(BRAC) BASE CLOSING HAZARD
By Ralph Vartabedian, Monterey Times Staff Writer
Forwarded by Col Art Krause USAF (Ret)
MONTEREY, Calif. - Along a seemingly a pristine stretch of Central California coastline, the Army is digging holes and sifting through a mountain of sand, looking for unexploded artillery shells, rocket- propelled grenades and other ordnance buried at the former Ft. Ord infantry base.
The last soldiers marched out of Ft. Ord10 years ago, but so far the Army has cleared just 5% of the base's firing range. The Army has unearthed more than 8,000 live shells, and the job could take another 20 years. Even then, Army officials can't guarantee they will get every last bit of ordnance.
The issues at Ft. Ord, which overlooks Monterey Bay, mirror a long list of environmental and economic disasters at closed bases across the nation, where critics say the Pentagon has badly mismanaged the cleanup and redevelopment process.
In coming weeks, the Defense Department will unveil its biggest effort yet to eliminate surplus military capacity, ordering the closure of as many as 24% of its facilities. Since 1998, there have been four rounds of military base closures.
“The economic devastation is great,” said Harry Kelso, chairman of Base Closure Partners, an advisor to base communities. “It hits the local schools, the businesses that supported the base, and you lose the direct jobs at the base. Then on top of all that, you have a contaminated piece of property.”
Radioactive contamination, lawsuits, leaking underground tanks, lost jobs, dilapidated buildings, broken promises, asbestos-laden soil and unexploded ordnance are just a sampling of the problems that have led to growing dissatisfaction and in some cases anger on both the military and civilian sides.
In almost every case, it has taken military services far longer than expected to clean up pollution at the facilities and turn the land over to local communities for redevelopment. And once local agencies have received land deeds and Pentagon assurances that pollution was properly cleaned up, they have typically discovered environmental time bombs.
“We would like to see a lot more funding to get this cleanup moving faster,” said David Brandt, an Alameda, Calif., assistant city attorney involved in redeveloping the former Alameda Naval Air Station, which was shuttered 10 years ago and still has massive contamination. “You have to spin your wheels while you wait for the federal government.”
A significant number of environmental and economic trouble spots are in California, largely because of the state's huge share of military bases. San Francisco Bay, for example, touches four Superfund pollution sites at former military bases. Other former bases account for 14 Superfund sites across the state.
Defense officials say overall they have done a good job but acknowledge that some base closures have been problematic. There are “frustrations on both sides of the equation,” said Phil Grone, the Pentagon's top official for the environment and facilities.
Base closures have saved the Defense Department $29 billion and continue to generate savings of $7 billion each year, according to the Government Accountability Office. The GAO found that the Pentagon had passed the halfway point of cleaning up most bases.
As it prepares for more closures, the Bush administration is adopting a new strategy to sell property more quickly. Essentially, it aims to privatize the cleanup and get the military agencies out of long-term environmental and economic relationships with local communities.
The Pentagon is hoping that outright sales of base property will help fund future cleanups, though that prospect is uncertain. One of its most valuable parcels, the former El Toro Marine base in Irvine, fetched far less than expected at an auction this year.
“I think we will be able to do a better job than we have in the past,” Grone said in an interview. “We know a whole lot more now about the environmental condition of our bases.”
Defense officials say they are not at fault for all the delays in getting bases redeveloped. Indeed, El Toro's redevelopment was delayed by disputes over a proposal to locate a major airport at the base. In other cases, land use restrictions have hampered redevelopment. But critics say that the military has done a terrible job and that the new policies could make matters even worse.
“You couldn't design a program to harm communities more economically, even if you intended to do it,” said Saul Bloom, executive director of Arc Ecology, an environmental group in San Francisco that has focused on military base issues. “There are no incentives for the Defense Department to do well. Nobody has ever been promoted to general for doing a good base cleanup.”
Bloom and many local leaders say federal authorities are under-funding the cleanup. The Pentagon has spent about $8.3 billion on cleanup and expects to spend an additional $3.6 billion, figures that critics say are low-ball estimates of a job that could cost many times that when completed.
Even when bases are free of serious contamination or live ordnance, communities struggle to find alternative uses for bases. When the military pulls out, it usually leaves a small self-contained city that has no practical civilian use. Once-guarded main gates are open to anybody who wanders along, including vandals and arsonists.
Almost all closed military bases have hundreds of substandard, decrepit buildings. Sewer systems are minimally functional and not up to civilian standards. Electrical grids and roads must be torn out. Some buildings lack ventilation or heating. Even toilets are an issue. “We discovered there weren't any potties,” said Kathy Broderick, senior environmental coordinator in the conversion office at former McClellan Air Force Base outside Sacramento. “They just went out back in the woods.”
That problem may be the least of the concerns at McClellan, one of the most polluted military facilities in the nation. After the base was closed, it was discovered that the Air Force had dug nine undocumented pits and dumped plutonium wastes, heavy metals and other toxins in them.
Pollution problems have delayed development of even seemingly valuable land at closed bases near major cities. After 10 years, the Bay Area's Alameda complex, for example, has a fraction of the development anticipated. Brandt, the city attorney, said the land may actually have a negative value because of contamination, including a large underground plume of trichloroethylene, a suspected carcinogen.
And as has occurred at many other bases, Alameda discovered new pollution after the Pentagon declared an area clean: After taking possession of an apartment complex, the city discovered it was contaminated with chlordane, a banned pesticide.
The Navy refused to pay for a $4-million cleanup, forcing the city to recover the money from an environmental insurance policy issued by AIG Inc. The insurance giant is now suing the Defense Department, which claims it is protected by “sovereign immunity.”
A similar issue tied up redevelopment at the former Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. A developer building new homes in 2003 discovered the soil was contaminated with asbestos from a military hospital demolished 50 years earlier. Colorado environmental regulators demanded that the asbestos be removed, at a cost of $10.5 million.
The city asked the Air Force for compensation, citing the federal law that makes the Defense Department liable for environmental cleanups at former bases. The Air Force balked, saying state officials had grossly overreacted to the asbestos. The dispute appears headed for a lawsuit, said Thomas Markham, head of the local reuse authority. “There is nothing in the federal regulations that says they don't have to pay for a cleanup just because they don't like state standards,” Markham said.
Experts say the discovery of new pollution is the norm rather than the exception at bases. “Once you put a shovel in the ground, there are always going to be surprises,” said Thomas Swoyer Jr., manager of impaired properties at Western Solutions Corp., a base closure contractor. “In one case, we were digging for asbestos in the soil and found a 500-pound bomb.”
Meanwhile, rural communities often lack the resources to cope with complex development issues. When the Army closed a munitions depot in Seneca County, N.Y., the already economically depressed community lost 900 jobs, said Glenn R. Cooke, executive director of the local reuse authority.
And the county was left with 22 warehouses with caved-in roofs and another 500 steel-reinforced concrete igloos that will cost tens of millions of dollars to demolish. The county tried to get the U.S. Interior Department to take the land as a wildlife refuge, but the agency declined.
“We barely have two nickels to rub together in this county,” Cooke said.
In affluent Monterey, such problems may not seem as relevant, but in fact the surrounding area is struggling economically with high unemployment, and the former Ft. Ord has many problems limiting its development.
The 45-square-mile base looks like it came out of a World War II time capsule with rows of clapboard-sided wooden barracks. The base has 6,000 structures, many contaminated with asbestos, PCBs and lead-based paint. At least 90% of the buildings will have to be demolished, according to Michael Houlemard, Jr., executive director of the Ft. Ord Reuse Authority.
In the middle of the base, Army contractors have begun the painstaking job of clearing unexploded ordnance accumulated over five decades. The cleanup of small sections begins with removing brush with an armored lawn mower or by burning, though that can lead to other problems.
In October 2003, the Army began a controlled burn of about 500 acres but lost control and ignited 1,470 acres. It pelted multimillion-dollar homes in Monterey, Carmel and Pacific Grove with ash and soot.
After an area is burned over, workers walk the land and look for visible ordnance to remove. Then teams sweep the area with metal detectors. Every suspicious signal from the detectors must be investigated by digging a hole, often 4 feet deep, with a hand shovel. When shells are found, they are detonated nearby, which reverberates all the way to downtown Monterey. Along with the shells, the Army has removed 3.2
million shards of rusty metal scrap.
“The fragments are driving us crazy,” said Clinton Huckins, the Army Corps of Engineers safety and quality assurance chief at the cleanup. “It is very time consuming out there, very expensive.”
What's more, there is no standard for cleaning up ordnance, unlike environmental standards for carcinogens or other toxins. The issue is being studied and debated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Defense Department.
In the meantime, nobody is sure how clean is clean enough. In one area, the Army has scraped 2 feet of soil into a giant sandy mound that it will begin sifting in coming weeks. “We can't guarantee anything,” Huckins said. “It is buyer beware.”
(BRAC) 2005 BASE CLOSURES
BRAC 2005 CONSIDERATIONS
The Base Realignment And Closure group is considering the following military bases for FY2005:
Carlisle Barracks, PA
Detroit Arsenal, MI
Fort Belvoir, VA
Fort Buchanan, PR
Fort McPherson/Gillem, GA
Fort Monmouth, NJ
Fort Monroe, VA
Fort Polk, LA (realign)
Fort Richardson, AK
Fort Sam Houston, TX
Fort Shafter, HI
Lima Army Tank Plant, OH
Natick Soldier Center, MA
Picatinny Arsenal, NJ
Redstone Arsenal, AL
Rock Island Arsenal, IL
Sierra Army Depot, CA
Yuma Proving Ground, AZ
Altus AFB, OK
Beale AFB, CA
Brooks AFB, TX
Cannon AFB, NM
Columbus AFB, MS
Ellsworth AFB, SD
Goodfellow AFB, TX
Grand Forks AFB, ND
Hanscom AFB, MA
Kirtland AFB, NM
Los Angeles AFB, CA
McConnell AFB, KS
Nellis AFB, NV (realign)
Seymour Johnson AFB, NC (realign)
Shaw AFB, SC
Vance AFB, OK
Ingleside Naval Station, TX
Naval Postgraduate School, CA
Naval Air Station Meridian, MS
Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, NJ
Naval Recreation Station Solomons Island
Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, IN
Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, VA
Navy Supply Corps School, GA
New Orleans Naval Support Activity, LA
Pascagoula Naval Station, MS
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, NH
Saratoga Springs Naval Support Unit, NY
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, GA
Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, CA (realignment)
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA
Marine Corps Mountain Warfare School, CA
Marine Reserve Support Unit, Kansas City MO
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, CA (realign or close).
(BRAC) BAD NEWS MADE GOOD
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, American Forces Press Service
AUSTIN, Texas, 3/15/2005 (AFPN) —Though the fear of losing jobs and revenue grips nearby cities and towns when the Defense Department decides to close a military installation, the bad news can be made good. Such was the case when Bergstrom Air Force Base here closed in 1993, its fate sealed by the 1991 Base Realignment and Closure process.
Jim Halbrook, public information officer with Austin’s department of aviation, was part of a transition team looking into how to make the Air Force base a viable asset for the city. The view then, he said, was “instead of this being bad news, lets make this an opportunity. To use a cliché, how can we turn lemons into lemonade?”
Bergstrom was home to two Air Force Reserve units, the 924th Fighter Wing and 10th Air Force. It also was home base for the 67th Reconnaissance Wing of what was then the Air Force’s Tactical Air Command. The 924th FW would remain at the airfield, but 10th Air Force moved to Naval Air Station Fort Worth. The 67th emerged from the closure as the 67th Intelligence Wing and moved to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio. According to DOD projections in 1993, expenditures at Bergstrom were about $17.8 million a year, and closing the base would cut costs by as much as $75.2 million between 1996 and 2001.
“The initial reaction was ‘Oh no, our local Air Force base is closing,’” Mr. Halbrook said. However, shortly after the base was put on the list for closure, he said, the city became proactive. “Everybody got behind it really quick. There was a lot of community support for it, and then the city went out with an educational process to sell the community on its plan.”
Shortly thereafter, the community approved, by 63 percent, $400 million in revenue bonds to convert Bergstrom Air Force Base into Austin’s new airport facility. As it turned out, Bergstrom’s closure was a positive for Austin, Mr. Halbrook said.
The community at first lobbied to keep the base open, citing among its many arguments that closing the base would result in loss of jobs and an economic impact of more than $339 million yearly. And, in fact, when Bergstrom closed in September 1993, it resulted in the loss of 3,940 military and 927 civilian positions. Though the 924th Fighter Wing did remain, it later was deactivated as part of the 1995 BRAC process, bringing a final end to military presence at the air base.
“Every community is, of course, different and affected differently,” Mr. Halbrook said. “But in our case, we actually benefited from the closing.” The growing city was in need of a new airport to replace the aging Robert Meuller municipal airport that had served the city since the 1930s, and when Bergstrom was listed as a possible BRAC closure, the city “immediately started looking at the airfield as a possible avenue for expansion.”
“The timing was good for us, in turning what would have been bad news into an opportunity,” he continued. “We were searching for a new airport site, and it helped that the Defense Department worked with us to make it happen. It didn’t happen overnight; it was a long process to get it built, but it has been a success story as far a redevelopment of a base, as far as a base closure and the potential it can have for opportunity,” he said.
The Bergstrom-Austin International Airport, as it was named after its conversion, opened in 1999, and now has 25 gates and serves 7.2 million passengers each year. Halbrook said the successful conversion is one of the success stories in how BRAC can benefit a community. He said the airport has created thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.
State and local taxpayers saved an estimated $200 million in land acquisition and runway construction costs alone by transforming the former base into the $690 million international airport. The airport’s contribution to the city is about $1.8 billion a year. It created roughly 35,700 jobs and 21,500 “visitor-related” jobs in the local area.
The airport’s success already has planners looking toward the future. When yearly passenger totals reach 8 million, the airport plans to add as many as 10 extra gates. If the total surpasses 10 million passengers, it may have to build a new terminal.”
Although the airport’s success has been astounding, Mr. Halbrook said the impact of Bergstrom Air Force Base still is missed. “Any time you lose $339 million — that’s significant, There is a lot of pride with having a military base within a community; people take pride in that.”
Fortunately for the city, the loss was not as devastating on the local community because the city had other viable economic interests. Nevertheless, to lessen any economic loss to the city, planners left nothing to waste on its Bergstrom reuse plan. With the plans for a new airport under way, about half the land from the old airport was sold off to private entities to build a new housing development. The rest of it became the base for the city’s new film industry.
At the former base along Spirit of Texas Avenue, the city kept many of the old buildings to be used again. The airport’s aviation department is one of many offices housed in several of them. Other base structures, including hundreds of military family housing units, were auctioned to private buyers and moved off the base.
The city also was saved from building new runways by keeping those already in place. The base’s runways were capable of handling heavy aircraft, like B-52 Stratofortress bombers. “That’s an asset for a city that wants to become an international airport to land really large planes on,” he said.
Paved roadways were reused, the materials from some of them crushed to make roadbeds for new roads at the airport. The base’s large fuel tanks also were relocated and kept for reuse. Aside from the few remaining buildings and hangars left from the conversion, the only signs of the base’s past at this modern facility are located at the pre-checkpoint side of the terminal, where a small museum relates the 52-year history of the base.
And the Defense Department has found its way back onto the grounds it once owned,. Two Army National Guard units have taken up residence at the south entrance of one of the airport’s runways. Their presence is more good news for Bergstrom International Airport and the city of Austin. “Who do you call when there is an emergency or a disaster? Who do you call to fill sandbags when there is a flood and storms?” Mr. Halbrook asked. “It’s a good thing that they are here, not only for the airport and local community, but for all of central Texas as well.”
(BRAC) BASE CLOSURE SUCCESSES
By Pat Broderick, San Diego Business Journal staff 6/27/2005
Forwarded by Dick Blaisdell
Converting former military bases to viable properties can be a long and tedious process for communities, and often can take more than a decade for them to recover from a closure. According to Harry H. Kelso, an attorney, environmental consultant and chairman and chief executive officer of Base Closure Partners, LLC, in Richmond, Va., some 28 percent of closed Department of Defense land from the 1988 to 1995 base closures still has not been transferred from the department.
Kelso considers San Diego’s Liberty Station multiuse development now under way in Point Loma, along with one he helped negotiate in 1997, the conversion of Fort Pickett in Richmond, Va., as national models.
Covering 361 acres of prime bayside property less than six minutes from Lindbergh Field, the Liberty Station project is a collaboration of the city’s redevelopment agency and San Diego-based Corky McMillin Cos. The city, Navy and airport officials still retain ownership of about 80 percent of the land at the former NTC, where, according to the San Diego Navy Historical Association, “millions of sailors have entered the gates as civilians and left weeks later as sharp, well-trained sailors in the world’s greatest Navy.” McMillin was given the right to lease and sell some of the land to offset the cost of the redevelopment, and has completed 50 percent of the infrastructure upgrades, including a 46-acre public park and promenade that intersects the entire project. NTC’s redevelopment, which includes residential, office, schools, recreation, retail and hotels, began in January 2001, with build-out expected by 2008.
The Defense Department has its own favorites:
- Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin, Texas, closed in 1993. In November 1994, groundbreaking took place on the redevelopment and construction of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the last major new airport to be built in the 20th century and considered one of the most successful military base conversions ever, according to the Defense Department. By 2012, some 16,000 new jobs and more than 725,000 square feet of new development to the area are expected.
- England Air Force Base, Alexandria, La., closed in 1992. The England Industrial Park also is one of the most successful base reuses in the country, according to the Defense Department, attracting businesses that have created or will create more than 2,000 jobs — more than double the civilian employment at the time of closure, with lease and other revenues totaling more than $8 million a year.
- Mather Air Force Base, Sacramento, closed in 1993. Converted to industrial and commercial uses, the former base hosts 45 tenants, including 17 private companies, resulting in more than 1,280 new jobs. Sacramento County also established a county homeless complex on site and acquired 1,440 acres of land for
- Pease Air Force Base, Portsmouth, N.H., closed in 1991. The establishment of the Pease International Tradeport has created more than 5,000 new jobs and has more than 175 major tenants, occupying more than one million square feet of office and industrial space.
- Grissom Air Force Base, Grissom Aeroplex, Ind., closed in 1994. There are about 40 major tenants occupying the former base, including private industries, a state prison and a golf course, with more than 1,000 civilian jobs being created.
- Charleston Naval Base, Charleston, S.C., closed in 1996. More than 50 major tenants are using the former base, including private, local, state and federal organizations. The South Carolina Port Authority has been granted a 30-year lease, which will allow it to establish a major marine cargo handling facility at the site. More than 2,700 new civilian jobs have been created.
- Long Beach Naval Complex, Long Beach, closed in 1996. More than 1,200 acres have been transferred and almost 4,000 new jobs have been created. The station’s housing sites are now used for secondary and postsecondary education facilities, a Department of Labor Job Corps site, a science and technology park,
and a transitional housing facility for the homeless.
- Orlando Naval Training Center/Naval Hospital Orlando, Orlando, Fla., closed in 1995. The city’s reuse plan for the four sites call for mixed-use redevelopment, including office parks, housing, education complexes, natural areas and federal uses. During the proposed 10-year development process, Orlando Partners expects to build more than 35,000 square feet of retail space, 1,500 million square feet of office space, 788 houses, 570 condos, and 1,800 apartments, and include three neighborhood centers, two public schools, and more than 200 acres of parks and open space. The property value upon completion of the main site is estimated at more than $1 billion.
- Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Aurora, Colo., closed in 1999. More than 1,000 new jobs have been created, and reuse has included several creative projects - a state-of-the-art Life Sciences City, resulting in a unique partnership with the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, its affiliated University of Colorado Hospital, the city of Aurora, the Children’s Hospital, and the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority. About half of the redevelopment program, as well as 19,000 jobs, will be at the site by 2010.
- Fort Benjamin Harrison, Lawrence, Ind., closed in 1996. More than 450 acres have been resold to developers, who have brought more than 1,000 jobs to the area; more than 1 million square feet of new space has been constructed or is under construction; and total property sales have exceeded $16 million. The development includes new homes, senior citizen housing, and a YMCA. Seven former barrack buildings are under renovation to be sold as 96 luxury condos; and about 1.2 million square feet of historic structures have been renovated at an estimated investment of $10 million. Also, the city of Lawrence has completed the construction of a new government center, which will become the cornerstone
of the city’s new town center.
- Cameron Station, Alexandria, Va., closed in 1988. More than 2,000 housing units were constructed, along with recreational facilities and commercial space. The Army also transferred more than 50 acres of parkland to the city, using a public benefit conveyance to preserve open space for the community.
San Diego Business Journal, Copyright © 2005, All Rights Reserved.
Note from Jug: See also article Glenview NAS Conversion,under NAVY, left column, Keeping Apace home page.
(BRAC) MORE BASES SCHEDULED TO CLOSE
From the Associated Press, February 21, 2005
WASHINGTON - Safe for a decade, military bases in the United States face an uncertain future. The Pentagon plans to shut down or scale back some of the 425 facilities, the first such effort to save money in 10 years. The downsizing is part of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's long-term transformation of the Cold War-era military.
The Pentagon chief argues that closing or consolidating stateside facilities could save $7 billion annually and that the money would be better spent improving fighting capabilities amid threats from terrorists. “The department continues to maintain more military bases and facilities than are needed, consuming and diverting valuable personnel and resources,” Rumsfeld recently told lawmakers.
Shrinking the domestic network of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps bases is a certain source of savings. It also is a high-stakes political fight because it affects local economies in congressional districts. Lawmakers have resisted efforts to shutter their bases, challenging past base closing rounds and lobbying hard to keep their installation off the final list. “It's the perfect example of good policy and good politics not fitting in the same room together,” said Christopher Hellman, an analyst with the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation in Washington.
“Conceptually, lawmakers buy the argument that base closures are important to make sure they are spending resources wisely. But they are reticent of closing bases in their cities because of job losses,” Hellman said. Rumsfeld has estimated that extra base capacity is at nearly 25 percent. But Republican lawmakers said the secretary recently told them that the cuts will not be as deep, in part because the military needs a home for 70,000 troops returning from Europe.
The Pentagon says that all domestic bases are under consideration, but clearly some are more vulnerable than others. Topping the list are aging facilities, small bases used by only one of the four services and large installations whose missions, training, ammunition or weapons are outdated. The Northeast is home to many bases configured to defend against the Soviet threat. They could absorb the biggest hit now that many former Soviet bloc nations are U.S. allies.
Congress authorized the fifth round of Base Realignment and Closure - commonly known as BRAC - last year. The first deadline in the yearlong process is March 15, when President Bush must name a nine-member commission that will review a list of closures that Rumsfeld will propose by May.
Congressional leaders have submitted their six recommendations. Bush will make his three choices known shortly. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., selected retired Gen. John G. Coburn, a former Army deputy chief of staff, and retired Navy Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., a former supreme allied commander of the Atlantic. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., offered former Rep. James V. Hansen, R-Utah, and former Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada picked former Democratic Rep. James Bilbray, D-Nev. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., recommended Phillip E. Coyle, a former Pentagon official and a defense researcher.
As the process gets under way, lawmakers and communities are stepping up efforts to show their bases are essential. They also are lobbying for new missions and projects for their facilities to make the bases less attractive for closure.
Congress authorized the closures last year, rejecting a delay until 2007. Still, some Republicans and Democrats continue to fight. “I will try to stop it at any point and in any way I possibly can,” said Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. Closing bases while the country is at war is “the worst possible timing,” Lott says. He lobbied hard during previous rounds to keep open the Meridian Naval Air Station in Mississippi, which barely escaped closure. It could be targeted again this year.
Other lawmakers say the round will go forward. “We had a debate. We voted. We had a majority say we're going forward. How could you possibly reverse it? It would be crazy,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it was essential for the military to eliminate “those bases, structures, buildings, compounds that aren't on the very edge of what we need to defend ourselves.”
The Pentagon estimates that previous closures in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995 eliminated 20 percent of domestic bases and saved about $16.7 billion through 2001, and roughly $7 billion annually since. Congress has refused repeated requests by the Pentagon to close more bases since 1995. Part of the reason was lingering Republican distrust after President Clinton moved to ease the economic impact from two base closings in vote-rich California and Texas just before his re-election campaign in 1996.
In 2001, with Clinton out of office, the Pentagon nearly got its wish for closures in 2003. But after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress delayed the closures until this year.
A LIBERAL THORN IN OUR SIDES
By Norman Campbell, MSGT, USAF (Ret)
Cindy Williams is a radical product of the “hate the military” faction of the Clinton Administration, which means most of them. A mathematics PHD, she has never served one day in the military and therefore to put it bluntly, she does not know what the hell she is talking about.
She has no idea of the hardships of military life, thinks she can create a military that endures these hardships 24/7 and “reward” them by gearing their pay and benefits to something less than federal employees pay and benefits (or to Eastern European military pay and benefits - a major study effort of her group).
She is a darling of the liberal Eastern Media who, in most instances, don't know what they are talking about either. But they are ready in an instant to fire away and criticize the military pay and allowances system.
Having served as assistant director of the Congressional Budget Office and a member of the Senior Executive Service of the Office of Secretary of Defense, she now heads up a research project at MIT. She edited two books, both critical of the US military personnel system. Her latest bomb shell was a 41-page “occasional paper” published in September 200. It is still on the Internet under the title, “Transforming the Rewards for Military Service.”
The New York Times loved it and had her write a long editorial all about her recommendations. In this paper, among other things, she recommended the increase in TRICARE Fees, immediate elimination of TFL, and elimination and/or reduction in survivor programs.
She is powerful, and her writings are a forecast for what is coming. So much so, that one of the major veterans organizations starts preparing counter measures to fight what she proposes the minute her writings are released.
Because DOD and committees advising DOD seem to follow what she recommends, I have tried to determine the connection between the government (DOD) and this MIT study group.
The study group claims to be supported by several large foundations, but not a word about any government funding. (But you can't convince me that there isn't some connection here someplace!)
Back in 2001, she was recommending in her writing that, upon retirement, military retirees should wait until they are 60 years old before collecting retirement pay - and these committees making recommendations to DOD are now recommending the same thing.
Many of you know about this radical, but for those who don't, she is poison to military retirees.
MSgt. USAF (Retired)
ne obliviscaris - (never forget)
ABSENCE OF AMERICA’S UPPER CLASS IN MILITARY
Copyright 2006 ABC NewsInternet Ventures
By Kathy Roth-Douquet [http://roth-douquet.com/ ]
August 3, 2006- - Thanks to Sen. John McCain's youngest son checking into Marine Corps boot camp, the number of Congress members with enlisted children will skyrocket a whopping 50 percent. He joins the armed forces with two other enlisted and a few officer children of those serving in Congress in this nation at war, meaning that in all, about 1 percent of U.S. representatives and senators have a child in uniform.
And the Capitol building is no different from other places where the leadership class of this country gather — no different from the boardrooms, newsrooms, ivory towers and penthouses of our nation. Less than 1 percent of today's graduates from Ivy League schools go on to serve in the military.
Why does it matter? Because, quite simply, we cannot remain both the world's great power and a robust democracy without a broad sense of ownership — of all classes but particularly the leadership classes — in the military. Our military is too consequential, and the implications of our disconnect from it too far-reaching. We are on the wrong path today.
Those who opine, argue, publish, fund and decide courses of action for our country rarely see members of their families doing the deeds these leaders would send them to do, deeds which have such moment in the world. These deeds hardly begin and end with the Iraq War — 200,000 U.S. troops are deployed in 130 other countries around the world, keeping it “flat,” in Thomas Friedman's phrase.
They train other nation's security forces, help keep the peace, provide humanitarian assistance, rescuing Americans from Lebanon, standing ready to go to Darfur if sent, to go wherever the country calls on them for assistance — in short they do the complex work of the world's sole superpower. Yet these doers are strangers to most of us, and the very missions they do are mysterious.
When the deciders are disconnected from the doers, self-government can't work as it should. Most of these decisions about whether and how to use the U.S. military are hard, and we need to be as best equipped to make them as possible. We need to be intellectually capable — have real knowledge about what the military in fact does, but we also need to be morally capable, which means we need a moral connection to those Americans we send into harm's way. Moreover, we need the largest pool of talent from which to draw those troops. Military work must not simply become fee for service.
A Duke University study demonstrates that it matters whether civilian decision makers have military experience: A review of U.S. foreign policy over nearly two centuries shows that when we have the fewest number of veterans in leadership and staff positions in Congress and the Executive branch, we are most likely to engage in aggressive (as opposed to defensive) war fighting. And we are most likely to pull out of conflicts early.
A study by the eminent military sociologist Charles Moskos shows that the population of a democracy is not willing to sustain military engagements over time if the leadership class does not also serve in the armed forces. Its lack of service sends a signal that the conflict is not vital, or worthwhile. Since we don't know what conflicts will come — or which party will be in power when they do — these findings should matter to all of us.
The Triangle Institute of Security Studies has tracked the growing disconnect between the military and the leadership, and finds evidence of a growing distrust of both groups toward each other. The group in America that reports having the lowest opinion of the military is the elites: They are almost six times more likely than members of the military to say they would be “disappointed if a child of mine decided to serve.”
In past wars — even long-haul wars like the Cold War — the Kennedys, the Bushes, the Sulzbergers of The New York Times served. Sure, there were always shirkers, but many did join their middle-class and working-class compatriots. Today narrow self-interest, a sense of “other priorities” or a misguided sense of moral preference means most of the upper class never considers military service.
In my own travels talking about this issue, the most problematic comment I've come across is an idea expressed by many, including many in the upper classes, that it is somehow more moral to refrain from military service than to serve, because that way one can avoid an “immoral” war.
There are so many problems with this statement. Certainly it shows a misunderstanding of military service. Military service is not about our political opinions (which can after all be wrong). The oath given at the “pinning on” ceremony for a second lieutenant or a general involves not a promise to fight a particular war or support a given president but to protect and defend the Constitution. That 230-year-old piece of paper says that the people elect representatives who deploy the military as part of the political process. Young men and women who join the military do not know what future conflicts or engagements will bring. They even know that some of the decisions that flow from the deciders will be flawed, because people are flawed.
But service members also know that Americans will be sent to do the nation's bidding. And we want those who are sent to act with skill, judgment and integrity. Many of those who serve see that Americans are being sent to act in agency of our country and say, as the famous sage Rabbi Hillel said, “If not me, who?”
Military service is not a political statement. Democrats did not rush to sign up when Clinton became president, and wealthy Republicans didn't suddenly join when Bush was elected. Military service is service to the country, and even more perhaps, service to your fellows.
But how can we expect privileged young people to do military work? Military work is dangerous. You could be asked to kill or be killed. It is fraught with the risk of being sent into an unpopular conflict, as many now understand Iraq to be. Why should the children of our leadership classes or those ambitious for leadership chose such a path, when there are so many better options available to them?
In World War I, one of Congress's stated reasons for proposing a draft was that without it, too many of the upper-class children would rush to service, and we'd lose the leadership class of the country. In 1956 a majority of the graduating classes of Stanford, Harvard and Princeton joined the military, and most were not drafted. Leadership was then understood to have a moral dimension — the cry “follow me” was more convincing than “charge!” Those who aspired to future leadership saw service as a hallmark of credibility.
As a country we have stopped presenting military service as a principled statement. We sell it instead as a job opportunity, one from which those with “better options” are excused. We need to revisit our stance on who should serve, and why. All members of our elites need not serve, just a representative number, enough to bring the leadership in line with the rest of the country, to bring the wisdom and perspective that in the aggregate can come with experience and responsibility. With such leaders, with such a military, we will be a stronger, fairer, better country. With such leaders, the enlistment plans of young Jimmy McCain need not seem so surprising.
Kathy Roth-Doquet co-wrote “AWOL, The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service and How It Hurts Our Country” (Harper Collins, 2006).
AMERICAN SERVICE MEMBERS LEAVE ICELAND
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
9/28/2006 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) — A 65-year segment of history ends Sept. 30, when the last American servicemembers based in Iceland leave that country.
U.S. servicemembers will continue to work with, train with and operate with their NATO ally, but troops will not be based in the island nation, said Thomas F. Hall, assistant defense secretary for Reserve Affairs and the man who negotiated the U.S.-Iceland agreement.
Mr. Hall said the last American servicemembers will take down the U.S. flag at Naval Air Station Keflavik at 5 p.m. Sept. 30 and then depart.
The United States will continue to defend Iceland as part of the 1951 Defense Agreement between the two nations and as a NATO ally. An attack on one NATO nation is considered an attack on all.
In March 2006, the United States announced the decision to close American facilities on the island and reassign the servicemembers. Since then, U.S. and Icelandic officials have been working together to craft the new relationship.
At one time, Iceland had more than 10,000 U.S. servicemembers based there. Then, the threats came from first Nazi Germany and then the Soviet Union. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the threats have changed and come from new directions: terrorism, international crime and drug trafficking, Mr. Hall said.
