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Pentagon Policy, Budget Issues Not Likely to Change in Wake of Hagel Firing

By Sandra I. Erwin




The resignation of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is being spun every which way: The secretary grew tired of the White House micromanagement. The president fired him for bad performance. Hagel is a scapegoat for bad U.S. policy.

It is probably all of the above.

But as rumors swirl about Hagel's potential successors, defense insiders say it really does not matter who steps in to run the Defense Department because the White House National Security Council is going to continue to set the agenda on most major issues. Further, Hagel’s successor would have limited influence on key issues such as military budgets before a new administration takes over in 2017.

Frontrunners Michele Flournoy and Ash Carter, who served as undersecretaries of defense under Obama, would be safe choices as they both have been confirmed during this administration and have technocrat credentials. "Any of them could do the job, but, frankly, it doesn't matter who they put in there" because the secretary of defense has so little clout in national security policy, said former Pentagon official Steven Bucci, now a national security policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

"They could even leave it open and let Deputy Secretary Bob Work step up as acting," he said.

Bucci echoed the concerns of other critics of the Obama White House who have been alarmed by the administration's extraordinarily centralized management of the military and national security policy. Hagel's predecessors and seasoned Washington operators Bob Gates and Leon Panetta both have hammered the Obama White House for unprecedented micromanagement.

The incoming chairman of the House Armed Service Committee Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called for Obama to appoint a defense secretary who can more forcefully lead the department. "I am concerned, Secretary Hagel’s successor must be a person who is strong enough to stand up against such attempts [by the White House to micromanage], who is willing to speak up for our men and women in uniform, and who is prepared to advocate for what it takes for them to succeed in the missions they are assigned," Thornberry said in a statement. "The increased dangers we are facing around the world are, in part, the result of weak defense policies by President Obama."

In a similar vein, the next chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he hopes the president will “nominate a secretary of defense with the strength of character, judgment, and independence that Bob Gates, Leon Panetta, and Chuck Hagel all exhibited at their best.” McCain said he knew that Hagel had been “frustrated with aspects of the administration's national security policy and decision-making process. His predecessors have spoken about the excessive micro-management they faced from the White House and how that made it more difficult to do their jobs successfully. Chuck's situation was no different.”

Bucci said Hagel was thrown under the bus for failed administration policies over which he had little say. It appears unlikely that his replacement will be allowed into the president's inner circle of policy makers, said Bucci. "I don't think the president is going to get anybody in there who is going to push the agenda in any way other than where the White House wants it to go." The suggestion by White House officials that Hagel is being let go because of his lack of skills in running the campaign against the Islamic State is a "red herring," Bucci said.  

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has drawn far more administration ire than Hagel for hinting that a new strategy might be needed to combat ISIL. But Obama probably decided it was more politically expedient to let Hagel go than to fire the nation's top military officer, Bucci said. "It sends a very different message to the American people when you fire the uniformed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

Hagel is the third of Obama's defense secretaries who is either throwing in the towel or pushed out the door. This makes for high drama in Washington, but nobody should be surprised, said Bucci. When Obama nominated Hagel 19 months ago, the environment was vastly different. Hagel was brought in to oversee the downsizing of the military and to provide political cover as a former Republican senator from Nebraska. When a slew of crises — Putin's invasion of Ukraine, the rise of ISIL, the Ebola outbreak — began to consume the administration, White House officials started to point fingers, Bucci said. "This firing is meant to be a diversion away from the fact that the president's national security policy has not been working very well."

Within the Pentagon, a leadership shakeup is not likely to result in major change, defense insiders said. The so-called "pivot to Asia" plan will stay in place as the initiative was spurred by the administration. The Pentagon's budget woes will continue as there is no appetite on Capitol Hill for a budget deal that would spare the federal government from across-the-board spending cuts that are set in law.

"At this stage in the Obama administration, a new secretary of defense is probably not going to be that impactful for defense as the fiscal year 2016 DoD budget is largely completed and the 2017 budget will ultimately fall into the lap of the new administration elected in 2016,” wrote Capital Alpha defense industry analyst Byron Callan. “There isn't a lot of time for a new SecDef to implement major new changes that are different than current program priorities and policies.”

In a statement, Dempsey praised Hagel for his leadership and advocacy of veterans. “Secretary Hagel brought a soldier's heart to work every day. He cared deeply for our young men and women in uniform.”

The Association of the U.S. Army praised Hagel for having a “soldier’s touch, and for being open with military and veterans service organizations. As a former sergeant, he understood readiness and combat capability is always a top priority even as there are significant needs for personnel, weapons modernization and other programs.”

But some veterans disagree. Pete Hegseth, president of the conservative-leaning Concerned Veterans for America, said the problem with Hagel was that he was unable to articulate a broad strategy for the military. “Secretary Hagel, along with the rest of President Obama’s national security team, failed to articulate a clear national security strategy and instead projected weakness and indecision to the rest of the world which has led to increasing chaos from Eastern Europe to the Middle East. … Under Secretary Hagel’s leadership, even simple tasks like naming a military operation became difficult for the Pentagon.”

Hegseth also sees Hagel as a scapegoat for larger failures. “We hope that this is only the beginning of a larger restructuring of the president’s national security team and that many more advisers will follow Secretary Hagel out the door in the near future.”
 
Hagel said he will stay until a successor is confirmed by the Senate. "You should know I did not make this decision lightly," he told Defense Department employees and military service members in a statement. "But after much discussion, the president and I agreed that now was the right time for new leadership here at the Pentagon."

A White House spokesman said Obama is looking for the next defense secretary to have "good understanding of the workings of the Pentagon and managerial skills."

 


Photo Credit: DVIDS

Despite Contracting Reforms, Pentagon Seen As Unfriendly to Business
By Sandra I. Erwin



Pentagon officials have been emphatic about "lowering the barriers" to potential vendors — especially those on the cutting edge of technology — in order to spur competition in a market dominated by big conglomerates.

But the private sector is skeptical. Industry executives say they appreciate the Pentagon's initiatives but so far see them as empty rhetoric.

Defense procurement chief Frank Kendall launched in September a new contracting reform campaign that specifically calls for the Pentagon to attract new businesses into the military market. He also is seeking congressional support to lighten the regulatory burden, as red tape is the most often cited reason why commercial companies shun the defense business.

But executives contend that Kendall's initiative is not enough to counter a deeply entrenched bureaucratic resistance to doing business differently. They argue that Pentagon buyers are rewarded for squeezing profits out of contractors and make unreasonable demands for companies' intellectual property. Unless conditions change, executives say, the Pentagon will continue to have trouble wooing high-tech vendors that could far more easily sell their products in mainstream commercial markets.

A new white paper by the Lexington Institute, an industry-funded think tank, lays out a litany of reasons why the Pentagon has become an unfriendly customer. They include a reluctance to use commercial contracting methods that are faster and less burdensome on suppliers, and a lack of understanding of how the private sector works even though the Defense Department buys as much as $400 billion of goods and services per year from the defense industry.

"DoD has a strong initiative to increase competition but they do not understand it well," observed the paper's author Scott E. Chandler, an associate fellow at Lexington and a long-time commercial and military aviation executive.

The Pentagon mistakenly believes that new policies by themselves can increase competition, Chandler said. "But they forget that competition fundamentally requires attracting at least two companies willing to do business with you. However, DoD strategy does not seem geared to policy that is designed to be an appealing buyer."

The issue sparked a lively debate last week at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Calif. During a panel discussion, Kendall reaffirmed his stance that Pentagon is not targeting industry's profits and respects companies' rights to their intellectual property.

Other panelists disagreed. Former Pentagon comptroller during the George W. Bush administration Dov Zakheim accused the Defense Department of being antagonistic toward industry profits. "This country was built on profit," he proclaimed.

Kendall pushed back. "We get it that [profit] is a necessity for business. We respect that," he said. "At the same time, we use profit as a tool to incentivize. ... We need to strike the right balance."

Zakheim fired off a list of complaints. It's not just profits, he said, it's IP (intellectual property) concerns. "Industry invests in its own R&D," Zakheim said, and companies expect to get a return on that investment. "Then the government tells you that you can't make more than 8 or 9 percent profit margin, and they want your IP. Why in God's name would Google hand over their IP to a bunch of civil servants who haven't taken a [technology] course in over 25 years?"

Companies such as Google that are pushing the technology revolution in areas where the Pentagon has fallen behind say "No, thank you," Zakheim added. "Their major market is the entire world."

The Pentagon has contracting rules in place that allow it to buy technology from the commercial market with minimum red tape, but that method typically is used to buy commodities like food and clothing. Purchases of advanced technology usually are done under the traditional procurement process, with the government calling the shots. With commercial contracting, the government simply buys what it needs from open market. "You can get all kinds of innovation, it's quicker, less restrictive, more attractive to industry," Zakheim said. He noted that even though senior leaders such as Kendall have endorsed this approach, the contracting workforce in mid-level management prefers to not use commercial contracting because it restricts government access to corporate IP and cost data.

Kendall defended the Pentagon's buying methods. "We do a fair amount of business with commercial companies," he said. "Some come in as part of the supply chain. We have to be careful about the security of the supply chain." But he recognized that the Defense Department has to change its ways if it hopes to capture private-sector innovation, especially from small businesses. Changes is needed in "how we do accounting, contracting in general," said Kendall. "We are working this hard."

