Gingrey: Pentagon not ‘forthright with facts’ in F-22 fight

In May, Washington was all a-bother about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim that she was “misled” by the CIA when it came to issues of torture.

Now another member of Congress feels he’s been done wrong by a highly esteemed portion of the executive branch. On the House floor today, U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) declared that the Pentagon had not “been forthright with the facts” when it came to this week’s fight over the F-22 in the Senate.

Not that he’s saying anyone was misled.

Here’s the clip:

Funding for seven additional stealth fighters was stripped from a defense appropriations bill on Tuesday by the Senate. At issue is a Congressional Quarterly article published Thursday, citing a Pentagon report that the replacement F-35 was two years behind schedule.

(Insider the Air Force magazine tells us they published the same information in November, but the fact seems not to have gotten much attention.)

On Friday, Gingrey said:

Given that the need to transition to the F-35 was cited by several Senators who voted to terminate the F-22 program, it is indeed troubling that this information was held internally until after the F-22 vote earlier this week.

If the Pentagon had been forthright with the facts, there is a very strong chance that the hearts and minds of several senators might have been changed and the funding for the additional F-22’s may not have been stripped….

I hope that as we move forward with negotiations between the House and the Senate on the future of the F-22 program, the Pentagon will make every effort possible to ensure that Congress is fully briefed on the facts and what they mean for the future of American air dominance.

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12 comments Add your comment

The Snark

July 24th, 2009
6:58 pm

Oh sure, Phil, the Pentagon was lyin’ to avoid being given another $7 billion worth of high-tech weapons. Right.

truth

July 25th, 2009
6:39 am

Gingrey, Shambliss, Pelosi 3 of a kind. Big spending, big government Liberals.

F22 Guy

July 25th, 2009
7:49 am

Lockheed makes the F35 and did not tell Gingrey that they were 2 years late? I smell a rat.

If Gingrey doesn’t watch his mouth the Marietta plant won’t get any F35 work and our union brothers will be out of a job forever.

Bob in Winder

July 25th, 2009
10:29 am

PORK….PORK….PORK

Base

July 25th, 2009
3:01 pm

Phil knows how to whine doesn’t he.Who hears it is what I want to know.Time for Phil to go.

Bob in Marietta

July 25th, 2009
5:12 pm

Robert Gates is on a roll. Question is, how long will it last?

The politically savvy defense secretary scored big legislative wins when the Senate voted convincingly to end production of the high-priced F-22 jet fighter and killed an aircraft engine project that he says isn’t needed.

Gates, a Republican holdover from the Bush administration, is on a campaign to change the way the Pentagon does business. In his sights are unnecessary or financially troubled weapons that siphon money away from the troops and gear required for irregular wars now being fought in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Yet getting Capitol Hill to go along with further deep cuts to big-ticket programs remains a huge challenge as lawmakers claw to protect the jobs these projects create in their states and districts. Others have serious disagreements with the Obama administration’s strategic choices.

Case in point: House lawmakers want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for equipment Gates doesn’t want, including more than $400 million for the VH-71 presidential helicopter that the Pentagon wants canceled for being behind schedule and vastly over budget.

”It’s the rarest occasion when a mature weapons system, with all the contracts and subcontracts, is terminated by the Congress of the United States,” Republican Sen. John McCain, who voted in favor of killing the F-22, said recently.

Those hoping the defense budget will be purged of Cold War-style weapons look to be disappointed.

Iran and North Korea are perceived threats in the short run, and superpowers China and Russia still loom as potential threats over time. That means the U.S. arsenal will remain loaded with aircraft carriers, ballistic missiles, nuclear submarines, tanks and long-range bombers like the durable B-52 of Cold War-vintage.

What Gates wants is a better balance between the heavy weapons for a large-scale war and the needs of ground troops going into their ninth year of combat against unconventional foes. For too long, he and his senior advisers have argued, those pressing demands have taken a back seat.

”It would be nice to win our current wars,” Michael Vickers, the Pentagon’s top special operations official, said Thursday.

The grounding of the $65 billion F-22 program that played out last week was aided by special circumstances, according to defense policy analysts.

The Obama White House used substantial political capital to stop F-22 production at 187 aircraft, threatening to veto any legislation that included money for more new planes. It’s unlikely such an effort will often be repeated given the stuttering economy, health care reform and other serious challenges the administration needs Capitol Hill’s help with.

”They’ve got bigger fish to fry,” said Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va.

Lockheed Martin, the large and influential defense contractor that makes the F-22, didn’t lobby to keep the production line open. That’s perhaps because the company also builds the F-35, an aircraft built for ground attack missions that Gates says is better suited for the uncertainties of unconventional warfare.

The Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps plan to buy more than 2,400 F-35s.

And the Air Force’s top leadership, which backed Gates on the F-22, may not be so cooperative with other moves to drop major weapons from its budget.

”It’s very hard for the stars to align in a constellation that allow a hardware program to be terminated,” said Gordon Adams, a former Clinton administration budget official who specializes in defense issues. ”They just happened to align very nicely here.”

The Senate’s decision on the F-22 isn’t the final word. There’s a push in the House of Representatives to buy more planes. But Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has indicated the fight is all but over.

”I am considerably dubious about moving forward to fund the F-22 in light of the administration’s opposition to it,” he said Wednesday.

Obey’s committee, though, has challenged Gates’ recommendations on several other projects.

Its version of the 2010 defense budget includes money for the presidential helicopter, $674 million for the Air Force’s C-17 cargo jet, nine additional F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, and $560 million for an alternative F-35 engine — a project the Senate also voted to end as Gates wanted.

The helicopter money was sought primarily by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., whose congressional district includes a Lockheed Martin Corp. factory where the aircraft are being assembled.

Lawmakers defend the moves, saying the Defense Department is being too quick to shut down programs U.S. taxpayers have invested heavily in. Close to $3.2 billion has been spent on the presidential helicopter and another $2.5 billion on the reserve engine, they say.

”You can’t keep spending (money) on research and not get anything out of it,” said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa.

Gates would need at least two full terms as defense secretary to curb the influence Congress wields over the military’s procurement system, said Thompson of the Lexington Institute.

”You’re not going to take politics out of the way we buy weapons,” Thompson said.

It may be different story inside the Pentagon, said William Nash, a retired Army general and a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

It is significant that Gates, backed by President Barack Obama’s veto threat, didn’t strike a back room deal and allow a few more planes to be built to mollify F-22 proponents in Congress, he said.

Top military leaders ‘’saw that the secretary of defense and the president of the United States, having drawn a line, stuck with it,” Nash said. ”That will bring a discipline, I think, into the building.”

The Sarge

July 25th, 2009
7:53 pm

What’s going on here…we’re all a-quiver over weather to spend public money which is both scarce and better-spent on domestic issues.

1) There are already some 137 F-22s yet-to-be-deployed-in-a-combat-role.
2) The current inventory of F-18/F-15 aircraft, in the hands of the best fighter pilots in the world, will more-than handle threats.
3) Stealth capability can best, and most cost-effectively, be achieved as it was in the opening hours of the 91′ Gulf War…remove the adversarie’s “eyes” with helo-launched munitions.
4) The primary purpose of DOD spending is neither to serve as a jobs machine nor as a taxpayer-financed political football.

I know it’s too much to expect of our leaders…perhaps a little common sense…eh?

Sarge

Dave

July 26th, 2009
6:53 am

Holy hell “the sarge” that post of yours was funny, specially point 3. Very amusing , thanks for cheering me up.

Bob

July 26th, 2009
8:22 am

Senate voted 58 to 40, two votes fewer than would have been required to fund the program, Obama and the man he defeated in last year’s presidential contest both hailed the outcome, using strikingly similar language.

“It really means there’s a chance that we can change the way we do business here in Washington,” said McCain, who long has had a deep disdain for the F-22 program.

The outcome of the fight is “a good example of us starting to change habits in Washington,” Obama said.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), who had worked the $1.75 billion into the $680 billion defense spending bill, was left to grumble that he had never seen a White House lobby as hard for anything as this one did.

Road Scholar

July 26th, 2009
8:36 am

So Mr Gingrey, you forgot to ask that question? Get off your a$$ and do your job!

Norma Vaughan

July 26th, 2009
11:29 am

Another Georgia politician wanting us to pay for something that our armed forces don’t need just to help his lobbyist. Get your head out of the sand and be on the side of the American taxpayer.

That's How It Goes

July 26th, 2009
6:26 pm

Well maybe if Georgia had Democrat Govenor and at least one Democrat Senator, they could’ve gotten into the President’s ear. But all we got is loser crazy Republicans and fake Democrats (with 1-2 exceptions) so we get no play in DC like we use to.

Time to vote Democrat. Republicans are so 2000.