Starting off this Thursday's INSIDER with an Inside the Pentagon front-pager on the Air Force's plans to shift some maintenance activities to its organic depots:
After years of contracting out sustainment of the MQ-9 Reaper to its original manufacturer, General Atomics, the Air Force is on pace to shift some maintenance activities to its organic depots starting in fiscal year 2015, once access to data rights is properly negotiated, according to a service official.
A move toward organic sustainment is hardly unique to the Reaper, though. The Air Force is considering a range of options for restructuring the way it performs the extremely costly maintenance of the B-2 stealth bomber and is also studying the possibility of insourcing work on platforms like C-5 airlifters with newly installed avionics, said Scott Reynolds, the Air Force's deputy assistant secretary for logistics.
Reynolds, who spoke with Inside the Pentagon on Dec. 10, said those insourcing options are driven by cost -- namely that the Air Force's three Air Logistics Complexes are capable of performing many types of sustainment functions, not limited to basic repair, and are often cheaper than the rates set by contractors.
On the Reaper, the Air Force is working with MQ-9 manufacturer General Atomics to gain access to sufficient proprietary data to allow it to perform maintenance on things like batteries and ignition systems organically. The company has partnered with the Air Force to share that information, and taking over some basic repair functions on a relatively mature system is common practice for the service. The expectation is to move through that "depot activation" process, which is already funded, between fiscal years 2015 and 2018, Reynolds said.
News on a new National Academy of Sciences report on surprise mitigation:
A new study urges the Navy to create an office to guard against unexpected threats, perhaps the toughest and biggest challenge facing the Pentagon, but fiscal pressures could present a hurdle to standing up any new organization.
The report, issued by the National Academy of Sciences' Naval Studies Board, calls on Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert to form a "surprise-mitigation office," proposing several ways to do it. A Navy spokesman said Greenert, who is traveling abroad, has not yet been briefed on the 177-page report.
The Defense Department's relatively new Strategic Capabilities Office could help the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard deal with capability surprise to some degree, but not enough, the report argues.
But the Navy's warfare systems directorate -- the board's top choice to host the new shop -- is among the organizations in the cross-hairs in an ongoing Navy review aimed at reducing bureaucracy, a service official said, and there are doubts about whether resources would be available to create the proposed office.
Another ITP front-pager on the future of the MEADS program:
Congressional defense authorizers have included a provision in their proposed bill for fiscal year 2014 that requires Pentagon leaders to explain their plans for further utilizing the government's $2.5 billion investment in the Medium Extended Air Defense System.
The report requirement is part of a section that prohibits the expenditure of any FY-14 money on the program, which is already all but certain given that Defense Department officials included no money for MEADS in their budget request.
The portrayal of the MEADS program is markedly different from defense authorization texts of the previous few years, which suggested that some lawmakers could not cancel the program quickly enough and treat the investment in development as a total loss. This year's bill proposal, unveiled on Monday by the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, states that DOD has a "substantial interest in making constructive use of any MEADS data and technology owned by the United States."
The report, due six months after the defense authorization bill becomes law, should explain "who owns the technology and data" developed under the trinational program. The United States teamed up with Germany and Italy for the program's 10-year development phase, slated to end this month.
News on a congressional requirement for a mission analysis for cyber operations:
A mission analysis for cyber operations, called for in a new bipartisan fiscal year 2014 defense authorization bill proposal, would include a comprehensive examination of potential contributions by the reserve component.
The requirement for the Defense Department to think through integrating the Guard and reserves into the relatively new cyberspace mission assures that Pentagon officials will have to show their cards about how they envision cutting overall end strength and expanding U.S. Cyber Command at the same time.
Some reserve component advocates have complained about what they say is a lack of clarity on the department's strategy for aligning force requirements across the services and components with cyber mission needs.
News on the recently released biannual FIAR report:
The Air Force and Navy have once again pushed back a few dozen financial improvement milestones -- including some that had already been delayed -- as the department's first major audit-readiness deadline nears, according to a new Defense Department report.
The Pentagon's most recent biannual Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan Status Report, released last month, states that the Navy pushed back or missed 15 milestones, moved up two milestones and achieved eight milestones. The Air Force had pushed back or missed 14 milestones, while moving up four deadlines to an earlier time frame. The report also indicates that the Air Force will not validate five areas of its statement of budgetary resources until the audit actually occurs.
The Army met two milestones, and pushed back one.
The Pentagon must achieve audit readiness of its general fund statement of budgetary resources by September 2014.
News on how the Pentagon is working to help service members to obtain civilian credentials:
Obtaining civilian credentials during military service is a boon to both service members and military departments, and the Defense Department is working to overcome barriers in the way of achieving this, Jessica Wright, the acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told lawmakers in a recent report.
These findings came out of a pilot program designed to look at civilian credentialing for military occupational specialties with an eye toward assessing gaps between military training and civilian credentialing, according to the October report obtained by Inside the Pentagon. The Pentagon had "successfully completed" the pilot's initial phase, the report states. The pilot was also supposed to compare the cost of obtaining the credentials during military service versus post-service.
"Attaining civilian credentials -- occupational licenses and certifications -- during military service aids transition from military service and contributes to the 'profession of arms' while they serve," Wright states in the report. In addition, obtaining these credentials "significantly enhances the ability of transitioning service members and veterans to translate their military training and experience to civilian jobs," the report states.
The Oct. 2, 2013, Defense Department report to Congress outlines a "pilot program to assess the feasibility and advisability of permitting service members of the Armed Forces to obtain civilian credentialing or licensing for skills required for military occupational specialties or qualification for duty specialty codes."
DIA is seeking solutions to certain intelligence problems:
Defense Intelligence Agency officials have published a solicitation covering a wide array of intelligence problems to complement the agency's newly articulated focus on finding innovative ideas for improving its operations.
Dubbed "Needipedia," the catalog of interest areas for DIA includes preventing strategic surprise, contingency response, new analysis technologies and methods, counterintelligence, human intelligence, science and technology, mission support, and technical intelligence collection, according to an announcement on the agency's website. Also sought are proposals to increase organizational effectiveness and "empower partnerships."
A couple new GAO reports of note:
Document: GAO Report On NNSA Budget Estimates
The Dec. 11, 2013, Government Accountability Office report finds that the National Nuclear Security Administration's budget estimates "do not fully align with plans."
The Dec. 11, 2013, Government Accountability Office report finds that actions are needed to "ensure National Guard and Reserve headquarters are sized to be efficient."
-- John Liang