In mid-June, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta took a seat in front of the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee and warned of the dangers of large, across-the-board reductions in national military spending. Panetta called such cuts “a disaster” that would severely compromise American security.
The Secretary is right. Even in times of severe fiscal challenges, the government needs to keep financing military development programs that genuinely enhance the safety and efficacy of our American soldiers. Blind penny-pinching puts their lives at risk. Officials should identify particularly promising projects and focus their dollars on them. Keep reading →
As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: How much will it really cost to shut down the Army’s ill-fated Future Combat Systems program? Up to $1.5 billion, potentially three times the “special termination cost” reported by Inside Defense on Friday. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: An Army general was named Friday to head plans and policy at Cyber Command, based at Fort Meade, Maryland.
Maj. Gen. Jennifer Napper is moving from Fort Huachuca, where she headed Army Network Enterprise Technology Command, to Fort Meade, where she’ll be the director of plans and policy — staff section J-5 — for the inter-service Cyber Command. At Army NetCom, Napper helped consolidate the Army’s scattered email systems to a centralized “cloud” service called Enterprise Email, run by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA). Congress had ordered a halt to the migration over cost concerns but allowed it to resume in March. The outward and visible manifestation of this massive IT project has been the replacement of “@army.mil” addresses with “@mail.mil” ones. The deeper drivers, though, are cost savings and better security — the latter a particularly crucial issue in Napper’s new job at CyberCom. Keep reading →
On one side, Army leaders talk of hybrid threats, whose blend of guerrilla tactics and high-tech weapons pose the greatest plausible threat on land, now that Soviet-style tank armies are extinct and the nation has largely sworn off large-scale counterinsurgency. On the other, Air Force and Navy leaders speak of AirSea Battle as a way to coordinate their expensive hardware in a high-tech war with regional powers like China or Iran. Keep reading →
Navy aviators from Lt. Ben Kohlmann’s squadron flaunt a US flag over Afghanistan.
The insurgency is coming home. As the military winds down its post-9/11 deployments overseas, a generation of young officers used to urgent wartime innovation are starting to spend more time in the bureaucratic routine of stateside bases, and they don’t like it. They are also increasingly willing to challenge their elders, and, as digital natives, they’re used to going online to bypass clogged formal channels and get the information that they need from peers: Witness the rise of sites like Company Command, now officially adopted by the Army, or Small Wars Journal, where junior officers shared new ideas on how to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq often faster than official institutions could adapt. So now, as that innovation generation turns its sights on the post-war world, one young Navy lieutenant, home from flying Super Hornets over Afghanistan, is launching a network to connect up-and-coming officers with private-sector entrepreneurs. Keep reading →
More missions, less money: That’s the dilemma the U.S. Army faces as it looks beyond Afghanistan. The service is certainly grateful that the all-consuming commitments of the last decade are finally winding down, but it’s still struggling to shift gears on a shrinking budget. After ten years of optimizing itself for protracted counterinsurgency – a mission explicitly disavowed by the Administration’s new strategic guidance – the Army has to relearn how to do a wide range of missions all around the world, from advisor work to disaster relief to all-out combat against adversaries like Iran. With limited resources of money, manpower, and training time, there’s a big debate within the Army over how to prioritize. The intellectual storm center in this debate is the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where the service trains its next generation of generals. Keep reading →
With attacks on U.S. networks increasing even as both government and industry pour more money into defense, top officials told the U.S. Senate Tuesday that the nation needs a new approach – one that presumes an eternal state of cyber-war. “I think we’ve got the wrong mental model here,” said James Peery of the Energy Department’s Sandia National Laboratories. “We’ve got to go to a model where we assume our adversary is in our networks, on our machines, and we’ve got to operate anyway, we’ve got to protect the data anyway.” Keep reading →
There’s lots of happy-happy hype about “the cloud.” If you press the experts, though, they’ll admit that the savings from adopting cloud computing will come in the long run, not the near term, and only after a lot of hard work – including, when it comes to government, some all-out turf wars. Keep reading →
The Army’s attempt to reboot its troubled Ground Mobile Radio program has hit yet another snag, with accusations that the revised requirements omit a crucial capability to protect soldiers’ signals from enemy jamming and accidental interference. As a result, wrote defense analyst, consultant, and AOL contributor Loren Thompson in a recent blog post, “soldiers dependent on timely, life-saving information carried on battlefield radios might lose their connection during the most dangerous moments of a fight.” On background, however, Army officials insist the anti-jamming capability hasn’t gone away at all. (An official explanation is expected early this week). So who’s right?
Thompson says he got his information from two different companies competing for the contract, and an industry official from yet a third company confirmed it independently to Breaking Defense. The Army may think it’s got anti-jamming covered, Thompson told Breaking Defense, “but when [some of] the main competitors think the requirement is not in the solicitation, something has been lost in the communications here.” Keep reading →