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First Class for Brass on Air Force Jets?

POSTED: 01:00 PM ET, 07/18/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Comfort Capsules
An Air Force document specified that the capsule's seats are to swivel such that "the longitudinal axis of the seat is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the aircraft" regardless of where the capsules are facing. (Special to The Washington Post).

The Air Force's use of more than $16 million in counter-terrorism funds for "comfort capsules" on military planes has prompted an internal debate over whether taxpayer money should be used for luxury Defense items.

Air Force officials say the government needs the new "capsules," which will be installed aboard Air Force aircraft, to ensure that leaders can talk, work and rest comfortably in the air. But the top brass's preoccupation with creating new high-flying luxury in wartime has alienated lower-ranking Air Force officers familiar with the effort, as well as congressional staff and a nonprofit group that calls the program a waste of money, The Post's R. Jeffrey Smith reports.

Internal Air Force e-mails documenting the decision making for the planes were provided to The Post by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit Washington group, and independently authenticated. They show that the mobile pallets feature plush, swiveling leather chairs, beds, a couch, a table, a 37-inch flat-screen monitor with stereo speakers and a full-length mirror.

The Project on Government Oversight sent a complaint letter regarding the spending to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

By Derek Kravitz |  July 18, 2008; 1:00 PM ET
Previous: Picks of the Week: 'Suspect Soldiers,' Arizona Immigration, Timber in the West | Next: Deputy Quits Troubled U.S. Whistleblower Office


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Typical officers abuse of power,money, their troops, and the American public. Will anyone be held responsible for it? I think this administration encourages this kind of behavior, and in so doing, shows it's total disregard for the young men it sends to death every day. No one will be held accountable.

Posted by: Rob Milford | July 18, 2008 1:28 PM

Oh come now they already have executive style shelters that go on transport aircraft, this is simply an upgrade to those. Also I served for 20 years and I can't imagine somebody "Complaining" about how/when/where/why senior offiers travel. There was a term used RHIP (Rank Has it's Privileges). Sorry but privates are not treated the same way as majors.

Posted by: PJ | July 18, 2008 2:03 PM

Where are their priorities? We've got record deficit and outstanding national security issues, and we're worrying about the additional comfort of officials in the air? Have we forgotten that our past governments and military leaders have achieved a lot more with a lot less (winning WWII comes to mind). Rank may have its priviledges, but not at the expense of our counter-terrorism funds. Kudos to the lower-ranking AF officials, congressional staff, and the non-profit group for having a lot more commonse sense -- and for have a real sense of priorities.

Posted by: CAC | July 18, 2008 2:13 PM

Man in uniforms are not heroes. They do that for a living..period. So do not treat them as if they are some kind of god.

Posted by: Kratos | July 18, 2008 2:16 PM

"An Air Force document specified that the capsule's seats are to swivel such that "the longitudinal axis of the seat is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the aircraft" regardless of where the capsules are facing"

Surely that's just a technical way of saying, "when the plane goes nose down in a crash we want people facing nose forward ( or backwards ) to improve survival rates". The way it is presented is as if it is some sort of extraneous luxury we should be outraged about.

Posted by: Jason Bloomberg | July 18, 2008 2:28 PM


Posted by: WILMA | July 18, 2008 2:30 PM

>> Man in uniforms are not heroes. They do that for a living..period.

I fundamentally disagree with that statement. US military personnel are entitled to a level of respect that goes with the potential sacrifice.

That said, come on...fighting terrorism at 30,000 feet is tough work. Plush seats were designed to cushion the asses of the generals getting reamed by Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney. General Shinseki comes to mind.

Posted by: BravesWin | July 18, 2008 2:31 PM

LikeBravesWin states, these are meant for DV's like Congressional Delegations, Cabinet Secretaries, and Generals. Using these pods will SAVE money. The current alternative is to use a VC-21A (a military Learjet) for a dedicated mission. With these pods, DV's can be loaded on a C-17 with other cargo, reducing the need for two aircraft, crews, and fuel.
Some people just like to whine before they get all their facts.

Posted by: Smoke_Jaguar4 | July 18, 2008 3:13 PM

When I was in the Army, our commanders flew right next to us in the same exceptionally uncomfortable jump-seats we NCOs and Enlisted suffered in. I understand the pressure and physical demands our military leadership is under, but it's really best for them to be as much a part of the hellishness of war as the rest of the military routinely endures.

Posted by: Rob Mc Lain Palmer, AK | July 18, 2008 3:30 PM

During World War I the Generals drank brandy and smoked cigars in palaces; while their men were ground into blood sausage in the trenches. No difference. Today we hear speeches about how they honor the brave soldiers getting their brains jellied in unamored Humvees while Air Force generals demand custom BLUE leather on their flying thrones - are you surprised?

Posted by: oneStarman | July 18, 2008 3:33 PM

I am prior AF, but please do not let that make you think it influenced my opinion, because it never has, and it never will.

I absolutely believe it is a necessity to have these 'comfort capsules' on our aircraft. Should we be meeting with dignitaries and other foreign officials while sitting on dirty, old, nylon web seats? I think not . . . let us show a little deference and sophistication, they already think us Americans are all trailer trash (Yes, they can get Jerry Springer on their TV's too!). They will not treat us with respect if we do not show them the same.

Now, as a prior "flyer" (I had to ride in the back - medovac), would I have liked these seats? Sure, LOL, but that is not what the government is spending the money for. Do not think it does not help us have a more advantageous station in our negotiations with key guests from other countries. By treating them obsequiously, I would think they would conclude that we expect to be treated properly as well.

Posted by: Airman Linda | July 18, 2008 3:37 PM

Having flown in the back of transport aircraft, I can attest that these capsules would be necessary for SENIOR diplomats or HIGH RANKING military officers. These VIP's need to conduct business and be well rested during these flights, something that is impossible to do sitting on a pull down canvass mesh seat. It is not in the best interest of the nation for these Sr Ranking employees to show up unprepared, stinking like an aircraft, looking like a bag of rags and shouting because they are half deaf from the 12 hour ride. Find something else to complain about

Posted by: Hack writers | July 18, 2008 6:57 PM

Mr Milford states that the administration actually ENCOURAGES abuse of military funds?
Take the tinfoil hat off your head and quit visiting all those comic-book conspiracy sites for a while. If you've ever flown in a military transport, you'd understand the need for quiet and comfort and if you haven't, well......

Posted by: Joe Scavo | July 18, 2008 9:22 PM

>> Man in uniforms are not heroes. They do that for a living..period.
kiss my asstroid.
the place you work does it have confort stuff... well there you have it. dumbasstroid. we all get confort stuff. paid by the company.

Posted by: hellraiser | July 19, 2008 10:46 AM

You want a valid complaint, how about Congress explicitly telling them that these funds were not to used for this luxury. This was taken from the counter-terrorism budget.

Posted by: Robert | July 19, 2008 6:23 PM

Re: held responsible...

I hold you responsible you, you, you... Voter.

Posted by: James | July 21, 2008 11:38 AM

The problem is not the "comfort capsules". The high ranking officers and even the congress men and women need them and deserve them for all the reasons previously mentioned by other writers here. The problem is the price tag. A good crew of carpenters, metal fabricators, and an Airforce supply clerk with an Officemax catalog could make one of these capsules for 1/10th of what the air force is paying to some contractor. I wonder if Haliburton is building these things?

Posted by: Dan Harris | July 21, 2008 12:25 PM

The war on terror will end up being the biggest scam thrown at the american people .... in 10 years we will look back and realize how much money has gone into the pockets of politicians, companies, "military analysts" and others, all in the name of "war on terror" ....

Posted by: BOB | July 22, 2008 1:13 AM

And we thought they were bad leaders. This new Vice has about a week in office and is already planning on spending valuable funds for something that is unnecessary. Why are dignitaries even flying in cargo aircraft when we have a very expensive inventory of high performance learjets and corporate jets that accomodate these people? Why doesn't he just invest money into bringing real officers from other branches to serve in the air force instead of these sissy frat boys/girls like the ones running the Air Force that are more concerned with not getting dirty than the mission at hand. God forbid they break a nail or miss a peticure. P.O.S. leadership, that is all I gots to say, emabarrassment for the entire Air Force.

Posted by: Garbage (just like Mosley and Winn)) | July 22, 2008 11:16 AM

Anyone who thinks that this is ok and needed for our Air Force is on the wrong side of the war. Maybe our crappy military and political leadership should bring the war back home and fight the genius leadership that is more than willing to take funds from something we as Americans find important and replace it with a comfort capsule. Or maybe we should install new beauty salons into these cargo jet so that we can all get our nails done and our hair permed before we go into a hostile environment because that might actually help us win the war!!! Geniuses!!!

Posted by: VOTER | July 22, 2008 11:25 AM

We have to get some skinflint men and women into this new president's cabinet to go after profligacy such as this, and this airplane silliness is just a fraction of the iceberg that's about to sink our ship. I don't mind paying taxes as long as I get something from it besides wider roads. Our arms producers are running the show and costing us more with their excesses and overcharges as it costs to educate an entire country full of children. $1,450 billion of the US budget goes to the military. $68 billion goes to educate children. "Children are our future!" Right.

Posted by: Let Us Eat Cake | July 23, 2008 1:17 AM

to Kratos,

Men (and women) in uniform ARE heroes. You ARE an idiot.

The people in uniform have signed a contract that is a blank check, payable to the People of the United States of America in the amount of Up To and Including My Life.

If that isn't a hero, I don't know who is.

Posted by: BruceH | July 23, 2008 1:51 PM

"If that isn't a hero, I don't know who is."

You are partly correct. You don't know "who is." A uniform does not make a hero. A contract does not. Even being killed does not. Only performing a heroic act makes a hero.

Posted by: robur | July 27, 2008 3:58 PM

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