Defense reform.

"Mr. Hagel will take some first steps to deal with the controversial issue of pay and compensation, as the proposed budget would impose a one-year salary freeze for general and flag officers; basic pay for military personnel would rise by 1 percent. After the 2015 fiscal year, raises in pay will be similarly restrained, Pentagon officials say. The fiscal 2015 budget will also call for slowing the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel and would reduce the $1.4 billion direct subsidy provided to military commissaries, which would most likely make goods purchased at those commissaries more expensive for soldiers. The budget also proposes an increase in health insurance deductibles and some co-pays for some military retirees and for some family members of active servicemen. But Mr. Hagel’s proposals do not include any changes to retirement benefits for those currently serving. Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft would be eliminated. The aircraft was designed to destroy Soviet tanks in case of an invasion of Western Europe, and the capabilities are deemed less relevant today. The budget plan does sustain money for the controversial F-35 warplane, which has been extremely expensive and has run into costly delays. In addition, the budget proposal calls for retiring the famed U-2 spy plane in favor of the remotely piloted Global Hawk."   NY Times


I have insisted for several years that cuts of this kind are wise and justified.  It is not clear how much the USMC will be cut.  Their cuts should be proportional to those in the US Army.  We should not fight any more large ground actions anywhere unless the defense of the territory of the United States is invloved.  there is some question in my mind with regard to the A-10s.  They have always been very useful and continue to be so for the mission of Close Air Support of ground troops.  the USAF does not like that mission and prefers to fight the air superiority battle above all else, but, the A-10s are 40 odd years old and the argument was probably easy for the USAF to make.  They might have been transferred to the Army, but, I guess that was not "in the cards."

Needless to say, this smaller forces structure should dictate a more modest foreign policy.  Will it?  pl

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33 Responses to Defense reform.

  1. Vicente says:

    An issue which is often overlooked w the A-10 is its role in Combat Search and Rescue packets, its official designation is O/A-10, as its ability to loiter low and slow makes it a valuable part of any operation to pick up downed aircrew in enemy territory. USAF claims the mission is a imperative for them, but they are now faced w redoing the CONOPS if this piece is taken out.

  2. Bill H says:

    pl: Reducing the size of all forces makes sense and I not only agree with you regarding the USMC, I would suggest it sohould be reduced by a somewhat larger proportion than the Army. Its mission has diminished more.
    Effectively reducing pay by lowering benefits, such as higher prices at commissaries, does not make much sense and I am not sharpening my own axe here, as I did not serve long enough to retire and am not a current beneficiary.
    They are still using the old saw of “it was designed to kill Russian tanks” to get rid of the venerable A-10, but it was designed to provide ground support. It is immensely capable at that task and is the only ground support bird we have that can provide loiter time. Getting rid of it would be stupid.

  3. Before cutting forces I would tackle missions of DoD! I would confine it to war fighting against EXTERNAL enemies only. It dominates directly and indirectly much of civil government mostly in absorbing opportunity costs.
    And go back to calling it the War Department. If we believe DoD management so astute [I don’t] we could dual hat some of the current DoD components. How many are there by the way?
    And the VA Department and Public Health in the civil sector should be merged with DoD to the extent possible! And perhaps add CDC and DHS medical to the new arrangement!
    And HHS would be converted to a new formal regulator of Health and Life insurers after modifying the McCarran Ferguson Act that leaves regulation to the states to the extent they regulate. And of course few states fund competent insurance regulatory staff with strong laws and adequate money. Many have NO actuary staff that are fully qualified.
    And Northern Command and the NG should be merged!

  4. Rd. says:

    “Needless to say, this smaller forces structure should dictate a more modest foreign policy. Will it? pl ”
    not likely. the hegemonic syndrome is alive and kicking.
    as for budget cuts, where are the cuts on sub contractors and the private military???

  5. turcopolier says:

    The contractor budgets have been massively cut and will be further cut. There is no private military. The security companies provide facility guards and PSDs. That’s all. pl

  6. Tyler says:

    The cutting of the A-10 shows that the Air Force is more interested in what looks cool at an air show versus what’s effective, as if there was any doubt.
    The A-10 WAS the CAS capable package you wanted over your shoulder when the hills came alive with Afghanis. You wanted that main cannon spitting death along the ridgeline, missiles and bombs blazing. You wanted that low and slow flyby DARING anyone to pop their heads up and get some of what their buddies just got fed.
    But the “future” is an airplane that’s so ridiculously complex they can’t even get the computer programming right. Heckuva job, Chuckie.

  7. walrus says:

    Agree with Tyler.

