Why Bombs Over Baghlan Won't Work

Revue
 
Today's things: OTH not the end; more bombs for Afghanistan; UXO in Cambodia; OA-X continues; noncoms
 

5 NatSec Things

November 9 - Issue #14 - View online
Your Daily Look at War from the Cheap Seats

Today’s things: OTH not the end; more bombs for Afghanistan; UXO in Cambodia; OA-X continues; noncoms to take the wheel of RPAs.

Other-than-honorable discharges can still get mental care
When you leave the military, how you leave matters: if you leave with an honorable discharge, you get all the cool benefits, like 10% off at Lowe’s. If you leave with, say, an other-than-honorable, you might be able to rent a pickup truck at a Home Depot, but forget that discount.
OTH discharges have been used to process out veterans who have the PTSDs, according to a lot of stories I’m too lazy to link to, so trust me: I’m on the the internets. Because a soldier who sustained a head injury or saw too many things they can’t process on their own is going to act out in ways that mean they can’t soldier anymore. And because the military handles mental health with the same delicacy it handles everything else, said soldier is discharged.
Here’s the problem: if you’re a veteran with mental health challenges due to your service, last thing you need is to be out on your own without mental health care. Congress just made it possible for OTH dischargees (that a word?) to get that health care from the veterans’ system. Now how about working with that soldier’s chain of command to get them that help before you kick them out, huh?
60% of the time, bombing campaigns work every time
Now that coalition aircraft have bombed large swathes of Iraq and Syria back to the Stone Age (again), bombing in those countries is down 60%. Which means the US can focus its attention on Afghanistan, finally. I mean, it’s only been what, 16 years that the Americans have been dropping high explosives on the place? 
It’s true that air power is a vital part of modern combat. We know that’s true because the Air Force, whose budget depends on air power, tells us so. And of course whacking guys in flip flops carrying knock off AKs has to be done by multi-million dollar jet machines in order to call it a success. 
Unless/until the US commits to diplomacy in ending the war in Afghanistan, this won’t stop: the bombing will continue until peace improves. Which myth is perpetuated by a political environment where putting more troops into a situation isn’t tenable, even though that’s going to be more effective than bombs over Baghlan.
US ends funding for removing bombs it dropped on Cambodia
The US was funding the removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in eastern Cambodia because that UXO was put there by the US in the first place during another war-that-never-happened. Since the Americans have tried this “bombs for peace” program before, and bombs don’t always do what bombs are supposed to do, which is blow up and kill people. Or they blow up later and kill the wrong people. 
No one’s sure why the funding stopped, and the Americans insist they’ll be back next year to focus on the other UXO problem, like the land mines the bad guys left littering the landscape. Which, to be fair, are a worse problem, because there are more of those, and they’re harder to find, since if you can see the landmine, it defeats the purpose of the landmine.
US/Cambodian relations are tense right now, but this is less about foreign policy and more about American responsibility to clean up things it left behind. There’s a similar problem in Afghanistan, and will be in Iraq and Syria once the reconstruction starts in those places. Termination of this funding bodes ill for the future of those kinds of efforts. 
There's a reason the US gave Afghanistan all those Tucanos
The “former Navy pilot” referenced above is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) who has long been a proponent of keeping the A-10 alive. But also acknowledging that there needs to be other close air support (CAS) options like the ongoing OA-X program. Which is about to get a real world test, according to DoD sources.
One of the aircraft being tested? The Embraer/SNC joint venture A-29 Super Tucano currently being flown in Afghanistan, and which is now being sold to Nigeria (a sale approved back in August). The Afghanistan Air Force (AAF) is enjoying their Light Air Support (LAS) aircraft so far, although Afghan citizens are less enthused given the AAF’s propensity to drop bombs on their homes. 
Afghanistan is a great big field test for the OA-X/LAS concept. Whether the USAF selects the A-29s (not likely, since the Americans won’t be interested in something flown by brown people) or one of the other aircraft on offer, the OA-X shouldn’t replace the A-10. The A-10 was designed to kill tanks and survive on a battlefield with really big guns. It does that mission well. Still, there’s a need for something less pricey when dealing with the dudes in the flip flops.
USAF wants more enlisted pilots for its RPAs
I prefer “drones,” or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVS) because calling them RPAs sounds like another hipster trend in micro-brewing that would probably be OK so long as whatever you’re calling beer didn’t taste like it was filtered through someone’s old sock. My opinions on beers and hipsters aside, the USAF needs pilots for the damn things, and its turning to its non-commissioned officers to get that done.
Jet pilots are a unique bunch of human beings that give each other nicknames that sound like something from “Our Gang” reruns as a badge of honor, and until we decide it’s cool to pilot all our aircraft remotely, we’ll still need them around. But there are a lot of other flying duties, like the RPAs, that could be done by individuals with a different set of skills.
Expect this trend to continue with the Air Force and the other services that need drones. That, or they’ll have to keep contracting these duties out. Which makes some fiscal sense, but doesn’t impress the public as much as having people in uniform behind the stick in that trailer in Nevada.
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