Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
October 31, 2014

Pentagon: No Budget Soon

Defense News reports that “the Pentagon’s chief financial officer admitted on Wednesday that he is ‘not super optimistic’ about Congress reaching a budget deal once the current continuing resolution temporarily funding the federal government expires on Dec. 11.”

“’What I do worry about is that we’re looking at a ‘new normal’ where people think [a budget being approved] three months late isn’t a problem anymore’ said Comptroller Mike McCord during an afternoon speech at the TechAmerica defense industry conference in suburban Washington.

Even getting a budget done this year “doesn’t seem that likely” since Congress will be locked in a lame duck session after the midterm elections in November. Instead, it’s more likely that the looming debt ceiling expiration next spring will be the next best chance for Congress and the White House to reach a deal.

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Inside Ebola Quarantine, Army General Gives Interview

CNN reports: “They’re just back from the Ebola hot zone, they can’t have any physical contact with family or loved ones and their plastic forks are being burned after each use.”

“But American troops quarantined in Italy have good morale and are proud of their work against the “silent enemy” of Ebola, according to Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, who is being isolated alongside his soldiers at the Army base in Vicenza.”

“U.S. Army personnel will continue to be placed in 21-day quarantine as they return home to their base in Italy, according to Williams, commander of U.S. Army forces in Africa, who spoke to CNN from within the isolation area by military video conference.”

Vets Honor Service Dogs Who Saved Their Lives

Stars and Stripes reports that “before the race started, competitors were smelling the dirt and leaves on the road. Others deigned not to dirty their feet on the cold pavement and instead were being carried.”

“As the starting buzzer went off Sunday, a few of the competitors ran — others walked — the 1-mile course in D.C.”

“The inaugural Dogs of War 2K-9 race, held for servicemembers and veterans with their dogs and in partnership with the Marine Corps Marathon, was created to honor servicemembers and bring awareness to therapy dogs. It was also part promotion for the new A&E television show ‘Dogs of War,’ which premiers in November. The star of the show is veteran Jim Stanek, and he helps other veterans receive service dogs.”

New Poseidon Arrives at NAS Jacksonville; 5th P-8A Delivery of Year

Boeing delivered the 18th P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft on Oct. 15 to the US Navy ahead of schedule, further expanding its fleet. The P-8A joined previously delivered aircraft being used to train Navy crews at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., in preparation for the next deployment.

The 18th Navy P-8A departs from Seattle for NAS Jacksonville. (Boeing photo)

The 18th Navy P-8A departs from Seattle for NAS Jacksonville. (Boeing photo)

The second operational squadron — the VP-5 ‘Mad Foxes’ — is currently conducting missions operating out of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. Prior to VP-5’s arrival in Japan, the VP-16 ‘War Eagles’ were deployed for seven months before returning to the U.S. in July 2014. While deployed they completed 600 sorties and 3,500 flight hours.

The P-8 is the first new maritime patrol aircraft to enter Navy service in more than 50 years. While on deployment Navy crews are flying anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; maritime domain awareness; search and rescue; carrier strike group coordination; and theater security cooperation missions throughout the Western Pacific.

The P-8A is a revolutionary, low-cost solution and key component of the naval aviation mission offering greater payload capacity, higher operating altitude and easily upgradeable systems. Boeing is using a first-in-industry in-line production process to build P-8A aircraft to military specifications, while leveraging the same processes and tooling that produces 737 commercial aircraft. The result is that the Navy is receiving the maritime patrol aircraft it needs, on cost and on schedule.

Overall, the Navy plans to acquire 117 P-8As to replace its P-3 fleet. Currently, Boeing is on contract to build 53 aircraft. The first P-8A production plane arrived at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., in March 2012.

Military Personnel to Hide Identities to Avoid Terrorist Attacks

The Washington Times reports that “the agency in charge of protecting the Pentagon has sent out a warning that “ISIL-linked terrorists” want to attack employees and is urging them to change routines and mask their identities.”

“The Pentagon Force Protection Agency, citing intelligence reports, says members of the Islamic State terrorist group, also known by the acronym ISIL, may use knives, guns or explosives.”

“’Recent threats, revealed through various intelligence and law enforcement sources, indicate that terrorists, directed or inspired by the Islamic States of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), view members of U.S. military members and law enforcement officers as legitimate targets for attacks,’ the agency warns in memo that The Washington Times has obtained.”

Fox News to Air Interview with Navy SEAL Who Killed Bin Laden

Fox News announced that it will “present a new documentary entitled “The Man Who Killed Usama Bin Laden” hosted by Washington correspondent Peter Doocy, on Tuesday, November 11th and Wednesday, November 12th from 10-11PM/ET.”

“The two-night presentation will feature an exclusive interview with the Navy SEAL who says he fired the shots that killed terrorist leader Usama Bin Laden. In the special, he describes the events leading up to and during the historical raid that took place on May 1st, 2011.”

“Revealing his identity and speaking out publicly for the first time, the Navy SEAL, also known as ‘The Shooter,’ will share his story of training to be a member of America’s elite fighting force and explain his involvement in Operation Neptune Spear, the mission that killed Bin Laden.”

Hagel: Ebola Troops to Get 21-day Quarantine

The Associated Press reports that “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday approved a recommendation by military leaders that all U.S. troops returning from Ebola response missions in West Africa be kept in supervised isolation for 21 days.”

“The move goes beyond precautions recommended by the Obama administration for civilians, although President Barack Obama has made clear he feels the military’s situation is different from that of civilians, in part because troops are not in West Africa by choice.”

“Hagel described the new policy for putting returning troops in quarantine-like isolation as a “safety valve.” He acted in response to a recommendation sent to him Tuesday by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on behalf of the heads of each of the military services. They cited numerous factors, including concerns among military families and the communities from which troops are deploying for the Ebola response mission.”

Defense Department and Industry Partner to Write History

Taking innovation cues from the non-defense world is one way the defense industry can help the U.S. military maintain global technological supremacy. Finding and keeping the right talent to execute on current programs while setting long-range plans to identify what’s next on the horizon is another.

That’s the perspective Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and CEO Chris Chadwick shared in his remarks at the Center for a New American Security on Oct. 14 in Washington. The forum focused on the important partnership between industry and defense to find new and innovative ways to equip the most capable military in the world now and in the future.

Chadwick cited examples, such as the gaming industry, where there’s already heavy investment in R&D as an area where defense companies can leverage technologies to benefit the warfighter. Partnering with non-traditional companies can speed development and make platforms more affordable.

To find these creative solutions for the U.S. military, the defense industry also must attract the best and brightest people. This starts by inspiring young people with the art of the possible and continues with a commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs to foster the talent.

With the right team and a vision for the future, Chadwick said defense companies should also form a strong partnership with government to help the DoD stay ahead of its adversaries. Industry seeks stability and clarity in the requirements while the Defense Department expects companies to deliver on time and on cost. Aligning the defense industry with government achieves these objectives and provides a special opportunity, Chadwick said, to find the way forward, and to write the history together that needs to be written.

Hagel Undecided on Ebola Troops Quarantine

Army Times reports that “the military’s top officers are recommending a sweeping rule imposing a 21-day quarantine on all troops returning from Ebola-stricken West Africa, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has made no final decision, defense officials said Tuesday.”

“The recommendation officially delivered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff raises new concerns about the safety of the nearly 4,000 troops expected to deploy to Liberia during the next several weeks. Military officials say those troops will not have direct contact with Ebola patients but instead will be providing logistical support and building new treatment facilities for civilian health care workers.”

“Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to offer details of the chiefs’ recommendation, which runs counter to the current guidance from civilian health experts who say a quarantine is not necessary for people who show no symptoms of the often-deadly disease.”

NSA Heads Doesn’t Want ‘Privacy Information’

Defense News reports that “the chief of the National Security Agency offered assurances Tuesday that the agency does not want access to companies’ private data as he spoke in support of pending cybersecurity legislation.”

“’I don’t want privacy information. It creates challenges for me, it slows me down,’ said Adm. Mike Rogers, who also heads US Cyber Command, speaking at the US Chamber of Commerce, adding later: ‘I’m not interested in anybody writing a blank check for US Cyber Command or the National Security Agency.’”

“Privacy advocates have criticized two pending pieces of legislation, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (CISA). The American Civil Liberties Union warns that CISA legislation could be a backdoor for the government to collect Americans’ personal data and target government whistleblowers.”

U.S. Military Sales to Allies: More Than $34 Billion

Navy Times reports that “the U.S. government helped facilitate the sale of $34.2 billion worth of defense equipment to allies during fiscal 2014, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on Monday, a slight uptick from the roughly $30 billion in sales in 2013.”

“Sales were led by a few blockbuster deals that helped some of the largest US defense firms continue to post strong numbers despite the relative slowing of defense spending by the Pentagon.”

“Leading the list was the $11 billion purchase of 10 Patriot missile batteries by Qatar in July, a deal that included 24 Apache helicopters and 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles.”

Navy Building New EW Strategy, Breaking Defense Reports

With our adversaries making rapid advances in commercial electronics, the Navy is building a plan to retake control of the electromagnetic spectrum, Breaking Defense reports. In the new plan, the EA-18G Growler will become the cornerstone of a network that will also include drones, surface forces and submarines. Click here to read the article.


(Boeing photo)

Inside U.S. Military’s War on Drones

Vice News reports that “exercise Black Dart is the US military’s largest live-fly, live-fire counter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) exercise. This year’s annual exercise was the 10th, and the first time any press were allowed access. The fact that Black Dart has been a relatively secret deal up to now makes a certain amount of sense. There’s already a fair amount of hush-hush on drones in general, and Black Dart is about drones and cutting-edge military technology.”

“VICE News got access to the exercises this year to film an episode of our show War Games, and it gave us the opportunity to dig in to the US military’s counter drone efforts and what they mean. Most of our time at Black Dart was on the flight line, observing the launch and recovery of the different drone species buzzing off the California coast, doing their cute little drone things.”

“Black Dart is fundamentally bizarre. Not because the US military wants to figure out how to counter drones — that’s perfectly reasonable. Current and potential opponents have or are acquiring UAVs of various sorts, so getting a leg up is an obvious thing to do.”

NATO Head Calls on Allies to Increase Defense Spend, Russia Ties

Defense News reports that “in a confident appearance at a debate organized by the German Marshall Fund think tank on Tuesday, new NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke about his aims to persuade NATO countries to boost defense spending and to build a constructive relationship with Russia.”

“’There is no contradiction between being pro-collective defense and a strong NATO and pro-engagement with Russia. We need a strong defense to be engaged with Russia. NATO and Russia are here to stay. We’ll have a relationship with Russia. The question is not whether, but what kind of relationship,’ he said. ‘A strong alliance and increasing defense spending in real terms create the fundamentals for relating to Russia in a cooperative way.’”

“’In the past, we [NATO and Russia] looked at each other with suspicion, relied on deterrence, and talked to avoid misunderstandings and escalation. We can see echoes of that now,’ he warned. ‘The alternative is a relationship based on the rule of law and not the law of the strongest, on common interests and not illusions.” Here, he put the ball firmly in Russia’s court, saying: “To get there, Russia would need to want it and make clear steps to make it possible.’”

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