…by literally turning the budget that makes that air force fly into a smoking hole in the ground.


249226_10150721843045004_1745586_nWe are our own worst enemy. Our fiscal policy will get us long before the big bad Russian Bear, the Chinese Dragon or some AK-47 packing boogeyman living in a mud hut in the middle of nowhere. Literally, sequester will take about 40% of the USAF’s combat punch off operational status and will gut complex training. Our leadership, in Congress, in the White House, and in the Pentagon, is a joke. This is not about partisan politics (Bush got this insanity rolling, I count him as one of the worst executives of all time, so don’t troll this into a R v D sideshow, get over your harmful “sports team” myopic political views they are divisive and not helpful), this is about a very clear reality that those in power only like to make decisions when they are easy and beneficial, when the ones that really matter come to pass they punt and could really care less where the ball lands. Since we PAY these “leaders” to make not just easy decisions but the tough ones, they are total failures in their profession.

Congress hides in plain site as a shrugging collective herd, safety in numbers you know. The DoD acts like they are victims of circumstance, and the President, well this sure is not his priority right now is it? What happened to his ice cold promise that he would not allow sequestration to come to pass? Such tough words, such steely resolve, yet totally empty in execution. Just more political theater needed to be performed with Oscar winning acuity in order to get a second term of business as usual. Reality- there really was not even a damn fight over sequester. When nobody is to blame (oh the great “who came up with this BS sequester idea in the first place” debate) nobody in Washington even cares. Your Government has checked the hell out and as a consequence we are throwing out prized military capabilities that took decades of momentum, billions in treasure and even brave lives to realize. Why? Because nobody, or at least very few in power, are willing to make the hard decisions or come up with actual solutions to very real problems. Maddening. And for those of you who want to comment “get over it man, this is Washington DC, it will never change” I say you are a part of the problem not the solution. We would still be living in caves if everyone had your lax and empty fortitude and total lack of creative vision. In fact your very freedom to be an apathetic and lazy pawn was won by people who did not share such a flaccid outlook on an individual’s ability to make a difference. In more clear terms, I am sick of that cop-out and I don’t want to hear it anymore.

420369_10152588220910004_1281050072_nI find it very strange that 17 USAF squadrons are being GROUNDED, including the USAF Thunderbirds Jet Demonstration Team, yet Air Force One showed up at SFO last week, along with a pair of Marine One helicopters, a squadron of Marine force protection and staff transport helicopters, the Presidential Motorcade, assorted heavy transports and hundreds of Secret Service so that President Obama could raise $3.2 million for Nancy Pelosi’s reelection. Air Force One is all about “The One” apparently, the rest of us won’t get to see or interact with the military we pay for this year. Think of it as ending White House Public tours but at 600kts and 7.5Gs… Nice.

With this in mind I ask where is sequester for the Presidential Airlift fleet? So 17 USAF combat squadrons can’t fly, the Thunderbirds have their wings clipped so no public USAF presence and the front line guys that still remain flying get their precious complex training hours slashed, but the money burning tub known as Air Force One gets to cruise around with unlimited mileage? How is a Nancy Pelosi’s fundraiser “essential operations?” It is good to be king I guess, that way none of the rules or “tough decisions” ever apply to you.

I challenge the White House to significantly curtail non-essential VC-25 operations and related executive travel just like the rest of the USAF. Are endless vacations, constant trips to Hollywood and political fund raisers seriously justified expenses right now? Considering the readiness of our prized USAF will be degraded to a degree never imagined before I really doubt that such luxuries are necessary. I mean I would venture to guess that the President’s trip to San Francisco cost more than the money raised at the political fund raiser. One has to ask themselves, why not just have the Government write Pelosi a check instead? I bet it would have been cheaper for the tax payer!

