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Thread: The Never Ending Airpower Versus Groundpower Debate

  1. #41
    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    There is a knee-jerk reaction in AF cirlces to want to control everything in the air. However, I see the same thing from the Army. After all, a few of you immediately liked the constabulary idea but wanted it with the ground forces. I see that argument and it isn't without merit. It seems that other branches are quite comfortable with the need to take on air missions (rightfully so, I think, since it folds more neatly into the support role they're looking for airpower to have), but bristle when someone mentions the AF taking more of a ground approach. It just seems curious to me.

    I keep going back to the same thing because I do not see an AF constabulary, however, as taking over Marine/Army missions. Typical groundpounders aren't trained for the type of work required in establishing the rule of law in a post-conflict environment and they typically receive very little, if any, training to deal with locals (SOF forces may be the exception). I was just rereading part of Fiasco and a passage out of chapter 8 sort of captures it all. It said that immediately after OIF I the grunts were in the mind set of returning home and losing their motivation because they weren't going home. They did realize and weren't prepared for the fact that they had to establish law and order (remember the looting?). Having AF people trained at this available to move in quickly avoids squandering that golden hour. I could understand how hard it would be for the 3d ID to switch gears from fighting to policing, especially with no training or plan. Developing an AF constabulary would allow us to develop the doctrine and would allow the green force to focus on what they do best.

    As for the UAV debate, I'm not a flier so it doesn't affect me like it does our pilots. From what I hear, they see the need but I guess there is some fear that pilots will become obsolete. I was at a base in Iraq with the 101st and they had some small UAVs to use for on-call observation. It seemed like a great idea to me. It was immediately available and I'm sure less expensive than having a viper on scene.
    Last edited by LawVol; 02-25-2007 at 06:22 PM.

  2. #42
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    Default the difference is clear

    The Army controls the ground, and all actions that influence behavior on the ground in their sector. The Air Force normally controls the deep battle space, unless there is a Joint Special Operations Area (JSOA) established. If the Army lost their UAVs, then they would have to go through another service to "request" support for critical ISR capability, and that support may or may not be provided. We have a hard enough time getting close air support, so when Small Wars are no longer cool and the Air Force is chasing the next big money project, they'll neglect their UAV fleet, and focus on satellite killers or something else. I definitely don't mind the Air Force owning and controlling all assets that support Air and Space Superiority, because that is their mission, but I do mind when they want to interfere with tactical air assets that influence the tactical fight on the ground. I guess the same can be said about the constabulary force, why have the Air Force develop it, when it is going to work for the Army or Marines anyway? To me that just doesn't make sense, the Army already has the infrastructure for training this force. For Small Wars I think the Air Force should focus on enablers, like the ones I mentioned previously, not taking on tactical ground missions outside of base defense. I don't see it as a knee jerk reaction, but a rather well thought out argument. At least from where I sit.

  3. #43
    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default thinking outside the traditional AF stovepipe

    Your point is taken, but I'm just trying to figure out a way to get the AF to play a greater role in GWOT, which is essentially COIN. From where I sit, it seems the Marines and Army are shouldering nearly all the burden. I just want to lighten their load a little.

    I'm still going to pursue the topic for my paper. Maybe if I can get it published at least it could get people to thinking about making the AF more joint. Hell, if we fielded a ground unit along the lines of a constabulary, it may even get some of our leadership to see a ground perspective that could help when you guys are trying to get air assistance.

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    Default go for it

    I think the constabulary concept is an idea that DoD, or perhaps DoS, needs to study, so I highly encourage you to write the paper. In the end I don't care if they wear Air Force Blue Cami's or Army Green, it is a required capability. I'll find it interesting to see how you tackle increasing the AF manning when they are in the process of cutting back their numbers. A constabulary force will need to fairly large, because they are long duration missions, perhaps each mission will last upwards of five years, and then how any missions are ongoing simultaneously? I think the two war concept is out, we could be supporting operations in multiple theaters. They key to success is for the constabulary to work themselves out of a job as soon as possible (transition to partner nations or ideally host nation). Look forward to seeing your paper.

  5. #45
    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Default 120mm

    Proving that not everyone in the AF is technologically proficient, I coudn't find the thread up mentioned on Lightfighter.net. I get the gist from the title however.

