Sunday, July 24, 2011

Washington Post "Blows" GEN Shalikashvili Obit - Why the WaPo Should Employ at Least One Vet!

Once again, the WaPo has demonstrated why they should hire at least one Vet proofreader so they can quit making boneheaded misstatements like this one in their 24 July Obit: “Gen. Shalikashvili, a four-star general in the Army, was the first immigrant and the first onetime enlisted man to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the highest military council in the United States. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 ….” As an aside, as a young Major I served with the general in the early 80s on the ARSTAF in the Pentagon and was present at his promotion ceremony to brigadier general.

Several Chairmen have enlisted service (while attending officer training) similar to GEN Shalikashvili although he was the only one originally drafted into the Army. He was drafted into the Army in 1958 and, as a college graduate, was offered the opportunity to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) immediately after he completed his basic entry enlisted training. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1959 having never served in a line unit as an enlisted man.

The ONLY Chairman with REAL enlisted service was GEN John W. Vessey, Jr. who served Jun 82 – Sep 85. GEN Vessey enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard in 1939 at age 16 and was activated in Feb 41 in the mobilization prior to our entry into WWII. By Sep 42, he was a company First Sergeant (Top enlisted man in the unit) and received a Battlefield Commission to Second Lieutenant in May 44 on the Anzio Beachhead in Italy.

Granted GEN Shalikashvili was President Clinton’s Chairman and in retirement has become something of a darling to the left because of some of his liberal views such as his support for allowing Gays to serve but that’s no excuse for the WaPo to embellish the General’s resume. He was a distinguished Soldier in his own right with a resume that needs no puffing and his passing is a reason for mourning by all who have served. REST IN PEACE GEN SHALI (as he was known to those who knew him).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Posted Comments about the West-Wasserman Squabble Demonstrates How Little the General Public Knows about the Military!

I’m not going to get into the substance of the squabble between Rep. Allen West (R-FL.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) other than to say both are making a ton of money in campaign contributions off it and for Schultz to “play the female victim” here makes her appear a touch “Palin-esque.” What I have noticed from reading the comments and blogs is, if those commenting are any reflection of the military knowledge of the general public, then elimination of the draft has resulted in a military-clueless generation.

Unlike several “experts” opining on the Blogs, I don’t know much about West except I checked and he is definitely on the U.S. Army retired roles in the grade of Lieutenant Colonel so those claiming he resigned in lieu of Court Martial are as ignorant as some in Congress! Other than what I’ve read in the newspapers, I don’t know the true circumstances of his retirement … but, being a retired Army Colonel who has been a convening authority and president of several Courts, I do know a little about Military Law and regulations -- which is something that obviously several of the contributors to this discussion don’t.

The applicable Army Regulation governing a Resignation for the Good of the Service (RFGOS) in Lieu of Court Martial is AR 600-8-24, Chapter 3, Paragraph 3-13, and an officer submitting such a resignation normally receives an Other than Honorable Discharge but regardless of characterization of service, the officer is not authorized to retire nor receives VA benefits with a very few exceptions (e.g. converted life insurance).

Some of the pontificators are probably the very same “military experts” that still believe the Washington myth that former Army Chief of Staff of (& now VA Secretary) GEN Eric Shinseki was fired for standing up to Rumsfeld and challenging the Bush administration over the Iraq War when in truth, he retired after serving every last minute of his full four year term.

After posting this above comment, I received several responses wishing to “correct me” and telling me that “it’s a matter of record that LTC West was given an Article 15 and retired in Lieu of Court Martial.” Once again, this demonstrates the public’s ignorance of Military Law. There is NO provision in law or regulation to even FORCE a service member to accept Non-Judicial Punishment (UP Article 15, UCMJ). Non-judicial punishment is OFFERED to an accused to resolve minor offenses under the UCMJ in lieu of Court Martial but it is an option of the accused to either ACCEPT non-judicial punishment or DEMAND a Court Martial. Once the Article 15 was accepted by LTC West, a RFGOS in Lieu of Court Martial was off the table. Granted, an Article 15 is career ending for an Officer so they normally retire if eligible but they cannot be forced to retire. If the Army really wishes to terminate the Officer, it can begin administrative elimination procedures but this is a whole new action from the non-judicial punishment. Initiation of elimination proceedings might “encourage” a retirement eligible officer to submit for retirement but this is neither a “resignation” or a retirement “in lieu of Court Martial.”

Sometimes it’s best if some people just stick to talking about subjects they know something about.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

US Inspector General Makes Obama ATF Admit Only a Fraction of Illegal Weapons Seized in Mexico Come from US!

Reference the Washington Post (aka WaPo) 16 July 2011, Editorial Board Opinion: A good step to slow the flow of guns to Mexico’s drug gangs ( ).

This editorial has so many falsehoods Anthony Weiner must have written it for them! The WaPo has a “Fact Checker” column where their “crack” reporter, Glenn Kessler, is quick to point out errors in other peoples’ utterances but treats anything emanating from the WaPo as if it were “coming from a Burning Bush!” This editorial statement is especially misleading: “Mexico says that 93,000 illegal weapons have been seized since December 2006, nearly 90 percent of them from the United States.” Just because “Mexico says” doesn’t make it true but by not challenging this outright lie the WaPo validates it as true. This even contradicts a 14 Jun 2011 WaPo article: US report: 70 percent of arms seized, traced in Mexico came from US ( ). Even that story would merit four Pinocchios (their highest false rating) by the Fact Checker! The first paragraph of that article stated:

“MEXICO CITY — About 70 percent of the guns seized in Mexico and submitted to a U.S. gun-tracing program came from the United States, according to a report released by three U.S. senators Monday.”

Note the crafty (and misleading) wording the WaPo always employs: “Mexico says” or “guns seized in Mexico AND SUBMITTED to a U.S. gun-tracing program.” At least that article reduced the allegation to 70%. This editorial and the in the past the Obama administration’s ATF has maintained “over 90% of these firearms originated in the US” but had to back-peddle on that claim when U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG) made the ATF admit “the 90% figure cited to Congress was misleading because it applied only to the small fraction of Mexican crime guns that are traced and Mexico only attempts to trace guns that most likely can be traced to the US.” A Nov 10, OIG analysis of ATF data suggest a much lower percentage really come from the US and a recent Feb 11 STRATFOR (a widely respected global intelligence company) analysis calculated almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico are NOT from the US.

In 2009, Mexico reported that they held 305,424 confiscated firearms, but only submitted 69,808 to the ATF for tracing. The gap between seizures and traces and the fact they only submit those likely to come from the US puts in serious question whether any significant number of illegal guns in Mexico really come from here.

It should also be noted that the most commonly recovered firearm is the old Soviet AK-47 type rifles which is NOT manufactured in the US and that most US military grade weapons are acquired by the cartels through the huge supply of arms left over from the wars in Central America and Asia. It has also been reported that there have been 150,000 desertions 2003-09 from the Mexican army (about 1/8th desert annually) and many of them take their government-issued automatic rifles with them.

Given all this, maybe we’re talking SIX Pinocchios!

Field Marshal Moltke’s Four Types of Military Officer

Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke (1800-1891) developed this interesting Value Matrix to categorize his officer corps.

• Smart & Lazy: I make them my Commanders because they make the right thing happen but find the easiest way to accomplish the mission.
• Smart & Energetic: I make them my General Staff Officers because they make intelligent plans that make the right things happen.
• Dumb & Lazy: There are menial tasks that require an officer to perform that they can accomplish and they follow orders without causing much harm
• Dumb & Energetic: These are dangerous and must be eliminated. They cause thing to happen but the wrong things so cause trouble.

Later Field Marshal Erich Von Manstein (1887-1973), arguably the Wehrmacht's best World War II military strategists who was dismissed from service by the Fuhrer in March 1944 due to frequent clashes with him over military strategy, later articulated Field Marshal Moltke’s model in the following quote:

“There are only four types of officer. First, there are the lazy, stupid ones. Leave them alone, they do no harm…Second, there are the hard- working, intelligent ones. They make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered. Third, there are the hard- working, stupid ones. These people are a menace and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everybody. Finally, there are the intelligent, lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office.”

I would suggest that both Field Marshals have correctly identified the four types of officers but would respectfully disagree about who is best suited for “highest office,” especially in today’s highly competitive environment. Smart & Energetic wins every time and only the truly driven or exceptionally lucky succeed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

How Long Will It Be Before Air Force & Navy Cockpit Pilots Are Obsolete?

An MQ-1B Predator unmanned aircraft takes off for a training mission at Creech Air Force Base, NV. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recently there has been a debate raging in the press concerning the use of drones and the morality of using them to attack “enemy” targets. Some have even suggested that using them against human targets is a form of assassination. My question is: what is the difference between attacking targets with a manned aircraft and a drone except the physical location of the pilot flying the “airborne vehicle.” I would further suggest that it is just a matter of time before ALL combat aircraft are “Remotely Piloted Vehicles” (RPVs), not because of the obvious concerns for the safety of the pilot but because the limiting factor on aircraft performance is going to be how much abuse the human body can endure. We know the limits of the human body but as aircraft technology continues to leap forward, we are going to reach a point where the aircraft will be able to “out perform” the pilot so the only way to take full advantage of the aircraft’s performance will be to remove the “limiting factor” – the pilot – from the cockpit. A drone can simply turn sharper and accelerate quicker than the human body can tolerate so an adversary’s drone will be able to defeat any piloted aircraft we field.

Much to the horror of Air Force and Navy Pilots, a cocky and arrogant bunch, modern technology is going to make them obsolete in the foreseeable future. Why? Because the human body can only withstand so much abuse and a constant 16 g for a minute is often fatal while when vibration is also experienced, relatively low peak g levels can be severely damaging if they are at the resonance frequency of organs and connective tissues. The g-force (g = gravitational) associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall.

Aircraft exert g-force along the axis aligned with the spine which causes significant variation in blood pressure along the length of the pilot’s body thus limiting the maximum g-forces that can be tolerated. A typical person can handle about 5 g before losing consciousness but by using special g-suits and muscles straining techniques, trained military pilots can typically handle a sustained 9 g’s. Hence, we know the limits of the human body but as aircraft technology continues to leap forward, we are going to reach a point where the aircraft will be able to “out perform” the pilot so the only way to take full advantage of the aircraft’s performance is to remove the “limiting factor” – the pilot – from the cockpit.

Removing pilots from cockpits, regardless of how emotionally traumatic it may prove to our brave military aviators, will have to happen as our adversaries perfect their own RPVs capable of out perform any piloted aircraft in our inventory. As a matter of fact, we might eventually have to put “governors” on our aircraft to limit performance to keep within the tolerance of the human body.

Already, RPVs in Afghanistan are being flown very effectively by pilots of the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing comfortably (and safely) sitting is a hanger located on Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. Some maintain drone reaction time is a bit slower than piloted high performance aircraft on station and this may be true – for now – but it’s only a matter of time before that is reversed. As aircraft and RPV technology advances and decision support software improves, it is only a matter of time before the pilot is out of the cockpit and even the human pilot may become obsolete as the human mind will be too slow so attack decisions have to be turned over to computers.

Having run this theory by my older brother who spent 26 years as a Navy carrier attack jet pilot, I have heard all the emotional reasons why this will never happen but deep down, even though his heart tells him differently, it’s obvious his brains recognizes the inevitable.