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12 Jul 19. House votes to curb Trump’s war powers, challenging Senate to act. The House passed legislation Friday with limits on President Donald Trump’s ability to strike Iran without the consent of Congress, one of several proposed provisions to curb his war powers that were added to the annual defense policy bill.
Among other provisions that attracted progressives but mostly repelled Republicans in the House, the war powers language could get attention in the Senate, where lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have sought to check the president on foreign policy.
The chamber voted along partisan lines, 220-197, to advance the bill that authorizes $733bn for fiscal 2020. That’s $17bn less than the White House and Republicans were seeking.
The additions to the bill reflect House Democrats’ desire to rein in Trump on military matters, notably through a bipartisan amendment to bar the president from offensive action against Iran without Congress’ express authorization. That measure passed 250-170, as 27 Republicans voted with the majority and seven Democrats voted with the minority.
“This is a historic moment for Congress,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, one of the co-sponsors. “Although President Trump campaigned on ending costly wars oversees, his … actions to increase tensions with Iran prove he is far from living up to that promise. With more than 25 Republicans voting in favor of passage, this amendment is proof that opposition to war with Iran transcends partisan politics.”
The measure brought together Khanna, first vice chair of the House Progressive Caucus, and co-sponsor Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., known for his staunch support of the president on Fox News and on Twitter. Their action comes after Trump in June reversed course on a military strike against Iran.
“If [U.S. troops] must deploy the patriotism to go downrange and win this war, we should at least have the courage to vote for it or vote against it — every darn one of us,” Gaetz said Thursday, challenging hawkish lawmakers to request congressional authorization. “Let them make the case to Congress and the American people, and let them show the military families what their loved ones will fight and die for.”
But GOP lawmakers argued the amendment would complicate the commander in chief’s ability to respond to Iranian provocations and bar an immediate response if Iran were to attack Israel, Saudi Arabia or an allied tanker in the Straits of Hormuz. The House Armed Services Committee’s top Republican, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said military commanders told him the language would limit them too much.
“We have a number of ways that are not war but are the legitimate use of force, where the people who have to live under it think this goes too far and presents them from doing what they need to do,” Thornberry said. “This is only good news for Iran.”
The bill comes as the Senate’s Republican majority defeated a similar war authorization measure last month, 50-40, meant to bar Trump from launching a military strike against Iran without Congress’ permission.
An amendment from Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Justin Amash, I-Mich., would repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq. The measure passed with a strong, bipartisan 242-180, as 176 Republicans voted with the majority and four Democrats voted with the minority.
The sponsors argued the AUMF had been stretched far beyond its original intent, while the House Homeland Security Committee’s top Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul, called it “dangerous” and said it would shutter U.S. counterterror operations around the globe.
Another amendment from Khanna would cut off U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition’s military operations against Houthi rebels in Yemen. It passed 240-185, with 12 Republicans and one Independent joining the majority and five Democrats joining the minority.
The chamber already approved a prohibition on the transfer of defense articles or services to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates under the emergency authority of the Arms Export Control Act. Lawmakers have been displeased by Trump’s use of an emergency declaration to bypass Congress and make the sales.
The House also agreed to a one-year prohibition on the sale of air-to-ground munitions used in the conflict in Yemen to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, while providing an exemption for any export or license suspensions that would incur a cost to the U.S. government.
The uptick in congressional action has been fueled by civilian casualties in the Saudi-led air campaign against the Houthis in Yemen as well as the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Western intelligence agencies accuse the Saudi crown prince of ordering the killing of the journalist at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
In the Senate in recent months, Republicans have joined Democrats to pass similar measures, but not enough to override a presidential veto.
In March, the U.S. Senate voted 54-46 to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. In June, the Senate voted 53-45 and 51-45 to block White House plans for $8.1bn in military sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, respectively.
Mostly along party lines, the House passed an amendment from Progressive Caucus co-chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., ordering the Pentagon to provide a broad report on how it would cut its own budget. Opposed by Republicans, it would require options for reducing the nuclear arsenal, service contracts, force structure, overseas presence and weapons system costs.
