Duncan Lee Hunter (born May 31, 1948) is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from California's 52nd, 45th and 42nd districts from 1981 to 2009.
Hunter was the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee during the 108th and 109th Congress. Hunter sought the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States for 2008, but his campaign failed to attract significant voters or delegates in early primary and caucus states, and he dropped out after the Nevada Republican caucuses.
He served in South Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 during the Vietnam War in the Army Rangers' 75th Ranger Regiment, attached to the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He participated in 24 helicopter assaults as well as in small-number, night-time reconnaissance patrols. He held the rank of First Lieutenant, and was awarded the Bronze Star, Air Medal, and service ribbons such as the Vietnam Service Medal. He has said, "I didn't do anything special in the U.S. Army, but I served with very special soldiers I will never forget."
Making use of the G.I. Bill in 1973, he enrolled at the San Diego campus of the Western State University College of Law and earned a Bachelor of Science in Law and Juris Doctor in 1976. Hunter worked farming and construction jobs to supplement his income while finishing his degree. He was admitted to the State Bar of California on December 22, 1976, but has held inactive status since January 1, 1983.
Hunter married Lynne Layh in 1973. Hunter's son, Duncan Duane Hunter (born 1976), a Captain in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and Afghanistan in 2007. On November 4, 2008, Duncan D. Hunter was elected to succeed his father as the congressional representative of the California's 52nd congressional district. Hunter has another son, Samuel.
Hunter's family attends First Baptist Church of Alpine, which is affiliated with the San Diego Southern Baptist Association. Hunter's Alpine, California home burned down during the October 2003 Cedar Fire. The loss topped $500,000, but insurance covered most of it. Hunter was critical of then-Governor Gray Davis's response to the fire.[14
House Armed Services
Hunter became chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in 2002. As such, he sponsored legislation authorizing defense department fiscal year activities from FY2004 to FY2007. During consideration of the FY2006 Defense Authorization Act, Hunter offered an amendment to the bill clarifying enacted policy restricting women from direct combat units. Hunter's amendment codified existing Army policy enacted in 1994 under former Defense Secretary Les Aspin that prohibited women from submitting or migrating into combat units or operations. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn in order for a study to be conducted on the rationale and future implementation of the policy.
In November 2004, Hunter and Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner withheld their support for a bill creating a Director of National Intelligence (DNI) until specific conditions were met. Hunter argued that the military is the biggest consumer of intelligence and any reforms enacted, including the creation of a DNI, must not endanger the lives of troops on the battlefield. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which created the DNI position, was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush later that year.
In a House Armed Services Committee hearing on November 9, 2005, Hunter strongly criticized a Defense Logistics Agency "prime vendor" buying program that led to the purchase of $20 ice cube trays and a tiny refrigerator for $22,797 (initially exposed by The State). Hunter stated that he wanted explanations from the companies in question and the government purchasing agents who had approved the purchases, accusing the latter of "absolute incompetence." He further stated that the purchases are "a real slap in the face to the guy making $13,000 a year who is engaged in a firefight in Ramadi," and claimed that "A fairly large amount of incompetence is embedded into the system."
On April 25, 2007, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid declared "the war is lost", Hunter wrote "my highest obligation is, like yours, owed to our forces in uniform, especially during this time of war.... Given your position of leadership within the United States Government, I find your pronouncement of failure irresponsible and disserving to America's armed forces. In light of the fact that this statement has both been used by our adversaries and has exhibited a marked lack of leadership to U.S. troops, I call on you to resign your leadership position". Hunter further wrote that Reid's declaration "can have no effect but to demoralize the brave men and women, who are honorably fulfilling their mission in Iraq, and to encourage our adversaries.... Even if you sincerely believe it to be true, your pronouncement of failure will undoubtedly be used by terrorist leaders to rally their followers — inevitably leading to increased attacks on U.S. and coalition forces".
Other legislative actions
On December 8, 2006, Hunter introduced H.R. 6375, which would have required the defense department to post the purpose of all congressional earmarks in annual defense bills, along with the location and a grade according to the utility of the earmark.
Hunter introduced H.R. 552, The Right to Life Act, on February 2, 2005. The purpose of the bill is to "implement equal protection... for the right to life of each born and preborn human person." In the 109th Congress, the legislation collected 101 cosponsors. Hunter states that The Right to Life Act "would legally define “personhood