PAE to Amentum. PAE Inc.’s stockholders last Thursday approved the company’s agreement to be acquired by Amentum, clearing the last hurdle for the $1.9 billion deal that is expected to close around Tuesday. Amentum last October agreed to acquire PAE in a transaction that will create a $9 billion government services company that provides aviation logistics and modernization, cybersecurity and intelligence technologies and services.

Cyber Deal Activity.

The investment banking firm Capstone Partners says demand is high for companies looking to acquire cybersecurity companies. “We see strategic buyer appetite for quality assets at an all-time high,” said Tom McConnell, managing director at Capstone. In the second half of 2021, Capstone’s cybersecurity merger and acquisition practice closed four deals, including the acquisition of Bricata by an undisclosed strategic buyer, Cygilant by the managed detection and response services company SilverSky, COVAIL by GoSecure, which also provides managed detection and response services, and VirtualArmour by Evergreen Services Group, an industry consolidator of managed information technology and cybersecurity services companies.

Intel Assignment. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), who co-chaired the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, has been appointed to serve on the House Intelligence Committee. Gallagher is a former Marine Corps officer who worked in counterintelligence and human intelligence. He has been vocal about the challenges posed by China. “After two decades of prioritizing counterterrorism operations our challenge is now to adapt the intelligence community to face the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party, whose core identity is shaped by the role that intelligence operations and United Worker Front played in its ascendancy to power within China,” he said. Gallagher is currently on the House Armed Services, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.

People News. ManTech has promoted Stephen Deitz to executive vice president and general manager of the company’s federal civilian sector, reporting to Matt Tait, ManTech’s chief operating officer. Deitz previously was senior vice president of strategic operations and division manager for ManTech’s Department of Justice work. ASRC Federal has named Jon Taglieri as chief financial officer, joining the company from Booz Allen Hamilton, where he led corporate and business finance operations. The private equity firm AE Industrial Partners has brought on Pamela Braden as an operating partner. She previously was CEO of defense technology and services company Gryphon Technologies, a former portfolio company of AEI that was sold to ManTech in December.

Combining Energy. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) held a wargame on Jan. 24-28 at Kirtland AFB, N.M., that featured AFRL’s directed energy and munitions directorates exploring how directed and kinetic energy systems could work together in a future conflict. The Directed Energy and Kinetic Energy Directed Energy Utility Concept Experiment, known as DEKE DEUCE, was a virtual exercise of mission sets combining the use of directed energy and kinetic energy for pilots, weapons systems officers, and air battle managers. The exercise focused on the possible use of an airborne high energy laser pod and two future kinetic concepts, AFRL said.

…Artificial Intelligence. Darl Lewis, the DEUCE lead and wargaming principal investigator, said in a statement that the Office of Naval Research (ONR) also participated in the wargame as a prelude to using ONR’s Elektra battle management concept alongside AFRL’s battle management concepts. Lewis said that “an urgent need exists to rapidly field and integrate viable next-generation weapons, both DE and KE, in response to increasing capabilities and aggressive intentions from our adversaries.” As in the past, last month’s DEUCE exercise used AFRL’s Weapons Engagement Optimizer (WOPR), an artificial intelligence-based battle management system to aid battle management. “WOPR will be used to analyze intricate data systems in real time for augmenting warfighter and senior leader decision making,” AFRL said.

Drone Disclosure. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin (R-Ill.) said that he backs disclosing all countries in which the U.S. is using armed drones to kill suspected terrorists. At a Feb. 9 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on drones’ role in “targeted killing” over the last 20 years, Durbin (D-Ill.) said that when he voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) resolution in September 2001 against “nations, organizations, or persons” that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 attacks——an AUMF since extended to a number of countries outside of Afghanistan and Iraq, he “never envisioned that I would be considering the use of drones and innocent citizen casualties in Yemen.” Durbin said that “was not part of our calculation when we responded to 9/11, and so we have to take on the responsibility of accepting our constitutional mandate and implementing it in light of changed circumstances in a dramatic way.”

…Average Members of Congress. Asked by Durbin at the hearing how many countries the U.S. has armed drones in, Stephen Pomper, the chief of policy at the International Crisis Group, replied, “I honestly can’t tell you with any level of confidence how many countries. The executive branch did, I believe, last report on the groups that it is fighting in a report the Obama administration issued at the end of 2016. I believe that subsequent reports, including reports mandated by the NDAA, have included some key details in classified annexes that are not available to the public.” Durbin said that “it’s just amazing to me” that the countries in which the U.S. is employing armed drones are not disclosed to average members of Congress or to the general public.

Navy Counsel. The Senate confirmed John Coffey to be the General Counsel of the Department of the Navy on Feb. 9. He was approved by a 79-17 vote. Coffey previously served in the Navy for 30 years in active duty and the Navy Reserve, a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, and a lawyer. He recently chaired the litigation group Kramer Levin, where he has been a partner since 2013.

