Israeli Official: Iran Biggest Threat to Region
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel’s minister of defense, cautioned
recently that Iran is expected to produce a nuclear bomb within
three years. “We know from all our information that, by 2005,
they will be ready to produce to the world for the first time, an
Iranian nuclear bomb,” he told reporters.
Ben-Eliezer, who also is the leader of Israel’s Labor Party
and an Army major general, said that other Mideast leaders are worried
about the nuclear threat posed by Iran. “Last Wednesday, I
spent a day with Mubarak [the president of Egypt]. A few weeks before
that, I spent the day with Abdullah, the King of Jordan. …
They are also worried. They are shaky. They really don’t know
what would happen, how things are going to develop … if something
would start with Iran,” he said.
Iran does not have enough diplomatic bonds with the West to secure
regional stability, noted Ben-Eliezer. “Who is going to guarantee
that they will not use it? [the nuclear bomb] Who is going to guarantee
that the American interests would be [protected] in that part of
The U.S. government has to figure out how to deal with Iran—economically,
politically and diplomatically, Ben-Eliezer said.
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Acquisition Challenge: 100 New Starts in 2004-08
This summer, the Marine Corps will inaugurate its “Acquisition
Campus,” located about two miles north of the Quantico Marine
Base, in Virginia. About 1,000 acquisition professionals will be
moving in as early as July, said Brig. Gen. James M. Feigley, chief
of the Marine Corps Systems Command.
As they settle in their new digs, these acquisition workers will
need to get busy very quickly, because the Marine Corps has challenged
them to field at least 100 new products between fiscal years 2004
and 2008. “It’s a new rule at the Marine Corps,”
Feigley told a recent industry conference. “Our goal for POM
2004 [the five-year spending plan that begins in 2004] is 100 new
starts,” he said. What that means is that “we have to
start delivering products within that POM cycle.”
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SpaceCom Chief Has ‘Transformation’ Background
The newly appointed head of the Air Force Space Command, Lt. Gen.
Lance Lord, can be expected to bring to the job a ‘transformational’
way of doing business. In the mid-1970s, Lord served as an intern
at the secretive Office of Net Assessments, led by Andy Marshall,
who is the forefather of today’s transformation efforts advocated
by the Bush administration. The defense secretary at the time was
none other than current Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.
And one of Lord’s colleagues at ONA was James Roche, the current
secretary of the Air Force.
At the time, both Roche and Lord were focused on how the Air Force
should be restructured after the end of the Vietnam War.
“It seems fitting [that] that little group from Andy’s
office is back together,” Roche told a recent conference of
the Air Force Association.
Before his recent promotion, Lord was assistant vice chief of staff
at headquarters U.S. Air Force. Gen. Ed Eberhart, commander AFSPC
and commander in chief North American Aerospace Defense Command
and U.S. Space Command, will turn over the AFSPC responsibilities
to Lord sometime in April and remain head of NORAD and U.S. Space
Command. The organizational change is the result of a recommendation
made last year by the Department of Defense Space Commission.
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Working Toward a Stable Afghanistan
The United States wants the current Afghan political experiment
to succeed, said Douglas J. Feith, under secretary of defense for
policy. “We want it to establish its authority throughout
the country,” he said during a meeting with reporters. “There
are extremely difficult questions concerning what is the proper
relationship between the central government and regional powers,
and this is a problem that goes back a long way in Afghan history.”
Right now, he said, the United States is trying to decide whether
an international peacekeeping force should take on a larger security
role. “We’re talking with other countries about possibly
contributing to the financing of the effort to train Afghans to
perform both the police and the military functions,” he said.
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Pentagon Reserves Option to Mislead Enemy
The Pentagon will “preserve our option to mislead the enemy
about our operations,” Douglas J. Feith, undersecretary of
defense for policy, told a recent gathering of defense writers.
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announced last month that
the Office of Strategic Influence—created shortly after September
11—would be closed. That office had been caught in a firestorm
of controversy, ostensibly because its mission—to coordinate
the release of information about U.S. military overseas—also
would have included the option of providing false information.
Feith denied that the Pentagon supported the notion of lying to
the public. “We’re going to preserve our credibility,
and we’re going to preserve the purity of the statements that
defense officials make to the public.” But he added: “We’re
also going to preserve our option to mislead the enemy about our
operations. ... What we need to do for military operational purposes
does not require defense officials lying to the public.”
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O’Dell: Information Warfare Is Essential
Information warfare is a subtle art, almost clandestine, and like
many other weapons, is used as a tool of war, said Brig. Gen. Douglas
O’Dell, commanding general of the 4th Marine Expeditionary
Unit, which is dedicated to anti-terrorism missions.
“When I talk about information warfare, my favorite example
comes from very early in the Gulf War campaign,” he said.
In September 1990, O’Dell was a watch team commander in the
2nd Marine Expeditionary force. That night, he received “a
simple, one-line message from the folks that are empowered to conduct
information warfare operations, to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, info-ing everybody in the world: ‘Request permission
to conduct an information operation campaign.’” It was
not a classified message, and it received wide dissemination. “Thereafter,
no one could really say in their heart of hearts, unless they had
corroborating evidence, what was true and what was memorex,”
“When a commander gets in front of the press, he should be
prepared not to outright lie, but to provide information. And sometimes,
providing more information than is necessary, is as useful as keeping
secrets, with great conviction,” he said.
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Vieques: Do the Marines Need It?
The Navy has maintained that it needs to be able to train in the
range at Vieques Island, off the coast of Puerto Rico, because it’s
the only range that offers a real-world environment for naval operations.
One major reason the Navy has fought the local government and environmental
activists to keep Vieques open is because the Marines need it to
practice amphibious landings.
Meanwhile, a senior Marine official noted that the Corps is not
as interested in training for amphibious landings. Lt. Gen. Emil
Bedard, deputy commandant for plans and policy, told reporters:
“We do not plan to come across the beach at the high water
mark—rather we plan to come across and go deep to the objective
area, and not just operationally pause in the littorals, but get
the objective area as fast as we can.”
Bedard nevertheless defended the Marines’ use of Vieques,
even though the Puerto Rican government would like to close the
range. At Vieques, he said, “We can integrate fire support
with all the weapons systems and platforms that we have to support
the troops early on in an operation. … You’re also integrating
the force into the objective area, integrating your own artillery,
your own fire support systems. There is no other place that we can
do that than at Vieques.”
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Recruiter’s Heaven at Lockheed Martin
Just a few years ago, in the height of the dot-com boom, it was
difficult for aerospace and defense companies to recruit qualified
Now, companies such as Lockheed Martin get to have the first pick
of the litter. The Aeronautics Division, responsible for the F-16,
the F-22 and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programs, gets 25,000
resumes per week, said R.M. Stevenson, the division’s director
of business development. Currently, Lockheed Martin is hiring 100
engineers per month for the F-35 program alone.
“We expect to begin hiring up to 120 per month soon,”
he told reporters during a recent briefing. Lockheed Martin senior
managers have a backlog of 700,000 resumes to choose from. Stevenson
attributed the abundant supply of talent not just to the downturn
in the civilian economy, but also to the prestige and the technical
challenges associated with working on the Joint Strike Fighter,
which could become the world’s largest fighter aircraft program