  8. The Twisted Genius says:

    The Air Force never wanted the A-10. It tried to get rid of it years ago, but Congress passed legislation to prevent that. I’m with Colonel Lang on this. It should go to the Army. My fraternity brother and best man flew an A-10 in Desert Storm. He loved it. They can take a punch and keep flying… actually a whole lot of punches. He also loved the Harrier which he flew with Nr 1 Squadron RAF. Those things are surprisingly simple (cables,flaps and manual levers). I know enough about computers and software to know I would not trust these new computerized planes.
    Freezing flag officer pay for a year is nothing. There’s plenty of room in the pay tables for rolling some of those rates back. Let them make more money for more stars, but no yearly increases for longevity. Most importantly, get rid of half of them.

  9. Eliot says:

    Is the USAF using these cuts as an excuse to finally rid themselves of the A-10? They’ve never liked CAS.
    – Eliot

  10. Lord Curzon says:

    Tyler et al are absolutely correct. Back in 2006 when 3 Para Battlegroup deployed to Helmand, the one aircraft prized over all others was the A-10 for its ability to loiter over the battlefield and get the job done.
    There needs to be a mix of airframes, some complex, others more simple. I find the inability of planners and decision makers to see this obvious truth baffling.

  11. Alba Etie says:

    Do you know if the AC Gunships will make it through the budget cuts ?

  12. Tyler says:

    What pisses me off more about the A10 thing is that Hagel should KNOW better. How would SSG Hagel feel about Secretary Hagel killing our generation’s version of Spooky/Puff the Magic Dragon in favor of the Starfighter or whichever plane it was that nearly killed Yeager ?

  13. SAC Brat says:

    If I ever wanted to design a program that would be a lamprey attached to the defense budget, it would be hard to beat the F-35 program. Producing an actual airplane appears secondary to having a program that cannot be stopped or killed.
    It is also amusing to see conservative and liberal facades fall away when the military seeks to close a military base in a politician’s district. To think that in the 1930’s and 1940’s many politicians were against expansion of military budgets. Maybe it was cleaner times and they hadn’t figured out how to get their cut.

  14. SAC Brat says:

    The fly-by-wire airplanes can work very well after the software is sorted out. There have been several airplanes that have landed after significant damage because the FBW systems compensated for the damage. Also, common practice is to use different software and hardware architecture in the control and monitoring sides of the flight control computers, as well as using three separate systems for voting and operation with degraded systems.
    I’ve never understood why new piloted fighters are needed with remote piloted vehicles becoming viable. It would appear more cost effective to keep producing refined versions of current airframes and spend the savings in training and operations, which few countries can match. What good is the new spiffy super zoomy fighter if the other country can’t get their air force up to do anything effective? Is it just a jobs program?

  15. Medicine Man says:

    I agree completely. It really looks like the US Airforce just hates having an airframe that is devoted to servicing the strategic needs of ground forces.

  16. Medicine Man says:

    I had to read up on the AC-47; “Puff the Magic Dragon”? That’s a bloody amusing nickname.

  17. Medicine Man says:

    Bill H,
    It is bureaucratic thinking at its finest. The whole “designed to kill Russian tanks”-line is just comical. I wonder if anyone thought to ask the US Airforce how many Migs they shoot down these days.
    I just don’t understand the thinking. I’ve read about the virtues of the A-10,; about how it is highly specialized for a job that isn’t likely to go away any time soon; yet when confronted with a padlock that needs to be cut, the USAF wants to complain that their hacksaw doesn’t have enough chrome rims.

  18. turcopolier says:

    MM and Tyler
    Actually, SSG Hagel may never have seen an AC-47 in action. this lovely beast tended to show up in the more remote parts of the war to support isolated positions under attack. It was very vulnerable to ground fire from the many Soviet and Chinese built AAA weapons that big NVA outfits possessed, So, it tended be used against regular VC units that were not so equipped. One such save my life and that of my comrades one dark night at Song Be in Phuoc Long province in March, 1969. Three regular battalions of VC Military Region Ten had been trying to over run the town for several days while much larger enemy forces attacked around Bien Hoa and Long Binh far to the south. In spite of our best efforts these brave little fellows had gotten up to the wire and were trying to climb over it and/or cut their way through it when an AC-47 arrived on the scene. After some discussion, the pilot was persuaded to shoot that close to us and he broke the back of the assault. We buried 400 enemy bodies there and in other places in the town. Not all had been killed by the Spooky but a lot had been. We learned from prisoners captured within a few days that the three bns involved had lost 600 men altogether in the extended battle and had been effectively destroyed. It was a lot quieter around Song Be after that. pl

  19. Tyler says:

    Likely. The AF still can’t wrap its head around that barring another war with Russia or China its dog fighting days are a rarity, and its mission is drones & CAS. Ergo that’s why we get an air to air interceptor (the F35) and the cruel fantasy that its somehow CAS equivalent to the A-10.

  20. Tyler says:

    The kool aid called “Jointness”. Its why the XM8 rifle project was killed in the mid 2000s, despite being a joy of a weapon. The marines thought the barrel was too short and said they’d stick with the M4/M16, and the military veto’d the whole thing.
    Its the same thing with airframes. They think they can shove a carrier based fighter, an air to ground support, and air to air superiority role on the same frigging plane ignoring the fact that the three facets are totally different disciplines in order to save money. What a joke!

  21. Tyler says:

    Most if not all of the AC-10s are assigned to SOCOM in some shape or form, so I imagine so. Colonel Lang, being of the Special Forces fraternity would likely know better than I.

  22. turcopolier says:

    I think the A-10 is a wonderful airplane. I think it was originally nicknamed something like the Thunderbolt II. I remember hearing the CoS of the USAF or Chairman (I forget which) describe the thing at the Armed forces Staff College in 1973. It was just coming into service then. I thought to myself that it would would have been wonderful to have them in VN. pl

  23. The Twisted Genius says:

    I’m pretty sure it was the A1 Skyraider that was nicknamed the Spad or Super Spad. It had a rotary piston engine and was used for low and slow ground attacks. I built a model of one as a kid while you were fighting for your life in VN. I always thought the A-10 was a direct descendant of the Skyraider and could have been nicknamed the Spad II for that reason.
    The AC-130s, descendants of the AC-47s, are still flying as part of the 1st Special operations Wing along with the MC-130 Combat Talons which we know so well.

  24. SAC Brat says:

    There was a Mexican restaurant off post at Plattsburgh NY that was owned by a Marine veteran of Khe Sanh. Every year he would have a party for the local aircrew that had participated in Operation Niagara, the close in bombing of the Khe Sanh base. A popular place at the time since the local wing had been a B-52 organization earlier.

  25. Will the A-10 be destroyed or sold?

  26. SAC Brat says:

    The A-10 came after a lot of folks realized the non-zoomy A-1 Skyraider was extremely useful. Another idea at the time was for direct radio communication from the ground to support aircraft. How’d everyone forget the lesson’s George Patton learned the hard way about using air support?
    A re-do of the Treaty of Key West may be in order.
    Like a large corporation, suffering because the departments put their interests ahead of the company’s interests.

  27. turcopolier says:

    Sure. As the Brits might say, I also have “form” with the Skyraider. In 1972 my outfit (MACVSOG/STDAT-158) was running ops in NVN. We had a lot of air assets. We lost aircrews in NVN. The SAR package always included Skyraider. On one occasion I remember listening to the radio as a SAR package tried to pick a pilot up off the beach in NVN. The Jolly was nearby. The NVA were just off the beach. A Skyraider pilot made his run at them to clear the extraction. “I hit him! my God I hit him!. May God forgive me.” pl

  28. Lord Curzon says:

    Indeed, it’s ridiculous. But as with previous attempts to retire the A-10, the current proposals are subject to Congressional approval. And getting the lawmakers to sign off on the cuts could be easier said than done…I hope!

  29. Tyler says:

    I believe I’ve told the story on here before about working the AfPak border with some SF types and taking fire from a Paki border outpost. The A-10 came down like the world’s biggest, angriest, hornet and wiped it off the mountaintop before proceeding to hang out with us just in case, flying giant slow looping circles in the sky while we marched along. It was a comforting sound to have with us.
    The fact that I continue to see AF officials disingenuously describe the A-10 as “designed for the tank battles of the Cold War” instead of as the CAS beast of all trades it is just goes to show how the real concern is “what’s good for the generals when they retire” and not what the troops need.
    I imagine the A-10 in VN would have been something of a game changer in that war, between its ability to take a slug on the chin and stay airborne as well as shatter anything the NVA could put into the field.

  30. Tyler says:

    The fact that drone operators refer to themselves as “pilots” and can be spotted wearing aviator jackets around FOBs tells you a lot about the AF mentality.
    Pilots think CAS missions are demeaning? Grunts have managed to burn shit barrels and hold ground for centuries, but keep on dreaming about air duels with Sergei or Hong.

  31. Medicine Man says:

    It is not even the pilots who are the problem; well at least not the ones who fly the Warthogs. I’ve heard more than once that the A-10 air crews are really proud of their work. The story I keep hearing is the AF leadership that doesn’t want to run the A-10s *or* give up the funding required to run them. Those kinds of perverse priorities just turn my stomach.

  32. Out of curiosity what was the last time US forces fought without air superiority and is that discussion even relevant for 21st Century warfare?
    Once again I ask is seize and hold a legitimate military concept for US forces in the 21st Century?
    I keep hearing the USAF is training 125 “pilots” for each of its drones to allow 24/7/365 ops! Is this correct or even possible?

  33. Mike C says:

    The Warthogs will go to the boneyard. Just one of the perversities of this retirement is 200-odd aircraft were being re-winged to keep them flight worthy out to 2040. 56 more wings were purchased from Boeing only last Sept.
    I suppose Guadalcanal might have been the last battle US forces fought without control of the air, though they contested it. They were pretty spooked for a while in Korea when the MiG showed up. The F-86A was not a reliable beast early on.
    My opinion: A discussion of air superiority is relevant. If we continue making these poor policy, planning, and procurement choices, we could end up surprised.

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