Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Self-Inflicted Wounds

The Air Force is having problems with stressed-out drone pilots. This is a self-inflicted wound.

This is bad news for the pilots, their families, our Air Force, and the troops who are supported by the UAV crews (Tip to Instapundit):

After a decade of waging long-distance war through their video screens, America’s drone operators are burning out, and the Air Force is being forced to cut back on the flights even as military and intelligence officials are demanding more of them over intensifying combat zones in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

The Air Force plans to trim the flights by the armed surveillance drones to 60 a day by October from a recent peak of 65 as it deals with the first serious exodus of the crew members who helped usher in the era of war by remote control.

Air Force officials said that this year they would lose more drone pilots, who are worn down by the unique stresses of their work, than they can train.

Unfortunately, the Air Force has needlessly limited who they will train as drone pilots by denying non-commissioned officers the chance to fly, as the Army does:

The Air Force wants Congress to throw more money at officer pilots who are miserable to convince them to stay in the Air Force and keep flying drones.

Come on guys, you act like the Air Force is a finishing school for proper officers and gentlemen rather than an organization designed to fly and fight.

If one goal conflicts with the other, choose the latter! Fly and fight, damn it.

And this is all based on the Air Force ideology that all pilots must be officers. In an era when pilots of any rank may soon be replaced by robotic aircraft, this attitude just adds to the need to make the F-35 the last warplane designed to have a human pilot.

[UPDATE: Here's a pre-publication update--this post was scheduled--from Strategypage that explains a lot.]

So the Air Force is destroying the pilot corps in order to save the pilot corps.