See my latest article contribution to WND: “Feds recruit private sector to expand drone use; Seek traffic control experts to launch more spy planes over U.S. airspace.”
See my latest article contribution to WND: “Feds recruit private sector to expand drone use; Seek traffic control experts to launch more spy planes over U.S. airspace.”
Training of Pakistani intelligence and military personnel in the use of electronic surveillance and analysis equipment potentially could take place on U.S. soil, according to an Army planning document that U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor has located.
The document asserted that the Army at this point only is conducting a market survey of firms capable of providing such training; however, the “sources sought” notice equally made clear that a follow-on Foreign Military Sales procurement of services would allow the training to take place either outside of the country—Pakistan, specifically—or domestically.
The notice referred to Arizona, Florida, and Maryland as possible training locations without explicitly identifying facilities or military bases. Presumably, though, one such possibility is the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, whose contracting center is coordinating what formally is known as the Market Survey for Ground Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (GISR) System (Solicitation #MARKET-SURVEY-5101-1).
The GISR system was developed by DRS Technologies, a Parsippany, N.J.-based subsidiary of Finmeccanica SpA— a company for which the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance owns, according to the corporate website, 30.2% of the share capital.
Though the notice did not identify the name of the GISR system that DRS developed, nor did it refer to a specific, previous contract to develop that system, the document offered the following description:
The system provides rapid detection and localization of a wide-range of threat signals, monitors signals of interest, and supports real-time analysis to provide mission-critical intelligence to the warfighter. The system consists of a combination of 3 or more subsystems each consisting of; a manpackable direction finding (DF) and homing VHF/UHF receiver, a handheld computer, DF and communications antennas, handheld radio for communications and internetworking, a video transmitting air to ground microwave communications system, a vehicular mounting kit for on the move operations, and a sophisticated signals analysis node hosted on a laptop computer and connected via radio.
Separately, the U.S. government in recent years awarded DRS contracts valued in the billions for a multitude of technology and training programs, many which the company carried out or supplied in combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, one of its employees—former U.S. Marine Javier de la Garza—was killed while working for DRS as a communications technician in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated Jan. 31, 2012, to include a direct link to the above-mentioned market-survey document. It should be noted that, as of this date, the U.S. Army has not make publicly available any further information about the Pakistani training endeavor).
OTHER MONITOR ARTICLES ON PAKISTAN:
A bill that seeks to reduce the federal workforce by 10% over the next few years was introduced today by House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform Chmn. Darrell Issa (R-Cal.) and subcommittee leaders Dennis Ross (R-Fla.), and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).
The legislation aims to accomplish that goal by limiting the hiring of one new federal employee for every three who leave their jobs or retire. The Reducing the Size of the Federal Government Through Attrition Act of 2011 (HR-2114) supposedly would save taxpayers $127.5 billion over ten years.
The bill likewise prohibits federal entities from simply awarding contracts to vendors to make up for the loss of personnel.
Chaffetz, who also is a member of the House Budget Committee, said in a joint statement, "The American people deserve a federal government that is smaller, leaner, and more efficient... Private sector job creators and families in my district have learned to do more with less. So should the federal government."
One former government insider who spoke to U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor on condition of anonymity predicted that major departments such as State, Defense, Health & Human Services, and possibly even the Dept. of Commerce likely would evade such cuts if the bill is signed into law.
“They’ll simply claim that matters of national security, economics, or public health preclude them from complying with the law,” according to the source, who had not yet seen the bill.
Indeed, a closer look at the bill’s text reveals that its sponsors already have built such a mechanism into the proposed law.
According to Section 2(e), the White House would be granted the power to approve waivers when it deems necessary::
(1) EMERGENCIES.—This section may be waived upon a determination by the President that—
(A) the existence of a state of war or other national security concern so requires; or
(B) the existence of an extraordinary emergency threatening life, health, public safe ty, property, or the environment so requires.
(2) AGENCY EFFICIENCY OR CRITICAL MISSION.—This section may be waived, with respect to a particular position or category of positions in an agency, upon a determination by the President that the efficiency of the agency or the performance of a critical agency mission so requires.
“In the end, we’ll see a savings of millions, maybe, not billions, for the taxpayer,” the source said.
Details of an emerging data-mining and intelligence-analysis program reminiscent of the Pentagon’s controversial Total Information Awareness (TIA) project emerged yesterday, U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor has discovered.
Similar to TIA, which Congress in 2003 de-funded insofar as domestic applications, the Insight Focused Incubator initiative seeks to create a multimedia system that obtains, synthesizes, and analyzes mass volumes of data via the development of an advanced “‘plug and play’ modular architecture” of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) technologies.
