Dr. Earl Tilford, FloydReports.com
Note: This article is Part II in a series. Click here to read Part I. — Ed.
The U.S. Department of Defense must restructure to accommodate deep budget cuts and, more importantly, be ready for the challenges of 21st-century warfare. Those challenges will include unconventional operations and wars fought in vastly expanded battle spaces. Reforms are needed in three areas.
First, today’s DoD — structured around land, air, and sea forces to accommodate Industrial Age conflict — is inadequate for Information Age warfare. The U.S. Air Force received separate service status in 1947 by a mating of the atomic bomb to the long-range delivery system of the day, the B-29 bomber. For five decades, air-power enthusiasts argued that air power formed the tip of the spear while land and sea forces constituted the supporting shaft. That is no longer the case.
Human-piloted combat aircraft undergird the Air Force’s reason for being. It is likely that the 20 B-2 bombers currently in the inventory, at $2 billion dollars a copy, will be the last of the manned bombers. Additionally, the F-35 is likely to be the last manned fighter developed by the United States. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be the fighting platforms of the future. They can do more for less cost because UAVs are not designed for pilot survivability. Additionally, in the current war, the Air Force has been the supporting—rather than the supported—service. It’s time to reintegrate the Air Force into the U.S. Army. This eliminates an entire service with accompanying bureaucracies while minimally expanding an Army likely to experience reductions throughout its other branches….