Last week our good friend Philip Coyle paid a visit to Ottawa to appear as a witness for the Commons Standing Committee on National Defence. Here is Philip Coyle’s testimony. Phil is a senior advisor to the Washington DC-based Centre for Defense Information, but his real claim to fame is the fact that he was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (1994-2001). As the chief weapons tester for the Pentagon, he oversaw more than 200 major military acquisition programs.
I first met Phil a little more than a year ago when we invited him to Ottawa from his home in California to lead a workshop on the weaponization of space and missile defence. Phil knows the BMD system first hand, and must be the highest ranking former Pentagon official to come out against the system.
But this time around he was here on the sexy topic of defence procurement, also known as how to buy expensive military hardware without getting a $5000 hammer. In a media interview for an article that appeared that morning in the Ottawa Citizen, Coyle had some thoughts on the C-130J Hercules aircraft made by Lockheed Martin that the government wants to buy:
“The C-130J transport aircraft the Conservative government is buying is still facing ongoing technical problems that could cost taxpayers more money in the future, says the Pentagon’s former director of equipment testing.” said the article in the Ottawa Citizen.
Obviously, the guys from Lockheed Martin and their lobbyists weren’t too pleased. The big defence contractor boys tried to make light of Coyle’s opinion. In fact, a flunky from their outfit spent the day before Coyle’s visit bad-mouthing him to journalists who write about the military.
The smear campaign was aimed at undermining Coyle’s credibility on the plane because Coyle retired in 2001 (despite having spent years dealing with the C130J). Coyle, who has seen these cheap antics from contractors many times in the past, simply pulled out a January 2007 Pentagon report on the C130J from his former office that gave the C130J a big “F” on its report card.
Unfortunately, the RCMP scandal was unfolding that day, so Phil’s revelations about the C130J went largely unreported. Lockheed Martin probably let out a sigh of relief, but this issue is so big, I doubt it will go away.