We’re late on this, but last week, SIGAR released two letters to Secretary Hagel and to Air Force Secretary Deborah L. James concerning the failed G222 aircraft program for the Afghan Air Force.
Starting in 2008, DOD apparently initiated a program to provide 20 of these Italian-made aircraft to the Afghan Air Force. The Defense Department spent $486 million for these airplanes, which according to the SIGAR, “could not meet operational requirements in Afghanistan.” Sixteen of these aircraft were recently destroyed at Kabul International Airport, scrapped by the Defense Logistics Agency, and the remains were sold to an Afghan construction company for about $32,000 total. SIGAR calculates that the scrap was sold at roughly 6 cents a pound. The remaining four airplanes are reportedly stored at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, presumably to help fight the Taliban at some later date?
Here are the $486 million airplanes you paid for:
Photo via SIGAR
Here are the scrapped beauties at 6 cents a pound:
The G.222/C-27A was not known as an easy aircraft to maintain, but it does feature outstanding short runway performance, and offers proven performance in hot weather and high altitudes. That seemed to make it well-suited for work in Afghanistan. Was it well suited to the Afghans?
That would depend on whether the Afghans could keep them in the air. The USAF tried to address the spares and maintenance issue through the program’s structure, paying for extensive training through the US military, an initial spare parts inventory, ground support equipment, technical publications in English and Dari, and 3 years worth of contractor logistics support.
But it didn’t work.
These are not the only aircraft DOD purchased for the Afghan Air Force. Defense Industry Daily has a rundown of the timeline and the contracts here.
No, Secretary Kerry did not sing happy birthday in Japanese, but there was a cake to celebrate Secretary Hagel’s 67th birthday in Tokyo. And look, Secretary Hagel is actually smiling! So we’ve call this the tanjoubi omedetou version.
Secretary of State John Kerry, left, surprises Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel with a birthday cake in honor of Hagel’s Oct. 4 birthday in Tokyo Oct. 3, 2013. During their visit Hagel and Kerry and their Japanese counterparts met to discuss issues of mutual importance. (DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/Released)
Last week, the US Embassy in Seoul sent this tweet:
Today, this one:
The CSMonitor quoted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as saying that the unprecedented U.S. decision to send nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers to drop dummy munitions during military drills with South Korea was part of normal exercises and not intended to provoke a reaction from North Korea.
BBC News reportedthat that North Koreans have put missile units on stand-by to attack US targets in response to US stealth bomber flights over the Korean peninsula. The report citing the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) also said that Kim Jong-un signed off on the order at a late-night meeting of top generals. The time had come to “settle accounts” with the US, KCNA quoted him as saying, with the B-2 flights an “ultimatum”.
This mission by two B-2 Spirit bombers assigned to 509th Bomb Wing, which demonstrates the United States’ ability to conduct long range, precision strikes quickly and at will, involved flying more than 6,500 miles to the Korean Peninsula, dropping inert munitions on the Jik Do Range, and returning to the continental U.S. in a single, continuous mission.
The United States is steadfast in its alliance commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea, to deterring aggression, and to ensuring peace and stability in the region. The B-2 bomber is an important element of America’s enduring and robust extended deterrence capability in the Asia-Pacific region.
A few weeks ago, Gordon Adams, professor of international relations at the School of International Service at American University and Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center argued why senators shouldn’t head the Pentagon or Foggy Bottom. (see FP, Running Hills, December 20). His piece was published in December before Senator Kerry’s nomination was officially announced (Kerry was officially nominated December 21) and as Chuck Hagel went through the ignomious process of being made a piñata before actually being officially nominated for the SecDef position (his official nomation is expected to be announced on January 7).
The departing secretaries have done many good things, but neither has truly tackled the requirements of waning resources. DOD hates and fears a drawdown — it means choices have to be made and priorities set. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has started that process, somewhat reluctantly, in his relatively short tenure, but has not acknowledged the reality that real cuts are coming and that the budget will not hold at the growth with inflation level he currently projects. As for Hillary Clinton over in Foggy Bottom, she peered over the edge of State’s (and USAID’s) internal problems in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) but made few fundamental changes. There is little State or USAID planning for the decline in resources that is coming.
We are at an inflection point in both agencies, and the budgetary piper is calling the policy and management tune. The question is whether either Hagel or Kerry have internalized that reality and are prepared for the tough internal leadership both institutions will need over the next four years. There are hard decisions to be made about personnel, acquisitions, and future strategy — decisions that will require taking on baronies and fiefdoms while minding the management store.
The problem at State goes deeper. Management has never been Foggy Bottom’s strong suit, and its shrinking reputation for effectiveness bears witness to that reality. The only secretaries who truly focused on how the department worked were Larry Eagleburger and Colin Powell; the rest have hunkered down on the seventh floor and let the building grind on with minimal attention. Clinton has been there long enough to try to make a dent in the reform of State Department management. QDDR notwithstanding, it was not much of a dent; most of the challenges remain for the next incumbent.
State’s management issues are even more serious, because the building has given short shrift to management for decades.
First, the budget and planning system at State has only barely begun to be created. Foggy Bottom still cannot do long-term planning, meaning it still struggles with accurately forecasting the costs of its programs and projects. A budget office was created in 2005 and has struggled for seven years to gain control over a sprawling bureaucracy, devoid of budget and resource planners. Moreover, that budget office only has responsibility for programs, like Economic Support Funds, Foreign Military Financing, and counternarcotics operations, not for State’s management or for personnel budgets; those belong to the undersecretary for management. In other words, the undersecretary (and the director general of the Foreign Service) oversee things like building security, training, and promotions, while the planning for programs is handled over at the budget office. The two are not connected in any official way, so putting programs and people needs together is almost impossible. The new secretary badly needs to back up and strengthen this budget and planning capability. Senators like Kerry, who have not been appropriators or passed full budget bills will be challenged, but the budget and planning system will not get better without secretary-level support.
Second, U.S. foreign-policy institutions are a diaspora of organizations. State only owns a bit; its relationship with USAID is strained, even though USAID reports its budget through State (and Clinton’s QDDR strengthened USAID’s semi-autonomous capability — needed, but it poses a continuing coordination challenge). Treasury owns the international development banks programs; the Millennium Challenge Corporation splits the foreign aid portfolio; Peace Corps, EXIM Bank, OPIC, TDA — this alphabet soup of independent agencies further fragments the portfolio and weakens America’s civilian statecraft. Will a senator have the skills to work the kinks out of this system?
Third, in the 21st century, America’s civilian statecraft needs a makeover. This is a human resources issue. For centuries, the task of a diplomat has been to represent, report, negotiate, and advise. Today, all those things are needed — and U.S. diplomats are the best at this — but also much, much more. They have to run programs (foreign assistance, counternarcotics, anti-terrorism), support stronger governance through the embassies (nation-building), help prevent and resolve conflicts, carry out public diplomacy, manage budgets, and persuade Congress to keep the taps open. The Foreign Service is only at the edge of this revolution in competence; the department lacks a comprehensive training program, especially as a career progresses, and officers who serve in non-traditional billets (political-military affairs, development, public diplomacy, management) find they are still sidelined for promotion. This is nitty-gritty personnel stuff, but critical to the long-term sustainability of America’s diplomacy. It is not the normal grist for the senatorial mill.
These are only a few of the management challenges the next two secretaries will face. But as resources shrink in both departments, there will be a crying need for tough, smart, experienced leadership at the top. We can get a drawdown right, but we will need leaders who understand these needs, even more than we do leaders who understand policy issues. The task of running huge, complex bureaucracies like the State Department and the Pentagon is about much more than just showing up and making policy — now more than ever. If they want these positions, Kerry and Hagel are going to have to prove that they are ready manage, roll up their sleeves, put on their green eyeshades, and get to work inside their respective buildings.
Click here to read on revamping the Foreign Service from 27-year FS veteran, Dr. Jon P. Dorschner. Click here to read Political Officer Tyler Sparks’ piece on Overhauling the EER Process, FSJ Sept 2012, p.17
Click here to read Ambassador John Price on why The State Department Culture Needs to Change via Diplomatic Courier
Given the smoke signals coming from the Hill, it is almost certain that Senator Kerry will sail through his nomination painlessly.
So the challenge then becomes not only how to manage The Building, but also bringing in the right senior people into the Kerry bus to deal — with the secretary’s full support — the management challenges within the State Department.
For all the reasons that Mr. Adams described above and more, the new secretary of State will need an effective Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources (D/MR). We presume that Senator Kerry will have some leeway on his picks for his deputies. This position currently incumbered by Thomas Nides, and previously occupied by Jack Lew (rumored to be the next Treasury secretary) is the Chief Operating Officer of the Department. Somebody told me recently, “Jack Lew did a great job, but got sideswiped by Afghanistan.” With the drawdown in Afghanistan looming large, the next D/MR could get sideswiped again by the same culprit.
The COO is not only the principal adviser to the Secretary on overall supervision and direction of resource allocation and management activities he/she also has responsibility for the overall direction, coordination and supervision of operational programs of the State Department, including foreign aid and civilian response programs.
As an aside — whatever happened to the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources (F) which supposedly ensures the strategic and effective allocation, management, and use of foreign assistance resources? Who knows?! It lost its teeth and for the last four years has been on D/MR’s orbit. Meanwhile, USAID hangs on trying hard not to get swallowed by State. How many agencies and offices are doing foreign aid again?
Another crucial office is the Under Secretary for Management (M). The Under Secretary for Management leads the bureaus of Administration, Consular Affairs, Diplomatic Security, Director General of the Foreign Service/Human Resources, Information Resource Management, and Overseas Buildings Operations, the Foreign Service Institute, the Office of Medical Services, the Office of Management Policy, the Office of Rightsizing the U.S. Government’s Overseas Presence, and the White House Liaison.
The cogs in the the domestic and global wheels of the Foreign Service tightens or comes apart under this bureau. The incumbent Patrick Kennedy has been on this job since 2007. Remains to be seen if he will be asked to stay on or if he’ll ship out to an overseas assignment. Retired FSO, Peter Van Buren, who is not/not a fan of Mr. Kennedy notes in his blog that the later’s last overseas posting with the exception of a Chief of Staff stint with the CPA in Baghdad 2003-2004, was in 1991 in Egypt.
For those who might argue that State does not have a management problem, all you need to do is look at its performance evaluation process. By one FSO’s account, an extremely conservative estimate on the number of hours spent on one Employee Evaluation Report (EER) is 15 hours. Multiply that with 12,000 members of the Foreign Service who are rated each year, and you get 180,000 hours; an equivalent of 22,500 workdays, 61 calendar years or 90 working years.
The FSO writes that “The entire process derails so much of our work, and results in such a poor product, that it would surely shame our institution if its excesses were truly known by the general public.”
If your staff spends the equivalent of ninety years of work just to complete their own performance reviews, then Houston, you got a real problem. And that brings us to the one other office that we fell feel definitely needs to be filled asap in Obama 2.0, that of the Office of the Inspector General. This is, of course, not a Kerry call but President Obama’s call. The State Department has not had an Inspector General since January 16, 2008. The last time we looked, the Project on Government Oversight’s Watchdog Tracker still ranks the State Department #1 in number of days the position has been vacant — 1,817 days and counting.
NBS News exclusive reports that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is dropping out of the running to be the next secretary of state after months of criticism over her Benghazi comments.
“If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly – to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,” Rice wrote in a letter to President Obama, saying she’s saddened by the partisan politics surrounding her prospects.
“That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country…Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time,” she wrote in the letter obtained by NBC News.
Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel’s security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people. I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.
Somewhere Senator McGrouchy is dancing in the moonlight.
Rumors abound that former Senator Chuck Hagel is heading to the Pentagon. In which case, it seems likely that the Senate’s favorite, John Kerry is a step closer to Foggy Bottom.
With the presidential election over, the parlor game on who will be the next secretary of state has officially intensified with Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), current chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and Susan Rice, current US Ambassador to the UN as front-runners. They are not the only ones mentioned but Kerry and Rice appears to be the the names that fuel the most media speculation. “Unnamed officials” and “sources” are also working their media contacts, obviously with “inside” information highlighting their candidate’s prospects in this run for Foggy Bottom.
