Fear Not

By Christopher J. Castelli / May 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

This week, some Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates complaining that the nondisclosure agreements he made military officials sign for the fiscal year 2010 budget process might create a climate of fear among those called to testify about the budget.

But Pentagon officials disputed that yesterday, telling reporters nothing should inhibit honest answers.

“Now that the budget is out,” Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale said, military officers testifying on Capitol Hill “can talk about anything that's other than security classification or predecisional information.”

Hale and Vice Adm. Stephen Stanley, the Joint Staff's director for force structure and resources, said they see no intimidation.

Stanley said the service chiefs are expected to provide their best military advice to Congress. There are “things for a specific service that they would disagree with,” he said, but from a “holistic approach,” the military’s top brass were “supportive of the secretary's decisions."