Military, Veterans and Defense Industry Issues and Analysis…and Beat Navy

December 5, 2011

 

This was one of those weeks where the hardest part was cutting down the long list of fascinating stories to choose from to paint a picture of what is going on in the aerospace, defense and veterans’ sectors.  We recommend you follow our Twitter feed, @ScoutComms, to catch any stories we leave out of the Scout Report.  Most importantly this week is the upcoming Army-Navy game at FedEx field in Landover, Maryland where the Army will finally break a nine year losing streak and stop embarrassing all of us grads!  BEAT NAVY!

 

The week ahead:

 

Themes:  There seems to be a lull in the budget battle right now as Congress tries to figure a way out of the hole they have dug themselves with the super committee failure.  The departure from Iraq is nearing its end so the retrospectives have begun and will continue as the last troops roll across the border in coming days.  It is likely they will finish long before the end of the month deadline and could be done as early as this or next week.  Army will beat Navy on Saturday.

 

Tradeshows:   No major tradeshows or conferences of interest this week that we are aware of but Army will beat Navy.

 

Congress:   The full Congress is in session this week.  

 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee-Hearing (10:00, Thurs, 8 December)

Full committee hearing on the nominations of Tara Sonenshine to be undersecretary of State for public diplomacy; and Earl Gast to be an assistant administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development

Witnesses: The nominees testify

Location: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building

House Homeland Security Committee-Hearing (2:00, Tues, 6 December)

Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee hearing on “Jihadist Use of Social Media – How to Prevent Terrorism and Preserve Innovation.”

Witnesses: Evan Kohlmann of Flashpoint Global Partners; William McCants, analyst for CNA Analysis & Solutions; and Andrew Aaron Weisburd, director of the Society for Internet Research, testify

Location: 311 Cannon House Office Building

 

House Homeland Security Committee and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee-Hearing (9:30, Thurs, 7 December)

Joint hearing on “Homegrown Terrorism: The Threat to Military Communities Inside the United States.”

Witnesses: Assistant Defense Secretary for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs Paul Stockton; Jim Stuteville, U.S. Army senior advisor for counterintelligence operations and liaison to the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Army Lt. Col. Reid Sawyer, director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point; and Daris Long, father of the late U.S. Army Pvt. William Andrew Long, who was shot and killed in a 2009 terrorist attack on a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark., testify

Location: House Visitor Center-210, U.S. Capitol

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee-Hearing (10:00, Thurs, 7 December)

National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Subcommittee hearing on “Oversight in Iraq and Afghanistan: Challenges and Solutions.”

Witnesses: TBA

Location: 2247 Rayburn House Office Building

 

House Foreign Affairs Committee-Hearing (2:30, Thurs, 7 December)

Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee joint hearing on “Camp Ashraf: Iraqi Obligations and State Department Accountability.”

Witnesses: Daniel Fried, State Department special envoy to facilitate the closing of the Guantanamo Bay; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq Barbara Leaf; former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Lincoln Bloomfield Jr., chairman of the Henry L. Stimson Center; retired Army Col. Wes Martin, former base commander of Camp Ashraf; and Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, testify

Location: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

 

Think tanks and other news events:

 

CSIS-Schieffer Series Dialogue – Securing Cyberspace in the 21st Century (5:30 PM, Tues, 6 December)

Description: A discussion on the challenges of cybersecurity.

Participants:  Gen. (Retired) James Cartwright (Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies, CSIS), James Andrew Lewis (Director and Senior Fellow, CSIS), Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post National Security Reporter), Moderated by Bob Schieffer

Location: B1 Conference Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1800 K Street, NW, Washington DC, 20006

CSIS –Military Strategy Forum: The Future of America’s Expeditionary Force in Readiness (9:00, Weds, 7 December) Registration Required

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford gives a keynote address on the future of U.S. Ground forces followed by a panel discussion from a distinguished group of former military leaders and policy experts.  Breakfast will be served.

