Raptor Sighting

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I'm not quite sure I understand the logic behind stealing funds from the F-22 fighter program and mothballing an aircraft carrier in order to raise cash for the ongoing war on terror. Unlike the canceled Crusader artillery system and the Comanche attack chopper, air superiority is not only important against large mechanized standing armies. Most anything you want to do versus bad guys requires control of the air.

Losing a new fighter wing or carrier group might look sustainable now, but it is the kind of decision America will have to live with for many decades into an uncertain future. Accordingly, taking action that might reduce U.S. air capability and flexibility must be a last-resort option. And if we are truly down to last resorts, the invasion of Iraq was a bigger strategic mistake than I thought possible.

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  1. The flip side is that air dominance can be achieved over any of the possible war on terror adversaries with F-15s. The superior stealth abilities of F22 are not useful at all against the poor quality air defense nets in the cities in question. After an initial ‘iron hand’ stealth mission to break a hole in the active missile systems, which we can accomplish with much cheaper assets than F22, the enemy we are fighting is left with the blind flak theory of air defense.

    F22 is very expensive. It is an important long term strategic measure as a check on China, but it can wait. You might note that they are not cutting the multi role JSF, because it is useful in both the near term and down the road.

    Crusader died because it was too heavy to move. Comanche died because people are finally seeing the limitations of the attack helocopter in built up areas. Namely, they can be taken down easily with RPGs and other cheap missile and gun systems.

  2. On the other flip side, why is it necessary that spending cuts to offset increased Iraq war spending need to come out of anything in the defense budget at all?

    There are plenty of totally useless government spending programs and/or departments, agencies, etc. that could be cut or eliminated.

    Like the federal department of Education. Education is supposed to be a state and local reponsibilty in the first place – not a federal one.

    And how about federal farm subsidies and price supports? That’s certainly a lot bigger waste of the taxpayers money than spending it on F-22’s

  3. Jeff:

    We would have air superiority now and for the forseeable future if we did nothing for the next 20 years. Granted other nations have F-16’s and F-15’s but we have more of them than all other countries combined (www.globalsecurity.org). UAV’s are the big new thing in our wars against individual terrorists and specific figures, which I would argue is where we are headed. Remember when we went to war with Iraq we were figting not against a country but against faces on a deck of cards.

    Anyway, the Globalhawk UAV can take off from anywhere in the world fly around for 50 hours and shoot the bad guys in just about any part of the world. It costs less than the FA/22 and you don’t have to invest as much to train the pilot. The Army is also short on equipment and people. Cutting back on some unneeded programs will help.

    We could plan for a war against a peer competitor in the future that might happen. Or we could try to win the war now without wasting taxpayer money…

    Jason the Commanche died because it was too expensive (50 Mil each) and because it was a Recon helicopter. The scout mission is being taken over by UAV’s. Also unless a helicopter is hovering still for a long it is pretty hard to hit with an RPG. In Somalia they hovered still to long in an urban area the ones in Iraq were shot down with heat seekers. You are probably correct that helicopters aren’t good in urban areas but I am biast…

    Gilbert I would argue that waste is waste no matter where in the government it is at.

  4. Has anybody begun to crunch the numbers for how expensive it’s going to be to kick Iran’s ass, and Syria, and North Korea, and…?
    Is Dubya leading us over a cliff, or what?

  5. Scrapping a couple of gigabuck defense projects, is probably one of the more benign consequences of the administrations military incompetence.

  6. “Has anybody begun to crunch the numbers for how expensive it’s going to be to kick Iran’s ass, and Syria, and North Korea, and…?”

    How much do a few Trident MIRV’s cost?

    That’s all it would take to take them all out.

  7. Gilbert-

    Are you planning on an occupation afterwards?

  8. Is the “Pottery Barn” stratagery sound?

  9. “Gilbert-

    Are you planning on an occupation afterwards?”

    Nah.

    No need.

