The Insider

By Jason Sherman
January 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

President-elect Barack Obama announced key Pentagon appointments this afternoon, nominating William J. Lynn to be deputy defense secretary, Robert Hale to be the comptroller, Michèle Flournoy to be the under secretary for policy and Jeh Charles Johnson to be general counsel. In a statement, Obama said:

“I am confident that these distinguished individuals have the expertise and commitment needed to help me implement a sustainable national security strategy that combats 21st century threats and keeps the American people safe. They share with me the utmost respect for our brave men and women in uniform, and will work day and night to support our troops, strengthen our military, and advance our capacity to carry out 21st century missions. Together with Secretary Gates and our military, we will work to responsibly end the war in Iraq, defeat al Qaeda and the Taliban, and renew America’s strength and standing in the world. I am honored that they have joined me in this mission, and I trust that they will serve the American people well.”

Here are the biographies of the nominees sent along with the announcement:

William J. Lynn III, Deputy Secretary of Defense

Lynn brings decades of experience and expertise in reforming government spending and making the tough choices necessary to ensure that American tax dollars are spent wisely. Lynn served as the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) from 1997 to 2001. In that position, he was the chief financial officer for the Department of Defense and the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense for all budgetary and fiscal matters. From 1993 to 1997, Lynn was the director of program analysis and evaluation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, where he oversaw all aspects of the DoD’s strategic planning process. Lynn was awarded three DoD medals for distinguished public service, the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and awards from the Army, Navy and Air Force. He also received the 2000 Distinguished Federal Leadership Award from the Association of Government Accountants for his efforts to improve defense accounting practices. Lynn currently serves as senior vice president of Government Operations and Strategy at Raytheon Company. Before entering the DoD in 1993, Lynn served for six years on the staff of Senator Edward Kennedy as liaison to the Senate Armed Services Committee. He has also been a Senior Fellow at the National Defense University, on the professional staff at the Institute for Defense Analyses and served as the executive director of the Defense Organization Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Lynn has a law degree from Cornell Law School and a Master’s in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He is married with a daughter.

Robert F. Hale, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)

Hale currently serves as the Executive Director of the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC). From 1994 to 2001 Mr. Hale was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate as the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management and Comptroller). He was responsible for the Air Force budget and all aspects of Air Force financial management. He also spearheaded creation of the first-ever certification program for defense financial managers. Hale served for twelve years as head of the defense unit of the Congressional Budget Office. Early in his career, Hale served on active duty as a Navy officer and worked for the Center for Naval Analyses. Robert Hale holds a BS with honors from Stanford University as well as an MS from Stanford and an MBA from George Washington University. He is also a Fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration. Mr. Hale has served on the Defense Business Board and recently completed service on a Congressionally-mandated Task Force on the Future of Military Health Care. He is a former National President of the American Society of Military Comptrollers and is a Certified Defense Financial Manager with acquisition specialty.

Michèle Flournoy, Under Secretary of Defense (Policy)

In January 2007, Flournoy cofounded and was named president of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a venture dedicated to advancing a strong, centrist national security strategy. Prior to joining CNAS, she was a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she worked on a broad range of defense policy and international security issues. Previously, she was a distinguished research professor at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University (NDU), where she founded and led the university’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) working group, which was chartered by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop intellectual capital in preparation for the Department of Defense’s 2001 QDR. Prior to joining NDU, she was dual-hatted as principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy and threat reduction and deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy. In that capacity, she oversaw three policy offices in the Office of the Secretary of Defense: Strategy; Requirements, Plans, and Counterproliferation; and Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasian Affairs. Flournoy was awarded the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service in 1996, the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service in 1998, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award in 2000. In addition to several edited volumes and reports, she has authored dozens of articles on international security issues. Flournoy holds a B.A. in social studies from Harvard University and an M.Litt. in international relations from Balliol College, Oxford University, where she was a Newton-Tatum scholar.

Jeh Charles Johnson, General Counsel

Johnson is a partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, based in New York City. Johnson's career has been a mixture of successful private law practice (as an experienced trial lawyer) and distinguished public service (as a federal prosecutor and presidential appointee). At age 47, he was elected a Fellow in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. Johnson's career as a trial lawyer began in 1989-91, as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted public corruption cases. He served three years as a federal prosecutor. In 1998, Johnson left Paul, Weiss for 27 months when President Clinton appointed him General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force, following nomination and confirmation by the United States Senate. While in that position, Johnson was awarded the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service. In 2007-08, Johnson served as a foreign policy advisor to President-elect Obama’s campaign. Johnson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a graduate of Morehouse College and Columbia Law School.

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Call it a 21st-century shooting range. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency today announced the contractors that will help build the National Cyber Range, where government officials will one day be able to test America's offensive and defense weaponry for the war online.

