Skip to content

March 1 2014

March 3, 2014




Will Plug-in Cars Crash the Electric Grid?

by Joshua E. Brown

Burlington GT (SPX) Feb 24, 2014


Selecting a Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf – or one of many other new models – shoppers in the United States bought more than 96,000 plug-in electric cars in 2013. That’s a tiny slice of the auto market, but it’s up eighty-four percent from the year before. In Vermont, as of January 2014, there were 679 plug-in vehicles, according to the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. That’s two hundred percent growth over 2013.

This is good news in terms of oil consumption and air pollution. But, of course, every plug-in has to be, well, plugged in. And this growing fleet will put a lot of new strain on the nation’s aging electrical distribution systems, like transformers and underground cables, especially at times of peak demand – say, six in the evening when people come home from work.

How to manage all these cars seeking a socket at the same time – without crashing the grid or pushing rates to the roof – has some utilities wondering, if not downright worried.

Now a team of UVM scientists have created a novel solution, which they report on in the forthcoming March issue of IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid, a journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.


Put it in a packet

“The key to our approach is to break up the request for power from each car into multiple small chunks – into packets,” says Jeff Frolik, a professor in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and co-author on the new study.

By using the nation’s growing network of “smart meters” – a new generation of household electric meters that communicate information back-and-forth between a house and the utility – the new approach would let a car charge for, say, five or ten minutes at a time. And then the car would “get back into the line,” Frolik says, and make another request for power. If demand was low, it would continue charging, but if it was high, the car would have to wait.

“The vehicle doesn’t care. And, most of the time, as long as people get charged by morning, they won’t care either,” says UVM’s Paul Hines, an expert on power systems and co-author on the study. “By charging cars in this way, it’s really easy to let everybody share the capacity that is available on the grid.”

Taking a page out of how radio and internet communications are distributed, the team’s strategy will allow electric utilities to spread out the demand from plug-in cars over the whole day and night. The information from the smart meter prevents the grid from being overloaded. “And the problem of peaks and valleys is becoming more pronounced as we get more intermittent power – wind and solar – in the system,” says Hines. “There is a growing need to smooth out supply and demand.”

At the same time, the UVM teams’ invention – patent pending – would protect a car owner’s privacy. A charge management device could be located at the level of, for example, a neighborhood substation. It would assess local strain on the grid. If demand wasn’t too high, it would randomly distribute “charge-packets” of power to those households that were putting in requests.

“Our solution is decentralized,” says Pooya Rezaei, a doctoral student working with Hines and the lead author on the new paper. “The utility doesn’t know who is charging.”

Instead, the power would be distributed by a computer algorithm called an “automaton” that is the technical heart of the new approach. The automaton is driven by rising and falling probabilities, which means everyone would eventually get a turn – but the utility wouldn’t know, or need to know, a person’s driving patterns or what house was receiving power when.


Urgent needs

But what if you come home from work and need to charge your plug-in right away to get to your kid’s big basketball game? “We assumed that drivers can decide to choose between urgent and non-urgent charging modes,” the scientists write. In the urgent mode the vehicle requests charge regardless of the price of electricity. In this case, the system gives this car the best odds of getting to the front of the line, almost guaranteeing that it will be charged as soon as possible – but at full market rates instead of the discount rate that would be used as an incentive for those opting-in to the new approach.

Why put plug-in cars on “packetized” demand instead of all the other electric demands in a house? Because the new generation of car chargers, so-called “Level 2 PEV chargers” are likely to be the biggest power load in a home. “The load provided by an electric vehicle and the load provided by a house are basically equivalent,” says Frolik. “If someone gets an electric vehicle it’s like adding another house to that neighborhood.”

Imagine a neighborhood where everyone buys a plug-in car. Demand doubles, but it’s over the same wires and transformers. Concern about overload in this kind of scenario has led some researchers and utilities to explore systems where the company has centralized control over who can charge when. This so-called “omniscient centralized optimization” can create a perfectly efficient use of the available power – in theory.


But it also means drivers have to either be willing to provide information about their driving habits or set schedules about when they’ll charge their car. This rubs against the grain of a century’s worth of understanding of the car as a tool of autonomy.

Others have proposed elaborate online auction schemes to manage demand. “Some of the other systems are way too complicated,” says Hines, who has extensive experience working with actual power companies. “In a big city, a utility doesn’t want to be managing millions of tiny auctions. Ours is a much simpler system that gets the job done without overloading the grid and gets people what they want the vast majority of the time.”


DoD 5-Year Spending Plan $115 Billion Over Budget Caps, Ignores Sequestration



WASHINGTON — The US Defense Department on March 4 will propose a five-year plan that boosts Pentagon spending by a total of $115 billion over sequestration spending caps, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the plan.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday will preview the plan, along with other key items included in DoD’s $496 billion 2015 budget proposal. The budget proposal ignores federally mandated spending caps between 2016 and 2019. Defense News has reported that the fiscal 2016 budget projection would be $36 billion over the sequester cap.

While DoD’s fiscal 2015 budget falls in line with defense spending caps for that year, the budget will include a separate $26 billion “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative.” The additional $26 billion would go toward readiness, the sources said.

The proposal recommends keeping an aircraft carrier but sidelining half of the Navy’s cruiser fleet. It would also retire the Air Force’s A-10 and U-2 fleets and sets the stage for retiring the KC-10 fleet and for delaying the Navy’s version of the F-35.

Reached Sunday night, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said he would not comment on budget specifics ahead of Hagel’s rollout.


“The Secretary believes strongly that we are facing unique challenges today, both from a security perspective and from a fiscal one. He further believes it is important that a budget not just state what you will pay for, but also what you will stand for,” Kirby said. “He has worked hard with the services to ensure that we continue to stand for the defense of our national interests — that whatever budget priorities we establish, we do so in keeping with our defense strategy and with a strong commitment to the men and women in uniform and to their families.

“But he has also said that we have to face the realities of our time. We must be pragmatic. We can’t escape tough choices. He and the chiefs are willing to make those choices — choices that become impossible to make intelligently should sequestration remain the law of the land.”

As for the additional $26 billion, an Obama administration official said the initiative “will be fully paid for with a balanced package of spending and tax reforms.”

The funding should not be considered an unfunded priorities, or wish list, the official said.

“It will demonstrate how, by simply closing a few unfair tax loopholes and reforming spending programs, Congress could achieve significant economic goals in research, education, manufacturing and skills training,” the official said. “It will be evenly split between defense and non-defense.

“This is consistent with the model established in Murray-Ryan, providing equal dollar-for-dollar increases above the current law discretionary spending caps for both defense and non-defense,” the official continued, referring to the spending compromise hashed out by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. “This level would fully eliminate the remaining non-defense discretionary sequestration cuts in FY2015.”

The five-year projections included in the budget are not in line with federal spending caps and would be subject to sequestration if the law is not changed.

DoD intends to slash personnel across all of the military services, but plans to add nearly 4,000 to the special operations ranks. The spending forecast calls for reducing the Army to between 440,000 to 450,000 soldiers and going as low as 420,000 if sequester remains. It also proposes shrinking the Marine Corps by 8,000 Marines to 182,000. Total Corps end-strength drops to 175,000 if sequestration continues.

The budget plan proposes cutting 20,000 from the Army National Guard — dropping to 335,000 by 2019 — and 10,000 from the Army Reserve, bring it to 195,000.

DoD will ask Congress to approve a base realignment and closure (BRAC) round in 2017. This spring, DoD will begin a review of its infrastructure in Europe to recommend funding cuts on the continent, which are not subject to BRAC.

Defense officials say DoD still plans to fulfill its commitments in Europe and the Middle East.

In terms of service specifics, the Pentagon is planning to invest $1 billion in next-generation jet engine technology.

As has been widely reported, the Air Force would retire its entire A-10 attack jet fleet. If sequestration remains in place, it would also retire its entire KC-10 fleet and reduce unmanned aircraft combat air patrols.

The Air Force also will propose retiring its entire Lockheed Martin U-2 spy plane fleet, which sources said was tirelessly debated throughout the budget-building process. It will instead opt to replace the U-2 with the unmanned Northrop Grumman Global Hawk surveillance aircraft, a reversal of what the Air Force had wanted to do.

The Navy will not ask to retire an aircraft carrier, as had been reported. Yet it will not fund the midlife refueling of the carrier George Washington. Instead, DoD will make a decision on whether to cut an aircraft carrier from its 11-ship fleet in 2016, sources said.

The Navy also will propose taking 11 cruisers — half the fleet — out of service until funds are available to modernize them.

The Navy plans to purchase two submarines and two destroyers per year, as well as an additional afloat staging base.

If sequestration continues, the Navy would have to lay up six additional ships in 2016. It would also suspend purchases of the F-35C carrier-based version of the Joint Strike Fighter for two years, sources said.

DoD’s 2015 proposal also will recommend canceling the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle program.


U.S. Military to Unveil Plan to Cut Personnel Costs

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Propose Limits on Pay Raises, Housing Allowances; Congress Unlikely to Back Changes in Election Year, Experts Say


Updated Feb. 21, 2014 7:54 p.m. ET


WASHINGTON—Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is set Monday to recommend a limit on military pay raises, higher fees for health-care benefits and less generous housing allowances to prune billions of dollars in benefits from the defense budget, setting up an election-year confrontation with veterans groups and lawmakers.

Faced with steadily increasing military personnel costs that threaten to overwhelm an ever-tighter budget, Mr. Hagel is also expected to include a one-year freeze on raises for top military brass—a gesture meant to show that the best-compensated leaders also will make sacrifices.

Pentagon officials describe the package of cuts, which will be part of the military’s coming budget, as a modest and realistic attempt to save billions of dollars needed to protect other critical portions of U.S. defense spending.

But the approach—which would also place limits on things like support for grocery stores offering discounts to military families—is certain to face fierce resistance from veterans groups that recently defeated a far more modest congressional effort to curb military pay.

“This is a real uphill battle with Congress,” said Mieke Eoyang, a former Democratic congressional aide and director of the National Security Program at Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington.

“God bless [Mr. Hagel] for trying to get a handle on these costs,” she said. “But in this political environment, in an election year, it’s going to be hard for members of Congress to accept anything that’s viewed as taking benefits away from troops.”

Pentagon officials say that they recognize the political realities, but emphasize that declining military spending makes trimming costs even more important this year.

“Personnel costs reflect some 50% of the Pentagon budget and cannot be exempted in the context of the significant cuts the department is facing,” said Adm. John Kirby, the Defense Department’s top spokesman. “Secretary Hagel has been clear that, while we do not want to, we ultimately must slow the growth of military pay and compensation.”

Senior officials say they have White House backing to make a serious push for the changes this year.

“The past several years of proposals, and the intransigence that they have been met with on the Hill [in Congress] only further demonstrates the urgency that we need to make progress on this now,” said one senior defense official.

Veterans organizations are expected to oppose many of the proposals.

Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said veterans groups understand there is a “finite amount of money,” but would like to see the Pentagon focus more on other cost cuts it is seeking, such as closing unnecessary bases and scaling back weapons programs, rather than targeting personnel costs.

“We are here to make sure America honors its commitment to its military members, veterans and their families,” he said.

Mr. Hagel is expected to steer clear of changes to military retirement benefits and wait until a special commission presents proposals next year, defense officials said.

His plan, officials said, will call for holding down pay raises for troops and a one-year pay freeze for the Defense Department’s senior military leaders.

His proposal will include cutting subsidies for commissaries that provide discounted goods for military families, a move expected to reduce the annual support from about $1.4 billion to $500 million. None of them will be asked to close. He also will call for raising health-care fees spent on some nonurgent care and placing new limits on increases to troops’ housing allowances.

The push to overhaul military pay and benefits has intensified as the Defense Department seeks ways to restructure its operations amid tightening budgets and the end of costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Washington injected billions more into the military budget. Average pay and benefits for U.S. active-duty and reserve personnel rose to $81,600 in 2013 from $44,200 in 2001, a rise of 85%, according to the Pentagon.

In effort to slow the increase, Mr. Hagel will seek to prevail where his predecessors have failed. Robert Gates, who served as defense secretary under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in his recent memoir described his inability to enact any benefits changes as one of his “biggest failures” in the job.

Veterans groups demonstrated their clout this month by persuading lawmakers to repeal modest trims to military pensions that had been part of a broader congressional compromise package on the budget.

Pentagon officials characterized that effort as an attempt at piecemeal change, while coming trims will be “balanced, pragmatic, measured approaches.”

Some experts note that Congress could be more receptive to curbing military-personnel costs after November’s elections.

“The political reality is that this is DOA for now, but it’s not DOA forever,” said Todd Harrison, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington think tank with close ties to the Pentagon. “You’ve got to be honest: Congress is not going to do this months before an election.”

The Military Officers Association of America, which led the recent charge to roll back the cost-of-living cut, is taking a wait-and-see approach on future proposals.

But retired Vice Adm. Norbert Ryan, its president, praised Mr. Hagel for meeting with his group three times as part of his outreach to veterans associations, more often than other recent secretaries, and said he is willing to listen to the proposals.

“We will be open to looking at these proposals but we are really worried about the piecemeal approach,” he said. “You are going to take purchasing power out of military members’ and their family’s pocketbooks.”

A senior defense official predicted the cut to the commissary subsidies would likely be the most difficult political push on Capitol Hill.

Commissaries offer at-cost groceries to current and former members of the military. While big-box stories willing to take a loss on items like eggs and milk can undercut some prices, commissaries in general offer a discount on overall grocery bills.

Next to retirement benefits, commissary access is the second most important benefit to many veteran service organizations, particularly those representing older retired veterans.

“These are near and dear to the retired population’s heart,” the official said. “The commissaries will be a battle.”

The Department of Defense spends $1.4 billion a year on subsidies to commissaries, funding that defense officials note would pay for roughly 15,000 soldiers.

Under the plan, commissaries overseas and some in rural areas of the U.S. would still get a subsidy. But over time, others would be forced to operate like base exchanges, which sell other consumer products but don’t receive a taxpayer subsidy.

Defense officials have higher hopes that other proposals, like slowing the growth of housing subsidies and pay raises, will gain more traction on Capitol Hill.

Officials note that they are not trying to cut service members’ pay.

“It is about slowing the growth of pay and benefits,” said a senior military official. “It is about ensuring fair compensation.”



Quadrennial Review To Emphasize Middle East

Feb. 23, 2014 – 07:15PM | By JOHN T. BENNETT and MARCUS WEISGERBER | Comments


WASHINGTON — The US Defense Department’s latest military strategy review will stress the Pentagon’s commitment to the Middle East, a region that has felt jilted by numerous US actions in recent years.

The quadrennial defense review (QDR) — an outline of military strategy updated every four years — is also expected to examine changes unfolding in the Pacific, the global security environment and fiscal outlook for DoD, according to sources.

In January 2012, the Pentagon’s Strategic Guidance, a major overhaul of military strategy, placed a greater emphasis on the Pacific, which was widely perceived by other regions of the world as abandonment. Even though the US has not changed its force posture in the Middle East, emphasizing the region in the updated strategy would send a message of commitment to the region, experts said.

The QDR is also expected to emphasize research-and-development investment, according to sources, an area of major emphasis by Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall and other top leaders.

DoD officials will preview the Pentagon’s updated military strategy and 2015 budget proposal this week in what should be a busy few days for the Pentagon. Also on the schedule this week is Robert Work’s nomination hearing to be deputy defense secretary.

The 2015 budget proposal is expected to total $496 billion, which is in line with spending caps established last last year. The services are expected to make some major funding shifts, including the Air Force retiring all of its A-10 attack jets, a reduction in planned Navy littoral combat ship purchases and steep personnel reductions in the Army.

The services are also expected to put forth a $26 billion unfunded priorities list, a wish list of items not included in the budget itself.

The Obama administration likely will scale back funding for the US military’s most elite forces, which spearheaded the fight against al-Qaida and embodied the Pentagon’s rapid post-9/11 budget growth, multiple defense sources say. “SOF will be flat” across the 2015 budget plan’s five years, said one defense source with ties to the Pentagon and White House.

Another source, citing conversations with senior special operations officials, said spec ops funding will be “reined in.”


Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute said setting spec ops funding on a flat trajectory from 2015 through 2019 “sounds reasonable given the tremendous growth that area has seen in recent years.”

The expected flattening of special operations funding shows, analysts say, that budget realities have finally caught up to the military’s most elite units.

The White House is slated to deliver its full federal budget request to Capitol Hill on March 4. The QDR is also expected to head to lawmakers in the coming weeks.

Sources say Work’s confirmation to be the Pentagon’s No. 2 shouldn’t be derailed by a budget preview the day before his hearing.

Numerous sources say it’s unlikely senators would block Work’s nomination if their pet weapons program is targeted for cuts when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel previews the Pentagon’s 2015 spending proposal on Feb. 24.

But they expect Hagel’s “budget pre-brief” to create some tense exchanges between annoyed Senate Armed Services Committee members and Work, President Barack Obama’s pick to be deputy defense secretary.

“I think he’s going to be confirmed,” said Lawrence Korb, a former Pentagon official now with the Center for American Progress, a think tank with ties to the Obama administration.

Many defense observers considered Work’s confirmation hearing a mere formality. After all, the former Navy undersecretary and think tank executive is well-respected among Republicans and Democrats. And no one has questioned his qualifications to manage the Defense Department.

One defense source noted that Work and the other nominees are known quantities within the military-industrial-congressional complex and have been intimately involved at one point or another throughout the current budget and quadrennial defense review processes.

Still, senators surely will use the confirmation hearing to grandstand if Hagel announces cuts to a weapon system made in their state, sources say.

“I think he’ll be fine, but the Hagel briefing will make the hearing not such a pro-forma thing,” Korb said. “Overall, though, I think he’ll have no major problem at all.”

“He’ll certainly have to answer for some things he wouldn’t have had to answer for two weeks ago,” one defense source said.

One potential point of awkwardness: The Pentagon’s acting deputy, Christine Fox, wrote a classified memo in January directing the Navy to halt production of littoral combat ships at 32, well under the planned purchase of 52. During his time as Navy undersecretary, Work was the department’s loudest cheerleader for the ship program. Becoming the deputy puts him in the position of defending program cuts after years of full-throated endorsement.

One prominent defense industry lobbyist said he doubts “people would put a hold on his nomination without having all details of the budget, which is not coming for another week or so.”


FY15 Budget Preview

02/24/2014 02:35 PM CST

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Pentagon Press Briefing Room, Monday, February 24, 2014


First, let me acknowledge and thank Chairman Dempsey, Vice Chairman Winnefeld, our chiefs, our secretaries, who are here, as well as our Comptroller and our Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox for the work that they have put in over the few months in particular to get us to this point, where we have a budget that we are going to present to Congress next week.

I want to talk a little bit about that today. Chairman Dempsey will also add his remarks, but I am very grateful, and I know that President Obama is very grateful, to these men and women who have spent an awful lot of time – and the people they represent and their services – in putting this together.

I particularly want to note that the Comptroller, Bob Hale, this will be his last budget unless we call him back into duty after he goes to find an island somewhere and doesn’t return calls. But I am particularly appreciative of his willingness to stay through this budget which was not an easy task for Bob Hale. You all know the kind of service that he has given this country and this department for many, many years. And to Bob Hale, thank you, and to all your team down there, we are grateful.

Today I am announcing the key decisions I have recommended to the President for the Defense Department’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget and beyond.

These recommendations will adapt and reshape our defense enterprise so that we can continue protecting this nation’s security in an era of unprecedented uncertainty and change. As we end our combat mission in Afghanistan, this will be the first budget to fully reflect the transition DoD is making for after 13 years of war – the longest conflict in our nation’s history.

We are repositioning to focus on the strategic challenges and opportunities that will define our future: new technologies, new centers of power, and a world that is growing more volatile, more unpredictable, and in some instances more threatening to the United States.

The choices ahead will define our defense institutions for the years to come. Chairman Dempsey and I worked in a pragmatic and collaborative way to build the balanced force our nation must have for the future. I worked closely with the Chairman, Vice Chairman, Service Secretaries, and Service Chiefs in developing these recommendations, in a process that began with last summer’s Strategic Choices and Management Review. I also want to recognize today the senior enlisted leaders in each of the services for their contributions and their involvement and their leadership and what they continue to do every day for our country, but in particular their help and input in crafting this budget.Our recommendations were guided by an updated defense strategy that builds on the President’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. As described in the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review report, this defense strategy is focused on:

Defending the homeland against all strategic threats;

Building security globally by projecting U.S. influence and deterring aggression; and;

Remaining prepared to win decisively against any adversary should deterrence fail.

To fulfill this strategy DoD will continue to shift its operational focus and forces to the Asia-Pacific, sustain commitments to key allies and partners in the Middle East and Europe, maintain engagement in other regions, and continue to aggressively pursue global terrorist networks.


Our reviews made two new realities very clear:

First, the development and proliferation of more advanced military technologies by other nations that means that we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space can no longer be taken for granted.

Second, defense spending is not expected to reach the levels projected in the five-year budget plan submitted by the President last year.


Given these realities, we must now adapt, innovate, and make difficult decisions to ensure that our military remains ready and capable – maintaining its technological edge over all potential adversaries. However, as a consequence of large budget cuts, our future force will assume additional risks in certain areas.

In crafting this package, we prioritized DoD’s strategic interests and matched them to budget resources. This required a series of difficult choices:

We chose further reductions in troop strength and force structure in every military service – active and reserve – in order to sustain our readiness and technological superiority, and to protect critical capabilities like Special Operations Forces and cyber resources.

We chose to terminate or delay some modernization programs to protect higher priorities in procurement, research, and development.

And we chose to slow the growth of military compensation costs in ways that will preserve the quality of the all-volunteer force, but also free up critical funds needed for sustaining training, readiness, and modernization.


Fiscal Context and Future Spending Assumptions

Before describing our specific recommendations, let me address the fiscal realities and assumptions behind our decision-making.

On March 1, 2013 – one year ago this week – steep and abrupt automatic spending cuts were imposed on DoD and other agencies across the government under the mechanism of sequestration. For DoD, these irresponsible cuts amounted to $37 billion last fiscal year. These cuts came on top of the $487 billion, ten-year defense spending reductions required by the Budget Control Act of 2011.

As sequestration was being imposed, the President submitted a Fiscal Year 2014 budget plan that would have fully repealed those cuts in favor of balanced deficit reduction. That would have given DoD the resources needed to fully implement the President’s January 2012 defense strategy and maintain a ready and modern force.

Two months ago, rather than fully repealing sequestration, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act, which provided DoD with some relief in this Fiscal Year and for Fiscal Year 2015. The Bipartisan Budget Act gives DoD much-needed budget certainty for the next fiscal year. But, defense spending remains significantly below what the President requested in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget request and five year budget plan.

Under the spending limits of the Bipartisan Budget Act, DoD’s budget is roughly $496 billion this Fiscal Year – or $31 billion below what the President requested. The law also limits DoD spending in Fiscal Year 2015 to $496 billion, which is $45 billion less than was projected in the President’s budget request last year. So while DoD welcomes the measure of relief and stability that the [Bipartisan] Budget Act provided, it still forces us to cut more than $75 billion over this two-year period, in addition to the $37 billion cut we took last year and the Budget Control Act’s 10-year reductions of $487 billion. And sequestration-level cuts remain the law for Fiscal Year 2016 and beyond.

The President will soon submit a budget request that adheres to Bipartisan Budget Act spending limits for Fiscal Year 2015. But it is clear that under these limits the military will still face significant readiness and modernization challenges next year. To close these gaps, the President’s budget will include an Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative. This initiative is a detailed proposal that is part of the President’s budget submission. It would provide an additional $26 billion for the Defense Department in Fiscal Year 2015.

These additional funds would be paid for with a balanced package of spending and tax reforms, and would allow us to increase training, upgrade aircraft and weapons systems, and make needed repairs to our facilities. The money is specifically for bringing unit readiness and equipment closer to standard after the disruptions and large shortfalls of the last few years. I strongly support the President’s proposal.

The President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2015 will also contain a new five-year defense budget plan, mapping out defense programs through 2019. Over five years, this plan projects $115 billion more in spending than sequestration levels.

The reason we are requesting this increase over sequestration levels is because the President and I would never recommend a budget that compromises our national security. Continued sequestration cuts would compromise our national security both for the short- and long-term.

Sequestration requires cuts so deep, so abrupt, so quickly, that we cannot shrink the size of our military fast enough. In the short-term, the only way to implement sequestration is to sharply reduce spending on readiness and modernization, which would almost certainly result in a hollow force – one that is not ready, that is notcapable of fulfilling assigned missions. In the longer term, after trimming the military enough to restore readiness and modernization, the resulting force would be too small to fully execute the President’s defense strategy.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget offers a more deliberate and far more responsible approach that protects readiness and modernization, while maintaining a force large enough to fulfill our defense strategy – though with some added risk for some missions.

This plan balances the need to protect our national security with the need to be realistic about future budget levels. DoD has also completed a detailed plan should sequestration-level cuts return in Fiscal Year 2016 and beyond, as is the current law.

The reality of reduced resources and a changing strategic environment requires us to prioritize and make difficult choices. Some of those choices we must make now. For other choices – particularly those involving the ultimate size of our armed forces – we have built decision points into our budget plan. We will make these decisions when we have more clarity regarding future spending levels. Our budget will give us the flexibility to make different decisions based on different fiscal outcomes.


DoD’s Approach

Before we recommended any changes to the military’s size or capabilities, we first focused on implementing management reforms and reducing DoD’s overhead and operating costs.

Last summer I announced a 20 percent cut in DoD’s major headquarters operating budgets, which is expected to save about $5 billion in operating costs over the next five years. These efforts began in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in the Joint Staff, but they will also include Service and Combatant Command headquarters. We are paring back contract spending, making targeted cuts in civilian personnel, improving the quality of financial information and taking other steps to become more efficient – in addition to continuing to implement the more than $200 billion in overhead cuts DoD has submitted in the last three budget proposals.

We cannot fully achieve our goals for overhead reductions without cutting unnecessary and costly infrastructure. For that reason, DoD will ask Congress for another round of Base Realignment[and] Closure (BRAC) in 2017. I am mindful that Congress has not agreed to [our] BRAC requests of the last two years. But if Congress continues to block these requests even as they slash the overall budget, we will have to consider every tool at our disposal to reduce infrastructure. DoD has already been reducing infrastructure where we can. In Europe, where BRAC authority is not needed, we have reduced our infrastructure by 30 percent since 2000, and a European Infrastructure Consolidation Review this spring will recommend further cuts which DoD will pursue.

Reducing overhead will continue to be important, but the potential savings will not by themselves enough to meet targets under either the President’s budget or sequestration levels. To meet reductions of the scale required, we had to carefully examine the military’s force structure.


Force Structure and Modernization Decisions

Our force structure and modernization recommendations are rooted in three realities:

First, after Iraq and Afghanistan, we are no longer sizing the military to conduct long and large stability operations;

Second, we must maintain our technological edge over potential adversaries;

Third, the military must be ready and capable to respond quickly to all contingencies and decisively defeat any opponent should deterrence fail.


Accordingly, our recommendations favor a smaller and more capable force – putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more technologically advanced adversaries. We also preserved all three legs of the nuclear triad and will make important investments to preserve a safe, secure, reliable, and effective nuclear force.

The forces we prioritized can project power over great distances and carry out a variety of missions more relevant to the President’s defense strategy, such as homeland defense, strategic deterrence, building partnership capacity, and defeating asymmetric threats. They are also well-suited to the strategy’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, to sustaining security commitments in the Middle East and Europe, and our engagement in other regions.

Our recommendations seek to protect capabilities uniquely suited to the most likely missions of the future, most notably special operations forces used for counterterrorism and crisis response. Accordingly, our special operations forces will grow to 69,700 personnel from roughly 66,000 today.


Let me now describe key recommendations for each of the military services.


Air Force

For the Air Force, an emphasis on capability over capacity meant that we protected its key modernization programs, including the new bomber, the Joint Strike Fighter, and the new refueling tanker. We also recommended investing $1 billion in a promising next-generation jet engine technology, which we expect to produce sizeable cost-savings through reduced fuel consumption and lower maintenance needs. This new funding will also help ensure a robust industrial base, a very strong and important industrial base – itself a national strategic asset.

To fund these investments, the Air Force will reduce the number of tactical air squadrons including the entire A-10 fleet. Retiring the A-10 fleet saves $3.5 billion over five years and accelerates the Air Force’s long-standing modernization plan – which called for replacing the A-10s with the more capable F-35 in the early 2020s.

The “Warthog” is a venerable platform, and this was a tough decision. But the A-10 is a 40-year-old single-purpose airplane originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield. It cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses. And as we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, the advent of precision munitions means that many more types of aircraft can now provide effective close air support, from B-1 bombers to remotely piloted aircraft. And these aircraft can execute more than one mission.

The A-10’s age is also making it much more difficult and costly to maintain. Significant savings are only possible through eliminating the entire fleet, because of the fixed cost of maintaining the support apparatus associated with that aircraft. Keeping a smaller number of A-10s would only delay the inevitable while forcing worse trade-offs elsewhere.

In addition to the A-10, the Air Force will also retire the 50-year-old U-2 in favor of the unmanned Global Hawk system. This decision was a close call, as DoD had previously recommended retaining the U-2 over the Global Hawk because of cost issues. But over the last several years, DoD has been able to reduce the Global Hawk’s operating costs. With its greater range and endurance, the Global Hawk makes a better high-altitude reconnaissance platform for the future.

The Air Force will slow the growth in its arsenal of armed unmanned systems that, while effective against insurgents and terrorists, cannot operate in the face of enemy aircraft and modern air defenses. Instead of increasing to a force of 65 around-the-clock combat air patrols of Predator and Reaper aircraft, the Air Force will grow to 55, still a significant increase. Given the continued drawdown in Afghanistan, this level of coverage will be sufficient to meet our requirements, and we would still be able to surge to an unprecedented 71 combat air patrols under the plan. DoD will continue buying the more capable Reapers until we have an all-Reaper fleet.

If sequestration-level cuts are re-imposed in 2016 and beyond, however, the Air Force would need to make far more significant cuts to force structure and modernization. The Air Force would have to retire 80 more aircraft, including the entire KC-10 tanker fleet and the Global Hawk Block 40 fleet, as well as slow down purchases of the Joint Strike Fighter – resulting in 24 fewer F-35s purchased through Fiscal Year 2019 – and sustain ten fewer Predator and Reaper 24-hour combat air patrols. The Air Force would also have to take deep cuts to flying hours, which would prevent a return to adequate readiness levels.


Navy and Marine Corps

Next, the Navy Under the President’s budget plan, the Navy will launch an aggressive and ambitious effort to reduce acquisitions costs and maximize resources available to buy and build new ships. This will enable our ship inventory to continue to grow over the next five years to support the global demands for naval presence.


The spending levels proposed under the President’s budget plan would also enable the Navy to maintain 11 carrier strike groups. However, we will have to make a final decision on the future of the George Washington aircraft carrier in the 2016 budget submission. If sequestration spending levels remain in place in Fiscal Year 2016, she would need to be retired before her scheduled nuclear refueling and overhaul. That would leave the Navy with 10 carrier strike groups. But keeping the George Washington in the fleet would cost $6 billion – so we would have no other choice than to retire her should sequestration-level cuts be re-imposed. At the President’s budget level, we would pay for the overhaul and maintain 11 carriers.

In order to help keep its ship inventory ready and modern under the President’s plan, half of the Navy’s cruiser fleet – or eleven ships – will be “laid up” and placed in reduced operating status while they are modernized, and eventually returned to service with greater capability and a longer lifespan. This approach enables us over the long-term to sustain and modernize our fleet of cruisers, which are the most capable ships for controlling the air defense of a carrier strike group.

Overall, the Navy’s fleet will be significantly modernized under our plan, which continues buying two destroyers and two attack submarines per year, as well as one additional Afloat Staging Base. We have preserved the fleet’s modernization programs and provided for increases in ship inventory over the next five years.

Regarding the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, I am concerned that the Navy is relying too heavily on the LCS to achieve its long-term goals for ship numbers. Therefore, no new contract negotiations beyond 32 ships will go forward. With this decision, the LCS line will continue beyond our five-year budget plan with no interruptions.

The LCS was designed to perform certain missions – such as mine sweeping and anti-submarine warfare – in a relatively permissive environment. But we need to closely examine whether the LCS has the independent protection and firepower to operate and survive against a more advanced military adversary and emerging new technologies, especially in the Asia Pacific. If we were to build out the LCS program to 52 ships, as previously planned, it would represent one-sixth of our future 300-ship Navy. Given continued fiscal restraints, we must direct future shipbuilding resources toward platforms that can operate in every region and along the full spectrum of conflict.

Additionally, at my direction, the Navy will submit alternative proposals to procure a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate. I’ve directed the Navy to consider a completely new design, existing ship designs, and a modified LCS. These proposals are due to me later this year in time to inform next year’s budget submission.

If sequestration spending levels return in 2016 and beyond, we will be forced into much tougher decisions on the Navy surface fleet. Six additional ships would have to be laid up, and we would have to slow the rate at which we buy destroyers. The net result of sequestration-level cuts would be ten fewer large surface combatant ships in the Navy’s operational inventory by 2023. Under sequestration spending levels, the Navy would also halt procurement of the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter for two years.

The Marine Corps’ inherent agility, crisis response capabilities, and maritime focus make it well-suited to carry out many priority missions under the President’s defense strategy. Accordingly, if the President’s budget levels are sustained for the next five years, we could avoid additional reductions in end strength beyond those already planned. Today the Marines number about 190,000, and they will draw down to 182,000. If sequestration-level cuts are re-imposed in 2016 and beyond, the Marines would have to shrink further to 175,000. Under any scenario, we will devote about 900 more Marines to provide enhanced embassy security around the world.



Finally, the Army: We seek a highly ready and capable Army, able to dominate any opponent across the full spectrum of operations. To achieve this, the Army must accelerate the pace and increase the scale of its post-war drawdown. Today, there are about 520,000 active-duty soldiers, which the Army had planned to reduce to 490,000. However, the Strategic Choices and Management Review and the QDR both determined that since we are no longer sizing the force for prolonged stability operations, an Army of this size is larger than required to meet the demands of our defense strategy. Given reduced budgets, it is also larger than we can afford to modernize and keep ready. We have decided to further reduce active-duty Army end-strength to a range of 440-450,[000] soldiers.

I have also accepted the Army’s recommendations to terminate the current Ground Combat Vehicle program and re-direct the funds toward developing a next-generation platform. I have asked the leadership of the Army and the Marine Corps to deliver new, realistic visions for avehicle modernization by the end of this fiscalyear.

The changes to end strength would result in a smaller Army, but would help ensure the Army remains well-trained and clearly superior in arms and equipment. While this smaller capacity entails some added risk, even if we execute extended or simultaneous ground operations, our analysis showed that this force would be capable of decisively defeating aggression in one major combat theater – as it must be – while also defending the homeland and supporting air and naval forces engaged in another theater against an adversary. If sequestration-level cuts are re-imposed in 2016, the active dutyArmy would have to draw down to an end strength of 420,000 soldiers.

The Army National Guard and Reserves will also draw down in order to maintain a balanced force. Today, the Army National Guard numbers about 355,000 soldiers and the Reserves about 205,000 soldiers. By 2017, under our recommendations, there would be 335,000 soldiers in the Army National Guard force structure and 195,000 in the Reserves. If sequestration returns in 2016, the Army National Guard would continue drawing down further, to 315,000. Army Reserves would draw down to 185,000.

We have protected the National Guard and Reserves from cuts to the extent possible, but to maintain a ready and capable force at a time of fiscal constraints, no component of DoD can be entirely exempted from reductions.

This five percent recommended reduction in Guard and Reserve soldiers is smaller than the 13 percent reduction in active-duty soldiers. I’m mindful that many in the Guard and Reserve community and in Congress have argued that the reserve component should be protected from cuts because they provide more troops at lower cost. If our priority was having the largest possible force in the event of a large-scale, prolonged war, that would be reasonable. However, our defense strategy calls for more than that. Surge capacity is just one factor, as we must prioritize readiness, capability, and agility. And while it is true that reserve units are less expensive when they are not mobilized, our analysis shows that a reserve unit is roughly the same cost as an active duty unit when mobilized and deployed.


Guardsmen and Reservists performed well in Iraq and Afghanistan. We could not have achieved what we did in either place without them. But experience shows that specialties requiring greater collective training to achieve combat proficiency and service integrationshould reside in the full-time force, where these capabilities will be more ready and available to commanders. What best serves our national security is when Guard and Reserve units complement the active force.

That’s why we’ve recommended Army Guard Apache attack helicopters be transferred to active-duty units. The Active Army will transfer Blackhawk helicopters to the National Guard, where they will bolster the Guard’s needed capabilities in areas like disaster relief and emergency response.

These changes to the Guard’s helicopter fleet are part of a broader realignment of Army aviation designed to modernize its fleet and make it highly capable and more affordable. The force will retire its Kiowas, and the “JetRanger” training helicopters used at Fort Rucker. The Active Army’s overall fleet would decrease by about 25 percent, but it would be significantly modernized under the President’s budget plan.

The Guard’s fleet of helicopters would decline by eight percent, but it would gain new Blackhawks and the Army will sustain the Guard’s fleet of Light Utility Helicopters. If sequestration-level cuts are re-imposed in 2016, the Army would have to cut 50 of these helicopters from the Guard force.

While any force reduction has some risk, the future Guard helicopter force will still serve as an important operational and strategic complement to our active duty force, while also being equipped for state and federal requirements for homeland defense, disaster relief, and support to civil authorities.

In making these difficult decisions on the Guard and Reserves, we affirmed the value of a highly capable reserve component, while keeping the focus on how our military can best meet future demands given fiscal constraints. We made choices based on strategic priorities, clear facts, unbiased analysis, and fiscal realities… and with the bottom line focus on how best we can defend the United States.


Military Compensation Decisions

Beyond force structure and modernization, there is the challenge of DoD’s personnel costs – civilian and military – which make up about half of all defense spending.

DoD has complied with Congressional direction to reduce our civilian personnel numbers, and worked to reshape our civilian workforce so that it has the skills needed for the future. Given the steps already taken to reduce civilian personnel costs – including a three-year pay freeze – no realistic effort to find further significant savings can avoid dealing with military compensation. That includes pay and benefits for active and retired troops, both direct and in-kind.

The primary way to reduce overall payroll spending has already been discussed – reducing the total number of people in uniform by bringing down the military’s force structure and end-strength. But since too small a force adds too much risk to our national security interests, we must also address spending on pay and benefits for service members, which since 2001 has risen about 40 percent more than growth in the private sector.


One of the reasons is that Congress boosted pay increases above the levels requested by the Department of Defense in budget submissions. New benefits, and increases in current pay and benefits, were also beyond what most active-duty personnel sought, expected, or had been promised when joining the military. As a U.S. Senator I supported these proposals. It was the right thing to do at the time, given the burdens being placed on our service members, the military’s recruiting and retention challenges, and the fact that we had few constraints on defense spending.

But today DoD faces a vastly different fiscal situation – and all the services continue to meet recruiting and retention goals. This year we are concluding combat operations in America’s longest war. A war that has lasted 13 years. We must now consider fair and responsible adjustments to our overall military compensation package.

For Fiscal Year 2015 we will recommend a one percent raise in basic pay for military personnel – with the exception of general and flag officers, whose pay will be frozen for one year. Basic pay raises beyond Fiscal Year 2015 will be restrained, though raises will continue.


We are also recommending a number of changes:

We will slow the growth of tax-free housing allowances – which currently cover 100% of housing expenses – until they cover an average of 95% of housing expenses with a 5% out-of-pocket contribution. In comparison, the average out-of-pocket expenditure was 18% in the late 1990s. We will also no longer reimburse for renter’s insurance.

Over three years, we will reduce by $1 billion the annual direct subsidy provided to military commissaries, which now totals $1.4 billion. We are not shutting down commissaries. All commissaries will still get free rent and pay no taxes. They will be able to continue to provide a good deal to service members and retirees – much like our post exchanges, which do not receive direct subsidies. Overseas commissaries and those in remote locations will continue receiving direct subsidies.

And we will simplify and modernize our TRICARE health insurance program by consolidating plans and adjusting deductibles and co-pays in ways that encourage members to use the most affordable means of care – such as military treatment facilities, preferred providers, and generic prescriptions. We will ask retirees and some active-duty family members to pay a little more in their deductibles and co-pays, but their benefits will remain affordable and generous … as they should be.

To protect the most vulnerable, under this plan medically retired service members, their families, and the survivors of service members who die on active duty would not pay the annual participation fees charged to other retirees, and would pay a smaller share of the costs for health care other than retirees.

Our proposals do not include any recommended changes to military retirement benefits for those now serving in the Armed Forces. We are awaiting the results of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission, which is expected to present its report in February 2015 we will await the commission’s reportbefore pursuing reforms in that area. But DoD continues to support the principle of “grandfathering” for any future changes to military retirement plans.


The adjustments to military compensation presented in this year’s budget plan will enable each of the military services to invest more in critically important modernization and readiness while still allowing them to recruit and retain a high-quality force and offer deserved, generous, competitive, and sustainable benefits. The savings will enable us to sustain a well-trained, ready, agile, motivated and technologically superior force.

Although these recommendations do not cut anyone’s pay, I realize they will be controversial. Congress has taken some important steps in recent years to control the growth in compensation spending, but we must do more.

A holistic and comprehensive approach must be taken to compensation changes. Continuous piecemeal changes will only magnify uncertainty and magnify doubts about our service members, with our service members, among our service members about whether promised benefits will be there in the future.

Instead, we must keep faith with our men and women in uniform, and fulfill the promises made. America has an obligation to make sure service members and their families are fairly and appropriately compensated and cared for during and after their time in uniform. We also have a responsibility to provide our troops with the finest training and equipment possible – so that whenever America calls upon them they are prepared with every advantage we can give them so that they will return home safely to their families. The President’s budget fulfills both of these promises to our service members and their families.

Our proposals were carefully crafted to reform military compensation in a fair, responsible, and sustainable way. We recognize that no one serving our nation in uniform today is overpaid for what they do for our country. But if we continue on the current course without making these modest adjustments now, the choices will only grow more difficult and painful down the road. We will inevitably have to either cut into compensation even more deeply and abruptly, or we will have to deprive our men and women of the training and equipment they need to succeed in battle. But, either way, we would be breaking faith with our people. And the President and I will not allow that to happen.



The recommendations I have described will help bring our military into balance over the next decade and responsibly position us for an era of both strategic and fiscal uncertainty. They will allow the military to protect our country and fulfill the President’s defense strategy – but with some increased levels of risk.

We should be clear about these risks.

