AUSA ROUNDUP — DAY ONE: Army leaders kicked off the first day of the Association of the U.S. Army conference yesterday by railing against all the budget uncertainty and the toll it’s already taking on soldiers.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno got everyone’s attention when he said only two of the Army’s 42 combat brigades are ready to fight. Breaking Defense’s Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. explains what this means for the Army. http://bit.ly/17c8cnY
Meanwhile, Army Secretary John McHugh warned Congress and the defense industry: If sequestration isn’t done away with in the coming months, some of the Army’s big-ticket weapons systems are going to be canceled.
"Some we will have to cancel ... Name your favorite acquisition developmental program and it'll be probably be affected,” McHugh said.
In an interview with Morning Defense, Heidi Shyu, the head of Army acquisition, said this includes the Ground Combat Vehicle, which until recently was a top priority for the service. “There are a lot of things we’d like to have, but that we may not be able to afford in the current fiscal environment,” she said. “The GCV is at risk.”
GCV COULD BE IN TROUBLE, BUT COMPANIES CONFIDENT ABOUT JLTV FATE, via POLITICO’s Leigh Munsil: Many see the writing on the wall for the GCV, but companies competing in the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program remain confident that the Army and the Marine Corps are committed to buying a Humvee replacement.
Stay tuned … The Army is expected to give a detailed update on JLTV today.http://politico.pro/182UugL
ARMY SEES ITS FUTURE IN PACIFIC ROLE, via POLITICO’s Phil Ewing: At last year’s AUSA conference, we first heard about how seven of the world’s largest 10 armies belong to Pacific powers. It was just one example that U.S. Army leaders gave to explain why their service would play a crucial role in the administration’s strategic shift to Asia. This year, the Army is once again talking up its importance in the region, hoping it can convince skeptics in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill that its budget needs protection. http://politico.pro/1dbMoKD
ODIERNO WARNS AGAINST ‘IRRESPONSIBLE’ CUTS via USA Today’s Tom Vanden Brook:The Army is currently planning to reduce its size to 490,000 active-duty soldiers, but further cuts are expected. Odierno is taking a stand, but with sequestration looming, it remains to be seen if his warnings will be heeded.
“There are people who want to change the way the Army fights, and they believe that we don't need ground forces. We can do everything with technology, standoff weapons, missiles. I can tell you emphatically I absolutely disagree with that. I think that's a grave mistake if we head in that direction. I think it's irresponsible frankly.” http://usat.ly/1gzkiv2
‘PEOPLE WANT TO GET OUT’: In her interview with Morning D yesterday, Shyu said recent furloughs — from sequestration and the government shutdown — are pushing talented people to leave government. “People come into the government because they think it’s a stable job. This is just the opposite,” she said.
As the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, Shyu oversees the Army’s many research labs. And she says the service is already losing some of its top researchers to the private sector and to universities.
“Your mortgage doesn’t go down 20 percent because you were furloughed,” Shyu said. “A lot of our civilians can’t afford the financial instability. They can’t do that to their families. Why on earth would you work in a government lab that’s doing this?”
IT’S TUESDAY, and thank you for starting your week with Morning Defense. It was great to catch up with old pals at AUSA yesterday. Room 140, you never change. Send your latest defense news, tips, feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow on Twitter at @k8brannen, @morningdefense and @PoliticoPro for the latest.
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS SAY DRONE KILLINGS VIOLATE INTERNATIONAL LAW, via POLITICO’s Jonathan Topaz: In new reports released today, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch “claim the administration has illegally killed civilians in Pakistan and Yemen with airstrikes. The two groups call for congressional investigations into the use of airstrikes, and for appropriate prosecution for those responsible for civilian casualties.”http://politico.pro/1ddvEma
HAGEL IN BRUSSELS: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Brussels yesterday for a meeting of NATO defense ministers that starts today and continues through Wednesday. Today, Hagel will meet with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Over lunch, he’ll have the chance to huddle with Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander.
WHAT HAPPENS IN AFGHANISTAN AFTER 2014? The question is on the agenda in Brussels this week. Meanwhile, the answer to it remains up in the air until the U.S. and Afghanistan agree to a bilateral security agreement that would set the terms for a continued U.S. troop presence.
Reuters’ Hamid Shalizi and Jessica Donati report that Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman said key differences remain between the two countries, including whether U.S. troops will be immune from Afghan law. http://reut.rs/182Vt0h
— FLOURNOY: DON’T ABANDON AFGHANISTAN: Michèle Flournoy, former undersecretary of Defense for policy, writes for Foreign Policy that Congress should not be tempted to scale back its investments in the country.
“Abandoning Afghanistan now would squander the significant investments and sacrifices the United States and its partners have made there, including the sacrifices still borne by many U.S. service members and their families.” http://atfp.co/1i9Dtab
DEFENSE COMPANIES WORKED ON ‘PROBLEM-PLAGUED’ OBAMACARE SITES, via The Sunlight Foundation’s Bill Allison: Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Booz Allen Hamilton are just a few of the contractors hired to “to manage, support or service the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”
Northrop's contract was worth $1.7 million, while Vangent, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, received $28 million and Booz Allen $2.7 million. http://bit.ly/1c0IcKl
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FRELINGHUYSEN SEEN AS OBVIOUS SUCCESSOR TO YOUNG, via POLITICO’s Austin Wright: “Rodney Frelinghuysen, a wealthy 10-term congressman who served in the Army in Vietnam, is expected to succeed the late Rep. Bill Young as chairman of the powerful House subcommittee that oversees Pentagon spending.” http://politico.pro/1dcvJGF
WESTPHAL IN LINE FOR SAUDI AMBASSADORSHIP, via The Washington Post’s Al Kamen: Joseph Westphal, the undersecretary of the Army, is reportedly the frontrunner to be the next U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. If nominated and confirmed, he would replace retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jim Smith. http://wapo.st/1b7XZWg
HARRY REID PRESIDES OVER ONE-STAR PROMOTION: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid oversaw the Oct. 3 promotion ceremony for his aide, Robert Herbert, an active guardsman in the Nevada Army National Guard. Herbert, who was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in May, is Reid’s senior policy adviser on issues regarding defense, transportation, homeland security and veterans affairs issues and policy. The ceremony took place in the Capitol.
PROGRAM CHANGE — GEN. ALLEN TO SPEAK AT FPI FORUM TODAY: Retired Marine Gen. John Allen, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is expected to give the keynote address this morning at the Foreign Policy Initiative forum in Washington, which is free and open to the public. http://bit.ly/19pM9tJ
— CLARK JOINS CSBA: The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has named Bryan Clark a senior fellow on its strategic studies team. Clark, who spent 25 years in the military, most recently served as special assistant for the chief of naval operations.
— The U.S. has given 10 armored vehicles to the U.N. to help support efforts to verify and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. AP. http://politi.co/1ba5YC0
— Iran says it has given Russia a copy of a ScanEagle drone as proof that it can mass produce the U.S. aircraft it says it captured a year ago. The Guardian. http://bit.ly/17EP8c2
— Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert penned an op-ed about maintaining an undersea advantage. Defense One: http://bit.ly/1gzvEPz
— The VA claims backlog actually continued to decline during the government shutdown. Stars and Stripes: http://1.usa.gov/1cOPjpF
— A State Department official said an Al-Qaeda-linked rebel group is hurting the chances for an international compromise in Syria. The New York Times: http://nyti.ms/1caoob4
— The Navy will permit its Blue Angels flight demonstration team to have a full schedule this 2014 fiscal year. Navy Times: http://bit.ly/1cQ1tP3
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