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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Edward “Pete” Aldridge

  • Lockheed Martin: Member, Board of Directors

  • Department of Defense: Former Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics

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Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge is a long time government adviser and arms industry executive. As Donald Rumsfeld's undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics during 2001-2003, Aldridge held the purse strings at the Pentagon, overseeing the Department of Defense's contract decision-making process.[1] Aldridge came from the defense industry before taking over the Pentagon position and promptly returned to corporate positions after leaving his post. His decision to become a board member at Lockheed Martin—the Pentagon's largest contractor—attracted broad criticism. Seth Morris of the independent nonprofit Project on Government Oversight commented: "[Aldridge] was making some very major decisions dealing with a lot of money for Lockheed and defense companies in general. I don't think he should take a position with any company he had dealings with while in that position."[2]

Aldridge came under fire for other apparent conflicts of interest. In January 2004, President George W. Bush selected him to chair the Commission on the Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy, a policy that aimed to complete the International Space Station by 2010, develop and test a new spacecraft by 2008, and "return to the moon by 2020, as a launching point for missions beyond," as Bush put it at the time.[3] Bush described the commission as a group of "private and public sector experts to advise on implementing the vision that I've outlined today." Aldridge's past work at the Pentagon, coupled with his post at Lockheed Martin, spurred Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to call for him to step down. "Aldridge's position on the commission,” reported the Washington Post, “presents a potential conflict because Lockheed could benefit from the space panel's recommendations, McCain said."[4] The criticism, however failed to spur Aldridge to step down.

The space commission's June 2004 report recommended that "commercialization of space should become a primary focus" for NASA. "We must challenge and rely heavily upon the private sector—major corporations, small business, and entrepreneurs-beyond anything that has ever been attempted in a major government-run program,” the commission wrote. “The government must execute only those activities that are too risky for private sector involvement. The government must change its focus to provide incentives for the commercialization of space, and to create, nurture, and sustain a robust space-based industry.”[5]

It added: "The Commission recommends NASA recognize and implement a far larger presence of private industry in space operations with the specific goal of allowing private industry to assume the primary role of providing services to NASA, and most immediately in accessing low-Earth orbit. In NASA decisions, the preferred choice for operational activities must be competitively-awarded contracts with private and non-profit organizations and NASA's role must be limited to only those areas where there is irrefutable demonstration that only government can perform the proposed activity."[6]

Senator McCain’s criticism of Aldridge was long-standing. According to the Washington Post: "McCain … has criticized Aldridge's decision as Pentagon procurement chief to approve the lease and purchase of Boeing Co. refueling tankers, saying the program was a waste of taxpayer money. E-mails released by Chicago-based Boeing to the Senate Commerce panel show that the company considered Aldridge an ally, McCain said. … McCain claimed that Aldridge had a 'cozy relationship' with Boeing and now he is concerned that Aldridge's decision-making on the commission might be influenced by his position on Lockheed's board."[7]

A 2005 report from the Pentagon's Office of Inspector General regarding a failed deal with Boeing determined that "The Defense Department's weapons-buying chief [Aldridge] and senior air force officials sidestepped regulations in a $23 billion proposal to lease and buy as many as 100 Boeing tankers. The report by the office of the inspector general, Joseph Schmitz, called the decision by Edward Aldridge, the Pentagon's former undersecretary for acquisition, to exempt the Boeing tanker program from specific regulations 'the major failure associated with managing and making decisions on the program'."[8]

Responding to a July 2003 opinion piece by Steven Pearlstein in the Post about Aldridge ("A Revolving Door? So What?"), an irate reader said in a letter to the editor: "Although Pearlstein accurately describes the appointment of recently retired chief Pentagon weapons buyer Pete Aldridge to Lockheed Martin's well-compensated board as 'thoroughly unexceptional,' he is wrong to imply that this doesn't undermine public policy. The revolving door degrades policymaking and promotes cynicism about government. It is troublesome that future employment considerations may influence decisions by government officials who still ostensibly represent taxpayers. For example, in his last days at the Pentagon, Aldridge approved the controversial contracts for Lockheed Martin's F-22 and Boeing's V-22 aircraft. Both programs are severely over budget and continually fail to meet their technical requirements. Insiders report that Aldridge was unimpressed with these programs but approved them anyway. Was he rewarding these companies in order to keep his employment options open?"[9]

Aldridge has also been active in various nongovernmental advocacy groups, including the U.S. Space Foundation, which aims "to vigorously advance and support civil, commercial, and national security space endeavors and educational excellence." The foundation, for which Aldridge served as an honorary member and a "life director," has been heavily funded by major missile defense corporations.[10] The foundation's list of corporate backers include the Aerospace Corporation, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and SAIC.[11]

 

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Sources


[1] US Department of Defense, "Biography - E.C. "Pete" Aldridge," US Department of Defense, November 7, 2003, http://web.archive.org/web/20031223185807/http://www.defenselink.mil/bios/aldridge.html.



[2] Renae Merie, "Lockheed Adds Director Fresh From the Pentagon," Washington Post, July 27, 2003, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-275703.html.



[3] NASA, "President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration Program," January 14, 2004, NASA, http://history.nasa.gov/Bush%20SEP.htm.



[4] Renae Merie, "McCain Calls for Change on Space Panel; Potential Conflict Seen for Aldridge," Washington Post, January 20, 2004, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-149991.html.



[5] Report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, June 2004, available athttp://govinfo.library.unt.edu/moontomars/docs/M2MReportScreenFinal.pdf.



[6] Report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, June 2004, available athttp://govinfo.library.unt.edu/moontomars/docs/M2MReportScreenFinal.pdf.



[7] Renae Merie, "McCain Calls for Change on Space Panel; Potential Conflict Seen for Aldridge," Washington Post, January 20, 2004, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-149991.html.



[8] New York Times, "U.S. officials criticized on Boeing deal," The New York Times, June 8, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/07/business/worldbusiness/07iht-tanker.html.



[9] Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, July 19, 2003



[10] The Space Foundation, "Space Foundation Board of Directors," Space Foundation, http://web.archive.org/web/20060927045905/http:/www.spacefoundation.org/about/boardofdirectors/board.shtml.



[11] The Space Foundation, "Corporate Supporters," The Space Foundation, http://web.archive.org/web/20070403041714/http:/www.spacefoundation.org/about/membership/corporateMembers.shtml


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Edward “Pete” Aldridge Résumé


Affiliations

  • U.S. Space Foundation: Former Director, Honorary Member, "Life Director"

  • Center for Security Policy: Participated in CSP's 2002 Keeper of the Flame award ceremony along with Douglas Feith, Peter Rodman, Dov Zakheim, William Luti, Richard Perle, and James Schlesinger

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics: Former President and Fellow

  • Air Force Association: National Director and Life Member 




Government Service

  • Department of Defense: Undersecretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, 2001-2003; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Programs, 1974-1976

  • Strategic Arms Limitation Talks in Helsinki and Vienna: Adviser

  • U.S. Air Force: Secretary, 1986-1988; Undersecretary, 1981-1986

  • Office of Management and Budget: Former Senior Management Associate

  • Defense Science Board: Former Member




Private Sector

  • Lockheed Martin: Member, Board of Directors

  • Aerospace Corp.: Former CEO, 1992-2001

  • McDonnell Douglas Electronic Systems Co.: President, 1988-1992

  • LTV Aerospace Corp.: Former Senior Manager

  • Systems Planning Corp.: Former Vice President of the National Policy and Strategic Systems Group

  • United Industrial Corp.: Former Member, Board of Directors




Education

  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University: B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering, 1960

  • Georgia Institute of Technology: M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering

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