Friday, April 17, 2009

Bring in the Red Queen

The tale of the “Kill the F-22” decision gets curiouser and curiouser. We would like to call your attention to a significant item in today’s edition of’s “Daily Report,” written by the Magazine’s Executive Editor, John Tirpak. Tirpak attended a speech by Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force Chief of Staff, and filed this report.

The Military Requirement Is 243: Despite Defense Secretary Robert Gates' announcement earlier this month that 187 F-22s is a sufficient inventory for the Air Force—and his claim that the service did not make a case for more—Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said yesterday that "243 is the military requirement" for the advanced fifth-generation fighter. Speaking at a National Aeronautic Association luncheon in Washington, D.C., Schwartz acknowledged that 243 Raptors would have been a "moderate-risk" inventory, while 381 F-22s, the long-standing requirement prior to this year, was a low-risk number. (Schwartz and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley articulated these points in an April 13 op-ed in the Washington Post.) During his talk, Schwartz elaborated on the decision to cap production at 187, saying that "nothing is free," and that more F-22s would mean less of something else. "Our conclusion was and remains—Mike Donley and I—that more F-22s are unaffordable in the context of other things we must do," said Schwartz (his emphasis). He declined to say whether the number 187 represents a "high-risk" fleet of F-22s, though, and when pressed, said "I gave you my answer."

At a very minimum, this raises a question about what Defense Secretary Robert Gates meant when he claimed, on April 6, that “the military advice I got” was that there was no “military need” for more than 187 Raptors. Huh? Military advice that was not based on a military requirement? Or a military requirement that was not included in his military advice? Or what? Alice in Wonderland might understand this, but we don’t. Can anyone elucidate?

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

Our Courageous Airmen, past & present

For most of America, the war (errrr … Overseas Contingency Operation) in Afghanistan is far away. We often forget the great acts of courage our men and women are performing daily. I ran across this piece put out by SAF/PA in Aimpoints. The heroism it describes is stunning.

And … it describes just one day in the lives of these great people.

Secondly, 10 days or so ago, I had the honor of attending the National Conclave of the Arnold Air Society/Silver Wings. At the luncheon, the speaker was Robert Arnold – grandson of General of the Air Force Hap Arnold. Mr Arnold gave an excellent speech – which we have on our website. My favorite part of the speech is where he describes how his father was named (bottom of page one). Secondly, at the end of the speech, Mr. Arnold quotes his grandfather:

“If the nations of the world find they cannot act in concert, our possession of power will be our only resource. Therefore, we must at all costs, maintain it. All of this [is] expensive, of course, but it is one expense that we must not now or ever skimp or stint. It is the price of security and the price of peace.”

Finally, I would like to commend a book to you. It came out in Dec 08. It is entitled: Surviving Hell by Leo Thorsness. It is about his medal of honor winning mission flying the F-105 in Viet Nam and his six years of captivity, torture, and abuse at the hands of the North Vietnamese. Reading this will help educate you on why it is so important to have a trained, dedicated, and modern Search and Rescue force. It has the added advantage of being readable … and short.

For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Comparing Reapers to F-16s

In today’s Air Force Times, reporter Michael Hoffman recounts the following vignette from the SECDEF’s visit to Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Gates made the remark in response to a question from one of the students:
“Gates told the officers that upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review, a four-year blueprint for the military, would address the requirements for more long-range bombers. He went on to explain the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft has a range of 3,000 miles, similar to a B-2, and the ability to carry the same weapons load as an F-16.” For the full transcript, with Q&A, go here.

Is he serious? Since when do four Hellfire missiles equal the weapons load of an F-16?  He didn't mention that the Reaper flies at a speed of only about 150 knots, flies below an altitude of 20,000 feet, cannot evade threats, has no self-defense capability, and can only perform in a permissive environment once somebody else—the fighter force—has established air superiority.  Give me a break!  This notion that Reaper is a "fighter equivalent" or a “bomber equivalent” is pretty astounding. Of course, the Secretary is saying some pretty breath-taking things these days.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Former AF Secretary: We are in "strategic drawdown"

In some of the stronger on-the-record comments we've yet seen, former Air Force Secretary Wynne bluntly indicts the massive cuts proposed by the DoD. In addition to his comment that we are in a "strategic drawdown," he goes on to call it a "searing indictment of America’s capability to design and build modern weapons.”

