Oct 08, 2008 15:56 UTC
October 1st is the first day of the US military’s new fiscal year, which means its TRICARE medical contracts come into effect on that day. As one might image, quite a few TRICARE contracts were announced recently – over $900 million worth for FY 2009, and up to $4.66 billion from FY 2009 through FY 2013.
The Uniformed Services Family Health Plan (USFHP) contracts provide health care coverage to active duty military family members, plus all military retirees and their eligible family members – including those 65 years of age and over. There are 6 providers designated to provide the TRICARE Prime benefit to eligible beneficiaries under the USFHP, and all awards have been funded by Fiscal Year 2009 Defense Health Program funds. The US Department of Defense TRICARE Management Activity manages these contracts.
TRICARE is becoming a lot more expensive for the US Department of Defense, in part because of greater usage, and in part because of benefits increases with long-term cost implications. Military health care costs, which have doubled since 2001, could double again by 2015. See “TRICARE Trials and Tribulations” and “US DoD Trying to Slow Ballooning Prescription Drug Costs” for more background. TRICARE Prime Benefit contracts awarded to begin FY 2009 include:
Continue Reading… »
May 15, 2008 20:04 UTC
by Art Fritzson, Lloyd W. Howell Jr., and Dov S. Zakheim
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) took an unprecedented step on May 15, 2007, blocking troop access to MySpace, YouTube, and other popular Web sites. The official reason was to conserve bandwidth and safeguard security. But the DOD’s ban also highlighted a gap in understanding between senior military leaders and what demographers call Generation Y (alternatively known as the millennial generation or the baby-boom echo). Few members of this generation, born after 1978, can recall a time when the Internet was not at their disposal.
Not long ago, one of the authors of this article was asked to lead a U.S. Air Force study on the implications for the military of this new online generation. The request came from senior officers who had been appalled to discover a number of junior officers using the still-permissible Facebook Web site for the purpose of organizing their squadrons. These senior officers were having difficulty with the concept of using a civilian social-networking site for military purposes. What would that mean for military security? How would it affect the control and vulnerability of squadrons in the field? And from the perspective of DOD “middle management,” what was a major supposed to do? Forbid the behavior and risk losing the real benefits of an online community? Or protect it and risk the wrath of more senior officers who just didn’t understand?
This kind of conundrum is relevant not just for the U.S. military. A wide range of organizations, including most global corporations, will soon face a large, new cohort of young employees. Generation Y’s affinity for the interconnected world is just one of its intriguing characteristics…
Continue Reading… »
May 11, 2008 17:16 UTC
(click for article)
In the wake of the scandal described last week in “YouTube Video Leads to Fixes at Ft. Bragg,” the US Army committed itself to walk through inspections of all its bases. On May 7/08, Army Secretary Pete Geren said that the US Army will spend $248 million in emergency funds to fix problems found during inspections of 148,000 rooms at bases worldwide.
Ned Christensen, chief of public affairs for the Army Installation Management Command, says that the US Army aims to have new or renovated barracks housing for 147,700 enlisted Soldiers within 5 years, at an estimated total construction cost for new barracks complexes of about $10.7 billion between 2004-2013. AP report.
May 06, 2008 17:55 UTC
Over the next 5 years, the US Army plans to invest some $40 billion in military construction on American bases, in order to provide lodgings and facilities for soldiers and their families. As “The Army’s Building Boom” [PDF] notes, many of these facilities are leveraging construction ideas and even designs from suburban America. Some of the military’s existing facilities, however, still need to be upgraded, and project delays can have serious public impacts when soldiers return home. A recent YouTube video by a soldier’s father has triggered scrutiny and action at Ft. Bragg, NC, and also illustrated the changing power of distributed media with respect to the military and information operations.
Sgt. Jeff Frawley of the 82nd Airborne, 2-508 recently returned from Afghanistan to a barracks that had been partially renovated in terms of heating, ventilation and air conditioning, but still had issues like backed up sewage that was several inches deep, broken toilets, peeling lead-based paint, broken drinking fountain pipes with escaping sewer gas, and other issues. His father Edward Frawley says he had seen the barracks in these conditions several times over the last few of years. He says that he finally decided he would go public after the unit returned from Afghanistan and he still saw a building that “should be condemned.” In the modern era, however, Frawley did not have to find a media outlet interested in doing a story about his son’s barracks. He simply posted his pictures and narration on YouTube on April 22/08. Distribution picked up quickly, leading to a flurry of attention from Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dick Cody, Sen. Elizabeth Dole [R-NC], CNN and other news outlets, a tour of Congressional staffers, and releases from the military itself.
