Time for Some Pilot Shit

One for us?

 

Well, we’ll see.

 

I’m with her on that, I want those big brass ones clanking so loud they’re heard from Peking to Tehran, and if they are not, the movie deserves to fail.

Then there is this, which, in truth is both annoying and offensive.

I have to admit I’m quite weary of this pandering. We used to make films for Americans, and the world loved (and still loves) them. Why this bullshit.

But OK, it does give us an excuse. Tony Daniel over at The Federalist reviews the FWS’s (Topgun) original OIC Dan Pedersen’s book.

In his engaging and succinct memoir Top Gun: American Story, Topgun’s original commanding officer Dan Pedersen argues that “what matters is the man, not the machine,” and because of this truism, pilot training will always be far more important than the technology of jet fighters for winning battles in the sky. At present, says Pedersen, “Something is rotten in Washington, and one day, sadly, we will lose a war because of it.”

Pedersen claims that the Navy lacks relatively cheap fighter jets for training such as the old F-14 Tomcats (the “Top Gun” jets in the movie) and others. He cites a price tag for the new F-35 as $330 million per plane. The service can’t buy and maintain a large number of trainers at those prices, he says. As a consequence, much of fighter pilot training must be done on simulators, which, in Pedersen’s view, are an inadequate substitute for real flight time.

More ominously, Pedersen says the Navy has once again been beguiled by the siren song of technological triumphalism and has lost the will to properly instruct pilots in dogfighting techniques. This was precisely the situation during the early years of Vietnam, and it led to devastating American losses, and ultimately to the creation of Topgun, the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School (the Navy spells it “Topgun,” without the space between words).

Unfortunately, claims Pedersen, bureaucratic rot and self-destructive rivalry and jealousy have set in in the years since the 1969 founding of that “graduate school for fighter pilots.” Pedersen suggests this is partly due to blowback from the 1986 movie Top Gun, and the lasting cultural cache it bestowed on the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School as a result.

Topgun is no longer located at Naval Air Station Miramar (which is now owned by the Marines), but was moved inland in 1996 to Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada. Although Topgun still operates as an independent command, the school has been largely subsumed within the Navy’s Strike Warfare Center at NAS Fallon.

Do read it all, he makes a good case, in an argument that has been going on since the early sixties. For the most part, he is correct, give me a properly trained man, with close to the same capabilities and he will triumph, but technology is also important. Say if Sidewinder had had the problems that Harpoon did, now what? Because the F4 did not have a gun.

We abandoned dogfight training because of the Navy’s faith in missile technology. Most of our aircrews didn’t know how to fight any other way. Yet our own rules of engagement kept us from using what we were taught. The rules of engagement specifically prohibited firing from beyond visual range. To shoot a missile at an aircraft, a fighter pilot first needed to visually confirm it was a MiG and not a friendly plane. . . . Yet three years along, the training squadron in California was still teaching long-range intercept tactics to the exclusion of everything else. Our training was not applicable to the air war in Vietnam.

And that was one of the major problems then…and now as well. We do not fight as we train. We train some of the best warriors in the world, and then our ROE force them to fight with at least one hand behind the back. The Marquess of Queensbury is long dead, and our opponents don’t fight by his rules. Time to take the gloves off.

I’d be far less opposed to using our forces if I had any idea that they would be used to win a victory, and then leave. No more of this nation-building crap, You got yourself into a war with the United States, you got the hell beat out of you, now it’s up to you to fix it, or not, not our problem. The world ain’t no china shop. It’s a place where actions have consequences and many of them are fatal.

That’s my take, anyway. Will I see the movie? Depends on what Vicki said above. But probably not in a theater, my local ones have crap sound, and if jet engines don’t shake the joint, what’s the point?

Sunday Funnies, The Awkward Squad

Another week. Here we haven’t written overmuch of the shenanigans, but they continue. The President has managed to make the so-called squad (best called the awkward squad in my mind, YMMV) the face of the Democrat party. which it should be, it is simply the most honest part of that so-called party.

