November 25, 2022

US Defends Affirmative Action Citing Military

Mornin, reports g Coffee is a robust blend of links to news around the internet concerning the Naval Air Station Patuxent River Morning Coffee logoeconomic community. The opinions expressed here do not reflect opinions of the Leader’s owners or staff.

The US military is a key focus of the Supreme Court arguments on affirmative action, reports Military Times. The government’s top legal advocate on Monday urged Supreme Court justices to preserve affirmative action in service academies and civilian institutions alike. Toward the end of the oral argument in what has been a controversial Supreme Court case about the legality of affirmative action, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar echoed a key argument of defenders of the inclusive policy: that a diverse officer corps is necessary for national security.

The Navy restarted flights for some T-45C Trainers this week, reports USNI. The Navy and Marine Corps grounded all 193 T-45C Goshawks on Oct. 14 after an engine blade failure was discovered. Some will remain grounded because the engine blades do not meet the manufacturer’s engine specifications. “The process of returning to operations is based off engineering analysis by NAVAIR, with the most important decision being the safety of our aviators,” Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Richard Brophy said. “The aircraft we are flying are verified and known-good. We have the highest confidence in the compliance of these aircraft.”

The UN says there were  no ships in grain corridor when Russia claims it was attacked, reports Military Times. The United Nations said no ships involved in a UN-brokered Ukraine grain export deal were transiting a Black Sea maritime humanitarian corridor on the night of Oct. 29, when Russia says its vessels in Crimea were attacked. Russia has accused Ukraine of using air and maritime drones to target vessels in the Bay of Sevastopol early on Saturday and suggested one of the drones may have been launched from a civilian vessel chartered to export food from Ukrainian ports.

The US will send four satellite antennas to Ukraine that don’t need Starlink, the network supporting the nation’s military communications. Military Times said the antennas can work without Elon Musk’s Starlink network, which Musk provides free of charge to Ukraine in support of its fight against Russia; he recently threatened to stop his support, then revered himself. The four antennas, to be taken from the Department of Defense’s own shelves, were included in a $275 million aid package announced Oct. 28. It’s the Biden administration’s twenty-fourth drawdown of equipment for Ukraine since August 2021.

US military conducting onsite weapons inspections in Ukraine, reports Military Times. A small number of US military forces inside Ukraine have recently begun doing onsite inspections to ensure that Ukrainian troops are properly accounting for the Western-provided weapons they receive.

Veterans have filed a record number of disability claims, putting pressure on the backlog, reports Military.com. VA has received nearly 113,000 new disability compensation claims for benefits created by the landmark toxic exposure law signed in August, pushing the VA to aggressively search for new hires to handle the influx of veterans into the system.

The IRS wants to hire 4,000 new customer service representatives from the funding it received in the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides $80 billion to the tax agency over the next 10 years. A 2021 Treasury Department report suggested IRS could use the funding to hire up to 87,000 employees, which generated significant backlash—and significant backlash to the backlash.

Despite signs the labor market is starting to cool, aerospace and defense industry executives said they’re still struggling with hiring, training, and the loss of skilled workers, reports Defense News.

 

 

The Dept. of Justice charges former heavyweight boxer Goran Gogic, for smuggling cocaine worth over $1 billion on MSC containerships, reports gCaptain. Gogic, of Montenegro, is accused of conspiring with others to distribute massive quantities of cocaine in shipping containers transported by Mediterranean Sea Company (MSC) ships between May 2018 and July 2019. In one case involving the MSC Gayane, US authorities at the Port of Philadelphia seized nearly 18 metric tons of cocaine valued over $1 billion—making for one of the largest seizures of cocaine in US history.

China on Monday launched the last of the three modules that will comprise its space station, set to be the second permanently inhabited outpost in low-earth orbit after the NASA-led International Space Station, reports Reuters. The uncrewed Mengtian, or “Dreaming of the Heavens,” module was launched atop China’s most powerful rocket, the Long March 5B from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in the southern island province of Hainan.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a photo of a “smiling” sun last week. (NASA/GSFC/SDO)

The sun was ‘smiling’ in a NASA photo, which might be a warning for Earth, reports The Washington Post. Last week, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of the biggest object in our solar system looking bloated, but definitely smiling. For Earthlings, the solar emoji could produce a beautiful aurora sighting — or it could signal problems for their planet’s telecommunications systems.

