Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Have We Done to the Military?

Commentary by Lt. Colonel John Lewis Cook, USA (ret.)

Today, Thursday, January 24th, 2013, will be remembered as a historic day for the U.S. military.  It was on this day that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta proudly announced that the military is now going to allow women to serve in combat units.  While most Americans will pay little attention to this news, a few of us will view it with both sadness and alarm.  Sadness because our military leaders have caved under the forces of political correctness and alarm because the politicians pushing this change really have no idea  what real combat is all about.

Combat is not the place to fight for equal opportunity because combat, all combat, in an equal opportunity killer.  Mortar rounds pick no favorite; they do not discriminate.  They will tear women apart with equal brutality and efficiency as they tear men apart and somebody will have to put these broken bodies into body bags.  It’s hard enough for battle hardened men to put dead men in these bags and zip them up.  What happens to these same men  when they have to do this to women?   Will they think about their sisters and wives and mothers back in the states, the people they think they are fighting for, and realize the enormity of this is too much to handle? Has anything prepared them for this horror?  And will their normal instincts to protect women at all cost put them in additional danger?  And what are the sleeping arrangements going to be in  the incredibly close quarters that define combat on the front lines and the foxholes?    And how will the Company Commander react to the inevitable battlefield romances? 

These are the considerations that were never considered as our leaders rushed to bring “equality” to the battlefield.  Nor did they consult the average female soldier or Marine or Airman who joined the military for a variety of reasons short of direct combat.  They joined to make a valuable contribution and they do, every day, in critical military specialties such as intelligence, finance, logistics, and communications, just to list a few.  But most did not join to engage in direct combat.  The vast majority of these women understand the basic differences between men and women and they are proud of these differences, as they should be. It is these differences, not inequalities, that define us all at a most basic level.  And most men understand this as well and know  that women occupy a special place because they are different and it is their role to protect them.  This basic belief has nothing to do with equality; it has everything to do with humanity. 

Of course, this concept will be ridiculed and dismissed by the radicals pushing for this change.  They, no doubt, will praise Secretary Panetta’s decision as a courageous one for true equality.  The liberal media will also endorse this  change as long  overdue and will trot out any number of feminists supporting this decision.  These feminists have no fear of being in a foxhole when the next round of shooting starts and that’s a pity.  They have no concept of what real combat is all about and they really don’t care.  They have a political agenda and this is what drives them.  It is here that this movement started and they learned early on that the current crop of male leaders in America  could be easily intimidated, cowed, and finally subdued.  They took their cue from the gay community when gays earned the right to serve openly in the military in late 2011 and decided the time was ripe for their movement.  All the pieces were in places, so they went for it.  And why not?  It was the Obama administration that opened the door for gays so they knew they had a friend in the Commander in Chief.    

This gentrification of the military will bear bitter fruit in the future  because this is not the place for political experimentation.  If this change was directed out of necessity, it would be an entirely different issue, but it wasn’t.  This in not the case in America, where the draft can easily be reinstated, if necessary.  The military  is the last bastion of democracy and freedom for America  and what may very well be appropriate for the Department of Transportation or the Department of Commerce does not easily translate to the Department of Defense.  Contrary to popular believe, the military has never been an equal opportunity employer, regardless of the hype.  Unlike the rest of the government, the military can discriminate and does so routinely and legally.  While this may come as a surprise to many, the right to serve in the military  is not a constitutional right. It is an honor and a privilege.  If you are too old, or too fat or not very bright, or psychologically unbalanced, you will be turned away.  However, these distinctions are being constantly blurred in this mad rush to show just how sensitive we are.  What is being lost is the rush is a strong dose of reality.  Unfortunately, being overly sensitive is the last thing we need in soldiers in combat.  The military is serious business. People are routinely killed in the military because the profession is inherently dangerous.  This is not the place to pay back political favors from the radical left, even if the administration does, in fact, owe these favors to the radical left. There are other places in the government where these debts can be repaid, with little or no damage.  

Of course, these distinctions will be lost in the hysteria that will surround this announcement.  It will be hailed as a great victory for equality, with little understanding that this is not the place to demonstrate equality.  All of these things should have been seriously considered and, in decades past, they certainly would have been given due consideration.  Unfortunately, the top military leaders today achieved their current positions by playing the politically correct game and now all the chickens are coming home to roost.  May God have mercy on us.

