WASHINGTON: The Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter is the biggest conventional weapons program in history and Vice Adm. David Venlet has run it to much acclaim and quite a bit of backbiting, depending on who you talk with.
This afternoon the Pentagon very quietly sent out notice that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had nominated Venlet’s deputy, Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan for a third star and assignment as director of the F-35 program. Keep reading →
PENTAGON: The Defense Department named new chiefs today for the Naval Air Systems Command, responsible for all naval aircraft acquisitions, and for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, better known as Naval Reactors (NR), an obscure but powerful organization shard between the Energy Department and the Navy.
Vice Admiral John Richardson, currently the commander of the Atlantic Fleet’s submarine force, will pin on his fourth star as a full admiral when he takes over NR, the job once held by the legendary Hyman Rickover. Rickover exploited NR’s anomalous position — reporting both to the Navy and to the Atomic Energy Commission (which evolved into the Department of Energy) — to build an almost autonomous empire, and the Navy nuclear propulsion program remains a world unto itself. Richardson, like Rickover and outgoing NR chief Adm. Kirkland Donald, is a career submariner, but he’s unusual in the normally reserved submarine community for writing a blog, including a recent, widely cited post on character that pulls together such diverse strands as the Naval academy cheating scandal, Ahu Ghraib, and Plato’s Republic. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: Two retired colonels are moving in to the office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer, which has the herculean task of improving the Pentagon’s business practices. One is a former Marine logistician who worked on the reconstruction of Iraq, the other a former Air Force IT expert, a rare African-American woman in her high-tech field who published a book about her grandmother’s legacy.
Since Mary Gillam retired from the uniformed Air Force in 2010, she’s been working for the Air Force Secretary’s chief information officer as a contractor, through mega-consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton. As an SESer, she’ll work for the Deputy Chief Management Officer, Elizabeth McGrath, as the DCMO’s director for technology and innovation. That’s a long way from one of Gillam’s first assignments as a young lieutenant, when she told a reporter from her alma mater, the University of Phoenix, that she had to take command of an Air Force tactical control center where she was the only female officer. “This was my first taste of what it was like to be a leader, and I had to get in there and learn really fast,” she said in that interview. “My grandma taught me not to be afraid to ask questions because if I was going to be a leader, I had to understand the job.” Gillam later published a memoir of her grandmother, who raised her and died while she was stationed in Korea, entitled I Never Said Good-Bye. Keep reading →