Monday, June 16, 2008

Air Force Renewal - A Guest Editorial

In my humble opinion, the mess with the nukes on the bomber was inexcusable and people should have gotten fired immediately. For them to flunk the retest, means a few more needed to go but that's not what all this about. Simple solution, 1 bomber on alert for each of the B-52 and B-2 sqdn, the troops pull an alert tour ever 3 months or so and go through all the procedures--plus big clue, don't store nukes and fake nukes/conv weapons in the same bunkers/rooms and maybe splash a little paint or big stencils/logos on them if they are no longer a nuke. B-1s are now conventional only so they get a pass.

Gates has it in for the AF and is just paying back the pilots, for his time of AF service before his CIA service. He was a big wig when the CIA didn't see the wall coming down, USSR collapsing or Saddam Kuwait adventure, but he's suddenly a military genius.

The AF has spent a lot of money on the f/a-22 and taken forever to field it - it was the wrong choice back in 1990 but that's subject of another discussion. Now it has a few neat airshow machines and bunch of worn out airplanes which it can't afford to replace. The AF could buy 3 or 4 F-15Es for the price of a f/a-22 and be able to put bombs on target as well as shot missiles at anything that staggers into the air. Whether carrying 2 1000# GBUs (which it has to borrow from the Navy) or 8 250# SDBs, it is unlikely the f/a-22 would make a big impact as bomber and it would only be able to carry 2 AMRAAMs and 2 Aim-9s when it is going a bombing.

The last few AF Gens have been totally heavy on the F-15 background and for the most part much like their airplane don't seem to have a clue about the A/G arena. The stars in the desert/mountain/cities recently have been the bombers, A-10s, and I would image the AC-130s although you don't hear much about them.

The UAVs have become the FACs and Recee fliers. Unmanned and therefore fearless, they do the job of the O-1,O-2, OV-10s and the like. There's some magic number that the system is able to provide and it works out to around 25 orbits, covered 24/7, 365. I kind of wonder how many airborne FACs covered SVN which I believe is a smaller land mass then IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN but that's another subject.

The Army wants their own UAVs and the AF says they should control all UAVs so they can be deconflicted with other traffic. The AF could not generate enough UAVs to suit the needs of the Army for overwatch of its activities so the Army complains it isn't getting support and tries to buy its own system, which is just a little different from the AF predator.

Gates meanwhile runs around complaining about the AF want to fight the "next war". This is funny because it is commonly understood that most military forces are structured to fight their last war using the "lessons learned" and almost always start a war using the old tactics, equipment, etc. For example one study showed that the ARMY had 4000 tanks but only around 400 in the desert. The rest were concentrated in Europe. We've pulled almost all the combat aircraft out of Europe but the tanks are still there. Wouldn't they be better in some location were they could be rapidly put on fast boats and sealifted to a combat area?? Remember the fiasco when the AH-64s tried to self deploy to Bosnia?

Also constraining the ARMY vehicles so they will fit inside C-130s is dumb. Unless you are sending troops as a trip wire or special force team, the small vehicles are unsafe. IEDs and RPGs go right through the little vehicles. A hundred M-1s offloaded from a fast ship is much more threatening than a couple of C-130s loaded with Hummers and Strikers, without the armor cause then they are too heavy. The armor and ammo has to come in via another aircraft.

Another of Gates's great ideas is heavy emphasis on special ops and special forces. The fact is to get those kind of troops takes lots of training, years of time and then to pay them the same as you do some admin clerk, PA or JAG means they move on to better jobs or get out of the service. Also, the Army hates those types and doesn't promote them as a rule. Additionally, we now have a military culture controlled by JAGs who Monday morning quarterback decisions and go after servicemen who actually fight. How about a JAG in each combat platoon as point man, that way there won't be any problems about ROEs, etc?

Taking the space mission and cyber force is in keeping with the AF mission and also shows its biggest vulnerabilities. Everything is now tied into the GPS and comm links. Jamming a signal is usually the easiest way of defeating any electronic emitting system and doing it can be as simple as keying a radio on the freq as we all know.

The constant need to know where the forces are is a military requirement but it is also what killed the U-boats in WWII. The reporting in combined with the code breaking allowed the allies to find the stealth forces of the day and eliminate their threat. The f/a-22 is constantly mentioned as an ISR resource but it needs to reveal itself to provide the information to other, so what good is that? Encryption and all that cosmic electron pushing does wonders but when the system can be compromised by a luke warm allie who sells to anyone or espionage.

