Friday, May 23, 2014

Of acquisitions and drawdowns

If you want to learn how to be lean and lethal, look no further than USSOCOM;

"After three of AFSOC’s Ospreys were shot up over Juba, South Sudan in December, resulting in the injuries of four Marines on board, the command realized that the birds needed better armor.

DiSebastian said that “we’re looking to put armor protection on those aircraft in under 140 days” and they’re about a third of the way through that.

SOCOM leadership is also working on beefing up the firepower on the aircraft, testing new forward-firing weapons that it wants to put in place by the end of this year.

If that seems like a pretty quick schedule to those who are used to the years-long process of getting things done in the Pentagon bureaucracy, Lt. Col. DiSebastian said that’s the whole point.

The gun program “is something that if we went to big Air Force or big Navy acquisitions it would have been a five-year program,” he said, but since the command is doing the research and development itself, “companies are looking to put a capability on this aircraft and shoot it by the end of this year.”  Defense News

So why hasn't the rest of DOD learned from the Special Ops community?  Do things in house, get things turned around sooner rather than later, and do it on a lean budget.  The Marines have this figured out as well.  They train their own armorers to build and maintain sniper rifles and when the M-9 wasn't cutting it, reintroduced the M-1911A1 for close quarter combat.  Of course if you are the USAF, you tend to live up to your criticism of being more of a corporation than a branch of the military.

This is what happens when the fighter mafia of the USAF is scared of getting fewer F-35s;

"The service’s top leaders say the vast majority of so-called “close air support” missions conducted in Afghanistan since 2006 have been flown by a variety of aircraft that are not A-10s. Specifically, the leaders say that the 80 percent of these missions conducted by aircraft other than the Warthog shows that a variety of aircraft can do the critical mission of reinforcing ground forces with firepower from the air.

However, a number of observers challenge the Air Force’s claim that 80 percent of close air support missions are really conducted by non-A-10 planes. These observers assert that the service has deliberately manipulated the data to support its case.

The plan to retire the A-10 has sparked a firestorm of criticism from members of Congress, A-10 pilots and airmen whose job is to embed with ground forces and call in air strikes."  PBS News Hour

What the USAF should have done a while back is give the A-10 and Close Air Support (CAS) mission to the Army.  The fighter mafia can't let go of any fixed mission to the ground-pounders, even one that doesn't involve supersonic, sexy fighters that have thin skin and can't really fly in all weather (such as the F-35 or even B-2).  At the same time, the fighter mafia refuse the acknowledge the importance of providing a dedicated CAS platform and wants to half-ass it with multi-role fighters and drones.  It won't work people.  Soldiers and Marines need dedicated, fixed wing CAS.  That's why the Marines have their own organic fixed wing aircraft, they don't wan to compete with needs of the fleet for carrier based fixed wing aircraft.  The Army relies on rotary winged aircraft but helicopters just don't have the duration of an A-10.  Oh and A-10s invented the concept of armed Search and Rescue (SAR), they can remain on station to protect a down pilot.  Helicopters just don't have the range and duration to perform that mission.

Things I don't understand;

"Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) offered an amendment, rejected 191-233, that would end the authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against those responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks within a year. The California Democrat said the authorization was no longer necessary 13 years later."  The Hill

I thought we just sent in troops to Nigeria to assist with the al Qaeda backed Boko Haram?  Isn't al Qaeda, by assessments from the White House, now more of a threat than before?  I'm not advocating for more military action, just some consistency from the messages our leaders are sending out.

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