Academic journal article Military Review

Letters

Academic journal article Military Review

Letters

Article excerpt

Close Air Support

As an Air Force officer, I enjoyed David M. Keithly's article, "Revamping Close Air Support" in the March-April 2000 issue of Military Review. I agree with many of his criticisms of the US Air Force's stand on close air support (CAS). However, he left out the opinions of AC-130 Spectre Gunship leaders, who do not think the way others do. Having over 2,500 hours in AC-130 H and U model gunships as navigator and fire control officer and having flown combat in the Operation Desert Storm, Somalia and Bosnia, I am, of course, biased. But, I think that Spectre is the best CAS platform in the Department of Defense inventory.

Although the Spectre's primary mission is CAS for special operations forces (SOF), it has been brought repeatedly into the conventional role. While the Air Force may not want the CAS mission, it proudly supports US soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines wherever they are.

Accordingly, every AC-130 training sortie consists of a CAS "troops in contact" (TIC) mission. As an instructor training with simulated ground parties, I tricked my students into shooting the friendlies' position. Although the students would become irate, they definitely felt the sinking feeling in their guts. Good thing, too. It is better for them to make such grave errors during dry-fire training than in real life.

Our working environment is further limited by the threat-we are still a big C-130-but we constantly train to go into harsh, hot areas. …

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