Explaining CSAR

According to Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, Defense Secretary Robert Gates doesn’t understand that the Air Force’s combat search and rescue mission supports the joint team. He believes that may be a baseline misunderstanding that, coupled with asking for too-high end platforms, led Gates to axe the CSAR-X helicopter replacement program. Schwartz told Senate Armed Services Committee members last week that the service must satisfy Gates on two points, and the first is that “we don’t have people sitting around on alert waiting to go pick up pilots.” The second is that the service can be “a little bit less ambitious about the platforms” it is seeking to replace its elderly fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawks. In the interim, to replace Pave Hawks lost in current operations, the Air Force plans to purchase two Army Black Hawks and modify them for the CSAR mission.