Sponsored by Exensor
06 Dec 19. Here are five ambitious steps to grow the defense innovation base and challenge China. If the U.S. military intends to technologically keep pace with China, now is the time to invest in the long-term health of the defense industrial base, including creating a new national guard-esque unit for technology and adding a special visa program, a new report warns.
Put out ahead of the Reagan National Defense Forum, the new report by the Reagan Foundation found that the U.S. national security innovation base (NSIB) suffers from a lack of direction from the federal government, a loss of talent to other nations, an aging workforce and a lack of innovative incentives, all of which gives a centrally coordinated Chinese defense industrial base a likely edge in the future.
“Competition with China need not lead to warfare or even to a policy of containment like the framework that characterized the U.S.–Soviet relationship during the Cold War. Nevertheless, it is a competition, and the side that innovates more effectively over time is likely to win,” the authors write in the report.
“The result will determine whether nations relate to each other freely, equally, and peacefully, with a recognition of the human rights of their citizens or if they devolve into a system that legitimizes authoritarianism and rewards power and coercion.”
The bipartisan task force is led by co-chairs Jim Talent, a former Republican U.S. senator, and Bob Work, who last served as deputy secretary of defense. It includes four sitting members of Congress — Republicans Jim Banks of Indiana and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, as well as Democrats Andy Kim of New Jersey and Stephanie Murphy of Florida — the CEO of Textron Systems, and a group of former U.S. officials. Speaking to reporters Thursday, Reagan Institute head Roger Zakheim said his organization will spend the next year trying to “move the ball” on as many of the key recommendations as possible.
“Our government is not organized around the national industrial base. The government is not organized around it so it can’t do the things the government is responsible to do, which is enable, develop, guide and safeguard,” Zakheim said. “So it’s pretty critical, whether they adopt our recommendations or another framework, the government needs to be organized around the innovation base.”
To do that, the task force lays out five key recommendations:
- The creation of a new interagency body, tentatively called the “National Security Innovation Committee,” that would be tasked with closely monitoring and guiding the health of the industrial base. The task force also spells out that this committee should “be responsible for coordinating and submitting a unified budget analysis to Congress each year to evaluate all of the activities” in the U.S. government that relates to the NSIB. Doing so would maintain a rolling look at how the government is doing on coordination. The Pentagon would be the lead agency in this committee.
- Creating a national “STEM Corps,” which would provide free university tuition in national-security-relevant fields in exchange for a commitment to spend several years working within the national security industrial base in some capacity. It would be modeled on ROTC or the National Guard, with both an active and reserve component. The “active” component of the STEM Corps would include graduates through the program who would work full-time in designated government and DoD billets. The “reserve” component would work two days each month, and 14 days each summer, with government agencies or Pentagon offices.
- A National Security Innovation Base Visa, which would encourage highly vetted, highly skilled workers from abroad to contribute to national security projects. This issue is one that has been identified by experts as a major issue for America’s defense innovation going forward; the U.S. has long relied on STEM expertise from allies and partners, and tech companies coveted by defense leaders soften have international staffs. Zakheim acknowledged this might be the toughest step to take, noting that “You can put the words ‘national security innovation’ and everyone will be for it, then you add the word ‘visa’ and people withdraw.” But he said not helping individuals from allied nations to stay and work on key U.S. problems just leads to “brain drain” that hurts American national interests. Given the need for Congress to create such a visa program, Zakheim noted that there are four members of Congress from the task force who represent a beachhead on the hill for the concept.
- That visa program would go hand in hand with setting up a more formal international framework for national security industrial efforts, in order to utilize capabilities being produced by close allies. Zakheim thinks this opportunity could be set up “fairly quickly,” in part due to work in previous national defense authorization bills that expanded the definition of the National Technology and Industrial Base to include Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. “It’s just about getting the senior officials to engage on that with their counterparts, because I think there would be a lot of willingness and interest on the part of allies and friends” to expand industrial cooperation, Zakheim said.
- And of course it would not be a defense report in 2019 without recommendations for a broad array of Pentagon business reforms, with the target of creating a more “risk-positive” development mindset in the NSIB. The department is already undergoing a series of reform efforts, and acquisition head Ellen Lord has talked repeatedly about trying to retrain the work force to no longer fear innovative failures.
“There’s a sense of urgency around all of this,” Zakheim said, adding that the task force recommendations largely add up to “taking advantage of our competitive advantage” as a nation.
Many of the ideas in the task force report mirror those of the congressionally mandated National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence — which is also co-chaired by Work, the former deputy secretary of defense. That may be a sign that there is growing consensus around the innovation-minded community, which could help drive progress forward.
