Christopher Rein, a professor at the Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College, has written a cutting criticism [pdf] of Robert M. Farley’s Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force.
Rein summarizes the book’s problem(s) in the middle of his essay:
It is inarguable that the USAF cannot decide wars alone. Nor can either the Navy or Army, yet Farley does not therefore call for their elimination. Further, were those services to take over many of the USAF’s current functions, including, for instance, supervision of ICBMs and cyber warfare initiatives, such “sharing” of assets and responsibilities would not yield, as Farley believes, cost savings and other efficiencies. Both remaining services would have to secure funding and allocate assets to air defense and many other missions in direct competition with each other.
The idea of dissolving the Air Force comes up every once in a while. It’s something for the other branches to focus on when budgetary battles get so heated they become existential and ad hominem.
On the other hand, a piece I can highly recommend as being logical and worthy of further consideration and debate is Lt. Col. Mark Chitwood’s “Merge and Align the Army Reserve Component.”
I’ve written before about merging the Guard and Reserve and I’ve also mentioned Lt. Col. Chitwood’s studies of the idea. I can say that his arguments have only grown stronger since that time. He recently published the above article on the subject. (I’ve edited the below to delete a little jargon and references to legislation. Hope you don’t mind, Mark.).
The Army should create a more relevant Reserve Component (USAR) by transferring designated units to the Army National Guard (ARNG), aligning them with the numbered regions of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and consolidating the remaining USAR units under the Director of the ARNG, who subsumes the role of the Chief of the USAR. This construct provides 28% more resources tailored for decentralized defense support of civil authorities, enhances capabilities to respond to complex catastrophes, and provides a single proponent for the Army Reserve Component.
This is an idea I believe could, contra Farley’s, save the country money.
Lt. Col. Chitwood ably meets Rein’s prerequisite that
“Those in favor of reorganization or reform of the structure of US military services would do well to proceed with caution and to emulate the framers of the Goldwater–Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.”
Instead of getting rid of the Air Force, let’s “get rid” of the Reserve by using it more effectively and efficiently.