many capitals are near the ocean, and then why
America is a maritime nation. Why do people say that
and what’s the logic of that? And then what does the
Navy provide us in terms of security in standoff dis-
tance and a series of other kinds of things? …
That’s the first one in terms of committee priorities.
I want to get the team up to speed, get them operating
on the big thing. Second of all, I want to encourage
each individual to take on individual projects within
the subcommittee that they want, basically that they
can run with. I want them to feel empowered, and that
I and the ranking Democrat [Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.]
and our staffs will be resources, that if they’re wise they
use us to help advance things that they’re concerned
with. That’s the big picture.
Could you elaborate on “the tyranny of the
AKIN: The tyranny of the urgent really comes in sort of a
global urgent and a specific urgent. The global urgent is,
this morning, to some degree, I declared war on the
Pentagon for the fact that they completely cut us out of the
process of being involved in what’s going on in these military decisions. The U.S. Constitution doesn’t do that.
The U.S. Constitution recognizes that actual security
is both a civilian and a military priority, and that our
committee is important in the process of cross-checking
and making sure we’re spending our money wisely and
that we’re not getting things out of balance. Instead of
soliciting our aid, particularly with budget problems,
they instead carbon copy us when they send a press
release to the media after they’ve already decided what
they’re going to do. I spoke to that issue in committee
I think that’s shortsighted. It’s politically foolish and
I think, knowing something of the history of the military, it also is not in the best interest of our country. I
appreciate people who are decisive. I appreciate Secretary Gates wanting to make decisions, but that needs
to be a collaborative process.
For example, in December of last year, the Navy
came to us and said, “We think, after restructuring the
competition on the Littoral Combat Ships, that we see
an opportunity to save some money and to get more
ships for the Navy.” Well, we’re all ears.
They said, “It’s going to require you to act quickly, but
we believe we can buy ships from both contractors. …
We can get our ships faster. Both ships appear to be sat-
isfactory and both appear to be about the same price.”
So we took a look at it and, the best we could tell, not
having all the data, made a decision, passed legislation
and accommodated the Navy in that regard. I would’ve
thought that, after extending the olive branch, that
maybe we would have some consideration. If they’re
thinking about canceling various programs, at least give
us a heads up, “We’re looking at this.” But, no, it’s a carbon copy. Their process of ignoring the authorizing committee is of concern. That’s the sort of global urgent.
The specific [urgent] is the cancellation of the EFV. I
spent an hour and a half with Gen. [James F.] Amos
[commandant of the Marine Corps], and he explained
what his plan was, what he thought he was going to do.
The explanation seemed thin, to me. It seemed to contain assumptions that I was not so sure were good
assumptions and I thought it needed further discussion
and investigation. So that will be one of our areas. If we
don’t do that in the main committee, we’ll do that in the
subcommittee. I think it may be of so much importance
because you’re talking about whether or not you’re going
to, basically, decide to get rid of the Marine Corps.