Monday, April 28, 2008

Nom for SOPA; Leavenworth

It doesn't have to be a long stay - heck he doesn't have to go; just have the possibility of going would be fine.

What am I talking about? Well as you know, from
Clark to Cohen, the gorging at the military-industrial food trough is an ongoing sub-theme here. The lack of accountability at the highest levels is dumbfounding.

GOFO have a huge amount of influence and power, two very dangerous things for any mortal. These powers must be checked by a rigorous and tightly enforced set of standards and protocols that remind one and all that in the end they are simply public servants.
They should be kept as respectfully humble as possible. They should be driven more towards the Grant/Sherman model and less the McArthur/Patton model. When it comes to the non-operational jobs that involve money, even more so. A perfect example why follows.
Sitting at the head of the table, Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen Goldfein, the highest-ranking officer in the room, leaned forward and told the officers and others assembled before him that they should steer a multimillion-dollar Air Force contract to a company named Strategic Message Solutions.

"I don't pick the winner, but if I did, I'd pick SMS," Goldfein said to the seven-person group that was selecting a contractor to jazz up the Air Force's Thunderbirds air show with giant video boards, according to a lengthy report by Defense Department's inspector general. The head of the selection team almost immediately "caved," giving in to what he believed was a fixed process, while another member of the team called it "the dirtiest thing" he had ever experienced.
Yes, and many of us have seen that kind of not-so-subtle threatening pressure before. More common than most would expect; but such is life in this dark-arts area.
It was during that meeting in November 2005, according to the 251-page report, obtained by The Washington Post, that a controversial $50 million contract was awarded to a company that barely existed in an effort to reward a recently retired four-star general and a millionaire civilian pilot who had grown close to senior Air Force officials and the Thunderbirds.
Remember how I have been calling for a 5-year cooling-off period for retiring GOFO? This is why. If you don't like it, then decline BG or RDML. Simple. If that is asking too much - then perhaps you shouldn't be one. Simple.
In a probe that lasted more than two years, investigators concluded that Goldfein and others worked inside the Air Force contracting system to favor SMS and its owners, despite an offer by the company that was more than twice as expensive as a competing bid.

Goldfein, who is now vice director of the Pentagon's Joint Staff, was found to have gone to great lengths to see the contract awarded to SMS, while senior Air Force leaders socialized with the company's partners. According to the report, Goldfein even arranged for President Bush to record a video testimonial in the White House Map Room that was included in the SMS contract proposal, demonstrating the company's credibility and access.
This is how a good officer's integrity is slowly boiled: he doesn't even realize what he is becoming.
"The investigation found that the December 2005 award to SMS was tainted with improper influence, irregular procurement practices, and preferential treatment," according to a redacted copy of the report. "Lower priced offers from qualified vendors and capabilities in-house were bypassed in an apparent effort to obtain services from [redacted], president of SMS, who had a longstanding relationship with senior Air Force officers and members of the Thunderbirds."

Goldfein and four unidentified officers have received administrative punishments, and investigators are scrutinizing the 99th Contracting Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in light of "irregularities" and "systemic weaknesses" that appear to plague the unit.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is aware of the findings. "He is satisfied the matter has been thoroughly investigated and the Air Force is taking appropriate disciplinary action and corrective measures," Morrell said.
If an E-6 did something like this at his level, do you think ART-15 is all he would get - or should get?
"I am deeply disappointed that our high standards were not adhered to," Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne said yesterday.
Is that the best you can do? I bet he is harder on his children when they don't clean up their room. He is not THAT disappointed it seems. There is a pathetic side to all this; the project was chump-change, unneeded, and from the sound of it, cheesy.
The idea behind the Thunderbirds contract emerged in 2005, when Ed Shipley, a close friend of the Thunderbirds who regularly flies aircraft in Air Force shows, suggested ways to keep audiences entertained while the aircraft circle around to do stunts. Shipley, who made millions in direct television marketing videos, came up with an idea for "Thundervision," and his new company, SMS, pitched a $50 million, five-year plan.
Ummm...isn't the "circle around and do stunts" the entertainment? Besides Mrs. Salamander, I don't know anyone who got bored at an airshow.
Gen. John Jumper, then the Air Force chief of staff, asked his vice chief at the time, Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley, to see if he could make it happen. Moseley met with Goldfein and Shipley in April 2005 and made money available for the project, ordering subordinates and contracting teams to look into it.

Contracting officials dismissed the idea of giving the contract outright to SMS and set up a team to investigate bids. But a majority of people on the selection team were members of the Thunderbirds -- officers who knew Shipley as a friend and Goldfein as the commanding general of the Air Warfare Center. The Thunderbirds commander at one point said, according to the report: "If it's not SMS, we don't want it."
Because we all know that all it takes to spike a career is one guy who owns paper on you who doesn't like you. #1 of 7 probably gets Command. #3 of 7, notsomuch.
Investigators also found Gen. Hal Hornburg, who retired in December 2004, was a "silent partner" of Shipley's who joined SMS in early 2005. Moseley is a friend of Hornburg's and knew Shipley. Neither Shipley nor Hornburg returned calls.

Investigators detail how Moseley -- now the Air Force's chief of staff -- socialized with Shipley and Hornburg in the months after the contract process started. Moseley and his wife, along with Hornburg and his wife, gathered at Shipley's home in Pennsylvania in July 2005, and they shared informal e-mails.

Moseley was not accused of wrongdoing but said in an interview this week that he probably should have backed away from Shipley and Hornburg as the contract progressed. But he emphasized the need for personal relationships to cultivate ideas and said that he knew there were strict boundaries regarding such contracts and that he never crossed them. He said he instructed subordinates to "do the right thing."
What "ideas?" You have to get ideas form two people doing shady business? The USAF is NOT short of smart Staff Officers. Ahem. That quote is just dorky.
His account is supported by e-mail records in the report. "In perfect hindsight, there are some things that the U.S. Air Force could have done differently," he said. "There are some things that people along the way, me included, could have done differently."
General, this was an easy call - any USN Supply Officer (not in Leavenworth) could have made it. You failed. If I were you, I know what I would do right now. The Summer is a great time to retire and move.
Moseley said he wishes that officers who noticed problems in the process had simply said "stop." The contract was canceled in early 2006 after an Arizona company lodged complaints. The U.S. attorney's office in Nevada declined to prosecute the case in May 2007.
He needs to think harder about what he just said. The USAF Chief of Staff tells the Vice Chief to "make it happen." The Vice Chief then talked to an Active Duty 2-Star and the president of the firm in question that the 2-star will push hard for selection. Throw into the mix Moseley's friend Gen. Hal Hornburg who shortly after retirement joined the firm. All that, and Moseley says, "...he wishes that officers who noticed problems in the process had simply said 'stop.' " Fish rots from the head, sir. What is the command climate like?

Sir, heal thyself. Don't blame others. Demand and accept accountability - don't make excuses. Isn't that what you want out of your Junior Officers? Isn't that what you should do as an example?

Heck, 'lil 'ole Salamander is just a cricket in the cowfield, I know. Thing is - it looks like some of the larger beings in the field are
making some noise now as well.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has asked the Defense Department's inspector general to review the role of senior Air Force officials in a $50 million contract, seeking further investigation into possible criminal conduct, ethical violations and failures of leadership.

Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked the inspector general on Monday to review the conduct of all current and former Air Force officials who were named in a 251-page investigative report released last week, noting that it "raises serious questions about the role played" by senior officials.

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