About the Author
Lieutenant Colonel John Lewis Cook, United States Army (Retired), “served as the Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Interior in Kabul, Afghanistan, with responsibility for developing the force structure for the entire Afghan National Police.  As of 2012, this force totals 157,000.  From March 2008 until August 2012, his access and intimate associations with all levels of the Afghan government and coalition forces have provided him with an unprecedented insight into the policies which will determine the outcome of the war.  It is this insight, coupled with his contacts and associations throughout Afghanistan that form the basis of Afghanistan: The Perfect Failure.

Click to read more about Lt. Colonel John Lewis Cook

Battleship NORTH CAROLINA Launches Crew Stories Blog

WILMINGTON, NC – The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA announced today the launch of the new blog, Sea Stories at

At one point during World War II there were over 2,300 men aboard the NORTH CAROLINA.  Each crew member has a story to tell and starting in January, Sea Stories will bring better understanding of what it was like to live on a City at Sea.  From comedic entertainment to dishearten of losing a fellow sailor, the archives are being opened to publish their story.

"Visitors continue to tell us how much they love reading the stories of the crew members while touring the Ship,” says Heather Loftin, Promotions Director of the Battleship.  “To extend their experience and to keep our sailors stories alive, the blog is essential to share their voice.”

The first blog entry, Home Away From Home, is told by Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c. “On the battleship, you worked, lived, and became friends with guys from your division.  It was kind of clannish.  Men from the same division formed a working unit within their department. They worked and slept in the same designated area.”  The full story can be read on the blog.

Visitors to can subscribe to Sea Stories and receive email updates when new articles are posted every Thursday.

The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is self-supporting, not tax supported and relies primarily upon admissions to tour the Ship, sales in the Ship's Store, donations and investments. No funds for its administration and operation come from appropriations from governmental entities at the local, state or federal levels. Located at the junction of Highways 17/74/76/421 on the Cape Fear River.   Visit or follow us on and for more information.

Warfighters discuss mission at WEPTAC

by Airman 1st Class Monet Villacorte
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/24/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Approximately 670 warfighters from across the combat Air Force gathered during the Weapons and Tactics conference hosted by the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center to discuss ways to efficiently and effectively accomplish the Air Force's mission with the equipment they already have from Jan. 3-16.

WEPTAC is an annual two week conference held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., highlighting current and future weapons and tactical issues and provides solutions for the joint employment of forces.

"The first week [highlighted] tactical challenges," said H.A. Hamilton, WEPTAC conference coordinator. "While the second week [focused] on the tactics review board."

The tactical review board aims to examine the component-numbered Air Force tactics, techniques and procedures.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III delivered the keynote address Jan. 15. During his address, Welsh talked about the Air Force's mission and the role Airmen play in achieving mission success.

"It's a real world with real world threats," Welsh said. "How do we take care of it? We take care of it by training right now."

He also emphasized the importance of principles like leadership, teamwork, respect and professional development to Airmen.

"I need people who want to be the best person they can be, first, than being the best officer or Airman," he said.

With the ever changing nature of the Air Force, it is important for Airmen to be involved and be knowledgeable about where the Air Force is heading in the future.

"Operationally, we're doing fantastic," Welsh said. "With Airmen being the most important part of our Air Force, it's good to see them engaged and curious about where we're going, and what we're doing next."

Welsh ended his speech, expressing his appreciation for Airmen in their efforts to continue progression of weapons and tactics advancement for the service.

"Thanks for being who you are," Welsh said. "I am so honored to say I stand beside you in the world's greatest Air Force. "

1st,192nd Fighter Wing deploy to Kadena

by Airman 1st Class Teresa Aber
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/24/2013 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- F-22A Raptors and approximately 300 Airmen from the 1st Fighter Wing and the 192nd FW, Va. Air National Guard, deployed recently to Kadena Air Base, Japan, as part of the Pacific Command's Theater Security Package rotation.

"These deployments display the United States' continued commitment to maintain peace in the Asia-Pacific region," said Lt. Col Jason Hinds, 94th Fighter Squadron commander and deployed commander.

Pacific Air Forces TSP deployments provide stability and security while allowing units to train with the Japanese air force.

