Avoiding Connect the Dots by Classifying Cost

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday challenged the Air Force’s assertion that the contract value of the B-21 bomber must remain classified. “Why would you not ever want to tell the American people how you’re going to spend their dollars?” McCain asked Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. The Air Force is “trying to balance the transparency that we want to do” with protecting the “critical capabilities of this asset,” Bunch said in a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Airland Subcommittee. “Sir, we’re trying to prevent the ability of individuals to link different pieces that may be unclassified together to get an idea of how the money’s being spent.” Bunch told subcommittee Chairman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) he believes the service will be able to release the contract award amount “in the upcoming months,” and stressed that USAF wants to avoid the lack of transparency that undermined the B-2 program. “We’re trying to release as much information, be as forward as we can. We just haven’t gotten to the point where we can release that at this stage,” Bunch said. (See previously: Slowly Revealing the LRS-B)