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The United States long has assumed that American soldiers plan and execute operations generally free from enemy air attack.
The U.S. Air Force "owned the air," so soldiers could plan on keeping their boots on the ground, rather than in bunkers.
The past month, however, saw significant changes in the future Air Force that puts the U.S., soldiers and citizens alike, on alert. The new Department of Defense, led by the holdover Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, announced four decisions that will significantly reduce future air combat and support options, unless the Democrat-led Congress disagrees. Here is a summary.
First, DOD decided to cease production of the F-22, the world-champion air dominance fighter. The 121 F-22s now in the active Air Force will be needed to replace current force of 499 F-15s.
Second, a 2018 date for a replacement bomber in the small strategic bomber force has been cancelled. The fleet now available includes 76 B-52s, 66 B-1s and 20 B-2s. The Air Force lists the B-52s as averaging 47 years old, the B-1s averaging 21 years old, and even the few B-2 stealth bombers are going on 15 years old. None, not even the B-52s, will be replaced. Lost, perhaps, but not replaced.
Third, no more C-17 heavy cargo transporters. The C-17 is the "core airlifter" for the U.S. military. Carrying about half the payload of the huge C-5s, the C-17s are the only intercontinental heavy air lifter capable of airdropping 60,000-pound pallets, or landing large loads (85 tons) of outsize cargo (tanks, helicopters) directly into tactical environments with "austere" (meaning short) airfields.
Fourth, no new combat search and rescue helicopters. The existing Pave Hawks, which are highly modified Army Black Hawk Special Operations helicopters, will continue as rescue aircraft, although they were designed specifically for small unit insertions.
As the editor of Air Force Magazine puts it, "the future Air Force won't be what its leaders expected it to be." Nor what the enemies of the U.S. expected.
WT "Ted" Hinds
Accepting science leads to many medical advances
The foundation for modern study of biology is evolution. Breakthroughs in modern medicine through discoveries of DNA and human genes abound. We live longer, more active lives with better control of disease.
I am a cancer survivor because my doctors were better equipped to treat the disease that killed my mother and most of my aunts and uncles. When interviewed by doctors, the first thing asked for is mine and my parents medical history.
More proof of the theory of evolution is all around us. At AKC dog shows, more than 150 breeds are shown, all evolving from wolves. Horse breeders have developed horses for various purposes from dray animals to thoroughbreds for racing. Blood lines are key.
AIDS patients are monuments to the fact of evolution. Natural selection changes the identity of the virus as the disease progresses.
Denial of evolution is to deny modern science. In Georgia, we have great universities and centers of learning and research, but a dearth of high school graduates interested in science. We must not squelch the need for knowledge because some of us believe evolution is a hoax.
Bruce W. Hallowell