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09 Nov 18. Pentagon chief management officer resigns, after weeks of speculation. After weeks of expectations that the Pentagon’s No. 3 official would be leaving the building, he has officially resigned. Jay Gibson, the department’s first chief management officer, submitted his resignation this week, with an effective end date of Nov. 30. Come December, Lisa Hershman, the deputy CMO, will assume those responsibilities as the acting CMO until a replacement nominee can be confirmed.
“Mr. Gibson’s groundbreaking work as the first-ever DoD Chief Management Officer set conditions for the department’s reform initiatives,” Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. “His efforts to streamline processes, establish the department’s Reform Management Group, and identify significant savings across the department will pay dividends in FY19.”
“Our commitment to bringing business reform to the department remains unwavering and will result in the increased lethality of our force,” Buccino added. “We appreciate his service to the Department and wish him continued success.”
That statement doesn’t touch on the reality of the situation — that Gibson was forced out of his position after less than nine months on the job, due to what has been described as underperformance after being specifically told to find cash savings inside the building that could be plowed back into military needs. In early September, the Wall Street Journal reported that Gibson had been effectively fired from the position for a lack of performance. Sources around the Pentagon confirmed that situation to Defense News, and indicated the official announcement would come just days later. Since then, sources say, Gibson was iced out of the building while the process worked itself out. (Source: Defense News)
08 Nov 18. U.S. arms exports up 13 percent over 2017 as Trump champions deals. U.S. arms sales to foreign governments rose 13 percent to $192.3bn in the year ending Sept. 30, the State Department said on Thursday, a result of looser restrictions on sales coupled with high-level efforts to close deals. President Donald Trump wants to make the United States, already dominant in the global weapons trade, an even bigger arms merchant to the world, U.S. officials have said, despite concerns among human rights and arms control advocates. The largest U.S. arms contractors, who sell ships, tanks, airplanes, missiles and other goods to foreign militaries, include Boeing Co (BA.N), Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), Raytheon Co (RTN.N), General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) and Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N). The increase came in part because the Trump administration rolled out a new “Buy American” plan in April that relaxed restrictions on sales while encouraging U.S. officials to take a bigger role in increasing business overseas for the U.S. weapons industry.
There are two major ways foreign governments purchase arms from U.S. companies: direct commercial sales, negotiated between a government and a company; and foreign military sales, in which a foreign government works with the Pentagon on a potential deal. Both require approval by the U.S. government.
Commercial sales of U.S. military equipment to foreign governments rose 6.6 percent from $128.1bn to $136.6bn in the fiscal year, the State Department said. In October, the government said U.S. foreign military sales rose 33 percent to $55.6bn in the fiscal year. Combined, the total is a 13 percent year-on-year increase in weapons exports. (Source: Reuters)
08 Nov 18. Here’s how the Trump administration plans to increase American weapon sales abroad. As part of a broader push from the Trump administration to sell more weapons abroad, the U.S. State Department is planning to increase the size of its staff who handles arms transfers, roll out new changes to its International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, restricted list and create new methods of financing foreign arms procurement, among other changes. In July, the State Department announced it was implementing the new Conventional Arms Transfer policy, or CAT, per direction from the Trump administration. The announcement was criticized by some in industry as not having much in the way of detail attached. On Thursday, the department released a fact sheet about the CAT implementation plan, with a State Department official, talking on background ahead of the public release, acknowledging to Defense News the federal agency needed to share more information with the public.
“We wanted to release a public version of the CAT [implementation plan] to show to industry, show to the public all the work we’ve been doing,” the official said. “We’ve been a little hampered in showing our work and we want this to ultimately be an iterative process with industry, so we can show our work and get additional feedback.”
The short fact sheet lays out three, overarching lines of effort: prioritize strategic and economic competition, organize for success and create conducive environments. Under each of those headings are a number of smaller action items. The official said there has been significant work done in each of those areas.
When asked to point to a few key changes coming in the near term, the official highlighted three aspects.
First, the department plans to push for updates to the ITAR restricted list, while continuing to move items from the ITAR and U.S. munitions list into the realm of the Commerce Department, allowing quicker sales through the Direct Commercial Sales process. Several of those changes will be released for public comment “soon,” the official said.
The department is also in the process of staffing up the number of people it has working foreign weapon sales issues, in an attempt to address a regular complaint from industry that the department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs needs more bodies to throw at the issue. The official said that about five months ago, new jobs began to be added to the bureau, with the goal of having around two dozen new positions in place in the near future.
Meanwhile, the bureau is looking at “creative” financing options for foreign weapon sales, the official said. Proponents of the new CAT policy have argued that other governments — both competitors and allies — support their defense-industrial bases more directly than America traditionally has, whether through top leadership directly advocating for sales or economic policies that give homegrown weapons a boost abroad.
The official said it was “too early to say” if new funding streams to support weapon sales would be in the department’s FY20 budget request.
More broadly, the department is looking at “specific capabilities and specific sets of countries” that it wants to prioritize based on the National Security Strategy, the official noted. In doing so, the State Department and the Pentagon can identify which countries may need extra focus to be able to speed systems along, with the goal being to make sure key allies get the capabilities they need as opposed to a first-come, first-serve mentality.
Eric Fanning, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, said the details released Thursday “include significant and important steps toward bringing more transparency, efficiency and predictability to the defense trade system,” adding that “U.S. industry looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with the government on a modern defense trade system that supports America and our partners and allies as we face the threats of the 21st century.” (Source: Defense News)
08 Nov 18. US defense industry pushes back on White House’s proposed $33bn budget cut. The American defense industry is warning that defense cuts proposed by the Trump administration could undermine the Pentagon’s efforts to modernize the military and address threats from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and transnational terrorism. The Aerospace Industries Association, with the weight of the country’s large and small defense firms behind it, issued a statement Thursday warning President Donald Trump and Congress “to provide steady and stable growth in defense spending in the fiscal year 2020 budget request and beyond” if they want to be able to meet those threats.
The message comes as Democrats — expected to prioritize domestic spending and question record defense increases — won the House this week, and after White House budget director Mick Mulvaney ordered the Pentagon to prepare for a $700bn national defense budget proposal for fiscal 2020. (For comparison’s sake, the Pentagon is also continuing to prep the $733bn budget it was expecting.)
AIA argued in its statement that the last two years of budget growth have helped the Department of Defense and industry turn things around after years of war and budget instability, but not entirely.
“As a result, military readiness is improving, and our industry is responding with more innovation and advanced capabilities,” the statement reads. “But the shortfalls of the last decade cannot be erased in the space of two years, and now the Administration has announced potential reductions in defense investment that could undermine the improvements that are just now materializing.”
Last year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testified that the Pentagon needed 3 to 5 percent annual growth above inflation through 2023 to stay ahead of near-peer adversaries Russia and China. Congress responded with a $700bn national defense budget for 2018 and $716bn for 2019 — but also a $1trn tax cut that’s grown the national deficit.
National security adviser John Bolton said publicly, days before Tuesday’s election, that the national debt is “an existential threat to society” and that Pentagon spending will have to “flatten out” in the near term.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan had signaled in recent weeks that modernization programs like hypersonic weapons systems would take a hit if the budget falls. “It comes down to a judgment call, how fast do we modernize? And that’s probably the biggest knob that we have to turn,” he said.
Along similar lines, AIA argued that to achieve the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy — which “requires armed forces that are large and capable enough to meet multiple threats in multiple environments” — “we must continue to invest in the most effective technology and weapons we can provide.”
“America’s competitors and adversaries have made huge strides in their offensive and defensive capabilities, from submarines to cyberspace, and continue to develop advanced technology and sophisticated operational concepts,” the statement warns.
