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January 7 Weekly Defense Industry Roundup

Posted by Rob Riggins

Obama to nominate Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary

Scott Wilson, Washington Post. Former Senator and Vietnam veteran Chuck Hagel will likely be formally nominated to serve as the next SecDef today or tomorrow according to sources in the administration. Hagel has been spending several weeks waiting for a decision from the White House that seems to have come over the weekend. His bid has been questioned by a number of conservative Republicans due to accusations that he is anti-Israeli and soft on Iraq among other concerns. It’s yet to be seen if the rumblings will result in enough enthusiasm to truly block his confirmation.

Congressional Chaos Costs U.S. Navy Millions, Leaves Ships in Limbo

Christopher P. Cavas, Defense News. The 112th Congress officially ended with the swearing in of the 113th on January, 3. With it went a number of bills that the military was hoping to put to bed. For the Navy this means that what is traditionally a simple bill to transfer old ships from the U.S. fleet to friendly nations has to go back to the drawing board after seven months of languishing last year. The idea was to transfer some 10 Oliver Perry-class ships to Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey but when an anonymous Senator placed a hold on the bill it died. Now the Navy will have to spend millions on upkeep of ships our allies had hoped to acquire. This is yet another example of how things that used to be simple procedural votes are now ideological battlegrounds without rhyme or reason most of the time.

Army Drops Suspension of Contractor in Criminal Probe

Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today. Tom has yet another story on the trials and tribulations of Camille Chidiac and his company Leonie Industries after the Army decided to lift his suspension from doing business with the service. Chidiac has been the focus of a lot of attention since it was revealed he had set up websites that ostensibly seemed to be designed to smear USA Today reporters that were criticizing his firm including Vanden Brook. The hold was ended when an investigation revealed Chidiac had conducted his activities on his personal time and equipment and that he has placed his stake in the company he co-founded in a trust agreement. Either way this is sure to stir another look at the Army’s “propaganda” operations in Afghanistan.

Army’s Kiowa Warrior Helos Undergoing Sensor Upgrades

Seth Robinson, Stars and Stripes. The Army’s long serving fleet of scout helicopters will be getting yet another upgrade that will help them serve better in urban environments and improve their life spans. At $4 million per airframe the most visible change will be moving the well recognized ball sensor package from the top of the rotor mast to a chin mount making it easier to look down for the crew in tight environments such as cities and tight wooded areas. The package will also get a tech upgrade allowing it to capture and transmit high-quality color images as well. The new OH-58F’s will pack three kinds of lasers for painting targets and even an eye-safe one for training. The aircraft have flown the majority of close combat support missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and are loved by the troops they support.

Veterans’ jobless rate falls but remains high

Gregg Zoroya, USA Today. While month-to-month jobs numbers on Iraq and Afghanistan veterans’ employment have shown so much fluctuation it has been hard to make any prognostications, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics has finally release the annual figure that takes into account big trends. In 2012, young veteran employment fell to 9.9 percent from a 2011 high of 12.1 percent. Government officials are saying 2011 was the peak and we’re seeing in these numbers the effects of a rebounding economy. Veterans overall are still finding work at a higher rate than their civilian peers, but it’s young vets and even more so female vets who are having the hardest time in the job market.

The week ahead:

Tradeshows and Conferences:  No major defense tradeshows or conferences this week that we are aware of nationally.

Congress: The full Congress is not in session this week.

Think tanks and other news events: 

Stimson Center: Discussion With Special Inspector General For Afghanistan Reconstruction On Challenges Facing The US, Washington, DC (2:30 PM, 10 Jan) Description: From Stimson, “Afghanistan’s struggles with insecurity and corruption are likely to continue well past the 2014 transition. Meanwhile the US has entered an era of fiscal austerity that will limit resources available to the Pentagon, State Department, and other government agencies involved in reconstruction. Sustainability has become one of the foremost issues for reconstruction investments as a consequence.” RSVP online. Participants: John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction Location: 1111 19th Street NW, Twelfth Floor, 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.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 07, 2013 11:01 am

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