A Cousin’s Playdate

Seapower as done by real Navies

The picture is of the USS George W. Bush and HMS Queen Elizabeth plus escorts doing joint work-ups off the coast of Scotland. The first time in years that the RN has had a carrier that is actually fairly close to the capital ship class that the US CVN has become.

We talk here, particularly lately, a fair amount about the military because 1) we’re quite proud of our boys and girls, and 2) they have a huge responsibility to keep us free. But this blog has long prided itself on its Anglophilia and we still pay attention. Indeed, some days, I spend more time on UK matters than I do ours. Part of that is paying attention, of course. And one of the best places to do that is a Thin Pinstriped Line. Sir Humphrey does us all a service in keeping UK Defence matters real. This article is from him.

The decision by the RN to move to a bigger generation of carriers for CVF posed a number of challenges. For nearly 30 years it ran a reasonably small airwing on the Invincibles – usually peaking at roughly 20 airframes all told of which only about half were fixed wing Harriers. This meant the RN had lost its experience of dealing with big deck carriers, and wasn’t used to dealing with large airwings anymore – not just in terms of practical handling on deck, but the wider issues of force generation, sortie generation and employing a large airwing in a very different manner to a small force of defensive fighters.

Without doubt the most impressive defence related story of the week was the news of QUEEN ELIZABETH and the USS GEORGE W BUSH steaming together off the coast of Scotland in concert with a variety of escorts. The sight of a pair of allied carriers operating together is increasingly uncommon, and its even less common to see a US carrier in UK waters these days.

The pictures are genuinely stirring – two of the largest and most complex warships in human history sailing together, one returning from operations in the Middle East and the other at the start of a career that will see her doubtless spend many years deployed in the Middle East. But its not just a photo that is so compelling here, it’s the deeper story of integration and co-operation between the US and UK that makes this such a fabulous story to tell.

Any nation can put on a photo shoot of ships together at sea – indeed when you have multi-national maritime exercises between countries that don’t work closely together, the most important ‘take away’ is being able to get them all to steam together long enough to take a photo or two. But a photo is little more than a snapshot in time intended to look good for PR images. Ultimately there is nothing particularly difficult for the RN & USN to form up in a completely non-tactical but very photogenic formation and steam in roughly the same direction for a short time.

What really matters is the wider support and links between the USN and RN that have helped keep the UK on track to sustain and regenerate carrier strike over the last few years. This is less visible, but as equally important.

 

Embedding Excellence

From the outset of the CVF project the RN has worked closely to maintain an excellent relationship with the USN, who have in turn provided fantastic assistance. This took on renewed significance after 2010 when the decision was taken to delete the GR9 from service and take a gap in operating fixed wing carriers. At the time the intent was to move to a CTOL F35 fleet, and even though this later changed to STOVL, the USN remained very willing to let the RN in and have access to its resources and training pipeline.

This offer has played an enormous part in keeping the RN able to keep naval aviation alive and prepare for the reintroduction of a truly ‘big deck’ carrier capability. The USN hasn’t just trained pilots (there are a lot of RN F18 pilots out there now), its also provided training for RN flight deck crew to get them aware of just how complex a ‘big deck’ carrier is, and what a step up it is from the Invincibles.

For many years now, there has routinely been a detachment of 6-10 RN personnel onboard many US Carriers, usually flight deck crew, pilots or officers carrying out roles as an integrated part of the ships company. This isn’t always without its challenges – apparently the USN doesn’t allow beards, and at least one copy of Queens Regulations has been sent out to confirm to the USN that the bearded RN crewmen aren’t trying to get one over on them!

A similar story can be told about the manner in which the USN is prepared to allocate control of its assets to the RN, such as during SAXON WARRIOR to help the RN gain experience of operating a large carrier with significant strike capability. It is no exaggeration to say that the RN has simply never had the level of strike capability generation that QEC offers. Even in the supposed ‘heyday’ of the RN carrier fleet in the 1970s, the strike package was limited to 18 buccaneers. Once QEC is fully up and running, she will be able to support and sustain an air-group of 36 JSF  and potentially significantly higher, with a level of sortie generation far in excess of what has been possible before.

Being able to practise this sort of planning and co-ordination with a US carrier matters because the RN is going to be operating at a scale of capability that it simply has not experienced before. At the risk of descending into ‘fantasy fleets’ territory here, its worth noting that a combined US/UK embarkation of 48 F35 on a CVF gives her an almost equivalent level of capability to a US carrier. If the US didn’t give the UK this sort of access, it would take many more years for CVF to reach her full potential with a much steeper learning curve.

