Gates fires Air Force leaders

Defense Secretary Robert Gates ousted the Air Force’s top military and civilian leaders Thursday, holding them to account in a historic Pentagon shake-up after nuclear missile warhead fuses were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan.

Gates announced at a news conference that he had accepted the resignations of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley and Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne — a highly unusual double firing.

Gates cited two embarrassing incidents in the past year. In one, a B-52 bomber was mistakenly armed with six nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and flown across the country without anyone realizing nuclear weapons were aboard.

In the other, four electrical fuses for ballistic missile warheads were mistakenly sent to Taiwan in the place of helicopter batteries. Gates said an internal investigation found a common theme in the B-52 and Taiwan incidents: “a decline in the Air Force’s nuclear mission focus and performance.”

In somber tones, Gates said his decision to remove Wynne and Moseley was based on the findings of an investigation of the Taiwan debacle by Adm. Kirkland Donald. The admiral found a “lack of a critical self-assessment culture” in the Air Force, making it unlikely that weaknesses in the way critical materials such as nuclear weapons are handled could be corrected, Gates said.

The Donald report is classified; Gates provided an oral summary.

“The Taiwan incident clearly was the trigger,” Gates said when asked whether Moseley and Wynne would have retained their positions in the absence of the mistaken shipment of fuses. He also said that Donald found a “lack of effective Air Force leadership oversight” of its nuclear mission.

Gates said he would make recommendations to President Bush shortly on a new Air Force chief of staff and civilian secretary.


  1. gradioc

    I hope Gates is starting a campaign to change the whole culture of the Air Force, which, frankly, scares the Hell out of me. I think we will always fight against the perception, from 30,000 feet, that war can be sanitized and pinpoint and perfect. Groundpounders know better.

    But what really scares me about the Air Force is the culture of religious fundmentalism that has taken over The Blue Zoo (The Air Force Academy). The (very) Religious (very) Right have made a priority of sending their best and brightest to Boulder for decades and converting a United States Service Academy into Bob Jones University (West). There’s lot’s of “voluntary” prayer meetings with your superiors (both cadet and cadre). There’s a real indoctrination regime going on where these young people are being taught that Armegedden is upon us.

    These people control the greatest nuclular arsenal in the history of the Earth. They’re being taught that it’s God’s Will that the Earth end soon. I’d say changes are in order.

  2. Kibitzer

    Well spotted, gradioc. But can Gates be counted on doing the job? And what if a false flag op is set off before a new, cleaner Administration can be put in place?

    More reason to keep the heat on for impeachment proceedings of at least Cheney. The Bush Administration needs to be shaved of its power before next January. (Without Cheney, Bush is the lamest of ducks.) In the meantime, all we can hope for is that military leaders, retired and active duty, are realizing the dangers pressing in on the Republic, and will send a message to the current Administration in no uncertain terms that they will not stand for the country and the Constitution being hijacked by the arrogant elite behind the scenes, for their ulterior purposes.

    It’s time to call this hand.

  3. Sandra Price

    I remember working at Hughes Aircraft on the Falcon Missile program during the Korean War. This kind of lax transfer of nukes in any form would have brought about an immediate change of leadership in the branch of our services no matter which branch! Apparently the leadership all the way down the line is broken.

    Didn’t we discover that during Clinton’s Administration some top secret documents were given to or stolen by China?

    It seems that Americans are now being screened by the government and yet the transfer of nukes is ignored. When our top government is weak, our Service Academies are being run under a religious concept we might as well give up even trying to run a clean and secure government.

    Republicans and Democrats alike are more worried about which God our candidates worship and less about which part of the Constitution takes priority over the people. I give up, my America is weakened, cheap and focused on religion, not security. This must stop!!! How?