1. Defense Budget
US senators want to slash the Pentagon’s information technology (IT) spending plan by tens of millions, calling on the military to trim duplicative programs.
The Obama administration requested about $11 billion for all Defense Department information technology activities next year. In a report accompanying its 2015 military spending bill, the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee proposes several sizable cuts.
The Pentagon requested $87.2 million for enterprise information technology activities. The Senate bill, set to be approved late Thursday morning by the full Appropriations Committee, proposes cutting that by $15 million, to $72.2 million.
The department also seeks $109.6 million for logistics-related IT efforts, which the Senate bill proposes slashing by $46.6 million, to $63 million. The report commends the Defense Department for recent efforts to trim its IT spending.
So why the proposed cuts? Too much duplication across the department the subcommittee says.
“The committee found a number of discrepancies where the resources reflected in the IT budget did not correlate to the operation and maintenance budget justification,” states a report accompanying the panel’s bill. “The committee recommends reductions based on that analysis.
“Finally the recommendations include additional reductions to the operation and maintenance accounts to compel further review of non-cyber IT requirements — those not related to the defense of DoD networks — and eliminate duplication,” states the panel’s report.
The subcommittee report notes the armed services for years have sought to “find savings” by consolidating data centers, email servers, and purchases of software and hardware. The panel’s proposed spending bill would give a boost to those efforts with its proposed $61.6 million IT cuts.
2. Hearing: Armed Services Committee: POW/MIA Restructuring
This week, staff from the National Security Division attended a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding implementing the restricting of the POW/MIA community. The expert witness speaking at the hearing was Mr. Michael Lumpkin, Performing the Duties of Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.
“The decisions are based on dispassionate analytical assessments and informed by feedback from families and here in the U.S. Congress,” Michael D. Lumpkin, told the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee. He said the secretary’s decisions were intended to address deficiencies in process, workplace culture as well as organizational structure.
Recognizing that “sweeping changes” were necessary, Lumpkin said Hagel made his decisions based on careful consideration of reviews from the Government Accountability Office, DoD’s cost Assessment and program evaluation office, independent assessments, DoD inspector general comments, veteran service organizations, families as well as input from the workforce.
“Secretary Hagel directed the establishment of a new defense agency that combines the functions of the [Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office], the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and select functions of the Air Force’s Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory,” he said. “He directed that an armed forces medical examiner will be the single identification authority, making the process for past and current identifications the same, and to oversee scientific operations in the new agency.”
DoD will work with Congress, he said, to realign funding for this mission into a single budget, allowing for greater flexibility and ability to respond more effectively.
To improve the search, recovery and identification process, Lumpkin said, DoD will implement a centralized database and case management system containing all missing service personnel’s information.
“The department is also exploring options to make this data more easily and readily available to families,” he said. “Importantly, Secretary Hagel directed the department develop proposals for expanding public-private partnerships in identifying our missing to leverage the capabilities of organizations outside of government that responsibly work to account for our missing.”
Consolidating the organizations that work on past-conflict personnel accounting is necessary, Lumpkin said, but is not singularly sufficient for the changes the department seeks for families of missing personnel.
At the same hearing, Jamie Morin, DoD’s director of cost assessment and program evaluation told lawmakers “our study confirmed many of the findings of the GAO report and extended on them in some respects,” and that top-level leadership attention is needed to address personnel accounting issues and “my assessment is that is exactly what’s happening.”
Lumpkin noted Hagel’s decisions are “emblematic of the cultural and processes changes that must happen for us to be much more successful in fully accounting for personnel missing from past conflicts.”
“Some of these decisions, particularly on the role of the medical examiner, are significant departures from how the department has operated in the past,” he said. Implementation will require continued support for change from within DoD and Congress, he added.
Hagel has a long-standing personal interest in this important mission, Lumpkin said, and feels compelled to improve DoD’s operations and support.
“I have welcomed the time I’ve spent working on this noble mission and have appreciated working with the committee and others in Congress to more effectively account for our missing personnel and ensure their families receive timely and accurate information,” Lumpkin said.
3. Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission
- The MCRMC continues to hold meetings throughout the country. Below is a list of upcoming hearings:
July 23-24, 2014 - Executive Session, Arlington, VA
The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission was established to conduct a review of military compensation and retirement systems and to make recommendations to modernize such systems. The Commission is tasked to submit a report, containing a comprehensive study and recommendations this month to the President of the United States and Congress. The report will contain detailed findings and conclusions of the Commission, together with its recommendations for such legislation and administrative actions it may consider appropriate in light of the results of the study.
4. POW/MIA Update
Army Cpl. Cletus R. Lies, 26, of Bremen, N.D., was buried on July 3, in New Rockford, N.D. In late 1950, Lies was assigned to the Medical Company, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 31st Regimental Combat Team (RCT), east of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. On Nov. 29, 1950, the 31st RCT, known historically as Task Force Faith, began a fighting withdrawal to a more defensible position. Following the battle, Lies was declared killed in action.
Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain 350 - 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents, turned over with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from Chongriyang-ri, a village near the area where Lies was believed to have died.
To identify Lies’ remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including DNA comparisons. Two forms of DNA were used: mitochondrial DNA, which matched his maternal-line sister and brother, and Y-STR DNA, which matched his paternal-line brother.
Today, 7,882 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American teams.