The Presidency is not for Amateurs


Until the most recent presidential election, this country has never had a president who had absolutely no experience working within the government. Lincoln is the closest be he did hold a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives and was a captain in the state’s militia. Trump, however has had no such experience what-so-ever and it is beginning to show in spades.

Our country has had several presidents who held no previous elective offices but all were army generals. Two, Polk and Grant, were no good as president and served just a single term. But even they had some understanding of the nuances of governing. Historically, flag officers, generals and admirals, have had to deal with politicians if only to promote a part of the military needing funding or other political favor. As an aside, of the 44 individuals who have served as president, only 13 had no military service. But of those 13, FDR had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and William Howard Taft served as Secretary of War.

In the 19th Century and into the beginning of the 20th Century, our country was isolationist. We were far more worried about what was happening on the home front than on being a force, either economically of militarily, on the world scene. World War 1 brought us part way out of that malaise, and World War 2 ended any lingering effects of isolationism. The United States had become a world leader first militarily and then economically. And since 1945, our responsibilities in both areas have steadily increased to where the rest of the world, even those countries who do not like us, look closely at what we do. This is particularly true of our economic and military partners.

President Trump just showed on the world’s stage how ill-suited he is for the job of president. He took a victory lap for landing a billion-dollar military deal claiming it will mean jobs for Americans. It may mean a few jobs, but the truth is, the contracts will be for equipment American companies are already producing and those companies are not likely to find the need to add many, if any, new employment positions. But Trump missed the more important deal to be had. Saudi Arabia flatly refused to put sanctions on ISIS groups existing within its own borders. Trump’s move was to leave the country with no military deal. For all his bluster about getting tough on ISIS, when the first chance for him to back up his rhetoric, he cowered. He seemed to forget that Saudi Arabia needs us more than we need it.

We live in an extremely dangerous world. There is no shortage of governments who want to take shots at the United States. Iran, North Korea, Russia, China and a number of other countries are not our allies and each has been known to give aid to terrorists. And while we have been able to clamp down on Iran and have decent trade pacts with China, neither of these countries would come to our aid.

The middle east is likely to remain unstable for years, if not decades, to come. Extremist groups in middle eastern and central Asia are not likely to be neutralized any time soon as can been seen in Afghanistan. But a more present danger lies in North Korea. The North Korean leader seems hell-bent on creating a war in his region. The peace that has been experienced on the Korean peninsula has been a tenuous one at best since 1953. One of our staunchest allies is South Korea but even with the tensions that exist there now, President Trump has not seen fit to schedule a visit. Why?

Not far from Korea is a long-time friend we are fast losing, the Philippines. I had the chance to talk to a well-educated Filipino recently and he informed me that even though his country has begged the United States for assistance militarily, none has been given. There is an insurgency in that country that if successful would put the Philippines at odds with U.S interests. My fear is that since the Philippines do not present the military or economic power to gain front page news, something negative will happen there if we do not treat them respectfully, recognize their difficulties and work with them for a resolution.

The Presidency is not place for amateurs and yet that is exactly what we have there now. He has surrounded himself with his billionaire friends who also have no government experience. The American people should consider this to be a most troubling of the Trump regime. Is difficult to navigate a mine field when you know what you are doing and impossible when you do not.

Despotic Donald: The Ultimate Narcissist


Let me start by telling you that I have over 30 years of service in the federal government, am now retired.  I spent the first almost 11 years of that service as a member of the U.S. Army on active duty: 1968 – 1979.  Then from 1987 – 2007 I was a systems analyst/computer specialist for the U.S. Department of transportation.  I mention this to validate what I know from experience within the government.

I have listened very carefully to Donald Trump and two things occur to me, both scary.  He is an absolute narcissist.  A narcissist cannot image that anything he says or does is wrong.  He believes that he is always misunderstood when people try to correct him.  But worst of all, a powerful narcissist, as Trump is, feels he can do just about anything with impunity; he believes he is above the law, that he has certain privileges that set him apart from most everyone else.  And as a despot, he wields his power without an sense of responsibility when things go wrong.  In his case, he does not feel stiffing people their wages when his companies went belly up is wrong.  And just last night (September 26), he thought the fact that he did not have to pay any income tax on over $600 million income meant he was smart.  Those were his words actually.  Had he paid only the 14% tax rate most of the middle class pays, he would have paid $84 million.  Don’t you think some school systems, some public health agencies, some poor municipality could have used that money?  It makes me wonder just how much income over the years he has paid nothing on.  And in that same sense, how many others do the same?  But that’s another subject.

Trump stated last night that he had been endorse but the Federal Agency ICE.  That is a very interesting statement since no agency, by law, can endorse or engage in any political activity.  And to do so would require action from that agency’s inspector general with possible criminal charges.  Every year I worked for the federal government I was required to attend ethics training and that is one subject, particularly during election years, that was emphasized.  It is a prohibited action.  I think more likely he got some official to say he is support Trump in his run.  But that official cannot say those words publicly as a member of ICE for to do so would “give the appearance of a conflict of interest,” very damning situation in the government.

Trump was born June 14, 1946 which means he was required in 1964 to register for the draft.  Curiously when he registered he was a student at the New York Military Academy, a military prep school.  I too went to a military prep school and I can tell you with certainty that a very large portion of my classmates went into the military.  We had 10 out of a class of 69 who went to one of the service academies, several others went to Virginia Military Institute and The Citadel.  We had a feeling of duty to our country.

Trump, like so many, got a college deferment while he attended Fordham University and after 2 years transferred to Penn.  That means he graduated in 1968, the height of the Vietnam war.  He did not continue on to grad school and probably would not have gotten a deferment had he, the exceptions were medical school and theological studies.  We know he is neither Dr. Donald nor Rev. Donald, so how did he avoid military service.  He was not married until 1977 so that was not it either.  He was quite the patriot!  What he was doing during the early 70s was using his family money to buy real estate, housing mainly.  It was also the first time, of many, that he was charged with “anti-black bias” in a suit brought by the Dept. of Justice.  In turn he filed suit against the federal gov’t for $100 million because he said the gov’t was trying to force him to rent to welfare recipients.  Contrary to what Trump said last night, the affair ended 2 years later when he settled with the DOJ.  The narcissist looks back upon such incidents and claims no wrong doing, no fault, no responsibility, and states he was innocent of anything said against him even when the facts show the opposite.  He cannot see such facts because they do not suit the narcissistic mind.

One of the strong-holds of the Republican Party has traditionally been the military.  Trump claims to have been endorsed by over 2o0 admirals and generals.  Why have we not seen this list?  You would certain want such a list front and center to prove your validity as Commander-in-Chief.  I suspect he had 2 or 3.  I noticed time after time during the debate Trump’s penchant for speaking in hyperbole.  And since he refuses to show proof, then hyperbole of the worst kind it is then.  Our military is literally tired from all the wars it has been forced to fight.  They are war weary.  But if you listen to Trump, it takes no imagination at all to see he is hell-bent on starting a war somewhere.  He thinks that is the was to kill of ISIS, and other undesirable elements.  Trump will probably still get a large portion of the military vote but it is unlikely he will get the 90% most Republican candidates have enjoyed over the years.  It is very difficult to have confidence in a commander-in-chief who has absolutely no military or government service experience.  And as an aside, if elected, he would be the first president to have neither.

There is one thing all president over the past 50 plus years have understood implicitly.  They knew you dealt with friends and enemies both via diplomacy.  The military necessarily is the last resort, when all forms of diplomacy have failed, AND, you are under attack.  Trump definitely does not understand this.

The man is dangerous and I am at a loss for what people see in him as a realistic leader, as someone who will keep our country safe and do what is best for the country, not what suits him.

 

 

What Price Defense?


b-52

The picture above, as you all probably recognize, is of a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber.  What you probably do not realize is that this bomber, of which 92 are still on active duty, was first manufactured in 1955 with the last being made in late 1962.  That means the youngest B-52 is 51 years old!  How many of you would consider driving a 1962 Ford or Chevy as your everyday car?  Well, that is exactly what we ask the men who man these bombers to do.  The B-52 has a 5-man crew.  To be fair, only the latest models are still in use, and they receive a degree of maintenance which guarantees the safety of the crew.  Still, it is flying on something you cannot replace, the airframe, and that airframe is at least 51 years old.  The Boeing 707 was the heart of the long-range commercial fleet when these aircraft were first produced.  Anyone flown on one of those lately?  Why do you think that is?

Within the Air Force inventory are the B-1 and B-2, but neither can fly the mission of the B-52.  So why do we not just retire them?  Because we are not ready to say the nuclear bomb era is over and this aircraft still reigns supreme when it comes to carrying such a payload.

kc-135

The front aircraft above is a KC-135, a refueling aircraft, which just happens to be refueling a B-52.  This aircraft was first delivered to the Air Force in 1956, and if it looks a little familiar, it should, it is the military version of the Boeing 707.  According to the Air Force, it stills has 414 of these aircraft on active and reserve status.  The last KC-135 was delivered to the Air Force in 1965.  That fleet is no younger than 48 years old, most older.  To be fair, the Air Force, reinforced its refueling fleet by buying a military version of the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, the KC-10, which were built after 1981.  But military cutbacks allowed a purchase of a total of 59 of these aircraft, far fewer than needed to replace an already aging KC-135 fleet.  The entire KC-10 fleet is at least 20 years old.

c-5

The picture above is of an Air Force C-5A.  This air craft was first delivered to the Air Force in 1970 and were produced, in the “B” and “C” models, until 1989.  A fleet of 59 C-5 “M” models are scheduled to be delivered.  Still, the bulk of this fleet is at least 20 years old.  In 1991 the Air Force started taking delivery of its replacement, the C-17.

f14

The picture above is of the Navy’s F-14, first delivered in 1970, but fully retired in 2006.  The Navy replaced this aircraft with the F/A-18, seen below.

fa-18

f-15

The picture above is of an Air Force F-15.  It was first delivered in 1975.  This aircraft, however, is still in production costing taxpayers about $140 million a copy.

f-22

The aircraft above is the Air Force F-22.  It cost about $140 million a copy.  This is the aircraft the Air Force prefers to the F-15.  Strangely, the F-22 is no longer produced, the last coming off the assembly line November 2011.

Keeping the peace is expensive, particularly in a world as unpredictable as this one is.  The majority of servicemen and women are not interested in going to war, but when they must, they would prefer to do it with equipment that was developed for today’s circumstances.

Take your 1962 Ford to your mechanic and tell him you want it to have a catalytic converter, GPS, satellite radio, air conditioning, and all the other bells and whistles.  He can do it but by the time he gets finished you will wonder why you did not just buy a new car in the first place.  Yes, you will have all the bells and whistles of today’s car but you are still going to have a 50-year-old body, frame, and numerous other parts.  As foolish as all this sounds, it is exactly what people are expecting of the military.  You are asking our military men and women to fight tomorrow’s wars with yesterday’s equipment.  Please, tell me the logic of that?

I was recently told that the money we spend on new F-22 aircraft would be better spent on education.  The sophistry of that argument is incredible.  I absolutely think we should spend more money on the education of our young people, but not to the detriment of those charged with protecting our country.

Just as a bit of a post script, present plans include keeping the venerable B-52 for the next 20 years!

America’s Politicians Are Compromising Its Future


Winston Churchill said, Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.”  He was repeating what George Santayana said in 1906.  Churchill’s reference is more compelling because he said it as the result of the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939.  It seems, however, that this bit of wisdom has fallen upon deaf ears when it comes to the Congress of the United States.  Democrats in particular, but some Republicans too, are hell-bent on reducing the size of our military.  The concern is the size of the defense budget.  What is being forgotten is America’s security.

After World War I the United States entered into a period of isolationism that proved disastrous.  When it came time that we had to go to war against Germany and Japan, our military was in a very sad state of affairs.  But that was where it had found itself just prior to Word War I as well.  Why?

Then, as now, the price of freedom is steep.  The guardians of our freedom is our standing military.  It is their readiness and ability to quickly go into action that keeps us strong, safe, and free.  After World War I Americans, with a complicit Congress, thought the size and price tag associated with it was far too steep.  There was a huge reduction is equipment and personnel.  When the United States was drawn into World War II in 1941, it was extremely undermanned, poorly trained, and poorly equipped.  But after WWII we seemed to have learned our lesson.  The United States, particularly with the cold war, kept a well-equipped, well-trained, and reasonably sized force until the mid-1980s.  Then, during the Reagan administration, it was decided that we needed to close out-dated and redundant military installations.  With that, it was felt we could achieve a budget savings that was needed.  It was a truly good idea in theory but in practice it has been a political boondoggle that defies logic and common sense.

The Base Closure Commission was first convened in 1988 to consider the necessity of the 3800 military installations then in existence.  On December 29, 1988, the first base closure commission (with its 12 members appointed by the Secretary of Defense Carlucci) issued its report. It recommended the closure, in part or in whole, and realignment of 145 bases. The commission projected that this would improve the effectiveness of the base structure, and would save an estimated $693.6 million a year in base operating costs.  Considering the total defense budget for 1989 was $427.7 billion this was fairly insignificant.  The first base closed was Pease AFB in Portsmouth NH.   But as usual, members of Congress fought tooth and nail to keep every single proposed closing that impacted their state removed from the list.  This, of course, lead to the back-room deals which resulted in the closing of bases that left both the Pentagon and those knowledgeable in military affairs scratching their heads.

For example, during the second round of base closures Fort Huachuca Arizona was scheduled to be closed.  Its men and facilities would be moved to Fort Devens Massachusetts.  Fort Huachuca was the home of the Army Communications Command along with a number of other smaller groups.  Fort Devens was home to the Army Security Agency and several other groups.  The Army Security Agency was responsible for the security of military communications.  With Massachusetts’ nation leading technology base it seemed a match made in heaven.  Its operations and those as the nearby Hanscom AFB, an air force research and development installation engaged in many of the same activities as the army’s security agency.  It must have made too much sense.  But Hanscom AFB has also been a target for a base closure.  To this day it is my belief that Sen. Ted Kennedy made a back room deal with Sen. John McCain in which he secured the future of Hanscom in exchange for closing Fort Devens.  Fort Huachuca remains open today.

To put a dot on this i, if you look at the history of base closures you will find that the majority have come in states where Democrats either tend to be in power or hold great sway.  Large bases which probably should be closed, but have consistent avoided that bullet, remain open and all are in states that are strongly conservative.  Large bases like Fort Sill Oklahoma, Fort Jackson South Carolina, Tinker AFB Oklahoma, and others which probably should be closed remain open because of their location over their mission and cost.  I mention these things just to show how much of a political football our military is.  Political expediency reigns supreme over military needs.  This is exactly how it went right after World War I.

I would like to suggest that one major area of savings can come from reducing our military presence abroad.  Korea, for example, is home to some 50,000 troops.  Why?  The South Korean military is large, very well-trained, and very well-equipped.  Whatever threat exists from North Korea is something they can deal with themselves.  I would suggest removal of all troops from Korea save a small contingent at a joint US/Korea facility at Osan AFB which is an excellent staging area in the case of an emergency.

Then there is the US presence in Japan.  Following World War II, Japan signed an agreement that it would maintain only a defense force, no capital ships or large tactical army allowed.  But in the 75+ years since that treaty was signed Japan find its power in its industrial might, something it always wanted anyway, and shows no interest in being a military power.  I suggest that like Korea all U.S. troops save a very small contingent at an air force base be removed and that Japan be allowed to grow its own military.

The same is true for Germany.  After World War II it was required to sign a treaty that allow only for a purely defense military.  Like Japan, Germany is no longer a state that has any interest in the militaristic tendencies of its past.  Here again we could easily remove all troops save the small contingent and allow Germany to raise and maintain its own regular military.  There is absolutely no reason to believe that Japan and Germany would not continue to be anything but wonderful allies.  And this in turn would greatly reduce the cost of military forces abroad.

One of the things our military has become extremely adept at is quickly deploying to anywhere in the world in response to foreign threats.  We are better served by having a highly mobile and quickly deployable force located in the United States than at most of the locations overseas.  This would mean, however, increasing the number of available transport aircraft but that cost is greatly offset by the savings realized from removing forces overseas.

Key to this is keeping enough men and material available to respond to any emergency.  The proposed cut of 100,000 troops is entirely contrary to good military standing.  We are already too small in the size of forces.  Our soldiers are forced to endure too many overseas deployments to meet the nation’s needs.  Military effectiveness relies upon good troop morale.  A good way to undermine that is to send the same soldier over and over again into harm’s way.  We learned, supposedly, in World War II the dangers of that and during Korea and Vietnam soldiers were not required to serve more than one tour of one year in a combat zone.  That could not be further from the truth today.

We must get our Congress to work smarter and put aside their selfish political agendas.  Democrats have to give into the idea that the entitlement programs desperately need reigning in and controlled.  Republicans have got to understand that the only way our government gets revenue is through taxes.  They have got to put an end to corporate welfare and give in to the hard reality that we all may have to pay a little more to continue our way of life.

The large land wars of the past involving multiple nations at once seems unlikely.  But we can no longer afford the cold war deployment model either.  What we need is to listen to the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and their aides as to the present and future needs of a well-trained, well-equipped, and properly manned military force.  Politicians really need to get it out of their heads that they both understand and are sensitive to the real needs of the military.  Don’t build ships that naval leaders do not want.  Don’t build aircraft that air force leadership doesn’t want.  Address their real concerns and you will show, finally, that you do remember our history.

Why Can’t Hollywood Understand the Military?


I have just started watching the Showtime series “Homeland.”  The premise of the series is irrelevant to this except to say that one of the central characters, Marine Sergeant Brodie, was a prisoner of war during the Iraq War and was freed in 2009.  Sgt. Brodie is played by Damian Lewis who was 40 years old when the series started.   And that is the start of my problems with Hollywood.

Lewis plays a marine infantryman who was captured in 2003.  His rank is sergeant, the lowest non-commissioned office rank.  In the military, regardless of service, there is a policy called “up or out.”  Simply put, that means you must attain a certain rank within a set number of years of service.  A marine can expect to make sergeant in 2 to 4 years.  A marine who is full-time infantry can expect that rank in minimal time.  But this is complicated by who enlists in the service.  The marines, by far, are toughest on their recruits and, as any service, prefers recruits in boot camp who are no older than 20.  The reason is simple, as you get older you ability to perform physically decreases.   The character, Sgt. Brodie, would have been close to 30 at the time he entered the service.  It is likely the marines would have dissuaded him from enlisting in their infantry, and would have put him into a combat support role at best, supply, signal, etc.

All military organizations are conservative by nature.  The marines are the most conservative of all.  They live to fight and look good, and they do a really good job of each.  Marines, all, have one idea of a haircut.

The man above typifies what a marine haircut looks like.  They not only do it as a matter of personal pride, they do it because it is expected of them.  They do not make exceptions.  In the series, Sgt. Brodie looks like this:

His haircut would not only have been unaccepted to the Corps but to himself as a marine.

What kills me about Hollywood is that the military is really pretty easy to understand, if you take the time.  Uniforms do not change very often or very much.  Even so, each service has a regulation covering uniforms, easily obtainable, called “fitting and wearing the uniform.”  Not only that, there are thousands and thousands of veterans from every service and from every war for the past 80+ years who can expertly analyse such situations.  Why is it so difficult for Hollywood to find and employ such people?  Most veterans would be thrilled the help out so Hollywood could get it right.

Hollywood loves to use Army Special Forces and Navy Seals like they are in the thick of the fighting everyday.  That just is not the case.  Each of these groups has a very narrow mission each time it takes the field.  And that mission has a very short life as well.  That is part of what makes them special.  Most of the “action” in a war zone is conducted by regular infantry troops, armor, and artillery.  In “Homeland,” Sgt. Brodie is recovered by special forces which, while not impossible, but unlikely unless they knew beforehand they were seeking a particular target and need to get in and out quickly.  Otherwise, he would most likely have been discovered by a regular infantry group, army or marine, in the course of their normal duties.

While particular operations within any branch of the military are frequently classified, their day-to-day affairs, how they operate and what the look like doing so, is not.  I would really like see Hollywood, for a change, pay a little more attention to detail and get it right.

 

A Few Things I Do Not Understand and Need Explained


Health Care Reform a.k.a. Obamacare — Under the new health care reform, millions of Americans will be sending many more millions of dollars to private insurance carriers to cover their health care costs.  How does a new revenue source for private companies hurt America?  How will it ruin our health care system, as claimed?

Reducing the Size of the Military — Democrats think we spend too much money at the Department of Defense and say a smaller military is the answer.  Why is it I do not feel equally as safe under that plan as I do now?  How does that improve our national defense posture?  Republicans claim it is just a leaner more efficient fighting force.  How?

Reducing Taxes — Mitt Romney says he will reduce taxes on the middle class by 20%.  How is that going to work considering our increasing national debt?  He has not proposed reducing the size of government which is where all that money goes.  This is like saying, “I can afford the monthly payments on my Rolls Royce even though I only earn $20,ooo a year.  Believe me!”

Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life — Why are we still trying to legislate morality?

Death Penalty vs. None — In this case, why are “pro-lifers” in favor of killing people?  Isn’t that just a bit inconsistent?

Ending Federal Funding for Public Television — Is Sesame Street really just a liberal thing or do all children benefit from it?  What left-wing ideas are Antiques Road Show, Nova, American Experience, etc. promoting?

Subsidizing Oil Companies — Really?  How do you justify that?  I really don’t get it.

Subsidizing Corporate Owned Farms — Same as above, really?  I mean, really?

Government Ethics — Every non-politically appointed government employee must adhere to a strict code of ethics.  Why are politicians exempt?  In reality, should we not expect the Secretary of Defense to adhere more tightly to ethical behavior than his office manager, or his office manager’s secretary?

Public Education — Why do we expect our students in public schools to get the same level of education when the per student cost of education is four times higher in the private sector than the public?  How will vouchers fix that? (The average cost per student in the public schools is a little over $5000 while at a private school it is over $20,000)  How are our public schools repairable when we are not willing to pay for the level of education we want?

Regulating Wall Street — If Wall Streeters are a bunch of foxes, and we are the chickens, who is supposed to protect us from the foxes if there are no regulations and therefore no regulation enforcers?  Don’t foxes love to eat chickens?

Too Big to Fail — Republicans constantly avow free market ideals.  But is not one of those ideals allowing for corporate failure when the corporate entity becomes inefficient and/or corrupt?

The Liberal Press — If the liberal press is so powerful, so persuasive, how did Bush become President?  How does any Republican ever win in those states dominated by the liberal press?  Is it possible the “liberal press” is largely a myth?

Patriotism — Are Republicans and conservatives naturally more patriotic than Democrats and liberals, or is that just another myth?

Who Can Come to America — Imigration quotas, by nationality, were set in 1922 based on 1900 data.  Why are we still using that data to decide who can emigrate?

Feel free to add to this list.

Why Is America Always Trying to Disband Its Military?


When Thomas Jefferson took the oath of office in 1801, one of his first moves was his attempt to entirely disband the Federal Military Forces.  Were it not for some powerful opponents who had gone to great lengths to bring a US Navy into existence, he would have succeeded.  Jefferson considered a professional military a luxury, and one the nation could ill-afford.  His successor, James Madison, in 1812 had to deal with the result of his efforts.  British troops encountered little resistance on their way to Washington D.C. and had little trouble in burning down the nation’s capitol building.  The heroes and military leadership of the Revolution were either aging or dead, and were of no use in the War of 1812.  It must be remembered that the war was started over the United States objecting to the impressment of American merchant sailors into the British Navy.  The U.S., however, lacked the force to prevent such impressments.

Some view the Civil War as the campaign of two great armies against one-another.  But nothing could be further from the truth, at least at the beginning.  Even though most of the professional soldiers wore Union Blue at the start of the war, they were largely unprepared and lacked for good leadership.  Conversely, Confederate troops were largely irregulars but were fortunate to have a lot of good and professional military leaders in their midst.

Again, when Japan brought war to our shores in December of 1941, the US Army had a little over 100,000 regular troops.  Had Japan and Germany been able to bring a large contingent of their professional armies to our shores, we most certainly would have suffered far longer before getting ourselves properly positioned.

It seemed we had finally learned our lesson because at the start of the Korean War and then again Vietnam, we had a sufficiently large standing army, at least for the start of hostilities.

Then, not too long before the first Gulf War, a curious thing happened.  President George Bush and congress decided we had too much military, that our country could no longer afford all the men and facilities.  Enter the Base Closure Commission.  It was the mission of this commission to identify duplicate efforts, little needed facilities, and excesses and either close or combine them in the name of economics.  At its heart it was a good idea, but they had a side-agenda that received little to no publicity.  That agenda was to re-organize the American Military into what was termed “leaner” units.  The was political double-talk for troop reductions at all levels.

To be truthful, the American military mission has changed in some respects greatly from World War II.  We fought WWII as a war of attrition meaning we could throw more men and material at you than you could at us.  We could easily overwhelm you, and that is exactly what we did.  But Vietnam taught us that our WWII philosophy was simply no longer efficient.  In spite of our saturation bombing of North Vietnam, we were simply unable to overwhelm them with our might.  The North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong fought in small and dispersed units who used guerrila tactics.  They knew how to kill us using the old Chinese maxim of dying from a thousand cuts.  Afer 1975 we knew we had to fight smarter.  Americans became amused with the idea of fighting a war of technology that used machines for the close-up work and men would largely stay well behind the lines.  The first Gulf War, however, if anything, should have taught us that this view, while fanciful, was unrealistic.

In 1991 we had just enough full-time soldiers to effect a quick liberation of Kuwait and the ability to turn back the Iraqi Republican Guard to behind its own borders.  But at that point we were forced to stop until our logistics could catch up with our lines.  Simply put, there were not enough men on the ground to continue the charge, as it were.  Pres. Bush quickly activated reservists and national guard troops to help fill the breech.  Fortunately our reserves and national guard were at much higher levels on manning than exists today.  Reservists made a single six month or less rotation and were not called upon again.

I think the sign of Washington’s ever-present folly in its thinking came to bear when it was decided during the first base closures to close Fort Ord California.  The 7th Infantry Division of Fort Ord had been deployed to Iraq in 1992 to help win that war.  Not long after its return, the 7th Infantry Division was deactivated and then in 1994 Fort Ord was closed.  Fort Ord’s 28,600 acres comprised the US Army largest maneuver facility in the United States.  That was significant because, as anyone who had served in the military knows, armies need large tracts of land to practice their tactics and work out their problems.  Congress had deprived the American military of its best facility for that.

At the same time the federal government informed state governments that their national guard forces would be seeing a considerable reduction.  How, you ask, can this happen if nominally the national guard serves the individual states first, Title 32 of the U.S. Code, and the Federal Government during times of emergency, Title 10 of the U.S. Code?  Simple, the Federal Government pays for the lion’s share of the equipment the state governments use for their national guard troops.  Congress informed the states that, for example, it would no longer put up $1 billion for their state’s forces, but would now only give $400 million, and the state could make up any differences.  While that is a little over-simplified, it is what basically happened.  By the year 2000 many states’ national guard had been reduced by 50% or more, usually more.

Enter September 11, 2001.  George W. Bush quickly sends America to war with Afghanistan, and not too long afterwards, Iraq.  But America’s standing army is small, and its reserve and guard forces a mere shell of what they had once been.  Why is that important?

During World War II the impact of combat fatigue came to bear.  No one in America had any idea of what it was or how to deal with it.  Even though our active military forces exceeded 2 million troops during the war, our troops were being ordered to stay longer than any had signed up for.  Now in fairness, most enlistees literally signed up for “the duration,” as stated in their contracts, but few understood that to mean 2 continuous years or more of fighting on the front.  Yet that is exactly what happened to too many of our troops.  Post-war the American military dedicated itself to the ideal of requiring any person to serve no more than one tour of duty, one calendar year, in a war zone.  To that end we were entirely successful during and through the war in Vietnam. The only troops who ever served more than one tour in Vietnam requested to do so.  Americans seemed to understand, congress as well, that we needed to have a sufficient supply of active and reserve troops to fill such an objective.

We now live in an age where reservists and national guardsmen are required to serve 2, 3, and 4 tours of duty in a war zone.  It seems to have become acceptable to require part-time soldiers to do the job of a regular standing force.  We seem to have forgotten that our National Guard, originally called state militia, were meant to be called only in times of national emergency.  What, pray-tell, is our present national emergency that such a large percentage of our reservist must regularly be called to active duty and sent to a war zone?

The solution to this is simple yet expensive.  But the American public needs to come to grips with the idea, and the ideal, that a formidable standing force, full-time soldiers, is necessary to guarantee our peace of mind.  At this very moment congress is making plans to yet again reduce the strength of our active duty military.  As the old maxim says, “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”  If anything, we need to increase the size of our active military force as-well-as our reserves and national guard forces.  The type of freedom and liberty we enjoy here in the United States does not come cheaply.  Why is it then we are not willing to put forward the level of funding  necessary to insure our peace and tranquility?

“Those who do not remember their history are doomed to repeat it.”  It is not, therefore, impossible that we could suffer another “Pearl Harbor” or even worse.  Do we really want that?  Have we become so complacent that we truly believe that to be impossible?  For those of you who think the answer “yes,” we cannot possibly have another Pearl Harbor, I entreat you to read a book called “The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell” and see if you cannot find parallels to his warnings of 1925 and the conditions that exist today.