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Defense Roundup: Fallujah Back in the Headlines, Contractors Facing Uncertain Times

Posted by Fred Wellman

Majority of US MRAPs to Be Scrapped or Stored

Paul McLeary (@paulmcleary), Defense News. The vagaries of war and how we must buy equipment and dispose of it is always fascinating. Today the U.S. military is struggling with what to do with thousands of massive Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles that were frantically purchased to protect combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as IEDs took a heavy toll in the two combat theaters. The Army will have to use some $1.7 billion in supplemental wartime funding to refurbish the badly abused and already outdated 8,585 vehicles they intend to keep while finding a way to rid the service of another 7,456 it no longer needs. Even the ones they keep after all of that work will go into pre-positioned stocks and mothball warehouses around the world with little use for them at home bases or the majority of potential conflicts the service must prepare to fight. Remarkably those numbers only represent a third of the over 25,000 vehicles purchased in a crazed purchasing spree starting in 2007 that cost over $50 billion to field the armored vehicles that eventually came in an astonishing 25 different models leading to logistics and maintenance problems that make maintaining the fleet nearly impossible. The big winners for staying in the fleet will be the Oshkosh built M-ATV’s with 5,651 of them remaining along with 2,633 Navistar made MaxxPro Dash vehicles and 301 of the MaxxPro ambulances. The remaining vehicles will be auctioned off in Afghanistan to international buyers or simply turned to scrap metal in country. While it seems like an incredible waste the lives saved by the vehicles can’t have a price placed on them and the whole effort is just the price of fighting a modern war as safely as possible.

Military Robot Technology Finding its Way into Mainstream America

Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes. A decade of war has seen leaps and bounds in the use of robot technology in the military and those advances have been watched by commercial companies with an eye on how they could be applied to civilian efforts. Advances in autonomous flying, unmanned ground vehicles, miniaturization, dexterity of robotic hands, and prosthetics that can be controlled by thoughts have been developed and are increasingly getting the attention of the commercial sector. Apple and Amazon are investing in automation of their supply chains and hints of drone deliveries while Google has scooped up 8 different robotics companies in just the last six months with a clear intent of commercializing military advances in the field. Some of the biggest news in unmanned aviation came out over the holidays when the FAA finally selected its long awaited locations for domestic testing of UAVs in U.S. airspace. Virginia, Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Texas will all provide research on different aspects of the issues from flying among manned aircraft and what happens when something goes wrong on an unmanned aircraft. It’s easy to be reminded of how the race to the moon spawned technologies for decades after when you watch the potential spin-offs from billions of investments made to fight our modern wars. Just as in the past the potential is limitless when entrepreneurial minds are applied to the possibilities and sure to be lucrative and exciting.

Government Questioned MicroTech About Its Role in HP Fraud Allegations

Robert O’Harrow Jr., Washington Post. Tysons Corner, Virginia based MicroTechnologies continues to get a lot of “love” from the Washington Post. The latest revelation is that the firm was implicated in a previously reported investigation by the Air Force and Hewlett Packard into the inflation of the revenue of software maker Autonomy before its acquisition by HP in 2011. A letter was sent by the Air Force in September of last year to MicroTech accusing the company of helping Autonomy deceive HP and the public about its real revenue and allegedly costing HP over $8.8 billion when the fraud was discovered. The letter said that the evidence was enough to support the debarment of MicroTech from doing any more government work. On December 20th the Small Business Administration informed MicroTech that they were barred from any new government contracts immediately and the company had 30 days to respond before the bar became permanent. The SBA is accusing the firm of submitting “false and misleading statements” when it sought small business set-asides. It’s been a tough few months for the company and its CEO Anthony Jimenez who just months ago was a celebrated small business success story with possible government appointments on the horizon but is now locked in a battle to save his firm from losing its entire revenue stream.

Military Propaganda Websites on Verge of Extinction

Ray Locker (@rolocker12), USA Today. The new defense authorization bill signed just before the Congressional holiday recess by President Obama marks the potential death of the military’s $22 million Trans Regional Web Initiative. The family of websites is aimed at influencing and engaging audiences around the globe in the native languages of the nations to counter extremist propaganda. The efforts have been roundly criticized by the Government Accountability Office, Congress, and USA Today as ill conceived, poorly executed and uncoordinated with local diplomatic efforts. Special Operations Command has led the program and, unless a reprieve is given, language was specifically placed in the bill barring any funds from being spent to support the program except for some $2 million to shut it down, pay the contractors, and transfer parts of the effort to other government organizations. It represents not just the challenge of information operations but just how tough it is to be a government contractor these days as well.

Survey Aimed at Understanding Veterans’ First Civilian Jobs

Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Stars and Stripes. VetAdvisor and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families are partnering on research to illuminate an important, but little studied, aspect of veterans’ employment: how long veterans stay at their first jobs after leaving the military. While a lot of ink and discussion has centered on getting veterans into jobs, this survey looks to focus on how veterans are successfully (or not) transitioning into the civilian workforce. Anecdotal evidence points to veterans having short tenures at their first jobs for a number of reasons including culture shock, mismatched expectations, and unwelcoming employers. Through this survey, VetAdvisor and IVMF hope to help employers figure out ways to better retain the veterans they have worked so hard to recruit.

