Pen­tagon reclama-mode

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

De­fense and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials are work­ing qui­etly on plans they hope will re­verse some of the weapons cuts and de­fense pol­icy changes made by out­go­ing De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates, who said in a re­cent speech that he had can­celed 30 arms pro­grams dur­ing 4 1/2 years on the job.

Study groups within the mil­i­tary ser­vices, the Joint Staff and the of­fice of the sec­re­tary of de­fense are al­ready work­ing on a se­ries of ap­peals that bu­reau­crats call “recla­mas” for the next de­fense sec­re­tar y, ex­pected to be cur­rent CIA Di­rec­tor Leon Panetta.

A reclama is de­fined by the Pen­tagon as “a re­quest to duly con­sti­tuted au­thor­ity to re­con­sider its de­ci­sion or its pro­posed ac­tion.” Ac­cord­ing to de­fense of­fi­cials, the ap­peals will in­clude calls for re­viv­ing some of the can­celed Army, Navy and Air Force weapons pro­grams killed by Mr. Gates as well as re­vers­ing de­ci­sions on de­fense poli­cies rang­ing from China to Rus­sia.

Air-power ad­vo­cates are hop­ing the next de­fense sec­re­tary will re­vive the F-22 jet pro­gram that was ended by Mr. Gates af­ter 187 air­craft. The jet is con­sid­ered the most ad­vanced in the world and has not had the prob­lems faced by the over­bud­get F-35.

Mr. Panetta is ex­pected to con­tinue the de­fense cuts launched by Mr. Gates af­ter Pres­i­dent Obama said in April he wants to cut $400 bil­lion from the Pen­tagon.

Weapons of­fi­cials in the ser­vices also are study­ing Mr. Panetta’s record as a mem­ber of Congress from 1977 to 1993 for clues to his de­fense bi­ases. What they found, not sur­pris­ingly, is that he sup­ported pro­grams that ben­e­fited his na­tive Cal­i­for­nia, such as keep­ing open the Naval Post-Grad­u­ate School at Mon­terey dur­ing one of the past rounds of mil­i­tary-base clo­sures.

The over­all pic­ture that emerged from pre­lim­i­nary re­search on the in­com­ing de­fense sec­re­tary is that he is “not a squishy lib­eral,” said one of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the ef­fort.

On China, one of the cur­rent ar­eas of de­bate within the de­fense and in­tel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ties, ini­tial as­sess­ments are that the CIA di­rec­tor is ex­pected to be tougher than Mr. Gates on the is­sue. At the CIA, Mr. Panetta pushed the spies to step up in­tel­li­gence col­lec­tion against China, which some agency bu­reau­crats op­posed, fa­vor­ing a more cau­tious spy­ing ap­proach that would avoid up­set­ting Bei­jing.

An­other big ques­tion be­ing asked in the Pen­tagon is whom Mr. Panetta will bring with him as close ad­vis­ers if he is con­firmed by the Se­nate and whether they will be ca­reer CIA of­fi­cials or past ad­vis­ers.

Mr. Panetta, as a for­mer con­gress­man, is also ex­pected to be more at­tuned to Congress than Mr. Gates, who of­ten re­garded the leg­isla­tive branch of gov­ern­ment and its nu­mer­ous re­port­ing re­quire­ments as a nui­sance.

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