Secretary of the Army and the Short List

The new crew in Washington,D.C., continues its work filling top government posts — including a few at DoD. It appears Arnold Punaro is on the short list for a service secretary slot.

The retired Marine two-star might be the next secretary of the Army.

Aside from Marines, Beltway banditos, and Hill denizens, few may know his name. Punaro currently is executive vice president at techno-giant Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), based just outside D.C., where “he is the senior corporate official responsible for SAIC’s government affairs, worldwide communications and support operations as well as general manager of their Washington operations,” according to his corporate bio. In short, he is the top lobbyist for the company and runs its efforts with lawmakers.

Punaro’s ties to Washington run deep, and he possesses an enviable Capitol Hill pedigree. He was with Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn from 1973 to 1997. He held various jobs and spent eight years as staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Nunn’s number one rose to a position of power and influence — a point never lost on the Corps.

A few Army wags are aghast that the secretary’s office might be occupied by a Marine. Some consider Punaro a polarizing figure, but it’s his day job that might pose challenges to his confirmation if nominated. SAIC has a number of Army contracts and works on the beleaguered and controversial Future Combat Systems. One source close to the secretary’s office and familiar with Hill proceedings does not see Punaro’s lobbying career as a problem. He concedes there might be the requisite concerns, but nothing that would prevent confirmation if he’s nominated. Punaro’s is the only name he’s heard for the job.

Punaro’s friends are in the White House as well. Marine sources say he’s tight with national security advisor, retired Marine general, former commandant, and all-around Corps superhero Jim Jones. It’s our guess the former Georgetown basketball standout (oh, and NATO commander) has played a part in Punaro’s probable nomination.

According to a Washington Post brief, Punaro will be engaged with what he does well: He is scheduled to visit the Hill this week to call on buds and Senate Armed Services Committee members John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Take that, Hill.

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