WASHINGTON – As Washington prepares to take “decisive military action” in Libya against the alarming growth of ISIS, retired generals have told G2 Bulletin they are concerned that the United States may go it alone, according to a new report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
They ask which allies, if any, will join a coalition and attempt to work with a Libyan government that barely exists.
At a news conference last week, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said the U.S. is “looking to take decisive military action” against ISIS in Libya and that a decision would be coming “in weeks” but “not hours.”
“It’s fair to say that we’re looking to take decisive military action against ISIS in conjunction with the political process” in Libya, Dunford said. “The president has made clear that we have the authority to use military force.”
ISIS is thought to have more than 3,000 fighters, with more flowing into Libya from Syria and Iraq, where the U.S., Russia and other countries have been carrying out intense airstrikes against the jihadist fighters.
Another ‘trillion-dollar failure’?
In October 2011, the U.S., France and Britain launched attacks that led to the overthrow of the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi. Since then, the country has not had a functional government. Warring factions of local jihadist groups are preoccupied fighting among themselves for dominance rather than taking on ISIS or coming together to form a government of national accord.
U.S. action in Libya, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney told G2Bulletin in an email, “is the last thing we need to do!”
“Why spend (a trillion dollars) for another COIN (counterinsurgency) failure?”
Retired U.S. Adm. James Lyons Jr., who served as commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet from 1985-1987, told G2Bulletin that McInerney’s concern about the possibility of unilateral U.S. action is “Spot on!”
Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely expressed similar concerns to G2Bulletin, concluding Dunford’s comments represent a military invasion by the Obama administration.
“I can’t even see Obama taking any offensive action anywhere like that,” Vallely said.
Vallely is chairman of the non-profit Stand Up America and the private Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, which is looking into the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi.
He said that if there is to be any such military action, it needs to include Egypt, which bombed ISIS locations in Libya after the February 2015 beheading of some 21 Libyan Coptic Christians who were working in the country.
Vallely also thought the Russians could join, especially if asked by Egypt, since Moscow has just concluded a $2 billion military arms deal with Cairo that includes helicopters, fighter jets, Kornet anti-tank weapons, the anti-ballistic missile system Antey-2500 and the Buk-2 surface-to-air missile system.
While France remains in a state of shock over the ISIS terrorist attacks in Paris, they are also most likely confused and disappointed over President Obama’s declaration that there will be no fundamental change to his current policy and strategy to “now contain and defeat ISIS.”
During his Nov. 12 remarks in Antalya, Turkey, Mr. Obama appeared to be petulant and arrogant when responding to legitimate reporter’s questions, perhaps a “crack” in the carefully constructed veneer that has concealed his true character and now has been exposed.
However, on Nov. 17, The New York Times editorial board quickly came to the rescue by declaring that Mr. Obama “hit the right tone” in his remarks.
But his remarks should leave no doubt that he has a far-reaching strategy. That strategy is embedded in his declaration to fundamentally transform America. Actually, the way we are restricting our operations in the Middle East today has its roots in America’s transformation.
Those who say the administration is incompetent — are wrong. With the complicity of our congressional leadership and the mainstream media, the administration has executed their strategy brilliantly.
In order to understand Mr. Obama’s strategy, you first have to understand the threat that has been deliberately distorted. When President Erdogan of Turkey was prime minister, he said it best — Islam is Islam. There are no modifiers, such as violent extremism.
Democracy is the train we ride to achieve our ultimate objective, Mr. Erdogan implied, which is world domination. It must be understood that Islam is a political movement masquerading as a religion. The Islamic movement will seize power as soon as it is able.
No matter how many times “progressives” try to rationalize or accommodate perceived Muslim grievances, the fact remains that Islam has been involved in a struggle for world domination for over 1,400 years.
What the world witnessed in Paris, and certainly here in America on Sept. 11, 2001, was a continuing clash of civilizations between Islam and the Judeo-Christian values of the West.
As the noted historian Samuel P. Huntington implied, Islam is fundamentally incompatible with Western values and cultures.
There can be no peace or co-existence between Islam and non-Islamic societies or their political institutions. Clearly, there must be a reformation of Islam.
Once the Islamic threat has been exposed and understood, then any thinking American should be able to grasp Mr. Obama’s strategy. It is anti-American; anti-Western; but pro-Islamic; pro-Iranian; and pro-Muslim Brotherhood.
This raises the question: Why would an American president with his country’s Judeo-Christian heritage, who professes to be a Christian, embrace Islam? Or for that matter, why would an American president embrace Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, which has been at war with the United States for over 35 years? They have caused the loss of thousands of American civilians and military lives.
Also, why would an American president embrace the Muslim Brotherhood, whose creed is to destroy America from within by our own miserable hands, and replace our Constitution with seventh century Shariah law? They have been able to penetrate all our national security and intelligence agencies. Consequently, they have had a major impact on our foreign and domestic policies as well as the way our military is restricted on fighting our wars.
It is not possible to list all of President Obama’s executive orders and policies that have imposed undue restraints on our military forces and first responders, but illustrative of those are the following:
The unilateral disarmament of our military forces. This makes no sense when we are being challenged throughout the world.
Compounding the unilateral disarmament issue is the social engineering that has been forced on our military to satisfy an ill-advised domestic agenda. It has adversely impacted the military’s moral fiber, unit cohesiveness, integrity and most importantly the “will to win.”
The purging of all our military training manuals that links Islam with terrorism. Our forces are being denied key information that properly defines the threat.
Emasculation of our military capabilities by imposing highly restricted Rules of Engagement. It makes our military look ineffective.
Curtailment of Christianity and its symbols in our military, e.g., restricting the display of the Bible.
Making our military forces in the Middle East either ignore or submit to the atrocities authorized by Shariah law, tribal customs and traditions, e.g. wife beating, stoning, sodomizing young boys.
Unfettered immigration with open borders, plus seeding Muslim immigrants throughout the country.
Shifting sides in the Global War on Terror by supporting al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood militias, and facilitating the removal of all vestiges of secular rulers who were in fact our allies in the war on terror.
When President Obama gave his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University, co-hosted by Al-Azhar University, the center of Sunni doctrine for over 1,000 years, he stated, “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear,” that said it all.
Again, when he spoke at the U.N. on Sept. 25, 2012, after the Benghazi tragedy and stated that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam” — case closed. Andy McCarthy, author and National Review columnist, made a compelling case for Mr. Obama’s impeachment in his book, “Faithless Execution.”
Clearly, the president has exposed where he stands when the issue is Islam versus our Judeo-Christian heritage. Certainly, the case is there to be made for his removal from office for his illegal, unconstitutional and treasonous acts.
James A. Lyons, a U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
Editor’s Note – As we see Obama spin and twist the story about Russia entering the war in Syria as a sign of Russian weakness, he deflects by calling his detractors’ ideas as “half-baked” and “mumbo jumbo”, and apparently he forgot about Hillary Clinton’s idea for a “no-fly” zone.
Major Garret posed that question to him yesterday and his answer called for a quick two-step and then referred to the fact that she being a candidate and being President were two different things.
“Hillary Clinton is not half-baked in terms of her approach to these problems,” Obama said carefully, reminding reporters she served in his administration as Secretary of State. But Obama pointed out that Clinton’s rhetoric on Syria is merely campaign rhetoric.
“I also think that there’s a difference between running for president and being president,” he said carefully, pointing out that he was having specific discussions with his military advisors about the right way forward in Syria. “If and when she’s president, then she’ll make those judgments and she’s been there enough that she knows that, you know, these are tough calls,” he said. (Read more here at Breitbart.)
Classic Obama deflection, or twist in the wind like he has done on almost everything Iraq related, including sticking to old lies and societal memes that have long since been disproved as bunk. But it is not just Obama dancing fast and loose with the facts, it seems every single Democrat is as well. Victor Davis Hanson shows us the proof below and reminds us of the stunning flips and flops, lies and half-truths, and stark regularity you can bank on at a Reno Casino in all likelihood.
The Left would rather forget its old slogan, “Bush lied, thousands died.”
The very mention of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and Iraq was toxic for Republicans by 2005. They wanted to forget about the supposed absence of recently manufactured WMD in great quantities in Iraq; Democrats saw Republican defensiveness as key to their recovery in 2006.
By the time Obama was elected, the issue had been demagogued to death, was no longer of any political utility, and so vanished.
So why all of a sudden is the New York Times strangely focused on old WMD stockpiles showing up in Iraq? Is the subtext perhaps that the rise of ISIS poses an existential threat in such a dangerous landscape (and by extension offers an explanation for the current bombing)?
Or are we to be reminded that Bush stirred up a WMD hornets’ nest that Obama was forced to deal with? Or is the sudden interest intended to preempt the story now before we learn that ISIS routinely employs WMD against the Kurds? How strange that Iraq, WMD, bombing, and preemption reappear in the news, but now without the hysteria of the Bush era.
Indeed, for the last two years, reports of WMD of some sort have popped up weekly in Kurds and Iraq. Bashar Assad has used them, apparently with strategic profit, both in deterring his enemies and in embarrassing the red lines of Barack Obama, who had threatened to bomb him if he dared use them.
ISIS is rumored to have attempted to use mustard gas against the Kurds. Iraqi depots are periodically found, even as they are often dismissed as ossified beyond the point of easy use, or as already calibrated and rendered inert by either U.N. inspectors or U.S. occupation forces. But where did all the WMD come from, and why the sudden fright now about these stockpiles’ being deployed?
For much of the Bush administration we heard from the Left the refrain, “Bush lied, thousands died,” as if the president had cooked intelligence reports to conjure up a nonexistent threat from Saddam Hussein’s stockpiles of WMD — stockpiles that Bill Clinton had insisted until his last days in office posed an existential threat to the United States.
Apparently if a horde of gas shells of 20th-century vintage was found, it was then deemed irrelevant — as if WMD in Iraq could only be defined as huge Iraqi plants turning out 21st-century stockpiles weeks before the invasion.
The smear of Bush was the bookend of another popular canard, the anti-Bush slogan “No blood for oil.” Once the fact that the U.S. did not want Iraqi oil was indisputable, that slander metamorphosed. Almost immediately the Left pivoted and charged that we were not so much oil sinister as oil stupid.
If the Iraqi oil ministry, for the first time in its history, was both acting transparently and selling oil concessions to almost anyone except American companies, it was now cast as typically ungracious in not appreciating the huge American expenditure of blood and treasure that had allowed it such latitude.
Was the Iraq War then a stupid war that helped Russia and the Chinese? Poor Bush ended up not so much sinister as a naïf.
Although we don’t hear much any more about “No blood for oil,” the lie about “Bush lied, thousands died” has never been put to rest.
What was odd about the untruth was not just that Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, and the anti-war street crowd become popular icons through spreading such lies, but that the Democratic party — whose kingpins (Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Harry Reid, et al.) had all given fiery speeches in favor of invading Iraq — refined the slur into an effective 2006 talking point.
That Democrats from Nancy Pelosi to Harry Reid had looked at the same intelligence from CIA Director (and Clinton appointee) George “slam-dunk” Tenet (who authored a self-serving memoir ankle-biting George W. Bush while still in office), and had agreed with Tenet’s assessments, at least until the insurgency destroyed public support for the war, was conveniently forgotten.
The Bush administration did not help much. It never replied to its critics that fear of stockpiled WMD had originally been a Clinton-administration fear, a congressional fear, an international fear — and a legitimate fear.
I suppose that the Bush people wanted the issue of WMD to just go away, given the insurgency raging in Iraq and the effective Democratic campaign to reinvent fear of WMD as a sinister Bush conspiracy. (Do we remember Colin Powell’s U.N. testimony and the years that followed — cf. the Valerie Plame/Richard Armitage fiasco — in which he licked his wounds while harboring anger at his former associates for his own career-ending presentation?)
In sum, the Bush White House certainly did not remind the country that most of the Clinton-era liberal politicians in the 1990s had warned us about Iraqi WMD (do we even remember the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act?).
Nor were we reminded that foreign leaders like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak had predicted mass death for any invaders who challenged Saddam’s WMD arsenal. (“General Franks, you must be very, very careful.
We have spoken with Saddam Hussein. He is a madman. He has WMD — biologicals, actually — and he will use them on your troops.”) Was part of the Bush administration’s WMD conspiracy forcing tens of thousands of U.S. troops to lug about chemical suits and masks in the desert?
No one, of course, noted that the initial success in Iraq also helped shut down Moammar Qaddafi’s WMD program in Libya and pressured the Pakistanis to arrest (for a while) the father of their bomb, Dr. A. Q. Khan. The latter nations apparently feared that the U.S. was considering removing dictators who that they knew had stockpiled WMD.
The current The Iran-Iraq War by Williamson Murray and Kevin Woods is a frightening reminder of how Saddam massacred the Kurds (perhaps well over 150,000 killed), often with gas, and how habitual was Saddam’s use of WMD against the Iranians in that medieval war.
Nor do we remember that James Clapper, in one of his earlier careerist contortions as a Bush-era intelligence officer, along with top-ranking officials in both the Iraqi and Syrian air forces, all warned us that WMD were stealthily transferred to Syria on the eve of the invasion of Iraq.
The dutifully toadyish Clapper added the intensifier adverb “unquestionably” to emphasize his certainty. Clapper, remember, went on to become Obama’s director of national intelligence and a key adviser on much of the current Obama Middle East decision-making, including the near bombing of Syria.*
So there were stocks of at least older WMD throughout Iraq when we arrived in 2003, and it was plausible that many of the newer and more deployable versions somehow found their way into Syria.
So worried was Barack Obama about the likelihood of Syrian WMD that he almost started a preemptive war against Bashar Assad, but without authorization of Congress and with no attempt to go to the U.N., as Bush had done. (Indeed, we are now preemptively bombing Iraq on the basis of the 2002 authorizations that state legislator and memoirist Barack Obama derided at the time.)
There were all sorts of untold amnesias about Iraq. No one remembers the 23 writs that were part of the 2002 authorizations that apparently Obama believes are still in effect.
They included genocide, bounties for suicide bombers, an attempt to kill a former U.S. president, the harboring of terrorists (among them one of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers), and a whole litany of charges that transcended WMD and were utterly unaffected by the latter controversy.
How surreal is it that Obama is preemptively bombing Iraq on twelve-year-old congressional authorizations that he opposed as trumped up and now may be relevant in relationship to dealing with Syrian and Iraqi stockpiles of WMD?
We forget too how Harry Reid declared the surge a failure and the war lost even as it was being won. Or how Barack Obama predicted that the surge would make things worse, before scrubbing such editorializing from his website when the surge worked.
Do we remember those days of General Betray Us (the ad hominem ad that the New York Times, which supposedly will not allow purchased ad hominem ads, granted at a huge discount), and the charges from Hillary Clinton that Petraeus was lying (“suspension of disbelief”)?
As Obama megaphones call for national unity in damning Leon Panetta’s critiques during the present bombing, do we remember the glee with which the Left greeted the tell-all revelations of Paul O’Neill, George Tenet, and Scott McClellan during the tenure of George W. Bush, or how they disparaged the surge when Americans were dying to implement it?
It is hard to recall now the fantasy climate that surrounded “Bush lied, thousands died.” Cindy Sheehan is now utterly forgotten. So mostly is the buffoonish propagandist Michael Moore, except for an occasion tidbit about a nasty divorce and cat fights over his man-of-the-people sizable portfolio — and occasional attacks on Barack Obama’s supposed racial tokenism.
Hillary’s shrill outbursts about Iraq evolved into “What difference, at this point, does it make?” Barack Obama rode his anti-war distortions to the presidency only to adopt his own anti-terrorism protocols and preemptive wars using the Bush-era justifications, but without the candor and congressional authorizations.
The media went from “No blood for oil” and “Bush lied, thousands died” to noting strange discoveries of WMD and trumpeting near energy independence.
The U.S. is now nonchalantly referred to as the world’s largest oil producer, but largely because the Bush administration green-lighted fracking and horizontal drilling, which the present administration opposes and yet cites as one of its singular achievements in terms of lowering gas prices — the one bright spot in an otherwise dismal economic record.
So we live in an era of lies about everything from Benghazi and Obamacare to the alphabet soup of scandal and incompetence at the IRS, ICE, VA, USSS (Secret Service), NSA, GSA, and even the CDC.
But before we can correct the present lies, we should first address the greatest untruth in this collection: “Bush lied, thousands died” was an abject lie.
* Here is an excerpt from the October 2003 New York Times story:
The director of a top American spy agency said Tuesday that he believed that material from Iraq’s illicit weapons program had been transported into Syria and perhaps other countries as part of an effort by the Iraqis to disperse and destroy evidence immediately before the recent war.
The official, James R. Clapper Jr., a retired lieutenant general, said satellite imagery showing a heavy flow of traffic from Iraq into Syria, just before the American invasion in March, led him to believe that illicit weapons material “unquestionably” had been moved out of Iraq.
“I think people below the Saddam Hussein-and-his-sons level saw what was coming and decided the best thing to do was to destroy and disperse,” General Clapper, who leads the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, said at a breakfast with reporters.
By now you must have heard, the Iran deal is done…at least until it goes to Congress. (More on that below)
To start, we at SUA are witnessing what we feared the most – a naive deal has been reached that sets in motion dire times ahead, all on a bet for the Obama/Kerry,Clinton legacy. Russia and Iran have won, and Obama and his P5+1 partners have been ‘owned,’ so have you!
This is an unmitigated display of folly, utter naivete, and could be a cataclysmic failure for world. Obama wanted a legacy?
Well as the saying goes, ‘be careful what you ask for, you might get it’… but in this case, we pay for it, because Obama kicked that can again, and a future President and our country, along with our allies will have to pay dearly for it.
The Iranians and the Russians have once again displayed to the world what many of us already knew, and that Iran, Russia, and others did as well; Obama and team were playing ‘Tiddly Winks’ while the pros were playing ‘Three-dimensional Chess.’
That nuclear arms race will now go into overdrive because the other rich nations in the ME are none to happy, with Obama, and Iran.
A nuclear deal with Tehran, from the Saudi perspective, means two things: Iran will have the ability to improve its economic standing, and the capability to create a nuclear weapon – since the deal will only take effect for a relatively short period of time, 15 years, and will not destroy Iran’s technical capabilities to maintain a nuclear programme.
Both results would strengthen Iran and its allies in the region.
This context of an increasing Iranian influence that thrives on weak central governments and sectarian instability – as seen in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen – is what ISIL capitalises on in its recruitment drive, according to the Saudi view.
The immediate Saudi reaction to the deal will likely include attempts to revive the dual structure of the regional order: Saudi versus Iran, which existed until the Arab uprisings in 2011 led to the formation of a third camp comprised of Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.
