Tuesday, April 17, 2007

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From the Conservative Propaganda post Why the Air Force Memorial sucks.
The Air Force is culturally divided into two camps: The Blue Air Force and The Green Air Force. The Blue Air Force wears the blue uniform to work while the Green Air Force wears fatigues and flight suits. The Blues do essential tasks like stock the warehouses, maintain the motor pool, and push piles of paperwork around base. The Greens take wing in chariots of fire like sky gods. The Greens are shooters, the Blues shoe clerks. The Blues are preoccupied with trivia like stopping people from whizzing in the woods outside the Officer’s Club after Happy Hour and making sure your ribbons are in the right order on your official photo. The Greens are preoccupied with putting bombs on target.

There is a clash of cultures within the Air Force, where the Blues impose their spit-shined, regulation-happy, utopian culture on the Green’s realist, pragmatic, quick and dirty combat rules culture. The Air Force Memorial is a monument to the Blue Air Force. I’m surprised they don’t have a bronze statue of a clerk at his desk typing a form in triplicate. That’s what it’s all about for the Blues.

I propose an alternate Green Air Force Memorial be placed in the National Mall, hidden in the woods near the WWII Memorial, out of sight of the damned bureaucrats. It would be completely accessible to the public, night or day, just like the other memorials, not like the current Blue Air Force Memorial, which is wedged between the Pentagon and Fort Myer, unapproachable by civilian tourists except on special occasions. I’d like to see a big, bronze P-51 Mustang fighter, the prettiest plane ever made, with the pilot standing next to it, discussing the maintenance forms with his crew chief. A guy from life support is holding a parachute, another guy is fueling the aircraft, and the armorer is laying .50 calibre bullets into the wing guns. That would show the tip of the teamwork needed to launch a fighter.

What little kid gets excited about abstract art? How proud are veterans when they see it? This memorial does them ill. As Tantor points out, it falls far short of the other memorials in DC. We need something that embodies, as he says, those who "take wing in chariots of fire like sky gods." That gets me pumped, and proud.

Tantor's description is about as acurate as it gets when describing the AF. The comments are interesting also, especially those by the AF OSI agent. There are definaly a lot of hard working AF personnel out there, but I think most of them do not know the work anyone involved in flight operations puts day in, day out. I have met a few that did not know the aircraft that flew on their own base. I usually go home when I have to, when my mandatory crew rest starts, after a 12+ hour day. My day does not break for lunch, I do not get time during the work day to go to the gym. The non-fliers on base cannot say the same, and they wonder why pilots are angry when they show up somewhere that is closed for training in the middle of the day. By the same token, I get to fly for all my hard work. I'm not so sure I would be as dedicated if I had to deal with angry people all day who complained when my office was closed.

More from John at OPFOR. He agrees.
And that post, right there, effectively sums up why I love the Air Force just as much as I hate the Air Force. The blue Air Force is contrary to everything that I learned at VMI. At the Institute, it was adapt, overcome, think outside the box, find solutions, not excuses. Rules and regs are handy, but the mark of a true military man is his ability to quickly evaluate mission necessity vs. military regulation, make a command decision, and live up to the responsibility of that decision for better or worse. That's the stuff leaders are made of.

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9 Comments:

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous John said...

yah, tantor wrote a great post. I do wonder how much of that BS you have to put up with....I mean, flying world and all...but it is AETC.

 
At 8:49 PM, Blogger Greybeard said...

Our ARMY Reserve Huey Unit was based at an Air Force Base. I swear, the AF truly seems to have a regulation for everything... stultifying!

For example, I know there has to be a reg., and perhaps you can enlighten me:
In the Air Force, after using the toilet, are you supposed to wipe from front to rear, or rear to front?

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger Tantor said...

Thanks for citing my post. I appreciate the kind words.

As for the flight regulations, it seems to me that every one of them was written in blood. The non-flight regulations, not so much.

 
At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shipmate,

Lex pointed me over here. Great post, and nice blog.

I understand completely. I flew out of Lajes many times, and it always seems like at least 1/3 of those stationed there were Air Police. The remaining were clerk-typist of one sort or another, and always in the blue suit. Anytime you needed something, there was a sort of "here, take a number and have a seat" attitude.

The worst part was when a newly-minted BG took over the field. When he found out that the Navy P-3 Orions (which i flew on) were capable of carrying Nukes and always had one bird on alert, he had visions of SAC, and suddenlt there were yellow lines painted around our a/c, Air Police with M-16's and dogs, you had to have permission to go out and work on your own plane (and ALWAYS IN PAIRS!) etc. Life became quite miserable for a time....

Still and all, they had pretty good food, and amazing NCO clubs.

Respects,
AW1 Tim

 
At 8:40 AM, Blogger Buck Pennington said...

Interesting post! I'm in general agreement when it comes to AF bureaucracy, but there's too much of that everywhere you look.

A story: the last thing my father (a retired AFOSI agent) said to me before I got on the plane to go to Lackland in the wayback was "Stay away from airplanes." And so I did, for my entire 22-year career. One of my adult sons is an AF maintenance officer (most lately F-16s), and after observing his hours and working conditions "up close and personal" I understand the tongue-in-cheek wisdom of my father's remark.

And Tim... we DO have the best watering holes in the military. Or at least we used to...

 
At 10:43 AM, Blogger Ron said...

The biggest threat these days to a USAF pilots career, is not enemy action, but action from others in the AF.

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger david said...

Come on, lighten up -- us "blue-suiters" know damn well that we wouldn't exist without the flyers -- but by the same token, the flyers wouldn't be able to do their job without all of the support folks (maint, CE, medical, cops, MPF, the whole thing). Yes, there are indeed too many layers of bureaucracy and paperwork in our system (entire DoD), but you know what: it works! Not always the most efficient, but damned effective.

We support folks LOVE what you flyers do and have the utmost respect for your skills, bravery, and dedication...but please don't sneer at us for trying to keep things working down here on the ground!

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger Sam said...

My father (Buck) posted above and I can confirm, as a Naval Officer, that the AF does have the best watering holes overall... but there are few clubs that can hold a candle to the O-club at Newport, Rhode Island.

Another comment/question about the green Air Force... why do so many people that don't fly airplanes get to wear the flight suit? I hear that the AF has guys/gals wearing flight suits that have never been on a plane or near one for that matter. Just curious.

 
At 9:18 AM, Blogger Ernie said...

I spent 21 years in the green side, fixing the avionics, and every other job that could be done to a jet; but now I'm on the other side as a contractor for a blue-side squadron. These guys have no concept of what it takes to fly and fight.

 

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