Trump’s Week

And, of course

The American Way

We’ve talked some this week about Apollo 11, indeed the whole early space program, and we’re going to today as well.

S[ecofically, how very American the whole thing was. Joshua Lawson at The Federalist says.

In the 2008 space documentary “When We Left Earth,” while addressing the success of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders remarked that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were “humans” who “just happened to be Americans.”

Last year, Canadian actor Ryan Gosling played Neil Armstrong in Damien Chazell’s biopic “First Man.” In an echo of Anders’s comments from a decade earlier, Gosling raised the eyebrows of many Americans when he said the moon landing was “widely regarded in the end as a human achievement” and that’s how the team making “First Man” chose to view it.

These statements are part of a trend of historical revisionism that paints every American achievement as universal and global while portraying the nation’s past sins as exclusively American. In truth, NASA’s missions in general—and the Apollo 11 moon landing in particular—represent an odds-defying triumph of American exceptionalism.

In good forthright American terms, “It’s bullshit”. Only in America. It’s another attempt to denigrate America, although more subtle than usual.

Like many of the most inspiring adventures in history, the American moon landing is a comeback story. The United States began the space race trailing the Soviet Union. In 1957, the U.S.S.R. stunned the world when they successfully launched the Sputnik satellite into orbit. The first man in space was not an American but Soviet Yuri Gagarin.

Those involved in the first days of NASA were flabbergasted at the early Soviet success. Space correspondent Jay Barbree recalls the sentiment of the time: “These people couldn’t build a refrigerator…how can they get into orbit?”

Rather than looking at the initial score in the space race and giving up, Americans saw the deficit they had to overcome and were emboldened. The Soviets touched a nerve. Unknowingly, they reinvigorated the determined, persevering, and rugged streak embodied in the very nature of the United States. In the drive to remain the preeminent leader in science and engineering, the NASA missions tapped into something deep within the American character.

The space program that led to men landing on the surface of the moon is part of the grand narrative of Americans braving forth and conquering the unknown. The Apollo program and the Mercury and Gemini missions that preceded them were victories of innovation, adaptation, and a hungry (and distinctively American) competitive instinct. Although there were certainly some non-American-born engineers and scientists working for NASA in the 1960s, the entire endeavor was fundamentally American in its ethos.

Looking back. it reminds me of nothing so much as Babe Ruth in Wrigley Field all those years ago ‘calling his shot’ and then doing it. But then, like the Mitchell Raid showed, America is the Babe Ruth of nations. Tell us something is impossible and we’ll just ‘get ‘er done; quicker.

Like a lot of people, I liked President Kennedy. Part of that is that I was too young (and too sheltered) to understand some of his flaws, but a lot of it was that he believed in the sort of America that I did. At Rice University, he said this in 1961 he said this:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard … [the] challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win…

That’s powerful stuff, isn’t it? Echoes that Marine Sargeant in Belleau Wood a half-century before Kennedy’s speech, “Come on you sonsabitches! You want to live forever?” But compare it to this, from William Bradford, from over a century before we even became Americans:

…all great and honourable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and must be both enterprised and overcome with answerable courages…all of them, through the help of God, by fortitude and patience, might either be borne, or overcome.

Once you account for the changes in the vernacular language, it’s the same damn speech! And it’s not a speech, any Frenchmen or Spaniard, and not even many Englishmen would make, although quite a few Aussies might. Good people they may all be, they’re followers. We’re not, we lead. Follow me, it says on the statue at the Infantry School, it does not say, together we shall overcome.

Kennedy was on to something when he harnessed the idea of a “New Frontier” during the 1960 presidential election race. After the U.S. Census of 1890 reported the closing of the American frontier in the West, historian Frederick Jackson Turner revealed that much of what made America so exceptional and successful could be tied to the exploration of its expansive frontier.

