The Chill of the Mountain Air

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on June 10 finished his two-day tour of three major Air Force bases that he undertook to meet face-to-face with airmen and explain the reasons behind the Air Force leadership shakeup on June 5 and call on them to apply high standards of excellence in all they do. Interestingly, Reuters news service, which had a reporter accompany Gates on the trip, reported June 10, that while the rank-and-file airmen were respectful, Gates faced a less than enthusiastic crowd at Peterson AFB, Colo., home of Air Force Space Command. After all, AFSPC falls within the service’s nuclear community—the focus of Gates’ criticisms—since it oversees the nation’s Minuteman III ICBM fleet. At Scott AFB, Ill., the last stop on Gates’ tour, the mood was “lighter,” Reuters reported, attributing this likely to the fact that Gates has chosen one of Scott’s own, Gen. Norton Schwartz, head of US Transportation Command, to be the next Chief of Staff. Gates visited Langley AFB, Va., home of Air Combat Command, on June 9, his first stop.