Wynne’s Swan Song

Former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne’s June 5 resignation wasn’t just about taking responsibility for errors in handling nuclear weapons and related materials, but the climax of sustained disagreements with senior Defense Department officials. So said Wynne in a June 20 press conference, a transcript of which has been released by the Air Force. Wynne said he found himself more “strident and challenging” with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gates’ deputy, Gordon England, on a range of issues. Specifically, Wynne pushed hard for the F-22 fighter when Gates and England said no more were needed; Wynne argued against deeper personnel cuts in the service, against “joint basing,” and pressed on with efforts to render USAF aircraft capable of using synthetic fuel after Gates waved him off. An apparently critical point of abrasion was Wynne’s insistence on preparing for future wars while Gates demanded total attention on the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Air Force officials said Gates told Wynne to skip the last press conference, or at least refrain from saying what he did, but Wynne went ahead and made the remarks anyway. Wynne said Gates has a right to have people working for him who are “more aligned” with Gates’ policies than Wynne was willing to be. (For more read You Own the Philosophy)