It is the job of the Defense Secretary and his deputy to see the big strategic picture.
The Obama administration has reduced the US Army to its lowest staffing level since before World War II. Sequestration continues to eat into American readiness and capabilities. Money is tight. China and Russia are on the advance and Iran is barely contained. And so what does the Pentagon do?
It doubles down on a decision based on arbitrary criteria if not fraudulent calculations, and digs its feet in even as multiple whistleblowers emerge who basically suggest that the Defense Department sought to deep-six the option of putting the Joint Intelligence Center for EUCOM and AFRICOM in the Azores because they’d rather live near London and collect far higher per diem.
At The Wall Street Journal, Julian Barnes who has been on top of the story, reports:
The Pentagon is ready to build its new intelligence center in the UK, but House lawmakers are continuing to push for the project to be revised. Key House committee leaders have requested an investigation of the Pentagon’s plans in the UK, arguing that the cost of the facility will be far greater than other locations. Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R., Texas), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and other lawmakers have asked for government inspectors general to examine the site selection process that chose the Royal Air Force Base Croughton to host a new intelligence center for US European Command and Africa Command… Housing costs at Croughton, which is near London, will make the site costs tens of millions more a year than other bases in Europe, Mr. Nunes said… “I don’t know where the cheapest location is, but I know there are multiple locations across Europe that could meet the mission requirement,” he said. “They need to do a real study.”
And Fox News has also picked up the story:
The central allegation – from lawmakers as well as documents citing whistle-blowers – is that government agencies gave Congress misleading information to support the selection of RAF Croughton, while downplaying other options that may have been more cost-efficient. Nunes told Fox News that, considering military and intelligence-gathering funds have been cut, it makes no sense to build a new facility when other facilities are available across the NATO theater. He suggested the selection was fast-tracked.
Increasingly, it seems the Pentagon is grasping at straws to avoid shining any spotlight into its internal process. Disturbingly, a spokesman for the Deputy Secretary of Defense doubled down on the decision to locate the intelligence center in Great Britain by citing facts which have already been disproved. Again, from the Fox News story:
“The Department evaluated a number of alternative locations and of those 14 locations, Croughton rated the highest overall,” Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson said. “Lajes was not included as a candidate in the … analysis of alternatives because it did not meet the minimum operational requirements. For example, Lajes cannot cost-effectively provide the needed communications bandwidth. … Lajes is not easily accessible, is not proximate to major transportation hubs, and its geographic remoteness does not provide the access we and all NATO members need.”
This is nonsense, of course. Lajes has top-notch and redundant communications bandwidth and is just a two hour flight from Lisbon, Portugal. There are also direct flights from California, Boston, and New York. Some in the Pentagon now argue that it is necessary to locate the facility in Great Britain, even if it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars more, out of deference to the Anglo-American “special relationship.” But NATO is more than two countries, and surely Portugal, of which the Azores are part, deserves to be treated like the valuable partner it is.
Most importantly, abandoning facilities on the Azores may be to cede them to China. Lower levels of the Pentagon may be excused for not seeing the forest through the trees, but it is the job of the Defense Secretary and his deputy to see the big strategic picture.
If the Pentagon were confident that the legal process were followed, it would not shy away from transparency. Unfortunately, it seems to be acting much as the State Department initially did with regard to the Clinton emails: stonewall, obfuscate, and hope that those seeking truth will simply give up. With resources so scarce, however, the Pentagon cannot afford to waste money or cover fraud if it expects Congress to take seriously its request for the resourcing which it really does need.
Source: New AEI Feed
Ramifications of Pentagon fudging go deep