Boeing in Denmark: The New Alabama?

As if it were not enough for Boeing to decide to go over the heads of a sovereign foreign government to appeal to its citizens to make a decision on a replacement fighter aircraft, now Boeing seems to believe that accusing the state that took that decision of, in effect, distorting the data they used in making that decision is just fine.

It would be good for the Super Hornet marketing team to wake up and to recognize that the Super Hornet is yesterday’s answer; it is not the fighter of the future. This is so true since the Russian leader has threatened nuclear strikes against Denmark, so their selection was not a linear business as usual decision; it was made in a strategic context.

If it was a linear generational cost over performance follow-on selection process then why didn’t Boeing submit a son of Super Hornet into the original Joint Strike Fighter competition? If one looks back at their bid, they clearly proposed a plane very different from the Super Hornet and believed that they needed to do so in order to win.

And when Lt. General Charles R. Davis, then head of the Joint Program Office, met with reporters at the Farnbourgh Air Show in 2008, he made the point very clearly:

“If Boeing has to say something negative about JSF to sell their aircraft, that tells me there is something wrong with their aircraft.” 

He added that the Super Hornet was just a scaled-up version of the 1970s F/A-18 Hornet. “How hard is that?”

Lt. General Davis went on to become the Military Deputy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. And immediately after his Joint Program Office assignment he was the Commander of the Air Armament Center and the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Weapons Air For Material Command, Eglin AFB.

In fact, when Ed Timperlake was on the Professional Staff of the House Committee on Rules he was sent by Chairman Solomon to Pax River to assess the Super Hornet. The plane just taxied in having been flown by a Marine Test Pilot the late Fred Madenwald. “Mad,” was an accomplished fleet fighter pilot extremely knowledgeable and an intellectually courageous aviator who had been a Squadron mate with “Easy” Ed Timperlake in VMFA-321, at Andrews AFB.

“Mad” was also a two tour Test Pilot with a distinguished career and had performed the first flight of the F-18 Super Hornet E/F. Meeting next to the plane he he told “Easy” that the Super Hornet would be a worthy addition to the USN, and that was that.

Remember the decision was made on the basis of the Super Hornet not being a whole new aircraft, but an upgrade of the original Hornet (first flight 1978). So the House Committee on Rules allowed the Congress to approve the acquisition of the continuation of the F-18 type/model/series without ordering a recomplete by the US Navy. Mad briefing Easy was also almost two decades ago.

Now, nothing much has changed since 2008 except the entrance into service of the F-35 and the aging of the Super Hornet.

Chasing the past, and rejecting market realities, is not how the future of 21st century military aviation is being shaped. And given the ability of Boeing to deliver two cutting edge 21st century air combat systems, the Osprey and the P-8, the storied company provides its own cutting edge examples. The P-8 is the latest of software upgradeable aircraft to enter the 21st century fleet. And this is where the future is going and being software upgradeable is a major discriminator between the F-35 and the Super Hornet.

Boeing understands the challenge of building 21st century systems and has done so in both Osprey and P-8, and we have extensively reported on both systems. The challenge of the evolving military aviation enterprise is one where Boeing can play a key role, but not by marketing yesterday’s aircraft as tomorrow’s solution.

And if one looks back at what Boeing claimed in 2008 about their new tanker and the Airbus tanker which the USAF selected, the claims being made today in Denmark would be taken with a grain of salt.

When Boeing was able to leverage the GAO protest to get a second chance and won on the basis of a very thin margin on cost the second time around. However, independent of claims and a delineable schedule made about the Boeing tanker it must be noted that several allied air forces are flying the US rejected 21st century Airbus tankers while the USAF is still waiting for even one new Boeing tanker.

When the USAF selected the Airbus tanker it was deemed the best product and best value and down selected in early 2008, and Airbus projected having several in operation within the first five years of the downselect. Given that this has happened, but not for the USAF but for allied Air Forces, the actual first selection of the projection of the Airbus tanker by USAF decision makers has been proven correct.

Sadly for the US current defense capabilities, the reversal of decision makers in selecting Boeing and their projections has now proven to be wrong. In spite of claims that they were ready to go and could provide a new tanker rapidly to the USAF when selected in 2011, it is now 2016.

And we got this update in a Wall Street Journal article in 2015:

Former Boeing executives and engineers say the tanker’s troubles stem partly from changes to Boeing’s defense business in recent years that diminished valuable know-how. It had delivered refueling aircraft to Japanese and Italian militaries between 2008 and 2012 from a Boeing facility in Wichita, Kan. Those projects ran years late and significantly over-budget. They didn’t do a great job, but they sure learned a lot,” said a retired senior Boeing executive. 

Boeing officials hoped those lessons would help avoid similar pitfalls on the KC-46. But Boeing decided to close the Wichita operations in 2012 amid Pentagon belt-tightening and moved the remaining tanker work to the Seattle area, where it builds commercial jets. 

Some Wichita tanker managers and engineers moved to Seattle, but others left, retired to or went elsewhere in Boeing. Boeing lost some of its “tribal knowledge” that could have helped the KC-46, another former executive said, and it also changed fuel-system suppliers.

With Robert Gates firing the USAF leadership that made the Airbus decision and then and dragging his feet on the replacement tanker, Americans are still waiting. Boeing worked hard to make sure that the USAF did not get the Airbus tanker and in today’s combat the operational use of the new Airbus tanker has become the tanker of choice in current Middle East operations.

To add to the aftermath of the reversal the state of Alabama felt the wrath of Boeing supporters because Mobile, Alabama would have been the site where the new Airbus tankers would have been built.

For example, the Governor of the state of Washington wrote to Defense Secretary Gates claiming that the superior workforce in her state would build a better tanker.

A proposed Air Force aerial refueling tanker from Boeing will be less risky than the one from a competing team of Northrop Grumman and EADS, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday. 

“As the Air Force moves forward with a new request for proposals, I urge you to look closely at the criteria of risk and speed to delivery,” she wrote. “In doing so, I believe we will see that the Boeing proposal will contain much less risk and will also deliver a proven, highly capable tanker to the Air Force quickly and efficiently.” 

Boeing’s tanker “will be built in a factory with proven technology, an expert workforce and a long history of delivering products of the highest quality to its customers in a timely fashion,” Gregoire wrote. “In stark contrast to the existing, state-of-the-art facility that Boeing operates, (the) EADS-Northrop (tanker) would be finished in a yet-to-be-built site.” 

Building a factory, and recruiting and training a workforce invite “considerable and unacceptable levels of risk to the Air Force tanker program, including further delay.” 

This was in spite of the fact that the state of Alabama was already home to much advanced industry and a solid supporter for the US military, including Boeing facilities in Huntsville.

Apparently Boeing thinks that the strong-arm tactics used in the US tanker competition can work in Denmark. Hence Denmark becomes the new Alabama.

First you advertise over the government’s heads, then you dispute their competence, and then you act “puzzled” with their transparent release of information.

Boeing is acting like the Danish decision was some kind of one off, but the reality is that every completion which has been open in which Boeing had an entrant whether the Silent Eagle or the Super Hornet has lost to the F-35 in terms of performance and cost.

The Danes looked at the cost of mission ready aircraft the F-35; not the fly away cost of a basic aircraft the SuperHornet which then had to be prepared for the missions which the Danes wished to perform to face a tactical and strategic direct threat to their citizens.

The F-35 is a fully integrated aircraft; the Super Hornet’s fly-away cost which is counter-poised often in public is not. The F-35 is a fly away integrated combat system versus the Super Hornet as a fly away basic legacy jet. The first flight of F-18 T/M/S was 1978!

The claims are made in an article by the Defense News aviation correspondent, by the way based Inside the Beltway, and not in Denmark.

Here we learn that among other things:

Boeing also took issue with the Danes’ determination that Denmark would need to purchase 11 more Super Hornets than F-35s to complete the mission. The type selection analysis pegged the Super Hornet’s service life at 6,000 hours, while noting that the F-35 can fly to 8,000 hours. Boeing thinks the right figure for the Super Hornet is 9,500 hours, the company confirmed.

That is interesting for the US Navy and Boeing are focused on the much need funding of an expensive service life extension (SLEP) program to get the Super Hornet from 6,000 to 9,000 hours. Boeing just made a case that no further money should be spent on USN SLEP, but that is most definitely not the case for safety of flight.

In a recent article by Sandra Eriwn, it was noted:

To meet the demands of the fleet in the years before the F-35C enters service, the Navy will also need to overhaul existing fighters once they reach 6,000 hours of service so they can fly an additional 3,000 hours, he said. Boeing is prepared to expand its capacity if needed. “The size and scale of the Super Hornet program is one of our biggest challenges.”