"We have a unique opportunity to fly with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force and build a stronger rapport with the people," Hinds said. "We are grateful to have the opportunity to learn about their culture while refining the integrated tactics utilized in air combat."

A unique aspect of this TSP deployment is the opportunity for 1st FW Airmen to deploy alongside their 192nd FW Air National Guard counterparts in a total force integration construct.
Both units will become even more integrated on this TSP deployment, according to Hinds.

"When you are on the road you have to integrate even more than at home," Hinds said. "It is a different environment and we have to be able to operate as a cohesive and efficient team."

Hinds believes that training under the leadership of the 18th Wing at Kadena AB will continue to reinforce the relationship between the U.S. and Japan.

Dyess delivers dream

by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Stefanko
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

1/24/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Viewing a vast arsenal of weapons and bombs, taxiing a B-1 Bomber and blowing up a car with explosives was all in a day's work for a child who participated in Dyess Air Force Base's "Pilot for a Day" program Jan. 14.

Keegan Vowell, a 16-year-old Abilene resident, received the rare opportunity to not only tour Dyess, but to be immersed in the Airman lifestyle.

"Keegan has gone through a lot in his lifetime," said Capt. Richard Hansen, 9th Bomb Squadron and host pilot. "So we wanted to create a day where we can pull him out of his normal routine and provide an environment where he can experience things he normally wouldn't have the opportunity to do."

Throughout the event, Keegan received his own flight suit, was demonstrated the capabilities of the 7th Security Forces K-9 Unit, toured the air traffic control tower, taxied a bomber, had his name put onto an aircraft, created his own Hollywood explosion with the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit and was presented a coin from the base commander.

"I lived in Abilene for a long time, but I never had the chance to see Dyess," Keegan said. "I didn't know what to expect when I arrived, but to be given the opportunity to blow things up and get close to a B-1 and the Airmen who work on them is more than what I could have asked for."

Though the program is titled "Pilot for a Day," selected children are not limited to experiencing the lifestyle of just a pilot.

"Our goal is not to tie them down to being a pilot for a day, but to provide a tour specific to their interests," Hansen said. "If they want to be a fireman, then we will take them to the fire department, if they want to hang with EOD, that's what we will set up. Our goal is to just have fun."

Even though Keegan enjoyed all of the day's events, one activity in particular stood out.

"If I had to choose my favorite it would have to be when I went out with EOD," Keegan said. "The Airmen there let me feel the C-4 and detonate an explosive in a car. Nothing can compare to feeling the shockwave or seeing a fireball shoot up in the air. It was amazing!"

At the end of the tour, Keegan wanted to say a few words before his farewell.

"I am absolutely speechless for what the Airmen did for me," he said. "All I can say is thank you. This has meant a lot to me."

Largest Center in USO History to Open at Fort Belvoir, VA

USO Warrior and Family Center to provide a “home away from home” for local troops, wounded warriors, their families and caregivers as they recover and heal with honor

WHAT:                 Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir

WHEN:                 Tuesday, February 5, 2013
                                *Media must RSVP by noon Monday, Feb 4th for gate clearance
                                **Media need to arrive by noon at the Tulley Gate for escort on Tuesday, Feb 5th

WHERE:               USO Warrior and Family Center
                                5940 Belvoir Road
(9th Street and Belvoir Rd)
Fort Belvoir, VA

WHO:                   Sloan Gibson, CEO and President, USO
Elaine Rogers, CEO and President, USO Metropolitan of Washington, DC
Colonel Gregory Gadson, Commander of the U.S. Army Fort Belvoir Garrison
H.E. Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah and Mrs. Rima Al-Sabah, The Kuwait America Foundation
Senior government officials
Members of Congress
Senior military members
Individual and corporate donors
Wounded, ill and injured troops
                                USO Metropolitan of Washington, DC volunteers            

WHY:                    The largest center in USO history, the USO Warrior and Family Center will support wounded, ill and injured troops, their families and caregivers and local active duty troops and their families. It will be a place where families of our wounded, ill and injured troops can be together, away from the hospital environment.  It will also be a place where they can reconnect with their fellow service members and their community and make the necessary transitions to service or civilian life. Here, they can enjoy a home-cooked meal, their children can play, and troops and their families can rest, relax and begin to work toward the future in a positive and supportive environment.

The center is an integral part of the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Complex at Fort Belvoir. The USO amenities on the center’s grounds provide a central gathering place to enhance the most important non-clinical needs of the patients and their families. Strategically located directly adjacent to the WTU, our healing heroes and their families and caregivers have easy access to the hospital and a host of support services to help in their recovery process.

The building — which measures more than 20,000 square feet and has more than 20 unique spaces— includes a business center, dining room, healing gardens as well as a game room and music room that will provide a place for USO Warrior and Family Care programs and activities that promote:

·         Physical health and recreation
·         Family strengthening
·         Positive behavioral health
·         Education
·         Employment
·         Community reintegration

RSVP:                    Media interested in covering the event must RSVP to Gayle Fishel at 703-908-6433 or Michelle Shortencarrier at 703-864-6429 by noon on Monday, February 4th.  Media will not be allowed access to the installation unless and until an authorized Public Affairs representative is available to provide escort from the gate to the event site.


About the USO

The USO (United Service Organizations) lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide. We provide a touch of home through centers at airports and military bases in the U.S. and abroad, top quality entertainment and innovative programs and services. We also provide critical support to those who need us most, including forward-deployed troops, military families, wounded warriors and their families and the families of the fallen.

CMSAF transition: Airmen say goodbye to Roy, welcome Cody

by Staff Sgt. David Salanitri
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

1/24/2013 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (AFNS) -- The Air Force appointed its 17th chief master sergeant of the Air Force during a transition and retirement ceremony here Jan. 24.

In his last official act before retiring, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy relinquished the duties and responsibilities of the Air Force's highest enlisted leader to Chief Master Sgt. James Cody.

Looking across the airplane hangar, Cody addressed some of his main goals in his new position.

"We have to invest before we can reap rewards," said Cody, who was previously assigned as the command chief master sergeant of Air Education and Training Command. "We will continue to invest in the development of our Airmen in the most deliberate way possible, and we will ensure our force is ready to handle the challenges it will face in the future."

Cody said as the service's senior enlisted leader, his focus will be on helping Airmen be successful.

"We need to protect them by making sure they know how to deal with the stress that comes with military life," said Cody. "We will focus on strengthening relationships, taking care of one another, and holding each other more accountable for measuring up to the high standards we demand of every Airman."

Themes of innovation and critical thinking were reinforced throughout the ceremony with Cody calling upon Airmen to continue being efficient tacticians.

"As resources tighten, our nation will require more from each one of us. Airmen will meet that challenge through innovation as they always have," he said.

Though today's ceremony was a time to celebrate the retirement of Roy and the appointment Cody, leaders reminded the crowd that there's work to be done.

The Air Force's highest ranking uniformed Airman said he is ready to roll up his sleeves, alongside Chief and Mrs. Cody.

"Take a look around the hangar here," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "This is your Air Force. And all of us are now your Airmen. Lead us well."

During the ceremony, the Air Force debuted a new item for enlisted Airmen to be proud of -- the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force positional colors.

Today's ceremony contained great moments -- the transition of the service's 17th CMSAF and the unveiling of the positional colors. However, there was also a bittersweet moment as the Air Force said farewell to a great Airman.

Speaking to his character, one theme throughout Roy's farewell speech was the importance of relationships.

"Over the past few weeks I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my career," said Roy. "I've been thinking -- not about what we got accomplished, or what we didn't get accomplished -- but about relationships.

"Our 30 years in the Air Force allowed Ms. Paula and I to develop a lot of valuable relationships," he said. "We are thankful for each of these, and will continue to build on them as we move into the next chapter of our lives."

Roy's three and a half years as chief master sergeant of the Air Force was marked by building relationships with Airmen. A staunch advocate of face-to-face communication, Roy traveled about nine months out of each year to meet and interact with Airmen of all ranks.

Cody said he will continue that legacy.

"To ensure continued success, leaders at all levels must focus on our Airmen and their families," said Cody. "We look forward to getting out to the bases and meeting our Airmen, listening to their stories, understanding their challenges. And we're committing to you we will bring those back and work those issues hard here on the staff."

After closely working together the past six months, Roy and Welsh have bonded over a common denominator -- caring for Airmen.

"Chief Roy, there's just no way to properly say thank you for what you've given to our Air Force ... but thank you," said Welsh. "Take care of yourself 16, and wear the number proudly. You've earned it."