Air Power and War Past and Future; Global Warming on Mars

View from Chaos Manor, Sunday, February 01, 2015


Hatred is a sin, so I must be content with despising the Microsoft team that designed the user interface for Office 10; but despise them I do since they despise users. Things that you could find easily in Office 2007, once you got used to the ribbon, have sunk into a long train of subfolders which make sense only to the despicable designers. Yes, the Ribbon was hard to learn and was itself badly designed for Office 2003 users; but it had a kind of logic, and had not the team that writes Microsoft Help been recruited from an asylum for the mentally challenged it would have been learnable, without much effort; and indeed I learned it although as usual Help was no Help at all.

Now there is another odd logic to learn, and they were clever in removing redundancy so they did not leave the old ways in for those who made the effort to learn them.

I remember when Microsoft had a team of Human Factors engineers who studied how people USED Office; observing volunteers from working offices and other places where Office is used. Those seem now to have been replaced with a team of not very bright sadists. I wonder if they are cheaper?


There is only one thing you need to remember about Microsoft.

They are The Government of Windows and MS Office Applications. Their treatment of Users follows naturally from that.

Bob Holmes


I think I may have stimulated some debate over uses of air power and organization to achieve it, which is what I set out to do. We have a few more comments to publish before we can draw conclusions.

USAF ground support

“I think you confuse effort with work: number of sorties looks good, but what they accomplished is a better measure.”
Not at all. I wanted to address the issue of effort, because the claim was that the Air Force hadn’t made much effort to support the Army because they regarded the CAS mission with contempt. In fact, the Air Force made a major – indeed, staggering – effort to support the Army since 1945. It is hard to see what more the USAF could possibly have done.
As for what the Air Force accomplished, we should ask the shades of countless thousands of German, North Korean, Chinese, North Vietnamese, Iraqi, and Taliban troops who were annihilated by American airpower before they ever had a chance to raise their weapons and aim at an American soldier.
In Korea, USAF air support was lavish and as effective as it could be within the limits of early 1950s technology. CAS came faster and in higher quantities than during WW2. Airpower played a decisive role at several points, e.g. stopping the North Korean assault on the Pusan perimeter and covering the UN retreat after the Chinese attacked. Sure, the Army wanted more CAS and wanted it faster, but that’s always true. Believe me, I sympathize — if bad guys were shooting at me, I’d want all the USAF to send all its planes at once. But in the real world we’d never be able to build the number of aircraft the Army would like to have to support it.

James Perry

That is the point: the aircraft are not designed for the mission. What makes a good air superiority plane does not do the sort of work that the Stuka did in the Fall of France, to use a very old example. And of course a good ground support craft is not much use in dogfights, although in its time the P-47 was in fact able to do multiple missions, interdiction, recce-strike, and air supremacy both in ground strikes and supply interruption and interception and dogfights. But the P-51 turned out to be the escort plane (once it got the super-Rolls engine).

I was part of the Boeing design team for the TFX; we tried to design a multi mission ship, but it was my job to write a paper saying you couldn’t do it: you would end up with a craft that was second place in air to air combat, and there are few prizes for second place. The TFX – also known as the LBJ after 11 military boards chose Boeing but a Texas firm got the contract – became the FB-111, and was a very good recce/strike craft in Viet Nam, but it was not an air superiority ship. Of course the egregious McNamara wanted to make it a strategic bomber too: one weapon fits all. This is treated at length in Strategy of Technology by Possony and Pournelle (1970).

Of course we cannot build all the aircraft the Army wants. We can’t build all the guns and tanks they would like to have. But USAF wants to get rid of the best ground support and recce/strike birds we already have. There is a solution to this, give ground support to the Army and let the Air Force concentrate on strategic bombing, air supremacy, and supply; but USAF has rejected that.

Get the dog out of the manger; if need be get another dog. The nature of war is changing and we face ISIS and others like them; the Army can learn air supremacy, but USAF refuses even to think about supporting the field army, except it is adamant about keeping the mission.

= = = =

Anent Air Power

Dr. Pournelle


I see you have returned to one of your favorite rants: Let’s abolish the Air Force!

I will not engage on that subject for a number of reasons, none of which really matter. I was Air Force and wore the blue proudly, even if it did make me look like a trumped up train conductor. After all, I did not get pride from the uniform. I got it from the blue brotherhood, enlisted and officer, that I served with.

When I was in the Air Force, I said repeatedly in seminars and such that our mission was to support some 19-year-old kid on the ground with an M-16. This made me something of a pariah and may have contributed to the decision to move me out of the cockpit and into engineering.

Anyway, air power is important. I think we agree on that. Whether the USAF or the USAAF does it, the US needs it done.

The US has at least four air forces: the Air Force, the Army air forces (mostly rotary wing), the Navy air forces, and the Marine air forces.

Air forces have five missions: 1) recce, 2) artillery spotting, 3) munitions delivery, 4) transport, and 5) air supremacy. If you know different, please educate me.

To me, the question is not whether the Air Force should be a separate service. The question is how our air forces get those missions done. Like, should we use a manned airplane or an RPV?

Do we need flattops? Can the air missions be performed without big flattops? (The first mission of a carrier air group is to protect its landing field. All else is secondary.)

I liked the A-10, although I never flew one. Had UPT classmates who drove Hogs. Sadly, they were not of my tribe, and I kinda lost touch. But given what PGMs can do launched from drones, do we need to put a man over the battlefield to deliver ordinance on target?

IMO these are things worth thinking about.

To end this missive, again IMO, the only purpose the F-35 serves is to transfer money from the national treasury to Lockheed-Martin. The Marines may have a role for one version, but I do not believe the Air Force model or the Navy model can be justified. Harkens back to McNamara’s statement: ‘Build one airplane and let both the Air Force and the Navy fly it.’ We know how that turned out.

Live long and prosper

h lynn keith

Well, what you call recce and artillery spotting we called recce/strike, and I don’t see Interdiction – isolating the battle area – in your list, but it will do.

You do know USAF is not going to give up manned aircraft everywhere?

And note McNamara wanted one plane to do all missions. But see Strategy of Technology. Your story of being thought odd because you believe the primary mission is to stand an 18 year old kid with a rifle on the other guy’s command post says it all: the Air Force has lost sight of that. It is true that air supremacy is vital, and the Army does not always understand (until they lose it). We must have that capability; but air supremacy accomplishes nothing if the field army does not advance. We must retake Iraq from ISIS and we cannot do it with F-35’s or with 10,000 drones. And USAF does not get that.

How do we get the modern equivalent of the Stuka in France 1940 back? USAF doesn’t want it, and will not let the Army have it.


USAF Priorities


Good to see you, glad to see you recovering. The amount of your energy budget being taken up by recovery must be annoying the hell out of you – my impression is you’ve been used to getting ungodly amounts of productive time out of a day by disdaining layabout indulgences like naps. Me, absent deadline/crisis adrenalin, I’ve always run out of steam after a few hours then set up for the next round with a nap. I recommend the habit highly for anyone not gifted with the metabolism to routinely just power through. Post-lunch, doubly so. With luck, for you, just a temporary expedient while repairs are underway… For me, it’s a way of life. Anyway, back to the point I was wandering toward when you got tired:

Regarding USAF priorities, General George Kenney’s time running the Southwest Pacific air forces for MacArthur in WW II is instructive.

Kenney was very good at what he did and also got along with MacArthur without being a yes-man (facts possibly related given the disastrous nature of MacArthur’s air efforts before Kenney’s arrival.) (See “MacArthur’s Airman”, Thomas Griffith for the full story.)

Short version: the Southwest Pacific theatre was explicitly a low priority for the US; Europe came first. It was also at the far end of a supply chain that ran across the Pacific the long way. Where Europe saw hundreds then thousands of airplanes, Southwest Pacific saw dozens, eventually hundreds, and had to make do.

Fortunately the Japanese in the theater had similar problems, a long supply chain and other competing priorities. (They also had a problem with not knowing their codes had been broken, alluded to in Neal Stephenson’s wonderful novel Cryptonomicon and covered thoroughly in a book called “MacArthur’s Ultra” by IIRC Edward Drea.) Nevertheless, their air and ground forces were a match (and sometimes more) for what the Allies had and it was a close-run thing well into 1943.

General Kenney focused on two things: Establishing air supremacy, and interdicting Japanese supply lines, particularly seaborne supply. He did both very effectively – ongoing aerial attrition aside, he famously caught hundreds of Japanese aircraft massed on the ground at Hollandia, and the Battle of the Bismark Sea was one of the better-known occasions when he destroyed Japanese shipping – in that case, his Fifth Air Force sank the entire convoy carrying a Japanese infantry division bound for New Guinea. (This incident also showed up in Cryptonomicon.)

Kenney had his priorities: close air support was an afterthought, something you might use your planes for once you’d run out of aerial opposition and the enemy had stopped even trying to send in supplies and reinforcements. He was quite explicit about this: close support of Army formations was the job of artillery, as airplanes were a far more expensive way of delivering explosives than cannon and he didn’t have enough airplanes as it was.

They really did not do close air support in SW Pacific. I asked my uncle, an artillery forward observer officer with the 31st Division at Driniumor River, Wakde, Morotai, and Mindanao, what their procedures were for coordinating close air support, and his answer was, they didn’t have any procedures because it was understood they’d never get close air support. The one mention I’ve found of close air support happening in the theater before the Japanese ran out of airplanes in the region in

’45 involved P-39 pilots of the 35th Group figuring out the night before how best to dive-bomb with their airplanes, then the next day taking out a particularly troublesome mountaintop artillery emplacement under direction from the divisional general on the ground – obviously not a standard procedure.

My point here is not that General Kenney was wrong. Under his circumstances, given his limited theater resources, his priorities look to me to have been correct. His approach led directly to MacArthur’s ability to leapfrog powerful Japanese forces that had been isolated and starved into impotence, arguably shortening the campaign by a year or more and saving a lot of soldiers’ lives.

But Kenney was vastly influential in the direction USAAF then USAF took after the war. (He went on to become the first head of SAC.)

My point is that modern day USAF still has the same priorities and reacts the same way: If there’s a resource shortage, air supremacy and deep interdiction come first, and close air support gets cut to pay for them.

Only the resource shortage is now an organizational artifact, not a theater supply reality. USAF is unable to control costs on new air supremacy/interdiction fighters – $200 million for an F-22? $300 million and climbing for an F-35? *Really*? The result is that hundreds of A-10’s get retired to pay for a couple more F-35’s.

This is insanely organizationally dysfunctional, but I think the solution is obvious: Give the close air support mission and aircraft to the Army, which can better protect the CAS budget from raids by the tactical fighter establishment. Meanwhile, tell USAF that their mission is air supremacy when and where required, that their budget is set, and that they can either produce what’s required or have their bureaucracy gone through with fire and sword till results improve.


Accepting your analysis, what must be done? USAF will always retire hundreds of Warthog to buy another F-35. Always, so long as it exists. And it will never give up a mission. And it even gave up SAC. I worked for USAF most of my high tech career, I admire their people , but I cannot accept their choices.



The Strategic Implications of Iran’s STD Epidemic

by David P. Goldman

Asia Times Online

January 30, 2015

“In the 5th Century BC, the “Persian disease” noted by Hippocrates probably was bubonic plague; in 8th-century Japan, it meant the measles. Today it well might mean chlamydia. Standout levels of infertility among Iranian couples, a major cause of the country’s falling birth rate, coincide with epidemic levels of sexually transmitted disease. Both reflect deep-seated social pathologies. Iran has become a country radically different from the vision of its theocratic rulers, with prevailing social pathologies quite at odds with the self-image of radical Islam.

“In the 5th Century BC, the “Persian disease” noted by Hippocrates probably was bubonic plague; in 8th-century Japan, it meant the measles. Today it well might mean chlamydia. Standout levels of infertility among Iranian couples, a major cause of the country’s falling birth rate, coincide with epidemic levels of sexually transmitted disease. Both reflect deep-seated social pathologies. Iran has become a country radically different from the vision of its theocratic rulers, with prevailing social pathologies quite at odds with the self-image of radical Islam.


Unremovable supercookies, 


Some readers will be interested in this:

It’s about unremovable ‘supercookies.’ It looks like Verizon takes the concept of unchecked capitalism’s peddling human flesh on the street to heart.

Such lovelies.



Interplanetary Climate Change NASA’s Hottest Secret. A clip from David Wilcock – YouTube


All nine planets are warming up:

I know nothing about this guy, but I remember reading years ago that other planets are experiencing global warming. Consider this a follow-up.


Just how does CO2 on Earth warm Mars? Yet we find it there, and other planets are warming. We see warming all over the solar system.  I remarked on the brightness changes ten years ago, but climate change is “science.”



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




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