Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Military Leadership’

Failsafe” — movie review
Today’s movie review is for the 1964 military / political thriller “Failsafe“.  The plot revolves around a falsely identified aircraft entering U.S. airspace and the nuclear destruction which follows.  The premise is that both men and machines can fail when humanity trains specifically for world-wide destruction.
Henry Fonda stars as the (un-named) President of the U.S., a young Larry Hagman of “Dallas” and “I Dream of Jeannie” fame is the translator working for the President, Ed (Edward) Binns is the flight commander attacking Moscow, Frank Overton plays General Bogan (in command of the Strategic Air Command (SAC)), Fritz Weaver plays Colonel Cascio who believes the Soviets are actually attacking and tries to mutiny against Bogan and the President, Walter Matthau plays Dr. Groeteschele, an academic / Pentagon consultant who wants to use the “mistake” to initiate an all-out attack / war against “the Communists”, and Dan O’Herlihy plays General Black (“Blackie”) a college friend of the President who is called upon to bomb New York City to compensate for Moscow and to prevent a full-scale nuclear exchange.
To “understand” the movie, a little historical perspective is required…  In the previous year (1963), the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. faced off in what would come to be known as the “Cuban Missile Crisis”.  As far as we know, this is the closest humanity has ever come to nuclear annihilation. Earlier in the year (1964), another movie of a similar vein (“Dr. Strangelove“), but more of a political / military satire was also released.  Both involved a rogue aircraft destroying a Soviet city.  However, in the first movie, the Soviets have a world destroyer which is activated.  In this movie, the President acts to placate the Soviets and save humanity from destruction.
So, is this movie any good?  Is it realistic?  Is it entertaining?  Yes!  Yes!  And, yes!  The film is an interesting throw-back to the days of the black and white drama.  This role and Fonda’s role in “12 Angry Men” are the two signature roles which I remember Fonda for.  “The Grapes of Wrath” and “On Golden Pond” are both equally memorable, but the former was before my time / interest and the latter was at the very end of his long career (he appeared in over 60 films).  And, of course, in my day, EVERYONE was compelled to view “The Ox-Bow Incident” in high school.  For me, the title is more memorable than the film – of which I have almost no recollection.  (Just sayin’.)
Is “Failsafe” realistic?  Yes, particularly compared to “Strangelove“.  Aside from the B&W filming, the technology was “advanced” for its time and quite well done.  The acting was tense and there were a lot of close, sweaty shots which brought the tenseness which real participants would have felt if we were approaching nuclear war.  An interesting side note:  the Air Force did not want to promote the idea such an event (“mistake”) was possible and therefore refused to participate in production.  The film uses stock footage of planes to depict a fictional bomber and a mixture of other aircraft to represent U.S. and Soviet fighters.
Entertaining?  Yes!  I haven’t seen this film in over 40 years and I could still feel the “moment” of the film.  The number of times you see actors with shaky hands and sweaty forearms really high-lights the nervous energy which the movie conveys with virtually no music score to “artificially” build emotional impact.
Final recommendation:  Very Highly Recommended!  This is a movie which should be viewed widely in America.  In 2020, the world is racing to a different type of annihilation (climate change), but it is important to remember there are multiple nuclear powers in the world and any one of them could initiate the end of humanity through either human or technical failure.  The moral of the story is one of personal responsibility and taking action to ensure nothing like this film portrays ever happens in real life.
.
On This Day In:
2019 Is #45 Warning Alabama Again?
Day 11: 49ers Win
2018 Worry (x2)
2017 Still Working
Gold In The Morning Sun
2016 Power Inside
2015 Sometimes I Feel Small
2014 It Slipped Away
2013 Corollary
2012 Working Retired
2011 The Web Is Not Authoritative! (Really?)