The United States is stepping up its coordination with Iceland to help maintain the security of the country and the region against such emerging threats. U.S. forces could go back into the country quickly if conventional threats re-emerged, Mr. Hall said. The assistant secretary said there will be at least yearly exercises and U.S. ships will visit the nation on a regular basis.
Even before the U.S. entry into World War II, the U.S. government vowed to defend Iceland. In 1940, Denmark, which then had sovereignty over Iceland, fell to the Nazis. British troops moved into Iceland to defend the nation, which has never had a standing military force.
In July 1941, U.S. forces landed in Keflavik and replaced the Brits. With a few short breaks, American servicemembers have provided security for Iceland ever since.
During World War II and the Cold War, Iceland was critical to keeping the sea lines of communication open. The U.S. maintained aircraft on Iceland to defend Iceland and the North Atlantic sealanes against conventional military threats: submarines, ships and aircraft. But those threats no longer exist.
A State Department official said the new agreement builds upon “our ironclad commitment” to defend Iceland under the 1951 Defense Agreement and the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty. “The package also puts us on course to see that Iceland's security needs are met and that Iceland contributes to global security requirements in deterring terrorism and countering trafficking in drugs and persons and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” Mr. Hall said.
Since the 1940s, most American forces based in Iceland were stationed at Naval Air Station Keflavik.
AMERICANS FOR THE MILITARY
Petition Asks President Bush To Revise Clinton-era Engineering In The Military
America is extremely proud of the men and women who continue to serve in the War on Terrorism, but questions persist about the consequences of Clinton-era social engineering in the military. In the earliest days of the fierce Battle of Iraq, the nation learned of the violent capture of three brave female soldiers. Two were single mothers, and one of them never came home.
Many people have asked what they can do to prevent these policies from being accepted as the status quo for future wars. In response, the Center for Military Readiness has launched the national Americans for the Military petition campaign, which could provide constructive answers. The text of the petition to President George W. Bush, which individuals can sign electronically and forward to others, is posted at www.americansforthemilitary.com. [http://americansforthemilitary.com/.]
The petition respectfully asks President Bush to direct uniformed and civilian Pentagon officials to objectively review and revise social policies that undermine readiness, discipline and morale. These include:
- Assignments of female soldiers in or near land combat units with a high risk of capture;
- Admittedly inefficient co-ed basic training;
- Prolonged family separations and pregnancy policies that detract from readiness; and
- Gender-based recruiting “goals” and quotas that hurt morale and increase costs.
All of these policies were imposed administratively during the Clinton administration, and can be revised the same way.
In announcing the Americans for the Military petition, CMR President Elaine Donnelly expressed the hope that President Bush will direct the Pentagon to review and revise problematic social policies long before the next mobilization begins.
“The Defense Department is trying to transform the services into a more flexible, efficient force, and the Army has just announced a new program to restore a “warrior ethos” in all trainees. There is no need to retain problematic policies such as co-ed basic training, which make military life more difficult and more dangerous,” she said.
CMR is reaching out to networks of military families and pro-defense civilians who support our men and women in uniform. A number of large and influential organizations have joined CMR in spreading the word about the Americans for the Military petition. They include Eagle Forum, Concerned Women for America, the American Conservative Union, Accuracy in Media, the Family Research Council, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, the Howard Center, Coalitions for America, American Values, the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, the Patrick Henry Center, the Young America's Foundation, and Focus on the Family.
The Center for Military Readiness, an independent public policy organization that specializes in military personnel issues. Information about topics addressed on the petition can be found on CMR's website, www.cmrlink.com. [http://www.cmrlink.com.]
CENTER FOR MILITARY READINESS
If you are seriously interested in becoming more aware of issues affecting our military establishment now and in the future, we recommend you log onto the Center for Military Readiness.
This is an independent, non-partisan educational organization formed to take a leadership role in promoting sound military personnel policies in the armed forces, with emphasis on women.
It is a unique alliance of civilians, active duty military and retired military in all 50 states — and one of the few such organizations that concentrates on military personnel issues full-time.
We have read (and occasionally reprinted) articles from its CMR Newsletter offering new and interesting insights to ongoing problems and policy changes. Some of this information is seldom reported in the mainstream press so we otherwise may not have known about it — and even if reported by others, certainly not with the depth and clarity presented by CMR.
CMR's web site http://www.cmrlink.org/ [http://www.cmrlink.org/] offers detailed information about its activities, principles, issues and current topics that will let you decide for yourself, so log on and learn a lot! You probably will want to mark it as a favorite site to come back to frequently.
You will alsp find this site listed under WEB LINKS in the left column of our home page.
CLASHING MILITARY CULTURES
By RALPH PETERS
Author of Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace
Forwarded by Tom Dyer
April 13, 2005 — Last month, I sat in the office of Col. Jon “Dog” Davis, a veteran Marine aviator. While at war, the Corps' pilots had seen a rise in their accident rate. Davis was determined to do something about it. I wanted to be sympathetic, so I said, “Well, you're flying some very old aircraft.”
Davis, a taut, no-nonsense Marine, looked me in the eye and said, “They may be old, but they're good. That's no excuse.”
As commander of the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 out in Yuma, Ariz., Davis could have nodded and gone along, blaming the jets and helicopters. But he's a Marine. And Marines don't make excuses. They do their best with what the taxpayers give them. And their best is pretty damn good.
Contrast that with a recent conversation I had with two Air Force generals. I had written columns critical of the platinum-plated F/A-22, the most expensive fighter in history and an aircraft without a mission. So the Air Force decided to lobby me.
Those two generals spun the numbers until the stone-cold truth was buried under a mantra of “air dominance,” imaginary combat roles and financial slight-of-hand. Still, I wanted to be fair. I took them seriously and investigated their claims.
Not one thing they said held up under scrutiny.
Morally bankrupt, the Air Force is willing to turn a blind eye to the pressing needs of soldiers and Marines at war in order to get more of its $300-million-apiece junk fighters. With newer, far more costly aircraft than the Marines possess, the Air Force pleads that it just can't defend our country without devouring the nation's defense budget.
Meanwhile, Marine aviators fly combat missions in aging jets and ancient helicopters, doing their best for America - and refusing to beg, lie, cheat or blame their gear.
I had gone out to Yuma to speak to Dog Davis' Marines about future war. The truth is they should have been lecturing to me. There is nothing more inspiring than being around United States Marines (yes, a retired Army officer wrote that). The Corps does more with its limited resources than any other branch of government. The Marines are a bargain rivaled only by our under-funded Coast Guard.
Even the military installations are different. A Marine base is well- maintained and perfectly groomed, but utterly without frills. Guest quarters are Motel 6, not the St. Regis. Air Force bases are the country clubs of la vie militaire.
Meanwhile, the Air Force twiddles its thumbs and dreams of war with China. Its leaders would even revive the Soviet Union, if they could. Just to have something to do. If you go into the Pentagon these days, you'll find only half of the building is at war. The Army and Marine staffs (the latter in the Navy Annex) put in brutal hours and barely see their families. The Navy, at least, is grappling with the changed strategic environment.
Meanwhile, the Air Force staff haunts the Pentagon espresso bar and lobbies for more money. The Air Force hasn't forgotten how to fight. But it only wants to fight the other services.
Recently, the blue-suiters have been floating one of the most disgraceful propositions I've ever encountered in Washington (and that's saying something). I heard the con directly from one of the Air Force generals who tried to sell me on the worthless F/A-22. The poison goes like this: “The Air Force and Navy can dominate their battle space. Why can't the Army and Marines?”
Let me translate that: At a time when soldiers and Marines are fighting and dying in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the Air Force shamefully implies that our ground forces are incompetent, hinting that, if the Air Force ran the world, we'd get better results. How low can a service go? Not a single Air Force fighter pilot has lost his life in combat in Iraq. But the Air Force is willing to slander those who do our nation's fighting and dying.
As for the vile proposition itself, well, it's easy to “dominate your battle space” if you don't have anyone to battle. Our fighter-jock Air Force doesn't have an enemy (Air Force special-ops and transport crews, as well as ground-liaison personnel, serve magnificently - but the generals regard them as second-class citizens).
While courage is certainly required, Air Force and Navy combat challenges are engineering problems, matters of physics and geometry. Our Army and Marines, by contrast, face brutally human, knife-fight conflicts that require human solutions.
The Air Force is about metal. The Marines and Army deal in flesh and blood - in problems that don't have clear or easy solutions.
Hey, if the Air Force knows of a simple, by-the-numbers way to win the War on Terror, combat insurgents in urban terrain and help battered populations rebuild their countries, the generals in blue ought to share the wisdom. (They've certainly been paid enough for it.)
But the Air Force doesn't have any solutions. Just institutional greed. Their strategy? Trash our troops. Lie about capabilities and costs. Belittle the genuine dangers facing our country, while creating imaginary threats. Keep the F/A-22 buy alive, no matter what it takes. A little while ago I wrote that our Air Force needed to be saved from itself. Now I'm no longer sure salvation is possible.
If you want to see how to fly and fight, call in the Marines.
Toki Endo E-Mail [mailto:toki.r.endo@Boeing.com ] is an engineer with Boeing. His brother, Nori, is a retired Navy fighter pilot, former Navpro Grumman, and F-14 project manager. He is retired and living in Annapolis. Here are Toki Endo’s comments about this article:
I have no qualms with Ralph Peters’ argument. The Air Force has been and always will be a fighter pilot mentality. Fighter Pilot Generals (FPGs) tell the procurement agencies what to buy. The problem with Air Force procurement system is that engineers make the technical decisions but receive the performance requirements from the FPGs. To illustrate the issues with technocrats buying warfighter equipment, I relate this little story:
I once attended an advanced electronic warfare course where an engineer from W-PAFB (procuring agency for electronic warfare equipment) proclaimed the infallibility of a jammer pod that was strapped on to an F4. A Wild Weasel WSO veteran in attendance asked the engineer why the pod was painted white. The engineer said it was required by the MIL-SPEC. A film was shown that had a split screen supposedly of an SA-3 radar acquisition screen and an optical view of the F4 inbound to the target at low altitude. My hats off to a WSO who asked what optics were used to track the F4. The engineer answered that is was a copy of the Russian ZSU 37mm gun layer optics. Amazingly, the jammer obliterated the acquisition radar . Meanwhile the gun optics operator dutifully kept his cross hairs on the shiny white spot beneath the F4's left wing. When I worked on the B-2 displays, the engineers designed the cockpit displays with engineering in mind. I had a heck of a time convincing them that an ordinary AF pilot didn't give a hoot about the numeric readout of the turbine blade vibration (TBV) but only if it was in limits, i.e., management by exception.
Guess what? When the USAF operational pilots evaluated the cockpit displays, TBV went to the warning and cautions display as a Red or Yellow panel light. Within the AF I understand that “bomber” general was top dog so the FPG's had to support the B-2 instead of their own pet projects. But let's face it, there's a limited budget and whoever is in political control of the military will win the largest part of the budget. When a Marine becomes CJCS, they will get a lion's share of the budget. Look back in history - the service with the CJCS, they got the biggest cut. Let's face it, it's politics that dictate weaponry.
I sincerely believe that the AF ought to reopen the A-10 Warthog production line. It's not only a great tank killer but an outstanding CAS weapon also. It should, though, be modified so that it can fire either the 30mm depleted uranium slugs for tank busting or 20mm for ground support. What the heck is wrong with bringing back the Spad but updated to a turboprop and installing a titanium tub around the pilot. That sucker had loiter time and could carry a whale of a weapons load.
The F-22 will never serve as a CAS or fighter bomber. If you start hanging ordnance on that beauty, speed and stealth die. So what is it built for? Air-to-air and nothing more. It's an F-15C replacement and that is it - end of story.
COLD WAR MEDALS
The Department of Defense will not be creating a Cold War Service medal, and commemorative medals being sold by private vendors are not authorized for wear on military uniforms.
Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen approved a Cold War Recognition Certificate in 1999, and the Army, as executive agent, has been responsible for issuing them to any eligible applicant.
The certificate recognizes all service members and federal employees who faithfully served in the U.S. military during the Cold War era. For certificate purposes, that era is the end of World War II, Septtmber 2, 1945, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, December 26, 1991.
An e-mail distributed beginning in 2001 saying that a Cold War medal had been approved was inaccurate.
The only official site to apply for a Cold War Recognition Certificate is the Army's Web site [http://www.coldwar.army.mil ].
Any other sites offering certificates, replicas or other commemoratives for sale are neither official nor endorsed by Department of Defense or any of the individual services.
COMMISSARY CONCEPT BEGAN IN 1866
By Dr. Peter D. Skirbunt, Defense Commissary Agency historian
9/28/2006 - FORT LEE VA (AFPN) – The military commissary benefit is almost 140 years old.
In 1866, Congress authorized the Army to sell food items, at cost, to officers and enlisted men, starting July 1, 1867. These sales were at every Army post with a subsistence warehouse. Sales areas were simply a table or counter in the warehouse, and the official stock list was only 82 items.
In the early years of the 20th century, commissaries have become similar to civilian grocery stores and supermarkets in terms of both layout and the number of items offered for sale. In the last 15 years, store facilities have been further upgraded, more people have become eligible to enjoy the benefit, and customer savings have increased. In 191, commissaries provided average customer savings of 20 percent when compared with local grocery chains. Today, the average savings are more than 30 percent.
The Defense Commissary Agency will mark its 15th anniversary Oct. 1. Congress and the Department of Defense created DeCA in 1991 by consolidating the military services' retail grocery operations into one organization.
“With sales of over $5 billion, all 'at cost' to our customers, this agency continues to save taxpayer dollars while delivering a vital military benefit important to military family quality of life and the recruiting and retention of military personnel,” said Patrick Nixon, DeCA Director. “The word 'DeCA' has become synonymous for leading change and achieving results. We're proud to have accomplished so much in our short lifetime as an agency.”
Through funding of customer surcharge dollars, the agency has strived to provide military families with a shopping experience comparable to civilian sector stores. Recently, DeCA has opened 86 new stores, remodeled or renovated 64 existing ones, and upgraded and modernized more than a hundred more. In 2007, DeCA will open its “store of the future” — a prototype upon which facets of other stores will be modeled - at Naval Base San Diego.
The Congress-mandated surcharge has remained at 5 percent since 1983. The number of items stocked by commissaries has increased, from about 13,000 in the largest stores in 1991 to 17,000 in 2006. National Guard and Reserve personnel, always key components of the military, were granted full-time commissary benefits in 2004.
In most commissaries, ID checks have been moved from the front door to the registers for the convenience of customers. Other conveniences such as self-checkouts, sushi bars, hot foods, deli-bakeries, credit and debit card acceptance, gift certificates and much more have been added to modern commissaries.
“We're actively involved in our communities as well,” Mr. Nixon said. “The Scholarships for Military Children, funded by manufacturers and brokers that sell groceries in commissaries, has awarded more than $4 million and nearly 3,000 scholarships to military children.”
When natural disasters strike military installations, as happened last year when hurricanes Rita and Katrina hit Gulf Coast installations, commissaries provide crucial aid to military and civilian families in need of food and supplies. When commissaries were severely damaged, temporary stores brought some sense of normality to affected customers.
Commissaries provide a substantial savings, particularly in high-cost-of-living areas of the country, and overseas they provide a morale boosting “taste of home” by providing familiar American food products.
“Commissaries have become increasingly important in the military community,” Mr. Nixon said. “There is a growing recognition that the commissary benefit serves our people in uniform wherever they are stationed. When forces deploy, the families left behind depend upon their local community services, including the commissaries, to see them through tough, lonely times. The Defense Commissary Agency is ready to continue providing this highly valued military benefit for years to come.”
DFAS - "MYPAY" PROGRAM
Forwarded by p38bob
The Defense Finance and Accounting Service’s web-based myPay system allows customers to access and control their pay account information.
Today, myPay has nearly 3 million users with customized personal identification numbers (PIN) and serves all military members, military retirees and annuitants, Department of Defense civilian employees and Department of Energy employees.
Receipt of electronic LES and other financial information eliminates the risks associated with postal delivery while providing members up-to-date information on pertinent changes by delivering notices to users' email addresses.
The program recently inaugurated new enhancements and upgrades to benefit Navy personnel. Now users can:
- Assign a “restricted access PIN” to a designated individual to view the information, but cannot make any changes to the allotments or account information;
- Add a personal email address, so users are notified of pay changes and other items of interest.
Members of the retiree community who do not have myPay accounts are encouraged to visit the DFAS myPay web site at http://mypay.dfas.mil [http://mypay.dfas.mil] and click on Need a New PIN. Information is also available on what changes can be made using myPay.