Though it’s unclear how sensitive the administration will be to this call, it has been vocal about its focus on the defense-industrial base in concert with Trump’s emphasis on the American economy. A Trump-ordered study found roughly 300 gaps and vulnerabilities across America’s network of defense suppliers; Pentagon officials are hopeful a third of those issues will be addressed in the next year.
Whatever the administration does with its budget submission, it will be up to the new Congress to tweak it. Following the midterm elections, analysts have predicted lawmakers in next year’s divided government will overcome gridlock to reach a budget deal that maintains flat defense spending. (Source: Defense News)
08 Nov 18. State Dept. Issues Update on Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy Implementation Plan. The U.S. Department of State has posted on its website a Fact Sheet providing an update on the Trump Administration’s Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy Implementation Plan. In July the Secretary of State submitted to the President the Implementation Plan requested as part of the Conventional Arms Transfer (CAT) Policy (NSPM-10). This plan supports the U.S. National Security Strategy through a whole-of-government approach to better align U.S. conventional arms transfers with U.S. national security and economic interests. In developing the CAT Policy Implementation Plan, and to ensure that it is fully integrated the real-world challenges the United States faces, the Administration collected inputs from Congress, American industry, and the non-governmental community. The Plan accounts for the increasingly competitive environment described in the National Security Strategy, and seeks to modernize the U.S. Government’s policies and processes regarding arms transfers. It establishes three Lines of Effort (LOE) to implement our CAT Policy goals. Each LOE is supported by a number of tasks that will be undertaken by the relevant U.S. Government agencies. (Source: glstrade.com)
07 Nov 18. Election to shake up House and Senate armed services committees. Beyond GOP House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry handing the gavel to the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith, expect a major reshuffling in middle management on the panel and on its Senate counterpart. Where Thornberry, R-Texas, has been a staunch advocate of defense spending increases, Smith has been a critic, particularly on nuclear weapons, who’s promised stricter oversight of overseas military operations. Tuesday’s Democratic victory in the House means leadership swaps will be happening in dozens of the chamber’s committees and subcommittees. Within the HASC, chairmanships of the Tactical Air & Land and Readiness sub-panels are up for grabs. TAL’s ranking member, Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., is retiring, while Readiness ranking member Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, lost to a primary challenger.
It’s to be determined which Democrats will move up the ranks into those spots and who will take the spots those ascending lawmakers vacate, as panel leadership typically makes those announcements in December or in January, when the new Congress is seated. Familiar leaders like TAL Chairman Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, are expected to become the sub-panel’s ranking members. Likewise Readiness chairman Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C.; Strategic Forces chairman Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Seapower chairman Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va. Who fills the shoes of Tsongas and Bordallo will be important for the portfolios they manage—but also as the Pentagon addresses a spate of aviation mishaps and pushes to fix aircraft mission-capable rates. As roughly a dozen lawmakers from both parties who are departing the HASC, turnover on the committee will be amplified as members opt to leave for other committees, as is typical in a new Congress, and as the Democrats gain new seats on the panel.
