Two months, ago, Gen. Mark Welsh met personally with Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). In that meeting, he agreed that the Air Force would conduct an inquiry into the reprimanding and grounding of three instructor pilots accused of drug use based on text messages unearthed from their personal cellphones.
The three-step review would include an Inspector General investigation into the punishments, a review by an impartial General Officer, and a decision by Welsh himself along with any appropriate administrative remedies to correct the situation.
The first two steps of the process were completed on November 27th. For two full weeks, Welsh has been in possession of the investigative findings and recommendations, and for two weeks he has refrained from making a decision or communicating with the Congressmen or the officers involved. It’s an all too familiar routine with this leader and his staff … giving apparently heartfelt assurances but failing to follow them with swift action.
Hunter, for his part, is wondering how long it should take for the general to simply do the right thing. The letter below, obtained by JQP, was sent by Hunter to the Chief of Staff earlier today.
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I asked the Air Force to comment on the letter and provide any available estimate of the release of a decision by Welsh in the Miley Gate cases. No response was received by press time.
One of the reasons trust in the senior leadership of the Air Force is hemorrhaging in all quarters these days is that nothing ever feels driven by common sense or an authentic leadership impulse. Everything feels governed by political and public affairs calculations, with perceptions, image, and ego trumping principles at every turn.
Welsh got to where he is today by being an effective leader, but he doesn’t seem to be guiding on that star these days. It doesn’t take a leader very long to read the facts, analyze the situation, and take the appropriate action. It doesn’t take a leader two weeks (and counting…) to do the right thing. I dare say a squadron commander taking this long to decide something this simple would be in jeopardy of losing his job … and if not, he should be.
Was the whole investigation a pro forma exercise? Was it just a gambit to quench the thirst for accountability by painting the official picture more ornately … rather than a genuine attempt to find the truth and remedy a situation of clear and obvious wrong? With each additional day of inexplicable inaction, this unfortunate possibility seems more plausible.
Meanwhile, three pilots who proved their innocence with drug tests remain grounded, isolated from their teams and support networks, and left to rot professionally while Welsh and his staff stonewall Congress and the public.
Gen. Welsh, if you’re listening … I have a question. The Air Force is a team built on the idea of velocity. We win because we think, decide, and act faster than our adversaries. From one airman to another, I have to ask, respectfully, what in the hell are you waiting for?
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