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American Forces Press Service

Gates to Travel to Air Force Bases as Show of Support

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 6, 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will travel next week to Air Force bases in the United States, hoping to show his support for airmen in the wake of the resignations of the service’s two top officials.

Gates accepted the resignations of Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley yesterday following an investigation revealing a decline in focus, performance and effective leadership in the Air Force's nuclear program.

Gates will leave June 9 for a two-day trip that will take him to Langley Air Force Base, Va., Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and possibly a third base, officials said.

During the trip, Gates will “reinforce the messages … about the supreme importance of safeguarding our nuclear arsenal and its associated components, and how there is no room for error in this line of work, [while] at the same also conveying to airmen … his support for their efforts in the global war on terror, and his commitment to work with them to improve the Air Force,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.

“[Airmen] shouldn’t confuse issues he’s had with their leadership with any lack of support for their effort in the war,” Morrell said. “Fundamentally, this is an outreach to airmen. I don’t think he wants them to be left with the impressions that he has any problems with the Air Force other than those identified … with regards to the handling of nuclear components.”

Morrell said the secretary has nominees in mind to replace Wynne and Moseley and hopes to announce his choices soon, most likely before he leaves on his trip. Gates has spoken to President Bush about his picks for the jobs, but it was not in the form of a formal recommendation, Morrell said.

A Pentagon official speaking on background said the secretary is strongly considering recommending Michael B. Donley, the director of administration and management for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Donley was sworn into his current job in 2005.

Wynne and Moseley will remain in their posts until new leaders are in place. Gates announced Wynne’s and Moseley’s resignations after the release of a report detailing the accidental shipment of four non-nuclear ballistic missile nose-cone assembly components rather than the intended helicopter batteries to Taiwan in August 2006.

After visiting the bases, Gates will travel on to Brussels, Belgium, on June 11 for a NATO defense ministers conference.

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