Andrew Clevenger

No Price Tag Yet for Trump's Space Force, Pentagon Says
Nascent military service is a priority for the president

The Pentagon does not yet know how much the nascent Space Force will cost, but nonetheless is working with Congress to write legislation creating the new military branch proposed by President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis said Tuesday.

“We have not done the costing estimates [on Space Force], that’s under way right now,” Mattis told reporters during a rare on-camera appearance in the Pentagon’s briefing room.

Space Force Proposal Comes With Little Political Risk for Trump
It ‘will look like a quaint idea by 2020,’ one analyst says

Whether the Space Force becomes a reality or not, the Trump re-election campaign will likely face few consequences in 2020 for shooting for the stars.

Speaking at the Pentagon last week, Vice President Mike Pence laid out an ambitious agenda for standing up a new branch of the military by 2020. Establishing a new agency — much less a new military department to stand beside those of the Army, Navy and Air Force — is a complicated, time-consuming affair, filled with bureaucratic headaches.

Space Farce? The Challenges of Creating a New Military Department in Just 2 Years: Podcast
CQ on Congress, Episode 115

Space is the “next battlefield,” Vice President Mike Pence said this week. CQ editor Patrick B. Pexton talks with reporter Andrew Clevenger about all the steps needed to create the Space Force. The biggest challenge? A just-passed, two-year defense authorization bill that’s on the president’s desk awaiting his signature. That bill has no extra funds for such an ambitious enterprise that critics say isn’t even necessary to protect the U.S. from space-based threats.

Army Seeks Money Shift as Long-Range Weapons Get Longer
Branch leans into Pentagon’s new National Defense Strategy with $46 million request

The Army has asked Congress to allow it to move $46 million in fiscal 2018 money to its efforts to improve its ability to hit targets at long range.

The money would be spent on a deep strike cannon artillery system, part of the Army’s plans to develop weapons that can strike accurately at far distances. Army planners project that future land battles will be fought at greater distances, beyond 70 kilometers of range for projectiles and hundreds of kilometers via surface-to-surface missiles.

Pentagon Gender Gap Persists in Trump Era Even as Women Rise in Industry
At the Defense Department, 46 out of 52 positions confirmed or awaiting confirmation went to men

When Kathy Warden takes over as CEO of Northrop Grumman in January, women will run three of the primes, as the largest American defense firms are known.

Warden joins Marillyn Hewson at Lockheed Martin and Phebe Novakovic at General Dynamics as CEOs, while executive vice president Leanne Caret heads Boeing’s defense business.

Higher NATO Defense Spending May Not Help U.S. Contractors
European countries would seek to spend dollars at home, analysts say

President Donald Trump emerged from the NATO summit in Brussels touting a renewed commitment from members to increase their defense spending, but U.S. defense firms might want to hold off on the champagne — at least for now.

Trump claimed that European leaders had pledged to accelerate their individual efforts to reach the goal of spending 2 percent of their country’s gross domestic product on defense, possibly hitting that target sometime next year rather than by 2024 as originally planned.

Defense Officials: US Needs Coordinated China Tech Strategy
“China is the embodiment of the military technology transfer challenge”

Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. intellectual property and technology are pervasive and not limited to cyber theft, defense and intelligence officials told members of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Beijing is also investing in U.S. companies, sending students to American universities, embarking on joint business ventures and cheating on trade agreements, said Anthony Schinella, national intelligence officer for military issues at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

On Cloud Computing Contract, No JEDI Contract Tricks
Pentagon undersecretary denies Amazon has a leg up

With up to $10 billion at stake, industry watchers are paying close attention to the Pentagon’s cloud computing contract, which is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.

Given Amazon’s cloud computing expertise, some have speculated that the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, is theirs to lose, President Donald Trump’s distaste for the company notwithstanding.

Trump’s Idea for Military to Secure Border Is Complicated
President could face congressional and legal stumbling blocks

Updated 9:14 p.m. | President Donald Trump said Tuesday he would use the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, a complicated plan that could require him to declare a national emergency to avoid running afoul of a federal law that prohibits the military from acting as a police force.

Cyber Command Nominee Deflects Questions on Russia
Nominee defers to current commander who warned Russia is virtually unchecked

The nominee to lead U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency told lawmakers Thursday he would offer options to the president and Defense secretary to respond to Russian hacking of U.S. elections “if directed” to do so.

Lt. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the current head of the Army’s Cyber Command, said the decision whether or not to retaliate for Russian disinformation efforts during the 2016 presidential election or to preempt future attempts at election interference is a policy matter for civilian leadership in the executive and legislative branches.

Pentagon Strategy Outstrips Its Budget Process
After slow staff-up, Defense Department is trying to make up for lost time

The Pentagon is churning out a frenzy of strategy documents that bolster President Donald Trump’s calls for a massive — and pricey — military buildup that includes new weaponry and more troops. The department’s own budget process, however, has not yet caught up.

On Friday, the Defense Department rolled out the National Defense Strategy, coming on the heels of the National Security Strategy and a leaked draft of the Nuclear Posture Review. These documents detail policies that come with hefty price tags, such as surpassing China and Russia in fiercely competitive areas like cyberspace and outer space.

Congress Should Revise Base Closure Rules, Report Recommends
Heritage Foundation says lawmakers should authorize a new round

Congress should revise the rules guiding base realignment and closure and authorize a new round, a new paper from a conservative think tank recommended.

Done properly, a round of base realignment and closure, or BRAC, is a good example of federal efficiency, wrote Frederico Bartels, an analyst with the Heritage Foundation.

Space Growing More Contested for Military, Experts Say
‘A few dragons have been replaced by 100 snakes,’ one said

Space is becoming an increasingly contested military domain, and U.S. assets may be increasingly at risk without a comprehensive strategy, experts told members of the National Space Council.

The council, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, met for the first time during the Trump administration on Thursday at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The council includes five Cabinet secretaries — State, Defense, Commerce, Transportation and Homeland Security — as well as the national security adviser, director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among others.

Cruz Spokesman Saw Suspicious Twitter Activity in 2016 Campaign
Texas Republican drew “torrent of negative comments” when he criticized Trump

Ron Nehring, campaign spokesman for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the 2016 presidential campaign, said Tuesday that online trolls of unclear origin flooded his Twitter feed whenever he was critical of then-candidate Donald Trump, but not when he attacked other GOP candidates.

“If I had said something critical about Marco Rubio, or John Kasich, or Ben Carson, there was no response on Twitter whatsoever, dead,” Nehring said about his cable news appearances on behalf of Cruz during last year’s campaign. “However, if I was critical of Donald Trump, I would get a torrent of negative comments on Twitter.”