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Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Chinese Military Modernization and Force Development: Chinese and Outside Perspectives
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

The goal behind this report is not to present the authors’ view of the balance, but rather to provide the basis for an unclassified dialogue on the military developments in China, including the size and structure of the country’s current and planned military forces. It draws on official US, Chinese, and other Asian official reporting, as well as the work of other scholars and the data bases developed by the IISS and Jane’s in an effort to compare different views of Chinese strategy and military developments, and is meant to provide US, Chinese, and other analysts with a better basis for understanding Western estimates of the changes in Chinese force strength and force quality.

The United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) face a critical need to improve their understanding of how each is developing its military power and how to avoid forms of military competition that could lead to rising tension or conflict between the two states. This report focuses on China’s military developments and modernization and how they are perceived in the UIS, the West, and Asia. It utilizes the unclassified data available in the West on the trends in Chinese military forces. It relies heavily on the data in the US Department of Defense (DoD) Report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China, particularly the 2013 and 2014 editions.

It relies heavily on the annual military balances compiled by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), though a range of sources are included. It should be noted that this report focuses on Chinese forces, and therefore presents only one side of the US and Chinese balance and the security situation in Asia. It also draws upon a Burke Chair report entitled The Evolving Military Balance in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, looking at the bilateral US-Chinese balance in more detail.

Accordingly, it focuses on the actual changes taking place in Chinese forces, and it provides a detailed analysis detailed analysis of the trends in Chinese military forces since 1985, examining how the often-conflicting trends in outside sources interact with reporting on Chinese military spending and strategy. It also shows that important changes are taking place in US strategy and that these changes must be considered when evaluating Chinese actions.

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Defense offsets: From ‘contractual burden’ to competitive weapon

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Defense offsets: From ‘contractual burden’ to competitive weapon
Source: McKinsey & Company

Western defense companies now need to look outside their core markets for growth. In the aftermath of the global economic crisis and over a decade of engagement in southwest Asia, many Western countries have scaled back their defense budgets, favoring instead more targeted spending and austerity plans. In Europe, ministries of defense are downsizing their military operations and procurement programs, and in the United States, the effects of the Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration will restrict defense spending through 2021 absent congressional action. By contrast, many countries representing addressable markets in Asia, the Middle East, and South America are investing in defense-modernization programs and over the past few years have increased their defense spending at compound annual growth rates of between 5 and 10 percent.

VA OIG — Administrative Investigation, Prohibited Personnel Practice and Preferential Treatment, National Cemetery Administration, VA Central Office

July 22, 2014 Comments off

Administrative Investigation, Prohibited Personnel Practice and Preferential Treatment, National Cemetery Administration, VA Central Office (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General

The former Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs engaged in a prohibited personnel practice when he created a position and preselected an employee for that position. He also engaged in preferential treatment of an NCA contractor when he developed a less-than-arm’s-length relationship with the contractor. Further, NCA improperly gave the contractor sole-source contracts to provide one-to-one services to select NCA employees.

DOG OIG — Development and Implementation of Sexual Assault Evidence and Criminal Records Retention Policy

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Development and Implementation of Sexual Assault Evidence and Criminal Records Retention Policy
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

Objective
We initiated this review as required by the “National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014.” Our objective was to review the Military Criminal Investigative Organizations’[1] (MCIO) progress in implementing DoD policy on the retention of and access to evidence and criminal records relating to sexual assault of service members as required by “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012,” and Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 5505.18, “Investigation of Adult Sexual Assault in the Department of Defense,” January 25, 2013, Incorporating Change 1, May 1, 2013.

Findings
DoD has developed policy for retaining and accessing evidence and criminal records for sexual assault victims as required by NDAA FY 2012. The MCIOs have issued Service-specific policies and procedures to implement Federal law and DoD guidance.

Recommendations
None.

Management Comments
No written response to this report was required.

Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan: Implications for the U.S. Drawdown

July 18, 2014 Comments off

Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan: Implications for the U.S. Drawdown
Source: RAND Corporation

This study explores Iranian influence in Afghanistan and the implications for the United States after the departure of most American forces from Afghanistan. Iran has substantial economic, political, cultural, and religious leverage in Afghanistan. Kabul faces an obdurate insurgency that is likely to exploit the U.S. and international drawdown. The Afghan government will also face many economic difficulties in future years, and Afghanistan is highly dependent on international economic aid. Additionally, the biggest problem facing Afghanistan may be political corruption. Iranian influence in Afghanistan following the drawdown of international forces need not necessarily be a cause of concern for the United States though. Although Tehran will use its cultural, political, and economic sway in an attempt to shape a post-2016 Afghanistan, Iran and the United States share core interests there: to prevent the country from again becoming dominated by the Taliban and a safe haven for al Qaeda.

This study examines Iran’s historic interests in Afghanistan and its current policies in that country, and explores the potential implications for U.S. policy. The research is based on field interviews in Afghanistan, the use of primary sources in Dari and Persian, and scholarly research in English.

New From the GAO

July 17, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. National Nuclear Security Administration: Agency Expanded Use of Some Federal Oversight Reforms, but Is Still Determining Future Plans. GAO-14-588, July 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-588
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664836.pdf

2. Missile Defense: DOD’s Report Provides Limited Insight on Improvements to Homeland Missile Defense and Acquisition Plans. GAO-14-626R, July 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-626R

3. Information Security: FDIC Made Progress in Securing Key Financial Systems, but Weaknesses Remain. GAO-14-674, July 17.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-674
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664841.pdf

Why Is Veteran Unemployment So High?

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Why Is Veteran Unemployment So High?
Source: RAND Corporation

According to official statistics, the unemployment rate of young military veterans ages 18-24 reached 29 percent in 2011. This report seeks to put that statistic in perspective by examining the historical time-series of veteran unemployment, comparing the veteran unemployment rate to that of non-veterans, and examining how veteran unemployment varies with time since military separation. Between 2000 and 2011, younger veterans were, on average, 3.4 percentage points more likely to be unemployed than similarly situated younger non-veterans. However, this difference between veteran and non-veteran unemployment falls rapidly with age and time since military separation. The report concludes that the best available evidence supports the hypothesis that relatively high rates of veteran unemployment reflect the fact that veterans, especially younger veterans, are more likely to have recently separated from a job — namely, military service — and, consequently, are more likely to be engaged in job search, which takes time, especially during periods of slow economic growth. The available evidence lends little support to the hypothesis that veterans are inherently disadvantaged in the civilian labor market. Limiting unemployment benefits available to recently separated veterans would likely reduce the length of unemployment spells, but the net effect of such a policy action on the long-term federal budget is unclear. There is very limited evidence on the effectiveness of other federal policies aimed at facilitating the transition of veterans into the civilian labor market.

New From the GAO

July 15, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Report

1. Medicaid Payment: Comparisons of Selected Services under Fee-for-Service, Managed Care, and Private Insurance. GAO-14-533, July 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-533
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664783.pdf

Testimonies

1. VA Disability Claims Processing: Preliminary Observations on Accuracy Rates and Quality Assurance Activities, by Daniel Bertoni, director, education, workforce and income security issues, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-14-731T, July 14.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-731T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664762.pdf

2. Helium Program: BLM’s Implementation of the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013, by Anne-Marie Fennell, director, natural resources and environment, before the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, House Committee on Natural Resources. GAO-14-751T, July 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-751T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664778.pdf

3. Federal Workforce: Human Capital Management Challenges and the Path to Reform, by Robert Goldenkoff, director, strategic issues, before the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and the Census, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-14-723T, July 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-723T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664773.pdf

VA OIG — Review of the Special Initiative To Process Rating Claims Pending Over 2 Years

