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Defense Roundup: Sequester Squeeze on Combat Readiness, BRAC Fights Ahead, Army Takes on Honey Boo Boo

Posted by Fred Wellman

K Street Looking Forward to BRAC Fights

Byron Tau (@ByronTau), Politico. The Department of Defense is asking for another opportunity to close bases they see as unnecessary and underutilized. The process known as Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, is one of the most politically charged efforts undertaken by the federal government as local governments and business groups pull out the stops to keep the massive amount of jobs and revenue that accompany military bases. Congress has already begun to make a stand that they won’t allow BRAC to happen again but just in case, state and local governments are already putting together their teams to fight off the loss of their installations. Needless to say the good folks down on K Street have already begun the rounds of briefs and proposals to help various constituencies fight BRAC. Specialized firms staffed by veterans of the last round of BRAC are in demand already and if things continue with the budget cuts there is no reason to believe they won’t be busy folks in the next four or five years as the long process to close a federal installation unfolds.

As Firms Target Exports, Offsets Create Headaches

Andrew Chuter, Defense News. With cuts in the U.S. and most western countries’ defense budgets, the major defense manufacturers have been rushing to sell more of their products to emerging foreign markets. Many of these sales involve what are known as “offsets” which are agreements to build the systems in the purchasing country with local partners, invest in local projects, transfer technology to the purchasing country, or flat cash payments and rebates. These offsets are growing dramatically and the costs to the companies, the U.S. in terms of technological superiority, and to the defense industry as a whole could be severe in the future. Many firms, in the desperate rush to create new markets, could very well be creating their own future competitors as developing countries suddenly get advanced technology, modern manufacturing facilities, and technological experience they could not have produced domestically for decades. The sheer cost alone of the offset agreements being made has grown to a staggering $424 billion between 2012 and 2021 and continues to grow. This creates massive near term balance sheet risk for the companies and long-term competitive challenges. This is yet another of our much talked about second and third order effects of U.S. defense cuts that will come home to roost in years to come.

Confidential Report Lists U.S. Weapons System Designs Compromised by Chinese Cyberspies

Ellen Nakashima (@nakashimae), Washington Post. Nakashima has been reporting on the efforts of Chinese cyberspies and hackers who have been stealing thousands and thousands of pages of U.S. defense technology from nearly all U.S. and western defense manufacturers. The latest bad news comes in the form of the confidential portion of a report from the Defense Science Board that lists the U.S. weapon systems designs that have been stolen by the Chinese and includes technology that could well bring the Chinese military to parity with any U.S. systems in the future. The list is shocking and includes the F-35, the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile system, the Global Hawk UAV, all of the Marines tracked combat vehicles, the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T), the Littoral Combat Ship and dozens of technologies like Rail Guns, side scan sonar, and radars. The Obama Administration has been growing more critical and louder in its accusations against the Chinese efforts, but there has been no slow down at all while U.S. firms and the new Cyber Command scramble to figure out who even has authority to actually do anything about the problem and what they can do. The thefts make the spy games played during the Cold War by the Soviet Union and U.S. seem almost quaint in comparison.

Budget Cuts Leave Air Force Pilots Twisting in the Wind

Steve Vogel (@steve_vogel), Washington Post. It’s not been two months since the sequestration budget cuts went into effect and we are already seeing stories trying toclaim that the Pentagon overhyped its effects. After all, defense firms are still bringing in profits, the furloughs aren’t all that bad, and the economy is improving. Unfortunately, that argument is like looking down a straw at a tornado and saying “it just looks a little breezy”. The U.S. military is making huge cuts in training and maintenance of the forces around the world to meet the mandated cuts and those efforts are already reducing combat units to near zero readiness if called up in a crisis. Steve Vogel looks at one Air Force F-15 squadron as an example. Just two months after returning from a successful combat rotation, the unit’s aircraft are parked, major maintenance has been deferred, and pilots are not maintaining even minimum flight hours to prepare for combat if needed. The pilots fly minimum hours to keep their wings but are not considered combat qualified and will need months of retraining if called upon. In the near term, the U.S. has dramatically less combat power if needed and the long term effects are incalculable as pilots who spend their days lifting weights and volunteering in local schools leave the service in frustration, as aircraft that have sat for months without flying develop major maintenance issues, and the future force is unable to meet the nation’s call when emergency arises. Military combat power isn’t like business that is only interested in this quarter’s results. Military readiness is measured in years and lives. If you’ve never read about Task Force Smith and the debacle in July 1950 this would be a good time to dust it off.

Army plans to launch a reality TV show

Annalyn Kurtz, CNN Money. Unlike how the “Jersey Shore” recruited scores of young adults into tanning beds and lewd drama, the Army plans to use reality television for good, not evil. Calling it a commercial and not entertainment in order to produce the series, the show will follow civilians as they shadow a Soldier in a particular Army MOS (or job) to get a feel for what being a Soldier entails. It remains to be seen whether the show will be more or less realistic than the “Real Housewives of Orange County”.

Changes in Defense Media:

Baron to Atlantic Media’s Defense One

Last week we learned that Atlantic Media is launching its own defense vertical. This week we learned that Kevin Baron, formerly of Foreign Policy via National Journal via Stars & Stripes,will be taking point as Executive Editor. We wish him, and his hair, good luck on their new adventure.

The week ahead:

Tradeshows and Conferences:

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans’ Annual Conference (Wed-Thu, 29-31 May), Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005 The NCHV annual conference is the foremost gathering of federal agencies, service providers, and policymakers working to end homelessness among veterans. The conference is sponsored by The Home Depot Foundation which has committed $80 million towards ensuring every veteran has a safe place to call home (and is a ScoutComms client.) The theme of this year’s conference is a call to action: the funding and plans to end veteran homelessness are in place, now it’s time to share the best practices from the field from service providers.

Congress: Both chambers are in recess this week.

Think tanks and other news events:

New America Foundation:Online Radicalization: Myths and Realities What: A panel discussion on the threat that online extremist material poses to vulnerable individuals in this country, and the vital role the community plays in preventing and countering Internet radicalization. Who: Peter Bergen, Director, National Security Studies Program, New America Foundation, Mohamed Elibiary, Founder, Lone Star Intelligence LLC, Member of Secretary Napolitano’s Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), Peter Neumann, Director, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, Imam Suhaib Webb, Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Rabia Chaudry, Fellow, New America Foundation, Founder, Safe Nation Collaborative, Rashad Hussein, U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation When: 12:15 PM, Tuesday, May 28 Where: 1899 L St., N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036

Brookings Institution:Reviving U.S. Foreign Policy: The Case for Putting Americas House in Order What: A discussion on the challenging issues facing the United States at home and their impact on the successful pursuit of U.S. foreign and security policies abroad. Who: Martin S. Indyk, Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy, Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations, Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy. When: 3:30 PM, Thursday, May 30 Where: 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, D.C. 20036

American Security Project:Nuclear Terrorism: What’s at Stake? What: A conversation on preventing nuclear terror on the U.S. domestic front. U.S. ports present a potential vulnerability and securing these ports requires improvement in the capacity to detect and secure nuclear materials that could arrive in shipping containers. Who: The Honorable Jay M. Cohen (R. Admiral, USN, Retired), Principal of The Chertoff Group and Former Undersecretary for Science and Technology-Department of Homeland Security, David Waller, Former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and former Assistant Secretary of Energy for International Affairs, Dr. Stephen E. Flynn, Professor and Founding Co-Director of the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at Northeastern University and Former President of the Center for National Policy, Dr. Stanton D. Sloane, President & CEO, Decision Sciences International Corporation, Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.), ASP CEO When: 8:00 AM, Wednesday, May 29 Where: 1100 New York Avenue, NW · Suite 710W, Washington, DC

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.

 

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 8:27 am

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