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'We're going to lose fast': U.S. Air Force held a war game that started with a Chinese biological attack


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'We're going to lose fast': U.S. Air Force held a war game that started with a Chinese biological attack

Meanwhile, a leading Chinese think tank recently described tensions in U.S.-China relations as the worst since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, and it advised Communist Party leaders to prepare for war with the United States.

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1 minute ago, SurelySerious said:

Part of the problem is that China advanced its A2/AD strategy while the Pentagon was largely distracted fighting counterterrorism and counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for two decades.

And using the lifespan of the major war fighting assets on said low end fights. 

Edited by SurelySerious
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Good article and although I am not a squid, the Proceedings Podcast is worth a peruse, just listened to this episode and it's relevant to the article and the greater subject of preparation / deterrence of conflict with China:

Proceedings Podcast Episode 212: China's Desert Storm Education (usni.org)

From the article:

On a sober note, Hinote pointed out that the Blue Team force posture tested in the recent war game is still not the one reflected in current Defense Department spending plans. “We’re beginning to understand what kind of U.S. military force it’s going to take to achieve the National Defense Strategy’s goals,” he said. “But that’s not the force we’re planning and building today.”

That's true (as to no significant change in AF force structure) and over-arching paradigm for air, space and cyber power into a joint/coalition fight.  As there is likely no enormous increase in appropriation likely now or in the near future and it seems we are not well configured for a fight in a theater with the tyranny of distance and the long range/cyber/space capabilities of our foes increasing, what are we willing to give up to become that force that can deter/win this fight? 

Or more broadly beyond more of this iron and less of this type, as an institution are we willing to become that force?

- How many of us (manned vehicle aviators) would be willing to re-train to Cyber, Space or RPA if the AF determined that growing that enterprise / capability was what the Joint Team required?  

- As of now, the AF is fighter-centric in terms of force structure, cultural hierarchy and operational planning .  A fighter is a medium ranged at best platform (without AR but that carries risk & cost) and probably not the best platform for deterring a massive Naval and Amphibious assault with our current basing/dispersal operations capability.  Are we willing to become an AF that changes from that?  To an X-centric force, probably quite different in terms of force structure than now.

Just rhetorical questions to spark discussion but I have seen this idea that we as an AF and the US military are generally ill prepared to fight China / Russia, so what are we as military professionals saying to policy makers, politicians and the general public that will change that?

Are we willing to say, cut my MDS because it's no longer relevant for the Big Fight(s)?  Change the AF radically even though it will kill X jobs in Congressman X's district?

I feel like this guy is staring at us from history looking for a leader in the AF to break from the herd and say that which may be personally and professionally damaging but must be said.

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I feel like the hypersonics push has been a small realization of the needed paradigm change, but it’s not the force-wide scale to be meaningful. 

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Gen Brown is saying the right things, it'll be interesting to see if he can move the AF in that direction.

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2021/2/24/brown-wants-more-data-to-support-cuts-to-legacy-systems


“Typically when you say ‘legacy,’ your first mindset is old, right?” Brown said when asked about plans to cut legacy platforms. “I really think about it from a capability perspective. Is that capability going to be relevant today, relevant tomorrow? And if it's not going to be relevant tomorrow or it's going to be, you know, overly expensive to make it relevant for tomorrow” it needs to be retired.

“This is where I think data and analysis is important,” he added. “Because at some point I have to go defend that answer” about what capabilities are needed — or not needed — to officials who make decisions about program funding.


Like Clark said, there's going to be a lot of resistance:
-Inside the AF (shift in culture and mindset of what we need to value, likely will cause an upheaval in the "social pecking order" within the AF)
-In the COCOMs (who will scream about risk to mission when we have to retire legacy systems to get the capability we need for the future; they fear change because it means they have to go rework the oplans)
-In Congress (changes to basing affecting constituencies, and just change in general, which becomes a communication challenge to sell the changes needed)

Maybe we need to revisit the idea of fighting 2 campaigns in different theaters while we modernize; it takes a large (expensive) force to do that, and means there's very little budget left to modernize.
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14 hours ago, jazzdude said:

Gen Brown is saying the right things, it'll be interesting to see if he can move the AF in that direction.

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2021/2/24/brown-wants-more-data-to-support-cuts-to-legacy-systems

 


Like Clark said, there's going to be a lot of resistance:
-Inside the AF (shift in culture and mindset of what we need to value, likely will cause an upheaval in the "social pecking order" within the AF)
-In the COCOMs (who will scream about risk to mission when we have to retire legacy systems to get the capability we need for the future; they fear change because it means they have to go rework the oplans)
-In Congress (changes to basing affecting constituencies, and just change in general, which becomes a communication challenge to sell the changes needed)

Maybe we need to revisit the idea of fighting 2 campaigns in different theaters while we modernize; it takes a large (expensive) force to do that, and means there's very little budget left to modernize.

 

Which COCOMs aren’t thinking about how to fight their future wars as well as their current ones?