The “he” is Dan Gillian, Boeing Vice President and Program Manager for F/A18 programs. Apparently Dan needs to brief the Danish Boeing team.

There is a future and one which Boeing can make major contributions in the military aerospace business.

Boeing knows how to make 21st century aircraft, with the Osprey and the P-8 as good examples. The efforts to put the Super Hornet into that class are not credible nor are they worthy of Boeing.

There is a future and one which Boeing can make major contributions in the military aerospace business. There is a significant business for upgrading legacy aircraft to provide for the payloads useful to compliment fifth generation aircraft, but they are not fifth generation aircraft. The Super Hornet maybe a SUPER Hornet, but it is not an F-35.

And Gary Schaub, Jr. of the Centre for Military Studies in Copenhagen provides a good sense of the Danish reality.

Both Boeing and Eurofighter have realized that the lifecycle costs for the new Danish combat aircraft fleet was key to the decision made by the Danish government to recommend the F-35 to its parliament. 

And given the detailed analysis that the Danish MOD released, it is clear that life cycle costs were driven by the number of expected flight hours of each airframe. 

Those flight hours were reflected in both the number of aircraft that the Danes deemed necessary fulfill national missions for the next 30 years and the overall cost of maintenance and sustainment. 

Boeing and Eurofighter have therefore focused their public criticisms of the Danish process on lifetime flight hours. 

The Danish calculations of life cycle costs were based upon the information that Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Eurofighter supplied in the request for binding information (RBI) in the summer of 2014. 

As the Eurofighter team explained in a public session to the Danish parliament last Friday, they indicated that the Eurofighter Typhoon would have a lifetime of 6000 flight hours guaranteed. They admitted that they were very conservative in this estimate. 

They then argued that based upon the mission profiles that were supplied in the Danish request for binding information that their own calculations were that the Typhoon would have a useful service life of 8300 flight hours. 

It would appear as though the Boeing team has made a similar calculation—that they can argue that the 6000 flight hours that they submitted their response to the RBI is also a conservative estimate and that the “actual” flight hours that the Royal Danish Air Force would get out of the F/A-18 Super Hornet is 9500. 

At this point in the process the Danish government has made its recommendation. The political parties in the parliament will consider this recommendation carefully. But two factors should be borne in mind. 

The first is that in a parliamentary system the government has the support of the majority of the parties in the parliament. This is the case with regard to the political parties that, as a matter of principle, have supported the defense agreement within which the new combat aircraft purchase will take place. 

The second is that the parliament lacks an independent staff of experts to pick apart the MOD’s recommendation. 

This is why the MOD’s process included external validation by RAND Europe and Deloitte consulting—whose joint report is also publicly available. Furthermore, the parliament will depend on outside experts such as those who will testify next Wednesday along with the Minister of Defense and the director of New Fighter Program Office. 

Much of that testimony will focus not on the calculations behind the MOD’s recommendations per se but rather on the integrity of the process, which stands in stark comparison to those used by other countries as an example of how large acquisitions ought to be done. 

Barring illegality or clear incompetence on the part of the New Fighter Program Office, the Ministry of Defense, RAND Europe, and Deloitte, it is difficult to see how Boeing in particular can be successful in its bid to convince the Danish parliament to forego the government’s recommendations.







Canada and the F-35: Leveraging the Danish Evaluation Efforts

Recently, Denmark selected the F-35 as their next combat aircraft in an open competition with Eurofighter and Super Hornet.

Not only did they select the F-35, they have released public information with regard to that selection process and how they reached their decision.

In the Question and Answer session held last week after Eurofighter testified in front the defence committee of the Danish parliament, the Eurofighter representative was asked directly:

“Did you consider the government’s evaluation of the mission or military aspects of the competition biased in any way towards F-35?”

The answer was a clear no.

This provides an opportunity for Canada to leverage the Danish work, and to have the Danish government directly brief the Canadian government.

They can do this about their overall assessment effort, the tools used for evaluation as well as to answer a key question: How did an open competition benefit Denmark?

The Danes are an Arctic power like Canada and are looking directly at the 2:00 defense challenge facing North America.

Not only did Denmark take a step forward in their own defense but they have provided a key building block for the defense of the North Sea and North American partners of Denmark.

The Danish MoD and the Danish Air Force are a serious professional force and their discussion and evaluations have meaning beyond their own decision.


In the words of the report entitled “Type Selection of Denmark’s New Fighter Aircraft,” the focus of the process of evaluation was as follows:

In order to provide the best possible basis for a political decision on the fighter aircraft type selection, the three candidates have been evaluated within four specific areas:

Strategic aspects: the ability of the candidates to support or fulfil overarching Danish defence and security policy objectives, including the potential for cooperation with other countries.

Military aspects: the ability of the candidates to successfully conduct fighter missions (mission effectiveness), the candidates’ survivability, opportunities for keeping the aircraft operational and technically relevant within its expected lifespan (future development) as well as the risks associated with each candidate that cannot be economically quantified (candidate risk).

Economic aspects: the estimated life cycle costs of the candidates, including costs associated with procurement, ongoing operations and sustainment as well as quantifiable risks.

Industrial aspects: the ability of the candidates to support significant Danish security interests through industrial cooperation with the Danish defence industry.

The final evaluation results for the three aircraft evaluated, namely F-35, Eurofighter and Super Hornet were as follows:


According to Gary Schaub, Jr., who along with Air Vice Marshal (Retired) John Blackburn of the Williams Foundation, co-hosted a April 2015 airpower seminar on behalf of the Centre for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen:

The Ministry of Defence’s evaluation of the 3 candidate aircraft will send shockwaves through the military aviation market.

After careful consideration in an externally validated process, it concluded that the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter dominated the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon in all four categories that were considered: military performance, acquisition and life-cycle costs, industrial benefits, and strategic considerations—primarily the “ability … to support or fulfill Danish defence and security policy objectives, including potential cooperation with other countries.”  

This is shocking, especially regarding costs.

It has been long assumed that the F-35 was more expensive that its competitors, but the Danes’ evaluation concluded that its 8,000 flight hour lifespan gave it a significant advantage over the 6,000 hours indicated by Boeing for the F/A-18 and Eurofighter for the Typhoon.  

So did the relative size of the F-35 fleet, the efficiencies promised in its autonomic logistics information system (ALIS), and the Dane’s conclusion that a fleet of 28 F-35s could perform national tasks to the same degree as 34 Typhoons or 38 F/A-18s.

Hans Tino Hansen of the Copenhagen-based Risk Intelligence firm added:

What has been somewhat forgotten in the debate is that the F-35 project in many ways resembles the F-16 project as we are in it with most of the same countries that we shared development, spares, weaponry and mid-life update programs with for 40 years now.

In addition, the UK, which Denmark has had very close ties with in Iraq and Afghanistan for almost 15 years, is fully in the project and the RAF — which Denmark has not shared combat aircraft types with since the Hawker Hunter — will be an important partner.

One could add that Canada as well can link up with the UK, Norway, Denmark and the Dutch within a regional oriented F-35 coalition in shaping more effective defense capabilities and approaches to the extended perimeter for Canadian defense as well.

And a reworking of NORAD to shape integrated maritime and air defense of North America, which has been proposed by Admiral Gortney, the recently retired head of NORAD/NORTHCOM, will surely benefit from the acquisition of plane centrally placed for air and maritime integration as well.

As Ed Timperlake, who presented at the Danish Airpower Symposium in April 2015, adds a final comment:

The Danes in addition to focusing on the strategic survival of their citizens in the  current “Tron” War with Russia, which could go nuc hot with missiles, made a key contribution to North American defense as well.

The consequences for America and Canada in the selection of F-35 is the Danes have added a significant contribution to the “2 O’Clock” KIll Web to help defend North America as well.

It is not difficult to find Greenland, a Danish defense responsibility, in the 2:00 area.

This is a notional rendering of the 10 and 2 O’Clock challenge. It is credited to Second Line of Defense and not in any way an official rendering by any agency of the US government. It is meant for illustration purposes only.

This is a notional rendering of the 10 and 2 O’Clock challenge. It is credited to Second Line of Defense and not in any way an official rendering by any agency of the US government. It is meant for illustration purposes only.




Leveraging the RAF Marham and RAF Lakenheath Strategic Opportunity

With the RAF and the USAF setting up four squadrons of F-35s between them at two nearby RAF bases, there is a clear opportunity to shape a common sustainment solution.

And the impact of so doing could be significant on the North Sea neighbors, namely, the Danes the Norwegians and the Dutch.

According to an article on the UK Ministry of Defence website, the Ministry of Defence has announced contracts worth 167 million pounds to upgrade and build new facilities at RAF Marham, the future home of the UK F-35B Lightning II squadrons.

The contracts, which will create 300 new jobs, will allow for the addition of maintenance, training and logistics facilities to the station in East Anglia, all of which will be dedicated to the next-generation fighter aircraft. 

The announcement was made in the same week as the UK met a new milestones on the F-35 programme with the completion of the 10th aft – or rear – section being built for the UK’s fleet. 

Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon said: 

The F-35 is the most advanced combat aircraft in the world. Whether operating from land or our two new aircraft carriers, they will ensure we have a formidable fighting force. 

They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will this week rise for the first time in six years, and keep rising until the end of the decade. 

The works at RAF Marham have been made possible through three contracts, placed initially by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and totalling £25 million, for demolition and cabling works at the Norfolk site, readying RAF Marham for new construction works. 

A £142 million contract between Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and Lockheed Martin UK will then allow the construction of three new buildings which together will keep the new aircraft ready for service, provide training facilities for pilots and ground crew, and enable centralised management of the UK’s whole F-35B fleet. 

Approximately 300 people will be employed on the construction works, which will be managed by sub-contractors BAE Systems. The buildings will become a place of work for around 250 military and civilian staff when they open in 2018.

DE&S Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas said: 

These facilities are critical to the F-35B Lightning II programme, which is in turn vital to the future capability of the UK’s Armed Forces. The cutting edge technology of these aircraft, supported by world-class facilities at RAF Marham, will ensure we have a battle-winning fleet of jets deployable anywhere in the world. 

The aft – or rear – sections of every single F-35 are being built by BAE Systems in Samlesbury, Lancashire. Demonstrating further progress on the UK programme, the company has now completed the first 10 aft sections designated to form the airframes of UK aircraft. 

More widely, around 500 companies across the UK are involved in the F-35 Lightning II programme. More than 3,000 F-35s are planned for global delivery over the next two decades. 

A story by Richard Tomkins provided further detail to this announcement.

“The construction work at RAF Marham signals the start of an exciting time for the BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin team as the UK prepares for the arrival of the first F-35 Lightning II jets,” said Cliff Robson, senior vice president of F-35 Lightning II at BAE Systems Military Air & Information business. “The contract also underlines BAE Systems’ continued involvement with the F-35 Lightning II program and our company’s credentials in providing infrastructure for the UK’s military aircraft operations. 

“We have a proven pedigree in delivering maintenance and support to the Royal Air Force fast jet fleets at bases throughout the UK including RAF Marham, where we have been supporting the operation of the Tornado GR4 fleet for the last decade.” 

Not far away, the USAF will base its F-35 squadrons in the UK.

It has been some time since the USAF flew the same aircraft as the RAF, although the RAF and the Marines have flown Harriers for a considerable period of time.

According to a January 8, 2015 press release by the USAF:

The F-35s will be delivered to two fighter squadrons in multiple phases beginning in 2020. Each of the squadrons will have 24 Joint Strike Fighters assigned; totaling 48 aircraft assigned to RAF Lakenheath once full mission capability is achieved. 

“Lakenheath is the perfect base for the perfect weapon system in the perfect country,” said Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander. “From the beginning, the United States and the United Kingdom have been side-by-side on F-35 program development. This is about continuing to work together with our allies and partners to ensure a secure future for Europe.” 

The U.S. is one of nine Joint Strike Fighter partner nations who have agreed to adopt the new platform. This makes European basing crucial to maintaining and improving combat readiness for Air Forces in Europe according to Gorenc. 

In addition to basing F-35s at RAF Lakenheath, there are also plans to construct shared maintenance facilities for the aircraft in Italy and Turkey. The F-35 partnership is expected to bring the added benefits of increased allied interoperability and cost sharing. 

“When pilots from different nations fly the same platform they talk the same language,” Gorenc said. “Interoperability with F-35 partner nations is assured for decades.” 

As new threats evolve around the world, NATO continuously seeks new technologies that can deter and defeat those threats. 

“Air superiority, freedom from attack and freedom to attack, has always been the primary mission of the U.S. Air Force,” said Gorenc. “With air superiority everything is possible, without it nothing is possible.”

The question remains with regard to how the RAF and the USAF will leverage the close proximity of their aircraft to shape the most efficient and effective logistics support system to support and sustain the F-35 air combat force?

With the substantial similarity between the two aircraft, significant joint support opportunities clearly exist.

The challenge will be to make them happen.

But the Commander of the USAF in Europe is looking forward to the opportunity.

I think that the F-35 is going to do for NATO what the F-16 did, in the sense that many of the partners and many of the allies were flying it, and so we’re going to share common tactics, techniques, procedures (TTPs), concepts of operations, we’re going to leverage the logistics systems, the training system.  

I think that’s going go a long way to provide the interoperability that we strive for in the NATO concept.

Oh by the way, the USAF did not provide a lot of logistics support for the Harrier precisely because they did not fly the plane.

But the JOINT strike fighter will allow them the opportunity to support the Navy as well as the Marine Corps as can be seen with the F-35C being maintained at Edwards AFB.

The Perspective of the UK Lightening Force Commander

In a recent interview with Air Commodore Smyth, the head of the UK Ligtening Force provided his perspective on the importance of this joint opportunity.

“The real opportunity for the USAF and the RAF working together with their F-35s will lie in joint training and some semblance of joint sustainment.

The USAF has operated F-15s at RAF Lakenheath and have used a classic USAF model of flying in parts to sustain their F-15s with C-5s, C-17s and tankers.

It would make sense to shift to a new model whereby our F-35s shared sustainment and parts, transparently between our two bases, which after all are not very far apart.” …

A key expectation of the RAF and UK government’s part is that the sustainment approach for the F-35 will build upon their successful Performance Based Logistics model used for both the Tornado and Typhoon.

One evidence of that expectation is that the UK is building a facility for the services and industry to work together, hand in hand, in maintaining and modernizing the aircraft.

Air Commodore Smyth spoke at some length and passion about his experience as the Tornado Force Commander, where a 40+-year-old aircraft was able to be maintained throughout the very high tempo ops facing an aging force.

He argued that simply put: “We could not have had the operational performance of the aircraft without our exceptional contractual and joined-up working relationships with BAE Systems and Rolls Royce.”

The contracts deliver a product – an aircraft able to go to combat, and he would like to see the focus shift from payments to industry based on simple aircraft availability, to ones based on dispatch rate and mission achievement for combat aircraft.

Air Commodore Smyth also discussed the ROCET contract with Rolls Royce as an example of how to do sustainment leveraging using the right kind of industrial-service partnership.

“In the ROCET contract, a few years ago we contracted Rolls Royce to do our FOD management for us.

We were probably trashing upwards of 2 or 3 engines a year through a FOD.

We were doing everything we could from an air force point of view to be good managers of foreign object damage.

We incentivized Rolls Royce to take that on, and as the subject matter experts, they were, and are, fantastic at it.

In fact last year, we had zero engines rejected due to FOD, and that’s down to them applying proper analysis and procedures and recommendations with regards to how to drive down a FOD-engine repair rate.

All of a sudden it’s a win-win for everybody.

As a Force Commander, I get better operational capability out of my airplanes.

I also have engineers that aren’t changing engines, and are able to concentrate on other work.

Rolls Royce makes more money due to the contract incentivization, and I get much better operational performance. Why wouldn’t this be a good thing?

More importantly, we do this effort together, as a Whole Force, so regardless of being Industry or Serviceman, we are all pulling together to deliver operational excellence.”

He clearly wishes to see the F-35 program build on this historical experience and not follow the USAF historic approach to sustainment with their F-15s at Lakenheath.

“With that approach. they are well over 10 years behind us with regard to our sustainment approach and experience.

I would hope that we could leverage this experience, and apply it to the sustainment of our inbound Lightning Force.”

He discussed the shift from a global solution to one, which could be shaped around regional hubs, and thought that the emergence of a viable regional hub support approach would make the most sense.

There are clear barriers to getting there, but for Air Commodore Smyth and others in the RAF, a forward leaning PBL was a necessary ingredient to ensuring the sortie generation rates which the aircraft is capable of doing.

How did he see the strategic opportunity of working with the USAF, as the USAF brings its two squadrons of F-35As to the UK?

“It is early days, but we are discussing ways to shape synergy.

