Defense Debate. The Senate plans to continue debating the FY ’12 defense authorization bill today, with votes starting in the evening. The chamber took up the Pentagon policy-setting bill two weeks ago, when senators filed hundreds of proposed amendments. The White House says if military detainee-related language is not changed it will veto the bill. In addition to detained amendments, others related to counterfeit parts in the defense supply chain, cost-plus and sole-source contracts, contractors’ salaries, and the Marine Corps’ variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have been proposed. SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) wants to limit the number of amendments considered. Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) says Nov. 18 that senators “should plan on some late nights” working on the defense bill this week.

… Governors’ Take. The National Governors Association says its members “applaud the United States Senate for addressing long-standing concerns regarding disaster response across the country” through a proposed National Guard-related amendment to the defense bill. “By accepting the Council of Governors’ legislative proposal to authorize the call-up of the Reserve forces for disaster response and codify the role of a dual-status commander, the Senate has helped to ensure efficient and effective disaster response,” the association says in a statement. “Dual Status Command allows a National Guard officer or a commissioned federal military officer to simultaneously direct both state and federal military forces.”

Unmanned Budget. Pentagon budget cuts spurred by the Budget Control Act of 2011 could lead to the purchase of more advanced unmanned aerial vehicles, says Todd Harrison, the senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank. He notes, in slides for a Nov. 23 press briefing in Washington, unmanned systems “require fewer personnel to operate, fewer training resources, and fewer overall systems to achieve the same level of capability.” While “current technology limits their application to relatively permissive operating environments,” he says “advances in autonomy and resilient communications could expand their applicability.”

USS Enterprise turns 50. The Navy was to celebrate the USS Enterprise’s (CVN-65) 50 years of service over the weekend, a bittersweet moment as the venerable aircraft carrier is set for deactivation next year. The CVN-65’s CO, Capt. William C. Hamilton, invited all current and former crew to attend festivities at Naval Station Norfolk, including a “birthday party” Monday night. There were also public tours scheduled Sunday and Monday. The Enterprise, the first nuclear-powered carrier, entered service on Nov. 25, 1961, and went on to see action in every major military conflict involving the United States. The ship’s resume includes the Cuban Missile Crisis, six tours in the Vietnam War, and some of the first strikes against the Taliban following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Enterprise is to embark on its final deployment this spring before undergoing a long deactivation period and eventual decommissioning in 2015.

Critical Assets gets DARPA cyber-contract. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Critical Assets Labs, a division of Critical Asset , a cyber-defense contract to continue developing its Pin Pad Defender project. DARPA has identified cyberspace as a high priority to better protect against cyber-attacks that could harm national security. DARPA said earlier this month that it was looking to boost capabilities in the cyber domain. The agency said its fiscal 2012 budget request elevated cyber research to $208 million from $88 million. Director Regina Dugan said the country was not keeping pace with the threats posed by malicious activity. She said the nation also needed greater focus on developing offensive capabilities in the cyber domain. “In the coming years we will focus an increasing portion of our cyber research on the investigation of offensive capabilities to address military-specific needs,” Dugan says.

Raytheon anti-jam terminal hooks up with AEHF satellite. Raytheon’s Army Secure Mobile Anti-jam Reliable Tactical Terminal (SMART-T) became the first operationally fielded one to interact with a new orbiting Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite, the company said last week. The AEHF, which launched in August 2010, has been undergoing operational tests. AEHF is a joint service satellite communications system designed to provide survivable, global, secure, protected and jam-resistant communications for high priority military ground, sea and air assets, according to an Air Force fact sheet. Raytheon is pegged to deliver 364 AEHF SMART-T terminals to the Pentagon.

Continued Effort. GE Intelligent Platforms receives orders from Harris Corp. for its PPC7EP single board computers, valued at more than $3.5 million with a total value of approximately $7 million. This is the latest in a series of orders received from Harris for the MLRS program over 12-plus years. Harris subs to Lockheed Martin to design and build the electronics for the Army’s MLRS M-270 HIMARS platform vehicle. The PPC7EPs provide the key computing power for the principle HIMARS subsystems. “MLRS/HIMARS is an outstanding example of a long-term program that relies on the continuing availability of critical components, the extended support–such as obsolescence management–necessary to ensure success and the opportunity for ongoing technology insertion,” says Al DiLibero, president, Military & Aerospace Embedded Computing, GE Intelligent Platforms.

New Job. ManTech International Corp., names Michael Brogan senior vice president for strategy for the company’s Systems Engineering and Advanced Technology (SEAT) group. Brogan will ensure an integrated approach to ManTech SEAT’s systems engineering processes, and oversee the delivery of innovative technology solutions to support the missions of U.S. military services and civilian agencies. He will also identify new business opportunities and help align SEAT’s strategy with DoD acquisition-reform measures. Brogan retired from the Marines as a brigadier general, after leading Marine Corps Training Command, Marine Corps Systems Command, and serving as program executive officer for the Joint Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program.

Support Work. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) awards CSC a task order to provide systems engineering support for all MDA-funded ballistic missile defense systems. The task order, with a one-year base period and a one-year option, has an estimated total two-year value of $80 million and was awarded in the second quarter of CSC fiscal year 2012. The order comes under the MiDAESS Group 3 Engineering Support contract, which CSC won in 2010. James Sheaffer, president of CSC’s North American Public Sector, says: “CSC’s ability to help drive down costs through consolidation and standardization will provide the agency with savings and improvements to continue supporting its missions at greater efficiencies in the future.”

Coming Home.  After a year’s deployment supporting Operation New Dawn in Iraq, more than 250 soldiers with the 25th Infantry Div. Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion arrived home with ceremonies in Hawaii Nov. 21.  “They are the last U.S. Army division in Iraq,” said Col. Matthew Kelley, deputy commander-rear, 25th ID. “Their mission was to oversee all forces as they were withdrawing and removing equipment from Iraq. That mission is just about accomplished,” says Staff Sgt. Timoteo Mauga, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 25th ID. “I am happy that everything is turned back to the Iraqi people and we believe that they will make better decisions for their country. And, I’m just happy that I’m home.” The remaining 25th ID Soldiers in Iraq are scheduled to return by Christmas Eve.