Wash. Times fails to disclose op-ed author's ties to defense industry

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

The Washington Times published an op-ed by John R. Guardiano criticizing Robert Gates' decision to cancel the Future Combat Systems' vehicle program but did not disclose Guardiano's ties to a contractor for the FCS vehicle program.

On May 22, The Washington Times published an op-ed by John R. Guardiano criticizing Defense Secretary Robert Gates' decision to cancel the Future Combat Systems' (FCS) vehicle program but did not disclose Guardiano's ties to Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), a contractor for the FCS vehicle program. Rather, the Times identified Guardiano only as "a writer in Arlington."

An October 2005 Boeing press release listed Guardiano as an FCS communications contact for SAIC and referred to SAIC as "the Lead Systems Integrator team for the U.S. Army's FCS program." Moreover, a December 15, 2005, Military.com article about FCS contractors' advocacy and public relations efforts referred to Guardiano as "an FCS program spokesman for Science Applications International Corp., the co-lead systems integrator for FCS."

In the Washington Times op-ed, Guardiano criticized Gates for not heeding the advice of "farsighted military leaders" and praised the FCS program for "mak[ing] much greater use of modern-day information technologies -- intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, and an advanced electronic network -- to identify enemy combatants and explosive devices before they can threaten U.S. forces." In an April 6 press conference on the proposed 2009 defense budget, Gates recommended that "we cancel the vehicle component of the current FCS program" because FCS vehicles "do not adequately reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan" and because of "its very unattractive fee structure that gives the government little leverage to promote cost efficiency."

Guardiano also authored a March 30 Washington Examiner op-ed criticizing Gates' budget proposals in which he was identified, in part, as an employee of "a defense contractor." In an April 3 article, Washington Independent reporter Spencer Ackerman noted that the Examiner "didn't see fit to name the contractor" and asserted that "defense contractors and their Capitol Hill allies are alarmed at how Gates has shut them out of the the (sic) decision-making process about the Pentagon budget as he has publicly warned, in vague terms, about making 'hard choices' that will place defense systems and weapons programs beloved by the armed services and their contractors on the chopping block."

As Media Matters for America documented, a May 11 Washington Times article quoted Fox News military analyst and retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney criticizing the Obama administration's decision to procure only four more F-22 fighters without disclosing that McInerney has reportedly served as a consultant for a major subcontractor on the F-22.

From Guardiano's May 22 Washington Times op-ed:

Is Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates forcing the military to build the modern-day equivalent of the Maginot Line when farsighted military leaders recommend instead more mobile and dynamic defense systems? This, unfortunately, seems to be the case now that Mr. Gates has canceled development of Future Combat Systems (FCS) vehicles.

[...]

Moreover, MRAP is a purely armored solution to threats that cannot be defeated by armor alone. That's why the FCS vehicles include an "active protection system" that destroys RPGs and other projectiles before they can hit our vehicles.

FCS also makes much greater use of modern-day information technologies -- intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, and an advanced electronic network -- to identify enemy combatants and explosive devices before they can threaten U.S. forces.

[...]

Why should Mr. Gates, who is not a military professional, substitute his judgment for the judgment of battle-tested Army and Marine Corps leaders?

Of course, as defense secretary, Mr. Gates has the legal authority to overrule the military. But is doing so wise in this instance? Does it make sense for Mr. Gates to overrule the military's ground-combat leaders on a matter fundamental to how we should fight and win land wars in the 21st century?

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Defense Funding
Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
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