Friday, April 17, 2009

Wynne's Contrasting View

On my last note, I asked you to respond back to me with your views on Sec Gates’ proposed force structure cuts for 2010. I heard from more than 1,500 of you – many with thoughtful responses. Many of you made similar (sometimes cynical) responses … such as:

- The cuts make the average fighter age go down, so there is less of a problem
- The cuts take the heat off the fighter trough that OSD created
- It reduces the need for replacement aircraft.
- The cut relies on an increased F-35 production rate … that is not yet assured
- Finally, there is a strong possibility that, once cut, the force will never grow back

All are great points … but I stand by my assertion that these airplanes will age out of the force before they can be replaced … Consider just the F-16. We bought them at a very high rate … 150-175 aircraft per year. If you assume they all have about the same number of flying hours, then they will all age out at the same rate. The replacement rate for the F-35 then has to be 150 or so per year in order to keep the force structure stable. The present F-35 program production rate grows to 80 aircraft per year in 2015. The AF has requested a rate of 110 per year … but we don’t know whether Sec Gates supported that in the FY10 budget. Hence the problem.

Secondly, a very thoughtful piece came from former Secretary Wynne. In the piece, he rose above the fray and talked about the strategic environment – maintaining: “We are now [if the production cuts are approved] entering a period of strategic pause in which others can enhance their ability to undercut the capabilities of the existing power projection forces, while not fearing breakout capabilities delivered by the United States and a general process of further weakening the ability of the US to produce power projection forces.”

Further, Sec Wynne maintains: “The larger argument that we should be having is how to expand and not contract the sovereign options we offer to the president … The evolving strategic environment simply does not support the reduction of US engagement to imperial custodianship.”

Finally, Sec Wynne made what I think may be his most important point … and it is one missed by most in the press. He focused on the impact on the industrial base, saying: “The terminations in the air, space, helicopter and bomber domain will essentially gut American aerospace engineering — the very area that has provided our sea-locked nation with strategic advantage and strategic reach. This action; in combination with the actions to save finance and automotive should make our heads spin. … This may prove to be the greater weakening of defense; as we found out in the last lost decade. We lost talent that was available for the Reagan buildup; but was not there when we need it now. Now we are giving up design and development talent with no means to carry it into a dimming future.”

You can find the entire piece here.

Finally, Secretary Gates recently gave a speech at Maxwell AFB. We have put the text of it on our website.

I think the speech explains his views on a variety of issues … and sheds light on his decisions. As many of you know, I have a number of different views on this subject … but I will not bore you with them now. I do, however, want to point out one factual error in the speech.

“While the military has made great strides in operating jointly over the last two decades, procurement remains overwhelmingly service-centric. The Combat Search and Rescue helicopter had major development and cost problems to be sure. What cemented my decision to cancel this program was the fact that we were on the verge of launching yet another single-service platform for a mission that in the real world is truly joint.”

Air Force CSAR assets are in fact the only truly joint CSAR assets in the Department of Defense. When they are deployed to the AOR, they are controlled by the Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC), not the Air Force. This means that they are tasked to support the entire joint team and don’t just focus on Air Force needs. Other Services’ lift assets do not belong to the JFACC. Additionally, the contract has yet to be let, and the initial selection was a helicopter operated by the Army, SOCOM and many of our Allies. Thus cost growth and development problems can’t be too much. And … it’s about as joint as it comes.

For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
President/CEO

26 comments:

Steven said...

Hold on to your hats, we have just been visited by the black Jimmy Carter bent on destroying the military while he preaches "support our troops"

Randy Durham said...

The CSAR statement of General Dunn isn't exactly true, either. The Air Force is not the only service that has provided CSAR assets to the JFACC or CFACC. For many years, SOF provided the JFACC with his only CSAR capability (Just Cause, Desert Storm, Deny Flight, Deliberate Force, etc.). Though most were AFSOC assets, ARSOA was available for this purpose during Desert Storm. In my opinion, the best set up we had was during all the Balkans operations of the 1990s, where the entire JSOTF reported directly to the CFACC.

Speedo said...

Sir,

I am am the one who asked Gates about the decision to buy 1,700 F-35 when we still only have 19 B-2. In terms of the Air Force's ability to project power globally, especially in light of less access to regional air bases, it does not make sense to build a regional air force for a global power. We have spent entirely too much time on the fighter debate. As a result we are becoming the Army Air Corps, because we cannot articulate why a global power needs an independent Air Force. What happens if we have to deal with a future SWA regional threat, and the President specifies an airpower only option. Certainly most in the region will not allow us to base any fighters for the purpose of striking their neighbor. That means we have to rely on long range strike. Except that our leadership has lost the ability to convince the public that these are precisely the assets we need. Maybe they are not convinced themselves.

Rob Spalding

Dave Dietsch said...

Mike,
I wish Secretary Wynn would not have damaged the effectiveness of his comments by using the phrase "imperial custodianship" to describe the direction of US foreign policy. While I agree with his assessment, the use of the term "imperial" in any context associated with the US seems to lend credibility to those both at home and abroad who would say that our only aim is empire. I don't subscribe to that view, and I doubt many of our membership do either.

Dave Dietsch said...

Mike,
I wish Secretary Wynn hadn't distracted from his comments by using the term "imperial custodianship" to describe the direction of our policy. Even though his comments are right on, the use of the term "imperial" to describe US policy merely plays into the hands of those at home and abroad who say our only aim in foreign engagement is "empire". I don't subscribe to that view and I doubt most of our members do either.

Louis Kaplan said...

McNamara redux. I believe the Air Force is intentionally being marginalized out of existance in favor of other military air assets.

The Air Force cannot even get a tanker approved. Air Force leadership has lost the franchise that Hap Arnold and many others fought to give it. I do not know if it can recover as I see no visionaries, just surviviors.

Bill Getz said...

General Dunn,

The problem you state concerning DOD procurement as being "service-centric" also applies to many problems facing the DOD. As stated in my article, "Time for Change in the DOD," it is time to shift to "mission-centric" organization, away from a "service-centric" one. The opening paragraph states the problem in concise terms"

"Throughout the 20th and into the 21st Centuries, rolls and missions of the United States military forces have been a source of consternation, conflict, confusion, congressional hearings, endless debates, articles, books and studies. However, the major problem in the Department of Defense (DOD) is not “roles and mission,” but structure. Does the United States really need four air forces, four special operations commands, four 4-year universities, just to name a few of the questionable duplications of scarce resources?"

Dick Myers new book, "Eyes on the Horizon . . etc." supports this viewpoint in comments on 19 pages, but particularly Page 301. The procurement problem you relate is a mere tip of the iceberg.

Bill Getz
AFA "Lifer"

John said...

I am in agreement for the most part on Mike's perspective but we have focused the argument on numbers and not capability; this can diminish our arguments and provide impetus to those who counter this is standard AF dogma. Since the majority of our fighter force has a predominant A/G role, numbers (to a point) are less important than the munitions and ASE provided. An argument couched in terms of JMEMS would carry more credibility, recognizing the totality of the problem cannot be grasped in munitions effectiveness only.

John McGregor, Col, USAF (Ret)

jcarroll said...

Here's an idea for President Obama. Why don't he take a KC-135 or an equivilant age aircraft the next time he needs to fly someplace? If our "Antique" aircraft are good enough for our men and women of the military, it should be plenty good for him, seeing as all he is in effect nothing more than a passenger. In other words, he doesn't have to fly them and/or fix them. Maybe then he might get an understanding of what the Air Force is complaining about. After all, I can't remember the last time any Air Force One had to devert for an emergency landing because an engine went out or the landing gear malfunctioned. Air Force One aircraft are the most maintained airplanes on the planet. Ask the people that wax them, by hand!

Tim Snook said...

"If you get in trouble, we'll come get you." CSAR doesn't ask what the service affiliation is, nor do they require a fund cite. When trouble calls they mount up and ride to the sound of the guns. Secretary Gates is so focused on the bottom line he has severely clouded vision. Is it going to take another of Clinton's Mogadishu debacle to clear his vision?

Cleopas said...

Thanks Mike for your comments. I wholeheartly agree with you. While we jack up the finance and auto industries, we let our precious AeroSpace industry go down the drain, which we are all ready regretting.

wsomike said...

agree with your comments. My feeling is that the F35 production increase will never happen. What with the war costs and (maybe) the KCX, there will not be money to add to increase the build. When the government has extra(sic) money, it is siphoned off to other things. I don't see this administration and congress spending money on DOD.

Randy said...

Will we ever loose our fighter-centric view of the USAF world? You accurately report projected age out rates of the F-16 versus the predicted production rates of the F-35. How about looking at the numbers of Bomber aircraft in the inventory compared to the number of emerging targets that would have to be prosecuted in a war with our potential enemies. Sorry..I don't care how many F-16s and F-35s you have...you can't cover the required target set. If you want to have an impact on our capability to strategically defeat our enemies....start hammering the gutting of our bomber force. 20 B-2s cannot possibly cover all the strategic targets of even a moderately capable enemy.

Dave Radcliffe said...

I'm not as nice. The SecDef is putting this country at risk and dangerously so. We're cutting the only 5th Gen fighter in production well below what any reasonable analysis determines is baseline and before the F-35 is available. We're also cutting missile defense in the same week the North Korean's fire a missle over Japan.

SecDef has accused the military of next-war-itis. I accuse him of no-war-itis. He naively believes that there will be no air threat in the next war and that predator and reaper uav's can simply troll around enemy airspace and no one will try to shoot them down. He equates these UAV's to an F-16 in some context when he retires 250 aircraft in a year like a Predator can make up for the loss of that aircraft.

SecDef, what do you think the Chinese are building all those planes, missles and ships for? A parade? These cuts are irresponsible and dangerous.

TJ said...

