Yet again, the Air Force is trying to get rid of the A-10. The matter has been covered in the defense-specialized, but not the major, news media for about a week.
It comes as no real surprise to long-time observers of the A-10, but it is a very unpleasant surprise to US ground forces who have observed–all too closely–what the A-10 can do on the battlefield.
Air Force management has tried to defuse the growing controversy by fobbing off the plan as “pre-decisional,” but a briefing slide from Air Combat Command’s 2015 budget plan shows that a decision has been made. Today, Defense News and others are reporting that Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has put a hold on the nomination of Deborah James to be Secretary of the Air Force until she “gets answers” on just what the Air Force thinks it is up to.
One of the previous Air Force gambits to unload the A-10 was exposed by author Robert Coram in 2003 in the New York Times. Coram has been following the Air Force’s new gambit since before it became public, and he has now written about it again. His new piece points out that the Air Force has been planning to dump the A-10 for some time by engineering things to strip out A-10 training and to push up A-10 operating costs, has tried to mask the strong preference of troops in combat for A-10 support, and has risen to a new level of willfully ignoring the painful lessons of combat.
Find Robert Coram’s new commentary on the Air Force’s 2013 effort to unload the A-10, “Air Force Brass Ignores War’s Lessons to Wipe Out A-10s,” at the new website of the Straus Military Reform Project.
(In case the embedded link above does not work, the url for this commentary is http://www.pogo.org/our-work/
Coram is also the author of “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Air of War,” which addresses the early genesis of the A-10–and of the F-16 and of the F-15.