Military, Veterans and Defense Industry Issues and Analysis


Another general commits career suicide with inopportune comments to a reporter as Army Major General Peter Fuller gets fired Friday.  Veteran unemployment went up again and the Senate takes on hiking the role of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to a member of the Joint Chiefs while the tech crowd is busy in town with DC Week 2011.


The week ahead:


Themes:  Folks are losing faith that the Supercommittee will pull off a grand bargain so expect to see movement in alternative measures to avoid the big sequestration.   It’s DC Week as well so lots of tech talk in Washington’s version of South-by-Southwest.



No major shows this week however the Dubai Airshow kicks off next week.


Congress:   The Senate is in session this week except for Friday, Veterans Day.  The House of Representatives is not in session but will conduct pro forma sessions and field hearings of interest listed below.


Senate Armed Services Committee-Hearing (9:30, Mon, 7 November)

Full committee hearing on the committee’s investigation into counterfeit electronic parts in the Defense Department supply chain.

Witnesses: Thomas Sharpe, vice president of the SMT Corporation and Liberty Component Services; Richard Hillman, managing director of the Government Accountability Office’s Forensic Audits and Investigative Service; Brian Toohey, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association; Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, director of the Missile Defense Agency; Vivek Kamath, vice president for supply chain operations at the Raytheon Company; and Ralph DeNino, vice president for corporate procurement at L-3 Communications

Location: G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee-Hearing (2:30, Wed, 9 November)

Full committee hearing on “Securing Our Nation’s Transportation System: Oversight of TSA’s Current Efforts.”

Witness: TSA Administrator John Pistole

Location: 253 Russell Senate Office Building

Senate Armed Services Committee-Hearing (9:30, Thurs, 10 November)

Full committee hearing on the whether the Chief, National Guard Bureau should be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Witnesses: Jeh Johnson, general counsel for the Defense Department; Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Raymond Odierno, chief of staff of the Army; Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations; Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps; Gen. Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the Air Force; and Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, testify

Location: G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee- Hearing (10:00, Thurs, 10 November)

Full committee hearing on “VA Mental Health Care: Addressing Wait Times and Access to Care.”

Witnesses: TBD

Location: 418 Russell Senate Office Building


House Small Business Committee – Field Hearing (10:00, Tues, 8 November)

Contracting and the Workforce Subcommittee field hearing on “Examining the Barriers for Small Business Contractors at the Defense Department.”

Witnesses: Robert Griffin, assistant commander for acquisition of the Navy Facilities Engineering Command; Jackie Robinson-Burnette, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers associate director of small business; John Caporal, secretary of the U.S. Air Force Small Business Programs Office; Bill Lynam, owner of Lynam Construction, Sumter, S.C.; William “Billy” Aycock, president of Aycock Construction LLC, Sumter, S.C.; and Scott Bellows, program manager, South Carolina PTAC, The Moore School of Business, Small Business Development Center, Columbia, S.C., testify

Location: Sumter County Council’s Chambers, 13 East Canal St., Sumter SC

Think tanks and other news events:


Digital Capital Week (DC Week 2011) (4-11 November)

DC Week is a week-long festival in the US capital focused on bringing together designers, developers, entrepreneurs and social innovators of all kinds in a series of parties, seminars and panel sessions in a host of venues around the city.  There are over 10,000 people signed up for this years events.


CSIS- Cyber Defense: International Cooperation and Deterrence (9:00, Mon, 7 November)

“As cybersecurity grows in importance for the international community, individual states and international organizations struggle to adapt existing legal norms and military doctrines to this ongoing change in the global security environment.  In recent years, the transatlantic community began to address these issues by making cybersecurity a critical pillar of the NATO security agenda.  Yet many questions still surround the concepts of cyber defense, deterrence, and collective defense in cyberspace.  Please join us to discuss the challenges and opportunities posed by the ideas of cyber deterrence and international cyber defense cooperation, their implications for the transatlantic security relationship, and their possible impact on relations between the alliance and non-NATO powers. We hope you will be able to join us for this timely and informative discussion.  Please RSVP to (RSVP needed)

Participants:  A host of notables including former Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn.

Location: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1800 K Street, NW, Washington DC, 20006

Hudson Institute- Defending Defense: America’s National Security Strategy and our Defense Budget (11:45, Wed, 9 November)

Please join Hudson Institute for an address by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) on the importance of maintaining our defense budget to national security strategy. The Deficit Reduction “Super Committee” is expected to soon release recommendations on reducing the budget of the federal government. By cutting defense spending, we may be endangering our national security. Senator Cornyn will argue that the defense strategy should drive defense spending, not the other way around.

Location: Betsy and Walter Stern Conference Center, Hudson Institute, 1015 15th St, NW, 6th floor, Washington D.C. 20005.

U.S Chamber of Commerce – 4th Annual Business Steps Up (9:00 AM, Thurs, 10 November)

In 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has expanded its efforts to lower unemployment among former service members and their spouses by partnering with Veteran Service Organizations, government agencies, and the business community to hold hiring fairs across the U.S. Please join us on November 10th as we reflect on our work from this year and we look ahead at our goals for 2012. As we have done each year with this event, we will continue to focus on the challenges that former service members face in their search for meaningful employment. Additionally, the U.S. Chamber will also begin a new tradition this year of recognizing specific businesses that have gone above and beyond to honor the sacrifices our military families make in their service to our nation.

Participants: Robert Gordon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy; Debbie Frett, CEO, Business and Professional Women’s Foundation; Michael Dakduk, Executive Director, Student Veterans of America; Peter Gaytan, Executive Director, Washington Office, American Legion; Lt. General Jack Stultz, Chief Army Reserve.

Location: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H Street, NW, Washington DC 20062


Capitol Communicators Group- Navigating PR around the Defense Budget Debate (12:00 PM, Thurs, 10 November)

As the deadline looms for the Super Committee to identify deficit reductions, the debate about potential defense budget cuts continues to grow. What is the impact on communications professionals who represent organizations where any decision will impact their futures?  Come hear from a reporter and a public affairs professional about this timely topic.

Participants: Marjorie Censer, Capital Business Writer, Washington Post and Fred Wellman, Founder and President, ScoutComms

Location: RFD Restaurant, 810 7th St, NW, Washington, D.C

Contact: Sign up on Event Brite


Major themes and issues from last week:


1) Veterans and Military Life Issues:  Interesting study out of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government on the power of letting a vet tell his story. A look at the growth of female veterans and the challenges for VA to deal with it and the new unemployment numbers were bad news for recent veterans.


2) Budget and Industry:  SecDef Panetta did some interviews last week where he lays out his red lines and the tough things that are still on the table for cuts.  The House took a look at reports of abuse of foreign workers by U.S. contractors and Army Secretary McHugh is saying ‘no’ to a version of the Humvee as an alternate for the new JLTV.


3) Communications and Social Media:  Another general officer gets burned for comments in the media this week with the firing of Major General Peter Fuller after chatting with Politico.  Interesting story from Kimberly Dozier on the CIA’s Open Source center and how they are plumbing social media to paint a picture of current events.


4) Other Stories of Interest:  Arlington National Cemetery seems to be on track to fixing the problems of the last two years.  There’s a nice profile of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Flournoy and a troubling tale from the LA Times on what went wrong in the military process that led to two Servicemembers being killed by a Predator in Afghanistan last spring.


ScoutComms Client News:


Understanding sacrifices for freedom

Jacqueline M. Hames, Soldiers Magazine

The Army’s official magazine has the story of our client National History Day’s remarkable ‘Sacrifice for Freedom’ program conducted last spring which saw 15 students and their teachers travel to Normandy, France for an in depth look at D-Day.  Sponsored by veteran and philanthropist Albert H. Small the program had them study a servicemember from their hometown who lost his life on D-Day and included VIP treatment in Washington, D.C. before heading over to walk in the footsteps of the greatest generation. Fascinating program.


ITT’s breakup

Marjorie Censer, Washington Post

ITT Exelis is officially a stand-alone company now after the prolonged break up of its former parent company ITT into three parts.  Tysons Corner based ITT Exelis has a diverse product line with everything from night vision goggles to counter-missile technology for aircraft.  The company stands up at a difficult time in the defense industry but expresses confidence that their products are both needed and secure going forward.  Congratulations on the new era for them.


Veterans and Military Issues:


Just by listening, civilians can help veterans heal

Paula J. Caplan, Washington Post

This is a fascinating piece written by a Harvard Kennedy School researcher who led a study where civilians simply asked on question to a veteran then gave them unequivocal attention while they told their stories.  They found that just listening to the warrior was hugely healing for them and informative for the civilian.  I was a skeptic at the opening paragraph but her case is convincing and ties into our experiences as well.  Sometimes, you just need to be able to express what you experienced without judgment– political, psychological or otherwise.  She makes a compelling case for just letting our veterans tell their story.

Women change face of combat, VA care

Jeanette Steele, San Diego Union-Tribune

This is a great piece looking at the challenges that VA has had to deal with due to the substantially larger role that women are playing in today’s wars through the lens of a group of female vets in San Diego.  In 2002 the La Jolla, California VA hospital had just 2,800 total female patients and today it has 8,900 making up 12% of the hospitals total population.  To make it more challenging women are now facing the same difficulties as male counterparts with PTSD and the sadly defined “military sexual trauma” as victims of their fellow Servicemembers.

As nation’s jobless rate dips, veterans’ unemployment rises for second straight month

Jason Ukman, Checkpoint Washington Blog, Washington Post

General unemployment was reported to have dropped one tenth of a percentage point to 9% this past month while the number of unemployed recent veterans went the opposite direction.  Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan measured as those who have left service since 2001, are facing a 12.1% jobless rate.  The numbers have fluctuated a lot which many attribute to rather small sample size used by the Department of Labor but it is apparent that the issue of new vet unemployment is continuing to be a problem for the nation.

Budget and Industry Issues:

Weighing Pentagon Cuts, Panetta Faces Deep Pressures

Thom Shanker and Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times

Secretary Panetta did a few interviews last week clearly with a host of target audiences in mind.  He is facing increasing pressure to have a plan if the Supercommittee fails to find agreement and the options aren’t pretty.  Here he states clearly that cyberdefense, unmanned aircract and Special Operations forces are basically off the table but they are about it including radical changes to the military’s health and retirement benefits plans.  SecDef has been very aggressive in trying to shape the budget battle since he took office and now with the clock ticking he isn’t backing down.

House panel hearing explores U.S. government contractors’ exploitation of workers overseas

Joe Davidson, Washington Post

The House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee held a hearing last Wednesday to address mostly journalism accounts of foreign workers allegedly being exploited by U.S. contractors in overseas locations.  The hearing seems to have been sparsely attended and only Congressmen Lankford and Connolly are listed as having been at the hearing where they united in outrage and reports of exploitation and failure to act. It’s a very serious issue but anecdotal evidence doesn’t necessarily paint the whole picture of what is done in combat theaters.  Many veterans will chuckle when they hear that witnesses were aghast to report that foreign workers are kept in barbed-wire compounds and fed in meager chow halls…which actually describes how our own Servicemembers live in the war zones.

McHugh Keeps JLTV Options Open, Except Humvees

Carlo Munoz, AOL Defense

During a meeting with defense writers on Wednesday Secretary of the Army John McHugh made it clear that he does not see the upgraded Humvee as an option to replace the JLTV proposals.  With an exclamation point he stated that the Army is done with the Humvee as it has done all it can with the vehicle and it’s time for a new truck.  While Congress may change his mind, for now SecArmy is going all in on a new platform for the future.

Communications and Social Media:


U.S. General fired from Afghan training job

Lolita Baldor, Associated Press

Army Major General Peter Fuller was promptly relieved of his duties as the number two leader in the command responsible for training the Afghan security forces after publication of an interview he conducted with Politico while visiting Washington Friday.  In the interview Fuller made a host of disparaging comments about the Afghan government from the competence of President Karzai to the disconnection from reality he sees in the Afghani military leadership.  On one side there is an outcry that he was punished for saying things that are true and on another he is being excoriated for speaking harshly of our allies in a war.  Either way another general officer has committed career suicide via the press.  Can’t help but wonder if he thought he was off the record or that the reporter would cover him and not report the blunt comments.  This is another cautionary tale for public affairs officers about knowing who your boss is talking to and ensuring he stays on message.

Original Article from Politico:

AP Exclusive: CIA following Twitter, Facebook

Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press

An anonymous facility in Northern Virginia is the home of the “vengeful librarians” known officially as the CIA’s Open Source Center where public news sources are melded with Facebook, Twitter and other social media posts to monitor the pulse of events around the world.  Kimberly has a fascinating, and first ever, look into this work that is used to augment classified intelligence sources with what is being said in the public sphere to paint a fuller picture of not just the occurrence of events like the Arab Spring revolts but the sentiments of those participating in them and the ebb and flow of the “streets”.  It isn’t nefarious in any way but does tell you how important it is for any organization to take these channels seriously as tools that are both reflective of the issues but also are helping drive them as well.

Other Items of Interest:

Arlington execs offer insights on reforms

Matthew Barakat, Associated Press

Arlington National Cemetery leaders gave Senator Claire McCaskill a tour of the cemetery and walked her through their efforts over the last year and demonstrated how far things have come since a series of administrative errors were discovered.  The Army now believes that while administrative issues remain they do have a full accounting of the graves and who is buried in each after painstaking accounting of every gravestone in the vast facility.  McCaskill expressed confidence that the Army is doing its job and has backed off her proposal to hand ANC to the Department of Veterans Affairs for management.


Michele Flournoy, Pentagon’s highest-ranking woman, is making her mark on foreign policy

Emily Wax, Washington Post

An interesting profile on the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, who was raised in Beverly Hills and came to the Pentagon by way of Harvard, Oxford and as a co-founder of the Center for a New American Security and now is constantly rumored to be a future SecDef.  Flournoy is highly regarded on both sides of the aisle and she has run her office professionally since the day she arrived.  Good read on the inside of Pentagon life.

Multiple missteps led to drone killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan

David Cloud and David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times

An in depth look at the complex and interesting system that has been developed to target enemy forces in Afghanistan using armed Predator UAV’s flown from Nevada and checked by analysts across the U.S. all urgently trying to answer the needs of a set of combat troops engaged in firefight half a world away.  In April a Marine and Navy Corpsman were killed when the system broke down and failed to identify them as friendly troops.  A good read for a window on the process that goes into pulling the trigger from far away..,0,549676.story


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DISCLAIMER and USE GUIDELINES:  All analysis and comments are the opinion of ScoutComms and do not necessarily represent our clients or partners.  Analysis is not to be used for further publication or reprint without express permission and acknowledgement of ScoutComms.  Contact Fred Wellman, President, at 202-957-2688 or for any questions.