Tag Archives: Pentagon

6 Predictions On How A New Strategy Could Change What The Pentagon Buys




National Defense Strategy 2


“During a speech at Johns Hopkins University in January 2018, Jim Mattis, the secretary of defense, unveiled an updated version of a Pentagon document called the National Defense Strategy.

C4ISRNET asked industry leaders to explain how this shift could play out. Individually, their answers are compelling, but together they create a rich portrait of modern warfare.”


“After nearly 17 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the new document fundamentally changed the direction of the Department of Defense. Now, the Pentagon is turning its attention to what it describes as a near-peer competition — in other words: China and Russia — and away from the counterterrorism mission.

But with the new focus comes a shift in battlefield technology. The strategy calls for updated nuclear command and control, investments in space, and greater integration of cyber.


WHAT WILL CHANGE: More sophisticated cyberattacks

WHAT THE PENTAGON WILL WANT: More automation with cyber and more visibility of who’s on the network

NAME: David Mihelcic, federal chief technology and strategy officer, Juniper Networks

Near-peer adversaries are willing to expend significant resources — both in terms of people and money — to penetrate or disrupt federal networks critical to the security and economic health of the United States. Likewise, near-peer adversaries’ tools and techniques are far superior to those used by more typical criminal hackers. As such, we’re going to see threats against federal networks increase exponentially. In response, federal agencies must defend all their network assets and those of the nation, whether they exist in legacy or cloud environments.

Agencies must proactively hunt near-peer adversaries that are attempting to or have already established a foothold within federal networks. These same techniques must also be adopted by operators of enterprise and service provider networks. U.S. Cyber Command and the Department of Homeland Security will need to be prepared to respond in kind if adversaries act against our defense and civilian networks, as well as our national critical infrastructure. Remember that DHS is tasked with protecting the entire country, not just the federal government. To do that, the department must be prepared to respond to cyberthreats to commercial networks.

Security automation will be critical. Automation can also greatly reduce the risk of human error, such as the accidental exposure of highly sensitive data to potential bad actors.

Agencies will also need increased visibility into all aspects of their network environments. Near-peer adversaries’ attack methods are growing increasingly sophisticated. They may target applications, devices or other means, and are motivated to find vulnerabilities that CIOs may not even realize exist. Federal IT professionals must have tools in place that allow them to identify and remediate those vulnerabilities and quickly react to potential threats.


WHAT WILL CHANGE: More resilient multidomain weapons systems

WHAT THE PENTAGON WILL WANT: More underwater drones to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance

NAME: Bill Toti, president, L3 Maritime Sensor Systems

Imagine the USS TEXAS approaches the coast of a foreign harbor. The ship slows to near-hover, and from one of its torpedo tubes emerges a swarm of 30 Iver-PW unmanned underwater vehicles. They swim out, then spread into a pattern equidistant in lateral distance and depth, autonomously station-keeping. They scan the ocean volume for bottom, moored and floating sea mines, reporting mine detection in real-time. After completing the deep survey, they continue on to perform hydrographic survey of the beach to prepare for an upcoming Marine amphibious landing. The entire operation is done within six short hours. Before this technology was available, the process would have taken 100 divers over three weeks to perform comparable surveys.

Not far away, an extra-large underwater drone plants an active sonar projector on the sea floor, which immediately goes active. A series of six medium-diameter Iver-5 unmanned underwater vehicles orbit up to 30 miles away carrying passive receivers, bi-statically tracking four adversary submarines in the area.

Further out to sea, one of 50 deployed Bloodhound unmanned surface vehicles is guided to a target datum by shore-based antisubmarine warfare command-and-control forces. A HELRAS dipping sonar is automatically lowered through a moon bay on the Bloodhound, immediately detecting the target, a cruise-missile firing submarine. The USV then reels in the dipping sonar, autonomously repositioning, then dips its sonar again and starts pinging, regaining track. This Bloodhound USV is able to track the submarine for weeks, until hostilities begin and a P-8 Poseidon aircraft outfitted with an MX-20HD electro-optical sensor system is dispatched to launch a torpedo and destroy the submarine from standoff range.

More resilient multidomain drone systems could benefit ISR needs.
More resilient multidomain drone systems could benefit ISR needs.

WHAT WILL CHANGE: Adversaries may have counterspace technologies

WHAT THE PENTAGON WILL WANT: Greater space capabilities and resilient satellite communications

NAME: Rebecca Cowen-Hirsch, senior vice president of government strategy and policy, Inmarsat Government

The DoD’s new national defense strategy places even greater emphasis on the urgency for enhanced threat awareness in space, along with the protection of critical assets, both military and commercial on orbit. In contrast to insurgents in the Middle East, a near-peer adversary is more organized, strategic and state funded, and thus positioned to engage aggressively across multiple domains.

Indeed, a future conflict of this nature would likely involve troops and unmanned assets on the ground, in the air and at sea; satellite jamming incidents; on-orbit threats; and state-sponsored cyber intrusions targeting electric power grids, nuclear plants and other critical infrastructure across the globe.

The National Defense Strategy asserts that an attack on critical components of the U.S. space architecture “will be met with a deliberate response at a time, place, manner and domain of our choosing.” In support, the space industry’s focus must be on the broadest areas of support for C4ISR, for both military and commercially supplied satellite communications platforms. This means continued investment into wideband and additional, protected communications, network diversification, backhaul performance, Overhead Persistent Infrared technologies and enhanced augmentation for GPS. This new strategy shifts focus of some mission sets to support advancements in maritime and aeronautical ISR and other highly mobile tech demanding of resilient SATCOM.

The adversaries here are not “new,” but their tactics and capabilities have and will continue to evolve and expand. To respond, commercial, defense and intelligence assets must prepare to deter, detect and defend against these threats — whether on land, in the air, at sea, space and cyberspace.


WHAT WILL CHANGE: Near-peers will have significant jamming capabilities

WHAT THE PENTAGON WILL WANT: More software-defined hardware

NAME: Christopher Rappa, product line director for RF, electronic warfare and advanced electronics, BAE Systems FAST Labs

Past counterterrorism operations revealed the difficulties of fighting an asymmetric battle with a determined, cunning and agile adversary. Insurgents leveraged commercial technology, including cellphones and social media, for battlefield coordination and off-the-shelf components in improvised explosive devices. This use of easily accessible technology stressed the defense acquisition pipeline. Solutions required disproportionate investment and continued to be countered at great cost.

In concert with explosive demand in consumer products, radio frequency microelectronics and processing components are continuing to evolve and grow with no sign of slowing down. Additionally, the hardware is becoming more and more defined by software, enabling flexibility with minimal cost impact. The defense technology acquisition pipeline wasn’t designed to keep up and that is not necessarily the case for near-peer competitors. The DoD and industry needs to and can move faster.

Due to long acquisition cycles and a lower historical priority, the technology disparity is extremely evident in electronic warfare. Advancements in off-the-shelf software-defined systems enable waveform flexibility and agility where parameters can be changed between transmissions. Agility means uncertainty, driving us toward the development of cognitive, adaptive and coordinated EW systems that can adjust to counter new and emerging threats. Key innovations in those systems are required to not just keep pace with the commercial capabilities, but also to provide an edge over the near-peers who will be leveraging that technology and have been investing heavily to disrupt our command of the electromagnetic spectrum while the U.S. focused on the counterterrorism mission.

With a renewed focus on near-peer adversaries, the Department of Defense has reprioritized EW technology development. The next generation of electronic warfare technology will not be dulled by a peer’s ability to leverage commercial technology, a lesson learned from IEDs many years ago.

Satellite imagery could play a critical role in understanding China and Russia.
Satellite imagery could play a critical role in understanding China and Russia.

WHAT WILL CHANGE: The U.S. will have interest in an enormous geographic area

WHAT THE PENTAGON WILL WANT: Machine learning to process giant imagery libraries.

NAME: Walter Scott, executive vice president & chief technology officer, Maxar Technologies

One area that’s become increasingly important is the ability to derive intelligence and insight from volumes of data that are far larger than what human analysts can process naturally. Machine learning in the last few years has reached the point where it’s become an effective massive force multiplier, allowing talented and highly trained analysts to focus their efforts on the places and things that are most likely to have mission significance.

This is important because the relevant geographies are now larger than ever, and the adversaries are more capable. In the 1990s, you had to know where to look. In today’s world, it’s not the stuff you know about that’s going to hurt you — it’s the stuff you don’t know. So, you basically must look everywhere. We’ve greatly expanded our ability to collect imagery to the point where DigitalGlobe is now producing on the order of 80 terabytes of imagery product every day. It would take a single human analyst 85 years to extract just one single feature from that volume of imagery.

Fortunately, the tools to exploit this deluge of data have also been advancing very rapidly, enabling analytic results that might otherwise have gone undiscovered because there just aren’t enough eyeballs in the world to look at every pixel that’s being collected.

IT & Networks

WHAT WILL CHANGE: DoD will rely more heavily on the cloud

WHAT THE PENTAGON WILL WANT: More cloud services

NAMES: Lawrence Hollister, executive director, Cubic Mission Solutions

Unconventional warfare is becoming the new normal. As technology evolves and data to decision speeds are increased, the need for a distributed edge cloud architecture or tactical cloud is a must. The tactical cloud is an operating environment where information, data management, connectivity and command and control are core mission priorities.

To best meet the challenges of future peer and near-peer actors, we must exploit all aspects of fused ISR from multiple assets and leverage technology in secure communications.

Quickly capitalizing on the capabilities of the ever-changing information age will allow our forces to seamlessly share situational understanding across C4ISR systems in every domain.

Near-peer actors have highly effective communication denying capabilities, putting our reach back at risk, thus dislocating the edge teams. This is why a hybrid cloud concept with local tactical cloud applications that can run disconnected from reach back cloud infrastructures is so vital. Even though the multidomain tactical/edge cloud has external connections, the cyber threat is reduced or mitigated through the connections to the edge and theater-level secure gateways.

The tactical/edge cloud model is where every platform is leveraged as a sensor. This vision will enable more rapid, effective decisions and will provide a significant operating advantage. A distributed, self-healing, multidomain tactical/edge cloud that is difficult to penetrate significantly complicates an enemy’s pursuits and will force the enemy to focus more resources toward its own defense and offense. In its desired deployment, the tactical/edge cloud will strategically sever the enemy and will lead to and enable multidomain superiority.”




The New American Way of War

New American Way of War

A Syrian-bound Tomahawk missile is launched from the destroyer USS Laboon in the Red Sea on April 14. (Photo: U.S. Navy / Kallysta Castillo)


“The elastic authorizations for the use of military force that Congress passed in the wake of 9/11 have been stretched by the last three administrations from continent to continent to justify military strikes in at least eight nations.

An apathetic American public and a spineless Congress have joined in a de facto alliance that increasingly allows U.S. presidents to go to war when and where they want.”


“Threats of sustained further operations against Syria are just seen by most Americans as part of this permanent background noise of conflict,” says David Barno, a retired Army lieutenant general who commanded all U.S. forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. “These signals of greater action have provoked almost no interest from the citizenry, and frankly not much more from Congress.”

But it is part of the same package: the U.S. is now a nation waging war on auto-pilot, which—given the tenor of the times—means the U.S. will be engaged in conflict indefinitely, spending hundreds of billions of dollars it doesn’t have, without reflection or deliberation.

To highlight their preferred hands-off approach, senators proposed a retooled perpetual authorization for the use of military force their first day back at work following the Syrian attack. “A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate [April 16] would give the president sweeping authority to wage endless war anywhere in the world with limited congressional intervention,” The American Conservative reported. “In short, it’s a rubber stamp for the global war on terror.”

“Terror,” of course, has become the cudgel to beat the U.S. public into a cowering pile of protoplasm. Americans seem unable to put the terror threat in perspective, and then act accordingly. “If the past 17 years have taught us anything, it’s that far from being an existential menace, in most cases terrorism is a manageable threat,” argue Gene Healy and John Glaser of the Cato Institute in the New York Times. “Since Sept. 11, an American’s chance of being killed in the United States by a terrorist is about one in 40 million.”

Beyond the odds is history, which hints that the Syrian strike was illegal. The Supreme Court declared in 1862 that a president “has no power to initiate or declare a war.” But that notion has slowly eroded since World War II, and all but collapsed since 9/11. “By anyone’s definition, a nation that launches war on the word of one man is not, in any real sense, a republic any more,” Garrett Epps, a constitutional legal scholar at the University of Baltimore, wrote for The Atlantic. “In the long run, allowing the president to become an autocrat with sole control of war and peace is likely to prove fatal to the republic.”





Things Veterans Could Get For The Price Of A Parade

Homeless Vet Marketwatch dot com

Image: Marketwatch.com


“Instead of sending service members out into the streets…………… consider helping homeless veterans off of them.

Even the parade’s uber-thrifty low-end price projection, $10 million, is enough to give thousands of struggling veterans a “thank you” that really means something.”

“A Department of Defense memo sent to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford of March 9 laid out the plans for a sprawling military parade in Washington, D.C. for Veterans Day on November 11th, 2018. In addition to requiring active-duty service-members to cram into their dress uniforms and stand by to stand by to stand by for hours on end, the parade would have a whopping price tag of somewhere between $10 and $30 million, according to the White House.

This is a puzzling proposition — and not just because the last time the U.S. enjoyed a military parade was after our last actual victory, following the conclusion of the Gulf War in 1991. Indeed, planning the big, fanfare-swaddled spend for Veterans Day seems like something of an insult to the estimated 40,056 veterans who are homeless on any given night, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates.

Here’s what else that marching-around money could do:

Feed America’s Homeless Veterans For a Month

As Newsweek points out, the average cost of a single hot meal in the U.S. clocks in at $2.94 (although it can jump as high as $5.61, depending on where you live). That comes out to more than 3.4 million hot meals, or 84 square feasts for each homeless veteran in the U.S. — enough to feed each hungry ex-warfighter three times a day for 28.3 days. I’m not sure about you, but I’d take eating for a month over a dumb parade any day.

Give Vets Some  Rent Money

Rental assistance currently helps more than 340,000 veterans to afford decent housing — and, according to a 2014 report, has reduced veteran homelessness by 33% since 2010. But that housing assistance has been imperiled in recent months: In December, Politico reported that the VA planned to divert $460 million specifically set aside for the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which provides vets with housing vouchers. (The VA officially did an about-face on that plan in February after a public outcry, but the department’s initial thinking suggests those funds are negotiable.)

Forking over $10 million in erstwhile parade money could help. A landlord of a single HUD-VASH voucher recipient in, say, New York City, could expect to see $1,256 a month, with up to $1,500 in one-time incentives for choosing a vet over another Section 8 applicant. Heck, that’s enough to put roughly 3,600 vets up in the Big Apple for a month — long enough to get sweet jobs blogging with us!

Give major homeless Vet Centers a Big Fat Endowment

There are a 30 VA-funded Community Resource and Referral Centers (CRRCs) across the country that offer services related to health and mental health care, housing support, career assistance, and access to benefits for homeless veterans. And they’re essential: 29,000 vets received assistance through CRRCs in 2015, according to VA data.

A nice fat $330,000 check for each facility could do a lot of long-term good — especially if the money, say, funds endowments to allow each center to further expand, regardless of future budget woes in Washington. Why the VA doesn’t have its own endowment boggles the mind, unless it’s because the next war will be fought by pointy-headed Harvard intellectuals. (Just kidding; they plan the wars; they don’t fight em.)”







New Chief Management Officer to Lead Pentagon Bureaucracy Overhaul


Nickel and dimingrisk


John H. “Jay” Gibson II



“John H. “Jay” Gibson II, the former deputy undersecretary of defense for management reform, officially began work last week as the Pentagon’s chief management officer in the latest attempt to shake up Department of Defense bureaucracy.”

“As the No. 3 official at the Defense Department, after Secretary Jim Mattis and Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Gibson now has the enormous task of setting policy and overseeing all of the DoD’s business operations to include planning, performance management, information technology management and resource allocation.

Gibson “will lead our efforts to synchronize technology, people, resources and processes to achieve reform,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said at a briefing last Thursday.

White said Gibson will also take on a previously undisclosed duty.

“He will also manage the fourth estate,” meaning DoD press operations, as well as “the DoD staff and agencies that don’t fall under our military services.”

As CMO, Gibson will be leading what the DoD is billing as the largest management reorganization of the Pentagon since the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, which bolstered the office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and re-organized the military chain of command.

Shanahan told defense reporters in December that creation of the CMO’s position “goes to the fundamental restructuring of the department.”

“Congress has written in the law many, many times that we need to have a chief management officer,” Shanahan said, and “a good portion of Jay’s responsibility is going to help us transition organizationally and technically.”

Under a reorganization plan approved last August, the new post of CMO will have major responsibilities in the areas of logistics and supply; real property; community services; human resources; health care; and technology systems.

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, said he expects Gibson to get pushback in all those areas from the entrenched bureaucracy.

“You’ll probably hear screaming and yelling” because of the belief among some career officials that “change is bad,” he said.

However, “if you’re going to have a more performance-driven operation, you have to unwind the bureaucracy and reorganize,” Shanahan said.

Gibson is also expected to have major input in how the Pentagon goes about the breakup of the of DoD’s Office of Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L).

Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018, AT&L was split last month to create a new undersecretary of defense for Research and engineering (R&E) and a new undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment (A&S).

In the lead-up to passage of the NDAA, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, both argued that splitting AT&L is vital to streamlining the cumbersome process of getting new weapons and technology into the hands of warfighters.

Shanahan also said he expects Gibson, a former assistant secretary of the Air Force and former chief executive of XCOR Aerospace, to make changes in how the DoD operates that could not be undone by future administrations.”




Guide For Generals Coming To The Pentagon – Get To Know Your Civilian Staff Experts



“WAR ON THE ROCKS” By Nina Wagner

“The Defense Department’s civilians have the knowledge, care, and professional responsibility to question the military when necessary.

Understanding civilian contributions can prepare military leaders to serve the department’s senior leaders alongside civilian colleagues, to focus their collective energy towards the security challenges facing the United States, and to fulfill the moral obligation of defense leaders to provide clear guidance to the troops.”

“I believe it’s a moral obligation for leaders to lay out clearly to the subordinates in the Department of Defense what it is we expect of them.”
-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis

As a child who followed her parents in the military to life and schools in three countries, and as an Air Force member whose life was affected by serving overseas, my affiliation to the Department of Defense feels personal, like part of my core.

I now work in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) as a civilian. It is an unusual job. Supporting the department’s senior civilian leaders as they make decisions of national consequence and issue guidance affecting U.S. troops is a distinct privilege. The moral obligation Mattis referred to is the same feeling that motivates most civilian defense officials to develop the best possible advice for the department’s senior leaders.

Military contributions to the defense mission are well studied. It can be harder to find an explanation of the department’s minority population — civilians — especially at the headquarters level. A defense-specific study of policymakers can be useful to those working at the Pentagon, especially military leaders interfacing with national political leaders for the first time.

Most of the secretary of defense’s staff are civilians — either political appointees specific to an administration or career civil servants. In addition to the secretary and the deputy secretary of defense, Senate-confirmed political leaders appointed into the department are key to “civilian control of the military.” OSD does include some military detailees, especially in offices focused on internal department processes.

OSD staff participate in governance processes essential to U.S. democracy, absorb all expertise relevant to defense issues, and shield the military from domestic politics. Working in OSD requires a different mentality and skills from serving in the military, as military detailees to the organization can attest. The mission and team-focused culture can feel similar, but the proximity to political power requires a fluidity and sensitivity to variables that are less immediate for military members. Military members benefit from, and contribute to, a collective reputation of competence. Civilians tend to be more individualized experts, assembled into different groupings as department leaders require.

Military leaders who overlook civilian policy contributions to the department risk increasing the gap between the American public and the military. They are also more likely to plan military activities misaligned from the nation’s political objectives. Conversely, I’ve seen that when civilian and military leaders understand each other’s contributions toward the common defense mission, the department is more effective in applying the U.S. military toward the nation’s political ends. Military members who learn from civilian colleagues during a Pentagon tour are better leaders in their next command. They can explain the political context and department-level strategy behind military operations to the troops.

Van Jackson has artfully described typical constellations within the national security community. When I worked in uniform, I had only a vague idea that these entities and the processes they oversaw existed.

After working in OSD for nearly ten years, I have a better appreciation for defense civilians and the policymaking art that they practice. Here are the main roles I have seen policy-focused civilians play:

Public servant. Like their military counterparts, civilians swear an oath to the U.S. constitution. Policymaking occurs within a living ecosystem whose players evolve with each election cycle (sometimes more frequently as political appointees leave and are replaced). Who the American public votes into the presidency matters. That president’s policy priorities and leadership team — and the civil servants poised to serve that team — enable the U.S. government to shift toward new policy directions away from the weighty inertia of the status quo. Civilians and their belief in this cycle are essential to the exercise of American democracy.

Strategist. Civilians contribute broad, defense-relevant expertise to senior leaders who need to view the military objectively as one instrument of national power. In most cases, the military is likely to be just one part of a broader U.S., and potentially international, effort to address a specific security challenge. Civilian expertise is needed to orient the military strategically within a broader U.S. government and global context. The regular rotation of political appointees into OSD brings fresh intellectual capital into the department. Of course, a lot of department leaders think strategically and issue strategic guidance. Specifying what constitutes a strategy and the relationship among defense-related strategies can help provide clear direction to the troops.

Connector. Civilians’ relationships with interagency colleagues, congressional staff, international actors, and experts outside government are important to the department’s ability to relate to external entities — especially given that military staff rotate into the Pentagon for shorter-duration assignments. Most allied governments have a strong desire for political alignment before committing their militaries to combined operations. One of my prior bosses in OSD brought decades-long relationships of trust with European counterparts, which enabled him to work effectively with allies to develop a unified NATO response to Russian aggression.

A military colleague once noted that it was hard to know a civilian’s qualifications, relative to a military member whose uniform provides a visual snapshot of rank, career field, and operational experience. Civilians do not undergo the standardized training and career paths that service members do. However, their varied academic and professional experiences help the department relate to other actors in the messy political reality outside it. Civilians’ more flexible role within the department’s hierarchical organizational structure can allow them to speak and operate in multiple environments more easily than a uniformed counterpart.

Translator. Career civilians can ease interactions and navigate cultural differences between political and military leaders. They can help political leaders refine policy objectives to reflect the military’s capabilities and limitations, and they can help the military understand political leaders’ guidance. Sometimes this may involve pressing military counterparts for options that meet leaders’ intentions, especially within supportable resource levels. This function is increasingly important as fewer U.S. political leaders are veterans with prior military experience. I’ve been the lone civilian in a conference room filled with military officers planning future operations. It was my responsibility to remind them of the secretary’s priorities and of political realities — the U.S. military’s incomparable scope and scale can make it hard to remember the need to focus resources where political leaders want them most.

Civilians, often with military counterparts, also represent the department’s policies to interagency and foreign policymakers. The civilian usually addresses policy objectives and political considerations, while the military member tends to explain resources required and how military activity will achieve the objectives. When the United States created an international coalition to fight ISIL, for instance, civilian and military leaders held parallel consultations with foreign counterparts along these lines.

Aggregator. OSD staff ensure that the department’s senior leaders have coherent analysis and relevant options to make decisions. Civilians aggregate the political, military, financial, legislative, and/or acquisition considerations necessary to achieve a desired effect. They are not experts in every area, but they wrangle all the relevant components to contribute toward a department-wide goal. A decision to invest — or disinvest — in base infrastructure is an example of complex, politically-sensitive decision-making facilitated by OSD’s framing of options. Civilian expertise in non-military considerations related to a base’s value is a critical complement to the military’s assessment. In addition, bureaucratically, only the secretary or deputy secretary’s staff can convene all the relevant department components to study whether to propose a domestic Base Realignment and Closure round or adjustments to overseas bases.

Based on this aggregate picture, OSD staff regularly recommend priorities to the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and other Senate-confirmed leadership. Civilians often help assess requests for use of military resources, specifically helping to evaluate the possible tradeoffs in current and future readiness that might result. Career civilians are particularly sensitive to political leaders’ expectations for long-term thinking about competing force employment priorities and for guidance that maintains the health of the force. Civilians also help the department’s leaders connect policy objectives to specific investments — or reject proposals misaligned with leadership priorities.

Buffer. Part of the American public’s respect for the uniformed military stems from a perception that they are above the political fray. Military members are expected to do whatever the nation needs, as interpreted and directed by political leaders. The secretary of defense and other appointees in the department allow the military to maintain that distance by representing the department’s political positions and equities to external audiences.

During internal debate, OSD civilians are at their best when they ask political leaders the hard questions that would be tougher for someone in uniform to ask: Why are we sending forces? What is the intended effect? Is that effect likely, given the international and domestic political context? Do you accept the associated risks?

Advocate. Once senior leaders make decisions, civilian policy staff become the department’s champion to external audiences. Civilians ask Congress for authorities and resources by painting the policy narrative for why the Defense Department needs them (it certainly helps to have a uniformed counterpart join this outreach). When both civilian and military leaders testify on the Hill, Congress expects them to address their respective responsibilities related to the topic. OSD staff also represent the department’s policy views to the White House and partner agencies, especially if Congress has authorized “dual-key” resources that require cooperation with the Department of State. While working on Afghanistan policy, I would alternate between policy advocacy and implementation roles. I talked with congressional staff about the department’s need for specific authorizations and also conferred with U.S. forces in Afghanistan about how they were executing programs enabled by those authorizations.

Conscience. This one is the hardest to discuss but it’s the heart of OSD civilian contributions to the department’s well-being. The average American has no connection to anyone serving in the U.S. military. Few Americans write their congressional representatives asking why the military is operating in a foreign country. The American public’s disengagement, coupled with veneration, can prevent the military from being held accountable for its failures. Moreover, as resource advocates and troop leaders, military leaders with current command responsibility may have a hard time admitting to failure — or objectives being impossible. This dynamic can complicate the department’s ability to assess progress and adjust course. Of course, political leaders can find self-reflection and change challenging as well.

If military actions are not having the predicted effect, if resources are not aligned with leadership priorities, if a military leader is proposing options a political leader has rejected, or if any military activity has political or strategic effects, a civilian from OSD will likely come knocking. When that happens, it helps if civilian and military colleagues already understand and trust each other. When a secretary of defense receives options from OSD, he or she can be confident that staff have examined the issue at hand through a policy lens.


Each iteration of politically appointed leaders chooses how to use civilian and military advisors. Mattis’ decisions on how to use OSD will affect the staff capacity available to a future Secretary. Leaders who know the team they inherit can use it to magnify their influence.

The secretary of defense’s relatively small, mostly civilian staff contingent helps the department be thoughtful and deliberate about how more than two million active duty and reserve forces are employed. ”


Nina Wagner is a senior strategy advisor in the Department of Defense. She has previously worked within OSD on Afghanistan, U.S. force posture abroad, and alliance relationships. As a Presidential Management Fellow, she worked in several components of the Departments of Defense and State, including the Joint Staff and U.S. Embassy Kabul. She comes from a family with multiple current and former members of the U.S. military.





Inside Pentagon Procurement from Vietnam to Iraq


Odyssey of Armaments

“Odyssey of Armaments” is a free download in Adobe format from the “Box” in the right margin of “Rose Covered Glasses”.

As we observe the current U.S. Defense Budget consuming enormous amounts of our available government funding and continuing in excess of $700 Billion annually,  this book details how the industry Eisenhower warned us about has become out of control.

A first person account by a Bronze Star decorated Vietnam Veteran who, after combat service, undertook a 36-year career in the US Military Industrial Complex (MIC) working on 25 large scale weapons systems in 12 corporations, including sales to 16 foreign countries.  These systems are in use today in the Middle East and throughout the world.

The book details the inside workings of the Military Industrial Complex among the armed service procurement offices and the mirror image corporations selling to them in from the Vietnam era until today.







The Unaffordable Pentagon Audit


Unaffordable Pentagon Audit


“To perform this audit is both expensive and time-consuming, and in many cases duplicates already-existing proven DOD oversight mechanisms.

The audit is larger in scope and size than any other attempted of its kind, dissecting a vast global enterprise of more than two million people.

The total cost of the 2018 audit will be an eye-popping $847 million. That’s a lot for an already cash-strapped Pentagon—the equivalent of eight Air Force F-35 fighter jets.”

 “Who can forget the Pentagon hammer that cost $600? It may be apocryphal, but it has symbolized inefficient spending for more than two decades. And last year a newspaper headline breathlessly shouted, “Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste.”

So seemingly only a heretic would question the need to audit the Department of Defense. But what if a Pentagon audit represents a pyrrhic victory—a quest where the results won’t justify the cost?

The Pentagon is cooperating, having recently announced that it’s ready to undergo a financial audit after years of preparation, with DOD budget secretary David Norquist noting, “It is important that the Congress and the American people have confidence in DOD’s management of every taxpayer dollar.” Norquist went on to describe how annual audits will now become part of everyday life at DOD.

To be sure, DOD is to be commended for the hard work to get to this point. But before going too far down this road, we should assure ourselves that a costly and laborious annual financial audit of DOD, performed using commercially derived strict Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), will result in a better-functioning DOD. It’s not at all clear it will.

Congress was the driving force behind the Pentagon audit, and has long bemoaned the fact that it has never been audited. Starting in 1990, and then again in 2010, Congress passed laws that required the Pentagon to undergo a full financial audit starting in fiscal year 2018.

Since then, elected officials rarely miss an opportunity to emphasize the importance of the audit. Sen. Chuck Grassley, for example, said in a recent speech on the Senate floor that “26 years of hard-core foot-dragging shows that internal resistance to auditing the books runs deep,” while in April, eight U.S. senators told Defense Secretary Mattis that they were concerned, statingthat “clean audits inherently provide controls that guard against fraud, waste, and abuse.”

Reasonable, right? But at what cost? Norquist also noted that to conduct the annual examination will require a small army of auditors—some 1,200—to examine every nook, cranny and ledger of the Pentagon’s sprawling bureaucracy. Norquist also estimated that the total cost of the 2018 audit will be an eye-popping $847 million. That’s a lot for an already cash-strapped Pentagon—the equivalent of eight Air Force F-35 fighter jets.

Why so expensive? Because, like corporate audits following similar standards, the Pentagon audit looks at much more than financial “books.” It also spot-checks property records and estimated values of millions of pieces of equipment and facilities, such as vintage armored personnel carriers and World War II–era armories, verifies data in personnel records for accuracy, such as marriage certificates and birthdays, and examines thousands of other records and systems.

The audit is larger in scope and size than any other attempted of its kind, dissecting a vast global enterprise of more than two million people. To perform this audit is both expensive and time-consuming, and in many cases duplicates already-existing proven DOD oversight mechanisms.

So why do it? Good question. U.S. corporations by law undergo annual strict financial audits to assure potential investors in capital markets of the soundness of their offerings as described in their financial statements. But DOD is not a corporation, and has no corresponding need.

And, perhaps most significantly, financial audits are not the best tools for discovering inefficiencies, waste or fraud. For those purposes, there are far better methods such as zero-based budgeting, contract or waste audits, strong management and continuous process-improvement techniques. Indeed, the few U.S. companies that don’t have to undergo a financial audit usually avoidit, since it usually does not result in significant reductions in waste or fraud compared to the costs involved.

U.S. taxpayers deserve confidence that the Defense Department operates in an honest and efficient manner. But at a time when our military is deteriorating for want of adequate resources, highlighted daily by ship accidents, crushing maintenance backlogs and munitions shortages, an $847 million annual audit—accompanied by, at best, modest expectations for improvement—is a mistake the Pentagon can ill afford.”







Pentagon Accidentally Exposes Web Monitoring Operation


Pentagon Cloud Leaks


“The Department of Defense accidentally exposed an intelligence-gathering operation, thanks to an online storage misconfiguration.

It neglected to make those storage servers private, collecting billions of public internet posts from social media, news sites, and web forums and storing them on Amazon S3 repositories.

‘The data exposed in one of the three buckets is estimated to contain at least 1.8 billion posts of scraped internet content over the past 8 years’, UpGuard said in a Friday report –  So anyone with a free Amazon AWS account could browse and download the data.”

“Much of the data was scraped from news sites, web forums, and social media services such as Facebook and Twitter. The information includes content relating to Iraqi and Pakistani politics and ISIS, but also social media posts made by Americans.

In a Twitter direct message, Vickery told PCMag he “made sure the [storage] buckets we discovered were secured before anything was brought to media attention.” However, he has no idea if anyone else, like malicious parties, ever accessed the data.

DOD didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But the Pentagon confirmed the accidental leak to CNN.

Why the Defense Department was collecting this information isn’t clear. But it certainly raises eyebrows at a time when concerns persist about US surveillance programs. It also comes as US agencies are struggling on the cybersecurity front. The National Security Agency, for instance, failed to stop breaches of its own classified hacking tools.

“Even the most sensitive intelligence organizations are not immune to sizable cyber risk,” UpGuard said in its Friday report.

The Defense Department isn’t the only one to commit the security slip-up with AWS cloud storage. Earlier this year, UpGuard found that Verizon and Dow Jones made the same mistake, effectively exposing their private customer data to the public.

Update: In an email, US Central Command commented on the accidental leak.

“Once alerted to the unauthorized access, CENTCOM implemented additional security measures to prevent unauthorized access,” said Major Josh Jacques, a spokesman for US Central Command.

The purpose of the data collection still wasn’t made clear. But Jacques told PCMag: “The information you are asking about is not sensitive information. It is not collected nor processed for any intelligence purposes.”

The data was actually provided by a contractor using “commercial off-the-shelf programs,” according to Jacques.

“U.S. Central Command has used commercial off-the-shelf and web-based programs to support public information gathering, measurement and engagement activities of our online programs on public sites,” he added. “The information is widely available to anyone who conducts similar online activities.”





Top DoD Buyer Shifts Programs To The Services


Adquisition Shift


“Revealed today in her first public appearance since her confirmation that she is making fundamental changes in how the Office of Secretary of Defense starts and manages military weapons programs.

These moves could begin a significant shift of power away from the Office of Secretary of Defense to the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force.”

“Until today, only new major programs were managed by the four services. “I am relooking at the decisions  that have been made on older programs too. We are right in the midst of discussing that. There may well be others that go back and are relegated to the services,” Lord told me. She hasn’t decided yet, she said, how many of the OSD acquisition workforce will migrate to the services to help manage them: “We are actively talking about people moving.”

Breaking D readers know better than about anyone how this all started. Sen. John McCain hired Bill Greenwalt, a top acquisition expert, to change the laws governing Pentagon acquisition. Greenwalt wrote legislation, later passed as part of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, that shifted the balance of power from OSD to the services. All new programs, it says, will be managed by the services. Lord’s decision to shift most programs to the services may mean the beginning of the ascendancy of the services in starting and managing weapons programs.

Lord also said she expects to see a 50 percent cut in the time it takes to get a program started, the time it takes the Pentagon to turn a requirement into a Request for Information (RFI) or for Proposal (RFP). “No kidding — we’re going to get there on that,” she told the conference. How exactly she’s going to measure that wasn’t clear. “I know it’s way too long,” she told reporters. “I learned that on the other side.”

Lord also declared that, while she didn’t want to regularly meet with individual CEOs, she did plan to meet individually with the heads of the top six defense primes twice each year. She met yesterday with Phebe Novakovic, General Dynamics‘ CEO. Generally, she said she preferred to work with the defense industry groups, the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), the Aerospace Industries Association(AIA), and the Professional Services Council (PSC).

A key driver for her push to speed acquisition is the need for weapons to be useful for multi-domain battle. “We need to be interoperable,” Lord said We have to have all the systems communicate with one another, and they have to share data and we have to be able to mine that data.”

Finally, Lord also told reporters after her talk that “I’m not sure that” a Space Corps— pushed by Rep. Mike Rogers of the House Armed Services Committee –would help improve space acquisition, noting there is “a very healthy debate” underway about it.”


Pentagon Product Acquisition Focus Must Be On Requirements Document


Pentagon requirements

“DEFENSE NEWS” By Gen. John Michael Loh (retired)

“The most important, yet most overlooked product in the defense acquisition system is a succinct operational requirements document.

The Defense Department’s acquisition process is so overloaded with Office of the Secretary of Defense as well as Joint Staff bureaucracy, unqualified personnel, multiple reviews and councils, and duplication of the service’s requirements organizations, the requirement gets lost.”

“The operational requirements document, or ORD, is the foundation of the acquisition process from concept development through system development.That series of processes — the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System, or JCIDS — in place since 2003, adds little value and never focuses on the ORD as the centerpiece.In fact, the requirements document isn’t called the “requirements document” in JCIDS. As the lengthy JCIDS process proceeds at a snail’s pace, what substitutes for a requirements document goes by various names like “initial capability document,” then, the “capability development document,” then the “capability production document,” without having a clear owner for each. An end-to-end ORD just doesn’t exist in JCIDS.

Instead of the top-down, JCIDS-based requirements process, the requirements process should be bottom-up with single ownership by the service’s major operating commands throughout. Putting together and managing an airtight, bulletproof ORD should be the first priority and main focus of activity during concept development leading to milestone one. After milestone one, the ORD should stay in the forefront of every decision and remain unchanged. That is the way the system worked before JCIDS.

We need to learn from the past and get back to basics in the acquisition system starting with the requirements process. From the start of the F-15 and F-16 programs in the early 70s through the F-22 start in the late 80s, concept development began with small, smart teams working together from the operating and developing commands; understanding the need; conducting trade-off analyses to assess risk and cost, in continuous dialogue, producing a requirements document unfettered by top-down micromanagement or wall-to-wall reviews and nitpicking.

The teams were manned by smart operators from the major operating command, who understood the capability needed, and by technical experts from the development command, who understood the state of the art and the risk to go beyond it. They worked in harmony in horizontal dialogue, not having to go through vertical chains of command to communicate with each other, as is the case today. Nor did the Pentagon interfere.

This process worked to produce remarkably well-constructed ORDs in less than a year in most cases. The ORD, approved by the operating and development command, went directly to the service chief and secretary for validation, then to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, which made sure it included joint service support.

Typically, the work in the Pentagon took less than six months to validate the requirement and put it on the street to industry. The key was the work done by the small teams, freed from bureaucratic tyranny and micromanagement by non-experts.

The ORD served as the main product and basis for the system specification, request for proposals and the source selection process. It kept discipline in the acquisition system throughout all pre-full-scale development milestones.

However, building small, smart teams is essential but difficult. Experience and expertise are prerequisites. Experts in development command teams must know technical and cost risks, and have a working knowledge of operational matters. Experts in the operational command teams must know threats and concepts of operations, and a working knowledge of acquisition matters. But, these experts must be trained and educated for their roles.

Today, particularly in the major operating commands, the officers defining requirements are good operators but not expert in the requirements business. To make matters worse, the responsibility for defining requirements has been subordinated in many operational commands under the plans and programming functions.

Many things need fixing in the defense acquisition system. Reform should start with eliminating JCIDS and returning to what worked — making the ORD the foundational document and driving force in acquisition programs created by small, smart teams from the responsible commands in the services The result will be an acquisition cycle that is years shorter than JCIDS, and systems that meet needed capabilities on cost and schedule.”


About the author: (wikipedia)

“John Michael Loh (born March 14, 1938)[1] is a retired four-star general in the United States Air Force who last served as Commander, Air Combat Command from June 1992 to July 1995. His other four-star assignment include being the 24th Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force from June 1990 – March 1991, and Commander, Tactical Air Command from March 1991 – June 1992.”


John Loh, official military photo.JPEG