A Naval Aviation Superbowl

We’re rooting for Seattle tomorrow. Get over it.

One nifty little coincidence this year is that both Seattle and New England share their team monikers with squadrons in Naval Aviation.

VAW-126 Seahawks have, with permission, adopted the logo of Seattle’s wonderful franchise.

VAQ-140, oddly enough stationed just north of Seattle, have dubbed themselves The Patriots, though, being refined ladies and gentlemen, they have not adopted the logo of the eastern seaboard franchise.

One of the best paint jobs ever.

A-9 vs. A-10

Everybody knows about the A-10 Warthog. And most of you know the A-10 was the winner of the A-X competition over the Northrop YA-9.

Here’s a little video showing some of the fly-off competition, with handling, weapon separation, gunnery, and formation testing.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRsor-m9CB4]

A question about Jesse Ventura, Chris Kyle, and the movie American Sniper.

You are probably aware that Jesse Ventura won a $1.8 million award in his defamation lawsuit against the estate of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Kyle described a fight in a Coronado bar, without naming names, but subsequently in interviews named Ventura as the person he’d punched in the face. Ventura disputed this, and sued Kyle. Before the suit went to trial, Kyle was murdered in Texas.

Lots of people got up in arms that Ventura continued his suit. All over the web there are posts about how Ventura was suing the widow. No. Ventura was suing the estate of Chris Kyle. That Tara Kyle happened to be the executor of the estate doesn’t mean Ventura was suing her personally. It certainly wasn’t Ventura’s fault that Kyle was murdered before the lawsuit came to a conclusion.

Ventura’s argument was that the publicity generated by Kyle specifically (and allegedly falsely) naming Ventura after the publication both cost Ventura opportunities, and boosted the sale of Kyle’s book, American Sniper. That’s considered a form of unjust enrichment.

I hate to say it, loathing Ventura as I do, but his case at court was quite solid, convincing not only the jury, but also the appeals court.

Now Ventura is suing the book’s publisher, presumably for unjust enrichment. One suspects Ventura’s case there will be every bit as strong as it was in the original suit. Whether the publisher settles or goes to trial remains to be seen.

So here’s my question. Will Ventura also go after the movie American Sniper? I suppose a case could be made that some portion of the success of the movie is due to the publicity surrounding Kyle and Ventura, though apparently the incident in question is not a part of the movie.

Sebastian Junger Knows Why Young Men Go to War — War Is Boring — Medium

Sebastian Junger is a rare filmmaker. His trio of documentaries about soldiers fighting in Afghanistan neither praise nor demonize America’s troops. Unlike most popular war films, he doesn’t turn soldiers into superheroes.

The Oscar-nominated Restrepo is about the job. Korengal is about the men. The Last Patrol is about those men trying to come home. In a long and discursive interview, we talked with Junger about warped perceptions of the troops, why he went to war and modern conceptions of manhood.

Junger argues that Americans are enamored with war, even when they say they don’t believe in it. He also thinks young men in the west no longer have a sense of what it means to be a man—and some of them go to war to find out.

via Sebastian Junger Knows Why Young Men Go to War — War Is Boring — Medium.

An interesting look at Junger and his thoughts on manhood, society, war, and coming of age.

Infantrywomen: What the Evaluations Are Not Considering | ARMY Magazine

January 1, 2016, is the deadline for the military services to integrate women into the Infantry, Armor, Field Artillery and Special Forces combat units. It is contended that this will offer an equal opportunity for advancement up the promotion chain to the highest levels of command for both men and women.

Many tests, surveys and polls have been conducted during the past year, most of which have determined that physical strength and stamina will have to be gender-normed in order for the requirements to be fair and equally achieved; if they are gender-neutral, the standards will have to be much less demanding.

Test results and surveys have not been widely disseminated, but leakage seems to establish that men are five to six times more likely to meet standards being tested. This does not deny that some women are able to match the average male measurements, but very few match the higher scores posted by many men. Such findings are no surprise to anyone who recognizes that we have separate Olympic events for men and women, we have separate professional sports leagues, and we have separate world’s records for most everything requiring physical skills. The first woman to finish the Boston Marathon, who comes in ahead of a thousand men, also loses to a hundred or so men who crossed the line minutes before her.

via Infantrywomen: What the Evaluations Are Not Considering | ARMY Magazine.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution quite clearly gives Congress the authority to put an end to this Obama administration silliness. Would that they exercise it.

Bastogne Historical Marker in danger?

Reader Mike from the Netherlands sent us a tip that the American Historical Marker in Bastogne may be in danger, due to drawdowns in the Belgian Army.

Important American Historical Marker at Bastogne to be bulldozed ?

As you may already understand, the Belgian Army is, once again, facing drastic financial cutbacks over the next few years.  Despite the substantial number of closings that have been effected in the past, a new wave of shut-downs for other Army Bases will soon become a reality.

