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Defense secretary scolds Air Force for war effort
Defense secretary scolds Air Force for war effort
Defense secretary scolds Air Force for war effort
Published by gnubittol
04-21-2008
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Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates' complaint about struggling to get more drone aircraft to the battlefield was aimed not only at the Air Force but at the military as a whole.

Still, the Gates remarks come at a stressful time for Air Force leaders, including the service's top officer, Gen. Michael Moseley, and its civilian chief, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne. They have come under fire on a number of fronts, including criticism from some quarters that the Air Force is too wedded to Cold War-era weaponry like the F-22 stealth fighter at the expense of less glamorous items that could be used in smaller-scale conflicts like the counterinsurgency fight in Iraq.

To push the issue harder, Gates said he established last week a Pentagon-wide task force "to work this problem in the weeks to come, to find more innovative and bold ways to help those whose lives are on the line."

He likened the urgency of the task force's work to that of a similar organization he created last year to push for faster production and deployment of mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles that have been credited with saving lives of troops facing attacks by roadside bombs in Iraq.

"All this may require rethinking long-standing service assumptions and priorities about which missions require certified pilots and which do not," Gates said, referring to so-called unmanned aerial vehicles that are controlled by service members at ground stations.

The military's reliance on unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft has soared to more than 500,000 hours in the air, largely in Iraq, according to Pentagon data. The Air Force has taken pilots out of the air and shifted them to remote flying duty to meet part of the demand.

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