Capitol Hill Week Ahead. Spring break has already begun for the Senate, but the House is in for half a week before lawmakers head back home. The HASC has planned two high profile hearings. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford will testify on the budget. The following day, HASC will hear from F-35 program executive officer Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan and Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s independent weapons tester, on the Joint Strike Fighter.
…More Budget. The House Budget Committee in a late Wednesday session approved the House Republicans’ 10-year spending plan, which maintains defense spending at the levels stipulated in last year’s budget year and in the president’s 2017 budget request. Lawmakers won’t be voting on the legislation until after they come back from spring break, but the proposal could see opposition not only from Democrats, who want to see more funding for Flint, Mich., but also Freedom Caucus members that think the $1.07 trillion overall spending level is too high.
International Headwinds. Lockheed Martin expects its international business to continue to grow but at a slower pace due to various pressures, including declines in oil prices that are impacting revenues for some countries and a continued strong U.S. dollar, Marillyn Hewson, the company’s chairman, president and CEO, says at the company’s annual media day. Still, international prospects are solid and Hewson says it is an area “we expect the majority of our growth potential to come from in the years ahead.” In 2015 21 percent of Lockheed Martin’s $46.1 billion in sales came from international customers.
…Regions of Interest. Hewson says that Europe, the Middle East and Asia are three areas where “security considerations are particularly acute among our key customers.” In Europe security concerns are being fueled by Russia’s actions and in Asia by “growing concerns about China’s aggressive military build-up and maritime claims, and North Korea’s increasingly unpredictable actions,” she says. In the Middle East, regional security and terrorism top the concerns of governments in the region, she says.
Shipyard Layoffs. BAE Systems says that layoffs are beginning at its ship repair facilities in Norfolk, Va., and Jacksonville, Fla., although the numbers of affected workers are fewer than originally projected when the company said in January it would be laying off more than 800 employees. At Norfolk the company will notify 265 employees over the next two weeks that their last day with BAE is April 1. That number is less than the 530 employees who had been notified of potential job elimination. At BAE’s two facilities in Jacksonville, 30 employees will leave by April 1 instead of the potential 210 that received notices in January. The layoffs have been moderated somewhat by recent ship repair contracts, but BAE warns that further layoffs might happen in May.
Enlightened Investment. Enlightenment Capital, an investment firm, has had a strategic investment in Aurora Flight Sciences, a developer and manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems and autonomous flight technologies for military and commercial uses. Enlightenment says its investment will support Aurora’s plans for expanding development and manufacturing scale as demand increases. Pierre Chao, managing partner of Enlightenment Capital, says that Aurora is “an innovator in a surging UAS market and we look forward to supporting their continued growth and innovation.”
U.S.-Israel Cyber. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter hosted Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon at the Pentagon for a bilateral meeting where both parties agreed to increased cooperation in the cyber domain to enhance both countries’ cyber defense. The secretary and minister also discussed developments in the region and agree to continue to work closely to maintain the strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
Lebanon Hueys. The U.S. Army awarded Bell Helicopter Textron a nearly $19 million modification to a foreign military sales (FMS) contract for the procurement of three UH-1H (Huey II) helicopters for Lebanon. The FY ’16 other funds category of full funding is obligated at the time of award. Work is to be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (99.85 percent) and Lebanon (0.15 percent). The estimated completion date is March 14, 2017. The contracting activity is Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
New CIA CIO. John Edwards succeeded Doug Wolfe as the CIA’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) in February. Wolfe has served over 30 years in the agency and in the CIO position since October 2013. Edwards also served for decades in the intelligence community, including in the Office of the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI).
New OPM CIO. Deputy federal chief information officer (CIO) Lisa Schlosser is named the interim CIO at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The former OPM CIO, Donna Seymour, resigned in February following months of complaints by Republican members of Congress in the wake of the OPM hacks.
AUSA Leadership. Former four-star Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, longtime president and CEO of the Association of the U.S. Army, intends to step down effective July 1. “I’ve been proud for 18 ½ years to lead a professional organization dedicated to supporting the Army and all of its parts,” Sullivan, who served as Army chief of staff from 1993 to 1995, says in a statement. “We have an essential mission [to act as] the public voice for the Army, including its soldiers, veterans and retirees, their families, the Army’s civilian workforce and industry partners. Also important to us has been our role in professional development through national and chapter activities and publications. I saw my work here as a continuation of my 36 years in the Army, building leaders, supporting the troops, facing whatever challenges the world creates.” Sullivan will be a distinguished senior fellow in AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare after he steps down He also remains chairman of the Board of Directors of the Army Historical Foundation, where he will concentrate efforts on seeing that the National Museum of the U.S. Army is built.
…Replacement. AUSA’s board of trustees says retired Gen. Carter Ham will succeed Sullivan. Currently AUSA’s executive vice president, Ham is a veteran of Operations Desert Storm, Able Sentry and Odyssey Dawn. He commanded the U.S. Africa Command from March 2011 until April 2013, his final military assignment. Most recently, Ham chaired the National Commission on the Future of the Army, which developed and published in February a comprehensive report on the state of the service and more than 60 recommendations for its future.
Commander For NORTHCOM. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has named the first female commander of a geographical combatant command. Air Force Gen. Lori Robinson is nominated to take over U.S. Northern Command, which encompasses the continental United States, Canada and the Arctic. President Barack Obama approves of the choice and will nominate Robinson to the Senate, the secretary says. Robinson currently is commander of Pacific Air Forces and is air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command. She also is executive director of the Pacific Air Combat Operations staff at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii. Robinson is a senior air battle manager with more than 900 flight hours in the E-3B/C airborne warning and control system aircraft (AWACS) and the E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system aircraft (JSTARS). Naming the first female combatant commander, Carter says demonstrates “that we have coming along now a lot of female officers who are exceptionally strong. Lori certainly fits into that category.”
… And Korea. Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks is nominated as commander of U.S. Forces Korea. Brooks now is commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, with control of all Army soldiers in the PACOM area of responsibility. Carter said U.S. Forces Korea “is part of U.S. Pacific Command, but is a major political military command, a place where we need our very best, and Vince is that, and also an officer with tremendous operational and managerial experience.
Nominations Confirmed. The Senate voted to confirm two key military officials before leaving town on Thursday. Army Gen. Joe Votel is now the head of Central Command, and Army Lt. Gen Ray Thomas will lead Special Operations Command. Votel is succeeding Gen. Lloyd Austin, while Thomas is filling Votel’s former role.
Anti-Submarine Warfare. The Navy on March 12 wrapped up a successful test of the upgraded Periscope Detection and Discrimination (PDD) capability for the AN/SPQ-9B Anti-Ship Missile Defense Radar. Northrop Grumman in 2015 was awarded a contract to manufacture SPQ-9B radars with the new PDD mode for Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. “The upgraded PDD capability represents a noteworthy improvement in submarine detection in support of the Navy’s overall anti-surface warfare efforts,” a Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) statement said.