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$#!+ Just Got Real

This morning, it was announced that an American F-15 had gone down in Libya. However, the Pentagon reported it was mechanical failure, not enemy fire -- and the two crew were recovered safely by a V-22 Osprey.

Now, I'm a bit of a military buff, so I'm going to get a bit geeky here and extrapolate like hell from what little information is available.

The F-15 was originally a single-seat fighter. There are three variants that have a crew of two. The F-15B and F-15D are trainers, and therefore quite unlikely to be used in combat. But the F-15E is the "Strike Eagle" model, designed to fight its way through enemy defenses, attack targets on the ground, and then fight its way back out.

So, in all likelihood, it was a Strike Eagle that went down. But what does that mean?

It means that we sent a plane into Libyan airspace with the purpose of attacking ground targets. More specifically, with the purpose of destroying vehicles, buildings, and killing people.

That, folks, is an act of war.

So far, Obama's had a relatively easy war. All the casualties have been on the Libyan side.

That came very, very close to changing last night. Two American pilots went down in a hostile nation. One managed to escape, but another was taken by Libyans -- fortunately, rebels who were glad to see an American and helped him get rescued as well.

Rescued by a V-22 Osprey, which was crewed by four Marines. Which put four more American lives at risk.

No Americans have been killed thus far, and no one apparently injured.

But it could happen. Because that's what happens in war. And make no mistake -- we are at war.

So far, President Obama has been insulated from that particular burden of office. Yes, came into office with two wars going on, in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he was distanced from them -- he "inherited Bush's wars." This time, though, it's all on him -- and ordering American service members into harm's way, knowing that you very well might be ordering them to their deaths, is one of the most stressful things a president does.

Never in his life has President Obama faced anything even close to this level of responsibility. Until his election, he'd never held any kind of ledership or executive position, let alone where he holds the literal power of life and death over so many.

For all our sakes, I hope he finds the strength to succeed in this. I just wish I had more reason to be optimistic.


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Comments (31)

Ap reported earlier today i... (Below threshold)
retired military:

Ap reported earlier today it was an F-15E that went down.

Barry has been insulated fr... (Below threshold)

Barry has been insulated from all things under his watch. Including record deficits and the worse Presidency since Carter made pills. This is a 'smart' war. No strings attached. Barry said so.

ok so it was the Marines wh... (Below threshold)

ok so it was the Marines who shot up the villagers
that makes more sense

Well there's another $35 mi... (Below threshold)

Well there's another $35 million gone.

That, folks, is an... (Below threshold)
That, folks, is an act of war.

Well, yeah, except for the lack of objective, means, timeline, plan, clearly defined enemy, rational tactics, US interest, exit strategy, and principle, it is a war.

We've seen what happens when children are in charge of our economy and our justice system. We're now seeing what happens when children are in charge of our military.

Lord God, please give unto us some grown-up leaders soon.

All I can say it is amateur... (Below threshold)

All I can say it is amateur hour at the White House. First off losing a $35 billion aircraft to turning control of the whole mess over to a group of countries that hate us e. g. the French idea for a steering committee.

Been my experience, when something is turned over to a committee, nothing gets done. My question is how long are we going to have to suffer with the fools and idiots that run the executive branch? Yes that includes Barry. Him especially.

35 million? No biggie. Barr... (Below threshold)

35 million? No biggie. Barry spends that on one exotic golf safari.

I wonder how long before Vi... (Below threshold)

I wonder how long before Vizzini's famous line has to be changed to, "Never get involved in a land war in Africa"...?

Jay,we launched ov... (Below threshold)


we launched over 100 cruise missiles into Libya before this happened. Wouldn't that be construed as an act of war?

Barry is clueless to his impeachable crimes.

We found the French Steerin... (Below threshold)

We found the French Steering Committee.


Relax TexBob... War was a ... (Below threshold)

Relax TexBob... War was a musical group in the 70s. Barry was out of the country so he will insist he's not responsible for firing the missiles - he's not trained. Then, we already know you can't impeach a president, so we need to place blame. As Libya is an oil exporting country, that's Salazar's area; whoops, no, it's global commerce so it belongs to Locke; damn, you have to transport the oil, so it's a LaHood issue; were contracts involved? got to be Justice... but oil pollutes, so that's EPA or DoE... then as the message was ill-timed, it has to be Jay Carney's fault... if all else fails, impeach Secret Service agent driver.

Barack Obama has now launch... (Below threshold)

Barack Obama has now launched more missiles and dropped more bombs than all other Nobel Peace Price winners combined.

I hesitate to say out loud,... (Below threshold)

I hesitate to say out loud, but I am very skeptical of the mechanical failure line. There is no logical reason for the aircraft to be more than 15-25 miles from the coast. The F-15 is a TWO engine airplane, so short of dual engine failure, or a complete control failure, it is difficult to imagine how they could not make the coast.

With one exception. The F-15 had some serious structural problems a couple of years ago; it is conceivable that the pilot over-stressed the airframe and a catastrophic structural failure ensued.

Gaddafi hasn't claimed a shoot-down that I have heard; so this is a bit of mystery.

Killing friendly civilians is not a good start.

Announced this evening that we have spent 240 billion on Tomahawks alone. Who would have guessed that Gadddafi had that much air defense capability that it would take 160 THs to neutralize it? As one commentator said, they have already burned all of the money the GOP saved in the budget battle.

When are Obama's war crimes... (Below threshold)
retired military:

When are Obama's war crimes trials scheduled?

I'll comment on the use of ... (Below threshold)

I'll comment on the use of the F-15E, it's traditional role and why mechanical failure is a very likely scenario.

Jay Tea knows me as a long time commenter here. He can, if need be, verify my statements.

A little on my past as to why I feel qualified to speak. In my previous career I was a Captain in the USAF. I flew the F-16C, Block 30 (Big Mouth) and A2G, particularly SEAD missions was one of the roles I had a certain skillset for. I have approximately 600 hours in the F-16C. I've also flown both the F-15C and F-15E on squadron exchange programs but my hours in both of those is less than 10. I have been in combat, I have been fired at by enemy SAMs and AAA. I believe that at the end of couple of those missions I had to have my seat cushion surgically removed from my ass--the pucker factor was high.

Topic one, F-15E's role, could have been one of three roles. First could have been SEAD or Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses. Possibly as a secondary role to the initial cruise/TLAM attacks which almost certainly targeted Air Defense and C2 systems. Another role may have been targeting C2 systems themselves and lastly, could have been Battle Damage Assessment on the effectiveness of the missile attack with possible orders to take out surviving targets. There are probably 2 to 3 other roles it could have been performing. Suffice to say it wasn't there to play patty-cakes with the Libyans.

Topic 2, The F-15E and structural problems. The structural problems were on the F-15C and not the E. The E is a newer model aircraft relative to the C. The supposition that it could not have been engine failure or control failure and therefore must be something nefarious is a reach for controversy where non-exists.

Flying a high performance aircraft is an inherently dangerous task. There are many, many factors that can go wrong (there are aircraft failures all the time in peacetime and training, they just don't make the 6 o'clock news.

As for why did we use so many Tomahawk's? Easy. It's the military doctrine of when in doubt, empty the clip. I know of no military person that will ever complain that we fired too many missiles or bullets at the enemy before we went in.

Critique the politics, critique the wisdom of the attack if you wish, but please, don't Monday-morning quarterback the tactics used in trying to make sure those that did have to go into harm's way had the best possible chance of surviving.

Great info Faith+1.I... (Below threshold)

Great info Faith+1.
I'm still waiting to get the real skinny on the recovery of the crew.
At first I figured it was a USAF recovery, but it sounds like the crew went to the town hospital (NPR had in interview with the local doc who treated one of the guys for "bruises." I hope she realized that after ejection g-forces you are supposed to rule out an occult C spine fracture or disk herniation before you let them wiggle their necks around.) I suspect the reports of villagers shot by Marines from an Osprey were from us trying to protect the wreckage from scavenging, but its possible they were there to pick up the crew.

Been on enough mishap boards to say human factors and mechanical failure the most likely contributors to a smoking hole in the ground.

So? Does this qualify Barry... (Below threshold)

So? Does this qualify Barry as a warmonger or a chicken hawk?

Obviously Congress and money are no object to his spending stupor. War crimes? There was no declaration. Maybe he is trying to stimulate the economy?

If you bastards keep this t... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

If you bastards keep this talk going, it might make poor Obama cut short his vacation.

And he doesn't have a White House Party, golf game, or another exotic vacation scheduled for DAYS . . . have a heart!

So what Faith+1? Are you p... (Below threshold)

So what Faith+1? Are you postulating double engine failure? Dual or triple hydraulic/control failure? What are the [email protected](!g odds? I expressed doubt that it was mechanical failure. I still believe that hostile fire is the more likely; and I will not be surprised if another shoe drops.

Your justification for firing 160 Tomahawks at a third rate military goes a long way to explain why we are trillions in debt. There used to be a very valid mode of operation called "shoot, shoot, look, shoot". You are probably too young to remember.

Epador, how many aircrew do you know who ejected over enemy territory before the airplane fell apart, or went out of control? How many shot-to-hell airplanes made it out of North Vietnam before the crew punched out? Admittedly, don't know the F-15E. I do know the odds of double engine failure in any airplane are extremely small without foreign object damage (shrapnel?), and I suspect there is serious redundancy in the hydraulics/controls of the F-15. Most smoking holes in peace time result from the factors you name (and I probably sat on more boards than you have). Not in a combat environment.

Forty-two years of aviation (25 military/17 commercial) stand behind my opinions.

Stop quibbling, its a moot ... (Below threshold)

Stop quibbling, its a moot issue.
The plane fell out of the sky, period, full stop. There ain't gonna be an investigation beyond the pilot debriefing.

"It's dead Jim."

The bigger picture is why did King Obumbles think he could jack up a foreign country because they were trying to squash internal dissent?

Based on his assumptions shouldn't we be in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon or ANY of the other countries in the ME that are experiencing internal dissent?

Someone want to point out why King Obumbles has been allowed to skirt the War Powers Act and Congress?

PS... Pun intended as it was three women that talked him into it.

Multiple engines, single e... (Below threshold)

Multiple engines, single engines, doesn't matter. Wasn't that long ago that a B-2 and a B-52 went down at Guam. Both aircraft (different days) were not even on war missions. Bird strikes, pilot error, subsystem failure... the reasons are endless. Truth is aircraft go down... its a hazard of flying.

There is also an old military saying... never forget your weapon system is built by the lowest bidder.

What I find revealing about this war in Libya is the expectation from some quarters that it can be fought without a serious threat to lives and limb of our servicemen (and women). Along the lines of the Serbian/Bosnian war... which some would say risked little. But that's hooey, just ask those pilots who came under fire, like Captain O'Grady (or the Marines that went in to recover him).

Ditto for Desert Shield (the defense of Saudi Arabia). Did those geniuses really think Saddam's forces would just sit there week after week and take our punishment during the air campaign without doing anything about it? That's what participated the battle of Khofji, Saudi Arabia (among other lesser known border battles)... as well as SCUD missile strikes throughout the region.

Put yourself in the position of our enemy now in Libya. We got a lockdown of their airspace, and the longer it goes on, the more time they have to come up with some counter... some way to strike back... someway to make their tormentors pay a price. Could be by land, could be by sea, could be by any number of asymmetric or unconventional means anywhere in the world - where they perceive they could gain an advantage or coup.

Wars never go as planned... that's because your enemies are thinking human beings. Will we prevail in this one? Of that I have no doubt. But will it go as smoothly as the bubble-heads think it will? No... and if they don't get that (and see the threat) and so end it quickly, then the longer this goes on - the possibility of a serious setback and casualties (military... and even civilian) rises exponentially.

An analogy if I may: A rabid dog is burning up with the fever. He's mad as hell. Running around biting everything in sight. Do you feel sorry for him, extend your hand, and go here poochie, poochie? Or do you draw your M1911 and put him down?

FWIW, Semper Fidelis-

So, has Duh Won gotten that... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

So, has Duh Won gotten that Congressional Authorization yet for this little escapade, or do we begin impeachment proceedings...because I think that might qualify as a High Crime...

"So what Faith+1? Are you p... (Below threshold)

"So what Faith+1? Are you postulating double engine failure? Dual or triple hydraulic/control failure? What are the [email protected](!g odds?"

Actually pretty high. There are non-war time accidents similar to this at least 3 or 4 times a year.

"I expressed doubt that it was mechanical failure. I still believe that hostile fire is the more likely; and I will not be surprised if another shoe drops."

Hostile fire likely, but not a certainty.

"Your justification for firing 160 Tomahawks at a third rate military goes a long way to explain why we are trillions in debt. There used to be a very valid mode of operation called "shoot, shoot, look, shoot". You are probably too young to remember."

This paragraph is so lacking of knowledge military doctrine, condescending with a false air of superiority it's almost not really worth commenting on further.

So your military strategy would be first to call in the bean counters? Thank the gods you were never my war time commander. Look at the budget, you could eliminate the DoD and this country would still be in debt. It's Obama's runaway domestic programs that are out of control and causing us problems.

"Admittedly, don't know the F-15E." and "Not in a combat environment." are all I need to know about weighing your opinion. I've done both.

Brucepall has it right in his first paragraph. Aircraft go down all the time and there wouldn't be anything to gain politically from hiding whether it was brought down by hostile fire. It's possible-it was going into combat afterall--but knowing what I know of the aircraft it's also not as uncommon as you seem to think.

BTW, I tend to concur with the rest of Brucepall's post as well. This action seems more to do with Obama feeling like he finally had to do something and he has no real plan or endgame. It's not Iraq that it reminds me of, but the first Bush's foray into Somalia....

Who knows what happened. W... (Below threshold)

Who knows what happened. We did not know about the stealth fighter being shot down until after Kosovo. The only ones who will know what happen are the crew and Air Force.

Faith+1 said, "I k... (Below threshold)

Faith+1 said,

"I know of no military person who will ever complain that we fired too many missiles or bullets at the enemy before we went in."

Amen to that. I also pretty much agree with his outlook in the rest of his post as well. Its pretty easy for me to recognize if one has been there, done that, and got the T-shirt.

Final comment. Some British general was reported as saying that this no-fly zone could last as long as 30 years (e.g. - how long is a string?). Which set the blabbering bubble-heads all a twitter. Heh.

I think he chose to say this deliberately... Its a less than subtile ding at his and our own civilian leadership. Generals are not stupid. What I hear him saying is... WTF guys? You better come up with a real plan and end game, right quick! (Faith+1 is right on target there too).

Now look what follows... the coalition is fraying; who's going to be responsible (hell, who's going to be in charge) for executing and ending this cluster muck... Yes, who indeed.

FWIW, Semper Fidelis-

I can't believe they sent a... (Below threshold)

I can't believe they sent an Osprey in. Those things are loud and huge which makes them an easy target.

Come on G. What would you p... (Below threshold)

Come on G. What would you prefer instead? A fifty-year old airframe like a CH-46 (which has so many restrictions on its envelope -due to age and airframe fatigue - its amazing they stay aloft)??? Perhaps you think six seals in a ridged rubber raft, sweating bullets while they furiously paddle in, is the way to go??? Dang, dude - get real!

Semper Fidelis-

It means that we sent a ... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

It means that we sent a plane into Libyan airspace with the purpose of attacking ground targets. More specifically, with the purpose of destroying vehicles, buildings, and killing people.

That, folks, is an act of war.

It's funny how politicians try to frame military actions as not being an act of war. The notion that you can lob barage after barage of missiles into a foreign country and not consider that an act of war is just as ludicrous as saying that sending in planes is not an act of war. They're both acts of war.

You're right, Tina - go in ... (Below threshold)

You're right, Tina - go in with the intention of blowing stuff up, and it's a war.

That said, I wish we were still making A-10s. They weren't pretty, they weren't sexy, they weren't supersonic - but they could deal death on the battlefield unmatched by anything short of an AC-130H.

No need to run from them - you'll only die tired.

JLawson, I use to know a fe... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

JLawson, I use to know a few people in the Airfoce way back when. The A-10 was the plane they all wanted to fly.

Military planes crashing do... (Below threshold)

Military planes crashing do not make the 6 o'clock news nationally because they are so common, but they do make the local news regularly.Part of the reason for a no fly zone is so we can concentrate on ground movements and targets.Interdiction blocks most movements of troops ,supplies,and communications. Some communications might be preserved if they are not secure so we can monitor them. There have been reports that godawfull is using buses to move his troops in and out of cities.The best we can do is find out after the fact because these troops are dressed as public service workers.






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