As everyone knows, leftists hate America’s military. Recently, a prominent left-wing media figure attacked Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declaring, “He’s not just a pig, he’s stupid.”
Oh, wait. That was no leftist, that was Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. What set Carlson off was testimony in which Milley told a congressional hearing that he considered it important “for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and widely read.”
The problem is obvious. Closed-mindedness and ignorance have become core conservative values, and those who reject these values are the enemy, no matter what they may have done to serve the country.
The Milley hearing was part of the orchestrated furor over “critical race theory,” which has dominated right-wing media for the past few months, getting close to 2,000 mentions on Fox so far this year. One often sees assertions that those attacking critical race theory have no idea what it’s about, but I disagree; they understand that it has something to do with assertions that America has a history of racism and of policies that explicitly or implicitly widened racial disparities.
And such assertions are unmistakably true. The Tulsa race massacre really happened, and it was only one of many such incidents. The 1938 underwriting manual for the Federal Housing Administration really did declare that “incompatible racial groups should not be permitted to live in the same communities.”
We can argue about the relevance of this history to current policy, but who would argue against acknowledging simple facts?
The modern right, that’s who. The current obsession with critical race theory is a cynical attempt to change the subject away from the Biden administration’s highly popular policy initiatives, while pandering to the white rage that Republicans deny exists. But it’s only one of multiple subjects on which willful ignorance has become a litmus test for anyone hoping to succeed in Republican politics.
Thus, to be a Republican in good standing one must deny the reality of man-made climate change, or at least oppose any meaningful action to limit greenhouse gas emissions. One must reject or at least express skepticism about the theory of evolution. And don’t even get me started on things like the efficacy of tax cuts.
What underlies this cross-disciplinary commitment to ignorance? On each subject, refusing to acknowledge reality serves special interests. Climate denial caters to the fossil fuel industry; evolution denial caters to religious fundamentalists; tax-cut mysticism caters to billionaire donors.
But there’s also, I’d argue, a spillover effect: Accepting evidence and logic is a sort of universal value, and you can’t take it away in one area of inquiry without degrading it across the board. That is, you can’t declare that honesty about America’s racial history is unacceptable and expect to maintain intellectual standards everywhere else. In the modern right-wing universe of ideas, everything is political; there are no safe subjects.
This politicization of everything inevitably creates huge tension between conservatives and institutions that try to respect reality.
There have been many studies documenting the strong Democratic lean of college professors, which is often treated as prima facie evidence of political bias in hiring. A new law in Florida requires that each state university conduct an annual survey “which considers the extent to which competing ideas and perspectives are presented,” which doesn’t specifically mandate the hiring of more Republicans but clearly gestures in that direction.
An obvious counterargument to claims of biased hiring is self-selection: How many conservatives choose to pursue careers in, say, sociology? Is hiring bias the reason police officers seem to have disproportionately supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election, or is this simply a reflection of the kind of people who choose careers in law enforcement?
But beyond that, the modern G.O.P. is no home for people who believe in objectivity. One striking feature of surveys of academic partisanship is the overwhelming Democratic lean in hard sciences like biology and chemistry; but is that really hard to understand when Republicans reject science on so many fronts?
One recent study marvels that even finance departments are mainly Democratic. Indeed, you might expect finance professors, some of whom do lucrative consulting for Wall Street, to be pretty conservative. But even they are repelled by a party committed to zombie economics.
Which brings me back to General Milley. The U.S. military has traditionally leaned Republican, but the modern officer corps is highly educated, open-minded and, dare I say it, even a bit intellectual — because those are attributes that help win wars.
Unfortunately, they are also attributes the modern G.O.P. finds intolerable.
So something like the attack on Milley was inevitable. Right-wingers have gone all in on ignorance, so they were bound to come into conflict with every institution — including the U.S. military — that is trying to cultivate knowledge.