559300_10151892574855004_1623746163_nMaybe this news will finally reveal the myth that is the Joint Strike Fighter “program.” That myth being that we can’t afford such a concept in relevant numbers, yet alone that we don’t even need it. Think about, if even with this relatively small cut of sequester our Air Force gets put out to pasture than how on earth do the geniuses at the DoD expect to procure, operate and support 2500+ F-35s which cost between twice and four times that of the aircraft they intend to replace and at least twice as much to sustain and operate? What cancer is living in the halls of our military’s command and Congress that would continue to usher us down this clear path of strategic un-sustainability? How can they even explain such clearly insolvent plans? I mean I see posts about the Super Hornet’s replacement, the F/A-XX, really what the F-35 should have been, and I just laugh sadly. What planet are these guys even living on? We cannot afford the decades old hodgepodge of aircraft we have now yet alone a sea of F-35s, yet alone a sixth generation super-duper fighter! Am I missing something here?

We desperately need a real fighting man or woman with stars on their collar to come out and tell Congress and the nation that the enemy is us, and that things like the LCS, F-35 and so on are a liability militarily at this point. It is so damn clear that we need to procure a diverse set of capabilities that are flexible and will allow commanders to mix and match their individual attributes and weigh their “cost benefit” comparative capabilities to the urgency and needs of the mission at hand. Skip a generation in aircraft design, make the best of what we already have and look toward the next “big thing” (unmanned and/or expendable!) for your ultra-high end first day of war capabilities.

74602_10150357072670004_3553135_nThe Air Force could sit down and solve this funding issue themselves right now by doing the unthinkable, and what Congress is unwilling to do, and come up with a rationalized and sustainable force structure and long term budget for the future, featuring a flexible and affordable high-end, low-end capability mix. Cutting readiness and training should be absolutely the last, not first, avenue of action under such circumstances as we all know real the money is saved in procurement. You can have the best gear in the world but if you cannot fight with it proficiently at almost any given time than what the hell is it worth? In other words, buying and sustaining gobs of grossly expensive military hardware that you cannot even afford to use begs the simple question: What the hell is the point in buying it in the first place? 

Spinning squadrons up and down as this plan highlights will only cost us more in the long run to reattain the quality of capability we have enjoyed previously and for which our battle tactics are currently reliant upon. Plus, what will this do to our aircrew corps? In fact this whole thing sounds downright dangerous not just strategically, but also physically for those who are assigned to operate these complex weapon systems. In fact that quality and proficiency, built up over so many years, may be impossible to obtain ever again in mass with such a sad and gutted readiness and training plan.

5808_256620220003_889400_nI sit here and think of America’s spastic military procurement habits over the last couple of decades and reflect on the force we have to today. Seriously, could a child have done better considering where we stand presently? A 35 year old ATF program that gave us 184 F-22 Raptors. A tanker that still has not even taken to the skies even though it was needed a at least a decade and a half ago. Hell, we cannot even buy a couple dozen turboprop attack aircraft for another country without years of mismanagement and damaging industry intervention. The whole DoD procurement joke seems more like a jobs program than an actual defense doctrine to me. Lots of folks lining their pockets or gaining politically capital and a customer (us) with pitifully little to show for it. And now we are about to mortgage the readiness and long-term durability of even this increasingly antiquated military force simply because nobody in power can agree to a sensible, even handed restructuring of government spending. Apparently the business of big party politics is more important than our nation’s ability to defend our interests at home and abroad. In the end it is just another ominous sign of a dimming empire, and the fiddles are playing in mass and at full tempo in Washington’s firey halls of power.

Demand change, at the rate things are going our very security may depend on it…

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  1. nico says:

    The stupidity is just never ending. Some of the numbers aren’t even that big,it is just the complete lack of common sense. Here in Arizona, they have the Luke AFB Air show which has been canceled, like air shows elsewhere I am sure, due to lack of funds, around $300.000 is needed….ok, huh?!?, I don’t know, the entry is free, charge a $2 to $5 dollar entry fee would more than likely cover ALL the expenses for the weekend. Really, it is that hard to figure out????

    Procurement has been completely been taken over by defense contractors and think tank/lobbyists are really just pimps. Some of the commentary coming from those think tanks makes you wonder what the hell they are smoking….or at least makes one wish I could be payed that much to lie.

