Monday, April 21, 2008

Shooting High

The Army and Marines are bearing the brunt of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Navy and Air Force are doing good work in support, but they have no enemy air forces or navies to oppose in their core competencies.

Secretary Gates told the Air Force they are not doing enough in a speech at an Air Force base. From the article:

In unusually blunt terms, Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday challenged the Air Force, whose leaders are under fire on several fronts, to contribute more to immediate wartime needs and to promote new thinking.

Gates singled out the use of pilotless surveillance planes, in growing demand by commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, as an example of how the Air Force and other services must act more aggressively.

Gates has been trying for months to get the Air Force to send more unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, like the Predator drone that provides real-time surveillance video, to the battlefield. They are playing an increasing role in disrupting insurgent efforts to plant roadside bombs.

Ouch. When the big boss publicly rebukes you, that hurts.

Let me say that in terms of supporting the ground forces with fire support and recon, I think the Airf Force has really stepped up. And Air Force (and Navy for that matter) personnel going to Iraq to do jobs that Army troops do (in security, bomb disposal, driving trucks, etc.) have my thanks for their dedication.

But what Gates is talking about reflects the failure of the Air Force to adapt to the change in technology that is recreating Army air forces with unmanned aerial vehicles taking over the jobs of ground support and battlefield recon.

The Air Force is resisting this by insisting they must control the UAVs. This is foolish. The Air Force must aim high and stop fighting for shrinking market share over the battlefield.

The boss noticed. The Air Force would be wise to adjust. Right now they are shooting too high and missing the target. Aiming high to become our Space Force is their best option.