In a scene reminiscent of Darth Vader visiting an X-Wing unit, Maj. Gen. James Post dropped into Osan Air Base in Korea recently for some gripping, grinning, and veiled A-10 loathing.
Post earned notoriety earlier this year after telling a crowd of subordinate officers that sharing with Congress an opinion about the A-10 inconsistent with the Air Force’s desire to send it to the boneyard was treasonous. An Inspector General inquiry found him in violation of federal law.
In response, the Air Force issued a press release claiming Post had been reprimanded and relieved of his position as Vice Commander of Air Combat Command. Many speculated his career was effectively over. The truth is that Post was slapped on the wrist and given a consequential position at the Pentagon where he oversees all Air Force operations.
Fulfilling that new role made him the subject of what Air Force Times’ Stephen Losey termed perhaps “the most ironic official Air Force photograph of all time.”
In an article published by the Osan public affairs team, Post can be seen standing in the shadow of a Warthog as he takes a briefing from a 51st Fighter Wing munitions tech. To anyone familiar with the lore lurking in the background, it’s a scene rich with contradictions.
There are three things we can conclude from this.
1. Post’s career is alive and well. He wasn’t fired, as many believed and as the Air Force perceptually reinforced. He was promoted to a position of greater responsibility at a higher level in the organization.
2. The Air Force remains entrenched in its position concerning the A-10. Sending Post to Osan, putting him in a photo with a Hawg, and beaming that photo around the world … is an unsubtle statement of defiance. Post is the walking definition of the A-10 controversy. By giving him an elevated public profile and associating him with the A-10, officials — including the general himself — are thumbing their noses at opponents in Congress and elsewhere.
3. General Welsh doesn’t think Post did anything wrong. This is supported by the fact that Welsh did nothing to correct the “treason” matter when it was first brought to his attention and has to date never himself addressed the issue. At this point, his silence — combined with Post’s continued ascendancy — can be fairly interpreted as approval.
It’s an odd brand of accountability … one that throws the book at those who commit minor infractions but leaves large-scale perpetrators unscathed. It violates a time-honored rule that there should be a direct tie between the impact of misconduct and the consequences. James Post broke the law in a way that potentially violated the civil liberties of scores of airmen, perhaps distorting the political process. He still has official approval and huge responsibility. Meanwhile, airmen across the force are being hounded for penny ante infractions.
Perhaps Maj. Gen. Post is still in the running for promotion. Should he rise to become Chief of Staff, let’s hope the A-10’s replacement is ready before he gets in the seat.
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