Intelligence officials delivered an update to Congress this week on their June 2021 UFO report. According to Military Times, the report made public in June 2021 explored more than 140 incidents of UAP, unexplained aerial phenomenon, between 2004 and 2021, which the update addresses. Much is expected to remain classified, however military officials told The New York Times that most resolved UFO cases can be attributed to foreign spies or airborne trash.

The first Air Force pilot to die chasing a UFO was actually chasing a secret balloon. At least that’s what historians believe now, reports Military.com.

Elon Musk has pulled more than 50 Tesla employees into his Twitter takeover, reports CNBC. Tesla CEO and now sole director and CEO of Twitter, Musk is asking Twitter employees to redesign their subscription and verification systems within one week. Musk has authorized dozens of Autopilot software engineers, and other Tesla employees, to do code reviews and more at the social network. Twitter employees say managers instructed them to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to hit Musk’s aggressive deadlines and that their jobs are at stake.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) is calling on the federal government to investigate national security concerns raised by Saudi Arabia’s role in Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, reports CNN. Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed bin Talal helped Musk finance the $44 billion acquisition of Twitter by rolling over his existing $1.9 billion stake in the social media company. The move makes Saudi entities the second-largest shareholder in Twitter – behind only Musk himself.

The Army’s new social media policy pushes stricter rules, reports Army Times. A new service-wide policy governs what information troops can share on their personal accounts and from which accounts Army officials can post. The guidance also calls for more training for key personnel, transparency when posts are removed, and restrictions on using new, untested social media platforms before they’re officially vetted. The move builds off the Defense Department’s release of its first social media guidance in August, where it called for stricter regulation of official accounts.

Secure, survive, strike’ is the Navy’s new approach for cyber dominance, reports c4isrnet. The day-to-day digital posture includes what one official described as the ability to “fight hurt.”  The pillars,  secure, survive and strike, are fundamental to maritime dominance and ensuring Navy and Marine Corps operations proceed smoothly across increasingly cyber-contested environments.

Pentagon seeks additive manufacturing to spur hypersonic development, reports Military Times. The Pentagon wants to use an advanced technology process known as additive manufacturing to design and build hypersonic weapon and vehicle systems that can operate in extreme conditions. DoD looks to field its first hypersonic capability in fiscal 2023, according to Defense News. Pentagon officials are emphasizing the need to shore up the industrial base to move from development to production. Through an initiative called Growing Additive Manufacturing Maturity for Airbreathing Hypersonics, or GAMMA-H, it’s targeting materials and processes used to build systems that travel and maneuver above Mach 5.

The Army plans to conduct two additional tests of its hypersonic missile before fielding it to the first unit by the end of fiscal 2023, reports Defense News.

The new Pentagon National Defense Strategy will be ‘well received’ by US allies in Pacific, reports USNI News. The strategy clearly points at China as the United States’ pacing threat in both the Indo-Pacific and globally with its territorial ambitions and expanding nuclear arsenal, according to experts at a Center for Strategic and International Studies discussion. At a Pentagon briefing on the strategy, DEFSEC Lloyd Austin emphasized “working even more closely with our unparalleled network of allies and partners” to counter an aggressive China and the accompanying nuclear posture and missile defense reviews.

Marines aim for a ‘culture of interoperability’ with Japan and Philippines. A pair of Marine Corps exercises in the Pacific – Resolute Dragon in Japan and Kamandag in the Philippines –  focused on working side-by-side with allies, exercise leaders told Defense News.

VA officials say a 5-minute screening, questions by a vet’s primary care physician can save time and “enhance the benefits for veterans already in the system.” Here’s a first look at the VA’s new toxic exposure screening all vets will take when seeing a doctor, reports Military Times.

