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Officer Rot in the Unites States Air Force

Posted by admin on August 25, 2008

Here’s an interesting read we found recently posted on Robert Avrech’s web site. Apparently, it’s from a current, active duty Air Force officer. That makes it all the more interesting. It’s pretty easy to sit on the outside of a military service and carp about these kinds of issues. It’s equally easy to question this writer’s angle. But, as he mentions here, careerism is an age old problem in the military and when it happens, someone needs to point it out. I think some time ago a guy named Billy Mitchell did just that. Well, maybe it’s back.

First I'd like to thank Robert for the opportunity to scribble on his page. When you have a writer as accomplished as Robert asking you to fill space on his website... well, that's quite an honor. I'll do my best not to wreck the place.
Robert and I frequently talk military. And as I'm sure you readers already know, Robert is no slouch when it comes to the art of war. Though I grew up a Navy brat, got my degree in military history from an Army college, serve in the USAF, and generally think I know it all, Robert's knowledge frequently humbles me.
Which is why I'm grateful for the opportunity to relay this extension of a chat we had on the general state of things in the USAF.
—A U.S. Air Force Officer

Marshall's Men*

First, a little history lesson on one of the towering figures of the 20th Century, General George C. Marshall.

General George C. Marshall (1880 – 1959). Churchill dubbed Marshall “the organizer of victory”. In truth, Marshall made the ally victory inevitable before the war by ridding the army of officers who were wedded to static World War I tactics, and replacing them with officers who understood that the next war would be fast-paced, mobile, and highly mechanized.

You see, it wasn't Patton's tanks or Hap Arnold's bombers or Nimitz's Navy that won World War II. It was a commandant at the Fort Benning Infantry school in the 1930s, then Lt. Col. Marshall, who won the war before it even started.
The US Army in the 1930s was in a sad state of affairs (though the depression was raging, and everything was in a sad state of affairs). But the Army's plague transcended supply issues. After World War I, careerism started to take its heavy toll on the force. Generals advanced cronies who walked like them, talked like them, and thought like them. Those men in turn advanced subordinates who fit their image and likeness, and so the process went.


Posted by Crank on
“Officer Rot in the US Air Force”- probably the most important thing you guys have ever posted on the FPU. Sad but truer words have never been spoken. I admire the courage of the anonymous fighter pilot, “US Air Force Officer”, in posting it. He’s the kind of FP I would have wanted on my wing, but unless I miss my guess, his career is probably toast by now.

Maybe some of you are familiar with a past case from some years ago in which another “anonymous” fighter pilot posted on the net a similar piece that excoriated the granite brained thinking of our then “careerist” senior leadership (puke!) in TAC responsible for the bankrupt ideas driving fighter doctrine, training and fighter procurement that held that “the merge” would never happen again and that future fighter pilots had only to have brains capable of computer like processing in order to “play the piccolo” to be able to ID, lock-up, track, and engage 20 bandits simultaneously at BVR ranges of 100 miles plus with .18 PK missiles at Mach 3 in level flight never exceeding 30 degrees of bank. That “anonymous” fighter pilot made the mistake of dropping a few hints to establish his credentials about being an asst opso with time in several different fighters and two SEA tours which was just enough for one of our then rock brained, pathetic senior leaders to task a hqs personnel type E-9 to cull thru mountains of personnel records to identify him.

Needless to say, he was crucified and never flew another AF fighter again. Keep up the good work!

PS (Just in case you’re wondering, my own FP credentials include time in F-4s, A1Hs in SEA, and just enough time in the F-15 to decide that I never wanted to become proficient in playing a piccolo!)
Posted by Skipper on
Good job. I recall an entire wing down day because a guy got killed (hit by lightening out of a clear blue sky) while putting up a TV antenna on his Mom's house. Seems the Wing King thought we had to have serious discussion about accident prevention, like lightening out of clear blue skies. Same guy that said a friend of mine, now in a VA hospital for the rest of his life, thought being an IP wasn't serious and didn't have his mind on his work when the bird went down his intake and he crashed. Same Colonel that's now a 4 star and a MAJCOM commander -- at least he finally made Command Pilot.

Boyd was right, there should be more people concerned with "doing" as opposed to "being".
Posted by NeilGillespielCretired on
I'm a retired Cdn fighter pilot, T33, F86, F104. In speaking of Airforces I comment referring to your USAF comments. In speaking well of the Warthog you have my support - It's a machine that was built and further modified to excel at air to ground with a modicum of survivability. The high speed air fighters are lousy in survivability and accuracy in most A/G scenarios. I've been there.
The A/G machines might need some protection from enemy fighters over and above the A10's survivabilty in the maws of ground gun barrels and SAMs. The fast movers can also interdict or assist in interdicting the enemy far behind the FEBA, by far the fast movers' contribution to the ground battle, WHICH MUST BE THEIR MOTIVATION AND STOCK IN TRADE. The Army boots on the ground will finish off the job with the assistance of other military organizations, Navy included. Fast movers are not prima donnas as you imply, but without them no battle would go well. NG
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