A fair point

An Increasingly Aerial War

I apologize for linking to Mother Jones. Really. At least it’s an article on the war that makes it almost a third of the way through before using the word “Vietnam”.

Anyway, here’s something that merits consideration:

In his recent article and interview, [the New Yorker’s Seymour] Hersh rightly reflects the concern of American military men that, in any proposed draw-down plan for American forces, Iraqi security forces are likely to be given some responsibility for Air Force targeting operations. After all, they’ll be the ones left on the ground. It’s an idea, he reports, that is “driving the Air Force crazy,” because they fear it may involve them in a future revenge war of ethnic and religious groups in Iraq.

Even Pentagon figures indicate that 10-15% of laser-guided munitions don’t land where intended, but having those munitions land (or not land) where “the Iranians” intend doesn’t please U.S. officials. Senior intelligence personnel complained to Hersh that “Iran will be targeting our bombers.”

On the surface, this is troubling. Below the surface, it’s probably even more so.

The Iraqi Air Force is years from being ready to anything meaningful, at least in a combat role. I’d say that, until then, US forward air controllers remain the ones to call in the coordinates.

Maybe an accelerated Iraqi Air Force program based on something like the Super Tucano COIN aircraft? That sort of prop-driven light attack plane is just what the situation in Iraq will be calling for in a year or two. The expense would be relatively small, the training simplified, and the utility of the platform fits the bill. And it would get Iraqi bombers dropping the bombs called in by Iraqi forward air controllers, a politically important point.

Heck, maybe the USAF should order a couple squadrons for themselves, while they’re at it. (Or the Army, if someone could overcome the fixed-wing restrictions…) Don’t tell me that they wouldn’t come in handy in certain spots.


  1. In my humble opinion (and we all know how humble my opinions can be) this aircraft has as much chance to be adopted by the USAF as a Lutherin has being elected Pope. The only reason they have A-10’s is to keep the Army from having them. They are ugly, non sexy, and they eat tanks for breakfast … useless… unless you are a ground pounder that is. But we all must admit ground pounders are ugly too.

  2. If the air force is worried about there normal job, they should learn from the Navy, and just trying to do other services jobs. Maybe a Air Force Expeditionary Command? Or perhaps THEY want to crew the battleships?

  3. But Steve, they’d have to get out of their chairs for an AFEC. The navy is blessed in that a) no one is really complaining about the whole naval infantry thingy, and b) no one like me is advocating (yet) that we replace manned warships with uwvs. The real solution, an exit strategy if you will, for the AF is to indeed man battleships. So long as they’re space battleships. They’re gonna get squeezed out here on earth by the robots. If we reconceived the AF as a strategic/aerospace force, they might have an easier time of it. They get missiles and spaceships and satellites, plus are tasked with providing air and space superiority in the battlespace. Then, just let the Army have fixed wing aircraft already. Integrated Army aviation along the lines of the Marine Corps could only be a good thing. Deploying packages of air/land combatants that regularly train together, and are unified in command structure makes sense. Let the AF worry about deep interdiction, air superiority and strategic bombing. The Army’s air assets would be for CAS, regardless of whether they’re fixed wing or spinners.

  4. I say kill two birds with one stone bh- bring back the Army Air Force! The ‘marine army’ and ‘navy infantry’ already have their own air cover so the AF is left with: A) Moving army people/eqipment B) bombing stuff for the army C) manning missile silos in nebraska. Do we really need a whole service branch that lives in denial of its true purpose- to serve the army? I suppose strategic air war is enough to sustain them as a force, though the AAF seemed to do ok with that in WW2. A new space force is interesting idea- Im sure the AF would like to take over space, but the Navy just seems to powerfull in washington for that to happen. If they can start a naval infantry force without the army so much as uttering a peep, it seem more likely we will end up with a ‘space navy’ rather than a space air force. Im the marines would support it, as they could then become the space marine force. Quite frankly at the rate were going, in another 50 years, were going to have a ‘Army Marine’ force flying aircraft, the Coast Guard will handle ground operatios, and the LAPD man our ships. What happened with the powerfull US Navy you ask? The Navy of course, will have become so powerfull that not only will other sub-branches report to it, but also the Canadian and French Navies and the German Luftwafffe. Also, they took over the department of transportation and the EPA. But I digress- as for your points BH i definately agree the Army should get back fixed wing aircraft. As for the AF and Space- it will have to battle the Navy.