  2. crazy says:

    All valid concerns but this looks more like the administration’s next move in the continuing spending war with Congress as we approach the next scheduled battle later this month. This is no way to run an organization or a nation but these units won’t actually shut down any more than all those 159 airport traffic control towers did (not). Patience, Grasshopper.

  3. RBBailey says:

    I think it is important to point out that the idea of cutting military spending is more than likely to end up in higher spending down the road (and I’m betting I just missed that in my first read-through of your post) as well as the very real fact that cutting spending on the military does not mean we are cutting back on the amount of people we kill around the world — if I may get hippy about it for a few minutes…

    Training. In the modern world of fighter jets and high tech navy, our forces need specific and detailed and long term training in order to be able to use the weapons we have for our defense. It’s not like back in WWII when a kid could be trained on a fighter plane in a matter of weeks.

    To make up for the deficiencies in training and to match and overcome the technology of our future enemies, we will have to spend exponentially more to catch up.

  4. aerodawg says:

    I’m more convinced now than ever that the only real way to fix our problems is to lock the president, congress and every single solitary flunky in the capitol building and burn the SOB to the ground.

    It’s like the #1 requirement to be in gov’t is to have your brain surgically removed…

  5. Amicus Curiae says:

    Who needs enemies? Once mighty Air Forces can be destroyed without violence. All that is needed is bad decision makers in the right places at the right times. It will still cost you though. Not to worry, its other people’s (borrowed) money.
    As predicted by me three years ago, the USAF is on “the going out of business curve”. The capitulation was signaled by the halt in F-22 production. The decline can’t be stopped now. The surviving hardware and personell will make a nice flying club, but not an effective military organization. RIP USAF

  6. Todd Frohwirth says:

    What would you have Obama do, though? He’s already offered up chained-CPI.

    That F/A-XX does look cool though.

  7. Glen Towler says:

    I agree with everything you say and GW Bush did help turn the US from a country in surplus to one of biggest debtor countries in the world so hats off to him has to be one of the worst US presidents in history

  8. David says:

    Just got an email this morning that the Blue Angels are grounded too, limited to solo sorties to maintain proficiency. I don’t know if attacking the presidents motorcade is the way to fix the issue. The forces waste more every year than it takes to keep 10 Blue Angel squadrons flying, lets find the money there.

  9. Tom says:

    > “I agree with everything you say and GW Bush did help turn the US from a
    > country in surplus to one of biggest debtor…”

    Bush added $4T in debt in 8 years, President Obama added $6T going on $7T in a little over four. I’d also say: Congress controls the purse strings, they are equally at blame here.

    Most of all: as long as U.S. voters keep voting these idiots into office, we deserve what we get.

  10. Todd Frohwirth says:

    “as long as U.S. voters keep voting these idiots into office, we deserve what we get.”

    A common sentiment, but these “idiots” are first screened by wealthy backers on both sides before “U.S. voters” get the illusion of choosing between them. Not coincidentally, our government’s priorities are in the same order.

  11. Tom says:

    > “A common sentiment, but these “idiots” are first screened by wealthy
    > backers…”

    The primary process does give voters choices but I agree our choices are limited by those big money individuals (through Political Action Committees) and corporations.

    With the internet and social media, we could have an out-of-left-field “people’s candidate” but it seems a lot of intelligent people, who may actually have the ability to solve problems and be good leaders, don’t want to run in the current political climate.

    We’re left with political hacks and very rarely, do we get leaders.

    All that said, I do think the national debt and looming unfunded liabilities (social security et al) will force leadership to emerge, or a second revolution to unfold.

  12. Todd Frohwirth says:

    Not to derail the thread, but the debt is very much under control now. SS/Medicare/Medicaid would be fine if US health costs were anywhere near the norm for other Western countries. The choice between ‘slash the safety net’ vs. ‘slash government workers/military’ is a false one, yet it continues to be the defining narrative. The only “unthinkable” option in this reality is increased revenue, which would come from the same narrow wealthy class that handpicks our politicians in the first place. Citizens United is a good place to start reversing that trend.

  13. nico says:

    Well guys, I don’t about Ty but I am happy to see that so far the comments have been pretty good and reasonable. I have seen comments on other site about this topic and some of the non sense written was beyond normal comprehension.

    As far as I am concerned, I think most of the problems facing this country are fixable if we agree that tough choices have to be made. No more pet projects, no more “job creation” programs that have become sacred cows, nothing is off the table,IMO. When it comes to defense which is the subject I know best and I think most of us here know the best, we need to be real about what we can buy, what is really needed and what is nice to have one day but forget about it right now. We also need a huge BRAC and a surgical cut in number of troops and especially higher ranks.

  14. Stephan Swift says:

    Ty, I often share your bewilderment with the system but I have noticed a recurring anti-Lockmart thread to a lot of your postings. Is there a reason or are they just the highest profile at the moment? F35, F22, LCS etc? Like Nike and sweat shops or Apple and China factories… low hanging fruit? Not picking a fight just wondering of there is a reason.

  15. aerodawg says:

    @Todd, What a big bunch of crapola. The Euros have done basically everything you’re asking for and they’re rapidly going down the tubes. Example #1 is the French. They’re on the downhill slope to a debt/currency crisis in line with the Greeks and all their recent heaping helping of soak the rich socialism has done is make the problem worse.

  16. aerodawg says:

    And to say the US debt is under control is laughable. That’s only marginally approaching true IF you ignore the outstanding liabilities we have. A lot of policy wonk nitwits like to hem and haw and claim we don’t actually owe that money, that it’s only a political promise. If you believe that, go talk to a Baby Boomer a few years from retirement and ask them if they’re owed that money. Just see what kind of reaction you get. Depending on which numbers you believe, our total outstanding, unfunded liabilities in SS/Medicare over the next 50 years are between $50 trillion and $100 trillion.

  17. kikl says:

    “How can they even explain such clearly insolvent plans? I mean I see posts about the Super Hornet’s replacement, the F/A-XX, really what the F-35 should have been, and I just laugh sadly. What planet are these guys even living on? We cannot afford the decades old hodgepodge of aircraft we have now yet alone a sea of F-35s, yet alone a sixth generation super-duper fighter! Am I missing something here?”

    I think the navy has figured out that the F-35 is no good. Consequently, they are looking for a replacement for the F-35C before the F-35C is even operational. The F/A-XX is going to be that plane. In the meantime, the Super Hornet F/A-18 will do.

    Military procurement is broke in the US. That’s for sure. The military industrial complex is controlling politics and not vice versa. Instead of designing a completely new aircraft, novel versions of the super hornet should be developed for a fraction of the price.

  18. nico says:

    @KiKL. I think you are right about USN. They seem pretty lukewarm about JSF at best and they really are the service that needs it the least. All the other services need to replace their jets and they don’t have anything on the production line now, not the case of USN. Hornet to Super Hornet program was executed “relatively” well, it is pretty much on time and budget now after initial development problems and still has some nice potential growth. GE can squeeze at least another 10 to 15% more power out of -414 without too much trouble, all electronics and radar are good and competitive, Boeing has proposed an aerodynamic clean up with some more, newer LO features and the beauty of this program would be it’s affordable, nice regular spiral development, you wouldn’t need everything at once, (kind of like a Russian program more than a US program), you could more than likely retrofit parts of it to the regular SHornets, spares parts and maintenance are well known and costs are well understood, same pilot training,etc…plus if USN cancels JSF, with lack of money of Us Govt, I think it is time to tell Marine Corps that if they want their own private air force, they need to make some sacrifices and ditch STOL, then Advanced SH has a nice and predictable production run…

    ADV SHornet should remain competitive long enough for USN to develop FXX to provide superior A2A and “kick down the door” A2G.

  19. Mitchell Fuller says:

    After reading Ty’s article. Some thoughts on current state of DOD and procurement:

    1. DOD policy / needs to be changed regarding project managers who are in uniform. They must sign agreement they will not work for contractor (and or subsidiaries) after service. That connection needs to be broken.

