November 1, 2006  

Disjointed argument

While accomplishing the objective of being thought-provoking, Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap Jr.’s article goes to show just how far our military mind-set has to go to achieve a true joint war-fighting culture [“America’s asymmetric advantage,” September].

In 2006 there should be no arguments over the virtues of air power versus boots on the ground, but rather recognizing that every future operation in which our military becomes engaged will be a joint venture involving what is hopefully the best planned combination of air, land and sea forces. The sooner we recognize that the enemy is not the guys wearing the other color uniform in the Pentagon (even during budget battles), the sooner we’ll get on to realizing the full capability of our military.

While it is fitting that each individual service fill its ranks with personnel and provide appropriate training, it may be time to rethink the additional Title X service responsibility to equip their respective forces. Defense procurement budgets should be focused on buying the equipment needed by the combatant commanders, not continuing to serve the individuality of each particular service.

While far from having the problem solved, I believe the new Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System process is a step in the right direction.

A final point from this article that I cannot let pass is that, while the author does acknowledge the need for land forces, he questions the need for both an Army and a Marine Corps. Few would question that individually our country’s air, land and sea services are as good as any, if not the best in the world. Where effectiveness could stand improvement is in the gaps and seams between these forces. The Marine Corps’ greatest advantage is that it bridges that gap between land and sea forces, and, by having its own air assets, fills the air-land seam on a limited scale pretty well, too, just as the Navy’s aviation assets blend the air-sea battle space.

Before raising thoughts of doing away with what is working, it may be a better plan to acknowledge the shortcomings in the air-ground integration and look for better solutions for Army-Air Force cohesiveness.

Fortunately, at the top of the Air Force, Secretary Michael Wynne’s quotation in the Sept. 25 Defense News provides acknowledgment of a clearer picture: “There has to be a soldier standing in the enemy’s camp before that camp is taken. But I believe the Air Force — with the Navy and Marine air and even fires from ships — sets the strategic, theater and tactical conditions of battle. This is the nature of interdependent warfare: leveraging air, space, land and sea assets.”

Lt. Col. Doug Schueler, Marine Corps

Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.