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Congress Continues Push Back on Defense Spending Proposals

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) continues their mark up of the 2013 defense budget proposed by the Obama administration and continues their push back on proposed cuts to programs. As part of a plan to reduce defense spending by almost $500 billion over the next 5 year defense plan certain programs were ended or reduced. Congress as it often is does not like some of these reductions and is adding them back into the budget.

The HASC is just one of four different committees in both parts of Congress that can rewrite the budget. After the markups are complete the House and Senate vote their own versions of the bill and a Conference Committee irons out the final version that goes to the President. There is no guarantee that any changes made by any of the committees will stick but it is clear that there are a lot in Congress not willing to reduce spending the way that is being proposed.

Earlier we wrote of how they added back in a submarine the Navy had delayed until 2018. Now the committee is changing some proposals with other systems.

These include the retirement of several Northrop Grumman (NOC) Global Hawk strategic Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The Air Force had proposed mothballing the Block 30 version of the system and continuing to use the manned U-2/TR-1 aircraft instead. They also would not buy more of that block. The bill the HASC is writing would prevent the retirement before 2014.

The committee has also reduced or eliminated some of the troop cuts and increased co-pays and fee for TRICARE, the military medical plan. Another area they are exploring is increasing funding for some of the Army’s vehicle programs which was cut.

These reductions and the troop cuts are based on the fact that the U.S. is withdrawing from Afghanistan and the Obama administration is predicting less deployments and action in the near future.

This is just the first round of mark ups and the ending bill will be some sort of compromise where some cuts are kept and others aren’t. It does show though that there are many in Congress not ready for large reductions in defense spending and investment.

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House Begins Markup of 2014 Budget with Add of Submarine

The House and Senate are in the process of considering the President’s 2014 budget request. As often different committees will review it and make changes sometimes based on their own priorities which means adding things or removing items from the original request. The budget has to go through two committees in each the House and Senate. Then it is voted on and a Conference Committee held. This means that often the final budget is not necessarily similar to what was submitted in February.

Not only do different companies lobby Congress for inclusion of their products and projects but sometimes the Services will indirectly. There exist lists of “unfunded priorities” and needs that Congress may address even though they are not part of the budget request.

The House Armed Services Committee as part of its review has reportedly increased the Navy’s buy of U.S.S. Virginia class attack submarines by 1 more then requested. The Navy had originally planned to buy two a year but in order to meet budget cut goals and reduce spending only 1 was asked for in 2014. The HASC has bumped that back up to 2.

Congress also wants the Navy to consider signing a multi-year contract for 10 submarines. Multi-year contracts are normally for five years and done for systems, especially aircraft, in steady state production. This allows efficiencies and better pricing due to stable quantities and funding. Virginia submarines are currently built by two companies – Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) in Virgina and General Dynamics (GD) Electric Boat in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

One of the problems that the Pentagon will face as it tries to cut money required to meet budget goals is that Congress is loathe to reduce programs. There are 435 House members and 100 Senators who see defense spending as a way to bring money and jobs into their districts. The idea of keeping one more submarine in the current budget will do so. It will also require the Navy to cut less money or take it from other budget priorities.

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House Begins to Cut Defense Budget

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) approved by a 60 to 1 vote their version of the 2012 Defense Budget. This is basically similar to what was requested by the Obama Administration and reflects the first real reduction to U.S. defense spending since the attacks of 9/11.

As in previous budgets it was split into three parts: first, the base budget which funds the U.S. military and its investment, production, training and support activities; second, the cost of “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO) which used to be called the Global War on Terror (GWOT) which are the costs associated with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and finally it also includes money for the Department of Energy (DOE) support to the U.S. military which is primarily related to nuclear weapons.

The base budget was about $535 billion which was a slight increase on the $533.8 billion programmed in 2010 for such activities. Due to the fact that no 2011 budget was officially passed by Congress until late in the year the Department of Defense relied on continuing resolution which restricted spending to 2010 levels. When the final budget deal was struck funding the rest of the year total planned spending remained consistent with 2010 levels. The Obama Administration had requested $548 billion with almost $160 billion for OCO. This amount was not approved or provided.

The HASC bill approved amounts to a reduction as the OCO funding was reduced to only $119 billion from the $130 billion in 2010 and the $160 billion proposed in 2011. Total spending in 2012 based on the HASC will be $690 billion including the DOE funding of $18 billion. This is a net increase over 2010 but almost $20 billion less then the planned spending in 2011.

What does this all mean for defense contractors? If the House totals hold, and after the work with the Appropriations Committee and the Senate there may be many changes in what the money is spent on, it will be the first net reduction in U.S. defense spending in 10 years. This will mean that some contracts won’t get funded and some companies will see their revenue and earnings reduced.

The cuts to OCO mean those companies heavily involved in providing support and equipment for Iraq and Afghanistan will see the first cuts. The Army’s LOGCAP IV contract provides much of this support for deployed forces and companies like DynCorp International, Fluor and KBR have received large contracts as part of it. The reduction to OCO may affect LOGCAP and those companies involved in it.

It will also mean less bullets, beans and gas will be bought to support the troops in Iraq especially. Suppliers of basic items may see reductions in the amount of items purchased from them. This includes ATK who make ammunition as well as the various gasoline refiners and providers. As the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan winds down the DoD will be concentrating on making new weapon systems and repairing and refitting the equipment used by the military in those operations.

If and when all of the U.S. and Allied forces return from the fight there will be no need for OCO funding at all. This seems to indicate that the base U.S. defense budget will sink to about $500 – $600 billion a year. This will provide opportunities for those companies providing new, advanced weapons as well as supporting the U.S. military in its bases in the U.S., Asia and Europe. The next round of cuts though will be to this base budget. That will affect the entire U.S. defense industry and may lead to reductions in the number of contractors either through M&A or just moving to other business lines.

Defense spending has been a major prop to the U.S. economy as a whole as it supports businesses and jobs across all of the states. If the civil market has not recovered sufficiently cuts to this money will have a negative effect on many local economies across the U.S. already being experienced as some contracts are eliminated or reduced.
This HASC vote may be the first step into a period like the Nineties which saw wholesale changes to the U.S. defense industry and the countries’ industrial base as a whole.

Photo from David Paul Ohmer’s Flickr Photostream.

Article first published as House Begins to Cut Defense Budget on Technorati.

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House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of July 26 – July 30, 2010

July 25, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of July 26 – July 30, 2010
Ike Skelton, Chairman
July 23, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 – 10:00am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Full Committee will meet to receive testimony on Japan: Recent Security Developments.

Witnesses:

The Honorable Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State

The Honorable Wallace C. Gregson
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs
U.S. Department of Defense

The Honorable Jackalyne Pfannenstiel
Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations, and Environment)


Wednesday, July 28, 2010 – 10:00am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Joint Readiness and Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittees will meet to receive testimony on surface fleet readiness.

Witnesses:

Admiral John Harvey, USN
Commander
Fleet Forces Command

Vice Admiral Kevin McCoy, USN
Commander
Naval Sea Systems Command

Vice Admiral William Burke, USN
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations
Fleet Readiness and Logistics (N4)


Wednesday, July 28, 2010 – 1:30pm – 2212 Rayburn – Open

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will meet to receive testimony on Transformation in Progress: The Services’ Enlisted Professional Military Education Programs.

Witnesses:

Colonel James J. Minick, USMC
Director of Enlisted PME
Marine Corps University
U.S. Marine Corps

Mr. Dan Sparks
Director, Institute for NCO Professional Development
Training and Doctrine Command
U.S. Army

Mr. Scott Lutterloh
Director
Total Force Requirements Division
U.S. Navy

Mr. Dan Sitterly
Director of Force Development
Deputy Chief of Staff
Manpower and Personnel
U.S. Air Force


Wednesday, July 28, 2010 – 2:00pm – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee will meet to receive testimony on harnessing small business innovation for national security cyber needs.

Witnesses:

Mr. John Ricketson
Chief Executive Officer
Dejavu Technologies, Inc

Mr. Roger Thornton
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Fortify Software

TBA


Thursday, July 29, 2010 – 10:00am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Full Committee will meet to receive testimony on receive testimony on the Final Report of the Independent Panel's Assessment of the Quadrennial Defense Review.

