HASC NDAA Schedule. The House Armed Services has officially announced its full committee markup of the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act will be held on June 22. The full subcommittee markup schedule, released on May 10, includes the panel’s Cyber, Strategic Forces, Seapower and Military Personnel subcommittees holding their markups on June 8. The Tactical Air and Land Forces, Readiness and Intelligence and Special Operational subcommittees will meet on June 9 for their NDAA markup. 

R&E Reorg. The Pentagon’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering has announced a reorganization effort that will re-designate three of its directors of defense research and engineering as deputy chief technology officers. “Taken holistically, these changes will posture our organization to work at speed and increase collaboration both inside and outside the Department,” Heidi Shyu, the office’s leader, said in a statement. The new deputy chief technology officer for science and technology will focus on “foundational research and development to include basic research, innovation workforce issues, technology protection, laboratory infrastructure, and small business programs, according to the announcement. Meanwhile, a second deputy chief technology officer will focus on critical technology areas while the third such official will focus on “mission engineering, mission integration, joint operations, prototyping, experimentation, and rapid transition.”

Finland/NATO. Finland’s prime minister and president released a joint statement on May 12 announcing their official support for having their country join NATO. “As a member of NATO, Finland would strengthen the entire defense alliance. Finland must apply for NATO membership without delay. We hope that the national steps still needed to make this decision will be taken rapidly within the next few days,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin and President Sauli Niinistö wrote in the statement. If Finland joins NATO, it would become the 31st member nation, and would represent a significant expansion of the defense alliance’s presence along the border with Russia.

Murray Joins Board. Recently retired Army four-star Gen. Mike Murray, the first leader of Army Futures Command, will serve as a strategic adviser to Vita Inclinata’s board of directors, the company said May 10. Vita Inclinata describes itself as a “developer and producer of precision aerospace and industrial stabilization devices.” “I firmly believe that the technology Vita is delivering to our warfighters will make MEDEVAC operations safer and ultimately save lives,” Murray said in a statement. “I’m committed to helping Vita disrupt traditional U.S. government contract development by identifying solutions to ‘cross the valley of death.’ For too many years, the U.S. Army has relied entirely on the innovation of the traditional defense industry and has not taken advantage of small company break-through technologies such as the Vita Rescue System.” Murray retired from the Army in December after shepherding the modernization-focused Futures Command since its inception in 2018.

Four Months. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel at a May 13 hearing that the service would take four months to finalize a permanent location for U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM), including service review of Pentagon Inspector General and Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports on the Jan. 13, 2021 Air Force selection of Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. “We do need to see the final reports and assess those,” Kendall said, adding that the final selection process, which “normally would take about four months–three months…[for] assessments and then a month of public comment,” would also include an assessment of environmental impacts and a review of the six acceptable locations for USSPACECOM. “Representing northern Alabama, I can personally tell you that Huntsville does have a perfect combination of defense experts, businesses, skilled workers, educational opportunities, and quality of life that will help Space Command accelerate our nation’s capabilities into the next generation,” Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) said at the hearing. “I look forward to seeing the GAO report when it’s released, as I understand it’ll be, any day now.” On May 13 GAO released a restricted access report, U.S. Space Command: Air Force Should Develop Guidance for Strengthening Future Basing Decisions.

Moving Targets. The Air Force is requesting $115 million for research and development (R&D) in fiscal 2023 for the Lockheed Martin Air Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW). That amount is a decrease of more than $200 million from last year—a drop due to three ARRW flight test failures. Yet, the Air Force is also asking for $317 million for R&D on the air-breathing Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile (HACM) in fiscal 2023, and Kendall says that air-breathing hypersonic missiles using scramjet engines have shown more promise thus far for the U.S. than hypersonic glide vehicles. “Overall, what we need to get to with hypersonics is the ability to engage moving targets,” Kendall says. “Current systems are generally designed for fixed targets, and there are some fixed targets that we might want hypersonics to attack cost effectively, but for the future we want to get to another class of targets.” For two decades, the U.S. has researched hypersonic missiles for conventional prompt global strike but has only recently begun to take them seriously, in no small part due to China’s and Russia’s reported advances in hypersonic glide technologies.

DDG-121. The Navy plans to commission the newest Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the future USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG 121), during a ceremony on May 14 in Charleston, S.C. The ship is named after the first Black Marine Corps aviator and officer promoted to brigadier general. DDG-121 was built by HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., was first launched in July 2018, and delivered to the Navy in November 2021. After being commissioned, Petersen will sail to its new homeport at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Navy Nominations. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced President Biden has nominated several Navy positions on May 11. This includes nominating Rear Adm. Michael Boyle, director of maritime operations and U.S. Pacific Fleet to be vice admiral and commander of 3rd Fleet. Rear Adm. Frank Bradley is nominated to become vice admiral and assigned as commander of Joint Special Operations Command and Joint Special Operations Command Forward, U.S. Special Operations Command. Bradley currently serves as commander of Special Operations Command Central. Rear Adm. Richard Correll was nominated as vice admiral and assigned as deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command. He currently serves as director of Strategic Innovation, N2/N6 at the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. 

Medical Ships. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday this week touted the utility of building two Spearhead-class T-EPFs ships as medical ships, called EMSs. Speaking before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on May 11, Gilday said the Navy is exploring their utility in addition to extending the life of the USNS Mercy and Comfort hospital ships. “We’re taking a look at providing a medical capability on two of the EPFs that we’re building. And so instead of building a new hospital ship, we’re taking a ship that, essentially a large ship that is really multi-function, it’s really a Swiss army knife, and we’re putting a medical capability on there. And so that is our quickest way to add capacity in that mission set.” Gilday said the utility of the EPFs will be looked at again after the initial two EMSs are finished and operating. “We can see whether or not we should scale that further. Whether or not that’s satisfactory, but I think it allows us to close the capability gap rather quickly.” Navy FY ‘23 budget request documents note EPF-14,-15 and -16 will have modifications to conduct a Role 2 Enhanced medical transport mission with enhanced medical capability and EPF-17 will be the first EMS variant with even more medical capabilities.

…LAW Delay. The CNO also elaborated on why the Navy is pushing back procurement and delivery of the Light Amphibious Warships to 2025 and 2028, respectively. Gilday argued it is to prevent the Navy from stumbling and repeating mistakes from previous ship classes with problems like the Zumwalt-class or Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). “I’m not sure I’d look at it as a delay, we need to get that right. So if we take a look at where we are with LCS, where we’ve been with Zumwalt, where we’ve been with the Ford-class aircraft carrier, we know what wrong looks like in terms of stumbling, we don’t want to stumble with LAW.” The CNO said when the Navy buys and fields the new amphibious ship “we want to make sure that we’re highly confident, that we want to double down and scale it.” Gilday admitted, “we haven’t had the best track record of procurement, as you’re aware, we want to make sure that in this case, we get it right.”

Space Industrial Base. The U.S. Space Force is planning to buy larger numbers of less expensive, smaller satellites for national security purposes, and Gen. David Thompson, the vice chief of space operations, says that the space industrial base “is as ready as it has been in the last several decades” to ramp up production. “We’ve maintained some capability in terms of the production of our current satellites and some of the investments in technology and prototyping, but a great portion of the industrial base is expanding because of commercial investment, and while there are some specific aspects of military/national security space systems that don’t lend themselves to commercial investment, the vast majority of the operating techniques, the subsystems used, would apply both to commercial investment and military/national security investment.”

Finish Line Nears. The Department of Homeland Security says it is nearing the end of its evaluation of Phase I proposals for its FirstSource III information technology contract and plans one more update to industry before the release of downselect notices. The delay in the downselect notices, which had been expected last September, is being driven by the volume of proposals the department received for the multiple-award, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. Last fall, DHS said it received 637 offers from 325 vendors. FirstSource III is potentially worth $10 billion over 10 years.

Key Cyber Hires. The Office of the National Cyber Director last week announced three key hires to help lead the relatively new office, with Kemba Walden as the principal deputy national cyber director and Neal Higgins and Rob Knake as deputy national cyber directors for national cybersecurity, and strategy and budget, respectively. Walden will join the office from Microsoft where she was an assistant general counsel in the Digital Crimes Unit and previously worked at the Department of Homeland Security, including the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Higgins previously served as associate deputy director for digital innovation at the CIA, responsible for cyber operations, open-source collection, data science and secure global communications. Knake previously was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and Harvard’s Belfer Center’s Cyber Project, a cybersecurity consultant, and worked at DHS during the Obama administration at the predecessor office to CISA. Chris Inglis is the national cyber director.

…More People News. L3Harris Technologies has elected Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue Airways Corp., to its board of directors, expanding the board to 14 members. Geraghty,49, “brings deep expertise and experience and experience across business, operations, technology and talent domains, including from her current role leading operations for a major U.S. airline,” said L3Harris Executive Chair William Brown. Serco’s North American division has hired Terri Malone as chief growth officer and senior vice president. Malone joined Serco, Inc., from Northrop Grumman where he most recently was vice president of the Mission Readiness and Protective Systems business unit.

Cyber Bills Head to Prez. The House last week passed two cybersecurity bills that previously passed the Senate and now head to President Biden for his signature. The Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act allows cybersecurity professionals in the federal government to rotate among agencies, allowing personnel to gain more experience, expand their professional network and enhance their careers while giving agencies new ways to attract and retain talent. The Supply Chain Security Training Act directs the General Services Administration to create a training program to help federal agency officials involved with supply chain risk management to identify and mitigate security risks throughout the acquisition lifecycle, including for information and communications technology.

Expanding Responsibilities. The U.S. last week as part of Special Summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Washington, D.C., committed the U.S. Coast Guard to lead a number of new maritime initiatives, including deploying a cutter to Southeast Asia and Oceania to help countries with training and multinational engagements, and help counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The Coast Guard will also prioritize the transfer of cutters it decommissions to ASEAN members to bolster their maritime law enforcement capacity.