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14 Apr 22. Document reveals $14bn backlog of US defense transfers to Taiwan. Pandemic-related acquisition issues have sparked a backlog in the U.S. delivering $14.2bn worth of military equipment to Taiwan that the island has purchased since 2019.
With much of Washington’s attention focused on how to rapidly deploy a steady stream of military aid to Ukraine, some lawmakers are concerned the Taiwan delay is undermining its ability to deter a potential Chinese invasion.
Rep. Steve Chabot, the top Republican on the House’s Asia and Pacific panel, told Defense News that the Foreign Affairs Committee held a meeting to discuss the backlog last week.
“We need to make sure that we provide Taiwan with the assistance that they need as well so that they’re not vulnerable to the [People’s Republic of China],” the lawmaker from Ohio said. “Obviously Ukraine is in the limelight right now — and rightfully so — but we best not forget about Taiwan because China’s actions have been more and more provocative.”
Defense News has obtained a spreadsheet detailing the backlogged equipment, which includes Taiwan’s $8bn purchase of 66 F-16 fighter jets as well as $620m to replace expiring components of its Patriot missile system.
The delayed deliveries also consist of smaller, asymmetric weapons systems Washington believes would be useful in deterring and thwarting a potential Chinese invasion. China considers the self-governing island a rogue province and has promised to bring it back under Beijing’s control, by force if necessary.
Those asymmetric weapons include Stinger missiles, heavyweight torpedoes, high-mobility artillery rocket systems, Paladin howitzers, MS-110 reconnaissance pods and a field information communications system. They also include $2.37bn in Harpoon Block II surface-launched missiles and $1bn in air-launched SLAM-ER missiles.
The $14.2bn backlog of sales accounts for the vast majority of the approximately $17bn in military equipment Taiwan agreed to purchase from the United States since July 2019. The U.S. State Department notified Congress of another $95m sale to provide contracting support for Taiwan’s Patriot missile system just last week. (Foreign Military Sales notification figures represent potential arms sales that the State Department internally clears. They must then clear a congressional review period, during which costs and quantities can change.)
Neither the Defense Department nor Taiwan’s diplomatic office in Washington replied to Defense News’ request for comment about the backlog. (Source: Defense News)
12 Apr 22. Kathleen Hicks warns of ‘substantial decline’ in defense-industrial base competition. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks voiced concerns Tuesday that a “substantial decline” in competition in the defense-industrial base, particularly around small businesses, will complicate the Pentagon’s efforts to capture innovation and value for taxpayers.
“We’re down to about five prime contractors, a substantial decline over the years on the small business side in the defense-industrial base,” Hicks told reporters, following an industry roundtable the day before at the National Defense University.
“We know in the American economy that innovation largely occurs in that small business community. It’s a huge driver of innovation. So we know we face a problem there. So competition can get us better results. Competition, we believe, will help us manage cost effectively [and] get the best value for the taxpayer.”
These are familiar themes for Hicks, who previously acknowledged the U.S. defense-industrial base shrank by more than 40% over the past decade. She warned that if the trend continues, the country could lose an additional 15,000 suppliers over the next decade. During Hicks’ confirmation last year, she voiced concerns about consolidation and said competition is needed to maintain an edge over China and Russia.
Last week, Hicks visited Silicon Valley to discuss the Pentagon’s innovation priorities with small businesses in the space sector and academic researchers. Then on Monday, she participated in a roundtable, hosted by Business Executives for National Security, involving more than 130 defense-industrial base executives from large and small businesses.
And on Tuesday, Hicks said she had heard from companies about bureaucratic barriers to working with the Defense Department and acknowledged small business set-aside contracts must be better enforced by the department’s acquisition workforce.
Along similar lines, the Pentagon plans to launch a new website next week that maps its innovation ecosystem to show businesses how to access the department, Hicks said.
“If you’re a prime, you know how to do that. If you’re a small company that works in commercial space who’s never worked with DoD before, the idea is to lower those barriers and explain who should you contact,” she said.
The Pentagon is expected to unveil an updated small business strategy this spring.
As the incoming undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, Bill LaPlante, joins the DoD next week, Hicks said she anticipates a good partnership with Under Secretary for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Chris Grady so the military can realize new warfighting concepts.
Republicans and some centrist Democrats have criticized the budget’s assumed inflation rate of 2.2%, arguing the defense budget top line should be higher than the $813bn the administration is seeking for national defense. The fiscal 2023 budget is $30bn, or 4%, over the $783bn Congress appropriated for this fiscal year.
As a practical matter, Hicks said the department isn’t hearing “a huge influx” of requests for equitable adjustments to contracts from the defense industry in response to rising inflation rates. Meanwhile, the DoD is tracking fluctuations in those rates.
“We’re always in conversations around equitable adjustments. We have not seen a huge influx of those,” Hicks said. “We have to be both looking out [to ensure] we have a good contract base that wants to work with us, but also, again, looking out for taxpayers so that we’re not locking in rates, for example, that don’t make sense to lock in today for long-term contracts.”
Facing questions about how the U.S. military will replenish stocks of weapons it’s sending to Ukraine to fight Russia, Hicks said she is set to meet with Raytheon Technologies’ chief executive, Gregory Hayes, later in the day to discuss the matter.
She also plans to participate in a classified roundtable with other defense CEOs on Wednesday to discuss “what can we do to help them, what do they need to generate supply.”
A Raytheon-Lockheed Martin joint venture makes Javelin anti-tank missiles, while Raytheon produces Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. The Stingers are in low-rate production and are facing obsolescence, though Hicks did not mention them by name or describe potential hurdles in detail.
“I’m sure you already know in some specific munitions areas we know we have some obsolescence issues,” Hicks said. “But we have seen, very patriotically, members of industry lean forward and indicate their willingness to work together.”
Hicks said the the Biden administration is in a “continuing dialogue” with Ukrainian officials over the types of weapons it plans to send, and that presidential decisions on the matter were pending.
“Yes, we will continue to look at the type of capabilities that the Ukrainians are asking for in terms of how to give them more range and distance,” Hicks said.
While Ukraine is a priority, Hicks said, the process could reveal broader supply chain vulnerabilities that must be remedied, primarily to maintain supplies for the U.S. military.
Amid complaints from lawmakers that the Pentagon is trailing Russia and China in hypersonic weapons, Hicks said that government needs to embrace a less risk-averse approach. Congress, in an federal spending package weeks ago, cut funding for the what was thought to be the department’s leading effort — the Air Force’s AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, made by Lockheed.
The U.S. used to lead with a test-fail approach to innovation, but not so much now, Hicks said. She wants the Pentagon’s efforts to gain more trust from lawmakers.
“What we see in general is a real resistance to that approach and concern over whether the U.S. investments are making a difference, up on Capitol Hill, and so you get curtailment programs, you get concerns over concurrency,” she said. “These are technologically risky approaches sometimes, and we have to be willing to fail. I think this is a place where we want to increase the trust that Congress has in the department.” (Source: Defense News)
12 Apr 22. New York City Shooting. At approximately 08:30 am local time on 12 April, New York Fire Department (FDNY) personnel reported a shooting at the 36th Street station on the BMT Fourth Avenue Line in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. As of the time of writing (1630 GMT), ten people are known to have been shot, with one in critical condition, while a further eight people sustained non-life-threatening injuries, including smoke inhalation. The authorities ordered the suspension of local public transit services and launched a manhunt for the suspect-at-large. Local schools have issued a temporary ‘shelter in place order’ for students and staff.
- New York Police Department (NYPD) sources suspect a coordinated attack, with the suspect, who is said to have been wearing a construction vest and gas mask, possibly employing multiple smoke bombs, while FDNY responders reported “several undetonated devices” during the initial response phase. It remains unclear what, if any, motive there was for the attack, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and other federal agencies send support staff to assist with the investigation.