I didn’t serve in the military, I was in the Air Force. A joke from back then because the Air Force only had a 6 week basic training course and the hardest thing we had to do was fold our T-shirts in 6″ squares. Then active duty was incredibly comfortable. We had air conditioned tents and better meals in the desert deployments.
My service wasn’t as bad as I imagine it could be, especially given what it’s like now. I graduated high school early(15) and joined the AF when I was 16, in 1997. I didn’t even do high school, so I was still very young, especially emotionally. socially and worldly. A normal high school experience probably would have changed this drastically, looking back.
But, I went in as an Eagle Scout, so I got a stripe automatically, and I ended up being a leader through training. Basic was easy because my Training Instructor assigned me laundry, so I made everyone’s life easier by doing laundry everyday. We only had to fold our T-shirts in 6″ squares once and left our drawers alone the rest of the time. Doing laundry everyday also inadvertently got me out of a lot of marching practice.
I have to skip ahead, past even a few operations, like Kosovo, because they had no impact on me, to when 9/11 happened. Aside from exercises that my base had to do, because in war, we would have been the first hit by nuclear missiles, it was a really easy job. NORI, Nuclear Operational Readiness Inspection. If I was a higher rank, those would have been easy too.
But then 9/11 happened. “Terrorists” attacked our country and we invaded Afghanistan for no reason at all. This is where the problem occurs. You can’t lie to us, you can only hope we’ll, INTJs, be ignorant. But we’re not.
Given that we’re in, I don’t know at this point officially, 7–9 wars, for no reason at all, any INTJ will have a hard time processing that. There is no proof other than “we said so”. That’s not good enough. There’s plenty of evidence that most of the wars we’re in are a waste of time and have no win conditions, other than securing oil in the middle east, which just seems more ridiculous when you consider global warming and the contribution fossil fuels play.
The U.S. military is the Department of Offense. It hasn’t played defense in it’s entire existence. The two times we were attacked, it was completely useless(Pearl Harbor and 9/11). You have to ignore a lot of moral objections to be an INTJ in the military, especially today.
I had an easy job on an easy base. I scheduled training sorties for the B-2 bombers. Four a day at most. I cannot express to you how easy I had it that I can even say I wasn’t completely miserable.
I think most INTJs in the military can’t stand it, but they are thinking about their/the future to get through it. It’s awful. It makes me wonder why other types don’t have the same morals, even though they claim to get the from a higher place.
Killing people is a horrible thing to be associated with when they did nothing wrong.
I think this is relevant since it’s happened in the last few days and related to potential military action. Joe Biden, the guy who laughed in Paul Ryan’s face during a vice presidential debate about Iran having WMD’s, just incited the drums of war declaring that Iran will have enough nuclear material by the end of the year. Nothing relevant has changed.
Just speculation at this point, but war with Iran would mean WW3. Consider that before you consider joining the military. Also consider we’re only a month in and war is on their minds.
The wars in the middle east have nothing to do with terror or weapons, or maybe Israel wouldn’t be an undeclared nuclear state, it has everything to do with OIL. OPEC wants to build a pipeline across Iraq/Iran/Afghanistan and we’re now 20 years and three presidents displaced from when this project started.
If you’re an INTJ and you can square peg those round holes, good for you. Don’t know how any personality type could, but most don’t pay enough attention.
Once the F-22s are airborne, there isn’t anything in the PRC’s military arsenal that can touch them. The F-22 has no peer in air to air combat and F-22s flying from their air bases close to China can shut down any airspace they can cover with their range and munitions.
There’s talk about China’s development of the J-20 and J-31 and how they can go toe to toe with the F-22 but this is incorrect in my opinion: These aircraft were not designed to fight other stealth fighters like the F-22. They were built to use their stealth to engage support aircraft like AWACs, Air refuellers, Recon aircraft and non-stealth combat aircraft using their long range missiles and with their stealth being used to hide them from counter retaliation from F-22s and F-35s in the area as much as possible.
