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Time to abolish the Air Force?

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Hmmm... an intersting concept - especially since the USAF was the Army Air Corps through WWII. I'm not sure I fully agree with the notion of the USAF being created only to prosecute a strategic war... But there are certainly redundancies between the services. At any rate, its an interesting concept and given our current fiscal realities, one thast may not go away quickly.

http://www.boston.com/opinion/2014/01/06/time-abolish-the-air-force/B1BQF31AkNjl0GcQS8msHO/story.html

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Interesting idea, won't ever happen…but a lot of what the Air Force does outside of flying related operations could be incorporated/absorbed into other services.

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Same article gets written by a different journalist every 6 months or so. Nothing new here. I am curious, though, if the James Carroll who wrote this one is this James Carroll.

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Mind cutting and pasting this predictable bit of news? You know, so I don't have to subscribe to bostonglobe.com?

Edited by Spoo

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Mind cutting and pasting this predictable bit of news? You know, so I don't have to subscribe to bostonglobe.com?

It’s time to abolish the Air Force
By James Carroll | GLOBE COLUMNIST

JANUARY 06, 2014

THE PENTAGON was built to wage wars abroad, but much of its war-making has been inside the building. Interservice rivalry is a hackneyed phrase that fails to convey either the brutality of the bureaucratic infighting over budgets and resources that has always defined the place, or the actual cost in blood, treasure, and a succession of shaming military defeats that have resulted from the Pentagon’s endemic in-house competitiveness. For more than 70 years, the very structure of America’s military establishment has been tragically misaligned, and you don’t have to be a peacenik to think it’s time for a major reform.

In 2014, under pressures both of shrinking funds and of dramatically shifting strategic needs, this can begin to change. And, as a heretical article in a recent issue of Foreign Affairs dares suggest, the place to start might well be the abolition of the US Air Force.

When the Pentagon opened in the thick of war, in 1943, the US Navy was reluctant to move its command offices there for fear of being dominated by the Army. Even in wartime, the two services were already treating each other like enemies: The Army Air Forces refused to commit tactical bombers in support of Navy operations against German U-boats in the North Atlantic; the Army and the Navy fought separate wars in the Pacific. Ultimately, General Douglas MacArthur resented having to accept the Japanese surrender on a battleship, which so happened to be President Harry Truman’s beloved USS Missouri — a “Navy trick,” as the Army brass called it.

The National Security Act of 1947 was supposed to end such squabbling. But, by creating the United States Air Force as a stand-alone branch of the military, the overhaul made it worse. Before joining an arms race with the Kremlin, the Pentagon ran one with itself. In assessing dangers posed by Moscow, each of the services sounded alarms about Russia more with an eye on its own budget needs and desired weapons than any actual Soviet threat. The Air Force, seeking sole custody of the atomic arsenal, led the way in this, roundly preempting the Navy’s atom-bomb-capable supercarrier with its long-range strategic bomber. Undeterred, the Navy developed its own air force anyway, and so did the Army, with helicopters. The Air Force created myths of “gaps” — first bomber, then missile — that existed only in the minds of wing-wearing planners, and only long enough to ignite an explosion in Air Force warhead acquisition — again, overwhelming the Army and Navy as much as the Soviets.

But with the dawning of the age of intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Navy decisively struck back with the Polaris submarine and a nuclear attack force that would prove to be far more invulnerable than either lumbering bombers or sitting-duck ICBMs. To this day, the most stable leg of the nuclear deterrence triad remains the submarine missiles, even as Air Force strategic bombing has long since proved to be irrelevant in asymmetrical wars, whether against the Vietnamese, Iraqi insurgents, or Al Qaeda.

Before joining an arms race with the Kremlin, the Pentagon ran one with itself.

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Defense scholar Robert Farley’s Foreign Affairs article is entitled “Ground the Air Force,” and proposes folding it “back into its two sibling services.” After transitional costs, this would not only reduce the massively expensive redundancy of separate air power entities, but would remove one of the main engines of self-defeating inter-service rivalry. Moreover, abolishing the Air Force would merely ratify changes that are already happening: The redefinition of air power around pilotless drones is eviscerating the bomber-jacket culture of fly-boys; as the Air Force’s Minuteman nuclear missiles age into irrelevance, the officers in charge of them are failing tests and acting out. In other words, the Air Force’s responsibilities have eroded.

Whether the creation of the Air Force in 1947 was itself a mistake, rooted in fallacies about strategic bombing during World War II, is debatable, but few institutions have undergone less structural or ideological change across these decades than the Pentagon. Universities, churches, journalism, retail marketing, public schools, transportation, broadcast companies — all such enterprises have had to reimagine themselves again and again, while the Army, Navy, and Air Force have been walled off from pressures to change by coalitions of contractors, Congress, and surprisingly durable myths of invincibility.

