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sestoppelman

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I will accompany Doug and try to keep him out of trouble. We rarely discuss politics as I have not watched the news or read a newspaper in over 15 tears. I find that my wife, kids and grandkids still like me and nothing important in my house has changed regardless of what has occurred in the news. Counting down to the next African trip in June.
Its not just what one sees on the news, but one should stay abreast of whats happening in his country.

In order to vote with some knowledge of the issues and candidates, watching a little news is sort of necessary.
Otherwise, one is just another ill-informed voter, and we have multitudes of those already....

And to say nothing important has happened at "your house" is nice but inaccurate, and a lot has happened to our country that is important and bad, and that includes at your house.

I really hate to fall into the category of "ignorance is bliss", and prefer to be informed.
 

Jeff505

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Its not just what one sees on the news, but one should stay abreast of whats happening in his country.

In order to vote with some knowledge of the issues and candidates, watching a little news is sort of necessary.
Otherwise, one is just another ill-informed voter, and we have multitudes of those already....

And to say nothing important has happened at "your house" is nice but inaccurate, and a lot has happened to our country that is important and bad, and that includes at your house.

I really hate to fall into the category of "ignorance is bliss", and prefer to be informed.
I do not consider myself an ill-informed voter, what I believe does not change. I will always vote in a manor that is consistent with my faith and belief in the greatness of America. I think the term “I’ll-informed“ voter can best be attributed to those whose beliefs are not solid and can be swayed by news sound bites or with the blowing of the wind. There will be times of plenty and times of famine, this again will not change what is important in my house, if you every put your hopes and dreams in a politician or an election you will always be disappointed.
I once found myself addicted to watching the news and trying to stay on top of every current event, I walked away from this. I do not disparage anyone for wanting to ”stay informed” if that brings meaning or importance. I do not consider my choice to represent an “ignorance is bliss” approach to life, I am informed but not In the manner that some consider important.
 

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sestoppelman

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I do not consider myself an ill-informed voter, what I believe does not change. I will always vote in a manor that is consistent with my faith and belief in the greatness of America. I think the term “I’ll-informed“ voter can best be attributed to those whose beliefs are not solid and can be swayed by news sound bites or with the blowing of the wind. There will be times of plenty and times of famine, this again will not change what is important in my house, if you every put your hopes and dreams in a politician or an election you will always be disappointed.
I once found myself addicted to watching the news and trying to stay on top of every current event, I walked away from this. I do not disparage anyone for wanting to ”stay informed” if that brings meaning or importance. I do not consider my choice to represent an “ignorance is bliss” approach to life, I am informed but not In the manner that some consider important.
Good answer!(y)
 

Ray B

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BIDEN Administration LACKS diversity!!!
Have you noticed all the attention that Males dressing up as Females get??
There's that clown that was made an Admiral and wears a skirt;
Then there's the guy that stole the woman's suitcase, shaved everything visible, singlehandedly causes spikes in Revlon stock from his makeup
The guy that is proud of his silicon boobs and says the bulge in his crotch is normal for a woman
In addition to these individuals there the widespread Drag Queen events of guys pretending to be women.


So do you see the problem????

Where are all the Women that pretend to be Men? The Stag Kings?

the Bidet better get with the program or he'll be getting a great backlash.
 

Major Bonkers

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Here is a link to the Royal United Services Institution (RUSI) initial report on the Ukraine war. Despite the jargon, it seems quite easy to understand.

RUSI is a British think-tank associated with the armed forces and foreign affairs.

Some interesting bits and bobs:

Page 7 - 8: Assurances from General Valery Gerasimov on Russia’s military capabilities played a key role in shaping the confidence of Russia’s special services in their plan. As Gerasimov told international interlocutors on the outbreak of the war, ‘I command the second most powerful Army in the world’. Separately Gerasimov told British counterparts that Russia had achieved conventional military parity with the US.

Page 17, on the Ukrainian armed forces (UAF): Traditional tank doctrine would see its employment in the direct fire zone. However, during the years of the war in Donbas, the tankers of the UAF changed traditional approaches and developed techniques for indirect fire. For this task, high-explosive fragmentation projectiles are usually used. This requires the use of special guidance devices – an azimuth pointer and a side level. The use of modern technologies, in the form of graphic and calculation complexes, developed in Ukraine with the function of automated transmission of information to other tanks participating in the combat mission, made it possible to achieve high accuracy at distances of up to 10 km and reduced the time for calculating fire corrections to a few seconds. This technique blurs the line between tanks and artillery. The value of this technique is that it allows tanks to concentrate fire over a wide area while they can manoeuvre without the protection and screening needed by artillery pieces.

Page 25: The poor Russian battle damage assessment process made the Russian military highly vulnerable to deception, which has been consistent throughout the conflict. Early strikes on Ukrainian airfields, for example, destroyed many hangars. By photographing this damage and printing the resulting pattern on to sheets, it became possible to clear the rubble and erect covers for aircraft to return to the site, sheltering in positions that the Russians would confirm as destroyed. This led – somewhat amusingly – to the Russians debating whether Ukrainian fighter aircraft were operating from subterranean shelters at several sites.

Page 28, on the Russian advance from the north towards Kiev: These troops were largely moving in administrative formations. They lacked a clear understanding of where they were. Whole towns did not exist when the maps they were using were made. [...] Another example of the problem was that Russian units would arrive in towns and begin to try to engage with the civilian population to understand where they were. Their position would be reported and the Russian unit would be engaged with artillery.

Page 37: Despite the importance of UAVs to remaining competitive, their attrition rates were extremely high. Of all UAVs used by the UAF in the first three phases of the war covered by this study, around 90% were destroyed. The average life expectancy of a quadcopter remained around three flights. The average life expectancy of a fixed-wing UAV was around six flights. [...] In aggregate, only around a third of UAV missions can be said to have been successful.

Page 50: However, when Ukrainian forces struck the cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea with Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles on 13 April 2022 there was no indication that its radar was operating. This was supposed to be the central ISTAR node for the air defence of the Black Sea Fleet, yet despite being in an active warzone, the ship’s primary sensors were not on. Nor was this an isolated incident. Russian aviation, shot down over Ukraine, has been found on more than one occasion to have its radar in the stowed position, with safety covers over primary sensors. [...] Russian air defences have regularly engaged friendly aircraft. When Russian troops deviate from their assigned axes or the timing of their actions becomes desynchronised, they are often bracketed by their own artillery. Russian units in complex terrain have also become embroiled in exchanges of fire between one another’s positions.

Page 51, on electronic warfare: For example, the Khibiny EW pod, mounted to a number of Russian aircraft, automatically detects radars and disrupts them. Unfortunately for the Russians, it tends to also do this to other Russian aircraft.
 

jpr9954

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1670076163927.png
 

Longdrive

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BIDEN Administration LACKS diversity!!!
Have you noticed all the attention that Males dressing up as Females get??
There's that clown that was made an Admiral and wears a skirt;
Then there's the guy that stole the woman's suitcase, shaved everything visible, singlehandedly causes spikes in Revlon stock from his makeup
The guy that is proud of his silicon boobs and says the bulge in his crotch is normal for a woman
In addition to these individuals there the widespread Drag Queen events of guys pretending to be women.


So do you see the problem????

Where are all the Women that pretend to be Men? The Stag Kings?

the Bidet better get with the program or he'll be getting a great backlash.
The new Tik Tok Star, Saw it this morning. I felt sick instantly.
 

fourfive8

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I saw that the drag whatever Samuela B. got arrested the other day lifting some lady’s bag from an airport bag claim. What a freak show. People see it every day since well before FJB Brandon got elected but they continue to vote as they always have.

Then I made the mistake of listening to about 20 seconds of H Big O campaigning for Warnock the othe day. Almost shot the radio. I cannot tell the diff between Warnock, Big O and Wright. They sound the same, with the same GD America message. And people will also vote for that. Heaven help us
 
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Doug3006

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Sam Binton’s case is so frustrating! There are more than a few of us on AH who have held secret clearances, having been in the military or in the defense industry. The government does not hand them out like candy! “It” most certainly has one as deputy assistant secretary of spent fuel and waste disposition in the Office of Nuclear Energy at DOE. They do extensive background checks. They have excluded people based on far less concerning issues than Sam obviously has. How a bat-shit crazy character like Binton got a clearance is so farcical I can’t stand it. He and his partner self-reportedly role play being animals leading each other around on leashes!
 

CoElkHunter

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I don't have TikTok, Apple, Tweet, etc; so could you give a ClifNotes version?
Just watch a rerun of a Three Stooges episode and it'll all become crystal clear to you. LOL
 

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In defense of the defense industry.

For most of my lifetime, one of the undebatable beliefs of the left was with respect to the inherent evils of the the US military and its partner in international crime - the defense industry. It was given the attributes of a colossal, single minded entity capable of leading the nation into war for its own gain. No one ever produced any actual evidence of that, but from the late sixties, the left believed it with the sort of fervor they now reserve for climate change and pronouns.

The catalyst, of course, was the Vietnam War coupled with a belief on the left that the fine over enthusiastic socialist fellow travelers in the Soviet Union weren't really the threat the right claimed they represented. The very success of deterrence was touted as the reason it wasn't needed - a circular argument often aimed at NATO as well.

Following that war, the American military and the industry that served it entered a period reassessment on the one hand and economic driven reorganization and consolidation on the other. Fortunately, as the decade came to an end, a post-Vietnam generation of leaders began to exercise authority and vision in the services. An all volunteer force introduced a level of professionalism only dreamed of in previous decades (and somewhat contrary to American faith in its citizen army). That quiet revolution was quickly allied with an equally visionary new administration determined to fully reconstitute a post Vietnam American military.

For all too brief a period, during the Reagan administration, we had a President, with a very capable set of advisors who understood the value an unassailable deterrent meant to the general welfare of the United States and its allies. Reagan did the sort of modernization of the American armed forces that Donald Trump largely talked about. The left continued to undermine that effort where possible, but unlike today, defense initiatives gained the support of moderate democrats as well as the Republican party.

Sometimes we forget that modernization wasn't simply a series of defense appropriations, but was the work of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated citizen patriots who, working with the services, developed that war winning materiel. The Army was in particularly bad shape. New programs such as the M1 Abrams, the M2 Bradley, the AH 64 Apache, and the UH 60 Blackhawk still form the backbone of the force four decades later. A discussion for later.

Thankfully, that military establishment never had to demonstrate its capabilities against the Red Army. Though during the First Gulf War, which was in large measure the last hurrah of that Cold War military structure, it showed its technical and professional overmatch of the Russian equipped and trained Iraqi Army.

The ensuing search for a post-Soviet "peace dividend" saw a significant slashing or lengthening of many programs. A classic example of the effect this can have on price was Northrop's B2 bomber. Originally. conceived against a 200+ fleet requirement, only 20 were built during the nearly two decades it took for Northrop to get a final production configuration from the Air Force. Needless to say technology exploded over that period causing continuous changes to the eventual aircraft and dramatic increases in the scope of the contract - both resulted in further extensions and delays. Yes, it is a nearly two billion dollar bomber when purchased 10 years later than planed with one tenth the number of aircraft. Interestingly, Northrop Grumman and the Air Force rolled out the first prototype of its successor, the B-21 Raider yesterday after a relatively short development begun with contract award in 2015. There will be a hundred - it is undetectable and can penetrate any airspace on the planet - with or without a crew.

Dozens of other programs went through similar cost growth and requirement creep and subsequent delays in or cancelation of actual production or acquisition.

Unlike the mythical monolithic warmongering beast feared by the left, the defense corporations are, like every other publicly traded company, owned by the shareholders. Rather than worrying about starting wars, business leaders were worried about quarterly earnings, acquisitions (contract awards), program performance, and backlog. Preserving programs - awarded contracts - became a critical function in a world of shrinking (in real terms) defense dollars.

As the post-Reagan and Soviet era dawned, domestic initiatives of every type demanded their share of the peace dividend. Protection of existing programs and the few new modernization efforts on the horizon became a key component of every defense company's strategy. Many failed and consolidation of the sector followed. The surviving corporations invested in congressional engagement teams. Those specialists briefed staffers and members on programs, offered assessments of acquisition plans, and contributed legally to the campaigns of both parties - No one walked the halls of Congress with bags of cash or advocated for war. Rather, the industry behaved exactly like every other large publicly owned production sector in the country.

This era of survival ended abruptly with 9-11, though the two decades it ushered in were also very different from the Cold War. The planning and leadership of the Al Qaeda terrorist network was located in Afghanistan. The Clinton administration had made a desultory strike at its infrastructure with cruise missiles in August of 1998. True destruction of the network and training bases following the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon would necessitate a physical incursion by US ground forces. There was little debate with the regard of the necessity of that operation on either side of the aisle.

However, a curious new force had emerged with the new century, and gained tremendous traction within the Bush administration. Now termed Neo-Cons, this new group of domestic conservatives but international activists seemed to embrace all the wrong lessons from Vietnam. The notion of nation building and the lure of preemptive war seemed apparently irresistible. The invasion of Iraq, which very few in the military understood, was initiated for dubious reasons at best and nothing to do with 9-11. Both it and Afghanistan became quagmires as military objectives were abandoned for ever more nebulous political goals.

