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A-10: Not Dead Yet


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Unknown. Depends on the degree the F-16s or A-10s would be committed and the amount of time on the airframes and their eventual disposal. But the amount saved now by retirement is a known fact. I believe the USAF was also considering retiring a number of F-16s...which would allow for some airframes to have lower mileage and potentially be available for reactivation.

 

What future conflicts will employ the A-10 in a useful manner in meaningful numbers? Also unknown. It looks like at least a few are going to be used right now, but I suspect that is more because they are in inventory and might as well be used, since there seems to be a huge amount of support for keeping them that way, rather than the fact that they have any special skill set that is specifically helpful to the current situation. Rather, the fact that they still are lying around and there is no AD in Iraq and parts of Syria seems to *allow* the A-10 to be deployed. In fact I'd be willing to bet they end up staying well away from most of Syria in actual use.

 

In this case, the A-10 is an expedient solution to a limited subset of emerging problems which weren't supposed to be occurring at this stage of the game, both USAF Fleet Management Problems (USAF-FMPs) which have their roots in severe F-35 cost and schedule overruns, and also by Middle East: Yet Another War Problems (ME-YAWPs) which have their roots in the politically-driven decision made in 2011 to leave Iraq without having been succesful in rebuilding the bulwark against Iran that was taken down in the 2003 US invasion. (Such are the varied and complex reasons why some number of A-10s might be flying until 2020 or beyond. Life is funny, no denying it.)

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The political decision to leave Iraq was made in 2004, not 2011, Scott. Why is our corporate memory so short in USAia?

 

Bulwark against Iran? Not our job. See Gulf Cooperative Council.

 

The A-10 deployment may amount to just another way to squeeze something out of the Air Guard before that squadron has to stand down for new aircraft. It is frequently that simple.

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The political decision to leave Iraq was made in 2004, not 2011, Scott. Why is our corporate memory so short in USAia?

 

Bulwark against Iran? Not our job. See Gulf Cooperative Council.

 

The A-10 deployment may amount to just another way to squeeze something out of the Air Guard before that squadron has to stand down for new aircraft. It is frequently that simple.

 

When President Obama became President in 2009, he and his administration took ownership of the situation in Iraq. Throughout the winter, spring, and summer of 2011, the senior US military leadership recommended that some number of American troops remain in Iraq beyond 2011. The presence of these troops was the only leverage the Obama Administration would have had in preventing al-Maliki from continuing with his efforts at purging Sunni and Kurd leaders from the Iraqi military and from the Iraqi government. Most of Iraq's politicians quietly supported keeping American troops in their country past 2011, but would not say so publicly. The White House national security staff was completely opposed to keeping US troops in Iraq beyond 2011, regardless of the arguments made by America's senior military leadership at the time, and so the White House NSS staff made certain that truly serious negotiations concerning the SOFA agreement were not pursued.

 

Over on Commander Salamander, there is an active thread concerning the topic of when it is, or it is not, appropriate for a senior military officer to resign if he or she has a severe disagreement with the civilian leadership over important military policy decisions. A lot is said over there on that thread which bears on whether or not it makes any sense to keep the A-10 in service and to send some of them to iraq.

 

When Do Leaders Take the McMaster Option?

 

Here is a segment of a conversation between myself and "Jon", a US military veteran who spent a good deal of time in Iraq and Afghanistan training their respective indigenous forces.

 

 

Jon:

Where do you start the resignation line? We're here today because of a long list of bad decisions by the POTUS, which bad decision is the one Dempsey should have stood up and threatened to resign over? Where does principled stand end, and political blackmail begin? As an officer, when you're handed a bag of lemons, do you make lemonade, or hand them to the next guy in line? Where does principled stand end, and moral cowardice begin? I don't know.

 

"No boots" is political BS, there's already boots on the ground and everyone knows it, and knows there will be more. Is it that bad of a decision considering the realities on the ground, and the political environment? Stick 3 divisions in at great expense, smoke ISIS fast, and what then? You've still got a sizable chunk of Iraq de facto occupied by Iran. The Iraq is still splintered. Syria is still splintered. And there will always be the next AQ/ISIS/whatever to deal with.

