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Weaponization in the political process

The last five years have seen a distinctive and worrisome change to our political process.  There have been new and more dangerous weapons added to our political process.  To those who hated Trump and anything related to Trump the ends of ousting Trump and then “killing off” his supporters make sense.  Many of those who support these new weapons are new to the political dialogue and to them the ends justify the means.  However, the leaders who are employing these weapons, don’t seem to care about the impact of their actions on our democracy.  This is truly worrisome.  Let me elaborate.

Impeachment.  As we all know President Trump was impeached based on a phone call.  Then the Democratic floor leaders added any other accusation into their rhetoric that they could think of to further smear this sitting president.  Now, even after he is out of office the Democrats want to impeach him again in the hope that they can prevent him from running again in 2024.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, when he announced that he would not preside over such a circus, was sending a clear signal that he did not believe that such an event was constitutional.  This hasn’t deterred the Democrats at all.  One cannot be sure whether it is Trump Derangement Syndrome or fear of another Trump campaign that motivates the Democrats—it is probably some of both.  The issue is that they have taken a constitutional procedure and weaponized it.  When all else failed to prevent President Trump from fulfilling his campaign promises they went for the ultimate weapon—impeachment.

This weaponization sets a terrible precedent that could upset our political process going forward.  Past Presidents must now be concerned that they can be impeached after they are out of office.  Will the Republicans impeach President Obama for Russia gate?  Will President Biden be impeached for his son’s financial dealings and his lies about them?  We can’t answer these questions but we can see how this one precedent could upset our political process for years to come.  Presidents could be afraid to do what is right for fear of a vindictive speaker of the house.  The power of intimidation by impeachment threat—that is a new and dangerous weapon.

Tyranny of the majority. The second example of the tyranny of the majority is all of the discussion of removing committee assignments from a member of the House because of her recommendation that President Biden be impeached.  It is a member’s party not the other party that decides a members committee assignment. What is even scarier about this is the used the process to skim off some Republicans, thus further dividing a party that really needs to learn to hang tough. However, now the Democratic majority has removed a member’s assignments by simple voting them off.  Relatedly, the Senate Ethics Committee looking at Senators Cruz and Hawley for challenging the election results is another example of trying to deter future challenges of the majority’s positions by members of the minority.  Again, the goal is power—the power to intimidate.

One must wonder what will happen in 2022 if the Republicans gain control of one or both houses of Congress.  The Democrats know that the Republicans are not as vicious as they are so maybe they don’t have any concerns about precedents.  Maybe we will get to find out.

Finally, another intimidation weapon is the denial of freedom of speech.  Between the Democrats in Congress, the White House and the bureaucracies there is an active effort to deny people the freedom to speak their minds on a subject if it runs counter to what the majority wants the people to hear and maybe understand.  This silencing through the power of big tech and the media is another threat to our political process.  We will address it next.

Biden’s flurry of executive orders

I held back my views during the election season and the post-election squabbles, but now that the new President is acting like the dictator that he claimed President Trump was something needs to be said.

The plethora of Executive Orders are designed to do two things:

  1. Eliminate anything and everything that might be have been Trump related, and
  2. Present the image that there is a lot being done.

Let me just provide a couple of examples.  One of the first Executive Orders stopped work on the Keystone Pipeline.  Of course, this was advertised as helping the environment because now oil would be more expensive and the cost of gas would go up and thus people would drive less—the standard Obama justification for such actions.  However, the actual effect was to put 11,000 workers out of work just at the time the economy was still trying to recover from the effects of COVID-19. The effect also was to ensure future revenue for hauling the oil by rail for Berkshire Hathaway’s railroad—Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).  Warren Buffet who founded Berkshire Hathaway has been a large donor to Democratic party causes.  Hmmmm…..

Related to the pipeline order is our relationship to Saudi Arabia.  The status of the Houthi rebels in Yemen was changed—they are no longer a terrorist group.  And $500 million in arms sales to the Saudis is being reconsidered.  Cut their arms and increase their oil revenue once the US is no longer energy independent.  Is this really going to be our policy?  All in the name of the environment.

The Saudi linkage goes on as the attempt to re-establish relations with Iran and the Palestinians flies directly in the face of the Trump Abraham initiative that has several Arab states recognizing and normalizing relations with Israel.

This one example shows the lack of analysis of internal linkages and relationship to other orders and the resulting causes and effects.  Additionally, some of the rhetoric about what the now out of work pipeline workers can do was not very politically adept: “they can make solar panels.”

The second example is the removal of the Trump administration ban on the use of foreign aid monies to pay for abortions.  Being pro abortion as a policy position is an open choice, but why at the beginning of one’s term as president does he have to anger the Catholic church and over half of the national population who are against abortion.  And then the optics of sending money abroad for abortions while the Democrats can’t get a COVID relief bill through Congress are not what a good Democrat would want.  But of course, it is a Trump policy to reverse and thus it had to be done immediately.

As these Executive Orders continue and the Congress wastes its time on an unconstitutional impeachment the Biden Administration is digging itself into a position that many pundits suggest will cost them both the Senate and the House in 2022.  What will they do then?  Will a Republican House impeach Obama, or Biden or Harris or all three?  What about Jimmy Carter?  Of course, I jest but the precedence is not one they should set—but of course who would think of linkages and consequences?

More to follow in coming weeks.

Globalists Return

Now that it appears that Joe Biden will become president on 20 January those that favor military deployments all over the world are starting to remerge after having been beaten down by President Trump.

In order to highlight their argument, I am re-posting an article that I received from PresidentialInsider.com.

“Withdrawing into a defensive and insular crouch here at home risks leaving Americans more isolated and more vulnerable to threats,” Panetta wrote. “More than ever, Americans must go abroad to remain secure at home.”

Hear that? More foreign wars.

And you can bet that Biden is listening if he becomes president in January.

The various essays in the report explore lots of different overseas conflicts and give arguments for why more American blood should be shed overseas.

Col. Maxwell, a former Special Forces officer, criticized the president’s commitment to bringing American soldiers home.

“Over the last couple of years there’s been a real discussion about pulling back U.S. forces. President Trump has always talked about withdrawing U.S. troops,” Maxwell lamented. “The original intent (of the report) is to show the value of our forward-stationed forces and the strategic flexibility they provide us.”

Retired Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, former National Security Advisor to President Trump, also said that there would only be “Paltry savings” to bringing Americans home and that they would be “dwarfed by the eventual cost of responding to unchecked and undeterred threats to American security, prosperity and influence.”

Does it sound like these people really have America’s best interests at heart?

The article highlights the two arguments for deploying troops abroad:

  1. We should fight whatever enemies we might have on foreign soil so that we don’t have to fight them at home.  In this regard allies and other foreign countries that are friendly with the United States cannot be trusted to deal with threats using their resources.
  2. Foreign deployments position troops closer to potential future battlegrounds making deployments easier to accomplish in less time and using fewer resources.  The example that is used is the deployment of the US V Corps from Germany to Iraq in 1990. 

Both arguments in a cold war like environment tend to make some sense.  However, there are some concerns that need to be addressed:

  1. Having troops stationed in the US with equipment foreign deployed for the troops to deploy and fall in on facilitates deployment of Rapid response forces.  V Corps Headquarters was just reactivated in Europe to be the tactical headquarters for troops being deployed from the US.  Equipment has been prepositioned for an Armored Brigade Combat Team (BCT) with more to follow.
  2. Every six to 8 months a BCT is deployed to both Eastern Europe and Korea and the ones there are returned to home stationed.  These deployment show US commitment to the respective areas and also keep the troops trained on deployment skills.
  3. Some of the troops being deployed from Germany are not coming back to the US be are moving from Germany into Eastern Europe.
  4. The argument is that troops in Eastern Europe provide a better deterrent against the Russian than if they were in Germany,
  5. There is already a “ready” BCT in Kuwait and equipment prepositioned on Diego Garcia.

The overall goal of current deployments is to increase flexibility while reducing the US overseas footprint and thus the number of targets deployed overseas.

The redeployment of troops will be one of the indicators of the extent of the return to globalism with the new administration.

Expected reaction

The sides are quickly being drawn as a result of the rapprochement agreements between Bahrain and the UAE with Israel that we addressed several days ago. This piece will quickly summarize the responses.

Reports, as suggested in our las article continue to swirl around about the Saudis reaching a similar agreement soon. It is also reported that 6 other Arab states are in the wings to make similar agreements.

