Tag: Air Force

Honorable Burial Policy

 

Greg Abbott Ashli BabbittNewsmax is good at clickbait headlines and videos but falls far short in real reporting on the apparent Air Force refusal to support military burial honors for Ashli Babbitt, an honorably discharged Air Force veteran. The Newsmax story just features the angry, grieving mother and one attempt to call one military office before publication. There is not even a minimal effort to check the basic policy and law behind death benefits and military honors for veterans. Newsmax baits, I dig for your consideration, and leave you with a provocative possibility.

There are two pieces to the federal government honoring a veteran in death. The first piece is burial benefits, including burial in certain cemeteries, grave markers, and a folded flag. These are the statutory responsibility of the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs (the VA). The second piece is a military honor detail at the internment, what used to be called a burial detail. This is a statutory duty of the Department of Defense. Each service has a duty to its own, fulfilled by active duty, and drilling Guard and Reserve service members. The statutory minimum is two service members in the military honors detail.

The general rule is that veterans who were separated from service under honorable or general conditions are entitled to certain VA burial benefits and military honors. Not surprisingly, then, the relevant law shows up in both Title 10 (Armed Forces) and Title 38 (Veterans’ Benefits). Here are the relevant bits, with emphasis added:

US Military’s ‘Extremist Briefing’: An Inside Take

 

My daughter is active-duty Air Force and she is currently deployed overseas. She works in a direct mission career field which requires a top-secret clearance. Her work schedule on deployment is much more intense than it is when she is stateside. She works with all sorts of people: ages 19-50, all races, all genders, officers, NCOs, and enlisted. Her field is highly technical and competencies are more important in some aspects than how many stripes you may have. Her unit was tapped for the required “Extremist Briefing” recently and this is her report.

There was about 90 personnel in attendance. The briefing was two hours in length, despite their tight mission schedule. The briefing room required masks and chairs were positioned two feet apart. The briefing started with a video on the big screen with speeches from the SecDef, a four-star, the Chief MstSgt of the USAF, Commander of Air Combat Command, and on down the command structure until the video featured my daughter’s immediate command. She said that the way it drilled down to a face she knows made it feel very personal. The talking heads kept using the term “extremists” and “extremism” but the terms were not specifically defined, and that the terms were used very generally. (Kind of a “we all know it when we see it” kind of way). She said the video was creepy and made her feel uncomfortable. As a “Hunger Games” book fan in middle school, she said that she felt like it was a scene out of a Hunger Games book where the “Capital District” was telling everyone in other districts what the reality was, but that the ones out of touch with reality were on the screen.

After the video and some PowerPoint slides (can you have a briefing in the military without PP slides?), my daughter said they were broken up into smaller groups and a “facilitator” (another military person) then asked questions of the group members such as “Tell me about a time in your military career that you saw or experienced extremism.” The groups were told that the facilitators were required to write down their responses and would be sending them back into the SecDef. One group member tried to pin down the facilitator about what did they mean by “extremism?” (Still no clear definition.) One group member, a black airman, stated that he may have experienced a couple of jerks during his AF career who were racist, but when were they going to be asked about the thousand other incidents of his colleagues going out of their way to support him professionally and personally? Another group member wondered why they were not talking about extremism in the context of Antifa and Portland. Another black female airman said that the AF was a melting pot and, although she came from an all-black neighborhood, she had met and worked with great people of all walks of life. No one in the group offered any examples of “extremism” despite the lack of definition.

One Final Military Thanksgiving

 

Today marks my final Thanksgiving Day in uniform. I have spent it largely alone, as the Middle East dust has been playing Old Harry with my sinuses, sharply limiting my opportunities for fellowship. I did make an exception to go serve the troops at the dining facility, or “DFAC” in our military lingo. I was entrusted with the corn-on-the-cob, collard greens and gravy. They kept me away from the carving knives, which was probably the right call, manual dexterity not being my strong suit.

I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic–indeed, thankful–as I tic off each of these “lasts” through this final year on active duty, an extraordinarily fulfilling 35-year adventure from start to finish. The Air Force collected me from a disastrous early college experience, gave me a trade and sufficient structure to get me through those undisciplined early adult years, and then let me go back to school once I’d grown up enough to handle it. It sent me to amazing places and introduced me to even more amazing people–including my lifelong friend and soul-mate, who willingly signed up for the rest of the journey.

A True Hero’s Homecoming: Retired USAF Colonel, Congressman Sam Johnson

 

The news media condemns itself, as does our political class, once more, with their relative silence. A true American hero, whose virtue was proved in the skies of two wars, the hell on earth of the worst part of the Communist Vietnamese torture chambers, and in the halls of Congress that so often corrupt, has been called home. Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, retired Congressman Sam Johnson went home on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, at the age of 89. There is a famous photograph of Colonel Johnson reunified with his wife, Shirley, after seven years of captivity. At the end of May 2020, I believe they were reunified a second time. We do not know what Heaven is actually like, but we may well imagine these two people embracing again in bodies not ravaged by this fallen world.

Sam married his high school sweetheart, Shirley in 1950, shortly before graduating from Southern Methodist University. They remained faithfully married for 65 years until Shirley was called home before Sam. Shirley Johnson’s obituary confessed their faith:

During Sam’s captivity, Shirley’s faith in the almighty God became more real. Prior to the POW years, she and her husband had faithfully attended church. In the blink of an eye, God was comforting her, and her faith blossomed so that she was reliant on God for the answers to her life’s tribulations. This undying faith stayed with her the remainder of her life and became a hallmark of her quiet strength, gracious manner and gentle personality. [. . .] Sam and Shirley remained inseparable, enjoying seeing new places and learning about new cultures. They found the greatest joy however, spending time with family and giving praise and thanksgiving to their Lord and Savior.

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Honoring the Fallen: USAF Colonel lays wreath at Australian War Memorial Every day as the sun sinks below the horizon, the Australian Defence Force honors one person who gave their life in service to the country as a member of the armed services. Col. Raymond Powell, the senior U.S. defense official in Australia, laid a […]

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100 Years, 3 Wars, 409 Combat Missions: Living Memory

 

On Friday, 6 December, Col. Charles McGee went flying for his 100th birthday. He actually flew the aircraft, with a copilot, and walked on and off the aircraft firm of voice and stride. Colonel McGee started flying in World War II, then stayed in the cockpit for the next thirty years, seeing combat in both Korea and Vietnam. He holds the US Air Force record, to this day, of 409 combat missions. As we commemorate the 75th anniversaries of D-Day at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge this year, we note the number of World War II veterans rapidly falling to the far end of the actuarial tables. Accordingly, each one who remains with us, still of firm mind and voice, becomes more of a treasure.

Ayatollah Air Power

 

If push comes to shove, could American air power lay waste to the Iranian regime in a cake walk, a turkey shoot? Consider what we know, publicly, of Iranian military capabilities in the air. They have aircraft from the pre-stealth era, drones, and extensive surface-to-air missile defenses. Perhaps, however, their best “air” assets are computer coding and diplomatic shuttle flights.

RQ-170

Photo by Gene Blevins/LA DailyNews

It was not big news when fairly rag-tag forces shot down a low and slow flying armed MQ-9 Reaper drone. After all, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has a wing dedicated to advising foreign forces, including the Yemeni forces fighting other Yemeni forces backed by Saudi Arabia. This is not secret, so the U.S. Central Command was willing to claim Iranian participation in the June 2019 shoot-down:

Will Eagles Soar Again?

 

Two articles tease a new F-15 fighter variant to bridge the huge gap between aging fourth-generation fighters and the too expensive, too few in number, stealthy F-22 and F-35. The first is cautious and notes the plane has not been pitched, as it might be, like the new run of F/A-18 Super Hornets. The second is a full-length sales pitch. This, in turn, was picked up and summarized on Popular Mechanics’ website. It makes sense, including dollars and cents, at first glance.

The basic problem the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps face is arithmetic. The stealthy aircraft, on which they bet, ended up too expensive to field in the numbers needed. The F-15 and F/A-18 fleets are aging. So how can the gap be filled? The Navy, after the none-too-subtle shove from the Commander-in-Chief, is buying a new set of updated Super Hornets. The Marines, apparently, will get low mileage Navy jets, to replace worn-out equipment. These will meet most missions, at a fraction of F-35 operating costs. But, what of the Air Force?

The Air Force brass has fought desperately to prevent consideration of updated F-15s with supercruise engines or semi-stealthy modifications. These would clutter the simple procurement picture being painted to Congress. But Congress and the last administration balked at the unit prices, development issues, and simple picture of all fighter requirements being met by two super-duper planes. This has put the Air Force, including the politically potent Air National Guard, at risk.

