I was again pleased to see John Correll’s exceptional talents on display in his article, “The Assault on EBO,” in the January Air Force Magazine [p. 50]. He’s done an excellent job of auditing the EBO journey, deftly assigning blame and credit where due. I would humbly suggest two additional takeaways from his discussion.
First, the haphazard development and eventual corruption of the EBO concept points to a dangerous lack of discipline in doctrine development. I attribute this lack of discipline to the diminished responsibility and authority of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the post-Goldwater-Nichols environment. No single senior officer should be able to unilaterally and successfully declare a concept null and void. No single officer possesses the breadth of experience, education, and cross-functional expertise to ensure the wisdom of such a declaration.
Second, our focus on the battlefield application of EBO overlooks its most valuable application—at the policy level. EBO’s fundamental assumption is that government sponsored or initiated actions toward an adversary or potential adversary, to include diplomatic, information, military, and economic activities, should be envisioned, planned, and conducted with a clear mutual understanding of the desired effect.
From a military perspective, would it not seem logical to demand a clear articulation of the desired political outcome (the effect) prior to the application of military force? And, should the development of that articulation not include serious dialogue with the military experts who create the nation’s military forces? Such a dialogue might reveal that desired effects are simply militarily unachievable, or that the costs are simply not worth the effect. Such a dialogue might also reveal that an alternative, but suitable, effect is militarily achievable. If the dialogue includes the entire spectrum of military expertise and capabilities, it might reveal an alternative military approach. In any case, given that lives are always at stake, it is difficult to argue against the wisdom of the dialogue.
But then there is the problem of the “military experts.” Unfortunately, the lack of serious attention to the development of corporate military wisdom by the JCS has left a serious vacuum in which one can forum-shop among various military experts for the advice or views one seeks.
Prior to the 1986 Defense Reorganization Act, the Joint Chiefs were responsible for “corporate” military advice. Corporate means the involvement of the group as a whole. The service Chiefs were charged with a primary responsibility as members of the JCS and were, for the most part, included in the larger national security dialogue. They were not only responsible for their separate services but also for bringing their respective specialized expertise, capabilities, and experiences to bear on national security problems. The process demanded each of the Chiefs’ informed engagement in the national security dialogue. In the post G-N environment, their focus has shifted more internally to their “organize, train, and equip” responsibilities. Those parts of their staffs, previously devoted to monitoring and shaping the larger issues of national military strategy and regional security planning, keeping their respective Chiefs informed, have been diminished or shifted to service budgeting and programming activities. The Chiefs, as presently constituted, may not be capable of exerting an informed influence on national security planning and strategy. But they could be.
Many of us shared General Mattis’ frustration with the current state of concept development. Too many independent entities have been permitted, even encouraged, to engage in “concept development” without real joint oversight. Joint competence is not the province of any single service or joint staff. Joint competence rests solely on the orderly integration of the specialized contributions and diverse perspectives of the contributing services. It is precisely the province of the corporate body of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and until the process is revised to ensure disciplined oversight by that corporate body, it will remain vulnerable to the host of independent entities presently muddying the waters.
Maj. Gen. Charles D. Link,
Fairfax Station, Va.
The Fog of War
Kudos to Colonel Meilinger for his superb article on the history of fratricide in the January issue [“Fratricide, “p. 68]. As always, Colonel Meilinger handled a delicate subject with forthrightness and a careful attention to historical detail. Other than unintentionally killing or wounding noncombatants, there is no greater tragedy that can befall any warrior than the accidental destruction of a comrade-in-arms.
As the effective lethality of modern weaponry has increased, the possibility that a misidentified target will result in catastrophic friendly or civilian casualties has also risen. Certainly the rise of conflicts where differentiating the armed enemy actor from the innocent noncombatant has become problematic, increasing the potential for battlefield errors.
While military members come under intense scrutiny when such incidents occur, investigations usually suggest that the “trigger pullers” were, in most cases, diligently attempting to assist comrades in extremis or attempting to defend themselves against what they perceived as a potential deadly threat. Anyone who has ever had to “raise a weapon in anger” has probably had a close call or two.
While improved targeting intelligence, advanced weapons technology, training, and discipline all play a part in an effort to reduce “collateral damage,” no serious student of warfare can really expect the elimination of fratricide. We can only hope to limit the impact “the fog” has on other “friendlies” and noncombatants.
I did want to point out one, likely typesetting, error in the piece. The Black Hawk shootdown over northern Iraq, during Operation Provide Comfort, by a pair of USAFE-based F-1 5s occurred in April 1994 (not 1984) and resulted in multiple investigations (and the accompanying recriminations) for years afterward. The US government finally paid compensation to the families of the victims in 1999.
Col. Thomas D. DiSilverio,
Colorado Springs, Cob.
LeMay the Lady Charmer
Lawrence Spinetta quotes Gen. Curtis E. LeMay’s biographer Warren Kozak describing the general as “dark, brooding and forbidding,” as one who “rarely smiled,” and whose “words seemed to come out in a snarl” [“White vs. LeMay: The Battle Over Ballistic Missiles,” January, p. 56]. On the contrary, when I met LeMay at a reception for National Geographic sponsors at the official residence of Ambassador Nicholas Veliotes and his wife, Patricia, in Amman, Jordan, in 1979, he was charming, gracious, animated, and modest.
At the time, my husband, Bill, was assigned as the USAF air attaché in Amman. General LeMay listened intently to and complimented my casual summary of the aspects of a Jordanian archaeological model on display for the guests, so I made a point of engaging him in conversation. I told him how my master sergeant father had regaled me with tales of the heroes of World War II and that he was at the top of the list for “rescuing SAC.” I recall him commenting that he was “surprised anyone remembered
We continued in animated conversation, even laughing about some of his encounters with his old World War II colleagues, until his wife, Helen, noticed. Perhaps she thought the old gentleman was boring me or monopolizing the conversation. She walked across the patio to us, leaned into me, and joked, “Don’t believe a thing the old fart says.”
That is certainly not the response of a wife who thought her husband “could sit through the entire meal and not utter a single syllable” or who was “surly” or” tactless.” For me, this mesmerizing encounter with one of my heroes gave me a better understanding of why those
under LeMay’s command, and soldiers like my father, not only respected but loved the general. God rest their souls.
Sharon E. Hockensmith
I noted with interest and fond memories the article regarding Gen. Thomas D. White and his running conflict with Gen. Curtis E. LeMay surrounding the future role of our Air Force. It is quite obvious that LeMay had very little patience and or respect for those not behind the yoke of an airplane—and especially those in the bomber class.
It was my good fortune to beat Albrook AFB, Canal Zone, in 1953, when White decided that he wanted to take on the fish in the Bay of Panama. My good friend and fellow “Canal Zone brat,” Lt. James Brooks Coman Jr., who at the time was the base motor pool officer, was asked to plan for White’s upcoming visit and his desire to spend some time on his “personal passion” of fishing. Having some connections with locals in the fishing out in the Bay of Panama I was able to assist Coman in the planning for General White and his time spent in the “fishing hole,” which in Panama stands for “abundance of fish.”
Cannot recall who won the contest, the fish or the general, but do recall being helpful with Coman in his quest to prepare for the soon-to-be Chief of Staff Gen. Thomas D. White and his passion for fishing.
