* Non-profit Transparency International asserts [PDF] that a vast majority of countries exert little, if any, political oversight of defense policy or scrutiny of defense procurement. Only Australia and Germany are ranked as at “very low risk” of defense-related corruption, followed by 7 low-risk countries including the US and the UK. Unsurprisingly Saudi Arabia is the worst-ranking country among major arms importers.
* The Peter G. Peterson Foundation thinks the recent legislation passed in the US to avoid the fiscal cliff “does not come close to solving longer-run structural deficits, nor does it yield significant improvements to our 10-year budget outlook.” Even sequestration – which looks more likely each day – would only buy a few more years. Only taming healthcare costs can put the federal debt back to a sustainable course.
* US Undersecretary of Defense Ash Carter recently acknowledged in an interview with Defense News that the Pentagon and the services had been quietly working on sequestration planning for a while (despite their repeated claims to the contrary) in order to avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the end it looks like pretending to be playing ostrich did not make a difference, but this explains why they do have some amount of guidance ready, like this memo and budget presentation [PDFs] from the Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations (via Navy Times).
* And it’s not just sequestration, but being sandwiched between it and the current continuing resolution (CR). U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is afraid a lengthening of the CR may hit them hard.
* Northrop Grumman’s sales decreased by 4.5% to $25.2B in 2012. Aerospace remained flat while the other divisions lost 5% to 7% of their topline, mirroring the relative segment performance of other prime contractors. The total backlog gained 3.3% to $40.8B, 63% of which is funded.
* The recent Industry Day on F-35 sustainment (STS / support equipment / supply chain management / ALIS) leaves many critical questions open, since the acquisition strategy has not been determined yet. That leaves the whole timeline unknown: RFP release, time granted to answer, award date, and date to start work. It also remains to be settled whether there will be one or several solicitations.
* The UK is sending 300+ troops to Mali and neighboring countries, a change of tune in just days.
* ST Marine was awarded a contract by Singapore to replace 8 Fearless-class patrol vessels which the shipbuilder had built in the 90s. Delivery expected from 2016.
* US Army Sgt Brendan Marrocco lost his four limbs in a 2009 IED explosion in Iraq. After countless operations, his life seems back on track with an accessible home donated by charities, and now one of the first dual arm transplants performed in the US. The first such procedure took place in Germany in 2008 followed with a reportedly relatively quick recovery, but nerve regrowth, leading hopefully to sensory and functional recovery, can take years.