Col. Michael W. Pietrucha, USAF

About Col. Michael W. Pietrucha, USAF

Col. Mike Pietrucha was an instructor electronic warfare officer in the F-4G Wild Weasel and the F-15E Strike Eagle, amassing 156 combat missions and taking part in 2.5 SAM kills over 10 combat deployments. As an irregular warfare operations officer, he has two additional combat deployments in the company of U.S. Army infantry, combat engineer, and military police units in Iraq and Afghanistan. The views of this piece do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Defense Department or the U.S. Air Force.


Recent Posts By the Author


Essay: Building a Mediterranean Arc of Stability for America's Long War

Essay: Building a Mediterranean Arc of Stability for America’s Long War

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The United States is truly involved in a Long War. While the Army and Marine Corps have enjoyed long periods between combat operations, the Air Force and naval aviation have been continuously deployed for combat since the just after the Iraqis invaded Kuwait in August of 1990. Continuous combat operations have now stretched for twenty-five years, making our commitment to the Middle East the longest war involving a major Western power since the Thirty Years’ War, which ended in 1648. Read More

Essay: Mistakes Are Not War Crimes

Essay: Mistakes Are Not War Crimes

In this photograph released by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on October 3, 2015, fires burn in part of the MSF hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz after it was hit by an air strike. MSF Photo

In this photograph released by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on October 3, 2015, fires burn in part of the MSF hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz after it was hit by an air strike. MSF Photo

Let’s get one thing straight: Accidents are not war crimes. Unintentional or collateral damage does not constitute a war crime, even when there are noncombatant deaths. The advent of precision weapons has fostered an unrealistic expectation regarding the applications of military force, which is substantially at odds with the reality of combat. Read More

Essay: Strategies That Matter — One Size Fits None

Essay: Strategies That Matter — One Size Fits None

Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk over Iraq. US Air Force Photo

Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawk over Iraq. US Air Force Photo

Airpower advocates exited the Gulf War trumpeting an unambiguous victory for airpower—and they were right. The air campaign against Iraq was well planned, brilliantly tailored to the adversary, and superbly executed. But it was also a clear example where the enemy was outclassed from the very beginning. Coalition forces were allowed an unfettered buildup, and had clear advantages in numbers, training, equipment and a doctrine designed to defeat massed Soviet and Soviet-client forces under adverse conditions. They faced a surrounded enemy who allowed the Coalition force to seize the initiative (despite ample warning) and keep it throughout the conflict. The Iraqi military at the time was postured to lose, and lose big. Read More

Essay:  Strategies That Matter – Why Targets That Matter,  Don’t

Essay: Strategies That Matter – Why Targets That Matter, Don’t

A B-2 Stealth Bomber from Whiteman AFB in Missouri leads an aerial flight formation with F-18 Hornets from the during exercise Valiant Shield 2006. US Navy Photo

A B-2 Stealth Bomber from Whiteman AFB in Missouri leads an aerial flight formation with F-18 Hornets from the during exercise Valiant Shield 2006. US Navy Photo

In 1954, U.S. Representative W. Sterling Cole, chairman of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee, announced what had been suspected: that the U.S. Air Force could deliver an H-bomb anywhere in the world. Hardly a revelation, this boast since has been echoed for more than half a century. Indeed, Air Force talking points regularly repeat a version of this theme: We can hold any target at risk anywhere in the world in any time, any place. This idea is deeply embedded in the Air Force’s transformation efforts, as an aspirational statement became a “requirement” and thereby a justification for airpower capabilities. “Any target, any time, any place” is a centerpiece of service dogma, offered in place of coherent airpower strategy. Unfortunately, that means very little for the nation’s air, space and cyber power entrusted to the Air Force. A capability is not a strategy, and can’t be substituted for one. It’s strategy that matters. Read More

Opinion: What if They Held a Salvo Competition and Nobody Came?

Opinion: What if They Held a Salvo Competition and Nobody Came?

Left to right, the guided missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and the guided missile destroyers USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), USS Carney (DDG 64) and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) launch a coordinated volley of missiles in 2003. US Navy Photo

Left to right, the guided missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and the guided missile destroyers USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), USS Carney (DDG 64) and USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) launch a coordinated volley of missiles in 2003. US Navy Photo

After Vietnam, the Department of Defense turned its attention back to the Soviet threat in Europe. Faced with an opposing force that was numerically superior, land-power-focused, and strategically positioned to overrun Western Europe, the United States initially turned to nuclear weapons to offset a battlefield disadvantage. Read More

Essay: Capability-Based Planning and the Death of Military Strategy

Essay: Capability-Based Planning and the Death of Military Strategy

Lt. Cmdr. Kirk Benson, points at a map of the South China sea at the Tactical Flag Command Center (TFCC) of the USS Blue Ridge. Reuters photo via VOA.

Lt. Cmdr. Kirk Benson, points at a map of the South China sea at the Tactical Flag Command Center (TFCC) of the USS Blue Ridge. Reuters photo via VOA.

In the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review, released days before the September 11 attacks, the Department of Defense announced a shift in approach—one that had been trickling through DOD since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Billed as “a new defense strategy and an associated risk management framework,” the emerging addition to the defense planning lexicon was a “capabilities-based approach.” Read More