Gates vs. the Air Force

GATES vs. THE AIR FORCE….The competition between Boeing and Northrop Grumman to build a new fleet of aerial tankers for the Air Force has been opened up yet again. That’s no surprise after the GAO’s June report criticizing the procurement process, but this part is sort of interesting:

At a Pentagon news conference, [Defense Secretary Robert] Gates said the competition would not start all over again, but instead Boeing and Northrop would be asked for amended proposals to deal with the GAO’s criticisms. Gates said his office, and not the Air Force, would evaluate the new submissions.

….Gates’ decision to strip the Air Force of oversight of the new competition is the latest in a series of high-profile setbacks for the service.

Gates has a real war going with the Air Force, and this is the latest skirmish. There’s probably not enough time left in the Bush administration for him to do any real damage to the flyboys, but I wonder how hard he’ll try to get his successor to continue the fight? He really seems to have decided that the Air Force is seriously out of control and needs a big-time slapping down.