Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 1, 2015

Congressman ‘Boasts’ About Gitmo Proposal

Florida Politics reports that “President Obama hinted last week that he still may try to close the Guantánamo Bay prison through executive action when he signed an updated national defense authorization bill last week, he had no issue with a provision that maintains that the naval station at GITMO will not be closed or abandoned.”

“The Obama administration has emphasized from the beginning of this year that it wouldn’t transfer the base back to Cuba, but the language in the NDAA came from a measure introduced earlier this year by Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly. Jolly introduced the Naval Station Guantánamo Bay Protection Act (H.R. 654) in February, just days after Cuban President Raul Castro said normalized relations would not be possible without transferring the base to the Cuban government.”

“’Gitmo is a critical asset to our country’s national security, providing a persistent U.S. presence and immediate access to the region, as well as supporting a layered defense to secure the air and maritime approaches to the United States,’ Jolly said in a statement released on Monday.”

US Military Dependents No Longer Need British Visa

Stars and Stripes reports that “dependents of U.S. servicemembers assigned to the United Kingdom will no longer need a British visa.”

“The requirement that all dependents obtain a U.K. visa before arriving has been dropped as long as the spouse or dependent child under age 21 is listed on the sponsor’s military orders, Air Force officials said.”

“The new regulations went into effect Saturday.”

Legislation to Help Military Dogs Return to U.S.

Washington Times reports that “the U.S. military prides itself on ‘leaving no man behind,’ but it’s been a different story for some of its war dogs.”

“America’s fighting canines, who undoubtedly saved many lives in battle by detecting hidden bombs, do not always make it home during the long war on terrorism for a variety of reasons. Some were retired overseas, making them ‘civilians’ ineligible for military-funded transportation back to the States.”

The report continues: “Now Congress has stepped in. Tucked inside the 2016 Defense Department budget bill signed by President Obama is a new law that directs the military to bring home all working dogs stateside if they are being retired.”

Topic A: Defense

Flying Ground Surveillance

The U.S. Air Force is poised to replace 17 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft with a new platform and improved technology. JSTARS aircraft are designed to provide command and control and the ability to survey ground moving targets to support attack operations. Boeing was selected as one of three potential providers for the new JSTARS fleet.

Based on the 737-700 platform, the Boeing JSTARS recapitalization leverages decades of expertise transforming commercial platforms for military use. It will provide the right size platform coupled with aerial refueling capability to execute the long range JSTARS missions. A 737 modified into JSTARS aircraft offers a best platform-to-mission match, in terms of low acquisition cost, fielded capability and long term total ownership affordability. At the same time, it meets the current USAF requirements for ground surveillance and targeting missions.

The size of the aircraft and the ability of the crew to perform the mission over long on-station times was factored into the evaluation of the size of the aircraft. And if we know one thing about platforms that have a planned life expectancy of 30 years or more, there is going to be a need to grow the capabilities. This affects not only the sensor, but communications, and computing capabilities, which tend to add weight, require more power, and need more cooling. Smaller platforms just don’t have that kind of growth potential.

With a set of virtual reality goggles, military personnel can tour the JSTARS offering from nose to tail. Stepping inside the virtual plane and pointing a joystick control at the interior reveals various configurations for work stations, additional cargo and equipment. The virtual mockup tool provides a collaborative approach to explore options for the best combination of technology and talent to meet the USAF needs.

The Boeing JSTARS aircraft will incorporate open mission architecture based on proven battle management command and control software from the fielded technologies of the P-8A, Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) Block 40/45 mission system.  Additionally, the worldwide footprint of 8,000 737s will provide the most cost-effective and competitive environment for support and sustainability throughout the life of the program.

Report: U.S. May Send More Troops to Syria

USA Today reports that “the Pentagon will consider deploying more special operations troops to fight Islamic State militants if its pilot project in Syria shows signs of progress, a senior Defense official told USA TODAY on Monday.”

“The Pentagon last month announced that 50 commandos would be sent to northern Syria to advise forces battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS. Sending that initial force amounts to ‘breaking the seal’ on inserting special operations forces in Syria and could lead to further deployments, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about planning. The Pentagon will not comment on whether those commandos have arrived in Syria.”

Chinese Military Reduced American Hacks American After Indictments

The Washington Post reports that “the Chinese military scaled back its cybertheft of American commercial secrets in the wake of Justice Department indictments of five officers, and the surprising drawdown shows that the law enforcement action had a more significant impact than is commonly assumed, current and former U.S. officials said.”

“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has not substantially reengaged in commercial cyberespionage since then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced charges against the officers in May 2014, the officials said.”

“It is still unclear, however, whether President Xi Jinping will be able to deliver on a September pledge to President Obama that China would not conduct economic spying in cyberspace to benefit its own companies.”

NY Nat’l Guard Sends Christmas Trees to U.S. Military Bases Overseas

The New York Daily News reports that “soldiers and airmen from the New York National Guard are helping in the annual effort to send Christmas trees to military bases around the country and overseas.”

“Monday morning, National Guard soldiers from upstate Latham’s 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters will join members of the 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia at the Ellms tree farm in Ballston Spa.”

Topic A: Defense

Rethink Business and Beat the Best-Case Cost Estimate for the U.S. Navy

Boeing photo 1“You want me to take it over there, chop it up and then rebuild it?”

Seems backwards…even time-consuming and costly, doesn’t it?  And yet, that was the conversation in years past when military capabilities were added to a non-military aircraft.

Until now.  Enter the P-8A Poseidon, a military aircraft built for the U.S. Navy.  When that product was designed, Boeing asked the question:  “How can we do this better and cheaper?”  The answer:  In-line production.  Make the military version part of the commercial production line.

Seems simple, but it was an industry-first.

For the P-8A, based on the 737-800 platform, it all begins in Wichita, KS where the fuselage is built by Spirit AeroSystems on their commercial line, just using materials and adding structural changes specifically engineered for the P-8A. Work continues in Renton, Washington in the same Boeing Commercial Airplanes 737 production facility where the company builds 42 airplanes per month.  And then the military systems specialists add the Boeing Photo 2final pieces. The result?  Faster production, dramatic cost savings, a customer who receives their aircraft when they need it.

In-line production for the P-8A has been so successful – reducing production time from the first jet to the current jet by 50 percent and reducing cost by more than 30 percent – that Boeing is moving even more work from the final “mission equipment installation” phase back into the commercial production line.  And they plan to use the power of in-line production on other commercial derivative programs too.

How has this helped the U.S. Navy?  Check out Capt. Dillon’s comments here.

Could ‘Augmented Reality’ Solve Carrier Cost Concerns?

National Defense Magazine reports that “executives at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, the Huntington Ingalls division that is constructing the Navy’s next-generation Ford-class supercarriers, said new technology employing digital design and construction could help reduce labor hours and lower acquisition costs for the program, which has endured criticism by lawmakers for budget overruns and delays.”

“In June, Rear Adm. Tom Moore, program executive officer for aircraft carriers, told reporters that the Ford-class program could save $1 billion by decreasing the man hours needed to construct CVN-79, the USS John F. Kennedy, by 18 percent compared to CVN-78, the USS Gerald R. Ford.”

“Augmented reality (AR) technology — which takes a real-world environment and supplements it with computer-generated sensory data such as graphics — could help achieve that goal, according to executives at the shipbuilding company. The technology originated from designing the Ford-class carrier with 3D modeling, said Patrick Ryan, the company’s engineering manager. The shipbuilder wanted to use the electronic and digital information it had generated, place it into the hands of its workers, and ‘turn it from more than just a design tool … into a construction tool,’ he said.”

Number of Foreigners Serving in U.S. Military Who Receive American Citizenship Drops

The Virginian-Pilot reports that “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services figures show the number of foreigners serving in the U.S. military who become Americans is sharply declining. In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 7,709 became U.S. citizens, down from 9,239 the year before, a drop of about 17 percent. That’s the lowest number since 2007, when 5,895 service members were naturalized.”

Happy Thanksgiving to U.S. Military!

We want to wish all U.S. military personnel stationed here at home and around the world a Happy Thanksgiving. We know what we’re grateful for. Thank you for everything that you do.

Topic A: Defense

Setting the Stage for the Next Generation of GPS

Whether it’s mapping a trip to a business meeting across town, or providing U.S. warfighters with navigation and timing information to enable critical missions around the world, the Global Positioning System (GPS) has become key to daily life for billions of people.

The 11th of 12 planned Boeing-built GPS IIF satellites was launched from Cape Canaveral on October 31. All 11 have achieved 100 percent mission success to-date. The IIF satellites offer greater accuracy, a longer design life, increased signal power for civil applications, a more robust military M-code signal, and variable power for better jamming resistance.

And the next chapter in GPS development promises to get even better, with new innovation and improved technologies for the next generation GPS III satellite.

This summer, Boeing successfully demonstrated a digital version of the GPS III navigation signals – building on a record of more than 40 other satellites launches with digital payloads – that overcomes limitations of current GPS III analog payloads in combining multiple signals and accommodating future requirements. It also weighs less, costs less and has fewer components.

In addition, Boeing notes that its recent advancements in amplifier technology will boost signal power and can lead to even smaller and lower-cost GPS satellites. These developments, coupled with other improvements, add up to meeting GPS needs today and stretching into the next generation.

Check out highlights of the recent launch of GPS IIF-11:

Outgoing USAF Official Addresses Cost ‘Myths’

National Defense Magazine reports that “few Washington policy makers truly understand how the Pentagon develops and acquires weapon systems, and they tend to throw barbs at the Defense Department based on innuendo rather than hard data, said Air Force Assistant Secretary William LaPlante, who leaves office this week after three years as the service’s top weapons buyer.”

“’That’s what surprised me when I got into this job,’ he told reporters Nov. 24.”

“There is an abundance of data that show a sharp drop in cost overruns and improved performance in Air Force big-ticket programs in recent years, but the widespread conviction on Capitol Hill and among the general public is that military procurement is broken. LaPlante believes there is a wide gap between perception and reality, and that has been a constant source of frustration. He announced last week he would leave his post to join The Mitre Corporation. He had planned to leave sooner, over this summer, but decided to stick around until the completion of the contract award for the Air Force long-range strike bomber, the service’s largest procurement in decades. Richard Lombardi, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, is expected to take over as acting assistant secretary.”

“’The situation in Air Force acquisition is pretty good right now,’ LaPlante said. ‘Our net costs continue to come down. I have all the data.'”

DARPA Works to Make Cities Less Vulnerable

Government Executive reports that “the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, announced a new research initiative into the ways important things can break at once. Called the Complex Adaptive System Composition and Design Environment, or CASCADE, the project is meant to help planners make cities, towns, bases, power grids, etc. less vulnerable to devastation.”

“’It is difficult to model and currently impossible to systematically design such complex systems using state of the art tools, leading to inferior performance, unexpected problems, and weak resilience,’ the agency wrote in a release.”

“Resilience is the key part. You can prevent terror attacks and you can prevent some disasters, but you can’t prevent all of them. However, if you can decrease the cost of the disaster in terms of lives disrupted, time lost, pain or the level inconvenience imposed on citizens, then disasters become less … disastrous. That’s what’s called building in resilience.”

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