Military, Veterans and Defense Industry Issues and Analysis

March 26, 2012

We still haven’t seen every angle on the killings in Afghanistan yet and the week will continue to be dominated by the news of SSG Robert Bales.  There are a number of interesting trade shows and Congressional hearings this week and our client Kongsberg Protech Systems will celebrate the production of the 10,000th PROTECTOR CROWS remote weapons station with a demo on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

The Scout Report is a weekly analysis of the news in the aerospace, defense and veterans sectors written by Fred Wellman and emailed each Monday morning. Its designed to provide insight on what are the hot topics in these unique areas for those working in these areas as well as those with simple interest in them. Reading this online?  Subscribe and get it for free here!

The week ahead:

Themes:  The questions are just starting on SSG Robert Bales rampage and its implications.  Expect more analysis and discussion as his wife appears on the Today show Monday morning and Congressional hearings on military healthcare are scheduled.


Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference DIMDEX 2012 (Mon-Weds, 26-28 March) Qatar National Convention Centre, Doha, Qatar

Hosted by the Qatari government this show in its third year boasts of world-leaders in maritime defense technology will exhibit an impressive range of cutting-edge products including electronics, security systems and military craft at the new Qatar National Convention Centre with the theme of ‘Weapons Reform—Adapting Acquisition Processes for Today’. The Middle East is a booming part of the depressed aerospace and defense market and major sales have come out of this show each year.

AIAA 10th U.S. Missile Defense Conference and Exhibit (Mon-Weds, 26-28 March) Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.

Hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in conjunction with Boeing and supported by the Missile Defense Agency the conference is aimed at providing a secure environment for those involved in the missile defense sector to share ideas and promote coordination and information access.

IDGA Long Range Strike Summit  (Mon-Thurs, 26-29 March) Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, Alexandria, VA

This conference focuses on Air Force and Navy deep attack programs with a special emphasis this year on the development of the Air Force’s next generation bomber.  Several key leaders from DoD, Air Force and Navy air power will be speaking.

NDIA 28th Annual National Logistics Conference and Exhibition (Mon-Thurs, 26-29 March) Hyatt Regency, Miami, FL

From their site: National Defense Industrial Association’s Annual National Logistics Conference & Exhibition has become the premier national-level forum for exchanging ideas and sharing insights into improving the support to our nation’s warfighters across the spectrum of military operations. The conference brings together the senior logistics policy officials and senior practitioners attracting high-caliber government and industry participants. In addition, the expanded exhibit forum will highlight the best cutting-edge technologies being developed to support our warfighters in an efficient, interoperable manner.

AFCEA TechNet Land Forces-Southwest (Tues-Thurs, 27-29 March) Tuscon Convention Center, Tuscon, AZ

From their site: The TechNet Land Forces conference series recently evolved from and replaces the annual LandWarNet Conference. The purpose is to provide a forum for the Army and Marine Corps, as well as DoD Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard security forces, to discuss issues and share ideas for solutions. The overall theme of TechNet Land Forces – Southwest is Network Security and Operations with a focus on the ground component of the Army and Marine Corps, including components of Homeland Security, Industry, Academia, and Border Control. The operational theme of the first conference is “Operating and Defending the Cyberspace: Tomorrow’s Playbook” and focuses on an industry parallel with the Department of Defense in the defense of the cyber space, impact of mobile communications on the battlefield, and training tomorrow’s cyber warriors.

Congress: The full Congress is in session this week.


Senate Armed Services Committee – Hearing (9:30 AM, Tues, 27 March)

Full committee hearing on the U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command in review of the Defense Authorization request for FY2013 and the Future Years Defense Program.

Witnesses: Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command; Army Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service, testify

Location: 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Senate Appropriations Committee – Hearing (10:00 AM, Tues, 27March)

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the FY2013 budget for the Defense Department and the Department of the Army.

Witnesses: TBD

Location: 124 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Senate Armed Services Committee – Hearing (2:30 PM, Tues, 27 March)

Airland Subcommittee hearing on Army modernization in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2013 and the Future Years Defense Program.

Witnesses:  Lt. Gen. Robert Lennox, deputy chief of staff of the Army (G-8); Lt. Gen. William Phillips, principal military deputy to the assistant Secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, and director of Acquisition Career Management; Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, deputy commanding general, futures, and director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command; and Lt. Gen. John Campbell, deputy chief of staff of the Army (G-3/5/7), testify

Location: 222 Russell Senate Office Building


Senate Armed Services Committee – Hearing (2:30, Tues, 27 March)

Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee hearing on the Defense Department’s role in the implementation of the National Strategy for Counterterrorism and the National Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2013 and the Future Years Defense Program.

