View from Chaos Manor, Sunday, January 25, 2015
Not posted until Monday
I had a large Mailbag yesterday, and some of the discussion continues so I’ll put that in today. The issue involves statistical inference, and what is taught as “Stat 101” in Departments other than Mathematics. Even in Engineering schools – some not all, but the trend continues – they are now teaching cookbook “Stat” which involves how to calculate means and standard deviations, but do not explain the assumptions made to draw valid inferences from the data. Often they do teach real Statistics in MBA programs, oddly enough.
I also intend to do an essay on why we should abolish the Air Force and return to an Army Air Force which is not a separate service. The purpose of military forces is to win wars. The purpose of the Air Force is—well, they no longer know. When we had SAC we knew – “Our profession is peace” was not just a slogan – but that too is neglected in the Modern Air Force. Deterrence and maintenance of nuclear weapons, being ready to use weapons when your fondest wish is that they will never be used – that does require a different kind of military. We once had that in SAC but the end of the Cold War was the end of SAC, and the nuclear deterrence force is, well not what it once was. It is subject to the Iron Law now.
As to the rest of the Air Force, it is more interested in the Air Force than winning wars, and considers supporting the field army as beneath contempt. A slow old Warthog does a much better job, but there is no glory in that. Best to use fast jets… which of course are imprecise and cause a lot of collateral damage. Everyone knows that a force of propeller driven P-47 fighters of WWII would be more effective for supporting the field army than what we use. And the Army must be crippled, not allowed to have effective air power in taking territory. You must use modern jets at high speed.
Now the Air Force has a mission that the Army at present does not have: Air Supremacy. And that is a different mission from supporting the field army. It involves engagements with Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) as well as strikes against the enemy base of operations. The glory is in air to air combat, but that is not the effective way to air supremacy.
That is the main argument for an “Independent Air Force” and the bitter fights that ended with creation of USAF. It is true, ground army commanders tend to select the wrong targets to sortie against, and endanger air supremacy; thus the argument for independence, which USAAF eventually won (before SAC existed or any but a few knew would be needed.) Hiroshima ended the debate. But now the Cold War ended and USAF killed SAC as not glamorous – not career building any longer. As to the Warthogs, give them to the National Guard! Real pilots don’t need them!
Sure, I exaggerate but not much: the Air Force keeps trying to get rid of the Warthogs, but never by giving them (and the ground support mission) to the War Department. Better that GI’s die tan USAF give up a mission even though it does not want it.
Drones will change all this, but why wait?
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.