If you see the man in the picture grab him and talk to him -- in a nice way and about the military. Fred Downey, military legislative aide to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), will be joining the Aerospace Industries Association as vice president of national security at the end of this month.It is refreshing to see the biggest defense industry lobby has made a very smart hire.
I’ve known Downey for about 10 years (though we didn’t talk much while I was covering space for the last four years). You can expect a wily and febrile mind that is committed to joint operations, that understands the possibilities and limits of transformation (or whatever we’re calling it since Rumsfeld so tarred the term) and has had one of the highest profile bosses on defense issues on the Hill and knows where to step and where to tread lightly.
Before joining Lieberman, Downey had one job that marked him for life – assistant to the man many reporters call the Yoda of the Pentagon, Andrew Marshall, head of the Office of Net Assessment. Downey’s hire also appears to mark a return to a more traditional approach by AIA to defense and intelligence issues. It also should mark a return to greater stability at the group, which has gone through four national security bosses in less than six years.
The organization tried combining its highest profile issues – international affairs and defense – under a single person, Mark Esper, who was named executive vice president of defense and international affairs in April 2006. Esper made the decision one year ago to join something many of us can barely remember -- the presidential campaign of former Sen. Fred Thompson.