It is not often that I rag on the Air Force, for I enjoyed nearly all of my 20-year career. But in that amount of time, you know that I had to run into a few really dim bulbs. Here are two examples of high-ranking people I never met that made poor decisions affecting a lot of people.
As many of you realize, the Pueblo incident (if you don’t know about that, shame on you – look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls), caused people in my line of work began constant deployments to Korea. Strangely, we recon crew members were sent via passenger aircraft while our mission aircraft flew “empty” to Osan Air Base, Korea.
This was incredibly poor thinking. The passenger airline seats cost our unit travel money. You could say that the money just went from one Air Force pocket to the other, but that misses the point. If we had traveled aboard our mission aircraft, we would have left seats open for regular passengers, and the overall number of passenger flights to Korea would have been reduced. That saves everyone money.
Traveling by passenger aircraft was also inconvenient. We had to attend deployment briefings in our Operations building, board a bus for the drive from our home base of Yokota to Tachikawa where we were processed, got ticketed, had our baggage checked, and then waited for flights. And since these were civilian flights, we had to be in the passenger terminal well before take-off in order to be there for “Boarding Time.” What a load!
Finally, there was a splutter of rationality in someone’s mind to actually coordinate events. Rather than sending mission aircraft with only pilots and navigators, why not send the recon crews on those planes as well? Golly gee whiz, that was a flash of brilliance!
We’re not done yet. Initially, deployments always occurred on Fridays. But because of paydays falling on weekends plus some holidays being on Mondays, and since federal law requires government pay to not be delayed, 42% of military paydays fall on Fridays. Back then, there was no online banking or smart-phone banking apps. We were lucky to have direct deposit. Yet families had to be provided for and those being deployed needed cash for their expenses as well. Since departures were before banks opened on Friday, there was no way to divvy up funds easily.
That meant some serious monetary juggling to ensure everyone had adequate funds. Wives often had to send money to their deployed husbands. It was a challenge to get that handled promptly. Military mail between overseas bases was notoriously unreliable, occasionally being first sent back to the States for rerouting to the intended overseas base.
Equally bad, Friday deployments prevented crews from having one last weekend with their loved ones. Finally, one of our guys pitched a fit and schedulers got the message and we eventually started deploying on Mondays.
These changes cost the Air Force nothing, but it makes you wonder why those highly-paid “leaders” didn’t consider all relevant factors in the first place.