News Briefs – August 5, 2019


Pentagon is reviewing the ‘war cloud’ contract Amazon wants

The Pentagon said new Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is reviewing the bid process for the military’s $10 billion cloud-computing contract.
President Donald Trump has criticized the process, citing complaints from other companies, as potentially biased toward Amazon. The e-commerce giant and Microsoft have been competing for the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure plan, or JEDI.
In a statement, Pentagon spokeswoman Elissa Smith said that no decision will be made on the program until the review is complete. Esper has previously said he wants to “take a hard look” at the JEDI contract.
The Washington Post reported Aug. 1, citing anonymous sources, that the White House ordered the Pentagon review. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Post.
Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump said earlier this month that the administration will “take a very long look” at the contract, citing “tremendous complaints” about the process from companies that are no longer in the running. Oracle and IBM were eliminated from an earlier round of competition, leaving Amazon and Microsoft as the two finalists.
The week before Trump’s comments, a federal judge tossed out a second challenge by Oracle alleging that the bidding process was rigged in Amazon’s favor. Some in Congress, however, have expressed concerns about potential conflicts of interest.
The Pentagon had previously said it plans to award the contract as soon as Aug. 23. It is not clear if the review will delay the process. AP

Royal Navy ship shadows Chinese destroyer in English Channel

Britain’s Royal Navy says one of its ships shadowed a Chinese destroyer as it sailed through the English Channel.
A navy statement said the HMS Westminster met up with the guided-missile destroyer Xian as it entered Dover Strait on Aug. 3.
The Xian was returning from Russia’s annual Navy Days in St. Petersburg. The U.K. navy says another frigate accompanied the Chinese ship up the channel three weeks ago on its way to the event.
The Westminster’s commanding officer, Will Paston, says the Royal Navy “routinely monitors other country’s warships through territorial waters” and the “Xian conducted herself in a safe and professional manner throughout.”
The Westminster has been attached to a NATO task group since March and training for anti-submarine warfare off the west coast of Norway. AP

U.S. to test new missile as arms treaty with Russia ends

With the scrapping of a landmark arms control agreement Friday, the U.S. announced plans to test a new missile amid growing concerns about emerging threats and new weapons.
U.S. officials said they are no longer hamstrung and could now develop weapons systems previously banned under the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia, a Cold War-era agreement that both sides repeatedly accused the other of violating. The treaty was also criticized because it did not cover China or missile technology that did not exist a generation ago.
The end of the treaty comes amid rising doubts about whether the two countries will extend an agreement on long-range nuclear weapons scheduled to expire in 2021. President Donald Trump said he has been discussing a new agreement to reduce nuclear weapons with China and Russia.
A senior administration official downplayed the upcoming U.S. weapons test, saying it was not meant to be a provocation. The official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the test flight, said the U.S. is “years away” from effectively deploying weapons previously banned under the agreement.
But the U.S. might eventually want to base such weapons in Europe as a counterbalance to Russia, or in Asia to counter China. AP