Read Full Post »

The following is an opinion piece / editorial appearing on “The Washington Post” web site (https://www.washingtonpost.com/).
It was written by: Lt. Col. (Ret.) Alexander Vindman and is titled: “Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing what’s right matters.
The specific link to the editorial is:   https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/01/alexander-vindman-retiring-oped/
No ownership by me or this site is claimed, implied or intended.
After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian.  I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.
This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate.  The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.
A year ago, having served the nation in uniform in positions of critical importance, I was on the cusp of a career-topping promotion to colonel.  A year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine the very foundations of our democracy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the facade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration.
At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment.  Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.
Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents.  Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished.  The president recklessly downplayed the threat of the pandemic even as it swept through our country.  The economic collapse that followed highlighted the growing income disparities in our society.  Millions are grieving the loss of loved ones and many more have lost their livelihoods while the president publicly bemoans his approval ratings.
There is another way.
During my testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, I reassured my father, who experienced Soviet authoritarianism firsthand, saying, “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.”  Despite Trump’s retaliation, I stand by that conviction.  Even as I experience the low of ending my military career, I have also experienced the loving support of tens of thousands of Americans.  Theirs is a chorus of hope that drowns out the spurious attacks of a disreputable man and his sycophants.
Since the struggle for our nation’s independence, America has been a union of purpose: a union born from the belief that although each individual is the pilot of their own destiny, when we come together, we change the world.  We are stronger as a woven rope than as unbound threads.
America has thrived because citizens have been willing to contribute their voices and shed their blood to challenge injustice and protect the nation.  It is in keeping with that history of service that, at this moment, I feel the burden to advocate for my values and an enormous urgency to act.
Despite some personal turmoil, I remain hopeful for the future for both my family and for our nation.  Impeachment exposed Trump’s corruption, but the confluence of a pandemic, a financial crisis and the stoking of societal divisions has roused the soul of the American people.  A groundswell is building that will issue a mandate to reject hate and bigotry and a return to the ideals that set the United States apart from the rest of the world.  I look forward to contributing to that effort.
In retirement from the Army, I will continue to defend my nation.  I will demand accountability of our leadership and call for leaders of moral courage and public servants of integrity.  I will speak about the attacks on our national security.  I will advocate for policies and strategies that will keep our nation safe and strong against internal and external threats.  I will promote public service and exalt the contribution that service brings to all areas of society.
The 23-year-old me who was commissioned in December 1998 could never have imagined the opportunities and experiences I have had.  I joined the military to serve the country that sheltered my family’s escape from authoritarianism, and yet the privilege has been all mine.
When I was asked why I had the confidence to tell my father not to worry about my testimony, my response was, “Congressman, because this is America.  This is the country I have served and defended, that all my brothers have served, and here, right matters.”
To this day, despite everything that has happened, I continue to believe in the American Dream.  I believe that in America, right matters.  I want to help ensure that right matters for all Americans.
  —    Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (Ret.)
Lt. Col. Vindman was a career U.S. Army officer who served on the National Security Council as the director for Eastern European, Caucasus and Russian affairs, as the Russia political-military affairs officer for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as a military attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
The above opinion piece / editorial is titled: “Coming forward ended my career.  I still believe doing what’s right matters.
It appears at “The Washington Post” web site (https://www.washingtonpost.com/).
The specific link to the editorial is:   https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/01/alexander-vindman-retiring-oped/
This reprint appears without the knowledge or consent of the Washington Post for purely public information purposes.  No ownership by me or this site is claimed, implied or intended.
If you are financially able to subscribe or support the Washington Post or any local or national news media, please do so.  A free press is one of the few things left protecting our democracy and freedoms.
[I personally consider Lt. Col. Vindman to be a genuine American hero and I am grateful to “The Washington Post” for sharing this important viewpoint with Americans and with the world.  —  KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2019 Never Used Up
2018 The Stumbling Block, Too
Day 5: Breezin’
2017 Duty
2016 Still Gaining
2015 Filling Gaps
2014 Even In Our Sleep
2013 Passion Is Always Personal
2012 And You Are?
2011 Innate Talent

Read Full Post »

The Mask Of Command — book review
Today’s book review is for “The Mask Of Command” (1987©), written by John Keegan.  Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan OBE (Order of the British Empire) and FRSL (Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature) was an English military historian, lecturer (at Sandhurst – the English equivalent of West Point) and writer.  Keegan is considered (in my opinion) one of the “modern” expert military historians. I understand his basic premise to be that conflict in general and war in specific is cultural and not necessarily an extension of political governance.  This is in contrast with Clausewitz who stated that war is politics by other means.  Keegan is criticized for “disagreement” with Clausewitz.
As a secondary aside, I started reading about military theory (“strategy”) back in my early 20’s when I began reading about generals (mostly Patton) and the works of B. H. Liddell Hart were recommended to me by a roommate.  I read Liddell Hart’s book: “Strategy: The Indirect Approach“, which I must say greatly influenced my life by profoundly changing my view of the world.  My hope was to learn about leadership by studying the great generals.  Instead, what I found was that leadership is not the same thing as strategy and is, instead, founded on the person and the time in history the person lives, whereas strategy tends to be principled and more timeless.
This realization pretty much ties into the basis for this book, which is a study of four “great” commanders / leaders and looks at what made three succeed and one (ultimately) fail terribly.  The three successful commanders are: Alexander the Great, Wellington, and U.S. Grant.  The failure is: Hitler.
Keegan’s proposal in this book is based on “heroic” aspects (“title”) of military leadership: heroic, anti-heroic, non-heroic, and fake heroic.  To do this, Keegan establishes the cultural climate of each commander and then tries to explain it’s (the culture’s) effect on the military leader via their proximity to combat and personal exposure to danger.  Essentially, for most of man’s history, muscle and physical courage were the requirement of military leadership.  As the age of gunpowder emerged, the risk to the commander increased and they were forced to withdrawal from danger and thus “military” leadership changed.  Alexander had to fight hand-to-hand to prove his courage while leading from the front; Wellington could stay within sight of his forces, but had to stay a minimal distance from accurate musket range; Grant could not frequently approach the front lines; and, Hitler never exposed himself to physical danger (with the exception of possible assassination) and used propaganda to convince his forces that he was a soldier battling at their side.
The book has five main chapters (one for each leader / type) and the last is about leadership in the age of nuclear weapons.  I found this the most fascinating (timely?) chapter of the book as it proposes a “new” type of post-heroic military / political leader and attempts to posit President Kennedy as this “ideal” leader.
While I found the book to be an interesting (sometimes fascinating) read, it was not an easy read.  Keegan loves his erudite words and his complicated phrasing of sentences.  The punctuation is “British” (I guess), and I found many times I had to go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph to figure out what the heck he was talking about.  Frequently, his sentences appeared to be declarative, but were, in fact, interrogatory (questions), or vice-versa, and you (“I”) couldn’t tell until you (“I”) hit the question mark or period at the end of the sentence.  Occasionally, even though I was aware of this writing style, Keegan still caught me off guard and I had to go back and try to figure out what he was on about.  Which means I knew it was happening, and anticipating it, but continued to find it distracting.
Other than this (quibble), I found the book to be quite enjoyable.  Keegan has a keen method of describing battles and you can sometimes feel yourself seeing the carnage and tasting the spent gunpowder in the air.  At less than 400 pages, it seems also to be a quick read, but I suggest not rushing head-long through it in one or two sittings as the book is widely considered to be a classic and deserves a bit of contemplation as well as enjoyment.
Final recommendation: highly recommended! This book is a classic for a reason…  The battlefield descriptions are superb and Keegan’s argument is well presented – even if not wholly convincing (to me, anyway).  Still, regardless if you are new to military history or a veteran of any military genre, I think you’ll enjoy this book.  There will, of course, be a few quotes from this book appearing on my blog in the coming weeks / months.
Two final thoughts: 1) I was not (am not) convinced President Kennedy is THE model for the post-heroic commander.  I found Keegan’s reporting on / analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis a bit simplistic.  And, 2) even if I had read this book on first printing, I doubt it would have influenced my world-view the way Liddell Hart’s book did.  Both are classics for any military reader, just different.  Just sayin’…
.
On This Day In:
2019 #ContinueToResist
Except Willful Ignorance And Prideful Stupidity
2018 More Executive Time For #DumbDonald
2017 Watched The Inauguration
Two Geniuses
2016 Come Dance And Laugh With Me
2015 Looks Good To Me
2014 Desire For The Sea
2013 The Fierce Urgency Of NOW
Happy Inauguration Day!
2012 One Path
Sorrow And Joy
The Seven Year View
2011 Emergent Practicality

Read Full Post »

The injury we do and the one we suffer are not weighed in the same scales.
   ―  Aesop
[As an American, I would like to believe my President when he says we killed a foreign general (Iranian General Qasem Soleimani) who was in the process of ordering / organizing terrorist attacks on Americans in the middle east.  Unfortunately, my President (and his administration) is a known and shameless public liar.  He has lied so frequently and about so many things – both trivial and important – I simply cannot believe anything he says without independently verified, concrete, public proof.
While I have no evidence of it, my opinion is it is far more likely President Trump ordered the drone strike to provoke Iran into taking escalating “tit-for-tat” action which might distract the American public from the up-coming Senate impeachment trial.
While we currently have the most powerful military in the world, incompetent leadership has resulted in the loss of more than one (otherwise) superior force in world history.  I pray his (Trump’s) failure in leadership will not result in any losses (injury or lives) for our brave men and women who will have to pay the real price for his ill-considered decisions and orders.  —  KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2019 Patient Understanding
2018 I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Form
2017 Fashionista
2016 A Faulty Model Of God
2015 Non Sequitur
2014 No Flags League
I Ain’t Who Am
2013 Spoiling For Fame?
2012 How Many?
2011 Too Tired To Chat Much
2010 I Must Be Crazy!!

Read Full Post »

Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned today (20 December 2018) – effective 28 February 2019, to allow time for a replacement confirmation.   Secretary Mattis (Retired Marine Corps General) resigned due to differences with the policies of President Trump.  Below is Secretary Mattis’ resignation letter (and transcript below that).
Page 1 of Sec. Mattis Resignation Letter
Page 2 of Sec. Mattis Resignation Letter
Dear Mr. President:
I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.
I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance.  Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.
One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships.  While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.  Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world.  Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances.  NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America.  The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.
Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours.  It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies.  That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.
My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues.  We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.
Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.  The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February.  Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.
I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of the Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.
I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.
[Whenever a high-ranking military officer disagrees so fundamentally with the policy, course of action or directions being given by the President (Commander-In_Chief), it is their duty to resign from their position and bring their objections to the American public.  This is an “honorable” resignation.
In our nation’s history, there have been senior officers objecting to their political commander who have acted contrary to lawful policy and direction (both Democratic and Republican) and who have stayed in post and attempted to ameliorate policy / directions they objected to.  Only historians can judge whether these officers acted with honor (or not).
President Assad rules Syria and wishes us to leave so he can continue to crush his opposition and remain in power indefinitely.  Putin wants us to leave Syria to increase Russian influence in the area and to gain access to “warm-water” ports in Syria.  Iran wants us to leave Syria in order to establish an arc of influence through Iraq to Syria (and the Mediterranean).  Turkey wants us to leave in order to crush the Syrian Kurds (and along with them, the Turkish Kurds).  The Turkish Kurds assisted us in Iraq and are now doing the same in Syria.  They want us to stay.  The Syrian Kurds want our help and want us to stay.  Israel and Saudi Arabia foolishly support President Trump because they feel he will support them.  Between Israel and Russia, Trump will support Russia.  Saudi Arabia is the enemy of Iran because Iran is not Arab and because Iran believes in the Shiite version of Islam while the Saudi’s believe in the Sunni version.  Trump supports Saudi Arabia over Iran (in theory), but he doesn’t seem to realize the long term effect of increasing Iranian influence in Syria will be to the detriment of both Israel and Saudi Arabia.
As for ISIS / ISIL, they are one of the factions seeking to over-throw Assad.  They are Muslim and Assad is Ba’ath.  Assad seeks to destroy ISIL because that’s what he does to all of his enemies.
If the U.S. abandons Syria and the Kurds, we will pay for this policy failure for decades and generations ALL around the world – not just in the Middle East.
I happen to agree with President Trump, that we should get our troops out of Afghanistan and reduce our military footprint in the Middle East – not just Syria.  In Afghanistan, as soon as possible.  In Syria, only after we have secured land for the Syrian Kurds and, after that, for as long as the Kurds need our protection from Russia, Turkey and Iran – and, of course, from Assad.  Unfortunately, this may mean decades…
Israel and Saudi Arabia will pay for supporting President Trump.  Sooner or later he will turn on them, too.   After all, Trump is a snake, they know he is a snake, and to quote candidate Trump’s campaign speech:  “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
Just sayin’…  —  KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2017 Beneath The Tree Of Wisdom
The Republican Rape Of The American Middle Class
2016 Something Authentic Happened
2015 Back On The Bricks
On, Rocinante!!
2014 Changing Frequently
2013 Trifles
2012 Simple, Ordinary And Wonderous
2011 Humane Writers

