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Thread: The Never Ending Airpower Versus Groundpower Debate

  1. #1
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default The Never Ending Airpower Versus Groundpower Debate

    Just stumbled onto two studies today;

    The first is a 2006 study by RAND entitled Learning Large Lessons, The Evolving Roles of Ground Power and Air Power in the Post-Cold War Era

    The roles of ground and air power have shifted in U.S. post–Cold War warfighting operations. Furthermore, the two services largely responsible for promulgating the relevant doctrines, creating effective organizations, and procuring equipment for the changing conflict environment in the domains of land and air—the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force—do not appear to be fully incorporating the lessons of post–Cold War operations. Indeed, the Army and the Air Force (and the other services) have tended to view the conflicts of the post–Cold War period through their specific institutional prisms. Additionally, all the U.S. military services have focused the vast majority of their attention on warfighting, to the exclusion of other types of military operations that are increasingly central to achieving national security objectives. These mind-sets must change if the U.S. armed forces are to provide the capabilities most needed to protect and advance national interests in the future.
    The study--done for the Air Force in the interest of "jointness"--is very much a wolf in sheep's clothing in some regards, notably I would say in preserving the need for high dollar AF systems. Still it is a remarkable shift from what we in writing Certain Victory encountered from our Air Force counterparts.


    And in a similar but more historical vein from the Combat Studies Institute:

    Interservice Rivalry and Airpower in the Vietnam War

    The historical development of airpower suggests that interservice rivalry is especially prevalent in this particular area of military activity. From the very beginnings of military aviation, armies and navies have argued as to how the new assets should be used, how they should be developed and which service should control them. This was certainly the case in the United States.

    The problem has been compounded, rather than resolved, by the development of independent air forces...

    This study concentrates on tactical airpower in South Vietnam and deals with the air war over North Vietnam only insofar as it influenced interservice issues in the South. In order to fully understand the interservice airpower issues that emerged during the Vietnam War, it is fi rst necessary to look back at the pre-Vietnam doctrinal background that preceded them. In regard to the Vietnam War itself, the study’s starting point is the arrival of the first US combat aircraft in South Vietnam in 1961, and concludes with the pivotal year of 1968. The latter date is of necessity somewhat fluid, but it forms a rough stopping point because rivalry over airpower issues between the US armed forces seems to have been in decline after this date, or at least it seems to have been subject to attenuation by compromise agreements which were in force until the end of United States involvement in Southeast Asia. Expressions of these compromises are to be found in post-1968 documents, but these reflect pre-1968 experience.
    Best

    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 06-11-2008 at 03:57 PM.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    The interesting thing with most writing like this is that the Air Force will put it out, but it is rare that it makes a real impact inside the AF...where it needs to. The Interservice Rivalry paper is interesting, but somewhat flawed in my view when it comes to discussing the AF mindset. I haven't read the RAND one yet, but plan to.

    Thanks for posting these, Tom!

    Edit: Just skimmed the RAND report and you called it right. It's got heavy traces of "the AF is the only joint service and should get all the money" pieces. I'm not sure how he can claim that the AF has proven to be adaptable to real-world events...if anything they are the most Stalinist of branches: always spinning and rewriting history to suit their own needs. Still, well worth the read.
    Last edited by Steve Blair; 02-06-2007 at 06:27 PM.

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    Default This isn't your father's USAF

    Tom/Steve,

    A couple of quick points:
    -You're right on the money that reports like these need to have an impact in the USAF.
    -That being said, I believe there is a new generation of USAF personnel that is not as tainted by the ACTS/Mitchell dogma, and realize that it will always take a joint team. I say that as a 12-year USAF member surrounded by a peer group that truly believes in a JC Wylie-esque "cumulative effects" approach.
    -As far as the call for continued acquisition of expensive aircraft....come on, it IS a USAF sponsored report after all....would you expect anything less from any service-sponsored report? (got to fight the Washington DC-AOR battle)

    TWC

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Good Point...

    Quote Originally Posted by TWC View Post
    Tom/Steve,
    -That being said, I believe there is a new generation of USAF personnel that is not as tainted by the ACTS/Mitchell dogma, and realize that it will always take a joint team. I say that as a 12-year USAF member surrounded by a peer group that truly believes in a JC Wylie-esque "cumulative effects" approach.
    TWC
    Some of the best papers I have read on Small Wars related issues were written by students at the Air University. Over the last several years I often wondered where the hell those guys and gals went after graduation.
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 02-06-2007 at 09:20 PM.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Some of the best papers I have read on Small Wars related issues were written by students at the Air University. Over the last several years I often wondered where the hell those guys and gals went after graduation.
    I'm not sure where they go either.

    There are a number of smart, visionary officers in the AF. It's a shame they get crushed by the Mitchell Mafia in all too many cases. I think many of them settle into specific communities within the AF or get out.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default Conspiracy on Missing Maxwell Researchers?

    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    Some of the best papers I have read on Small Wars related issues were written by students at the Air University. Over the last several years I often wondered where the hell those guys and gals went after graduation.
    Hmmmm

    I figure somewhere in the desert near Nellis AFB there is a mysterious circle of smoke stained rocks and bone fragments where dissidents are sacrificed to to preserve the purity of the clan. Those sacrificed probably had to light the fire with their own research papers...

    Just pulling your leg, TWC. One of my best buddies is now an AF 1-Star (maybe 2) and I even let my Momma know it. He did, however, (or at least his squadron did) try to pancake me in Goma with pallets.

    best

    Tom

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    I figure somewhere in the desert near Nellis AFB there is a mysterious circle of smoke stained rocks and bone fragments where dissidents are sacrificed to to preserve the purity of the clan. Those sacrificed probably had to light the fire with their own research papers
    Tom,
    Don't tell that I told you, but you are right about the Nellis-based sacrifices, but you left out the part that death is caused a F-22 in full afterburner

    Why are those men in black standing at my door........OH NO!

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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default Give 'em a break...

    C'mon, guys. Really, they're almost like a military organization: they dress the same, wear spiffy badges, and a few of them are even trusted with weapons.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    According to my Air Force friends, being "trusted" with weapons is not the same as being "issued" weapons. NONE of the Air Force guys I know are "trusted" with a weapon.

    I bet they're trusted more with a reflector belt on, though.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Wolfsberger View Post
    C'mon, guys. Really, they're almost like a military organization: they dress the same, wear spiffy badges, and a few of them are even trusted with weapons.
    You could say the same thing about United Airlines...

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    I provide the following insights from a fellow member of another discussion group to which I subscribe. The author is Edward M. Van Court, MAJ, MI, USAR

    Reflections based on more than a decade of continuous first-hand observation of the Air Force by an Army Officer. Hopefully, this will help Army folks who are working with the USAF to understand some of the (to a Soldier) confusing behaviors. Bear with me, these observations do not apply to every Air Force person you'll meet, but describe common patterns of behavior in the Air Force.

    Special thanks to a fellow Army Major currently in a joint assignment and collocated with the Air Force for reviewing this piece

    1. From the Air Force perspective - Flying is leadership (I have heard this *exact* statement from a newly comissioned Air Force officer, yes he was rated and an Academy graduate); the smaller the crew of the aircraft, the greater the leadership. Hence; any pilot is defined as being a better leader than any non-rated officer, never mind that the civil engineer or communication captain commands a 100+ member unit and the rated Captain might be in charge of one other person. Note also that an F-16 pilot who flies by himself is a better leader than a C-17 pilot who has a crew of a half dozen or so. This is a serious point of contention between rated and non-rated officers.

    2. The Air Force does not understand the Officer/NCO relationship. AF doctrine is written/approved by fighter pilots and fighter pilots seldom work closely with NCOs before they are promoted to field grades. The idea of a LT going to an E-7 or a CPT going to an E-8 for advice or as a sounding board for ideas is utterly alien to them. In the Army, we pretty much take it for granted that we, as officers, will have an experienced NCO working closely with us throughout our career. There are exceptional individuals in the AF who break this mold, but they are just that, the exception and very rarely from the fighter or bomber communities.

