As we know, Republican and Democratic senators are threatening to hold up confirmation officials at State and DoD in response to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. “Members of both parties have said they’re prepared to make life difficult for the administration’s nominees,” according to The Hill. “A single senator can drag out the floor process for winning confirmation for days, something the Senate can’t afford as it deals with other business for Biden. As a result, threats by individual senators to impose a “hold” on a nominee carries heavy weight, and can end up submarining a nominee’s confirmation.” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), member, SASC, made their views known on all of this earlier this week. “Hawley is specifically threatening holds for civilian positions at the Pentagon, likely putting in jeopardy the nominee for assistant secretary of the Army,” according to The Hill. As Politico wrote, “The next few weeks could be a rough patch for Biden’s national security brass. Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Sept. 28. That means the focus of the Afghanistan oversight effort will remain on the Biden administration’s missteps for the time being.” That’s not all. On the NDAA, “The shambolic American exit from Afghanistan late last month is a major focus of the House NDAA. The bill includes a plethora of requirements for Pentagon reports and briefings about, in short, what went wrong and how to prevent a recurrence,” according to Congressional Quarterly.
Speaking of the House NDAA, the Rules Committee meets Monday at Noon on this. There are a lot of weighty issues besides Afghanistan. CQ writes, “House progressives, for their part, have filed NDAA amendments to rein in the bill’s total amount of authorized defense spending — the so-called topline. At least one proposal would require a reduction to the topline if the Pentagon continues to be unable to successfully accomplish a financial audit of all its components. But past votes suggest that efforts to reduce the defense budget will fail, because enough members on both sides of the aisle support its continued growth.” Other “political hot potato” amendments include “Workplace training in diversity, equity and inclusion, another controversial topic that members from both parties want to address.”
763 amendments were filed to the House NDAA in time for consideration – https://rules.house.gov/bill/117/hr-4350.
FOUR AMENDMENTS DIRECTLY RELATED TO SPACE DOMAIN
The Senate and House return on Monday. The CR will also be front and center in the House next week as government funding runs dry in 13 days.
In the Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman, SAC, announced a short time ago the panel won’t mark up any additional FY22 spending bills next week “amid a lingering partisan stalemate over how much to allocate to defense versus nondefense accounts,” according to Congressional Quarterly.
The House returns Monday, when there are 10 days until the government runs out of money. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the House Majority Leader, laid out the agenda a short time ago with a CR to fund the government, the debt limit, and the NDAA, among a myriad of issues to be tackled.
Of note, Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), member, House Science, Space and Technology, announced last night he would be leaving Congress next year.
SA – In addition to the two opening hearings on the withdrawal in Afghanistan scheduled for the week of 27 Sep, the SASC has added another closed hearing on the topic (one with former Commander Scott Miller earlier this week) scheduled for 21 Sep. Dr. Colin Kahl, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, is one of the witnesses for that hearing. This is now four hearings dealing with this one subject, something that will slow the process down for other issues like nomination hearings. The only nomination hearing at this time is on 23 Sep for Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost Nominee to be Commander, United States Transportation Command. There is also talk on the Hill that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may also put a hold on civilian nominations at DoD as a result of the Afghanistan withdrawal. We’ll see what happens. Of note, Cruz already has holds on State nominations.
SA – The White House today issued a memo to state and local governments warning of potential consequences should Congress fail to raise the nation’s debt ceiling in the coming days.
SA – Eighty-nine percent of active-duty troops have gotten at least their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients announced. That’s up from 76 percent three weeks ago, when the Biden administration directed the military to require vaccinations.
