BY ALEX GANGITANO - 12/23/22 11:40 AM ET
President Biden on Friday signed the $858 billion annual defense authorization bill after Congress passed the legislation just before the year-end deadline.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed the Senate last week with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, 83-11. The bill has been named the “James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023” after retiring Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“The Act provides vital benefits and enhances access to justice for military personnel and their families, and includes critical authorities to support our country’s national defense, foreign affairs, and homeland security,” Biden said in a statement on Friday.
The measure provides $45 billion more for defense than called for in Biden’s budget, including allocating $817 billion to the Department of Defense and $30 billion to the Department of Energy. It includes language demanded by conservative Republicans to end the military’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which has been in place since August 2021.
Biden noted in his statement that there are certain parts of the legislation he is concerned with.
“While I am pleased to support these critical objectives, I note that certain provisions of the Act raise concerns,” the president said.
He specially mentioned that the measures includes a provision that continues to bar the use of funds appropriated to the Defense Department to transfer Guantánamo Bay detainees to the custody or effective control of certain foreign countries. It also has a provision to continue to prohibit the use of such funds to transfer certain Guantánamo Bay detainees into the United States.
Rep. Tom Cole, Guest Columnist
Editor's Note: This column is submitted by a candidate running for election. Its publication does not constitute The Oklahoman's endorsement of the candidate or his views. The Oklahoman does not endorse candidates for public office.
Congress has no greater responsibility than to provide our military with the training and resources it needs to confront mounting security challenges and threats. Indeed, the U.S. military and its defense industrial base are the backbone of international stability and order. And in this era of unprecedented turmoil around the world, both must be strengthened.
For decades, thousands of Oklahomans have played critical roles in supporting our national defense and security needs. Notably, in the district I represent, this includes both military service members and civil servants supporting the world-class training, sustainment and operational missions at Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill.
Academia in Oklahoma is increasingly proving an important partner. Our state is uniquely situated to continue growing into one of the leading defense and national security research states by focusing on four critical areas: radar innovations, sustainment and modernization, advanced technologies and international security policy. Great strides have been made thanks to the strategic investment of the Fourth District’s own University of Oklahoma in aerospace, defense and global security research.
By Andrew Eversden
The new laser will take part in the Army's demonstration of its Indirect Fires Protection Capability-High Energy Laser later this year.
Oklahoma City, Okla. — Lockheed Martin announced today that it has delivered a 300-kilowatt laser to the Defense Department and will integrate it into an Army high-energy laser demonstration later this year.
The defense giant developed the laser under the Pentagon’s High Energy Laser Scaling Initiative (HELSI), an effort by the department to strengthen the directed energy industrial base and improve the quality of laser beams.
The Pentagon selected Lockheed in 2019 to “scale its spectral beam combined high energy laser architecture to the 300 kW-class level,” as part of the HELSI effort, according to the release. The release also notes that company completed the task ahead of schedule.
“Lockheed Martin increased the power and efficiency and reduced the weight and volume of continuous-wave high energy lasers which reduces risk for future fielding efforts of high power laser weapon systems,” said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions.
Congressional Research Service
by Kelly M. Sayler, Analyst in Advanced Technology and Global Security
The United States has actively pursued the development of hypersonic weapons—maneuvering weapons that fly at speeds of at least Mach 5—as a part of its conventional prompt global strike program since the early 2000s. In recent years, the United States has focused such efforts on developing hypersonic glide vehicles, which are launched from a rocket before gliding to a target, and hypersonic cruise missiles, which are powered by high-speed, air-breathing engines during flight. As former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command General John Hyten has stated, these weapons could enable “responsive, long-range, strike options against distant, defended, and/or time-critical threats [such as road-mobile missiles] when other forces are unavailable, denied access, or not preferred.” Critics, on the other hand, contend that hypersonic weapons lack defined mission requirements, contribute little to U.S. military capability, and are unnecessary for deterrence.
Funding for hypersonic weapons has been relatively restrained in the past; however, both the Pentagon and Congress have shown a growing interest in pursuing the development and near-term deployment of hypersonic systems. This is due, in part, to the advances in these technologies in Russia and China, both of which have a number of hypersonic weapons programs and have likely fielded operational hypersonic glide vehicles—potentially armed with nuclear warheads. Most U.S. hypersonic weapons, in contrast to those in Russia and China, are not being designed for use with a nuclear warhead. As a result, U.S. hypersonic weapons will likely require greater accuracy and will be more technically challenging to develop than
nuclear-armed Chinese and Russian systems.
The Pentagon’s FY2023 budget request for hypersonic research is $4.7 billion—up from $3.8 billion in the FY2022 request. The Missile Defense Agency additionally requested $225.5 million for hypersonic defense. At present, the Department of Defense (DOD) has not established any programs of record for hypersonic weapons, suggesting that it may not have approved either mission requirements for the systems or long-term funding plans. Indeed, as Principal Director for Hypersonics (Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering) Mike White has stated, DOD has not yet made a decision to acquire hypersonic weapons and is instead developing prototypes to assist in the evaluation of potential weapon system concepts and mission sets.
By Stephen Losey
FARNBOROUGH, England — Recent successful flights of two autonomous XQ-58A Valkyrie drones show the Air Force’s Skyborg program has proven itself and could be ready to start evolving its capabilities into new systems, a Kratos Defense and Security Solutions executive said.
“This is getting to the end of the Skyborg program, is where we are,” Jeffrey Herro, senior vice president for business development in Kratos’ unmanned systems division, said in an July 18 interview with Defense News at the Farnborough Air Show in England. “And then it will morph into other programs.”
Kratos’ Valkyrie drones have carried out flight tests before as part of the Air Force’s Skyborg program, an artificial intelligence-driven wingman that had its first flight test in a drone in April 2021.
Herro said the most recent flights differed from previous tests, though he would not specify exactly how.
“We definitely were looking at envelope expansion,” Herro said when asked if these flights entailed testing more advanced capabilities.
Herro also would not say where the tests took place or exactly when, aside from saying they took place within the last two months, and that they were successful. Kratos declined to say exactly how many flights occurred, aside from saying two Valkyries were involved, and there was a series of tests.
Skyborg will likely be wound down and the capabilities it has proven will feed into new systems for the Air Force in the near future, Herro said — possibly within a year.
“The future is here,” he said. “The Skyborg program has progressed to a place where the things that they’ve learned from it will almost assuredly be applied in a future and morphed program. What they have learned will definitely inform the follow-on programs to Skyborg.”
The Air Force in recent months has intensified its focus on teaming autonomous unmanned aircraft up with piloted fighters, with Secretary Frank Kendall calling it one of his top priorities. Kendall said he envisioned teams of about five autonomous drones — what the Air Force now refers to as collaborative combat aircraft — flying alongside F-35s or the Next Generation Air Dominance platform.
Lockheed Martin said this month it’s eyeing a mix of expendable drone wingmen and more advanced autonomous systems for the U.S. Air Force to team up with its manned fighters. The service could fly the expendable drones in as soon as three years, the vice president and general manager of the company’s advanced development programs division, known as Skunk Works, said July 11.
By Connor O’Brien, Lee Hudson
Both the House and Senate Armed Services committees have finalized their authorization bills for fiscal 2023. While it wasn’t easy, now comes the even harder part: Coming up with a compromise.
But before that happens, both bills need to be approved in their respective chambers.
Once each chamber passes a version of the bill, the committees will enter conference and craft compromise defense policy legislation.
Here are the biggest hot-button issues that will be up for debate.
The $8 billion question: Both panels agreed to scrap President Joe Biden’s $802 billion national defense proposal and voted to increase the price tags of their bills substantially, though by different amounts.
House Armed Services on Wednesday adopted in a 42-17 vote a $37 billion increase to the topline, boosting the total to approximately $839 billion. The panel did so without the backing of Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who opposed the increase along with most committee Democrats.
The topline boost, offered by Democrats Jared Golden of Maine and Elaine Luria of Virginia, included billions to boost shipbuilding and aircraft procurement as well as blunt some of the impacts of inflation, such as on troops’ cost of living, fuel and military construction.
Senators, meanwhile, approved an even bigger increase by an even wider margin. Senate Armed Services adopted a $45 billion boost to Biden’s budget, with just one Democrat on the panel opposed.
Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense “A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 Funding Request and Budget Justifications for the Department of Defense”
On Tuesday May 3, the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense met to review the President’s FY23 funding request and budget justifications for the Department of Defense (DoD). Members largely discussed the support for Ukraine, threats in the Indo-Pacific, and troop wellness.
Members in Attendance
Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. Moran expressed concern that the U.S. cannot rely on nuclear deterrence for hypersonic attacks, asking how they will ensure troop safety from hypersonic attacks and what shifts are expected in missile and interceptor investments. Secretary Austin replied that this budget is investing $7.2 billion in long range fires, $4.7 billion of which is focused on hypersonics. He said hypersonic capabilities are important in combination with other capabilities. Sen. Moran asked about the hypersonics workforce. Secretary Austin replied that they have engaged the industry, asking them to increase production but that they have not yet pushed or invested in hypersonics to the degree they can. Gen. Milley told Sen. Murkowski that the key to hypersonics is that they are very fast with no defensive weapon against them. He said the units, equipment, and organization of hypersonics needs to be smaller, faster, and difficult to find on the battlefield. Secretary Austin also shared his support for a sky range system to test hypersonics.
Providing Support to Ukraine
In his opening statement, Secretary Austin said the U.S. delivered security assistance to Ukraine with unprecedented speed and resolve, giving Ukraine $1 billion worth of weapons before the war and committing $3.7 billion since the invasion. He stated the goal to give the Ukrainians the capabilities they need in the South and Donbas regions. He described the $33 billion supplemental request that allocates $16 billion for the DOD, $5 billion of which is for additional drawdown authority, $6 billion for Ukrainian security initiatives, and $5 billion to bolster Ukraine’s eastern fight.
Sen. Hoeven asked what weapons system Ukraine needs the most. Secretary Austin replied that the Ukrainians have asked for long range weapons capabilities, which they are using now. He also said that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were provided. Gen. Milley added that they have provided multiple battalions of 155 cannon and ammunitions that go with them, ground maneuver capabilities, and sustainment of anti-tank weapons. Secretary Austin stated the Ukrainians have been trained to use the tanks and javelins provided to them and are pushing training kits into the country as well. He said the Russians do not have weapons equivalent to the javelins. Secretary Austin and Gen. Milley also clarified that the funds provided by Congress have gone almost entirely to lethal aid.
By Jen Judson
McALESTER, Okla. — Many of the U.S. Army’s ammunition plants, arsenals and depots, mostly constructed in World War II, are time capsules of the era. The service has tried to update these wartime facilities, but there is much left to do to bring them into the 21st century.
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma is dotted with shrub-cloaked ammunition bunkers built around 1943 and resembling Hobbit-holes. Old covered bridges that extend from external break rooms to manufacturing facilities across roads loom overhead but are now closed because of the presence of asbestos.
Since WWII, trains have carried in supplies and carted out ammunition in cargo containers. The Army has worked to update rail gauges and train cars to keep shipments moving on time, day and night.
Long, dark tunnels connect one facility for painting and prepping bomb shells to another where explosives are loaded into those rounds. A robotic arm spray-paints the outside of a shell in one facility.
But this automated capability isn’t available for the nuances of mixing explosives or filling shells, Brig. Gen. Gavin Gardner, commander of Joint Munitions Command, told Defense News on a tour of the ammunition plant’s production line for the Mark 82, a 500-pound bomb used by the Air Force. Chemists still manually mix explosives — like tritonal, which is 80% TNT and 20% aluminum powder — using a resonant acoustic mixer, then adding it to the weapon mostly by hand.
Defense News accompanied Army Secretary Christine Wormuth on a trip to the plant last month.
By J.E. Jack Surash, P.E., SES, M.SAME April 12, 2022
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is the largest consumer of installation energy in the Department of Defense, spending more than $1 billion per year on facility energy and water. With few exceptions, Army installations rely on commercial energy and water sources to accomplish critical missions. Uninterrupted access to energy and water is essential for readiness and the Army’s requirement to deploy, fight and win.
Vulnerabilities in interdependent electric grids, natural gas pipelines and water resources supporting Army installations jeopardize mission infrastructure, base security and the ability to project power and sustain global operations. As the Army’s initial maneuver platforms, installations must be able to operate and meet power projection requirements in and from an increasingly contested multi-domain operational environment.
The Army Installations Strategy, published in December 2020, represents a pivot from an Industrial Age paradigm characterized by rigidity and purpose-built specialization to a data-rich, reconfigurable Information Age construct. The strategy also indicates that Army installations support total ground force operations to mobilize and project capabilities anywhere in the world, at any time.
The Army Installation Energy and Water Strategic Plan aligns with Army Installations Strategy, establishing resilience, efficiency, and affordability as strategic goals. The strategic objectives of this plan are measurable through 12 metrics that clearly depict the Army’s progress in achieving resilient, efficient, and affordable installation of energy and water infrastructure. Building and measuring resilience improve the Army’s capability to prevent and recover from any disruption to energy and water utility services. That means greater readiness and a higher likelihood of mission success.
House Armed Services Full Committee Hearing: “National Security Challenges and U.S. Military Activities in the Indo-Pacific Region” - March 9, 2022
On Wednesday, 9 March 2022, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to discuss the U.S. military's current activities, goals, and challenges in the Indo-Pacific Region. The hearing broadly focused on addressing U.S. relations with China. There was general agreement that China remains the most threatening adversary to the United States. Democrats and Republicans were in agreement that the military needs to remain vigilant now more than ever in light of the Ukraine/Russian conflict. The hearing also focused on the U.S.'s commitment to protecting Taiwan and exploring the possibilities of conflict with China in that area. The witness panel consisted of representatives from the Department of Defense, Indo-Pacific Command, and the United Nations.
Members in Attendance
Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), Rep. James Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. William Keating (D-MA), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), Rep. Kaiali'I Kahele (D-HI), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Rep. Scott DesJaslais (R-TN), Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI).
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