Air Force Design Divas Request First Class ‘Comfort Capsules’

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Flat screen TVs, leather chairs, cherry wood, “aesthetically pleasing” carpeting and wall and ceiling treatments—sounds like the makings for some mack daddy digs, huh? Members of the Air Force brass thought so too, as they oversaw two programs designed to provide senior military leaders with luxury aircraft accommodations costing millions of dollars, some of it diverted from counter-terrorism funds.

According to records obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, which calls these first class upgrades “a gross misuse… of taxpayer dollars,” only “world class” accoutrements would do when it came to Senior Leader In-Transit Comfort Capsules (SLICCs)—”comfort” was later changed to “conference”—and Senior Leader Intransit Pallets (SLIPs), readymade senior officers’ quarters that can be loaded onto a variety of military cargo planes.

After receiving the first of four SLIPs that were requisitioned, at an estimated cost of $1.66 million, General Robert McMahon, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations, and mission support was apparently less than satisfied with the finished product and requested that additional funds be spent to bring the accommodations up to his standards. “He directed that the leather be reupholstered from brown to Air Force blue leather and to replace the wood originally used to cherry,” POGO’s executive director Danielle Brian wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday. These changes alone cost an additional $113,000—about $84,000 of that to redo the four seats in each SLIP. A financial update [PDF] on the SLIP and SLICC projects in March noted that “cost increases have virtually all been in the area of materials and other non-labor costs due to the expense of SLICC/SLIP components and costs incurred by changing design details that were previously finalized.”

As Brian points out in her letter to Gates, paying millions for a handful of tricked out cabins seems a wee bit egregious given the “deplorable state” of the seat pallets used to transport the troops. She writes, “This case is just the latest in a long string of examples which illustrate a disconnect between the senior leadership of the Air Force from the increasingly pressing needs of servicemen and women (including those inside the Air Force) in the current and likely near term conflicts our country faces.”

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate