SICI Bill Imminent. Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) said last week he will be introducing a new cybersecurity bill “in the next few days” related to Systemically Important Critical Infrastructure. Katko called cybersecurity the “preeminent threat to our country today” and asked his colleagues on the House Homeland Security Committee to approach his pending legislation with a “spirit” of “bipartisanship” and “teamwork.” In June, Katko issued a statement about SICI, saying that “Single point of failure and layers of systemic importance across this ecosystem leave the potential for cascading impact if compromised.” He also highlighted that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has been working to “identify SICI entities.”
Checkpoint CT Units.
Following its $198 million award to Analogic in late August for advanced checkpoint baggage scanners, the Transportation Security Administration said it isn’t ready to disclose the exact number of computed tomography (CT) systems the agency will be getting for its money. TSA did say in a press release that the company will provide more than 300 units, under the Checkpoint Property Screening System Mid-Size procurement, which also includes powered conveyors for CT ingress and egress, an automatic divert capability to send suspect bags to a secondary screening area, bins, and primary and alternate view stations. TSA expects to begin deploying the checkpoint CT systems at airports in early 2022.
Costs of War. While estimates differ, nearly the same number or more contractors died in Afghanistan than U.S. military service members–a fact that points to the significant role that such contractors assumed on the front lines in areas such as security and equipment maintenance. In all but two years since fiscal 2007, namely fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011, the number of contractor personnel in Afghanistan outnumbered U.S. military personnel there, per the Congressional Research Service. The Pentagon on Sept. 3 pointed to a Department of Labor database indicating that 1,822 contractors died in Afghanistan between Oct. 7, 2001 when U.S. military operations began there and Aug. 31, 2021 when such operations ceased. DoD figures also say that 1,910 military service members were killed in Afghanistan since Oct. 7, 2001.
…Discrepancies. Yet, discrepancies exist between the DoD numbers and those of the Brown University Costs of War project. Those figures say that 3,917 contractors died in Afghanistan and 2,324 U.S. military service members. The Costs of War’s contractor death estimate figures into the Department of Labor (DoL) figures the additional number of unreported contractor deaths by comparing the percentage of foreign contractors working for the U.S. military in the warzone with the much lower percentage of foreign contractors among the reported contractor dead. “The multiplier reflecting this disparity is 2.15 times the DoL number,” per the Costs of War project.
Command and Control. U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark Kelly, the head of Air Combat Command, has directed the Leidos and Kessel Run-developed Command and Control Incident Management Emergency Response Application (C2IMERA) be used at all ACC installations. A year and a half ago, Kessel Run–the Air Force’s software development and procurement unit–began fielding C2IMERA, now used at more than 40 ACC bases. Another 20 will join before the end of the year, the Air Force said. C2IMERA provides wing command and control for awareness and installation collaboration and reporting. “Our bases are air power projection platforms that require real-time installation and resource awareness, as well as command and control capability,” Kelly said in a statement. “C2IMERA gives commanders the operational sight picture to execute the mission.” In August 2019, the Air Force used C2IMERA to track Hurricane Dorian and present preparation and evacuation options for Moody AFB, Ga.
Long Range Fires. The Army’s lead official for development of new long-range precision fires (LRPF) capabilities on Aug. 31 defended the service’s push to pursue such systems, noting the inter-service discussion over who should have responsibility in this area “has not been without controversy.” “Some cynics would call it protecting your rice bowls, but I think the professionals would say there’s healthy public debate about roles and missions [about] who should be doing long-range strike, who should have these kinds of capabilities and how are we going to divide up the battlespace in the future. And, frankly, the development of these weapon systems is pushing the public debate on all that, and that’s good,” Brig. Gen. Rafferty, director of the LRPF Cross-Functional Team, said during remarks at the Army’s Virtual Fires Conference. Senior Army leaders have said previously LRPF weapons will play a critical role in the future Indo-Pacific as a means of opening up operational opportunities for the joint force.
Strategic Long Range Cannon. Rafferty also provided an update on the Army’s Strategic Long Range Cannon (SLRC) development project, which is likely to advance forward after an academic study on its feasibility is set to conclude soon. “We’re not there yet. In fact, we’re just completing an evaluation by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine who were directed by Congress two [NDAAs] ago to evaluate the program. So we’re just wrapping that up,” Rafferty said. “I think that they’re going to say that it’s feasible, that we can do this. And that’s just another seal of approval we needed along the way.” SLRC is the Army’s program to field a new system capable of shooting projectiles at ranges of 1,000 nautical miles, with plans to field a technology demonstrator in 2023. “It’s fascinating. I hope it works. I’m confident that it will if we’re able to continue to the full range demonstration,” Rafferty said.
G/ATOR Delivery. Northrop Grumman said on Sept. 2 it has delivered the 15th AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) multi-mission radar system to the Marine Corps, officially completing the program’s low-rate initial production phase. The company noted it also recently fielded the first full-rate production system with deliveries set to continue through 2024. The Marine Corps in February placed its Lot 3 full-rate production order for G/ATOR, awarding Northrop Grumman $237 million for eight more radars. The latest order brought the total value of G/ATOR production up to $686 million. G/ATOR is designed to better defend against a growing array of short and medium range threats, including cruise missiles and rockets.
People News. Boeing’s board has elected David Joyce, former president and CEO of General Electric Aviation, to be a director, effective immediately. Joyce, 64, retired from GE as vice chair in 2020. Boeing also said that retired Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, a member of the board since 2009 following his retirement from the service and as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will retire as a director at the end of 2021. Teledyne Technologies said that Robert Mehrabian, the company’s chairman, will also add back the roles of president and CEO upon the retirement of Al Pichelli, the current president and CEO, effective Oct. 15. Mehrabian’s contract remains through December 2023. Retired Air Force Gen. Stephen Wilson and former CIA Director Gina Haspel have been appointed to the board of directors of BAE Systems, Inc., the U.S.-based subsidiary of Britain’s BAE Systems. The terms of both new directors run through April 2024.
Cyber Cup. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Aug. 30 opened registration for the third annual President’s Cub Cybersecurity Competition, a nationwide contest open to individuals and teams in the federal government to test their cyber aptitude. The competition has three categories, a track on incident response and forensic analysis for teams and individuals, and another individual track focused on exploitation analysis and vulnerability assessment. Competition begins Sept. 13 with the finals scheduled for December.