 

WTF are we doing in Iraq? What's the (realistic, possible) desired end state now? Has anyone, Dempsey, POTUS, or otherwise ever spelled it out?

 

"No boots" isn't a strategy. "Kill ISIS" isn't a strategy. Do we even have a strategy? Other than a years long bombing campaign lasting till Obama is safely out of office?

 

Scott Brim:

Jon, let's take a look back to 1964 and the policy options which the US faced in Vietnam fifty years ago.

 

In 1964, the US Navy and the US Air Force senior leadership were jointly recommending two clearly enunciated policy options for Vietnam: (1) Use enough air forces, enough ground forces, and enough naval forces to achieve a quick and decisive victory over North Vietnam; OR (2) Disengage from the conflict and leave South Vietnam to its fate.

 

In contrast, the US Army senior leadership -- a group of senior officers led by General Maxwell Taylor -- recommended a third option, the gradual build up of American forces in Vietnam with the objective of raising the price the North Vietnamese had to pay for conquering South Vietnam. The underlying argument for gradual escalation was that there was significant risk that if the US attempted to achieve a quick decisive victory in Vietnam, China would enter the conflict and the war would then widen considerably, even possibly escalating into a nuclear confrontation.

 

This kind of thinking was a fundamental component of the doctrine of Flexible Response which Maxwell Taylor and the US Army had been pushing since the end of the 1950s and which was strongly supported by "The Best and The Brightest" of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. That's what was done starting in 1965, with the historical results we all know so well.

 

The equivalent options today for confronting ISIS are as follows:

 

Option (1): Do whatever is necessary to thoroughly defeat ISIS and to bring stability to Iraq and Syria, with the intention of recreating the regional bulwark against Iran that existed prior to the 2003 US invasion but which had not been successfully reestablished by the time the US left Iraq in 2011. This option by necessity must include nothing less than the complete occupation of large parts of Iraq and Syria, combined with a willingness to quickly and ruthlessly suppress any uncivilized behavior by non-state groups which might occur there.

 

Option (2): Stand back and watch what happens, leaving ISIS to go as far as the regional players will allow it to go, while accepting the inherent risks to American security which go with that decision, taking the appropriate mitigating actions as these affect Homeland Security.

 

Option (3): Use a policy of containment against ISIS, supporting the Kurds and the Shia just well enough to keep ISIS from over-running the traditional Kurdish and Shia areas of eastern Iraq, while letting ISIS consolidate its control over most of the areas it now occupies in southwestern Iraq and in northern and central Syria. This option likewise involves taking the appropriate mitigating actions as these affect Homeland Security.

 

As things stand today, Option (3) is the status quo default option; and regardless of what President Obama or the Republicans in Congress might say publicly about destroying ISIS, it is the defacto policy option which is now operative by common consensus, and is the one which will likely remain operative throughout the next two years of Obama's presidency, regardless of what kind of alternative advice might be offered by our senior military leaders.

 

Not to say that senior military officers shouldn't speak their minds as a matter of principle, but the hard reality of the situation is that the American public doesn't want much more to be done against ISIS than what is now being done.

 

I think it fairly likely that Hillary Clinton will be elected President in 2016. Ken, would you suppose that after she is elected, she will keep any of the A-10s that President Obama might send to Iraq in late 2014 or early 2015?

Edited by ScottBrim
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Well, ignoring the dumb ODS example above, I think you are still being too selective, Scott. The Bush Regime acknowledged cut n' run in 2005, with the hasty departure of Shogun J Paul Bremmer, and the US Army is still pissed about being shackled with an occupation for which it was not prepared nor funded properly. The stay behind element argued for by the army in Iraq would have left only trainers, a few SOF and a praetorian guard for the Taj Majal/white elephant of all US embassies then being built. It would take a regiment to secure that modern dump. But the Iraqi govt we so ostentatiously sponsored in 2005 was pro-Iranian and wanted us out, or at least stripped of immunity from Iraqi law, which we also see is the case in Afghanistan, where we are also exiting. We still need to guard our soldiers and marines who piss on enemy corpses or go berserk in the local villes. Again, we are not suited for this stuff.

