Read the McCaffrey air power memo here

The US Air Force has found a strategic best friend in Barry McCaffrey, the influential retired Army general and outspoken Rumsfeld critic who is now officially employed as an adjunct professor at West Point.

After getting a whirlwind tour of backgrounders with air force four stars and dog-and-pony technology shows back in August, McCaffrey last week penned an extraordinary memo detailing seven new air power “imperatives”.

These imperatives, if followed, would make some of the USAF’s wildest modernization dreams come true.

According to McCaffrey, the USAF needs to:

1. Buy 350 F-22s, or about twice the 185 currently under contract

2. Buy more than 600 C-17s, or more than thrice the 190 currently on contract

3. Replace the “vulnerable” and “inadequate” B-2 with a next-generation bomber

4. Retire the entire C-5 fleet

5. Ditch the C-130 as a Future Combat Systems transport

6. And, oh yeah, give the USAF full control of all UAVs in the battlespace

McCaffrey’s memo was distributed to his West Point buddies, but was quickly circulated and the memo’s quotes about Iraq were the subject of a column last week by veteran military reporter Joey Galloway.

Read McCaffrey’s seven imperatives by clicking on the link below.

1st — The F-22A Raptor.

• There is no single greater priority for the coming 10 years for the US Air Force than funding, deploying, and maintaining three-hundred and fifty (350+) F-22A Raptor aircraft to ensure air-to-air total dominance of battlefield air space in future contested areas. The Air Force has been forced to trade away their modernization budget because the aircraft has minimal value in low-intensity ground-air combat operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. (The current 91 aircraft are simply inadequate for anything but special missions).

• This combat aircraft is sheer magic. It cannot be matched by anything the world can produce for 25 years. It is vital that we never let this technology be eligible for any FMS sales.

• F-22A provides a national strategic stealth technology to conduct— LONG RANGE (Cruises at high supersonic speed without afterburner) PENETRATION (at altitudes greater than 15 kilometers) —UNDETECTED into any nation’s air space —at Mach 2+ HIGH SPEED—and then DESTROY KEY TARGETS (aircraft or missiles on the ground, radar, command and control, nuclear stockpiled weapons, key leadership targets, etc) — and then EGRESS WITH MINIMAL THREAT from any possible air-to-air or air-defense system. It cannot be defeated in air combat by any known current or estimated future enemy aircraft (thrust vector technology).

2nd — The C-17 Globemaster III.

• We must create the strategic national military airlift and air-to-air refuel capability (600+ C-17 aircraft) to project national military and humanitarian power in the global environment. We currently have an inadequate capability with 150 aircraft supported by an aging refueling fleet. The C-5 aircraft must be retired—these planes are shot. The Army must back off the dubious proposition that they will size their ground combat force around the volume and lift metrics of the C-130 — and instead use the C-17 as the sizing template.

• The Rumsfeld doctrine postulated bringing home deployed Army and Air Force capabilities from Europe, Okinawa, and Korea. This seismic strategic shift was unexamined and not debated by Congress or the American people. We are bringing home ground and air strike assets thousands of miles— from basing infrastructure paid for by allies— to unprepared US launch platforms. If we are to pose a serious deterrent capability in the dangerous world arena— then we must credibly be able to project power back into future combat areas to sustain allies at risk.

• The C-17 represents the capacity to carry out this strategic power projection mission —as well as providing intra-theater logistics and humanitarian lift for pin point distribution of thousands of truck load equivalents of supply per day.

• The C-17 is a global national transportation asset— not merely a military or Air Force system.

3rd — Air Force Global UAV ISR and STRIKE Capability.

• Primary control of these assets should be exercised by centralized Joint Air Component command and control.

• We have already made a 100 year war-fighting leap-ahead with MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper, and Global Hawk. Now we have loiter times in excess of 24 hours, persistent eyes-on-target, micro-kill with Hellfire and 500 lb JADAM bombs, synthetic aperture radar, and a host of ISR sensors and communications potential that have fundamentally changed the nature of warfare.

• We are confusing the joint battle space doctrine. Air Component Commanders should coordinate all UAV’s based on Combatant Commander situational war-fighting directives.
4th — Create and Maintain Air Force Space Primacy Capabilities.

• Our global communications, ISR, and missile defense capabilities cannot operate without secure, robust, and modernized space platforms. We will drop back to WWII era capabilities if we suddenly lose our space advantage. Space is an under-resourced and inadequately defended vital US technical capability.

5th — Air Force Defensive and Offensive Cyber-Warfare Capabilities.

• We must expand exponentially the resources, R&D, and human talent devoted to the massive and on-going war against our US communications-computer-control systems. This is the “poor man’s” Weapon of Mass Destruction. Every classified brief I receive underscores the absolute certainty that all our potential adversaries, terrorist organizations, and many private criminal groups conduct daily electronic reconnaissance and probes of the electro-magnetic spectrum and devices which are fundamental to our national security strategy. We lead the world in technical creativity in these associated engineering and scientific areas. This calls for a serious Joint Combatant Command status with a heavy Air Force component lead.

• We must sort out clearly the international legal and policy considerations upon which we will base widely understood Joint Directives governing the centralized employment of offensive cyber-warfare. This is the first sword to unsheathe in time of modern combat.
6th — Next Generation Long-Range Bomber.

• We need a follow-on long-range system to the B-2 Spirit Bomber. The B-52 needs to be retired within the decade. The B-2 is inadequate and too vulnerable as a long-range strike platform. The B-2 at $ one billion (+) a copy— with only 21 combat aircraft— is too difficult and too outmoded a technology to again start up a production line.

• Our offensive capability should include not only long-range ICBM missiles with conventional capabilities and sea launched missiles— but also a fully modernized stealth heavy strike bomber with global range.

7th — Ballistic Missile Defense.

• It is extremely gratifying to see the enormous scientific and engineering successes of the on-going deployment of a layered national ballistic missile defense. I have been to Ft Greely in Alaska and verified the genuine shoot down capability we now have for mid-course and terminal engagement. The US Air Force Airborne Laser is just short of operational deployment. The Navy Aegis Systems now have valid intercept and radar integration into the defensive concept. The system needs substantial continued R&D investment and continued operational incremental upgrades in the coming 15 years.

• Ballistic Missile Defense will be a central aspect of any possible successful arms control strategy to convince North Korea, Iran, and other rogue states to eventually back off the proliferation of missile delivered nuclear weapons. Notwithstanding the continued debate among national security experts— it is my firm judgment that there is no higher defensive responsibility for the US Armed Forces than the deployment and continued upgrade of a coherent, global, treaty-based BMD system.


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4 Responses to Read the McCaffrey air power memo here

  1. Steeljaw Scribe 22 October, 2007 at 5:13 pm #

    Interesting juxtaposition between this memo of “imperatives” and the discussions going on here and here over the newly released Maritime Strategy.

    The former reads as little more than an enhanced shopping list whilst commentaries on the latter bemoan (among other things)the fact that force structure was “punted” down the road…

    - SJS

  2. J. 22 October, 2007 at 6:59 pm #

    I’ll grant him the points on C17 airlift and the F22 IF the Air Force drops the C5 modernization funds and the F35 development, as well as starting to phase out the F15/F18 varients. Disagree on the UAVs, the Army should retain tactical UAVs – can’t count on the AF priorities. As far as supporting the AF Airborne Laser, HA! It’s reaching too far with immature technology, it needs to go.

  3. HerkEng 23 October, 2007 at 4:54 am #

    This sounds like something Carlo Kopp would be writing…if he were in the US

  4. Lugo 23 October, 2007 at 3:28 pm #

    Calling the F-22 “long range” is simply fatuous.

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