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"Optimism (light) is the power that ultimately defeats fear (darkness)."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Combatants, Fuel, and Grease Pencil Idiots

Look, I love the US Air Force, and I am sure you can tell that by now! If you are among those that believes we are just glorified bus drivers and fair weather combatants, you probably want to stop reading this particular post, right now. I do not intend to be mean, cut you off, or offend you in any way at all. I am going to discuss something that even at the highest levels is deemed "bunk", a "pipe dream", "nitwit shenanigans", "damned nonsensical", and "otherwise transitory advantages". I'd like to spend some time talking about the US Air Force's role in combat.

In the story "The Strategy of Desert Storm", Air Force Magazine, January 2006, Vol. 89, No. 1, John T. Correll wrote:
"In recent years, it has been fashionable to emphasize the Air Force's commitment to supporting the nation's ground forces."

"In time of crisis, however, it has usually turned out that "Global Reach-Global Power" had it right. Airpower can be the supporting force in war. It can also be the supported force, or it can act independently. Field Manual 100-20 had it right, too. Airpower is not an auxiliary of land power."

"The understanding of that is the strategic legacy of Desert Storm."
Everyone remembers that the Gulf War was deemed "The Hundred Hour War" or the "5 Day War". And that is a very true statement, if you subtract the numerous hours and sorties flown prior to the actual land battle. The preceding "war" lasted 38 days - not 38 hours or 38 minutes, but 38 days. There were lives on the line the whole time. In the first few hours of the war, there were airmen and sailors behind the lines -- deep behind enemy lines -- taking out infrastructure, materiel, combatants, and vehicles. US combat aircraft in Desert Storm by branch were as follows: 58% USAF, 27% USN, 15% USMC. This is where the technology, from my first post, shoulders the weight of the "non-war".

Have any of you taken the time to watch "Discovery Wings" channel (now the Military Channel)? There have been a few shows that show Desert Storm and a few are of pretty decent length and depth. Each piece, if covering the entire war, shows the intense and deep strike taken to the heart of the enemy. The "new girl" in the air was the "Stealth Fighter" or F-117. She was flanked by F-15s and F-16s to take the "ball" all the way to the "cheap seats" and drop it right in Saddam's lap! Even he was to miscalculate what the United States Air Force is all about. In his own words from Mr. Correll's work:
"The US relies on the Air Force. The Air Force has never been the decisive factor in the history of war."
It is a fact that twice, Saddam has had his hat handed to him. And twice, the war began with deep penetration into the heart of the beast to destroy infrastructure, materiel, combatants, and vehicles. Yesterday, technology and the F-117 was a prime factor. Today, technology and the "Stealth Bomber" or B-2 and the Predator and Globalhawk paved the way. Yesterday, total loss of our brave all volunteer US Military suffered 148 dead and 467 wounded (coalition allies had 99 dead and 434 wounded). Today, 3 plus years into the Global War on Terror (one theater yet two battle areas) we've lost some 2,100+ brave men and women. Now, stop and do some quick math - 36 times as long and not 36 times as many casualties! (36 x 148 = 5,328)

Again, technology is causing significant reduction in combatants per square kilometer. Newer technology is also playing a big part in the amount of fuel required to prosecute an air-focused battle. There is a considerable amount of hemmin' and hawwin' going on in regards to fuel consumption in the US Military. Taking my second post in this series into consideration, with the improvements in technology and the reduction in combatants per square kilometer, fuel is becoming less of a factor in what the Air Force (and the other branches) to prosecute a war today.

It's no secret that if we had to prosecute a 1-to-1 air battle with the Iranians (no small air force, I assure you) or with Communist China (another sizable force, people) you'd really need a strong showing in the skies. No ground battle is ever going to be successful again without control of the air. The F-22 is the platform we need, coupled with the F-15 and F-16, to get control of precious air space. Once the air is secure, bringing technology to the fore and prosecuting a ground battle with newer air combat vehicles like UCAVs:

(such as the MQ-1 Predator)

(and RQ-4A Globalhawk)

we are reducing the strain on personnel and materiel (man hours and fuel spent per sortie per kill). Newer weapons that can deliver the munitions directly to the target providing 100% elimination of that target. Newer tactics like combined forces on the ground increase the effectiveness of overall combat operations - and camaraderie.

We don't need no stinkin' grease pencils!

Gimme the new Raptor to take back the air!

When folks at the higher level speak about turning all the United States Air Force fighter-type aircraft over to the Navy and Marines (yes, it was proposed in the QDR!), I get a little, upset. In an article from the same Air Force Magazine (January 2006) titled "Washington Watch" by Executive Editor John A. Tirpak, he writes the following:
"Throughout the QDR, the Marine Corps has had its eye on the funds intended for the F/A-22 program."

"They want that money right now -- preferably yesterday -- to expand the Corps in the near term."

"Once in possession of the fighter account, the Marine Corps could kill the F/A-22, shift all fighters to close air support, and use the savings for other purposes."
Huh? Go back up a few paragraphs here. Are we to then believe that the best way to be efficient on the battlefield, and with growing tensions in other countries, by trashing our "Global Reach-Global Power" and hamstring the US Air Force?! Who the hell is really thinking these things up? Myopia is a terrible thing, so is target fixation, and even believing that you have the only true battle plan. The following astute leaders put together one massively successful 38 day "non-war" code named "Checkmate" and "Instant Thunder":
Lt. General Charles A. Horner
General Michael J. Dugan
General John Michael Loh
Colonel John A. Warden III
Lt. Colonel David A. Deptula*
Brig. General Buster C. Glosson
Major Ernie Norsworthy
Colonel Tony Tolin
*Although Glosson led the effort, the architect of the air campaign was Deptula, who created both the attack strategy and the specific plan.

Are we going to go back to "sticks and rocks" or can we all admit that twice now, the US Air Force has proven it can take it to the enemy and provide an adequate theater of operations that propels the ground forces through the enemy "like buttah"!?

These types of situations (infighting for funds and prestige) are never going to go away. The only way that the Air Force can survive external, and internal, attack is to become more efficient and provide a broader role in overall strategy and operations. Plus, the Air Force Brass has got to start standing up for themselves and show that we are a fighting force! And, we are a force to be reckoned with, no matter your allegiance.

Save money? Or, is this still about fighters fight and pilots shuttle?

Take a moment to review the total force that the Air Force brings to the battle: C-5, C-17, B-1, B-2, E-3, E-8, EC/RC-135, E-4B, U-2, A-10, F-15, F-16, F-111, F-117, AC/EC/MC/WC/HC/C-130, KC-135, KC-10, E-10, Predator, Globalhawk, and now the F-22. We move, we jam, we attack, we survey, we target, and we defend - what is coming next? Ever heard of the airborne laser?

The ABL Laser

The often forgotten piece of the Air Force is Missile Defense and Space Command! A formidable force, indeed, and something that many take off the table - yet should not be sold short! When it is time to take the field against Iran, North Korea, and China, who ya gonna call? Who can take the fight to the air, and hold it? Who has been doing quite well, thank you, keeping us all safe from an attack from the skies for the last 58 years?

C'mon, Ronald Reagan didn't build all this back up just to have it fretted away by short sighted people over influenced by the dopes on Capitol Hill?

Did Capitol Hill ever win a war? Have they proven to be adults today?

Bah! They're just trying to get re-elected.

What's the Joint Chiefs excuse?

Stay Tuned to ...

H/T to Laurie of Soldiers' Angels NY for her kindness in helping our family adopt an airman in Iraq, and pointing me to the ABL photos above - oh yeah! Steevie likeee! (Tommy Boy Voice There, Laurie!)


At 1/26/2006 07:11:00 AM, Anonymous Laurie said...

Now you've gone and done it, you've revealed my secret, I like geeky technology things. Oh, well, I suppose it could be worse.

I can't wait to hear how the SrA likes the artwork.

At 1/26/2006 10:33:00 AM, Anonymous Kath said...

I just love your posts, especially look forward to the photographs! Well done!


At 1/26/2006 11:19:00 AM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

Laurie - I think everyone already knew, they have been holding back telling you. I think they think that you thinking that they don't think that you are a techno-geek will make you think that you feel better.

Know what I mean, Vern? :)

Kath - thank you very much! Without sounding like our old friend JP, I have a very small following. I hope that they feel the same as you, and get something from some of the text (last nights was a doooozy - I didn't finish until 4:30a my time).

At 1/27/2006 04:05:00 AM, Anonymous Amy Proctor said...

One of the reasons Iraq, for example, cannot truly be compared to Vietnam (there are of course similarities but not in the rhetorical way war opponents are hoping for) is because of the amazing technology of today.

My daddy was in the Air Force, but I'm partial to the Army. It was the Army, after all, who got both Saddam and his sons. The danger with fighting from the sky is what we saw in Pakistan recently with the bombing of a wedding party that al-Zarqiri was supposed to be at. And the restaurant that was bombed in Baghdad during the war when it was supposed that Saddam was meeting there.

However, I've always said that the Armed Forces are a collective group that cannot succeed without the other. The war couldn't be won without the Air Force... or Army... or Marines.... not so sure about the Navy but they certainly do come in handy during certain wars.

At any rate, you should be proud to be in the Air Force. I think Scott O'Grady is a great example of what the Air Force is all about.


At 1/27/2006 08:23:00 AM, Anonymous Laurie said...

The Navy aircraft carrier groups were very important at the beginning of this war. A lot of air support was provided by the Navy. I presume because we didn't have use of air bases close enough to the conflict until after we went in. The Navy also carries Marines, and it is Navy staff who are the hospital corpsman who are boots on the ground with the Marines as well.

I suppose we shouldn't hijack a USAF post and discuss Navy ;)

At 1/27/2006 08:52:00 AM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

Daaaang ... Amy and Laurie are getting ahead of the class again! You both are going into the next points I want to bring up!

Where's my syllabus, anyway? Did one of you borrow it!?

And Laurie, there be no hijackin' goin' on - it's all part of the "big story" ... :)

At 1/27/2006 09:07:00 AM, Blogger yankeemom said...

My husband and I watch the shows about all those really cool flying machines that you all get to fly. I love your posts and pics!
(Tho watching what you do with them makes my stomach go loopdy loop....)
I've secretly always wanted to fly in one, but I'm afraid I would so embarrass myself.

At 1/27/2006 11:21:00 AM, Anonymous Laurie said...

Yankeemom, you and I are going to just get in one and push all the buttons. No flying involved ;)

And I don't have a cheat sheet, honest.... *whistling innocently*

At 1/28/2006 11:30:00 AM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

Push all the buttons, huh? I gotta see this, so, let me know when you two need to go through your "pre-flight checks" ... !!! :)

Still looking for my notes ...

At 1/29/2006 06:37:00 PM, Blogger Buck Pennington said...

Ya beat me to it, Steve. I was thinking about writing a post on "The Strategy of Desert Storm" right after reading it in hard copy yesterday. I get my AF magazine a few days later than most as all my mail is forwarded by my mail service to where ever I happen to be. Much more detail than you need, I'm sure! :-)

S'anyway! I may still do that post, coz the bits that interested me in the article were the interaction between CENTCOM, the Air Staff, and TAC during the planning process, or the lack of it. Lots of "inside baseball" politics in that article, and all of it most interesting.

Great Post!

At 1/29/2006 06:55:00 PM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

Buck, GO FOR IT!!!

I was noticing the same thing, and I'd love to get another "view" of what I read. I think that the growing tension and evolution of the 4 major branches (sorry, Coast Guard, I am only thinking of deployed assets outside CONUS, right now) as we begin to develop a _new_ multi-theater strategy ...

I LOVE other views of what I read. I noticed that you and I have read the same stuff before, and you caught things I hadn't noticed at all. That is why having so many Milbloggers out there helps us all!


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