Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 89

AIR FORCE TAKE NOTE MC and previous doctrinal approaches is increased empowerment of subordinate leaders. Higher echelon leaders issue orders to lower echelons with the who, what, when, where, and why. However, under MC, they are careful not to tell subordinate leaders the how. Why are these doctrinal changes important to the Air Force? Quesada and Bradley provide another applicable case study. One example of their cooperation in doctrinal initiatives was the birth of the modern-day air liaison officer. During discussion between the two generals, Quesada requested permission to install common radio sets in some of Bradley’s tanks. Bradley agreed. Quesada then placed a pilot in each of the radio-equipped tanks and scheduled aircraft to operate in waves over their locations.28 The results were amazing. Due to this innovation, air support requests that had often gone unfilled or took hours for a response at the beginning of World War II were processed quickly, and the ability to attack targets in close proximity to friendly forces improved dramatically. Air support to ground operations was greatly improved. This advance reached a pinnacle of success during the Third Army’s push to Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944–25 January 1945) to relieve the weary 101st Airborne Division, which was surrounded by German forces. Army tankers met significant German resistance near the town of Remichampgane. As a consequence, U.S. forces radioed for air support, and P-47 “Thunderbolts” arrived overhead only twenty minutes later. The aircraft dropped ordnance that destroyed German positions within hundreds of yards of the friendly front line, enabling the American tanks to forge ahead.29 This incident, together with many others like it, prompted one general defending in Bastogne to remark, “The fighter-bombers did work equivalent to the employment of two U.S. Infantry Divisions.”30 This was high praise, given the complete lack of U.S. CAS capability at the outset of World War II. How does this history apply to the current situation and recent Army doctrinal changes? First, it is easy to trace Bradley and Quesada’s plan to the current JP 3-09.3, Close Air Support, requirement for detailed CAS integration.31 Second, though the Air Force can employ elements of MC, it cannot completely adopt the concept due to inherent constraints on some of its components. And, third, the Army employment of ULO may require the Air Force to make some significant changes. MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 The Air Force already uses MC in numerous environments. When a strike package mission commander is tasked to destroy a target, he or she is told the what and when, but definitely not the how. On the other hand, Air Force nuclear missile operators must work under tight centralized control. Numerous other similar examples of Air Force organizations exist for which MC is not feasible, so the bottom line is this: the Air Force can adopt some elements of MC but not the entire doctrine. For example, the Air Force does not have sufficient airframes to align a four-ship formation of F-16s with a specific Army battalion, so the Air Force needs centralized control of those aircraft in order to maximize their effectiveness. Consequently, the Army’s approach to ULO will influence the Air Force. As the F-35 and F-22 become the backbone of the fighter force, innovative techniques and smart procurement can ensure tactical air support retains its current outstanding capability. The Air Force continues to ramp up the number of MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial systems in the fleet. In a permissive environment, the MQ-9 is an excellent CAS platform. The increased number of aircraft, long-on-station time, and significant ordnance load of the MQ-9 are a powerful combination for future hybrid-threat operations. The MQ-9 is a multidimensional weapon system with a wide variety of uses. As Air Force field grade officers influence procurement decisions, the MQ-9 is an excellent model to follow. The Air Force needs to replace its aging T-38 jet trainer fleet. The new trainer should follow the MQ-9 model as a multidimensional platform capable of a variety of missions. Trainer-X is an excellent example of an opportunity for Air Force officers to critically consider ways to solve multiple needs with a single solution. A new trainer is required; however, what else does the joint force need? Pilots selected to fly the F-22 and F-35 require advanced pretraining because of their new aircrafts’ capabilities and the lack of two-seat trainer variants. Additionally, flying the F-22 and F-35 for some missions does not make sense. Using F-22s as alert aircraft or for continental U.S. combat air patrols is costly and taxes a very limited resource. Finally, the F-22 and F-35 are often flown in an adversary role to simulate threat aircraft. This use of costly air craft as “Red Air” wastes resources. Can the new trainer accomplish all three of these missions? Can the Air Force purchase an aircraft capable of training that also possesses a combat capability? This combat-coded trainer may not 83