July 1, 2011

Qaddafi: Con, Neutral, and Pro

Adam J. Hebert’s editorial in the May issue was well-done and extremely salient [“Why Qaddafi Must Go,” p. 4]. I would like to amend the time line presented in the editorial that begins on June 1970 with the dustup at Wheelus Air Base. In late 1969 upon returning to my home station with the Vermont Air National Guard from basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, my operations officer (then Maj. David L. Ladd) was attending the in-residence course of Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base. In his class were several foreign exchange students, including Muammar Qaddafi. As the story goes, Qaddafi skipped town before graduation to return to Libya to oust the ruling family.

I would be interested in knowing if there are others from that ACSC class that remember this now infamous student. Also, it would be nice to look through the archives to see if this dictator penned any significant papers while in the course at Maxwell. I tend to think not.

Col. Dick Strifert,

USAF (Ret.)

North Danville, Vt.

Qaddafi is one of a long line of African leaders with the complicity of the West, who has taken advantage of the regional, language, and tribal divisions in Africa. The events of Africa have been long in coming and yet to be settled. Out of the events in North Africa, there will be internal unrest and civil war in Central and Southern Africa. The West must be in a position to prepare for this and to help new emerging governments and to prevent the exploitation of Africa by China. To replace Qaddafi with a new leader and to deny the people what they seek is a recipe for failure.

The United States must find the will to help direct the coming changes in Africa and somehow find the economic and military will to do so. NATO is not up to the task. … It is in the best interest of the United States to take the lead and use bilateral, multinational, and institutional means to help to create a more stable and democratic Africa. The Europeans and Russia must see that it is in their best interest to see strong nation-states in Africa and not a return to a divided Africa with the West and East dividing the spoils.

Joe F. Robinson

Glendale, Ariz.

The rationale presented in the editorial is, in my opinion, deeply flawed. While all of the historical points made in the article highlighting his terrorist credentials are true, the other side of the coin was omitted. For example, after President Reagan ordered Qaddafi’s residence bombed, killing his son, he ceased supporting terrorism abroad, stopped working toward developing nuclear weapons, and by providing compensation to the families of the Lockerbie incident, took responsibility and settled that matter.

The Libyan rebels whom you would provide additional military support to, bear a long-standing tribal grudge against Qaddafi. They chose armed rebellion over peaceful protest and started a fight they could not win. It is by now apparent that Qaddafi enjoys the support of his military and the majority of Libyans. Both of the latter groups have remained steadfast in their support in the face of determined, and expanded, US and NATO air attacks. Videos have shown Qaddafi standing in an open automobile driving through the streets of Tripoli with adoring crowds shouting their support. He doesn’t feel the need to hunker down in a bulletproof limousine.

To justify further expanded military action against Qaddafi on the basis that he promised to “ruthlessly murder his opposition” while we, along with NATO, ruthlessly murdered Qaddafi’s son and three grandchildren in the dark of night, represents the height of cynicism. Continued killing by NATO and attempts to murder others of Qaddafi’s family is unconscionable.

It is time for a diplomatic solution and the swallowing of our misplaced pride.

Col. Jay W. Spechler,

USAF (Ret.)

Boca Raton, Fla.

Airpower Classics

“Airpower Classics” in the Almanac issue stated 7,168 F-84s were built [p. 144]. That number got me to thinking about the numbers of aircraft currently in the Air Force inventory listed earlier in the issue. By AFA numbers, there are just over 5,000 total aircraft currently in use by the Air Force. This is about 30 percent less than the number of F-84s produced—talk about a shrinking Air Force!!

Lt. Col. Dan Phillips,

USAF (Ret.)

Rapid River, Mich.


On p. 75 of the May 2011 Air Force Magazine, the phone number for the Des Moines Airport is listed incorrectly [“Guide to Air Force Installations Worldwide”]. The correct phone number is 515-261-8210.

CMSgt. Lowell E. Schellhase Jr., ANG

Des Moines, Iowa

For almost 30 years I have had a copy of the USAF Almanac in my attache case. I keep it there as a reference guide. You know what section I used the most over the years? “Guide to Air Force Installations Worldwide.” This valuable reference source would tell me if a base has a BX and a commissary, the availability of lodging on base: VAQ, VOQ, TLQ, TFQ, and how many rooms or type of quarters are available. I was also interested in whether or not the base had a clinic or a hospital. I have even used the Almanac to tell me how many people were assigned to the base in order to give me a better idea of the possible facilities I could expect to find, such as a service station, a base library, a base gym, a dining facility, an NCO club, etc. None of this information is available in the latest Almanac. As a result, the 2011 USAF Almanac will probably be of little use to me.

I will continue to travel with the 2010 edition and hope you, the editors of the 2011 USAF Almanac, once again include the valuable information I mentioned above in the 2012 USAF Almanac.

