No Fly Zone? Really?

March 17, 2011

Get Ready For These...

Gaddafi and his craziness would have been ‘great’ mass-media news by itself, now he has to compete with the buzz from Japan – but it doesn’t cloud the irony of the UN resolution for enforcing a no fly zone.  Let me make a series of  points and then a series of comments and you can draw your own conclusions. 

To give away the punch-line, this is an ‘easy’ win where we can do ‘what is right’ without real repercussion, loss of life, or long-term fallout since everyone knows that Gaddafi is a whack-o.  Oh yeah, we’ll still get our oil tanker from the Saudis as well.

POINTS

1) A no fly zone means not only not letting the bad-guys fly around, but blowing up airfields and anti-aircraft batteries to protect the fighter planes that are flying the combat air patrols (CAP) to support the no fly zone.  That means air to ground offensive strikes.

2) France, Italy, and the UK are eager to directly support and engage in an enforcement campaign.

3) As of yet there has been little discussion about the U.S.’s direct involvement except to say that we have a seat at the table and are certainly part of the NATO planning.

4) Gaddafi, a self-agrandized despot of  a looney-toon, openly threatened hostilities now and in the future in the Mediterranean if the world imposed a no-fly zone on Libya.

5) The world has been deafeningly silent on protests in Bahrain and Yemen due to needed cooperation from the non-democratic despots there.

6) We had similar actions under Bill Clinton in Bosnia with air patrols and cruise missile strikes.

7)  Fighter pilot types would love nothing better than to have a no-fly zone.

COMMENTS

1) No one has a better military or equipment to wage an air war than the U.S.  We have tomahawk missiles, F-22s, B-2s, SEAD mission F-16CJs, and the experience with all this hardware in actual wars.  I find it hilarious that the French think they are up to the task and they probably want as little help as possible from the USofA.

2) We had a no-fly zone over Iraq as well for a very long time.  We got very little support the second time the US kicked Saddam’s ass because nations like France did not feel we were justified in intervention.  Why the change in heart?  Because Libya isn’t that far from France maybe?  Because this one is ‘easy’?  Both?  Its far more complicated that simple solidarity with the Libyan rebels – there are legitimately beleaguered revolutionaries all over the world that are ignored every day.  Why are the Libyans so different and special?

3) The world loves to hate the US, but when push comes to shove, we are the only ones with the hardware, know-how, and force projection capability to do the job right.  Why?  We are America.  We are too good to the rest of the world and we go unthanked for it, but god-forbid if we don’t kick someone’s ass when everyone thinks it should be.  The media doesn’t know it yet, but our NATO brethren desperately need our know-how and hardware.  We spend a lot of treasure and spill a lot of blood so that others don’t have to – largely because they don’t need to fight any more because we too willingly go do it for them as the world’s defacto policeman.  Now our allies and the ‘good guys’ of the world have grudgingly grown dependent upon our strength and just dominance.  This is what you get, responsibility to protect France get again – for at least the 3rd time now. (I especially enjoyed that one by they way)  What other nation has been the ’empire’ of the world and done it so benevolently?

4) This no-fly zone could be a slippery slope.  All it takes is one flight of Libyan migs to execute a reprisal attack against a French cruise-liner in the Mediterranean.  That  then greatly ups the ante for NATO to ask itself if it is going to live up to its charter and say that an attack on one is an attack on all.  Gaddafi is a crazy-man.  You’re wrong if you think he lacks the stones to do something like that.  Thomas Jefferson warned against foreign wars of entanglement for exact scenarios like the fictitious one above.  Look up the cause of WWI; a web of alliances is how it started and America had to eventually get drug in via alliances to end the damn thing too. 

5) We want Libya’s oil, but the country doesn’t make Saudi Arabia amounts of it.  Also, Gaddafi is unsavory and crazy.  The pro-democracy demonstrators in the other Arab countries are just as right and just in their cause, but the situation in those countries are much more complicated.  We NEED the autocratic ruler’s  support there because of their oil (Saudi Arabia being the clearest example). Our dependency on foreign oil is why we waste so many lives and $$ in that part of the world in the first place.  They know it and that is what protects them and keeps them loosely aligned with the West even though they don’t like us and refuse to move beyond a 10th century mentality in how they rule or look at the world.

