Congress Probing Assertions That Air Force Intimidated Officers
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two Air Force officers testified before a House subcommittee Wednesday that their superiors tried to muzzle them when they recommended spending cuts within the service.
Cols. Sanford Mangold and Edward Dietz told the House Government Operations subcommittee on national security of their efforts to cut Pentagon spending on satellite weapons and warning systems, and of the harsh reaction from their superiors.
Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the subcommittee’s chairman, said, ″Allegations that the Air Force suppressed a critical study and attempted to intimidate (defense) contractors are very serious matters.
″I am troubled that these enormously expensive and technologically questionable programs are going forward despite the end of the Cold War for which they were intended, and despite the reduced need for big-ticket strategic satellite systems,″ Conyers said.
The programs at issue are the Follow-on Early Warning System and the Defense Support Program, which are space-based programs designed to warn of enemy missile launches, and the Milstar satellite program, a system designed to keep military communications going in a protracted nuclear war.
Mangold was team chief for the Air Force’s space systems budget. He said he was ″summarily relieved″ last June after he recommended spending cuts and advocated canceling the Milstar program.
″I was removed from the budget process at precisely the time I was ready to shepherd in the most dramatic cost cuts the space community had ever seen in its history,″ Mangold told the hearing. He termed his experience ″a cancer upon″ the Air Force’s budget process for space programs.
Mangold said higher ranking Air Force officers cut him off and he alleged that his recommendations led to anonymous accusations against him.
Dietz said he urged the Air Force to save $10 billion by canceling the Defense Support Program. He said he was removed from his job and reassigned.
On Tuesday, in what may have been a pre-emptive strike at Conyers’ hearing, Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall said an inquiry by the Air Force inspector general did not substantiate any misconduct or wrongdoing by generals involving the satellite early-warning programs.
The inspector general also reviewed the results of the Air Force inquiry and found it had addressed concerns about such misconduct raised previously by Conyers.