Finally, the public is starting to hear that the U.S. Air Force is just as stressed as the other branches of service. Airmen who signed up for the most powerful air force in the world find themselves in a hollow force that spends more time worrying about sexual assault training and the compliance of minutiae. The Heritage foundation ran an independent assessment that pretty much concludes what today’s Airmen already know:
- Readiness, fighter pilot proficiency, warfighter mindset, and manning have fallen to a modern era all-time low
- War-fighting capacity has fallen to half of its stated objective
- Standards of excellence and quality have deteriorated
I would add another observation: good leadership has been bred out of the top ranks and made room for weak minds to rise to the top. One only needs to peruse the JQPublic blog in order to find a plethora of stories citing the Air Force’s issues with leadership and lack thereof.
First, let us look at how much damage has been done to the U.S. military over the past generation (go ahead and pick your favorite politician to blame if you want, but the entirety of the U.S. government and the electorate that put them there are somewhat culpable). The Vice Chief of the U.S. Army reported to the House Armed Services Committee earlier in 2017 that only 3 of its 56 Brigade Combat Teams are ready for full-spectrum combat. The Vice Chief of Naval Operations reported that 1/3 of its fighters and 1/2 of all aircraft are flyable. The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps reported that only 20% of all aviators get adequate flying time. In a separate testimony The Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations reported 50% of its combat air forces are prepared for full-spectrum combat, and only 4 of 55 fighter squadrons (Active, Guard, or Reserve) are at the highest level of readiness based on the Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS) rating system.
To further exacerbate the problem, the Air Force, which is supposed to be the leader in offensive counter air (OCA), has lost its domain expertise in high-threat/high-intensity combat (HiTHI).
The Air Force is content with handing out teal ropes for Airmen to wear in order to show who the real leaders are–the ones who spend more time thinking about sexual harassment than their jobs! The Russian news service has noticed that the Air Force seems incapable of passing a Nuclear Surety Inspection. The Air Force repeatedly botches its “Force Shaping” initiatives.
I could go on and on belaboring the issues that have haunted the military branch that I served for two decades, but for now I will end it here and state that that I am proud of my service and I hope things get better.