"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Raise a Glass to Our United States Air Force!

I spend a great deal of time focusing on the failures of our service and those who populate its ranks.  I firmly believe that concentrating on successes and strengths, is an exercise meant to make a person feel good about his institution and is less useful when it comes to making that institution better.  The reality is that we have a great many serious challenges in this day and age, and we do have many who are in the business of defending our nation for the absolute wrong reasons.

But the Air Force does get it right, and there are great Americans in our ranks who do it right for the nation.  While we may be tempted to dismiss our service as populated with the self-serving, the reality is that there are great people who wear the uniform.  From all communities, and in senior leadership.

I could mention the anonymous person or persons, who did the the right thing by me, who no doubt felt some pressure and yet who had the courage to do their job professionally and objectively.  My ass was on the line after I took a serious stand, and I thought I was going to be hosed in a very real way.  But I was incorrect.  I wasn't the only person in the Air Force doing the right thing, and I will forever give thanks to the anonymous person who had the fortitude to do the right thing in my case.

Air Force members also did the right thing during two different processes involving a buddy of mine.  The first process was engaged to take his wings.  Those in the Air Force who made up the panel found for him.  The second and later process was to kick him out of the Air Force despite the first process.  Again, those in the Air Force did the right thing and recognized the innocence of this great fighter pilot who not only served his country for nearly two decades in combat (being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross), but who also embodied the concept of "bromanship" - bending over backwards to help those coming up, of giving back, and who spent long hours at work to make his organization better.

What needs to be said more this Memorial Day, is that the Air Force does work.  It's no absolute, and there are plenty of counter examples.  But if airmen have the courage to do the right thing, the Air Force is populated by other good people who will do the right thing in many cases.  And for that, our service should be commended.

So despite the bad press, the many challenges, and the many failures, I will spend this Memorial Day in Air Force Blue celebrating the greatest and most lethal military organization to ever exist.  I will raise a glass to John Boyd, Robin Olds, Hap Arnold, Billy Mitchell, General Fogleman and others who risked themselves to make our service better.  But above all, I will raise a glass to the United States Air Force.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Into the Mouth of the Domestic Cat

Congratulations buddy.  Few of us have flown into the mouth of the cat, and survived.  Even fewer have flown into the mouth of the domestic cat, and come out on the other side.

We survived to fight another day though.  And we've proved that the Air Force does the right thing from time to time.  I am proud to see Air Force processes work correctly yet again.  These are war stories we need to get out to the youngsters, so they'll know they can stand up with courage, and that the Air Force may very well ultimately do right by them.  Good on our service for doing the right thing ultimately.

"Hold your breath.  Make a wish.  Count to three... Want to change the Air Force?  ....... [long pause, while the government issued pub flies to the back of the jet]...  There's nothing to it...."


Assassinating Americans & Memorial Day

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently admitted that the U.S. government has targeted and killed an American citizen using a drone strike, and has killed three other Americans, to include a sixteen year old boy, in similar drone strikes.  While President Obama has made comments and allusions to the drone program on different occasions over the years, some hail this White House approved admission as the first official admission by the government (it should be noted that the former Secretary of Defense previously admitted to targeting and killing an American citizen absent charge, trial, or due process).  The DOJ's legal rationale for the claimed power of the executive to kill American citizens who present no imminent threat (as in an actual imminent threat, and not the morally-bankrupt "imminent threat" concept that the DOJ has peddled), remains completely and utterly flawed to the point where its seriousness and honesty must be questioned.

The "official" news of the claimed power to assassinate Americans without charge or trial, on the President's say so alone, comes as we approach Memorial Day weekend.  A day when we honor the sacrifices of those Americans who gave everything to defend America, and gave all that they were able to give on behalf of their nation.  That certainly includes many who never served in the military, yet who risked greatly and also gave their last breaths to defend the greatest nation ever conceived, from those given the political and military power to make or deny its reality; great Americans like Dr. Martin Luther King, and other activists who took to the streets to demand their rights in the face of a violent government.  Yet more traditionally, this day of remembrance is reserved to honor those in the profession of arms.  Soldiers have died since man first inhabited this world, and those who have laid down their lives in the struggles of combat have been remembered and honored by every culture and nation that has ever existed on our planet.  Warriors have served for a variety of reasons, some forced to by a ruling class after being kidnapped, some out of ideological belief, others out of fear, and some simply for a paycheck or the hope of plunder.

Some very few have laid down their lives to defend liberty, and the rights of their neighbors, against the power-hungry immoral who would endeavor to enslave them from outside their borders, and even from within them.  The earliest American fighting men, and truly the greatest generation in all of American history, fought their own tyrannical government on American soil.  A government that wielded military violence against the colonial Americans and which was headed by a king who, as all kings do, claimed the power to execute his countrymen by his own decree, unshackled with any need for "due process" or evidence or a court of law.  A king gifted in politics, who would work to shape the opinions and justify his actions through the use of priests and other officials, but who ultimately chose to kill, or allowed to live by his "benevolent" grace, those beneath him who he ruled and taxed.

In World War II, another great generation of American fighting men took action in bloody operations against fascists in Germany and Italy.  Fascists who, as all fascists do, justified their wielding of military violence against their own countrymen with secular justifications, rather than a reference to the Divine Right of Kings.  King or fascist, of course, the result is the same; all power controlled by one man, with no greater power than the ability to execute your own countrymen on your whim alone.  The so called Greatest Generation of U.S. fighting men, bled the ground of Europe to restore the liberty of an immoral German population who shamefully allowed their own constitution to be desecrated in broad daylight in front of them, all the while claiming ignorance despite knowing the evil they were committing against their neighbors.  Brave American fighting men rescued this undeserving population from Adolf Hitler; a man who used the constitutional processes of Germany to slowly reduce the power of its version of Congress, and to funnel those powers into the executive office (while having the vision to do so even before he occupied that office himself), and finally to steer the parliament to "vote" to give up all of its power to the executive office in the name of emergency and national security risk.  As the population of the once lively Germany, with its debates and civil rights organizations and differing journals and lively discourse and free press began to turn, and eventually solidify, into a fascist dictatorship through constitutional means, it was brave American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen armed with their oaths to the Constitution and the liberty it enshrined, who rescued the German people from its fascist government.

Sadly, the noble who defend liberty and the rights of man against the violent oppressions of government, are few in the history of warfare.  Often those who choose the martial profession, do so simply for a paycheck, or out of some unintelligent and unexamined notion of being one of the good guys.  These pathetic creatures who often wrongly pass as noble fighting men in the public eye, do not deserve to be honored in the same breath as the one exhaled to recognize the courage and intelligence of warrior scholars who fought tyrannical kingly government during the American Revolution, and who fought tyrannical fascist government during World War II.  These military men, making up a great majority of our military today in my experience, deserve no honor this Memorial Day.  They are simply pawns collecting a paycheck, making career moves, thinking of themselves rather than their nation, who are unknowingly waiting to be used by a fascist government.  Like a ball at the top of a set of stairs offers potential energy to be converted into kinetic energy by any crown-wearing king who would give it a nudge, they stand ready to harm their nation and disgrace their uniforms like never before in American history.  They are unready.  They do not take our Constitution or their oaths seriously, and they do not have the character that our military places on posters and in recruiting commercials.  My experiences make me draw that uncomfortable conclusion.  I would love to be wrong, and perhaps I am.  Unfortunately I don't think that I am.

For those very few of you great Americans out there proudly serving America, ready to slaughter any enemy who would attack our nation, who took your oath seriously by studying our Constitution and who stand ready to refuse any unlawful order from those within our own borders, please enjoy this Memorial Day with your families.  You few are heroes and faithful public servants, and I'm proud to serve with you.