Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Up In the Air

August 10, 2010

This past month one of Headquarters AFA's staff members was without air conditioning at his home. And it was hot … very hot. We had temperatures over 100 degrees F for about 5 days in a row. For the entire month, almost every day was over 90 degrees. The staff member's experience is similar to what the country faces now … and may face in spades in the future. Let me describe what happened.

The staff member's air conditioner stopped working. In essence, he had no Air(power). First he called an air conditioning expert to his house to see what was wrong. The expert told him that he needed some parts for the system. The parts would take some time to come in as the system was over 21 years old. And as it turned out, almost no one was making parts anymore for such an old system.

The staff member went to his insurance company to see if they would let him retire the old system and replace it with a newer, more capable one. (Sound familiar?) The insurer (think Congress) decided the system still had some uses, and it would be cheaper and better if they tried to get the parts to fix it.

Meanwhile the AC expert went to the web to try to find parts which might do the job. Lots were found; many from overseas suppliers … but when the unit was opened and the technical order reviewed, the original manufacturer clearly stated that parts had to be made by either … the original manufacturer … or an approved sub-manufacturer. And … the original manufacturer no longer made parts for the system.

Finally, parts were located … but, in all it took almost four weeks to get the system operational. True story.

Now think about how the Air Force - dealing with planes, some of which are almost 50 years old - manages with a fleet that averages more than the staff member's AC. But there's a difference here. No body died from the heat. The ground forces were not attacked and harassed from the air. Our troops on the ground were supported. ISR was provided. Space assets provided navigation, communications, and intelligence. But we should worry about what might happen in the future when our Air(power) is even older …

Secondly, an interesting article was published The American Interest by Dr. Richard Andres. It's a long piece (nine pages on my printer) but worth your read. It covers so many points that AFA supports (and some that we don't) that I won't list them all. Give me some feedback on this piece.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association


Robert A.Schwehr said...

Some pressing security concerns for the Air Force and the nation as a whole are described in the timely analaysis contained in this article.It will take real political and moral courage for the Congress to provide the civilian oversight which the Constitution requires and delineates.In this WARTIME ENVIRONMENT some career and command decisions will have to be made to deal with these critical issues.Let us hope and yes even pray or contemplate that our Commander-IN-Chief and Secretary of Defense(since Godwater McNichols) our defacto immediate civiian commander and all of our military leadership exhibit the integrity,sense of duty and just plain guts that our national interest demands and which this country has embraced intermittntly since 1776!

Robert A.Schwehr said...

Previous Comment by LtCol Robert A Schwehr Us Army,former Airman NJANG rendered with all due respect and as directed.

Roger L. Hatton said...

If you are not a "yes man" under the current Sec of Defence you are out. If the current fleet is not upgraded in a timely manner the Air Force as we have known it will no longer exist. New ideas and new stratagies are not encouraged by the present Administration.
Roger L. Hatton, Col., USAF, Ret.

Unknown said...

The USAF Chief of Staff and Secretary of the AF were relieved of their jobs in 2007 because their subordinate commanders were allowed to lose command and control of the nuclear weapon system
under their supervision.
Secretary Gates was careful to insure that, after these egregious violations of discipline, the @#$% went uphill, for a change.
For Andres to describe their firings as "ostensibly for
unrelated reasons" was ingenuous.
Nat Mushkin
San Antonio

David said...

Nat is correct. The article also fails to even hint at the presence of fiscal constraints and economic realities. The hero names end with Warden's.

afvetgousaf said...

I'd love to write my congressman an intelligent, thoughtfully proactaive letter regarding AF spending concerns, but would appreciate some concrete thoughts from people who see more than I of the "big picture."

Personally, I am all for keeping a strong DoD. I did look at the OPM .gov site which details proposed spending for FY 2011 and found that DoD requested an $18.2Billion increase over FY 2010. This would keep it on par with Health & Human Services; that is, at about $500B or about 16.4% of the national budget.

If current threat assessments dictate the need for newer resources, and we only have X amount of funds allocated by Congress & the President each year, please share your perception of the top 10 national security threats, which the USAF mission addresses, and then tell us what you think should be the top 10 spending priorities.

Would love to pass those "big picture" ideas along to our local congressman.