6)  True to form, the West picks and chooses its battles.  Today, Libya is a worthy while Darfur is not.  Yesterday Bosnia was, but Somalia was not (and today you hear about the consequences of those actions in the news – pirates).  These guys could very well be thinking that this is a mini-Desert Shield type operation.  Of the lot looking at this no-fly zone, the US is the only player that has the ability and will to go it alone –  right or wrong.  You see that both in our introduction and pull-out of Somalia and our mounting successes in the new Iraq.  You saw it in defeat in Vietnam and the barest margin of victory in Korea.  All but the First Gulf War show that victory is never easy coalition or not.

7) Fighter pilots get to justify their existence and over-inflated egos if they shoot down some ancient Mig 19s using their AIM-9 air to air missiles from 20 miles away.  That’s not war, that’s  shooting fish in a barrel.

Don’t think that victory of this despot will be as easy as it could appear.  If Gaddafi is going down, he won’t go without a fight – he’s already shown that these past 2 weeks.  If anyone would have the audacity to lob a russian missile at Sicily, sink a french passenger liner, or attack an American cargo ship – it would be Colonel Gaddafi; certainly more so than Slobodon Milosevic or even Saddam Hussein himself.

Those men were evil, this guy is both evil and deranged.

– G.S.

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The New Manhattan Project – Part II

December 30, 2010

 

…continued from Part I, here.

Energy Independence

Fusion power has so much potential that we could have so much energy that  there would be no strain on the system’s supply to have electric car docking stations at every person’s house and place of work   They’re already paid for with the stimulus money ‘free’ of cost to the tax-payer.  How many people could you put to work over the coures of 10 years with that project in a country as large and developed as ours?  Gas stations would be paired (and eventually replaced) with rapid battery swap shops that take your cars standardized old battery that is drained and give you a freshly charged one.  Going back to the shah in Oman…100% of the money in your pocket is paying for your power from American sources because we invented the economy that the money all goes to. 

     100% of the money also means we are not dependent upon the shah for his oil anymore.  We don’t need him – we can run our economy on our own energy sources.   American sources mean dollars back into your community.  By not having to worry about a supply of oil, we are free to let the Middle East fight itself instead of us once again.  No more wars of foreign involvement.  Our soldiers aren’t there spilling their blood, we aren’t spending our treasure on waging war, and the radicals there get what they want by not having the US in their lands.  I say let them descend into a 9th century level of barbarism again.  Tell them we don’t need their oil and so they get what they want – the US to leave…and we would.  It’s not that easy though, I’m not naive liberal.  Realistically, that wouldn’t be good enough for the jihadists; they would still blame us for our past involvement and try to send more terrorists our way.  That is a solvable problem though, but not for today.  

  Carbon Reducing Green Energy

Lastly, we can reinvent our country all while being green.  Fusion power doesn’t emit hydrocarbons – like fission reactors, you’re not burning anything.  Fusion power emissions are energy and water.  That’s it.  There is no radioactive waste with a half-life of 20,000  years that you have to dispose of.  Guess where you get the fuel for nuclear power reactors?  Salt water.  Yes, the fuel deuterium comes from ‘heavy water’ commonly found in sea water.  You mix that with tritium (which is merely a hydrogen atom with two protons in it) and a whole lot of energy and the two atoms ‘fuse’ together to make even more energy, a helium atom, and a neutron.  That’s it.

The Problem and Reality
  The only reason that fusion is so hard is that like the sun, the process is extremely hot.  So hot that the plasma produced can melt anything.  The only way to contain it is to basically make an electromagnetic shield of energy around the reaction.  It’s similar to shields in Star Trek, but instead of keeping energy from a  weapon out, it keeps energy from the reaction in and thus prevents the plasma from melting the reactor chamber.

   Our current reactors take more energy to power up and run than the process makes.  Improving the technology takes research and eureka moments.  You get that with the best minds working together, being excited about their work and pulling long hours over the concentrated effort of 5-10 years, not the snail’s pace of 100 years like the current proposed rate of progress.  Talk about a pathetic, flacid approach.  Real research with the best of minds means that the money has to be there to spend. 

 My Vision

Unlike a devalued dollar and papered-over banking problems, fusion power is a solution for the ages.  What is a half a trillion dollars to the hundreds of trillions of dollars that near limitless energy is worth?  The world is not running out of sea water anytime soon and with limitless energy, things are far more possible.  First, we stop heating up the planet.  Global warming is real.  It may come from a hotter sun too, but throwing an extra wool blanket around the plant from more carbon dioxide than plants can take in doesn’t help.  Secondly, energy intensive processes like reverse osmosis water purification can desalinate and purify salt water or poisoned water.  So much of the world’s suffering comes from having a poor water supply.  You could now do grandiose civil engineering projects like fueling california’s agriculture industry from reverse-osmosed sea water that is pumped to the farmland.  The energy from fusion power could drive the massive pumps and purifiers that you would need.  You could even take the idea a step further and slowly terraform deserts and make them arable again – combating their slow spread.  Other things even more grandiose are possible.    Remember how hydrogen is the key ingredient, well it is also the most abundant element in the universe and floats freely around the vacuum of space.  Space ships, space travel, space colonies, and asteroid mining and the inherent resources there, are all far more possible because you have now have an efficient engine to power your spacecraft and a ready source of fuel to power it.

Yes, my ideas for the future may be grandiose, but with near limitless energy, it is possible.  All it takes is leadership and vision.  I wish we had more of it.

The Bottom Line

You can’t do something like this on the cheap.  Its going to cost hundreds of billions to do it on the scale and pace of breakthrough I’m talking about, both in infrastructure development and technology.  Politicians can spend the same amount of money bailing out banks, printing fiat currency, and generally kicking the can of economic collapse down the road, but they can’t do what I propose.  Its all because special interests in DC and Congress’ general lack of vision prevents it from actually being the body politic it needs to be.  There are too  many politicians and not enough statesmen; we need less power grubbing and more visionary leadership.   

This is our silver bullet, but we’ve got to fire it or its of no use.

– G.S.


The New Manhattan Project

December 22, 2010

Worship Me! I Am The Solution To All of Your Woes.

  I have hinted at this post in the past and now it’s here.  This is my non-scientific stab at:

 – The Next ‘American Innovation’

–  American Reinvestment

– Effective Stimulus

– High-Paying, Sustainable Job Creation 

– Energy Independence

– National Security

–  and A Carbon Reducing, Green Energy Source

     The caption says it all.  Fusion power – the source of energy for the suns and thermonuclear weapons is the answer.  Name one thing, only one thing that can realistically accomplish all of the above bullet points and I’ll eat my hat.  Lets get started.  There may be overlap as some pertinent factors can be shared.

  The Next ‘American Innovation’

     This country has maintained its greatness because it has an edge.  The ideas and entrepreneurship that are part of our identity have given rise to our modern world and the standard of living that we so enjoy.  Since the industrial revolution and throughout the 20th Century, this country’s economy is generally propelled by some sort of new innovation.  It might be something great like Carnegie and his telegraph and steel empire, or it could be something as terrible and destructive as the First and Second World Wars.  All three examples drove American innovation forward and provided new technologies, industries, jobs, and money for this country’s citizens.  Why not use this technology and its benefits today – providing that next needed industry.  We could corner the market and benefit as we spread the technology to the world instead of dragging the development process out for the next 50 years.  I am serious.   The development of the most promising reactors take decades with further designs behind them.  The pace and the money are a pittance.  My one source said it was a total of about a billion dollars a year.  Yes, that is a lot of money, but not for a country that builds a plane that cost $1.2 billion back in the early 90’s and doesn’t blink to spend $20 billion on foreign aid a year and $787 billion to bail out Wall Street. 

American Reinvestment

    This technology would be an investment in America because we have to spend the money here to make the technology and integrate it into our economy and lives.   This case alone should be enough when I say that with a serious committment and expenditure of dollars, we can not only keep that money in our nation’s collective pocket, but spend more on power grids, power plants, turbines, electric cars, cement, and training.  This doesn’t even begin to account for all of the other supportive roles that put people to work while making something that is real and actually is a return on investment.  Real product you say?  Return on investment…that sounds like manufacturing!?! 

    Yes it is.  We used to be really good at it.  This is just manufacturing a new energy economy.  Why send over $400 billion a year overseas when we can keep that money here while also reinvesting in America?

Effective Stimulus

    This stimulus comes in two parts.  The first is the one we are all too familiar with;  the one from the government.  It means we spend money we generally don’t have on something in the hopes we get a greater return than what we put in.  These days, government stimulus is considered a ‘win’ when it gets back the  money it put in.  Now here is the hard part…stuff like this always involves Congress approving, creating, and managing a program that would be what I call ‘The New Manhattan Project’.  Instead of making fission bombs, we are making fusion energy.  The scale is debatable, but if we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars time and time again on terrible and perversely incentivized stimulus, why can’t the government pony up say $500 billion ($50 billion a year for 10 years) to invent fusion power that gives us more energy than it takes, and also completely revamping our nation’s energy grid in preparation for the technology and as a way to repair it.  Yeah, if you didn’t know, our energy grid is far from smart – its crumbling in a lot of places. 

     The reality is that this government and that of the whole EU might invest $40 billion over the next 50 years.  Might.  They’ve only put up about $10 billion to get where they have so far.  BP has a claims fund twice that size for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  That is a paltry sum for a slow process that doesn’t have enough impetus behind it to create leap-frog breakthroughs.

High-Paying Job Creation & Sustainment

     The second part of the stimulus is that it directly equates to American jobs and careers.  No, this is not seasonal or temporary work for minimum wage but high-tech jobs that pay well and will not go away.  Linemen, mechanics, power plant workers, engineers, professors, surveyors, the list goes on – these are jobs that can’t be exported because that are manufacturing something that can’t be exported.  The power lines and the power plants aren’t going anywhere.  This investment in the American worker and American infrastructure is money put back into our own pockets.  It is spent by you and your family and also by the company you work for in goods and services.  Some of that money ends up in the hands of the cement factory owner across town, who then has to get his cement trucks serviced by a local truck garage that your neighbor works at.  Like in this example, the same $1 goes a lot further went it is spent multiple times in a community instead of lining the pocket of a shah in Oman.  Why take 65 cents or so of every dollar and give it to people over in the Middle East who we shouldn’t trust because they really don’t like us that much…but they are all to glad to take our money? 

… Part II is now complete and is here.


Government of the Toothless and By the Apathetic

July 23, 2010
And You Thought Your Government Was Scary!

 

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 So lets go over what your government has done for you this week….

 1) Passed financial reform that will supposedly prevent this kind of financial crisis.  You’re kidding, right?  With this set of politicians in special interests’ pockets?
 
2) Reinstated long-term unemployment benefits for the chronically unemployed, boosting the maximum benefit for those that have been out of work for 6 months or longer.
 
3) Is about to begin war-game/demonstrations of force with S. Korea in response to the sinking of the Cheonan way back in March.
  
   You don’t need a lot of my bully-pulpiting here, so I’m going to get right to the point.
 
  The financial reform bill is toothless. It would not have prevented this financial crisis and it will not prevent the next one.  Wall Street had plenty of time, money, and lobbyists to water the thing down.  Heck too-big-to-fail banks are now even bigger and their existence is now institutionalized in this new plan.
 
  Americans are hurting and many need the unemployment insurance.  However, this government can’t find any way to cut spending elsewhere to pay for it.  Pathetic, just keep adding to the deficit.  I don’t know about you guys, but if I hadn’t found a job and my unemployment insurance was running out, I’d put my MBA aside and start flipping burgers at McDonalds.  I’d be running the joint in 6 months if I hadn’t found a better job by then.
 
   It took us this long to do something about N. Korea sinking that ship and killing all of those sailors?  Isn’t that an act of war?  I’m not saying go to war with N. Korea, but obviously they are in the wrong.  We needed to have this demonstration of power far sooner instead of wrangling with the Chinese about how they felt about it.  Tell China to shut the hell up, we still carry the big stick T.R. gave us.  They are the ones defending North Korea’s sabre rattling.  That is an indefensible position.  
 
   These are all examples of weak government that can’t get its act straight.  Even worse, we are apathetic and just let them continue to pass imperfect laws and make bad policy decisions.  C’mon folks, wake up!
 
“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment”.
– Robert Maynard Hutchins
 
– G.S.

Oh, I Have Slipped the Surly Bonds of Earth…

February 24, 2010
Flight of the Valkyries

...and Danced the Skies on Laughter Silvered Wings.

A friend, reader, and one of my rare post responders asked me to read the below article and opine on it at his request.  Ask and ye shall receive!  The article’s link is:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703444804575071870881168264.html

The author, Mark Helprin looks to have written a good number of books and have served randomly in various country’s armed services.  This itself speaks to him patently not being a fighter pilot nor educated on air power doctrine and the larger picture of how the Air Force projects power around the world.  I sympathize with his sentiments in the article, but I don’t agree.

I have to give my credentials upfront – while I admit I am not expert, I feel my opinion needs to count just as much if not more than this WSJ opinionator.  I am an graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, honorably discharged officer of the Air Force, and I was a pilot in the Air Force.  I however was NOT a fighter pilot.  I received extensive air power education to include formal training on doctrine, theory, and application both in military classes at the Air Force Academy and as a Lieutenant pilot and graduate of the Air Force’s ASBC – their ‘LT school’ located at Maxwell AFB.  Billy Mitchell and Claire Chennault were before their times, and we should have had linebacker III, IV, and V until we were blasting big pieces of Vietnamese ruins into smaller pieces of ruins.  I sound like Curtis LeMay, don’t I?

I like how Haplrin starts off.  He’s got it right.  It is a damn shame that we’re cancelling the F-22 after only a 180-some planes.  Even worse, we are bankrupting ourselves, losing our American ‘can-do’ spirit, and falling into a moral morass based on being PC, appealing to the lowest common denominator, and the popularity of the TV show ‘The Bachelor’.

   What I can’t abide by though is his assumption that the F-22 in all of its expense and basic single-purpose usage is the end all and be all of our force projection around the world and the key to our national defense as his article suggests.

   Let me hit some of the highlights of his article before I recap with my single point.  Be forewarned, I agree with him in some points and point them out, but I also disagree.  I actually give you some history behind my side of things and I try not to jump to conclusions.

His arguments:

1) We can’t forego our conventional forces.  Amen!  I agree.  But how does our focus on small elite forces and predator drones sharpen the Chinese training regimen?  As he states when he says: ‘…the penalty for this (holiday of military power) will be Chinese military parity, Russia again a threat to Europe, a nuclear-armed Iran…  He goes on.
   This assumption is borne by the fact that somehow our conventional force is diminished by having greater capabilities in elite units and that we need to have all these extra divisions just standing around waiting to defend ourselves from foreign agression and then to counter-attack and to invade the Fulda gap and Tiananmen Square.  The world doesn’t work that way anymore.  I wouln’t call these countries our friends by any stretch, but at the same time what do they have to gain by attacking us?  Everything is interconnected.  They have more to lose than we do by attacking us – its beyond just politics and embargoes, but with money and economics.  Those are the real things that keep everyone playing nice.  If anything, I see ourselves falling under some Chinese yolk economically because of the dollar-pegging game we allow them to play with the yuan, their export surplus with us, and all their ownership of our debt (and our wasteful debt service on it).  That is the real threat.
 
As for Iran, it does threaten violence, but it is a Middle-Eastern destabilizing kind of violence if they get a nuke.  Everyone knows and fears this, no-one more than the Israelis.  I fear them doing to Iran what they did to Saddam and his nuclear program if they get wind Iran is getting close to having a bomb.  That scenario is what should worry you.  How do you think the arab world will feel when Israel does what it has to do for its own security by repeating their exprience with Iraq in the 80s and sending in a four ship of F-16s to go below Iranian radar and drop some daisy-cutters on Iran’s nuclear facilities?