Conversely:

  • Angered by the move, the Palestinian Authority recalled its ambassador to the UAE and said that it was going to withdraw from the Arab League, which refused to condemn the agreements. It expressed a feeling of betrayal
  • Hamas called the agreement a “treacherous stab in the back of the Palestinian people, There were also 3 missiles fired into Israel and a minimal Israeli responses.
  • Iran and Turkey resoundingly condemned the normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • Iran called the deal a “dagger in the back” of all Muslims,
  • Tehran also said the deal was an act of “strategic stupidity” by the UAE, and “will undoubtedly strengthen the axis of resistance in the region.”
  • The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement supporting the Palestinian administration, saying that the “history and the conscience” of the region’s people will not forget and never forgive the “hypocritical behavior” of the United Arab Emirates in agreeing to a deal with Israel.
  • Qatar sided with the Palestinian Authority

The lines are becoming much more tightly defined. The GCC states minus Qatar, but plus Jordan, Egypt and others supporting the rapprochements and Turkey, Iran and Qatar opposing the agreements.  Turkey continues its quest for leadership in the Arab nations.  Iran rightfully perceives that it is being further isolated as does the Palestinian Authority.  Qatar is in a box.  It wants to support the Palestinians and some radical Arab causes while avoiding a confrontation with Iran.  But it is geographically compromised in the region.[i]

As predicted the Palestinian Authority is becoming isolated and the pressure to reach agreement with Israel has increased significantly.  What is surprising is how fast the lines became drawn. 

Whether these agreements will have an impact on the upcoming presidential election is still unknown


[i] It should be noted that Qatar’s new Patriot air defense system has one battery oriented toward Iran and the second toward Saudi Arabia.

A new dynamic in the middle-east

A recent Democratic set of talking points created the headline:”How can there be peace when there is no war?” The headline was focused on the Trump administration’s brokering of recognition agreements between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain and Israel.  The speculation in some media is that Saudi Arabia will be the next Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) state to recognize Israel and enter into economic relations with Israel.  Unfortunately these moves have received little publicity and almost no strategic analysis.  The purpose of this article is to put a little meat on the skeleton of a strategy that is emerging.

The strategy has a lot of moving parts.  It is designed to stabilize relations in the middle-east, isolate Iran and allow for reduced defense expenditures caused by overseas deployments.  Let’s look at each piece.

Stabilization of relations means creating a coalition against Iran and solving the Palestinian issue.  With the Arab states normalizing relations with Israel the Palestinians are much more politically isolated.  Their blatant support by the other Arab states will have been reduced and they will be more dependent upon a more isolated Iran with domestic unrest and an economy that is collapsing given a loss of petro dollars.  This isolation should convince the Palestinians that they should make a deal with Israel and end their state of belligerency. 

The process of normalization with the GCC states will most likely result in all of the GCC states, except possibly Qatar, recognizing Israel and normalizing relations with it.  Qatar is isolated presently from the GCC because of its support for terrorists and other issues with the Saudis.

This normalization will create a much tighter coalition against Iran and facilitate the ability to attack Iran should that become necessary to stop the development of nuclear weapons.  With overflight and refueling support from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait it will be much easier for Israeli aircraft to reach Iran or standoff range for selective air to surface munitions to strike Iran.  This can all be accomplished with at least defensive support from the GCC states so that the Israeli aircraft are operating at least partially under the air and missile defense umbrella of the Saudis et al.

This offensive capability coupled with the ongoing economic sanctions and political unrest could easily create the conditions for a revolution within Iran and at least a reduction in support for Hamas and Hezbollah.  This of course also adds pressure on the Palestinians.  In short the synergy created by all of these peaceful changes in the middle-east provide both the framework and the impetus for the resolution of many of the sores that are open in that area.

This indirect approach to creating leverage against the Palestinians stands a great chance in succeeding in solving the Palestinian issue.

With the lessening of the bellicose situation, the US will be free to continue / finalize its redeployments from the region.  Maintaining these forces at home is cheaper than if they are overseas.  Taking them out of the force structure is the cheapest of all.  This introduces what may be the Trump plan to reduce defense expenditure in his second term, while not reducing capabilities.  This will be the subject of a later article.

Strategic force moves in Europe

Secretary of Defense Esper recently announced new changes to the US basing posture in Europe that would result in more than 10,000 troops returning to the United States from bases in Germany, followed by a relocation of military personnel to Poland, Romania and Mons, Belgium. While most of the media attention has focused on the redeployment of forces from Germany back to the United States, a new strategic decision was made by the US that will result in an increased military presence in NATO’s new front yard: the Black Sea and Poland.

The globalists and Trump haters have been railing against the withdrawal and repositioning of US forces from Germany.  These repositionings should be looked at in a strategic context, not the concerns of the Germans and their lobbyists.

Strategic realities have changed since the Cold War ended and NATO expanded to the east.  Germany is no longer the frontline between NATO and the Russian bear.  Germany is also no longer a staging area for deployment to the Middle-east.  For the first Gulf War the US deployed an entire armor corps from Germany.  It was reinforced by troops for the US.  Today there is no need for such deployments as the Trump administration does not anticipate fighting another Gulf War.

Why should US troops be deployed for German security?  What is the threat?  Why can’t the Germans defend themselves?  The Germans obviously felt that they could save on defense marks (dollars) by having US troops providing for their security.  Following World War II troops were deployed in Germany to prevent another world war—the re-emergence of Nazism.  This threat no longer exists.  Since my time in the Pentagon in the 1970s US presidents have been trying to get NATO and Germany, specifically, to pay more for its own security. 

President Trump claims that NATO has increased its defense spending by over $100 billion.  This is part of his stated goal to stop being the world’s policeman. Conversely, the US does seek to maintain a deterrent posture vis-à-vis Russia (and in Asia against China).  This deterrent posture requires different stationing schemes.  So where are the troops from Germany being restationed?

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between their two countries in Warsaw on 15 August. President Trump and his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, agreed to the overview of the provisions of the agreement in 2019. In addition, the US presence in Poland will be increased from 4,500 to 5,500 troops and infrastructure will be built to accommodate up to 20,000 US soldiers. Poland will cover some of the costs, such as those for infrastructure and logistics that are estimated at $136 million a year.

Esper announced that a US Stryker brigade would be sent to the Black Sea in what will be the first significant US military ground forces deployment to the region. The Black Sea has been the epicenter of Russia’s revisionist ambitions since its 2008 war with Georgia and its 2014 invasion and occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea and invasion of Donbass. To highlight the changes in US defense posture in the Black Sea, Esper described the move in the following strategic terms: “Look at what we’re moving. What we’re doing is … we’re moving forces out of central Europe — Germany, where they had been since the Cold War, and we’re now moving — we’re following, in many ways, the boundary east, where our newest allies are. So into the Black Sea region … That’s why it’s a strategic laydown that enhances deterrence, strengthens the allies, reassures them.”

These forward deployments enhance deterrence and realign forces to reflect the realities that is the new European of today.  For globalists this is disturbing, for true strategists it is a final reflection of new realities.  The US is putting the US first.

The “new” Democratic Party

Does anyone else remember Eugene McCarthy?  He was the Democratic Party nominee for President against Richard Nixon in 1968.  Two things to remember:

  1. He was the candidate of the anti-war liberal movement of 1968
  2. He was totally destroyed during the election as was his political base.

And the political destruction of the radical elements in the then Democratic Party was totally acceptable to the party leaders. They were opposed to the agenda of the leftists of that era.  Mayor Daly of Chicago and other traditional Democrats understood that mob rule could get out of control and then all that they had worked for would be gone.

The question one must ask is whether we are seeing another McCarthy like episode.  The powerful people behind the Democratic Party may be paying lip service to the radical socialist agenda of the current campaign of Joe Biden.  This would follow the McCarthy model of appeasing the mob without giving it power.

Even stalwarts like Donna Brazil are speaking softly about the Biden – Harris ticket.  If one thinks about the question of why Kamala Harris became the candidate he can only conclude that part of destroying the liberal wing of the party is to eliminate the most liberal Senator—Kamala Harris- from the national dialogue.

When the election is over the main line Democrats will reemerge without the Soros funded baggage to reestablish a reasonable alternative to the Republican Party.

Will Schumer and Pelosi survive?  Maybe—they payed sufficient lip service at the beginning in opposing the socialist left that they might have some credibility that will allow them to move back to the center.

Time will establish this truth.

The changing strategic Middle-East situation

The recent announcement of normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel is now being followed with discussions between Oman and Israel.  These changes suggest a new coalition between all of the Middle-Eastern states that see a threat in Iran.  When one considers the oft repeated relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia the future coalition will only grow.  (Many reports that the Saudis offered Israel refueling and recovery airfields for any attack on Iran.)

What is driving this significant change in strategic relations?  There are several factors:

  • The US is no longer dependent on oil from the region
  • US reduction of deployed forces in the region
  • The Iranian nuclear growth towards nuclear weapons continues after a temporary setback because of numerous explosions throughout its nuclear weapon and delivery development system.
  • The Israeli agreement to suspend plans for annexing parts of the West Bank—this was important as it was meant to appease the Arab support for a Palestinian state. (Political cover)

What should we look forward to as this situation develops?

  • Iranian severe reactions to include terrorist attacks by Hezbollah and other Iranian funded organizations against Israel and probably UAE forces in Yemen.
  • Increased pressure by Iran against Iraq—the meeting between the President and the Iraqi Prime Minister tomorrow should provide some indicator as to the direction Iraq will follow
  • Some additional form of military coordination between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Israel to secure the Straits of Hormuz and the flow of oil to Europe and Asia.
  • More GCC states joining the loose coalition that the Oman, UAE and Israel cooperation will create.
  • Increased pressure on Qatar to sever its support of more radical Arab causes.
  • Continued US naval and air presence in the area.

This historic breakthrough by acceptance of Israel as a recognized player in Middle-Eastern strategic affairs can only have stabilizing influences on the entire region over the long term. These may be preceded by the Iranian caused unrest noted above.

We will watch the future events for tells on what is to come next.

Escape from the big cities–updated

As one drove halfway across the country not using the interstate he saw a completely different America.  Lawns were maintained, people were smiling and friendly.  This is not the image of the cities on TV as they are burned, looters run amuck and normal citizens are assaulted.

The financial news for the big cities is also a disaster:

  • Rents for accommodations are down
  • Property prices are following
  • For most taxes are due to go up significantly
  • Jobs are no longer dependent upon location

The last point is one of the big lessons from the China virus.  Because of bandwidth and coordination technologies we learned that people could work from home.  They no longer needed to be all collocated in large offices.

The escape from West coast cities like Los Angeles sees companies moving to Las Vegas and elsewhere in Nevada which has no income tax.  Texas is also a state with no state income tax and is seeing a migration from the West coast.  Both Texas and Nevada are seeing a migration from the cities to more rural locations with security (no defund the police movements) and space.

New York and New Jersey are experiencing a migration south.  Many people are relocating to the south.  The migration of companies is sure to follow.  For states  such as this with significant social welfare programs the economic realities are inescapable.  The tax base is leaving.  Governor Cuomo of New York haws even asked the wealthy to return.  It is doubtful that they will.

During this trip through many small towns one is struck with the potential that is everywhere.  A potential for the growth of company towns.  Such growth needs to be welcomed by these small boroughs.  This means that capital needs to be invested in the required infrastructure and social systems.  Many years ago we watched the growth of Lake Havasu, CA.  The now city was built by McCullough properties.  The McCullough Motors Company built chain saws and outboard motors.  It moved all of its production facilities to Lake Havasu and challenged its LA based employees to follow their jobs—many did.  To attract tourists they rebuilt the London Bridge there.  The city on the Colorado River now thrives and with the casinos across the river has become a tourist alternative to Las Vegas.

Lake Havasu may not be the perfect example, but we can find others.  The point is that small town USA and the states that they are in should seize on the opportunity that the death of the large cities provides.  They should encourage companies to migrate from New York, LA, Chicago, Portland, Seattle and other large cities which have been so mismanaged and now ravaged that there is not a climate for their organizations to thrive.

If I were a company looking to relocate I would focus on medium sized towns that have a social and educational infrastructure.  A town with a small state college or junior college would be perfect.  A corporate and educational partnership would guarantee an educational base for training new employees.

The people who can’t escape from the cities for whatever reason pose a significant social / welfare problem.  Jobs will be gone. Taxes to support them will be eliminated.  The large governmental bureaucracies will of necessity be a thing of the past.  There will be a need for physical workers but getting folks to move to do the work may be difficult.  However, this actual situation creates an opportunity.  The Obama administration tried to break up neighborhoods by its housing policies.  This did not succeed.  However, if one were to take Reston, VA, whic began its growth 50 years ago, as an example he would see what can be done with integrated housing when planned in advance–not imposed on people.

As this escape from the cities grows there will come a complete realignment of political power.  This realignment depends on the people who are escaping.  If they bring their liberal predilections with them then conservative small towns will become potential liberal bastions.  Conversely, the values of rural America could infect the new residents.

The movement from the big cities will continue.  How this movement is managed is critical to the future look of the country.  I can only hope that some great planners and investors will read articles like this and see opportunity.

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.