Former National Security Council (NSC) non-proliferation staffer and potential Pentagon AT&L advisor Jofi Joseph isn’t the first person to be undone by social media, and he won’t be the last. The inconvenient truth is that social media security isn’t even close to the main takeaway from this episode.
Our advice re: social media still stands, but we should begin by acknowledging that Twitter just did the US government a big favor…
Congressional leaders are signaling a more realistic stance as they’re about to restart budget negotiations next week. They are shrugging off any sort of ambitious “grand bargain” deal, and may instead be content to tinker at the edges, at least until after next year’s mid-term elections. Most Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter to the House and Senate Budget chairs urging them to put back defense spending above sequestration levels. Republicans have some amount of leverage as Democrats would like to roll back sequestration, but there’s only so much they’ll get out of that bargaining chip in the absence of higher taxes.
The rise of modern terrorism, sharply increasing costs to recruit and equip professional soldiers, and issues of energy security, are forcing 2 imperatives on modern armies. Modern militaries need to be able to watch wide areas for very long periods of time. Not just minutes, or even hours any more, but days if necessary. The second imperative, beyond the need for that persistent, unblinking stare up high in the air, is the need to field aerial platforms whose operating costs won’t bankrupt the budget.
These pressures are forcing an eventual convergence toward very long endurance, low operating cost platforms. Many are lighter-than-air vehicles or hybrid airships, whose technologies have advanced to make them safe and militarily useful again. On the ground near military bases, Raytheon’s RAID program fielded aerostats, and then surveillance towers. Lockheed Martin has also fielded tethered aerostats: TARS along the USA’s southern border, and PTDS aerostats on the front lines. The same trend can be observed in places like Thailand and in Israel; and Israeli experience has led to export orders in Mexico and India. At a higher technical level, Raytheon’s large JLENS aerostats are set to play a major role in American aerial awareness and cruise missile defense, and a huge ground and air scanning ISIS radar is under development under a DARPA project, to pair with Lockheed Martin’s fully mobile High Altitude Airship.
The Army’s Long-Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) project fitted in between RAID and HAA/ISIS, in order to give that service mobile, affordable, very long term surveillance in uncontested airspace. Its technologies and flight data may eventually wind up playing a role in other projects. This would help the Army recoup some of its investment, as it sold its prototype back to its manufacturer in the fall of 2013, for the price of a luxury car.
General Dynamics’ Q3 revenue was down by 1.7% to $7.8B. Information systems sales break from the trend with a 4.4% increase, but even combined with healthy aerospace gains, they can’t quite compensate for Combat Systems shrinking to become the company’s smallest division by revenue for the quarter and year to date. Total backlog stands at $47.9B (83% funded), 6.8% lower than a year ago. Press release.
What do a fresh look at what “logistics” means, the ongoing electronics revolution, new manufacturing techniques, and the social norms and movements arising from these trends, have in common? Within the US Army, the answer is the Rapid Equipping Force’s new Expeditionary Lab (“Ex Lab”), which incorporates and fosters those trends on the front lines of combat.
The US Army’s Retrograde, Reset, Redeployment, Redistribution, and Disposal (R4D or “Afghan retrograde”) is a huge effort, moving an estimated $17 billion of good out of country at a cost of around $6 billion. Some of its successes, and failings, offer lessons that apply much further down the chain of service, and in the commercial world.
The Congressional Budget Office’s report [PDF] on the the Navy’s 2014-43 shipbuilding plan [PDF] notes that it is slightly less money-hungry than the previous year’s 30-year plan, but the plan remains about “one-third higher than the funding amounts that the Navy has received in recent decades.” The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces will hear its author Eric J. Labs at its hearing today (2pm ET). Ronald O’Rourke, the lead naval analyst at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), will be there too, here’s his latest meta report [PDF] on the plan. (All these documents and their predecessors are in our Google Drive repository.)
US Army Secretary John McHugh told attendees of the AUSA annual meeting that GCV and networking count among the service’s priorities, but given the current budget trajectory, some programs will have to be delayed by 4 years or more or just cancelled.
How the continuing resolution and sequestration are affecting acquisition plans is on the agenda of the House Armed Services Committee tomorrow. They will also review the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan (or wishful thinking, depending on how you look at it). Within that plan, fully funding 12 new ballistic missile submarines, with production starting early next decade, is a very expensive top priority for the Navy.
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded a $965K contract to Lockheed Martin for a trade study covering “Phase 0” of the High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW). Raytheon received what looks like a similar award a month ago. Back in May the Air Force cancelled a demonstration requirement they had been working on for about a year. The Air Force and the agency are consolidating their hypersonic efforts and aiming for more reachable goals than FALCON and its Hypersonic Technology Vehicle.
DID Editor Joe Katzman is on-site at AUSA 2013 in Washington, DC. I have a number of appointments already set up, but DID’s team are always interested in meeting our readers, and all of the faces we’d otherwise “see” only via emails.
DID is especially interested in talking to people who have wisdom and stories to share about the human side of implementing Performance-Based Logistics. How do management styles, work structures, team-building, incentives et. al. need to change, in order to make PBL successful? Other topics of especial interest include the use of new manufacturing technologies, and cybersecurity.