Thales Board. Retired Navy Vice Adm. William Landay was appointed the newest member of Thales Defense and Security’s (TDSI) Board of Directors, the company said Feb. 10. Landay will serve as a proxy holder as a member of the firm’s TDSI Government Security Committee, where the company said he will ensure TDSI operations under independent management and maintaining U.S. government security clearances. Landay served in the Navy for over 35 years including at Program Executive Office (PEO) for Ships, Chief of Naval Research, and director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

Overmatch Staffing. Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) announced Mike Roberts, senior executive service, was chosen to serve as the Direct Reporting Program Manager (DRPM) Overmatch Deputy Director as part of Project Overmatch. NAVWAR announced the staffing on Feb. 7 via its LinkedIn webpage. Roberts has 27 years of experience working with the Navy, government, industry, and Air Force including as a Program Executive Officer. 

NATO Carrier Group. A U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group (CSG) was recently placed under NATO command for the first time since the end of the Cold War, NATO announced on Feb. 7. USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) CSG and forces and personnel from 28 NATO allies conducted operations in the Adriatic Sea during the Neptune Strike 22 activity that lasted from Jan. 24 – Feb. 4. Participants included two aircraft carriers, 15 ships, and 90 aircraft.  The forces practiced joint maneuvers and launching aircraft on simulated strike missions.

LHD-6 Impact. Executive Director for Amphibious, Auxiliary and Sealift at PEO Ships, Tom Rivers, on Feb. 10 said the loss of the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) to a catastrophic fire in 2020 has not changed near-term amphibious vessel acquisition plans yet. He said he is “eagerly awaiting” the results of an incoming amphibious vessel study to see if his office will change acquisition plans but has seen no demand signal for more ships to replace it yet. “It hasn’t changed our near-term plans at all.” While it may have impacted the amphibious ship study, “I don’t really have too much insight into that study at this point in time.” Rivers said that for now, when reviewing where LHD-6 was in the timeline and at operational needs, “the operators had not given us a new signal to say ‘Hey, I need another amphib now to replace that specific ship, at least that’s a signal I haven’t got.”

DISA Retirement. DISA has announced that Army Maj. Gen. Garrett Yee, the agency’s assistant to the director, will retire on April 28 after a 35-year career. Yee served as DISA’s senior procurement executive and was described as “instrumental in championing persistent senior leader engagement” with the services, combatant commands and industry on DISA’s mission and offerings. “For me, it always has been and always will be about partnerships,” Yee said in a statement. “Whether it’s meeting with mission partners to make sure that we get them exactly what they need or working with industry partners to help deliver our warfighters best value capabilities.” Before his senior role with DISA, Yee served as the military deputy to the Army’s Chief Information Officer/G-6.

PPBE Reform. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has named Arun Seraphin, deputy director of NDIA’s Emerging Technologies Institute, as his pick to a new commission tasked with reviewing the Pentagon’s budgeting process. “His expertise will be vital to ensuring the Department of Defense processes are up to date and responsive enough to serve the needs of our nation’s military and provide good stewardship of taxpayers resources,” Schumer said in a statement. Seraphin, who was previously a senior staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is one of 14 members on the newly established commission to evaluate potential reforms to the Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Execution (PPBE) process. The leaders of the Congressional Armed Services Committee announced their picks last week, which included several former senior DoD officials, such as Ellen Lord and Eric Fanning.

Army Acquisition. The Senate on Feb. 9 voted 93 to 2 to confirm Doug Bush as the new assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) cast the two ‘No’ votes. Bush previously served as the Army’s top acquisition official in an acting capacity following Bruce Jette’s departure at the end of the Trump administration. Before working with the Army, Bush served as the House Armed Services Committee’s deputy staff director, where he was responsible for committee operations and advised Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the panel’s chairman, on policy matters.

Futures Command. Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of staff, said on Feb. 11 the service is working through the process of choosing a candidate to serve as the next leader of its modernization-focused Futures Command following Gen. Mike Murray’s retirement this past December. “We certainly have options and we’ve moving forward on that. There’s a very rigorous process that nominations go through and we’re hoping that comes to fruition pretty soon,” McConville said during a Heritage Foundation discussion. Murray, who served a 39-year career in the Army, was the first official to lead Futures Command after it was stood up in 2018 and has played an instrumental role in the service’s push to develop an array of new weapon systems. 

Big Intel Award. General Dynamics Information Technology business unit received a potential $829 million task order from the Defense Intelligence Agency to provide remote and on-site IT services to support the agency’s networks globally. GD says work under the 10-year Customer Care Center task order will include “modernizing workflows through automation and deploying DIA’s first customer experience (CX) team, which will use data insights, advanced analytics and CX methodologies to continuously evolve services and efficiently resolve IT issues.”