|Reminders of a Bygone Era|
First of all, the comment which really set the creative juices flowing was this one, from Pogue, a blogger-in-arms and Navy veteran currently serving in the Army National Guard -
I actually believe the Army and Air Force should both be reduced to cadre during peace time, using the Guard and Air Guard to handle the nickle and dime stuff that comes up. The Navy and Marine Corps should be the power projection forces in peacetime. As far as the Air Force and Army Aviation being rejoined, I can see ups and downs either way. We would probably get more value out of eliminating a percentage of the staff bloat. As a modest proposal, how about we get rid of 90% of the O-9s, 80% of the O-8s, 70% of the O-7s ans 60% of the O-6's - either eliminating their function all together or moving it down a couple grades. All services. I wonder if anyone would notice? :-)My co-blogger, Tuna, who is a retired Naval Flight Officer (NFO), chimed in with this -
As a taxpayer, I'm 100% in agreement. As a military guy, I'm not as convinced, at least for the combined USA/USAF. As for merging other areas (USAF or USN taking over USMC Air, for instance), we'd lose a lot of specialization that each service brings to the table, and we'd have even more parochialism within the force than we do now. Now if you want to just unify the training systems at the basic level, I'd wholeheartedly agree. You could have a computer guy (using the exact same computer systems that his Navy Information Tech brothers in arms are learning. Afterwards, they can attend a service school to give them the advanced training the USAF or USA wants them to get. We already do this with basic flight training and intermediate Navigation training. That's what JPATS Joint Primary Aircraft Training System) was built for. I'd also agree with merging our individual intelligence services, and not just for the military- for the other organizations in the government as well.Long time reader and frequent commenter Juvat, who flew both the F-4 Phantom and F-15 Eagle as an officer in the Air Force, had this to say -
My job in CinCPAC involved training JTF staffs how to do Campaign Planning. I'll confess, I learned a lot more from them than they learned from me, but one thing struck me as common throughout many of the people I worked with. They took Air Superiority as a given. IIRC the last American killed by an enemy aircraft occurred in North Africa in 1942, that's a long time not having to worry about a basic requirement of battlespace prep.
But juvat, they would say, nobody can stand up to us Air to Air wise, heck, the Eagle has well over 100 kills without a loss and the Raptor is even better, we don't need to worry about that. Yep, unless we're fighting China.
So, my concern is a Combat Commander who doesn't really appreciate the need, downplaying the priority and not allocating assets to a problemFinally, there was this from HMS Defiant, who is a retired Navy captain (O-6 for you non-nautical types). He's held command at sea and knows his stuff inside and out -
resulting in a disaster. Notice I didn't mention another service Combat Commander, because in this day, I don't believe many USAF Generals
appreciate the danger either.
I commented on XBradTC's place. I started out Air Force but, when faced with a hole in the ground, I went upstairs and joined the navy. If we look at the astonishing number of fighter aircraft in the USAF we could probably scream out loud. Why do we have so many? They can self-deploy anywhere so all we need is a couple of hundred and they can destroy any air force in the world and be home the next day. I agree with Pogue above. There is a lot of excess that needs to go. There's a difference between the services and within the services. Even in the naval service we have aviation rates and seagoing rates that provide the same function but differently. The sailors that do the jobs are notSo, a quartet of guys whose opinions carry a lot of weight with me. They've all "been there, done that". So, like I said, all of that got me to thinking.
interchangeable without some severe drawbacks. Nobody ever talks QDR* anymore, or, at least not out here in MetroParkCentralis.
First of all, Pogue's idea of reducing the Army and the Air Force to a cadre intrigues me and concerns me at the same time. First of all, what's a cadre?
A nucleus of trained personnel around which a larger organization can be built and trained.Reducing the Army and Air Force to just a cadre would save a lot of money. Rather than having approximately a million people on active duty, you could probably reduce that to perhaps a hundred-thousand. On the other hand, the size of the reserve would have to increase tremendously. Those cadre would only be useful to expand the size of the force, they would be, by themselves, useless. Calling up the reserves, men and women who have already been trained would be the only way to go. The intake of civilians would have to be a continuous process. Training them from scratch at the start of a conflict would take far too long. By the time they could be fielded, there would no longer be a use for them. The war would be over.
Things have changed since World Wars One and Two. While those oceans are still pretty big, modern air transport can put troops on the ground in hours. Troops to overrun our airfields prior to bringing in follow on forces. Who would stop them? The TSA? The Transit Police?
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld put it well, "you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time."
All a cadre and a large reserve will get you is a force ready to re-fight World War One. Lots and lots of semi-trained infantry. That's not going to deter anyone. And really, it's all about deterrence. If you can't deter an enemy, you will have to fight him. Or yield the field to him.
A cadre would also be useless for the Air Force. Pilots and aircrew need to fly nearly constantly to maintain proficiency. The only way around having a large active force is to increase the size of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. And you still have to pay for all of those aircraft.
Having the Navy and the Marine Corps handle the "nickel and dime stuff" which occurs from time to time might be feasible. But then what would be the proper size for those two services? Again, I think they would need to be expanded greatly. What do we consider to be nickel and dime stuff? Afghanistan?
However, eliminating the hugely bloated staffs we have now would save a lot of money. I would wager we could cut staff at the Department of Defense by at least 50%.
What Tuna has to say about combined training is a game winner. The WSO went through her training with both Air Force and Marine officers. No need to pay for the same training in two different services. If we can do it there in a highly technical field, we can do it for other things as well.
Both Juvat and HMS Defiant address the current size of the Air Force. Some serious study is needed in that area. How many fighters are enough? Do we still need manned strategic bombers? Though the ability of the B-52s, B1s and B2s to reach out and touch someone from literally thousands of miles away is impressive, those missions have, in recent years, been virtually unopposed.
Like Juvat said, many take air superiority for granted. However, not all of our potential opponents are lacking a modern Air Force. Many of them have very good planes and pilots. As good as ours? Maybe yes, maybe no. We don't want to come up short when the time comes to find out.
I will agree with all of those knowledgeable guys above that there is a lot of fat which can and should be cut. But cut fat, not muscle.
There are procurement programs that have been, and continue to be, money pits. Those should be eliminated entirely and the people behind them disbarred from ever spending another taxpayer's dime. If not actually put in prison. There is far too much waste in the defense industry. I see it every day.
But if you simply want to have the cheapest military possible, first step is to do this...
|Bring back the draft?|
Anyway, that's my two cents.
*The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is a legislatively-mandated review of Department of Defense strategy and priorities.