Amid GOP Criticism, Former Oklahoma Congressman To Leave Pentagon Job


Former Oklahoma congressman Brad Carson, who drew heavy criticism from Republican senators last month, has asked President Barack Obama to withdraw his nomination for a top Pentagon job.

Carson, 49, is planning to leave the Defense Department next month.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter praised Carson’s work on a number of efforts, including one to modernize civilian and military personnel systems.

The Senate Armed Services Committee notified its members that Carson sought the withdrawal, a Senate aide said Monday evening.

Carson, who has been in key Defense Department posts since late 2011, was nominated last year to be undersecretary for personnel and readiness, an area of broad responsibilities.

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stalled Carson’s nomination — and many others chosen for Pentagon jobs — for several months because of a dispute with the president.

Then McCain and other Republican senators, including Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, leveled criticism and even anonymous complaints against Carson, who served an eastern Oklahoma congressional district from 2001-05.

At a public hearing Feb. 25, Inhofe said he had received “whistle-blower things” that suggested Carson had fostered a “hostile work environment” in the personnel and readiness office, where he had been working since being nominated.

The term “hostile work environment” is almost always associated with workplace harassment, typically sexual harassment. Inhofe did not list any specific complaints and acknowledged that they might not be true.

Carson seemed stunned by Inhofe’s charges and told him, “I would strenuously object to this characterization. I have never heard that allegation. And people have many means to make those allegations at the Department of Defense.”

Carson agreed to seek an internal review of his office, and a Pentagon spokesman told The Oklahoman last week that Carson had taken the first steps toward having that review conducted.

At the same February hearing, McCain accused Carson of performing the duties of the job for which he’d been nominated, even though he hadn’t been confirmed. McCain said that violated federal law. McCain and another GOP senator also charged that Carson hadn’t consulted with them on a project about future military forces.

McCain and Inhofe have never hidden their disdain for Obama’s defense policies, though they supported Carson’s nomination for two key U.S. Army jobs.

Carson said Monday, “I’m very grateful to the men and women of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

Pentagon chief: US airstrike that killed Iraqi soldiers a ‘mistake’


Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter says an airstrike Friday that killed as many as 10 Iraqi soldiers was a “mistake that involved both sides.”
“These kinds of things happen when you’re fighting side by side as we are,” Carter told reporters aboard the USS Kearsarge in the Persian Gulf, according to CBS News.
 He added that the airstrike had “all the indications of being a mistake of the kind that can happen on a dynamic battlefield.”
He said he called Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to express condolences.
The Pentagon chief did not provide additional details about the airstrike, which was one of several conducted on Friday targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Carter said the “regrettable” strike was an indication of “how closely we are working with the government” of Iraq to combat ISIS.

Carter makes surprise Afghan visit


TAGS: Afghanistan, ISIS, Ashton Carter

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Friday to meet with U.S. troops and get an update on the threats faced in the country.

 The Friday trip comes amid Carter’s admission this week that he used a personal, unsecured email account for some official business during his initial months at the Pentagon, which he has called a “mistake,” saying he “should have known better.” The White House has signaled that it won’t take actions to punish the secretary.


Carter arrived at a base in eastern Afghanistan during his swing through the region that includes stops in Iraq and Turkey, and was slated to meet with his Afghan counterpart Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai and Gen. John Campbell, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, according to reports.

About 600 troops are stationed at the Operating Base Fenty near the city of Jalalabad.