Category: Middle East

Terrorism in Latin America (Part One): The Infiltration of Islamic Extremists

“The threat from Islamic extremists in Latin America remains an overlooked aspect of U.S. national security strategy. And the threat is worsening – not “waning” as the Obama administration claimed about Iran in 2013. The Trump administration should shift U.S. priorities in Latin America to strategies that preemptively disrupt the financial networks of Islamists, aid allied governments with legal and law enforcement support, and increase intelligence-gathering capabilities in the region.

The Process Began Decades Ago. Islamic extremists have used Latin America as a base of political and financial support since the immediate years preceding the formation of Israel in May 1948:

  • A handful of Arab officials and Arab-Palestinian sympathizers began fundraising efforts and circulated anti-Israeli literature throughout parts of Latin America not long after the first Arab-Israeli war (1948- 1949).
  • As networks developed and diplomacy turned to violent activism, more militant groups moved in; for instance, in the 1960s, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) used established networks to build their own base of support among guerrilla factions, local anti-Semitic organizations and Arab civic groups in Argentina.
  • Furthermore, the PLO and others also collaborated with rebels in Nicaragua in the 1970s and with the Cuban government in the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict.

Aided by these local networks, Iran began settling its agents in Latin America in the early 1980s and operatives from Hezbollah ‒‒ a militant Islamist group based in Lebanon and proxy force of Iran ‒‒ soon followed.

Latin America Is Important for Relationships and Money. Today, international Islamists, especially Iran and Hezbollah, employ much more sophisticated fundraising and recruitment operations that reach far and wide. Former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States Roger Noriega told Congress in March 2012 that Iran now has 80 Hezbollah Islamist operatives in at least 12 Latin American nations –‒ including Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Chile. In fact, the U.S. Treasury Department froze the assets of Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami in February 2017 for his collaboration with drug organizations and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah.

Separately, author and senior Pentagon consultant Edward Luttwak describes the lawless triborder region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, 800 miles north of Buenos Aires, as the most important base for Hezbollah outside of its headquarters in Lebanon. The $6 billion-a-year illicit economy in this Hezbollah stronghold has allowed a variety of terrorist organizations to earn an estimated $10 million to $20 million a year from arms trafficking, counterfeiting and drug distribution, among other illegal activities…”

See more here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

5 Reasons the U.S. Should Defund the U.N. Palestinian Refugee Program

(This piece also appeared in the Times of Israel and is co-authored by Calev Myers)

“American taxpayer money is wasted on UN programs, such as the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), for which the United States remains the single largest donor of any country, having given $380 million toward a nearly $1 billion budget in 2015.

The United Nations set up UNRWA in 1950 to provide relief services for Palestinian Arabs displaced after the 1948 war between the new State of Israel and its Arab neighbors. The organization was intended to provide temporary social services only to Palestinian Arab refugees and only until they could be integrated into the country that sheltered them. UNRWA has instead grown into a near-permanent refugee industry with substandard education, health care and social services for the millions of Palestinian Arabs under its care.

Despite billions of dollars in aid over the past six decades, there has been little improvement in the lives of Palestinians under UNRWA’s care. Some 65 percent of Palestinian refugees live in poverty, which worsened for some in Gaza after Israel’s withdraw in 2005; the refugee infant mortality rate stands at nearly 22 percent; unemployment in Gaza reached nearly 30 percent in 2011. But five issues, in particular, undermine the rationale for its very existence:

  1. Flawed Legal Mandate

A Palestinian-only refugee agency is legally unsound and morally unjust. Indeed, all other refugees around the world –‒ 130 million since World War II ‒‒ are cared for under the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). UNHCR has a specific mandate to integrate refugees into the country where they reside to avoid creating generations of people dependent on foreign assistance. UNRWA does just the opposite by applying refugee status to third and fourth generation Palestinians who were never displaced. As a result, the number of “Palestine refugees” grew from roughly 700,000 in 1950 to over 5 million today.

  1. Conflicts of Interest

UNHCR avoids employing aid recipients to escape conflict of interests, whereas UNRWA is staffed mainly by Palestinians and those with an interest in maintaining and growing the system. Making matters worse, an overstaffed UNRWA employs one person for every 182 Palestine refugees registered by UNRWA, compared to UNHCR’s one staff member for every 5,500 refugees.

