Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Scrapping the Air Force

David Axe points to an article in the American Spectator (sub. required) detailing how our youngest military branch might not be so useful in an era of combating insurgent terrorists. Says Axe:

Fed up with unnecessary gold-plated fighter jet programs, the service’s impatience with counter-insurgency and its anti-China rhetoric, back in August I proposed the disbanding of the U.S. Air Force. The air service’s missions could be folded into the Army, Navy and Marine Corps without any loss in national power — and we’d benefit from cuts to Pentagon overhead.Now Robert Farley over at The American Prospect has taken up the cause in a new piece, “Abolish the Air Force”...

And then we read this from Strategypage that the Army isn't too keen with the new small diameter bomb, touted as the fighter jocks' contribution to urban warfare:

Basically, if you add high precision to a bomb or missile, you increase its cost by $25-50,000. But while cost is a consideration, it's not the only one. You need just enough explosives to do the job. Too much bang, and you just endanger your own people. More important is availability. The infantry need their explosion when they need it, not when the air force gets around to it. Thus the army prefers to rely on precision weapons they control.

While I wouldn't go so far as to abolish the service yet, I do think we should reconsider the budget priorities of each branch of service. Since the Army is carrying most of the load in the War on Terror, and thus is more susceptible to reform than the other two, they should get the lions share of the annual funds, say a 50%-25%-and 25% ratio. Then perhaps their more hi-tech siblings would become less interested in fighting some future war that never occurs and be more useful in wars we already have.

Also read "A fighter conceived in the 1960s is still on the job". There are also several aircraft from the 40's and 50's still on the job, because the USAF can't/won't build anything to replace them.