Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Role of the US Air Force among the military services

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As readers of the blog know, I believe that the US Air Force should be disbanded, with the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps taking over airpower in their respective theaters. This is not an unusual position—Thomas Ricks seems to share it. But he got an excellent response from a member of the Air Force:

This speaks for itself, so take it away, Lt. Col. Kelly "K Mart" Martin. She’s a veteran KC-135 pilot who recently commanded the U.S. air base in Baghdad and is now a colleague of mine at CNAS, the little think tank that could:

A short time ago, the host of this blog deemed it appropriate to categorize the Air Force as different from the other military service-"Another of the great things about CNAS is our military fellows program, which brings in smart officers from the military services, as well as the Air Force."  As the Air Force Fellow here at CNAS, I found this curious.  Upon further conversation with Mr. Ricks, it was clear that he did in fact view the Air Force as not being equal to the other services because of its lack of "military ethos," an assertion based primarily on the fact that Airmen don’t face the same risk as soldiers of being injured or killed and, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate, it’s really the Army that are the winners of America’s conflict and defender of its national security.

My first reaction was that the families of the 81 Airmen who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan — not to mention those Airmen lost in the wars of the 20th century — would take great exception to the assertion that their loved one didn’t have a "military ethos" because of the type of uniform he or she was wearing.  But it’s the underlying value projection that only by shedding blood makes one truly a ‘brother in arms’ that I find troubling.

There’s no disagreement that the current fight in Iraq and Afghanistan is ground-centric and that airpower plays a supporting role. But as retired Army Lieutenant General Barno said in 2004, "While it takes boots on the ground to win a counter-insurgency fight, it takes airpower to move, supply, and protect those boots on the ground." In this capacity, airpower’s combat effectiveness is best measured in the lives saved…

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Written by LeisureGuy

9 November 2009 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Daily life, Military

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