National Security

FP's Situation Report: TFBSO's Jim Bullion, out

Congress puts VA on the hot seat; Hagel to hire ethics officer; USAID's Larry Sampler on negative reporting on Afg: 'don't believe it.'; Ethics: Passing and Failing 'The Washington Post Test;' and a bit more.  

By Gordon Lubold

Page One: Congress turns up the heat on the VA and considers a ban on executive bonuses. The WSJ's Michael Phillips and Ben Kesling: "Congress is poised to tighten its leash on the Department of Veterans Affairs over its response to what lawmakers say are management and medical errors, just as VA facilities are flooded with a new generation of injured troops. In a rare show of bipartisanship, top members of the congressional committees that oversee the VA are increasingly frustrated with the agency in the wake of incidents ranging from a patient's death after an altercation with a nursing assistant in Louisiana to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Pennsylvania. Lawmakers say these episodes reflect a lack of accountability at the 1,700 VA hospitals, clinics and other facilities.

"Congress now appears likely to impose legislative penalties on the VA. The House last week unanimously passed a bill that included a five-year ban on bonuses for senior VA executives. The Senate is considering less severe restrictions on performance pay. The chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Rep. Jeff Miller (R., Fla.), says he plans to introduce a measure this week that would make it easier to fire or demote hospital directors and other executives whose performance falls short."

Says Rep. Mike Michaud of Maine, the top Democrat on the House VA committee to the Journal: "VA needs to more directly and explicitly measure each leader's contribution... If they do not, they will never be able to truly hold themselves accountable to veterans, or the American taxpayer."

"The dispute has taken a testy turn in recent weeks, with Mr. Miller and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki swapping comments about VA accountability practices. In a Jan. 31 letter to Mr. Miller, the secretary defended the agency's bonus and dismissal practices, even going so far as to explain bonuses given to particular employees. "Results, or lack thereof, for which employees and executives are responsible and accountable, are factors when evaluating performance," wrote Mr. Shinseki, a former Army general.

Mr. Miller shot back on Friday: "It's becoming more apparent by the day that there seems to be just two types of people who think VA is properly holding its leaders accountable: VA executives who have received huge performance bonuses year after year despite failing in their jobs and those who work in VA's central office." Read the rest here.

Meanwhile, Michelle Obama announces a new vets hiring initiative - by construction companies - to be announced later today. Michelle Obama, also in the WSJ this morning: "On Monday, more than 100 construction companies-many of whom are direct competitors-are coming together to announce that they plan to hire more than 100,000 veterans within the next five years. They made this commitment not just because it's the patriotic thing to do, and not just because they want to repay our veterans for their service to our country, but because these companies know that it's the smart thing to do for their businesses.

As one construction industry executive put it, 'Veterans are invaluable to the construction industry. Men and women who serve in the military often have the traits that are so critical to our success: agility, discipline, integrity and the drive to get the job done right...'"

"Take the example of Glenn Tussing, who currently works at Disney. Glenn is an Air Force veteran who served as chief of future joint manpower requirements. In that role, he was responsible for figuring out the exact numbers and types of troops-from the pilots, to the engineers, to the medical personnel-needed for a mission to succeed. He would then locate those troops and help send them where they needed to go.

"When Disney was looking for someone to oversee the menus at Disney properties around the world, it would have been easy for them to overlook Glenn since the link between manpower planning and menu management isn't exactly intuitive. But Disney has trained its HR specialists to translate military experience into civilian qualifications. So when they were looking for someone who could determine the exact quantities and types of ingredients for every meal they served-and get that information anywhere in the world it needed to go-they knew Glenn was their guy. In fact, today at Disney, Glenn uses the same types of databases and programs he used in the military." More here.

And ICYMI, how the military could learn a few things from business leaders, part of the Denver Post's "American Homecomings" project here.

Welcome to Monday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? Please tell a friend.  And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, we hope you'll say something -- to Situation Report. And one more thing: please follow us @glubold.

Jim Bullion, head of the Pentagon's controversial Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, is out, Situation Report has learned. Bullion, who heads the "TFBSO" as it's known - the entity created in 2006 to drum up business in war zones, strengthen the economies there and create stability as a result, was just told his last day would be Wednesday.