Republicans will have to determine who will be their ranking member on the Military Personnel Subcommittee. Its chairman, Colorado Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, lost in a district Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won in 2016. On the Senate side, Democrats are expected to jockey for leadership positions with the departure of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill and Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee. As of Wednesday, it was unclear whether Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the SASC’s No. 2 Democrat and chairman of its cyber subcommittee, will keep his seat. Some 30,000 votes appear to separate the three-term incumbent from his GOP opponent, Gov. Rick Scott—and Nelson has asked for a recount. Beyond Sen. Jon Kyl — who is expected to fill the late John McCain’s U.S. Senate seat only until January — there may be other arrivals and departures with the routine reshuffling between committees that’s typical in a new Congress. (Source: glstrade.com/Defense News)
07 Nov 18. Navy Submarines Could Soon Gain a Massive Advantage Over Russian or Chinese Subs. The emergence of this technology, which is still likely several years away from operational use, is entirely consistent with the Navy’s undersea drone strategy. Undersea drones are increasingly critical countering emerging high-tech surface and sub-surface threats such as quieter, more advanced submarine technology and weapons being developed by potential adversaries. The Pentagon’s research entity and BAE Systems are working together to develop a next-generation undersea drone communications technology to help identify mines, find enemy submarines and surveil many items relevant to combat missions. The Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation (POSYDON) is able to quickly relay location coordinates from undersea drones on patrol to command and control systems on board a ship or submarine. The program, underway now for several years, is a collaborative enterprise between industry and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
POSYDON provides “omnipresent, robust positioning across ocean basins. By ranging to a small number of long-range acoustic sources, an undersea platform would be able to obtain continuous, accurate positioning without surfacing for a GPS fix,” DARPA developers explained. While experts say there are some very low-frequency radios that can transmit some kind of signal undersea, submarines need to surface in order to achieve a strong radio frequency (RF) or GPS signal for on-the-spot data and communications.
“You can receive GPS at very shallow depths, but that is not relevant to where we operate. POSYDON brings a ‘GPS-like’ capability to submerged users,” said Lin Haas, program manager for the DARPA Strategic Technology Office, in a DARPA podcast released last year.
Military scientists and technology developers refer to the effort to establish connectivity in a “GPS-denied” environment as acquiring “precision, navigation and timing.”
However, the scientific challenges of bringing seamless connectivity undersea, similar to the way GPS functions on the surface, are substantial, Haas explained.
GPS signals work with algorithms able to compute the distance of an object by knowing the constant or “fixed” speed of light and the time of travel. If the length of travel is identified, along with the speed of a signal, then algorithms can quickly determine a precise distance, therefore identifying an object. For example, an electromagnetic signal used by a radar system — or laser from a weapon’s laser rangefinder — would use the known speed of light, and time of travel, to quickly identify the location, shape or speed of an object. However, with acoustic signals undersea, determining distance is much more complex, Haas explained.
“For GPS the speed of light is constant. That is not the case for underwater speed of sound. Underwater signals are a function of many things, primarily temperature and salinity. We have developed models that account for all these acoustic signals underwater. Underwater signals don’t travel in a single line,” Haas said.
As a result, there is no linear transmission from transmitter to receiver with acoustic signals.
“Acoustic signals will take many paths; the signal is refracted through temperature and pressure profiles. Algorithms can improve current models and develop new modes,” Haas added.
Therefore, underwater drones can use acoustic waves to relay real-time info back to submarines.
DARPA officials say BAE Systems, Raytheon BBN and Draper Laboratory are all working on the POSYDON program.
“GPS signals bounce off ocean surfaces and cannot penetrate seawater. The importance of POSYDON is to make sure that these UUVs [unmanned underwater vehicles] can really focus on their missions without having to periodically come to the surface for GPS to figure out exactly where they are,” Geoff Edelson, director of Maritime Systems and Technology at BAE Systems, told Warrior in an interview last year. ”
Phase I of the program focuses on accurately modeling the signal propagation channel, and Phase II focuses on developing the signal waveform. A complete positioning system is scheduled to be demonstrated in Phase III. The technology relies upon a kind of “triangulation,” Edelson explained. A GPS signal emerging from a satellite is sent to a surface node — which then uses acoustic waves to connect with and locate an undersea drone.
“Many signals do not propagate under the sea. Light cannot travel very far and RF signals do not really propagate under the sea. With POSYDON, a GPS signal is replaced by low-frequency acoustic signals,” Edelson said.
The POSYDON effort is progressing through Phase I of a three-phased effort; Phase I involves modeling signal propagation channels, Phase II is intended to develop a single waveform and Phase III is aimed at building a complete prototype positioning system, according to DARPA.
“Right now we are analyzing data to ensure the concept has merit. We are going ‘point to point’ from a source to one or two receivers,” Edelson said. (Source: News Now/nationalinterest.org
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