CMSgt. William M. Brienza,

USAF (Ret.)

Calais, Maine

I spent far too many hot summer and cold winter days on the Cannon AFB flightline for me to let you get away with omitting tail marking “CC” and the 27th wing.

Capt. Samuel Maurice Porter,

USAF (Ret.)

Antioch, Calif.

The CC fin flash went out of service when Cannon became a special operations base.—the editors

Great new format, content, etc.!! Suggested for future issues:

1. Move the dot on the p. 72 map of Europe to show the actual location of Incirlik Air Base. The place shown is about 50 kilometers too far east.

2. P. 73 should state the nearest city to Offutt Air Force Base to be Bellevue, which has a population of over 50,000 and essentially surrounds Offutt. Omaha is about 10 miles from Offutt.

John Carstensen

Bellevue, Neb.

I saw your usual superb Almanac issue but found some matters that should be addressed.

The magazine continues, wrongly, to include Billy Mitchell as a recipient of the Medal of Honor. I am a strong supporter of Billy Mitchell and am appalled at the treatment he received, especially from the Navy, when he advocated the supremacy of airpower. His medal, however, is not the classic Medal of Honor for combat bravery and is not a Congressional Gold Medal.

In 1946, Congress approved a request asking that the President present “a gold medal” (the language found in the statute) to Mitchell’s son. The reason for the medal was “outstanding pioneering service and foresight in the field of American military aviation.”

The front of the medal bears his likeness, showing him with leather helmet, goggles, and a scarf.

Col. Charles A. Jones,

USMCR (Ret.)

Norfolk, Va.

As always, I enjoyed this year’s Almanac issue. However, this aging, former desk jockey did ponder apparently conflicting statistics the issue gave readers about the MQ-1 Predator. Let’s play a little numbers game.

The “Last Predator” brief on p. 19 reports USAF accepted 268 MQ-1s [“Air Force World,”]. The “Aircraft Age” chart on p. 52 shows a total of 138. OK; that could be because 130 of the 268 no longer operate or exist. But then, the “Gallery of USAF Weapons” entry for the MQ-1 on p. 85 states 186 air vehicles were produced—an 82-airframe difference from 268—and the inventory is 174, not the 138 from the age chart.

If we go with the 186 production number and 174 inventory, only 12 MQ-1s no longer operate or exist. Hmmm! Or have 94 of the 268 production number “disappeared,” leaving the inventory at 174? Or is the inventory difference (174-138) because there were 36 MQ-1s built so stealthy no one can count them? Obviously, for me, trying to make sense of the numbers was futile and put me in an almost uncontrollable mental spin.

Lt. Col. John Walmsley,

USAF (Ret.)

Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

The Almanac figures are accurate as of Sept. 30, 2010, as provided by USAF. All numbers will be updated for the 2012 Almanac.—the editors

Thank you so much for the photograph of Col. Vermont Garrison on p. 125 [“Air Force Aces”]. Obviously an outstanding pilot, but I knew him at the 4780th Air Defense Wing at Perrin AFB, Tex., as one of four clearly outstanding wing commanders with whom I served in 28 years in the Air Force.

He held that a commander should spend a very high percentage of his time with the people who were supporting the unit and a very small amount on those who weren’t—just enough to throw them out. I would see this written in almost the same words some three to four years later by Lt. Gen. [Alvan C.] Gillem (then AU/CC). Colonel Garrison also believed in and held in the same stature and to the same standards the significance of the contributions to the success of the unit by those who were not in the cockpit.

Lt. Col. Oliver P. Doe Jr.,

USAF (Ret.)

York, Maine

The Almanac has not been “streamlined.” It has been gutted.

To be fair, you have made a few improvements. You combine active, Guard, and Reserve aircraft inventory (TAI) into one table on p. 48, broken down by model for the first time. You track the age of the entire aircraft fleet on p. 52 (not broken down by model), and you’ve added a variant heading to the aircraft descriptions in the “Gallery.” Apart from these improvements, this is the worst Almanac in the 21 years I’ve been an AFA member.

You reduced the 2010 Almanac’s 23 pages of detailed information on the commands to six pages. The two Air Guard pages are cut to one page that lists units and aircraft, but not where they are based. The two Air Force Reserve pages are shrunk to half a page that does not list units, aircraft, or bases.

Details such as area, runways, personnel, and aircraft have been removed from the base profiles on p. 66-77. Civilian force data, inflation rates, educational levels, and military and civilian pay tables are among the other deletions.

In order to make amends for the sad state of the 2011 Almanac, I suggest that you include a gallery of Navy, Marine Corps, and Army aircraft in one of this year’s editions, something you have not done since 1990, and make that an annual feature as well.

Maj. James McLoughlin,