Tuesday, April 30, 2013

US Forces Massacred, Part I

The immediate cuts supposedly caused by the sequestration have been announced by the US Navy and Air Force.  They are devastating. 

In this first part, we'll look at what happens to the US Navy.

Naval Aviation will bear the brunt of the cuts.  The Navy has nine Carrier Air Wings.  These are groups of squadrons that deploy on aircraft carriers.  Four of the nine will be disbanded.  Two more will be dropped into a 'reserve' status, performing only minimal flight training and maintenance.

Here is what will be lost, in order:

Air Wing 2 (USS Ronald Reagan)
VFA-2  (F-18F)
VFA-34 (F-18C)
VFA-137 (F-18E)
VFA-151 (F-18E)
VAW-113 (E-2C)
VAQ-131 (EF-18G)
HSC-12 (MH-60S)
HSM-77 (MH-60R)
VRC-30 Det.2  (C-2A)

Air Wing 7 (USS Eisenhower)
VFA-83 (F-18C)
VFA-103 (F-18F)
VFA-131 (F-18C)
VFA-143 (F-18E)
VAW-121 (E-2C)
VAQ-140 (EA-6B)
HS-5 (SH/HH-60)
VRC-40 Det.3  (C-2A)

Air Wing 9 (USS Stennis)
VFA-146 (F-18E)
VFA-147 (F-18E)
VFA-192 (F-18C)
VMFA-323 (F-18C)
VAW-112 (E-2C)
HSC-8 (MH-60)
HSM-71 (MH-60)

Air Wing 17 (USS-Vinson)
VFA-22 (F-18F)
VFA-81 (F-18E)
VFA-94 (F-18C)
VFA-113 (F-18C)
VAW-116 (E-2C)
VAQ-139 (EF-18G)
HS-15 (MH-60S)
HSM-73 (MH-60R)
VRC-30 Det.  (C-2A)

Here is what will be placed in 'minimal readiness status':

Air Wing 1 (USS Roosevelt)
VFA-11 (F-18F)
VFA-211 (F-18F)
VFA-136 (F-18E)
VMFA-251 (F-18C)
VAW-123 (E-2C)
VAQ-137 (EA-6B)
HS-11 (SH/HH-MH-60)
VRC-40 Det.1  (C-2A)

Air Wing 11 (USS Nimitz)
VFA-154 (F-18F)
VFA-147 (F-18E)
VFA-146 (F-18C)
VMFA-323 (F-18C)
VAW-112 (E-2C)
VAQ-133 (EA-6B)
HSC-6 (MH-60S)
HSM-75 (MH-60R)
VRC-30 Det.5  (C-2A)

The squadrons in these two air wings will fly just enough to maintain safety of flight proficiency.  To return them to combat ready status will take over a year, and cost 3 times more than it would to have kept them fully active in the first place - making it unlikely that either of these wings will ever become fully active again.

An additional unit that was already planned to be cut due to budget cuts that had already been mandated before sequestration is VAW-77.  This Naval Reserve E-2C squadron, operating out of NAS New Orleans, had been the main drug interdiction surveillance force in the Caribbean.  The radar equipped aircraft watched over hundreds of thousands of square miles of the Caribbean, and had been directly responsible for the seizure of $17 billion worth of cocaine and pot that had been destined for the US.  The unit was disbanded in March, and there is no replacement for their capabilities.

All recruitment and training of Naval Aviators, Naval Flight Officers, and aviation related support positions is to be halted.

This is just Naval Aviation.  Although the surface fleet wasn't hit as hard, the cuts there will also be dramatic.  For instance, if you have only 3 Carrier Air Wings, you don't need 9 carriers, do you?  If you don't need 9 carriers, you don't need 9 Carrier Battle Groups.  You don't need 9 sets of support ships.  You don't need 9 sets of crews for all of those ships.  You don't need the home port support infrastructure and man power.  You don't need the civilian contractors and defense company workers who support those ships.  Hundreds of thousands of trained, skilled people are going to lose their jobs. 

The impact on our carrier capability is devastating.  If we only have three Air Wings, then that means we will only have two combat equipped carriers that can be deployed at any given time.  The third carrier/Air Wing will be undergoing maintenance/training/regeneration.  Two carriers to cover the entire world's oceans.  Today, we often deploy two carriers to a single location in the event of brewing trouble.  That will no longer be an option.  Having carriers on station in different parts of the world, ready to respond to threats to the US and our citizens (and our allies) will no longer be possible.

This blow is the worst attack/disaster suffered by the US Navy in its history.  Pearl Harbor is a drop in the bucket compared to these losses.  The drawdown of US forces after WWII, Korea, and Vietnam pale in comparison, even those were massive in their own rights.  To realize that this is all caused by ourselves, caused by political games being played by our supposed Commander-In-Chief, is heartbreaking.  Republicans tried to remove the military parts of the sequestration legislation several times - Obama threatened to veto any such action.  Part of his grand plan in authoring the sequestration in the first place (the idea came from the White House, not Congress) was to cut a huge chunk out of our defense - and then work it around so that he could blame Republicans in the House for it.  The blame game didn't work, but it doesn't matter that much.  While sequestration cuts in all other departments have amounted to a tiny inconvenience, what the Department of Defense has been forced to do is truly devastating. 

Obama has shot to the top of the list of people who have done the most harm to the security of our country.  Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh ... none of them even came close.

These Guys Had A Bad Day

National Air Cargo (civilian) 747 N949CA crashes on takeoff from Baghram AB, Afghanistan.  April 29, 2013.  Speculation is a load shift on takeoff, causing a loss of balance - critical during takeoff.  All 8 on board perished.

I can't imaging the terror these guys felt in those last few seconds when they realized what was going to happen.

Godspeed, gentlemen ...