Read Full Post »

The most important thing a captain can do is to see the ship from the eyes of the crew.
  —  Captain D. Michael Abrashoff (Retired)
.
On This Day In:
2017 Living With Myself
2016 Still Looking In Mirrors?
2015 Fear No Evil
2014 And Nothing Can Be As Tragic As…
2013 Your Tax Dollars At Work
2012 Historically Unacceptable
2011 Niners Are NFC West Division Champions!!
The Essence Of Leadership

Read Full Post »

Amid questions, here’s what we’re sure of in the USS Fitzgerald collision…
“On the sea there is a tradition older even than the traditions of the country itself and wiser in its age than this new custom.  It is the tradition that with responsibility goes authority and with them both goes accountability.”
It continues: “It is cruel, this accountability of good and well-intentioned men.  But the choice is that or an end of responsibility and finally as the cruel scene has taught, an end to the confidence and trust in the men who lead, for men will not long trust leaders who feel themselves beyond accountability for what they do.”
“And when men lose confidence and trust in those who lead, order disintegrates into chaos and purposeful ships into uncontrollable derelicts.”
  —  By John Kirby
From the article:  “Accountability, Navy Style”  Thursday, 31 July 2008
Found at:   http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/17/opinions/uss-fitzgerald-this-much-we-know-kirby/index.html
Originally from: http://conservativewahoo.blogspot.com/2008/07/accountability-navy-style.html
.
On This Day In:
2016 Rising Integration
2015 No Worries
2014 Devouring The Present
2013 But So Far…
Twice Moved
2012 Just Like Bubbles
2011 Caring and Driving
Achieve Greatly
2010 Unwise To Trust
Attitude
If The Mind Is Not Tired
Irrationally Crazy
2nd Pair – Shoe Review
Ahnu – Gesundheit!
2009 As for me…
Health Care Reform Now!!

Read Full Post »

A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops.
     —  General John J. Pershing
[I really wish the Draft avoider in the Oval Office would stop defaming the character of a General who (by all accounts) seems to have been a decent man and a good commander.  I do not have a great deal of knowledge about General Pershing because I’ve never studied him or his achievements.  I have recently taken the time to read about President Trump’s “claims” (lies) about the General and the stores of how he supposedly dealt with Islamic fighters while he was commanding in the Philippines.  Trump’s lies were debunked during the 2016 campaign (when he first made them) and they are being exposed again after Trump’s latest tweets on the topic.  Our President doesn’t do our military forces or its historic leaders any honor when he dishonors their achievements with lies in the attempt to make himself out to be a “tough-guy” or strong-man leader.  It just illustrates how small a man he really is.   SAD…   —   KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2016 With No Allowance For Chance?
2015 Details
2014 Here’s One…
2013 Non-Fungible Commodities
2012 Hope And Tears
2011 Just Long Enough
Meaningful Thoughts

Read Full Post »

Early on, I had an experience that, if you’re interested, made me aware that I ought to be a little careful about what I said or did.
We were invited down to James J. Kilpatrick’s – Jack Kilpatrick’s – home down in Virginia for the Sunday lunch.  And the helicopter took us off the lawn here and in about 35 minutes or so, we were at his farm, landed.  And in walking to the house, Jack was telling me about how they’d been there for a few days, putting in the phones.
Well, this was a surprise to me.  And I said, “Wait – phones?”  And then he told me that I could reach anyone in the world from there.  And I said, “Well, you mean just to have lunch away from the White House, they have to put … Well, I guess it’s true, they do it for whatever might happen.”
But he was telling me that he didn’t believe them when they were putting in the phones, that they could reach anyone in the world.  And they said, “Well, name someone.”  Well, he had a son who was on guard in an embassy in the military in Africa.  And they got the son on the phone, and his mother got to talk to him and so forth.  So, he had another son that was an enlisted man and a quartermaster on the USS Pratt.
And he asked, “Well, okay, what about him?”  The Pratt was in the Mediterranean.  And they had to say to him no, they couldn’t get him because the fleet was on maneuvers.  And when the fleet was on maneuvers, only the White House could reach them.
When we got inside, I met the young man’s wife, the one that was on the destroyer – very lovely young lady and hadn’t seen her husband for months.
I went back out, said to these fellows, “Is this true, that I could reach someone on the USS Pratt?”  And they said, “Oh, yes, Sir.”  And I said, “Well, get him.”  And I went back in and got her.  And she got to talk to her husband.
I hadn’t really thought the thing through very much until I got a letter from him, the young man, and he told me what it was like when the fleet was on maneuvers.  I hadn’t even thought that the last part of the call has to go by air, and that the air is full of radio traffic – ships talking to ships, admirals talking to admirals.  And then a voice on the air said, “White House calling.”   And he said, “Someone said, ‘What code is that?’ ” And someone else says to him, “maybe it is the White House.”
And he said, “Even Hollywood couldn’t have silenced the air as quickly as it was silenced.”  And so the phone call went through.  And, of course, it must have been pretty public with the whole fleet listening in.
And in his letter, he then said this line, he said, “It was as if God had called the Vatican and asked for an altar boy by name.”
…  Suddenly – believe me, it sobered me a little bit to discover that I could just say this and then all of this could happen.  And I was almost scared to death of what I might have done to the fleet maneuvers.
   —  President Ronald Reagan
In a interview with Susan Watters of “M” magazine
.
On This Day In:
2016 Rising From The Ashes
2015 Honor
2014 Disappointment
2013 Seeing Heart
2012 On Success
2011 What This Place Needs Is Another Theory

Read Full Post »

Like any art, the craft of battle requires proper tools, good craftsmanship and a little inspiration.  In this case, the proper tools are good weapons, sound tactics and effective organization.  Although these differ a bit from army to army, there is little to be gained by any one, or any combinations of them against a corresponding combination in the enemy’s bag.  In other words, systems, tactics and organization are about even.
What makes the difference in battle?  It is the excellence of the craftsmanship and the combined inspiration of soldiers and leaders.  It is the excellence of the training, the quality of the leaders and the courage of the soldiers, there is no doubt.  The problem is to get that courage harnessed in usable fashion and put to work on the battlefield.  That is a problem for leaders.  May I further suggest that the day of the instant hero is gone – the time when charisma alone can be made to suffice for technical skill and excellence in battle is past.  Certainly, this is so when one considers the number of competent leaders who will be required to win in modern war.  A few may be charismatic in addition to being technically competent; many, many more will not.  Therefore, the leader problem is likewise a training problem.  Quality leadership comes from sound training of leaders.
Sergeants are leaders.  Sergeants’ business is leadership.  Therefore, the sergeants must be trained as leaders – not as administrators.  The cement that binds together good weapons, sound tactics and effective organizations into winning battle teams is training.  Training develops excellence in the skills of leaders and soldiers, to the end that they have both the capability to fight the tough battles and win, and the conviction that they can and must fight hard and well, and that, if they do, and have a little luck, they will win against all odds.
   —  General Donn A. Starry
U. S. Army
.
On This Day In:
2015 However Vast The Darkness
2014 The Omnipresent Teacher
2013 Don’t Waste
2012 Earning Thanks
2011 Fuzzy Vision
2010 Movies and Book

Read Full Post »

West Of Honor – book review
Today’s review is for “West Of Honor” (1978©), written by Jerry Pournelle.  Pournelle is a famous Science Fiction writer who not only wrote great individual novels, he also wrote story lines which spanned several books – much like Robert Heinlein’s “Lazarus Long” story / timeline.  In Pournelle’s case, the premise is that the United States and the Soviet Union come together to form a “CoDominium” to 1) control the Earth and the exploration of space; and, 2) maintain their relative positions in the “new” age of space exploration.  The “future” is strangely both dystopian and optimistic.  Dystopian in that surplus population is forced into space (as cheap labor) and optimistic as some of the planets manage to build workable civilizations.  The faster than light Alderson stardrives used in the book / series “was” invented in 2004 and first used to go beyond the solar system in 2008.  LOL!!  So far, not even close…
The main character in the time-line is a “Napoleonic” figure named John Christian Falkenberg.  This book is the story of Falkenberg’s pacification of a planet.  The story is told as a first person narrative by one of Falkenberg’s junior officers – Hal Slater.  This really is a “good, old-fashioned” modern war story which just happens to take place on another planet.  You read about planetary politics, military (and medical) technology and all that, but in the end war comes down to men bleeding and dying.  To the extent Pournelle is able to convince you to believe the technology, you buy the SciFi.  To the extent he convinces you to believe in the battles and the drama, you buy the war story.  I “bought into” both and enjoyed the book tremendously.  Interestingly, victory does not necessarily lead to a “happy” ending.
Full disclosure: I first read this book back in the early 1980’s.  I also read a number of other books in the series, but I no longer have those.  I’m not sure how or when I lost them, but I suppose it was when we moved to Liverpool (or back).  In any case, I’m probably going to end up re-buying them and re-reading them.  Final recommendation: highly recommended!!  Particularly if you like SciFi Military Lit.
.
On This Day In:
2014 Sources
2013 Three Essentials
2012 Just Looking
2011 Religious Lessons
2010 View From Under The Bus… (A mid-term report card on the Obama Administration. Long, but still worth reading for historical perspective.)

Read Full Post »

“To win without a fight, we must be able to win a fight.  And we must make our adversary sure of that, by keeping multiple options that give them multiple dilemmas,” he said.  “War is a series of temporary conditions, and you lose during the transition.  Something always changes, so the question is, are we prepared for the transitions?”
   —  Gen. David Perkins,
Commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command
[This quote is taken from the article: “Army’s Doctrine Chief: Expect The Unexpected“,  in the magazine Government Executive.
The magazine web site is located at:  http://www.govexec.com/
The article can be found at: http://www.govexec.com/defense/2014/09/armys-doctrine-chief-expect-unexpected/95138/?oref=govexec_today_nl  —  KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2014 Gaps
2013 Duty
2012 Cost Not Price
Superheroes
2011 The Simple Normalcy Of Everyday Life – “Squirrel!”

Read Full Post »

Thursday I completed the novel “Ender’s Game” (1985©), written by Orson Scott Card.  The novel is an expanded version of a short story Card wrote back in 1977 for a SciFi magazine.  The book is fairly well know in SciFi circles and won both the Nebula and Hugo awards for best novel.  Both awards are for best SciF novel with the Nebula being the American award and the Hugo being the international version of same.  In addition to the “normal” SciFi crowd, the book is popular in the military community and is “expected” reading in at least one branch (U.S. Marine Corps).
Basically, the book is a coming of age story for a young (pre-teen) Caesar / Napoleonic / Alexander character who, through an undiscussed eugenics process, has been bred to lead the combined Earth forces in an interplanetary war against a race of giant ants called the “Formics”.  They are more “affectionately” called “bugs” or “buggers”.  The story traces his (Andrew “Ender” Wiggin) life from just before he leaves his family, through his “growing-up” at a military academy to the end of the war.  To say much more is to give away a substantial amount of the ending.
Despite the implausibility of a story about an 11 year old being granted the authority to lead an interplanetary armada and the short span of time between “know-nothing” to force commander, the story is a pretty good one.  The story is very much “Lord of the Flies” -In-Space, but I still found the book and the twist at the end enjoyable.  In fairness to the reader coming at the book for the first time, I must admit, I saw the movie version first and enjoyed it too.  The movie (same name) was released in late 2013, and having seen the previews, it piqued my interest.  In the end, I never saw it at the theater because I thought it was going to be a “young Harry Potter saves the world from aliens” kid’s movie.  Anyway, I remembered the movie preview and when I got a chance to catch it on the tube, I took advantage of the opportunity.  I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed it as much as I did.  This in turn led me to be on the look-out for the book(s) – there is a whole series – which I have finally gotten into.
The movie tracks the book pretty accurately, so the book’s ending wasn’t the surprise it might have been, but I felt (as usual) the book had the time and space to explain what was happening a lot better than the movie did.  This isn’t a criticism of the movie as much as it is an acknowledgement that action movies don’t lend themselves to narration accept at the beginning and ending.  In between, it’s the action which is supposed to tell the story (normally).
I found the military tactics, personal combat, team building, working on one’s craft, and the personal/internal conflict about the morality of inflicting pain and death on an enemy to all be accurate within my (very) limited experience of each.  Fortunately, I was never placed in a position to shoot / kill someone, but I still have distinct memories of basic training and realizing there was a reason the “targets” were silhouettes of the enemy instead of simple concentric rings.  We were being trained to shoot at other humans, not at bull’s-eyes’.
I found the movie interesting and enjoyable, but also troubling.  Because the book explains more, it is more troubling.  So my final recommendation for the movie is recommended, and, for the book, highly recommended.  If it’s good enough for the Marine Corps “Recommended Reading List”, it’s good enough for me!
.
On This Day In:
2014 Two Thoughts
2013 RIP – Dear Abby
Half-Life Problems
2012 To The Soul…
2011 Reverted!!

Read Full Post »

When you get this letter, it will have been just a little over a year… since I started to learn the profession of killing my brothers…  And in this year of contact with the world my respect for man has dwindled instead of increasing.  For even among the best and the best are I take it those who devote them selves to the service of Mars, there is not the self sacrificing love of fame or self denying selfishness which I feel and which I had expected in others but rather a languid lassitude careless indifference or hazy uncertainty not becoming in my estimation a soldier or a man.  But let this be: the fewer of a species there are the greater is its individual worth.  And if my nature prove incapable of the task I have set myself or if the opportunity never comes I can at least die happy in my own vanity knowing that I stood alone and that alone I fell.
  —  [then] Cadet George S. Patton, Jr.
From “The Patton Papers
Written by Martin Blumenson
.
On This Day In:
2013 Filled With Words
2012 Lectio Auget Existentiae Meae
2011 Lied Lately?
2010 Born To Work At Faux News
Lost Again (Uh, Make That Still)
Qui Genus Humanum Ingenio Superavit
They’re Back… (Part 1)

Read Full Post »

To an extent greater than the officer corps, the NCO lives and breathes the Army.  The officer is obliged to mix with the civilian community, and to a degree derives his prestige from it.  The NCO does not.  The public does not distinguish between senior sergeants and junior ones; to the average civilian, “if they were any good they’d be officers.”
Senior sergeants affect a cool disdain both upwards and downwards, toward the unprofessional enlisted man on the one hand, and toward the better-paid officer on the other.  An officer is respected precisely to the degree that he allows the NCO to do his job with a minimum of interference.  Gillis: “I can always tell a good officer because he walks through that door and he asks rather than tells.  My job?  My main job is to make that troop commander look like the best troop commander in the Army.”  Beyond that, it is to see that orders are carried out.  The officer commands, the subordinates obey, and the job of the sergeant is to enforce, to see to it that subordinates obey.  Because he understands the process, the adroit NCO can make it work for him precisely as a mechanic can tune an engine.  If you are the only one who understands the machine, you are very close to being the indispensable man.
The senior NCO acts as a buffer as well: he looks after “the welfare of the men: (the phrase recurred a dozen times in interviews), and expects that when the commander wants to know what the men think, the commander will come to him to find out.  The role is somewhat Miltonic: explaining the ways of God to man, and man to God.  The NCO is successful to the degree he protects his men and serves his commanding officer.  It is a job which calls for enormous objectivity, a total dedication to the rules of the institution, and a thorough knowledge of the Book, both that which is written and that which is not.
All that is required is that he understand the system; he has that, and the knowledge that the Army is run on the wits of sergeants.
   —     Ward Just
From his book:  “Military Men
.
On This Day In:
2013 I’d Like To
2012 2012 National League Champions – San Francisco Giants!!
2nd Viewing – No Change
Light Shining Out of Darkness
2011 Just Kickin It
Are These The “Real” Protectors Of America’s Constitution?
2010 Giants Advance To 2010 World Series!!!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: