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John M. Donnelly


John M. Donnelly is a senior writer for who specializes in defense and writes CQ's Executive Briefing-Defense, a blog on national security and defense issues. Prior to his arrival at CQ in 2004, he worked as a reporter (and later editor) at Defense Week, a newsletter that covered the Pentagon, the defense industry and the congressional defense panels. He has netted numerous awards for investigative reporting, and he is a frequent guest on television and radio news programs. He serves on the board of the National Press Club and is a member of the Standing Committee of Correspondents in Congress. He has a bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary and he graduated from Gonzaga College High School in Washington.

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Stories by John M. Donnelly:

Gitmo Closure Cost Emerges as Sticking Point

Dec. 4, 2015

Several of President Barack Obama’s leading GOP critics on Wednesday seized on reports that Pentagon officials believe replacing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, with one in the United States could cost more than half a billion dollars.

Pentagon Quietly Paid Teams in All Major Sports to Honor Military

Nov. 4, 2015

The Defense Department paid millions of dollars in the last several years to the wealthy owners of teams in every major sport for demonstrations of support for the military, a new Senate report says.

Official Claims 'No Elevated Risk' To F-35 Pilots, Despite Evidence to Contrary

Oct. 22, 2015

Pilots now flying the F-35 fighter jet are not at any unusual risk due to an unsafe ejection seat, the program’s director told a House panel Wednesday, even though an internal Pentagon document he signed appears to contradict that statement.

Official Confirms 'Serious' Risk to Wide Swath of F-35 Pilots

Oct. 21, 2015

Most F-35 pilots who have to eject during take-off or landing while wearing the latest helmet face a “serious” danger of major injury or death, a senior Air Force official said in a written response to a CQ query.

Ejection Injuries Generally Not Caused by Seats

Oct. 21, 2015

As long as you are only flying at about half the speed of sound, an ejection from a U.S. military fighter jet probably won’t kill you—or even hurt much.

EXCLUSIVE: F-35 Ejection Seats Could Endanger Many Pilots

Oct. 16, 2015

Nearly 1 in 3 pilots who will fly the F-35, the military's $159 million fighter jet of the future, runs a heightened risk of fatal whiplash during an emergency ejection, according to defense officials and internal documents obtained by CQ.

Pentagon Warning on Consolidating Corporate Power May be Too Late

Oct. 5, 2015

A Pentagon warning last week about excessive consolidation in the defense industry comes ahead of a multibillion-dollar contract award for a new bomber that, depending on who wins, could make the problem worse, some analysts say.

Wide Political Fallout Expected From Massive Nuclear Bomber Deal

July 29, 2015

In a few weeks, the Pentagon will announce the companies picked to develop America’s next bomber jet, sparking a budget war that will last for years and reshape the defense industry, experts say.

Exclusive: U.S. Spends Scores of Millions Annually on Unused Afghan Buildings

July 29, 2015

The U.S. government is spending $110 million a year operating several hundred unused buildings for Afghanistan’s government, CQ has learned.

Bomber Must Fly Through Enemy Airspace on Capitol Hill

July 29, 2015

No matter which company wins the new B-3 bomber deal, the program’s advocates will start facing the first of many budget battles before any metal has been bent.

Experts Set Off Alarms Over McCain's Defense Acquisition Overhaul

July 16, 2015

Senate-passed legislation intended to improve the Pentagon’s troubled acquisition system may end up having the opposite effect, according to a growing number of experts.

Congress Added $10 Billion Plus Since 9/11 for Secretive National Guard Fund

June 3, 2015

The equipment for America’s National Guard and Reserve is increasingly funded through an account that contains money not requested by the president, not capped by the budget law and not subject to much open oversight, according to assessments by CQ and the government spending monitors at Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Lawmakers Poised for Fight Over Nuclear Missile Subs

May 29, 2015

Congress is girding for a showdown over how to pay a looming bill of at least $139 billion for acquiring new nuclear-missile submarines.

Military Construction-VA Appropriations by the Numbers

April 14, 2015

House appropriators unveiled a spending bill this week for military construction and veterans programs that would fall short of what the president wants, but would boost spending over the current level.

Appropriations Markup Puts GOP in Tough Position Of Balancing Defense, Veterans Spending

April 14, 2015

The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill House appropriators planned to mark up Wednesday clearly illustrates the dilemma of Republican congressional leaders this year in trying to hold the line or reduce spending while not shortchanging their most sacrosanct areas of government — national defense and the care of veterans.

Pentagon to 'Adversaries': Space Is Not A Good Place to Start War

March 17, 2015

Worried that U.S. military satellites have become increasingly vulnerable to attack, the Pentagon plans to spend a scarce $5 billion on new initiatives over the next five years to protect them.

Growing Bipartisanship in Support of a Slower Withdrawal of U.S. Troops From Afghanistan

Feb. 24, 2015

It’s starting to look like the United States will keep military forces in Afghanistan longer than planned. A growing number of key Senate Democrats have quietly joined Republicans and Pentagon leaders in advocating a slower withdrawal and a longer stay for U.S. troops because of concern about the security situation.

Obama's AUMF Is After the Fact, Beside the Point

Feb. 11, 2015

President Barack Obama sent Congress today a legislative proposal that purports to approve war against the Islamic State while limiting the U.S. role in the conflict. It does neither.

Fight Over the Fate of Gitmo Rages On in Congress

Jan. 13, 2015

Within hours of last week’s mass killing at a satirical magazine in Paris, Sen. Kelly Ayotte was on the Fox News airwaves arguing that the terrorist attack illustrated the folly of the Obama administration’s efforts to close the U.S. military-run prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Guantanamo Will Be Closed Before Obama's Term Ends, Ex-Official Predicts

Jan. 13, 2015

The former State Department official charged with closing the Guantánamo Bay detention facility predicted over the weekend that President Barack Obama will keep his promise to shutter the prison before ending his term.

Senator on ISIS War: Congress 'Giving Away' Constitutional Authority to the President

Dec. 3, 2014

As the House finalizes funding for anti-Islamic State operations, Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Angus King, I-Maine, hammered the administration on the Senate floor Wednesday for failing to seek a new war authorization, while calling on Congress to debate an authorization before recessing for the holidays.

Kaine, who has previously criticized President Barack Obama's unilateral action against the group also known as ISIS or ISIL, said failing to debate a measure would be "disrespectful of the troops," while King said it would be "one more giving away — of our constitutional authority to the executive."

"Giving this president — giving any president — a green light to wage unilateral war for five or six months without any meaningful debate or authorization would be deeply destructive of the legitimacy of the legislative branch of our government, it would be deeply disrespectful of our citizens and it would be especially disrespectful of the troops," Kaine said.

Cracked Engine Blade Grounds Entire Fleet of F-35 Fighters

Feb. 22, 2013

Defense Department officials notified Congress Friday that ground and flight operations for the entire F-35 fighter jet fleet, comprising all three variants of the plane, are being halted indefinitely.

Navy Is Putting High Priority on Preventing Suicide

Dec. 9, 2012

The Navy’s No. 2 officer has to contend with a $156 billion budget, complex global deployments and more than 400,000 active duty and reserve sailors. But one of his highest priorities these days is suicide prevention.

Rise of Military Suicides Driven By More Than War

Dec. 9, 2012

An emotional Max Baucus took to the Senate floor recently to talk about an article in his home state’s top newspaper that he said “hit me in the gut.”

Coburn Blasts Pentagon For Jerky, Brewery Funding

Nov. 15, 2012

An outspoken Republican spending hawk questioned Thursday why, in an era of austerity, the U.S. military tapped a program for developing new weapons to create a delicious new beef jerky.




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