The winning contractors include the cyber shops of some of the usual suspects in the defense contracting scene. Also playing will be SPARTA of Columbia, MD, which nabbed the biggest chunk of the contract, worth $8.6 million. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD, also won a sizable portion, worth $7.3 million.

"The National Cyber Range will provide the Nation with revolutionary, real-world simulation environments from which organizations can develop, field, and test new 'leap-ahead' concepts and capabilities required to protect U.S. interests against a growing, worldwide cyber threat," DARPA said in a Jan. 8 statement.

First order of business for the winning companies over the next eight months will be the development of "detailed engineering plans," DARPA said.

By Dan Dupont
January 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Hill is reporting something we've been hearing, too -- Robert Hale for Pentagon comptroller:

Hale, who is currently the executive director of the American Society of Military Comptrollers (ASMC), is expected to be named comptroller of the Pentagon, where he’d head the office that manages the world’s largest military budget, according to sources familiar with the Obama transition team selection process.

Hale is a former Air Force comptroller.

His bio is here.

By Marjorie Censer
January 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Just in time for a kick-off organizational meeting next week, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) is welcoming eight new Democrats to the panel.

The seven freshman Democrats joining the HASC are Reps. Glenn Nye of Virginia, Chellie Pingree of Maine, Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Frank Kratovil of Maryland, Eric Massa of New York and Bobby Bright of Alabama, Skelton said in a statement.

Additionally, Skelton notes, Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island will return to the committee.

“It’s an honor to welcome these Members to the House Armed Services Committee, and I’m confident they will discover they have joined one of the best committees in Congress,” Skelton said .

The committee begins its work with a 10 a.m. organizational meeting on Jan. 14.

By Marjorie Censer
January 8, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Because of the unprecedented challenges facing President-elect Obama, the outgoing administration is facilitating “a different kind of transition,” according to Stephen Hadley, President Bush's national security adviser.

Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington yesterday, Hadley said the transition “is very much a mutual effort by the outgoing team and the incoming team.”

The Bush national security team has prepared a document that summarizes the 40 key issues of the administration, including the team's strategy on each issue, what has been accomplished and the remaining work to be done.

“Why do we do this?” Hadley asked. “The new team doesn't need to read them -- certainly, doesn't need to follow the policies in them -- but what we thought was important, in this different kind of transition, ((was)) for them to know what they have to work with -- what kind of policies ((are)) in place, what kind of relationships are in place and what kind of tools they have available. And what we, at least, think are the challenges that are going to hit them quickly.”

In addition, the Bush team has prepared a series of briefing memorandums and “view-graph briefings” on relevant issues and is planning joint briefings for the outgoing and incoming National Security Council teams.

“Both sides, with the direction of both President Bush and President-elect Obama -- ((are)) trying to make this a very different transition, because we're in a very different time,” Hadley added.

January 7, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates might not need to be confirmed by the Senate, but that doesn't mean he won't have to face the Senate Armed Services Committee soon.

According to a notice just sent out by the panel, Gates will be the only witness at a Jan. 27 hearing called "To receive testimony on the challenges facing the Department of Defense."

UPDATE: A source on the committee confirms that the hearing is in fact in lieu of a confirmation sit-down.

By Dan Dupont
January 7, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Wall Street Journal is the latest to note that Bill Lynn is likely to be the next deputy defense secretary. (We told you that before Christmas.)

Actually, the paper's "Washington Wire" says a bit more than that:

The Obama administration is expected to announce that it has offered the No. 2 job at the Pentagon to William Lynn, currently and executive at defense contractor Raytheon Co., according to people familiar with the situation.

According to these people, Lynn plans on accepting the post. He had been considered one of the front runners in recent weeks. Lynn, 55 years old, is a former comptroller of the Pentagon, a background that will come in handy as the defense budget comes under pressure. At Raytheon, Lynn is charged with heading the defense contractor’s Washington operations.

By Marcus Weisgerber
January 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

As the Pentagon prepares to cut the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter alternate power plant program -- again -- engine makers General Electric and Rolls-Royce have launched a new Website touting their product's success.

The F136 Fighter Engine Team's stand up of the Web site comes about a month before the Defense Department's fiscal year 2010 budget proposal heads to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers -- for the third time in three years -- will have to decide whether to fund the program.

The cyber launch also comes in advance of a major testing milestone at which GE and Rolls-Royce will power up the first production F136 engine early this year.

Despite the F136's success, Pentagon officials have repeatedly lobbied to kill the program in an effort to save money, funding only the Pratt & Whitney-run F135 engine program.

Inside the Air Force first reported in November 2008 that the Pentagon would try to ax the F136 program in its FY-10 budget submission. Defense Department officials claimed they would save $3.5 billion over the next six years, according to sources and documents.

F136 program supporters claim a second engine is needed should a major issue arise with the primary power plant down the road. Opponents, however, say technological advancements in engine building make one engine a safe bet.

The Pentagon and allies plan to buy thousands of the fifth-generation Lockheed Martin-built F-35 fighter-bomber aircraft.

Air Force F-16 fighters are powered by a mix of Pratt & Whitney and General Electric engines. Foreign countries are given the option of Pratt & Whitney or GE engines when buying Lockheed-built F-16s.

By John Liang
January 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The proposed relocation of thousands of Marines and other military personnel to the Pacific island of Guam is raising tensions between the military and Environmental Protection Agency over who will pay for efforts to avoid negative environmental consequences as a result of the influx, sister publication Defense Environment Alert's Stuart Parker reports this week:

Local lawmakers are also worried that the military has not properly considered the implications of the repositioning program, with inadequate resources being dedicated to new infrastructure, including waste disposal.

Sources with the DOD Joint Guam Program Office (JGPO), which oversees the buildup, confirm they are now in talks with EPA over funding issues after EPA Region IX official Eric Manzanilla wrote by e-mail to JGPO head Gen. David Bice Nov. 13 warning that other government agencies would not be able to compensate if DOD fails to adequately fund activities to offset the impacts resulting from the increase in personnel and infrastructure. DOD says it is addressing some land issues related to the buildup, but does not specify what commitments it may make to offset environmental impacts.

Manzanilla, Communities and Ecosystems Director with Region IX, told Bice “we believe it is very unlikely that the government of Guam or other federal agencies will acquire all the resources to adequately address impacts that go beyond the military’s fencelines in Guam.”

Significant infrastructure-related impacts are expected from the massive buildup, with particular effects on the island’s drinking water supply and waste handling, sources say.

“Guam and the other U.S. Pacific Territories lag behind the rest of the nation in many socio-economic parameters, including environmental infrastructure,” Manzanilla says in the e-mail, warning of the possible emergence of “two Guams,” one military and adequately provided-for, and the other civilian and lacking resources.

In his e-mail, Manzanilla invites Bice to participate in a high level meeting to discuss funding infrastructure upgrades on the island. A spokesperson for JGPO could not confirm Bice’s commitment to such a meeting, but issued the following statement: “the Department of Defense is working with EPA, as well as other federal regulatory agencies such as U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services and ((the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration)), to address environmental issues associated with the military realignment.”

. . .

In a Dec. 19 letter to Defense Environment Alert responding to questions on the military buildup, Guam Senator Judith Paulette Guthertz (D) cites anticipated problems resulting from the environmental impacts of the military buildup, primarily pointing to fresh water supply and waste issues. Guthertz will chair the new Committee on the Military Buildup and Homeland Security in the Guam Legislature, which was to begin its session on Jan. 5.

“The military’s buildup plans primarily concern northern Guam where our aquifer, a water lens ((reservoir)) below ground level, is located. One of our concerns in the north is the possible negative impact on our water supply through ground contamination,” says Gutherz.

A Government Accountability Office report released last September found that the Defense Department had developed a basic framework for the military buildup on Guam but had not issued the congressionally required master plan that was initially due.

A separate GAO report released in May calls on the Navy to plan ahead for voyage repair capabilities in Guam that will be impacted by the cadre of vessels the service aims to locate there by 2012.

By Christopher J. Castelli
January 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

President-elect Barack Obama has not yet formally named Leon Panetta to lead the CIA, but today he praised the former White House chief of staff's management skills, political savvy and integrity -- defending his pick amidst complaints from some lawmakers about Panetta's lack of intelligence experience.

“I have the utmost respect for Leon Panetta. I think that he is one of the finest public servants that we've had,” Obama told reporters in Washington, DC.

As White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration, Panetta was fully versed in international affairs and crisis management and had to evaluate intelligence on a day-to-day basis, Obama said. At one point when a cell phone rang, Obama joked to reporters, "That may be him calling now, finding out where it's at."

Obama said his administration will have a "top-notch" intelligence team that will provide the best, unvarnished intelligence. (Although no announcement has been made, retired Adm. Dennis Blair is widely reported to be Obama's choice for director of national intelligence.) The new intelligence team will be forward-looking and will break with past practices that have tarnished the image of the CIA and U.S. foreign policy, Obama said. He also praised the work of U.S. intelligence professionals.

For an interesting defense of the pick, read this.

Meanwhile, Politico reports that Vice President-elect Joe Biden said today it was a mistake for the Obama camp not to give Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) a heads up about the Panetta pick. She chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Also: Newsweek reports Obama's camp is phoning key members of Congress to apologize for not providing advance notice of the pick.

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

While the Air Force was perhaps the most vocal of the services about plans to fight in cyberspace, others also are gearing up for the fight online. The Army, for example, is doing some intense soul-searching about what changes are needed to ensure soldiers can keep the upper hand in future cyber-fights. After a period of introspection, we're told, Army officials plan to start work on a field manual for cyberspace as part of the service's "3" series. The designation indicates the document will have an operational focus.

In a blog entry on the Combined Arms Center Web site, Army Lt. Col. Chip Bircher gave a good overview last month of the ground service's general thinking in the cyberspace realm. Bircher is the deputy director, futures, in an organization called the U.S. Army Computer Network Operations & Electronic Warfare Proponent.

We talked to Bircher's boss, Col. Wayne Parks, in November, and he told us service officials had begun deliberations about a dedicated force structure for cyberwarfare.

In his blog post, Bircher cites the cyber attacks on Estonia (2007) and in Georgia last summer -- both were allegedly carried out by Russians -- as examples of the types of clashes U.S. forces might face in the near future.

"Cyber attacks prior to the introduction of conventional Russian military forces ((into Georgia)) were in many respects analogous to deep strikes against key infrastructure which set the conditions for a successful Russian ground invasion," he wrote.

This stark assessment of Russian military cyberwar power during the spat with the former Soviet republic is noteworthy, by the way. So far, experts have concluded the cyber attacks were merely aimed at defacing Georgian government Web sites and that there was no link to military action on the ground.

By Dan Dupont
January 5, 2009 at 5:00 AM

A Happy New Year to all of our readers.

And a note on the transition: As we noted here just before Christmas, the name of William Lynn, former Pentagon comptroller and current Raytheon executive, has been circulating for some time in discussions of who might be brought into the Pentagon by the Obama team.

And: As we reported right here, he's looking more and more likely to be the choice for deputy defense secretary -- a bit of news some others seem to have come across today.

Much more to come.

By Sebastian Sprenger
January 5, 2009 at 5:00 AM

After the lighter literary fare of the holidays, some might eagerly want to return to the somewhat drier texts of the U.S. military establishment. For those, a great read will be the latest edition of the Joint Staff's Joint Strategic Planning System, issued last month. The document outlines exactly how the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff goes about the business of providing military advice to the defense secretary and the president.

For the first time, the new edition describes the inner workings of the so-called Comprehensive Joint Assessment, which we told you about here and here. The CJA process, begun last October, is designed to provide a snapshot of requirements and challenges of the combatant commanders.

Some have described the timing of the drill as opportune, as it offers President-elect Barack Obama a good idea of what is currently important around the COCOMs just as he prepares to take office later this month.

By Christopher J. Castelli
January 5, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Vice President-elect Joe Biden and a few fellow senators will depart later this week on a "fact finding" trip to Southwest Asia, according to a statement from his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Alexander. For security reasons, details of the itinerary will be released as the trip progresses, according to the statement, which does not name the countries they will visit.

The members of the delegation, who will be participating in all or part of the trip, include incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry (D-MA) and Sens. Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Biden will travel in his capacity as the outgoing Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Alexander said.

"The fact-finding delegation will make it clear to foreign leaders that they are not there to speak on behalf of the U.S. government, or convey policy positions for the incoming administration," she said, noting the delegation thanks the Bush administration for its cooperation in making the trip possible.

By Jason Sherman
December 31, 2008 at 5:00 AM

President-Elect Barack Obama's Defense Department transition team has notified more than a third of the Pentagon's 250 political appointees that they will not be asked to stick around after Jan. 20, according to The Hill.

Despite keeping Defense Secretary Robert Gates in the Pentagon, President-elect Obama’s transition team informed 90 Bush appointees their services will not be needed after Inauguration Day.

Scott Gration, a senior official on Obama’s transition team, called and emailed several of President Bush’s Pentagon appointees about 10 days ago to inform them they were being dismissed.

“It was very professionally done,” a senior Pentagon official -- who will not remain in place beyond Inauguration Day -- told on Dec. 31 of the notification process which took place early last week.

On Dec. 19, Gates -- speaking on behalf of Obama -- sent a note to all 250 Pentagon political appointees asking them to consider working until they pass their respective portfolios directly to their replacements. In that memo, reported here, he advised that some individuals would be told by Dec. 22 that they will be asked to vacate their posts with the administration change. In addition, Gates said:

To the extent you are willing and in a position to continue to serve, I am deeply appreciative. However, I encourage you to continue to prudently plan for the transition from DOD employment, as the pace of personnel decisions by the incoming Administration is likely to accelerate.

I regret the delay in being able to provide you with more clarity and guidance on how long some of you will be asked to continue serving in your current positions. I appreciate your patience and the willingness to consider this request in the interest of providing continuity for this Department and for its critical mission to the Nation in a time of war.