A Seminar on Combat Effectiveness, Addressing the Sequester, and Acquisition Reform

Close Air Support training ~ An A-10 Thunderbolt II with the U.S. Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., drops an AGM-65 Maverick missile during a close air support training mission Sept. 23, 2011, over the Nevada Test and Training Range. U.S. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Brett Clashman)

Will U.S. Troops Get The Help They Need?

A Seminar on Supporting US Ground Forces in Combat,

Fighting Effectively in Future Wars, and

Acquiring Effective Hardware at Affordable Prices

Sponsored by

the Straus Military Reform Project and

the Project On Government Oversight

Time: Friday, November 22, 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM

Location: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Root Room, 1779 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington DC

Please RSVP to [email protected]. Seating may be limited.

The seminar will be “on the record.”

9:30 – 10:30: Close Air Support: How Important Is This Mission? What It Takes to Do it?

Moderator: Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight. 30 minute presentation by combat aviation designer Pierre M. Sprey, followed by a “Skeptical Push Back” question from aviation journalist William Sweetman, Senior International Defense Editor at Aviation Week & Space Technology, asking about aviation technology and its combat application, followed by general discussion with the audience.

10:30 - 10-45: Break

10:45 - 11:45: Close Support, Maneuver, Combined Arms and Winning the Ground Battle.

Moderator Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight, 30 minute presentation by former DOD Director for Air Warfare Charles E. (Chuck) Myers, followed by “Skeptical Push Back” from former DASD and Col. Mark Gunzinger (USAF) of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments asking about the relative importance of tactical versus strategic bombing, followed by general discussion with the audience.

12:00 – 12:45: Break for lunch – Provided.

12:45 – 2:15: Combat Insights from the Troops on the Ground and the Pilots in the Air.

Part 1, 45 Minutes: Moderator: Lt. Col. Greg Wilcox, USA, ret. One or more ground combat unit leaders will describe their recent combat experience receiving close air support from various platforms, including drones, high speed-high altitude fighters and bombers and A-10s. Each will briefly discuss what helped most; what didn’t—and what made the difference. Questions/Discussion from audience.

Part 2, 45 minutes: Moderator: John Tillson, Vietnam Veteran (armored cavalry), Pentagon Insider. Two A-10 pilots with multiple deployments to Afghanistan and/or Iraq will address their combat experiences: what worked and what didn’t; what characteristics an effective close air support platform should have—and what aspects of the plane are most essential. Questions/Discussion from audience.

2:15 – 2:30 Break

2:30 – 3:30: Lessons Learned from Today and History: Keeping the A-10 in the DOD Inventory. What Would Be a Real Improvement?

Moderator: Winslow Wheeler, Director Straus Military Reform Project, A short presentation by Dr. Jonathan Shay on the essential inter-personal connections between the troops on the ground and the pilots in the air. Followed by a joint presentation by former DOD Director of Operational Test & Evaluation Thomas Christie, Pierre Sprey and Chuck Myers and discussion with the audience.

3:30 and Beyond: General discussion between interested audience members and seminar presenters on the day’s findings and follow-up actions.

Chuck Spinney forcefully addressed many of the issues that will be discussed and debated at the seminar in a piece in Small Wars Journal.

See the bios of the major participants here, and a suggested reading list of historical and analytical sources here.