The rumor mill is racing with reports that Gen. Hoss Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will soon leave his post and be replaced by Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff.
Schwartz's ascension has Air Force sources beaming. It has been some time since an Air Force officer has been blessed with promotion to the innermost command circle. "I'm happy [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates is expressing some confidence in my poor, beleaguered Air Force. (Remember, the AF has had more that its share of recent firings, including AFSec Wynne and CSAF Moseley,) one retired officer said in an e-mail.
Schwartz is seen by many Air Force officers as a complete creation of Gates and the pilot coterie may be quite happy to see him go. But he has also earned grudging admiration for his unrelenting efforts to remake the service's culture and get his people to focus on their joint contributions and to earn respect by flying drones, not just fighters. Schwartz's service as head of Transportation Command and his deep commitment to jointness will serve him well in the vice's seat.
Gen. Kevin "Chilli" Chilton, head of Strategic Command, is said to be in line as the next Air Force chief of staff. Chilton is universally respected in the service for his brains and willingness to exercise them in pursuit of whatever mission he is pursuing.