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Weekly Defense Industry Roundup

Posted by Kathleen Smith

Fred Wellman with General Petraeus in Iraq

Fred Wellman, President ScoutComms, brings us his weekly review of defense industry news via The Scout Report. Fred served over twenty years as an Army officer in both aviation and public affairs. You can follow Fred on Twitter @ScoutComms.

Veterans Affairs secretary vows to help veterans get work
Bill Barrow, The New Orleans Times-Picayune. Speaking at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Veterans Small Business Conference and Expo in New Orleans, VA Secretary Shinseki vowed to continue efforts to improve veteran’s employment and growth in small business opportunities as well. The department says it has awarded over $2 billion in contracts and sub-contracts to veteran owned businesses this fiscal year and plans to expand it even more.

Injured troops face bureaucracy to leave military
Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press. The new system meant to streamline the transition process for service members leaving the military from DoD to VA has still not reached its goal of shortening the process from the previous separate system. After four years of pilot and fielding to the entire military, wait times average 400 days after the first year of DoD process that determines the service member will be separated from the military. Unfortunately the service member is left in a state of limbo throughout the process as they are often too physically limited to do many tasks in uniform, but can’t move on to the civilian job market. Outgoing head of Army personnel MG Gary Cheek is floating the idea of getting the Army completely out of the disability rating process. He is pitching for the Army to make a simple whether the soldier can serve or not, then accepting whatever rating the VA gives the soldier. It would cut the process down to 90 days and save millions of dollars.

New Fort Belvoir Military Hospital Primed and Ready, Officials Say
Streve Vogel, Washington Post. After six long years the final phase of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) directed medical consolidations will occur in the National Capital Region in the coming three weeks. The last patients will depart Walter Reed and move to new facilities in Bethesda and Ft. Belvoir. The new Ft. Belvoir hospital was built as a community hospital focused on whole family care and long term issues. It will have 3,000 staff and 150 beds, quadrupling the capacity of the facility it replaces, 57 year-old Dewitt Army Hospital. Both new hospitals will provide a much needed modernization of facilities that were run down by age and a dramatic rise in patient loads after ten years of war.

Wanted: A Good Job and Some Understanding
Jonathan Raab, NY Times ‘At War’ blog. I tend to be somewhat critical of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America but to his credit founder Paul Reickhoff has brought on some eloquent writers to tell the story of today’s veterans. In this compelling post from one of the spokesmen he paints the picture of what it’s like to be a young veteran of today’s wars and facing an uncertain job market filled with common stereotypes, and even truths, that are hard to overcome in reducing the markedly higher unemployment rate for young vets.

McHugh Creates Commission to Streamline Army Bureaucracy
Megan Scully, National Journal. In a speech to members of the Senior Executive Service on Monday Army Secretary John McHugh announced the creation of a long term task force to examine ways to streamline and realign the Army’s massive bureaucracy. The Institutional Army Transformation Commission (IATC) will build on the work of a short term project McHugh directed earlier this year. IATC will work toward finding ways to better manage the nation’s largest service with an institutional structure that has changed little since the 1970’s but has grown substantially after 10 years of war.

U.S. Army Picks BAE, GD for Ground Combat Vehicle
Kate Brannen, Defense News. In a surprise move the Army announced Thursday that only two of the three teams competing for the multi-billion dollar Ground Combat Vehicle program were awarded development contracts to take their designs to the next phase of the competition and develop prototypes. Teams led by BAE Systems, Inc. and General Dynamics were green lighted while a team led by SAIC was left out of the remainder of the competition. The Army plans to buy some 1,800 vehicles and the price has been targeted at $13 million per vehicle including spare parts. Defense acquisition chief Dr. Ashton Carter only the day before signed the memorandum authorizing the competition to proceed to the next step of development. No word on a protest from the SAIC team though it’s entirely likely they will fight the decision with so few major ground systems deals in development.

White House Wants Budget Options for Defense Cuts
Kate Brannen, Defense News. Kate Brannen was pretty busy Thursday following up the GCV announcement with this story on the directive from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to all federal agencies. OMB asked the agencies to draw up spending plan cuts of both 5%, and the worst case scenario of 10% in the recent budget ceiling deal.  In an August, 17 memo the administration is putting together the plans needed to get the budget to meet the Congressional deal. If enacted the cuts could be devastating to the DoD and is commonly called the “doomsday trigger” when discussed. SecDef Pannetta is already regularly using the threat of a “hollow force” if those cuts are kicked in. That drumbeat will only get louder come September as the Super Committee gets to work.

Audit: Army, Interior Broke Law by Awarding Contract to Alaska Native Corporation
Robert O’Harrow, Jr., Washington Post. Federal auditors have concluded that the Departments of the Army and Interior broke the law by knowingly awarding a sole source contract to a tiny Delaware company that on paper was 51% owned by an Alaskan native corporation, and intended to subcontract all of the work to more established companies. This is part of a continuing set of stories by the Washington Post that looked into the abuse of laws meant to set aside contracts for native Alaskan companies. The Post has found that most of the money goes to companies with little real Alaskan employees or executives at all. A similar theme of inquiries is building on the awarding of Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business contracts where VA found that most were not really qualified.

ManTech Leads Companies Seen Losing Sales on U.S. Debt Deal
Jeff Plungis, Bloomberg News. Bloomberg takes a look at the market capitalization of companies against the new debt deal and who will take some of the hardest hits with likely cuts as currently laid out.  They highlight ManTech, Booz Allen and Northrup Grumman as especially vulnerable with over 90% of their revenue being generated from the government. But it’s perhaps a little shallow a look if you don’t look closely at what is likely to get cut. The 1990’s cuts are mentioned heavily and by all accounts this round will likely be approached entirely differently from the broad based axe cutting done previously. Many areas of defense spending may see much less cuts. The jury is very much still out on how it will all play out.

‘Doomsday’ Defense Cuts Loom Large for Select 12
Donna Cassata, Associated Press. The AP takes an interesting look at how the worst case scenario defense cuts might affect the 12 Congress members of the so called “Super Committee” as their home states are filled with many of the country’s top defense firms. Many are dismayed that none of the common defense-focused Representatives are on the committee. This story shows that while most of these 12 Congress members aren’t considered defense supporters, their constituency looms large with defense dollars.

VA Revamps Its Social Media Policy
Steve Vogel, Washington Post. The Department of Veterans Affairs has been aggressively embracing social media since 2009 with more than 100 Facebook pages, 50 Twitter feeds a YouTube channel, Flickr page and two official blogs, all run by a young team of former bloggers. Tuesday they rolled out the official policy for the entire department, encouraging employees to leverage social media to reach a greater number of veterans. The policy leaves little doubt of the embrace of this medium. Unlike other departments, VA states up front and in italics that the use of these channels is “highly” encouraged.

Firsthand View of Life With a Medal of Honor
Lindsay Wise, Houston Chronicle. Lindsay has the defense beat out of Houston and kicks out some great stories on the military on a pretty regular basis. She recently got a chance to interview Vietnam veteran and survivor of the Hanoi Hilton, Leo Thorsness on what wearing the medal means and the challenges it brings. He offers a unique perspective on the differences between the Vietnam military and today’s military.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 19, 2011 2:34 pm

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