There is considerably more at the link above, but this is one of the best stories I have published here. It is so good to see the cousins, the original, globe spanning, English speaking, superpower, again taking its rightful place in the front rank. Once again able to project force at her (and our) accustomed level. Nothing could be a better way to start a new week, fraught as it might be with a rumor of war and unforseen things that go bump in the night.

Sir Humphrey ends, rightly with this, and yes, I wholeheartedly agree with him, and it does my heart proud to see the RN, and yes, the UK step up this way.

True interoperability is an act of faith and trust between partners. This trust takes decades to build up and is only very sparingly given. All it takes is one act where a country is unable to carry out military action due to another refusing access (for instance overflight of airspace) for this trust to collapse.

This is why the QUEEN ELIZABETH is so significant – for the first time ever the US Armed Forces feel comfortable enough to assume that the USMC will be routinely embarking and operating from a foreign platform. This level of shared sovereignty is a real step change for the US, which works well as a coalition lead, but less well as a coalition partner over concerns about how its assets will be used.

This is a big deal, and highlights yet another reason why QUEEN ELIZABETH is such a game changer, not just for the UK but our American allies too. No other country gets this level of access or integration – others get as far as integrating an air defence platform into a CVBG, but this takes the Anglo-US relationship to a whole new level of capability.

 At a time when it is fashionable to say that the UK doesn’t exert much influence in DC and gets little from the US, Humphrey would argue that the reverse is true. The UK has been given an astonishing level of access to US Navy capability and platforms, and in return the US feels it can trust the UK enough to embark sailors and marines to sea with the UK on operations.

The great Anglo-American Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill told the US Congress this:

It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still, I avow my hope and faith, sure and inviolate, that in the days to come the British and American peoples will for their own safety and for the good of all walk together side by side in majesty, in justice, and in peace.’

And because I can, and haven’t had a good excuse to lately

Maiden (Speeches) and Gods in Action

Kemi Badenoch. Remember that name. If the Brit Tories have any sense at all this girl has a pretty much unlimited future. There’s a tradition in Parliament that your first speech (your maiden speech) tells everybody much about who you are and what you believe. Most are rather insipid. Not this one. Another thing I have noticed is that in Britain, which is still much more class conscious than we are, when somebody comes up from the lower orders, or is an immigrant, or a woman, or something, in politics, in the universities, and even in business, they are almost invariably Conservatives. Must be something about the “Content of their character”.

Of course, I’m a bit prejudiced, I quite like people who quote Burke, and consider Churchill and Thatcher as heroes. And being a Brexiteer surely doesn’t hurt.

“Kemi Badenoch. May the tribe increase!”


“Tranquillity Base here, the Eagle has landed.”

And so it had, on 20 July 1969, the lunar module from Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two men in history to walk on a celestial object other than the earth. Some half a billion people watched the (very poor) television broadcast live from the spacecraft, as the whole world stopped, and gazed in awe. How quickly we become jaundiced, taking things for granted, but here was something to equate with Drake’s circumnavigation of the world.

But here with the words, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”, we thrust confidently into the future.

One of the things I’ll remember on my deathbed. When I was in college, four of us rented an aircraft and flew down over spring break to watch (from the beach) the mission that launched at night. It was simply indescribable, as if several suns had risen while a whole chorus of Thors played the anvil chorus. Simply the most awesome thing I have ever seen.

Time to do something similar, I think.

Reflections on a Trip

Six years ago today, I published post number one, on Nebraska Energy Observer. As with many others, I tried to draw conclusions from observations. Those tend to be the posts I like best, although I simply don’t post things I don’t like. It’s been I long haul, six years, 2703 posts, over 19,000 comments and all. It’s also been a lot of fun, and I suspect it has been for some of you, as well.

We’ve commented often that so many bloggers who were around when I started have fallen by the wayside, I think probably three-quarters of the blogs I read now, didn’t exist then and 80% of those I read then are gone, and some that remain have changed completely. It’s not easy, but what worthwhile ever is? I find that I occasionally have to take breaks from it, but I feel incomplete when I do, and that’s why often I will schedule some older posts that keep drawing readers over my breaks.

I started the blog because I was bored, and needed something ‘productive’ to do, and was already (in 2011) completely fed up with Obama. I never thought it was going to make me rich. I wouldn’t mind, but it’s such I long shot that I don’t even try, and so I can stay true to what I believe. Neither did I think I would still be writing it today, but it has become a habit, maybe an obsession.

In any case, thanks for reading, and commenting here, it means more to me than you can imagine, and probably more than is good for me. This is the post published six long years ago, and still one of my favorites. It was titled “Reflections on a Train Trip”.


I recently had an opportunity to travel by train back to Nebraska from Philadelphia. As most of you who have ever travelled by train know, it gives you a fair amount of time to reflect on whatever crosses your mind. For some reason this trip (which I actually take roughly every year) caused me to reflect on the industrial powerhouse that was America. If you travel by train, you see a lot of industrial areas new and old.  What struck me this time was coming through Pittsburgh, northern Ohio and northwest Indiana was remembering these areas when I was a kid back in the 60’s, when it was very common still to see the black smoke and flames shoot into the air at the steel mills. These were the mills that industrialized America and made the steel that built the machines that won two World Wars and conquered a continent and fed the world.

It is commonly said that steel built the railroad industry and the railroads built the steel industry and it’s true; if one includes coal in the steel industry. What awesome plants they were, for instance, the main street of Gary, Indiana (itself named for a steel executive) ends at the main gate of US Steel Gary Works. And remember a basic element of US Steel; Carnegie Steel produced more steel than Great Britain in the 1890’s. Pittsburgh was much the same, only possibly more so. Here was the steel produced that made the railroads, which then made the largest common market in the world, and the steel for the agricultural equipment that still feeds the world, and the steel for the American automobiles and the weapons and transportation of the American military that won two World Wars  and the Cold War. Read more of this post

The Yanks Are Coming, Again

John Hinderaker over at Powerline caught something that I should have. It happens. He quotes the Science and Environmental Policy Project’s The Week That Was:

Mr Hilton discusses the highly successful UK petrochemical firm Ineos. The firm may invest €2 billion (£1.76 billion) expanding its European petrochemicals capacity, possibly in Belgium. But location is only part of the issue. As Mr. Hilton states:

Once you have built a major chemical complex, your main (in many ways, your only) worry is the cost of the raw material you need to feed into it. This can account for half or more of total production costs, and is similarly crucial for other energy ­intensive industries such as refining, iron and steel, glass, cement and paper.

Until a few years ago Europe and America paid more or less the same amount for their petrochemical feedstock — the US had a slight advantage but not so great after transport and other costs had been factored in. (Middle East plants, sited right by the oilfields, did have such a price advantage but lacked scale.)

This is no longer the case thanks to the fundamental changes across the Atlantic. The Marcellus field, which spreads over several states and is just one of many in the US, produces 15 billion cubic feet of gas a day which is almost twice the UK’s entire consumption. But the result is that US prices have disconnected from the rest of the world and the subsequent feedstock prices have given American chemical plants so vast a price advantage that, on paper at least, there’s no way Europe can compete. It is staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, not now, but in a few short years, unless it can find some way to get its raw ­material costs down to American levels.

Thus far, the effect has been muted — and the European industry has had a little time — because the US petrochemical industry was originally not built for indigenous US gas and oil supplies but instead located near ports and configured to process supplies of oil from the Middle East.

But this is changing fast. There has been virtually no big petrochemical investment in Europe in the past decade whereas in the US since 2010 some $85 billion of petrochemicals projects have been completed or are under construction. Spending on chemical capacity to 2022 will exceed $124 billion, according to the American Chemistry Council, creating 485,000 jobs during construction and more than 500,000 permanent jobs, adding between $80 billion and $120 billion in economic output. After years where chemical capacity has run neck and neck with Europe, the American industry is about to dwarf it.

Makes all the sense in the world, when one thinks about it. And it’s true all through the energy sector. When I started this blog, we, in America, were paying about $5/gallon for gasoline (mostly slightly less) while Britain was paying about £4/Liter, if I recall. The BBC says they are now paying £1.19/Liter while we are paying ~$2/Gallon. But there are almost 4 liters in a gallon, and while I don’t remember what the pound was worth 6 years ago, I suspect it was considerably more than $1.28. And while we’re OK on Gasoline, we’re pretty much awash in Natural Gas, to the point that we are using it to replace coal in electrical generation, because it burns cleaner, while exporting coal to China.