There's more, reported here in full on

Wynne's take, part of a commentary specifically on the end of F-22 Raptor production, highlights the F-22 decision in particular as symbolic of a path we are on toward a weakened defense.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reaction to AFA President's comments on North Korean Missile Launch

In response to "The General Dunn News Clip 4 4 2009” on FOX News: I thoroughly agree with AFA President Mike Dunn’s views stated in the interview on Fox News Channel during the 9:00 a.m. (Pacific Time) segment of “America’s News HQ” broadcast, Saturday, April 4, 2009. This interview with Fox News Channel occurred prior to the North Korean missile launch last weekend.
A narrative of the FOX newscast, itself follows (for those who may not have an adequate sound system on their computer):
[Note: Beneath the live headshots of the FOX newscaster on the left and AFA President Dunn on the right, the segment title read: “DEVELOPING… NORTH KOREA: ROCKET LAUNCH COMING SOON”]
The Fox newscaster asked Lieutenant General Dunn, “What do you think North Korea’s trying to do with this threat to launch a missile?” AFA President Dunn replied, “I believe that when they say they’re going to launch a space vehicle, but, really, the test is going to be more about testing its rocket system and the rocket motor in the different stages of the missile.”
Question: “And what can they hope to accomplish by doing something as provocative as this, and the President also indicating that they cannot do it without impunity?” Dunn’s answer: “I think they intend to test it and then field ICBM’s. They’ve built silos in the mountains of North Korea. I think they’ll deploy an ICBM system, and I think this ICBM system will be available for sale. It could be that this is an Arms Bazaar in the World stage that others are looking at.”
The Fox newscaster picked up on this possibility, saying: “That’s the question. Will they use this as a sale to countries like, oh, let’s say, ‘Iran’ and some other countries?” Dunn answered: “Well, North Korea and Iran have a business relationship, and this is -- the timing of this is absolutely -- from North Korea’s perspective -- perfect. They’ve got a new Administration the World is focused on … the financial crisis – and NATO Summit, and G-20 Meeting, and this is about a month after the Iranians launched a missile.”
Then the FOX newscaster asked, “General, what can we do about this?” Dunn replied, “We’ve got just – I don’t think diplomacy’s going to work - we’ve got about three options.
“First of all, we should have a robust missile defense. We need to spend a great deal of money in this area. And, coincidently, the press reports from yesterday are talking about the Pentagon bringing down the Missile Defense Agency, which is supposed to build missile defenses. And this is the agency that President Reagan created.”
Dunn continued: “The second thing is we should have a strong deterrent on the peninsula. And the third thing I think we ought to do is to put some real pressure on the Kim Regime. We should crack down on his illicit activities, drug smuggling, his counterfeiting of currency, and the sale of military equipment and hardware around the world.”
The FOX newscaster extended to AFA President Dunn FOX NEWS’ appreciate for his appearance on “Americas News HQ”: “Lieutenant General Dunn, thanks for joining us and sharing some insight on that, because a lot of people are watching North Korea. And they like that attention, anyway. But we’ll continue to watch them. Thank you, sir.” AFA President Dunn replied: “Thank you, Kelly. Appreciate it.”
My further comments on the AFA President’s FOX NEWS appearance:
Our ability to utilize the first option General Dunn suggested, that of a “robust missile defense,” is threatened by the Administration’s attitude toward missile defense. AFA President Dunn’s second and third suggested options, those of a strong deterrent on the peninsula and a crack down on North Korean Prime Minister Kim Jong-Il’s regime, go hand-in-hand with our ability to maintain a robust missile defense.
Of great danger are the links between nations unfriendly to our Nation, especially those business connections between North Korea and Iran. Written between the lines of this interview is the warning that an “Arms Bazaar” may be in operation, which is only given a boost by missile launchings such as the one that took place last weekend. Whether or not the North Korean missile fizzled is not the point, here. The launch sent a message that North Korea is defiant and is certainly acting with impunity, that is, in such a manner as President Obama asserted would not have been possible. To act with impunity is to act in complete freedom from unpleasant consequences, as if to be exempt from punishment, harm, or recrimination. The fashion in which North Korea behaved illustrates that the United States, in regard to this incident, exerted no deterrence, no dissuasion, and no successful show of power to in any way deter North Korea from behaving in any way they pleased. What is to stop North Korea from its next move, if our supposed dominance and super power gains such disrespect, disregard, contempt, insolence, and impertinence?
The President, Congress, the Pentagon, and all others in positions of power to act wisely on the heels of the North Korean missile launch should heed each and every word of advice given by Lt. Gen. Mike Dunn.
Enrico R. Valentia

Dunn: Further Comments on the Budget

AFA members, Congressional Staffers, civic leaders, and DOCA members, I heard from hundreds of you on my last note (see:

After reading all the responses, I can see that I need to clarify my comments on cutting 250 fighter aircraft from the force. I was perhaps a bit too tough on DOD on this one. From the Air Force perspective, these aircraft are going to age out of the force before they can be replaced. Absent a huge increase in the number of F-22s and F-35s, there is nothing anyone can do to prevent this. Thus in the view of the Air Force – why not take them out now, assume a bit of risk, and use the money for other needs. I think I may have done that if I were in charge. But … let me hear from you if you think I am wrong.

Secondly, the AFA Chairman of the Board, Joe Sutter, from Knoxville, Tennessee, has written an op-ed that I think is worthy of your review. In it, Joe posits that we may be one day closer to when the US loses air dominance; one day closer to the day when we cannot rescue a downed Airman; one day closer to the day when we cannot project strategic power; and one day closer to the day when we are at risk to a ballistic missile attack against the US or our allies. Do we have a strong Air Force today? Yes. But today's decisions impact our … and our children/grandchildren's future. You can find it at this link:


Michael M. Dunn

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Response to Policy and Purpose

In response to a piece written by General Norton A. Schwartz, USAF, and Timothy R. Kirk, Lt. Col. USAF entitled, "Policy and Purpose-The Economy of Deterrence," (2009, p. 23), state: “The ultimate goal is to leverage military capabilities in cooperative fashion to maximize legitimacy and control to the degree necessary for achieving the purpose of national policy.” Working backwards from the purpose, we can determine, first, what it is we wish to achieve. Throughout the paper by Schwartz and Kirk (2009), the purpose is continually clarified by the authors. The purpose is transparent and abundantly clear. Although “purpose” is couched in slightly different phraseology each time it is mentioned, the authors’ descriptions of purpose meld into a salient and admirable philosophy of government [see Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, pp. 12, 15-18, 20, 24].
In their conclusion, Schwartz and Kirk (2009, p. 25) point out that the purpose has not changed, as they state: “In sum, the purpose of our policy remains unchanged, the objects are suitably similar though different in number and degree, and the number of relevant actors in the game is increasing.”
History provides a look at the dynamics of purpose and policy, as seen through the recounting of historical encounters of diplomacy and/or military might and nation-state power balances. The references of this order given by Schwartz and Kirk (2009) include: the Berlin airlift (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, pp. 21-22), the Cold War (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, pp. 12, 17, 22-24, 27-28), and a NATO treaty (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, pp. 20, 22). Each such historical scenario provides a lesson or lessons for today. Schwartz and Kirk (2009) do not claim to hold a corner on the market of military strategy. Neither do they entertain a pretense of the USAF “pulling rank” over any other branch of the Service. Schwartz and Kirk (2009) know the intent of the USAF to shoulder the responsibilities that fall to it as a critical branch of the US military. In all humility, the authors describe the Air Force as invaluable in that its nature [in contrast to that of the other branches of the military] is “inherently flexible” (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, p. 23).
The dynamics of peacekeeping rest largely on policy. Policy is complex, and for the sake of breaking it down into palatable bites or bytes, Schwartz and Kirk (2009, p. 19) utilize a diagram of quadrants. A contrast is established between today’s dynamic and previous decades of nation-states’ conflicts, be they by means of physical encounters or with diplomatic and philosophical wars of words.
Today’s policy mix calls for a blend at the intersection of the four quadrants shown on page 23 of Schwartz and Kirk (2009). At this intersection, a bite is taken from each quadrant to blend a triumphant assimilation of the most applicable purpose and/or policy of each quadrant – with the tailored blend of the elements brought to bear in a given circumstance.
Although Schwartz and Kirk (2009) did not say so in “so many words,” throughout the reading of their well-crafted document, it has become apparent that slick, pat, pre-rehearsed, and decade-old solutions will not work. You cannot succeed by putting square pegs in round holes.
The whole of the Schwartz and Kirk’s (2009) paper flows like a river of information, informing the reader. Written between the lines, we seek a hope and a prayer for diplomatic solutions. Thought, theory, strategy, military brilliance, and strategic genius each have a place in nation-states’ relationships. Avoiding overt acts of destruction for destruction’s sake, we do not wish to spread fear by terror and terror by fear. These are the least chosen courses upon which we see our purposes achieved.
Hope – while reading the following sentences – welled within me, and tears fell down my cheeks as the authors spoke of leverage (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, p. 23; emphasis added):
The military instrument must leverage limited ways and means in close concert with the other instruments of power without forsaking maintenance of a backdrop of capabilities with overwhelming potential. Successful policy and purpose achievements in this realm are the fruit of sophisticated strategists, diplomats, economists, and statesmen.
And I thought to myself: “Such success is also the result of the dead and injureds’ brave actions, by which sacrifices were made at the altar of purpose to save our country from ‘takeover’ by a foreign power.”
Schwartz and Kirk’s (2009) discourse may serve as a rallying call for all rational men and women to put forth every possible effort to empower the USAF to have the strength needed to assist in deterring an international holocaust. Also, we must continue to educate our men and women so that true statesmanship and powers of deterrence and dissuasion may succeed, through insight, historical perspective, and contemporary savvy.
If we are to deter and dissuade, we must have the strength to stand firm against the aggressor. We must hold firm to our purpose and reflect in our policy our willingness to seek answers and to work through complex policies in these “complex” times.
The absolutely brilliant portion addressing the subnational actor shows Schwartz and Kirk (2009) to have crafted a superb piece on how to deal with terrorists. Our mistake has been to give terrorists status, as if they, as an entity, were some sort of nation-state. They are rogues and are not to be treated as “nationals.” They are citizens of no country. As long as we afford them an identity (an I.D.) and a status, we might as well give them a passport.
Shall we act as if chasing them from country to country is some sort of solution? I do not think so! If we were to do so, we would have made a diplomatic faux pas that may very well be our undoing!
Do not despair! The article concludes on an upbeat stance: “We [the USAF] will succeed in improving the rigor and relevance of our thinking and the delivery of effective national security strategies now and in the future” (Schwartz & Kirk, 2009, p. 29). God bless the USAF!

Enrico R. Valentia

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

We have a big question about what just happened to the F-22 fighter program. As reported in's "Daily Report," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said halting production at 187 fighters “completes” the program as established in 2005, plus four more added by Congress. Not exactly. Not even remotely. The Air Force for at least 10 years has said that the actual requirement was 381. The 183 figure stemmed from a back-room, middle-of-the-night, no-analysis-required budget drill that was violently opposed by the Air Force and never accepted by its leaders. Moreover, Gates claimed that “the military advice that I got” was that there was “no military requirement” for more than the current number. That would be true only if he doesn’t count the Air Force as giving “military advice.” Its leadership, up to the highest levels, has said publicly and privately that the true requirement is more than 183. This raises the critical question: Was the Air Force even allowed to give "military advice" to Gates before he made his decision? If so, what, in fact, was the Air Force’s advice to the Defense Secretary? Did he report it accurately?

Raptor Cutoff: Production of the F-22 fighter will end at 187 aircraft if Defense Secretary Robert Gates has his way. Gates announced the decision in a round-up of Fiscal 2010 budget moves at a Pentagon press conference Monday. The F-22 buy “completes” the program at the 183 level set for it in 2005, plus four more added by Congress, Gates said, adding that “there is no military requirement for more.” He later said that the Air Force told him that no more were needed, which is surprising because the service has been strongly promoting its need for more F-22s and unofficially quoting 60 as the number. Even Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has said USAF needs 60 more F-22s. Although he did not elaborate on his decision yesterday, Gates has previously criticized the F-22 as being an overly powerful machine that has been unnecessary in Iraq or Afghanistan. Gates has also asserted that the US is “dominant” in airpower. Speaking broadly about the budget—but apparently reflecting on the F-22’s superiority to similar foreign fighters now presumed to be on the drawing board—Gates said “our conventional modernization goals should be tied to the actual and prospective capabilities of known future adversaries, not by what might be technologically possible for a potential adversary given unlimited time and resources.” In another veiled reference to the F-22, Gates said, “Every dollar spent to over-insure against a remote or diminishing risk—or, in effect, to ‘run up the score’ in a capability where the United States is already dominant—is a dollar not available” for care of troops or to “win the wars we are in.” The Air Force did not provide a response when asked if its official military advice to Gates was that more F-22s are unnecessary. (Gates remarks as prepared for delivery; briefing Q&A) (From Monday's Daily Report: The Air Force Cut List)

At his press conference, Gates stated that “our conventional modernization goals should be tied to the actual and prospective capabilities of known future adversaries-not by what might be technologically feasible for a potential adversary given unlimited time and resources.” Is Gates claiming that he, or anyone else, knows who our future adversaries will be? In 1977, did he predict that Iran, led by our good friend the Shah, would within two years be an implacable enemy of the "Great Satan"? Did he have an inkling in 2000 that we we would be at war in Afghanistan within a year? If he can actually pull off this Amazing Kreskin act, why isn't he making a killing in the stock market?

AFA President on Fox News

In case you missed it, AFA President Mike Dunn discussed the North Korean launch on Fox News.


You can watch it here.

Dunn: Reconsider Air Force Cuts

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

AFA members, Congressional staffers, civic leaders, and DOCA members, yesterday, Secretary Gates briefed the press corps on his budget proposal for 2010. [You can find his statement at:]
In sum … for the Air Force, the following was recommended:
• Continued production of ISR systems
• Increased production of the F-35
• Continue the process to select tanker replacement
• Purchase of more SOF lift, mobility, and refueling aircraft

However, the following programs were terminated/delayed:
• F-22 production – terminated
• Follow-on Bomber – terminated ("until we have a better understanding of the need, requirement, and the technology")
• C-17 production – terminated
• Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter –X – terminated
• Transformational Satellite (TSAT) – terminated – and instead purchase of two more AEHF satellites
• Missile Defense – radically cut
o No increase of ground-based interceptors
o Airborne Laser (ABL) terminated
o Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) – terminated
o Missile Defense Agency budget reduced by $1.4B/year
One cut – which has but one line in the release – retires 250 aircraft. This means:
• We will have a defacto Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) – since 250 aircraft is the equivalent of 3.5 wings (and over 5 CVBGs) of fighter aircraft
• F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s will all leave the force … with no replacements …

Let me make a few observations about this budget.
1. This budget guarantees that the oldest Air Force in the history of our nation will get even older.
2. B-52s (built in the 1950s) will have to be kept on duty for a minimum of another 15-20 years …
3. At a time when the nation is spending literally trillions of dollars, we seem to not have enough money to fund an adequate defense
4. We are using tomorrow's dollars to solve today's problems.
5. The acquisition decisions recommended will lock in the range of national security options for decades into the future.
6. The decisions are not just programic nuance – but will impact core Air Force functions, to include Air Force ability to deter, to conduct an air campaign, and to rescue our downed Airmen.
7. The launch of an intercontinental missile by North Korea this weekend (and a similar launch by Iran 5 weeks ago) argues for a robust missile defense, not a reduced one – to include the ABL. The technology of ABL has the potential to revolutionize warfare in the future.
8. It is difficult to determine the strategy which this budget supports. This is especially important since a Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is mandated by law … and will be conducted in the upcoming several months. It seems the budget (and hence the strategy) precedes the QDR.
9. This budget increases risk … in my view … beyond so-called "moderate."

AFA believes there are major impacts and consequences … for the full-up joint team. These budget recommendations may cost us lives and will reduce our strategic options in a very dangerous world.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn