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Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

Gold Medal Ceremony: Congress to Honor Office of Strategic Services

Monday, March 5th, 2018

WASHINGTON–On Wednesday, March 21, leaders of the U.S. House and Senate will present a Congressional Gold Medal in honor of the members of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) for their historic contributions during World War II.

The OSS, America’s first strategic intelligence system implemented during World War II, is widely considered the foundation of modern day intelligence operations. Founded by General William J. Donovan, a medal of honor recipient, the OSS “organized, trained, supplied, and fought” in the war throughout Europe and Asia and played a decisive role in America’s victory over axis forces. In addition to the civilian population, each military branch contributed personnel to OSS, whose missions resulted in some of the bravest acts of the war and forever changed the course of history.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)will take part in the bipartisan, bicameral ceremony.

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor the United States can bestow. In accordance with Public Law 114–269, a single gold medal has been struck to collectively honor the members of the OSS.

The ceremony will take place on Wednesday, March 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Emancipation Hall and will be live-streamed on speaker.gov/live. For more on the history of the Congressional Gold Medal, watch this behind-the-scenes video. For press guidance, media should contact their respective congressional media gallery.

-Speaker Ryan Press Office

NDIA Applauds Passage Of Continuing Resolution, Encourages Fast Action To Fully Fund FY18

Friday, September 8th, 2017

ARLINGTON, VA – The National Defense Industrial Association is pleased with congressional actions Friday that saw a funding resolution passed to avoid a government shutdown. NDIA now calls on officials to act and pass the full fiscal year 2018 budget.

From retired Gen. Hawk Carlisle, NDIA president and chief executive officer:
“The National Defense Industrial Association applauds congressional action this week to pass a continuing resolution that keeps the federal government running, extends our nation’s debt limit, and provides relief for those areas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. Now, we call on Congress and the White House to negotiate a grand bargain before the next deadline of Dec. 8 that provides predictable, stable, and sufficient funding for the rest of fiscal year 2018 and beyond.

“While we welcome the compromises that spare jobs from furlough and the government from shutting down, this is not a permanent fix. Forcing the Defense Department to operate under a continuing resolution for the ninth consecutive year will do serious harm to the readiness of our armed forces, military communities, and the men and women in uniform. Our federal workers and military members deserve our full support, not more uncertainty.”

Carlisle was among the 12 leaders of the Defense Related Associations who authored a Sept. 7 letter to congressional leadership encouraging regular order for the 2018 defense authorization and appropriations measures.

American Knife & Tool Institute and Senator Mike Crapo, R-ID, Announce the Introduction of the Freedom of Commerce Act

Friday, September 8th, 2017

The legislation will repeal the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958, and allow consumers to purchase any automatic knife legal in their state.

Yes
September 7, 2017 – Cody, WY – The American Knife & Tool Institute (AKTI) and Senator Mike Crapo today announced the introduction of the Freedom of Commerce Act, legislation that will repeal the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 (15 U.S.C. § 1241 – 1244) and allow consumers to purchase any automatic knife legal in their state, regardless of where it was manufactured. The legislation will also remove burdensome prohibitions on free trade, interstate commerce, and consumer choice.

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“In states allowing the possession of switchblades, it is imperative that law-abiding citizens and sportsmen have the ability to buy and sell the tools vital to their trade,” said Crapo. “This measure would remove one of the many federal regulatory burdens that have hindered manufacturing growth, interstate commerce and consumer practices for far too long.”

Automatic knives, which are defined based on their opening mechanism, are used primarily in the professional trades and by outdoor recreationalists. In both of these examples, the use of a one-handed knife that opens automatically is often critical to effectively and safely accomplishing the task. To illustrate, a roofer may carry an automatic knife in his pocket as part of his customary tools. While perched on a ladder, he only has one hand to open and lock the blade, making the automatic open a necessary feature. This same example could be used for a fisherman, who is holding his catch with his left hand while simultaneously using an automatic knife to cut the line of a swallowed hook with his right hand. In both cases, the task may be technically achievable with other tools, but is accomplished more quickly and more safely with an automatic knife.

To advance the legislation, AKTI will be working with the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Mike Crapo, R-ID, to educate Members of Congress on what the Federal Switchblade Act is, how it hurts free trade, consumer choice, and interstate commerce. AKTI will be working with policymakers to explain the following:

What is the Federal Switchblade Act of 1958?

The Federal Switchblade Act of 1958 (FSA) leverages the federal government’s interstate commerce power to prohibit the purchase, sale, and trade of automatic knives between any and all of the 50 states, Washington, DC, any U.S. territories, and any place outside thereof.

