No End in Sight to the Army’s Dependence on Airpower

December 13, 2016

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 “Land-based forces now are going to have to penetrate denied areas to facilitate air and naval forces. This is exact opposite of what we have done for the last 70 years, where air and naval forces have enabled ground forces.”.

                                                                                    –General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army

 

Inter-service tussles are a staple of the Pentagon experience, particularly in lean times.  Mostly harmless, they are the symptoms of the constant effort by leadership to scrape up together the resources to organize, train, equip, and operate their services.  At the end of the day, however, the Department of Defense still provides the nation with a joint force composed of specialized but interdependent services, each with a specific role to play in America’s defense and each with a carefully thought-out role in obtaining military superiority in their various domains. So, it was with great interest that I read that the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley had proposed an acute shift in roles, wherein the Army would take the lead not only in major ground combat, but in “penetrating denied areas” to enable the other services.  And it would do it without air or maritime superiority.

This approach is tied to the Army’s new concept of “multi-domain battle,” (MDB) which is pitched as a counter to the previous “Air-Sea Battle,” which gave land forces short shrift. But the foundations of MDB rest on shifting sands. AirLand Battle, the concept that successfully deterred the Warsaw Pact and defeated the Iraqi Army in the field, was developed after Vietnam with a deep appreciation for the realities of fighting the Soviets in Europe. MDB lacks the fidelity of that approach, instead treating very real adversary capabilities as “an aspiration” rather than a credible defense. MDB also fails to recognize the limitations imposed by the Army’s existing forward posture. As a result, it is simply infeasible for the Army to “gain access” for components with better range, flexibility, and mobility. Finally, it ignores one deeply ironic outcome of the conflicts since 1991: The Army is deeply and habitually addicted to airpower.

The idea that the U.S. Army “would have to penetrate denied areas to facilitate air and naval forces” was laid out to the public in October. But for a force largely based in the United States, an entire hemisphere away from the nearest “denied area,” this idea puts the cart before the horse. Forward-based Army forces are so diminished compared to those of Cold War and even early 21st century that overseas units cannot be regarded as independent combat formations on an appropriate scale. Rather than being an enabler for other domains, the Army is the most dependent of the services on the capabilities of the others to even get near to the fight, much less into it. Absent an armored thrust into Germany, Korea, or Italy, the Army has little ability to bring combat power to bear without first relying on air and maritime transport to deliver it. U.S. Army Europe and the 8th Army in Korea are shadows of their Cold War forebears. The Army’s combat formations are necessarily heavy and ponderous, and they lack organic strategic lift on the necessary scale. Without sealift or airlift, the Army can’t travel. Without air superiority, it can’t fight a winning battle. And without maritime and air superiority protecting its supply lines, it can’t sustain any fight that it gets into. The common trend for every major conventional operation conducted by the U.S. Army since the landings in Morocco in late 1942 is that these operations were conducted under protective air and naval shields provided by the Navy and the Air Corps (and later the Air Force). To suggest that the Army can do without air and maritime superiority — and to enable rather than be enabled by air and maritime forces — is only to outline conditions under which the Army would be resoundingly defeated.

•        •        •

If we lose the war in the air we lose the war and lose it quickly.

-Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, British Army

Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt, commander of 8th Army Corps in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, was the last Army commander who was able to do without air support — mostly because it hadn’t been invented yet. World War I saw airpower emerge as a key warfighting capability, focusing on observation, reconnaissance, and pursuit. By 1940, airpower was so lethal that it proved decisive in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain.

fig1-p38
Figure 1:  A P-38 from the 20th Fighter Group painted in invasion stripes strafes a train in France, 1944. (U.S. Air Force)

Germany possessed a two-phase plan to bring about the defeat of France. At the end of the first phase, the Allies had lost 61 divisions in combat without folding. They were short on equipment and armor, Dunkirk was encircled, and the French Air Army was nearing collapse. In May 1940, the French not only reconstituted two armored divisions but two entire armies (the 7th and 10th) that they used to provide a defense in depth. It didn’t matter. By June 10, the Luftwaffe had air supremacy and French forces were unable to concentrate. French leadership knew that they had to concentrate, and knew where and why. They simply could not do it because German air superiority meant that every movement was relentlessly observed and attacked. The French army fought on even after the French air force was gone, playing out a losing hand to the bitter end. As long as the Luftwaffe maintained air superiority, French maneuver forces were ineffective.

The tide turned almost immediately for the Nazi war machine. Later that year, the Luftwaffe could not establish air superiority over the English Channel, a necessary precondition for Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain. Without air superiority, maritime superiority could not be maintained either, and all of the combat power of a victorious Wehrmacht languished on the European continent unable to cross a mere 21 miles of open water.  The Germans had the sealift, the logistical support, and the backing of the Luftwaffe and Kreigsmarine — and they understood that without air superiority, the invasion plan was futile.  Conversely, none of the Allied amphibious assaults was accomplished without air and maritime superiority. In North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, and North Korea, it was an essential prerequisite.

fig3-stuka
Figure. 2: German Ju 87B Stuka dive bomber in flight, circa 1940, as seen in publication US Navy Naval Aviation News dated 1 Sep 1943 (Public domain, courtesy ww2dbase).

These are not isolated historical examples. They are the reality, even today.  The Army has been the beneficiary of air and maritime superiority for so long that it takes those for granted. The Air Force can self-deploy globally on short notice; suitable airfields are common in allied nations. The Navy not only deploys itself, but brings both the Marine Corps and naval aviation with it. The Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force can get to the battlefield without the Army, but the Army is completely dependent on airlift and sealift to show up. In World War II, the Army’s ground forces made it into many a denied area – after airpower and seapower made it possible for them.

•        •        •

The future battle on the ground will be preceded by battle in the air. This will determine which of the contestants has to suffer operational and tactical disadvantages and be forced throughout the battle into adopting compromise solutions.

– Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, The Rommel Papers

Should anyone think that lessons from earlier wars no longer apply, the experience of modern warfare can be equally instructive. The annual REFORGER exercises were held for the express purpose of providing a live rehearsal for all of the moving parts that would be required to reinforce NATO with ground forces. Checkered Flag did the same for Air Force fighter / attack squadrons. Had the operations been conducted in wartime, they would have been preceded by a second Battle of the Atlantic and a massive airlift effort to bring more airpower into theater and provide critical war materiel. Operation Nickel Grass proved the concept in 1973 by providing a critical airlift lifeline to hard-pressed Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

Every U.S. military adventure in the modern era reinforces the narrative. The Army did not drive into battle in Grenada or Panama. The Iraqi military machine, having just taken Kuwait in August of 1990, was poised to drive south through Saudi Arabia. We may never be sure why they did not, but it wasn’t the (air-deployed) brigade of the 82nd Airborne that posed a credible check, and it wasn’t the Saudi National Guard. If anything, it was the presence of Air Force and naval aviation, the first squadrons of which were en route or in place before the U.S. Army started to deploy, allowing troop-laden airlift to land protected by the F-15 Eagles which had beaten them there. Unhampered by the need to obtain basing permission, the USS Eisenhower was on station in the eastern Mediterranean and the USS Independence in the Gulf of Oman before the first soldier boarded a plane. By the time the Army had finished moving a single brigade, the Air Force’s combat power in theather included multiple wings of fighter/attack aircraft, and the Navy’s battlegroups were present in a density not seen since Vietnam.

fig3-troops-cross-airfield
Figure 3: Troops cross the airfield after disembarking from Military Airlift Command C-141 Starlifter aircraft at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield in August 1990. (Department of Defense Photo)

Operation Desert Storm proved that sea- and air-deployed ground forces could rage across Kuwait and Southern Iraq after a 40-day, 24/7 air campaign turned Iraqi fielded forces into turnips: dug in, immobile, out of communications, unaware of their surroundings, and without visible sources of resupply and sustainment. The victory in the Gulf War was punctuated by ground forces only after sealift had delivered and sustained them and airpower had prepared the battlefield, delivering not only protection, but also superior situational awareness to ground forces who had watched the air component fight for almost seven weeks.

Operation Allied Force over the Former Republic of Yugoslavia proved that air forces alone could win. Reasonably characterized as “winning ugly”, it was a 78-day NATO air campaign that stopped the slaughter of Kosovar Albanians and led to the independence of Kosovo and Montenegro. The Army’s contribution was limited to defensive measures; even Army aviation was unneeded in the operation. The Army’s view that only they can achieve victory in warfare is unsupported by the historical record and dismissive of the Army’s complete dependence on the joint force for its logistics.

•        •        •

Every soldier generally thinks only as far as the radius of action of his branch of the service and only as quickly as he can move with his weapons.

– General der Flieger Karl Koller, Luftwaffe

There is a cultural issue at play here. An Army officer grows up steeped in a culture that values close combat — closing with an adversary to wrest control of the ground away and thereby establish dominance. This form of warfare has been preeminent for millennia because in most cases no alternative existed. The British Empire, which spanned more of the globe than any empire before or since, relied mostly on seapower to stitch the empire together, confound its enemies, and maintain communications — ensuring that any land conflicts would be kept as local as possible. Airmen upset the established order, and they did so intentionally. Airmen have always been looking for the shortcut, the way to overfly the traditional “front line” to achieve victory by striking at centers of gravity far removed from the clash of ground forces. Soldiers are primed to fight traditionally, while the airmen are constantly looking for a way to cheat. Both approaches have their uses, but in an environment where the mere presence of the joint force has to be paid for in blood, the Army is not the tip of the spear, and wishing will not make it so. Ironically, if the Army wishes to have the power to project and protect itself, it cannot merely become more like the Navy and Air Force. It must become the Navy and the Air Force, because those services are the guardians of the power projection capability that the Army needs to leave North America.

***

“The Army — yes, the Army — we’re going to sink ships (and) dominate the airspace above our units from enemy air and missile attack.”

                                                            – General Mark Milley, Army Chief of Staff

The Army has so neglected its artillery and air defense capabilities that it is unlikely it can effectively contest friendly airspace or deliver accurate long-range fires without the application of airpower. The Army isn’t going to be sinking warships any time soon, either. It disbanded the coastal artillery in 1950, and Army artillery isn’t designed or equipped to hit moving ships. The ATACMS missile may someday be upgraded to hit moving sea targets, if another component supplies the targeting data. The Army fields no realistic capability to establish or maintain surveillance of the maritime domain, much less control it. In fact, the Army is so staggeringly addicted to the 24/7 airpower support provided by the Air Force and naval aviation that it felt comfortable stripping its own artillery capabilities to the bone, disbanding divisional artillery and relying heavily on aerial fires in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not only did the Army reduce its capacity to deliver long-range fires, but it reduced its purchase of precision munitions because airpower was providing them instead. The Army’s solution when it lacked for organic firepower was to demand more from the Air Force and naval aviation.

fig4-f15e-over-astan
Figure 4:  An F-15E from the 391st Fighter Squadron loaded for bear over Afghanistan, 7 October 2008.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon)

As for air superiority — it can only be established from the air. Air superiority can be denied from the surface of the earth, but it cannot be established from there. Army air defense capabilities suffered mightily after 1991, which lost its all-weather, medium-range I-Hawk missile batteries and replaced them with the short-range Stingers usable only in the absence of low cloud cover. Having retired its radar-guided missiles, the Army elected not to replace them with ground-launched versions of the highly effective Air Force/Navy AMRAAM air-to-air missile. When the 2005 inauguration rolled around and the United States needed a medium-range, all-weather missile battery to defend the capital, the Army had to borrow one from Norway.

The Army could afford to neglect its own air defense responsibilities precisely because the other services pick up the slack. American air superiority in the air is so pervasive that the last few times an enemy even tried to execute a ground counteroffensive against U.S.forces (the Battles of the Bulge in 1944 and Kafji in 1991), the adversary waited for poor weather in the hope that they could get by under conditions in which neither side had air superiority. Both of those counteroffensives were forlorn hopes. The weather cleared, and soon enough the clouds and fog were replaced by an aluminum and steel overcast.

There is a host of very good reasons that the Army is addicted to airpower. The speed, range, and flexibility within the air domain allows forces to move rapidly, maintain the high ground, and shatter the plans of the adversary’s ground forces. Control of the air ensures that you can stay in supply while denying the same benefit to the enemy. A ground force forced to fight under a hostile air umbrella is on an inexorable slide to destruction.

The cultural predilection for occupying territory requires that you be able to get there, fight there, and stay there, and the U.S. Army cannot do that alone.

•        •        •

We have the enemy surrounded. We are dug in and have overwhelming numbers. But enemy airpower is mauling us badly. We will have to withdraw.

-Japanese message to 15th Army HQ, Burma / India theater, 1944

The Army isn’t going to act as an anti-access enabler unless it is providing logistical support and communications or bothers to deploy its point defense systems to defend US air and naval facilities against cruise missile attack. The idea that the Army would lead the anti-access fight inverts the absolutely necessary sequence of events. Sealift has to get the Army to the fight, and the Navy is going to have to fight for the maritime superiority necessary to do it on, over, and under the waves. Without air superiority, the Army’s fielded forces won’t be able to see very far, move very fast (if at all), or fight very long.

Not all victories need to be achieved at the point of a bayonet, and not all battles can be fought that way. There are good reasons to have a capable, ready army as a key component of the joint force. Enabling the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps in an anti-access environment isn’t one of them. The Army isn’t immune to the lure of airpower. It’s addicted to it.

 

Col. Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha was an instructor electronic warfare officer in the F-4G Wild Weasel and the F-15E Strike Eagle, amassing 156 combat missions over Iraq and the Former Republic of Yugoslavia and taking part in 2.5 SAM kills over 10 combat deployments. As an irregular warfare operations officer, Colonel Pietrucha has two additional combat deployments in the company of US Army infantry, combat engineer, and military police units in Iraq and Afghanistan. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force or the U.S. government.

Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ricky J. Best

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11 thoughts on “No End in Sight to the Army’s Dependence on Airpower

  1. The author writes “Air superiority can be denied from the surface of the earth, but it cannot be established from there.” I took the multi-domain battle to include an acknowledgement of this and a proposal to address the gaps that result if we were to have an Army that could not function should an adversary develop this capability for a significant depth. I note the USAF is sourcing higher altitude airframes to mitigate developments in the surface-to-air denial capabilities that threaten to keep airborne sensors back from the FLOT.

  2. Offensive drone capabilities need to be developed, acquired and deployed through the U.S. Army. Each Army Division should field a drone battalion, each Army Corps should field a drone brigade and give Special Operations what they require.

    1. David – the Marines are already working toward that end, developing their very own and controlled “close air support” via drones performing both ISR as well as attack missions.

      We’re still laboring under 19th and 20th century military models that really no longer apply to today.

      We will always need “boots on the ground” and supporting armor, as well as anti-air defenses for same. But whether we truly need an “Army”, and “Air Force” and a “Navy” seems outmoded.

      What we need is more likely along the lines of a self-defense force in CONUS; an expeditionary ground force that goes wherever the battlefield is located; and we need aerial warriors and naval warriors to do battle in the air and on and under the sea.

      Maybe the correct organization of our forces is a Land Warfare Branch and a Sea Warfare Branch, and get rid of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines as separate services or corps (in the case of the Marines). Each branch being fully capable and equipped with aircraft, armor, ships, guns, tactics, and of course warriors to engage in war within their battlefield environment. There will always be an interface and interrelationship between land and sea, and between land and air and sea and air. Rather that dividing those interfaces up between competing branches, we should be integrating along those interfaces.

      The Marines are an anachronism – dating from the days of sailing ships when marines were necessary in boarding actions which were the usual culmination of every decisive naval action. The Marines have since clung onto the notion of being an “expeditionary force”, but the Army has those as well. Both Marines and Army, along with the Navy, have long participated in “amphibious warfare”. The separation of air power between Air Force and Navy/Marines makes sense, along the lines of the two branches (Land Warfare and Sea Warfare), but the separation between the Army and the Air Force, while the Navy and Marine airforces both support ground pounding Marines, just makes no logical sense at all.

      Yes, of course, this is really all about tradition and competing visions of warfare that go back hundreds of years. But if you go back even further, in ancient Roman and Greek classical times, the navy and army were one and the same. The only difference was where the battle was to take place, and how your army arrived there.

  3. I have a few issues, to put it mildly.

    First, I think General Milley’s statement was focused on the tactical realm, not the operational one, and that he felt that an M1A2 is a much more effective SEAD platform than an aircraft with standoff weapons. If the tanks can break through and close with enemy air defenses, I guarantee you he’s right. In fact, there are even Air Force officers who are trying to build a private Army for this very purpose: http://warontherocks.com/2016/11/offsetting-air-superiority-with-air-force-special-operations/ .

    Second, your recollection of history is…creative. The Luftwaffe was an effective support force, but you ignore the fact that the German Army was simply better than the French. The French and British had lots of troops, but their armor and anti-armor capabilities were poorly organized and their doctrine was outdated. The Germans took France with the help of airpower, but not solely because of it.

    Once the Germans did drive to the Channel and Hitler had his grandiose visions of Operation Sealion, air superiority was a precondition, but a surface navy was essential, and the Germans didn’t have it. The destroyer force had taken grievous losses in Norway; heavier ships were few and slow to build; an amphibious fleet was nonexistent; and the German ability to remedy any of these deficiencies was notional at best.

    Jumping forward to the 1990s, it is more plausible that Saddam Hussein didn’t invade Saudi Arabia because that would have overstepped his stated legitimization for invading Kuwait (cross-border oil drilling), and he expected a negotiated peace. Invading Saudi Arabia would end any chance of that and probably opened his flank to the Iranians as well. Once Desert Storm kicked off, the damage to lines of communication was notable, but probably made little difference to Iraqi units which were being overrun at first contact.

    To the Air Force’s credit, the mess of Allied Force in 1999 seems to have been (Army) General Wesley Clark’s fault, although the Air Force still seems to be in denial over how ineffective strikes on mobile targets in the mountains were. Once the campaign turned to a doctrinaire campaign against infrastructure, things started to change, but the campaign remains a largely-unlearned lesson in how ineffective operational excellence can be without strategic understanding.

    Third, proving that the Army was foolish in neglecting fire support and air defense doesn’t prove anything beyond the Army’s myopia. There are still many situations where the best fire support would be surface-to-surface and the best air defense would be surface-to-air, and the lack of those options simply means we are using the second-best solution.

    Fourth, cue the standard speech on the importance of air superiority, and how it automatically translates to success. Everyone in the world has been watching everything the United States has done in the last 25 years: bad guys know what doesn’t work and they have some idea of what does. Just because past enemies have been unable to effectively deny airspace doesn’t mean that future enemies can’t, and if they succeed, the Army had better learn how to provide its own fire support and air defense. Armies have done it for millennia, some still do, so I’m sure we can figure out how to again.

    So what do I want the Air Force to do? Operationally, figure out what you do uniquely well, and get even better. Merely flying aircraft isn’t unique to the Air Force, and there are some platforms and missions that you aren’t the best at, and never will be. Consider giving those (and their funding) away, in trade for platforms and missions the other services aren’t great at, and the Air Force could do better.

    1. Some counterpoint:
      First — actually, if you read the full version of GEN Milley’s speech, he is indeed talking about the operational realm, and more than that, trying to make a case that the Army is essential to the Navy and Air Force achieving sea or air control in denied areas. In context — for instance, when he starts talking about the Army sinking ships — it’s just more posturing to keep Army combat forces relevant as a major component in a Pacific theater dominated by air and water. A discussion for another time….

      Second — you’ve missed the point. In hindsight, the German Army proved tactically and operationally much better than the French and British in 1940…but the Germans didn’t know that going in. What was certain was the French had more of everything, and the lesson learned from 1914 was that speed was paramount — for that, air superiority was essential. That allowed the Luftwaffe to help shape the battlefield by detecting and slowing French movements, and above all, by denying the French a clear picture of the battlefield, preventing otherwise vulnerable spearhead forces from being blocked, and allowing them to cause confusion and panic out of proportion to their actual numbers. If that argument isn’t compelling, fast forward four years, where Allied air superiority played a critical role in preventing the Germans from discerning the actual cross-Channel invasion site — the invasion force massed and crossed the Channel undetected until almost literally the last minute — and additionally prevented the Germans from operationally maneuvering forces within France to oppose the landings until the entire invasion force was ashore.

      Again, in hindsight, we didn’t know whether Saddam intended to move on the northern Saudi oil fields…and it wouldn’t be the first time that a commander changed the strategic objective based on runaway operational success (see Korea, 1950…). I’m more disposed than Starbaby to give some credit to getting the 82d to the desert, not so much for the combat power, but simply for adding to the visible U.S. presence, and as he points out, that took airpower to make happen. In fact, the Army hasn’t moved troops by ship since 1968 — since then, all strategic troop movement is by air.

      Third and fourth — absolutely. But why has the Army felt comfortable in letting their artillery and air defense capability degrade? Moreover, GEN Milley wasn’t talking about rebuilding those capabilities as an integral combined arms force — again, his message is that these Army capabilities will be necessary to facilitate air and naval operations under A2/AD “umbrellas”. On the other hand, he doesn’t say how they’re going to get there.

      So last…you’re right, it’s much more than flying aircraft. Everyone flies aircraft…the Air Force maneuvers and employs aerial forces across theater and global distances. I’ve made the argument before that surface forces are positional — they exercise persistent combat power and control battlespace by virtue of where they are. They maneuver over theater and global distances relatively slowly, and their persistence requires a link to a logistical sanctuary. Air forces are inherently projection forces — they exercise transient combat power and control battlespace by virtue of where they can reach from sanctuary. They maneuver over theater and global distances at tempos an order of magnitude (or two) faster than surface forces, but maintaining presence or influence in any particular location for an extended period is very difficult, if possible at all. So it’s beyond platforms and specific missions — it’s about how you take advantage of the unique aspects of the force and the environment and use it to best advantage. CAS, to take the perennial whipping boy, is not simply about delivering aerial fires supporting a group of troops in contact. Since we can’t provide every infantry company with a battery of artillery and a pair of A-10s, it’s about being able to maneuver forces rapidly across the theater battlespace to deliver aerial fires to support *any* group of troops in contact. Or to strike enemy forces before they reach contact. Or to speed the strategic maneuver of persistent forces. And deny the enemy the ability to do any of the same.

      1. I agree that we have much we could discuss, given the time.

        I also agree that Army statements sound more like a Beltway beggar looking for procurement funding than they do cogent operational constructs. On the other hand, I also think most statements from the Air Force are similarly focused on winning Pentagon battles rather than real ones. Your take on the historical contributions of air power is far more nuanced than the average USAF dictum that air superiority equals victory, without qualification or explanation.

        Briefly, if they were mine to restructure, I would reorganize the Army along task-focused lines reminiscent of our WWII German and Cold War Soviet adversaries; and refocus the Air Force on the independent operations it was founded on. The Army would be responsible for land-based maneuver, to include mobile air defense and forward air/artillery support, while the Air Force would be responsible for airspace operations in generally static areas.

        Aerial firepower is most lethal either employed on soft targets in the rear–the World War II aspiration made practical with PGMs–or employed in direct support of a dynamic surface advance, in which the destruction of the airstrike merely enables the far greater effect of overrunning and encircling disrupted enemy forces.

        1. Better yet, re-combine the Air Force and the Army as the Land Warfare Branch with a single command structure, somewhat but far from completely analogous to the US Navy with its Marine Corps, who are more like cousins than brothers in arms. The Air Force and Army are brothers in arms and should have a single command structure, ranks, etc. Get rid of the never-ending and deleterious inter-branch competition for funding. Both the current Army and Air Force would benefit, and the nation would benefit. The entire notion of the separation of the branches came out of a supposition in the 1940s that aerial warfare and strategic nuclear bombing was soon going to make ground warfare obsolete.

          1. The Air Force has never been very good at land warfare, even when they were part of the Army. I would shift attack aviation, battlefield ISR, and likely all special operations aviation from the Air Force to the Army, but the remaining branches are probably best kept in a separate service.

  4. I’d like to see an analysis of how effective Iran, Russia or China’s Air Forces are against surface targets. If I read between the lines in Syria, the US Army doesn’t have much to fear from Red Air. Equally, China may be working on nicer capabilities / numbers but I’d say its pretty clear they’ve invested in A2/AD type systems and surface to surface fires at the expense of air to surface fires. Why fly a fighter-bomber through F-22s, F-35s, AEGIS and PATRIOT to bomb us with cut-rate JDAMs or laser guided bombs? Makes more sense to TBM us at operational nodes. Starbaby may be mirroring a bit here on what the threat actually is. Or maybe I need to get back into the vault. Either way, he didn’t convince me the Army is dependent on airpower to maneuver or fight given the lack of adversary airpower to attack us. Now, if the discussion is the Army can’t advance without airpower providing CAS and interdiction…. okay, we can discuss that, but then we’re looking at the AF not having enough “punch” to take down peer IADs then provide CAS/AI. That’s our fault, not the Army’s.