Indiana A-10 airmen at risk due to USAF incompetence

a10-122The pilots and crews of the 163d Fighter Squadron, a unit of the Indiana Air National Guard 122d Fighter Wing located at the Fort Wayne Air National Guard Station, are crushing ISIL forces in the Al Anbar region, of western Iraq. They are doing so with little support from the civil servants in Langley, Virginia.

The pilots are crushing the enemy with more than a third of their jets broken due to a lack of necessary parts for the mission and a broken logistics system, according to sources.

Sources report that they are facing the “red tape bureaucracy from ACC, notably the GS level. ‘It’s too hard,’ ‘we can’t do that,’ ‘I’ve got bigger fish to fry,’ are just a few of the comments they are hearing from stateside, and they fight abroad.

As the Arizona Daily Independent reported today, the deployed A-10 unit started their tour in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban but moved to Kuwait in late October 2014 to fight ISIL at the request of the CENTCOM Commander and SOCOM.

It is unknown at this time whether the part shortage and broken logistics system is effecting only the A-10. Sources believe that the F-16’s and F-15’s are struggling with similar issues but cannot confirm to what extent.

What is known is that since arriving in Kuwait, 1150 A-10 parts have been ordered with only 400 items being delivered by 27 Dec 2014 or 35 percent.

The United States Air Force had previously stated that all parts should be have delivered by December 27, 2014.

In typical USAF style, bungling and missteps are overcome by maintenance crews that manage the impossible with nearly nothing.

Parts are not being shipped via military transport. All parts are being shipped commercially adding further delays as they process through customs, numerous stops, etc. For example, a critically needed A-10 Auxiliary Power Unit has been stuck in customs (in Kuwait) for over a week (and counting) due to improper paperwork.

As a result, the capable maintenance crews are cannibalizing aircraft stateside and shipping the critical parts off to their team members aboard.

According to sources, two factors are affecting combat operations for A-10s: 1) parts shortages, and 2) very long sortie durations (7.5 hours) which have required aircraft to enter maintenance phase earlier than expected. The squadron was expecting to conduct maintenance phases while overseas. However, parts shortages and continuous high daily flying hours have complicated the maintenance phase schedule — aircraft are going into a detailed maintenance process sooner. The long mission durations are due to their operating location is far from the ISIL fight and a very limited number of A-10 aircraft were deployed. This phase increase is also due to 33% of their aircraft being Non-Mission Capable (due to parts shortages) and thus those that can fly, fly a lot.

One of the reasons the sortie durations are so long is because the USAF only deployed 4 percent of the fleet. Four percent of the entire fleet for this major fight seems irresponsible to many. To many involved it seems a lot like the “Viet Nam mentality,” according to one USAF source, “it seems as if they really don’t want to win the fight.”

The squadron knew they would proceed to Afghanistan initially then proceed to Kuwait before they deployed in October 2014. Despite this advance knowledge, the USAF did not have a supply account established for the squadron when they arrived in Kuwait. They had to use another nearby logistics base’s account until 2 weeks ago (arrived in November). It appears many of the orders for parts through this logistics base did not make it to the appropriate agencies in the states. In addition, the squadron’s “risk kit” (supplies for 30 days) were only 50% equipped, contrary to USAF accounting.

According to sources, the supply and logistics system is a mess. Even ordering Mission Impaired Capability Awaiting Parts (MICAP) are still handwritten via a supply log, so searching for receivables is painstaking at best so units don’t even know when they can expect badly needed parts to arrive.

The USAF has insisted that the next war will be in the air and has done everything they can to ignore the realities of the battles of today. The clear and deliberate actions of the USAF logistics system make all pause and consider if these actions are malicious and on purpose to further the A-10 divestment or just complete buffoonery on the part of the Air Combat Command staff.

The fight in Congress for the A-10 may be on short supply, but just like the crews fighting ISIS, they can manage to do the impossible with nearly nothing.

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