According to a Special Notice that the Monitor obtained via routine database research, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) issued a call to industry for innovative ideas leading to the creation of such a system.
The Insight program at DARPA’s Information Innovation Office (I2O) became known to the public last September, when it initially met with industry representatives to discuss its vision for the program (solicitation # DARPA-SN-10-70). However, yesterday’s reference to the Insight Focused Incubator moniker appears to take the program to the next level of execution.
“As part of the Insight platform, the Insight program is developing a virtual environment (VE) capability to enable system evaluation using simulated sensor data, augmented with real-world collected data, within a simulated world of various threats, terrains, and terrain features,” the special notice/request for information says.
The key to Insight’s development extends beyond the mere collection of data and the development of virtual threat scenarios; rather, DARPA is looking for innovative ideas for an evolutionary, interoperable system of various ISR components.
From a technical standpoint, the new system that DARPA envisions would possess the ability “to easily add, remove, substitute, and modify software and hardware components” as they become available to the government.
From an operational perspective, the Insight Focused Incubator would lead to the design of a system that integrates, correlates, fuses, and exploits “multi-intelligence data.” This would include, for example, a combination of worldwide sensors and platforms that combine the use of signals intelligence, video and ground moving target indicators (VMTI and GMTI) and even “Behavioral (pattern-of-life) modeling including cultural, social, and insurgency dynamics.”
Other objectives for the system include “data mining across all sources, both real-time and forensic” as well as the creation of “an active sensing process with multiple functions occurring simultaneously.”
DARPA anticipates launching a three-phase structure for Insight Focused Incubator, during which time it would award contracts ranging from $400,000-$800,000 per phase for each contractor selected for the project. The agency did not disclose the total potential funding for the program. Proposals are due June 30.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) currently is assessing the capabilities of companies that provide such services, according to a “sources sought” notice that TPR located through a routine search of the FedBizOpps database. DTRA describes itself as “the intellectual, technical and operational leader” for DoD and U.S. Strategic Command efforts to detect and combat threats from weapons of mass destruction.
The document does not explicitly state that contractors will be tasked with placing video news releases (VNRs) into mainstream media newscasts -- a controversial government practice that has come under fire from media and congressional critics. However, it specifies that a selected contractor would provide support such as “serving as part of the DTRA synthetic media cell; drafting quick-turn-around articles to support simulated media activities and aiding in webpage operations and the production of broadcast materials and graphics, as needed.”
The contract calls for support of DRTA public affairs personnel in preparation, maintenance, and distribution “on a quick-turn around basis broadcast-quality news stories, news releases, articles, fact sheets, and digital images and productions to targeted audiences.”
Among other duties, the contractor likewise would be responsible for helping to create – and to perform “security reviews” – of internal and external websites, newsletters, PowerPoint presentations, and other media. Additionally, it would conduct daily news analysis and provide briefings to DRTA officials on media coverage of the agency.
The document did not provide an estimated value – nor did it guarantee the awarding -- of future contracts.
(Click here to access the SOURCES SOUGHT NOTICE.)
The creation of next-generation "intelligent" surveillance systems capable of sensing group- and individual-behavioral changes could be deployed across U.S. airports and other transportation centers -- if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can indeed achieve such a capability. The agency's wish-list of new surveillance capabilities includes "micro-behavior detection," an outcome which TSA seeks to accomplish, for instance, via automated recognition of changes in facial expressions "that indicate stress and other anomalies," according to a procurement document that The Peacock Report has located. TSA's Office of Security Technology seeks to create additional micro-behavior detection capabilities such as the "detection and identification of nervous related actions" such as sweating and pacing, the document says.
The first step that TSA's "Intelligent Closed-Circuit Television" (ICCTV) project will take toward achieving this capacity is an assessment of commercially available "automated and semi-automated technology," according to a TSA Request for Information (RFI) dated Feb. 24. Assessing and cataloging these technologies could be followed by subsequent contracting actions necessary to bring about "an easily-integrated 'system of systems,'" the RFI says:
It is envisioned that such a video system… could be part of an integrated approach to enhancing the security of the national transportation system in the United States by means of remote surveillance… The objective of this RFI is to solicit input from industry related to technologies with operational capabilities that enhance and automate or are capable of automating some of the remote surveillance processes and tools available to meet the TSA’s requirements.