Sgt. Frawley’s and Charlie company had returned a month early. Even so, given the conditions, the military has apologized and reacted swiftly in the wake of the video. Edward Frawley has told CNN that there has been good progress since these details became public. Nevertheless, the issue of older builds and conditions goes beyond this one installation. There are 23 similar buildings at Fort Bragg, each built in the 1950s during the Korean War. All are scheduled to be taken “out of the inventory” in next 5 years, as new barracks come on line in a flurry of construction. In the wake of this incident, and the obvious potential for repeats, senior leadership in the Army has directed all barracks Army-wide receive walk through inspections to determine if they might exhibits similar failures of standards, and to implement immediate fixes if not. See: Edward Frawley’s YouTube video, incl. his narration | CNN Story | CNN video | US Army follow-on release.
May 06, 2008 17:28 UTC
Few of us would argue that soldiers returning from the battlefield deserve treatment for stress as well as wounds, as a moral obligation. Not to mention preventative programs and techniques similar to those discussed in Grossman’s On Combat book and “Bulletproof Mind” presentations, Richard Strozzi-Heckler’s work in SOCOM’s Trojan Warrior Project (1980s), the Marine Martial Arts Program, the new Warrior Mind Training et. al.
DID has covered a number of programs and issues related to soldier medical care. When analyzing current or proposed situations, however, it helps to know some math. This is true for all military programs, and it is true here. Since DID often provides statistics, and the issue appears to be current, we offer these:
If Bloomberg news is correct, 1.6 million American troops have been to Iraq or Afghanistan during this war, and about 4,560 have died to this point. If those 1.6 million people have exactly the same rate of suicide as the general population for the rest of their lives, the national rate of suicide in 2005 for ages 15 and up was 13.14 per 100,000. Assume that the average age of the soldiers is 30, and a conservative estimate gives them 40 years of exposure to the risk of suicide. 1.6 million x (13.14/100,000) x 40 years = 8,409 suicides at rates exactly equivalent to the American population as a whole. Versus about 4,560 killed so far in almost 7 years of combat. Media coverage that is surprised by this casualty comparison, and portrays soldiers as generally unbalanced on that basis, opens itself to serious professional questions. Perhaps enlistments in Raytheon’s Math Moves U program could be arranged.
You would also wish to know military statistics for suicide, of course (17.3/100,000 overall, 19.9/100,000 for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan), as well as general population statistics for men age 20-44 (21.82/100,000) and women age 20-44 (5.54/100,000) per 2004/05 figures. Adjusted for US military figures of 17% women, an equivalent general American population would have a near-term annual suicide rate of 19.06 per 100,000.
Apr 22, 2008 16:58 UTC
LPD 14 Trenton,
now INS Jalashwa
Rumors are flying that India is set to sign a $2.2 billion deal with Boeing for 8 P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, and American companies are competing like never before in critical defense competitions like the $10+ billion medium multi-role fighter bid. The process of working through foreign defense sales is far more complex than simply winning competitions, or even establishing an industrial network within your target market. In societies with accountable governments, the arms trade comes under a number of key regulations, and government to government agreements that lay out key terms are critical in order to lay the framework for industrial cooperation and sales.
One aspect of arms sales regulations that’s quite common at present is restrictions on what a country may do with the equipment it buys. Prohibitions on second-hand sales without approval of the exporting country are routine inclusions, even by regimes that have no political compunctions about selling weapons to anyone. After all, as tech firms like Cisco and Sun found out during the dot-com crash, having your high-end hardware sold on eBay does terrible things to the bottom line. Many accountable governments have also been pushed into offering a second kind of restriction, however: restrictions on what the purchasing country can do with the equipment, even within its own borders. Any machine needs maintenance, which provides sufficient leverage to ensure cooperation. Even so, many countries like Indonesia and Chad are becoming restive. As international equipment options continue to broaden, some countries like Indonesia are even switching suppliers to ensure non-interference.
Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta recently expressed similar sentiments with respect to side agreements the USA is requesting, and whose absence is slowing down the growing military relationship between the 2 countries…
Continue Reading… »
Apr 16, 2008 18:17 UTC
Security clearances are a big deal for the US defense industry. Delays of up to 2 years in processing applications has made them a major bottleneck for many defense firms, and led to premiums of $20,000 – $30,000 for employees who do possess one. Congress has taken note of the issue, and its Government Accountability Office recently issued report #GAO-08-580R: “DOD Personnel Clearances: Questions for the Record Related to the Quality and Timeliness of Clearances.” An excerpt from this short report:
“Through our reports and testimonies, we have emphasized a need to build more quality and quality monitoring into the clearances process… We find [the current] measure to be problematic… (the clearance process has six phases: the requirements setting, application-submission, investigation, adjudication, appeal, and clearance updating). As noted in our February 13, 2008 report, we are encouraged by some department specific and governmentwide efforts that have improved DOD’s personnel security clearance program… Current and future efforts to reform personnel security clearance processes should consider, among other things, the following four key factors: (1) determining whether clearances are required for a specific position, (2) incorporating quality control steps throughout the clearance processes, (3) establishing metrics for assessing all aspects of clearance processes, and (4) providing Congress with the long-term funding requirements of security clearance reform. The timeliness statistics that OMB and OPM have provided to Congress may not convey the full magnitude of the time required to complete clearance investigations and adjudications… there may be continuing problems in these areas.”
Mar 12, 2008 17:39 UTC
In recent years, the US Department of Defense has moved civilians into positions of responsibility alongside DoD employees. Some work is straightforward – public relations, facility maintenance, et. al. Other work contains the potential for entanglement, such as developing contract requirements and advising on award fees for other contractors. The Congressional Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to assess (1) how many contractor employees work in DOD offices and what type of mission-critical contracted services they perform, (2) what safeguards there are to prevent personal conflicts of interest for contractor employees when performing DOD’s tasks, and (3) whether government and defense contractor officials believe additional safeguards are necessary. GAO’s summary notes that:
“In contrast to federal employees, few government ethics laws and DOD-wide policies are in place to prevent personal conflicts of interest for defense contractor employees… Some DOD offices and defense contractor companies are voluntarily adopting safeguards… In general, government officials believed that current requirements are inadequate to prevent conflicts from arising for certain contractor employees influencing DOD decisions, especially financial conflicts of interest and impaired impartiality. Some program managers and defense contractor officials expressed concern that adding new safeguards will increase costs. But ethics officials and senior leaders countered that, given the risk associated with personal conflicts of interest and the expanding roles that contractor employees play, such safeguards are necessary.”
Read the full report: Report page | Plain Text | PDF, 52 pages.
Dec 17, 2007 17:26 UTC
(click to apply)
The December 2007 issue of Britain’s Soldier Magazine highlights some recent winners under the UK MoD’s Gems program, which provides cash rewards for clever solutions to operational problems.
Royal Engineers LCpl Tom Glinn, Spr “Cookie” Cook and Spr Jay Coombes needed to cool Basra’s Cobra radar system when it began to fail in Iraq’s heat. The unit’s initial solution of placing the unit in an inflatable tent has a structural and thermal failure – but a crude sketch, some scrap wood, discarded plastic tubing and even cling film worked, drawing air from an air conditioning unit and feeding it to the radar via a set of insulated tubes. Cost GBP 20 (about $41). Winner, one Gems cash prize.
Nor are they alone. Royal Engineer Sgt Jim Randall designed a metal hook attached to an adjustable metal pole, that can be dragged along the ground to identify command wires leading to roadside IED land mines. It worked so well that explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams use them now. Craftsmen Steve Whiting and Phil Ashby noticed that ISO containers on the back of some of the Army’s larger trucks were snagging power lines and creating power outages. Locals not happy. Army not happy. Response? An angled metal frame that allows the cables to glide over the containers. Simple, effective little… Gems.
Dec 02, 2007 12:11 UTC
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces recently ruled that a service member who received notice that she was required to undergo a random urinalysis test, and who e-mailed several other people to discuss her strategies for beating the tests to avoid discovery of her drug use, was not sufficiently informed of the DoD policy that employees have no right of privacy when using government computer systems. It set aside the findings, and her sentence.
In response, the US Department of Defense has replaced its decade-old banner warning with a new one. The banner notifies users that their systems may be monitored for “penetration testing, (communications security), monitoring, network defense, quality control, and employee misconduct, law enforcement and counterintelligence investigations,” adding that all security systems in place are there to provide security for the benefit of the government, not to provide personal privacy to employees. A related notice will appear on government BlackBerry devices and other personal digital assistants and personal electronic devices.
Members of the defense community sending emails to colleagues in the Pentagon, or otherwise working with DoD employees, need to keep these things in mind. USAF release.
- «More recent
- Older entries»