    3. It is easy to arrive at the conclusion that the Air Force is technology riven rather than people oriented, but give them a break. Since the creation of the independent Air Force in 1947, the Air Force, as an organization, has never had ten consecutive years (seldom had 5 consecutive years) without a radical change in basic technologies. Go back further, and you could argue that this extends all the way back to 1914 with the first Army air elements.
    When your organization is being routinely radically changed by technology, when you are trying to cope with technology that feels like it changes hourly, it is easy to get in the habit of focusing on technological solutions rather than human ones.

    4. What is an Airman? A Soldier is fundementally a rifleman, regardless of other specialization. A Marine is a rifleman of the littorals. A Sailor is a maritime vessel crewman. An Airman... well, there is no one definition that includes every uniformed member of the Air Force, and this is a profound cohesion issue.

    Now here is the bitter pill for Soldiers. Before you complain about your Air Force counterpart, read Air Force history (and refrain from wisecracks about how this is easy as there is so little of it). The Air Force of today is a direct result of policy and doctrine decisions by the Army for the Army Air Corps in the 1930s and '40s. These decisions were necessary, and many of them were driven by the needs of WWII, but they had far reaching consequences.

    Don't get me wrong; I respect the Air Force and the capabilities it brings to the fight. Learn the lesson of an Army officer who insisted that he didn't need to worry about that space stuff the Air Force does as long as he had his rifle and his GPS. Our capabilities compliment each other. (BTW; the "as long as I have my rifle and GPS" story has taken on mythic proportions in the Air Force).

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    I provide the following insights from a fellow member of another discussion group to which I subscribe. The author is Edward M. Van Court, MAJ, MI, USAR

    Reflections based on more than a decade of continuous first-hand observation of the Air Force by an Army Officer. Hopefully, this will help Army folks who are working with the USAF to understand some of the (to a Soldier) confusing behaviors. Bear with me, these observations do not apply to every Air Force person you'll meet, but describe common patterns of behavior in the Air Force.

    Special thanks to a fellow Army Major currently in a joint assignment and collocated with the Air Force for reviewing this piece

    2. The Air Force does not understand the Officer/NCO relationship. AF doctrine is written/approved by fighter pilots and fighter pilots seldom work closely with NCOs before they are promoted to field grades. The idea of a LT going to an E-7 or a CPT going to an E-8 for advice or as a sounding board for ideas is utterly alien to them. In the Army, we pretty much take it for granted that we, as officers, will have an experienced NCO working closely with us throughout our career. There are exceptional individuals in the AF who break this mold, but they are just that, the exception and very rarely from the fighter or bomber communities.
    It's possibly more correct to note that the AF treats the majority of its NCOs (outside of certain AFSCs) as technicians without any leadership ability until they are promoted to MSgt. At that point they're expected to transform into leaders. And in many ways AF NCOs are technicians. There's nothing wrong with that. But the disconnect between everything below E-6 and everything above it is rather disconcerting to many of them.

    3. It is easy to arrive at the conclusion that the Air Force is technology riven rather than people oriented, but give them a break. Since the creation of the independent Air Force in 1947, the Air Force, as an organization, has never had ten consecutive years (seldom had 5 consecutive years) without a radical change in basic technologies. Go back further, and you could argue that this extends all the way back to 1914 with the first Army air elements.
    When your organization is being routinely radically changed by technology, when you are trying to cope with technology that feels like it changes hourly, it is easy to get in the habit of focusing on technological solutions rather than human ones.
    Although the AF does worship technology, it's also correct to observe that they are a product of a myriad of systems and checklists (a relic of their SAC and LeMay heritage) which result in a very rigid way of looking at things aside from technological advances. I would also contend that the basic AF culture has remained unchanged by technology. They are still very much addicted at higher levels to the ideal of the fighter pilot and the manned bomber - both fixtures in their organization since the beginning.

    4. What is an Airman? A Soldier is fundementally a rifleman, regardless of other specialization. A Marine is a rifleman of the littorals. A Sailor is a maritime vessel crewman. An Airman... well, there is no one definition that includes every uniformed member of the Air Force, and this is a profound cohesion issue.
    This goes back to the separation of the enlisted force as technicians and the split between pilots and all other AF officers. There is so little common ground between the flying and non-flying segments of the AF that the term 'Airman' is meaningless aside from rank (E-1 through E-3 or so).

    I grew up around the AF, and work with them every day, so I've seen most of this stuff up close and personal. I've also worked with the Army, and seen their ups and downs. The AF can be very flexible when it comes to adapting and implementing technology, but they tend to stumble in many other areas. They will have the most to overcome in the culture area if they are to adapt to the new realities we face in the military sphere.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Steve,
    As the author of the comments quoted by WM (and new SWJ member), I wanted to briefly address your reply and the underlying assumption of the thread.

    Re: your reply - I agree with you. I don't see any contradictions between what you said and what I said, just different perspectives. Please note that my remarks were originally authored for a different audience as part of a different discussion. The only thing I would add at this point is that the Air Force is not monolithic (hence the "what is an Airman?"). Even within the rated community there is intense factionalization between fighter, bomber, airlift, helicopter etc. communities. When you try to look for common trends across the entire Air Force including civil engineers, security forces, communications, space operations etc. a small brain like mine starts to hurt.

    Re: the underlying assumption of the thread - Airpower Versus Groundpower. "Versus"? I am as well aware as any that the discussion is usually couched this way, but isn't this the pinnacle of foolishness? Look at an Armored Cavalry Regiment or a MEF, air and ground forces compliment each other and to try to drive a wedge between them is doing the opponent's work for them. Ahhh yes, the challenge of a military in a democratic society; services have to compete for budget... As a citizen and a taxpayer, it is profoundly disturbing when the service cultures are so caught up in the great budget game that they fail to see that each element is only a part of the whole.

    "You should not have a favorite weapon." Miyamoto Musashi in Go Rin No Sho

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Van,

    Good reply! I understood that your comments were for a different audience and thus possibly slightly out of context. I tossed my comments out more to amplify your remarks or add things that non-AF types might not understand.

    Agree 100% with your remarks about the ACR and MEF/MEUs. Those are outstanding examples of how the system should work. One comment along those lines that I used with some cadets the other day was that all branches and services are actually supporting services in that they all support national goals and policy. I think sometimes they lose track of that in all the dogmatic saber rattling.

    What got me going on the subject were some comments made by an AF JAG general some weeks back in Armed Forces Journal about how the AF could still win any situation, including a low-intensity conflict. It's all interesting stuff, and kind of disheartening when you look at the problems we face in the world today.

    Oh, and welcome to the Council! We look forward to hearing more of your thoughts!
    Last edited by Steve Blair; 02-09-2007 at 03:03 PM. Reason: Added the welcome. Hit 'post' too bloody soon.

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    Default Hard to defend sometimes

    The Air Force brings a great capability to the nation versus nation fight, and that threat hasn't disappeared. As for ever better fighters, I would hate to see out matched technologically, because with the emerging economies in some developing nations, it is possible they will put more on the aircraft in the sky than we do. Once you stand down that infrastructure that develops our new planes, you'll lose that talent to other industries, and it will be hard to get that collective pool of talent back again.

    Should the Air Force change to adapt to COIN? I'm not sure they need to change much. The C17 crews are working long hours and doing a tremendous job supporting the logistics of this fight. The A10's play a key role in the close fight today with their new capabilities, so they should probably throw more money at that capability.

    The part about the Air Force that hard to defend is their civilian culture. Where do the weakest kids go? Of course they join the Air Force because they think it is easier than the other services (I'm talking enlisted). That mentality permeates the Air Force through and through, and the maturity of these kids will let you know when their 8 hour shift is up, and they don't play that dedication to mission like the Army and Marines. I want to apologize to the professionals in the AF that this doesn't apply to, but the professionals in the AF will tell you the same thing.

    That is the lower end of the Air Force, unfortunately the highest end of the AF has a record of being corrupt, anti-joint, and have incomplete understanding of strategy. They'll sell their brother services out in a heart beat. They have a lot of pull in Congress because their projects bring a lot of money into specific districts, unlike standing up an Bde or two, or standing up a school that teaches cultural awareness, etc. That is nickel and dime, and won't buy congressmen a lot of support on in their district.

    That is just the way it is.

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default In Defense of the USAF

    I checked out this thread in the hopes of reading some interesting comments on the use of airpower and groundpower in a COIN environment. I had hoped to read how they could compliment each other. However, the discussion quickly turned into a dinigration of the Air Force. One would think this was a transcript from DC as the Army went begging for dollars.

    As a current USAF officer (non-rated), I feel compelled to address your comments. Everytime I hear something negative about the USAF it usually includes some comment about how we're always asking for too much money for a next generation fighter or whatever. However, you must remember that our mission is to defend the US in the air and space. To do this, we must not remain short-sighted and defend only against current, known enemies. We must anticipate the unknown and ensure our air capabilities are unmatched. I am quite sure that the Marines and Army are thrilled with our air and space dominance as it ensures close air support, medevac and the like. While our current war is not conventional, we cannot ignore the potential for one. If we did and got bitten in the rear as a result, I'm sure some of the same folks that disparage the USAF now would blame us then too. Sure, we need to adapt to the small wars environment and some of us are looking past the Mitchell view of airpower as solely lethal. Give us some time. We've forgotten some lessons encountered from small wars just like the other branches.

    I especially enjoyed the "weakest kids" comment. True enough, we don't have alot of folks that could take a hill (or run up it for that matter), but that isn't our mission. Of course we do have some career fields that require top physical fitness (pararescue, combat controller, etc.) and I'd stack those guys up against any from the other branches. The point is that the USAF trains its folks to the mission; the same as the Army and the Marines.

    As for an absence of dedication, you should really rethink your statement. The next time you're at an airbase downrange, take a walk down to the flightline. Get someone to show you how our maintainers live and work. These guys are the grunts of the Air Force. They routinely work very long hours (just like the Army/Marines), in austere conditions (just like the Army/Marines), and sometimes lack food and other necessities (just like, you get it). They just do a different job.

    I won't attempt to generalize the entire USAF by generalizing the rationale for joining the USAF rather than another branch of the service, but I would imagine that not everyone joined simply because it was easier. Some join because they want to acquire a technical skill they believe is better acquired through the USAF. It doesn't mean they believe that the other branches are inferior or less patriotic than the USAF. They just made a choice that was best for them. Questioning their dedication and professionalism because of that choice seems unfair.

    It amazes me to see people criticize the USAF for having an Air Force first mentality and then listen as they criticize everything about the USAF that isn't like their particular branch. Having served as a USMC grunt and grown up as an Army brat, I've seen a little of them all. They each have a culture that is compatible with their mission. And each could learn a little from the other. There are a great number of former Marines and Soldiers in the USAF and the ones I have spoken to agree with me. Is the Air Force different than the other branches? Sure. Are we less dedicated and less professional? Hell no! Maybe if other branches realize that, jointness could mean something.

    We may put on a different uniform and perform a different job, but we're every bit as patriotic, dedicated, and professional as the other branches and recognize that we're all on the same team. And that's just the way it is.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    My Uncle, who is a hero of mine, is an AF BG(ret). He flew before WWII, almost became AVG (taken out with malaria and some other disease before he got the chance) Came back to fly in the China-Burma-India theater for a couple of years (In P-400s, believe it or not), flew F-51s in Korea, F-105s in Viet Nam and became a mathematician for the Air Force prior to retirement.

    Myself, I am a former Armor/CAV guy who currently serves in the Reserves as a Terminal Operations Officer, (I work with TALCE and ADACG on the Army side) and I've also done contract work for the Air Force, rebuilding C-130s down in Florida. I know a little about the Air Force, in other words. So I feel qualified to level some criticism at them from time to time.

    1. The Air Force has a history of burning through taxpayer's dollars on "luxury items" like officers' clubs, golf courses and whatnot, so that they run out of money prior to completing their "core competencies" like runways. As a taxpayer, as well as the member of a competing service, I feel qualified to be p.o.d about this.

    2. The Air Force doesn't have a remote clue as to what "leadership" consists of. See the comments about "flying" being "leadership". Or about the non-use of NCOs as lower level leaders.

    3. The Air Forces' personnel system is run by even drunker monkeys than the Army's. They are currently forcibly reclassifying some specialities and ignoring airmen who are volunteering to reclassify.

    4. The Air Force is run by a checklist mentality that doesn't necessarily have a "what is right?" check the block. The reflector belt issue and the way that the SFs are treated when it comes to training come to mind right away.

    5. And finally, what appears to be the a large part of the Air Force senior leadership really, really thinks that ground forces are a waste of time. Despite historic study after historic study showing the ineffectiveness of air campaigns. In fact, I would suggest that air power is a subractor in COIN. It is an admission that friendly forces aren't strong enough, so they must wreck someone's house in order to accomplish the mission. This, in my opinion, is the most dangerous problem of all.

    One last, interesting point. I notice that Air Force personnel are much more apt to take offense at criticism of their branch. Perhaps this is a symptom of criticism being pretty close to the mark for comfort?

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    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default Criticism??

    Criticism is one thing, questioning someone's dedication simply because they make a different choice is quite another. I'll always welcome constructive criticism, but that's not what I'm reading.

    120mm: I found your last three sentences quite humorous in their rather sophomoric attempt at framing the rules of a debate. Let me see if I get this straight. I read criticism of my branch of the service and by rising in its defense I validate it? I guess I should saying nothing? But then this simply validates it as well. Silence is acquiescence. Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. Of course, those three sentences could simply make you feel better about your argument. In my experience, statements such as these come from a position backed by emotion and feeling rather than facts. It's akin to the argument in political circles right now that if you criticize anything about the war, you're unpatriotic or somehow providing aid and comfort to the enemy. My comments are based in fact and from having spent a number of years on active duty in two different branches of the service.

    To address your "criticisms" specifically:
    1) You are absolutely right. I have never seen an officer's club or golf course on an Army base. But what is this? (http://www.theleafchronicle.com/news...on/204061.html) Brace yourself, it seems like the Army has established a golf course in Mosul. I wonder where the money came from? I think all branches waste money. Sure, I'd like to stop it and if you have a solution, let's hear it. It would certainly be more constructive than picking and choosing the facts.

    2) Ahh, leadership, the sin qua non for any argument disparaging the USAF. I find it remarkable when I hear this argument from people who havenít actually served in the USAF. Just as my time as an Army-brat doesn't give me any special insight into the leadership qualities within the Army, neither does the fact that you have an uncle retired from the USAF give you any special insight on the USAF as a whole. I've never actually heard the flying is leadership comment (perhaps it has the same mythic qualities as the GPS comment from the same post). However, I would say two things. First, it apparently came from a new lieutenant. Enough said I think. Second, there are leadership roles within a flying squadron and those pilots are responsible for their plane and others. Every mission has a lead. Maybe itís similar with tanks? I don't know, I wouldn't presume to make such an unequivocal statement since I've never driven a tank (I assume you've never flown an F16?).

    3) I'm not a personnel guy but I do know that some of these volunteers are trying to get in to career fields that are already overmanned or in danger of being so. Besides this is driven by funding issues (or maybe we built an extra golf course).

    4) There is a deference to the checklist, I'll give you that (see I can admit problematic issues with the USAF; I don't see my branch as perfect like some apparently think theirs is). However, it isn't as prevalent as some think. We're working it. We're being forced to because the current threat isn't what we're normally geared to.

    5) There is some truth here. USAF leadership (read pilots) views the world through an airpower-centric lens. It's what they know and what they are comfortable with. Other branches are just as guilty. The older guys see airpower as solely lethal and try to make the fight fit the capability rather than adapting your capabilities (or uses of those capabilities) to the fight. Some of the younger generation are moving away from this (I've actually written on this (January issue of Armed Force Journal)). The over-reliance on lethal power, however, isn't confined to the USAF. I've read a little about the perceived over-reliance on lethal power by the 4th ID in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad. I wasn't there, but I've read it is several places (I think Fiasco mentions this if memory serves). Most of us that frequent this site realize the hearts and minds aspect of COIN, but that is not shared by a great number of people in all branches of the US military. So I guess some house cleaning is due everywhere.

