The Insider

By Marjorie Censer
February 17, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Army announced earlier this month that Lt. Gen. James Thurman, deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and policy (G-3/5/7), has been nominated for a fourth star and assigned to serve as commanding general of Army Forces Command at Ft. McPherson, GA.

Additionally, in the same announcement, the service noted that Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, chief of the Army Reserve, has been nominated to the rank of lieutenant general. An Army Reserve representative told Inside the Army that Stultz has been nominated for another term as chief of the Army Reserve, requiring him to go through the nomination and confirmation process.

By Sebastian Sprenger
February 16, 2010 at 5:00 AM

There's no peace in cyberspace. That's according to the Army's forthcoming Cyberspace Operations Concept Capability Plan 2016-2028, developed by the service's Training and Doctrine Command. In a fictitious operation, the document attempts to apply the yardstick of the Army's full-spectrum operations model to cyberspace operations. Phase Zero of that model normally includes peacetime, or "shaping," operations. But not in cyberspace, the draft document argues.

"There is no traditional phase 0 or peacetime in cyberspace, as adversaries continuously seek to conduct cyberspace operations, particularly exploitation, against the United States and its allies in order to pursue their strategic objective," the document states. There is, however, a cyber equivalent to the "dominate" phase. And that means unleashing what the Army's new nomenclature terms "CyberWar" activities.

"CyberWar and enabling capabilities will exploit and attack computer and telecommunication networks and embedded processors and controllers in equipment, systems and infrastructure, in accordance with appropriate authorities in support of the commander's objectives," the draft Army plan reads. "This is the first time (in the progression of the Army's six-phase full-spectrum operations model) that CyberWar attacks on tactical target embedded processors and controllers in equipment, systems and infrastructure are conducted to disadvantage the adversary," it adds.

By Christopher J. Castelli
February 16, 2010 at 5:00 AM

National security looms large on President Obama's agenda this Wednesday, which includes a morning meeting with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room. The White House released a list of expected attendees for the session, which is closed to the press:

Vice President Biden
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Susan Rice, permanent U.S. representative to the United Nations
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg
Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (via videoconference)
Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan (via videoconference)
Anne Patterson, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan (via videoconference)
Pentagon policy chief Michèle Flournoy
Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Central Command
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Commander in Afghanistan (via videoconference)
Lt. Gen. Dave Rodriguez (via videoconference)
Lt. Gen. William Caldwell (via videoconference)
Vice Adm. Michael LaFever (via videoconference)
Director of National Intelligence retired Adm. Dennis Blair
CIA Director Leon Panetta
Deputy Secretary of Treasury Neal Wolin
National Security Adviser retired Gen. James Jones
Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon
John Brennan, assistant to the president for counterterrorism and homeland security
Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, special assistant to the president for Afghanistan and Pakistan
Robert Nabors, OMB deputy director

In the afternoon, Obama is slated to meet with Clinton, lunch with King Juan Carlos I of Spain and then join Biden to meet with Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill in the Oval Office.

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

National Security Adviser Jim Jones completed a five-day trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan to view first-hand the status of efforts to implement President Obama's strategy in the region, the White House said today.

Jones, a retired four-star general, traveled to the region Feb. 8 to 12. He met in Afghanistan with senior Afghan, U.S., and ISAF leaders and traveled to Kabul, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Panjshir. "His travels allowed him to personally review our efforts in the critical areas of security, development, and governance," the White House said in a statement.

While in Islamabad, Pakistan, Jones met with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani to discuss a variety of "issues of mutual concern to both countries, including the full spectrum of development and security matters," the White House said.

In particular, Jones reiterated America's commitment to a long-term and comprehensive relationship with Pakistan, the White House said. Jones also had the opportunity to travel to the Swat Valley and elsewhere in North West Frontier Province, where he "congratulated" the Pakistani army and paramilitary Frontier Corps on "the success of their security operations in the west and noted the tremendous sacrifices made by Pakistan's security forces," according to the statement.

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

This week, the Senate confirmed candidates for several national security posts, but left other key Pentagon nominees on hold. If the vacancies continue, President Obama says he may make recess appointments.

The Senate confirmed 27 Obama administration nominees yesterday, including Douglas Wilson to be an assistant secretary of defense for public affairs; Mary Sally Matiella to be an assistant secretary of the Army for financial management and comptroller; and Caryn Wagner to be under secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier this week, the Senate confirmed Clifford Stanley to be under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness and Philip Goldberg to be assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research.

The confirmations came as Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who had been holding up numerous nominees in a bid to secure jobs in his state for the Air Force's KC-X tanker program, largely backed off in response to a threat by Obama to use recess appointments. But Shelby is still blocking confirmation of Frank Kendall, who would be the Pentagon's No. 2 acquisition official; Erin Conaton, for under secretary of the Air Force; and Terry Yonkers, for assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics. If the Senate fails to confirm more nominees when it returns from the Presidents' Day break, Obama might make recess appointments when senators leave town again, he said yesterday.

"While this is a good first step, there are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess," Obama said in a statement. "If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future."

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

An Army spokesman confirmed to Inside the Army today that the ground combat vehicle materiel development decision review scheduled for today has been postponed until tomorrow due to yesterday's East Coast snowstorm.

The MDD was originally scheduled for Dec. 22 but postponed at the request of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Tomorrow's review is intended to decide whether the GCV program -- the Army’s effort to replace the terminated Future Combat Systems manned ground vehicles -- will begin at milestone A or B.

The Army has previously said it plans to release the GCV request for proposals this month, shortly after the MDD review is held. Contract award is expected in the fall.

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

A small group of international defense analysts writing for the London-based Centre for European Reform this week published a critique of Germany's proclaimed desire to have all remaining U.S. nuclear weapons removed from its soil.

The problem with Germany piously stepping first in line to renounce nuclear weapons on its territory is that the country has not concurrently renounced nuclear deterrence. It wants to continue to enjoy the protection of America’s nuclear umbrella, without sharing the burden of risk associated with stationing weapons in Germany. In other words, the country wants others to risk nuclear retaliation on its behalf, but it would rather not be a target itself.

That would be a nice deal if Germany could get it. But it is a beggar-thy-neighbour policy. Germany is expecting Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Turkey and the United States to do the hard work of explaining the logic of nuclear deterrence to their own publics so that Germany may enjoy the benefits. Or, worse still, if the German policy were taken up by other governments on the continent, the US would be left alone to bear the burden of defending its European allies. That would not be well regarded by the American public or by their elected representatives. Nor are other allies satisfied with the current arrangement likely to be impressed.

Questions over withdrawing U.S. nuclear arms in Europe also could impact Turkey, another host country of American atomic weapons, the authors argue. With Iran ramping up an alleged nuclear weapons program, and Turkey being within the reach of Tehran's missiles, getting the U.S. warheads out of Turkey might just force the country to pursue its own nuclear weapons program, the report states.

By Marjorie Censer
February 10, 2010 at 5:00 AM

If the news out of Toyota and Honda has you looking for a new ride, Car and Driver has nothing but good things to say about one you might not have considered: the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle.

The mag even offers up a new name: The B'Gosh.

While the price is high -- $1.4 million, according to the magazine -- and it might not fit in your garage, the January 2010 article reports that the truck is easy to drive and “rides far better than you’d expect.”

“From the driver’s seat, it feels as if the M-ATV will take you home over any route you choose,” the author adds.

He notes that the truck offered “more than acceptable levels of jounce” over most drops and only “required minor steering inputs to stay the course.”

The truck’s “light steering, chassis stiffness, and lack of bump steer are impressive," he adds. "The thing just chugs over the mess.”

The whole thing's worth a read, but here's a bit more of the bottom line:

On-road, it’ll do a maximum of 65 mph. You wouldn’t call it nimble, but there’s little steering slop and the sense that if you hit something it’s not going to matter so much anyway. Acceleration is tank-like (although 0 to 60 in 32.8 seconds is quicker than an actual tank), and it’s noisy, with a little throttle lag.

Big brake drums require significant pedal pressure, but panic stops are drama-free. The nose dives, and you can actually see the anti-lock brakes pulse the M-ATV to a halt. An ATC test driver managed 0.46 g on our improvised 200-foot-diameter skidpad (an airfield helicopter ordnance-loading pad), the M-ATV tilting obscenely and actually lifting the unloaded front wheel. But really, your mom could drive this thing.

And that’s the point. The M-ATV is for fighting as well as driving. Ease of operation means experienced MRAP drivers need only about 14 hours of instruction, complete novices just 40 hours. The M-ATV has no formal name yet, but we’re tempted for obvious reasons to call it the “B’Gosh.” In Afghanistan, the M-ATV will endure months and perhaps years of the most arduous duty, where it must bring as many soldiers home as possible. Maybe they should call it the RTB.

By Carlo Muñoz
February 9, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has ceded his “blanket hold” on a slate of White House nominees awaiting Senate confirmation, according to a statement released by his office today.

But Shelby, who sought to block confirmation for over 70 of the administration's picks in a attempt to sway the Air Force's next-generation aerial tanker program known as KC-X, now opposes only those nominees “directly related” to the program, it adds.

That list of nominees includes Terry Yonkers, the administration's pick for the post of assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics; Frank Kendall, for principal deputy under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics; and Erin Conaton, for under secretary of the Air Force, according to a congressional source.

A Northrop Grumman-EADS development team vying for the lucrative Air Force tanker contract plans to headquarter its manufacturing facility in Mobile, AL, if awarded the KC-X deal. However, Shelby's office was adamant that the Alabama Republican's actions were not intended “to determine the outcome of the competition,” according to the statement.

Shelby “is seeking to ensure an open, fair and transparent competition that delivers the best equipment to our men and women in uniform . . . ((and)) is fully justified in his concern given the history and current status of this acquisition,” it states.

By Christopher J. Castelli
February 9, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Inclement weather has postponed Vice President Biden's upcoming speech on nuclear defense matters. The speech had been slated for tomorrow at National Defense University, but a blizzard bearing down on the nation's capital has prompted the White House to reschedule the speech for Feb. 18.

In addition to discussing U.S. nuclear deterrent capabilities and plans to implement President Obama's nonproliferation and nuclear security agenda, Biden is expected to address how the administration's fiscal year 2011 budget request and other efforts will support the president’s vision of reducing the nuclear dangers and working toward a world without nuclear weapons.

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

A somewhat tense discussion ensued at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last week when lawmakers questioned two key architects of the Quadrennial Defense Review. Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Ranking Member Howard McKeon (R-CA) pressed Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy and Vice Adm. Stephen Stanley, the Joint Staff's director for force structure, resources and assessment, for details about the new scenario approach underlying the Defense Department's force-sizing model.

The conversation turned to the possibility of a large-scale war breaking out on the Korean peninsula.

MS. FLOURNOY: We did look at that kind of scenario. And while I don't want to get into classified details in this setting, what I can say to you is that in many of those cases we found that a lot of the U.S. contribution would be heavy air and naval-intensive. And there was certainly adequate flex in our forces to provide that assistance to allies on the ground who were engaged. . . .

REP. SKELTON: It sounds like you're not going to put boots on the ground, but rely on the Navy and the Air Force in such a situation. Is that the case?

ADM. STANLEY: Again, we did three cases. Each case had different combinations of scenarios in them. So it's not three scenarios. It's three separate scenario cases that include multiple scenarios. Was Korea part of it? Yes. Okay, do we put boots on the ground in Korea? Yes. The forces --

REP. MCKEON: More than we have there right now?

