UK NAO Says Army 2020 Plan Needs Reality Check
- The UK’s National Audit Office released sharp criticism of the government’s decision to downsize the Army:
“The MOD decision to reduce the size of the regular Army and increase the number of trained Army reserves was taken without appropriate testing of feasibility or evaluation of risk. […] The decision to adopt an Army structure with fewer regular soldiers and an increased number of reserves was made to enable the Department to provide defence outputs within its available budget. We have not seen evidence that the feasibility of increasing the number of trained reserves within the planned timescale, needed to provide the required capability, was robustly tested.”
Fixing VA Care
- The US House of Representatives took an easy vote (426-0 roll call) to push Veterans Affairs to sort out its waiting times. The Senate should soon bring a similar bill to its floor.
- CSIS researcher Evan A. Laksmana looks at the defense priorities outlined by presidential candidate Joko Widodo, ahead of Indonesia’s presidential elections next month. The WSJ provides an overview of the latest debate that took place on Monday and who the candidates are.
- Reuters reports that Japan has started talks for UH-X, a helicopter transport deal worth about $2B, a sum large enough for some of the competitors to offer a new design.
- Meanwhile the Philippines postponed the deadline for bids for the acquisition of 2 anti-submarine warfare helicopters to June 24, according to IHS Jane’s.
- Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) jihadists have seized more cities in northern Iraq beyond Mossul, as Iraqi police and military abandon their posts and equipment.
From Your “Friends” in the Tech World
- While Lockheed Martin managed to convince Defense News that an increase of about $30M in its yearly R&D budget was worth headlining as a “boost“, Google puts this pocket change in perspective by throwing another $500M at an acquisition relevant to the security space (literally), with the purchase of Skybox Imaging. The company uses cheap, short-lived satellites to turn imagery into data flows such as the monitoring of port activity.
- How does this work? Leaving aside market capitalization comparisons, Google generates more free cash flow each quarter than Lockheed Martin does in a good year. As long as Google’s quasi monopoly in search ads is safe and thriving, they can afford to throw lots of money to try and own a future populated with data-collecting robots.
- The Economist: “Taking advantage of smartphones and other consumer technologies, tiny satellites are changing the space business.”
- Like the US, Russia is struggling with its ponderous space industry incumbents, and like in the Pentagon, they’re unable to conduct proper audits. This, by the admission of RIA Novosti despite its recent restructuring into another Kremlin mouthpiece.
- Vodafone recently released a law enforcement report [PDF] showing the extensive, and sometimes secret, governmental wiretapping capabilities among the 29 countries where the firm operates.
- How to tell if the NSA is keeping your phone on even when you’ve turned it off? It will continue to dissipate heat.
- Did a Russian team really pass the Turing test, where humans can be tricked to think a machine is another fellow human? Not so fast, according to some detractors.
US Leadership and How to Deal with Tech Disruption
- Today’s video is a live stream from the Center for a New American Security’s 8th Annual National Security conference, where among topics CNAS will discuss its latest report on creative disruption: