Major General James Post has been removed from his position as vice commander of the Air Force’s Air Combat Command. The decision, made by the head of the Air Combat Command Gen. Hawk Carlisle, comes as a result of Post telling airmen that speaking to congress about the keeping of the A-10 Thunderbolt fighter plane would be tantamount to treason.
Maj Gen. Post was giving a speech to about 300 Air Combat Command airmen at a Weapons and Tactics review board meeting on January 10 at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. During the speech, Post brought up the importance of standing by the decisions of senior leadership, and loyalty. He also stated that if anyone passed comments to congress on the A-10’s capabilities, that it would be comparable to committing treason. Post added that if anyone asked him about saying any of this that he would deny it.
Some of the airmen’s responses to the comments made by Post were that it left a chilling effect, and that they felt constrained from their rights to speak to lawmakers about decisions such as these. Post, who was also given a letter of reprimand, said that his comments were never intended to hold back any of the airmen from their access to their elected officials. He says he understands how the airmen may have felt constrained and apologizes for this. Post also understands the decision to have him removed from his Air Combat Command post, and realizes that he could have better chosen his words.
The controversy over the A-10 Thunderbolt, also known as the Warthog, has been over the Air Force’s decision to retire the plane from its arsenal over the next few years. The military is planning on replacing the A-10 with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Infantry and some members of Congress have weighed in on the decision to replace the plane by defending the A-10. They say that the A-10 Warthog still holds a very valuable place in the military’s arsenal, due to the excellent job it has done in supporting ground troops in battle in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The replacement of the A-10 with the F-35 will save the Air Force $4.2 billion over the course of the next four years. The F-35 however has been riddled with cost overruns, and delayed deliveries that would most likely not have it ready until at least 2019.
Both Republican Senator John McCain from Arizona and Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire have been the biggest congressional supporters of keeping the A-10. They both see the military’s decision for its removal as short-sighted, and have repeatedly tried to stop the Air Force’s plan for its retirement. Supporters for the A-10 say that it can fly low, and offer more precise ground firing, better than any other aircraft. It is currently being used in battle against ISIS, and in NATO exercises in Germany. Senator McCain’s home state of Arizona has a majority of the A-10s based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and Senator Ayotte’s husband was a former A-10 pilot.
Senators Ayotte and McCain demanded that they wanted answers, and an investigation after Post had reportedly made the treason comments. A satisfied Ayotte hopes that the unfortunate, albeit necessary removal of Post from his position with the Air Combat Command will eliminate any future doubt of a service member’s right to communicate with an elected official.
By Alec Rosenberg
Photo by Timothy Wildey – Flickr License