SIGNALScape

Cyber May Be Immune From Budget Cutting Affliction

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Amid all the concern about how the military will be cutting back severely across the board, cyber stands alone as one area that almost certainly will see spending increases. Robert O. Work, undersecretary of the Navy, told a packed keynote luncheon audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego that cyber is one area that continues to grow in importance.

Saying that cyber today is like atomic warfare was in the 1950s—“all over the place” with regard to doctrine—he stated that the Navy is increasing funding in cybersecurity and cyber forces. These forces will become all the more important as other forces are cut back.

“We’re making more progress on the operational tactical realm than on the strategic realm, but that [strategic progress] is coming,” Work offered.

Navy Leader Pledges to Meet Shipbuilding Goals

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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U.S. Navy shipbuilding will sail on in spite of potentially severe budget cuts, according to the undersecretary of the Navy. Robert O. Work, giving the luncheon keynote address to a packed audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013, declared that the Navy would achieve its goal of a 300-ship Navy “by hook or by crook” by 2019.

Calling the shipbuilding program “the best it has ever been since the heyday of the 600-ship Navy” during the Reagan Administration, Work noted that the 42 additional ships currently planned all are under contract, and most of these contracts are fixed-price.

Still, the Navy will have to realize savings and cuts elsewhere to address what undoubtedly will be a tight budget. “‘Flat’ is the new ‘up’ in this defense budget environment,” he said, quipping, “We have an average budget … lower than last year, higher than next year.”

And, sequestration might be catastrophic, he added. The Navy might have to furlough its civilian workers for 22 days, which would have serious effects on both Navy operations and the personal lives of those furloughed. That would be only one of many severe repercussions that would afflict the Navy.

“If we have sequestration, we will have a hollow force by the end of the year,” he warned.

Sequestration Budget Crisis Could Have Been Mitigated

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The catastrophic budget cuts facing the U.S. Defense Department will be worse than need be because leading administration officials did not seem to believe they actually would come to pass, according to some experts on a panel at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. As a result, more thoughtful solutions to the budget crisis must give way to rapid and severe reductions over a short period of time.

Kori Schake, a research fellow with the Hoover Institution, pulled no punches in her depiction of the run-up to the sequestration. Commenting on the panel theme, which referred to a ticking budget clock, she said, “If the clock is ticking, then the bomb is about to go off.”

Declaring that the Defense Department has been in denial for months about the sequestration taking place, she stated that administration officials made a set of choices that has aggravated it. Their choices in the recently published defense strategy are “unexecutable,” she said. The Defense Department should develop a budget across the coming decade that would buy time to realize savings and cost reductions over that period—not all at once, which is what the department is facing now.

Ronald O’Rourke, a specialist in naval affairs with the Congressional Research Service, pointed out that what makes the looming sequestration cuts so difficult is their abruptness. The defense budget faces an immediate 8-9 percent reduction five months into a fiscal year. Accordingly, the effect is greater because those cuts must be enacted over just seven months.

Industry Must Do Its Share in Defense Budget Crisis

January 29, 2013

Industry is a key player in the Defense Department’s effort to adjust to harsh budget cuts, according to the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., USN, told members of industry how vital their firms are and how they must meet some key criteria to continue to do business with the department.

Speaking to a packed house at the morning keynote address at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego, Adm. Winnefeld said that “industry is part of our total force.” Accordingly, it must help the department discover and apply innovative solutions to do more with less.

Adm. Winnefeld warned industry that it must work responsibly, however. He cited security as one area in which the private sector must meet obligations. “Industry must protect its systems against exfiltration,” he declared, adding, “We will stop working with people that don’t.”

Innovation May Be Key to Military Surviving Draconian Budget Cuts

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The key to doing more with less may lie with innovative thinking applied to existing assets, suggested the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., USN, speaking to a packed house for the morning keynote address at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego, said that both the military and industry must be innovative in their approach to readiness.

Adm. Winnefeld cited examples of how innovative applications could enhance existing assets. He mentioned how the littoral combat ship could be adapted for use in missions beyond those for which it originally was designed. The admiral also called for inexpensive, highly adaptive electronics pods for unmanned aerial vehicles.

He singled out industry as a potential source of vital innovation, and he called on the private sector to produce these solutions.

“Bring it on; I want to hear it,” the admiral said.

 

Budget Crisis “a Wolf” That Threatens National Security

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Sequestration is “a wolf in the fold” that will force potentially catastrophic cuts to the U.S. military, crippling its ability to defend U.S. and allied interests around the globe. This gloomy assessment comes not from a politician or industrialist, but from the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Beefing Up the Apache Helicopter

January 29, 2013
George I. Seffers
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The latest version of the Apache Block III attack helicopter, the AH-64E, was approved for full rate production in October 2012. Improvements to the aircraft include an Improved Drive System, increased engine capabilities, technologically advanced composite main rotor blades and sensor enhancements. For more information—and some pretty cool video of the AH-64E in action—see the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command YouTube Channel video.

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