So often I say here that America was built on abundant (and increasingly cheap) energy. I don’t usually document it because it seems pretty obvious to me, but it really is. Think about why such companies as Amazon, which are really little other than overgrown mercantile houses (in itself a concept we pioneered a hundred and fifty years ago with such firms as Sears, Roebuck, and Co.) both started and prospered so mightily here.

This will, I think become obvious quicker in chemical plants (do remember that the fertilizer we use on crops, another field that the US/Canada dominate, are products of chemical plants). Fracking is going a long way towards making America competitive with anybody in the world, again. And if you combine that with the traditional American propensity for innovation, well, the limits of our return become hard to discern.

Quo Vadis, NATO?

We’ve spent the weekend looking back on the heroics that led to Memorial Day. It is meet and fit that we do so, for in many ways that is where the American character was forged. From the loyalty of immigrants, to the battle heroics, the superb leadership, and the mastery of logistics, the Civil War was our graduation into the ranks of the great powers. From 1865 it has been self-evident that the United States could not be invaded by any other power, it could be defeated tactically, but only at existential risk to the power doing it.

From 1865 it has been self-evident that the United States could not be invaded by any other power, it could be defeated tactically, but only at existential risk to the power doing it. That is the grounding of the American hegemony which has existed since 1945 and it is a different ethos than any that has come before. That is because it has never looked simply to American advantage, but has sought mutual benefit, and in most cases that seeking has been rewarded.

That is the grounding of the American hegemony which has existed since 1945 and it is a different ethos than any that has come before. That is because it has never looked simply to American advantage, but has sought mutual benefit, and in most cases that seeking has been successful.

This has been especially true in Europe, which has been since Roman days subject to intramural wars. That ended in 1945, and it ended due to American leadership.

But that leaves the question: Quo Vadis? Where do we go from here.

Kori Schake wrote recently in The American Interest about this in an article entitled NATO without America. The article makes many good points, quite a few of which are not obvious.

[A] palpable sigh of relief emanated from NATO’s headquarters in Brussels and the capitals of 27 NATO members when Donald Trump finally had a good word to say about history’s most successful and enduring alliance. He did not, of course, go so far as to acknowledge NATO’s genuine achievements: agreeing in 1949 that an attack on any allied state would be considered an attack on all; creating in 1950 a structure of military commands that facilitates operations and creates a common strategic culture among members’ militaries; integrating West Germany as a military power into a cooperative framework in 1954; holding at bay bristling Soviet aggression for 45 years and Russian revanchism since; voluntarily sharing the burdens of a common defense—including nuclear weapons responsibilities; using America as a counterweight to potentially ruinous intra-European competition; reunifying Germany in 1991 without setting off alarms among European countries and Russia; imposing an end to the Balkan wars in 1995 and keeping the still-hostile parties from shooting at each other since; expanding the perimeter of security that encourages prosperity and accountable governance to Eastern and Southern Europe; preventing the Qaddafi regime from carrying out its apparent plan to massacre Libyans in March 2011; fighting for 15 years in Afghanistan; and continually finding ways to adapt a Cold War institution to new security challenges. […]

President Trump is certainly ruder than previous American leaders have been in decrying the shortfalls of our European allies, but the aggravation has long been widespread and is still growing. Americans of all political stripes believe it is long past time for Europe to stop indulging in post-Cold War defense cuts. Every American President of the past thirty years—actually longer, for the plaint goes back to the early years of the Nixon Administration—has dreamt up a NATO initiative to cajole greater defense expenditures out of our European allies. […]

Referring to the invocation (largely at British instigation) of Article 5 after 9/11.

But even if the support of some allies was grudging, they did nonetheless pledge on September 12 that the attack on us was an attack on them, and offer any and all support the Bush Administration wanted in the unnerving aftermath. That Americans were consumed with doing as quickly as possible all that was needed in those unimagined circumstances in no way diminishes the magnitude of commitment evinced by our allies.  […]

But most European governments conduct their national security policies at a much greater distance from their militaries, celebrating their concentration on “soft power” tools in lieu of force. Not only do they privilege those tools, they often consider their policies, and themselves, morally superior for the choice. One need only listen to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker or read of the European Parliament passing legislation condemning U.S. intelligence agencies to share President Trump’s aggravation with Europe. We sentimentalize the Transatlantic connection at our peril.  […]

In some ways, we have created a ‘welfare state’ with regards to the defense of Western Europe, but it is very hard to see what the alternative was. We have become the ultimate European power, and the ultimate outcome of European culture, for better or worse. For all we wish that the Europeans would do more, well at least Germany isn’t invading Poland this week. We could certainly use better allies, but who, exactly might they be?

