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Defense Roundup: It’s 11:59 on the Budgetary Doomsday Clock, Veterans Spared a lot of Pain In a Shutdown

Posted by Fred Wellman

As Congress Fights Over the Budget, Agencies Go on Their ‘Use It or Lose It’ Shopping Spree

David A. Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold), Washington Post. As John Grady tells us above, the drama surrounding the latest budget showdown in Congress has federal agencies working 24/7 to figure out what a shutdown will look like come Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, the annual end of fiscal year spending spree has been in full swing for a couple of weeks. For those not familiar with this fascinating tradition, federal agencies have until midnight Monday to spend the remainder of their FY 2013 budget or lose it and probably take a hit on their future budgets. This annual drill produces a rush of purchases that often add up to major parts of government contractors’ annual sales. Some estimate upwards of 25% of their annual sales occur in September alone and like Congressional staffer they will be working around the clock until midnight strikes Monday…in Hawaii. The joys of government contracting.

Lockheed Inks Two More F-35 Contracts

Brendan McGarry, DoD Buzz. The biggest bright spot in the defense industry remains anyone involved with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. The good news came a few times this week as late Friday it was announced the DoD had inked two deals with Lockheed Martin totaling $7.1 billion for some 71 more of the next generation aircraft. The deal will cover batches six and seven of the stealth fighter and comes just days after the DoD’s program office signaled improving relations with the makers of the aircraft after a contentious year of battles. The good week for JSF supporters began when in a surprise announcement the South Korean defense ministry rejected the Boeing F-15 Silent Eagle as its next generation fighter and announced they would re-open the contract process citing the aircraft’s lack of stealth capabilities. Analysts saw this as a bid to go after F-35s in light of their declining cost estimates and selection by an ever-growing list of countries including the ROK’s neighbor Japan. The most expensive weapons system in history remains the only constant in the defense industry today.

MRAP Giveaway – Low Miles, Driven in Only One War, You Haul

Tom Vanden Brook (@tvandenbrook), USA Today. In one of those ‘only in America’ situations there is a fire sale on slightly used, never blown up, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles from the U.S. Army. It seems since August the Defense Logistics Agency has passed 75 MaxxPro MRAPs to local police departments across the country. The next time Ohio State University students get a bit carried away, the police can roll in hot with a vehicle that’s bullet resistant, protected against IEDs, and just plain bad ass looking. It’s a seriously good deal as a new off the factory MRAP will run you about $600,000 before adding optional items like side airbags, radio frequency jammers, multi-spectrum radios and a remote weapon station from our friends at Kongsberg. The deal is simply just too good to pass up for SWAT teams and other heavy response forces, as the entire cost for the police departments is nothing more than transport fees back to their motor pools. Of course, a blogger in Dallas thinks the basic reasoning for the procurement for the county revolves around the fact that “military trucks are f*cking cool”. There is probably a bit of that but they might actually be pretty useful and free is a darn good price and a heck of a lot better option than the fate of many in Afghanistan that are being chopped up for scrap.

Shutdown Could Slow VA Progress on Disability Claims

Steve Vogel (@steve_vogel), Washington Post. As Congress does its best to look like it’s working but not really getting anything done, many questions have arisen about the fate of certain government services after a shutdown. Thanks to a 2009 law that funds VA a year in advance of other agencies, most essential VA services will be unaffected by the shutdown—at least at first. VA medical centers and clinics will remain open and treating patients and Post-9/11 GI Bill payments and disability payments will still go out. Processing of new disability claims, though, will stop and the backlog will grow. Also worrying are VA’s protestations that a prolonged (read: two week or longer) shutdown would start to affect benefits payments. There is chatter that VA’s dire warnings are another political gambit by the executive branch, but knowing VA, it’s also hard to imagine smooth sailing ahead in the wake of a shutdown.

How The Veterans Crisis Line Can Save Lives

Rebecca Ruiz (@rebecca_ruiz), Forbes. The Veterans Crisis Line is an example of an essential service the VA provides which would be unaffected by the shutdown. The 24-hour hotline engages veterans in crisis via phone, text, and even online chatting to help talk veterans and their family members and friends through some of the most difficult moments. The crisis line has seen a marked increase in the number of veterans calling, but rather than being indicative of a larger problem, VA says that means their outreach efforts and destigmatizing campaigns are working. Whether the crisis line falls under the VA programs that would be impacted by a prolonged shutdown remains to be seen, but with 30,000 saved lives since 2007, it’s clearly an essential service.

Army Tightens Rules on Hair, Tattoos, Makeup

Lance Bacon, Army Times. Despite the week’s non-filibuster and a threat of no paychecks come 1 October, the Army’s new garrison grooming standards were the talk of the active duty Twitterverse. That’s right, Soldiers. Instead of worrying about making your house payments, senior leaders want your focus to be on shortening those sideburns, hippie. Tattoos, also, will be more strictly regulated and it’s possible those who got tattoos while under previous lax rules will not be grandfathered into the new rules. The online uproar veers between decrying a “nanny-state” and also expressing fear that the Army is returning to a peacetime, “garrison Army” before the war in Afghanistan has even ended. With issues such as suicide and sexual assault dominating headlines, it’s also perhaps a bit tone deaf of senior leadership to highlight tattoos as the greatest threat to the strength and fighting ability of the Army.

Quick Hits: When Will the Media Stop Fueling the Angry Vet Narrative? asks the always excellent Alex Horton, a female Army Reservist stabbed an attacking bear (not a panda) and lived to tell the tale, and Team Rubicon threw an orange wedding as two volunteers in Colorado got married in a Home Depot parking lot.

Bad News All Around if Shutdown Occurs

John Grady, ScoutComms. It’s looking more and more like there will be a no-kidding government shut down come midnight tonight for the first time in 17 years as Republican House members have crafted a Continuing Resolution that has exactly zero chance of passing the Senate or the President’s desk. Our John Grady has been spending the week looking at how the shutdown is going to effect the Department of Defense. In a nutshell — it’s going to suck in about 400,000 ways.

Tradeshows & Conferences

The tradeshow circuit takes a break this week. AUSA on the horizon…

Our website has a full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearings

House:

Committee on Foreign Affairs: Al-Shabaab: How Great a Threat? When: 9:45 AM, Thursday, October 3, 2013 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Senate:

Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: The Navy Yard Tragedy: Examining Government Clearances and Background Checks Who: The Honorable Joseph G. Jordan, Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget, The Honorable  Elaine D. Kaplan, Acting Director, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Frank Montoya, Jr., National Counterintelligence Executive, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Michael Higgins, Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence and Security, U.S. Department of Defense When: 10:30 AM, Tuesday, October 1, 2013 Where: SD- 342, Dirksen Senate Office Building

Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: Threats to the Homeland Who:  The Honorable Rand Beers, Acting Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The Honorable Matthew G. Olsen, Director, National Counterterrorism Center, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Sean M. Joyce, Deputy Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, October 3, 2013 Where: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Think Tanks & Other Events

Institute of World Politics: Successfully Conducting Information, Psychological, and Military Deception Operations Who: Brigadier General Thomas Draude, USMC (Ret.) When: 4:00 PM, Tuesday, October 1, 2013 Where: 1521 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036

Politico: Cybersecurity One-on-One Luncheon Who: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security When: 12:00 PM, Wednesday, October 2, 2013 Where: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW. Washington, DC 20004

Washington Post Live: Cybersecurity Summit Who: General Michael Hayden, Former CIA Director, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), Jane Holl Lute, Former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, CEO, Council on Cybersecurity, Howard Schmidt, Former White House Cybersecurity Coordinator, Ellen Richey, Chief Enterprise Risk Officer, VISA, Craig Mundie, Senior Advisor, Microsoft, David Ignatus, Syndicated Columnist, Washington Post, William J. Lynn, Former US Deputy Secretary of Defense, Steven Chabinsky, Former Deputy Assistant Director, FBI Cyber Division When: 8:30 AM, Thursday, October 3, 2013 Where: 1150 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20071

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, September 30, 2013 3:28 pm

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