Air Force Staff Shuffle

By Dan Dupont / September 9, 2010 at 8:09 PM

Worth noting: The announcement today of the administration's pick of a new vice chief of staff was presaged a few weeks ago right here, in a story written by Inside the Air Force editor Marcus Weisgerber:

Air Force and defense officials are bracing for a cascade of senior service leadership moves that could open the door for Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz to become the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to active and retired Air Force general officers.

Time magazine reported Aug. 12 that National Security Adviser retired Gen. James Jones may step down soon after the Nov. 2 midterm elections, and that Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright is a candidate to replace him. That could open up a spot for Schwartz.

Senior Pentagon officials have been eying Schwartz for about a month to fill the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff position, current and retired Air Force general officers with knowledge of the discussions tell Inside the Air Force. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli -- who in his last assignment served as Defense Secretary Robert Gates' senior military assistant -- is also on the short list for the vice chairman position, according to these sources.

If Schwartz were to become the vice chairman, a series of senior leadership positions could turn over.

Air Combat Command chief Gen. William Fraser is the favorite to become the next Air Force chief of staff, according to the current and retired senior service officials who spoke with ITAF. U.S. Strategic Command boss Gen. Kevin Chilton is also on the short list to become chief, these sources say.

If Fraser is promoted to the chief's job, a handful of moves could ensue involving the shuffling of generals serving on the Air Staff and leading the Air Force's major commands.

One scenario under discussion has Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove, the deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements (A3/5), becoming the vice chief of staff. Lt. Gen. Herbert Carlisle -- commander of 13th Air Force and a former head of the service's legislative liaison division -- could fill Breedlove's slot on the Air Staff. Current Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Howie Chandler is expected to retire.

Another scenario has Breedlove becoming the ACC boss, with Gen. Raymond Johns, the head of Air Mobility Command, shifting back to the Pentagon to become the vice chief of staff. Before taking the reins at AMC, Johns served as the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs (A8). Lt. Gen. Paul Selva, the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, could then become the head of AMC.

Before becoming STRATCOM commander, Chilton -- an astronaut who has commanded and flown the Space Shuttle -- led Air Force Space Command.

More to come.