Starting off today's INSIDER with a sneak peek at tomorrow's Inside the Pentagon:
Asked by lawmakers to examine the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization's training activities, the Pentagon reported back earlier this fall that all 252 programs under the office's auspices serve a distinct purpose, arguing implicitly that no cuts should be made here.
Jessica Wright, the acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, used the Sept. 25 report to Congress to offer a glowing endorsement of JIEDDO, just as lawmakers ponder what to do with the organization. Over the years, JIEDDO has been alternately described as DOD's 20th-century "Manhattan Project" focused laser-sharp on preventing the death and mutilation of service members in Iraq and Afghanistan, or as a contractor-dominated behemoth burning through tens of billions of dollars with too little to show.
Wright's report is premised on a three-pronged assessment methodology considering duplication, similarity and value in training programs. Officials found evidence of the latter by checking whether a program was, in fact, being used by the services. Judgments in the other categories were made based on programs' "attributes" -- including training objectives, course content, audience, location -- and the degree to which these attributes are deemed comparable.
In short, Wright argues that none of JIEDDO's training programs are redundant when compared with courses offered by the services and defense agencies. "While some JIEDDO training functions share attributes with some service and [U.S. Special Operations Command] functions, they do not duplicate them," Wright wrote. "Common differences are in scope, focus and intent."
Document: DOD Report On JIEDDO Training Activities
A tentative plan to intercept ballistic missiles in the boost phase has been sent to lawmakers:
The Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency last week sent members of Congress their tentative plan and cost projections for the Airborne Weapons Layer -- a ballistic missile defense concept in search of funding during an especially difficult budgetary period.
The service and MDA submitted a classified "findings to date" briefing on an AWL cost-benefit analysis to the four congressional defense oversight committees on Nov. 25, according to Mark Svestka, a senior policy analyst in Air Force headquarters' concepts, strategy and wargaming division. A formal presentation to congressional staff had been scheduled for the same day but was postponed because of other pressing business on Capitol Hill.
Svestka met with Inside the Pentagon on Nov. 26 and provided additional responses to written questions on Dec. 3.
The idea behind the Airborne Weapons Layer is to equip fourth- or fifth-generation fighter aircraft with a weapon that could intercept enemy ballistic missiles early in their flight trajectories if possible, and if not, to do so later in their flight paths. AWL is intended to be more operationally viable and affordable than the terminated Airborne Laser program, which proposed using militarized Boeing 747s to shoot down or deflect enemy munitions with a directed-energy laser.
The Navy's CNO told Wall Street investors yesterday that he isn't bullish on the prospect of additional budget cuts:
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert is not confident that Congress will avert future rounds of across-the-board budget cuts hitting the Navy, the Pentagon and the government as a whole.
"I'm not very optimistic," Greenert said today at a Credit Suisse Global Industrials Conference in New York.
While Greenert said some sort of "micro-deal" may still be tenable to soften the blow of sequestration cuts, "a big deal and ending sequestration -- I don't see that," he told investors at the conference.
"I talk to mostly defense staffers and members and they sort of get it, but they're not the mass that carry it," he said, noting that while many defense-minded lawmakers and staffers on Capitol Hill might support a larger deal, support "beyond that" group is needed.
. . . from yesterday:
The White House will tap former Pentagon cost-assessor Christine Fox to temporarily replace outgoing Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, the Pentagon announced today.
Fox, who previously led the Defense Department's cost assessment and evaluation shop and joined the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as a principal technical adviser in August, has also been working as a consultant to DOD.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today that President Obama had accepted his recommendation to tap Fox.
"Christine, who until recently served as the department's director of cost assessment and program evaluation, is a brilliant defense thinker and proven manager," Hagel said in a statement. "As a key leader of the Strategic Choices and Management Review, she helped identify the challenges, choices, and opportunities for reform facing the department during this period of unprecedented budget uncertainty. She will be able to help me shape our priorities from day one because she knows the intricacies of the department's budget, programs and global operations better than anyone."
More coverage of the Pentagon's annual industrial capabilities report:
The industrial capabilities to produce the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system are considered "high risk," according to a Defense Contract Management Agency Industrial Analysis Center assessment, but the Army's UAS project office has found alternative solutions to mitigate that risk.
The assessment's results are laid out in the Pentagon's acquisition chief Frank Kendall's new report to Congress on the Defense Department's 2012 annual industrial capabilities.
"The DCMA IAC analysis of the prime contractor and its critical component suppliers concluded that the industrial capabilities to produce the MQ-1C Gray Eagle are a high risk, due to the fact that three critical components supplied to the prime integrator are considered high risk," the report supplied to Congress on Oct. 18 states. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. is the lead integrator for the Gray Eagle.
Each component is determined "to be unique, endangered and high risk," the report adds, due to the "financial viability" of each sole source company that possesses the "essential" capabilities. The components are endangered because "there are no potential alternative quantifiable sources available within acceptable schedule and cost parameters," the report states.
A couple other documents of note:
A November 2013 summary of the Navy's 2013 Global War Game on Air-Sea Battle, which examined command and control in an anti-access and area-denial environment.
In a Nov. 6, 2013, memo, Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence and Special Program Assessments Anthony Thomas states the IG has launched a review of the Defense Department's use of unmanned aerial systems to support civil authorities.
-- John Liang