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Thursday, July 28, 2022

US ‘Out of Time’ to Fix Supply Chain Gaps

Neon is very rare on earth, but quite abundant in space. It is about one third lighter than air and is the most noble, inert element. It is key to manufacturing semiconductors. Wikimedia Commons.

Morning 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.

Russia notched a worldwide victory when Ukrainian fighters in May surrendered the Mauripol steel plant central to global neon gas exports. Neon gas is key to manufacturing semiconductors, which are key to just about everything, including the US weapons being sent to Kyiv to defend against Moscow’s invasion. “You’re really out of time and you need to figure [this] out,” CommerceSec Gina Raimondo told lawmakers earlier this month regarding the imperative for a domestic supply chain for US weapons. Defense News reports the Senate this week is expected to pass bipartisan legislation meant to revive the dying US semiconductor sector while Congress moves to reduce China’s monopoly on critical mineral supply chains.

A chip funding bill cleared a key Senate hurdle, reports Axios. The Senate voted 64-32 Tuesday to advance a roughly $280 billion package to boost funding for domestic chip production, a priority for the Biden administration and companies like Intel and IBM. The bill is meant to entice companies to expand chip manufacturing in the US, reducing the risk of the supply chain disruptions and helping the US compete overseas, particularly with China.

Russia’s decision to drop out of the International Space Station after 2024 throws into question the future of the 24-year-old space station which might not keep running without the Russians, according to AP News. One of the last areas of cooperation between the US and the Kremlin, NASA and its partners hoped to operate the ISS until 2030. Russia’s new space chief announced Tuesday that Russia will pull out of the International Space Station after 2024 and focus on building its own orbiting outpost.

Ukraine needs US help disposing of the bombs and landmines left in Russia’s wake, says Army Times. “International de-mining experts estimate that Russian munitions may have dud rates between 10% and 30%, meaning massive amounts of unexploded ordnance will remain in the ground for years to come,” said Karen Chandler, director of the US State Department’s office of weapons removal and abatement.

More than a year ago the DoD launched an offensive against extremism in the services, including updating its policy against extremist activity. But the services don’t want to specifically outlaw that activity, reports Military Times. Rather, the DoD wants to give its previous efforts a couple of years to percolate before taking more steps. Commanders have a “wide variety of options to address concerning behavior at every point along the spectrum,” according to the report, and Pentagon leadership doesn’t believe that a new article would be a useful tool to respond.

Mural on a library building at Fort Bliss, TX, painted by Baron Rudolf Charles Von Ripper. (El Paso Historical Society)

The Army is saving a huge mural left behind by Baron Rudolph Charles Von Ripper before he went off to fight Nazis, earning a battlefield commission, two Silver Stars, and two Purple Hearts in the Italian campaign, reports Von Ripper, already an acclaimed artist, survivor of a Nazi concentration camp and then a 38-year-old Army recruit in training at Fort Bliss, TX, painted the 11-by-26-foot mural in 1943 around two windows on the wall of a library building at the base as his gift to the diverse America of his imagination.


A nationwide campaign in Ukraine to recruit, register, and draft men, includes fanning out on the streets to find potential soldiers and issuing summonses ordering them to report to recruiting offices, reports The New York Times. The effort, especially the street recruiting, is drawing accusations that it is secretive and arbitrary, that it violates the government’s own rules and that it sometimes drafts the unwilling while spurning the willing. It has also led to a cat-and-mouse game between recruiters and men trying to avoid them.

DefSec Lloyd Austin has approved the treatment of wounded Ukrainian soldiers at a US military hospital in Germany, CNN reports.

It is now 155 days since Russia invaded Ukraine. Al Jazeera provides a daily update of significant events in the ongoing war.

Federal agencies exceeded the White House’s annual small business contracting goal by awarding a record-breaking $154 billion, reports FCW, but the number of companies in that group continues to decline, according to the Small Business Administration. In particular, the number of small businesses, women-owned small businesses and small disadvantaged businesses serving as federal prime contractors continued to fall as part of a years-long trend. Officials said they were trying to counteract the decline through various measures, including protecting against contract bundling.

The reason US servicewomen seem to be injured more than their male counterparts may be lower fitness levels at the start of basic training and greater willingness than men to report and seek care for their injuries. Stars and Stripes reports the study found women’s injury risk dropped after initial training.

With 9,000 teacher vacancies to be filled by the start of the school year, Florida will permit veterans to teach without degrees, reports Military Times. Veterans will now receive a five-year voucher that allows them to teach in the classroom without typical accreditation or the necessary education requirements that other certified teachers must possess, which, reports USA Today, has not met with full support from the state’s accredited teachers. The move is part of an $8.6 million statewide initiative to provide careers and workforce training to veterans and their dependents.

DoD hasn’t properly tracked lead exposure in military kids, reports Military Times. A federal audit questions the accuracy of DoD’s report on the number of children who are screened and tested for lead exposure and furthermore found no one at the helm to make sure the tracking occurs and further.

New studies agree that animals sold at the Wuhan market most likely started the COVID-19 pandemic, reports CNN. Two newly published studies take totally different approaches but arrive at the same conclusion: The Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, was most likely the epicenter for the coronavirus. The studies were posted online as preprints in February but have now undergone peer review and were published Tuesday in the journal Science.

Navy leaders want more advanced weapons and other capabilities — not more ships — to challenge the increasing aggression from China and Russia around the globe, according to the service’s 2022 Navigation Plan released Tuesday. Stars and Stripes reports that the Navy’s 2023 proposed budget seeks to cut 24 ships to save $3.6 billion in the next five years that could be used to develop new technologies. Whether Congress will allow the Navy to cut 24 ships remains in question. Last year, lawmakers ordered the Navy to build 13 ships in the fiscal 2022 budget in pursuit of a larger fleet after service leaders asked for just eight.

Chief of Naval Operations ADM Mike Gilday says the missile attack on the Russian warship Moskva accelerated the Navy’s call for laser defense aboard its warships, reports USNI. The April sinking of Russian cruiser RTS Moskva (121) in the Black Sea by the Ukrainian Navy prompted a push for directed energy defenses on US warships. “That next generation is definitely going to be defined by directed energy and high-powered microwaves,” Gilday said.

Image courtesy of US Postal Service

USPS to release a Forever Stamp celebrating James Webb Space Telescope, reports UPI. The Forever Stamp featuring the $10 billion telescope will be available September 8.

The Army will establish a pre-basic training preparatory course at Fort Jackson, SC, to help hopeful soldiers lose weight and improve test scores, reports Army Times. The 90-day training to prospective troops is aimed at those who don’t meet aptitude test or body fat standards to start boot camp, service officials announced. It is the Army’s most ambitious effort yet to address a massive recruiting shortfall.


Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, has been awarded a $35,244,154 task order from the previously awarded, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract FA8204-22-F-0023. This is a cost-type contract for research and development services in support of the Sentinel Systems Directorate. Work will be performed in Laurel, Maryland, and is expected to be completed by July 29, 2023. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation funds are being used to fund this task order. The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity (FA8204-22-F-0023).

Amentum Services, Germantown, Maryland, was awarded a $20,675,000 modification (P00170) to contract W58RGZ-17-C-0011 for contractor logistics support for government-owned fixed-wing fleets. Work will be performed in Germantown, Maryland, with an estimated completion date of Aug. 29, 2022. Fiscal 2022 operation and maintenance, Army funds in the amount of $20,675,000 were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity.

Obsidian Solutions Group LLC, Fredericksburg, Virginia (HDTRA122D0008); Veteran’s First LLC, Fairfax, Virginia (HDTRA122D0009); and RMGS Inc., Virginia Beach, Virginia (HDTRA122D0010), are being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple award contract for assessments, exercises, and modeling and simulation support (AEMSS). The maximum dollar ceiling including the base period and option period for all three contracts combined is $850,000,000. Work will be performed at various locations throughout the world. Task orders issued under the contract may be for a duration of one year past the last ordering date of the contracts. Funding will be obligated for each task order and no funds are obligated on the basic contracts. The contracts were competitively procured via solicitation HDTRA120R0076 and the government received 18 offers. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Nuclear Enterprise Contracting Office, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, is the contracting activity.

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