Fiscal 2019 Funding Bill Moves Forward in Senate

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense approved its version of the Fiscal 2019 funding bill on Tuesday, and the full committee is expected to take up the legislation on Thursday. The $675 billion appropriations bill includes $607.1 billion in the base budget and $67.9 billion in the overseas contingency operations funds. It funds a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops and invests heavily in hypersonics, directed energy, missile defense, cybersecurity, and improving test and evaluation infrastructure. “This bill sustains US force structure and improves military readiness. It also recommends investments in future technologies needed to defend our nation in an increasingly complex and competitive national security environment,” said SAC Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who also chairs the Subcommittee on Defense. “Our military must maintain its technological superiority.” Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

AFSOC General Calls for More Emphasis on Directed-Energy Weapons

A top AFSOC official called for the US to put more emphasis on directed-energy weapons, including a doctrine for their use. Brig. Gen. William Whittenberger, assistant to the director of strategic plans at the command, compared the current environment to the period between the World Wars, when new technologies, such as airplanes, automatic weapons advances, radio, and tanks changed warfare. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

Pentagon Needs New Tech Culture First, New Tech Second

If DOD fails to deliver the innovation it keeps promising for its products and processes, Congress will “lose confidence” in it, the Air Force’s chief scientist Richard Joseph said Tuesday. And when that happens, priority on innovation will drop. “And you know what happens next,” he concluded ominously. Innovation and the culture surrounding it were front and center in the morning segment of Defense One’s annual Tech Summit in Washington, D.C. DOD needs “new approaches” to technologies, not just “new technologies,” Joseph said. Like others in recent days and months, Joseph pointed across the ocean to explain why the need is dire. China and Russia have “access to tech” allowing them to become “significant opponents,” he said. The call to innovate the very culture of innovation is nothing new for the Pentagon. During February’s Air Warfare Symposium, for example, the boss of Air Education and Training Command said USAF fails to teach airmen to fail, CMSAF Kaleth Wright called on USAF leaders to help him help airmen fear failure less, and a Google executive derided DOD for taking more risks in tech cybersecurity than any company ever would. Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.

Former Top Defense Official: Googlers Face “Moral Hazard” In Canceling USAF Partnership

Former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said he was ”alarmed” by Google’s decision to pull out of Project Maven, an effort in tandem with USAF to build machine learning artificial intelligence that would assist human operators identify concerns in captured drone footage. “Project Maven was a pathfinder,” Work said at Defense One’s Tech Summit in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. “We picked what we considered to be the absolute least objectionable thing.” Work explained that the majority of captured footage goes unseen, with current teams able to view and catalogue only about 15 percent of it. Maven would’ve developed a scanning tool that would alert airmen to items requiring further attention. But employees at Google saw it as a step toward assisting the military end lives. The project resulted in an internal petition at Google, where 4,000 employees signed a call for the company to relinquish its involvement. “Google employees never talked to DOD, as I understand it,” Work said. “Google employees have created an enormous moral hazard for themselves.” Read the full story from Gideon Grudo.

Mattis Arrives in China Amid Heightened Tensions Over Build Up in South China Sea

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Beijing on Tuesday as a leading Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee cautioned that China’s build-up in the South China Sea is “almost as if they are preparing for World War III.” Read the full story by Amy McCullough.

TRANSCOM Nominee: Cyber Vulnerabilities Significant Threat to National Security

The nominee to replace USAF Gen. Darren McDew as head of US Transportation Command, said there is no “silver bullet” when it comes to tackling US cyber vulnerabilities. The US must take a “multi-faceted” approach, which includes “good cyber hygiene, good infrastructure, good cyber defense measures, and ultimately the right offensive cyber capability with the right authorities behind it,” said Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Lyons during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. Read the full story by Amy McCullough.


—President Trump on Tuesday posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Army 1st Lt. Garlin Conner for his gallant actions during World War II: Fox News.

—The Air Force is investigating why the slide-rafts failed to deploy when a KC-10 tanker aborted takeoff at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., last month: Air Force Times.

—Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson addressed the Western Governors’ Association in Rapid City, S.D., on Monday, discussing ways the seven governors in attendance can help the Air Force as it works to modernize its force: Rapid City Journal.