DIFFERENTIAL THEORY IN THE MILITARY
ACTION UPON ENCOUNTERING A SNAKE
Forwarded by JayPMarine
No original source was given. We can thus only surmise that the author must have been either a disgruntled short-timer with dislike for anything military, or a been-there-done-that long-timer with a good sense of self-depreciating humor that overlooked none of us.
- INFANTRY: Snake smells them, leaves area.
- AIRBORNE: Lands on and kills the snake.
- ARMOR: Runs over snake, laughs, and looks for more snakes.
- AVIATION: Has Global Positioning Satellite coordinates to snake. Can't find snake. Returns to base for refuel, crew rest and manicure.
- RANGER: Plays with snake, then eats it.
- FIELD ARTILLERY: Kills snake with massive Time On Target barrage with three Forward Artillery Brigades in support. Kills several hundred civilians as unavoidable collateral damage. Mission is considered a success and all participants (i.e., cooks, mechanics and clerks) are awarded Silver Stars.
- SPECIAL FORCES: Makes contact with snake, ignores all State Department directives and Theater Commander Rules of Engagement by building rapport with snake and winning its heart and mind. Trains it to kill other snakes. Files enormous travel settlement upon return.
- COMBAT ENGINEER: Studies snake. Prepares in-depth doctrinal thesis in obscure five series Field Manual about how to defeat snake using counter mobility assets. Complains that maneuver forces don't understand how to properly conduct doctrinal counter-snake ops.
- NAVY SEAL: Expends all ammunition and calls for naval gunfire support in failed attempt to kill snake. Snake bites SEAL and retreats to safety. Hollywood makes fantasy film in which SEALS kill Muslim extremist snakes.
- NAVY: Fires off 50 cruise missiles from various types of ships, kills snake and makes presentation to Senate Appropriations Committee on how naval forces are the most cost-effective means of anti-snake force projection.
- MARINE: Kills snake by accident while looking for souvenirs. Local civilians demand removal of all US forces from Area of Operations.
- MARINE RECON: Follows snake, gets lost.
- COMBAT CONTROLLERS: Guides snake elsewhere.
- PARA-RESCUE JUMPER: Wounds snake in initial encounter, then works feverishly to save snake's life.
- QUARTERMASTER: Posts notice that the anti-snake equipment is on backorder.
- C-17 TRANSPORT PILOT: Receives call for anti-snake equipment, delivers two weeks after due date.
- F-15 PILOT: Misidentifies snake as enemy Mil-24 Hind helicopter and engages with missiles. Crew chief paints snake kill on aircraft.
- F-16 PILOT: Finds snake, drops two CBU-87 cluster bombs, and misses target, but gets direct hit on Embassy 100 KM East of snake due to weather - too hot also too cold, was clear but too overcast, too dry with rain, unlimited ceiling with low cloud cover etc. Claims that purchasing multimillion dollar high-tech snake-killing device will enable in the future to kill all snakes and achieve a revolution in military affairs.
- AH-64 APACHE PILOT: Unable to locate snake, snakes don't show well on infrared. Infrared only operable in desert AO's without power lines or SAM's.
- UH-60 BLACK HAWK PILOT: Finds snake on fourth pass after snake builds bonfire, pops smoke, lays out VS 17 to mark landing zone. Rotor wash blows snake into fire.
- B-52 PILOT: Pulls arc light mission on snake. Kills snake and every other living thing within two miles of target.
- MINUTEMAN MISSILE CREW: Lays in target coordinates to snake in 20 seconds, but can't receive authorization from National Command Authority to use nuclear weapons.
- INTELLIGENT OFFICER: Snake? What snake? Only four of 35 indicators of snake activity are currently active. We assess the potential for snake activity as LOW.
- JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL: Snake declines to bite, citing grounds of professional courtesy.
- SIGNAL CORPS: Tries to communicate with snake… fails repeated attempts. Complains that the snake did not have the correct fill or did not know how to work equipment a child could operate. Signal Officer informs the commander that he could easily communicate with the snake using just his voice. Commander insists that he NEEDS to videoconference with the snake, with real-time streaming positional and logistical data on the snake displayed on video screens to either side. Gives Signal Corps $5 Billion to make this happen. SigO abuses the two smart people in the corps to make it happen, while everybody else stands around, bitches, and takes credit. In the end, General Dynamics and several subcontractors make a few billion dollars, the two smart people get out and go to work for them, and the commander gets what he asked for only in fiber-optic based simulations. The snake is forgotten.
DOD ANSWERS QUESTIONS
DOD answers to the following question, and others [http://www.defenselink.mil/faq/people_records.html ].
Question: How can one attain military records?
Answer: The individual military departments do NOT maintain files or records pertaining to individuals no longer on active duty. When an individual is separated from military service (because of retirement, discharge from active duty, or death) his/her Field Personnel File (containing all military and health records) is forwarded for storage to the National Personnel Records Center (Military), 700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63172.
The Records Center is under the jurisdiction of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) of the U.S. Government at this website [http://www.archives.gov/research_room/obtain_copies/veterans_service-records.html ].
An individual's complete service record is available to the former service member or, if deceased, to his/her next of kin (parents, spouse, or children). Limited information (such as dates of service, awards, and training) is available to anyone. Not available to the general public is information which would invade an individual's privacy, such as medical records, Social Security number, or present address.
An individual's complete service record is available to the former service member or, if deceased, to his/her next of kin (parents, spouse, or children). Limited information (such as dates of service, awards, and training) is available to anyone. Not available to the general public is information which would invade an individual's privacy, such as medical records, Social Security number, or present address.
The St. Louis Center receives many thousands of requests for service records each week, so please be aware that there may be a lengthy delay. The St. Louis Center will process requests with greater speed and accuracy if the requester uses a Standard Form 180, “Request Pertaining to Military Records.” The form is available as a Portable Document File (PDF) here [http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf ].
If you do not have the reader software, it is available free of charge from the Adobe company here [http://adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html ].
Also, the National Personnel Records Center is working to make it easier for veterans with computers and Internet access to obtain copies of documents from their military files.
Military veterans and the next of kin of deceased former military members may now use a new online military personnel records system to request documents. Other individuals with a need for documents must still complete the Standard Form 180 that can be downloaded from the online web site.
The new web-based application was designed to provide better service on these requests by eliminating the records center's mailroom processing time. Also, because the requester will be asked to supply all information essential for NPRC to process the request, delays that normally occur when NPRC has to ask veterans for additional information will be minimized. Veterans and next of kin may access this application here [http://www.archives.gov/veterans/evetrecs/index.html ].
If you have trouble downloading the form, you may request one from our office by submitting a question on this system. If you want us to send you the form, please include your name and postal address.
Standard Form 180, which contains instructions, is also available from most veterans organizations or by writing to the National Personnel Records Center. If requesting the records of a relative, a requester should mention the relationship to the former member (brother, uncle, or other). There is no charge for this service to former service members or their next of kin. For others, a nominal fee is charged for research and reproduction costs. (In this regard, files at the Records Center are maintained as historical records only and are not updated to reflect current data on the former service member).
Contrary to published accounts, the Department has NOT published a “booklet on military records,” but we hope the above information will be useful.
Of incidental interest for individuals compiling family histories, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20408. Telephone 202-501-5400,
provides assistance to those interested in genealogy.
NARA normally charges a nominal fee for research and reproduction costs.
DOD LAUNCHES INFLIGHT CHANNEL
WASHINGTON (AFPN) — The Pentagon Channel has launched >Pentagon Channel In Flight, a military news and information service that will be aired on military charter flights worldwide.
“Pentagon Channel In Flight is another way to introduce service members to the Pentagon Channel and provide them with the timely military news and information that they need to do their jobs,” said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications.
Pentagon Channel In Flight will air on participating military charter flights, including Air Transport International, ATA, Continental Airlines, Delta Airlines, Miami Air, North American Air, Omni Air International, Ryan Air and United Airlines.
The Pentagon Channel, the Department of Defense's cable television channel, broadcasts military news and information for and about the 2.6 million members of the U.S. armed forces — active duty, National Guard, and Reserve.
Broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Pentagon Channel helps ensure that U.S. forces remain informed.
Pentagon Channel programming also is available online, streamed live 24/7 and on-demand at www.pentagonchannel.mil, and is available via audio and video podcasting.
Today, more than a million service members on more than 312 military bases, camps and installations in the U.S. can watch the Pentagon Channel. It also is available to the 800,000 service members and their families serving in 177 countries overseas via American Forces Radio and Television Service.
Check it out HERE [http://www.pentagonchannel.mil ].
ENTITLEMENT GROWTH CONCERNS
Abell Testifies At House Armed Services Subcommittee Hearing
By Tom Philpott, militaryupdate.com [http://www.militaryupdate.com]
A senior Defense official has warned Congress against creating an entitlement-rich military that the nation cannot afford.
Charles S. Abell, principal deputy under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, was asked March 24 while testifying before the Total Force Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, to list a few issues that keep him awake at night.
“Recruiting and retention are constant concerns,” said Abell. “Another big worry,” he said, “is the sweep of military compensation and benefits after recent gains and given new initiatives that Congress appears to favor.”
Growth And Entitlement Spending
“You and your colleagues are very generous to our folks and, in most cases our folks deserve everything that you give them,” Abell told Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) “However, it is possible to create a force that is too expensive for the nation, especially when it comes to programs that are essentially deferred compensation, or where the benefits accrued only to those who no longer serve. I worry about the cost of that and what that does to labor costs within the department of defense.”
Representatives of military associations disagreed, urging at the same hearing that the House improve survivor benefits, expand reserve health care and adopt a lengthy list of other initiatives.
Abell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served two combat tours in Vietnam, noted that basic pay for most service members is up 29 percent since January 2000. Mid-grade enlisted, who received higher “targeted” raises, have enjoyed a 35 percent over four years. Housing allowances, by year's end, will have climbed 18 percent faster than rental costs since 2000.
The Bush administration supported these raises, Abell says. What it opposes are initiatives to raise entitlement spending, especially for retirees, their survivors, drilling reservists and their families.
Abell's written testimony included a chart showing growth in entitlement spending, which by fiscal 2005 will reach more than $12 billion a year for just three recently enacted programs: TRICARE for Life; concurrent receipt (limited to retirees with disability ratings at least 50 percent) and TRICARE for drilling reservists who are unemployed or lack health insurance.
The Senate's budget resolution for 2005 earmarks funding to phase out over 10 years the sharp drop in military survivor benefits that occurs at age 62. Abell said that would cost $1 billion a year within five years. It also would open military health care to all drilling reservist and their families willing to pay modest premiums. That would cost at least $1 billion too, Abell said.
Phase-in of concurrent receipt for all retirees, as some legislators propose, would boost that program $2-billion annual cost by 40 percent.
Lowering from 60 to 55 the age at which annuities begin for Reserve retirees could cost $14 billion over the next 10 years
Testifying for The Military Coalition, a group of more than 30 service associations, Joe Barnes, Erin Harting and Lee Lange urged approval of all these initiatives to correct inequities for retirees and survivors and to properly compensate the over-worked current force.
Military To Civilian Jobs
Just as advocates for service people refuse to give ground on compensation issues, the Bush administration resists pressure for a permanent increase in force levels, despite the higher pace of operations since 9/11. Abell said more forces would be costly and unnecessary.
The Army, strained by Iraq, will be allowed to grow by 30,000 more active duty soldiers under a temporary manning initiative. Another initiative, to convert military billets to civilian positions, will free up 10,000 uniformed personnel across the services this year and 10,000 more in 2005.
But Abell confirmed that the cost of filling former military jobs with new civilians, as military move to more warrior-like jobs, must be paid for out of existing service budgets rather than with new funding.
“At the Office of the Secretary of Defense level, we're going to say this is funded,” said Abell. “The services are going to say, `You didn't give us any money to do this.' We're both going to be right.”
“It's a much different program than many of us perceived it to be,” said Rep. John McHugh (R-NY), subcommittee chairman.
Retention and Stop Loss
Testifying with Abell March 24 were the service personnel chiefs who agreed that while recruiting and retention rates have hit their goals, they remain top concerns for 2004 and beyond.
“As good as the environment may appear to be today,” said McHugh, “I worry that improvement in the job market and continued stress on the force will yield a very hostile recruiting and retention environment in the near future.”
McHugh said one reason he didn't have confidence in the rosy retention numbers is that some services still relied on “stop loss” programs in 2003, which bar service members from leaving active duty.
“You're right about the numbers,” Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, Army deputy chief of staff for personnel, told him. “As of February, stop loss was keeping 44,500 soldiers beyond their service obligations and planned retirement dates. The purpose is to ensure unit stability through lengthy deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan,” Hagenbeck said.
He projected that stop loss will continue for deployed units through fiscal 2005, impacting at any time next year about 31,000 soldiers.
EYES IN THE SKY BEAM REAL-TIME IMAGES
By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON 11/10/04, (AFPN} — Unmanned aerial vehicles are earning star status in the war on terrorism. They are becoming the most-requested capability among combatant commanders in Southwest Asia and use has increased fourfold in that theater during the last year alone.
Dyke Weatherington, deputy director of the Pentagon's UAV planning task force said, “UAVs are topping combatant commanders' wish lists. During the past year alone, UAVs' numbers in Iraq have jumped from fewer than 100 to more than 400.”
“We've seen a huge growth in the total numbers of UAVs in the theater, with most of that growth in the area of small UAVs,” he said. “There's a lot of capability over there today, and frankly, the war fighter is asking for more. What makes UAVs so valuable is their ability to provide eyes in the sky for extended periods of time, beaming real-time images to the ground.”
“In the global war on terror, persistence is vitally important,” he said. “It's important to deny the enemy sanctuary. And constant surveillance in his backyard, so to speak, prevents him the opportunity to mass assets and forces.”
In the event the enemy does this, UAVs offer an additional capability beyond their traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance role,” Weatherington continued. “Now they are demonstrating a strike capability as well.
The RQ/MQ-1 Predator UAV, which earned its stripes flying reconnaissance missions in Bosnia, showcased the strike capability in Southwest Asia. The Predator is credited with taking out one of al-Qaida's top lieutenants in Afghanistan with a Hellfire missile, and has since been used widely for offensive operations in Iraq.
Although the Predator was not initially designed as a strike platform, Mr. Weatherington said its ability to provide continual surveillance and respond quickly to on-the-ground threats makes it a valuable asset in the war on terror.
“A UAV with a strike capability can take action very early in that cycle (of enemy activity),” he said, “and in many cases, eliminates the threat entirely.”
“Even unarmed, the Predator and other UAVs can identify targets so other strike platforms, such as AC-130 Spectre gunships, can engage them more quickly and effectively.”
But the Predator is not the only UAV proving its value in Southwest Asia. The variety of UAV systems in the military inventory ensures that the technology is adaptable to the widest range of missions.
In all, the military now has more than a dozen UAV systems in its inventory and is at work on several new ones, including the Joint Unmanned Combat Aerial System that will incorporate direct-strike capabilities and a rotary wing.
On the more immediate horizon is the high-altitude, super-sophisticated Global Hawk being developed for the Air Force to conduct long-term surveillance. At the other end of the spectrum is the Marine Corps' hand-launched Dragon Eye system that gives squad- or company-level leaders a snapshot of their operating area. Small enough to break down into pieces that fit in a backpack, it is already in use in Iraq.
“The Raven, another small, hand-held system in use by the Army, is the most common UAV in Iraq,” Mr. Weatherington said, “with about 250 Ravens providing real-time, up-to-date, over-the-horizon views of trouble spots. It packs into a transit case that fits into the back of a Humvee.”
The deputy director said, “Another rising star is the Shadow tactical UAV, proving its value in Iraq during improvised-explosive-device sweeps and reconnaissance missions. Six of these Shadow systems in Southwest Asia are flying almost continuously.”
Weatherington‘s office coordinates all military UAV initiatives and programs.
“There is no single, one-size-fits-all formula for them. he noted. “Different systems are more readily adaptable to different missions, providing capabilities from the squad or company level to the division or corps level, to the theater level. It's the integration of all those capabilities that makes them advantageous… that provides very persistence surveillance capabilities.”
In Iraq, UAVs provide situational awareness for troops guarding garrisons and high-value targets, support mobile troops during scouting missions, and they watch over convoy movements.
“They're a real advantage,” he said. “If a convoy is going down the road and sees something up ahead that looks unusual, (it) can literally stop, put one of these things together and launch it, fly [it] down the road and see what's down there — without endangering the convoy.”
Weatherington said these small UAVs extend the capabilities of ground forces involved in protecting strategic locations. “You can have a detachment there for protection, but they can't always service the entire area, So with one of these small UAVs, you can extend their eyes and ears to a much larger area and have a very rapid response if they detect a potential threat.”
Meanwhile, UAVs provide high-altitude surveillance with “robust capabilities” at the theater level. He cited as many as five Predator systems — all operated from within the United States — continually monitor the sky over Iraq and Afghanistan, sometimes simultaneously.
UAVs can do what people cannot, or ideally, should not have to do. They can operate at long ranges and do not tire or lose concentration as a human would over extended periods, particularly when operating in dangerous, high-stress environments.
They are less expensive to operate than manned aircraft. For example, operating a Predator costs about a quarter of what it costs to operate an F-16 (Fighting Falcon) — and it stays up 10 times as long. But perhaps most importantly, they can conduct highly risky missions without losing human lives.
“It affords combatant commanders flexibility in using an asset to conduct a mission that they may not choose to risk a human [or] manned platform to do,” Weatherington added.
In the long term, he said he expects to see UAVs and other unmanned systems replace more manned systems, particularly for high-risk or high-threat missions - but despite their contributions, aren't a panacea. “They can't do everything for everybody, and we shouldn't try to make them do everything for everybody,” he said.
Air-to-air combat, for example, is probably best left to the highly skilled pilots trained to operate in what Weatherington called, “a highly dynamic environment. Similarly, tanker and airlift missions are probably most appropriate for manned aircraft, although the services are eyeing the possibility of optional manning for these aircraft.”
In the meantime UAVs have become “an extremely valuable asset, in terms of their endurance; their intelligence; surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities; their flexibility; and their cost.”
“They've proven their worth and continue to be a very effective tool for combatant commanders fighting the global war on terror,” Weatherington concluded.
FIGHTER AIRCRAFT DEMO
Forwarded by JackMack
This is a great two-part video of the Russian Sukhoi SU-35/37.
Don't turn it off when the first part goes black, wait for the second part.
There is sound and you should be able to enlarge this to full screen. Good stuff and you get to see the “Cobra” maneuver several times, where the aircraft pitches up, nearly stops moving forward, then continues on its original flight path. It takes several minutes to view the entire thing. Enjoy
FILM SHOWCASES MILITARY OPPORTUNITIES
Partial report from Donna Miles, AFPS Jan. 30, 2006
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2006 – A new documentary film will help educate the American public about military service and clear up misconceptions, according to the Defense Department's top personnel official, David S. C. Chu.
The one-hour film Today's Military: Extraordinary People; Extraordinary Opportunities takes viewers around the country and overseas.
One-minute “webisodes” of the film are posted AT THIS LINK [http://www.todaysmilitary.com/app/tm/get/careers ]. (Jug's comment: I checked this out and it is an excellent presentation.)
This documentary features 11 active and reserve service members who share experiences that shed light on opportunities available in the military. “This film offers a glimpse into the lives of 11 extraordinary men and women who have achieved extraordinary success,” Chu told a Pentagon audience at the film's first screening, Jan 26.
The service members featured represent all branches of the service, including the Coast Guard, and showcase jobs many people don't associate with military service. The participants include a journalist, a motion picture liaison, a musician, an animal-care specialist and a language instructor.
Other participants help show the excitement of some military careers, including that of a combat helicopter pilot, a coxswain, a joint terminal attack controller and instructors who teach aviation para rescue and surf man skills. Through their personal stories, the featured service members share their satisfaction with military life and the doors it has opened in their careers.
DOD will use the new documentary to help educate “adult influencers” - parents, teachers, guidance counselors and coaches who play an important part in young people's career decisions - about opportunities in the military, Chu said at the premier screening. “We have discovered in the Department of Defense that most Americans have limited understanding of the military, and also misconceptions.”
DOD is providing 40,000 DVDs to guidance counselors who have requested more information for their students. In addition, a 13-minute version of the film will be shown in April during in-flight programming on domestic United Airlines flights.
The documentary is part of DOD's integrated “Get the Facts” communication plan designed to reach about 85 percent of U. S. households by April through a premiere event, online, television, airline, and educator mailings.
Drivers on military installations are no longer allowed to talk on their cell phones while operating a moving vehicle unless the driver is using the phone’s hands-free device. No device, no usage, unless parked.
This policy is part of the Department of Defense's Joint Traffic Guidance and also applies to all government owned vehicles at all times, whether on base or off.
Many municipalities across the nation are beginning to recognize this growing problem by passing ordinances to correct it in various ways. And not a moment too soon!
Everybody and their dog has a cell phone these days and not only has telephone etiquette suffered, but lives endangered as well. Everyday across the nation, thousands of thoughtless gabbers drive along streets and highways paying more attention to their conversation than rules of the road… while those of the same mindset walk across public streets and parking lots gabbing away on their cell phone, oblivious to automobile traffic hazards all around them.
It isn’t just teenagers, either, although that group probably leads the parade in filling space with inane conversation. Apparently there are a lot of lonesome or unsure individuals of all ages everywhere who need to talk with someone even if they have nothing to say and would endanger their lives to say it. Perhaps some of them are talking with their psychiatrist - or should be.
The seeming universal lack of consideration by these gabbers is bad enough in traffic, but downright annoying to all those within earshot of their conversations in public places. There is enough noise pollution without this ever-increasing assault on the world’s first listen device - the human ear. What did all these people do before cell phones came along? Stay home?
The Defense Department's joint traffic document states:
“Vehicle operators on a DOD Installation and operators of Government owned vehicles shall not use cell phones unless the vehicle is safely parked or unless they are using a hands-free device.
“The wearing of any other portable headphones, earphones or other listening devices (except for hand-free cellular phones) while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited. Use of those devices impairs driving and masks or prevents recognition of emergency signals, alarms, announcements, the approach of vehicles, and human speech.
DOD component safety guidance should note the potential for driver distractions such as eating and drinking, operating radios, CD players, global positioning equipment, etc. Whenever possible this should only be done when the vehicle is safely parked.”
Using a cell phone while driving without a hands-free device will be considered a “primary offense.” This means violators can be stopped solely for this offense.
Drivers who violate this cell phone driving restriction will be given three assessment points against their driving records or an appropriate fine. Drivers should be aware that if two or more violations are committed, even on a single occasion, a ticket may be given to the driver for each violation.
GENERALS’ REVOLT IS REVOLTING
By Charles Krauthammer - Washington Post April 20,2006
E-Mail [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org ]
WASHINGTON - Last time around, the anti-war left did not have a very high opinion of generals. A popular slogan in the 1960s was “war is too important to be left to the generals.” It was the generals who had advocated attacking Cuba during the missile crisis of October 1962, while the civilians preferred — and got — a diplomatic solution. In popular culture, “Dr. Strangelove” made indelible the caricature of the war-crazed general. And it was I-know-better generals who took over the U.S. government in a coup in the 1960s best-seller and movie “Seven Days in May.”
Another war, another take. I-know-better generals are back. Six of them, retired, are denouncing the Bush administration and calling for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as secretary of defense. The anti-war types think this is just swell.
I don't. There are three possible complaints that the military brass could have against a secretary of defense. The first is that he doesn't listen to or consult military advisers. The six generals make that charge, but it is thoroughly disproved by the two men who were closer to Rumsfeld day-to-day, week-in-week-out, than any of the accusing generals: former Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard Myers, and former Marine Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong. Both attest to Rumsfeld's continual consultation and give-and-take with the military.
A second complaint is that the defense secretary disregards settled, consensual military advice. The military brass recommends X and SecDef willfully chooses Y. That in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Rumsfeld's crusade to “transform” a Cold War-era military into a fast and lean fighting force has met tremendous resistance within the Pentagon. His canceling several heavy weapons systems, such as the monstrous Crusader artillery program, was the necessary overriding of a hidebound bureaucracy by an innovating civilian on a mission.
In his most recent broadside, retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste accuses the administration of “radically altering the results of 12 years of deliberate and continuous war planning” on Iraq. Well, the Bush administration threw out years and years and layer upon layer of war planning on Afghanistan, improvised one of the leanest possible attack plans and achieved one of the more remarkable military victories in recent history. There's nothing sacred about on-the-shelf war plans.
As for Iraq, it is hardly as if the military was of a single opinion on the critical questions of de-Baathification, disbanding Saddam's army, or optimal coalition troop levels. There were divisions of opinion among the military as there were among the civilians, and indeed, among the best military experts in the country. Rumsfeld chose among the different camps. That's what secretaries of defense are supposed to do.
What's left of the general's revolt? A third complaint: He didn't listen to me. So what? Lincoln didn't listen to McClellan, and fired him. Truman had enough of listening to MacArthur and fired him, too. In our system of government, civilians fire generals, not the other way around.
Some of the complainers were on active duty when these decisions were made. If they felt so strongly about Rumsfeld's disregard of their advice, why didn't they resign at the time? Why did they wait to do so from the safety of retirement and with their pensions secured? The Defense Department waves away the protesting generals as just a handful out of more than 8,000 now serving or retired. That seems to me too dismissive. These generals are no doubt correct in asserting that they have spoken to and speak on behalf of some retired and, even more importantly, some active-duty military.
But that makes the generals' revolt all the more egregious. The civilian leadership of the Pentagon is decided on Election Day, not by the secret whispering of generals.
We've always had discontented officers in every war and in every period of our history. But they rarely coalesce into factions. That happens in places such as Saddam's Iraq, Pinochet's Chile or your run-of-the-mill banana republic. And when it does, outsiders (including the United States) do their best to exploit it, seeking out the dissident factions to either stage a coup or force the government to change policy.
That kind of dissident party within the military is alien to America. Some other retired generals have found it necessary to rise to the defense of the current administration. Will the rest of the generals, retired or serving, now have to declare themselves as to which camp they belong?
It is precisely this kind of division that our tradition of military deference to democratically elected civilian superiors was meant to prevent. Today it suits the anti-war left to applaud the rupture of that tradition. But it is a disturbing and very dangerous precedent that even the left will one day regret.
JOINT COMMAND DEFENDS D.C. REGION
By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service 9-23-04
Fort McNair, DC (AFPN) - A new headquarters here concentrates the military mission to help defend the nation's capital. “The Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region will guard America's “center of gravity,” said Army Maj. Gen. Galen Jackman, the new organization's commander.
The command unites all Defense Department elements and the Coast Guard. The Army Military District of Washington, the Naval District of Washington, the Marine Corps National Capital Region Command and the Air Force's 11th and 89th wings are the major component commands in the new joint force. Normally, there will be between 3,000 and 4,000 people in the command, officials said.
The command is the latest manifestation of the trend toward joint response in the military… given a boost by the experiences of Sept. 11, 2001. There was no joint headquarters to coordinate military support to lead agents at the Pentagon, General Jackman said. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered the creation of the command in Washington in June 2003. The command formally activated with ceremonies at Fort Myer, Va., on Sept. 22.
As the commander, General Jackman will report to Gen. Ralph E. “Ed” Eberhart, commander of U.S. Northern Command. Joint Force officials will plan and coordinate for military assistance to homeland defense and civil support in the District of Columbia and the Maryland and Virginia suburban counties. A major portion of its mission is to coordinate and liaison with local law enforcers and first responders. The command also will work with state and federal entities, ranging from the White House Military Office to the U.S. Park Police.
Joint Force officials will help form plans in the event of attacks and will support national-level ceremonies. In the past year, the command has been activated six times, General Jackman said. It participated in cleanup after Hurricane Isabel in September 2003, was involved in security and logistics for the president's State of the Union address in January, and responded to a February incident on Capitol Hill. More recently, the command coordinated the National World War II Memorial dedication ceremonies, the Reagan funeral and a homeland-defense exercise.
“We learned from each of these,” General Jackman said.
The new command is not new to the component members, said General Jackman and his second-in-command, Navy Rear Adm. Jan Gaudio. On the ceremonial side, the various service components have had to work closely together for years. During the Reagan funeral, for example, General Jackman was in charge of the ceremonies, while Admiral Gaudio was in charge of the military contributions to the logistics and security efforts.
“The nation goes to war as a joint force,” Admiral Gaudio said. “It's logical to respond in the National Capital Region as a joint force.”
The command also has responsibility to sift through threat reports and respond accordingly. It will support other agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security or one of the local jurisdictions. It will head the military assistance to the presidential inauguration in January. Planners in the command will work out contingency plans and procedures with local, state and federal authorities.
The Joint Force will stop the ad hoc nature of past operations. In the aftermath of the plane hitting the Pentagon, the services joined to support first the Arlington Fire Department and then the FBI. Had a joint command existed, “there were forces we might have brought to bear more quickly,” General Jackman said.
LETTERS AND PACKAGES FROM HOME
Neither rain, nor wind, nor desert sands… might be a modern rewrite of the famous postal service motto. Each week the U.S. Postal and Military Mail Services process about two million pounds of mail for Iraq and Afghanistan. Of that amount, some items make it to the recipients faster than others, according to Navy LCDR Brian Lomax, agency chief for plans and policy.
Depending on where it originates, a letter or package spends two or three days in the civilian system before it reaches either San Francisco or New York City. Then it travels another 16 to 19 hours by plane before landing in Kuwait or Bahrain. From there, motor vehicles pick up and deliver it to its destinations.
Once in theater, a letter takes seven to 14 days to reach service members, while a package usually takes 14 to 24 days. Packages make up 90 percent of the mail.
“The size of the package is an important factor,” Lomax said. “Large packages take up a lot more room. If there's a choice between taking one large box or a lot of smaller boxes and letters, the smaller ones are delivered faster. The ideal size is a shoebox. It's very important to correctly address postal items to speed the delivery.”
Some items cannot be mailed. They include: aerosol cans, alcoholic beverages, ammunition, fireworks, flammable or explosive materials and illegal or infectious substances. For more information, call 1-800-ASK-USPS or visit the postal service Web site at www.usps.com.
Though it is not one of the restricted items, Lomax recommended against sending chocolate. “Chocolate and 140 degrees become chocolate paste,” he said. Cookies and sunflower seeds seem to travel well, and placing cookies in a coffee can helps to protect them.
Heat also takes a toll on the tape used in packaging. The postal service officials recommend using clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape or paper tape. Cord, string and twine should not be used, because they can get caught in the mail-processing equipment.
Service members love to get mail, Lomax said. “When I was at sea, it was always a joy to get a letter from home or a copy of a report card. It's an exhilarating feeling that I'm out here doing my job, and they haven't forgotten who I am.” AFPS
By Thomas Sowell, August 9, 2006
Forwarded by SpearceR
There was a time when most members of Congress had served in the military, as had many people in the media. Today that is no longer true — and it shows in many ways.
Ignorance should at least create caution, but it seems to do just the opposite. People with little knowledge about the military, and no personal experience, often have the most sweeping and unrealistic expectations, and even demands, to make on people whose lives are at risk in battle.
The military have been criticized for everything from not protecting an Iraqi museum while being shot at to not being as nice to the terrorists imprisoned in Guantanamo as people in safe and comfortable editorial offices would like.
More dangerously, TV reporters broadcasting from where shells are falling blithely say such things as “the shells are landing about five miles north of here.” Does it ever occur to them that their internationally broadcast comments will reach those doing the shelling, who can adjust their range and kill more efficiently?
On the home front, life goes on today as if there were no war. Consumer goods are as abundant as ever and no real sacrifices are demanded of the civilian population, who are spectators rather than even tangential participants. None of this is healthy.
Some have suggested a military draft as a way to at least create some sense of realism about war and to share its burdens more widely and equitably. Those on the left play the class-warfare card and the race card to say the elites are sending other people's youths into battle while their own are sheltered. But the overriding question is: What would be the effect of instituting a military draft?
Such questions cannot be answered as if we were talking about drafting abstract people into an abstract army. A military draft today would be very different in its consequences from the military draft in World War II. Back in those days, the military drafted young men who were, by and large, patriotic Americans, who felt it their duty to protect this country from its enemies.
Today, a military draft would bring in large numbers of people who have been systematically “educated” to believe the worst about this country or, at best, to be nonjudgmental about the differences between American society and its enemies.
Though we could use a larger army of the kinds of people who have already volunteered, that does not mean we can get it by adding warm bodies fresh from our politically correct schools and colleges, where standards and self-discipline are greatly lacking. Just getting such people used to the idea of duty and discipline could be a major drain on the military, not to mention lawsuits from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union on why were the little darlings not handled with kid gloves?
Moreover, so many American institutions, from Congress to the courts, have degenerated into irresponsible self-indulgence that the military is one of the very few institutions left with a sense of purpose for which it is prepared to make sacrifices. We dare not destroy that institution, or undermine its morale, by pouring into it very different kinds of people, who will be like sand poured into the gears of machinery.
This is not to say there are no civilians who would be valuable additions to the military. Such people need not be drafted. Our colleges block such people from taking ROTC by not allowing ROTC programs or military recruiters on campus in the first place. Anti-military academics think they have a right to override their students' rights to reach their own conclusions and make their own decisions, or even to hear a different viewpoint about the military.
Patriotic and educated young Americans who want to serve in the military are available. We need to stop academia from sabotaging national defense by blocking them from ROTC and from even hearing what military representatives have to say.
Thomas Sowell is a nationally syndicated columnist.
NEXT GENERATION CAC
By Gordon Lubold, Navy Times Staff writer, 9 October 2006
Forwarded by email@example.com
The Pentagon will begin issuing millions of common access cards to every service member starting in late October in an effort to heighten the effectiveness and security of the cards, make them more interoperable and allow them to be more useful in more places.
The new cards, officially called Next Generation CAC, will be issued to service members and other government employees over the next three years, said Mary Dixon, deputy director of the Defense Manpower Data Center in Arlington, Va. Dixon said there are no security guarantees, but that the card’s technology is far more secure than anything to come before it. “There is nothing that cannot be broken into, given enough time, dollars and resources, but we believe that this is as good as it gets, and will only get better over time.”
Spouses and military retirees will not get new cards, but will continue to use the ID cards they have now, officials said.
The front of the new card looks slightly different than the original, with a vertical, rather than horizontal, identifying stripe to indicate that it is the new model, and a larger expiration date that will help security personnel more easily identify which cards are still valid.
The cards will come in different colors for different populations of people, including green and red. They’ll contain bar codes, computer chips and magnetic strips — all very high-tech. But it is what’s under the hood that really distinguishes this card from the existing CAC, Dixon said. The new cards have been re-engineered with a “contactless” capability that will allow them to be used like a subway card in that people can wave them over card readers at a distance of up to about four inches, Dixon said.
That capability could raise concern that personal data could be removed from the card, but Dixon said the chip within the card and the card’s magnetic strip are encrypted, making the data almost impossible to remove. Some of the data to be placed on the cards include an individual’s name, gender, card expiration date, blood type, government agency and branch of service, duty status, pay grade, date of birth and other information.
The chip also will include two encrypted fingerprints. The magnetic strip will include an individual’s Social Security number and “physical security information.” The card will be used to authenticate someone’s identity — an “identity credential” — while the bulk of information on a particular person is stored elsewhere, Dixon said. “I don’t have to store a lot of information about you in a database, so I’m reducing the number of places where information about you is stored.”
The card also will give holders “logical access” to computers, eliminating some of the need to manually enter a computer name and password to log on. Ultimately, the switchover will mean that service members who have the new cards won’t need additional cards to access sites within other governmental organizations.
Creation of the new card is part of a broader security initiative led by President Bush called Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12, which aims to increase the security of employees and government agencies by creating a more recognizable card with a single security standard. More than 4 million new cards eventually will be issued to federal employees. But the military, often the guinea pig for many such programs and initiatives, has the lead on this one.
All active-duty, Selected Reserve, Defense Department civilian employees and other contractors will get the card. The card will start rolling out Oct. 27, but this will not be a “mass issuance,” as was done when the first CAC was issued in 2000. Instead, cards will be issued individually by attrition as older cards expire.
The new cards are now being tested at 10 locations around the country, including Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Redstone Arsenal, Ala.; Fort Belvoir, Va.; Fort Hood, Texas; and Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
OPERATION BLUE TO GREEN
WASHINGTON (AFPN) 7/28/2004 — Sailors and Airmen may soon be able to “Go Army” under a new Defense Department program intended to rebalance the size of the military. The program is generating new opportunities for continued service and career advancement for those willing to transfer into the Army from other services.
Under “Operation Blue to Green,” the Army will reach out to Sailors and Airmen and underscore the advantages of swapping their current uniform for Army green. “We admire everyone who serves in the nation's uniform,” said Lt. Gen. “Buster” Hagenbeck, the Army's uniformed personnel chief, “but I know that anyone who looks closely at today's Army will find a lot to be excited about — we are growing, and we need experienced people to lead that transition.”
Both the House and the Senate have shown an interest in hiking Army strength by perhaps tens of thousands over the next few years, although the final number has not yet been set, officials said. At the same time, the Navy is planning a force reduction of 8,000 in fiscal 2005, with the Air Force trimming more than 20,000 over the same period.
When the shifts are done, officials said, Pentagon leaders are determined to see to it that the best people are still in uniform — even if that means a different uniform. And they plan to achieve that outcome entirely by way of voluntary choice. Where necessary, the Army plans to use bonuses to stimulate the needed service transfers and to carefully guide the experience mix so that promotions stay strong.
The focus of the effort centers on grades E-1 through E-5, but other grades will be considered in meeting Army needs. For example, the Army will continue to have a sizable demand in areas that share much common ground with other services in knowledge, skill and ability. These include law enforcement, health care, communications and intelligence.
As an incentive to join the Army under Operation Blue to Green, bonuses are being offered to those who have skills that convert to the Army's most needed military occupational specialties. There are 120 Air Force specialties that will transfer into 37 Army jobs, and the Navy has 112 ratings that will transfer into 42 Army specialties, according to Col. Norvel Dillard, chief of the Army's enlisted accessions division.
“Those are 'Job One,' but we're looking at others as well,” said the colonel. “We're also looking for officers, primarily junior officers.” Anyone who makes the shift would carry over all creditable active federal service, and procedures will ensure that those migrating within the active force experience no break in service.
General Hagenbeck said the program is being designed to make certain there is no break in service and no impact on Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits already “banked” by a service member.
The procedure is generally expected to operate like this:
- The Army will first match its needs to the skills in other services. An outgrowth of that effort will be the identification of places where that audience is concentrated, so that an orientation team can be scheduled to visit that base. The team would then meet with interested service members and their families and explain the options.
- Following a short presentation, one-to-one dialogue would be encouraged with team members on the spot — some from the Army's Recruiting Command, who can explain the mechanics of the program, and some from operational Army units eager to explain the Army today.
- The Blue to Green Web site also is being expanded to include chat rooms.
“We are eager to tell our story,” said General Hagenbeck, “and we'll take whatever time a person needs to make a fully informed choice and to be comfortable with their decisions. We look forward to that dialogue.”
Once a person's eligibility is confirmed, the losing service would be contacted to effect an agreement to release. New service agreements would be drafted, and the Sailor or Airman would make the move. In many cases, they would carry a directly transferable skill. Otherwise, training in the new skill would be scheduled as part of the move. In order to qualify, the Sailor or Airman must be eligible for re-enlistment, must be physically fit, and meet Army height and weight standards.
If the skill is transferable, the new Soldier would be scheduled for a new, four-week warrior transition course, where he or she will be offered a curriculum that provides essential skills and abilities needed in the new service. Topics would include an orientation on organization, rank, uniform wear and career progression. The first course is scheduled to start in September at Fort Knox, Ky. It is planned as transition training, not boot camp, officials said.
Those transitioning to a new skill, particularly in combat-arms areas like special operations, would participate in the full range of developmental training to hone current talents and provide a new set of skills and abilities. Officers would not attend a warrior course, but would normally attend training unique to their branch depending on their grade and experience.
Upon transfer, new Soldiers would be eligible to compete for promotion as long as they meet Army minimums, which can be years shorter than other services.
The Army's recruiting goal for fiscal 2005, which begins in October, is about 80,000. Of that number, the Army hopes to recruit at least 8,000 prior-service troops. If the skill is transferable, the new Soldier would be scheduled for a new, four-week warrior transition course, where he or she will be offered a curriculum that provides essential skills and abilities needed in the new service. Topics would include an orientation on organization, rank, uniform wear and career progression. The first course is scheduled to start in September at Fort Knox, Ky. It is planned as transition training, not boot camp, officials said.
Those transitioning to a new skill, particularly in combat-arms areas like special operations, would participate in the full range of developmental training to hone current talents and provide a new set of skills and abilities. Officers would not attend a warrior course, but would normally attend training unique to their branch depending on their grade and experience.
Upon transfer, new Soldiers would be eligible to compete for promotion so long as they meet Army minimums, which can be years shorter than other services.
The Army's recruiting goal for fiscal 2005, which begins in October, is about 80,000. Of that number, the Army hopes to recruit at least 8,000 prior-service troops. (Courtesy of American Forces Press Service)
OVERLOOKING THE FACTS
Forwarded by BGen Bob Clements, USAF (Ret), who commented:
“Obviously since leaving the Clinton Administration, it would be natural to migrate to a haven of liberal acceptance where one can hide behind academic freedom guaranteed by, and protected by, the very same people she chastises as overpaid and over benefited. It is always much better to have the other person fight and die for your freedom. It is safer, less dangerous, and more comfortable… especially when one has diarrhea of the mouth, sans courage.”
MAKING THE CUTS, KEEPING THE BENEFITS
By Cindy Williams, http://web.mit.edu/polisci/faculty/C.Williams.html [http://web.mit.edu/polisci/faculty/C.Williams.html], op-ed contributor to The New York Times
Cambridge, MA, Jan 11, 2005 - In an effort to reduce the growth of the military budget, the Bush administration is poised to cut back a wide array of Pentagon programs, from jet fighters to a missile defense system. Pentagon leaders say the cuts will save more than $55 billion over six years.
Whether these reductions herald the end of the rapid rise in military spending that began in 1999, however, is open to question. While fewer weapons systems than planned will be purchased during the next six years, in financial terms, putting an end to the buildup will require cutting far more than what is now on the chopping block. One reason is that much of the recent rise in spending has been fueled not by new tanks or missiles, but by new costs associated with military personnel - especially retirees. These costs amount to a permanent increase in the military budget. Unlike spending on equipment, they cannot be canceled or deferred.
Since the start of the buildup, the rising costs of military pay, retiree benefits, health care and family housing have greatly outstripped inflation and added more than $40 billion to annual Pentagon budgets, even though the number of active-duty troops has essentially stayed the same. Moreover, the annual costs continue to grow rapidly. The program reductions that are reported to be under consideration would not be enough to offset the growth in spending for military pay and benefits anticipated during the next several years. Even holding the increases in the military budget to the level of inflation would require tens of billions of dollars in annual reductions.
To the extent that added pay and benefits ensure the nation does right by the men and women who fight for it, these increases would seem worthwhile. Unfortunately, a large share of new spending is devoted not to helping soldiers serving today, but to improving the benefits for military retirees - that is, the small minority of veterans who stay in the military for 20 years or more and are eligible for immediate benefits upon their retirements.
In recent years, Congress has expanded retiree benefits substantially, making them the fastest-growing category of entitlements for military personnel. In 1999, Congress reversed a 1986 law that would have trimmed pensions for retirees who joined the military after 1986. That change costs the Defense Department some $1 billion annually. A health care entitlement granted by Congress in 2000 pays virtually all medical expenses for older retirees and their spouses - including the cost of prescription drugs - that are not covered by Medicare. That entitlement costs the Defense Department nearly $4 billion now and its costs will rise over the coming years.
Another benefit, granted by Congress last year and scheduled to be phased in over a decade, will permit retirees who depart the military with moderate to severe disabilities to collect retirement pensions in addition to their disability payments. Its cost, about $500 million this year, will rise to some $2.5 billion a year in six years. In addition, a change authorized in October 2004 will enrich the pensions of spouses who outlive retired service members, at a cost of about $200 million this year and nearly $1 billion in 2011. As expensive as these new benefits are, advocates are pressing Congress for more.
These deferred entitlements do nothing to help men and women now in uniform. These members of the military face long and frequent family separations, deployment to distant lands, fighting in a dangerous counter-insurgency and more. Cash bonuses, improved family services, modern and well-maintained equipment and increases in troop strength (which would mean less frequent call-ups and deployments) are far more likely to serve their needs.
In fact, most active-duty military will never get anything - because they will leave the service before they are eligible to retire with benefits. Fewer than one in 12 of today's living veterans qualify for retiree benefits, and fewer than one in five of today's active-duty service members are expected to stay for the 20 years it takes to receive them.
Moreover, deferred benefits will not help the Army or the National Guard overcome the recruitment and retention problems they face as a result of the war in Iraq. The prospect of receiving such benefits in the distant future is virtually worthless in helping the military to persuade an 18-year-old to join the military or encourage a 23-year-old to re-enlist.
The rapid growth of retiree benefits has already greatly complicated the budget picture for military leaders. Even if Congress decides against further expansion of such benefits, the ones it has already granted will make it hard to slow budget growth without further reducing the size of the military. Giving in to pressure for another round of entitlements, in the face of the challenges facing the troops serving in Iraq and elsewhere, would be irresponsible.
Cindy Williams, a principal research scientist in the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the editor of Filling the Ranks: Transforming the U.S. Military Personnel System.
E-mail: cindywil@MIT.EDU [mail to:cindywil@MIT.EDU]
Telephone: 617) 253-1825
RESPONSE FROM MOAA PRESIDENT
(I have inserted Italic type in the writer’s response, for better definition. - Jug)
January 12, 2005
Letters to the Editor
New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036
Cindy Williams’ Jan. 11 op-ed piece “Making the Cuts, Keeping the Benefits” was a woeful compendium of factual errors and ill-founded assertions that were not helpful to any reasonable debate on defense spending.
Ms. Williams asserted that Congress’ 2000 legislation to extend supplemental health coverage to Medicare-eligible military retirees “costs the Defense Department nearly $4 billion now and its costs will rise over the coming years.” Not so. Congress has shifted funding responsibility for this program to the Treasury Department to ensure that not one cent for this long-overdue coverage will come at the expense of other programs in the Defense Budget.
She also criticized more recent legislation that ended the odious practice of making combat-disabled and other severely disabled military retirees fund their own disability compensation by giving up part or all of their retired pay, asserting that will cost the Pentagon $2.5 billion a year in the future. In fact, Congress tasked the Treasury to fund that long-overdue fix as well. The Pentagon won’t have to pay a penny.
She criticized the cost of repealing a 1986 law that would have cut military retirement benefits by 22% or more for people who entered service after that date. But she failed to report that the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously urged that repeal in 1999 because the reduced career incentive had helped generate a retention and readiness crisis. They recognized that it would cost the country far more to endure a manpower-related readiness shortfall and then still have to recruit, train and grow replacements for experienced troops who were leaving the service because the sacrifices of a military career outweighed the expected benefits.
Ms. Williams claims that deferred entitlements do nothing to foster retention in today’s force. Wrong again. Today’s service members and their families are better informed than any force of the past. They understand what Congress has understood very well - that a government that breaks faith with those who defend the country in the past can only deter today’s force from serving a career in uniform.
In the late 1970s and again in the late 1990s, Congress came to appreciate what Ms. Williams doesn’t - that cutting such benefits has, in fact, hurt retention. The problems didn’t surface among first-term people in uniform, but among those in the 8-12 year point. That’s when their families question whether multiple relocations, extended family separations, repeated risk to life and limb, and a host of other military-specific sacrifices are worth the expected benefits of a military career.
Ms. Williams wants to look at the price of military manpower in isolation, when the real issues are “What is the alternative cost associated with reduced national security when fewer people want to serve a career in uniform?” and “How much will it cost and how long will it take to recruit, train, and grow high-quality replacements when large numbers of experienced career people elect to leave service?”
In the past, complaints about military people costs usually have been raised only when the public perceived a low threat to national security. Like Ms. Williams, too many have forgotten too often the sacrifices today’s military retirees and survivors bore for multiple decades - with many seeing combat in three or more major wars. She’s right that only a minority are willing to accept repeated burdens of such extended service. She’s wrong in dismissing that group as unworthy of fair compensation.
Ms. Williams has scaled new heights of ironic ivory-towerism in carping over the cost of compensating those who spend a career defending our country - at a time when their extraordinary strains and sacrifices are so searingly evident in every front page you read.
S/ Norbert R. Ryan, Jr.
VADM, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
PENTAGON 911 DOCUMENTARY
CRASH INTO FORTRESS AMERICA
Washington, D.C. - Admiralty Productions, Ltd., a Northern Virginia television production company headed by retired Navy Rear Admiral Bill Thompson, is producing a documentary for television: Pentagon 911, to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the September 11th attack.
This program will reveal for the first time the amazing stories of bravery and heroism of both civilians and military men and women when American Airlines flight #77 crashed into Fortress America, America's defense headquarters, at 500 MPH.
Tierney Communications, a full-service, national marketing firm based in Louisville, KY, will handle Admiralty Productions public relations, marketing and development for the project.
According to Admiral Thompson, “Everyone has the imprint of September 11, 2001, seared into their memories. We've all shared the heart-wrenching stories of the twin towers collapse in New York, and the emotional accounts of Flight 93's crash in Pennsylvania.
