The Cable

Trump Nominates Robotics Promoter for Army Procurement Position

The latest pick rose to fame pushing new technologies in Afghanistan

A plaque of the Department of Defense seal is seen January 26, 2012 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A plaque of the Department of Defense seal is seen January 26, 2012 at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration on Thursday said it will nominate an assistant secretary of the Army with a background in advanced defense technologies.

Bruce D. Jette would serve as assistant secretary of the army for acquisition, technology, and logistics if confirmed.

He founded and ran the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, which deployed explosive-inspecting robots called PackBots in Afghanistan, according to a 2002 New York Times report.

Soldiers could carry the camera-equipped 42-pound robots in backpacks and use them to to neutralize roadside bombs. PackBot were also used to go into buildings or caves before soldiers entered, for example, to map hostile areas and pre-plan how to navigate.

“I don’t have any problem writing to iRobot, saying ‘I’m sorry your robot died, can we get another?”‘ Bruce Jette, then an Army colonel, told the Associated Press, of deploying the system in Afghanistan. “That’s a lot easier letter to write than to a father or mother.”

Jette has been president and chief executive officer of Synovision Solutions LLC, which advises military system managers. The firm has worked with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. Army, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Jette founded Synovision in 2005, according to the company website.

He was a senior research officer in the Army Research Laboratory and a strategic science advisor to the chief of staff of the Army.

He received a degree in nuclear engineering and chemistry from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1976 and a doctorate in material science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993, according to a LinkedIn profile.

The Trump administration has been notoriously slow to nominate appointees for political positions, including for the Defense Department. As of August, according to CNN, only 15 of the 53 Senate-confirmable positions were in place in the Pentagon.

Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

John Kester is a Washington, D.C.-based reporter. Twitter: @jkester

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