12 April 2008

"Enduring Presence" vs. "Rapidly Deployable"

If I may make a brief Public Service Announcement for the Navy, a story from Aviation Week on 1 April provides a good opportunity to illustrate the utility of a Navy. Looks like the Air Force is trying to buy a little of the capability the Navy already has:

The F-22 could be carrying an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile, costing less than $1 million, in a few years if the military and the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) decide to hone the capabilities of a new missile defense weapon from Raytheon.

A derivative of the Aim-120 AMRAAM, the Pentagon’s established long-range air-to-air missile, is once again being tailored for a new mission – this time the interception of Scud-type short and medium-range ballistic missiles.

But a senior U.S. Air Force official confides that the capability is inherently that of a cheap, rapidly-deployed, air-launched weapon for shooting down satellites in low-Earth orbit if the service or Missile Defense Agency were to order its further refinement and development.

I'm not sure whether this is just a case of the "me too's" or if the Air Force is hunting for arguments to buy more F-22s. I do know one thing, though. When the Army and Air Force start talking about being "rapidly-deployed", the Navy and Marine Corps not only are already there, we probably have been there long enough to know where the best fishing spots are. And we don't need the permission of another country to do what we do.

The Army and Air Force worked through some severe growing pains when the War on Terror began. They had little experience with extended forward deployments and the wear and tear on people and equipment deployments produce. Meanwhile, the Naval Services had spent nearly a century with Sailors and Marines deployed around the globe every day of the year.

Try as they might, the garrison services will never be able to buy the kind of enduring presence a suitable Navy maintains.


Mike's America said...

Now, now... I'm sure the Air Force is just trying to assist in providing an additional textured layer for missile defense!

JClark said...

More like the Chair, er Air Force is making sure it's seat at the dinner table is the same.


Mike said...

While I won't dispute the fact that using the F-22s as an ASAT platform is a stupid idea or that the USAF needs the permission of another country to do what we do (Diego Garcia and Guam aside), lumping the Army and the Air Force in the same boat of severe growing pains when the War on Terror began isn't really fair. On 9/11, the USAF had been forward deployed at war for about 10 years. We had developed the AEF concept before 9/11 in response to our deployments enforcing the no-fly zones over Iraq and it's worked surprisingly well since.

About the only negative from all that was that while our people were well accustomed to deployments, our equipment was seeing hard use for 10 years prior to 9/11, making the increased op-tempo post 9/11 that much more taxing.

LCDR Chris van Avery, USN, Executive Officer said...

I'll grant you that after 10 years of maintaining a presence in Saudi Arabia and Turkey to watch over Iraq the AF was less severely crunched.

The effects on personnel were relatively mild, though. As I recall the rotations were on the order of 90 days or so, which is nothing like the 6-9 months out of every 18-24 months Sailors and Marines were accustomed to, or the 12-15 months personnel going to Iraq and Afghanistan are seeing.

Mike said...

Oh, you're completely right on the 90 day thing. However, outside of personnel who deploy with Army units (like TACPs) and personnel who are being deployed to backstop and/or replace Army units (like transporters and Security Forces) most USAF personnel who are deployed don't do much over a 120 day deployment. My point was just that the USAF had less of a shock going from 90 day to 120 day deployments than the Army did going from 0 day deployments to 15 months worth.

Of course, at this point we're arguing over semantics because ultimately the Navy/Marine Corps team *IS* our forward deployed force. (I'm pretty sure uttering the phrase "Navy/Marine Corps team" puts me in some sort of breach of my contract with the USAF.)

paul309 said...

To Mike: the USAF needs the permission of another country to do what we do (Diego Garcia and Guam aside),

Got some news, Mike, we "do" need permission from another country to use Diego Garcia. The Brits own that island, not us.

Chief Torpedoman