I keep rubbing my eyes and jabbing at my forearm with the point of a safety pin, and yet I keep seeing the secretary and the chief of staff of the Air Force saying a mournful public goodbye to the F-22:
Make no mistake: Air dominance remains an essential capability for joint warfighting. The F-22 is a vital tool in the military’s arsenal and will remain in our inventory for decades to come. But the time has come to move on.
That’s via Noah Shachtman. That excerpt is typical of the tone of this entire op-ed: regretful, rather than enthusiastic, about Defense Secretary Bob Gates’ decision to get rid of the plane, but ultimately acquiescent to the decision. When Congress is back in session next week and debate begins in earnest on the Hill over Gates’ budget, the question will be whether defenders of the plane and the Air Force emphasize the regretful tone or the ultimate acquiescence. On the one hand, the Air Force can’t be expected to abandon the plane so abruptly after arguing for its importance for years and be believed. But on the other, the discrepancy between the op-ed’s tone and Gates’ statement that “it was not a close call” to cut the plane is pretty striking.
Gates has said that he wouldn’t tolerate “guerrilla warfare” from the services on the Hill to restore the programs that he’s cut. You could read this op-ed in two contradictory ways, really — either as the Air Force throwing in the towel on the F-22 fight, or as ultimately calling in for Hill-based reinforcements to save the plane. So is the F-22 fight about to end or intensify?
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