Senate panel grills former Lockheed exec about potential conflicts

John Rood photo courtesy Lockheed Martin 

John Rood is the administration's nominee to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy. (Photo courtesy: Lockheed Martin)

John Rood, the Lockheed Martin executive nominated for undersecretary of defense for policy, is drawing questions on how he would treat his former firm.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) sought assurances that Rood would recuse himself from decisions involving his former employer, and not apply for waivers as is permitted by law.

"I'm concerned about the number of appointees from the big five defense contractors," Warren said. "I think this committee needs to understand your potential conflicts of interest and how you plan to deal with them."

Rood cited his legal obligations in his answer, saying that DOD "has well established processes in place. I will recuse from any particular matter involving Lockheed Martin for a period of two years. I have financially divested myself."

Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) opened the hearing with a statement expressing concern about the number of defense industry executives appointed to senior Pentagon roles. He said that after Rood, he "will not support any further nominees with that background."

McCain showed frustrated at Rood's lack of a response.

"Mr. Rood, we are going to give you the question in writing because you are obviously ducking the answer here. And it will have a bearing on the vote in this committee," he said.

Senators also stressed to Rood and co-panelist Randall Shriver -- who is up for the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs -- about the need to create a concrete cyber and information warfare strategy.

Both Shriver and Rood agreed that the current DOD strategy was insufficient and that processes, procedures, roles and responsibilities needed to be more clearly defined.

“There is no strategy therefore when we find ourselves just reacting…it’s unacceptable and disgraceful,” McCain said.

While Rood and Shriver’s nominations are still pending, the committee reported favorably on several other defense appointments during the hearing, including Anthony Kurta for principal deputy undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness, James McPherson as Army general counsel and Gregory Maggs will be an appellate court judge for the armed forces. The full Senate also confirmed new Army Secretary Mark Esper on Nov. 15.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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