Wednesday, November 25, 2015


We all have biases, some of which were learned in geography class.  When most Americans learn about geography, the textbook has a map that looks something like this,

It is an unspoken message reaffirming that the US really is the center of the world.  This map is one found in countless US textbooks for school children but in addition to being ridiculously out of scale, it creates a geographical bias in our citizens.  Mr. Obama and his inept foreign policy staff are just as blind to this bias as are most Americans.  The geographical bias is also why most Americans don't understand just how dangerous the world became the other day.  Now look at this map,

Reality hasn't changed, just the focus point of the map.  If you study the map, you will see that unlike the US, Russia is surrounded by nations that have invaded it.  Here is a short list of countries that have invaded Russia or the Soviet Union;

1382 - Mongols (Golden Horde)
1571 - Crimea
1609 - Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
1707 - Sweden
1812 - France, Austria, Prussia
1854 - Britain and France
1904 - Japan
1915 - Germany, Austria-Hungary
1918- Allied Intervention in Russian Civil War (Britain, Canada, Japan, Greece, Poland, France,   Serbia, Romania, Italy, China, India and the United States)
1938 - Japan
1941 - Axis Powers (Nazi Germany, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Finland)

That's pretty much every country along Russia's border.  Unlike the watered-down, politically correct history that our common-core students are fed today, Russian school children are taught that most countries bode ill will towards mother Russia.  No one has learned that lesson better than Mr. Putin.

Turkey (which was the home of the Ottoman empire until the beginning of WWI) doesn't trust Russia anymore than Russian trusts the former Ottomans.  When the Su-24 flew into Turkish airspace, the Turks did not hesitate to shoot down the Russian jet, killing at least one crew member.  (According to Russian websites, the Turks also shot down a Russian helicopter sent in to rescue the down pilots.)

We are seeing a replay of Czarist Russia versus Ottoman Turkey played out against the Syrian war.  Mr. Putin's retaliation for the shoot down was swift and brutal.  Mr. Obama and his lackey Mr. Kerry are ill-equipped to deal with this situation because it deals with old wounds.  Worse, it is being played out against a background of the first caliphate being established in 14 centuries.  Mr. Putin is fighting for the safety of mother Russia and the Russians will view his actions in that way.

The Turks on the other hand have viewed Russia's increased military presence in their region with suspicion.  The lack of a hard-line response has convinced the Turks more than ever they are on their own.  Remembering that Turkey is still a NATO member, the real question then becomes what will the rest of NATO do should the Russians and Turks continue to shoot at one another?  Somehow Mr. Obama's determination to right the world through attending a summit on global warming in Paris seems even more out of step with reality than it did just 48 hours ago.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Food for thought today,

It is believed that in the midst of a fight, a bull can find his own area of safety in the arena. There he can reclaim his strength and power. This place and inner state are called his querencia. As long as the bull remains enraged and reactive, the matador is in charge. Yet when he finds querencia, he gathers his strength and loses his fear. From the matador’s perspective, at this point, the bull is truly dangerous, for he has tapped into his power.” ~Tara Brach, Ph.D.

It was kismet today that I should read that after hearing our President remind us not to panic during the holidays, to go about our days as normal but with a heightened since of vigilance.  That's how in Mr. Obama's mind we will defeat ISIS.  I have a problem with the sound-byte, self-help crap Mr. Obama put out today for while he is correct that we should continue to go about our day he cavalierly dismisses people's fears and offers no real suggestions for Americans.

Let's look at the recent Ronda Rousey fight for example.  For those that don't follow the UFC fighter, she was the undefeated bantam weight champion until last week.  Rousey was so dominant a fighter that no one, including herself, thought she could be beaten.  Lo and behold, an unknown fighter came along and not only defeated Rousey but literally put her in the hospital.

Rousey let Holly Holm, the fighter that won and is now the champion, take control of the fight.  She chased Holm around the ring for nearly 2 rounds, exhausting her energy while being unable to attack Holm.  Rousey let her rage and desperation take her away from her normal fighting strategy and straight into a devastating kick from Holm that broke Rousey's jaw and knocked her out.

Americans have become enraged and reactive of late, either because of the recent confrontations between police and black Americans or the attacks by ISIS.  Mr. Obama's comments completely ignore this reality and offer no chance for Americans to find their "querencia".

It is too easy to become convinced by news reports and social media that things are hopeless.  Worse no one is offering people something to do to counter these feelings other than Mr. Obama's patronizing remarks to go out and shop and enjoy some football games.  He is right that we can't let these events alter our lives but to pretend nothing is going on is ridiculous.

We have to accept that we cannot control anyone but ourselves.  Each of us has to find our "quenceria", a place of calmness where we can gather strength to fight what lies ahead of us.  This isn't some new age attempt to find "nirvana" but rather a practical application of what we all learned a long time ago in grade school.

Remember fire drills?  Teachers admonished us to remain calm and proceed quietly and in an orderly fashion to the outside.  The best way to survive an emergency is not to ignore it as Mr. Obama's comments suggest but remain calm and proceed in and orderly fashion.  Remain alert, remain vigilant but don't become so afraid or enraged that you react instead of acting with a purpose.  

I read an account of the Paris attacks where one young man watched as the attackers opened fire.  The young man became so terrified he decided to hide rather that try to fight.  To me, the terrorist won without even firing a shot at the young man.  The way to win against the terrorist is to arm yourself not with a knife or gun but with a resolve that "they" won't win.  Learn now how to quiet your fear and rage so that if you have to act, you act calmly but decisively so that "they" don't win.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Jingoists and altruists

The ISIS attack in Paris last Friday has already created a polarization of the American public over an event that just a few days ago had united so many.  The media is helping us to divide us further over the issue of Syrian refugees all the while avoiding terms that explain what is truly going on.

On one side, we have the jingoists who do not want any more refugees and are terrified that the US will be the next Western nation to suffer an attacks from ISIS.  In opposition to the jingoists, we have the altruists who feel we cannot ignore the plight of Syrian refugees for the sake of a potential threat.  The media, with much assist from Facebook and Twitter, are fanning these flames without any analysis of how we got here and where we may actually be heading.

The jingoists and the altruists are both right and wrong.  If we go back to Hurricane Katrina, we can see the dilemma of moving people from their home and plopping them into a different area.  Those "displaced citizens" (FEMA would not allow the term "refugee" to be used) found it difficult to assimilate into their new locations.  The food was different.  Even though they were Americans, the displace citizens found themselves separated by a common language.  Many had medical conditions or drug decencies but with no records or connections, they became frustrated and angry.  Finally most could not find work because they had no proof of their skills, education or work history (which had all been destroyed by the hurricane).

Imagine what Syrian refugees are going to face.  They will face all of the challenges as did those displaced by Katrina but with the added burden of being foreigners in a foreign land.  They are Muslim which makes it difficult to assimilated into any non-Muslim community.  Their diets are different and most American supermarkets don't sell foods familiar to them are that are consistent with Muslim practices.  As if all of this is not hard enough, they of course will have to deal with the bigotry, racism and fear of Americans who think all Muslims are terrorists.

Mr. Obama is trying to do the right thing in helping the refugees but the heavy-handed approach and secretive measures being taken show that Washington is once again about the create a bigger problem than it started with.  Case in point, when Salvadoran refugees where brought into the United States decided to locate them in one of the largest Hispanic communities in the West Coast…East Lost Angles.  What no one in Washington bothered to notice is that East LA is of Mexican descent who did not like the Salvadorans (much like Northerners look down on Southerners).  The Mexican gangs of East LA began to terrorize the Salvadoran refugees.  The corresponding backlash from the Salvadorans led to the creation of MS-13.

If the US does not learn from this example, we could see the same thing happen again with the Syrian refugees.  Even if none of the refugees are sympathetic to ISIS, the bigotry and lack of assimilation into their new communities will foster the same resentment amongst the refugees or their children that led to the creation of MS-13.

While the jingoists and altruists continue to attack one another, an inconvenient truth is going unaddressed.  The reason we have Syrian refugees in the first place is because Hillary, as the Secretary of State, convinced Mr. Obama to fan the flames of the Arab Spring and oust al-Asad from Syria. (I truly believe it was all Hillary which is why Mr. Obama is sticking his policy of taking more Syrian refugees in the face of withering opposition.  He feels responsible but can't admit that to the public.)

 Hillary foolishly thought that Syria would topple as quickly as the rest of Northern Africa.  But none of the other nations of North Africa had the backing of Russia and that miscalculation on her part has left the world with a much bigger problem than ISIS or Syrian refugees.

The jingoists have been celebrating the French and Russian airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria in retaliation for the Paris attack.  But what few in the West have noticed is Russia has upped their game.  Whereas the French and American airstrikes have been using fighters to drop bombs, the Russians have brought their Tu-95 Bear and Tu-160 Blackjack bombers out to drop bombs.  This is the first time, according to Sputnik News, the bombers have been used in combat.  To the casual observer, the deployment of old Soviet era bombers may not seem significant but their use parallels another time when a country in the midst of a civil like Syria reached out to another country with military might.

During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Spanish nationalists requested the support of Hitler's Nazi Germany, specifically the Luftwaffe.  Not only did Luftwaffe pilots move troops and supplies from Morocco to Spain, they also supported the Spanish Nationalists advance on Madrid and the Siege of Alcazar.  It is very likely that Hitler used this as way to distract other countries from the re-miitarization of Germany.  In supporting Spain, Hitler may have seen an opportunity to create another country friendly towards Nazi Germany that could be used in helping to disrupt France and Britain.  Hitler most likely used the involvement in the Spanish Civil War as a way of keeping Mussolini and Fascist Italy from being aligned with other western powers.

Looking back at the Spanish Civil War, it becomes more concerning how Russia has successfully increased its military might in the region under the pretense of fighting ISIS.  Russia is not supporting the US policy as much as it is supporting Syria.  Putin has successfully nullified Hillary's attempt to oust Asad and has now strongly allied Iran with Syria. Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry can't figure what to do next without making matters worse.  The Turks aren't blind to all of this and may end-up picking a fight with Syria and Russia, regardless of what NATO, the EU and the UN say.  It wouldn't take much for this to ignite a major conflict.

So the next time you feel like calling someone out because they don't share you view of how to treat the Syrian refugees, stop and think about what is really going on about you.  You might be then more tempted to hug your fellow American rather than call them names.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

An interesting week

A very interesting week to say the least.  First the US Navy fires two nuclear capable missiles off of the coast of Los Angeles.   A few days later, it is leaked that Russia has a nuclear-armed drone sub  that the  US Navy isn't certain they can detect.  Then a few days after that, we learn that the US Air Force is flying B-52s within 12 nautical miles of the contested Chinese islands.  The week ends with 138 killed in France by ISIS (using the old tried and true tactic of Kalashinkovs and bombs).  In response, France has sealed their borders.  Germany continues to erupt into violence over the huge influx of refugees.

Like most people, I stand with France during their time of trials and tribulations.  The fact that France, not Britain, has been the longest standing ally of the US gets over-looked sometimes due to the French proclivity since WWII not to always follow the same hard-line stance as the US and UK.  Nonetheless, the French have supported the US against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  The question now is will Mr. Obama finally denounce radical Islam?

Too many conservative pundits are quick to accuse Mr. Obama of a lack of action.  Quite on the contrary, Mr. Obama has demonstrated a decided trigger-happiness even Mr. Bush did not possess.  This is why I accuse Mr. Obama of being a wimp, he acts much like the kid that was picked-on in school who wakes up one day as an adult with the power he always dreamed of.  Just like a wimpy kid though, Mr. Obama reacts in wimpy little strikes thinking everyone will now fear him.  Instead, it just gives the bully more reasons to act out.

Everything this week is the result of Mr. Obama and his wimpy foreign policies.  He authorized the test firings as a show-of-force (not thinking it through that Russia will now have to up their game).  He ordered the B-52 overflights, triggering even more tension with China.  His failed policies with Syria led to the creation of ISIS.  His failed reaction to ISIS created the crisis in Syria leading to the flood of refugees in Europe that now are creating havoc.

The worst part though is how quickly everyone is likely to forget this when the elections happen next year.  Hillary was at the helm of the State Department when these debacles were sent into motion.  But just as the American public has already forgotten why the Black Lives Matter movement started, we will become focused on something else forgetting why 138 French lives were taken.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

State of the Air Force

The Air Force is the smallest is has been since it was first created nearly 70 years ago.  In addition to stop-loss, the Air Force recently has frozen any new civilian hires.  Facebook has been filled with images of signs at Base Exchanges encouraging prior-service personnel to consider rejoining.  As one four-star recently remarked, the Air Force is now almost too small to succeed.

There are many causes for the state of the Air Force today.  Too much emphasis on a corporate culture versus a true warrior culture.  Too much emphasis on "doing more with less" instead of adhering to the true mission values.  Too much emphasis on the latest gadgets over airmen.  Any of these warrants a separate essay as some other writers and bloggers have done.  For me, the state of the Air Force today begins with two men from two different eras, Curtis LeMay and Merrill McPeak.

Curtis LeMay saw the USAF having two distinct parts, strategic and tactical.  To LeMay, the strength of the USAF was in its ability to project power through long range, strategic strikes.  Two-thirds of the nuclear triad are controlled by the USAF and those two-thirds (ICBMs and manned-bombers) were the sole purview of Strategic Air Command (SAC).  SAC was the key in LeMay's mind to the whole reason the USAF existed as a separate service.  Even the Navy with its carrier battle groups and its ballistic missile submarines could not strike as quickly and deeply in enemy territory as could SAC assets.

So absolute was LeMay's belief in the superiority of strategic forces, he laid claim to the one other capability truly unique to the USAF, long range air-refueling.  By controlling the tanker fleet SAC held the rest of the Air Force, including the fighters of the Tactical Air Command (TAC) and air lifters of the Military Airlift Command (MAC), to their ops-tempo.

LeMay's view of the USAF created the need for large bases with large wings and lots of manpower to execute the mission.  The strategic/tactical USAF was a huge behemoth and as long as the Cold War went on, there was little reason for it to shrink. It would also be why the Base Realingment and Closure (BRAC) would years later have such a target rich environment.

The supremacy of strategic over tactical would continue to dominate Air Force doctrine long after LeMay's retirement as Chief of Staff in 1965.  But as often happens when you have a leader so absolute in his vision, his polar opposite is created in his midst.  The polar opposite to the LeMay US Air Force would be Merrill McPeak.

LeMay's strategic-centric Air Force would find its litmus test in Vietnam, at the same time a young Merrill McPeak flew fighters.  Instead of strategic airpower, air-to-air combat and close air support missions ruled the day.  For McPeak, he would see the world in a complete opposite to LeMay's.  Tactical aircraft, especially fighters, did the lion's share of the work in Vietnam, not the heavy manned bombers favored by LeMay.

McPeak's experiences in Vietnam caused him to resent and later rebuke the supremacy of SAC.  Especially egregious to McPeak was the dependency TAC had on SAC tankers.  In effect, TAC couldn't go anywhere without SAC's say so.  No tankers meant no long range deployments for the fast movers, something that ate at McPeak for his entire career.

Then two things happened to finally break LeMay's strategic versus tactical legacy.  The first was McPeak became Chief of Staff in October 1990.  McPeak also got to see his view of fighter-supremacy validated in Desert Storm (a nuanced interpretation since it bombing missions, not air-to-air, that made a quick victory possible).  The second event was the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.  With a Soviet power to prepare against, SAC lost relevancy.

McPeak may be remembered more for his hideous uniform redesign, which made every look like airline pilots, but his real legacy is his shift from the "strategic versus tactical" view of the world to "theater versus global".  McPeak renamed everything he could to get rid of the vestiges of the "strategic/tactical" Air Force of LeMay's era.  Instead, McPeak would introduce "theater" to replace "tactical" and "global" to replace "strategic".

Using different terms may seem trivial but to McPeak, it signified an order of magnitude shift in how the Air Force would function.  "Global" assets got the war fighters to the fight but it was the "theater" assets that would win the wars in the future.  Manned strategic bombers and nuclear ballistic missiles just didn't fit into this new paradigm and with the fall of the Soviet Union, why should they?

Fighters could deliver the precision bombing that the early bomber pilots of WWII and even Vietnam could only dream about.  McPeak represented what was often referred to as the "fighter mafia", those who knew their superiority based on the fact the flew fast-movers instead of slow-movers.  Nothing showed this bias more than when McPeak reinstated the leather flight jackets for aircrews but managed to not include rotary wing pilots (only they guys charged with picking-up the fast-movers when they got shot-down).

McPeak aped the corporate world and instituted "total quality management" (TQM) creating a whole subculture of trainers and facilitators to make the Air Force as efficient as corporate America.  As a result, each unit would have to develop a mission-statement.  Almost all of those mission statements had the words "world-class organization" or "global" in it.  Nowhere were the words "strategic" or "tactical"to be found.  The long range effect of this fascination with corporate America can be seen in the Air Force today.

Senior leaders are more bureaucrats than actual leaders of men and women.  There is no way a Curtis LeMay or Robin Olds would exist in today's Air Force.  Officers and NCOs have to plod through mind-numbing meetings under the pretense of developing "consensus" but in actuality, this meetings beat any innovation down and fosters group-think.

Look at the way the Air Force has reacted to sexual assault.  First it created another layer of bureaucracy of "coordinators" to run around and do briefings and conduct investigations.  Instead of making commanders and first sergeants more accountable, the Air Force has now broken the handling of sexual assault cases completely away from the chain of command.  This sounds good, even efficient, except it means the very people responsible for creating a culture that does not commit sexual assaults now have no vested interest in making sure their commands are successful.

All of this is occurring at a time when societal norms are chaining and more and more of the troops are suffering from PTSD.  Corporate America doesn't have to face these challenges while still flying jets and shooting the enemy.  But I digress, back to Lemay and his transformational language.

In eliminating all vestiges of LeMay's "strategic/tactical" vision, he unwittingly also started the demise of the Air Force by forgetting the one thing LeMay's vision understood.  The understanding by LeMay was that the Air Force was uniquely qualified to do something no other service could do.  McPeak's vision did not see a unique vision for the Air Force, instead by making the Air Force more corporate he de-emphasized the core mission of the service.

Why do I say that given that McPeak was first and foremost a fighter pilot (the warrior elite of the USAF)?  He emphasized corporate management techniques to the exclusion of developing a warrior ethos.  He rightly recognized the role of the Air Force in getting everyone to the fight but in so doing, he relegated the nuclear forces (the one thing the Air Force had that no one other than the Navy could do) to second-class status.  So would begin a slow descent into irrelevancy as we will see.

McPeak also took the tankers away from SAC (now renamed Strike Command) and placed them under Air Mobility Command (formerly MAC).  Tankers do provide some lift capability but their real role is allowing the Air Force to go anywhere by refueling aircraft.  Again a subtle change but one that added to making the Air Force less relevant.  Now the Air Force was becoming more about getting others to the fight and less about winning the fight.

The new, leaner Air Force was ripe for the BRAC commissions.  Big, Cold War era bases were scattered all over the world and big money could be saved by closing these facilities.  Unfortunately, it also meant the Air Force would start to get smaller as a result.  The world-class, global Air Force could do its job just fine, went the thinking, from stateside bases.  Fewer bases means fewer aircraft and fewer personnel.

McPeak's vision also fit nicely into the Clinton Administration's view of not actually waging war, just popping off a few cruise missiles whenever someone acted up.  If cruise missiles wouldn't do, you could just send a few fighters armed with precision weapons and do the same thing.  But wait, if unmanned missiles are just as successful (plus more cost-effective), why do you need manned aircraft?

The Global War on Terror would seem to be custom made for the post-McPeak Air Force.  Smaller, even more precise munitions had been develop allowing fewer aircraft to drop more ordnance, striking more targets per sortie.  Unmanned drones would first start by providing near continuous monitoring of the battlefield.  Then someone got the bright idea that if the drones could just shoot at the very things they were watching, that would be even more awesome!  Hence Predators and Reapers became the high-demand resources that Washington knows and loves.

In unmanned aerial vehicles McPeak's was vision of a lean, global reach power never better realized.  The Air Force could be on call 24/7, 356 days a year, without the need for the massive bases of the LeMay era.  Drone operators can operate from stateside bases with only the need for a minimal runway and maintenance facility for the drones to operate from.  Bases now could be smaller requiring fewer people.  Lean and efficient, just like the way corporations downsize to improve their bottom line.

Unfortunately the new leaner, more efficient Air Force is no longer unique amongst the services.  The end-strength of the Air Force today is the same as the US Marine Corps (which is not a separate service).  All branches of the US military operate drones so the justification to keep a separate branch is eroding.  Oh wait, the Air Force still flies fighters!  Air Force senior leaders are finally admitting that there are not enough F-22s and the F-35 is costing too much that there won't be enough to replace the legacy fleet.  The woes of the F-35 just keep coming such as requiring 27 hours of maintenance for every 1 hour of flight time and that's just routine maintenance.  That means even when all of the F-35s are fielded they will spend more time in the hangar than in flight.

The Air Force has in the meantime ignore its other assets.  It has taken years to get the new tanker designed and approved (after many scandals).  The C-17 is being flown into an early retirement with no new long range airlifter in sight.  The mighty A-10, the darling of the ground forces, is being forced into retirement with no replacement in sight (no, the F-35 can't do the same job).

Now we come full circle to LeMay, the US Air Force nuclear forces.  Scandals have plagued the long-forgotten missile wings.  Missile launch officers were discovered to be cheating on the proficiency tests on a large scale.  Bombers have been flown with armed nuclear missiles by accident and with no one realizing it until the aircraft had landed.  But perhaps the most egregious sin of all is that we have pilots now flying our primary bomber, the B-52, who are the grandsons of the first crews.  The B-52 is not scheduled to be retired anytime soon which means soon the great grandsons of the original crews could be piloting the great grandfathers.

There are no more LeMays or even McPeaks in the Air Force any longer.  A combination of the consensus-builing bureaucracy along with the current White House that has fired any four-star that doesn't agree with Mr. Obama has created this void.  With no real leaders left, and an environment the cannot produce any, the Air Force will most likely by brought back under the US Army.  It would make lean and efficient sense.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Migrant crisis pushing Germany towards ‘anarchy and civil war’

According to RT, things are not going well in Germany with the influx of immigrants fleeing the war in the Middle East (Article).  Granted RT takes a dim view of US foreign policy at the best of times, but this article should raise some eyebrows on this side of the Atlantic as well.

The immigrants currently flooding into Germany and Austria is a result of the failed Obama policy (with respect to Iraq and Syria) to erase the failed Bush policy (in respect to Iraq).  Austrians have become so alarmed that there has been a run on gun stores to buy shotguns (which don't require a permit) in reaction to the influx of immigrants (actually refugees but we don't seem to make that distinction anymore) into their country.  Hungary has completely shut their borders down with a wall (hmm?  Where have I heard of building a wall before?).

The US wants to take in one million refugees, somehow expecting this to NOT create a similar situation here.  No one seems to want to ask another question, such as why are the majority of the refugees male?  We are always looking for the next 9/11 type of attack but in reality, flooding a country with refugees (who may or may not also be part of ISIS) is a low tech way of breaking a country but overwhelming its infrastructure.

While this nonsense is playing out, Mr. Obama took at moment out from attending a Broadway play to criticize the whining of the GOP over the way CNBC moderated the debates.  "If you can't handle moderators, you aren't going to be able to handle the Russians," Mr. Obama smugly quipped seeming to forget how his disastrous policy with Russia and Syria has only made matters worse.  Mr. Obama's inept way of "arming" Syrian resistance fighters (who I ask again, aren't they the same as ISIS?) has only made ISIS one of the best equipped forces on the battlefield.

Now if Germany ends up in a civil war, what does that mean to the EU economy?  Mr. Obama is too busy pretending that he isn't a wimp to realize he has set in motion a likely scenario for WWIII.  Russia and Iran are now working together better than before and Obama wants to play navy war games with China.  Ugh!