man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that about 60 F-22s will be bought over three years, Gen. Schwartz said: “I won’t dispute Adm. Mullen’s characterization, but as I’ve indicated, I have yet to discuss this with the secretary of defense.”
Gen. Schwartz also said that as far as fighter jets go, “the expectation is the F-35 will predominate in the fighter fleet.” The F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, will begin coming on line in 2013, he said.
“And certainly it will be our intent and certainly our recommendation that the F-35 production rates are sufficiently high to enjoy both production efficiencies on the one hand which will benefit not only the U.S. customers here including the Navy and the Marine Corps, but also our overseas customers,” Gen. Schwartz said. “The rate of acquisition will be at a rate which can assist us with our aging issue.”
One program likely to remain is for a planned new long-range bomber, according to a defense official. The Pentagon is investigating an assertion from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, that Bush administration political appointees are “burrowing” into career positions at the Pentagon.
“We do not believe any ‘burrowing’ took place but are conducting an audit of special hiring authorities to ensure nothing occurred under the radar,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.
“However, concern that any Pentagon employee, whether ca- reer or a political holdover, would seek to frustrate the execution of the new president’s policies is unfounded. We are at war. We have a commander in chief. We all, both military and civilian in the Defense Department, follow the president’s directives, guidance and orders as professionals.”
The comments were made in response to a Feb. 4 letter from Mrs. Feinstein to Mr. Gates asking for an investigation into burrowing by Bush appointees in the Office of Detainee Affairs.
“I ask that you immediately review the circumstances behind the conversion of these positions and the hiring of any former Bush administration appointees as career or temporary appointments in that office,” she said.
A defense official said the request was prompted by reports that Tara Jones, a former aide to a Republican senator, who worked as a contractor in public affairs and became a political appointee in the detainee office, is seeking to secure a nonpolitical career position.
The official said any probe should not be limited to Bush appointees but include burrowing by Clinton administration aides, such as Kaye Whitley, a political appointee who became a highly paid GS-15 in the office for prisoner of war and missing in action issues.
“These issues are hardly ever raised about Clinton politicals who obtain career positions,” the official said.
Bill Gertz covers national security affairs. He can be reached at 202/636-3274, or at insidether firstname.lastname@example.org.