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View Full Version : Defense secretary scolds Air Force for war effort


Jeremy
04-21-2008, 05:16 PM
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/04/21/gates.air.force.ap/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday the Air Force is not doing enough to help in the Iraq and Afghanistan war effort, complaining that some military leaders are "stuck in old ways of doing business."


Defense Secretary Gates says the services must do more to get resources to the battlefield.

Gates said in a speech at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, that getting the military services, largely the Air Force, to send more unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to Iraq and Afghanistan has been "like pulling teeth."

Addressing officer students at the Air Force's Air University, the Pentagon chief praised the Air Force for its overall contributions but made a point of urging it to do more and to undertake new and creative ways of thinking about helping the war effort instead of focusing mainly on future threats.

While Gates' comments were directed mainly at the Air Force, his concern about faster fielding of unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft included a broader appeal to the entire military. The Army, Navy and Marine Corps have been expanding their fleets of drone aircraft.

"In my view we can do and we should do more to meet the needs of men and women fighting in the current conflicts while their outcome may still be in doubt," he said. "My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield."

He cited the example of drone aircraft that can watch, hunt and sometimes kill insurgents without risking the life of a pilot. He said the number of such aircraft has grown 25-fold since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, to a total of 5,000.


Gates has been trying for months to get the Air Force to send more surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, like the Predator drone that provides real-time surveillance video, to the battlefield.

"Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it's been like pulling teeth," Gates said. "While we've doubled this capability in recent months, it is still not good enough."

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates' complaint about struggling to get more drone aircraft to the battlefield was aimed not only at the Air Force but at the military as a whole.

Still, the Gates remarks come at a stressful time for Air Force leaders, including the service's top officer, Gen. Michael Moseley, and its civilian chief, Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne. They have come under fire on a number of fronts, including criticism from some quarters that the Air Force is too wedded to Cold War-era weaponry like the F-22 stealth fighter at the expense of less glamorous items that could be used in smaller-scale conflicts like the counterinsurgency fight in Iraq.

To push the issue harder, Gates said he established last week a Pentagon-wide task force "to work this problem in the weeks to come, to find more innovative and bold ways to help those whose lives are on the line."

He likened the urgency of the task force's work to that of a similar organization he created last year to push for faster production and deployment of mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles that have been credited with saving lives of troops facing attacks by roadside bombs in Iraq.

"All this may require rethinking long-standing service assumptions and priorities about which missions require certified pilots and which do not," Gates said, referring to so-called unmanned aerial vehicles that are controlled by service members at ground stations.

The military's reliance on unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft has soared to more than 500,000 hours in the air, largely in Iraq, according to Pentagon data. The Air Force has taken pilots out of the air and shifted them to remote flying duty to meet part of the demand.

Gates, who served in the Air Force in the 1960s as a young officer before he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, urged the officers in his audience to dedicate themselves to thinking creatively.

"I'm asking you to be part of the solution and part of the future," he said.

He said the Air Force and the other branches of the military need to protect those in their ranks who are maverick thinkers, who defy convention and push for creative solutions to hard problems. He said he intended to make a similar point about the value of dissent in the military in remarks later Monday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

"Dissent is a sign of health in an organization, and particularly if it's done in the right way," Gates said.

Gates made no direct mention of a series of mistakes and missteps involving the Air Force in recent months, beginning with an episode last August when a B-52 bomber flew from an Air Force base in North Dakota to another in Louisiana with the crew unaware that it was carrying nuclear weapons.

Last month Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne announced that four Air Force nose cone assemblies designed for use with nuclear missiles were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan in 2006. The error was not verified until shortly before Wynne made the announcement, and the matter is under Pentagon investigation.

Last week the Pentagon said its investigators had found that a $50 million contract to promote the Air Force's Thunderbirds aerial stunt team was tainted by improper influence and preferential treatment. The Defense Department's Inspector General found no criminal conduct, but laid out a trail of communications from Air Force leaders -- including from its top officer, Gen. Michael Moseley -- that eventually influenced the 2005 contract award

Atlanta Dan
04-21-2008, 05:44 PM
Good related article on Time.com

Gates, himself a former Air Force officer (he served from 1967-69 in the Strategic Air Command), told young officers at Maxwell Air Force Base that the nation needs new ways of thinking about warfare. Gates may still be smarting from the fact that when he was CIA chief in 1992, the Air Force refused to invest in a spy drone because it didn't have a pilot.....

To the horror of some in the Air Force, Gates cited the late John Boyd, who attained the rank of Air Force colonel, as an example young officers should emulate. Gates called him "a brilliant, eccentric and stubborn character" who had to bulldoze his way through the Air Force hierarchy to launch the F-16 fighter, now regarded as perhaps the best value in the skies. Gates lionized Boyd for telling colleagues they could think in traditional Air Force ways that "will get you promoted and get good assignments," or do the right thing "and do something for your country, and for your Air Force, and for yourself." The Defense Secretary added that "an unconventional era of warfare requires unconventional thinkers." Gates made clear change won't be easy for the Air Force, whose key victories, he suggested, happened long ago. "The last time a U.S. ground force was attacked from the sky was more than half a century ago," he noted, "and the last Air Force jet lost to aerial combat was in Vietnam."

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1733747,00.html

Jeremy - is the apparent addiction to weapons systems such as the F-22 an officer mindset or the contractors and Congress calling the shots as to how the budget is spent?

Jeremy
04-21-2008, 05:53 PM
Good related article on Time.com

Gates, himself a former Air Force officer (he served from 1967-69 in the Strategic Air Command), told young officers at Maxwell Air Force Base that the nation needs new ways of thinking about warfare. Gates may still be smarting from the fact that when he was CIA chief in 1992, the Air Force refused to invest in a spy drone because it didn't have a pilot.....

To the horror of some in the Air Force, Gates cited the late John Boyd, who attained the rank of Air Force colonel, as an example young officers should emulate. Gates called him "a brilliant, eccentric and stubborn character" who had to bulldoze his way through the Air Force hierarchy to launch the F-16 fighter, now regarded as perhaps the best value in the skies. Gates lionized Boyd for telling colleagues they could think in traditional Air Force ways that "will get you promoted and get good assignments," or do the right thing "and do something for your country, and for your Air Force, and for yourself." The Defense Secretary added that "an unconventional era of warfare requires unconventional thinkers." Gates made clear change won't be easy for the Air Force, whose key victories, he suggested, happened long ago. "The last time a U.S. ground force was attacked from the sky was more than half a century ago," he noted, "and the last Air Force jet lost to aerial combat was in Vietnam."

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1733747,00.html

Jeremy - is the apparent addiction to weapons systems such as the F-22 an officer mindset or the contractors and Congress calling the shots as to how the budget is spent?

It's a combination of both. The politics of the situation, especially in the desert, are really complicated.

Bottom line is we're the Air Force and the Air Force wants to fly airplanes. We'll fly other things if we have the manning and budget to do so.

Dino 6 Rings
04-22-2008, 08:37 AM
Bottom line is we're the Air Force and the Air Force wants to fly airplanes. We'll fly other things if we have the manning and budget to do so.

Bottom Line, the Air Force should do its job and fly what it is told to fly and not put up a stink when told to do its job. Those planes belong to the civilians United States of America and not some General who can be forced to hand in his resignation at the drop of a hat. The Military does NOT run our country, we, the people of America have the right to RUN our military.

Dino 6 Rings
04-22-2008, 08:38 AM
Oh...and...

GO ARMY BEAT NAVY!!!!

Jeremy
04-22-2008, 09:00 AM
Bottom Line, the Air Force should do its job and fly what it is told to fly and not put up a stink when told to do its job. Those planes belong to the civilians United States of America and not some General who can be forced to hand in his resignation at the drop of a hat. The Military does NOT run our country, we, the people of America have the right to RUN our military.

Great.....we have no problem with that if the people are willing to pony up the money to allow us to do our job.

Dino 6 Rings
04-22-2008, 10:12 AM
I'm all for it. All my Tax dollars should go to my War Machine...well 80% of it. The rest can go to schools and roads and cops and firefighters. And the Policiticans should all be forced to take a pay cut.

My War Machine would make the Clone Army of the Empire look like the French in WWII.

stlrtruck
04-22-2008, 12:01 PM
I'm all for it. All my Tax dollars should go to my War Machine...well 80% of it. The rest can go to schools and roads and cops and firefighters. And the Policiticans should all be forced to take a pay cut.

My War Machine would make the Clone Army of the Empire look like the French in WWII.

I don't know about 80% but I definitely believe that our military needs to be "REINFORCED" and "REINVENTED". The wars we fight today are not the same wars we fought years ago. For the life of me I don't understand how you can have "RULES OF WAR" when the objective is to WIN - regardless of damage done to religious buildings, government buildings, etc.

Anyway, I say cut the politicians pay by no less than 50%, then tell any nation that wants us off their land that if they have future problems (regardless of what kind) don't call me. And take all that foreign aid and put it back into our own country!!


And oh....GO NAVY BEAT ARMY!!!

AFC
04-22-2008, 05:08 PM
For the life of me I don't understand how you can have "RULES OF WAR" when the objective is to WIN - regardless of damage done to religious buildings, government buildings, etc.

I suggest you go live as a civilian in a war-torn country for a while. That way you might realize why there are "rules of war".

Atlanta Dan
04-22-2008, 05:43 PM
I suggest you go live as a civilian in a war-torn country for a while. That way you might realize why there are "rules of war".

Unless you can get John Yoo to write a memo saying the rules can be broken

Preacher
04-22-2008, 11:19 PM
I suggest you go live as a civilian in a war-torn country for a while. That way you might realize why there are "rules of war".


rules of war only work when both sides agree and follow them. But when the enemy hides in churches (vietnnam) or mosques (iraq) and then, when they are bombed, turns around and spreads rhetoric about America bombing mosques... when they hide amongst the civilians without any type of military uniform, how do you fight according to rules of war when the other side breaks all the rules?

I am not for the slaughter of innocents. . . but there has to be a better way than to sacrifice the life of American soldiers on the altar of rules of war, when the other side is betting on that very action to help them win.


By the way, remember that Mitchel tried to push the Army for a full air force... They laughed at him. They mocked him when he told them that Pearl Harbor would be attacked by air. . . by the Japanese.

After WWi, we got rid of almost ALL of our snipers, just to have to rebuild.

After Vietnam, we got rid of many of our Navy Seals, just to have to rebuild and change...

Fact is, we are ALWAYS downsizing and then rebuilding... and usually rebuilding to fight the last war instead of the next war.

So am I surprised that the Air Force passed on the drone? Nope. not al all. After all, it wasn't used in the last war.

The other problem... as I have heard from those "at the tip of the spear" is that it is many times the staff officers and bean counters that are making the decisions... and moving up, instead of those at the forward positions pushing the envelope. Part of the problem is that if you push the envelope and rip it a bit, you get a lower mark on your fitrep... which destroys your career as an officer. So those who always play it conservative and by the book... get the good fitreps. Those who push the envelope and win ALL the time, get good ones... however, one mistake... one mark off... career is over.

Guess who becomes the general officers-- and the admirals... and passes on things that push the envelope... like drones.

Tell you this much though... I STILL would take our military, our generals, our everything over ANY military in the world... (would bet even money against the Israelis though).

stlrtruck
04-23-2008, 07:38 AM
I suggest you go live as a civilian in a war-torn country for a while. That way you might realize why there are "rules of war".

I understand the "Rules of War", however when our enemy are not following the same "rules" and innocent civilians continue to die at what point do we stop the slow trickle of lost life, become aggressive against these individuals who would gladly kill 100 of their own people to kill 100 of ours?

There are times that dictate that the "respect" for various religious buildings and other supposedly "non-essential" buildings become targets because that's where our enemy is hiding and their using that as means to continue their operations....it's like playing tag with a kid who won't get off base...eventually you've got to push him off the base!

Dino 6 Rings
04-23-2008, 08:21 AM
The rules of war according to the enemy we are currently fighting, the radical islamic jihadists, are basically, there are no innocent people, just Jihadists and everyone else is a target. That's a tough hand to play against. They consider anyone not fighting for them, non innocent, and therefore a target.

So when they say they don't "kill innocent civilians" that's because they don't consider anyone innocent.