The Insider

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 11, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency today announced two contract awards for the second phase in the agency's program to build the National Cyber Range, a kind of virtual sandbox for everything related to cyberspace and national security.

Lockheed Martin Simulation, Training and Support, based in Orlando, FL, will get $31 million for its phase II work; a team from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory will get $25 million, according to notices posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site today.

The two organizations were picked from a pool of seven awardees chosen for phase I of the project, announced in January 2009. DARPA had also awarded phase I contracts to Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Science Applications International Corp., General Dynamics and SPARTA.

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, the head of U.S. forces in Iraq, has issued new rules for the proper behavior of Defense Department personnel in Iraq. The General Order Number 1, dated Jan. 1, comes as U.S. forces prepare to draw down from the country in large numbers this year.

Naturally, the possession of drugs and alcohol of any kind are prohibited, according to the document. There are also tight restrictions on when U.S. personnel are allowed to set foot into mosques or other Islamic religious sites.

In addition, troops may not adopt local animals as pets or mascots, attempt to convert others to their faith and point with weapons at others "in jest" or as part of "quick draw" or "trust" games, the document reads.

The order also spells out under what circumstances U.S. personnel are allowed to take "war souvenirs" home.

By John Liang
January 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Pentagon has entered into an agreement with the Small Business Administration that allows DOD contracting officers to award small business-size contracts without having to go through the SBA for approval.

According to a Dec. 29, 2009, memo from Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy Director Shay Assad, the agreement "allows DOD contracting officers to award prime contracts directly" to companies participating under the SBA's "8(a)" business development program.


Under the new 8(a) ((Partnership Agreement)) for competitively negotiated procurements, the SBA will no longer review eligibility status for all officers within the competitive range. The SBA will conduct reviews to determine 8(a) eligibility status sequentially, starting with the apparent successful offeror. If the first offeror does not meet the eligibility requirements, then the SBA will review the second offeror for eligibility.

By John Liang
January 7, 2010 at 5:00 AM

U.S. Strategic Command and Air Force Space Command want to improve the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation's satellite coverage, according to a STRATCOM statement released today.

"The need to support U.S. and allied military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, where terrain in geographically challenging areas can degrade complete coverage of GPS signals, drove a look for ways to improve signal coverage," the STRATCOM statement reads. Specifically, the command "approved an Air Force-developed approach that benefits not only military operations but all GPS users by taking advantage of the largest on-orbit GPS constellation in its history."

That new approach would do the following:

The current GPS constellation will be optimized to provide enhanced capability for all GPS users and provide better support to military forces operating in Afghanistan. Essentially, this plan will take advantage of today's constellation size and reposition satellites to improve coverage.

The existing constellation replenishment strategy positions new GPS satellites close to older satellites. This strategy protects against possible failing satellite vehicles. The current strength of the constellation will allow the constellation to be spread out and improve GPS
access worldwide.

The initiative will take up to 24 months to fully implement as satellites are repositioned within the constellation based on constellation health. The beneficial impact to all GPS users, including civilian users, will be slowly realized during that time period. Over the next two years, the number of GPS satellites in view from any point on earth will increase, potentially increasing accuracy of GPS receivers.

The STRATCOM and AFSPC team seeks to continually enhance GPS capability and is committed to meeting and exceeding civilian and military user requirements for worldwide, 24/7, positioning, navigation, and timing service. reported last month that a program to produce a new generation of hybrid GPS receivers escaped termination in December, as House appropriators reversed their push to block the $60 million Pentagon officials wanted for the project:

House Appropriations Committee members opposed funding for the "High-Integrity GPS" program in their version of the fiscal year 2010 defense appropriations bill this summer. However, they yielded to their Senate counterparts’ position on the project’s funds, according to a Dec. 15 conference agreement on the legislation.

House lawmakers initially voted not to fund HIGPS because they believed the effort was “duplicative of other activities within the GPS program,” House Appropriations defense subcommittee spokesman Matthew Mazonkey told in an e-mail today. He did not address the question of what ultimately swayed lawmakers.

The HIGPS program is focused on developing handheld receivers fed with the signals from GPS satellites plus those emitted by the constellation of commercial Iridium communication satellites in low-Earth orbit. The result of this combination, advocates have said, is greater accuracy and resistance to enemy jamming.

Funding is executed through the Naval Research Laboratory, in part because the technology is destined as a navigation tool for dismounted Marine Corps forces and Navy SEALs.

By Marjorie Censer
January 7, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Army announced today it will move Army Contracting Command and Expeditionary Contracting Command from Ft. Belvoir, VA, to Redstone Arsenal, AL, resulting in the reassignment of 79 soldiers and 234 civilians to Redstone.

Both commands will be located alongside Army Materiel Command and Army Security Assistance Command, which are already moving to Redstone Arsenal as part of the base realignment and closure movements.

"The collocation of these organizations will serve to improve the integration of contracting services within the continental United States, overseas installations, and theater operations," the service's announcement states.

The move is expected to be complete in August 2011.

By Marjorie Censer
January 6, 2010 at 5:00 AM

As of Jan. 5, the Pentagon has fielded 164 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles to Afghanistan, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said today.

Nearly 240 of the trucks have been delivered, he added.

"And then there are obviously many more vehicles than that that have been produced," Morrell told reporters during a Pentagon briefing. "And as they vie for space for airlift and absorption in Afghanistan, they are being used, many of them, for training purposes domestically."

But he stressed that the military faces a "herculean effort" in trying to get 30,000 additional forces -- and their equipment -- to theater.

"So this is going to be . . . a real test of our ((U.S. Transportation Command)) folks, as well as ((U.S. Central Command))," he said. "And they have a priority list based, you know, in terms of space available, what has the top priority to flow in at what time."

But, Morrell added, the Defense Department hopes to send over 500 M-ATVs a month by the spring. He said the military is not yet sealifting the trucks.

Last month, Oshkosh announced that it had again exceeded the monthly delivery requirement for M-ATV by meeting its 1,000-vehicle total on Dec. 18.

December was the first month in which the company was set to ramp up to 1,000 vehicles, a rate at which it expects to stay through May 2010 to deliver more than 6,600 of the trucks.

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 6, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Pentagon officials today proposed new language for existing defense acquisition guidelines that would enable the procurement of supplies from certain Asian countries.

The language effectively would implement two waivers granted by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn last summer. The waivers were about DOD procurement regulations that normally prohibit the selection of contractors from the so-called "SC/CASA" region, which stands for South Caucasus and Central and South Asia.

The countries covered are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Closer economic ties with these nations are necessary because Northern Distribution Network supply routes to Afghanistan run through them, Lynn wrote in a July 9, 2009, memo.

"Buying local products and services will demonstrate that the United States values the support of countries in the region with which the United States intends to develop a lasting partnership to stabilize Afghanistan," he added.

Some of the SC/CASA governments have a history poor human rights records, with reports of government-sponsored torture and repression described in the State Department's 2008 Human Rights Report.

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

As reported in November, the Pentagon has overhauled the Defense Science Board's roster.

The DSB will get 39 new members, who "join the previously announced DSB Chairman, Paul G. Kaminski and Vice Chairman, Retired Air Force Gen. Lester L. Lyles, and 12 DSB senior fellows," a Defense Department statement reads.

According to a list released today, the new members include former Pentagon acquisition chief Jacques Gansler and former Deputy Defense Secretary John Deutsch as well as retired Adm. William Fallon, former head of U.S. Central and Pacific commands; and retired Marine Corps Gen. Michael Hagee, a former Marine commandant.

Retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Welch and former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Craig Fields are among the new DSB senior fellows included in today's list.

According to the DOD statement:

"Secretary of Defense Gates believes the DSB needs to be a professional board representing the best scientific and expert advice available to the Department of Defense," said Ashton B. Carter, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. "We are grateful to these superb individuals for their willingness to serve."

The DSB was established in 1956 as a standing committee to advise top Pentagon leadership on "the needs and opportunities presented by new scientific knowledge for radically new weapons systems" and has evolved to develop and strengthen the department's research and development strategies for the 21st Century though their reports.

Kaminski told in November that the new roster would be a "whole, newly composed board." Further:

Kaminski said the board is drafting proposals for as many as three new task force studies. The DSB also is beginning to outline ideas for a 2010 summer study, an undertaking that is often larger in scope than a task force study, he said.

A leading candidate for a new DSB task force deals with missile defense, specifically the issue of early intercept, a study effort that Kaminski said would deal with the challenge of hitting a ballistic missile “sometime between launch and apogee.”

Earlier this fall, the White House announced that it has advised all federal departments that “federally registered lobbyists ((should)) not be appointed to agency advisory boards and commissions.”

“Keeping these advisory boards free of individuals who currently are registered federal lobbyists represents a dramatic change in the way business is done in Washington,” Norm Eisen, special counsel to the president for ethics and government reform, wrote in a Sept. 23 announcement of the policy posted on the White House Web site.

New DSB members were vetted in alignment with this policy, Kaminski said.

“That's been a factor in their approval of membership,” he said.

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

Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett this week succeeded retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Koper as president of the National Guard Association, the organization announced today in a press release.

Koper served as president for more than five years, the release notes.

Hargett comes to the NGAUS after serving as the Tennessee adjutant general from 2002 through the end of 2009. With 47 years of military service, Hargett has also served as chief of operations and exercises at the National Guard Bureau.

He has completed the Defense Language Institute and the Army War College and was the first National Guard officer to attend the NATO Defense College in Rome, the release adds.

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 4, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Defense officials should use the Northern Distribution Network as a springboard to create an even larger web of trade routes across Asia, according to a recent report penned by researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Dubbed the "Modern Silk Road," this network of travel lanes would help foster urgently needed economic development in Afghanistan and its neighbors, the authors argue in their Dec. 17, 2009, report.

For example, administration officials should work toward new routes through Iran, China and India, the report suggests.

While the challenges associated with these routes are apparent, the United States should put forth a concerted effort to gain access to them. (After all, who could have predicted that U.S. military supplies would be traversing Russia and Uzbekistan?)

During the last year Pentagon officials readied a vast network of supply routes used for shipping military supplies from Europe to the war in Afghanistan.

At the same time, defense leaders have waived U.S. policies that would normally prohibit the Pentagon from doing business with many Central Asian countries allowing NDN shipments through their territories.

By Christopher J. Castelli
January 4, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Northrop Grumman announced today it will move its corporate office from Los Angeles to the Washington, DC, region by 2011. The company is searching for a location in the District, Maryland or Virginia, according to the company's statement, which says the search will be complete by spring 2010 and the new corporate office will open by summer 2011.

"As a global security company with a large customer base in the Washington, DC region, this move will enable us to better serve our nation and customers," said Wes Bush, chief executive officer and president. Northrop says the new corporate office will include about 300 people.

By Sebastian Sprenger
December 30, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Army officials plan to develop the Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle airship outside the restrictions of the normal acquisition process, the service announced this week.

Internally, leaders already have approved the move to run the effort using a so-called "Other Transaction Agreement" authority, according to a Dec. 29 notice on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. The plan, aimed at attracting companies "that do not traditionally do business" with the Defense Department, was still pending congressional notification yesterday, the notice reads.

Congress originally authorized the OTA arrangement in the Fiscal Year 1994 National Defense Authorization Act to foster industry cooperation in Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency programs.

Army officials envision an OTA for a five-year technology demonstration, including fabrication of an LEMV airship, payload integration and support, according to the FedBizOpps notice. The vehicle will first be tested within 18 months, with follow-on field field tests scheduled to take place in Afghanistan, it adds.

The basic performance requirements for the LEMV airship include: optionally unmanned; 3 week endurance; 2500 pound payload capability; operating altitude of 20,000 feet above mean sea level, 16 kilowatts of payload power; multi-intelligence capable; supportable from austere locations; 80 knot dash speed and 20 knot station keep speed.

