posted on Feb, 1 2014 @ 01:52 PM
This is a very interesting and important debate about the utility of the USAF.
The orginal and ongoing raison d'ete for the Air Force was that it could provide decisive victories with little threat to personel and material, that
a decisive victory over an enemy could be won with air power alone.
arguments that were actually important at the creation. For the USAF, the important arguments focused almost solely on strategic airpower,
and on the ability of airpower to win decisive victories without significant contribution from the other two services.
History has repeatedly shown us that this is not the case. Vietnam is a prime example that one cannot 'bomb' anyone into submission.
The AF doesn't want to provide close air support or reconnaissance. Close air support primarily being precisely directed air strikes in support of
troops on the ground.
From Stars and Stripes:
Providing close-air support for soldiers is the squadron’s main mission here, and it is the specialty of the jet they fly — the A-10
Thunderbolt II. Before arriving at Bagram, pilots trained for a month in Nevada and for a month in Florida.
Maj. Brett "Mirv" Herman has 16 years in the Air Force, but this is his first time in Afghanistan. He arrived expecting to drop bombs and fire the
A-10’s gun with the frequency of a video game. That hasn’t been the case. Pilots fired only half as many 20 mm rounds as during the last
deployment. But things have gradually intensified with the rise in temperatures.
Herman’s missions have included guarding coalition convoys and performing screaming flyovers as a "show of force" to scare off Taliban fighters.
His most memorable mission occurred when a group of soldiers a few miles outside their base came under attack. Herman provided cover as they sprinted
back safely to the base carrying full packs.
"Being here and protecting the ground guys, I wouldn’t trade it for anything," Herman said. "I like it. Having them feel more secure with me
overhead is a good feeling."
The above speaks to part of the Warthog's mission but not all of it:
That strike occurred in Paktia Province, close to the Pakistani border, and it was inflicted by a B-1 bomber, a plane originally designed to
drop nuclear bombs on Moscow. The target was a farmhouse inhabited by a man named Shahiullah and his family. The payload of several tons of bombs
killed him, his wife, and five of his seven children. The ground controllers directing the attack, and the crew of the B-1, had been informed that
only civilians were at the scene, and that this was a “bad target.” This information came from the one plane in the U.S. arsenal designed
specifically for close air support of troops on the ground: the A-10 “Warthog.” Two A-10 pilots had spent many minutes circling low over the farm,
scanning it at close range with the naked eye and through binoculars, then warning repeatedly that it was a bad target and refusing to strike as
ordered. Their warnings were ignored by the ground controllers, who handed the mission over to the willing B-1. As a result seven people, including a
ten-month-old baby, died.
The Warthog pilots could clearly see what the controllers and bomber pilots with their 'video' eyes could not. The designated target was not
insurgents (or whatever we call them now a days) but a civilian farm.
There is another - possibly more important issue involved here and that is the expensive nature of Air Force multi-mission aircraft.
Multi-purpose machines (think Multi-purpose printers) do all the jobs in a fair manner, but do none of them well. If you want excellence a single
purpose machine is the answer.
Remember that World War II was won (arguably) with material that could be easily jury-rigged (MacGyvered in modern parlance) in the field by GIs.
Mobile hospitals could go up and down in a day. Todays 'state of the art' weapons systems can't be repaired on the fly without a truck load of
spares and a Masters degree. Modern mobile hospital units are anything but mobile all shiney and nice in their shipping containers they take weeks to
But real reason for that move is because A-10 goes against everything USAF believes in. A-10 is the ultimate proof that highly capable and
effective weapons do not need to be complex or costly, and that going up close and personal with target is oftentimes the only way to get things done.
In fact, USAF only rushed it in production so that Army does not take over entire CAS mission.
The Air Force has always seemed odd to me and different then the other services.
Maybe it's time to consolidate. Air Force and Army into one service and the Navy and Marines into another. If nothing else it would cut down on