The Pentagon’s inspector general probe into the Air Force’s investigation of a fatal F-22 crash “actually is fairly routine,” said Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz Thursday. Appearing publicly for a speech in Washington, D.C., Schwartz asserted that the IG “has a mandate to ensure that accident investigations comply with service regulations” and that the investigations’ findings “reflect back on the evidence that was collected.” He said this policy “is not specific to this weapon system,” meaning the F-22, and promised full Air Force cooperation. Asked for a fuller explanation as to why the IG launched the probe, an IG spokeswoman said the inspector general has “discretion” to examine any activity of the Defense Department. The IG’s “self-initiated evaluation” of the F-22 accident investigation “is one of many” such probes that the IG conducts, she said. “A number of elements play a role in the DOD IG’s decision to initiate a particular assessment,” she added, including “an underlying interest and concern for maintaining and ensuring the safety of our service members.” The spokeswoman said she couldn’t comment further. The F-22 crashed in Alaska in November 2010, killing the pilot.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.