Showing posts with label Defense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Defense. Show all posts

September 22, 2019

Rambo Is Back



I got my tickets for this today. 

Can't wait to see it!

Rambo says:
"You started this; I'll end it!"

Justice, justice shalt thou pursue.  ;-)
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February 10, 2019

The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 

The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one's country. 

Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 

While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 

Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 

But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:

- From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  

- With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 

- Just recently, we've seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 

- We have also seen many years of pay freezes--with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!

- The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 

- Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 

- There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 

- Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of "conduct" issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.

- The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 

While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 

For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 

Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country--from the front lines to the back offices--we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 13, 2018

10-Steps To Common Sense Defense


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 12, 2018

Why Isn't The U.S. Keeping Up Militarily?


The United States is ranked as the most powerful country in the world:



But the U.S. spends more than the next 7-8 countries COMBINED!(See below chart from Forbes 2016)


In fact, military spending is more than half of all U.S. federal discretionary spending. 

So the question is why are we spending so much more than everybody else, is the United States getting its money's worth, and most importantly are we able to defend ourselves? 

The U.S. defense budget is going up and has been approved at $717B for 2019. 

All the other 28 NATO countries together spend less than half ($296B) as much as the U.S. alone. 

If you add NATO spending as a complement to the U.S. then the total spend on our mutual defense approaches $1 trillion!

Russia ($69B) China ($146B), North Korea ($6B), and Iran's ($16B) military spending in total pales in comparison at just $237B.

NATO as a whole is outspending Russia + China + North Korea + Iran by a factor of 4 times yet these countries are still considered major threats to us!

Despite all the truly incredible brave, hard working, and excellent men and women that serve with distinction in our military, 

Therefore, again why is it that the U.S. is spending more on what others seem to get for cheaper?  Is there significant fraud, waste, and abuse in the system?  Are we as a rich capitalistic nation simply getting fat, lazy, and stupid?  

Notwithstanding the outsized spending by the United States, incredibly from today's Wall Street Journal, there is another article about our inability to defend ourselves:
"These are admissions that the U.S. cannot proportionally and equally defend itself in space, cyber, and response to tactical and nuclear weapons except through the threat of escalation and intrusion into other domains."
Some poignant examples given:

- Our stationary land-based nuclear missiles are no match for Russia and China's mobile-based ICBMs.

- Our ten busiest U.S. ports do not have an adequate defense against an underwater nuclear missile launch.

China and Russia variously are beating us out in:
  • Quantum Communications
  • Anti-Satellite Weapons
  • Directed Energy 
  • Hypersonics 

In fact, it was just reported that China conducted its 8th hypersonic test of a plane--with this one said to capable of Mach 10--and that it is capable of carrying nukes! 

Further, our carrier group fleet and land forces are at risk with respect to Russia and China's hypersonic weapons.

Of course, EMP weapons can fry our electrical grid and a large cyber attack could disable our critical infrastructure.

Let's not even talk bioweapons--think Black Plague from the Middle Ages that wiped out 30-60% of Europe. 

Yes, some of these are asymmetric warfare, but why are we still thinking and fighting so kinetic and conventionally. 

If we are fighting the wars of yesteryear instead of the battles of today and the threats of tomorrow then what good is our military investments and assets.

To become a more capable fighting force that is less vulnerable, more capable of defending this country, and making better use of our large investment dollars here are 10-steps we need to take to transform our military; we need to transition as follows:

  1. From static land-based nuclear missiles to a fully mobile platform.
  2. From vulnerable fleets of large ships and planes to "unstoppable" swarms of miniaturized lethal drones. 
  3. From a preponderance of earth-based kinetic weapons to space-based energy directed weapons. 
  4. From having to generally choose between speed or power to using the power of speed as an "unstoppable" force of nature. 
  5. From projecting a time and space bound visible presence to a persistent invisible existence.
  6. From attempting to defend limited points of presence to establishing a "impenetrable" umbrella shield of multi-layered defenses.
  7. From reactively identifying and stopping cyber threats to proactively hunting and destroying them. 
  8. From knee-jerk instinctive putting of human lives in harm's way to matter-of-factly sending milbots (military robots) to the front lines. 
  9. From relying on the heroics and genius of individual human brainpower to harnessing in realtime "the collective" augmented by artificial intelligence into a hive.
  10. From relying on escalation of a "bigger, badder gun" to being able to fight capably in every battle arena, win in each and dominate holistically. 