The House was only willing to go so far on the topic, and another Lee amendment ― to slash $17bn from the operations and maintenance portion of the 2020 war budget ― met a sound bipartisan defeat, 115-307. (Source: Defense News)
13 Jul 19. House Defense Bill Wants DoD Study Of Arctic Port. The House on Friday approved its version of a defense policy bill that like the Senate legislation would require the Defense Department to study and report to Congress the establishment of at least one strategic port in the Arctic but unlike the Senate its measure doesn’t direct the creation of such a port. The provision in the House’s fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) related to the Arctic port says the Secretary of Defense “may designate one or more ports as Department of Defense Strategic Arctic Ports” whereas the Senate bill says the Secretary of Defense “shall designate one or more” Arctic ports.
The House provision was put forth as an amendment by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) that passed by voice vote last Thursday night as part of a bloc of various amendments. The Senate mandate for at least one Arctic port was led by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). Both amendments on the Arctic port highlight that “although much progress has been made to increase awareness of Arctic issues and to promote increased presence in the region, additional measures, including the designation of one or more strategic Arctic ports, are needed to show the commitment of the United States to this emerging strategic chokepoint of future great power competition.”
Differences in the House and Senate NDAA bills must still be resolved in conference between the respective Armed Services Committees. Both bills require DoD within 180 days of enactment of the NDAA to provide Congress with an evaluation on one or more suitable sites for strategic ports in the Arctic. The port must be able to accommodate at least one of each type of specified Navy and Coast Guard vessels, including a DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, a Coast Guard National Security Cutter, and a Coast Guard heavy polar icebreaker. The study must also include the need for related equipment storage and civil infrastructure, aerospace and maritime surface and subsurface warning, maritime domain awareness, homeland defense, disaster relief, and meteorological measurements and forecast.
Young’s amendment requires DoD to report on the potential establishment of an Arctic port within 90 days of the study being submitted. The House also approved an amendment offered by Young requiring DoD to contract with a federally-funded research and development center to independently report on Chinese direct investment in countries in the Arctic region, “with a focus on the effects of such foreign direct investment on United States national security and near-peer competition in the Arctic region.”
Another amendment by Young approved by the House directs the Secretary of the Army to assess cold weather training requirements and develop a plan to increase and expand cold weather training opportunities. (Source: Defense Daily)
12 Jul 19. DOD Releases Report on Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan. Today the Department of Defense provided to Congress the semiannual report “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan” covering events during the period from Dec. 1, 2018, to May 31, 2019. The report was submitted in accordance with requirements in Section 1225 of the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act as amended by Sections 1231 and 1531 of the fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017 NDAA.
The principle goal of the South Asia Strategy is to conclude the war in Afghanistan on terms favorable to Afghanistan and the United States. During this reporting period, the United States and its partners used military force to drive the Taliban towards a durable and inclusive political settlement. There have been some notable developments—the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces emerged from the most hard-fought winter campaign since 2002, the U.S. continues to engage in “fight and talk” approach with the Taliban, and despite atypical levels of violence and heavy losses, ANDSF recruitment and retention outpaced attrition for the first time in several reporting periods.
Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilizad remains engaged in exploratory talks with the Taliban aimed at a settlement that reduces U.S. cost in Afghanistan while safeguarding U.S. counterterrorism interests. Increased military pressure on the Taliban, international calls for peace, and Khalilizad’s engagements appear to be driving the Taliban to negotiations. Any durable peace settlement must include guarantees and mechanisms that protect U.S. counterterrorism interests, a reduction in levels of violence, and an intra-Afghan dialogue that leads to an inclusive political settlement and an understanding that the future development relationship between the international community and the future Afghan government, and a drawdown of foreign forces in Afghanistan.
The ANDSF remain in control of most of Afghanistan’s population centers and all of the provincial capitals, while the Taliban continue control large portions of Afghanistan’s rural areas, and continue to attack poorly defended government checkpoints and rural district centers. Terrorist and insurgent groups continue to challenge Afghan, U.S. and coalition forces.
During the reporting period, the ANDSF increased operational tempo and reduced or consolidated checkpoints. The Afghan Special Security Forces curbed misuse, met growth milestones, and increased the number of independent operations it conducted. Finally, the Afghan government instituted a number of leadership changes that are helping them move the ANDSF towards becoming a more professional force. However the Afghan security forces will continue to require sustained train, advise and assist efforts and financial support to overcome shortfalls. (Source: US DoD)
13 Jul 19. Lawmakers Condemn Turkey’s S-400 Acquisition, Urge Consequences. House and Senate leaders of the armed services and foreign relations committees on July 12 urged swift action to counter Turkey’s acquisition of a Russian-made weapon system that the Defense Department has long said is incompatible with the NATO-operated F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. After months of stating its intent to procure the S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system, Ankara has taken ownership of the system, The Associated Press reported Friday morning. The Pentagon has long said that should Turkey move ahead with the purchase of the S-400, the United States would remove the NATO member state from the F-35 program, of which it is a development partner.
Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said in a Friday statement that the department is “aware of Turkey taking delivery of the S-400” and “our position regarding the F-35 has not changed and I will speak with my Turkish counterpart Minister Akar this afternoon.”
“So there will be more to follow after that conversation,” the statement ended.
A Defense Department official told reporters Friday afternoon that Esper spoke with Turkish Defense Minister Huluci Friday afternoon for 30 minutes. No statement or readout was provided. An on-camera press briefing at the Pentagon on the subject that was originally scheduled for Friday morning has been indefinitely rescheduled.
The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee issued a joint statement Friday afternoon, stating, “By accepting delivery of the S-400 from Russia, President Erdogan has chosen a perilous partnership with Putin at the expense of Turkey’s security, economic prosperity and the integrity of the NATO alliance.”
The members – which include SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.), as well as SFRC Chairman Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) – urged President Trump to implement sanctions as laid out in the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, and called on the Pentagon “to proceed with the termination of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program.”
Former Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sent a letter to Turkish officials in June laying out steps to remove Turkey from the F-35 program by July should the S-400 purchase move forward (Defense Daily, June 7). The Pentagon ceased the delivery of materiel related to the F-35 program to Turkey in April and said it was beginning to look into alternative suppliers for Turkish-made parts. Lockheed Martin [LMT] is the prime contractor for the Joint Strike Fighter.
Lawmakers and the Defense Department had been working to convince Turkey to procure the Raytheon [RTN]-built Patriot air defense system instead of the S-400. “Unfortunately,
President Erdogan rejected multiple attempts by the United States to preserve our strategic relationship while enabling Turkey to defend its airspace with F-35 aircraft and the Patriot air defense system,” the Senate committee leaders said.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-Texas) issued a joint statement Friday afternoon, echoing their Senate colleagues’ call for the U.S. government to end Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program, “and to sanction Turkish individuals doing business with the Russian defense sector, as required by law.”
“Turkey and Erdogan must face stiff consequences for this decision,” they said.
The Pentagon’s Under Secretary for Acquisition and Sustainment, Ellen Lord, told reporters in May that the department was working to minimize any potential delays to the F-35 program that could come from Turkey being ousted as a partner (Defense Daily, May 10).
House and Senate lawmakers each introduced bills in the past few months that would prevent Turkey from receiving the F-35 should they move forward with procuring the S-400 . House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told reporters Friday that he continues to support the administration’s decision to revoke the F-35 from Turkey in the wake of the S-400 deliveries.
“I don’t imagine that [decision] will change … but I think we should work closely with the administration on this to make sure we have the right response,” he said. (Source: Defense Daily)
13 Jul 19. White House Opposes SM-3 IIA Test Change In House NDAA. The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “strongly objects” to a $42m reduction to re-scope a Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA flight test in the House’s FY 2020 defense authorization bill.
The OMB issued a Statement of Administration Policy on July 9 listing its disagreements with the House bill ahead of voting on amendments and the final bill in the chamber. The House passed the authorization bill largely on a party line basis on Friday .
A provision in the bill re-scopes the SM-3 IIA test from testing against an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)-range threat to instead test against an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM).
Last month, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) approved an amendment from Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) that reversed a related change in the bill during the full committee markup. The chairman’s mark of the defense authorization bill originally included a provision that restricted the scheduled test of an SM-3 IIA against an ICBM target by December 2020 to only occur after it first finishes “operationally realistic testing” against medium and intermediate range targets (Defense Daily, June 13).
That provision required the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation to first certify the interceptor has been tested enough to prove effectiveness against the shorter range threats before moving on to ICBM-range tests. Turner’s amendment passed 32-24, with five Democrats in favor, after he argued the change would cost $120m in sunk costs and set back SM-3 IIA testing by two years because the
Missile Defense Agency had already scheduled the ICBM-range test in accordance with direction form the FY 2018 defense authorization act. However, Turner’s amendment did not restore funding to the ICBM-range test. HASC spokeswoman Monica Matoush told Defense Daily in a statement that Turner’s amendment did not restore funding and “the funding table stub entries reflect the intent to rescope the test. Funding would likely need to be restored to execute the flight test as planned in FY ‘20.”
Matoush noted the House’s defense appropriations bill similarly directed a rescope in their funding tables.
A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said its analysis found flight testing to demonstrate SM-3 IIA performance against IRBMs has been reduced by 80 percent. It raised the idea of using delays in construction of the Poland Aegis Ashore missile defense site to conduct additional flight testing before the site is delivered on a delayed basis in FY 2020
The SM-3 IIA and Poland Aegis Ashore site are part of Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense program. The original EPAA Phase 3 plan had five IRBM intercepts in three tests. After delays and flight test issues, the current plan reduced IRBM intercepts and does not include a raid test until after Phase 3 capability is declared.
The GAO said EPAA Phase 3 intends to provide a defense against IRBM and raids of multiple targets, “but tests to demonstrate that capability have been reduced from five to one.”
While the GAO said additional flight testing to demonstrate capability against EPAA Phase 3 threats “is necessary,” the Defense Department only plans to use the Poland site delay for additional round tests and not flight tests.
Raytheon [RTN] builds the various Standard Missile variants, including the SM-3 IIA, while Lockheed martin [LMT] is the prime contractor for the Aegis system. (Source: Defense Daily)
13 Jul 19. House Passes $733bn Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA Largely Along Party Lines. The House passed the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) July 12 along mostly party lines, authorizing a $733bn budget topline that tees up debates between the Senate and House versions of the bill as they enter into conference this summer.
The bill was passed by a vote of 220-197, with eight Democrats crossing the aisle to vote against the bill. No House Republicans supported the bill. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), who left the Republican Party earlier this month and is now an Independent, also voted “no.” Sixteen lawmakers – nine Republicans and seven Democrats – did not vote for the bill.
An amendment that would have cut $17 bn from the bill’s Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds failed by a vote of 115-307. The amendment was sponsored by Democratic California Reps. Ro Khanna and Barbara Lee.
An amendment offered by House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Strategic Forces Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Turner (R-Ohio) that would have removed a provision that prohibits using funds to develop new low-yield ballistic missile warheads was rejected by a vote of 201-221.
A last-minute Motion to Recommit procedural maneuver that would have boosted the spending topline to $740bn was rejected by a vote of 204-212. President Trump vowed July 8 that if the HASC version of the NDAA were put on his desk, he would not sign it. The Senate overwhelmingly passed its version of the NDAA on June 27, which included a $750bn topline for national defense spending.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) expressed optimism to reporters Friday about reaching an agreement with colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) for a conference NDAA bill, though he acknowledged it was “hard to say at this point.”
Smith noted that he met with SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) the previous week and had “a good conversation.”
“I have an enormous amount of respect for Sen. Inhofe. We have worked together for a lot of years, … and we’re on the same page in terms of getting this done,” he said.
