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06 Sep 18. DoD Leaders Emphasize National Defense Strategy at Conference. Defense Department military and civilian leaders participated in the Defense News Conference here yesterday to discuss the 2018 National Defense Strategy and how the U.S. military is evolving as it responds to global power competition. Leaders in attendance included Chief of Naval Operations Navy Adm. John Richardson, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy Eric Chewning, and military deputy to the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy III. The leaders’ remarks revolved around the three lines of effort of the NDS: optimizing lethality, increasing the number of allies and partners, and reforming the way DoD does business to quickly get technology into the hands of warfighters. Here are some takeaways from the daylong conference:
— The Navy must be ready to compete in all arenas of global threats against near-peer competitors such as Russia and China, both of which have growing technology capabilities.
— DoD readiness ensures it has more tools today than it has had in the past, which allows the services to provide training that’s rigorous and realistic. More importantly, today’s training ensures mastery of skills.
— A tenet of DoD training is to ensure the services can train and fight with DoD partners and allies.
— Squadrons are the power base of the Air Force. They are the guts, brains and clenched fist of American resolve, and comprise how the Air Force competes, deters and wins. “We must build a more lethal and ready Air Force that can operate seamlessly across all domains with joint and allied partners,” Wilson said.
— Industrial-base collaboration with U.S. partners and allies is an important diplomatic tool for DoD.
— A critical part of the NDS effort to reform business practices in DoD is the priority to get capabilities in the hands of service members downrange quickly. (Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)
05 Sep 18. Pentagon’s A&S reorganization should be completed a year ahead of time. Last December, Ellen Lord sat down with reporters and told them that the reorganization of the Pentagon’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics office would be a two-year process. Now, however, Lord believes her Acquisition and Sustainment office will beat that target, easily.
“I believe we are going to be pretty squared away” by the first quarter of calendar year 2019, Lord told Defense News in an interview following her appearance at the second annual Defense News Conference.
“I believe those last critical slots — a lot of [deputy assistant secretary of defense] slots, a few director slots — will all be filled by March of ’19. We’re excited to get going on the work,” she said.
The AT&L reorganization included splitting the office into two new units — the undersecretaries of Acquisition and Sustainment, led by Lord, and of Research and Engineering, led by Mike Griffin.
In July, Deputy Secretary of Defense Pat Shanahan released a memo — obtained first by Defense News — finalizing the structures of the new organizations. The biggest changes for A&S came in the ASD-Acquisition column, with other, smaller changes spread throughout the department.
Asked why the reorg moved more quickly than she predicted, Lord said: “We didn’t know what we didn’t know.” She noted that her team was able to move more quickly than expected to fill critical spots. We worked through the body of work that we needed to complete, decided what the framework should be,” Lord said. “I was very fortunate to get some excellent leaders on my team, and they have worked together to come up with some constructs that make sense. So I have people in the key positions, and they’re fleshing out the rest of the organization. We continue to bring some great talent on.” (Source: Defense News)
06 Sep 18. U.S. Officials Seek to Boost Arms Sales to India. A decade ago, U.S. arms sales to India amounted to virtually nothing. Today, the United States is the second-largest arms supplier to India, and U.S. officials say they hope to increase that business. Army Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, the director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, spoke to reporters while traveling to India with Defense Secretary James N. Mattis. His agency is responsible for foreign military sales. India is modernizing its military and the United States would like to compete for those sales, he said. “There are four values that govern our relationship with India, and our relationship with all our partners: … transparency, responsiveness, integrity and commitment,” the general said.
Transparency means the agency shares all the information about systems and associated costs with its partners. This allows other nations to make informed decisions on the types of capabilities they need.
‘We’re Very Confident … They’ll Choose American Systems’
“We’re very confident that, when given all of the information that they need, they’ll choose American systems and American services,” Hooper said.
Responsiveness is another key. The general stays in constant touch with his partners. In India’s case that is the director general for acquisition. “Every time I see him, I provide him with a spreadsheet that updates … the status of all of our systems,” Hooper said. “And we have discussions on how we can better strengthen the partnership.”
Integrity is a key value that separates the U.S. approach to security cooperation from others, he said.
“Integrity means, quite simply, our books are always open,” Hooper said. “We don’t charge one penny more than we have to for the finest systems and the finest services in the world. The books are always open, and we can account for every penny that our partners spend.”
The U.S. is committed to providing goods and services at the point of sale, and to forging and strengthening a long-term relationship, the general said.
“We found that when we follow those four values with our Indian partners, it helps to support, to strengthen that relationship,” he said.
Hooper cannot comment on possible sales to India, but he said he believes that no matter the domain, any U.S. system would bring enormous capabilities and be economically competitive. “What I can say is, I expect some very fruitful discussions,” he said. “All of our systems are the best in the world, and I’m sure are very competitive to suit and meet the requirements of our Indian partners.”
India has already bought U.S. C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. One aspect of the current U.S.-Indian talks is the communications compatibility and security agreement. Once signed, a much larger range of U.S. weapons systems would be available to India. Over the years, first the Soviet Union and then Russia were the largest arms suppliers to India. Russia remains the biggest supplier, mainly because of contracts for legacy systems.
“We’re confident that when our partners take a look at the capabilities that we’re offering as opposed to whatever capabilities they previously been committed to, that … U.S. capabilities will stand head-and-shoulders above all of them and will become the selection of choice, and we will become their partner of choice,” Hooper said. (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
05 Sep 18. Adam Smith expects future defense budgets to dip below $716bn. When Congress delivered a $716bn defense budget to the Pentagon, defense leaders made it clear it was a welcome boost — but some questioned if the number would be enough to do everything the department foresees as necessary. Now the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee — who is poised to take over the HASC should November elections go blue — is warning that tightened belts are on the horizon. Asked specifically if $716bn is the right number for defense and whether future budgets will stay at that level, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash, said flatly: “No and no.”
“I think the number’s too high, and its certainly not going to be there in the future,” Smith said at the second annual Defense News Conference.
The congressman argued that the debt and deficit situation facing the country requires balancing out how the government is spending, particularly after the Trump administration’s tax cuts made it “even more difficult to get our budget under control.”
But drawing down the defense budget has to be part of a broader look at U.S. strategy, something that Smith said requires a realistic look at America’s military strategy. He pointed to the idea that 355 ships are vital for the Navy as an example of flawed logic, because “capability matters.”
“We can do this,” Smith said of the U.S. remaining the key world power. “I’m not even remotely worried about it. It is a more complicated and different world in some ways, but the Cold War was no walk in the park either. World War II certainly wasn’t. We will always face challenges. The question is about being smart. We just have to be smart instead of trying to force our way back into a world that is never going to be again.”
“We are going to be a major, major player, probably the major player, on the global stage” for a long time to come, Smith added. “But we are not going to be utterly and completely dominant.” (Source: Defense News)
05 Sep 18. U.S., Pakistani Leaders Agree to Reset Relationship. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held talks with Pakistani leaders in Islamabad today to reset the relationship between the two countries. Pompeo and Dunford met with new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.
“We talked abut their new government and the opportunity to reset the relationship between our two countries across a broad spectrum: economic, business, commercial — the work that we all need to do to try to develop a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan,” Pompeo told reporters here.
Pompeo and Dunford stopped here on their way to the “Two-Plus-Two” talks with Indian leaders in New Delhi. It was the most senior meeting between the representatives of the U.S. government and Pakistan’s new government.
Dunford supported the secretary in his efforts to reset the relationship.
“When we talked to General Bajwa on a military-to-military level, we listened to the prime minister very carefully [and] we listened to the secretary very carefully. The objectives were very consistent between the secretary and prime minister,” Dunford said. “General Bajwa and I agreed that we will leverage the military-to-military relationship for the secretary and prime minister and, more importantly, for President Trump’s South Asia Strategy.”
When President Donald J. Trump announced the South Asia Strategy, Pakistan had a large role to play. “The president’s South Asia strategy was pretty clearly articulated in 2017, and the expectations that we have that Pakistan will cooperate in bringing the Taliban to … an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace process is pretty clear as well,” Dunford said during an earlier discussion with reporters traveling with him. “I think our bilateral relationship moving forward is very much going to be informed by the degree of cooperation from Pakistan in doing it.”
Pakistan has a unique role in dealing with the Taliban, who operate in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. In announcing the strategy last year, Trump said that Pakistan “often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror.”
He called on Pakistan to stop providing safe havens for terrorists who rest and refit for actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere. “Pakistan has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists,” the president said at the time.
Actions Must Back Up Words
Pakistani leaders have been fully briefed on the South Asia Strategy. “On the surface, they say they want to cooperate,” Dunford said earlier. “On the surface, they say they recognize that a peaceful solution in Afghanistan is the right approach. On the surface, they say they support an Afghan-owned, Afghan-led peace process. So what we are looking for is the actions to back that up.
“What we want to see: The Taliban at the peace table dealing with Afghans,” he continued. “And we believe the Pakistanis play a unique role in bringing the Taliban to the peace process.”
U.S. officials also believe Pakistan can have an effect on the Haqqani network, which has been a thorn in the side of coalition and Afghan government efforts in eastern Afghanistan for years. “We also believe the Pakistanis play a unique role in Haqqani’s behavior and the threats we have seen to NATO/allied forces, coalition forces and Afghan forces,” Dunford said.
Following the discussions, Pompeo said the military-to-military relationship underpins the move to reset the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. There will be more discussions ahead, and there must be more results, he said.
“The relationship — military-to-military — is one that has remained in a place where some of the other relationships haven’t, frankly. They still continued to have relations, worked on projects that are important together, and I hope we can use that as one of the foundational elements, as well.”
The bottom line with the talks is that the Pakistanis “agreed it is time to deliver on our joint commitments,” Pompeo said.
“We’ve had lots of time where we’ve talked and made agreements, but we haven’t been able to actually execute those,” he said. “So there was broad agreement … that we need to begin to do things on the ground that will deliver outcomes so we can begin to build confidence and trust between the two countries.” (Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
04 Sep 18. As lawmakers return to work, shutdown fears loom. In four weeks, lawmakers could be heading into the midterm elections with a newly adopted federal budget and a sense of pride for finishing their work on time. Or they could be heading home with a short-term budget extension and a lot of angry voicemails from Pentagon leaders complaining about their long-term budget plans. Or they could be stuck in town dealing with a partial government shutdown, a potential political disaster as voters head to the polls. Given the stakes, the appropriations issue will dominate Congress’ September session. Party leaders have said in recent days they are cautiously optimistic that they can finish a substantial portion of the work by the Sept. 30 deadline. Of course, they have been optimistic in past years, too, and usually unsuccessful. Congress has passed just one of its 12 annual appropriations measures on time in the last eight years (the Veterans Affairs budget for fiscal 2017) and hasn’t finalized all of its appropriations work on time since fiscal 1997. But Senate lawmakers in August did manage to advance a complicated “minibus,” including money for the departments of defense, health and human services, labor and education, setting up the chance for those agencies to see their budget’s finalized on time this year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the move puts Congress “on a pathway to avoid an omnibus or any kind of drama associated with the end of the fiscal year.”
Lesser of two evils
When lawmakers have been unable to meet budget deadlines, they have typically adopted a continuing resolution to extend existing spending levels until a full-year funding deal can be reached. Defense Department officials have long complained those stopgap budget measures hurt their procurement schedules and new program starts, since they delay anticipated funding increases. But Congress sees those short-term fixes as preferable to the alternative: another government shutdown. Funding fights have forced two short shutdowns this year, but also shuttered federal offices for nearly three weeks in 2013. Throughout the summer, President Donald Trump has hinted that he may force a partial government shutdown if Democrats don’t go along with his plans of increased funding for a security wall along the southern U.S. border. Congressional Republicans have tried to downplay those threats and keep both sides on finding a final compromise in the next few weeks.
“We’ve got a month to go, and my concern right now is getting the House back, where we can start working face-to-face and try we can resolve some differences between our bills,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., adding that an impasse is “looming out there.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, the top Democrat on the Senate’s Defense Appropriations subcommittee and Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, warned Trump that such a move would symbolize Washington dysfunction and alienate midterm voters.
“I don’t think the president understands the damage that would be done if he shuts down the government over any issue, let alone the border wall,” Durbin said. “If he is foolish enough to do that and the Republican leadership can’t convince him otherwise, there will be a price paid. (Source: Defense News)
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