This perennial rebirth, this fluidity of American life, this expansion westward with its new opportunities … furnish the forces dominating American character. … At the frontier the environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes, or perish. …Early Western man was an idealist withal. He dreamed dreams and beheld visions. He had faith in man, hope for democracy, belief in America’s destiny, unbounded confidence in his ability to make his dreams come true.

In the roughest days of the American West, the harsh, unforgiving, and trying experience of trying to eke out a living was a baptism of fire. The nation’s character was both forged and revealed in the conditions of the Old West.

Turner observed that America owes its most striking attributes to the frontier. It took a particular brand of dogged determinism to fight against the unforgiving climate, an often-hostile native population, and the ever-present threat of failure.

That coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and inquisitiveness; that practical, inventive turn of mind, quick to find expedients; that masterful grasp of material things, lacking in the artistic but powerful to effect great ends; that restless, nervous energy; that dominant individualism … withal that buoyancy and exuberance which comes with freedom—these are traits of the frontier.

In short, as General Patton said,

Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.

It’s time we remembered who we are, and acted like it.

 

Control the Past, Control the Future

We seem to have somewhat inadvertently developed a theme of sorts this week. which suits me. I agree with every word, and you guys appear to like it as well, so let’s go with the flow.

Victor Davis Hanson took a look around and reminds us that George Orwell was correct. That is why the screeching and increasingly violent left is reacting so badly. He wrote about it in American Greatness. Let’s take a look.

The summer season has ripped off the thin scab that covered an American wound, revealing a festering disagreement about the nature and origins of the United States.

The San Francisco Board of Education recently voted to paint over, and thus destroy, a 1,600-square-foot mural of George Washington’s life in San Francisco’s George Washington High School.

Victor Arnautoff, a communist Russian-American artist and Stanford University art professor, had painted “Life of Washington” in 1936, commissioned by the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration. A community task force appointed by the school district had recommended that the board address student and parent objections to the 83-year-old mural, which some viewed as racist for its depiction of black slaves and Native Americans.

Nike pitchman and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently objected to the company’s release of a special Fourth of July sneaker emblazoned with a 13-star Betsy Ross flag. The terrified Nike immediately pulled the shoe off the market.

VDH cites quite a few more, all of which you know, and they matter, but the point is our mis named elites are running scared, and the noise is overwhelming isn’t it. I find myself tuning out more, constant outrage isn’t very healthy, and I’m not ready to give up this ship. Like most of you, I’ll fight her till she sinks, and that means we’ll either win through or like the once and future king in Camelot we will become legend, that people down the long cold dark centuries will keep close to their hearts, that once there was a nation where men and women were free and happy and even prosperous. And the joke will be true, what did men use before candles for light? Electricity.

In their radical progressive view—shared by billionaires from Silicon Valley, recent immigrants and the new Democratic Party—America was flawed, perhaps fatally, at its origins. Things have not gotten much better in the country’s subsequent 243 years, nor will they get any better—at least not until America as we know it is dismantled and replaced by a new nation predicated on race, class and gender identity-politics agendas.

In this view, an “OK” America is no better than other countries. As Barack Obama once bluntly put it, America is only exceptional in relative terms, given that citizens of Greece and the United Kingdom believe their own countries are just as exceptional. In other words, there is no absolute standard to judge a nation’s excellence.

About half the country disagrees. It insists that America’s sins, past and present, are those of mankind. But only in America were human failings constantly critiqued and addressed.

America does not have be perfect to be good. As the world’s wealthiest democracy, it certainly has given people from all over the world greater security and affluence than any other nation in history—with the largest economy, largest military, greatest energy production and most top-ranked universities in the world.

America alone kept the postwar peace and still preserves free and safe global communications, travel and commerce.

The traditionalists see American history as a unique effort to overcome human weakness, bias and sin. That effort is unmatched by other cultures and nations, and explains why millions of foreign nationals swarm into the United States, both legally and illegally.

