Entries in Missile Defense (3)


Missile Defense Chief Patrick O’Reilly Facing Possible Discipline

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It’s still unclear whether Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, the outgoing director of the Missile Defense Agency, will be disciplined by the Army following a blistering internal report highly critical of his management style.

A May 2 report from the Defense Department’s inspector general criticized O’Reilly, whose successor was proposed by the White House earlier this week; O'Reilly was cited for routinely yelling and screaming at subordinates in public and private settings.

The inspector general concluded that O’Reilly “demeaned and belittled” his staffers and, “failed to treat subordinates with dignity and respect.”  It said that leadership style, “resulted in the departure of several senior staff members, and caused his senior officials to hesitate to speak up” in meetings.

The report recommended the Army consider “appropriate corrective action” for O’Reilly because his behavior violated Army regulations on ethics and leadership.

Army Secretary John McHugh has reviewed the inspector general’s findings and, after consulting with the Army’s general counsel, referred action to Gen. Lloyd Austin, vice chief of staff for the Army, for “appropriate disposition,” the standard process for actions related to senior general officers, Army spokesman George Wright said.

On Monday, the Pentagon announced Rear Adm. James Syring’s nomination to be the next director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).  The post requires Senate confirmation, so it remains unclear when Syring would take over the agency.

O’Reilly indicated earlier this year that he would retire in November after completing four years in charge of the agency. Prior to Syring being named his successor, speculation centered around whether O’Reilly would be allowed to continue to head the agency until that date in the wake of the inspector general’s negative report.

Many of the 37 witnesses interviewed for the report provided multiple incidents where they said O’Reilly hurled expletives at staffers.

One staffer provided a written record of staff meetings where he was berated by O’Reilly.  In one 2009 meeting, according to the written record, O’Reilly, “proceeded to curse me out and angrily, irrationally tell me how inept I was and that he could ‘f***ing choke me.’”  

The same staffer said that once while on a video conference, O’Reilly became so upset with him he said, "If I could get my hands through the phone right now I’d choke your f***ing throat.”

Witnesses interviewed for the inspector general’s report likened the work atmosphere at MDA to “walking on eggshells” and described  the pressure as “almost palpable,” an environment they said brought morale down throughout the agency.

In a response included in the May report, O’Reilly denied that he had, “yelled or screamed at anyone,” or, “insulted or verbally abused anyone.”  He also denied having used inappropriate language or threatening anyone.  O’Reilly challenged the objectivity of witnesses and said their testimony contained “subjective perceptions” and said that their version of events consisted of “extrapolations of inaccurate perceptions of isolated incidents.”

The agency drew more bad press last week when a memo from a top agency official emerged that cautioned employees from using their secure computers from visiting porn sites on the Internet.  The memo resulted from monitoring of the agency’s computers that showed a handful of MDA’s 8,000 employees had visited unauthorized websites.

Despite the bad press O’Reilly and the agency he still leads continue with the testing and operations of developing the nation’s missile defense system.

Preparations are underway for the agency’s most complex missile test ever as five interceptors will be launched almost simultaneously against five separate targets over the Pacific Ocean. The test will include a mix of sea-based SM-3 missiles as well as land-based THAAD and Patriot missiles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Responds to Open-Mic Incident, Jokes ‘Are The Mics On?’

KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- President Obama offered his explanation Tuesday for the hot-mic moment that caught him asking the Russian president for “flexibility” and “space” on missile defense until after November’s election, saying “this is not a matter of hiding the ball.”

“The only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations,” Obama told reporters following a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan.  “I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good evidence of that.”

Reporters at the Nuclear Security Summit overheard Obama asking Medvedev on Monday to tell incoming President Vladimir Putin “on all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.”

“This is my last election.  After my election I have more flexibility,” he added.

On Tuesday, Obama stressed that his remarks reflect the political climate.

“Arms control is extraordinarily complex, very technical, and the only way it gets done is if you can consult and build a strong understanding, both between countries and within countries,” he said.  “I don’t think it’s any surprise that you can’t start that a few months before presidential and congressional elections in the United States, and at a time when they just completed elections in Russia, and they’re in the process of a presidential transition where a new president’s going to be coming in a little less than two months.”

While his conversation with Medvedev was intended to be private, Obama said it was not “a matter of hiding the ball.”

“I’m on record,” the president said of wanting to reduce nuclear stockpiles.  “I want to see us over time gradually, systematically reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.”

Obama’s comments on Tuesday came after Republicans pounced on the open-mic incident.

“When the president of the United States is speaking with the leader of Russia saying he can be more flexible after the election, that is an alarming and troubling development,” Republican front-runner Mitt Romney said.  “This is no time for our president to be pulling his punches with the American people.  And not telling us what he’s intending to do with regards to our missile defense system, with regards to our military might and with regards to our commitment to Israel and with regard to our absolute conviction that Iran must have a nuclear weapon.”

Obama does seem to have a sense of humor about the incident.  Before responding to a reporter’s question about his comments, the president jokingly asked, “First of all, are the mics on?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White House Dings Romney for Saying Russia Is Top Geopolitical Foe

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday took issue with comments from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stating that Russia was America’s “number one geopolitical foe.”

Carney, a former Moscow-based correspondent for TIME magazine, stated that “in a world where al Qaeda is so clearly the preeminent threat to the United States, and similar organizations, it seems a little inaccurate to make that statement about Russia where Russia is a county that we have been able to cooperate with on very important issues even as we disagree with them on others and that includes missile defense and Syria.”

Romney had been responding to the comments President Obama made on Monday to outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, unaware that a microphone was making the private remarks quite public.

On issues, “particularly missile defense,” Obama told Medvedev that incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin needed to give him “space.”

“This is my last election.  After my election I have more flexibility,” the president said.

Medvedev said he would “transmit the information to Vladimir.”

Appearing on CNN, Romney said Russia “is without question our number one geopolitical foe.  They fight every cause for the world’s worst actors.  The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very very troubling indeed.”

He noted that “Russia continues to support Syria, supports Iran, has fought us with crippling sanctions we wanted to have the world put in place against Iran.  Russia is not a friendly character on the world stage and for this president to be looking for greater flexibility where he doesn’t have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia is very very troubling, very alarming.  This is a president who is telling us one thing and is doing something else.”

Carney said “the relationship that president Obama has established with Russia when he pressed the reset button in 2009 has born a great deal of fruit, including Russia’s cooperation with China at the United Nations in sanctioning Iran, Russia’s cooperation and assistance to the United States on our Afghanistan mission in terms of trans-shipment issues.”

On Tuesday, Obama responded to a question about what he meant by his open microphone comment, saying, “The only way I get this stuff done is if I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations.  I think the stories you guys have been writing over the last 24 hours is pretty good evidence of that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio