Sunday, June 24, 2007

Why Some Soldiers Hate the Air Force

There has been in some circles a love/hate thing going on regarding the USAF since they escaped from the clutches of the Army back in the late 40's. A lot of folks would claim jealousy as the primary reason. But, I would wager it's statements like these being made by the ACC (that's Air Combat Command to you) Commander that give guys that are driving the roads of Iraq real reason to question our sister service's willingness to "man up".

Using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and pod-equipped combat jets to find improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is often a misuse of time and resources, said U.S. Air Force Gen. Ronald Keys, commander of Air Combat Command.

Often, requests for airborne surveillance are based on the assumption that such aircraft help find IEDs and save ground forces from such attacks, he said. Certain military leaders feel they need the full-motion video feeds to locate the explosives. The truth, he said, is much different.

Based on Air Force analysis, the number of IEDs found by UAVs, surveillance aircraft or combat jets outfitted with advanced targeting pods per 100,000 flight hours is very low, according to Keys. "It's a waste," Keys said June 20 during a morning keynote speech at the Transformation Warfare 07 conference and exhibit in Virginia Beach, Va...

Unfortunately, the military is basing some of its decisions on anecdotes instead of real metrics, he said. Indeed, the only metric being used is whether the Air Force is meeting certain tasking orders, instead of making sure those assets and flights are effective and the best use of time and aircraft. "This is no way to fight a war," he said.

Keys said ACC has developed a "concept of deployment" to help fight IEDs that is air-centric "to a certain point." Without going into specifics, he said, "We ought to be attacking the system - to the left of 'the bang,'" meaning the process before the IED is emplaced. What needs to be looked at is the network, "not the thing that's buried out there," he said.

Flying pod-outfitted F-16s up and down streets no one will be on for another 12 hours will not help the IED fight, he said. Looking for buried IEDs in Iraq in that fashion is not the best way to stop attacks. "It's a junkyard out there," he said, adding there are too many false positives.

The article from Wired's Danger Room is HERE .

To read the quote, one gets the idea that jets launch sorties just to hunt for IEDs and they can't do anything else while they are on station.

IEDs are the number one killer of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in Iraq. If having jets look for IEDs saves the life of one soldier was it worth it? Route recon needs to be accomplished, having jets do it with their targeting pods while they are on station awaiting other taskings sounds like an efficient use of assets that were going to be there anyway.

Maybe the General was quoted out of context. It's possible, we are talking about the press after all.

Maybe the General has a better idea. That's possible as well. If he does we need to hear it and if it's worth a crap let's implement it, instead of giving speeches about it in Virginia someplace.

Bottom line, it's been the elitist holier than thou, this isn't worth my time and effort attitude from USAF leadership over the years that has caused some to feel that all the Air Force cares about is building their B-2s and F-22s and the hell with everything else.


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