- Protect the country from all enemies, foreign and domestic, but mainly the former due to posse comitatus.
- Maintain the health and welfare of active duty troops, veterans, and retired veterans.
- Prevent the waste of tax dollars on boondoggles and pork.
- Ensure that the defense treaties we hold with our allies are upheld.
The Defense Secretary must not worry that corporate officers of aerospace firms are sufficiently pampered and must not allow the military to be run as a social experiment, with the recent Obama-approved "white privilege" training being a perfect example of the latter.
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The Johnston-McConnell Agreement of 1966 settled a turf war between the Army and Air Force, restricting the Army from tactical fixed wing aircraft and restricting the Air Force from most helicopters. It worked reasonably well for dividing their empires, but it created a problem later when the A-10 was introduced. The A-10's only mission was ground support, as well as the destruction of tanks. The former role meant that the Army was forced to communicate with the Air Force to support its own soldiers, but much worse than that, the money spent on ground support was always burning a hole in the pockets of Air Force generals who wished to buy ever more expensive toys. The Air Force owning the A-10 is a conflict of interest that should be obvious even to a lobbyist. The Johnston-McConnell Agreement needs to be replaced by one governed by the needs of the troops, with the Army being in control of its own destiny with respect to the welfare of soldiers in combat. Disagreements could be settled by the Secretary of Defense.
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Serbian Colonel Zoltan Dani famously shot-down a stealth F-117 in 1999 using "1960s-vintage SAMs." The same unit also shot-down an F-16.
"Long before the 1999 war, I took keen interest in the stealth fighter and on how it could be detected. And I concluded that there are no invisible aircraft, but only less visible," he said. "We used a little innovation to update our 1960s-vintage SAMs to detect the Nighthawk."
That innovation remains a secret today, but it has probably been shared with Russia, given how close Serbia and Russia are.
That's the problem with betting the farm on stealth technology which is unproven in combat. Stealth requires a drastic reduction in performance, so if someone finds a way to penetrate the stealth, your assets are sitting ducks. Given that China has already stolen much of the design of the F-35 which might enable it to kill it in combat, we should be very worried about this possibility.
The biggest problem with the F-35 is that it is so expensive -- the most expensive weapons program ever and the best example of acquisition malpractice -- that the Air Force needs to eliminate other weapons programs and save money in other areas to afford it. That's why it is determined to eliminate the A-10, the best ground support aircraft ever invented. It was designed during the Cold War when a massive armor attack by the Soviets was a genuine threat. But there are plenty of other uses for the A-10 including defending against North Korean tanks and wrecking the long lines of Toyota trucks used by Daesh (Islamic State). The Air Force has threatened to eliminate F-16s if the A-10 remains, doubling down on its quest to retain its newest toy.
The F-35 cannot dogfight, but that somewhat misses the point. There are three proposed missions for the F-35: air-to-air combat, air-to-ground target destruction, and ground support. One part of the middle category involves the destruction of ground-based radars, e.g. Raytheon's HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile), where a stealth aircraft destroys targeting radars so non-stealthy aircraft can destroy the target. The first two involve stand-off invisibility, i.e. killing an aircraft or a large ground target from a distance where the F-35 can use its stealth and advanced targeting to its best advantage. If the stealth and avionics work as advertised, these will be accomplished. However, the third category, ground support, is laughable. When flying close to the ground, its stealth and avionics will be of little value. And the fact that it is unarmored compared to the A-10 will result in it having a short life in combat.
The F-35 cannot perform a ground support role because it will not carry enough ammunition. The Air Force F-35 will carry 182 rounds while the Navy / Marine F-35 will carry 220 rounds, in either case only enough for a few seconds of firing. Compare that to the A-10 which can carry 1174 rounds. The other elephant in the room is that the software to run the F-35 gun won't be available until 2019 at the earliest.
The reason for many of the F-35's problems is that is was meant to be everything to everyone. It was meant to be an Air Force jack-of-all-trades, a Navy carrier aircraft, and a replacement for the Marines' Harrier. The last of these three was the stake through its heart because it resulted in design compromises which would make it more vulnerable in air combat.
The Pentagon's top weapons tester noted: "Unless remedied, these deficiencies in the USRL will translate into significant limitations for the F-35 in combat against existing threats." The USRL is a laboratory established to compile information known as mission data files so that the F-35 can operate in combat. In other words, the F-35's combat performance is completely dependent upon data contained in an external laboratory, a world first for a combat aircraft. Not to mention that the aircraft themselves will be returned to the factory from time to time to be refitted with debugged hardware and software.
There are other problems, including having only one engine. Fighter pilots relish the thought of having two engines in case one fails, an uncomfortably common experience. Also, the single F135 Pratt & Whitney engine runs much hotter than other engines, making it more visible to infrared sensors on missiles directed toward it.
I would cancel the existing F-35 program and modify it as follows. The Marines are expecting to receive 97 F-35Bs which can land vertically. I would allow these to be built because the Marines need a replacement for the Harrier, but the ammunition load must be increased. But I would cancel most of the Air Force's F-35A and Navy's F-35C aircraft. We would establish the number required for stand-off invisibility attacks and stop there. All F-35A and F-35C aircraft would be reclassified as A-35A and A-35C, i.e. they would be turned into aircraft intended for use against ground targets and far-off aircraft, a mission they can actually accomplish. The work on the advanced helmet which allows pilots to see all around the aircraft via the use of six cameras would continue to improve the resolution, but I would seriously consider restricting further improvements to the U.S. and close allies similar to how we restrict the highest resolution of the GPS system to military uses. We would need to determine which aircraft would meet the needs of the Air Force and Navy but I would not allow another round of acquisition malpractice. The F-15 could be upgraded and the F-22 assembly line would be reopened. The Navy would have the worst of it given that the F-14 is retired and the F-18 is soon to be, but I'm sure we could devise an acceptable long-term solution, perhaps involving a Navy version of a reconstituted F-22. I see a long-term need for a fast interceptor such as F-15 2.0.
Another possibility for the F-35s that have already been built would be to convert them to be remote-controlled with some autonomous capability. This would involve reducing the height of the cockpit to decrease drag. These aircraft would be free of g-force restrictions that hinder human pilots. A swarm controller would be created to allow a single pilot to direct them against a single, heavily-defended objective as we would find in China.
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The commissary system has been a major benefit for military families since 1867. I worked at a military commissary in my younger years. We worked only for tips. I still remember the people, mostly retired, who arrived in pickup trucks, vans, and RVs. One retired couple was a favorite of ours because they always bought eight carts full of food and tipped generously. I didn't understand it at the time, but the commissary system is a benefit that military families depend upon for survival, especially the enlisted troops. I would categorically refuse to reduce the commissary subsidy as has been continually proposed by the Obama administration which wants to reduce the subsidy from $1.4 billion to $400 million. It's obvious that the intent is to help pay for the F-35 on the backs of troops.
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Not only would I not kill the A-10, I would initiate a program to refurbish them. This would not be a redesign, but an upgrade of avionics, weapons, engines, and airframe to make it more survivable and lethal. Just as we are doing with B-52s, we would enable A-10s to last another decade or two at a cost drastically lower than designing and building a replacement, not to mention the money frittered away on the F-35. And it would be transferred to the Army's control.
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All service personnel who were injured or killed in the line of duty would be eligible for full benefits. This means that recruiters who were injured or killed by Islamists would be eligible for the Purple Heart and disability benefits, if applicable, and their families would be eligible for survivor benefits. These incidents would not be classified as workplace violence as was done by the Obama administration.
And I would create a military carry permit scheme where military personnel could legally carry personal weapons anywhere in the U.S. if they so wish. I would need to make some legal arrangements with the states, but I would insist that military personnel be allowed to fully make good on their oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, whether those enemies are Islamists or another criminal group.
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Reuters' three-part article, Unaccountable: The high cost of the Pentagon's bad bookkeeping, goes into gory detail regarding how the military-industrial complex is completely out of control. It notes how $8.5 trillion -- half of the total debt -- is lost in the DOD maelstrom. A number of efforts have been made to reorganize the DOD, but none have been successful for various reasons. I would make this a priority. I would paraphrase Georgy Zhukov, the top Soviet general during WWII, who declared: "If you do not know how to do something, we will teach you. If you do not want to do it, we will make you." I would make it clear to everyone in the DOD that the system is going to be improved. Anyone who does things a certain way because they do not know any better will be educated. But anyone who tries the usual government game of passive-aggressive resistance, i.e. they pretend to go along but actually sabotage the effort, will be transferred to duty consisting of scrubbing toilets in some far-off wasteland.
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Russia and China are resurgent powers and not in ways everyone expects. Russia is building a fleet of nuclear icebreakers to support its claims in the Arctic which is one of the new military frontiers. China has designs on the Arctic and has used the Northeast Passage as a shipping route. Canada, our best friend in the world, announced that it was building icebreakers to support its claim on the Northwest Passage and its other territories, but it did not follow through on its announcement. The U.S. has always held that the Northwest Passage was an international seaway and sent a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker through the area without first notifying Canada as would be required for travel through an internal passage. This was a wrong-headed move on the Reagan administration's part. We should recognize Canada's claim to the passage as being internal Canadian territory because if the climate continues to warm, Russia and China will push to send oil tankers, military vessels, and other ships through the passage. We should hammer out a treaty giving the U.S. permanent access, but allow Canada to restrict single-hull oil tankers and military vessels. And we need to build a few icebreakers, regardless of whether they will all be Coast Guard ships or a mix of Coast Guard and Navy ones. Icebreakers are not cool technology like the F-35, but they are essential for defense and commerce.
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Non-Muslims visiting a Muslim country are required to act and dress as local Muslims, yet when Muslims visit a Western country the government usually bends over backwards pandering to them, even to the point of covering up statues in Italy so as to not offend visiting Iranians. Requiring female officers and soldiers to wear an Islamic sack in Muslim countries is discriminatory. I would inform all countries, partner and otherwise, that U.S. officers and soldiers will wear a proper U.S. military uniform. If the country does not like it, we will not work with them.
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Almost all computer hardware is now manufactured by China. Much of the specialized hardware installed aboard ships and armored vehicles is manufactured in a more friendly country, but there are countless laptops and desktops being used by military personnel which could have tainted firmware or hardware, with this backdoor capable of being activated if the U.S. comes to blows with China. I would start the process to migrate military personnel away from Chinese hardware. This would certainly cost more, but the cost would be covered by some of the money we saved by killing the F-35. Not to mention the risk we run by using Chinese hardware in nuclear labs and other important infrastructure.
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Turkish President Erdogan asked the U.S. to choose between Turkey and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party as its partner. Given Turkey's ongoing mass murder of Kurds, its military assistance for Islamists in Syria and Iraq, its standing by while Kobani was leveled by Daesh, its allowing Daesh recruits to freely cross the country and travel to Syria and Iraq, its airstrikes against our allies in Syria, and its purchase of Chinese missiles which will not integrate into NATO, I would give Erdogan two choices: return Turkey to the secular country Ataturk built or leave NATO. Turkey no longer pretends to be a civilized country, especially with respect to its prosecutions for "insulting Turkishness," with that being used to imprison people who deny the Armenian Genocide or say things contrary to Sultan Erdogan.
We'd need to give counter-battery radar systems to the Kurds in Syria and Iraq so they can locate the Turkish artillery firing on them. They will also need self-propelled artillery so they can shoot-and-scoot to avoid retaliation, with the most ironic choice being the South Korean K9 Thunder, as Turkey already has a licensed copy of it called the T-155 Firtina. And they'd need surface-to-air missiles to prevent Turkey from launching more F-16s against the Kurds, but perhaps it would be better to have the Russians handle this.
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There is a serious problem with espionage in the U.S. The Chinese J-31 is almost an exact copy of the F-35 and it might even be better because China did not saddle it with being a quasi-helicopter. China has had great success in stealing the secrets of the U.S. and other Western countries. There are probably only two ways this is happening: old fashioned espionage and cyber-theft.
We have to assume that Chinese nationals are one conduit for information. Political correctness is part of the problem, but we must get beyond that. If a person is traveling back-and-forth to China, he should not have a clearance and this includes the military, civil service, appointed government officials, and the many aerospace companies. There are plenty of companies in the private sector for these people to work. The same is true of Muslims. Those who are traveling back-and-forth to an Islamic country or contributing to Islamist websites should not have a clearance.
It is time to reassess the network security of the nation. One reason our power infrastructure is vulnerable is that corporations eliminated jobs of operators who had been stationed in the actual control facility and replaced them with remote monitoring over the Internet. However, if a company operator can access equipment via the Internet, so can a malefactor. I suspect the military-industrial complex has the same problem. Companies have people who are situated in multiple locations working in a project and allow their communications to be handled by the Internet. This must be replaced by more expensive leased lines which are substantially more secure. I'm sure there are other security holes and these must be addressed as well.
Given that Apple gave the Chinese government the source code for its products, I would ban all Apple products from projects employing security clearances, indirectly and indirectly, with the former taking place in military and government facilities and the latter taking place in defense contractor facilities. Apple has the right to partner with China, but we have the right to deny access for all Apple products. Given the source code, China does not have to reverse engineer Apple products to determine the best way to listen to users. We'd need to make similar assessments for Google, Facebook, and other big data corporations, especially given Google's tendency to act as a corporate hoover. The problem with China is not restricted to the U.S., as China has often stolen corporate trade secrets and government information from Germany and other countries.
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Any attempted hostage-taking by Iran or any other country would be met with all the military power of the U.S. I would leave it up to the flag officers to determine the exact methods, but hostage-taking would not happen on my watch. And we wouldn't apologize afterward.
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I would remove all restrictions on certain historical events, e.g. Israel's attack on the USS Liberty, to clear the air. I would not have the authority to release documents from the intelligence community, but I would start by releasing all participants from security restrictions on their speaking with the press.
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When Rangers assaulted Normandy in June 1944, some of them wore packs weighing 200 pounds or more, more than almost any woman on the planet could handle, because they could not count on being resupplied for days. Requirements for military units must be calculated for the worst case, not for sunny days on the parade field.
In the winter of 1944, the 101st Airborne Division was surrounded at Bastogne, Belgium, by German troops, some wearing U.S. or British uniforms. The situation became so tenuous that cooks, typists, and other personnel not accustomed to firing a rifle for extended periods were thrown into the firing line. The lesson to be learned here is that it's not a valid assumption that military personnel can always avoid being combat soldiers.