Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hard to believe he said it out loud

I've been meaning to get to this particular story for quite a while. It is getting old, but it highlights one of the major problems facing the U.S. military. Quite possibly the worst aspect of the military is its tendency to promote parochial turf-protectors and bureaucratic, ass-kissing politicians instead of warriors. Like this guy, for instance. He was only a two-star, but he is pretty much proof that you really do have to turn in your brains to even get that first star. To be fair, the Air Force is a little short on warriors, so it is a little harsh to blast this guy too much for that particular failing. Still, what a douche:
The Air Force commander who warned fellow airmen that speaking positively of the A-10s performance to members of Congress could be considered "treason" has been removed from office, the Air Force announced Friday.

Maj. Gen. James N. Post was speaking to a group of about 300 airmen at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in January when he began to talk about the ongoing budget battle in Congress and how the Air Force would need to divest the A-10 in order to move forward on some of its other airframes.

"In the course of his remarks [Post] discussed the importance of loyalty to senior leader decisions [on the A-10] and used the word "treason" in describing his thoughts on communication by airmen counter to those decisions," the Air Force said in a statement released Friday.
"Treason" for supporting the A-10? And this guy was a high official at Air Combat Command? Really? The A-10 is one of the most useful aircraft the Air Force operates. The Air Force hates it because it is a mud-mover -- the plane's sole purpose is to blow shit up in support of ground troops. Not strategic targets, which the Air Force loves, but tactical, moving targets -- primarily, enemy tanks. This, of course, is beneath the Air Force. At least in the eyes of the Air Force. The guys on the ground who watch the A-10 chew enemy tanks, troops and vehicles to shit have a different opinion of the A-10. They love it. The rules that govern service roles, however, prevent the Army from simply buying A-10s itself -- they have to rely on attack helicopters, which have a survivability problem in a close air support role that the A-10 doesn't have.

The Air Force claims that the F-35 will perform the role of the A-10, but everyone knows they are full of shit. The F-35 can't fly low and slow over the battlefield the way the A-10 can and survive. They are different aircraft. Also, the A-10 is essentially an airframe built around a massive 30-mm cannon. That is it's primary tank-killing weapon, and the airplane's reason for existence. The sucker is huge:

Put that in the nose of an aircraft:

Fire it:

And this is what happens:

Also this:

The F-35 can't do that. No other aircraft can in the active battle space. Attack helicopters  hit tanks before they get to the battlefield. When they try to operate over the battlefield, they get shot down. The A-10 doesn't. It comes home looking like this:

That is what is designed to do. Take a licking and keep on ticking. The F-35? Not so much. The F-35 is a good plane (upcoming post on that) but it is not the A-10 and no one should pretend it is. The Air Force upper echelon's determination to get rid of the A-10 has nothing to do with battlefield needs and everything to do with service politics. The traditional Air Force rivalries are between the ballistic missile guys -- who are now largely irrelevant -- the bomber guys (pretty close to the same as the missile guys) and the fighter guys, who are in the ascendancy and are pushing, God knows why, a one-size-fits-all solution in the F-35. Again, that is not a bad plane, but one size does not fit all. And the A-10 isn't in any of those groups, so no one is really championing its continued existence except for A-10 pilots and the ground troops they support. The Air Force isn't listening to either one of them. They should. General Douche losing his job is a step in the right direction.

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