The FSA does:

• prohibit the possession of automatic knives in U.S. territories and on Native American Reservations;
• prohibit a consumer from purchasing any automatic knife not manufactured in the state in which they are making the purchase;
• prohibit the importation of all foreign automatic knives, as well as knife parts, even if the manufacturer or importer is a U.S.-based company.

The FSA does not:
• prohibit the possession or sale of automatic knives within any U.S. state or the District of Columbia;
• apply to contracts entered into by the Department of Defense.

The FSA hurts consumers and knife manufacturers throughout the United States by using federal law to:

• limit consumer choice;
• create unnecessary burdens on manufacturers and retailers by prohibiting most out-of-state sales;
• impose a barrier on states’ rights to legislate the availability of a tool within their borders;
• infringe on free trade by outlawing the importation of automatic knives.

The Freedom of Commerce Act will:

• repeal 15 U.S.C. § 1241 – 1244;
• allow domestic manufacturers to ship and sell their products to buyers located in other states;
• permit the importation of automatic knives and knife parts.

The legislation will not:

• supplant or amend current state laws on automatic (or any other) knives;
• legalize the possession or carry of automatic knives (except for Native American Reservations and U.S. territories).

“Drafting legislation is always a balance between safisfying an emotional drive to fix something, and finding common sense mechanisms that will truly deliver a solution,” said CJ Buck, President of Buck Knives and AKTI. “In this bill, Senator Crapo has done an exceptional job of striking that balance in a way that will help knife owners and consumers, remove unnecessary federal burdens, and allow states to decide what tools are legal within their jurisdiction – as the Constitution guarantees. We’re thrilled to see this legislation introduced, and couldn’t be prouder to have Buck Knives’ senior senator leading the charge.”

“AKTI’s mission is to promote reasonable and responsible knife legislation and enforcement,” said AKTI’s Executive Director Jan Billeb. “We believe that law-abiding citizens should be able to carry and purchase their essential and valuable tools without the fear of arbitrary, inconsistent and ineffective government restrictions. We look forward to working with Senator Crapo and his team to educate lawmakers on the restrictions and burdens created by the Federal Switchblade Act, and how the Freedom of Commerce Act alleviates these problems.”

www.atki.org

DoD Plans To Save $72 Million On Afghan Uniforms By Spending $100 Million For New Ones

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Last week, the Honorable John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, testified before the House Armed Services Committee, concerning his organization's recent report on the Afghan National Army's proprietary camouflage pattern, licensed to Afghanistan by Canadian company Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corporation.  SIGAR maintains that the US government overspent on an untested and inappropriate camouflage pattern. Boy, does this story sound familiar. 

Of all the untold Billions of Dollars squandered on bad construction contracts and given away to Afghan warlords, SIGAR is fixated on what they have identified as $28 Million, they claim was overspent during a period of five years on camouflage uniforms for the Afghan National Army.  Furthermore, the SIGAR report, and Mr Sopko's testimony alleges that the situation will result in a further $72 Million in overspending over the next decade, if it's not changed.

The Department of Defense's  answer to the situation? Why, spend even more money of course. The plan is to direct the US Army's Natick Soldier Systems Center to conduct a camouflage study and completely recapitalize the entire ANA with new uniforms in a camouflage pattern owned by the US Army. SIGAR estimates that will save us about $72 million. While Mr Sopko has yet to disclose how much this scheme is going to actually cost, I did a back of the napkin estimate based on what was spent in the past. To replace their uniforms in a timely manner, will be excess of $100 Million; well in excess. When you do the math, that potential savings of $72 quickly becomes a $18 Million+ deficit.  Not to mention the disruption of the ANA, as a side effect. 

When this new camouflage pattern is finally pursued, no commercial patterns will be considered, lest the Army have to pay a royalty. The point here isn't to offer our Allies the best available camouflage, but rather the cheapest and no one is taking the interests of the Afghans into consideration in this unilateral action. Amazingly, the last time Natick conducted a camouflage study for Afghanistan, the US Army selected a commercially developed pattern developed by Crye Precision, called MultiCam, over the camouflage developed by Natick.

The Army later conducted a massive camouflage modernization effort under the direction of Natick. The results of the Phase IV Camouflage Improvement Effort have never been released to the public and the Army ultimately created and fielded an inferior version of Crye's MultiCam which they were already using, in order to save a buck or two. 

In addition to the known elements such as established supply chain costs associated with this action, there are Millions of Dollars in potential, additional costs to the American taxpayer and industry. For instance, we have no idea how much the Natick study will actually cost the taxpayer because the salaries of government employees and use of equipment and facilities are looked at as sunk costs by DoD rather than being properly tracked and accounted for. Furthermore, it will take time (and drive up costs) to develop a supply chain for a new pattern. Printers will have to "learn" how to print it.

