Aug. 1, 2009
Move On the Deterrent

I read with interest your editorial in the June 2009 issue of Air Force Magazine (“Defending the Deterrent,” p. 2) on the report of the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States.

Both the report and your editorial overlook a key point when it comes to nuclear weapons: strategic and budgetary disconnects exist because the Department of Energy, instead of the Department of Defense, is responsible for the nuclear infrastructure. Cradle-to-grave responsibility for nuclear weapons should reside wholly within the Department of Defense, where such weapons can compete with alternatives based on their utility and cost. Unfortunately, the report recommends making the National Nuclear Security Administration an agency unto itself—similar to the old Atomic Energy Commission, the forerunner of the Department of Energy. This is the exact opposite of what needs to be done.

The report’s recommendation to designate the nuclear weapons laboratories as national security labs with programming and budgetary responsibilities shared among the Departments of Energy, State, Defense, and Homeland Security, along with the Director of National Intelligence, is another bad idea. Splitting authority and accountability for one agency among five Cabinet-level departments is irresponsible.

Transferring responsibility for the nuclear infrastructure to the Department of Defense will liberate the annual $9 billion allocation to the National Nuclear Security Administration, allowing Department of Energy resources to be devoted to the development of clean, renewable, alternative energy sources. Such development will benefit our national security posture by eliminating our dependence on oil. Our continued reliance on oil is the only reason why we have a strategic interest in the Middle East. And our current strategic posture in the Middle East is costing us plenty.

Freeing the Department of Energy from its historical duties of nuclear weapons development so it can become a real Department of Energy, not a de facto adjunct of the Department of Defense, is a key step in strengthening America’s strategic posture.

Lt. Col. Allan G. Johnson,

USAF (Ret.)

Fairfield, Calif.

The Invasion That Didn’t Happen

Regarding “The Invasion That Didn’t Happen” (June, p. 42)—it was a good article, but a broader view of the full dimensions of the war, particularly in Asia, makes clear why the complete defeat of Japan in World War II in the shortest possible time was critical.

When Japan invaded China starting in 1931, attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, then invaded Southeast Asia, it was directly invading countries containing about one-third of the world’s population and brutally occupying over half this number. Most became allied with the US to defeat Japan. The long, merciless war killed close to 24 million Allied (mostly Asian civilians), plus nearly three million Japanese by August 1945. Each added week of war doomed to death approximately 100,000 Asian and Western Allies, plus 50,000 Japanese.

Japan’s long, brutal aggression made Allied surrender concessions to the military in 1945 impossible and guaranteeing the Emperor’s retention a much more difficult decision than revisionists would allow.

The Truman Administration rightly worried about high US casualty levels to invade Japan. But, they were also cognizant of a huge loss of life throughout Asia, as reported by the OSS, the US ambassador in Chunking, and British and American commanders in Asia.

I believe that the overwhelming reason the A-bomb was dropped was to quickly and decisively end the war to save all lives throughout the Asian-Pacific Theater, not just American lives. The decision undoubtedly spared a million to three million lives.

The cost in Japanese dead from all US 1945 bombing to end World War II was only about two percent of all Allied Asian and Western civilian dead from Imperial Japan’s long and merciless aggression. It is surprising that the A-bomb use has been a moral question while Japan’s responsibility for starting the conflict and its horrific consequences has not been.

Werner Gruhl

Columbia, Md.

Regarding revisionist scenarios for concluding the war with Japan, over the years I asked one question, “Where was your dad or grandfather stationed?” In my experience, their family’s generational representative was not combat coded or involved directly in the combat operations. My dad, SSgt. Buckley O’Day had already landed on Saipan with the 2nd Marine Division. (Every landing was a miniature D-Day, and deadly.)

My wife’s dad, Cpl. J. Frank Thompson landed at Normandy on D+24 and was in almost continuous combat as a part of the 3rd Army’s 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion and often attached to units of the 7th Army. Both were scheduled for the invasion of Japan. We were both born after the war because our dads came home.

Any person regrets the loss of life that results from war. President Harry S. Truman made the decision to force the Japanese to surrender. His “the buck stops here” management style saved the lives of more Japanese forces and citizens than it did American forces.

Maj. Gary L. O’Day Sr.,

USAF (Ret.)

Bloomburg, Tex.

Due Credit

Gotta give the old Soviets credit [“Carbon Copy Bomber,” June p. 52]. Their reverse engineering of the B-29 was masterfully done. They even copied the mistakes in the individual planes they worked from, including unnecessary holes that were drilled and wrong internal paint schemes.

When they were finished and had the Bull in production, they took pride in the fact that it caught fire at about the same rate as the B-29, which was known for such malfunctions.

Bill Barry

Huntsville, Ala.

Critical CSAR

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates obviously hasn’t a clue regarding dedicated combat search and rescue (CSAR) and the importance of having the specialized personnel, equipment, and resources to accomplish this mission anywhere and anytime required [“Air Force World: Gates Throws Open CSAR Mission,” June, p. 13].

A highly capable and professional Air Force CSAR community has, is, and will continue to be one of the most indelible identifiers of the US military and an object of appreciation by our allies. In fact, when the British in Afghanistan required rescue and close air support for their Prime Minister Brown’s visit to Helmand province, they requested USAF rescue, due to the unique and practiced skill sets of both protection capability (best case) and recovery (worst case).

The former undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, John J. Young Jr., commented, “I don’t know that that community has to have its own set of assets for the occasional rescue mission,” and “We have new things coming on line, like V-22s.” In 2002, Combat Rescue Analysis of Alternatives rejected the V-22 for survivability and rescue operations incompatibility. Paraphrasing from the current Doctrine for Joint Combat Search and Rescue: Although each service is responsible for performing combat rescue in support of its operations, the services should be aware of the other services’ CSAR capabilities. Young is so far off base, it is ridiculous. USAF CSAR forces have been rescuing US Army, marines, and allies in Iraq and Afghanistan due to direct request from joint and coalition commanders.

Bottom line, USAF CSAR has been and will continue to be THE most capable CSAR force we have. If the Joint Chiefs do not rise up as one against this proposal and Congress goes along with dismantling this unique and time-proven capability, then our armed forces will be again demodernized into a second rate force regarding CSAR, along with all the other cutbacks this Administration has planned.

CMSgt. Craig B. Bergman,

USAFR (Ret.)


Delta Dart

Air Force Magazine does a wonderful job of contributing to history and getting its facts right. John Correll’s article on the Army Air Corps does an excellent job with a question that people keep raising [“But What About the Air Corps?,” June, p. 64].

However, the letter from reader retired Maj. William M. Wellman [See “Letters: Unmanned F-106,” July, p. 5] is inaccurate. No F-106 Delta Dart was ever deployed to Southeast Asia, and none was ever stationed at Udorn, Thailand. The only time the F-106 ever went to Asia was in 1968 in the aftermath of the North Korean seizure of the US intelligence ship Pueblo. That year, the F-106 was briefly deployed in Korea. The F-106 never saw combat.

Major Wellman is probably thinking about the F-102 Delta Dagger, which did deploy to Southeast Asia. In air-to-air combat, the F-102 ended up with a score of zero to one—one F-102 shot down by a MiG, no MiG ever shot down by an F-102.

Robert F. Dorr

Oakton, Va.

Fifty Thousand Airplanes

Juxtaposing President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech justifying the call for “Fifty Thousand Airplanes” [“Keeper File,” June, p. 66] in 1940 with John T. Correll’s article, “The Invasion That Didn’t Happen” [June, p. 42], clarifies how timely political leadership in peacetime affects the conduct of war when it comes.

As a career Air Force officer and student of history, I have always been amazed by the wisdom of FDR and [British Prime Minister Winston] Churchill in recognizing, before the initial attacks, that the ability to destroy enemy forces before they could mass ground and naval forces for an invasion was the key. Both political leaders overrode strong objections from naval and ground forces to concentrate on air force improvements, and both opposed isolationist political factions with clear, concise explanations of their decisions. The British and American citizens also recognized who was blowing smoke and who were the great leaders in the long run.

Col. John B. McTasney,

USAF (Ret.)

Carmichael, Calif.


Under famous fliers [“Airpower Classics: B-58 Hustler,” May, p. 142], you could add two Doolittle Raiders and two jet aces—Doolittle Raiders David M. Jones was the B-58 test force commander, and Everett “Brick” Holstrom was the second 43rd Bomb Wing B-58 commander. The first was Jimmy Johnson, 10 Korean War victories.

Jimmy Jabara, Korean War first ace with 15 victories, was Holstrom’s wing vice commander.

Col. Richard C. Doom,

USAF (Ret.)

Serafina, N.M.