Military, Veterans and Defense Industry Issues and Analysis

December 12, 2011

 

It was a rough weekend for ScoutComms with yet another loss by our beloved Army football team to storied rival Navy.  It was a heck of a fight this time at least.  We have made some more tweaks to the Scout Report dropping the opening summary section so you can get right to the stories.  There is a lot to check out this week so take your time and please sign up to get this directly to your email on Monday mornings at http://bit.ly/ScoutReportSubscribe.  We would love you to visit our homepage as well to learn more about what ScoutComms can do for your team at www.ScoutCommsUSA.com .

 

The week ahead:

 

Themes:  Congress is close to coming up with an omnibus spending bill to keep the government functioning in the new fiscal year so the calendars are thin right now.  The departure from Iraq is nearly complete and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is in D.C. for consultations with the U.S. government.  President Obama will head to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina to mark the end of the war.

 

Tradeshows:

 

Gulf Defense and Aerospace  Exhibition, (12-14 December) Kuwait City, Kuwait

This is a conference sponsored by the government of Kuwait for the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.  Estimates say that the six members of the GCC will spend over $105 billion over the next two years on defense and security and this conference is designed specifically to showcase items and companies to the leaders of the Army, Navy and Air Forces of the GCC.

 

Congress:   The full Congress is in session this week.  

 

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee-Field Hearing (9:15, Mon, 12 December)

Full committee field hearing on delays in veterans’ services related to the claims backlog and the Veterans Affairs Department’s plans to reduce the backlog.

Witnesses: TBA

Location: Quincy City Hall, 1305 Hancock St, Quincy, Mass.

Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee-Field Hearing (9:30, Mon, 12 December)

Full committee field hearing on employment challenges facing veterans.

Witnesses: TBA

Location: Center for Workforce Development, 315 Cleveland Avenue, Columbus, OH

 

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee-Hearing (10:00, Weds, 14 December)

Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee hearing on “Is it Working: Reviewing VA’s Compensated Work Therapy Program.”

Witnesses: TBA

Location: 334 Cannon House Office Building

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee-Hearing (10:00, Thurs, 15 December)

Economic Opportunity Subcommittee hearing on “Reviewing the Implementation of the ‘VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.”

Witnesses: TBA

Location: 334 Cannon House Office Building

 

Think tanks and other news events:

 

The Aspen Institute – Washington Forum on Combatting Terrorism (12:30 PM, Mon, 11 December)

Description: The Aspen Institute will sponsor a two-day seminar on combatting terrorism.  Most of the event will be private with small groups discussing a wide range of topics but there will be one public event on Monday. The public conversation, titled “The War on Terrorism and the Need for International Collaboration,” will address the inherent challenges of coordination international counterterrorism policy. Geopolitical, economic and religious interests as well as domestic political considerations frequently make it difficult to consolidate a joint policy in the war on terror. Terrorist leaders are well aware of the different approaches to combatting terrorism and varied interests of the countries engaging in this war and they exploit those differences in order to maneuver between the various countries. The challenge facing Western countries today is how to formulate a joint preventative policy that will enjoy wide public support in each country before another major terrorist attack is perpetrated

Participants:  Gen. (Retired) Michael Hayden, former CIA and NSA Director, and NBC News National Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff

Location: Please contact Josh Diamonstein at josh.diamonstein@aspeninstitute.org for additional information and to RSVP

The Foreign Policy Initiative- 2011 FPI Forum: Maintaining America’s Global Responsibilities in an Age of Austerity (8:00, Tues, 13 December)

FPI will roll out a series of Republican political figures to offer their take on the future of U.S. security in an age of budget cutbacks.  Interestingly they will be live tweeting the event using hashtag #FPIForum. Breakfast will be served. Registration required.

Participants: Speakers include U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte, Lindsey Graham, Mark Kirk, and Marco Rubio; Congressmen Adam Kinzinger and Mike Rogers; and Governor Tim Pawlenty

Location: Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington DC, 20001

Major themes and issues from last week:

 

Veterans and Military Issues:

 

Air Force dumped ashes of more troops’ remains in Va. landfill than acknowledged

Craig Whitlock and Mary Pat Flaherty, Washington Post

The Dover mortuary situation got uglier this past week as it came out that instead of just a few left over remains having been incinerated and disposed of in a landfill as previously reported it was actually 976 fragments representing some 274 fallen service members remains.  The Air Force had initially said it was impossible to ascertain the actual number then they were quickly produced in a scrubbing of the electronic records.  The Air Force insists that there has been no intent to deceive anyone on the actual numbers of this now halted disposal technique but they are giving the impression of doing so with the slow drip of information that is only produced under media pressure.  Congress is rolling in hot on the issue now.

 

As Iraq and Afghan wars end, costs mount on pace to exceed Vietnam

Chris Adams, McClatchy Newspapers

While the death toll from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are significantly lower than those of Vietnam the numbers of disability claims for those who have served with the VA are already passing those of the earlier war.  In addition, many of the issues of today’s veterans are significantly different due to better battlefield survivability than any previous war so the costs of treating those issues like amputations and mental health woes after multiple tours in combat are hard to predict.  So, even as the government is trying to cut back on budgets the VA will need more money than ever in its history.  This is a good story to dive into if you are looking for stats and figures on the impacts of these wars on the nation’s budget long term.

 

Military Veterans Prepare for a New Role

Sarah Needleman, Wall Street Journal

Needleman looks at the soaring demand for programs to help veterans become entrepreneurs with some truly remarkable efforts springing up to give vets the education and mentorship they need to succeed in business.  Syracuse University has a very popular program run by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and we were able to chat with the Executive Director Dr. Mike Haynie this week and it’s an impressive program with more applicants than they have slots at the 8 schools now supporting the program.  We see it as a simple mathematical equation as we know that veterans tend to hire other veterans so encouraging more vet owned businesses will put a dent in new veterans’ unemployment in an exponential fashion.  It’s a great story to check out on the growth in veteran entrepreneurs.

Unsung Heroes: Military Families after Ten Years of War (PDF)

Moran Banai, Bryan Maxwell, John O’Neal and Matt Gallagher, IAVA

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America issued a report this week detailing the plight of military families after ten year of war and offering recommendations on improvements that could be made to assist them.  They acknowledge that the services have made tremendous progress on improving the lives of families but more can be done.  Unemployment and underemployment of spouses is a major problem among many. Recommendations include working towards national certifications for professional licensure so military spouses can work in multiple states without re-training, more uniform graduation standards so military kids who may attend three high schools don’t fall behind due to shifting requirements and greater access to childcare among others.  It’s not a bad report though the recommendations have certainly been fielded by others it brings them together under one cover.

Budget and Industry Issues:

 

General Dynamics CEO sets sights on further growth, acquisitions

Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters

GD CEO and former Chief-of-Naval-Operations Jay Johnson discusses his views of the company’s and industries future with Reuters last week.  He offers an insight that most analysts agree with that this is actually a ripe time for major defense manufacturers like GD to acquire other companies to expand their offerings while leveraging emerging markets like China and South America.  While the worries are real about the future of the U.S. defense market major programs will have to continue and support for most remains strong.

Obama Administration Urges Flat 2013-2017 Defense Spending Plan

Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg

The White House and Pentagon are finally near agreement on a draft five-year budget plan that will represent the first time the Obama administration has submitted a defense plan lower than the previous year with a slight 1% drop for 2013 and smaller upticks in following years.  The plan is being called a realistic approach and has the lowest war spending since 2004.  One major point is a delay of two-years in the start of the building of the John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier by Huntington Ingalls Industries.  The plan fits in the overall caps set in the budget control act but does not meet those demanded by the sequestration brought on by the failure of the super committee.  So in many ways this is a compromise between previously legislated directives and hopes that Congress will stop the sequestration.

White House to DoD: Shift Programs Out of War Budget

Kate Brannen, Defense News

In a somewhat surprising move the White House as directed the Pentagon to tighten the limits on the use of war spending accounts and close a potential loophole to avoid the cuts mandated in the budget control act.  In the past war funds have been used to buy equipment such as the MRAP’s and even a single F-35 fighter.  Under the new guidance those efforts are closed even as the Senate itself was maneuvering to shift programs from the base budget to overseas operations accounts to avoid the more draconian cuts of the sequestration impasse.  It seems to be another move by the administration to force the issue with the Congress to make cuts instead of finding back doors to avoid the pain.

JLTV Program Demonstrates the Importance of DOD-Industry Dialogue

Daniel Goure, Ph.D., Early Warning Blog, Lexington Institute

Goure examines how a recent meeting of the minds between the number two officers of the Army and Marine Corps with industry representatives competing for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle contract resulted in substantial improvements to the contract bidding process and should serve as a model for other programs.  The fact is that industry and DoD relations have been strained for a few years as the department has sought to transfer more risk and costs burdens to the private sector while not listening to their concerns about changes to programs and inherent inefficiencies in the business practices of the department.  DoD and industry need to build requirements so that both sides truly share the risk and build what is needed without guesswork.  The JLTV has been in danger of cuts but reports came out this week the compromise defense bill in Congress will include funding for the program.

Exclusive: U.S. defense firms blast Pentagon on contract changes

Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters

Over 100 defense industry firms sent a joint letter to SecDef Panetta this week expressing concern about the shifting of risk and development costs to manufacturers as part of the Pentagon’s cost saving measures.  The letter was coordinated by the Aerospace Industry Association and is asking Panetta to delay implementing more contract changes without a thorough review of the impacts of these efforts to shift the burden to an industry already facing a bleak future with announced cutbacks..

Communications and Social Media:

 

Twitter Joins Facebook, Google, Launches ‘Brand Pages’ for Marketers

Cotton Delo, Ad Age

Twitter is finally joining other social network giants in creating specialized brand pages for marketers to build around their offerings.  The new pages which are rolling out now with major brands such as Disney Pixar, Jet Blue and 19 others will include a redesigned page layout so backgrounds won’t be covered, the ability to feature a single tweet at the top with expanded links such as a movie trailer and separation of @ replies and mentions.  This will be another draw for Twitter’s effort to monetize its services.

Social Network Analytics Saves Lives in Iraq

Charles Babcock, Information Week

Speaking at a conference in San Francisco this week, David Gutelius of Jive Software explained how applying a learning analytics tool to the social network used by Army company commanders in Iraq led to the discovery of a new way to combat IED’s.  Essentially a DARPA funded project created CALO, Computer Assistant that Learns and Organizes, scrubbed the Online Command network and kept advancing the ideas of one Captain out of the crowd of good ideas floating on the network.  Having discovered his efforts with the tool they were then applied in combat and solved a problem across the combat zone.  The concept is now being rolled out for commercial purposes to analyze networks and discover new ideas.  Interesting story if not a little complicated and scientific compared to our usual fare.

Other Items of Interest:

Army Player Andrew Rodriguez claims Campbell Trophy

Football Foundation Release, Army.mil

West Point football player Andrew Rodriguez was awarded the prestigious Campbell Trophy at a ceremony in New York this week.  The trophy is often known as the Heisman for academics is awarded to the top scholar athlete in NCAA football.  It is awarded to an individual for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership.  Rodriguez is the son of FORSCOM Commanding General David Rodriguez and will be commissioned in the Infantry this spring.

 

Arlington’s holiday wreath-laying event to ‘remember, honor and teach’

Pamela Constable, Washington Post

Thousands showed up at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday to place some 100,000 holiday wreaths donated by Wreaths Across America for the 20th year.  This year was the largest ever with the ambitious goal to decorate nearly every grave in the cemetery and by all accounts it was a successful day.  We recommend if you are in D.C. next year to join in the effort.

Cyber-intruder sparks massive federal response – and debate over dealing with threats

Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post

Nakashima has a fascinating inside look at what ended up being one of the most massive cyber intrusions in the U.S. military’s history that all started with a simple insertion of a contaminated thumb drive and has led to the near complete banning of the devices on military networks today.  This is a first time look at the massive response and new organizations created based on the lessons of the discovery of a worm on the Secret network of DoD in October, 2008. If you want to learn a bit about cyber security and it’s challenges this is a great place to start.

 

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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