26 October 2011

AIr Force Generals Drawing Entirely Wrong Conclusions

It's amazing that one can make it to LTG and still be so overwhelmingly wrong about something. I understand parochial service-specific cheerleading, but this is just assed-up.

However, defense analysts also subjected the military character of the campaign to scrutiny, with some now suggesting the fight in Libya indicates that airpower has finally fulfilled its decisive promise, having matured to the extent that it can win wars with only a minimal ground component. According to retired USAF Lt. Gen. David Deptula, “Whether one agrees or not with the intervention, one thing is clear -- and no surprise to objective observers: Modern air power is the key force that led to the overthrow of the Gadhafi regime.” The effect of such a conclusion on austerity-afflicted military budgets in Europe and the United States could be huge and costly, as it is almost certainly premature.


Absolutely not. Modern airpower was an enabling force that turned the tide on behalf of a proxy ground force. Modern airpower did not cause the Ghaddafi government to fall any more than it caused Saddam to leave Kuwait or the Serbs to leave Kosovo. F22s didn't land in Tripoli and push out government forces, nor did they drag Ghaddafi from a tunnel in Sirte. Ground forces did that. They weren't NATO, US, or a Coalition-of-the-Week, but they were on the ground. Airpower proponents should remember that. Just because they're not drawing a paycheck from the same treasury as your fighter pilots doesn't make them less relevant to the fight.
Modern airpower was an enabling force - perhaps even an overwhelming one - but it was an enabler and it was not the decisive force. That force is still on the ground, and always will be.

By: Brant

7 comments:

brtrain said...

Agreed!

Guardian said...

Considering the on-going problems with the F-22's oxygen system, maybe we should use them in a ground role? I think it was Doctrine Man! who joked that F-22's were doing base defense duty at JB Langley, taxiing along the perimeter fences :).

Silent Hunter said...

It's worth remembering that airpower was the reason that Gaddafi was in the tunnel in Sirte in the first place.

Matt Purvis said...

They just want to justify more money for more planes and cool aviators sunglasses.

S O said...

To be fair, Kosovo was pretty much only an air war. The ground component as not relevant back then.

Brant said...

S O - the Serbs didn't leave 'til the ground troops moved in. The investigations on-the-ground of the air campaign's BDA revealed that we managed to blow the crap out of a lot of tractors and hay bales, but didn't do a great job of hitting tanks and APCs like we claimed.

Once the ground troops showed up, the Serbs left. THey didn't leave while the bombing was going on.

madmaxusmc said...

Not surprisingly, this is the same conclusion that AF flag officers draw after EVERY conflict in which America engages. Similar bloviating took place after "my" war, Desert Storm, despite objective postwar joint staff BDA which established that the combined air forces of the coalition hit less than 50% of what they aimed at, and destroyed even less than that. With budget cuts on the horizon, and major air procurement lines in jeopardy, we can expect to see a lot more of this type of spin in the near future