 

The public wanted us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and by a fairly large margin. We have no mandate for empire.

 

Hillary's stance on the Iraq invasion and uncanny desire for the same in Syria may garner some votes, but it is also evidence that we simply do not learn, just as we still harbor the hope that surges work. No, what works is the steady and deadly occupation and policing effort that wears down the enemy such as practiced by the USMC and army in al Anbar province. The public likewise has no stomach for that and the troops don't need the constant redeployments to pull it off.

 

So, forget empire.

 

As for the A-10, even the USMC -- arguably the inventor of CAS -- has no apparent need for a CAS fighter and is continuing to neck down its fixed wing to a single F-35 airframe. Were Hillary to be elected in 2016, no certainty, it would do no more good to reactivate the A-10 than it was to revive the B-1 and 'Peacemaker[sic]' by St Ronald of Reagan. The B-1s continue to pass to the boneyard and the B-52 will soldier on to 2050. The M-X is but a fading memory.

 

Killing ISIS will prove similar to what the invasions of Afghanistan/Iraq ought to have been. Mere raids by much smaller forces aimed at destroying the offending elements in the region concerned, and withdrawing before the UN can declare that an occupied state exists. Libya may well be the prototype, and it obviously was not worth the bones of a single Philadelphian grenadier, let alone some State Dept weenies in a mock consulate/cover in Benghazi.

 

The local constabularies will not be able to stand up to fanatical Mad Mahdis, largely for tribal and cultural reasons. We will not be able to replace them, but can and ought to step in with a hammer from time to time, just to keep it more difficult for the mob.

Edited by Ken Estes
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.... The local constabularies will not be able to stand up to fanatical Mad Mahdis, largely for tribal and cultural reasons. We will not be able to replace them, but can and ought to step in with a hammer from time to time, just to keep it more difficult for the mob.

 

And here I thought the A-10 could be used as a key enabler for implementing our policies in the Middle East. (What were those again?)

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What exactly is being done to humiliate the Russians?

I wonder, do any of the Russians over on the Ukraine threads seem humiliated by events so far? MH17 was shot down. Was that part of the plan? How has that left things? The war has picked up hasn't it?

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What exactly is being done to humiliate the Russians?

 

I wonder, do any of the Russians over on the Ukraine threads seem humiliated by events so far? MH17 was shot down. Was that part of the plan? How has that left things? The war has picked up hasn't it?

 

I think its pretty evident that Putin was humiliated by the deft statesmanship of POTUS and the constantly changing "nuanced" verbiage of his spokesmen in the White House and State Department. Obviously he reacted the only way a humiliated Russian does, and that is to openly invade the Ukraine.

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From Robert M. Gates, Duty:

 

What I didn't tell the president [bush 43] was that I believed the relationship with Russia had been badly mismanaged after Bush 41 had left office in 1993. Getting Gorbachev to acquiesce to a unified Germany as a member of NATO had been a huge accomplishment. But moving so quickly after the collapse of the Soviet Union to incorporate so many of its formerly subjugated states into NATO was a mistake…. U.S. agreements with the Romanian and Bulgarian governments to rotate troops through bases in these countries was a needless provocation…. Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching. The roots of the Russian Empire trace back to Kiev in the ninth century, so that was an especially monumental provocation. Were the Europeans, much less the Americans, willing to send their sons and daughters to defend Ukraine and Georgia? Hardly. So NATO expansion was a political act, not a carefully considered military commitment, thus undermining the purpose of the alliance and recklessly ignoring what the Russians considered their own vital national interests. (pp157–58)

 

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Never understood why politicians getting their pensions often talk and write with so much sense, but in office acted and talked dumb. A case of very strong group think and pressure? Or the smart politicians are kicked out by the dumb ones who are without scruples? :unsure:

 

 

But that is getting pretty off topic. :D

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Sense is relative. In the rather similar words of John Mearsheimer:

 

Putin’s pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics. They tend to believe that the logic of realism holds little relevance in the twenty-first century and that Europe can be kept whole and free on the basis of such liberal principles as the rule of law, economic interdependence, and democracy.

