Roll Call: The News Source of Capitol Hill Since 1955
October 20, 2014

Army Studies Route for Fighting Vehicle Future

National Defense Magazine reports that “the shadow of the cancelled ground combat vehicle hung over the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting and exposition, but the service is already looking at options for a Bradley infantry fighting vehicle replacement that could be developed in the future.”

“’Both because of affordability challenges and because we want to have an opportunity to explore those design concepts, our future fighting vehicle approach at this stage is about building knowledge [and] allowing technology to mature before we commit to a specific future design,’ Brig. Gen. David Bassett, head of the ground combat systems program executive office, said Oct. 14.”

“The Army will decide by fiscal year 2016 whether to move forward with a new clean sheet design for the future fighting vehicle or an upgraded Bradley, he said.”

About Topic A

Policy Analysis, Commentary & Discussion

Topic A is a digital meeting place for industry and policy experts to exchange ideas and viewpoints on the most pressing questions facing the national security community.

Some of the content is from Roll Call and some is original to this blog. It includes Sponsor Content clearly marked.

The blog is curated by an independent team of editors hired by Roll Call.

Read more about Topic A

New Navy Aircraft Goes Operational

Defense News reports that “the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye was declared to be operational, meaning that deployment training for the US Navy’s newest airborne warning and control aircraft can begin in earnest.”

“Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the Advanced Hawkeye was achieved Oct. 10 when Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (VAW-125) was certified to have five operational aircraft, five trained air crews and a fully-certified maintenance team.”

“With IOC declared, the VAW-125 Tigertails now will train with Carrier Air Wing 1, scheduled to deploy next year aboard the carrier Theodore Roosevelt.”

Russia: U.S. Practices Military ‘scenarios’ at Country’s Borders

Reuters reports that “Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu accused the United States on Thursday of working on military “scenarios” near Russia’s borders that he said were a source of grave concern.”

“Interfax news agency quoted Shoigu as expressing surprise at a speech on Wednesday in which U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said U.S. armed forces ‘must deal with a revisionist Russia – with its modern and capable Army – on NATO’s doorstep.'”

“Russia’s relations with the West have reached a post-Cold War low over the conflict in Ukraine, with Moscow denying accusations that it has supplied weapons and troops to back pro-Russian separatists in the east of the former Soviet republic.”

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)

Obama Authorizes National Guard, Reserves Call Up If Needed For Ebola

Reuters reports that “President Barack Obama on Thursday authorized the Pentagon to call up reserve and National Guard troops if they are needed to assist in the U.S. response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.”

“Obama signed an executive order that allows the government to call up more forces and for longer periods of time than currently authorized. There is no actual call-up at this point.”

“The U.S. has committed to send up to 4,000 military personnel to West Africa to provide logistics and humanitarian assistance and help build treatment units to confront the rapidly spreading and deadly virus.”

Homeland Security Secretary: More Cooperation with Army

Executive Gov reports that “Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has called for closer cooperation between his department and the U.S. Army to counter threats and address public concerns through fact-based dialogue and messaging, DoD News reported Tuesday.”

“Jim Garamone writes Johnson noted the need to align efforts, particularly in counterterrorism, as threats evolve and terrorists utilize technology to recruit fighters and spread their message.”

“’[A] phenomenon we’re seeing among terrorist organizations is a very adept use of social media,’ Johnson told his audience at an Association of the United States Army conference this week.”

Watching the Weather: The Airmen of NOAA

Armed with Science, a U.S. Defense Dept. blog, reports that “tucked away in the cavernous NOAA Satellite Operations Facility, four airmen work together to oversee the operation of America’s weather satellite constellation. Capt Tyson Johnson talks about his day to day duties and the critical information he and his team (which includes some 40 NOAA engineers) provide for our nation’s military and civilian population.”

Keeping the Army Strong


Up to two Phantom Badgers can be transported internally in a CH-47. (Boeing photo)

Being strong has new meaning in the 21st Century Army. The men and women of today’s Army need to be outfitted with the latest technology. They also need to be supported on the ground and from the air by equipment and capabilities to carry out the mission and return home safely.

It’s a tall order to equip and protect the more than 675,000 soldiers that make up today’s Army. That’s why the service looks to industry partners like Boeing to stay abreast of innovation and jointly support new solutions. Boeing will highlight examples of these solutions including new cybersecurity initiatives, attack program advancements, and the Sikorsky-Boeing team’s progress on the Joint Multi-role technology demonstrator at this year’s Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting & Exposition meeting held Oct. 13 to 15 in Washington D.C.

The show features a wide range of Boeing products and services including the CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache helicopters, Phantom Badger, ScanEagle unmanned airborne system, and weapons and directed energy systems. Other highlights include cybersecurity applications to improve situational awareness and protect information systems. Also the innovative Phantom Badger combat support vehicle will be displayed for the first time with its mortar module and ammunition trailer.

AUSA provides a forum for more than 500 Army and industry exhibitors to gather and discuss how to jointly shape the future Army with the best systems and tools to defend the nation. Boeing strives for continued excellence in meeting these warfighter needs, both now and in the future.

Hagel: U.S. Army Readiness Improved, but More Needed

Reuters reports that “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday the U.S. Army has improved its combat readiness this year but is still short of what is needed to defend the nation with minimum risk after being hit with deep across-the-board budget cuts last year.”

“Hagel said a congressional budget deal late last year had helped to stabilize defense spending and enabled the Army to devote more resources to maintenance and training. But he warned that the gains could be reversed unless lawmakers act to avert a return to the deep spending cuts in October of next year.”

“‘Our soldiers deserve … a stable and predictable budget that gives them and their families the training and support they need,’ Hagel said in a speech at an Army convention.”

U.S. Military’s Ebola Effort Enters New Phase

The Wall St. Journal reports that “after almost a month in Liberia, U.S. troops have completed construction on a 25-bed medical facility to treat health-care workers who come into contact with Ebola and are running five mobile labs that expedite tests for the deadly virus.”

“The Pentagon effort against Ebola will enter its next phase this weekend, when the head of the American military’s 101st Airborne Division, Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, arrives in Liberia to take over the U.S. effort. The Kentucky-based Army division will send about 700 members who will join up to 4,000 others to finish building 17 treatment units with more than 100 beds each, and to train hundreds of medical workers.”

“Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of the U.S. Army in Africa and leader of the American advance team in Liberia, said he and other U.S. leaders on the ground, including U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac, have met with international partners in recent weeks to coordinate efforts and try to assess what they can contribute.”

The Washington Post adds that “The U.S. military continues to grow the force it is deploying to western Africa to assist with the Ebola virus crisis, but it will take until late November or early December to complete all 17 treatment units it has planned, a two-star general said.”

Rep. Tammy Duckworth to Retire from Military

The Chicago Tribune reports that “Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee from the Iraq War and lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard, is retiring from the military, the Guard said Tuesday.”

“Duckworth, 46, from Hoffman Estates, is running for a second term in Congress, facing Republican Larry Kaifesh in the Nov. 4 election.”

“She and her husband, Maj. Brian Bowlsbey, are expecting a baby girl Dec. 5. He serves at the National Guard Bureau.”

Testing the Future of Protected MILSATCOM

: New protected tactical waveform technology has been successfully tested over both commercial and military satellites, like the Wideband Global SATCOM satellite pictured here in Boeing’s Satellite Development Center. (Boeing photo)

: New protected tactical waveform technology has been successfully tested over both commercial and military satellites, like the Wideband Global SATCOM satellite pictured here in Boeing’s Satellite Development Center. (Boeing photo)

The armed forces of the United States and its allies are heavily dependent on military satellite communications systems. Our adversaries know this and they continue their efforts to develop equipment and techniques to jam these vital communications. As the need for satellite communications grows, so does the need to protect systems from jamming. As the executive agent for space, the U.S. Air Force is investigating innovative ways to address the jamming threat, while still dealing with the current restrictive budget environment.

Boeing – manufacturer of the U.S. Department of Defense’s highest-capacity military communications system, Wideband Global SATCOM – is one of a few companies that was contracted to develop and test protected tactical waveform technology. This technology shields signals from outside interference that could prevent information from reaching their intended recipient.

In recent demonstrations, the waveform was transmitted through a commercial modem modified with anti-jamming features to transmit a signal through both commercial and military satellites. Additional testing was recently completed with U.S. Government supervision, which showed the modem also interoperates with a corresponding terminal designed and built at MIT-Lincoln Laboratories. This not only validates that the modems were meeting technical interface specifications, but that they are capable of operating as both a user terminal or space segment networking hub.

These successful complementing demonstrations show that this technology can be quickly implemented and deployed by using satellites currently on orbit that do not have anti-jamming technology of their own, saving the time and money it takes to build new satellite constellations. The signals were successfully sent without outside interference, and met all requirements and interface specifications for system compatibility and performance.

This technology will continue to be tested for compatibility with other terminals and systems in 2014.

U-2 Spy Play Not Ready for Retirement

CQ Roll Call reports that “the iconic U-2 spy plane, with its long, sagging wings and a reputation for being challenging to fly and harder to land, is one of the oldest aircraft in the U.S. fleet, with a storied history to match: The downing of Francis Gary Powers is a touchstone moment in the Cold War, and many a UFO rumor can be attributed to the plane’s early flight tests at the government’s secret Area 51 in the Nevada desert.”

“One year before of the 60th anniversary of its first flight in 1955, the U-2 is on the chopping block, where it has been many times before. President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget called for its retirement to begin in 2016, and while one of the fiscal 2015 defense spending and authorization bills would block the move, others do not explicitly do so.”

“Yet the U-2 has avoided death time and again, owing to its versatility, its reliability, its low operating cost and the inability of rival airborne surveillance systems to replace what it offers. Only two budgets ago, the Obama administration proposed retiring the Global Hawk Block 30 reconnaissance drone, citing the U-2’s capabilities for the same job; this year, it has taken the opposite stance, saying Global Hawk advancements have made the U-2 less essential.”

Additional 100 U.S. Troops Arrive in Africa for Ebola Fight

NBC News reports that “A hundred additional U.S. soldiers arrived in Liberia early Tuesday, bringing the number of American troops combating Ebola in West Africa up to 565, according to the Department of Defense. Three mobile labs for Ebola testing and treatment are functional in West Africa, and personnel has tested more than 1,000 suspected Ebola samples, according to the Defense Department. The three technicians manning each lab will be the only troops to have direct contact with Ebola samples, military leaders said Tuesday.”

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...