Trump and Veterans: Recalling the Reagan Legacy

President Reagan would be very proud of Donald Trump’s approach to helping Veterans.

Donald Trump’s just announced Ten Point Plan to Reform DVA is powerful and insightful.

It is reminiscent of Candidate and then President Reagan’s actions.

Reagan stated that the Carter Administration’s treatment of Vietnam Combat Veterans as guilt-ridden victims was just wrong.


President Reagan changed the national debate by saying that those who served fought in a noble cause.

To a generation of Vet’s Reagan’s words rang out.

Ronald Reagan’s wish to neutralize the “problem” of the Vietnam veteran as outsiders was evident in his speeches praising Vietnam veterans’ faithfulness, applauding other Americans for welcoming them home, and observing that America had consequently transcended “the tragedies of the past” and come together “in unity and with resolve.”

The Reagan administration’s wish to do away with negative stereotypes of Vietnam veterans was also evident in the activities of a little-remarked federal organization, the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program (VVLP).

“The decades of decay, division and decline will come to an end. The years of American Greatness will return.” Donald Trump

It is time now for a bold new approach: accountability first before the tired formula that no real accountability just more money equals support.

No accountability no check:

(1) Mr. Trump will appoint a VA Secretary whose sole purpose will be to serve veterans. The Obama Administration has continually placed D.C. bureaucrats’ needs above those of veterans, this will not happen under a Trump Administration.

(2) Mr. Trump will use the powers of the presidency to remove and discipline the federal employees and managers who have violated the public’s trust and failed to carry out the duties on behalf of our veterans.

(3) Mr. Trump will ask that Congress pass legislation that empowers the Secretary of the VA to discipline or terminate any employee who has jeopardized the health, safety or well-being of a veteran.

(4) Mr. Trump will create a commission to investigate all the fraud, cover-ups, and wrong-doing that has taken place in the VA, and present these findings to Congress for to spur legislative reform.

(5) Mr. Trump will protect and promote honest employees at the VA who highlight wrongdoing, and he will guarantee their jobs will be protected.

(6) Mr. Trump will create a private White House hotline, which will be active 24 hours a day answered by a real person. It will be devoted to answering veteran’s complaints of wrongdoing at the VA and ensure no complaints fall through the cracks.

(7) Mr. Trump will stop giving bonuses to any VA employees who are wasting money, and start rewarding employees who seek to improve the VA’s service, cut waste, and save lives.

(8) Mr. Trump will reform the visa system to ensure veterans are at the front of the line for health services, not the back.

(9) Mr. Trump will increase the number of mental health care professionals, and allow veteran’s to be able to seek mental health care outside of the VA.

(10) Mr. Trump will ensure that every veteran has the choice to seek care at the VA or at a private service provider of their own choice. Under a Trump Administration, no veteran will die waiting for service. These days are over starting January 2017.

Ed Timperlake is the former Principal Director, Mobilization Planning and Requirements/OSD in President Reagan’s Administration, and the first Assistant Secretary, Congressional and Public Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs.

The 2016 Presidential Election: The Third Wave?

This year’s presidential election is unusual.

But what do we get from The Washington Post?

This sort of thing:

How does Donald Trump stack up against American literature’s fictional dictators? Pretty well, actually.

Or this:

Clinton and Trump are primed, but the voters are . . . perplexed–perplexed/2016/06/11/f882de2e-2f29-11e6-9de3-6e6e7a14000c_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_campaignamerica-4pm1%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

Ok let us help The Washington Post become less perplexed.

One candidate came completely from outside the normal political process to be in the position to be nominated as the candidate of the Republican Party.

Most of the press analysis has really focused on what they do not like about Mr. Trump, but miss the core point that the establishment was overwhelmed by popular support for Mr, Trump.

At a minimum, this would make him the anti-establishment candidate, and certainly one many Republican leaders are, at best, ambivalent about.

And for the Inside the Beltway High Priests, whether journalists or PhDs or former think tankers who are really simply former staffers waiting for their next job, Trump is an anathema – he is NOT one of them and they really do not know him and he reflects concerns which are not theirs.

The establishment candidate will by Hillary Clinton who made one of the most amazing comments during the campaign when she argued that as a woman she could not be part of the establishment.

This might have been true 30 years ago, but wake up Hillary and look the world in 2016! There could not be any more establishment a candidate than you are.

Which explains why a marginal candidate like Senator Sanders could mount a surprisingly effective candidate against a well-backed, well-funded and establishment orchestrated candidate like HRC.

If you put Trump and Sanders together one realizes that a strong majority of voters in the primaries voted AGAINST the political establishment.

That is the real story of 2016 and even if HRC becomes President the revolt will continue and perhaps accelerate.

This year’s campaign could well be the third wave election in American history.

The first wave was the collapse of the Democratic Party in the 1850s in front of the slavery challenge.  Lincoln challenged the the political establishment and came to power as the country faced Civil War.  The political process was reestablished after the Civil War but was very different from before.

The second wave was the progressive revolt of the 1890s against the corrupt political parties and the role of Theodore Roosevelt in challenging the political order and generating a process of change was significant.  The parties changed again as the political process was clearly ruptured.

With significant political upheaval on the left and right and significant unhappiness with the current political parties, we could easily be witnessing a significant turning point when the ability of the political elites to ignore fundamental concerns of the publics will lead to a restructuring of the political system.

Trump clearly poses that challenge and HRC will seek to rally the forces of the establishment to defend the current structure of government.  There has been no better symbolism of pushing government down the throats of Americans than Obamacare and after all HRC was the original Obamacare advocate before Obama.

I am asked by many Europeans to explain the Trump phenomenon to them for if they simply read the main stream media there would no way to actually understand what the dynamic is all about.

I usually refer them to Milo Yiannopoulos and this interview with Dave Rubin:








The Danish F-35 Decision Has Direct Impact on Canada

In a recent op-ed in The Toronto Star by Gary Schaub, Jr. and Christian Leuprecht looked at the challenge which the Danish procurement process poses for the one being currently followed by the new Canadian government.

To be blunt: “If the Canadian government is serious about the Defence Policy Review it has initiated, learning from Danish technocrats how to procure it may be a good place to start.”

Canadian governments of different political stripes have spent more than a decade trying to figure out whether to buy new fighter jets and which one to buy.

The Conservatives developed an aversion to military-procurement commitments, deferring some, bungling others; Liberals, by contrast are in the habit of politicizing military procurement decisions.

First they make an election plank out of scuttling the F-35 sole-source fighter purchase, now we learn that they are looking at sole-sourcing the F-18. Instead of politicking, which jet Canada buys and how many is secondary to having a proper process that generates and legitimates a commitment on which to follow through.

Recently, the Danish government concluded the F-35 is cheaper, more efficient, and more effective than the alternatives and recommended the F-35 over the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon to replace its aging F-16 fleet. Contrary to the approach taken by Conservatives or Liberals in Canada, the Danish options analysis was transparent, public, and its findings were validated independently. There are important lessons for Canada here on both substance and method.

The Danish government considered four criteria: military performance, acquisition and life-cycle costs, industrial benefits, and strategic considerations — primarily the “ability … to support or fulfil Danish defence and security policy objectives, including potential co-operation with other countries.”

They evaluated each category separately and concluded the F-35 trumps the F/A-18 and the Typhoon in all four categories.

Given the F-35’s reputation, the conclusion about costs was most surprising — and key to the budget-conscious Danes. The detailed analysis provided to the parliament and public found that life cycle costs were driven by the number of expected flight hours of each aircraft: 8,000 for the F-35 and 6,000 for the F/A-18 and Typhoon. Since they last longer, the Danes concluded they could meet their defence needs over 30 years with fewer F-35s.

Critics have questioned the data used by the Danish Ministry of Defence. But the information was supplied by the companies themselves as part of the bidding process. Eurofighter explained they were very conservative in their estimate then, but have since calculated the Typhoon could fly for 8,300 hours. Boeing made a similar case: that the actual flight hours for each F/A-18 Super Hornet is 9,500.

The Danes have stood by their process, using data the manufacturers submitted, which they verified and was validated independently by external auditors. It is now up to the Parliament to consider the government’s recommendation.

There are two lessons here for Canada. First, reach a cross-party consensus in principle. In the Danish case, the political parties agreed in 2012, as a matter of principle, that a new combat aircraft purchase will take place, even with a minority government now in power.

Second, Parliament’s external validation can challenge but should not substitute new metrics for those used by the government. In Canada, the Parliamentary Budget Office, the Auditor General, and KPMG all used different metrics, including different life cycle lengths: whether you calculate jet fuel over 20 or 40 years makes quite the difference!

The Danish process included external validation by RAND Europe and Deloitte Consulting — whose joint report is also publicly available — as well as independent, outside experts. Barring illegality or incompetence on the part of the New Fighter Program Office, the Ministry of Defence, RAND Europe, and Deloitte, it is difficult to see how Boeing or Eurofighter can convince the Danish parliament to forego the government’s recommendations.

The Danish process is democratic and transparent, which makes it difficult to assail. It demonstrates democratic representatives can agree if the processes in place have integrity.

But process does not determine outcome: Canada might well conclude an aircraft other than the F-35 best meets its defence needs. That the largest military purchase in Danish history is proceeding so quickly and with little controversy puts Canadian military procurement processes to shame.

If the Canadian government is serious about the Defence Policy Review it has initiated, learning from Danish technocrats how to procure it may be a good place to start.

Gary Schaub, Jr. is senior researcher at the Centre for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Christian Leuprecht is professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University, and a senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute.

Bikers Versus Cubical Commandos: Not a Hard Choice

“I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.” William F. Buckley, Jr.

It most certainly looks like Donald Trump is very comfortable with bikers especially after making a very honest personal quip “I’m not a huge biker, I have to be honest with you, OK? I always liked the limo better.”

And yet there he was in the middle of many thousands of Bikers.


His message was direct and to the point: Take care of veterans, because so far the Political Class has had an epic failure there has been no real accountability just a lot of posturing.

Whereas the current Administration tells veterans to just accept waiting in line like they would if waiting for rides in Disneyland, Trump counters with reality: “Thousands of people are dying waiting in line to see a doctor.

That is not going to happen anymore,” Trump told veterans gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial as part of the annual Rolling Thunder event, which brings thousands of motorcyclists to Washington each Memorial Day weekend.

So stand-by real help is on the way:

“..A potential President Donald “You’re Fired” Trump would need no help in understanding accountability.

Which bring us to the Best and the Brightest and William Buckley’s point- Hillary Rodham Clinton is her own problem, “Clinton Inc,” Bill and Hillary, “two for the price of one” and certainly are with regard to avoiding accountability and trumpeting their place above the laws governing everyone else.

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President in 2016, on practical results alone has done something truly amazing in being a catalyst for focusing on the needs and aspirations of a significant number of  Americans ignored at best and at worst insulted and demeaned as a matter of course.

Candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been trying to foster a “have-VS have not war” which  transcends the old liberal traditional liberal class warfare.

In their attempt to encourage Class War they merge it with identity politics in order to continue to splinter America.

The tragedy is that the “have nots” are voiceless and often demeaned, patronized and forgotten.

Yet they have great family pride and are truly struggling.

Just ask West Virginia and other Appalachian Coal Miners, or industraly workers a factory after factory goes “cold iron.”

Style and substance, in addition to the message, is always important and as Trump throws punch after punch at the Mainstream Media (MSM) and DC’s self-styled Best and Brightest, as seen in his Rolling Thunder bonding, he actually gives hope to many.

Republican candidate Donald Trump is a huge pressure relief valve against some of our fellow citizens who hate America, and are doing everything they can to have  the type of people who could be considered a Tea Party cohort resort to violence.

Yet even being very concerned about the direction of the country, they do not cross the line, unlike their opponents.

It is truly remarkable is that after being betrayed in 2010 and 2014 they are still giving the political system a third chance.

It has always been our belief that the Civil War was preventable if better Pols had figured it all out earlier.

As students who came of age in the sixties we have seen much worse.

But the relative state of unrest in America is very significant and Donald Trump is in the great tradition of our Democracy is leading a peaceful revolution

It is ironic that the magazine founded by William F Buckley, National Review has been totally ineffectual in the public debate over the last year. They have shown they do not have a real clue, nor a true finger on the actual pulse of America beyond their money fueled DC cubicles.

400 Rolling Thunder Bikers are smarter and more connected then the NR.

I suspect it will also be pointed out as the history of this political cycle on his quest Donald Trump has single handedly put some well-deserved intellectual torpedoes in both New York Times and The Washington Post.

Ed Timperlake had political appointments by Reagan National Director Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program, and Principal Director Mobilization Planning and Requirements/OSD.

He was also on Professional Staff House Committee Rules with Chairman Solomon, Mr House Conservative, and was an Assistant Secretary for VA Secretary Dewinski, who was Barry Goldwaters’s Illinois State Chair in 1994.

The photo and further analyses can be seen below:



Remembering Hiroshima on Memorial Day: Historical Reality Not Moral Posturing Is Needed

The President recently went to Hiroshma to remember the first use of the nuclear weapon.

What he seemed to forget were all the lives saved, both American and Japanese, by the heroic decision of President Truman to use what was then advanced technology to stop the bloodletting of the War in the Pacific and to ensure that the United States did not leave the future of Asia to China and Russia.

This point was driven home to me when viewing a powerful video underscoring the contribution of veterans to the country.

On Saturday May 28 2016 a video link arrived in an e-mail with the simple message:

“This is a keeper….”

I think you will agree.

The sender was Admiral “Fast Ed” Fahy, as a first tour Squadron Navy A-7 Attack pilot he flew missions off Yankee Station into North Vietnam, and in a distinguished career he eventually commanded the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy and went on to Flag rank.

The fact that a Navy Admiral was so moved by the narrative about the death of  a soldier speaker volumes about the great respect all who served in the US military have for their fellow warriors regardless of rank or service.

To paraphrase a great line in a poem by John Donne –“the bell tolls for thee.”

All Americans looking at the video should note that many remaining World War II Pacific veterans rendering honor to their fallen warriors may have been killed invading Japan.

Robbin Laird wrote earlier:

We can begin by understanding the context within which the U.S. first used nuclear weapons.

After bloody island campaigns, with mass suicides on Guam, and fight to the last man on Okinawa, and the defense of Okinawa in part by the widespread attacks on the US fleet by Kamikaze pilots, President Truman reached the conclusion that a nuclear attack made a great deal of sense.

The alternative was to face massive destruction and death on the Japanese mainland as the Japanese fought to the last man.

My father was one of those Army officers preparing for the invasion with a very clear expectation that he and his men would die on the assault on Japan.

He told me that “we cheered when we heard what had happened, for we knew that we now had a chance to see the war end, and possibly go home alive.”

He spent the next two years in Japan during the occupation and got to know the Japanese well.

He learned Japanese and gained a sense of great respect for Japan and a deep pain that the war had had to happen at all.

In other words, the U.S. used nuclear weapons to meet a strategic purpose not well met by conventional means.

It has been estimated that there would have been a million plus American causalities alone.

I am named for my uncle KIA on Iwo Jima.

His last message home on his 18th birthday was he planned after the war to become a Catholic Priest.

The causality rates for the battle of Iwo Jima foreshadowed the fight to the death ethos of the Imperial Japanese Forces.

The US had 6,781 killed and 19,217 wounded.

The entire Japanese forces were almost wiped out to a man around 18,000 KIA and only 216 taken prisoner.

President Truman’s heroic decision saved many families from feeling the pain which my family had to feel from the willingness of the Japanese to die to the last man, woman or child.

When President Obama makes the statement about “moral awakening” in visiting Hiroshima, he is by inference saying that the ending of the war with two atomic explosions was immoral.

The fate of Hiroshima is reduced to a policy moment in his quest of a “nuclear free world.”

He is a clever enough politician to know exactly what he means.

“. ..Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.”

This is shameful posturing and a perfect example of what is being called “virtue porn” or hollow words that in the scope of history mean nothing.

The lives lost in Hiroshima are part of a broader historical context, not simply reduced to policy posturing by an American president on his way out of office.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-13 at 10.47.43 AM

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.