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U.S. defense secretary names new Air Force leadership
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08:54, June 10, 2008

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday he has named Norton Schwartz, the current head of the Air Force Transportation Command, as the force's new chief of staff.

Gates said in a statement he also recommended Michael B. Donley, the Defense Department's director of administration and management, to be the next secretary of the Air Force.

If confirmed by the Senate, Schwartz would be the first U.S. Air Force chief of staff without serving as a fighter or bomber pilot, according to the military.

Former Air Force Chief of Staff T. Michael Moseley and Secretary Michael W. Wynne both resigned last week over errors in the handling of nuclear weapons and parts.

In announcing the resignations, Gates said that systemic problems with the Air Force had been revealed from the two incidents -- the shipment of nuclear missile fuses to Taiwan and the cross-country flight by an Air Force bomber wrongly armed with nuclear weapons.

In the statement, Gates described Donley's current position as being "essentially charged with running the Pentagon and its many complex operations."

According to the military, Schwartz has served in many different positions in the Pentagon and is currently in charge of its extensive transportation network and world operations.

"I am confident that Mike Donley, and General Schwartz and the new Air Force leadership team have the qualifications, skill and commitment to excellence necessary to guide the Air Force through this transition and beyond," Gates said in the statement.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said President George W. Bush planned to nominate Donley, who would start to serve as acting secretary on June 21 until his nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

"The president is confident that Mr. Donley has the experience and knowledge necessary to help ensure a smooth transition at the Air Force," Perino said.


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