Good Cop, Bad Cop on Pod Issue

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee at Tuesday’s confirmation hearing (see above) took different tacks over the Air Force’s newly announced mobile command workspaces for senior leaders. Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) called the details reported widely in the media “regrettable” and “very unfortunate” and asked Gen. Duncan McNabb to clarify his responsibility in the matter. McNabb, now vice chief of staff, noted that he had not been involved in the program since leaving his post as head of Air Mobility Command, however he emphasized the importance of the service’s leadership transport mission, including the need to ensure that all security, communications, and safety standards were met in the process. McNabb’s explanation did little to assuage Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) who said that it was “offensive to the American taxpayer” to use global war on terror funds for such an expense and took umbrage with the fact that AMC had the seats reupholstered into a different color leather. She said the issue speaks to a culture that treats funding like “monopoly money.” The Air Force has said that it launched the effort because there’s a shortage of transports for VIPs headed to Southwest Asia, the center of current global war on terror operations, so thought using GWOT funds was appropriate but now has found other funding. McCaskill wanted further assurances from the prospective Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz, who said that if confirmed he would make a “strong ethical culture” in the Air Force a personal priority.