The Air Force Went Woke, Its Planes Won’t Fly
Diversity was supposed to improve military readiness. It didn’t.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Chief of Staff Charles Brown and Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth Wright have made diversity and wokeness into the core of the Air Force's mission. Meanwhile the planes won't fly.
Brown has spent the past few years unleashing worthless diversity reviews to try and blame the Air Force for a supposed lack of diversity, even though it now has a black chief of staff and a black top enlisted leader. The military justification for their divisive shenanigans was that diversity equated somehow to military readiness. How is the Air Force’s readiness?
The latest numbers show that the Air Force has made no progress in improving the readiness of its planes with a rate of 71.5% or 7 out of 10 planes in 2021.
The United States Air Force is supposed to have mission capable rates of 75% to 80%, but about the only aircraft that meet that criteria are the unmanned drones. The high ratings of the drones disguise the fact that the actual numbers, when broken down by aircraft, are worse.
The F-35As, the fifth generation fighters that would be crucial in countering any sizable aerial engagement with Communist China, dropped catastrophically from 76% to 68.8%.
Last year, the Biden administration boasted about the largest deployment of F-22 stealth fighters in the Pacific. Unfortunately their readiness hovers at around 50%.
Deploying fighters with the readiness rate of a coin flip won’t impress Communist China.
The F-15E's, the workhorse fighter we rely on in every theater, is down from 69% to 66%, the F-15C are down to below 70%, and the situation is expected to worsen due to parts shortages. The C-130 Hercules, a backbone of our operation, has slipped below 70%. The CV-22 Osprey fell from 54% to 50%. The B-1 Lancer fell from 52% to 40%, and, at its worst, was at 10%.
All in all, only one Air Force aircraft actually met mission-capable goals: the venerable UH-1N Huey which is three years older than Chief of Staff Brown.
That’s not just a disgrace, it’s a catastrophe waiting to happen.
The United States is at risk of entering a military confrontation with China that we are not ready for. The Chinese have built up their own air force using stolen American technology. Meanwhile after generations of dream planes and endless billions spent, the Air Force still remains reliant on outdated aircraft that are over 50 years old in some cases and which are harder to support.
The next generation aircraft have not panned out. Their repeated failures have been met with an aggressive push by the brass to ignore the problems, punish critics, and junk the older aircraft. Older planes are being cannibalized for parts to repair other aircraft of the same generation leading to shrinking squadron sizes and brass congratulating themselves for saving money.
Rather than bootstrapping its way to military readiness, the newly woke Air Force is jettisoning readiness and focusing on diversity.
During the nomination of Brown, Biden's disastrous pick, he provided worthless and misleading mission capable rates on the F-16, the F-22, and the F-35.
Most notably, Brown claimed that the "F-22 mission capable rate achieved a high of 68% in April 2019." That would be impressive, except that the actual F-22 yearly rate fell to 51%.
More significantly, Biden's Secretary of Defense Austin decided to drop even the expectation of a 75% to 80% readiness rate. Brown is on board with that which means we are not ready. And the military leadership has decided to stop even trying to hit those basic readiness targets.
Instead of having at least 3 out of 4 aircraft ready, the brass have decided to take ”a more holistic view of readiness.”
Communist China is not taking a holistic view of winning wars.
While Biden’s brass expect us to accept a “holistic view” of readiness, in which we aren’t actually ready, they have set the gold standard for diversity with conversations on race and hard diversity quotas. If Brown and the Air Force had the same attitude toward aircraft readiness quotas that they do toward racial quotas, we would have total military readiness at all times.
Instead we have the first black Secretary of Defense, the first black Air Force Chief of Staff, and the first black Chief Master Sergeant who tweets things like, "You don’t know the anxiety, the despair, the heartache, the fear, the rage and the disappointment that comes with living in this country... every single day." And we have an Air Force full of planes that don’t fly.
The woke Air Force brass don’t know the anxiety, the despair, the heartache, the fear, the rage, and the disappointment that comes from spending tens of billions on aircraft that don’t fly while the woke brass throw themselves pity parties and act like expecting them to win wars is racist.
During his nomination, Air Force Chief of Staff Brown released an unprofessional video complaining that he had been a victim of racism because someone in Korea once questioned whether he was entitled to a parking space when he was out of uniform.
Now Brown has his woke parking space and a whole lot of our planes are parked on it.
Stripes magazine described a speech in which Brown “seemed to barely contain his rage” and argued “that the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that I’ve sworn my adult life to support and defend have not always delivered ‘liberty and equality’ to all.”
It's not the job of Brown to lecture us on the ideals of the Constitution, but to defend the United States. Brown, who has advocated purging personnel based on their social media, has no idea what the ideals of a nation built on freedom of speech even are, and he has no idea how to do his actual job which is to oversee an air force that is ready to take on America’s enemies.
Nor does he care.
Not satisfied with junking the physical equipment, Brown and his allies are seeking to purge the Air Force of anyone they deem to be "extremists" while lowering standards and replacing merit with racial and gender quotas. As bad as the readiness rates for the planes may be, the readiness rates for woke promotions are bound to be much worse.
When asked during his hearing whether the Air Force was ready, Brown replied, "To an extent.”
Should an Air Force Chief of Staff who thinks and speaks this way be fired? To an extent.
This year, with the Air Force doing even worse than before he took over, Brown is talking about a mission for "equity". It’s shamelessly irresponsible for Brown, who has failed at his core duty, to put his racial politics ahead of his mission at a time when the Air Force is not ready.
The Pacific theater was always more challenging than Europe. In any confrontation with China, the Air Force would be key to maintaining supply lines stretching over 7,000 miles, and ready to counter Chinese incursions across another 3,000 miles. In an actual war, there would be no room for holistic views, for equity, racial quotas, or rants about systemic racism.
There would only be the cold hard realities of the enemy and the contest in the battlespace.
The good news is that our pilots, for now, remain qualified, talented, and highly motivated. Unfortunately the brass has done everything possible to change that. And our men struggle with outdated aircraft that their fathers and even grandfathers were flying, and with highly expensive, erratic, and unstable new fighters that enriched defense contractors and the retiring brass who lobbied for them. The brass are well aware of the crisis. That’s why, like so many corporate monopolies who go woke to cover up their brokenness, they focus on identity politics.
Winning at identity politics is a lot easier than winning a war. Just ask Austin, Brown, and Wright.