Over the near-term, because of budget limitations even under the Bipartisan Budget Act, the military will continue to experience gaps in training and maintenance – putting stress on the force and diminishing our global readiness even as we sustain a heightened alert posture in regions like the Middle East and North Africa. The additional $26 billion provided to DoD by the President’s Opportunity, Growth and Security Fund would allow us to continue to restore and sustain readiness – helping to mitigate this risk.

We also face the risk of uncertainty in a dynamic and increasingly dangerous security environment. Budget reductions inevitably reduce the military’s margin of error in dealing with these risks, as other powers are continuing to modernize their weapons portfolios, to include anti-air and anti-ship systems. And a smaller force strains our ability to simultaneously respond to multiple major contingencies. But with the President’s budget our military will still be able to defeat any aggressor.

We can manage these anticipated risks under the President’s budget plan, but they would grow significantly if sequester-level cuts return in Fiscal Year 2016, if our reforms are not accepted, or if uncertainty on budget levels continue. As I’ve made clear, the scale and timeline of continued sequestration-level cuts would require greater reductions in the military’s size, reach and margin of technological superiority. Under sequestration spending levels, we would be gambling that our military will not be required to respond to multiple major contingencies at the same time.

That’s why our recommendations beyond Fiscal Year 2015 provide a realistic alternative to sequestration-level cuts, sustaining adequate readiness and modernization most relevant to strategic priorities over the long-term. But this can only be achieved by the strategic balance of reforms and reductions the President and I will present to the Congress next week. This will require the Congress to partner with the Department of Defense in making politically difficult choices – which I will address more specifically when I testify before Congress.

As I weighed these recommendations, I have, as I often do, looked to the pages of American history for guidance. In doing so, an admonition by Henry Stimson stood out. Writing after World War II, Roosevelt’s Secretary of War during that time, said that Americans must “act in the world as it is, and not in the world as we wish it were.”

Stimson knew that America’s security at home depended on sustaining our commitments abroad and investing in a strong national defense. He was a realist. This is a time for reality. This is a budget that recognizes the reality of the magnitude of our fiscal challenges, the dangerous world we live in, and the American military’s unique and indispensable role in the security of this country and in today’s volatile world. There are difficult decisions ahead. That is the reality we’re living with.

But with this reality comes opportunity. The opportunity to reshape our defense enterprise to be better prepared, positioned and equipped to secure America’s interests in the years ahead. All of DoD’s leaders, these men and women sitting here today, and I have every confidence that this will be accomplished.


Thank you.


Syria War Stirs New U.S. Debate on Cyberattacks



WASHINGTON — Not long after the uprising in Syria turned bloody, late in the spring of 2011, the Pentagon and the National Security Agency developed a battle plan that featured a sophisticated cyberattack on the Syrian military and President Bashar al-Assad’s command structure.

The Syrian military’s ability to launch airstrikes was a particular target, along with missile production facilities. “It would essentially turn the lights out for Assad,” said one former official familiar with the planning.

For President Obama, who has been adamantly opposed to direct American intervention in a worsening crisis in Syria, such methods would seem to be an obvious, low-cost, low-casualty alternative. But after briefings on variants of the plans, most of which are part of traditional strikes as well, he has so far turned them down, according to officials familiar with the administration’s long-running internal debate.

Syria was not a place where he saw strategic value in American intervention, and even covert attacks — of the kind he ordered against Iran during the first two years of his presidency — involved a variety of risks.

News, analysis and photos of the conflict that has left more than 100,000 dead and millions displaced.

The considerations that led Mr. Obama to hesitate about using the offensive cyberweapons his administration has spent billions helping develop, in large part with hopes that they can reduce the need for more-traditional military attacks, reflect larger concerns about a new and untested tactic with the potential to transform the nature of warfare. It is a transformation analogous to what happened when the airplane was first used in combat in World War I, a century ago.

The Obama administration has been engaged in a largely secret debate about whether cyberarms should be used like ordinary weapons, whether they should be rarely used covert tools or whether they ought to be reserved for extraordinarily rare use against the most sophisticated, hard-to-reach targets. And looming over the issue is the question of retaliation: whether such an attack on Syria’s air power, its electric grid or its leadership would prompt Syrian, Iranian or Russian retaliation in the United States.

It is a question Mr. Obama has never spoken about publicly. Because he has put the use of such weapons largely into the hands of the N.S.A., which operates under the laws guiding covert action, there is little of the public discussion that accompanied the arguments over nuclear weapons in the 1950s and ’60s or the kind of roiling argument over the use of drones, another classified program that Mr. Obama has begun to discuss publicly only in the past 18 months.

But to many inside the administration, who insisted on anonymity when speaking about discussions over one of America’s most highly classified abilities, Syria puts the issue back on the table. Mr. Obama’s National Security Council met Thursday to explore what one official called “old and new options.”

Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, declined to discuss “the details of our interagency deliberations” about Syria. “But we have been clear that there are a range of tools we have at our disposal to protect our national security, including cyber,” she said, noting that in 2012 “the president signed a classified presidential directive relating to cyberoperations that establishes principles and processes so that cybertools are integrated with the full array of national security tools.”

The directive, she said, “enables us to be flexible, while also exercising restraint in dealing with the threats we face. It continues to be our policy that we shall undertake the least action necessary to mitigate threats.”


One of the central issues is whether such a strike on Syria would be seen as a justified humanitarian intervention, less likely to cause civilian casualties than airstrikes, or whether it would only embolden American adversaries who have themselves been debating how to use the new weapons.

Jason Healey, the director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, argues that it is “worth doing to show that cyberoperations are not evil witchcraft but can be humanitarian.”

But others caution whether that would really be the perception.

“Here in the U.S. we tend to view a cyberattack as a de-escalation — it’s less damaging than airstrikes,” said Peter W. Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar and co-author of the recently published book “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.”

“But elsewhere in the world it may well be viewed as opening up a new realm of warfare,” he said.

There’s little doubt that developing weapons for computer warfare is one of the hottest arenas in defense spending. While the size of the Army and traditional weapons systems are being cut in the Pentagon budget that was released on Monday, cyberweapons and Special Forces are growth areas, though it is difficult to tell precisely how much the government spends.

But Mr. Obama has made no secret of his concerns about using cyberweapons. He narrowed Olympic Games, the program against the Iranian nuclear enrichment program, to make sure that it did not cripple civilian facilities like hospitals.

What he liked about the program was that it was covert and that, if successful, it could help buy time to force the Iranians into negotiations. And that is exactly what happened. But when a technological error in the summer of 2010 resulted in the broadcast of the Stuxnet computer worm around the world, ultimately leading to the revelation of the program’s origins with the N.S.A. and Unit 8200 of Israel, Mr. Obama’s hopes of keeping such programs at arm’s length were dashed.

Since then, there has been no clear evidence that the United States has used the weapons in another major attack. It was considered during the NATO attacks on Libya in the spring of 2011, but dismissed after Mr. Obama’s advisers warned him that there was no assurance they would work against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s antiquated, pre-Internet air defenses.

The head of the N.S.A., Gen. Keith B. Alexander, said in an interview last year that such weapons had been used only a handful of times in his eight-year tenure.

But Syria is a complicated case, raising different issues than Iran did. In Syria, the humanitarian impulse to do something, without putting Americans at risk or directly entering the civil war, is growing inside the administration. Most of that discussion focuses on providing more training and arms for what are seen as moderate rebel groups. But cyberweapons are in the conversation about stepping up covert action.

Part of the argument is that Syria is a place where America could change its image, using its most advanced technology for a humanitarian purpose.


Navy to build its ‘information dominance’ forces through new command

Monday – 2/24/2014, 3:53am EST

By     Jared Serbu


The Navy says it’s about to create a new home for its growing cadre of what it calls “information dominance” forces.

A new organization will begin to take shape this fall, taking on the responsibility for manning, training and equipping the entire service for information warfare.

The move is a significant follow-up to the Navy’s 2009 decision to merge several disciplines, including cyber, intelligence, meteorology, oceanography and electronic warfare into a single large workforce cadre called “information dominance forces.”

Within the next few weeks, officials expect Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert to sign off on an implementation plan to stand up a new command to continue to build and organize that force.

Vice Adm. Ted Branch, a deputy chief of naval operations and the Navy’s chief of information dominance, said the service expects the new organization to reach its initial operating capability by October. It will fall within the auspices of the existing Navy Cyber Forces, headquartered in Suffolk, Va.

“That means that resources will move from my staff at the Pentagon, from the Office of Naval Intelligence, from the commander of naval oceanography and from Fleet Cyber Command into that new type command,” Branch said Friday during an AFCEA gathering in Tysons Corner, Va. “That type commander will be responsible for the manning, training and equipping of the entire information dominance corps and for moving forward information dominance in the Navy.”


The ninth command

The Information Dominance Forces Command would be the ninth type command (TYCOM) in the Navy, and would have similar responsibilities to the others, but a broader reach. The others are all responsible for holding administrative control over specific categories of platforms, like naval aircraft, submarines or surface ships.

“For the platform TYCOMs, it’s pretty easy to figure out what they’re dealing with if it looks like a ship or a submarine or an airplane. This one will have the information dominance corps and the cyber activities, all that kind of man train and equip, but it will also have responsibility for the rest of the Navy,” Branch said. “The systems commands, naval reactors, medical, anybody that has a network will have a line to the information dominance TYCOM. So it’s a big job, but it’s the right thing to do as we move information dominance down the path and make it a warfighting pillar.”

Navy officials say the standup of the command will mean some other changes to the way the service organizes its current cyber workforce.


Some of Navy Cyber Forces’ existing responsibilities for operating and defending Navy networks will transition to the service’s 10th Fleet/Fleet Cyber Command, the Navy component of U.S. Cyber Command. Navy Cyber Forces, meanwhile, will focus more exclusively on training and equipping the workforce.

Branch said the new organization’s relatively difficult task will be to integrate the skills and expertise of what used to be five distinct career fields in the Navy: Intelligence specialists, information warfare officers, information professionals, oceanographers and the space cadre.

“We brought that all together and said, ‘OK, we used to be five different tribes, now we’re going to be one corps and be able to practice information dominance warfare,'” Branch said. “That’s moving along, but it’s not cooked yet, because people who grew up in those different specialties are pretty zealous about what those specialties bring to the game, and they don’t want to lose their identities. I tell people all the time, though, that we’re not trying to homogenize the community or diminish the depth of expertise. What we’re doing is providing a broader experience. We’re doing cross-detailing so we can move from a multidisciplinary group of folks to an interdisciplinary corps, so we can innovate and find answers to some of the far-reaching decisions we’re going to make as we apply these new systems and techniques for information warfare in the future.”


Information dominance as warfighters

The Navy says its information dominance strategy, initiated when it first combined its top officer billets for intelligence and for communications into the job Branch currently holds, is based on the idea that it ought to be able to synthesize skill sets its sailors already hold in various communities across the service into a single warfighting capability.

The eventual goal, Branch said, is to have information dominance leaders sitting at the same table, at the same level as other decision makers in, for example, a carrier strike group.

“We will have arrived when we have our internal audience, the information dominance corps, thinking of themselves as warfighters,” he said. “And probably more importantly, when the rest of the guys, the kinetic guys, the trigger-pullers start thinking of the information dominance corps as warfighters, we’ll get there.”


Extra $26B for DoD Would go Toward ‘Base Budget’ Readiness

Feb. 25, 2014 – 01:13PM | By MARCUS WEISGERBER and JOHN T. BENNETT | Comments


WASHINGTON — The extra $26 billion eyed for the US Defense Department in 2015 would fund readiness initiatives and other “base budget type of stuff,” the Pentagon’s top buyer said.

The comment came Tuesday following Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s Monday announcement that the Pentagon would send a $496 billion 2015 budget proposal to Congress next week. That budget is in line with federal defense spending caps.

The White House Office of Management and Budget has put together a separate $58 billion “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative,” which includes $26 billion in defense spending, Hagel said Monday. The Obama administration plans to find this additional money by closing tax loopholes and reforming spending programs, defense and administration officials said.

The defense money is in addition to DoD’s base budget proposal and separate from Afghanistan war budget proposal, according to DoD officials.

“[T]his is $26 billion that we collectively believe needs to be put back in to get us back up to a standard of readiness and buy back much of the operational shrinkage that we’ve had over the last two years, get us back on a track that we have fallen back from over the last two years of these cuts,” Hagel said referring to spending cuts experienced by DoD in 2013 and 2014.

The Defense Department’s 2015 war budget proposal, called overseas contingency operations (OCO), is not yet completed, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon acquisition chief, told a small group of reporters on Tuesday at a conference sponsored by McAleese and Associates and Credit Suisse.

“I don’t know exactly what’s going to be in OCO. We haven’t finished that yet,” Kendall said. “There’s usually not much in the procurement world in the OCO.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told Defense News he and other lawmakers are eager to see the details of the $26 billion wish list.

Levin said the $26 billion would have to be offset within the federal budget before the funds could be appropriated by Congress due to 2015 spending caps.

The Obama administration has told senior lawmakers it soon will propose what’s known on Capitol Hill as a “pay-for” that would clear space in the federal budget under the caps for the $26 billion in unfunded items.

That offset could include new federal revenues, Levin said. He acknowledged the proposal could meet stiff resistance on the Hill because congressional Republicans’ “default” reaction to Obama administration budget maneuvers that propose new revenues “has been to oppose them.”


Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft

by Press • 27 February 2014


February 26–There are a lot of misconceptions and misinformation about unmanned aircraft system (UAS) regulations. Here are some common myths and the corresponding facts.


Myth #1: The FAA doesn’t control airspace below 400 feet

Fact—The FAA is responsible for the safety of U.S. airspace from the ground up. This misperception may originate with the idea that manned aircraft generally must stay at least 500 feet above the ground


Myth #2: Commercial UAS flights are OK if I’m over private property and stay below 400 feet.

Fact—The FAA published a Federal Register notice in 2007 that clarified the agency’s policy: You may not fly a UAS for commercial purposes by claiming that you’re operating according to the Model Aircraft guidelines (below 400 feet, 3 miles from an airport, away from populated areas.) Commercial operations are only authorized on a case-by-case basis. A commercial flight requires a certified aircraft, a licensed pilot and operating approval. To date, only one operation has met these criteria, using Insitu’s ScanEagle, and authorization was limited to the Arctic.(


Myth #3: Commercial UAS operations are a “gray area” in FAA regulations.


Fact—There are no shades of gray in FAA regulations. Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft—manned or unmanned—in U.S. airspace needs some level of FAA approval. Private sector (civil) users can obtain an experimental airworthiness certificate to conduct research and development, training and flight demonstrations. Commercial UAS operations are limited and require the operator to have certified aircraft and pilots, as well as operating approval. To date, only two UAS models (the Scan Eagle and Aerovironment’s Puma) have been certified, and they can only fly in the Arctic. Public entities (federal, state and local governments, and public universities) may apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). The FAA reviews and approves UAS operations over densely-populated areas on a case-by-case basis.

Flying model aircraft solely for hobby or recreational reasons doesn’t require FAA approval, but hobbyists must operate according to the agency’s model aircraft guidance, which prohibits operations in populated areas.


Myth #4: There are too many commercial UAS operations for the FAA to stop.

Fact—The FAA has to prioritize its safety responsibilities, but the agency is monitoring UAS operations closely. Many times, the FAA learns about suspected commercial UAS operations via a complaint from the public or other businesses. The agency occasionally discovers such operations through the news media or postings on internet sites. When the FAA discovers apparent unauthorized UAS operations, the agency has a number of enforcement tools available to address these operations, including a verbal warning, a warning letter, and an order to stop the operation.


Myth #5: Commercial UAS operations will be OK after September 30, 2015.

Fact—In the 2012 FAA reauthorization legislation, Congress told the FAA to come up with a plan for “safe integration” of UAS by September 30, 2015. Safe integration will be incremental. The agency is still developing regulations, policies and standards that will cover a wide variety of UAS users, and expects to publish a proposed rule for small UAS – under about 55 pounds – later this year. That proposed rule will likely include provisions for commercial operations.


Myth #6: The FAA is lagging behind other countries in approving commercial drones.

Fact – This comparison is flawed. The United States has the busiest, most complex airspace in the world, including many general aviation aircraft that we must consider when planning UAS integration, because those same airplanes and small UAS may occupy the same airspace.

Developing all the rules and standards we need is a very complex task, and we want to make sure we get it right the first time. We want to strike the right balance of requirements for UAS to help foster growth in an emerging industry with a wide range of potential uses, but also keep all airspace users and people on the ground safe.


Myth #7: The FAA predicts as many as 30,000 drones by 2030.


Fact—That figure is outdated. It was an estimate in the FAA’s 2011 Aerospace Forecast. Since then, the agency has refined its prediction to focus on the area of greatest expected growth. The FAA currently estimates as many as 7,500 small commercial UAS may be in use by 2018, assuming the necessary regulations are in place. The number may be updated when the agency publishes the proposed rule on small UAS later this year.


DoD Has a Detailed Sequester Back-Up Plan    

Feb. 26, 2014 – 05:57PM | By MARCUS WEISGERBER | Comments


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has a detailed five-year spending plan that adheres to federal defense spending caps should sequestration return in 2016. Just don’t expect to see it anytime soon.

US Defense Department officials will instead send Congress on March 4 a five-year budget plan that busts existing defense spending caps by $115 billion. That plan will include a “description” of what DoD’s five-year sequester plan looks like, but not the plan itself, Christine Fox, the acting deputy defense secretary, said Wednesday at the American Enterprise Institute think tank.

The DoD budget sent to Capitol Hill next week will adhere to 2015 spending caps set in the two-year Bipartisan Budget Act passed late last year.


“I think that if we tried harder, we couldn’t have made this budget more complicated,” Fox said. “It is very hard to explain. There are actually multiple budgets embedded in this submission.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday outlined some of the choices DoD would make in 2016 if sequestration returns. This includes retiring an aircraft carrier and six other Navy ships, the Air Force KC-10 tanker fleet, suspending Navy F-35 purchases by two years, and shrinking the size of the Army by tens of thousands of soldiers beyond already planned steep force structure cuts.

“In ’15 we’ll kind of hold,” Fox said.

Also in 2015, the Obama administration will submit a separate $26 billion DoD spending request to account for readiness shortfalls caused by sequestration and budget caps.

“This is not a wish list of ‘unfunded priorities’ — instead, this money is intended specifically to close those gaps by allowing us to increase training, upgrade aircraft and weapons systems, and make needed facilities repairs,” James Swartout, Fox’s spokesman, said. “While the Bipartisan Budget Act provided needed stability and some sequestration relief, its funding level for FY15 is too low to support necessary training and the maintenance for the force at its current size.”

At the same time, DoD will not submit an Afghanistan war budget, known as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), next week since it is unclear how many troops, if any, will remain in the country after this year.

“We have a placeholder in the 2015 budget for OCO where we will insert numbers when we have more clarity on possible US troop numbers in Afghanistan going into 2015,” a senior defense official said. “But, no matter the decision on troop levels, we will require FY15 OCO funding — for US operations for items such as reset of equipment and for equipment retrograde. We just don’t know the exact number yet.”


Will Streetlamps Become Information Hubs for Cities?

February 26, 2014

By Tod Newcombe


North America has more than 1 billion street lights. Known as high-intensity discharge lights, they consume lots of energy, contain mercury vapor and most of them are owned by municipalities. Because of energy and maintenance costs, cities have begun turning to LED technology, which lasts longer than ordinary street lights, consumes less energy and doesn’t contain as many hazardous byproducts. San Diego, Detroit, Las Cruces, N.M., and Sequim, Wash., are some of the latest cities to install LED lights.

But LEDs can do more than just save costs. They also can be a platform for a host of technologies that can monitor what is going on in the vicinity of the light pole. Link these so-called intelligent street lights into a network, and you have the makings of a smart city, say experts.

“We’re marrying the Internet with advanced Web services and low-cost miniature electronics, and delivering it as a new service to cities,” said Hugh Martin, CEO of Sensity Systems. Intelligent street lamps can monitor weather, pollution, seismic activity, act as security systems and monitor traffic and parking, according to Martin.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently announced a pilot project, which started in October 2013, that is testing 171 smart LEDs that will act as sophisticated lighting controls and security cameras in one of the airport’s terminals. The cameras are intended to monitor foot traffic in certain areas, as well as keep an eye on unattended baggage. They are also expected to be used for security purposes. Las Vegas is also installing intelligent LED lights that can not only broadcast music, but also record sounds in the vicinity.

Manufacturers of intelligent street lights have emphasized that cities have an opportunity to jumpstart themselves as smart urban centers. Packed with sensors and cameras, this cutting edge technology is capable of controlling the energy costs of street lights, which can consume as much as one-third of a municipality’s energy costs. They can also help tell drivers where parking spaces are available, monitor pollution and could act as information hubs for consumers looking for the latest sales at local retail outlets in the vicinity of the light poles. “There’s a lot of interest among cities in these intelligent lights,” said Martin.

Intelligent LEDS are part of a broader trend in smart city technologies that has taken hold globally. Cities in Spain, Brazil and Southeast Asia have begun to adapt networks of sensor-based technology to monitor and manage everything from water usage to transportation. By 2020, cities around the world are expected to spend $20 billion on sensor technology, according to Navigant Research, a Chicago-based consulting firm.

Retrofitting street lights with LEDs can cost from $200 to $2,000, according to Martin. But they save up to 70 percent of the energy used for traditional lighting. They also last for more than 10 years, compared to just a few years for today’s current lighting technology. Network costs are another $150, but Martin says that overall, the payback on smart streetlights is 2-3 years. And then there’s the benefits that come with all the sensors that can be added on.

