Base infrastructure contracts are a quietly substantial portion of defense spending in any country, including the USA. Which is why DID covers them on a semi-regular basis, and notes trends in key areas, even though this coverage are only a fraction of the contracts issued. A December 2007 announcement by the US Army has significant implications for base infrastructure projects at a number of locations, however, as the push to grow the US Army by 74,200 troops and 6 brigade combat teams (BCTs)/ 8 support brigades continues, and so does partial relocation of US troops deployed abroad. A June 2009 announcement cut the number of new BCTs in half to 3, and will affect construction and stationing on 3 important Army bases.
The following lists offer updated breakdowns of the associated relocations and new unit stand-ups, first by timeline, and second by location:
Defense Industry Daily came across 3 snapshots in recent months that illustrate the changing nature of the front-line information war, and of the environment in which industry and government must operate. We’ve now added a 4th.
These 4 examples have broad reach, from tactical reconnaissance and information warfare, to strategic reconnaissance, to front-line “public diplomacy,” to the halls of politics and power…
1. Tactical: You’re on Candid Cellphone!
2. Google Earth is Watching You… as You Watch Others [NEW]
3. From Front-Line Transparency to Policy Debates: US Navy Blogs
4. Informed Reporters Who Work from Home: The US V.A. Department Experience
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:
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
“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.”