    The Security Forces guys I've talked to don't want anything to do with law enforcement because it would keep them in the wire (same with our OSI, i.e. your CID). We had an issue pop up at my FOB and it was a chore just to get an investigator (as JAG I can't because it would make me a witness and then I oculdn't prosecute). Perhaps a light infantry/law enforcement mission might appeal to them. Or perhaps not. It's just an idea I've toyed with and I certainly won't be able to account for every issue that might arise with implementing it. If I can just spark a discusion, I'd be happy.

    Thanks for the input and keep it coming. I do appreciate it.

  6. #46
    Council Member jonSlack's Avatar
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    Your point is taken, but I'm just trying to figure out a way to get the AF to play a greater role in GWOT,
    Getting the USAF more involved for the sake of getting them more involved?

    The main effort in COIN are the ground forces, the Army and the Marine Corps. The USAF should be the main effort in the strategic air and the space arenas. I hope there is nobody sitting around racking their brain trying to figure out a way to the Army and the Marine Corps a greater role in those areas merely for the sake of getting them a greater role.

    The Army already operates a fixed wing aircraft fleet. I do not understand the institutional resistence to allowing the Army to enlarge this fleet to include aircraft whose role is tactical CAS and where the primary consumer are the ground forces. Actually, I think I understand the resistance, I just do not think it is valid.

    I believe in getting assets down to the lowest level possible. But by making the procurement of CAS by the Army a joint effort it makes it much more difficult than it needs to be.

    I personally believe, as UAVs become more and more prevalent, there will eventually be a new agreement, similar to the Key West Agreement, that will "allow" or "permit" the Army to continue to fly small unarmed UAVs while all armed UAVs and the larger unarmed UAVs will be controlled by the USAF. I think that is a bad idea, but I think it will happen none the less.

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    I think that there is a definite need for an "Air Force Expeditionary Force" that should "own" its own ground combat forces. To include deployable armored vehicles. And if I were in charge of approving budgets, I would support a budget for the Air Forces' version of the Marine Corps.

    But - I can only see the UAS (Uninhabited Aerial System) (the name changed last week, from UAV, believe it or not) issue in terms of historical USAF M.O.

    1. Claim responsibility for a technology that the Army needs to operate.
    2. Get responsibility for that technology.
    3. Fail to develop that technology.
    4. Retask a poorly suited substitute once the Army NEEDs support from that technology with all sorts of inappropriate restrictions.


    http://www.warbirdalley.com/ov10.htm

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    jonSlack,What fixed wing fleet does the Army operate? The only ones I ever heard of was a small fleet used to fly around General Officers, has this changed?

    120mm, this idea of an Air Force Marine Corps was proposed by Billy Mitchell and was the initial concept for Airborne forces but changed during ww2. I think it should be looked at again along the lines of German paratroops which were originally part of the German Air Force.
    Last edited by slapout9; 02-26-2007 at 12:57 PM. Reason: fix stuff

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    Council Member jonSlack's Avatar
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    Cargo Chaos: Key West's Revenge

    Today in Iraq, the military is minimizing its convoy presence by moving the materiel and people through the air instead. In many situations, such as flying mail between FOBs, it is not efficient to use Air Force's C-130. That's why the military is relying heavily on its fleet of intra-theater cargo airplanes, like the Army's C-23 Sherpa and C-12 Huron. [The Air Force left the intra-theater business when it retired the C-27 Spartans after Panama Canal handover.] However, the C-23s and C-12s are rapidly wearing out. So the Army went looking for the replacement Future Cargo Aircraft, to be fielded in 2008.

    ...

    Because of the Key West Agreement, the Army and Air Force shares the air lift function, the Army intra-theater, and the Air Force inter-theater. However, in today's non-linear battlefield, it's difficult to tell where to draw the "theater" line. So when the Army initiated the FCA, the Air Force felt compelled to protect its turf in the air lift business by joining the program, and then delayed the program by dragging its feet on its portion of the joint requirement. I think it was instructive to note that, only after the Army has announced the request for proposal for the FCA, did the Air Force start making noise about its similar requirements, yet did not have its set of requirement ready right away. What was the Air Force rep on the JROC doing? Isn't it his job to tell the Air Force before the Army announces its RFP?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Mil...United_States)

    1st Military Intelligence Battalion (Aerial Exploitation) is a unit of the United States Army which specializes in the acquisition of aerial signals information in direct support of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade and V Corps. It is comprised of 3 companies - HHSC, A Company, and B Company.
    I do not how many of these battalions there are in the Army, but there are more than the one above.

