Day by Day

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

John Murtha, Democrats Best Military Mind

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Congressman John Murtha had a long and distinguished Marine Corps Reserve career, retiring in 1990 as a Colonel. Recently many conservative bloggers, for example Michelle Malkin, have ridiculed him for demanding that the United States pull its military out of Iraq and station elements nearby for use when needed in Iraq, and further suggested Okinawa as a suitable base. Many of Murtha’s conservative critics made significant errors in their criticism of Murtha’s Okinawa suggstion. It’s not that they were wrong saying that Murtha’s Okinawa idea was stupid. It’s just that they didn’t realize just how monumentally stupid it was.

A little background on Okinawa. The Air Force has Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa, and the government of Okinawa would like us to remove it, and our other bases there, not enlarge it. It is puzzling that the Democrat's top military mind didn't know that.

To continue, Michelle Malkin noted that Iraq is over 4,000 nautical miles from Okinawa, and that it would take F-16’s flying at 1500 knots four hours to fly to Iraq. She also noted that the unrefueled range of the F-16 (carrying ordnance) is 750 miles, so they would have to be refueled several times enroute by KC-135’s, and since the direct line from Okinawa to Iraq passes over China and Iran, Michelle wondered how those countries would react to American fighter and refueling aircraft in their airspace.

There are many errors in Michelle’s analysis, and each error actually makes Murtha’s suggestion a lot dumber. The first major error is the route the F-16’s would fly from Okinawa to Iraq. There can be no overflying of China, India, or Iran. The F-16’s would have to fly south over the Pacific Ocean and thread their way into the Indian Ocean without upsetting Viet Nam, Indonesia, or Malaysia, then across the Indian Ocean and up or along the Persian Gulf to Iraq. Without upsetting Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. So the 4,000 nautical miles is now more like 6,000. And the flying speed is not 1500 knots, because the F-16’s wouldn’t be flying “clean” – they would have 500 pound bombs, external auxiliary fuel tanks, plus other armaments which would increase both their flying weight and aerodynamic drag – making the cruising speed about 600 knots instead of 1500. Michelle got the unrefueled range carrying armaments about right at 750 miles, so during the ten hour flight to the target the F-16’s will need to refuel eight times or more. The refuelers would probably be KC-10’s flying out of Diego Garcia in the heart of the Indian Ocean.

So now we have a flight of F-16’s over target, ten hours or more after their need was established. I hope they weren’t needed in a hurry. And that the bad guys waited around.

The pilots get the job done and…and now they get to fly home. Hopefully, before they do, they will be able to land somewhere and take care of basic physiological needs, like taking a healthy “John Murtha.”

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