Outside The Wire

Odierno lets the fur fly at a House hearing

Things got awfully testy at a House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, as Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) berated Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno and Secretary of the Army John McHugh over an Army program.

It gets good around 3:00, when McHugh and Odierno finally get a chance to respond.

From Marcus Weisgerber at Defense News:

Typically military posture hearings are a chance for lawmakers to grandstand and spout political soundbites that they promote to constituents in their home districts.

Those at the witness table often stick to their script of talking points, rarely deviating from the party line, and often times don’t even get a chance to respond as a member’s time for questioning expires.

But every now and then, tensions boil over and witness goes off script. That’s exactly what happened Thursday.

Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno were at the table defending the service’s 2014 budget proposal during the April 25 House Armed Services Committee hearing. California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, who is a major in the Marine Corps Reserve, was questioning the Army leaders about the service’s Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS).

After criticizing an Army program, Hunter got up to leave the hearing without listening to a response from the witnesses, who took umbrage at the move.

“May we respond? I think I heard a question,” McHugh said.  “Well, I don’t want to respond if the gentleman’s going to leave. Would you care to hear a brief response?”

The back and forth between Odierno and Hunter begins around 3:30 in the video clip above.  The highlight is an exchange where Hunter, to summarize, tells Odierno that as a congressman he has the right to sit at the podium, criticize a program, and not allow the Army’s chief of staff to respond.

HUNTER:

If you don’t let me say anything, we can’t have a conversation.

ODIERNO:

Well, you weren’t gonna let us say anything.

HUNTER:

Well, you — you’re right, but I have that prerogative when I’m sittin’ up here.

ODIERNO:

Well, I have a prerogative too, and that’s to answer a question or an accusation when it’s made.

Happy Friday!

Update: This post was updated to reflect that Hunter was promoted to the rank of Major in the Individual Ready Reserve in 2012.

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Comments

  1. Kathy Carenza Says:
    April 26th, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    As a former Soldier in the Army (Though in my heart still a Soldier), I am appalled at the rudeness of this Army Captain. He brings shame to the entire Army and the entire Military.

    While I was in the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion at Ft Lewis, we went through a problem solving seminar. One of the main things I took from that seminar was to never bring up a problem until you had some viable solutions to share. Cpt Hunter obviously only cared to spout off. He did not show the basic respect, any soldier should have for their Chain of Command!

  2. Ryan Says:
    April 26th, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    This is TYPICAL of ANYONE in the Congress NOT working for US, the American Taxpayer. IF General Odierno gets removed because of this, then Congress & this President can stuff it!!

  3. Hank Hamblin Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Its about time a leader stood up and threw the poo back at these jack-ass politicians who are so quick to berate Army leadership to make themselves look powerful and great to their constituents. Rep. Hunter is a pussy and got a good dose of his own medicine by the Army Chief of Staff, General Ray Odierno.

  4. Hank Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 8:39 am

    “He did not show the basic respect any soldier should have for their Chain of Command!”

    Honestly, viewing this … that’s what I thought about Odierno. He was being extremely rude and disrespectful to a congressman, and the bedrock of our country is civilian control of the military.

  5. Spencer Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Oh Hank, so you’d have preferred if Odierno would have said nothing and just sat there? Given that Hunter was LEAVING the hearing, Odierno did the only thing he could.

    You’re attacking slightly boorish behavior but letting terrible behavior slide which undermines your own point.

  6. Cathy Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    His nameplate says Mr. Wittman or something…

  7. Frank Prautzsch Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Since Congressman Hunter is from California and the software he is pushing from Palantir Technologies is made in Palo Alto….the Chief of Staff actually was more than kind…. There are also some sage classified reasons for DCGS-A that the Gods behind the Rosewood elevated desks need to understand before they throw rocks…..

  8. Sean Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Point 1: The congressman should not bring up a topic at a hearing and not allow the General to respond.

    Point 2: The DCGS system is very flawed! It is about time someone brings up the fact that it is a huge waste of money. I have used the DCGS system since it replaced the ASAS and what started off as a good product with a few flaws turned into a flawed product with a few good things. Most units use the DCGS as a very expensive paperweight because they cannot get them to work properly.

    Point 3: To those of you that don’t see the solution in the congressman’s pointed commentary it is simple, use commercial software that works. Do not re-create the wheel because it is expensive and it takes a long time. If the commercial software works well, but not quite great contact the original developer and get them to modify it for you.

  9. Erin Says:
    April 29th, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Geez guys…typical crap from military and congress type exchange. Ridiculous. I thought Hunter was very articulate in what he was trying to say. The military always overbuilds and thinks it has to have something that is bigger, stronger, more impenetrable than they will need in a lifetime. They have horrible history of overspending, overbuilding, and making things obsolete. Witness the Navy warships that are “retired” every 5 years. Seriously? Perhaps Hunter was sick of the arrogance of the military. I thought Odierno was incredibly rude. And the chairman was pathetically impotent. Lordy, no wonder NOTHING gets done in Washington.

  10. David Says:
    April 30th, 2013 at 9:40 am

    Typical: call the military out about spending too much money, and ask that they consider some OTS system, and they get all huffy and puffy about it.

    I will never get to see a dime of my military retirement, or my grandchildren will be leveraged to their eyeballs, if we keep spending it like this.

    I’m continuing to lose respect for my senior leaders for not being hones about making difficult choices.

  11. Philip Branton Says:
    April 30th, 2013 at 9:41 am

    A classic exchange of information war fare and Psyops countering. When one is a SERVANT civilian to the taxpayers, one is an ELECTED Slave to the taxpayers and one is a VOLUNTEER protector to the taxpayers, it goes without saying that this is the exact type of conversations and tone that should be expected by all concerned taxpayers. Remember Ray Odierno is a facilitator of FACTS and that a politician is a facilitator of “decorating” information to look good on a campaign flyer. When anyone who is trained in the “arts” of information war fare sits back and thinks….what “deception” is being portrayed in the video clip to the benefit of who..?? General Ray Odierno does not serve this politician…he serves and protects the taxpayers who elect these politicians….!! If these politicians are going to deceive the taxpayers on C-SPAN about a 30 day old e-mail that is or is not “old” news, then this General should stand up for the taxpayers. I really liked the old geezer with the gavel….reminded me of the two old men from the Muppets.!!

  12. Kurt Says:
    April 30th, 2013 at 10:18 am

    You have two big differences in thought and reasoning one being USMC vs. USA and two being old school General vs. the young OIF OEF vet. This also shows the huge disconnect the brass has from the troops.

  13. – McHugh: Rep. was “not correct” in Odierno kerfuffle Says:
    April 30th, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    [...] Odierno lets the fur fly at a House hearing [...]

  14. Tyler Says:
    May 2nd, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    @ Erin: Really? You think that nothing gets done in Washington because of guys like GEN Odierno and Secretary McHugh?? That’s literally the most uninformed piece of opinion I’ve heard all week! IMO, GEN O is one of the better Chiefs we’ve had.

    And you don’t honestly believe this is the first time they’ve heard this kind of patronizing from the House Armed Services Committee, do you? Rep. Hunter (at least to my ear) came off as articulate yes, but also demeaning and disrespectful. Maybe as a Major, he gets off on telling a four-star what to do!

    Oh, and if you feel like you have to remind the Army Chief of Staff that you (as a civilian politician) are in charge, you probably never had his respect to begin with.

  15. Ted Harmon Says:
    May 3rd, 2013 at 7:30 am

    What the congressman did and said is called grandstanding.