Jan. 1, 2012

Loss of Continuity

I was surprised to see some of the comments in your article about NEADS in “Airmen on 9/11” in the September issue [p. 50]. According to the article, “[NEADS] had not trained for what unfolded on 9/11” and “the idea of turning an aircraft into a weapon had not yet infiltrated military doctrine.” Col. Dawne Deskins, who had been a major at NEADS on 9/11, was quoted as saying, “The hijacked mindset back then would have been that they’re going to land the plane [and] they’re going to have some sort of demands. So it was really an escort-type role that we would be in.”

I was assigned to NEADS as the chief of plans with additional duty as a fighter duty officer from 1992 to 1995. Our exercise scenarios of the time commonly included not only hijackings but also hijackers threatening to take civilian airliners into important military and civilian buildings. We would additionally exercise obtaining permission from higher authority to shoot down those airliners to minimize loss of life on the ground. I can assure you that our scenarios went far beyond just an “escort-type role.”

If Colonel Deskins’ information is correct, then it seems that a considerable loss of continuity occurred at NEADS sometime between 1995 and 2001. If NEADS did stop exercising those aircraft weapon/airliner shootdown scenarios, we should be asking why.

Col. Glenn Altschuld,

USAF (Ret.)

Hanover, Md.

“Are You Kidding Me?!”

It appears that the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference was a success once again, and I tip my hat to all the award winners and recipients [“Air Force Association National Awards 2011,” November, p. 76]. But it pained me to see that of all the awards given at the conference, only two were “not awarded for 2011.” Stealing a line from a current NFL pregame show: “Are you kidding me?!” The Air National Guard did not select an ANG unit for the Earl T. Ricks Award (unit airmanship) or select one outstanding civilian employer for the George W. Bush Award, Enlisted. How embarrassing! Air National Guardsmen the world over have flown, fought, sacrificed, and died in combat, and the Air National Guard doesn’t take the time or make the effort to highlight one unit or one civilian employer at a national conference?

Next year’s selection committee must read “The Teeth of Bulldog Bite” [November, p. 40] by Mike Dunham. The exploits of my fellow Alaskan Air National Guardsmen made me swell with pride. Those men are heroes!

Col. J. R. Dallas,

USAF (Ret.)

Fort Smith, Ark.

Death on Call

As I read the article “Once More Unto the Breach” [October, p. 26], I couldn’t help but reflect on all of the battlefield airmen who put their lives on the line each day in order to provide air strike capability to our Army brethren. I am a first sergeant for the 15th Air Support Operations Squadron, a tactical air control party (TACP) unit based at Fort Stewart, Ga. In short, TACPs provide precision terminal attack guidance of fixed- and rotary-wing close air support aircraft, artillery, and naval gunfire to ground forces.

I have had the benefit of witnessing the selfless heroism during my recent deployment with TACPs to Afghanistan in support of OEF.

I can tell you firsthand that American heroes like Staff Sergeant Gutierrez and TACP airmen are not seeking recognition or reward for their actions; rather they are merely doing the job that the Air Force trained them to do—and that is protecting their fellow airmen and soldiers with precision guided air strike capability, “Death on Call.”

MSgt. Mike Hill

Fort Stewart, Ga.

The Bear Went Over the Mountain

No one writes better copy on historical and operationally difficult topics than John Correll. His article in the November Air Force Magazine, “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” [p. 54], was superb! I realize that a lot has transpired since the Soviets entered Afghanistan more than 30 years ago. The players on the ground have changed. Technology driving warfighting capabilities has changed. The political landscape has changed. However, I just can’t help thinking about that old bromide: Those who don’t learn from their history are doomed to repeat it. As we begin to draw down American forces in Afghanistan, and ultimately pull them out, I can’t help but wonder what we will have achieved. I realize that we won’t know for several years after we leave. However, I am skeptical that we will have achieved many of our original hoped-for objectives. I am concerned that the price we paid in blood and treasure will not have been worth it. I truly hope that future events prove me wrong.

Col. Gene Townsend,

USAF (Ret.)

San Antonio

Let’s Not Revise History

In a November letter, Michael Gallagher contends that the strategic bombing campaign in Europe was a failure [“Letters: Actually, It Was a Failure,” p. 7]. Phillip Meilinger’s October article on the USSBS clearly shows this is false, because the US bombing campaign destroyed the German fuel and transportation systems. Bombing had cascading, cataclysmic effects on the German economy and also significantly reduced the Wehrmacht’s military capabilities. Gallagher also claims that destroying the Luftwaffe was “not one of the central objectives” of the bombing campaign. In fact, the Pointblank directive of June 1943 made the destruction of the Luftwaffe the No. 1 priority for Eighth Air Force.

Finally, Gallagher argues that the “wanton bombing of cities bordered on a war crime.” Again, this is untrue. Wanton city bombing was not the doctrine or the intention of Eighth Air Force, but even Royal Air Force area bombing was not a war crime, according to the standards of the time. Geneva Convention protections for civilians were adopted in 1949, but no agreement, treaty, convention, or other instrument protected civilian populations or property during World War II. It is senseless to criticize the men of 1945 for failing to uphold the standards of 2011.

James Perry

Reston, Va.

The Rust Bust

General McKinley’s comments regarding Air Guard aging fleet trouble me [“Verbatim: Air Guard Worries,” October, p. 36]. His comments simply do not strike deeply enough into the heart of the problem, nor bring the weight that someone in his position can bring to bear on the subject. In June 2009, a study by LMI Inc. estimated the cost of corrosion prevention activities in the United States Air Force for aircraft and weapons systems was $5.4 billion. This did not include the additional costs for the same corrosion prevention activities on Air Force equipment and infrastructure or F-22 maintenance. This is an astronomical operating cost and one that obviously everyone from the President on down knows cannot be sustained.

Despite the fact that the fleet of USAF is smaller than ever, the cost of corrosion is growing due to aircraft age. Today we have 2,600 fewer airframes than in 1990, yet we are involved in more missions than ever. Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford testified in 2010 before an Armed Services subcommittee that in August 2009, USAF marked 21 continuous years of combat operations. Former USAF Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, while testifying before Congress regarding the readiness of the C-130 fleet, said, “We are fighting a global war while operating the oldest inventory of aircraft in USAF’s history.”

With every aircraft’s increasing age comes an increased problem with aircraft availability. The older a plane becomes, the harder it is to get it going and keep it going. Older aircraft are more susceptible to widespread fatigue, corrosion, and overall damage, with all the associated availability and safety risks that involves. The repair and sustainment costs for these aircraft are increasing exponentially as parts become more difficult to source and environmental constraints force the use of incompatible prevention compounds. As far as these airframes are concerned, they have been going to war on a daily basis for decades; 88 percent of the tanker fleet alone was built during the Kennedy Administration. Even so, these airframes are expected to stay in service beyond 2040.

For the past few years, USAF, in conjunction with the other services, has made tremendous efforts to combat the corrosion issue while operating with limited resources. One readily available and highly effective method to combating this servicewide systemic problem is an appropriately funded Air Force Corrosion Prevention and Control Office (AFCPCO), without which the cost of corrosion will continue to rise, slowing fleet recapitalization, reducing aircraft availability, and increasing flight safety risks.

The AFCPCO can keep General McKinley’s aircraft flying, but not without an office that is supported in both manpower and funding from all its stakeholders!

JaLynn Hudnall

Warner Robins, Ga.

On a Clear Day

Retired Lt. Col. Donald L. Gilleland pointed out that the article [“USAF and the UFOs.” June, p. 68] does not focus on any new ground, and stated the facts about thousands of sightings and why [he] is not ready to believe [“Letters: Maybe We’ll Get There First,” August, p. 7].

Sorry, neighbors, but I am a believer. I know that there is a lot of material out there about German development of anti-gravity machines that came along too late during World War II. I know that we cannot explain caveman drawings that look very much like present-day sightings. I have to admit, though, that I had the privilege of seeing a UFO on a clear day passing overhead at Cass Lake, Mich. Slowly at about 300 feet, totally silent, and not a weather balloon, it was marvelous.

It is true that by now, 64 years after Roswell, the craft could be a product of our own with the help of faraway friends, or the continued development of something taken after the war. In view of Hollywood films with the terrible depictions of aliens, [a sighting] would make anyone hesitate, if not come to a screeching halt.

Since my wonderful experience, it has been my hobby to read about the subject from qualified, high-ranking individuals who are not in need of cheap tabloid publicity. After retirement, a lot of people say interesting things. Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, also General Twining, astronauts Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Col. Gordon Cooper spoke words of wisdom.

When high-ranking individuals talk, are they also part of the UFO cover-up? Lt. Col. Donald Gilleland stated that there were no really good photographs of the visitors. I can only say that George Adamski seems to have had all the clear moving pictures one would need.

U. Stephen Antos

Hollidaysburg, Pa.