The government is moving to address concerns about security clearances and insider threats, likely generating new procedures for government contractors.
The issues have long been discussed; in 2009, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is alleged to have shot dozens of people at Ft. Hood, Texas, while in 2010, Army Specialist Bradley Manning was arrested for leaking classified documents. But they took center stage last year when contractors Edward Snowden released secret government information and Aaron Alexis fatally shot a dozen people at the Navy Yard.
Since then, the government has been under renewed pressure to address exactly who should have access to critical information and facilities. Now, contractors are readying for changes and, in at least one case, preemptively making their own.
A group of state governors is asking that lawmakers force the Army to halt a controversial aviation-reform initiative until outside experts have had a chance to weigh in.
A recent letter from the National Governors Association opines that moves by the ground service to advance the so-called Aviation Restructure Initiative amount to "unilateral, preemptive action" because a congressional commission on the future of the Army has yet to be formed. That group, the governors argue, should first be heard before allowing the service to move all 192 Apache combat helicopters from the Army National Guard to the active branch.
Addressed to leaders of the Senate and House committees overseeing military policies and spending, the Nov. 14 missive was signed by NGA homeland security and public safety committee chair Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R), vice chair Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Council of Governors co-chairs Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (I) and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).
From the Navy's amphibious warfare conference in Norfolk, VA:
NORFOLK, VA -- The Marine Corps' crisis response force supporting U.S. Central Command's area of operations is based in more than five countries in the region and has grown by 200 additional Marines since its inception, according to a top service official.
Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, deputy commandant for combat development and integration, said the 2,500-Marine force is hosted by Jordan, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq as well as a couple of other nations. Glueck spoke Nov. 17 during a presentation sponsored by the National Defense Industrial Association
Those countries "are doing great things for CENTCOM today," he added.
Special purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-crisis response CENTCOM was established during the final days of fiscal year 2014 to coincide with the U.S. military drawdown in Afghanistan, Inside the Navy reported in October.
The top story in Inside the Navy this week says the service may buy more Blackjack unmanned air vehicles:
The Navy is asking Congress for additional funding to buy 15 Blackjack unmanned air vehicles to support the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, according to a service spokeswoman.
The 15 RQ-21A Blackjack air vehicles, which the Marines refer to as the MQ-21, are part of three Blackjack systems that will cost $55 million. Each system is composed of five air vehicles and two ground control stations, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Jackie Pau wrote in a Nov. 12 email to Inside the Navy. The funding is included in an amended wartime budget request the Obama administration sent Congress last week.
Pau said these systems are needed to support Operation Inherent Resolve, the Obama administration's war on ISIL. The Marine Corps already owns two early operational systems, she added.
"The request has been sent to Congress, but has not been approved," she added.
Also from Inside the Navy this week, news concerning the National Defense Sealift Fund:
The Navy's plan to disestablish the National Defense Sealift Fund could open up competition for major ship components for the service's replacement fleet oiler TAO(X) to foreign manufacturers, potentially dealing a blow to the defense industrial base, according to representatives from one naval engine supplier.
The NDSF is an account in the Defense Department budget that has been used in recent years to fund construction of new DOD sealift ships and Navy auxiliary ships, which would include TAO(X). Under existing law for the NDSF, major ship components -- including engines, reduction gears and propellers -- must be manufactured in the United States. The fund was established primarily so that DOD sealift ships and Navy auxiliary ships would not have to "compete directly against Navy combat ships for finite shipbuilding funds in the SCN account," Naval Analyst Ronald O'Rourke wrote in an August Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.
However, the Navy proposed in its fiscal year 2015 budget submission to disestablish the NDSF, a plan the service says is designed to increase efficiencies and auditability. The Navy argues that this plan streamlines the number of Navy accounts, reducing financial complexity, and supports the Navy's audit readiness goals, according to the CRS report.
-- Thomas Duffy