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O'Reilly Flies High At Missile Defense Agency

by Martin Sieff
UPI Senior News Analyst
Washington (UPI) Oct 10, 2006
The U.S. Department of Defense is promoting Brig. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly to be Gen. Henry "Trey" Obering's deputy at the Missile Defense Agency. MarketWatch reported on Oct. 3 that Gen. O'Reilly would take up his new post as No. 2 at the MDA in January 2007.

O'Reilly's appointment amounts to a vote of confidence by the Pentagon top brass that the long-troubled Ground-Based Midcourse Interceptor system is back on track at last, in a large part due to O'Reilly's efforts. On Sept. 1, a GBI launched from Fort Greeley, Alaska, exceeded expectations and successfully hit and destroyed a test missile that had been launched from California.

MarketWatch noted that O'Reilly ran the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, or GMD, program over the past year with a strong emphasis on engineering reliability and quality control after a demoralizing series of test failures in 2004 and early 2005.

The Boeing Company is the prime contractor for the GBI program with the Raytheon Company, or. RTN and Northrop Grumman Corp. also heavily involved.

MarketWatch noted that O'Reilly's success has made him a favorite of lawmakers in Congress. He will retain his hands-on responsibility for running the GBI program, the strategic centerpiece of all the MDA's efforts, even after he takes over as Obering's deputy.

The successful Sept. 1 test came at the most crucial moment for the MDA as it occurred during the last stages of congressional wrangling over the Fiscal Year 2007 Defense Appropriations bill. The MDA came out of that process, boosted by its GBI test success, with its funding intact. MarketWatch noted that of the massive $10 billion that the DOD now spends every year on its anti-ballistic programs, the bulk of that funding goes to programs that are regarded as either operational or close to being so, rather than programs like the Airborne Laser, or ABL, that are assessed as being years away from any serious consideration of operational deployment.

Many experts credit Gen. Obering for forcing this more focused emphasis on programs that can deliver credible results in the immediate future, said Parney Albright, a former Department of Homeland Security official who is now managing director of the Civitas Group consulting firm told MarketWatch. She said Obering had successfully resisted and abandoned the DOD's previous track record of trying to do too much, too soon. The missile defense program had improved thanks to the implementation of Obering's systematic, orderly approach to technical risk, Albright said.

A top Boeing executive warmly welcomed O'Reilly's promotion. "Gen. O'Reilly is an energetic, results-oriented leader who displays an eagle eye for detail," Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, told Market Watch. "We look forward to working closely with him as he takes on his expanded role."

O'Reilly's predecessor as MDA No. 2, Brig. Gen. Martin McNamara, is being moved to the Pentagon office of the Army Chief of Staff, the report said.

O'Reilly's replacement of McNamara after Obering's years in office suggests that O'Reilly may now being groomed as Obering's eventual successor.

Source: United Press International

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