The Obama team that will remain in Trump’s Pentagon; Saab moves defense biz to Syracuse; Defense sector growth expected; and more.

Tomorrow, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. With his arrival will come a whole lot of new faces — many of them still to be determined.

If you’ve been around the Pentagon lately you’d have noticed protocol officers have been stationed at the entrances like Wal-Mart greeters waiting to escort family and friends into many farewell ceremonies for President Obama’s appointees. “By my count, this is the 117th award, goodbye or retirement ceremony this week,” Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work joked at his own ceremony last week.

But instead of focusing on the people who are leaving, I want to focus on the people — like Work — who are sticking around the Pentagon at the beginning of Trump’s presidency.

The three who will serve as the acting secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force all have careers steeped in the management of the Defense Department. They are also incredibly knowledgeable in the Pentagon’s budget. And the Trump administration will have to put together a budget proposal early on.

Who is staying. Robert Speer, the Army comptroller, will be acting Army secretary. Over a 25-year Army career, he served largely in financial management roles. He also worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers as the firm’s Federal Practice lead for defense and Army business.

Sean Stackley, the Navy’s acquisition chief, will be acting Navy secretary. Stackley — a holdover from the Bush administration who served throughout the entire Obama administration — was a staffer on the Senate Armed Services Committee and has a background in Navy acquisition and program management.

Lisa Disbrow, the Air Force undersecretary, will be acting Air Force secretary. In recent years she has overseen the Air Force’s budget both as the undersecretary and previously comptroller.  She has a background in intelligence as an Air Force officer and at the National Reconnaissance Office. She also spent 20 years working for the Joint Staff.

Advice for Trump’s Pentagon team: Frank Kendall has never been know as one to bite his tongue during his five years as the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, but he did have some parting advice for the Trump administration: Don’t put a businessman in charge of Pentagon procurement. “[The Pentagon] brings with it some very interesting cultural things and so does this town,” Kendall said this week at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Bringing somebody in who does not have the experience working in that environment I think is a disservice.” Trump has nominated businessmen for several cabinet-level positions.


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Swedish Saab to Grow U.S. Business

Stockholm and Syracuse might have similar weather, but that’s not why Saab, the Swedish aerospace and defense firm, is moving its U.S. defense business from Virginia to central New York.

For starters, Saab already has 500 employees in Syracuse already — 100 of them have been hired in the past 14 months — building radars and air traffic control systems. Now the firm plans to bring at least 260 new jobs there over the next five years thanks to a $30 million deal with New York state.

“This is intended to be the platform for Saab’s growth in the U.S. market,” Erik Smith, president and CEO of Saab Defense and Security USA, said in an interview after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the move. In addition to the aid from the state ($20 million from tax credits and a $10 million grant) Saab is investing $55 million of its own.

“Really the business climate in Syracuse and the fact that our employee base is so strong here means that it makes a lot of sense for us to do this,” Smith said. “We have tremendous aspirations in the U.S. market.”

In September the firm won a Navy contract for new air traffic control radars for aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships. Smith said the project is “a big growth engine for the organization.”

Saab has been in Syracuse since 2011 when it acquired Sensis, a tech company focused on air traffic control and surveillance.

“We have proven an ability to attract talent from across the nation to Syracuse,” Smith said. “Overall the relationship with the state and local governments and with our peer organizations locally here … just means that Syracuse is the right place for Saab right now and certainly the right place to locate our defense company.”

The company sees its defense hub in New York as “the launch point for a number of new products coming into the U.S. market from Sweden and being developed here organically,” Smith said.

“While we have four divisions in the organization today, we look to be expanding that number of divisions significantly in the coming years,” he said.

Maybe we can get a reboot of the Saab 900 Turbo convertible? Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

Deloitte Says Defense, Aerospace Growth Expected

Since Trump’s win in November, those in defense circles have been mostly bullish that he would boost defense spending despite some political and procedural hurdles. Add Deloitte to that list. The global aerospace and defense sector, it says in a new report, will grow in 2017 for both defense and commercial areas. “Defense sub-sector revenues are likely to grow at a much faster 3.2 percent in 2017 as defense spending in the US has returned to growth, after multi-year declines in defense budgets and future growth many be driven by the newly elected U.S. administration’s increased focus on strengthening the US military,” the report states. Rising defense budgets in the U.S., U.K., France, Japan and Middle East combined with security threats are driving arms sales for “modern defense weapons platforms and next-generation technologies, including cyber, intelligence gathering, defense electronics, and precision strike capabilities.” Read the entire report here.

Winnefeld Joins Raytheon Board

Retired Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld was elected to Raytheon’s board of directors, the firm announced this week. He retired from the Navy in 2015 as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. In that role he pushed to get new technology in the hands of the military. Also a former head of U.S. Northern Command, Winnefeld was big advocate for missile defense. Raytheon happens to be a huge player in that market.