Hunter, Duncan Lee
Duncan Lee Hunter was elected to represent the 52nd Congresional District of the State of California.
"We'll do what the president wants," said Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.
Duncan "The Duke" "Bush's Rubber Stamp" Lee Hunter
Hunter for President Inc. FILING FEC-284885
February 10, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – This week, the House of Representatives passed legislation that includes the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act, a bipartisan and deficit-neutral measure introduced by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) to help states create and maintain public shooting ranges for hunters and sportsmen. The Training Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act was incorporated into H.R. 3590, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act—which now awaits Senate consideration. “Public shooting ranges serve the interests of families and communities, providing a safe place for target practice and instruction while also sustaining jobs and supporting local businesses,” said Hunter. “With fewer ranges open today, providing more flexibility to states for the purpose of maintaining public shooting venues will help restore recreational opportunities and promote gun safety. He added, “Individuals and families wanting to utilize public shooting venues for recreation and safety instruction should not be denied these opportunities. Good marksmanship is an American tradition and this legislation—the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act—upholds our nation’s outdoor and hunting heritage.” Specifically, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act: Increases the funding that states can contribute from allotted Pittman-Robertson funds to 90 percent of the cost to improve or construct a public target range; Permits the availability of a state’s Pittman-Robertson funds for five fiscal years, for use in acquiring land for expanding or constructing ranges. Current law requires funds to be used within one year; Encourages federal land management agencies to cooperate with state and local authorities to maintain ranges on federal land. http://eastcountymagazine.org/node/14925
While the audience of veterans and business people largely seemed supportive of their anti-sequestration message, one person, Barry Ladendorf of San Diego Veterans for Peace, pointed to research that shows investment in healthcare can yield more jobs that spending on defense. Hunter responded that defense jobs are important but that the bigger issue is keeping national security robust. “Other countries don’t do what America says, or get on our side, because they like Seinfeld,” Hunter said. “They get on our side because we have big, steel warships off of their coast.” http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/jun/13/pay-attention-defense-cuts-congressmen-say/
Crest Democrat Seeks Congress Seat: ‘I’m Going to Make Hunter Bleed’. David Secor, 64, targets Republican incumbent by shunning big money, hoping for Internet boost. http://santee.patch.com/articles/crest-democrat-seeks-congress-seat-i-m-going-to-make-hunter-bleed
$5,000 Fines for Spilling Milk? Rep. Hunter’s Office Can’t Give Examples. Office of GOP congressman also unable to document his efforts to free small businesses of taxes. http://santee.patch.com/articles/5-000-fine-for-spilling-milk-on-factory-floor-hunter-office-can-t-document-remark-a92fb921
A bill introduced in Congress today could lead to an additional 350 miles of fencing along the southwest border and would require the Department of Homeland Security to report to Congress when apprehension activity climbs 40 percent year over year, if it is approved. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, authored the bill, titled “Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act,” in response to a Government Accountability Report that found 44 percent of the southwest border is under “operational control” and 15 percent is totally secure. The legislation is co-sponsored by Republicans Brian Bilbray, Solana Beach, Ed Royce, Fullerton, and Ted Poe, Texas, and North Carolina Democrats Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre. “Despite considerable gains in recent years, the Southwest border is nowhere near secure,” Hunter said. “This not only presents a significant risk to U.S. national security, but also undermines the safety of communities on both sides of the border.” http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/mar/15/rep-hunter-proposes-more-border-fencing/
Several Republican lobbyists said the Terry incident is part of a larger concern involving a group of House Republicans and lobbyists, including Glenn LeMunyon of the LeMunyon Group, who regularly party with female lobbyists. "On the Hill, there's a lot of older men that just go home when they're done with votes," said the longtime Capitol Hill Club member who overheard Terry's remark. "Then you have a smaller group that likes to knock back a few and have a good time." Among them are GOP Reps. Bill Shuster (Pa.), Sam Graves (Mo.), Chris Lee (N.Y.) and Duncan Hunter (Calif.), several sources have confirmed. None of the Members have been accused of any improprieties. http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/02/chris_lee_craig.php
Lee's sudden exit took many people by surprise. Hadn't other members of Congress admitted to worse than an unconsummated, PG-13 flirtation and managed to stay in office? It turns out Lee may have had good reason to step out of the spotlight so quickly: It wasn't just women that the Craigslist Congressman was hunting for on the Internet. In the past two weeks, two D.C.-area transgender women contacted us, each with a separate story about exchanging emails with the ex-congressman. One sent us an ad that Lee allegedly posted on Craigslist in search of trans women; the other sent us a never-before-seen photo that she says Lee sent her after they started chatting by email. Taken together, they present a possible explanation to those who have wondered why such a tame "sex scandal" forced Lee's hand so quickly. http://gawker.com/#!5769037/the-craigslist-congressman-and-the-crossdressing-prostitute
Porn boy. Sources say Lee was at the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott with House Republicans for the 2011 Republican Retreat on Jan. 14. After a lecture on "intelligent use of information technology" which clearly didn't sink in -- and a few drinks at a pub near the hotel with Rep. Duncan Hunter, Rep. Bill Shuster and Rep. Tom Rooney, Lee headed back to his room, a spy said, just in time to send a few flirty messages to Callahan. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/16/chris-lee-craigslist-photo-gop-retreat_n_823979.html
Really hates you
Two bicyclists injured in separate crashes. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/may/20/cyclist-hit-dump-truck-badly-injured/
Rep. Duncan Hunter: "I Would Love A Conservative Dictatorship". http://youtu.be/ieILzKkhQDw
"I understand how transit fits in with less traffic," Hunter said, "but you have to look at the areas and you have to admit, San Diego, the Trolley hasn't helped a bit. It is the way San Diego works. It's the way we live. Bike paths don't help San Diego either, for the most part."
"I'm not a transit guy, not an environmental person," Hunter told the audience. What he is, Hunter suggested, is a bulldozer kind of guy, echoing his fellow Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray who, while serving as Imperial Beach mayor in 1980, leaped onto the national platform by leaping on to a bulldozer and plowing rogue sewage back into Tijuana. Hunter used the word three times in in describing his attitude toward the federal bureaucracy -- as in, he plans to "bulldoze through bureaucracy that get in people's way to create jobs." In his war-zone view, the federal battlefield will be strewn with bodies during the next two years. "Drastic cutting will lead to fewer bureaucracies. They'll have to fire people," he said. "We're not going to tell them to fire people, we're just going to cut their budgets in half ... if you're going to hamper the American economy we're going to downsize even more. "If we have to lay off 50,000 federal employees, that's not a bad thing," he added. "They can go out and get real jobs in the private sector." Hunter's disdain for federal agencies cuts across the government. "We're going to drastically cut the Department of Education, there will be fewer mandates so you can do what you want to do," he continued. "That's going to be across the board. Whether you are talking about infrastructure or environment, any federal regulation that affects more than $100 million dollars, we're not going to let the bureaucracy decide. They're going to have to go through Congress on each and every one of them. "So no longer will the EPA or the Department of the Interior or any other department be able to make a regulation that hurts people," he said. "What you will see is drastic downsizing and cutting of every single department, except Homeland Security and Department of Defense." http://web.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/feb/05/hunters-goal-bulldoze-through-federal-government/
"'We aren't the Brits. We're not the Europeans. We're not the Swedes,' says Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter, who is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. Hunter argues that gays do not belong in the U.S. military because American troops need to be hardened warriors, unlike soldiers in the 15 NATO countries where gays serve openly. 'The Fallujahs of the world, the Ramadis of the world that require heavy combat and lots of fire-fighting capability - those are the places the Americans go. The other countries tend to go to the so-called peacekeeper zones, where they have fewer fire fights and less contact with the enemy,' Hunter says. 'And the European nations show little will to send large contingents of their military people into dangerous places.'" Admiral Alan West, who headed the Royal Navy when the military gay ban ended in Britain, feels that it has helped their military. West responded to Hunter: 'I think American troops are very brave and I think British troops are very brave. But we do it in a little bit of probably a quieter way generally, you know? We don't have to go 'Huh, huh, huh' and shave our heads off and shake hands very hard. You can still kill someone without having to do that.'" http://www.towleroad.com/2007/12/duncan-hunter-d.html
On October 30, 2006 nothing happened.
Former Rep. Hunter supports work ethic of BP agent who killed woman Someone close to agent watched interview http://www.10news.com/news/former-rep-hunter-supports-work-ethic-for-bp-agent-who-killed-woman
A San Diego-based defense contractor pleaded guilty Wednesday to making donations to politicians he believed would help him win contracts, including Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and U.S. congressmen Duncan Hunter and Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Parthasarathi Majumder, the former president and chief executive of Science and Applied Technology Inc., made the contributions between 1993 to 1998 and also encouraged his friends and colleagues to do so, according to the U.S. Attorney General's Office. Majumder then reimbursed those donors more than $20,000, according to the plea agreement. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1076469/posts
Manufacturing Falls to 28-Year Low.
The Hunter Legacy:
U.S. manufacturing fell sharply in December and reports from abroad showed the same for plants in Europe and Asia, as businesses cut production and slashed product orders in response to the global recession. The Institute for Supply Management's index of industrial production slipped by 3.8 percentage points in December compared to the month before, to the lowest level since 1980. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/02/AR2009010200956.html?hpid=topnews
How do you want your wildebeest?
A soft brick – the Heart Is a Beastly Hunter award – to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, who has the blogosphere and liberal cable TV laughing like hyenas over his ill-fated desire to mix charity in Chad with his passion for big-game hunting. Hunter's staff recently contacted the U.S. Embassy in Chad, inquiring if the congressman could go into the bush, shoot wildebeest and then distribute the cured meat to the 230,000 starving refugees who fled Darfur, according to Al Kamen's column on washingtonpost.com. The State Department responded with several talking points, including the fact that there are no wildebeest in the Chadian wild. Moreover, “the government of Chad does not permit the hunting of large animals.” Hunter's office reportedly called and said the congressman's plans for African hunting trips remain unclear, but Chad appears to be off the itinerary. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/northcounty/jenkins/20080727-9999-1mc27jenkins.html
A tough mission to accomplish
July 28, 2008
It's not a safari. Not a trophy-hunting trip. Not a sport-hunting expedition.
It's a humanitarian mission.
Duncan Hunter wants that clear.
The item in Thursday's Washington Post – the one that poked fun at the Alpine congressman for wanting to hunt big game in Africa, then give it to refugees in Chad to eat – was “nutty,” scoffs Hunter.
The Post column insinuated that the Republican's real reason for trying to organize an expedition to Chad was not to feed hungry refugees, but instead to engage in his longtime passion for hunting. In Africa. Where he's never hunted before. For wildebeest and hartebeest and other creatures that look even stranger than they sound.
The story may have been “cute,” Hunter said (actually, it was a riot), but he says it missed the larger picture.
So here was the larger picture, as of Thursday:
1. The congressman for years has worked with the Rescue Task Force – a local group run by a former Hunter staffer – to provide food, medicine and other relief all over the globe. In other words, this isn't some fly-by-night idea Hunter cooked up over whiskey shots one night with his hunting buddies.
2. There really are wildebeest and other edible game in Africa. Even if there are few to none in Chad – which is where Hunter first proposed hunting wildebeest when he recently contacted the embassy in N'Djamena – they are somewhere.
“We're just going to take a map out and look at the nations closest to Chad and work our way south,” Hunter said. “We'll contact surrounding African states and see if they can contribute 200 to 300 animals.”
3. Hunting the animals and distributing the meat to refugees is a better idea than buying it – already butchered, packaged and refrigerated – and shipping it to Chad.
“In terms of moving large tonnages of meat and protein, if you can get it closer to the place you're going to, that's key,” Hunter said. “You wouldn't have the massive transportation costs.”
4. Hunting could be accomplished many ways – by African rangers, by U.S. safari clubs, even by Hunter himself.
“Let me make it clear: I'm an unapologetic hunter,” he said. “I think hunting is a great tradition of this country. And if I have the opportunity to harvest animals for that refugee camp, I'm going to do it.”
BUT THEN . . .
Here was the larger picture as of Friday:
After meeting with the International Medical Corps – a group Hunter's parents helped create 24 years ago to send volunteer doctors and nurses, as well as medicine, around the globe – Hunter learned this:
1. Most of the refugees in Chad are Muslim, with strict prohibitions against eating meat not freshly slaughtered or blessed.
2. The tiny airport in Chad – an old French Foreign Legion outpost – can barely accommodate the medicine and food now coming in, much less tons of meat.
3. There's fighting between rebels and soldiers that could jeopardize life and limb.
4. Few groups other than the World Hunger Organization are allowed to provide food to Chad's refugees.
“The facts that exist, I think are going to require a new direction,” Hunter said after learning of these realities. “It sounds like it's going to be an insurmountable problem. We're going to get something done, but it looks like the idea of trying to bring meat into the camps is a nonstarter.”
Instead, Hunter – who has never visited Chad – is going to press the Defense Department to produce a report that Hunter asked for 18 months ago on how to make Chad's airport bigger. He is going to raise money for the International Medical Corps. In fact, on Thursday, he wrote the corps a $500 check for medical supplies. And he is pressing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to appoint a special envoy to Chad who might negotiate a cease-fire so that it is easier to get aid to refugees.
“There are lots of congressmen who've been over (to Chad) and deplored the situation,” Hunter said. “I just like to take action.”
Duncan Hunter and his inexplicable endorsement
I never cared for Duncan Hunter's presidential run because it offended me that a free-spending protectionist offered himself up as a Ronald Reagan for the 21st century. But I basically stopped caring much about it when he went nowhere yet insisted on staying in the race, and I even winced rather than laughed when the TV talk-show hosts came back to work and started to mock him. (David Letterman had a joke with this punch line: “Who the hell is Duncan Hunter?”) http://weblog.signonsandiego.com/weblogs/afb/archives/018806.html
Now that Hunter has dropped out and endorsed Mike Huckabee, his presidential bid seems more baffling than ever. I thought the most plausible reason for Hunter running was the former chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's desire to make a good impression on the leading GOPers and thus end up a plausible secretary of defense if the Republicans managed to retain the White House.
But now Hunter sides with Huckabee, whose campaign almost certainly peaked the night of the Iowa caucuses? I don't get it. Now he sides with a guy who is a total foreign policy and defense policy naif? I don't get it.
Duncan Hunter: Alpine's man of mystery.
Retired gay general at GOP debate: Clinton backer
"My name's Keith Kerr, from Santa Rosa, California. I'm a retired brigadier general with 43 years of service, Kerr told the candidates in the video that he submitted to the YouTube debate. "I'm a graduate of the Special Forces Officer Course, the Commanding General Staff Course and the Army War College. And I'm an openly gay man.
"I want to know why you think that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians.
Rep. Duncan Hunter of California said: "General, thanks for your service, but I believe in what Colin Powell said when he said that having openly homosexual people serving in the ranks would be bad for unit cohesion.
"The reason for that, even though people point to the Israelis and point to the Brits and point to other people as having homosexuals serve, is that most Americans, most kids who leave that breakfast table and go out and serve in the military and make that corporate decision with their family, most of them are conservatives, Hunter said.
"They have conservative values, and they have Judeo-Christian values. To force those people to work in a small tight unit with somebody who is openly homosexual goes against what they believe to be their principles, and it is their principles, is I think a disservice to them. I agree with Colin Powell that it would be bad for unit cohesion.
Iowa Straw Poll results!
Mitt Romney -- 4516 (31.5%)
Mike Huckabee -- 2587 (18.1%)
Sam Brownback -- 2192 (15.3%)
Tom Tancredo -- 1961 (13.7%)
Ron Paul -- 1305 (9.1%)
Tommy Thompson -- 1039 (7.3%)
Fred Thompson -- 203 (1.4%)
Rudy Giuliani -- 183 (1.3%)
Duncan Hunter -- 174 (1.2%)
John McCain -- 101 (1%)
John Cox -- 41 (0.1%)
14,302 total ballots cast
Duncan Hunter: Even Ron Paul demolished him. Couldn't even crack 200 votes and the guy was chair of the Armed Services Committee. The only thing I know about him is that he is more liberal on trade and that isn't going to win him any friends with Republican activists. Let's hope Duncan drops out now! http://www.411mania.com/politics/columns/58327/The-Rivett-Report-08.13.07.htm
Duncan Hunter had a fantastic showing in the Iowa Straw Poll finishing a close ninth (with 174 votes) just behind Former Sen. Fred Thompson (Tenn.) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, neither of whom participated but were on the ballot nonetheless. The poll results were delayed by about an hour and a half because of problems with voting machines, according to reports.
Hunter eulogizes Corrupt Norwood
Hundreds say farewell to Ga. Rep. Norwood
Augusta, Ga. | Rep. Charles Norwood was remembered on Thursday as a plainspoken - and sometimes brutally honest - patriot and public servant who lived his life at "full throttle" before losing a final battle with lung disease and cancer.
"He was someone who was rough, tough and gruff, but always with that twinkle in his eye," recalled fellow Georgia congressman Nathan Deal. "You never had to wonder where you stood with Charlie Norwood."
Hundreds of mourners filled the pews at the airy First Baptist Church of Augusta to say goodbye to Norwood, the feisty country dentist who was swept into Congress in 1994 as part of the Republican revolution. He was the first Republican to represent his district in northeastern Georgia since soon after the Civil War and had never held elected office when he arrived on Capitol Hill. He went on to serve seven terms in the House.
Norwood died Tuesday at his home in Augusta after halting treatment for cancer at a Washington-area hospital. He was 65.
A planeload of congressmen and other dignitaries flew to the service from Washington. President Bush sent White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten.
Gov. Sonny Perdue and a large contingent of state lawmakers and officials made the trip from Atlanta.