Industry will also have surge to create a sufficient number of completely new camouflage uniforms to support the transition for the ANA.  This will result in an increased transportation burden costing an untold amount out of money.  Then there's the question of how much money was spent to conduct this investigation and produce this report.  It doesn't seem like the taxpayer is getting a lot of bang for its buck. 

Interestingly, Mr Sopko also informed the legislators that a criminal probe had been launched regarding the matter, which, short of evidence of malfeasance, begs the question, why? Considering the pallets of $100 bills handed off to fickle Afghan warlords over the past 16 years, we are going to criminally investigate something where we actually saw a return on investment? The ANA actually received uniforms which provides them a common identity as an element of Afghan national power. Additionally, the uniforms work at night, when the ANA operates, and are in a tightly controlled camouflage pattern which is difficult for the enemy to acquire.

If I were an acquisition or contracting officer who made things happen in spite of the plodding framework created by the DFAR at any point since the war began, I'd be very concerned about this precedent. Because, if they're going to take a look at the Afghan National Army's camouflage expenditure, they are bound to look at other fast-tracked acquisition programs. In fact, someone probably ought to take a hard look at what DoD was up to regarding uniforms, during the same period.

Lest I remind everyone, this is what our Soldiers were wearing during the same period the SIGAR report is concerned with. It's also a camouflage pattern that wasn't tested, and not only wasn't suitable for use in Afghanistan, but for anywhere else it turns out. What's more, it was developed by the same organization that SIGAR wants to developed the ANA's next pattern, Natick Soldier Systems Center. 

It gets worse. The US taxpayer spent untold Billions of Dollars on that US Army pattern. The Army admitted to $5 Billion expenditures in 2012, but they kept spending after that, and their number was based solely on program Dollars at DLA.  It's almost impossible to really capture how much was spent in local purchase, at the sister service level, and on UCP ancillary items for major end items.  The real number is closer to $10 Billion than five. If they want to launch a criminal investigation based on fraud, waste and abuse, UCP is a great place to start.

If SIGAR wanted to actually improve things for Afghanistan, they could make these recommendations:

1. Simplify and standardize the cut and construction of Afghan uniforms across the board.

2. Negotiate a better licensing fee with the owner of the ANA's camouflage.

3. Replace the Camo patterns of the other Afghan forces which are forced to continue to wear the same patterns as their enemies.

Points one and two would help bring down costs of the ANA uniform and point three would result in a safer and more effective Afghan security infrastructure.  

Mr Sopko's team at SIGAR has done some great work, but they need to do much better on this issue. Spending more money than is saved is not a win.  Instead, this is a big loss, both for the American taxpayer and our ally, Afghanistan.

Marine Corps’ Acquisition Command Gives Congresswoman Insider View of Newest Gear

Monday, July 24th, 2017

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia— Marine Corps Systems Command welcomed U.S. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas to the Gruntworks Squad Integration Facility aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico July 11. During her visit Tsongas received an insider view of advancements in personal protective equipment and load bearing equipment for Marines.

Massachusetts Congresswoman Niki Tsongas joins Marine Corps Systems Command acquisition experts aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, July 11, for a sneak peek at the latest gear for the 21st Century Marine. In a series of ongoing efforts, the Corps and the Army are collaborating to develop, test and deliver ever-better capabilities for Marines and Soldiers. From left: Brig. Gen. Joseph Shrader, MCSC commander; Lt. Col. Chris Madeline, program manager for Infantry Combat Equipment; Rep. Tsongas; and Mackie Jordan, an engineer in PM ICE. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Emily Greene)

Raised in a military family herself, Tsongas represents the Massachusetts Third District. She is also a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, and has been serving as the highest ranking Democrat on the largest HASC subcommittee, the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee (TAL), since the beginning of 2017. The TAL Subcommittee is responsible for overseeing and authorizing the research, development, production and procurement of a large segment of the resources and equipment used by the military services. Rep. Tsongas has led the push for modernized body armor and is working to support military innovation, particularly when it comes to lightening the load for the Warfighter.

"The Marine Corps is always looking to improve on current equipment to make it lighter, provide additional capability, and make it fit better," said LtCol Christopher Madeline, program manager for Infantry Combat Equipment at MCSC. "It was important to us to provide Congresswoman Tsongas an interactive experience with our newest gear so she has a more intimate understanding of our capabilities."

The Marine Corps is collaborating with the Army in a series of efforts to develop, test and deliver enhanced capabilities for Marines and Soldiers. As part of these efforts MCSC is changing the sizing of clothing, uniforms, and personnel protective and load bearing equipment to provide better fit, function and form for Marines, Madeline said.

Plate Carrier Generation III: The Marine Corps and Army are closely aligned to ensure uniforms and personal protective equipment properly fit female and male service members in order to accommodate every individual Marine and Soldier. The services are partnering to develop the PC Gen III, a service-common vest that will provide better fit, comfort and mobility. The new prototype reduces the length of the protective vest by 1.25 inches; provides sports-graded shoulder straps to improve fit; and is about 23 percent lighter than previous models. The new sizes will provide small-stature Marines with a better fit and reduce the weight associated with wearing a larger plate.

Enhanced Combat Helmet: In May 2017, the Marine Corps awarded a contract to procure an additional 84,000 ECHs. Since 2014, Marines had only been issued the ECH prior to deployment. This purchase will enable Marines to use the helmet during training as well, eliminating the need to trade helmets before and after deployments. The Marine Corps currently manages three ballistic helmets but the future vision is a single helmet for all operating forces, which greatly simplifies logistics considerations and increases cost savings. Also used by the Army and Navy, the ECH provides the most ballistic protection beyond any other Department of Defense helmet. It exploits lightweight material technology to provide enhanced ballistic protection against select small arms and fragmentation. Fielding will begin in the spring of 2018, allowing Marines to train with the same equipment they use in combat.

Marine Corps Pack System: After extensive cold weather testing earlier this year, the Corps is working to re- enforce the frame of the pack system Marines use to carry equipment and gear on their backs. Although the frames were previously tested at temperatures ranging from -40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, in accordance with North Atlantic Treaty Organization standards, it was found that real-world artic conditions caused the frames to become brittle and snap in extreme cold. During the test period, more than half a dozen MCSC experts worked to solicit feedback from Marines using the packs in order to identify how to improve the equipment.

MCSC is planning additional environmental and field testing for a more comprehensive evaluation of the reinforced frame’s performance in extreme cold temperatures. The testing will also determine additional root causes of the legacy frame failures, such as material aging and increased loads, to mitigate potential issues with the reinforced frame after fielding.

During Tsongas’ visit, MCSC experts briefed the congresswoman on the evolution of Marine Corps personal protective and load bearing equipment, allowing her to try on the PC GEN III, ECH and Marine Corps Pack System. Tsongas also received a behind-the-scenes demonstration of how engineers and specialists analyze and assess body types for equipment development.

“Since being elected to Congress, I have sought to ensure that our men and women in uniform are outfitted with the best life-saving equipment,” said Congresswoman Tsongas. “I appreciate the opportunity to visit Marine Corps Systems Command to see firsthand how they are seeking to improve the personal protective equipment issued to Marines. I look forward to continuing to work with the Marine Corps and the joint services to continue advancements in this most important equipment category.”

SSD Comments: While fielding of the Enhanced Combat Helmet is finally underway, an upgrade to the plate carrier shown is unfunded. Additionally, while much ado has been made about broken Pack Frames, investigation has revealed few actual breakages and those were under questionable circumstances.

Hearing Protection Act Language Incorporates Into Comprehensive Sportsmens Package

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

This is some great news regarding the future of removing suppressors from the National Firearms Act. Most of us have heard of the Hearing Protection Act, a bill championed by the American Suppressor Association which seems to have recently lost steam. But, they’ve been working hard behind the scenes to make the language even more effective and to package it into new legislation with more sponsors and additional enhancements for outdoorsmen amd firearms owners.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Committee on Natural Resources has scheduled a hearing for the morning of June 14, in which the Federal Lands Subcommittee will hear a discussion draft of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act. The SHARE Act, which is being championed in a bipartisan manner by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chairs Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and Representative Gene Green (D-TX), is a comprehensive package that covers a wide range of hunting, fishing, and outdoor related issues. Included in the legislation is Title XVII, a strengthened version of the Hearing Protection Act.

