Tag Archives: Air Force

Rebuttal of Tom Collina’s and Kingston Reif’s call to cut nukes

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The US nuclear deterrent – cut by over 75% since the Cold War’s end – is now barely adequate, yet the leftist anti-nuclear-deterrence movement wants to cut it deeply even further and eventually scrap it altogether. They want that to happen unilaterally, without Russia or anyone else’s participation.

Why? Because these people, such as the ACA’s Tom Collina and the CLW’s Kingston Reif, genuinely hate the US and would love to see it nuked.

It was therefore not surprising (even though not pleasant, either) to see both of these rabid anti-nuclear activists to write new garbage screeds calling for deep, unilateral cuts in the US nuclear arsenal and the fleet of its delivery systems – ostensibly to save money. These pacifists are now laughably casting themselves as friends of the US military who want to help it cope with sequestration and save its conventional capabilities.

They claim that a) such cuts can be done without imperiling US national security; b) they would save much money to help the DOD cope with sequestration; c) they would help save higher-priority conventional programs; d) the US has more nuclear weapons than it needs.

All of their claims are utter garbage. Here’s why.

Firstly, contrary to their, and their Dear Leader Barack Obama’s, blatant lies, the US DOES NOT have “more nuclear weapons than it needs.” In fact, the current number – roughly 5,000, of which only about 1,700 are deployed – is barely adequate to deter Russia, China, and North Korea. The current commander of the US Strategic Command (responsible for America’s nuclear weapons) and his predecessor have both said that the current size of the arsenal is “exactly what we need.” Those are General Kehler’s words, not mine. Both of them have also utterly rejected calls for further deep cuts.

Thus also refuting Collina’s lie that “the US military is telling us we have more nuclear weapons than we need.” The US military has not said any such thing.

Why? And why have both Secretary Hagel and Deputy Secretary Carter – to the displeasure of Tom Collina – rejected calls for further cuts?

Because further cuts to America’s nuclear deterrent would gravely undermine US national security and quite possibly invite a nuclear first strike on the US.

In order to deter any adversary, a nuclear arsenal has to be able to a) survive a first strike by any enemy; and b) hold, and if need be, obliterate, so many of the enemy’s military and economic assets that the cost of American retaliation will be prohibitive to him and hence, he won’t retaliate.

For both of these purposes, you need a LARGE nuclear arsenal; a small one will never suffice, as it would be too easy to destroy in a nuclear first strike.

No amount of conventional weapons can substitute here; only nuclear weapons have a sufficient striking and retaliatory power.

The US needs thousands, not mere hundreds, of deployed nuclear warheads to deter Russia and China, and many hundreds of delivery systems to deliver these warheads – at minimum, no fewer than the current number.

Russia currently has 434 ICBMs capable of delivering 1,684 warheads to the CONUS; 251 bombers able to deliver 1,757 warheads to the same destination; and 13 ballistic missile subs capable of unleashing another 2,000 nuclear warheads on the US, depending on the missile type used.

On top of that, Russia has a huge tactical nuclear arsenal of 4,000 warheads and a wide range of systems (missiles, torpedoes, artillery pieces, aircraft, etc.) to deliver these, and is also developing an IRBM in flagrant violation of the INF treaty.

And if that were not enough, it’s also developing new road- and rail-mobile ICBMs, while the US is not developing any, and has not fielded a single new ICBM since the 1980s.

And on top of that, Russia has recently conducted a huge nuclear attack exercise involving several ICBMs and SLBMs, as well as several SRBMs, being fired at once – an exercise US intel agencies say were a simulation of a Russian nuclear attack!

Yet, Collina and Reif want the US to unilaterally cut its ICBM fleet from 450 to a paltry 300, the nuclear warhead stockpile to 1,000 or fewer warheads, and the ballistic missile sub fleet to just 8 boats!

China, contrary to the claims of American anti-nuclear activists, has at least 1,600, and potentially up to 3,000, nuclear warheads, according to two credible experts: General Viktor Yesin, a former chief of staff of Russia’s ICBM force, and Professor Philip Karber, the DOD’s chief nuclear strategist during the Reagan years and now a Georgetown University professor. This writer himself has estimated that China has at least 1,274 deployed nuclear warheads, without counting any of the 500 warheads attributed to China’s ground-launched cruise missiles or short-range ballistic missiles. If these are counted, China has at least 1,774 deployed nuclear warheads.

China’s nuclear arsenal is not at a standstill; Beijing is now introducing a new, 10-warhead ICBM called the DF-41, and two new sub-launched missile variants capable of carrying up to 12 warheads over 14,000 kms, as well as a sixth ballistic missile submarine.