Lt. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander of U.S. Space Command, told an audience at Space Symposium that the space battlefield is not science fiction and anti-satellite weapons are going to be a reality in future armed conflicts. If a satellite came under attack, depending on the circumstances, “the appropriate measures can be taken,” Shaw said. Shaw asked, “How do we make it more difficult for a potential adversary to think they could succeed in depriving us of our space capabilities?” Sandra Erwin of SpaceNews picked up on those comments in her latest piece focusing on scenarios that “could lead to escalation and wider conflict as rival nations like China and Russia step up development and deployments of anti-satellite weapons.” SecAF said, “It is impossible to overstate the importance of space-based systems to national security.” He added, “China has moved aggressively to weaponize space.” Shaw said, “[W]e are only starting to grapple with… what space warfighting really means.” According to Erwin, “Kendall said resiliency “isn’t just about the individual satellite, it’s about the architecture.” DoD’s Space Development Agency is looking to demonstrate what it hopes will be a more resilient space architecture. The agency is working to deploy a proliferated constellation of small satellites in low Earth orbit as an alternative to the traditional large, expensive spacecraft that DoD has traditionally flown in higher orbits but much smaller numbers.” Full piece: https://spacenews.com/u-s-generals-planning-for-a-space-war-they-see-as-all-but-inevitable/
Please see attached on USSF budget priorities and below extracts:
As the USSF goes through its third year of integration and normalization, our efforts to capture our force presentation model revolve around our ability to accomplish six key functions: 1) sizing forces; 2) deploying forces; 3) employing forces; 4) sustaining operational effects; 5) managing force rotations; and 6) articulating Service purpose. Space Force elements in general are not employed or deployed as large organizational constructs, but rather provide diverse combat effects from tactically independent elements which in many cases are not deployed into or employed from the affected area of responsibility.
As it is a critical imperative of an independent military service to present ready forces to combatant commands, the USSF must accomplish the following four tasks: 1) Establish Service Components assigned to each of the DoD’s Combatant Commands; 2) Align key documentation to account for Space Force Service Components; 3) Design, document and implement Unit Type Codes (UTCs) for the purposes of accurately reflecting the combat capabilities into force elements to enable effective readiness reporting and facilitate tailorable, flexible and agile force presentation of space capabilities; and 4) Clearly delineate service-retained and institutional forces to optimize force readiness and accomplish the organizing, training, and equipping functions required by U.S. Code, Title 10.
The USSF will ensure there is the proper allocation of Service billets to perform the highest priority functions. The Space Force will design operational force elements and a supporting organizational construct for presenting forces to combatant commands. The Space Force will continue to mature its deploy-to-dwell concepts currently captured in our Space Mission Force requirements. Additionally, while the other Services center their force presentation models on an organizational combat unit, i.e. the Army Brigade Combat Team, the Navy’s Carrier Strike Group, the Marine Air-Ground Task Force, and the Air Force Air Expeditionary Task Force, the aggregated USSF force elements will be presented as a Space Mission Task Force and will be assigned or attached to the joint force commander for operational employment.
On declassification, Col. Scott D. Brodeur, director of the National Space Defense Center and director of operations for Joint Task Force Space Defense, told the AMOS Conference, “We have hurt ourselves through our classification red tape” and said reducing classification “helps us not only integrate better but it helps us message what our intentions are.” Those comments were picked up by SpaceNews. https://spacenews.com/space-force-to-consider-space-sustainability-in-any-future-conflict/
According to Theresa Hitchens of Breaking Defense, “Space Command wants much more and more timely observational data, including from industry, to detect, track, characterize and determine what space objects are actually doing in near-real time — a mission set now dubbed space domain awareness, or SDA — according to military and industry experts.” Full piece: https://breakingdefense.com/2021/09/spacecom-needs-more-data-sensors-to-track-on-orbit-threats/
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in a Joint Press Availability with SecDef, SecState, and Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton: “We also discussed working together to enhance cooperation on innovation and critical technologies, to advance the peaceful use of space through a space framework agreement.” – Defense.gov 16 Sep 2021
Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton in a Joint Press Availability with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, SecDef, and SecState: “We’re also looking towards the domains that will shape our future environment – activities that will expand Australia’s space knowledge and capabilities – and I’m pleased to announce that the Australian Department of Defence and the United States National Reconnaissance Office have also committed to a broad range of cooperative satellite activities.” – Defense.gov 16 Sep 2021