Gates Takes Message on the Road

In the wake of last week’s Air Force leadership shakeup, Defense Secretary Robert Gates will travel to Langley AFB, Va., and Peterson, AFB, Colo., today and tomorrow to personally drive home the message for greater accountability and rigor in nuclear weapon stewardship. The Baltimore Sun reported June 6 that Gates’s spokesman Geoff Morrell disclosed visits to these two bases, home of Air Combat Command and Air Force Space Command, respectively, on June 6. ACC oversees operations of the Air Force’s nuclear-capable bomber force, while AFSPC manages the nation’s Minuteman III ICBMs. Morrell said the trips are meant to “reinforce the message of the supreme importance of safeguarding the nation’s nuclear arsenal,” according to the Sun. Gates will tell assembled airmen that the Air Force “has to do a much better job in that area,” Morrell said. Gates accepted the resignation of Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Gen. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, after an investigation into the mistaken shipment of non-nuclear, yet sensitive Minuteman components to Taiwan in 2006 pointed, he said, to a pattern of declining stewardship for which the Air Force’s leadership was also culpable. This incident built upon the errant transfer of nuclear armed cruise missiles on a B-52 from North Dakota to Louisiana in August 2007.