“Airmen Will Be There”

A “Marine veteran of Iraq” in an April 21 op-ed in the New York Times called for the dissolution of the Air Force. Paul Kane, who served as a Marine Corps Reserve public affairs specialist, wrote that Defense Secretary Robert Gates hadn’t gone far enough with budget cuts meant to reshape the US military and suggested “the Air Force should be eliminated” because it is not “at war” like the other services. Responding in an April 23 Letter to the Editor, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz writes: “Mr. Kane’s conclusion dismisses more than 71 percent of the 330,000 active-duty airmen, who along with their Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve teammates, have deployed since 2001. These warriors directly execute and support combat operations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Schwartz goes on: “The Air Force routinely responds rapidly to urgent calls from ground forces in dire circumstances. … We proudly secure our nation’s skies and our sister services from attack, any time and any place. Airmen will be there when America needs them.” The Times also carries a response from Air Force Association President Mike Dunn, who writes: “We fought this battle in the 1940s, and learned that an independent Air Force was vital to national security. … The Air Force is in the fight. Airmen are fighting on the ground, from the skies and from space.”