No pick yet. While Pres.-elect Joe Biden has picked a number of officials for his national security team–Tony Blinken for Secretary of State, Jake Sullivan for national security adviser, Alejandro Mayorkas for Secretary of Homeland Security, and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, no defense secretary selection has emerged yet. The founder of the Center for a New American Security, Michele Flournoy, has been the odds-on favorite to get the nod, but questions have arisen about her ties to the defense industry. Other potential candidates for a Biden defense secretary include retired Adm. William McRaven, Jeh Johnson—a former Homeland Security secretary during the Obama administration, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), a veteran of the second Iraq War.

DIU Partnership.

The Coast Guard is partnering with the Defense Department’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to tap into relevant commercial technology that can quickly be evaluated for the service’s needs. Under the partnership, the projects the Coast Guard is exploring include acquiring small drones that meet congressional mandates that the aircraft can’t be manufactured in China and an artificial intelligence-machine learning effort for rapidly detecting illegal and unreported fishing using publicly available imagery from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel satellites. “The DIU can provide the Coast Guard tremendous value with its access to commercial technology, rapid prototyping and ability to scale and partner with other services to lower costs,” said the Coast Guard’s DIU liaison Cmdr. Michael Nordhausen.

Standing Firm. The Department of Homeland Security said the appointment of Chad Wolf as acting head of the department in November 2019 shortly after former Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan resigned is valid and that he has the authority to take certain actions as a result. “The department continues to maintain that the November 8, 2019, succession order designating Chad Wolf as Acting Secretary is valid and that Acting Secretary Wolf had the authority to take the actions being ratified in the attached appendix,” Ian Brekke, deputy general counsel for DHS, said in a Nov. 25 rule posted to the Federal Register. The actions Brekke refers to include Wolf suspending an Obama-era immigration order allowing illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as minors to remain in the country based on certain criteria. A federal judge this month ruled that Wolf’s appointment was outside of lawful succession rules and so does not have the authority to take certain actions.

LHD-1. The Navy awarded BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair a $197 million contract to execute maintenance on the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD-1). The work specifically covers a fiscal year 2021 Chief of Naval Operations scheduled docking selected restricted availability for LHD-1. This availability includes a combination of maintenance, modernization, and repair of the Wasp. The contract includes options that, if exercised, would increase the total value to $238 million. Work will occur at BAE’s Norfolk facility, will start in February 2021 and is expected to be finished by May 2022. The Navy said this award was competitively procured but only the one offer was received. BAE noted this is the second time in four years it will be performing “significant work” on the Wasp.

IANC. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday participated in the 29th Inter-American Naval Conference (IANC) virtually on Nov. 24 along with his counterparts from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. This year IANC was hosted by Chilean Navy Adm. Julio Leiva Molina. The conference serves as a forum for partner countries to discuss maritime security challenges and try to promote “hemispheric solidarity.” “The conference is an opportunity for us to reflect on this challenging year and to recognize the innovation our navies have used to adapt together, learn together, and overcome this pandemic together,” Gilday said in a statement. This year’s two-day conference theme was “the role of navies in a pandemic.”

NOMARS. Gibbs & Cox announced its DLBA division will support DARPA’s No Manning Required, Ship (NOMARS) program. NOMARS aims to design, build and field test an unmanned surface ship that can operate autonomously for long durations with no human intervention or underway maintenance. In this role, DLBA will explore the trade space for clean-sheet vessel designs developed without a provision for crew on board.

New Army CIO. The Army has appointed its first civilian as Chief Information Officer, naming former Deloitte executive Raj Iyer to the post. Iyer succeeds Acting CIO Greg Garcia who stepped in after the retirement of Lt. Gen. Bruce Crawford earlier this year. Crawford was the last Army official to hold the joint role of CIO and top G-6 official. With the position now split, Iyer as CIO will focus on advising for major IT decisions while Lt. Gen. John Morrison, deputy chief of staff of the G-6, handles communications and networking focus areas. “This move was not one that I had planned, but the call for public service is my duty. It’s also an exciting opportunity to put technology front and center to Army modernization leveraging cloud, AI and data analytics to achieve digital overmatch against our adversaries. I am confident our paths will cross in the future,” Iyer wrote in a LinkedIn post.

Project Convergence. The Army will host an industry day on Dec. 1 to discuss its outlook and priorities for next year’s Project Convergence demonstration. Project Convergence is the Army’s new demonstration to test the capability for bringing together capabilities across its modernization enterprise to form a new “sensor-to-shooter” network that can deliver targeting data in seconds. The first iteration concluded in September. The upcoming industry day will include an overview of Project Convergence, a review of this year’s event, the schedule and focus areas for the 2021 demonstration and an opportunity to ask questions to Futures Command officials. The deadline for industry to register is Nov. 27. 

Rheinmetall Robot. Rheinmetall has introduced an armed reconnaissance variant of its Mission Master unmanned ground vehicle. “The Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance is designed to execute high-risk scouting missions and deliver a real-time common operating picture without putting soldiers in danger,” the German company wrote in a statement. The newest version of the ground robot includes the Rheinmetall Fieldranger remote-controlled weapon station (RCWS), a new module “designed to collect tactical intelligence in the area of operations while providing frontline fire support whenever necessary.” The platform’s payload also consists of long-range electro-optical/infrared sensors, a surveillance radar, 360-degree situational awareness cameras and a laser rangefinder and designator. It is also designed to be transportable on platforms from CH-53 to CH-47 helicopters and has a radio-agnostic architecture, according to Rheinmetall.

Foreign GPS Receivers. On Sept. 30, the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center received a Military-Code (M-Code) GPS receiver order from Germany—the first from a foreign nation, SMC said. Germany is to receive its first M-Code receiver next year, as SMC works through direction by the Air Force and DoD to ease international access and availability for the M-Code receivers to 58 authorized countries. “Currently, SMC is engaged with several nations in bi-lateral M-Code prototyping, demonstration, and lead platform planning efforts,” SMC said. “Under a multilateral agreement, MGUE [Military GPS User Equipment] ground-based receivers are on schedule to be loaned to approved partners for early integration and test in national weapons systems.” The M-Code GPS receiver is to provide enhanced secure positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) performance, anti-jam, and anti-spoofing, and to improve interoperability with U.S. allies and increase navigation warfare effectiveness.