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Entries in Department of Defense (19)

Thursday
Oct182012

Defense Department Pushed to Buy 'Made in America' Military Uniforms

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, wrote a letter to the Department of Defense requesting that it comply with a rule that requires military service members to wear clothes made in the U.S.

"If it's taxpayer dollars, it should help American workers and American businesses, pure and simple," Brown told ABC News.

In the letter dated Oct. 17 and addressed to Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, Brown asked why some Air Force service members deployed to Afghanistan were twice issued Chinese-made boots and were only able to receive a pair of American-made boots after the Air Force Times reported the story.

A spokesman for Kendall told ABC News: "Our policy has been and will continue to be to purchase combat boots and other articles of military clothing that are made in the U.S."

Since 1941, the Berry Amendment has required the Department of Defense to give preference to clothing and other items made in the U.S.

An Air Force spokeswoman told the newspaper that the Berry Amendment did not apply for purchases under $150,000.

In his letter, Sen. Brown questioned the law's language that allows for waivers and asked if the Defense Department violated its policies.

"Our service members should not be given equipment manufactured in other countries when domestic options exist," Brown wrote.  "Our men and women in uniform are fighting for their country, and deserve to fight in quality uniforms and boots that are made in the U.S.A."

Earlier this month, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, also drafted a letter to Kendall about the Berry Amendment.

"There's no justifiable explanation for issuing foreign-made uniforms when there are American manufacturers who can make high quality items for everyday military use," Hunter told ABC News.  "Our military not only defends American interests but it represents American interests and it's definitely in the national interest to have a military that directly supports domestic manufacturers."

About 40 bipartisan lawmakers are in the process of signing the letter and plan to send it to Kendall soon.

"We should not rely on other countries, particularly those who may have competing global interests, to supply our forces with basic items," Hunter and Michaud wrote.  "This is especially true when there are millions of Americans looking for work."

Brown said it is not clear if the Defense Department would be paying more or less for products in the U.S., but public support is in favor of using U.S. products, especially for groups representing the country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun182012

Is a Military Drone Base Coming to Your Hometown?

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Death-dealing drones buzzing above may be a constant worry for militants in far-flung lands, but now more of America’s aerial assassins and their spying compatriots could be coming to your backyard -- just for testing and training, according to the Department of Defense.

The military has identified 110 potential bases for drone operations at military installations in 39 states, from Georgia to California, according to a new Defense Department report dated April 2012 and published online late last week by the Federation of American Scientists. The U.S. bases could support all kinds of drones, from the deadly, missile-capable Predators to the next-generation surveillance Global Hawks.

Drone testing and operator training are already done in the U.S., but the report noted that the “strong demand” from the military’s various branches for expanded access to domestic airspace, which is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, has “quickly exceeded the current airspace available for these activities.” The report says that under current policy, the military has to obtain temporary permission to operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) outside its own restricted airspace.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee said in a defense budget bill that the government needs to speed up the process in which drones are integrated into the national airspace.

“Without the ability to operate freely and routinely in the NAS [National Airspace System], UAS development and training -- and ultimately operational capabilities -- will be severely impacted,” the committee said in its report.

The Defense Department report’s public unveiling follows the publication of a list of dozens of “current” drone bases early last week by the anti-secrecy website public intelligence.

The U.S. military currently has 6,316 drones of various types, according to the report, and plans to add another 2,076 by 2017.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

Secret Service Scandal: ‘Significant Gaps’ in Pentagon’s Handling?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After receiving a briefing Tuesday from Department of Defense officials on their investigation into alleged misconduct by Secret Service and military personnel in Colombia, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., says there were “significant gaps” in the Pentagon chain of command in handling the incident. Levin chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“The investigation has found gaps, some significant gaps, that existed in a number of ways,” Sen. Carl Levin said, ticking through the gaps as follows:

1. There was a failure to notify the chain of command of the assignment of certain personnel in their chain of command to Colombia.

2. There was a failure to notify the chain of command promptly of the events that took place in Colombia, including the decision to keep suspected people there. The Secret Service people were immediately sent back to the U.S., but the Department of Defense personnel who were suspected of misconduct were not.

3. The decision to keep those suspected personnel on the mission was made without the input of the higher-ups on the chain of command.

Levin said that the defense officials assured the senators Tuesday that the gaps would be “corrected.”

Levin was briefed along with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the ranking Republican on the committee, for over an hour by DOD officials on the status of their investigation into the incident.

The senators said the investigation is “basically complete.” They said that the Pentagon’s Southern Command, which oversees operations in South America, should be releasing a statement soon with its report and recommendations as to whether or not there should be charges of misconduct against the 12 members of the military involved in the scandal.

The senators said the investigation also shows that “to date there is no evidence of additional risk to the security of the president or the presidential party or to the summit,” Levin said.

McCain added that there were “no classified information or weapons” in the hotel in Cartagena, Colombia where the case began.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan172012

NYPD and Defense Department Testing Gun Scan Technology

NYPD/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Law enforcement in New York may soon be able to detect guns without a physical search.

"We want to use new technology to protect the public and police officers from illegal guns.  In partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, we’re working to develop a tool capable of detecting concealed firearms," NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Tuesday.

The NYPD is testing a new device that uses a kind of natural radiation emitted from the body to determine whether a suspect is carrying a concealed handgun.  Such energy cannot pass through metal so the sensor could give officers an outline of where the gun has been tucked.  

So far the technology only works at close range, but police in New York and the Department of Defense are hoping to make it work from 80 feet away so they could scan an entire scene for weapons -- a new tool to fight what the police commissioner says are still too many shootings.

"The development work is moving forward and we hope to utilize the sensor as soon as it meets our requirements," Kelly said, adding, "Of course, we aren’t relying on technology alone to achieve our vision of the future.  We’re also conducting a top to bottom review of the department to identify where we can improve in the next decade."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jan062012

New Pentagon Strategy Calls for Leaner, But Still Dominant, Military

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon’s new military strategy unveiled Thursday will result in a “smaller and leaner” military force, but one that President Obama insists will maintain America’s military superiority around the world.

Though no Defense budget spending information was presented on Thursday, the new strategy provides hints at potential personnel cuts that will be announced in a few weeks.

Entitled “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” the new strategy lays out a vision for what the American military will look like by 2020.

The president made a rare appearance in the Pentagon briefing room to provide the first details of the military strategy review begun in early 2011 that was designed to guide the anticipated $450 billion in defense spending cuts slated to take place over the next decade.

“Our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority,”  Obama said.   

With the end of the U.S. involvement in Iraq and with significant troop reductions slated for Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the new strategy serves as a roadmap for where the military should prioritize its resources in the lean budget years to come.

“We will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region,” the eight page document states, reaffirming a point that Obama and other senior administration officials have emphasized recently.

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL EIGHT PAGE DOCUMENT]

The shift away from Iraq and Afghanistan also means there will be less of a need to maintain the increased number of Army soldiers and Marines required to conduct a counterinsurgency fight.  U.S. forces “will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations” says the strategy.  That statement translates into smaller Army and Marine forces.

The Army and Marines were already planning to reduce their numbers beginning in 2015, but the strategy unveiled did not provide specific information whether they would be reduced beyond current planning.

However, a U.S. official confirms to ABC News that the Army will likely drop to 490,000 soldiers from its current end-strength of 570,000 -- a deeper cut than a planned cut of 520,000.  That force strength will still be 10,000 more soldiers than were in the Army the year before 9/11.

The Marines are currently at 202,000 and had already planned to reduce their number to 186,800, a figure that will still be more than 10,000 higher than the number of Marines who were serving prior to 9/11.

The Navy will retain its fleet of 11 aircraft carriers and won’t be reduced to 10 as some national security analysts had speculated.  Maintaining that number of carriers should make it easier for the Navy to continue to project U.S. power in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East where for the past few years the Navy has maintained a two carrier presence for much of the year.

Another main highlight of the strategy released on Thursday is that it does away with the Cold-War era requirement that the military be able to fight two wars simultaneously.

Seeking to ease any concerns that dropping the requirement could leave the U.S. vulnerable if it has to face multiple threats, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, ”We can confront more than one enemy at a time.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan052012

Obama Slashing US Troop Numbers as Part of Defense Strategy 

Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will join Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey at the Pentagon on Thursday to announce the new defense strategy going forward.

Although troop numbers won't be announced Thursday, the UK Daily Mail is reporting Obama's cuts reduce the strength of the military by tens of thousands of troops.

Now that the war in Afghanistan is drawing down and U.S. troops have been pulled out of Iraq, the Pentagon needs to reassess where its money will go, especially since billions of dollars will be cut from the Department of Defense's budget.  That's where a new strategy comes in.

Obama will be the one to announce the changes.  He's going to the Pentagon "because he's personally led the development of the new defense strategy, working in close consultation with Secretary Panetta, Chairman Dempsey, and other senior civilian and military Department of Defense officials," says a senior U.S. official.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan042012

Panetta Ready to Announce Pentagon's Future Roles and Missions

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Facing huge cuts in his operating budget, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will outline this week how the Pentagon will function in a new age of austerity.

As much as $450 billion will be cut from the Defense Department's budget over the next decade with more than 50 percent of the reductions coming before 2018.

At the still unannounced press conference, Panetta will talk about the roles of the military over the next 10 years, its missions and how it will adapt to global changes.

Among other things, the Pentagon will earmark $500 million for the U.S. Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq and put off construction of the CVN-79 John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier by two years.

With tensions growing in the Pacific Rim due to the rise of China and the uncertainty of North Korea's new regime, the U.S. also plans to bolster its presence in the region -- a plan first mentioned by President Obama during his trip there last November.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov182011

Army Successfully Tests Top Secret Hypersonic Weapon

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Should President Obama want to strike any target in the world from the U.S. in just a couple of hours, that capability could soon be at his fingertips thanks to a top secret weapon successfully tested on Thursday, the Army said.

The Army's own version of a hypersonic, long-range weapon system blasted off from the Pentagon's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai, Hawaii, early Thursday morning and -- in less than half an hour -- reached its destination approximately 2,500 miles away at Kwajalein Atoll.  The Army would not say exactly how fast the weapon can go, but does describe it as a hypersonic weapon, meaning it reaches speeds of at least five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.

It was the first ever test for the Army's Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW), part of a Conventional Prompt Global Strike capability in development by the military.  The AHW is described by the Department of Defense as a "first-of-its-kind glide vehicle" that uses a three-stage booster system to launch the glider slicing through the air.

"The objective of the test [today was] to collect data on hypersonic boost-glide technologies and test range performance for long-range atmospheric flight," the Department of Defense said in a statement.  "Mission emphasis is aerodynamics; navigation, guidance, and control; and thermal protection technologies."

A Defense spokesperson would not say how similar the Army's AHW program is to the hypersonic jet tested -- and momentarily lost -- by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in August.  That jet was designed to travel at a blistering Mach 20, fast enough to travel from Los Angeles and New York in just 12 minutes.

According to an environmental report from June describing the test flight for the Army's AHW, the weapon is meant to "provide the President , Secretary of Defense, and Combatant Command with the ability to quickly destroy, delay, or disrupt key enemy targets within a few hours."

The Defense spokesperson said that due to the project's sensitivity, no images of the weapon will be made public, but the environmental report, first referenced by the DefenseTech blog, shows what appears to be a computer-generated rendering of the craft.  Based on that image, the design appears much different from DARPA's version -- more in the shape of a cone with stabilizing fins, rather than the arrow-head style of the DARPA project.

The Department of Defense said that the results from DARPA's failed test in August, along with a previous test in April 2010, were used in the planning for Thursday's flight.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov152011

Panetta Says Budget Cuts Would Be 'Devastating' for US Military

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is warning Congress that additional Pentagon budget cuts that would be triggered if the Super Committee fails to reach a deal by next week could lead to significant military cutbacks, including the possible termination of the Joint Strike Fighter program and the end of America’s land-based nuclear missile fleet.

The Pentagon is already working its way through more than $450 billion in cuts over the next 10 years, but Panetta is concerned about a further round of $600 billion in cuts that would be automatically triggered if the Super Committee fails to trim $1.2 trillion from the federal debt.

Panetta argues there would also be significant long-term costs that would leave the United States with the smallest ground force since 1940, a Navy of 230 ships that would be the smallest since 1915 and would leave the Air Force with the smallest number of tactical fighters in its history.

In a letter to Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Panetta for the first time provided specifics about what the cuts might mean for the Pentagon.  The Senators had asked the defense secretary to provide them with specific information beyond his general warnings about the harmful potential impact of the second round of cuts.

“The impacts of these cuts would be devastating for the Department,” Panetta wrote.  

Panetta said a further round of cuts would lead to a combined 23 percent or $100 billion in Defense spending cuts in fiscal year 2013.

“A cut of this magnitude would be devastating in itself, but it gets worse” because by law that cut “would have to be applied equally to each major investment and construction program,” Panetta said.

Such a cut would “render most of our ship and construction projects unexecutable -- you cannot buy three quarters of a ship or a building and seriously damage other modernization efforts,” he said.  The DOD civilian workforce would also be affected, as they might have to face month-long furloughs to save on personnel costs.

Included in Panetta’s response was a document entitled “Effects of Sequestration on the Department of Defense” that includes a list of big ticket weapons programs and systems that might be directly affected by another round of Defense spending cuts.

This includes not only a dramatic cut in the size of the standing military and a slashing of the Navy, but also the possible termination of the Joint Strike Fighter program, where the Pentagon plans to purchase 2,443 of the aircraft as the next-generation fighters for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. The program has already suffered from rising costs and production delays.

Another cut is simply listed as “eliminate ICBM leg of Triad” that would have a significant impact on America’s long held nuclear strategy of a “nuclear triad” or a nuclear arsenal of strategic bombers, Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and submarine launched ICBMs.

Eliminating the land-based ICBMs would still likely leave enough air-launched and sub-launched nuclear weapons to serve as a nuclear deterrent.  However, eliminating the ICBM fleet would represent a cut that Panetta has opposed in the past.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct122011

Leon Panetta: ‘We Must Avoid at All Costs a Hollow Military’

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday that navigating the Defense Department through $450 billion of cuts is the “defining challenge” he faces.

“The changing international security landscape and the new fiscal constraints, are framing my defining challenge as Secretary of Defense,” Panetta said at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  “How do we build the military of the 21st century, the military that we need, in order to confront a wide range of threats, and at the same time, how do we responsibly reduce deficits in order to protect our economy?”

He called on Congress to work together to agree on budget cuts and avoid “sequestration” -- where if Congress does not agree on what cuts should be made, the Department of Defense would have to make double the $450 billion in cuts it has already been asked to make.

“This must be a partnership, Republican and Democrat alike,” Panetta said . “They must be a responsible partner in supporting a strong defense strategy, that may not always include their favorite base or their favorite weapon system.  Congress in particular must prevent disastrous cuts from taking effect, particularly with the mechanism that was built into the Budget Control Act known as sequester.”

Panetta echoed Army leaders’ comments during the ongoing Association of the United States Army convention in Washington, D.C., saying sequestration would be “catastrophic” and “wrong.”

“This mechanism would force defense cuts that would do catastrophic damage to our military and its ability to protect the country.  It would double the number of cuts that we confront and it would damage our interests not only here, but around the world,” he said.

Panetta said he was working closely with the chiefs of the services and the president to achieve a “roadmap for the military we need for the future as the wars begin to wind down.”

“There are, without question, things that we know we are going to have to see as we go through this process.  We know that the military of the 21st century will be smaller.  But even if smaller, it must be supremely capable and effective as a force to deal with a range of security challenges, a military that, as President Obama has said, and I quote, ‘will remain the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known,’ unquote,” Panetta said.

Panetta said the department was looking at four different areas to save money: eliminating overhead infrastructure, waste and duplication; force structure and the size of the ground forces after Iraq and Afghanistan; modernization and procurement reforms; and personnel costs.

The secretary of defense repeatedly warned against significant force reductions.

“Given the nature of today’s security landscape, we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of past reductions in force that followed World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the fall of the Iron Curtain, which to varying degrees, as a result of across-the-board cuts, weakened our military,” he said.

“We must avoid at all costs a hollow military, one that lacks sufficient training and equipment to adapt to surprises and uncertainty, a defining feature of the security environment we confront,” Panetta continued.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio