Boeing’s Humongous Backlog is Overwhelmingly Commercial

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* Boeing reported 2013 revenue up 6% to a record $86.6B. Total backlog grew by $51B to $441B. As big as that number is, Airbus towers above it with more than $800B in their order book, or 8 years of production. Is this too much of a good thing? Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security business […]

* Boeing reported 2013 revenue up 6% to a record $86.6B. Total backlog grew by $51B to $441B. As big as that number is, Airbus towers above it with more than $800B in their order book, or 8 years of production. Is this too much of a good thing? Boeing’s Defense, Space & Security business grew by 2% to $33.2B, though the company expects to lose as much as 10% of that topline in 2014. At $67B, the DSS backlog amounts to just 15% of the total.

DoD, GSA Want to Counter Supply Chain Threats with “Trusted Sources” Requirement

* The US Department of Defense and the General Services Administration (GSA) jointly announced acquisition cybersecurity recommendations [PDF]. The implementation of one item in particular will have to be carefully watched: “Include a requirement to purchase from Original Equipment Manufacturers, their Authorized Resellers, or other trusted sources, whenever available, in appropriate acquisitions.” The government is justifiably concerned about counterfeits, but this might have the unintended consequence of reducing competition for parts, leading to higher prices and/or longer resupply lead times. Final action on related defense acquisition (DFARS 2012-D055) is expected next month.

Congressional Interference

* Mackenzie Eaglen from the American Enterprise Institute agrees with her peers at CSBA: Congress is shooting the Pentagon in the foot.

* That said, calling for less micromanagement doesn’t mean oversight should not be exercised. Some members of a House subcommittee are concerned that Christians may have been reprimanded by the military for the simple expression of their faith. The Family Research Council thinks religious liberty is under threat in the military. The US military needs to address both proselytizing and religious freedom well, or it will lose more friends on Capitol Hill.

Wartime Logistics in Afghanistan and Beyond

* The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) sponsored a report [PDF] from Chatham House on wartime logistics. Its conclusions sound familiar: military supply chains need to be adaptable, the interest of contractors have to be aligned with military strategic goals, and proper contractor management, backed by a high degree of transparency, has to become ingrained to avoid waste and corruption. Closing the report with a call for “big data” as a way to provide foresight is a bit more dubious. Collecting huge amounts of raw data is more likely to lead to drowning by numbers than meaningful insights. Given their track records, departments of defense should first get the basics of accounting and payroll software right before chasing trendy pixie dust.

What a Surprise

* According to Reuters shipments by the Syrian government of its chemical weapons have reached less than 5% of their reported inventory and seem deliberately stalled.

* On background, the latest worldwide threat assessment [PDF] of the US intelligence community, provided yesterday by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Tu Quoque, Vladimir

* Russia plans to create units specialized in cyber-defense sometime in the next few years. That announcement sounds rather fuzzy relative to firmer, shorter-term plans already public in a number of Western countries. But that is par for the course with Russia.

Putting the Important in VVIP

* India takes another hardball step in its VVIP helicopter dispute, signing a contract to upgrade 12 of its Mi-17 helicopters to an Mi-17V5 VVIP standard in time for the 2014 election campaign. At last, we know what it takes to make Indian decision-makers move quickly on acquisitions.

China’s Resource-Hungry Economy Faces High Reform Hurdles

* The game of Go is a good framework to consider Asian dynamics: China and Japan Seek Advantages in East Asia.

* CSIS offers a framework [PDF] for U.S. Policy and strategy in South Asia, 2014–2026. They’re looking east (from India to China) rather than inland.

* The Council on Foreign Relations hosted a discussion with the authors of a book about China’s thirst for resources, while the London-based Chatham House ponders reforms announced in the recent Third Plenum in the video below. Christopher Hughes from the London School of Economics thinks that China is deliberately fueling a pre-war crisis mentality, starting with its education system. Whether China will get into a war, deliberately or by miscalculation, will have a lot to do with domestic concerns and the Communist Party’s attempts to maintain its grip on the country. To make sense of China’s growth model, its limits, and the likely impact of these reforms, DID highly recommends reading Michael Pettis.

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