Deaile weaves a rich tapestry that incorporates doctrine, technology, and daily life in a way that previous authors in this crowded field have not fully explored. He has crafted one of the best single-volume treatments of SAC and its culture, and it should be required reading for anyone studying either Air Force history or Cold War military issues.
In the beginning, being a fighter pilot was all about having what later came to be called “the right stuff:” good eyesight, excellent hand-eye coordination, good stick and rudder skills, and aggressiveness. Fino goes to great lengths to demonstrate that over the course of next three decades these skills did not necessarily change, but they did evolve as pilots had to contend with increasingly complex aircraft systems. The history of fighter aviation rapidly became the struggle to understand automation.
As the Islamic State advance was brought to a stop, coalition aircraft were free to attack the enemy from their front line positions to deep behind into the territory they held. The uncontested hold of the air provides us the ability to target and destroy the support network that keeps the self-declared caliphate fully functioning. From Mosul to Raqqa, the destruction of logistic depots, training camps, communication facilities and financial complexes, in addition to the destruction of their fighting units in direct contact with friendly forces, applies pressure on every aspect of the organization.
When I look at our presence in the Middle East, the word that comes to mind is “persistent.” It is this persistent presence that has led to the development of the sprawling bases you see in Jason Koxvold’s photographs. These photographs will give a unique look into the locations and lives of Airmen who are the foundation beneath the operations of Airmen like me as we conduct missions in support of America’s national interest.
The debate surrounding warrant officers in the Air Force is bigger than simply money and prestige, both for individuals and for within the force. Today’s Air Force risks both bleeding talent from within based on the current force structure, and its education and training programs for internally growing talent is unlikely to adapt fast enough to keep pace with significant changes in the digital battlespace modern airmen confront. Flexibility is the key to airpower, and the prospect of reintroducing warrant officers on the terms the Air Force needs today are critical to that flexibility.
The decision to stop production of arguably the world’s greatest flying machine elicits impassioned opinions on both sides of the argument. Raptor supporters argue that the Air Force is significantly weaker than it should be because of the limited number of F-22s, while supporters of Secretary Gates’ decision argue the cancellation of the line allowed the investment of billions of dollars in equipment that saved countless lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These two visions are a result of the last 15 years of fighting experience that the Army and Air Force have built. They are both highly divergent, and also complementary. The Army has taken the brunt of the changes that have occurred in the global civilization since the fall of the Soviet Union and is now learning to operate against connected and individually powerful enemies who operate in complex social and urban terrains. The Air Force has been finding its connection to its joint family, overcoming the hubris of early airpower advocates and finding a voice in the joint fight. The two services probably fight better together now than at any other time in the past. But can that hard won cooperation be sustained with such radically different visions of their futures?
Much has been written about the transformation of the United States Air Force between the Vietnam War and Operation DESERT STORM. In his classic book Sierra Hotel, C.R. Anderegg documented the revolution in training that occurred at the Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base during this era, led by the so-called “Fighter Mafia” of Air Force legends such as John Jumper, Ron Keys and Moody Suter. Steve Davies opened the door to the secret MiG program known as “Constant Peg” that occurred during the same time period in his book Red Eagles, while former Red Eagles Squadron Commander Gail “Evil” Peck gave his unique perspective on this historically significant squadron in his book America’s Secret MiG Squadron.
Dan and Dave, no relation to the famous Olympic decathletes, began a dialogue following a workshop on the development of an Air Force Operating Concept. At the conclusion of day 1 of the workshop, Dan and Dave had a discussion on the future of the military; to include the direction our respective services are headed. The idea popped up that these deep discussions should be published, for others to read and debate. The richness and value of discussions on the future of warfare is worthless if left between two people.