- This incident comes amidst a notable uptick in violent crime across New York City and other major US metropolitan areas over the last 12 months. Worryingly, NYPD data for Q1 2022 tracked a 44 percent rise in overall crime rates, driven largely by an increase in assaults, burglaries, thefts, and gang activity. In response, New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently launched the NYPD’s ‘Crime and Quality-of-Life Enforcement Initiative’ on 22 March, allowing the department to deploy additional officers to high-risk areas with a pro-active enforcement mandate, drawing criticism of a return to the ‘broken windows’ style of policing introduced after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.
More details related to the shooting, including a motive, will likely emerge in the coming days, while local traffic delays will begin to subside by the evening. Local law enforcement will maintain a heightened presence at transportation hubs and across the city while the search for the suspect is ongoing. The incident itself does not significantly alter the medium-to-long term threat landscape in New York City and other US cities, as demonstrated by the latent risk of violent crime. Furthermore, there is no current evidence to suggest the suspect and attack were acts of domestic violent extremism (DVE) despite the coordinated nature of the incident, and similar pre-planned indiscriminate attacks remain highly unlikely. (Source: Sibylline)
12 Apr 22. Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Senior Defense Officials Discuss DoD’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request and the National Defense Strategy With Defense Industry Executives.
Attributable to Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon:
Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer Michael McCord, and Performing the Duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy Deborah Rosenblum spoke with business leaders yesterday about the Department’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request during an industry round table at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
The event was hosted by Business Executives for National Security, and included more than 130 defense industrial base executives from large and small businesses.
Deputy Secretary Hicks provided opening comments, followed by a question-and-answer session. During her opening comments, Dr. Hicks said the Department would meet the challenges of a complex security environment by pursuing three approaches: Integrated deterrence, campaigning, and building enduring advantages.
She also said that President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2023 defense budget request of $773bn, a roughly 8.1% increase over the Department’s Fiscal Year 2022 request, makes the investments necessary to implement National Defense Strategy.
Deputy Secretary Hicks added there are three areas of focus particularly relevant to businesses and the private sector. The first is investment in procurement, research, and development, which totals $276bn dollars – the largest in history. Second, secure and resilient supply chains, which are vital to not only our economic well-being, but also our national security. And third, cyber security, which is foundational to a successful relationship between the public and private sector.
During the question and answer period, the three senior defense officials discussed strategy-to-resource links between the 2022 National Defense Strategy and the Department of Defense’s FY23 budget request.
The discussion also focused on industry’s role in building supply chain resilience, creating the workforce of the future, contested logistics, and key emerging technologies. (Source: US DoD)
11 Apr 22. Leaders Update Special Ops Vision, Strategy. The civilian and military leaders of America’s special operations forces have combined to issue the new Special Operations Forces Vision and Strategy to guide the force into the future.
Christopher P. Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, and Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, wrote the document as a handbook for the changing world security environment.
This is especially important as the National Defense Strategy emphasizes the return of strategic competition with China and Russia.
“The updated Special Operations Force Vision and Strategy reflects our overarching strategic guidance to the enterprise, highlighting force modernization, force employment, development and design, and helps ensure forces are postured to support the National Defense Strategy,” Maier said in a written statement. “Aligned with national policy and strategy, the Vision and Strategy serves as the foundation for the shaping of SOF near-term and in the future as an adaptive, agile and capable force that can compete and prevail against any adversary, in any environment, while also recognizing the need to preserve and grow readiness and strengthen our force and families.”
The joint release of the Vision and Strategy highlights the cooperation at the highest levels of the community. “Special Operations Forces’ full range of core activities, tailored capabilities and deep partnerships provide critical options for campaigning to bolster deterrence,” Clarke said in a written statement. “These documents underpin our efforts to build enduring advantage. They ensure our special operations forces remain the most capable and credible in the world by providing a lasting foundation to guide future activities and investments focused on innovation, modernization and taking care of our most critical resource — our people.”
The vision statement takes the Special Ops core values of honor, courage, excellence, creativity and respect and pushes that basis into the future. Special operators must be “a resilient enterprise capable of conducting integrated all-domain special operations.”
Special operators, of course, have a role to play in countering moves by China America’s pacing challenge — and Russia — whose action in invading Ukraine shows the threat they may become.
“China is currently the only nation capable of combining the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to rival the U.S. and destabilize the international system that has advanced our interests for 75 years,” the Vision and Strategy document says.
But this doesn’t mean the threats are any smaller from Iran, North Korea or from violent extremist organizations. Organizations like the Islamic State seek to reconstitute anywhere they can find a safe haven. Ungoverned, little governed or corruptly governed areas of the Middle East, Southwest Asia and especially Africa could provide that necessity.
The strategy looks to establish a 10-year framework of strategic aims, strategic efforts and resources to “create strategic and asymmetric advantages” for the United States.
Over the next decade, special operators must be prepared “to conduct operations to support priority missions in critical locations as part of integrated deterrence, to reduce strategic risk and to facilitate integration with conventional forces during high-end conflict.”
The community also must modernize for the missions of the future. This is more than simply buying new equipment, but examining new concepts, doctrine, methods and capabilities.
Staying true to its roots is yet another priority in this strategy with its strong emphasis on recruiting and retaining the best people for the missions. The force will also sustain the Defense Department’s deployment-to-dwell and mobilization-to-dwell ratios.
Again, regarding personnel, the strategy calls for emphasizing diversity and inclusion within the community while also calling for accountable leadership.
Special operations forces will be key in helping the greater military operate with partner and allied military organizations, according to the strategy.
Maier and Clarke see the Vision and Strategy as a chance to continue discussions within the special operations community. Still, they delineate what qualities they deem important and the path they would like to take — together — moving ahead. (Source: US DoD)
11 Apr 22. Army’s $5.1bn wish list to Congress would ramp up modernization, infrastructure efforts. The U.S. Army has sent a one-page wish list to Congress seeking another $5.1bn beyond its fiscal 2023 budget request to ramp up modernization efforts and more quickly improve its infrastructure.
The wish list — also called an unfunded requirements list — was obtained by Defense News. The list is traditionally sent to Congress after the budget is released, giving lawmakers an idea of what the service would have bought if given more money.
The list seeks $2.4bn in equipping and modernization requirements, including $301.5m for aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems, $333.5m for combat platforms and watercraft, $117m for information technology upgrades and $1.69bn for weapons and communications equipment.
The Army would like an additional $524m to upgrade and field another half of a Brigade Combat Team of Abrams tanks “to remain on pace with our modernization strategy,” the document says. The budget request only covers fielding half of a BCT, slowed from three-quarters of a BCT in last year’s request.
Additionally, the service would like to upgrade Bradley Fighting Vehicles and weapons on the vehicle for $56m. Another $275 m would speed up the purchase of 10 Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense Systems, which would be fielded to the active and reserve forces.
The Army wants $121 m to accelerate the fielding of four more AN/TPQ-53 radars to Army National Guard armored division artillery units, while it seeks an unspecified amount of funding to buy Link 16 — a data link system for Army aircraft.
The service would like an additional $1.2bn to improve infrastructure. This includes maintenance facility projects totaling $761 m, minor construction projects for $109m and training and command and control facility projects for $310m.
Another $166m would go toward infrastructure improvements for National Guard projects and $231m for Army reserve needs.
To keep pace with increasing production demand within the Army’s organic industrial base, the service would like another $190 m to cover 45 projects.
The wish list includes $330m for family housing improvements mostly in the European and Indo-Pacific theaters. Another $267m would pay for soldier housing improvements stateside and around the globe.
The Army is seeking $141m in soldier protection improvements, including better cold-weather gear and properly fitting body armor for women.
As the Army sends Stinger missiles to Ukraine, it’s looking ahead to a next-generation Stinger missile replacement. The service requests $60m in research and development funding to advance the effort.
The wish list also asks for funding for the Aerial-Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (A-ISR) Global Force Management Allocation plan to address “the emerging and increasing Combatant Command requirements from multiple COCOM theaters.”
The Army is requesting $96.5m for Synthetic Training Environment (STE) One World Terrain and artificial intelligence upgrades, meant to enhance virtual training capabilities.
To address emerging homeland operations, the Army is asking for an additional $592m.
“The Army has consistently supported requests for assistance from [the Department of Homeland Security] and other interagency partners in order to respond to multiple security concerns as well as natural disasters and challenges,” the document reads. “The Army has leveraged internal resources to support these requirements. Using the last two fiscal years as an indicator, it is prudent to assume these historical trends will continue in FY23.” (Source: Defense News)
11 Apr 22. U.S., India Take Steps to Increase Cooperation, Ties Between 2 Largest Democracies. U.S. and Indian leaders took steps today to deepen the cooperation and ties between the two largest democracies in the world.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken hosted their Indian counterparts, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar for the fourth Ministerial Dialogue between the two countries.
The meeting – commonly called the two-plus-two – stressed the shared commitment the two nations have in upholding a free rules-based international order to safeguard sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. The men spoke at a press conference at the State Department.
Earlier in the day, President Joe Biden held a teleconference meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that set the stage for the two-plus-two.
“Today, we reaffirmed our commitment to promoting regional stability, the rule of law, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and to expanding our strategic partnership with,” Blinken said.
Austin noted that in the nearly 20 years of the bilateral defense partnership that the two nations have made tremendous progress. “Today’s meeting shows that we’re working together to build one of the most consequential partnerships of our time,” he said. “We’ve made important commitments today that will drive technological innovation and cooperation in emerging defense domains, including space and cyberspace.”
Austin announced that the U.S. and India will launch new defense space exchanges this year between U.S. Space Command and India’s Defense Space Agency. “And I’m pleased to announce that just a few moments ago, we signed a bilateral space situational awareness arrangement,” he said. “This will support greater information sharing and cooperation in space.”
The two defense establishments are also deepening cooperation in cyberspace, including through training and exercises later this year. India and the United States are also expanding information sharing partnership across all warfighting domains, he said.
The U.S.-India defense trade and technology cooperation continues to grow, the secretary said. “We recently concluded, an agreement to work together on air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles through our defense technology and trade initiative,” he said. “And today, we agreed to launch new supply chain cooperation measures that will let us more swiftly support each other’s priority defense requirements.”
After decades of India relying on Soviet and then Russian defense systems, the nation is buying more American defense platforms. “That is forging important and new ties between our defense industrial bases, Austin said. “We’re doing all this because the United States supports India as a defense industry leader in the Indo-Pacific, and a net provider of security in the region.”
Both democracies are worried about the People’s Republic of China, which seeks “to refashion the region, and the international system more broadly, in ways that serve its interests,” Austin said. “So, I’m pleased that we’ve identified new opportunities to extend the operational reach of our militaries, and to coordinate more closely together across the expanse of the Indo-Pacific.”
He welcomed India’s decision to join the Combined Maritime Forces based in Bahrain. This is a multinational partnership designed to uphold the rules-based international order by countering non-state actors on the high seas.
“We’ve also committed to more high-end exercises together,” Austin said.
At the meeting, the leaders agreed to reinforce ties with like-minded countries, including Japan, Australia and European allies and partners, the secretary said.
“Now as two of the world’s largest democracies, the United States and India are linked by more than our common interests,” Austin said. “We’re bound by our shared values and commitments, including ensuring that the Indo-Pacific stays on a path defined by the rule of law and freedom of the seas and respect for territorial integrity of sovereign states. Today’s two-plus-two ministerial reflects our deep commitment to maintaining open channels of communication on a range of challenging issues.”
China is not the only threat. “As strategic threats converge, especially following the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is more important than ever, that we stand together to defend our shared values, and to preserve the international rules-based order,” the secretary said. “And so, I believe that the investments that we’ve made together today will help to ensure that our shared vision of a secure, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region thrives in the decades ahead.” (Source: US DoD)
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