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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tanker drama continues, but maybe Pentagon will gets its way

Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa, has apparently backed off his tirade for a split or dual tanker buy to get the Air Force its new KC-X tanker.

The drama has been going on for years and got uglier last year when the contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman/EADs over Boeing. Boeing cried foul and the Government Accountability Officer told the Pentagon to try again.

And then politics got in the way again. Lawmakers and lobbyists in Alabama, for Northrop Gumman/EADS, and Washington for Boeing, called the other guys un-American and other variations of patriotism related insults.

When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stopped at Maxwell Air Force Base in April to peddle his budget recommendations, which included some significant cuts in aircraft and weapons systems, additional funds in other areas like cyberspace and what could be considered a step toward all around defense spending reform, Gates was asked about the tanker deal and said he was completely against a split or dual buy.

Having two types of tankers could raise costs in terms of maintenance and parts, he said. Plus, it sounded like he didn't appreciate Congress trying to force his hand on defense matters.

Then it came out that Murtha might be involved or somehow connected to some shady Air Force contracts and sure enough, the tough rhetoric simmered a bit.

Now the defense appropriations bill is coming out and it appears that Congress might do something really novel -- let the SecDef do his job.

The House Appropriations Committee version of the 2010 defense budget seems to use loose language that allows the Pentagon to buy and spend as it deems necessary rather than being directed by Congress.

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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 


As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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