Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tanker War Gets Nasty

Reuters reports and Tanker War Blog can confirm that last Friday the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Duncan McNabb, met the CEOs of Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp to voice concern about the nasty tone of the tanker debate.

Gen. McNabb, who by the way is a great leader and admired by us at TWB, has every right to be concerned. But, the trouble he faces is that his people are not helping the situation.

As our inaugural post Integrity Above All pointed out, it was Air Force procurement personnel who seeded the story that Boeing had lost by a wide margin and to make public and congressional opinion go against a possible Boeing protest. This shameful tactic worked in the media and generated numerous stories that Boeing lost decisively see here, here, and here. But if anything it only hardened congressional opinion and may have actually forced Boeing into protesting the decision. (How else were they going to get the straight story from an organization that seeming sold its integrity for preemptive media spin.)

Also, left unaddressed are the Air Force rumors of Boeing's "arrogance" that were leaked in the aftermath of the tanker contract announcement. See here, here, here.

BTW: A reporter friend tells us that the defense expert who was the recipient of much of the preemptive information is now highly upset with his Air Force sources as they have backed away from most of their assertions.

We at TWB could have leaked the the Gen. McNabb meeting but Boeing supporters were asked to respect the privacy of the gathering.

Imagine then our surprise to see that Air Force personnel leaked information about the meeting and were sources for the Reuters article:
"It's really gotten ugly," said one Air Force official who spoke on condition he not be identified.

Authorized or not, Air Force leaks and blatant spin have made it an active participant, not an innocent bystander, in the tanker debate. At Tanker War Blog we will continue to do our part to keep the tanker debate civil, we hope others will do the same.

PS-One of our members dared us incessantly to incorporate a Janet photo when she heard the post's topic.....we finally gave in, so we hope you like it. Sorry no Jackson/Timberlake Superbowl photos; that truely would be nasty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where does "spin" end, and "duplicity" begin? In as much as I empathize with the "defense expert" who is now highly upset (not hard to guess his identity, is it?) at being given the mushroom treatment by the Air Force, he had his fifteen minutes of fame over this and can live with the consequences.

Where is this thing leading? Will we hear that GAO has called in DCIS (Defense Criminal Investigative Service) before it's over--as happened in the Thunderbirds contract? Why did the USAF feel compelled to throw out mis-information immediately after the announcement that they had selected the European Airbus? Obviously, the wanted to deter Boeing from filing the protest. Was there something else?

This report, coming the day after the Secretary of Defense publicly took the Air Force to the woodshed, can't endear them to their remaining supporters in Congress (the Alabama and Mississippi delegations excepted, of course). Hard choices need to be made in the budget, yet I read in Aviation Week & Space Technology that they left the re-engining of the JSTARS as an unfunded program, just like keeping the F-22 and C-17 lines open. They want Congress to make the choice for them. I am hoping Congress does exactly that! Regardless of the outcome of Boeing's protest, I would like Congress to choose not to fund this deal. It is bad for the future of the American aerospace industry, bad for American aerospace workers, and bad to outsource this vital program to a company run by France and Germany, "allies" that are fair weather friends at best.

Oh yes, doesn't Russia also own a chunk of EADS?