Bet They Want Our Business, Though
I suggest Eglin [AFB, Fla.] do a survey like F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo., did back in the ’50s when residents were complaining about airmen walking on their streets and posted signs: “Dogs and airmen, stay off my lawn” [“Air Force World: Lightning Strikes Twice,” September, p. 38]. The base commander advised the mayor and his officials that he was going to pay the troops in two dollar bills and restrict them to the base for two months, to open their eyes to how much the troops contributed to their local economy. Within a month the mayor begged the base commander to lift the restriction, and that was the end of their complaints. Money talks.
MSgt. Joe Martinez,
A Grease Pencil and a Protractor
I found parts of your article “Old Lessons, ‘New’ Domain” [September p. 86] a bit humorous because of my personal experiences. Somehow, having a light bomber/troop transfer AFSC, I was assigned to a SAGE (Semi-automatic Ground Environment) site at BOADS (Boston Air Defense Sector) in 1961. In its usual wisdom, the Air Force sent me to the manual radar school at Tyndall AFB [Fla.], in spite of my assignment to a computer controlled site. There, I was trained in the grease pencil and telephone method of intercept mentioned in the article. For the next two years, I had absolutely no reason to use that training, and I had to OJT at the SAGE site.
My next assignment, in 1963, was to POW Main, a surveillance site on the DEW Line at Barrow, Alaska. One day, I got a call from the Alaskan Air Command. Their long-range radar at Cape Lisburne had picked up two Russian bombers that were headed our way. They asked if we could somehow control a couple of F-102s out of Galena AFB [Alaska] to an intercept. I told them that we would try, but of course, we didn’t have intercept radar. Fortunately, I still had my grease pencil and protractor from the manual radar school. I had the radar techs (civilians) crank the antenna to its maximum rotation speed (still slower than a control radar) and then tilt it so I could get an approximate altitude reading on the bombers using simple geometry. In the end, with a radio-telephone in one hand to the fighters and the grease pencil on the screen, we intercepted them just as they made landfall into US territory. In spite of the urgent pleas of the fighter pilots, Alaskan Air Command refused to allow a shootdown, so the 102s had to content themselves with shooting pictures instead as they escorted them across 120 miles of northern Alaska. The Russians responded in kind—they took photos of the fighters.
So, World War II technology worked. It apparently made the Soviets believe that we had over-the-horizon radar well before we did. I realized that this was a big event when I was visited the next day by a general and an admiral and their staffs, who had come for a briefing. Everything was kept quiet to make it all appear to be a routine event. By the way, if it’s still classified (which I doubt), I guess you may not want to print this!
The article by Rebecca Grant, “Old Lessons, ‘New’ Domain,” brought back memories of McChord AFB [Wash.] in the late 1950s. I was fire marshal when the SAGE project was brought on line and became operational. I recall the principal Western Electric project engineer remarking that someday “this whole project will fit on the back of a truck.” That was hard to believe as it was a massive program. Power was provided to the tube-type A and B computers by six Enterprise diesel engines, [the kind used] on large ships. Their excitor motors were the size of a pickup truck. The computer tubes were cooled by ducted air and were in large trays that were enclosed in cabinets. A one-star general was in command and told me if I ever found anything out of compliance with Air Force Fire Protection Manual 92-1 to advise him immediately and he would see that corrective action was taken. He did as he said, with no discussion.
Compare Like to Like
The number of tons for the Berlin Airlift was 1,780,000 vs. 690,000 for the Kandahar Airlift [“Air Force World: By the Numbers,” September, p. 30]. This is a little over a two-to-one edge for the Berlin Airlift. But if you [examine] the distance traveled (Berlin, 200 miles vs. Kandahar, 7,000 miles), you come up with nearly a 17-to-one advantage for the Kandahar Airlift. Both airlifts are impressive, but Kandahar surely demonstrates USAF global reach.
As Long as It’s the Other Guy
The editorial by Adam J. Hebert left me wondering: How do we reduce our national deficit if we can’t gain control of our spending [“Sequestration’s Destructive Decay,” September, p. 6]?
We can argue if our taxation is too low or our spending too high, but the result is an out of control deficit. Reduced spending is popular as long as it is someone else who gets the cut. Historically our agencies have spent all their budget because if they didn’t they would be penalized next year! This must stop! Our national debt is too important to ignore.
I believe it is important enough to enlist the help of all our fine officers, airmen, and civilian employees to target the costs of all programs while maintaining our excellence. These are the people who know when we’re wasting money and could reduce our expenditures with little effect on our mission. Give them a chance and let this be a consideration for performance reporting and promotions. Discourage the “empire builders” of the past and give it a try. The Air Force has the best people there are, so give them a chance to reduce our costs without mission degradation.
