Defense Roundup: Going to war with Marines’ pants, SOFIC, V-22s not so bad

Posted by Fred Wellman

Sequestration Takes Its Toll on the Washington Area Meetings Business

Abha Bhattarai (@abhabhattarai), Washington Post. Maybe we’re starting to sound like a broken record but in another example of the second and third order effects of sequestration’s bite, Washington D.C. area hotels and conference sites are reporting a slowdown that runs counter to improvements in the hospitality industry nationally. As the economy has begun to show signs of thawing for business travel and conferences, it’s seen a sudden frost in the D.C. where many government, and especially defense, related tradeshows and conferences, occur as government agencies and organizations that support them cut back on participation in conferences or outright cancel many of them. Meanwhile the folks on Capitol Hill and up Pennsylvania Avenue are hard at work finding a solution to this issue…wait…no they aren’t.  Senator McCain told Defense News this week that he doesn’t see any kind of a “grand bargain” discussion even beginning before August recess and then of course campaign season starts in the Fall so political will for anything looking like compromise goes out the window. Bottom line: if it doesn’t make the average American or elected official uncomfortable or inconvenienced there will be no change in the sequester cuts. Ever.

Navy Ship Can’t Meet Mission, Internal U.S. Report Finds

Tony Capaccio (@ACapaccio), Bloomberg. In a never released report, an internal review ordered by the Chief of Naval Operations found that the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship can’t meet its promised mission because they are too lightly manned and armed for any kind of combat operations. Critics have long questioned the LCS program based on its small crew, light armor and minimal weapons suites and this internal report confirms all of those concerns as valid. In addition, the two different designs mean a complicated supply and maintenance system and the trimaran version of the vessel can’t even dock in many ports. In spite of all of that the Navy says the program has made great progress and is now on budget.  Of course, that isn’t the issue at all. The issue is whether the U.S. is fielding a fleet of “combat” ships that are nothing more than future man-made reefs. What’s also interesting is that the report was classified as “Confidential-Draft and not subject to FOIA”. In other words, a report that undermined one of the service’s biggest programs was classified in a specific manner to ensure it would never be released to the public. That is a really troubling approach to managing U.S. taxpayer’s money and the lives of our son’s and daughter’s who may serve on the ships at war. It will be interesting to see if this report makes any splash on the Hill as the ship’s builders are located in the states of key legislators who are of course, huge fans of the program.

Reputation Remake: Tilt-Rotor Osprey Wins Fans in Afghanistan

Jay Price, USA Today. Of course, the counter point to the above story is another famous procurement “failure” that has turned out to be not quite as screwed up as the experts predicted it would be, the MV-22 Osprey, tilt-rotor aircraft. Long written off as a dangerous and difficult to maintain waste of money, the much maligned aircraft has proven itself as a combat workhorse in the difficult flying conditions of Afghanistan with the Marine Corps. While still a relatively expensive aircraft to build and maintain, the aircraft’s ability to get off the ground quickly, carry more troops and cargo than helicopters, reach its destination quickly in any weather and then get back safely has proven the original concept of a hybrid aircraft as sound after all. One unique aspect of the aircraft’s capability is that because of its extended range and speed, assaults can be conducted from unusual directions, thwarting the traditional straight line approaches that Taliban fighters have come to expect and prepare for with spotters along typical flight paths. Marines with Ospreys can fly all the way around an objective and approach from the opposite direction of their home bases. While the costs to maintain the aircraft are steep, the cost in lives saved might be a little bit harder to measure.

US Army May Push Back JLTV, Rethink Armed Aerial Scout Program

Paul McLeary (@pmcleary), Defense News. The Army’s top military acquisition adviser dropped some surprises in testimony last week to the Senate when he announced possible delays in the testing of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program and a complete re-thinking of the replacement effort for the services workhorse scout helicopters the OH-58D. Both programs have been held up as icons of surviving programs in these tough budget times as both have been proceeding with few glitches, cost overruns or testing delays. All of that went out the window when LTG William Phillips and other Army officials warned that the rigorous testing of the three competitors’ vehicles on JLTV could face delays of three to four months to sequestration and a possible delay of low rate production into Fiscal Year 2016. On top of that the Armed Aerial Scout program was finally supposed to be on track after a fly-off last year where existing aircraft were demonstrated for Army aviation leaders who expressed satisfaction with what they saw. It seems they really didn’t as Phillips said that none of the aircraft met Army requirements and a development program would be needed. That sounds a lot like a new program which sounds a lot like “not going to happen” in the ‘budget-talk-tango’ of D.C. these days.

With 10 Patterns, U.S. Military Branches Out on Camouflage Front

David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold), Washington Post. The U.S. military had just two kinds of camouflage combat uniforms in 2002 and now 11 years later there are ten different versions and more coming as each service has to have their own versions. Fahrenthold uses the military duplication of effort as prime example of how government programs tend to all too often simply have a different name for the exact same effort. According to the Government Accountability Office there are currently 16 different government programs to teach consumers good financial management alone. This is one of those stories that we tell you to read the whole thing because if you know what fan’s we are of the Duffel Blog then you can really appreciate how much this story reads just like satire but is sadly a true story. The punch line is that after 10 years of trying to find the right uniform to wear in the desert so our troops wouldn’t be wearing green the Navy has settled on a green desert uniform. The silliness of this story is almost too much to bear.

An ‘Unfair Fight’ for Job-Seeking Veterans

Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Stars and Stripes. With veteran unemployment numbers fluctuating and seemingly hundreds of programs out there trying to help veterans find and get jobs, the biggest obstacle is language. Veterans and the civilians trying to hire them speak different languages and because so few have borne the burden of war, both sides have a difficult time interpreting what the other is saying. Companies like The Home Depot want to hire veterans and have created tools designed to make that easier for HR and veterans, but elsewhere, veterans struggle building resumes that HR won’t throw away. This is the first story in what promises to be a great series on the civil-military divide.

Changes in Defense Media:

Ackerman to The Guardian US

Spencer Ackerman, rakish Danger Room writer extraodrinaiare, is taking his national security reporting credentials to The Guardian, a well-respected paper out of the UK (to distinguish it from The Daily Mail.) He’ll be The Guardian’s US national security editor. Cheerio, Spencer, and we look forward to reading your new pieces with more extraneous Us.

Rogin to The Daily Beast

Foreign Policy’s hard working Josh Rogin is bidding the magazine adieu as he heads over to Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast. He’ll be covering politics and national security. John Hudson at Foreign Policy will take over Rogin’s venerable blog The Cable which follows the daily grind of State Department intrigue and the machinations of foreign policy.

BuzzFeed hiring National Security Reporter

A soon-to-be-change as BuzzFeed, best known for cat GIFs and lists about the 90s, is on the hunt for an experienced national security/foreign policy reporter to join its team. The qualified candidate will have at least five years experience in investigative journalism. Whoever gets the job will certainly join a growing media behemoth. 

The week ahead:

Tradeshows and Conferences: Mark your calendars for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ annual conference in Washington, DC on May 29-May 31, 2013. VA Secretary Shinseki and HUD Secretary Donovan will be speaking to the foremost convening of service providers to homeless veterans.

NDIA Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC)

Who: U.S. Special Operations Commander, ADM William H. McRaven, USN Acquisition Executive, Mr. James Cluck, and the U.S. Special Operations Forces Component Commanders, and others What: SOFIC is the premier tradeshow focused on Special Operations forces and their requirements.  It serves as the gathering of record for many special operators and is hosted not far from the headquarters of SOCOM. Leaders from across the Special Operations community provide updates and acquisition officials present their priorities for the year. In a year of cancelled shows and half-full exhibit halls, SOFIC is at capacity—a testament to the bright future of SOF even after budget cutbacks. When: Monday, May 13 – Thursday, May 16, 2013 Where: Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, FL

Congress: Both chambers are in session this week.


Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies: Mark Up – FY 2014 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill When: 11:00 AM, Wednesday, May 15, 2013 Where: H-140 Capitol Building

Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies: Facilitating Cyber Threat Information Sharing and Partnering with the Private Sector to Protect Critical Infrastructure: An Assessment of DHS Capabilities Witnesses: TBD

When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, May 16, 2013 Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building


Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower: Marine Corps Modernization Witnesses: Honorable Sean J. Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition), Lieutenant General Richard P. Mills, USMC, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration/Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command When: 9:30 AM, Tuesday, May 14, 2013 Where: 222 Russell Senate Office Building

Veterans Committee: Pending Benefits Legislation Witnesses: TBD When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, May 15, 2013 Where: 418 Russell Senate Office Building

Armed Services: The Law of Armed Conflict, the Use of Military Force, and the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Witnesses: Mr. Robert S. Taylor, Acting General Counsel Department of Defense, Honorable Michael A. Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict Department of Defense, Major General Michael K. Nagata, USA, Deputy Director for Special Operations/Counterterrorism, J-37, Joint Staff, Brigadier General Richard C. Gross, JAGC, USA, Legal Counsel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ms. Rosa Brooks, Professor of Law Georgetown University Law Center, Mr. Geoffrey Corn, Professor of Law South Texas College of Law, Mr. Jack Goldsmith, Professor of Law Harvard Law School, Mr. Kenneth Roth, Executive Director Human Rights Watch, Mr. Charles Stimson, Manager, National Security Law Program The Heritage Foundation When: 9:30 AM, Thursday, May 16, 2013 Where: 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Think tanks and other news events: 

Stimson Center: Managing The Military More Efficiently: Potential Savings Separate From Strategy What: “Stimson is releasing a report surveying numerous boards, commissions, and study groups on their recommendations on how to better manage the defense budget, with a special focus on personnel compensation, manpower utilization and procurement practices. While no one will embrace every option and some options are contradictory, these changes would represent savings of nearly $1 trillion over 10 years. This report comes as sequestration is forcing the Pentagon to either adjust how it does business or suffer deep cuts to force structure. The report serves as a one-stop resource to understand what options exist for tackling ingrained inefficiencies in defense spending.” Who: Barry Blechman, Stimson Co-founder and Chair of the Peterson Foundation Defense Advisory Group, Matthew Leatherman, Research analyst with Stimson’s Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense Program, Erin Conaton, CNAS non-resident senior fellow, former Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and appointee to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, David Oliver, EADS North America strategic advisor; former Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics; and retired Navy Rear Admiral When: 2:00 PM, Monday, May 13, 2013 Where: 1111 19th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC 20036

National Press Club: Government Contracting in Era of Sequestration What: “Companies that do business with the U.S. government, Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike, are faced with unprecedented fiscal uncertainty as they work to navigate the impact of sequestration. At a National Press Club Newsmaker news conference on Thursday, May 16th three private-sector CEOs will discuss the future of government contracting in the era of sequestration.” Who: John Jumper, Chairman and CEO, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Frank Mendicino, CEO, SKYDEX Technologies, Inc., Kevin W. Miller, President and CEO, Sciolex Corporation When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, May 16, 2013 Where: 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC 20045

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, May 13, 2013 8:46 am

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