 

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141769/john-j-mearsheimer/why-the-ukraine-crisis-is-the-wests-fault

 

Indeed, those loony liberals with their outlandish ideas of rule of law, economic interdependence and democracy. They should have listened to Mearsheimer in 1993 when he said encouraging Germany and other European states to develop a nuclear arsenal would be the best way for Europe to remain at peace, because otherwise Germany would be likely to try and conquer the continent again.

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From Robert M. Gates, Duty:

 

What I didn't tell the president [bush 43] was that I believed the relationship with Russia had been badly mismanaged after Bush 41 had left office in 1993. Getting Gorbachev to acquiesce to a unified Germany as a member of NATO had been a huge accomplishment. But moving so quickly after the collapse of the Soviet Union to incorporate so many of its formerly subjugated states into NATO was a mistake…. U.S. agreements with the Romanian and Bulgarian governments to rotate troops through bases in these countries was a needless provocation…. Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching. The roots of the Russian Empire trace back to Kiev in the ninth century, so that was an especially monumental provocation. Were the Europeans, much less the Americans, willing to send their sons and daughters to defend Ukraine and Georgia? Hardly. So NATO expansion was a political act, not a carefully considered military commitment, thus undermining the purpose of the alliance and recklessly ignoring what the Russians considered their own vital national interests. (pp157–58)

 

 

Typical cretinism of deference to thugs of leftists extraction by US diplomats that already cames from WW2, so the Ukraine and Georgia etc don't have national interests?

It is always amusing to how the narrative setting and debate framing changes to pure imperialist reasoning when Russia is part of a stuation. Suddenly the opinion of free countries that in every other situation would have been considered and the ethical position of liberty defer to imperial rights of Russia over neighbors.

The wants of Poland, Ukraine, etc don't matter. They don't even exist.

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It's the exact opposite Stuart. Modern warplanes are designed to be in service for insanely long periods of time. Their predecessors were never intended to and by and large (exception B-52G/H) didn't. Replacement cycles back in the 50s were of the order of 3-5 years. Now a new frontline fighter is expected to have a service life of 40. For the F-35 it could be over 50 years!

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-30/lockheed-f-35-fighter-estimate-increased-9-in-a-year-u-s-says.html

 

It seems highly unlikely that technological advances won't overtake the F-35 long before its airframe life expires.

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It's the exact opposite Stuart. Modern warplanes are designed to be in service for insanely long periods of time. Their predecessors were never intended to and by and large (exception B-52G/H) didn't. Replacement cycles back in the 50s were of the order of 3-5 years. Now a new frontline fighter is expected to have a service life of 40. For the F-35 it oculd be over 50 years!

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-03-30/lockheed-f-35-fighter-estimate-increased-9-in-a-year-u-s-says.html

 

It seems highly unlikely that technological advances won't overtake the F-35 long before its airframe life expires.

As a design, yes. But how long did any of the original block F15s or F16s last? Even the F18C seems progressively to be withdrawn in preference to the E and F. Assuming of course the F35 doesnt replace it in turn. Compare and contrast with how long some of the century series lasted. Or indeed, the EE Lightning. Those were new builds, they were in many cases original builds back in the early 60s. Ditto Shackleton and Nimrod.

 

The only way the F35 will last that long is if they keep building it. Which means they will as like withdraw early airframes early to justify replacement. As we saw with Harrier, single engine (which is what it really is) carrier aircraft suffer high attrition rates anyway, so as far as justification for continued production, they got it made.

 

There, that should get the debate going. :)

 

 

And how long did F-4A's, B-52A's, Valiant B.1, Lightning F.1A,

Buccaneer S.1 and Vulcan B.1 last in service?

 

In many cases less then a decade.

For the B-52, it was only when they got to the 7th itteration,

that they got an aircraft that "lasted forever".

 

 

What was/is the attrition level for A-4's, A-7's, F-8's, Super Etendard and so on,

compared with contempoary twin engine CATOBAR aircrafts?

 

My guess is that the Harrier suffers far more from being STOVL, then from having only one engine,

as the slightest damage or malfunction to the engine or nozzles,

should make recovery to a STOVL-carrier very, very hard, if not outright impossible.

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