Tag Archives: Pentagon

Pentagon’s Contract Managers Have Room for Improvement

DCMA Room for Improvement

DCMA Web Site


“Properly managing defense contracts is a complicated and important part of our national security. Such contracts range from laundry and food services to body armor and fighter jets.

Given the high stakes and the many ways things can go wrong, it is little surprise that the Government Accountability Office has kept the management of defense contracts on its “High-Risk List” since 1992 (the list was created in 1990). “

“Last month, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) reported the scathing findings of previously unpublished government investigations into contract mismanagement committed by none other than the Pentagon agency dedicated to managing contracts. When considered alongside other audits and reviews of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), the reports paint a disturbing picture of systemic failures and sloppy management, casting doubt on the agency’s ability to protect taxpayer and government interests in the trillions of dollars’ worth of contracts it administers. The investigative and audit reports POGO reviewed contain numerous recommendations that the agency has yet to address. While several of these recommendations were issued within the past few months, some date back three years or more, despite agency leadership agreeing with the recommendations on paper.

These recommendations present opportunities for the agency to improve its performance with thoughtful and deliberate changes. Reviewing them reveals underlying problems that cut across various programs, with major themes including training, management, and internal policies.

In similar fashion, the Defense Department’s Inspector General recently placed “Enabling Effective Acquisition and Contract Management” in the number three spot on a list of the Pentagon’s “top 10 management and performance challenges” for fiscal year 2018, above even cybersecurity.

Last month, the Inspector General collected and published all of its recommendations for the Pentagon that were unresolved as of March 31, 2018. It highlighted the theme of contractor oversight, which has 161 pending recommendations split among DCMA and other parts of the Defense Department. Yet even though the recommendations are split, the agency plays an outsized role in overseeing contractor performance.

Training: The need for additional training for contracting officers is a common theme throughout the unresolved recommendations for the agency. POGO’s review found 17 recommendations related to better training for contracting officers, specifically on: requestingand fully addressing contract audit findings; obtaining legal reviews and management approval; proper records management; contract terms and requirements; avoiding conflicts of interest; the standards for evaluating contracts; approving contract modifications; and more.

Training for other DCMA staff was recommended as well, specifically for finance and IT personnel, on the subject of budgeting and spending processes.

One shortfall for contracting officers appears repeatedly: establishing performance standardsfor contractors and using quality-assurance plans to determine if contractors are meeting those standards. POGO identified an additional five such recommendations from four separate reports within the last two years.

Management: The agency can’t blame all of its problems on lack of training. Management also needs to prioritize stronger supervision and oversight. For example, a September 2017 report involving a mismanaged information technology project—which POGO revealed last month—shows how management failed to either catch or care about ongoing violations of contracting policy. The report specifies that the contracting officer for the project “circumvented rules. Lack of training was not the cause of this problem.”

POGO identified nine open recommendations regarding the need for stronger supervision and discipline at various levels of the agency; one recommendation states that the agency’s entire IT department is in urgent need of better supervision from agency leadership.

Internal Policy Changes: At least 13 open recommendations focus on policy changes—many of which relate to strengthening or creating internal controls within the agency to prevent or correct future failures. Other topics include raising job qualifications, sharing pricing data for certain items across the Pentagon, and creating multi-functional teams to manage projects from start to finish. As with any new policies, management should ensure that these policies come with appropriate training for workers as well as corresponding oversight to ensure policies are being implemented properly.

Finally, a recommendation from POGO, for Congress: it should oversee DCMA’s conduct far more aggressively. The numerous recent Inspector General reports and the recent investigation into the agency’s violations of budget law and contract mismanagement provide a strong foundation for an oversight hearing or for other types of Congressional oversight. These reports and unresolved recommendations warrant tougher public scrutiny of how the Pentagon oversees the agency, how the agency manages itself, and how the agency oversees contractor performance.

More recommendations are sure to come, as two reports from the Pentagon’s Inspector General and at least one large internal investigation—part of the contracting disaster POGO recently reported on—are pending.

Agency leaders understand there is plenty of room for improvement. They should pay more attention to the low-hanging fruit that many of these recommendations represent. Each of these recommendations has a story behind it, and each that remains open for years on end is a testament to the failure of the status quo.”






warfare realities

“ROSE COVERED GLASSES” By Ken Larson  – 2 Tour Vietnam Veteran and Retired Aerospace Contracts Manager

In the last 17 years the U.S. has reacted to the 911 tragedy by creating a behemoth machine that cannot and will not continue. 

It Knows Only Killing – Has Little Understanding of Foreign Cultural Factors – Spawns New Versions of Our Old Enemies – Creates a Dangerous Outgrowth of Technology Exporting It for Profit and Defies Financial Control 

Knows Only Killing 


This outrageous explosion of watch listing—of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers…  assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield—it was, from the very first instance, wrong,” the source of the documents told the Intercept. “We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”
She Kills People From 7,850 Miles Away

Has Little Understanding of Foreign Cultural Factors in Nation Building

Our government has not considered the risks, the indigenous cultural impact, the expense and the sacrifices required to sustain the nation building that must occur after we invade countries in pursuit of perceived enemies and place the burden of governance on military personnel who are not equipped to deal with it or manage USAID contractors who have profit motives in mind and corruption as a regular practice.
Risks, Expenses and Sacrifices in Nation Building

Spawns New Versions of Our Old Enemies 

An observer of our military actions over the last two decades in the Middle East could in no way have predicted the splintered, irrational, “Turn-Your-Back-And-You-Have-Two-New-Enemies”, scenario the US faces today. Perhaps a look back over our shoulder, examining cause and effect relationships along the road is in order.

Cause and Effect Relationships in the Middle East

Creates a Dangerous Outgrowth of Technology in the Military Industrial Complex and Then Exports It for Profit

The United States remains the leading arms exporter increasing sales by 23 percent, with the country’s share of the global arms trade at 31 percent.

Record US Weapons Sales to Foreign Countries – $1.6 Billion in Lockheed Martin Missiles Alone

Very smart people in the Pentagon believed that connecting sensitive networks, expensive equipment, and powerful weapons to the open Internet was a swell idea.

This ubiquitous connectivity among devices and objects — what we now call the “Internet of Things” — would allow them to collect performance data to help design new weapons, monitor equipment remotely, and realize myriad other benefits. The risks were less assiduously cataloged.

That strategy has spread huge vulnerabilities across the Defense Department, its networks, and much of what the defense industry has spent the last several decades creating.

The Pentagon Hooked Everything to the Internet

Defies Financial Control With Dire Consequences for the Nation’s Economic Future

A law passed in 1994 initially set the deadline for 1997, but the Pentagon’s books were in such disarray that it blew past that date. Then, in 2010, Congress told the Pentagon to comply by 2017.

The next year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pledged that the department would by 2014 be ready for a partial account of its finances – a much less detailed accounting than requested of the military services — but the department missed that deadline too.

Pentagon Remains Stubbornly Unable To Account for Its Billions

The Above Machine  Cannot and Will Not Continue.

The debt is too great a burden for generations of tax payers.

It is too risky in terms of technology that has fallen fall into enemy hands, either through the “Internet of Things” or by blunders in export management. 

It will be replaced by domestic and foreign relations programs that emphasize global human progress and economic development in lieu of threats.  The result will rely on uplifting, cooperative efforts among nations in lieu of killing. 

The globe has become too small to operate the Military Industrial Machine and the resources that have fueled it will be redirected. 

There simply is no other way. 

The change will be brought about in the following manner:

Facing geopolitical and economic realities, stopping war interventions and investing in relationships within and without our country by offering mutual collaboration.

Ceasing to dwell on threat and building long term infrastructure, education and international development.  The threats will melt away. 

Investing for the long term at the stock holder, company and  national levels based on a strategy dealing with both present day and long term challenges in education, communication and society value transitions.

Electing a Congress and an Administration that knows how to strike a balance between long and short term actions. Letting them know what we think regularly by communicating with them. 

Knowing that most cultures and societies in upheaval today are watching our national model and choosing whether to support it, ignore it or attack it.

The Dire Necessity for U.S. Long Term Strategic Vision 



Ken Portrait - Copy (2)

KEN LARSON is a 2 Tour US Army Vietnam Veteran,  retired from 36 Years in the Defense Industrial Complex.  Ken worked on 25 major weapons systems, many of which are in use today in the Middle East. 

He is a volunteer Micro Mentor Counselor, specializing in Small, Veteran-owned, Minority-Owned and Woman-Owned Businesses beginning work for the Federal Government. Micro Mentor is a non-profit organization offering free assistance to small business in business planning, operations, marketing and other aspects of starting and successfully operating a small enterprise.  He can be reached at:  Ken at Micro Mentor

Odyssey of Armaments



Odyssey of Armaments

– Ken Larson – from the book, “Odyssey of Armaments”  with 81 comments from readers. 
Available as a free download in the BOX at the right margin of this site.  Rosecoveredglasses

“How much longer can we afford to be the “World’s Policeman”? We are spending over $700B per year for defense, homeland security and nation building.

The largest corporations selling to our government are no more than extensions of our government in the cloak of industry. They are not in the business of making money for the stockholder. They are in the business of spending money for the government.”


“In 1968, I came home from serving two US Army tours in Vietnam, having been awarded five medals, including a Bronze Star. During my second tour I acquired Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression. Treatment would not become available for either ailment until the mid to late 70’s. Returning to the University of Minnesota at Morris, I found that most of my former classmates were either facing the military draft or were violently against the war. I was not their favorite person.

Feeling isolated and alone, I was unable to relate to my family due to untreated Depression and PTSD. Disillusioned with school, I moved to Minneapolis Minnesota and began a career in the Defense Industrial Complex that would span over three decades from 1969 through 2005. I thought that through working on defense systems, I could contribute to the quality and quantity of weapons that the next generation would take to war. Given a clearly defined mission and the best armaments and systems in the world, I believed that another Vietnam could be avoided for the American Soldier. In pursuit of this goal, I participated in the design, development and production of 25 large scale weapons systems under Federal Government and Foreign Military Sales Contracts. I worked in several different disciplines for the companies that produced these weapons, negotiating and controlling the associated contracts with procurement agencies in the US Armed Forces and in 16 allied countries.

By the time treatment for PTSD and Depression became available, I had such high security clearances that had I been treated for these disorders, the US Government would have revoked my clearances and my career would have ended or would have been sharply curtailed. This quandary led to my journey through the Defense Industrial Complex. I found that accepting extreme challenges and succeeding at them became a way to displace PTSD and elevate depressive moods. For extended periods of time this method of self-management led to a satisfying, although somewhat adventurous and diversified life. However, down periods always occurred, especially after the latest challenge had been met. A new challenge was then required. Family, friends and acquaintances were often puzzled by the frequent changes in my job sites and locations. Two marriages fell by the wayside.

I became known in the industry as a front-end loaded trouble shooter on complex projects, installing processes and business systems required by the Federal Acquisition Regulation. These systems included estimating and pricing, proposal preparation, contract administration, cost and schedule control, program management, design to cost, life cycle cost, export management and other specialties unique to US Government Contracts. Getting through government source selection boards and surviving audits during competition was a significant challenge for defense contractors. Installing required business systems after contract award, under ambitious cost, schedule and technical conditions, was an even more difficult undertaking. I became a leader in the problem solving and creative processes necessary to win contracts and successfully fulfill them. When my mood demanded it, there was always a new job, with a new challenge and a subsequent elevated feeling from success. It was not unusual for a career professional in the Defense Industry to move regularly with the ebb and flow of competitive procurements and associated government funding shifts.

I came to know many of the career military and civil servants who managed the government procurement process. These individuals never went away, regardless of elections or politics. They developed the alternatives from which elected officials must choose. The American Public rarely heard from these powerful insiders, while the insiders slanted the choices supplied to elected officials in a self-perpetuating manner. I recognized the mirror image way in which procuring agencies and defense contractors organized their operations on the largest systems acquisitions. Key executives regularly moved back and forth between government and industry. I often observed the short, happy life of a defense company program manager. Appointed by the powerful insiders to head a single project, he had no authority over company resources, he perpetually competed with other program managers for the same talent pool and he always took the heat from management when things did not go well. His counterpart in the government quarters had similar experiences. I often supported several program managers at the same time. They all were desperate to achieve success. They each believed they had the most important program in the company.

In early 2005, approaching age sixty, I found myself unable to self-manage an extremely deep depressive episode. The journey had simply wound down. This situation nearly resulted in an end to my life. Recovering with help from my family and the US Veteran’s Administration, I now reside in a veteran’s home, volunteering to Small, Veteran-Owned, Women-Owned and Minority-Owned businesses that are pursuing contracts with the Federal Government. I provide advice, alternatives and business examples based on my experiences. It is refreshing to witness the successes of small, motivated and flexible companies. I believe they deserve every special consideration they have achieved under our system of government.

After thirty-six years in the Defense Industrial Complex my greatest satisfaction came from watching “Stormin Norman” and his Gulf War Forces defeat the Iraqi Army in Operation Desert Storm. They used the Abrams Main Battle Tank, the Hellfire Missile and an array of communications and other systems on which I worked. I have had the privilege of meeting several young soldiers coming back from current conflicts in the Middle East who have praised these systems for their life saving performances.

Operation Desert Storm had a clearly defined mission to liberate a small country from an aggressor. We accomplished the mission utilizing the best weapons in the world. Unfortunately, we did not leave the area. The lessons of Vietnam have not been remembered and once again political factors govern our presence in several countries. This time it is the Middle East. A Future Combat System (FCS) is now under development geared for urban warfare with unmanned vehicles, state of the art sensors and remote standoff capabilities. The enemy has grown to become a formidable force, cable of striking without notice even within our own country. He threatens the world economy with violent disruptions in several domains at the same time. He is a product of our own creation, rebelling against the “US Police Force” with help from neighbors who play either benign or active roles. Our enemy knows his neighborhood far better than we do. US intelligence and military capabilities are strained to the maximum monitoring perceived hot spots all over the globe. We must face the fact that our long term presence in other countries is resented.

How much longer can we afford to be the “World’s Policeman”? We are spending over $700B per year for defense, homeland security and nation building. The largest corporations selling to our government are no more than extensions of our government in the cloak of industry. They are not in the business of making money for the stockholder. They are in the business of spending money for the government. Recent consolidation in the Defense Industrial Complex has dramatically reduced competition. Only public laws mandating a twenty per cent allocation of Federal Contract Funding to small business have kept diversification in the mix. Even then, much of the moneys that flow to small business go through a select group of large business prime contractors who add their respective overhead and general administrative expense to the small business cost and pass it on to the government.

When we consider the largest evolving countries in the world today, such as China, India and others, we should note that they are successfully competing with us in a fast moving, complex world economy. These countries are not all pure democracies and probably never will be. No overt action on our part created these powerhouses. As we struggle to compete with them we must have education, research and development and a healthy work force to keep pace. How much can we afford to spend forcing our capitalistic ideologies on other societies? Events have proven that the world has become a tightly wound place economically. Countries who wish to succeed and grow will play the game anyway.

I hope that this account of my experiences has supplied useful insights into the US Government Defense Industrial Complex. My odyssey was driven by a need to manage illnesses acquired in warfare. I found a way to deal with the maladies for years by spreading myself thin and accepting every new challenge. I thrilled at success and moved on after defeat, pursuing a misguided goal. Out of necessity I have now been forced to look inward, wind down to a smaller perspective, take care of my health – begin serving the little guy.

Perhaps it is time for our country to consider a similar transition.”

Odyssey of Armaments


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.”