- The Washington Times - Friday, April 14, 2000

No UAE sanctions

The Clinton administration is set to announce its final approval of the sale of 80 F-16 warplanes to the United Arab Emirates. The deal for the Lockheed Martin jets is worth about $6.5 billion.
Administration officials say the reason for the delay was the need for a secret U.S. government waiver. The State Department recently granted a special waiver of U.S. sanctions legislation. The law requires economic penalties against the UAE over its 1989 purchase of Scud B missiles from North Korea.
The law requires sanctions for violations of the 29-nation Missile Technology Control Regime. It limits exports of missiles with ranges greater than 186 miles and capable of carrying 2,200-pound warheads. That would cover the Scud B.
Abu Dhabi bought 25 Scud Bs from Pyongyang but claimed the systems were never deployed and remained in storage because of their poor quality. North Korea missile expert Joseph Bermudez said the missile purchase may have been a covert U.S. intelligence operation to secretly acquire and study widely used North Korean missiles. If so, the waiver allowing the F-16 sale was an easy call for not penalizing UAE, officials said.
The F-16 sale was raised in private meetings in Abu Dhabi last week during the visit of Defense Secretary William S. Cohen. The secretary met with Sheik Zayed, Crown Prince Sheik Khalifa, the UAE Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed, and Defense Minister Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid.

Stars aligned

The buzz in the Pentagon is that the stars are aligning just right for Gen. James Jones to be the first Marine chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The scenario is speculative, but plausible, sources say, as they observe the musical-chair appointments of four-star generals. The term of Gen. Henry H. Shelton, the current chairman, ends next summer.
First, it is doubtful the post will go to an Army general. The service has held the post the past three terms.
Second, the Navy's best candidate, Adm. Vernon Clark, has been tapped by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen as the next chief of naval operations. Observers did not believe Adm. Clark would be pulled from the CNO job after only one year to serve as the nation's highest ranking military officer.
Thirdly, the current Joint Chiefs vice chairman is an Air Force officer, recently installed Gen. Richard Myers. The speculation is the Pentagon would not want to change both the chairman and vice chairman post at the same time by promoting Gen. Myers. And, it is unlikely that both the chairman and vice chairman would be from the same branch.
If this complicated scenario comes true, the nod might just go to Gen. Jones, a skilled military-political figure and a popular figure on Capitol Hill.

Double standard

When Gene. C. McKinney was under investigation for purported sexual misconduct, there did not seem to be any lack of public comment from various Army officials. Mr. McKinney, the Army's former top enlisted solider, was eventually acquitted of all of sexual harassment charges but was convicted at court-martial of obstructing justice.

The Army's willingness to talk back in 1996 has some personnel wondering if the service maintains a public relations double-standard. When an enlisted man is involved, there are press statements. When two generals are involved, say Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy and the man she has accused of sexual harassment, Maj. Gen. Larry G. Smith, the Army PR shop becomes a cone of silence.

Just read this memo from Maj. Gen. John G. Meyer Jr., the Army's top spinmeister.

"The press operating on rumors, has begun to speculate openly about the names of general officers without concern for the damage that rumor-mongering can cause to innocent reputation, families and unit morale," he stated.

Aside from "some irresponsible reporters" spreading "hurtful rumors," Gen. Meyer said some generals too are "speculating and making inappropriate comments."

"Additionally, the inaccuracies and speculation in most stories are alarming; but, because the Army normally does not comment on the existence or non-existence of an inspector general investigation, we can expect this trend to continue," he said in a memo written before The Washington Times had identified the accused general.

Asked about the memo, Gen. Meyer said: "I know a reporter needs to completely search out a story, but in this particular case, this was the most egregious witch hunt that I have experienced in over three years as chief of Army public affairs." The two-star general said he "personally confronted" the journalists in question, whom he did not name.

Rumpled Army

Gen. John M. Keane, Army vice chief of staff, has spent nearly every moment of his 33-year career away from Washington. An airborne warrior by trade, he's fought in the Vietnam jungle, taught ROTC recruits and commanded the vaunted 101st Airborne Division.
An imposing man known to care about the average soldier, Gen. Keane's no-nonsense approach has rankled some members of the Pentagon Army staff.
The four-star general sent out a memo last week telling officers they look unkempt and rumpled.
"I am concerned that we are allowing our standards in personal appearance to slip lately," Gen. Keane wrote. "As I walk through the building I notice too many soldiers in need of haircuts, ill fitting and poorly pressed uniforms, shoes in need of shining, and a general lack of attention to detail regarding personal appearance within our ranks.
"Each of us on the Army staff is a leader and each of us is responsible for projecting an image worthy of the finest Army in the world. If you are keeping yourself fit and maintaining a professional appearance, keep up the good work and encourage your peers to follow suit. If you are not meeting standards, it is time to get your act together."

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