Thursday, October 27, 2011

Note from AFA President -- Words Matter 2

AFA members, Congressional staff members, civic leaders, DOCA members, 
In a note earlier this week I took issue with the use of the words “garrisoned” forces and “expeditionary” forces.  (See:  I want to follow up on several other terms and concepts.  My purpose is to try to question conventional wisdom in a number of areas. 
 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.  As the Chief of Staff of the Air Force has noted, there is nothing “unmanned” about these systems.  A better term to use … and one the Air Force is using … is Remotely Piloted Aircraft.  There are pilots and systems operators flying these aircraft.  And … they are not “vehicles” … but aircraft.  We should all adopt this term … and for sure expunge the words “drones” and “UAVs” from the public lexicons.
Another term:  air power.  When you separate the words the term implies power which operates in or through the air.  A much broader term to use puts those two words together.  This expands the concept to include space and cyber space.  Then, I would argue, we should capitalize it to denote its symbolic importance to the nation and to the war fighter.  We should all consider using the term:  Airpower
Several years ago, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (who was an Army officer) posited that the mission of the armed forces was to “Fight and Win our Nation’s Wars.”  This concept lasted for many years, and it, too, is the exact wrong construct.  Lt Gen (Ret) Bob Elder makes the point that the military’s ultimate purpose is to support the nation’s interests. While engaging in combat operations is sometimes necessary, our nation’s interests are actually best served by seeking alternate solutions that do not require risking the lives of our men and women in uniform. This places an imperative on attaining our goals through deterring and dissuading potential adversaries; reassuring allies and those with mutually aligned interests; and favorably shaping regions through engagement, proactive problem solving, and shows of force. This does not mean letting the force atrophy in a naïve hope that conflicts will never arise. Quite the contrary, this concept rests upon the foundational notion of “peace through strength.”  I would also argue that the purpose of war is a better state of peace.  Thus, while the military might like to just fight and win, it may have the responsibility for post conflict duties.  [That sometimes results in “mission creep” – but that is the subject of a different note.]
Another term:  100 Hour War (referring to the supposed length of time of Operation Desert Storm).  After Operation Desert Storm, GEN Powell, GEN Schwarzkopf, and others perpetuated the myth that the length of the operation was 100 hours.  The reality is much different.  It was a 42 day operation – and during the first 38 days, Airmen of all services were fighting and dying.  A better construct is the one that former Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen Moseley, has used.  It was an 1,000 Hour War.
Another term:  Second Gulf War (referring to Iraqi Freedom).  Unfortunately this term connotes a distinct break between Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.  In reality, Airmen from the Air Force, Navy, and, for a short while, the Marines flew no-fly enforcement sorties from 1991-2003.  There was no break from combat for these Airmen.  Once again, this is a ground-based term which implies combat was not occurring.  A better way to describe this so-called second war is to refer to it by its operational name:  Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn.
There are lots of other examples.  Perhaps you can think of some and suggest alternatives to me.
The bottom line is that – like with everything we read – we should question/challenge what people say.  Words do matter.
For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association


James Bradley said...

I totally agree with your concept of RPA's vs UAV's. The use of such words as deterring, dissuading, reassuring all require great statesmanship in the world. Such men have integrity beyond reproach, courage, tenacity, and wisdom beyond their years which by today's standards is a very endangered species to say the least. They would also have to have a very strong relationship with their creator. We need to get away from PC and be aware of GC>

Kelly M. Haggar said...

The "deterring, dissuading, reassuring" talk makes me nervous when it merges into, or becomes indistinguishable from, "soft power" and "diplomacy." I think it was retired CINCSAC Gen Russel Doughtery who said something like "Forces which cannot win cannot deter." If we move along the lines of "Speak softly and carry a big stick" then I'm OK with "deterring, dissuading, reassuring." If that trio becomes just an excuse not to be able to "kill people and break things" then I don't like it. Yes, jaw-jaw can be better than war-war nad it's better to use your superior judgment to stay out of situations where you'd have to display your superior skill.

But most of all I'd rather retain a superior ability to kill people and break things.

Ron said...

All excellent thoughts. But sometimes its hard to get the guys on the pointy end of the sword
to think that they exist for purposes other than war -- I remember back in SAC, where the motto was "Peace is our Profession", someone scribbled some graffiti "War is our Hobby."

Mike Weppner said...

Alternative to 'garrisoned' and 'expeditionary' -- Prompt, Precise, Persistant, Projected.

Mike Weppner

Dutch Dietvorst said...

For those interested, the LeMay Center just finished with a revision of Air Force Doctrine Document 1, Basic Doctrine, Organization, and Command and the term "airpower" is back.
A copy can be downloaded at (approved by CSAF 14 October)

Anonymous said...

Suggest using:
AeroSpace Power for Peace
or maybe, just
AeroSpace Peace Power
Need to include Space forces as well as Air forces

Anonymous said...

FOR KILLING 6yr old al-Qai·da AGENT

Obama Calls Murder of Children in Libya A “Success”
October 28, 2011
The hypocrisy of Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama bombing Libya, a war crime resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and the maiming of countless others.

See embedded video


Tom W. said...

Responding to Words Matter; I submit: "Air and Space Prompt Strike Forces", shortened to "Prompt Strike" when brevity is required.