Confirmation Vulnerabilities?

Air Force officials don’t think the comfort-pallet story (see above) threatens the nomination of Gen. Norton Schwartz to be Chief of Staff. Although Schwartz is head of US Transportation Command, USAF’s Air Mobility Command is the executive agent for VIP travel. Schwartz apparently had no hand in the comfort pallet issue. Less clear is how the issue will play for Gen. Duncan McNabb, vice chief of staff, who is up to be Schwartz’s replacement at TRANSCOM. McNabb did play a role in setting the comfort-pallet requirements and undoubtedly will field questions about the story during tomorrow morning’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. However, USAF officials said Schwartz, McNabb, and Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley discussed the issue when they made courtesy calls on Capitol Hill last week. Since members of Congress have been among the chief complainers that not enough “business class” transport is available from AMC, the service officials don’t think this will be a nomination-killer for McNabb. Stay tuned.