But not everyone is thrilled with the capabilities of smart LEDs. Streetlights that can capture nearby conversations, read license plates and record video of people, conjure up visions of Big Brother for privacy advocates. Fred H. Cate, director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research at Indiana University, told The New York Times that the potential for misuse with this kind of technology was “terrifying.”

At Newark’s Liberty International Airport, video footage taken from the LED cameras will be used by the Port Authority for monitoring and security purposes, and would only be shared with other law enforcement agencies that are conducting authorized investigations. Security is one of the key attributes of smart street lights, according to Martin.

How the technology is implemented can make the difference between public acceptance or rejection of it, said Alan Shark, executive director of the Public Technology Institute, an organization that advises local governments on the use of technology. “Transparency is really important,” said Shark. “The public wants a safe environment, but local officials need to make the public aware they are in a surveillance area.”

Just as important is how long cities plan to store any security or surveillance data captured by the smart LEDs. “Six months? Maybe. Anything longer than that raises a red flag,” says Shark.


Inside the Army’s First Field Manual for Cyber Electromagnetic War

Patrick Tucker

February 26, 2014

The Pentagon long has made a big effort to showcase its budding cyberwarfare capabilities. But the military has been less forthcoming about a key, more tangible component of cyber — electronic warfare – until now.

The Army just publically released its first-ever Field Manual for Cyber Electromagnetic Activities. The manual covers operations related to cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, highlighting that for the Army electronic warfare is every bit as important as the cyber threat we hear so much about in abstract.

Electromagnetic spectrum, or ES, is the entire field of electromagnetic radiation that surrounds all of us, including infrared, radar, TV and radio waves. It’s what allows for cellphone and radio communication. The Army’s field manual describes a variety of its electronic warfare, or EW, operations — from sending confusing signals and messages that degrade the enemy’s communication capability on the battlefield to finding enemy equipment and destroying it with big bursts of electromagnetic radiation. (Remember Goldeneye?) The manual does not explain how to conduct specificEW attacks, but it does provide guidance to soldiers on what these sorts of operations look like in terms of protocol, terminology, and command and control. And it comes right as the number of potential electronic warfare operations is growing with every new radio or internet-dependent device that the military buys.

Want to fly a drone? Get directions from the Global Positioning System? Drop a smart bomb? Use radar to land your plane, communicate with a forward operating base on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, find an improvised explosive device or, better yet, detonate one?  Then you’ll need access to the electromagnetic spectrum. Even door locks that use radio-frequency ID, requiring the chipped common access (CAC) IDcard that Army employees carry, use electromagnetic radiation.  

The military has been fighting to maintain spectrum dominance since the days of World War II radio jamming. But reliance on the spectrum is going to grow considerably in the future and take a variety of forms. The lower ends of the spectrum are useful for radio and cell communication, including Bluetooth exchanges. The frequencies at the higher end of the spectrum have applications for things like cruise missile targeting and lasers. Extremely sophisticated (and expensive) military equipment like the Army’s proposed laser truck, which would shoot down enemy drones, might use spectrum frequencies in a wide number of different ways.

But the spectrum doesn’t just represent a weapon. It’s also a gaping vulnerability. The U.S. doesn’t have a monopoly on the atom-sized units of energy that make up electromagnetic radiation. In the last few years, off-the-shelf pieces of wireless communications equipment have allowed everyone from hobbyists to terrorists to access the spectrum cheaply and easily. In the past decade, as more wireless consumer electronics flooded the marketplace, that vulnerability has taken the form of IEDs on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan (as well as the streets of Boston during the 2013 marathon bombing).

To patch the hole, the Army established a new career field dedicated to electronic warfare in 2009. Unfortunately, the military’s reliance on the spectrum might be growing faster than our ability to keep hold of it.

“The American military is scrambling to develop new tools and techniques that will help it preserve its electromagnetic edge,” according to Wired’s Brendan Koerner. “But that edge continues to shrink by the day, and very soon our inability to completely control the spectrum might result in a different kind of war.”

It’s an issue that the Defense Department publicaly addressed again last week with the release of its Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy.There’s a push to use the spectrum much more efficiently as the military seeks to access much more of it. That’s either an irreconcilable conflict of wants and available resources or a very delicate balancing act. DOD contends it’s the later. “We are not certainly making the assumption that DODwill have to make do with less spectrum,” said the Pentagon’s chief information officer, Teri Taki.

On the cyber side, the manual offers detailed descriptions of who responds to whom in an cyber-operation and how the various roles differ; priority lists for unit activities (hint: defend first, then attack); functions of cyberspace operations; how to prepare the intelligence battlefield; what to attack in order to achieve what goals; and the multinational and legal considerations for various actions.

Both cyber operations and spectrum warfare fall under the category of electronic communication. But experts who saw the manual disagreed, somewhat, on the decision to group the two together in one field guide. Do IEDs and denial-of-service attacks really have that much in common?

“There has been some debate about how traditional EW capacity will play with newer cyber operations. While there are strong similarities, cyber operations have a broader range of capacities than the traditional EW strategic role, and can support a wider range of operations. Similarly, the counter-EW capacity has a more limited scope than the huge needs to defend our military infrastructure from cyber exploitation and disruption,” Allan Friedman, co-author of the book Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know told Defense One.

Retired Lt. Gen. Robert Elder, a George Mason University research professor and former Air Force cyber officer, argues that electronic warfare and cyber warfare indeed are closely related and should be treated as such. “The new [field manual] makes it clear that conducting these activities independently may detract from their efficient employment,” he said. “This provides a useful mechanism for the traditional and [cyber electromagnetic activities] communities to effectively communicate with one another.”

The overlap between EW operations, related to drones, communications, and improvised explosive devices on the battlefield, and cyberwarfare, which we commonly think of as being about ones, zeros and spam, shows that the Army is evolving its view of both fields.

For U.S. soldiers, according to this new manual, cyber and electronic are the same. Eventually the term cyberwar may soon become obsolete. It might be time to just call it war. 



Unmanned aircraft taking to Texas skies for FAA testing

by Press • 27 February 2014


Increasing numbers of aircraft are taking to the Texas skies unmanned.

Texas was selected as one of six states to participate in testing and research for the Federal Aviation Administration’s plan to integrate rules and regulations for drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), by 2015.

The state has one of the largest test sites ranging from West Texas to the Gulf Coast to the Brazos Valley.

Some corporations, like Amazon, have already shown an interest in using drones as delivery drivers.

With the increasing numbers of unregulated UAS taking to the skies, it has many concerned with not only safety, but privacy, as well.

The UAS crafts generally only weigh a few pounds, and while most stay near their owner or operator, others can go miles away from home.

“People see [drones] and they think it’s an alien; it’s just too different,” said drone owner Robert Dodd. “But it really is nothing more than a remote controlled airplane. That’s all it is.”

Drone usage has existed for years, starting with mainly military use. The Department of Homeland Security uses drones along the Texas border with Mexico.

The Federal Aviation Administration is expecting thousands of drone aircraft to be introduced to the skies over the next several years, and they want universities to help them develop the roadmap.

Texas A&M Corpus Christi, along with several other campuses across the state, is testing and helping with that roadmap for future use.

“The reason Texas is one of the six selected is because of geographic diversity,” Dr. John Valasek, Texas A&M Center for Autonomous Vehicles And Sensor Systems (CANVASS), said.

“Texas has mountains, prairies, deserts, forests and seashore, and that’s a unique combination.”

Texas A&M is using a former U.S. Army Airfield near Bryan to test crafts’ control and certification. Researchers will also be looking into easing the public’s fears regarding the unmanned craft.

“What we’re really trying to do is to establish trust in autonomous systems with the public and with people,” Valasek said. “Because autonomous systems, no matter what kind they are, are going to be interacting with us on a daily basis.”

Students at Texas A&M University designed and built the fleet that will be used for FAA testing at the Texas A&M Riverside Campus.

They said their testing has been close to home, so far, but expect future flights to go out for several miles.

“A lot of our operations have been manual flying so we’ll have a pilot on the ground manually controlling them with radio, and that makes it so we have to fly within visual range of them,” graduate student researcher Jim Henrickson said.

The Texas Legislature took steps in the 2013 session to make sure they are staying with the advancing technology.

“The main concerns are about privacy and private property and that sort of thing,” said State Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola.

Hughes was one of several co-sponsors of a bill authored by Terrell Representative Lance Gooden that defines proper drone usage.

The law includes several exemptions for education and research and defines how law enforcement can use drones properly.

“We tried to put in all the exceptions to allow law enforcement to do what they do,” Hughes said. “We want to give them the tools they need. At the same time,we recognize that when our founders passed the Fourth Amendment, they were limiting what government and law enforcement can do.”

Violations of the law carry with them a misdemeanor penalty. Taking an image in violation of the law would be a class C misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500. Distributing or using that image for commercial use would be a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and/or confinement in jail of up to 180 days.

Texas is one of just nine states with laws on the books for drone aircraft, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Lawmakers say with the technology still changing, the legislature will have to keep checking to see if changes need to be made.

“Technology is moving fast, which is great,” Rep. Hughes said. “We just have to make sure that the law is keeping up.”

The FAA UAS testing ongoing in Texas is expected to have an $8 billion impact on the state’s economy. The UAS industry is expected to create around 1,200 jobs.


Putin’s Post-Olympic Power Play in Ukraine

NATO sits helpless as Putin continues to assert Russia’s influence in Ukraine.


The Fiscal Times

February 28, 2014


Russia’s troops are conducting emergency military exercises as its jets patrol its borders. An Eastern European country is in chaos over an internal split about whether the country should be aligned with Europe or Moscow. A deposed and friendless leader is swept away by helicopter under Russian protection. Western military chiefs meet in Brussels to try to come up with a response to keep a fragile peace while limiting Russia’s influence.

This could be the plot of a Tom Clancy Cold War thriller. They are the latest events in the international standoff over Ukraine.

After President Viktor Yanukovych was escorted to a safe house outside of Moscow Thursday – “I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists,” he said, according to Russian news agencies – Ukraine’s parliament then approved Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the interim leader of the country. But few eyes are turning to Kiev to predict what happens next.

Nearly all eyes are on Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Perhaps emboldened by Russia’s success at Sochi, Putin has made power play after power play to exert his influence over Ukraine.

Since the end of the games, Putin has stayed silent, but his actions speak louder than any words could. He ordered military drills that have raised concerns of invasion. He has flown jets near Russia’s Ukrainian border as a show of force. He’s given Yanukovych cover to get out of the country.

What he’s done that is not known is perhaps more troubling. As a former KGB agent, Putin is well schooled in political provocation and diversion, or seemingly unrelated incidents that are part of a larger, secret strategy. For instance, in Georgia in 2008, Russian spies offered passports to residents of South Ossettia, part of Georgia – then invaded it. They did the same thing in Moldova, with an area of the country called Transnistria.

Could Putin be doing the same thing in Ukraine? There have been a number of bizarre incidents. For example, why did Yanukovych pull guards from all government buildings when he left Kiev, opening them to looters and the opposition? This could create the appearance of a coup. There have also been a number of incidents where Molotov cocktails have been thrown at synagogues, despite Ukraine not having a history of anti-Semitism.

“In the current political environment, it’s important to ask: Did they come from real anti-Semites? From paid agents? From both?” asked Anne Applebaum, a journalist who specializes in Eastern Europe.

These kinds of provocations could tear Ukraine, which is already bursting at its seams, apart. The southern island of Crimea, which has its own constitution but is technically a part of Ukraine, has been taken over by masked pro-Russian gunmen, who stormed the government building and raised Russian flags.

Oleksandr Turchynov, who stepped in as acting president after Yanukovych left Kiev, called these actions a “crime against the government of Ukraine.”

“Unidentified people with automatic weapons, explosives and grenades have taken over the governmental buildings and the Parliament building in the autonomous region of Crimea,” he said. “I have given orders to the military to use all methods necessary to protect the citizens, punish the criminals and to free the buildings.

Meanwhile, mainland Ukraine remains polarized, with pro-Europeans in the west and pro-Russians in the east. This, combined with Crimea, raises the prospect of Civil War.


NATO Seemingly Powerless

Despite the dire situation, NATO and the United States appear powerless to stop it. After a meeting with other defense ministers in Brussels, U.S. defense chief Chuck Hagel could only urge Russia not to get involved.

“These are times for cool, wise leadership on Russia’s side and everyone’s side,” Hagel said yesterday. “Until we know more details, what really happened, who’s in charge, the focus should be on let’s keep the tensions down, let’s see no provocative actions by anyone, any military.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that the Ukraine crisis was not a Cold War game, despite it having all the trappings of one. “This is not ‘Rocky IV.’ It is not a zero-sum game,” Kerry said during a roundtable with reporters.

“We do not view it through the lens of East-West or Russia-the U.S. or anything else. We view it as an example of people within a sovereign nation who are expressing their desire to choose their future.”


SecAF discusses Air Force future, budget during defense summit

By Rich Lamance, Air Force News Service / Published February 28, 2014


WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Defense industry leaders and analysts received an insight into the proposed Air Force transformation and a preview of the Fiscal Year 2015 Air Force budget during the Bloomberg Government Defense Transformation Spending and Strategy Summit Feb. 26.


Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said the Air Force, like the rest of the Department of Defense, is going through a transition period following 13 years of war, and will be making tough choices as personnel and budgets dwindle and the possibility of sequestration looms during the years ahead.

“We are repositioning to focus on the challenges and opportunities that will define our future,” said James. “We have to get ready for the new centers of power, such as the Pacific, and what will be a more volatile and unpredictable world. A world we can no longer take for granted.

“We can no longer assume, as we have over the past 50 years, to dominate the skies, and more recently dominate space. Many other countries are advancing their technologies, so we need to prepare now, not only for that world 10 years from now, but also today. It comes down to balance. That is the strategy.”

James said during times when strategy and budgets don’t match, the Air Force has to make judgment calls, looking at which risks are prudent and which are less so.

Specifically, she referenced tough decisions in the areas of personnel downsizing, force shaping measures, and investments in the future, highlighting the impact with and without sequestration. While the services have received some relief in Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015, she said that for Fiscal Years 2016 through 2019, the president has asked Congress for a defense budget $115 billion above the sequestration level, with the Air Force getting a share of roughly $34 billion.

“We’re doing this because we believe that sequestration-level spending will compromise our security. It will compromise in the short term on readiness and in the longer run on important modernization programs.”

On the manpower side, James said the force will get smaller with a cut of up to 25,000 Airmen, mostly from the active duty over the next five years, and each service has also been tasked to trim headquarters spending by 20 percent over a five-year period.

“We looked at some of the overlapping organizations and how they can be combined more efficiently. We need to centralize policy and oversight of installation support in such areas as engineering, security forces and contracting, among others. We want to reduce some of the tasks that are not required by law, and in doing so, we won’t foist extra work on fewer people.”

James told the audience that in the area of force structure, the Air Force looks at vertical cuts, eliminating entire fleets of aircraft instead of taking horizontal cuts that “take a few from here and a few from there.” She said one example is the A-10, retiring about 283 close air support aircraft, beginning in FY 2015. She said the retirement of the fleet will save more than 3 and a half billion dollars over five years, with no degradation to the close air support mission.

“We chose the A-10 because it’s a single purpose aircraft, with a very important mission, but we have other aircraft like the AC-130, the F-15 Eagle, the F-16 Falcon, the B-1 Lancer and the B-52 Stratofortress that can also do that mission. All are dual or multi-purpose aircraft. In fact, 80 percent of all close air support in Afghanistan has been accomplished by aircraft other than the A-10.”

James told the audience that the U-2 has also been marked for retirement, beginning in the FY 2016 and FY 2017 timeframe. The Secretary said that keeping both the U-2 and the Global Hawk were too expensive and that they both give more high altitude reconnaissance than the Air Force needs. She added that initially the Global Hawk was earmarked for retirement because of its expense to maintain, but advances in technology over the past couple of years have made the U-2 more costly and the Global Hawk less.

Even some of the expansions, such as combat air patrols like the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Reaper will increase more gradually than originally planned. She said initially the Air Force wanted to increase the number from 50 to 65, but with Afghanistan winding down, there won’t be a need for as great a capability. She said the plan is to slowly phase out the Predators and have an all MQ-9 Reaper inventory.

James also talked about investments the Air Force wants to make, committing to the F-35 Lightning II, the new tanker, the KC-46 Pegasus, and the long-range strike bomber. She said the Air Force also wants to invest in readiness, stay committed to the triad of ICBM and bombers and invest a billion dollars in jet engine technology that promises reduced fuel consumption and lower maintenance.

But the Secretary emphasized that sequestration is still the law of the land, and if the Air Force is forced to revert to sequestration limits, as much as $34 billion will be reduced from the budget.

In addition, the Air Force would be forced to retire 80 more aircraft, completely retiring the KC-10 tanker inventory; defer sensor upgrades to the Global Hawk; purchase 19 fewer F-35s over the five year defense plan, and have 10 fewer combat air patrols. Also, funds for the next generation jet engine program will not be available.

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer participated on the panel with James and addressed issues from Airmen morale to force structure and acquisition costs, to include working to keep requirement costs under control during development.

“What has happened in the past when we’ve developed new platforms … is the price just starts to skyrocket as people want to put more and more stuff on it,” Spencer said. “As technology changes, people want more and more capability. We have had to turn back the temptation to put more on the [long-range strike] bomber. But I can tell you, the people working on this program are really working hard to get us the capability we need for that price, which is what we want.”

James told the audience that “tomorrow’s Air Force has to be the most agile, credible and affordable one we can provide. Our job, today and in the future is to fly, fight and win our nation’s wars. We feel that by making the tough choices today, we will set ourselves on a path to be the most modern and ready Air Force in the world, albeit a smaller one.”


Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, March 01, 2014

It’s tax time, and Americans aren’t in much of a spending mood.

Support for raising the federal minimum wage has fallen following a new Congressional Budget Office report that says the tax hike could cost 500,000 people their jobs. Fifty percent (50%) of Americans favor raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour, but that’s down from 55% in late January and 61% in July. When presented with the CBO findings, support for raising the minimum wage drops 11 points to 39%.

What else does America think about raising the minimum wage? 

Nearly half (48%) of voters favor the new $302 billion roads and bridges plan President Obama proposed this week, but 56% think cutting government spending would do more to help the economy than increased spending on infrastructure.

Knowing the government ultimately lost money on the auto bailouts, 34% still consider them a success, but 50% say the bailouts were a failure.

Sixty-one percent (61%) still prefer a smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes over a more active one with more services and higher taxes. Fifty-nine percent (59%) continue to view the federal government unfavorably.

In the face of a public outcry, the Federal Communications Commission has backed off a plan to determine if the news media is meeting the public’s “critical information needs.” Seventy-one percent (71%) of voters say it is not the government’s role to monitor the content of news organizations in this country. Seventy-six percent (76%) are worried that the FCC’s analysis of news content will lead to government efforts to control the news media or promote a political agenda.

Voters remain almost evenly divided over the new government requirement that every American must have health insurance.

The president’s daily job approval ratings are little changed, holding at levels seen for much of his presidency.

Democrats hold a four-point lead over Republicans for the second week in a row on the Generic Congressional Ballot.

Republicans need to pick up six seats to take control of the U.S. Senate, and they hold solid leads in two states where Democrats are retiring. Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito posts a 14-point lead over Democrat Natalie Tennant in West Virginia, while former Governor Mike Rounds has a commanding lead over Democrat Rick Weiland in South Dakota 

A third of Americans have already filed their income taxes this year, but slightly fewer (45%) expect to get a refund.

Seventy-one percent (71%) believe most Americans try to be honest when filing their taxes.

But many also still think they pay more than their fair share. Fifty percent (50%) believe someone who makes twice as much money as they do pays less than twice as much in taxes. Similarly, a plurality (45%) thinks someone who makes half as much money as they do pays less than half as much in taxes.

Just six percent (6%) believe the United States has the best tax system in the world. 

At week’s end, consumers and investors remained slightly more pessimistic than optimistic about the U.S. economy. 

Most Americans (66%) don’t want a religious freedom law in their state like the one vetoed this week by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, but 73% support a private photographer’s right to not photograph a same-sex wedding for religious reasons.

Supporters of the law in Arizona cite the case of a New Mexico photographer who was sued for turning down a same-sex wedding for religious reasons as an example of why there is a need for a religious freedom law. Opponents argue that the law opens the door to widespread anti-gay discrimination.

In other surveys this week:

— Thirty-two percent (32%) of Likely U.S. Voters think the country is heading in the right direction. That’s the highest level of optimism since the first week of June 2013.

— Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Americans believe it is harder for a teacher to maintain discipline in the classroom today than it was when they were in school.

— Despite the Mexican government’s capture last weekend of perhaps the world’s most powerful drug lord, 65% of U.S. voters don’t believe the Mexican government has been aggressive enough in its efforts to stop illegal drug traffickers in Mexico.

Just 17% think the United States should get more directly involved in Ukraine if the political violence continues there.

— Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard holds a 63% to 23% lead over Democratic challenger Joe Lowe in South Dakota’s 2014 gubernatorial race.

— Twenty percent (20%) of Americans say they are at least somewhat likely to use a digital currency like Bitcoin in the next five years, but that includes only four percent (4%) who say they are Very Likely to do so.

There’s a nationwide clown shortage, but that’s okay with the 43% who don’t like clowns.


From → Uncategorized

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: