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Merge Air Force into Army, convert Pentagon into shopping mall

Dr. Earl Tilford's picture

[Editor’s note: This is Part II of Dr. Tilford’s series on “Restructuring the Department of Defense.]

The U.S. Department of Defense must restructure to accommodate deep budget cuts and, more importantly, be ready for the challenges of 21st-century warfare. Those challenges will include unconventional operations and wars fought in vastly expanded battle spaces. Reforms are needed in three areas.

First, today’s DoD — structured around land, air, and sea forces to accommodate Industrial Age conflict — is inadequate for Information Age warfare. The U.S. Air Force received separate service status in 1947 by a mating of the atomic bomb to the long-range delivery system of the day, the B-29 bomber. For five decades, air-power enthusiasts argued that air power formed the tip of the spear while land and sea forces constituted the supporting shaft. That is no longer the case.

Human-piloted combat aircraft undergird the Air Force’s reason for being. It is likely that the 20 B-2 bombers currently in the inventory, at $2 billion dollars a copy, will be the last of the manned bombers. Additionally, the F-35 is likely to be the last manned fighter developed by the United States.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be the fighting platforms of the future. They can do more for less cost because UAVs are not designed for pilot survivability. Additionally, in the current war, the Air Force has been the supporting — rather than the supported — service.

It’s time to reintegrate the Air Force into the U.S. Army. This eliminates an entire service with accompanying bureaucracies while minimally expanding an Army likely to experience reductions throughout its other branches.

The U.S. Navy should assume primary responsibility for space and cyber warfare. Movement in space is more analogous to that at sea than it is to operations on land or air. The global reach of the Navy also makes it appropriate to place cyber operations under its purview.

Second, since warfare is foremost a mental and secondly a physical endeavor, DoD needs to restructure officer education. In the interest of building a truly seamless force, the three service academies should be closed and then consolidated into a single National Defense University located in Washington, D.C.

Additionally, the professional military education system can be streamlined by doing away with the individual service schools for junior, mid-level and senior officers. Schools like the Air, Army, and Naval war colleges would become part of the National Defense University.

Military physicians and lawyers, after completing basic medical and legal training at civilian universities, can be prepared for military service at the NDU. Students could also take courses at the universities within the District of Columbia’s educational consortium.

NDU’s graduate courses (replacing the current war colleges) would offer real masters and doctoral level courses. Individual service “think tanks” associated with the various war colleges exist primarily to support host service prerogatives. As in any civilian university, research and writing at NDU would be expected of all faculty members. A single, consolidated think tank might be established at NDU with resulting cost savings in personnel.

This reform would close three academies; close the Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps command and staff colleges; close the Army, Naval, Marine Corps, and Air war colleges; and reduce facilities at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., and Quantico, Va.

Eliminating three service academies reduces overhead costs and also might ameliorate the pernicious effects of inter-service rivalries by educating all officers at a single, integrated institution. An entering freshman class of 4,000 to 5,000 should provide enough entry-level Army and Naval officers. To further military diversity, ROTC would provide 2,000 to 3,000 officers a year, but ROTC should be restricted to the 50 to 75 top-rated academic institutions.

Third, allowing officers to retire at half pay after 20 years of service, and forcing them to retire (in most cases) at some point between 24 and 32 years, is a waste of human skills and money. Service careers should run between 25 and 40 years. Concomitantly, the number of flag-rank officers should be reduced by at least 50 percent. Older officers can be moved to desk jobs or, if academically qualified, serve as faculty at NDU or in ROTC units.

Finally, close the Pentagon. It was built to accommodate a bureaucracy needed to field and operationalize the Industrial Age armed forces of World War II. The tendency is for bureaucracies to fill empty space and once in place, become entrenched.

The Pentagon would make a fabulous privately run retirement complex with enough room for a shopping mall, restaurants, a gymnasium, and even a hospital. A restructured DoD could be housed in the Forrestal Building in downtown Washington.

This restructuring streamlines bureaucracies, utilizes human capital and potential more effectively, and fosters a seamless interaction between the services. Armed forces exist to fight and win the nation’s wars. A leaner, better-educated force can meet the challenges of Information Age Warfare and do it at considerably less cost.

[Dr. Earl Tilford is a military historian and fellow for the Middle East & terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.]


Cyclist's picture

Interesting. Dr Tilford, a 20 year Air Force guy, is advocating merging the Air Force into the Navy.

I wonder if part III of his series will discuss the the next round of consolidation of defense contractors?

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

kcchiefandy's picture

One can postulate about the 'Grey Force' all they want, but the unabashed cash-dump in to 'contractors' (usually former DoD members who set up private businesses, or at the very least have large parts in setting up such - and are greatly taken advantage of by former troops) are a HUGE portion of the graft ( 'services') provided here/there. Given the enormous lack of citizens volunteering for service, the void is filled by 'contractors', and to some extent 'Government Service' hirelings. I could vent more, but I stop here (24 yr vet w/ an opinion here). the "Dr.Strangelove" movie!

Frankly, I don't trust our military all under one field command.

Currently, if one service branch decided that they knew best what we needed in an emergency, the others and the Pentagon would void them quickly.

This sort of thing has occurred many times in the third world.

It is also like the TEAS trying to take over congress with threats of election defeats for non-cooperating members. They are going to be voided soon due to their weakness and ignorance.

Can you imagine:

No welfare; no health care; no regulations on dangerous items; allowing banks and business to take full advantage; having all newspapers and networks exactly like FOX and The Citizen's philosophy with no opposition allowed; immediately hanging such criminals as the one in Florida, the Doctor in Vegas, and all obvious murderer's and rapists from police reports! All we would need would be three judges appointed by the TEAS.

Also, make the NAACP, EPA, OSHA, and the poor man's defense illegal and void them.

Excuse all corporate criminals if they made a lot of money would also be high on the list.

Allowing Fayette County, for instance, to have full control of all school decisions for everyone, while disposing of the tests to rank learning, and ask the government for no money to run the schools, but not tax the locals.

Stop all spending for 10-15 years until we get out of debt, and then we could start fighting the mobs who were wandering the country stealing, robbing and killing.

Tell the Chinese to reduce the amount we owe them by 50% or more immediately due to their FALSE MONEY.
If they asked for their money we borrowed from them or they would attack,
Simply stop all goods from them at the border and return them. Line up the ICBMs and bombers with several Chinese cities. Fire a few at some deserted islands off Japan.

This is my opinion as to what most TEAS want but don't know how to enumerate it. There is no other explanation.

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