|United States Secretary of the Navy|
February 5, 1981 – April 10, 1987
|Preceded by||Edward Hidalgo|
|Succeeded by||Jim Webb|
John Francis Lehman Jr.
September 14, 1942
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Education||Saint Joseph's University (BA)|
Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (MA, PhD)
John Francis Lehman Jr. (born September 14, 1942) is an American private equity investor and writer who served as Secretary of the Navy (1981–1987) in the Ronald Reagan administration where he promoted the creation of a 600-ship Navy. From 2003 to 2004 he was a member of the 9/11 Commission.
Lehman serves on the board of trustees for the think tank Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). Lehman was also a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, commonly called the 9/11 Commission, and has signed some policy letters produced by the Project for the New American Century. He also served as an advisor to Sen. John McCain for the 2008 presidential race, and for Mitt Romney in his 2012 bid.
Education and family
Lehman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Constance (Cruice) and John Francis Lehman, an industrial engineer and decorated United States Navy veteran (Lieutenant Commander). He graduated from La Salle College High School and received a B.S. in international relations from Saint Joseph's University in 1964, gained a B.A. from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (later elevated to an M.A.) and went on to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
He is a first cousin, once removed, of the late Grace Kelly (Princess Grace of Monaco), and is Chairman of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, a public charity established after Princess Grace's death to support emerging artists in film, dance, and theater. He led the American delegation to the funeral of Prince Rainier. He and his family live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and Manhattan. He is a long time Republican.
Lehman served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve for three years while at Cambridge, then in 1968 left the Air Force Reserve and joined the United States Naval Reserve as an ensign, later rising to the rank of commander as a Naval Flight Officer, serving in the A-6 Intruder as a bombardier/navigator. He served on the staff of the National Security Council under Henry Kissinger.
In 1977 Lehman founded the Abington Corporation, a consulting company with clients including defense companies such as Northrop Corporation. He remained its president and director until 1981, when he was appointed by Ronald Reagan to be Secretary of the Navy.
As the 65th secretary, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, Lehman launched the idea of building a "600-ship Navy". He became Secretary of the Navy at 38, a young age that he was conscious of in his dealing with admirals. He was unique in still serving as a commander in the Naval Reserve while being Secretary of the Navy. He developed a strategic concept to counter the threat of Soviet incursion into Western Europe known as the "Lehman Doctrine." The plan called for a military response to any Russian invasion in Europe by attacking and invading the Soviet Far East along the Pacific, a much less defended front. Forces would sever the trans Siberian railroad and fight westward toward Moscow.
Lehman, a naval aviator, was a massive supporter of carrier power. His works as a lobbyist and author in the 1970s led him naturally to support a resurgence of US Naval aviation under Reagan. His support for the 600 ship navy and promotion of the US Maritime Strategy are hallmarks of this. As are his reactivation of the Iowa Class battleships. Both the carriers and the battleships were to announce America’s overcoming of recent Soviet potential superiority by taking a war to their doorstep.
According to Hedrick Smith, in his book The Power Game, Lehman lost a fight at the Pentagon with Deputy Secretary of Defense W. Paul Thayer over lowering the number of future aircraft carriers planned. He immediately went to the White House where they were unaware of Thayer's decision, and obtained a press release declaring President Reagan had named two of the ships USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and USS George Washington (CVN-73), thereby implying that Reagan had endorsed the "600-ship fleet." Lehman was instrumental in the forced retirement of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. Lehman sided with General Dynamics after they falsified inspection records to hide welding flaws on submarines and pushed a settlement that paid them over 600 million dollars for what Rickover called shoddy work. Lehman engaged in a sexual act with a stripper in front of 50-100 spectators in a hospitality suite at Tailhook in 1986, and had been seen cavorting with strippers at earlier Tailhook conventions. Lehman resigned in 1987.
He was subsequently promoted to the rank of captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1989, later retiring from the U.S. Navy as a reserve officer in that rank after 30 years of service. On October 13, 2020, the U.S. Navy announced it was naming the next Arleigh Burke class (DDG-137) destroyer after former secretary of the Navy, John F. Lehman. The USS John F. Lehman is under construction.
Lehman is a former investment banker with UBS AG, Paine Webber, and president of Abington Corporation. As of 2020[update], Lehman is chairman of the private equity investment firm J. F. Lehman and Company, as well as chairman of the Hawaii Superferry. Lehman is chairman of the board of OAO Technology Solutions Inc. He is also an honorary member of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. As of 2005[update], he is a member of a number of influential conservative American think tanks, including the Project for the New American Century, The Heritage Foundation, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Center for Security Policy, and the Committee on the Present Danger.
