Air Force Identity Crisis...
- "Why does the country need an independent Air Force?" ... For the first time in the 62-year history of the Air Force, the answer isn't entirely clear.
Fighter pilots still run the USAF, to the detriment of the USAF and the nation.
- Lasting cultural change won't take place in the Air Force until officers who serve in these new fields rise to the top ranks, which are still dominated by fighter pilots.
The role of the Air Force has changed dramatically in the last two decades, and the rate of change is accelerating. But the Air Force, which used to brag about not being bogged down by tradition, clings to the fighter-pilot era desperately
. The fighter pilot officers that run the Air Force want to pretend that the rise of UAV's
(often called drones, a misnomer) is a temporary condition and that fighters and bombers are still the future. They are wrong. While we will always have use for piloted aircraft and the talented individuals why fly them, there is unlikely to be much air-to-air combat in the coming decade or more. The entry costs are too high for poor nations, and the risks are great for those few who have fighter aircraft. We need more emphasis on the threats we ACTUALLY
face from the USAF, not more of the same. I heartily applaud the pushing that Secretary of Defense Gates did to get the USAF to field more UAV's
and for ending the F-22 program. But Gates will be gone in a year or so and longer term change is needed if the Air Force is to remain a viable separate, independent force. And when you go to the same bullpen (fighter pilots), you generally get the same results.
- The next generation of unmanned planes is likely to demand even greater changes from the Air Force, Mathewson said. The craft will require new kinds of organizations, new types of bases and new kinds of officers who will never peer through a fighter-jet canopy in search of the enemy.