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October 15 Defense Industry Weekly Roundup

Posted by Fred Wellman

Leon Panetta on Cyber Security: D.C. Action Needed

Philip Ewing and Tony Romm, Politico. SecDef Panetta offered a bleak outlook on the cyberwarfare front while the Vice Presidential debate raged on Thursday and threw down the gauntlet for Congress and the private sector to better prepare for the threat of a cyber ‘Pearl Harbor’. Ewing and Romm discuss the other possibilities that could occur as the challenge grows as the U.S. increasingly realizes that just playing defense isn’t going to be enough with the thousands of potential threats from individual hackers to whole of government onslaughts from the likes of Iran and China. The problem is that it isn’t just a defense, police or intelligence issue. The effort will take a whole of society approach that the U.S. is hopelessly bad at mustering normally and all the worse in today’s political environment.

BAE-EADS Merger Talks Collapse

Marjorie Censer, Washington Post. The talks to merge European defense leaders BAE and EADS collapsed this week in the face of unbending demands from the countries with stakes in the companies. The failure leads many experts in D.C. speculating that BAE sits now as a possible takeover target for U.S. defense manufacturers who see a clearer path to a merger past regulators and laws. While BAE dismisses the notion the situation plays right into what many of anticipated for months now as defense budgets around the world shrink and the industry faces consolidations and changes to survive.

Defense Contractors Back Off Layoff Notice Plans 

Marjorie Censer, Washington Post Capital Business. After new White House guidance last week most defense contractors have backed off threats to send out layoff notices to employees in compliance with the WARN act and the impending sequestration budget cuts. In a politically controversial memo the White House said that if any layoffs or plant closings were generated by sequestration they would consider those as “allowable costs” and would be covered by the contracting agency. Effectively they are saying if this thing goes down we’ll cover your costs on the shutdown. This set off recriminations from the GOP saying this is basically ignoring the law and using tax dollars to cover the tab when the cuts come. This issue is far from resolved.

Putin Says Iraq Arms Deal Shows Trust in Russian Weaponry

Ilya Arkhipov, Bloomberg. In news that threw a little bit of a bitter pill across the Atlantic, Iraq announced a $4.2 billion purchase of Russian and Czech military gear including helicopters and anti-aircraft systems. Russian president Putin was quick to tout the contract award as a sign of the trust being restored in Russian weapons systems after years of losing to western nations.  Those of us who helped the Iraqis rebuild their military see it more as acknowledgement of the deep familiarity and ease of use the nation has with Russian equipment after decades of using Soviet equipment as the mainstay of their armed forces. Many forget that the Iraqis were equipped with Russian Mi-8 helicopters by the U.S. and not U.S. aircraft.

LCS: Let’s Talk Facts

Rear Admiral John Kirby, Navy Live Blog. The Navy’s Chief of Information RADM John Kirby offered a rare and spirited counterpoint to an article critical of the Navy’s LCS ship program. In a lengthy point by point rebuttal of an article posted to Time’s Battleland Blog titled “The Navy’s New Class of Warships: Big Bucks, Little Bang” by John Sayen, Kirby tried to answer with the Navy’s view of the facts surrounding the program. While you can argue over the relative merits of either gentleman’s arguments, what is more remarkable to us is the very direct response to an article from the Navy’s chief communicator. It signals a real effort to rebut what the Navy sees as an unreasonable onslaught against one of their foundational programs. Interesting situation and shows the power of communications in this budget and political environment.

Thousands of Female Veterans Are Coming Home: Is the US Ready to Welcome Them?

Bill Briggs, NBC. There remains a challenge for post-9/11 female veterans as a surge in unemployment was reported this month of 19.9% and the issues they face become more urgent. Making up 15% of the armed forces, women are becoming increasingly a larger proportion of the veteran population looking for work or care in VA facilities and much of society remains unaware of their experiences in modern combat. Briggs lays out the odd dual life a young female faces navigating the world of veterans that are traditionally older and decidedly male.

Home Depot Aiding Military Vet Transition to Civilian Jobs

Jacques Couret, Atlanta Business Journal. The Home Depot announced an exciting new effort called Mission: Transition this week which will help transitioning military personnel and veterans get career assistance and skills translation to smooth their job search. The effort will include a sweeping series of career workshops across the country from Hawaii to Florida held at over 100 Home Depot stories with human resources professionals and veteran employees of the company offering resume review, interview techniques and other tips to job seekers. In addition, a job skills translator is now live on the Home Depot military website to help job seekers get an understanding of what their military experience means to the civilian sector. You can learn more at http://www.homedepotmilitary.com/ and register at a store near you. Over 20 of the locations are near military installations. The effort has gained the endorsement of a host of prestigious veterans organizations and Vietnam Veterans of America issued a press release applauding Home Depot for their efforts for veterans. Read it here: VVA Applauds the Home Depot.

The week ahead

Tradeshows and Conferences:

Military Reporters and Editors Association Annual Conference, Washington, DC (Thurs-Fri, 18-19 Oct) The annual gathering of the best military and defense-focused journalists in the country meets in DC to discuss current events, hand out awards to some remarkable efforts and hear from the top military leaders. Participants: Among the notable participants are: General Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, Holly Petraeus, Assistant Director for the Office of Servicemember Affairs, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Scott Gould, Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Location: The National Press Club and the Rayburn House Office Building

Next big event: Association of the U.S. Army Annual Conference, Washington D.C., 22-24 October, Walter Washington Convention Center

Congress: The full Congress is not session this week except for pro forma sessions. There are no defense or veteran’s related hearings or events.

 Think tanks and other news events: 

Elliot School of International Affairs: U.S. National Security and Defense Priorities in a Time of Austerity, Washington, DC (6:00 PM, Tues 16 Oct) Description: A discussion of national security priorities in a time of shrinking budgets sponsored by the Distinguished Women in International Affairs series, Security Policy Forum, and the Global Gender Forum. RSVP online. Participants: Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; Co-founder, Center for a New American Security Location: City View Room, 7th Floor, 1957 E Street NW, Washington, DC

New America Foundation: Is al-Qaeda Defeated? An Experts’ Debate, Washington, DC (12:15 PM, Tues 16 Oct) Description: While some counterterrorism analysts and officials say that U.S. military efforts over the past 11 years have resulted in the defeat of al-Qaeda, others argue that the terrorist organization is more durable than that. The successes won by the CIA drone program in Pakistan’s tribal regions and the symbolic killing of Osama bin Laden might be tempered by the growing strength of al-Qaeda’s affiliates in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, and Libya. Experts will debate. RSVP online. Participants: Peter Bergen, New America Foundation, Col. (Ret.) Thomas Lynch III, National Defense University, Thomas Joscelyn, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Bill Roggio, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Editor, Long War Journal Location: 1899 L St., N.W., Suite 400, Washington, D.C. 20036

Fred Wellman with General Petraeus in Iraq

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, October 15, 2012 12:23 pm

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