01 August 2008

Why the Air Force will be alright

Yes, Defense Secretary Gates asked both our top civilian and our Chief of Staff for their resignations. Yes, a nuclear-loaded B-52 flew from Minot to Barksdale, and then the wing failed a subsequent inspection. Yes, a missile crew didn’t properly secure a crypto device before they went to sleep. Yes, we shipped nuclear missile fuses to Taiwan. Yes, DoD and the GAO are taking over the selection of our next aerial refueling tanker. So how is it possible that an organization mired in so many “scandals” is alright?

Because adversity is inevitable and the men and women of the Air Force have not walked away from our core values: Integrity is always first; Excellence is in everything we do; and Service to our nation is put above personal needs.

Gen Schwartz is ready to take the helm and has the right background to revector the AF. With Special Ops, airlift, and Joint Staff experience, he’s got the right background. In his last job at USTRANSCOM, he worked joint issues directly supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He didn’t do this wearing an AF hat…he did this by taking requirements from frontline troops and filling it with the right capability from the right service. It’s that “Joint” mentality that makes him the right person to lead the AF right now.

A nuke crisis? No. Each incident is separate and falls under the control of a different major command. The B-52? Air Combat Command. The missile crew? AF Space Command. The fuse shipment error? AF Materiel Command. The commonality? They were all AF. Don’t get me wrong, they were all significant oversights. But we’re correcting things. For instance, 8th Air Force is splitting off all of its Cyber-related missions to re-concentrate on its bomber fleet.

Finally, the on-going tanker saga. Was anyone really surprised that there’s a re-compete? On a projected $100 billion deal? It was inevitable that the loser would protest, no matter who the AF chose. If they had gone with Boeing, Northrup-EADS would have protested and Congressmen from Alabama would have called foul. GAO taking over and making the final call was the only outcome possible.

The AF isn't in a downward spiral. We'll keep doing what we do best--dominate in the air, space, and cyber space.

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