Defense Roundup: “There is no good news,” MOH Recipient Heading to North Korea, UAVs headed to DC

Posted by Fred Wellman

Hagel Can’t Offer Any Hope in Budget Cuts

Lara Jakes (@larajakesap), Associated Press. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is clearly not trying for the “it’s all going to be okay” parenting approach when discussing the budget circumstances of his department with service members, their families, and the department’s civilian employees. He spent much of last week on the road visiting military bases as the first week of civilian furloughs began with tough stories across the nation. Hagel traveled with a depressing message with the hopes of averting more budget pain for the military. His bottom line message is that unless Congress fixes the sequestration budget cuts, things are going to get much worse than they are now. He is telling his audiences he will ensure military readiness first and the price will be civilian staff and a range of other non-defense programs yet to be determined. He started the week off announcing that his own staff and that of the Joint Chiefs and service headquarters would be cut by 20% starting in 2015 as he tries to spread the pain after huge growth for over a decade. As he says it himself: “There is no good news.”

Top 100: Looking Beyond Defense

Zachary Fryer-Biggs, Defense News. Our friends at Defense News are out with their annual list of the top 100 defense companies in the world and as always the analysis reveals some interesting insight into the industry and its challenges. Once again, Lockheed Martin tops the list as the top global defense manufacturer with little change in rankings of the top 10 and all but Lockheed posted an overall decline in defense revenue. This year marks the second year in a row of overall declining defense revenue with a 3% drop as U.S. budget cuts began to take effect. Interestingly though, total revenue for the top 100 went up 3% reflecting the move by most into non-defense work as world military purchasing declined. Just five years ago, 38% of total revenue by the top 100 was defense focused and this year it’s down to just 28% as the industry diversifies. Bucking this trend were increases from several Russian companies as that nation’s exports grew 6% over 2011 and more than doubled since 2005. It remains to be seen how continued U.S. cuts will impact things as the real cuts begin in earnest.

U.S. Military Drone Surveillance is Expanding to Hot Spots Beyond Declared Combat Zones

Craig Whitlock, (@craigmwhitlock) Washington Post. The ends of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t resulted in any slowdown in the demand on the United States’ large fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles, just a new focus. Craig Whitlock examines the new missions that the aircraft are supporting from finding Columbian narco-terrorists, tracking Al-Qaeda militants in the vast Sahara, and, as revealed by a crash in late 2011, helping Turkey keep tabs on the Kurdish PKK militant group along the Iraqi border. While all of these missions are unarmed surveillance missions, the long linger and high tech sensors on Predators, Reapers, Grey Eagles and locally launched Scan Eagles provide governments an upper hand in their various fights. The age of unmanned aviation won’t be slowed down by the distaste many feel for the armed strike missions so often publicized and criticized internationally as these systems find continued value in the world’s hotspots. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International will be bringing its annual meeting to Washington D.C. in mid-August this year so more policy makers can get a look at what they hope will be a bright future of new missions for drones.

From Brains to Planes, 3-D Printing Opens World of Possibilities for Military

Matthew M. Burke, Stars and Stripes. 3-D printing has burst in to the collective consciousness of the U.S. in the last year. But it’s anything but a new technique for the military and is increasingly being relied upon as a relatively easy way to translate precise digital models into everything from aircraft replacement parts to prosthetic limbs for wounded warriors. The Navy reports that there are some 83 plastic parts for F/A-18s and another 300 for the F-35 that can be made using 3-D printing. This brave new world also opens the possibilities of vulnerabilities as simple as hacking that could damage designs for critical components and lead to parts that fail during combat. Regardless, the process is being looked at as the next revolution in logistics and medical technology for the military and is worth watching as it unfolds for new opportunities.

Special Report: Military Logistics – US Pacific Shift Has Heavy Logistics Price Tag

Paul McLeary (@paulmcleary), Defense News. There were two interesting news items this week on the much talked about “Pacific/Asia Pivot”. Paul McLeary examined the logistics involved in reorganizing U.S. forces in the region and the large price tag it will carry in a time of decreasing budgets. In one of the earliest examples available, moving some 9,000 Marines from their single base on Japan’s Okinawa and spreading them across multiple Pacific basin locations will cost some $12 billion. The other news item on the topic was in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Marty Dempsey’s response to the Senate on his confirmation hearings for a second term. In his answers, he states that the much awaited Strategic Choices and Management Review is nearly complete and will conclude increased budget requirements for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines to support their renewed focus on the Pacific. While not surprising it still bodes ill for the Army as they continue to be the force to sacrifice more for the team in every budget cycle.

Sexual Assault Victims Say VA Isn’t Doing Enough

Leo Shane (@LeoShane), Stars and Stripes. As military sexual assault gets a huge focus from the brass, Congress, the Administration, and the media, an overlooked aspect took center stage on the Hill this week: what happens to MST survivors once they become veterans. The survivors who testified did not have positive stories to share about their experiences with VA health care, while VA says it is trying to improve care and has been providing more services to MST survivors which is reflected in the data. One major issue, though, is that of the VA’s 12 residential PTSD facilities that specialize in MST counseling, only one allows male patients and VA offers no male-only support groups. Considering the number of male victims recent reports on MST are finally giving voice to, it’s a huge issue VA must address. Another issue survivors note is that many are unwilling to seek MST care or counseling at the VA which in their mind is tied to the military. Advocates want to see VA become more willing to pay for non-VA mental health care for MST victims. As prevention dominates headlines, treatment shouldn’t be overlooked.

Veteran Returns to North Korea for First Black Navy Aviator

Jean Lee, Associated Press. The must-read story of the week follows an 88-year-old Medal of Honor recipient’s quest to fulfill his promise to a dying comrade. One led a privileged life growing up white in the 1940s, the other grew up black and impoverished in a segregated America, but both were equals and brothers in arms as fighter pilots in the US Navy. Jesse Owens was the Navy’s first black pilot, respected and loved by the men in his squadron. When his plane was shot down over Jangjin, his wingman Thomas Hudner showed unparalleled courage and crash-landed his own plane in the hopes of rescuing Owens. While he couldn’t bring back his friend 63 years ago, Hudner will soon return to North Korea on a mission to do now what he couldn’t do then.

House Panel Seeks Full Review of Causes Behind VA Claims Backlog            

Rick Maze (@Rmazetns), Military Times. While the VA’s backlog of disability claims is going down, Congressional leaders on the House Veterans Affairs Committee aren’t about to let the agency get all the credit. The committee recently passed a bill that would form a multi-agency task force that would review the VA backlog and investigate ways to end it once and for all. Advocates are generally against a task force or commission saying it would divert resources away from VA at a time when it’s actually making progress. Those same advocates are more evenly split on whether the VA needs a quadrennial veterans review much like the DoD’s much maligned one. For its part, VA claims it is already doing something similar internally negating any need for an external process. So it follows that Congress nonetheless is pushing for just that. But expect Congress’s next big fuss about VA to be over the department’s $3 million in Facebook ads.

Tradeshows & Conferences

No major tradeshows this week.

Our website has a full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Fred Wellman, President ScoutComms, brings us his weekly review of defense industry and veteran  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 Thursday, July 25, 2013 8:37 am

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