July 15, 2014 Comments off

Review of the Special Initiative To Process Rating Claims Pending Over 2 Years (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General

On April 19, 2013, the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) began a Special Initiative to process all claims pending over 2 years. VA Regional Office (VARO) staff were to issue provisional ratings for cases awaiting required evidence and complete these older claims within 60 days. Our review focused on whether (1) provisional ratings resulted in veterans receiving benefits more quickly and helped eliminate the backlog, and (2) older claims were accurately. The Special Initiative rating process was less effective than VBA’s existing rating process in providing benefits to veterans quickly. Further, VBA removed all provisional claims from its pending inventory, despite more work being needed to complete them. This process misrepresented VBA’s actual workload of pending claims and its progress toward eliminating the overall claims backlog. At the end of June 2013 following completion of the Special Initiative, VBA reported 516,922 rating claims pending in its backlog, but only 1,258 rating claims pending over 2 years. We estimated 7,823 provisionally rated claims had been removed from the inventory though they still awaited final decisions. These claims represented less than 2 percent of VBA’s reported backlog, but about 12 percent of claims completed under the Initiative. VAROs did not prioritize finalization of the provisionally rated claims once they were issued. We estimated 6,860 provisional ratings were still waiting for final decisions as of January 2014, 6 months after the Initiative had ended. Because VBA did not ensure existing controls were functioning as needed to effectively identify and manage provisionally rated claims, some veterans may never have received final rating decisions if not for our review. Additionally, VBA did not accurately process 77 (32 percent) of 240 rating decisions we reviewed under this Initiative. Generally, these errors occurred because VAROs felt pressured to complete these claims within VBA’s 60 day deadline. We estimated VARO staff inaccurately processed 17,600 of 56,500 claims, resulting in $40.4 million in improper payments during the Initiative period. We recommended the Under Secretary for Benefits establish controls for all provisionally-rated claims, reflect these claims in VBA’s pending workload statistics, expedite finalization of provisional ratings, and review for accuracy all claims that received provisional ratings under the Special Initiative. The Under Secretary for Benefits concurred with our recommendations. Management’s planned actions are responsive and we will follow up as required on all actions.

New From the GAO

July 14, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Military Training: Observations on Efforts to Prepare Personnel to Survive Helicopter Crashes into Water. GAO-14-615R, July 14.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-615R

The Future of the Army’s Civilian Workforce: Comparing Projected Inventory with Anticipated Requirements and Estimating Cost Under Different Personnel Policies

July 14, 2014 Comments off

The Future of the Army’s Civilian Workforce: Comparing Projected Inventory with Anticipated Requirements and Estimating Cost Under Different Personnel Policies
Source: RAND Corporation

In keeping with the coming drawdown in military end strength, the Department of Defense is planning to scale back its civilian workforce over the next several years. After reaching nearly 295,000 full-time employees in fiscal year (FY) 2010, the size of Army’s civilian workforce has started to fall. It is necessary to manage this drawdown so that sufficient people remain available in key positions. The authors projected the future supply of Army civilians under various scenarios and examined how the Army might manage supply to meet projected demand, by bringing together workforce supply and demand models. The RAND Inventory Model was used to project the supply of Army civilians, by command and occupation, based on historical patterns of internal transfers and separations, and various scenarios for future hiring. The supply projections were matched with demand projections from RAND’s Generating-Force-to-Operator model, which translates budgets for the Army’s operating force into projected changes in the institutional Army, to estimate the numbers of new hires or force reductions needed to meet the demand for civilians. The findings suggest that meeting future targets will require reducing hiring rates below historical levels but that substantial hiring will still be needed in most commands. If demand drops considerably below current projections, larger cuts would likely be required. Workforce cost is projected to change largely in line with the number of personnel. If requirements based on the FY 2014 President’s Budget are met by FY 2017, nominal costs are projected to remain approximately constant, with expected civilian pay raises offsetting workforce reductions.

No Time to Waste: Evidence-Based Treatment for Drug Dependence at the United States Veterans Administration Department of Veterans Affairs

July 13, 2014 Comments off

No Time to Waste: Evidence-Based Treatment for Drug Dependence at the United States Veterans Administration Department of Veterans Affairs
Source: Human Rights Watch

The 39-page report states that more than one million US veterans take prescription opioids for pain, and nearly half of them use the drugs “chronically,” or beyond 90 days. Alcohol and drug dependence is strongly associated with homelessness and mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress syndrome and depression, psychological conditions that affect 40 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in VA care. Drugs or alcohol are involved in 1 of 3 Army suicides, and the VA estimates that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

New From the GAO

July 11, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office

Report

1. Security Force Assistance: The Army and Marine Corps Have Ongoing Efforts to Identify and Track Advisors, but the Army Needs a Plan to Capture Advising Experience. GAO-14-482, July 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-482
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664733.pdf

Testimony

1. Fusion Energy: Observations on DOE’s Cost and Schedule Estimates for U.S. Contributions to an International Experimental Reactor, by Frank Rusco, director, natural resources and environment, before the Subcommittee on Energy, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. GAO-14-750T, July 11.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-750T

Perspective Taking, Cultural Stress, and the Individual: From the Inside Out

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Perspective Taking, Cultural Stress, and the Individual: From the Inside Out
Source: Army Research Laboratory

In general, Western cultures focus on the world around the individual, and Eastern cultures focus on the group in which one belongs. In understanding how the American military interacts in foreign cultures, Soldier cultural perspectives, or what the individual Soldier brings to the table, must be understood to mitigate the potential effects of culture stress. The ability to maintain unit readiness and mission effectiveness in the midst of increasing peacekeeping missions ultimately depends on the performance of the Soldier. Personal, situational, and organizational factors within dynamic, changing, and stressful environments can affect a Soldier s overall performance. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory will investigate how Soldier individual differences, cultural stress, and perspective taking affect decision making through the Relevant Information for Social-Cultural Depiction. This report will show that inclusion of individual difference variables is essential to social-cultural model development, which will support predictions of decision-making performance in a multicultural environment.

DOD OIG — Procedures to Ensure Sufficient Rare Earth Elements for the Defense Industrial Base Need Improvement

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Procedures to Ensure Sufficient Rare Earth Elements for the Defense Industrial Base Need Improvement
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

Objective
We determined whether DoD effectively planned for life-cycle sustainment of rare earth elements (REE) for the defense industrial base (DIB). Specifically, we determined whether DoD effectively implemented procedures to maintain a sufficient and available supply of REEs for the DIB.

Finding
DoD lacked a comprehensive and reliable process to assess REE supply and demand. Specifically, Defense Logistics Agency, Strategic Materials Division officials did not ensure that its modeling and simulation contractor used: REE supply forecasts that considered market and environmental risks; complete REE demand survey results; and verified economic consumption data to forecast REE demand.

This occurred because the Defense Logistics Agency, Strategic Materials Division did not have adequate verification and validation procedures in place to ensure realistic supply and demand inputs and did not require that the contractor use an accredited model to forecast REE supply and demand.

As a result, DoD may not have identified all REEs with expected shortfalls, increasing the risk that those shortfalls will adversely affect critical weapons systems production in the DIB, and overall DoD readiness.

Recommendations
We recommend that the Director, Defense Logistics Agency–Strategic Materials Division:

  • develop and implement a verification and validation plan for REE supply and demand forecasting model inputs;
  • develop and implement procedures to ensure that future shortfall analyses compare DoD demand and supply for REEs under the same scenarios;
  • develop and implement procedures for obtaining DoD REE consumption data by leveraging Service acquisition executive participation and other techniques as appropriate;
  • develop and implement an accreditation plan for theforecasting model’s intended use; and
  • ensure that current and future contracts for models, simulations and associated data include verification, validation and accreditation procedures in the contract requirements.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Director, Defense Logistics Agency, Acquisition Directorate generally addressed the recommendations; however, comments on Recommendation 2 partially addressed the recommendation. Therefore, we are requesting additional comments on Recommendation 2 by August 4, 2014.