Dear President Dunn,

I have written to my congressmen from NY concerning the proposed reductions, especially bringing the F-22 fleet up to at least 250, and bringing a replacement tanker on-line before our already aged fleet falls out of the sky.
I appreciate your astute observations concerning issues impacting our Air Force and evolving challenges to our security/air superiority. Thank you.

Thomas J. Powell
Colonel, USAF (RET)

Bridgwork said...

The last time we had a truly intelligent SecDef Secy Robert McNamara, it resulted in the F-111 that was supposed to be a fighter and even a carrier based aircraft. That whiz kid thought too much and did not know how to fly and fight. As the RAF says, "The business of the Air Force is to fly and fight and the business of those who do not is to support those who do."

HLongMD said...

Unless we have the best defense program which includes the best Air Force, then Obama will not have to worry about the other items on his agenda.

tarbox said...

1% serve 99 % make the mil smaller do we have a pray?????????????????

aple said...

Thank you for your balanced concern for our Air Force. I am concerned that the SecDef decisions are more a reflection of White House politics than the future of our nation and the USAF. Former SecAF Wynne's recent response was a mature response to the USAF needs for the security of our nation.

Bubblechaser said...

My second comment: Is there no way to try this man as a traitor to his country for harming us in the worst sort of way? The Sec. Def. has a lot of gall doing this. Only under Obama could he get away with this, because George Bush would have fired him instantly. The fact that Obama has not slapped him and fired him speaks of collusion.

verong said...

I feel the f-22 should be replaced by a hypersonic fighter ie 6th generation fighter. the last time we tried this was the sr-71 blackbird

nelson said...

Hi. Having worked at Northrop Grumman for over 24 years, now ret., I am well aware of how the gov't handles its contracts and how they can be cx with essentially no notice. The USAF is in a precarious position with the little Napoleon running loose and destroying USAF capability because he does not like it. Every contract starts out with a number that is reduced, often tremendously, during production. ( B-2, F-18, F-22, J-Stars, etc.) The same will happen with the F-35 even after having gutted the F-22 pgm. This little guy does not have the backbone to suggest a way to save hundreds of billions of dollars with no impact to our security; reduce the Marines and fold them into the Army structure. The Army has the greater capability, they just don't have the hype.
Nelsson Gabert
San Clemente, CA
Usaf vet and proud father of a PJ.

Chuck said...

What cemented SecDef's decision on CSAR was that it had Buzz Moseley and Sec Wynne's names on it. Great message to our combatants!

JC said...

This discussion must hinge on the Constitution if it is going to be won, not the number of aircraft to be built for a specific program (that is a discussion that follows winning/losing the overarching debate). Our lawmakers, and their appointees, swore to,”…preserve, protect (support) and defend the Constitution…” One of the few things it specifically requires them to do is, “…provide for the common defense…” As they throw billions of dollars at every conceivable thing, they need to be called out and challenged here. Use specific numbers. Rather than decrease the military budget by $57B, return it to the $584B requested, about 4.2% of the GDP. Next year raise it to 5.0% GDP and keep it there until the military is fully recapitalized from the Iraq and Afghan Wars. These wars, at over $800B so far, have been more costly, than Vietnam, less than $700B, yet the military budget averaged over 6% GDP back then, not the 4% GDP it has been for years now. Making our military strong will keep our defense industry strong, providing thousands of the middle class jobs necessary for this country’s economic recovery. It is that military strength that allows our elected officials to pursue the other major tenants in the Constitution, “…insure domestic tranquility (and) promote the general welfare…” Once we achieve agreement here, the merits of specific programs can be weighed more holistically. Discussing them individually makes no sense at all.
i. Continuing the F-22, and most agree more than 183 are needed to replace 800 F-15s, will save 95,000 jobs in 44 states for an estimated $12B in economic activity.
ii. The Air Force is in desperate need of a new tanker aircraft to replace the KC-135 fleet that averages 45 years old. The total program is for 179 new aircraft at a cost of $35B. Almost all of those jobs, no matter who wins the contract, will be here in America.
iii. The average age of the Air Force fleet is 24 years; the average fighter jet is 21.
iv. Since 9/11, the Air Force alone has lost 67 aircraft; 43 were UAVs but there were 2 B-1Bs, a B-2, a F-15 and 5 F-16s.
v. The Army, Navy and Marines have similar problems.

Elected officials, and their appointees, must be able to explain and defend their policy decisions within the broader framework of the Constitution. If they cannot, they should rethink their position or be willing to step aside in favor of someone who is willing to follow their oath of office. We need to move the discussion back to the level with the highest probability of win. Right now we are arguing over branches on the trees, not the forest.

Roger said...

I believe Mike Dunn has done a great deal to lead the AFA into more of an advocacy role; a strong voice for a sensible defense policy and for Air Power. I especially appreciate the links to important speeches and op ed items.

Thanks!!

Roger Rosenberg

wenzelmr said...

At what cost is single service/indivdual insertion? Joint ultimately means 'Eyes in the Air and Feet on the Ground.' Perhaps Mind in Space is not too far behind. Also, there may be the Hand Outstretched and where has the AF everconsidered seriously what floats and where. It's all about motion in building and the opposite.