- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recommended yesterday that Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, a 35-year veteran with a background in Air Force special operations, be the next Air Force chief.

In a sweeping shake-up of the Air Force, Mr. Gates also formally sent former Air Force official Michael B. Donley’s name to the White House to be the next secretary of the beleaguered service.

Mr. Gates announced Thursday that he was removing Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley as chief and Michael W. Wynne as its top civilian. Mr. Gates held them accountable for failing to fully correct an erosion of nuclear-related performance standards.

In an effort to get at least part of the new team in place right away, Mr. Gates also asked President Bush to designate Mr. Donley as the acting secretary effective June 21 - a move that would allow him to begin work without waiting for Senate confirmation. Mr. Wynne’s resignation is effective that day.

Gen. Schwartz was thought to be in line for retirement, and his replacement as head of Transportation Command, Lt. Gen. William M. Fraser III, was announced in April. But on Monday, Mr. Gates recommended that Gen. Fraser be nominated as the next vice chief of the Air Force.

And he said Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, the current vice chief, should move to the Transportation Command job.

Later Monday, Mr. Gates planned to visit Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to address airmen and underscore the depth of his concern about weaknesses in the service’s leadership.

He is expected to stress the importance of leadership accountability and emphasize that despite his well-publicized tensions with the Air Force, he strongly supports the service and appreciates its many wartime contributions.

On Tuesday, Mr. Gates plans to make similar speeches at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, home of Air Force Space Command, which has responsibility for the service’s nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile force, and at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, home of Air Mobility Command, whose tanker refueling aircraft are part of the nuclear bomber mission.

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