Peace and how to find it.
December 14, 2011 2 Comments
When I was a boy, I had a dream, like many boys, I wanted to fly. Strangely, I didn’t have any particular fascination with flying fighter jets or any of the really sexy stuff. Even the Blackbird (SR-71 née YF-12) didn’t excite me. So what that all these years later when they have all gone to Davis-Monthan AFB in case we ever need them again, the service ceiling and top speed are still classified, that’s not what I wanted to fly. I wanted to fly Boeing Model 464-67. That’s right, I wanted to fly what the Navy so kindly nicknamed the “Aluminum Overcast” other nicknames included a few variants of BUFF. Here she is, in all her glory:
I think that part of it was that I was kind of chubby kid and got bullied for it. But you know when they found out that I’d fight back hard, they quit. In the schools I went to, and yes, they were public, you didn’t get counseling, you got to put on the boxing gloves, and then, win, lose, or draw, it was over. And you got respect. Kind of the elementary school version of peace through superior firepower.
Anyway I grew up wanting to drive bombers, at the time America’s main offensive weapon. Yes, there were missiles, mostly Titans and a few Jupiters, the Minutemen came on-line while I was in junior high and high school, but pushing a button didn’t appeal to me, I wanted to be at the point of the spear, wearing this:
One needs to remember to that we had come through World war 2 and we were in the middle of the Cold War, it wouldn’t end for another 25 years. I read a lot of history as a kid (never would have guessed that, would you?) and one of my heroes was Air Force General Curtis LeMay.
For those of you deficient in memory GEN LeMay was the inventor of the combat box used by the B-17’s over Europe to maximize their defensive firepower and the first Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Air Command (CINCSAC) and his picture was all over in those days.
My Navy friends have been known to compare him with ADM Rickover, the father of the nuclear submarine. There are parallels.
Lemay was a strict disciplinarian, when during an Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI) the squadron couldn’t get those birds off at the required 15 second intervals, somebody was going to get chewed if he was lucky, most likely fired. That didn’t scare me, my dad was the same way, so were the men I worked alongside when I was a kid and so were our coaches and teachers. That’s what it took to build men. It was necessary, so you did it with a minimum of bitching. By the way, if you’ve never seen SAC go to war, here’s a practice video from Minot AFB.
When I was working in North Dakota, I saw this live once with no notice, it looks and sounds like the end of the world. The ground itself shakes and the noise is unbelievable. The mailed fist of America, always remembering what happened at Pearl Harbor. And remember this is Minot AFB, one base out of many. Until 1990, this is how we believed the world would end. I would call it awesome but, the word just isn’t powerful enough, by a long shot. That is American Air Power, nothing like it in the world.
Do you remember the Strategic Air Command’s motto? Peace is our profession. Why, because if everyone knows that if you attack America, you will die, no one will attack America. Peace, through superior Firepower, written very large. I’ve talked about the airplanes here, in fact only the old ones, the B-52’s are all over fifty years old. There are also B-1’s and the B-2’s, and Minutemen, and the Navy’s Fleet Ballistic Submarines and maybe a few old Tomahawk nuclear variant cruise missiles.
But you know what? They are useless without a Commander-in-Chief with enough guts to use them. The analogy would be a thug attacks you at home, you pull out the shotgun but are afraid to use it, he’ll laugh and do what he likes.
So we come forward to today, the Iranians are pursuing a nuclear weapon, the Chinese are developing a blue water navy with area denial weapons and what are we doing? Cutting a trillion dollars from the defense budget, cancelling the most advanced aircraft in the world, (the F-22 Rapier) supercruise and all. We had this discussion before, by the way, the F-15 and F-16 were developed in parallel. The F-16 was designed to be an air superiority fighter, with very limited capabilities in other arenas or even weather, and remember night is a weather condition in the Air Force. The F-15 on the other hand was a heavy all-purpose (and expensive) aircraft. Then as now, we needed both.
The thing is, our politicians have spent us bankrupt, so we have to make choices, hard ones, no question. But do we really want to cripple our defense establishment because there isn’t even enough leadership in Washington D.C. to even cut even 1% from the government’s budget (if they could even pass one) and keep us from turning into Greece? I guess we do, that must be why we elected them. Makes me glad that I’ve lived most of my life, I pity our kids and grandkids though. They’ll understand Rome circa 400 AD better than I want to.
But I did learn to love this though: Enjoy.
- Russell Radtke: Refueling over Cambodia (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Leadership Part II (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com)
- Great Engineering Lasts – The U-2 Spy Plane and the SR 71 Blackbird. (lunatractor.com)