Phil Carter and Donald Sensing talk about the evolving roles of airpower and conventional artillery. There is talk about re-merging the Army and Air Force, or at least having airplanes and UAVs do much of the work of conventional artillery. Sensing correctly notes that, while it sounds good in theory, there are some practical problems, most notably the fact that artillery can generally put rounds on target much more quickly.
I spent my four years on active duty in the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), a system with which Donald is also familiar. MLRS, especially the current generation, overcomes most of the limitations of cannon artillery because of the massive firepower and long range. The major disadvantages–unless things have improved radically in the last decade–are slow reload time, constant mechanical breakdown because of oversensitivity (and which almost always required General Support maintenance attention), and a pretty high logistical demand.
But artillery is part of a system, along with fighter jets, close air support, UAVs, and helicopters. I can’t see eliminating any of those assets. There’s an old saying that when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I’ve got a really good drill that doubles as a screwdriver; but there are all sorts of times when it’s more efficient to just use a regular manual one. It often simply makes no sense to use a million dollar missile when a thousand dollar shell will do the trick. And faster.