ADM. STANLEY: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Where would U.S. forces come from if said war was to break out tomorrow, given that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are tying up a lot of resources? Stanley gave this response:

Another operation in the near term the size of a Korea would require the nation to mobilize. Okay, it would take away our ability to rotate the forces even as little as we are now, one to one. Would we still prevail? Yes. Would there be increased losses? Yes.

The two witnesses agreed to give lawmakers classified briefings with details about DOD's scenario approach.

By Dan Dupont
February 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

Just released by his office:

Congressman John Murtha Passes Away at Age 77

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman John P. Murtha (PA-12) passed away peacefully this afternoon at 1:18 p.m. at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA. At his bedside was his family.

Murtha, 77, was Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in February of 1974, Murtha dedicated his life to serving his country both in the military and in the halls of Congress. A former Marine, he became the first Vietnam War combat Veteran elected to the U.S. Congress.

This past Saturday, February 6, 2010, Murtha became Pennsylvania’s longest serving Member of Congress.

By Christopher J. Castelli
February 8, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The Seattle Times is reporting Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA), a big advocate of Boeing, is likely to succeed the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) as chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.

"He likely will succeed Murtha," George Behan, chief of staff for Dicks, told the newspaper.

When Murtha died this afternoon Dicks became the highest-ranking Democrat on the subcommittee.

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

More than one debt-ratings agency is pleasantly surprised by the effects of the Pentagon's fiscal year 2011 budget request on the defense industry's credit quality.

According to a Fitch Ratings statement released today:

The Department of Defense's (DOD) budget request for fiscal 2011 released Feb. 1, 2010, was more favorable than Fitch Ratings' expectations and contained no major surprises. The request and DOD spending levels continue to support the solid credit quality in the defense industry, which will likely remain the most stable industrial sector from a credit perspective for the next two years given the revenue visibility provided by both the fiscal 2010 budget and the fiscal 2011 request. Potential risks in fiscal 2011 from the Obama Administration's first full budget exercise and the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) did not materialize. The budget request contains modest top-line growth, but the growth rates have clearly slowed from the rates seen in the past nine years.

While the Office of Management and Budget's "forecasts for base defense spending beyond fiscal 2011 also show continued modest growth . . . Fitch believes these forecasts could be pressured by high federal budget deficits, which is the key risk for the defense sector," the statement continues.

Standard & Poor's thinks the defense industry's credit ratings should be fine, as well:

The aftermath of the global recession and the financial crisis have created a difficult operating environment for the commercial aerospace and business jet sectors, although industry conditions are beginning to stabilize with the improving economy, according to an industry economic and ratings outlook published today on RatingsDirect. The report, titled "U.S. Aerospace Continues To Feel The Pinch, But The Defense Sector Remains Steady," says Standard & Poor's Ratings Services believes the defense sector outlook appears stable, in contrast to commercial aerospace, as the former still benefits from high, fairly steady government spending.

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

President Obama has picked a slate of members of the Council of Governors, which was created Jan. 11 by executive order. The council will work with the defense secretary, the secretary of homeland security and other national security advisers on issues related to the National Guard, homeland defense, synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States, and civil support activities.

Government officials on the council include the defense secretary, the homeland security chief, the Coast Guard commandant, the chief of the National Guard Bureau and the head of U.S. Northern Command, among others.

Here's the list of governors released yesterday by the White House:

  • Governor James H. Douglas, Co-Chair, Council of Governors
  • Governor Chris Gregoire, Co-Chair, Council of Governors
  • Governor Janice K. Brewer, Member, Council of Governors
  • Governor Luis G. Fortuño, Member, Council of Governors
  • Governor Brad Henry, Member, Council of Governors
  • Governor Robert F. McDonnell, Member, Council of Governors
  • Governor Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Member, Council of Governors
  • Governor Martin O’Malley, Member, Council of Governors
  • Governor Beverly Eaves Perdue, Member, Council of Governors
  • Governor M. Michael Rounds, Member, Council of Governors