May 16, 2022

Art & Lifestyle:

US Munitions Stockpiles at Safe Levels

Senate Appropriation Committee
DefSec Lloyd Austin and Army GEN Mark Milley, chair JCS, testify before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on May 3, 2022. (Photo by Navy Chief Petty Officer Carlos M. Vazquez II)

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While defending the DoD budget, DefSec Lloyd Austin assured lawmakers Tuesday he wouldn’t let stockpiles of critical munitions fall below minimum levels, reports Defense News. At a Senate defense appropriations committee hearing on the Pentagon’s 2023 budget request, lawmakers pressed Austin over the struggles to replenish the stocks of munitions that the Biden administration has sent abroad.

Military Times reports that while concerns are being raised about the remaining adequacy of US weapon stockpiles in light of ongoing arms shipments to Ukraine, the worldwide increases in military spending promises big profits for the defense industry. But defense contractors continue to struggle with the supply chain and labor shortage challenges all manufacturers are facing, plus some specific to their industry.

President Joe Biden credited the assembly line workers at a Lockheed Javelin missile plant for doing life-saving work in building the antitank weapons that are being sent to Ukraine to stifle Russia’s invasion as he made a pitch for Congress to approve $33 billion so the US can continue to hustle aid to the front lines, reports Defense News. “You’re allowing the Ukrainians to defend themselves,” Biden told the workers, his podium flanked by Javelin missile launchers and shipping containers. “And, quite frankly, they’re making fools of the Russian military in many instances.

One of Russia’s top propagandists threatened Britain with annihilation by nuclear strike twice on his Sunday prime-time show — once by air and once by sea — ramping up the war of words against Britain over its vow to oust Russian forces from Ukraine, reports The Washington Post. Washington does not “take lightly” Russia’s threats to use tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Reuters quoted CIA Director William J. Burns saying last month. But Western intelligence has not cited concrete evidence of plans to target Kyiv or its allies. John Everard, a former UK ambassador to Belarus, minimizes Russia’s ability to wipe out Ireland and Britain with one weapon.

A DoD pilot program designed to root out digital vulnerabilities among contractors identified hundreds of flaws over the course of one year, reports C4ISRNET. Cybersecurity researchers with bug-bounty team HackerOne discovered some 400 issues across dozens of companies during the Defense Industrial Base-Vulnerability Disclosure Program, coordinated by the department’s Cyber Crime Center and the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency.

gCaptain has video of the Air Force demonstrating its new weapon as a low-cost and more widely-available alternative to sinking ships with traditional torpedoes. The GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, precision-guided bomb was launched from an F-15E Strike Eagle onto a full-scale ship in the Gulf of Mexico, successfully sinking the vessel in a matter of seconds.

Another cloud of Russian space debris has bloomed in orbit, reports Space.com. An Earth-orbiting object cataloged as #32398 broke up on April 15, the US Space Force’s 18th Space Defense Squadron tweeted on May 3. Sixteen pieces of space debris associated with the event are currently being tracked, the squadron added. Object #32398 was an ullage motor from a space tug that helped deliver three Russian GLONASS satellites to orbit in 2007, according to journalist and author Anatoly Zak, who runs RussianSpaceWeb.com. (GLONASS is Russia’s version of the GPS navigation system.)

 

 

Elon Musk said on Tuesday Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) might charge a “slight” fee for commercial and government users, part of the billionaire entrepreneur’s push to grow revenue which has lagged behind larger rivals like Meta Platforms Inc.’s (FB.O) Facebook, reports Reuters.

Chinese government-linked hackers have tried to steal sensitive data from some three dozen manufacturing and technology firms in the US, Europe, and Asia, reports CNN. The hackers targeted information applicable in pharmaceutical and aerospace sectors. Boston-based security firm Cybereason discovered the activity last year but said the hacking campaign dates to at least 2019, suggesting reams of data could have been stolen in the interim.

Eight F-35 Lightning II aircraft from the Vermont Air National Guard arrived Monday at Spangdahlem Air Base to bolster NATO and support its air policing mission, reports Stars and Stripes. The jets and about 100 support personnel from the 158th Fighter Wing in Burlington, VT, will replace F-35 units from Hill Air Force Base, UT, that have been deployed to Germany since February. The F-35s are expected to patrol NATO’s eastern borders.

BBC Future tells the story of the first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus, commanded by William Anderson, making the first crossing of the North Pole by any ship under its own power on August 3, 1958. The top-secret mission, code named “Operation Sunshine,” had the 319-foot submarine and its 116 crew entirely submerged under the ice, impossible before the invention of compact nuclear-powered propulsion.

Two hundred sailors who have been living aboard the USS George Washington will be relocated as the Navy investigates a jump in crew suicides, reports ABC News4. The service is now looking into the deaths of seven crew members on the carrier, including four by apparent suicide in the past year.

The Navy parent command of the aircraft carrier George Washington will investigate both the three crew suicides last month and the unique stressors that come with operating in a shipyard maintenance environment, reports Navy Times. The ship has been undergoing a complex overhaul since August 2017, scheduled to finish last year but now not scheduled to leave Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia until March 2023.

Military Times reports troops along the Rio Grande guarding the Texas border lack flotation devices and rescue training and are advised not to jump in the water to avoid risks. On Monday, a Fox News reporter captured graphic video of a migrant drowning as he attempted to cross into the US. The reporter said Mexican authorities and National Guard service members witnessed the drowning but did not jump into the water. Service members said they were ordered not to do water rescues after Spc. Bishop Evans died last month trying to rescue a migrant in the same stretch of river.

Army 1st LT Mark Bashaw, who formerly served as the Army Public Health Center’s headquarters company commander, was convicted by a special court-martial Friday of two specifications of violating lawful orders to comply with COVID-19 mitigation measures at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, reports Army Times. He was found guilty of refusing an order to telework and reporting to his office without submitting to a COVID-19 test or otherwise furnishing a negative test result.

News that the US Supreme Court is likely to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing federal protections for abortion rights means that many female service members and military families could soon live in parts of the country where the procedure will be illegal, reports Task & Purpose.

Abortion-rights advocates say overturning the decision would harm military readiness, reports Defense One, and they are calling on Congress and the Pentagon to ensure troops’ reproductive rights are protected. Women in the military already face more restrictions than civilians. Abortions cannot be performed at military medical facilities, and procedures in private facilities aren’t covered by troops’ Tricare health insurance unless the life of the mother is at risk.

News outlets across the globe are keeping track, day by day, developments in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. BBC reports the Russian offensive is still focused on the east — with the exception of those attacks in Lviv overnight. However, resistance from Ukrainian troops is slowing the progress of the invaders. Al Jazeera continues its chronicling of key events each day. Here’s Day 70.

Contracts:

Rivet Operations Co. LLC, San Diego, California, is awarded a $68,523,029 firm-fixed-price contract for business and financial audit support services to the Deputy to the Commander Resource Management, Director, Financial Management and Portfolio program offices at Marine Corps Systems Command. Work will be performed at Quantico, Virginia, and is expected to be complete by March 2027. The maximum dollar value, including the base period and four option years is $68,523,029. Fiscal 2022 operations and maintenance (Marine Corps) funds in the amount of $11,491,901 will be obligated at time of award. Contract funds in the amount of $11,491,901 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was a sole source under the authority of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation 19.8, Contracting with the Small Business Administration 8(a) Program, Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-5, and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement 206.303.1. Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Virginia, is the contracting activity (M67854-22-C-0500).

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