The Saudis are often maligned as being as great a threat as al-Qaeda or ISIS. This not only ignores the great changes in Saudi national security policy, especially after the 2005 terrorist attack in Riyadh, but also the important political and social changes enacted under the influence of the Emirates’ successes and a reformist leadership in the Kingdom. America’s partners in the region have gone on a defense-spending spree, driven by concern about Iranian efforts to destabilize Sunni governments and infiltrate Shi‘a ones. Even with those changes, however, impediments to deeper cooperation remain […]

Jordan, in particular, has been heroic in its generosity to Syrian refugees and courageous in its policies toward the Assad government. The United Arab Emirates  leads in the development of serious military forces and in cooperating with U.S. operations, as it did in Libya. Jordan, Egypt, and the UAE have been stalwart in their commitment to the war in Afghanistan and are being cajoled into a common front against ISIS. Even so, the countries of the Middle East pose challenges that European allies do not. […]

[I]t also merits emphasizing that NATO and “Europe” are not the same. Very often when American exasperation boils up at Europeans, it is the European Union we are reacting to. Not only do the EU’s ambitions outpace its achievements, its advocates and officials often seek acclaim in the present for intentions to accomplish things in the future. But while most NATO allies are also in the European Union, they behave differently in each setting because the institutional cultures of the two organizations are markedly different.

American leadership in NATO creates opportunities that we will never have in other venues. The integrated military command (IMC)  in NATO is the way we go to war, because the NATO allies are the countries we most frequently fight alongside, and the long-practiced procedures of the IMC facilitate understanding. Allies show up using equipment compatible with American equipment, talk on radio frequencies already known to American forces, share intelligence across linked systems, and drop bombs that can be shared if one country’s forces run short. […]

[R]ussian aggression is reviving interest in European security, but not diminishing other claims on American attention. Part of the reason why Trump’s criticism of European defense resonates is that challenges in Europe look manageable with the power Europeans could muster on their own. Could Britain, France, Poland, and Germany really not bring enough power to bear to defeat a Russian invasion of a Baltic state? If not, should they not quickly mobilize greater military forces—or more creatively use the nuclear and conventional forces they already have—instead of relying so heavily on American guarantees? Russia is not the peer of any of those countries (with the possible exception of Poland), much less all of them combined.

This plaint misses an important point. In aggregate, Europe’s military assets look formidable, but only the United States can bring them together in an effective fighting ensemble. We are the mainframe, so to speak, and the allies plug into that—whether we are talking about intelligence, logistics, lift, or half a dozen other crucial functions in contemporary warfighting. However well equipped they look on paper, our allies strain to coordinate their assets without us.

In any event, Americans would be wise not to scorn Europeans for clinging to us when they’re worried. Few states have the ability or domestic support to act without benefit of allies or international institutions. The United States does. But allied support matters for our domestic political purposes as well: Americans are more confident that our government is in the right when we win the support of other states that share our values. It matters especially now, when the international order is fraying. The world looks less safe, and the rules less respected, than they did a decade ago.

There is quite a lot more at the link, which you should read and digest. But the point is valid. Without the US at the center, as we have been for 70 years now, Europe has real problems in executing anything especially at any distance from home. It’s easy for us, as Americans, to forget that while we easily switch from considering the Balts to the middle east to Asia, only we, and before us, Great Britain, have ever truly been world-wide powers, able to project force almost anywhere on earth. The other are all regional powers of one sort or another, but they can be and are increasingly worldwide partners, because their militaries are constituted to work within the distinctive American pattern.

That makes them uniquely valuable, and it makes us essential to them, forging a win for all of us.

Remembering Rosie

Mostly this weekend we will speak of the (mostly) men who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. That’s what the holiday is for, after all. But those guys went to war, wearing clothes, eating food, using equipment and so forth. The legendary, beans, bullets, and gas that are the lifeblood of victorious war. Where did it come from?

Yes, the holiday is based in the Civil War, so we could easily speak of the Studebaker brothers, who produced the ambulances that served the army in all sorts of ways until mechanization. There are many stories like theirs about, and during that war, immigrants were eagerly welcomed, both in the armies and in American industry, which really got its start here.

