The Pentagon will soon send out its formal request for proposals,
known as RFPs, to contractors for work to begin on the first component
of the U.S. national missile defense.
The proposals will seek contractor bids for building the long-range
radar station at remote Shemya Island at the far western tip of the
Aleutian chain of Alaska.
The contracting process was part of a political battle within the
administration over concerns that beginning work might violate the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, viewed by the president as the
"cornerstone'' of U.S. strategic nuclear policy. It bans nationwide
One official told us the RFPs were ready to go out weeks ago but were
blocked by White House officials concerned about violating the ABM
Treaty. A White House spokesman, however, said there was no effort to
hold back the contracting process.
James Bodner, a senior Pentagon official, told a conference in
Philadelphia last week that Pentagon lawyers determined that work can
begin without violating the treaty and that construction can proceed
without treaty changes until 2002. The old policy: once concrete for the
radar's foundation is poured, ABM treaty changes will be required.
The Pentagon has given racy Rolling Stone magazine its seal of
approval -- at least when it comes to attracting inductees in a tight
A small anti-drug organization in Massachusetts had petitioned
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen to stop advertising for recruits in
the rock-oriented publication. Otto Moulton, president of The Committees
of Correspondence Inc., objected to Rolling Stone's graphic photographs
and risqué approach to sex. He argued that the Army, which spends
$400,000 in Rolling Stone advertising annually, shouldn't covet the kind
of young people who read the publication.
But the Defense Department rejected Mr. Moulton's concerns.
Wrote W.S. Sellman, director of accession policy, "Service
advertising in a periodical does not constitute an endorsement of its
content. Rolling Stone magazine enjoys wide readership by the 18-24
year-old target audience. The service works with magazine editorial
staffs to ensure recruitment advertising does not appear in issues
containing objectionable material.
"If an edition is considered to be in poor taste, the services
normally withdraw their advertisements, but they may elect to
selectively advertise in future issues. While containing subject matter
that some may find offensive, Rolling Stone also represents an
opportunity to project a positive message of patriotism and service to
the nation through armed forces advertising.''
The Food and Drug Administration will decide not to approve the last
available batch of Anthrax vaccine, we are told.
The Pentagon on Monday will run out of the anthrax vaccine, Bernard
Rostker, the nominee for undersecretary of defense for readiness, told
senators this week.
The Defense Department program to inoculate 2.4 million members of
services will grind to a halt because the FDA last weekend rejected
three of the last four remaining batches of the antidote for the
biological weapon that kills 99 out of 100 people exposed to the
weaponized spores. The FDA will disapprove the fourth batch too, we
Enough vaccine is left -- about 200,000 doses -- to continue
vaccinations for the service personnel who have already begun to receive
the series of six shots. But no new vaccinations will begin as a result
of the shortage of vaccine.
The Pentagon had been hoping a federal license for the only
manufacturer of the vaccine, Michigan-based BioPort Inc., would be
approved soon. But we are told that such approval is not likely this
Current Pentagon policy calls for all service personnel deployed to
the Middle East or Korea to be vaccinated. The vaccine shortage could
create problems in the near future for the military because there may be
a shortage of vaccinated personnel for troop rotations. "This is
creating a whole pool of people who can't be sent or changed,'' one U.S.
official told us.
China reports missing
Members of Congress are growing angry at the Pentagon's refusal to
provide several reports on China required by law. The Pentagon months
ago completed work on one report about China's growing military power.
The report will incorporate a required report on the military balance --
or imbalance, as the case is today -- across the Taiwan Strait.
Where is it? The report, we are told, has been parked in the office
of Defense Secretary William S. Cohen. So far, he has refused to send it
to Capitol Hill. It appears the report violates the central tenet of
Clinton administration policy toward China: Do nothing, say nothing and
write nothing that will portray China as the growing military threat it
The testing of armored vehicles for the Army of the future has been
shrouded in unusual secrecy, Pentagon observers tell us.
The Army put 35 of the wheeled and tracked medium assault vehicles
(MAVs) through their paces in January at a "Platform Performance
Demonstration'' at Fort Knox, Ky. Six months later, it's nearly
impossible to obtain the official evaluations. The reason: the Army
"I can't tell exactly how the vehicles performed because (a
commander) classified all of the data,'' said a critical Pentagon
official. "None performed up to expectations.''
Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army chief of staff, is driving the
480,000-soldier service to transform itself into a lighter, more mobile
force, able to reach international trouble spots in days, not weeks.
The Army will soon award a contract for a family of MAVs as troop,
mortar and assault gun carriers.
Some observers charge the Army lowered requirements after some
wheeled vehicles performed badly at Fort Knox, the Army's tank
For example, the armored gun system was supposed to be able to shoot
on the run. Now, it doesn't have to.