Command South, both shared with me during my recent trip to Afghanistan.

President Karzai has said he wants to get rid of most private security contractors in Afghanistan.  I agree with that.  We need to work with President Karzai to come up with a realistic plan to accomplish that goal – one that not only shuts off the spigot of U.S. dollars flowing into the pockets of warlords and powerbrokers, but attracts rank and file contractor personnel to the Afghan national security forces.  The challenge is significant, but the risk posed by maintaining the status quo is greater.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is nearing completion of a year-long investigation into private security contracting in Afghanistan, according to Levin's statement.

By Jason Sherman
August 19, 2010 at 5:19 PM

The Aerospace Industries Association has highlighted 10 things it argues the Defense Department can do within the current acquisition regulatory framework to wring costs from the procurement system.

The list is drawn from a package of 97 initiatives AIA submitted to the Defense Department in late July in response to Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter's call on June 28 for ideas from industry on how to restore affordability and productivity in defense spending, Richard Sylvester, AIA's vice president for acquisition policy told

Here are some things that we believe DOD can implement immediately, within their power to do. They can put into effect today and they can begin to accumulate cost savings.

The recommendations, delivered to DOD on Aug. 17, include:

* Propose additional multi-year procurements.

* Increase the use of long term performance- and outcome-based product support contracts.

* Expand the definition of commercial products to include defense products with competitive direct commercial sales to foreign governments and buys “of a type” and use commercial-type contracts for commercial items.

* Reduce the volume of cost or pricing data for all proposals, especially for those where such data does not already exist or for re-procurements when no significant changes have occurred.

* Re-institute timely enterprise-wide rate negotiation and use of forward pricing rates.

* Eliminate serial reviews of contractor proposals prior to negotiation.

* Reinvigorate the use of weighted guidelines to develop profit objectives. Recognize contract technical difficulty and contractor cost saving initiatives.

* Combine multi-agency compliance reviews.

* Establish a single point DCMA/DCAA authority at major primes to drive commonality and consistency.

* Base audits on materiality and risk.

By Christopher J. Castelli
August 19, 2010 at 4:36 PM

The White House issued an executive order Aug. 18 to establish a Classified National Security Information Program designed to safeguard and govern access to classified national security information that is shared by the federal government with state, local, tribal and private sector (SLTPS) entities. The program -- which uses non-disclosure agreements to keep secrets under wraps -- is led by the Department of Homeland Security, but the Pentagon will have a seat on a new SLTPS Policy Advisory Committee, the order states.

"The level of access granted shall not exceed the Secret level, unless the sponsoring agency determines on a case-by-case basis that the applicant has a demonstrated and foreseeable need for access to Top Secret, Special Access Program, or Sensitive Compartmented Information," according to the order.

Also on Aug. 18, the White House issued a separate executive order establishing a temporary Pakistan and Afghanistan Support Office in the State Department. The office will "perform the specific project of supporting executive departments and agencies in strengthening the governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan, enhancing the capacity of those governments to resist extremists, and maintaining an effective U.S. diplomatic presence in both countries," the order states.

By John Liang
August 19, 2010 at 4:06 PM

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will be among the featured speakers at next week's annual AUVSI Unmanned Systems conference in Colorado. Other speakers include: Air Force Brig. Gen. H.D. Palumbo, currently director of plans and programs at Air Combat Command who has been selected for promotion to major general and reassignment as director of plans and programs for U.S. Africa Command; Brig. Gen. Dana Born, dean of the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy; and Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall.

By Cid Standifer
August 18, 2010 at 5:18 PM

The Marine Corps Force Structure Review ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates will begin in September and should wrap up this winter, according to a statement issued by the service.

And: It will not address end-strength numbers.

The statement says that the review will focus on capabilities and, specifically, options for "multi-capable Marine Air Ground Task Forces that can disaggregate and aggregate to engage, respond to crises, rapidly project power, and assure access."

"There is no active-duty end strength target; the results will be based on the Force Structure Review Group's (FSRG) analysis of the capabilities and capacity required," the statement quotes Marine Corps Combat Development Command head Lt. Gen. George Flynn as saying.

The review also "must not reduce current readiness," the release adds.

"The intent is to ensure the Marine Corps is designed first and foremost, to remain our Nation's premier crisis response force," the release says. "The implications of this are many, including the requirement for Marine forces that are adaptable, highly trained and organizationally and operationally flexible. The Corps must be expeditionary -- light, powerful, sustainable, and able to operate where there is no infrastructure."

The statement matches what Secretary Gates said recently to a Marines' Memorial Association gathering in California about the Corps' future role, which he suggested might not include plans for large-scale amphibious assaults.

"The counterinsurgency skills the Marines developed during this past decade," Gates said, "combined with the agility and esprit honed over two centuries, will position the Corps in my view to be at the 'tip of the spear' in the future, when the U.S. military is likely to confront a range of irregular and hybrid conflicts."

