Defense Roundup: MOH for Another COP Keating Hero, Sequester Blues, Sequestered F-35 jokes (20% Fewer)

Posted by Fred Wellman

House Approves 2014 Defense Spending Bill

John T. Bennett (@BennettJohnT), Marine Corps Times. In a surprisingly anti-climatic vote on Wednesday evening the House of Representatives approved a nearly $600 billion defense spending bill for next year after a very controversial floor fight over the NSA’s surveillance programs. The bill essentially ignores sequestration while giving $512.5 billion for the base DoD budget and some $82 billion for overseas operations. The base budget is down $3 billion from what the administration requested and even the overseas operating budget took some unusual cuts this time around of $3.5 billion on a bipartisan amendment. The big fight was over an amendment from libertarian tea party Republican representative Justin Amash joined by liberal Democrat John Conyers that was only defeated 217-205 after days of lobbying by administration and NSA leaders. Most analysts agree that the solid pro-defense bloc in the GOP is crumbling amid libertarian members and budget cutting tea party advocates and calls in to question how defense will play without advocates it can rely on. The bill now heads to the Senate, which hasn’t even begun the mark-up process on their version of the budget, and many expect yet another last minute budget fight after the August recess.

The Sequester Will Lift, Not Cut, Defense Costs

Sara Sorcher (@SaraSorcherNJ), National Journal. Every now and then a high quality and deeply researched look at the defense industry comes out that dives deep into what it takes to build the weapons systems the U.S. fields. Here, National Journal’s Sara Sorcher has done a great job of using the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as a proxy for the effects of sequester and budget cuts on the defense industry as a whole and the information is eye opening. The most expensive program in history employs some 32,500 people in 46 states, with 1,400 companies providing parts to the four major contractors, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and Pratt & Whitney including 600 small businesses. In a nutshell the whole system is much like a whip. While the big four at the top may feel just a little bit of inconvenience and lay off a few hundred executives, further down the line small businesses will disappear completely along with the special tools and products they create that could very well be the only manufacturer of their kind in the U.S. If you want to understand how something that looks like no big deal in Washington D.C. truly translates to places like New Hampshire and Arvada, Colorado, then this is your must read of the week.

Sequester May Undo Gains in Building Contracting Workforce

Jim McElhatton (@Jim_McElhatton), Federal Times. One of the major goals of the Army to reform its much criticized contracting efforts was to build a larger, more professional and high quality contracting work force and it looks like another unintended consequence of furloughs and sequester will be the undermining of that effort. Speaking at the National Contract Management Association conference last week, a senior official with Army Contracting Command told the crowd that the growth they have seen in the past seven or eight years has been abruptly stopped and is likely to go backward due to employees seeking the greener pastures of retirement or the private sector. Meanwhile the Congressional Budget Office reported last week that keeping the sequestration cuts in place through fiscal year 2014 would cost up to 1.6 million U.S. jobs while fixing them would most likely create 900,000 new ones. Politico reports that the Department of Defense Education Activity will get off to a rocky school year for children in military base schools worldwide, as furloughs will mean schools are closed five days before September 21st this year. Finally, James Joyner reports that with most DoD employees taking Mondays or Fridays off, it has basically reduced the Pentagon to a three-day period for meetings to be scheduled where most of the needed people can even show up and crippled productivity in the building. It’s a bit of a broken record to call sequester and furloughs the stupidest decisions to come out of Washington D.C. in memory but the reminders keep showing up. What makes it even more stupid is that Congress and the Obama Administration are barely doing a single thing to fix it except sending letters and acting like it’s not their fault.

Few Suitors to Build a New Marine One

Christopher Drew (@nytdrew), New York Times. Bids are due this Thursday for the contract to make the new Marine One helicopter fleet for the President and all indications are that Sikorsky Aircraft will be the only bidder. The story of how what could be a multi-billion dollar contract to produce 21 of the most highly visible helicopters in the world came down to just one entry is a great picture of the problems with the Pentagon’s push for lowest priced offerings in the near term over long term efficiencies and designs. As one former Pentagon official puts in the story, “It’s like when you buy a car. Do you drive a Yugo? Or is the best buy the cheapest one that meets your needs?” It appears that after the last competition was canceled under pressure from Sen. John McCain in 2009, the Navy re-wrote the specifications so specifically to an already certified aircraft that the only possible aircraft that could win the competition is a Sikorsky design similar to one about to be canceled by the Canadians after years of delays. No other manufacturer saw having even a fighting chance to win, so in this budget environment they won’t submit a bid. The Navy says they took into account industry input and won’t comment on the possibility of a single bid competition until it actually happens on Thursday. Here’s our prediction: Sen. McCain will hold a hearing how outrageous it is that that the Navy would accept a single bidder and get this contract canceled too. It’s very ‘mavericky’.

‘I risked my life, for what?’: Iraq War Veterans Chilled by Country’s Slide into Civil War

Bill Briggs (@writerdude), NBC News. With each week bringing news of higher and higher death tolls from sectarian and political violence in Iraq, it’s no surprise questions arise about the role of America’s ten-year war there. Veterans, of course, have varied opinions on the issue but it’s hard for most not to think about the American and Iraqi lives lost in the pursuit of stability and security. One veteran who attempted suicide in 2010 and now is an advocate for prevention worries that the increasing violence could increase the anger and risk of suicide in some veterans who wonder, “What was the point?” But others like Derek Coy say the current situation in Iraq has little impact on how they view their service; they had a mission and succeeded and what happens now has no bearing on that. Undeniably, Iraq and its people had a different impact on everyone who served there and will continue to have an impact on the American psyche for years to come.