Sadly, this information will quite likely pass with little fanfare or publicity through media, as it is the norm for our times.  And it is my fear that people may miss one of the most tragic details these actions would include:   The closing of Bastogne’s Army Base and the most important Historical Marker of the defense of Bastogne by the 101st Airborne Division and attached units in World War II.

The Army Base was the 101st Airborne Headquarters during the siege at the end of December 1944.  This base was, indeed, the Headquarters where General McAuliffe responded with his historical message to the Germans’ demand for surrender: “NUTS.”

Any Screaming Eagles out there?

It’s bad enough our European allies are unwilling to spend money on their own defense.

I’ll say this, Belgium (and the Dutch) have done good work in memorializing and recognizing the sacrifices young Americans made to end fascism and free their peoples from the yoke of Nazi tyranny. But the ranks of those who survived and immediately benefitted from that are thinning, just as the ranks of our own World War II vets are rapidly diminishing. Will the Benelux nations continue to remember? I suspect so, and I certainly hope so.

Bastogne, of course, was the site of one of the key engagements of the Battle of the Bulge. The Ardennes Counteroffensive remains the largest battle in the history of the US Army, and certainly deserves to be remembered and memorialized.

The coming battle over military retirement.

The Army, and the other services, of course, like to say that people are their most valuable asset. Not surprisingly, they’re pretty much the most expensive one as well.

Recently, the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission returned a report on how to modernize the current military retirement system to reduce costs to the government. It’s recommendations are  not especially popular with the military population.

In simplest terms right now, 20 years of service earns you retirement at half of your final basic pay, starting immediately, for life, adjusted for inflation. 30 years earns three-quarters pay. It’s somewhat more complicated than that, actually, but that’s close enough.

The MCRMC has recommended reducing the pension soldiers receive, boosting a 401k style investment program, delaying payment of retirement until 60 years of age, and other changes. Worse still, they want to slough retirees off the TriCare For Life medical program and onto Obamacare.

Jonn at This Ain’t Hell discusses just what a 20-year pension means.

I retired at the age of 38 along with my family. I went to college the month after I left the service. It was a fairly tough transition – I worked a full time job with a security company as a rent-a-cop on a construction site, I also worked as a work/study student in the campus VA office, all while carrying a full load of classes. The pension helped us meet our transition expanses until I graduated.

After college, I went into sales with an investment company, a totally foreign environment. While I struggled to learn the business and how to teach other people what they needed, the Army pension paid the bills. Eventually, I failed at that business because some people are too stupid to help, and I’m no salesman,

When I went to work for the National Archives, most of the people my age had been at the job longer, so I was behind my peers in pay, but living in the District of Columbia, my employer didn’t take that into consideration and I still had to pay rent and bills. My pension gave me parity with my peers in an expensive environment.

Obviously, few people retire at the age of 38 and never work again. On the other hand, outside some very specific career fields, veterans who retire and then enter the work force do suffer from being years behind their peers in the civilian workforce. Their wages at their new jobs reflect their entry level status there, not the 20 years experience in the service.

Furthermore, while most jobs in the military are not terribly physically grueling, many are, and it is a rare retiree who doesn’t have some dents and dings in them. The issue is serious enough that many struggle to complete a second career.

That’s not to say that the retirement system isn’t overdue for an overhaul.

One major problem with the system is that it is somewhat all or nothing. A guy who leaves the service before 20 years essentially gets nothing. Heck, most employers vest a pension*at five years.

The big problem the military faces is that people live much longer today. When the 20 year retirement was instituted, retirees had the decency to die within about 20 years, give or take, of retirement. Today, a service member who retires at 38 years of age still has a life expectancy of another 35-40 years. And who knows just how much longer that number will be in 35-40 years. Worse still, from the government’s point of view, much of that life expectancy comes from great medical care, which is expensive, and which is a cost the government is paying.

From the DoD’s viewpoint, retirees threaten to become a costly retirement program with an armed wing. The costs of service members are somewhat high while they’re on active duty. But they really become expensive after they retire. I’m actually somewhat sympathetic to that argument.

The problem is, touching the military retirement system is fraught with political dangers. It’s extraordinarily unpopular, both with veterans (even those who left long before retirement) and with the public at large.

The other thing that really, really sticks in the craw of retirees is that they provided service to the nation. Their retirement was earned. And yet they see an ever expanding number of programs that provide money and health care, not only to people that are simply poor, but even to those who flaunt the law and come here illegally. It’s not at all surprising that veterans and retirees think cutting costs there is a good first step before touching the earned benefits of our nation’s veterans.

Here’s the commission’s report:

[scribd id=254208868 key=key-mkvmUHQ67qNuilWrP4sn mode=scroll]

 

 

*Those that still have a pension, yes.

Obama says he’s the best friend Israel ever had in the White House…

 

 

Say, when is the LA Times ever going to get around to releasing the Khalidi tapes?