The Scout Report 47th Edition
Military, Veterans and Defense Industry Issues and Analysis
January 2, 2012
Happy New Year to all of our readers! We have some really interesting stuff planned for 2012 that we think you will enjoy from new products to original reporting and events that will help build a better understanding of defense and veterans issues. These past holidays didn’t slow things down and produced a slew of big sales for U.S. defense manufacturers that should brighten the 2012 outlook quite a bit. Meanwhile the presidential campaign kicks off this week and will suck the oxygen out of much of the national conversation for months to come. We encourage you to use the social network sharing buttons above to share the Scout Report with your friends and followers.
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The week ahead:
Themes: The presidential race will start seeing the first nomination fights in Iowa though defense and veterans issues haven’t dominated the campaign to any great extent so far. Congress is still on recess and D.C. remains fairly quiet for another week.
Tradeshows: No major tradeshows or conferences that we are aware of this week.
Congress: The full Congress is in recess this week, however, there will be pro forma sessions. There are no hearings scheduled.
Think tanks and other news events: There is no significant defense or veterans’ focused news events scheduled this week in D.C. that we are aware of with the extended holiday break drawing to a close.
Moves in the Defense Media: Kristina Wong has joined the Washington Times as National Security Correspondent after 8 years with ABC in Washington. Follow her on Twitter @kristina_wong. Like many news organizations McClatchy and NPR both formally closed their Baghdad News Bureaus last week with the end of U.S. operations in the country.
Major themes and issues from last week:
The last two weeks saw as slew of foreign military sales announcements for U.S. defense manufacturers as the tension with Iran continues to raise over its nuclear program and continued resistance to the international community. Hacking collective Anonymous has targeted a defense analysis firm with potentially devastating consequences for many of their subscribers. The media has been looking harder at the Obama drone war but is generating little if any outcry from the public over targeted killings across the globe. Finally, the Iraq war formally ended last week with hardly a mention officially, no parades or celebrations are on the horizon for those who served. The business of war grinds on.
Veterans and Military Issues:
Anja Niedringhaus, Associated Press
Niedringhaus is a veteran AP combat photographer who found herself comforting a wounded Marine during an embed with a MEDEVAC unit in Afghanistan. She was so touched by the minutes holding his hand she set out to find him months later. Eventually she would fly to Richmond, Virginia’s Hunter Holmes Medical Center where he was going through months of rehab. It’s a touching story of the unusual bond that combat produces even to those who are worlds apart. 20 years of covering conflicts but that one Marine had her travel across the Atlantic to return a small piece of wheat she had plucked off his shirt.
Clarissa Ward, CBS News
The Army has been trying some unique approaches to combat the damage from Traumatic Brain Injuries suffered by so many soldiers. CBS has an interesting look at the work of Captain Amy Grey running a small clinic at FOB Fenty in Afghanistan where soldiers with mild TBI are brought to rest and recuperate under her careful supervision. The process involves simply getting them off the line and letting them rest their brain while it heals for a few days and is having great results.
Ken Thomas, Associated Press
President Obama is making a concerted effort to win over veteran voters in his campaign for re-election as part of a larger effort to win over voters that are traditionally outside the Democratic fold. Relying on some marked successes in his national security portfolio including the killing of Osama Bin Laden and ending the Iraq war the President hopes to be repaid with votes that keep him in office another four years. There is no denying that this administration has worked hard for veterans from improvements at VA to the First Lady’s ‘Joining Forces’ campaign and it leaves Republicans with little room to tag Obama as week on defense as past Democratic candidates have been painted. It will make for an interesting campaign.
David Larter and Michelle Tan, Air Force Times
A report released by DoD on December 13th reveals that the divorce rate in the military is at its highest level since 1999 with over 30,000 marriages ending in break ups in 2011. Enlisted Air Force members had a 64% jump over 2010 and lead DoD with the highest numbers. Sadly, when the Afghan war started the Air Force rate was 2.5 per 100 marriages but by 2011 it reached 3.9 per 100. Clearly the deployments and separations of the last decade account for much of the rise. The services are pushing a host of efforts to reduce the number but most in the military expect the figures to jump more as marriages spent mostly apart over the last decade will now be settled together and problems on the backburner will come forth once again.
Budget and Industry Issues:
Hiroshi Hiyama, Agence France-Presse
Japan announced on December 20th its decision to buy the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as its next generation combat aircraft to replace its increasingly aging Vietnam era F-4 Phantoms. The deal is a huge boost to Lockheed Martin’s troubled program worth an estimated $4.7 billion with delivery to begin after Fiscal Year 2012 of 42 aircraft. Lockheed beat off hard competition from Boein’s F/A-18 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. This deal should go a long way towards ensuring the future of the program in the U.S. as more international partners come to rely on the success of the effort.
Philip Ewing, DOD Buzz
Thursday brought another big sale announcement for the U.S. defense industry when the U.S. and Saudi Arabia announced the huge sale of 84 brand new F-15 fighters, modernization of another 70 existing aircraft along with munitions, parts, training, maintenance and logistical support to the Gulf nation. The deal is valued at well over $29.4 billion for defense giant Boeing and is estimated it will generate 50,000 jobs to support. The Obama administration has made no bones that the sale is in response to continued threats from Iran and was followed just a day later with a Friday evening announcement of….
Will Lester, Associated Press
The first foreign sale of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile system goes to the United Arab Emirates worth some $3.48 billion to manufacturer Lockheed Martin that will include launchers, 96 missiles and supporting logistics. This deal comes on top of previously announced upgrades to Saudi Arabia’s Patriot missile systems and the sale of another 209 Patriots to Kuwait. All of these efforts aim to reduce the growing threats from Iran and Gulf states stated concerns about their cross Persian Gulf neighbor. All of these sales point to estimates released a few weeks ago of billions in coming purchases by Middle Eastern states in U.S. manufactured technology that will help buoy the industry in spite of deep cuts in the U.S. defense outlay.
Brendan Byrnes, Motley Fool
There isn’t a lot of surprises in the analysis here that it was a rough year for A&D stocks but it lays out the outlook that mid-size manufacturers that are heavy with defense market cap and low diversification have suffered, and stand to suffer, the most through this cost cutting time. Topping the list this year was Digital Globe, AAR, National Presto, Alliant Techsystems, Textron, American Science and Engineering, Esterline Technologies, CAE, Embraer and Elbit Systems.
Jim Finkle, Reuters
Hacker group Anonymous has released hundreds of thousands of email addresses and passwords of the open source analysis firm Strategic Forecasting, Inc., known as Stratfor, that they hacked on Christmas Eve. The group has threatened to release thousands of stolen emails that they claim will embarrass the firm they accuse of being a “shadow CIA” and not just the newsletter production house it claims to be. This comes on top of 75,000 previously released credit card numbers of subscribers of which many were used many to make donations to various non-profits. Sadly, victims who spoke to the media found themselves hit a second time for even more money. It’s likely this will be a regular occurrence as even obscure organizations associated with national security or law enforcement find themselves targets for random hits as soft targets.
Communications and Social Media:
Ernesto Londono, Washington Post
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul abruptly pulled all of the advisers from the Government Media and Information Center (GMIC) on Wednesday over concerns about how it is being run and used as a perceived anti-American propaganda center. The move came just days after a press conference held criticizing U.S. night raids and house searches. The U.S. has provided millions of dollars in support for the center that has become a battleground in the Afghan government over control between Pro- and Anti-U.S. factions in President Karzai’s administration. The Embassy denies the move was directly because of the press conference but Afghani managers of the center claim they weren’t given any notice of the U.S. departure. It’s hard to argue with the idea of stopping giving money and advice to someone who is going to just use it poke you in the eye.
Thomas James Brennan, New York Times Lens Blog
A Marine Sergeant offers his take on the relationship developed between his team and an embedded Reuters photographer. What began as deep distrust grew as Finbarr O’Reilly shared meals, patrols and intense combat experiences with his subjects producing “breathtaking photographs” unarmed and unafraid. It’s a great short read to see how things have changed after a decade of war between the warfighters and the media trying to tell their stories to a larger world. While distrust is still present each side has found a shared experience unlike any other in the world.
Other Items of Interest:
Greg Miller, Washington Post,
Miller has an impressive and incredibly comprehensive look at the massive effort that is going into the drone war being conducted worldwide under the Obama administration. It is a remarkable growth in a program that was hugely unpopular under President Bush but has been virtually doubled under his successor in office with little fanfare and outcry. Miller lays out the many facets of the puzzle and the implications of the effort, which leaves many questions unanswered about the U.S. global reputation and troubling aspects of target selection which amount to execution without trial of any kind. A worthwhile long read.
Rick Hampson, USA Today
The United States Military Academy has paid a heavy price in lost graduates in the last decade of war with 59 Academy graduates having died in Iraq alone. Fully 1.3% of all US casualties of Iraq and Afghanistan have been former West Point cadets representing a higher total than any war since World War II. This heartbreaking story from USA Today focuses on the 19 grads buried at the cemetery behind the Old Cadet Chapel on the over two hundred year old campus. It paints the sad toll that war takes on soldiers.
Julie Watson, Associated Press
The use of a supposed “herbal” mixture called “Spice” which mimics a marijuana high has become a growing problem for the U.S. military with over 1,100 cases investigated in 2011 and more pending. The services are launching several campaigns and testing regimens to combat the use of the drug, which is seen as more dangerous than simple marijuana due to its hallucinogenic and long lasting effects.
Sig Christenson, San Antonio Express News
Veteran military affairs journalist Christenson takes a look at the toll Improvised Explosive Devices have taken on U.S. service members over the last decade of combat. He looks at how one Special Forces officer and double amputee has adjusted to the realities of his challenges and the military’s care for his recovery. A nice little snapshot of the issues and a look at one tough guy not willing to take his disabilities as disabilities.
Ben Nuckols and Samantha Gross, Associated Press
There seems to be no interest in throwing any ticker tape parades for returning Iraq war troops or veterans of the conflict. Although officials in D.C. and New York claim they would entertain the idea no one is asking each other to conduct any celebrations. Reasons are somewhat logical in that the Afghanistan conflict continues and many of the same troops who would march in a parade would very well be deploying back to combat again and inevitable political questions surrounding the Iraq adventure. Yet, it seems sad that the over 1.3 million service members who fought in the war will simply pass on to another day of work with little recognition for their sacrifices.
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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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