CMSgt. John E. Schmidt Jr.,
It seems to me that recently some of our authors have done their best to batter the name of Gen. Curtis E. LeMay. Spinetta quotes another recent work, the Neil Sheehan Fiery Peace in a Cold War biography of Gen. Bernard A. Schriever. Sheehan had many unkind things to say about LeMay in his work, too. General LeMay had enemies, probably because he was always direct and to the point. He was not a statesman or a politician—he was a great wartime leader. And we were at war all during his leadership—the Cold War. During my 30-year career, most of it in ballistic missiles, I had the honor of spending time with both Schriever and LeMay. During my year at Air War College, General LeMay spent an entire week with us, not only on the stage discussing leadership, but every day at lunch with a small group of us who could ask any question. Yes, he was a “bomber general,” and he was not a proponent of the new ballistic missiles during the early days, but he came fully on board as the systems developed. Like any good soldier, as we were taught in his day and mine, we could object and argue up to the point that a decision was made, and if we lost, we saluted, fell in line, and supported our bosses and the decision.
In the final chapter of his autobiography, Mission With LeMay, he stated, “There’s one thing the public has had a hard time recognizing. That is the fact that I am in complete agreement with the need for an effective ballistic missile force as an important element of our deterrent posture. A secure ICBM system, in concert with other survivable strategic forces, would provide the strongest influence on the USSR to refrain from any attack on population centers of the United States.” There is quite a lot about his philosophy on the ICBM force in his book, and many of us who were part of that force in the developing days fully understood his stance.
One of the concerns he voiced in the book was the difficulty in assessing the performance of a ballistic missile. He commented on the fact that one could fly a bomber for thousands of hours to gather reliability and performance data. On the other hand, each test of a ballistic missile was a one-way mission and very expensive. Every test required the destruction of one of our missile assets. In defense of the manned bomber force, he did say, “In my judgment, a strategic force posture which placed sole or principal reliance on ballistic missiles would deny to our future leadership the ability to respond in a flexible manner to a wide range of minor provocations.” Today, we are still having that argument, about the need for a triad instead of a single system or a dyad.
During the development of the Atlas and Titan, LeMay got very involved. Retired Lt. Gen. Harry E. Goldsworthy spelled it out in the September 1982 issue of Aerospace Historian. He said, in a review of the delayed construction status or our new missile sites, “This was the situation that led Gen. Curtis LeMay, Air Force vice chief of staff, to tour the missile sites in June 1960. He did not like what he found. It was obvious to him that the magnitude of the site activation project had been grossly underestimated. About 80 percent of the program cost came from activation of missile bases. Yet, although five years were allowed for missile development, the base builders got two.
“But of greater concern to General LeMay, with his penchant for direct action was that he found management a hydra-headed monster…. He wanted one man that he could look in the eye and say, ‘You are responsible. Get it done.’ He took prompt and decisive action. On 9 July, he directed that there be a single manager at each site responsible for the entire cycle from site selection to turnover of the completed system to the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Then he assigned the responsibility for site activation to [Air Materiel Command], except for the sites at Offutt AFB, Neb., and F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and the test facilities at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., where work had progressed too far to justify transition of responsibility.”
One final comment about LeMay and White: In a discussion about the relationship between the Air Force Chief of Staff and his vice, he said they “can complement each other.
Of late we have been fortunate in this regard. General White and I had almost no friction when we teamed together.” Spinetta makes a point of saying the two were not friends, but LeMay sure uses a lot of pages in his book talking about “Tommy White.” It might be good if some of our current leadership went back and read the words of some of our early Air Force leaders, like LeMay. They might learn how often he and others have been misquoted, taken out of context, or misrepresented.
Cal. Charles G. Simpson,
My 24-year military career was spent almost entirely in Strategic Air Command, bomber (B-47) and ICBM (Minuteman) logistics. My last assignment was in the Directorate of Missile Maintenance, Headquarters SAC.
I greatly admired General LeMay. However, the article clearly indicates that General White had the better “Billy Mitchell vision” for the Air Force. Fortunately, General White did not have bosses with tunnel vision. However, tunnel vision was General LeMay’s shortcoming. He did not want to see or could not see the benefits of the ICBM as those in Billy Mitchell’s time could not see the advantages of the airplane.
This brings me to the main point of my letter. The greatest gift that Billy Mitchell gave to this nation and the military was the tenacity to not give up. General White did not give up even though General LeMay had great political clout. General White found a way around this obstacle, and the development of the ICBM secured our national defense.
