Defense Roundup: Veterans and Military Benefits Fight Heating Up, and Generals Behaving Badly

Posted by Fred Wellman

Military Veterans: Natural Born CEOs?

Elizabeth G. Olson, Fortune. With more military veterans leaving the service and being sought by companies, there has been a lot of interest in how effective they are as business leaders. Many remember that veterans founded some of today’s greatest companies after World War II, including FedEx and Johnson & Johnson, and those who served led some 60% of major companies in the 1980s. Today that proportion has shrunk to just 10%, but recent studies have found that businesses with a military trained CEO were two-thirds less likely than their counterparts to be engaged in fraudulent activities. In addition, they are more likely to be conservative in investments, thus helping companies through lean times. Interestingly though there is no measurable link with better overall corporate successes once a veteran reaches the C-suite. What is odd about this story though is the almost total focus on general officers as those business leaders and comparing recent scandals with senior officers (see below) in the military to question the value of veterans in the corporate leader ranks. What Olson has totally missed is that generals founded none of those great companies she cites as examples from the Greatest Generation. Today veteran entrepreneurs are founding remarkable companies that could very well be tomorrow’s FedExs and its former sergeants, captains, and old lieutenant colonels like our own boss sitting in those positions.

Military Brass, Behaving Badly: Files Detail a Spate of Misconduct Dogging Armed Forces

Craig Whitlock (@craigmwhitlock), Washington Post. Craig Whitlock has truly developed a sweet spot finding the things the military would rather not have reported. He first hit the radar for many of us when he found that body parts from the military’s Dover Air Force Base mortuary had been cremated and discarded in local landfills and hasn’t relented since. His latest is an exclusive look at previously undisclosed reports on misconduct by dozens of senior military officers that show a disturbing spate of embarrassing, inappropriate, and sometimes illegal behavior in the last several years that has caused ripples throughout the armed forces. Details now reveal that while Army Brigadier General Bryan Roberts was announcing a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for sexual harassment and assault at Ft. Jackson he was himself involved in abusive relationship with one mistress and suspected of inappropriate relations with two others. The investigation into the now infamous “Papa Panda Sexy Pants” Brigadier Jeffery Sinclair found a string of sexually explicit emails referring to a North Carolina Congresswoman with two other general officers after she visited Ft. Bragg. Meanwhile, Air Force one-star David Uhrich was found to keep a bottle of vodka in his desk at Joint Base Langley-Eustis to keep up with his alcohol addiction while conducting an affair with a subordinate civilian. All of this chips away at the image of the U.S. military and calls into question how the armed forces are selecting leaders and managing them once they achieve levels where almost no one will tell them ‘no’. For his part, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey has declared in no uncertain terms a mission to put an end to these activities and rid the military of those that don’t uphold its values with new training and evaluation efforts. With cuts to the budget, the end of a decade of war, and a recovering economy, the future of the military truly rides on keeping the best and brightest in uniform and they won’t stay if the leaders they are supposed to emulate are toxic failures.

Exclusive: Pentagon Report Faults F-35 on Software, Reliability

Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters. Just last week the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program came out as the hands down big winner in the new massive omnibus budget even winning back funds for parts purchases which Congress itself had cut just six months ago leaving everyone high-fiving that it was past its biggest hurdles. Then there was this week with new reports from the Pentagon’s own testing department questioning the reliability of the complicated software for the Marine variant and another study casting doubt on the numbers claimed to be employed by the builders. For his part, chief DoD tester Michael Gilmore issued a detailed critique of the Block 2B software for the Marines’ F-35B that could be delayed by fully 13 months even as the service says they intend to put the aircraft in the fleet next year. The program office issued a statement that in summary says “Nothing to see here…move along…these are not the droids you’re looking for.” The non-profit Center for International Policy said Lockheed is likely exaggerating the estimated number of jobs the program supports when claiming some 125,000 jobs rely on the effort using a faulty calculation that is more likely around 50,000 to 60,000 using standard estimating procedures. In addition, the claim that some 46 states support the program while in depth analysis shows that Texas and California account for 50% of the jobs and Florida, Connecticut and New Hampshire another 20%. Even more troubling, just eleven states have fewer than a dozen jobs supporting the effort seriously questioning the standard messaging points supporting the importance of the program to the aerospace industry. For many veterans advocates, it’s astonishing to see pay and benefits being questioned and cut for those who have served and continue to serve over single digit billions in dollars in savings while a program that is 70% over budget and approaching double digit years late continues to be funded without consequence.

Pentagon Proposes Plan to Gut Commissary’s Budget

Amy Bushatz, When we warned that veteran and military advocates had to fight COLA reductions in Congress now, it was with potential future cuts in mind. Now one of those potential cuts has a number attached to it months after the Pentagon ordered the agency that oversees commissaries to look into closing its stateside outposts. By closing all but 24 of its 247 commissaries nationwide, the Pentagon could save up to $1 billion a year. Commissaries provide cheaper grocery options to service members, military families, and retirees which is the equivalent of a non-cash benefit extended to those who are or have served. Closing the commissaries—or forcing commissaries to charge more to break even—would mean less money in their pockets. Pentagon officials plan to request the cuts incrementally from fiscal years 2015 to 2017 in order to make the plan more tenable to Congress members sensitive to military issues. This could be a tougher fight than the COLA battle for military family advocates as the benefits are harder to put a number on, but expect family advocates to rally around this issue. As with COLA, this is just the beginning of a slow but steady erosion of the benefits put in place during the nation’s longest wars.

Look but Don’t Touch? Senate to Review Military Pensions

Tom Vanden Brook (@tvandenbrook), USA Today. On Tuesday morning, the Senate Armed Services Committee will bring together Defense Department officials past and present as well as veterans advocates to discuss the impending COLA cuts and the undoubtedly deeper cuts that could come in the future should some in the Pentagon get their way. Also likely up for debate during the hearing will be the particularly lucrative pensions awarded to senior military leaders beginning in 2007. At the time, the pensions were intended to keep flag officers in the ranks during the most difficult stretches of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now advocates and some Congresspeople are saying those flag officers should take a pension hit before regular retirees do. Elsewhere, Congress is looking at least nine different ways to pay for returning retiree COLAs to normal levels including tax changes, cutting foreign aid to Egypt and Pakistan, taking money from Obamacare, and others. Senator Bernie Sanders, who has proposed an omnibus veterans bill detailed in the last Scout Report, suggest paying for military pensions with military funding: from the Overseas Contingency Operations funds. Once commissaries and other benefits start getting pulled into the debate, expect fights over funding to grow more and more partisan. Inevitably, though, some will ask, “Are U.S. Veterans selfish?”

Veteran Puts Army skills to Work in New Career as a Fitness Trainer

Larry Bernstein, Washington Post. With the military looking to trim personnel as the wars end, many veterans are entering the job market for the first time. The biggest challenge says James Schmeling from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (a ScoutComms’ client) is figuring out how effective programs that help veterans find jobs really are. The best, he says, match veterans’ specific skills to open positions in regions experience job growth. In this story, a former Army drill sergeant translated her love of transforming recruits’ physical fitness into a personal training career. She used a veteran-specific scholarship from the American Council on Exercise to obtain her certification but of the 226 scholarships ACE has handed out, only 9 certifications have been obtained—evidence of just how hard it is for some programs to motivate veterans to move from initial action to mission accomplished.

Tradeshows & Conferences

Nothing this week but we recently updated our full list of upcoming tradeshows.

Congressional Hearings


Armed Services: Rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific Region: Examining its Implementation
Who: The Honorable Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Department of Defense, The Honorable Michael D. Lumpkin, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Department of Defense When: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Where: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Veterans’ Affairs: What can the Federal Government Learn from the Private Sector’s Successful Approach to Hiring Veterans? When: 10:00 AM, Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Where: 334 Cannon House Office Building

Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade: Implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal Who: The Honorable Mark D. Wallace, Chief Executive Officer, United Against Nuclear Iran, (Former United States Ambassador to the United Nations), Mr. Gregory S. Jones, Senior Researcher, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, Mr. Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, (Former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency), Mr. David Albright, Founder and President, Institute for Science and International Security When: 2:00 PM, Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Where: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces: Joint Hearing on the People’s Republic of China’s Counterspace Program and the implications for U.S. National Security Who: Dr. Robert L. Butterworth, President, Aries Analytics, Inc., Mr. Michael Krepon, Co-Founder/Senior Associate, The Stimson Center, Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace When: 3:30 PM, Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Where: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building

Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel: Religious Accommodations in the Armed Services Who: Brigadier General Charles R. Bailey, Deputy Chief of Chaplains, U.S. Army, Mr. Douglas L. Carver, North American Mission Board, Rev. James B. Magness, Bishop Suffragan of the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries, Washington National Cathedral, Brigadier General Bobby Page, Deputy Chief Chaplain, U.S. Air Force, Ms. Virginia Penrod, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy, Department of Defense, Rear Admiral Lower Half Mark L. Tidd, Chief of Navy Chaplains, U.S. Navy When: 9:30 AM, Wednesday, January 29, 2014 Where: 2118 Rayburn House Office Building


Armed Services: Recent Changes to the U.S. Military Retirement System Who: Honorable Christine H. Fox, Acting Deputy Secretary Of Defense, Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., USN, Vice Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff, General John H. Tilelli, Jr., USA (Ret.), Chairman Of The Board Military Officers Association Of America, General Gordon R. Sullivan, USA (Ret.), President And Chief Executive Officer Association Of The United States Army, Master Sergeant Richard J. Delaney, USAF (Ret.), National President The Retired Enlisted Association, Dr. David S.C. Chu, President And Chief Executive Officer Institute For Defense Analyses When: 9:30 AM, Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Where: G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Rules and Administration: Improving Voter Registration and Voting Opportunities for Military and Overseas Voters When: 10:00 AM, Wednesday, January 29, 2014 Where: 301 Russell Senate Office Building Think Tanks & Other Events

Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies: 102 Days of War: How Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda & the Taliban Survived 2001 Who: Yaniv Barzilai, Author and Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State When: 5:00 PM, Monday, January 27, 2014 Where: 1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

Heritage Foundation: Al-Qaeda’s Resurgence in Iraq: Implications for the United States Who: General James T. Conway, 34th Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps, Jessica D. Lewis, Research Director, Institute for the Study of War, James Phillips, Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy, The Heritage Foundation, Douglas Streusand, Ph.D., Professor, Marine Corps Command and Staff College When: 12:00 PM, Wednesday, January 29, 2014 Where: 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

American Security Project: Defense Budget in 2014: A Conversation with Russell Rumbaugh Who: General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.), Russell Rumbaugh, Senior Associate, Stimson When: 12:30 PM, Thursday, January 30, 2014 Where: 1100 New York Avenue, NW · Suite 710W, Washington, DC 20005

Fred Wellman, President ScoutComms, brings us his weekly review of defense industry news via The Scout Report. Fred served over twenty years as an Army officer in both aviation and public affairs. You can follow Fred on Twitter @ScoutComms.


This entry was posted on Monday, January 27, 2014 8:43 am

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