Witnesses:

The Honorable William J. Perry
Co-Chairman
Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel
United States Institute for Peace

The Honorable Stephen J. Hadley
Co-Chairman
Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel
United States Institute for Peace


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House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of July 19 – July 23, 2010

July 15, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of July 19 – July 23, 2010
Ike Skelton, Chairman
July 15, 2010

The House Armed Services Committee announces the following schedule for the week of July 19 – July 23, 2010:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010 – 10:00am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Readiness Subcommittee will meet to receive testimony on Modeling and Simulation: Enhancing Military Readiness.

Witnesses:

Vice Admiral William Burke, USN
Deputy Chief of Naval Operations Fleet Readiness & Logistics (N4)

Major General Stephen R. Layfield, USA
Director, Joint Training and Joint Warfighting Center U.S. Joint Forces Command

Major General Marke F. Gibson, USAF
Director of Operations, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements Headquarters U.S. Air Force

Rear Admiral Fred L. Lewis, USN (ret)
President National Training and Simulation Association


Thursday, July 22, 2010 – 10:00am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Full Committee will meet to receive testimony on managing the Department of Defense in a time of tight budgets.

Witnesses:

The Honorable Elizabeth McGrath
Deputy Chief Management Officer U.S. Department of Defense

The Honorable Joseph Westphal
Under Secretary of the Army

The Honorable Robert O. Work
Under Secretary of the Navy

The Honorable Erin Conaton
Under Secretary of the Air Force

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House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of July 12 – July 16, 2010

July 8, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of July 12 – July 16, 2010
Ike Skelton, Chairman
July 8, 2010

The House Armed Services Committee announces the following schedule for the week of July 12 – July 16, 2010:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 – 1:30pm – 2212 Rayburn – Open

The Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee will meet to receive testimony on oversight of the activities of the Maritime Administration.

Witness:

The Honorable David Matsuda
Maritime Administrator
Maritime Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation


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House Armed Services Committee: Schedule July 6, 2010 – July 9, 2010

July 6, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Schedule July 6, 2010 – July 9, 2010
Ike Skelton, Chairman
July 2, 2010

The House Armed Services Committee has no hearings scheduled during the district work period, July 6, 2010 – July 9, 2010.


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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Calls for Vote to Support Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq

July 6, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Calls for Vote to Support Troops in Afghanistan and Iraq
Ike Skelton, Chairman
July 1, 2010

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the statement below calling for a House vote on the Senate version of the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010, which includes $37.12 billion for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq:

“We are fighting two wars, and our forces in Afghanistan and Iraq need this additional funding to continue our efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat the terrorists who threaten America.

“The quickest way to get a bill to the President that supports our troops in the field is for the House to vote on the Senate bill. Our troops need this support, and we must send a bill to the President without delay.”

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House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Army Investigation of Arlington National Cemetery

June 30, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Army Investigation of Arlington National Cemetery
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 30, 2010

Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton
Hearing on Army Investigation of Arlington National Cemetery

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing to review the Army investigation of Arlington National Cemetery:

“Good morning. The hearing will come to order. Today the Committee will receive testimony about the management of Arlington National Cemetery. Our witnesses include John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, and Lieutenant General R. Steven Whitcomb, Inspector General of the Army. Welcome to you both.

“I am angry, period. Anger is generally not a useful emotion, particularly here on Capitol Hill. However, in light of the recent revelations about the management of Arlington National Cemetery, I am just downright angry.

“Arlington Cemetery is our nation’s most hallowed ground. It is reserved as the final resting place of our heroic warriors. Management ineptitude and neglect have resulted in a web of errors. How in the world could this tragedy be allowed to happen?

“Behind the façade of what appeared to be well orchestrated burial services, investigations now reveal a dysfunctional management team operating without any oversight. We all know people who are buried there—people we respect and whose memory we hold dear. Every American, whether they have a loved one buried at Arlington or not, should be outraged.

“Secretary McHugh, I know that you have already done much to right this wrong, but I cannot understand how the Army has allowed the problem to fester for years. There is clear evidence that in 1992 the Army was aware of a level of leadership discord at Arlington that would not have been tolerated in any other organization. The situation cried out for intervention, but the Army’s response was to further withdraw from Arlington Cemetery operations.

“Let me make clear that the uniformed service members who so proudly conduct the military honors ceremonies with such grace and precision are not part of this problem. We are so proud of those young men and women who continue to provide those ceremonies during these troubled times at Arlington Cemetery.

“Sadly, notwithstanding the efforts of the Army, the way forward offers many difficult challenges. Given the limited nature of the investigation up until now, I am afraid that the 200 irregularities associated with gravesites may only be a fraction of the problem. We must be prepared that a 100 percent survey of the cemetery and all of its operations, which I believe must now be undertaken, will yield a larger number of problems that must be addressed.

“The American people and especially our military families expect that those who wear the uniform of this Nation and have made the ultimate sacrifice are afforded the upmost respect and dignity even after their death. They deserve no less.”

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The House Armed Services Committee: *****Time change for Wednesday’s Full Committee Hearing*****

June 29, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
The House Armed Services Committee: *****Time change for Wednesday’s Full Committee Hearing*****

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 – 10:30am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Full Committee will meet to receive testimony to review the Army investigation of Arlington National Cemetery.

Witnesses:

The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army

Lieutenant General R. Steven Whitcomb, USA
Army Inspector General
U.S. Army


House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of June 28 – July 2, 2010
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 24, 2010
The House Armed Services Committee announces the following schedule for the week of June 28 – July 2, 2010:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 – 10:00am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Readiness Subcommittee will meet to receive testimony on Wind Farms: Compatible with Military Readiness?

Witnesses:

Dr. Dorthy Robyn
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
Installations and Environment
U.S. Department of Defense

Major General Lawrence Stutzriem, USAF
Director, Plans, Policy and Strategy
North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command

Ms. Nancy B. Kalinowski
Vice President, System Operations Services
Air Traffic Organization
Federal Aviation Administration

Mr. Stu Webster
Co-Chairman of the Siting Committee
American Wind Energy Association


Tuesday, June 29, 2010 – 1:30pm – 2212 Rayburn – Open

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will meet to receive testimony on Beyond the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap: Bearing the Burden for Today’s Educational Shortcomings.

Witnesses:

Mrs. Nancy Weaver
Director, Defense Language Office
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness)

Brigadier General Walter Golden, USA
Director, J-1 Manpower and Personnel
Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Ms Sharon Pickup
Director, Office of Defense Capabilities and Management
U.S. Government Accountability Office


Wednesday, June 30, 2010 – 10:30am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Full Committee will meet to receive testimony to review the Army investigation of Arlington National Cemetery.

Witnesses:

The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army

Lieutenant General R. Steven Whitcomb, USA
Army Inspector General
U.S. Army


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Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, June 30, 2010
June 29, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Inspector General Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb testify at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on the Army investigation of Arlington National Cemetery at 10:30 a.m. EDT in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building.



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House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of June 28 – July 2, 2010

June 23, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of June 28 – July 2, 2010
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 24, 2010
The House Armed Services Committee announces the following schedule for the week of June 28 – July 2, 2010:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 – 10:00am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Readiness Subcommittee will meet to receive testimony on Wind Farms: Compatible with Military Readiness?

Witnesses:

Dr. Dorthy Robyn
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
Installations and Environment
U.S. Department of Defense

Major General Lawrence Stutzriem, USAF
Director, Plans, Policy and Strategy
North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command

Ms. Nancy B. Kalinowski
Vice President, System Operations Services
Air Traffic Organization
Federal Aviation Administration

Mr. Stu Webster
Co-Chairman of the Siting Committee
American Wind Energy Association


Tuesday, June 29, 2010 – 1:30pm – 2212 Rayburn – Open

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will meet to receive testimony on Beyond the Defense Language Transformation Roadmap: Bearing the Burden for Today’s Educational Shortcomings.

Witnesses:

Mrs. Nancy Weaver
Director, Defense Language Office
Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness)

Brigadier General Walter Golden, USA
Director, J-1 Manpower and Personnel
Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Ms Sharon Pickup
Director, Office of Defense Capabilities and Management
U.S. Government Accountability Office


Wednesday, June 30, 2010 – 10:00am – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Full Committee will meet to receive testimony to review the Army investigation of Arlington National Cemetery.

Witnesses:

The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army

Lieutenant General R. Steven Whitcomb, USA
Army Inspector General
U.S. Army


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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on President’s Decision to Change Commanders in Afghanistan

June 23, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on President’s Decision to Change Commanders in Afghanistan
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 23, 2010

Skelton Statement on President’s Decision to Change Commanders in Afghanistan

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the following statement on the President’s decision to accept General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation and appoint General David Petraeus as commander in Afghanistan:

“General Petraeus is the best that we have. I have great confidence in his ability to bring about a successful outcome in Afghanistan. The Commander-in-Chief must have confidence in his commanders in the field. It is time to move on and return our focus to waging the war in Afghanistan.”

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on General McChrystal Profile

June 22, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Statement on General McChrystal Profile
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 22, 2010

Skelton Statement on General McChrystal Profile

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the following statement regarding the recent profile on General Stanley McChrystal:

"I was disappointed by the Rolling Stone profile of General McChrystal, and I hope that we will be able to sort this out soon and move forward so we can get back to winning the war in Afghanistan. Nothing is more important than defeating the terrorists who want to harm us. That should be paramount."

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House Armed Services Committee: Langevin and Turner Call for Improved Accounting of Total Nuclear Weapons Complex Costs

June 21, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: GAO, Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Langevin and Turner Call for Improved Accounting of Total Nuclear Weapons Complex Costs
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 21, 2010

Langevin and Turner Call for Improved Accounting of Total Nuclear Weapons Complex Costs

Washington, D.C. – Responding to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today, Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Ranking Member Michael Turner (R-Ohio) called for a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of the total costs of developing and maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapons.

“We must have a clear picture of the total costs of maintaining an effective nuclear stockpile to be able to accurately assess current and future needs and capabilities. We need to know exactly where the money is going and how it is being used. I am pleased that National Nuclear Security Administration has agreed with the GAO’s recommendations and has already begun to implement these accounting changes to improve their financial tracking and budgeting systems,” said Chairman Langevin.

“Having GAO’s independent assessment is particularly timely given NNSA’s release last week of its Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan. NNSA plans to seek over $29 billion over the next four fiscal years and it is absolutely essential that NNSA be able to justify this increase and explain how it will benefit stockpile stewardship and management,” said Ranking Member Turner.

In November 2008, the Strategic Forces Subcommittee requested that GAO examine NNSA accounting practices and assess whether reductions in the nuclear stockpile would significantly affect nuclear weapons costs related to the Readiness in Technical Bases and Facilities (RTBF) operations and Stockpiles Services. GAO’s report, entitled “Actions Needed to Identify the Total Costs of Weapons Complex Infrastructure and Research and Production Capabilities” (GAO-10-582), recommends that NNSA develop guidance for consistent collection of total cost information and use this information for budget formulation and program planning.

The GAO report concludes that:

· NNSA cannot accurately identify the total costs to operate and maintain weapons facilities and infrastructure because of differences in sites’ cost accounting practices.

· NNSA does not fully identify or estimate the total costs of the products and capabilities supported through the Stockpile Services R&D and production activities.

· Reducing stockpile size is unlikely to significantly affect NNSA’s RTBF Operations of Facilities and Stockpile Services costs because a sizable portion of these costs is fixed to maintain base nuclear weapons capabilities.

· Without complete and reliable information about these costs, NNSA lacks information that could help justify planned budget increases or target cost savings opportunities.

· NNSA has efforts underway that, if fully implemented, will provide more accurate information on costs related to maintaining U.S. nuclear weapons.

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House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the period of June 21 – June 25, 2010

June 17, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the period of June 21 – June 25, 2010
June 17, 2010
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 17, 2010

The House Armed Services Committee has no hearings scheduled for the period of June 21 – June 25, 2010.


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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Announces June 30 Hearing on Arlington National

June 17, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Announces June 30 Hearing on Arlington National Cemetery
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 17, 2010

Skelton Announces June 30 Hearing on Arlington National Cemetery

Washington, D.C. – Today House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) announced that the full committee will hold a hearing on the Army Inspector General’s report on mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, June 30, 2010.

“Arlington National Cemetery is a sacred place, and it is important for us to make sure the Army is taking all of the necessary steps to keep such egregious actions from ever happening again. I want our witnesses to explain how they plan to correct the management problems at Arlington,” said Skelton.

Hearing on Arlington National Cemetery
10:00 a.m. – Wednesday, June 30, 2010
2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Invited witnesses:

The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army

Lieutenant General R. Steven Whitcomb
Army Inspector General

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House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Developments in Afghanistan

June 16, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: afghanistan, Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Developments in Afghanistan
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 16, 2010

Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton Hearing on Developments in Afghanistan

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing on developments in Afghanistan.

“Today, the House Armed Services Committee meets to receive testimony on ‘Developments in Afghanistan.’ Our witnesses today are two old friends: the Honorable Michèle Flournoy, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and General David Petraeus, Commander of United States Central Command. Welcome, both of you.

“Before I begin, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the many brave men and women serving under General Petraeus in Afghanistan, Iraq, and throughout Central Command for their service. I know I speak on all the members’ behalf, General, when I ask you to convey our heartfelt thanks to those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. We are truly blessed to have such heroes working on behalf of our nation.

“In recent weeks, reports from Afghanistan have been largely negative. We hear that operations in Marjah are not going as expected and the Taliban has begun a campaign of murder and intimidation there; the Kandahar operation has been postponed while the Taliban have been assassinating local government officials; U.S. and coalition casualties are increasing; and in some cases the United States has been contracting with the very warlords who intimidate the people of Afghanistan and undermine our efforts there.

“To some, these reports reflect what they have always suspected—that our efforts in Afghanistan are futile. I do not share this view. Last fall, I advocated for a counter-insurgency campaign as the course most likely to prevent al Qa’ida from reestablishing a safe haven in Afghanistan, and I still believe this to be true. While we face many challenges in Afghanistan, the type of challenges we face now were largely expected—as we surged troops, there would be hard fighting and many setbacks. I believe that this is the dark before the dawn.

“Let me be clear—we face serious challenges in Afghanistan. But after many years of neglect in Afghanistan, there are positive signs as well—General McChrystal has reported that security is no longer declining; local populations are increasingly pointing out improvised explosive devices; and while we desperately need more trainers from NATO, the recruiting of new personnel for the Afghan security forces is ahead of schedule.

“Increased cooperation with key nations in the region during the past year has also shown signs of success. Our Pakistani allies have arrested senior members of the Taliban leadership, while the Afghan government and our forces have had great success targeting the local shadow governors. Further, we must remember that not all of our forces are deployed yet, which must happen before we rush to judgment.

“I do not doubt that we can face down the insurgency on the field of battle. While our troops are tired from many deployments, those same combat tours have made them into the best counterinsurgency force in history. What concerns me is the capacity of the Afghan government to sustain the military success provided by U.S. and Afghan troops. Ultimately, it is this ability that will convince the Afghan people to stand against al Qa’ida and the Taliban.

“In recent weeks, we have seen mixed signals about this capacity. President Karzai forced out two of his most competent and highly regarded ministers. Media stories repeatedly bring home examples of corruption undermining our efforts. And yet, at the same time, the Afghan government has forced out and prosecuted a number of government officials for corruption, including the former Border Police Chief for Kandahar.

“Further, data suggest that the Afghan people are showing increased confidence in their local governments and increased confidence that their national government is headed in the right direction. While small and not irreversible, these significant signs give us some hope of progress.

“This December, the President has promised to review the progress of his strategy in Afghanistan. I hope our witnesses can help us understand what this review will entail and set some expectations for it. December is a reasonable time to review progress—all the surge troops will have arrived on the ground and been undertaking operations for several months. But I hope our witnesses can help the members here understand more about what we expect to see before December, particularly in Kandahar, which is so critical in the forthcoming months. What progress do they expect to see among the Afghan security forces and the Afghan government?

“We all know Afghanistan will not become peaceful and successful overnight, but what signs are reasonable to expect and would represent enough progress to suggest we should continue on our present course? I hope our witnesses can help us with these questions.

“Thank you both for appearing here once again. I now turn to my good friend, our ranking member, Buck McKeon, for any comments he might care to make.”

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House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of June 14 – June 18, 2010

June 10, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of June 14 – June 18, 2010
Ike Skelton, Chairman
June 10, 2010

The House Armed Services Committee announces the following schedule for the week of June 14 – June 18, 2010:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010 – 1:00pm – 2118 Rayburn – Open

The Full Committee will meet to receive testimony on developments in Afghanistan.

Witnesses:

The Honorable Michèle Flournoy
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
U.S. Department of Defense

General David H. Petraeus, USA
Commander, U.S. Central Command


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House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of June 7 – June 11, 2010

May 28, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: schedule for the week of June 7 – June 11, 2010
Ike Skelton, Chairman
May 28, 2010

The House Armed Services Committee announces the following schedule for the week of June 7 – June 11, 2010:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 – 1:00pm – 2212 Rayburn – Open

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will meet to receive testimony on Interagency National Security Reform: Pragmatic Steps Towards a More Integrated Future.

Witnesses:

Mr. James R. Locher III
President and Chief Executive Officer
Project on National Security Reform

Ms. Janet A. St. Laurent
Managing Director
Defense Capabilities and Management
Government Accountability Office

Mr. Gordon Adams
Distinguished Fellow
The Henry L. Stimson Center

Dr. James R. Thompson
Associate Professor of Public Administration
University of Illinois – Chicago


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House Armed Services Committee: House Approves FY11 Defense Authorization Bill

May 28, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: House Approves FY11 Defense Authorization Bill
Ike Skelton, Chairman
May 28, 2010

Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, by a vote of 229 to 186.

“This year’s defense authorization bill makes record investments in our nation’s military, authorizing a $726 billion budget to further strengthen our national security, provide our men and women in uniform with the tools they need to do their jobs, and take care of our service members and their families. The bill provides the resources we need to sustain two wars today and be prepared for the wars of tomorrow – whenever and wherever they may be.

“This defense bill makes counterterrorism a priority, improving the ability of our military to protect themselves at home and abroad and providing them with the additional tools they need to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies. The bill increases funding to restore military readiness that has been strained by two wars, and also demonstrates our commitment to service members and their families by providing a pay raise and other benefits recognizing the personal sacrifices they make to keep our country safe and secure.

“This is an excellent bill and I want to thank the members of the House and particularly the members of the House Armed Services Committee for their efforts to make this the best bill possible for America’s national defense. Next, we await the Senate’s action on the defense authorization bill and look forward to sending a first-rate defense bill to the President for his signature.”

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Praises Bill Providing Relief for Disabled Military Retirees

May 28, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Praises Bill Providing Relief for Disabled Military Retirees
Ike Skelton, Chairman
May 28, 2010

Skelton Praises Bill Providing Relief for Disabled Military Retirees

Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) praised legislation approved in the House of Representatives today that makes strides toward ending the disabled veterans tax known as concurrent receipt.

“Ending the disabled veterans tax has been a key priority for Congress, the President, and for military and veterans service organizations. I am pleased this legislation brings us closer to providing the benefits disabled military retirees deserve and have earned. While there is still more work to do, this legislation is the critical first step on the path to full concurrent receipt for this most deserving group of military retirees,” said Skelton.

H.R. 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, includes a provision to provide full concurrent receipt of military retired pay paid by the Department of Defense and disability compensation paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs to those forced to prematurely leave their military careers due to disability retirement under chapter 61 of title 10, United States Code. The legislation ends the disabled veterans tax and provides full retirement and disability benefits to 77,000 of these disabled service members for two years, in anticipation of extending it to all 136,000 medically retired veterans over four years.

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Pleased by Progress on U.S.-Japan Security Issues

May 28, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Japan, Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton Pleased by Progress on U.S.-Japan Security Issues
Ike Skelton, Chairman
May 28, 2010

Skelton Pleased by Progress on U.S.-Japan Security Issues

Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement on progress related to the realignment of U.S. Marines from Japan to Guam reflected by the Joint Statement of the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee:

“I am pleased that Japan and the United States have committed to a way forward for the realignment of U.S. Marines from Japan to Guam. I support the two sides’ reaffirmation of commitments regarding a Futenma replacement facility, and I am glad to see a common-sense approach to shared objectives involving environmental, training, land use and other issues. Today’s joint statement on these matters reaffirms the strength and vitality of the U.S.-Japan alliance at a time when North Korea’s aggression demands nothing less. I commend the President and the Government of Japan on their efforts to further strengthen the ties between our great nations.”

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton remarks on H.R. 5136, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011

May 27, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton remarks on H.R. 5136, The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011
Ike Skelton, Chairman
May 27, 2010

Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) delivered the following remarks during general debate on H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011:

“Madam Chair, I rise in support of H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. I am pleased to be joined here today with my friend, Buck McKeon. Buck has been a true partner in this effort to bring forward a bipartisan bill that addresses the national security needs of our country. The committee passed the defense authorization bill by a vote of 59 to 0.

“H.R. 5136 authorizes $567 billion in budget authority for the Department of Defense (DoD) and the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DoE). The bill also authorizes $159 billion to support ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan during fiscal year 2011. These amounts are essentially equal to the President’s budget request for items in the jurisdiction of the Armed Services Committee.

“H.R. 5136 continues Congress’s deep commitment to supporting U.S. service members and their families and to provide the necessary resources to keep Americans safe. The bill provides our military personnel a 1.9 percent pay raise, an increase of 0.5 percent above the President’s request. The bill also includes a number of initiatives to support military families, including extending health care coverage to adult dependent children up to age 26. We also have the single most comprehensive legislative proposal to address sexual assault in the military.

“The bill also fully funds the President’s budget request for military training, equipment maintenance, and facilities upkeep, which continues the committee’s efforts to address readiness shortfalls that have developed over previous years. The bill provides an increase of $12 billion above the fiscal year 2010 budget for operation and maintenance, including $345 million to fully fund the first increment of construction necessary to modernize DOD schools, $13.6 billion for training of all active-duty and reserve forces to increase readiness, and an increase of $500 million for day-to-day operations of Army bases, which has a direct impact on our soldiers. It also provides an increase of $700 million above the Administration’s budget to address the equipment shortfalls in National Guard and Reserve units

“The war in Afghanistan is a critical mission that is essential to our national security. To ensure that our strategies in both Iraq and Afghanistan are effective and achieve the intended goals within well-defined timelines, the bill requires the President to assess U.S. efforts and regularly report on progress, including providing timelines by which he plans to achieve his goals. It also extends the authorization of the Pakistan Counter-Insurgency Fund through fiscal year 2011 to allow commanders to help Pakistan quickly and more effectively go after terrorist safe havens. The bill also provides $1.6 billion for coalition support fund to reimburse nations that are providing logistical, military and other support to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“On Iraq, the bill upholds Congress’s responsibility to provide oversight to the process of drawing down the mountain of material purchased, transported, and built up in Iraq at tremendous expense to the taxpayer.

“In the area of nonproliferation, the bill continues our focus on keeping weapons of mass destruction and related materials out of the hands of terrorists, and strengthens our nonproliferation programs and activities. The bill increases funding for the Department of Energy’s nonproliferation programs, and adds funding to continue the Administration’s plan to secure and remove all known vulnerable nuclear materials that can be used for weapons.

“There are lots of other good things in this bill, which my colleagues will cover. I want to recognize the members of the House Armed Services Committee for their contributions in making this bill one of the best that the committee has put forward in recent years.

“Madam Speaker, our nation has been at war for nearly a decade. Our troops are worn and their families are tired and the nation recognizes their sacrifices. This bill addresses many of the concerns that they have raised. I urge my colleagues to support our troops and their families, and vote for the defense authorization bill.”

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House Armed Services Committee: Skelton on the FY11 Defense Authorization and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

May 25, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
House Armed Services Committee: Skelton on the FY11 Defense Authorization and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”
Ike Skelton, Chairman
May 25, 2010

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) released the statement below regarding efforts to attach a repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” to the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act:

“In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee this spring and in a recent letter, Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen asked Congress to defer any legislative action regarding ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ until after the Department of Defense completes its comprehensive review later this year. In a statement today, the Pentagon indicated that ideally, Secretary Gates continues to prefer that the Department complete this review before Congress considers legislation. This is a reasonable and responsible request that I respect.

“My position on this issue has been clear – I support the current policy and I will oppose any amendment to repeal ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’. I hope my colleagues will avoid jumping the gun and wait for DOD to complete its work.”

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