Can’t We All Get Along?

Reflecting on the fact that the Air Force—and no other service—has seen three top leaders fired, one resign early, and one publicly reprimanded over the last 20 years, outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said he doesn’t think the service has a problem getting along with civilian leadership. In none of those events was there any suggestion of “malfeasance” or a “criminal context,” said Schwartz on July 24 during his final meeting with Pentagon reporters before his retirement ceremony on Aug. 10. “We work for civilian masters in this country, and that’s the way it works,” observed Schwartz. “All I can do is tell you is that in my own experience, there are lots of reasons for leaving a position . . . and not all of them are what they appear to be,” he added. As for the current “trust” issue with Congress, Schwartz said, “we all know what the remedy is” for that. While he declined to name the cure, he said, “let’s just say . . . making force structure reductions is not for the faint of heart.” (Schwartz transcript)