Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Note from AFA President -- CSBA, Sec Clinton, Loh

AFA members, Congressional staff members, civic leaders, DOCA members,

Washington is awash with lobbyists and articles on the Super Committee. The leadership in DOD, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Air Force are concerned about the effect of another $450+B cut of defense … on top of the present $450+B cut that President Obama has already ordered. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) has done a short background piece to try to shed some light on sequestration and the impact on DOD. 

You can find the piece here >>

Secondly, SecSTATE Clinton has a piece in Foreign Policy which I found interesting. In it she argues “the future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the US will be right at the center of the action.” As I read the piece, I was reminded of a famous quote from General of the Army MacArthur: “The history of the world for the next 1000 years will be written in Asia.” The piece is long – 18 pages on my printer. 

You can find it at:

Finally, Gen (Ret) Loh has a piece that was published in the El Paso Times. It has the added benefit of being both concise and pithy. We have it on our website at:

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn

Air Force Association

1 comment:

Ted A. Morris, Jr. said...

General Loh was right on when he proposed that future American military actions should be conducted from the air, and in his warning that weakening our air power advantages would be a mistake. However, I’m afraid those observations are at odds with the rest of the government, and with the public.
I think ODYSSEY DAWN is just the latest in a long list of successful air-only operations. Look at the results of LINE BACKER II, OPERATION ALLIED FORCE, and the Oct - Nov 2001 “war” in Afghanistan. When we are allowed to secure air supremacy and then conduct air operations in accordance with a strategic plan, the ‘war’ ends quickly and in our favor. I would argue that DESERT STORM was effectively over somewhere around the 900th hour of air operations, and while impressive on TV, today one must wonder the need for a massive sweep of two entire armored Corps into central Iraq. The first two months of IRAQI FREEDOM in many ways seems to have been little more than a road march, and the continuing Drone War in Pakistan is achieving notable results without endangering our soldiers or airmen.
The problem is that the American public and our elected leadership seem incapable of authorizing combat operations with clearly defined goals. It is as if combat without occupation and political restructuring of the enemy is somehow tawdry and gratuitous. For example, do we really need 100 ‘advisors’ on the ground in Uganda today? We could destroy The Lord’s Resistance Army using an appropriate counterinsurgency air package - perhaps composed of some AC-130s and MQ-1s/9s/12s - and hound those butchers into their graves night after night until they are all dead or surrendered. But is the destruction of the LRA our only goal in Uganda? We don’t yet know!
In our ‘wars’ the question that should be asked first is “do we want to control their hearts and minds after the shooting ends?” However, this often isn’t asked until we are hip deep in the muck of another distant location. Eventually though, we start to hear the familiar Army mantra of “boots on the ground” and the call for the commitment of ground combat troops to control the population from the very beginning of the operation. And the public seems to understand door-to-door fighting or setting ambushes in the jungle, while the precision of modern air combat is almost alien to them - after all, tens of thousands of infantry are trained each year, but only 278 fighter pilots. The average American knows what an M-16 or HMMV is, but can’t tell a B-1 from an F-16, and that lack of understanding extends to air combat as well.
Unfortunately, General Loh is asking for something that our national leadership and the American public are not prepared to provide, and that is the capability to conduct effective, efficient combat operations that achieve set goals, and do not result in ‘nation building’ or spreading democracy and the rest of our culture to defeated enemies. Remember how as a nation we weren’t satisfied with a decade of controlling Iraq from the air with NORTHERN and SOUTHERN WATCH, or the success of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan? Remember when President Bush gave what is now called the “Mission Accomplished” speech on the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN? He never said the war was over, even though at that point his administration saw IRAQI FREEDOM as a successfully completed operation, and was pulling the troops out of the theater. But the Congress, the public and the press began the outcry for “fixing” Iraq, its infrastructure and its people. And we tried, but in the end couldn’t even arrange for a valid Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government.
So, although General Loh makes a clear case to those of us who understand the capabilities of air, until the public, the press, the Congress and the Administration agree that a successful operation is sufficient to meet the needs of our national interests, there seems to me to be little doubt that air will be cut to the bone in the upcoming fiscal maneuvering.