“Staunch Advocate”

Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne received warm praise Friday from the man who compelled him to resign. At a farewell parade and awards ceremony at the feet of the Air Force Memorial just outside Washington, Gates called Wynne a “staunch advocate” for Air Force people, adding that in all their dealings, “he has never swerved from that mission.” Gates also touted Wynne’s contributions to national security in Pentagon acquisition jobs and in industry, where, as a General Dynamics executive, he helped bring the F-16 fighter and M1 Abrams tank into service. He noted that Wynne is “taking responsibility for systemic problems in one of the Air Force’s most sensitive missions” and praised his “willingness, at great personal cost, to live by the same standards of accountability he has instilled in so many people over so many years.” Wynne offered his resignation on June 5 after a Pentagon report found that the Air Force had “lost focus” on its nuclear mission. Wynne, in his own remarks, asserted that “the Air Force is this nation’s asymmetric advantage” and said that during his two and a half year-tenure, “I believe we’ve laid a convincing argument” for recapitalization of the Air Force’s fleet of aircraft, which Wynne noted is older than the Navy’s fleet of ships. He called Gates a strong Defense Secretary with a “passion for winning the fight” of today, and noted his own passion for “preparing the force” for future challenges. Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley presented Wynne with an award for exceptional service. The citation recognized Wynne for having “reshaped the national discussion” about modernizing the Air Force after “years of deferred recapitalization” had caused the service’s technological edge to “erode.”