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Patrick M. Shanahan, Deputy Secretary of Defense (U.S. Army photo by Monica King/Released)

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters there will be room for multiple companies to help build the cloud which will store the Pentagon's massive computer data and that the current contract for a provider only covers about 20% of what will be needed.

"This is our pathfinder" Shanahan said, but many more contracts will be sought, and contractors will be expected to find ways to integrate their systems.  This is good news for industry, which has protested for months about the way the Pentagon plans to award its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud Program (JEDI).

"The business model for cloud operators is going to evolve. The interoperability of the systems is going to evolve. All the things people say won't happen early on, I can tell you it will happen," he said.

Shanahan spoke at an April 24th breakfast meeting with reporters hosted by the Defense Writers Group, which is part of the George Washington University Project for Media and National Security in GW's School of Media and Public Affairs.

The Pentagon, he said, is not planning for another significant funding boost in fiscal year 2020 and is exploring ways to make budgetary "headroom" to support modernization investments in weaponry and military forces, being drawn up by a new innovation team.

The wide-ranging conversation prompted articles on topics ranging from the threat of Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons, to problems keeping down costs of the F-35 fighter jet.

Examples of coverage:

Air Force Magazine: Space Corp Assessment by June 1, Shanahan Says

C4ISRNET: JEDI cloud contract ‘fair and open’ competition, Shanahan says

Defense News: Pentagon AI center progressing, but hypersonics and lasers may not get same treatment

DoD News: DoD Seeks to Make Civilian Agencies More Productive, Efficient

Federal News Radio: DoD’s JEDI is a ‘pathfinder’ for future DoD cloud computing contracts

Inside Defense: Pentagon seeking 'headroom' for FY-20 modernization strategy

Inside Defense: Senate clears Nakasone to run CYBERCOM, NSA

Jane’s: Pentagon plans to consolidate hypersonic efforts as part of ‘road map’

Newsweek: Russia And China Militaries Reach ‘New Heights’ Together, Agree To Challenge U.S. In Middle East

Next Gov: JEDI Will Be Just One of Many Clouds, Says Pentagon’s No. 2

TASS: US defense official comments on relations with Russia

Washington Examiner: Pentagon ‘aligned’ with Mac Thornberry on agency cuts, DoD's Patrick Shanahan says

Admiral Paul F. Zukunft
U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul F. Zukunft (John Perrino / GW School of Media and Public Affairs)


U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul F. Zukunft says drug smuggling from Colombia has dramatically increased in recent months ...continue reading "Drug Smuggling and Seizures Surging, Says Coast Guard Commandant"

President Trump's Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Daniel Coats became the highest-ranking guest thus far to the Defense Writers Group at a breakfast meeting April 4th. He responded to questions on the U.S. involvement in Syria, the response to the apparent Russian nerve gas attack in Britain, and the arms race in space, among other topics. 

Coats gave reporters a heads-up that Mr Trump had made decisions about US military involvement in Syria and about further sanctions following the nerve gas attack in Salisbury, England. Officials soon announced that despite Trump's desire to exit from Syria, US forces would remain for now, and that a group of wealthy oligarchs close to President Putin will be prevented from visiting the U.S. or investing here.  

Coats said the Administration is taking steps to prevent Russian interference in the upcoming midterm elections.

"I think we are becoming more and more aware of the potential for Russia to continue to engage in any number of ways relative to our elections and a lot of steps are being taken," he added.


Examples of the coverage:

CNN: US spy chief says more will 'be done' to counter Russian election interference


CBS News: Trump wants complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria within "months"


Daily Beast: DNI Dan Coats: U.S. Has Reached Decision on Whether to Pull Out of Syria


Daily Beast: Trump’s Intel Chief Won’t Pledge ‘Full’ Release of Gina Haspel’s Torture Record


Daily Telegraph: Vladimir Putin timed Salisbury attack to get election boost, top US intelligence official suggests


Inside Defense: White House offers no details on Syria


Reuters: U.S. makes decision on troops in Syria: intelligence chief


Space News: DNI Coats: Enemies are developing advanced technology, space weapons. ‘We have to up our game’


U.S. News and World Report: U.S. Plans More Responses to Malign Russian Activities: Coats


At a well attended March 29th meeting with journalists hosted by the Defense Writers Group, Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein covered a wide range of topics, from his concerns about keeping down the cost of the F-35 aircraft, to communications with the Russian military in Syria, to new gear to better fit female pilots.