This, BTW, completely belies China’s claim to have a “minimum nuclear deterrent” – but then again, deception is a practice deeply ingrained in Chinese military culture since at least the Sun Tzu years, if not earlier.

Additionally, while Russia, China, and North Korea are threats to many but protectors to nobody, the US has to provide a nuclear deterrent not only to itself but also to over 30 allies around the world, who rely on it for their security and their very existence. And they cannot afford to bet these on Obama’s, Collina’s, and Reif’s childish fantasies of a “world without nuclear weapons”, which will never happen.

If the US continues to further cut its nuclear umbrella, it will become woefully inadequate, forcing other countries to develop their own weapons. Already 66.5% of South Koreans want to do so. Persian Gulf states are already preparing to do so, in the face of the future Iranian nuclear threat. Japan, for its part, has facilities that can produce enough fissile material for 3,600 warheads in a matter of months if Tokyo chooses to go nuclear.

So cutting the US nuclear arsenal further will only lead to MORE nuclear proliferation around the world, not less.

But wouldn’t it at least save lots of money?

No, it wouldn’t.

Deputy Secretary Carter has already warned there is little that can be saved even by cutting the nuclear arsenal deeply. Collina condemns DOD officials for thinking nuclear weapons are cheap, but even he admits that they cost, overall, only $31 bn per year and that this is little compared to the overall US military budget.

Indeed, $31 bn is just 5% of the roughly $600 bn annual US military budget, and only 5/6 of 1% of the annual federal budget. It is also only about $100 per capita (for a US population of roughly 310 mn people).

So it costs every American (and immigrant) only $100 per year to maintain this large, diverse, three-legged, survivable nuclear deterrent which, for the last 68 years (and counting) has protected America against Russia, China, and North Korea.

Collina proposes to “dial back” the B61 nuclear bomb’s service life extension, cut the ballistic missile sub fleet (and its planned replacement) to just eight boats, delay the next generation bomber program by a decade, and cut the ICBM fleet from 450 to “300 or fewer” (there is no lower limit on cuts to US ICBMs that Collina would ever consider).

Collina desperately responds to such criticism that in fiscally dire times, every saving that can be accrued is worthy. But such puny savings are worthless – and even dangerous when they are made in the inventory of such crucial instruments of deterrence as nuclear weapons, which nothing can replace today.

Cutting the US nuclear arsenal further – let alone as deeply as Collina and Reif suggest – is not only not worth the puny savings it would accrue, it would be utterly suicidal, as it would invite (God forbid) a nuclear first strike on America and its allies. A much smaller US arsenal would be much easier for Russia and China to destroy in a first strike.

Preventing such a strike is, and out to be, THE highest priority of the DOD – as confirmed by Sec. Hagel and Deputy Secretary Carter. It is worth far more than any amount of money.

And at just 5% of the military budget and a paltry $100 per capita, it is a very low cost.

When lean budgetary years come, no sane company or organization cuts its budget by eliminating the most valuable service it provides. And nuclear deterrence is by far the most valuable service the military provides to the nation.

Collina’s proposal to delay the next-gen bomber by a decade is very dangerous (and treasonous) also for another reason: the next gen bomber is needed for conventional, not just nuclear, missions. This is because the B-52 (whose retention Collina advocates) and the non-nuclear B-1 have long ago lost ability to penetrate Soviet airspace (in fact, the B-1 never had it – it was obsolete by the time it entered service). Their radar signatures are so large that even legacy Soviet air defense systems, such as those owned by North Korea, would have no trouble detecting them and shooting them down.

That’s to say nothing of the modern, state of the art air defense systems used by Russia, China, Venezuela, and Belarus, and soon to be delivered to both Syria and Iran. No aircraft except the B-2 and the F-22 will be able to penetrate these systems – and experts such as CSBA’s Mark Gunzinger (a retired bomber pilot) say that even the B-2 will, a decade from now, lose its penetrating ability. Which would leave the US with no bomber able to penetrate enemy airspace – and thus give enemies complete sanctuary within their airspace and on the land below it.

And when you give your enemy any sanctuary, you lose the war.

The next-gen bomber is therefore absolutely needed – NOW, not a decade from today. The requirement for it has been validated by two consecutive QDRs (2006, 2010), by successive SECDEFs (Gates, Panetta, Carter) and USAF Chiefs of Staff (Moseley, Schwartz, Welsh), and by a wide range of outside-DOD studies by the CSBA, the Heritage Foundation, the Mitchell Institute, the Joint Force Quarterly, and others, including this writer. The USAF says delaying this program would be “very high risk.”

