Retired General Norton Schwartz’s Legacy is Iraq, Mikey Weinstein

Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen (Ret) Norton Schwartz was on a book tour recently, having recently completed his “Journey: Memoirs of an Air Force Chief of Staff.” In an interview supporting the tour and a local book signing, the writing journalist focused on two things.

First, the state of the military as it relates to Iraq, Afghanistan, and future conflict:

After more than 15 years of intense focus on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, the U.S. military is not as ready as it needs to be to fight against nations like North Korea and Russia…

Second, religious freedom:

As Air Force Chief of Staff, Schwartz received some push back and criticism for issuing an Air Force-wide memorandum in 2011 emphasizing the separation of church and state.

That memo, of course, was famous — more accurately, infamous — at the time, and it would eventually be encapsulated in a new Air Force regulation, AFI 1-1. The core sentiment is the one Michael “Mikey” Weinstein still cites today — using the Air Force’s own rules, written by Gen Schwartz, as a bludgeon against religious freedom in military.

And remember, the MRFF has intimated in the past that Mikey Weinstein was the reason the Air Force published those rules.

Weinstein claims to have been chummy with Gen Schwartz, claiming they talked on the phone multiple times a week (though sometimes Weinstein was too busy watching TV to take the call). Apparently, though, Weinstein felt the CSAF never went far enough — and Weinstein excoriated Gen Schwartz as a result (after he retired, of course).

Interestingly, Gen Schwartz himself claims his direction as Chief of Staff on “religious neutrality…might be the most lasting contribution of [his] tenure.” That “lasting contribution” was essentially reversed after he retired.

So you’re retiring after nearly 40 years in the US military, and your career is summed up with ‘we didn’t anticipate IEDs in Iraq” and hostility to religious freedom via Mikey Weinstein.

How’s that for a legacy?

If you’d like to read the actual autobiography, it’s available on Amazon.


One comment

  • William Robinson

    A sad legacy indeed, but one that has not gone unnoticed by his CSAF successors.

    However well-intentioned Schwartz may have been (and he probably had good intentions), the fact is he and his TJAG partner in crime at the time gave a fox the keys to the hen house. A whole bunch of chickens were torn to shreds as a result.

    Thankfully, every subsequent CSAF saw how Mikey turned on Schwartz and thus learned a powerful lesson. Which is why almost nobody in the Pentagon (with the occasional notable exception of the off-base DoD IG) gives Mikey the time of day. That’s progress—painful, hard-earned, destructive progress—but progress nonetheless.