U.S. Military Vows to Put Women in Combat Roles by 2016

David Lerman (@davidlerman2), Bloomberg. Women will be eligible for combat positions by 2016 with no lowering of physical standards the services told Congress last week. That will open as many as 237,000 new positions to women in the infantry, artillery, and other ground combat roles. DoD insists it will not raise or lower physical standards for combat roles to allow women to compete for slots. Instead, they are working to ensure the current standards are comparable to the job and are not unduly excluding anyone. Congress, of course, had its own advice for the services including worry that women in combat may increase sexual assaults and suggesting that men and women may need different training to get to the same physical standards. SOCOM noted its biggest concern is unit cohesion and to that end has commissioned a RAND study on the issue that should be complete by July 2015. With three years until implementation, that leaves plenty of time for more Congressional meddling.

JBLM Soldier to Receive Heralded Medal of Honor
Adam Ashton (@TNTMilitary), The News Tribune. Army Staff Sergeant Ty Michael Carter will become the fifth living recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars it was announced this week. For his gallantry in action during the battle of COP Keating, Carter will receive the nation’s highest honor at the White House on August 26th. Carter, like those who have come before him, is humble and modest about his actions saying that the honor belongs to his unit and especially those who did not return home. Carter also openly talks about his struggles with PTSD after his time in combat, an issue he might take up as he transitions into a role model and Army representative. After Clint Romesha, Carter is the second soldier to receive the Medal of Honor for actions at COP Keating as detailed in Jake Tapper’s book “The Outpost”. Interestingly, Carter takes great exception to Tapper and others describing Keating as “indefensible” seeing as how his unit was able to repel a force greatly outnumbering their own.

Unemployment Among Recent Veterans Drops Sharply

Alan Zarembo (@AlanZarembo), Los Angeles Times. Unemployment numbers for post-9/11-era veterans are not statistically different than those of the general population, something advocates say shows the “all-in” approach to employment has been working. But for the youngest veterans, jobs are still hard to come by though economists will point out that their 18.5 percent unemployment rate is not statistically different than the 15.2 percent unemployment rate among civilians of the same young age. Paul Heaton, a researcher at RAND, says his data shows demographics of the veteran population were a bigger factor in their unemployment rate over the last few years than their veteran status particularly. Looking at the overall veteran unemployment rate of 6.4 percent, it’s clear that over the long-term, veterans have a better job outlook than civilians.

Tradeshows & Conferences

No major tradeshows this week. For the dronerds, AUVSI is only two weeks away!

Our website has a full list of upcoming tradeshows

Congressional Hearings


Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency: JOINT – TSA Integrity Challenges: Examining Misconduct by Airport Security Personnel When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, July 31, 2013 Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building

Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa: The Iran-Syria Nexus and its Implications for the Region Who: The Honorable John Bolton, Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, (Former United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations), Mr. Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director, Foundation for Defense of Democracies When: 2:30 PM, Wednesday, July 31, 2013 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel: Department of Defense’s Challenges in Accounting for Missing Persons from Past Conflicts Who: Mr. Paul Cole, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), Ms. Brenda S. Farrell, Director, Defense Capabilities and Management, U.S. Government Accountability Office When: 8:00 AM, Thursday, August 1, 2013 Where: 2212 Rayburn House Office Building

Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies: West Fertilizer, Off the Grid: The Problem of Unidentified Chemical Facilities When: 10:00 AM Thursday, August 1, 2013 Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building

Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: Markup of Pending Legislation When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, August 1, 2013 Where: 334 Cannon House Office Building

Committee on Armed Services: Initial Conclusions Formed by the Defense Strategic Choices and Management Review Who: The Honorable Ashton B. Carter, Deputy Secretary of Defense, Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr, USN, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Department of Defense When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, August 1, 2013
Where: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa: JOINT – Examining the State Department’s Report on Iranian Presence in the Western Hemisphere 19 Years After AMIA Attack Who: Matthew Levitt, Ph.D., Director and Senior Fellow, Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Mr. Michael A. Braun, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Spectre Group International, LLC, (Former Chief of Operations, Drug Enforcement Administration) When: 2:00 PM, Thursday, August 1, 2013 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness: Ensuring Navy surface force effectiveness with limited maintenance resources Who: Rear Admiral Timothy S. Matthews, USN, Director, Fleet Readiness (OPNAV N43), Chief of Naval Operations, Department of Defense, Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rowden, USN, Director, Surface Warfare (OPNAV N96), Chief of Naval Operations, Department of Defense When: 3:30 PM, Thursday, August 1, 2013 Where: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Committee on Homeland Security: Border Security Planning: Applying Overseas Lessons Learned to the Homeland When: 9:00 AM, Friday, August 2, 2013 Where: 311 House Office Building


Appropriations Subcommittee on Department of Defense: Markup of the FY2014 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill When: 10:30 AM, Tuesday, July 30, 2013 Where: 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Veterans’ Affairs: Preserving the Rights of Servicemembers, Veterans, and their Families in the Financial Marketplace When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, July 31, 2013 Where: 418 Russell Senate Office Building

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia: How Prepared is the National Capital Region for the Next Disaster? When: 2:00 PM, Wednesday, July 31, 2013 Where: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight: Management of POW/MIA Accounting When: 10:30 AM, Thursday, August 1, 2013 Where: 342 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Think Tanks & Other Events

American Enterprise Institute: Squaring the Circle: General Raymond T. Odierno on American Military Strategy in a Time of Declining Resources Who: General Raymond T. Odierno, USA, Chief of Staff When: 10:30 AM, Monday, July 29, 2013 Where: 1150 17th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 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 Monday, July 29, 2013 11:14 am

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