Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
August 29, 2015

Laws Pose Obstacle to Hacktivist Efforts Against ISIL

“Hacker-activists across the world have launched an online war against the so-called Islamic State, targeting the web-savvy jihadists’ vast Internet network of supporters and suspected sleeper cells,” writes The Christian Science Monitor, “But bureaucracy at a wary FBI and stringent US laws against hacking are slowing these efforts to take down the IS web forums and social media accounts.”

“Various groups of anonymous citizen hackers are taking on the jihadists, including Ghost Security, an alliance of 12 like-minded hackers with military and intelligence backgrounds. Known as GhostSec, the group seeks to monitor and flag various web forums and social media accounts allegedly used by the group to communicate to its followers.”

“The FBI remains wary of anonymous hacker groups and skeptical of their tip-offs, forcing groups such as GhostSec to go through third-party intelligence firms to provide federal officials with information gathered from IS sites… Moreover, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) criminalizes the distribution of malicious code or the unauthorized altering of US-hosted computers and servers. With many of GhostSec’s members operating from within the US or fearing US prosecution, the hacktivists instead alert concerned US authorities and web administrators to take down IS-linked web forums and social media accounts themselves. Going through the proper legal channels at times takes weeks.”

Was There A Better Way To Defeat Anwar al-Awlaki?

Scott Shane: “The government has a portentous euphemism — ‘‘removed from the battlefield’’ — for the targeted killing of terrorists. But Awlaki has by no means been removed from the most important battlefield in any ideological conflict, the battlefield of ideas… For counterterrorism investigators, such discoveries have become routine: Check the suspect’s laptop, and Awlaki will be prominent in the download and search history. This has held true in dozens of cases.”

“So, was there a better idea of how to deal with Awlaki once he had joined Al Qaeda? Yemeni tribes might have been induced to capture him and turn him over, but a criminal trial would have given a global audience to a mesmerizing orator. Martyrdom would have been avoided, but his YouTube presence would have lived on intact. A more outlandish idea was raised immediately after Awlaki’s death by Ed Husain, a former British militant… Husain suggested then, and believes now, that a better approach might have been a careful, high-profile public release of the prostitution files on Awlaki.”

Light Humvee Contract Goes to Oshkosh

“Oshkosh won the Pentagon’s $30 billion sweepstakes to replace the U.S. Army’s Humvee with up to 55,000 new Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, or JLTVs, over the next 25 years,” Defense One reports.

“The Army awarded a $6.7 billion contract Tuesday to Oshkosh for an initial batch of 17,000 vehicles for the Army and Marine Corps. Production will begin in the first quarter of fiscal 2016…with a later decision on the full scale of production to come in 2018, the year the vehicles are expected to be ready for battle.”

“Years of difficult combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, full of harsh terrain and roadside bombs, compelled the Army to seek an armored vehicle to replace the Humvee. They sought a truck that was tougher and better-armored in critical spots, but also agile and capable of off-road maneuvering. The JLTV is meant to recover the vehicle performance lost when the Army and Marine Corps had to up-armor Humvees to protect troops from an abundance of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in Iraq and Afghanistan”

“The truck is the first built for networked military operations. And a CH-47 Chinook or CH-53 heavy-lift helicopter will be able to carry the JLTV, unlike the heavier MRAP.”

Boeing Offers Holistic Solution to Help Address U.S. Navy Super Hornet Shortfall


ARABIAN GULF (Aug. 21, 2015) An F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Knighthawks of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 launches from the flight deck during flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Theodore Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anna Van Nuys/Released)

At a recent discussion on Navy and Marine Corps aviation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Naval Air Force commander, highlighted a Super Hornet Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) as part of the solution for the Navy’s shortfall of F/A-18 E/Fs in the mid-2020s.

“I think we’ve got a pretty good plan right now to move forward and avoid a significant impact to our strike fighter inventory as those airplanes come out of service to get repaired and get back into service,” Shoemaker says of upgrading F/A-18s. “It’s not an inconsequential challenge we have ahead of us.”

