Thursday, October 7, 2004

General pulls plug
on Camp Smith job

Senate questions over
a supply scandal lead
Martin to withdraw

Air Force Gen. Gregory Martin has withdrawn his nomination to be the next commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, replacing Adm. Thomas Fargo, who was set to retire in January.

Martin would have been the first Air Force general to assume the Pacific Command post, which traditionally has been held by a Navy admiral.

Gen. Gregory Martin would have been the first Air Force general to assume the top post at the Pacific Command.

Bryan Whitman, a spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said Rumsfeld agreed to pull the nomination. He said no decision had been made on a new nominee for the command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations throughout the Pacific and portions of the Indian Ocean.

Martin, 56, withdrew his nomination for the post based at Camp Smith in Halawa Heights, after appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Martin's spokesman at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base said that questions raised by Sen. John McCain at yesterday's Senate hearing on the controversy surrounding the Air Force's proposed deal to lease Boeing 767 planes for use as aerial tankers would have prolonged the confirmation process.

Martin has commanded the Air Force Materiel Command in Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio since 2003. The command conducts research, development, test and evaluation and provides acquisition management services and logistics support necessary to keep Air Force weapon systems ready for war.

The Boeing deal led to a scandal involving a former Air Force civilian official who was sentenced to nine months in prison Friday for helping Boeing obtain a lucrative contract in exchange for an executive job at the company.

Col. Jack Ivy, spokesman for the Air Force Materiel Command, said: "Gen. Martin's overall assessment is that getting confirmed for U.S. Pacific Command would be difficult at this time. So in the best interests of U.S. Pacific Command and the Air Force, he requested that his nomination be withdrawn. It was clear from the comments made during the hearing that the tanker e-mail search has expanded, and until all of that has been cleared, the Senate Armed Services Committee is not expected to move forward on his nomination, which could take months."

Martin is not accused of any wrongdoing in either matter.

McCain is in a long-running dispute with the Pentagon and the Air Force over his unfulfilled request for e-mail traffic about the Boeing 767 lease deal. McCain has held up other Pentagon nominations over this issue, including that of Lawrence Di Rita for the job of assistant secretary of defense for public affairs.

McCain said he was upset with the Air Force for resisting his requests for e-mails relevant to the tanker lease discussions with Boeing.

McCain has asserted that the arrangement with Boeing amounted to a sweetheart deal that cost taxpayers billions of dollars more than if the Air Force had purchased aerial tankers instead of trying to lease them.

Darleen Druyun, a former Pentagon and Boeing official, pleaded guilty last spring to conspiracy and admitted that she began job talks with Boeing while she was overseeing negotiations on the tanker deal.

Martin worked closely with Druyun in 1998-99 while he held the position of principal deputy in the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.

"I'm not an expert in contracting," Martin said in response to McCain's comments. "I saw nothing that she was doing that was inappropriate or in any way illegal."

Martin, of Fort Myer, Va., was nominated by President Bush in August, and was expected to assume his new duties by November.

"Adm. Fargo continues to serve at the pleasure of the president and the secretary of defense," said Lt. Col. Jay Steuck, a spokesman for Pacific Command. He declined further comment.

Martin would have been the first four-star general to head the U.S. Pacific Command. Since 1947 the other 21 commanders have been four-star admirals. Army Lt. Gen. Howard Fields served as commander July 11-19, 1994.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye had noted the job -- which is the country's largest military command, encompassing half of the globe with 200 warships, six aircraft carriers and 30,000 soldiers, sailors and Marines -- generally was given to a Navy admiral.

He said he was surprised when he first heard that the Pentagon was considering the nomination of "a non-naval admiral to an area that was traditionally the domain of the Navy."

However, Inouye -- who was not available for comment last night -- told the Star-Bulletin he would not oppose Martin's nomination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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