|F-15s of the Massachusetts Air National Guard|
As many of you (some of you?) might recall, I am an Air Force retiree. So you might think that I have a dog in this hunt. While I love the Air Force I was in, I'm not sure it's still the same Air Force. My old service has been in the news a lot lately. And not always in a good way!
There's this concerning the cheating scandal involving missileers (the guys and gals who are responsible for launching ICBMs) and then there was this scandal involving the commander of 20th Air Force.
So what's my take on "Do we need an independent Air Force?"
Well, to tell you the truth, I have mixed feelings. My gut feeling to keep the Air Force as an independent service is based solely on emotion. I do understand that as national defense gets more and more expensive, it's really rather stupid to not look for ways to make our Armed Forces more effective and less expensive.
The real problem is ensuring that the tools of war are wielded by someone who knows how. Doesn't matter if that wielder is wearing Army green, Air Force blue or whatever.
During my time "in harness" I saw a lot of duplication in the various schools maintained by the different services. A computer operator is a computer operator regardless of what uniform they wear. Ditto for a logistics specialist, a military policeman, a computer programmer etc. Yet in my day each service had their own schools for these fields. (Some service's schools were better than others. And no, it wasn't always the Air Force who led the way. I had the chance to work with some Marine software guys. Those guys were sharp and better than a lot of airmen I worked with. Oorah!)
Most importantly it's the generals and admirals who will be leading these forces who need to know what they're doing. A bad general is a bad general, regardless of what color uniform he or she is wearing. As more and more joint commands and assignments have been all the rage over the past twenty years (or so), many officers have learned how their sister services operate.
If it makes sense to re-organize the services (perhaps even eliminating the Air Force), then do it. Hell, the Marines have pilots, infantrymen, tankers and all sorts of different roles. Heck, with the right training they could even drive ships!
Harrumph, let's just put the Marines in charge and let them organize the services. Simplistic yes, but maybe not a bad idea.
Another idea would be to study what our neighbors to the North have done -
The Canadian Forces (CF) (French: les Forces canadiennes; FC), officially the Canadian Armed Forces (French: Forces armées canadiennes), is the unified armed force of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."To tell you the truth, some of the inter-service rivalries and infighting have embarrassed the Army, the Navy and the Air Force over the years. That nonsense has also cost the taxpayers an awful lot of money as well over the years.
This unified institution consists of sea, land and air elements referred to as the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Personnel may belong to either the Regular Force or the Reserve Force, which has four sub-components: the Primary Reserve, Supplementary Reserve, Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service, and the Canadian Rangers. The Department of National Defence provides Parliamentary oversight and is the civilian support system for the Canadian Forces. - Wikipedia
After all, we have more generals and admirals now than we had in World War II. In 1945 there were over 12 million Americans on active duty. Currently there are slightly over 2 million Americans wearing the uniform, active and reserve. So yeah, we're a little top heavy.
We need to take a long hard look at how to fix the system. If it requires some streamlining and re-organizing, so be it.
Anyway, that's my two cents...