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02 Aug 23. Readout of Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks’ and SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman’s Meeting With AM Forward Partners. Attributable to Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon: Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman met yesterday at the Pentagon with executives from Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Stifel Financial, and Applied Science & Technology Research Organization (ASTRO) America to discuss President Biden’s AM Forward initiative, share perspectives on collectively advancing critical technology and manufacturing priorities vital to U.S. national security and the potential of SBA’s Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program to help overcome those barriers.
“The AM Forward initiative tells a compelling story about the power of partnerships to ensure that America’s small and medium sized businesses continue to lead the world in innovation and critical technologies,” said Deputy Secretary Hicks.
Deputy Secretary Hicks highlighted President Biden’s AM Forward initiative as an example of how the Biden-Harris Administration is working with the private sector to protect America’s enduring technological advantage and further strengthen America’s supply chain by bringing together large manufacturers to help smaller U.S.-based suppliers increase their use of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing.
“By partnering with DoD and leveraging SBA’s long-standing public private investment partnerships through the SBIC program, we will accelerate manufacturing innovation in the U.S. industrial base by enabling access to capital and expertise networks capable of addressing the biggest challenges faced by the small business suppliers critical to U.S. national security,” said Administrator Guzman.
Through AM Forward, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), who have made voluntary commitments under the AM Forward initiative, work directly with their U.S.-based suppliers to demonstrate clear demand for additively-produced parts AM Forward helps suppliers with demand, financing, supplier qualification, and training- all critical in promoting supplier adoption of additive manufacturing technology. While this meeting focused on financing, there is progress across all four areas.
“AM Forward is a crucial part our Administration’s Investing in America agenda because it provides an opportunity to both strengthen supply chain resiliency and support small businesses in the U.S. defense industrial base.” said Ms. Joelle Gamble, National Economic Council Deputy Director. “We see AM Forward as a model for other industries– a way for large companies to improve the business case for their suppliers to adopt new technology, and a way for USG to coordinate our programs to make implementation faster and easier.”
ASTRO America, a non-profit, non-partisan Research Institute dedicated to advancing the public interest through manufacturing technology and policy, in partnership with Stifel Financial, Lockheed, and GE intend to identify and invest in lower middle market businesses working to increase American national security supply chain resilience while reducing production costs and timelines for critical components through additive manufacturing.
A critical objective of the AM Forward initiative is investment in recruiting, retaining, and adapting the workforce so the full spectrum of the defense ecosystem will be able to leverage advanced manufacturing techniques and a highly skilled labor pool when producing innovative capabilities.
Administrator Guzman and Deputy Secretary Hicks were joined by Ms. Heidi Shyu, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering; Dr. Radha Plumb, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment; Ms. Bailey DeVries, Associate Administrator, Head of the Office of Investment & Innovation; Ms. Joelle Gamble, National Economic Council Deputy Director; and Dr. Jason Rathje, Office of Strategic Capital Director.
The Deputy Secretary thanked the participants for their engagement and commitment to the AM Forward initiative and other initiatives that support US national security objectives.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III and SBA Administrator Guzman launched a DoD-SBA partnership on December 3, 2022.
Since 2021, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III and Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks have engaged with hundreds of industry and technology leaders as a part of a persistent, open communication strategy to advance the Department’s understanding of the U.S. innovation ecosystem, industry priorities and challenges, and better-prepare the United States to face the national security challenges of the 21st century. (Source: U.S. DoD)
01 Aug 23. US confidence in its military slumps below its approval of aid to Ukraine. A Gallup poll shows US confidence in its military has fallen to 60%, its lowest since 1997.
AGallup poll of American voters, published 31 July, found that confidence in the US Military has dropped to 60%, down from 74% in 2018, and falling 9 percentage points in the last two years alone.
Among Republican voters, the decline is even steeper, falling 20 percentage points since 2020.
The finding comes days after researchers at the University of Maryland found large bipartisan support for the US continuing to provide significant military aid to Ukraine to help in the ongoing war with Russia. Seven-in-ten American voters favour continued support of of military aid to Ukraine, including military equipment, ammunition, training and intelligence, according to an in-depth study from the Program for Public Consultation and the Centre for International & Security Studies, published on 27 July.
Public confidence in the US military is lower than it has been in 26 years
“Recent figures indicating a significant drop in public confidence in the US military over the last five years are causing serious concerns as the Department of Defense seeks to strengthen personnel numbers the risk of high intensity conflict continues to escalate,” says Tristan Sauer, defence analyst at GlobalData.
The last time public confidence in the military was as low as its current level, 60%, was in 1997, and it hasn’t fallen below 60% since 1988.
From the late 1970s to the early 1980’s, American opinion was markedly lower, with confidence in the military between 50% and 58%, but during the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s more Americans expressed confidence in the military, and this proportion surged after the victory in the first Gulf War, as well as after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
However, after the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban in 2021, following the US withdrawal, the number of American’s with confidence in the military began to plummet. “The repeated strategic failures of US military policy in recent years, with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the rise of ISIS following US withdrawals from Iraq, only further degrade public perception of the military’s effectiveness,” says Sauer.