Contracts:

WGL Energy Services Inc., Vienna, Virginia (SPE604-23-D-7500, $81,846,848); Enspire Energy LLC, Chesapeake, Virginia (SPE604-23-D-7501, $32,760,506); and Direct Energy Business Marketing LLC, Iselin, New Jersey (SPE604-23-D-7502, $26,754,291), have each been awarded a fixed‐price with economic‐price-adjustment contract under solicitation SPE604-22-R-0405 for natural gas. This was a competitive acquisition with six offers received. These are two-year base contracts with one six‐month option period. Locations of performance are Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., with a March 31, 2025, performance completion date. Using customers are Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and federal civilian agencies. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2023 through 2025 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Systems Planning and Analysis Inc., Alexandria, Virginia, is awarded a $9,583,018 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (P00037) to a previously awarded contract (N0003019C0032). This modification exercises fiscal 2023 options for program management and financial support of the Trident II D5 Strategic Weapons System Life Extension program and future concepts, including the Common Missile Compartment. Work will be performed in Alexandria, Virginia (82%); Strategic Systems Programs Headquarters, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. (15%); Greensville, South Carolina (2%); and Orlando, Florida (1%). Work is expected to be completed on Oct. 31, 2023. Fiscal 2023 operations and maintenance (Navy) funds in the amount of $1,644,146 will be obligated at the time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was awarded as a sole-source acquisition pursuant to 10 U.S. Code 2304(c)(1). Strategic Systems Programs, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Q.E.D. Systems Inc.,* Virginia Beach, Virginia, was awarded a $78,945,441 cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-21-C-4200 to exercise options for the Specification Development and Availability Execution Support for CG, DDG, LHA, LHD, LPD, and LSD-class vessels. Work will be performed in Virginia Beach, Virginia, (45%); San Diego, California (45%); and Bremerton, Washington (10%), and is expected to be completed by October 2023. Fiscal 2023 operations and maintenance (Navy) funding in the amount of $3,472,600 will be obligated at the time of award and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity. (Awarded Oct. 26, 2022)

KPMG LLP, McLean, Virginia, is being awarded a labor-hour contract option with a maximum value of $45,291,305 for audit services of the Army general fund and working capital fund financial statements. Work will be performed in McLean, Virginia, with an expected completion date of Nov. 30, 2023. This contract is the result of a competitive acquisition for which three quotes were received. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $116,648,547 from $71,357,242. Fiscal 2023 operation and maintenance, Army funds in the amount of $45,291,305 are being obligated at the time of the award. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service, Contract Services Directorate, Columbus, Ohio, is the contracting activity (HQ0423-21-F-0005).

IntelliDyne LLC, Falls Church, Virginia, is awarded a bridge contract of previously awarded firm-fixed-price bridge task order HT001121F0030 under GS-35F-0151S to continue network support services at the Defense Health Agency (DHA) headquarters. The total contract value is $29,072,756. The extent of the information technology support services to be provided includes operating and maintaining, and the transition to a fully integrated site, and enterprise IT support model for all current DHA headquarters sites, network domains currently referred to as the DHA Network (DHAN), as well as all respective IT network, systems support services, associated infrastructures, and enclaves. Continued support services include, but are not limited to, desk side support, remote or onsite troubleshooting, onsite IT touch labor, local IT support activity program/project management support, network security and infrastructure assurance activities to include Risk Management Framework/Authorization To Operate (RMF/ATO) support, in room/on-site video teleconferencing support and assistance, DHHQ site asset management activities, and limited network/systems engineering support where required,. Work will be primarily performed at Defense Health Headquarters, Falls Church, Virginia, along with other locations in Virginia; San Antonio, Texas; Aurora, Colorado; San Diego, California; Great Lakes, Illinois; Silver Spring, Maryland; and Fort Detrick, Maryland. Operation and maintenance funds for $14,536,385 are obligated for fiscal 2023 to fund the base period of performance. The task order was not competitively procured and was prepared under the authority of the multiple award schedule program, 41 U.S. Code 152(3) and 40 U.S. Code 501, and regulatory authority, as implemented by Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation 8.405-6(a)(1)(i)(C). In the interests of economy and efficiency, the new work is a logical follow-on to a Federal Supply Schedule order, placed in accordance with Federal Supply Schedule ordering procedures and fully executed on Oct. 31, 2022, with a base period of performance of Nov. 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023, and one option period from May 1, 2023, to Oct. 31, 2023. The Defense Health Agency, Professional Services Contracting Division, Falls Church, Virginia, is the contracting activity. 

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