The NGB is not a mere wish; it is an absolute requirement. The USAF’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Welsh, lists it as one of his top three modernization priorities, along with the KC-46 tanker and the F-35 strike fighter.

Collina’s claim that making such cuts in nuclear weapons is necessary to cope with sequestration is also a blatant lie, and a figleaf for advocating deep, treasonous cuts that he and his treasonous, subversive organization (ACA), as well as other anti-nuclear groups like Kingston Reif’s CLW, have long been calling for in order to disarm America unilaterally.

Eliminating the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad would save only $1.1 bn per year; scrapping the bomber leg, only $2.5 bn per annum.

In fact, even eliminating the US nuclear arsenal completely would not provide more than half of the savings required to pay for sequestration, which amounts to $55 bn EVERY YEAR and $550 bn over the decade from FY2013 to FY2022.

The real money in the defense budget is in the military personnel accounts – pay, benefits, healthcare, retirement packages, etc. – which have, so far, been considered sacrosanct and off the table, based on the mistaken belief that even touching them would mean “breaking faith with the troops.” If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree on, it’s stonewalling any DOD requests for authorizing reforms of personnel programs.

Yet, without meaningful reforms, personnel programs will, by FY2039, consume 100% of the US defense budget – leaving no money for any weapons, nuclear or conventional.

And that is probably what Collina and Reif want.

Engaging Young Voters on Defense Issues

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A study released recently by the national leaders of Young Republicans (YRNC) polled young voters on numerous issues, including defense and foreign policy. The study reports that only 17% of youngsters believe that protecting the country should be the government’s top priority; that defense is “the place to start” budget cuts; that 35% of young voters, including 45% of young independents, believe defense spending should be cut [further]; and that in general, many if not most young voters want to reduce the size and budget of the military, withdraw it from foreign countries, and entrench America behind the oceans.

Why do so many youngsters hold such mistaken views? I believe this is due to confusion, as well as Republicans’ failure to clear up that confusion and explain why America needs to stop cutting its defense budget, retain the military at no less than its current size, and generally remain involved in the world.

This article aims to explain these issues and clear up the confusion. If you are a young voter, please give me 10 minutes of your time to explain.

Firstly, why shouldn’t the US cut its defense budget further?

Because, quite simply, significant cuts would seriously weaken the US military. There are many building bricks of military strength: brave troops, good training, competent leaders, world-class equipment, force size, a steady supply of ammunition and other provisions – but other than bravery, none of this is possible to have without sufficient funding. Without an adequate budget, the military will be very weak.

An army marches on its stomach, as Napoleon said – or more precisely, on its budget. To have an adequately-sized military, quality training and care for the troops, decent base and housing infrastructure, a sufficient supply of goods, and world-class weapons in sufficient quantities, you need adequate funding.

The military is not too big; if anything, it’s too small. The Navy, with the smallest ship fleet since 1915, is able to meet only 59% of Combatant Commanders’ needs for ships; the Air Force is strained beyond hope, flying its smallest and oldest aircraft fleet (average age: over 24 years, meaning the USAF’s aircraft, on average, were produced before you were born; they’re older than the pilots flying them). The Marines are on track to shrink to 182,100 men – but if sequestration sticks, they’ll have only 145,000 – not enough for even one major operation per the USMC’s Commandnant. The military is a shadow of its former self; in the Reagan years, it ahd over 2.6 million personnel and the Navy had 600 ships.

Some question why the US spends as much as it does compared to other countries.

But in all non-Western countries, one dollar can buy several times as much as it can in the US. And in countries like China, central governments pay only for capital military expenditures like weapons development and acquisition, while basing and personnel costs are borne mostly by regional governments. Thus, China’s military budget (up to $215 bn according to the DOD) is actually worth several times that amount. In Russia, the Defense Ministry gets much of its property as “free goods” from other ministries.

Moreover, total US military spending, including Afghan war costs, are only 4.1% of America’s GDP, the lowest share of GDP going to defense since 1948 (excluding the late Clinton years). That was a time of total military demobilization. Speaking of which, history shows that everytime the US has deeply cut its military’s size and budget, it later had to rebuild the military at a high cost when a new adversary perpetrated, or threatened, aggression – after both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War.

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Moreover, the US has a much larger economy (the world’s largest) and the 3rd largest population, so its natural that its military budget, in raw dollars, would be larger than those of other countries. Proportionally to its economy and population ($1,990 per capita, compared to almost $2,500 per capita during the Reagan years), the defense spending burden is quite low – especially by historical standards.

Many young voters are certainly frustrated with the waste in defense (and nondefense) spending. Believe me, so am I. That is why I’ve written, over the years, the largest DOD reform proposals package ever devised by anyone. But there isn’t enough waste in the DOD budget to pay for the budget cuts being contemplated by many young citizens – or those scheduled under current law. Because, you see, under the Budget Control Act of 2011, defense spending is on course to be cut by $1 trillion over the next decade (through FY2022, $550 bn of that under a mechanism called sequestration – which, making matters worse, doesn’t distinguish between legitimate defense priorities and waste, and instead requires cuts across the entire defense budget by 10%, in missile defense as much as in DOD bureaucrats. The DOD has zero legal flexibility to distribute those cuts.

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Before the sequester, the BCA had already mandated $487 bn in defense budget cuts; before that, Secretary Gates cut $178 bn in “efficiencies”; and before that, he had already killed over 50 weapon programs, including the F-22 fighter, the CG-X cruiser, and the Airborne Laser. Defense spending, in short, has already been subjected to deep, excessive cuts during President Obama’s tenure – while nondefense spending had not, prior to sequestration, faced any cuts (and even under sequestration, nondefense spending cuts will be shallow). And a full 60% of sequestration’s cuts are from defense.

Moreover, you could eliminate military spending entirely, and there still would be huge budget deficits for perpetuity. So defense spending is the wrong place to look for further cuts. It’s time for entitlements – which are exempt from sequestration – to face reductions now.

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Furthermore – and most importantly – defense is the most important function of the federal government, indeed its highest Constitutional duty, as made clear by the Constitution’s Preamble and Sec. 4 of Art. IV, and by the fact that half of all enumerated powers of Congress listed in Sec. 8 of Art. I of the Constitution pertain to military matters. Defense is therefore far more important than, say, farm aid or mass transit. And that is what the Founding Fathers believed.

George Washington told Congress in 1790 that “Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defense will merit particular regard. (…) To be prepared for war is one of the effective means of preserving the peace.” John Adams said wisely that “National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.” James Madison asked in one of the Federalist Papers: “How could readiness for war in times of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?”

Some will say, “But the US should do less around the world. It should be less interventionist.”

But less is not better. More is not better, either. Only better is better.

The US, of course, shouldn’t make every conflict around the world, and every nation’s governance or security problems, its own. But in crucial parts of the world, the US needs to intervene when (and only when) its interests or its key allies are threatened. Who rules in Bosnia, Zambia, or Lesotho is irrelevant to US interests.

But when North Korea tests nuclear weapons and missiles and threatens US allies and Guam; when China bullies and threatens countries across East Asia; when Russia flies bombers close to US airspace practicing attacks on the US; when Israel’s security is threatened, the US cannot stand by; it must do something. The key is to determine what constitutes an American national interest and thus when and where to intervene, if at all; I’ve attempted to do so here. Also, if and when the US intervenes, it needs to achieve victory quickly and then go home. Prolonged wars don’t serve the national interest.

You may ask, “What about Iraq and Afghanistan, then?” I believe the invasion of Iraq and the nationbuilding campaign in Afghanistan were big mistakes. The US, like other countries, sometimes makes them. But it’s crucial not to shift to the other extreme of the position spectrum and oppose any overseas interventions completely. The right path lies in the middle; the US should sometimes intervene, but only in defense of its vital interests and allies. Historically, that has been the policy of Republican Presidents such as… Ronald Reagan and his Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. The latter officially enshrined this policy as the Weinberger Doctrine.

Dear Young Reader, if you’ve read all of this to the end, I want to thank you – even if you don’t agree with me completely, or even in 50%. The US military needs the engagement and support of every US citizen – especially young citizens, who are the future and the hope of any nation and its armed forces.

Why the Next Generation Bomber is needed

There are some who question whether the Air Force’s planned Next Generation Bomber is needed.  An example is this article published by the liberal CPI, wherein David Axe asked many questions that are easy to answer. In this paper, I will answer them and thus show why the NGB is absolutely needed.

First, I’ll rebut his questions regarding the requirement for next-gen bomber, and then, explain why it can be developed and produced affordably.

The requirement is clear, and it’s undisputable. The air defense systems of China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, Syria, and even North Korea are dense, very deadly, and, excepting Iran and North Korea for now, very modern. Russian and Chinese air defense systems have proliferated and continue to proliferate globally.

Any notion that the B-52 or the B-1 could survive in such an environment is ridiculous and not supported by any facts. The B-52 and the B-1 would be useless in any defended airspace; nowadays, they’re useful only for COIN campaigns in very benign environments where the only opponents are insurgents unable to contest control of the air. David Axe touts these bombers’ upgrades, but these “upgrades” won’t make them viable in any contested airspace. These bombers are not stealthy, due to a lack of both a stealthy shape AND radar-absorbent materials. No amount of upgrades or even RAMs can overcome this huge deficiency. It’s inherent in these bombers’ nonstealthy design with perfect radar wave reflectors. Even legacy Soviet SAM systems like the SA-2, SA-3, SA-4, SA-5, and SA-6, with upgraded radar, could easily detect and shoot down these aircraft – and they were widely exported. Matters are even worse if you’re facing the S-300 (which Russia, Belarus, China, and Venezuela all have), China’s HQ-9 and HQ-16, or Russia’s S-400.

For purposes of any campaigns in any contested airspace, the B-52 and the B-1 practically do not exist, leaving the USAF with just 20 B-2s. But B-2s’ stealth technology is 1980s’ vintage. They won’t remain stealthy forever. Even if they did, 20 stealthy bombers are insufficient for campaigns against anyone but a trivial opponent. Bombing campaigns against the forementioned countries would require a huge number of sorties, and consequently, a LARGE number of stealthy bombers.

Cruise missiles are no substitute for the NGB. Even buying 50,000 of them would not help, as they are easily detectable and easy to shoot down. So if the USAF bought 50,000 cruise missiles, the vast majority of them would be easily shot down by the opponent’s air defense systems, and only a tiny minority of them would reach their targets. Now THAT would be a real waste of money – NOT buying a needed next-gen bomber.

Cruise missiles are also TOO EXPENSIVE to be used en masse, which is what Axe and others seem to be proposing. The reason why so few Tomahawks have been used in past wars is because… they’re too expensive. In 1996, CENTAF commander Gen. Chuck Horner was ordered to stop launching Tomahawks after just 100 were used because of their cost. Moreover, once you expend a cruise missile, you can’t use it again. It’s gone. Money is thus blown. By contrast, a bomber, once you buy it, can fly for 50 years or more. It’s an investment you make that pays off many times over during several decades.

Bombing campaigns over China – if the PRC starts a war – are viable and would be necessary to break the PRC’s back (and thus to win). The point of wars is WINNING, not achieving a draw. What Wayne Hughes (cited by Axe) is proposing is self-limiting, which would lead to self-defeat. He’s proposing a limited war doctrine of the same kind that caused defeat in Vietnam and nearly caused defeat in Korea.

Winning in war requires breaking the enemy’s capability and/or willingness to make war. Winning any war against China (or any other adversary) requires breaking its warmaking capability, which requires large-scale strikes against its military bases, nuclear/ballistic missile stockpiles, weapon factories, bunkers, and military units/SAM batteries/missile regiments. That can only be done by bombers.

Secondly, can the USAF deliver the bomber on budget?

If it pursues it in a no-frills manner as promised, it can. There are BIG differences between this program and the B-2. The B-2 was designed from stratch, and used mostly new parts. The NGB will have very few new components and will mostly use parts already used for other aircraft – from mission computers, to engines, to radar, to bomb bay and landing gear bay doors, to the landing gear itself.

The CSBA’s Mark Gunzinger has estimated that such a bomber, with a 20,000 lb payload, would cost only $440 mn dollars, not $550 mn, so the USAF has probably planned for a large MOE. He furthermore listed several ways in which the DOD could achieve the low $440 mn unit cost, including reusing existing aircraft parts, fully funding the EMD phase, and purchasing enough test vehicles to weed out any bugs.

Furthermore, the total projected program cost – $55 bn – is the cost of the TOTAL program over its duration over many decades. Even if it lasted only one decade, it would be only $5.5 bn per year. If it’s done over 2 decades, it will cost only $2.75 bn annually.

Removing a pilot cockpit would save only a pittance. It would reduce the aircraft’s weight, and thus cost, only by 4%, as it wouldn’t make a meaningful difference in the weight of a large, heavy plan like a bomber. The DOD buys planes by the pound, so no large weight savings mean no large cost savings. Yet, a drone would be VERY vulnerable. Its comm links could break down or be jammed by the enemy, who could also commandeer a drone; or it could somehow else go haywire. The capture of a Sentinel drone by the Iranians proved this.

BTW, Axe is contradicting himself. He repeatedly underlines the risks related to an unmanned plane’s development (let alone as large as a bomber), yet, he claims that making the bomber unmanned would yield savings which Robert Gates and Gen. James Cartwright dreamed about. So he’s contradicting itself. Which is it, Mr Axe? Would an unmanned bomber be less or more costly and risky than a manned one?

And if an optionally manned bomber – the solution offering the USAF maximum flexibility – becomes too risky to develop, the Service can make it purely manned. Problem solved.

Thirdly, the article by Axe contains many false claims about how the B-2 and NGB sagas unfolded.

The B-2 did NOT cost $3 bn dollars to purchase, not even including R&D funds. It cost only $1.2 bn to buy, and only including research and development costs. Even then, it would have cost significantly less if the DOD had bought the 132 bombers originally planned (as it should have), instead of a puny 21. Unfortunately, the hunt for the “peace dividend” was already underway, so the B-2 was killed along with many other crucial weapon programs. As a result of these idiotic decisions, America’s long-range conventional strike capability is now limited to 20 stealthy bombers.

The NGB was not killed because the USAF overloaded it with pricey gizmos. It was killed for purely political reasons, due to Obama’s desire for defense cuts (to fund his unconstitutional domestic programs), and of course, Cartwright’s meddling, as the defense weakling and strident liberal who was then the VCJCS didn’t want America to have any weapon that could challenge China or Russia. (Cartwright, as the leader of the “Global Zero” group, has recently proposed that America essentially unilaterally disarm itself while Russia, China, and others are building up their nuclear arsenals. That should tell you a lot about his leftist ideology.)

But Gates endorsed a new bomber program in 2010 – while Cartwright was still VC of the JCS still the frontrunner for Chairman. He did so after the DOD’s 2010 QDR, in a holistic analysis, found a real need for the NGB. Gates consequently requested 200 mn for the NGB in the FY2011 defense budget – a year earlier than Axe claims. Meanwhile, the CSBA, which Axe likes to quote, found in its own holistic, impartial analysis, that 100 NGBs are indeed very much needed, and that without them, the USAF will lose its long range penetration capability when the B-2 loses its.

Gates has reaffirmed the need for the NGB several times since then, as has his successor, two successive CSAFs, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, multiple retired USAF generals, and analysts from the CSBA, the Heritage Foundation, the National Defense University, and other entities.

And if Leon Panetta, faced with a $487 bn (and potentially $1 trillion) cut to his department’s budget took care to find money for the NGB, it must be worth it.

No, the NGB will not be on the chopping block in the 2020s. This program is too important for the USAF, and there’s a clear requirement for it. If anything gets cancelled, it will be the F-35, which can’t do long range strike and is not truly stealthy.

The Next Generation Bomber is needed, and fast.

Air Force Confirms Another Drone Crash

Photo: dover.af.mil

The Air Force has confirmed another drone (an unarmed MQ-9) has crashed at an airport at the Island nation of Seychelles. This comes just over a week after the crash of a drone in Iran causing the Iranian defense minister to call on the United States to apologize for the “hostile act”

“The cause of the incident is unknown and currently under investigation,” said the Air Force in a statement.

The Air Force has been using the island nations airport to target Al-Qaida linked militants in Somalia.

 

Armed Air Force Officer Barricades Self in Room at GPS Satellite Base

A base that controls over 60 of the military’s GPS satellites has been the center of the news as a member of the 50th Security Forces Squadron at Shriever Air Force Base barricaded himself in a room in the deployment processing building on Monday.

No one was hurt, and the event ended peacefully at the sensitive and highly-guarded Air Force base in Colorado.

After the building had been evacuated, negotiators talked with the intruder over  a period of 10 hours before he surrendered.

The only details about the intruder released so far are that he is a 21 year old active-duty officer in the Air Force and facing discharge due to legal action in civil court against him. No details for the reason or type of discharge have been offered, nor has his name been released.

updates:

Originally it had been reported that the officer had barricaded himself in the room that controls the satellites. Information from the the 50th Space Wing Public Affairs Office has refuted that report.

Michele Bachmann's Chinese Chips Comment Ignored

Photo courtesy of Zephyris

While Rick Perry’s “Oops” moment is one of the most reported from Wednesday night’s debate, Rep. Bachmann dropped a bomb on the stage that seems to have largely been ignored by the media – Chinese counterfeit computer components are showing up in U.S. defense weapon systems.

As long ago as 2005, Bloomberg reported that fake computer components were causing failures in multiple military systems. Some reports say that as much as 15% of the spare and replacement components the military buys are counterfeit.

While reliability and safety are prime concerns, national security must also be considered. If it is such an easy matter to get a non-conforming component into a U.S. Department of Defense weapon system, it would be even easier to hide code in those components that might cause failure on command or under a certain circumstance.

Senator Carl Levin spoke at a hearing on Tuesday relaying that his committee had investigated 100 cases of suspected counterfeiting. More than 70% of the couterfeit components came from China.

One weapon system reported to have been impacted by Chinese knock-off chips is the P8-A Poseidon military patrol aircraft.  A chip in the de-icing system failed and upon inspection it was discovered that the system had a counterfeit chip.

Counterfeit transistors have also been found in the Navy’s SH60-B helicopter by Levin’s committe. Raytheon, the defense contractor responsible for the components, did not know about the fake circuits until the investigation by the committee revealed them.

The GAO has also reported that the Navy had purchased counterfeit routers that have a high rate of failure, the Air Force had bought counterfeit chips for use in F-15 flight control systems and unreliable oscillators had been bought from a “prohibited supplier” for use in Air Force and Navy navigation systems seemingly for use in unmanned vehicles.

Sen. Levin testified that the use of counterfeit Chinese components in an Air Force missile cost American taxpayers $2.7 million to repair. Sens. Levin and John McCain are working on legislation preventing Pentagon reimbursement when counterfeit components cause problems. “There’s no reason on earth that the replacement of a counterfeit part should be paid for by American taxpayers instead of by the contractor who put it on the system.”

Defense contractors Raytheon, BAE and Northrop all purchased counterfeit components through brokers such as VisionTech who, despite not employing a single engineer or quality control expert, was able to sell components to defense contractors.

Osama bin Laden dies an Ignoble Death but Lady Liberty lives on

Once upon a midnight dreary, Osama pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While he plotted, clearly scheming, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some SEAL gently rapping, rapping at his chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” he muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.”

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled him – filled him with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of his heart, he stood repeating,
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some Paki Minister entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more.”

Presently his soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Infidel,” said he, “or kafir, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was plotting, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”- here he opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long he stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “helicopter?”
This he whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “helicopter!” –
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, his black soul within him burning,
Soon again he heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said he, “surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more.”

Open here he flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately SEAL of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, bursted through his chamber door –
Looking down his rifle’s gun sights just beyond the chamber door –
Locked, and loaded, nothing more.

“Prophet!” said Osama, “thing of evil! – prophet still, if SEAL or devil! –
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Abottabad? – tell me – tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the triggerman “Nevermore.”

Osama bin Laden is no more. In one important sense our national nightmare is over. Finally there is some closure for the families of the thousands that died that terrible day in September of 2001. Like most Americans I take what happened on 9/11 personally. My son, Joshua, had just enlisted in the United States Army. He was part of the first class that graduated from Army boot camp at Fort Jackson after the national tragedy that started America down the road of the War on Terrorism.

I travelled from Florida to Fort Jackson for Joshua’s graduation ceremony. It was a chilly day and I was bundled up against the cold that morning. But my heart warmed as a thousand new Army recruits passed in review and the base commander addressed us all. He told us of the admiration he had for all of the recruits who were graduating that day. An all-volunteer force now, the Army gains its new blood from those who feel the burning pride of patriotism. And America’s best, its youth and its future, were placing all that they had on the line so that we all could live in freedom. There was an upsurge in military enlistments post 9/11. The country came together in defense of freedom. It was an era for the ages. That feeling of national unity had never before been experienced by many Americans. And for those who had experienced that feeling it had been a long time – perhaps as far back as the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Following the graduation ceremony Joshua was released to us with the provision that he was to remain on base until he boarded the bus which would take him to Fort Eustis for advanced training. So for the next two days we toured the base. We went to the enlisted men’s club. We visited the base museum. We saw it all. And then Joshua boarded the bus and headed to Fort Eustis in Virginia where he was to be trained as a helicopter power plant mechanic.

The next time we saw Joshua was at a Holiday Inn near the airport in Jacksonville, FL. The Army had that entire hotel rented out. Joshua was now a member of the 101st Airborne Division and the Screaming Eagles were being deployed to Kuwait (though we didn’t know exactly where at the time due to security concerns). Joshua’s unit had spent the past week wrapping all of their helicopters in plastic wrap to protect them from the salty ocean spray. All of the helicopters were being loaded onto cargo ships for the slow transit to the Arabian Gulf. We hugged Joshua and said our goodbyes – not knowing when we would see him again.

A few months later Joshua crossed into Iraq as far of the invasion force. His unit made its way up to Mosul in the northern part of Iraq and there Joshua stayed for the next year. We learned bits and pieces of Joshua’s war experiences – like the time he went out to retrieve a downed helicopter and his unit came under enemy attack. Joshua saw one of his friends blown to bits that day – nothing left but blood. That is what it is like defending America. Every day isn’t a victory. Friends die. Comrades in arms are sent home in either body bags or via flying hospitals. Ezra Taft Benson, who served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Eisenhower Administration, once said that when freedom is lost it is only regained through the shedding of blood. Truer words were never spoken.

Joshua eventually returned stateside but was later sent back to Iraq for another tour of duty. This time he was assigned to Bagram Air Force Base north of Baghdad. It was more of the same. Blood. Sweat. Tears. And a steady diet of combat patrols. Joshua was assigned to carry his squad’s M249 light machine gun. It was previously known in the Army by the name of Squad Automatic Weapon, or SAW. A fully loaded M249 weighs in at 22 pounds. Imagine lugging the weapon on patrol day after day. No wonder Joshua returned home with arms the size of small logs.

Joshua is out of the Army now. He didn’t re-enlist. But with two tours of duty in Iraq he has more than carried his share of the load in defending freedom. I salute him and every other man and woman who wears the uniform of a United States soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. Joshua’s unit spent countless hours and days hunting for Saddam Hussein. He knows the frustration of coming up empty on patrol after patrol. Seeing Seal Team 6 successfully corner Osama Bin Laden means something to him, and to me.

America didn’t ask for the War on Terrorism. In fact, America absorbed blow after blow without a significant level of response. America slept through the bombing of our Marines in Beirut. America slept through the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. America slept through the atrocities in Somalia. And then America woke up. 9/11 penetrated our hearts and our minds. Never again would America take it on the chin without seeking out those responsible for such wanton murder. President George W. Bush promised to seek out those who were responsible for attacking the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and bring them to justice. Bush put into place the intelligence infrastructure that Barack Obama benefitted from years later. Regardless, killing bin Laden finally cut off the head of the snake that attacked us in 2001. The war rolls on but at least justice has been served to the evil mastermind that murdered thousands of innocent American lives.

Joshua, your honorable service in defense of our country is magnificent. I salute you, my son! I salute all the heroes who have sacrificed their blood for freedom. I salute all of our American heroes who give their all in defense of our freedom and our liberty. It is a dangerous world and there will always be new bin Ladens seeking to enslave us. But there will also always be Joshuas and countless others who will rise to the occasion when liberty is threatened and who will save us in our hour of need.

Lady Liberty continues to lift her lamp in New York harbor, giving hope to the oppressed and symbolizing freedom and liberty to all men everywhere. It is with thanks to the American military that we acknowledge the death of Osama bin Laden. Those who live by the sword die by the sword. Though bin Laden’s crimes are great and his evil designs monumental in their scope – the American dream refuses to die. Lady Liberty shines like a golden city on a hill. Her light will not be dimmed and America will always be free.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
–    Emma Lazarus

May 30th – Special Memorial Day Show

Show Description: CDN Staff are compiling a tribute to America and the men and women in our armed services that defend her.

Show Time: Monday May 30th 9pm Eastern, 8pm Central, 7pm Mountain, 6pm Pacific

To Listen to the show click this link:  Plain, Hard Truth Tribute to America and Our Troops

To Call in to the show: (424) 220-1807

Reference Links from the Show (work-in-progress)

“If I Die Before You Wake” – Dustin Evans
Dustin got involved in music at a very young age, influenced mainly by his father. Dustin learned most of his dad’s songs and was singing them with true pitch at the age of three. As a teen, Dustin taught himself to play guitar, drums, bass, and piano, and began writing his own songs.
John Wayne’s collection of patriotic messages are still valid today. We’ll be listening to “Face the Flag Son”.

Please click on the CD image to purchase the entire CD if you find The Duke’s true American messages as inspiring as we do.
The CD contains these tracks:

1 Why I Love Her 2:58
2 The Hyphen 2:30
3 Mis Raices Estan Aqui (My Roots Are Buried Here) 2:42
4 The People 3:46
5 An American Boy Grows Up 4:31
6 Face the Flag 3:55
7 The Good Things 2:43
8 The Pledge of Allegiance 4:21
9 Why Are You Marching, Son? 3:44
10 Taps 3:05