Boeing is having ongoing dialogue with U.S. Navy officials to offer a holistic solution to help solve their inventory management issues. As described in an article from National Defense, the company is working to help accelerate the SLEP program to help provide continual maintenance and extend the life of the Super Hornet fleet. The Navy plans to extend the Super Hornet’s life from its 6,000 hour design limit to 9,000 hours but still faces significant strike fighter inventory issues even with this life extension.

This spring, the Chief of Naval Operations testified before Congress that the Navy was facing a Super Hornet shortfall of two to three squadrons, or 24 – 36 aircraft. The Navy requested 12 Super Hornets as a top unfunded priority this year.

With the unmatched capability of the carrier strike group and its embarked air wing, funding the 12 aircraft in fiscal year 2016 is critical to not only address the Navy’s near-term needs, but also to keep the door open so Boeing can provide an integrated solution to be sure the Navy has enough Super Hornets – the workhorse of our Nation’s carrier fleet – not only now but through 2040.

How Obama Can Strengthen The Iran Nuclear Deal

Dennis Ross and Gen. David Petraeus (Ret.) explain why they remain undecided on the nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

“The fact that President Obama emphasizes that the plan depends on verification — not trust — also means that he is not assuming Iran will change. But verification means only that we can catch the Iranians if they cheat; what matters even more is that the Iranians recognize that they will pay a meaningful price when we catch them. In other words, deterrence is the key to ensuring not just that the Iranians live up to the agreement but also to preventing them from developing nuclear weapons.”

“Now is the time for the Iranians and the world to know that if Iran dashes toward a weapon, especially after year 15, that it will trigger the use of force… It is critically important for the president to state this clearly, particularly given his perceived hesitancy to use force. Indeed, were Obama to be unequivocal about the use of force should Iran violate its commitment not to seek nuclear weapons, the international community would accept the legitimacy of military strikes in response.”

“Bolstering deterrence is essential in addressing key vulnerabilities we see in the deal. A blunter statement on the consequences of Iran moving toward a weapon and of producing highly enriched uranium would allay some of our concerns.”

F-35 Numbers Not Under Review

“The Pentagon is not conducting a formal review of F-35 planned procurement numbers…despite comments by the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that indicate otherwise,” according to Defense News.

“In written testimony for his nomination hearing last month, Gen. Joe Dunford seemed to signal that a review of the total projected buy of the F-35 — 2,443 in total, spread across three models for the Air Force, Marines and Navy — was underway.”

“On Tuesday, however, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook stated that no major review of the numbers is underway…But with the Pentagon looking for ways to keep costs down in the face of lower-than-desired budget levels going forward, all programs are at least being looked at. That situation will likely escalate if Congress looks towards a long-term continuing resolution.”

Consumer Drones Pose Increasing Risk

“Rogue drone operators are rapidly becoming a national nuisance, invading sensitive airspace and private property — with the regulators of the nation’s skies largely powerless to stop them,” The Washington Post writes.

“In a July 31 intelligence bulletin, the Department of Homeland Security said it had recorded more than 500 incidents since 2012 in which rogue drones hovered over ‘sensitive sites and critical installations,’ such as military bases and nuclear plants.”

“In general, drone misadventures are happening in a regulatory vacuum. The FAA has banned most commercial drone flights until it can finalize new safety rules — a step that will take at least another year. But people who fly drones for fun aren’t regulated. Under a law passed in 2012 that was designed in part to protect model-airplane enthusiasts, the FAA cannot impose new restrictions on recreational drone owners. As a result, they are not required to obtain licenses, register their aircraft or undergo training.”

Harnessing the Power of Renewable Energy

image001-9Energy storage is a critical component to supply local energy generation for both grid and off-grid connected facilities and communities, enabling localized grid independent energy secure power in cases of emergencies or unreliable traditional grid use. Given the energy security requirements and cost of importing fuel to islanded grids, such as Diego Garcia, Hawaii, and Guam the US Navy is aggressively exploring onsite power generation with alternative and renewable energy technologies.