Outside the church a man stood by the side of the road holding an American flag and a handwritten sign that read: "Thanks Charlie".
Inside, longtime friend Duncan Hunter recalled fishing trips where Norwood would arrive with so much gear he nearly sank their tiny boat. Hunter drew chuckles as he said that most of the stories he had about his friend "I can't repeat in a church."
Hunter was also the mentor to Randy LEE Cunningham who solicited bribes including the services of prostitutes.
Norwood, a tobacco-chewing conservative, railed against government bureaucracy and intrusion.
Hunter is the epitome of the collapse of intelligent conservatism in the Republican Party
George Will beyond generous to Duncan Hunter
George Will, a voice of conservative sanity in an era in which a Republican who might as well be an LBJ clone holds the White House, weighs in today on the presidential candidacy of San Diego's own, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine. He's altogether too generous -- not in that he takes Hunter's candidacy seriously, but in his descriptions of (and gross omissions) in describing Hunter's record:
He hopes to be seen as the most conservative Republican candidate, as he understands conservatism. He is pro-life, an expert on defense issues, a hawk on border security (he authored the legislation that mandates 854 miles of fences across the major southern border routes used by smugglers of narcotics and people) and a skeptic about free trade.
Hunter is not a "skeptic" on free trade. He is a demagogic, Lou Dobbsian populist who would have us believe that free trade is destroying the U.S., when by any objective measure free trade has been key to the rise of a massly affluent culture over the past generation. (Today's middle class routinely enjoys creature comforts equal to or surpassing those enjoyed by the upper class in the 1950s.)
And Will simply ignores Hunter's horrific record on spending. Hunter is all for earmarks, doesn't care that the GOP Congress spent as freely as LBJ and the "Great Society" Congresses of the 1960s, and -- in a meeting with the U-T's editorial board -- showed no interest in trying to control the rising cost of entitlements, which will bankrupt the Treasury if unchecked.
A few readers have complained that I pick on Hunter because it's easy to make fun of a long-shot candidate from the San Diego area as someone who's somehow got too big for his britches. Bunk. I knock Hunter because on fiscal grounds, he is the epitome of the collapse of intelligent conservatism in the Republican Party. His hero (and supposed role model) Ronald Reagan focused on fiscal conservatism over social conservatism (same as Bush 41). Hunter and Bush 43 have gone the opposite route. Few Republicans in D.C. care any more that we're just loading debt on our children.
But because of his free trade-bashing, Hunter is even worse than most rank-and-file Republicans. All one has to do is look at Europe to see the folly of "fair trade." Hunter doesn't care. Demagoguery in a time of economic anxiety pays political dividends.
Too bad George Will didn't point that out. On the other hand, maybe Will hints at his real feelings here:
[Hunter] hopes to be seen as the most conservative Republican candidate, as he understands conservatism.
Who understands conservatism anymore when a "conservative" president busts the budget, expands federal powers in many ways and pursues a Wilsonian-we-can-change-the-world foreign policy at fundamental odds with conservative ideas about restraint and realism in foreign affairs?
Posted by Chris Reed at February 15, 2007 11:57 AM
Hunter on PEACE THROUGH TORTURE campaign swing through Florida
February 03, 2007 SAN DIEGO – Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, is scheduled to meet with Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., the general chairman of the Republican National Committee, Saturday in Orlando as he continues a four-day swing through Florida in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Hunter is also scheduled to attend a cookout in the Panhandle town of Lamont, near Tallahassee.
“We've invited him because we think he would be a remarkable presidential candidate and we want to introduce him to those people who can make a difference and get behind him,” former Florida state Rep. Randy Johnson, one of the cookout's hosts, told City News Service.
To Johnson, Hunter is not “someone everyone's talking about, but he's one of those guys that when people get to know and understand his role and how remarkable an asset he's been to the president of the United States with respect to giving him good advice, sometimes advice he might not like to hear,” they'll support.
“History has proven Duncan Hunter right on a myriad of issues,” said Johnson, a former Navy pilot who described himself as a “big fan” of Hunter.
Hunter began his trip to Florida Thursday by giving a speech in Jacksonville Thursday and attending receptions with area business leaders and veterans. Hunter spoke to a meeting of the Board of Governors of the Council for National Policy in Amelia Island yesterday, again on the topic of “Peace Through Strength,” echoing a phrase and concept made popular by former President Ronald Reagan.
Hunter has based his campaign on support for a strong military and the war in Iraq, including President Bush's call to add more than 21,000 troops; opposition to illegal immigration and cracking down on nations, such as China, that are hurting American manufacturing with unfair trade policies.
Hunter, 58, was elected to the House in 1980 and re-elected every two years since. He was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee from 2003 until the Democratic takeover of the House earlier this month, overseeing a $532 billion defense budget.
Hunter has billed himself as the most conservative Republican presidential candidate, which he said gives him a chance for victory despite low name recognition. In addition to having to overcome low name recognition and being at 1 percent in several polls among Republican presidential hopefuls, Hunter will also have to overcome history to be elected president. No sitting member of the House has been elected president since Republican James A. Garfield in 1880.
“He's very much a long shot,” Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and a former head of research for the Republican National Committee, told USA Today. “He sees a niche for a social conservative with a strong defense background. He's putting a steel beam on the beach and hoping lightning will strike.”
Hunter Plays Politics with Nation's Security
Hunter voted no on HR 1 Implementing the 9/11Commission Recommendations Act.
Committee Defense Review Debacle
"We will always be at war." Duncan DUKE Hunter
Underwhelmed by the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, Rep. Duncan Hunter had the House Armed Services Committee conduct its own in-depth look at US defense needs.
This huge force expansion would consume scores of billions of dollars. The CDR said the additions would permit the US to wage a Global War on Terrorism and, if need be, fight and win two regional wars at the same time. Otherwise, it warned, the US couldn’t hack it.
Not since the Reagan buildup of the early 1980s has DOD sought force structure increases, mostly because they are costly. This, however, did not faze CDR members, who noted, “The United States is a wealthy country. Such expansion is hardly unprecedented.”
The CDR’s “second opinion” about force structure stemmed from two bedrock strategic conclusions.
- First, the House panel warned, the GWOT is a long-term mission. The “nexus of terrorism and radical Islam” poses “one of the gravest threats” we face, it said, yet, strangely, “defense and budget planners appear to believe that the current demand for military forces in the GWOT is an aberration” and that it “will subside over time.” This is unlikley, said the CDR.
- Second, said the CDR, conventional “state-on-state conflict remains a significant element of the security environment.” It is not, as some argue, being replaced by “irregular” GWOT missions. In fact, said the CDR, “the [conventional] requirement may have increased” because aggressors “see opportunities to exploit the US commitment” to fighting global terror networks.
For the taxpayer, defense has rarely been more affordable, because the economic burden rarely has been lighter. True, DOD spends lots of money—$512 billion last year on the basic force program and the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even that expenditure, however, consumed only 3.9 percent of the nation’s $13 trillion gross domestic product—a far smaller share than in most of the past 65 years.
In 1944—the height of World War II—the military consumed 36 percent of a much smaller economy. The figure during the Korean War was about 11 percent and in Vietnam about nine percent. It was not until 1991, after the Cold War, that the figure even dipped below five percent of GDP.
While military spending today consumes less than four percent of GDP, federal outlays on entitlement and benefits programs are at historic highs, taking about 13.1 percent of all national wealth. That is a rise of more than two full percentage points since the end of the Cold War.
The fact that social spending now more than triples defense outlays says a lot about American priorities, not to mention the whole question of what is, or is not, “affordable.”
Hunter said that 55 House Armed Services Committee members participated in the CDR process.
Note that, in the end, the CDR report was signed by Republican members only. The Democrats withheld their names from the final document. In explanation, a Democrat spokesman uttered a vague comment about “unrealistic force structure outcomes.”
Raising the defense share of GDP by a single percentage point—from four to five percent—would generate a $130 billion boost this year. That would be enough to start rebuilding the force as the CDR suggests.
Stronger defenses are only as unaffordable as we want them to be.
The WAR on peace
Who is Duncan DUKE Hunter?
Who is he? Neo-con corporate shill and war pimp congressman who chaired the House Armed Services Committee until the Republican defeat in the 2006 mid-terms. He announced in October 2006 that he planned to run for president.
Why take him seriously? Duncan Hunter has sterling credentials on two subjects dear to conservatives: he deeply hates liberals and he is a Christ-o-Fascist who would tear down the Constitution in the name of 'Family Values'. Representing a district with strong military industrial connections, he has been a champion of over spending while not providing body or vehicle armor which would have saved the lives of 100s of US soldiers. And he is a hardliner on immigration, co-authoring the bill that called for 700 miles of fencing to be built between the US and Mexico but will not provide funding for it's construction. Mr. Hunter supports torture, behaves like a bully and name caller.
What is going to stand in his way? No-one has ever heard of Duncan Hunter. He does not even appear in polls of voter preferences for 2008 candidates. Dumpin' Duncan
Did you know? Congressman Hunter is one of surpassingly few legislators to have a child who served in the military - his son, also called Duncan, deployed to Iraq as a marine in 2003. Duncan Duane, honorably discharged from the Marines Corps is now president of Boise Hunter Homes.
Hunter hits S. Carolina to energize campaign
Speech focuses on fear mongering
- Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, talked about border security and trade imbalances during a speech at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina.
December 2, 2006 CHARLESTON, S.C. – Bearing a stern warning about a burgeoning Chinese threat to America's national security, Rep. Duncan Hunter yesterday sought to jump-start his long-shot presidential campaign in a key state with a message built around signature issues that have been central to his political career.
The Alpine Republican laid out his case for his party's presidential nomination before about 100 people on the campus of the conservative Charleston Southern University. During a 20-minute speech and a 48-minute question period, he underscored his long history of support for a muscular military, tight border security and strong remedies for a trade imbalance that he says is financing China's burgeoning military challenge to U.S. interests.
The trip marked Hunter's first foray into a crucial presidential battleground. South Carolina's early GOP presidential primary election, closely following the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, has helped shape the final outcome in past contests.
Hunter arrived in the state Thursday to tour a steel manufacturing plant. His schedule also included a round of local radio and television interviews.
The usual trappings of a full-fledged presidential campaign were conspicuously missing. Hunter traveled with no staff support, which may have explained the fact that only one local television channel covered his campus event, along with a crew from C-SPAN.
That may change once Hunter forms an official presidential exploratory committee that is legally empowered to raise and dispense campaign money.
In any event, Hunter made it clear that his official candidacy is a foregone conclusion, saying: “We're preparing to run. While the lawyers are crossing the i's and dotting t's, we're down here getting a running start.”
At Charleston Southern University, the veteran of 26 years in the U.S. House found himself fielding politely posed but hostile queries from three members of the campus Young Democrats organization. While Hunter showed no sign of being thrown off balance, the quizzing may have been a surprise given Charleston Southern's political reputation and its self-described role as a Christian school.
The questions probed his ties to a defense contractor identified as a co-conspirator in the bribery case that sent former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham to prison; suggested he was trying to cover up the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal to avoid embarrassing San Diego-based Titan Corp., which had interpreters there; and claimed that a member of his Armed Services Committee staff had slipped a provision into a military authorizations bill that dismantled an inspector general's operation that was uncovering corruption in the Iraq reconstruction efforts.
While denying the implications of all three questions – and suggesting that the question about Cunningham had been written by the staff of a local Democratic congressman – Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, was calm and measured in his responses. As the session was wrapping up, he turned to the trio.
“I want to give you guys the last shot. Do you have anything left?” Hunter asked.
They didn't, and afterward he posed for a photo with Tyler Jones, president of the school's Young Democrats and the one who asked about Hunter's ties to Brent Wilkes, one of two contractors accused of having bribed Cunningham.
Responding to the question about Wilkes earlier, Hunter said: “When you open up the doors to a fundraiser and five or six or seven hundred folks come in, you don't have a crystal ball that tells which ones are going to have a problem five or 10 or 15 years off in the future.”
During his speech, Hunter concentrated on national security.
“China is stepping into the superpower shoes that were vacated by the Soviet Union,” he warned. “And they're doing that, they're assembling this formidable military machine, with American trade dollars. And those trade dollars flow down a one-way street – a street in which they receive some 200 billion more dollars a year than we receive from them.”
A longtime critic of free-trade agreements, Hunter blamed the situation on Chinese trade policies – including tax rebates to the country's exporters – that are made all the more onerous by the relative openness of the U.S. market and by the Beijing government's practice of manipulating its currency's exchange rate to give Chinese exporters an advantage over U.S. competitors.
He also touted his role in winning legislative authorization 700 miles of fencing along portions of the U.S.-Mexican border most susceptible to smugglers bringing in groups of illegal immigrants. He argued that border security is no longer an immigration issue but one inextricably linked to national security.
As the event was breaking up, at least one Republican activist, David Weiss, director of alumni affairs for the school, said Hunter's presentation had won his provisional support.
“Of the usual suspects, I'd have to give him the early lead (for my vote),” Weiss said. “His conservatism would fit well (with state Republicans). His name recognition would be a problem. He'll need grass-roots support if he is going to make headway.”
That assessment is shared by many political analysts of southern politics, who point out that Hunter, a neophyte in presidential politics, is virtually unknown among voters outside his San Diego-area constituency. He will be competing for the GOP nomination with a growing field of higher-profile Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
“(South Carolina) is not a state where you can just kind of come in and, just in couple of days, kind of take it over,” said Ferrel Guillory of the University of North Carolina, a longtime political scientist in the Southeast. “You've got to work at it. Particularly a guy like Duncan Hunter, who is just not known at all. Somebody is gonna ask him, 'Who's your mama?' The good old Southern questions. 'Who's your daddy? Where'd they come from?' ”
"He would ruin the Republican Party."
Morton Kondracke, executive editor of the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, said Hunter appeals to the "nationalist and anti-immigration protectionists in the 'fortress America' wing" through his defense work and championing the construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"But I can't conceive of him being the nominee," Kondracke said and then suggesting Hunter is too extreme for a majority of Americans. "He would ruin the Republican Party."
Hunter, like Cunningham, took thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from defense contractors Mitchell Wade of Washington and Poway's Brent Wilkes, two men at the heart of the Cunningham influence-peddling case. Starting in the 1990s and continuing until last year, Hunter received a combined $46,000 from Wilkes, Wade and their associates.
Congressmen We Could Do Without
California has its share of wacky politicians, but Reps. Hunter and Pombo take the cake.
October 17, 2006 CALIFORNIA'S REPUTATION FOR WACKINESS doesn't necessarily rest on its representatives in Congress — the roots of our unconventional ways go far deeper — but they certainly haven't hurt. Former Rep. William E. Dannemeyer, for instance, a Republican from Orange County, once suggested quarantining anyone who tested HIV-positive. Former Rep. Ron Dellums of Oakland, an avowed socialist, once said that "we should totally dismantle every intelligence agency in this country."
The state doesn't currently have anyone quite in Dannemeyer's or Dellums' category, thankfully. But two current members of the House of Representatives come close.
Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy), a seven-term congressman who appears to have a vendetta against the environment, has tried repeatedly to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act. He has proposed selling federal wilderness for a pittance to mining interests. His latest bill wouldn't just open up vast stretches of the coast to drilling, it would slash the royalties that companies must pay for shale-oil leases, potentially costing taxpayers billions of dollars. And then there's his tarnished ethics record, which earned him a spot on a watchdog group's list of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress last year.
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) may not come up with as many doozies, but the ideas he does have are almost breathtakingly foolish. He has proposed letting parents sue distributors of comic books and other entertainment that might contain objectionable material. After seeing a prisoner menu that included orange-glazed chicken, he decided that U.S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay was not just defensible but admirable. "We treat them very well," he told CNN.
Hunter has been best known recently for his whimsical idea, which has taken the form of legislation for two consecutive years, to take Santa Rosa Island away from the general public and make it a hunting playground for disabled veterans. Never mind that the National Park Service opposes the idea and the disabled veterans don't want it. After the proposal died last year, Hunter insisted on bringing it back in 2006.
With congressmen like these, California's reputation for eccentricity is unlikely to suffer. All the same, it's the kind of behavior the state could do without. Better to have our wackiness expressed in, say, our vegan cuisine, where it can do less harm.
Scandal and waste
Duncan DUKE Hunter: Tax Cheat
Tax Hunter, help the rest of us
By: Gail Chatfield - The Californian
There are a mere 13 shopping days left until Christmas, but today the San Diego County Tax Collector's office will receive gifts worth a couple of billion dollars from the first installment of our property taxes.
It's a big check for homeowners like me to write, but I like having schools, sewers, clean water, and rats and mosquitoes dead. Besides, we live in a "pay their fair share" state.
So it was disappointing to read that Rep. Duncan Hunter is still disputing paying his fair share of property taxes. The county claimed Hunter owed nearly $5,000 in back taxes after discovering substantial errors in its previous assessment of his 2.7-acre Alpine property.
When Hunter purchased the six bedroom fixer-upper in 1994, the tax rolls listed it as a modest two-bedroom home. The previous owner did not get permits for the additions, so the county had no records that the house had tripled in size. Assessments are based on land and improvements, but, with no records filed, Hunter continued to pay taxes on a two-bedroom instead of the mansion he later renovated. One would think he would have more efficient accountants and attorneys.
The assessor's office notified Hunter that the property had been wrongly assessed when he filed for permits to rebuild his house after the Cedar fires. Hunter complained and challenged the revised assessment.
The tax story and his sweetheart acquisition of the property were reported in the Union-Tribune in October. The bigger story is what happened next.
Refusing to pay the back taxes "on principle," Hunter spent $26,000 in campaign donations to buy a full-page advertisement in the U-T to explain his side of the story. Standing on principles is good, but when you have not paid the appropriate taxes for 12 years, a better principle is to acknowledge the mistake, pay your fair share, and support county services rather than making the local newspaper a little richer.
The assessor's office even reduced the back taxes to $667, yet Hunter still disputes the bill. No one enjoys paying taxes, but someone whose salary is paid by them should appreciate this tax-collecting concept. And to think we just gave him a salary raise, too.
I applaud politicians who take on the tax man for the public good. Hunter's attorneys and accountants didn't find the mistake. Or maybe they did and ignored it. But how do the rest of us know if our assessments are correct?
If Hunter really wants the assessor's office to be more efficient, I can offer a few suggestions. Property taxes should be for a calendar year, not this baffling July to June fiscal year. Installments should be due at times other than two weeks before Christmas and definitely not five days before income taxes are due in April when we would like to tuck any extra money into our IRAs. And how about spacing the payments six months apart instead of the current four?
Help us out here, Mr. Tax Man.
Carmel Valley resident Gail Chatfield is a freelance columnist for the North County Times. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hunter got break on taxes for home
October 08, 2006 Back in the winter of 1994, after reapportionment reshaped California's congressional districts, Rep. Duncan Hunter went shopping for a new home.
The seven-term Republican from Coronado headed east, to the foothills outside El Cajon, where he discovered what would become his quiet retreat from the vagaries of Beltway politics.
The house in Alpine was in bad shape. Hunter and his wife, Helynn, looked past the leaky roof, water-stained drywall and torn-up floors and saw 2.7 acres of potential. They paid the $175,000 asking price and poured $160,000 into repairs and improvements.
Tax rolls listed the property as a two-bedroom, 2½-bath house with 2,946 square feet of living space. The property records were wrong.
According to Hunter's insurance carrier, the house was more than twice that size – about 6,200 square feet. The property also featured a 2,000-square-foot guest house, a swimming pool and tennis court.
A county assessor visited the six-bedroom house soon after Hunter bought it and took pictures, the congressman said.
But the home's description wasn't corrected in the property file. The house was reappraised at $249,000 – above the sale price but below its market value.
The discrepancy resulted in Hunter paying less in taxes than others in similar-sized properties, although the amount he saved is not clear. The county relies on square footage, lot size, comparable home sales and other factors to calculate assessments, but does not discuss specific parcels without a release from the homeowner.
Government watchdogs say the questions are appropriate.
Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who now runs Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the 1994 transaction and amount of taxes paid do not look good.
Members of Congress “should be avoiding the appearance of impropriety,” Sloan said. “This could be an appearance problem” for Hunter.
Robert Stern of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles said a congressman buying a home so recently owned by the federal government raises serious questions.
“It doesn't surprise me. It bothers me,” Stern said. “The question I would ask is, 'Why didn't (State Street) make a profit on it?' When you buy property, you buy it to sell at a profit.”
Today, many of the houses along nearby Peutz Valley Road are new, rebuilt after the walls of flame that raced across the county three years ago this month.
The least expensive five-bedroom home now for sale in Alpine is listed for $785,000 and features 3,168 square feet on 1.2 acres. If the house sells for that price, the property taxes would be about $8,000 a year.
Like every rebuilt or expanded home, the Hunter residence – which will have five bedrooms and 6½ bathrooms when finished – will be reassessed once a notice of completion is filed with the county.
In the meantime, construction continues. One recent day, a painter was finishing work on the stairs leading to the two-bedroom apartment above the more than 1,600-square-foot garage and workshop.
Hunter said he expects to move into the home before Christmas.
Failures as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
Duncan DUKE Hunter became chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in 2002.
His corruption and lack of experience have proven to be a disaster. After four years of his leadership the US Military is in dire condition.
His decision to delay purchase of body armor and vehicle armor resulted in the needless death of 100s of US solders.
His close ties to military industrial contractors resulted in billions of dollars of waste.
Franz Gayl and MRAPs
When Franz Gayl went to Iraq as a civil servant science advisor in 2006, he learned of equipment shortages that were endangering soldiers. But when he tried to address these shortages through his chain of command he was ignored. By reaching out to Congress and the press, he brought much needed attention to these problems, but he also angered his superiors, threatening his career. Franz says that if the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act had passed, he would have had adequate protections against his treatment in the workplace. http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2011/02/04/07
Army major launches assault on backroom contracting deals in wartime.
Determined to put a halt to the No. 1 killer of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Congress directed a multimillion- dollar, classified sole-source earmark to the little known firm MZM Inc. Through the Counter-IED Targeting program, MZM was given the task of delivering intelligence to troops on the ground about the location of roadside bombs, so American forces could root them out.But the program didn't work. The number of deaths and injuries from IEDs continued to rise. The Pentagon ordered Egland to find out what went wrong. He says he found that MZM had hired only a third of the employees it had been paid for, and the money it spent under the contract was misdirected. Egland embarked on what would become a scavenger hunt to discover the root of the earmark. His findings would change the trajectory of his career and make him one of the more unlikely faces of a growing anti-earmark movement.He traced the legislative provision back to disgraced former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. A federal court later revealed that Mitchell Wade, the owner of MZM, had bribed the California Republican with a yacht, jewelry, antique furniture and thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. Wade pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is scheduled to be sentenced in December. Cunningham was sentenced in 2006 to more than eight years in prison, although his attorney recently asked President Bush for a pardon."Had this [IED] program done what it was supposed to and what it was paid to do, I think we could have had a really different number of casualties," Egland says. "A lot more guys could have come home. The abuse of earmarks has cost us lives on the battlefield." http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?filepath=/features/1008-01/1008-01na2.htm
Little Blue: too little too late
Other technologies reached the battlefield only to find that the battle had moved on. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, was aghast to learn that there was no "man-portable" electronic jammer for dismounted infantrymen. The thousands of jammers already sent to counter radio-controlled IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan -- Warlock Green, Warlock Red, ICE, SSVJ, MMBJ -- were designed to be mounted on vehicles only.
With a sharp push from Hunter and $10 million from Congress, factories in California and Maryland produced 10,000 jammers the size of walkie-talkies. The device was named Warlock Blue, although Hunter called it Little Blue. As the first models emerged from the production line in early July 2005, barely a month after the order was placed, the chairman touted "a new spirit of patriotic production." By August, soldiers and Marines were carrying the jammer on foot patrols across Iraq.
But Warlock Blue was designed to counter a low-power radio threat that had never posed much danger to dismounted troops and had nearly disappeared in recent months as other jammers drove bombmakers to more powerful radio triggers.
The Blue was a half-watt jammer at a time when some engineers suspected that 50 watts might be too weak. Each one used eight lithium batteries, which required frequent replacement. In anticipation of Blue, the government bought 400,000 CR123 lithium batteries, according to the Navy. "Do you know what it's going to cost me for batteries for these systems?" one skeptical Army general asked an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer in Baghdad.
Some troops appreciated the Blue, and even considered it a good-luck talisman, like an electronic rabbit's foot. But many commanders believed the jammer was extraneous to the fight they faced, another well-intentioned gadget of marginal relevance. An electrical engineer with long experience in Iraq and Afghanistan later recalled: "A lot of people felt it was being crammed down their throats."
Where does the buck stop?
By: Gail Chatfield - Commentary
The latest Randy "Duke" Cunningham jailhouse confessions to the FBI sound like an episode of "The Sopranos." Cash-stuffed envelopes, phony mortgages, money laundering schemes, offshore bank accounts, prostitutes, lies and bribery now define his 14 years in Congress. How did he get away with this for so long?
In a declassified version of an internal investigation by the House Intelligence Committee, senior staffers and aides said they were intimidated by the hulking Cunningham and went along with his demands "to keep him from going nuclear or ballistic." This Cunninghamophobia enabled him to hand out no-bid contracts for things no one wanted to companies with scant qualifications. Corporate welfare funded by our tax dollars.
Cunningham told the FBI of having to work around objections from Rep. Duncan Hunter, his friend and mentor, who tried to block his spending projects. Hunter felt the contracts for two local San Diego companies, MZM Inc. and ADCS, were wasteful and unneeded. Duh. With no experience in ferrying goods to a war zone, ADCS secured a contract to provide CIA operatives in Iraq with bottled water at a 60 percent markup even though the agency could get water and other supplies much cheaper from Kuwait. I wish Hunter would have tried a little harder.
But then Hunter's had his own 20-year pet project with La Jolla-based DuPont Aerospace. Despite opposition from the Pentagon, more than $63 million from Congress was awarded to the company due to Hunter's powerful position on the Armed Services Committee. The DP-2 experimental aircraft, which Hunter claims the military needs, has yet to show progress. Critics have complained to members of a House panel that the project is poorly designed and managed.
The TV program "60 Minutes" recently reported on the Coast Guard's "Deepwater" project to upgrade and expand its fleet of ships and aircraft. In a post-9/11 world, this would seem vital for protecting our coastlines. Five years and $24 billion later, the Coast Guard has fewer ships and boats than it had before. Ones that were retrofitted to be the biggest and baddest on the open water are now docked because they are not seaworthy.
It only gets worse. According to a review by the Pentagon's inspector general, the Defense Department put U.S. troops in Iraq at risk by awarding $2.2 billion worth of no-bid contracts to companies that failed to meet delivery dates on mine-resistant trucks. The companies involved say delays were caused by an inability to get essential manufacturing materials. Why haven't we ramped up for these essential materials? Crew protection kits, needed to make military vehicles less vulnerable to roadside bombs, arrived in Iraq with missing and unusable components, the report also stated.
Research, development and acquisition of equipment to aid our military and protect our country should be well-funded. But there must be oversight, accountability and progress. When there isn't, should failure to meet contractual obligations, negligence and funding of hobby projects be considered war profiteering?
DoD repeatedly balked at pleas for MRAPs
Jul 16, 2007 Pfc. Aaron Kincaid, 25, had been joking with buddies just before their armored Humvee rolled over the bomb. His wife, Rachel, later learned that the blast blew Kincaid, a father of two from outside Atlanta, through the Humvee’s metal roof.
Army investigators who reviewed the Sept. 23 attack in Iraq wrote in their report that only providence could have saved Kincaid from dying that day: “There was no way short of not going on that route at that time [that] this tragedy could have been diverted.”
A USA Today investigation of the Pentagon’s efforts to protect troops in Iraq suggests otherwise.
Years before the war began, Pentagon officials knew of the effectiveness of another type of vehicle that better shielded troops from bombs like those that have killed Kincaid and the 1,500 other soldiers and Marines.
But military officials repeatedly balked at appeals — from commanders on the battlefield and from the Pentagon’s own staff — to provide the life-saving Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, or MRAP, for patrols and combat missions, USA Today found.
‘We were in a Cougar, so we survived’
Army was not initially on Aaron Kincaid’s radar
In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates late last month, two U.S. senators said the delays cost the lives of an estimated “621 to 742 Americans” who would have survived explosions had they been in MRAPs, rather than Humvees. The letter, from Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Kit Bond, R-Mo., assumed the initial calls for MRAPs came in February 2005, when Marines in Iraq asked for almost 1,200 of the vehicles.
USA Today found that the first appeals for the MRAP came much earlier. As early as December 2003, Pentagon analysts sent detailed information about the superiority of MRAP vehicles to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, e-mails obtained by the newspaper show.
Later pleas came from Iraq, where commanders saw that the approach the Joint Chiefs embraced in the fall of 2003 — adding armor to the sides of Humvees, the standard vehicles in the war zone — did little to protect against blasts beneath their vehicles.
Despite the efforts, the general who chaired the Joint Chiefs until September 2005 says buying MRAPs “was not on the radar screen when I was chairman.” Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, now retired, says top military officials dealt with a number of vehicle issues, including armoring Humvees. MRAPs, however, were “not one of them.” Something related to MRAPs “might have crossed my desk,” Myers says, “but I don’t recall it.”
Why the issue never received more of a hearing at the top remains a mystery, given the chorus of concern. One Pentagon analyst complained in an April 29, 2004, e-mail to colleagues, for instance, that it was “frustrating to see the pictures of burning Humvees while knowing that there are other vehicles out there that would provide more protection.”
The analyst was referring to the MRAP, whose V-shaped hull deflects explosions and puts the crew more than 3 feet off the ground. It was designed to withstand the underbelly bombs that were crippling the lower-riding Humvees and killing their crews.
Pentagon officials, civilians and military alike, had been searching for technologies to guard against improvised explosive devices. The homemade bombs are the No. 1 killer of U.S. forces.
The MRAP was neither new nor unfamiliar to the Pentagon. The technology had been developed in South Africa and what is now Zimbabwe in the 1970s, making it older than Kincaid and most of the other troops killed by homemade bombs.
The Pentagon had tested MRAPs in 2000, purchased less than two dozen and sent some to Iraq. They were used primarily to protect explosive ordnance disposal teams, not to transport troops or to chase Iraqi insurgents.
But even as the Pentagon balked at buying MRAPs for U.S. troops, USA Today found that the military pushed to buy them for a different fighting force: the Iraqi army.
On Dec. 22, 2004 — two weeks after President Bush told families of service members that “we’re doing everything we possibly can to protect your loved ones” — a U.S. Army general solicited ideas for an armored vehicle for the Iraqis. The Army had an “extreme interest” in getting troops better armor, then-Brig. Gen. Roger Nadeau told a subordinate looking at foreign technology in an e-mail obtained by USA Today. In a follow-up message, Nadeau clarified his request: “What I failed to point out in my first message to you folks is that the US Govt is interested not for US use, but for possible use in fielding assets to the Iraqi military forces.”
In response, Lt. Col. Clay Brown, based in Australia, sent information on two types of MRAPs manufactured overseas. “By all accounts, these are some of the best in the world,” he wrote. “If I were fitting out the Iraqi Army, this is where I’d look (wish we had some!)”
The first contract for what would become the Iraqi Light Armored Vehicle, the Badger — made by BAE Systems and virtually identical to the MRAPs sought by U.S. forces then and now — was issued in May 2006. The vehicles began arriving in Iraq 90 days later, according to BAE. As of this spring, about 400 had been paid for and delivered.
The goal: Iraqis ‘stand up’ so U.S. can ‘stand down’
The rush to equip the Iraqis stood in stark contrast to the Pentagon’s efforts to protect U.S. troops.
In February 2005, two months after Nadeau solicited ideas for better armor for the Iraqis and was told MRAPs were the answer, an urgent-need request for MRAPs came from embattled Marines in Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni insurgency. Then-Brig. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, who signed the request, said the Marines “cannot continue to lose ... serious and grave casualties to IEDs ... at current rates when a commercial off-the-shelf capability exists to mitigate” them.
Officials at Marine headquarters in Quantico, Va., shelved the request for 1,169 vehicles. Fifteen months later, a second request for the same vehicles reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was approved. Not until February of this year did those vehicles reach Iraq.
The long delay infuriates some members of Congress.
“Every day, our troops are being maimed or killed needlessly because we haven’t fielded this soon enough,” says Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss. “The costs are in human lives, in kids who will never have their legs again, people blind, crippled. That’s the real tragedy.”
Not until two months ago did the Pentagon finally champion the MRAP for all U.S. forces. Gates made MRAPs the military’s top acquisition priority. The Pentagon now plans to build the vehicles as quickly as possible until conditions warrant a change, according to a military official who has direct knowledge of the program but is not authorized to speak on the record. Thousands are in the pipeline, at a cost of about $2.4 billion.
Gates said he was influenced by a news story — an April report in USA Today — that revealed the Marine units using the MRAPs in Anbar reported no deaths in about 300 roadside bomb incidents during the past year. His tone was grave. “For every month we delay,” he said, “scores of young Americans are going to die.”
One reason officials put off buying MRAPs in significant quantities is because they never expected the war to last this long. President Bush set the tone on May 1, 2003, six weeks after the U.S. invasion, when he declared onboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.”
Gen. George Casey, the top commander in Iraq from June 2004 until February of this year, repeatedly said that troop levels in Iraq would be cut just as soon as Iraqi troops took more responsibility for security. In March 2005, he predicted “very substantial reductions” in U.S. troops by early 2006. He said the same thing a year later.
Given the consensus that the war would end soon, the Pentagon had little use for expensive new vehicles such as the MRAP. The MRAPs ordered for the Iraqis were intended to speed the day when, to use Bush’s words, Iraqi forces could “stand up” and the U.S. could “stand down.”
Nadeau, who wrote the e-mail that led to MRAPs for the Iraqis, now says he did so because “the U.S. government knows that eventually we’re going to get out” of Iraq. The United States wants “to help get (the Iraqis) in a position to take care of themselves.”
For U.S. forces, the answer was something short of the MRAP: adding armor to Humvees. Nadeau and others say the choice made sense because Humvees were already in Iraq and the improvements — adding steel to the sides, upgrading the glass windows and replacing the canvas doors — could be made quickly and far more cheaply. Adding armor to a Humvee cost only $14,000; a new Humvee, armored at the factory, cost $191,000; today, a new MRAP costs between $600,000 and $1 million.
The solution to the IED problem in 2003 had to be “immediate,” says retired Vice Adm. Gordon Holder, director for logistics for the Joint Chiefs in mid-2004.
“We had to stop the bleeding,” Holder says, adding that MRAPs seemed impractical for the immediate need. “We should not take four years to field something the kids needed yesterday.”
Would it actually have taken four years to get the MRAPs to Iraq?
That depends upon how much emphasis the Pentagon and Congress placed on speeding production. Force Protection Inc., the small South Carolina company that landed the first significant MRAP contracts, was criticized this month by the Pentagon’s inspector general for failing to deliver its vehicles on time. But bigger defense contractors were available then — and in recent weeks have secured MRAP contracts that generally call for deliveries in as little as four months.
