Friday, October 08, 2004

The US Air Force makes a play for space.....

I have always thought vessels in space need to be crewed and operated like Naval vessels. Tonite I found a link to an article about a new position paper the USAF has on how they should be in charge in space. This is merely a power grab on the part of the Air Force, that constantly wants to have war a on a go to combat, come back for a beer concept. That has it's merits for here on earth, but it doesn't "fly" (pun intended) in space. I say: THE NAVY CAN HANDLE SPACE! Here are my comments that rounds out my logic: Intersting article. I'd add my comment that we should seriously consider the high ground of space for our national defense, yet I submit, the US Navy is who should be in charge of this effort. I know the USAF thinks they desreve it, but the Air Force (please sit back down, you jet jockeys, and listen) has experience in things that go up and come back to earth a few hours later, well, if you're a bomber crew person, then maybe a day later. The key here is staying aloft a day or less only requires you to take a few essentials, if anything at all, with you for the period of your operation. The US Navy, on the other hand, has the edge in knowling how to set up for an extended operation. One key here is you can't do it with a few people. The crew has to rotate duty stations, so they are effective after the first 24-36 hours. As a result, they have to have berthing spaces, not just a shared bunk in the rear of the aircraft, and things like mess halls, and medical facilities, and storerooms full of spare parts, and most of all, crews with a reasonable amount of cross training to be able to quickly handle emergencies and combat operations. Gee, sounds like a ship or submarine to me. The Army has more ships thatn the Navy, but they are little ones, so possibily you could argue that some of the sea-going soldiers would have a place in the space faring force, besides being assault troops. Certainly the Marines know all about having to hang out on ships, working out all day, eating all the ice cream and watching all the movies, then complaining about nothing to eat, and no more movies to watch, so they'd fit right in. The Air Force does little to train for this type of environment. They have clubs, where you can come back from a mission and have a beer, and then go to the base theater, or bowling alley, have more beer, and be entertained, safe in the rear areas. This is not to say that the Air Force doens't contribute to the battle, they do, just their exposure to combat comes and goes, while the other services enter a combat zone and have to manage in it for extended periods of time, and this implies inclusion of massive logistical support requirements, which, certainly the Navy is well suited to do. and, in case you want to argue the point, the Navy was around long before the Wright brothers go us into the air... Now, to my crowning point: Can you name a serious space Sci-Fi show or movie where the crew of the craft had the Commanding Officer take a place at the helm in other than emergency conditions? Nope, they fly about the to the final frontier, with the Captain giving orders to the helmsman, who then steers the vessel. They ahve officers and enlisted to handle the myriad of jobs this creates, and a working chain of command designed for larger crews. Even the series "Enterprise," the postulated first long term exploration of space has a crew hurtling around at Warp, running the show just like a ship! Captain Kirk and Picard, along with the same model of vessel control being used by the Klingons, Vulcans and Romulans! I rest my case. I say put the Squids in Space! Besides, who need s a zoomie complaining all the way to the asteroid belt about no place within an astronomical unit to get a cold one? That would be really annoying.... Full disclosure: My first professional career was as a Naval Surface Warfare Officer, and I spent 9 years assigned to sea going commands, driving ships across most of the oceans of the world, to include extended operational deployments (6-7 months) to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, the Western Pacific, and the South Pacific and Atlantic. My operational responsibilities included assignments in Operations, Combat Systems and Engineering departments. I stood watches as Officer of the Deck (Underway), Combat Information Center Watch Officer, Tactical Action Officer, Ships Weapons Controller, and Engineering Officer of the Watch. I also picked up a few hours of "stick" time in T-34s, TA-4s and CH-46s along the way. This article is a little tounge in cheek humor, yet has a degree of seriousness to it as well. All memebers of the Armed forces of the US are valuable members in the defense of freedom, and all of us were trained to specific skill sets. Certainly the Air Force personnel could be trained in "ship handling," it's just more fun to see them squirm as the thread of inter-service rivalry continues to play out into the future.

1 comment:

Gray Hogan said...

I must comment as I have had the pleasure of working on an Air Force Base.

I was a HN. Yeah, I didn't sail far in the ranks, but I did get to serve at both an Army and an Air Force Hospital.

You see, it boils down to territoriality and Politically Correctness. Nobody wants to concede that their forces are worse than anothers (*cough*Navy docs rule *cough*), and everyone wants the glory of working for the winning team.

It's long been held that the Air Force, while very good, doesn't have the presence that Naval Air Force does- and has been struggling to distance itself from the Army forever- It's like asking a Marine how he got somewhere. Sure, he's badass, but does he REALLY want to admit he took a Navy Ship to get there?