Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reading List

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic Leaders, and DOCA members, as the holidays approach us, I want to both thank you for your support of this Association and mention [albeit a bit late] a gift idea for almost anyone in your family – namely books. Every officer, senior NCO, staffer, and civic leader should be on a book-reading program. Most senior officers I know read 2-3 books per month. When I was President of the National Defense University, I read at least one per week. Moreover, junior officers/NCOs should read almost as much.

What should you read? There are lots of ideas, reading lists, etc out there. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force has a suggested reading list (; so does the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ( And there are many other good ones.

Since the Air Force Association was chartered by General of the Air Force Hap Arnold to educate the public about Airpower, I decided to put together my own reading list – which is focused on Airpower. I downloaded each of the Service Chiefs’ and CJCS’ lists; reviewed the lists from commandants of war colleges, looked again at Chairman Ike Skelton’s reading list, and many others. Then I emailed 10 or so Airpower experts for their opinion; consolidated all the data and went out to them a second time. No list is perfect, but I think this one provides a starting point and is a list that any serious Airman or Airpower advocate should consider. We have put it on our website at:

Final suggestions for you –

One thing I do is read the Pulitzer prize winners for Biographies and Non fiction every year.

When I was on active duty [early in my career], I received plaques when I transferred PCS. I have found that books – signed by everyone (or perhaps just the leaders) in my unit – make better gifts. Not only do I read them – but they have a special place in my library – long after the plaques have faded, been tossed away, or lost by the movers.

Having a hard time finding time to read? Get up 20 minutes early every morning and read; have a book in a place you know you will spend time; forgo a re-run TV show; Get books on tape if you have a long commute to work; Put a book by your bedside; (I have found Clausewitz’s On War is better than any sleeping pill.) [Just kidding]. You can find the time … but you have to look for it.

My best to each of you this Holiday season. Merry Christmas; Happy Hanukkah; Seasons greetings; and Happy New Year.



Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friedman, Iran, Copenhagen

AFA members, Congressional staffers, Civic leaders, and DOCA members, three pieces caught my attention this week. The first, by Thomas Friedman, appeared in the NY Times. In the piece, Mr. Friedman makes the very cogent argument that the “virtual” Afghanistan is actually more of a threat than the actual Afghanistan. That is because Al Qaeda uses the web to support its global jihad … recruiting members, sharing ideas on how to make more lethal weapons, and building stories of success. I believe Mr. Friedman is right … we have not found a way to fight the so-called “battle of ideas” … whereby we are capturing and killing more terrorists than are being created. Last September, at our Air and Space conference, we heard from a speaker – Chuck deCaro – who put forth ideas on how to win this battle. We know how to do it – what is needed is the organization, funding, and will to put the right tools to work. [Lest you think we don’t know how to do this – just review what each political party did to each other during the last election.] You can find a link to Mr. Friedman’s piece on our website at:

Secondly, several thoughtful essays were published on Iran – one in the LA Times and another in the Wall Street Journal. You can find links to them on our website at:,0,427799.story and

Finally, as you all know, Copenhagen has been in the news. President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, SECSTATE Clinton and lots of others traveled to the Danish city to try to hammer out a deal addressing global warming [to call it global climate change is really a misnomer – in that the global climate does change]. The press is reporting very large dollar amounts being considered to be transferred to 3rd world nations to help reduce their carbon footprint. This has national security implications – in that, more borrowing will, in the future, put pressure on defense spending and according to the CBO will decrease the rate of growth of our economy. Also – not addressing global warming also has national security implications … as historically, nations have gone to war over resources … and many are forecasting there will be fights over water, oil, and other natural resources in the future. There are lots of articles, studies, and other information on the subject – most define well the “threat” and the science behind the threat. However, I worry when there is near universal agreement on any subject. For the anti-global warming argument, the one book I would recommend is – a novel by Michael Crichton entitled: State of Fear. In the book, which was published in 2004, Dr. Crichton weaves a plot around what he calls eco-terrorists. What makes the book unique is that he has heavily foot-noted every ecological citation – literally hundreds of them. If you are a supporter of global warming, you should read it to get a view of the other side. If you are against it, you will enjoy the book. If you haven’t made up your mind, this book should be part of your research to help you decide.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Friday, December 11, 2009

Maintenance, Afghan, Guns vs Butter

AFA Member, Congressional Staffers, Civic Leaders, DOCA members, three pieces to bring to your attention.

First, a small piece in the Fayetteville Observer about Army aviation. A typical Aviation Battalion flies about 3,000 hours per year. In Afghanistan, the same Battalion is flying 25,000 – 30,000 hours per year. They are doing it because of the great maintenance crews – mechanics, engine troops, fuels, supply, etc. The same thing is happening in the Air Force and the other Services’ air arms. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women behind the machines and fliers that are getting the mission done. You can find a link to the piece on our website at:

Secondly, GEN (R) Barry McCaffrey has again done the nation a service with his most recent report on Afghanistan. What I liked about this report is that he gives the reader a better understanding of the military situation and the challenges facing us in the country. Like many items he has done, the piece is a slightly political. Warning it is long – 11 pages on my computer. You can find the link on our website at:

Finally, a recent Wall Street Journal editorial caught my attention. And … it is very political. But what I want you to notice is the graph on the left side of the piece – about half way down. It is a graph on what the US has spent for its defense … as opposed to what we have spent on non-defense items over the past 40 years. The point of the graph is to question the balance in our current situation. Warning again: the piece is political. You can find a link to it on our website at:
For your consideration,


Michael M. Dunn
Lt General (Ret), USAF
Air Force Association

Friday, December 4, 2009

Business items + Twitter

AFA Members, a few things for you to consider as we approach the Holiday season. First, please consider end-of-the year donations to the Air Force Association and its educational programs. We fund scholarships to spouses, to the children of our enlisted force, as well as numerous other programs … to include funding for parts of the Air Force Memorial. See this link for more information:

Secondly, please consider the gift of an AFA Membership to family members and friends. Such a gift goes to support our various missions and helps support Air Force Airpower. I frequently tell audiences that the Air Force need AFA more now … in today’s world … than almost any other time in history. Becoming a member is easy and can be done on line. See this link to join us:

Thirdly, we have a variety of Holiday cards … as well as an Air Force Memorial Collector’s Ornament. The latter makes an excellent gift to family members. For cards, see: www.holidaycardcenter/org/afa For Ornaments, see:[Take a moment to troll around the store … the Air Force Memorial Brooch is an Ann Hand pin … and make an excellent gift for many family members.

Fourthly, December is the only opportunity to enroll in AFA’s Group Legal Services Program. This is a new program and many have already signed on … see this website for more information:

Finally, an article a few weeks ago caught my attention. It is entitled “Why I Tweet” by Gen Craig McKinley. Gen McKinley is the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and a great supporter of AFA. I was encouraged to learn how he uses Twitter to communicate with fans. You can find the article at:

[Note also that AFA has Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Links to them are below.]

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Do We Need "Airminded" Options for Afghanistan? One General Thinks So

Major Gen Charles Dunlap, USAF, posted some personal opinions on the need for "airminded" options in Afghanistan. On the day that the President is outlining his plan to send more "boots on the ground" into harm's way in that mountainous region, these thoughts are well worth examining.

Take a look at Dunlap's opinion about Airminded Options.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Strategic Posture, Al Qaida's Goals

Thursday, November 26, 2009

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic Leaders, DOCA Members, last week AFA held its Global Warfare Symposium in LA. We had some great speakers - to include Secretary of the Air Force Donley, Gen Chilton, Gen Kehler, Gen North, Lt Gen Klotz, and many others. We will be putting transcripts of the speeches on our website ... but there were several which brought out great points.

With all the press on: Quadrennial Defense Review, Space Posture Review, Nuclear Posture Review, Ballistic Missile Defense Review, and a follow-on START treaty with Russia, Gen Chilton's talk was especially timely. In it he laid out what he needs to do his very complex mission. You can find it on the STRATCOM website here.

Lt Gen Klotz's talk centered on the challenges facing the newest Major Command in the Air Force - Global Strike Command. One thing he said struck me - "Every Air Force officer should read the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States." The report was written by a committee chaired by former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry. Since General Klotz is one of the smartest officers on active duty [and one of two Rhodes Scholars who are Lt Generals], I took the time to read the report - and Gen Klotz is right - it is a seminal report worth your time. You can find it here.

The rest of the speeches will be put on our website next week - probably mid-week. Check our website then click the Global Warfare Symposium button on the right side of the home page.

Finally, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, we need to remember the sacrifices of our great Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and civilians serving in harm's way - protecting our freedom. It is also worth noting that the enemy is global and it has stated its aims very clearly. While I could go into great detail on what those aims are ... the best depiction is one simple map.

I found this map on the web 5 years ago ... and kept it in a visible place in my office. A couple of things to note - first is the title of the map. Secondly, take a look at the lower right corner of the map. When someone asks me what Al Qaida wants, showing this map is the simplest way to point out their strategic aims, the long-term nature of the conflict, and the enemy's patience.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Industrial Base, Aircraft Costs

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic Leaders, DOCA Members, one concern I have had, following SECDEF's April decisions to shut-down or truncate seven aircraft production lines, is the continued vibrancy of the aerospace industrial base. As you may recall, the AF depends upon industry to produce the systems they need to defend the nation's interests both at home and abroad. This base has produced the world's best weapon systems – by any measure – and has provided the tools to facilitate the stunning military victories we have enjoyed these past 30+ years. The question for us all is: Can we continue to assume the industrial base will always be there in the future?

Dr. Rebecca Grant, Director of the Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies, has produced a Mitchell paper which addresses this question. You can find the paper on our website at:

Secondly, several months ago, during a Mitchell Institute presentation on the Hill, a Congressional Staff member asked a simple question: Why do weapon systems cost so much? Dr Grant answered him … and I added my two cents. However, I think neither of us did a very good job with our answers. Two weeks ago, I drafted a response to share with you … and sent it to several retired General officers for their comment. One – Gen (Ret) Richard E. Hawley – came back to me … not with edits, but with his own paper … which (not surprisingly) was better than mine. You can find a link to Gen Hawley's paper at:

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Thursday, November 12, 2009

CSAR, Sorties, Afghan, PRC Cyber, ABL

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic Leaders, and DOCA members, one of our staff members pointed me to a piece in Aimpoints - a pictorial about Combat Search and Rescue in Afghanistan - which is focused on the great work done by the Air Force's PJ's. The piece was done in September by Michael Yon - who was imbedded with the AF's CSAR forces. What I found interesting about the piece was its insights into what it is like to be deployed to Afghanistan - the scenery, the great work done by US forces, and the very-real dangers. Secondly, one can easily see why the Air Force needs a new replacement helicopter for this mission … and why this mission is not a "pick-up" mission. There has to be a dedicated force which trains, lives and breathes this mission. Finally, the heroism of these units makes one proud to have served with them. The link to the piece can be found at: [caution: the file is large and may take some time to download].

Secondly, the Air Force, on 3 Nov 09 recorded its 100,000th sortie this year in support of our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a milestone of which all of us can be proud.

Three very good op-eds for your consideration. The first looks at Afghanistan through the lens of Viet Nam. It is can be found at:

The second discusses China's Cyber offensive:

The third, by Gen (Ret) Lyles, argues that DOD's cuts to the Airborne Laser Program were misguided:

For your consideration,


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2010 Statement of Policy, Airpower in Afghanistan

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic Leaders, DOCA Members, In Sept AFA decided on its Statement of Policy for 2010. Its focus is on a Balanced Air Force - balanced in terms of capabilities today … and tomorrow. The long version can be found at:

For those of you who want the condensed version, you can find it at:

Secondly, two weeks ago there was a piece in a South Carolina newspaper which highlights just one aspect of Airpower's contributions to the fight in Afghanistan - that of airlift's vital role. You can find the story at:

Finally, with the national debate raging on what to do in Afghanistan, two Congressional leaders - Congressman Ike Skelton and Senator Joe Lieberman offered their advice in a piece entitled: "Don't Settle for Stalemate in Afghanistan." The piece appeared in the Washington Post a couple weeks ago and a link to it can be found on our website at:

For your consideration,


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cyber, Iran, Airpower

We ran across three interesting pieces. The first appeared in Foreign Affairs, is written by Gen (R) Wesley Clark and Peter Levin. It describes the nature and depth of the cyber threat to the US … and offers prescriptions for our defenses. What if leaves out are the many policy issues that the Administration must face in order to be fully prepared. You can find a link to this piece on our website at:

The second piece appeared in the Washington Times and discusses the after-effects of an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. It gives a thoughtful analysis to the issues … at the strategic level [which is generally hard to do within the limits of an op-ed page]. You can find a link to this piece on our website at:

Finally, a piece in Armed Forces Journal written by Phil Meilinger – a retired Air Force Colonel, who has a PhD in military history. In the piece he posits that it is Airpower that has drastically reduced civilian casualties in warfare. This is an important piece … as the President and his national security team debate sending more troops to Afghanistan. You can find a link to this piece on our website at:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Debt, Friedman, Heroes

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic Leaders, DOCA members, a while back I wrote, in concern, about my worries over the rising national debt. That this is a national security issue is without question. Last fiscal year, the interest on our $12 trillion debt was over $380 B. As the debt and interest rates rise, it will squeeze defense spending. A very good editorial on this can be found on our website at:

Secondly, this week Tom Friedman's editorial in the NY Times was a bit unusual. In it he recommends what President Obama should say at his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech … and he pays tribute to the great men and women who are defending our freedom. The editorial can be found at:

Finally, a small piece in the NY Post caught my attention. It pays tribute to two of our fallen warriors, who gave their last full measure. It turns out they were not killed in Iraq or Afghanistan … but in the Philippines … by Abu Sayyaf, an ally of Al Qaeda. This should remind us all of the global nature of terrorism … and what the stakes are in battling this scourge. You can find the article on our website at:

For your consideration,


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Esquire Magazine: We've Seen the Future, and It's Unmanned

Esquire magazine takes note of the changing face of air power in an article: "We've Seen the Future, and It's Unmanned."

"We've been thinking about this for a long time," Gersten says, and he reads me a quote from V-J Day, 1945, spoken by General Henry Arnold, who was taught to fly by the Wright brothers and commanded the Army Air Forces during World War II: "We have just won a war with a lot of heroes flying around in planes. The next war may be fought by airplanes with no men in them at all." Maybe Arnold didn't figure on so many wars in between, but technology is catching up with his vision.

The article, by Brian Mockenhaupt, is a great description of how Airmen in Arizona are directly engaged in battlefield operations half a world away.

Every so often in history, something profound happens that changes warfare forever. Next year, for the first time ever, the Pentagon will buy more unmanned aircraft than manned, line-item proof that we are in a new age of fighting machines, in which war will be ever more abstract, ever more distant, and ruthlessly efficient.

We buy more drone aircraft than jet fighters now, and train more pilots to fight them. Eight thousand miles away from the front lines, an unmanned aircraft pilot sits at a monitor, seeing everything...

It isn't until late in the article that the writer notes the inconvenient fact that -- at least for now -- unmanned aircraft are only useful in already-controlled airspace, a job that in today's Air Force still falls to manned fighter aircraft.

The planes could easily be shot down flying over hostile countries with robust air-defense systems. The Serbs downed a Predator in 1995 with a ground-to-air missile, and more were lost over Kosovo and Iraq. New UAVs will fly much higher and be equipped with countermeasures to thwart missile attack. For now the Predators and Reapers have dominion over Iraq and Afghanistan, where their biggest threat is a sharp crosswind on the runway.

Read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sources, YouTube

AFA Members, Congressional staffers, Civic leaders, and DOCA Members, there are some really good sources of information available on line … and I want to bring a couple to your attention. The first is from my former university – The National Defense University. One of its research centers [the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS)] has published a Global Strategic Assessment which is very good. The entire document is long … and if you only have time to read one chapter, I recommend Chapter 10 on South Asia. You can find the Assessment at:

INSS home page can take you to other publications:

Secondly, one document to which I often refer is the CIA World Factbook. It is unclassified and routinely updated. The sections I use the most are the country comparisons. For example, did you know that the US is 28th in the world in military spending as a percent of GDP? The top three? Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Or … that we are 10th in the world in GDP per capita, 50th in the world in life expectancy, and 57th in the world in education spending as a percent of GDP. The Factbook can be found at: You can get to the country comparisons section with the button entitled "Guide to Country Comparisons."

Finally, AFA has a number of videos up on YouTube. [Yes, I know those of you reading this on a government computer can't access YouTube – but you can forward this note to your home computer]. The videos which we used for the Air and Space Conference are the newest: Tuskeegee Airmen, Doolittle Raiders, and Dr. Schlesinger. The listing is at the bottom of this note.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Reminder: Many of you contribute to CFC. I would ask that you consider directing your donations to either the Air Force Association or the Air Force Memorial Foundation. The numbers are listed below:

AFA CFC Number: 12214
AFMF CFC Number: 11953

AFA's YouTube Channel (this includes all of our videos) -

The Tuskegee Airmen
Doolittle Raiders
Dr. Schlesinger
Air Force 61st Anniversary
Berlin Airlift
General Looney's Support of AFA
Air Force Pilot Commercial
Air Force Anniversary
2007 Jimmy Stewart 1st place
2007 Jimmy Stewart 2nd place
2007 Jimmy Stewart 3rd place
AFA - The Force Behind the Force

Fast Fact on the KC-X tanker

Why build a KC-X tanker? According to this report from UPI, the 50-year-old KC-135 fleet requires seven manhours of maintenance for each hour in the air. Another of the oldest KC-135E models was retired last month -- an inevitable trend.

Air Force 911 teams in Afghanistan

Another glimpse of our everyday heroes in the fight in Afghanistan, this one from Fox News. It's a brief look at the Air Force teams that bring in supplies to the troops in the most desolate parts of Afghanistan. Known as 911 teams, these Airmen set up a dirt runway and unload fast -- potentially under duress.

Read about it here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Follow AFA on Facebook & Twitter!

The Air Force Association is on Facebook and Twitter. To join us in either forum, simply visit our homepage and link to us at the bottom right hand of the page.

An Airman's Purple Heart

The Denver Daily News tells their readership about a hometown Airman on patrol in Afghanistan, wounded by a roadside bomb. The interview with Air Force Technical Sgt. Richard Gibbons sheds light on the everyday heroic service of thousands of Airmen and our Armed Forces.

Read more here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Podcasts/transcripts now available

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The podcasts and transcripts of AFA's Air & Space Conference speakers are now available at ... click here to go directly to the audio or transcipt of our three dozen forums. The list includes Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; the top leadership of the Air Force; special heritage presentations by the Tuskegee Airmen, the Doolittle Raiders and General Johnny Alison; Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Krauthammer; Vinton Cerf of Google; former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Richard Myers; foreign policy experts and more.

Education and Opinion

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic leaders, DOCA Members, we have just put up lots of very good op-eds on the Education and Opinion part of our homepage [see:]. Notable among them are:

Missile Defense

•A piece by Sec Gates on the changes the Administration has made to missile defense plans in Europe

•A piece from the Wall Street Journal critical of the Administration's missile defense plans in Europe


•A piece by GEN David Petraeus that posits that Afghanistan is hard … but do-able

•One by Senators Lindsey Graham, Joseph Lieberman, and John McCain urging the Administration to not "muddle through."

•And one by Frederick Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, and James Dubik that argues that Afghan forces aren't yet a substitute for our own.


•A piece by Omar Fadhil Al-Nidawi and Austin Bay which argues that the while US forces may depart Iraq by Dec 2011, the Iraqi Air Force will not be ready to do the job until 2016 at best, or more probably 2018 or 2020.

•One by Thomas Friedman which talks about Iraq's nescient institutions.

•A piece by Andres Oppenheimer that questions Venezuela's ties to Iran.


•A piece by Amb Chester Crocker that posits that we confuse engagement as a strategy … when it is really a process.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Friday, September 25, 2009

Air Force Tanker Request for Proposal

The Air Force just released its long awaited Draft Request for Proposal for a new tanker, This occurred after Sec Gates transferred responsibility for the tanker's acquisition back to the Air Force

Concurrent with this, the Air Mobility Command (AMC) released a White Paper which talks about the Imperative for a new tanker. This document is an exceptional piece. It details not only the rationale for a new tanker, but gives the reader some idea on its concept of operations. I especially like the following parts [listed by PDF page]:

Page 5 where AMC asks if we had ever tried to buy parts for a 1950s vintage Zenith television [I have … but found it cheaper to replace the TV rather than get someone to provide the parts.]

Page 6 – the chart which shows the average age of various airline fleets

Page 9 – where a RAND study is cited saying that the present KC-135 fleet will be 90 years old when fully retired … and the operation of a 90 year old fleet is unprecedented in aviation history

Operational scenarios which begin on page 9 show the range of missions our tanker fleet is expected to support

You can find the White Paper on our website at:

A while back, one of you wrote me … your were the "Grandfather" who flew as a crew member on the KC-135 in the early 60s. Your dad was the "Great Grandfather" who got into the system near the end of his career in the late 1950s. Your son flew on the aircraft in the 1980s. And you were hoping your Grand daughter – who was in pilot training at the time got the chance to fly the aircraft next year. We all hope this family tradition does not continue for 40 or more years … as you will surely set a record for 6 generations of one family on the same system.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

McChrystal Report, Airpower Advocates

AFA members, the news this week includes the initial report from GEN McChrystal on Afghanistan. Many news agencies are commenting on it … "interpreting" it for us. I thought you might like to see the report itself. You can find it on the Washington Post website at:

Caution: the file is 66 pages long … and it is the redacted version and is unclassified.

Secondly, AFA needs to strengthen its grass roots advocacy. We have created a group I call Airpower Advocates [ … and no … I abbreviate it as APA … not something else]. These advocates are available to talk to local civic groups - Rotary, Kiwanis, etc. They build strong ties with the local press. They occasionally write op-eds or letters to the editor. And they are a resource for Congressional MLAs and liaison with the local Congressional offices. I try to keep them informed on Airpower issues … and we frequently teleconference with as many as are available.

You can read a bit about it at:

Right now we have about 50 APA members spread throughout the country. That is not enough … give our mission and our membership. I would like to get about 200 more of you to volunteer for this program. For those of you who are interested in the program, please notify Chet Curtis by email at:

And … to be a full APA member, it is probably best if you are not on active duty … as we sometimes differ slightly from official Air Force positions … However, if you are a good communicator, we would have you do part of the APA mission … talk with local civic groups. If you are interested, email Chet Curtis.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

Friday, September 18, 2009

SECDEF, SECAF and CSAF remarks to AFA

This week AFA held its annual Air & Space Conference in Washington DC. It was a great event … and very well attended. We had presentations from a vast array of leaders, both inside and outside of the Air Force. Many attendees got to hear from such luminaries as the Doolittle Raiders and the Tuskegee Airmen.

Three of the presentations were especially notable. The first was by Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. His speech can be found on our website at:

Following his talk, Secretary Gates took questions from the audience. The questions and his answers can be found at:

The second notable talk was given by Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley. It can be found on our website at:

Finally, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen Norton Schwartz made a presentation that can also be found on our website at:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Secretary Gates restores tanker authority to Air Force

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Speaking today at the final day of AFA's Air & Space Conference, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made news by restoring U.S. Air Force authority in the tanker buy.

Read the report from AIR FORCE Magazine here.

Read more here.

In extensive remarks before a packed ballroom at the Gaylord National Conference Center in National Harbor, Gates expressed confidence in Air Force leaders and lauded the service of Airmen and their roles in Afghanistan and Iraq. Acknowledging their efforts are often unsung, he detailed their contribution and turned the focus to the vital role of airpower in future defense of the country.

A complete transcript will be available soon at

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Petraeus' apology, McCaffrey briefing

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

AFA Members, a while back, AFA's Daily Report reported on a speech made by GEN Petraeus. [] I received over 600 emails about the report item … all similar in nature. Later, the DR published the fact that he apologized for his remarks to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. We have put a link up on a more extensive apology by the general. You can find it at:

Secondly, I want to point you to a slide briefing by GEN (R) McCaffrey []. In it the general highlights nine national security challenges facing the nation. I like the succinct nature in which he hits the main points. Caution: the piece is political in nature … but I am sure most of you can read around those parts.

For your consideration,


Michael M. Dunn

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Life & Wars of Gen Curtis LeMay

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

AFA Members, Congressional Staffers, Civic Leaders, and DOCA members, this past weekend I read a great book – one that anyone who cares about airpower should consider. The book is entitled: LEMAY – The Life and Wars of General Curtis LeMay. It is written by Warren Kozak, published in 2009, and came to me via a staff member from a former Chairman of the Board of AFA. Simply put – the book destroyed all the preconceived notions I had about General LeMay – most of which were formed by his run for Vice President, the movie Dr. Strangelove, and his often quoted statement of "bombing the North Vietnamese back to the stone age."

Here is a sampling of what I found in the book:

"It should be remembered that generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant fought seventeen battles in each of their careers. LeMay fought one almost every day for three years. And unlike any other general in modern times, he did not send his men out on perilous missions, he led them. On the most dangerous missions, LeMay insisted on flying the lead aircraft in the formation himself, in the first plane the enemy would target. No other general in WWII did this."

The Army Air Corps chose the B-18 over the B-17 in the 1935 heavy bomber competition. The country was in the midst of the great depression and leaders were looking for the 75% solution [my words] when it came to recapitalizing the Army Air Corps. However, this compromised approach yielded an aircraft that lacked both the payload capacity and range to effectively engage in most combat scenarios—including those anticipated in Europe and the Pacific. Fortunately, Congress had the wisdom to add money for the B-17 – to keep both the bomber … and the Boeing Company alive for what was to come. By the end of the war 12,000 B-17s had been constructed, with nearly half of these lost in combat.

" … the start of the military buildup in the fall of 1941 hardly relieved LeMay's anxiety. The US was starting from nothing. It was impossible, he thought to correct twenty years of neglect in just six months or even a year, and he was right."

" The entire American effort managed just over seventy sorties in August of 1942, compared to … more than 20,000 [sorties] a month later in the war."

"He had no tolerance whatsoever for stupidity, incompetence, or laziness, and he was brutal when he witnessed these cardinal vices. … his consistent refrain was: "whoever didn't cut it or didn't like it here could always go to the infantry."

"Undergirding all Japanese strategy was a dismissive view that Americans [were] products of liberalism and individualism and incapable of fighting a protracted war."

"In any given month in the first half of 1945, upwards of 250,000 Asians were dying at the hands of the Japanese – a quarter of a million lives every thirty days."

"All told, the Air Force dropped over 12,000 mines and brought Japan's shipping down to one-tenth of what it had been before the mining."

LeMay in a speech in 1945: "It is beyond my powers of description to picture to you the difference between the bomb-blackened ruins and the desolation of our enemy's cities and the peaceful Ohio cities and landscape, untouched and unmarred by war. I can only say to you, if you love America, do everything you can do to make sure that what happened to Germany and Japan will never happen to our country. Our preparedness for war should be the measure of our desire for peace. The last war was started by airpower and finished by [airpower]. America, if attacked must be able to take the initiative immediately. It must attack in turn."

LeMay (in 1965): "[The enemy asked for it and they got it.] In reverse fashion, if we keep listening to the gospel of apology and equivocation which all too many politicians and savants are preaching today in the US, we will be asking for the same thing. And in time may achieve it."

"'Whatever you do, somebody's going to criticize you. Forget criticism,' was the advice he gave to Air Force personnel."

A list of LeMay's accomplishments is staggering.

He developed heavy bombing tactics in the European Theater of Operations … replacing ineffective and haphazard methods with disciplined combat formations that maximized the bombers' ability to defend themselves against enemy fighters and increase bombing accuracy over the target.
He developed the tactics that transformed B-29 operations in the Pacific from an utter failure into an overwhelming success by adopting unorthodox tactics and low altitude bombing runs.
He created the RAND Corporation
He started the ICBM program
He was the Commander of the Air Force in Europe at the start of the Berlin Air Lift
He built the Strategic Air Command into a force second to none
Despite his legendary differences with SECDEF McNamara (who earlier served under him as a Lt Col), the latter said about him: "Without question, Curtis LeMay was the finest combat commander the US has ever produced."

On balance, this book is important for many reasons. Gen LeMay stood up against group-think. He understood airpower and the human dimension of war. He stood by his principles, shunned popularity, argued for a strong deterrent. And … he was right. We owe him a ton. The legacy of his efforts still grace our Air Force today in Minutemen missiles, B-52 bombers, and KC-135 tankers.

For your consideration,


Michael M. Dunn

Combined Federal Campaign kick off

Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009

The Combined Federal Campaign has now kicked off! Consider the Air Force Association and the Air Force Memorial in your giving.

• AFA CFC Number: 12214 • AFMF CFC Number: 11953

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Light Fighter?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weekly Standard blogger John Noonan highlighted the Air Force's need for a new light fighter to eventually replace some of the duties of the aging A-10 Warthog. The A-10 has long been an extraordinarily useful part of the fleet as an effective "tank-killer" and other strong points, but they are unquestionably old.

The writer notes a couple of airframes such as the T-6 Texan or the Brazilian Super Tucano that -- once properly outfitted -- can at least partially duplicate the A-10, then spotlights the Stavatti-made SM-27 from a Hawaii-based company.

The writer opines that its speed, looks and loiter-ability make it the best choice, but that its $10 million pricetag knock it to the back of the line, since the budget is likely $5 million for a new counter insurgency dedicated fighter.

Read the entire item here, then be sure to click here for a look at the concept manned/unmanned follow-on SM-47.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

China and Afghanistan

Three op-eds to bring to your attention. The first is by Randy Schriver, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, East Asia … and senior country director for China in DOD. He points out trends he sees in the People's Liberation Army - and their development of a first-rate military. [Yes - that's their formal name … and they swear an oath, life our military does … except theirs it to protect the Communist Party … and not their Constitution … and their Air Force is called: The People's Liberation Army Air Force - go figure]. Mr. Schriver's observations are measured … and I think balanced. See this link on our Education and Opinion page:

Secondly, I commend to you two op-eds on Afghanistan. The first is by Bing West, former Assistant Secretary of Defense, combat reporter, and Marine. He reports on the ground and has both policy and operational experience. He should be read and digested. You can find a link to his piece on our website at:

The second piece on Afghanistan that caught my interest was written by David Miliband, Foreign Secretary in the UK [SECSTATE equivalent]. In his piece he outlines three steps he believes necessary to rebuild Afghanistan. A link to his piece can be found at:

For your consideration,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Thoughts from Afghanistan


My name is Dr. Barnstuble and I just returned from Afghanistan serving with a PRT unit. I find your stats kind of interesting and I agree with a lot, but from what I saw the AF may be supporting a lot of the mission there but is not sacrificing as much as your average marine or army individual. I don't know if we should be--is ground combat part of our mission--but from what I saw I can tell you we have it good.

My unit was made up of 1/2 army and 1/2 AF. We were 1 of 6 AF PRT's, so about 300 AF members total. We went on convoys daily, were deployed 9months in country, 3 months CST training under GO#1 living in tents.
Sure, there are >5,000 AF members in country but lets see the stats on WHERE in country they are! How many are stationed at BAF and KAF? How many go out on convoys where the risk is greatest? How many interact with the locals and form relationships which is the key to a COIN war.

I was apart of the 755 AEF group, and the latest figures I had was roughly 1700 Airmen were attached to that group. Out of that group, only 300 where on a PRT going out regularly. There are others, like medics filling ILO taskings going out and dangerous combat controllers, but even out of the 1700 in the 755th, most do not regularly go out.
Most AF billets are in relatively safe conditions compared to the Army and Marines. Most billets are 6 months with no CST. At BAF there is Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, gyms, movie theater, a nice hospital, etc. The same with KAF. Now look at the firebases scattered all throughout that country. There are army guys using piss tubes and burning there crap.
They eat MRE's daily and are in very remote areas. Treadmills, yeah right. BAF, KAF, and Kabul have them but I can tell you no one in the entire province of Zabul had a functioning one.

