Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Obesity in the Military

We make generals today on the basis of their ability to write a damned letter. Those kinds of men can’t get us ready for war.”--Chesty Puller, LtGen, USMC

I'm not sure when LtGen Puller made that quote but he was even more prescient than he may have realized.  The war on terror has lasted longer than any other war the US military yet it hasn't produced the kinds of leaders Chesty Puller was thinking of.  Instead, the latest generation of generals is nothing more than a bunch of consensus builders who rose through the ranks by not challenging convention.  Those that did ended being purged by the Obama administration, further keeping the herd culled of trouble makers like Puller would have been.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the USAF and its pursuit of "fit to fight".  Once the shooting started, the USAF wanted its men and women to be able to do the same things physically as the Army and Marine Corps.  So that USAF added push-ups and sit-ups to its physical fitness assessment starting in 2003 or so which was supposed to get its airmen in shape to fight terrorism.

Fair enough, dragging equipment out to the flight line and repairing aircraft in 120 degree requires a level of fitness beyond just being able to run 1.5 miles (the old USAF physical fitness standard).  The previous physical fitness standard in the USAF lacked a component to measure upper body strength and core strength but it did include height and weight standards.  Adding the push-ups and sit-ups was a much needed addition, however that wasn't enough for the data-driven future generals in the USAF.

USAF officers by a wide margin hold engineering degrees or at least technical degrees meaning they are predisposed to data and numbers.  Simply adding push-ups and sit-ups could not possible guarantee a process improvement that could be measured so some nameless officer (I truly don't know who otherwise they would be named here) decided the Body Mass Index (BMI) must be incorporated as well.

And that ladies and gentlemen is when the USAF truly went to hell.  BMI is derived from the height and body mass of a person.  The inclusion of the BMI was supposed to be that process improvement that the engineering types were looking for but instead, it has created a culture of witch-hunts for those who can't pass the BMI.

BMI has a major flaw in that it only looks at height and mass, it assumes all body types are the same.  Therefor if you have narrow shoulders and wide hips (as most women do), BMI will still show you as obese when you otherwise height and weight proportional and able to pass your physical fitness test.  For men it rewards those with thick necks and tiny waists, otherwise BMI will show most men, regardless of their level of physical fitness, to be "obese" and thus not fit to fight.

This is why the headline, "Military Obesity Rates Skyrocket", is both correct and misleading.  Obesity rates have skyrocketed as a result of the use of the BMI and why women and minorities in particular are challenged to make their tape.  Obesity rates are skyrocketing because of the generals, and those that want to be, embracing the BMI without regard to basic anatomy.

The USAF generals have run commanders and first sergeants into the ground about how well their unit does in their annual physical fitness assessments.  Forget the mission, we need to be lean mean fighting machines (even though most USAF jobs are located on a fixed based, requiring less physical stamina that those in the Army or Marine Corps).  This has created a culture of men and women that are constantly harassed about making their weight (in addition to stress associated with deploying and getting ready to deploy).

Without realizing it, the USAF has now become about looking good instead of doing good on your job.  The generals all look good and can write letters, just as Chesty Puller pointed out, yet they can't lead.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

New Cold War?

The following rant has been gestating in my mind for some time.  Events in the news make me even more convinced than ever of the truth of the fact the war is a racket.

Now I'm not the first to come to that conclusion, nor am I the first to use that term (Maj Gen Smedley Butler, USMC wrote a book by that title 81 years ago).  What MG Butler discovered after fighting in the Spanish American war was that military operations were not really about winning as much as they are about profits, profits which benefit only a small, secretive group hence his use of the term "racket".

Since then, matters have only gotten worse.  By the time the F-35 comes on-line with the Air Force, Navy and Marines the program will have cost $1trillion dollars!  How can such gross mishandling continue without some kind of intervention?  Easy, Lockheed Martin insured that the components of the F-35 were dispersed over 46 states.  Even Bernie Saunders is a supporter.

But what is a weapons system without a threat?  Hence the change in US relations with Russia and China (and now even Iran).  The F-35, it is argued, is needed to maintain air superiority against an revanchist Russia.  Of course those making those claims conveniently forget it was the US that called for expansion of NATO by adding pretty much all of the former Warsaw Pact nations.

Global Research did a pretty job of analyzing all of this as well.  Don't be fooled, neither Trump nor Hillary are going to change any of this as there is simply too much money to be made.  A new Cold War is just what the doctor ordered for creating jobs in districts of those politicians needed to pass key legislation.  Regardless of who wins the White House, they will still be beholding to the military-industial complex.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

DHS Eyes Special Declaration to take Over Elections

The Washington Examiner ran this story the other day, "DHS Eyes Special Declaration to Take Charge of Elections".  The tabloid nature of the news site should cause one to examine carefully what is being reported, however the main points of the story are still alarming.

As we have seen repeatedly during this election cycle, politicians and political parties are having their computers and accounts regularly hacked.  Back 2010, Wikileaks became infamous for releasing US State Department classified documents.  Our belief that our networks are secure is often times more myth than fact.

Heading into one of the most tumultuous Presidential elections in history, the potential to alter election results by some outside group is too tempting.  The US public is already at each other's throats over everything from who is running for President to whether or not an NFL quarterback should be fired over not standing for the national anthem.

For those who may have forgotten, if an attack were to alter elections results it would not be the first time the Presidential election process faced scandal.  Remember the hanging chads of the 2000 election in Florida?  As a result of that election, more electronic voting measures were adopted through the country, which means even more systems are vulnerable to a cyber attack.

Which brings up two very different issues about the Washington Examiner story, first of course is what if anything can be done to insure the 9,000 different voting districts are secure from attack?  The second is, should that responsibility be placed in the hands of DHS?

The election process of the US is run either by the state or county (as it is here in Ohio), not the federal government.  This is how it is framed in the US Constitution is gives us our republic form of government.  Changing that is way beyond the scope of the 60 plus days before the election and would represent a huge increase in the power of the federal government over the states.  Should a change happen, Washington then could null and void any election they deemed fraudulent.

Even if no changes were made to how elections are done, then the other major question is why DHS (which is really an amalgamation of 7 different federal agencies hurriedly slammed together after 9-11) suited to deal with this threat?  According to the article, there are 9,000 different voting districts in the US and there is only really 2 months left before the election.  DHS is hardly the most nimble federal agency and lacks the necessary manpower and equipment to take on such a huge task.

The dual-edged sword of the 21st Century is that technology flows information around globally, which requires networks to be open enough to allow that flow of information.  And that is all the hackers need to get in.

All of those voting districts are at the county level which already challenged dealing with preventing voter fraud.  To further challenge them to harden their systems against cyber attack (especially in 60 days) is beyond even the most affluent districts.  Compound that problem with the results having to be shared with the state board of elections (another point of vulnerability) and magnitude of the problem becomes apparent.

And this would be even if there wasn't such an emotional state surrounding the elections!  With tempers running hot, no one wants to see the other guy even get close to winning.  A few well placed cyber attacks to call into question the results and hell will be break lose.

Yes folks, we have a big problem but DHS is not the answer.

Update:  Since I posted this entry, US News published a very interesting article on what might happen should a candidate die.  Why this article is so interesting is it details how the electors of the Electoral College are not bound to vote according to their state's results.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kaepernick

Picture credit: NYDaily News

For some reason, this guy gets criticized, called names, told to leave the country by people who proudly wear this


Whether you agree with Colin Kaepernick or not, he is doing the very thing that we claim to celebrate in the United States…the right to protest that which we don't agree with.  Kaepernick isn't calling for violence or more shootings, he is merely using his status as an NFL quarterback to call attention to an issue that he feels very strongly about despite the potential of injury to his career, endorsement deals or even his own personal safety.  How more American can you get?

It shows you how narrow the view of "patriotism" has become in this country.  Anyone not fitting that "mom and apple pie" type of patriotism is subject to scorn and ridicule.  

Gabby Douglas is vilified for not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem, yet Ryan Lochte lies to authorities and ends up getting two other swimmers arrested but hardly a word is said about him.

As someone who proudly wore the uniform of the US military for 22 years and was in two wars, I respect my country and am a patriot but I do feel compelled to vilify someone for falling to cover their heart during the national anthem.  Anybody, including our nation's enemies, can stand and cover their heart during the national anthem so why get so bent out of shape when someone forgets to?

Obviously Kaepernick is sitting intentionally to bring attention to blacks being killed by cops.  For some reason, Kaepernick isn't allowed to protest in his own way an issue that is dividing this country.  For all of the supposed cop supporters, I have yet to see any calling for a dialog to de-escalate the situation.  

Critics point out that more blacks are killed by blacks than cops or that more whites are killed by cops.  But what does that have to do with the original issue, the one Kaepernick is protesting, that if you are black and encounter a police officer there is a much greater risk that the encounter will turn deadly than if you are white?  

I'm not taking sides on the BLM issue or cops, what I am taking a side on is the Kaepernick is doing the very thing that other "patriots" have done and celebrated for.  For that he gets called a "piece of shit" by pro-cop supporters and "patriots"?  