China does have its own weaknesses in the system, the authors note, especially with a lack of demonstrated ability to carry a new technology from inception to implementation the way the U.S. has as well as growing structural problems inside the Asian giant.
“Ultimately, the Chinese system may have the seeds for its own downfall: corruption remains a major problem; the private sector is becoming increasingly politicized; and the culture of state-owned enterprises, which dominate its defense sector, is vastly different from the culture of its more entrepreneurial companies,” the task force writes.
But America can “ill afford to assume this will always be the case,” and ultimately it is best to focus on improving the U.S. national security apparatus rather than hope China stumbles over every potential landmine in its way. (Source: Defense News)
05 Dec 19. US Navy Still Mulling Post-F-35C Aviation Combatant; Could be Mix of Manned, Unmanned Aircraft. The Navy is unclear how it will proceed with its next generation of aviation combatants following the introduction of the F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter into the carrier air wing, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
After years of churn, the service is in the midst of a wide-ranging evaluation of its fleet design and future capabilities that will shape the service’s force structure. The evaluation pays particular attention to unmanned systems, unlike previous efforts. In particular, the Navy doubled down on investment for unmanned surface vehicles as part of the its Fiscal Year 2020 budget submission.
However, the Navy has lagged in development of a next-generation, carrier-based combatant since it abandoned a planned unmanned, low-observable strike aircraft program in favor of the simpler MQ-25A Stingray unarmed tanker.
Over the last 10 years, the Navy has moved from an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet replacement, or F/A-XX, to a “family of systems” approach under the banner of the Next Generation Air Dominance program in 2016.
Gilday indicated the Navy is still working on the question of what the next combatant after F-35 will be, or even if it will be launched from an aircraft carrier.
“I do think we need an aviation combatant, but what the aviation combatant of the future looks like? I don’t know yet. I think there’s going to be a requirement to continue to deliver a seaborne launched vehicle through the air that’ll deliver an effect downrange,” Gilday said at U.S. Naval Institute’s Defense Forum Washington conference.
“I do think that that will likely be a mix of manned and unmanned. The platform which they launch from? I’m not sure what that’s going to look like.”
His comments come as the Navy’s carrier fleet is under increased scrutiny from Congress and the White House for the cost of the programs.
The service, in particular, has been questioned for not developing a longer-range air wing to keep up with the increased range of Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles that put the multi-billion capital ships at risk.
Earlier this year, a report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said in order for a future carrier air wing to be effective in a major conflict with China, it would need to field a combatant that could fly sustained combat air patrols up to 1,000 nautical miles from the carrier. That’s 400 nautical miles beyond the effective combat radius of the F-35C and 500 nautical miles more than a current F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
The March report, Regaining the High Ground at Sea: Transforming the U.S. Navy’s Carrier Air Wing for Great Power Competition, called for an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) to keep the carrier effective in major combat operations.
At the time, the CSBA report reflected internal Navy thinking on the future of its air wing, USNI News understood. However, it’s unclear how changes to the air wing will be incorporated into the service’s new fleet architecture. (Source: glstrade.com/USNI)
04 Dec 19. Defense company owners could see more scrutiny. The Defense Department must dig deeper into who owns the companies that sell DOD goods and services, as dishonest contractors skulk behind a façade of bogus company names and arrangements, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.
Defense contractors sometimes have “opaque ownership” that can hide who is actually bidding on Pentagon contracts, according to the report.
Scams using shifty or shady ownerships take many forms, the report found, including price inflation funneled through multiple companies owned by the same entity, fake competitive bids from ineligible companies, rustling service-disabled veterans’ and small business set-aside contracts with bogus qualifications and foreign manufacturers wielding sensitive information delivering faulty equipment into DOD supply chains.
The report said although the DOD made an earnest effort in 2014 to protect its supply chain with changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulation, those changes didn’t go far enough when it comes to verifying contracting firms’ ownership.
Tracking U.S. military contractors is an enormous task, according to GAO. DOD is the largest contracting agency in the federal government, accounting for about two-thirds of all federal contracting activity, it said. In fiscal year 2018, DOD contracted for over $350bn in goods and services, awarding over 570,000 new contracts to almost 40,000 contractors, GAO said.
The ownership identity gap is an insidious and shifting danger, the report warned. For instance, the study noted that in one case, it led to a foreign manufacturer illegally exporting sensitive military data for almost 50 F-15 fighter aircraft to a company based in another country and delivering “defective and nonconforming parts” in return. In its report, GAO said it reviewed 32 cases it resolved between 2012 and 2018, examining public court and Department of Justice records, as well as DOD press releases to distinguish the type of fraud and how contractors cloaked or disguised their company’s ownership to rip off the agency.
