It’s been a rough couple of years for the U.S. Air Force. The flying branch has squandered billions of dollars on gold-plated aircraft and other weapons it doesn’t need. It has mishandled nuclear weapons. Airmen in the nuclear force have been caught cheating on exams. And then there are the numerous sex scandals.
At the same time, the Air Force has struggled to remain relevant during the course of two land-centric wars. The Air Force sends strategic bombers to drop bombs on small bands of insurgents. In nearly 13 years of continuous warfare, the flying branch’s most advanced fighter, the F-22, hasn’t flown a single combat mission.
The air service is also unnecessarily bureaucratic, resistant to systemic change and is the most parochial of the armed services. But there’s an even bigger problem—one that calls into question whether the Air Force should exist at all.
This is the focus of the new book by University of Kentucky professor Robert Farley. In Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force, Farley argues that the Air Force is redundant. And, he claims, its existence actually hurts American national security.
Now, Farley doesn’t suggest getting rid of air power. Instead, he recommends the Pentagon dismantle the Air Force and hand its missions and aircraft over to the Army and Navy. All the same, it’s a shocking proposal–one that argues for a profound shakeup in the way America wages war.
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