Air Force Chief, Secretary Forced to Resign

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael “Buzz” Moseley has resigned his post, and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne’s resignation is coming next, according to numerous reports (Air Force Times, Reuters, AP).

Noah Shachtman at Danger Room has the background:

The move isn’t exactly a shocker. The Air Force has come under fire for everything from mishandling nukes to misleading ad campaigns to missing out on the importance of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. For months, the Air Force’s leadership has been on the brink of open conflict with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England. In the halls of the Air Force’s chiefs, the talk has been largely about the threats posed by China and a resurgent Russia. Gates wanted the service to actually focus on the wars at hand, in Iraq and Afghanistan. “For much of the past year I’ve been trying to concentrate the minds and energies of the defense establishment on the current needs and current conflicts,” he told the Heritage Foundation. “In short, to ensure that all parts of the Defense Department are, in fact, at war.”

Last fall, the Pentagon’s civilian chiefs shot down an Air Force move to take over almost all of the military’s big unmanned aircraft. “There has to be a better way to do this,” Moseley complained at the time. Things only got more tense when Gates said that the future of conflict is in small, “asymmetric” wars — wars in which the Air Force takes a back seat to ground forces. Then Gates noted that the Air Force’s most treasured piece of gear, the F-22 stealth fighter, basically has no role in the war on terror. And when a top Air Force general said the service was planning on buying twice as many of the jets — despite orders from Gates and the rest of the civilian leadership — he was rebuked for “borderline insubordination.”

Relations between Gates and the Air Force chiefs soured further when the Defense Secretary called for more spy drones to be put into the skies above Iraq and Afghanistan. The Air Force complained that all those extra flight hours were turning the robo-plane’s remote pilots into virtual “prisoners.” Gates then publicly chastised the service during the drone build-up, comparing it to “pulling teeth.”

Related from WPR:

Strong Stuff from U.S. Defense Secretary Gates

Are Unmanned Airplanes the U.S. Air Force’s Salvation?

More to come . . .

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