If their roles had been reversed, i.e., LeMay the boss, he would have forced White to retire. Essentially, that is what happened to Billy Mitchell because he strongly disagreed with his superiors.
There are military leaders in all our services who are instilled with the Billy Mitchell vision and tenacity. They make our military the greatest in the world. Consequently, if there is something that still needs to be settled relative to the unwarranted court-martial of Billy Mitchell, it should be taken care of now.
Maj. Roger Myers,
Bossier City, La.
Lawrence Spinetta’s “White vs. LeMay: The Battle Over Ballistic Missiles” reminded me of Gen. Bernard Schriever’s spring 1966 farewell tour of his Air Force Systems Command units, specifically the mess dress dinner at Vandenberg Air Force Base. SAC’s 1st Strategic Aerospace Division owned the base, but AFSC had very significant missions there.
The 6595th Aerospace Test Wing’s Air Force contractor teams conducted full systems (Category II) testing of multiple new ballistic missiles and their operating facilities and launched satellites, most of them classified, into polar orbit. The newly formed Air Force Western Test Range headquarters supported these, and SAC and NASA launches, at former Navy range facilities from California past Hawaii clear to Eniwetok. AFWTR had supported more than 100 launches in 1965, far outstripping its better-known counterpart at “the Cape.”
In his remarks that evening, Schriever reminisced about the early beginnings of Air Force ballistic missile and space programs. His Western
Development Division headquarters was located in a former schoolhouse in Inglewood, Calif., close to many of the aerospace, electronic, and management contractor teams vital to those efforts. So to brief the Chief of Staff and other key headquarters figures meant a long Sunday evening “redeye” flight from LAX.
Arriving at the Pentagon one morning, toting a heavy briefcase as he approached the 4th floor E Ring, he was greeted by some of his former bomber colleagues with the jibe, “Here comes Bennie with his bag of shit.”
Lt. Cal. Mark R. Foutch,
That was the first time I had heard that there was an issue between Generals White and LeMay relating to ballistic missiles.
From 1953 to 1956, I served in the grade of colonel as a member of General White’s office and had responsibility for writing Air Force decisions arrived at by the Air Force Council. In that position I sat in on all meetings where decisions were made in the early stages of missile development. Presentations before the council on the missile program were often made by Colonel Schriever and members of the scientific community. General LeMay and members of his staff were sometimes in attendance. The only serious concerns I can recall that LeMay expressed were related to accuracy and yield.
A couple of years later, when I was serving as commander of the Strategic Air Division at Homestead, Fla., General White unexpectedly dropped in one day while en route to another base. During the time I had served in his office we had become good friends and we often went fishing together, which gave me the opportunity to express my opinion on matters that I normally would not have had. I was therefore not too surprised that while touring the base he told me that he would like my opinion on something. He then told me that he was going to be the next Chief of Staff and that he had decided that he would pick Gen. Curtis LeMay to be his vice chief. He mentioned that he was fully aware of his relative lack of experience in the strategic and tactical fields and LeMay’s strengths therein. He also expressed his great admiration for LeMay as a man of integrity and reliability and that he counted him as a close friend in their joint efforts to best serve the United States.
I informed General White that, for whatever it was worth, I fully concurred with his evaluation of General LeMay and was happy to know about his decision. Although General LeMay was relatively well-known early in my career in the Air Corps when he was a first lieutenant, due to his navigation and bombing skills, as a fighter pilot I didn’t really get to know him until I started serving under his command in 1956. I found that he was everything he was reputed to be and more. He was of sober and quiet disposition, most of the time, unless someone had fallen down on the job. Then, let them beware. He was not without a sense of humor (he quite often told me jokes), and he rewarded all the people who performed well. He did demand the best of everyone and wings were given a periodic rating of one through Tail End Charlie. He often stated his policy that no wing in SAC should be last. He did not tolerate mediocrity very well.
From the fall of 1959 until spring of 1963, I served as director of plans at Strategic Air Command. At that time, Gen. Tommy Power was commander of SAC and he fully supported the ballistic missile program. As his chief planner I had primary staff responsibility for missile siting and missile types. I cannot recall an instance when General LeMay as vice chief didn’t support us in our recommendations.
Both General White and General LeMay remained friends with each other and both remained friends of mine until their deaths.
Gen. Seth J. McKee,
Please, Avoid Page 32 of This Issue
As a former RC-1 35 instructor navigator, I am disappointed in the Air Force Association echoing Soviet propaganda by using the words “spy” and “spyplane” in “The Death of Korean Air Lines Flight 007” [January, p. 62].
After using the word “spyplane” in the context of Soviet statements, the article later repeated it twice and further stated the mission of the RC-135 was to “spy.” Those associated with reconnaissance know there is a huge difference between reconnaissance and spying. Reconnaissance is legal and above board while spying is not. The late President Reagan correctly referred to the RC-1355as “one of our reconnaissance planes … on a routine mission” in his Sept. 5, 1983, speech in the aftermath of the atrocity, and he only used the word “spy” in reference to what the Soviet government uttered. Everyone involved with reconnaissance is fully entitled to resent the article’s implication that reconnaissance crews engage in spying.
The importance of the distinction between reconnaissance and spying might become clearer this September if additional material is declassified on the 30th anniversary of that horrendous act. If so, I am highly confident that any new information will reaffirm that the Korean airliner was an innocent party, the actions of all United States military aircrew were legal and proper, and that the version of events laid out by the United States government was 100 percent correct, while the Soviet “explanation” was 100 percent wrong. The use of “spy on” and “spyplane” instead of “reconnoiter” and “reconnaissance aircraft” is a glaring and sloppy error in the article.
Lt. Col. Allan G. Johnson,
• Spying is collecting information about an adversary or potential enemy without their permission. Many legal and accepted intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations would commonly be considered spying, and there is nothing inherently improper about these activities. The article did not imply that the RC- 135 engaged in any illegal activity or that KAL Flight 007 did anything worse than stray off course—THE EDITORS
Thanks to Peter Grier for his enlightening article “The Death of Korean Air Lines Flight 007.” The story of the confusion of the inept Soviet air defense system coupled with the Reagan White House actions as a result of the shootdown is quite revealing. I was a USAF colonel assigned at that time as director of political military affairs on the National Security Council staff, as a member of the interagency task force working on the issue. One interesting outcome of the KAL 007 incident is the decision made by President Reagan, as a result of our task force’s recommendation, to release GPS to civilian use.
At the time, GPS was under development. However, it was planned for only military use. Due, in part, to the Soviet’s decision to shoot down an unarmed 747, with all of its navigation lights blazing (as reported by the Soviet pilot Maj. Gennadiy Osipovich), then-President Reagan made many important decisions. Not reported, however, in Peter Grier’s excellent article was the President’s release of GPS to civilian use. The rest is history. That decision helped start the process, whereby GPS has become almost indispensable to our daily lives.
The decision was announced in a White House press statement on Sept. 16, 1983. I helped jointly write the decision memo and the press release, which says in part:
“World opinion is united in its determination that this awful tragedy must not be repeated. As a contribution to the achievement of this objective, the President has determined that the United States is prepared to make available to civilian aircraft the facilities of its Global Positioning System when it becomes operational in 1988. This system will provide civilian airliners three-dimensional positional information.”
Col. Bob Lilac,
Palm Desert, Calif.
An ironic twist to the Soviet version of why the KAL airliner was shot down on Sept. 1, 1983, was the fact that the civilian airliner, which the Soviets claimed to have mistaken for a US “spyplane,” was actually pictured in the Soviet Military Encyclopedia (SVE). The volume, published in early 1983, was presumably distributed to all military bases throughout the USSR. The Soviet pilot, Gennadiy Osipovich, would presumably have read the SVE article, titled “Samolet” (Airplane).
Much obfuscation accompanied the US press coverage of the KAL Flight 007 tragedy. For instance, one well-known American writer claimed erroneously that Osipovich could not have clearly ID’d the big airliner since, he claimed, it was a “dark night” over the Sea of Okhotsk. Yet, on that night, Sept. 1, a bright, gibbous moon illuminated the light, reflective skin of the Boeing 747.
2nd Lt. Albert L. Weeks,
Only One Goes
Although retired for a while, I’ve been following the BMT abuse scandal. I noted the January Air Force Magazine update regarding the “BMT Abuse Findings” [“Air Force World,” p. 16] and Major General Woodward’s conclusions about leadership being the most important area: “insufficient oversight, poor instructor selection, lack of emphasis on responsibility, barriers to reporting, and inadequate policy and guidance.” These seemingly would be leadership responsibilities at the highest levels in AETC.
However, as I understand, only one leader was relieved of command—the training group commander. The wing commander was reassigned, not relieved, and it appears no other senior leaders will be held responsible for
these “leadership” failures, including the MAJCOM and NAF CC, who were both in command during the time. In fact, the AETC command chief, who bears some measure of responsibility for the welfare and support of the enlisted airmen, is now the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force.
And we wonder why Congress balks at and delays confirming our senior leader nominations.
I just received the January issue and zeroed in on “Meet the New PLAAF”[p. 34]. I have been most impressed with the Air Force Association’s coverage of communist China since the article in the September 1997 issue [“The Chinese Buildup Rolls On”]. I remember that Air Force Magazine published annual reports on Soviet airpower in the 1980s and 1990s. The issues were fascinating because there was so much technical information about order of battle, aircraft specifications, rank structure, and detailed maps. Is there any way that an annual report on Red China could be compiled and published
MSgt. Michael R. Betzer,
We Don’t Have to Be Vulgar, Now
The letter “Classics, Hurrah! Classics, Boo!” in the January issue [p. 6] just goes to prove that someone can have an opinion but that doesn’t mean that they know what they are talking about.
The letter concerns the “Airpower Classics: F-5” entry in the December issue of Air Force Magazine. The writer claims that the F-5 “is basically a T-38 pooped up for combat” Sorry, but this is incorrect. Northrop had been developing a relatively inexpensive lightweight fighter primarily designed for export (the N-156 program) for a few years. At some point the Air Force realized that this aircraft could be a possible supersonic UPT advanced trainer aircraft that could replace the aging and obsolete T-33. From this the T-38 was born. Thus the T-38 was a “pooped down” F-5 and as anyone who may have flown it knows, it is a great trainer aircraft.
As far as the point made in the letter about the intakes being too low to the ground thus causing an FOD (foreign object damage) problem, this too is in error. The intakes of the F-5 and T-38 are no lower to the ground than many other jet aircraft. For example, have you looked at an F-16 or F/A-18 lately? The writer doesn’t say where in Southeast
Asia he witnessed the intake screens being utilized for ground operations, but I would bet that it was not at a “primary” location As anyone who has been a flight-line worker knows, foreign objects lying on the ramp, taxiways, or runways, pose a great risk of engine damage to any jet aircraft. Keeping a clean operating surface for any jet aircraft is extremely important.
I have 742 hours in the F-5B/E/F and can say that it is an outstanding aircraft for what it was designed for. With my T-38 flying in UPT and my F-5 flying including all of our cross-country trips to other bases, the only time I have ever observed intake screens being utilized is during high power ground runs done on the trim pad.
Any jet aircraft is susceptible to ingesting trash lying on the ground, which can result in serious engine damage. Whenever I flew any aircraft, I made it a habit to inspect the ramp surface immediately under and in front of the engine(s) during my preflight walk around
Correction: “Linebacker II” in the December 2012 issue (p. 52) should have stated that then-Col. James R. McCarthy was the airborne mission commander for the Dec. 26, 1972, mission.