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15 Nov 18. The Pentagon failed its audit, but officials aren’t surprised. The U.S. Department of Defense “failed” its first-ever audit, expected to be released Thursday, according to its No. 2 official. But Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan isn’t surprised at the result, saying it was widely expected the audit would find issues. The audit, concluded through the DoD’s Office of Inspector General, has long been sought by lawmakers and good-government groups.
“We never thought we were going to pass an audit, right? Everyone was betting against us that we wouldn’t even do the audit,” Shanahan told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon.
“Some of the compliance issues are irritating to me because the point of the audit is to drive better discipline in our compliance with our management systems and our procedures,” he added. “Some of those things frustrated me because we have a job to do and just have to follow our procedures.”
Among those issues are what Shanahan called “inventory accuracy,” or issues where the central database at the Pentagon identified inventory that simply wasn’t there in the real world. He also hit on the need to be “better” at cybersecurity compliance and discipline.
The audit officially launched last December, much to the relief of long-annoyed members of Congress.
A 1990 law passed by Congress required audits for all government agencies. But the Pentagon has been the sole holdout, with leadership across several administrations arguing the building is too large and has too many systems that don’t link up, to give any kind of helpful result that would be worth the cost.
However, the Trump administration made auditing the Pentagon one of its early goals. Hiring David Norquist as the department’s chief financial officer and comptroller, a decade after he completed the first-ever audit of the Department of Homeland Security, was seen as a step in the right direction.
Norquist told Defense News in late 2017 that the audit would greatly benefit the department, but not only through financial results — he expected to see new reams of data emerge from the process.
“As you make progress on the audit and get more reliable financial information, there are cool things you can do with data analytics,” Norquist said then. “You use data analytics to analyze databases to find trends and patterns. If it’s reliable, then you can use that to drive a lot of changes.”
Speaking more recently, Norquist added that auditors are looking at cybersecurity flawsin the department’s IT systems.
Asked whether he was concerned about public reaction to the audit failure, Shanahan encouraged the focus to be on the fact that an audit of a $2.7trn organization could even be completed.
“If I’m a taxpayer, what I want to see is: ‘You did the audit, you have all these findings. How long is it going to take for you to fix those?’” he said. “Then show me next year it takes less to audit and you have fewer findings.” (Source: Defense News)
15 Nov 18. Pentagon report on Turkey’s F-35 program delivered to Congress. The U.S. Defense Department has delivered a report to Congress detailing implications of Turkey receiving 100 F-35 fighter jets, five people familiar with the report said, removing a key hurdle to concluding the deal. Turkey’s planned purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system has raised concerns in the West, since it could be used to give Moscow deep insight into the vulnerabilities of the most advanced U.S. warplane at a time of tension between the two powers, experts have said.
Ellen Lord, the Pentagon’s chief arms buyer, told Reuters in an interview that Turkey’s plans to buy the S-400 system were “extremely problematical” and numerous U.S. officials had discussed the issue with Ankara, but there were no signs that Turkey had changed its mind about buying the Russian system.
The United States has for years offered Turkey an alternative missile defense system – the Patriot missile defense system built by Raytheon Co and operated by other NATO allies. However, a sale has proven elusive amid cost and technology transfer issues.
Lord said the report to Congress “just lays out the facts of where we are,” rather than offering firm recommendations, but she declined to provide details.
“We need to work with Congress to decide where we go on that. There will be a strong partnership with Congress, and until we’ve discussed the issue with them…,” Lord told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a NATO industry conference in Berlin earlier this week.
Turkey last month said it was moving ahead with the controversial S-400 procurement and expected to begin installing the surface-to-air missile systems in October 2019. The United States has repeatedly warned Turkey that going through with the purchase of S-400s could result in Washington imposing sanctions and halting other weapons deals, such as the F-35, but Ankara has pressed on with the Russian transaction. Turkey is due to receive its third and fourth jets in March next year. Its pilots are receiving training on the first two aircraft at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The earliest the first aircraft could leave the United States is next summer, although it may take longer than that (Source: Reuters)
14 Nov 18. Price tag of the ‘war on terror’ will top $6trn soon. The price tag of the ongoing “war on terror” in the Middle East will likely top $6trn next year, and will reach $7trn if the conflicts continue into the early 2020s, according to a new report out Wednesday.
The annual Costs of War project report, from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, puts the full taxpayer burden of fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria over the last 17 years at several times higher than official Defense Department estimates, because it includes increases in Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs spending, as well as new military equipment and personnel.
“Because the nation has tended to focus its attention only on direct military spending, we have often discounted the larger budgetary costs of the post-9/11 wars, and therefore underestimated their greater budgetary and economic significance,” the new report states.
Direct military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan make up nearly $1.8trn in costs, but researchers estimate the long-term health care of veterans from those wars could equal or surpass that figure in coming decades. They also charge that the Defense Department’s base budget has grown more than $900bn over the last 17 years because of increased missions, recruiting costs and service member benefits brought on by the conflicts overseas.
“High costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable,” study author Neta Crawford said in the report. “The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.”
She also blasted current U.S. national security policy as “no strategy to end the wars other than more of the same.”
About 23,000 U.S. and NATO forces are currently operating in Afghanistan in a non-combat, training-and-support role. About 14,000 of that group are American troops. More than 4 million veterans in America today served during the Iraq and Afghanistan war era. (Source: Defense News)
14 Nov 18. The Controversial F-35 Lightning Stealth Fighter Is Being Put to the Test Amid Allegations of Falsified Results. Doctored results. False progress reports. The Pentagon isn’t happy with the trillion-dollar F-35 project. Now Australia’s future fighter is about to undergo a crucial test. More than a decade late and innumerable billions over budget, it’s crunch time for the F-35 Lightning II program. Its manufacturers insist it’s ready. Its supporters say none of its remaining problems are insurmountable.
Auditors and the Pentagon are not so sure.
All three versions of the Joint Strike Fighter — the F-35A built for the US Air Force and the RAAF, the F-35B ‘jump jet’ built for the US Marines and UK navy, and the F-35C built for the US Navy — will this month begin a seven-month in-depth assessment. The purpose of the tests [is] to determine if the jets live up to expectations.
But doubts persist: have all of its ‘critical’ flaws been addressed?
And [this] F-35 project is already two months late. The original evaluation start date was September. This was missed due to a late ‘critical’ software update. Now the entire 11-month evaluation program must be squeezed into just nine months. If they make the grade, the F-35’s current ‘low-level’ production runs will be accelerated. The assembly lines will be cranked into high gear to mass-produce the hundreds ordered by the US and its allies, including Australia. The Royal Australian Air Force has taken delivery of nine early-model F-35As. It has committed to purchasing a total of 72.
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The initial operational test and evaluation (IOT & E) process kicks off tonight. The F-35 can’t fail. But a poor showing could further delay the project and add substantially to its overall cost. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/News Corp Australia)
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