Re: An Irregular Challenge
11:52 AM, Feb 18, 2008 • By STUART KOEHL
John Noonan makes some very interesting and important points in his recent piece, "An Irregular Challenge." The Air Force does need to evaluate its role in low intensity conflict and must make the necessary investments to support that mission. John is also right in stating that the Air Force has yet to do that in a meaningful way:
The problem for the Air Force, however, is that beyond some very secondary support function, it doesn't have much of a legitimate role in low intensity conflict (LIC). Airpower is about firepower. Firepower is almost irrelevant to low intensity conflict. Go to the AFA Daily Update, and look at the little box at the bottom, where it gives the daily number of sorties in Iraq by type. The vast majority are transport or tanker, with ISR and CAS/Armed Recon way back in the pack (and overall, the sortie rate is insignificant). When it comes to wars like Iraq and Afghanistan, the main role of the Air Force is trucking company, moving men and materiel from place to place. It can help, to a limited extent, by providing persistent surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, but systems like J-STARS, the U-2, or tactical reconnaissance aircraft can't really contribute much when the targets blend so well into the background.