CMSgt. Donald E. Perry,
Dressing a General
I have never met General Piotrowski face-to-face, but in late 1981 or early 1982 I was called upon to help him out [“Piotrowski,” September, p. 112].
At the time, I was chief of current operations in the 513th Tactical Airlift Wing at RAF Mildenhall. I worked directly for the 513th TAW DCO, but we were between DCOs. The old DCO had moved on, but his replacement had not yet arrived on station. The new DCO was a newly minted colonel and had worked for General Piotrowski on the E-3A program. I already had a few telephone discussions with the new DCO, mostly answering questions he had about what we were doing. In fact, what we were doing had not a thing to do with tactical airlift; we ran the flying operation for the USCINCEUR airborne command post.
The new DCO called me and told me to expect a call from General Piotrowski and that he needed a favor. As it turned out, General Piotrowski was somewhere in the Middle East, probably in Saudi Arabia because that is where the E-3As were deploying to.
Wherever the general was, the laundry and dry cleaning services were nil and some local national had ruined his blue service uniform while trying to clean it. Worse than that, there were no replacement uniforms in a thousand nautical miles of wherever he was. When the General called, he explained the situation, gave me his suit size and inseam length, and asked that I get that put together in time to be put on an E-3A that would be passing through RAF Mildenhall a couple of days hence. I called the clothing sales store at RAF Lakenheath, just a few miles from Mildenhall, and inquired about a blue service uniform of a particular size. They had them in stock. With the uniform in hand, I had a local tailor hem the pants to the proper length and stitch the generals braid on the cuffs of the jacket. With the receipts for the uniform and tailoring services in the uniform pocket, I turned the uniform over to the crew of an E-3A headed for Saudi Arabia. A couple of days later, the crew of a redeploying E-3A passed along an envelope to me. It contained a check and a thank-you note from General Piotrowski.
Glad to have helped out, General.
Gerald P. Hanner
No Offense Intended, Ladies
I am a retired Army officer, graduate aerospace engineer, Life Member of the Air Force Association, and would like to make some observations concerning your August 2013 story entitled “Women in Combat” [p. 30]. As is to be expected from your magazine, the article is well-written, timely, and provocative. However, from my perspective of an Army officer with command experience from platoon to battalion level, it raises troubling questions about the wisdom of placing women alongside men in dedicated combat units.
As I begin, let me make clear that I do not doubt the ability of our female service members to carry out their duties with skill, courage, and if required, deadly force at point-blank range. What concerns me is your perception of “combat.” The situations in Iraq and Afghanistan have exposed even rear echelon service troops to short, sharp combat engagements where our female service members have performed admirably and courageously. I have no doubt that the airman pictured on the cover of the August issue is physically fit, motivated, and fully trained and capable of doing her duty, irrespective of her sex.
My concern rests with women exposed to sustained combat operations. Armed reconnaissance, movement to contact, and a concentrated campaign to close with, kill, and capture the enemy will require female service members to remain in the field for days or weeks, under tension and stress, without the relative safety and amenities—food, a bed and a shower and clean clothes at a base camp awaiting a day or two away, as is the situation in Afghanistan. Field sanitation becomes an issue of primary importance. Jessica Buchanan, held captive by Somali pirates for three months, describes her struggle with field sanitation and hygiene in graphic detail in her book, Impossible Odds.
Despite the hype, women are not physically, physiologically, or emotionally merely little men with different plumbing. To think this way does them a disservice. Cleanliness, privacy, and a woman’s natural response to sustained violence must be addressed. How would women be affected emotionally and mentally, facing sustained violent situations which go against their natural inclinations? What will happen when sexual desire, jealous competition, or a man’s innate desire to dominate women arises in the unit? Based on the shameful sexual violence and assaults which have occurred in our service academies and at basic training, I am not optimistic about the results. What will happen if true love develops and then they see his or her beloved killed or maimed right before their eyes? How will the unit, and the general public, handle the situation where women begin to take significant casualties: dead, horribly wounded, maimed, or as prisoners of war? Will good discipline, self-control, and clear thinking prevail? How will mission accomplishment and unit efficiency be affected
I would bet that there have been few clinical studies that address these issues. Any negative results must be vigorously investigated, even if they go against cherished and strongly held plans to carry out the placement of women in combat postings. This is not about political correctness, to satisfy the agenda of some well-placed men and women who never served a day in the armed forces, or about an equal chance to excel for promotion or being out to prove there is nothing a man can do that a woman cannot. Those cute shots of goose-stepping North Korean, Chinese, Russian, and Israeli armed women are all photo op propaganda. They are not integrated into combat units; no nation has done so yet.