That last paragraph sums it up, doesn’t it? If America is so terrible, why is all of Central America trying to get in? I have no problem with somewhat limited legal immigration, always provided that the immigrants are coming because they share our dream. That’s the problem now, they are not. The was clearly indicated that last weekend when the tore down our flag at that detention center, and raised the Mexican one. Down the ages, such things have often been viewed as an overt act of war.

If progressives and socialists can at last convince the American public that their country was always hopelessly flawed, they can gain power to remake it based on their own interests. These elites see Americans not as unique individuals but as race, class and gender collectives, with shared grievances from the past that must be paid out in the present and the future.

We’ve seen something like this fight before, in 1861—and it didn’t end well.

He’s right and it didn’t. By 1865 it had cost 600,000 men their lives out of a population of 35 million or so. This crap needs to be suppressed soon.

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Trinity, 74 Years On

Trinity from the Department of Defense

On Tuesday we spoke of Americans on the moon, and safely home again. And by the way, the first thing done on the moon that day, 50 years ago, was to thank God and take communion. A very American response.

Then, yesterday we spoke of just how revolutionary America was, and how that idea has spread in the last 80 or so years.

But there was another anniversary, last Tuesday, an amazing thing, which ties into each of the above stories because last Tuesday was the 74th anniversary of the Trinity Test.

Nobody talks much about it, because it, like the Minutemen silos standing guard, and the boomers patrolling, are an ugly fact of life. That there are people out there who don’t want you to be free, they would, in fact, prefer you dead.

J. Christian Adams over at PJ Media does a good job of explaining.

Today is the anniversary of one of the most significant events in human history. While later this week we will celebrate the Apollo 11 visit to the moon, July 16 stands apart.

But Google “Trinity” or nuclear, and you’ll hardly find a mention today about what happened on July 16, 1945, in a remote corner of New Mexico.

On that day, America detonated the first atomic bomb. The Trinity test was successful. The world would never be the same.

One observer of the blast felt they were at the “bottom of an ocean of light. We were bathed in it from all directions. The light withdrew into the bomb as if the bomb sucked it up. Then it turned purple and blue and went up and up and up.”

Cyril Smith, a British scientist eyewitness to the blast had “a momentary question as to whether we had done more than we intended.”

Yet the popular culture has obscured other ramifications of the Big Bang in New Mexico. The history of Europe is a history of marauding armies. So is the history of the world. While pop culture is filled with tales of madmen and madness, like Dr. Strangelove or the absurd ABC special The Day After, the opposite has been true. While Ultravox and Peter Paul and Mary sang of looming nuclear destruction, it hasn’t happened. […]

But that’s the point of today’s anniversary. Trinity was 74 years ago. Seventy-four years. Find another period of seventy-four years where the world has enjoyed the peace and stability between major powers that has endured since that hot July day in 1945. Perhaps this was America’s blessing to the world. Had Hitler, Hirohito, or the murderous Stalin obtained it first, the world would be a very different place today. And for that, July 16 is a day of profound historical importance for which the entire world can be thankful.

And so, here we are, only four lifetimes from being hardscrabble, subsistence farmers along the Atlantic coast, going barefoot in the snow, into battle against the greatest empire of the age, to being the keeper of the greatest secret of the age, the ability to destroy all the people in the world.

And the result of that gift of God? For 74 years, the major powers of the world have not been at war. To be sure there have been people killed, skirmishings, and minor powers squabbling. But there has been no Franco Prussian War, no Crimea, no Great War.

Pretty good sheriff, America has been so far. So we’ll see if it continues, or if the enemies of freedom, who gather their forces, all around the world, can overthrow the Pax Americana, or if the free peoples of the world can contrive to stay that way. Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition.

 

America is greater than ‘just OK’

Gene Vieth over at Cranach yesterday referred to a column by Marc Thiessen, that I had missed. It’s a response to that silly video op-ed in the NY Slimes on Independence Day about how the US is just OK.

He points out that at our founding we were an incredible outlier, we were the only country in the world where the people were sovereign. Most had kings, emperors, sultans, or other various satrapies indicating that the key to ruling was power over the people. The closest was the United Kingdom, which about a century before had changed from the king ruling, to the king reigning and parliament ruling. But even today, as we’ve seen parliament hasn’t got the memo completely that the people are sovereign. But their people know, and at some point so will parliament.

Marc notes that as recently as 1938, there were only 17 Democracies in the world, he doesn’t note, but it’s also true that by 1940 they all spoke English as their native language. In the early part of World War II, Great Britain wasn’t quite as alone as it sometimes is said, the Empire was there for them, but that was it

Herman Wouk’s Captain Henry in The Winds of War comments that at church parade in Argentia Bay, they were witnessing the changing of the guard. He was right, that moment marked the end of almost 150 years of the Pax Britannica, at the end of that war, we would see the beginning of the first 75 years of the Pax Americana.

Gene linked to the Daily Oklahoman, probably a good paper, but paywalled so here is a different link to Marc’s column. Here’s a bit of it.

For most of our history, American democracy was a global outlier. In 1938, on the eve of World War II, there were just 17 democracies. It was not until 1998 — just two decades ago — that there were more democracies than autocracies.

That dramatic explosion of freedom didn’t just happen. It was the direct result of the rise of the United States as a global superpower. The U.S.-powered victory over Nazi tyranny in World War II and our triumph over Soviet tyranny in the Cold War defeated the hateful ideologies of fascism and communism, and unleashed a wave of freedom that has spread across the world. Today, 4.1 billion people live in democracies. (Of those who do not, four out of five live in China.)

The unprecedented expansion of liberty has produced unprecedented prosperity. Last September, the Brookings Institution reported that “for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind … some 3.8 billion people, live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered ‘middle class’ or ‘rich.’”

None of that would be possible without the Pax Americana guaranteed by U.S. military. Americans liberated a continent, rebuilt much of it from the rubble of war with the Marshall Plan, and then stood watch on freedom’s frontier and prevented a Soviet tank invasion across the Fulda Gap. And today, the only thing that stops North Korea from invading South Korea or China from invading Taiwan is American military might.

So, let’s be clear: Every country that enjoys democratic governance today owes its birth of freedom to our Founding Fathers, and the continued existence of their democracy to the U.S. military.

That is exactly so. Some countries have become wealthier per capita than we are. To me, that’s fine, we’re not doing all that badly, and they got that way by outsourcing much of their defense to the United States. We developed the concepts that were driving Britain to liberty, figured out how to make it work, and wrote it down, for all to learn. And then we (mostly) lived by what we had written. This may be the only place on earth that whenever the chief executive gets frustrated and complains that his country is ungovernable, he is reminded that it is a feature, not a bug.

As we listen to those foolish freshman Congresscritters spout their anti-Americanism, keep that in mind. They do it here because where they or the ancestors came from, they would be imprisoned or dead already. They owe their ability to bad mouth this country to the founders, and so do most of the people in the world.

Marc concludes with this:

The men and women who flew those fighters and bombers over the Mall last week make it all possible. They provide the critical foundation of peace and security upon which our freedom, and the freedom of all the world’s democracies, is built. Maybe Luxembourg scores better on some measures, but no one is counting on Luxembourg to secure the peace of the world. Trump was right to shine a spotlight on our men and women in uniform and to remind those who have lost sight of it that the United States is not simply the greatest nation on Earth; we are indispensable. Without us, the world would be mired in the darkness of totalitarianism rather than the light of liberty.

That is better than “just OK.”

Damned straight it is.

In a related note, The Lean Submariner reminds us that 2019 is the centennial of the American Legion, which is one of the stalwart defenders of American freedom. He tells us about it here.

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