Senator John Kerry
One source quotedby Politico who is “familiar with the circumstances,” reported that Kerry “has the inside track,” having worked on President Obama’s debate-prep during the campaign.
Jezebel notes that the US hasn’t had a white male Secretary of State since 1997 and asks, “Is America ready?” It writes that “John Kerry’s tenure as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been remarkably free of in-chamber shootings,” and concludes that “any testosterone-producing, low emotion man is a ticking time bomb.”
James Traub over at FP asks, Would John Kerry do a good job of filling Hillary Clinton’s shoes? Traub writes that “the same restraint and reserve which made him such an unsatisfying presidential candidate have also made him the kind of consummate diplomat whom the White House has counted on to soothe troubled waters in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and elsewhere. [… If anyone can talk those guys off a ledge, it’s Kerry. […] Kerry has shortcomings. Who doesn’t? But I can’t think of anyone who would be better for the job.”
Hey! Even the Russians have a pick: “An unnamed source in the Russian foreign ministry told the Kommersant business daily that Moscow would “much prefer” to see Mr. Kerry take the post.
Yesterday, WaPo reported that President Obama is “considering John Kerry for job of defense secretary.” Apparently, Senator Kerry is surprised about the buzz that he is being considered as possible SecDef.
Ambassador Susan Rice
James Traub who wrote the “Secretary Kerry” piece over at FP explains why Ambassador Rice may not be the best choice: “Susan Rice is a pugnacious team player who, like Donilon, is more insider than outsider, and is notably deficient in that unctuous fluid which issues from the pores of professional diplomats.”
New York Times cites one administration characterizing Rice as “crippled” having been a favorite Republican target since she provided the administration’s initial accounts on the Benghazi attack.
Bloomberg News claimed she had emerged as the odds-on favorite blaring, UN Envoy Susan Rice Is Top Candidate to Succeed Clinton. She is reportedly emerging as the “favored candidate” even with her baggage on Benghazi: “Six current or former White House officials, who all spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said Rice remains close to President Barack Obama and shares many of his views on foreign policy.”
Today, the NYT also reports that “Ms. Rice, an outspoken, ambitious diplomat with close ties to Mr. Obama, has emerged as the clear favorite.”
WaPo adds that “senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.”
National Security Advisor Tom Donilon
According to Traub’s FP piece, the current U.S. National Security Advisor “is a highly competent administrator who would die of impatience halfway through an interminable lunch with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.”
Now we can’t have that, can we?
The National Interest reported that “…in 2008 Donilon was considered for deputy secretary of state, but the Obama team thought that his previous role as in-house counsel to Fannie Mae was “toxic” and that he “might have serious problems in a Senate confirmation.”
Other names mentioned though not as loudly:
Bill Burns – currently Deputy Secretary of State, a respected career diplomat but not an Obama insider.
Chuck Hagel—the former Nebraska Senate Republican and co-chairman of President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
Jon Huntsman – former Obama ambassador to China and GOP presidential primary contender 2012
Dick Lugar – Outgoing senator and soon to be former ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Moderate Voice writes: “Lugar would need no on the job training to become State secretary. He’s an old pro on the international stage and knows his way around Washington as well. He could take up the reins at the State Department with confidence. As a marathon runner who participated in one of the 26.2-mile races just a few weeks ago, he has the physical stamina for the job of chief US diplomat despite advancing years.” Senator Lugar is 80 years old.
Howard Berman – Outgoing chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. LAT writesthat Berman who is 71, “has worked closely with the White House over four years on sensitive issues such as Iran and is known as competent and discreet, traits much prized by President Obama.”
How about a Colin Powell comeback?
George W. Bush’s first secretary of State has been speculated as a possible SecDef. What about a comeback at State? He endorsed President Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. Secretary Powell got the “The president would like to make a change” conversation eight days after George W. Bush’s second term reelection. Don’t know if he would have stayed for the second term without that conversation but we know that he was mindful of the lasting bloton his record after that UN speech. Another term as a secretary of state might help repair that damage?
But not a comeback for Condi Rice
Don’t call her maybe. Condoleezza Rice already said she wouldn’t be interested in succeeding Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, even if asked to do so by President Barack Obama.