Sunday, December 21, 2008

CV-22 Deploys "On Wing"

And maybe a few prayers?

Well the CV-22 has performed its first self-deployment. In honor of the milestone, here's a patch I got from the SPO (Test Force?- can't remember which) waaaay back when my unit supported the program. Although I don't think the stuff we tested went beyond proof-of-concept (yet)- it is good to see the AF special operators moving quietly forward.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thinking About America's Defense

There is an OUTSTANDING new RAND publication out. An "analytical memoir" by retired Lt General Glenn Kent titled: Thinking About America's Defense.
I predict it will become a RAND classic - a philosophical guide for defense analysts and tool kit in one document. I'm only about halfway through it and so far it does not disappoint. Here's a gem with a little bit of background from page 173 for all the lightweight-fighter-mafia-as-martyrs crowd:
Soon, Maj Everest Riccioni, one of Major Boyd’s followers, was in my office with the LWF briefing in hand. After a lengthy discussion in which he presented the briefing to me, I stated that I would urge General Meyer to hear a briefing about the LWF, but not the briefing Riccioni had just shown me. “There are two distinct parts to your briefing,”

I said. “The first part states that technology marches on and the Air Force can have a fighter with impressive performance at 60 percent of the cost of an F-15. The second part of the briefing alleges that those who support the F-15 lack a basic understanding of air-to-air combat. I will recommend that General Meyer receive a briefing that sticks religiously to the first part and contains not a hint of the second part.

General Meyer supports the F-15, and he needs no instruction from you (or anyone else) about the practice of air-to-air combat. After all, he was the leading American ace in the European campaign in World War II.”

Major Riccioni protested. I pointed out that he was negotiating from jail. The easiest and least risky course for me was to tell General Meyer he should not hear the briefing. I insisted that I would only endorse a briefing that reflected my view of what was constructive, repeating that it would convey only material from part one and would not include a hint about part two. In time, Major Riccioni saw that he was in no position to argue, and together, he and my staff developed such a briefing.

I wrote a note to General Meyer and urged him to hear the briefing. He promptly made it known to me that I had failed him. “All right,” he said. “I will hear what this major has to say. But I hold you responsible for the whole affair.” A date was set.

Late in the afternoon the day before the appointed date, I was called out of town. Every instinct told me to cancel the briefing, but it was hard to get on the calendar of the vice chief, so I did not call to cancel. I did call Lt Col Larry Welch (who worked for me) and Major Riccioni to my office. “I trust you, Major,” I said. “I won’t be there but I trust that you’ll stick to the script we have developed: just part one, nothing from part two. Do not even take those other charts in your briefcase.” Major Riccioni agreed.

I told Colonel Welch that I would call him at his home when I returned the next day. When I called him I asked, “How did the briefing go?” “It was a disaster,” Larry replied.
Read more of the before and after here.

UPDATE 12/26: This analytical memoir is now on the AF Chief of Staff's 2009 Reading List.