Just a reminder: Military readiness affects the viability of Syria operations too

Fading.

After U.S. officials agreed last week that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on its people, politicians and pundits resumed making the case for a U.S. intervention in Syria.  And they speak as if the budget cuts affecting the Air Force and Navy won’t affect our ability to launch operations overseas.  Their heads apparently aren’t around that reality yet.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) suggested that enforcing a no-fly zone could be required.  He expressed concern that the administration would maneuver to delay action – and he is no doubt right.  Charles Krauthammer pointed out on Fox News’s Special Report that the president’s credibility is on the line, given his clear identification of chemical weapons use as a “red line” for the U.S. on the Syria crisis.  But no one mentioned the core limitation of military readiness.

You may or may not think it’s advisable for the U.S. to intervene in Syria, even with an operation of minimal scope.  But Continue reading “Just a reminder: Military readiness affects the viability of Syria operations too”

State of unreadiness

Degraded.

My Liberty Unyielding colleague Timothy Whiteman highlighted last Thursday the number of Air Force squadrons that will have to cease training later this year because the Air Force doesn’t have funds for the flying hours.  This is real, and it is astounding.  It will mean that, at a certain point in the near future – as early as this fall, if no additional funds become available – the cost of mounting an operation big enough to eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons-related installations is likely to be too high.

This is because there will be no force depth to either sustain follow-on operations or overcome the geographic constraints U.S. forces are increasingly likely to face.  Assuming all of the Air Force’s stand-downs and readiness losses do occur, the available front-line forces would be maxed out with a moderately scoped strike package.  To meet the task, they would require the most favorable basing options that could be available in the Persian Gulf under today’s conditions – but which may not be.  If we don’t have those favorable basing options, and the Air Force squadron groundings remain on track, the Iran strike goes from all-but-under-resourced to impossible.

There will not, after all, be two aircraft carriers on station near Iran, Continue reading “State of unreadiness”