"...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

Thursday, October 30, 2014


"We make war that we may live in peace."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

PYB Described as a "Constitutional Jesus"

It was meant as an insult, but it was taken as a compliment.

In the past several days, out in the military social media sphere, an online forum has taken on the question of its relevancy and decline.  Tony Carr provided some input, and that was translated into a thread on the forum by one of its participants.  It did not take long for your humble blogger to be accused of bringing up the issue on that forum, despite my not participating in that forum.  If a minority viewpoint pops up talking about fidelity to our oath, the person is assumed to be me under a new account, and they become a target.  As do I by non-existent association.

So the discussion turned to PYB with the usual vitriol against me for having a differing opinion and challenging other officers to take public service seriously.  The vitriol is standard for an officer who crosses the thick blue line.

Yesterday, one of the board's participants called me a "Constitutional Jesus" and another member, an officer I have flown numerous combat missions with, highlighted this phrase as being a particularly "awesome" description of me.  I do appreciate the compliment, though I don't think my level of sacrifice merits it by a country mile.  Jesus was nothing, if not a symbol of sacrifice for others.  Faithful public servants are nothing, if not willing to risk and sacrifice for their nation's defense.

Why, however, was that compliment meant as an insult?  Why is the spirit of public service, of risking to protect the rights of your countrymen after swearing before God to do so, and getting paid to do so, such a laughable matter worthy of insult?  Why is putting yourself in a position to be spat upon, to be ridiculed, in order to hopefully mentor and reach just one of the olive drab masses, something humorous?

Spoo and I had a long discussion the other night about this idea of public service.  I mentioned how after our combat adventures together, I had volunteered for the worst assignment imaginable to spend my last five years in a less than stellar location, performing a less than stellar mission, because it was important to the nation and because my volunteering might save a newly minted pilot from getting tagged with the assignment while carrying a ten year commitment ball and chain.  We discussed the unlawful order I refused, which he was aware of, and how I tendered the resignation of my commission (which fortunately was not accepted) and how I was willing to lose every financial benefit I had worked for over more than fifteen years.  And perhaps take with me a felony for life, for refusing to violate the law.  We talked about the need to be willing to risk your life, your career, and your convenience to defend this nation and make good on our oaths.

We flew missions together in combat.  We got shot at together in the box.  He has put it on the line overseas.  But I am puzzled by his disdain for risk, courage, and sacrifice here at home and I'm sad that in my experience he is representative of our service's officer corps in the matter.  It's a dichotomy that has been written about in military journals, and it is one that I believe is frighteningly relevant to our national security.

Why is the spirit of public service, service before self, sacrifice for the nation, now a laughing matter that invites insult?

I think Spoo has touched on the key point in this disagreement in the blogosphere.  Perhaps we can learn what it means to be professional fighting men and women from a few of our Army brethren.  It's important that we figure it out.  Preferably before the twenty year mark, if at all possible.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mentoring is Hard Work - Thankless, but Important

I'm sure Colonel John Boyd knew that.  Lateral mentoring and upward mentoring can be tough.  These days, it seems mentoring is something that is done with the focus being almost entirely on getting promoted, checking boxes, getting school slots and all things careerist.  That's not real mentoring.

Not by a BVR long shot.  Real mentoring is centered on helping others be better at their jobs, not helping them understand the nooks and crannies of the promotion system.  Sadly, many today think their job is to get promoted.  They may rationalize their self over service with some silly notion that they can do more good once they get to some undefined position, but that is just a campaign speech statement.  They know they are only in it for themselves.  And when such recipients of public service feedback are of low character, and steeped in prioritizing their career and advancement over being good at their jobs, then it becomes a bit of a challenge.  Such mentorship is not valued by yes-men who do not actually care about serving their nation and strengthening the defense of America.  That kind of mentoring can cause some friction, a war of words, and political and social rivalry.

Colonel Boyd would know what I'm talking about.  Such rivalry from inferiors, I have no doubt, is a large part of the reason Boyd's peers called him the "Mad Major" and described him as being crazy, nuts, and insane.  A quick Google search turns up all kinds of such descriptors.  The Big Blue institution didn't like him, and his peers most certainly did not, either.  But he made the Air Force better and he strengthened America way beyond anything done by his peers who were talking about OPRs and PRFs.  And the Marine Corps loved him, God bless em', and honored him with a statue in their museum at Quantico.

He was superior, and his OODA loop was faster.  How frustrating that must be for the enemy.

I remember having this discussion at length with the late Ed Rasimus, legendary fighter pilot.  Ed couldn't stand John Boyd, and his disdain for him was puzzling to me.  I later understood the reason for the disdain.

I personally admire John Boyd, as do many others who can publicly do so now that it does not cost them a social or professional price.  Boyd was not only intelligent, but he was honest and he was fearless.  He would mentor laterally and up the chain.  He was right, he was better, and what he was saying was important.  "Peers" and "superiors" do not like to face that kind of challenge to their thin skins, however, and they do not like having a mirror showing them their own poor reflections.  John Boyd was a mirror.

Rather, they want to focus on the trivial things like a dumb sorority girl might.  How was his bar game?  Do we like him?  Is he a bro?  "No, he isn't enough like us, oh my god, he's like, like so different."

He wasn't a bro.  He was a military officer who took seriously the defense of those who paid him to defend them.  And that's just not cool with the "bros" who, despite being inferior officers, somehow instantaneously pick up a medical/psychology degree and miraculously become qualified to call their betters (like John Boyd) crazy, or insane, or mad.

America needs more like The Mad Major.  And the Air Force could use a great deal fewer officers who act like sorority girls, after being rejected by them in college.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Disgracing Rich's Hard Work - Discussion in Decline

I'm not going to sully this blog by posting a response to GearPig, here.

With one exception.  I will say thanks for the link to my thesis, The Smartest Guys in the Room and the Best of the Best.  How incredibly relevant that thesis is to this very discussion, and how ironic.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Home - After a Life on Layaway

I am nearing retirement after two decades of weary public service.  For the first ten years I lived very frugally.  For the second ten years, my wife and I lived relatively frugally.  I say relatively frugally, because despite my living arrangements being cheap, my wife has had to maintain a separate place due to her job.  Ten years of long distance marriage present some challenges.  First world problems certainly.

But my life has been a life on layaway.  I grew up living almost entirely in mobile homes and, even during my military career, much of my time was spent living in a trailer.  When my wife and I met (she was my squadron's intelligence officer) and after I convinced her to move in with me, she joined me in a mobile home in Florida.  Purchased for a mere seven thousand dollars, and later sold for the same amount.  At a later duty station, she would spend part of her time with me in a different mobile home.  We still own that trailer.

A life on layaway.

It's almost time to realize our investment, after many years of paying our monthly allotment to the person behind the counter at the back of the proverbial K-Mart.  As a military dependent myself, finally nearing retirement from the military, and after more than ten years of long distance marriage....I cannot wait to lay down roots, and for once, finally, get to really know this idea of "home."

Even before we bought this condo we intend to retire to, we knew the importance of defending home.  And we did.

Soon we hope to enjoy it.  After many years of a life on layaway.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Stress of Foreign vs Domestic Battle

My career can be neatly divided into two parts.  The first ten years were spent in combat operations, while the second ten are better characterized by battling for the integrity of good government.  Oddly enough, the last ten years have been the most difficult and stressful of my career.

This may partly be due to air power and the relative safety of altitude.  My time in combat was spent trying to protect the guys on the ground who were truly in combat, and therefore my experience of war is limited.  In my first ten years I had one deployment flying missions into Bosnia, and eight deployments flying missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I flew a dangerous mission on the first night of OIF, and got to experience being shot at by SCUD missiles while making my way to the aircraft in chemical ensemble, only to hours later be shot at while in the air.  We were all familiar with the fate of Spirit 03, and we all knew that our community had lost more people than any other during the first war in Iraq.  We were all familiar with that piece of history.  Later in the war, I got to experience the blast wave of a mortar that exploded on the open airfield yards away from me and my crew, much closer than the typical nightly mortar barrage.  The toughest part of war was witnessing great Americans wounded and killed in combat, and being unable to stop it.  Fortunately that was exceedingly rare when we were overhead.  And thankfully, I was able to play a role in saving American lives and removing our enemy from the battlefield in a very direct manner.

In total, I spent more than two years in combat operations overseas.  But my domestic battles best characterize my service to this nation.

The last ten years, outside of remote combat operations, have not involved combat and have instead been spent defending the Constitution and myself from bad government.  Sometimes people will hear me rant about our rights and the importance of defending them, and will ask me how I can be a part of government when I hate government so much.  I explain to them that I do not hate government.  Rather, I hate bad government, and I am a part of good government.  In the past ten years I have spent a great deal of my time and my personal wealth, supporting and defending the Constitution against domestic enemies.  This has included a lawsuit against a police officer who unlawfully pulled me over and arrested me, and who lied in his attempt to justify his unlawful actions.  It has also included my refusal of a deadly serious unconstitutional order, and having to face removal from the service with more than fifteen years in uniform, even after tendering the resignation of my commission.  And it has included a lawsuit against Border Patrol agents who violated the fourth amendment, and who contacted the military to cause damage to my career through their false claims.  The uncertainty of keeping my job after refusing to commit treason, having my loyalty challenged by those without a single shred of loyalty to the American people, and having to change retirement plans in order to pay legal bills, has taken a toll.  Much more than being shot at.  But such is the life of a faithful public servant who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution and bear true faith and allegiance to it.  Nobody said it would be easy, and as I have learned, faithful public service ain't no chump game.

The several videos in the playlist above detail my latest act of service, a battle fought within our third branch of government, via Rynearson v. United States of America, et al.  I still find it odd to read the title of the lawsuit.  As far as I'm concerned, I am acting on behalf of the United States of America, not against it.

I am good government trying to correct bad government.

That is a difficult task.  Fortunately, I learned from previous experiences and began recording my interactions with law enforcement and even those in my line of work when they gave me reason to doubt their integrity.  I can prove the truth of events in this latest fight.  Now, I simply need good government to hold bad government accountable, and to uphold our law and give it teeth.  It's stressful waiting on good government to do right by the nation.  Good government and accountability are so rare, and yet faithful public service is incredibly vital to our nation.

Fighting against domestic enemies of our constitution is done with words, money, community and creativity, rather than with the bullets and bombs used against foreign enemies.  But, in my limited experience, these domestic battles can leave far more painful scars.  We expect our foreign enemies to do us damage.  But it really hurts when those among us, those who we pay to protect our rights, do more damage to us and our constitution than a foreign enemy ever could.  That truly hurts.  And it makes the memories of brothers who have fallen on foreign lands, that much more painful as the value of their sacrifice seems less clearly established.

As public servants, we can never allow ourselves to be on the wrong side.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Drones by Shakespeare

It is only comedy that can even broach the most important topic of our day, and of our nation's history.  Only comedy.  Like Shakespeare in his days, it was only actors and jugglers and entertainers who could challenge the monarchy.  Words were the weapon of the day.  They still are.

Words must be destroyed, if law is to be destroyed.  If rights codified into law are to be overcome by tyrannical forces, then words must be vanquished.  We have seen this several times in recent history.

Notice in the video above, the Department of Justice's explanation of what an "imminent threat" means, in order to justify assassinating Americans without due process, in violation of our Constitution's clear words.

Or as Shakesepare said in King Henry the Fourth Part I:
Supposition all our lives shall be stuck full of eyes; For treason is but trusted like the fox, Who, ne'er so tame, so cherished and locked up, Will have a wild trick of his ancestors.
It is so very sad that Shakespeare tells this tale of Americans being murdered by Kings upon their whim alone, without evidence or a jury of peers or any of those old-fashioned rights secured through bloodshed and sacrifice so long ago.  It's a sad tale. 

It is far more sad that his audience couldn't care less.  They have fantasy football picks to make.  Let the show go on.