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More Bushites Stay; Schwartz's Gutenberg Speech

The Obama administration nominated three senior Bush Pentagon appointees yesterday to remain in their posts, including the key positions of Air Force secretary and undersecretary for intelligence.

I first heard about Michael Donley, SECAF, staying on during a late afternoon press conference held by him and AF Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. An obviously pleased Schwartz told us Donley would staying on, something that caught a number of industry and Air Force sources here off guard. I wouldn't say they were displeased, but the pretty universal sentiment was, why doesn't Obama put his own people in. Of course, now Donley, the veteran intelligence leader Jim Clapper and Mike Vickers, who holds the sensitive post of assistant secretary for special operations/low intensity conflict, can now all claim to be Obama's people...

In other news from the conference here, Schwartz gave a speech that left many observers scratching their heads. Don't get me wrong. Listening to an Air Force chief of staff talk about the story behind Gutenberg's development of that amazing technology known as movable type, plus one about a Greek slave sculptor risking his life to unveil the image within stone, sure beats the dry fluff many of his predecessors have tried to pass off as insight.

And Schwartz clearly used the speech to keep rebuilding the service, telling the compelling story of an Air Force special tactics forward controller, Zach Reiner, who won the Air Force Cross for an action in Afghanistan where, despite being wounded three times he directed over 50 attacks by our aircraft on enemy positions from his perch atop a 60 foot cliff. "Does anyone doubt our Air Force is all in?" Schwartz challenged the audience.

But the coming "period of austerity" clearly has Schwartz worried and he tried to use the stories about Gutenberg and the Greek guy to impress his audience with the importance of continuing to push for technical innovations and keep good people working on them even though money may be tight. Schwartz clearly knew it was not one of his best speeches. When I asked him to clarify what message he was trying to send the troops and confessed the speech had left me somewhat bemused, Schwartz said his wife had had much the same reaction.

On the F-22, Schwartz told reporters that he had given Gates a revised production plan this week. Lockheed had threatened to begin shutting down the line on March 1 and this may postpone that.

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