Over $700B per year should buy us a lot of defense, hopefully in the future we can really use it to defend ourselves. ;-)
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August 6, 2018

A Three-Party System

Yeah, these signs say a lot about our two-party system of government. 
"Republican: Because everyone can't be on welfare."

"Democrat: Because everyone can't be greedy."

Sort of the age old story of competing interests. 

Certainly also a good dose of Fear vs. Greed. 

And where the rich get richer and the poor get welfare.

It's good to have the 2 extremes of the political thinking spectrum, because it shows us perhaps where the middle is. 

Neither extreme is good, but rather it's a balancing act. 

We can't have more than 50% of the wealth owned by the top 1% of the people. 

And we can't have everyone on entitlements where no one is working, innovating, and producing. 

Yes of course, some people will have more than others and some people will need help. 

There needs to be motivation to "get ahead" and there must be a social safety net for when bad things happen. 

This is life.

But the to extent that we can have the most people in respectable jobs earning a reasonable (true living) wage and that there is equitable prosperity to go around for everyone--this is ideal.

Really 2-parties is not enough, because extremes tend to get more extreme--this is the momentum of polarization and politicization until the extremes tear us apart. 

Instead we need a strong centrist party (or parties)--that can not only play to, but also execute the middle of the road approach. 

It's not all or nothing, but rather compromise to a logical and reasonable solution on every issue. 

No, we don't want to get rid of ICE, and we don't want open borders. 

No we don't want entitlements that bankrupt the nation, and we don't want people down on their luck going needy. 

No, we don't want women who have been raped or incested or otherwise can't raise their children being forced to have them, and we don't want babies being murdered in the late stages of pregnancy. 

No we don't want to blow up the planet, and we don't want our enemies besting us. 

We don't want pollution in our air, water, and streets, and we don't want to strangle the economy with endless and mindless regulation. 

And on and on. 

It's high time to move to the center where common sense reigns.

It overdue to have a legitimate 3+ party system that talks real solutions to the people. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 18, 2017

Don't Upset The Barista

Interesting sticker on this guy's smartphone this morning:
"Guns and Coffee"

And the Starbucks mermaid in the center is packing two pistols in her hands, instead of the usual fishy fins. 

Now the good thing about this particular guy was that he was also wearing a lapel pin from a prominent law enforcement agency here in Washington, D.C., so that was comforting. 

I've heard about the economic trade-off ("opportunity costs") between "Guns and Butter," meaning how much we choose to budget for defense vs. civilian goods/social entitlements.

But this is novel--"Guns and Coffee"--I guess you can have your coffee and your 2nd Amendment rights as well. 

What happens if you haven't had your coffee yet, does the little mermaid shoot first and ask questions later? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 5, 2017

Polarized and Not Going To Take It Anymore

So they say about Washington politics, "if you're not on offense, then you're on defense."

In the polarized mood of the nation, this has never been more true. 

The alt-left and alt-right are stronger than ever and pointing fingers and fists at one another. 

Each side, the ultra -liberals and -conservatives are duking it out over who is is going on the offensive today.

Only to be outmaneuvered the very next day and be placed back on the defensive. 

Who communicated with the Russians today?

Who used their private email today?

Who committed perjury and lied under oath today?

Who was offensive and even violent at rallies and protests today? 

And on and on...

You're either on offense or your stuck on defense!

And the more polarized and hateful of each other this nation has become, including in the media, the more the outrageous the accusations and the more alternate facts and fake news. 

But what I learned today is that this doesn't just apply to politics.

Religion is another prime source for discrimination and hate of your fellow man. 

I remember learning that over history, more people have died in wars in the name of religion than for any other reason.

So too today, the "crazy-hard line" ultra religious and the "throw-it-all away" irreligious are just as polarized. 

The religious mock the irreligious as self-haters and atheists and the irreligious make fun of the rightwing religious as abusive and robotic.

Moreover, any disagreement results in insults and loathing over who is morally superior.

Of course, everyone cites sources and authorities to show why their position is the correct one and everyone else is wrong about religion and G-d. 

Attack, defend, attack, defend. 

No wonder nothing is getting constructively done.

No wonder children are confused. 

No wonder those around us laugh at our seeming inability to come together, all as G-d's wonderful creatures. 

Who will be on the attack today and who will be on defense. 

If only we could have a panini instead of all this anger, hate, extremism, and rejectionist bias toward our fellow man. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 21, 2016

A New Diplomacy In Town

A wonderful colleague sent me this really impressive photo.

This was one of my favorite of 3 aircraft carrier strike groups taken together (Abraham Lincoln, Kitty Hawk, and Ronald Reagan)--the 1st and the 3rd of which are Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarriers. 

According to the slides, there were literally 4 four nuclear submarines standing guard in the waters beneath, as well as a B-2 stealth bomber flying overhead.  

What I really liked the most though wasn't even the photos, but rather the motto for the carriers of:

"Over 90,000 tons of diplomacy...wherever... whenever..."

Diplomacy can be listening, negotiating, and compromise, but it can also be through the projection of the ultimate national and human strength. 

With a staggering rise in global terrorism, militaristic adventurism, and the proliferation of dangerous weapons of mass destruction, perhaps it's time to harden up on some of the soft power, and demonstrate as well the very credible hard power and resolve we have for protecting American lives, freedom, and human rights. ;-)

(Source Photo: here)

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August 20, 2015

Fist With Parachute

I took this photo in Miami yesterday.

A fist attached to a parachute. 

Sort of a strange image of strength, fighting, and resolve with making a safe landing. 

Perhaps that's the intersection of defense and diplomacy.

Where we employ soft and hard power to achieve worthy goals and follow one's moral compass. 

My grandfather used to joke that he would come with the big stick if anyone bothers us. 

He, like my dad, was a very good man! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 21, 2015

The Merkava IV With Anti-Missile System




I came across this video and photo online of the Israeli Mekava IV Tank with the Trophy Anti-Missile System. 

This tank looks so cool--a little fortress on treads. 

And with the Trophy system it can track and take out incoming missiles with a shotgun like blast. 

For a small country like Israel in the middle of a pretty bad and dangerous neighborhood--this is a necessity. 

Great for defending the Holy Land! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Michael Shvadron)
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January 19, 2015

Why Have We Gone Soft On Terror?

So today, we saw the movie American Sniper, which topped the long weekend box office with over $105 million in receipts.

Why are people loving this movie?


Because Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper) was a true patriot, and as a Navy Seal sniper fought the war on terror with 4 tours of duty overseas and over 160 confirmed kills.


Chris Kyle loved this country and what it stands for and he loved his fellow warfighters, who gave so much of themselves to protect this nation.


The people of our country are watching the world events unfold with one terrorist attack and atrocity after another...and they are aghast at how we have apparently gone soft when we are still at war!


- Iran misses deadline after deadline for disarming their nuclear WMD program, and rather than leading the charge on sanctions, instead there is a vow to veto both houses of Congress on any legislation that even threatens sanctions that would only take effect if they fail to reach a deal by the July 2015 deadline. 


- Al Qaeda conducts series of horrific terrorist attacks in Paris on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher grocery store, and 40 world leaders and millions of citizens come together for a Unity Rally, but our leadership bows out of attending, instead of being arm-in-arm with our allies such as France, Germany, England, and Israel.


- Hamas rains thousands of missiles indiscriminately on Israeli cities and digs terror tunnels to abduct and murder across the country, and in the ultimate hypocrisy of justice, the International Criminal Court protects the terrorists and investigates our ally for defending themselves in a 50-day war against those who vow to destroy them. 


- ISIS is capturing huge swaths of Iraq and Syria and is murdering and torturing the populace and beheading our journalists and aid workers and our response is tepid and inadequate. 


- The Taliban slaughter 145 mostly schoolchildren in Pakistan and where is our indignation?


- Boko Haram kidnaps hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls and they threaten to sell them and we hold up signs to "Bring Back Our Girls," but where is the action to actually free them. 


- With terrorists hunted down and captured--at great risk to our own military and intelligence men and women--and held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, instead of locking them up and throwing away the keys, we are releasing them, while many yet return to perform more terrorist activities against us.


These are just a few to mention...yet where is the outrage at all the ongoing terrorism around us? Where is the determined action to protect our people, freedom and democracy?


We need to honor those who fought for this country--like patriot Chris Kyle--and decisively win this war on terror. Anything less is a losing strategy. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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