Defense Roundup: The Sky is Falling and the Sea is Rising–the Navy and Air Force Get Serious About Sequester Fears

Posted by Fred Wellman

With Syria Debate Paused, It’s ‘Back to Business’ for US Congress

John T. Bennett (@BennettJohnT), Defense News. It seems that the debate over attacking Syria has taken an unexpected detour and so Congress will be forced to address annoying issues like funding the government and pressing matters like an energy efficiency bill. There is little time for the dysfunctional legislature to come up with a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through December since there is no chance of passing a larger budget for the new fiscal year. Leaders in both chambers expect a CR to start the process this week. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin predicts yet another “cliffhanger” for the defense bill even without other battles. The current version of the CR in the House would fund the Pentagon at post-sequestration 2013 levels, but prohibit things like new program starts and multi-year contracts. The ramifications for another year of failed budget bills are bigger than previous years with the effects of sequester already wreaking havoc on the military and defense industry. We haven’t seen the analysis yet on how a CR might impact day-to-day operations at the Department of Defense and whether more furloughs and layoffs could be one of the results. In the end, what has already promised to be a messy budget cycle will only be more so with lack of decisions from Capitol Hill.

Huntington $4 Billion Carrier Deal Said to be Delayed

Tony Capaccio (@acapaccio), Bloomberg. Last week saw a host of dire predictions and interviews from Navy leaders on the perilous condition of the fleet due to continuing budget cuts and possible worse ones yet to come. Not the least of the examples comes word that the Navy plans to delay by a full year the awarding of the contract for the construction of the next aircraft carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy. The award of the “detail design and construction” contract valued at some $4 billion for Huntington Ingalls Industries was expected any day but sources inside the Navy are saying it will be kicked down the road. The Navy’s chief of information penned an official blog post laying out some dire predictions if sequester continues including delaying the finish of the current carrier under construction and delays to a host of other ship projects. Then on Wednesday, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that the Navy and Marines will be a “hollow” force in 12-18 months without some changes to budget sequestration bringing up memories of the legendary incapable force of the mid-1970s that serves as the parable for worst case scenarios inside the big five-sided building on the Potomac. It’s been a clearly concerted effort on the part of the Navy to paint a picture for Congress and the public of a dire situation but it honestly seems like no one is paying attention.

USAF Weighs Scrapping KC-10, A-10 Fleets

Marcus Weisgerber (@MarcusReports) and Aaron Mehta (@AaronMehta), Defense News. The U.S. Air Force isn’t about to sit back and let the Navy beat them in the “sky is falling” battle. Service pride simply can’t let that happen so the air service let it leak Sunday that they are considering scrapping the entire fleets of multiple aircraft. Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh explained to Air Force Times last week that just cutting a few aircraft from a fleet doesn’t save enough money because you still need the infrastructure. Just a few days later the A-10, KC-10 and F-15Cs were named as likely cuts and the entire search for a new Search and Rescue helicopter could be canceled if sequester cuts are allowed to continue. Those decisions will undoubtedly put Congress, local governments, military support organizations and others into a tizzy like it usually does because cutting those fleets equals lost local jobs across the country. Coincidentally, all of this comes out just as the Air Force Association’s Annual Air and Space Conference kicks off in Washington Monday. Timing is everything.

Army Blesses AUSA conference, Other Events to Hit the Road

Paul McLeary (@PaulMcLeary), Defense News. Speaking of military trade shows, the above-mentioned AFA Air and Space marks the start of the traditional fall series of military shows. Modern Day Marine will follow the next week and the big guy, the Association of the US Army’s Annual Meeting, takes place starting October 21st in Washington DC’s convention center. To the relief of organizers and sponsors, the Secretary of the Army officially approved attendance for military personnel at this year’s show last week. This comes much sooner than last year where Secretary McHugh waited until just a week before the conference after having already cut the Army’s funding by over 90% in light of the series of scandals surrounding conferences in the government. AUSA is also moving its Winter Symposium out of sunny Florida that always smelled kind of like a boondoggle in February to Huntsville, Al. to be closer to the headquarters of Army Materiel Command and then other Army centric locations going forward. Hopes are that these changes towards a more professional development focus at a reasonable cost will allow these key events for industry to continue going forward.

Living Through Nine Suicides

Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Stars and Stripes. Often, we only see the stark suicide crisis among service members and veterans as statistics. For Mark Little, there are eight names and stories in those numbers. Little, who has served in the Navy for 10 years and has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan has known eight service members and veterans who have committed suicide. Little struggles not only with this unique kind of survivor’s guilt, but also PTSD from his deployments. He has had his own questions about continuing his life, but thanks to the intervention of other veterans, the VA, and his own calls to the Veterans Crisis Line, Little now wants to devote his life to making sure service members and veterans are getting the mental health care they need. While Little finds many people don’t want to talk about suicide, he wants to talk about it all the time to get people thinking about solutions. To hear from those who answer calls to the VCL, check out NPR’s stories from these first responders.

