[by Mark Safranski a.k.a “zen”]
Kelly Vlahos, the often sharp-penned defense columnist at The American Conservative, has written an excellent tribute to Colonel John Boyd and his Acolytes:
….Boyd and Christie started the group on a very small scale in Florida, fueled more by beer and frivolity than anything else. Things got serious when Boyd and later Christie were brought to work at the Pentagon. They met Pierre Sprey, a self-described “subversive” in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, then occupied by Robert McNamara. Sprey was one of the “whiz kids,” but he believed the Air Force was doing everything wrong in Vietnam. He was an early proponent of close air support, which led to the development of the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog.”
“We were bureaucratic guerrilla warriors, fighting the system and deploying whatever underground means we could use,” including whistleblowing, leaking, and “suborning” members of Congress, Sprey says, half-joking.
“John Boyd came in as a maverick,” Sprey recalled. Initially, Boyd was brought to the Pentagon in the 1960s by a general who disliked Sprey’s ideas on close air support and was pulling together a group of eggheads to “disgrace” him. When the general left Boyd alone in the room with Sprey they “became fast friends, co-conspirators.” The rest is history.
By the time the group held its first Washington meeting in 1973, Sprey, Boyd, Christie, and test pilot Col. Everest Riccioni had designed the concept that was directly implemented as the F-15 and F-16 fighter programs—which have served as the core of American air power for the past 40 years. The group came to be known as the “Fighter Mafia” and expanded their circle to include other like-minded individuals with the same goals for reforming programs and building better weapons systems for the military.
“I’m proud of what we achieved, but it was only a drop in the bucket” relative to the massive size of the Pentagon’s budget and operations, says Sprey. “At least we got a few things done.”
Today, he adds, “we’re a network of subversives trying to cut the defense budget and campaigning against things that don’t work.”
Nice piece. Read the rest here.
This would also be a good time to remind everyone that the Boyd & Beyond 2013 conference will be at Quantico on October 11th and 12th. It’s free, but you must RSVP Scott Shipman or Colonel Stan Coerr.