A bigger obstacle: At the time, the MRAP didn’t fit the Pentagon’s long-term vision of how the military should be equipped. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld regarded the war in Iraq “as a means to change” the military, “make it lighter, make it more responsive, make it more agile,” Holder says. MRAPs, heavier and slower than the Humvee, wouldn’t have measured up, he says.
The commander: ‘My No. 1 threat’ By June 2004, the military had lost almost 200 U.S. troops to the homemade bombs. Gen. John Abizaid, then head of U.S. Central Command, told the Joint Chiefs that “IEDs are my No. 1 threat.” He called for a “mini-Manhattan Project” against IEDs, akin to the task force that developed the atomic bomb during World War II.
The Pentagon organized a small task force that, two years later, morphed into a full-fledged agency — the Joint IED Defeat Organization. Its leader, Montgomery Meigs, is a retired four-star general. Its annual budget totals $3 billion. Its mission: to stop IEDs from killing U.S. troops.
The insurgents often managed to stay one step ahead of JIEDDO, however. They changed the kind of explosives they planted and varied the locations of the devices and the way they detonated them.
When the Pentagon added armor to the sides of Humvees to guard against bombs planted along roadsides, the insurgents responded by burying bombs. The bombs could blast through the vulnerable underbelly of the Humvees. The insurgents over the years also moved to larger, more sophisticated bombs, some packed with as much as 100 pounds of explosives.
To Pentagon decision-makers, the Humvee seemed able to handle the threat early in the war — roadside bombs, rather than those buried in the roads. “If anybody could have guessed in 2003 that we would be looking at these kind of [high-powered, buried] IEDs that we’re seeing now in 2007, then we would have been looking at something much longer” term as a solution, Holder says. “But who had the crystal ball back then?
Nadeau, now a major general in charge of the Army’s Test and Evaluation Command in Alexandria, Va., says buried IEDs did not become a serious threat to the armored Humvees until 2006.
That runs counter to the congressional testimony of two top Marines, Gen. William Nyland, assistant Marine Corps commandant, and Maj. Gen. William Catto, head commanding general of Marine Corps Systems Command. In mid-2005, they reported an “evolving” threat to the Marines from underbelly blasts. They said, however, that armored Humvees remained their best defense.
The congressman: MRAP’s ‘simple’ advantage Just after lunch on June 27, 2004, a group of enlisted men parked a handful of armored vehicles near a cinderblock building at Marine headquarters in Fallujah, Iraq.
A congressional delegation had arrived, and among the dignitaries was Rep. Duncan Hunter, then the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Hunter wasn’t just a powerful congressman. He was a Vietnam War veteran, and his son, then a 27-year-old Marine lieutenant also named Duncan, was stationed there.
More important to most of the Marines, the California Republican had been instrumental in pushing the Pentagon to get better armor for them. Humvees with cloth doors — canvas, like the crusher hat that Hunter wore that day — had been standard issue when the war began. The fabric worked well to shield the sun; it offered no protection against explosives.
Then, as now, Hunter was impatient with the slow pace of procurement in Iraq. That winter, he had dispatched his staff to steel mills, where they persuaded managers and union leaders to set aside commercial orders to expedite steel needed to armor the Humvees. By summer 2004, the Army had shaved four months off its schedule for installing armor.
In Fallujah, he recognized the Humvees. But he couldn’t identify the two vehicles next to them. One was called a Cougar, the other a Buffalo. Both were MRAPs, made by Force Protection Inc., and both, he was told, were coveted. They were used by explosive disposal teams, but combat units “looked at them and said, ‘We want those,’” Hunter recalls.
Throughout most of Iraq, they still haven’t arrived. Despite requests from the field, Pentagon officials decided to ration the vehicle. In 2003 and 2004, they bought about 55, and only for explosive disposal units. But they chose a different approach for protecting the rest of the troops: adding armor to thousands of Humvees. The choice was problematic. The Humvee’s flat bottom channels an explosion up through the center of the vehicle, toward the occupants.
Memos and e-mails obtained by USA Today show a steady stream of concerns about the decision to armor the Humvee. Most went up the chain of command and withered:
• December 2003: Troubled by the mounting death toll from IEDs, the Joint Chiefs began to explore options for better armor. Detailed information on the Wer’Wolf, an MRAP made in Namibia, was passed to an aide collecting information for the Joint Chiefs.
• March 30, 2004: Gen. Larry Ellis, in charge of U.S. Forces Command in Atlanta, sent a memo to the Army’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter Schoomaker. U.S. commanders in Iraq told him that the up-armored Humvee “is not providing the solution the Army hoped to achieve,” Ellis said. He didn’t recommend MRAPs but rather suggested accelerating production of a combat vehicle called the Stryker. In response, the military said new Humvee armor kits would suffice.
• April 28-29, 2004: Duncan Lang, a Pentagon analyst who worked in acquisition and technology, suggested purchasing a version of the MRAP, the Wer’Wolf , put before the Joint Chiefs in December 2003. “A number,” Lang said in an e-mail to colleagues and supervisors, could be sent to Iraq “as quickly as, or even more quickly than, additional armored Humvees.” He called it “frustrating to see the pictures of burning Humvees while knowing that there are other vehicles out there that would provide more protection.”
Although Hunter favored adding armor to Humvees, he now calls the military’s devotion to that approach a costly mistake. “It’s true that they saved more lives by moving first on up-armoring the Humvees,” he says. “The flaw is that they did nothing on MRAPs. The up-armoring of Humvees didn’t have to be an exclusive operation.”
The aide who collected information for the Joint Chiefs, Lt. Col. Steven Ware, now retired, says, “We probably should’ve had the foresight” to start buying MRAPs earlier. But “we just couldn’t get them there fast enough.” Adding armor to the Humvee “was better than nothing,” he says.
The lieutenant colonel: ‘Hope no one gets wasted’ A PowerPoint presentation, dated Aug. 25, 2004, shows wounded troops lying in hospital beds. Most are bandaged. One is bloody. His left eye is barely open, his injured right is covered by a patch. Each was maimed by an IED. Each, save one, was in a Humvee.
Then, another slide: “Numerous vehicles on the market provide far superior ballistic protection” than the Humvee, wrote then-Lt. Col. Jim Hampton, the man who prepared the presentation for the operations staff of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Baghdad.
When he got to Iraq in early 2004, Hampton was tasked with looking at armor options to protect the Corps of Engineers, the agency sent to help rebuild Iraq. For weeks, he studied armor options — many of them were vehicles with V-shaped hulls. His conclusion: The corps should get MRAPs to protect its people — specifically Wer’Wolves. Hampton says he asked for 53 Wer’Wolves. Eventually, the corps got four.
Hampton, opposed to up-armoring the Humvees, warned his superiors, he says. He even e-mailed his wife from Iraq. “Hey Babe,” his e-mail read. “Just a little aggravated with the bureaucracy. ... I sure hope no one gets wasted before the powers-that-be get off their collective fat asses.”
By November, Pentagon analyst Lang had grown discouraged, an e-mail shows. “I have found that you can never put the word out too many times,” he wrote Nov. 17. “I send it on to (the Secretary of Defense’s office), Army and (Marine Corps) contacts I have. ... Some of it is getting to the rapid fielding folks and force protection folks that are looking at Iraq issues.”
Lang closed the message with a variation on the impassioned plea he had made before: “For the life of me, I cannot figure out why we have not taken better advantage of the sources of such vehicles out there,” he wrote. “We should be buying 200, not 2, at a time ... These things work, they save lives and they don’t cost much, if any, more than what we are using now.”
By December 2004, at a town hall meeting with troops in Kuwait, a soldier asked Rumsfeld about the lack of armor on military vehicles. Rumsfeld explained the situation this way: “You go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”
The concerns voiced by troops at the town meeting might have had an impact. Within a week, the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico posted its first notice seeking information about the MRAP from potential contractors.
Back in Fallujah, the desire for the Cougar had grown. By February 2005, the Marines were formally asking for more. Field commanders sent their first large-scale request for MRAPs, seeking 1,169 vehicles with specifications that closely mirrored those of the Cougar. They no longer envisioned the vehicle as limited to explosives disposal teams; they wanted MRAPs for combat troops, too.
Then-Maj. Roy McGriff III drafted the request signed by Hejlik. “MRAP vehicles will protect Marines, reduce casualties, increase mobility and enhance mission success,” the request read. “Without MRAP, personnel loss rates are likely to continue at their current rate.”
The Marine major: ‘Unnecessary’ casualties They convened at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Calif., on March 29-30, 2005. The occasion: a safety board meeting — a regular gathering to address safety issues across the Corps. In attendance: five three-star generals, four two-stars, seven one-stars — and McGriff.
Addressing the generals, McGriff recommended analyzing every incident involving Marine vehicles the same way investigators probe aircraft crashes. Look at the vehicle for flaws, McGriff recalls telling the officers, and examine the tactics used to defeat it.
Lt. Gen. Wallace Gregson, commander of Marine Corps Forces in the Pacific, and Lt. Gen. James Mattis, leader of the Marines’ Combat Development Command, listened and then conferred for a moment.
The room grew quiet. “Then they said, ‘OK, what do you want to do?’” McGriff remembers.
He quickly recited the very plan that the Pentagon would embrace in 2007, more than two years later: “A phased transition. Continue to armor Humvees. At the same time, as quickly and as expeditiously as possible, purchase as many MRAPs as possible. Phase out Humvees.”
The room again grew silent, McGriff says. Then Mattis finally spoke: “That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Mattis’ words failed to translate into action, however. The urgent-need request McGriff drafted went unfulfilled at Marine headquarters in Quantico. A June 10, 2005, status report on the request said the Marine Corps was holding out for a “future vehicle,” the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, more mobile than the MRAP, more protective than the Humvee, due in 2012.
McGriff foresaw some of the turmoil over vehicles in a prophetic 2003 paper for the School for Advanced Warfighting in Quantico.
“Currently, our underprotected vehicles result in casualties that are politically untenable and militarily unnecessary,” his paper read. “Failure to build a MRAP vehicle fleet produces a deteriorating cascade of effects that will substantially increase” risks for the military in Iraq while “rendering it tactically immobile,” he warned. Mines and IEDs will force U.S. troops off the roads, he said, and keep them from aggressively attacking insurgents.
Despite his views then, McGriff, now a lieutenant colonel, says he understands the delays: MRAPs needed to be tested to ensure they could perform in combat. “Nothing happens fast enough when people are fighting and dying,” McGriff says today. “In the end, I think the Marines got the MRAP capability as quickly and safely as possible.”
Others in the Marine Corps disagree. Marine Maj. Franz Gayl, now retired, was science adviser to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, and saw how Marines were still being killed or maimed in Anbar the fall of 2006. If the Marine Corps had decided MRAPs were a top priority, he says, it could and should have pursued them with the same urgency the Pentagon is using now to get them to Iraq. “The ramp-up of industry capacity was delayed by over one-and-a-half years,” Gayl says, “until it became the dire emergency that it is today.”
Gayl, who works as a civilian for the Marines at the Pentagon, has filed for federal whistleblower protection because he fears retaliation for speaking out.
Secretary Gates: ‘Lives are at stake’ After McGriff addressed the generals, another 15 months passed. Then, the Marines in Iraq reiterated the request for MRAPs. This time, they sent the request directly to the Joint Chiefs. This time — success.
In December 2006, the Joint Chiefs validated requests from Iraq for 4,060 MRAPs — and the formal MRAP program was launched.
By March of this year, Marine Corps Commandant James Conway called the vehicle his “No. 1 unfilled war-fighting requirement.” In part, that’s because he saw it save lives in Anbar province. Brig. Gen. John Allen, deputy commander of coalition forces there, says the Marines tracked attacks on MRAPs since January 2006. The finding: Marines in armored Humvees are twice as likely to be badly wounded in an IED attack as those in MRAPs.
Perhaps more convincing: No Marines have been killed in more than 300 attacks on MRAPs there.
The news drew the attention of Gates, just four months into his job at the Pentagon. He was traveling back from Iraq and read about the MRAP’s success in the Pentagon’s daily news roundup. Weeks later, at a news conference, Gates told reporters that the Pentagon would begin rushing MRAPs to Iraq “as best we can.”
Late last month, top Pentagon officials approved an Army strategy for buying as many as 17,700 MRAPs, allowing a one-for-one swap for its armored Humvees. About 5,200 MRAPs had been approved for the other services.
Now, Pentagon officials decline to say exactly how many MRAPs they need. One official says they’ll build MRAPs as fast as possible, then recalibrate the military’s needs as they assess operations in Iraq, a tacit acknowledgment that they may need fewer MRAPs as U.S. troops are withdrawn.
During a news conference last month, Gates worried that the firms building the MRAP won’t be able to get the vehicles to Iraq fast enough. “I basically said that I didn’t think that was acceptable,” Gates said. “Lives are at stake.”
The young lieutenant: ‘Safest vehicle ever’ As the sun began to bake the Iraqi desert last month, Marine 2nd Lt. George Saenz headed back to his base on the outskirts in Fallujah. He felt oddly joyful.
Saenz had just spent hours leading his platoon through one of the most excruciating battlefield jobs — inching a convoy along the streets of Fallujah, searching for IEDs planted in the asphalt or dirt.
The night before had proved dangerous. Two bombs had blown up underneath Saenz’s convoy, including one beneath his vehicle. As he turned through the gray blast walls protecting Camp Fallujah, he says he couldn’t help but think: “If I had been riding a Humvee, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Saenz knew why he was alive. His platoon in the 6th Marine Regiment Combat Team had replaced its Humvees with MRAPs. The two blasts produced just one injury — a Marine whose concussion put him on light duty for a week.
“We’re probably in the safest vehicle ever designed for military use,” Saenz says, recalling his platoon’s record: Three months. Eleven bomb attacks. No one dead.
To be sure, the vehicle isn’t perfect. Saenz’s team warns that MRAPs drive like trucks, plodding and heavy. Some models are so bulky they leave blind spots for troops peering over the boxy hood and so noisy you can’t hear someone sitting two feet away.
“They’re just so heavy,” says Sgt. Randall Miller.
And, after substantial testing, the military has concluded that the MRAPs are vulnerable to the explosively formed projectile, the newest and most devastating variation of the IED. More armor has been developed for the MRAPs the Pentagon ordered this spring.
But Miller isn’t complaining.
On his first tour in Iraq in 2004-05, Miller searched for land mines near the Syrian border in a Humvee. His detection technique was simple: “Go real slow, cross your fingers.” He still drives slowly but feels safer knowing the MRAP’s V-shaped hull will deflect a bomb blast. “I’ve seen our guys get hit and walk away,” Miller says. “They’re awesome, awesome vehicles.”
The widow: ‘Should have done it’ sooner Who is to blame for the delay in securing safer vehicles for the 158,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq?
Jim Hampton, now a colonel, has retired. He questions why Congress and the Pentagon didn’t do more to keep the troops safe. “I have colleagues who say people need to go to jail over this, and in my mind they do,” Hampton says.
Hunter, the California Republican now running for president, blames the Pentagon, which he says “doesn’t move fast enough to meet the needs of the war fighter. ... We have a system in which the war-fighting requirements are requested from the field ... and the acquisition people say, ‘We’ll get to it on our schedule.’”
Other members of Congress blame Rumsfeld.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., wonders if Rumsfeld’s forceful personality silenced some of the generals. “Rumsfeld so intimidated the military that I’ve lost confidence in them telling us what they really need” in Iraq, Murtha says. If the Pentagon “had just listened to the guys in the field,” Murtha says, “we’d have [MRAPs] in Iraq right now.”
USA Today could not determine what role, if any, Rumsfeld played in MRAP deliberations. A spokesman for Rumsfeld, now running a foundation in Washington, D.C., said last week the former defense secretary would not comment.
Aaron Kincaid’s widow, Rachel, doesn’t know who should be held accountable. She is haunted by the idea that getting MRAPs to Iraq earlier might have saved her husband’s life. The bomb that blew apart his Humvee a month after he shipped out to Iraq lay along the path he and his unit took, and no one noticed.
Today, she wonders: Was his death really about the path that “he took, or about the path the Pentagon spent years avoiding — the path that, in May, finally led them to the vehicle that might have saved her husband’s life?
“You think there is always something that could’ve been done to prevent it,” Rachel Kincaid says of her husband’s death.
“If that’s been around for that many years,” she says of the MRAP, “why hasn’t it been used? They should’ve done it at the beginning of the war. They should’ve done it three years ago, four years ago.”
Army body armor contract hasn't been awarded yet
Equipment had been promised for April; Marines on Okinawa receive new MTV vests
- Soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry, which is part of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Wash., examine the new Improved Outer Tactical Vest. They were the first soldiers to receive the IOTV, according to program managers.
May 17, 2007 ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army is late in delivering newer, lighter body armor to soldiers downrange.
In April, an official with Program Executive Officer Soldier (PEO Soldier) said that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan would begin to receive the Improved Outer Tactical Vests that month.
“The Army will begin fielding the IOTV April 07 as directed by [Headquarters, Department of the Army/ Army Central Command],” said Steven Pinter in an e-mailed response to questions to Stars and Stripes last month.
But the Army has not yet awarded a contract for the new body armor, according to PEO Soldier, the Army’s development center for advanced soldier equipment.
Officials at PEO Soldier declined to comment about why no contract has been awarded.
“It is not common Army practice to discuss pending contract awards in the media,” an e-mailed response from PEO says. “As soon as contracts are in place, PEO Soldier would be pleased to conduct an interview with Stars and Stripes.”
Asked if he could say why no such contract had been awarded, Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes, who handles Army resources issues said, “No, I can’t.”
The new body armor is designed to have an additional 52 square inches of protection in the rear of the vests as well as better carriers for side ballistic plates and a quick-release handle that would allow soldiers to drop their armor quickly in emergencies.
The vests are also three pounds lighter than the body armor soldiers wear now and they feature a waistband that takes much of the vests’ weight off the shoulders.
In addition to the IOTV, the Army plans to begin issuing yet another generation of body armor in fiscal 2010 or 2012 as part of the Future Force Warrior System.
The body armor component of the system, known as the “chassis,” is expected to have six ballistic plates that would be 12 percent larger than current Small Arms Protective Inserts and would be shaped to provide more protection along the spine and reduce gaps between the plates.
Before the chassis can be fielded along with the rest of the system, researchers must see if the shaped plates provide the same amount of protection as ballistic plates being used now.
In October, an official with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center in Massachusetts said the Army may try to roll out the body armor earlier than planned.
But in February, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson said the Army’s time line for issuing the new body armor had not changed.
“The future body armor has not gone through all its qualification tests, has not been certified, has not been fully validated in tests, so at this point in time it’s not ready for fielding,” said Sorenson, who deals with Army acquisition, technology and logistics issues.
Meanwhile, Marines on Okinawa have this year received new Modular Tactical Vests that give Marines more side protection, but so far none of the new vests has been issued to Marines downrange, officials at Marine Corps Systems Command said.
“The decision to field MTVs to units preparing to deploy in the next few months was based on the need for units to train with the new vests,” said Systems Command spokesman Capt. Jeff Landis in a Tuesday e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “Further, each deploying Marine will be properly fitted with the MTV system and the gear normally carried on the vest.”
By October, the Corps expects to have 60,000 MTVs fielded to operating forces, according to Marine Corps Systems Command.
The Corps plans to introduce the next generation in body armor in the next two to three years, depending on advances in technology.
Debate over body armor quality, quantity heating up
March 04, 2007 Three government investigations are focusing new attention on combat body armor more than a year after a Pentagon study concluded the extra armor, available since 2003, could have spared the lives of up to 80 percent of Marines who died of upper-body wounds in Iraq.
One investigation, most of which remains classified, has been completed and two more are due in the second half of the year. All of them seek to answer persistent questions from members of Congress about the quality and quantity of equipment available to Marines, soldiers and other service members in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps is touting the arrival in February of an updated version of its body armor vest.
Capt. Jeffrey Landis, a spokesman for Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va., said the full order of 60,000 new vests is expected to reach Iraq by September. The vests are being manufactured by a Florida company under a $38 million contract.
The vests, which weigh about the same as the earlier version, are intended as a stopgap until lighter, better-fitting, more protective gear under development is perfected in the next three to five years, Landis said.
Improvements in the vest reaching Marines this year will make it more comfortable and able to carry such items as water, grenades and ammunition magazines into combat, according to an announcement in November from systems command, the Marines' main agency for buying and maintaining military equipment.
The earlier vest is not designed to carry such items on combat missions. The announcement also cited changes designed to make the vest easier to remove in emergencies, such as vehicle rollovers or emergencies involving deep water.
One of the vest's major changes is a single-unit design in which a protective plate is now incorporated into the vest. The older design requires wearers to hang the plate on the outside of the vest. The old design sometimes interfered with arm movement, Landis said.
The improvements were made in response to comments solicited from Iraq war veterans at Camp Pendleton and elsewhere in December 2005, according to systems command.
"If a Marine is more comfortable wearing the gear than what he is wearing now, he is more combat-effective," Landis said.
The vest redistributes weight from the back to the front of the torso, a change that earned praise from 1st Lt. Mauro Mujica, a weapons platoon commander with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines at Twentynine Palms.
"It is common for a Marine to wear a loaded vest for many hours in a harsh environment. The cummerbund design really makes the vest feel lighter and more comfortable because the weight is better distributed throughout the body," Mujica said in a statement provided by systems command. "This added comfort will help us be faster and more agile during combat situations while affording us a maximum amount of protection from various enemy threats."
The new armor is arriving as the Pentagon's inspector general is investigating body armor contracts, an investigation being done at the request of Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y.
John Santore, a spokesman for Slaughter, said she made the request in response to a New York Times story disclosing a secret Pentagon report that said more extensive shielding could have saved up to 80 percent of Marines who died of upper body wounds during the first two years of the Iraq conflict.
The inspector general's investigation is scheduled to be completed in October, according to a letter from the inspector general's office posted Thursday on Slaughter's Web site. The letter, dated Jan. 30, states that Slaughter was especially interested in whether the Defense Department "followed proper procedures for the procurement of the equipment."
At Slaughter's request, the inspector general has launched a similar investigation into procurement practices for armored vehicles. That report is due to be completed in July.
Slaughter and other congressional Democrats have seized on doubts about the effectiveness and availability of body armor as an example of the failure of Republicans to investigate how well defense contractors were fulfilling their obligations.
"I think it's deeply troubling to Rep. Slaughter and members of the Democratic leadership that Republicans failed to carry out their oversight duty and failed to examine which contracts were going to which companies," Santore said.
Josh Holly, a spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said Hunter has pushed Army and Marine officials to quickly deploy advanced body and vehicular armor for soldiers and Marines. He has also constantly asked military leaders about what they need to protect troops in combat, Holly said.
Another report from the Defense Department's inspector general, completed in January, said some troops in Iraq "were not always equipped to effectively complete their missions."
Most of the report, except for a three-page executive summary, remains classified.
Maj. Raymond Kimball, a military historian at the Army's West Point academy and a member of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ---- an advocacy group for combat service members ---- said Thursday that he was amazed at what the executive summary revealed.
"It's hard to believe that the same country that 60 years ago was the arsenal of democracy is still struggling to get mission-essential equipment to soldiers in a timely manner," Kimball said.
Santore said that body armor was a not a major part of the January report, but called it a valuable first step in what he said will be a series of audits and House oversight investigations into body armor and other equipment-related problems.
"It's just setting the stage and giving a broad overview," he said.
Marine officials have insisted in published reports that they have done all they can with existing body armor to prevent death and serious injury to those combat.
Landis said the design and use of body armor required military leaders to strike a balance between protecting the wearers and providing Marines with enough mobility, agility and comfort to perform their missions.
"The only thing I can say is that this is the best protection available to our forces. It has been proven to save lives," Landis said.
He said the earlier version of the vest had saved "countless lives" in battle, and that three weeks of field tests involving forced marches, maneuvers through urbanized terrain and emergency exit drills, showed the new version will be even more effective.
Fire hazard puts Marines' cold-weather gear on ice in Iraq
- Lance Cpl. Joel Snoke, with Company B, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, a reserve unit from South Bend, Ind., listens to a briefing in the early-morning cold as a group prepares to go out on a route clearance mission. Under his flight suit he's wearing the new long johns issued to the Marines as a safe insulating layer to wear outside the wire. On his head is a gator made by his Mom and sent to the company to stay warm, but it cannot be worn outside the wire because it's made of synthetic material.
- Cpl. Tyler Moyer, 22, stuffs the new long johns issued to Marines into his helmet Thursday morning. The long johns are safe to wear outside the wire.
- To keep warm in the brisk cold of early morning while preparing to go on a mission, Marines stay bundled in watch caps.
- Boxes of the new long johns that are suitable for outside the wire await distribution to the Marines of 9th Engineer Support Battalion in Iraq.
CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq — The grumbling was muffled but expletive-laced.
The Marines of 9th Engineer Support Battalion, out of Okinawa, were headed out on a night mission and had been told that day they wouldn’t be allowed to wear any of their Corps-issued cold weather gear to keep warm.
Iraq is normally associated with excruciating heat, but this time of year the temperature drops fast as soon as the sun goes down. On this particular night, it was forecasted to be 34 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill factor.
“No polypro. No fleece,” Chief Warrant Officer Bruce Broaddus reiterated to his Marines at the mission brief shortly before heading out Saturday. “You could see from the slide that it’s going to be cold tonight. You’ll have to mitigate that by layering — and a little Marine motivation.”
The problem is the cold weather gear is made of synthetic material, namely polypropylene, which the U.S. military has learned — the hard way — melts much like plastic around fire, such as during a roadside bomb explosion, and can cause burns.
Last week, Marine Brig. Gen. Robert Neller, deputy commander of Multi-National Forces — West, sent out guidance to his commands banning the gear from being worn outside the wire in Iraq. Only natural fibers, ideally cotton or wool, or flame-retardant material can be worn.
The Marines have been aware of the problems with synthetic materials since at least April, when they initially banned polyester and nylon — particularly clothes made by brands such as Under Armour and CoolMax. Those brands are not Marine Corps-issued, but are popular among troops and are sold at post exchanges.
It’s not clear why there was a delay in identifying that there would be a similar issue with the official Marine cold weather gear. But officials are working to get approved clothing to Marine units in Anbar.
The gear supplied to Marines in Iraq consists of a neck gator, top and bottom long johns — all of which are made of polypro — a polar fleece and a watch cap.
As a substitute, Marines are being issued flame-retardant long johns, and flash hoods to protect the neck and face are on order.
The long johns had been in the country and were easily acquired.
“There was more than enough,” said 1st Lt. Greg Duesterhaus, the 9th ESB supply officer. “It was just a matter of us asking.”
“It’s a constant battle,” Duesterhaus said about outfitting Marines with the best equipment to keep them safe. “It’s all a reaction to a changing war.”
Capt. Dev Spradlin, Engineer Support Company commander, said the decision to ban the gear wasn’t popular among his Marines, who do a substantial amount of work at night.
In the interim, Marines were left with layering T-shirts and sweats under their cammies or flight suits.
The sweats are “the only thing we have that’s issued that we can still wear because it’s made of cotton,” Lance Cpl. William Flores, with Support, said about the cold weather gear.
Mitigating risk of burns has been an evolving issue in Iraq, especially with the changing threat of roadside bombs. For example, Marines started wearing flame-retardant flight suits on missions. But even with the suits, it’s not safe to wear synthetic materials underneath because it’s possible that the heat from an explosion can melt the gear.
“We’ve learned through trial and error that [synthetic material] does more harm than good,” Spradlin said. “We’ll suffer a little bit now, but it’s for a better cause.”
The issue is especially personal for the Marines of 9th ESB. One of their own, Sgt. John Phillips, died in August after sustaining burns to most of his body during a roadside bomb explosion a few months prior. He was wearing a synthetic shirt.
“You wonder, ‘Would [the injury] have been as great had he been wearing a cotton T-shirt?’ ” said Lt. Col. Mark Menotti, commanding officer of 9th ESB.
The ban on cold weather gear was done out of caution by concerned leadership, Menotti said.
The Marines’ cold weather gear wasn’t necessarily designed to be worn in this type of combat situation, he said. It’s primarily for training in mountainous or other cold environments.
Banning that gear has the biggest impact on the gunners who are exposed to the elements in their turrets.
Company B Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Frizzell, 23, of Tell City, Ind., said he normally wears it all, plus an extra layer of a long-sleeve T-shirt to stay warm in the turret.
The 9th ESB leadership needed an alternative to keep Marines safe from the fire hazard, but warm enough to ward off illness.
“I asked my guys what’s on stock and how soon can we get it,” Menotti said.
Many of the gunners said the new long johns aren’t quite as warm as the polypro, but are better than nothing.
“Everybody complains about it, but we’ll get over it,” Lance Cpl. Cody Kidd, 19, a gunner from Snohomish, Wash., said. “It’s not that bad.”
Officials at the Marine Corps Systems Command — which acquires the gear and equipment used by Marines — said a permanent fix was in the making.
A program called “Flame Resistant Organizational Gear,” or FROG, was started in February and has resulted in flame resistant ensembles dubbed FROG I and FROG II. FROG I consists of a flame-retardant balaclava, flame-retardant long-sleeve T-shirt and flame-retardant gloves. FROG II adds a flame-retardant outer garment.
The main fibers being used include monoacrylic, Nomex and rayon, and possibly wool, a spokesman said Wednesday.
The spokesman said 60,000 FROG kits will be distributed between February and December 2007.
Report: Navy intranet program fails to meet goals
December 08, 2006 The 10-year, $9.3 billion Navy-Marine Corps Intranet project has not met its key strategic goals, because officials never implemented a plan developed in 2000 to measure and report on progress toward achieving them, the Government Accountability Office reported Friday.
The Navy has met just three of 20 performance targets it has set for the program, GAO auditors said in the report (GAO-07-51).
"By not implementing its performance plan, the Navy has invested, and risks continuing to invest heavily, in a program that is not subject to effective performance management and has yet to produce expected results," auditors said.
NMCI, which provides information technology services to more than 650,000 users at hundreds of sites, is the largest corporate intranet in the world, according to the Defense Department. It has consolidated more than 1,000 previously existing IT systems.
Pentagon officials generally concurred with the recommendations included in GAO's report, but challenged some of its conclusions and defended the overall management of the NMCI project.
"While NMCI's performance has been far from perfect, it has steadily improved over time," wrote John R. Landon, deputy assistant secretary of Defense in charge of IT acquisition, in a response to the GAO report. The program, he said, "can best be characterized as a strategic success that has endured some tactical difficulties along the way."
Navy officials set two strategic goals for NMCI: providing information superiority and fostering innovation through interoperable networks. They set up a plan to measure progress on meeting these goals, but never put it into effect, GAO found. Instead, the Navy has focused on defining and measuring the progress of the program's contractor, EDS, toward meeting specified targets to roll out the system to users.
In October 2000, the Navy set a goal of having between 412,000 and 416,000 individual "seats" on the NMCI network by fiscal 2004. As of June 2006, a little more than 300,000 seats were operational.
GAO also found that the percentage of end users of NMCI who say they are satisfied with its performance has consistently fallen short of a target of 85 percent. Moreover, the auditors said, since the Navy defines satisfaction as an average score of 5.5 or higher on a 10-point scale, its overall figures on those who say they are happy with NMCI "include users that are at best marginally satisfied and arguably somewhat dissatisfied."
Defense officials defended their statistical standards, saying they were "based on industry practice."
GAO reported that officials at Navy shipyards and air depots expressed various concerns about NMCI during interviews with auditors. At all five sites auditors visited, officials noted they were continuing to rely on old systems designed to be replaced by NMCI for various functions.
Lawmaker secures funds to upgrade ship Navy doesn't want
Despite strong objections from the Navy, House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., added $25.7 million to the fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill to upgrade an experimental high-speed vessel based in San Diego and developed by one of his biggest political donors.
Hunter, whose wife christened the ship in February 2005, has boasted that Titan Corp.'s Sea Fighter is a speedy, innovative, 262-foot catamaran with the potential to pack more combat punch than most larger battleships.
The money in the fiscal 2007 bill would pay for high-tech modifications to the ship's command and control, survivability, armament and other systems to make the vessel, also known as the X-Craft, operationally deployable.
"The committee believes that deployment of Sea Fighter can demonstrate and validate many of the Navy's operational concepts for littoral warfare," according to language in the Navy research and development section of the committee report, under "Items of Special Interest."
But the Navy, which did not request any money for the catamaran, fears the hefty add-on would squander limited ship procurement dollars on a vessel the service doesn't want. Service estimates indicate that readying the catamaran for actual warfare might cost $100 million -- four times the amount authorized in the House bill.
The Sea Fighter is central to San Diego-based Titan's defense portfolio and a lucrative project for Hunter's Southern California district. The experimental vessel also helped sweeten L-3 Communications' successful $2.65 billion purchase of Titan last year.
Gene Ray, Titan's founder and former CEO, said the catamaran is an "incredible" and "outstanding" system. And House Armed Services Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., defended the system's performance.
Hunter and former Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham, a defense appropriator convicted of taking $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors in return for legislative earmarks, have been two of the program's biggest supporters. Titan was not implicated in Cunningham's federal criminal case.
From 1998 to 2003, Hunter received $47,200 in campaign donations from Titan Corp., more than any other lawmaker, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Cunningham, whose district adjoined Hunter's, came in third -- just behind another Southern Californian, House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis -- with $43,050 in Titan donations.
In the current election cycle, L-3 Communications has given $19,350 to Hunter's campaign, second only to BAE Systems, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Both Hunter and Bartlett would like to produce more Sea Fighters, but Hunter said further development and testing is needed to determine the exact numbers needed. He also wants to arm it with a surface-launched cruise missile called the Affordable Weapon System, another Titan-developed project.
The fiscal 2007 defense authorization bill includes $27 million to complete the design, development and live-fire testing of the weapon system and begin production of an additional 40 missiles.
Like the Sea Fighter, the Navy requested no funds for these missiles, which have failed four flight tests. The next tests are scheduled for this month and July, after which Pentagon acquisition officials will determine whether to move forward with the program.
Money for DC Celebration, None for Troops’ Body Armor
Hunter is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
Posted by Mont. Dem. Candidate for Senate Jon Tester:
My opponent, Sen. Burns, said Wednesday in Havre, MT that funding for adequate body armor for our troops on the front lines would “just bust the budget.” Yet he still voted for a $20 million post-war party to commemorate “success” in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A new poll shows that American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are vastly under-equipped and overextended. A VoteVets Action Fund poll of 450 returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans showed that a clear majority feels the Army and Marines are overextended and nearly half said their equipment did not meet military standards. A recently released Pentagon study shows that better body armor could have saved 80 percent of the Marines in Iraq who died of wounds to the upper body.
According to the New York Times, tucked away in fine print in a military spending bill for this past year was $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation’s capital “for commemoration of success” in Iraq and Afghanistan. A paragraph written into spending legislation and approved by the Senate and House allows the $20 million to be rolled over into 2007 as the money was obviously not spent this year.
Sen. Burns has no plan for success in Iraq and is opposed to funding body armor for our troops, yet he still finds time and money for party planning. That’s just not right, especially when our country is at war with no plan and no exit strategy, and when U.S. troops are being sent to the front lines without the armor and equipment they need to be safe and successful.
My opponent has repeatedly voted to deny American troops in battle more effective, safer equipment:
- Burns voted against $47 billion to repair equipment for U.S. troops
- Burns voted against $361 million to armor military vehicles.
- Burns voted against increased funding for protective gear, including body armor.
- Burns voted against $1 billion for National Guard Reserve equipment.
- Burns voted against prioritizing equipment repairs over tax breaks for millionaires.
Last week, I released my Plan to Strengthen the U.S. Military , which focuses on making the needed investments in equipment and manpower for American troops to be safe and successful. My plan will guarantee that soldiers have the protective gear, equipment, and training they need and are never sent to war without accurate intelligence and a strategy for success. Our troops deserve only the very best from their country after putting their lives on the line for America every day.
Report: Army mistakes delayed armor upgrades
March 26, 2006 Army vehicles in Iraq could have been given armor upgrades quicker if officials had better long-term plans and better contract management skills, researchers at the Government Accountability Office found last week.
Instead, their report found, those inefficiencies and mistakes by the Army delayed installation of many of the armor kits by more than a year. That delay placed troops “at greater risk as they conducted wartime operations in vehicles that were not equipped with the preferred level of protection.”
The GAO found that the Army decided in November 2003 troops would need at least 3,780 truck armor kits to upgrade lightly protected vehicles in Iraq.
Those kits weren’t delivered until 2005, and they weren’t all installed until 18 months after the need was identified.
The report criticizes the Army for failing to anticipate the need for the better-armored vehicles, noting that the service was authorized to develop and order kits as far back as 1996.
Hunter is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Rep. Hunter's committee to expand search for fishy Cunningham deals
Hunter bites the hand that feeds him
House Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon), seeking to derail a government-owned Arab company's plans to manage port facilities in six American cities, said Thursday he would introduce legislation not only to kill that deal but also to prevent foreign companies from controlling facilities determined to be critical to U.S. national security.
Hunter's legislation could affect the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, where 13 of the 14 container terminal operations are foreign-owned. "It makes sense in this new age of terrorism that critical infrastructure be owned by Americans," Hunter said in an interview. He said his proposal could apply not only to ports but also to power plants and "other infrastructure that is critical to the nation."
In a speech yesterday Bush called for an end of isolationism.
Operation Iraqi Liberation
Iraqi soldiers need to be better used, Hunter says
November 21, 2006 WASHINGTON – More Iraqi troops should be committed to the fight against the insurgency and sectarian violence in Baghdad and Anbar before any decisions are made on the use of U.S. forces, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter said yesterday.
Hunter, R-Alpine, said thousands of trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers are stationed in areas where there is little or no violence and they should be sent where the fighting is. He was reacting to reports that a Pentagon study group created by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was suggesting three options for Iraq:
- To increase U.S. troop strength to end the violence quicker;
- To reduce American forces but prepare for a longer stay;
- To pull out now.
“The real answer is to go Iraqi,” Hunter, who recently announced he would seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, said at a Capitol news conference.
Hunter said he and 32 other House Republicans sent a letter to President Bush on Oct. 24, and he has spoken to Pace, urging them to press the Iraqi government to commit more of its troops to the deadly battle in Baghdad.
A number of news stories reported yesterday that the Pentagon study group's options included substantially increasing the more than 140,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq.
“I think it's a mistake to do that without deploying the Iraqi forces that we have stood up, trained, equipped and paid for,” Hunter said. “The idea of having Iraqi battalions 20 miles away in barracks while mobilizing more American troops to send makes no sense.”
Hunter said that 27 of the 113 battalions of Iraqi soldiers that are reported to be trained and equipped are in provinces that average less than one attack a day. “They could be sent to the contested areas of Baghdad. And they should be sent,” he said.
The underutilized Iraqi troops also should be sent to Anbar province, Hunter said, where the battle against a stubborn Sunni insurgency and foreign fighters has resulted in dozens of U.S. casualties every month.
Word of the options under consideration by the Pentagon stoked a lively debate several weeks before the independent Iraq Study Group is set to release its recommendations. The White House is mulling options of its own.
Hunter yesterday rejected a Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel's call for restoring the draft, arguing that conscription would erode the “ethic of patriotism” that is filling the military's ranks with volunteers. He noted that earlier this year, the House voted 402-2 against the proposal.
Meanwhile, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter said Monday that the United States should push for available and trained Iraqi security forces to be sent to the front lines of the fight to stabilize the wartorn country, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter said Monday.
"We need to saddle those up and deploy them to the fight" in dangerous areas, primarily in Baghdad, Hunter, a California Republican who is interested in his party's 2008 presidential nomination, told The Associated Press in an interview. He took a different tack from Sen. John McCain, a front-running 2008 hopeful who has urged that additional U.S. troops be sent there.
Duncan Hunter Praises Rumsfeld
November 08, 2006 EL CAJON, Calif. -- Reacting to the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Wednesday, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said that Rumsfeld had done "a great job for our country." Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, told a local TV station that Rumsfeld probably felt like he would be unable to get along with a Congress led by Democrats, who have long called for his removal.
With the balance of power in Congress shifting for the first time in 12 years, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, is expected to be named Speaker of the House next year.
While Hunter will lose his committee chairmanship, thanks to the new Democratic majority, he comfortably won re-election in his East County district.
Control of the Senate will depend on the outcome of a race in Virginia, where Democrat James Webb leads by about 7,000 votes. The winner will probably be determined by a recount.
"I think that Donald Rumsfeld did a great job for our country," Hunter said in the television interview.
Rumsfeld, named Defense Secretary in 2001, ran two wars in different theaters, instituted reforms in the Pentagon and helped develop a missile defense, Hunter said.
"He leaves America with the strongest military we've had in our history," the congressman said. "That's a good legacy."
President Bush is replacing Rumsfeld with former CIA Director Robert Gates.
Hunter recently announced that he would explore a run for president in 2008.
The US Military is worn out and stretched thin. Mr. Hunter really has no grasp of reality. ed
Duncan DUKE Hunter flip flops on Military Capabilities
House report: Military capabilities, weaponry eroding, Transformation not the answer, group says
December 07, 2006 Twenty-three Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee issued a report late Wednesday that flatly declares the Defense Department lacks the capabilities and capacity to meet 21st-century challenges.
The report, a committee version of the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, is an indictment of Bush administration defense policy because it concludes there are neither enough people nor enough weapons available to meet current needs and that transformation is not the answer.
It also sets a difficult benchmark for Democrats who will take control of Congress in January and face questions about what they are going to do about the perceived gaps, even though Republicans have controlled the White House and Congress for the past six years during which the situation outlined in the report has grown steadily worse.
When the armed services committee launched its independent review of the threats facing the U.S. and the capabilities of the military to meet those threats, the effort was bipartisan. Special panels with Republican and Democratic co-chairmen were formed to study different aspects of national security policy.
But about two months ago, before the November general elections, Democrats pulled out of the effort, according to committee aides. In the end, only Republicans signed the report and recommendations, although Josh Holley, a spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the committee chairman, insisted that the conclusions and recommendations were formed in a bipartisan process.
A bigger force structure is one of the major recommendations of the report, which said increases are needed to conduct the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to be prepared to respond to two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts, which had been the basis for defense force structure for the 15 years leading up to the start of the current wars. Having enough force structure — people and equipment — to carry out two conflicts in the midst of current operations “is critical to deterring aggression by any potential state adversary,” the report said.
Specifically, the report recommends having 78 Army brigade combat teams; 43 Marine infantry battalions and prepositioned stocks for four Marine squadrons; 55 amphibious ships; 15 aircraft carrier strike groups and air wings; 55 to 68 attack submarines and 15 Air Force air expeditionary wings.
On weapons programs, the report said capability is decreasing because the military is not replacing things as fast as they are wearing out, and calls for one-for-one replacements.
A declining number of weapons platforms “reduces strategic depth and flexibility, forces higher use of existing equipment and thus wears it out faster, weakens the industrial base, and limits the ability for the U.S. to engage in or threaten to engage in a long conflict, the report said.
In addition to more procurement, the report said current systems should not be retired until there are proven and deployable replacements.
Holley said there is no cost estimates associated with any of the recommendations because the whole idea was to look at defense issues without budgetary constraints.
“I don’t think there is a price tag in there,” he said.
Volunteer force may be ‘severely degraded’ soon, retired general says
- Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, left, talks to a veteran before last weekend's Veterans Day ceremony at the Vietnam memorial in Washington, at which he was one of the speakers. McCaffrey said Friday that the all-volunteer force could be “severely degraded” within two years unless major recruiting and retention reforms are made soon.
November 18, 2006 WASHINGTON — The all-volunteer force could be “severely degraded” within two years unless major recruiting and retention reforms are made soon, according to a retired Army four-star.
“We’re in trouble,” said retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, former commander of U.S. Southern Command. “We’re making some very short-term decisions. This is a problem of resources and political will."
McCaffrey, speaking on a panel at the Military Officers Association of America symposium, military base pay isn’t high enough to entice the top high schoolers to enlist, and politicians haven’t done a good enough job appealing to Americans' sense of duty to help with recruiting.
“I don’t believe we’ve ever fielded a more effective fighting force than we have today,” he said.
“But we’ve had some problems in the last year with the number and quality of people coming into the armed forces. Generally speaking we’ve quadrupled the number of the lowest mental categories. We’ve quadrupled the number of high school graduates. We’re putting 6,000, 7,000, 8,000 moral waivers into the armed forces.”
The panel on Thursday said recent recruiting difficulties are a combination of a lack of emphasis on military service in society and the heavy deployment of both active duty and reserve forces. And the experts said if those issues aren’t addressed, the recruiting difficulties will only grow, jeopardizing the readiness of the military.
Lt. Gen. Michael Rochelle, the Army’s deputy chief of staff, said the current recruiting environment may be the most challenging the service has faced since the draft ended 33 years ago.
He pointed to high schools and colleges who block military recruiters — and noted the San Francisco Board of Education’s recent decision to end JROTC programs there — and indications that the general public has not put enough emphasis on the importance of serving the country.
William Chatfield, director of the selective service program, said that military recruiting has evolved into “what the Army can do for young people, not what they can do for their country.”
Stephen Duncan, director of the National Defense University’s Institute for Homeland Security, said one of the side effects of moving to a voluntary military from the previously drafted forces was a lack of connection between combat overseas and U.S. society as a whole.
“Now we’re in a situation where the folks who step forward to volunteer are paying a disproportionate share for the freedoms of everyone else,” he said.
Other panelists noted that private contractors in Iraq can make baseline salaries over $100,000, while young privates often make only a small fraction of that amount.
McCaffrey said more bonuses and better base pay for young servicemembers will help solve some of those financial problems.
But he said in order to make sure the military has enough people to respond to future threats, Congress needs to increase the size of the entire force: not just active-duty troops but also the reserves, Coast Guard and border patrol units.
More people will mean more time between deployments and less reliance on the reserves, he said.
“Are we undermanned? Of course we are, for god’s sake,” he said. “We’ve got to get our resources to match our rhetoric and our strategy.”
But getting that larger pool will require action and more defense funding from Congress, and more promotion of the military by politicians.
“I have not heard the commander in chief, any governor, any mayor, any member of Congress ever stand in front of a TV camera and ask the country to send their boys and girls to fight with us,” he said.
“I’ve pushed the president to get that in one of his speeches. What I heard was, in a speech at Fort Bragg, ‘If you’re considering a career in the military there could be no more honorable way to serve.’ That’s not the same. We need people to fight.”
Duncan DUKE Hunter: Fiscal Irresponsibility
Financial management problems at the Defense Department: Fails 10th consecutive audit
As anticipated, the federal government and Duncan DUKE Hunter, as chairman of the House Armed Services Committe, flunked its audit for fiscal 2006, with $797 billion, or 53 percent, of its reported assets and an additional $790 billion, or 27 percent, of net costs, on the balance sheets of five agencies that could not be fully audited.
This marks the 10th year in a row in which the government's consolidated audit statement received a judgment of "no comment" from auditors. The Defense, State and Homeland Security departments, as well as NASA, received disclaimers on their 2006 audits. The Energy Department, which was only partially auditable due to a disclaimer in 2005, earned a qualified opinion -- a step up from no opinion but still short of a clean bill of health.
The difficulty of valuing complex, one-of-a-kind systems contributed to the problems at those agencies. After new accounting rules for property went into effect in 2003, about $325.1 billion in military equipment appeared on the books for the first time, according to a Treasury Department analysis.
In fiscal 2006, the government's total reported assets increased $48.6 billion, to $1.5 trillion.
As it did last year, the Government Accountability Office cited three major shortcomings: financial management problems at the Defense Department, an inability to account for and to reconcile balances that cross agency lines and an ineffective process for preparing financial statements.
The consolidated report also showed that the Transportation Department and Smithsonian earned qualified opinions on their audits, indicating significant problems.
In a letter reporting the audit results, Comptroller General David M. Walker called for the adoption of another report in the annual arsenal -- a new statement that would provide "a long-term look at the sustainability of current social insurance and other federal programs."
Walker has spent the past 15 months crisscrossing the country in what he has called a "fiscal wake-up tour" to speak about the problems the nation faces with its social insurance programs.
Fiscal 2006 was the first year for which a statement of social insurance, which covers outlays for Social Security, Medicare, railroad retirement and black lung disease benefits, was considered a key financial statement. The statement showed projected outlays for those programs exceeding revenues by about $39 trillion over the next 75 years, Walker said.
Combined with other long-term projected expenses, he said, the total government exposure was about $50 trillion at the end of fiscal 2006, up $4 trillion from the previous year and up $20 trillion since 2000.
Striking the pose: Duncan Hunter fakes fiscal conservative act
The Alpine congressman and 2008 presidential candidate did a long Q&A with a conservative Web site. Love the part where he pretends to be a fiscal conservative:
- John Hawkins: Getting back to fiscal conservatism, what would you do beyond (trade related issues) to reduce the deficit?
- Duncan Hunter: I'm reminded that if nobody showed up in the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., it would have very little effect on what happens in the day to day classrooms throughout America. So I think we need to allow more resources to be spent in classrooms and less in the bureaucracy and I think that would save some money. I've obviously voted regularly to de-fund the Endowment For The Arts and a number of other programs. I think we need to spend about 5 to 5 ½% of the GDP over the next 5 to 10 years on national security. Kennedy spent 9% and Reagan, 6.% I think we should spend about 5 ½% and then make tough choices with the amount of money that we have left - but again, I'm relying on growth, on economic growth, as an engine for curing the deficit, for narrowing the deficit.
- John Hawkins: No new spending and then grow our way out of it? That sort of thing?
- Duncan Hunter: Yeah, I've voted over the years for any number of spending mechanisms - Graham-Latta in 1981 to other mechanisms for slowing down the rate of (spending) growth except for the defense sector for freezing the rate of growth. ...(I)f you look at my voting record, I have traditionally voted to cut spending...and I don't know if you've got the congressmen rated there on fiscal conservatism - but I'm on the conservative end of the political spectrum.
The single worst problem facing this country in coming years, with the possible exception of nuclear terrorism, is dealing with the massive fiscal impact of baby boomers retiring. As we slowly transition from a nation where there are 4 working adults for every adult getting Social Security and Medicare to a nation where that ratio is 2 to 1, we will face an incredible fiscal squeeze.
As a veteran member of Congress, Duncan Hunter knows this. He's heard the warnings, seen the bipartisan studies. So what did this self-declared fiscal conservative do in 2003? He voted to make the problem much, much, much worse by extending prescription drug benefits to seniors, three-quarters of whom already have coverage. The money that was saved by all the triumphant stands he claims to have taken is infinitesimal compared to the staggering long-term national debt he helped add with this one vote, which was tantamount to civic arson.
Yeah, right, our Duncan's a fiscal conservative. Ignore his rhetoric, check his record. He loves spending your grandkids' money, and by the truckload.
Investigative report: Budget going up in smoke
Billowing toward a record high, Forest Service firefighting costs threaten to drain funds from other programs, including reforestation
September 17, 2006 In the Southern California firestorms of 2003, that pressure fell on Edrington. It came from Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and other politicians, Edrington said.
Hunter lost a home in the fire. Media coverage shows he pushed hard for the Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to call in the military. He even pleaded with Gov. Gray Davis.
Hunter's spokesman, Joe Kasper, said in an e-mail that the congressman "coordinated with state and local agencies to help protect property and save lives, and he is widely praised for his efforts."
Edrington, who was sent south from Oregon to deal with the politics of the San Diego fire, is philosophical about the situation, saying it's simply how the system works.
"The folks who were putting the pressure on ... they don't understand that if you get Santa Ana winds blowing, and everything is covered with smoke, you can't use the (aerial) assets," he said.
"And if you have a multithousand-acre brush fire running, dumping retardant ... isn't going to do any good.
"It looks great. People think we're doing a lot. But we look at it and say: 'It's like dumping thousand-dollar bills out of the bomb-bay door.' "
Several studies have examined the high cost of firefighting and suggested ways to control it. Nonetheless, the tab continues to grow: $1 billion in 2000; $1.27 billion in 2002; $1 billion in 2003; and this year nearly $1.2 billion -- and counting.
"The current problem is more political than ever," Forest Service fire researcher John Szymoniak wrote in an August memo.
"The expectation for effective and complete fire suppression by our elected officials on the one hand, and (the Office of Management and Budget) for cost control on the other, (are) ... conflicting objectives which cannot be resolved at the local forest level."
Santa Rosa Island hunting proposal derailed in House
An approved spending bill includes provision to renew settlement terms that deer and elk be removed by 2011.
December 19, 2007 A proposal that would allow continued big-game hunting in Channel Islands National Park appears doomed, to the delight of park supporters and the dismay of its chief backer.
The controversial plan by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) was scuttled by a measure tucked into the half-trillion-dollar spending bill approved this week by the House of Representatives. The massive bill has yet to clear the Senate, but its approval there is expected.
Hunter, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, wanted to allow herds of deer and elk to remain indefinitely on remote Santa Rosa Island, possibly so that disabled veterans could hunt them.
The National Park Service wants the nonnative species off the island by 2011. That date was set in a 1997 court settlement between the federal government and Santa Rosa's former owners, a family that ranched cattle there and still closes off much of the island for private hunting parties five months a year.
"This is disappointing news, when considering this proposal was solely intended to benefit our nation's wounded and disabled service personnel," Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said.
Support for the idea was sparse. Last year, representatives of the 21,000-member Paralyzed Veterans of America visited the island and were skeptical, saying rugged terrain and difficult access made it impractical for hunters in wheelchairs.
In the House last year, Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara) whose district includes the national park, said the plan had "nothing to do with helping our troops and everything to do with congressional hubris."
Ultimately, Hunter trimmed mention of veterans and hunting from his proposal, simply forbidding the extermination of elk and deer on Santa Rosa Island. The current measure restores the terms of the court settlement requiring the animals' removal.
Capps hailed the move.
"As someone who's visited Santa Rosa Island and witnessed its beauty and rare archaeological and natural resources, I know that we have to do all that we can to protect this unique national treasure for future generations," she said.
Roughly 1,100 deer and elk, descended from animals shipped to the island for trophy hunts nearly a century ago, now live on the island. Park officials say the nonnatives degrade the steep hillsides and canyons that are home to rare native plants and animals.
Channel Islands National Park spokeswoman Yvonne Menard said the agency would welcome giving greater access to the 83-square-mile island, roughly 40 miles off the Ventura County coast.
How the herds' owners, the family-run Vail & Vickers Co., will remove the animals is an open question. The court settlement calls for an annual population reduction of 25% starting next year.
"That's a lot of animals to just needlessly kill, but that seems to be the only option left," said company spokesman Jim Youngson. Shipping them to coastal preserves would be enormously expensive and logistically difficult, and about half the deer would die in the process, he said.
In a statement, the Vail family contended that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her congressional colleagues had "acted in the dark of night" by including the issue in the current budget bill. The family said its chief concern was the fate of the deer and elk.
Senate repeals law OKing hunts on island
[November 15, 2006]] WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Tuesday to repeal a new law allowing big-game hunts to continue on a California public island in defiance of the National Park Service and a federal court settlement.
The measure was added by California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer to a military construction spending bill being completed by the Senate during Congress' lame-duck session. It was approved by voice vote without debate.
The Feinstein-Boxer measure would overturn language about big game on Santa Rosa Island that was part of a defense programs bill signed by President Bush last month.
That provision, written by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., overturned a federal court settlement mandating that nonnative deer and elk on Santa Rosa Island be removed by 2011. Under the settlement, privately run hunts on the public island off the coast of Santa Barbara, part of Channel Islands National Park, were also supposed to end that year.
National Park Service officials opposed Hunter's plan because they want to get nonnative game off the 53,000-acre island and restore native plant and animal populations. Congressional Democrats, who will assume control of the House and Senate in January, were also opposed.
"With this amendment we can ensure this beautiful part of the Channel Islands National Park remains open and its wildlife will be enjoyed by all for years to come," said Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on military construction and veterans affairs.
Hunter's plan is for disabled veterans to be able to hunt for free on the island — even though the disabled veterans group he initially enlisted for support, Paralyzed Veterans of America, decided the idea was unworkable and withdrew support.
"It's disappointing that the senators are relentlessly trying to exterminate the deer and elk herds on Santa Rosa Island," said Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper, adding that Hunter would work to keep his measure alive.
The House has already passed a version of the military construction bill that does not include language on Santa Rosa Island, so the Feinstein-Boxer language will have to survive House-Senate negotiations in the final days of the lame-duck session.
A Multipronged Tussle Over the Fate of Herds Living in an Island Park
SANTA ROSA ISLAND, Calif., Oct. 3 — There are hunters who dream about places like this.
The game — unusually large Kaibab deer, Roosevelt elk that lope like thoroughbreds along the wind-scoured ridgelines — are trophy quality. All it takes to bag one is a 30-mile trip across the Santa Barbara Channel, a rifle, good aim, a minimum fee of about $8,000 and the existing agreement by the National Park Service to close 45,000 acres of parkland to the public, August through December.
Close a public park to make way for a private hunt? That is not the Park Service’s preference. When it acquired Santa Rosa Island at the time the Channel Islands National Park was formed in 1986, it accepted a 25-year transition period during which the hunting would continue. It wants the animals off the island. The 1,150 deer and elk, park officials say, compromise the native ecosystem — by munching on seedlings of the rare island oaks, for instance.
An advocacy group, the National Parks Conservation Association, is also arguing against continuing to open parkland to private pursuits. Its late 1990’s lawsuit ensured that the herd’s 100-year history on the island would end. Starting in 2008, the herd was to be whittled down, either shipped out or shot. By 2011, it would be gone.
That was the deal until Representative Duncan Hunter came along. A powerful Congressional committee chairman who seems named, if not born, for this dispute, Mr. Hunter, Republican of California, believes the island’s hunt must go on. But the Interior Department is not in his purview. The Defense Department is.
First, Mr. Hunter, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, suggested that military personnel and their guests should enjoy the hunt. Then he said it should continue for disabled veterans.
Neither of these proposals went over. But last week the huge military authorization bill emerged from a House-Senate conference committee with a vestige of the chairman’s original proposal, as inscrutable as the Cheshire cat’s smile. No disabled veterans were mentioned. Not even the word “hunt.”
But by forbidding the park service to “exterminate or nearly exterminate” the animals, Mr. Hunter ensured that, unless someone shipped them out, the deer and elk would remain.
At whose expense? Presumably the Park Service’s, since the families that sold the island ranch to the government will have no more presence here after the transition period ends in 2011.
For whose benefit? That remains unclear. Mr. Hunter’s office is circulating an approving letter from a three-year-old Nebraska group called the Wounded Warriors Project. (A more established group, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, declined after their representative reported that the island’s steep hills and angular drainages were not wheelchair accessible.)
Mr. Hunter said in an interview that, given that only 30,000 people a year visit any of the five islands in the park, accommodating some disabled veterans and their families a few weeks a year was not unreasonable. “We did this as a first step,” he said.
Then, he said, he wants the Wounded Warriors group to put together a plan of use to suit their members. “You’ve got my commitment: I will never hunt there,” Mr. Hunter said. “I only want disabled people who served their country in war. That won’t ruin the day of these environmentalists whose freedom is guaranteed by their service.”
The herds, he said, could be managed by the game management personnel at nearby mainland military bases.
Ms. Capps, who debated sharply with Mr. Hunter on the House floor the day the military authorization bill passed, said the chairman was showing “the arrogance of power” by including an amendment that could not be voted on in its own right.
“This is about what the park means to this country in terms of its values,” she said, adding, “What if there were a hunting operation like this in Yosemite? The Grand Canyon?”
In the next Congress, Ms. Capps said, she plans to introduce legislation to undo Mr. Hunter’s, assuming, as all parties do, that the Senate will follow the House and approve the military authorization bill when Congress reconvenes after the November election. Likewise, Mr. Hunter plans a follow-up to his bill.
The Vail descendants — the first cousins Tim Vail, Nita Vail and Will Woolley — say they believe that the Park Service goal of returning the island to its natural state is hopelessly utopian.
“They’re trying to get it back to a period that never existed,” Mr. Woolley said. Nita Vail added, “The reality is, any kind of ecosystem evolves.”
Hunting on Santa Rosa Island to continue despite outcry
To the dismay of environmentalists and a local congresswoman, private hunting of deer and elk will continue indefinitely on Santa Rosa Island - closing off the scenic isle to the public for several months a year - under a last-minute addition to a defense-spending bill passed Friday by the House of Representatives and poised for Senate approval.
The language inserted by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, contradicts a 1998 court settlement between the National Park Service and the island's former landowners calling for hunting to cease there by 2011.
The Vail Family, which sold the 54,000-acre island off Santa Barbara to the federal government for $29.5 million in 1986, currently charges hunters up to $17,000 apiece.
They had agreed to scale down hunting beginning in 2008 and discontinue it completely by 2011. All of the deer and elk were to be removed by then.
Blasting Hunter's stated rationale for undoing that deadline - so that disabled veterans would have the opportunity to hunt on Santa Rosa - Congresswoman Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, labeled his provision a “special interest boondoggle.”
One veterans group, Paralyzed Veterans of America, has publicly opposed the idea, she noted.
Capps' district includes Santa Rosa Island, which is 40 miles offshore and the second largest of five islands in the Channel Islands National Park.
Hunter's measure also has drawn vocal opposition from California's Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and environmental groups, who contend the hunting blocks public access and interferes with native plants and animals on the island.
“This is a sad day for those of us who love and treasure Santa Rosa Island,” Capps said in a prepared statement. “It is simply outrageous that this misguided proposal has been inappropriately included in the 2007 Defense Authorization bill, in an act of pure Congressional hubris.”
Senate Opposes Military Hunting Plan
04August, 2006 -- The Senate is opposing a House Republican's plan to allow military veterans to hunt nonnative game on a Southern California public island.
Senators passed a resolution against the plan by voice vote late Thursday before leaving for their August recess.
The resolution by California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer says that Santa Rosa Island should not be managed in a way "that would result in the public being denied access to significant portions of the island or that is inconsistent with the responsibility of the National Park Service to protect native resources."
Island Hunting Plan Misses Target
A group for disabled veterans shows little interest in a measure to set aside land on Santa Rosa for their use.
03 August, 2006 A controversial plan to establish a hunting haven for disabled veterans on rugged terrain in Channel Islands National Park has already taken flak from the National Park Service, congressional Democrats, environmentalists and local governments in coastal California.
Now, disabled veterans have joined in, shooting down the proposal for Santa Rosa Island that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has said he crafted for their benefit.
Congressman wants island open to hunting
"This is a wonderful opportunity for paralyzed veterans and severely disabled veterans to have an opportunity for a high-quality outdoor experience," said Hunter, who chairs the Armed Services Committee.
The plan has drawn vehement protests from the Park Service and Democratic lawmakers, who said hunting blocks public access and interferes with indigenous plants and animals.
"What we need to be focusing on are the purposes for which national parks were set aside, and hunting is not one of those purposes," said Russell Galipeau, superintendent of Channel Islands National Park.
"Duncan Hunter never contacted us," said Will Woolley, a Vail family member who also works as a hunting guide on the island. "It makes me nervous. It's not spelled out what our future would be."
Hunter's legislation contains no details on how the deer and elk would be managed once the 2011 deadline has passed, or how the hunts - which now cost from $1,800 to $17,000 - would be made affordable for veterans.
Hunter contends it would not be difficult for the government to run free hunts at no cost to taxpayers, something his opponents dispute.
Disabled veterans' group likes island hunting idea
The animals on Santa Rosa Island are massive, prized trophies among hunters who are willing to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $17,000 for a trip there. Warren said disabled hunters could hunt from blinds or cars, which is legal in California with a special permit.
But the National Park Service said keeping hunting on the island greatly limits public access, negatively affects endangered species such as the island fox and compromises the integrity of archaeological sites there.
"There are military bases that provide hunting opportunities for veterans," said Kate Faulkner, chief of natural resources management for Channel Islands National Park. "There is no value added I see in going to Santa Rosa Island."
Hunter, R-Alpine, was successful in his third try at introducing legislation that would continue hunting on the island past 2011. He attached an amendment to a defense authorization bill, which passed the House and is now in the Senate. But California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein introduced successful legislation that would counter Hunter's bill. The two bills will be reconciled in committee.
Park Service officials were hoping to use Friday's tour as an opportunity to show the PVA the value in returning Santa Rosa Island to a natural state, she said.
"This is the chance for the Park Service to explain the purpose of the national park and show the beauty of Santa Rosa Island ... and why deer and elk are not part of the long-term goals," she said.
Warren dismissed claims that leaving the game on the island could affect the endangered species.
"Things happen; we lose animals all the time," he said. "We can't save every animal out there. It just happens."
Hunter has never been on Santa Rosa Island
Now Duncan Hunter has never been on Santa Rosa Island, that part of the Channel Islands National Park system where Roosevelt elk and mule deer make for some great trophy hunting.
Yet for the third time in less than a year, the Alpine Republican is trying to void a court settlement that would end hunting on the island by 2011.
His most recent effort appears to have been pretty successful. This month, Hunter convinced the House Armed Services Committee – his Armed Services Committee – to pass a plan that would allow the hunting to continue indefinitely for disabled vets and other military types.
could this be an effort to set up a fraud?
While House members bicker, families feel 'caught in middle'
Hunter says he began to think about Santa Rosa Island while driving on the coast with a carload of Iraq veterans. One pointed to Santa Rosa and mentioned that elk and deer hunting out there was slated to end.
"It is a little, protected group of animals there. This is not any big deal in terms of stopping anybody from using that huge island," Hunter said on the House floor in mid-May, as he argued for his provision to keep the herds available for hunting. He said his provision mainly saves them from extermination. And, "it would be nice to have a small herd there where veterans, disabled, paralyzed and others, could enjoy that resource."
Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, who succeeded her deceased husband, Rep. Walter Capps, in 1998, represents a district including parts of Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. A former nurse and health advocate, she's made education, health and environment issues themes of her tenure.
It's highly unusual for a congressman to push a measure in another representative's district, as Hunter is doing to Capps with his defense bill provision. As it arose for the third time in as many years, Capps took issue in that same Congressional floor session.
"This bill kicks the public off the island, which the public bought for $30 million in 1986," Capps said.
"This ridiculous provision has no place in a defense bill. There have been no hearings, the Pentagon hasn't requested it, and the park service strongly opposes it," said Capps. She says veterans are able to hunt at many mainland bases, such as Hunter-Liggett.
- The elk and deer are not native species. The park service wants them removed by 2011 to restore the island's natural balance.
- It costs up to $20,000 per person for a hunting trip to the island. Corporations and contractors will donate the money.
- In the SOCOM case in Florida family members of Government employees were hired by the rec-center and paid high wages to do token jobs.
- Mr. Hunter has a history of paying family members excessive salaries out of campaign funds.
Smears and slander
Outrageous audio of Hunter justifying the war, smearing liberals
here is an interview with Mr. Duncan Hunter from These Days with Tom Fudge, KPBS:
Mr. Hunter is very good (or bad depending on your frame of view) at framing the issues, he sounds just like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly.
- 5:50 - the cold war and the ‘success’ in Central America. What about Venezuela?
- 6:20 - Pershing missiles. Yeah that made us a lot of friends.
- 6:25 - smear: “Liberals like everything about the struggle for freedom except the struggle.”
- 7:00 - “Why did we fight this war?” “ Because of a picture I have in the front door of my desk of Kurdish mothers holding their children dead in their arms, killed in mid stride by poison gas.. The History Channel anthropologists show how the mother would have a .45 pistol bullet in the back of her head and the little baby that she was holding would also have a .45 pistol bullet in the back of his head. they executed mothers and children gangland style by the hundreds and thousands.” fear mongering and obscuration , was it gas or a bullet?
- 8:28 - the classic: Al, Hillary and Bill did it.
- 9:00 - Rumsfeld sold Saddam 8,500 liters of nerve gas and it’s still missing, could be any where.
- 11:10 - lie: “They did welcome us with open arms and they pulled down a statue.”
- 12:30 - flip flop: “US is the occupier” I though we were the liberators. “Nothing is guaranteed.” then why did we do this? are we safer or aren’t we?
- 13:30 - Does this sound fishy to you? “cost of defense is 4-5% of GDP, less than during Reagan or Kennedy.”
Children Pick Their Christmas Toys
Inter Press Service Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily
FALLUJAH, Dec 25 (IPS) - Ahmed Ghazi has little reason to stock Christmas toys at his shop in Fallujah. He knows what children want these days.
"It is best for us to import toys such as guns and tanks because they are most saleable in Iraq to little boys," Ghazi told IPS. "Children try to imitate what they see out of their windows."
And there are particular imports for girls, too, he said. "Girls prefer crying dolls to others that dance or play music and songs."
As children in the United States and around the world celebrate Christmas, and prepare to celebrate the New Year, children in Iraq occupy a quite different world, with toys to match.
Social researcher Nuha Khalil from the Iraqi Institute for Childhood Development in Baghdad told IPS that young girls are now expressing their repressed sadness often by playing the role of a mother who takes care of her small daughter.
"Looking around, they only see gatherings of mourning ladies who lost their beloved ones," said Khalil. "Our job of comforting these little girls and remedying the damage within them is next to impossible."
Hundreds of thousands of children have faced trauma of some sort. And for others, the lack of a normal life is trauma enough.
Just a lack of entertainment is developing into a serious problem. There are only 10 cinemas in Baghdad, and two dilapidated public parks. These are no longer safe for children.
Children do not go out much to play, and they are not sure of home any more. The United Nations estimates that more than 100,000 Iraqis are fleeing the country every month. The number of Iraqis living in other Arab countries is now more than 1.8 million. There are in addition more than 1.6 million internally displaced people within Iraq.
The group Refugees International says that the increasing number of people fleeing Iraq means that this refugee crisis might soon overtake that in Darfur. And children suffer most from leaving, and they suffer most where they go.
"Homeless children are inclined to be rough, and isolated from their new neighbourhood and new school colleagues," Hayam al-Ukaili, a primary school headmistress in Fallujah told IPS. "They do not mix in with their new atmosphere as they should. It is as if they feel it is imposed upon them, and they simply reject it."
Teachers and social workers say children have begun to nurse a strong hatred of the United States. No more is the United States the image of a good life.
"Children have lost hope in the United States and the Iraqi government after the situation has only worsened every day," Abdul Wahid Nathum, researcher for an Iraqi NGO which assists children told IPS in Baghdad (he did not want the organisation to be named).
"Their understanding of the ongoing events is incredible," he said. "It is probably because the elder members of the family keep talking politics and watching news. Talking to a 12-year-old child, one would be surprised by the huge amount of news inside his head, which is not right."
"Children are the most affected by the tragic events," Dr. Khalil al-Kubaissi, a psychotherapist in Fallujah told IPS. "Their fragile personalities cannot face the loss of a parent or the family house along with all the horror that surrounds them. The result is catastrophic, and Iraqi children are in serious danger of lapsing into loneliness or violence."
The difficulties of children have become particularly noticeable this year. "The only things they have on their minds are guns, bullets, death and a fear of the U.S. occupation," Maruan Abdullah, spokesman for the Association of Psychologists of Iraq told reporters at the launch of a study in February this year.
The report warned that "children in Iraq are seriously suffering psychologically with all the insecurity, especially with the fear of kidnapping and explosions."
The API surveyed more than 1,000 children throughout Iraq over a four-month period and found that "92 percent of the children examined were found to have learning impediments, largely attributable to the current climate of fear and insecurity."
With nearly half of Iraq's population under 18 years of age, the devastating impact of the violent and chaotic occupation is that much greater. Three wars since 1980, a refugee crisis of staggering proportions, loss of family members, suicide attacks, car bombs and the constant threat of home raids by occupation soldiers or death squads have meant that young Iraqis are shattered physically and mentally.
As early as April 2003, the United Nations Children's Fund had estimated that half a million Iraqi children had been traumatized by the U.S.-led invasion. The situation has degenerated drastically since then.
A report issued by Iraq's Ministry of Education earlier this year found that 64 children had been killed and 57 wounded in 417 attacks on schools within just a four-month period. In all 47 children were kidnapped on their way to or from school over the period.
Neo-con Crybaby Quitters
Student body president at Miramar College quits
December 07, 2006 The Miramar College student body president has resigned after less than six months in office, citing concerns with the college administration and what he sees as a lack of political balance on the 12,000-student campus.
Bryan Hughs, 29, said he has been bothered for years by what he described as liberal professors at Miramar who teach that U.S. foreign policy is to be blamed for 9/11 and that communism is a “great idea.”
Miramar College President Patricia Hsieh said Hughs' complaint is the first she has heard of liberal bias among Miramar professors.
Hughs, who considers himself a Reaganite and supporter of the Iraq war, said his decision to resign was triggered by the administration's rejection of his proposal to survey the faculty's political beliefs. Hughs then tried to organize a campus event for liberal and conservative faculty members to discuss political issues.
Setting up that event led to an e-mail exchange, in which Hughs said he received messages he considered offensive.
Hughs said he was having difficulty finding conservatives for his panel, and one e-mail said: “Most people who work for the district are intelligent. That is why you cannot find many conservatives to be on your panel.”
Shortly after the e-mail exchange, Hughs said he decided to resign, which he did Sunday. Hughs said he had been told by the dean of student affairs that a majority of his student council wanted to impeach him because of his ideology, and the administration would follow the council's recommendation.
Student council member Lara Wiedenman said Hughs' comments were inaccurate, but she would not elaborate because she said campus officials asked students not to talk to reporters about the matter.
Miramar's dean of student affairs did not return repeated phone calls.
DUKE Hunter needs to mentor this guy about struggling. ed
Outrageous video of Hunter justifying torture
Congressman asks President Bush to help save San Diego cross
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee asked President Bush to help save a 29-foot cross standing on San Diego city property from being removed by court order.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, joined Thursday by Mayor Jerry Sanders, asked the president to exercise his power of eminent domain and take over the half-acre cross site atop Mount Soledad.
Hunter, who has backed legislation to protect the cross, sent a letter to the White House requesting "urgent assistance" to keep it intact.
"The federal government has lots of memorials with crosses on it," he said. "According to the court decisions, you'd have to dismantle Arlington (National) Cemetery."
- There are very few crosses visible at Arlington National Cemetery, the grave markers are not cross shaped. Each marker has a small religious symbol on it. There are several crosses, up to ten feet high, as part of displays. On Mt. Soledad the cross is 29 feet tall and is the central symbol; untill recently the cross was the only religious symbol on Mt. Soledad.
read Hunters letter. Mr. Hunter again attacks liberals, blaming "liberal judges".
Supporters of the cross hope to transfer the legal responsibility of defending the cross to the US taxpayer.
Supreme Court Gives Cross in San Diego a Reprieve
04 July, 2006 A long-running legal battle over a 29-foot-tall cross atop one of the highest hills in San Diego took a new twist on Monday when the United States Supreme Court issued a stay temporarily blocking a lower court order forcing the city to remove it.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, without comment, issued the stay pending a further order from the court. The action blocked a ruling by a district court that would have imposed daily fines of $5,000 beginning on Aug. 1 if the city had not taken down the cross.
The stay gave a flicker of hope to supporters of the 20-ton white cross who have been on the losing side of most federal and state court rulings since an atheist, Philip K. Paulson, sued in 1989. Mr. Paulson argued that the cross, in a city property park in the La Jolla district, was an unconstitutional preference of one religion over another.
Mr. Paulson's lawyer, James E. McElroy, said it was not unusual for a justice to issue such an order and called it more a technicality than any reading of the merits.
"All it says," Mr. McElroy said, "is 'Hold on, I'll get back to you with my decision.' "
The first cross was built on the spot in 1913 and figured prominently in Easter sunrise services. The latest was built in 1954 to replace one that had fallen in a windstorm. It was dedicated on Easter Sunday that year as a Korean War veterans' memorial.
After Mr. Paulson sued, the group that built and maintains the cross surrounded it with commemorations of the war dead, including concentric walls with plaques. Mr. Paulson argued that the additions served just to camouflage the true purpose of the cross, to promote Christianity.
Defenders of the cross and city lawyers argue that the cross, with or without the memorial plaques, was intended as a tribute to war dead.
Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial
- Honorary Brick Paver: $100
Individual Recognition Plaque, Honors a veteran on one of three plaque sizes distinctly designed for each veteran.
- Name and photo of veteran
- Rank or rating and branch of service
- War or campaign, such as WWII, Vietnam, Southwest Asia
- Medals and ribbons
- Key tribute to veteran - service statement up to 25 words that 'tells the story' of military service
- Family appreciation statement up to six words
- Military patches and one non-military symbol, such as a religious symbol, veterans' or other organization
$600 to $1,500
Hunter: No need for armed services oversight panel
November 22, 2006 Outgoing House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said he sees no need to revive an oversight and investigations subcommittee to question current and proposed Pentagon policies.
But he also won’t try to block the move when Democrats take over the committee in January.
Hunter, who must step down as chairman when Democrats assume control of the House of Representatives, said he had four investigators on the committee staff, all concentrating on force-protection issues, and was quick to order existing subcommittees or the full committee to hold hearings when major controversies arose.
Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, the Democrat expected to be selected next week as the new committee chairman, plans to re-establish the oversight and investigations subcommittee that existed before Republicans took control of the House in 1994. The subcommittee would serve as a platform for staff investigations and hearings that would look at defense policies and spending, Skelton said.
Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass, has expressed interest in chairing the oversight subcommittee.
Hunter predicted that having an oversight subcommittee would not lead to “a lot more oversight hearings.”
“We held hearings on big issues before the full committee,” he said.
From Sept. 11, 2001, through June of this year, the committee held 93 hearings or briefings on issues related to the global war on terrorism, Hunter said.
“We gathered more information than people could read,” he said. “It doesn’t serve any purpose to bring witnesses long distances to have hearings on major subjects attended by only five or six people.”
Republicans did away with the oversight subcommittee as part of a larger effort to cut the size of the congressional work force, Hunter said.
“But that was my structure, and if Democrats want to do it differently, that’s fine,” he said.
Hunter does not believe the switch to Democratic control will result in significant changes in defense policy or the defense budget.
“This is the most bipartisan committee on Capitol Hill,” he said of the House Armed Services Committee. “Defense is such a bipartisan issue … you have so many opportunities to just work for the good of the country.”
Mr. Hunter is a corporate shill who lined the pockets of military contractors while US soldiers died lacking body amour that could have been provided. Where does he get his information from? ed
Hunter pushes for beefed up missile defense systems
October 13, 2006 U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter is calling for President Bush to beef up the nation's missile defense system in the wake of North Korea's reported subterranean testing of a nuclear weapon Monday.
Late Monday, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter to the president in which he called for improvement to U.S. missile defenses and for increasing America's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities and efforts in North Korea and other parts of Northeast Asia.
Hunter asked for a speeding up of plans for deploying Aegis ballistic radar and missile systems on ships off the coast of North Korea, as well as the deployment of land-based ground-to-air Patriot missiles on the Korean Peninsula. Both missiles are designed to intercept enemy missiles that are in flight.
"The United States must take immediate steps to develop and deploy systems that are capable of addressing the full range of North Korean missile-based threats to the United States, our deployed forces, and our allies," Hunter wrote in his letter to Bush.
On Tuesday, Hunter, R-El Cajon, also went on national television news channels hosted by three anchors ---- Fox News' Neil Cavuto, CNN's Lou Dobbs and CNN's Paula Zahn ---- to bring his case to the American people for strengthening the nation's missile defenses.
The Aegis system is a sophisticated radar system that tracks an incoming missile and guides an intercept missile to destroy it. The manufacturer of the Standard SM-3 missile that is used in conjunction with the Aegis system is Raytheon Co., which also manufactures the Patriot missile. Lockheed Martin manufactures the Aegis system. Both companies have offices in San Diego.
According to the Web site www.opensecrets.org, Hunter has received major campaign contributions from both companies over the years in past campaigns, but "that is just life," he said. As the head of the House Armed Services Committee he receives donations from lots of defense contractors and there is nothing improper about that, he said, noting that he also has killed projects by defense contractors who have been major contributors to his campaigns.
There's a new cold war
There are fears the military could be used to challenge the U.S. or India in an effort to hoist impoverished segments of the Country. Today, China holds nearly $200-billion in U.S. debt and Duncan Hunter believes those IOU's are China's Ace.
Hunter: China is becoming a military power. They are doing it largely with American dollars which I think is one of the tragedies of this era. And that we are sending hard cash to China that it is using to purhase a military capability that may one day be used against our own armed forces.
Hunter says that San Diego and the Pacific Theater will see an increase in military operations.
Hunter: Forward deploying Naval assets and projecting power will be required for the next five, ten, fifteen, years.
Hunter's first reaction is military force. His campaign is funded by defense contractors. Hunter makes the US weaker because we don't have a diplomatic response to any threat.
North Korea calls for negotiation on missile issue
As North Korea continues to delay the test launch of a technologically improved version of its Taepodong 2 missile, Pyongyang suggested the missile crisis should be solved through negotiations. In response to the test preparations, many hard-liners in Washington maintained the need for an improved missile defense system while at the same time calling on the government to strengthen diplomatic pressure against the North.
Several U.S. politicians, such as Rep. Duncan Hunter (Republican-California), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee of Congress, stressed that Pyongyang’s actions underscored the need for the U.S. military to improve its missile defense system. Senate majority leader Bill Frist (Republican-Tennessee) in an appearance on the CBS television network said that the test-firing would be justification for U.S. military action.
why wouldn't it stress the need for improving US diplomatic efforts?
Congress restricts military chaplains' sectarian prayers
Nondenominational events off-limits; but guidelines on proselytizing scrapped
Washington -- Congress removed a controversial provision in a military bill on Friday that would have permitted chaplains to offer sectarian prayer at mandatory nondenominational events.
At the same time, lawmakers moved to rescind guidelines issued last year by the Air Force and Navy meant to curtail the risk of religious coercion and proselytizing within the ranks.
For several weeks, wrangling over the chaplain prayer provision had stalled the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that sets military spending levels.
The House version of the bill introduced language that would have allowed for sectarian prayer, but the Senate version had no such provision.
Chaplains can pray according to the traditions of their faith at worship services, where attendance is voluntary. But they are also called upon to offer prayers at mandatory functions, like changes of command, banquets and speeches.
The provision's backers -- among them Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine (San Diego County), and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee -- contended that Christian chaplains had long invoked Christ in nondenominational settings.
The provision was championed by some evangelical chaplains and Christian groups, like Focus on the Family.
But it was opposed by the Pentagon, the National Association of Evangelicals and a dozen or so ecumenical groups.
They argued that at mandatory events the long-standing custom had been to offer a nonsectarian prayer, for example, mentioning God rather than Christ. Those groups maintained that offering sectarian prayer would create division within the military.
Preborn Human Person Right to Life Act
H.R.552 Title: To implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person. Sponsor: Rep Hunter, Duncan [CA-52] (introduced 2/2/2005) Cosponsors (99)
Right to Life Act - Declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being. Defines "human being" (and "human person") to encompass all stages of life, including but not limited to the moment of fertilization or cloning.
To implement equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Right to Life Act'.
SEC. 2. RIGHT TO LIFE.
To implement equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person, and pursuant to the duty and authority of the Congress, including Congress' power under article I, section 8, to make necessary and proper laws, and Congress' power under section 5 of the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Congress hereby declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
For purposes of this Act:
(1) HUMAN PERSON; HUMAN BEING- The terms `human person' and `human being' include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including, but not limited to, the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.
(2) STATE- The term `State' used in the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States and other applicable provisions of the Constitution includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and each other territory or possession of the United States.
Duncan DUKE Hunter: Dirty Campaigner
Hunter's campaign has raised more than $666,000, as of the latest campaign filings, reported March 31.
5 Democrats in primary in Hunter's GOP-heavy district
4 actively campaigning to beat 13-term lawmaker
May 5, 2006 In a district that rarely draws more than one Democratic candidate, five Democrats are on the ballot for the chance to oust Rep. Duncan Hunter from the congressional seat that the Alpine Republican has held for 26 years.
The challengers say they believe Hunter is more vulnerable this year because of his ties to disgraced former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham, and his allegiance to President Bush, whose approval ratings have plummeted. Still, whoever is elected in June to run against Hunter in November will face a difficult challenge. Voter registration in the 52nd Congressional District, which covers much of East County and northeastern San Diego County, is heavily Republican.
Gary Jacobson, a political science professor at UCSD, said he sees little chance of Hunter losing.
52nd District race Five Democrats and one Libertarian are on the ballot to run against Rep. Duncan Hunter in November in the heavily Republican district.
Registered voters in the district: 334,106
Democrats: 30 percent
Republicans: 46 percent
“He has a big cushion” of Republican voters, Jacobson said. “It's hard to imagine any tsunami large enough to get to him.”
Hunter is running unopposed in his party's primary, as is Libertarian Michael Benoit.
Hunter, 57, is paid $165,200 a year as a representative and must run for re-election every two years. Although he has won his recent elections with more than two-thirds of the vote, he said he never assumes he'll win.
“There's no easy or safe, secure election,” he said. “I always go 100 percent regardless of what year it is.”
Hunter's campaign has raised more than $666,000, as of the latest campaign filings, reported March 31. Casady reported raising $9,018, while Rinaldi has raised $12,850. The other candidates did not report any contributions.
There is no flag big enough to cover the shame that Duncan DUKE Hunter has brought to the district and to the country.
COMMITTEE TO RE-ELECT CONGRESSMAN DUNCAN HUNTER
So who is:
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PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH PAC
stub, please fill in info.
Duncan Lee Hunter (born May 31, 1948), American politician, has been a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives since 1981 of California (map) in northern and eastern San Diego County. He is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
Hunter was born in Riverside, California. He briefly attended the University of Montana and the University of California, Santa Barbara before enlisting in the United States Army. He served in the Vietnam War in the 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 75th Army Rangers. After returning, he enrolled at Western State University College of Law and earned a BSL and JD in 1976, thereafter working as a plaintiff's attorney.
In 1980 he was recruited to run for Congress and defeated the 18-year incumbent Democrat, Lionel Van Deerlin. He was one of many Republicans swept into office from historically Democratic districts as a result of Reagan's coattails—Van Deerlin had been the only representative the district had ever had since its creation in 1963. Representing a district dominated by military bases and personnel, he sought and was granted a seat on the Armed Services Committee. After the 1980 census, many of the more Democratic areas were cut out of Hunter's district, and he hasn't faced serious opposition since. He became chairman of the Armed Services Committee in 2002.
In November 2004, Hunter and Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner blocked the bill that would have created a National Intelligence Director (NID). Creating a NID was a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. Hunter argued that the military is the biggest consumer of intelligence and any reforms enacted must not endanger the lives of troops on the battlefield. He worked with the Administration to ensure resources needed by the military would not be hindered.
Duncan Hunter plans to introduce legislation to the Senate on Thursday, November 3, 2005 calling for the construction of a reinforced fence along the entire United States–Mexican border. This will also include a border zone on the American side of 100 metres.
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.
The bill was condemned as a stunt by Democrats and defeated, 403-3 in the House of Representatives.
A Vietnam veteran, he served in the 173rd Airborne and 75th Army Rangers. Hunter utilized the G.I. Bill to attend Western State University Law School in San Diego and, while completing his degree, he supplemented his income by working in farming and construction. After graduating, the new attorney opened a storefront legal office where he served many in the Hispanic community, often without compensation. In 1980, he was asked to mount a challenge for the Congressional seat held by an 18-year incumbent, Lionel Van Deerlin. Despite the district having a 2-to-1 Democrat registration, Hunter won the seat in an upset.