Longuemare awaits confirmation probe

IN DEFENSE, A CAREER CHANGE

September 27, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Being forced to sell his Westinghouse stock near an all-time low is just one of the penalties of R. Noel Longuemare's new job.

The top executive of Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s defense complex in Linthicum also faces a substantial pay cut if things go as planned this week and he moves into the No. 2 spot in the Pentagon's acquisition office.

But Mr. Longuemare, general manager of the Systems Development and Technology Divisions at the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum, figures it will be worth it if he can make a substantial contribution as the Defense Department embarks on a major reform of its acquisition process.

At 61, Mr. Longuemare didn't set out to launch a career change by becoming deputy undersecretary of Defense.

"I didn't anticipate this appointment," he said in an interview Friday at his Linthicum office. "It came as a complete surprise. But when people like Dr. [John] Deutch [the undersecretary of defense for acquisition] and Dr. [William J.] Perry [deputy defense secretary] asked me to join them, it was very flattering."

The Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled confirmation hearings this week. If he's approved, Mr. Longuemare expects to start his new job Oct. 4.

Mr. Longuemare heads for his new office in Arlington, Va., at a time when the shrinking Pentagon budget is sending shock waves through the defense industry. In his tenure at Westinghouse, he has seen the defense contractor shed thousands of jobs in Maryland over recent years.

That background gained new significance as Mr. Longuemare described what he sees as a critical challenge.

"Everybody realizes that things have to change. We have to be more efficient," he said.

While the Pentagon has to learn how to buy more with fewer dollars if it's to maintain a strong national defense, it also has to be careful not to destroy the defense industry on which it relies, he said.

As an example, he cited the military's expanded use of so-called in-house depots to perform work that had formerly gone to the private sector -- a practice that has drawn loud objections from top defense companies, including Westinghouse.

"Industry needs a larger share of this work if the country is to maintain its military-industrial base," he said. "That's industry's work, and there needs to be a better balance. At this time, too much of it is going to the depots."

Despite the anticipated dealing with corporations, Mr. Longuemare undoubtedly will find himself in situations that feel strange for a man who has spent his entire career at Westinghouse. He will, for instance, be working for the man who earlier this month refused to approve foreign military sales of a controversial electronic jammer Westinghouse makes -- a blow when the company is seeking to expand its market beyond the government.

Mr. Longuemare will also have to excuse himself from decisions involving his old company.

In anticipation of Senate approval, Mr. Longuemare was cleaning out his office last week. The bookshelves were almost bare. One thing remaining was a plastic model of the F-22, the Air Force's next-generation fighter plane.

The model symbolizes an event highlighting Mr. Longuemare's 40-year career with Westinghouse's defense operations. It dates to the spring of 1987, when he was vice president and general manager of the northern Anne Arundel County complex.

The top aircraft manufacturers in the country had been divided into two teams competing for what was to be a major Pentagon contract -- an advanced tactical fighter.

One team was composed of Lockheed Corp, Boeing Co. and General Dynamics. The other featured Northrop Corp. and McDonnell Douglas Corp.

For its part, Westinghouse was in the enviable position of having been selected by both teams to supply the plane's radar. At that time, Mr. Longuemare compared Westinghouse's position to going into the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series with a nine- or 10-run lead.

It was so exciting, he said, "it took me more than a week to come down from the ceiling."

The radar contract is expected to generate several billion dollars in revenues over the life of the program.

Mr. Longuemare joined the Westinghouse Air Arm division, as it was called then, in 1953 after graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso (formerly Texas Western) with a degree in electrical engineering. During his first 10 months as a student trainee, he spent time with each of Westinghouse's seven operating divisions.

But when it came time to pick a permanent post, he said he selected the defense electronics unit "because of the excitement of the technology of the time."

That was during the days of the Cold War and the Korean conflict. One of the programs he worked on was building radar for the Bomarc missile. Bomarc was deployed to counter a threat of a Russian bomber attack on the United States.

He was involved in the design and production of radars used in the F-4 Phantom fighter planes of the Vietnam era and later the radars for the F-16 fighter and B-1 bomber.

Mr. Longuemare has held various posts with the local Westinghouse division before being named to his present position, the No. 2 job, in 1989. Later that year he was elected a vice president of the corporation.

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