Michelle Malkin (and others) have noted John Murtha's latest call for redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq to....Okinawa. Appearing on "Meet the Press" over the weekend, Murtha opined that our military forces could easily support combat operations in the Middle East from the relative comfort and security of the Far East. What the heck, it's only 8,000 miles round-trip.
Even Tim Russert had a hard time swallowing that one, but Murtha persisted.
MR. RUSSERT: But it’d be tough to have a timely response from Okinawa.
REP. MURTHA: Well, it—you know, they—when I say Okinawa, I, I’m saying troops in Okinawa. When I say a timely response, you know, our fighters can fly from Okinawa very quickly. And—and—when they don’t know we’re coming. There’s no question about it. And, and where those airplanes won’t—came from I can’t tell you, but, but I’ll tell you one thing, it doesn’t take very long for them to get in with cruise missiles or with, with fighter aircraft or, or attack aircraft, it doesn’t take any time at all. So we, we have done—this one particular operation, to say that that couldn’t have done, done—it was done from the outside, for heaven’s sakes.
Of course, Murtha's claims are laughable. Froggy at Blackfive has a nice summary of what it would take to get F-16s--like the ones that killed Zarqawi--from Kadena to Iraq and back again. Nothing like a 20-hour, round-robin mission in a single seat, single-engine fighter. And, those dozen or so aerial refuelings (per aircraft) that Froggy describes would tie up a good portion of our KC-135 and KC-10 tanker fleet. Then, there's the question of where the refuelers would operate from, basing rights, airfield security, and all the other issues associated with creating an air bridge from Asia to the Persian Gulf.
It is easy to dismiss Murtha as a political twit who never learned another military lesson after he left 'Nam. In another era, Murtha's remarks would be dismissed as foolish rantings and an embarassment, even by Congressional standards. But, in today's political environment, Murtha is considered a military expert. The MSM is quick to point out that Congressman Murtha is a retired Marine Corps Colonel who served in Vietnam (wonder if he bumped into John Kerry over there?) By the standards of today's Democratic Party and the liberal press, Murtha ranks up there with Clausewitz as a military strategist. When Mr. Murtha loses his re-election bid this fall, perhaps he can find work as a visiting professor at the Naval War College or the Air War College. I'm sure his theories on global airpower projection who (ahem) receive a proper response at one of those institutions.
One final thought: Murtha, like thousands of Vietnam-era Marines, probably passed through Okinawa enroute to Southeast Asia, or on the way home. Perhaps he has fond memories of his time on the island, and somehow assumes that the U.S. will maintain a permanent military presence on Okinawa. Well, here's a little news flash for Jack Murtha; a sizeable number of Okinawans want the U.S. military off their island, and they routinely petition the Japanese government to shut down the sprawling Air Force, Navy and Marine installations located there. So far, Tokyo has resisted calls to eject the U.S. military, but our future on the island is far from assured. At some point, a more liberal Japanese government will capitualate to the Okinawans' request, and the U.S. will receive its eviction notice. That would certainly put a crimp in Murtha's Okinawa strategy.
But, being the strategist that he is, I'm sure that Congressman Murtha has considered that option, and probably has a fall-back plan. If we lose Okinawa, just base everything out of Guam. That's only 5,000 miles or so, just a hop, skip and a jump in Murtha's way of thinking. We'd better get to work on hypersonic attack aircraft, or space-based tactical weapons. I would hate to be a fighter jock or bomber driver in an Air Force subjected to Murtha's airpower "vision."