On this episode of the AEI Events Podcast, Mackenzie Eaglen sits down with Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson. From cutting-edge hypersonic missiles to humble propeller-driven attack aircraft intended for counterterrorism operations, Secretary Wilson previewed experimental programs that will provide tomorrow’s airmen with the capabilities they need to fly, fight, and win. The secretary also articulated her concept of “defendable space” meant to revolutionize how the Air Force acquires and operates systems for use outside the stratosphere.

Asked to reflect on the most important lesson from her storied career, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson noted that nothing is more critical than living by a consistent set of values.

It’s all crazy martinis today.  Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are furious as the Air Force discovers it never forwarded the court martial information on the Texas church shooter that would have prevented him from legally purchasing guns and Jim also details how the federal government often seems disinterested in prosecuting gun crimes.  They also discuss the bizarre assault on Sen. Rand Paul by his neighbor in Kentucky and how the media just don’t care when GOP lawmakers are targeted for violence.  And they unload on 2016 independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin, who has spent the past year focused on criticizing President Trump at every turn while advancing nothing of value to conservatism – his latest move being to urge people not to vote for the GOP candidate for governor in Virginia.

Nose Art and the Spirit of Our Military

 

The current establishment art world cultivates insularity and isolation as a means to prop up the vapid, dysfunctional art they favor. From sterile white box galleries to haughty elitist attitudes, lots of effort is poured into erecting barriers to separate the experience of art from the despised masses and the realities of life.

But art does not exist to be plaything for decadent crypto-Marxist hipsters. It is a vital outpouring of the human soul, a visual method of spiritual communication. Art can take on surprising and spontaneous forms in the strangest places to remind us of who we really are.

A species of folk art arose when we started taking our wars into the skies. In World War I, for a time the fighting aircraft were painted with bright colors and bold designs that evoked heraldry, like pilots were knights jousting in the air. This was abandoned once it was realized camouflage-type coloration increased survival rates.

Only Nixon Could Go to China. Only the GOP Can Clean Up Military Procurement.

 

f-35_jsf_jointstrikefighter_trillion_dollar_boondoggleDavid Axe, editor of the well-regarded online warfighting journal War is Boring, has obtained an unclassified but internal five-page brief from a former F-35 Joint Strike Fighter test pilot. The unnamed pilot blasts the military’s latest and “greatest” jet fighter’s ability to do, well, anything:

The F-35 jockey tried to target the F-16 with the stealth jet’s 25-millimeter cannon, but the smaller F-16 easily dodged. “Instead of catching the bandit off-guard by rapidly pull aft to achieve lead, the nose rate was slow, allowing him to easily time his jink prior to a gun solution,” the JSF pilot complained.

And when the pilot of the F-16 turned the tables on the F-35, maneuvering to put the stealth plane in his own gunsight, the JSF jockey found he couldn’t maneuver out of the way, owing to a “lack of nose rate.”

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The US military has  announced this past week that China and Russia will have air superiority within three to five years, with little sign of alarm to this news on the part of either the media or the public. They also said that thirty to forty countries would have air superiority in eight to ten […]

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There is an interesting piece up on NRO today, What If the World’s Most Expensive Fighter Planes Can’t Defeat Our Enemies, by Michael Fredenburg.  His thesis, neatly summed up, is: Despite lavish spending on our air forces; flawed procurement priorities and strategic doctrine, driven by contractors, has put the future of U.S. air power at […]

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Jonah Goldberg once wrote that he was invited by a group of geeks who had been plotting on how to hold out in a zombie invasion for years to join their group, that he told them, “I don’t mean to overly mock the role-playing game community, these are my people. But when the zombies come, I’d […]

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Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (quoting Shakespeare): “What a piece of work is man, in form and movement how express and admirable. In action how like an angel.” Sergeant Buster Kilrain: Well, if he’s an angel, all right then. But he damn well must be a killer angel.   – Gettysburg (1993) Preview Open

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This quote was from an article from the Christian Post, “Although the cadet was not punished for writing the biblical message, Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has called for the student to be “visibly punished” so others won’t follow his example.” An article in Florida Today a few days ago tells about the “Missing Man” table. […]

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