He said commercial contracting can be tricky for Pentagon buyers. "The IP issue is complex," he said. "We respect people's right to their IP. We cannot compel anybody to share IP." On the other hand, "industry uses IP as a weapon to gain competitive advantage," Kendall said. "In the government, there is frustration about not having competition because someone has secured a position [in the market] based on their IP rights."

Over the past several years, he said, the Pentagon has started to require procurement officials to learn how to price and negotiate IP. "We have to be very good at this because it's a complicated thing to do."

The Lexington paper notes that the U.S. government goes to great lengths to provide patents, copyrights and licenses to protect proprietary data, trademarks and industrial secrets. The Pentagon, meanwhile, seeks to dismantle these protections as part of its strategy to spur competition, Chandler argued. He blames the Pentagon for creating an increasingly uncongenial market where vendors are seen as enemies and not as business partners. "It is true that individual companies or contractors misstep from time to time, but the snipe hunt for rampant fraud, waste and abuse is largely unwarranted," he said.

The U.S. government wields enormous power but sometimes that power can undermine its own goals, Chandler contends. The Defense Department can "cancel contracts for convenience; change requirements, purchase quantities, or schedules at will; demands proprietary information even for commercial products for distribution to competitors; and, dictates contract terms and controls margins.” Conversely, a "fundamental objective of business is to seek and grow competitive advantage, while the objective of the government policy and practice is to erase it, artificially if necessary."

Photo Credit: Defense Dept.

Northrop Grumman Launches Cyber Center

By Sarah Sicard




Northrop Grumman, in an effort to address its clients' most dangerous cyber threats, announced on Nov. 19 the launch of its new Advanced Cyber Technology Center.


The center is designed primarily to increase speed and resiliency when it comes to attacks on its clients' networks, said company executives speaking at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. 

 

"The ACTC is a new way of combining expertise from a force of more than 2,400 cyber professionals with an array of intellectual property from key partners across the government, industry, and academia to address our … toughest cyber challenges," said Vern Boyle, director of technology at Northrop Grumman's cyber division.

 

"We are an increasingly cyber-dependent society," said Shawn Purvis, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's cyber division. "The center's charter is to create a more mature differentiated offering that will respond to our customers most critical challenges."

 

"Vulnerabilities in our information infrastructure pose significant threats to our national and economic society," she added.

 

Threats will continue to grow. Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, costly and harder to detect, said Dennis McCallam, director and distinguished technical fellow of Northrop Grumman's cyber division.

 

"The dynamic nature of the cyber threat requires a new approach to the problem — one that leverages expertise and technological innovation from every mission area of our company," Purvis added.

 

Not only is this happening in the commercial sector, but also globally on the state level. She cited the recent breach of the State Department as one of many examples of unacceptable cyber attacks. Moreover, "cyber threats can and have changed the battlefield dynamics," she added.

 

The eventual goal is to preserve mission critical functions while under attack, Boyle said. McCallam said there are dangers such as aircraft in combat losing navigation abilities.

 

Northrop Grumman executives said the center will allow its analysts to be better trained and equipped. There are not enough cyber security analysts to address thethreats seen today, McCallam said. A mixture of well-trained analysts and automated systems is the key to addressing threats in a timely manner.

 

The ACTC has four regional cyber technology hubs: two in the United States, one in Australia and one that opened recently in the United Kingdom.

 

Executives said the ACTC is the next step towards ensuring that the company maintains cyber programs to address the global threats that are constantly evolving.

 

"Through the ACTC, we can collaborate across our global presence to develop strategic capabilities that address a variety of customer and mission needs," Purvis said. "We're pursuing the best, most innovative ideas and investing affordably to bolster our nation's cyber resiliency."


Photo Credit: Thinkstock

McCain Emerges as Pentagon’s Last Hope to Avert Sequester
By Sandra I. Erwin
 

Sen. Tim Kaine

Pentagon pleas for relief from drastic spending cuts are getting scant attention as the lame-duck Congress becomes enmeshed in partisan fighting over immigration reform and the threat of a government shutdown.
 
But there is still fresh hope for defense in the new Congress when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., takes the gavel as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
 
"With McCain, you have a very, very vigorous opponent to sequestration," Sen. Tim Kaine, D-VA, told a gathering of defense industry executives this week.
 
Kaine, who has served with McCain on Armed Services, also firmly opposes the automatic spending cuts, or sequester. He urged defense executives to join forces with McCain. "He fundamentally believes that sequestration is harming our nation's defense," Kaine said.
 
Although McCain has frequently hammered defense contractors for mismanaging military programs and overspending, the industry now needs to view him as a partner, Kaine added. "Having a Republican chairman who is vigorously passionate against sequestration is very important," he said. "McCain will be a good ally."
 
Defense CEOs have had an uneasy relationship with McCain. As the ranking Republican on Armed Services over the past eight years, he has called for the termination of big-ticket military programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the USS Ford aircraft carrier and the Littoral Combat Ship. He also has chastised the Pentagon for poor stewardship of procurement dollars.
 
“Once a program reaches a certain point and has enough constituencies around the country, you can't stop it," McCain said in 2012. "Some of these programs need to be stopped.” And he has condemned corrupt business practices in the defense sector. “We have a revolving door between the Pentagon and industry. … There is an environment where overruns are not a major concern."
 
Despite such disapproval, defense industry officials are encouraged by the prospect that McCain might be able to sway votes against sequester in fiscal year 2016.
 
“Sen. McCain has crossover with the Foreign Relations Committee and will be extremely active on national security policy,” said retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold Punaro, chairman of the board of the National Defense Industrial Association.
 
Punaro said the industry is optimistic about the new GOP leadership in both the Senate and House Armed Services Committees. McCain and incoming HASC Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, are highly experienced on defense issues, with a combined 52 years on the authorizing committees.
 
“They have dealt with increases and decreases in budgets, previous drawdowns, base closures, numerous conflicts and wars, five different administrations, 10 secretaries of defense and 10 Joint Chiefs of Staff chairs,” said Punaro. “Both have had to cooperate and confront when necessary.” Of note to defense industry, he said, is that while McCain and Thornberry have different leadership styles, they share common goals to repeal sequester, improve acquisition, increase oversight, and ensure the relevance and timeliness of authorizers.
 
Pentagon officials have not spoken publicly about the new leadership on Capitol Hill, but have ramped up the rhetoric against sequester and have called on the lame-duck Congress to replace the continuing resolution that funds the government through Dec. 11 with a full-year appropriation. It now appears unlikely that Congress will pass an “omnibus” appropriations bill in December to replace the CR.
 
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said the military badly needs more money and funding stability as national security crises escalate. "We need additional top line for emerging and additional requirements,” he said Nov. 19 at the Defense One summit in Washington, D.C.
 
Dempsey said military leaders have to “convince members of Congress not only that the Defense Department needs more money, but that it must begin to operate under a new set of rules than the current budgetary deadlock allows.”
 
The Obama administration’s defense budget request for 2016-2020 exceeds the congressionally mandated spending limits by $110 billion. If Congress rejects that request and enforces the caps set by law, military budgets would go up by $43 billion over the next five years. The Pentagon has insisted that even that increase would put the military in a bind because it does not cover the rate of inflation.
 
Punaro noted that in the 114th Congress, the Republican House and Senate will have more conservative conferences, which means any budget decisions will have to be deficit neutral. “There is not as much leverage to force policy changes or block changes through the debt ceiling, reconciliation or appropriations process as either side seems to think.”
 
Even if the Pentagon gets more money next year, higher appropriations alone do not remove the sequester caps. That would require a bipartisan deal.
The incoming GOP senators ran campaigns of “no compromise,” Punaro said. “They replace Democrats who were punished for their perceived support of the president. Will these Republicans senators now say, ‘Let’s compromise with the president?’”
 
In his remarks to industry CEOs, Kaine lamented how profoundly dysfunctional the legislative process has become, to the point of undermining the United States’ standing in the world. “A Congress that does nothing,” Kaine said, “sends a message of national decline."

Photo Credit: Scott Rekdal

Air Force Poised to Make Key Decisions on Weapon Acquisitions
By Sandra I. Erwin


Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski


The Air Force is maneuvering big-ticket programs in tight budget spaces.

Acquisitions of new weapons such as replacements for aging bombers, surveillance airplanes and trainer aircraft are caught in a zero-sum game as the Air Force struggles to fit expensive programs under a flat budget top line, said Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.
 
“It's a jigsaw puzzle as we try to live within budget constraints,” she said Nov. 19 during a meeting with reporters in Washington, D.C.
 
To ease the pressure, the Air Force is extending its modernization time horizon 10 years out, rather than the usual five-year cycle used to plan military budgets.
 
The answer to almost every question about program timelines and budgets is “it depends,” Pawlikowski said. Decisions on key programs are being made based on commanders’ needs, weapons costs and how they fit into the Air Force’s 10-year plan.
 
The Air Force has ascertained the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, the KC-46A refueling tanker and a new long-range strike bomber as its top three priorities. A new trainer, called T-X, and a replacement for the JSTARS radar plane are also on the service’s wish list, but funding them requires dollar-for-dollar trades in order to protect the top items.
 
Contractors await Air Force decisions on a replacement for JSTARS, or joint surveillance target attack radar system, and the T-X trainer in 2015. Pawlikowski did not provide firm dates, but suggested the Air Force might be ready to move forward next year.
 
Issues remain unresolved about the desired features and price of a JSTARS replacement. Officials are still debating the size of the radar and analyzing the risk of installing complex sensors aboard airplanes such as commercial business jets that are not typically equipped with sensitive military electronics.
 
The current JSTARS was built on a Boeing 707 airplane and it is used for surveillance of ground and air targets. If the Air Force chooses to buy a new airplane, the “biggest risk” is the integration of the sensors and the battle-command software, she said.
 
“We expect to reach a milestone decision in early 2015,” said Pawlikowski. That would give the Air Force the green light to proceed into the so-called “technology maturation risk reduction phase” when military buyers will be able to work more closely with contractors to better understand the art of the possible. The final requirements would not be settled for another year.
 
“One of the challenges we see right now as we move forward is the need for us to have a better connection with what the industry can provide,” she said. “I want to get past the ‘glossy brochure’ piece of the engagement with industry and into the 'no kidding’” dialogue about specs and cost.
 
“The budget is still in flux,” Pawlikowski said, and noted that this is essentially the reality for every program. The Air Force requested $100 million for JSTARS recapitalization in fiscal year 2015, and an additional $2.4 billion over the next five years.
 
The current JSTARS prime contractor, Northrop Grumman Corp., will propose a modernization plan. Several competitors, including The Boeing Co., Gulfstream, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins and Bombardier are reportedly poised to compete with different aircraft makes and models.
 
The potentially $16 billion T-X jet trainer program is in a similar state of play as the Air Force weighs requirements against cost. The Air Education and Training Command is still debating how the program should move forward. The original goal was to buy 350 aircraft to replace aging T-38 trainers. The number could change. The 2015 budget includes $503 million for T-X over the next five years.
 
A big question is whether the Air Force will choose an existing aircraft or a clean-sheet design. Pawlikowski said all options are on the table. “We want to keep the trade space completely open." Among the contenders are the Northrop Grumman/BAE Systems’ Hawk jet trainer, Alenia Aermacchi’s M346 and the T-50 offered by Lockheed Martin and Korean Aerospace Industries. Textron Airland recently announced it would enter its commercially designed Scorpion as a candidate. Boeing, which has teamed with Saab North America, has suggested the company might propose a new design.
 
The T-X program is different than previous trainer procurements because it includes simulators to supplement live flying. Pawlikowski said a request for proposals could come in 2015, but the schedule could slip. “We are still in final stages of tweaking requirements.”
 
Also on next year’s calendar is a decision on who will design and manufacture the Air Force’s top-secret bomber that will replace Cold War-era B-52s. Northrop Grumman and a Boeing-Lockheed team are vying for the highly coveted award. The Air Force said it will buy up to 100 bombers that will be part of a “family of systems” including unmanned drones.
 
Pawlikowski declined to discuss details as most of the program specifications are classified. “We expect a decision in spring 2015,” she said.
 
The Air Force might, too, take the “family of weapons” approach as it studies concepts for future fighter jets. As part of an “air dominance initiative,” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is putting together ideas. Both the Air Force and Navy are participating in the project. Pawlikowski said a probable path for that program will be a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft. “Everyone focuses on ‘the fighter,’” she said. “But the answer to next generation air dominance is likely to be a family, like the long-range bomber.”
 
The coming year also will be a pivotal one for the KC-46 tanker, a modified 767 jet that Boeing is building to replace outdated KC-135 aerial refueling airplanes.
 
The program is being closely watched because it is a fixed-price deal where the contractor is obligated to absorb any cost overruns above the agreed price of $4.9 billion for 179 aircraft. Boeing already has run into difficulties. The tanker was set to make its first flight this summer but the schedule slipped due to an electrical wiring issue. Pawlikowski said the flight is now planned for December.
 
The Air Force still anticipates it will receive 18 new tankers by August 2017. “We think it's achievable,” she said. “Boeing gave us a progress report last week. We expect them to present revised schedule in February.”
 
Boeing has struggled on the “most challenging” part of the program, which is integration and testing, she said. The wiring issue has “proven to be more challenging for them than they originally anticipated.”


Photo Credit: Space Foundation

New Amphibious Ship Requirements Coming Next Summer
By Valerie Insinna


LPD-17

NORFOLK, Va. — The Navy is currently working through the preliminary design of a new amphibious ship, the LX(R), and expects to release requirements next July, a service official said Nov 19. 

Key to the program will be driving down costs, including leveraging the design of the current LPD-17 class amphibious transport docks and commercial technologies, said Capt. Erik Ross, head of the Navy’s amphibious warfare branch during a speech at NDIA’s expeditionary warfare conference.

"The challenge that we face now is to ensure that the cost reduction initiatives and the partnerships that we already have with industry continues as we work our way through preliminary design and contract design,” he said.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Commandant Gen. James Amos and Sean Stackley, the Navy’s head of acquisition, signed a memorandum of understanding in October that a modified LPD hull, rather than a clean-sheet or existing foreign design, is the preferred way forward on the program. The LX(R) will replace the aging dock landing ships, more commonly called the LSD. 

That decision brings new implications to current talks between the Navy and Congress on the potential construction of an additional LPD-17 class ship, said Marine Corps Maj. Gen Robert Walsh, director of expeditionary warfare. The service may be able to use LPD-28 as a bridge ship between the current production line and LX(R), Walsh said. 

The Navy needs to explore how an LX(R) will improve the LSD in terms of independent operations, command and control, aviation and maintenance, as well as what efficiencies can be found in the LPD design, he told reporters. “How can you get a lot of the things from that LPD-17 hull form but at less cost? What are the things you can trade to maximize the capability?”

Congress has supported the construction of a 28th LPD and has appropriated about half of the necessary funding. However, it has to be affordable, said Thomas Dee, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for expeditionary programs and logistics management. 

In fiscal year 2013, Congress put aside about 10 percent of the cost of the vessel in a shipbuilding account, he said. House and Senate committees have appropriated as much as $800 million for the ship in 2015, but Stackley said earlier this year that he could not build the ship unless Congress found a way to appropriate the more than $1 billion sum remaining to completely fund the ship.

The Navy plans to release a request for proposals for LX(R) in fiscal year 2017, with delivery of the first ship in 2026, Ross said.

Because of the pressure to find a LSD-replacement that will be affordable enough to design and procure during a fiscally constrained time, the requirements development process for LX(R) has been entirely unlike anything Walsh has experienced, he said. The Navy has engaged defense companies — such as General Dynamics NASSCO and Huntington Ingalls Industries — to devise cost lowering strategies.

“We're so far ahead of the game,” he said.

One idea is to replace military specific technology with less expensive commercial products, Ross said. 

“The question is, 'do I need a coffee pot that's milspec?'" he asked. “That’s an extreme example. A better one is … do you need all of the valves and pumps and motors on the entire ship to be milspec, or can you just target them in the areas that need to be more survivable?”

Walsh said the Navy is also investigating whether commercial engines may be used on the LX(R) in lieu of the four military engines that power the LPD-17. 

Commercial products sometimes are less reliable and have a shorter lifespan than the military standard version, Ross said. For that reason, the Navy will have to weigh tradeoffs among reliability, cost and survivability and analyze the total ownership costs.

"There's only so much you can do potentially with regard to commercial specs and changes without driving more cost back into the design,” through operations and sustainment costs, he said. “You've got to do a lot of work to make sure it's right."

Backup and critical systems, such as those that support cooling and propulsion, will remain rugged and high-tech, he added.

Photo Credit: Navy

Lack of Strategy, Accountability Feeds Rampant Corruption in Afghanistan
By Yasmin Tadjdeh



A lack of strategy and accountability by the United States Agency for International Development, the State Department and the Defense Department is fueling the rampant corruption plaguing Afghanistan reconstruction efforts, said John Sopko, inspector general for reconstruction in the country.

“It takes two to tango, and we helped the corruption situation by pouring so much money so quickly in such a poor country without any real thought on how it could affect the local economy and lead to corruption,” he said Nov. 18 during a meeting with defense reporters in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. government has funneled billions of dollars into humanitarian projects in Afghanistan, making it the costliest reconstruction effort in U.S. history, Sopko said.

In an October report to Congress, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction found that since 2002, nearly $104.1 billion in relief and reconstruction funds had been appropriated. An additional $5.8 billion will be added if the president’s fiscal year 2015 budget is approved, the report said.

Despite the tremendous amount of money going into programs, much has been squandered, 
Sopko noted.

Whether it was dishonest contractors, Afghans stealing money or U.S. military captains taking kickbacks, hundreds of millions of dollars have been stolen. The biggest problem is the lack of an overarching, anti-corruption strategy, Sopko said.

“We’ve been here for 13, 14 years. It’s 2014 and we don’t have a counter anti-corruption strategy for Afghanistan. So you understand why things are the way they are, because you need that strategy,” he said. “The strategy … should be driving all of your programs. But if you have no strategy, your programs are just going all over the place.”

Stolen or misused money could have been spent to make a greater difference in the lives of Afghans, Sopko said. In one example, he lamented the controversial purchase of three mobile television production trucks in 2011 by the State Department that were to be donated to Afghan television stations at a cost of $3.6 million. That money could have been used to buy prosthetic limbs for children instead, he said.

“I think the kids would have loved to have legs rather than having balloons and kites and TV trucks that are still sitting under wraps in some bone yard in Afghanistan,” he said. “We could have spent it better and maybe had a better difference and bigger impact.”

