April 1, 2011
Replanting ROTC

Your editorial on ROTC returning to prestigious schools was insightful and timely [“Editorial: Replanting ROTC,” February p. 4]. While I agree that your expectations of faculty reaction are unfortunately realistic, at least at Harvard, it appears that the administration and the students get it. In addition, it appears that our military leadership recognizes the importance of offering ROTC at prestigious school.

On Nov. 17, 2010, Harvard President Drew Faust and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen addressed this issue at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. President Faust made it clear that the end of DADT would enable her to move forward with re-establishing ROTC at Harvard. Admiral Mullen confirmed that “it is incredibly important to have ROTC units at institutions like this.”

On Jan. 31, 2011, the Harvard Crimson came out with an editorial in strong support of ROTC on campus, completely refuting the 1989 editorial. The Crimson’s Roving Reporter published a video of campus interviews with Harvard students which were overwhelmingly supportive of an ROTC presence on campus.

Finally, I’d like to point out a few of Harvard’s many historic contributions to the military. Its members have earned more Medals of Honor than any institution except USMA and USNA. Harvard men made several notable contributions to early military aviation. The first American fighter pilots were mercenaries in the French Foreign Legion, flying for the Lafayette Escadrille. The unit was founded by a Harvard graduate, and nine of the 38 pilots on the official roster attended Harvard. There were no members of USMC and USNA on the roster.

Quentin Roosevelt, Teddy’s son, was among the first US fighter pilots.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am a member of the Advocates for Harvard ROTC. I am a product of the Harvard ROTC program, class of 1964, and served a tour in NATO air defense flying F-102s with the 525th FIS.

Joseph J. Gano

Wilmington, Del.

It seems that two questions need to be raised concerning the replanting of ROTC units in the thorny ground of recalcitrant schools: 1) With the drawdown of our military and reduction in class size at service academies, do we need those restarts? 2) What are the true numbers of “five-and-outs” among ROTC and service academy grads who have received excellent no-debt educations

Further, any institution that produces junior officers permeates its grads with a particular world view and set of belief dynamics that often conflict with the realities of our military functions. Law and medicine may be the only specialties that must perform apart from the warfare arts in order to regulate and repair human existence by strict science.

It is naive thought to believe that “prestigious” schools can put more into their grads—of worth to the military services—than the ROTC-friendly institutions. Serious evaluation of those relics of past educational glory shows how they have crushed the laurels they rested on. In fact, most of those student bodies are bright, well-endowed, and purposely trained to be “masters of the universe.” Unfortunately, we lately have come to see how many of their kind have risen to corrupt and destroy our national substance.

The officer leadership of our military services needs to stand above the evil that circulates in those gilded halls. We live in a time that requires a gathering of certain hearts and minds that must refrain from applause in the halls of politics, that can come together in unity of purpose in the mission of defending our nation from all harm, without guile or self-interest. A collection of vaunted diplomas guarantees no loyalty nor any superiority of character, just an accumulation of academic approvals. What happens in their days of command depends fully on the individual content that made each military officer from date of birth.

We live in “times that try men’s souls.”

Wendell Lepic

Delavan, Wis.

As a 1955 AFROTC graduate from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a retired reserve officer, I must repond to the interesting editorial, “Replanting ROTC,” in the February 2011 issue. While serving as a captain in the ready reserves, I was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1964-69. This period experienced violent anti-Vietnam protests and a movement by liberal far left faculty to remove all ROTC programs from the campus. The ROTC commandants asked any and all supporters to help defend their programs, and I joined a conservative faculty group supporting ROTC. We testified at all appropriate campus faculty meetings, gave newspaper interviews, and delivered speeches. What follows is a list of our ROTC arguments:

First: If liberal or, for that matter, all faculty and university administrators want to influence the military with their views, what better way than to have direct input to ROTC detachments right on campus? For example, if they want to debate “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, it stands to reason they need to have access through communication channels within the academic community. One cannot influence change in the military by avoiding it. I think Hebert has it dead right: Most of the protests are anti-military based and simply use a number of controversial issues to remove ROTC from a campus. The Harvard Crimson’s position is a good example of such negative motivation, and most college newspapers are very liberal, if not far left.

Second: There is not the slightest bit of factual evidence that ROTC “compromises” any institution’s academic integrity. The ROTC courses were as, and in many instances more, rigorous than the typical liberal arts courses. The ROTC instructors were well-educated, experienced, and effective teachers with very high standards. We only received three hours credit per semester for at least the equivalency of three courses and zero credit for the extra drill, field trips, and summer camp. We learned technical, civic, and history disciplines. In fact, the only formal leadership training I ever received in my experience at three different universities was in the ROTC courses.

Third: When a school fails to allow ROTC to operate on its campus, it denies its students a wonderful opportunity to compete for a very good scholarship and a wonderful career option after active duty. Most of us felt it was and is an honor and privilege to serve our country. ROTC produced many distinguished senior commanders, including the legendary SAC leader and Chief of Staff Gen. Curtis LeMay, an ROTC graduate from the Ohio State University.

Lt. Col. Richard L. Pinkerton, USAFR (Ret.)

Strongsville, Ohio

Never Again Forever

Many thanks to John Correll for his informative article, “Origins of the Total Force” [February, p. 94]. I had heard before that the Air Force was historically further along with Total Force implementation than the Army but didn’t realize its roots in the Air Force. I am also duly impressed that Army Gen. Creighton Abrams stated that America should never go to war again without the Guard and Reserve and firmed up the commitment to Total Force accordingly. As a former full-time military technician in the Air Guard, I would be most interested in learning the history of the Guard technician and AGR programs; I personally think these programs should be officially re-evaluated in light of modern force structures and operational requirements of the total Air Force to determine whether they should be modified or discontinued. But that’s another story. Again, thank you for a very interesting article.

Lt. Col. Dave A. Kolmer, USAFR

Richmond, Va.

Even the words, “national guard” and “reserves” carry with them a generous measure of negative stereotype and connotation directed toward any who chose to fulfill their military obligation in this manner. Those individuals made their decision based solely on their best interests, none of which was a sense of patriotism or dedication to duty. Their loyalty and integrity were always in question.

Those in the professional military (active duty) had little or no use for either agency, known for harboring draft dodgers and peaceniks. Those organizations were filled with many who wanted the benefits without the commitment, but who still wanted recognition for their status as members of the military, when it seemed convenient. Yes, they could dress up and play war now and then, attend summer camp to get away for a couple of weeks, all the while knowing that dad and mom were just down the road.

Those individuals thought they were getting away with something then, but now, they seem to look back a bit remorsefully and with a certain amount of contrition when in conversations with the “real” veterans. They have learned that the stigma still exists.

I salute each and every person who stepped forward to raise a hand while offering a life in support of our country. These warriors did not ask how long they must give. These brave souls did not ask how much they must give. They simply stated that they were here to give. Not one asked if it was going to interrupt their plans for the weekend.

MSgt. Drew Thomas, USAF (Ret.)

Bradenton, Fla.

Who Makes the Call

There are many unexamined issues in “The Long Road to Missile Defense” article, March [p. 54].

First, who would make the decision to intercept during the boost phase of flight, the first five minutes? There is not enough time to explain the situation to senior commanders, let alone the President. The answer has to be the on-duty commander, maybe a colonel at best. Or do we entrust the decision to a computer algorithm, which may or may not be correct

What are the consequences of a wrong decision to intercept? On July 3, 1988, Iran Air Flight 655 was shot down by the USS Vincennes, which mistook it for an enemy aircraft. Two hundred and ninety innocent civilians, including 65 children, were killed.

During the midcourse phase of flight, the incoming missile would be tracked by the mobile Sea-Based X-Band Radar. Unfortunately, that component is presently down for modification. Eventually it will be home ported in Adak, Alaska, far from Mideast rogue nations. True, it can be moved—very slowly. Likely the attack will be over before it reaches the trouble spot.

