NSA Euro Data Collection Flows Back to Local Deals, But Wait There’s More
Le Monde somewhat backtracked [in French] yesterday on its accusations that the NSA had conducted mass data collection in France. On Monday an article in the German press claimed there was a deal in place between US and French authorities. This was not only asserted by NSA director Gal Keith Alexander during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, but Le Monde then got confirmation from an unnamed high-ranking French intelligence officer that the DGSE (roughly, France’s CIA) had indeed established a data-sharing protocol with NSA at the end of 2011. However another official denied that DGSE could/would transfer as high a volume of data as was reportedly collected by their American counterparts.
Treat, or trick? Both, it seems. The key question is whether the machines are color – and whether they contain a widespread anti-feature that few people know about.
At the end of October 2013, Army Contracting Command in Fort Huachuca, AZ issued a $498 million firm-fixed-price, multiple award task order contract to provide the Army with commercial-off-the-shelf “multi-functional devices” (all-in-one printer, fax. etc.), associated refills, and related services. “Equipment under this program will be available for lease or purchase, and shall be compliant with current Army security standards.”
Breaking into the American defense market can be lucrative, but it can be scary for firms based outside the USA. At AUSA 2013, DID Editor Joe Katzman sat down with RAFAEL’s consultant Lt. Gen. William H. Forster, PhD (ret.), and other RAFAEL personnel, to discuss some of the reasons for their success with products as diverse as the LITENING surveillance and targeting pod for jets, and the door-busting SIMON/GREM grenade.
Rather than present the interviews and discussions verbatim, we’ll focus on key takeaways.
HIMARS is designed to be a more transportable counterpart to the tracked M270 MLRS system that can roll off a C-130 to deliver long-range artillery support. The HIMARS systems will complement Singapore’s own air-transportable Pegasus semi-mobile 155mm howitzers, providing longer range precision strike just as they complement the USMC’s M777A2 howitzers. But the 2007 request was just the beginning.
Pentagon contracts occasionally refer to the Global Broadcast Services (GBS), a system linked to the Wideband SATCOM program. A variant was first fielded in Bosnia during 1996, and special nodes were also set up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It sounds almost like a form of global satellite TV – which is close, but not quite right. GBS is not intended to replace existing MILSATCOM (MILitary SATellite COMmunications) systems in any way. Instead, GBS uses a form of “push and store” to distribute high-bandwidth information for local relay, thereby saving critical two-way military satellite communications systems from having to handle every field request.
The other thing that makes GBS so attractive is the ability to provide high-volume data directly into 18-inch antennas, allowing streaming to and storage in devices that can move with units in the field. The GBS “pushes” a high volume of packaged data to these widely dispersed, low-cost receive terminals, whose function resembles the set-top smart cable TV storage box or TiVO used at home.
Intelligence oversight is likely to be one of the points of contention as the Senate attempts to finalize its FY14 defense authorization bill.
Revenue Down, Profit Up, Cost Pinching
Harris Corporation reported Q1 FY14 sales down 5.5% to $1.19B. Among their 3 divisions, Government Communications Systems lost the most ground. Still, they’re more profitable than a year ago thanks to some restructuring. Financial statements [PDF].
The US Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will stop printing lithographic nautical charts, effective April 2014. They still offer print-on-demand, and have started a trial with PDF downloads.
In December 2006, Australia bought a new tactical UAV to go with the Israeli Skylark mini-UAV. Australian Minister of Defence Senator Hill said the Government had agreed to the A$ 145 million (USD $109 million) UAV project to provide its Army with a high precision day and night surveillance and targeting capability.
The initial winner was IAI’s short-range I-View Mk. 250 UAV, but that didn’t last. Issues with the platform led to contract cancellation, and the use of leased solutions as interim options on the front lines. JP129 didn’t go away, though. Australia was still interested in owning a tactical UAV solution, and events in Afghanistan upped the urgency level. Finally, an August 2010 deal got them their JP129 UAVs.
Winter slows down combat in Afghanistan, and ISAF Commander General Dunford sounds rather optimistic about how the 2013 fighting season unfolded, but he recognizes that “[m]uch work remains to be done in developing the institutions, systems, and processes necessary to sustain a modern, professional army and police force.”
When a military family is moved abroad, what happens to their cars? That just one of the private vehicle dilemmas confronting the US military on a regular basis, as approximately 650,000 service members, family members, and civilian employees are moved each year within and beyond the USA.
American Auto Logistics (AAL) in Park Ridge, NJ operates 40 vehicle process centers and 8 long-term storage facilities in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. AAL performs logistics functions required to move privately-owned vehicles belonging to US military members from the USA to destinations OCONUS (Outside the CONtinental United States). These functions include processing, booking and shipment via GDS ocean carriers; customs inspections and agriculture clearances; and drayage and storage of the vehicles. Contracts from 2003 include:
According to El Mundo [in Spanish], the NSA proceeded in Spain to the same sort of spying denounced by France and Germany last week.
Meanwhile the Süddeutsche Zeitung claims [in German] that not only the French government knew of at least some of the NSA’s activities, but they even had a partnership in place with the Five Eyes countries through a program dubbed “Lustre”. In a TV interview with TV5 [in French] on Sunday, Foreign Trade minister Nicole Brick refreshingly dropped the pretense that France is neither spying nor aware that its allies do so too.