Jerry Pournelle wants to get rid of the Air Force:
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
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 than USAF give up a
mission even though it does not want it.
Drones will change all this, but why wait?
Actually, as Eric S. Raymond demonstrated in both “Sucker Punch” and “Battlefield Lasers”, the Air Force is very close to obsolete anyhow. My expectation is that they’ll try to survive by moving their mission upward, to space, in order to compensate for the vanishing ability of their planes to survive in the atmosphere.