But starting in World War I and increasing greatly during the second, the burden of supplying the forces was born by American women – the semi-legendary Rosie the Riveter. If you are my age, as you knew many veterans amongst the men, you knew many Rosies as well. They did this in addition to the traditional role of loving, missing, and grieving the boys. Without them, victory would not have happened. That picture above is the original Rosie, painted by Norman Rockwell, complete with rivet gun, bologna sandwich, and Mein Kampf crushed under her shoes. She isn’t the pin-up queen of the more common Westinghouse worker that is so common now. But she speaks for her generation, and to ours quite effectively.

Kimberly Bloom Jackson wrote on The Federalist Friday about some of those Rosies, and I think you should read it.

“You came out to California, put on your pants, and took your lunch pail to a man’s job,” recalls Sybil Lewis, a black Rosie who worked at Lockheed Aircraft as a riveter. “This was the beginning of women’s feeling that they could do something more.”

By the end of the war, women had mass-produced some 80,000 landing craft, 100,000 tanks and armored vehicles, 200,000 airplanes, 6 million tons of bombs, 41 billion rounds of ammunition, and so much more.

But did you know that black and white Rosies often worked side by side during the war? Despite widespread Jim Crow laws at the time, industrialists like Henry Kaiser established an integrated workforce of over 100,000 Americans, “many of whom were African Americans, Latinos, American Indians and Asian Americans.”

In fact, in 1941, after civil rights activists threatened to march in protest of racial discrimination in industry and the military, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt went against the wishes of his own party and issued Executive Order 8802 prohibiting workplace discrimination. This included repealing much of fellow Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s longstanding pro-segregation policies in the defense industries and federal government jobs.

To enforce the order, FDR also set up the Fair Employment Practices Committee. This government initiative, along with wartime necessity to mobilize workers, transformed the workforce. Eventually, this would help lay the groundwork for post-war civil rights legislation which didn’t start in earnest for the Democratic Party until Harry S. Truman was elected president in 1946, but not without the usual opposition by Democrats, as history has shown. […]

  • Ollie M. Hawkins (black Rosie, shipyards of San Francisco Bay):  “When you got off work, you’d go to Oakland to go shopping, and everywhere you’d go, you’d see ‘White Trade Only’ signs. … In theshipyards you didn’t run into that prejudice because everyone was working side by side for the same purpose.”

  • Charlyne Harper (white Rosie, Welder at Kaiser Shipyard, Richmond): “I am real proud of the women of my day. We just knew that war had to be won, and we were proud to do our part. And the women just flocked there. … So everybody back then helped win that war. But the men on the front lines was the ones that sacrificed. … There were some women in service at that time, but most of them were in the war effort. They did something. Everybody did something and sacrificed. It was no big deal to do without new shoes or certain foods. … Everybody was in it together. We all had a rough time.”

  • Sybil Lewis (black Rosie, Lockheed Aircraft in Los Angeles): “The women worked in pairs. I was theriveter and this big, strong, white girl from a cotton farm in Arkansas worked as thebucker.

  • The riveter used a gun to shoot rivets through the metal and fasten it together. Thebucker used a bucking bar on the other side of the metal to smooth out the rivets. Bucking was harder than shooting rivets; it required more muscle. Riveting required more skill.”

  • Esther Horne (white Rosie, machine operator, Gussack’s Machine Products, Long Island City):  “Lunch hour, for the longest time, we would sit around, sit on crates with our long work aprons and pants, or whatever and one of the bosses, Moe Kammer, would read a scene from “Othello” and we would discuss it. Remember the differences in education? I saw all around me people, some of whom had never finished eighth grade, entranced. We all went to see “Othello.” And we all saw Paul Robeson and Uta Hagen, and Jose Ferrer as Iago. For a factory!”

  • Wanita Allen (black Rosie, Ford’s River Rouge foundry, Detroit): “It was good to work with people. It’s something about that camaraderie that you really need on a job. If the job is hard and everyone is working, you don’t mind. It’s just that sharing and all doing it together.”

Do read her article. But above all, remember that without these women, we would not have won the war, they were every bit as important as any man with the eagle on his button. This is also where the women’s movement came from, like all movements, it has sometimes gotten excessive, but these women proved they were worth as much as any man.

As you think about the guys we’ve lost in our wars this weekend, remember too the brave women who supported them, loved them and grieved for them. Never was the old saying more true, “Behind every good man there is a good woman”.

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