Let’s Get Rid Of The Air Force
Yesterday the Obama administration announced some major cuts to defense spending. At the Washington Times Rich Stowell is complimentary of the proposal saying that a shift in power from the Army to the National Guard is a common sense re-alignment that should appeal to both sides of the debate.
While I’m supportive of the idea of re-alignment as a concept – I was calling for it back when Donald Rumsfeld was the Secretary of Defense – I’m not sure that a greater role for the National Guard is a good idea.
But conservatives should not have a knee-jerk response to these sort of proposals. Conservatives belly-aching about these cuts making us less safe is on the same intellectual level as liberals claiming that reform to entitlement programs would push grandmothers off cliffs. Our federal government is facing fiscal meltdown. Every single part of the government must take a haircut, and there’s plenty of bloat in defense spending to address.
Case in point, the Air Force. There is simply no reason why the Air Force needs to exist apart from the Army and Navy as a separate (and, frankly, redundant) bureaucratic entity. We need air power capability, no doubt about it, but the things the Air Force does are things that can be (and often are already) done by the Army and Navy and without the duplication in efforts.
The Air Force’s two primary missions are strategic bombing and resupply, but bombing makes little sense in the context of this modern era of warfare. Wars between nation states are a thing of the past. Our military is most focused on counter-insurgency wars, and the Air Force’s brand of airpower doesn’t fit in. General David Petraeus, generally recognized as the military’s foremost expert on counter-insurgency tactics, said that excessive use of airpower is a detriment in that sort of a war.
And to the extent that bombing is still a needed capability of our military, it is a capability that can be fulfilled by the Army and/or Navy.
As for resupply, there’s no reason to think that the Army and Navy can’t handle their own resupply.
But as Robert Farley wrote in this 2007 article, it’s not just that the Air Force’s time has come. It’s that the Air Force is a mistake that should never have been made in the first place.
Farley notes that the Air Force is most effective when acting in support of a ground mission being executed by the Army or Navy, and least effective when given its own independent missions. Given that reality, why not fold the Air Force into the Army/Navy permanently and save ourselves the cost of duplication at a time when our country desperately needs less cost?
It makes sense, and the right needs to make peace with this sort of common sense realignment that could make our military more effective even as it costs less.Tags: air force, army, deficits, Military, national debt, navy