Pentagon Official May Head Air Force

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is expected to recommend the nomination of Pentagon management chief Michael B. Donley to head the Air Force, part of an overhaul of the Air Force leadership designed to improve the service's oversight of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and other matters, a senior defense official said yesterday.

Donley, the Department of Defense's director of administration and management since 2005, is Gates's main staff assistant for organization and management planning. In that job, Donley oversees the Washington Headquarters Services, a 1,300-employee entity that manages the Pentagon, as well as the Pentagon Force Protection Agency and the Pentagon Renovation and Construction Program.

Donley is no stranger to the Air Force, having served as assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management from 1989 to 1993, followed by a seven-month stint as acting Air Force secretary, according to his official biography.

If confirmed, Donley would step into a job as Air Force secretary with the expectation by Gates that he initiate systemic reforms not only to strengthen oversight of U.S. nuclear weapons but also to correct an Air Force culture that deflects criticism. "Overall, the Air Force has not been sufficiently critical of its past performance," Gates said Thursday in announcing his decision to oust Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and the chief of staff, Gen. T. Michael "Buzz" Moseley, after a Pentagon investigation identified failures.

Donley held positions in the 1980s on the National Security Council, where he directed defense programs, as well as on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he was a professional staff member.

He served in the Army's 18th Airborne Corps and 5th Special Forces Group from 1972 to 1975. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in international relations from the University of Southern California.

-- Ann Scott Tyson

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