    2. All new projects must have demonstrators and these demonstrators fully wrung out before initial production can be authorized. This concurrency thing is stupid and very costly re F 35.

    3. Cancel F 35 program and modernize existing platforms. Even quality needs quantity re attrition.

    4. Build up this quantity in AF Reserve and ANG. These guys are lifers and cost less then regular AF and can be called up when needed. Not to mention, now have tremendous amount of experience.

    5. Turn CAS and tactical airlift over to Army. AF’s heart has not been in either from the start. Transfer A-10s to USA, USAR, and NG. Acquire Super Tucano or equivalent proven platform in sizable numbers (300+) to handle low level conflicts. Transfer C 27J to USA and acquire more for tactical airlift role.

    6. Have a come to Jesus with Marine Corp re programs and their costs, V 22 (cancel and continue to use Phrog, bring retired fleet up to most current Phrog standard, use Phrog until Sikorsky pusher concept becomes mature), F 35B (most expensive variant to buy and maintain. Cancel and continue to use Harrier and initiate upgrades to engine and use British airframes for filling in numbers), EFV (wow, cancelled bc it was going to break their budget and didn’t reliable work), Growler ( cancel bc V22 cancelled. BTW, at $220k a unit that’s a lot of money for a glorified dune buggy which offers the crew no small arms or IED protection), 1911 45 (cancel due to high cost of program and buy Glock 45s, less money per unit and they hold more rounds).

    Bring Bronco back or acquire Super Tucano as lower cost CAS platform for low level conflicts. These platforms could be flown by USMCR units.

    7. Cut Generals and Admirals ranks by 50% through retirement. Service branches are bloated at the top and need to be streamlined.

    8. Navy, cancel LCS and hold your contractors to account re cost and quality on future projects.

    9. Army, get your house in order regarding land warfare systems that though billions are spent and years wasted nothing comes of programs.

  20. Amicus Curiae says:

    @Mitchell: Cancel, cancel, cancel…seems like an over reaction to frustration. I have a wished plan too: Strict accountability. You break it, you own it. All those unsuccessful programs you want to cancel have associated names in bad decision boxes. Take names and kick a$$.

  21. Conquistador3 says:

    I don’t know about you but this reminds me a lot of the whole Washington Monument fiasco. Remember that? No? Then let me refresh your memory.
    As you all know, the Washington Monument is run by the National Park Service. In the ’60s (don’t ask me the year because I don’t remember it, the marvels of aging!) Senate voted for a much smaller budget increase for the NPS than requested. How did NPS react? They shut down the Washington Monument and affixed a sign saying that due to “budget cuts” they had no money to run it and other historical landmarks, such as Yellowstone, could be next.
    People came to Washington DC, read the sign, went back home and wrote their Senators in protest. End result: the NPS got all the money they wanted and a bit more.

    You shouldn’t be surprised the USAF has grounded the Thunderbirds while at the same time B2’s are sent to Korea. The Thunderbirds are like the Washington Monument: they are a highly visible national icon. The same applies to the fighter squadrons being grounded while KC135’s and C17’s continue burning precious airframe hours to support the French in Mali: the fighter squadrons are highly visible presences in the American skies. Rest assured people are writing to their Senators and Representatives right now to let them know how they feel.

    I suspect the US military is enacting the same tactics as the NPS. The big problem is they face fierce competition (from other branches of the government wanting to maintain the past levels of spending) so they have to make more noise to get what they want.
    And what they want is not an effective air force or navy. What they want is those weapon programs we criticize so hard, like the LCS and the F35. Why? Because too many people (both civilian and military) have staked too many chips on them. The F35 is particularly critical because so much has been invested in it. Imagine having to tell the British the F35’s they have been expecting to plug a huge gap in their capabilities won’t be forthcoming. It already happened with the Skybolt: luckily the British accepted the Polaris SLBM as a replacement. What can the US offer in lieu of the F35?

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