We already have an excellent working relationship with our USAFE colleagues, and both sides are being very open to exploring ideas.

But the real opportunity will lie in joint training and some semblance of joint sustainment.

How do we do training in a more joined up way, both synthetically which is of immediate interest to me, and live with our F-35s because there’s got to be synergy in our approaches in British and European air space.

This could then no doubt grow beyond a UK-USAFE relationship, as our close European neighbors establish their F-35s in their countries.

The next question then is sustainment.

What is the appetite from the USAF to want to leverage off what will already be found at RAF Marham as we shape our infrastructure?

We fully understand that the JPO is still working hard to bottom out what the eventual Global Sustainment Solution will look like.

But at Marham we have left an ability to do modular builds and to grow it bigger if there is an appetite from USAF, or from someone in Europe, to want to bring their airplanes in as well.”

Air-Power Led Combat Innovation: Reshaping Operational Capabilities and Approaches

We have argued throughout the discussion of fifth generation aircraft that the transition was about the re-norming of airpower. It was about reshaping airpower as airpower led a broader transformation of combat forces to prevail in 21t century environments and to meet 21st century challenges.

In dealing with a number air forces, it is clear that the process of change is not only underway but accelerating. And in discussions with the practioners of transformation, it seems clear that a number of key elements of change are underway.

First, the F-35 is more a first generation transformation asset than a phase moving towards 6th, 7th or whatever generation

It is a first generation information dominance aircraft built around distributed C2 operating in a contested environment.

Second, the shift towards developing, buying and working with software upgradeable aircraft means that a key way ahead for airpower is the co-evolution of platforms with one another and with other combat systems on land and at sea.

It will be about the co-evolution of capabilities to shape more effective combat forces.

Third, as a new approach gets put in place, it will affect the way ahead with regard to future procurement of new combat platforms for air, sea or ground operations. As a multi-domain approach evolves for 21st century combat forces co-evolution of platforms becomes central.

In making future platform selections, a key decision point is how they contribute to the ultimate desired effect, and how they contribute to decision-making superiority and enhanced information security and dominance.

In other words, the shift from a platform centric world is not about platforms not mattering; they do; but what is crucial is now evaluating how a new platform contributes in a multi-mission, or multi-tasking and specialized effect for the evolving force.

Recent travels have highlighted the important work, which a number of the forces shaping a transformation approach are conducting.

It is not about some abstract future; it is about the transformation of operational approaches by those forces engaged in defending the interests of the democracies.

Air-Led Transformation: The Australian Case

In Australia, the Royal Australian Air Force is working with other key elements of the Australian Defence Force to shape force transformation. It is an air-led effort, but it is a multi-domain one.

As the Chief of Staff put it with regard to the approach:

“It is like a jig saw puzzle.

You have these really nice pieces to the puzzle sitting in the container, but until you begin to look at the picture your trying to create through the overall puzzle, you do not know which bit goes where.”

With regard to F-35 as an example, Davies argued the following:

“I think Joint Strike Fighter on its own, a fifth generation air combat aircraft, could be regarded as just an air combat aircraft.

If you want to shoot the bad guy down, if you want to defend the battle space for a land maneuver or for a maritime strike, that’s fine.

But what we’re beginning to appreciate now is that it’s not just an air combat asset it is also an ISR node.

If you were to then put two more pieces of your puzzle down and go, “Well that’s starting to form a bit of a picture here,” in the center of your puzzle. ”

What else could I do if it was truly an ISR node?

How do I manage that asset differently than if it was just going to shoot down another fighter?”

Although the puzzle analogy suggested an overall approach what he really was focusing on the interaction between the evolving bigger picture, and relooking at what each piece of the puzzle might be able to do in fitting into a new puzzle big picture so to speak.

“How would you operate the air warfare destroyer differently as you add a Wedgetail, a P-8, a Triton or an F-35 to its operational environment?

And conversely, how could the changes in how the destroyer would operate as you evolve systems on it, affect how you operate or modernize the other pieces of the evolving puzzle?”

The Plan Jericho approach built around a structural change in the RAAF is being accompanied by similar changes in the Army and Navy as well.

Notably, the RAAF has led an effort for a PUBLIC discussion of the transformation approach and has thereby provided insight for interested publics in terms of both the challenges and the strategic direction for the ADF.

Thus, the Australian Defence Minister could not only lead but highlight the approach in PUBLIC as well.

To maximise the capabilities of our current and future Air Force our systems must be networked and integrated to a degree not previously achieved. Air, land and maritime forces need to exploit the high level of connectivity made possible by use of systems uniting them through the space and cyber domains. Much work has already begun in this regard under Plan Jericho, to which the Chief of Air Force referred, to ensure we have a fully networked joint future force across air, space, electromagnetic and cyber.

With its modernised inventory, Air Force will introduce and develop capabilities that will enhance its ability to work jointly with its sister Forces, in many cases before the systems they will network with enter service with Army and Navy. The work being undertaken by Air Force now in exploring the “art of the possible” and reducing risk through experimentation and trials means that the benefits of a joint force will be more rapidly realised once the networked systems committed to in the White Paper enter Army and Navy service.

The European Air Group and Air Power Transformation

The European Air Group based at High Wycombe in the United Kingdom has focused upon ways to more effectively integrate a transforming Air Force. This means, on the one hand, how to get better value out of legacy assets, and on the other hand, how best to co-evolve legacy with fifth generation assets.

As Brigadier General de Ponti of the European Air Group put it recently:

“The Eurofighter-Typhoon project is an important effort for our air forces.

It is about the co-evolution of Typhoon with the shaping of a 4th-5th generation integrated force.

It is two prongs of shaping more effective European airpower.

It is a building blocks approach to shaping evolving capabilities.”

The EAG has pioneered as well the effort among the 7 European Air Forces, which are part of the EAG ways to work legacy with fifth generation as the F-35 enters European Air Forces.

Recently, the European Air Group held a working group which continued their work on 4th and 5thgeneration integration, which is viewed, as crucial with 5th generation aircraft here now.

The 2016 two-day 4th 5th Generation Integration Information Forum was held at the home of the EAG, RAF High Wycombe, at the end of April 2016.

With national 5th Generation aircraft programs maturing and the need to integrate 4th and 5th generation aircraft into future coalitions acknowledged the forum is providing a vital conduit to keep information flowing between both EAG nations and external partners and increase the awareness of nations about the challenges to come.

At the first day of the working session in April, in addition to a discussion of how to think through the co-evolution opportunity and challenge, a number of developments were discussed as well.

First, the emergence of robust machine-to-machine translation technologies had already put into the hands of the warfighter significant capabilities to forge greater capabilities to deploy and operate integrated force packages.

The man-machine revolution is a key part of the way ahead for air-enabled combat power.

Second, fifth generation weapons are emerging which can operate off of both legacy and fifth generation platforms, with different effects and uses, but with the ability to provide a common stockpile of weapons to enhance the sustainable firepower of an integrated fleet.

These weapons are software driven and able to be enhanced further as lessons area learned or the threat evolves alongside their host platforms. Data links allow for cross targeting by different platforms leveraging weapons on other platforms, and capable of much more capable autonomous operations once launched.

Third, lessons learned at recent exercises, including the Trilateral Exercise at Langley last December were discussed as well.

NATO Focuses on The Next Steps in Coalition Airpower

One of the take-away lessons from Langley was how targeting and communications are changing under the influence of fifth generation aircraft.

This was a pull exercise in which a fifth generated enabled force was being shaped, in which the core capabilities of the Typhoon and Rafale were being leveraged to shape a more capable air combat force.

The F-22 was ending publically its period of looking like an orphan; and although the F-22 has flown with Typhoon in the past, this was the first time flying with the Rafale.
As Hawk Carlisle put it: “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and we are working in this exercise in shaping a more effective force.”

The changing threat environment was highlighted by the senior Air Force officers present at the media day event. All of the speakers — USAF Chief Mark Welsh, ACC Commander Hawk Carlisle, USAFE Chief General Frank Gorenc, RAF Chief Sir Andrew Pulford, and General Antoine Crux, Inspector General of the French Armed Forces representing the Chief of Staff of the FrAF – commented on the evolving threat environment, which was perhaps the only topic on which all five provided comments.

The threat environment was largely discussed in terms of contested air space.
The environment is seen as one in which U.S. and allied forces would have an increasingly difficult time to operate to support broader military operations.

The threat was characterized variously as anti-access, area denial, or multi-spectrum threats, or simply adversaries enhancing their capabilities. General Hawk Carlisle put it in terms of a multi-spectrum environment shaping a new threat envelope.

“In this exercise in particular we are focused on enemy aircraft and their missiles, surface to air missiles, and electronic warfare as evolving adversarial threats.”

Carlisle then went on to note that during the exercise “we are focusing on link architecture and communications to pass information, the contributions the different avionics and sensor suites on the three aircraft can contribute to the fight, the ability to switch among missions, notably air-to-air and air-to-ground and how best to support the fight, for it is important to support the planes at the point of attack, not just show up.”

A visit to the NATO Air Power Competence Center highlighted work on how airpower was changing with the operations of fifth generation aircraft and the co-evolution of legacy systems with the augmentation of the role of fifth generation aircraft with the F-35 operating with the Marines and shortly by the USAF.

Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought among those looking at future generation-enabled air operations.

One school of thought looks at the evolution of networks within which airpower creates its effects and the coming of fifth generation is largely understood in terms of both its impact upon and role within the evolution of networks. This can be seen largely as an update on understanding of network centric warfare in the second decade of the 21st century.

The second school of thought focuses on the evolution of C2 within which fifth generation aircraft provide an impetus to an evolving trend towards decentralized C2.

The difference can be a subtle one but it is a significant one.

The first prioritizes the networks, their operations, and their security and assumes that the hub and spoke system largely continues within which hierarchical decision-making remains a norm.

The second focuses on a honeycomb approach within which force packages are shaped to work with one another but C2 evolves within the battlespace.

Tactical decisions are made at the key point of attack and defense; strategic decision making is really about the decision to deploy a force package, shaping ways for confluence of force to operate and evaluating the impacts of those force packages and calibrating next steps for the deployment of continuous evolving force engagement model.

Although the project is entitled air warfare in a networked environment, the study falls squarely in the second school of thought.

The co-evolution of platforms to shape C2 in self-adjusting networked operational environments is a key element of the approach.

This second focus is at the heart of the JAPCC study.
How will enhanced communication networks working with the co-evolution of new and legacy platforms reshape operations and mission effectiveness?

The study is based on a number of key propositions, which are guiding the research and analysis for the evolution of NATO C2.

“An advanced C2 network through unrestricted communication will permit new forms of information transfer among different platforms that display information from different sensors and employ different weapons

This will happen through:

• Self-synchronization
• In pre-authorised sub-tasks
• Requiring a multi-functional supported-supporting toolbox

The different features or characteristics of these platforms may be combined in real-time to create more effective mission-tailored clusters.”

And this will likely result in an evolution in NATO Air C2 doctrine.

The Director of JAPCC is General Frank Gorenc, USAF. In previous interviews he addressed interoperability through machine-to-machine interaction as part of his future Air Power vision.

Recently, he has clearly identified the significant impact of the coming of the F-35 on NATO airpower.

In an interview with Defense News published on March 16, 2016, General Gorenc identified how he sees the impact of the coming of the F-35:

“The beauty of the F-35 is for the first time ever we have an airplane that literally can do four out of five core competencies. It can do air and space superiority, it can do strike, it can do intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and it can do command and control.”

With the coming of the F-35 and the evolution of the networks within which coalition airpower operate and are changing, it makes sense to think through a broader approach to C2, notably one which can leverage the evolving man-machine relationship.

The longer-term objective is to have a more effective coalition force which can provide much more effective C2 in a fluid battlespace with maximum effect.

With the evolution of two way data-linked weapons, and of remotely piloted vehicles and the coming of the F-35, the need to both understand and shape a more effective approach to self-synchronization of platforms through a collaborative use of the joint battlespace is crucial.

And understanding how this can be done in accord with the evolution of Alliance or Coalition rules, caveats and missions is required as well.

The JAPCC is taking a solid step forward in looking at the future of airpower and how that future is reshaping concepts of operations.

From Kill Chain to Kill Webs: Expanding the Integrated Fires Solution Approach

The USN is a final example of working operational transformation under the impact of fifth generation capabilities, but seeing them as accelerating efforts already underway.

Some time ago, the Navy put in place its NIFC-CA or Naval Integrated Fire Control—Counter Air battle network solution for enhanced kill chain capabilities. Now the current head of Naval Air Warfare and the designate to head the Navy’s N-9 Warfare Directorate, Rear Admiral Manazir is leading and effort to think more broadly and to focus on shaping interactive kill webs in an extended battlespace where the blue forces operate as key kill web cells within a honeycombed force.

When we interviewed him late last year, Rear Admiral Manazir discussed the expanded reach and punch of the sea services in the expanded battlepace.

Kill web

Overall the sea services are expanding their reach, remote sensing and precision strike capabilities. They do so by being networked into an operational honeycomb of interconnected forces with reach, range and lethality against air, sea, space, and land-based targets.

“It is about reach, not range, for the honeycomb-enabled expeditionary strike group,” Manazir said. “The F-35 is a key enabler of this shift, but it is part of an overall effort to operate in the expanded battlespace.”

As the sea services evolve, the decade ahead is not a repeat of the past 15 years. It is not about prolonged ground combat and counterinsurgency. The technology and training exist to insert force to achieve discrete and defined objectives, to maneuver in the extended battlespace, and to work with allies and joint forces to prevail across the full range of military conflict in any part of the globe.

Then during a presentation to the Mitchell Airpower Institute earlier this year, Rear Admiral Manazir introduced the kill web concept within his thinking about the integration of force packages within the integrated battlespace.

His focus on fifth generation was clearly along the lines of the other key players thinking through the force structure evolution NOW and into the future, namely how does fifth generation interact with other key elements to shape a more effective deployed force with distributed but interconnected warfighting capabilities?


The F-35 has arrived at a key juncture in the evolution of 21st century warfighting capabilities.

There is a fundamental OPERATIONAL rethink which is not simply about introducing the F-35 to the force, but it is about the co-evolution of platforms within the force, their weaponization and their connected operations.

And there is a diversity of activity by key players in the transformation process ranging from Australia to the US to Europe to the Middle East back to Europe to the United States and back to Asia.

It is a combat learning dynamic of which the F-35 global enterprise is a key enabler, but in which the F-35 itself will be transformed by the co-evolution of the other key combat assets, the training of the force, and by lessons learned from combat experience folded into the combat learning cycle.

The future is now.

Vietnam Veterans Work Towards the Future in Vietnam: Building Schools in Vietnam

With President Obama visiting Vietnam, it is now time for a celebration of a very successful bipartisan pro-bono effort to help build elementary schools in Vietnam.

The late Jack Wheeler upon hearing of Lew Puller Jr ‘s tragic suicide challenged us all to build enough schools to honor all the names on The Vietnam Veteran Memorial.

Now with the 50th School built that quest has been doubled.


And the year end letter for 2015 captures the sense of progress.

Dear Friends of the Vietnam Children’s Fund,

The close of the year always seems to be a time of reflection for me. The first thing I think of is the gratitude we feel for the support we have from those who care about our work – building clean modern schools for children who live in some of the most deprived regions of Vietnam.

We have finished the renovation of Lew’s school, thanks to the generosity of Mr. H.F. Lenfest of Pennsylvania.

Last spring President Truong Tan Sang conferred the Friendship Medal on Sam in recognition of the important contributions he has made for the past two decades in his work with VCF. This Medal is the highest honor accorded by the Government of Vietnam to non-citizens.

In June an elaborate new playground was installed at the award winning school in Thai Binh, a generous gift from Mr. Binh Tran of Washington, DC.

We are working now on the new school in Quang Nam, sponsored by FedEX which will be number 50! And a school in Ha Giang, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Pat Lomma, our 51st!

We remain deeply grateful to all those who have supported our work over the years. Your gifts, large and small, have made it possible to change the lives of more than 100,000 children. Many have gone on to secondary education and beyond. There are no words to express our appreciation. If you are moved to give VCF a gift our mailing address remains PO Box 150, Unionville, VA.

Wishing you and yours the very Best of the Holiday season and beyond.

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The above letter written by the two distinguished co-chairs of the Vietnam Children’s Fund , Terry Anderson and Kieu Chinh and perfectly captures the success of a project that began two decades ago.

Since the letter the 50th School was dedicated thanks to the generosity of FedEx a company created by a decorated Vietnam veteran Fred Smith.

This is a picture of the famously talented actress Kieu Chinh and the VFC project manager Sam Russell who was awarded the Vietnam Friendship Medal, the highest award bestowed on non-citizens.

L-R Sam Russell, Lan Vien, Board members Kieu Chinh and Binh Nguyen.

L-R Sam Russell, Lan Vien, Board members Kieu Chinh and Binh Nguyen.

With the 50th school having been built, it is time to reflect on all who made this worthy effort possible.

Two decades ago group of friends got together at the Freedom Forum in the old Arlington USA Today headquarters to launch an effort to build a school in Vietnam in honor of the late Lew Puller.

Today his legacy is very much alive with the children of Vietnam.

The Vietnam Children’s Fund was the dream of Lewis B. Puller, Jr. who lost both legs and most of both hands to a land mine during the Vietnam War.

Lew was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star while serving as a Marine Lieutenant.

His personal experience, expressed in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Fortunate Son, led him to believe that in war no one goes unscathed, and that children, the most vulnerable of all, suffer the greatest hardships.

In the year before his death, Lew Puller returned to Vietnam seeking ideas for the living memorial he and several friends had decided to build to honor the Vietnamese men, women, and children who died in that country’s long wars.

He decided that the most appropriate monument to the past and greatest hope for the future would be schools for Vietnam’s children.

Lew died just before the ground-breaking of the first school, built in Quang Tri Province on the old demilitarized zone and dedicated in his name on the 20th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

Since Lew’s death, his friends have remained determined to realize his dream.

Ed Tumperlake, Lan Vien Jack Wheeler, Sam Russell, Kim Anh, Marcia Landau, Terry Anderson, Kieu Chin, and Tony Accamando Board members not seen in the photo are Joy Carroll and the Honorable Pat Derian.

Ed Tumperlake, Lan Vien Jack Wheeler, Sam Russell, Kim Anh, Marcia Landau, Terry Anderson, Kieu Chin, and Tony Accamando Board members not seen in the photo are Joy Carroll and the Honorable Pat Derian.

During the journey to the 5th School many were very helpful especially the late Al Neuharth, and the late David Broder of The Washington Post.

Mr. Neuharth sponsored the original meeting space and David Broder’s column, very early in the effort, about honoring Lew was so very important.

“The project is an inspiring example of how people of goodwill can turn violence and tragedy into a cause for hope.”-David Broder, The Washington Post.,4535905&hl=en

As the Vietnam War enters the history of America four people who made a difference are no longer with us:


Jack Wheeler was brutally murdered in 2011 and the crime remains unsolved.

Jack and Kathy Wheeler during a visit to the Normandy battlefields. Credit Photo: Robbin Laird

Jack and Kathy Wheeler during a visit to the Normandy battlefields. Credit Photo: Robbin Laird

Jim Kimsey who donated the seed money to build the first school.


Board Member Tom Kennedy who left us all to soon.

Tom was passionate about and dedicated to the Vietnamese children.

Over the years he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for VCF.

His family and friends personally funded the construction of two schools: one in Phu Da and one in Que Son, the home village of his adopted son Khoa.

Thanks for everything, Tom.

We miss you.


The sounds of a distant battlefield are echoing into history but the sounds of Vietnamese children attending VCF schools will be with many generations yet to come.

Providing an Answer to Admiral Gortney: How Putin is Thinking About Nuclear Weapons

We have been building on Paul Bracken’s work on the second nuclear age to focus on the impact of the rethink regarding nuclear weapons going on globally.

SLD: And to the point of different perspectives, that really goes to the heart of the matter.  We are not going to bargain with ourselves.  And in the world we are in and it will get worse from this point of view, there is no clear ladder of escalation.  The rules are not clear, and learning will be by crisis not strategic design. 

Bracken: The absence of any clear escalation ladder is at the heart of the challenge.

If you knew how many weeks I wasted on trying to construct the follow-on escalation ladders for the 21st Century but could not convince myself that they were worthwhile.

In the first nuclear age it was learning by crisis, and we got fortunate because the crises that started were not particularly severe. If the Cuban Missile Crisis had come in the late ’40s, God only knows what would’ve happen. 

Nonetheless, I think we need to prepare for a crisis exploitation which crystallizes the issues we’re talking about, much as 9/11 did. Many people prior to 9/11 were talking about, terrorism, counterterrorism, but nobody paid any attention to them.

The early Bush administration in 2000 was dismissive because they had other fish to fry and then 9/11 happens and the existence of prior thinking on counterterrorism was rapidly exploited. 

The kind of crisis in which learning might occur could revolve around something like the Pacific islands in dispute in the South China Sea. 

If there’s a major Chinese move against one of these islands, the Japanese and US forces will be forced to respond. 

But what if the Chinese start moving some nuclear weapons around?  What do we do then? 

That’s really a distinct possibility. But I cannot find anybody in the U.S. government who really thinks about the realism of such a situation like that. 

Well we did find someone thinking about that, and he is the current head of NORTHCOM and NORAD.

Admiral Gortney provided a thoughtful look at how the second nuclear age is affecting the threat calculus against North America.

Question: The Russians are not the Soviets, but they are generating new capabilities, which clearly provide a need to rethink homeland defense. 

How would you characterize the Russian dynamic? 

Answer: With the emergence of the new Russia, they are developing a qualitatively better military than the quantitative military that they had in the Soviet Union.

They have a doctrine to support that wholly government doctrine. And you’re seeing that doctrine in military capability being employed in the Ukraine and in Syria. 

For example, the Russians are evolving their long-range aviation and at sea capabilities. They are fielding and employing precision-guided cruise missiles from the air, from ships and from submarines. 

Their new cruise missiles can be launched from Bears and Blackjacks and they went from development to testing by use in Syria. It achieved initial operating capability based on a shot from a deployed force. 

The Kh-101 and 102 were in development, not testing, so they used combat shots as “tests,” which means that their capability for technological “surprise” is significant as well, as their force evolves. 

The air and sea-launched cruise missiles can carry conventional or nuclear warheads, and what this means is that a “tactical” weapon can have strategic effect with regard to North America. 

Today, they can launch from their air bases over Russia and reach into North American territory. 

The challenge is that, when launched, we are catching arrows, but we are not going after the archers. 

The archers do not have to leave Russia in order to range our homeland. 

And with the augmentation of the firepower of their submarine force, the question of the state of our anti-submarine warfare capabilities is clearly raised by in the North Atlantic and the Northern Pacific waters. 

What this means for NORAD as well is that limiting it to air defense limits our ability to deal with the multi-domain threat. 

It is an air and maritime threat and you need to go on that tack and defense through multiple domains, not simply the classic air battle.

The Admiral wisely underscored the point that it was crucial to understand what was in the mind of North Korea and Russia when contemplating nuclear use.

Question: The nuclear dimension is a key part of all of this, although there is a reluctance to talk about the Second Nuclear Age and the shaping of deterrent strategies to deal with the new dynamics. 

With regard to Russia, they have changed their doctrine and approach.

How do you view their approach and the challenge to us which flows from that change? 

Answer: Both the Chinese and Russians have said in their open military literature, that if conflict comes, they want to escalate conflict in order to de-escalate it. 

Now think about that from our side. And so now as crisis escalates, how will Russia or China want to escalate to deescalate? 

The Admiral added:

One has to think through our deterrence strategy as well. 

What deters the current leader of North Korea? 

What deters non-state actors for getting and using a nuclear weapon? 

What will deter Russia from using tactical nuclear weapons in the sequence of how they view dealing with conventional war? 

It is not my view that matters; it is their view; how to I get inside the head of the 21st century actors, and not simply stay in yesterday’s set of answers? 

If one begins to think through what we have seen from the Russians under President Putin we clearly see significant changes in defense policy, capabilities and approaches.

The Syrian operation saw a deployable air and maritime strike force move to the chess board of global conflict and achieve key objectives which the political leadership had set for them. Then many of those forces were withdrawn.

The Russians ended up with an enhanced presence structure through the intervention and political credit in the region for bolstering the regime in power.

They also used the cruise missiles for the first time that the Admiral referred to as well.

Putin made the nuclear connection himself.

For the Russians, President Putin announced in December 2015, that Kalibr cruise missiles had been fired by the submered Rostov-on-Don submarine from the Mediterranean for the first time. 

He said TU-22 bombers also took part in the latest raids and that “significant damage” had been done to a munitions depot, a factory manufacturing mortar rounds and oil facilities. Two major targets in Raqqa, the defacto capital of Isis, had been hit, said Mr Shoigu. 

President Putin said the new cruise missiles could also be equipped with nuclear warheads – but that he hoped they would never need them. 

He said: “With regard to strikes from a submarine. We certainly need to analyse everything that is happening on the battlefield, how the weapons work. Both the [Kalibr] missiles and the Kh-101 rockets are generally showing very good results. 

We now see that these are new, modern and highly effective high-precision weapons that can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads.”

The intervention in Ukraine demonstrated as well a skillful seizure of Crimea, and use of information warfare, special forces, and internal subversion in Ukraine. There was very little interest demonstrated in a full up classic invasion of Ukraine by a large Soviet army group.

In fact, if one looks carefully at the Russian military and how it has been modernized, the shaping of an intervention force using modern means, and technologies has been a clear priority over the force structure used in the past built around large army groups.

Not only is this more effective to serve the global policy of Putin, but if one inserts tactical nuclear weapons within a conventional calculus, there really is no need for a large Soviet army group.

(Remember President Eisenhower, anyone?)

Strategic deterrence holds for the US will not allow the Russians to shape an arsenal that would have decisive consequences in nuclear exchanges, or put more bluntly, the US should focus on nuclear modernization which keeps this kind of nuclear deterrence in place.

Yet there is no real consideration in US defense strategy for having nuclear weapons thought of OUTSIDE of a ladder of NUCLEAR escalation strategy.

But what if small yield and precise nuclear weapons are used with limited effect to stop any potential war in the West for such use with Europe in increasing disarray might make sense to achieve political results of fundamentally collapsing the Western Alliance, the threat still considered by Putin a key one to Russia and its ambitions?

As Dr. James Conca wrote:

In the end, however, our nuclear force crews, and the American public, see the threat of full-scale nuclear war as “simply nonexistent.” 

Not so in Russia. They’re ready. And what would we do if they used these tactical nukes against one of its neighbors? 

This same question never seems to go away.

For our earlier forum on the Second Nuclear Age, see the following:

For a presentation by Ed Timperlake, prepared in April 2016 on the impact of the second nuclear age, see the following:

Second Nuclear Age from Second Line of Defense

Rush We Hardly Know You

How does one go bankrupt-“Slowly then quickly?”

I suspect the same holds true for market share of radio listeners.

Rush Limbaugh may lose a significant portion of his audience along with a commensurate market share big bucks.

Audiences, especially supporters of Donald Trump, are not seeing honest facts being reported while editors and pundits are hiding behind the cliché—“we are fair and balanced” and we are right— well because we are the media and  viewers can’t handle the truth.

Rush’s “talent on loan from God,” will wear very poorly because of the merits of his ongoing content in covering Trump’s campaign.

His trust factor is eroding because of his making fact based mistakes.

The equivalent of an “above the fold” headline on the Drudge Report April 11, 2016 was a Rush Limbaugh declaration on his national radio show after the Republican Party Colorado Debacle that “Ted Cruz Isn’t Cheating, He’s Winning”.

For point of full disclosure I was a life member of the Republican Party and I received two political appointments into government service by President Reagan.

Unfortunately, a few years ago I was notified that I had to give them more money because they changed the rules of buying Life Membership that it really wasn’t really for life–what greedy bastards.

On Rush explaining away, in his usual cleaver way, the Colorado event whatever it was, it wasn’t democracy it was something else.

Avoiding the usual cliché ridden “Nazi or Banana Republic” analogy, the Colorado political hacks out did another real thug in applying Stalin’s famous quote

“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. Joseph Stalin

By Rush’s own admission he debriefed with the Cruz Campaign and said Ted’s team told him that they did not cheat and in the process on his broadcast he trashed Trump.

Unfortunately his research team missed a published account of actual documented cheating.

Rush Limbaugh is not a journalist but he does brag about his accuracy.

Some free advice, he should channel the famous line of a newspaper editor when having his research team do show prep-“you say your mother loves you-check it out.”

The election issues and rise of Trump, especially his brutal and unyielding stand on all things under the rubric immigration “amnesty,” is white hot and the media deception is unforgivable to many many citizens who are afraid for their lively hood and safety.

IT is that basic.

Even if many try and explain Trump away under the pitch of fair and balanced or the true voice of conservatism (Rush),  damage is already done.

The pitch is so far do not believe “your lying eyes and ears” when watching Fox and listening to Rush.

I believe that when this era is looked at from afar many who were considered smart in reporting and writing about Trump will have to live with their a mistake in print.

The difference between living though history to then having others see the long view is the rapid fire communications of today’s information, some accurate other widely off, but good luck to Rush and others trying to spin and make it up in the age of Drudge and the Internet.

We are all probably living through what intellectuals call an “inflection point” a big brain way of saying something is changing.  That is so true because Donald Trump is triggering  an American media historic epic failure.

As a child of the sixties, I was on active duty in US Military from 1965-1975.

I suspect the anger today is greater because it is not focused by only one high energy group of activists — the anti-war left.

However a great Jefferson Airplane song of the sixties may still be applicable to Rush’s audience feelings about what is occurring today- “When the truth is found to be lies / And all the joy within you dies.”

The current upset with the direction of our great country, especially after the last two terms of President Obama , has had nationwide reach in touching citizens in very basic ways.

Therefore conspiring to “game” and manipulate the news by heretofore trusted sources is not good.

In fact, I bet if Rush Limbaugh had thought of “Make America Great Again,” before Trump, he would have used it as a central point of his show.

But wait it gets way worse for Mr Limbaugh’s credibility, because of the following press release by Salem Communications and their putting his show on California Inland Empire “Talker 590.”

CAMARILLO, CA–(Marketwired – Feb 3, 2014) – Salem Communications Corporation (NASDAQ: SALM) announced today that Rush Limbaugh will be joining the on-air line-up of Talker AM 590 The Answer in the Inland Empire. The Rush Limbaugh Show is heard by more than 18 million people per week on nearly 600 stations.

Looking at a very public source Wiki, that may or may not be the best source, but one would think if wrong Rush’s team would set the record straight on “Weekly Listeners.”

It is still a large audience but Rush has the responsibility to correct the record.

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In their own words and deeds it looks like Salem, is totally in the tank for Ted Cruz.

It is capitalism so their business is their business and if Rush is actually “Talent on loan from God” than he has joined with a very strong “Amen corner.”

About Salem Communications

Salem Communications is the largest commercial U.S. radio broadcasting company that provides programming targeted at audiences interested in Christian and conservative radio content, as measured by the number of stations and audience coverage. Upon completion of all announced transactions, the company will operate a portfolio of 102 radio stations in 39 markets, including 62 stations in 22 of the top 25 markets. Salem’s portfolio includes 40 stations programmed in a Christian talk format, 27 in a conservative talk format, 12 in a contemporary Christian music format, 8 in a Spanish Christian format and 10 in a business talk format. We also program the Family Talk™ Christian-themed talk format on XM Radio, channel 131 and operate and

Salem also owns Salem Radio Network, a national radio network that syndicates Christian and conservative talk, news and music programming to approximately 2,500 affiliated radio stations, and Salem Media Representatives, a national media advertising sales firm with offices across the country.

Salem operates Salem Web Network, an online provider of Christian and conservative themed news, analysis and commentary. Christian content websites include:,®,, and, and Conservative opinion websites include®,,, and

Salem also owns Regnery Publishing, the country’s leading publisher of conservative books. Salem Publishing™ circulates Christian and conservative magazines including Homecoming® YouthWorker Journal™, The Singing News, Preaching and Townhall Magazine™. Xulon Press™ is a provider of self-publishing services targeting the Christian audience.

Ed Timperlake is co-author of three books published by Regnery before Eagle Publishing was acquired by Salem.

One was a NYT Best Seller, Year of The Rat, the other two Red Dragon Rising and Showdown were translated into Japanese.

He actually was on the Rush Limbaugh Show and when there was a guest host.
















A Tutorial for Ted Cruz on “New York Values”: New York Voters Get a Teaching Opportunity

On the syndicated Howie Carr Show, Ted Cruz declared that Donald Trump “comes from New York and he embodies New York values”.

On Fox, New York-born Megyn Kelly (Syracuse) asked Cruz to explain exactly what “New York values”are. Cruz responded: “The rest of the country knows exactly what New York values are, and I gotta say, they’re not Iowa values and they’re not New Hampshire values.”

Apparently, Ted can not define “New York” values; so let me help him.

I grew up on Staten Island, educated at St Patrick’s in Richmond, and had a amazing childhood in NYC so Rafael gave me a friggen break.

It was a magic childhood.

Yankee Stadium AND Ebbets Field, the Staten Island Ferry and Brooklyn Ferry, Radio City Music Hall, and Rockefeller Center at Christmas.

A loud screeching subway with tokens to get up-town or across to Cony Island, just see the movie ‘The Warriors” to understand.

To understand real New York values read about “Tammy the Democrat Boss Cat New York’s City Hall” who was a true rat catcher.


“Tammy .. who occupied City Hall during the administrations of Mayor Jimmy Walker and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the 1930s.”

“Tammany’s life of luxury as the City Hall cat began sometime around 1930, when New York Mayor James J. Walker found the cat on the Lower East Side. Mayor Walker named the cat Tammany and brought him to City Hall to help get rid of rats in the building.

Tammany was apparently quite the charmer, because during the remainder of Mayor Walker’s reign, his rat diet was supplemented by calves’ livers that came out of the city budget (nice touch).

Tammany took his job as the City Hall feline boss very seriously.

As the New York Sun reported, he was “a bold, swashbuckling lad” and no rat was too big to escape his claws.”

Of course in true NYC style, Mayor Jimmy Walker who wrote a really poignant schmaltzy song resigned and left for Europe to avoid prosecution.

Let’s not make Hillary have to do the same, and she hasn’t even made even one contribution to American Culture-except “What difference does it make” about the four American’s KIA in Benghazi on her watch.

While in very patriotic NYC tradition another NY Mayor “The Little Flower” was a combat bomber pilot in WW I.

“In the first World War he was the pilot of a bombing plane on the Italian front, and he kept on dropping bombs all his life–on “reactionaries,” prohibitionists and Ku Klux Klanners in Congress during the Nineteen Twenties, and on Tammany Hall during his long Mayoralty service.”

Little Flower

I was just one of many playing stoop ball and we all had had dads who were WWII veterans.

In my case one Grandfather was Career NYPD, who was Mayor LaGuardia’s bodyguard for a time before finishing up in Chinatown.

The other was a real fraud buster as head auditor of ATT Long Lines–both were real law and order influences.

My dad was USN and we stayed in New York as he was deployed. He was an early Nuc sub sailor and died of inoperable brain cancer at 44-the only other male of that WW II generation was my mother’s brother who was KIA on Iwo Jima just after his 18th Birthday, I am named for him.

My Aunt is a widow of a career NY Fireman–so I earned the right to say hit the road and go peddle your sanctimonious hypocrisy somewhere else Rafael Edward Cruz.

As an Annapolis educated US Marine and fighter pilot with a graduate degree from Cornell and two political appointments by President Reagan.

Enough already about Senator CruzSenator and Canadian being a true keeper of the conservative flame.

It is all about him and his quest for power—so whatever works is that it Ted?

If Texans (my daughter was born in Kingsville Texas) accepts a Senator with dual citizenship, US and Canadian who has sworn to protect all Americans against threats foreign (the jokes write themselves) and domestic that is their choice.

But don’t be surprised when my City and State rejects you Teddy.

The Daily News weighed in early on this and put this as clearly as anyone.

Drop Dead Ted



Incoming and Outgoing Dynamics: US Service Families Leaving Turkey and the Iranian Navy Coming into the Monroe Doctrine Area of Interest

Two news items caught our eye if one is looking for the global dynamics from the Middle East.

On the one hand, the United States is moving military families from Turkey in response to “violence” in the area.

This does raise questions about the value of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to the United States.

According to Stars and Stripes in a story published March 29 2016:

The Pentagon is ordering nearly 700 military family members to leave Incirlik Air Base and two smaller military installations in Turkey because of concerns over the deteriorating security environment there.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 2.40.10 AM

Families are expected to begin leaving Turkey on Wednesday, stopping first at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, before continuing on to the States or other duty locations, U.S. European Command told Stars and Stripes.

 “We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism,” EUCOM chief Gen. Philip Breedlove said Tuesday in a statement.

 The mandatory departure order, announced by the State Department, affects nearly all Defense Department dependents assigned to Incirlik, as well as those at smaller bases in Izmir and Mugla. The families of U.S. diplomats in the same areas also are ordered to depart.

US families’ maybe leaving from Turkey, but the Iranian Navy is coming our way.

According to a story published April 3, 2016 in Arutz Sheva, Iran announces a naval deployment to Latin America. Apparently, the Iranians want to follow on the heals of the President’s visit to make their own message heard.

Iranian Army Commander Maj. Gen. Ataollah Salehi on Saturday announced that Iran intends to deploy warships and destroyers in Latin America, in a sign of the attempts of the leading state sponsor of terror to expand its military cooperation with countries opposing the US.

“We intend to take a longer stride in marine voyages and even go towards friendly states in Latin America,” Salehi told reporters at the southern port city of Bandar Abbas, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Speaking at a ceremony welcoming back the Iranian Navy’s 38th fleet after 75 days of international deployment, he said Iran intends to increase its cooperation with the navies of Latin American states.

“The Navy is capable of deploying in that region,” he asserted, while saying Iran is placing a priority on updating its navy with state-of-the-art weapons.

Iranian Naval Ships. Credit: Reuters

Iranian Naval Ships. Credit: Reuters

Iran has been looking to expand ties with Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Mexico and Colombia.

According to the Iranian semi-official Fars, “Iran’s strong and rapidly growing ties with Latin America have raised eyebrows in the US and its western allies since Tehran and Latin nations have forged an alliance against the imperialist and colonialist powers and are striving hard to reinvigorate their relations with the other independent countries which pursue a line of policy independent from the US.”

The move to create an axis “against the colonialist powers” continues Iran’s position of hostility against the US, which has strengthened more and more ever since the controversial nuclear deal signed last July. Israel has warned the deal paves Tehran’s way to a nuclear weapon.

Just last month Iran indicated it intends to rapidly expand its naval powers, mere days after US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a warning call to Iran about its repeated missile tests breaching UN and US sanctions.



President Obama Travels to Latin America and Can’t Sort the Differences Between Capitalism and Communism: Time for Some Cow Logic

Recently President Obama made an historic trip to Cuba and packed in some other travel to Latin America.

Leaving aside any comments on his visit to Cuba, his comments in Argentina require a serious look and suggest that some further education might be in order for the President before he leaves office.

According to the President, the young people of Argentina, and presumably all those new folks coming forth, need to worry themselves about needless historical distinctions like capitalism, socialism and communism, because they were presumably going to write a fresh new history for mankind to march forward in progress.

Leaving aside the Lord of the Flies and that author’s view of such a Rousseauian notion of youthful inherent goodness, the question really is one of sorting out the President’s understanding and shaping a learning opportunity.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I guess to make a broader point, so often in the past there’s been a sharp division between left and right, between capitalist and communist or socialist. And especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate, right?

Oh, you know, you’re a capitalist Yankee dog, and oh, you know, you’re some crazy communist that’s going to take away everybody’s property. And I mean, those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works.

You don’t have to worry about whether it neatly fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory — you should just decide what works.

And I said this to President Castro in Cuba. I said, look, you’ve made great progress in educating young people. Every child in Cuba gets a basic education — that’s a huge improvement from where it was. Medical care — the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States, despite it being a very poor country, because they have access to health care.

That’s a huge achievement.

They should be congratulated. But you drive around Havana and you say this economy is not working. It looks like it did in the 1950s. And so you have to be practical in asking yourself how can you achieve the goals of equality and inclusion, but also recognize that the market system produces a lot of wealth and goods and services.

And it also gives individuals freedom because they have initiative.

And so you don’t have to be rigid in saying it’s either this or that, you can say — depending on the problem you’re trying to solve, depending on the social issues that you’re trying to address what works.

And I think that what you’ll find is that the most successful societies, the most successful economies are ones that are rooted in a market-based system, but also recognize that a market does not work by itself. It has to have a social and moral and ethical and community basis, and there has to be inclusion. Otherwise it’s not stable.

And it’s up to you — whether you’re in business or in academia or the nonprofit sector, whatever you’re doing — to create new forms that are adapted to the new conditions that we live in today.

One could note that the article claimed that Obama had forgotten the differences between Capitalism and Socialism but the forgetting part might have been a bit optimistic.

These statements are amazing on so many levels, but fortunately I have learned from my 15 year son, Pierre-Anne Laird, that there is a way to explain the differences perhaps in a way the President would clearly grasp.

I learned from him that you need to turn to the logic of politics seen from the perspective of cows to really grasp the differences.

I encourage our readers to gain full knowledge and go directly to the websites identified at the end of the article, but will impart some basic knowledge here as well.

Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one of your cows and gives it to your neighbor. You’re both forced to join a cooperative where you have to teach your neighbor how to take care of his cow.

Bureaucratic Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else’s cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as its regulations say you should need.

Russian Communism: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

Communism: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for you share of the milk, but it’s so long that the milk is sour by the time you get it.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

We hope this helps.