Sunday, April 01, 2007

Why The Air Force Memorial Sucks

I watched the Air Force Memorial being built, bit by bit, next to the Pentagon all last year from my office window. As a proud Air Force vet, I went to the dedication on October 14. They even found an old F-4 Phantom, the fighter I flew, to fly by. After months of careful consideration, my official decision is that the Air Force Memorial sucks. I hate it.

The first question everybody asks when they see the Memorial is, “What is it?” It certainly isn’t obvious to anyone on first sight. I tell people it’s an antenna the Pentagon uses to talk to extraterrestrials. They laugh a little but wonder if it might be true. All that X-Files baloney has rotted people’s brains to the point that they’ll believe anything.
This is but one instance in a general trend in aeronautical institutions to celebrate the progress of aviation and triumphs of aviators with dopey abstract art. If you look outside the brand-spanking new Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum out by Dulles airport, you will be treated to the sight of a sculpture out front that looks like a giant stainless steel crispy fry. In front of the National Air & Space Museum itself on the National Mall is a sculpture that looks like some kind of alien phallus. How about focusing on the humans?
The Air Force was the last service to get a memorial in Washington, so it was overdue. You can see the Navy Memorial over on Pennsylvania Avenue, where a Lone Sailor waits to board his ship while standing on a huge map of the world’s oceans. I get it. Nobody needs to explain the Navy Memorial to me with a PowerPoint presentation.


The bronze “Three Soldiers” at the Vietnam Memorial are likewise immediately understandable. No interpreter needed. It looks like they just came back from a jungle patrol. I get it. Everybody gets it.


The Marine Memorial over in Rosslyn features the Marines heroically planting Old Glory on top of Mount Suribachi. Now THAT’s a memorial! It’s the Gold Standard for military memorials, realistically portraying real humans in real battle. Nobody needs to ask what it’s about. It's about Marines whupping ass.


Compare those colossal heroic Marines perched on Suribachi to this bronze of an Air Force honor guard at the bottom of the Air Force Memorial and you wonder what weenie bureaucrat signed off on that. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the guys in the honor guard are fine fellows but the Air Force isn’t about honor guards. The whole design of the Air Force Memorial is inspired by the bomb burst aerial stunt performed by the Thunderbirds, the Air Force demonstration squadron that flies at air shows. The Thunderbirds are also a fine group but the core mission of the Air Force is not to entertain the general public with flying circuses.

My impression was that the Air Force was about fighting, about flying behind enemy lines to deliver bombs to deserving targets while dodging ground defenses and dogfighting enemy fighters to get through. The Air Force Memorial isn’t about that. That’s why it’s wrong. It reminds me of that bland, horrible impressionist art that hangs in the hallways of some corporations, carefully chosen to be pretty and offend nobody. So it signifies nothing.

The Air Force is culturally divided into two camps: The Blue Air Force and The Green Air Force. The Blue Air Force wears the blue uniform to work while the Green Air Force wears fatigues and flight suits. The Blues do essential tasks like stock the warehouses, maintain the motor pool, and push piles of paperwork around base. The Greens take wing in chariots of fire like sky gods. The Greens are shooters, the Blues shoe clerks. The Blues are preoccupied with trivia like stopping people from whizzing in the woods outside the Officer’s Club after Happy Hour and making sure your ribbons are in the right order on your official photo. The Greens are preoccupied with putting bombs on target.

There is a clash of cultures within the Air Force, where the Blues impose their spit-shined, regulation-happy, utopian culture on the Green’s realist, pragmatic, quick and dirty combat rules culture. The Air Force Memorial is a monument to the Blue Air Force. I’m surprised they don’t have a bronze statue of a clerk at his desk typing a form in triplicate. That’s what it’s all about for the Blues.

I propose an alternate Green Air Force Memorial be placed in the National Mall, hidden in the woods near the WWII Memorial, out of sight of the damned bureaucrats. It would be completely accessible to the public, night or day, just like the other memorials, not like the current Blue Air Force Memorial, which is wedged between the Pentagon and Fort Myer, unapproachable by civilian tourists except on special occasions. I’d like to see a big, bronze P-51 Mustang fighter, the prettiest plane ever made, with the pilot standing next to it, discussing the maintenance forms with his crew chief. A guy from life support is holding a parachute, another guy is fueling the aircraft, and the armorer is laying .50 calibre bullets into the wing guns. That would show the tip of the teamwork needed to launch a fighter.

My other idea for a Green Air Force Memorial would be an A-10 rolling in to strafe a band of fleeing jihadis, knocking their turbans flying in the air. Now there’s a monument that would draw a crowd. I can see guys in flight jackets visiting it late at night, popping a brew, and yelling “YEEEEHAWWWW!” There might be a lot of people who would want to toast to it. Sadly, my vision is thwarted by the current dark tide of political correctness, but I’m confident that the future will demonstrate its righteousness.

36 Comments:

Blogger NSC said...

You had me up until you started that "blue and green" bullshit. Sorry for the cursing but that is what it is. I, myself, was an operator in the Air Force. Not a pilot or other "green suiter," but a Special Agent with AFOSI, and let me tell you we "blue suiters" are integral to the Air Force mission. Green suiters can't fly and fight without us and one would think with the way that wars have changed (no big Soviet Union with thousands of jets to dogfight) green suiters like you would understand that everyone fights now - even supply grunts and certainly Security Police.

