DOD is determined to get $500 million from Congress to train Syrian rebels:
While a plan to resource President Obama's new strategy to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has yet to fully emerge, the Pentagon remains focused on a $500 million request to Congress for the vetting and training of Syrian rebels as the House prepares to pass a stop-gap measure likely to fund the rest of the president's strategy.
"We need that [$500 million] to move forward on this particular train-and-equip program. Obviously, it's a priority for Secretary Hagel," Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon Sept. 11. "We believe that number is sufficient to provide the right level of training for an appropriate number of opposition members over a period of several months."
The White House asserts it does not need congressional authority to execute the expanded campaign of airstrikes the president has planned to combat ISIS, though officials have conceded that congressional approval is needed for the Defense Department to begin training Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia.
The fiscal year 2015 defense authorization bill should give President Obama enough monetary leeway to handle the expanded attacks on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria the president announced last night, according to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA).
Inside the Air Force's top story today is on ISR:
The head of the Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency says his forces are "100 percent committed" to the joint fight and he does not expect that operational tempo to let up any time soon.
The heavy workload comes as the agency tries to "reconstitute and reset" its force in line with strategic guidance to modernize and prepare for high-end, future threats.
This week, the president announced that the United States is going on the offensive against Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria and a critical component of that joint fight is the intelligence being generated and analyzed by the ISR Agency.
Delays in delivering JSF software could affect later milestones:
Software delays will not likely impact near-term F-35 Joint Strike Fighter initial operational capability targets, but projected schedule slips do present a risk to later program milestones, according to an Office of the Secretary of Defense-led review team.
The team -- composed of OSD officials, industry executives and representatives from the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation -- was directed in the fiscal year 2014 Defense Authorization Act to assess whether the software development program is on track to meet future schedule milestones, to recommend ways to improve software development, and to pose alternatives to the program's current plans for meeting its delivery schedule. At the time, lawmakers noted concern about continued software development risk.
The classified report was delivered to Congress in July. Inside the Air Force obtained a copy of the unclassified executive summary this week.
News on the MQ-1 Predator:
The Air Force's original unmanned hunter-killer aircraft, the MQ-1 Predator, will probably remain in service until around fiscal year 2019 because the service does not have the capacity to pull aircrews away from their current combat duties for retraining on the newer MQ-9 Reaper system.
That is the view of Col. Brandon Baker, the Air Force's director of remotely piloted aircraft capabilities. The colonel told Inside the Air Force during a Sept. 8 interview that the remotely piloted aircraft community has been operating at surge levels for years. That trend is only expected to continue as the United States targets Islamic State militants in Iraq and terrorist groups around the Horn of Africa, he added.
Right now the Air Force is resourcing 65 around-the-clock MQ-1 and MQ-9 combat air patrols (CAPs), which is a surge based on the number of aircraft and aircrews.
More Predator news:
The Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Weather Center of Excellence expects that a broad agency announcement issued in the spring could yield, among other things, new approaches for understanding the impact of the space environment on U.S. space assets.
Funding for the BAA hinges on the outcome of the fiscal year 2015 budget -- the service has requested $12.4 million to be applied in FY-15 and a total of $49 million through 2018. Michael Starks, the principal investigator for the center's space particle hazard specification and forecasting program, told Inside the Air Force in a Sept. 10 email that the call for proposals date has not been determined, though the BAA indicates initial awards will likely be made in FY-15.
"A statement of objectives for an announcement has not been finalized," Starks said. "As with any BAA, any solicitation would ask for offerors' innovative ideas for enhancing the state of the art in satellite anomaly attribution. Those ideas would be expected to span the spectrum of required activities, including environmental observations, models representing the environment at a particular spacecraft, and new approaches to estimating environmental hazards on-orbit."
Document: DOD's OCO Reprogramming Request
In a Sept. 8, 2014, reprogramming request signed by Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord, the Defense Department seeks congressional approval to shift $1.9 billion from overseas contingency operations funds to pay for various programs, including attack helicopters, combat aircraft, munitions and special operations forces.
Our coverage from earlier in the week:
The Pentagon has asked Congress to move $404 million in overseas contingency operations money to pay for 21 additional AH-64E Apache attack helicopters set to replace OH-58D Kiowa Warriors, according to new Defense Department documents.
The Pentagon and the Office of Management and Budget are asking Congress for permission to use wartime funding to replace six AV-8B Harriers lost in Afghanistan with new F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, according to a congressional source and a reprogramming request obtained by InsideDefense.com.
-- John Liang