Security Scholars vs. the US Air Force

January 13, 2014

Max Lord and Robert Farley have been advocating for an abolishment of the US Air Force, with its functions given over to the Navy and the Army (as they were when air power first developed until reorganization after World War Two).  Their arguments have not gained much traction, but they are back with a modified call to eliminate Outer Space from the Air Force realm of operations.   Their argument here makes a little more sense:

Like the sky and the sea, space is a commons; no state has a right to exclude others. Both the Navy and the Air Force have developed conceptual approaches to this commons.

Air Force space doctrine pre-emptively militarizes space. “Due to its speed, range, and three-dimensional perspective, air and space power operate in ways that are fundamentally different from other forms of military power,” the flying branch has stated. “Thus, air power and space power are more akin to each other than to the other forms of military power.”

But we argue that the Navy’s cooperative concept of the commons is more applicable to space than the Air Force’s concept, that the responsibility for space would fit more comfortably in the Navy than in the Air Force, and that, consequently, American pre-eminence in space can survive the end of the USAF.

I am an Air Force veteran and a member of the Air Force Association.  However, I am also a member of the US Naval Institute and a firm believer in the primacy of the navy as a determinant of US power; if forced to choose, I would privilege the Navy over the Air Force.  However, I would rather see defense reform that drastically shrinks the Army and puts the majority of its resources into the technically focused strategic services, the Navy and Air Force.  This would mean adopting offshore balancing as the strategic foundation of national defense.  I could even see giving all expeditionary land duties to the Marines and reducing the Army to a territorial service, sort of making the Army to the Marines what the Coast Guard is to the Navy.

I can see the argument for making space primarily a domain for the Navy.  But I cannot see doing so as a stalking horse for eliminating the Air Force.  We need services that are focused on advanced technology, as are both the Navy and the Air Force.  Rendering the Air Force duties to the Army would represent a tremendous technological loss at a time when our tech advantage is already diminishing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: