While reading an article on Air Force Uniforms over at Battlelands; the article referred me to the letters section at Air Force Magazine who had the usual tirade against the very formal uniform being worn by the Air Force Chief Staff in theBattlelands post. Some are pretty classic, and I can see that within the Air Farce, I mean Force there are a fair share of Army despisers. Given my contempt for the Air Force I guess it is turn about fair play that the Air Force have individuals who have contempt for the Air Force—of course I don’t see why, because without the Army there would have never been an Air Force—but that is a technical point.
There was a letter however that did get my attention; which I will quote in full:
After reading the [editorial] twice, I feel compelled to present some of my personal exceptions to the political game that has been going on for years to deplete the US Air Force to its lowest of readiness and upgrading of new aircraft.
Having been an avid aviation historian for over 65 years and also an avid historian of World War I, II, Korea, and Vietnam, I cannot believe that responsible leaders in our government seem to believe wars are won by the ground pounders. This is such an erroneous assessment. When the Air Force B-29 crew piloted by Colonel Tibbets and crew dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, it brought about an end to the war with Japan. Japanese leaders were prepared to defend their homeland at all costs if the American forces invaded Japan. The Japanese even buried some aircraft and hid tons of weapons in caves in the event of an invasion, with the intent of using such. I served in Japan at the end of World War II, and I witnessed what our atomic bombs did, which brought about an immediate surrender.
Correll’s comment: “A consenus developed among politicians in and out of the Pentagon that the Air Force’s main job was supporting boots on the ground. The QDR in 2005 declared ‘irregular warfare’ the dominant form of warfare. Funding was realigned and the Air Force and the Navy became bill payers for the ground forces.” This is where I take exception, as ground forces are not going to win any future wars! It takes the Air Force and Navy to provide sufficient airpower to destroy strategic targets of the enemy. The Air Force has played an integral part in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the ground forces would not have achieved many of their objectives had it not been for the Air Force aircraft.
Panetta said the force would “no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations.” Correll also stated that the Air Force has already been cut so much that to bounce back will be difficult. This is not the position that our Air Force should be in today or in the future. China has increased its defense spending by 11.8 percent and Russia at least 12 percent; whereas in the United States we have decreased our defense spending by at least 10 percent. Our responsible leaders in Washington had better have another cup of coffee and give serious thought to ensure that America will be the strongest country on the planet, to ensure our safety and freedoms. Airpower is here to stay, and it must be the best in the world!
Lt. Col. Donald E. Evett,
Let’s begin with the first paragraph of Lt. Col. Evett’s letter. I do not doubt that the USAF is at a low readiness rate; so is the Army, USMC, and the Navy. This happens during wars where you have to make choices. Given the nature of the wars we have been fighting and the fact that two different President’s have not asked the American people to step up to the plate and make sacrifices such as paying more taxes or buying War Bonds we were not able to give the military everything it wanted like we did in World War II. As far as new aircraft I can only blame the USAF for buying aircraft that cost so much that they have not been committed—the F22; the F35 whose cost continues to soar; and whose refusal to upgrade over the years the one Aircraft that is capable of providing the type of support required in both Iraq and Afghanistan the A10 is well documented. Let me say however that the support by the F15 and 16 in both Iraq and Afghanistan has been excellent.
Wowed I overwhelmed by his debt and breath of knowledge about Aviation History and War. Air Power, whether provided by the Army or Navy and Marine Corps has been an integral part of warfare since World War I; but in no way has Air Power alone ever won a war. It certainly played no role in winning World War I. Strategic Bombing e.g the way we bombed Germany and Japan in World War II did not cause Germany to surrender, it was the Allied Armies who defeated Germany and Japan. What the carpet and fire bombings of our Strategic Bombing Campaign did was only to piss off both the Germans and Japanese. I concede that Japan surrendered after the Atomic Bomb was dropped but it also took the Emperor overthrowing the Military Cabal to end the suffering of his people. The Japanese military was prepared to fight to the last man. Thank God the Emperor was rational otherwise there would have been millions of dead and wounded on both sides from the invasion of Japan. Lastly the dropping of the Atomic Bombs was made possible by the blood, sweat, and tears of the men of the Army and Marine Corps who fought in the Central and Southwest Pacific to secure the islands that allowed the B29s to drop the Atomic Bombs.
Air Power, provided by the Air Force and the Navy were critical to the success of American ground forces in Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan; but alone Air Power would not have won those wars. There is no doubt that the Air Force and Naval Aviation can attack Strategic Targets with precision munitions but the verdict of history is clear that Air Power alone will not cause an enemy to give up, but rather will stiffen the will to win. Air Power will send a message that we are serious, but so will an Air Craft Carrier station off a nation’s coast. It is a great show of force but when it comes right down to it; it takes all the services contributing. Air Power can hurt an enemy, it can make an enemy suffer, but no enemy nation has ever surrendered to an Air Plane.
I actually agree that it has taken all the services to include the Air Force and Navy to achieve what we have gained in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just don’t hand me the line of Bull Shit that has dominate the thinking of Air Power proponents since the early part of the 20th Century that Air Power alone can win wars.
I will acknowledge that over the next few years that funding for the Army and Marine Corps will decrease and that the Air Force and Navy will be the beneficiaries. I also acknowledge that our rivals (note I do not use the word enemy) China and Russia are increasing defense spending; but, I would also note that the US spends 40% more on defense than any other nation. What we can do is spend that money more wisely. All the services including the Army need to look for the 80% per cent solution and quit chasing after the latest in technological bright objects that in up costing a small fortune and take way too long to get to the field.
While Lt. Col. Evett is entitled to his opinions, I do wish he would not base those opinions on facts that have been proven false more than once.
By the way I resisted the temptation to make any comments about the USAF Chief of Staff’s Dress Uniform except to say it does remind me of the uniforms Richard Nixon tried to put the uniformed Secret Service in at the White House in the 1970’s.