Smith declined to say how he would work to retain progressive amendments that passed in the House version of the NDAA, and that are expected to receive little support from the Republican led Senate or the White House.
“We’re going to get it done, and we’re going to try and respect and honor the members’ contributions to the bill as we do that,” he said.
HASC Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) expressed more caution with regard to how the bill will fare in conference. “There is provision after provision that stands no chance in the Senate, much less getting signed into law,” Thornberry said Friday to reporters. “So that worries me.”
Smith lambasted Republicans on the House floor prior to the vote Friday for accusing Democrats of cutting next-generation technology research-and-development funding for areas including hypersonics and the Air Force’s next-generation overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) program for early missile warning satellites.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) criticized the proposed bill in a press conference Thursday evening for having a smaller budget topline for defense than the Senate version, and for including items meant to appeal to progressive Democrats.
“Regardless of the inherent political disagreements between both of our parties, the NDAA has long been considered a sacred process. But that will change this week,” McCarthy said, adding,
“This bill is packed with poison pills to appease this new Socialist-Democrat Party.”
Speaking on the floor Friday morning, McCarthy added: “The NDAA will not and cannot be bipartisan.”
Smith responded that the House Armed Services Committee is the “only committee” in the House that shares staff, emphasizing the bipartisan effort that went into crafting the bill. McCarthy’s comments were “the biggest insult I have ever heard” since he joined Congress in 1997, he added. (Source: Defense Daily)
12 Jul 19. Pentagon races to track U.S. rare earths output amid China trade dispute. The Pentagon is rapidly assessing the United States’ rare earths capability in a race to secure stable supply of the specialized material amid the country’s trade conflict with China, which controls the rare earths industry, according to a government document seen by Reuters.
The push comes weeks after China threatened to curb exports to the United States of rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used to build fighter jets, tanks and a range of consumer electronics.
The Pentagon wants miners to describe plans to develop U.S. rare earths mines and processing facilities, and asked manufacturers to detail their needs for the minerals, according to the document, which is dated June 27.
Responses are required by July 31, a short time frame that underscores the Pentagon’s urgency. The U.S. government’s fiscal year ends in September.
The U.S. Air Force, which is part of the Pentagon and created the document, confirmed the document’s existence. The Pentagon’s headquarters did not respond to a request for comment.
The responses will be reviewed by two government contractors, including Northrop Grumman Corp, which did not respond to requests for comment.
“The government wants to know how much of these minerals we could eventually be producing, and how soon,” said Anthony Marchese, chairman of Texas Mineral Resources Corp, which is working to develop the Round Top rare earth deposit in the state’s western edge.
Several miners, though, declined to comment when asked if they will reply to the Pentagon, a sign of the sensitivity around rare earth mine development during the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute.
The document does not directly promise loans, grants or other financial support to U.S. rare earths projects. But the Pentagon’s request is derived in part from the Defense Production Act (DPA), a 1950s-era U.S. law that gives the Pentagon wide berth to procure equipment necessary for the national defense.
Some type of financial assistance is ultimately expected for the industry after the Pentagon reviews the responses, according to industry analysts and consultants.
Although China contains only a third of the world’s rare earth reserves, it accounts for 80% of U.S. imports of minerals because it controls nearly all of the facilities to process the material, according to U.S. Geological Survey data.
It is unclear how much money the U.S. military will spend to boost America’s rare earths industry as the DPA does not set a financial limit. The June Pentagon letter notes that government investments usually range from $5 million to $20 million per project.
“The overall goal is to secure and assure a viable, domestic supplier (of rare earths) for the long-term,” according to the nine-page document.
The Air Force Research Laboratory, which drafted the request, said it wants information related to U.S. rare earth “shortcomings, risks, and opportunities which may be addressed by investments” by the military.
“There is no guarantee that any submitted topic will” receive military support, Diana Carlin, the Air Force’s executive agent program manager for the DPA program related to procurement, said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
James Litinsky, co-chairman of MP Materials, which owns the Mountain Pass mine in California, said the United States needs “a sustainable supermajor for the Western supply of these minerals.” A supermajor would be a large producer that dominates the global industry.
MP Materials, the only existing U.S. rare earths facility, ships its ore to China for processing and has been subject to a 25% tariff since last month.
Some industry analysts have called for the Pentagon to broaden the scope of its study and commit to direct government funding of rare earth magnet and motor manufacturing, much like China’s government.
“The U.S. government doesn’t have a holistic approach to the entire rare earths supply chain, even now, and that’s a problem,” Jack Lifton, an industry analyst with Technology Metals Research LLC, said in an interview this week.
BILLS IN U.S. SENATE
The Pentagon’s request builds on several executive orders from President Donald Trump on strategic minerals, which he has said are critical for national defense.
Several U.S. senators have sponsored legislation in recent weeks designed to boost domestic production of lithium, rare earths and other strategic minerals. On Thursday, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, introduced a bill that would let rare earths producers form cooperatives, avoiding U.S. antitrust statutes.
None of the bills have passed yet.
The Pentagon has also held talks with rare earths suppliers in Malawi and Burundi, department officials told Reuters last month.
“There’s a heightened sense of urgency on developing a rare earth supply chain in North America,” said Don Lay, chief executive of Medallion Resources Ltd, which earlier this month said it was studying potential sites across North America to develop an extraction plant for rare earths. (Source: Reuters)
11 Jul 19. USFK confirms North Korea’s Hwaseong-15 ICBM can target all of US mainland. United States Forces Korea (USFK) has confirmed North Korean claims that the Northeast Asian country’s Hwaseong-15 (also spelled Hwasong-15) road-mobile, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) can strike targets anywhere in the US mainland.
The weapon, which was test-fired by North Korea on 29 November 2017, has an estimated range of 8,000 miles (12,875 km), meaning that it is “capable of striking any part” of the US mainland, said USFK in its ‘2019 Strategic Digest’, which it published jointly with United Nations Command and Combined Forces Command. For comparison, in its 2018 Defense White Paper the Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) had put the weapon’s range at “more than 10,000km”.
On the day the ICBM was test-launched Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) stated that the Hwaseong-15 had reached an altitude of 4,475 km and flown a linear distance of 950 km before coming down, making it the ballistic missile with the potential for the longest range so far tested by Pyongyang.
However, no information has yet emerged about the size of the payload the Hwaseong-15 was carrying when test-fired, which would ultimately affect its range.
The KCNA has described the Hwaseong-15 as an ICBM “tipped with super-large heavy warhead”, offering “greater advantages in its tactical and technological specifications and technical characteristics than [the] Hwaseong-14 [ICBM]”, which during a 28 July 2017 test-launch reached a reported altitude of 3,724.9 km and flew a linear distance of 998 km before coming down.
As for the Hwaseong-14, which was first test-fired on 4 July 2017, USFK said that the missile could reach “most” of the US mainland, given its estimated range of 6,250 miles. The Japanese MoD had put the range of this weapon at “more than 5,500km”.(Source: IHS Jane’s)
09 Jul 19. Four companies awarded $72.8m for special projects for Navy. DHS, CBP Deloitte, Serco, McKean Defense and Alutiiq all received contracts for work on unnamed special projects for experimental, demonstration and developmental technologies for the agencies. Four companies have been awarded contracts worth $72.8m for unspecified special projects and electronic systems for the U.S. Navy, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and other government agencies. The three-year contracts include two two-year option periods, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of all four contracts to an estimated $176.4m, the Department of Defense announced Monday. Awarded contracts were Deloitte Consulting for $21.7m, Serco Inc. for $18.2m, McKean Defense Group for $17.6m and Alutiiq Information Management for $15.3m in the execution of sustainment and technical support for special projects and electronic systems for experimental, demonstration and developmental technology.
The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Pacific Special Projects and Electronics Systems Branch last June posted a proposal for management, hardware engineering, software engineering, configuration management and logistics support that includes experimental, demonstration and developmental technology for the U.S. Navy, Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and other government activities. Among the Naval units involved with the developmental efforts are the Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command Program Executive Offices, Commander Third Fleet, Sea Systems Command and Facilities Command, in addition to non-Navy units.
All four companies will compete for task orders under the contracts, which run through July 7, 2022. If all contract options are exercised, the period of performance extends through July 7, 2026. All work under the contracts will be performed in San Diego.
The U.S. Navy in June removed “space” from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, or SPAWARS, and added “information” in a rebranding effort that emphasizes information warfare. The agency’s new name is the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command.
This past February, the two echelon III commands — formerly “systems centers” — also changed names. In Charleston, S.C., the command became the Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic and in San Diego it was changed to Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/UPI)
09 Jul 19. Without additional $157m, US Army aviation readiness projected to suffer. Without an additional $157m, U.S. Army aviation readiness could suffer, according to an omnibus reprogramming request sent to Capitol Hill on June 25.The Army is asking congressional defense committees to approve the injection of $157m into Army aviation readiness drawn from other fiscal 2019 accounts to fill a funding gap.
“Funds are required to support Army flight training, which includes rotary wing flight instructor support, repair parts, fuel, simulations, and maintenance of Army flight training aircraft,” the document states.
Because the Army retired its TH-67 training helicopters and replaced them with Airbus-manufactured LUH-72 Lakota light utility helicopters as the official entry-level rotary-wing training aircraft and also due to a re-solicitation of the maintenance contract, the service incurred “unexpected” one-time costs and “created a shortfall in the Army flight training program,” the document reads.
The Army warns in its request that without the additional funding, the level of aviation readiness will decline and the service will be unable to produce a sufficient number of pilots to man its combat aviation brigades.
The absence of sufficient funding will also affect the graduate pilot course, which would result in the Army’s inability to train pilots in the future, the request states.
The Army’s transition from TH-67s to the Lakota has been a bumpy road; mainly roughened up by an ugly legal battle over the service’s decision to sole source Lakotas for the fleet rather than hold a competition to replace the legacy aircraft. The decision to retire the TH-67 trainers were part of a larger initiative to restructure Army aviation. That restructuring included the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed scout helicopter, replacing it with AH-64 Apache attack helicopters paired with Shadow unmanned aircraft systems already in the fleet, particularly from the Army National Guard.
Because the service was unable to purchase Lakotas at the planned pace due a stop-work order while issues were hashed out in court, the Army had to keep some legacy trainer helicopters in its fleet longer, which generated extra costs in simultaneously maintaining two different aircraft and because spare parts for the TH-67s were dwindling.
When the Army decided to adopt the Lakota as its initial-entry rotary-wing trainer, critics claimed the dual-engine, glass-cockpit aircraft would be too complicated for beginner pilots and argued the cost would be exponentially more to maintain and fuel the new fleet.
The possibility of degraded helicopter pilot readiness in the Army comes at a time when all of the services are struggling with record-high aviation mishaps.
In 2018, Military Times and Defense News reported that manned aviation accidents across the services had spiked almost 40 percent over the past five years, killing 133 service members since 2013.
That reporting triggered Congress to order a closer look at the root causes of the accidents and established a national commission to investigate the state of military aviation safety.
At the time Defense News reviewed the data in 2018, the Army had rare good news, showing it was holding steady in the number of yearly aviation accidents from 2013 to 2017, while the rest of the military services’ mishaps were climbing. In terms of manned accidents, the Army’s mishaps actually fell slightly. The Army partly credited its better track record to more frequent and effective training. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
08 Jul 19. Congress returns to budget stalemate. Lawmakers returning to Washington, D.C., this week are in a race against the clock to reach a budget deal to ease statutory spending caps and avoid a government shutdown starting Oct. 1. While the Democratic-led House has passed 10 of its 12 appropriations bills, Senate appropriators have not yet scheduled a markup on any of theirs. Meanwhile, White House officials have floated the idea of a one-year stopgap funding bill, which would freeze the 2020 federal budget at the 2019 level. Both chambers of Congress are only in session three more weeks before the August recess.
