Event: 9 Mar DC Pentagon Labyrinth Discussion



In the expanding political debate between the defenders of the Pentagon budget and the deficit hawks, do you feel buried in a mountain of misinformation? Do you puzzle over why years of increasing defense dollars buy steadily shrinking and aging forces? Does our technology give us the essential edge in combat?  Has much needed reform made any real progress in the last few years?

We're inviting you to meet, hear and debate the issues with three of the authors of the new handbook/anthology, The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays the Help You Through It.  Combined, they have 120 years of experience in the trenches of the ongoing Pentagon military reform battles.  You'll have a rare opportunity to take advantage, face to face, of that experience.

The three authors are Tom Christie, Chuck Spinney and Pierre Sprey.  (See their bios below.)  Danielle Brian, Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), will moderate the discussion.

When: Wednesday, March 9 at 6:00; the formal program starts at 6:30 and will end at 7:30.  Afterwards, there will also be an opportunity for more informal discussion.

Where:  The Stuart R. Mott House at 122 Maryland Avenue, NE, Washington DC.  (See the map; it is “between” the Hart Senate Office Building and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Free hard copies of the book will be available for all who come.

Light refreshments will be served.

RSVP: winslowwheeler@msn.com

The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It [links to Amazon page]is a 150 page handbook-guide for both newcomers and seasoned observers to cope with the often byzantine nature of defense issues.  It is also available for free electronic download at several websites, including the Straus Military Reform Project and the Project On Government Oversight's (POGO).

We hope to see you there.

Find below bios for Tom Christie, Chuck Spinney and Pierre Sprey:

Thomas Christie began his career in the Department of Defense and related positions in 1955. He retired from the Pentagon in February 2005 after four years as Director of Operational Test & Evaluation. There he was responsible for policy and procedures for testing weapon systems and for providing independent evaluations of the test results to both the defense secretary and Congress. He earlier served as director of the Operational Evaluation Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses, where he was also involved in DOD weapons testing. Between 1985 and 1989, he was director of program integration in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, responsible for developing procedures for managing the defense acquisition system. Prior to that, he had served in two separate positions under the assistant secretary of defense (Program Analysis and Evaluation): director of tactical air division and deputy assistant secretary of defense for General Purpose Programs.

Franklin C. Spinney retired from the Defense Department in 2003 after a military-civilian career spanning 33 years. The latter 26 of those years were as a staff analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During this period, he appeared as a witness in numerous congressional hearings before the Budget, Armed Services, and Government Affairs or Reform and Oversight committees of the U.S. House and Senate. He is author of Defense Facts of Life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch (1985). His op-eds and essays have appeared in the The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Challenge, CounterPunch, Proceedings Magazine of the U.S Naval Institute and the Marine Corps Gazette, among other places. His sharply critical analysis of the Reagan defense program landed him on the cover of Time Magazine (March 7, 1983), based on a hearing at which the senior Pentagon management witness promised all Pentagon budgeting and programming problems were being effectively dealt with. In 2003, he held an hour long “exit interview” with Bill Moyers on Moyers' PBS show NOW; the basic message was that 20 years later, none of the problems had been addressed, let alone solved.

Pierre Sprey consulted for Grumman Aircraft's research department from 1958 to 1965, then joined Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's “Whiz Kids” in the Pentagon. There, in 1967, he met the Air Force's brilliant and original tactician, Col. John Boyd and quickly became a disciple and collaborator of Boyd's. Together with another innovative fighter pilot, Col. Everest Riccioni (U.S. Air Force), they started and carried out the concept design of the F-16 air-to-air fighter, then brought the program to fruition through five years of continuous bureaucratic guerilla warfare. More or less simultaneously, Sprey also headed up the technical side of the Air Force's concept design team for the A-10 close support fighter. Then, against even steeper opposition than the F-16 faced, he helped implement the A-10's innovative live-fire, prototype fly-off competition and subsequent production. Sprey left the Pentagon in 1971 but continued to consult actively on the F-16, the A-10, tanks and anti-tank weapons, and realistic operational/live-fire testing of major weapons. At the same time, he became a principal in two consulting firms; the first doing environmental research and analysis, the second consulting on international defense planning and weapons analysis. During this period, Sprey continued the seminal work of Col. Richard Hallock (U.S. Army/Airborne) in founding the field of combat history/combat data-based cost effectiveness analysis for air and ground weapons. During the late 1970s, Colonel Boyd and Sprey, together with a small, dedicated group of Pentagon and congressional insiders, started the military reform movement. Attracting considerable attention from young officers, journalists and congressmen, the movement led to establishment of the Congressional Military Reform Caucus and to passage of several military reform bills in the early '80s. Sprey continues to work with reform-minded foundations and journalists. Numerous articles, books and theses have described the work of Colonel Boyd and Sprey on the F-16, A-10 and military reform. These include Robert Coram's “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War” (2002) and James Fallows' “National Defense” (1981).

Winslow T. Wheeler
Straus Military Reform Project
Center for Defense Information
301 791-2397

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