Thanks to Politico for Reporting from Defense Innovation Days

Thanks to Politico’s Austin Wright for attending our 2015 Defense Innovation Days event!  His Day One report – “Pentagon Softens R&D Rules” and interview with Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, can be found here.


WELCOME TO THE REED ZONE: Our colleague Austin Wright sends this dispatch from Newport, R.I.: One of the main attractions here at the Defense Innovation Days conference was the state’s senior senator, Jack Reed. The Rhode Island native knows how to work a room. He and his West Point classmate, Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall, stopped at most of the 23 booths on the exhibition floor where local defense contractors large and small showed off their products. The senator offered restaurant suggestions to out-of-towners (for burgers, he recommends Pour Judgment). And he showed off his detailed knowledge of the history of Rhode Island (and its lighthouses).

Reed also chatted with Morning D about a range of defense issues. The senator, who’s now the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee and is likely to become chairman in the next Congress if Democrats regain the majority, said the National Defense Authorization Act remains stalled over the disagreement in conference on personnel issues. He said there haven’t been any member-level discussions over the last three weeks. He also said he’s heard there have been some “informal” discussions between congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle on a budget deal to lift the Budget Control Act spending caps and stave off the nightmare scenario for defense contractors: a year-long continuing spending resolution.

And Reed said he supports the Pentagon’s request to launch another round of base realignment and closure, or BRAC — and that he’s confident New England bases would emerge unscathed. That includes the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard that barely survived the previous 2005 BRAC round. “I think one of the things about the BRAC process is that it gives everybody an opportunity to point out the strength of facilities, and I think Portsmouth is a strength,” he told us. “We have few shipyards that can do that kind of work.”

— A top aide to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus pushed back yesterday on the Republican narrative that the fleet is shrinking under President Barack Obama. Thomas Oppel, Mabus’ longtime chief of staff, said his boss inherited a shrinking Navy in 2009 but has put the fleet back on a path to growth. “There’s a narrative out there — and you heard this in 2012, and you’re hearing it again now starting to pop back up — that somehow the Navy has been cutting ships,” Oppel said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” 

— And Rhode Island’s governor explained how she’s trying to get local defense contractors to press their suppliers to relocate to the state in return for tax credits. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat who’s been in the job just seven months, touted the plan as a way to revitalize her state’s stagnant economy. “Companies like Raytheon, Electric Boat are perfect for that because they want their suppliers close to them,” she told Morning D. “They want their suppliers in their backyard — it’s good for business. This just gives them a little extra economic incentive into making it happen.”


Two Corporate Place
Middletown, RI 02842
[email protected]

Receive monthly updates, industry news, and event invitations from the SENEDIA community.