“But there is another compelling story that must be told: the strike on the Pentagon. Admiralty productions is pleased to have Tierney Communications on board to help us in this significant endeavor.”
Thompson was formerly the president and builder of the U.S. Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC and executive producer of the IMAX film At Sea, running daily in the Navy Memorial heritage Center. During his military career, he was the Navy's Chief of Information at the Pentagon.
In addition to Tierney Communications, the following are part of the Admiralty Productions Pentagon 911 team: Mike Dickerson and Al Shackelford are the project's co-producers, Joel Ratner is directing, Jorge Castillo-Trentin is cinematographer, InterMedia Development Corporation is providing on-location production services, post-production editing, graphics, and music production.
RECRUITING ARTICLE MISLEADING
Letter to Editor about MOAA‘s Military Officer Magazine article, Today’s Army
From LCol Harold Riley, USA (Ret) 5-4-05. Forwarded by Floyd Spears
Tom Philpott's piece titled, Today's Army, in the May issue of Military Officer discussing military recruiting was a disappointment. Either Mr. Philpot has slanted the article or MGen Rochelle, in his interview, missed an important ingredient in describing recruiting shortfalls.
MGen Rochelle points out the economy and the war as the chief threats to enlistments. His arguments are less than convincing.
Neither MGen Rochelle nor Mr. Phillpott approach an important point that variable “influencers” are likely considering in dissuading children and grandchildren from the military. Certainly both men clearly understand the variable I refer.
Why would the patriotic “influencers” be less than supportive of military service? What is the variable that may be impacting recruiting that MGen Rochelle and Mr. Philpott ignore?
The answer likely lies in the way WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and other veterans/retirees have been treated by the U.S. government. It is understandable why MGen Rochelle and Mr. Philpott would not touch the issue of military retiree/veteran care… the General would retire and Mr. Philpott would lose the access key to his profession.
When our government makes commitments, sends us off to war, and then fails to honor obligations such as health care, is less than truthful about the Survivor Benefit Plan, fights veteran disability compensation tooth and nail, implies spouses and widows are baggage, and identifies military benefit funding as “harmful to our nation,” it doesn't take a rocket scientist to deduce that “influencers” are less than supportive regarding military service, certainly long-term.
Our government seems to view the blood and body parts left on the battlefield by warriors as little more than political opportunity… fails to understand family sacrifice… and treats all as “used brown bags” only to be discarded. “Pork” reigns. Thus, potential enlistees witness the manner past warriors are treated… and leaders wonder at recruiting shortfalls?
When the U.S. government understands that “the bedrock of our very freedom and liberty rests on the sacrifice of our warriors and spouses,” and acts accordingly, those following will reflect an improved spirit of service.
Harry G. Riley, Col., USA, (Ret)
111 Overview Drive
Crestview, FL 32539-8596
850-689-1818 - home
850-582-7334 - cell
REVIEW OF MILITARY PAY
By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 11, 2005 - A new committee is studying the military compensation system to come up with ways to bring it more in line with what service members want and operational needs demand.
The Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation held its first public meeting today to explain its marching orders from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to take a look at the current system and recommend how to make it better.
The committee will look at the whole compensation program for men and women in uniform in both the active and reserve components, explained retired Navy Adm. Donald Pilling, committee chairman and former vice chief of naval operations. This includes basic, special and incentive pays; benefits ranging from housing to medical care; and deferred pay that includes retirement pay and survivor benefits.
The committee will attempt to strike the best balance between cash and benefits, current and deferred compensation, and the need for flexibility during peacetime as well as war, Pilling said. It will also consider the best way to compensate members of the National Guard and Reserve, who are deploying more frequently than ever before to support military operations.
The goal is to ensure that the armed forces continue to attract and retain top-quality, highly motivated men and women and to ensure they and their families receive the compensation they deserve. Pilling said that's particularly important when they're burdened by multiple deployments and family separations.
One issue the committee will deal with is the fact that many military members are more interested in cash in hand than retirement or other benefits. “They tend to value current compensation more than compensation that they will not receive for 10 or 20 years, or maybe not at all,” he said.
Retirement benefits become more important later in a service members' career, when they become critical to military retention, Pilling said.
During May 10 meetings with service leaders, committee members heard “a range of views about specific changes” in the compensation package, all to be considered during the committee's deliberations, he said.
But one particular message came through loud and clear. “All asked for an architecture that allows flexibility rather than mandatory changes in compensation,” Pilling said.
Flexibility will be a key goal as the military undergoes its longest period of sustained conflict since the all-volunteer force was conceived in the early 1970s, he said.
The committee plans to present Rumsfeld an interim report of its recommendations by late September and the final report in April 2006. The next of its public meetings is scheduled for June 7.
CIVILIAN CONTROL OF THE MILITARY
By Kevin Healy, USAF (RET.)
Little Compton RI
Let’s face it, when most Americans wake up in the morning getting ready to face the rest of the day, they are not thinking about civilian control of the U.S. military. Civilian control of the military is so ingrained in America that virtually no one gives it a second thought. The framers of the Constitution on the other hand gave it a lot of thought. They wanted to make sure that the national leadership would be protected from a coup de tat by a strong military.
Article II, section 2 of the Constitution states; “The President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States when called into the actual service of the United States.”
All people who enter the armed forces must repeat the following oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, So help me God.”
What the framers did not envision was what was going to happen a couple of centuries down the road. In their wildest dreams or nightmares did they ever believe that the fledgling 13 Colonies would eventually emerge into the dominating world power that we are today. Their fears of a coup de tat would of course never be realized. Some of our great Presidents have come to elected office from the ranks of the military. Many of our national leaders are veterans of military service.
Unfortunately what has evolved in the military is not simply “civilian control” as was dictated by the Constitution, but rather a complete “domination” of the military by civilian employees of the Department of Defense. I cannot in my wildest imagination believe that the framers wanted civilian control of the day to day operation of the military facilities at virtually every level.
When I entered the Air Force in 1948 you seldom saw civilians on a military base. All you saw for the most part were people in uniform. If you visit a military facility today there are just as many, if not more civilians on the base as there are people in uniform. What has evolved is an un-uniformed branch of the military. The country now has a very large Un-armed Force along side of the Armed Forces. I say along side, but they are not equal.
The inequities are abundant… Civilians working alongside uniformed people are paid at a much higher level. With few exceptions, they will never be suddenly transferred and separated from their families. Civilians are not required to perform tactical and combat operations where they are in harms way. Civilian retirement and medical care programs are superior to their military co-workers. If this kind of treatment happened in Corporate America there would be law suites all over the place.
How about this for a deal breaker? Most Department of Defense civilian employees are represented by a National Labor Union. If a member of the uniformed forces protests working conditions or what ever, he or she will be standing in front of a Court Martial Board. Ours is not to reason why, ours is just to do, and die.
I have been prompted to write about this situation for several reasons. The recent news stories about base closings have been all over the place. The so called “BRAC” activities dominate the news scene. I did a bit of number crunching on net gains and losses of personnel and came up with some rather interesting numbers.
If Congress agrees, and the President signs the legislation on base closings and realignment recommendations, the net loss of military slots is 10,900. On the other hand there is a net gain of 23,886 civilian slots. There is no doubt in my mind about who are “pulling the strings.”
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testified today that the BRAC procedures as recommended would save the taxpayers 48.8 billions of dollars over the next twenty years. If you believe that I have some swampland out back that I would like to sell you. No one, even a smart guy like Mr. Rumsfeld has a clue about what the world is going to look like next year… never mind twenty years down the road.
This whole BRAC program is a political scam. I believe that this BRAC business started back during the Reagan administration. The idea was to create a commission that would evaluate the situation visa vie base closings and “recommend” to the Congress and the President who stayed on board, and who got the axe. This takes the heat off the politicians who can point to the BRAC committee, shifting the blame for lost jobs and the like away from themselves.
Ever since the end of World War II the military has been on a virtual roller coaster. There have been a series of downsizings and upsizings. It is like a game of musical chairs where they keep on changing the numbers of seats and players. Our national leadership refuses to learn from history. Following every conflict in modern history they have cut the military and closed bases, only to have to rebuild the forces and reopen bases when things like Korea, Viet Nam, The Baltic, the Middle East and the War on Terrorism erupt in their faces. And the “BRAC” goes on.
Meanwhile this constant “tweaking” of the military raises havoc in the communities where military facilities are located, disrupts the lives of many thousands of individuals and families and virtually destroys the economy in affected regions.
The Pentagon budget attack dogs rail on about the cost of medical care for veterans and retirees breaking the bank. Yet they are adding “civilians” to the payroll by the thousands with their higher cost of salaries and benefits.
Our boarders to the south and north go virtually undefended and we are committing billions of taxpayer dollars to provide free medical care for “illegal immigrants.” Will someone please pinch me; this must be just another “bad dream.”
Our founding fathers must be spinning in their graves. Their desire to have “civilian control” of the military has been turned into a great big Cash Cow for the civilian controlled Pentagon. The “uniformed branch” has become the “hired guns” of the government. Rolled out when the nation is up to its ass in alligators, and expected to be put on the shelf until the next time the (expletive) hits the fan.
You (the American people as the politicians like to call you) need to do something about this before we all go down the drain. You must contact your Congress and let them know how you want them to act. You must start electing people to national office who will demand a strong military force, that will defend our boarders and bring peace and freedom to all who cry out for liberty.
Twenty-four Notes That Tap Deep Emotions
By Jari A. Villanueva
Jari A. Villanueva, firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com], is a bugler and bugle historian. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and Kent State University, he was the curator of the Taps Bugle Exhibit http://arlingtoncemetery.com/tapsproj.htm [http://arlingtoncemetery.com/tapsproj.htm] at Arlington National Cemetery from 1999-2002. He has been a member of the United States Air Force Band since 1985 and is considered the country's foremost authority on the bugle call of Taps.
Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to render emotion than the call Taps. The melody is both eloquent and haunting and the history of its origin is interesting and somewhat clouded in controversy. In the British Army, a similar call known as Last Post has been sounded over soldiers' graves since 1885, but the use of Taps is unique with the United States military, since the call is sounded at funerals, wreath-laying and memorial services.
Taps began as a revision to the signal for Extinguish Lights (Lights Out) at the end of the day. Up until the Civil War, the infantry call for Extinguish Lights was the one set down in Silas Casey's (1801-1882) Tactics, which had been borrowed from the French. The music for Taps was adapted by Union General Daniel Butterfield http://www.west-point.com/taps/Butterfield.html [http://www.west-point.com/taps/Butterfield.html] for his brigade (Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac) in July, 1862.
Daniel Adams Butterfield (31 October 1831-17 July 1901) was born in Utica, New York and graduated from Union College at Schenectady. He was the eastern superintendent of the American Express Company in New York when the Civil War broke out. Despite his lack of military experience, he rose quickly in rank. A Colonel in the 12th Regiment of the New York State Militia, he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of a brigade of the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac.
The 12th served in the Shenandoah Valley during the Bull Run Campaign. During the Peninsular Campaign Butterfield served prominently when during the Battle of Gaines Mill, despite an injury, he seized the colors of the 83rd Pennsylvania and rallied the regiment at a critical time in the battle. Years later, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for that act of heroism.
As the story goes, General Butterfield was not pleased with the call for Extinguish Lights feeling that the call was too formal to signal the days end and with the help of the brigade bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton, wrote Taps to honor his men while in camp at Harrison's Landing, Virginia, following the Seven Day's battle. These battles took place during the Peninsular Campaign of 1862. The call, sounded that night in July, 1862, soon spread to other units of the Union Army and was even used by the Confederates. Taps was made an official bugle call after the war.
The highly romantic account of how Butterfield composed the call surfaced in 1898 following a magazine article written that summer. The August, 1898 issue of Century Magazine contained an article called The Trumpet in Camp and Battle, by Gustav Kobbe, a music historian and critic. He was writing about the origin of bugle calls in the Civil War and in reference to Taps, wrote:”In speaking of our trumpet calls I purposely omitted one with which it seemed most appropriate to close this article, for it is the call which closes the soldier's day… Lights Out. I have not been able to trace this call to any other service. If it seems probable, it was original with Major Seymour, he has given our army the most beautiful of all trumpet-calls.”
Kobbe was using as an authority the Army drill manual on infantry tactics prepared by Major General Emory Upton in 1867 (revised in 1874). The bugle calls in the manual were compiled by Major (later General) Truman Seymour of the 5th U.S. Artillery. Taps was called Extinguish Lights in these manuals since it was to replace the Lights Out call disliked by Butterfield. The title of the call was not changed until later, although other manuals started calling it Taps because most soldiers knew it by that name. Since Seymour was responsible for the music in the Army manual, Kobbe assumed that he had written the call. Kobbe s inability to find the origin of Extinguish Lights (Taps) prompted a letter from Oliver W. Norton in Chicago, who claimed he knew how the call came about and that he was the first to perform it.
Chicago, August 8, 1898.
I was much interested in reading the article by Mr. Gustav Kobbe, on the Trumpet and Bugle Calls, in the August Century. Mr. Kobbe says that he has been unable to trace the origin of the call now used for Taps, or the Go to sleep , as it is generally called by the soldiers. As I am unable to give the origin of this call, I think the following statement may be of interest to Mr. Kobbe and your readers:
During the early part of the Civil War I was bugler at the Headquarters of Butterfield s Brigade, Morell s Division, Fitz-John Porter s Corp, Army of the Potomac. Up to July, 1862, the Infantry call for Taps was that set down in Casey s Tactics, which Mr. Kobbe says was borrowed from the French.
One day, soon after the seven days battles on the Peninsular, when the Army of the Potomac was lying in camp at Harrison's Landing, General Daniel Butterfield, then commanding our Brigade, sent for me, and showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that still summer night, and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade.
The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades, asking for copies of the music which I gladly furnished. I think no general order was issued from army headquarters authorizing the substitution of this for the regulation call, but as each brigade commander exercised his own discretion in such minor matters, the call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac.
I have been told that it was carried to the Western Armies by the 11th and 12th Corps, when they went to Chattanooga in the fall of 1863, and rapidly made it s way through those armies. I did not presume to question General Butterfield at the time, but from the manner in which the call was given to me, I have no doubt he composed it in his tent at Harrison s Landing.
I think General Butterfield is living at Cold Spring, New York. If you think the matter of sufficient interest, and care to write him on the subject, I have no doubt he will confirm my statement. - Oliver W. Norton
The editor did write to Butterfield as suggested by Norton. In answer to the inquiry from the editor of the Century, General Butterfield writing from Gragside, Cold Spring, under the date of August 31, 1898 wrote:
I recall, in my dim memory, the substantial truth of the statement made by Norton, of the 83rd Pa., about bugle calls. His letter gives the impression that I personally wrote the notes for the call. The facts are, that at the time I could sound calls on the bugle as a necessary part of military knowledge and instruction for an officer commanding a regiment or brigade.
had acquired this as a regimental commander. I had composed a call for my brigade, to precede any calls, indicating that such were calls, or orders, for my brigade alone. This was of very great use and effect on the march and in battle. It enabled me to cause my whole command, at times, in march, covering over a mile on the road, all to halt instantly, and lie down, and all arise and start at the same moment; to forward in line of battle, simultaneously, in action and charge etc. It saves fatigue.
The men rather liked their call, and began to sing my name to it. It was three notes and a catch. I can not write a note of music, but have gotten my wife to write it from my whistling it to her, and enclose it. The men would sing , Dan, Dan, Dan, Butterfield, Butterfield to the notes when a call came. Later, in battle, or in some trying circumstances or an advance of difficulties, they sometimes sang, Damn, Damn, Damn, Butterfield, Butterfield.
The call of Taps did not seem to be as smooth, melodious and musical as it should be, and I called in someone who could write music, and practiced a change in the call of Taps until I had it suit my ear, and then, as Norton writes, got it to my taste without being able to write music or knowing the technical name of any note, but, simply by ear, arranged it as Norton describes. I did not recall him in connection with it, but his story is substantially correct. Will you do me the favor to send Norton a copy of this letter by your typewriter? I have none. - Daniel Butterfield.
On the surface, this seems to be the true history of the origin of Taps. Indeed, the many articles written about Taps cite this story as the beginning of Butterfield's association with the call. Certainly, Butterfield never went out of his way to claim credit for its composition and it wasn't until the Century article that the origin came to light.
There are however, significant differences in Butterfield's and Norton's stories. Norton says that the music given to him by Butterfield that night was written down on an envelope while Butterfield wrote that he could not read or write music! Also Butterfield's words seem to suggest that he was not composing a melody in Norton s presence, but actually arranging or revising an existing one. As a commander of a brigade, he knew of the bugle calls needed to relay troop commands. All officers of the time were required to know the calls and were expected to be able to play the bugle. Butterfield was no different-he could play the bugle but could not read music. As a colonel of the 12th N.Y. Regiment, before the war, he had ordered his men to be thoroughly familiar with calls and drills.
What could account for the variation in stories? My research shows that Butterfield did not compose Taps but actually revised an earlier bugle call. This sounds blasphemous to many, but the fact is that Taps existed in an early version of the call Tattoo. As a signal for end of the day, armies have used Tattoo to signal troops to prepare them for bedtime roll call. The call was used to notify the soldiers to cease the evening's drinking and return to their garrisons. It was sounded an hour before the final call of the day to extinguish all fires and lights. This early version is found in three manuals the Winfield Scott (1786 -1866 ) manual of 1835, the Samuel Cooper (1798-1876) manual of 1836 and the William Gilham (1819?-1872) manual of 1861. This call referred to as the Scott Tattoo was in use from 1835-1860. A second version of Tattoo came into use just before the Civil War and was in use throughout the war replacing the Scott Tattoo.
The fact that Norton says that Butterfield composed Taps cannot be questioned. He was relaying the facts as he remembered them. His conclusion that Butterfield wrote Taps can be explained by the presence of the second Tattoo. It was most likely that the second Tattoo, followed by Extinguish Lights (the first eight measures of today's Tattoo), was sounded by Norton during the course of the war.
It seems possible that these two calls were sounded to end the soldier's day on both sides during the war. It must therefore be evident that Norton did not know the early Tattoo or he would have immediately recognized it that evening in Butterfield's tent. If you review the events of that evening, Norton came into Butterfield's tent and played notes that were already written down on an envelope. Then Butterfield changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. If you compare that statement while looking at the present day Taps, you will see that this is exactly what happened to turn the early (Scott) Tattoo in Taps.
Butterfield as stated above, was a Colonel before the War and in General Order No. 1 issued by him on December 7, 1859 had the order: The Officers and non-commissioned Officers are expected to be thoroughly familiar with the first thirty pages, Vol. 1, Scott's Tactics, and ready to answer any questions in regard to the same previous to the drill above ordered Scott's Tactics include the bugle calls that Butterfield must have known and used.
If Butterfield was using Scott's Tactics for drills, then it is feasible that he would have used the calls as set in the manual. Lastly, it is hard to believe that Butterfield could have composed anything that July in the aftermath of the Seven Days battles which saw the Union Army of the Potomac mangled by Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Over twenty six thousand casualties were suffered on both sides. Butterfield had lost over 600 of his men on June 27th at the battle of Gaines Mill and had himself been wounded. In the midst of the heat, humidity, mud, mosquitoes, dysentery, typhoid and general wretchedness of camp life in that early July, it is hard to imagine being able to write anything.
In the interest of historical accuracy, it should be noted that it is not General Butterfield who composed Taps, rather that he revised an earlier call into the present day bugle call we know as Taps. This is not meant to take credit away from him. It is only to put things in a correct historic manner.
Following the Peninsular Campaign, Butterfield served at 2nd Bull Run, Antietam and at Marye's Heights in the Battle of Fredericksburg. Through political connections and his ability for administration, he became a Major General and served as chief of staff of the Union Army of the Potomac under Generals Joseph Hooker and George Meade. He was wounded at Gettysburg and then reassigned to the Western Theater. By war's end, he was brevetted a brigadier general and stayed in the army after the Civil War, serving as superintendent of the army's recruiting service in New York City and colonel of the 5th Infantry.
In 1870, after resigning from the military, Butterfield went back to work with the American Express Company. He was in charge of a number of special public ceremonies, including General William Tecumseh Sherman's funeral in 1891. Besides his association with Taps, Butterfield also designed the system of Corps Badges which were distinctive shapes of color cloth sewn on to uniforms to distinguish units.
Butterfield died in 1901. His tomb is the most ornate in the cemetery at West Point despite the fact that he never attended. There is also a monument to Butterfield in New York City near Grant's Tomb. There is nothing on either monument that mentions Taps or Butterfield's association with the call. Taps was sounded at his funeral.
How did it become associated with funerals? The earliest official reference to the mandatory use of Taps at military funeral ceremonies is found in the U.S. Army Infantry Drill Regulations for 1891, although it had doubtless been used unofficially long before that time, under its former designation Extinguish Lights.
The first use of Taps at a funeral during the Peninsular Campaign in Virginia. Captain John C. Tidball of Battery A, 2nd Artillery ordered it played for the burial of a cannoneer killed in action. Since the enemy was close, he worried that the traditional 3 volleys would renew fighting.
During the Peninsular Campaign in 1862, a soldier of Tidball's Battery - A of the 2nd Artillery - was buried at a time when the battery occupied an advanced position, concealed in the woods. It was unsafe to fire the customary three volleys over the grave on account of the proximity of the enemy, and it occurred to Captain Tidball that the sounding of Taps would be the most ceremony that would be substituted.
The custom, thus originated, was taken up throughout the Army of the Potomac, and finally confirmed by orders. Colonel James A. Moss Officer's Manual Pub. George Banta Publishing Co. Menasha Wisconsin 1913 Elbridge Coby in Army Talk (Princeton, 1942), p.208 states that it was B Battery of the Third Artillery that first used Taps at a military funeral.
This first sounding of Taps at a military funeral is commemorated in a stained glass window at The Chapel of the Centurion (The Old Post Chapel) at Fort Monroe, Virginia. The window, made by R. Geissler of New York and based on a painting by Sidney King, was dedicated in 1958 and shows a bugler and a flag at half staff. In that picture a drummer boy stands beside the bugler. The grandson of that drummer boy purchased Berkeley Plantation where Harrisons Landing is located.
The site where Taps was born is also commemorated. In this case, by a monument located on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation. This monument to Taps was erected by the Virginia American Legion and dedicated on July 4, 1969. The site is also rich in history, for the Harrisons of Berkeley Plantation included Benjamin Harrison and William Henry Harrison, both presidents of the United States as well as Benjamin Harrison (father and Great grandfather of future presidents), a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
It must be pointed out that other stories of the origin of Taps exist. A popular one is that of a Northern boy who was killed fighting for the south. His father, Robert Ellicombe a Captain in the Union Army, came upon his son's body on the battlefield and found the notes to Taps in a pocket of the dead boy's Confederate uniform. When Union General Daniel Sickles heard the story, he had the notes sounded at the boy's funeral. There is no evidence to back up the story or the existence of Captain Ellicombe. As with many other customs, this solemn tradition continues today. Although Butterfield merely revised an earlier bugle call, his role in producing those 24 notes gives him a place in the history of music as well as the history of war.
As soon as Taps was sounded that night in July 1862, words were put with the music. The first were, “Go To Sleep, Go to Sleep.” As the years went on many more versions were created. There are no official words to the music but here are some of the more popular verses:
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
Go to sleep, peaceful sleep,
May the soldier or sailor,
On the land or the deep,
Safe in sleep.
Love, good night, Must thou go,
When the day, And the night
Need thee so?
All is well. Speedeth all
To their rest.
Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day, And the stars
Fare thee well; Day has gone,
Night is on.
Thanks and praise, For our days,
'Neath the sun, Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.
Jan Villianueva’s website http://tapsbugler.com [http://tapsbugler.com] includes a history of Taps, performance information and guidelines for funerals, finding buglers for sounding calls, many photos of bugles and buglers, music for bugle calls, stories and myths about Taps, Taps at the JFK funeral, ordering his 60 page booklet on Taps (24 Notes That Tap Deep Emotions) and many links to bugle-related sites. Jari is also working on book on the History of Bugle Call in the United States Military.
THE RISE OF THE SERVICE GAP
ACADEMICS vs. MILITARY SERVICE
By John Noonan, National Review On Line, July 28, 2006
John Noonan is the co-founder and author of the military blog Op-For [http://www.op-for.com/ ], where he discusses security, technology, grand strategy, and the war on terror.
It seems that every American conflict has been accompanied by paranoia about a military-service gap - the age-old contention that poor men are forced to fight rich men’s wars. Traditionally, the service gap has been a myth, a falsehood designed to stroke society’s bitter underbelly for some sort of political gain.
While a service gap between the rich and the poor may have actually existed during the French Revolution or the final days of the Russian czars, it has never been a prominent feature of American history.
Yet as the top tier of American academia grows increasingly hostile toward the military and military service, the service gap may go from fiction to fact. As the antiwar movement has grown, so have so-called “counter-recruitment” campaigns, designed to strip the military of the legal right to recruit on campuses.
There is hypocrisy here, as the same activist element that specializes in counter-recruitment also spends a great deal of time bemoaning the supposed service gap. On the one hand, these activists want to blame the wealthy for exploiting the poor to serve as cannon fodder in today's wars. On the other hand, they seek to ensure that as many affluent young people are kept out of the military as possible.
Few people dispute that the military should represent an accurate cross-section of American demography. Pentagon officials do their best to recruit at all levels of society, but it's the antiwar and anti-recruitment groups who are hampering the effort. By fighting to keep recruiters from reaching the upper rungs of the American social ladder, they are seemingly determined to ensure that the war in Iraq and the Global War on Terror will be fought only by the middle and lower classes.
Read the rest of the story HERE [http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=Y2VjMDY3ZDMyNmYxNmZlMTM1YzgzZjdmMzhiYTEyMzY= ].
TRUTH IS THE ENEMY
TRUTH IS THE ENEMY - AT THE PENTAGON
By Joseph L. Galloway, nationally syndicated columnist and Senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers
Forwarded by BGen Robert Clements USAF (Ret)
WASHINGTON - You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. That idea began with the Bible. But at the Pentagon, that law for military leaders could be: If you speak the truth it will make you free … free to seek other employment.
There was a time when the first and greatest loyalty of any military officer was to the truth, and his obligation was to tell the truth as he knew it to his superiors, military or civilian.
They still teach it that way at West Point in the honor code that guides a cadet: I will not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate anyone who does. Even quibbling — any semblance of an evasion of the truth — can lead to expulsion from the academy.
Before the invasion of Iraq, when the planning was under way, the civilian leadership made it clear that this war was going to be done their way and anyone who got in the way would regret it.
If anyone in uniform needed an object lesson they had only to look at what happened to an honorable and loyal soldier, Army chief of staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, when he reluctantly answered a senator who demanded his opinion on how many troops it would take to occupy Iraq. This was in late February 2003. Shinseki answered that, based on his experience as the first commander in Bosnia, that it might take “several hundred thousand soldiers” to occupy Iraq with its 25 million people.
One military commander told me that on that day, when Shinseki said what he said, the plan called for 280,000 American troops to carry out the invasion and the follow-up occupation. The next day that force was reduced by 60,000 troops.
Later the occupation force would be much smaller, well below 200,000. Well below 150,000 in fact. The civilians would prove Ric Shinseki wrong no matter what it cost, and they would do everything in their power to punish him and everyone who liked him and supported him.
Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, publicly rebuked Shinseki, saying his estimate was “wildly off the mark.” They also made him a lame duck by leaking the name of his proposed successor more than a year before he was to retire.
When Army Secretary Tom White spoke up on behalf of Shinseki he was fired. All the while Rumsfeld and his civilian inner circle kept singing the same tune: Anything the commanders over there ask for they will get.
As the younger generation likes to say: Yeah, Right. If they ask for more troops they will get the ax. Ask Army Lt. Gen. John Riggs. In September 2004 while Rumsfeld and Army chief Gen. Peter Schoomaker were doing their best to keep Congress from adding more troops to the Army, Riggs was quoted in a newspaper article (Baltimore Sun, Sept. 13, 2004) that even 10,000 more soldiers not be enough. “You probably are looking at substantially more than 10,000,” Riggs told the paper. “I have been in the Army 39 years and I've never seen the Army as stretched in that 39 years as I have today.”
Riggs had already requested retirement. It usually takes 60 days for the paperwork to get done. Two days before that period ended Riggs was told that he was being demoted to two-star rank and would retire at that rank and pay. Riggs has appealed. Meanwhile the Pentagon leadership continues to respond to all questions about the troop strength in Iraq by singing the old song: Anything the military commanders over there ask for they will get.
That is the answer even though those same commanders don't have enough troops to permanently base any of them along the wide-open Syrian border crossings where hundreds of foreign Jihad terrorists have crossed into Iraq on their way to become suicide bombers killing Americans and Iraqis alike.
That is the answer even though those same commanders have never had enough troops to secure the hundreds of old ammunition dumps scattered all over Iraq which contain over a million tons of bombs, artillery shells, bullets, rockets and launchers. No doubt that will still be the answer when the Army and the Marine Corps have been utterly broken by unending combat deployments that grind up soldiers and equipment alike.
When the Army cannot recruit enough replacements for those who are leaving something they love because they love their families more. You shall know the truth but if you are a general you must remain mute. Try teaching that at West Point.
TV FOR PERSONNEL OVERSEAS
By Gerry J. Gilmore American Forces Press Service
8/27/2004 - Washington (AFPN) — The Defense Department's American Forces Network television system has scheduled broadcasting of new movie and family channels to overseas military audiences beginning on Sept. 3.
“Made possible by new satellite technology, the new channels enhance choices for these service members and their families,” said Lt. Col. Doug Smith, operations officer at American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) headquarters in Alexandria, Va.
“The Family Channel is something we've wanted to do for a very long time,” Smith said. Programming content will be targeted to children ages 2 to 17.
The Movie Channel will offer the best of Hollywood films, with behind-the-scenes specials detailing how some popular movies were made.
AFRTS has provided news, sports, entertainment and DOD programming to members overseas since the 1950s. The new channels fill a couple of niches previously unavailable.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon Channel added around-the-clock broadcasting of military news programs, Pentagon news conferences and congressional hearings featuring senior DOD leaders.
Larry Sichter, AFN's affiliate relations chief at the Defense Media Center. March AFRB, CA, said AFN provides 10 television services and 12 radio services to 180 ships at sea and to service members and families stationed in 177 countries - a combined audience he estimated at 180,000.
WEBSITE LINKS TROOPS TO SUPPORT
By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2006 – If you or another service member or military family you know needs help, the support you're seeking might be just a few clicks away on the America Supports You Web site.
“The green button on the site takes military members to a long list of resources and America Supports You partners, all standing by and ready to help,” Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, told the American Forces Press Service.
“They include traditional military and government programs, but also corporate, grassroots and individual efforts that help meet needs the Defense Department simply can't,” said Barber. She came up with the program concept for America Supports You and oversees its operations.
Since its inception in November 2004, the program has provided a unique link between the American public and men and women in uniform. “We are doing it on a national scale and we just can't do enough,” Barber said.
It has gained steady momentum during the past year, expanding to a vast network of 25 corporate and 188 grassroots organizations.
For example, one link on the page takes visitors to organizations that donate frequent-flier miles so family members and friends can visit wounded troops recovering from combat injuries. Another links to groups that renovate homes and build ramps to accommodate returning troops' wheelchairs, all at no charge.
While many groups on the site focus specifically on wounded troops, many support all service members and their families in need. Some offer free phone cards for deployed troops so they can call home without stressing their budgets.
Others send care packages and letters of encouragement to deployed members. Still others help families keep the home fires burning during their loved one's deployment. Recognizing that family finances often get tight during deployment, some groups pitch in to cover emergency expenses or pick up the tab on niceties that too often go by the wayside during a deployment, Barber said.
One America Supports You team member cut a check directly to a mechanic to pay for a military family's desperately needed car repairs. Another pays for camps for deployed National Guard members' kids. “I don't want a second grader to not go to basketball camp because their mom or dad is deployed - especially when we have people who are ready to pay for that camp,” Barber said.
Barber acknowledged that the America Supports You program represents a culture change for service members, who traditionally have depended on the military community for the support they need. But it's an important shift that ultimately means better, more complete support for troops and their families, she said.
While recognizing the tremendous value of initiatives conducted at the service and Department of Defense levels, Barber said the program provides a conduit to services and programs beyond DoD's scope. “These are not programs that the Department of Defense is equipped to run. There are certain things that our grassroots groups and corporate team members can do for the military community that the military is not necessarily equipped to handle in the same way,” she said.
“America Supports You might not have all the answers for everyone, but it sure will have a lot of answers and a lot of solutions for people,” Barber said. “We want to make sure that people add this program to their toolbox when they need help or when they're helping someone.”
Click on the AMERICA SUPPORTS YOU [http://www.americasupportsyou.mil/americasupportsyou/index.aspx ] site.