A defense official confirmed to Situation Report that "Mr. Bullion and the Department had different visions for the task force's final year," and that "this leadership change, though early, is in the best interest of all concerned." Deputy Director Joe Catalino will serve as acting director. On Dec. 4, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced, to some surprise, that the task force would be phased out by the end of 2014 as part of a reorganization of the Pentagon's policy shop.

"We have every confidence that task force members remain up to the challenges before them and we are grateful for Mr. Bullion's service," Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Elissa Smith told Situation Report last night.

The task force has been controversial for some time and didn't have a lot of supporters at the Pentagon, State or USAID as it had shifted its focus from Iraq to Afghanistan in recent years and continued to play "matchmaker," linking the private sector to opportunities in war zones. Bullion succeeded Paul Brinkley, the larger-than-life businessman who started TFBSO and was controversial in his own right. Bullion, like any other agency manager, was likely not pleased that the Pentagon had discontinued the task force after 2014, when the bulk of U.S. forces are expected to be out of Afghanistan. Bullion had been pushing to have its life extended past 2014, but that was an unlikely proposition and was not met well within State and DoD. Although under Bullion the task force had pushed to bolster Afghanistan's carpet industry and made inroads in other areas of the Afghan economy, those pleas to keep the TFBSO going despite the writing on the wall may have been part of his undoing.

Meanwhile, Paul Brinkley has a new book and is having a party. Brinkley, who left the task force in 2011 amid controversies about the role of the task force, has a new book, "War Front to Store Front." It's out soon and he's having a party in Tysons Corner tonight to celebrate. Time's Fareed Zakaria, in the current edition of Time: "...Karzai might be playing an erratic game of brinkmanship in his negotiations with Washington, but he might also be trying to navigate a post-American Afghanistan. While U.S. troops might well remain and some American aid will continue, Afghanistan is going to look very different in 2015 than it does today. Consider these facts from a highly intelligent forthcoming book, War Front to Store Front, by Paul Brinkley: In 2009, Afghanistan had a nominal GDP of $10 billion. Of that number, 60% was foreign aid. The cultivation of poppy and the production and export of raw heroin--all of which is informal and underground--accounted for 30%. That leaves 10%, or $1 billion, of self-sustaining, legitimate economic activity. During the same year, the U.S. military spent $4 billion per month to protect a country with a real annual economic output of $1 billion."

Brinkley to Zakaria: "Kabul is a metaphor for the country... It is a city sized for 500,000 people. It has grown to 8 million, who have been drawn to the city by the massive influx of foreign money, military and nonmilitary. But that money is going to slow down very significantly soon. What happens then?" Read the rest here.

Speaking of all of this, USAID's Larry Sampler is talking Afghanistan at the New America Foundation today at around noon. Sampler, who heads AID's Afghanistan and Pakistan program, will be explaining how AID is pivoting from a war footing to "transition and transformation" and just how the agency plans to do that. A sample of Sampler, based on prepared remarks today: "...If you follow Afghanistan in the media, you are bombarded with negative stories of corruption, violence, bitterness, and lack of hope. The media - and even some in the US government - would have you believe that 12 years of sacrifice and investment in Afghanistan is being squandered and will soon be lost, as that country falls back into civil war and chaos. Or that USAID is shoveling money out the door to corrupt Afghans, as schools and hospitals crumble into money-pits unsuitable for human use.

"So my first message today is this: Don't believe it. I don't. And I have both the opportunity to know, and a responsibility to pay close attention. I am not naïve: I know that our track record has not been perfect, and that Afghanistan's future will not be easy, but we're not working in Afghanistan because we expect it to be easy. We're working in Afghanistan because it is important to our own national interests... I can't tell you how disappointed I am - and how demoralizing it is for our staff in the field - to have so many reports and stories come out that articulate quite well our own assessment of the frailties of particular ministries, but then completely ignore the significant work that goes into mitigating those frailties in the short-run and working with the Afghans to eliminate them over time." Event deets here.

ICYMI: AP's brief profiles of all 11 Afghanistan presidential candidates, here.

Chuck Hagel announced Friday that he would hire a senior officer to deal with the ethical issues rocking the Defense Department. Hagel, speaking more tautly and confidently than usual, to reporters at a last-minute briefing Friday: "Over the next few weeks, Chairman Dempsey and I will be announcing actions that all of our services are taking to deal with this problem.  I will assign to my senior staff a general officer who will report directly to me on issues related to military ethics, character, and leadership, and work directly with the service secretaries and the service chiefs.  This officer will coordinate the actions of our services on this issue, work every day with all of our services, and we will meet weekly so I can receive reports from DOD's senior leadership, including both officer and enlisted leadership, on the progress we're making."

Wait, is addressing ethics A priority, THE priority or what? Hagel, con't, during different parts of the briefing: "This will be an absolute top priority for the service secretaries, the service chiefs, General Dempsey, and me... And that's why I am putting this as a number-one priority for this institution... I said a number-one priority.  A high priority, I think is what I said... We have a lot of priorities."

Dempsey has already assigned Marine Lt. Gen. Tom Waldhauser to lead his "profession of arms" initiative to work to re-instill the professional aspects of military service and leadership across the military, but Hagel's effort will be a separate and yet coordinated effort with what Dempsey is already doing. BTW, read our piece from last year about Dempsey's plan to address ethical conduct - in April 2013, here.

Also: Hagel announced that Air Force up-and-comer Paul Selva, now the four-star who runs Air Mobility Command, will be nom'ed as the new commander of U.S. Transportation Command. Hagel: "If confirmed, he will be an outstanding successor to General Fraser, who's been an exemplary, effective TRANSCOM commander, and we will miss him, and we appreciate his tremendous service to this country."

Read the full transcript of Hagel's remarks Friday here.

Ouch! The Marine Corps is seeking to "professionalize" the newsstand at the PX and is relegating Marine Corps Times from its prominent location near the checkout lines to an area in the PXes with all the other pubs. MCT's Lance Bacon: "Marine Corps leaders have ordered the independent Marine Corps Times newspaper removed from its prominent newsstand location at base exchange stores worldwide and placed instead in areas away from checkout lines, where it is harder to find and fewer copies are available. The move raises troubling questions about motive and closely follows a directive prohibiting commanders from using budget funds to buy Marine Corps Times and a number of other publications.

Marine Corps Times is widely recognized for its comprehensive coverage of the Corps, focusing on everything from career tracks, to pay and benefits, family and spouse issues, and employment after leaving the military. Throughout much of the past year, the paper has published dozens of articles as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations the service's commandant, Gen. Jim Amos, abused his authority to ensure Marines were punished for an embarrassing war-zone scandal. Numerous reports have captured the attention of mainstream media outlets, including NPR, CNN and Time magazine, among several others.

"Spokesmen for the commandant's office would not answer questions about whether Amos or his staff were aware of or involved in the decision to relocate the newspaper, but a source with knowledge of the new directive said it was approved with the commandant's knowledge." More here.

Senior Officer Ethics: How does it sniff? On Friday, the WaPo's Craig Whitlock wrote that there was another, new problem with some admirals taking a trip to the U.K. and if it passed 'The Washington Post Test." Whitlock: "Amid a flurry of ethical scandals vexing the military comes a new transgression: The Navy has rebuked three admirals for taking a questionable trip to Britain and thereby flunking what was termed 'The Washington Post Test.' Unlike other cases of personal misconduct that have been dogging U.S. military leaders in recent years, this episode hardly amounted to a high crime. The admirals went on an official, seven-day trip to Britain in April 2012 that, to some eyes, seemed more about pleasure and less about business. A whistleblower reported the trip to the Naval Inspector General, alleging that the three commanders were longtime pals, that they took along their wives and that it was perceived as 'no more than a taxpayer financed vacation to London, England for six close friends to celebrate.'

"At the time, two of the Navy officers had just been selected for promotion to one-star admiral. The anonymous whistleblower acknowledged that many aspects of the trip might be 'technically legal' but asked Navy investigators whether it would "stand up to ‘The Washington Post Test.'?" In other words, what if The Post found out about it - would it provide embarrassing material for a news story?" More here.

Meanwhile, are the military's senior leadership problems reminiscent of "frat boy antics?" The WaPo's Amanda Bennett (wife of former WaPo owner Don Graham, who still owns Foreign Policy), writing in the WaPo: "...On one level, it's not surprising that these [senior officers] thought they could have it all. For the most part, they could. They could be powerful, respected, well paid, influential - and never had to outgrow their frat-boy behavior. There was never any real blowback. Even as public displays of bias or crudeness became unacceptable, these men figured out how to show two faces. Many learned that it paid to mouth platitudes about "zero tolerance" and "equal opportunity" but that there was no real incentive to walk the walk. After all, they could check off the human resources training, give the 'respect for all' speech and still tell crude jokes - or worse - on the golf course. But little by little, we are seeing that, as we might tell 5-year-olds, choices have consequences.

"...Now the consequences are becoming personal. The realization that this type of nonsense might actually harm one's career will help speed the shift in behavior in ways that mere concerns about fairness, or even national security, did not." Read the rest of her piece here.

 

National Security

FP's Situation Report: Schweitzer in the doghouse

Nuland speaks undiplomatically; DoD won't mothball the George Washington; Peace talks in Pakistan; GI Joe looks amazing at 50; The dog of war; and a bit more.

By Gordon Lubold

A brigadier in the doghouse: Martin "Smoking Hot" Schweitzer disciplined by Dempsey. CNN's Barbara Starr: "Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey has privately disciplined one of his top generals, who has been investigated by the Army for sending an inappropriate e-mail about a female member of Congress, CNN has learned. Two senior U.S. military officials said Brig. Gen. Martin P. Schweitzer was ordered by Dempsey to no longer participate in weekly briefings to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about the movement of troops around the world. The Pentagon has been under scrutiny for several lapses in ethical behavior among top generals and in the ranks.?Hagel has publicly made ethics a top priority."

Cutting Schweitzer out of the meeting illustrates frustration at the highest levels about ethical lapses. Starr: "It's an extraordinary action to take because Schweitzer, as deputy director of regional operations for the Joint Chiefs, oversees a highly classified briefing about information presented to Hagel weekly. It's one of the most critical briefings at the Pentagon because the secretary of defense is asked to sign each military order to send troops to any locations overseas." Schweitzer, in a statement, called his comments "a terrible attempt at humor." Details here.

What did Schweitzer say? The WaPo's Craig Whitlock, first reporting all of this Jan. 26: "...Last summer, Army prosecutors were combing through the e-mail accounts of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, a commander facing a court-martial on sexual assault, adultery and other charges, when they uncovered a raunchy exchange with two other generals. The exchange started in March 2011, when Schweitzer, then a colonel and the deputy commander for operations for the 82nd Airborne Division, held a meeting with Ellmers, a newly elected House member whose district included Fort Bragg. Schweitzer gave a pointed summary of the meeting in an e-mail to a superior, Maj. Gen. James Huggins, while copying Sinclair, then a fellow colonel and an 82nd Airborne commander.

'First - she is smoking hot,' Schweitzer wrote. 'Second - briefing went well .?.?. she was engaging .?.?. had done her homework. She wants us to know she stands with us and will work/push to get the Fort Bragg family resourced.'

"That, and what came next, led prosecutors to turn over the e-mail chain to the Army inspector general for a full investigation. 'He sucks :-) still needs to confirm hotness,' Sinclair teased in a reply. More than an hour later, Schweitzer responded with an apology for the delay, saying he had masturbated '3 times over the past 2 hours' after the meeting with the congresswoman." WaPo story here.

Welcome to Friday's edition of Situation Report. If you'd like to sign up to receive Situation Report, send us a note at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com and we'll just stick you on. Like what you see? Please tell a friend.  And if you have a report you want teased, a piece of news, or a good tidbit, send it to us early for maximum tease, because if you see something, we hope you'll say something -- to Situation Report. And one more thing: please follow us @glubold.

Undiplomatic speak: "F--- the EU," says State's Victoria Nuland in a leaked phone recording. In a clip posted yesterday on YouTube, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs is heard speaking to the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine about the turmoil in Kiev. The WaPo's Anne Gearan: "In the call, Nuland ... was dismissively referring to slow-moving European efforts to address political paralysis and a looming fiscal crisis in Ukraine. But it was the blunt nature of her remarks, rather than U.S. diplomatic calculations, that seemed exceptional. Nuland also assessed the political skills of Ukrainian opposition figures with unusual candor and, along with [ambassador] Geoffrey Pyatt, debated strategy for their cause, laying bare a deep degree of U.S. involvement in affairs that Washington officially says are Ukraine's to resolve." American officials were quick to finger Russia as the source of the recording, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying the recording "was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government. I think it says something about Russia's role." The State Department acknowledged the authenticity of the call and said that Nuland had apologized to EU officials.

The Russians have a word for this kind of illicitly-obtained juicy material, writes Gearan: "Kompromat," meaning "compromising materials."  Full story here.

No lie: The Pentagon scraps plans to mothball the carrier George Washington. The WSJ's Julian Barnes on Page One: " The Pentagon has dropped a plan to retire one of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers after the White House intervened to head off a brewing political fight. The military had proposed an early retirement of the USS George Washington, reducing the U.S. carrier fleet to 10, as part of plan to deal with cost cuts imposed by Congress. That touched a nerve among a bipartisan group of lawmakers, who called on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in a letter last week to block the move and preserve what they argued is a potent symbol of American power. The behind-the-scenes battle illustrates how politics often complicates the task of wringing savings from the U.S. military budget. Lawmakers, facing pressures from defense contractors and local communities, often oppose proposed cuts to military bases, aircraft and shipbuilding programs and weapons systems." Read the rest of his bit here.

Peace talks got started in Pakistan, after all. Representatives of the government and the Taliban negotiated Thursday in Islamabad after a meeting scheduled for Tuesday fizzled when the government side never showed. Salman Masood in the NYT: "After almost four hours, both sides described the talks as ‘cordial and friendly.'" More here.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Taliban have ramped up their violent campaign against the media. On FP, Beenish Ahmed writes that a January triple murder of Express News employees may mark a watershed moment: "a wholesale targeting of the press as part of the organization's propaganda war against the Pakistani state..."

"‘The way that Express News is being picked out and targeted, makes absolutely clear that we are being given some sort of message, 'Fahd Husain, director of news at Express TV, said as the network shifted into live coverage of its murdered employees. Not long after, while the bodies of the slain still lay under white sheets, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan called in to the channel to take responsibility for the shooting: ‘Express TV, like a lot of other Pakistani media outlets, is acting as propagandists against the Pakistani Taliban,' he said in an attempt to justify the attack on live TV. What happened next was even more astonishing: Express anchor Javed Chaudhry began to negotiate a sort of informal peace settlement with the TTP, offering coverage on demand in exchange for security." The bizarre interaction continues.

Army intel system in Afghanistan slammed...by the soldiers trying to use it.  Military.com's Brendan McGarry: "U.S. Army units in Afghanistan say the service's multi-billion-dollar battlefield intelligence system is so complicated and unreliable that they continue to use commercial software instead, from Microsoft PowerPoint to Palantir.  That's according to a Nov. 3 internal assessment of the service's so-called Distributed Common Ground System, or DCGS (pronounced "dee-sigs"). Military.com obtained a copy of the previously undisclosed memo, which includes feedback on the technology from several units serving in the country.  The 130th Engineer Brigade arguably had the harshest criticism: ‘DCGS continues to be; unstable, slow, not friendly and a major hindrance to operations at the [battalion] level and lower, organic [joint staff communications-electronics directorates] being unable to work on them, requiring an entire set of private IP addresses that do not ‘work' with the rest of the domain structure, unstable [tactical entity databases], system ‘upgrades' that erase or lose all of the user's data, woefully inadequate computing power, and the loss of ~3-5 calendar days per month due to systems issues.'"  Yikes-read the full story here.

Dog of war: the Afghan Taliban have captured a military canine. ISAF officials confirmed that the war's only canine POW is a British dog that went missing during a mission in December, according to the BBC. Bearded Taliban fighters paraded the dog, called "Colonel," in a video, and also brandished assault rifles and grenades of the type used by American forces. The BBC's David Loyne: "Dogs are considered unclean by Afghans, and their use by international forces in house searches has been controversial. Rumors and myths have risen among insurgents about the capacity of dogs, including the widely held belief among Taliban fighters that the dogs are trained to kill."

FP's rundown of the story, which credits Air Force Times' Jeff Schogol for digging up (like a bone!) the fact that the dog is British, not American. Read that here.

