On one of our first dates, I took Misty to see a couple of Warthogs.
We drove out to a weekend air show at a little airfield in Burnet, Texas. It was one of those Texas spring days when your internal thermostat can’t decide whether it’s a little too cool or a little too hot. We were able to walk around looking at the A-10 Warthogs and other aircraft. I told Misty my dad had been in a tactical air support squadron while stationed in Korea in 1990. (I have the clock his colleagues gave him as a parting gift.) Later, of course, we watched the beautiful beasts perform in flight.
But it isn’t sentiment that makes me believe the Air Force is making the wrong decision by retiring the entire A-10 fleet due to budget cuts. I believe the A-10 Warthog plays an essential role in close air support that few other platforms can, and especially not the F-35 (purchases of which they continue to cut back) and unmanned-aerial vehicles.
Ultimately, as we learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, though we’d forgotten (and seem to be forgetting again), to win (or even lose one) a war decisively requires boots on the ground – soldiers going from door to door. It has always been thus and always will be. No matter how many stand-off weapons you have. Germany, Russia, China, North Korea, Iraq or anywhere else. In a real conflict, there will be, in the end, boots on the ground. And those boots need the A-10 to perform the duty it for which it has been so perfectly designed: Saving American troops’ lives when it counts.
I hate to say it, but, if the Air Force is going to send the A-10 to the boneyard, let’s please, please, please remove restrictions and give it to the Army or Marines – as much as I’d hate to see my beloved in their hands. In a way, we’re abandoning our best CAS platform and the joint force.
This is just an example of the larger problem with sequestration, though. Our strategy must lead our resources – not the other way around. This isn’t only a cry for the A-10, it’s a cry for the end of sequestration.