- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 13, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Your article “Airstrike kills al Qaeda cleric al-Awlaki” (Web, Sept. 30) celebrates the counterterror success but minimizes the force that made it possible: air power.

Air-surveillance planes and satellites tracked al-Awlaki for weeks around the clock. Our unmanned aircraft supported by a global air-control network conducted the attack and U.S. fighters provided backup and in-depth offense. This was air power at its best - competent, efficient and precise.

But the looming cuts in defense as part of deficit reduction - $1 trillion by most estimates - would carve the heart out of air-power forces. Those are fighters, bombers, unmanned drones and surveillance aircraft, the very forces that we need to continue our global counterterror fight.

Libya and the al-Awlaki raid teach us a valuable lesson: The air-power solution is far superior to endless, mindless ground invasions and nation-building adventures, and far less costly in dollars and American lives. We should be increasing our air forces, not cutting them.

GEN. JOHN MICHAEL LOH

U.S. Air Force (retired)

Williamsburg, Va.

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