Why are pilots leaving AF? 

July 29, 1998

Comment: #158

Discussion Thread:  #s 152, 153, 155, 156

More info for the file. I received the following attached comments from an experienced newspaper reporter, who could only identify the source as 'someone who understands Army affairs.' I have no idea who the author is, but he/she introduces some interesting points, particularly those regarding unit cohesion in Bosnia. These comments appear to be in response to #156.

[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, the following 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.]


Except the picture is more complicated than is laid out here, for several reasons:

1. Unit integrity is no better in Bosnia than the Gulf, I'd wager. There are plenty of aumentees and switches in Bosnia. For example, of the 8,000 folks going to Bosnia with the 1st Cav next time around, 3,500 are from outside the division. And that doesn't even count the slicing and dicing going on inside the division. How many Humvee-mounted infantry units did the 1 Cav have prior to getting this mission? Zero. Likewise 1st ID and 1st AD. I'm sure everyone involved has done what they can to preserve crew integrity, etc., but nothing above and beyond the norm, and the norm today is a lot of turbulence, be it in Bosnia, the Gulf, or anywhere.

2. I visited the AF in the Gulf right after Khobar Towers. Guys in that unit were zealous and uniform in their praise for their commander, Terry Schwalier, for his leadership, in ways that one rarely hears in the AF. The same folks also would turn on a dime and tell you that they hated the no-fly-zone routine, because it was shitty flying and shitty living. The point being, there are limits to the capacities of smaller-unit leaders to fix things that higher echelons have laid upon them. Achilles himself couldn't sell Saudi Arabia and no-fly-zones to AF pilots and crews. Also, the questioning of the mission has more to do with overall limp-wristed US policy on Iraq than a simple question of "why they were there." What they question is why the mission is being conducted the way it is, which is as much a puzzle inside the Beltway as out.