Veterans: take the survey today (and tell your friends to take it, too!): http://www.retainingvets.org

From the Pentagon to Life in a Van

Julie Zauzmer (@JulieZauzmer), Philadelphia Inquirer. This is a story of veteran homelessness you don’t read very often, but illustrates that a perfect storm of financial distress can leave anyone at risk of homelessness. Robert Freniere, an Air Force colonel with three graduate degrees and 30 years in uniform, can’t find a job and can’t afford a permanent home on his pension benefits. Now Freniere lives out of his van or, when he can afford the luxury, cheap motel rooms. He says he applies to jobs all day, but he hasn’t heard back from anyone due to, he thinks, the strain sequestration has put on the federal contractors to which he’s applying. Freniere is an most definitely an outlier and from the article it isn’t clear whether he has taken advantage of the federal, local, and charitable services available to him, but reaching veterans like Freniere who may not feel they need or want help will be key to ending veteran homelessness. A Department of Veterans Affairs research center in Philadelphia is parsing the data and the studies to figure out just how to do that.

Who Lost Fallujah?

Mark Thompson (@MarkThompson_DC), TIME/ Though Iraq has been out of the headline for years, it made the news this week as elements of al-Qaida in Iraq were said to have taken control of Fallujah. Fallujah entered the American vocabulary early on in the war after U.S. troops waged a bloody fight for the city in 2004. On Twitter and in blog posts, many veterans of Iraq and the battles for Fallujah opined on the deterioration of the country and people they fought for and what it means about the sacrifices of those who gave their lives. Phil Carter from CNAS wondered if the “Fallujah moment” was what Vietnam veterans felt in 1973 while Jim Garamone, a reporter with the Pentagon’s Armed Forces Press Service, said he was “Sick about Fallujah. “I remember walking through the city when people started returning and believing that now they have a chance.” In answer to the headline’s question, “Who lost Fallajuh?” Marine veteran and veterans advocate Todd Bowers said, “We all did. I guess we all just decided it was easier to forget Fallujah and get on with life. Vets, politicians and the general public.”

Congratulations on Your Military Service… Now Here Are 9 Reasons Why I Won’t Hire You

Sultan Camp, Career Attraction. This has been missing in the conversation about veteran unemployment and hiring veterans for too long. Finally, a veteran and corporate recruiter takes on the reasons why too many young veterans are still unemployed. It’s not the ACAP, TAP, or Transition GPS classes nor is it prejudiced employers, he says. The number one issue with veterans entering the workforce is a refusal by veterans to accept they are starting over or starting lower when entering the civilian workforce. He compares a veteran with 20 years experience transitioning to a civilian job to a civilian with 20 years experience entering the military—the civilian isn’t going to join at an O-7 rank. He also notes more common issues like resumes, social media, and interviewing techniques, but finishes with an important point about the future. Many veterans leave the military not knowing what they want to do next. Without a clear plan for their next career, many companies won’t want to invest in an employee that leaves after a year. (And that’s another reason veterans should take this VetAdvisor-IVMF survey on job tenure: http://www.retainingvets.org)

‘Enlisted’ Producers Kevin Biegel & Mike Royce Talk about FOX Military Comedy

Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall), HitFix. After a rough Fall debut that saw Fox comedy “Enlisted” get trashed by veterans and servicemembers alike for its many inaccuracies, producers turned to MUSA Military Consulting and Greg Bishop (a friend and former colleague of Fred) to give subsequent shows more authenticity. To counter the backlash, the show is running a “Spot Our Errors” contest to help assure concerned viewers they take portraying the military correctly seriously. The producers sat down with television critic Alan Sepinwall, who liked the pilot, to discuss why they decided to make a show about the Army. Their goal is to make light of the situations soldiers find themselves in, not to make light of soldiers or the Army. Perhaps most importantly, the producers say they wanted to show America a different side of servicemembers than usually seen in the media besides the damaged, tortured combat veteran. Having recently seen the pilot on a flight, your faithful Scout Reporter will say it’s really not as bad as you might think it could be.

Tradeshows & Conferences

No major event this week, but check out our full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearings

No fun Congressional hearings this week.

Think Tanks & Other Events

Elliott School of International Affairs: Space and Cyberspace: Enduring Missions in a Changing World Who: Gen. William L. Shelton, Commander, Air Force Space Command When: 9:00 AM, Tuesday, January 7, 2014 Where: 1957 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20052

Aspen Institute: US National Security Strategy Who: Thomas E. Donilon, former national security adviser to President Obama When: 12:00 PM, Tuesday, January 7, 2014 Where: One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036

National Press Club: NPC Luncheon with General Ray Odierno, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Who: Gen. Ray Odierno, US Army, Chief of Staff When: 12:30 PM, Tuesday, January 7, 2014 Where: 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20045

US Institute of Peace: Inside Iran Who: Robin Wright, Journalist and Author, U.S. Institute of Peace and Woodrow Wilson, International Center, David Ignatius, Columnist and Author, The Washington Post When: 9:30 AM, Thursday, January 9, 2014 Where: 2301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20037

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 06, 2014 8:27 am

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