Service officials plan to release a request for proposals for the LEMV OTA on Jan. 29, 2010, according to the notice.

By Jason Sherman
December 30, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Oates took command today of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, the Pentagon shop charged with focusing full-time on what the Defense Department's No. 2 official said is “the single most deadly threat facing our troops in the field today” -- roadside bombs.

Oates, previously commander of the Army's 10th Mountain Division (Light), replaced Lt. Gen Thomas Metz, who is retiring.

In a change of command ceremony at the Pentagon auditorium, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn noted that Oates' recent operational experience sharpen skills essential to fighting complex bureaucratic battles. Congressional investigators have questioned JIEDDO's financial management as recently as this October said JIEDDO and the military services need to improve coordination of their respective counter-IED efforts.

Not long ago, Gen. Oates served in southern Iraq -- one of the most politically charged places we’re deployed,” Lynn said, according to a transcript. “There, a Shi’a religious hierarchy and network of powerful tribes operate outside the government. At every turn, Gen. Oates had to navigate shifting alliances, uncover hidden agendas, and strike delicate political arrangements.

“We believe that was excellent training for taking the command of JIEDDO,” Lynn said.

Ba dum dum, tsh.

Seriously, the deputy defense secretary said that in Afghanistan, only 10 percent of roadside bomb attacks manage to wound or kill U.S. forces.

“Yet this success rate is not good enough,” he said, according to the transcript

In Afghanistan, we are up against a determined and clever foe who mastered the use of this deadly technology long before our forces set foot in the mountains of the Hindu-Kush.

Recent translations of Soviet General Staff studies reveal that the Soviets lost nearly 2,000 soldiers and 1,200 vehicles to IEDs during their nine-year Soviet-Afghan war.

That IEDs have defeated another technologically advanced military, in the very same place we fight now, only adds to the urgency of our mission.

And IEDs have implications far beyond the battlefields we fight on today. In the past month, terrorists have detonated improvised explosive devices on five continents. Russia, Spain, and the UK have all seen deadly IED-attacks.

By Jason Sherman
December 29, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Al Qaida's Yemen branch claim of responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a commercial airliner approaching Detroit is evidence of what U.S. military commanders have long suspected -- that the Middle Eastern nation could become a base for launching attacks against the United States.

In FY-09, U.S. Central Command in conjunction with the State Department, designed four counter-terrorism programs worth $67.2 million to improve aerial surveillance, border security, maritime patrol capability and U.S. and allied forces’ ability to counter improvised explosive devices, first reported on Sept. 21.

These projects in Yemen are being carried out using so-called Section 1206 authorities, designed to finance security assistance operations that bolster the capacity of partner nations to conduct stability and counterterrorism operations. In FY-09, the Pentagon funded projects in 16 nations worth $344 million.

The four projects in Yemen collectively represent the second largest allocation of Section 1206 resources in FY-09; $112.9 million is going to fund five projects in Pakistan, including one to provide four Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters.

By Sebastian Sprenger
December 29, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Mobile, AL -- Visitors to this city could get the impression workers here are already close to cranking out copies of the Air Force's new aerial refueling tanker. Driving westward on Interstate 10, near the Duval Street exit, motorists see a Northrop Grumman billboard with the message, "Welcome to Mobile, future home of the KC-45."

Of course, no decision has been made as to which company will get the multibillion-dollar contract.

Whatever the billboard is supposed to project, it reflects a sort of regional tension over the tanker saga that is not normally felt in Washington. (There is also a certain irony about the advertisement, given that Northrop has threatened to drop out of the competition.)

The local newspaper has reported at length about the skirmishes on Capitol Hill between lawmakers backing either Boeing's or Northrop Grumman's bid. Shortly before Christmas, the Mobile Press-Register ran an editorial proclaiming a "new civil war" over aircraft production pitting the Pacific Northwest against a "rising challenger in the Southeast."

There should be much more for Mobilians to discuss once Pentagon officials unveil the final request for proposals for the tanker in the coming weeks. There may even be new billboards.