Talks have dragged on between congressional leaders and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and acting Budget Director Russ Vought. Vought has reportedly indicated the White House is leaning toward a continuing resolution instead of a broader deal.
But that’s a no-go with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who told reporters before the July 4 recess it would be “unacceptable … from a defense point of view,” as would the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.
The president’s request was for $750bn for national defense, and the House-passed bill contained $733bn. However, a “clean” CR would provide $716bn. However, since the budget cap for defense is $576bn for 2020, the CR would violate the budget caps by approximately $71bn and trigger a sequester of that amount in January 2020.
Amid divisions within the Democratic caucus, House leaders did not take up spending bills for the legislative branch and for Homeland Security, which was at the heart of last year’s 35-day government shutdown.
Following opposition from left-leaning Democrats turned off by military spending increases, House Democrats scuttled a non-binding budget resolution in April that would have supported increasing military and domestic spending by more than $350bn over the next two years. They instead “deemed” the House’s budget numbers.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had floated a similar move for the GOP-controlled Senate, but McConnell shot that down last month, telling reporters the goal should be an agreement between the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to find the top-line numbers.
Asked Monday whether there had been progress, Shelby said, “I thought we were close two weeks ago … but there hasn’t been any movement yet.
“This is high time for a serious conversation, the sooner the better, between the [House] speaker and the secretary of the Treasury,” Shelby said, adding: “I’ve said I thought we could deem the numbers. [McConnell] wants to do something that’s more certain. That’s what I’d prefer to do.”
Beyond McConnell, defense hawks are making their voices heard in opposition to the idea of a long-term CR. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe and SASC Seapower Subcommittee Chairman David Perdue, R-Ga., along with 14 other Senate Republicans, wrote to White House budget negotiators in opposition.
“Simply put, our adversaries do not handcuff their militaries with funding gimmicks like continuing resolutions — nor should we,” the letter reads, adding a yearlong CR would create “draconian conditions” for the military.
The lawmakers said a year-long CR would derail implementation of the National Defense Strategy, derail a pay raise for troops and erode both readiness and lethality.
“Military training and equipment would all be significantly reduced, resulting in a less lethal fighting force,” the letter reads. “Additionally, our military depots would be prevented from hiring and retaining the highly trained workforce necessary to maintain our existing vehicles, tanks, ships, and aircraft.”
On Monday, Perdue said he would like to see Shelby and his counterpart, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., quickly find agreement bills for the Pentagon and the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, which would demonstrate bipartisan support for 70 percent of the overall budget. (Arriving back in town after the recess, he may not have known McConnell had rejected that plan.)
“If we get agreement on the dollar amounts between Labor-HHS and defense ― and we’re right there according to Leahy and Shelby ― I think that shows we can get bipartisan support to get this done, if you cut out the partisan politics,” Perdue said. “I think we can get those bill done, and if we don’t get them done, I don’t know how we go home in August.”
Pentagon leaders have spent months saying the best outcome would be a budget deal that avoids both sequestration and a year-long CR.
At a hearing in May, former Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said sequestration would force cuts to military end strength and modernization ― particularly in emerging areas like artificial intelligence and hypersonic weapons.
“A continuing resolution would hamstring the department. Under a CR we cannot start new initiatives including increased investments and cyber, space, nuclear modernization and missile defense,” Shanahan said. “Second, our funding will be in the wrong accounts and third, we would lose buying power.”
At a hearing in April, then-Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said the service would take a $29bn cut she presented in terms of cuts to aviation platforms.
“That would be no F-35s, cut all of the KC-46s, stop the B-21 program, no ground-based strategic deterrent, no research, development, test and evaluation for any space system, most of the fourth- and fifth-generation [fighter jet] modifications, and all of science and technology,” she said.
“Or, $29bn means all of weapons systems sustainment, all flying hours, all base operations and airfield support, and all munitions, together, make $29bn.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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