Witnesses: Assistant Defense Secretary for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict Michael Sheehan; Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism Garry Reid; and Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Counternarcotics and Global Threats William Wechsler testify

Location:  232-A Russell Senate Office Building


Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – Hearing (10:00 AM, Weds, 28 March)

Full committee hearing on the nominations of Margaret Bartley to be judge of U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals for Veterans Claims; and Coral Wong Pietsch to be judge of U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals for Veterans Claims.

Witnesses:  The nominees testify

Location: 418 Russell Senate Office Building


Senate Appropriations Committee – Hearing (10:00 AM, Weds, 28 March)

Defense Subcommittee hearing on the budget for Defense Department health programs.

Witnesses: TBD

Location: 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Senate Appropriations Committee – Hearing (2:00 PM, Weds, 28 March)

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the budget for the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Air Force.

Witnesses:  TBD

Location: 138 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Senate Armed Services Committee – Hearing (2:00 PM, Weds, 28 March)

Personnel Subcommittee hearing on Active, Guard, Reserve, and civilian personnel programs in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2013 and the Future Years Defense Program. (Part One)

Witnesses: Acting Defense Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness Jo Ann Rooney; Defense Undersecretary/Comptroller Robert Hale; Acting Assistant Defense Secretary for Reserve Affairs David McGinnis and Assistant Defense Secretary for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson, director of TRICARE Management Activity, testify

Location: 232-A Russell Senate Office Building


Senate Appropriations Committee – Hearing (2:30 PM, Weds, 28 March)

Energy and Water Development Subcommittee hearing on the budget for the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation.

Witnesses:  TBD

Location: 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Senate Armed Services Committee – Hearing (2:30 PM, Weds, 28 March)

Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing on Defense Department nuclear forces and policies in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY2013 and the Future Years Defense Program.

Witnesses:  Assistant Defense Secretary for Global Strategic Affairs Madelyn Creedon; Assistant Defense Secretary for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs Andrew Weber; Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command; Rear Adm. Terry Benedict, director of Navy Strategic Systems Programs; and Air Force Maj. Gen. William Chambers, assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, testify

Location:  222 Russell Senate Office Building


Senate Armed Services Committee – Hearing (9:30 AM, Thurs, 29 March)

Full committee hearing on nominations of Frank Kendall III to be Defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics; James Miller Jr., to be Defense undersecretary for policy; Erin Conaton to be Defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness; Jessica Lynn Wright and Katharina McFarland both to be an assistant Defense secretary; and Heidi Shyu to be an assistant secretary of the Army.

Witnesses:  The nominees testify

Location:  G-50 Dirksen Senate Office Building

House of Representatives: 

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – Hearing (10:00 AM, Tues, 27 March)

Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee hearing on “A Review of the President’s FY2013 Budget Request for the Army Corps of Engineers.”

Witnesses: TBD

Location: 2167 Rayburn House Office Building


House Veterans’ Affairs Committee – Hearing (10:30 AM, Tues, 27 March)

Full committee hearing on “From the Ground Up: Assessing Ongoing Delays in VA Major Construction.”

Witnesses: TBD

Location:  334 Cannon House Office Building


House Armed Services Committee – Hearing (2:00 PM, Tues, 27 March)

Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee hearing on “Understanding Future Irregular Warfare Challenges.”

Witnesses:  Seth Jones, senior political scientist at RAND Corporation; retired Army Col. Robert Killebrew, non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security; and retired Army Col. David Maxwell, associate director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, testify

Location: 2212 Rayburn House Office Building


House Armed Services Committee – Hearing (3:00 PM, Tues, 27 March)

Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee hearing on “FY2013 Defense Department Rotorcraft Modernization Programs.”

Witnesses: Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Terry Robling, deputy commandant for aviation; Navy Rear Adm. William Moran, director of the Navy’s Air Warfare Division; Richard Gilpin, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy in the Air Programs Office; Army Maj. Gen. William Crosby, program executive officer, Aviation Headquarters; Maj. Gen. Noel Jones, director of Operational Capability Requirements for the Air Force; and Maj. Gen. Robert Kane, director of global reach programs for the Air Force, testify

Location: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building


House Veterans’ Affairs Committee – Hearing (10:00 AM, Weds, 28 March)

Disability and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee hearing on “Reevaluating the transition from service member to Veteran: Honoring a shared commitment to care for those who defend our freedom.”