Into the Penalty Box for evading sanctions on Iran.  The NYT's Rick Gladstone:  "The Obama administration penalized nearly three dozen companies and individuals in eight countries on Thursday, accusing them of evading Iranian sanctions.  It was the administration's most extensive enforcement action to target Iran since a temporary international agreement on that country's disputed nuclear program was completed in November and put into effect last month.  Announced by the Treasury Department office that oversees sanctions enforcement, the punishments were at least partly devised to send a message that the United States is not relaxing economic pressures on Iran, apparently to blunt an atmosphere of optimism that has resulted from the temporary nuclear agreement. This week, Secretary of State John Kerry criticized France after it sent a large trade delegation to Iran.  ... A Treasury announcement said the enforcement action had singled out "a diverse range of entities and individuals located around the world" for evading American sanctions aimed at Iran. There was no immediate comment from the Iranian government."  Read it here.

Meanwhile, Rouhani's brother walked into the only Jewish hospital in Tehran to deliver cash money. The NYT's Thomas Erdbrink: " The brother of Iran's president walked into Tehran's only Jewish hospital on Thursday, delivering a surprise donation along with the message that the Health Ministry would give more attention to hospitals that traditionally serve Christian and Jewish Iranians." Said a nurse by telephone: "We are very happy...This is a good sign." Read the rest here.

Homeland Defense:  "Test Run" for attacking the U.S. electrical grid?  The LATimes Evan Halper and Marc Lifsher:  "Shooters armed with assault rifles and some knowledge of electrical utilities have prompted new worries on the vulnerability of California's vast power grid.  A 2013 attack on an electric substation near San Jose that nearly knocked out Silicon Valley's power supply was initially downplayed as vandalism by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the facility's owner. Gunfire from semiautomatic weapons did extensive damage to 17 transformers that sent grid operators scrambling to avoid a blackout. 

But this week, a former top power regulator offered a far more ominous interpretation: The attack was terrorism, he said, and if circumstances had been just a little different, it could have been disastrousJon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission when the shooting took place, said that attack was clearly executed by well-trained individuals seeking to do significant damage to the area, and he fears it was a test run for an even larger assault." 

Where's the love? There's the love: The LATimes references the WSJ story that ran earlier this week on page one, but unlike the WSJ, it also references the Foreign Policy story by Shane Harris more than a month ago - on Dec. 27. Read Shane's story here. Read the full LAT article here.

Speaking of the homeland: Former Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson this morning delivers his first major address as Secretary of Homeland Security. He'll speak at the Wilson Center at 11:30 this morning, then there will be a Q&A with the Wilson Center's Jane Harman. Watch it live right here.

More Money for Missile Defense?  Andrea Shalal-Esa reports for Reuters that "The U.S. Defense Department plans to ask Congress for $4.5 billion in extra missile defense funding over the next five years as part of the fiscal 2015 budget request, say congressional sources and an expert.  Nearly $1 billion of that sum will pay for a new homeland defense radar to be placed in Alaska, with an additional $560 million to fund work on a new interceptor after several failed flight tests, said Riki Ellison, founder of the nonprofit Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, and two of the congressional sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly.  ... The request is expected to garner bipartisan support in Congress, but it may also spark questions about billions of dollars spent over the past two decades on a ‘kill vehicle' built by the Raytheon Co that is used to hit enemy missiles and destroy them on impact." Read the full text here

He's never had to have knee surgery and he looks amazing: G.I. Joe turns the big 5-0. The "movable fighting man" turns 50 this February (but the DOB is a little hazy.) "Joe stood for everything that was meant to be good: fighting evil, doing what's right for people," former Hasbro CEO Alan Hassenfeld told the AP. 1964 price: $4. AP's Chris Carola: "[Joe] remained popular until the late 1960s, as opposition to Vietnam intensified and parents shied away from military-related toys. Hasbro countered in 1970 by introducing 'Adventure Team' G.I. Joes that played down the military connection. Into the '70s, G.I. Joes featured "lifelike hair" and "kung-fu grip" and were outfitted with scuba gear to save the oceans and explorer's clothing for discovering mummies. Hasbro discontinued production later that decade. In the early 1980s, Hasbro shrank Joe to 3¾ inches, the same size as figures made popular by "Star Wars." It has stuck to that size, with the occasional issue of larger special editions." More here.