"...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, April 19, 2014

Air Force Poster Child Experiences Tyranny in America

I was moved watching Air Force Captain Nicolas Aquino's video above, where our United States Air Force had him make a video about the cyber warfare career field, and where he discussed how important freedom was to him.  He shares that he is a first generation American, and that his father was arrested by the military in Paraguay and his family was then exiled from the country.

The Naval Post Graduate student was living in Monterey, California when a neighbor called the police on him for "suspicious" activity.  The problem is Captain Aquino was on his own property, in his own house, when his suspicious activity was called into the police.

When the cop showed up, Captain Aquino identified himself, provided ID, and informed the officer that he lived in the house.  That didn't keep him from being taken to the ground in a choke hold by the cop, and it didn't keep Captain Aquino from later having a warrant for his arrest issued.

According to a local NBC affiliate, the sheriff's deputy reported that he subdued Captain Aquino because he was not being cooperative.  Aquino was then charged solely with "resisting arrest."  Tyranny in the modern police force can be easily seen by asking two simple questions.  Cooperating with what and why?  And resisting arrest for what?

A nation that empowers armed men to arrest anybody who doesn't cooperate with any demand, is not a free nation.  The sheriff wrote in his arrest report that he considered pulling his weapon on Captain Aquino.

Captain Aquino was told by the Naval Post Graduate School that he could not return to class until he got this matter sorted out with the local police.

I believe Captain Aquino is well on his way to learning that tyranny is alive and well in the United States, and that the evidence increasingly shows that we are not served and protected by our law enforcement or the men with guns to include our military, but rather we Americans are increasingly occupied by them.  We are an occupied people.

The good news?  Freedom, like the video above says, is not free.  It's not free because it takes great Americans and great officers to put skin in the game to continually earn it for themselves and for others.  I hope Captain Aquino is ready to go the distance, though if he does I predict he will learn about the character of his peers in uniform.  He will learn how his words are valued when they come to reinforcing the illusion of character, but if he continues to go the distance he will learn that making those words a reality is not condoned.  I hope I am wrong.

One thing I am sure he has learned, is how easy it is for the police state to leverage your military service against you, while they violate your rights.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Constituion in Crisis

With all the things going on today, this 1987 PBS piece from Bill Moyers, "The Secret Government: The Constitution in Crisis" is illuminating.  It's interesting to note how "The Enterprise" has grown.  While this video is well worth watching, I hope military officers will not throw up their hands.  Rather, I hope they will find the resolve to ensure that, unlike Lt Col Oliver North, they are steadfast to our Constitution and our nation rather than oath breakers who simply look like patriots when in uniform.

This video should be required for all military officers.  When those above, even the president, order you to violate the Constitution, you have a duty to disobey.

This lesson is more important today than it was in the 1980s.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Operation Just Kidding & Air Force Bankruptcy

UPDATE:  The Air Force was quick to do the right thing.  Good on our service leadership.

Reports are now flowing of multiple individuals who were granted early retirement (TERA) only to be told days later, that a mistake was made, and that they are not actually approved to retire after all.

This in the service that preaches people and resiliency, and excellence in all we do, and is struggling with suicide in the ranks.  The situation in the service has deteriorated to the point where normally risk averse people are screaming on social media and demanding accountability.  They are asking why nobody has been fired over the embarrassing force management incompetence.

The force management program was unleashed upon airmen immediately prior to the Christmas break.  Some thought the timing was a sick joke, but leadership explained it was done to give airmen the ability to share information with their families, and to be armed and able to make tough life decisions.

Since that initial release last year, the service has issued conflicting guidance, changed guidance, removed guidance and taken a "strategic pause."  In that time, airmen have been denied voluntary programs for spurious reasons.  For example, several continued majors with more than fifteen years have been told they were ineligible for TERA due to active duty service commitments, despite clear force management guidance that stated commitments and year groups did not apply to continued officers.

Most airmen, however, remain in the dark about their status as the service blows through deadline after deadline.

And now, after the pauses, the changes and the mayhem, Operation Just Kidding has been launched like a cherry on top of an incompetence sundae.  Airmen are being told that their retirement approvals were mistakes, and told they are no longer approved to retire.  One can only imagine the stress in their households.

The psychological roller coaster ride would likely rival Six Flags.

One lesson is no doubt clear to airmen.  Their service preaches excellence, but can't get basic bean counting right.  Their service preaches accountability and gives them an Article 15 for missing a doctor's appointment, but doesn't punish those in charge who damage mission and people for years to come.  The biggest lesson is that the Air Force cannot be trusted at its word, and you cannot take anything the service says, even the important stuff, at face value.

The incompetence is staggering.  The Air Force is legendary as the service of managers rather than combat leaders.  It's the home of bean counters.  Carl Builder describes the Air Force wing in the Pentagon as projecting almost corporate power similar to a Fortune 500 company.  And yet the service, armed with databases and codes and flags, and spreadsheet software is unable to make basic force management programs work.  Why is that?

As a side note, years ago I tackled a cultural comparison of Enron and the Air Force in my master's thesis.  It raises some interesting questions and is worth a read, I think.

I feel bad for the airmen and their families having to endure this goat rope.  But mostly I'm embarrassed and concerned.  I'm concerned, because this debacle has ensured skilled airmen will run for any door they think leads out of the service (even if it turns out to be an entrance into a labyrinth), and talent will gush from our ranks for decades.  Like a service in shock, where the blood gushes from the body leaving the remaining blood to try to keep vital organs from dying.

Sadly, what once used to be a "sinking ship" portrayal of only a particular squadron or two, is now the way many people paint the entire service.

People will not stay past their initial commitments, and this will lead to manning and capability challenges far into the future.

As people run for the doors, like creditors and investors running from Enron, the house of cards begins to crumble and the result is not good.

Good luck to airmen now and in the future.  I hope somebody in the chain agrees that telling people no, right after you told them yes, is absolutely unacceptable.  Reverse this.  Let them go then correct your vector and stop embarrassing us.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Insane Base Policy Endangers Service Members

Another tragedy unfolded at Fort Hood today, as one or more individuals with weapon(s) shot multiple individuals.  I don't know the details, the motivation, and I will not speculate.  I will, however, note that Fort Hood, like every military installation I have encountered, does not allow military members to carry weapons onto base in their vehicles.

This story demonstrates, as such shootings always do in "gun free" zones, the simple truth that criminals are not deterred with weapon bans.  When an active shooter situation occurs, such dangerous and backward policies only succeed in leaving innocent Americans disarmed and vulnerable.  Such ridiculous base policies nearly guarantee that the body count of dead and injured innocent Americans during such tragedies, will be higher than would be the case if service members could protect themselves when tragedy strikes.

It is incredibly unfortunate that Americans are not allowed to exercise their second amendment right to keep and bear arms, a right that shall not be infringed.  But it is a right infringed routinely in America.  Even for military members, engaged in the business of lethality and defending their nation.

Service members in Texas, like everybody else, can carry weapons in their vehicles anywhere in that state without so much as a permit or license.  But they must remember to take their constitutionally protected tools of defense out of their vehicles when they go to work to Fort Hood, or Randolph, or Lackland, or Dyess, or Laughlin, or Sheppard, or NAS Corpus Christi, and other locations across the nation.  They must then hope that they and their family members are not murdered by those who do not disarm when they go through the gate.

It is a sad irony that a military installation is so dangerous to innocent Americans.  Shelter in place is not a solution, anymore than a herd of antelope freezing deters a lion.  It is insane.

Policies that disarm service members and their families on military installations are stupid, unconstitutional, and life threatening.  They need to be ended immediately by every installation commander who cares about the lives of his or her service members and their families.

It's a real shame the first Fort Hood massacre didn't make that clear.