Defense Roundup: “Drones” a word you can’t say in public, veterans helping veterans in Texas, military epidemics misnamed

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AUVSI Convention Shows Trends Toward Civilian, International UAV’s

Aaron Mehta (@AaronMehta), Defense News. Last week’s Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International annual show in Washington D.C. generated a lot of stories on the state of the industry and the future for this unique family of systems. There are few products that stir passions as much as UAVs…or drones as they are commonly known. One theme that came out of this year’s very well attended conference was the desire to stop calling UAVs ‘drones’ as Breaking Defense wryly noted, the WiFi password for media was “DONTSAYDRONES”.  With the war in Afghanistan winding down the U.S. market for combat unmanned systems is waning except around more advanced models like the Navy’s UCLASS. International interest is picking up and this year’s show had a decided focus on the civil applications available for remotely controlled aircraft from disaster monitoring, crop surveys, to assisting police. Several states sent delegations to the conference to try and win one of six UAV test zones from the FAA. Even as the debate over privacy and safety rages in varied corners of the nation, pockets of amateur enthusiasts are forging ahead with their own designs and testing them at fly-ins. In the end, all of the hand wringing will probably be overcome by the simplicity, utility, and growing use for these simple civilian models. It is shaping up that while a national level fight over airspace access and Constitutional issues drags on, the grassroots movement to find local uses will make the whole argument moot and leave the pundits sputtering again.

Arinc Sold to Rockwell Collins

Marjorie Censer (@commoncenser), Washington Post Capital Business. Marjorie Censer writes on all things defense industry related in the National Capital Region and her weekly roll up this week struck us as the perfect picture of what is happening in the defense industry today. The first note revolves around IT network provider Arinc being bought up by Rockwell Collins for $1.39 billion and brings Rockwell’s business to a balance of 54% commercial and 46% government related. This goes right to the heart of the continuing trend of defense focused firms expanding their portfolios in a commercial direction to soften the cushion of the defense cuts that will continue for years to come. Next SAIC announced its spin-off, Leidos, will have its headquarters in Reston, Va. after the split of the company in January. The company announced earlier this year that it will break its government services business and technology work into two companies along the trend of many legacy defense services companies breaking off their underperforming government business units as L3 did previously. Then to cap it off, the third note is that major defense services contractor CACI saw a 13% dip in quarterly profits as defense cuts settled in deeper and services opportunities become scarcer. Sometimes a single column can paint a big picture on an entire industry. The bottom line is that the dust is far from settled in the defense industry.

Official: Funding for JLTV Testing Could Dry Up Next Summer

Paul McLeary (@paulmcleary), Defense News. The program managers for the Army and Marine Corps’ next vehicle, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, are taking a bit of a calculated risk and driving on with the program’s testing milestones even in the face of sequestration delays. Instead of backing off the schedule, now Army officials say they will continue on with the next phase of the program through July 2014 then evaluate things at that point if sequester hasn’t been resolved. For now the program has been funded by Congress and remains on track as the three finalists each delivered 22 vehicles apiece this month for 14 months of testing by Army and Marine troops. The $250,000 per copy vehicles could potentially total 50,000 for the Army and another 5,500 for the Marine Corps if the program continues as planned. Many see the JLTV as a canary in the coalmine program for the Army, which has been virtually ignored by Defense leaders in battles to save programs like the F-35 for the Air Force and Navy. For now…the mission continues.

F’d: How the U.S. and Its Allies Got Stuck with the World’s Worst New Warplane

David Axe (@Daxe), War is Boring. If you aren’t familiar with David Axe and his unique sardonic approach to defense reporting then this is a great story to get to know him with.  His site ‘War is Boring’ is a wealth of stories that take an unblinking and often profane look at defense issues with a dash of humor and hard facts. His “26 minute read” this week takes a hard look at the history of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and explains why many view it as the worst fighter ever built by this country and could doom the U.S. against future air combat foes. The bottom line from a host of experts is that the F-35 is undone from the start by the need to build a Marine Vertical Takeoff and Landing version. This design demand forced the Navy and Air Force to get an aircraft that is inferior in acceleration, stealth and turn capability in a stand up fight. Essentially, it’s an aircraft built to please multiple masters and is therefore just ‘okay’ at all of them instead of great at one thing. This is a worthwhile read that takes you all the way back to World War II to explain the Marine obsession with their own strike aircraft and how this almost 60-year-old legacy is undermining the next generation of fighter aircraft today.

As Mental Health Concerns Grow, Veterans Help Veterans

Alana Rocha, Texas Tribune. The Lone Star Veterans Association in Texas is giving veterans a chance to connect with one another across generations to help ease transitions back to civilian life. It’s a concept we’ve seen across the nation that gets a spotlight here: those veterans who have been through the struggles of transition or mental health crises assure their peers that it gets better, that there is help. Texas has one of the largest populations of veterans in the country and the state has taken some of the most progressive steps to help veterans of any state. The legislature there recently passed a budget that will allow the Lone Star Veterans to increase their peer counselor program from 1,000 volunteers to 1,500.

Deported Veterans: Banished for Committing Crimes After Serving in the U.S. Military

Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post. Milton Tepeyec immigrated to America when he was three-years-old. As a permanent resident, he served in the Marines as part of a recon battalion for eight years. As a veteran and floundering business owner in 2008, he agreed to take part in a $1,000 marijuana drug deal—but the men he was talking to turned out to be cops and his next stop was prison. After serving four years in prison, Tepeyec was deported back to Mexico and any hope of becoming an American citizen left with him. He’s not alone, either. Now a small advocacy group with the endorsement of former CJCS Richard Myers is trying to change that for future veterans. The best hope for veterans like Tepeyec would be a section in the new immigration reform bill addressing the deportation of resident veterans, but that doesn’t look likely at this point according to advocates. A spokesman for the VFW notes in the story correctly notes that “an honorable discharge is not a free pass.” But with so many programs like veterans courts set up to help veterans with issues, legal and otherwise, it seems a bit unfair to single out permanent residents who served with such harsh punishments beyond prison.

The Military Epidemics That Aren’t

Thomas Donnelly, The Wall Street Journal. As Hagel grapples with the ongoing effects of presidential statements about sex offenders in the military and Congressional staffers still debate the way forward on legislation on sexual assault cases, this piece from an AEI scholar questions whether too much focus is placed on the military as a diseased entity. The suicide epidemic and sexual assault cases are highlighted by the author as both have received a great deal of national attention, though neither issue is hardly unique to the military. Data backs some of this up as a study untaken by the Navy is finding that combat experience and multiple deployments themselves don’t raise the risk of suicide. Similarly, sexual assault is hardly an issue confined to the military. The author argues that too often the media blames the military or war for dehumanizing service members and making them susceptible to suicide or sexual assault. This narrow view and near straw man doesn’t allow for the fact that war does change people. While it doesn’t turn men or women into monsters, there must be recognition that those who have served, and especially those who participated in combat, have unique perspectives and unique challenges.

McCloskey moves to ProPublica

Happy hour companion and friend of ScoutComms, Megan McCloskey is headed to the bright lights of New York. She will build on her portfolio of impressive reporting at Stars and Stripes as a reporter at ProPublica where she will undoubtedly continue to produce thought provoking pieces about our nation, its veterans and military.

Battleland Bows Out

TIME’s national security blog that also hosted some great writing and debates on veterans’ issues unexpectedly closed its doors this week. The blog’s editor Mark Thompson and frequent contributor Nate Rawlings will continue to write for TIME in other forums.


Writer and retweeter extraordinaire @AlexHortonTX gave up the reigns of @DeptVetAffairs last week as he leaves VA to spend more time with his textbooks. The Hoya is sticking around DC while he finishes up his degree before heading off to fame, fortune, and fight clubs (Twitter version.) The new wizard behind the VA curtain is @ReynaldoLealJr, a former Marine and huge Duck Dynasty fan. 

Tradeshows & Conferences

EANGUS  42nd Annual Conference & Expo  (Sun-Wed, 18-21 August); Sioux Falls, SD

Our website has a full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearings

Congress is in recess.

Think Tanks & Other Events

Government Executive: Leveraging Defense Community Resources for the Next Generation of Threats Who: Daryl Haegley, OCP, CCO Program Manager, Business Enterprise Integration, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Scott Bousum, Senior Manager, National Security Policy, TechAmerica When: 7:30 AM, Wednesday, August 21, 2013 Where: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20004

Atlantic Council: The Coming Asian Arms Race? Who: Dr. Ely Ratner, Deputy Director, Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security, Mr. Randall Schriver, President and Chief Executive Officer, Project 2049 Institute When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, August 22, 2013 Where: 1177 15th 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, August 19, 2013 8:32 am

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