Thursday, January 22, 2009

Americans for Airpower

You wouldn’t think it possible, given the number of unfair and misguided floggings administered to USAF by, among others, Robert Gates, Gordon England, John Young, the New York Times, and various “Boots on the Ground” cheerleaders. However, we now see that, through it all, the US Air Force has managed to retain a strong reputation for skill and capability among the American people. Note, for example, this item published in AIR FORCE Magazine’s Jan. 22 “Daily Report.”

A 2008 Gallup poll that recently made its way onto the Internet via shows that the American public views the Air Force and Marine Corps as the "most prestigious" of the services. However, according to the Gallup Panel Military Perceptions Study, the Air Force gained ground over the past year, rising to 30 percent in 2008 from 25 percent in 2007, while the Marine Corps slipped, dropping from 53 percent in 2007 to 49 percent this past year. In this category, the Army and Navy were not even close. Next question: Which branch is most important to national defense? The Army leads the way here, receiving 38 percent (a drop of one percentage point from 2007), followed by the Air Force (26 percent, down two points from 2007) and the Marine Corps (22 percent, up two points from 2007). Asked which service they would prefer to join if they were 18-years-old, the public chose the Air Force overwhelmingly. As to which branch a parent or grandparent would recommend, again the Air Force came up trumps.

A surprise, no? Has the American public not heard of the sin of “next-war-it is,” as propounded by the SECDEF? Are our citizens unaware that it is the Army and the Marine Corps, and they alone, who are doing all of the “fighting and dying” in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is it somehow escaping their attention that we, as a nation, have “overinvested” in conventional airpower, and that we need to get rid of our “overmatch” in this area so that we can do more in the way of “irregular warfare” around the world? It looks, instead, like they still have some sort of innate awareness that airpower matters, and should be preserved.


JohnT said...


Typically, the U.S. military is accused of wanting to fight the last war, particularly when caught off guard by unimagined new systems our acts of our opponents.

For roughly 3 decades, our Air Force and other military has been well served by a single air superiority plane, the F-15. It has assured us that when the U.S. Air Force is at work, it will not be challenged. The bad guys aren't interested in flying while we're there. Also, it has cleared the way for planes of lesser capability to operate in hostile areas, defeating enemy land forces while enabling our Army to dominate the ground.

Now, when the F-15 is tiring and when other systems are catching up, it seems our decision makers are determined not to replace a proven solution. Is air dominance no longer a priority or an idea whose time has passed? While "bad guy" planes and missiles are steadily improving, are our leaders resigned or even anxious to resume dog fighting and in the process, jeopardizing other assets such as tankers and AWACS?

Former Supply Officer
Dallas, TX

Unknown said...

Operation: USELESS DIRT 1 & 2 don't provide any real defense to the United States. However, having and maintaining a strong toolbox of air domination people and equipment does.

GB said...

JYoung was an outstanding SAC staffer, a rookie Navy AQ, and now a mistake-prone, AF-hating, revenge seeking ATL of the "75% is good enough" for airpower crowd. I wonder if SecDef Gates knows how completely misguided and unfounded the a/c procurement advice he's gotten from the blundering ATL & PAE zealots.