US Diplomacy Trickles Down on Defense Options, Or Lack Thereof
Flip sides of the COIN
- Just hours after US Secretary of State John Kerry had announced a deal had been reached, Afghan President Hamid Karzai postponed the signing of a security agreement with the US until after next April’s elections. American officials were still recently hoping for a very rapid conclusion to these negotiations. Here’s the predecisional draft [PDF], and a letter [PDF] sent by President Obama to Karzai. Much is at stake.
- Former US general and Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry says COIN was a failure there. Military.com takes up the debate, and notes other points of view from McChrystal et. al. Petraeus himself takes up that side in his own Foreign Policy article.
- A report by the Chatham House think tank shares the blame for Britain’s military difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan beyond just politicians, and recommends a more formal approach to policy:
“Although in theory the British model could be flexible and fast-acting, it brought incoherence, inconsistency and opacity. It was not resilient enough to deal with the extraordinary pressures of the Iraq and Afghanistan crises. It contributed to a continuing breakdown of trust between politicians and senior military officers, and disunity and division of purpose within the government.
The ad hoc British approach to political-military relations contrasts strongly with US practice, which is based on a mixture of a formal legal framework, a lively public and specialist debate, and the continuing exercise of civilian authority over the armed forces, including through the dismissal of senior officers.”
Middle East US Exports: Not So Easy
- No movement from the UAE yet regarding more F-16 Desert Falcons, as “Smart Diplomacy’s” habit of alienating allies is creating some headwinds for US defense firms in their most important export market.
US Congressional Commission Worried About China
- The US-China Economic and Security Review commission submitted its 2013 report to Congress [PDF], concluding that “PLA modernization is altering the security balance in the Asia Pacific, challenging decades of U.S. military preeminence in the region.”
Fat Francis and Friends
- The NYT reports that Navy sailors and contracting officers had filed complains for the two years preceding a $200M contract award to Glenn Defense Marine Asia, in what investigators are saying is turning out to be an under-bidding/over-charging scheme.
- Note from DID: it is unclear where the $200M number reported by the NYT comes from, as our own review of contract actions involving the company (DUNS 894682517), as available in the FPDS-NG database, turns up a net total of $53M over the past 11 years (Excel spreadsheet). The largest contract vehicle, ID N4034511D0016 initiated on June 22, 2011 for husbanding services in South East Asia, has less than $11M obligated against it so far. This excludes the last 3 months as per FPDS rules on DoD’s contract flow, but that is presumably not a material difference since GMDA CEO Leonard Francis was arrested in mid-September. We haven’t seen the court documents reviewed by the New York Times so cannot explain the apparent discrepancy. Assuming data in FPDS-NG is accurate and thorough, a likely explanation is that the NYT is looking at the maximum value of the contract over its total lifetime. Half of GDMA’s $53M in contract actions, and most of contract N4034511D0016, were handled by the Navy’s Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) in Singapore.
- US Navy commander U.S. Jose Luis Sanchez, a former director of operations for Fleet Logistics Command in Singapore, made his first appearance in a San Diego federal courtroom yesterday, following his arrest [PDF] on Nov. 6.
- A year ago the Navy said it would review separate allegations that GDMA had dumped untreated waste from Navy vessels in the Subic Bay, which would have been a breach of contract. In February 2013 a commission in the Philippines’ Senate recommended administrative action against the company after investigating the dumping. GMDA was eventually required to stop the sea dumpings but has apparently never been sanctioned following the pollution complaint.
USAF Industry Day
- The Air Force’s RFCM Commando II program management office will host an industry day on Dec. 17/18 to discuss the design and fielding of the Radio Frequency Countermeasures System.
Future of UK Reserves
- After some concessions the UK government defeated opposition within its own parliamentarian majority to changes in army structure. The video below explains why there’s a controversy, as the government has aggressive reservist recruitment goals to make up for cuts in the regular troops: