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Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

What The Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition Has Been Up To

Monday, October 12th, 2015

On this first day of the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army I find it fitting to tell you about a considerably smaller group of industry advocates. While lesser known, I occasionally write about the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC).

For the most part, I write about a very narrow segment of the defense industry; those businesses that concentrate on protecting our service members. As I’m sure you’re aware, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) industry historically has had a minimal presence on Capitol Hill, to the detriment of the needs of both the warfighter and industry. But not anymore.

Back in 2009, at the urging of DoD leadership, industry leaders took the initiative to bring a fragmented group of nine American companies together to speak with one voice to Congress on the need to sustain a industrial base. Never before in the history had the armed forces relied so heavily of rapid industrial innovation and production of personal protective equipment. No one wanted to see that capability go away due to the lack of a planning process. The result was the Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition (WPRC), which has grown into a not-for-profit that enjoys an active membership of more than 40 companies dedicated to ensuring US warfighters and peacekeepers alike are properly supported and equipped for the full spectrum of missions.

I am proud to host this site and discuss many of these issues. Those of you who read, comment, and support this site through advertising are engaged daily not only with the US Department of Defense but also increasingly with foreign militaries. As our defensive posture continues to evolve and opportunities to sustain the domestic industrial base have diminished, the procurement process has become even more difficult at a time when the industry that supports the warfighter is extremely stressed.

Sequestration is our number one defense issue. The current standoff taking place between the President and Congress over the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an example of the collateral damage caused by sequestration. To adequately fund DoD around the constrictions of the sequester, Members of Congress have used the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account to add almost $85 billion dollars to meet the critical demands of our national defense. President Obama has repeatedly called this effort a “gimmick” and has threatened to veto the NDAA altogether. Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees just approved a Conference Report containing this OCO funding. If the President vetoes the measure, more uncertainty remains around the necessary funding for the Department of Defense.

The result of this situation for our industry is continued uncertainty. Let’s face it. If there’s no budget, there are no orders for goods, and companies may well turn their efforts elsewhere, or close up shop altogether. This obviously directly effects the military. OCO funds are used with broad discretion, and while they may serve as a bandaid, they also create some havoc with the bean counters and lead to “feast or famine” situations for the military as well as their suppliers. You can’t conduct any long-term planning when the budget process is broken. Specific to our industry, you get a glaring lack of line item visibility for both PPE and OCIE. On top of that, the constraints of the Budget Control Act and sequestration have led procurement authorities to rely heavily upon lowest price/technically acceptable (LPTA) contracting methods in order to make those limited funds stretch as far as possible. While it sounds great on paper, choosing the lowest price over quality and best value for PPE and OCIE is a recipe for disaster both for the domestic industrial base as well as our warfighters.

Confronting these challenges head on may seem like an impossible task. You know as well as I do that not only are there current growing threats around the world (Russia, Syria, ISIS, North Korea) but the Berry compliant industrial base must be ready to meet unforeseen challenges within a moment’s notice. How many times to do we have to repeat history? Time and time again we have allowed our military’s industrial base to descend into disarray. The goal here is sustainment of capabilities; military as well as industrial.

The WPRC was founded to not only ensure the best available equipment for our warfighters and peacekeepers but to advocate on behalf of the American companies and manufacturers who provide the best available PPE and OCIE. Members and non-members alike have benefitted from their work. The WPRC has led the effort to discontinue the use of reverse auctions (RA) and Lowest Price/Technically Acceptable (LPTA) contracting for PPE/OCIE product categories. Margins are already thin and these types of purchases have resulted in winning bids that are just too good to be true. Over time these methods of procurement have led to missteps, including the procurement of substandard PPE. Just this year, the companies who are part of the WPRC worked together to successfully secure language in the NDAA that states:

“The Secretary of Defense shall ensure that the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, in procuring an item of personal protective equipment or a critical safety item, use source selection criteria that is predominately based on technical qualifications of the item and not predominately based on price to the maximum extent practicable if the level of quality or failure of the item could result in death or severe bodily harm to the user, as determined by the Secretaries.”

This language is an important step in a continued process to ensure that our warfighters not only maintain a significant combat advantage but are as safe as possible while doing so. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Chair of the Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), Chair of the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee have been champions for this issue in Congress.

Here’s another win that I bet you haven’t heard of. The WPRC has also achieved a notable success by supporting legislation that requires DoD to provide line-item funding for PPE and OCIE in future budgets. Beginning next year, Program Managers and industry will have visibility into the spending plans of the service branches, allowing for far better planning within the government and industry on the best way to allocate precious resources to support the service branches. Up to now, everything has been haphazard. This is huge and will help planners get their arms around what has been happening.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. I urge companies to pay attention to the work being done by this non-profit association and consider adding their efforts to the advocacy work that leads to these types of accomplishments. It’s critical to our industrial base and to all those who serve in uniform, and it deserves our support. Congress needs feedback from the uniformed services as well as from industry. If we let it operate in a vacuum it will never know how to improve the acquisition process.  

Unfortunately, what they do day-to-day is often missed but if I had to sum it all up in a single sentence, I’d refer to them as “Our Voice of Industry on Capitol Hill.” While it has taken time to gain momentum, this voice has been pretty effective so far, and the more that companies band together to alleviate uncertainty, the better they can concentrate on providing the best support to our troops. 

AUSA Disappointed In Budget ‘Train Wreck’

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

I received this statement from AUSA earlier today and had to share it.  I agree completely.  

Statement of Gordon R. Sullivan, USA retired, Association of the U.S. Army President and CEO

“It is disappointing we sit on the sidelines watching the train wreck that is our defense budget process.

“Here we are at the start of a fiscal year with a patchwork appropriations that keeps our military funded only through Dec. 11, and with a veto threat over the defense policy bill. Everything that is happening was avoidable, if only our executive and legislative branches would work together in the name of national security.”

“In an increasingly uncertain world, failure to do something so essential as passing a defense budget does nothing to help the morale of our soldiers and other service members, nor being a credible friend and ally and a formidable foe.”

The National Guard Association Of The United States – The Veterans’ Mental Health Care Access Act

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

The National Guard Association of the United States is currently seeking additional support of H.R. 1604, the Veterans’ Mental Health Care Access Act. H.R. 1604 will allow Veterans to seek immediate mental health care at any non-VA facilities eligible to receive reimbursement through the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. H.R. 1604 is sponsored by Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-NJ, a strong supporter of Veteran care.

For more information, and for access to a contact form to show your support to your representative, click on ‘NGAUS Legislative Alert #15-14’ at the following link: www.ngaus.org/advocating-national-guard/take-action.

2015 NDAA Does Not Strike Requirement For Common DoD Camo

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Despite deliberations throughout this year, the 2015 NDAA aka the Carl Levin and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 does not repeal the provisions of last year’s Enyart Amendment requiring DoD to move toward common camouflage patterns and combat uniforms.

According to the Joint Explanatory Statement to Accompany 2015 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015:

Revised policy on ground combat and camouflage utility uniforms

The Senate committee-reported bill contained a provision (sec. 352) that would amend section 352 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (P.L. 113-66) that established a policy that the Secretary of Defense shall eliminate the development and fielding of Armed Forces-specific combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms for specific combat environments to be used by all members of the Armed Forces.

The House bill contained no similar provision.
The agreement does not include the Senate provision.
(Emphasis added)

We note that the guidance for the military services and combatant commands required by section 351 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (P.L. 113-66) to implement this policy is late and has not yet been delivered. We also note that the implementation plan is also late and necessary to ensure proper implementation of the Department of Defense’s guidance to establish and publish joint combat uniform standards and performance criteria.

For more info on the 2014 NDAA provisions for camouflage read this: soldiersystems.net/2014/02/03/joint-service-camo-national-defense-authorization-act-fiscal-year-2014-repost

Updated – What I understand this language is doing is tapping DoD on the head to let them know that they aren’t following last year’s NDAA by providing information Congress asked for. It looks like Congress is still very keen on the subject and that they need to get their act together.

Congressional Accountability For Broken Military Programs Is Catching On – But Are They Blaming The Right People?

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Late last week we saw the release of a letter from Rep Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Director, National Intelligence LTG James Clapper (USAF, Ret) regarding the impending nomination of US Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, LTG Mary Legere to take the place at Director, Defense Intelligence Agency, of the out going LTG Mike Flynn. What makes this letter so interesting is that Rep Hunter is in opposition to LTG Legere’s appointment. LTG Legere is a career Military Intelligence Officer with a varied tactical intelligence background. I don’t believe that her experience is in question.

To read the letter click the link:
Rep Duncan Hunter on New DIA Nomination

Rather, Rep Hunter’s opposition all pivots around the long-plagued Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) program, and in particular its migration to a classified cloud computing environment which would allow users to access more data, from more locations. For those of you unfamiliar, DCGS-A is the Army’s primary system to post data, process information, and disseminate Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) information about the threat, weather, and terrain to echelons. DCGS-A provides commanders the ability to task battle-space sensors and receive intelligence information from multiple sources. Analysts claim it requires extensive contract support, is often down, is not intuitive and generally difficult to use. What they do like is a computer program called Palantir. Named after mythological Seeing Stones, Palantir was developed with help from the not-for-profit In-Q-Tel venture fund which is designed to assist promising technologies to support the US Intelligence Community. According to everyone who uses it, it works, and works well. How well? The data to track down arch-terrorist Usama bin Laden was reportedly analyzed and developed in a Palantir environment.

On one hand, it’s refreshing to see that members of Congress are keeping an eye on how well programs actually work. But, I’m concerned that Rep Hunter is shooting the messenger and not the folks actually at fault. In addition to LTG Legere, Rep hunter also calls out US Army Intelligence and Security Command’s Commanding General MG Stephen G. Fogarty, who like LTG Legere, is a career Intelligence Officer with a combination of tactical and strategic intelligence assignments including numerous tours in SOF. What both of these officers have done is briefed Congress on numerous occasions about the health of the system their forces use. As DCGS-A is far from a model program, INSCOM has reportedly attempted to create a duplicate cloud in order to make things work. Additionally, LTG Legere has not been as forthcoming with Congress as Rep Hunter would like regarding program details. But ultimately, the development and fielding (not use) of the actual program of record belongs to PEO Intelligence and Electronic Warfare Systems’ PM DCGS-A. That office is part of Army Material Command and not INSCOM or any other part of the Intelligence Community. If PEO IEWS was in a line and block chart of the IC, it would be a dashed line way off to the side.

Some would blame ‘The System’ for DCGS-A’s failure. Rep Hunter chooses to blame Army Intelligence leadership. But I suggest something more radical. I say we place responsibility on a broken program where it belongs; with the Acquisition community that developed it. Whether it’s an intelligence analysis system, an aircraft, or a camouflage pattern, the offices that manage the life cycle of these programs must be held accountable not only for schedule and budget but also, how well they actually work.

HASC Releases Interim Report on Benghazi

Friday, February 14th, 2014

I’ve essentially remained quiet on the events that transpired on Banghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012. This is based on two issues. First, very soon after the event, I was privy to information that has just recently come to light. Second, I didn’t have all of the information regarding this tragedy and I still don’t. On one hand, I didn’t want to disclose who may or may not have been on the battlespace that night and on the other, there’s nothing that will make you look more like a fool than making declarative statements about situations you don’t have the facts on. However, I now have the House Armed Services Committee report entitled, “Majority Interim Report: Benghazi Investigation Update.” I’d say that’s a good point to start talking, armed with, you know, “facts”. Having said that, two caveats with this report. From the summary, “This report should be considered one component of continuing comprehensive Benghazi-related oversight underway in the U.S. House of Representatives. In keeping with the committee’s jurisdiction, however, this document addresses only the activities and actions of personnel in DOD.” By no means is the info the final word, but it does begin to allow us to peer deeper into what happened from DoD’s perspective.

It was a sad day for America and we lost some great folks. Many want to lay blame, but blame isn’t going to bring those men back. Generally, it isn’t one thing that goes wrong, but a whole chain of events with several issues coalescing into disaster. As far as I can tell, I’m the only guy who wants to take a serious look at what happened, for the sake of making sure it doesn’t happen again. It seems that everyone else talking about this has some agenda.

Since that day, the event has been politicized and I have watched countless armchair generals talk about things they don’t understand; Internet experts fueled by propaganda and spin doctors. I hate to lay it on most of you, but your sister-in-law’s nephew’s best friend who is a Spec-4 truck driver stationed at Fort Polk is not an authoritative source on US force projection. I could spend hours and hours talking about the subject but sufficed to say, when attempting to project force to the location of Benghazi, Libya, the United States is a victim of the tyranny of distance. You’ll see this issue come up over and over in this report. What’s more, while it does happen on a case-by-case basis, QRFs do not sit on strip alert just waiting for a crisis, despite what you might see in the movies. Even if they had, they would have been quite some distance from Benghazi (see ‘tyranny of distance’), as you will see in the report. You’ll read about three different groups dispatched to the region in the wake of the attacks and some of the challenges they faced to get there. Additionally, we don’t commit forces to ‘suicide’ missions and rarely, if ever attempt forced entry without a clear operational picture of the situation. As you will find in the report, this was not the case. DoD did not enjoy a clear operational picture. This hindered the military’s ability to respond.

Despite this, they did take action. Several, in fact.

The first step DOD took upon learning of the attack involved a U.S. drone that was overflying Darnah, a city in northeastern Libya. AFRICOM’s operations officer immediately redirected the unarmed Predator to Benghazi, which was about an hour’s flight time away. Separately, following the meeting in the White House, Secretary Panetta (in consultation with General Ham, General Dempsey, and others) verbally authorized three specific actions. First, two Marine FAST platoons in Rota, Spain were ordered to prepare to deploy; one bound for Benghazi and one destined for Tripoli. Second, a special operations unit assigned to the European Command, known as a Commander’s In-Extremis Force (CIF), which was training in Croatia was ordered to move to a U.S. Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy and await further instructions. Third, a special operations unit in the United States was also dispatched to the region. These orders were issued approximately two to four hours after the initial attack on the Special Mission Compound.

Of particular interest to me is that there is no indication of a cabal within DoD set to destroy America from within or a decision by senior leaders to ‘let Americans die’. Rather, we see the same problems we constantly face; the fog of war and interagency stovepipes. We may have gone a long way to mitigate those issues within the CENTCOM AOR but in the other theaters they remain.

The findings are the most significant issue at hand. While not exhaustive, and omitting certain operational factors such as the units of assignment for those personnel actually on the ground, it is clear about DoD issues at hand that day and during the immediate aftermath. It also indicates which issues are the responsibility of both State and the White House. In fact, it discusses State’s request to reduce the Tripoli-based DoD Security Support Team from 16 to 4. However, please remember that Tripoli is over 600 miles by land from Benghazi (see tyranny of distance). It remains unclear if a larger force would have changed the outcome of the attack.


Findings

I. In assessing military posture in anticipation of the September 11 anniversary, White House officials failed to comprehend or ignored the dramatically deteriorating security situation in Libya and the growing threat to U.S. interests in the region. Official public statements seem to have exaggerated the extent and rigor of the security assessment conducted at the time.

II. U.S. personnel in Benghazi were woefully vulnerable in September 2012 because
a.) the administration did not direct a change in military force posture,
b.) there was no intelligence of a specific “imminent” threat in Libya, and
c.) the Department of State, which has primary responsibility for diplomatic security, favored a reduction of Department of Defense security personnel in Libya before the attack.

III. Defense Department officials believed nearly from the outset of violence in Benghazi that it was a terrorist attack rather than a protest gone awry, and the President subsequently permitted the military to respond with minimal direction.

IV. The U.S. military’s response to the Benghazi attack was severely degraded because of the location and readiness posture of U.S. forces, and because of lack of clarity about how the terrorist action was unfolding. However, given the uncertainty about the prospective length and scope of the attack, military commanders did not take all possible steps to prepare for a more extended operation.

V. There was no “stand down” order issued to U.S. military personnel in Tripoli who sought to join the fight in Benghazi. However, because official reviews after the attack were not sufficiently comprehensive, there was confusion about the roles and responsibilities of these individuals.

VI. The Department of Defense is working to correct many weaknesses revealed by the Benghazi attack, but the global security situation is still deteriorating and military resources continue to decline.

I know, I know, this is Soldier Systems Daily and I rarely comment on operational issues but this has been something I have been following for some time. As the old adage goes, “Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” It is my assertion that the events in Beghazi are just as much a function of logistics as they are bad, pre-crisis decision making. While Nathan Bedford Forrest (Lt Gen, CSA) was misquoted with “Git thar fustest with the most mostest,” the sentiment is apropos. That is certainly what transpired in this case. The bad guys got there first and were gone before we could project any serious combat power to the area.

Feel free to read the whole thing and then comment. All I ask is this, keep it on point. There are loads of websites out there where inappropriate and off topic comments are the norm. If you feel the need to express yourself that way, please go there.

HASC Report

(Click cover to view report)

Joint Service Camo and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 – Repost

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

I originally posted this story on 20 December, 2013. It gives you some real background on how Congress fumbled the quest for a camouflage pattern by stripping the deadline out of the legislation in conference committee. Since several articles discussing camouflage have made the rounds recently, I felt it was important to arm SSD readers with some facts.

I keep getting emails from readers with links to stories from other websites with these silly headlines about new legislation blocking the Army’s ability to field new camo. I thought that the best way to put this to bed is to share the actual language in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 with you so I asked the folks at Rising Tide if they could provide a copy and they were more than happy to oblige. Read the section in question for yourself and then we’ll discuss.

CJCS visit to Afghanistan

SEC. 352. REVISED POLICY ON GROUND COMBAT AND CAMOUFLAGE UTILITY UNIFORMS.

(a) ESTABLISHMENT OF POLICY.—It is the policy of the United States that the Secretary of Defense shall eliminate the development and fielding of Armed Force specific combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms in order to adopt and field a common combat and camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms for specific combat environments to be used by all members of the Armed Forces.

(b) PROHIBITION.—Except as provided in subsection

(c), after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of a military department may not adopt any new camouflage pattern design or uniform fabric for any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms for use by an Armed Force, unless—
(1) the new design or fabric is a combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms that will be adopted by all Armed Forces;
(2) the Secretary adopts a uniform already in use by another Armed Force; or
(3) the Secretary of Defense grants an exception based on unique circumstances or operational requirements.

(c) EXCEPTIONS.—Nothing in subsection (b) shall be construed as—

(1) prohibiting the development of combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms for use by personnel assigned to or operating in support of the unified combatant command for special operations forces described in section 167 of title 10, United States Code;
(2) prohibiting engineering modifications to existing uniforms that improve the performance of combat and camouflage utility uniforms, including power harnessing or generating textiles, fire resistant fabrics, and anti-vector, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial treatments;
(3) prohibiting the Secretary of a military department from fielding ancillary uniform items, including headwear, footwear, body armor, and any other such items as determined by the Secretary;
(4) prohibiting the Secretary of a military department from issuing vehicle crew uniforms;
(5) prohibiting cosmetic service-specific uniform modifications to include insignia, pocket orientation, closure devices, inserts, and undergarments; or
(6) prohibiting the continued fielding or use of pre-existing service-specific or operation-specific combat uniforms as long as the uniforms continue to meet operational requirements.

(d) REGISTRATION REQUIRED.—The Secretary of a military department shall formally register with the Joint Clothing and Textiles Governance Board all uniforms in use by an Armed Force under the jurisdiction of the Secretary and all such uniforms planned for use by such an Armed Force.

(e) LIMITATION ON RESTRICTION.—The Secretary of a military department may not prevent the Secretary of another military department from authorizing the use of any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms.

(f) GUIDANCE REQUIRED.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall issue guidance to implement this section.

(2) CONTENT.—At a minimum, the guidance required by paragraph (1) shall require the Secretary of each of the military departments—
(A) in cooperation with the commanders of the combatant commands, including the unified combatant command for special operations forces, to establish, by not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, joint criteria for combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms, which shall be included in all new requirements documents for such uniforms;

(B) to continually work together to assess and develop new technologies that could be incorporated into future combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms to improve war fighter survivability;

(C) to ensure that new combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms meet the geographic and operational requirements of the commanders of the combatant commands; and

(D) to ensure that all new combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms achieve interoperability with all components of individual war fighter systems, including body armor, organizational clothing and individual equipment, and other individual protective systems.

(g) REPEAL OF POLICY.—Section 352 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111–84, 123 Stat. 2262; 10 U.S.C. 771 note) is repealed.

Now my comments

The hope has been that Congress would step in to curb the US military’s number of camouflage patterns from what averages out to about two per service, to a more manageable total of three or less for everybody. I hope you aren’t as underwhelmed as I am with the legislation. Any teeth that the original Enyart Amendment had to bring about any real change, seem to have been yanked from this document.

Having said that, there are a couple of interesting bits. Such as…This section, which halts the Marine Corps’ restriction on sharing MARPAT:

(e) LIMITATION ON RESTRICTION.—The Secretary of a military department may not prevent the Secretary of another military department from authorizing the use of any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms.

But this section is the free pass that the USMC has been looking for to continue to use MARPAT as long as they want:

Nothing in subsection (b) shall be construed as—
(6) prohibiting the continued fielding or use of pre-existing service-specific or operation-specific combat uniforms as long as the uniforms continue to meet operational requirements.

My take is that this proposed law really does nothing to control the problem. It’s just another watered down version of the language from 2010 that it replaces. There are no deadlines to move to a common uniform or pattern as specified in Rep William Enyart’s (D-IL) (MG, USA NG, Ret) original amendment to the House version of the NDAA; no consequences to continuing on the current path. It’s status quo. Services can continue to use the patterns they already have and can utilize different pocket configurations and even different body armor. It’s the development of new patterns that is at issue and even this can be accomplished so long as it is done so under the banner of jointness. In fact, the language even encourages development of new patterns and technologies.

The real question is how this will affect the Army’s Camouflage Improvement Effort and the USMC’s developmental Transitional MARPAT (yes, you read that right). Not that it really matters. The Army has zero interest in announcing the results of the so-called Phase IV Camo Tests and instead is in the midst of a soft-transition to the Operational Camouflage Pattern (aka Crye Precision’s MultiCam), a currently issued pattern. And so far, no one knows what will come of work being accomplished by NRL on behalf of the Marine Corps.

If you want to know about all of the other defense programs, below is the entire 1105 page NDAA bill. It was recently passed by the House of Representatives and should clear the Senate today. The President is expected to sign it into law before Christmas.

2014 NDAA

Click on image to download .pdf

There’s also some guidance on protective equipment early on in the bill. It’s worth looking at.

Joint Service Camo and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014

Friday, December 20th, 2013

I keep getting emails from readers with links to stories from other websites with these silly headlines about new legislation blocking the Army’s ability to field new camo. I thought that the best way to put this to bed is to share the actual language in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 with you so I asked the folks at Rising Tide if they could provide a copy and they were more than happy to oblige. Read the section in question for yourself and then we’ll discuss.

CJCS visit to Afghanistan

SEC. 352. REVISED POLICY ON GROUND COMBAT AND CAMOUFLAGE UTILITY UNIFORMS.

(a) ESTABLISHMENT OF POLICY.—It is the policy of the United States that the Secretary of Defense shall eliminate the development and fielding of Armed Force specific combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms in order to adopt and field a common combat and camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms for specific combat environments to be used by all members of the Armed Forces.

(b) PROHIBITION.—Except as provided in subsection

(c), after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of a military department may not adopt any new camouflage pattern design or uniform fabric for any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms for use by an Armed Force, unless—
(1) the new design or fabric is a combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms that will be adopted by all Armed Forces;
(2) the Secretary adopts a uniform already in use by another Armed Force; or
(3) the Secretary of Defense grants an exception based on unique circumstances or operational requirements.

(c) EXCEPTIONS.—Nothing in subsection (b) shall be construed as—

(1) prohibiting the development of combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms for use by personnel assigned to or operating in support of the unified combatant command for special operations forces described in section 167 of title 10, United States Code;
(2) prohibiting engineering modifications to existing uniforms that improve the performance of combat and camouflage utility uniforms, including power harnessing or generating textiles, fire resistant fabrics, and anti-vector, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial treatments;
(3) prohibiting the Secretary of a military department from fielding ancillary uniform items, including headwear, footwear, body armor, and any other such items as determined by the Secretary;
(4) prohibiting the Secretary of a military department from issuing vehicle crew uniforms;
(5) prohibiting cosmetic service-specific uniform modifications to include insignia, pocket orientation, closure devices, inserts, and undergarments; or
(6) prohibiting the continued fielding or use of pre-existing service-specific or operation-specific combat uniforms as long as the uniforms continue to meet operational requirements.

(d) REGISTRATION REQUIRED.—The Secretary of a military department shall formally register with the Joint Clothing and Textiles Governance Board all uniforms in use by an Armed Force under the jurisdiction of the Secretary and all such uniforms planned for use by such an Armed Force.

(e) LIMITATION ON RESTRICTION.—The Secretary of a military department may not prevent the Secretary of another military department from authorizing the use of any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms.

(f) GUIDANCE REQUIRED.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense shall issue guidance to implement this section.

(2) CONTENT.—At a minimum, the guidance required by paragraph (1) shall require the Secretary of each of the military departments—
(A) in cooperation with the commanders of the combatant commands, including the unified combatant command for special operations forces, to establish, by not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, joint criteria for combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms, which shall be included in all new requirements documents for such uniforms;

(B) to continually work together to assess and develop new technologies that could be incorporated into future combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms to improve war fighter survivability;

(C) to ensure that new combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms meet the geographic and operational requirements of the commanders of the combatant commands; and

(D) to ensure that all new combat and camouflage utility uniforms and families of uniforms achieve interoperability with all components of individual war fighter systems, including body armor, organizational clothing and individual equipment, and other individual protective systems.

(g) REPEAL OF POLICY.—Section 352 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (Public Law 111–84, 123 Stat. 2262; 10 U.S.C. 771 note) is repealed.

Now my comments

The hope has been that Congress would step in to curb the US military’s number of camouflage patterns from what averages out to about two per service, to a more manageable total of three or less for everybody. I hope you aren’t as underwhelmed as I am with the legislation. Any teeth that the original Enyart Amendment had to bring about any real change, seem to have been yanked from this document.

Having said that, there are a couple of interesting bits. Such as…This section, which halts the Marine Corps’ restriction on sharing MARPAT:

(e) LIMITATION ON RESTRICTION.—The Secretary of a military department may not prevent the Secretary of another military department from authorizing the use of any combat or camouflage utility uniform or family of uniforms.

But this section is the free pass that the USMC has been looking for to continue to use MARPAT as long as they want:

Nothing in subsection (b) shall be construed as—
(6) prohibiting the continued fielding or use of pre-existing service-specific or operation-specific combat uniforms as long as the uniforms continue to meet operational requirements.

My take is that this proposed law really does nothing to control the problem. It’s just another watered down version of the language from 2010 that it replaces. There are no deadlines to move to a common uniform or pattern as specified in Rep William Enyart’s (D-IL) (MG, USA NG, Ret) original amendment to the House version of the NDAA; no consequences to continuing on the current path. It’s status quo. Services can continue to use the patterns they already have and can utilize different pocket configurations and even different body armor. It’s the development of new patterns that is at issue and even this can be accomplished so long as it is done so under the banner of jointness. In fact, the language even encourages development of new patterns and technologies.

The real question is how this will affect the Army’s Camouflage Improvement Effort and the USMC’s developmental Transitional MARPAT (yes, you read that right). Not that it really matters. The Army has zero interest in announcing the results of the so-called Phase IV Camo Tests and instead is in the midst of a soft-transition to the Operational Camouflage Pattern (aka Crye Precision’s MultiCam), a currently issued pattern. And so far, no one knows what will come of work being accomplished by NRL on behalf of the Marine Corps.

If you want to know about all of the other defense programs, below is the entire 1105 page NDAA bill. It was recently passed by the House of Representatives and should clear the Senate today. The President is expected to sign it into law before Christmas.

2014 NDAA

Click on image to download .pdf

There’s also some guidance on protective equipment early on in the bill. It’s worth looking at.