Top Air Force Officer, Civilian Asked to Resign (Finally).
After passive-aggressively criticizing their performance in front of their subordinates, Secretary Gates finally axed the do-nothing duo of Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley and Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne. A great piece of news for those of us who care about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The tragedy, of course, is that Gen Moseley was in the position to be fired in the first place. Although I'm sure he was a fine fighter pilot and doubtless excelled as a leader in that realm, he was clearly ill-equipped to deal with the complex, unconventional wars of today. After all, the man's priorities were fighter planes and tankers. Is that really what is adding the most value to our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan? Because the Air Force must now choose whether to have its cake or eat it in defense spending allocations, his balanced budget solution was to pay for this "critical" war materiel by cutting the personnel account to the tune of 40,000 airmen. Really? How about:
1. Bring back the Warrant Officer. This would save the Air Force a tremendous amount of money by drastically cutting down both training costs (no need to pay for four years of college or the 2-5 years of officer training typical of a 20-30 year career) and salary. More importantly, it would have the added benefit of creating a cadre of truly professional pilots and forcing rated officers to become leaders, not just technicians. Rated officers are still necessary for planning and leading flying units, but if your only duties are airplane driver and voting officer, you shouldn't be a commissioned officer. Warrant officers could also replace 50% of the Air Force's missile silo crews, and, I suspect, quite a few other positions.
2. Make all UAV pilots enlisted. See above for rationale. See the US Army and US Marine Corps for how truly feasible and sensible this plan is. Again--I'm not suggesting that the officers who would command and plan operations and training for UAV units shouldn't be qualified UAV pilots. I realize I shouldn't have to say that, but I know from speaking to Air Force officers about this very issue that it will be misconstrued otherwise.
3. Stop paying pilots obscene amounts for incentive and retention pay. At a minimum, only pay them when they are actually serving in a flying billet. The airlines are no longer poaching rated officers like they once were, stop paying this outdated, patently unfair incentive to men and women who are in less danger and perform a less physically and intellectually demanding job than many of their peers.
4. Immediately cease paying bonuses for people to voluntarily leave or are forced out in the force shaping process. Bonuses should only be given for service, not for leaving or being judged at the bottom of one's year group in a particular career field. This creates a disincentive to performance and, more importantly, a tremendous disincentive to the cross-service transfer of qualified Air Force officers to the USA and USMC. An Air Force Captain had the option of voluntarily leaving the military altogether for high 5- or low 6-figure sums, or continuing his or her service in the Army for $5,000. I know of no Air Force officers who took the latter offer.
None of these proposals will ever be effected so long as the Air Force is controlled by obsolescent rated officers who place the preservation of the pilot fraternity above mission accomplishment and national security. Let's hope Secretary Gates understands this and appoints a more suitable CSAF and SAF.