Witnesses: TBD

Location:  334 Cannon House Office Building


House Armed Services Committee – Hearing (2:00 PM, Weds, 28 March)

Readiness Subcommittee hearing on “Army and Marine Corps Materiel Reset.”

Witnesses: Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason, deputy chief of staff, logistics (G4); and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Frank Panter Jr., deputy commandant for installations and logistics, testify

Location: 2212 Rayburn House Office Building


House Armed Services Committee – Hearing (10:00 AM, Thurs, 29 March)

Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee hearing on “Oversight of U.S. Naval Vessel Acquisition Programs and Force Structure of the Department of the Navy in the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Budget Request.”

Witnesses:  Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development, and acquisition; Vice Adm. Terry Blake, deputy chief naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources (N-8); Lt. Gen. Richard Mills, deputy commander for combat development and integration, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; Phebe Novakovic, executive vice president of the Marine Group, General Dynamics Corporation; and Matthew Mulherin, president of Newport News Shipbuilding and corporate vice president for Huntington Ingalls Industries, testify

Location: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building


House Appropriations Committee – Hearing (10:30 AM, Thurs, 29 March)

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the FY2013 budget for the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea.

Witnesses: Adm. Samuel Lockear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command; and Gen. James Thurman, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, testify

Location:  H-140, U.S. Capitol 

Think tanks and other news events: 

The Brookings Institution: The U.S. Mission in Afghanistan

Washington D.C. (1:30 PM, Mon, 26 March)

Description: Foreign Policy at Brookings will host General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, for a discussion of the U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Participants: General John Allen, USMC, Commanding General ISAF

Location:  Falk Auditorium, The Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC


Kongsberg Protech Systems: Demonstration of the 10,000th PROTECTOR CROWS on Capitol Hill

Washington, D.C. (9:30 AM, Weds, 28 March)

Description:  Senator Patrick Toomey will host a celebration of the production of the 10,000th CROWS II remote weapon station for the U.S. Army outside the Russell Senate Office Building to mark the important milestone in this hugely successful program that saves soldiers lives.  The actual system will be on the Hill to demonstrate it’s capabilities mounted on a Humvee.

Participants: Senator Toomey and leaders from Norway’s Kongsberg Protech Systems

Location: Between the Russell Senate Office Building and Dirksen Senate Office Building at the corner of C St. NE and 1st St. NE, Washington, D.C.


The RAND Corporation: Defense Spending Efficiencies

Arlington, VA (8:30 AM, Thurs, 29 March)

Description:  Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee presents his views on ways DoD could save money and be more efficient with its funds.

Participants:  Representative Adam Smith

Location: 1200 South Hayes Street, Fourth Floor, Arlington VA 22202

Moves in Defense Media:

Paul McLeary is leaving Defense Technology International and moving to Defense News to cover the land warfare beat.  He tweets at @PaulMcLeary

From the ScoutComms Team:

McCaskill pulls the plug on BRAC

John Grady, ScoutComms

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill made it very clear that the Pentagon can pretty much forget the idea of getting a new Base Realignment and Closure round approved in this Congress or any time soon at all during a hearing last week on Capitol Hill.  Stating that the Department had not made its case and needed to close down unneeded overseas bases before coming to Congress she made it clear there is little appetite for another painful round of economically devastating base closings across the country.

Reversing PTSD diagnoses ‘very troubling’ to Hill, leads to top-level visit to JBLM

John Grady, ScoutComms

Recent revelations that a forensic psychology team had reversed hundreds of PTSD diagnoses in an apparent effort to save the Army at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has lawmakers angry and seeking answers from the Army’s leadership.  In light of the revelations the Army’s vice chief of staff, sergeant major and surgeon general headed out west to visit the post that has been at the center of a number of black eye’s for service including the recent mass killing of civilians in Afghanistan.  The Army leaders insist the base is not a problem location and all efforts are being made to ensure soldiers are treated based on their needs and not a budget.

