June 16, 2024

Confidence in US Military Lowest in 25 Yrs.

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American confidence in the United States military recently reached its lowest point in 25 years, according to a new poll. “At 60%, confidence in the military was last this low in 1997,” according to Gallup. The all-time low came in 1981, on the heels of the Iran hostage crisis, reports Military Times.

AP News reports a federal judge has again refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former Abu Ghraib inmates against CACI, a military contractor they accuse of being complicit in torture at the infamous Iraqi prison. Virginia-based CACI, which supplied interrogators at the prison, has long denied that it engaged in torture, and has tried more than a dozen times to have the lawsuit dismissed. The case was originally filed in 2008 and still has not gone to trial.

The Pentagon is pulling 1,100 active duty troops from the US-Mexico border who deployed earlier this year in anticipation of a surge of at the border triggered by the US lifting pandemic restrictions. At the time, illegal border crossings were swiftly escalating, Military.com reports, border agents encountering 10,000 migrants a day and at one point had 27,000 migrants in custody. But immediately after the restrictions expired, the numbers dropped sharply to about 5,000 encounters a day, and have stayed low, according to the agency’s data.

The Republican governors of Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Nebraska this week joined a growing list of those deploying National Guardsmen to the US-Mexico border to bolster the ranks of the Texas National Guard’s scandal-scarred mission. Military.com reports the roster now includes at least 13 Republican governors who collectively made pledges to send roughly 1,300 Guardsmen to the border to support Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, which is well into its second year and has cost at least $4.5 billion in an effort to combat illegal immigration and smuggling.

President Joe Biden has decided to keep US Space Command headquarters in Colorado, overturning a last-ditch decision by the Trump administration to move it to Alabama and ending months of politically fueled debate, reports Military Times. Head of Space Command, GEN James Dickinson argued that moving his headquarters now would jeopardize military readiness. However, lengthy Air Force studies had determined that relocating to Huntsville, AL, was the right move.

Denver’s Lockheed Martin Aerospace will be developing and building a fission-powered nuclear engine for spacecraft with a $499 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, reports Denver Gazette.

The first American nuclear reactor to be built from scratch in decades is sending electricity reliably to the grid, but the cost of the Georgia power plant could discourage utilities from pursuing nuclear power as a path to a carbon-free future, reports AP News. Georgia Power Co. announced Monday that Unit 3 at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta, has completed testing and is now in commercial operation, seven years late and $17 billion over budget.

An Air Force Research Laboratory program has awarded a $142 million contract to Archer Aviation, a Santa Clara, CA-based company, to deliver up to six electric flying taxis or cars, as the vertical takeoff and landing aircraft are sometimes called, says Military.com. The obligation is to deliver up to six of Archer’s “Midnight” aircraft to the Air Force, share flight test data, test reports, offer pilot training, and develop maintenance and repair operations, the company said.

Marine leaders say they will make their recruiting goal this year, while the active-duty Army, Navy, and Air Force all expect to fall short. The services have struggled in the tight job market to compete with higher-paying businesses for the dwindling number of young people who can meet the military’s physical, mental, and moral standards, reports Military.com.

Five military veterans in Congress have written DefSec Lloyd Austin and Attorney General Merrick Garland asking they review options for retrying former Army SGT Bowe Bergdahl after his verdict was vacated last week by a civilian court, reports Military.com. Reps. Mike Waltz (R-FL), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Jake Ellzey (R-TX), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) demanded an immediate review of the case, saying the nullification of the sentence “dishonors those who served and died alongside Bergdahl.”

The Army wants to take its long-delayed $22 billion augmented reality goggle program into production as early as summer 2025, reports NextGov. The headset was intended to integrate night vision, radio communications, targeting capabilities, and more, but soldiers who tested the goggles expressed serious objections. Over the five-year span of the program Army officials think improvements are now closing in on a production version.

High winds hit power lines in Japan’s popular tourist destination Okinawa, knocking out electricity to more than 200,000 households Wednesday morning, as powerful and slow-moving Typhoon Khanun neared the country’s southwestern islands. Reuters reported as of then, one death reported and at least 25 people injured.

Stars and Stripes updated 11 pm Wednesday, Aug. 2, Japan time, that Khanun had begun moving west away from Okinawa and US bases on Okinawa had entered a condition of recovery, meaning sustained 58-mph winds were no longer occurring. Staff civil and first responders had begun surveying damage. Residents were told to remain indoors until an all-clear is issued.

Joint Task Force – Red Hill finished removing fuel from surge tanks Friday, reports USNI News. Removing the 480,000 gallons of fuel from the underground surge tanks is one of the steps needed in order to completely defuel the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. The surge tanks were service tanks, which means they were not involved in the process of defueling the facility’s main tanks.

A regional bloc of West African nations known as ECOWAS has given Niger’s coup leaders one week to reinstate the country’s democratically elected president and have threatened to use force if the demands aren’t met, reports Military.com. The bloc convened to respond to last week’s military takeover. President Mohamed Bazoum remains under house arrest and has yet to resign. An AP update reported the 15-nation bloc’s defense chiefs resolved to “take all measures necessary (that) may include the use of force.” Previously imposed economic and travel sanctions used against the coup plotters failed.

The Pentagon has suspended security cooperation with Niger due to the political unrest in the West African nation, but US troops are not being evacuated, and some continue to engage with members of the country’s military, according to Military.com. “There’s no imminent threat against any US personnel or American citizens,” BRIG GEN Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s top spokesman, told reporters Tuesday.

Niger’s airspace has been closed since the coup overthrew the government in late July and the US military is unable to fly drones from its base in Niger, reports Stars and Stripes. Known as “Nigerien Air Base 201,” the installation cost $110 million to build and it features a 6,200-foot runway for MQ-9 Reapers as well as manned aircraft. The US military began conducting drone flights from the base in November 2019.

Contracts:

Great Hill Solutions, Chantilly, Virginia, is awarded a $98,911,789 cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, contract to provide engineering, technical, software environment support, to include software license procurement, associated programmatic and administrative support associated with Naval Leveraging Innovation Frameworks and Technology, the Navy Integrated Modeling Environment; and Live Virtual Constructive Environment initiatives for the Navy. Work will be performed in Patuxent River, Maryland, and is expected to be completed in August 2028. No funds will be obligated at the time of award; funds will be obligated on individual orders as they are issued. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 8(a) Business Development program, Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-5(b)(4). The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N0042123D0017).

B.L. Harbert International LLC, Birmingham, Alabama (N69450-21-D-0056); Balfour Beatty Construction LLC, Charlotte, North Carolina (N69450-21-D-0057); Gilbane Federal, Concord, California (N69450-21-D-0058); Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Orlando, Florida (N69450-21-D-0059); The Korte Co., St. Louis, Missouri (N69450-21-D-0060); M. A. Mortenson Co., doing business as Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis, Minnesota (N69450-21-D-0061); RQ Construction LLC, Carlsbad, California (N69450-21-D-0062); Sauer Construction LLC, Jacksonville, Florida (N69450-22-D-0011); Walsh Federal LLC, Chicago, Illinois (N69450-22-D-0012); and The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Baltimore, Maryland (N69450-22-D-0013), are awarded a combined-maximum-value $50,000,000 firm-fixed-price modification to increase the capacity of their previously awarded contracts. The work to be performed provides for, but is not limited to, general building type projects located primarily within the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Southeast area of operations. After award of this modification, the total combined cumulative value for all 10 contracts is $950,000,000. Work will be performed within the states of Florida (15%); Georgia (15%); Louisiana (14%); Mississippi (14%); South Carolina (14%); Tennessee (14%); and Texas (14%), and is expected to be completed by September 2026. No funds will be obligated at time of award. NAVFAC Southeast, Jacksonville, Florida, is the contracting activity.

Schuyler Line Navigation Co. (SLNC), Annapolis, Maryland, is awarded an option (P00011) in the amount of $9,468,900 for contract N3220519C3504. The option is a firm-fixed-price contract with reimbursable elements to support Military Sealift Command’s Sealift Program for operation and crewing for the transportation and/or prepositioning of cargo by the shallow draft tanker MT SLNC PAX. This option is the fourth of the current contract. The current contract includes an 11-month firm period. The cumulative value of this contract, if all options are exercised, is $51,436,350. Work will be performed in the western Pacific Ocean, and is expected to be completed, if all options are exercised, by July 1, 2024. Working capital funds (Navy) in the amount of $9,468,900 for Option Four are currently available for performance under this contract action. This contract was a small business set-aside with more than 50 companies solicited via the Beta.SAM.Gov website and three offers were received. Military Sealift Command, Norfolk, Virginia, is the contracting activity.

Encon Desbuild JV3 LLC, Hyattsville, Maryland, is awarded a $22,643,739 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of a vehicle inspection and visitor control center, Marine Corps Base Quantico. The work to be performed provides for the new work, construction rehabilitation, and repairs to a visitor control center, commercial vehicle inspection building, a four-bay commercial vehicle inspection canopy, and sentry booth to provide pass and identification services for visitors and government employees. The contract contains two unexercised options, which if exercised would increase the cumulative contract value to $22,965,135. Work will be performed in Quantico, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by August 2025. Fiscal 2023 military construction (Navy) funds in the amount of $22,643,739 will be obligated at the time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the System for Award Management, with three proposals received. Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N40080-23-C-0012).

Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, is awarded a fixed-price incentive (firm target) multiyear contract for construction of three DDG 51 class ships – one each in fiscal 2023, 2024, and 2026. This contract includes options for engineering change proposals, design budgeting requirements, and post-delivery availabilities on the awarded firm multiyear ships. This contract also includes options for construction of additional DDG 51 class ships, which may be subject to future competition in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract. Therefore, the dollar values associated with the multiyear contract are considered source selection sensitive information and will not be made public at this time (see 41 US Code 2101, et seq., Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 2.101 and FAR 3.104). Work will be performed in Bath, Maine (69%); Cincinnati, Ohio (4%); Walpole, Massachusetts (4%); York, Pennsylvania (2 %); South Portland, Maine (1%); Falls Church, Virginia (1%); and other locations below 1% (collectively totaling 19%) and is expected to be completed by December 2033. Fiscal 2022 and 2023 shipbuilding and conversion, Navy funding will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was procured via a limited competition between Huntington Ingalls Inc., and Bath Iron Works pursuant to US Code 3204 (a) (3) (A) and FAR 6.302-3 (Industrial Mobilization), with two offers received. Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N00024-23-C-2305).

XL Scientific LLC, doing business as Verus Research, Albuquerque, New Mexico, is awarded a $15,688,404 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the development, test, and evaluation of a Dual X-Band High-Power Microwave Test and Evaluation (T&E) System. The contract does not include options. Work will be performed in Albuquerque, New Mexico (90%); and at the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC (10%). The effort is expected to be completed by July 2025. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test, and evaluation (Department of Defense) funds in the amount of $6,694,242 will be obligated at time of award. Funds in the amount of $6,694,242 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The US Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N0017323C2005).

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Linthicum Heights, Maryland, is awarded a $13,064,490 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Broad Area Triton Theater and Littoral Enhancements (BATTLE) effort. This contract provides for the development of additional advanced radar capabilities (algorithms/software) for the MQ-4C Triton Multi-Function Active Sensor Radar System. Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, and is expected to be completed by July 31, 2025. The total cumulative value, including a 24-month base period with no options, is $13,064,490. Fiscal 2023 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $6,488,829 are obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured under N00014-22-S-B001 Long Range Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Navy and Marine Corps Science and Technology. Since proposals are received throughout the year under the Long Range BAA, the number of proposals received in response to the solicitation is unknown. The Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (N00014-23-C-1056).

Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Aeronautics Systems, Melbourne, Florida, is awarded a $387,813,796 fixed-price incentive (firm-target), cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price modification (P00073) to a previously awarded contract (N0001918C1037). This modification adds scope to provide non-recurring engineering efforts in support of the production of three unique configuration E-2D Advanced Hawkeye for the Government of France. Work will be performed in Melbourne, Florida (57.04%); Marlborough, Massachusetts (10.84%); Baltimore, Maryland (9.09%); Liverpool, New York (8.55%); Orlando, Florida (5.75%); West Chester, Ohio (2.04%); Woodland Hills, California (1.06%); Cisterna di Latina, Italy (0.14%); and various locations within the continental US (5.49%) and is expected to be completed in December 2027. Foreign Military Sales customer funds in the amount of $330,265,595 will be obligated at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

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