Shades of Blue

The decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remove Michael Wynne and Gen. Michael Moseley from their leadership posts last week was a clear message with more behind it than just USAF’s reported gaffes in nuclear weapons stewardship, say Pentagon insiders. Indeed the move was a signal for the Air Force to refrain from its calls for preferred systems like the F-22 to prepare for future conflict with near-peers and instead become more “Joint” in its thinking and focus on the current fight, they say. Gates has recommended Michael Donley and Gen. Norton Schwartz to replace Wynne and Moseley, reinforcing this view. Donley likely will be in place only until the next Administration, with time to focus on improving the Air Force’s nuclear oversight and not much else. Schwartz, head of US Transportation Command, had already put in his papers to retire at the end of the year. In his 35 years of service, 15 of them have been in the Joint world, including the past eight. The Gates-imposed changes to relocate Gen. Duncan McNabb to TRANSCOM have also stripped the service of its top champion in the ongoing roles and missions review. McNabb’s replacement, Lt. Gen. William Fraser, currently assistant to Joint Chiefs of Staff, is more suited to oversee the tightening-up of the Air Force’s nuclear enterprise, based on his background, than leading the charge for Air Force systems in the roles and missions debate. (For more read Get in Formation.)