Senators Kit Bond, R-Mo, and Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, have joined to issue a warning to the Marines to stop punishing the whistleblower who let Congress know of slowdowns in providing armored vehicles to protect soldiers from roadside bombs:
Franz Gayl has been targeted by his superiors for “adverse personnel action,” wrote Sens. Joseph Biden, D-Del., and Kit Bond, R-Mo. Gayl is the science and technology adviser to the deputy Marine commandant. He helped disclose “life-threatening” problems in the Pentagon’s efforts to field Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, the letter said.
Gayl should be commended and “embraced as a hero,” they wrote.
“We expect much better from our Marines, particularly the leadership,” the senators wrote to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway. “The Corps’ apparent retaliation against a conscientious whistleblower is reprehensible.”
Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson, a spokesman for Conway, said the Corps does not persecute somebody who raises legitimate complaints.
Gayl filed for whistleblower protection with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel in May. USA Today quoted Gayl in a July 16 report about how the Pentagon had balked at repeated appeals from commanders in Iraq for MRAPs. The story quoted Gayl as saying that military bureaucrats didn’t want the MRAP sooner “because it would compete against” armored Humvees and “many other favored programs” for funding.
Marines in Iraq sought 1,169 MRAPs in February 2005. It took more than a year for the Marines to approve a request for large numbers of the vehicle. Conway has said the Marines delayed seeking more MRAPs because they believed armored Humvees were the best response to the threat of roadside bombs. Conway has also said there were not enough producers of MRAPs at the time to meet the Marines’ demand.
Gayl declined Thursday to comment on the letter.
“Mr. Gayl helped disclose these life-threatening procurement problems from his position in the Pentagon,” Biden and Bond wrote. “Eliminating these problems and ensuring they do not happen in the future will save hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives.”