But the wind-sock has shifted. Instead of tinkering around the edges of a bloated, unaffordable, and often ineffective national security establishment, the time has come for a major reinvention — starting with the Air Force. Off it should go into the wild blue yonder.

James Carroll writes regularly for the Globe.

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Thanks.

The redefinition of air power around pilotless drones is eviscerating the bomber-jacket culture of fly-boys; as the Air Force’s Minuteman nuclear missiles age into irrelevance, the officers in charge of them are failing tests and acting out. In other words, the Air Force’s responsibilities have eroded.

"Eviscerating"? Seems a bit much. Author's daddy was a General:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Carroll_(author)

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Horrible article. No other service can execute what the Air Force does on a theater or global scale. They operate to support organic assets especially with ISR and mobility in addition to kinetic actions.

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This article is a classic case of this:

Michael Crichton once mentioned something called the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

"Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows; you open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murrays case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backwardreversing cause and effect. I call these the 'wet streets cause rain' stories. Papers full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know."

Edited by pbar
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Terrible article lacking all evidence of a coherent argument. Van Crevald does a much better job of presenting an argument about the age of Airpower being over. Even if his sentence structure is incredibly hard to read.

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Hell, we need to go to one armed forces. Why have 2 Armies, 3 Navies and 5 Air Forces. The Air Force should have total control of all air operations even the painful deployments on carriers and sleeping by helicopters in the field. It's the perfect time to do it since we have no major threat on the horizon for now anyway. By the way, close down the academies as well and give the future cadets full scholarships to IVY league schools. Use the former academies as your air universities, OTS/OCS and anything else in filling the dorms. Thinking outside the box before they bury me in one.

Edited by alwyn2d
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This article is a classic case of this:

Michael Crichton once mentioned something called the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

"Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows; you open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murrays case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backwardreversing cause and effect. I call these the 'wet streets cause rain' stories. Papers full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know."

Didn't some General say, "If you can quickly pick out the BS when the media is reporting on very familiar subject matter, why would you believe them when they report on anything else in which you have no knowledge?"

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Air Force Times decided to add to the topic.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/article/20140112/NEWS/301120004/Columnist-argues-abolishing-Air-Force

I immediately discredited James Carroll's article due to him not even mentioning the space and cyber domains. The article above mentions those areas in the final sentence. I get we are the "Air" Force, but still, we are responsible for the other two domains as well and to not consider them when talking about another service absorbing those functions as well is just stupid and shows ignorance to all the Air Force does.

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The use of airborne isr assets in AFG is an absolute abomination of the potential capabilities because the army controls it. That abortion should be evidence enough that the Air Force should remain its own arm. And while I'm at it, if centcom could go ahead and give us the ability to allocate our air assets again, that'd be great.

Edited by SurelySerious
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Farley, a professor at the University of Kentucky, thinks the military should go back to how it was structured before the Air Force became an independent service. Ultimately, such a move would curb how often the military would be used, he argues.

“As far back as the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, [civilian policymakers] have found air power too attractive because of the promise of relatively cheap, relatively efficient war,” Farley said in a Jan. 8 interview. “Putting the Air Force back into the Army creates more perspective with respect to what war really costs and what the prospects of war really are.”

Gee, thanks for your perspective there Farley.. Merge the Air Force and end up with a force that is not only less capable but less able to prosecute national security objectives. Gotta love the way tenured academia types think..

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The use of airborne isr assets in AFG is an absolute abomination of the potential capabilities because the army controls it. That abortion should be evidence enough that the Air Force should remain its own arm. And while I'm at it, if centcom could go ahead and give us the ability to allocate our air assets again, that'd be great.

You sound like an MC-12 pilot.

From the A-10 doing the Non-Traditional ISR they love so much (probably more so now that they actually have a pod to use), the MC-12 passing off a dynamic TST, to the RPA executing a kinetic strike on love child #3, the Army wouldn't execute it any better if the asset was organic and all but those out of touch would tell you as much. That said, if given the resources, guys like TF-Odin would do just as well as an MC-12 (but, unfortunately the Army has chosen a different route and their capability suffers for it).

Luker, Joel. “The Cost of Culture: Controlling DOD’s Runaway O&M Spending.” Joint Forces Quarterly, no. 71 (4th Quarter 2013): 40–47. http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/pdf/jfq/jfq-71/jfq-71.pdf

For example, consider the Army’s desire for full-motion video support (from the Air Force) in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Air Force supplied 10 Predator Combat Air Patrols

(CAPs) in 2007 but the Army wanted more. A goal was agreed on to obtain 21 CAPs by 2010, which the Air Force reached in 2008. The Army wanted more. DOD allocated an additional $2 billion to boost the number to 50 CAPs by 2011. The Army wanted more. The current goal is 65 CAPs by 2013 and about 125 by the end of the decade. Throughout these increases, the Air Force—not the Army—paid the bill in both dollars and manpower. As a result, there was no incentive for the Army to curb its ever-increasing requests for additional support. The intent is not to berate the Army.

This example is simply well documented and highlights a key structural problem with cost control in joint operations. Specifically, the supported-supporting construct within joint operations does not contain natural incentives to curb the appetite of a supported Service. The supported Service can continually ask for more, and the supporting Service pays the bill. In fact, some may argue that the Pentagon culture actually incentivizes the supported Service to ask for more. If the Services view the DOD budget as a zero-sum game, uncontrolled resource requests essentially allow the supported Service to hijack part of the supporting Service’s budget.

Massive changes to the joint force structure would have just as massive of an impact on both budgeting and warfighting capability (for better or for worse). We just need to argue from a constructive point of logic, rather than the hacked-over bullshit that James Carroll is presenting.

If we are looking for a columnist from "The Globe" to fix this train wreck, we are indeed in for a wild ride. That said, let's just downsize the Air Force by 25,000 people and see if that fixes it!

Anyone have any words on if the Army is looking at similar Force Management programs this year or next? Anyone have any idea how much "nation building" figures it's way into various O&M budgets? Just for funsies, go take a look at the Army's O&M budget growth over the last decade.

Bendy

Edited by Bender

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<br />Anyone have any idea how much "nation building" figures it's way into various O&M budgets?<br /> <br />Bendy

<br /><br />Theres a thought! Give that mission back to the state department where it belongs & see how much of the DoD budget is saved. <br /><br />I'd be willing to bet a week of nation building could fund all of our pensions again.

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<br /><br />Theres a thought! Give that mission back to the state department where it belongs & see how much of the DoD budget is saved. <br /><br />I'd be willing to bet a week of nation building could fund all of our pensions again.

DOS can't nation build in a country like Afghanistan without tons if military support anyway. It's not really feasible to send some Foreign Service guys out to a village without a platoon or squad and air to protect them.

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More anti AF propoganda and the main "intellectual" behind this... Robert Farley

http://prospect.org/article/abolish-air-force

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140574/robert-farley/ground-the-air-force

Pretty much his blather boils down since Strategic Air Power by itself didn't win the wars outright, it's all bullshit... therefore the Army is the only one who did anything in WWII and beyond, except Gulf War I, Allied Force, El Dorado Canyon, The Drone Wars, etc...

This DB should expand his poor military history scope to oh let's say Israel vs. everybody in the Middle East and ask them if the Air Force is really not that important...

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Every country out there has an Air Force. In most countries, the air force owns just about all the flying assets, to include the helicopters used by their army. And in some cases, the air forces operate the naval aviation assets.

The US is really the only credible military force that has significant aviation assets in all branches. There's certainly a reason why each branch operates aircraft to suit their own needs, but I don't see a real reason to abolish the USAF.

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The fight over how to spend money will always exist, the only thing that will change is the level that makes the decision. All the arguments about the future of warfare are based on speculation of civilian pundits who read a couple books and project their biases without an attempt to hide or recogize them and zero critical thought applied. This conversation is beyond retarded when conducted in the open forum with uninformed pundits.

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The use of airborne isr assets in AFG is an absolute abomination of the potential capabilities because the army controls it. That abortion should be evidence enough that the Air Force should remain its own arm. And while I'm at it, if centcom could go ahead and give us the ability to allocate our air assets again, that'd be great.

Once upon a time I was not overly committed for or against Air Force independence. Then one day at a certain non-disclosed location in Southwest Asia with a big tent that looks like a woman's bra, I happened to attend a daily meeting that was all about identifying opportunities for ISR integration/crosscues in the next day's ATO and talking about the metrics from yesterday's, and someone related the story that convinced me. The day before, weather at Manas (I think that's what it was... it has been some time) had grounded a significant percentage of the tanker assets that were supposed to be over AFG that day. Consequently, one of the big 707-based ISR platforms (cannot remember which) was going to lose its scheduled A/R, creating a dilemma. If said asset surveilled RC-East, they would bingo out pretty quickly due to the longer drive time. If they hung out in RC-South instead they could get 2x or more station time. Someone at the CAOC called someone at IJC to ask the question, because exactly as you say, the Army controlled it. RC-East it was, because that day it was "RC-East's asset."

Since then I've been a true believer, because of the Army's fixation on having the commander in the field control his supporting assets, that the Air Force's dogma that "Airpower must be centrally controlled by Airmen" is 100% correct. I actually would like to see the Army, in an alternate universe, corporately own the CAS and ISR missions just to see their heads explode when they realize they actually have to manage a finite number of resources and just yelling "More! Faster! Now!" isn't a solution.

Edited by Disco_Nav963

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