The New York Times: Disband the Air Force (Updated Again)

24.04.09

Categorie: Air, Inter-Service Rivalry |

Two years ago, when I proposed disbanding the Air Force, it nearly got me fired from my job at Aviation Week, which is increasingly a lobby arm of the air service. Turned out I wasn’t alone: there was a similar debate raging in the U.K. military establishment. Now Paul Kane, a former Marine and Harvard fellow, is sounding the same refrain in The New York Times:

[T]he Army, Navy and Marine Corps are at war, but the Air Force is not. This is not the fault of the Air Force: it is simply not structured to be in the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan. While Army, Marine and Navy personnel have borne the brunt of deployments, commonly serving multiple tours, the Air Force’s operational tempo remains comparatively comfortable. In 2007, only about 5 percent of the troops in Iraq were airmen.

Yes, air power is a critical component of America’s arsenal. But the Army, Navy and Marines already maintain air wings within their expeditionary units. The Air Force is increasingly a redundancy in structure and spending. 

Update #1: Air Force boss Norton Schwartz responds:

In [Iraq and Afghanistan], 45 airmen have been killed in combat and more than 500 wounded. The Air Force routinely responds rapidly to urgent calls from ground forces in dire circumstances — with the unrivaled combat precision and reliability airmen routinely bring to bear.

Our airmen prove their worth and commitment in distinctive service that prevents war and reduces the cost of conflict in American blood and treasure. We have done so faithfully in every conflict since our inception.

Update #2: “Oh no, not this again,” Bill Sweetman writes over at Ares:

Like others who take the anti-Air Force view, Kane simply ignores difficult issues: Whose job is space launch?  Do the Navy and Army retain separate ISR forces? Which service has been responsible for virtually all the endurance UAVs in-theater, and why is that the case?

(Photo: David Axe)

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10 Responses to “The New York Times: Disband the Air Force (Updated Again)”

  1. Michael says:

    I’ve put up a response to Mr. Kane at Winged Defense, a new airpower-focused blog. Thought you might be interested. Obviously, Mr. Kane’s piece is a part of a wider discussion and so we’ll be putting up some wider ranging pieces defending US air power (and USAF-lead airpower, specifically) in the days and weeks to come. Definitely appreciate a good discussion/debate.

    http://www.wingeddefense.com/archives/50

  2. Adeodatus says:

    This was RUMINT so take it for what it’s worth – about 18 months ago, I was told that the AF was refusing to mobilizing its reservists any longer to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan and leaving it to Army, Marines and Navy. That may have been one of the factors that led SECDEF to tell AF to start ponying up.

  3. JP says:

    “At the moment, the Army, Navy and Marine Corps are at war, but the Air Force is not. This is not the fault of the Air Force: it is simply not structured to be in the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan. While Army, Marine and Navy personnel have borne the brunt of deployments, commonly serving multiple tours, the Air Force’s operational tempo remains comparatively comfortable. In 2007, only about 5 percent of the troops in Iraq were airmen.”

    [What is the Navy doing in SWA that the Air Force is not? Seems to me the Navy is even less “relevant” than the USAF. What percent of the troops in Iraq are Navy (as distinct from Marines)? But whatever.]

    Yes, air power is a critical component of America’s arsenal. But the Army, Navy and Marines already maintain air wings within their expeditionary units. The Air Force is increasingly a redundancy in structure and spending.

    [And the Marines are not redundant to the Army?]

  4. [...] With this and other comments PAUL KANE justify his idea of shuting down the USAF. (See the full article here at The New York Times). The fantastic blog “War Is Boring”, by David Axe, provides also an interesting post as well as links to other related articles, including the link to the letter Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff send to he New York Times in response to Keane’s opinion. [...]

  5. [...] When things were at their worst, I and other proposed disbanding the Air Force. Now a former Harvard fellow has revived that proposal. But consider the major changes in Air Force plans in just the last year: * Investment in super-effective killer drones — Predators, Reapers and (potentially) Avengers — continues to grow * The old-fashioned fighter fleet is set to shrink in favor of badly-needed drones and C-27 light cargo planes [...]

  6. james says:

    Navy in SEA, seabee’s, AF gave up groundpounding, for contractors, there are few and fewer BEEF’s in the AF. So little ground role. No hummit, no community based services all supplied by contractors. Even the basic teardown and repairs of the airframes is contractor, they gave up the manpower, for the money for drones.

  7. Tommy says:

    I just came back from Iraq and the Air Force only deploys their people for 90 days at a time. So their multiple deployments are not like the Armys multiple deployments of 365 days or more at a time. And the Air Force has added a lot of redudent ground and transportation units that really do not have a place in todays military, and only were added so that the Air Force would have a presence in Iraq and Afganistan. They really need to be reconsolidated back into the Army.

  8. Jake says:

    You really can’t incorporate the Air Force back into the Army at this point. Then you would have Army people trying to do Air Force jobs which could be dangerous. Theres a reason the USAF has the highest requirement to enlist out of all the branches. The Marines will enlist nearly anyone. For God’s sakes, I was watching a special about Marines on the discovery channel and there were guys STUDYING to make it into the Marines and some of them didn’t make it!! How is that possible, all you have to do is spell your name right. Also, the Air Force does do 365 day deployments now and the 90 days are history as of recent. The standard deployment for Air Force folks now is between 6 months and a year. It’s also interesting how many Airmen are getting pulled for convoy duty into an Army who doesn’t seem to appreciate the help. That’s just all wrong. This guy KANE went to Harvard yet was a Marine. He must’ve been the smartest person ever in the Marines. Amazing how such a smart Harvard fellow can say such stupid things. There’s alot more to the Air Force than just flying planes. Maybe a little research on the part of this Harvard genious and we wouldn’t have to be on here defending the best Air Force in the world!

  9. [...] So what? The F-15 Silent Eagle has been rolled out. Touted by Warisboring.com(when they are not advocating disbanding the air force), among others. The Congressional Budget Office put out a proposal to a proposal to deal with the future fighter gap. Out of four solutions, one was to buy 2,000 F-16E (block50/60). That is highly unlikely due to our commitment to F-35 partner nations. The other proposals called for increased funding of the F-35. [...]

  10. Michael says:

    Haven’t read either article, yet, but I can see an alternative– a trade. Give the AF’s A-10s and ACs to the Army (maybe some of the smaller cargo planes as well) so they can control their air support more precisely. In return, the AF gets the Airborne Divisions so they can contribute air-delivered ground forces as needed.

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