The firing at the Naval Postgraduate School: it wasn’t all about the barbecue and lawn chairs; The drop in the Pentagon’s R&D budget, Are Micah Zenko’s criticisms beyond the pale? And more.
- By Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.
Give that man a medal. Panetta will give retiring Israeli MOD Ehud Barak the medal for distinguished public service at a Pentagon ceremony today, the highest award the secretary can bestow, Situation Report was told. The citation will mention Barak’s work on Iron Dome, which has figured prominently in Israel’s defense over the past weeks. Panetta and Barak visited an Iron Dome site last summer.
John Allen’s investigation could take six months. The sense is that the DOD inspector general investigation against Gen. John Allen, ISAF commander, will be speedy because so much is riding on it. Perhaps. But a former senior defense official familiar with government investigations tells Situation Report that the investigation is far more complicated and time-consuming than just reading what are said to be several dozen e-mails between Allen and Tampa socialite Jill Kelley. "It’s not that someone has to just sit down and reads all these," said the former official. Investigators are culling through the e-mails now but are likely finding "new players" from whom they may need to obtain interviews. Those additional interview subjects will create more legwork.
"They will open new avenues that need to be investigated, and that’s where the time-consuming part comes in. If the e-mails alone could be read and decisions made, then it could be done fairly quickly, but normally the e-mails create new allegations and many more people to be interviewed," the official said. "Frankly, I would be surprised if they had this done in six months. I know that sounds like a long time."
The I’s need to be dotted and the T’s crossed. "The acting IG over there is not going to want to submit a report that is this sensitive unless she knows it is 100 percent accurate," the official said. "I guarantee that right now she is getting additional allegations that are probably coming out of the wall…. When people smell blood, they start writing in and giving you additional things to think about."
Welcome to Thursday’s edition of Situation Report, where the cheesy holiday commercials for luxury cars are already grating. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org. And sign up for Situation Report here: http://bit.ly/NCN9uN or just send me an e-mail and I’ll put you on the list.
Mabus fired the president and provost of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. Citing an investigation by the Navy’s inspector general, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus had the two top officials at NPS fired for waste and mismanagement and ducking federal hiring rules. President Daniel Oliver and Provost Leonard Ferrari were let go. Among other issues, the IG cited the purchase of a barbecue grill and lawn chairs from Pier One Imports for Oliver’s official home, Stanley House, on the school’s grounds, and the Naval Postgraduate School Foundation. In another instance, a woman hired as the vice president for finance and administration at the school was paid $275,000 — about $87,000 above federal salary limits at the time — after turning down Oliver’s initial offer of $162,000 plus a $25,000 one-time bonus, circumventing federal salary and incentive limitations.
But we’re told it wasn’t all about the lawn chairs, barbecues, and hiring practices. The dynamic created by Ferrari, seen as an extremely poor manager by those very familiar with the situation, is what brought down Oliver, thought to be a good person who was blind to the problems Ferrari was causing. The nearly 100-page report on the president and the nearly 30-page report on the provost reflect the wrong focus, we’re told — the investigation should have centered on the provost. Navy IG Report: http://bit.ly/Tk3tns
The Monterey Herald writes about how the Naval Postgraduate School mission differs from war colleges. http://bit.ly/V7TTEf
Is there wrongdoing among senior officers that we should be writing about? Let us know.
The Pentagon strikes back. Pentagon pressec George Little writes FP to respond to columnist Micah Zenko’s contention that Panetta is undermining democracy. Zenko’s piece takes Panetta to task for, among other things, highlighting the impact of cuts to the defense budget and suggesting cuts to entitlements.
Little: "That’s precisely what a secretary of defense should do, especially when this secretary is implementing $487 billion in defense spending reductions based on a strategy developed by the department’s military and civilian leaders."
Little’s letter: http://bit.ly/10WUGhb
Zenko’s piece: http://bit.ly/V0GyNz
Mackenzie Eaglen to the Pentagon: don’t be cutting R&D. In a new report, AEI’s Mackenzie Eaglen, along with Julia Pollak, argues that the Pentagon’s "technological supremacy" is under threat and that the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation account has declined by 17 percent since Obama was sworn in. "[It] will decline by another 12 percent, or $8 billion, in real terms, from 2013 to 2017," the report says. "This largely follows a sustained trend of the modernization accounts bearing the largest burden of cuts. From 2010 through 2013, procurement experienced a real decline of over 24 percent and will further drop by over 5 percent through 2017." By comparison, military personnel costs were cut by 6 percent between 2010 and 2013 and will fall another 9 percent through 2017, the report states.
Why do we care? The report’s authors: "Political pressure is mounting from lawmakers who believe that government money could be better spent elsewhere and that defense R&D ‘crowds out’ private-sector R&D efforts. Such opposition to defense research, however, ignores the larger picture: that military research and development, as a foundation of national security, is a constitutionally mandated public good as broadly articulated in the Preamble." http://bit.ly/Ri6Xv3
Is it Hagel’s time? The Cable’s Josh Rogin reports Chuck Hagel is being vetted for a national security job. Last month, Situation Report quoted Andrew Schwartz, senior vice-president at CSIS on the Hagel Notion: "He cuts the right figure, he’s a Republican, Obama likes him a lot, he provides the administration with cover on the Hill, he has a really big name, and I think he wants it." http://bit.ly/TmdEIg
State’s Shapiro: International defense sales, DoD-State cooperation, both up. Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andy Shapiro told the Defense Trade Advisory Group yesterday that the "collaboration between State and DoD is truly unprecedented," citing the expansion of State’s Foreign Policy Advisor Program, or POLAD, which has "dramatically increased" the number of people exchanged between the two departments. (Joe Donovan is Dempsey’s POLAD and the two attended the same high school, John S. Burke Catholic High School, in Goshen, N.Y., but not at the same time.) But what Shapiro really wanted to talk about is the growth in the number of defense sales abroad.
Shapiro: "When it comes to Direct Commercial Sales, by the end of October of this year, we had already received more than 73,000 license requests, which is 2,000 more than the same period last year. Despite the case load, we are maintaining efficiency. Fifty percent of the license requests have been adjudicated in less than 10 days and 80 percent in less than 30 days. We are averaging about 18 days overall for all license types. We are projecting that by year’s end, the State Department will have received and reviewed over 85,000 DCS cases — the most ever."
Shapiro’s office has told Congress that Japan intends to make a $5 billion purchase of the F-35 and that the UAE and Qatar are seeking to purchase the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, or THAAD, in a buy that is worth nearly $8 billion. His speech: http://1.usa.gov/QNwHPS
Top of Mind
- NYT A-1: F-35, costliest jet, sees the enemy: budget cuts. http://nyti.ms/TsSrN5
- Reuters: Pentagon, Lockheed, getting close on next F-35 contract. http://reut.rs/Ys0rEb
- Catholic Online: For Marines, F-35 problems mean no plane for combat. http://bit.ly/SvRWmk
- Xinhua: Spate of blasts rock Syria, battle rages on. http://bit.ly/TtWFHy
- Gulf News: Syrian rebels kill party official. http://bit.ly/V83FWP
- Reuters: Roadside bomb kills 10 civilians in Afghanistan. http://reut.rs/QOwrjV
- Sky News: Syrian rebels down aircraft on offensive.
- Der Spiegel: Greed and hatred: a rebel group’s quest in the Congo. http://bit.ly/SgR1X4
- Danger Room: Study shows 104 places Gitmo detainees could go in the U.S. http://bit.ly/UsYHY7
- Al-Jazeera: Can Afghanistan tackle corruption? http://aje.me/VfPp4f
- Middle East Online: Israel’s war for Gaza’s gas. http://bit.ly/U4oAZL
- WaPo: A mysterious construction project in Israel. http://wapo.st/WvYMIl