17 officers disciplined in missile misstep
By William H. McMichael and Michael Hoffman - Staff writers
Posted : Friday Sep 26, 2008 8:29:36 EDT
The Air Force has administratively disciplined 15 Air Force officers — six generals and nine colonels — and the Army has similarly disciplined two of its brigadier generals over a mistaken August 2006 shipment of classified ballistic missile components to Taiwan.
While both the Air Force and Army actions are administrative in nature, the Air Force actions have a far more serious tone.
The Air Force generals receiving administrative actions include:
* Lt. Gen. Kevin J. Sullivan, deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support, Air Force Headquarters;
* Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center;
* Maj. Gen. Roger W. Burg, commander, 20th Air Force, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo;
* Maj. Gen. Kathleen D. Close, commander, Ogden Logistics Center, Utah;
* Brig. Gen. Francis M. Bruno, director of logistics, Air Force Material Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; and
* Brig. Gen. Arthur B. Cameron III, director of Resource Integration, Air Force Headquarters.
Sullivan received a letter of reprimand, the harshest penalty meted out to a general. The five other generals received letters of admonishment, considered slightly less harmful to an airman’s career.
Air Force officials didn’t release the names of the colonels or where they are assigned. Their punishments included five letters of reprimand, three letters of admonishment and one letter of counseling. Three of the colonels lost their commands.
All of the punishments dealt solely with the Taiwan incident — not with the mistaken flight of six nuclear-tipped missiles on a B-52 from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., in August 2007.
Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said the punishments “can carry with them substantial consequences for the careers of these officers, including their potential to command, to be promoted, or to retire in their current grade.”
“We recognize the years of dedicated service that these officers have given, but we cannot ignore the breaches of trust that have occurred on their watch,” Donley said.
However, Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz decided not to fire or request the resignations of the officers, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates did when he requested the resignations of former Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne and former Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael “Buzz” Moseley.
The letters will remain in the officers’ records and will be considered when they come up for promotion, which must be considered for performance reports, promotions, assignments, and in certain circumstances, for grade determinations upon retirement.
“We came to conclusion after careful evaluation that we could place our respective trust in their continued service. They certainly are on notice that there is no room for error here and if they should abuse that trust it won’t take but a millisecond to react,” Schwartz said.
In contrast, the “memorandum of concern” the Army issued to its two generals is not punitive in nature and is equivalent to a counseling statement, an Army official said.
The Army officers were identified as Brig. Gens. Lynn A. Collyar and Michael J. Lally III.
The two commanded the Defense Distribution Center in New Cumberland, Pa., a sub-agency of the Defense Logistics Agency that has oversight over 26 distribution centers, including Hill Defense Distribution Depot, Utah, from where the parts were initially shipped.
Collyar commanded the DDC from August 2006 to June 2008, and Lally led the organization from August 2004 to August 2006.
Collyar and Lally were “not directly responsible” for the errant shipment, an Army official said, adding that the Army thinks “both have learned from this experience” and that “both can serve with distinction in the future.”
According to an Army press release, Collyar is the commanding general of the U.S. Army Ordnance Center and School at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., while Lally commands the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, now deployed to Iraq.
In a June report to the secretary of defense — which has never been publicly released — Navy Adm. Kirkland H. Donald found multiple issues related to DLA’s worldwide shipping program, the official said. These included the failure of Hill personnel in March 2005 to physically open shipping containers that were missing certain required markings but whose barcodes mistakenly indicated they contained helicopter batteries.
Inside, however, were four fuses which trigger Minuteman III ballistic missiles — both nuclear and non-nuclear versions. Officials said the missing fuses should have been accounted for during quarterly inventories at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
Donley said the Air Force’s disciplinary measures close out personnel-related matters identified in the Donald report. “We’re not going to go back and second guess the decisions previously made,” Donley said.