The Magazine of Future Warfare
A decade ago there was serious debate about the roles and missions of the armed services. There is costly overlap and the end of the Cold War prompted discussions on saving money. In recent years, this talk has disappeared as the US military enjoyed large budget increases. However, this is coming to an end due to the massive national debt that has accumulated. Big government advocates dismiss this problem by pointing out that annual deficits are not that high. They ignore the reality that each annual deficit increases the overall debt. This is like someone whose credit card debt rises by $500 each month, but thinks that is no problem since it has risen each month for the past decade.
Current commitments to Iraq have overstrained US Army combat units. The Army needs more manpower to sustain this mission, yet new funding and recruits are difficult to find. In contrast, the US Air Force is reducing the number of its flying squadrons as it prefers increasingly costly and sophisticated aircraft. As a result, the Air Force is downsizing and forcing thousands of airmen out of the service while turning away thousands of recruits each year. The solution is to transfer two Army missions to the Air Force.
The Army is involved in National Missile Defense for historical reasons, although this mission better fits into the Air Force, especially since the Air Force has always filled the offensive missile role with ICBMs. In fact, an Air Force General is in charge of this overlapping "joint" effort. Civilian leaders must turn some screws and force the Army out of this mission to free a few thousand soldiers for ground combat units. The entire US Army Space and Missile Defense Command / US Army Strategic Forces Command should disappear as the US Army leaves the strategic missile business.
The Army should also turn over the high- and mid-altitude air defense mission to the Air Force. There has been friction in recent wars as Air Force pilots feared Army air defense units might shoot them down. The US Army shot down a British fighter and a US Navy fighter during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, while an Air Force F-16 bombed a US Army Patriot surface-to-air missile battery. Communications between Army air defense and Air Force headquarters was limited. Shifting air defense assets to the Air Force can integrate training and improve coordination.
Air dominance is a core Air Force role, and coordinating surface-to-air defense is critical. The Patriot mission of theater missile defense is best performed by the Air Force as well since airbases are a primary target, which is why the Royal Air Force operates Patriot systems. However, US Army Patriot units are based at Fort Bliss, now moving to Fort Sill, and rarely train with the Air Force. The Army can gradually shift this mission to the Air Force over the next decade. Rather than moving to Fort Sill, most Patriot batteries should be based near Nevada where they can participate in Air Force "Red Flag" exercises. Expanding Air Force facilities at Tonopah or Indian Springs for Patriot units is possible, while Beale and Edwards airbases are also good options. The Army should retain the low-altitude air defense mission since ground units need self-protection from direct aerial threats.
Most air defense soldiers will be furious as this proposal - that someone dares put the interests of the Army and the nation ahead of their careers. However, most will be unaffected since the transition will begin with new Air Force lieutenants and young airmen joining Army Patriot batteries after completing entry-level schools. Readiness will improve since it is easier for the Air Force to recruit intelligent airmen to operate the complex Patriot system. After a decade, most Patriot positions would be filled by Air Force personnel so these units will shift to Air Force command as the few remaining soldiers finish their careers attached to Air Force Patriot units.
Some may argue that the Air Force would eventually disband air defense units in favor of fighters. However, once the Air Force establishes an air defense community and they routinely participate in Air Force exercises, Air Force Generals will better understand their value. Creative exercises may require an Air Expeditionary Force based at Nellis to defend ground units located at Fort Bliss, hundreds of miles away. It will become obvious that moving Patriot batteries overland is essential to dominate the airspace distant from fixed airbases. Some exercises may limit the quantity of aviation fuel, greatly limiting the effectiveness of fighter aircraft, so Patriot batteries are favored.
Successful corporations "stick to their knitting". They do not expand into areas not related to their core business. The US Army is a complex organization, so the fewer missions the better. Army Generals always resist change, especially if it will result in the loss of a few General officer positions, so prodding by civilian leaders is required. Moreover, shifting the big missile business to the Air Force will free manpower and resources to support the Army's ground combat mission. Soldiers exist to pull triggers, leave button pushing to airmen.
Carlton Meyer editorG2mil@Gmail.com
G2mil editorials may be freely distributed without permission
Fall 2006 Articles
Letters - comments from G2mil readers
Joint Command Ships - a critical need
Helltank - the ultimate light tank
Married Teenage Warriors - don't reward teenage marriage
June 2006 Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) (pdf) - latest procurement costs
Hizbollah Missile Swarms - pounded armor, infantry
The Occupation of Iraqi Hearts and Minds - an inside view
US Armor in Operation “Iraqi Freedom” - a Russian viewSlouching Toward Tora Bora - was bin Laden allowed to escape?
US built major Iranian nuclear facility - whoops!
Lone Soldier: War - an Israeli soldier's account of Lebanon
Learning Large Lessons - roles of ground and air power
Three Iraq Myths That Won't Quit - Scott Ritter clears the BS
Iran - The Next War - an expose
Beware: the new goths are coming - the threat from hoards of illegal aliens
Hollow US defense for an empty threat - the missile defense scam continues
Air Strikes in Afghanistan - by William Lind
LAST STAND - the military’s problem with the President’s Iran policy
Don't forget those other 27,000 nukes - existing WMDs are also a threat
Nationalize the Defense Industry - there is no real competition
Marching as to War - Christian extremists in the US military
US: Danger, Danger Everywhere - inventing threats for profit
Criticize Israel? - and you're an anti-Semite!
The Disappearance of Ken Lay - of interest
Previous G2mil - Summer 2006 issue
The Spectrum of Future Warfare - Carlton Meyer's new book
Past Editorials - by Carlton Meyer
Library Tour - visit G2mil's library
Library Entrance - members only
All material in G2mil Copyright 2006
G2mil, patents pending on some items. Links to www.G2mil.com are
All material in G2mil Copyright 2006 G2mil, patents pending on some items. Links to www.G2mil.com are encouraged.