01/10/2012 In a recent personal attack on Dr. Carafano of the Heritage Foundation, Thomas Christie, Pierre Sprey, Chuck Spinney and Winslow Wheeler wander out of the Platonic cave to argue once again against new aircraft.
They accuse Dr. Carafano of being a paid spinner for defense industry and then go on to make an argument that the new aircraft somehow are misplaced in their capabilities.
Namely, once again we hear that aircraft that cannot match up to the 21st century challenges are much better than the ones which can. Northern Edge 2011 has already demonstrated the dramatic nature of the challenges and the centrality of the F-35 combat systems to making the leap ahead.
“Invoking Boyd’s legacy to endorse Carafano’s ideas about the F-22 and the F-35—ideas that would have been anathema to Boyd—profoundly offends us,” they claim.
Rather than celebrating the emergence of the expression of an OODA loop airplane, the F-35, the frozen in time 4 are celebrating air dominance by historic airplanes. If our predecessors had such a vision, we would have kept horses rather than buying tanks.
A West Point grad has just had his honor attacked because he defended the F-22 and F-35. The attack came by individuals who are very proud of Col John Boyds accomplishments in the great fighter debates in an era that produced the F-14, F-15,F-16 and F/A-18.
Having listened to his lectures, and interviewed him for my work on the global tactical aircraft dynamic, and as a fighter pilot with significant flight and command experience, I wonder why the critics of the F-35 are so frozen in time. Not only are they frozen in time, but they stand inside the Platonic cave and keep counting the shadows rather than turning around and looking into the sunlight. One can observe the frozen in time analysts with amusement, but when they cross the line to start personal attacks because they refuse to face the future, enough is enough.
It is a perplexing and actually very snide and personally nasty attack that any reader is welcome to draw their own conclusions if the article crossed a line. But sorry no link it isn’t deserved. One can travel to the Counter Punch website on their own to move back in time rather than to the future of air operations, and 21s century combat operations.
The bigger and more important point beyond the authors never ending quest for relevancy is that they are missing a huge and courageous element of the debate made by true fighter pilots.
F-16s, F-18s and F-15s, along with several others F-117, Night Hawk, various T/M/S of beloved F-4 especially as a Wild Weasel and USMC AV-8 were fragged in Desert Storm into an airpower strike force that was one of the greatest air campaign in history. The brilliant use of airpower allowed a 100 hour land campaign to accomplish all the goals established by President Bush and the UN, the US and allies. They made the difficult look easy.
So now as it suits more a political agenda of the Frozen in Time 4, that the Air Force officers who are true fighter pilots in Desert Storm and were instrumental in planning and executing the Desert Storm air campaign are full of it when they are advocating for the F-22 and F-35.
It is intellectually impossible to believe that a dedicated West Point grad and a veteran is being attacked by several “analysts” because he is an intellectual kindred spirit with LtGen Tom McInnerney USAF (ret) Lt Gen Dave Deptula USAF (ret), LtGen Mike Dunn USAF (ret) General “Conan” Corley USAF (ret) and General Buzz Mosley USAF (ret) in advocating for the F-22 and F-35.
These heroes all have no explaining to do to anyone least of all a team reveling in self anointed past glory.
Dr Carafano is standing on the shoulders of this generation’s “Few Great Captains,” along with many more who were not listed above. I would fly on Dr. Carafano’s wing in any intellectual debate, anytime anyplace. As the smartest defense strategic thinker I have ever served with, the Honorable Mike Wynne, pointed out in a private communication that the attack against the future published by the “frozen in time 4” is like trying to cure cancer with aspirin.
(For those who do not know of the Platonic cave please go here
The Allegory of the Cave—also known as the Analogy of the Cave, Plato’s Cave, or the Parable of the Cave—is an allegory used by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work The Republic to illustrate “our nature in its education and want of education” (514a). It is written as a fictional dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon at the beginning of Book VII (chapter IX in Robin Waterfield‘s translation) (514a–520a). The Allegory of the Cave is presented after the metaphor of the sun (507b–509c) and the analogy of the divided line(509d–513e). Allegories are summarized in the viewpoint of dialectic at the end of Book VII and VIII (531d–534e).
Plato lets Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Plato’s Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners.)
Great composition of argument here. Boyd’s work was aimed at making better pilots given the tools or aircraft available. It led designers to bring better tools to market.
Such remains the case today. The only thing more expensive than a First Rate Air Force is a Second Rate Air Force.
This assessment is being ratified around the world as more nations request the F-35 for their Air Force.
We should recall though that the F-22 was optimized for Air Dominance. For the F-35, this was one of many missions that balanced the design.
Thanks for exposing the shortcomings of these uninformed critics. I can guarantee you that an inventive and innovative thinker like Boyd would immediately grasp the game changing nature of F-35 and F-22. These are disruptive technologies that will create an exponential advantage for pilots in combat. With the unclassified reporting that’s recently come out of exercises like Northern Edge, only those who are frozen in time (or being paid to criticize and obfuscate) are still clueless about what 5th generation aircraft will mean to the future force.
Thanks for exinspog the shortcomings of these uninformed critics. I can guarantee you that an inventive and innovative thinker like Boyd would immediately grasp the game changing nature of F-35 and F-22. These are disruptive technologies that will create an exponential advantage for pilots in combat. With the unclassified reporting that’s recently come out of exercises like Northern Edge, only those who are frozen in time (or being paid to criticize and obfuscate) are still clueless about what 5th generation aircraft will mean to the future force.
Great post. I think, often time, decision makers confuse the capabilities argument with programmatic decision making, and that leads to broad categorization and a minimization of the argument itself. Operational advantage is an evolutionary endeavor. Those who argue that capabilities are not significant in “winning the day” are not demonstrating their command on historical perspective. Had the visionaries not pressed for a major shift from battleships to carriers in the early 1900’s, we would not have been able to adequately answer the attack on Pearl Harbor, and would have been unable to keep pace with the Japanese and other seafaring nations in command of the sea. That singular, bold and important decision to invest in carriers vice battleships–despite the heated and vocal dissent at the time–avoided potentially catastrophic impact on our ability to regain control of and win the war in the Pacific during WWII. The F-35 conundrum, in many ways, mirrors that same point in history. There have to be visionaries somewhere in the decision cycle that can clearly see the martial advantage of the platform. That being said, more emphasis has to be placed on finding the appropriate balance regarding capabilities and programmatic constraint, while not simultaneously putting in jeopardy the strategic, operational and tactical advantage that a platform like the F-35 brings to the fight.