Energy storage is crucial to balancing the inherent variability of renewable energy generation such as solar photovoltaic, reducing fuel consumption, and providing critical power in the event of power outages. Solar photovoltaic, wind and other renewables are widely being adapted by the Navy for utility and micro-grid energy production.

As with utility grid operators, the US Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Engineering & Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC)  is being faced with the challenges of intermittent and variability in energy production from such renewables.  As a result, utility operators must reduce their primary load generation to offset the incoming renewable energy.  In cases in which renewable generation is high, and consumption is low, the primary power generators must be reduced to their minimum operating load and excess renewable energy must be curtailed if energy storage is not available.

To meet the Navy’s goals toward net zero emissions, NAVFAC EXWC has been looking towards novel energy storage technologies and power systems to supply clean renewable energy to their facility operations.  There has been particular interest in reversible solid oxide fuel cells (RSOFCs) in the energy sector for energy storage, grid stabilization and improvement to power plant system efficiency due to favorable thermodynamic efficiencies of high temperature steam electrolysis.

In these systems, excess grid energy or curtailed power generated by renewables is sent to the system operating in electrolysis mode to produce H2. The H2 is stored and then used in the system’s fuel cell mode to provide supplemental power to the grid during peak hours or as needed. Boeing has been active in the development of both PEM and SOFC system development and is working with NAVFAC EXWC to develop a novel fully integrated, grid tied RSOFC system for remote islands, military forward operating base microgrids and commercial utility energy storage.

The RSOFC system is the largest fully integrated grid tied reversible solid oxide fuel cell system to be demonstrated, scalable from 50 kW to several MW (enough to fuel 40 average size homes for 12-24 hours) and can be utilized in nearly any location to help ensure energy secure and steady power supply while at the same time utilizing renewable energy sources. Its modular design helps support rapid deployment of energy solutions for the Navy and commercial utilities.

The system is currently under operational testing and will be fully deployed in 2016.

The fuel cell stack passed all tests conducted onsite at the manufacturer’s (Sunfire) factory in Dresden, Germany in July.  The stack will be integrated with the system in Huntington Beach in September 2015.  Of note the RSOFC only requires two resources to operate in a perfect hydrogen economy 24/7 with degradation less than 1%/1,000 hours of operation:  water and electricity (from the sun via solar photovoltaics).

U.S. China Mil-to-Mil Ties Set to Reach Historic High

“There’s plenty of friction between the U.S. and China these days, but at least one aspect of the relationship hasn’t been this strong since the 20th century,” according to Defense One. “Military-to-military contacts — from low-level exercises all the way up to presidential and four-star visits — have been shooting up since 2010, and are on pace to reach historic highs.”

“A normal military relationship with an ally encompasses everything from meetings with top officials and commanders to educational exchanges to military exercises. Even avowed enemies can work together; the U.S. and the Soviet Union maintained extensive military-to-military relations even at its height of the Cold War. But the relationship with China is something new: a superpower interacting with a regionally influential great power with global aspirations.”

U.S. officials view military-to-military contacts as a path to relationships and understanding that can help ward off miscalculation and war… The U.S. has also tried to use such contacts to goad Beijing toward transparency and guide its arrival as a world leader… As for China, it has long seemed to regard mil-to-mil contacts less as a tool and more as a signal. Beijing switched contacts on and off depending on the state of diplomatic relations”

Intelligence Community Calls on Private Tech Companies for Innovative Solutions

“The intelligence community this month quietly released an unprecedented, unclassified five-year-road map charting the future of data analysis it wants commercial start-ups like ride-sharing firm Uber to read,” according to National Journal.

“The chart, part of a larger science and technology strategy, is aimed at encouraging unconventional makers like the car service app-developer and traditional tech contractors to help fund answers to oncoming national security problems… Powers U.S. spies need that no one is funding yet include, for example, expertise in determining the biases of social-media site moderators, geolocation in the presence of encryption, room-temperature quantum computing, and immersive virtual-world user experience.”

“The collaboration environment is located on a top-secret system called Jwics, for Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. It’s easy to compare this venture to a wiki, but unlike, say, Wikipedia, the spy system must be able to push out edits to relevant agencies and relevant companies in a timely fashion.”

