"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Monday, August 10, 2009

General McPeak Gives F-15C Standard Argument

The retired CSAF and F-15C General McPeak recently published an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. He gave the standard F-15C argument that we need more F-22s, air superiority depends on it, and echoed the flag officer I witnessed address AETC student pilots who referred to our current wars as "skirmishes" and said we need to focus on enemies like China. General McPeak said:

"We have forced anyone with a bone to pick with us to find an alternative to high-end, conventional war. We’ve had to invent a vocabulary for this low end: 'asymmetrical' conflict, it being another poorly understood activity. But it seems clear that in this sort of war our existence is not threatened, that we can regulate the resource input. It can be expensive in men and material, but we cannot be defeated militarily."

I have to disagree with the General on the clarity he claims for asymmetrical warfare not threatening our existence. There are a number of ways that it could change our existence. Such warfare might act as the catalyst for internal strife which could change our national character as we continue to forget what makes our country great (a higher standard, lamp on the hill, the love of liberty). It can threaten us financially as we pour money and treasure into an endless pit reminiscent of that which felled the Soviet Union. The General might argue against my points stating these are further reasons why we should end these "skirmishes" and concentrate on the big industrial fish. Unfortunately there is a more direct counterpoint to the General's assertion that asymmetrical warfare cannot defeat us militarily and it involves chemical and nuclear weapons. It would be a grave mistake to minimize this difficult warfare in order to continue to train for the easy warfare at which we excel.


  1. Is this the same McPeak that was a campaign co-chair for Obama 2008 and Kerry 2004?

    McPeak is a tool, has been for years, and most fighter guys will tell you so.

  2. I have heard similar comments though I've never heard any reason why the hate other than his uniform changes.

    What's your reasoning for the dislike other than not liking his politics?

    Do you agree with his F-22 commentary?

  3. McPeak pretty much created the pilot "bathtub" when he cut pilot production to the bone, the ramifications of which are still being felt almost 20 years later. One can argue that members of our year group have benefitted in ways from that, but I think it's safe to say it has been a net loss for the Air Force.

    He was just an all-around a**hole from what I've heard. Another rumor was he said that all squadron commanders should be fighter pilots.

    As for his article, he makes some valid points - i.e. air superiority doesn't happen by accident and nowadays it is just taken for granted, but he could have made them a little better.

    Is 187 the right number of Raptors? I don't really know. From my conversations with A/A guys, it's probably too low. Was the original 370+ the right number? Probably not. Is the Raptor a failure if it is never used in combat? If your answer is yes, then has our nuclear deterrence the last 50 years been a failure as well?

    Trust me when I say I'm no apologist for the Raptor. I talk crap about them all the time, but if your position is it's a useless platform, then I disagree with you. How many F-22 do you think we should have? How many F-35s?

    Finally, I do think it is quite funny that McPeak even had to write this editorial. What exactly did he think was going to happen when he jumped on the Hope and Change train?

  4. Personally I think the F-22 sounds like a great aircraft compared to what we have but is not as good as what we could have if we invest our money in UAS technology. I agree with you that deterrence needs to be calculated in weapon effectiveness but I don't think the F-22 has deterred anything.

    I don't think the F-22 is useless I just think we could have something better if we save our money and invest it better. Unfortunately the F-22 is surrounded by people that pimp it with agendas other than providing America with the best air superiority option and warfighting capabilities. Even when the F-22 was first being rolled out and was competing against the YF-23 I know several people that maintain the YF-23 was a much better aircraft. One officer (fighter pilot) who was an acquisition guy at the Pentagon when the winning aircraft was announced thought the F-22 was picked partly because it just looked better aesthetically. That is according to his son who is a pilot in my squadron. I don't know how many we should have... On the one hand more is better. On the other hand, it's not better if means not funding something that could be much better or more useful. How many do we NEED? We don't need any. Our nuclear deterrence buys us leeway (in the SAC train of thought) although that leeway is not an optimum way of doing business and does stifle our capability around the world. But even without the F-22 we are not going to lose a conventional war in the U.S. though we may very well find ourselves beaten on our homeland with a thousand F-22s if we don't have the technology to defeat religious fanatics with a nuclear/chemical agenda.

    I'm not sure why you keep mentioning the link to Obama. Just because he has good political taste doesn't mean his argument on the F-22 is good or otherwise.

  5. There are some very good comments by various defense experts on the F-22 decision here: http://security.nationaljournal.com/2009/07/after-the-f22-vote-whats-next.php

  6. Whether his argument is good or otherwise (and whether or not if you or I agree with it) pales in comparison to the sheer irony that he had to make it all. That was my point.

  7. I'm not trying to belabor the point but I just don't see the irony. I think you're saying that it's ironic that he allied himself with the President and the President then cut the F-22. I think you may be referencing the stereotype that "liberals" or Democrats cut defense money. But what was McPeak's alternative? Siding with Senator McCain? Senator McCain is apparently the architect of the F-22 demise in Congress and an ally with the President thankfully. Let's not forget that Secretary Gates was hired by Bush (the alternative to Kerry) and it doesn't appear his views on the F-22 changed with his new boss. It seems even Secretary Rumsfeld before him (hired by Kerry's opponent) was not big on buying many F-22s and actually wanted less than Secretary Gates ordered (if Larry Korb is to be believed in his comment from the journal link posted above).

    This isn't a one side versus the other issue. It's a fiscal responsibility issue versus the military industrial machine issue. Or maybe I'm just missing the irony or don't have my facts straight.