Friday, May 23, 2008

There's a Whole Lot of Shouting Going On...

At the unlikely place called, Seraphic Secret which normally discusses the film industry and politics...there is a throw down on "officer rot" in the USAF.

From the article that started it all...

...I'm an Air Force man and I'm telling it to you as plain as I can. We're screwed. Donezo. Kaput.

Pity, as the USAF would be our front line against any of those scenarios.

The Air Force needs a George C. Marshall. Oh, do they need a Marshall. Someone who gets it. Someone who has the stones to tank a generation of officers who just aren't helping. Someone who understands how to communicate the service's needs, what it can bring to the fight—the Air Force's abilities are unmatched—and someone who will rediscover the service's purpose: to support the infantry.

And I suppose to deter peer/near peer adversaries as well.

But as Marshall said, “The chariot, the longbow, the airplane... all wars in history have been decided by the man standing on the smoking battlefield with a sword in hand.”

Just so. The Air Force exists to support the infantry.

Careerist Air Force officers have it in their head that the infantry supports the Air Force. If you can think of a better way to describe that than rot, I'm all ears.

Don't get me wrong though, folks. When the sun sets I still love my blue suit and love the sound of thundering jets overhead. Love it. But that's why it pains me so much to see a once-proud service fall into disrepair and irrelevance because of cowardly leaders who value their own stinkin' promotions over the good of the service and the good of the country. Some are well-intentioned. Most are just plain arrogant. I see both types every day. It pains me.

And I want it to stop...

And then in the comments a true believer comes to save the day

There are a lot of complaints about the Air Force not contributing to the war effort and I’d like to ask one question: What do you want us to do? No, seriously, tell the Air Force what you need. I’ve read the guidance from the CFACC and from the MNF-I and MNC-I commanders (I didn’t serve in Afghanistan, so I haven’t seen their guidance) and I can tell you, there is nothing in there that specifically tasks the Air Force with a line of operation. There are some minor requests in there, which the Air Force is meeting, but there is no major line item that anyone (that I know of) can point to and say, “the Air Force isn’t living up to its end of the bargain, we asked for this and you guys didn’t provide it.”

As any good Air Force officer, I have read FM 3-24. So I know that in a counter-insurgency fight, there are three things expected of air power: limited close air support, air re-supply/transport, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). And lo and behold, these are the three things that MNF/C-I have asked of the Air Force. So let’s look at each of them in turn.

Close Air Support. The MNF/C-I requirement is for us to be able to have aircraft over a Troops-in-Contact situation in a given amount of time. The Air Force has scheduled aircraft and established orbits that allow us to meet that requirement anywhere in Iraq. If you want us there sooner, put it in the guidance and we will adjust as necessary. There is a problem with the air tasking process that involves both the Air Force AND the Corps, but its outside the scope of this discussion for now.

CAS is a difficult and highly dangerous mission. From 20,000 feet, or even as low as 10,000 feet, you can NOT tell the difference between friendly and enemy ground forces with the Mark 1 eyeball. Targeting pods have made this much better and additional technologies such as Blue Force Tracker and Situational Awareness Data-Link, help but they don’t solve the problem. The actual solution to this problem is correct processes.

In the history of CAS there are many, many unfortunate incidents of fratricide. In the vast majority of these cases, the problem was not that the pilot couldn’t tell friend from foe (as noted above, he can’t), but that the process was not adhered to and somebody inadvertently called in fires on their own position. So it takes specialized training and PRACTICE to make sure that these things don’t happen under the stresses of combat.

For this reason, we have JOINT terminal attack controllers. The JTAC is a graduate of the JOINT Firepower Control Course (or its equivalent). The Marine and Navy ANGLICOs count. The British/Aussie/Canadian/Dutch/German/and hell even the ROK JTACs all count. Nobody says that Air Force jets will ONLY drop for Air Force JTACs. What the JOINT publication 3-09.3 does say is that you will have a certified JTAC controlling close air support. The Army has chosen not to send its troops through the JFCC, instead, demanding that the Air Force put Air Liaison Officers and JTACs into their units to help not only with the control of CAS but also with the planning of integrated air-land battle. And the Air Force said, “okay.” But nobody said, “I’m not going to drop bombs for some Army dude.”...

As to that last statement, yes someone did say that they won't drop bombs for some Army dude. Without getting too inside baseball, there was an Army aviaiton unit that sent fully qualified attack helicopter instructor pilots to the USMC school where they teach USMC cobra pilots to be Forward Air Controllers (Airborne) or FAC(A). These pilots went through the entire course of instruction and in the end were certified by the USMC as FAC(A)s, able to control air-strikes and clear a jet hot on a target. Guess who didn't want to recognize that certification?

Guess which service a General was from who said that using CAS assets for road recon in Iraq was a waste of resources?

Guess which service said they couldn't do it when the SECDEF said we need more UAV crews?

Guess why people are saying you aren't a team player.

There's a war going on...for those who don't realize. Sometimes it is necessary to think outside of the box to get answers to problems. Just throwing up your arms and saying you can't do it isn't an answer. Bitching about the mission you are given in the press isn't an answer. To sit there and rationalize things and try to explain how there really are no problems, it's just how you are looking at it, is no answer.

Every service has issues they need to solve...some of the them are solving theirs better than others.

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