Interestingly, for the Defense industry as a whole, it became a period of great uncertainty. Yes, ammunition manufacturers like ATK did well, and General Dynamics and BAE had steady business repairing and modifying tanks and armored fighting vehicles. But much of the budget was used operationally for huge quick fix acquisitions like MRAP vehicles to protect against IEDs and for non-standard light armored vehicles provided to both countries. Except for the Air Force / Navy fighter programs (F-22 and F-35) and the new Virginia class submarine, major new programs languished. As I noted earlier, the Army is still operating 40 year old platforms. The average AH-64 is older than the Lieutenant Colonel commanding the unit, much less the young warrant officers piloting most of them. The point being, it was hardly an environment that the major defense companies would have wished for even if they had the power envisioned by Robert Kennedy, George McGovern, or their long-haired FM loving acolytes.

As they had under Clinton, the major industry players used their Congressional outreach efforts to try to protect programs, particularly as defense oversight shifted to the Obama administration. Major players like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman shifted more and more of their efforts to space - military, intel, and NASA.

The emergence of the Trump movement, brought a new political force to the table that had been largely quiescent since 1941. The "America First" movement, originally perceived as simply having the laudable goal of pursuing national interests, gradually morphed into a isolationist movement that seems to find no national interests anywhere beyond the nation's shores. Interestingly, this was not a foreign policy which Trump actually followed, but has emerged subsequent to his administration. It is also somewhat humorous that the isolationists, representing the farther right edges of the conservative movement, have now taken up the mantel of opposition to the perceived evils of American military and defense corporate leadership - replacing their alter egos in the radical left.

Fortunately for the country, both the American military and the defense industry that supports it continue to soldier on, producing the most lethal and effective armaments of any nation on the planet. The success of both continue to fuel the arguments against their need. Like the title character in Kipling's poem "Tommy" both tend to be despised or criticized by all too many until they are needed.

A last comment about the defense industry hiring people out of the military - the supposedly evil revolving door. Software, hardware, and systems engineers are easy to find. So are accountants, business managers, and HR mavens. But the products the defense industry builds require specialized knowledge as well. The latest communications idea, fighting vehicle, helmet, or death ray is useless unless it is created with a full understanding how it will be used in the field. The cockpit design for an attack helicopter or fighter is somewhat different than a commercial airliner. Experienced, former soldiers, airmen, and naval personal are a key component to insure the quality of those designs.

Additionally, former NCOs and officers have tremendous leadership and to use a civilian term, managerial, skills and experience. They understand schedule and budget, and they can execute to a mission statement. Placed in a competitive corporate environment, many prosper and competently take the reins of various businesses in the larger corporate organization. This is a win for the company, for its shareholders and the customer.

Still other senior retirees become consultants. Well duh. If I am a business leader preparing a five volume highly competitive proposal valued at $350-500 million, then I would be not merely foolish but failing in my responsibilities to my shareholders not to avail myself of whatever expertise is available to put my proposal in the best light. This is not some evil collusion, but rather perfectly legal business 101 and is exercised in every other form of competitive corporate competition.

I would suggest that the defense industry and the customers it serves will be around for as long as we are a world power. For all its waste, most politically rather than performance driven, it is providing the American military with finest combat tools on the planet. We have barely lifted the corner of the blanket in Ukraine. The people who work for that industry have a strong belief in the value of their efforts, the quality of their products, and a love for the country for which those products are produced. Their loudest critics are inevitably those who seem to know the least about them or their businesses.
 
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Jfet

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I had to go look it up. Kipling’s poem Tommy

 

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In defense of the defense industry.

For most of my lifetime, one of the undebatable beliefs of the left was with respect to the inherent evils of the the US military and its partner in international crime - the defense industry. It was given the attributes of a colossal, single minded entity capable of leading the nation into war for its own gain. No one ever produced any actual evidence of that, but from the late sixties, the left believed it with the sort of fervor they now reserve for climate change and pronouns.

The catalyst, of course, was the Vietnam War coupled with a belief on the left that the fine over enthusiastic socialist fellow travelers in the Soviet Union weren't really the threat the right claimed they represented. The very success of deterrence was touted as the reason it wasn't needed - a circular argument often aimed at NATO as well.

Following that war, the American military and the industry that served it entered a period reassessment on the one hand and economic driven reorganization and consolidation on the other. Fortunately, as the decade came to an end, a post-Vietnam generation of leaders began to exercise authority and vision in the services. An all volunteer force introduced a level of professionalism only dreamed of in previous decades (and somewhat contrary to American faith in its citizen army). That quiet revolution was quickly allied with an equally visionary new administration determined to fully reconstitute a post Vietnam American military.

For all too brief a period, during the Reagan administration, we had a President, with a very capable set of advisors who understood the value an unassailable deterrent meant to the general welfare of the United States and its allies. Reagan did the sort of modernization of the American armed forces that Donald Trump largely talked about. The left continued to undermine that effort where possible, but unlike today, defense initiatives gained the support of moderate democrats as well as the Republican party.

Sometimes we forget that modernization wasn't simply a series of defense appropriations, but was the work of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated citizen patriots who, working with the services, developed that war winning materiel. The Army was in particularly bad shape. New programs such as the M1 Abrams, the M2 Bradley, the AH 64 Apache, and the UH 60 Blackhawk still form the backbone of the force four decades later. A discussion for later.

Thankfully, that military establishment never had to demonstrate its capabilities against the Red Army. Though during the First Gulf War, which was in large measure the last hurrah of that Cold War military structure, it showed its technical and professional overmatch of the Russian equipped and trained Iraqi Army.

The ensuing search for a post-Soviet "peace dividend" saw a significant slashing or lengthening of many programs. A classic example of the effect this can have on price was Northrop's B2 bomber. Originally. conceived against a 200+ fleet requirement, only 20 were built during the nearly two decades it took for Northrop to get a final production configuration from the Air Force. Needless to say technology exploded over that period causing continuous changes to the eventual aircraft and dramatic increases in the scope of the contract - both resulted in further extensions and delays. Yes, it is a nearly two billion dollar bomber when purchased 10 years later than planed with one tenth the number of aircraft. Interestingly, Northrop Grumman and the Air Force rolled out the first prototype of its successor, the B-21 Raider yesterday after a relatively short development begun with contract award in 2015. There will be a hundred - it is undetectable and can penetrate any airspace on the planet - with or without a crew.

Dozens of other programs went through similar cost growth and requirement creep and subsequent delays in or cancelation of actual production or acquisition.

Unlike the mythical monolithic warmongering beast feared by the left, the defense corporations are, like every other publicly traded company, owned by the shareholders. Rather than worrying about starting wars, business leaders were worried about quarterly earnings, acquisitions (contract awards), program performance, and backlog. Preserving programs - awarded contracts - became a critical function in a world of shrinking (in real terms) defense dollars.

As the post-Reagan and Soviet era dawned, domestic initiatives of every type demanded their share of the peace dividend. Protection of existing programs and the few new modernization efforts on the horizon became a key component of every defense company's strategy. Many failed and consolidation of the sector followed. The surviving corporations invested in congressional engagement teams. Those specialists briefed staffers and members on programs, offered assessments of acquisition plans, and contributed legally to the campaigns of both parties - No one walked the halls of Congress with bags of cash or advocated for war. Rather, the industry behaved exactly like every other large publicly owned production sector in the country.

This era of survival ended abruptly with 9-11, though the two decades it ushered in were also very different from the Cold War. The planning and leadership of the Al Qaeda terrorist network was located in Afghanistan. The Clinton administration had made a desultory strike at its infrastructure with cruise missiles in August of 1998. True destruction of the network and training bases following the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon would necessitate a physical incursion by US ground forces. There was little debate with the regard of the necessity of that operation on either side of the aisle.

However, a curious new force had emerged with the new century, and gained tremendous traction within the Bush administration. Now termed Neo-Cons, this new group of domestic conservatives but international activists seemed to embrace all the wrong lessons from Vietnam. The notion of nation building and the lure of preemptive war seemed apparently irresistible. The invasion of Iraq, which very few in the military understood, was initiated for dubious reasons at best and nothing to do with 9-11. Both it and Afghanistan became quagmires as military objectives were abandoned for ever more nebulous political goals.

Interestingly, for the Defense industry as a whole, it became a period of great uncertainty. Yes, ammunition manufacturers like ATK did well, and General Dynamics and BAE had steady business repairing and modifying tanks and armored fighting vehicles. But much of the budget was used operationally for huge quick fix acquisitions like MRAP vehicles to protect against IEDs and for non-standard light armored vehicles provided to both countries. Except for the Air Force / Navy fighter programs (F-22 and F-35) and the new Virginia class submarine, major new programs languished. As I noted earlier, the Army is still operating 40 year old platforms. The average AH-64 is older than the Lieutenant Colonel commanding the unit, much less the young warrant officers piloting most of them. The point being, it was hardly an environment that the major defense companies would have wished for even if they had the power envisioned by Robert Kennedy, George McGovern, or their long-haired FM loving acolytes.

As they had under Clinton, the major industry players used their Congressional outreach efforts to try to protect programs, particularly as defense oversight shifted to the Obama administration. Major players like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman shifted more and more of their efforts to space - military, intel, and NASA.

The emergence of the Trump movement, brought a new political force to the table that had been largely quiescent since 1941. The "America First" movement, originally perceived as simply having the laudable goal of pursuing national interests, gradually morphed into a isolationist movement that seems to find no national interests anywhere beyond the nation's shores. Interestingly, this was not a foreign policy which Trump actually followed, but has emerged subsequent to his administration. It is also somewhat humorous that the isolationists, representing the farther right edges of the conservative movement, have now taken up the mantel of opposition to the perceived evils of American military and defense corporate leadership - replacing their alter egos in the radical left.

Fortunately for the country, both the American military and the defense industry that supports it continue to soldier on, producing the most lethal and effective armaments of any nation on the planet. The success of both continue to fuel the arguments against their need. Like the title character in Kipling's poem "Tommy" both tend to be despised or criticized by all too many until they are needed.

A last comment about the defense industry hiring people out of the military - the supposedly evil revolving door. Software, hardware, and systems engineers are easy to find. So are accountants, business managers, and HR mavens. But the products the defense industry builds require specialized knowledge as well. The latest communications idea, fighting vehicle, helmet, or death ray is useless unless it is created with a full understanding how it will be used in the field. The cockpit design for an attack helicopter or fighter is somewhat different than a commercial airliner. Experienced, former soldiers, airmen, and naval personal are a key component to insure the quality of those designs.

Additionally, former NCOs and officers have tremendous leadership and to use a civilian term, managerial, skills and experience. They understand schedule and budget, and they can execute to a mission statement. Placed in a competitive corporate environment, many prosper and competently take the reins of various businesses in the larger corporate organization. This is a win for the company, for its shareholders and the customer.

Still other senior retirees become consultants. Well duh. If I am a business leader preparing a five volume highly competitive proposal valued at $350-500 million, then I would be not merely foolish but failing in my responsibilities to my shareholders not to avail myself of whatever expertise is available to put my proposal in the best light. This is not some evil collusion, but rather perfectly legal business 101 and is exercised in every other form of competitive corporate competition.

I would suggest that the defense industry and the customers it serves will be around for as long as we are a world power. For all its waste, most politically rather than performance driven, it is providing the American military with finest combat tools on the planet. We have barely lifted the corner of the blanket in Ukraine. The people who work for that industry have a strong belief in the value of their efforts, the quality of their products, and a love for the country for which those products are produced. Their loudest critics are inevitably those who seem to know the least about them or their businesses.

Very well written. Why would you want someone with actual experience in weapon systems as a consultant versus someone with a vast background in cell phones and laptops? :)

I would offer this one point of rebuttal. The engineers you mention being easy to find…..maybe a number of years ago, not even close at the current moment. Trust me on this one, my group is running as a skeleton crew and isn’t because we don’t have open reqs. We do, but we can’t find those engineers with the needed skills to fill the positions. We’d be in even worse shape if we did hire them and had to run behind them correcting their errors.

But it is absolutely spot on that engineers without the “use” experience need to be paired with those who do. The problem is those former pilots, tankers and naval operators don’t bring the experience of actual development of a system. Combine the two however and you have a formidable team. We have a term for it, it’s called VOC, short for Voice of the Customer. If the development engineers actually understand what the VOC is saying and understanding what the end use requirements actually are, they will develop a better system and do so much more quickly.
 

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I had to go look it up. Kipling’s poem Tommy


There’s a lot of truth in that poem!
 

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In defense of the defense industry.

For most of my lifetime, one of the undebatable beliefs of the left was with respect to the inherent evils of the the US military and its partner in international crime - the defense industry. It was given the attributes of a colossal, single minded entity capable of leading the nation into war for its own gain. No one ever produced any actual evidence of that, but from the late sixties, the left believed it with the sort of fervor they now reserve for climate change and pronouns.

The catalyst, of course, was the Vietnam War coupled with a belief on the left that the fine over enthusiastic socialist fellow travelers in the Soviet Union weren't really the threat the right claimed they represented. The very success of deterrence was touted as the reason it wasn't needed - a circular argument often aimed at NATO as well.

Following that war, the American military and the industry that served it entered a period reassessment on the one hand and economic driven reorganization and consolidation on the other. Fortunately, as the decade came to an end, a post-Vietnam generation of leaders began to exercise authority and vision in the services. An all volunteer force introduced a level of professionalism only dreamed of in previous decades (and somewhat contrary to American faith in its citizen army). That quiet revolution was quickly allied with an equally visionary new administration determined to fully reconstitute a post Vietnam American military.

For all too brief a period, during the Reagan administration, we had a President, with a very capable set of advisors who understood the value an unassailable deterrent meant to the general welfare of the United States and its allies. Reagan did the sort of modernization of the American armed forces that Donald Trump largely talked about. The left continued to undermine that effort where possible, but unlike today, defense initiatives gained the support of moderate democrats as well as the Republican party.

Sometimes we forget that modernization wasn't simply a series of defense appropriations, but was the work of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated citizen patriots who, working with the services, developed that war winning materiel. The Army was in particularly bad shape. New programs such as the M1 Abrams, the M2 Bradley, the AH 64 Apache, and the UH 60 Blackhawk still form the backbone of the force four decades later. A discussion for later.

Thankfully, that military establishment never had to demonstrate its capabilities against the Red Army. Though during the First Gulf War, which was in large measure the last hurrah of that Cold War military structure, it showed its technical and professional overmatch of the Russian equipped and trained Iraqi Army.

The ensuing search for a post-Soviet "peace dividend" saw a significant slashing or lengthening of many programs. A classic example of the effect this can have on price was Northrop's B2 bomber. Originally. conceived against a 200+ fleet requirement, only 20 were built during the nearly two decades it took for Northrop to get a final production configuration from the Air Force. Needless to say technology exploded over that period causing continuous changes to the eventual aircraft and dramatic increases in the scope of the contract - both resulted in further extensions and delays. Yes, it is a nearly two billion dollar bomber when purchased 10 years later than planed with one tenth the number of aircraft. Interestingly, Northrop Grumman and the Air Force rolled out the first prototype of its successor, the B-21 Raider yesterday after a relatively short development begun with contract award in 2015. There will be a hundred - it is undetectable and can penetrate any airspace on the planet - with or without a crew.

Dozens of other programs went through similar cost growth and requirement creep and subsequent delays in or cancelation of actual production or acquisition.

Unlike the mythical monolithic warmongering beast feared by the left, the defense corporations are, like every other publicly traded company, owned by the shareholders. Rather than worrying about starting wars, business leaders were worried about quarterly earnings, acquisitions (contract awards), program performance, and backlog. Preserving programs - awarded contracts - became a critical function in a world of shrinking (in real terms) defense dollars.

As the post-Reagan and Soviet era dawned, domestic initiatives of every type demanded their share of the peace dividend. Protection of existing programs and the few new modernization efforts on the horizon became a key component of every defense company's strategy. Many failed and consolidation of the sector followed. The surviving corporations invested in congressional engagement teams. Those specialists briefed staffers and members on programs, offered assessments of acquisition plans, and contributed legally to the campaigns of both parties - No one walked the halls of Congress with bags of cash or advocated for war. Rather, the industry behaved exactly like every other large publicly owned production sector in the country.

This era of survival ended abruptly with 9-11, though the two decades it ushered in were also very different from the Cold War. The planning and leadership of the Al Qaeda terrorist network was located in Afghanistan. The Clinton administration had made a desultory strike at its infrastructure with cruise missiles in August of 1998. True destruction of the network and training bases following the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon would necessitate a physical incursion by US ground forces. There was little debate with the regard of the necessity of that operation on either side of the aisle.

However, a curious new force had emerged with the new century, and gained tremendous traction within the Bush administration. Now termed Neo-Cons, this new group of domestic conservatives but international activists seemed to embrace all the wrong lessons from Vietnam. The notion of nation building and the lure of preemptive war seemed apparently irresistible. The invasion of Iraq, which very few in the military understood, was initiated for dubious reasons at best and nothing to do with 9-11. Both it and Afghanistan became quagmires as military objectives were abandoned for ever more nebulous political goals.

Interestingly, for the Defense industry as a whole, it became a period of great uncertainty. Yes, ammunition manufacturers like ATK did well, and General Dynamics and BAE had steady business repairing and modifying tanks and armored fighting vehicles. But much of the budget was used operationally for huge quick fix acquisitions like MRAP vehicles to protect against IEDs and for non-standard light armored vehicles provided to both countries. Except for the Air Force / Navy fighter programs (F-22 and F-35) and the new Virginia class submarine, major new programs languished. As I noted earlier, the Army is still operating 40 year old platforms. The average AH-64 is older than the Lieutenant Colonel commanding the unit, much less the young warrant officers piloting most of them. The point being, it was hardly an environment that the major defense companies would have wished for even if they had the power envisioned by Robert Kennedy, George McGovern, or their long-haired FM loving acolytes.

As they had under Clinton, the major industry players used their Congressional outreach efforts to try to protect programs, particularly as defense oversight shifted to the Obama administration. Major players like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman shifted more and more of their efforts to space - military, intel, and NASA.

The emergence of the Trump movement, brought a new political force to the table that had been largely quiescent since 1941. The "America First" movement, originally perceived as simply having the laudable goal of pursuing national interests, gradually morphed into a isolationist movement that seems to find no national interests anywhere beyond the nation's shores. Interestingly, this was not a foreign policy which Trump actually followed, but has emerged subsequent to his administration. It is also somewhat humorous that the isolationists, representing the farther right edges of the conservative movement, have now taken up the mantel of opposition to the perceived evils of American military and defense corporate leadership - replacing their alter egos in the radical left.

Fortunately for the country, both the American military and the defense industry that supports it continue to soldier on, producing the most lethal and effective armaments of any nation on the planet. The success of both continue to fuel the arguments against their need. Like the title character in Kipling's poem "Tommy" both tend to be despised or criticized by all too many until they are needed.

A last comment about the defense industry hiring people out of the military - the supposedly evil revolving door. Software, hardware, and systems engineers are easy to find. So are accountants, business managers, and HR mavens. But the products the defense industry builds require specialized knowledge as well. The latest communications idea, fighting vehicle, helmet, or death ray is useless unless it is created with a full understanding how it will be used in the field. The cockpit design for an attack helicopter or fighter is somewhat different than a commercial airliner. Experienced, former soldiers, airmen, and naval personal are a key component to insure the quality of those designs.

Additionally, former NCOs and officers have tremendous leadership and to use a civilian term, managerial, skills and experience. They understand schedule and budget, and they can execute to a mission statement. Placed in a competitive corporate environment, many prosper and competently take the reins of various businesses in the larger corporate organization. This is a win for the company, for its shareholders and the customer.

Still other senior retirees become consultants. Well duh. If I am a business leader preparing a five volume highly competitive proposal valued at $350-500 million, then I would be not merely foolish but failing in my responsibilities to my shareholders not to avail myself of whatever expertise is available to put my proposal in the best light. This is not some evil collusion, but rather perfectly legal business 101 and is exercised in every other form of competitive corporate competition.

I would suggest that the defense industry and the customers it serves will be around for as long as we are a world power. For all its waste, most politically rather than performance driven, it is providing the American military with finest combat tools on the planet. We have barely lifted the corner of the blanket in Ukraine. The people who work for that industry have a strong belief in the value of their efforts, the quality of their products, and a love for the country for which those products are produced. Their loudest critics are inevitably those who seem to know the least about them or their businesses.
“The very success of deterrence was touted as the reason it wasn't needed…”

The obsurdity of that reality is beyond frustrating. It would be humorous if not it wasn’t so dangerous. Much like it’s civilian “mini-me”…a part of the population that believes that police departments need to go away. Then when someone with a brain kicks them in the balls, they dial 911 and expect the uniform to be there within seconds to save them.

As a youngster of 9 or 10 yrs old, I adored the old fart that lived next door to my grandparents so I dropped in whenever I could sneak away. He was a wealth of information, telling me stories from his trapping and hunting days. He was also regarded by most as “a bit off” because as long as anyone could remember, he carried a 44 on his hip at all times. But my Dad knew him well so I was ok.
I’ll never forget sitting on his front steps with him one day when another neighbor stopped on the sidewalk and asked him why he always had that hogleg with him. His response was “Well, I reckon the bigger the gun and the more visible ya make it, the less apt ya are ta hafta fire the thing.” The neighbor said, “You mean you’ve had trouble enough to need it?!!” He said, “Nope, kinda the point ain’t it?”
After the neighbor strolled off shaking his head, he winked at me, whispered that he “ain’t loaded it in near 20 years but ain’t nobody need to know that”, and held a finger to his lips. Classic.
 

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