In effect, the J-20 and J-31 are stealth so they can operate in the same airspace as a hostile F-22 with their stealth as a protective measure from the F-22’s radar.
The Chinese media and public may offer up certain military capabilities to assure the nation that they have assets comparable to the F-22 for domestic political consumption, but the Chinese military understands well that there is nothing in their arsenal that can threaten an F-22 once it’s airborne. Any non-stealth assets they have will be shot down before they even get close and the stealth assets are too valuable to be thrown against F-22s, they are better used being preserved for missions against the support infrastructure that surrounds the F-22. With the understanding that the performance of the F-22 would degrade overall if too many support aircraft fall victim to long range missiles from PLAAF stealth fighters.
This doesn’t mean that the PRC has nothing in it’s arsenal to go against the F-22. What they do have is just not the PLAAF, it’s the PRC rocket force.
I have been writing about this subject a bit in the past, so I’ll quote from an older answer here:
However, the US lead in stealth has some major problems that should be addressed. The problem is the basing of these stealth fighters. The US has 6 major bases in Japan and 1 in Guam. The USAF does not use the 80–90 airbases that the Japanese air force uses, and this might be because of how the US wants to control access to it’s stealth fighters but also because it has to equip its bases with perform the complex maintenance that it’s stealth fighters require.
So in theory, there’s only 7 total major bases you can place your stealth fighters at where you can control access to them and also do the whole fancy maintenance they require like re-applying coating etc.
That is…not good, because it means the Chinese don’t have to worry about shooting down these stealth fighters. They just need to concentrate their ballistic missile bombardment on those 7 bases with stealth fighters to knock those bases out or at least interdict operations out of them.
The USAF has realized this problem and are trying to see if they can spread the fighters out a bit more to the 90 bases the Japanese operate but it’s still a work in progress.
There is one other thing: There’s something called the “German Disease” where you get trapped in the idea that as long as you make a VERY high quality platform, it’s gonna be worth 10 of the enemy’s platforms and that’s better than matching the enemy head to head. This is very seductive thinking for a wealthier, more technically advanced power. But it means you are fighting a war with platforms you aren’t willing to lose which is not a good proposition.
The F-22 is a bit of a German Disease for the USAF because there’s only like 170 of them left and they aren’t making any more of them. Each F-22 lost is a permanent loss for the USAF and if a war against China drags on and attrition becomes a factor, a lot of these very high quality assets that the USAF isn’t willing to lose will need to be pulled from the theater after a while once their losses reach 33% per squadron. Now, no one has ever fought the US in a conventional war since Vietnam and managed to drag it out.
But if that does happen, and the US is losing say 2 F-22s a day on average from ballistic missile strikes on bases, losses due to accidents, very rare occasions when an F-22 is show down by the Chinese, this kind of loss rate might start to hurt a month into the conflict. And the USAF would have to withdraw the F-22s at some point so they still have some left in reserve and put the 4.5+ Gens into the missions the F-22s were doing. Very rare a war would last that long with China and for that high a loss rate, but you never know. The F-22s would primarily suffer more from being forced away from their 7 bases in the first island chain and being forced to operate at their max ranges from second island chain bases, but the loss rate from conflict as well in a long war cant be ignored.
The US may be planning for a short war with China given their preference for Shock and Awe tactics using their overwhelming conventional strength, but as the old axiom goes: Those who plan for short wars tend to lose long ones.
The current concentration of F-22s (and possible F-35s) in seven major basis is not just a threat to the platforms themselves though but the pilots as well.
Recall that the Iranian bombardment of US military bases was done in a way that they deliberately avoided targeting areas where US troops were housed to avoid escalation but they still fired in the proximity of the base to send a message.
This bombardment led to major health issues in US troops stationed on those bases:
A total of 50 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injury from this month’s Iranian missile attack on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. troops, the Defense Department said Tuesday.
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can include concussions. Of the 50 patients, 31 were treated in Iraq and have returned to duty, Army Lt. Col. Thomas Campbell, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said in a statement.
F-22 pilots aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, and they are pretty much elite pilots of whom a limited pool exists. The impact on their physical health from being stationed on seven bases under intense ballistic missile bombardment leads to the question of pilot attrition rather than F-22 attrition: That is, can the Chinese cause enough physical degradation in the health of F-22 pilots with constant missile bombardment to the point that there aren’t enough pilots in forward positions left to carry out a large enough number of sorties to make a difference in combat. Say you are into week 2 of the war and approximately 40% of your pilots have suffered brain injuries from the bombardment (if not killed outright). You might have to drop your F-22 sortie rate from say 100 a week to 40 a week to conserve your pilots and your aircraft assets (i’m not even taking into account sorties reduced due to airbase disruptions from the missile strikes).
This has the effect of reducing the effectiveness and presence of the F-22 to make a meaningful difference in the overall war without actually having to shoot down the F-22.
The solution, as mentioned above is to distribute your stealth fighters across the 90 bases the Japanese have and hope this dilutes the effectiveness of Chinese missile strikes but with a significant increase in your resources spent equipping all these bases to carry out the complex maintenance an F-22 requires (the stealth coating itself is a hassle), making sure the bases are secured from PRC spies trying to get close to F-22s and that all of these bases are capable of withstanding a PRC rocket force barrage.
There is of course the option of trying to knock out PRC missile bases on the mainland to reduce the barrage. But for the most part, even with all the US’s recon and surveillance capabilities, I doubt they can stop the movement and operations of these in a meaningful manner:
The PRC ballistic missile force’s primary goal is to make US bases unusable. The short range missiles are aimed at the US bases in Okinawa while the more medium range missiles are designed to disrupt operations from bases in Japan.
And the DF-26 is designed to make even operations from bases like Guam risky if not maybe as disrupted as the other bases.
The PRC ballistic missile threat is in part inspired by the US military’s failure to effectively hunt and destroy SCUDs in Iraq during the first Gulf War. Which leads the PRC to believe that if they have mobile, solid fueled missile systems, they would not be as prone to destruction from US military forces and pose a considerable threat for the duration of any war with the US. These kinds of missiles are hard to hunt, can quickly break from cover, set up and fire before the enemy can fire back at them.
With a mobile missile system like the SCUD, you have a 15 minute window to detect and destroy it once it breaks from cover. This is currently not within the capability of the US military.
My current feeling is that, for the most part, Japanese and US bases will see a constant stream of attacks from the Chinese Strategic Rocket force that will disrupt and hinder operations for the duration of the war (or till the Chinese run out of missiles).
There are unseen variables here. How well the US changes up their base designs, how well they integrate their airforce elements with Japanese airbases to withstand missile bombardment (particularly after reflecting on the lessons of the Iranian missile strike).
There are also unseen variables on the side of the Chinese: What’s the state of their strategic Rocket Force? The current reports coming out of China are that the Strategic Rocket Force (BTW I think their new name is Strategic Support Force) are the worst in terms of mental and physical health among all the armed forces. They spend long amounts of time underground away from sunlight, exposed to chemicals in the air from rocket fuel which is above the health and safety limit. The morale isn’t exactly peak and unit readiness obviously has to be called into question.
The Chinese are trying to improve this through a number of fronts: Increasing the rotation of troops so they spend less time underground due to shorter stints, more VR based training to help them deal with the stress of war when their positions are being bombed and they are constantly hunted when out on mobile launchers, increased access to mental health facilities.
People often forget that war is at the end of the day fought by people, not just platforms. The same way the Traumatic brain injuries of an F-22 pilot can determine the war, the mental health and lung damage of a PRC Rocket force soldier can also determine it.
The PLAAF has done it’s own bit of upgrading and modernizing their force structures. They have broken down from the soviet era brigade structures to smaller structures called flights (similar to squadrons in the west). They have increased the level of pilot participation in flight planning, increased the pilot autonomy in the air and moved away from ground based interception tactics. They have their own Red vs Blue exercises and VR training programs as well.
However, my guess is that these won’t make difference in preparing the PLAAF for fighting against F-22s for the simple reason that even USAF pilots in F-15s and F-16s who are veterans are unable to beat F-22s in air combat. The tech gap is simply too large.
The only benefit of these modernizations I see is that the J-20 pilots whose job it is to skim around the F-22s, using their stealth to protect themselves from the F-22’s missiles, can carry out more effective missions hunting the support aircraft that support the F-22s.
There are some last issues that could impact how China’s fight against American American stealth fighters will play out:
- American Production Lines
- American Joint operations with allies
On the issue of production lines:
The F-35 production line right now is 15 aircraft a month at peak production. This is considered low by some standards but to be honest, considering that it’s a very advanced fighter it doesn’t seem to matter much. The problem however, is that this is under the assumption that every single F-35 produced will be deployed against China which is not true because the US has to manage multiple theaters (Russia-Europe, Home Air Bases etc.).
Also, the F-35 is a multi national project, so those 15 F-35s being made every month have to shared between 12 Airforces, 1 Marine Corp and 2 Navies across the planet. Further reducing the number of stealth fighters the US can deploy against China.
At the moment the US has built around 600 F-35s but not all of them have been deployed against the PRC in the Pacific theater. A good chunk of these have gone to allied forces who might not participate in a war against China or to squadrons the US might not redeploy to the Pacific. The 15 a month production line means it will be some time till the US can field the same hundreds of F-15s/F16s/F-18s that they fielded against Iraq or deployed around Iran.
The F-22 has no production lines anymore so every F-22 lost is a permanent loss.
The PRC on the other hand gets to field every single stealth fighter they build to the Pacific theater and don’t have to share the production lines with allied forces.
But as discussed above, this might be a bit of a moot point since the PRC could deploy their J-20s or J-31s to missions that don’t bring much chance of air to air combat against other stealth fighters.
The second is that the US has to coordinate military activities with allies like Japan and Taiwan. NATO and the US-South Korean militaries are heavily integrated already at the moment but it’s unclear how well the US and Japanese militaries or the US and Taiwanese militaries will work together. The Pentagon bureaucracy is appallingly bad while the US works with militaries world wide, actively integrating them into the overall command structure led by the US for a war against China is a bit of a new thing for them to do.
The PRC, being a single entity, does not face this problem.
Missile Defense and Missile Defeat
The US has begun to understand the lethality of the Chinese missile arsenal and the threat it poses to US naval and airpower assets in the Pacific which is why they have begun to invest in the idea of 2 forms of counter missile operations:
- Missile Defense
- Missile Defeat
The missile defense aspect is the idea that you have platforms capable of shooting down enemy missiles in a way that moves away from the kinetic interceptor technology of today.
The current interceptor technology of Patriots and THAADs are incredibly expensive which is why you can only deploy them in a low density manner to counter isolated missile launches such as ICBMs from North Korea.
The cost of individual interceptors is so high that you would bankrupt yourself making enough of them to shoot down missiles that cost a fraction of the interceptor’s cost. If you are building 2 $50 million dollar interceptors to shoot down 1 $10 million dollar missile, you are bankrupting yourself.
The only cost effective way to shoot down swarms of Chinese missiles is using energy based weapons but that is not something that’s deployable today as the technology is still being developed.
Missile Defeat is the second form of defense: Where you saturate your conflict zone with sensors so that you can have longer early warnings of missile launches and be able to target them and defeat the missile launches before they actually launch. So basically, solve the problem of the 15 minute window that the US faced when scud hunting in the Iraqi desert.
This is currently being developed as well and is not in a finalized solution.
And of course, the Chinese aren’t sitting around either and will come up with ways to counter energy based missile defense and sensor networks attempting to defeat missile launches.
At the end of the day, the US military is no joke and the F-22 is probably the single most deadliest fighter ever created, probably even more so than the F-35 which funnily enough is crippling the US economy in peacetime with it’s $30–50,000 dollar per hour maintenance cost.
Stealth fighters are great to have in a war but terrible to have in a peace and at a time when US social unrest is at an all time high due to economic inequalities, perhaps the greatest threat to F-22s are congressional budget hearings rather than any weapon in the Chinese arsenal.
Nevertheless, the PRC has been investing heavily in denial weapons that would deny free air and sea access to the US military operating close to the Chinese seaboard (and keep them away from Taiwan).
One potential scenario is that assuming the US doesn’t rebase the F-22s to the 90 Japanese air-fields but keeps them concentrated in the current 8 or so bases they have:
The F-22s would probably not face that many losses from missile strikes but pilot rotation would have be high due to high churn over because of mental/physical strain from constant Chinese missile bombardments on F-22 airfields. F-22s would be more at risk of malfunction due to disruptions in their maintenance routines because of missile strikes. They would probably also fly lower numbers of sorties than optimal because of constant bombardment and these would normally be air defense or air escort sorties for aircraft trying to get closer to the Chinese sea board for recon or to disrupt Chinese air support for any potential invasion of Taiwan. They could also be used for strike missions on the mainland on high value military targets that non-stealth fighters would not be able to reach.
Edit: Thanks to Walter Tak in the comments pointing out that a fully loaded F-22 might only be restricted to hitting coastal targets rather than anything deep inside Chinese territory due to range limitations.
The F-22s would have to face several situations where they were operating at the edge of their combat radius because of the constant threat to air refuellers from Chinese stealth aircraft that would utilize their stealth to hunt for USAF/Japanese AWACS, EW, Recon and Refueling platforms in contested airspace. The F-22s would also be paired with a drone UCAV wingman that the F-22 would control remotely when operating in high-danger environments where the F-22 can’t be risked and a remotely piloted wingman from the invisible F-22 would take on the risk instead (assuming stable links can be maintained in the face of Chinese EW). If such comm links are disrupted, the UCAV would have to operate autonomously using onboard AI.
The longer the war drags on however, the worse it is for the F-22s as the US would have to begin pulling F-22 pilots from squadrons not based in the Pacific as the problem they would face is pilot shortages rather than F-22 shortages. A small but significant number of F-22s might be lost due to destruction on the ground or air crashes due to maintenance disruptions (more so the latter than the former). But the primary issue the USAF would face is that their F-22 pilots on the 8 air bases facing constant missile bombardment would begin to face serious mental and physical health problems due to concussions/mental strain/shell shock. They would need to be rotated out of combat in tours as short as a few days given how intense a US-China open conflict would be. The sortie rate could be maintained as long as pilots are able to recover and cognitively function once returned to combat after their tour. If they don’t and their mental/physical injuries are more permanent or long duration, the F-22 fleet would have to drastically reduce sorties correspondingly.
This strain isn’t a one way thing either: Chinese Rocket Force troops who are in underground silos, launching hundreds of missiles a day, breathing in toxic fumes from rocket fuel and facing constant bombardment of their own from US assets would face similar strains and have to be rotated constantly.
As mentioned earlier, in war we sometimes focus too much on the platform aspect and forget that it’s real human beings fighting it. And the question of the F-22 in the Pacific might ultimately boil down to which side has enough soldiers standing and in fighting condition at the end of the day: A tale as old as war itself
Edit: Thanks to JL Shin for the correction: the Strategic Rocket Force is still separate from the Strategic Support Force and both exist as separate entities so the ballistic missile force referred to in this answer would be the Strategic Rocket force.
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