U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), questioned four Department of Defense nominees during their nomination hearing. The four nominees included Mr. Shon J. Manasco to be Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Mr. Robert H. McMahon to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness, Mr. R.D. James to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and Dr. Bruce D. Jette to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, And Technology.
Inhofe: “Mr. Manasco… Did you think 30 years ago when I made your nomination to West Point, that you would be sitting before this committee in a confirmation hearing to be Assistant Secretary of the Air Force?
McCain: And would you have accepted?
Manasco replied: Sir, the answer to your question, is no. And I think, as I’ve reflected on it, it’s the strength of this great country and stories such as mine and so many others. For people who work hard, do the right things and are committed to serving others that they can be afforded just amazing opportunities and I feel fortunate to be here today and I really stand on the shoulders of all of those men and women that I’ve worked with over the course of my career.
Inhofe: That’s a great statement. It’s very meaningful to me, personally. Senator McCain was talking about the dilemma we’re in, in terms of our pilots. Of those 1500, actually 1300 are combat fighter pilots. It’s a serious thing and I think those of us form that discipline agree with Senator McCain. You know, it actually costs—if you take someone off the streets—and qualify them to the level of Inept-22, it costs some $16 million. Now, when you think about that, the whole idea of bonuses is—really—overstated in terms and I agree with that. But, I understand that, recently, the Air force reserve component has an alternative to active service. Now this thing is called the Total Force Air Crew Management—Assignment Augmentation Process. Are you familiar with this?
Manasco replied: Senator, I don’t know that I am familiar with that, but it is a very long acronym.
Inhofe replied: Yes and I would be shocked if you were. However, they are out there doing these. They’ve increased their position three-fold. And it’s something—it is a new idea. And we’ve been talking about this problem we have with pilots and I would like to invite you to study that. Talk to some of the reserve components, exactly how it works. And it might offer people in their careers to have the best of both. Would you do that?
Manasco replied: Yes sir. I commit, if I’m confirmed, to do just that.
Inhofe replied: Good. Mr. James, one of the best kept secrets, when you talk about navigation ways, is that, we in Oklahoma are navigable. Nobody knows that, but we have the most inland waterway…The Port of Catoosa is real. Have you ever been to the Port of Catoosa?
James replied: Yes sir, not only have I been to the Port of Catoosa, I judged the Port of Catoosa to be the most impressive inland port I’ve witnessed so far…
Inhofe replied: Yes, well you and I had that discussion and I knew that would be your answer.
Inhofe replied: Mr. McMahon, I know that one of the problems that you’re going to be dealing with is one that is a critical problem and that is the civilian work force. In fact, we had a meeting not too long ago with General Levy of the Tinker Air Force Base and, as you know, we have two—of this type—we have that along with the Army Depo in McAlester, Oklahoma. We had a meeting with him, General Levy, and some principles of Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University. He said—he made the statement—he said ‘we would hire every graduate engineer that you could put on the street.’ So that is one area—are you aware of some of the problems we are having in the various, not just in our depos, but throughout the system and do you consider this a problem that you are going to be able to address?”
McMahon replied: Senator, we have a problem in our nation with those coming out with the experience in science, technology, engineering and math. It’s a problem exasperated in our depos because of the focus from being a touch-labor type environment to things such as software. So, yes sir, I am aware of it, and if confirmed it is something I would work with the services in our personnel offices to ensure that we are trying to be able to acquire the amount of engineering support that we would need.
Inhofe replied: That’s good, I knew that you would feel that way, but it takes somebody in that position who really understands the problem to address it…
Sen. Inhofe also questioned the other nominees about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and military readiness.