A desirable condition and one that didn’t happen by accident

Through a smoky haze, the sun beams down on an F-22 Raptor July 10 on the flightline at Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Laura Turner)

Through a smoky haze, the sun beams down on an F-22 Raptor July 10 on the flightline at Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Laura Turner)

General Merrill A. McPeak (USAF, Ret), former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and co-chair of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, speaks out on why the administration is wrong to cancel the F-22 program, and thereby intentionally degrade America’s conventional air capabilities.

High-end conventional war is characterized by the clash of industrial forces. It’s armored, mechanized and increasingly air-power centric. Few are equipped by training or temperament to understand the phenomenon, especially as it concerns air warfare, a relatively recent aspect of the human experience…  But the bottom line is that in high-end conventional war, neither our Army nor Navy can be defeated unless someone first defeats our Air Force.

For high-end conventional war we’ve built an Air Force that, for now, is virtually unbeatable… So today, no one in his right mind wants to fight us in a conventional war. Many are saying this another way: that we have no “peer competitor,” that there is no threat of high-end conventional war. I wouldn’t bet the ranch on that, but, if it is so, it is a desirable condition and one that didn’t happen by accident.

We have forced anyone with a bone to pick with us to find an alternative to high-end, conventional war… in this sort of war our existence is not threatened, that we can regulate the resource input. It can be expensive in men and material, but we cannot be defeated militarily.

When the enemy succeeds, it is because we do not defeat him and then weary of the fight. This is not a good outcome, but it is better—and much cheaper for us in lives and treasure—than losing a high-end, conventional conflict.

For the life of me, I can’t understand why we should wish to change this.

— McPeak, Merill A.  “Why We Need the F-22.Wall Street Journal, 09 August 2009.

I am tempted to reprint the whole thing, short seven paragraphs that it is, but have settled for heavily abridging the general’s remarks.  It is worth reading the whole thing.

The one mystery being, for a man that thinks so clearly about the benefits of air power, why would he want to elect an administration whose thinking about military matters is anything but clear?

PERHAPS IT’S NOT SO MYSTERIOUS AFTER ALL: Robert M. Goldberg, writing in the American Spectator, calls out General McPeak on many of his odd statements about Israel (and its American supporters) in the past.  Which were not all that dissimilar to those offered up by others associated with Obama (Rev. Wright comes to mind).

It is a shame that an essential message about air power will undoubtedly get lost in the fact that he’s a bit of a kook.

A lot of F-22 critics take the position that 187 birds is enough right now, given that we are fighting primarily asymmetric foes.  The broader (and unanswered) counterpoint is that the F-22 is going to serve for another 30 to 50 years, just as the F-15s they built in the 70s will be flying through their 30s to late 40s.  Will 187 Raptors be enough to see the United States through all of the training, attrition losses, and wars of the next 50 years?  I would not be prepared to bet the farm on that, either.  That’s why the national military strategy called 381 Raptors a “low risk” number.  Which would make a mere 187 of them something much more risky indeed.

RELATED: Just A Grunt at JammieWearingFool pens an ode to the ultimate close air support (CAS) aircraft, the A-10 Thunderbolt II (a.k.a. Warthog).  Along the way he also says something of such tremendous significance that it’s hard to believe I have not yet heard an Air Force general make the very same argument:

They were originally built and manufactured during the 80’s to counter the expected massive Soviet armor onslaught, should the Cold War ever become a shooting war. Once the Cold War was declared over the Air Force toyed with the idea of doing away with them, at which time the Army said not so fast and begin to lobby to have the planes added to their inventory. Well the thought of having Army personnel flying fixed wing aircraft was so abhorrent to the Air Force that they decided to keep them. A decision that many a grunt has applauded and continues to praise to this day.

Somehow that sort of argument was lost in the debate when the decision was made to scrap the F22. It is better to have something in the arsenal and not use it then to have to 10 years down the road point fingers and play the woulda, coulda, shoulda game.

It’s ironic that the very argument the Air Force used unsuccessfully against the A-10 (i.e. it’s an aircraft built to counter a Cold War threat that no longer exists) has now been successfully deployed against the F-22.  Only this time there is no other service branch lobbying to keep it around.

Somebody get Congress on the phone, quick.

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2 Responses
  1. Kateland says:

    I really love the new website…do I ever feel like an underachiever – worth the wait.

    • Chris Taylor says:

      I did go into this with a specific intention, to give it a handcrafted look with a bit of 1920s/30s art deco. And that, for better or worse, meant staying away from the modern-looking high gloss blog designs. They are elegant and classy in their own way, and there are lots of good designs out there, but it would be too hard to tweak them into something that looks like it came from another age.

      This theme is actually a heavily modified version of Paper Craft by TemplateLite. It started off as a good looking theme with a handcrafted look (in many ways better than mine), I just gave it a little nudge in the direction I wanted.