Since the re-introduction of the Hearing Protection Act by Rep. Duncan and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) in January (H.R. 367, S. 59) the American Suppressor Association (ASA) has met with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on multiple occasions to discuss technical amendments to the language. As a result, we were able to create several technical amendments that were incorporated into the current draft of the SHARE Act. These include:

Sec. 1702: Removing suppressors from the National Firearms Act, subjecting them to the same instant NICS background check as long guns, and issuing a refundable tax credit to anyone who has purchased a suppressor since the HPA’s original date of introduction
Sec. 1703: Ensuring that suppressors will remain legal in all 42 states where they are currently legal, after suppressors are removed from the National Firearms Act
Sec. 1704: Preempting states from levying taxes or registration requirements on suppressors. However, this will not make suppressors legal in any state where state law currently prohibits them.
Sec. 1705: Granting the ATF 365 days to destroy all suppressor related records from the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR)
Sec. 1706: Developing a “keystone part” definition, and requiring that such keystone part is serialized on every suppressor. This will ensure that individual suppressor parts, like pistons and endcaps, will not require serialization.
Sec. 1707: Imposing a 10% Pittman-Robertson excise tax on the manufacture of each new suppressor, a tax that is currently imposed on all Title I firearms

“The inclusion of the Hearing Protection Act in the sportsmen’s package highlights the commitment of the Sportsmen’s Caucus to make the hunting and recreational shooting experiences safer and more enjoyable for all,” said Knox Williams, President and Executive Director of the American Suppressor Association. “We know for a fact that exposure to noise from recreational firearms is one of the leading causes of hearing loss, which is why the CDC, NIOSH, and the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) have all recommended using suppressors as a tool to mitigate the danger. We look forward to working with the Sportsmen’s Caucus to make this legislation a reality.”

Suppressors have been federally regulated since the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934. Currently, prospective buyers must live in one of the 42 states where they are legal, must send in an application including fingerprints and passport photos to the ATF, pay a $200 transfer tax, and wait for an indeterminate amount of time for the ATF to process the application. As of June, 2017, wait times are in excess of 10 months. In stark contrast, many countries in Europe place no regulations on their purchase, possession, or use. This legislation will remove suppressors from the onerous requirements of the NFA, and instead require purchasers to pass an instant NICS check, the same background check that is used during the sale of long guns. In doing so, law-abiding citizens will remain free to purchase suppressors, while prohibited persons will continue to be barred from purchasing or possessing these accessories.

To voice your support for the Hearing Protection Act, visit www.HearingProtectionAct.com.

What Exactly Did Chief of Staff of the Army GEN Mark Milley Say To the SASC Regarding Small Arms?

Monday, May 29th, 2017

GEN Mark A Milley is the finest Chief of Staff our Army has seen in recent memory. He gets it. The story goes that earlier this year he sat all of the Army’s Program Executive Office’s and told them that the acquisition system is taking too long. PEOs are too focused on the process and not on getting the product to the troops. It’s no coincidence that late last year we began to see numerous “directed requirements” from senior Army leaders, instructing the PEOs to figure out how to procure certain capabilities. In some cases, they are pieces of equipment which will be used in new ways and in other instances they are items already in use by SOCOM. One of those directed requirements plays a serious, behind the scenes role, in GEN Milley’s testimony.

GEN Milley

After GEN Milley’s testimony on May 25th before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the state of the Army, a couple of press reports detailing what GEN Milley said regarding the direction of Army Small Arms caught my eye. As they contained some nonspecific information, I decided to share what he actually said in his testimony.

Below is his prepared testimony:

Our Soldiers remain the backbone of every Army capability, and our infantry units must be equipped with modern weapons. We request support to increase readiness by completing M4A1 Carbine pure-fleet fielding, developing Next Generation Squad Weapons, procuring anti-tank weapons, such as the Javelin and tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (TOW) anti-tank guided missiles, and beginning procurement of the Lightweight Command Launch Unit for Javelin. Additionally, we seek congressional support for a variety of simulators and virtual training devices to significantly increase the repetition and experience base of our Soldiers and leaders at the tactical level in individual, collective, squad, and small unit operations given intense, complex, combat scenarios.

As you can see, the Army’s official budget position is that it wants to continue fielding the M4A1 (which is in 5.56mm) and develop Next-Generation Squad Weapons. What should raise everyone’s eyebrows is the emphasis on anti-tank weapons. GEN Milley has been very vocal about the Russian threat, stating, “The greatest capability remains Russia.” However, he also acknowledged that North Korea is the most immediate threat.

SASC

During the Q&A with the committee, GEN Milley was a bit more forthcoming about threats, countering them, and the M4. Although, he often spoke in generic terms, he did offer a couple of revelations.

Senator Angus King (I, ME) asked GEN Milley specifically about the M4 and whether the Army needed a new weapon. GEN Milley responded that the Army has concerns about body armor penetration. He said, “We recognize the 5.56mm round, there is a type of body armor it doesn’t penetrate. We have it as well. Adversarial states are selling it for $250.” He went on to say, “There’s a need, an operational need. We think we can do it relatively quickly,” and went on to say, “The key is not the rifle, it’s the bullet.” GEN Milley sated that they’ve done some experimentation at Ft Benning and they have a solution. When asked by Sen King if it would require a new rifle, GEN Milley responded, “It might, but probably not.” GEN Milley went on to explain that the “bullet can be chambered in various calibers, it can be modified to 5.56, 7.62.” We believe he is referring here to the Enhanced Performance Round projectile found in the M855A1.

M855A1

GEN Milley specifically mentioned a 7.62mm round later in his testimony to Ranking Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island when asked if this new cartridge would be interoperable with NATO. GEN Milley stated he believed it was, but would prepare a formal answer for the committee. GEN Milley also informed Senator Reed that the new 7.62mm round could be in production within a year or two. GEN Milley went on regarding the choice of 7.62mm, testifying, “This idea that in the Army, that everyone needs the same thing all of the time is not necessarily true. There are some units, some infantry units, that are much more likely to rapidly deploy than others and conduct close quarters combat, that we would probably want to field them with a better grade weapon that will penetrate this body armor that we are talking about.”

While he didn’t come out and say it, based on what we know has been going on, we believe he meant the M80A1 paired with the H&K G28. This testimony falls right in line with what we heard months ago and wrote about in early April regarding Army interest in fielding a 7.62mm Interim Service Combat Rifle. Additionally, there is currently a Four-Star level directed requirement for 6,069 G28s configured as Squad Designated Marksman Rifles to be fielded to the BCTs. The 7.26mm NATO G28, which is a Squad Designated Marksman Rifle variant of the Heckler & Koch 417, developed for the German Bundeswehr, came to the attention of the Army thanks to its selection as the M110A1 Compact Semi Auto Sniper System. Additionally, the Army is quite satisfied with the performance of the M855A1 cartridge and by extension, its 7.62mm counterpart, the M80A1.

As we mentioned last week, there are multiple weapon solutions, currently fielded and readily available. The services just need to make a decision and move forward. Based on what’s currently on the table, they will field a “Better” capability than what they currently have at their disposal. Even GEN Milley agrees. When Senator King asked him if there was an off the shelf rifle which could be an upgrade to the M4, Milley replied, “Yes, there are several out there.”

Bottom line, the Army is asking for money to pure fleet to the M4A1, but it’s also letting Congress know that it’s open to a new service rifle. However, as the testimony went on, this position took an interesting turn.

Senator Joni Ernst, (R, IA) echoed Senator King’s concerns about the M4 and mentioned that it does not penetrate Russian body armor. A retired LTC, she served in the Army Reserve and Iowa Army National Guard as a logistics officer; commanding the 185th Combat Support Battalion at Camp Dodge. She stated there is a need to prioritize small arms in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

Senator Ernst asked if that, once the Army has settled on a caliber, would prefer a new, purpose-built weapon or an off-the-shelf solution. GEN Millie responded, “I don’t know that the two of those are mutually exclusive. There are systems out there today, on the shelf, that with some very minor modifications could be adapted to munitions that we’re developing at Fort Benning that could be used to penetrate these SAPI plates that our adversaries are developing.” He went on to amplify his answer, “It’s not necessarily an either or proposition on that one. I think there’s weapons out there that we can get, in the right caliber, that can enhance the capability of the infantry soldier.” Senator Ernst was pleased to hear that MCOTS solutions were an option in light of potential savings.

Everything we are seeing happen on the acquisition side demonstrates the Army’s interest in the G28, but during this next round of questions, there was an unexpected answer. Senator Ernst brought up MG Scales’ testimony to the Airland Subcommiitee which we recently shared. She mentioned MG Scales’ testimony, referring to a weapon which could fulfill the role of rifle and light machine gun, asking which is more important. GEN Milley responded that they complement one another. Now, here is the bombshell. GEN Milley said, “I think what’s he’s (MG Scales) talking about is the Marines are adopting the M27. We’re taking a hard look at that and are probably going to go in that direction as well, but we haven’t made a final decision on it. Infantry squads, infantry platoons they’ve got to have an automatic weapon for suppression. They’ve got to have the individual weapon as well. So you need both, it’s not one or the other.”

Once again, the budget priorities of M4A1 and Next Generation Squad Weapon follow the spirit of the service chief’s testimony. What’s more, the comments regarding the 7.62mm cartridge follow what we see going on behind the scenes. However, the revelation that the Army is considering the 5.56mm M27 is quite a surprise considering he mentioned a new 7.62mm round earlier. Perhaps he means the M27 as a future 5.56mm weapon for non-Infantry forces, as he was quite specific that the Army doesn’t intend to pure fleet the 7.62 solution, but rather field it to Infantry formations.