Goldfein wants to see the cost of operating and sustaining an F-35 joint strike fighter fall to the same levels as current fourth-generation fighters like the F-16, he told reporters.

“Our initial target is to get them down to the equivalent or very close to what we’re currently spending to sustain fourth-generation fighters,” he said 

The top Air Force general downplayed speculation that the F-35 aircraft purchase program could be reduced in number due to operating costs, telling reporters that he continues to be committed to the Air Force’s entire 1,763-unit buy 

Examples of the coverage:

Air Force Times: From boots to flight suits, the Air Force is working to improve gear for female pilots


Bloomberg: Air Force Risks Losing Third of F-35s on Upkeep Costs


Breaking Defense: Not Cutting F-35 Buy, But Depot Structure May Change: CSAF



Defense News: US Air Force aims to lower F-35 sustainment costs to that of an F-16


DoD News: Defense Budget Provides Air Force With Needed People, Money, Time


Federal News Radio: Goldfein tries to justify press crackdown, says Air Force still obligated to talk to public


Jane’s: Goldfein remains committed to US Air Force F-35 programme of record


Jane’s: Goldfein defends USAF criticism of Boeing’s KC-46 work Air Force Wants F-35 Support Costs at F-16 Prices: Goldfein


National Defense Magazine: Air Force Pushing Lockheed Martin to Reduce F-35 Sustainment Costs


Space News: Goldfein: Air staff ‘excited’ about new three-star space commander


Task & Purpose: Air Force Finally Acknowledges Its Uniforms And Gear Are Not Made To Fit Women


TASS: Russian, US military contacts in Syria becoming more mature — USAF Chief of Staff


Washington Examiner: Air Force has no plans to cut F-35 purchases despite upkeep concerns, general says

When radios started making their way into American living rooms, the government regulated content broadcasted over the airwaves. Those same rules applied when television ushered in a new era of programming. It’s now time for social media to meet similar standards, said James Clapper, former director of national intelligence.

The intelligence community concluded that Russia used social media during the 2016 presidential election to sow discord and inflame political tensions. It was the most aggressive assault on the United States political system to date, Mr. Clapper said at George Washington University on Monday.

“Given the impact that social media has, I just don’t see how we can continue to allow it to be unregulated,” Mr. Clapper said.

Mr. Clapper gave an address and participated in a Q & A session at Jack Morton Auditorium as part of the Contentious Narratives conference, co-hosted this week by GW’s School of Media and Public Affairs, GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs and the Harvard University Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. The conference examined the effects of disinformation on peace building and on efforts to document human rights abuse and war crimes. The Q & A was moderated by David Ensor, director of GW's Project for Media and National Security and former director of Voice of America.

President Barack Obama asked the intelligence community to put together an assessment of Russia’s interference in the presidential election in December 2016 to hand off to then-President-elect Donald Trump. The report found there was no evidence that foreign actors tampered with voter tallies. The report could not say what impact Russian social media efforts had on the election outcome, Mr. Clapper said.

“To me, now as a private citizen, it stretches credulity and logic to suggest it had no impact,” he said. “It had to have an impact on some voter decisions.”

Mr. Clapper, who resigned at the end of the Obama administration, believes the Russians are still mounting an aggressive campaign against the United States through social media. The country is not prepared to handle it under Mr. Trump’s leadership, he said.

“I continue to be concerned, very concerned, as a citizen, by the president’s almost aggressive indifference to the threat posed by Russia,” he said.

The United States should regulate social media the way the country regulates cigarettes, which come with warnings about the health impact of smoking on the package. Social media posts from potentially hostile actors shouldn’t be censored, but the audience should know where they come from. The United States should work to secure voting apparatuses and use backup paper ballots to guard against Russian meddling in future elections, Mr. Clapper said.

It was a positive sign to see Mr. Trump standing with European allies and expelling Russian diplomats after a former Russian spy living in England was poisoned with nerve agent, Mr. Clapper said. Britain has blamed Russia for the attack and several allies have taken action against Russia in response.

Mr. Clapper is also hopeful about a possible summit between the United States and North Korea. Having exhausted other options for dealing with the isolated country, talking to them directly about pursuing peace is worth a shot.

After a long career in the military and intelligence, Mr. Clapper said it is instinctive for him to be loyal, reverential and respectful to the commander in chief. This has become difficult for him under Mr. Trump.

“This is a great time to be a former,” he joked.

By Kristen Mitchell (This article originally appeared in GW Today)

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