Hell, following your logic, the Air Force is pretty much outdated in the war on terror. The Marines have their own air cover, and the Army has their own too, so except for some AWACs, some high altitude bombing, and other surveillance capabilities, what does the Air Force offer in a war without opposing planes? You might as well mothball those F-15s and our new fighter.

(I do love the A-10 I admit, but hell, the Air Force almost did away with it - shows how farsighted the green suits are, doesn't it?)

And as to that clerk you disdain, well, you wouldn't be getting your paycheck without him.

Sure, the memorial sucks and your ideas for a new memorial are great, but give the "we are better than you" stuff a rest. It ain't true.

Mon Apr 02, 07:29:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous RipRip said...

NSC, I had to reread his post after your comment, I still didn't see it. I think Tantor is just pointing out that there is more to the Air Force than the memorial is representing.
"The Blues do essential tasks like stock the warehouses, maintain the motor pool, and push piles of paperwork around base."
I do see the word essential in the statement.

Mon Apr 02, 08:32:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Tater said...

NSC,
Think you’re reading a bit too much into the blue/green thing, that’s been a common bitch amongst those of us on the line for as long as the AF has existed. Heard similar gripes in the Army as well. More of the “brass being out of touch with the troops” thing than “we disdain anyone not on the front lines” attitude. I suspect if Tantor had a normal career, he spent his fair share of time in blues as well. Back when I was a Major I did my obligatory time at Langley, wore blues every day and sure didn’t smile a lot! Staff work has to be done, even though at times I found it more than a bit moronic, still had to be done.

The AF memorial, is a prime example of brass being oblivious I might add.

As for your comments on aircraft not being relevant in the GWOT, you are sadly out of touch with reality. Granted there’s no big air war going on, but there are thousands of enemy fighters out there, probably a bad idea to disarm our air superiority just yet. Although I think highly of our Marine/Navy/Army air wings, they’re far to small to replace the AF. If we decide to take out the infrastructure of a country, (like Iran), you’re gonna need a lot more airpower than what our sister services can produce, just no two ways about it.

Tantor,

Although you’ll never hear me berate the beauty of the P-51, I still consider that an Army fighter (granted our predecessor). Personally would vote for an F-86; classic AF fighter, and represents the birth of both the AF & jet age. Just musing aloud mind you, not debating. Of course with 1200 hours in the Hawg (Suwon ’83, RAF Bentwaters ‘84-‘87), wouldn’t mind your alternative memorial either!

Later gents.

Mon Apr 02, 11:59:00 AM 2007  
Blogger NSC said...

I reread the post to see if I made too much out of it, but alas, a second reading doesn't make me feel any better about it. Still, this is my first time here so perhaps I am wrong and if so I apologize for getting my back up over it.

As to my being sadly out of touch with reality concerning my comments about the Air Force's relevance in the war on terror, I should point out that that was not MY opinion, but simply something that could, and is, argued by those in other services. In fact, I had a great conversation with a Marine the other day who said the very thing I said - they have their own air cover when they need it and more suited to their mission. I disagreed with him, but what matters is not who was right but the perception.

I also was not arguing we do away our fighters - of course there are plenty of enemy fighters out there - only that in the war on terror there are not a lot of dog fights to be had.

Anyway, I know that the Air Force mission is to fly and to fight and a memorial denoting that is the right way to go - I only wanted to point out that there wouldn't be any flying and fighting if not for the blue suiters.

Mon Apr 02, 04:33:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous blottogg said...

Tantor, your blue/green comments reminded me of something. I had just showed up to my new intel staff job after being medically grounded. I hadn't worn blues since SOS, and before that I don't know how long it had been. I showed up with my nametag and wings on the wrong sides. Embarrassed at first, I later became grudgingly proud. Not because I was too stupid to look it up in 35-10 (or whatever McPeak re-numbered it to), but because I was unfamiliar with wearing blues, and too busy with flying fighters or teaching student pilots to bother with that detail.

NSC, I think Tantor's point is that the green/blue thing is an attitude, not a superficial uniform color. We had "blue suit" thinkers in the pilot cadre, and some of the most tactical, mission oriented people I knew were "blue suiters" or even (GASP!) civilians. It's what you choose to focus on that determines which camp you fall into, not the color of your clothing. The green guys focus on "Fly, Fight and Win" (or the more vernacular "Kill people and break things".) Blue guys tell you that you need the updated helpdesk form to request a new account because the old one has the information in a different order. They think that THEIR mission is THE mission.

I like the ideas for a real Air Force memorial. I'd suggest a B-24 fuselage cross-section depicting the crew inbound from the IP (and I'm a fighter guy.) Gunners on the lookout, bombardier hunched over the Norden, everybody thinking small. Fighter guys had (and have) some control over their destiny, and as escort were frankly support for the mission (bombs on target). The job of the bomber guys was (and is) to carry out the mission, to go into harm's way with nothing but aluminum and maybe a little steel plate to hide behind, no flanking maneuver to avoid the barrage AAA, no chance to even dodge for fear of ruining the bombardier’s aim and having to do it all over again tomorrow. I don't know if I could have done that mission once, let alone 25 (or 35) times.

Mon Apr 02, 06:39:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Maguire Doyle Coffin said...

I agree with your comments about the Air Force memorial. It seems like the farther you get from a real life situation (like the USMC memorial) the worse it is. You shouldn't have people walking around saying, "What is it?"
I also agree with your green/blue distinction. I think that all the services have that problem (even my USMC), but the Air Force seems to have it the worst: too many guys coming to "work" each day, thinking and acting like they're no different than employees at Microsoft or American Airlines or Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream.

Mon Apr 02, 07:26:00 PM 2007  
Blogger douglas said...

As an architect, I have to say the memorial is beautiful. And, as you point out, irrelevant. I like the B-24 suggestion, though perhaps the B-17G would be more iconic. Perhaps even a walk-through. what an experience that could be. But how do you do flak in bronze?

Mon Apr 02, 08:13:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...

nsc,

Your point is well taken that every member in the Air Force is performing a useful job that deserves respect. I took a year of Arabic from an OSI agent. I understand that he performed a useful and necessary function. War is full of examples of little things left undone having terrible consequences. So if for only the "For Want Of A Nail The War Was Lost" argument, I appreciate that the Blues had the Greens backs. Thank you.

That said, the Green rules tend to be written in blood while some Blue rules are written in bullshit. Flying regulations for the Greens are the distilled wisdom of accident boards carefully examining catastrophic mishaps. You ignore them at the risk of your life. Many Blue regulations are generated by a more chaotic process that does not ensure their quality. You can safely ignore them to get the job done.

For example, back in the 1960s, the motorcycle safety course took only a few hours and was easily accomplished on a Saturday. When the Arab oil crisis came along in 1973, flying hours were cut which led to a general slowdown in operational tempo. During this lull, the Blues increased the motorcycle safety course to three days. When the ops tempo resumed its normal pace, this bloated course remained like an engorged tick on the back of the Air Force.

This is part of a general trend by the Blues to over-regulate everything in the mistaken hope that they can zero out risk by micromanagement through petty regulation. When voids open up in the Air Force, the Blues fill it in with excess rules and requirements.

The Green philosophy, by contrast, is neatly summarized by General Curtis LeMay, who said, "Rules are for people who don't know what to do."

Another example is the scuba club at Clark Air Base back in the 1980s where I would rent air tanks for dive trips. Suddenly, a decree from the base commander made it mandatory to attend a safety meeting once per quarter at the scuba club. The civilian manager of the scuba club told me that he was frustrated that everyone treated the club like an air station. Nobody showed up for the meetings. So he sold a scary scenario to the base commander of newbie divers grabbing stingrays and suffering a pneumothorax, recommending mandatory safety training at meetings to guard against that.

Blue base commanders don't make general by taking risks, but by playing it safe. No investigation of a dive death is going to find the base commander rejected safety training. So the Blue Air Force piles another requirement on. Little by little, they pile up like bureaucratic sludge in the system.

While Blue jobs are necessary, a little less zeal would serve the mission better.

~~~

As for the Air Force being outdated in the war against terror, t'ain't so. When an Army patrol in Aghanistan is engaged by the enemy, the first thing they do is call in an airstrike. They're plenty pissed if there are no air assets to serve them. Most action reports end with the Air Force bringing fire down on the enemy. Game over. In that sense, ground units are almost acting to bait enemy forces so that the Air Force can hammer them. That would be the A-10s, F-16s, F-15s, AC-130s, etc.

As for A-10s, I don't know anybody in a flight suit who doesn't love 'em. Their early departure was desired by the same kind of clueless brass hats who tried to do away with guns on fighters twenty years before.

And I never disdained the clerks in the Air Force. I learned early and well that if you wanted to get something done fast and right, bypass the officers and cut an informal deal with the clerks. A case of beer is a terrific lubricant for the hidden wheels of the military bureaucracy. I'm looking at my old flight helmet right now. It cost me a case of Heineken to the life support sergeants.

Mon Apr 02, 09:15:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...

nsc: "As to my being sadly out of touch with reality concerning my comments about the Air Force's relevance in the war on terror, I should point out that that was not MY opinion, but simply something that could, and is, argued by those in other services. In fact, I had a great conversation with a Marine the other day who said the very thing I said - they have their own air cover when they need it and more suited to their mission. I disagreed with him, but what matters is not who was right but the perception."

The Marines are smart to have their own integral air support. The CAS mission is scary. It was pretty easy, even back in my day of dumb bombs, to hit a fixed target handed to you by intel (though I never flew in a war). It's a different deal to sort out targets on the ground in a dynamic battlefield.

From a fighter, you rarely can make out human figures. That camouflage on tanks works pretty good, too. You won't pick them up with a casual glance. It's hard to tell the players apart.

You really have to make close air support your main mission to be reliable at it, just like you have to make dogfighting your main mission to be any good at it. If you just do it once in a great while, like the Air Force does, mistakes are inevitable. The Marines are smart to dedicate their fighter force to CAS.

However, there is more to the air war than CAS. The Air Force has the fighters to maintain air dominance, which makes all the other missions, like CAS, possible. The Air Force also does interdiction and strategic bombing. The Marines won't need to do much CAS if the Air Force has torn up the transportation net that would have brought the beans and bullets and bandages the enemy needed at the front.

Mon Apr 02, 09:32:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...

blottog: "I like the ideas for a real Air Force memorial. I'd suggest a B-24 fuselage cross-section depicting the crew inbound from the IP (and I'm a fighter guy.) Gunners on the lookout, bombardier hunched over the Norden, everybody thinking small. Fighter guys had (and have) some control over their destiny, and as escort were frankly support for the mission (bombs on target). The job of the bomber guys was (and is) to carry out the mission, to go into harm's way with nothing but aluminum and maybe a little steel plate to hide behind, no flanking maneuver to avoid the barrage AAA, no chance to even dodge for fear of ruining the bombardier’s aim and having to do it all over again tomorrow. I don't know if I could have done that mission once, let alone 25 (or 35) times."

Not bad, not bad. I could do a B-24 memorial. You wouldn't have had to worry about having the nerve to make 25 missions. You wouldn't have made it to 25. If a squadron of 24 lost one bomber per mission, a 4% loss rate, after 16 missions half the original squadron would be gone. After 25 missions, only a third would survive.

My great uncle flew B-17s as a navigator-bombardier. He was shot down by flak over Germany on his sixth mission and was one of the lucky ones who lived to tell the tale after interrogation by the Gestapo and a stay in a stulag.

Mon Apr 02, 09:44:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous blottogg said...

Glad to hear your great uncle made it. My uncle flew as a nav in B-24's in the Pacific. The B-17 is more iconic, which is another reason I picked the -24. The Liberator needs the press more.

I agree with your comments about CAS. As a Viper baby, I was jack of all trades, master of none. High threat CAS was a level seven helmet fire. One that we'll no doubt have to experience again the first time we go up against double digit SAM's. The Marines are better at it, because they practice it more, and built their mentality around it (every man a rifleman.) More practice was the same reason we were better A/A than they were (and the reason I'll grudgingly admit the Egos were better A/A than us.)

I agree too with your observation that left to its own devices, a bureaucracy will bloat. The same is true for all services, and D.C. in general. Doing some quick web-surfing about a year ago, I found that from 1990-2000, the D.C. metro area grew 15%, while the nation as a whole grew 13%. 2% might not seem like much, but that was only a decade, and it's not like they build washing machines or airplanes in D.C. They make bureaucracy. I haven't figured out how to solve that bloat yet. Technically, it's our responsibility as citizens, but the bureaucracy is already so bloated, it takes an organization to find all the self-licking ice cream cones. An organization of civilians IS government, so I'm stuck with a circular solution for the moment (as is the rest of the country, unfortunately.)

Finally, I don't know how to do flak in bronze, either. Steel would be the natural medium for my proposed memorial though (and aluminum of course.) Painted OD, or perhaps zinc chromate (the unofficial color of the Air Force, as any modeler or mechanic can tell you.)

Tue Apr 03, 08:04:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...

I read a depressing article a few years ago that pointed out that the US government wildly expands during wartime, then downsizes when the war ends, but never quite down to its original size. So wars pump the size of government up permanently.

I think there is a dust bunny effect here in Washington, too. When a city reaches critical mass, that mass foments growth. For example, there is more job security and better pay for computer people in a big job market like DC. So naturally, people get sucked to jobs in DC and jobs get sucked to DC by the labor pool which sucks more people who suck more jobs, etc. It's just like the dust bunnies under your bed slowly gravitating together to form one giant dust bunny from hell.

Tue Apr 03, 02:56:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Larry said...

Just park a B-52 on the Mall. Nothing says Air Force more than a large bomber.

Thu Apr 05, 03:27:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tantor, I second NSC's comment. That superior attitude you flyboys have sucks. You can't fly a mission without the support personnel doing their jobs, to include the "desk clerk" you so snidely mentioned pushing that paper around the base. You ain't dropping any bombs on target unless paperwork has been "pushed". And yes, the memorial is to artsey/fartsey for me too.

Theresa, MSgt (ret), USAF

Thu Apr 05, 03:44:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous TZ said...

I think that the problem that you are describing, one that my USMC has, but to a much smaller degree than any of the other services, is one of seperation. Support services are exactly that. They are support. I am a Marine pilot (well in training at least) but I recognize while I do a very important job, and add many capabilities to the Marine Corps, in the end I am not necessarily needed. The Marine Corps does not require an air arm. It is certainly useful, but that is not the primary mission which is troops on the ground. Ditto for the Air Force. The Air Force does not need persay a ton of the blue suit jobs. Sure you need wrench turners to repair the aircraft and pilots to fly them, but the question is, what are the bluesuits there to support (warheads on foreheads) and could the Air Force function without them? The Air Force could function in combat without a whole bunch of support functions (or at least I hope it could) but certainly not as efficiently or as well. However, people forget that their job is not the most important one around, and lose the focus on the big picture, instead looking at their own little realm as all that matters. People need to mantain this perspective in order to dodge the BS.

I do grant this however, structrally and mission wise the Air Force is the most vulnerable to these distractions. The Air Force being necessarily the tech heavy force that it is means it needs more support branches and personnel to do its mission. So much so that people get caught thinking that the mission is support as opposed to the other way around. Heck, in the Marine Corps the branch that is most vulnerable to this way of thinking is the air arm, and which occasionally I fall victim to because everyone wants to feel special and like they fulfill the most important mission. We do a lot, but again, are not central to the mission necessarily. Being in the aviation business as well, we also have lots of people who support us as well, and run prone to the same thinking as well. Why is the USMC better at not falling victim to this thinking than the other services? I would submit that it is the training. Everyone does infantry training. Everyone. Officers go to TBS and enlisted folks do a boot camp which emphasizes the ground pounding nature of the Marines. Then they send us off to our support schools after we all start on the same sheet. Anyways, its an interesting topic I believe and just another part of human nature as well.

Sun Apr 15, 05:13:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ALL THE CHIEFS IN THE WORLD CANNOT LEAD UNLESS THE INDIANS BACK THEM UP. I REALLY LIKE THE IDEA OF THE P-51 AND GROUND CREWS. AS A NAVY PILOT 26 YEARS, I COULDNOT HAVE FLOWN ONE MISSION WITHOUT THE BACK UP OF THE MAINTENACE, ADMIN ETC.

STOOF AND FUDD DRIVER, MUSTANG ( FORMER ENLISTED)

Sun Apr 15, 06:38:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...

There's a fair amount of criticism of pilots especially and aircrew in general with respect to inflated egos which is difficult to rebut because it's true. Supersized egos are a feature of aviators. Aviators tend to think we're the center of the world. Sometimes the very world itself.

Eventually, it dawns on us that there are other people who are important, too. Like your crew chiefs, who often work like dogs without time off, sometimes sleeping on the tarmac under the wing of your jet.

Slowly, you become aware there are backshops that support your jet, too. I was dating a sergeant in the parachute shop when two guys bailed out of one of our jets that lost power on takeoff from Kunsan. She complained that neither guy came back to thank them for the save. It took me by surprise because I never thought of the folks who packed that chute and stuffed it in the ejection seat. In fact, there were people all over that base who were helping get my jet aloft.

It got worse. When I left the Air Force and got out of grad school, I hired on with General Dynamics in Fort Worth, which made the F-16. That revealed to me that there were thirty thousand people working to make the jets and support them.

When you fly fighters, you are standing on a mountain of support, but you get all the attention because you are perched on the peak of it all. Nobody marvels at the base of a mountain, the part without which the peak is impossible.

Every hour of flight time in that jet required dozens, maybe hundreds, of hours of support. I appreciate all that support, direct and indirect, that goes into putting bombs on target. It's the barnacles of bureaucracy which attach themselves to this pyramid of support and take on a life and purpose of their own which I find exasperating.

I agree with tz the Marine pilot that the Air Force seems more prone to this bureaucraciosis than the Marines, perhaps because the Marines are not so lavishly funded and so must keep themselves lean.

I might hasten to add that I have been out of the flying business for some time now.

Mon Apr 16, 10:17:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shipmate,

Although an old Navy Airdale, I hear ya load and clear.

Persoanlly, were I to have a say in a new AF memorial, it'd be like the 3-soldier's monument, with 4 or 5 pilots, aircrew, and mechs, from various time operiods, all standing together and gazing towards the future.

Either that, or a B-58, my favorite AF plane from all time. Yeah, the F-86 is also way cool, but to me, the Hustler had it all, and was closely followed by the B-47 for looks, for sheer beauty both on the ground and in flight.

Maybe that AF memorial you got stuck with was just a "works" program for ex-Soviet artists?

Respects,

AW1 Tim

Fri Apr 20, 01:11:00 PM 2007  
Blogger david said...

This is not directed to anyone in particular, just a mini-rant:

Come on, lighten up -- us "blue-suiters" know damn well that we wouldn't exist without the flyers -- but by the same token, the flyers wouldn't be able to do their job without all of the support folks (maint, CE, medical, cops, MPF, the whole thing). Yes, there are indeed too many layers of bureaucracy and paperwork in our system (entire DoD), but you know what: it works! Not always the most efficient, but damned effective.

We support folks LOVE what the flyers do and we have the utmost respect for your skills, bravery, and dedication...but please don't look down on all of the support folks for trying to keep things working down here on the ground!

And over on the Medical side, we have a few folks that are similar to pilots with the whole "inflated ego" thing -- they're called surgeons. :-)

And re: the memorial -- eh, it's unique, but surely doesn't say "Air Force" to me. But then, I'm not much for statues and memorials, anyway.

Sat Apr 21, 03:22:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree -- the monument is idiotic, its location dopey. I think NSC is overly sensitive, though from my enlisted experience in the Air Force, I know how the "green-suiters" very often dismiss or are largely ignorant of the contributions of the "support". However, a lot of the support is just bloat, often spending much of their time "supporting" other parts of the bloat, while the "leadership" of the bloat spends too much time increasing the reporting, busy-work and CYA paperwork. There's whole layers of bureaucracy that could be cut. Ye flippin' gods, the paperwork -- entire forests could be saved!

In communications systems, where I worked, the Air Force has a whole layer of equipment and people that don't need to be there (Tech Control). Just because the system as it currently exists needs it (since it's designed in) doesn't mean a better, simpler, more robust system couldn't exist without it.

I know there are OSI people that do good important work, but man, there were a lot of clowns, too. Not as bad as NIS was, though.

30454

Sun Apr 22, 01:54:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friends ask me what the monument is made out of. My reply: Recycled golf clubs.

Wed May 30, 01:16:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The USAF has built an "aiming stake" for future terrorist to hit the Pentagon. The memorial is visible from all locations in the area. The sad irony the USAF memorial serves as a very late and expensive "Jersey Bumper" , blocking from the "ground" the attack that the USAF could not prevent from the air. The memorial is on the exact trajectory as American Airlines Flight 77 when it hit the Pentagon. The Air Force mission is to protect American Airspace. Only the USAF can spin their greatest failure into their memorial. Idle hands are the devil's playthings.

Wed May 30, 11:30:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...

The Washington Monument is a much better offset point for terrorists than the USAF memorial. The Pentagon has a very distinctive shape and sits beside a river. You don't need to be a navigational genius to find it. Simple pilotage will suffice.

The AF memorial is not on the "exact trajectory" of AA Flight 77, which came in about 500 yards to the north of it, over Arlington Cemetery.

The Air Force is not tasked to track the 30,000 daily commercial flights in America and defend against them, as you seem to claim. The Air Force is tasked to defend against external air threats, not internal ones. Your foolish claim that Sep 11 is an Air Force failure is nonsense. If a driver plows into a crowd of pedestrians on the sidewalk, it is not the fault of the police, who can not prevent such things. If a skyjacker plows a stolen jet into a building, it is nigh impossible to stop him once in the air. You have to stop terrorists long before they board their target airliner.

Thu May 31, 08:58:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tantor you just don't get it.

The concern about "aiming stakes" concerns non-guided indirect fire attacks from ground positions. Remember Israel-Lebanon last winter? Don't count out that capability from our little terrorist friends.

The AF Memorial is on the exact trajectory of the the Flight 77 attack. The plane flew directly over the Sheraton Hotel, then over the Navy Annex, clipped a light pole on the Columbia Pike and hit short about 75 yds of the Pentagon entering through wedge one and penetrating through the E, D and C rings. I would be real intested in hearing your explanation of an Arlington Cemetary flight path with the incured damage to the Pentagon-"A Magic Aircraft" theory perhaps. Check it out on Google Earth.

The USAF is charged with defending the United States of America from attacks from the air--period. The FAA and NORAD (USAF owned and operated) had approved and exercised procedures for addressing hijacked US aircraft. NORAD was in the process of exercising these plans when the 9-11 attack occured. See this 9-11 comission link http://www.9-11commission.gov/hearings/hearing1/witness_kleinberg.htm

The bottom-line is the nation's junior military service failed to prevent air attacks on critical nodes to our economy, government, and military because they were not ready or prepared. Fortunately a group of American citizens (Passengers on Flight 93) made the ultimate decision to sacrifice their own lives in to prevent the destuction of the Capital Building. Unfortunately, the military service tasked with mission did not have the fortitude or discipline to complete it. They had the capability, but not the will. They could have taken the shot.

It's ironic that the services(Army, Navy, Marines) that have paid the most in blood, endurance and strength have such subdued, yet elegant memorials (I don't even think there is an Army Memorial in Washington. D.C.) While the AF, the supporting service, has taken the Las Vegas approach to advertising their value to the defense mission.

Bottom-line: USAF has not earned the right to rule the D.C. skyline

Fri Jun 01, 11:52:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...

No, Anonymous, I get it. The problem here is that you don't know what you're talking about.

I work near the Pentagon and I see the impact site every day. My boss saw the jet fly in low over Arlington Cemetery. So did two of my co-workers. There was a photo of the suicide jet in Time or Newsweek showing it in the vicinity of the Washington Monument as it approached the Pentagon, not the Sheraton.

The Sheraton is only a thousand yards from the Pentagon. To overfly the Sheraton and site of the AF Memorial and hit the Pentagon at 500+ knots, the jet would have to be in an impossibly tight high-G turn that would have broken the airliner apart.

If you knew your facts, which you don't, or had ever been to the scene of this event, which you haven't, you would see that it's impossible for an aircraft to fly over the site of the AF Memorial and hit the Arlington side of the Pentagon, which faces away from the AF Memorial.

As I have said before, and you ignore, the AF is not tasked with intercepting every one of the 30,000 daily commercial flights in America. You do not rebut this because you do not argue in good faith.

The rest of your comments are foolish taunting and baiting, the product of a troll. You sound like an immature kid trying to start a fight for the fun of it. If you continue in this vein, your future comments will be deleted. If you want to grow up and talk like a serious adult, then I'll make time for you. Otherwise, scram.

Sat Jun 02, 07:54:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tantor,
I’m not a troll, I’m just very emotional about this USAF Memorial which was the reason you asked for responses. Most Blogs are forums for critical reasoning and critical thinking even if the responses disagree with those of the moderator. I was hoping this site was one where people could intellectually “fence”.
You work near the Pentagon; I work at the Pentagon. I walk through the impact site everyday. I work with people who were in the “building” when it was hit. I walk past the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Resource Management-Personnel who has a memorial to all of the personnel from their office who lost their lives. The memorial has pictures of every individual as well as blue print of the floor with offices, and desk location. This blue print includes the name of the personnel who were at the desks and their status as to whether they were killed, wounded or unharmed.
I’ve been to the existing Pentagon memorial eight different times which is on the ground floor on the exact point of impact. I don’t need a photo from Time or Newsweek to know where Flight 77 struck. The point of impact was wedge one in between the fourth and fifth corridors. You can look out the lone window from the aircraft 70 degree attack angle and the USAF memorial and the Navy Annex The Washington Monument is on the other side of the River.
Your Pentagon savvy viewers can corroborate this information.
For you viewers who do not have knowledge of the Pentagon or Washington D.C. please check out the American Society of Engineers attack on the Pentagon.
http://www.fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/build03/PDF/b03017.pdf
It includes live witness accounts of flight 77 flying over the Pentagon. It also shows you the impact angle of the aircraft to Pentagon. Using google earth you can quickly determine the flight came over the Navy Annex which is right in-line with the Air Force Memorial.

Reference my assertion that the USAF does not deserve the right to have their memorial dominate the Washington D.C. skyline; I post my first exhibit so you can prepare your defense. In legal terms call this discovery.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL32492.pdf

V/R

Ghostrider06

Sun Jun 03, 10:16:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Google Earth cannot be used to map or determine "straight-line" aircraft flight paths unless the map projection supports that function. Most map projections do not. (I don't know for sure, but it's likely that Google Earth uses a variety of different and even mismatched projections in order to maximize coverage while keeping costs low.)

Fri Jun 08, 08:49:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The plethora of angry people posting goes to show just how screwed up things are in the imagae concious Air Force of today. We have a major identity crisis going on. Like it or not, the Air Force IS about putting bombs on target and the P-51 idea is fitting. The other stuff going on right now is just a temporary fad. Besides, the memorial is for those in the past not those of today. I'm sick of People trying to play badass when they aint. If you wanted to be Rambo or in some other way chase glory with a rifle, you should've gone marine or army. Face it the Air Force is about air power. If it wasn't we would still be in the Army. All other air arms in the military are support and only support for a larger surface effort. What sets the Air Force apart is that we win wars from the air. There may not be a use for strategic airpower in the Global War on Terror but there remains a role on a larger stage. That of the world filled with nations that have real airplanes and want to kill Americans with them (N. Korea, Iran, and dare I say China.) So talk shit if you want but it all boils down to that P-51, the man crazy enough to fly it in combat and the airmen crazy enough to stay up all night fixing the damn thing. To the grease stained and often shit upon maintainers and ammo troops, I salute you. To the pilots of today- pull your heads out of your asses. To everyone else I quote Tiny Small, "fuck 'em all fuck 'em all." (Cut him some slack he only has one ball.)

Tue Oct 16, 10:20:00 PM 2007  
OpenID jaydav said...

None you guys get it....... after 24 years of aircraft maintenance both "bluesuit and greensuit" the most important person on the entire base was the dude that cooked my breakfast at the chow hall. You can't argue with me about this point.....take your time and think about it. That A1C flipping those eggs on the griddle was my hero.

SMSgt(RET) Jay Davidson

Mon Jan 21, 01:22:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Sudsy said...

I was in the Green Air Force. In September 1947 when the Air Corps turned into the Air Force they left some people behind with the Army. They were the Weather folks, and the Radio Operator Maintainer and Drivers who drove jeeps full of radios for the Forward Air Controllers (pilots pulled from the cockpit and put on the ground with the Army). I was a ROMAD (www.romad.com the official un-official career field site), in its current form the USAF now has enlisted FACs called Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) due to the flexibility of having enlisted guys spread down further across the battlefield (and having the Air Liaison Officers to provide the rank necessary to deal with a rank obsessed Army).

Our career field (1C4X1, formerly the 275X AFSCs) has been left out of every memorial project done the "Big Blue" until the GWOT when they remembered we existed and then suddenly dumped money and equipment (for which we are grateful for...). However, our history is never displayed in these memorials.

Where are the pictures or sculptures of an F-51 (P-51 in the Korean War, the first large scale conflict involving the USAF) zooming over the top of a Jeep loaded with radios with an Airman providing security for the FAC fighting along side they're Army counterparts on the battle field? Only in books about the Mosquitoes (http://www.mosquitokorea.org/). How about TSgt. Charles Jones in Vietnam? An enlisted man fighting with MACVSOG decimating the Viet Cong along the Ho Chi Min trail? He is the man who brought about the idea of the Enlisted FAC! In fact the Commanding General of the 7th Air Force was so upset about TSgt. Jones that he ORDERED him pulled off of the duty and an officer to take his place... However, from that came Combat Control Teams and Tactical Air Control Parties who have called in the bulk of the airstrikes since.

Without planes and pilots the Air Force would not be, without the ground support those planes could not fly, but without the brave warriors who fight with the Army, those planes wouldn't be effective on the modern battlefield.

You are correct, the Big Blue Air Force bureaucracy is obsessed with honoring they're office space and progress. They lobby to change the name of Services Squadron to Force Support Squadron to feel better, and to feel like they are "Warriors" while at the same time telling TACPs that they need to wear crappy Barracks Utility Uniforms that were designed for Air Base work (when we used to wear the Army's ACUs because thats who we work with). To top it off, they do a typical piece of public art that is abstract (like some of the crap at the Air Force Academy) instead of a real memorial showing real Airman at work. Instead the only Airman shown are the Honor Guard in bronze.

The memorial should have the elements like the F-51 pilot talking with a crew chief with mechanics in the background patching the bullet holes. It should have an ECP with SP's standing guard. It should have a jeep with radios and a T-6 Texan flying low over it. Heck, make part of the scene an office with an Airman manning a computer, and the other part of it the interior of missile silo; and it should be where the public and come visit every day. Hell, it shouldn't even be in Washington DC if they don't have the room for it!

Wed Jan 07, 03:35:00 PM 2009  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am designing the forthcoming Bomber Command Memorial in London and am very interested in this blog and what people think of this memorial in DC.
Personally as a UK citizen, I love DC and I adore the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, these are real inspirations for me and I do not believe that that this confident modern classicism will ever go out of fashion and will therefore continue to be hugely symbolic to future generations.
Liam O'Connor, architect, UK

Sun Sep 27, 01:46:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Tantor said...

Liam,

I'm with you on the Jefferson & Lincoln Memorials, but most of official DC looks too Heavy Wedding Cake to me. While we should acknowledge the classic roots of America, I am very fond of the Indian Museum on the Mall which evokes the natural landscape of America. We could use some more of that.

On the lawn of the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio stands a recreation of the standard headquarters building for the 8th Air Force in WWII England, the kind the movies show guys hanging out at, waiting for the bombers to return. Perhaps the Bomber Command had the same thing. These buildings are small enough to be downsized slightly to be rendered in sculpture, perhaps showing the various people inside performing their various functions.

Perhaps out front you could place a bomber with the crew standing off to the side getting a preflight brief from the aircraft commander while all the maintenance crew perform their functions on the aircraft. Fuelers could be filling the jet, armorers loading the guns and bombs, etc. It's important to include as many as possible to show the team effort necessary. You might need to compress the time to show all these efforts, most of which occur separately from each other.

And of course, bombers flying overhead, forming up behind the HQ. Whatever you do should be on a human scale and focused on humans exemplifying a set of virtues: patriotism, courage, etc. What point are you trying to communicate with the monument? The AF Memorial is all disconnected ornament that says nothing.

Some other requirements should be that there is a place for people to place their tributes to their friends and family who perished in the war. The Vietnam Memorial collects a lot of those. You should also make sure that the memorial is picturesque, ie that you provide a spot where people can take a good photo of it. Disneyland does a good job of that, placing signs with example photos taken at the spot. The AF Memorial is very difficult to photograph because it is too grandiose. The Marine Memorial is very picturesque but it could be improved with the addition of a stand behind the parking lot so that you could get that perfect shot of the Marines, Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Monument.

The difference between monuments of old and the new is that the old were only meant to be seen in person. The new monuments should be designed to be viewed in person and through the camera frame.

It might also be a good thing to represent the people who died in Bomber Command. If you can't list all their names, then use some symbols to represent each hundred or thousand of them to give visitors a sense of the scope of the sacrifice. The WWII Memorial uses stars to represent each thousand.

Sun Sep 27, 02:43:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was mildly interested in your rant until you divided the USAF in to "blue vs. green". By your warped definition I was in the "blue" USAF. Yet I wrote, tested, and integrated software for the AWACS weapons system. I served deployments. I have my SWASM and my LKM(K).

Where would your "green" USAF be without your "blue" USAF? Walking to combat because the jet wasn't maintained, the runway wasn't paved, the pay wasn't deposited in the credit union, etc. You only reveal your distance from the CURRENT force by making such a distinction.

I wore green from Operation Desert Shield through my retirement in 1998. For my final 30 months in the Regular USAF I was the only Airmen in a joint unit with Marines and Soldiers. You probably cannot grasp that concept.

You are a fossil. The US Air Force is one entity and it is a vital teammate with all our sister services. Jerks like you should go to your nursing home and let the CURRENT US Air Force move on with the many tasks that are beyond your imagination as you continue to "live" in the "good old days".

Wed Jun 02, 12:31:00 AM 2010  
Blogger pdxholes2use666 said...

Personally, it's not one of my favorites as I love the federal archetecture and more so gothic but i don't see anyone willing to fund a big gothic sturcture these days. Anyhow, the only REQUIREMENT of aesthetics is that the work evoke thought or emotion. And the AFM does that. I wish people would appreciate the memorial for what it is..A MEMORIAL. Remember the brave souls who have served our nation and her people and defended her constitution. Who gives a rat's ass if it's pretty

Fri Dec 17, 10:09:00 PM 2010  
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Mon Sep 29, 02:03:00 AM 2014  

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