After his work in the 9/11 Commission in 2002, there was increased speculation that Lehman might be named to a chief security post within the Bush Administration. Positions suggested included Director of Central Intelligence, Director of National Intelligence and Secretary of Defense when Donald Rumsfeld stepped down.
He currently[when?] serves as Chairman of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA and as a director of the OpSail Foundation. He is also a member of the board of overseers of the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a trustee of La Salle College High School. He has served on the board of directors of the Ball Corporation since 1987. Lehman is also an advisory board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy.
On June 26, 2012, Lehman revealed to the staff of the United States Naval Institute and in a speech given in Portsmouth, UK, the Reagan Administration secretly offered the use of the amphibious assault helicopter carrier Iwo Jima as a replacement in case either of the two British carriers, the Hermes and the Invincible, had been damaged or destroyed during the 1982 Falklands War. This revelation made headlines in the United Kingdom, but except for the U.S. Naval Institute, not in the United States.
- On Seas of Glory: Heroic Men, Great Ships, and Epic Battles of the American Navy (2002)
- Making War: The 200-Year-Old Battle Between the President and Congress Over How America Goes to War (Naval Institute Press, 2001)
- America the Vulnerable: Our Military Problems and How to Fix Them (1992)
- Oceans ventured : winning the Cold War at sea. New York: W. W. Norton. 2018.
- "The Executive, Congress, and Foreign Policy: Studies of the Nixon Administration" (New York: Praeger, 1974).
- Command of the Seas: Building the 600 Ship Navy (Naval Institute Press, 2001)
Critical studies and reviews of Lehman's work
- Oceans ventured
- Zakheim, Dov S. (Autumn 2018). "Lehman's maritime triumph". Naval War College Review. 71 (4): 141–146.
- "List of John McCain supporters". Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
- Young, Mary (2008-04-15). "Ex-Navy secretary stumps for McCain in Berks County". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Talbot, George. "Top adviser says Mitt Romney will continue production of Littoral Combat Ship." Alabama Live, 8 October 2012.
- Wangenheim, Constantin (October 10, 2016). "John F. Lehman, Former US Secretary of the Navy, on the South China Sea". The Diplomat. Tokyo. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
- Judith Miller, The New York Times, 27 December 1982, Navy Secretary Said To Keep Ties To Company Aiding Arms Makers
- Allen, Thomas B.; Polmar, Norman (19 August 2017). Rickover: Father of the Nuclear Navy. Potomac Books, Inc. ISBN 9781574884456 – via Google Books.
- Van Voorst, Bruce; Thomas Evans (1984-12-24). "Overrun Silent, Overrun Deep". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Archived from the original on January 13, 2005. Retrieved 2009-03-19.
- Vistica, Gregory L. (1997). Fall From Glory: The Men Who Sank the U.S. Navy. New York City: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-81150-2, pp. 13-14, 391; McMichael, p.19; According to the witnesses, Lehman licked whipped cream from the stripper's nude crotch. Vistica (p. 246) states that Lehman held a dollar bill in his mouth, which the stripper grabbed with her crotch. In the DoD Inspector General investigation report on the 1991 Tailhook convention, Lehman is not mentioned by name in reference to the 1986 incident, instead described as a "senior Navy official" (Vistica, p. 391). When asked about the incident on May 26, 1996 by Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, Lehman responded, "I have to say that the description is far more lurid than the fact." (McMichael p. 345)
- Lehman was reportedly a regular at Tailhook during his tenure as Secretary, and had been seen cavorting with strippers at earlier conventions (McMichael, p. 19) McMichael states that the number of onlookers was 50, while Vistica says it was 100. McMichael, William H. (1997). The Mother of All Hooks: The Story of the U. S. Navy's Tailhook Scandal. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. ISBN 1-56000-293-X.
- "Reagan Readied U.S. Warship for '82 Falklands War". News and Analysis. United States Naval Institute. June 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "Reagan 'cleared US ship for Falklands'". defencemanagement.com. June 29, 2012. Archived from the original on January 2, 2013. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "Latest NOUS Awards". Naval Order of the United States. Archived from the original on 2017-06-03. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
- "Previous Morison Book Awards". Naval Order of the United States, New York Commandery. Archived from the original on August 27, 2016. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
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