As for other sea-based trackers like Aegis cruisers and destroyers, the lesson of the Vincennes is instructive.

The terminal phase of flight when decoys are deployed is the most difficult time to intercept. We use decoys on our offensive missiles; therefore, they must work.

On 9/11, NORAD was completely blindsided by an attack from within. Foolishly, NORAD expected the opposite, an external attack.

Even if a layered defense worked, a smart enemy would not attack through strength, but would look for weakness. Commercial shipping ports are our Achilles’ Heel where cargo containers arrive with little scrutiny. Why use a missile when a nuke can be more easily delivered in a cargo container

The whole strategy of missile defense needs to be re-examined.

James A. Bailey

Schenectady, N.Y.

B-52s Aren’t Dirty

Please revisit your picture of the B-52 on p. 74 of the February magazine [“Sharpening the Spear”]. It states that the B-52 “taxis at Andersen.” It is in fact under full power on takeoff. Just look at the exhaust. The earlier B-52s with the old J-57 engines never left that kind of “dirty” exhaust while at taxi power. The H model surely doesn’t.

I was deputy leader of the first B-52 strike over Vietnam on June 18, 1965, from Andersen in an F model and feel I have some knowledge of the subject.

Dick Ionata

Battle Ground, Wash.

It’s Bigger

With regard to his “21st Century Rivet Joint” [January], Marcus Weisgerber’s reference to the “Boeing 707-based RJ” on p. 52 indicates he is apparently under the still widespread misconception the myriad models of the KC-135 are same-size derivatives of the 707 aircraft. Actually, 707 airframes are substantially larger than the 135-series, being both longer and with a larger diameter fuselage, which is easily appreciated by viewing a photograph of a KC-135 refueling a true 707-based aircraft like the E-3, E-6, or E-8.

Elliott Stoffregen III

Millbrook, Ala.

18 Is 18

An outstanding article, one that I, for one, greatly appreciated [“BMT Gets Real,” February, p. 44].

I went through basic at Lackland 54 years ago (July/August 1957), fresh out of high school. The article brought back a lot of memories and points out the many changes.

No more pith helmets or World War II barracks with no air-conditioning, much longer and varied course of learning, uniforms, etc. Of course it was a different time and society, but an 18-year-old is an 18-year-old, and it was and is a new life for someone that age. Thanks again.

Harold B. Bachman

Adrian, Mich.

Pictures of Midway

I’m a big admirer of Barrett Tillman and have bought all his books I can afford. I have a couple of comments about his Midway article [“The Battle of Midway,” February, p. 90].

The SBD in the foreground of the photo on page 92 may have launched from Hornet, but the diagonal tail stripe identifies it as an Enterprise aircraft. Also, the carrier on p. 93 is almost certainly Hiryu and is under attack by B-17s—look at the bomb splashes.

The SBD from the outset had one advantage over the Aichi D3A “Val”; it could carry a 1,000-pound bomb to the Val’s 550. The Japanese were greatly surprised during the Indian Ocean raid that Vals could sink armored cruisers. The SBD later had more guns, bigger guns, more armor, and, of course, self-sealing fuel tanks.

Capt. Larry M. Robinson, USAF (Ret.)

Greenville, S.C.

A Keeper

In December 1971, I reported for duty as a deputy missile combat crew commander with the 91st Strategic Missile Wing, Minot AFB, N.D. That was almost 40 years after my father reported to the 91st Bomb Group (Heavy), Bassingborn Airfield, England, as a B-17 crew chief. For the five years that I was assigned to the 91st SMW, I was privileged to wear the unit awards and decorations that my father and all the airmen of the 91 BG(H) earned. Both of us began our Air Force careers and our families with the 91st. Your article [“The Real Twelve O’Clock High,” January, p. 70] brought back a lifetime of memories for me. This is an issue that I will definitely keep.

Lt. Col. Terry O. McQuain, USAR (Ret.)

San Antonio

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