The ICCTV system that TSA envisions likewise would be capable of "macro-behavior detection." Such capabilities would include "individual-level anomaly detection," enabling the agency to spot people "walking in the wrong direction" or simply loitering. That surveillance function would unfold concomitant with the automated or human "tracking or following of individuals within a facility" using multiple cameras, it said. Similarly, it hopes to deploy remote surveillance tools to agents in the field who could tap into this system.
TSA points out that it is carrying out its post-9/11 congressional mandate to deploy advanced technologies that modify and enhance the agency's airport-screening checkpoint capabilities and infrastructure. Such enhancements later could be employed in settings other than airports, according to the RFI:
Finding solutions that secure the aviation transportation mission is the primary focus for this RFI in the near term, but the TSA is interested in the eventual application of operationally effective and suitable security screening technologies for other transportation modes as well.
The swift, global deployment of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) equipment using non-lethal intercontinental ballistic missiles is one of the latest initiatives to come out of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). According to a Special Notice that The Peacock Report located via a routine search of the FedBizOpps database, the goal of the Rapid Eye program is to develop and "deliver a persistent ISR capability anywhere on the globe within one hour..."
While currently in the conceptual stage, DARPA envisions the creation of an intercontinental ballistic missile system to deliver what is known as a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle to geographic targets of interest. The agency on July 25 will meet with industry and scientific-community representatives to discuss the project. Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm and military contractor, is hosting this "industry day" event at its Arlington, Va. offices.
An affiliate of behemoth defense contractor L-3 is reaping the benefits of U.S.-led intelligence-gathering operations Africa, where the State Dept. is outsourcing segments of a multinational data-collection, analysis and dissemination operation. State intends to award a sole-source contract to Alexandria, Va.-based MPRI (formerly known as Military Professional Resources, Inc.) to train several African governments and the United Nations in the use of the Tripartite Fusion Cell (TFC) system. Based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DROC), the purpose of TFC is to connect DROC, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and the U.N. Mission in DROC via a satellite-linked communications network, thereby enabling participants to jointly obtain, share, analysis and distribute intelligence data used to combat rebel forces operating in the region.
According to a State planning document that The Peacock Report has obtained, the sole-source contract calls for MPRI to "mentor" officials from the U.N. and the above-mentioned nations on how to "fuse raw information into usable intelligence products to combat the Negative Forces operating in eastern DR[O]C with the intent of bring peace and stability to the region." MPRI under the arrangement will report to the U.S. MIssions in each of the four countries on the progress of the program. The value of the contract is undisclosed.
MPRI already has profited handsomely from the so-called "War on Terror" and from the invasion and occupation of Iraq, as a review of contracting documents since 2003 has shown. Previous and recently planned federal-contracting actions include:
The deployment of 98 "law enforcement personnel (LEP) to serve as investigators, planners, and analysts in support of designated US Army and Marine Corps units deploying to and operating in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to a U.S. Army Special Notice dated June 6. The Army anticipates releasing a more detailed synopsis of this endeavor Aug. 15, followed by a formal solicitation on or around Oct. 26.
A potential $200 million ceiling on a contract that DoD jointly awarded to MPR, Blackwater Lodge & Training, and Northrup Grumman for the Bush Administration's "Global Peace Operation Initiative," for which these companies would help train U.N. and other troops in peacekeeping operations.
A $5 million contract to provide soldier training at the Counterinsurgency Center for Excellence, Camp Taji, Iraq;
Another contract ceiling raise from $50-$75 million for the African Contingency Operations and Assistance (ACOTA) program;
A $41.8 million language translation and interpretation services contract;
A $2.6 million Iraqi Ministry of Defense training contract;
A $120 million, U.S. Dept. of Justice "worldwide support services contract to support the Criminal Division's International Criminal Investigations Training Assistance Program (ICITAP)";
The Pentagon recently guaranteed defense contractor L-3 Communications an additional $600 million specific to providing logistical support to the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), raising the ceiling on an existing contract from $1.5 billion to $2.1 billion. According to a Special Notice that The Peacock Report located during a routine search of the FedBizOpps database, USSOCOM is boosting the existing five-year contract because of the "unanticipated high level of support" for the so-called global war on terror (GWOT) stemming from "the events of September 11, 2001" and "USSOCOM's mission change based on those events," according to the document.
The Dept. of Defense (DoD) is soliciting bids from private firms capable of providing U.S. military leadership with "media analysis" services, according to a contracting document that The Peacock Report recently located. The office of the Asst. Defense Secy. for Public Affairs intends to award a contract of unknown value to a firm that will scour the media "to gather data, assess the information, interpret the results, and write a variety of reports for senior leaders" at DoD. The selected contractor will perform the work at the Pentagon, the document said.