Participants: Thomas Donnelly, American Enterprise Institute, Andrew Hoehn, RAND Corporation, Lieutenant General Robert Blackmanm, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret), Lieutenant General James Dubik, U.S. Army (Ret) , Nathan Freier (Moderator), Center for Strategic and International Studies

Location: B1 Conference Center, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1800 K Street, NW, Washington DC, 20006

The Jamestown Foundation –The Fifth Annual Terrorism Conference: “Al-Qaeda After Bin Laden (8:30, Thurs, 8 December) Registration necessary cost $100 http://terrorismconf2011.eventbrite.com/

The Foundation hosts a daylong series of panels and discussions with multiple luminaries in the study of terrorism with a focus on what comes next in the global fight on terror organizations now that Bin Laden is dead.

Participants: General (Retired) Michael Hayden, Former Director of Central Intelligence, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, New York Times and a host of other leaders in the studies of terrorism.

Location: National Press Club Grand Ballroom, 529 14th St. NW, Washington DC

The Atlantic Council –Security and Partnership in an Age of Austerity (9:00, Fri, 9 December) RSVP with name and affiliation necessary isp@acus.org

Much analytic work has been done in the Washington policy community on how the United States military can weather this new era of defense austerity, but little analysis has focused on how the United States can strengthen US and international security by bolstering existing alliances and forging new partnerships. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey will address this important topic in his conversation with David Ignatius just days after returning from consultations in London with UK political and military leadership. Continental breakfast will be served.

Participants: General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, David Ignatius, Washington Post Opinion Writer

Location: Corcoran Ballroom, 2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC

Wreaths Across America Arlington Wreath Laying (8:30 AM, Sat, 10 December)

This year marks 20 years that Wreaths Across America has decorated Arlington Cemetery and other national cemeteries across the country with thousands of Christmas wreaths.  Worcester Wreaths are bringing a record 100,000 wreaths and expect massive crowds at Arlington.  If you have never participated in this event we can’t recommend it enough.  It has become a Wellman family tradition each year.  Bring hot chocolate and check out the guide at the link above.

Army vs. Navy Football  (2:30 PM, Sat, 10 December)

CBS will be broadcasting America’s Game as the Army team attempts to finally end one of the longest losing streaks in the history of this 112 year football tradition.  This year’s game is in Washington D.C. instead of the usual Philadelphia venue.  We will be reporting live from the game!  Go Army, Beat Navy!

Participants:  Fred Wellman and 2.2 million Service members world-wide

Location: FedEx Field, Landover, MD

Major themes and issues from last week:

 

1) Veterans and Military Life Issues:  The week started off with the news that the Marines first living Medal of Honor recipient since Vietnam is suing former employer BAE, Inc. for defamation and it got ugly fast for the international defense manufacturer.  Along the same lines the focus in the veterans’ world was all about mental healthcare availability for veterans and the growing backlog of PTSD and depression sufferers among the new generation of veterans.  On a positive note, unemployment did decline for vets last month.

 

2) Budget and Industry:  The Administration submitted a budget for next year that ignores the sequestration requirements which should make it interesting but continues the gross uncertainty for both DoD and industry.  Meanwhile procurement officials were talking about policies such as affordability studies and profit margins for the industry trying to calm worries while GE and Rolls Royce finally killed the alternate JSF engine.  It looks like there might be opportunity in South America still.

 

3) Communications and Social Media:  YouTube has a great video from TEDx Amsterdam from the Dutch Chief of Defense that got a lot of buzz on Twitter this week while the House Veterans Affairs Committee solicited questions for a hearing on VA small business set-asides via Twitter.

 

4) Other Stories of Interest:  You must scroll to the bottom today to see how J.R. Martinez got a hero’s welcome at the Pentagon while SecDef finally got his expensive celebratory wine bottle to share with friends.  It was also released that Afghanistan will see a 40,000 decrease in coalition forces in 2012 and there is an interesting look at how prosecutions are becoming much more aggressive on sexual assaults in the military but many are cases that are too weak to reach a conviction but ruin the lives of the accused regardless of outcome. Beat Navy.

 

 

Veterans and Military Issues:

 

Decorated Marine Sues Contractor

Julian Barnes, Wall Street Journal

The green energy industry has become a growing job source for veterans across the country.  Tipping Point Renewable Energy in Columbus, Ohio is only hiring veterans for their installation crews while a Denver based non-profit called Veterans Green Jobs has trained 370 veterans in the last four years as solar panel installers.  During our work with The Home Depot Foundation’s Celebration of Service we helped a small non-profit in St. Louis called the Renewable Energy Training Institute run by a retired Marine Colonel that will train vets for the same things.  All of these efforts are in line with what will likely be a growing industry with skills for the future.

 

War drawdowns wreak havoc on Guard soldiers’ lives

Lolita Baldor, Associated Press

One aspect of the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan is the devastation that changes in plans can mean to National Guard troops called up to deploy and then canceled and sent home.  Baldor highlights how soldiers who sold houses, left jobs and shipped kids off to relatives suddenly find themselves sent home from training instead of deployed for year-long tours. The changes leave many unemployed and with no options for redress.

 

Rise in PTSD cases from two wars strains resources

Gregg Zoroya, USA Today

The VA released staggering statistics last week on the number of new PTSD patients flooding their healthcare systems.  Over 10,000 combat veterans with PTSD are now reporting to VA hospitals every quarter with over 200,000 already in the system causing serious strain on the department’s ability to keep up with the demand.  In addition, they are seeing 9,000 new case a quarter of depression in recent veterans.  The VA insists they are keeping up with demand but questions have arisen on the amount of time between a vets request for mental health help and the time it takes to see a clinician. Leading to…

Senate panel calls for probe of VA mental health services

Steve Vogel, Washington Post

The Senate Veterans Affairs committee heard testimony Thursday alleging that VA hospitals are being forced to game the rules to ensure veterans are seen within 14 days of requesting mental healthcare as dictated by law.  So, a vet may see someone in that window follow up visits are often weeks or months in coming as the focus is always on getting the new requests seen and not necessarily on meeting the needs of the patient.  The panel Chairman, Patty Murray, asked the VA Inspector General to launch an investigation of these claims.  While troubling the VA has made progress in hiring thousands of mental health clinicians but has faced a staggering 34% increase since 2006 in patients seeking help.

Budget and Industry Issues:

OMB, DoD Agree on $523B Budget; Budget Chicken Begins

Colin Clark, AOL Defense

Colin calls this budget chicken because the Administration has sent forth a 2013 budget that takes into account the initial $500 billion in budget cuts dictated by the budget control act but does not address the numbers associated with the sequestration triggered by the Super Committee failure.  It’s sort of like throwing down the glove for Congress to see who blinks first.

Kendal Cites Flawed Army Future Combat Systems as Costly Lesson

Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg

Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Frank Kendall spoke this week about the importance of DoD and industry working together to ensure that a realistic program schedule drives development and avoids failures like the Army’s doomed Future Combat System which he worked on at SAIC.  He cited the increasing reliance on better affordability studies by DoD to avoid the kinds of mistakes that have seen over one-third of Army acquisition funds spent on programs which were ultimately canceled.

Pentagon Will Not Target Firms’ Profits: Official

Zachary Fryer-Biggs, Defense News

DoD’s Director of Procurement and Acquisition Policy told an audience of investors last week in New York that the department is not looking at targeting defense manufacturers profits.  Shay Assad made it clear that the department is targeting cost reduction not necessarily margin reduction and on many programs their margins may actually go up.  Simply put they only care about paying less and not what the margin for the maker is on their end.  While this sounds great the fact is that by driving efficiency and cost reductions it is going to cost manufacturers more to compete and make those changes so he admits that it will be difficult to do both.

GE, Rolls Royce Stop Funding of F-35 Alt Engine

Dave Majumdar, Defense News

In a surprise announcement on Friday makers of the F136 alternate JSF engine announced they would not continue building the engine on their own as initially planned when DoD ordered a stop work on the effort last year.  GE and Rolls Royce recognized that with the current budget climate there was little hope a second engine regardless of its merits would ever be funded by Congress or DoD and have moved on after a year’s long battle.

South America as Growth Market

Matt Valone, Avascent.com

Avascent has looked at growth in defense budgets and sees a few bright spots for defense manufacturers in South America.  Brazil has seen increasing budgets and is planning to continue as the Olympics near in 2016 with a projected $2 billion in potential opportunity.  In addition, Columbia is continuing to outfit its armed forces to finish its fight against FARC guerillas as well as prepare for external threats coming from Venezuela and other countries.  Following close behind, Chile is the fourth largest defense budget on the continent and has recently moved to acquire additional F-16’s and other major programs.  Clearly there are still opportunities abroad.

Communications and Social Media:

 

TEDx Amsterdam Peter van Uhm

YouTube

Dutch General Peter van Uhm is the chief of defense for his country and also a Gold Star father who lost his son in combat in Afghanistan.  He spoke last week at the TEDx series of speech programs conducted in Amsterdam and offered up a fascinating and compelling argument for the power of the gun as an instrument of peace and stability.  He lays out how the level of violence has decreased for centuries thanks to the state monopoly on violence represented by democratic arsenals.  This speech has been burning up the web in defense circles all week and is worth the twenty minutes to watch.

Vets panel seeks hearing questions via Twitter

Rick Maze, Army Times

Congress is turning to social media to seek input for hearings increasingly.  This week the House Veterans Affairs Committee solicited questions via Twitter for a hearing on the VA’s Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business certification program that has caused a host of difficulties for companies trying to do business with the department.  The panel has previously used questions from Twitter during the hearings.

Other Items of Interest:

J.R. Martinez in D.C.: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ winner gets hero’s welcome at Pentagon

The Reliable Source, Washington Post

101st Airborne veteran, wounded warrior and winner of this season’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’ mirror ball trophy, J.R. Martinez got the red carpet treatment at the Pentagon last week from SecDef Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Marty Dempsey and Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno.  He even got Panetta to dance a few steps with him in his office.  Martinez was burned in Iraq and spent several years and dozens of surgeries to recover and has found a successful career as an actor, motivational speaker and veterans advocate.  Next up is a book and continued speaking on behalf of our nations veterans.

 

Panetta reaps fruity reward for bin Laden takedown

Lolita Baldor, Associated Press

SecDef Panetta was finally able to sample the promised celebratory wine from his friend restaurateur Ted Belestreri at a dinner party last month with a host of friends.  The rare 1870 bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild was worth $10,000 was shared among several dozen friends who each got a sip from a CIA shot glass in honor of the raid that led to the Al Qaeda leaders death last year.  Panetta also promised to protect his friend after putting him on the radar of the terror organization though he boasts he has a lot more weapons at his disposal to make good on the promise.

40,000 troops to leave Afghanistan by end of 2012

Deb Riechmann and Slobodan Lekic, Associated Press

Coalition forces in Afghanistan will drawdown dramatically in the coming year according to plans released this week by ISAF.  U.S. troops will make up the majority of departing troops with 33,000 leaving marking one-third of the total troops in country at the height of the surge of troops last year.  Serious doubts remain about the Afghan governments’ ability to take over security of areas left by coalition forces but the departure of foreign forces is an inevitable fact at this point after ten years of war.

 

Military’s newly aggressive rape prosecution has pitfalls

Marisa Taylor and Chris Adams, McClatchy Newspapers

The military has been accused by advocacy groups and Congressional members that it is soft on sexual assault cases when statistics are showing a very aggressive approach to prosecutions even against cases that would never stand up in civilian courts.  Many in the military are starting to believe that the driving force is in answer to the criticism as opposed to justice as even a simple drunken encounter can lead to charges of rape that destroy the careers of any accused even as the conviction rate is low.  There were over 2,039 rape and sexual assault allegations in 2009-2010 where 551 led to courts-martial.  Of those only 147 were actually convicted of rape or other serious sexual offense with the remainder convicted of other charges such as conduct unbecoming an officer, completely exonerated or resolved through dismissal from the service.  It begs the question of whether over-zealous prosecution helps the plight of females in the service or hurts them as their peers live in fear of innocent contact being drawn into serious allegations.

About Us: ScoutComms is a unique marketing communications and public relations consulting firm based in the Washington D.C. area that focuses exclusively on the aerospace, defense and veterans’ sectors providing our clients deep insight and counsel based on decades of military and public relations industry experience.  To learn more about what we can do for your organization visit our website at www.ScoutCommsUSA.com.

 

Upcoming event?  Have an event you would like us to include on our look ahead?  Drop us an email at fwellman@ScoutCommsUSA.com and we will make sure we let our readers know.

 

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