View Full Version : Money Well Spent

05-10-2007, 11:24 AM
10 May Washington Times commentary - Money Well Spent (http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20070509-085430-5139r.htm) by LtGen Raymond Johns, Jr. (USAF).

Is America building the necessary air and space capabilities to defend our nation at home and abroad? This is the essential question with which I have to wrestle as the strategic planner for the United States Air Force. As we are situated today, I have to say that the answer is no.

The dilemma is the age-old one for military planners: how to support our forces engaged in today's fight while investing in the skills, technologies and equipment to confront future strategic challenges. For nearly two decades straight -- the length of an entire strategic planning cycle -- our Air Force has been hard pressed by current operations which have absorbed our resources and attention...

05-10-2007, 02:54 PM
Let me translate: "All these darned pesky little "war" thingies keep getting in the way of buying and playing with all the new toys that I want!"

When he mentioned the part about fulfilling the current fight with technology developed 20 years ago, I threw up in my mouth a little. Especially since I'm currently reading quite a bit of material which documents how the Air Force has consistently fought to avoid supporting the Army, or even allowing the Army to support itself with CAS since the Air Forces' very inception....

Now, if they would roll out even ONE system that would support a COIN fight, by design, I wouldn't be so negative on them. After all, I am a big fan of the F-22 and the technology that made it possible.

Steve Blair
05-10-2007, 03:23 PM
The problem with most AF projects is that they do too much gold plating and don't realistically look at mission requirements. The F-22 is cute, but how willing will the AF be to risk it in combat? Especially for any sort of CAS? Anyhow...that's one of my pet rocks and I'll put it down now....:o

05-10-2007, 08:02 PM
Its been awhile so I guess the time has come for another round of Air Force bashing. I really didn't read anything much different in this article than I've read in articles from Army generals and Navy admirals. Everyone wants their share of the pie and will argue to increase it.

I suspect that when you say the AF "has consistently fought to avoid supporting the Army" you are actually saying that the AF didn't want to do it the Army way. I am quite sure that the command structure of the Air Force and every airman in it wants to support the Army. We may not do it in the exact method you'd prefer, but the Army will get its support.

I'd have to check but I'd bet that the same arguments made against AF spending on this website were probably made by your predecessors in the 70s and 80s, but our country enjoys the fruits of that spending now. We have unrivaled ISR capabilities, satellites enable blue force tracking, better comm, etc.

Would you have us ignore potential future threats? I've read many arguments here and at other places regarding our penchant for fighting the last war. So would you have us simply prepare for another COIN environment and allow our conventional capabilities to degrade or disappear? While I certainly agree that the AF can play a larger role in COIN, and concede that we are of a conventional war mindset, we still need these "toys" to account for potential future threats.

05-10-2007, 08:09 PM
Law Vol come on how much did the Air Force pay to say that:D

Steve Blair
05-10-2007, 08:23 PM
LawVol, if you look back through AF history, you might see some similarity in what the command structure is saying now compared to what they said in the early 1960s. Substitute "stealth" for "nuclear weapons" and the parallel is rather striking. Back then LeMay argued that nuclear supremacy would prevent ALL conflicts, to include Small Wars. Now we see a variation on that same theme centered around stealth. The Army got its support back then, too...but in a very grudging manner that contributed directly to the rise of helicopter aviation within the Army. And let's also not forget the AF's attempts to stifle the AC-130 community and its own special operations forces in the 1980s.

Don't get me wrong: I am also critical of many of the decisions made by the Army's leaders. There's more than enough short-sightedness to go around. But the AF has historically tried to ignore threats or situations that it didn't like, and also focuses on high-end solutions (the B-70 anyone?) to problems that might not require quite that much gold-plating. Part of the reason for the long acquisition cycle that General Johns complains about is the AF's own process and desire for "next generation" everything.

05-10-2007, 08:47 PM
Slapout: the AF sends me a check every two weeks, but it is woefully inadequate.:wry:

I do not suscribe to the theory that airpower can win all wars. I've read the stuff on the air control theories that came out of the RAF and realize the fallacy of that argument (although I wonder if some modification might make it more useful in some situations; I'm rolling this around in my head). The simple point is that the Army sees airpower solely as a supporting arm while the AF sees it as something separate (some see it as the supported arm, but I dismiss that). Different environments call for different solutions. I see airpower as the supporting arm in Afghanistan and Iraq now, but phase I was different.

The potential for collateral damage is what I see as lethal airpower's fault in COIN. Perhaps airpower theorists have no solution to this so they want to craft something that makes lethal airpower more of a player? I personnally see no problem with using airpower is its less sexy role, e.g. ISR, airlift, etc. However, new technology can lead to smaller warheads that translates into smaller blast patterns and less collateral damage. I envision something small enough to take out a room without hurting anyone in the next room. We have the aiming technology but not the rest of it (at least not that I am aware).

"I hope none of you gentlemen is so foolish as to think that aeroplanes will be usefully employed for reconnaissance from the air. There is only one way for a commander to get information by reconnaissance, and that is by the use of cavalry."

-British Gen. Sir Douglas Haig, summer 1914, addressing the British Army Staff College. Within three months, World War I's First Battle of the Marne and the Battle of Tannenberg had been decided on the basis of information furnished via aerial reconnaissance.