Defense Roundup: Furry Friends That Aren’t Pandas, New Hiring Rules Impacting Contractors

Posted by Rob Riggins

War Costs Could Escalate Quickly

Tom Vanden Brook (@tvandenbrook), USA Today. The debates around the situation in Syria are loud and widespread but aspects we are watching include how it will affect the “Asia pivot” and sending a military to war in the middle of massive budget uncertainty. USA Today examines the costs of what a potential strike on the Assad government would cost. The extreme low end with a pure cruise missile assault is somewhere around $100 million with Tomahawk missiles costing about $1 million a piece. In comparison, the Libya campaign cost the U.S. $1.1 billion and began with some 110 Tomahawks hitting key government targets. Things get progressively more expensive and complicated if a quick strike doesn’t teach Assad the lesson everyone hopes as no-fly zones and training the Syrian opposition cost billions in short order. It will be interesting to note if in the coming debate Congress examines whether they are prepared to walk away from their extremely well planned budget cuts that have wreaked havoc on the DoD for the last year.

Pentagon Buying Official Forecasts Much Tougher 2014 for Defense Contractors

Marjorie Censer (@commoncenser), Washington Post. Even as the war drums are rumbling on the other side of the river, the Pentagon continues to prepare for the worst-case scenario for the new fiscal year and continuing sequester budget cuts. In an interview last week, the DoD’s top acquisitions official, Frank Kendall, laid out the bad news for the defense industry most have been expecting. Simply, they are already holding off on issuing contracts that might have to be cut in coming weeks anyway and he expects the defense industry to bear the brunt of cuts in this second year of sequester with cut programs and delayed procurements. He went on to all but encourage a new wave of consolidations in the industry along business lines as the Pentagon continues to frown on any moves among the big players like in past drawdowns. The unfortunate punch line of the interview is at the end where he says he still believes that industry needs to conduct internal research and development to position them for the future. It’s probably cold comfort to smaller companies watching their businesses be looked at as sacrifices for the greater good to be told they also need to spend money creating systems for a military that has no plans whatsoever to buy the things they create. The hits keep on coming.

Hagel Taps Donley to Lead OSD Downsizing Effort

Marcus Weisgerber (@marcusreports), Defense News. In an announcement that seemed to raise some eyebrows last week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that former Air Force Secretary Michael Donley will oversee an effort to reduce the size of the department’s staff. Deputy SecDef Ash Carter announced the appointment last Monday and observers note that Donley has a long history of supporting downsizing efforts at the Pentagon throughout his long career in Washington. The effort is aimed at accomplishing Hagel’s goal of reducing the Office of the Secretary of Defense staff by 20% in the next five years after a decade of growth in the building. Donley will come up with recommendations and an implementation plan to consolidate functions and eliminate positions in the headquarters. The Army has told staffs throughout the service to have recommendations back to them next week on plans to cut their personnel as well.

Pro-Syrian Group Hacks U.S. Marine Corps Website

John Bacon, USA Today. A pro-Syrian hacker group that appears to be hacking the websites of news organizations and others with pro-Assad messages attacked the U.S. Marine Corps’ official recruiting site on Sunday. The Syrian Electronic Army claimed the attack and posted messages urging Marines to ignore orders to attack Syria amid claims they should be fighting together against terrorists. One unfortunate aspect was the posting of pictures that have been appearing on Reddit of alleged military members in uniform with signs covering their faces against U.S. intervention in Syria. The photos are clear violations of military regulations and have now become part of a dictator’s propaganda effort as well. Unfortunate choices if they really are military members.

The Goal: Understanding How Furry Friends Ease PTSD, TBI

C.J. Lin (@cjlinSS), Stars and Stripes. In DC, a baby panda has captivated the city with cuteness in recent days, but a longer standing love affair has been had with war dogs and PTSD service dogs. The furry friends have long been thought to help veterans and service members with PTSD based on anecdotal evidence, but now one non-profit is looking for harder evidence. Warrior Canine Connection pairs pups with service members who then train them to be service dogs and it recently won a grant from DoD to study the science behind the program. Their hope is that with hard evidence on how service dogs help ease the effects of PTSD and TBI, they can standardize service dog programs across the country in order to help more veterans. Investigating the impact of their programs is something we would like to see all non-profits do so this is a good step for the growing sector focused exclusively on dogs as service animals.

Contractors Question New Rules on Hiring Veterans, People With Disabilities

Rebecca Carroll, Government Executive. The Department of Labor last week issued new guidance on benchmarks federal contractors must meet for hiring veterans and people with disabilities. Under the new rules, companies contracting with the government must have a workforce that is at least 8 percent veterans and 7 percent people with disabilities. The new rules were met with fanfare from veterans groups like VFW, but at least one company affected by these new benchmarks is saying the goals will cost contractors a lot of money—upwards of $6 billion according to one interest groups’ estimate. The new rules don’t effectively address real barriers to hiring veterans, said one critic, like helping veterans get skills and work experience.

Judge Rules U.S. Military Cannot Deny Benefits to Lesbian Veteran and Her Wife

Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters. While much was made last week of a law governing VA benefits that defined spouses as those of the opposite sex, in the end a judge decided that wording violated the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike parts of the Defense of Marriage Act. This ruling means same-sex couples will be entitled to benefits through the VA such as survivor benefits and other financial assistance. The ruling would put VA’s system in line with DoD in the wake of the DOMA rulings. VA has said it is working with the Department of Justice on implementing the judicial ruling.

Tradeshows & Conferences

No major events this week. Our website has a full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearings

Congress is in recess. They will return September 9.

Think Tanks & Other Events
Foundation for Defense of Democracies: Crossing the Red Line:  The Crisis in Syria and the US Response Who: John Hannah, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Tony Badran, Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Clifford D. May, President of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies When: 12:00 PM, Tuesday, September 3, 2013 Where: 1726 M Street, NW, Suite 700 Washington, DC 20036

American Enterprise Institute: Squaring the Circle: Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert on American Military Strategy in a Time of Declining Resources Who: Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, USN When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, September 5, 2013 Where: 1150 Seventeenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

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 Tuesday, September 03, 2013 8:42 am

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of updates to this conversation