03 December 2014

Killing the Hog (II)

Related posts:

President Obama’s sacking of defense secretary Chuck Hagel began a particularly messy ‘end-of-administration’ kabuki dance in Versailles on the Potomac.   This link will take you to a very insightful interview explaining the nature of this spectacle.  

Ian Masters (of the excellent radio show Background Briefing)  talks to Pierre Sprey* about the third-tier selection of the industry-friendly Ashton Carter** to replace Hagel.   But there is much more.  The discussion quickly spins off into a wider discussion of the dysfunctional politics of the American Empire and the permanent war economy, before it ends  with a brilliant discourse on the Air Force’s plan to kill the A-10 Warthog.   

Sprey knows what he is talking about.  He understands Pentagon politics as well as anyone I ever met.  An engineer and mathematician, a highly accomplished bureaucratic infighter, Sprey was a principal member of the design team that over came massive Air Force resistance to create the highly successful F-16 and A-10 jet-fighter bombers in the late 1960s and early 1970s (see Robert Coram’s, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War).   

In the case of the A-10, Sprey was the both the inspiration and guiding force in its conception and design.  He was also the key strategist the bureaucratic battles to stop the Air Force from killing the program — battles that began in late 1960s, when the A-10 was a paper airplane have continued intermittently to this day, including the current efforts by the Air Force to kill the A-10 over the objections of the Congress.  

I urge you to take 20 minutes to listen to the discussion between Ian Masters and Pierre Sprey. 
* Caveat emptor: Sprey is a long-time associate and close friend of mine. I have had a front row seat in the peanut gallery or been a minor player in the A-10 wars from the time I was a 2nd Lt in the AF in 1968 until I retired from the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2003.  So I freely admit that I am proudly biased both with regard to both Sprey’s work and the A-10.

** Apparently Carter is also taxi-cab friendly.  On 12 February 2009, Bill Gertz of the Washington Times reported that Carter's nomination to be Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition ran into obstacles, because of financial questions about Carter's past activities, including a "government reimbursement for taxi cab ride he took from Washington to his residence in Massachusetts." (H/T Mike Lofgren, author of The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted and the seminal essay Anatomy of the Deep State.)