Trump Selects General James Mattis as the Next Secretary of Defense

Some readers may remember that General James Mattis was the person that an anonymous collective of conservatives were supposedly trying to recruit for a third party run for President.  Instead he is now going to be the next Secretary of Defense for the soon to be President Trump:

“We are going to appoint ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we’re not announcing it until Monday, so don’t tell anybody,” Trump told his supporters in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Keep it inside the room,” he added jokingly.

Mattis, who served in the Marines from 1969 until his retirement in 2013, represents a big change from the current secretary of defense, the bookish Ashton Carter, a former Harvard professor who was trained as a physicist.  [Yahoo News]

You can read more at the link.

Pentagon Official Put On Administrative Leave After Being Charged In Parking Incident

I know parking in the D.C. area can be crazy, but this going way overboard:

Bryan Whitman, the senior Pentagon official charged last month with stealing a Capitol Hill nanny’s license plates, has been placed on paid administrative leave and had his top-level security clearance revoked.

It remains unclear whether Whitman, the highest-ranking career civilian in the Defense Department’s public affairs office, had informed his superiors of the alleged crimes — which he was required to do.  (……)

In early April, court records say, Whitman stole two license plates from the car of a nanny who had used a visitor pass to park in his neighborhood, where she cares for a young couple’s 1-year-old son. Two days later, after the plates were replaced, he stole another from the car. Then, in late April, he struck once more — but this time the couple caught him on a video camera they had mounted inside their home’s front window.

After handing over the plates to police and being charged, Whitman agreed to a deal this week that would lead to the case’s dismissal if he pays $1,000 in restitution, performs 32 hours of community service, remains out of trouble for the next 10 months, and stays away both from the nanny and the woman for whom she works.

The source close to him insisted he didn’t know his target was a nanny. Whitman, who has worked at the Defense Department for more than two decades, believed the person using the visitor pass worked on Capitol Hill and was taking advantage of the available parking.

A spokesman for the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation Department said Wednesday it is legal for nannies to use visitor passes when they are working.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but I would not want to live some place where you have to get a parking pass just park on the side of the street.

New Balance In A War of Words with the Pentagon Over Shoe Snub

I wear New Balance running shoes and the claim they are not durable by the Pentagon I am highly skeptical of considering how the various shoes I have wore over the years have held up just fine:

Now the Pentagon has stepped into more procurement quicksand, this time here in Lawrence, where it touched off a war of words with the New Balance footwear company, the Lawrence City Council and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, D-Lowell, by alleging the company’s athletic shoes are not fit for military duty. The company is not allowed to sell shoes on military bases, which it says will cost it the sale of many as 225,000 pairs to recruits and soldiers annually.

 

It was a snub heard ’round the world, sparking allegations that the Department of Defense prefers shoes made in Vietnam and Malaysia rather than in American hometowns like Lawrence, and amplified by New Balance’s decision to retaliate by taking up arms against President Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership. The trade pact would lower tariffs on goods imported from 11 other nations, which New Balance says would flood the market with cheap foreign-made athletic shoes.

 

Rob DeMartini, New Balance’s president and CEO, said he agreed not to oppose the trade pact in exchange for assurances from Michael Froman, the Obama administration’s top trade official, that he would ease the impact by helping the company get a Defense Department contract to produce up to 225,000 pairs of athletic shoes a year for military recruits and soldiers. That never happened, the company said, then unleashed its attacks on the trade pact after years of reluctant silence.

 

“I’m definitely not a defense appropriation or procurement expert, but in the seven years I’ve been working on this, I’ve seen nothing but a bureaucratic nightmare, where middle managers at the Pentagon are making decisions that affect real jobs and real lives in America,” said Matthew LeBretton, a New Balance vice president. “There’s something really wrong with the system.”

 

LeBretton refuted DoD allegations that New Balance shoes are too expensive, noting that the company offered to supply the shoes at cost in an effort to keep its assembly lines humming and its supply lines full. He also disputed Pentagon claims that the test shoes it provided were not durable; published reports say the shoes were given to just six service members who were asked to run 30 miles over two months and then fill out a questionnaire.  [The Eagle Tribune]

Here is probably the most troubling statement in the whole article:

“If the Defense Department wants to make an argument that they want to buy non-American goods, that’s one thing,” Smithberger said. “But what a company’s political position is should have no bearing on whether they would get a contract or get a fair hearing and an ability to compete. It’s definitely improper.”

You can read more at the link.

Next Defense Secretary Once Recommended Bombing North Korea

It looks like Ashton Carter will become the next Secretary of Defense if he passes the vetting process:

Ashton Carter, the former second-in-command at the Pentagon, appears to be the top choice to replace outgoing Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Barring any last minute complications, Ash Carter will be President Barack Obama’s choice as the new Secretary of Defense, several U.S. administration officials told CNN

An administration official had said that Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, a former General Counsel at the Pentagon, was also still on the list of possibilities, but on Tuesday morning, sources said Johnson was no longer being considered. The prospect of an additional confirmation hearing for Johnson’s replacement if he were to move to the Pentagon as the Senate switches to Republican control would have been problematic for the White House. [CNN]

Carter is actually a very brilliant man when it comes to defense issues and well respected within the defense community which should allow him to be a fine Secretary of Defense.  With that said though even brilliant men like him can make eyebrow raising recommendations.  Long time ROK Heads may recall that Carter along with former Defense Secretary William Perry once recommended bombing North Korea back in 2006:

Fears have grown in recent weeks following reports of activity at a site in northeastern North Korea where U.S. officials say a Taepodong-2 missile — believed capable of reaching parts of the United States — is possibly being fueled.

An op-ed piece in Thursday’s Washington Post by William Perry, secretary of defense under former President Bill Clinton, and Ashton Carter, Clinton’s assistant secretary of defense, advocates a pre-emptive strike to destroy the missile.

“The United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched,” it said.

Cheney, however, told CNN that, while “I appreciate Bill’s advice,” such an action could worsen the situation.

I think the recommendation back then had a lot to do with politics because Perry and Carter likely understood former President Bush would not bomb North Korea.  However, it would be interesting during his confirmation hearing if someone in Congress would ask him if he still believes bombing North Korea is a good idea.

You can read more on this topic over at One Free Korea.