Wynne vs. McCain
Former Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne is challenging Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Senate Democrats who want to block further production of advanced F-22 fighter bombers.
Mr. McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has joined ranks with Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and other Democrats in opposing a Republican effort to add $1.75 billion to the current defense budget for seven F-22s, which would keep open the production line beyond the planned purchase of 187 jets.
Debate on funding the additional F-22s was halted July 14 and will resume next week. President Obama has threatened to veto the defense spending bill if the F-22 money is included.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is expected to address the F-22 debate in a speech Thursday night.
Mr. McCain said in a Senate floor statement July 13 that those who want more jets argue that limiting production to 187 fails to meet war-fighting needs for air power.
For example, the senator noted that Air Force Gen. John Corley, commander of the Air Combat Command, has stated that a total of 381 F-22s would meet operational demands with a low level of risk, and that a force of 243 to 250 jets would produce moderate risk.
Mr. McCain noted, however, that the Pentagon in December 2004 decided that 183 F-22s would be sufficient to meet military requirements based on “several analyses which affirmed that number based on a number of variables, including the length and type of wars that DoD believes it will have to fight in the future and future capabilities of likely adversaries.” The number was later adjusted to 187.
Mr. Wynne, who was asked by Mr. Gates to resign in June 2008 over Air Force nuclear mishaps, stated in an e-mail produced with former special assistant John Wheeler that the Air Force did not carefully study the cut in required F-22s.
“The analyses were result-driven and false,” Mr. Wynne and Mr. Wheeler stated. “They were not objective.”
Gen. Corley, they said, “is a war-fighting general and his voice is the one to trust.”
“Why [has] no analytical support been made available to support the lower number of aircraft? Because there never was any,” they said.
Mr. Wynne and Mr. Wheeler said that the F-22 is much more capable than the F-35, and that failing to produce more F-22s will prevent the United States from reaching “air dominance” in a future conflict. They also said Mr. Gates is underestimating future threats by limiting F-22 production.
A spokesman for Mr. McCain had no immediate comment.
In a letter to Mr. Levin sent July 13, current Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz argued against producing more than 187 F-22s and defended production cuts.
“We assessed the F-22 decision from all angles, taking into account competing strategic priorities and complementary programs and alternatives,” Mr. Donley and Gen. Schwartz stated. “We did not and do not recommend F-22s be included in the fiscal 2010 defense budget.”
While acknowledging that the F-22 is the “most capable fighter in our military inventory,” the two leaders said competing demands for funds for intelligence and communications and cybersecurity needs led to their decision.
China and POWs
China’s government has turned over about 25 pages of summaries of classified documents on missing Americans from the Korean War but not the documents themselves, as suggested by a Pentagon agreement reached last year.
Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the U.S. is working with the Chinese as part of efforts to reach a full accounting of missing U.S. personnel from past conflicts but that the process has been slow.
“To that end, we are pleased to have the cooperation of China,” Mr. Morrell said. “We are making progress on this issue, but the process is slow. We look forward to further developing our work together in this area and providing closure to the families of all those still missing.”
Larry Greer, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), said China has been paid $150,000 for its cooperation since an agreement was signed last year on gaining access to archival documents.
Recently Chinese turned over about 25 pages of summaries, Mr. Greer said. “So far we’re comfortable they have met the terms of the agreement,” he said.
A memorandum on implementing the archives agreement signed by a Chinese military officer and Pentagon official Melinda Cooke on April 24, 2008, states that China is required to notify DPMO of documents related to U.S. military personnel during and after the Korean War and “provide copies of findings and results” to the Pentagon within six months.
According to Mr. Greer, one of the problems in the document search is that China’s archival holdings “are not nearly as organized as what we have,” and as a result “we believe they don’t really know what they have.”
The Chinese summaries are providing new leads for Pentagon investigators. However, Mr. Greer said, “we don’t have names attached to those leads yet.”
Mr. Greer said it was too soon to determine if the new information provided by the Chinese will help resolve the case of Sgt. Richard G. Desautels, one of scores if not hundreds of American prisoners who were reported alive in Chinese hands during the Korean War but who never returned.
The Pentagon is also working to resolve the case of John Deane, one of 16 Americans aboard a Navy reconnaissance aircraft shot down by Chinese MiG jets off the coast of Shanghai in 1956.
Mr. Deane was a flight school classmate of former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who raised the case with Chinese military officials when he was secretary. Mr. Deane was reported held in China and is “still unaccounted for,” Mr. Greer said.
Mark Sauter, a POW researcher, said he believes the Chinese are refusing to provide needed data on American POWs. “It appears the Chinese are still stonewalling us, but now we’re paying them to do it,” he said.
Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong had no immediate comment on POW cooperation.
Mr. Sauter said the Desautels case could be easily resolved if the both the Pentagon and Chinese military are sincere in their accounting efforts.
“China admits it has a nine- to 10-page file on the mysterious case of Sgt. Richard Desautels; where is it?” Mr. Sauter asked. “Now they’re claiming its classified.”
Mr. Greer said the Chinese have said that Sgt. Desautels died in Shenyang and was buried there but that his remains were lost by the Chinese during development in the northeastern Chinese city.
“What has the Pentagon done to follow up on this ‘accounting’?” Mr. Sauter said. “It’s quite a coincidence that Beijing ‘lost’ Sgt. Desautels’ remains in Shenyang - location of a secret camp from which Americans would never return and a possible shipment point for certain U.S. POWs to Siberia, according to wartime U.S. intelligence reports. Why is Beijing holding back its files on Desautels? And what other Americans were with him in Shenyang?”
The Pentagon stated in a 2004 fact sheet on the issue that Chinese cooperation in resolving Korean war POW cases until then was “problematic” because “the Chinese officially state that all Korean War cases involving China were resolved at the cessation of active hostilities.”
Former Marine Corps fighter pilot Edward Timperlake weighed in on the political debate over whether to buy more than 187 of the military’s most advanced warplane, the F-22.
Mr. Timperlake, who recently left the Pentagon as a technology security official, told Inside the Ring that in 1981, he did a study for the CIA comparing air-crew performance.
“I studied the selection and training of fighter pilots, from initial selection, then basic training, to squadrons deployed to combat,” he said.
Mr. Timperlake said the first Persian Gulf War, or Operation Desert Storm, “totally vindicated all who gave so much to insist always on the best fighters in the hands of the best-trained pilots.”
“The U.S. iron law of combat came into play - ‘you fight like you train’ - produced over time Top Gun, Red Flag and MAWTS (Marine counterpart to Top Gun) that became warm-ups to success in Desert Storm, and Enduring Freedom,” he said.
The study compared U.S. fighter pilots and aircraft with those of the British, Soviet, West German, Israeli and Egyptian forces.
“The very first lesson is kill your opponents on the ground,” he said. “If you miss that opportunity, it became crystal clear in my CIA study that the best fighters driven by the best pilots will kill everything in the air. Numbers do count because of the unseen missile or ‘golden BB.’ There are always combat losses, but to paraphrase Gen. George Patton, the goal of combat is to get the other poor [soldier] to die for his country.”
Mr. Timperlake said the math between producing 187 F-22s or more, “more is always better, especially when slightly less than a $1 trillion has gone to a domestic stimulus, with the possibility of another trillion all under the insulting rubric of ‘shovel-ready jobs.’ America deserves better than everyone questing for ‘shovel-ready job.’ ”
Mr. Timperlake in January left the Pentagon as director of technology assessment within the International Technology Security Directorate. “As the former DoD official responsible for technology security, I strongly believe an export version of the F-22 can be sold to Japan and the Israeli Defense Forces with appropriate safeguards,” he said.
“If we get in a dust-up with China, or a nation flying state-of-the art Russian fighters, I personally would rather have an F-22 than another chapter of ACORN,” he said.