The US Navy’s NAVSEA command published the 2nd edition [PDF] of its 2013-18 business plan, whose 1st version was released in October last year. The main addition is the appearance of cybersecurity among mission priorities. NAVSEA accounts for about a quarter of the Navy’s budget, and at almost $30B, it is not very far in size from the entire Departments of Justice or Energy.
The US State Department is on email lockdown [AP] after it found it was possibly the object of a hacker attack that took place last month at the same time [Defense One] as an infiltration of a White House system.
Novetta, an analytics firm, released a report [PDF] on a coordinated effort with other security firms to mitigate the threat posed by “Axiom”, a group whose actions align well with China’s strategic interests.
US Defense Secretary Hagel announced the “Defense Innovation Initiative” that his deputy Bob Work will head, to try and accelerate innovation throughout the department. Maybe start by adopting 21st century information sharing tools and workflows, instead of issuing memos [PDF] as stamped printouts that are then scanned as image PDFs? Bob’s got his Work cut out for him.
Sikorsky’s demurral in Poland’s $3 billion utility helicopter competition comes as a bit of a shock. Sikorsky has deep roots in Poland, and their PZL Mielec subsidiary has served as the S-70i Black Hawk helicopter’s global center for several years now, selling an international export variant of the UH-60 to customers from Colombia to Saudi Arabia and beyond. As the only competitor with proven helicopters in all roles and a deep industrial relationship, it was hard not to see them as the favorite.
The whole episode serves as a fine reminder that key information like full RFP specifics and relationship dynamics is often privately-held. Sikorsky’s pullout leaves Poland with an arguably riskier set of acquisition choices, and a significant industrial question.
Russian President Putin is bracing [FT] for a “catastrophic” slump in oil prices as he arrived at this year’s G20 summit in Australia. 4 Russian naval vessels are also on their way to Australia, which is Putin’s answer to Tony Abbott’s shirtfronting posture [Guardian]. Britain’s prime minister Cameron also denounced [The Independent] Russia’s “bullying.”
The New York Times reports how Eastern Ukraine is emptying out as Russia renews its covert war activities in the region.
“Russian behaviour is not only aimed at realising its immediate military goals in the Donbass, which, if achieved, would ‘freeze’ the conflict. Constant military threat and escalation is a means to undermine Ukraine as a state.”
Who would head Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov was hanging on a lawsuit, and the final verdict was announced earlier this week. The administrative court of appeals confirmed an earlier decision by a district court in Kiev, which had overturned Sergii Merenkov’s appointment as Deputy President, and made Dmytro Kiva Antonov’s “only legal leader” despite an order from the Ministry of Industrial Policy to dismiss Kiva. This is the end of the appeal process, leaving Kiva in charge.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force set up its 1st F-35 squadron, but it will be operating in the US until at least 2019.
The White House finally withdrew [Navy Times] the nomination of Jo Ann Rooney as the US Navy’s Undersecretary, after a year in limbo [Next Navy]. The Administration will have to nominate people whose qualifications don’t seem such a stretch for the job [CDR Salamander] if they want confirmations to stand a chance through a Senate (most likely) counting at least 53 Republicans.
Senator John McCain [R-AZ] will prioritize [Defense News] repealing sequestration and going after cost overruns, once he’s chairman of the Armed Services Committee early next year. As the Avascent consultancy noted last week, McCain is a vocal critic of the F-35 and LCS programs, so the looming SSC/LCS decision for one will no doubt come under heavy scrutiny.
The Pentagon’s Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (DPAP) released data on acquisition competition late last month showing that DoD slighly exceeded its goal to compete 58% of FY14 procurement. But many of the Navy and Air Force’s large acquisitions – especially aircraft – remain sole sourced, with NAVAIR and AFMC‘s procurement reaching under 23% and 36% competed respectively. PDF | XLS.
In November 2012, Peru signed a $200 million contract with South Korea for turboprop trainers and light attack aircraft. The deal involves 10 of its KT-1 trainers, which have also been exported to Turkey and Indonesia, and 10 KA-1 armed counterinsurgency variants. Korea Aerospace Industries will ship 4 of the planes from South Korea, with the rest being assembled from KAI kits in Peru.
The same “value positioning” model that made items like Korea’s Hyundai cars a success is also at work in the global defense sector. It’s time for competitors to take note, because that model is starting to rack up steady wins.
AFP writes that according to NATO Russian columns including tanks, artillery and infantry vehicles have been entering eastern Ukraine, in line with earlier reports from other sources such as Reuters. Artillery strikes have been reported [WSJ video] in Donetsk.