Major themes and issues from last week: 

Killing of Afghan Civilians:

US says SSG Bales split Afghan killing spree

Robert Burns, Associated Press

Investigators now believe that accused Afghan mass murderer Staff Sergeant Robert Bales actually split his killing spree in two parts returning to base after his first attack in one village before going back out to a second.  It was on the return from the second attack that a search party found him and he was detained without incident.  The timeline is important because many have questioned how one man conducted such a large scale attack in the short time previously attributed to what is now believed to have only been the second round.  The Army is sure to face serious questions though on how a soldier could just slip on and off a military base in a hotly contested combat zone without being discovered or questioned as to his actions. We imagine there is an investigation going on asking those very questions now and if history is any judge the chain-of-command will face administrative punishment long before Bales goes to trial.

Combat stress rarely successful as defense for serious crime in the military

Megan McCloskey, Stars and Stripes

The attorney for SSG Robert Bales has been indicating he will pursue an argument of mental impairment for his client based on reports of TBI, PTSD and other issues.  Now charged with the premeditated murder of 17 civilians and wounding of 6 others, Bales faces a possible death penalty if found guilty. Stars and Stripes shows that an insanity defense has very little chance of succeeding and that no servicemember has ever been found not guilty by reason of insanity in the military justice system. At best there might be some influence at sentencing for the mitigating circumstances but even that will fall to a jury of men and women who have likely served multiple combat tours themselves so have little sympathy.  In the near term the story will probably help the recently set up legal defense fund for the soldier set up by his wife as sympathetic civilians leap to his defense as a victim of our wars.

Veterans and Military Issues:

Feds Fight Homelessness with Mobile App Challenge

Elizabeth Montalbano, Information Week

The VA, HUD and HHS have all teamed up with some support from Jon Bon Jovi of all people to launch the Project REACH Mobile App Challenge as an effort for app developers to use open data to create a mobile application that can help homeless veterans find assistance including medical, housing and jobs.  The backbone for the data will be the HUD’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), which will store info such as available homeless shelters for both the vets and those assisting them. The contest will award five $10,000 grants on August 24th to the top developers who will then be beta-tested and the app with the highest user satisfaction will win a $25,000 grand prize.

80% of wounded veterans cite mental health woes

Patricia Kime, Army Times

The Wounded Warrior Project released the results of their annual membership survey and found that nearly 80% of those surveyed reported having symptoms of combat related mental health condition while roughly half claimed some kind of TBI.  Among the 2,300 respondents 62% said they are dealing with depression, which is nearly 8 times the general population while a third said their mental challenges made it difficult to get or hold a job.  While in itself not surprising considering membership in WWP is made up of wounded servicemembers it goes to the larger issue of providing long term stable lives for those who have served in combat with the invisible wounds of war.

Beyond the Battlefield: Afghanistan’s Wounded Struggle With Genital Injuries

David Wood, Huffington Post

Wood tackles an incredibly uncomfortable topic but one which is growing in importance and frequency as more soldiers and Marines are suffering wounds to their genitals that are leaving devastating issues for the rest of their lives.  With the counterinsurgency tactics of foot patrols leaving more troops vulnerable to IED’s there has been a steady rise in damage to the genitals that has left military health care unprepared to deal with an issue well outside traditional combat wounds.  The system is quickly trying to catch up but with 200 wounds last year alone the distance to catch up is a long one.  Interesting article to read on this difficult issue.

Military, Budget and Industry Issues:

House panel to Defense: Simplify acquisition process

Zachary Fryer-Biggs, Federal Times

At a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday the House Armed Services Committee’s Panel on Business Challenges in the Defense Industry unveiled its 44 recommendations on how the government can improve the business environment. The 121-page report comes after roughly six months of hearings, field forums and research by the committee into how the DoD can work with and help preserve the defense industrial base in the face of budget cuts and other obstacles to doing business with the DoD.  They outline a series of recommendations from increasing the acquisition workforce to new ways to ensure better communications with contractors.  The regulatory challenges and bureaucratic hurdles of doing business the federal government are making it more difficult than ever for small businesses and others to go after federal programs leaving a less diverse contractor pool.

Press Release and link to full report here: Challenges to Doing Business with the Department of Defense

Pentagon Seeks Less for Construction, More for Conservation

Lisa Daniel, American Forces Press Service

Interestingly the DoD testified to Congress that they are reducing the budget for construction within the department while upping the investment in energy conservations methods.  The department owns over 300,000 buildings and has a nearly $4 billion energy bill every year which they believe can be reduced through a concerted effort to work with industry on cost saving technologies and innovations.  There are funds budgeted to build and improve DoD owned schools and medical facilities while most other categories were reduced.

