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Defense Roundup: Defense Contractors Tapping New Talent to Lead Into an Uncertain Future, Veteran Unemployment Down

Posted by Fred Wellman

US Plans Radical Upgrade of Stryker Brigades

Paul McLeary (@paulmcleary), Defense News. The Army is planning on upgrading all nine of its existing Stryker equipped infantry brigades to the modernized and heavily armored “double V-hull” configuration as funding is available in the coming years. The DVH configuration is an upgrade that incorporates lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan and the MRAPs unique V shaped hull, which deflects sub-vehicle blast waves away from the crew compartment. The Army has struggled with what to do with the Strykers as they are somewhat less armored than most combat vehicles and vulnerable to IEDs and other threats. There was some question as to whether the Army would keep all nine Stryker equipped brigades and if those that remained would be updated to the new configuration. It seems that the decision is currently to keep all nine and as funds now allow for upgrades. Currently two brigades are complete with a third in the works for completion in fiscal year 2016. From there the plan becomes less assured of funding but the intent remains to keep the fast moving vehicles for the future. The advantage to the move is that the upgrades only cost about 40% of what a completely new vehicle costs and in light of challenges building and fielding almost any vehicle by the Army and Marines, it’s probably a smart money bet to stick with what you’ve got and keep making it better.

Ohio, Indiana Push for Place in Drone Industry

Lisa Cornwell, Associated Press. We reported last week that the Federal Aviation Administration finally announced the selection of six sites for its test program in support of integrating unmanned aircraft into the airspace of the U.S. The selections left several states with robust programs out of the running and faced with deciding their next steps. Ohio and Indiana are pressing forward with their own programs including a joint test hub called the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center and Test Complex in Springfield, Ohio supporting several test ranges where researchers can try out their UAVs. The selection by the FAA does not exclude the other competitors from moving forward with their own plans but means they will need waivers and exceptions to policy to conduct a host of tests like ‘see and avoid’ testing among manned aircraft. But the FAA isn’t the only entity still working on unmanned programs as DoD hasn’t slowed down one bit and NASA will be hosting a competition at Camp Atterbury in Indiana for that ‘sense and avoid’ technology. Unmanned flight has taken off as a growth industry with companies, schools, and governments scrambling to catch up with the increasing demand for low-cost commercial applications for everything from pipeline monitoring, crop dusting, livestock tracking, surveying of forest fires, and of course law enforcement. The investment in continued development in spite of the FAA’s decision has crossed the point of turning back for the over two dozen states left out of the selection and points to the momentum the UAS industry is gaining as privacy fears fade as enough to stop the tide.

New Crop of CEOs Arrives as Defense Industry Readies for Change

Marjorie Censer (@CommonCenser), Washington Post. The defense industry has been working to adjust to the new budget environment for a couple of years and now it will do so with almost an entire new crop of CEOs in the major companies. Each of them is an experienced defense industry executive with deep experience in the various players in the challenged sector. None of the major players are looking to shake things up with outside leadership or give analysts or investors any worries about steady experienced leadership at the helm of an already uncertain business model. The latest changes come to BAE Systems where Linda Hudson is stepping aside for Gerard DeMuro with a decade of work at General Dynamics on his resume. Airbus Group’s North American unit, formerly EADS North America, is losing Sean O’Keefe in March to be replaced by Allan McArtor out of the organizations own commercial aircraft division. Almost all of the big companies have seen changing of the guard in the last two years after reshaping their companies in preparation for the end of the large defense budgets since 9/11. The changes aren’t over yet and this next generation faces a period of realignment that has long been predicted and will likely see even the big contractors dramatically reshaped when all is said and done.

Defense Companies Brace for a Different Kind of Consolidation This Time Around

Marjorie Censer (@CommonCenser), Washington Post. Marjorie Censer is up with another good look at the challenges faced by the defense industry along with the changes in leadership above. This is a must read to get a picture of how the defense industry is set to change and why it won’t look like the last time there was a massive drawdown of military forces and budget cuts. Censer looks at the history of the industry and the 1990s contraction that led to mass mergers at the top and how this time around it won’t be the same kind of realignment. Most analysts are in consensus that what we’ll see in the next couple of years will be essentially a rearranging of parts and consolidations at lower levels of the sector around specific technologies and services. The most change will be among the huge number of services companies that have grown in the last decade into mass providers of defense manpower and expertise. The biggest lesson from the 90s was to be prepared. Martin-Marietta had been preparing for years before orchestrating its merger with Lockheed, which has made it the largest defense company in the world. Most companies have seen these dark days on the horizon and have been focusing on cutting overhead, boosting non-defense businesses, and seeking alternative customers and uses for their systems in hopes of weathering the tougher times. We’ll see first hand if those preparations have paid off.

GIs’ Suicides Fall While Vets’ Rise

Sig Christenson (@saddamscribe), San Antonio Express-News. Suicides among the active duty force decreased from 514 in 2012 to 415 in 2013, but the decrease may just be from troops transitioning out of the military as young veterans’ suicides nearly doubled from 2009 to 2011 according to a new VA report. This mirrors what is currently being seen in the civilian population as suicide is a leading cause of death among young people. Despite the drop in military suicides, it’s impossible to determine which of the many initiatives the military has put in place may be behind the drop or even if it’s the programs and not simply the effect of a less combat-intensive military life. For young veterans, those under 30 years old, the increasing rate is troubling and the reasons behind it still unclear. VA officials point to transition troubles, PTSD struggles, and other pressures as likely culprits. The only mitigating factor seems to be veterans receiving VA care—only about 5 of the 22 veterans who commit suicide per day are VA patients.

Unemployment Rate for Vets Dropped in December

George Altman, Army Time. Year-end job numbers showed a big drop in the number of unemployed young veterans in December, but they are still experiencing unemployment at a rate 4.3 percent higher than their civilian peers according to analysis from IVMF. That gap has been increasing since November 2006, which means that young veterans are facing distinctly different challenges than their civilian peers in finding work. While the unemployment rates go down, the gap could still remain and should remain top-of-mind for policymakers and advocates concerned about transitioning military issues. Veterans over the age of 25 are generally much better off employment-wise than their younger peers both in rates and in gaps versus civilians.

Army Inactivating 5 of 29 Warrior Transition Units

Chris Carroll (@ChrisCarroll_), Stars and Stripes. Another sign of the times: the Army is shutting down five Warrior Transition Units for wounded Soldiers. WTUs focus long-term care on Soldiers during their recovery and were created after the scandal at the old Walter Reed. The winding down of combat operations in Afghanistan means fewer Soldiers are coming home with serious injuries that need the intense care of a WTU. Soldiers and families currently being served by the five to-be-inactivated WTUs will be transitioned to other WTUs which could require a change of duty station.

TWT Casualty Kristina Wong Back on the Horse

Patrick Tutwiler, Mediabistro. Right before the holidays, The Washington Times did a major restructuring that saw many journos cut from the staff. Venerable defense reporter Kristina Wong was among them but just this week she started a new gig writing for The Hill on Congressional defense issues and publishing on their DefCon Hill blog. She replaces Carlo Munoz who left The Hill in order to freelance and finish up his master’s degree. We’re looking forward to seeing more of their work!

Jake Tapper Is Getting Attacked For Saying What Many Are Thinking About Afghanistan

Paul Szoldra, Business Insider. Late Friday, the Twitter outrage machine went into overdrive after CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Lone Survivor’s Marcus Luttrell and asked about the “senselessness” and “hopelessness” he felt while watching the movie. Luttrell responded and summed up his counterpoint by asking if Tapper thought those SEALs “died for nothing.” Oddly, plenty jumped onto an anti-Tapper bandwagon despite the reporter being the author of The Outpost which likely led to two Medal of Honor citations and proceeds of which went to organizations like TAPS. Szoldra sums up the best of the pro-Tapper arguments here and also delves into the deeper issue of whether questioning the current war in Afghanistan is anti-military or otherwise unpatriotic.

Tradeshows & Conferences

AUSA’s ILW Army Aviation & Expo (Tue-Wed, 14-15, January); Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, VA

We recently updated our full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearings

House:

Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces: Joint Hearing: People’s Republic of China Maritime Disputes Who: Mr. Peter Dutton, Professor and Director, Strategic Researcher, China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College, Ms. Bonnie S. Glaser, Senior Adviser for Asia, Freeman Chair in China Studies and Senior Associate, Pacific Forum, Center for Strategic and International Studies When: 2:00 PM, Tuesday, January 14, 2014 Where: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations: Vendors in the OR – VA’s Failed Oversight of Surgical Implants When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Where: 334 Cannon House Office Building

Committee on Foreign Affairs: South Sudan’s Broken Promise When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Committee on Homeland Security: A False Narrative Endangers the Homeland Who: Honorable Joe Lieberman, former Connecticut Senator, Honorable Jane Harman, former California Congresswoman, Director, Wilson Center, General (Ret.) Jack Keane, former Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building

Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere: NAFTA at Twenty: Accomplishments, Challenges, and the Way Forward When: 2:00 PM, Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel: Future Recruiting Challenges in the Fiscally Constrained Environment Who: Rear Admiral Lower Half Annie B. Andrews, Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, U.S. Navy, Major General Mark A. Brilakis, Commanding General of Recruiting Command, U.S. Marine Corps, Brigadier General Gina Grosso, Director of Force Management Policy, U.S. Air Force, Ms. Vee Penrod, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy, Department of Defense, Major General Thomas Seamands, Director of Military Personnel Management, U.S. Army When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, January 16, 2014 Where: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Senate:

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Hearings to Examine Conference and Travel Spending Across the Federal Government When: 10:30 AM, Tuesday, January 14, 2014 Where: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight: Hearings to Examine Management of Air Traffic Controller Training Tactics When: 2:30 PM, Tuesday, January 14, 2014 Where: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Hearings to Examine the Future of Unmanned Aviation in the United States Economy, Focusing on Safety and Privacy Considerations When: 2:30 PM, Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Where: 253 Russell Senate Office Building

Think Tanks & Other Events

New America Foundation: Battlefield Earth What: A look at the future of the AUMF with the war in Afghanistan winding down but other GWOT issues still in play. When: 12:45 PM, Monday, January 13, 2014 Where: 1899 L Street NW Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036

Center for Economic Policy and Research: Asylum in Latin America & Snowden When: 12:00 PM, Wednesday, January 15, 2014 Where: 1101 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

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, January 13, 2014 8:03 am

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