As the United States begins paring back troops in Afghanistan, corruption is getting “significantly” worse, Sopko said.

“You figure that U.S. troops are leaving … so you have a chance to steal money. You pay $10,000 to get a job [and] you don’t know if you’re going to have that job, so you’re going to steal as much as you can before the end happens,” he said.

And with troops leaving the country, the task forces and oversight organizations the Pentagon set up in recent years to counter corruption have left, he said.

“A lot of these organizations and task forces we worked with are all gone now. We’re the only ones there,” Sopko said. “We’re the largest law enforcement and oversight presence in Afghanistan and I’ve only got 40 some people.”

In addition to a firm strategy, accountability is also critical, Sopko noted.

“We have not found people really held accountable for screws up. … It’s almost like a toddler’s sports game — everybody’s a winner. Everybody’s succeeded in Afghanistan, everybody got a promotion, everybody got a better job. I have not found anybody who’s lost a job for screwing up, and there have been a lot of screw ups in Afghanistan,” Sopko said. 

“The classic example is the economy. Who is in charge of trying to help the economy and has that person been held accountable for what has been an abysmal failure?” he asked.

Photo Credit: Army
Vice CNO: Sequestration Threatens Littoral Combat Ship, Mission Modules
By Valerie Insinna



NORFOLK, Va. — The littoral combat ship’s mine countermeasures module will be a key enabler for the Marine Corps that will keep expeditionary forces out of bomb infested waters, the vice chief of naval operations said Nov. 18.

But if sequestration returns in fiscal year 2016, it could pose a risk to the program, Adm. Michelle Howard said at NDIA’s annual expeditionary warfare conference.

“My biggest concern and challenge is whether or not we end up being sequestered. That is my biggest concern and challenge to the LCS and the mission modules and for us to be able to replace those aging mine countermeasure ships out there,” she said 

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert testified on Capitol Hill in September that if sequester is reinstated, the Navy will only be able to maintain a force of about 250 to 255 ships, she said. Today, it has a force of about 290, which means that “over the course of five years, we would have to reduce that force structure in order to keep other ships ready."

As to whether the Navy would have to cut the LCS total buy or to stretch out production of its 32 vessels, Howard said, “Until we know what would happen [with sequestration], we wouldn’t be able to make those decisions.”

She urged industry members in the audience to appeal to their representatives in Congress and the Senate. Outside of the House and Senate armed services committees, many elected officials are not aware of how sequestration negatively impacts the military, Howard said.

“You are constituents of someone,” she said. “As you folks come from … different parts of the country, you probably have a senator or congressman who may or may not be familiar with the services that you provide to the military. … Helping educate [them] will really make a difference.”

The littoral combat ship has been heavily criticized by some Navy officials and other experts who believe it is not survivable enough in combat, and that its mission modules for surface warfare, mine countermeasures and anti-submarine warfare have lagged in development.

Howard said she felt confident in the capability of the platform and its mission packages, especially in comparison to the legacy mine countermeasures ships.

Underwater mines are just one of the methods that future adversaries could employ to deny the Navy and Marine Corps access. It’s clear that China is developing systems meant to create an anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) environment, and adversaries in the Mediterranean and Middle East could use similar tactics, Howard said. The U.S. military must figure out how to maneuver into those areas.

"How do you rework technology so that we can gain access to those areas and then be able to sustain access in those areas, so that if we had to, we could dominate in a warfight?” she asked.

One possibility is for surface ships to gradually move into an area and then introduce expeditionary forces, she said. “Definitely, in this case, you want to have something like LCS and its mission packages … because that ship is self deployable” and speedier than legacy ships, so it can quickly move to a denied environment and create “maneuver space for the forces to flow in behind us.”

Photo Credit: Navy
NDIA Names Retired Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley its New President and CEO
By Stew Magnuson

 The National Defense Industrial Association announced Nov. 18 that retired Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley will be the association’s next president and CEO, effective Jan. 1.

McKinley is currently president of the Air Force Association, a role he assumed Oct. 1, 2012.  McKinley succeeds current NDIA President and CEO Larry Farrell who announced his retirement after serving in that capacity since 2001.
 
McKinley, a 38-year-veteran of the Air Force, retired as the first four-star chief of the National Guard Bureau, where he also served as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“The board conducted an extensive search for the most qualified individual to serve as our next president and CEO,” said NDIA Chairman Arnold Punaro.

“With Gen. McKinley, we will have the leadership in place to help introduce a new era at NDIA. In addition to his outstanding military career — which included leading the National Guard during a period when they were extensively committed to combat operations overseas as well as major disaster relief operations at home — he brings a successful track record leading a large defense and aerospace association. Craig is well-known and highly respected by Congress, the executive branch and industry,” Punaro added.