With Soldier’s Help, Afghan Interpreter Wins Visa

Joe Gould (@reporterjoe), Army Times. These are the kind of stories we want to read about more often. Interpreters put their lives on the line to safeguard American troops and interests in Afghanistan just as they did in Iraq and so are major targets for assassination. But it’s not easy for these interpreters to get visas to come to America despite laws designed to make emigration simpler. For former Army captain Matt Zeller, one of his interpreter’s visa only came after he lobbied Members of Congress, got 100,000 signatures on a petition, and even got the endorsement of Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer. While Janis can now bring his family to the US, another interpreter Zeller worked with is still waiting for a visa while hiding from the Taliban. All of the lobbying could be moot, too, if Congress doesn’t reauthorize the special immigrant visa program by the program’s expiration in 2014.

A Soldier’s Wife

Christopher Goffard (@LATChrisGoffard), Los Angeles Times. Not only a well-written piece, but also an emotionally powerful photographic journey through one couple’s struggle with life after combat. When Candy married Tom, a cav scout whose time in Iraq stayed with him long after coming home, she pictured their perfect life together. What she overlooked were the signs that war had taken its toll on Tom. From drinking to depression to falling asleep with a loaded gun in hand, Tom is the unfortunate poster boy for the mental health crisis some veterans face that leads to, in this case, unemployment, hospital wards, and jail time. Through all of this, Candy struggles, too, to care for her husband and their three children. In the end, how it turns out for their family is still up in the air, but after Tom’s year-long stint in rehab, they have a second chance.

9/11 Anniversary — The Soldiers’ Perspective, From the Front Lines

Laura Dimon, PolicyMic. Twelve years after September 11, 2001 and we are still a nation at war. Men and women barely old enough to remember that Tuesday, or the emotional gravity of it, are today serving in Afghanistan. At PolicyMic, they have gathered ten essays from those who have been part of the post-9/11 era wars. Our friend Dr. Mike Haynie from Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families writes about the immense divide between those who have served and those who have not. A widow of suicide writes that she wants her husband to be known for the lives he saved overseas, not the victim of bureaucratic failures. Dr. Phil Carter from the Center for a New American Security says he worries about the nation’s attention span drifting away from the men and women who served after 9/11 and what that means for our nation’s veterans. A worthwhile collection of essays.

Tradeshows & Conferences

AFA Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition (Mon-Wed, 16-18 September); Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MD

NGAUS 135th General Conference (Fri-Mon, 20-23 September); Honolulu, HI

Our website has a full list of upcoming tradeshows

Congressional Hearings


Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health: Making a Difference: Shattering Barriers to Effective Mental Health Care for Veterans Who: Mr. Howard Barry, Father of Joshua Berry (deceased), Mr. Nate Pelletier, Executive Director, Joseph House, Inc., Mr. Rodger Young, Clermont County Veterans Service Commission, Mr. Paul Worley, Adams County Veterans Service Commission, Ms. Kristi D. Powell, Scioto County Veterans Service Commission, Ms. Linda D. Smith, FACHE, Medical Center Director, Cincinnati VA Medical Center, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs When: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, September 17, 2013 Where: 7850 Five Mile Road Anderson Township, OH 45320

Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence: Understanding the Threat to the Homeland from AQAP When: 2:00 PM, Wednesday, September 18, 2013 Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building

Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications: Assessing the Nation’s State of Preparedness: A Federal, State, and Local Perspective When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, September 19, 2013 Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building

Veterans’ Affairs Committee: Trials in Transparency: An Analysis of VA Cooperation with Congress in Meeting its Oversight Responsibilities on Behalf of Veterans When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, September 19, 2013 Where: 334 Cannon House Office Building

Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa: Examining the Syrian Refugee Crisis Who: The Honorable Anne C. Richard, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, US Department of State, The Honorable Nancy E. Lindborg, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, US Agency for International Development When: 10:30 PM, Thursday, September 19, 2013 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency: DHS Acquisition Practices: Improving Outcomes for Taxpayers Using Defense and Private Sector Lessons Learned When: 2:00 PM, Thursday, September 19, 2013 Where: 311 Cannon House Office Building


The Senate is boring this week

Think Tanks & Other Events

Newseum: Panel Discussion: Security, Freedom and Privacy in the Digital Age
When: 9:30 AM, Wednesday, September 18, 2013 Where: 555 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20001

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments: Sustaining the US Defense Industrial Base as a Strategic Asset Who: Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Elana Broitman, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Manufacturing & Industrial Base Policy When: 3:00 PM, Wednesday, September 18, 2013 Where: 334 Cannon House Office Building

Brookings Institution: Security Trade-Off?  Implications of Cybersecurity Regulations and International Trade Who: Annegret Bendiek, Senior Associate, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, John S. Miller, Senior Counsel and Policy Strategist, Global Public Policy, Intel Corporation, Dr. Joshua Meltzer, Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution When: 10:00 AM, Thursday, September 19, 2013 Where: 1775 Massachusetts Ave 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 Monday, September 16, 2013 8:24 am

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