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Archive for November 11th, 2016

Air Supremacy II: Re-learning Asymmetry

Posted by picard578 on November 11, 2016

This recalls my old post, but more detailed and better explained:
https://defenseissues.net/2013/10/12/symmetric-and-assymetric-counters/

War is all about counters and counter-counters. It is fought by people, not machines, and people will do everything to avoid being killed. As a result, any kind of attrition-based, symmetric warfare scenario is flawed. Training is paramount, to allow soldiers knowledge necessary to adapt to changing circumstances.

Leading Edge

[This is a continuation of a previous article in a series]

There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

b17 B-17 Flying Fortresses Over Germany in April 1945
(USAF Photo)

The founding fathers of military aviation had an uphill battle in advocating the value of airpower to their doubtful Army and Navy counterparts. Though their approaches (and successes) varied, all of these advocates shared a common underlying theme: airpower, operating in the third dimension, provides an asymmetric advantage in warfare. Almost a century later, have we forgotten this keystone principle?

Joint US doctrine defines asymmetric as “the application of dissimilar strategies, tactics, capabilities, and methods to circumvent or negate an opponent’s strengths while exploiting his weaknesses” (JP 3-15.1). Doctrine covers all types of warfare: nuclear warfare, conventional warfare, irregular warfare, and even hybrid warfare. Interestingly, the only references to asymmetric warfare…

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Inverting the Paradigm: The 21st Century High-Low Force

Posted by picard578 on November 11, 2016

US Air Force actually does everything to retire the A-10. One part of this is deliberate underutilization, forcing the F-15 and F-16 to do the work that the A-10 is far more suited for. As a result, USAF’s fast jet inventory has gotten worn out. As a result, A-10 pilots are not doing the job they are trained for, and fast jets pilots are doing the jobs they are insufficiently trained for. USAF is also eating itself alive, replacing the F-15 / YF-16 high-low mix with first the F-15 / F-16C high-medium mix and then the F-22 / F-35 ultra-high / high mix. Result of this is that USAF has to rely on very old machines, pilots that do not get anywhere close enough flying hours as they should, and a suboptimal force mix for either current or potential conflicts. Even in high-intensity conflicts, very high risk missions that may actually require stealth aircraft would be a minority; much would be taken up by the close air support, which again would require the A-10. And for COIN, even the A-10 is often an overkill – Embrear Tucano would be enough.

Leading Edge

[This is a continuation of Air Supremacy and Airpower Asymmetry]

1 F35 F-35s at Hill AFB in Utah
(USAF Photo, Paul Holcomb)

Today’s Air Force fleet structure is in the midst of an identity crisis, full of contradictions and built upon a multi-role fighter foundation. Despite this, the Air Force Future Operating Concept document categorizes its current force structure as a high-low mixture. It defines this mix as, “the intent to acquire a limited number of high-cost/high-capability platforms supplemented with many lower-cost/lower-capability platforms…to operate against adversaries that pose advanced threats to joint/multinational force efforts in any domain. To conduct follow-on sustained operations, or a sustained irregular warfare effort in a permissive or semi-permissive environment, AF forces primarily will use lower-cost/lower-capability assets.”

Today the F-16 comprises 50% of the USAF fighter/attack aircraft inventory (1,017 of 2,018 aircraft). At either extreme, the high-end of 187 F-22s is balanced almost equally with the 284…

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The 90% Solution, Some Guy Called ‘Pareto’ and Why the Best Fighter Pilots are Often Seen as the Laziest

Posted by picard578 on November 11, 2016

Leading Edge

getoutIt became apparent to me during my last tour that a lot of the effort that I put into my work was inefficient. I remember speaking to a senior officer whilst I was deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan with the US Army and she said – ‘you have to just get the work out of the door as complete as you can – aim for the 90% solution’.

In the military we have to be as efficient as possible because we work with taxpayer’s money and there is a lot of work to be done. The workload on some postings can be quite extreme and I have had tours that are no exception; I have worked genuine 12 to 16 hour days in my career for 5 days a week (or 7 days a week on ops, which, of course, is entirely to be expected). Now, I get that people in…

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