  10. Thoreau, would you want to be in the ocupation force for a country that just got nuked? I want my children to only have two legs, thank you.

  11. Sorry, I didn’t realize that Gilbert was referring to nukes.

    And I’m sure that if we turn a few countries into radioactive glass and kill a bunch of innocents there’s absolutely no way that could ever come back to bite us in the ass.

  12. The administration is not saving money with these recent cuts, they?re advocates of the maneuver-warfare doctrine of warfighting. They are making a leaner, meaner military.

    Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney have ties to the military reform movement that started within the Pentagon in the 70s. Col. John Boyd?s biography (?Boyd?) discusses the overall subject in great detail and mentions Cheney as it was he Boyd who were main architects of the blueprint for the ground attack on Iraq in the first gulf war.

    The opposing doctrine and the one seen as ?conventional? and thus the norm is attrition-warfare. The body count mentality of Vietnam is text book attrition-warfare.

    I?m a former Marine and amateur military strategist and would absolutely love to expound on these two doctrines if anyone is interested. I can even recommend some great apolitical books on the subject and yes, for you philosophers, Sun Tzu is one of them.

  13. The Raptor program was originally for a $25-million fighter, they are now over $250-million each! THat’s reasone enough to stop and re-examine if we really need them. Exactly whom are we to fly them against? How many advanced opponents do we have in the 21st-century? China is more likely an sphere-of-influence rival than an overt military antagonist.
    If the F-35 Joint Strike-fighter program procedes with it’s land-based, carrier, and VTOL-variants I’d rather see a program to build the next-generation A-10 Warthog ground-attackcraft. An inexpensive, high-survivability, slow loiter airplane that can get up-close and personal. The helicopter gunships have too-many exposed rotating parts for close-in fighting. We need more Warthogs in the inventory along with more Hercules gunships.

  14. “And I’m sure that if we turn a few countries into radioactive glass and kill a bunch of innocents there’s absolutely no way that could ever come back to bite us in the ass.”

    That’s right.

    Once we “make an example” out of a punk country like North Korea, the rest of the punks will fall in line and get with the program as to who the boss of the world is.

  15. See…all we need is articulate and mobile robots with guns. Program in a few macro moves, hook up a transciever, and then the soldiers could be thousands of miles away. We’ll fight through our robot proxies.

    Damn, I’m sure ten kids with PS2 controllers could command 100 of those sort of things.

  16. Cut military programs?!?!? That’s so Clintonian. Or is that Kerryian? 🙂

    thoreau,

    Gilbert is proposing the use of some MIRVed (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles) against Iran, etc.

    There ar two missiles typically referred to as “Trident missiles”: (1) the Trident-I (C-4)& (2) the Trident-II (D-5) (C4 & D5 connote the lineage from which the Tridents derive – the Polaris (A1-A3) and Poseidon (C3) missiles). The Trident I was phased out around 2000-2001.

    They are currently housed on Ohio class submarines (commonly referred to as “Trident” submarines); 14 of which are SSBNs (ballistic missile submarine) and 4 of which are SSGNs (guided missile submarines – they are armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles with convention warheads).

    The Royal Navy’s Vanguard SSBNs are also armed with Trident missiles (I can’t recall if they are Trident I or IIs); Britain has four such missile boats.

    Other nations have developed their own SLBMs. For example, France, like Britain, has four missile boats (Le Triomphant class – the last is due to enter service in 2008) that currently are armed with 16 M45 missiles a piece; the M45 is to be replaced with the far longer range missile the M51 in 2008, which are in turn to be replaced by the even longer ranged M5 in 2015. They also carry the latest version of the exocet missile making them a formidable weapon against surface fleets.

    The PRC deployed their own missile boats in 1981, but they are not remotely as quiet, sensitive or as destructive (they carry only six SLBMs a piece – compare that the 24 on the Ohio class or 16 on the Le Triomphant class) as the SSBNs put to sea by the U.S., U.K. or France. Nor are the SLBMs that they carry as destructive, accurate, etc., as the SLBMS carried by U.S., U.K. or French missile boats.

  17. Gilbert Martin,

    Sorry, the probability of the U.S. nuking any of those nations is VERY LOW in part because America’s strategic position on the use of nuclear weapons is one of deterrance and defense and not offense. Now, maybe the development of far more accurate “mini-nukes” (which would mitigate the significant “collateral damage” issues associated with our current nuclear arsenal) might change that position, but as they are not yet much beyond the drawing board, that option has not yet arrived.

  18. “Gilbert is proposing the use of some MIRVed (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles) against Iran, etc. ”

    Well that’s just if we want to make a “regular” example out of them. If we want to really make the point we can dust off some of those 25 megaton H-bombs that the SAC B-52’s used to fly around with and hit them with those.

  19. Gilbert Martin,

    Why not just make few cobalt bombs so we can make the area completely uninhabitable until we want to go in and mine the gold that is part of the fallout, eh? Or maybe see if Russia has anything left like the the 50 Mt Tsar Bomba?

  20. Ted,
    The $250 million per aircraft number is probably a little misleading as it probably includes development costs. The actual cost to build one is probably far less once you get a good design. For example, to build a B-2 now costs about $500 million. To design and build the first one cost $20 billion. Considering we only built 20 you can claim each B-2 cost around $1 billion each. The US was originally going to build well over 1000 F-22s and they are now down to less than 200. Does wonders for the cost per aircraft when you cut the number of aircraft you were going to build by five.

    Don’t fall in love with UAVs. They suffer from most of the same development problems as all other aircraft with a few of their own thrown in.

  21. Ted the Air Force has already tried to get rid of the A-10 a couple of times they stopped short when the Army said “fine we will take it. The JTF is actually supposed to replace the A-10

  22. Ted:

    Also along those same lines the real money makes in Iraq and Afganistan for us as far as Close Air Support and Urban fighting has been the AC-130 spectre or spooky gunship. Which is basically a nice old cheap C-130 with 105mm, and several other guns out the side out the side. It can loiter around the battle field for around 2 hours.

  23. makes=maker 🙁

    cut out one ‘out the side’

    proofread you moron…

  24. Gilbert “Gnarly” Martin,
    At least you have a stratagery!
    Nothing is so rare as a day in June with a stratagery and a big-ass nuke.

    I question only the timing.
    Just after 9-11 would have been ideal, but the iron may have gotten too cool to strike.

    Should we provoke something?

  25. Once we “make an example” out of a punk country like North Korea, the rest of the punks will fall in line and get with the program as to who the boss of the world is.

    Good thing that there’s nothing in human nature that might cause desperate and angry people to lash out against a brutal “world boss” who nukes a country full of starving children.

    Gary-

    Is there anything that you don’t know? Just in the past couple days you’ve read one of the articles in the original French, and now you’ve demonstrated considerable knowledge of current military hardware. You’re multi-lingual, broadly educated on history, conversant with biochemistry, a legal scholar, and apparently quite knowledgeable of military matters.

    Care to join us in discussing lasers or cold fusion?

  26. “Good thing that there’s nothing in human nature that might cause desperate and angry people to lash out against a brutal “world boss” who nukes a country full of starving children.”

    Good thing that a DESIRE to do something doesn’t translate into a CAPABILITY to do something.

  27. Good thing that a DESIRE to do something doesn’t translate into a CAPABILITY to do something.

    Yeah, not like terrorists with limited means have ever managed to do significant harm with improvised explosive devices, fertilizer bombs, or boxcutter knives.

    Definitely not. As long as we nuke hostile nation-states out of existence, we won’t have to worry about non-state groups innovating with simple tools.

  28. “Why not just make few cobalt bombs so we can make the area completely uninhabitable until we want to go in and mine the gold that is part of the fallout, eh?”

    I’m not really familiar with cobalt bombs.

    I have heard of neutron bombs – the so called “landlord bomb” because it kills all the people with radation and leaves buildings intact.

    That could be an option for any area that has valuable oil producing facilities, etc.

  29. “Yeah, not like terrorists with limited means have ever managed to do significant harm with improvised explosive devices, fertilizer bombs, or boxcutter knives.”

    That’s right.

    Terrorists who have been turned to ash in their own country before they can get over here won’t be able to do a thing. Neither will terrorists whose funding sources and safe harbor places in other countries have been wiped out be able to get over here either.

    It’s like I always say, there just aren’t any problems that can’t be solved with a massive use of violence.

  30. Gilbert-

    Just how many places do you propose nuking? No matter how many places you nuke, there will be survivors in other countries. Some of them will be quite angry, and they will find a way to hurt us without large amounts of funding.

    Or do you propose to nuke everything outside the US? Even then, there might be a few people in this country who would be upset over killing most of the world’s population.

  31. The A-10 is an awesome aircraft and one that the AirForce absolutely did not want. It was a direct result of the military reform movement and Col. Boyd that I mentioned earlier.

    The USAF has long disdained the close-air-support mission but they can’t let the Army take it upon themselves as it would reduce their budget.

    What Boyd and his “FIghter Mafia” group of guys had as their focus was a lean, blitzkrieg capable military force. The gold-plated weaponry phrase I like to use so much is Boyd’s.

    Col. Boyd and/or his acolytes are responsible for the F-16 and the A-10 as well as influencing a number of politicians and top brass. When General Gray set the Marine Corps back on track as a working example of maneuver-warfare, Boyd was part of his education.

    It is true that certain Democrats in the 70s and 80s glommed on to Boyd’s movement for purely poltical reasons and not to actually benefit the military but of those that were truly “converted,” his benefits are still with us.

    Anyway, the administration is not so much saving money as they are simply continuing in the same vein as they started in 2001, to cut the fat from our military.

    Keep in mind that these things don?t happen overnight; there has doubtless been much talk to this effect in the halls of the Pentagon over the past weeks and even months. Department heads and project leaders and the staff officers who are hinging their growing careers on these pet projects have known for awhile that they were being so threatened. And thus the connection between these proposed cuts and the flurry of recent attacks on Donald Rumsfeld.

    Regardless of anyone’s opinion of Rumsfeld or Bush however, “Boyd” would be a good read for anyone here. Or another book on the same subject but not a biography is “The Mind of War” by Grant Hammond. It’s more of a doctrinal presentation and doesn’t deal with Boyd’s spectacular failures as a family man.

  32. I recently read that there’s a renegade proposal to take the 140+ A-10’s in the desert-fleet, and convert them for Carrier-duty with the USMC, one 12-plane squadron per carrier. Already has heavy-duty landing gear, just needs hook retrofit and up-t-date USN/USMC avionics. Side-proposal is for longer-aspect folding wings, the UNS already uses the same jet-engines in their tankers.

    Reduces the fighters, and ups the ground-attack aircraft and attack-helicopters.

  33. thoreau,

    Yeah, there is lot’s of shit I don’t know largely because I haven’t had a need to learn it or the desire or both.

    I can’t tell you shit about the history of the Baptists (I was giving my wife a disquisition on the history of the Reformation the other day and realized this massive gap), I have a pretty sketchy grasp on the history of pre-Moghul India, I know jack about immunology and probably could never understand that nightmare science (as my wife demonstrates on a daily basis), and my knowledge of physics basically encompassess astronomy and shit like quantum mechanics and string theory. Anyway, I thought Cold Fusion was a crock? 🙂

    Gilbert Martin,

    I’m not really familiar with cobalt bombs.

    Its a variety of “salted” bomb; that is a non-fissionable “salting” isotope (cobalt-59) around the fusion fuel (cobalt 59 * fusion fuel * cobalt 59). Differing “salting” isotopes will create differings periods of fallout. One of the isotopes of gold has been suggested for use in a short-term fallout scenario (thus my crack about mining gold). A cobalt-59 bomb would have a far longer period of fallout (years) and make a region uninhabitable for far longer than a non-salted weapon. Other isotopes have been considered to “salt” bombs with.

    Anyway, a Cobalt bomb is best known as the “Doomsday Device” proposed by Szilard; its what blew up the Earth on Planet of the Apes. However, the movie had the planet going up in a fireball, whereas a Cobalt Bomb’s real nastiness comes from the lethal, long-lasting nature of its fallout, since “salting” a weapon increases its intensity many-fold over a regular old U-238 blanket (a cobalt-59 bomb is supposed to be ~20,000-15,000 times more intense over the first week). Outside the immediate blast area surviving (short and long term) is a hell of lot easier after the impact of a bunch regular old fission-fusion nuclear weapons than a salted weapon.

    Note that much of the properties of a “salted” weapon is based on simulations, thought-experiments, etc., since no one was ever foolish enough to have built- much less tested – a cobalt bomb (at least to my knowledge).

    I have heard of neutron bombs…

    I am afraid the whole “landlord bomb” notion is partly bunk; a neutron bomb would still create significant blast and heat damage. Anyway to my knowledge the U.S. doesn’t have any of these in its arsenal (nor does any other country) and creating one would be quite provocative – especially in light of somewhat hyperbolic “landlord bomb” concept.

  34. Gilbert Martin,

    Or to be more blunt, a neutron bomb is a lot more than just a big EMP and lethal ionizing radiation from a burst of neutrons; you’re going to do a heck of a lot of damage to the physical structures of the area you hit with it.

  35. Factoid: You can go to Radio Shack (and a fireworks store) and buy the requisite parts to assemble a small EMP. Don’t like your neighbor? Sneak into their house or their backyard while they are away and light it off. Should fry everything they have. 🙂

    Many Western governments have e-bombs; and it wouldn’t be that hard for a terrorist group to build a pretty rudimentary one with a bit of a punch either.

  36. “Anyway, a Cobalt bomb is best known as the “Doomsday Device” proposed by Szilard; its what blew up the Earth on Planet of the Apes. However, the movie had the planet going up in a fireball,”

    It would take a hell of a big bomb to actually blow the earth itself to pieces – whether it’s a cobalt bomb or any other kind.

    I just read today that the 9.0 earthquake that caused the tsunami waves was calculated to be the equivalent to 32 gigatons of nuclear bombs.

    The force required to actually blow the planet to bits would have to be tremendously larger than that.

  37. Gilbert Martin,

    It wasn’t so much that the Earth “blew up” (as in blew to pieces), but was cooked under an all-ecompassing fireball that burned the oceans, atmosphere, etc. (at least as I remember the movie). Interestingly before the Trinity tests some of the scientists and engineers working at Los Alamos thought that the “a-bomb” might just do that; that is create a chain reaction with the atmosphere that would fry the planet. I don’t know if it was pure conjecture or a real concern, but if it was thought to be a real possibility I can only imagine the stress of old Oppy and crew.

  38. and my knowledge of physics basically encompassess astronomy and shit like quantum mechanics and string theory.

    Well, I’m impressed. QM isn’t so bad, but string theory requires a shitload of mathematical knowledge.

    Anyway, I thought Cold Fusion was a crock?

    It is. We were just talking about why it’s a crock.

  39. At the dawn of 2005, I have no idea what the fuck A-10’s are doing in this thread, but I had a most exhilarating ride in a propeller-driven version, over the DMZ of VN in 1969.

    Okay, back to my onanistic celebration.

    Calling Hun.
    Cum in, Hun.
    Ruthless here.
    Over.

  40. Losing a new fighter wing or carrier group might look sustainable now, but it is the kind of decision America will have to live with for many decades into an uncertain future.

    The same holds true of failing to crack down on terrorist groups. Both Al Qaeda and the Iranian mullahs could have been strangled in the crib if we’d been more forceful at the time.

    I’m not saying that abandoning the F-22 and the carrier in favor of fighting terrorism is a good move strategically, because I’m not qualified to make that call and neither are you. But you’re acting as if terrorism is something we can just blow off, which ignores the fact that terrorism has killed more Americans than foreign military forces have in the post-Vietnam years.

  41. “But you’re acting as if terrorism is something we can just blow off”

    Hey, Dan, that’s all we’re asking.
    Can you be jiggy, or are we going to have to put either an APB or a fatwah on your fat ass?

    Get back to us. heh. heh.

  42. Dan,

    …Iranian mullahs could have been strangled in the crib if we’d been more forceful at the time.

    Or it could have created something worse.

    Are you suggesting that we should have invaded Iran in 1979 and thus have created a second target for jihad alongside the Soviets in Afghanistan? (This at a time when the U.S. military could barely police West Point much less successfully invade a country the size of Iran.) Or should we have sent more arms to the Iraqis and made Iraq a U.S. client state?

    Or are you suggesting that the current market, cultural, etc., penetration Iran is experiencing isn’t paying off far more than any amount of U.S. military presence could?

    I’ll guarantee you one thing: in twenty years Iraq will still be a shitpile and Iran will be the glowing liberal beacon that the neo-conservatives jizz themselves all over from time to time when they speak of Iraq.

    But you’re acting as if terrorism is something we can just blow off…

    Hyperbole.

  43. I’ll guarantee you one thing: in twenty years Iraq will still be a shitpile and Iran will be the glowing liberal beacon that the neo-conservatives jizz themselves all over from time to time when they speak of Iraq.

    Um, Gary, what did you say a day or two ago about predicting more than 10 years ahead?

    I hope you’re half-right (right about Iran, wrong about Iraq), but I suspect that you may be right on both accounts. If so, some of the people on this forum will probably credit George Bush for Iran and blame France for Iraq.

    Personally, I suspect that home-grown liberalization is the only effective type.

  44. No need for MIRVs, the US has enough tactical nukes to waste the artillery on the North Korean border many times over. As for taking out terrorists, you certainly don’t need F-22’s- a few rebuilt Spitfires or the Vietnam era attack aircraft my own country recently retired would do that. The most important issue is getting the F-14s and F-16s to exactly where they’re needed immediately from their bases or nearby patrols, and the US is succeding in that.

  45. Hey, that cobalt stuff was mother’s milk (complete with Strontium-90) to us boomers. They wrote comic book stories about it for us.

    http://www.thexaxis.com/indexes/silverage/31.htm is a precis of X-Men, V.1, #31, featuring the origin and first appearance of (dun-dun-DUN!) THE COBALT MAN!

    As for the “neutron bomb,” or Enhanced Radiation Warhead, while it is true that the radiation burst could be used as an EMP device, its main advantages were a smaller blast area than the tactical nukes it was designed to replace, and a much smaller contamination perimeter. It was thought that targeting standard fission bombs in Central or Western Europe against invading Warsaw Pact motorized divisions was not a serious deterrent, as NATO forces would be poisoning the lands of member states for generations. The neutron bomb might have been a more credible threat, one the political leadership of the western European states could actually contemplate agreeing to.

    If one thinks of it as “kills more of their tanks, and less of our infantry” it makes some kind of sense, but, of course, not to those sworn to “no first use.”

    Kevin

  46. Kevin,

    True, but the blast and heat effects are hardly as benign as some have characterized them to be. Drop one on a city (or rather, above one) and it would wreck it.

    Anyway, the Western European states eventually went ahead with the idea of deploying Pershing IIs.

    thoreau,

    Iran is going to liberalize because of its contact and trade relations with Europe. Renault and Fiat and the like have plants there and those sorts of business contacts are going to do a lot for Iran economically or otherwise. As far as I can tell Iraq can’t even keep aid organizations in the country much less attract foreign businesses to invest there.

  47. As far as Iran in 1979, I remember seeing somewhere (I can’t remember where) if the US had gone to the leaders of Iran immediately after the hostage taking with a strong response the hostages would have been released almost immediately. Instead, the President decided to go to Iran with a very meek approach and Iran decided the US could be pushed around. From what I remember this wasn’t US second guessing, this came from Iranian sources.

    Just imagine, what the world would be like if Jimmy Carter had told Iran you have forty eight hours to hand over the hostages or the US will take them back by force. Would Sept. 11 have happened? Of course other mistakes have been made since then but this may have been the start.

  48. threatening death to people who are willing to die in the first place?

    isn’t that a bit like threatening alcoholics with scotch?

  49. Right on, Ted B. While we’re at it, why not scrap the rule against the Army having fixed wing aircraft, give THEM the A-10s, and use them to replace the sitting ducks that are helicopter gunships.

  50. Gil, why don’t you apply your thoughts – “Good thing that a DESIRE to do something doesn’t translate into a CAPABILITY to do something” to the threat posed to us by Iraq.

  51. RSwan,

    Yes, because the efforts of the 9/11 attackers grew out of the domestic politics of Saudi Arabia and the jihad in Afghanistan, not out of the Shias in Iran.

    Carter would have done much better just ignoring the hostage taking instead of making it a focal point of his administration’s foreign policy.

  52. threatening death to people who are willing to die in the first place? isn’t that a bit like threatening alcoholics with scotch?

    Few of them are actually willing to die. Most are just willing to kill.

    Yeah, I know that in theory they’re *supposed* to believe that dying in battle with the enemies of Islam is a one-way ticket to Paradise. But empirical evidence suggests that very few of them are actually willing to die — the human survival instinct is very hard to overcome.

    Which is why we aren’t facing hundreds of suicide-bomber attacks per day in Iraq right now.

  53. Dan,

    Which is why we aren’t facing hundreds of suicide-bomber attacks per day in Iraq right now.

    A far more reasonable and rational explanation is that many Muslims don’t view these efforts as part of a true or valid Jihad. Indeed, many if not most Muslims believe that a Jihad can only be called for by a legitimate authority, and in Iraq people who hold such authority are folks like Sistani. Though there is disagreement over whether a defensive jihad requires such sanction, its pretty clear that many Muslims believe that a jihad even in these circumstances requires some nod by a person in authority.

  54. As Adm. Rickover might say:

    Doesn’t any one understand the difference between efficiency and economy?

    OTOH if it means replacing a CV (JFK)with a CV(N) and doing it sooner than the original time table (2018) it might be a very good idea.

  55. All of this sounds important at first glace, but really is not. The JFK is an older, non-nuclear carrier, and the Navy has been rapidly retiring these old boats for quite some time. In the past the plan was to retire the non-nuclear Kitty Hawk when the next Nimitz-class carrier arrives in 2008, and keep the JFK as an “operational reserve” training ship. The JFK was never slated to be a fully operational carrier, and retiring it early does not impact US naval power in any significant way. It just means the Navy will be doing its training on one of the other ships.

    The F-22 is a land-based Air Force fighter, and as such does not have the flexibility of a carrier-based aircraft. The massive Soviet air force the F-22 was designed to overcome no longer exists, and the carrier-based F-14 Tomcats and F-18D Super Hornets are more than capable of taking out any foe we are likely to be fighting in the near future. If they aren’t enough, the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-22’s carrier-based little brother, will be rolling out in a few years.

    Neither of these cuts significantly impacts US warfighting capabilities. As a libertarian, who believes in the use of force only in DIRECT self defense, I applaud these cuts. Our current defense budget of $400+ billion is obscene — especially for a supposedly peaceful, democratic nation with two big oceans and two friendly neighbors on its borders.

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