Austere Air Ops

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Unread post04 Sep 2012, 02:20

So I was thinking about the Chinese again, being obsessed with them as they are with us. Which is good you know, because if you don't passionately hate your enemy, then you might as well not have one.

The point is that I was looking on ol' Google Earth at Taiwan and thinking things over. And something which never fails to raise questions and possibilities is the presence of nearby Ishikagi Islands and Miyakojima Island, both sovereign Japanese territory, only 150 miles from Taipei. What's interesting about these two islands is that they are geographically placed in a golden position, sitting aft of Taiwan and to the side, partially shielded from mainland China and Taiwan proper, about halfway from Okinawa to Taiwan. The perfect position from which to launch support operations or serve as an emergency divergence location.

Now, apart from a few civilian airports on both Islands, the newer of which appear to have been designed with dual purpose use in mind, given multiple taxiways and very large parking ramps and aprons, along with fuel tanks and the like. It's very likely that these locations will be targeted in the first wave, which is not necessarily a bad thing, because it instantly bring Japan into the fight on the coalition's side.

The US model for 'real world operations' (see shooting war) in the Pacific, where established bases are either far between each other or clustered in Northeast Asia, is to disperse to 'familiar' airfields and airports which are capable of handling operations and hosting US military assets. The only real historical example we have of this in practice, with little warning time, is the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the US scrambling of jets to Saudi Arabia. In fact, European based F-15s were some of the very first assets in country once Saddam crossed south, arriving only hours later. We all know how this story ended, Saddam was hesitant and did not continue on through Saudi Arabia, instead he left it untouched and the US was able to slowly amass an army which eventually crushed Iraq.

But there are several dilemmas with this example, Saudi Arabia had established facilities, world class even, and more importantly, was not under attack at the time. This was the mistake the Iraqis made. China, having woken up from the Gulf War, has studied that conflict almost religiously. I doubt they would make the same mistake, in focusing on Taiwan and leaving other crucial areas in the region untouched. It's just not possible.

So, my question is, how difficult would it be for US airmen to all of sudden operate from facilities which they are not accustomed to, and which might be under attack at the time, and which might not even have all of the equipment and additions necessary for our forces? It's one of the big questions because for all of their privileges and advantages, large, multi-purpose bases just make a nice, fixed in the ground bulls-eye. But for the life of me, I can't imagine operating handfuls of assets out of legions of austere locations in an ad hock manner and under duress being anything but complex and potentially disastrous.

I honestly think it's more fantasy than reality, on of those hypotheticals to complicate enemy planning and to give a sense of uncertainty. But I could be wrong.
"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

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