Air Power and Holy War

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View from Chaos Manor, Friday, February 20, 2015

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Morning and lunch with Niven and Barnes, and much progress on the new book about the Cthulhu war and other problems plaguing the settlers of Avalon, the first interstellar colony. And there’s no faster than light.

I fear I am exhausted, and somewhat irrational. Computer problems, but they fixed themselves. Outlook 2010 is enough different from 2007 that it can be frustrating. So it goes. I am probably going to experiment with some kind of dictation device; it has to be faster than this. I’ll experiment, I guess.

A couple of points, but this will be short.

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The threat posed by ISIS

“Obviously we do not declare war on a billion people because of their religion.”
Obvious to you, but what about the average person casually soaking up the reporting by Fox News? You hear constant complaining that Obama isn’t calling it ISLAMIC terrorism. Guests frequently point out that the seeds of violence are at the core of that religion. O’Reilly (and many others) tells us we are engaged in a HOLY war, only the president won’t acknowledge it. How many of those people walk away fearful of anything and anyone associated with Islam, ready to go to war with the religion?
I say this the day after my wife got off the phone with her mother, who was literally sobbing in fear of ISIS and the Islamic threat. “They are only 100 miles away from her beloved Pope! Never in her lifetime have we faced such a dire threat”.
This reaction is from an 80 year old woman who was born poor at the tail end of the depression, only to see her older brothers go off and fight in WWII, then lived through the cold war with the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation, the turmoil of the 60’s and the Vietnam war, and then the financial crises of recent years. And at the end of her life she is most terrified of the Muslim hordes that she is convinced are about to engulf us, all the fault of our much hated Muslim president.
It seems very wrong that a normally sensible women could be driven into such a state of hysteria by what she sees reported by her favorite news outlets.

Craig

Without the Caliphate there is no pressing need; we are interested in preserving our republic, not in Crusades. I hope you are confounding me with Fox News? While I have some regard for individuals there – Britt Hume was a friend some years ago although I have not heard from him in a decade – much of Fox is neo-conservative, which is not my position. I am simply devoted to rational discussion, and I don’t carry a label.

But we allow the Caliphate to exist at our peril. Most Muslims do not accept the premise of eternal war, but ISIS does and says so. When an armed man says that I cannot live and beheads a man standing next to him, he has my full attention.

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Air power and ISIS

Jerry, I see that the USAF is actually making use of their air supremacy to make tactical air strikes against ISIS, and that’s good, so far as it goes. Alas, it doesn’t go far enough because such actions only have a short-term effect, and what’s needed is something that will have more lasting effects. My personal opinion is that they should make an all-out effort to interdict the enemy’s supply lines so that their army doesn’t have enough munitions to continue their attacks or enough food to keep them from starving. I don’t care how dedicated, eager or inspired an army is, it’s very hard to press your attacks home when you’re low on ammo and even harder to defend against counter-attacks when you’re running out of bullets and living on half-rations because your supply convoys are being bombed and strafed into oblivion. (It’s not going to do anything good for your morale, either!)

I’d like to point out to you and your readers that this isn’t exactly a new idea. Back in ’72, my ship was one of a fleet of 38 warships on the Gun Line beating back the Easter Offensive. Very few of our fire support missions were directed at enemy formations. Most of them were either against truck convoys or supply dumps. During WWII, the submarine campaigns in the Pacific were mostly aimed against enemy shipping in attempts to cut supply lines, as were both Battles of the Atlantic. I could go on, of course, but I think my point is clear:

cutting the enemy’s supply lines is an effective way to win a war, and costs less than defeating him in the field. (If nothing else, less of your own troops get killed.)

There’s an old saying that junior officers talk about tactics, field-grade officers talk about strategy and senior officers talk about logistics. I’m sure that there are people in the Pentagon who understand this, but I don’t know if any of them have the President’s ear, or if he’s willing to take their advice in this case. I’m sure his opponents believe that he doesn’t really want to win, but I’m not willing to go that far because there’s no evidence to back the assertion. I would, however, be interested in seeing what you and your other correspondents think about this.

Joe Zeff

All air power is not equally effective. One mission is to isolate the battle area: see that no ammunition, supplies, or reinforcement comes through. This is generally more useful than hitting hard points; armor and artillery are usually better for that, but do not take that as dictum: this not a primer on major tactics and operations. But once we have achieved air superiority tha planes that did that are not the moist effective for interdiction, close support, or recce/strike, and the better they are at that the more likely they will be to be second best in a dogfight. This was the TFX problem.

The Air Force no longer serves the ground support mission in an optimum manner.

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Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

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