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

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's not science fiction

The US Air force's latest recruiting ad is out, and it highlights some of the latest in technology and communications, including the role of an unmanned aerial system.

Their new slogan: "It's not science fiction. It's what we do everyday."

Watch it here, courtesy of the Air Force's Blue Tube.

Report: US Senators Argue Future of F-22

The Congressional debate about the merits of the F-22 Raptor has not ended. The Hill reports that several U.S. Senators strongly disagree, and the names of prominent Senators on both sides of the issue cut across party lines.

Read it here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Fourth of July thoughts & more

AFA Members, Congressional staffers, Civic Leaders, DOCA members, last week the Mitchell Institute issued its latest report entitled: Airpower for Hybrid Warfare by Michael Isherwood. In the report, Isherwood defines hybrid warfare [a blending of elements of different forms of combat] and describes airpower’s contributions to hybrid warfare. His summary best describes his main point:

“While the environment has changed and the style of warfare has changed, airpower’s enduring attributes remain relevant to the hybrid fight. Airpower’s speed, range, flexibility, precision, and persistence enable it to rapidly adjust and adapt to the dynamic environment we now call hybrid warfare.”

In the discussion of the paper, a member of the press asked why airpower was killing so many civilians … especially in Afghanistan. Isherwood made an important point, saying the ground commander was the final approval authority for all targets in close contact. Thus, the procedures for when and where to target airpower needed increased scrutiny to avoid targeting non-combatants.

You can find the study on our website here.

Secondly, I responded to an op-ed in the NY Times last week. I thought you’d like to see my letter to the editor – which was published on 25 June. You can find it at this link.

Finally, as we reflect on our nation’s birthday on 4 July, we should remember the sacrifices of those who served before us. Our men and women in uniform have been the ones to keep us free … and helped make us prosperous. I am reminded of an old poem – attributed to Father Dennis O’Brien – and if it were written today, it would have a footnote to say “soldier” is meant in the broadest sense – to include all those in uniform:

It's the soldier, not the reporter who has given us
Freedom of the Press.
It's the soldier, not the poet, who has given us
Freedom of Speech.
It's the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the
Freedom to Demonstrate.
It's the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the
Right to a Fair Trial.
It's the soldier who salutes the flag, serves under the flag and
whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who gives the protestor the right to burn the flag.

AFA wishes all of you the best on the 4th. I think our press release here says it well.

For your consideration,

Michael M. Dunn

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Air Force helps take on Decepticons in Transformers

Like the first Transformers movie, the US Air Force again played a major role in the second, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

The movie is chock full of Air Force uniforms, uses some actual members of the Air Force and other services, and of course, plenty of Air Force aircraft soar through both on-screen adventures.

Here is an Air Force news story about the latest cooperation between Hollywood and the military, complete with a link within the article to a video about it.

AFA is now on Twitter & Facebook

The Air Force Association is now on Twitter. Follow us at

We have also been busy on Facebook for a while now. Connect with us there. Try the link, or just search "Air Force Association" for both our group and fan page.

Washington Examiner laments "hollow Air Force"

July 1, 2009

An Op-Ed in the Washington Examiner gets right to the point: "When it comes to air superiority, America may be stuck on the tarmac."

At issue is the decision to cap the F-22 buy at 187. The writer, Michael Auslin, then tracks the real number of F-22s available at a given time, through those used for training and testing; attrition, loss and depot; then the logistical issue of sending aircraft in waves, combined with the logistics depending on where the base is and refueling on the way -- arriving at 20 Raptors available at one time in one place. He concludes: "Debate needs to begin with the realization that 187 is not nearly the number it seems at first glance."

Read it here.

Here's another excerpt worth considering: "Think about it: The Air Force is retiring nearly 250 F-15s and F-16s just as Russia and China are deploying hundreds of far more advanced fighters."

America's fading manufacturing might

July 1, 2009

On this Fourth of July, as we celebrate our nation's independence, followed by generations of defending freedom, the Lexington Institute's Loren Thompson also shares some sobering thoughts about America's once-mighty manufacturing base.

Here's an excerpt: "America still hosts some of the biggest industrial companies in the world, but its economy is no longer dominated by manufacturing. It is ceding its role as a manufacturer to the rising industrial powers of Asia, and losing economic ground as a result. The CIA reported last year that, 'in terms of size, speed, and directional flow, the global shift in relative wealth and economic power now under way -- roughly from West to East -- is without precedent in modern history.'"

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