Lastly the AF and all the other services are too small. As they were downsized after the USSR collapse, the virus of downsizing kept going and now the military is actively engaged far more than any time in its post WWII past with a smaller force. Mao said "quantity has a quality of its own". The military should be doubled in size across the board and the number of aircraft being built each year should not be measured in double digits, including drones.

The unstated effect of the beheadings of the AF leadership is that when the reviews for funding start in Aug, there will be interim and inexperienced people representing the AF. The Navy will be front loaded with the JCS and Central Region and the Army will be next in line to allocate funds. The Army is supposed to grow in manpower like the Marines and the AF might just be able to stop it personnel downsizing if Gates keeps his word. Watch for the Army to get a big budget boost, navy to get some big bucks and the AF to get cut in funding. Probably no more f/a-22s as the f-35 is coming and will solve all the AF needs.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Air Force shakeup

The shift was long over due.

Somehow when the Bomber Generals got thrown out, along with there Peace is our Profession motto, they were replaced by the Air to Air Generals.

Air Superiority missions have another name, Defensive Counter Air. Defense never won a war, never will.

What wins a war is a grunt with a rifle saying, "This freaking piece of ground belongs to the US." Nothing less.

Neither the Bomber nor the Air to Air Generals would give the time of day to the people doing the fighting: Fighter Bombers, Attack Aircraft, FACs and Special Operations. The war in Southeast Asia was an anomaly. You had an air war in the North and a ground war in the South. The two were not in many senses connected.

Desert One was an Air War, followed by a Ground War. There was no follow-on.

Desert Two is only a Ground War, the Red side did not fly one sortie. The only need for the Air Force is for CAS and Transport. CAS is becoming a bit different, but it is still the direct support of our troops, mostly in contact.

So, what was the service priority?

The F-22.

What is the F-22?

It is an Air Superiority Fighter with very limited Air to Ground capability.

What use is it in the current war?

I have no idea, neither apparently does anyone else. Mostly, it looks cool doing fly bys at Langley.

What is the solution?

Gates had part of the idea.

First fire all the generals and colonels. Promote fighters. The people that should be running the Air Force are those who support the concept of winning wars against our enemies. The only way to do that is with Joint Action. Let's see FACs, SOP and Fighter Bomber / Attack people running things.

The UCAVs are interesting. They in some ways are the way of the future for limited wars, given our casualty aversion. Their use in a major war rather limited, however.

The last two Chiefs of Staff have managed to make the Air Force seem irrelevant.

One parting thought, even though the current war is a limited conflict, China can go to war at any time. They are our real current enemy and we need to be ready to defeat them. By the way, 180 F-22s won't do squat there either.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A plan, a plan, my kingdom for an Energy Plan

If we do not want to go back to the dark ages, living as manual laborers, eking out of a living from whatever we can, using draft animals, dying at an average age of 33, we need energy. The source is not critical, the form and cost are.

Is oil a renewable source of energy? We do not know. Many call oil a “fossil” fuel, yet no one can duplicate a process and artificially create oil. Is it a natural substance somehow produced in the earth’s core? We do not know that either. Junk science will not tell us.

We need a reliable source of energy, two to be more precise. One for fixed units: houses, offices, factories and the like. Nuclear power producing electricity will do fine for this.

Oh, but the danger!

Danger? What danger? How many people have been killed by nuclear power in the United States? To save time, not one.

The hazardous waste!

What waste? Most of what is currently classified as nuclear waste is in reality not hazardous at all. The totality of nuclear waste with a rational definition will fit in one shipping container for the whole United States for a year’s worth of waste. Less, if you allow recycling!

Nuclear power would also allow for the use of electric cars. Electric cars have a reasonable range of about 120 miles per day. That would take care of about 90 percent of US needs, hybrids could handle the rest.

What about aircraft, boats/ships and trucking?

Synthetic Liquid Fuel (SLF) Liquid combustible fuel is the only source of energy with sufficient energy density for aircraft and vehicles.

We need a Manhattan Project to manufacture SLF. Now.

So, what to do? How do we drop energy costs to a manageable level?


1. Open all the US territory to drilling for oil. ALL of it.
2. Open the ANWR to drilling right now.
3. Federalize power, oil and gas production permitting requirements so that a single permit is all that is needed to build a powerplant, LNG facility, drill for oil or build a refinery.
These three items will drive the cost of energy down to the point that gas will be under $2.50 per gallon immediately in an effort to preclude these steps from being economical. Short range victory for the US.
4. Allow the immediate permitting and construction of nuclear powerplants. Change tax codes to encourage energy production.
5. Dedicate all resources required to develop a SLF, the patents to be United States property.
6. Encourage the production of stand alone solar energy units of the 1-25KW size in areas of appropriate weather. Make them easy to shop for and install.

Simple. Quick. Effective.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Oil, Energy and the Economy

A robust and growing American economy is due to a number of factors:

• Productivity of the American worker;
• Abundant natural resources;
• Low government overhead;
• Low energy costs.

The American worker is one of the most productive in the world, bar none. Toyota and Honda build cars here because they are better and cheaper than the ones built by Japanese workers.

We have abundant natural resources compared to any other industrialized country.

Although we complain of high taxes, they are the lowest in industrialized world.

Until now, energy costs have been relatively low. We have not been energy taxed to the hilt like the European countries. With the current spike in energy prices, our economy is in a precarious position. The European countries have the same problem, except made worse by their taxation. They do have the advantage of much smaller distances to overcome, but diesel at $9.50 per gallon is destroying their economy, also.

Energy prices need to come down. $140.00 per barrel of oil with the profit going to the various forces of evil that oppose our way of life is not good.

What is the solution?

We need CHEAP ENERGY. Period.

What does that mean?

Nuclear power, synthetic liquid fuel that can be burned in internal combustion engines, solar power that works cheaply, where it makes sense. Increased efficiency.

Most important, this all needs to be based on SOLID SCIENCE. Not the junk science of Global Warming.

SOLID SCIENCE will bring us a solution. It is inconceivable that a synthetic liquid fuel cannot be manufactured if we have access to unlimited capital, say 100 Billion dollars, unlimited talent and unlimited (nuclear) energy.

The time is NOW.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Airlines, Capacity and Survival

For airlines to survive the revenue per used seat mile must exceed the cost per used seat mile. For some this is “Rocket Science”, for others it is elementary math. For anyone in the airline industry it is an obvious fact.

Currently fuel prices are in an upward spiral, out of control and irrational. That does not change the fact that they are up 100 percent in the last year. Fuel would seem to be a constant fraction of costs, about 30 percent. Not true, the fuel fraction of costs is actually about 67 percent due to its influence in the other sectors.

The era of cheap travel is gone. So long as our governments allow the price of energy to be artificially inflated, the airlines have no choice. They either raise the yield, that is the revenue per aircraft mile or they go out of business.

The number of people traveling today is based on old energy costs. When the price of flying doubles, which it must, the number of people who can afford to fly drops about 75 percent. People who can afford the higher fares will not fly in the current cramped seating. Thus, the airlines need to cut their capacity by about 60 percent. With 40 percent of the aircraft flying at a lower load factor the airlines can make money.

There is an unintended consequence. Places that depend on drive in traffic will do okay; these are cities like San Diego whose tourism comes mostly from Los Angeles. Areas like Hawaii, whose tourists are almost exclusively air travel customer, will have a major problem as their lower end customers stay home.

Stand by for more economic bad news brought to you by the current administration. But, the Democrats have an even worse solution. We need an energy plan. Watch this space for a real one.

Tooth Violence

Dateline Today
In light of yesterday’s tooth violence incident, I am asking each of you sheep to write or call your legislators and local government officials. We have for too long been subject to the ravages of the wolves’ teeth. Please implore them to pass legislation calling for the immediate registration and then confiscation of all sheep teeth. For too long have we as a herd put up with sheep being eaten by wolves’ teeth. We must ban the ownership, possession or use of sheep teeth. Only if we are truly without a means of defense will the wolves quit eating us.

Some of you have been calling for all sheep to carry sharp teeth as a means of defense. Can you not see how ridiculous that would be? The only way for the sheep to be truly free of tooth violence is for none of us to have teeth.

What about the wolves? Don’t worry, be happy. Your herd management will protect themselves, I mean you.


Leandro T. Sheep
Head of the Sheeple