Political sensitivities factor into public confidence
However, Sauer is keen to point out that the US Military’s public image problems stem from a much broader range of economic, social, and geopolitical factors. “Longstanding issues with various US military programs including housing, pay, healthcare, veterans support and travel coverage, all of which are publicised more expansively in the age of digital media, continue to undermine the military’s status as an employer.”
The US military, being a government institution, has consistently mirrored the contrasting aspects and contradictions that are deeply ingrained in US government policy throughout the past thirty years. In the deeply divided landscape of American politics, the United States military’s policies and actions have consistently served as a crucial gauge of government power.
Political operators from both ends of the spectrum scrutinise military policies and practices, identifying perceived threats to military effectiveness that they believe put American citizens at risk. “In certain respects, falling confidence in the US military and other government institutions is strongly linked to individual political affiliations,” says Sauer, in remarks supported by the Gallup poll.
For nearly all of the past 48 years that Gallup has run this study, Republicans have been the most likely to say that they have confidence in the military, but in the last three years this proportion has fallen from 91% to 68%. No other group of voters has seen such a precipitous decline. This is still the highest level of support among political parties, but as a trend of decline it will be troubling for personnel working within the DoD. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
31 Jul 23. Defense Department Updates Its Law of War Manual. Today, the Department of Defense (DoD) released an important update to its Law of War Manual.
The Manual provides authoritative legal guidance for DoD personnel in implementing the law of war and executing military operations. It reflects America’s long and deep tradition of respect for the rule of law and the law of war. This is the third update to the Manual since it was first issued in June 2015.
The updated Manual substantially enhances the discussion of what the law of war requires when determining whether a person or object is a lawful target in planning and conducting attacks. It describes the legal duty to presume that persons or objects are protected from being targeted for attack unless the available information indicates that they are military objectives.
The Manual also includes a new section discussing the obligation to take feasible precautions to verify that potential targets are military objectives, including providing examples of common precautionary measures. The update affirms that the law of war does not prevent commanders and other personnel from making decisions and acting at the speed of relevance, including in high-intensity conflicts, based on their good-faith assessments of the information available at the time.
“As Secretary Austin has said, ‘there are still rules in war.’ Secretary Austin has rightly insisted that we make every effort to protect civilians and mitigate civilian harm during armed conflict. Protection of civilians is vital to the success of our military operations keeping America safe — and doing so is both a moral necessity and a strategic imperative,” said Caroline Krass, Department of Defense General Counsel. “This updated version of the Department’s Law of War Manual provides greater clarity on the requirements of the law of war that are critical for protecting civilians and civilian objects during military operations.”
The Department will continue to update the Manual to provide DoD personnel with the best possible resource for understanding and complying with the law of war. The updated Manual is publicly available at www.defense.gov. (Source: U.S. DoD)
31 Jul 23. Readout of Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Dr. WilliamLaPlante, and the Republic of Korea’s Minister of Defense, Acquisition Program Administration, Mr. Eom Dong-hwan, Co-Chairing of the 48th Annual Defense Technological and Industrial Cooperation Committee.
The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Dr. William LaPlante, co-chaired the 48th Annual Defense Technological and Industrial Cooperation Committee meeting with Mr. Eom Dong-hwan, the Minister of Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), of the Republic of Korea (ROK) at the Pentagon, July 28, 2023. The DTICC is focused on ensuring continued interoperability of our forces through a broad range of discussions on all aspects of defense acquisition and was last convened in 2018.
Among many topics, the leaders highlighted the ROK’s Defense Acquisition Programs Training Institute (DATPI) and its partnership with Defense Acquisition University. Minister Eom expressed his gratitude for DATPI-DAU collaboration in training the ROK acquisition workforce and Dr. LaPlante conveyed his support for DAPA’s endeavor to identify and train acquisition professionals, encouraging continued engagement to further these common goals.
The delegations also discussed supply chain resiliency. Both leaders highlighted the need to look for opportunities to strengthen industrial base resilience through cooperation and collaboration, especially with partner countries in the Indo-Pacific. Dr. LaPlante emphasized the Department’s commitment to building resiliency and better incentivizing industry to prepare for emergent global security needs.
Dr. LaPlante and Minister Eom concluded the dialogue with an update on efforts to conclude a U.S.-ROK Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA). Both were encouraged by the work completed to date and confirmed their respective teams will continue coordination to finalize this important arrangement. (Source: U.S. DoD)
28 Jul 23. Defense budget policy bill negotiations face murky waters. Congressional leaders say they’re confident they can reach agreement on a compromise defense authorization bill later this year even though the House and Senate drafts advanced so far differ significantly on a host of contentious social issues.
On Thursday, Senate lawmakers approved their version of the massive authorization bill, which outlines plans for $886bn in defense spending next fiscal year and mandates a host of program and policy changes for the military.
It also includes a 5.2% pay raise for troops next January and a collection of bonus reauthorizations needed for recruiting and retention efforts. The measure has been passed out of Congress for 62 years, and is considered must-pass legislation for Congress each year.
Senators advanced their draft after more than a week of amendments work which included new protections for military members from debt collectors and new limits on Chinese access to sensitive U.S. military technology. The final measure passed by a 86-11 vote, with significant support from members of both parties.
That stands in sharp contrast to the House authorization bill vote earlier this month, which passed 219-210 largely along party lines.
House Democrats balked at supporting the measure after GOP leaders included amendments which would repeal the Defense Department’s abortion access policies, restrict medical care for transgender troops, eliminate military diversity initiatives and ban the Pentagon from implementing President Joe Biden’s climate change mitigation orders.
Despite the acrimony, key congressional leaders said this week they are confident the competing authorization bill drafts can be sorted out in interchamber negotiations, and that a compromise can be found sometime this fall.
“We’ll get it done,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “Staff will go ahead and start compromising on low-hanging differences over the August recess, and we’ll get back in September to clean up the other differences. I’m confident we’ll wind up in a good place.”
Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also said he was “optimistic” about the final product, stating “we always get a bill, six decades plus. We’ll get one this time.”
Committee ranking member Adam Smith, D-Wash. — who voted against the measure on the House floor — expressed a similar positive outlook.
“I think we will be able to resolve our differences,” he said on Thursday. “Obviously, the House Republicans are going to have to back off a lot of those things they added in. But we were perfectly OK with the bill as it passed out of committee. So there is a path ahead.”
The House Armed Services committee draft of the measure did include limits on Defense Department diversity training, restrictions on future COVID-19 vaccines mandates and several other measures that drew the ire of minority Democrats. But ultimately most voted to move ahead with the legislation, because of its overall importance to the military.
Despite the vast differences between the two bills on culture war issues, they both contain a series of similar provisions. That includes language freezing new construction at the temporary Space Command facility in Colorado Springs and freezing half of Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall’s budget until he makes a months-overdue decision about whether to keep the combatant command there or move it to Huntsville, Alabama as previously planned.
Both bills also institutionalize the sea-launched cruise missile nuclear program while providing approximately $190m in FY24 for its continued research and development, despite opposition from the Biden administration.
The Senate also amended its bill on the floor with numerous other provisions. Last week, senators voted 65-28 to require congressional approval for U.S. withdrawal from NATO — a precaution against former President Donald Trump’s possible return to the White House.
The Senate also unanimously attached an amendment from Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.,that would require 100% of components in Navy ships to be manufactured in the United States by 2033.
Another amendment includes two authorizations for the trilateral AUKUS agreement with Australia and Britain: one that allows the U.S. to begin training private sector Australian employees in submarine work and another intended to speed up export control licenses for the two countries.
However, Wicker blocked two other AUKUS authorizations from the bill, vowing to hold them until Congress provides more funding for the submarine industrial base via a defense spending supplemental.
The authorizations Wicker blocked would have allowed the sale of up to two Virginia-class submarines to Australia and permitted Washington to accept $3bn from Canberra for the U.S. submarine industrial base.
The House and Senate are scheduled to be on recess until early September. Formal negotiations between the two chambers on the authorization bill will begin then, but informal behind-the-scenes work will carry on throughout the summer. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
27 Jul 23. ACC Releases Accident Investigation Board Report for F-35A Crash in Utah. Today, Air Combat Command released an accident investigation board report regarding an F-35A crash that occurred Oct. 19, 2022, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
The pilot, who was assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing, safely ejected and sustained minor injuries. The aircraft, valued at approximately $166.3m, was destroyed upon impact.
The mishap occurred when a four-ship formation flight was returning to base from a training event in the Utah Test and Training Range airspace.
During final approach to land at Hill AFB, the pilot of the F-35A, who was third to land, experienced a slight rumbling to their aircraft due to wake turbulence from the preceding aircraft. The atmospheric disturbance resulted in erratic inputs to the aircraft’s air data application (ADA).
This, in turn, caused erroneous outputs from the ADA and resulted in a condition in which the aircraft flight controls did not respond correctly to the actual current conditions of the F-35A. Manual flight controls did not correctly respond to the pilot’s inputs. Recognizing the aircraft was not responding appropriately to control inputs, the pilot selected full afterburner power to attempt to recover to controlled flight. Due to low altitude, low airspeed and sideslip flight path, the pilot was unable to recover the aircraft and initiated ejection.
The ejected pilot landed north of the base fence line and was recovered by military and civilian emergency responders. Debris from the crashed F-35A fanned out, with most of the aircraft impacting within the airfield boundaries. Parts of the cockpit, canopy, and ejection seat landed just outside of the airfield boundary fence line.
The AIB president found the mishap occurred due to air data system errors immediately prior to landing that caused the F-35A to depart controlled flight in which there was no opportunity to recover to controlled flight.
The board president also found one significant contributing factor to be that the pilot did not increase landing spacing from preceding aircraft in accordance with wake turbulence procedures.
(Click here for the full AIB report (39 PDF pages), on the US Air Force website: https://www.afjag.af.mil/Portals/77/AIB-Reports/2022/19%20Oct%202023%20ACC%20F-35A%20388th%20FW%20Hill%20AFB%20AIB%20Report.pdf) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Air Combat Command)
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