Ousted brass: Chief of Staff Air Force General T. Michael Moseley
and Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ousted the Air Force’s senior civilian official and its highest ranking officer after it was revealed that nuclear weapons and components were mishandled. Recently, Seraphic Secret published Officer Rot, by Air Force Officer, a clear-eyed view of systemic problems in the Air Force.
Here, Air Force Officer sheds light on these high level Air Force firings.
Yesterday’s purge wasn’t so much a re-commitment to the strategic mission as it was a message to the entire service: GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER.
Now granted, the nuclear mission needs work and the fighter pilots who have run things since Linebacker I & II* have largely ignored the strategic force. Can’t say I blame them, they’re tactical guys. Jet to jet combat is how they think.
Plus, the nuclear mission has been screwed since the early 90s when the Air Force stood down Strategic Air Command. Mighty Mother SAC, once the ruler of all things blue, went the way of the dinosaur and she took her nuclear dominance with her. So we put our ICBMs under Space Command (doesn’t make sense to me either) and our bombers under the conventional weapons orientated Air Combat Command. The Air Force merged the ICBM career path with the Space career path and lost an entire generation of officers who were “grown” to be nuclear experts. Oh, and we also lost control of six bombs for several hours and accidentally shipped ICBM fuses to Taiwan.
You know, little things.
So really, it was only a matter of time. General Moseley and Secretary Wynne just happened to be in the driver’s seat when the decrepit nuke community crashed into the proverbial tree.
Secretary Gates is an old SAC guy, so I understand that he’s reinstituting the old “zero defects” mentality that made Strategic Air Command great.
I also think that Gates just sent a warning shot over the bow of the Air Force as a whole. He’s tired of the acquisition disasters and he’s tired of Air Force generals going behind his back on the F-22. He’s tired of their reluctance to send more UAVs to theater and he’s tired of the Air Force’s clamoring for pricey weapon systems.
Especially when 100 dollar Iranian bombs are killing million dollar weapons systems in Iraq.
I suspect Gates just got sick of all the excuses and embarrassments and ego and finally had the wherewithal to put his foot down.
Questions abound. Will the bomber generals return to their throne? Are the fighter generals done? Will the new Chief and Secretary be company men, or will they be free-thinking innovators who have had it with the bureaucracy and red tape? Will close air support become a primary mission? Will strategic forces grow after 16 years of cuts?
And lastly, can anyone deny that there was—and is—a “rot” in the Air Force ranks?
As an Air Force officer, I sense a wonderful opportunity in this George C. Marshall style cleansing. I hope we take advantage.
Aside, but somewhat related: I ran into a Squadron Commander recently who banned MS Powerpoint in his command. Just mentioning this because I hear there’s vacancy at the top of the chain…
*Operation Linebacker was a strategy to bomb the will to fight out of North Vietnam. The two-part operation caused enormous destruction, but failed to break the NVA. We took terrible B-52 losses during the missions, and the fighter pilots seized on the bomber pilots’ failure—even though the B-52 drivers were trained to fly nuclear strike missions over the pole, not convention missions above dense jungles. The fighter pilots have been in control of the Air Force ever since.
Karen and I wish all our friends a wonderful miracle in Shabbat .