Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, has asked Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to open an investigation into the comments made by Air Force Maj. Gen. James Post that reportedly said that airmen who have spoken to Congress about the retirement of the A-10 as an act of "treason."
The Arizona Daily Independent quoted Post, the vice commander of Air Combat Command, as saying, “If anyone accuses me of saying this, I will deny it … anyone who is passing information to Congress about A-10 capabilities is committing treason.”
McCain, the new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee took notice of the report and wants to investigate Post's comments. McCain has been one of the key lawmakers to lead the charge against the decision by the Air Force to retire its A-10 fleet in order to clear up resources for the F-35.
“Senator McCain is asking the Secretary of the Air Force to conduct an investigation into this issue,” said Dustin Walker, McCain's spokesman.
The U.S. Code of Military Justice restricts commanders from telling service members not to speak with lawmakers.
Last week, ACC spokeswoman Maj. Genieve David said the command considered Post's comments as "hyperbole" and “the intent of [Post's] comments were to communicate the Air Force’s position and decision on recommended actions and strategic choices faced for the current constrained fiscal environment.”
She added, “Our role as individual military members is not to engage in public debate or advocacy for policy.”
The Air Force is seeking to retire its fleet of almost 300 of the Cold War-era gunships, known as the Thunderbolt II and nicknamed the Warthog, even as pilots fly the aircraft — whose snub-nose packs a 30mm cannon — in the Middle East to attack targets affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Congress rejected the service’s requests to begin the process of divesting the low, slow-flying aircraft this year and included about $337 million in the budget to keep it in the inventory. While they did allow the Air Force to move as many as 36 of the planes to back-up status, they blocked the service from sending any of them to the bone yard.