Right Web

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

England, Gordon

  • Former Deputy Secretary of Defense (2005-2008)

  • General Dynamics: Former executive vice president

  • Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs: Award recipient

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Gordon England is a former defense contractor executive who served as deputy secretary of defense in the second George W. Bush administration, replacing Paul Wolfowitz as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s number two. Discussing his appointment, the Washington Post reported, “England has a reputation for being less ideological than Wolfowitz and more attuned to the administrative demands of the Pentagon's second-ranking civilian job.”[1]

Before being tapped as deputy defense secretary, England held a host of other positions in the Bush administration dating back to 2001. As the Post put it in 2005, England’s “path through the Bush administration has been somewhat circuitous. He was Navy secretary for a year and a half beginning in May 2001, then jumped to the top deputy's job at the Homeland Security Department in January 2003. He returned to the Navy post eight months later after Bush's choice for that job, New Mexico oilman Colin R. McMillan, committed suicide.”[2]

Like numerous other political appointees who served in the Bush administration—including two other armed service secretaries, James Roche and Thomas White—England arrived at the Pentagon fresh from duties as an executive of a major corporation, in this case the Pentagon contractor General Dynamics. Like his boss Rumsfeld, England championed military transformation while in office, and as navy secretary he was reportedly tasked with developing “futuristic weapons to counter new types of threats emerging in the post-Soviet world.”[3]

According to the World Policy Institute, “England was executive vice president of General Dynamics Corporation from 1997 until 2001 and was responsible for two major sectors of the corporation: Information Systems and International. Previously he had served as executive vice president of the Combat Systems Group, president of General Dynamics Fort Worth aircraft company (later Lockheed), President of General Dynamics Land Systems company producing land combat vehicles and as the principal of a mergers and acquisition consulting company.”[4]

Despite his purportedly non-ideological inclinations, England has often promoted policies that dovetail closely with the aims of both the neoconservative advocacy community and the defense industry. In a February 2012 letter to the New York Times, for example, England criticized the newspaper for arguing that the United States should cut funding to the long-beleaguered Joint Strike Fighter program, arguing that the country was in danger of losing its military edge over other nations. Ignoring the fact that the U.S. defense budget remains many times larger than the world’s next largest militaries, England argued that the Times was “wrong in proposing cuts that would result in both fewer troops and less capability. That’s a recipe to encourage our adversaries and weaken the foundations of our freedoms.”[5]

In 2001 England, then secretary of the navy, was chosen along with the two other service secretaries—James Roche and Thomas White—to be a co-recipient of that year’s Distinguished Service award from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a rightist policy institute closely associated with the Likud Party and the Israeli military, as well as with the U.S. neoconservative camp and U.S. military contractors. In his acceptance speech, England said: “Some historians and writers likened the fall of the Berlin all to the beginning of Pax Romana, 200 years of world peace of the Roman Empire. After 40 plus years peace in Israel also looked promising. This world view is slightly clouded by Saddam Hussein and Desert Storm in the early 1990s. Once that conflict was over, the very quick and decisive allied victory was considered a validation of previous conclusions. The 1990s seem much like the 1920s with expanding economic prosperity and little fear of any enemy to the United States, our allies, and certainly our way of life. In Desert Storm this forecast was slightly clouded. On September 11th it was shattered. Events like September 11 remind us that it is always prudent to be always prepared. Complacency is never rewarded. Preparedness is a virtue. JINSA's goal of a strong national defense needs to be a continuing bedrock of our national policy and posture.”[6]

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Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Sources


[1] Bradley Graham, “Wolfowitz Successor Picked,” Washington Post, April 1, 2005.



[2] Bradley Graham, “Wolfowitz Successor Picked,” Washington Post, April 1, 2005.




[3] Quoted in Michelle Ciarrocca and William D. Hartung, "Axis of Influence: Appendix C: Who's Who in the Bush Administration," World Policy Institute, July 2002.



[4] Michelle Ciarrocca and William D. Hartung, "Axis of Influence: Appendix C: Who's Who in the Bush Administration," World Policy Institute, July 2002.



[5] Gordon England, “Letter to the Editor: Modernizing the Military, With a Technological Edge,” New York Times, February 6, 2012.



[6] JINSA Online, " Presentations of the 19th Annual Henry J. Jackson Distinguished Service Award," JINSA Online, October 25, 2001, http://web.archive.org/web/20051026235133/http://www.jinsa.org/articles/articles.html/function/view/categoryid/1366/documentid/1385/history/3,2166,1366,1385.



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England, Gordon Résumé


Affiliations

  • Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs: Award recipient

  • Goodwill International: Vice Chair

  • USO: Former member, Board of Governors

  • Texas Christian University: Former member, Board of Visitor




Government

  • Department of Defense: Deputy Secretary (2005-2008); Secretary of the Navy (2001-2003, September 2003-2005)

  • Department of Homeland Security: Deputy Secretary (January 2003-September 2003)

  • Defense Science Board: Former member




Business

  • General Dynamics: Executive vice president (1997-2001)

  • Combat Systems Group: Former executive vice president

  • General Dynamics Fort Worth Aircraft Company (later Lockheed): Former president

  • General Dynamics Land Systems Company: Former president

  • Honeywell: Engineer for the Gemini Space Program

  • Litton Industries: Program Manager for the Navy's E-2C Hawkeye aircraft




Education

  • University of Maryland: Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering (1961)

  • Texas Christian University: MBA (1975)

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