Featured Video

Renaming of camps and forts

The cultural change movement is seeking to erase our history rather than understand it and learn from it.  As part of this these “progressives” have launched a full scale, frontal attack on our heritage, our history, and the traditions of the US Army. I was born at Fort Benning when my father was stationed there in the days leading up to World War II.  When I was several months old, we moved to Fort Bragg from which the 82nd Airborne Division deployed to North Africa to fight Nazism and fascism. Today, we face a form of domestic intellectual and cultural warfare that is potentially more dangerous than many of the other threats that we have faced.

What do you think of when you hear the following names: Camp Beauregard and Fort Polk in Louisiana; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia; Fort Bragg in North Carolina; Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia; Fort Rucker in Alabama, and Fort Hood in Texas? For this old soldier, I think of National Guard and reserve training centers, a national training center, the Army Signal Center, the home of the 18th Airborne Corps, birthplace, Airborne and Ranger school, the Army Logistics Center, the Army Aviation Center, an armored corps, etc.

It would be interesting to poll past and present members of the US Army and to ask them if they ever even thought about the source of the name of the fort or camp where they were stationed or training. I, for one, did not. I related a specific fort to the activities on that fort and the units traditionally stationed there.  Allegiance was not to a fort but the unit I was assigned to.

On the other side of the equation are those who point at the individual Confederate generals for whom these ten forts and camps in the south are named.  Some argue that each of these generals was a traitor, an incompetent, and a slaveholder. Their treachery is a fact, but in many cases, their military genius is widely studied to this day. We should have this debate, but a wholesale rewriting of history to serve political or pseudo-cultural ends is dangerous and decidedly un-American. In the current zeitgeist, not only do these former generals come up for attack, but in recent days mobs have defaced memorials honoring Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator himself, and abolitionist Matthias Baldwin. So let us have a debate, but never give in to the mob.

This is a watershed moment in our nation’s history. I was in high school when the National Guard was called in to enforce the Supreme Court’s Brown decision to end segregated schools. I was a cadet and young officer when the Army again acted to put down riots in the late 1960s. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson were all correct in using military power to enforce civil rights and protect civilians and property. Similarly, President George H.W. Bush was right to use troops to end the riots in Los Angeles after the acquittal of the cops who beat Rodney King. Today, when politics and ideology seem to trump nearly all other considerations, support for ending riots and looting appears to require you first declare your political allegiance to the movement that is creating this grief.

I urge our elected and appointed leaders to resist the temptation to give in to the loudest, angriest elements of the citizenry. The evils of slavery, segregation, and racism constitute the original sin of America. The US Army, from the freedman and former slaves who fought on the side of the Union to the Buffalo Soldiers and the Nisei, have time and again showed that the brotherhood of soldiers is larger and more open-minded than any college campus. There is much to be proud of in our history. Erasing the ugly parts will do nothing to solve the challenges ahead of us as a military and as a country.

USMA graduates letter to the class of 2020

It was brought to my attention by a classmate that a letter, signed by almost 700 graduates of West Point, was sent to the class of 2020.  This article is a response to that letter.[i]

Interestingly, a number of graduates did not have the courage to reveal their names rather they took the moniker of “anonymous”.

The letter is critical of a number of issues related to the use of the military in recent events throughout the country.  Regarding that, it is my understanding to this point that only police and some National Guards have been used to suppress riots, looting and the general mayhem we have seen recorded that have followed peaceful protests.

There are those of us who wish that the military had been used to stop the damage in Minneapolis and other places—but they weren’t because the mayor and governor were weak kneed.

Before we start on this topic, lest there be any misunderstanding, I want to go on record about the killing of George Floyd, which allegedly has sparked the protests and some/much of the subsequent violence.  The use of force observed in the killing of Mr. Floyd recently was clearly tragic and unnecessary.  It has been rapidly taken to the authorities who have remanded the officer who killed Mr. Floyd and his associated officers for arraignment and subsequent trial for their actions.

George Floyd has been portrayed as a “good man”.   However, let us not forget that the aforementioned Mr Floyd had a long record of violence and criminality and died with fentanyl (86 ng/mL of “free morphine”) in his system, had recently ingested methamphetamine and only came to light to the authorities when he allegedly attempted to cash a counterfeit $20 bill.  This in no way justifies the treatment and the tragic manner in which he was killed.  Perhaps he had been trying to turn his life around as has been stated.

We have been endowed by our Creator with free will.  Sometimes we make poor choices but no one today wants to recognize that choices have consequences.

I would like to address just two of the highlights of this letter below.

One premise is that “Sadly, the government has threatened to use the Army in which you serve as a weapon against fellow Americans engaging in these legitimate protests.  Worse, military leaders, who took the same oath you take today, have participated in politically charged events,” 

“The oath taken by those who choose to serve in America’s military is aspirational. We pledge service to no monarch; no government; no political party; no tyrant,” the group wrote, adding that they were “concerned that fellow graduates serving in senior-level, public positions are failing to uphold their oath of office and their commitment to Duty, Honor, Country.”

It would appear that the signers of the letter failed to read and understand a number of things.

First is the officer’s oath of allegiance which states:  I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

Second is the Constitution Article III Section III of the United States which addresses Posse Comitatius.  It states, “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State or Territory by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.”

“The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both . . . shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it—(1) so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law . . . . ”

Unfortunately, peaceful (legitimate) protests, which I think everyone believes are just, have had a tendency to turn violent.  It seems to me that the use of violence in protests which have turned into riots against legitimate authority, violence against the police, property owners and others is infringing upon others right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  These events clearly deprive a class of people of their right to protection under the law.

The author(s) of the aforementioned letter further have perhaps failed to recognize that the both national guards and military forces have been used multiple times in the past, to include the recent past by both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Do you feel as a citizen that it is your right to feel safe in your abode, your car or place of business?

If yes, who do you expect to protect your life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness against riot, looting, mayhem physical assault and possible death?   If not the states, who cannot or will not protect people, then the United States government?

As inspirational as Duty, Honor, Country is, the oath taken by officers would appear very clear.   “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic“.   Are those who would cause destruction and mayhem an enemy?

So I am puzzled by their lack of understanding of the oath they took and the Constitution of the United States.  They were required to study it as cadets!

Is it the inability to read and understand the English language?  The failure of our educational system?  A failure of the values of West Point?  Or perhaps the unmitigated hatred of a president they cannot abide flamed by a media and press who have lost their sense of justice and integrity.

Maybe it is their disloyalty that the writers so passionately desire to attribute to others.  It should be said that if the writers had not targeted two members of the class of 1986—Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper—that what they wrote could be said about any group of graduates serving in any administration by those who did not like the policies of that administration.

In my opinion, the originators of this letter have taken Trump derangement/hate syndrome to an extreme and in so doing have sullied the reputation of West Point—shame on them!  Most likely the idea of the letter originated from a Biden staffer or a wanta be Biden staffer. The originator most likely is looking for a downstream payoff and does not worry about sullying the reputation of West Point.  Unfortunately he must have almost failed law as a cadet, as pointed out above.

I am sure that both the President of Association of Graduates and Superintendent of West Point believe that being a graduate of West Point is a sacred honor and the comradeship of fellow graduates is a most critical bond.  If they had their way this issue would go away and the signers return to the fold of graduates whose solemn duty is to defend the constitution.

Maybe the originator and signers should file Duty, Honor and Country off of their class rings if they choose to not repudiate the letter.

Contrary to the letter almost all graduates still support the constitution and the academy motto of “Duty, Honor, Country.”

[i] I am very grateful for the input of several West Point classmates whose thoughts have been incorporated into this response.

Happy birthday US Army

June 14th is the 255th birthday of the US Army.  The Army that I and most of my classmates served in.  The Army that my father served in and many of the veterans of many wars served in.

I am providing a musical tribute to that Army as performed by the West Point Alumni Glee Club.  https://youtu.be/amCP9zOifVE.  Please fee free to sing along!

June 14 is also flag day–show our colors.

World War II–75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe

Tomorrow (May 8) is the 75th anniversary of victory in Europe in World War II. This was the war of your father or grandfather. My father was killed in Sicily almost 77 years ago. Others have stories to tell.
To commemorate this great event I am providing the video at {https://youtu.be/eNx-4mIJMuw}. It is from the Johnny Vet: Freedom Isn’t Free – A Veteran’s Musical Journey Through History, performed by the West Point Alumni Glee Club in November of 2017.
If you know a World War II vet please share it with him.

Trump’s Guidelines

As a follow-up to my article of yesterday on acceptable risk this article addresses the phases laid out by the President yesterday. He said his new guidelines “will allow governors to take a phased and deliberate approach to reopening their individual states.”  This article does not support giving all decision making to the governors or basing all unlocking of the economy upon medical data.

Let me posit that the medical modeling that drove the shutdown was extremely inaccurate—it predicted 2.2 million deaths.  To depend upon further medical models entirely is therefore somewhat wanting.

The deference to state governors comes days after Trump claimed that his “authority is total” on the question of reopening the country. But the president also made clear that he wanted a quick return to normal life. The governors pushed back on his claim of authority.  His authority is not total as he claims, but it is much larger than probably the democrat governors want to understand.

The issue is not federalism as the governors used the concept to claim that the president’s authority in matters of state commerce is concerned.  What was not mentioned is the inter-state commerce clause of the constitution. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the constitution states: “(The Congress shall have Power) To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

This article is one of the most litigated parts of the constitution.  It has been used to greatly expand the reach of the federal government into the activities of many business activities.  In today’s highly inter-related economy it applies to almost every business activity of any significance.  The Congress has created laws to limit everything from marijuana growth to civil rights and has justified such laws under the inter-state commerce clause of the constitution.  The President is charged with upholding the laws of the nation. In this role he has great power over the companies involved in interstate commerce.

Additionally the President’s role as commander in chief gives him authority over the military that might be located in different states and one would expect certain critical defense industries.

The President unfortunately in his three phases of recovery announced yesterday did not relate either his role as commander-in-chief or the presiding officer over interstate commerce to the phases.  The phases were all driven by medical data.

The President did say that: “A national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution,” “To preserve the health of our citizens, we must also preserve the health and functioning of our economy. Over the long haul, you can’t do one without the other.”

At first glance, the three-phase guidelines seem unlikely to alter the “new-normal” routine for many Americans.  He said his new guidelines “will allow governors to take a phased and deliberate approach to reopening their individual states.”

The reopening will be staggered and that states and counties would have to go through “gated criteria of 14 days of decreasing evidence of illness,”

  • “Phase one begins with all vulnerable individuals, including those with comorbidity continuing to shelter in place, and insuring that those that first go out in public are not those that are the most vulnerable to bad outcomes in this disease,” In order to move on to phase two, a state should demonstrate no evidence of a rebound in cases.
  • The phase two guidelines continue to recommend that citizens avoid gatherings of 50 people or more, as well as the sheltering of vulnerable individuals, but allow for the resumption of non-essential travel.
  • The phase three guidelines allow vulnerable individuals to resume limited public interactions, but advises that all citizens “minimize time spent in crowded environments.” Workplace restrictions would also be lifted in phase three, and gyms and bars can be reopened.

There is a key word above – counties.  This would suggest that counties could be treated by governors the same way that states are at the federal level.  In my example of yesterday this could allow Governor Kelly of Kansas to unlock the western counties of the state and allow them to progress to phase 3 almost immediately.

Applying the commander in chief and interstate commerce powers the President could also exempt certain activities and organizations from the control of a governor if it impeded the pursuit of national objectives.

In conclusion the Presidents 3 phases give him political cover from charges of being slow on opening the country’s economy back up.  The blame has been passed to the governors. Certain governors, as demonstrated by recent and future planned demonstrations, are bearing the brunt of their misguided, draconian limitations on their citizens.  One article I read today talked about an “American uprising.”

However the restart of the economy occurs it needs to be done in an expeditious manner.

Acceptable risk

On 24 March I wrote an article discussing whether the cure for the virus was worse than the virus itself.  It is now time to revisit the message of that article.  We see selected governors extending their blanket closing into May, at the minimum.  This is absurd except for the politics that underlies it.

Part of the thinking that underlies the extended shutdowns is that it would be terrible for there to be one death from the China virus on an individual’s watch after the lockdown is lifted, while there is no guilt associated with all of the deaths each year from the flu.  The media has created a psychological monster out of the China virus. This monster it is hoped will bring down the president.

The political/media game somehow made the China virus more dangerous than the annual flu.  At worst the numbers may end up being about the same and most likely the annual 60,000 deaths from the flu will exceed the China virus.  But of course the democrats need to remove Trump’s economic success.  The way to do that is to keep the country locked down.

The question then is when and how will the country get back to work?

In spite of all of the government stimulus money many small businesses may find it impossible to reopen:

  • Market has been usurped by a company that avoided the shutdown—it was essential
  • Employees have found work elsewhere or are not yet ready to go back to work because government unemployment benefits are too good to be true, but they are
  • Government regulations will be so restrictive so as to prevent a small restaurant, for example, to be profitable. (Table spacing an example.)

The handful of states that do not have sweeping lock down orders — Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming — counted fewer than 300 mortalities between them as of Wednesday afternoon, according to their websites, and roughly 11,000 cases. In these examples lockdowns were not necessary and yet infections did not explode. They each are governed by Republicans.

Continuing lockdowns may be undercut with the governors now having been acknowledged to have the authority to loosen their lock downs.  If demonstrations such as occurred in Michigan this week continue this attempt to paint the economy failure as Trump’s fault may fail.  Expect more bombastic press briefings in the White House. In short the governors could be blamed for local economic problems.  Having fought the White House for the power to unlock they may still try to shift the blame for economic problems onto Trump.

The other message from the left is that the President’s handling of the virus has been incompetent.  Of course Adam Schiif will attempt to make this message get traction, but the experts will most likely make his attempts to be shown to be empty.

In some states with Democrat governors it is likely that they are trying to get the attention of the Biden staff so as to be considered for vice-presidential candidacy.  This may backfire on want-to-be Vice President governors such as Kelly in Kansas and Whitmer in Michigan. Both of these governors have portions of their states where the lockdowns could be relaxed. (Similar to the 8 states noted above.)  Case in point.  Western Kansas hardly has any virus cases.  The same is true of the rural portions of most states, as noted above.

In the coming days we should expect to see recommendations on industries and geographic areas that can be unlocked early in the unlock process. In looking at the unlock process there will be multiple considerations in what / where to unlock.  The amount of infection in a geographic area will be critical.  Demand for the product of a small business (or any business) will also be a critical consideration. Certain industries where large groups gathered may be late in the unlock process.

The Washington Post reported that the White House draft plan gave four criteria for a state to reopen. According to the Post: a low number of infections, a monitoring system to detect new infections, a medical system that can accommodate a surge of new infections, and enough hospital beds to handle that surge.  These criteria are insufficient.  Consideration also needs to be taken to the considerations listed above.

As we watch the coming debate we need to keep the above thoughts in mind.  Politics will become more and more dominant as this goes forward.

The economy or the people? Or Is the cure worse than the virus?

 

President Trump said Tuesday during a Fox News virtual town hall that he wants the country’s economy re-opened by Easter amid questions over how long people should stay home and businesses should remain closed to slow the spread of coronavirus. Speaking from the Rose Garden alongside others on his coronavirus taskforce, Trump said he “would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” The holiday this year lands on April 12.

The President also reiterated his argument that he doesn’t want “to turn the country off” and to see a continued economic downfall from the pandemic. “We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu. We don’t turn the country off,” Trump said during the interview. He added: “We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We don’t call up the automobile companies and say stop making cars. We have to get back to work.”

The President’s optimism of course is countered by all of the panic and anti-trump rhetoric of the media.  Have you heard the media report the praise for the actions of the president from unlikely leaders like the governors of California and New York?  Some of the closures are clearly the result of the panic created by the media.  The rest is truly to ease of contagion of the virus.

The president’s prediction that the U.S. economy would be up-and-running by Easter, however, is tempered by comments earlier in the day by top officials at the Pentagon who predicted the COVID-19 outbreak could last anywhere from 10 weeks to three months.

Trump’s thoughts about getting people back to work sets up a potential conflict with medical professionals, including many within his government, who have called for more social restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, not fewer.

For weeks now, millions of Americans have been practicing “social distancing” in an effort to “flatten the curve” of increasing Chinese Coronavirus infections. Governors in California and New York have issued “stay at home orders” and closed “non-essential” businesses in an effort to stem the growth of the illness. Other states have made similar or more limited declarations or are considering them.  Most states have ended the school year and are trying some form of remote education.  This would be more practical if every school child had a computer and every home had the internet.  (This will be the subject of a whole new article as I learn from the experience of our grandchildren.

While more than 40,000 Americans currently are infected with Chinese Coronavirus, hundreds of millions of others are suffering from the outbreak’s related effects. The U.S. economy is in shambles. The stock market has seen catastrophic losses. Out of an abundance of caution, millions of workers have been sent home. Thousands have been laid off. Restaurants and businesses have been shuttered, and many — especially small ones — may not re-open.

The negative financial impact of the shutdown/quarantine strategy gets worse every day. But are these widespread, but hopefully short-term, economic losses necessary? Will they avert a long-term economic crisis that could potentially kill hundreds of thousands?

As we come full circle from the Rose Garden’s hope of today about opening the country by Easter to the risk of opening the government prematurely maybe there is a compromise solution.

Some places like Wyoming and many of the other mid-western states have few cases of the virus.  Many locales in even New York have few cases.  Such an analysis of the country suggests that there are large pockets of minimal contamination.  Also we know that the vulnerable population groups are the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.  Younger Americans my get the virus but the effects are minimal.  This suggests another way to dice who can go back to work—non-threatened folks.

It is only smart to continue to limit large gatherings but many other social interactions can be resumed in selected locales.

To me the biggest threat while living is Kansas is flying on commercial aircraft.  The airlines should use some of their stimulus money to devise methods of purifying the air inside their planes while they are in flight. 

Of course travel is one of the biggest threats to the selective isolation that I have suggested (age and locale) as the virus can be brought from one of the isolated pockets to a relatively clear zone.

As the country and its leadership struggle with the dilemma pointed out here it would be terribly helpful if the media could stop the hate Trump rhetoric and substitute a support for America theme—why not try telling folks what is good? Or be truly complete in its reporting—“New York City is out of certain needed items because the administration forgot to order them and the government has not been able to fill all of its needs yet.” “Areas critically impacted are in New York, where they did not cancel Lunar New year celebrations.” Complete and accurate reporting and positive stories about women in Kansas making facemasks for a local hospital would also be nice to hear.

I ask my readers to consider the closure of the society and the risks from that versus the closure of the economy and the much longer and possibly worse impact from that.  What is worse—some deaths from the virus or a depression?

Restructuring the Marine Corps

In the last several months the United States Marine Corps (USMC) has introduced a new vision for the structure of the Corps for 2030.  This Marine Corps 10-year restructuring is to align itself with the National Defense Strategy, but in doing so, in my mind, it risks ignoring the last 70 years of its history.

The commandant of the Corps is seeking to transition the Corps away from its two-decade-long focus on counter-insurgency and towards the international competition that the national strategy poses as the greatest threats in the future. However, the commandant and other Marine Corps leaders are announcing that as part of this transition, they would eliminate/greatly reduce capabilities for sustained ground combat.

For example, as it gears up to fight China in this anticipated period of great power competition, the USMC will trim the size of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter squadrons and cut all of its tank battalions in the next 10 years. It is also greatly reducing its artillery depending on increased lethality and accuracy of the remaining tubes. These changes, part of the 2030 force design effort, come as a result of the Corps’ wargaming and analysis effort meant to inform what it needs to fight a near-peer threat in 2030. According to the outline, the Marine Corps will cut the “the Primary Aircraft Authorized” for both the F-35B and F-35C squadrons down to 10 aircraft from 16. Also in the next 10 years, the Marine Corps is planning for “complete divestments of Law Enforcement Battalions, Tank Battalions and associated Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), and all Bridging Companies.”  It will also greatly reduce its logistical support capability.  Finally, it is seeking to move into the longer range missile field, as we reported, rather than rely on the Army which is also moving in that direction.

There are two risks in this force structure revision.

  • The national command authorities will use the tools that they have available when a conflict arises. The Marine Corps they employ will not be dependent upon the Marine Corps’ capabilities or design at that time. The lack of diversity and flexibility in the capabilities to be applies could waste lives .This is not a new phenomenon. Look at the US Army that was deployed to Vietnam in the mid- 1960s.  It was designed to fight the Soviets on the plains of the Fulda Gap.
  • Why would the Corps want to be in a position where it cannot go to war without Army support for tanks, heavy firepower, logistics, and mobility? In short the changes undermine the Marine Corps’ expeditionary nature. The Army provides niche capabilities like psychological operations units and theater-wide logistics to all U.S. forces, not just the Marine Corps — the point is valid: The Marine Corps has been able to deploy and fight a wide variety of adversaries using its organic capabilities.

The Marine Corps should also avoid completely eliminating capabilities. Although the new guidance implies such eliminations, this creates gaps that might need filling in. Instead of creating these large gaps in capability the Corps should maintain in the Marine Corps Reserve an extensive toolkit as a hedge against an uncertain future. Traditionally, the Marine Corps reserves have been structured nearly identically to the active-duty force with a division, air wing, logistics group, and command headquarters. It is the only service that does this. The other services use the reserves to provide capabilities that are few or nonexistent in the active-duty force.

Thus, the Marine Corps could put capabilities into the reserves that don’t fit well with a western Pacific great-power strategy, but that would be needed for other kinds of campaigns. Using tanks as an example, the Marine Corps could reduce the number on active duty armored units to one company per division but keep an enhanced force of several battalion in the reserves. Personnel managers will whine that they cannot sustain the skill base with such a small active-duty community. The other services have figured out how to do this The Marine Corps can also.

Your thoughts?

New Howitzer Range

The Army’s improved Paladin 155 mm howitzer recently impressed officials at Yuma Proving Grounds.  The tests sent an improved projectile to an altitude of 50,000 feet and a distance of over 40 miles.  The goal is a range in excess of 60 miles.

Each armored or mechanized brigade includes a battalion of 18 such howitzers.  However brigades are currently hard pressed to acquire targets independently out to 60 miles away. This suggests that other changes need to follow in intelligence acquisition and overall doctrine of how divisions and brigades will fight the battle.

I would ask my readers for their ideas/suggestions on changes on doctrinal and equipment that the new artillery capability will necessitate. Let’s hear from you.

Learning from the corona virus

While the media spasms[i] over the corona virus as a way to get rid of President Trump, we should be examining critical lessons that we should learn with respect to military preparedness.

The corona virus (Covid-19) outbreak is causing some disruptions in military productions and activities.  Right now these are precautionary.  The bigger issue that these disruptions highlight is the issue of single source procurement.  Will external sources being interrupted result in more producers returning to the US? Are self-imposed risks acceptable?

Some of the disruptions in military activities include:

  • Lockheed Martin has held up production of F-35s in Italy and Japan. They have told employees to stay home for the next week. However, Lt Gen Fick (Program Manager) said that he does not anticipate any other disruption to the supply chain and that the Joint Program Office (JPO) is not taking any deliberate steps to actively curtail any ripple effects due to the corona virus that may further go through the F-35 supply chain.
  • The Indian Navy (IN) has postponed the 10-day long ‘Milan 2020’ multilateral exercise it was expected to host in the Bay of Bengal for 31 navies. The IN said in a statement on 3 March that this year’s iteration of the biennial exercise, which was scheduled to begin on 18 March, has been deferred after taking “the safety of all participants and travel restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19”
  • The Pentagon will decide soon how to prepare for the upcoming military moving season with the outbreak based on whether the new COVID-19 virus is still active in late spring through early fall, a military doctor said Wednesday. Presently travel to and from Korea is halted.
  • Military families in Italy are facing a third week of school and day care closures. They are also facing a two week quarantine when/if they return to the US.
  • The Army is screening new recruits before they enter basic training. Any found positive for COVID-19 will be quarantined.

It is certain that these are only the tip of the iceberg.  What is most important is what are we learning from the ongoing disruptions?  Are we examining supply chains to see where we have potential bottlenecks?  Are corporations and government entities willing to pay the price for some redundancy or are they going to take a risk? Risk might be acceptable in some categories or cases but not others.  Examples where risk may not be acceptable include pharmaceuticals, long lead time parts and components for essential military equipment, critical personnel skills.

The obvious other casualty of this virus scare is globalism.  When critical things have been allowed or even encouraged to be externally produced and then become unavailable due to disruptions in production and thus the supply chain in addition to looking for alternate production providers we might just question the whole philosophy that caused the problem—globalism.

A peacetime example that could occur next week to military units because of personnel replacement disruptions.  As an armored brigade commander I had over 100 tanks to maintain.  In my direct support maintenance unit there was only an authorization for 2 turret mechanics with a critical skill. If one of those authorizations was not filled and the other individual was on special duty my turret problems went unresolved until I could find a work around.  So an efficiency in personnel created a maintenance bottleneck and reduced readiness of several tanks.  Was this an acceptable risk?  Not to me but surely to the bean counters in the Pentagon.  Surely they considered the risk.  But what if the bottleneck is not anticipated or there is not a work around. This example applies as much to the supply chain as it does to personnel.  Is there a workaround whether it be alternate suppliers or backup capabilities? Redundancy is not necessarily bad.

These are the questions that we should be answering.  We should thank the Covid-19 for forcing the consideration of the risks created by what were thought to be the efficiencies of single source and function operations and globalism.

[i] “Unfortunately, we have been able to assess that accounts tied to Russia, the entire ecosystem of Russian disinformation, has been engaged in the midst of this world health crisis,” Lea Gabrielle, head of the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, testified before the Senate on Thursday.

She went on: “We saw the entire ecosystem of Russian disinformation at play. Russian state proxy websites, official state media, as well as swarms of online, false personas pushing out false narratives.”