The job kept Horner in the air and away from home much of the time. Somewhat unexpectedly, he had discovered that he had a second home in the Gulf region. Over the years he had made many friends there, especially with other airmen, and as he'd grown more familiar with them, both professionally and as a guest in their homes, his respect for them had increased. He'd come to admire their ways, their differences from westerners, their pride in their own nations, and their reverence for God. In time he'd also come to love the nations that had given them birth, with their rich history, culture, and scenic beauty; he found himself devouring whatever books on them he could find.
When these friendships developed, he had no idea how valuable they'd turn out to be later.
The two hats Chuck Horner wore - as Ninth Air Force and CENTAF Commanders - derived from a generally little-known but far-reaching transformation in military structure brought about by the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act. Goldwater-Nichols revolutionized the way the United States military services operate.
Each of the military services has its own culture and traditions, its own sources of pride and ways of doing things, but these differences, in addition to the inevitable competition for resources and status, can easily get in the way of cooperation. Meanwhile, the speed - the tempo - of warfare grows ever faster; and war becomes more lethal. The U.S. military must be able to project massive, shattering force quickly from many directions - land, sea, air, and space-which means, among other things, that service parochialism is an expensive and dated luxury. The new military mantra is "jointness" - all the services must be able to work together as well and as comfortably as with members of their own organizations.
Goldwater-Nichols aimed to implement "jointness" by breaking the hold of individual services on their combat forces. All operational control was taken away and given to regional Commanders in Chief (Europe, Central, Pacific, Southern, and to some extent Atlantic, Korea, and Strategic) and functional Commanders in Chief (Transportation, Space, Special Operations, and to some extent Strategic and Atlantic Command). This meant that the services became responsible only for organizing, training, and equipping military forces. Once the forces were operationally ready, they were assigned to one of the Unified Commanders. Thus, a fighter wing in Germany no longer was controlled by the Air Force, but would logically be assigned to EUCOM, a destroyer off the coast of Japan to PACOM, a satellite to SPACECOM, and a stateside army division could be assigned to any of the unified commands.
As the Ninth Air Force Commander, Chuck Horner worked for Bob Russ, the TAC Commander, who in turn worked for Larry Welch, Chief of Staff of the Air Force. As CENTAF Commander, he worked for Norman Schwarzkopf, who worked directly for Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. The Joint Chiefs of Staff could meet in Washington and advise Colin Powell, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, but neither Powell nor any of the service heads had direct operational authority over Schwarzkopf, unless Cheney wished it (as did, in fact, happen). Likewise, neither Bob Russ nor Larry Welch had operational authority over Horner in his role as CENTAF Commander.
The new system created by Goldwater-Nichols was not universally popular in the Pentagon, but the people in the field loved it.
Meanwhile, the first week of August had been a difficult - and strange - time for the CENTAF Commander. In late July, when the Iraqi Army had begun massing on the border with Kuwait, he had put on alert the 1st TFW's F-15C Eagles at Langley and the 363d TFW's F-16C Fighting Falcons at Shaw AFB in Sumter, South Carolina, where he himself was based. On the night of August 2, a Wednesday, Iraq had invaded Kuwait, such a blatant act of thuggery that Horner had expected an immediate U.S. response. With Kuwait in Saddam Hussein's bag, Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich Gulf Arab states were very much at risk. Several divisions of Iraq's powerful Republican Guards were poised in an attack posture along the Saudi-Kuwait border. Horner could not imagine how the United States could allow Saddam further loot. If sabers were to be rattled, then Ninth Air Force was likely be the first one to get the call.
Reprinted from EVERY MAN A TIGER by Tom Clancy with General Chuck Horner (RET.) by permission of G. P. Putnam & Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright May 1999 by C. P. Commanders, Inc
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