Regardless of specific systems requested, our opinion is that the US military’s greatest challenge is the Budget Control Act of 2011 which has hamstrung efforts to not only modernize, but just recapitalize capabilities worn out by over a decade of constant warfare. To make matters worse, continuing resolutions stymie efforts to spend consistently through a budget cycle, resulting in last minute purchases. Additionally, over the past eight years, the Army had to reduce end strength by over 100,000 Soldiers. This reduction included removing 17 brigade combat teams from the Army. Considering we go to war with the Army we have, these cuts were short sighted. When the Army talks about the ability to “Fight Tonight”, there’s no way to develop a replacement for that lost capability overnight. It will take years to rebuild what the last administration dismantled. GEN Milley testified that it would take three years to but a Brigade Combat Team together from scratch. As a hedge, the Army plans to stand up five Security Force Assistance Brigades in the near-term, which are made up of leadership structure, essentially chains of command, with no line troops. They will be used to advise allies and serve as a standing force structure for new troops to fall in on during mobilization, similar to the COHORT units of the 80s. Such plans withstanding, concerns of a “Hollow Army” are valid and there are those who are comparing our current situation to the early 80s recovery from the damage done to the military by the Carter administration. Unfortunately, the President’s budget calls for no increase in end strength and current operational demands are consuming readiness as fast as the Army can produce it. This means that as quickly as Army units are deemed at the highest readiness level, they are committed to use, which will degrade their readiness. With this challenge, it’s no wonder modernization has taken a back seat.

All of the services have a lot of rebuilding to do, in terms of both personnel and equipment. Just as daunting a task is to build capability for future threats. We have to be able to do both, simultaneously. Hopefully, Congress will have the wherewithal to consistently appropriate the funds needed to ensure America’s Army remains the world’s most dominant land warfare force.

Statement for the Record – Senate Armed Services Committee: Airland Subcommittee – 17 May 2017 LTG (R) John M. Bednarek

Monday, May 29th, 2017

We recently shared Retired MG Robert Sclaes’ testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee’s AIRLAND Subcommittee regarding US Small Arms. He was joined that day by LTG (R) John M. Bednarek (USA). LTG Bednarek’s testimony is very much in line with what we see the Army actually doing. Considering he was the Chief of the Office of Security Cooperation (OSC) in Iraq when he retired, it makes sense he would have the Army’s pulse. LTG Bednarek has commanded Army echelons from Platoon to Division, and beyond. A career Infantry officer, he commanded 2/75 and the 25th ID. LTG Bednarek was an excellent choice to tell the SASC what is going on.

Mr Chairman:

Thanks to you and all the Members for the opportunity to provide a few insights on our Armed Forces small arms weapon systems. As stated, the purpose of today’s hearing is to discuss a current assessment of US military small arms requirements, our known threat environment, and to share thoughts on potential options to better equip our Infantry units with the most effective small arms available, including emerging technologies. From a broader perspective, this committee has a tremendous opportunity. That opportunity is to reinforce a higher priority in our DoD budget and procurement activities to directly influence the needed increased lethality across our Infantry formations.

Clearly one challenge is the delicate balance to improve our capability, increase our battlefield lethality, while watching our government costs. Our Nation’s ground forces, with their weapons and enablers, remain the most formidable ally on the planet. Our troops and their individual weapons, are a system of systems designed with one purpose: to close with and defeat our adversaries. They MUST be lethal.

Lethality is the primary factor that guides capability development for all our combat troops to fight and win in all operating environments. It’s all about readiness. It’s all about effects to kill the enemy. Our Services – and our collective energies – must continue to research, develop, and provide the very best capabilities available for the future fights we know will come.

We don’t want “near-peer competitors”. Our Nation expects our ground combat troops to be the best equipped force on earth. We want overmatch. I’m not looking for a fair fight anywhere.

The current M4 Carbine family of weapons has served our Army and Marine Infantry forces well for the past decade plus. Product improvements have provided our Soldiers and Marines the best available 5.56 caliber weapon available. I have trained with, and been in firefights with – the M4 Carbine across Iraq over the past 9 years. It has performed well.

However, as this Committee has heard, and multiple studies have shown, it is time to upgrade to a higher, more lethal caliber weapon system for our Infantry ground troops–regardless of Service or component. It’s time to modernize our Infantry weapon capabilities. It’s my opinion that our Service Chief’s fully recognize this – CSA GEN Mark Milley & CMC Bob Neller – and they are
moving out to get what they need.

I’d to highlight three key factors for the Committee’s consideration and assessment:

1. THREAT ENVIRONMENT & OUR ADVERSARIES –
At the start of our current named operations (OIF / OEF, etc), we were shooting enemy combatants wearing T-shirts and baggy pants – a LOT of them. They’re still wearing T-shirts and baggy pants, but now with near level II & III body armor. Our capability to eliminate this threat at medium to long range distance is almost one. We must have small arms systems that can stop and penetrate this increased enemy protection.

2.PROCUREMENT –
All our Service Chiefs, especially GEN Mark Milley, are on public record on the current challenges and excessive bureaucracy in our current DoD processes. While I’m not a procurement nor contracting expert, I do not want to look another Soldier in the eyes and tell him or her that our leaders have not provided them the best weapon system available because it’s tied up in acquisition masking tape. A 5-7 year acquisition cycle to procure weapons and equipment that our warfighters needed yesterday is unconscionable.

3. SYSTEMS APPROACH –
While the discussion today is principally focused on small arms weapons, we must remember that our Services strategic approach that gives US combat forces the decisive edge is the holistic systems approach. It is NOT just our weapons. It’s not just a higher caliber bullet, caseless or polymer munitions. It’s about the “system”. It is our “human dimension”.

The training and leader development we provide our Infantry Soldiers (and others) that make them the best close combat formations on the planet. It’s the term of “Mission Command”. Trust and decentralization – the fact that we train our small units to operate without specific instructions and then trust them to execute based on commander’s intent.

This approach includes our Soldiers and Marines fighting together as teams. It includes sights, optics, embedded laser range finders, night vision, radios to communicate with fellow troops to
provide over-watching fires. It’s about supporting capabilities of mortars, artillery, helicopter gun-ships, close air support, USAF fighter aircraft. It’s about training our combined arms teams that gives us the overmatch.

Sustained emphasis on this “systems approach” to our military capability must not be overlooked.

Ongoing Service Actions:
Current and future capabilities include continuing the “pure-fleeting” the Total Force with our current M4A1 carbine. Recent purchases of the new SIG SAUER pistol (modular system) starts fielding with the 101st AASLT DIV in several months.

U.S. Special Operations Command, in coordination with the U.S. Marine Corps, is looking into sources for a brand new lightweight machine gun from defense contractors, one that can bridge the gap in distance and lethality between the 7.62-mm light machine gun and the .50 caliber M2.

Other activities include:
a. Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDM).
We must have increased caliber weapon systems in our baseline formations. The Army is buying a variant of the Heckler and Koch 417, 7.62 mm Rifle to be fielded as a SDM Rifle. Each Brigade Combat Team (BCT) rifle squad will be provided with a SDM Rifle to increase reach and lethality. Since this is a modified “COTS” commercial solution, fielding begins in 18 months.

b. Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR). (Editor’s note: He is referring to what USSOCOM calls the Advanced Sniper Rifle. The Army’s name for the program is PSR which may cause some confusion.)
The PSR will replace the M110, M107, and M2010 Sniper rifles and provide increased range and lethality against individual targets and light vehicles. This rifle will give our snipers the punch and reach that they have in the .50 sniper rifle in a much lighter package. Army-wide fielding is scheduled to start in FY20.

c. M3 Carl Gustaf 84mm Recoilless Rifle.
The Carl Gustaf is currently being fielded to Army Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCT) Rifle platoons to provide increased capability. The M3/M3E1 enables rifle platoons to engage area targets with a manual air-bursting capability and point targets. Light armor targets can also be engaged. Lightweight Carl Gustaf fielding begins in FY20.

d. Next Generation Soldier Weapons (NGSW).
The NGSW family of small arms will replace current squad (rifle/carbine, squad automatic weapon, and sub-compact) weapons. Production is slated to start in FY23. Informed by the Small Arms Ammunition Caliber Study (final report is expected this month ), the NGSW will provide the increased range and lethality to maintain overmatch.

e. Small Arms Fire Control (SA-FC).
SA-FC is under development for Precision (sniper) rifles, Crew Served weapons, and Squad/Individual weapons. SA-FC will provide a modular integrated set of systems (including determination of range, meteorological data, target acquisition, ballistic solution and display of adjusted aiming point) that when combined will increase the probability of hit and decrease the time to engage target sets. These solutions will leverage equivalent Family of Weapon Sights to provide day, night, and obscured battlefield environments capability. (Examples include the M901 (sic) 7.62 rifle, interchangeable upper receiver conversion kits; .338 Norma Magnum machine gun; etc)

We must not wait to react to current or future threats. We must continue to leverage our wide and diverse intelligence activities and study our potential adversaries to gain and maintain Soldier equipment – including improved small arms – superiority.

LTG(R) MICK BEDNAREK
Former Chief, Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq (2013-2015)