Rumor of the Day: A little over two years ago, Don Rumsfeld and the White House tried to break the Navy's stranglehold over leadership of U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), nominating Air Force General Gregory "Speedy" Martin as the next CINCPAC. Unfortunately, General Martin's nomination was eventually scuttled, due to his association with the Air Force/Boeing tanker scandal. Never mind that General Martin was never accused of any wrong doing; his limited involvement with the program was enough to convince John McCain that Martin was not suitable for the CINCPAC job. Martin retired, and two Navy admirals have held the post since that time. As we observed at the time, Senator McCain was hardly a disinterested observer, as a retired Navy Captain, and a son of a former CINCPAC.
Now, Defense Secretary Robert Gates may be preparing another attempt to end the Navy's dominance at PACOM. The buzz in the Pentagon suggests that Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula may have the inside track at becoming the next CINCPAC, replacing Admiral William Fallon. Admiral Fallon got the top job at CINCPAC when General Martin's nomination was withdrawn, and more recently, he has been nominated to replace General Abizaid at U.S. Central Command. Deptula, who currently serves as the Air Force's Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, is a former Vice Commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces.
This recent article in the Honolulu Advertiser lists all the potential nominees, and suggests that Deptula is something of a dark horse candidate. Virtually all of the other prospective nominees --including the Navy candidates--already have their fourth star. But with the growing emphasis on air and space power in the Pacific (to counter threats from China and North Korea), Mr. Gates may decide that it's time for an Air Force officer to lead the command. General Deptula, who's been on the "star" track since his days as a primary air planner in Riyadh during Operation Desert Storm, is supremely qualified to be the next CINCPAC. We'll soon see if Secretary Gates--and the President--agree.