Closed, For Now

The Pentagon Inspector General’s investigation into whether senior USAF officers exerted command influence to steer a support contract for the Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team to a favored company is closed, Lt. Col. Sharon Sughru of the service’s Judge Advocate General Corps, told the Daily Report April 18. The investigation was requested by Secretary Michael W. Wynne, and the IG’s report back to him concludes its probe. It was then up to Wynne whether to take action, and he did so, ordering administrative discipline on a number of officers, of which only Maj. Gen. Stephen M Goldfein was named. No further discipline is planned, Col. Sughru said. Because Goldfein is the deputy director of the Joint Staff, it will be up to his bosses in the joint world whether they wish to relieve him of duty. Goldfein does not have to leave the service, but Pentagon officials said the punishment he received effectively stops his career. Senior USAF leaders discussed Goldfein in e-mails and testimony included with the IG report, and noted that it would be difficult for him to pass a confirmation hearing for higher rank because of his involvement in the affair. Wynne is “satisfied” that appropriate corrective action has been taken, Sughru reported. However, there is nothing to prevent Pentagon higher-ups or members of Congress from requesting their own probes of the incident. The 250-page IG report contains accounts and emails that sometimes conflict with one another and may invite further scrutiny of the judgment and motivations of some senior officers.