2) Control of Panama Canal – what?

3) Less ships doesn’t mean less capability.  What can one carrier group do today compared to what 5 WWII era groups could do?  What about planes?  I promise you, those 4 F-22s in that pictures could amass more kills than a whole squadron of F-15s – and that is our next best air to air fighter (which is still better than anything China makes – I’ll get to that one though)

4)  Missile defense shield – good point, but do we really need to spend the money and piss off the Russians?  Israel will unfortunately do everyone’s job for them if we’re worried about a couple of nuclear tipped rockets.  See the end of #1 above if you need a re-cap.

5)  We still have plenty of nuclear weapons to irradiate the world a couple dozen times over.  How many times do you have to sterilize the world and kill the global warming debate with a nuclear winter?

6) 150 Planes in Europe does not equal roman foot-soldiers in Europe.  That was a lot further for them back then.  Besides, we shouldn’t have to defend the Europeans anymore from the Soviets.  The Marshall Plan worked and now they’re on their own two feet.  They’re also our ALLIES not the conquered distant regions of our empire.

7) We spent and wasted a lot of money on new planes during the Cold War because  it was faster and cheaper back then.  We also had a real threat from a real, conventional enemy.  Technology also wasn’t as good and thus breakthroughs came faster.  Each of those meant newer, better designs.  Finally, we won the Cold War by bankrupting the Soviets.  We didn’t do it through having bake-sales and fund-raisers.  The soviets could not build bombers AND feed ther people in their centrally controlled economy.  It simply could not keep up with our capitalist system and its ability to build bombers among other things.  We could feed our people AND make our weapons of war.   Its is oversimplified, but tThe Soviets had to pick, and they chose not to feed their people.  The people get pissed and foment revolution when you do that long enough – hence its collapse.

8 ) A flight of F-22s IS a wall of death.  Now that those pilots have been training in these birds for a while, they don’t get shot down in the simulations.  I’m surprised he doesn’t have more recent data.

9)  The F-22 program has been decades in the making, since the late 70s.  Hence it is a product of the cold war.  That original number of 750 is actually down from a larger orginal number, I want to say closer to 1300 or so.  They imagined them replacing every F-15, which just starting coming off the line at the time.

10)  China’s 5th generation fighter.  What does their 4th gen fighter look like?  Its either an F-16 or something bought from the Russians.  Either way, its not as good as even our F-15s, like I’ve said.  China is not known for its aeronautical know-how.

11) The F-35 or the ‘Joint Strike Fighter’ (JSF) is designed to be the multi-role plane that we can make a lot of and sell to our allies.  It is part of a high-low concept.  It being the ‘low’ plane and the F-22 being the ‘high’ plane.  Its capabilies and our pilots still far outshine ANYTHING out there short of the F-22.  I actually worry about its production being cut much more so than the F-22 since  by design, it is supposed to be the work-horse of our air forces.

12) We won’t send out pilots into combat with a plane that doesn’t work.  The design and testing of the JSF isn’t complete.  To characterize the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps as being incompetent enough to not know what they’re doing and go into production with a rushed plane is insulting.  That is in part why you hear about cost over-runs and set backs.  Development is never perfect, but the guys at Boeing, Lockheed, General Dynamics, and the rest want to get it right.  They know they owe it to their customers – our troops and the tax-payer. 

13)  The Air Army Air Corps established air superiority over the skies of Europe during WWII.  It is how we helped the boys on the ground.  We didn’t own every stretch of the sky, but we owned most of it – which let us dictate the terms to Hitler in the air instead of the other way around.  Today, the US Air Force has air dominance or some call it air supremacy.  We even own the birds that are flying around.  Nothing moves in the air unless we give it the say so.  Everyone knows its a wasted effort to go up against the US in the air.   Saddam knew that by the end of the Desert Storm and started burying his planes to save them!
    The training of our pilots, the capabilities of our weapons systems (planes and missiles), and the level of aerial refueling and inter-communication ensures that no-one can compete with the US.  These are things that are built on the backs of many planes in the sky not just the one that gets all the glory.  Planes that do all the hard work, the KC-135s, KC-10s, J-STARS, AWACS.  They keep the air war together and going.

    The F-22 doesn’t do squat for this besides be the tip of the spear (if used).  What I mean by this is that the F-22 was designed to replace the F-15C.  Do you know what F-15C do day in and day out?  They are an ‘air superiority tactical fighter’ – meaning they are built for dog-fighting.  Since no-one can match us in the air, they burn holes in the sky all day long.  Maybe they get tasked with dropping a random JDAM or two, but that is not what the plane was designed for.  It is a testament to our force that we can train and equip a single-role fighter into a multi-role fighter.  When they do fight, like in the Desert Storm, they wipe the board with the competition.  As a footnote to this point, the Air Force knew that opponents of the F-22 would have similar concerns.  Hence, they made it the F/A-22.  The ‘A’ stands for attack.  That means that the plane can do more than dog-fight.  We knew this already as flexibility is the key to air power, but this nuance is a twist for politicians to sell the funding for the program.   

15)  I agree with Mr. Helprin that we must defend our country, but we must do it in a fiscally intelligent matter.  Government, to include military expenditures is fraught with waste.  Congressmen give support to military programs because it means they can go back to their voters and claim that they got their district jobs.  That means that the F-22 is no joke, built in something like 47 states.  How cost inefficient is that?  I am not against defense at all, but its how we spend our money that is the underlying problem.  Fix that and we can have more hardware for less.

14)  Piggy-backing on my previous point, no other country in the world can project air power like we can.  No nation, and I mean no nation can project their air forces across continents and oceans on the level that we can.   It is an art and science that takes time and know-how to master.  We have bases around the world and have been deploying our flying assets overseas for over half a century.  Any nation that would be a genuine threat to the United States would have to significantly bolster their capability and we’d easily know what they were up to and we could react accordingly.  

    The bottom line from me is that I hear Mr. Helprin, but I believe he over simplified the matter.  Our best military assets are its people.  We see this when our experience and training in Iraq and Afghanistan in nation building helps us with relief efforts in Haiti.  Our troops are finally getting good at nation building (we’ve always been good at nation-leveling).  That distinction is what could have won us the Vietnam War.  I digress, but the point is that our pilots are better trained and prepared for aerial combat.  When we last flew against the Chinese as proxies in Vietnam, we had learned from our experience against them as proxies in the Korean War.  In Korea, our kill ratio had fallen to 6 to 1.  Pretty good – especially when our F-86 Sabre WAS outclassed by the Mig-15.  For every pilot of ours shot down, we shot down 6 of theirs. 
   Actually, it wasn’t good enough.  We trained and honed our edge and got our kill ratio up to 12 to 1 by the end of the war and increased that ratio in every air war since.  Even if the Chinese  bought Russian stealth-fighters we’d shoot them out of the sky, we have such better pilots because we have the budget and numbers to train them that way.  Hence we’d still own the skies.

   Who is Mr. Helprin to say that if we got into a conventional WWIII with a country like China that we wouldn’t rally around the flag?  Other countries roll their eyes at our patriotism.  They do it partly out of how much we do it, but they also do it because they know that we truly love our country more than they love theirs.  I don’t apologize.  Most Americans don’t.  We have the most advanced military and military industrial complex the world has even known – but it pales in comparison to the total mobilization during WWII.  Imagine the whole modern economy bent to military production and winning a war like it was in WWII.  Its unimaginable, but I believe if we had to, we could do it again.

    Remember – The US, its citizens, and the can-do spirit brought forth by that combination invented the  nuclear bomb, stealth technology, the airplane, laser guided munitions, night vision, bunker busters, cluster bombs, kevlar, armored warships, the MOAB, the repeating rifle, and the US Marine Corps.  Woe to those on the other end.

  You are always going to need a good soldier with a rifle.  Our professional military leaders know this and they have the correct focus despte Mr. Helprin’s concerns.

No war was ever won without boots on the ground.

– G.S.