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    I will weigh in with my observations based on experience:

    March 1998 PAC Site B/Ali Al Slem AB, KU: While constructing and guarding a Patriot Missile Site during DESERT THUNDER I, I take two of my squads over to Ali Al Salem AB to get a hot meal (we haven't had one in about 35 days, other than T-rats). Come up to the first chow hall we find, when we beigin to enter, I am informed that the facility is only for USAF personnel and that we need to go the Army Chow Hall. Find the Army Chow Hall (just set up) and receive MRE's.

    June 2002 PAFB/FT Carson, CO: My Company was providing the FORSCOM Fly-Away Heavy Immediate Ready Company (Tanks/Bradleys/men via C-17/C-5). My vehicles and pallets are in a hanger on the flightline. I have my men providing guards. On a Sunday morning at 1030 AM I receive a call from my BDE executive office wanting to know why the USAF security police at PAFB have called him to reprt that civillians are crawling around my equipment. I put on my uniform drive to PAFB and ask my guards what the hell was going on. One of my guards gave a tour of the equipment to two off-duty USAF SP's and their kids. The off-duty SP's were the civilians that SP office called my higher about. So instead going over and asking what was goign on, the USAF P's assumed the worst and called my BDE HQ (they had my home number as well, but why solve problems at the lowest level possible).

    MAY 2, 2003 Ouja, IZ: 4ID is in the Tikrit area. There is very little in the way of air going on. Things arebusy, but not busy enough to involve the Air Force. The BN S-3 asks the CCT, who are attached to the battalion, if they would like to help out in the TOC, namely many radios and such since they aren't doing much at the time. The AF NCO's think it would be cool because they are bored out of their minds. The AF Captain (A-10 driver, '97 USAFA grad) tells the BNCDR and S-3 in front of the rest of us that he and his men were to highly trained to do that sort of thing, and that they would not help man the TOC. It didn't go well, and the AF NCO's ended up feeling really bad for their ALO putting them in a bad spot.

    Since Saddam was on the lose in the area, there was a level of violence out of the locals that did not receive much news until late in 2003. The paintbrush that 4ID gets painted with, tends to be held by journalists who did spend much time in the units AO. Nobody did things perfectly in 2003, but there appears to be a lot of criticism by writers who never spent a lot of time up there.

    September 2005, Taji, IZ: USAF provides MiTT personnel to serve as advisors to Iraqi Army Base Defense Units (BDU). The team is led by an AF Captain (USAFA grad again). The BDU has responsibility for the perimeter and the ECP's and a certain distance out from the perimeter (1-2 K's). AF Captain says that his team will not take part in any activities that involve going outside the wire, and he determines that the ECP is outside the wire. The reult is that the other MiTT personnel on the camp are having to spend their not out on ops with theri own IA soldiers babysitting the BDU Iraqis at an ECP because this AF Captain says it is not his lane. In a nu7t sheel, Army/USMC/Navy MiTTs who are responsible for other Iraqi untis on the camp (meaning training/ops) are having to spend their time helping the BDU Iraqis that are on the gate, while the USAF advisor team does little else.

    There are plenty of good people in the USAF, the problem tends to be that the USAF is kind of like the kid with nicest toys in the sandbox, he wants to play with everybody else as an equal, but he has some issues with sharing.

    For the record both of great uncles were B-17 drivers in the ETO. Scheinfurt-regensburg/Cologne?Berlin, etc. Multiple DFC's.

  20. #20
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    As for USAF and COIN there is a huge role. The problem has to do with what gets budgeted for procurement. Airlift and ISR are two of the biggest uses of airpower followed closely by CAS. The USAF has procured a good mix of aircraft for this, but not in good quantities. The USAF ha for some reason been keen to kill of the A-10, but it continues to prove its usefulness. The more interesting example I find is the C-17. C-17 procurement was based on the mathematics of cargo capacity not sortie rate. So even though the 2 C-17's can carry what 3 C141's (whatever it is/the math escapes me at this time) did, the isue now come up of hours on airframes with the C-17 having a higher than forecasted usage rate. Personally, my concern is the apparent inability of the USAF to figure out its tanker procuremtn plan.

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