The Obama Administration apparently has decided to name Dr. Heidi Shyu as the next Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. That isn’t so surprising since she was already the principal deputy to departing Army acquisition chief Malcolm O’Neill, but what is noteworthy is Shyu’s long association with the Raytheon Company, where she served in a raft of senior corporate positions. Among other things, she has been a vice president in Raytheon’s space and airborne systems business, a vice president in the company’s unmanned and reconnaissance-systems unit, and director of the company’s sensor work on the Joint Strike Fighter. Her link to the big Massachusetts-based defense contractor makes her part of a growing fraternity of Raytheon alumni who have found their way to the top of the Obama Administration’s defense management team.
The best-known Raytheon alum is Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, who prior to his current job at the Pentagon was a senior vice president for government operations and strategy in the company’s Washington office, working on programs like the Patriot air defense system. David Van Buren, the Air Force’s acquisition chief, also did a stint as president of Raytheon Microelectronics in 2000-2001. Another well-known Raytheon alum is the defense department’s newly-minted director of pricing, Shay Assad, who held a variety of senior positions at Raytheon over a 22-year career there. And then there is Frank Kendall, the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics — in other words, the number-two acquisition official in the entire defense establishment. Kendall’s Wikipedia entry describes him as a lawyer with an interest in human-rights cases, but in a previous life he was vice president of engineering at Raytheon.
This is a surprising number of senior Pentagon officials to draw from a single company, especially in an administration that supposedly prefers to hold the business world at arm’s length. It may be that Raytheon produces executives with a bent for public service, or it may reflect the close relationship between the company and prominent Massachusetts Democrats like the late Senator Ted Kennedy (Lynn once worked in Kennedy’s office). Whatever the explanation, Raytheon alumni are popping up in senior positions all over the Pentagon.
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