U.S. Air Force Secretary Wilson Could Be Fired

U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson

Foreign Policy reports that U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson might be on the way out because President Donald Trump is angry over slow progress on setting up an independent space force.

Wilson, a former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico, recently angered Trump as well as Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Defense Secretary James Mattis’s second in command, with what is seen as a campaign to undermine the Space Force effort, the sources said.

The news comes just weeks after an explosive new book by journalist Bob Woodward alleged that members of Trump’s Cabinet, including Mattis himself, are quietly trying to undercut or slow roll the president’s orders. An anonymous op-ed published in the New York Times last month described similar resistance within the administration.

In the current case, the administration believes Wilson also “is trying to undermine this part of the president’s agenda from within,” said one source with knowledge of the internal debate.

“Some senior officials know how to disagree with [the president] without being disagreeable to him. Heather Wilson hasn’t managed to do that. Her opposition to the Space Force has grated on him and I think he permanently sees her as troublesome and ineffective now,” an administration official told FP.

  • Steve

    If she is going to openly disobey the commander in chief, then she should be fired.

    Have a discussion about policy, then let the President make a decision. Once the policy is decided, everyone needs to follow that policy. The Air force secretary does not serve independent from the rest of the administration branch. Mattis has agreed to move towards a Space Force, so that’s 2 of her superiors.

  • Tom Billings

    Wilson is a politician, who trusted her staff. The Air Staff handed her a plan, that has been properly characterized as “Malicious Compliance” with the Commander-in-Chief’s order to produce a viable plan for a Space Force that would move resources into the upcoming MilSpace problem areas, that the Air Staff has refused to address for 50 years. This is, basically, the time since General Bernard Schriever retired.

    I find less fault in Wilson than in the people who fed her that plan, both in the Air Staff below her, and in the congressional patrons of the USAF. It is intended as a “poison pill” for a Space Force’s legislative hopes, but much of the poison may have coated Secretary Wilson’s own hands. It may yet prove incapacitating to her job a Secretary in any Administration insisting on a Space Force.

  • P.K. Sink

    Nothing but anonymous sources here. Could be true…could be a misinformation campaign.

  • duheagle

    She serves at the pleasure of the President. If the President is not pleased, he can hand her her walking papers. Simple as that.

  • Robert G. Oler

    This would be a great loss. Trump is an idiot and has no clue what he is doing. She does…she is one of the brightest lights in space policy that is currently under oath…and knows where the battlefield is going particularly in space.

    She serves at the pleasure of the President but the President is an idiot…and while he can fire her…he would be an idiot to do so.

  • delphinus100
  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    To spawn a space force and do it right is probably going to take 6+ years of thinking things out between the current branches of the armed forces, the intelligence community, and the Congress. If the scuttlebutt is right about Trump’s short attention span and child like temperament then yes, he’ll interpret doing the job right as delay tactics in an effort to undermine the execution of his personal will. And more people than Trump view the presidency as an instrument for the triumph of the will of the chief executive. Anyone with this viewpoint will have no appetite to do the job right.

    As for not being able to disagree with Trump in a way that’s not disagreeable to him. Note that the only women who apparently can or could before they fell out of favor were or still are the kind of hyped up beauties who could be on the cover of a magazine. Notice when Trump want’s to convey the emotional depth of something lost, or something to be considered precious, he always calls it beautiful. Not to mention how long he has to go into makeup every day. The airbrush job alone must be an hour every day, and man his daily dental care is something I really look up to. Amazing teeth.

  • Tom Billings

    “To spawn a space force and do it right is probably going to take 6+
    years of thinking things out between the current branches of the armed
    forces, the intelligence community, and the Congress.”

    In short, long enough to make sure that someone else is Commander-in-Chief. The key here being that someone dependent on the Party *not* in power today be determining who gets what tasks, and the resources to accomplish them, when a government hierarchy is put in place. Delay as a means to undo the results of the 2016 election might work better than imagined impeachment trials, but it shouldn’t.

    Sorry, Andrew, your rant is just too transparent. The continuing pretence that personalities are more important than policies is a by-product of needing something to talk about *other*than*policy*. It is natural for me, and many others, to believe that this is because the policies that are obviously needed would fracture the progressive movement to the point that it cannot take power.

    When you are willing to talk about MilSpace policy, then we will be interested in listening. Till then, this has as much interest as a Senate confirmation hearing.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Expected from you, so much of your posts are cheap serial filler. The space force has to deal with the division of labor between itself and the NRO on recon and surveillance, establish how to transfer ownership and people from the NRO to the space force and decide where the cut occurs. The same process has to occur with the US Army over who runs the various ABM systems that the Army operates. With the Navy the new space force has to arrange who will own and operate SM-3, SM-3 land, and what’s to become of NAVSOC and all the hardware and active programs they have? With the USAF the list is longer and more complex. And, how to deal with the US Army/USAF entanglements with NMD. I’m sorry Tom, your retort to my post is a cheap shot. You know I have a deep understanding of active and past weapons systems and programs and how they interoperated and are born of policy. And you also know I’ll persist in an exchange. I’m not some fanboy with emotional ties either way on many subjects. That I hold the current administration is deep disdain is not a secret, nor do I try to hide it. Yes creating a new branch of the the military will take more than the time that’s left of the 1st term of the Trump administration. And I think the short list I gave off the top of my head above in this post is more than the current administration can orchestrate. Within the time frame of the their 1st term and well into their second. The USAAC/USAAF was operating as something akin to the USMC for 20 years before it was finally spawned off in 1947 as the USAF. Look at that list above, you have the NRO, US Army, US Navy, USAF, (NMD – US Army/USAF), not to mention how Congress ties into all this for oversight and funding, and this administration is going to have the where with all to untie all that and turn it into a functioning whole? What this administration is looking for is what it got out of its North Korea policy. A media event for a few hours of news cycle and then months (now) going into years of understaffed and unskilled administration members failing at pulling anything of substance out of it.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I just read your post down below. Look at the two. First your response to Steve was totally about politics. Then you take me to task for being too political. You know what happens when you become too partisan don’t you Tom? You become a hypocrite. You do the very things you find fault in others for and get offended at but don’t notice you do the very same things.

  • Tom Billings

    “First your response to Steve was totally about politics.”

    Since Steve’s post was about the political act of firing a service Secretary, that degree of political detail is appropriate. The act of establishing a new and separate Service had better have a far better ratio of policy to politics involved per decision than that will probably have. Nothing in government is totally free of politics, but your post that ignores policy, for the totally political attempt at removing a President you dislike from the decision-making process involved in standing up that Service contributes nothing to the conversation.

  • James

    Why would you put the people in charge of the pentagon and keeping their dominance on it in charge of making a new RIVAL?

  • Robert G. Oler

    It doesnt matter…the Congress has nixed the idea.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Okay Tom, I’ll go back to my room now, don’t bother sending dinner.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    And rightly so. For the fans of USSF consider this. There is an incoming ballistic missile salvo into South Korea covering rearward tank divisions, divisional command HQ, and political targets. Given the tested capabilities of your ABM systems this is a saturation attack. You can’t defend everything. USSF will have to make the call on what to defend and what not to defend. Today this is an easy call, the US Army will protect their tank divisions with THAAD and Patriot. Will the USSF have command of those assets in when they come into being? If so will they focus the defensive capability on defending host country leadership, or divisional HQ over the tanks? From the UUSF POV they may not think the tanks have more worth than the leadership. If you think that’s silly I can show you all kinds of US Navy articles on how wars can be won by naval power alone, and USAF lit talking about winning wars and conducting ‘occupation’ from 36,000 ft. Each branch of the armed forces are advocates for themselves. A USSF is not going to protect Army armor like the US Army will. I’m not making this up either. In the 60’s the Army was so upset with the lack of tactical air support from the new USAF they tried to institute several fixed wing attack aircraft for the close air support mission. The result was an outright ban on fixed wing combat aircraft for the US Army. Eventually we got the A-10, but that’s always been a bastard aircraft within the USAF. If not done right a USSF can upend all the logic and strategy that gave birth to our current space systems because they’d be run to further the agenda of the USSF and no longer the USAF, US Army, and US Navy. Strategic Command addresses this by being a civilian command with representatives from each branch and the intelligence agency. Stratcom works because it’s a civilian agency and does not create a separate and independent interest group from the Army, Navy, Airforce, or intelligence community.

  • duheagle

    Your hypothetical is, in essence, Benghazi writ large. To the extent your hypothetical would be true it would also represent the culmination of a long history of inattention and incompetence by those entrusted with designing doctrine and force structures to defend all strategic and tactical assets of concern. You, simply out of irrational pique at President Trump for – apparently – merely existing, are all gung ho to leave the usual gang of idiots in charge.

    You correctly note that USAF has neglected the close air support function for even longer than it has ignored space-related asset protection. For what it’s worth, I have long espoused the notion that the Army should retake responsibility for this function from USAF and I hope that would be part of any realignment of force structures and primary mission responsibilities attendant upon standing up a Space Force. Space and close air support are obvious and flagrant areas of USAF failure, but that service hasn’t exactly covered itself with glory when it comes to logistics such as transport and tankers either. The creation of a USSF should be part of a broader zero-based look at all extant USAF missions and priorities.

    Given that Stratcom has existed while all these derelictions have been going on and has done nothing about them doesn’t suggest to me that Stratcom, by virtue of simply existing, is any sort of solution to manifestly real and longstanding problems.

  • Paul_Scutts

    Trump’s an idiot, Bob. He obviously feels intimidated by Heather and feels he has to protect his “precious bodily fluids”, one way or the other. 🙂 Regards, Paul.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Oh please with the bringing up of “Benghazi” you right wing nerds have no clue

    The problem is there is no need for a “arm” of the US military that is purely defensive.

    This is a Trump fantasy rush…along with banging pretty models and calling any female that dare questions the toiliet paper toting idiot…Trump loves to fantasize along the lines of a tough guy who knows what he is doing…and his “fans” love it

    A space force is a joke…there is no “force” in it. Name one offensive capability it would have

  • Robert G. Oler

    This is why EACH military force has their “own” defense systems TO PROTECT THEIR OFFENSIVE SYSTEMS.

    If part of the Triad was in space…say James Bonds Golden Eye 🙂 then it would make sense for their to be a space force to “use” it and defend it.

    It’s unclear that we will ever have that.

    I think your points are well done

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I would paint it larger than Benghazi, it’s the entire post Cold War era. Ever since the Cold War ended we’ve lacked doctrine and strategy. Tactics were not ignored, but everything else has. As to your point about leaving the current gang in charge, yes. They’re less worse than the current administration. Their North Korea strategy is a perfect example. It’s all show and no substance. I’ll let the current set of disarmament actions taken by the NORKS as extracted my Sec Pompeo stand as indications of what I think of how effective this administration looks at changing the post Cold War rot. As of now Pompeo is being taken for the same ride Clinton, Bush, and Carter were taken on. Except they did not give the NORKS a summit, Trump/Pompeo are about to give them two. The second predicated on negotiating what was supposed to be settled business in the first. That my fellow countryman, is our current government being taken for a ride by a much weaker and much smaller player.

    I don’t understand your point about Stratcom’s derelictions. Are you linking them to the perpetual USAF US Army mismatch on the nature of TACAir? Don’t forget Stratcom is an organization who’s prime function is to unify execution of use of nuclear weapons, and probably strategic warfare and WMD in general. They have a lot of overlap with what a USSF might do which is why they’re going to get pulled into it. IMO a USSF only makes sense once space goes maritime. We need to evolve to one. At best a USSF will look and act like Stratcom. That model would kind of work now, but 50, 70, years from now it’ll have to radically change. What we might need now is a Combat Space Command. Like Stratcom it would be a headed by civilians with operating staff from all the branches of the armed forces. The military uses of space are still Earth centric, and that’s going to be for a while. However that will change, and a USSF that’s off planet, but still Earth centric is going to cause a lot of problems for the longer term prospects of changing that Earth centric focus.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Oh don’t get drawn into a Benghazi comparison…

    Your points about the post Cold War strategery are valid and well made. There is no real policy because there is no real diplomatic idea of what we do

    In the meantime the Chinese have one and are executing it across the board….with us being distracted by a wortheless effort (as you point out ) with the North Koreans…and how that changes will be more aabout what happens between the ROK and the NK. The NK no more want war with the US than Saddam did…but who does is the PRC which is working to pick a fight and let it look like to everyone that we bullied our way into it.

  • Kirk

    The problem is there is no need for a “arm” of the US military that is purely defensive.

    This is something I’ve wondered about yet have not seen discussed in other Space Force debates. Lots of people argue that the Air Force has been a poor steward of their space related responsibilities, and that those responsibilities and their associated budgets should be shifted to a new agency, but I’ve never heard it explained why that agency should be a uniformed armed force. If these capabilities do need to be taken away from the existing armed forces, what is the argument against creating a subagency of the DoD, along the lines of the DIA, NSA, NGA, NRO, MDA, etc.?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Yes it could be civilian…but actually I think the present situation is OK…

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Don’t worry, I’m ready. But yes, China is a policy powerhouse. They have excellent policy on just about everything. If they had an inclusive outlook toward building alliances and national friendships, we’d really be sunk by now. One of our saving graces is their race focused outlook. It’s a good thing they can’t make genuine friends with Russia, India, Japan, and S Korea, if they could, our alliances with Japan and S Korea would be done, and our efforts with India would look like a joke.

  • duheagle

    No argument about a lack of doctrine, strategy and, particularly, grand strategy since 1989-91. But your party, which was in charge during the majority of that time, doesn’t really care at all about such things and Bush 43 wasn’t much better than Bush 41 when it came to “the vision thing.” Trump is not an intellectual, but he has a vision of America’s place in the future scheme of things and is commendably flexible about details. As with the economy, simply ceasing to wield a wrecking ball will certainly produce better results than the eight years of arrogant, hubristic incompetence we were subjected to under Obama.

    As to DPRK, in particular, Trump’s approach has yet to fully play itself out, but can hardly be characterized at this point as a failure. Bill Clinton had a North Korea policy that was an unalloyed failure. Obama seemed to have no real North Korea policy at all – that was his failure. Trump is playing the Nicely, Nicely Johnson card to this point and hoping to achieve something significant for little cost. If that fails, Trump can always simply squash the DPRK like an insect – more expensive in the short term, but cheaper in the long term. Trump doesn’t seem inclined to kick perennial problems down the road if he can see a way clear to solving them.

  • duheagle

    Yes, I’m sure the mention of Benghazi is quite upsetting to people whose God-King and his pants-suited minion managed to screw that particular pooch so spectacularly.

    You are correct that there is no need for an arm of the U.S. military that is purely defensive. I have never suggested such a thing. The best defense is always a good offense – namely smashing whatever the enemy is trying to use to smash you. The notional USSF will need considerable teeth to do its job.

    Name one offensive capability it would have?

    It doesn’t exist yet so any suggestions will, of necessity, be forward-looking. But, given that premise, here are at least four classes of such offensive capability:

    1. Kinetic bombardment weapons stationed in orbit.

    2. Kinetic satellite kill vehicles stationed in orbit.

    3. Kinetic missile kill vehicles stationed in orbit.

    4. Directed energy weapons stationed in orbit.

  • duheagle

    The present situation isn’t, in any way, “OK.”

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Actually I really look up to Bush 41’s foreign policy. He wielded the strength of the US with directed purpose and restraint during the fall of the USSR and Desert Storm. The Clinton did well with with German re-unification and holding NATO together when it could have softly gone to sleep. And the terms of the intervention in Kosovo have held for 19 years, think what you want of it, but SE Europe is not the festering wound that looked like it could last forever in 1999.

    From the point of view of effectiveness the Clinton/Bush vision of outsourcing to China and the rest of the world worked great for the rest of the world and China. The major miscalculation of the idea was that nobody would imagine that the US business sector would go socialist abroad and libertarian at home. In other words they get all the benefit of socialism in the form of state provided capital, infrastructure, forced labor terms, and all the benefits of US style free enterprise when it comes to law and taxes. That’s where we’re losing it. Say what you/we want about Clinton/Bush style post Cold War economic policy, it is EFFECTIVE.

    I do admit I’m saying this too soon. However Trumps NORK policy is the Clinton-(Carter)-Bush 43 policy in fast forward. They’re re-offering past promises for new terms, and Trump/Pompeo have no idea what to do. You saying it needs more time …. well, maybe. How long do you want? Are you going to be like Bush 43 who in 2011 was still saying we need more history to find out if Iraq was a mistake?

    The economic side of things … Well obviously we both have pretty different ideas of how an economy works and thrives. In short, I think the Trump bump reflects the fact that the business sector loves a strongman. I’m saying that because the bump started right after the election. If psychology is such a major factor, then I can only raise my hands up in frustration and ask you if it’s a healthy thing for nations to be run so out of proportion by charisma?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Name the threatening systems, and what is threatened, then name the systems or even just architectures needed to address the threat. Be specific.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Benghazi is the cost of Empire (I assume you are talking about the loss of the ambassador) …good people die in themaking of governments when we tear down a government and try and “help”the locals who COULD NOT have torn the government down by themselves…form a government.

    Civil wars do not work that way

    what people like you hae made it into is something that is more than it is. why? its either blind partisanship or just having no clue

    none of those “kill vehicles” or directed energy weapons can be deployed by treaty. next

  • Robert G. Oler

    how is it not?

  • Robert G. Oler

    the Kosovo action was the best American military action since WW2.

  • Robert G. Oler

    at least one thing correct “Trump is not an intellectual”. in fact he has about the same knowledge of the world that Sarah Palin had.

    there is no reason for the US to have a North Korean policy. they are no threat to us