Public Scolding of AirForce by Defense Chief

Scotth

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Really don't know what to make of this public airing of issues he is having with the Air force?

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/04/21/gates.air.force.ap/index.html

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday the Air Force is not doing enough to help in the Iraq and Afghanistan war effort, complaining that some military leaders are "stuck in old ways of doing business."

Gates said in a speech at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, that getting the Air Force to send more surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to Iraq and Afghanistan has been "like pulling teeth."

Addressing officer students at the Air Force's Air University, the Pentagon chief praised the Air Force for its overall contributions but made a point of urging it to do more and to undertake new and creative ways of thinking about helping the war effort instead of focusing mainly on future threats.

"In my view we can do and we should do more to meet the needs of men and women fighting in the current conflicts while their outcome may still be in doubt," he said. "My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield."

He cited the example of drone aircraft that can watch, hunt and sometimes kill insurgents without risking the life of a pilot. He said the number of such aircraft has grown 25-fold since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

He said he has been trying for months to get the Air Force to send more surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, like the Predator drone that provides real-time surveillance video, to the battlefield.

"Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it's been like pulling teeth," Gates said. "While we've doubled this capability in recent months, it is still not good enough."

To push the issue harder, Gates said he established last week a Pentagon-wide task force "to work this problem in the weeks to come, to find more innovative and bold ways to help those whose lives are on the line."

He likened the urgency of the task force's work to that of a similar organization he created last year to push for faster production and deployment of mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicles that have been credited with saving lives of troops facing attacks by roadside bombs in Iraq.

"All this may require rethinking long-standing service assumptions and priorities about which missions require certified pilots and which do not," Gates said, referring to so-called unmanned aerial vehicles that are controlled by servicemembers at ground stations.

The military's reliance on unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft has soared to more than 500,000 hours in the air, largely in Iraq, according to Pentagon data. The Air Force has taken pilots out of the air and shifted them to remote flying duty to meet part of the demand.

Gates, who served in the Air Force in the 1960s as a young officer before he joined the Central Intelligence Agency, urged the officers in his audience to dedicate themselves to thinking creatively.

"I'm asking you to be part of the solution and part of the future," he said.

Gates made no direct mention of a series of mistakes and missteps involving the Air Force in recent months, beginning with an episode last August when a B-52 bomber flew from an Air Force base in North Dakota to another in Louisiana with the crew unaware that it was carrying nuclear weapons.

Last month Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne announced that four Air Force nose cone assemblies designed for use with nuclear missiles were mistakenly shipped to Taiwan in 2006. The error was not verified until shortly before Wynne made the announcement, and the matter is under Pentagon investigation.
 

Ravage

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Gates Criticizes Air Force for Insufficient Intel in Iraq

Gates Criticizes Air Force for Insufficient Intel in Iraq

By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 21, 2008; 2:44 PM

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates chided the U.S. armed forces today for not providing enough intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance help to troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying it has been "like pulling teeth" to get the services to change old habits.

Addressing student officers from the U.S. and foreign air forces at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama, Gates expressed frustration with conventional military thinking that he said has been slow to adapt to current threats. He suggested that the U.S. Air Force has not moved fast enough to meet a need for unmanned aircraft, which often can hunt and target enemies more efficiently than piloted planes.

The speech, delivered at Air University on the base, before an audience that included more than 100 students from the air forces of allied nations, appeared aimed at challenging young officers to become more innovative thinkers.

"The challenge that I pose to you today is to become a forward-thinking officer who helps the Air Force adapt to a constantly changing strategic environment characterized by persistent conflict," he said.

Although he praised the U.S. Air Force's contributions to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the defense chief made it clear that more needs to be done. A case in point, he said, is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, as the pilotless drones are known. When he was director of the CIA in 1992, Gates recalled, "the Air Force would not co-fund with CIA a vehicle without a pilot," even though it was a "far less risky and far more versatile means of gathering data."

Saying that drones cost much less and can spend more time in the air than piloted planes, Gates called UAVs "ideal for many of today's tasks" and noted that the United States now has more than 5,000 of them, a 25-fold increase since 2001.

"But in my view, we can do and we should do more to meet the needs of men and women fighting in the current conflicts while their outcome may still be in doubt," Gates said. "My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield. I've been wrestling for months to get more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets into the theater. Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it's been like pulling teeth."

The Pentagon chief, himself a former Air Force officer in the late 1960s, added: "While we've doubled this capability in recent months, it is still not good enough. And so last week I established a Department of Defense-wide task force . . . to work this problem in the weeks to come, to find more innovative and bold ways to help those whose lives are on the line."

He said the task force is working on a "very short" deadline and is similar to one he created last year to promote the rapid production and deployment of mine-resistant armored vehicles, which have proven effective against roadside bombs.

Gates wants ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to better informed about the location of enemy fighters and the threat they pose -- information that sometimes can be provided by aerial surveillance. He also indicated that he wants the Air Force to come up with ways it can contribute to political-military operations.

The service needs to be able to operate in "that gray zone between war and peace," Gates said.

"An unconventional era of warfare requires unconventional thinkers," he told the student officers. "That is because this era's range of security challenges -- from global terrorism to ethnic conflicts, from rogue nations to rising powers -- cannot be overcome by traditional military means alone. Conflict will be fundamentally political in nature and will require the integration of all elements of national power."

Gates predicted that the Air Force "will be increasingly called upon to conduct civil-military or humanitarian operations" with civilian partners and to "deal directly with local populations." Such missions, he said, will require "foreign language and cultural expertise."

For the Air Force, adapting to battlefield realities "may require rethinking long-standing service assumptions and priorities about which missions require certified pilots and which do not," Gates said. "For those missions that still require manned missions, we need to think hard about whether we have the right platforms -- whether, for example, low-cost, low-tech alternatives exist to do basic reconnaissance and close air support in an environment where we have total control of the skies -- aircraft that our partners also can afford."

He concluded, "For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism" and become more creative thinkers.

Air Force Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz, the commander of Air University, thanked Gates "for those thought-provoking remarks."

In a question-and-answer session following his speech, Gates said he intends to talk about a related subject later today: dissent within military ranks. "Dissent is a sign of health in an organization, and particularly if it's done in the right way and respectfully and so on," he said.

"But people who dissent, who take a different view . . . are always at risk in their careers," he said, adding that "the biggest challenge for out-of-the-box thinking is the wisdom of the senior leader who sees the value of that kind of thinking and protects it and the people who do it."

Gates also expressed concern about a proliferation of retired senior military officers who have signed up as advisers to presidential candidates or as media experts. In response to a question, he said he worries that distinctions between active-duty and retired officers "tend to get blurred" and that the public often does not know "whether they're speaking for the institution or for themselves."

"And so if I had one request to all of them, it would be in whatever role they're playing that they make clear that they're not speaking for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, or the Marines Corps, or the Department of Defense, but only speaking for themselves," Gates said. He did not identify any advisers or commentators by name.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dy...04/21/AR2008042100950.html?hpid=moreheadlines
 

AWP

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The AF refuses to believe they are at war at times. They also forgot that the last protracted war (Vietnam) took a heavy toll on men and equipment. Today I hear AF leaders making speeches about the GWOT's toll on men and equipment.

I'm not going to touch the ISR mission over there as it is classified. I do however find it interesting that the problem is "bad" enough to bring into the press' eye. I rather thought if you fired a general or two or twenty (as is the SECDEF's right) then the problem would sort itself out and the press wouldn't need to be involved.

The fighter pilot mafia needs to be fired. ACC is the devil and I would bet a 100 bucks the root of this supposed evil.

I guess I'm the only one seeing the irony of fielding the F-22 while we fight men that live in caves.....
 

DA SWO

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The AF refuses to believe they are at war at times. They also forgot that the last protracted war (Vietnam) took a heavy toll on men and equipment. Today I hear AF leaders making speeches about the GWOT's toll on men and equipment.

I'm not going to touch the ISR mission over there as it is classified. I do however find it interesting that the problem is "bad" enough to bring into the press' eye. I rather thought if you fired a general or two or twenty (as is the SECDEF's right) then the problem would sort itself out and the press wouldn't need to be involved.

The fighter pilot mafia needs to be fired. ACC is the devil and I would bet a 100 bucks the root of this supposed evil.

I guess I'm the only one seeing the irony of fielding the F-22 while we fight men that live in caves.....


Agree, but ISR/UAV funding was kept low during the Clinton era, and initial Rummy budgets, not sexy enough, and no big $$$ defense contracts.

Maybe SecDef can tell us to stop throwing Lt's out and make them UAV drivers instead?
 

AWP

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Don't need officers to fly UAVs. At least the Army doesn't.


That's because the enlisted are inferior human beings without a college degree and special selection process to make them officers.

(The above is dry sarcasm.)
 

car

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Don't need officers to fly UAVs. At least the Army doesn't.

When they did the final acceptance test for the first UAV, (reportedly) MG Menoher put his hand on a PFC's shoulder, and said, "No pressure, PFC xxxx. Just don't make a black spot in the desert."

At least that's what he told my ANCOC class. :uhh:
 

Scotth

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I'm not going to touch the ISR mission over there as it is classified. I do however find it interesting that the problem is "bad" enough to bring into the press' eye. I rather thought if you fired a general or two or twenty (as is the SECDEF's right) then the problem would sort itself out and the press wouldn't need to be involved.

My point exactly. I don't know what he intended to accomplish? It leaves me feeling more like he is not the right guy to be Sec of Defense than I'm worried about the Air Force being a problem.
 

AWP

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Scott, the only thing I can think is that we've forgotten how to handle a problem without the media's involvement. Sad....
 

Paddlefoot

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The Air Force, like any of the branches, is an entrenched bureaucracy that knows SecDefs come and go, but the bureaucracy lives on.

Do we need to be fielding more UAVs now and in the future? Absolutely, but until you breed a generation of officers that aren't tied into the old ways of doing things, you're going to run into resistance at the highest levels.

Not to mention that UAVs, while high tech, don't have the cachet that a 200 million dollar fighter does. And the defense industry and their supporters in Congress will do whatever they can to block Gates initiatives, if they think it will result in loss of funding for the projects they propose and the industries in their districts that benefit.
 

BonannoQbano

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I found this from 2006 article in MTimes...So does this meaning funding for UAVs are out but only used on certain sides

Unmanned Aircraft: IED Hunters?
InsideDefense.com NewsStand | May 13, 2006
The Defense Department is eying new types of unmanned aerial vehicles as it seeks to bolster U.S. Special Operations Command's tool set for fighting the war on terror, a senior Pentagon official says.

“I think you'll see smaller UAVs with a greater loiter time, I think you may see UAVs launched from other aerial platforms, I think you may see expendable UAVs,” Thomas O'Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, told Inside the Air Force May 5 at the Pentagon . “I mean 20 years ago, would you have thought you could have made a high-quality camera that was economically disposable?”

He added smaller, more capable flying unmanned platforms, along with a multitude of future precision air-to-ground weapon systems, could theoretically be launched from conventional airlift platforms “that we hadn't thought about before,” like the military's workhorse C-130 fleet.

“Packages could be inserted into conventional airframes, that let's say through an opening through the tailgate, [we] might be able to deliver a programmable or guidance-capable [unmanned] system that we hadn't even thought about,” O'Connell said.

Additionally, the senior Pentagon official added that existing UAVs, such as the Predator and Global Hawk, could increasingly be used by U.S. commanders in places like Iraq as deterrents against lethal improvised explosive devices.

“I think there is some significant utility in persistent UAVs to be used in the IED environment,” O'Connell told ITAF. He added SOCOM already is conducting assessments of how existing unmanned platforms could be used in anti-IED missions. He declined to comment on the specifics of that ongoing analysis.

In an April 5 e-mail to ITAF, Maj. Ken Hoffman, a SOCOM spokesman, said Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has drafted a new concept of operations that outlines the use of existing UAVs in support of special operations forces (ITAF, April 14, p13). Formulation of that classified document coincides with the AFSOC's efforts to stand up its first Predator squadron.

In its fiscal year 2007 budget request, the Air Force requested $349 million for AFSOC's Predator development and acquisition plans, including procurement funds for 24 Predator A-models between fiscal years 2008 and 2009. Those newly-minted UAVs will compose the planned AFSOC squadron, according to service officials.

Collectively, SOCOM has 395 unmanned vehicles currently positioned around the globe, with that fleet consisting mostly of short- to mid-range variants of several unmanned aircraft models.

While establishing a Predator squadron within the special operations command's aerial component would increase SOCOM's overall persistent ISR in the skies, O'Connell also said officials are eying other aircraft -- such as F-16s or AC-130s -- that could take on a greater ISR role.

“You do notice how much the Air Force looks continually to upgrade how much of [an ISR] collector each platform can be,” the assistant defense secretary told ITAF. While not wanting to speak on behalf of the service, he added that “many people have looked at all our sensors and what they can collect” in terms of a platform's position, “even if they are not a primary member of the network.”

Further, O'Connell added that SOCOM officials might explore the possibility of employing a single, common airframe to conduct a handful of special operations missions. Platforms such as the Spartan C-27J and several other aircraft are candidates for roles in the kinds of smaller-scale, clandestine, counter-insurgency missions that SOCOM is often assigned.

“There are models out there, like the C-27J and others that I probably don't even know about,” the senior Pentagon official said. “But that might provide some downsizing capability.”

O'Connell opined that moving to an approach where one airframe would perform specific missions is merely one SOCOM officials are mulling as they attempt to revamp the command's aging aircraft fleet.

“Five years ago, we did not -- we could not -- envision what the demands on our airframes would really be,” he told ITAF. “ I don't know if we're any smarter looking out over the next five years. But we can apply our best thought and reasoning. . . and look to see if there are reasonable, capable alternatives out there.”
 

car

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There's a good article in the latest "Men's Journal" (the one with Woody Harrelson - the fruit bat - on the cover) on the AF wing in Nevada that does the UAS thing. It's clearly an AF PAO op, but informative.
 

AWP

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When they crash behind enemy lines the PJs will change there mind.

The PJ community has a history of fighting the very people they could someday rescue. NOT a fault of the PJs, but of the fighter mafia in the AF that believes the only people that matter are fighter pilots and everyone else is a second-class citizen.

The AF has a world class SOF capability despite their best efforts to torpedo it.
 
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