The Insider

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 19, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon acquisition executive Ashton Carter has given Alan Shaffer, the principal deputy director for defense research and engineering, another hat to wear.

As of Jan. 7, Shaffer is also the acting principal deputy director of operational energy plans and programs, Carter wrote in a memo to his senior staff.

Lawmakers created the DOEP&P post in the Fiscal Year 2009 defense authorization legislation, enacted in the fall of 2008. The idea was to put a senior Defense Department official in charge of making all things operational -- from weapons to vehicles to forward bases -- more energy efficient.

Last December, White House officials nominated Sharon Burke, vice president of natural security at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security, for the job. Sources said Shaffer himself was considered for the job last year, but declined.

Notably, Carter's memo refers to “implementation guidance” for the DOEP&P job, issued by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn on Oct. 19, 2009. The guidance puts the new office under Carter's “authority, direction and control,” the memo states.

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 19, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The military command keeping an eye on events like last week's Chinese missile defense test says the incident has left no measurable debris floating around in orbit.

As of Friday last week, officials were "not tracking" any debris as a result of the test, a U.S. Strategic Command spokesman told us today. The spokesman said there was debris in space immediately after the event, but the parts entered the Earth's atmosphere within 10 minutes.

In a widely reported statement following the Jan. 11 test, a Pentagon spokeswoman said military officials "detected two geographically separated missile launch events with an exoatmospheric collision also being observed by space-based sensors."

By Marjorie Censer
January 19, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Though the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles rebuy award is on hold as the Army reevaluates the program, the dispute over the contract continues. The focus this time? Oshkosh's funding plans for building an electrodeposition or "E-coat" facility in Wisconsin.

According to a Jan. 17 article in The Northwestern, the Oshkosh Plan Commission is set to examine this week a $5 million assistance package that the company says it needs to build the facility.

The article says Oshkosh is relying on $51.5 million in state, city and company money -- $5 million in a development assistance grant from the city, $35 million from the state and $11.5 million of its own money -- to build the E-coat factory.

However, the article adds, the city is still looking at the package. The city's director of planning services is quoted as saying the new building's anticipated taxable value only allows $4 million in borrowing. Consequently, a $1 million donation from the Southwest Industrial Park tax incremental financing district would also be needed.

Defense analyst and consultant Loren Thompson, who counts competitor BAE Systems among his clients, writes today that the story of Oshkosh's victory over BAE "just keeps getting worse and worse," as reflected in this not-yet-approved aid.

In a statement released today, Oshkosh said the TIF is pending approval by the Oshkosh Common Council and is supported by the city and its partners.

“We look forward to working with the city and the state as we move forward on this project, which was outlined in our original proposal to our customer," said Oshkosh CEO Robert Bohn. "It is so important to have support from our community as we continue to build the products that protect the men and women in our military forces.”

By Jason Sherman
January 15, 2010 at 5:00 AM

As the Pentagon prepares to unveil its fiscal year 2011 budget request the first week of February, a new analysis of defense spending over the last three decades concludes the Obama administration's forthcoming military spending request “locks into place (an) unprecedented rise in defense spending -- 90 percent -- that began in the late 1990s, consolidating a return to Reagan-ear budget levels.”

Based on spending forecasts the White House detailed in May, the Project on Defense Alternatives calculates the Obama administration will allocate $5 trillion to military spending between fiscal years 2010 and 2017, “assuming it stays its current course” and the president is elected to a second term.

Indeed, by a substantial margin, it would represent the greatest amount allotted the Pentagon in any eight years since 1946 -- a period encompassing the Korean, Vietnam, and Cold Wars.

The 61-page report is titled "An Undisciplined Defense: Understanding the $2 Trillion Surge in U.S. Defense Spending."

By Christopher J. Castelli
January 15, 2010 at 5:00 AM

National Security Adviser Jim Jones today advocated strengthening Lebanon’s state institutions -- particularly its military -- in meetings with the country's leaders, the White House said in a statement. Lebanon was the last stop on his week-long visit to the Middle East. Jones expressed support for Lebanese military missions to implement all U.N. Security Council resolutions relevant to Lebanon and protect all Lebanese citizens. He echoed President Obama's commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Lebanon partnership "across a broad range of issues" and reiterated U.S. support for a sovereign, independent Lebanon, the White House said.

Jones, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, also laid a wreath at the U.S. embassy for the 337 killed in service to the U.S. government in Lebanon between 1976 and 1995, including the victims of the 1983 and 1984 embassy and Marine barracks bombings.

By John Liang
January 14, 2010 at 5:00 AM

With the Obama administration planning on submitting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification before the end of this year, more than one think tank has begun to examine the pact's pros and cons.

The EastWest Institute today released a report calling for a fresh U.S. debate on the CTBT, calling the pact "a critical step that will reflect the U.S. commitment to nuclear nonproliferation." According to an institute statement:

The report, The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: New Technology, New Prospects?, is the result of discussions between a bipartisan group of 30 technical and policy experts about Senate ratification of the CTBT in light of recent technological advances. The CTBT is unanimously considered a key component of the global nonproliferation regime. The U.S. Senate rejected it in 1999, in part because of concerns that it would not ensure compliance by other states and that it would prevent the U.S. from maintaining the safety and reliability of its nuclear arsenal.

EWI's report suggests that ten years later, technological developments have changed that picture. It investigates how technical advances affect the debate and identifies concerns the Obama administration must address if it wants to pursue Senate ratification of the CTBT.

"Barack Obama laid out a promising and exciting agenda in Prague in April," said W. Pal Sidhu, Vice President of Programs at the EastWest Institute. "Now it's time to deliver."

The CTBT cannot come in to force until the U.S. and eight other countries, including China, India and Pakistan, ratify it. Many countries, including key nuclear powers such as Russia, see the U.S. Senate's failure to ratify the CTBT as a major hurdle to renewed U.S. leadership on nuclear nonproliferation.

"The Senate has had valid concerns about the CTBT, and the administration must address these concerns," said Sidhu. "If the Obama administration is serious about leading the world towards nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, it's got to get serious about the CTBT."

Additionally, the National Academy of Sciences is due to release an update to its 2002 analysis of the treaty within the next 90 days.

An "ad hoc committee" is reviewing and updating "aspects of the analysis in the 2002 National Academies’ report, Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty," according to the NAS Web site. The committee is examining the following areas:

1) Maintaining the safety and reliability of the U.S. stockpile. The committee will assess, including information developed for and produced by the Nuclear Posture Review, the Administration’s plan to manage the risks in ensuring, over the longer term, a safe and reliable nuclear weapons stockpile absent underground nuclear testing. The experience of the U.S. stockpile stewardship program, particularly in the last decade, will also be taken into account.

2) Nuclear explosion detection, location and identification. The committee will assess present nuclear explosion detection capabilities, taking into account the totality of assets accessible to the United States, including: (a) any improvements in U.S. national technical means in the last decade, and (b) operating experience of the international monitoring system. The committee might also consider how these capabilities are expected to improve over time.

3) Sustainability. The committee will assess what commitments are required to sustain: (a) America’s nuclear stockpile; (b) the U.S. monitoring system; and (c) an adequate international verification regime, including On-Site Inspection.

4) Technical Advances. The committee will assess the potential technical advances to nuclear weapon capabilities for other countries: (a) that result from evasive and non-evasive testing at levels below the U.S. detection capability; and (b) that result from returning to full-yield testing in a non-test-ban environment.

By Marjorie Censer
January 14, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The materiel development decision for the Army's ground combat vehicle effort -- which would replace the terminated Future Combat Systems manned ground vehicles -- has been rescheduled for February, though a specific date has not been set, program executive office integration spokesman Paul Mehney told Inside the Army today.

The review, originally slated for Dec. 22, is set to decide whether the program will begin at milestone A or B. As ITA reported at the time, the original meeting was postponed at the request of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

By Marjorie Censer
January 13, 2010 at 5:00 AM

No pressure, Army, but the ground combat vehicle -- set to replace the Future Combat Systems manned ground platforms -- will be a profoundly significant system, influencing "all other ground programs from the network to sensors, aircraft, fire support and dismounted soldier systems," a retired two-star writes in a new Armed Forces Journal article.

Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, a former commandant of the Army War College and the current president of consulting firm Colgen Inc., notes in the piece that the Army does not have a great track record for equipping ground forces. Citing a "string of failures" from FCS to the Comanche helicopter, he stresses the importance of getting GCV right from the start.

"The GCV concept must fit the needs of today’s wars and yet be sufficiently expansive and adaptable to meet the needs of forces fighting higher-order battles," Scales writes.

To successfully produce the vehicle, he promotes changing the design focus of the GCV's network "from the operational and strategic to the tactical" and changing "the customer from the general to the individual soldier."

An individual soldier "should be well-connected inside or outside the GCV and should lose no situational awareness when making the transition from mounted to dismounted combat," Scales adds. Comparing the GCV to a "mothership," he says it must be "optimized to operate in small units for prolonged periods in inhospitable terrain and climate."

Additionally, Scales calls for the GCV to be a "universal carrier" whose design embraces the needs of all ground combat services and to be "optimized for the common purpose of transporting a squad-sized team to the fight, not just infantry but any small team likely to be placed in harm's way."

Writing that Strykers "have proven to be too thinly armored to survive the very large explosive power of Taliban IEDs and too immobile to maneuver off road to avoid them" in Afghanistan, Scales says the "new universal carrier must be able to travel and maneuver off roads that today are studded with IEDs." The GCV must also be fast -- able to sustain speeds of 70 kilometers per hour over broken terrain -- and quiet to perform counterinsurgency.

Despite his recommendations, Scales argues that no legacy system can meet the needs of all ground services across the spectrum of conflict. "The only practical solution is to build the GCV around the concept of a universal small-unit carrier and then stretch the system as far as possible to accommodate other functions," he writes.

By Thomas Duffy
January 13, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department today announced the selection of the 23 members of the Defense Business Board for 2010. Michael J. Bayer returns as the board's chairman, with John. B. Goodman serving as the vice chairman.

Bayer is the president and CEO of Dumbarton Strategies, a Washington DC-based provider of strategic planning and merger and acquisition counsel.

Goodman is the managing director of Accenture's U.S. defense group.

In addition to the 23 members announced by DOD today, the chairmen of the Defense Policy Board and the Defense Science Board are ex-officio members of the Defense Business Board.

The board carries out studies and provides the defense secretary and deputy defense secretary advice on best business practices for the department. Its next scheduled meeting is Jan. 21.

By Christopher J. Castelli
January 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Department announced today the deployment of about 3,100 additional forces to Afghanistan, part of the 30,000 troops authorized by President Obama on Nov. 30. The 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, from Ft. Hood, TX, will deploy about 2,600 soldiers to Afghanistan in the summer of 2010, according to DOD.

"The deployment of this brigade will increase the capabilities of the International Security Assistance Force," the Pentagon said in a statement. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also approved the deployment of about 500 support forces, which will deploy at various times through the summer of 2010, DOD said.

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Officials at the Pentagon and the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration last week marked the 25th anniversary of the Joint Munitions Technology Development Program, or JMP.

We asked NNSA what kinds of scientific problems program officials plan to tackle in the years ahead. According to an e-mail from agency spokesman Michael Padilla, these are some of the topics on scientists' to-do lists:

  • Next-generation energetic materials having increased energy and reduced sensitivity to hazards (fire, frags, bullets, etc.);
  • NNSA's unique proton and X-ray radiography facilities are being used to understand the slow cook-off problem to support development of insensitive munitions;
  • Detonators for insensitive explosives;
  • Multi-phase blast explosives for increased lethality;
  • New weapons designs (e.g., non-fragmenting, composite case munitions) for reducing collateral damage (in urban warfare, close air support  and counterinsurgency operations);
  • Smart munitions having selectable output/effects;
  • Weapons for defeat of hard and deeply buried targets (high-g resistant materials and components);
  • Application and the assessment of reliability of survivability of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS);
  • Novel photonic proximity sensor for robust and compact height-of-burst sensor.

At the Defense Department, the JMP program is managed out of the Land Warfare and Munitions Office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Between DOD and DOE, over than 200 scientists and engineers are working on JMP projects, according to a Jan. 7 NNSA statement.

By Zachary M. Peterson
January 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM

At the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium in Washington today, Fleet Forces Command chief Adm. John Harvey was asked about the Navy's intentions to move an aircraft carrier to Naval Station Mayport, FL, from Norfolk, VA. The move is being reviewed in the Quadrennial Defense Review. Harvey answered the question, which came from a Navy lieutenant, by deferring to the results of the QDR, which are neither final nor public.

However, the four-star admiral did note that it makes him uncomfortable seeing all the East Coast-based carriers at the pier near his Norfolk office, as well as the carriers under construction and undergoing maintenance and refueling at the nearby Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding facilities in Newport News. Harvey said that unlike on the West Coast, where carriers are stationed in San Diego and Washington state, basing all the East Coast carriers in Virginia puts the Navy "30 minutes," or one disaster -- natural or manmade -- away from having the majority of its carrier assets tied up.

The pending move of a carrier to Florida has drawn consistent opposition from Virginia lawmakers who continue to lobby against the move. Florida lawmakers support the measure.

By Christopher J. Castelli
January 11, 2010 at 5:00 AM

National Security Adviser Jim Jones is traveling to the Middle East this week to meet with key leaders in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority, according to a White House statement released this afternoon. Jones, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, will "discuss the full range of regional challenges and opportunities at this critical time in the Middle East," according to the the statement.

In 2008, Jones told Inside the Pentagon “nothing is more important” in the Middle East than peacefully resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

By John Liang
January 11, 2010 at 5:00 AM

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked today about the status of U.S.-Russian negotiations over a follow-on agreement to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The pact expired last month, and U.S. and Russian officials suspended talks for the holidays.

Gibbs said:

We continue to work with our Russian counterparts on trying to find an agreement that, quite frankly, that works for both sides. I need to go back and look at some notes about whether it was this Friday or the previous Friday that we had a negotiating team that headed to -- headed over to make some headway on that. But nothing as of yet to report.

Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher could shed more light on the START talks when she sits down with reporters on Wednesday morning.

By Marjorie Censer
January 11, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center in Warren, MI, announced today that it has established a center intended to expand its capabilities and streamline operations.

The Center for Ground Vehicle Development and Integration will "align and expand research and development (R&D) activities and establish a new military nucleus for public-private ground vehicle systems collaborative partnerships," the announcement reads.

It cites roughly $14 billion in fiscal year 2010 Defense Department funding targeted at Michigan's defense industry and says the center will play a key role in ensuring that money is "effectively leveraged."

More specifically, the new vehicle center will incorporate work from TARDEC's Ground Vehicle Integration Center -- which provides technology assessment and systems integration for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle programs, among others -- and its Prototype Integration Facility -- which provides "hands-on design, metallurgy testing, physical prototyping and electronics integration for military ground vehicles systems."