As Auto Industry Cyber Safety Lags, Lawmakers Propose New Regulations

The Washington Post reports that “experts and lawmakers are warning the auto industry and regulators to move faster to plug holes created by the dozens of new computers and the growing number of Internet connections in today’s automobiles.”

“The average new car has 40 to 50 computers that run 20 million lines of software code, more than a Boeing 787… Mark Rosekind, who heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has urged the industry to set cybersecurity standards and avoid government regulation. But two Democratic senators, Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, have introduced a bill that would force the industry to seal off critical computers and add technology to stop hackers in real time.”

“Security experts say automakers should have systems that recognize rogue commands and stop them from taking control of a car. Some already do. They also say car companies must behave more like the personal computer industry, instantaneously updating software via the Internet to stay ahead in a perpetual cat-and-mouse game. Tesla and BMW already can do this, and nearly all automakers are planning for it.”

P-8A Poseidon Simulator: Complex Training, Reducing Cost


The P-8A Poseidon is an aircraft designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

The P-8A Poseidon training system provides a high-fidelity environment for U.S. Navy aircrew to learn the skills they need when encountering an adversary – all while keeping them safe.

P-8A air and mission crews train at the Navy’s 165,000 square foot Integrated Training Center at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, which houses simulators, electronic classrooms and courseware delivered by Boeing.  Seventy percent of the training across the fleet is completed on the ground, including in the simulated environment, with the remaining 30 percent in flight.

“I can do higher risk training, simulating scenarios such as weapons employment or engine loss, which are difficult to replicate in the airplane safely,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Andy Miller, Officer in Charge of the P-8A Fleet Integration Team. “We can achieve high-level, quality training, while also reducing the required infrastructure and overall costs.”

Training occurs on two different systems, one meant for the flight station and another for the mission crew. Coupled together, the Operational Flight Trainer (OFT) and Weapons Tactics Trainer (WTT) form the Weapons System Trainer (WST), which allows the flight station and mission crew to rehearse all mission areas.

“We get the bulk of the training done in the OFT and WST, which accounts for 70 percent of P-8A training across the fleet,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Curtis Phillips, Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron VP-30. “That capability is tremendous. We have the potential in our current simulation model to further increase the fidelity of larger exercises against ever changing adversaries and capabilities. Missions are increasingly complex and, quite frankly, have become cost prohibitive to train for through routine live flying events.”

NAS Jacksonville houses 20 trainers, and Boeing will install 16 more at the Navy’s facility at Whidbey Island, Wash. in 2016.

How a Republican President Would Approach the Iran Deal

Jeffrey Goldberg spoke with Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) about his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and how he would handle the deal if elected president.

“I would highlight a number of points. The first is that Rubio made it clear he believes that Barack Obama will have his way on Iran: that Congress will not be able to muster a sufficient number of votes to override the president’s veto of an initial, Republican-led rejection of the Iran nuclear deal.”

“Rubio argued that an Obama victory now would not necessarily translate into what the White House, or the Iranians, would see as a permanent win. He was blunt about what he would do should he reach the White House: undo, in whatever way possible, the deal. He believes it is inevitable that Iran will be caught cheating on its obligations, and when it does, he would be ready to mete out punishment—including to companies that will presumably be rushing into the Iranian market once the deal is finalized.”

Do Military Officers Really Need a College Degree?

Benjamin Luxenberg: “Military recruiters and top brass like to repeat the refrain that the average member of the armed forces is better educated than the average American… These statistics, though, involve a bit of self-selection: Most officers have a bachelor’s degree because becoming an officer generally requires one, though this prerequisite appears increasingly anachronistic.”

“Instead of mandating that officers have college degrees, the military should expand alternative avenues to officership… If aspiring officers must demonstrate commitment and responsibility, completing a four-year enlistment should suffice. If they must prove raw intellectual aptitude, high scores on the military’s own General Classification Test should be enough. If they must have general knowledge and the ability to think and write coherently, an exam akin to the State Department’s Foreign Service Officer Test would work.”

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