The confirmations of Gen. Norton Schwartz to be Air Force Chief of Staff and Gen. Duncan McNabb to replace him at US Transportation Command did not go as smoothly as the Administration had hoped. There were two in the Senate Armed Services Committee who opposed Schwartz and one of those also opposed McNabb. Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) held three additional hearings—all behind closed doors—on the Schwartz nomination, apparently achieving satisfactory assurances from Schwartz, since Levin sent the nomination forward. However, Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) remained unconvinced and addressed the Senate to explain why he opposed the nomination, saying he had “very strong feelings” about Schwartz who “was asked repeatedly to give answers to a question for which I personally believe there were answers.” Also opposing Schwartz was Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said he was “a very good guy,” but added and included McNabb in this rebuke, “There have been times when they were not completely forthcoming when asked questions by a Congressional committee.” McCaskill, in particular, had questioned McNabb over his role in the development and purchase of the so-called luxury pods to transport VIPs on standard airlifters.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.