In March, the Straus Military Reform Project and the Center for Defense Information revealed that the Commander of the 355th Fighter Wing, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Col. James P. Meger “sanitized presentation to the Air Force Chief of Staff, Army Chief of Staff, UMCS Chief of Staff, and the Navy Chief of Staff.
On Thursday, April 10, Lt. Erin Ranaweera, Public Affairs Chief, for the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis Monthan, confirmed that Meger scrubbed the slides but denied that it was part of Operation Destroy CAS. Ranaweera claimed that Meger removed the critical bullet points for “brevity.” Purely by coincidence, this was the only bullet addressing the devastating CAS capability gap created by divesting the A-10.
According to the Straus Military Reform Project’s article, Running for Cover: A Sham Air Force Summit Can’t Fix the Close Air Support Gap Created by Dumping the A-10, Meger, delivered a “sanitized presentation to the Air Force Chief of Staff,” which failed to mention “the 10- to 12-year estimated capability gap” should the a-10 be mothballed, “nor was there any mention whatsoever of the need to maintain legacy aircraft—such as the A-10 or less capable alternatives like the F-16 or F-15E—until the F-35A reached FOC.”
“I think it’s a disservice to the stated goals of the Summit to gloss over the operational risks and capability gaps created by A-10 divestment to try to save time. The risks created by divestment should have been a priority and the heart of the presentation,” said Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project, in response to Ranaweera’s confirmation.
According to Ranaweera, Meger is now on TDY for five weeks. Contrary to that claim, Meger is on the DM flying schedule twice the week of April 19.
“The key point omitted by Meger is what many of us have been arguing all along — that the Air Force is creating a critical gap in warfighting capability that will cost lives on the ground and leave our nation inadequately defended as a result,” said retired USAF pilot and publisher of the popular military website, John Q. Public, Tony Carr.
“When you put this together with the Maj. Gen. Post debacle, it seems to me General Welsh should be asking himself what kind of climate he has created with the A-10 issue. This shows that his commanders are afraid to tell him the truth when it doesn’t align with his known positions. Not only does systemic corruption like this cost the Air Force credibility with Congress, it is a dangerous way to run an agency charged with keeping our country safe. It hides risk,” concluded Carr.
According to sources close to the CAS Summit, Meger pulled the ultimate “bait and switch.” Working group members were skeptical that careerist Meger would tell the Commander of Air Combat Command (COMACC, Gen Carlisle) the truth at the Tucson session. When Meger did tell the truth to Gen Carlisle, they thought Meger would carry their message to the Chiefs of Staff. Not only did Meger, in coordination with Lt. Gen. Wolters (HAF/A3), sanitize the slides but also put the briefing in a completely different context than intended by the warfighters in Tucson. By removing the “10-12 year capability gap by divesting the A-10…” his message now implied the USAF efforts would completely mitigate the risk. It has been said “adversity does not build character but reveals it.”
The JTAC and Attack community feels betrayed by Meger, Lt. Gen. Wolters, and Gen. Carlisle.
CAS Summit Planning Presentation