New From the GAO

July 9, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives: Enhancing Data Collection Could Improve Management of Investigations. GAO-14-553, June 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-553
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664515.pdf

2. Human Capital: DOD Should Fully Develop Its Civilian Strategic Workforce Plan to Aid Decision Makers. GAO-14-565, July 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-565
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664698.pdf

3. NOAA Aircraft: Aging Fleet and Future Challenges Underscore the Need for a Capital Asset Plan. GAO-14-566, July 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-566
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664708.pdf

4. Export-Import Bank: Information on Export Credit Agency Financing for Wide-Body Jets. GAO-14-642R, July 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-642R

Testimony

1. Improper Payments: Government-Wide Estimates and Reduction Strategies, by Beryl H. Davis, director, financial management and assurance, before the Subcommittee on Government Operations, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-14-737T, July 9.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-737T
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664693.pdf

Armed and Dangerous? UAVs and U.S. Security

July 9, 2014 Comments off

Armed and Dangerous? UAVs and U.S. Security
Source: RAND Corporation

Armed drones are making the headlines, especially in their role in targeted killings. In this report, RAND researchers stepped back and asked whether these weapons are transformative. The answer is no, though they offer significant capabilities to their users, especially in counterterrorism operations as has been the case for the United States. Will they proliferate? Yes, but upon a closer look at the types of systems, only a few rich countries will be in a position to develop the higher technology and longer range systems. U.S. adversaries and others will likely find weapons such as aircraft and air defenses more cost and militarily effective. Their proliferation will not create the kinds of global dangers that call for new arms control efforts, but the risks to regional stability cannot be dismissed entirely, as is the case of any conventional weapon. How the United States will use these weapons today and into the future will be important in shaping a broader set of international norms that discourage their misuse by others.

New From the GAO

July 8, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Littoral Combat Ship: Deployment of USS Freedom Revealed Risks in Implementing Operational Concepts and Uncertain Costs. GAO-14-447, July 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-447
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664669.pdf

2. Bulk Fuel Pricing: DOD Needs to Reevaluate Its Approach to Better Manage the Effect of Market Fluctuations. GAO-14-595, July 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-595
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664651.pdf

3. Electronic Health Records: Fiscal Year 2013 Expenditure Plan Lacks Key Information Needed to Inform Future Funding Decisions. GAO-14-609, July 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-609
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664646.pdf

4. Software Licenses: DOD’s Plan to Collect Inventory Data Meets Statutory Requirements. GAO-14-625, July 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-625
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664664.pdf

5. Afghanistan: Kabul Embassy Construction Costs Have Increased and Schedules Have Been Extended. GAO-14-661R, July 8.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-661R

In U.S., Veterans Report Less Stress, Worry Than Civilians

July 4, 2014 Comments off

In U.S., Veterans Report Less Stress, Worry Than Civilians
Source: Gallup

Americans may understandably believe that the nation’s veterans are suffering emotionally given news reports of high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mood or anxiety disorders among those who have served in the military. However, Gallup finds that among employed Americans, active-duty and veteran populations are more emotionally resilient than their civilian counterparts.

New From the GAO

July 2, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Climate Change Adaptation: DOD Can Improve Infrastructure Planning and Processes to Better Account for Potential Impacts. GAO-14-446, May 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-446
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663733.pdf

2. Prescription Drugs: Comparison of DOD, Medicaid, and Medicare Part D Retail Reimbursement Prices. GAO-14-578, June 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-578
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664522.pdf

3. Nuclear Security: NNSA Should Establish a Clear Vision and Path Forward for Its Security Program. GAO-14-208,May 30.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-208
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663746.pdf

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