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Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne, left, with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley.

Air Force Shakeup Underlines Row With Gates

June 06, 2008 12:48 PM
by Josh Katz
Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked for the resignations of two top Air Force officials yesterday after a series of Department of Defense blunders and major disagreements.

30-Second Summary

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Thursday’s forced resignations of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Secretary Michael W. Wynne make Gates the “first defense secretary to fire both the military and civilian heads of a service at the same time,” according to The Washington Post.

Gates said that his decision to force out the two officials was “based entirely” on the Donald report, which analyzed the Air Force’s recent nuclear weapons gaffes, the Air Force Times reports. Gates also suggested that this is not the end of the Air Force shakeup.

The Air Force has experienced a string of recent oversight failures. Last August, the leadership came under fire for accidentally flying nuclear-armed cruise missiles across the United States, which were then left unmonitored. In March, news surfaced that the Air Force had mistakenly shipped classified, nuclear materials to Taiwan.

But analysts suggest that the firings may have as much to do with ideological differences between Gates and the Air Force leadership as with the service’s errors.

Gates has stressed his desire to prepare the armed forces more for “small, ‘asymmetric’ wars—wars in which the Air Force takes a back seat to ground forces,” the Wired Danger Room blog writes. The Danger Room claims that the Defense Secretary wants the Air Force to focus more attention on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq than any future conflicts with China or Russia.

Headline Links: Top Air force officials fired

Background: ‘Mislaid Weaponry Prompts U.S. to Order Nuclear Inventory’

Opinion & Analysis: The future of the Air Force

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