The AF has over 20,000 airmen deployed. It is amazing to me though that out of the 20-25,000 deployed there are 5,800 in Afghanistan and 1,700 in the 755th and less than that going out. The math: 1700/20,000 = 8.5 % and less than that that are doing equivalent army/marine type things.

I am an airman and I have seen both types of deployments. I don't think the AF's mission is to drive MRAPs and shoot 50 cals, but my only point is that we have it pretty good comparatively speaking. So, I would not be too proud of our numbers of troops "on the ground" when there are still over 100,000 troops in Iraq and now probably >50,000 in Afghanistan with the AF's footprint and risk small in comparison to the other branches. I served with those Romanian troops in Zabul province.
They were out everyday, driving less armored vehicles than us, taking as many casualties as the Army guys, and doing a damn good job. I would venture to say those 1,000 Romanian soldiers went out more than our AF in Afghanistan. I bet that those 1,000 Romanians had more risk than the 5,800 Airman over there. The UK troops are getting hammered in the worst province over there. How many UK troops have you heard recently die? It is every week you hear of some. How many AF folks? Not as many. The same is true with Canada. They have a small footprint but they have one of the highest casualties per capita in that place. More than the AF for sure. It is because they are in the second roughest province--Kandahar.

So, while I agree NATO needs to help more from its contributing countries, we should look deeper at our numbers, our locations, our types of deployments before bashing some NATO countries. Before I deployed, I was in a room of deployers of about 50 from my base. Out of that, about 5 were actually going to where the 2 wars were and only 1 going longer than 6 months. Have the same meeting in the Army and see where the hands are? Everyone is 12months and the vast majority are going where the wars are.

Just some thoughts from a physician who just got back.

Brent Barnstuble, CPT, USAF

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Troops on the ground and a STEM Study

We hear a lot about Afghanistan ... and GEN McChrystal is developing a new strategy and might ask for more troops. We thought it might be useful to point out how many are there now ... and from which countries. According to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), there are presently 64,500 allied troops in Afghanistan ... with the US providing 29,950 -- less than half of the total. There are 42 nations which are providing troops. The nations with the largest number of troops are:

UK -- 9,000
Germany -- 4,050
France -- 3,160
Canada -- 2,800
Italy -- 2,795
Poland -- 2,000
Netherlands -- 1,770
Australia -- 1,090
Romania -- 1,025

It is important to note that the United State Air Force has 5800 Airmen on the ground in Afghanistan - more than any other country except for the UK. Plus the Air Force has thousands supporting the effort at AF Space Command, flying RPAs from Nevada, flying missions from Diego Garcia, flying tanker missions from the Gulf, and supporting the operation with lift on an hourly basis.

Additionally, a significant task is to train the Afghan National Army. Presently, there are 91,000 trained out of an authorized strength of 134,000. You can find more details about this data at:

Secondly, we had an Executive Committee meeting this past weekend and among the discussion topics was the state of STEM Education [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math] in the US today. One expert on the subject opined that US citizens received less than 50% of all STEM PhDs in this country. That prompted me to do a bit of research ... and the "opiner" is not too far off. The seminal study in this area is done by University of Chicago ... and is based on data from 2005-2006 year. The entire document is over 19 Megs ... so I cut it and put the one page executive summary ... plus all the tables and graphs mentioned in the Executive Summary ... into one document on our website ( A few observations:

56% of all science and engineering doctorates were awarded to US citizens -- however, only 32 % of engineering doctorates went to US citizens
Of those non-US citizens who earned doctorates, China (4,774) had the most; India second (1,742); then S. Korea (1,648); Taiwan (718); Canada (561)
51% of all research doctorates awarded to US citizens went to women
54% of those who graduated with employment ... planned to teach in universities
The point of above is we are approaching the time when we will be short of STEM graduates in this country. The aerospace industry is especially affected ... as one -- repeat one -- single aerospace company told me they hire over 5% of all undergraduate engineers the nation produces. It is also important to notice where the bulk of the non-citizen doctorates will reside in the future ... Nuff said.

Finally, the AF Memorial Foundation had produced a limited edition holiday ornament - that was selling fast. The Foundation also has a range of holiday cards. We plan to have a different ornament and card - both featuring the Air Force Memorial -- every year. We will offer past years' ornaments until we run out and every year we plan to add to the holiday card selection that features the Air Force Memorial. You can find information on our website at:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gen McPeak in WSJ: Why we need the F-22

General Merrill McPeak, former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, weighed in with a Sunday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that establishes the need for airpower generally and the F-22 Raptor in particular. While the decision to terminate the program early has already been made, at least in one vote in Congress, the article stands as a excellent reminder of the dangers of misplaced thinking about the lack of near-peer threats.

Here are a couple of his quotes:
In an argument they seem to think makes sense, critics say the aircraft has no worthy opponent—as if we want to create forces that do have peer competitors.

Our guys on the ground had hard work to do, but when they looked up, they saw only friendly skies. For the life of me, I can’t understand why we should wish to change this.

Here is the entire article.

Russia Aims for Modernized Air Fleet by 2020

A Russian general outlined Russian plans to dramatically upgrade their Air Force for a mix of 70 percent new aircraft by 2020. The plan calls for a mix of the fifth generation fighters now in development, with upgraded 4th++ generation aircraft rounding out the numbers. A fifth generation bomber is also on the drawing board.

Read the entire article here.

The U.S. Air Force and Navy aging fighter fleets are also facing a considerable gap in upcoming years, as older fourth generation planes age out and the fifth generation F-35 comes online. Some members of Congress have also mentioned the purchase of newer fourth generation aircraft to partially mitigate the growing problem.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

UAS Symposium: USAF Academic Outreach

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Air Force is discussing Unmanned Aerial Systems (AUS) at the University of North Dakota today as part of a three-day Symposium. UAS is a growing part of the Air Force budget and daily operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gen Stephen Lorenz, Commander, Air Education and Training Command is headlining along with political leaders from the state: Gov. John Hoeven, Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan, and Congressman Earl Pomeroy.

Major topics include: National Airspace System Integration, UAS Integrated Lifecycle Management, UAS Training, Airborne Networks, Small UAS Development, Artificial Intelligence, and USAF UAS Flight Plan for the next four decades.

For more, visit and click "events" -- or just click here.

UAS will also be among our current topics at next month's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition. This year's largest-ever Expo floor will certainly include UAS-related displays of the top technology. Learn more or register here.

Don’t Change TRICARE Commitment

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

With the national healthcare debate often the top topic in media and politics, the Air Force Association is urging that, whatever happens, it should not in any way diminish the TRICARE coverage that is an earned benefit of our men and women who serve.

“TRICARE is an important earned benefit for members of the Armed Forces and retirees, not just another health care insurance plan,” said Joe Sutter, Chairman of the Board for AFA. “TRICARE coverage should not be diminished in any way by changes to Medicare or a national health care program.”

“Under no circumstances should TRICARE benefits be taxed,” said Mike Dunn, President of AFA. “TRICARE is part of the special national commitment we make to those that are serving and have served. It is an earned benefit, and should not be folded into any national public option plan.”

Read the AFA statement here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

CQ highlights AFA's growing CyberPatriot competition

AFA's high school CyberPatriot competition has been dramatically expanded since it's first year. CQ Politics writes of the growing importance of the cybersecurity field and getting some of the best and brightest involved in this career early.

The Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot Defense Competition, for example, has signed up more than 200 teams from 44 states, Japan and South Korea. Their goal, said Sanford Schlitt, vice president of the association’s Aerospace Education Board, was to recruit two to three schools in each of 25 to 30 states.

Learn more about AFA's rapidly growing CyberPatriot competition here.

Read the article here.

UK keeps eye on F-35 delivery

The looming fighter gap is not only a concern for the US Air Force and US Navy. Similarly, the UK is keeping an eye on the expected delivery of their F-35s for their growing carrier fleet.

The British Daily Star reports some back and forth from officials on the topic here, including a quote from AFA.

Douglas Birkey of the Air Force Association in America said: “Customers such as the United Kingdom are on very tight schedules because their current equipment is rapidly ageing out. They need the F-35 as backfill.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

2010 Budget, Afghanistan

This week I ran across perhaps the best document I have seen to date on the FY2010 budget. It is a CRS document [warning - it is very large - over 70 pages] that is very readable. It has lots of great info in it … and I want to highlight just one of many useful facts. Note the chart on page 5 [document page 5, not PDF page 5]. AFA's view is that we as a nation spend a minimum of 4% of GDP on defense in the base budget. This chart tells you what we get if we did that through 2012. You can find the document on our website at:

Secondly, one of you sent me a series of pictures of what it is like on the ground in Afghanistan. We put the pictures on the web. [Note: the file is very large and will take time to download]. A few points on these pictures. I am told they are pictures of the Spanish Army in the country - not the US Army or Marines. They give you an idea of how rugged the terrain is … and what our magnificent troops are having to endure. Finally, they are a testament as to why airpower is so important. If one wants to travel quickly, strike quickly, or do almost anything militarily in the country, you have to rely on air and space power. My favorite photo? See page six. []

Finally, I want to recommend an op-ed which appeared this week in the Wall Street Journal []. It is written by Bing West, a former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Marine. Mr. West has spent considerable time in both Iraq and Afghanistan and looks at the countries with both a policy and operational mindset. The piece is both educational and opinion-based. If you only have time for one paragraph, read the last one - which reminds me of the movie Charlie Wilson's War … at the very end of the movie - where we can spend billions to help the mujahadin defeat the Soviets … but can't come up with $1M for a school house.

For your consideration,


Michael M. Dunn

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dietsch: Air Dominance over Future Battlefields?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Col. (Ret) David Dietsch, writing in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram said the early termination of the F-22 is "fraught with danger for America's future national security."

"If the Senate’s will stands, the United States will have taken its first step since the end of World War II in abdicating its position as the world’s superpower — a position attained through the blood and sacrifice of millions of Americans," Dietsch said. "To whom do we want to relinquish that position?"

The cap of 187 F-22s built (although one of those has crashed) is really roughly 100 ready warplanes, based on the needs of training, maintenance and depot. He notes those 100 must provide the air dominance mission for a two-war scenario.

The threat environment to our pilots is growing rapidly. Not only are Russia and China developing rival fifth generation fighters that will be sold to other nations, but fourth generation aircraft like the F-15 are already threatened by deadly Surface-to-Air Missiles, which are becoming widespread.

He takes on two common misperceptions: "The F-35 Lightning II, while a superior aircraft for its mission, was not developed to attain and maintain air dominance and, indeed, relies on that to be effective at its intended role of ground attack. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, which play a crucial role in intelligence and real-time attack, would be useless in an environment without air dominance."

Col. Dietsch is President of Air Force Association Texas.

Read the entire Star-Telegram article here.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Five Raptor Myths

Monday, July 27, 2009

In the recent weeks of coverage of the F-22, it's been tough to find any discussion of the actual merits of the Raptor. Most articles not written by AIR FORCE Magazine focused on the budget or politics of the matter, not the strategic needs for this aircraft. The Weekly Standard has been an exception to this rule more than once. Their latest offering is quite political but also explodes the myths about the F-22 that persisted nearly unanswered in too many press accounts.

Reuben F Johnson, in "Myths of the Raptor," writes that the F-22's fate was decided over a standoff of "manhood" -- the airplane had become a symbolic vote.

Read it here and decide for yourself.

Friday, July 24, 2009

F-22, Dr Schlesinger and Predators

As everyone may know, this week the Senate voted to strip F-22 funds from the Authorization bill. Following that, both Chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees announced they would follow suit and not force additional F-22s on the Administration. AFA, of course, believes the Air Force needs more F-22s. AFA made its case often to anyone who would listen. We did our best to counter the mounds of misinformation on the aircraft. However, we did not prevail. I can only hope that years in the future we won't be forced to say: "We wish we had more of these aircraft."

Recently, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) conducted an excellent interview with former Secretary of Defense, Dr. James R. Schlesinger. The subject was nuclear deterrence – a subject in which Dr. Schlesinger is one of our nation's foremost experts. The start of the article quotes Dr. Schlesinger as saying: "Nuclear weapons are used every day." You can find the link to the piece on our website under education and opinion: (selected Dr. Schlesinger for AFA's Lifetime Achievement Award. He will be honored along with the Tuskegee Airmen and the Doolittle Raiders at this year's Anniversary Dinner which ends the Air & Space Conference in Washington on 16 Sep.)

Finally, last week an intriguing piece in the WSJ covered a tough subject – Predators and Civilians. The editorial attempted shed light on the issue of predator strikes which sometimes cause civilian casualties. I think the article is balanced and weighs a lot of factors. You can find the piece at: As an aside, two weeks ago, I listened to The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen Norton A. Schwartz, address a group of House members and staff. He made the point that the name "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle" is really a misnomer. It implied that no humans were involved in its operation – which as the experts know is not the case. I have started using the term: "Remotely Piloted Vehicle" or RPV as a better description of this category of weapon system.

For your consideration,


Michael M. Dunn

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Two-tenths of 1% of the budget

Sen Chris Dodd, D-Conn, supported building seven more F-22s. He questioned the fiscal restraint claims of opponents, noting the 95,000 jobs the Raptor preserves.

He also said this: “That’s two-tenths of 1 percent of the budget before us.” Dodd chairs the Senate banking committee.

The same article quotes retired Gen. Michael Dunn, president of the Air Force Association, as not convinced the F-22 is “necessarily dead.”

Dunn sees a parallel to the American experience with another costly weapon: the B-1 bomber. “There have been countless times when conventional wisdom said weapons were too expensive, but history proves those critics wrong,” Dunn said. “We’ve needed the B-1 many, many times since.”

Read the entire story here.

Investor's Business Daily on the Raptor

An analysis/opinion piece in the Investor's Business Daily asks two pointed questions about the F-22 Raptor:

1) If it is so unnecessary and a Cold War relic, just why do the Japanese want it so badly?

2) Why is a country willing to spend trillions of dollars on TARP bailouts unable to afford seven more Raptors?

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael M. Dunn, chief executive of the Air Force Association, notes that in last year's conflict in Georgia, the Raptor was the only aircraft in our inventory that could have penetrated the defended airspace and had a chance of surviving.

The article reminds us that the F-22 is our only current fighter that can survive newer Surface-to-Air Missiles. It goes on to note the Raptor's capabilities in comparison with the F-35, which was always intended to be complementary, not a replacement for the F-22.

It also takes issue with the characterization of the F-22 as a "niche" weapon: "Air dominance is not a niche scenario."

Read it here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Japan's hopes for F-22 await US Congress

The U.S. Air Force isn't alone in watching the outcome of the congressional debate over the F-22 Raptor with keen interest. Japan's hopes for the fifth generation fighter likely also rest on keeping the production line alive for a few more years, as a prerequisite to overturning the ban on sales, even to proven allies.

"Japan's long-standing quest to obtain the F-22, however, may be shot down amid the intense political struggle over the F-22s very future," reports the Washington Times. "President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have made termination of F-22 production at 187 planes a symbolic goal of their effort to cut defense spending and reorient U.S. military strategy."

The article's key paragraph: "While Japan may also purchase the F-35, there are two important reasons Washington should fully support Japan's goal to acquire the F-22. First, the F-22 will be the only combat aircraft capable of countering China's expected fifth-generation fighters. Second, selling Japan the Raptor may become a critical nonnuclear means for Washington to help Japan deter a China on its way to becoming a military superpower by the 2020s. If Washington cannot provide decisive nonnuclear means to deter China, Japan may more quickly consider decisive deterrents such as missiles and nuclear weapons."

Read the entire article here.

AFA Rebuttal to Sec Gates' Speech

Air Force Association Response to 7/16/09 Speech by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at the Economic Club of Chicago:

1. Secretary Gates:
“With the support of the Air Force leadership, I concluded that 187 – the program of record since 2005, plus four more added in the FY 09 supplemental – was a sufficient number of F-22s and recommended as such to the president.”

Facts: The program of record for 187 F-22s is a budget-driven number. 243 is the military requirement for a fleet size that affords “moderate risk.”

a. According to General John Corley, Commander Air Combat Command, “In my opinion, a fleet of 187 F-22s puts execution of our current national military strategy at high risk in the near to mid-term. To my knowledge there are no studies that demonstrate 187 are adequate to support our national military strategy. Air Combat Command analysis, done in concert with Headquarters Air Force, shows a moderate risk can be obtained with an F-22 fleet of approximately 250 aircraft” (June 9, 2009 letter to Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA))

b. During an April 30, 2009 Senate Armed Services Airland subcommittee hearing, Barry Watts, senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, testified that the figure of 183 F-22s was "purely budget driven." He continued, "The Air Force was essentially told, 'Given the cap on the program, the total acquisition program, you can produce as many as you can under that cap.'"

c. Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell stated on 7/14/09 that a recent “study” highlighted by Pentagon leadership as the justification for terminating the F-22 fighter isn’t really a study at all, but a series of briefings by DOD’s Program Analysis and Evaluation shop and the Air Force. According to Morrell, the reports are “not so much a ‘study’” as “work products.” This declaration should not be viewed as an exercise in semantics. Canceling the F-22 before the military requirement is fulfilled entails tremendous strategic risk that should be informed by robust analysis, not ad hoc “work products” to justify budget cuts.

d. The Air Force requirement for F-22 was 381 for 8 years (2000 to 2008) and the threat environment has only increased over that time. Trying to make 187 (183+4) to appear as a "requirement," when in fact it is not, raises series questions about the integrity of the defense planning process.

2. Secretary Gates: “President Obama’s budget proposal is, I believe, the nation’s first truly 21st century defense budget. It explicitly recognizes that over the last two decades the nature of conflict has fundamentally changed – and that much of America’s defense establishment has yet to fully adapt to the security realities of the post-Cold War era and this complex and dangerous new century.”

Facts: When it comes to defense planning, this much is constant: It is not possible to predict the future. That’s why we should prepare for a wide range of threats.

a. That, in fact, is the key lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan. The nation over the past few decades largely ignored investing in irregular warfare capabilities because leaders thought we would never engage in it after Vietnam. They were wrong and the country paid for this mistake with tremendous sacrifice

b. Failure to acquire the full "moderate-risk" military requirement of 243 F-22s repeats this mistake, just at the other end of the spectrum. We should not be trading ground-force casualties in unarmored humvees for ground-force casualties in air attacks, or for airmen shot down in obsolete, unsurvivable aircraft in future conflicts.

c. As history proves, the only thing more costly than a first-rate Air Force is a second-rate Air Force.

3. Secretary Gates: “Most of the proposals – especially those that increase support for the troops, their families, and the war effort – have been widely embraced. However, some of the crucial reforms that deal with major weapons programs have met with a less than enthusiastic reaction in the Congress, among defense contractors, and within some quarters of the Pentagon itself.”

Facts: Taking care of the men and women who serve our nation in uniform along with their families demands that we provide them with the equipment required to fight, survive, and win.

a. Air Dominance is the precondition for any successful US combat operation—whether facing a conventional or asymmetric foe.

b. The global threat environment is rapidly evolving and proliferation of modern weaponry is negating the survivability of the Air Force’s legacy fleet. Over thirty nations operate fighter aircraft that equal or exceed the capabilities of the F-15 and F-16, whose designs respectively date back to the 1960s and 1970s. Nations such as Russia and China are also developing 5th generation fighters that will have F-22-like capabilities and will be bought in F-35-like quantities … and sold to other countries.

c. The F-22 is the only fighter aircraft currently in the Air Force inventory that is survivable in this increasingly dangerous world.

d. While the F-35 promises to be a capable aircraft, its entire design was based on the premise that an adequate number of F-22s would secure the sky. In fact, the F-35’s anticipated affordability has been enabled through the protection the F-22 and its advanced capabilities are supposed to provide for the F-35 in defended airspace.

4. Secretary Gates: “the F-22 is clearly a capability we do need – a niche, silver-bullet solution for one or two potential scenarios – specifically the defeat of a highly advanced enemy fighter fleet. The F-22, to be blunt, does not make much sense anyplace else in the spectrum of conflict.”

Facts: Air Dominance is can never be taken for granted nor should it ever be considered a “silver bullet” or “niche” capability. In fact, history clearly illustrates that small countries can make life very challenging in the sky.

a. During the Korean War US Air Force struggled to deploy sufficient numbers of fighters to secure air dominance. Cold War air defense requirements in the United States and Europe stretched the force thin and at one point during the summer of 1951, the Air Force was only able to field 89 F-86s in Korea against nearly 400 MiG 15s. Air dominance was far from guaranteed during this period and operations often ground to a halt because of the risk posed by enemy aircraft.

b. In Vietnam, we lost 2,448 aircraft to a third world military whose Air Force deployed fewer than 200 aircraft. Over half the F-105s ever built were shot down in combat and the type was withdrawn from service in 1971 because too few existed in the inventory to support a sustainable rotation base. In fact during the final days of the Vietnam War during Operation Linebacker II, we lost 15 B-52 in 12 days because we were unable to secure air dominance.

c. In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, Israel lacked air dominance and lost 109 aircraft, over a third of its prewar air strength, in just 19 days of combat. On the ground, its foes, facing weakened Israeli air attacks and emboldened by the success of their surface-to-air missiles and antiaircraft fire, extracted a heavy toll of Israeli forces, destroying over 400 tanks.

d. Off the Falklands in 1982, Britain's Royal Navy lacked sufficient air power to prevent Argentine airmen from successfully attacking British ships, even though Argentina possessed largely outdated "hand-me-down" equipment. Britain lost so many ships that on-scene commanders and government ministers alike feared their fleet might have to be withdrawn. The resolute courage and training of British servicemen, combined with Argentine mistakes, enabled Britain to prevail. But that victory came at an excessive price. Subsequently, the Royal Navy has acknowledged "Air supremacy is a necessary precondition of command of the sea."

5. Secretary Gates:
“It simply will not do to base our strategy solely on continuing to design and buy – as we have for the last 60 years – only the most technologically advanced versions of weapons to keep up with or stay ahead of another superpower adversary – especially one that imploded nearly a generation ago.”
Facts: The United States should never take technological superiority for granted or fail to recognize its unparalleled importance. Without this advantage, we largely have to revert back to winning wars by attrition.

a. During the Second World War, US aircraft were largely at parity with those fielded by enemy forces. We lost 10,000 aircraft and 30,000 airmen over the skies of Europe, and many troops on the ground died under enemy air attack during this brutal war of attrition.

b. During the Vietnam War, US aircraft flew a total of 873 sorties against the Thanh Hoa Bridge, a target that spanned the Song Me River. The strikes began in 1965 and the bridge survived seven year’s worth of repeat attacks, during which 104 pilots were shot down in the process. The structure was finally destroyed on April 27, 1972 when Air Force aircraft used then-new precision guided munitions to eliminate the structure on a single mission. Afterwards, 7th AF HQ stated that "to have inflicted comparable damage, no less than 2,400 unguided bombs would have been required."

c. The advantage afforded by technology was also illustrated on the first night of Desert Storm when 20 new F-117 stealth fighters took the unprecedented step of attacking 28 separate targets. On the same night it took a combined force of 41 legacy non-stealth aircraft to strike one target—4 F/A-18s to defend against enemy aircraft, 3 drones to serve as decoys, 5 EA-6B aircraft to jam enemy radar, along with 4 F-4s and 17 F/A-18s to suppress enemy surface-to-air missiles so that 4 A-6s and 4 Tornadoes could strike one target. The full spectrum cost imposed by these legacy aircraft was tremendous—aircraft development and acquisition funding, operations and maintenance expenses, personnel bills, base access issues, etc.

d. The cost associated with the F-22 is substantial. However, the opportunity cost of not having the capabilities afforded by the F-22 is overwhelming.

6. Secretary Gates: “But other nations have learned from the experience of Saddam Hussein’s military in the first and second Iraq wars – that it is ill-advised, if not suicidal, to fight a conventional war head-to-head against the United States: fighter-to-fighter, ship-to-ship, tank-to-tank.”

Facts: Deterrence is a critical national security capability. Preventing war is always better than engaging in combat. However, continual investment in essential national security assets like the F-22 is key for maintaining a credible deterrent force.

a. After Vietnam, leaders in the United States realized the value of air dominance and invested substantial sums in aircraft such at the F-15 and F-16. To say these platforms have been successful is an understatement. They deterred the Soviet Union during the last decade of the Cold War and enabled successful US operations in Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, and the initial days of OEF and OIF. In fact, these aircraft have been so successful that many now take air dominance for granted. However, we must not become complacent—these fighters are nearing 30 years in age.

b. Procuring the full military requirement of 243 F-22s is an essential step in ensuring that America’s air dominance is not successfully challenged in the future. The global threat environment is becoming increasingly dangerous and the unique capabilities fielded by the F-22 will be essential in enabling successful US combat operations for years to come.

c. Credible deterrence demands that the United States have sufficient forces to engage in multiple conflicts. Otherwise, potential adversaries will be emboldened to act once American forces are committed to an engagement with insufficient reserve forces to deploy elsewhere. 187 F-22s is the force structure required for one engagement. A fleet of 243 aircraft is the number required to enable deterrence with moderate risk.

d. During a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Airland subcommittee on April 30, 2009, General Richard Hawley, former Commander of Air Force Air Combat Command, testified that analysis he took part in showed that "the number [of F-22s] required to conduct operations in two major regional contingencies against adversaries who are capable of contesting our control of the air is 381."

7. Secretary Gates:
“Let me start with the controversy over the F-22 fighter jet. We had to consider, when preparing for a future potential conventional state-on-state conflict, what is the right mix of the most advanced fighter aircraft and other weapons to deal with the known and projected threats to U.S. air supremacy? For example, we now have unmanned aerial vehicles that can simultaneously perform intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance missions as well as deliver precision-guided bombs and missiles. The president’s budget request would buy 48 of the most advanced UAVs – aircraft that have a greater range than some of our manned fighters, in addition to the ability to loiter for hours over a target.”

Facts: Investment in UAVs is critically important. These aircraft afford valuable intelligence and many are able to strike targets.

a. However, the UAVs currently being procured are not survivable in contested airspace.

b. Aircraft like the F-22 will be required to gain air dominance to allow them to successfully engage.

c. We should not assume that the air dominance we currently enjoy over Iraq and Afghanistan will be as easily attained and maintained in other regions around the world.

d. Considering our poor track record at accurately predicting future threats, spending tomorrow’s dollars on today’s problems entails much risk.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Gen McPeak Speaks Out: Too Few F-22s a "Real Mistake"

Retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, who was the Air Force chief of staff during the 1991 Operation Desert Storm and who credited air power with winning the war, is publicly criticizing the early termination of the F-22 Raptor. The Department of Defense has announced plans to quit producing the fifth generation fighter long before the military requirement of "moderate risk" -- around 250 aircraft -- is reached.

"I think it's a real mistake," McPeak told "The airplane is a game-changer and people seem to forget that we haven't had any of our soldiers or Marines killed by enemy air since 1951 or something like that. It's been half a century or more since any enemy aircraft has killed one of guys. So we've gotten use to this idea that we never have to breathe hostile air.

The article continues:

"We do not want to field an Armed Forces that can be defeated by someone simply by topping our capability," he said. "The F-22 is at the top end. We have to procure enough of them for our ability to put a lid on, to dictate the ceiling of any conflict."

The radar-evading fighter/bomber's role is to control the skies in a future war against a major foe. McPeak and F-22 backers in Congress say 187 planes are simply not enough to do that job given the fact that some will be needed to train pilots and others will be in regular depot maintenance. That may leave only about 100 planes available for a war.

The Air Force had at one time wanted over 700 F-22s, but eventually lowered the figure to 381, then acceded to the 187 number.

"We certainly need some figure well above 200," said McPeak. "That worries me because I think it is pennywise and pound foolish to expose us in a way this much smaller number does ... That's taking too much high-end risk."

Read the complete article here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

F-22 Debate Continues

Monday, July 14, 2009

AFA members, Congressional staffers, Civic leaders, and DOCA members, there is a fight going on in Washington about the F-22. In short, the Obama Administration thinks 187 aircraft are enough, while many in Congress think we need more.

AFA sides with Congress on this issue. We point out that the 187 number is already 186 since one has crashed. And we say that 186 means only about 100 operational -- given those in training, depot, test, etc. Can we really believe that in the next 30 years, we will not be faced with a situation where our ground forces will not depend on air dominance; where we would not want the skies clear so our A-10s and UAVs can operate freely; and where the US military won't be called upon to strike a highly defended target? We believe 100 operational aircraft presents a higher risk than is necessary for the nation. Others agree with our assessment.

As in any political fight, there are those who write and say things which are not factually accurate. That happened last Friday AM when the Washington Post published, on the front page, an article which claimed the F-22 had maintenance and other major problems. Both the Air Force and AFA have responded ... noting the many inaccuracies of the piece. We put on our web site a short paper which lays out the actual facts. You can find it here.

On Monday, the President signed a letter to the Senate, threatening a veto if funds for the F-22 were included in the Authorization bill. An additional letter was signed by Sec Gates and ADM Mullen. You can find both letters here and here.

Last week, the office of Sen Chamblis [R-GA) asked AFA for our views. I responded with a letter to Senator Carl Levin, (D-MI), that can be found here: AFA Letter to Senator Levin. Also, I penned an op-ed ... which has yet to be published. It can be found on our website here.

Another viewpoint is from an op-ed written by Senators Hatch and Inhofe can be found here.

Additional viewpoints from the commander of Air Combat Command can be found here and the Air National Guard can be found here.

The state of play is as follows: The Senate votes today or tomorrow on the issue. Next the Appropriations committees of both the House and Senate take up the question. [The House has already added funds for the F-22 in its Authorization bill.] We will keep you informed of the status daily with postings on the AIR FORCE Magazine's Daily Report.

For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Lt Gen, USAF (Ret)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Defender of the F-22

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Another opinion on the F-22, this one from the Weekly Standard, weighing in on the debate between the Department of Defense and some influential members of Congress.

Here's an excerpt:

"So a couple of key points that supporters of the plane might like to keep in mind. First, it is true that stealth aircraft require a lot more hands on care, which makes the comparison to the F-15 more than a little silly. The F-15 is not a stealth plane, which is why it needs to be replaced, and it has already been settled that the advantage of stealth justifies the increase in costs -- whether it's for a more expensive F-22 or a more expensive F-35. However, maintenance costs for stealth aircraft have traditionally dropped over time, as they did for the B-2. F-22 is still a new plane, and the kinks are still being worked out. It should also be noted that F-15s aren't particularly cheap to keep in the air because F-15s are really old. The Air Force can't fly the F-15 forever."

Read the entire post here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

For Your Consideration ... nuclear arms control

Saturday, July 11, 2009

FA Members, Congressional staffers, Civic Leaders, DOCA Members, we have recently developed a briefing on the Principles of Airpower. A hearty thanks to Col (Ret) Phil Meilinger for his assistance in developing it. I would ask you to comment on the briefing … so we can improve it. Send your thoughts to Chet Curtis at: CCurtis@AFA.Org

You can find the briefing on our website here.

Secondly, President Obama was in Russia this week. He and the Russian President signed a preliminary agreement on a new nuclear arms control agreement. This will begin serious negotiations. However, I worry about the preliminary agreement because it starts with the number of warheads and launchers … and does not seem to derive from strategy. I also worry that DOD is not yet finished with its Nuclear Posture Review - which defines the strategy from which we derive the numbers of weapons, etc. I also would like to hear the views of the Joint Chiefs, the Commander of STRATCOM, and others. This is an area in which we should all pay attention … because it is absolutely critical to our security. To help add clarity to this issue, Keith Payne [no slouch in Arms Control circles] wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. In it he points to many areas of concern. I especially liked his concluding quote/warning from Winston Churchill: "Be careful above all things not to let go of the atomic weapon until you are sure and more than sure that other means of preserving peace are in your hands."

You can find a link to the op-ed here.

For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn