Gates Announces Recommendations on Senior Air Force Leadership Positions

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates…

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has recommended that President Bush nominate Michael B. Donley, the Defense Department’s director of administration and management, to be the next secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, to become Air Force chief of staff. Donley would replace Michael W. Wynne, and Schwartz would replace Gen. T. Michael Moseley, both of whom resigned last week in the wake of a report critical of the service’s oversight of its nuclear weapons program.

In a statement released this morning, Gates described Donley’s current position as being “essentially charged with running the Pentagon and its many complex operations,” and noted that Donley served as assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management in the first Bush administration and, for a period, as acting secretary of the Air Force.

Gates also recommended that the president designate Donley as acting Air Force secretary, effective June 21.

As commander of TransCom, Schwartz is in charge of the Defense Department’s extensive transportation network and worldwide operations. He has served in senior joint military positions as director of the Joint Staff, director for operations for the Joint Staff, and deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, Gates noted in his statement.

The defense secretary also has recommended that Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, Air Force vice chief of staff, succeed Schwartz at TransCom. McNabb has spent most of his three-plus decades in the Air Force in the areas of lift, refueling and logistics, “making him an ideal candidate to assume the helm of this command,” Gates said in his statement.

The secretary also is recommending that the president nominate Lt. Gen. William M. Fraser III, assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to follow McNabb as the next Air Force vice chief. In his current position, Fraser is the chairman’s chief liaison and advisor on international relations and political-military matters. “In addition to his numerous flying and command assignment in the bomber community, General Fraser has extensive wartime, contingency and humanitarian relief operational experience,” Gates said in the statement announcing his recommended nominations.

“I am confident that Mike Donley, General Schwartz and the new Air Force leadership team have the qualifications, skill and commitment to excellence necessary to guide the Air Force through this transition and beyond,” the statement concluded.

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  • I believe this is a much larger problem in the Air Force then we realize. To say Secretary Wynne and Gen Moseley are at fault is not completely true and to say it is just in the involvement of nuclear weapons is not completely true; what is true is that they did the honorable thing. I understand leadership is from the top and yes they are responsible, but this is a larger problem as a whole which is why I say it is not completely true. Here is what I mean; a former Squadron I was in a few individuals have tried to physically hurt other people, lied, forged documents and committed fraternization. When I tried to stop this and could not, I brought this to the attention of my Squadron Commander who told me to turn my head. I in turn told him I would not and he has held this against me and taken every action he can against me.
    What am I trying to say? The Air Force teaches us we must all get along in a professional environment, which I completely agree with but it is often interpreted we are to turn our heads on everything and if we do not we are hurting the team or individuals which is what led to the problems that the investigative report by Adm Donald revealed. People in the Air Force know they will be attacked for being a whistle blower and instead choose to turn their heads. SECDEF Gates said it best” Embrace accountability in all that you do – for everything in your area of responsibility. When you see failures or growing problems in other areas – outside your lane, as it is often described – throw a flag: bring them to the attention to people who can do something about it” I hope the SECDEF is right as I believe this is the root cause of the Air Force problem.