Before I get started on my well-researched rant, I just want to state that I don't think the men and women of the USAF are jerks, pansies, or parasites. Far from. They are as good as any other member of our armed forces, ready when we need them, willing when we ask them, and able when we send them.
The USAF itself is a large waste of money.
First point: simply analyze our air power in our various armed forces. The Army has the largest "air presence" of any service. The Navy has their own air superiority, airlift, and strike capabilities. The Marine Corps has their own airlift, strike, and close air-support capabilities. The Air Force has all of that, plus strategic air. All this means that the people of the United States are essentially paying for four air forces, each with overlapping and oft-conflicting roles. Um... why? Politics, "tradition," and politics.
Second point: While the Navy and Marine Corps absolutely need their own air support (whether inherent to their services or provided by the air force), so does the Army. So why did the DoD arbitrarily decide that the Department of the Navy get to keep its aviation assets, while the Department of the Army did not? Politics, "tradition," and politics.
Given the current nature of DoD organization and budget, it's clear that the government wants to spend as little as possible on how the military is structured and operated. In a natural progression, DoD should streamline commands, eliminate flag positions, and put asset control in as few pots as possible (notice I wrote asset control, not the assets themselves). Which, obviously, would lead to the Army and Navy controlling their own air support. Well, like I said, the Navy does it, why not the Army?
Simply put, the United States Air Force would run much more efficiently should it "devolve" back into the Army Air Force. Army commanders would have their own air superiority, airlift, and close air support aircraft to use on pertinent missions, instead of having to ask and coordinate with the USAF. I mean, why does the USAF control tactical airlift, anyway? They don't need it for themselves on a large scale. But guess who does? That's right, the Army.
It's also common knowledge that the USAF (the institution, mind you, not its individual pilots) doesn't really care about its legally mandated CAS (close air support) mission. Why? Well, because they don't need it for themselves. But guess who does?
Anyway, this can of worms can be opened much wider, but the bottom line is that the USAF should either assume control of ALL air assets in the DoD (which still leaves the problem of "asking" and coordinating), or should collapse itself back into the Army, with the Air Force's United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) component (formerly known as Strategic Air Command - SAC) shifting entirely to Navy control.
This would cut many middlemen out, streamline top-down command and communications, and allow for closer operational training between the various arms.
I know a whole hell of a lot of people will disagree with me, but can you really give me any advantages that can trump saving money? Other than "tradition" and politics, of course.
* This is the first part of what will hopefully be a nine-part entry in the River of Mnemosyne challenge that's happening over at The ...
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