McPeak vs Earthman

Have we entered a new way of war in which air power isn’t as important? That this is America’s asymmetric challenge and air power isn’t as wanted?

If so, how do we overcome that? How do we get past that, the fact that our adversaries have figured out how we fight?

Merrill McPeak: Well, it’s not so much that the adversaries figured out how we fight.

That’s dead easy. Everybody can see it. I mean, we don’t make any mystery of it.

What we’ve done is taken the risk out of the kind of operations that we do now with officers.

I mean, we’ve got stealth airplanes. So I’m sitting in a stealth airplane and I’m on super-cruise. In the F-22, you’re cruising at 1.7 to 1.8 (mach) in a stealthy machine.

Who’s going to touch you?

I mean, I never felt vulnerable when I was flying an airplane. Period. Not against any kind of earthman.

Got a lot out of this looooong interview with former Air Force chief of staff and Ken Burns & Lynn Novick’s Vietnam War star Merrill McPeak in the San Diego Union Tribune, (ht Tom Ricks of course).

McPeak on Boyd, whom we have discussed:

So they got the argument a little bit wrong. But then along comes Boyd with the OODA Loop and some philosophy kind of concepts and people said, ‘Wow, a fighter pilot with a brain!’

They tended to listen to him when in many respects he was a failed officer and even a failed human being in some ways.

Carl Prine: There’s an entire cottage industry built around him now.

Merrill McPeak: I was at Nellis the night he jumped out of an F-100. I was a student there and he was an instructor in the Weapons School. He had a bet that he could get anybody from his 6 o’clock to his 12 o’clock in 40 seconds, or whatever it was.

He tried his special little trick and the airplane quit on him. It overstretched the hydraulic system, the plumbing, the flight controls, and the airplane went crazy and he had to jump out.

Here he is coming back to Nellis and they went out to pick him up in a chopper. And he’s dragging his parachute back to Nellis. He didn’t look so good that night.

The general likes Mozart:

Carl Prine: I had this image of you, as a general, appreciating the grand, comprehensive, overwhelming symphony and yet you prefer the smaller pieces? The elegant and tiny works?

Merrill McPeak: Well, you know the big G minor symphony? Ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta. That’s the famous one, the 40. It’s in there with Jupiter and the later symphonies.

But Symphony 25 has that crystal clear quality to it. If it were a stream, you could look clear through it to the bottom.

There’s something magical about it.



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