Hill Staffer Charges Decisions in Washington Degraded Pilot Skills

February 28, 2000

Comment: #347

Discussion Thread: #s 169, 182, 183, 190, 202, 227, 298, 299


[1] Member of the Congressional Staff, "Trip Report: Navy and Air Force Air Combat Training," January 30, 2000

Reference #1 is a trip report that is being distributed widely on Capital Hill, inside the Pentagon, and among defense contractors. It was prepared to document the results of a visit to Fallon Naval Air Station and Nellis Air Force Base by a member of the congressional staff.  He charges that the skills of fighter pilots in the AF and Navy are being degraded by the effects of training cutbacks, shortages of instructors, excessive peacetime deployments, aging aircraft, spare parts shortages, shortages of flying hours, and the lack of an aggressor program like that employed in the 1970s and 1980s.  He charges that the roots of the problem can be traced to decisions made in Washington, particularly on Capital Hill.

While I agree with his findings, I would add that the courtiers in the Pentagon bear a fair share of the blame for this situation.  They have ducked the hard decisions for at least 10 years and as result they have created the self-inflicted wounds that are collectively known as the Defense Death Spiral - (1) a modernization plan that can not modernize the force, because new weapons are too expensive to replace on a timely basis, (2) a rapidly deteriorating readiness posture due to the rising cost of low readiness, and (3) a corrupt accounting system that renders it impossible to assemble the detailed information needed to sort out the actions needed to correct the first two problems mockery of the accountability clause of the Constitution.

This is an important report - it is one more report card. I urge you to read it carefully.

Chuck Spinney

[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]