Iraq security, Boeing deal could imperil Roche nomination

The continuing security problem in Iraq could add to the mounting troubles surrounding the president's nomination of Air Force Secretary James Roche to fill the Army's top civilian leadership slot, according to defense and congressional officials.

Not only will Roche have to answer questions about his handling of an Air Force plan to lease Boeing 767 airliners for use as aerial refueling tankers and the U.S. Air Force Academy's sexual assault scandal, they said, but the rising cost of the Iraq mission in Army lives and morale is bound to draw the attention of senators concerned with the service's extended commitment there.

"Roche is having a really bad stretch," one Defense Department official told CongressDaily. "Even if he gets past the accountability issues with Boeing and the [Air Force] Academy, he won't get in without a lot of questions about Iraq and the impact it will have on the Army."

The duration of the U.S. commitment in post-conflict Iraq remains unknown, but Pentagon officials said that troops who rotate out of the region after year-long tours there may need to be redeployed to the region to continue reconstruction activities, a likelihood that could decimate the Army of mid-career soldiers who represent the service's next generation of leadership.

"People are going to bail out like crazy," said the official. "And that will be a legitimate issue for the Senate in dealing with Roche's nomination."

Lawmakers already are questioning Roche's handling of disturbing reports of sexual assaults and a lack of discipline and accountability by the command structure at the Air Force Academy. In a Sept. 5 letter to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez, Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner, R-Va., said he expects the Pentagon inspector general to examine Roche's handling of those issues. Warner also raised the possibility of holding Roche's nomination until the Pentagon completes the investigation, which was sought by Warner and Sens. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., earlier this year.

"As chairman of the committee, I now have to make a judgment about whether the committee can go forward, as requested by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and proceed with the advice and consent hearing on Dr. Roche's nomination to be secretary of the Army" at a time when Roche's actions are under review by the executive branch, Warner wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by CongressDaily.

Roche's nomination could be jeopardized further if the Pentagon releases a series of e-mail exchanges and other internal communications between Roche and Boeing Co. executives regarding the Air Force's controversial plan to lease 100 Boeing 767 commercial jets for use as military refueling tankers. The documents were requested by Armed Services member John McCain, R-Ariz., in a Sept. 5 letter to Rumsfeld. As chairman of the Commerce Committee, McCain has already disclosed hundreds of similar communications among senior Boeing personnel that shed new light on the company's relentless lobbying effort to secure the multibillion dollar government lease, and raise questions about the integrity of Air Force acquisition practices associated with the deal.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.