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On 3/10/2021 at 9:41 PM, ClearedHot said:

'We're going to lose fast': U.S. Air Force held a war game that started with a Chinese biological attack

Meanwhile, a leading Chinese think tank recently described tensions in U.S.-China relations as the worst since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, and it advised Communist Party leaders to prepare for war with the United States.

What are we doing about it? So far this current administration seems to only care about inclusion, uniform changes and feelings. 

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15 hours ago, jazzdude said:

Maybe we need to revisit the idea of fighting 2 campaigns in different theaters while we modernize; it takes a large (expensive) force to do that, and means there's very little budget left to modernize.

That perhaps plus a serious look in the mirror moment. 

I think the CSAF knows this has to happen now before they (China / Russia) try something serious but Congress / large parts of the MIC have developed an unreal case of cognitive dissonance / willful blindness. 

To get their attention it will have to be dramatic, propose a comprehensive plan for reform, modernization and force structure changes, open to critique and discussion.  Give a general concept, then a more tangible outline of what you think the AF should become and then the practical plan to get there, who gets cut and why, who grows and why, what new stuff and why we need it.  If after some period of time of working with the SECDEF, SECAF, Congress, etc... you can't get them to move at all, resign in disgust and make it known far and wide why you are resigning. 

Don't rationalize to yourself you'll be the good guy in secret working from the inside using Jedi mind tricks or some other bullshit to fix the system.  Tell them their baby is ugly and that's it. 

Powerful, public leaders have the ability to do big things when they try and if they don't succeed they usually cause enough damage so that if their successor is also willing to try it, they might succeed.

In more practical terms, they are going to have to use Sutton's Law and go where they can get the money and lose capabilities no longer needed.  

BRAC, divestment of legacy MDSs built to support an Air-Land strategy of warfare, massive personnel and enterprise policy changes, etc.. all have to be proposed if we want the kind of money to build out a new AF.

Edited by Clark Griswold
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8 hours ago, dream big said:

What are we doing about it? So far this current administration seems to only care about inclusion, uniform changes and feelings. 

Don't forget a clean sheet design F-16 replacement for the CSAF the flew F-16's...just what we need to counter China.

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4 hours ago, ClearedHot said:

Don't forget a clean sheet design F-16 replacement for the CSAF the flew F-16's...just what we need to counter China.

I'm surprised this hasn't been brought up elsewhere, or maybe I just missed it...Seems incongruent coming from the guy that is preaching "agility." There's nothing agile about the acquisition process; what are the odds we even see a basic design of said aircraft before his tenure ends? I want to give Brown the benefit of the doubt; I really do. Just like I wanted to for Goldfein...and Welsh...

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Don't forget a clean sheet design F-16 replacement for the CSAF the flew F-16's...just what we need to counter China.
I feel like that's starting to say maybe the F-35 isn't what we needed, without actually saying the F-35 isn't what we needed.

But we'll keep buying them just the same.
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On 3/12/2021 at 6:21 PM, jazzdude said:

I feel like that's starting to say maybe the F-35 isn't what we needed, without actually saying the F-35 isn't what we needed.

But we'll keep buying them just the same.

Or maybe just an acknowledgement of material reality vs. cost of stealth systems?  Do we need an all-stealth force to effect deterrence?

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On 3/12/2021 at 10:58 AM, Royal said:

I'm surprised this hasn't been brought up elsewhere, or maybe I just missed it...Seems incongruent coming from the guy that is preaching "agility." There's nothing agile about the acquisition process; what are the odds we even see a basic design of said aircraft before his tenure ends? I want to give Brown the benefit of the doubt; I really do. Just like I wanted to for Goldfein...and Welsh...

You're 100% correct, agile and acquisition don't ever belong in the same sentence. If we started 100% commitment today, what's the fastest we could really field a "new jet". I'm betting it's at least 7-10 years....That's part of the reason the F-15EX was so appealing, it was in current production.

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1 hour ago, jrizzell said:

You're 100% correct, agile and acquisition don't ever belong in the same sentence. If we started 100% commitment today, what's the fastest we could really field a "new jet". I'm betting it's at least 7-10 years....That's part of the reason the F-15EX was so appealing, it was in current production.

If you don't ask it to do too many things, I think three years would be reasonable. Maybe invite some competitors outside of Boeing and Lockheed? 

Digital Century Series... Or maybe advanced SAMs on subs? 

With that said, as China nears our capabilities it will become harder and harder to project power across the world. It is probably inevitable that we lose our ability to win halfway around the globe when they are only seeking to apply their power within the range of current tactical fighters. Its unfortunate for us maintaining the status quo, but despite the world "shrinking" due to technology, that is the tyranny of physical distance. 

Edited by VMFA187
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You're 100% correct, agile and acquisition don't ever belong in the same sentence. If we started 100% commitment today, what's the fastest we could really field a "new jet". I'm betting it's at least 7-10 years....That's part of the reason the F-15EX was so appealing, it was in current production.


