Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Ralph Peters on the USAF

Peters is a retired Army LTC who is a prolific writer and considered by some, to be an expert in terrorists and the ways to kill them. Usually he shoots at the Army, looks like he has bagged his limit and moving to another hunt stand. also, he was sitting next to Marine LTG Mattis last week when he made comments about killing Talibanis. Peters wrote a piece in support of what Mattis said.

Interesting comments and painfully on the mark for the USAF. I'm not certain and Army or Marine General is right for Air Force Secretary, but maybe a a Special Operations Air Force General or a retired Colonel who can purge the establishment and bring them in line with the transformation of the rest of the military.



February 11, 2005 -- We need to save the United States Air Force -
from itself. This critical component of our national security has
become corrupt, wasteful and increasingly irrelevant. The problem
doesn't lie with the front-line pilots or ground crews. The cancer is at the top, in the Department of the Air Force and on the Air Force Staff.

Consider just a few recent problems: Former Air Force Secretary James G. Roche, who resigned last month to evade a corruption investigation, has just been cited for ethics violations in dealing with the defense industry. The service's top acquisition official, Darleen Druyun, is in prison for her role in a corrupt tanker-leasing deal. The scam had been a top priority under Roche. The Air Force's top lawyer got the boot for sexual shenanigans with subordinates. The service continues to demand the nearly useless, $300-million-per-copy F/ A-22 fighter, a Cold-War legacy system wildly out of sync with our security needs. The Air Force's "shock and awe" effort that opened Operation Iraqi Freedom was a complete bust. The sound-and-light show over Baghdad was supposed to prove that we no longer needed ground troops to win wars.

The reverse proved true. In our current operations in Iraq, the Air
Force's procurement choices have left it searching for missions to
prove its relevance. Recently, one Army division commander shook his
head and told me, "I had aircraft stacked up, begging for missions so the pilots could get combat credit. But I just couldn't use them."

America needs a strong Air Force, but we have the wrong Air Force. The service's leadership, military and civilian, displays greater loyalty to the defense industry than to our national defense (the contractors who supply the Air Force teem with retired generals). Today's Air Force clings to a fight-the-Soviets (or at least the Chinese) model with greater passion than yesteryear's Army clung to the horse cavalry. And Air Force leaders lie. Last year, in war games with the Indian air force, our blue-suiters suffered embarrassing defeats. Our guys were arrogant and failed to think innovatively. We also had crucial high-tech gear turned off. The Indians used imaginative tactics - and overwhelmed us with numbers.

Our Air Force's response?

To insist the humiliation "proved" the need for the F/ A-22. Yet
purchasing that gold-plated piece of junk means that we could afford
still fewer aircraft in the future - we could be swarmed by other
countries with lower-tech, affordable planes, just as the Indians did it. Numbers matter. The Air Force doesn't need fewer, "more capable" aircraft. It needs more metal. But not the junk the contractors want to foist on the taxpayer and that ethically challenged senior officers want to buy. We need: A revitalized transport fleet: We rely on the workhorse C-130 for tactical lift, but the design is nearly a half-century old. The Army and Marines are told to make tomorrow's combat vehicles fit into the C- 130's tight hold. That's backward.

Next generation combat vehicles will be so systems rich that no amount of miniaturization will let them fit in a C-130. We need to design the fighting systems we need, then build planes to lift them. An affordable replacement for the great, but aging B-52 bomber: Those magnificent craft continue to outperform later, platinum-priced bombers, such as the Rube-Goldberg B-1 and the fragile B-2. We need a new, cost-efficient and robust bomber to replace B-52s nearly twice as old as their crews. A no-nonsense ground-attack aircraft to replace that splendid killing machine, the A-10. Ground-attack operations - especially in urban environments - are the wave of the future. The Air Force needs to stop dreaming of the missions it wants and face the missions we've got. A multi-role-fighter fleet that rejects Cold-War-era designs and starts afresh. Billions already spent are no reason to waste billions more on yesterday's concepts. Don't throw good money after bad. Our Air Force needs fresh thinking, adequate funding and an increase in the numbers of airplanes we can launch.

Instead, we get old thinking, massive waste and a shrinking fleet. The Air Force has been Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's darling. The Army and Marines were supposed to shrivel to free up more funding for Air Force whistles and bells. Rumsfeld was so happy with the state of affairs in our disintegrating Air Force that he actually tried to move arch-scoundrel Roche over to become Secretary of the Army.

Fortunately, Sen. John McCain put a stop to that. Now Rumsfeld is
fighting to prevent desperately needed permanent increases in the size of our ground forces, while struggling to preserve disgraceful Air Force legacy buys. It's time for the Senate to call him on the carpet. The Air Force badly needs reform. Our men and women in uniform deserve it.

For a start, the service needs a secretary chosen from the ranks of
retired Marine or Army four-stars, a man with joint experience who can do what a series of corporate- America secretaries could not: Hold the Air Force's renegade generals to account.

Second, the senior Air Force generals need to be purged. Instead of
intellectual relics with fighter or bomber backgrounds, Air Force
special-operations commanders - men who know what postmodern warfare
means - should be given the service's top jobs. With the mission of making the Air Force relevant to the 21st century.

Ralph Peters is the author of "Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and


Blogger 1138 said...

Ralph Peters is mostly full of crap on this, and mostly right on his details.
You know, most AF guys have the good sense not to comment on Army or Navy operations it's too bad Peters doesn't sahre some of this good sense.

Yes top brass needs to be trimmed and reorganized, but that's true of all three branches. Yes he's is right about needing fewer Cadillacs and more Impalas, that's not news to anyone who served with the Air Force in opposition to the USSR they had tons of little stupid Migs against our F15's and 16's.
But what Mr. Peters misses is just how important the AF is in projecting power quickly giving time for you folks to get in place.
That projection of power, gathering of intel., movement of munitions and supplies make tha fly boys more vital than ever in a triad where the Navy is the smallest it has been since before WWII.

Peters advice is a appreciated, just misguided.

10:47 PM  
Blogger redleg said...

But Paul

sometimes it's too little to late

The USAF is preparing for the Cold War, and it's over

Next war Paul or perhaps this one, but spare us from 5 conflicts ago

9:35 PM  
Blogger chaoticsynapticactivity said...

Sorry I'm a little late to the game, but the classic study in the service war colleges in the late 80's was a book by, I think, an Army Major Krepenivitch, who evaluated Vietnam as the Army taking a heavy armor, central European wide open field tank mentality to the jungle, and that was one of the major things that caused it to a less than efficient war. His point was the same as Peters: Time to get the strategic planning teams together to look into the crystal balls. During my 20 years in the Navy, I started in the inattention after Vietnam, to the malaise of the Carter years, then the build up to the "600 ship Navy," under President Reagan. I also was asked to retire, once we beat the bad guys on the other side of the wall. The Navy came out with the "Forward - From the Sea" approach, and it has helped serve them well. I sort of knew the AEGIS guys have been positioning for a significant role in space warfare 10 years ago, with the now vanquished BMDO organization, but I saw the SM-3 was recently successfully test fired at a SCUD like target. Hmmm....until the Chinese are a threat, at least it's a good plan to keep the Navy in good combatant type vessels.

It also reminds me of the cruise to the IO/NAS in '85-86. We were tasked to to a joint sub/surface ship Tomahawk TSAM exercise. We (the ASWC staff, coz our boss volunteered us) set the exercise up and briefed it to the Group Commander and the CV crew (the ASUWC). When it was over, a CV ship's company officer (P-3 TACCO Type) said "We can't do it that way." I asked why. Response: "We can't have planes flying on alerted targets."

Funny how a few short years later, the zoomies thought it was cool how TLAMs were alerting (and destroying) AAA and SAM sites. They didn't seem to have the desire at all costs to get Air Medals, once they saw how it could keep them alive.

Reinvention is good. Forward thinking is better. Any voice to prompt us to do what is right is a good thing. Jointness was shoved down the throat of the Pentagon by the Goldwater-Nichols Act, after we, the uniformed guys, refused to tell Congress how to make it happen. Dragging the insular thinking Navy guys (like me) into the Joint world has given us the opportunity to use combined arms to take over entire countries in short order, but Congress had to make us get along.

And, Paul, as far as projecting power, go for the CVs....look what happened when the AF didn't have Saudi Arabia this time....but keep a balance for when the Red Dragon begins to compete in the future...

5:06 PM  
Blogger redleg said...


right on topic. Jointness is good, but you couldn't have told that to us when Goldwater-Nichols was jammed down our throat. Change is not easy coming from inside. Sometimes it has to be jammed down your throat.

Paul is parochial USAF and resistant to change from his 4 year in. It is time for the USAF to overhaul itself like the rest of the services are doing, forget about the Key West Agreement and make themself a true contributor and not just a maker of very expensive airplanes that they don't want the enemy to shoot at.

5:10 AM  
Blogger chaoticsynapticactivity said...

I did an opinion on the USAF and space back last year....I had fun with it, but then I'm a "shoe" :)

2:14 PM  
Blogger BAMF said...

Read Ralphs new article on 13 April. Another Home Run by Ralph. The Air Farce continues to dream of the days when Air Knights in silk scarves battled as gentlemen over the skies of Europe and the Pacific. The Air Forces' big contribution to the GWOT is the "C-17,C-5 and the C-130". Yet at the very time these great planes are making a contribution the Air Farce lets the Tankers that support these Cargo planes, fall apart. They let the Military industrial complex try and highjack the tax payer with a lease scam instead of doing what they should have done years ago and bite the bullet on fighters so that the tanker fleet could be modernized. If it weren't for Senator McCain the Air Farce would have scored one hell of a kick back for there friends at Boeing. The military needs to shelve the F-22, and F-35 JSF. If they need a new plane why not the F-18 Super Hornet. If the Air Farce had it that would make all three air services and by definition a Joint Fighter!

8:32 AM  
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1:22 AM  

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