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27 Jan 22. DOD Places Variety of Troops on ‘Prepare to Deploy.’ Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III placed a range of U.S. military units comprising 8,500 troops on a heightened preparedness to deploy to Ukraine should Russia invade that nation, and those units have been named, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said in a news conference today.
“[These] units include elements of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg — which regularly maintains high readiness — as well as elements of the 18th Airborne Corps, also based at Fort Bragg; and some elements from Fort Campbell, Kentucky,” Kirby said. “Additionally, from Fort Campbell, elements of the 100th First Airborne Division; and from Fort Carson, Colorado, elements of the Fourth Infantry Division have also been placed on increased readiness.”
The spokesman added that more units, which will now have an increased readiness posture, also include elements from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; Fort Hood, Texas; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Robins Air Force Base, Georgia; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; and select additional locations across the nation.
“These units, all told, include medical support, aviation support, logistics support and of course, combat formations,” Kirby said, emphasizing that these forces are on a heightened preparedness to deploy, and have not been activated.
“The vast majority of the troops the secretary put on ‘prepare to deploy,’ are in fact, dedicated to the NATO Response Force,” he added. The NATO Response Force is a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force made up of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces components that the Alliance can deploy quickly, wherever needed, according to the NATO website.
“We still believe there’s time and space for diplomacy,” Kirby said of ending tensions in the region between Russia and Ukraine. “But thus far, it has not achieved the kind of results that the international community would like to see.”
As for Russian buildup, the United States continues to see — including in the last 24 hours — more accumulation of credible combat forces arrayed by the Russians, in again the western part of their country and in Belarus, he said.
The possibility of using U.S. forces that are already in Europe — which are already in an accelerated readiness posture – has not been taken off the table to bolster NATO allies if necessary, Kirby noted.
Also noted in his briefing, the spokesman said the Defense Department has issued guidance pausing all activities related to processing civilian vaccination exemption requests, and any disciplinary actions for failure to become vaccinated for federal civilian workers.
“This guidance ensures compliance with a nationwide preliminary injunction order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas,” he said. “This injunction does not extend to military members, or to the department’s other force-health protection measures, such as masking, testing, physical distancing and travel limitations.”
And yesterday marked the beginning of Exercise Keen Edge 2022 with members of the Japan Joint Staff, U.S. Forces Japan and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the spokesman said.
“This annual bilateral exercise is designed to deepen relationships between the and Japan and to improve interagency coordination, combat readiness and interoperability between our two nations,” Kirby said.
The exercise is taking place through Feb. 3, and the primary exercise will be conducted at Yokota Air Base, Headquarters U.S. Forces Japan, Ministry of Defense in Tokyo, Japan Self-Defense Force Headquarters and Camp Smith, Hawaii, which is the home of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters. (Source: US DoD)
25 Jan 22. USN, USMC would cut flying hours, cancel weapon purchases under full-year CR. If Congress can’t reach a budget deal, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps will make “dramatic changes” to absorb the loss of bns of dollars from their 2022 plans, the Navy’s top budget officer said Tuesday. The federal government has been operating under a series of continuing resolutions since the fiscal year began Oct. 1, meaning the previous fiscal 2021 spending legislation, not the updated FY22 budget, is in place. Under a CR, no new programs can begin, and the services can’t increase the quantity they buy from an existing program. The current continuing resolution funds the government through Feb. 18.
Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, told reporters in a Jan. 25 call the Navy and Marine Corps are acting as if a proper FY22 budget will be passed — conducting operations at the planned pace, training new sailors and Marines at boot camp, getting contracts negotiated so they can be executed quickly — but also planning for the steep cuts they’d need to make under a full-year continuing resolution.
“We want to not break trust with our families, our sailors, our Marines; we want to maintain that competitive edge for our strategic rivals; and we want to be a good partner to our industrial base. A year-long CR does not do any of those things, so it’s not in our best interest,” Gumbleton said.
The operations and maintenance budget, for example, would be $2.5bn short of what the sea services planned for FY22, he said.
“We are continuing to spend the money like we have it, because we’ve been here before,” Gumbleton said, noting that 19 of the last 20 fiscal years have started with a continuing resolution but that usually the Pentagon eventually gets a new defense budget.
“If it does turn into a full-year CR, the dramatic impacts would be we would not do maintenance on five submarines and two aircraft carriers, and we would reduce the flying hour accounts to all our pilots, Navy and Marine Corps, by 10[%] or 20% in the last quarter and a half of the fiscal year,” he said.
He said the services would not accept any risk to the forward-deployed forces, but that means units training at home could face a disproportionate impact from what he called “ruthless prioritization” of forward forces.
Asked if a full-year CR could hinder the services’ ability to respond to Russian aggression in Ukraine or elsewhere in Europe, Gumbleton said that would not happen, but spending money on those operations would only further limit what’s available to units stateside.
A lack of money for training and operating at home is bad for proficiency and retention, he added.
Gumbleton said that, of the five submarine maintenance availabilities that would be cut, one would be a $710m maintenance availability scheduled to take place at General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard in Connecticut.
EB President Kevin Graney said in a Jan. 24 company update that attack submarine Hartford arrived at the Groton yard in June for a “smart start” ahead of a planned engineered overhaul of the submarine. This overhaul period — which appears to be what Gumbleton was referring to — is helping Electric Boat hire the new employees it needs for the Columbia ballistic missile submarine program and give them something to start working on now, while the first Columbia sub is still in the early stages of construction and not ready yet for employees who would work at later stages of the assembly line. Graney has previously described the submarine repair work as a risk-reduction measure for the Columbia program — and now one that could be yanked away in a full-year CR.
A full-year CR would hamper the Columbia program in other ways, Gumbleton said, with the shipbuilding program that’s been long designated the Navy’s top acquisition priority receiving about half a bn less than it needs in FY22. The Columbia program received $4.58 bn in funding in FY21, a figure bumped up to $5.06 bn in the Navy’s request and to $5.2bn in the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act.
Gumbleton said no sector in the industrial base would be shielded from the effects of a full-year CR.
In shipbuilding, the Navy would not be able to buy its second Constellation-class frigate, a T-AGOS ocean surveillance ship, a John Lewis-class oiler, two Ship to Shore Connectors and three used sealift ships as it had planned for the year.
In aviation, the Navy and Marines wouldn’t be able to increase their Joint Strike Fighter buy by seven aircraft as planned or buy six MQ-9 Predator drones for the Marines to start experimenting with.
And weapons meant to make ships more lethal or add range to their arsenal — including things like the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, Joint Air-to-Ground Missile, Evolved SeaSparrow Missile and Naval Strike Missile — wouldn’t see the increased procurement quantity the department wanted.
He did not provide a dollar amount associated with the full-year CR’s impact to acquisition, but he said 32 new programs would not be allowed to start — 10 acquisition programs, 10 research and development programs and 12 military construction programs — in addition to countless ones meant to increase in quantity in FY 22.
“We’re in an interesting time: We’re waiting on a ‘22 topline and an enacted budget, and we’re waiting to submit our ‘23 plans,” he said. “The impact for future years is, the industrial base counts on this to make investments in their own workforce, investments in their own infrastructure, and so when we change the plan, that does impact them, and it will impact future program years.”
The sea services would also be $1.5bn short when it comes to payroll, leading to three drastic levers the department would have to pull to make the budget work.
Complicating the matter, the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act that was passed into law gives servicemembers a 2.7% pay raise, which Gumbleton said they’re grateful for — but it exacerbates the payroll shortfall under a full-year CR.
The Navy alone had planned to bring in 31,000 new sailors in FY22, but if it can’t make payroll, that would be reduced by 23,000 accessions — meaning just 8,000 new sailors to support what’s supposed to be a growing fleet.
“Let that sink in for a moment: as an armed force, that we’re going to actually not bring in over 60% of our planned [accessions]. How are we supposed to maintain pace with China and the threats that we face? How do we maintain the Navy and Marine Corps and keep it going? That’s just a dramatic and significant factor, but that alone would not actually pay the bill,” he said of the cut to accessions.
Additionally, the services would have to cancel reenlistment bonuses as well as cancel about 37,000 permanent change of station moves. That means sailors or Marines stationed internationally who had expected to come back home to the U.S. would have to wait another year, for example, Gumbleton said.
One area he said the Navy would protect, though, is surface ship maintenance. The Navy had seen very low on-time delivery rates of surface ships from private repair yards as recently as 2018, but the service has since launched several data-driven efforts to improve ship repair costs and quality and get ready ships back into the fight faster. Commander of Naval Surface Forces Vice Adm. Roy Kitchener and others in the surface ship community have said an important lesson from these efforts is that contracts for private ship repair periods should be awarded at least 120 days before the ship arrives at the yard, so the industrial base has time to get the right people and parts in place to do the work.
Gumbleton said the Navy was pleased with the improvements and wants to protect the recovering ship repair activity from a full-year CR.
“We like what we’re seeing: A-minus-120, let’s get those contracts, let’s get those private yards the ability to plan so they can execute better. And so when we looked at, hey, how would you mitigate this dramatic reduction in our [operations and maintenance] appropriation, again, the $2.5bn I mentioned, we were stuck between the choices. And so that’s why we’re electing to go after the private sector submarine maintenance and the carrier maintenance, in an attempt to keep the private shipyards in our surface fleet on timeline.” (Source: Defense News)
24 Jan 22. Department of Defense labs face $5bn infrastructure shortfall. The U.S. Department of Defense is facing a $5bn shortfall across its lab and testing infrastructure, and a new innovation steering group is working to identify which of those needs are most critical and find ways to fund them.
The group, led by Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu, has been reviewing infrastructure needs across the DoD’s labs and testing facilities to better understand what capabilities the services need to support science and technology efforts. Speaking during a Jan. 19 Potomac Officers Club event, Shyu said the review has highlighted the scope of the need and the steering group is now working to understand the possible repercussions of that capability and funding gap.
“I need to understand from the $5 bn, which ones are most critical,” Shyu said. “If I don’t fund this, what happens? What are the implications if we don’t fund that?”
Shyu didn’t offer details on what elements of the infrastructure need the most attention and said she will brief members of Congress on the findings by the end of this month. She noted that as her team continues to “tease out the details,” they’ll likely look to industry to help fill the gap.
“If industry has it, maybe we can go through them,” she said. “We don’t have to duplicate everything industry is doing.”
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks directed the steering group’s creation in March, tasking it with identifying impediments to embracing innovation within the department and recommending changes. Shyu serves as chair and the group is made up of representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the combatant commands, the military services and several of the Pentagon’s innovation-oriented organizations.
While the laboratory infrastructure review has been one of its primary initiatives, Shyu highlighted three others: Creating an inventory of innovative organizations in the department; developing a better mechanism to transition technology from small business innovative research efforts into programs of record, and standing up the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve, which will fund demonstration campaigns focused on high-need capability gaps across the services.
For the innovation inventory, Shyu said the intent is to better understand the roles and responsibilities of the Pentagon organizations tasked with driving innovation throughout the department.
The group also wants a better sense of what sorts of budgets the organizations are working with, what processes they use to award contracts and what they’ve procured to date. Part of the goal, Shyu said, is to make it easier for companies to engage with these organizations.
Shyu is working more closely with federally-funded research and development centers, and is meeting quarterly with their CEOs to talk about some of the Pentagon’s toughest technology challenges.
On the industry side, Shyu convenes quarterly meetings with the chief technology officers from the top seven defense prime contractors to discuss critical technology needs and how the companies may be able to direct internal research and development funds to address them. She also meets regularly with smaller companies and non-traditional commercial companies to better understand the challenges of working with the department and to better align with their processes. (Source: Defense News)
21 Jan 22. Defense industry frets as funding talks crawl. Repeated warnings from uniformed Pentagon leaders and lawmakers of both parties that a full-year continuing resolution will hurt national security, some defense industry advocates are still worried about an impasse.
On Thursday, both chambers of Congress left town on recess until the week of Jan. 31, after making scant progress on a deal for an omnibus federal spending package. Amid partisan divisions over funding levels and policy provisions, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-N.Y., warned that a full-year CR would create a national security crisis ― in an effort to pressure Republicans.
“It is a national security issue of the highest priority, with the threats that exist out there. To go to a continuing resolution instead of a decision-making omnibus bill is to weaken our security and our stability,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “The Republicans should know that, so we hope we will be able to bring that legislation to the floor before [the current CR] expires.”
With fiscal 2022 spending bills four months overdue, lawmakers and the Pentagon have warned against a yearlong CR that would freeze defense spending at the level of 2021 appropriations. CRs continue funding at the previous year’s level, preventing the Pentagon from starting new acquisition programs and ramping up production quantities.
And without a 2022 spending deal to set a new baseline, the president’s budget submission is in limbo and expected to come months late, which is sowing uncertainty for the military and its vendors.
President Joe Biden signed a defense policy bill that boosts his $753bn national defense budget request for FY22 to $778bn, a 3% increase. But Republicans have said they want more for defense, less than the 16% increase proposed by Democrats and an agreement on some politically charged policy riders.
By the reckoning of National Defense Industrial Association Chairman Arnold Punaro, lawmakers could meet somewhere in the middle with 8% increases for both defense and nondefense, but that’s far from a certainty. Democrats have raised fears some Republicans see budget gridlock as an advantage heading into midterm elections and don’t want a deal at all.
“We’re still in budget chaos,” Punaro told Defense News this week. “China’s on the march, Russia’s on the move and North Korea’s on the advance, and yet Congress is sitting on their duff, not passing a spending bill. It’s disgraceful.”
The lack of a 2022 deal as a baseline for defense amid escalating inflation presents a huge challenge for Pentagon planners crafting the FY23 budget request, Punaro said. He worried the administration could make a flat budget request, potentially costing the Pentagon bns of dollars in buying power.
Meanwhile, a full-year CR would yield $11bn of lost growth, while 7% inflation would mean another $50bn in lost buying power, according to defense consultant Jim McAleese, the founder of McAleese & Associates.
Though the current CR runs out on Feb. 18, recent negotiations in Congress have sparked some optimism.
Lead appropriators in the Senate met Jan. 13 with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to set the guidelines for negotiations. From there, lead House and Senate appropriators met to kick off talks, and Pelosi has said she’s been in discussions with House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
Asked Thursday whether it’s realistic to get an agreement by Feb. 18, as Congress was about to leave town Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said: “That’s a good question. It’d be hard to get it by the 18th, but if we can make huge progress, we can probably get done soon.”
It’s unclear whether looming international crises with Russia and Ukraine, China and Taiwan, and North Korean missile tests would add pressure to pass defense spending. When asked about Pelosi’s comments, Shelby seemed to dig in.
“She’s right on that, but to underfund defense as some people would like to do, that would be a bigger challenge,” he said.
At a House Appropriations Committee hearing Jan. 12 about the effects of a potential full-year CR, the top officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Space Force warned such a move would sabotage the military’s efforts to compete with China by stalling new weapons like hypersonic missiles.
“CRs effectively prevent modernization at speed,” said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger. “We actually stand to be outpaced by China — not because of their speed but because of our failure to comply with our own budgetary processes.”
The president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, Eric Fanning, has warned that budget unpredictability is inefficient for the defense industry, which has to idle while the Pentagon waits for its projects to be funded. Amid the Capitol Hill activity, Fanning said he is “hopeful that the momentum continues.”
“The hearing painted a concerning picture of additional and unnecessary costs, as well risks to capabilities and to the industrial base in the short and long-terms. There was bipartisan agreement on how devastating a year-long CR could be,” Fanning said in a statement Thursday. “Over the last few days, there are positive signs that the message is getting through and the top appropriators from both parties are coming to the table.”
Lead Pentagon officials have talked for years about the need to harness the innovation of small tech firms. But CRs stifle those efforts, an executive at one of those firms, Anduril Industries, wrote in an essay this week.
That’s because CRs extend the time between a company winning funding for a prototype and then securing more funding to field it, known ruefully as the “valley of death,” according to Megan Milam, who is Anduril’s head of government relations and a former Pentagon budget official.
While large firms may have built up the cash reserves to weather multiple delays, those delays mean small tech firms without those reserves can’t afford the Pentagon as a customer.
“For the newest entrants, this delay can lead to bankruptcy or force them to accept an acquisition by a larger player,” Milam wrote. “As a result, our brightest technologists usually shy away from defense work entirely.”
(Source: Defense News)
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