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Document created: 1 September 2007
Air & Space Power Journal - Fall 2007
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LEADERSHIP: AN OLD DOG’S VIEW
Excessive analogizing can sometimes become cloying, but Mr. C. R. Anderegg’s “Leadership: An Old Dog’s View” (Summer 2007) was so spot-on it was never in such danger. As a sled dog now closer to the end of the trail than the beginning, I appreciate the point of view Mr. Anderegg provides. It confirms work yet to be done and a satisfied rest some miles ahead. Thanks much.
Maj Mary A. Enges, USAF
Salt Lake City, Utah
Mr. Anderegg’s article is excellent. As an “old dog” myself, I could relate to the way the author drew leadership analogies from the dog’s experiences. I gleaned valuable insights from the article. First, adversity is only a life experience that we live and learn from for our own betterment. Second, improved leadership skills can result from that learning.
Defense Contract Management Agency
FIT (AND READY) TO FIGHT
Author 2d Lt Nickolas Stewart makes an interesting case for hand-to-hand combat training for Air Force personnel in his article “Fit (and Ready) to Fight: Strengthening Combat Readiness through Controlled-Aggression Training” (Summer 2007). Like him, I was surprised to learn that the Air Force does not already provide its personnel basic training in unarmed combat. I agree completely that basic martial-arts training would be a useful skill for those who may need it in a combat setting. In fact, personal self-defense capabilities are important even for personnel who are not deployed. However, I am concerned that the author does not fully distinguish between martial-arts training and “real-life” combat training.
The martial arts are admirable pursuits, but none of them can adequately prepare the practitioner for the true “no-rules” environment of unarmed combat. Even the mixed martial arts’ famed ultimate-fighting championship has rules that simply do not exist in real life (e.g., no biting or eye gouging). Perhaps least realistic of all, almost all martial-arts contests involve just two opponents whereas a real fight almost never does. I agree that martial-arts training is related to “real” fighting and that some specific martial-arts techniques may be useful, but I do not think that specific martial-arts training (e.g., Iron Tiger immersion) is necessarily the answer to the problem Lieutenant Stewart describes.
It is extremely difficult to train people in real fighting for two reasons. First, it involves techniques that can permanently maim or kill an opponent, so they are extremely difficult to practice realistically. As my instructor once joked, “I can show you the touch of death—but I can only show you once.” Attempts to train for real life often sacrifice key elements of realism and thus can instill a false sense of security in the practitioner. In the 13 years I trained in martial arts (and the six years I taught it), I found far more people who thought they were competent fighters than people who actually were. Second, and more importantly, real fighting is first and foremost about a mind-set and the “weapons of opportunity” that the author mentions. It is more important that a person bite an opponent, find a chair to use as a club, or be willing to take any other action to win than to have practiced a specific kick, strike, takedown, or maneuver.
Although martial-arts skills may be useful tools in a fight, the amount of effort and training required to use them effectively in combat seems excessive. In short, I would envision personal self-defense training as more closely resembling a seminar that outlines basic pressure points, strikes, and weapons of opportunity. We want someone who can execute a kick and punch effectively, know where to jab a thumb into a person, and—most importantly—always look for an improvised weapon with which to dispatch his or her opponent. A structured martial-arts program would be exceptionally time-consuming and might not necessarily translate into real-life combat skills.
Tinker AFB, Oklahoma
THE NECESSITY FOR VALUES OPERATIONS AS
OPPOSED TO INFORMATION OPERATIONS IN IRAQ
Perhaps one of the best articles in the Spring 2007 Air and Space Power Journal (ASPJ) was Col William Darley’s “Strategic Imperative: The Necessity for Values Operations as Opposed to Information Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.” A fundamental tenet for any military operation is to understand the environment we operate in, but unfortunately we Americans continue to hide behind our ignorance of Afghani and Iraqi culture with simplistic labels. In that sense, our cultural understanding (or lack thereof) makes Vietnam comparisons to current operations far closer to the mark than many currently admit. Of course, there is probably a very fine line for potentially political issues that ASPJ covers, but at a minimum, I expect excellent critical thinking and analysis from the Journal and hope to see more hard-hitting articles like Colonel Darley’s in future issues.
Maj Javier M. Ibarra, USAF
Robins AFB, Georgia
Colonel Darley’s article is spot-on and long overdue. His point about American civil religion being individual liberty is accurate. I would only expand his point slightly to include the absurd adoption of political correctness, a notion that virtually paralyzes US efforts to defend itself against the attack of radical Islam. Straight talk and sober recognition of this threat are the only solution. I applaud Colonel Darley’s courage. More—not less—discussion of this issue is desperately needed.
Maj Daniel Adler, USAF
McGuire AFB, New Jersey
IS RED FLAG OBSOLETE?
I read Gary “Buch” Sambuchi’s comment in the Spring 2007 Air and Space Power Journal under the heading “Is Red Flag Obsolete?” As a former crew chief at Hill AFB, Utah, I am inclined to agree with Mr. Sambuchi. If one looks at past technological advances, one sees that we relied on technology for even the most mundane air-to-air combat tasks. With this increased dependence on technology, our basic air-to-air skills decreased so much that we had to relearn them in Vietnam. I have found through the years that one cannot transform military forces without basic skills as a foundation for growth. Do we have limitations? Of course we do. We learn from these limitations by developing the ability to adapt to a changing environment filled with unknowns and strategically forecasting to meet future needs. If we look at the war on terrorism, we see that high tech cannot replace the basics of air-to-ground warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq against a low-tech enemy. Although the US Air Force’s future may be in cyberspace and space operations, one cannot merely stuff a pilot into a fighter aircraft and say, “Fly, fight and win!” without having taught him the basics of air-to-air or air-to-ground combat.
Capt Steven “Schaff” Schaffhouser, USAF
Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base
Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
Editor’s Note: The original article that Captain Schaffhouser and Mr. Sambuchi comment about is Lt Col Rob Spalding’s “Why Red Flag Is Obsolete” (Fall 2006).
COUNTERINSURGENCY AIRPOWER: AIR-GROUND INTEGRATION FOR THE LONG WAR
I agree with what Col Howard Belote says in his article “Counterinsurgency Airpower: Air-Ground Integration for the Long War” (Fall 2006). It is about time someone stood up and said this. We are in the shape we are in now because of the Air Force’s long neglect of the close air support and tactical air control party (TACP) communities. Excessive focus on strategic warfare, centers of gravity, and so forth left us unprepared and inadequately manned with the right air experts to conduct counterinsurgency operations. Rarely did I see an Air Force Weapons School graduate serving with the Army in the air liaison officer (ALO) ranks. Thanks for the article and the insight. The TACP/ALO community thanks you.
Michael “Rhino” Evans
Nellis AFB, Nevada
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University
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