The Washington Post

The case of the Army’s “invisible” plane

(A C-12 Huron Aircraft)

Well, not actually lost, according to a May 9 Department of Defense inspector general’s report, since it seems to have been used by Army brass (also known as “high priority passengers”) who needed a ride “to give speeches, or attend conferences, meetings” and such.

The Army transferred the seven-passenger, two-crew, C-12 turboprop from the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) to the Army Special Operations Command (ASOC) back in 2000, but then, it didn’t become “visible” in their inventory. (Sounds like the plane, valued at $800,000, sorta disappeared.)

No one was sure who was responsible “for providing oversight and accountability,” the IG said, and this “confusion” made the plane “susceptible to misuse” by senior officials, citing three investigations in 2011 and 2012 of Milair (military airlift) misuse by senior officals, including Gen. William Ward and Admiral James G. Stavridis, the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) based in Belgium.

Stavridis was dinged in a May 2012 IG report for a May 2010 flight down to Dijon, France with his wife, his chief executive office and a rear admiral “to attend a ceremony and event sponsored by the Confrerie des Chevaliers Du Tastevin, an international society of Burgundy wine enthusiasts.”

Stavrides, for his part, argued that “he was not the first SACEUR to be invited and attend” that gathering, which he said was “as good a collection of leaders as one could find at an event in Europe.” Not to mention they’d likely be in a talkative mood.

Ward was cited in a June 2012 IG report for, among other things, flying with his wife on 15 Milair flights that did not provide a “diplomatic or public relations benefit” to the U.S. There was another flight where he improperly took unidentified “members of the media” on a trip.

The IG recommended that the head of SOCOM take over “responsibility for oversight and accountability of the aircraft.” The SOCOM commander has done so, the report noted.

“Burgundy wine enthusiasts?”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.


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