The value of the aircraft contact wasn’t disclosed in court records, GAO said, but its list of settled court cases included other contracts with awards ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to one worth over $200m. In that case, it said three contractors masqueraded as “service disabled veteran-owned” and “economically disadvantaged” companies.
GAO recommended DOD’s Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) include contractor ownership as part of its ongoing work in departmentwide fraud risk assessment. DOD concurred with the recommendation and was moving ahead with implementation efforts, GAO said. (Source: Defense Systems)
02 Dec 19. SASC chairman: We must build the national security innovation base our defense strategy requires. Since World War II, the American people have believed our military has had the best of everything, but the technological superiority that kept us 20 years ahead of our competitors has rapidly diminished. In some cases, we’re already behind. By 2030, unless we pursue “urgent change at significant scale,” as former Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis put it, it’s likely the U.S. will face an enemy with superior weapons, superior equipment and superior capabilities.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in our strategic competition with China. China used to just steal our technology. Now, through heavy investment, they are improving it. The result? China is outpacing the U.S. in key areas like hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence and biotechnologies — not to mention conventional capabilities.
China isn’t the only one. Technological development is accelerating across the globe, expanding to more actors and changing the very nature of war.
We can’t afford to let our advantage erode further. It is up to the Department of Defense and Congress to make sure that the defense-industrial base becomes, as the National Defense Strategy demands, an “unmatched 21st century National Security Innovation Base.” If we want to “sustain security and solvency,” we need to consider wholesale change to industry culture and its interface with the Department of Defense, shed outdated management processes, and reimagine a resilient supply chain that mitigates 21st century risks.
This essay is part of the Defense News 2020 Outlook project. Click here for more.
This begins with software, which is foundational to military capability. The DoD and its traditional hardware-dominant industry partners have been behind on software in almost every way — talent, tools, development and delivery processes. Software innovation has failed in countless DoD programs, including the Ford-class carrier, the F-35′s Autonomic Logistics Information System and the GPS next-generation operational control system. Instead of taking the Pentagon for granted as an endless source of cash flow, partners must refocus their attention on delivering secure capability that actually works.
Next, the Department of Defense needs to continue to expand capacity — prioritizing speed of delivery and adapting its systems to maximize value and output. For too long we have been slow to expand our stockpiles of fifth-generation weapons required to fight peer adversaries. The second production line for JASSM-ER cruise missiles is a good start toward building the capacity needed to retain advantages that will make any enemy think twice before attacking. We must do the same for other fifth-generation weapons, including air-to-air missiles.
Shipbuilding, including aircraft carriers, surface ships, submarines and our logistics fleet, is another area where our capacity is severely limited. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, which recently surpassed ours in size, is on track to reach 400 ships in 2025 and is nearly self-sufficient for all components.
Size of the fleet isn’t a sole consideration. We’ve focused on ensuring the capability of our fleet remains unmatched and bolstering suppliers of critical components, but we must also improve the construction performance of lead ships in new classes to maintain and build upon our capability advantage. The last thing we want is a fair fight. Innovation is best done at the subsystem level through a rigorous engineering-based process centered on building knowledge through full-scale prototypes, which can then inform ship design. We are eager to work with the Navy to identify and fund more of these prototypes, which will serve as the building blocks of the future fleet.
We also must accelerate innovation. Recent defense authorization legislation encourages the DoD to streamline acquisition, take a business-minded approach to contracting, and tap into nontraditional suppliers and public-private partnerships. This must continue. Dilapidated testing infrastructure is holding us back from catching up to our enemies. Just look at hypersonic weapons: Beijing is parading around dozens of its newest weapons, and we have yet to build one. The DoD has looked to Silicon Valley, but we are competing with Chinese influence there as well, and the Pentagon has often proven an impossible customer due to its antiquated bureaucracy.
Any technological improvements will be meaningless if vulnerable to being infiltrated or stolen. Recent legislation continues support for the DoD as it assesses and mitigates risks to its supply chains posed by adversaries. Both the government and contractors need to cooperate on and use modern verification tools to identify trusted suppliers and manufacturers, as well as fix vulnerabilities. To make these tools useful, the DoD must first establish a working digital model of its suppliers.
Lastly, while we must continue to invest in the domestic, organic industrial base, it’s important to remember that we can’t take on China and Russia alone — which is why the National Defense Strategy emphasizes our network of allies and partners. We must remove unnecessary barriers to industrial cooperation that degrade our collective competitive edge.
We do not have to make a false choice between investing domestically and in our allies — we can do both. Under our National Technology and Industrial Base partnership with Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, we can develop a more diverse, resilient industrial base, secure our supply chains, and become a “five eyes for defense procurement.” It’s in our best interest to ensure our allies can leverage our technological advantages and we can leverage theirs.
Without a strong national security innovation base, the Pentagon cannot implement the National Defense Strategy. Congress’ job is to put the appropriate, tailored policy in place and provide sufficient, predictable resources to help the industrial base meet these challenges. Together, we can harness the power of American innovation to ensure that we are able to win the wars of the future. (Source: Defense News)
02 Dec 19. Milley Will Use Defense Strategy to Chart Way Ahead for Joint Force. The National Defense Strategy will continue to be the lens through which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff views the world, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said. Milley became the 20th chairman Sept. 30, succeeding Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford. He has had a baptism by fire. Turkey, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, China, Russia, Japan and more has kept him busy during his time in the new job.
Still, the strategy will guide his decisions and the military advice that he gives to the president, vice president, defense secretary and secretary of state.
We must maintain peace through strength.” Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The goal of the strategy is to protect and sustain American ideals. “American values have made us strong for two-and-a-half centuries, and we will never waiver in our commitment to the U.S. Constitution,” the general said. “Our goal should be to sustain great power peace that has existed since World War II, and deal firmly with all those who might challenge us.”
With that as a base, the military must improve joint warfighting readiness. “We must be ready 24/7 — that is our contract with the American people,” Milley said. “We will also continue to work closely with our allies and partners to improve our collective security and protect our common interests.”
Finally, Milley must ensure the force of the future has the capabilities and capacities to protect Americans, U.S. allies and U.S. interests around the world. “We will modernize our military through innovative concept development, advanced technology and new capabilities,” he said.
Part and parcel of this is having leaders who understand the joint environment and how the land, sea, air, cyber and space domains affect that environment. Milley said he will work to ensure tomorrow’s joint leaders have the training and experience needed to succeed.
The chairman also emphasizes the role of service members and their families. He stressed DOD must keep faith with military personnel and their families.
Internationally, the chairman’s horizon is dominated by the return of great power competition. China and Russia are flexing their muscles economically, politically, diplomatically and in the military sphere. All this is tied together in hybrid conflict. China and Russia want to enhance their regional and global prestige, the chairman said. They will use this whole-of-government coercion to force a revision of the international order. “Authoritarian actors are testing the limits of the international system and seeking regional dominance while challenging international norms and undermining U.S. interest,” he said.
The chairman said that long term, China is the only existential threat to the United States. Russia, with its nuclear arsenal, is the existential threat today.
The international order the United States championed since the end of WWII has created an atmosphere where all nations may prosper, he said. This includes the nations involved in the great power competition. The United States cannot allow China and Russia to eclipse the United States. “We must maintain peace through strength,” Milley said.
It is a dangerous world, and it is better with friends.”
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Added to this great power competition are other threats — North Korea, Iran and extremist groups.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is in a unique position to view the whole world. Combatant commanders look at their specific areas. Service chiefs look at the “man, train and equip” aspects of the military.
With his breadth of view, the chairman is now the global integrator for the joint force. It is a way “for the U.S. military to have a voice in strategic decision-making,” Milley said.
He wants to cement the global integration aspect into globally integrated exercises and war games. “We have to consider the overall strategy for the two-plus-three and give a top-down prioritization and allocation of resources against our strategic priorities with bottom-up refinement from the combatant commanders,” he said. “It’s my job to provide advice on the tough calls — giving resources in a global context at the speed of relevance.”
Since taking his position, Milley has been in constant contact with U.S. allies and partners around the world and visited the Indo-Pacific region to confer with Japanese and South Korean defense leaders. “It is a dangerous world, and it is better with friends,” the chairman said.
The system of alliances and partners the United States maintains is the font of America’s asymmetric advantage. “The strength of the United States is our network of allies and partners that we have,” the general said. “That’s why the U.S. can deal with any of the challenges we have in the world. I am very confident of our ability to deal with the challenges because of our network of allies and partners.” (Source: US DoD)
Founded in 1987, Exensor Technology is a world leading supplier of Networked Unattended Ground Sensor (UGS) Systems providing tailored sensor solutions to customers all over the world. From our Headquarters in Lund Sweden, our centre of expertise in Network Communications at Communications Research Lab in Kalmar Sweden and our Production site outside of Basingstoke UK, we design, develop and produce latest state of the art rugged UGS solutions at the highest quality to meet the most stringent demands of our customers. Our systems are in operation and used in a wide number of Military as well as Home land Security applications worldwide. The modular nature of the system ensures any external sensor can be integrated, providing the user with a fully meshed “silent” network capable of self-healing. Exensor Technology will continue to lead the field in UGS technology, provide our customers with excellent customer service and a bespoke package able to meet every need. A CNIM Group Company