Depends on what you want. If you want something on the cutting edge of technology, there's a lot of risk maturing technologies for production. Requirements creep also doesn't help, especially when it starts to push boundaries on what is capable.

Another major problem is software. The more complex it becomes, the longer it takes (and throwing money or extra developers may not make development go faster). Sure, you can go faster with incremental releases, and fix bugs on the fly. This works for many commercial applications, but not so much in safety critical systems.

Acquisitions may get a lot of the spears, but many times A5 is just as guilty (or more so) of causing things to drag out.
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You're 100% correct, agile and acquisition don't ever belong in the same sentence. If we started 100% commitment today, what's the fastest we could really field a "new jet". I'm betting it's at least 7-10 years....That's part of the reason the F-15EX was so appealing, it was in current production.


The P-51 and the MC-12 would lead you to a different conclusion, so I guess it just what crack you’re trying to fill.

Usually is only limited by what you do to yourself...or standards, or whatever.

Talking about both woman and airplanes, BTW...

~Bendy


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If you don't ask it to do too many things, I think three years would be reasonable. Maybe invite some competitors outside of Boeing and Lockheed? 
Digital Century Series... Or maybe advanced SAMs on subs? 
With that said, as China nears our capabilities it will become harder and harder to project power across the world. It is probably inevitable that we lose our ability to win halfway around the globe when they are only seeking to apply their power within the range of current tactical fighters. Its unfortunate for us maintaining the status quo, but despite the world "shrinking" due to technology, that is the tyranny of physical distance. 

Agree as to not making an anti-China platform do too much and to riff off your point as to it getting harder to win as we currently and historically envision it then we might want to shift a not losing / them not winning strategy as a good enough / affordable / realistic COA to keep them from thinking that aggression will get them what they want at an acceptable cost & risk

Less expensive, fast, long ranged, defensible platforms to launch XX standoff LO weapons that can strike alternatively the aggressing force or his homeland will likely cause authoritarian regimes pause before attempting short range land grabs or quick hit missions to intimidate regional neighbors


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One can argue we won WWII because we had a vast quantity of decent quality.  The Panther and Tiger tanks were better than the Sherman or T34 in many respects...but not when facing 10 or 20:1 odds...

We seem to have forgotten that lesson.

 

187...

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2 hours ago, raimius said:

One can argue we won WWII because we had a vast quantity of decent quality.  The Panther and Tiger tanks were better than the Sherman or T34 in many respects...but not when facing 10 or 20:1 odds...

We seem to have forgotten that lesson.

 

187...

Mass is a principle of war the AF completely forgot in it's crazed technophelia. 

100% agree with you. 

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Mass is a principle of war the AF completely forgot in it's crazed technophelia. 
100% agree with you. 
I don't think it's been forgotten, just approached differently. Instead of massing large quantities of forces, we mass capabilities and effects.

Technology can improve capabilities platforms bring to the fight, and increase the effect individual platforms bring. Problem is that it makes each individual platform now is delivering multiple effects and more valuable, so any losses hurt more. So that pushes is into things like stealth to minimize losses. But that technology is expensive to develop/operate/maintain, so too get the most bang for your buck, you roll in more capabilities to justify the high cost, creating a vicious cycle.

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An absolute shit ton of networked hypersonic missiles launched by non-stealth fighters with big ass radars helps the mass problem. If it helps the marketing, sell them as “single-use, highly maneuverable, AI-enabled UAVs” that are “controlled by a man on the loop.”

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3 hours ago, raimius said:

One can argue we won WWII because we had a vast quantity of decent quality.  The Panther and Tiger tanks were better than the Sherman or T34 in many respects...but not when facing 10 or 20:1 odds...

We seem to have forgotten that lesson.

 

187...

Quantity has a quality all its own...

Partly to blame I think is the inability with the US populace to accept significant losses, hence our reliance upon such technologically advanced capabilities. 

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2 hours ago, Majestik Møøse said:

An absolute shit ton of networked hypersonic missiles launched by non-stealth fighters with big ass radars helps the mass problem. If it helps the marketing, sell them as “single-use, highly maneuverable, AI-enabled UAVs” that are “controlled by a man on the loop.”

I think that’s part of what all the platform discussions miss: the weaponry. AMRAAM, JDAM , and JASSM aren’t going to cut it in the very near future. 

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8 hours ago, VMFA187 said:

Quantity has a quality all its own...

Partly to blame I think is the inability with the US populace to accept significant losses, hence our reliance upon such technologically advanced capabilities. 

I mean, I appreciate dying less.  

That said, losing a war because your 100 high-tech things got destroyed by 1000 middle-tier weapons isn't acceptable.

We are failing to maintain the "high/low" mix we occasionally talk about.

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I think that’s part of what all the platform discussions miss: the weaponry. AMRAAM, JDAM , and JASSM aren’t going to cut it in the very near future. 

Harpoon and Hellfire haven’t cut it for the peer fight since 2003 and yet here we are, still buying....


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