This camp and Saudi Arabia both exhausted their resources while competing for regional influence, ultimately benefiting Iran. (Read more at Al Jazeera and here at Yahoo.)
Obama and team, including the P5+1, are ‘trusting the untrustworthy,’ and that is putting it mildly at best – how utterly naive, or worse. Maybe Obama really does want that Caliphate to succeed – not with ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, but with Iran in charge, hmmm? (Read into that what you will.)
They gave away the farm for only a reduction in Iranian advances – ‘can kicked’ – some legacy.
This reckless bet, as Senator Lindsay Graham called it; the sheer insanity of it all, was defended by Obama today. In the release and speech he gave; they declared a victory, and you can view all their graphics and explanations they posted, but critics are tearing them to shreds – rightfully so.
See the White House page on their explanation here, and wait to see how most of it gets debunked for the tripe it truly is – more on that detail to come.
Again, the vast majority of this depends on trusting the Mullahs in Iran. Then there is President Rouhani, the man who just four days ago was at a rally fomenting the crowd on ‘Quds Day’ – “Death to America, death to Israel” in support of the Palestinians.
Obama calls this moment a ‘more hopeful world’ for all. Really? We beg to differ, as do so many who actually understand the whole picture as Obama is trying to apply ‘lipstick on this pig.’
It was only a few weeks ago that Iran surreptitiously acquired more nuclear technology as talks continued – trustworthy? Not on our lives and those of our children and grandchildren. The most vulnerable, and outspoken, are the Israelis…again, rightfully so – ‘one of the darkest days in world history’, we agree.
The deal itself is packed full of capitulations on our side, has no teeth, is unverifiable, and actually walks us and especially Israel closer to full scale war – apocalyptic war is certainly very possible as Iran now has the money to finance its desires. Is this a “Fine ‘new chapter’ or ‘historic mistake’?”
Overcoming decades of hostility, Iran, the United States, and five other world powers struck a historic accord Tuesday to check Tehran’s nuclear efforts short of building a bomb.
The agreement could give Iran access to billions in frozen assets and oil revenue, stave off more U.S. military action in the Middle East and reshape the tumultuous region.
The deal sets in motion a years-long test of Iran’s willingness to keep its promises to the world — and the ability of international inspectors to monitor compliance.
It also sets the White House up for a contentious fight with a wary Congress and more rocky relations with Israel, whose leaders furiously opposed the agreement.
Appealing to skeptics, President Barack Obama declared that the accord “offers an opportunity to move in a new direction. We should seize it.” The AP/Yahoo is calling that question into the fore:
Under terms of the deal, the culmination of 20 months of arduous diplomacy, Iran must dismantle much of its nuclear program in order to secure relief from biting sanctions that have battered its economy.
International inspectors can now press for visits to Iran’s military facilities, though access is not guaranteed. Centrifuges will keep spinning, though in lesser quantities, and uranium can still be enriched, though at lower levels.
In a key compromise, Iran agreed to continuation of the U.N.’s arms embargo on the country for up to five more years and ballistic missile restrictions for up to eight years.
Washington had sought to keep the arms ban in place, while Russia and China joined Iran in pushing for an immediate suspension. (read more here at AP/Yahoo.)
That excerpt does not paint a full picture of the disaster it truly is, and we gave up everything including the ‘kitchen sink’ and got little in return.
But it is not just the nukes. Its also many billions in which to support Assad in Syria, Hezbollah across the globes, and small conventional arms of the highest quality.
Iran will soon be able to legally acquire the most sophisticated weapons to render the Gulf its very own pond. Shipping and military forces will face a lethal threat for just navigating the Gulf, let alone passing through the straits of Hormuz with the ‘big dog’ detterent in its pocket; nukes.
Vladimir Putin enjoys nothing so much as poking the West—and especially, the US—in the eye. But the Iran deal gives Russia tangible winnings, too. The quickest wins are in the prospect of major arms deals: that’s why, of all the so-called P5+1 countries negotiating with Iran, Russia was the most ardent in arguing for the immediate lifting of the UN arms embargo.
Indeed, even before the nuke deal was struck, Moscow was promising delivery of its S-300 missile system to Tehran. Russian oil companies are also limbering up to enter Iran—although they will have stiff competition from the next entry on our list. (Read more here at Quartz.)
It’s not just Russia forcing last minute gains, but also China, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others who are winning along side Iran… Its also the Quds force and its commander, Suleimani who feel the relief of sanctions as well it appears are going by the wayside; never to reemerge.
The Quds force is the arm of the Iranian government that oversees world-wide terror and is in Iraq now, already a breach of the sanctions.
Now we go to the Congress – where the Constitution’s strictures have been turned on their head. Now, instead of a treaty needing a 2/3 vote to pass the Senate, it now takes a full 2/3 of both Houses to nix it – and sustain a sure veto – one that would ensure the deal goes through. Ask Andy McCarthy about how that all working and read his excellent article this morning that came out before the announcement of the deal – how instructive.
Iran is now a responsible member of the Community of Nations – Hell no! Now he has paved a way to fast track this deal to the UN, that is if Conress continues to capitulate as it decries the whole process, but it ties the hands of all future Presidents to put this ‘toothpaste back into the tube’ – World War III?
One could not have created a better ‘Sarajevo moment’ if one tried – beware, here it comes.
Editor’s Note – With the most expensive fighter in history, the F-35, is our Air Force still the dominant force across the globe? Is the F-35 really the leading edge? What about the F-22 Raptor? Is Russia or China that far behind, or are we falling behind?
If you watched the interview Shepard Smith of Fox News had with Chief-of-Staff of the USAF, General Mark A. Welsh III, you would wave flags and declare that, yes, we still are the best and will be ahead of all other air forces for decades to come. (Video of that interview follows the post below by National Review’s Mike Fredenburg.)
In his article, Fredenburg examines the question more deeply; sans the jingoism of Gen. Welsh. Fredenburg is focused on the Russian SU-35 “Flanker” and its capabilities along with our changing fleet of attack fighters, and the rollout of the controversial F-35; the very expensive and technological wonder it is proving to be, or is it?
Not only do we have to answer these question he raises, but we also need to examine the Chinese who boast of their own sueriority they believe they have over the F-35:
China is flexing its newest addition to the country’s growing military fleet, a fourth generation J-31 fighter jet. According to the president of the Chinese company that was commissioned for the project, the J-31 jet can “take down” its American counterpart, the Lockheed Martin F-35.
In an interview with Chinese Central Television, Lin Zuoming, the president of the Aviation Industry Corp. of China, the company that developed the newest jet, is confident the Chinese-developed aircraft can outperform the American version.
“When it takes to the sky, it could definitely take down the F-35,” Lin said. “It’s a certainty.”
But Lin has his sights set on more than just outdoing the F-35. He wants to propel the Chinese company to be global supplier to governments to which the U.S. refuses to sell or those that can’t afford to buy a fleet of F-35 jets, which reportedly cost more than the Chinese models. (Read more here at the International Business Times from last December.)
So just where does the truth lie? Is the USAF selling us ‘rose colored glass’ propaganda, or is Gen. Welsh correct? We hope you read on here and watch that interview at the bottom, especially past the midpoint where he really focuses on the future with the high technology helmets and the F-35.
Also ask yourselves about the Indian Air Force with the SU30 MKI supplied in a joint venture with Russia, and others like Pakistan who we supply with F-104 Starfighter as everyone appears to be gearing up quickly and in great volume. Just who else is selling their fighters? The French are supplying Egypt with the Dussault Rafale…and on it goes.
Can we keep up, especially as expensive as are the F-22s and F-35s? Then ask yourself about who will be supplying whom regarding those countries we will not do business with like Iran, North Korea, and other ne’er-do’wells?
Air supremacy, superiority, or are we kidding ourselves?
What if the World’s Most Expensive Fighter Planes Can’t Defeat Our Enemies?
On April 15, 1953, North Korean Po-2 biplanes strafed a U.S. Army tent on Chodo Island, off the Korean mainland. The attack killed two U.S. servicemen.
Remarkably, that night, more than 60 years ago, was the last time a U.S. soldier lost his life to fire from enemy aircraft. Since the Korean War, U.S. air power has played a critical role in virtually every conflict, and the U.S. has enjoyed near-total air supremacy in every battle it’s fought.
But that streak isn’t going to continue automatically. Despite lavish spending on our air forces; flawed procurement priorities and strategic doctrine, driven by contractors, has put the future of U.S. air power at risk.
Take the new F-22 fighter. It’s the most expensive fighter in the air today, but as a recent story in The National Interest by long-time United States Naval Institute writer Dave Majumdar points out, even its missiles will have a hard time getting past the ability of Russia’s truly fearsome Su-35S Flanker E to jam radars and other sensors.
The F-22 is very stealthy while the Su-35S is not, but a senior U.S. Air Force official tells Majumdar that the F-22 will have a hard time killing the Su-35Ss. These new Flankers are already in service with the Russian Air Force, and independent air analysts see this same plane achieving lopsided kill ratios against the U.S.’s other next-generation fighter, the F-35.
A FLAWED AIR-POWER STRATEGY
How did we end up with such pricey, brand-new fighters being unable to decisively defeat their opponents? United States air-power doctrine after the Korean War has emphasized “beyond visual range” (BVR) engagements. The idea: With sufficiently sophisticated missile technology, we can destroy enemy fighters from more than five miles away, long before the enemy can engage our aircraft.
The cornerstone of BVR technology, large complex radars, required much bigger fighters to handle the aerodynamic challenges that bulky BVR radars present, as well as huge increases in power and cooling requirements. These larger fighters led to skyrocketing acquisition and maintenance costs. With the advent of stealth, the vision was expanded to include destroying enemy planes from behind a cloak, and costs skyrocketed again.
Visions are not always realized, and recent advances in countermeasures, like the capabilities in the Su-35S, are just another chapter in a long history of BVR missiles not living up to the hype. Expecting BVR capabilities to deliver lopsided results against peer competitors now looks more like wishful thinking than a sound strategy.
So why have billions of dollars of investments into BVR capabilities delivered such disappointing results? There are two main causes:
FEAR OF FRIENDLY FIRE
First, identify-friend-or-foe (IFF) technology — systems that enable forces to identify friendly platforms among potential targets — has not been reliable enough to allow our pilots to fire at blips on their radar screen without fear of committing fratricide. In other words, no matter how good our BVR technology, pilots still needed to get within visual distance before taking a shot. Progress has been made in IFF technology, in part because of better capabilities on our support aircraft, but it remains a problem.
CONTRACTORS OVERPROMISE, UNDERDELIVER
The second issue is that BVR missile technology has consistently failed to live up to the promises made by vendors and senior military leadership. On entering Vietnam, military leaders assured Congress that the radar-guided AIM-7 Sparrow carried by the complex and costly F-4 Phantom would give our pilots a 70 percent probability of a kill per missile fired. Instead, the much hyped Raytheon missile ended up with a BVR kill rate of less than 1 percent. Somewhat chastened, senior military leaders were forced to retrofit guns to the F-4 Phantom.
Our cutting-edge missile technology has consistently failed to live up to the promises made by vendors and senior military leadership.
The problems continued after Vietnam. In “Promise and Reality: Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Air-To-Air Combat” a 2005 paper done for the Air War College, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Higby (now General Higby) shows in great detail that from Vietnam up to Desert Storm the billions invested BVR missile technology contributed almost nothing to the United States’ domination of the skies.
Combining data from Israeli and American missions, he finds that out of 632 shots taken with BVR-capable missiles, only four resulted in kills from beyond visual range — a scant 0.6 percent. During this same period, 528 air-to-air kills were made at closer range — 144 with guns and 384 with missiles fired at opponents within visual range.
BVR HAS ALMOST NEVER WORKED
Starting with Desert Storm, there was an uptick in the number of kills achieved using the newer AMRAAM missiles, which are designed for relatively long range kills, but because neither the number of missiles used nor the range at which the BVR-capable missiles notched kills was recorded, it’s hard to reach any firm conclusions.
We do have anecdotal evidence: In 1999, when two MiG-25s violated the no-fly zone over southern Iraq, U.S. fighters fired six of our most sophisticated BVR missiles at them. All six missiles missed and the MiG-25s escaped to fight another day. While pervasive coverage by AWACS surveillance and control planes has given our pilots much better friend-or-foe recognition, allowing more BVR shots to be taken, true BVR kills against competent opponents are rare.
Future battles will continue to involve close-range dogfights — where superior numbers of smaller affordable fighters are better than inferior numbers of heavier, less agile, less reliable BVR-focused fighters.
A 2011 RAND report noted that enemies successfully engaged beyond visible range after 1991 “were fleeing, non-maneuvering, and did not employ countermeasures.” “In Operation Allied Force,” the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, RAND notes, “the Serbian MiG-29s that were shot down did not even have functioning radars.”
In other words, we might now be achieving BVR kills against third-rate vastly outnumbered opponents while enjoying pervasive AWACS coverage. But that is a far cry from getting kills against equally skilled peer competitors in contested air space where we may be outnumbered in terms of both planes and missiles.
Historically, our pilots’ superior skills have allowed our big BVR fighters to dominate dogfights despite their large size, but those same pilots flying smaller, less-expensive fighters would still have dominated. In other words, the billions invested in large expensive BVR-focused planes and missiles, while highly correlated with U.S air dominance, was not the cause of that dominance.
Going forward, assuming huge kill ratios predicated on BVR missile technology looks even less wise: We have no record of successfully using such technology against peer competitors with the training and technology to dramatically reduce BVR missile effectiveness (like, say, the Russians’ Su-35S).
Both the United States and its competitors will continue to make large investments to improve BVR missiles and BVR-missile countermeasures. Since neither effort is likely to gain a decisive advantage, future battles will continue to involve close-range dogfights — where superior numbers of smaller affordable fighters are better than inferior numbers of heavier, less agile, less reliable BVR-focused fighters.
QUANTITY OVER QUALITY
It’s unrealistic to expect heavily outnumbered U.S. planes to consistently take down large numbers of enemy fighters at long ranges. The large technology lead the United States once held over other major air powers has nearly evaporated, and regaining our post-WWII lead is well-nigh impossible.
Moreover, other air powers have studied and adopted U.S pilot-training methods, and that gap, once large, has narrowed as well. In 2004, for instance, U.S. F-15 pilots were unpleasantly surprised to find themselves on the wrong side of a 9-to-1 loss ratio in exercises with Indian Air Force pilots flying Russian-designed planes, including small but formidable MiG-21s. We should plan on Chinese and Russian pilots being equally competent.
There are other major problems with large BVR fighters. One such problem is that the cost per hour to fly them is now so great that some of our pilots are only getting about ten hours per month of actual flight time — not nearly enough to maintain superior skills. Further, these fighters’ huge maintenance requirements mean they spend less time in the air than other aircraft.
The F-22 and F-15 can fly far fewer sorties per day than smaller, more reliable fighters such as the F-16. In other words: Large, higher priced, maintenance-intensive BVR-focused planes will often end up delivering less sustained combat power.
STEALTH: ANOTHER PRICEY, UNPROVEN INVESTMENT
BVR’s kissing cousin, stealth, is also not the silver bullet it was portrayed to be 20-plus years ago, when development began on the Joint Strike Fighter (the F-35). In fact, counter-stealth technology is advancing and proliferating much more quickly than stealth technology. Recognizing this, the U.S. Navy is wisely hedging its bets by not being too reliant on stealth.
Earlier this year, chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert noted the inevitable limits of stealth: “Let’s face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules, and puts out heat — I don’t care how cool the engine can be, it’s going to be detectable.”
With the rapid proliferation of integrated air defenses capable of seeing and targeting stealthy airplanes, the decades-old vision of flying into the teeth of the integrated air defenses of our top competitors and attacking them with impunity is a fast-fading fantasy. A modest premium for cost-effective stealth probably makes sense, but a huge premium for maintenance-intensive stealth doesn’t.
Mathematical battle models, such as the Lanchester-square model, show numerical superiority rapidly swamps quality, meaning larger forces of less-capable planes can sweep opposing forces from the sky while suffering surprisingly small losses. And there’s certainly a good chance we’ll be facing more-numerous forces: Scenarios for defending Taiwan, for instance, have our pilots going up against Chinese pilots that could outnumber us by three to ten times.
The RAND Corporation has done an instructive analysis: Even assuming we have unhittable planes with perfectly accurate missiles and opponents lining up to be shot down like sitting ducks, our forces cede airspace control over Taiwan to China while taking crippling losses in terms of support aircraft. More realistic assumptions have us losing many of our F-22s as well.
Being on the wrong side of projections for these kind of scenarios is a bad place to be for our pilots. Getting to the right side of the equation will not be achieved by the fielding small numbers of $200-million-plus fighters whose core capabilities are inferior to most advanced fighters.
FANCIER TECH DOESN’T ALWAYS WIN
Advanced technology will always play a critical role in ensuring the success of our fighter aircraft, but we should also remember that quantity, tactics, and training can overcome technology. Ultimately, trying to maintain air-power dominance built on bleeding-edge technology that busts the budget, takes forever to develop, and delivers severely diminishing returns is a losing strategy in a world where technology rapidly diffuses.
Better reliability, while not sexy, facilitates more sorties, puts more planes in the air, and enables better pilot training. In a world where firing up powerful active sensors makes you a target, it might make sense to field smaller fighters that rely more on networked, passive sensors. Traditional fighter performance metrics such as instantaneous turn rate, sustained turn rate, and thrust-to-weight ratio still matter.
Our air-superiority fighters need to deliver unparalleled performance in the air, and they’re not. The USAF even acknowledges that the backbone of our future fighter corps, the F-35, isn’t designed to be an air-superiority fighter. Yet, along with air-superiority missions, the Air Force is counting on this strike fighter to perform close air-support missions that the inexpensive A-10 already does so much better.
These compromises aren’t necessary. For the cost of one F-35, we can buy several air-superiority and close–air-support planes that will deliver far more bang for the buck. Sadly, contractors and top military brass gravitate to the fanciest, most expensive fighters possible with little regard for affordability and maintainability. It’s time to bring back the procurement discipline necessary to buy fighters with the right mix of capabilities and cost.
That kind of strategy will allow us to field them in the numbers needed to maintain the air dominance our armed forces have been able to count on for the past 60 years.
Mike Fredenburg is a past contributor to National Review, the California Political Review, and the San Diego Union Tribune, and was the founding president of the Adam Smith Institute of San Diego, a conservative think tank and PAC.
Fox News interview with Gen. Welsh, USAF Chief-of-Staff by Shepard Smith:
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