Webb to SecDef?

Could Sen. Jim Webb (D) be interested in a job as defense secretary?

It’s an interesting discussion, spawned by this Tweet:

TheJadedJD Who else notices the coincidence between Robert Gates’ decision to retire as Sec’y Defense and Jim Webb’s non-commitment to running in 2012?

Webb, a decorated Marine, served as a senior Pentagon official in the late 1980s before becoming Secretary of the Navy in 1987.
He sponsored a post-9/11 GI bill that was widely praised. And he holds a position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
There’s regular chatter that Webb is less than excited about running for another term in 2012.  So a post as SecDef doesn’t seem completely out of the realm of possibility.
Lately, Webb has lobbed criticism — quite loudly — at the Pentagon and, specifically, at Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for a proposed cost-cutting strategy that would close the Joint Forces command in Norfolk and eliminate DoD contracts with thousands of Virginia companies.
Webb, and others, believe that would devastate Virginia’s economy. But his big gripe with the Pentagon has been the process.  Webb believes the decision to close JiFCOM was arbitrary at best. Last month he sent a scathing letter (below) to Gates, seeking answers.
The question I have with the theory of Webb as defense secretary is this: does his sharp criticism of top Pentagon brass hurt him? Or does it make him an appealing candidate for the job?
What say you?
-Webb’s letter to Gates-

October 25, 2010

The Honorable Robert M. Gates

Secretary of Defense

1000 Defense Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Gates:

More than two months have passed since I initiated a very basic request for information through the Congressional Research Service (CRS) regarding current and historical staff levels in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  Five weeks have elapsed since I sent a direct request to the Department of Defense legislative affairs office to obtain a historical comparison of the size of selected major headquarters staffs in the Department of Defense and military departments.

To date, I have only received a superficial interim response to these requests, with no indication when a final reply may be expected.

This failure to respond to a request for basic information that should be readily available is indicative of the lack of cooperation that has characterized the proposal to close the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM).  When Deputy Secretary Lynn testified before the Senate Committee on Armed Services September 28, he said he would obtain answers to my data-oriented questions in a timely manner.  In response to Senator Levin’s request, he also agreed to provide the committee with any analyses completed or presented to DoD relative to JFCOM.  That request also has not been satisfied.

The information I requested is not difficult to accumulate, and it is clearly within the congressional prerogative to ask for it.  Such data is highly relevant to our ability to reach our own conclusions in the fulfillment of our constitutional responsibility to assess a proposal that has significant ramifications not only in Virginia but throughout the country and also overseas.  For this reason, I will place a hold on all Department of Defense civilian and flag/general officer nominations until such time as my request for information is satisfied.


Jim Webb

United States Senator

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One Response to Webb to SecDef?

  1. I am more hopeful that JIM WEBB will be our next PRESIDENT, rather than serving in the Cabinet.

    I have heard rumblings that JIM WEBB will challenge Obama in for the nomination in 2012.

    Regardless of when he runs, JIM WEBB will be a GREAT President!

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