SIPRI Arms Report Highlights High Asian Activity

Gerard O’Dwyer, Defense News

The Stockholm International Peace Institute issued its annual report on global arms exports and imports and found that the five biggest arms importing countries are now all in Asia making the biggest regional importer of defense equipment and systems. India is the world’s biggest importer followed by South Korea, Pakistan, China and Singapore.  China has greatly increased its national arms industry and has seen its exports go up 95% since 2002, mostly to Pakistan.  This trend is likely to continue as the Gulf States deal with an increasing threat from Iran and instability in the region.

The full SIPRI report is available here: Trends in international arms transfers, 2011

Lockheed F-35 Overruns Top $1 Billion, Government Auditor Finds

Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg

The Government Accounting Office testified to Congress that it has found that the first 63 F-35 fighter jets are exceeding the planned costs of the program by about $1 billion and questioning the design and manufacturing processes of the costliest weapons program in history.  The overrun costs will be shared by the Pentagon, to the tune of $672 million, and Lockheed Martin for the remaining $328 million. The slow drip of these revelations will continue to endanger this ‘do-or-die’ program for the Air Force and Navy if the aircraft can’t meet the expectations of Congress.

Communications and Social Media:

After Bales’ arrest, military tried to delete him from the Web

David Goldstein and Matthew Schofield, McClatchy Newspapers

It took nearly a week to release the name of accused Afghan shooter SSG Robert Bales and while the Army said it was to allow time to file charges it appears instead the goal was to move his family onto the safety of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and to take the unusual step to try and scrub him from the official internet channels of the Army.  The effort included taking down stories from the base newspaper on a combat mission in Iraq as well as other military records.  While the effort makes some sense it was strange in light of the near impossibility of truly removing info from the many-cached sites on the web and the fact the same was not done for Major Nidal Hissan, the Ft. Hood shooter.  No one seems to think it was a malicious effort but perhaps ill advised in its complexity.

APNewsBreak: Marine critical of Obama faces charge

Julie Watson, Associated Press

The Marine Corps notified the founder of the Facebook page ‘Armed Forces Tea Party’ Sgt. Gary Stein that he has violated military regulations with his political activities and comments on the page disparaging the President and Secretary of Defense and will face dismissal from the service.  The case is being badly misunderstood as some kid who just said things on his personal Facebook page, even by former Marine Congressman Duncan Hunter, but the situation is actually one of establishing a political activist group via Facebook that now has well over 17,000 fans.  His actions go beyond simply making comments to friends, but are in clear violation of military codes prohibiting anything beyond personal political activities.  Stein will likely be a darling of certain segments of the population who have no understanding of military protocol and only see this as stifling his free speech.  Simply, if he wants to be a political activist he is free to do so…as soon as he leaves uniformed service.

Tweeting the Taliban: Social media’s role in 21st century propaganda

Mark Piesing, UK

This is an interesting article on the British military’s embrace of social media and the hurdles they have faced breaking through traditional minded leadership and worried about operational security.  Its interesting in a few ways but not the least of which is how it could have been written, and was several times, about the U.S. military just three years ago.  Worries about social media being little more than a distraction to a danger to troops are quickly being overrun by the ability to tell the military story to a larger audience directly.

Other Items of Interest: 

12 Rangers get Silver Stars for Afghan heroics

Michelle Tan, Army Times

Twelve members of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield were awarded the nation’s third highest medal for combat bravery.  The group, which includes two posthumous awardees, received their decorations for actions over two deployments to Afghanistan and included one soldier who was mistakenly bitten by one of our own working dogs and continued to fight the enemy with the dog latched on to his arm, a platoon sergeant who made repeated trips into a minefield to treat wounded soldiers and a Captain who climbed a 130 foot ridge under fire to destroy an enemy OP among others.  Worth the time to find out the amazing combat heroics being accomplished by our nations elite warriors that rarely get exposed to the larger world.

Secret Bases, ATVs, Awesome Beards: Inside a Special Forces Team in Afghanistan

David Axe, Danger Room

@Daxe got the opportunity to spend some time with Special Forces Task Force 10 in Afghanistan in February and has a somewhat whimsical take on the life of a special forces soldier from the fact that they really aren’t all that big and they wear very cool beards.  It’s a good story to address some myths that exist about the Green Beret and shows them to be what most of us realize as men valued for their independence and adaptability rather than hulking killers with super high tech gear.

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