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May 23, 2003
Notes from the Pentagon

Cambone's empire
Stephen Cambone has assumed sweeping power over the Pentagon's intelligence bureaucracy as the new undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

We obtained a copy of a May 8 memorandum from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz setting up the new office. It states that the office takes over all 286 persons and policies attached to the intelligence, counterintelligence and security, and other intelligence-related issues that were in the portfolio of the assistant defense secretary for command, control, communications and intelligence, once the Pentagon's top intelligence official.

Mr. Wolfowitz said the new office is in charge of "all intelligence and intelligence-related oversight and policy guidance functions" in the office of the secretary of defense.

Mr. Cambone, a protege of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld who has little intelligence experience, will have several deputies, including three charged with intelligence warning, war fighting and operations, and counterintelligence and security.

The key phrase of the implementing guidance memorandum relates to the office's power over other Pentagon intelligence agencies that in the past have resisted control by Pentagon policy-makers.

It states that the new undersecretary will "exercise authority, direction, and control over the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), the National Reconnaissance Organization (NRO), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Security Service (DSS) and the DoD Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA)."

The undersecretary will be responsible to see that "these organizations ... have adequate acquisition-management structures and processes in place to deliver intelligence programs on time and within budget."

The job of whipping the Pentagon intelligence bureaucracy into shape is formidable. Pentagon intelligence agencies consume the lion's share of the amount spent on intelligence overall, estimated to be about $35 billion annually.

Additionally, the memorandum states that the Pentagon's chief information officer has been given a new title assistant defense secretary for networks and information integration and will report directly to the secretary of defense, an unusual arrangement because most assistants report to an undersecretary.

The post also comes with new authority over Pentagon space activities.

Backdoor work
Some defense contractors tell us they no longer have the wide access to the POM (program objective memoranda) process inside the Pentagon that they enjoyed in the Clinton years.

One industry executive says his company, as a result, is going through the backdoor. It has moved its action team to Capitol Hill, where it tries to persuade congressional staffers to fix budget problems in the firm's weapons programs.

"When you get into the POM fights, from a programmatic standpoint, there's nobody to talk to," said the executive, who has worked in the legislative and executive branches. "The service secretaries have projected the arrogance from Rumsfeld on the issue."

This executive and others in the industry warn they may not be as ready in 2004 as they were in 2000 to write $2,000 campaign checks, citing Pentagon's stay-at-arm's-length attitude.

On the upcoming presidential campaign, the executive said, "You're not going to find big defense companies going out on a limb and do the things that are required. Rumsfeld's people are not our friends. None of the Washington operations for any of the big contractors are pleased with Rumsfeld."

Kadish's liberal
Missile defense is not known to be a favorite of liberal Democrats, who for decades preferred such treaties as the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to defense programs, such as missile shields.

The Clinton administration sought to expand reliance on the ABM Treaty and nearly succeeded in crippling Pentagon's regional missile-defense programs through flawed negotiations with the Russians. President Bush pulled out of the treaty and ordered defenses to be deployed by next year.

So, many Pentagon officials and missile-defense specialists were surprised to hear Terry Little, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) manager of the major Kinetic Energy Interceptor Program, declare his political leanings at a closed-door conference in March.

"I'm proud to be a liberal Democrat," Mr. Little told the gathering, several participants said. He explained to the conference that MDA Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish is not interested in his political views.

Defense sources tell us, however, that Mr. Little has been active in blocking work on space-based missile defenses, a liberal bugaboo.

President Bush called for "development and testing of space-based defenses" in his recently signed presidential directive on missile defense.

An MDA spokesman said Mr. Little made the comments in the context of light-hearted remarks on how he came to the MDA. "His political affiliation is private and irrelevant to his work," the spokesman said.

White's farewell
Former Army Secretary Thomas White went out with class earlier this month. He refrained in his farewell address at Fort Myer from outright criticism of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who forced the resignation.

Pentagon sources say the defense secretary believes that the Army is too slow to transform itself to meet threats.

But Mr. White, a highly decorated Vietnam War combatant, did get in one jibe at his critics within the office of the secretary of defense.

"Defense theologians who now claim transformation is the wave of the future couldn't even spell it four years ago," Mr. White said.

An Army officials said the former secretary's point was that Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, had announced a major transformation in 1999, nearly two years before the Bush team's arrival.

Youthful indiscretions
Adm. Thomas H. Collins, the Coast Guard commandant, wants to ensure that a few mistakes early in officers' careers do not brand them forever.

Adm. Collins sent out a message earlier this month ordering that lieutenant commander and above promotion boards no longer consider OERs (officer evaluation reports) from the officer's time as an ensign, the officer corps' entry-level rank. Fitness reports, however, may still be considered for lieutenant and lieutenant junior grade boards.

"I am initiating this policy to encourage intelligent risk taking without fear of being unduly penalized for minor youthful mistakes and to assist ensigns in adjusting to the Coast Guard culture and the Coast Guard officer corps," which numbers 5,815, Adm. Collins said. "There is a significant learning curve during an officer's first year and a half of commissioned service, and minor mistakes made during this period should not adversely affect officers later in their careers."

A Guard spokesman said ensign fitness reports will be retained for junior rank promotions because at that point in an officer's career it is the only available record.

But by the time the officer is up for lieutenant commander, he or she has more recent OERs as a lieutenant and lieutenant junior grade.

  • Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at

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