New Cyber Priority. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco last week outlined several new steps the Justice Department is pursuing to combat cyber security threats, including disrupting cyber-attacks while they are ongoing. Success against terrorists is preventing attacks in the first place and so when the department is investigating ongoing cyber-attacks, “prosecutors, agents and analysts will now assess, at each stage of a cyber investigation, whether to use disruptive actions against cyber threats, even if they might otherwise tip the cyber-criminals off and jeopardize the potential for charges and arrests,” she said during the annual Munich Cyber Security Conference. “In other words, before we bring charges, we will assess whether there are steps we can take to prevent or reduce the risk to victims, steps like providing decryptor keys or seizing servers used to further cyber-attacks.”

…International Steps.

Monaco highlighted that investigations into cyber-attacks typically have “an international dimension,” so the Justice Department is creating the Cyber Operations International Liaison, who will work with U.S. prosecutors and partners in Europe to quicken the pace of activities “against top-tier cyber actors.” The liaison will be based in Europe to strengthen “connectivity” with partners there, she said. In addition, U.S. prosecutors conducing major “cyber investigations will now be required to consult with the department’s international and cybercrime specialists to identify international actions that might be able to help stop a threat.”

A&D E-Commerce. Boeing last week said in 2021 it sold more than $2 billion in parts through its e-commerce portal, a record in annual online orders for the company. Most of the orders, $1.5 billion, were commercial, and the rest to governments. Boeing’s online parts website has more than 500,000 products. The company said the portal was visited five million times by customers in 50 countries.

Shanahan on Leidos Board. Leidos last week named former Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to its board. Shanahan was deputy defense secretary during the Trump administration from 2017 until 2019, and his service included a six-month stint in 2019 as acting DoD chief before stepping down for family reasons. Before joining the DoD, Shanahan had been an executive with Boeing, including serving as senior vice president for supply chain and operations. “Having served at the highest levels of the Department of Defense and industry, his insight will be an enormous asset,” Roger Krone, chairman and CEO of Leidos, said of Shanahan.

Navy No. 2.  The White House officially sent the nomination of Erik Raven to the Senate to be Under Secretary of the Navy, the administration said on Feb. 14. The White House first announced their intention to nominate him in December. Raven serves as the majority clerk of the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee, where he has been a staffer since 2007. Raven previously served as a national security adviser and legislative director to former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), fellow to former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), and in several positions for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Raven is the first permanent nominee for the position in the Biden administration. Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, Meredith Berger, has been performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy since August 2021. 

Presidential Simulators. The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky a $99 million contract on Feb. 17 covering products and support needed to rapidly integrate and field VH-92A aircraft simulators and trainers in support of the Presidential Helicopter Program. The contract announcement said products include technical analysis, technical reports, trade studies, and retrofit kits for ground support equipment modifications that support deficiency resolution, capability/technology insertions, obsolescence redesigns, and reliability/sustainability improvements. Work will be split between Oswego, N.Y. (98 percent), and Stratford, Conn. (two percent), and is expected to be finished by February 2030.  Funds will be obligated on individual orders as they are issued. This was not competitively procured pursuant to defense regulations.

SSN-762. The Navy awarded Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division a $189 million modification on Feb. 17 to continue performing the repair, maintenance, upgrades and modernization work on the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Columbia’s (SSN-762) engineered overhaul. Work is expected to be finished by December 2022. This is on top of a $194 million contract mod from almost a year ago for continued execution of FY ‘18 engineered overhaul work on SSN-762.

DDG(X). The Navy awarded Gibbs & Cox Inc. a $30 million contract on Feb. 17 to support surface combatant ship design and engineering efforts for the Navy’s Future Surface Combatant Force, focused on supporting the DDG(X) program. The DoD announcement said this work will also support other emerging ship concepts and “conduct feasibility studies as part of supporting the broader Navy fleet.” Work will be split evenly between Arlington, Va., and Washington, D.C., and is expected to be finished by February 2023. The contract includes options that, if exercised, would raise the total value to $319 million and extend the work through February 2027. The contract was competitively procured but with only one offer received by Naval Sea Systems Command.

LSE Wraps Up. The IMX/CE 2022 large scale international exercise in the Middle East wrapped up on Feb. 17 following a ceremony in Bahrain, the Navy said. The exercises included over 9,000 personnel and 50 ships featuring the largest unmanned exercise in the world with over 80 unmanned systems from 10 participating countries. Training exercises took place across the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea and North Indian Ocean with naval forces divided into four geographical combined task forces led by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Kenya and Oman. This was the seventh iteration of IMX since it began in 2012.

CSG 1. The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (CSG 1) returned to San Diego on Feb. 14, ending an eight-month deployment to the 3rd and 7th Fleet areas of operations. The USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was the first carrier to deploy with a combination of both fourth and fifth-generation platforms in Carrier Air Wing-2, including F-35C Joint Strike Fighters, CMV-22B Ospreys,  F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, MH-60R Sea Hawks and MH-60S Sea Hawks. The CSG conducted dual carrier operations, multinational exercises and operated in both the South China Sea and the Philippine Sea, including Large Scale Exercise 2021 in August, Operation Malabar and Maritime Partnership Exercise 2021 in October, Annual Exercise 2021 in November, U.S. and Australia’s bilateral exercise in December, and Expeditionary Strike Force and dual carrier operations in January 2022. CSG 1 includes CVN-70, guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), and guided-missile destroyers USS Chafee (DDG-90), USS O’Kane (DDG-77), USS Stockdale (DDG-106), and USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112).

PPBE Reform. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, has named David Norquist, the former deputy secretary of defense, as her pick to a new commission tasked with reviewing the Pentagon’s budget planning process. “It is an honor to be appointed to this important commission,” Norquist said in a statement. Norquist is one of 14 members on the newly established commission to evaluate potential reforms to the Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution (PPBE) process. “PPBE is the process by which our nation develops its National Defense Strategy and then allocates the resources to implement that strategy. A process that supports sound and timely decisions is key to ensuring our Nation is prepared to respond to current and future threats,” Norquist said. Before serving as the deputy secretary of defense from 2019 to 2021, Norquist was the Pentagon’s comptroller from 2017 to 2019.  The leaders of the congressional Armed Services Committees announced their picks recently, which included several former senior DoD officials, such as Ellen Lord and Eric Fanning.

Ukraine Support Bill. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking members on the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, respectively, led a large group of Republicans in introducing a new bill on Feb. 15 that aims to increase support for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing buildup of troop presence along its borders, to include placing sanctions on Moscow to deter a potential invasion. A provision in the bill calls for providing $500 million in foreign military financing to Ukraine, to include $250 million in emergency funding. The emergency funds would cover $100 million for capabilities such as air defense, anti-armor, and anti-ship systems, according to the lawmakers. The bill would also call for expediting the congressional review process for arms sales and security assistance to Ukraine.

New CENCTOM Commander. The Senate on Feb. 17 confirmed Army Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla as the next leader of U.S. Central Command. Kurilla, who is currently the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, will receive his fourth star along with the confirmation as he succeeds Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie as the next CENTCOM commander. During his confirmation hearing, Kurilla told the Senate Armed Services Committee he wants to use artificial intelligence to improve targeting in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.

Army Under Secretary. Gabe Camarillo was officially sworn in as the Army’s new under secretary on Feb. 8 during a ceremony at the Pentagon. Camarillo, who was most recently a senior vice president at SAIC, will now serve as the Army’s senior civilian assistant and principal adviser on management and operations-related matters. “I am thrilled to welcome Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo back to the Army team. He brings a wealth of experience in the military’s modernization and personnel portfolios and will hit the ground running immediately,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in a statement. Camarillo previously served as the principal deputy assistant secretary in the Army’s procurement office from 2012 to 2015. “I jumped at the chance to come back and serve with soldiers, Army civilians and their families,” Camarillo said. “I’ve always been impressed by the talent they bring and the sacrifices they make for the country. I look forward to supporting our soldiers and Army civilians in their roles and hope to make their paths a little bit easier.”

17 of 88. In a new report on artificial intelligence (AI), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that in fiscal 2021 17 of the Pentagon’s 88 major weapons systems had associated AI projects. Such weapons systems include the MQ-9 Reaper drone by General Atomics and the Army’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle by Oshkosh Defense. GAO said that “most of the 685 identified projects are not yet aligned to specific systems but have potentially broad applicability to multiple systems.” DoD efforts in AI thus far focus on automatic target recognition; counsel to military forces on where to move troops and position weapons; and increasing the autonomy of uncrewed systems, the GAO said in its report, Artificial Intelligence: Status of Developing and Acquiring Capabilities for Weapons Systems.

Air Combat Evolution. DARPA’s strategic technology office has awarded Leidos’ Dynetics subsidiary a 16-month, $2.6 million contract for Phase 2 of DARPA’s Air Combat Evolution (ACE) program. In Phase 2, Dynetics is to develop and demonstrate AI-enabled battle management. “As we move into Phase 2, learning how to create symbiosis between air battle managers and our AI-based battle management system, AlphaMosaic, will be our key focus,” Kevin Albarado, Dynetics’ chief engineer for ACE, said in a statement. Dynetics said its team “has already begun transition efforts to flight test portions of AlphaMosaic in fighter jets” and that “the applications being tested aim to better inform pilots with group-level situational awareness and coordinated targeting responsibility.” DARPA’s ACE Phase 3 is to include “a realistic, manned-flight environment involving complex human-machine collaboration,” per Dynetics.