Venlet, a soft-spoken realist and three-star officer, was brought in by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates to head the F-35 program after he fired two-star Marine Corps Major General David Heinz in February 2010.
Venlet also helped rebuild trust in the program on Capitol Hill while getting a better grip on the vast and complex challenges internally. While he would have given a different speech in September to Bogdan’s, officials familiar with his thinking said Venlet fully supported the wish to issue a stern wake-up call.
Defense officials say Bogdan’s more forceful style may be just what is needed now. His candor is already winning points among military officials and industry executives alike.
“He’s a very competent professional and very candid - a very strong manager,” said Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top arms buyer, when asked about Bogdan at an event in New York last week. “I’m looking forward to working with him on the F-35.”
3,200 FLIGHT HOURS LOGGED
Bogdan graduated from the Air Force Academy with a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1983, moving on to fly the Air Force’s aging KC-135 refueling planes and many others, logging more than 3,200 flight hours in more than 35 different aircraft.
He later earned two master’s degrees and spent a year working on missile defense programs before moving into the complex and arcane world of Pentagon procurement in 2001. He also worked at Air Force headquarters, and served as the senior military assistant to former Pentagon arms buyer John Young.
“Chris was extremely helpful. He’s very straightforward, open and direct, and I think that’s what’s needed across acquisition programs right now,” Young said. “There’s too much of the lawyers and other people tempering and silencing people.”
Bogdan stayed on at the Pentagon for several months after Ashton Carter - now deputy defense secretary - replaced Young, but Carter soon named him to lead the Air Force’s decade-long effort to buy new refueling planes.