And I don't mean it disrespectfully, but American operational experience in any war the US fought since Vietnam is absolutely worthless in application to real war in the so called "peer-to-peer" environment. Some tactical tricks are for the consumption and discussion of armchair generals from mommy's basement during school breaks. But that truism, evidently, is not known to Mr. Kelley.
A group of senators from both parties is pressing the Pentagon for more information on what it would take to send F-16 jets to Ukraine. The fresh push came in a letter Tuesday to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin from eight senators, and obtained by POLITICO, as top administration officials from President Joe Biden on down have poured cold water on bipartisan calls to send U.S.-made fighters into the fight for now. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is “now at a critical juncture,” the senators wrote, arguing F-16 fighters could give Kyiv an edge as Moscow’s full-tilt invasion enters a second year. “After speaking with U.S., Ukrainian, and foreign leaders working to support Ukraine at the Munich Security Conference last month, we believe the U.S. needs to take a hard look at providing F-16 aircraft to Ukraine,” the senators wrote. “This would be a significant capability that could prove to be a game changer on the battlefield.” The letter was organized by Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).
Senator Mark Kelly was a great astronaut and I deeply respect him for his career in NASA, and for his aeronautical engineering degree, but this line in his C.V. doesn't make him an authority of the REAL air combat:
In other words, he flew missions against the enemy with NO functional air defense, air force and command and control. I spoke in depth about debilitating influence of a "victory" of the US Armed Forces against utterly incompetent and, in some areas, utterly defenseless enemy in Desert Storm. For those who want again to refer to proper description of this turkey shoot, here is CSIS's analysis of that campaign.
Anthony H. Cordesman's book, The Gulf War, was published in October 1994, and was the first comprehensive analysis of the strategic and military lessons of the Gulf War. Unlike previous studies, which concentrated primarily on the diplomatic and policy decisions affecting the war, or decisions at the high command level, Cordesman provides a detailed analysis of all of the military trends and actions that occurred during Desert Shield, a net assessment comparing Iraqi and each of the major Coalition military forces, and a detailed analysis of the history and lessons of each phase of Desert Storm.
Kelly, never flew in his life against the best Air Defense in the world and against one of the best Air Forces in the world. In fact, he has zero understanding of it, which is true for most US military professionals who grew out of the beating defenseless kids in the sand box of the Middle East and because of it thinking that they know the war. He is a classic representative of this very environment of the US warmongers and neocons who due to their ignorance counted on Russia collapsing in a few months since the start of SMO. But then again, Kelly never attended any kind of schooling related to Operations and Planning. So, it is only natural for him, and his ilk, to think that F-16 in any numbers could be "a game changer".
As Larry once stated in 2018 and I quoted him in my first book:
Any air defense engineer with a security clearance that isn't lying through his teeth will admit that Russia's air defense technology surpassed us in the 1950's and we've never been able to catch up. The systems thy have in place surrounding Moscow make our Patriot 3's look like fucking nerf guns. All of the knowledgeable aircraft commanders are usually scared shitless about the prospect of a legitimate air-to-air skirmish with a SU-30 or any Russian air superiority fighter.
I omit, of course, here anecdotal but very reliable evidence of Russian SU-35s literally toying with US F-22s in Syria. Senator Kelly, evidently, for all his impressive C.V., lacks basic understanding of the SEAD and its requirements to deal with Russia's VKS, not to speak of the issues which the US military didn't encounter ever--that is having its operational depth, including its airfields being mauled by stand-off high precision weaponry against which US simply has no effective means of defense. Hey, he flew Shuttles and didn't have time to study war. But behind that one can easily see a desperation from complex of inferiority in the field where the United States, while losing its wars even against weak enemies, managed to convince itself that it has "the finest fighting force in history". It is difficult to part with this delusion and Kelly articulates this pain in the open. He should have asked SACEUR General Cavoli.
But Kelly is not alone, here is another RAND creature (combat veteran, adviser and "model major general") whose military exploits, again, are not applicable operationally and strategically to modern warfare. Yet, the guy writes on the subject he has no clue about:
One does not easily imagine Russian President Vladimir Putin and his generals poring over maps or conferring with his cabinet, gazing at PowerPoints, weighing various options. Surrounded by servile opportunists who depend on his approval, one suspects that Putin may hold his immediate circle in outright contempt. These are, after all, his minions—mere messenger boys talking taxidermy. At home, Putin faces no elections, no party or state institutions that threaten his rule, no domestic political opposition. He is Russia. And Russia is his—so long as he projects strength. Avoiding defeat is his paramount objective. According to his foreign minister, Putin takes his counsel from Ivan the Terrible: He fires generals, jails dissidents at home, poisons those abroad. Measuring by his years in power, Western leaders are mere novices. He faces his third president of China, his fourth president of France, his fifth U.S. president, and his seventh prime minister of the United Kingdom. Longevity doesn't make one smarter, but, as the Russian saying goes, Putin “has seen the parade quite a few times.”
I am Russian, and with professional military pedigree but I never heard in my 60 years this "Russian saying" about parade. But then again, and I am beginning to speak openly about it--we ARE facing the issue of professional military incompetence on the American side. SMO exposed it dramatically and the way US Military-Industrial-Media complex shrieks and lies, while being consistently wrong on any Russian and warfare matter, is the best proof of a lost, largely self-proclaimed, military superiority. Hence hysteria about MQ9 Reaper. It is a fodder for US media bottom feeders, but reality is very simple--Russia will start dealing with ISR assets in a much more strict way and that was the message. I think the next step will be killing one or two commercial satellites the US uses to spy on SMO. Russia has all means to disable what she sees as a threat and issued warning officially on a number of occasions.
But in the end, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is the fact that Russian General Staff is older than the United States as a nation, and that Russian military history dwarfs, in scale and quality of enemies, anything the US ever fought, with the exception of the primarily naval Pacific War, in its history, not to mention the fact that US lost all of its modern wars. One has to have a good credit history to get a loan and the US is sorely lacking in this department. The US simply stopped, long time ago, being this "American observer" of which Alexandr Svechin wrote in his Strategy and became exactly what he warned about--a third rate student who doesn't do his homework.
A particular strategic policy must be devised for every war; each war is a special case, which requires its own particular logic rather than any kind of stereotype or pattern, no matter how splendid it may be. The more our theory encompasses the entire content of modern war, the quicker it will assist us in analyzing a given situation. A narrow doctrine would probably confuse us more than guide us. And we must not forget that only maneuvers are one-sided, while wars are always two-sided. We must be able to get a grasp of war as it is perceived by the opposing side and clarify the other side's desires and goals. Theory is capable of benefitting only those who have raised themselves above the fray and have become completely dispassionate; we have chosen this path, despite the dissatisfaction with which several of our young critics have encountered the excess of objectivity, "the posture of an American observer," in military questions.
Hey, I am on record--find better professionals who understand the real war of the 21st century and what it entails, and why the United States cannot and must not fight it because it will lose catastrophically.