  10. #50
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    jonSlack, thanks for posting. Do you happen to know what happened to the C-123 which was basically a twin engine C-130 seems it would be ideal for this type situation which why it was invented in the first place. My first 4 jumps were from a 123 in 1972. If I remember it also had rocket assisted take for short run ways if needed, it was meant to be a workhorse in 3rd world type environments.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonSlack View Post
    Getting the USAF more involved for the sake of getting them more involved?

    The main effort in COIN are the ground forces, the Army and the Marine Corps. The USAF should be the main effort in the strategic air and the space arenas. I hope there is nobody sitting around racking their brain trying to figure out a way to the Army and the Marine Corps a greater role in those areas merely for the sake of getting them a greater role.

    The Army already operates a fixed wing aircraft fleet. I do not understand the institutional resistence to allowing the Army to enlarge this fleet to include aircraft whose role is tactical CAS and where the primary consumer are the ground forces. Actually, I think I understand the resistance, I just do not think it is valid.

    I believe in getting assets down to the lowest level possible. But by making the procurement of CAS by the Army a joint effort it makes it much more difficult than it needs to be.

    I personally believe, as UAVs become more and more prevalent, there will eventually be a new agreement, similar to the Key West Agreement, that will "allow" or "permit" the Army to continue to fly small unarmed UAVs while all armed UAVs and the larger unarmed UAVs will be controlled by the USAF. I think that is a bad idea, but I think it will happen none the less.
    I agree with this. Expanding the AF into the ground role just for the sake of them being there is not a good idea, IMO. Security Forces did handle roles somewhat like this in Vietnam (though more in the light infantry role), but it was never a mission they enjoyed or really bought into. I'm not sure if they should be forced to just for a stake in the joint game.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  12. #52
    Council Member jonSlack's Avatar
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    Fairchild C-123 Provider

    The C-123 soldiered on into the 1980s, serving with several Air National Guard units, some being fitted with wheel/ski landing gear for use in Arctic conditions.

    Today, surplus C-123s are popular with small freight companies throughout the Americas, and a few are even found on the warbird circuit.

  13. #53
    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    I feel like I can't get a break here. I guess we AF guys are damned if we do and damned if we don't.

    jonSlack: not [U]just[U] for the sake of getting more involved, but to take up some of the slack. I've read a number of article about the Army being strectched and near the breaking point (not my words), so why not explore ways to help?

    Also, I'm not opposed to giving the Army what it needs to get the job done, including fixed-wing assets if necessary. I'm not interested in credit or chest-pounding, I'm just exploring methods of accompliching the mission. If I didn't try to think outside the box, I'd be arguing airpower superiority to groundpower like the airpower zealots do.

    slapout9: do you have any more info on this "Air Force Marine Corps" concept? I know the RAF has an infantry regiment, but am unsure of their exact function. Maybe these two things are similar?

    --Oh, btw, some of us AF guys are already in a ground role. We call them ILOs (in lieu of). It's guys we send for training to run convoys and not all of them are security forces.
    Last edited by LawVol; 02-26-2007 at 02:48 PM.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    LawVol, yes I do but a good place to start is with billy mitchell's airpower. It is online at air university, I don't know the link but it should be easy to find. He even talks of non-lethal gas attacks by bombers followed by large para drops to capture cities in tact. I will post more later.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    LawVol, I understand what you're trying to do, and in theory and principle it's a great idea. But I'm also looking at it through the lens of the AF's culture and past experiences with small wars.

    Lift is a natural fit for the AF, as is CAS. Both areas have been neglected in favor of objectives more in keeping with the institutional culture (in spite of protests by a number of visionary officers). Likewise, they have avoided advisory duties aside from "setting up host nation air forces."

    Part of the challenge with AF participation in the ground effort is finding something within their own history that they can use that will not in turn be stretched into something that it is not. This is aimed more at a leadership that often proclaims that the AF is the only service that understands Joint operations and therefore should have control of them all.

    I would love to see Security Forces aiding MPs and other organizations in teaching law enforcement techniques and practices, and even providing a rapid reaction force. They do not have a constabulary heritage like elements of the Army and Marine Corps, but that does not mean that they could not be used in a way here. But they would have to "buy in" to the concept and be willing to learn from those that have gone before in terms of tactics and techniques. It may also require some shifts in their basic organization and training.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Misguided arguement

    Folks,

    This discussion has raged on for a while on this thread, but what is the point. This is not a discussion of air vs ground power it is a discussion of AF vs USA/USMC rice bowls.

    Should we not be discussing the need for and interoperatbility of air and ground units? Having been a company commander and FSC calling in JDAM from a B52 I see the validity of precision munitions called by 'precision guided' infantry. Why is this discussion not more about the values and means of intigration of the 4 services, the ability to cross talk and to assist each others missions? There will always be overlap and some conflict in rice bowl type issues yet this arguement should focus more on ways to balance the forces.

    The 4 services exist, they have assigned missions. The question is what of those missions need to change to face emerging threats? How much airpower and how much ground? What new concepts can be adapted?

    A constabulary force is a good idea, but who wants to pay for it, to recruit it and man it? Is it a realistic goal?

    If you follow this thread you'd notice reference to the AF having no real recruiting issues, how would that change (and it would) if they suddenly starting selling an infantry force? This is not AF bashing it is a legit question. How many current blue suits would be willing to lateral move into this new job? I know that when the AF was overmanned by nearly 30k a few years back and the offer of lateral moves to the Army was sent out not many took advantage despite large $ bonuses offered. Again this isn't a slam on the AF it is just that people join the AF for different reasons (excluding Patriotism, Pride and Selfless Service which all services share) than they join the Army, Navy and Marines.

    All I am saying is that this parochial argument about who should own what space is not productive, not here anyway. That is a political issue more than anything. We should focus on more tangible arguements, once we can discuss how to fight in new and better ways then we should go back and look at what institutions should be altered, ammended etc. This may sound naive to some but if we are truly trying to find better ways of engaging our common enemy we need to focus on combined arms and balanced attacks.

    -T

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    T: There has been some discussion of what you mention, and I'm sure there will be more to follow. But the question of interoperability often does come down to politics, especially when systems needed for such interoperability do not exist in the needed quantities (airlift springs to mind first here). It's hard to provide mission assist when the assets needed for same do not exist.

    I also suspect you will have some difficulty with the emerging threats idea. The U.S. as a whole has never been very good at identifying these. Depending on who you ask you will hear China, Radicalized Islam, Chavez, narco-terrorism...the list goes on. Often the identification of these threats is influenced by politics (either related to budgets or system development).
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  18. #58
    Council Member LawVol's Avatar
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    Blair and Troufion are correct when they say that the AF would need to buy it, both at the leadership and individual levels. It would be a tough sell. However, according to an article I read recently, on any given day we have 5000 airmen deployed performing traditionally Army functions. This has hurt our manning as we are still recruiting and retaining personnel.

    As for the blue to green program, I don't know what kind of bonuses they are offering now, but when I looked into it they wanted to give me $10k. The AF will give me $40k for four more years. A $30k loss would not play well with my wife. But you are right, typically people have different reasons for joining the AF.

  19. #59
    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default how do air and ground power tackle these issues?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    I also suspect you will have some difficulty with the emerging threats idea. The U.S. as a whole has never been very good at identifying these. Depending on who you ask you will hear China, Radicalized Islam, Chavez, narco-terrorism...the list goes on. Often the identification of these threats is influenced by politics (either related to budgets or system development).
    Absolutely true, the issue of threat is often seen in the eyes of the beholder.

    Nice segue: All of these threats require different approaches, each approach has a different human skill, technology and budgetary constraint. Which are interelated-which ones can have dual/multi-purpose tools? Which ones stand alone, with limited interoperability? What constraints do we impose upon ourselves when it comes to utilizing and integrating air and ground forces?

    Guderian and Degaulle argued for their favorite platform as did Billy Mitchell. So too the Pete Ellis types for Amphib Ops and the Para-Marines and Commando-Raider crowds. The competition for dollars has always driven the debates. However, the arguments here should not be on who(service) should do what job but what jobs should be done.

    -T

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    Council Member Mondor's Avatar
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    Default Talk

    What ever threat we focus on there are still a few constants that everyone will need and we should fund/organize those first. My short list of critical items consists of:

    Providing a common operational picture for Joint, Interagency, Multinational, and NGO players
    Common or federated data architecture.
    Robust and efficient data search capability
    Coordination / restructuring of current organizations to achieve the proper blend of military and civilian capabilities to meet contingency and current operational needs
    It is right to learn, even from one's enemies
    Ovid

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