Popular Mechanics paid a visit to Polish F-16 pilots stationed at Lask AFB. They’re concerned by Russia’s fielding of new aircraft in large quantities.
On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, in 1918, the guns ceased. This day is honored all over the world, albeit in different ways. It is honored here, and we will not be publishing today. Instead, we have a quick backgrounder, a very personal essay from my colleague, and The Last Post played by… Mark Knopfler.
During Remembrance Day, the British Commonwealth countries remember those who came before, and those who came after, and all who have given in their nation’s service. John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” is a common accompaniment at ceremonies, where the wearing of poppies is customary (on the left lapel, or as close to the heart as possible). The poppies are sold as a means of support by organizations like the Royal British Legion, Royal Canadian Legion, et. al.
Americans celebrate it as Veteran’s Day, which differs from other countries around the world in that it honors military service generally, instead of focusing only on those who gave their lives. That purpose happens earlier in the year for Americans, on Memorial Day.
After a decade and more of non-stop conflict, these days have taken on a far more personal meaning to a new global generation of current and former military personnel.
Armistice: A Personal Remembrance
My colleague Olivier Travers sent this to me as an email in November 2011. This is the public version.
Some personal history. My great-grandfathers fought WWI. My two grandfathers fought WWII in the Somme for one (like his father before him), North Africa and Monte Cassino for the other. They came back and got kids, but were broken inside. The house in Lorraine where my mother and her siblings grew up is 30 miles south east of Verdun. Drive a little north and you find what used to be whole villages where all that is left is rolling hills, moon landscapes but hey at least grass is growing again. The heavy metal pollution will take 10,000 years to decay. The government left entrance and exit signs on the roads, so these places don’t go entirely forgotten.
Almost a century later, people in the region still dig out unexploded ordnance.
I’m the 5th generation in a row to have worn a uniform in the family. Thankfully, my father and I are the two lucky chaps who weren’t shot at, unlike our forefathers in 1870, 1914, 1939 (leaving aside my grandfather’s 2 years in Indochina since that one was a war of choice). My mother was born in Metz two years after we got it back from the Germans. On my father’s side, they probably fought the French too before Savoie was annexed in 1860, since they liked to invade us a couple times a century.
Anyway, the two sides of my family have been living for centuries in the buffer zone between France and its competitors to the East. Pretty much an ongoing stream of the worst human butchery. It’s in the history of the soil, cities and people more than, fortunately, most other places on earth.
The lyrics of the French national anthem are telling. In a different context from how the Canadian-born know this phrase:
“Je me souviens.”
The Last Post
Traditionally played on this day. Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler, who also has a song called “Remembrance Day,” did this as part of The UK government-sponsored Last Post Project, which will continue until Nov 18/14.
We hope our readers have a meaningful day this Tuesday at the commemorative event of their choice.
India’s Prime Minister Modi expanded his cabinet [Reuters] yesterday and finally appointed a dedicated defense minister in the person of Manohar Parrikar, a former Chief Minister in the southern state of Goa whom the Economic Times describes as a “man with impeccable integrity.” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had managed both ministries since Modi won the general election 6 months ago. DNA summarizes the top challenges facing Parrikar, and that’s an overflowing plate.
Xi and Abe finally met under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a Star Trek convention for regional leaders, but their first handshake was ice cold [Bloomberg video] in a vivid illustration of the tensions between China and Japan. The pictures showing Presidents Obama and Xi together looks warmer, but the FT, Guardian or NYT all conclude that Xi will consider post-midterms Obama as a spent force. The official multilateral agenda in the region is likely to be contained to economic and administrative matters.
ISIS is starting to suffer [AP] setbacks [NYT] in Iraq and Syria. Killing their momentum might go some way to dispel their mystique and make it harder for them to recruit and motivate jihadists. But in August during the battle for control of the Mosul dam they’ve shown they were willing to remain mobile rather than stand ground they couldn’t keep.
The Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) is on their way back to Iraq [Defense One], as insurgents continue to make heavy use of roadside bomb attacks.
The New York Times reported in detail last month how US troops were exposed to old chemical weapons in Iraq between 2004 and 2011, but didn’t receive adequate care. This has led the Pentagon to acknowledge that more than 600 people were exposed to chemicals during that campaign.
Egypt awarded a 2nd contract to Swiftships Shipbuilding for 6 35m patrol boats, according to the company. They’re very similar to the ships operated by Iraq. Research firm Business Monitor International projects swift growth in Egypt’s military spending, but one wonders where the money is supposed to come from.