My undergraduate studies at a Catholic university, where I minored in the philosophy of human nature, ethics, morality, human sexuality, and the psychology between the sexes, have made me sensitive to these issues. To be plain, from the earliest evidence of mankind’s existence, women were just too valuable an asset to risk in violent dangerous activities such as hunting and warfare. Women faced enough risks from childbirth, disease, and serious accidents. The rush for false equality with men downplays a woman’s role as complementary to a man’s, with each sharing duties and responsibilities in making a family, rearing, and caring for children, AND still having time for a meaningful career. This may sound trite or sexist, but the real question is why? Why put a woman into a situation that causes her to act against her natural inborn inclinations? Women are by nature nonviolent, caring, loving, life-giving, and nurturing. Why train them to kill, because, after all, this is the raison d’être for a combat formation. Shooting a rifle, riding in a tank, or flying an armed aircraft or helicopter can be exciting, but the reason you are there is to kill, and do it well.
At every level in my career, both on Active Duty and as a reservist, I have had the opportunity to serve with female troops. Just as with their male counterparts, there were excellent, good, and bad performers, but it was always based on attitude and training, not on their sex. Some tasks, like in the air defense missile artillery for example, women are just not physically able to handle: heavy lifting, the manhandling of heavy radars, cables, and launchers, and the rapid digging of entrenchments required. In other areas more suited to their physiology and mental skills, they excelled. In my last troop assignment, as the executive officer of an ammunition battalion that trained three weeks a year in Germany, three of my seven staff officers were women (adjutant, intelligence, and maintenance/supply). We also had many female enlisted members. We operated for up to two weeks in the field with minimal disruption, while respecting the personal space of the many female members of the battalion, always handling it in an adult, mature manner, but it was not tactically correct, as would be required in wartime.
In closing, I salute the contribution of women to all the armed services. They definitely have a vital role to play in the defense of our nation, but not in combat.
Lt. Col. Joseph M. Lupa,
I am up to here with this endless talk about the battle over and between the sexes beginning in basic or boot training. I mean, come on now, folks. Enough is enough. My military experience included service in the Marines and later the Air Force, and I have opinions concerning both that should be considered carefully before plunging deeper into a problem that can best [be] avoided through early learning at home in one’s family.
My Marine Corps service was long before we had women serving side-by-side, but I have had the opportunity of watching these problems unravel over the years and frankly I’m moved to say that “in my day,” all marines were looked upon as gentlemen unless proved otherwise, and women generally were looked up to. A true gentleman, military or not, would never, ever, physically assault a woman, “lady” or not! Even if it was one-sided, the same thing applied and women generally accepted it. This may have been a carryover from old Western traditions but should still apply under most conditions.
I’m living in the past? Well, we did a lot better then, with none of the present problems! The Rx is really quite simple: Act like a lady and be treated like one! Same for men. Bottom line: Hands off—period—unless invited!
I agree that the sexes should be separated, at least during pre-basic or boot camp. Then, for both sexes, there should be a comprehensive training requirement on proper military decorum, and those who can’t readily adjust to it should not be accepted for service.
Let’s also quit hearing and passing along adverse stories about women serving in combat. Many are, in actual fact, better suited to a given job than a male counterpart and can be relied upon equally as any other marine, soldier, or sailor. Needless to say, this is very comforting knowledge, especially when the chips are down.
Like all the rest of us, women are as good as their training. My point is simply that ANY service person should be able to do a job without harassment or concerns about being molested violently or otherwise. ANY violations should be dealt with quickly, decisively, and equally. In foreign countries, foreign law should never be used against an American soldier because the UCMJ always applies, and justice should be swift and fair. This also applies to foreign prisoners.
Rolland S. Freeman
Longboat Key, Fla.
First Things First
Robert S. Dudney’s excerpt of a house editorial in the Washington Post, Aug. 3, in [“Verbatim: Some Commander in Chief,” September, p. 20] cites that Secretary Hagel reported on “deep funding problems” in the Pentagon to fulfill President Obama’s strategic mission for national defense. It appears that Secretary Hagel is placing funding restrictions at the Pentagon, based on President Obama’s direction to reduce defense funding vis-à-vis other social funding. What ever happened to developing the national defense strategy, funding, current capabilities, and future systems based on the threat? If funding is going to drive defense, we will have to cut forces, capabilities, and future systems and ultimately downsize the national strategy, which may or may not meet the threat. American interests and Americans living, working, studying, traveling, and assigned overseas would ultimately be at risk. President Obama’s reductions of defense over the past four-and-a-half years have already been reflected in attacks on Americans and American interests at home and abroad. It can only get worse with additional defense reductions.
Lt. Col. Russel A. Noguchi,
Pearl City, Hawaii