McHugh: CAS Mission Critical Regardless of Platform

The close air support mission is “absolutely critical” to the Army, but the Army and Air Force agree the mission itself is “platform agnostic,” Army Secretary John McHugh told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The future of close air support is a “strategic question that will be addressed and re-addressed over time,” McHugh said. As technology and capabilities change, the expectations will change as well, he added. “I think it’s important to note, like the Army, the Air Force is making some very tough choices, not because they wish to, but because budget circumstances have forced us into that environment,” he said. And, as such, USAF has determined the A-10 is an “unaffordable” aircraft. However, the important thing is that when needed the Army can “have explosive ordnance on enemy positions,” said McHugh. How USAF performs this task “is a matter of … their discussions and decisions,” he added. Recently the Air Force has sought to restate its commitment to the CAS mission, and is meeting with the other services next month to discuss CAS lessons, tactics, and future plans.