McKinley received his commission in 1974 as a distinguished graduate of the ROTC program at Southern Methodist University. He served in numerous assignments in flying and operations, as well as command positions at group, wing, sector and field operating agency levels. He was a command pilot with more than 4,000 hours, primarily in the T-38, F-106, F-16 and F-15. Additionally, he has been pilot in command in the C-131 and C-130 operational support airlift aircraft.

His assignments included commander of the 1st Air Force, Air Combat Command and commander of the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.

He served as the assistant deputy chief of staff for plans and programs at the Air Force headquarters, in Washington, D.C., and director of the mobilization and reserve affairs directorate at U.S. European Command, Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany.

As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was a military adviser to the president, the secretary of defense, the National Security Council and was the Department of Defense’s official channel of communication to the governors and to state adjutants general on all matters pertaining to the National Guard.

Among his military decorations are the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster; Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit; Meritorious Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters; Air Force Achievement Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters; Combat Readiness Medal with four bronze oak leaf clusters; and National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star.

McKinley graduated with a Bachelor's degree in business administration at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, in 1974; and received his Master's degree in management and economics, at Webster College, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1979, and at the National War College, National Defense University, in 1995.


McKinley and his wife, Cheryl, reside in Arlington, Virginia.
High Water-Speed Still a Priority for Marine Corps' Amphibious Assault Vehicle

By Valerie Insinna


NORFOLK, Va. — The Marine Corps spent $3.5 billion and 25 years developing an amphibious assault vehicle that can skim on top of the water at high speeds. Even though four of its attempts floundered, the service has not given up on creating a vehicle with that capability, officials said Nov. 17.

The service’s amphibious combat vehicle — the latest follow on to the AAV — drops the high water-speed requirement, but the Marine Corps will pursue other efforts aimed at developing the technology, said Lt. Col. James MacArthur, director of the Marine Corps’ fires and maneuver integration division capabilities development directorate.

“We’re going to get after this high water-speed piece because it is still a real requirement for the Marine Corps,” he said during NDIA’s annual expeditionary warfare conference.

An amphibious combat vehicle with high water-speed capability is currently technically feasible, but only after trading the survivability and lethality that Marines require to operate on land, said Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, deputy commandant of combat development and integration and the commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

“You can do that. You can actually get a vehicle about that size to get on top of the plane and do 25 knots, but at a price, and that was not only just in dollars, it was capability of the vehicle,” he said. “To be able to get up on the water, you have to be light, and to be light, it means you're not going to have the armor requirements, force protection that you need.”

The Office of Naval Research, industry and the Navy’s requirements, acquisitions and operations personnel will explore three possibilities of high water-speed and report their findings by 2025, MacArthur said.

One effort will involve upgrading an ACV or another existing vehicle to have temporary high water-speed capabilities, he said. Another possibility — the“gold standard” — is a clean sheet design that is capable of high water speeds without having to make trade offs in its protection, lethality and mobility. If neither of these vehicles is within the realm of possibility, a last effort involves further development of ship-to-shore connectors to ferry the vehicles ashore.

Some have called previous attempts at developing a high water-speed capable vehicle a failure, but it was only after that experience that the service could go forward with confidence in pursuing the ACV, MacArthur said.

Critics called it “a waste of time, money, etcetera,” he said. “I don’t really look at it as a failure. I honestly think we learned a lot of things. We learned what we can and what we can’t do. We had to go through this painful period. We had to spend this money.”

Meanwhile, the competition for ACV is ongoing. The service is looking for a modified commercial, off-the-shelf wheeled vehicle with the ability to withstand improvised explosive devices, landmines and armor-piercing direct fire, according to a video shown at the conference. It will be equipped with an M2 heavy machine gun and a remote weapons system with the potential to add a dual-mount stabilized mark 19 grenade launcher.

The ACV will carry a gunner, driver, vehicle commander and up to 13 combat-loaded troops. Two vehicles will be needed to transport a reinforced rifle squad.

"Recent demonstrations have shown the potential for 12 nautical mile ship-to-shore capability with an eight nautical mile per hour water speed,” the video said. “However, this will need to be tested."

The Marine Corps put out a draft request for proposals this month, and a revised draft will likely be issued in December, MacArthur said. A final RFP is slated for February or March 2015. Two vendors will be selected to compete for the program, and the Marine Corps plans to down select to a single competitor as early as fiscal year 2016.

ACV 1.1 could reach initial operational capability as early as 2020. The lethality and survivability of the ACV 1.1 will be improved in later iterations, said MacArthur.

To bridge the gap between ACV and the current amphibious assault vehicle, the Marine Corps plans on modernizing 392 of its 1,058-vehicle fleet, he said.

Photo Credit: Marine Corps

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