No, Colin Kaepernick is very much a patriot (despite not standing for the national anthem) and if you are too deaf to hear what he is really saying because you are too busy calling him names, then you are the very reason he has to keep sitting.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

More nukes

The "information age" supposedly means that we have more access to information than ever before and coupled with high-speed WiFi, gigabytes of information can be had in seconds.  Yet, our attention spans are shorter than ever.  Most of the bandwidth in the this country is spent on streaming media such as movies/shows, sports or porn.  Given that, it may not be so surprising that most Americans have already forgotten that somewhere between 50-90 nuclear warheads could fall into the hands of ISIS.

US Nukes at Turkey Airbase Risk Falling Hands Terrorists

That headlines is from Newsweek, not some blog or fringe website.  Yet despite that, many Americans don't get that nuclear war maybe more likely that it ever was during the Cold War.  The Olympics, summer concerts, the riots in Milwaukee, or the latest celebrity scandal…take your pic.

The curious thing about the situation at Incirlik is the number of times I saw the term "B61 warhead" appearing in headlines.  I hadn't really heard or thought about this weapon since before I retired from the USAF nearly 10 years ago.  So why was this weapon suddenly appearing so much in the headlines?  I'm still working through that answer but in doing my research, I came across this headline...

US moves closer to production of 'smart' precision-guided nuke

Now the B61 should take on an even more significant spot in our national psyche as we continue to hold our noses over who we will vote for in the next election.  I've hear many critics point out that Trump's narcism makes him unstable and unpredictable, someone who should NOT have the ability to launch nuclear weapons.  Yet if you really get into the article, a precision guided nuclear weapon would be as equally tempting, if not more so, for Hillary.  She could easily justify the "greater good" of taking out a perceived threat with a surgical nuclei strike.

To complicate matters further, now Russia has not only based bombers in Iran but is using those to attack targets in Syria.

Syrian Conflict:  Russian bombers use Iran base for air strikes

While that means Syria is no longer enjoying a warm relationship with Russia, it also means that Hillary favorite for, Iran, now has mother Russia protecting its nuclear program.  Ah, and you thought those "smart" precision guide nukes were just for show!

Remember that the US military has been at war going on 15 years.  Troops are tired, equipment is worn out and needs to be replaced yet there is no money to do it so if the US were to get into some type of conflict with a nuclear power, smart precision guided nuclear weapons may become much palatable to use.

On and by the way, don't expect to be told the truth.  During the first Gulf War, a fuel-air-explosive was dropped on Iraq.  The explosion was so powerful the Russians swore the US had dropped a tactical nuclear weapon.  We hadn't but imagine in today's world…Hillary or Trump could easily claim that the explosion was due to some new conventional weapon and not a nuclear one.  And the media would play along.

So as Black Lives Matter scares black people of cops, and white people of black people, just remember…a nuclear war may just put all of those issues to rest.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

On decapitations and the status quo

Mr. Obama and his staff of intellectuals are pathologically against ever using terms such as "radical Islamist" or "Muslim terrorist" both because it is intellectually sloppy to use broad sweeping terms and because they still cling to the hope that matters can be settled through consensus.  It is the intellectual way to do things.

Even Mr. Bush was careful to never confuse the "war on terror" with a "war on Muslims".  Both Presidents realize that inciting a theologically based war would alienate millions and produce countless new groups bent on attacking the US and her allies.

But both Team Obama and Team Bush make a critical assumption that has been the bane of the West for the last several centuries; the Muslim world does not think in the same terms as the West.  Therefore, its citizens do not react in accordance with White House doctrine no matter how many think tanks and Ivy League scholars wish to tell them otherwise.

For despite the many number of attacks via suicide bomber and active shooter, the favored tactic for dispatching Western infidels is decapitation.  Daniel Pearl was one of the first people to be decapitated also was the first to be videotaped while being executed.  His case, and those that have since followed leading up to this week's decapitation of a French Catholic priest, should serve as proof that there is not going to be a peaceful consensus.

Decapitation derives from the Latin "caput" meaning head.  In the West, removing the head was for the most serious (capital) offenses.  The Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIS have all adopted this practice as a way of publicly decrying the seriousness of the offenses the West, and by extension Christianity, have inflicted upon them.  Washington DC may think by being polite and note using tens involving Islam or Muslim that are keeping things form getting personal.  Its a sham that isn't working and in my opinion is actually causing matters to escalate.

The terrorists are using decapitation to shock the public, when matter don't change, they look for more ways to increase the shock value.  I'm not sure how you get any more shocking than taking a priest and several nuns hostage during mass and then beheading the priest minutes later.

Young children and teenagers are seeing these images all over the Internet and are either becoming desensitized to the violence and/or sympathetic to the perpetrators.  The three-ring circus that we are still calling the Presidential election is not only alienating people from the political process, it may be encouraging isolated individuals to seek out other philosophies.

Last week, 19 people were killed in Japan by a lone individual armed with a knife.  In a country with a culture notoriously known for conformity, someone slipped right through the very system that was supposed to identify and help him.  If that can happen in Japan, it may already be too late for the US.  We no longer tolerate dissenting opinions, you have to be silenced and condemned for speaking out against the prevailing attitude.  This doesn't really change people, it just creates even more of a seething hatred for the majority.

England, France, Germany and Sweden have all had attacks perpetrated by immigrants.  Mr. Obama is not allowing any discussions linking increased immigrant populations to increased terrorist attacks.  Again he and his team appeared to be blind to the fact that immigrants are going to come here full of appreciation and love for the US.  Many will resent the West for creating chaos and destruction in their native lands and some, not all, may just want a little retribution.  To not recognize that possibility is just unrealistic and borderline irresponsible.

Hillary has yet to address this issue in any meaningful way and if she hopes to capture some hearts and minds of Republicans disillusioned with Trump, she need to do if you wants to be in the White House.  Trump's vitriolic tirades, unpolished and harsh though they may be, does address this issue which is why the Democratic party is left dumbfounded by his popularity.  This is not an endorsement of either candidate but rather to open some minds up to issues beyond egos and personalities.

Another major, brutal attack is going to happen because the US and Europe have done nothing to change the script.  Bombing the snot out of ISIS in Syria and Iraq does nothing about the threats already over here.  Whoever becomes the next President needs to have some better ideas.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Elections, Turks and Nukes

So much going on in the world right now.  The Republican National Convention managed to finish up lat week in Cleveland somehow without the Cuyahoga River being set on fire or more police being shot or more police shooting black people.  Well done Ohio, well done….

The Democratic National Convention may not fare as well, the DNC chairwoman had to summarily resign after emails were leaked showing she intentionally derailed Bernie Saunders.  Attendees all seem to hate Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Hillary and her VP running Time Kaine with equal hatred.  Not a lot of love going on the city of "Brotherly Love".

Ok, now that my obligatory smart-ass remarks about realpolitik are out of the way, I'd like to look at our misbegotten NATO ally…Turkey.

Mr. Obama supported Mr. Erdogan, he of the recent military coup attempt, and are rewarded by the lock-down of Incirlik AB…including the 3,000 US airmen stationed there.  Now the plot gets murkier, initial reports were that the families of those airmen had been safely evacuated.  Oh not so fast there Hondo…brand newly minted CoS of the USAF, Gen David Goldfein, didn't have a lot of answers for some very angry family members who claimed their non-military family members had most assuredly NOT been evacuated from Incirlik!

Run-roh Reorge….now its bad enough the US military personnel and their families are trapped on Incirlik but now comes the other issue.  See the US and Turkey have had this unusual relationship for years.  In exchange for allowing the US to stage B61 thermonuclear devices at the base (which may or may not still currently reside there…don't know, ask your member of Congress), the White House and State Department have turned a blind eye to many of Turkey's decided non-NATO tendencies (like trying to wipe out the Kurdish people).

In exchange for staging our air campaigns (first against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, now ISIS and Syria) the US has provided Turkey with F-16s and other high tech weapons.

US intelligence apparently failed to detect the coup attempt in time to evacuate personnel from Incirlik.  Worse, the B61 devices can't just be loaded on to any aircraft, so by the time the coup had occurred it was already too late to remove the nuclear devices.

Ah but now things get even more interesting.  For you see the B61 thermonuclear devices are a legacy of the Cold War, their presence at Incirlik can never be confirmed or denied.  For doing so would have tipped the strategic scales in favor of Moscow and might have caused the Kremlin to increase the presence of their nuclear devices in the region.

So now the US is faced with a dilemma, confirming the presence or absence of thermonuclear devices at Incirlik will create some unknown response from Mr. Putin (who already has no respect for Mr. Obama and company).  To confirm presence means destabilization and increased presence of modernized Russian nuclear weapons in the region; to confirm absence means Russia has free reign to move around the region as they see fit and NATO basically loses its eastern flank.

The farce of our Presidential Election process has further emboldened our enemies.  Race relations are at their worst since segregation.  If you were an attacking force, it doesn't take much at all to foment more hatred and chaos in the US.  If a civil war of even a moderate size were to break out, consider it an open invitation to run amok.  They wouldn't need to even invade, just surreptitiously feed both sides with arms and supplies and sit back.

Maybe we are already in the Walking Dead…..