Washington Watch

Dec. 1, 2005

The Mark of Moseley

The new Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, wants to make “interdependency” of the armed services the central theme of his tenure.

Moseley, speaking in October at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., said the Air Force and its sister branches have long since figured out how to deconflict their operations. The new challenge, he said, is achieving complete integration of service efforts.

“We’ve truly evolved beyond just staying out of each other’s way,” Moseley asserted, noting that the military branches showed they could do that in the Gulf War in 1991. Now, the trick will be for the services to eliminate “redundancies” among themselves and accept being dependent on each other for certain missions.

Moseley said he’s perfectly happy to share missions—and even individual aircraft—with the other services, provided the mission is accomplished more efficiently and effectively.

He wouldn’t mind if a Global Hawk reconnaissance UAS has “Air Force” painted on one side and “Navy” on the other. He also said he is not opposed to partnering with the Army on a new small cargo aircraft to support special operations forces far afield.

“It doesn’t bother me at all,” said the Chief.

Moseley went on to say that “it makes perfect sense” to build more of these interdependencies with the land, sea, and special operations force components. Said Moseley, “We have lots and lots of data to show this is the right way to do it.”

Achieving interdependency “really matters to me,” Moseley insisted. One reason, it seems, is that the Air Force and all of the services are in for a long, grueling war with terrorists.

The Air Force is more combat experienced than it has been at any time since World War II, Moseley asserted, noting that Air Force people have continuously been at war since Operation Desert Shield began in August 1990. He sees no letup in the future.

“It is my sense we will be in a Global War on Terrorism for our lifetime,” he added, although he said the conflict will probably “ebb and flow” in the years to come. As it does, the constellation of partners and coalition allies with which the Air Force works will shift, he said.

Moseley also said that today’s Air Force members are accustomed to both the expeditionary mind-set and to doing jobs not traditionally performed by the service.

He noted that fully 80 percent of those now on active duty joined the service after the end of the Cold War. The Air Force has been an expeditionary outfit for the entire careers of these airmen. Moreover, Moseley noted, 40 percent of active USAF troops have joined up since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. That means that enlistees today “know exactly what they’re getting into,” said Moseley, and they aren’t surprised to find themselves driving Army trucks or guarding an Army base.

“This is what we do,” he said.

Some Other Moseley Marks

During his appearance at the American Enterprise Institute, Moseley laid down several other important markers.

Moseley wants to reshape the intelligence career field within the service. He also warned that he is inclined to terminate programs whose costs won’t stop climbing.

Intelligence is an “incredible” force multiplier, Moseley said, and he plans to enlarge and reinvigorate the Air Force’s personnel structure in this field.

“I believe we do not have enough intel players,” Moseley said, adding that he wants to increase the force among both the active and reserve components and civilians. He’s also concerned that the Air Force’s intel specialists may not have “the right skill sets” for prosecuting the Global War on Terrorism, and he’s set up a panel to scrutinize the training and specialization of the intelligence cadre in the coming months.

The Chief of Staff said he is down on acquisition programs whose costs continue to rise “exponentially” with no end in sight, and he’s willing to cancel programs if they can’t be brought under control financially.

While Moseley didn’t name any programs in particular, he acknowledged that some space programs fit the bill. If a program shows no sign that its cost can be managed, his impulse will be to “kill it,” he said.

Domestic Roles for Troops

Various “lessons learned” reviews now under way in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are pointing to a bigger military role in responding to natural disasters, not only in terms of direct operations but in planning.

However, there seems to be some differences of opinion within the military services over the role federal forces should play in disaster response without being summoned by local authorities.

President Bush started the buzz about an expanded domestic role for the military in September, when he lauded the military response to Hurricane Katrina.

In his Sept. 15 address to the nation from hurricane-stricken New Orleans, Bush said, “A challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces.”

Then, in October, Bush suggested the military might take a leading role in responding to a flu pandemic. The military, he said, with its ability to “plan and move” might be the best solution to effecting quarantines.

“That’s why I put it on the table. I think it’s an important debate for Congress to have,” Bush said. Congress should examine whether to “vest the capacity of the President to move beyond” existing laws requiring local authorities to request federal military assistance before active duty forces can enter a disaster zone, he added.

The existing law, known as “posse comitatus” (Latin for “power of the country”), prohibits the use of federal troops for law enforcement unless the President invokes the Insurrection Act, which allows the use of federal troops to restore order should local authorities be completely incapacitated.

The Administration was criticized for not moving faster to rush to the aid of New Orleans. The city was quickly set upon by looters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Bush has countered that federal forces were not requested by the Louisiana government.

However, the Defense Department apparently is not considering asking for a change in posse comitatus. Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) issued a statement in October that he had met with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and had been assured that DOD seeks no change in the law. As part of its ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon is considering the right mix of active duty and reserve forces that would be appropriate for disaster response.

That mix would probably favor the reserve components, according to Paul McHale, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense.

In a meeting with defense reporters in October, McHale reported that US Northern Command is examining whether it needs to overhaul its disaster response plans.

There is a classified plan in place that calls for a military response to “multiple, near-simultaneous terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction within the United States,” McHale said.

He said that Adm. Timothy J. Keating, head of NORTHCOM, “is looking at an ability to build upon that immediate response capability in order to have a greater number of general utility forces available and trained to respond” to catastrophic events like Katrina, McHale said.

According to the New York Times, Keating has drafted a plan that would establish a quick-response active duty force trained and ready to assist the reserve components in disaster response but in a supporting role. The force would comprise specialists in logistics, communications, medicine, and infantry operations. It would not trip posse comitatus because the organization would be subordinate to Guard units. However, the Times report said the plan had not been briefed to Rumsfeld as of Oct. 11.

The lead military agency for disaster intervention should be the Guard and Reserve, McHale added. Guard units, for example, are “forward deployed” to the states in question and are better suited, through their local knowledge, to be the military “first responders.” The Guard took the lead in dealing with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and did a great job, McHale said. The operation was the opposite of the response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, when it was the active component that took the lead, he noted. The response to Katrina was much faster and comprehensive than was the case for Andrew, he asserted.

McHale emphasized that active forces should only take the lead in responding to a disaster when the event is truly “catastrophic,” i.e., of a scale that occurs only “once or twice in a generation.” Katrina, he argued, was “a pretty rare event.” The Guard and Reserve will be better able to take the lead in handling the 50 or so storms or other natural calamities that typically take place in a year, he said, with the active forces taking a supporting role.

However, he acknowledged that “the roles, missions, and authorities of DOD in responding to catastrophic events need to be examined.”

Sen. Carl Levin (Mich.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters in Washington on Oct. 5 that he sympathizes with the military about the specter of having to cope with yet another new duty.

Levin said, “I haven’t heard directly from the people at the Pentagon, but I can imagine how they feel. They feel that the number of missions they have already is more than enough to keep them busy, and I think that’s true.”

The Levin Report

The ongoing cost of fighting the war in Iraq, coupled with unexpected large cash outlays for disaster relief and reconstruction, mean major Air Force aircraft programs could be trimmed or postponed, but probably not canceled, according to Levin.

Levin, speaking with reporters in Washington in October, said “there’s going to be some real pressure” on the F/A-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter projects “and on a lot of other programs” due to budgets being tighter even than they were expected to be last year.

However, Levin said, he doesn’t anticipate either the F/A-22 or the F-35 being canceled.

Of the F/A-22, he said, “It’s hard to see that one being reduced any more. If anything, the Air Force pressure is to increase back to the number they were hoping for and planning on.” The Air Force has a stated requirement for 381 F/A-22s, but could have afforded about 270 under budget plans prior to Fiscal 2005. Last December, senior defense leaders slashed the program to 179 airplanes.

However, Levin said the F-35, still in development, could be “reduced or delayed, which it already has been.” The program underwent a year’s slip and a significant cost increase last year.

Levin added that the F-35 might be “delayed further, perhaps to pay for the F/A-22.”

Another key Air Force requirement, a replacement for the KC-135 tankers, might also be postponed, Levin said.

“It may be that we can get along without [new] tankers for a longer period,” Levin said. He noted that the Air Force’s tanker alternatives study was still under way and would “determine the condition of the existing tankers” as well as “whether or not, in fact, we need to move the tanker as quickly as was asked for.”

Asked what might be the long-term effects on the armed forces due to the ongoing war in Iraq, Levin said the military has been “overstretched, and particularly when it comes to the National Guard and Reserve forces, I think there’s a significant morale issue among the families, the members themselves, and their employers.”

The Cluster Bomb Trap

The Pentagon is confronting a serious problem that threatens to undermine the US in its air battles: what to do about cluster bombs. So said the Defense Science Board in September.

In a report on munitions system reliability, a DSB task force said the Pentagon isn’t taking seriously enough the issue of cluster, or area, munitions, particularly those that don’t explode and create what are essentially minefields. These minefields mean ghastly problems for local populations after the fighting is over and also hinder US ground force movements if they must enter the area.

The DSB panel, chaired by retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Israel, charged the Defense Department with a “lack of focus” on the problem and found “no comprehensive approach” to either assessing the reliability of munitions or figuring out what to do with the large stockpile on hand.

It would cost billions to upgrade the sizable inventory of cluster munitions such that unexploded ordnance could be found or remotely detonated later; at the same time, it would cost just as many billions to try to locate and clear such virtual minefields after a conflict.

The intense emphasis on limiting collateral damage and civilian casualties in recent wars makes the issue one of paramount importance, the DSB said.

Future problems could be mitigated if new delivery systems were fitted with highly precise seekers, such as the Air Force’s Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispenser, the task force found. Accuracy would limit the number of weapons needed and confine the danger area from unexploded ordnance, or UXO.

However, the DSB panel found that “funding for munitions research and development is chronically inadequate,” and the existing data available on the accuracy and reliability of munitions is “inconsistent, largely anecdotal, and often from questionable sources.” There is “no comprehensive approach” at DOD for addressing the issue, the task force said.

The panel recommended an expansion of munitions testing in realistic environments and the development of tools to share such data among the services. It also suggested creating a “munitions expenditure database”—a catalog of where bombs of all types have been dropped—to aid in later UXO disarming operations.

The panel suggested greater investment in new technologies, such as “ultrareliable fuze development,” and that DOD should have new systems in place by 2008. It wants more joint weapon programs in order to achieve “critical mass” in funding of new technologies. Such technologies would include radio frequency “identification tags” that would help post-conflict cleanup crews to find and identify UXO.

A new family of more precise, reliable area munitions should be created, the panel recommended. Furthermore, the Pentagon should coordinate with industry to establish just how much business in the field there will be, so as not to keep an unhealthy and inefficient number of companies vying for the work.