Will "Return The Vigor And The Rigor To All Processes And
Newly sworn-in Air Force Chief of
Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz pledged Tuesday to "reinvigorate" his
service's acquisition woes and mishandling of nuclear weapons.
Schwartz (right), who was sworn in as chief of staff earlier in
the day, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that the
service is fundamentally sound. "It doesn't mean we're perfect," he
said. "And we certainly have work to do, things to fix, fences to
But the Air Force being able to ship 2,000 Georgian soldiers
from Baghdad home to Tbilisi this past weekend demonstrated that
"we know how to operate, and we continue to support the joint team
in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Precision and reliability are the Air Force standard regardless
of job or specialty, Schwartz said. "We will return the vigor and
the rigor to all the processes and missions ... for which we have
been entrusted," he added.
The general said the service will "work with a vengeance" to fix
areas that are substandard. "And the United States Air Force will
remain the finest air force on the planet," he said.
Schwartz shared the dais with Acting Air Force Secretary Michael
B. Donley. The secretary, who is in his second stint as acting
secretary, said he and the general have several issues to address
including the nuclear enterprise; care for wounded warriors; the
service's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance posture;
the acquisition process; and modernization and recapitalization.
Still, the Air Force's main priority, is "our continued support for
the global war on terror," he said.
Air Force leaders are undertaking efforts this month to look at
all those issues, Donley said, "and expect to address several of
them, both in the immediate term and the longer term, within the
next month or two."
Donley and Schwartz replaced Air Force Secretary Michael W.
Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley.
As ANN reported, Defense Secretary Robert M.
Gates asked for their resignations following an investigation that
revealed a decline in the Air Force's nuclear program focus,
performance and effective leadership.
Donley said he and Schwartz will examine all reports of internal
Air Force investigations into incidents at Minot Air Force Base, ND
in which nuclear weapons were unknowingly flown to Louisiana, and
with Taiwan, in which parts of a Minuteman missile were shipped to
Taiwan mislabeled as helicopter batteries. They are waiting for
input from a panel led by former Defense Secretary James R.
"So we'll be able to take input from the Schlesinger panel, then
take about another 30 days to work out our roadmap," Donley said.
"I wouldn't want to speculate on the organizational structure that
comes out of this. What I can promise you is that we're taking a
comprehensive look at this issue. So this is not onesies and
twosies and a handful of fixes. This is across the board."
Schwartz agreed, saying changes in the nuclear program will be
"end to end." He said that when dealing with nuclear weapons,
perfection is the standard.
Schwartz and Donley (above) said servicemembers they have talked
to are more than willing to put in the hours and effort necessary
reinvigorate the service. "My pledge to all today is that the Air
Force will keep the promise to our teammates and to our families
and to all our partners who rely on us every day," Schwartz said.
"That trust is critical, is born from expertise, respect for our
joint partners, and rigorous accountability. We will work together
to reinvigorate the Air Force's institutions and show ourselves
completely worthy of America's trust."
(Aero-News thanks Jim Garamone, American Forces Press