Navy Under Secretary Robert Work recently told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the decisions from the force structure review could start influencing investment decisions as soon as next summer.

"The earliest you might see concrete changes to the structure, organization and size of the Marine Corps is in [the fiscal year 2013 program objective memorandum], but all of the changes are going to be conditions-based on what happens in Afghanistan, obviously," Work added. "If we're still hard in the fight, then the Marine Corps will stay focused on that fight, but we will at least be thinking of what the Marine Corps might look like."

By John Liang
August 18, 2010 at 3:19 PM

More than 18 countries this week are taking part in U.S. Southern Command's annual PANAMAX exercise, with the focus this year on defending the Panama Canal, according to a SOUTHCOM statement. Specifically:

The purpose of the exercise, called PANAMAX 2010, is to enhance regional cooperation and exercise participating nations' ground, naval, air and special operators' ability to respond to threats to the Panama Canal and plan for a major humanitarian assistance and disaster relief event in the region.

Co-sponsored by the Government of Panama and U.S. Southern Command, PANAMAX 2010 is one of the largest multinational maritime training exercises in the world, and is taking place in the waters off the coasts of Panama from Aug. 16-27.

Participants will conduct naval operations as a multinational task force responding to exercise scenarios ranging from a stabilization mission to disaster relief; scripted scenarios will address maritime operations skills essential to successfully countering 21st Century threats potentially encountered in today's maritime environment.

Nations participating in PANAMAX 2010 include: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, United States and Uruguay.

PANAMAX began in 2003 with the participation of three countries: Panama, Chile and the United States. Since then, exercise participation has grown significantly, peaking during PANAMAX 2009 with 20 nations. reported in April that the head of SOUTHCOM said his command needs more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to address the biggest concern in the region: illicit trafficking in drugs, people, weapons and bulk cash:

Tackling the problem, which affects almost every part of the region, requires using ISR to glean a better understanding of the illicit trafficking enterprise, he said.

"I call it an enterprise because it's supply, transit, demand, as well as the financing that's associated with it," he said.

About 80 percent of the illicit traffic comes through the maritime environment, Fraser said. On an annual basis, SOUTHCOM is successful in disrupting about 25 percent of the cocaine and trafficking that comes through the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific, he said.

"But it's a big area," Fraser stressed, noting SOUTHCOM is looking for broad-area capacity for signals intelligence as well as electro-optical sensors. "How can we detect change?"

"We don't have the persistence of capability that we need over the broad areas," Fraser said. The command is also looking to improve information sharing with partner governments in the region.

He declined to quantify the amount of additional funding SOUTHCOM needs for ISR.

Finding traffickers' fast boats and stealthy semisubmersibles is primarily an air mission, he said. But the command also pursues a maritime mission involving Navy ships and unmanned undersea vehicles, as well as an effort to support other governments and law-enforcement agencies, he noted.

SOUTCHOM disrupted or detected 78 semisubmersibles in 2008 and 52 in 2009, he said, noting that the command is not sure if the decrease from one year to the next suggests traffickers are using the vessels less frequently or whether they have simply adopted new tactics to better avoid detection.

Semisumbersibles tend to be used at night, he noted. Just how stealthy they are was demonstrated when the U.S. military towed a captured semisubmersible behind a ship to test whether it could be seen during an exercise that depicted a fictional threat to the Panama Canal.

"And we had a pinpoint position of where it was, had a helicopter who knew exactly where it was fly over the top of it and they couldn't see it. So, it's a pretty effective means of transiting cocaine -- very difficult to detect," Fraser said. Further, if they are detected, such vessels can be quickly scuttled, he added.

By Jason Sherman
August 17, 2010 at 8:09 PM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- vacationing this week on Whidbey Island, WA -- made time to sign a memo codifying the efficiency targets he outlined on Aug. 9 that aim to reduce excess and duplication across the Defense Department.

On Aug. 16, he signed a three-page memo to Defense Department leaders codifying the 20 initiatives he outlined last week -- which include closing U.S. Joint Forces Command and thinning the ranks of high-level officers and civilians. Gates' memo also formally establishes a temporary task force headed by Robert Rangel, a special assistant to the defense secretary, to ensure "proper implementation of these critical initiatives."

Gates directs the task force to complete its work in 120 days -- in other words, by Dec. 14, which is less than two weeks before the Pentagon is scheduled to finalize its fiscal year 2012 budget proposal and its FY-12 to FY-15 investment plan.

By John Liang
August 17, 2010 at 8:06 PM

Lockheed Martin and Raytheon today announced a slew of Huntsville, AL-based companies that have joined up to compete for the Missile Defense Agency's Ground-based Midcourse Defense development and sustainment contract.

"These companies form a best-of-industry team that provides unmatched credentials for this critical missile defense contract," Mathew Joyce, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co.'s GMD vice president and program manager, said in a statement. "Each partner company brings the technical know-how, domain expertise and mission understanding needed for the development and sustainment of this key strategic asset."

According to the statement:

· Dynetics Inc. will perform cyber support training and systems engineering principally in Huntsville and Colorado Springs, Colo., including information assurance, modeling and simulation, system analysis, ground and flight test support and training.  “Dynetics has had a relationship for many years with Lockheed Martin.  We’ve teamed up to provide the government with our combined missile defense capabilities on the THAAD program for the past 15 years and on the Targets and Countermeasures program for the past seven,” said Dr. Marc Bendickson, chief executive officer, Dynetics.  “We are pleased to offer our expertise and resources to support this critically important program for the nation.”

· QuantiTech Inc., one of several Huntsville-based small businesses on the team, will provide Ground-based Interceptor support primarily in demilitarization and disposal planning.  “QuantiTech is excited and ready to bring our unique demilitization planning capability to the Lockheed Martin GMD Team,” said Sheila Brown, chief executive officer, QuantiTech.

·ARES Corporation will perform engineering services for reliability, availability and maintainability.

· CohesionForce Inc. will provide software and system engineering services for ground systems development, as well as test and evaluation services for the system.

·IroquoiSystems Inc. will perform engineering services for modeling and simulation and open architecture framework.

Nation-wide partner companies announced today are the following.

· ATK Aerospace Systems will manufacture and provide maintenance and sustainment support for Ground-based Interceptor components.

· Bechtel National Inc. will provide proven expertise on launch site components (LSC), including engineering support for operations, maintenance and upgrades of the LSC it designed, supplied, and installed, and will perform schedule integration for the operational asset management system.

·Harris Corporation will provide proven maintenance and sustainment for the In-Flight Interceptor Communications System (IFICS) Data Terminal (IDT), a key component that provides the data link to send target updates from the GMD Fire Control to the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle.

· Imprimis Inc. will provide expert training support services at Huntsville, Colorado Springs, Vandenberg and Fort Greely.

· Oregon Iron Works Inc. will perform silo refurbishment.

· TDX Power Inc. will provide facility expertise for the missile field power supply.

In addition, Alaska-based Alaska Aerospace Corp. will provide operations and maintenance support at Ft. Greely and Vandenberg, and NANA Development Corp.'s Sivuniq and Akima Logistics Services companies will provide logistics management, engineering and supply support services at Ft. Greely and Huntsville, according to the Lockheed statement.

By John Liang
August 17, 2010 at 2:52 PM

Katherine Hammack, an energy and "green" building expert, assumed the position of the Army's top installations and environment official earlier this month, Defense Environment Alert reports this morning. Her taking the job completes a move by all three services to fill their top environment positions with people who have a strong link or commitment to climate and energy security, one environmentalist notes. Specifically:

Hammack was sworn in as the Army's assistant secretary for installations and environment Aug. 4. In her new role, Hammack will oversee installation policy, energy security and management, environmental, BRAC, housing, utility and occupational safety programs for the Army. Prior to her appointment, she led Ernst & Young's climate change and sustainability services practice, her biography says. She was a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council, helped develop the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, building standard, and has over 30 years experience in offering energy and sustainability advisory services, according to her biography. She was also a consultant to the White House on the "greening" of the White House and the Executive Office Building.

In correspondence to the Senate related to her nomination, Hammack said that her top environmental challenges will be to ensure the execution of the 2005 BRAC decisions and Army transformation efforts, which include challenges related to cleanups and environmental impact analyses. Other important challenges, she said, are "ensuring compliance with environmental sustainability and energy goals in federal mandates," according to a response she gave to advance questions from the Senate. On the green building front, she said she has spent the last three and a half years serving on a LEED committee developing the LEED building standard, adding that she believes compliance with that standard, "as part of the Army's LEED program, will result in more sustainable, energy efficient buildings."

Her appointment means that all of the top installations and environment positions within the services and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense have people with strong commitments to climate security, the environmentalist source says, noting it indicates they all view energy conservation and surety and renewable energy as key elements of DOD's mission. "That should reinforce efforts within the Department to move from simply being the biggest energy guzzler to a leader in the transition to a non-carbon economy," the source says.

Her appointment comes at a time when the Army, along with the other services, is looking to reduce its energy consumption and boost its use of renewable fuels, as compared to traditional fossil fuels, and comes as the services are required by an October 2009 executive order on sustainability to lower their greenhouse gas emissions, undertake water conservation efforts and meet sustainability requirements for federal buildings by certain dates.

Similarly, President Obama has put in place energy and environmental experts in the Navy and Air Force top installations and environment slots. Jackalyne Pfannenstiel and Terry Yonkers were confirmed by the Senate in March to lead the Navy and Air Force's installations and environment offices, respectively. Pfannenstiel was previously a top California energy regulator and chaired Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) Climate Action Team's subcommittee on energy and land use, as well as helped create the state's low-carbon fuel standards, according to her biography.