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Complaint: VIP visits constitute waste, fraud

Apr. 24, 2013 - 04:21PM   |  
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(Retired Air Force Col. Craig Wolfenbarger)


Getting ready for a VIP base visit requires so much time and money that one person has alleged an upcoming visit by the husband of Air Force Materiel Commander Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger amounts to waste, fraud and abuse in the current fiscal crunch.

The 75th Air Base Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is expected to spend more than 100 manpower hours getting ready for a visit by retired Col. Craig Wolfenbarger, according to an anonymous complaint to the Air Force Inspector General’s Office.

During the week of April 22, Col. Wolfenbarger is expected to visit Robins Air Force Base, Ga.; Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.; and Hill Air Force Base with Gen. Wolfenbarger, the complaint says. The visits will require preparations by the bases, such as rehearsals, developing storyboards, and writing and reviewing several background papers.

“We are wasting hundreds of manpower hours on a non-required/non value-added trip at the same time we are trying to mitigate the loss of 13 percent of civilian employment hours as a result of pending furloughs,” the complaint says.

The Air Force Inspector General’s Office became aware of the complaint April 18, when Air Force Times asked if it was authentic, said Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley.

“The next step in the process will be to evaluate the complaint and review the validity of the allegations,” Tingley said in an email. “As with any complaint against a four-star general, it will also require review by DoD/IG. It is still too soon to determine whether a formal investigation into the allegations would be initiated.”

Spouses of top Air Force commanders and enlisted leaders serve as mentors and volunteer time supporting families at home and while traveling with their active-duty husbands and wives.

And while the Air Force has limited travel this year, a March 11 memo signed by Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry Spencer and acting Air Force Undersecretary Jamie Morin allows spouse travel for the heads of major commands if the visit has a strong spouse agenda and the active-duty member is along.

Air Force Materiel Command’s legal staff “thoroughly reviewed” the itinerary for Col. Wolfenbarger’s trip to make sure it complied with the requirements in the memo, said AFMC spokesman Ron Fry.

“Colonel Wolfenbarger has an independent and robust visit agenda during this trip, including scheduled dialogue with Air Force officials, military spouses and their dependents to discuss various issues of concern,” Fry said in an email. “His agenda also includes tours of facilities and programs that relate to the Air Force mission, including quality of life, medical, education and child care centers.”

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