March 25 Weekly Defense Industry Roundup

Posted by Fred Wellman

Sequestration Whacks National Space Symposium: NASA Drops Out, Some Air Force Cancel

Colin Clark (@colinclarkaol), AOL Defense. The National Space Symposium is the largest space operations related conference in the world and held every year in Colorado Springs with all of the top space organizations and companies attending…except NASA this year. In a rather bizarre sequester spending cut, NASA has decided that the preeminent gathering of companies and agencies on the topic of their mission isn’t an officially supported event. You really do have to wonder just how ridiculous some of these decisions are becoming at some point. The Navy League happily announced this week that they finally got approval from the Navy that their annual Sea-Air-Space Exposition occurring next week qualifies as an officially supported event. Sixteen military commands will be represented at the event at the National Harbor event April 6th through 8th. They tell us that registrations so far this year are only slightly below last year at this time. We’ll see what happens with other industry events as the sequester settles in.

Pentagon Puts Brakes on Sending Out Furlough Notices – for Now

Chris Carroll (@ChrisCarroll), Stars and Stripes. The Pentagon held off sending out thousands of furlough notices to civilian employees late Friday after Congress passed a new continuing resolution on Thursday. The CR puts to rest threats of a government shutdown but also freed up some money for DoD to address operations and maintenance account shortfalls. That money might at least alleviate the number of furlough days needed to close the budget shortfall. The department expects to spend two weeks looking at the budget and doesn’t expect to release any furlough notices until April 5th at least. Unfortunately, National Guard Bureau sent notices to employees of about 21 states and territories before the cut off and is now working to undo the confusion. It’s a sign of the times though as uncertainty and confusion rule the day for DoD employees. It is impossible not to believe good employees are going to head for the exits instead of putting up with a life of constant uncertainty.

Drones Will Require New Privacy Laws, Senate Told 

Joan Lowy (@AP_Joan_Lowy), Associated Press. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing this week discussing the laws surrounding the increasing use of unmanned aircraft in domestic airspace. Witnesses made their cases that current privacy laws don’t encompass the proliferation of small drones that will become available and placed in use by law enforcement, media, and a host of other operators to come. The FAA recently predicted that some 7,500 civilian drones would be in the skies within five years of the agency granting them access. Meanwhile the industry itself is getting beat to death by foes on both ends of the political spectrum and is clearly losing the conversation to louder voices. For proof, you need to look no further than the post hearing Twitter conversation between reporters from the Boston Globe and US News and World Report on Friday:

From @DavidUberti:  @jason_koebler Very interesting. Until then, I wasn’t aware of just how clueless the PR side of the domestic drone industry was.

Further proof of how bizarre the conversation has become lies in this story in the Atlantic where they figured out that what is known as the ‘Canonical’ image of a drone, the ubiquitous photo of a Predator firing a Hellfire missile, is actually a model rendering further dressed up with Photoshop. The entire thing is fake and it has been used absolutely everywhere for a couple of years now whenever someone wants to scare folks about the dangers of these ‘flying robots of death’.

Army Carbine Program May Waste $1.8 Billion, Report Finds

Tony Capaccio (@ACapaccio) and Danielle Ivory (@danielle_ivory), Bloomberg. The Pentagon Inspector General released a statement this week that finds the Army may waste upwards of $1.8 billion by developing a replacement for the M4 carbine rifle even as it draws down forces and upgrades the M4 itself simultaneously. The IG told a House committee this week they are in the midst of an evaluation of the program and expect to find that the Army failed to establish a need for the weapon or develop appropriate performance requirements for a new rifle and program of such magnitude. The IG also highlighted other savings failings by the services including overpricing of spare parts for aircraft and the joint land attack cruise missile defense program from Raytheon. The report on the carbine is expected to be completed within two months.

After Decade of War, Troops Still Struggling to Find Work

Greg Jaffe (@GregJaffe), The Washington Post. As veterans advocates debate whether a veteran unemployment crisis exists or does not exist, Jaffe profiles a group of unemployed Oklahoma National Guardsmen and puts faces on the numbers game. Even with a special coordinator assigned to help soldiers find jobs and a community that deeply supports its troops, some returned soldiers are having a difficult time finding work. None of their stories is the same, either. One has a college degree but can’t convince civilian employers that military experience is work experience, others struggle with PTSD and other invisible scars of war that affect interviews and job performance. In the end, with budgets shrinking, even the Guard’s job coordinator finds himself soon to be unemployed. His own struggles securing a new position don’t bode well for a lower unemployment rate among recent veterans.

The week ahead:

Tradeshows and Conferences: There are no major tradeshows or conferences we are aware of this week.

Congress: Both chambers are in recess and only meeting for pro forma sessions this week.

Think tanks and other news events: 

The Brookings Institution: A Discussion on Afghanistan with General John Allen, Washington, DC (10:00 AM, Mon 25 Mar) Description: A discussion of the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan. RSVP online.  Participants: General John Allen, former commander of the International Security Assistance Force Location: Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20036

The Stimson Center: Chairman’s Forum with Richard G. Olson, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Washington, DC (12:00 PM, Mon 25 Mar) Description: The Chairman’s forum is a strategic conversation with a leader in international affairs, in this case the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan. RSVP online. Participants: Richard G. Olson, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Location: 1111 19th Street NW, Twelfth Floor, Washington, DC, 20009

The Atlantic Council: Rethinking US Policy Toward Yemen, Washington, DC (2:00 PM, Tue 27 Mar) Description: A panel discussion looking at US policy towards Yemen co-hosted by the Project on Middle East Democracy. RSVP online. Participants: Hafez al Bukari, Director, Yemen Polling Center, Steven Heydemann, Senior Adviser for Middle East Initiatives, US Institute for Peace, Danya Greenfield, Deputy Director, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council Location: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Choate Room, 1st floor), 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC, 2003

Center for Strategic and International Studies: Lessons from Iraq’s Reconstruction, Washington, DC (1:00 PM, Wed 27 Mar) Description: Ten years after the United States entered Iraq, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) is releasing its final report on the reconstruction effort in that country, “Learning from Iraq.” RSVP online. Participants: Stuart Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Location: Conference Room B1 A/B, 1800 K Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20006

The Atlantic Council: The Future of Biofuels in the Department of Defense, Washington, DC (3:00 PM, Thu 28 Mar) Description: A discussion of the risks and benefits of the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) biofuels policies and the ongoing efforts to reduce the department’s petroleum footprint. RSVP online. Participants: James T. Bartis, PhD, Senior Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation, Jan Koninckx, PhD, Global Business Director for Biorefineries, DuPont Industrial Biosciences, Adam Rosenberg, PhD, Deputy Director for Technology Strategy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy, US Department of Defense, Alejandro Zamorano-Cadavid, Biofuels Industry Specialist, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Location: 1101 15th Street, NW, 11th Floor, Washington, DC 20005

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, March 25, 2013 9:15 am

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