  1. Faulty Logic of Refugee Status

Approximately 2 million Arab Palestinians live in the area west of the Jordan River, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and are registered by UNRWA as refugees from Palestine. The problem is that these refugees cannot be considered refugees from Palestine since they already live in the Palestinian Authority; the vast majority of them were born in their current place of residence and were never displaced. That twisted logic has now allowed thousands of Syrians of Palestinian origin to register with UNRWA, despite the fact that the majority of them were born in Syria and lived there as citizens until civil war displaced them. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of other Syrian refugees not of Palestinian origin receive no such preferential treatment.

  1. Radicalizing the Innocent

UNRWA textbooks are based largely on Hamas ideology and systematically indoctrinate students in violent jihad. Their schools also periodically hold ceremonies to honor “shahids” or those who have carried out terrorist attacks. Even the UNRWA schools in Gaza were revealed to have been used as munitions storage for Hamas on three different occasions in 2014. In one instance, UNRWA officials simply handed confiscated missiles back to Hamas.

  1. UNRWA Terrorism Connection

The Hamas faction has won the last three elections for the employees’ committee within UNRWA, meaning most employees are members of or support Hamas. That poses a significant problem because, among other issues, Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khaled Mash’al admitted that Hamas often reallocates for military use large amounts of donations intended to rebuild civilian infrastructure.

The US government must rethink funding UNRWA. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) began the process with the 2014 UNRWA Anti-Terrorism Act. But US officials could go one step further by refusing to renew UNRWA’s mandate when it expires in June 2017, and by giving UNHCR responsibility for Palestinian refugees. All UNRWA operations west of the Jordan River could then be transferred to the Palestinian Authority.

American taxpayers and the average Palestinian have virtually nothing to show for the millions provided to UNRWA. The U.S. government and others must demand new solutions.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Syrians Quietly Investigated During the Great Immigration Panic of 2017

This originally appeared in “President Trump’s executive order to halt immigration from several Middle East countries comes at the same time Americans are learning of Syrians who may have slipped through the cracks.

The Los Angeles Times reports the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are reinvestigating several dozen Syrian refugees who have already resettled in the United States after derogatory information surfaced that may have disqualified them from entering the country. This development should come as no surprise since the government never had the capacity to handle such a task. President Obama admitted 15,479 Syrian refugees last year alone, an increase of over 600 percent from 2015. And the U.S. government has accepted more than 18,000 Syrians seeking asylum since the civil war began in their home country.

Those on the front lines should be commended for having to execute such a momentous and ultimately impossible order at the behest of an administration oddly intent on forcing through an inordinate amount of people from an area teeming with militant Islamists. The composition of the refugee population raises additional questions since nearly 99 percent of those admitted in 2016 were Muslim, out of a country where Christians make up approximately 10 percent of the population. All of this as jihadists repeatedly proclaimed their intent to embed fighters in refugee populations.

It’s hard to tune out conspiracy theorists while watching this unfold. But let’s give the former administration the benefit of the doubt. At best, this strategy told the American public that their safety came in second to that of the refugees, and that the Obama administration had determined, internally, some acceptable level of risk.

In essence, the administration and its supporters cannot deny the potential danger so they instead favored charity in light of the threat. They determined that welcoming of thousands in need of a better life outweighed the potential for American deaths. But how did they quantify that? Was there a minimal threshold of casualties? France had favorable risk probabilities. But now, 1,071 people have died or were injured between 2015 and 2016, partly due to its immigration policies.

The last gasp of justification I heard before the transition between administrations came from a misguided soul who pointed out that the Statue of Liberty says to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” I gently reminded her that Lady Liberty and the words inscribed on the bronze plaque adorning her base have no constitutional authority. I then recalled for her the irony that the statue was a gift from France ?? the very country that faces a crisis in security as a result of its immigration policies.

Enter President Trump. He has temporarily suspended new immigration from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. But the Heritage Foundation published an interactive list of 93 terrorist plots and attacks in the United States since 9-11 back in September 2015 and a majority of those suspects were Pakistani. Several were even Uzbeks and Afghans. That trend has continued. If the objective was to stop the massive Syria influx, then do that. If the objective was immigration threats in general, the president should have modified the list to reflect the threat. Instead, we have mass panic from those who were silent about the same issue for eight years (no surprise) and a negligible improvement to American security.

Nevertheless, the two reactions explain two different realities – the United States was expected to endure the threat from militant Islam under former President Obama. The United States is expected to prevail under President Trump. That’s at least a good start.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Potential Success of Trump’s Counterterrorism Strategy

President-elect Donald Trump has been criticized during the election process for maintaining the element of surprise in his strategy to defeat ISIS. He indicated that detailing his plan during the debate would allow the enemy to prepare accordingly. This discipline mirrors the teaching of military strategist Sun Tzu, “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

Hillary Clinton detailed her plan, and continued to propose no-fly zones in Syria; but there are many other tactics that can be used in war to defeat the opponent. The Syrian military would simply alter their maneuvers to those that do not involve air strikes.

President-elect Trump has since proposed a combination of strategies to defeat ISIS, and when deployed simultaneously, create a solid counterterrorism policy. Sun Tzu also taught “There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white, and black), yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.” President-elect Donald Trump seems to understand the complexity of public policy and the ambiguity of terrorism; and this combination approach will win the war, rather than Hillary’s approach to win a battle.

The leadership of President-elect Trump combines tactical and strategic thinking through his plan to defeat terrorism.

  1. An organization cannot operate without financial assets; and ISIS is no different. President-elect Trump plans to destroy ISIS’ financial stability by eliminating their oil camps. While crippling their resources, the United States can also collect valuable intelligence through improve human source operations, which have proven successful at gathering critical information on our enemy.
  2. President-elect Trump is against nation-building. It does not help defeat ISIS to set up a democratic government in a country unable to sustain the efforts. But setting up safe zones for Syrian refugees will keep the Syrian population near their home state and prevent the tsunami of refugees flooding into Europe. Keeping the refugee population at their home is a strategic method to prevent displacement into a democracy that would eventually be exploited.
  3. International collaboration is a strategic plan to increase global resistance to terrorism. President-elect Trump values the U.S. partnership with British forces; and seeks to create partnerships with Russia, Syria, and Iran. By aligning anti-ISIS plans, this effective partnership is key to denying ISIS a geographic footprint and deters their ability to plan and organization operations. The partnership with Syria will support the Syrian government and defeat ISIS internally rather than arming the Syrian rebels. This long-term strategy will also prevent ISIS from obtaining more weapons, paid for by the U.S., since those supplies will by acquired from the Syrian forces we currently arm.

Identifying our enemy and creating a global leadership vision will defeat ISIS. President-elect Trump will wage an ideological war by achieving balance between direct and indirect action. Through collaboration, strategic and tactical visions and military strength, ISIS can be defeated!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn visits the NCPA

I had the distinct honor of sitting down with Lt. General Michael Flynn recently to discuss the threat of global terrorism during his recent visit to the National Center for Policy Analysis.

You can view the interview here: 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How New Cold World Order Threatens Humanity

This originally appeared in Townhall:

“An ancient proverb says, ‘When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.’

By now you have seen the heart-wrenching video of a 5-year old Syrian child pulled from the rubble of a house destroyed during another indiscriminate bombing campaign over the city of Aleppo. No tears. No wailing. He sits there unflinching, caked in soot and a face half-covered in blood from a nasty gash atop his head.

It’s hard to stomach as a human. Nearly unwatchable as a father.

While many remain deeply divided over how America should respond to the growing number of atrocities, the same audience seethes at knowing this evil is up against a routinely unprepared and seemingly impotent U.S. administration. The greater concentration of power in the hands of those cold to human suffering may bring the world to a humanitarian tipping point.

The tyrannical cooperation between Iran and Russia, and now perhaps Turkey, is shaping up to Biblical proportions. The dictatorial instincts of those invested in this three-way marriage of convenience and their collective disregard for innocent life when it stands in the way of their insatiable thirst for power serves to affirm the United States as the last great hope for human flourishing. Warts and all, America still stands as the counterweight to the inevitable despotism that overwhelms the world in its absence.

Yet, this critical moment in international history elicits little more than a soundbite from the current administration while it passes from the fairway to the green. World leaders are now disinclined to consult the United States. Instead, they begrudgingly phone Putin, believing him to be the de-facto maestro of world events.

Russian warships carrying Kalibr cruise missiles are gathering in the Caspian and Mediterranean seas. Media outlets report 40,000 Russian troops, tanks and armored vehicles amassed along the Ukrainian border. The administration and NATO feel 4,000 troops to the Baltic States and Poland adequately serves as a “trip wire” against Russian aggression. A force that RAND analysts say would be overrun in 60 hours.

Meanwhile, Russia continues to assist Syria in its heartless war against dissidents. And Iran quite literally reconfigured runways and hangers so that Russia could relocate aircraft to a resident base. This marks the first time since Iran’s 1979 revolution that a foreign military has used the Islamic Republic to launch attacks elsewhere.

The U.S. government’s claim that the revelation took them by surprise leaves Americans to wonder if leadership honestly missed such a visible military maneuver or whether leaders are hiding the truth. There’s no other option. It all comes just as the White House admitted that the $400 million cash payment to Iran was essentially ransom. The habitual I-confess-because-you-caught-me routine is maddening.

The Turkish president’s snuggling up to Putin in the wake of his crackdown in Turkey could be perhaps the most frightening element of all. A NATO member pulls closer to the very country that inspired the organization’s creation. The same NATO ally cut power to U.S. airbases during the alleged coup without cause, leaving operations and facilities without adequate electrically for weeks; 1,500 U.S. airmen stationed at Incirlik Air Base remain quarantined.

At the time, all the administration could muster was a public pronouncement for the Turkish public to recognize Erdogan as their leader. Now the administration is allegedly moving tactical nuclear weapons stockpiled at Incirlik into Europe, presumably over fears of Erdogan’s next move with Russia. But again, the administration says things are under control.

To borrow from Michael Corleone, “Can’t you give me a straight answer anymore?!?”

The strategic alignment among three major powers who share a disdain for liberty and a disregard for human suffering creates a remarkable bloc of authoritarianism. The next president will hold one of the worst hands ever dealt an incoming administration. But a comprehensive and imaginative strategy that treats traditional areas non-traditionally would be a good first step.

For instance, help draw U.S. allies into an unprecedented alliance against the emerging group, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Also, begin to treat traditional criminal enterprises as national security concerns. The illicit market of goods, whether drugs, pirated movies or looted antiquities, funds everything from the Russian economy to terrorist organizations. Likewise, emphasize the use of financial strategists and analysts to follow the money.

View the cyber threat as one capable of physical injury rather than primarily data manipulation. Employ strategies that presume malicious codes contain physically destructive capabilities. Finally, return to a greater reliance on human intelligence. One co-opted person in the right place can literally change the course of world events.

This isn’t a call for war. It’s more like a prediction that America will eventually have to confront the emerging Cold World Order or succumb to its barbarism.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Foxnews – Gen. Mike Flynn, Allen West, Dr. David Grantham: Yes, we can defeat terrorism

This piece originally appeared at “The legendary Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu rightly observed generations ago that “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” But he also taught that “if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” And right now, our strategy suggests we know neither the enemy nor ourselves.

That must change, and quickly.

The president refuses to know that our current adversary in radical Islam lives by an apocalyptic worldview – one that relies on unconscionable levels of slaughter to bring about its final caliphate.

One cannot rationalize away such an irrational ideology. No medieval battles over Jerusalem, no features of Guantanamo Bay and certainly no aspect of Western culture can justify this level of bloodlust. And yet the current administration stubbornly searches for a clarification that might explain that militant Islam is the result of something other than irreconcilable religiosity. It is a theme akin to “we have met the enemy and decided to deny its existence.”

This obfuscation and denial is the pattern of the administration, one revealed early on when officials termed the Islamic terrorist attacks as “man-caused disasters” and combat operations as “overseas contingency operations.” This willful ignorance has prompted a dangerous mismatch in priorities. The president telling future military leaders, for example, that they are derelict in their duties if they deny climate change creates an environment of false truths, resulting in unsafe policy. Those on the front lines cannot defend against the threat when the threat is purposely misidentified.

It has also led to dishonest conclusions, such as arguing that the loss of territory equates to American military success, and the frequency of terrorist attacks represents the Islamic State’s desperation. Even those with a cursory knowledge of jihadists understand that the successful execution of an attack is seen as a signal of divine support. Frequency only strengthens their resolve.

One should never be so intransigent as to deny the truth of the enemy. That only concedes the initiative and gives the enemy an ability to outmaneuver you strategically.

Instead, we must get into the head of the enemy. All three of us have been there. It’s not pretty. There exists an unparalleled devotion to their cause; a fanatical adherence to Islamic conventions.

Take for instance Abu Zubaydah, a senior Al Qaeda leader captured in 2002. His religious fidelity led him to actually thank his overseers for enhanced interrogation because, according to him, those captured were permitted by Allah to provide information once they reached their own limit for physical or psychological hardship. He said “you must do this for all the brothers.”

They are resolute in their convictions. They are dedicated to the slaughter of any who do not share their warped vision for the future. That’s the enemy.

But America must also know itself. Jihadists do not distinguish between black and white, young or old, poor or rich. Our enemy sees us all as Americans, and we should do the same. It is essential that we champion American exceptionalism — defined not as a pompous view of self, but as the beacon of light for individual freedom in a world lacking it. We must have a shared understanding that our country, our constitutional republic, will always be the last great hope for liberty. And above all, we must agree to protect it.

The government must also know its responsibilities. The next administration and each one thereafter must embrace its constitutional obligation to provide for the common defense, and must never put the interests of others above those they serve. Those leaders should clearly and correctly define the enemy, and articulate an unambiguous national and international strategy to defeat it.

Make no mistake; we are at war. And the enemy possesses an unalterable 7th century ideology with 21st century capabilities. But even the most dogmatic can be defeated. They have been defeated when the United States, leaders and citizens alike, chose to know the enemy and resolved to defeat it. From the Barbary Wars to Nazism, Imperial Japan to communism, America chose sacrifice over compliancy, bravery over fear. The American people squared their collective shoulders and faced the threat head-on.

All of this can be done. And we will do so with unwavering integrity, renewed strength and unapologetic resolve. Knowing ourselves and our enemy will ensure victory.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Why Divesting in Israel Hurts More than Israel

This piece was co-authored by NCPA research associate Danielle Zaychik:

“The self-styled Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been seeking to discredit and reverse Israeli policies with respect to the Palestinian Territories since 2005. BDS promotes an international boycott of Israeli products, divestment from Israeli companies, and exclusion of artists and academics from the Jewish state, among other things. Though the political aims of BDS are contrary to nearly 40 years of U.S. policy, the movement has gained traction in the United States, primarily in academic circles, and among religious and labor organizations. Divesting from Israel, however, would not only likely have negative economic repercussions for Americans and Israelis, but for Palestinians as well. Indeed, the entire divest movement has the potential to devastate the very people it purports to defend.

The Financial Cost of Divestment and Boycott. Punitive economic campaigns have reemerged as the weapon of choice for activists seeking to change the behavior of a given public corporation or the policies of a certain government. For instance, socially responsible investing (SRI) ‒‒ the practice of choosing stocks, bonds or mutual funds based on political, religious or social values ‒‒ remains a popular approach for political activists pushing divestment. State pension funds are a popular target for SRI and divestment activists. Despite their fiduciary duty to maximize the return for investors, some funds have made decisions based on political motivations or outside pressure. Investors in those funds have suffered the consequences. For example:

  • In 2000, the California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teacher Retirement System sold all $800 million of their tobacco shares; but since then, the fund has missed out on $3 billion in investment gains and is now considering reinvesting in tobacco company stocks.
  • SRI funds routinely underperform traditional stocks; from 2004 to 2009, the worst performing regular fund tracking the S&P 500 Index fared better than three out of the four leading SRI funds…”

Click here to continue reading

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Scramble the jets! … (unless it’s Benghazi)

With the release of the report of the Select Committee on Benghazi this week, we were reminded of our government’s failure to defend American lives during the 2012 terrorist attack in Libya.  Four Americans were killed during the attack.  The question that continues to haunt many Americans: Why couldn’t we scramble any F-16s from Aviano Air Base in Italy for 13 hours when our fellow Americans were under attack?

This morning at Joint Base Andrews, an active shooter exercise was mistaken for an actual attack.  The military base, which is located in the suburbs of Washington and is home to the “Air Force One” presidential aircraft, was placed on lockdown while the tense situation unfolded.  Armed response teams and other first responders quickly assessed the situation and realized the mistake.  Thankfully, nothing except some minor chaos resulted.

Ever since the September 11 attacks, standard procedure in the Washington area is to launch a combat air patrol (CAP) of F-16s or other fighter aircraft to protect the nation’s capital in case a local event is prelude to a larger attack.  At least that’s one lesson we haven’t forgotten from 9/11.  I live and work in the D.C. area so I can sometimes see the jets; more often I can hear their engines.  Today was no different.  I could hear the CAP fly above while the situation at Joint Base Andrews unfolded below.  It is a prudent defensive move, and I’m told the pilots need the flight hours anyway.

Alas, today’s events underscore the same question as above:  If F-16s are used to protect the nation’s capital during a situation like today’s, why couldn’t we scramble any F-16s from Aviano Air Base in Italy for 13 hours when Americans were under attack at Benghazi?  We wish we knew the answer.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Fighter Aircraft and 21st Century Threats

Chris Wiley is a Veteran and Contributing Fellow for the NCPA:

“Simply put:  the A-10 Warthog’s lethality and simplicity have ensured its longevity.

I will get to the specific merits of the A-10 Warthog in a bit, but we must first revisit history to reinforce my premise.  When I entered the Air Force Academy in 1993, the post-Cold War era was in full swing.  And the ensuing “peace dividend” defense budgets ushered in a period of downsizing for the U.S. Air Force.

The prospect for a “near peer” or force-on-force air war had greatly diminished with the collapse of the Soviet Union, resulting in Fighter Wing de-activations, aircraft retirements, mandatory Reductions in Force (RIF) and drastic contractions in forward deployed assets.  These factors compelled the Air Force to embrace an “Expeditionary” model; a smaller, modular concept used by the Marine Corps for decades.  The Marines’ dependent relationship on their Navy “big brother” had molded them into a lean, nimble Combined Arms weapon, at the ready for our nation.

Initially, the Air Force invented the Composite Wing, which clustered Air Mobility, Tactical Aviation and the requisite logistical support together organizationally, and stationed the Wing at a common base to provide Major Command leadership “chess pieces” for rapid deployment.  The Composite Wing then evolved into the Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) which packaged existing, but often geographically separated, units into packages available for deployment.  As flare-ups emerged in the Middle East, the Air Force supported U.S. Central Command by developing a rotation schedule that balanced deployments across combat units and offered the ability to tailor capabilities to mission requirements.  This model continues to the present.

Under this strategy, my A-10 unit, the 355th Fighter Squadron then stationed near Fairbanks, Alaska, and with a primary mission to defend South Korea from North Korea, still held a spot in the Central Command’s expeditionary rotation.  Our unit deployed in support of Operations NORTHERN and SOUTHERN WATCH in Iraq.  We also deployed several times to Kuwait and Afghanistan.  And the post-9/11 world has not permitted a slowing of this “Ops Tempo,” or the frequency at which units deploy.  The Air Force has essentially maintained this robust expeditionary posture for over 20 years.

Why then is the A-10 often considered for “mothballing” when it remains the best fit for this intense and longstanding expeditionary model?  After all, ongoing engagements make the current system incredibly expensive.  As I mentioned, ops tempo remains high and, therefore, transit costs or those monies used to pay for units to rotate in and out of theaters 3 to 4 times annually remain incredibly high.  Until planners use basing arrangements like those used for the Korean Peninsula –‒ a model in which personnel serve one or two year “remote” tours, but the airframes and the logistical support stay in country ‒‒ the A-10 will remain the most appropriate aircraft for this model.

Indeed, we have Warthogs presently headlining the Air Force’s new expeditionary package in reaction to Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.  The A-10 is adaptable and has proven capable of immediately allying with host-nation air forces to demonstrate NATO’s cooperative power.  Additionally, more than one stateside A-10 squadron has deployed to Europe and showcased its unique ability to land at bare-base situations.  The risk of damage to the A-10 from foreign objects is far lower than other Air Force fighters, which allows Warthogs, for instance, to operate from un-maintained runways and even dry lake beds.

Moreover, the United States’ engagements at the center of this expeditionary model remains ill-suited to the new 5th Generation weapons platforms currently being pursued by the Pentagon.  The Air Force has focused its acquisitions process on replacing 4th Generation tactical aircraft, like the A-10, with technologically advanced and exorbitantly expensive aircraft designed primarily for massive, full-spectrum wars –‒ the types of conflict that waned with the Cold War’s conclusion.

Instead, the Air Force’s lowest technology tactical airframe, the A-10 Warthog, has proven itself the optimal Close Air Support (CAS) platform for current engagements, namely global terrorism.  Rugged, simple, survivable – the physical attributes of the A-10 Warthog are not “Expeditionary” by chance.  During conceptual development, the Air Force envisioned the A-10 deploying to Forward Air Refueling Points (FARP) in West Germany to support NATO ground forces against a Warsaw Pact invasion.

The takeaway for our citizens, Congress, and the Air Force is to embrace the Warthog for a few more years.  No plane flies forever, but the Air Force cannot retire a capability so appropriate for the current expeditionary engagements without a viable successor.  The proposed successor may be a quantum technological leap beyond the A-10, but is it expeditionary and ready to supply close air support today, or ever?  The Air Force needs to be honest with their sister services, Congress and the taxpayers.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email