“In the mid to late fifties, a fighter pilot could earn himself a quick forty bucks and perhaps a nice steak dinner in Vegas – not to mention everlasting renown, which is to fighter pilots what oxygen is to us lesser beings – by meeting over the Green Spot at thirty thousand feet and taking position just 500 feet behind an arrogant and unpleasant man with precisely zero air-to-air victories to his credit. From that perfect kill position, you would yell “Fight’s on!” and if that sitting duck in front of you was not on your tail with you in his gunsight in forty seconds flat then you would win the money, the dinner and best of all, the fame… To be challenged in such a manner is an irresistible red flag to men like this, and certainly no less of one because the challenger was a rude, loud, irreverent braggart who had never been victorious in actual air-to-air combat. And yet that forty dollars went uncollected, uncollected for many years against scores of the best fighter pilots in the world.
Anything that is used, wears out. With civil infrastructure projects in high demand in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world, America’s military construction equipment is seeing a lot of wear. Combat engineering is a critical competency for counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations in particular, especially if good tactical principles are being followed with forward-based units embedded among the civilian population, key checkpoints set up and fortified, et. al.
Caterpillar, Inc., Peoria, IL recently received a $20 million firm-fixed price contract for a service life extension program (SLEP) for selected Caterpillar construction equipment. Work will be performed at Caterpillar dealers stateside and overseas, and is expected to be complete by Dec 8/09. One bid was solicited on Dec 8/08 by US Army TACOM in Warren, MI (DAAE07-01-D-T030).
A similar contract was issued to Caterpillar Defense and Federal Products in February 2007, within this same contract vehicle. It was described as a delivery order amount of $22.5 million as part of a $143.2 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee SLEP contract initiated on Aug 7/2000.
In “Retired RAAF Vice-Marshal: Abandon F-35, Buy F-22s,” DID covered the controversy over the F-35A Lightning II’s suitability for Australia’s strategic needs, amidst a flurry of criticism from opposition party critics, the media, and even retired military officials. Australia’s Liberal Party government under Prime Minister John Howard went ahead and signed the F-35 Production MoU in November 2006, which doesn’t commit them to buy the aircraft just yet. Then it went ahead and submitted a USD $3.1+ billion order without a competition process for 24 Super Hornets, in order to address Australia’s air capability gap until the F-35As arrive.
In November 2007, Australia elected the Labor Party to government, though the Liberal Party still holds a balance of power in the Senate. Now, the rumblings of opposition have turned into a formal review – and everything appears to be up for grabs, including the F/A-18F contract, Australia’s F-35 buy, and a potential request for an export version of the F-22 Raptor. The review will be conducted in two stages…
“The characteristics of Small Wars have evolved since the Banana Wars and Gunboat Diplomacy. War is never purely military, but today’s Small Wars are even less pure with the greater inter-connectedness of the 21st century. Their conduct typically involves the projection and employment of the full spectrum of national and coalition power by a broad community of practitioners. The military is still generally the biggest part of the pack, but there a lot of other wolves. The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.” — Small Wars Journal
“The SWJ is one of the finest resources on the Internet for the student of counterinsurgency, and has attracted… a who’s who of the debate on counterinsurgency theory, including Kilcullen, Nagl, Frank Hoffman, Malcom Nance, Bing West and Lt. Col. Paul Yingling. The addition of SWJ contributors in recent months is especially impressive. For example, following his controversial May 2007 Armed Forces Journal essay, “A failure in generalÂ¬ship,” Yingling joined the SWJ blog as a contributor to address some of the response his article had received… The site also offers the digital SWJ Magazine, which principally pubÂ¬lishes articles by the captains and majors who are fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and provides another excellent venue for expanding and enhancing the debate on the war. After so many articles about how the milblogging phenomenon has threatened chains of command, engendered violations of soldiers’ civil liberties and fueled a digital propaganda war, it is refreshing to note that the [digital medium] can also serve as a virtual graduate seminar for the practitioners of war.”
A $450 million, 5-year contract announced by the Pentagon on August 31, 2006 was issued for activation in response to “natural disasters, humanitarian efforts, contingencies and other requirements (i.e. due to non-performance by an incumbent contractor or instances where there is an unanticipated lapse in service) at various locations (including remote locations) throughout the world.”
The winner was Contingency Response Services LLC – a partnership of DynCorp International; Parsons Global Services Inc in Pasadena, CA; and PWC Logistics in Safat, Kuwait. Since that date, they seem to be picking up contracts in the Philippines, as well as one in the USA. As it happens, US SOCOM’s low-profile activities in the Philippines include a lot of community support work as part of their mission. Read “Imperial Grunts” to understand how and why, or delve into the work of Kilcullen and some of the other self-titled “Jedi Knights” of US counterinsurgency theory [New Yorker article: “The Master Plan” | front lines thoughts | Grim’s “Disaggregation & the Gravity Well” | Kilcullen writes on Small Wars Journal blog].
Techno-Sciences Inc. in Beltsville, MD received an $11 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, fixed-price contract for technical support to the Malaysian Integrated Maritime Surveillance System (IMSS) to include upgrades to a command center and coastal surveillance stations in Malaysia. Work will be performed in Beltsville, Maryland (50%), and at sites throughout Malaysia (50%), and is expected to be completed September 2009. This contract was awarded as a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program, Phase 3 follow-on contract, under the authority of 10 U.S.C. 2301-c-5. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego, CA issued the contract (N66001-07-C-0146).
Readers who have been paying attention may have noted another surveillance contract aimed at monitoring a strategic waterway: Yemen’s coastal radar set that will watch the Horn of Africa and gateway to the Suez Canal. Malaysia stands astride the Straits of Malacca, arguably the world’s business and most critical shipping lane with some piracy and terrorism issues all its own. The US Navy is preparing to unveil a new Maritime Strategy in October 2007, and these kinds of quiet “Maritime Domain Awareness” contracts fit neatly with concepts like CNO (and soon CJCS) Mike Mullen’s concept of the “1,000 ship navy” [article | quotes], where vessels and related naval assets from different countries that work together to keep order on the high seas.
Iraqi Prime Minsiter Maliki called Sunday’s shooting is the 7th “troubling incident” involving Blackwater. On the other hand, the Shia police force’s attempt to block a reinforcement convoy, and known police infiltration by terrorists loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr, does make one wonder. Meanwhile, there are wider repercussions. The U.S. embassy in Iraq has temporarily banned diplomatic convoy movements outside the international zone until this situation is resolved. In addition, the U.S. and Iraqi governments are setting up a joint commission to examine the role of private security companies operating in Iraq.
Militaries around the world are moving to modernize and transform themselves to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Our mission is to deliver a monthly cross-section of relevant, on-target stories, news, and analysis that will help experts and interested laypeople alike stay up to speed on key military developments and issues as we head into the USA’s Memorial Day weekend. Stories are broken down by military category and presented as fast bullet points that orient you quickly, with accompanying links if you wish to pursue more in-depth treatments.
This monthly briefing comes from a team a team that includes professional publications Defense Industry Daily and Aviation Week & Space Technology, with Winds of Change.NET acting as the briefing’s “neutral ground.”
Some of This Month’s Targets of Opportunity Include: Upgraded A-10s; Orbital Express; Hypersonics; Pod people; nEUROns; AARGMs, Spikes, & MOPs; Project Sandblaster; Compound helicopters; Stealth going mainstream; Routers in space; UAV swarms; Land Warrior RIP, Counter-sniper systems; Mine-protected vehicles go big; Trophy ready in Israel – or how about a net instead; Border robots with guns; Non-lethal weapons; UCAVs from carriers; the ASDS fiasco; Firing NEMO; Virginia’s new nose; Intercontinental cans of whup-ass; Paying for jets, not parts; EFP land mines – and the response; Inventory outsourcing in US military; Medical research; Bulgarian telemedicine; Privatized air tankers? Afghanistan doctrine; Canada’s tank lesson in Afghanistan; 6-Day Satellites; Transformation & Air Power; Lebanon post-mortems; Medals for UAV crews? And much, much more…!
Underneath procurement decisions, however, lie the more fundamental issues of doctrine and threat assessments. The one cannot be understood without the other, and so it’s worth paying attention to the revised airpower doctrine Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd unveiled during the recent Chief of Air Force Conference in Melbourne, Australia. See release | “AAP 1000 – Fundamentals of Australian Aerospace Power, 4th edition” documents. On the same day, Liberal Party defence minister Dr. Brendan Nelson’s offered a speech to that same conference re: “Australia’s Future Air Power.”
Back on March 26, 2007, DID noted that an assessment of potential threats, including capability projections for expected armaments in the region given current trends, were a critical component of the most-referenced independent analysis by by Air Power Australia [6.9MB, PDF format], and heavily shaped their differing recommendations. We asked our Australian readers to help finding documents that offered this element for the current Australian Liberal Party/DoD position, and received some assistance in April 2006. A recent speech by the Chief Of The Defence Force, which accompanies the new DoD document “Joint Operations for the 21st Century,” adds more background – but may not fully agree with some earlier statements. Relevant transcript/documents can be found at…