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Last Updated: Mon Jan 27 11:18:09 UTC 2014

JSF, F-22, C-17 and the Hon Robert Gates: “Next war-itis” – Yet another dose of ‘alternate reality’

Air Power Australia - Australia's Independent Defence Think Tank

Air Power Australia NOTAM

   17th April, 2009

Peter Goon, BEng (Mech), FTE (USNTPS),
Head of Test and Evaluation, Air Power Australia

Contacts: Peter Goon
Carlo Kopp

Mob: 0419-806-476 Mob: 0437-478-224

The C-17 airlifter is to be killed off in the 2010 budget proposed by the Hon Robert Gates, SecDef (US DoD image).

The C-17 airlifter has been used to great effect in two of the theatres of the ‘global war on terrorism’, in Iraq and Afghanistan; yet, according to the Hon Robert Gates, this magnificent machine with its superior capability and enormous capacity to support troops around the globe is to suffer the same fate as the F-22A Raptor.

When I wore the uniform of the Royal Australian Air Force, our leadership told us that our job was to be so capable and so well prepared that others wouldn’t even think about taking us on, or deny us the ability, let alone the right, to protect our Nation's interests. This is one of the simple and, until recently, well understood ways that peace loving nations ensured the maintenance and sustainment of that peace.  In the world of the strategic analyst, it is known as the deterrent strategy.  To most of us, it simply means following the common sense adage so well articulated by Theodore Roosevelt: “speak softly and carry a big stick....”

In my time in uniform and since, some of the most ardent and dedicated pacifists I have known wore the uniform of their nation’s defence forces for they truly believed and demonstrated their belief through their career choices in following the cause for peace through that other adage of “If you want peace, prepare for war” (Vegetius, 390 AD).

However, in this age of marketing spin and sophistry, this noble cause which many have committed their lives to uphold has been slandered with a new name to create yet another ‘alternate reality’ to justify an agenda which, in itself, is the antithesis of the national interest which this noble cause represents. 

No better example of this agenda can be seen in the ‘must not be allowed to fail’ promotion of the very risky, very expensive, yet to be proven JSF F-35A aircraft program over the far more capable, far more cost effective, far less risky F-22A Raptor.

The term – “next war-itis” – is yet another example of what Emeritus Professor Harry G Frankfurt defined as “a total indifference to what is real”.

Now some may say these comments are ‘a tad emotive’ and should be re-struck in the form of a politically correct plea devoid of any passion that recognises the status, sensibilities and intelligence of those who have coined the term “next war-itis”.  To remain true to my beliefs, this I cannot do, since to do so would be denying the passion this matter rightfully demands.  It would also be showing a total indifference to the fact that the term “next war-itis” is an insult to all who wear or have worn the military uniforms of peace loving nations.

An apology would be a good start from those responsible for this wrong.

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