Defense Roundup: Army Has Only Two Combat-Ready Brigades, GCV and Helo Programs in Doubt

Posted by Fred Wellman

Amid AUSA Spectacle, Stark Reminders of an Army in Crisis

Paul McLeary (@paulmcleary), Defense News. We covered the AUSA show this year pretty thoroughly for issues of interest to our readers and new angles from the organizers, but the news from the Army itself wasn’t terribly good. In briefing after briefing, Army leaders brought little to smile about. The biggest news item was Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno telling the media on day one that only two combat brigades in the entire Army are fully mission capable and that more cuts would see the service dip below their “floor” of 490,000 troops. Hints were made all week that the new Ground Combat Vehicle is all but doomed—same goes for new helicopter programs. The Army knows that it will be the biggest piece of flesh in further budget cut scenarios and the realization is a tough pill to swallow at the largest tradeshow in the country.

Service Branches to Congress: No Money, No New Weapons

J. Taylor Rushing, Stars and Stripes. While the AUSA show was rolling across town, the acquisitions heads for all four services appeared before the Tactical and Land Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee and painted a distressing picture of the future under sequester. The issues they discussed go beyond the uncompromising cuts that could continue for years to come and into the uncertainty and instability the nature of the budget battles is creating. There is simply no way to count on anything in the defense budget at this point with yet another three month continuing resolution until the next shutdown showdown. It’s a one-two punch for the military because new contracts can’t be launched and authorization to move funds between pots is denied. Cuts to everything from maintenance for aircraft and training of soldiers is the future and it appears Congress is happy to listen, nod seriously, express dismay at the terrible state of affairs, and then go right back to obfuscation, bickering, and dysfunctional politics as usual.

Marines Shoot Down Internet Story on Obama’s Alleged Push for ‘Girly-Hats’

Jennifer Hlad (@jhlad), Stars and Stripes. Every now and then one of those stories floats around social media that is so ridiculous you can’t believe anyone would think it’s real. The story from the New York Post and Washington Times with the headline ‘Obama wants Marines to wear ‘girly’ hats’ really couldn’t have been for real yet there it was last week. After just a day or two, the Marine Corps had to issue an official statement explaining that the president had nothing to do with the survey circulating on a new hat design and they were only looking at a new manufacturer because the previous one had gone out of business. By that time it was common talking point in certain political circles that this was yet another attempt by the Administration to “destroy the military”. To be clear: the president and political appointees have nothing to do with uniform decisions in any of the branches of the military. Don’t believe everything you read folks. This story was very strange as it lacked key similarities by two different authors in separate publications with the exact same wrong facts. There is a great analysis by Isaac Cubillows at that breaks it all down and explains how damaging these politically charged stories can be for military reporters. In the end, the story has died down and no one has taken responsibility for what is clearly a factually inaccurate story.

AUSA Extra

This past week, one of the biggest defense tradeshows came to DC: the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Expo. ScoutComms was on the ground with wall-to-wall coverage from our senior correspondent Gina Cavallaro and special correspondent John Grady. With two experienced, inquisitive reporters getting exclusive chats with General Ray Odierno and covering speeches by Robert Gates, ScoutComms had the latest from AUSA as-it-happened. Check out our AUSA Extra feature on our blog to see all of our coverage from the show.

Study: Lack of Financial Literacy May Trigger Vets’ Homelessness

Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Stars and Stripes. While mental health issues and struggles with transitioning to civilian life do lead to veterans winding up on the streets, a new study says that lack of financial literacy also plays a big role in why veterans end up homeless. The study also found service members had a lower familiarity with household budgets and were more targeted by predatory lenders than the general public, perhaps one reason why veterans are overrepresented in the homeless population. Financial literacy is also, the study points out, a potentially easier issue to address than addiction and mental health issues that are also contributing factors in homelessness. In their survey of 1,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, researchers found nearly a third had some money mismanagement problems and 4.5 percent were homeless. As the VA and philanthropic institutions work towards ending veteran homelessness, findings like addressing financial literacy will give service providers another pathway towards getting every veteran off the street.

Nevada School Shooting Victim Was ‘Trained to Help’

Martha Bellisle, Reno Gazette-Journal. Another tragic shooting involving a veteran this week: Afghanistan veteran and schoolteacher Michael Landsberry was killed this week while trying to stop a student with a gun from going on a shooting rampage. His friends say they weren’t surprised Michael stepped in, he had always been a hero, and the tragedy is that the world found out about his heroism this way. Landsberry was a former Marine who joined the Air National Guard after leaving the Corps. His ANG colleagues say they could never get the Corps out of him despite—or maybe in spite of—two tours in Afghanistan and multiple tours overseas to Kuwait and Germany. Veteran or civilian, we should all be inspired to be as brave and selfless as Michael Landsberry. Too often we focus on the evil behind tragedy. Michael’s story is one bright light in the dark.

Two-Day Forum Will Urge Action to Bolster Mental Health Support

Patricia Kime (@patriciakime), Military Times. Mental health advocates convened in Boston this week at a conference pushing for fewer delays and more equality in delivering health services. With heavy hitters like Vice President Joe Biden in attendance and a focus on veterans’ issues, the conference aimed to put mental injuries on the same level as physical ones when it comes to insurance coverage, urgency, and lack of stigma. Patrick Kennedy, nephew of the former president, organized the conference. The focus on veterans, he said, helps galvanize public support. Until we can treat veterans’ mental health issues with dignity and proper interventions, we won’t be able to do so for everyday Americans, the thought process goes.

Tradeshows & Conferences

Recovery week from AUSA. No major shows.

Our website has a full list of upcoming tradeshows

Congressional Hearings


Committee on Armed Services: Twenty-five Years of Acquisition Reform: Where do we go from here? Who: Mr. Pierre Chao, Senior Associate (Non-resident), International Security Program, Center for International and Strategic Studies, Mr. Paul Francis, Managing Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management, U.S. Government Accountability Office, Mr. Moshe Schwartz, Specialist in Defense Acquisition Policy, Congressional Research Service, The Honorable Dov Zakheim, Former Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) When: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Where: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Committee on Foreign Affairs: Next Steps on Egypt Policy Who: The Honorable A. Elizabeth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near East Affairs, U.S. Department of State,The Honorable Derek Chollet, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense, Ms. Alina Romanowski, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for the Middle East, U.S. Agency for International Development When: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations: Report from SIGAR: Challenges to Securing Afghan Women’s Gains in a Post-2014 Environment Who: Mr. John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction When: 1:00 PM, Tuesday. October 29, 2013 Where: 2212 Rayburn House Office Building

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: NSA Programs When: 1:30 PM, Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Where: HVC210 Capitol

Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific: After the Withdrawal: The Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan-Part II Who: Frederick W. Kagan, Ph.D., Christopher DeMuth Chair and Director, Critical Threats Project, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, General Jack Keane, USA, Retired, Chairman of the Board, Institute for the Study of War, Ms. Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, Asian Studies Center , The Heritage Foundation, Stephen Biddle, Ph.D., Adjunct Senior Fellow for Defense Policy, Council on Foreign Relations When: 2:15 PM, Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces: Nuclear Weapons Modernization Programs Who: Dr. Donald L. Cook, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, National Nuclear Security Administration, The Honorable Madelyn Creedon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, Department of Defense, General C. Robert Kehler, USAF
Commander, US Strategic Command, Dr. Jerry McDowell, Deputy Laboratories Director and Executive Vice President for National Security Programs, Sandia National Laboratories When: 3:30 PM, Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Where: 2212 Rayburn House Office Building

Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications: Cyber Incident Response: Bridging the Gap Between Cybersecurity and Emergency Management When: 9:00 AM, Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building

Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency: Facility Protection: Implications of the Navy Yard Shooting on Homeland Security When: 9:30 AM, Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Where: 210 Cannon House Office Building

Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations: Establishing a Syrian War Crimes Tribunal? When: 9:30 AM, Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: A Culture of Mismanagement and Wasteful Conference Spending at the Department of Veterans Affairs When: 9:30 AM, Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Where: 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs: Focused Issues on Dignified Burials: A National Cemetery Update When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Where: 334 Cannon House Office Building

Committee on the Budget: Budget-Conference Committee Meeting When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, October 30, 2013 Where: HC-5 Capitol


No relevant hearings this week.

Think Tanks & Other Events

US Institute of Peace: Iraq’s Transition: Remarks by Iraqi Prime Minister H.E. MR. Noori al-Maliki Who: Amb. Beth Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary of State – Near Eastern Affairs, H.E. Noori al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Republic of Iraq When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, October 31, 2013 Where: 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

New America Foundation: The Way Forward in Afghanistan: Embracing Opportunity in the Midst of Transition Who: Haseeb Humayoon, Member of Afghanistan 1400, Clare Lockhart, President, Institute for State Effectiveness, David Sedney, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, Eleanor Smeal, President, Feminist Majority Foundation When: 12:15 PM, Thursday, October 31, 2013 Where: 1899 L St., N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036

Homeland Security Policy Institute: Building a World Class Cyber Policy Workforce Who: Diana Burley, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University, Ronald Layton, Deputy Chief Information Officer, United States Secret Service, Michael Papay, Vice President & Chief Information Security Officer, Northrop Grumman Information Systems, Philip R. Reitinger, Senior Vice President & Chief Information Security Officer, Sony Corporation, Tony Sager, Founding Member, Council on Cybersecurity When: 9:30 AM, Friday, November 1, 2013 Where: 1957 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20052

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.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 28, 2013 11:40 am

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