June 1, 2013

Kinda Magic

In “Seeking the Sex-Assault Solution” by Anna Mulrine, Brig. Gen. Eden Murrie asks, “Does anyone have a ‘magic bullet?’?” [April, p. 48].

I don’t have a magic bullet to completely solve sex assaults throughout the military—no one does—but I do have one to solve the kind of behavior at basic military training (BMT) units. Keep the males and females separated.

DOD and senior leadership in the military have always been opposed to this idea for two reasons: (1) Train the way you fight—together. I agree, but do you think keeping them separated for eight to nine weeks is going to detract from the ability of an operational unit to operate and fight together? (2) We don’t have enough female training instructors. Yes, you do: Assign senior qualified females to those positions the way you assign nonvolunteers when you have a critical skills shortage.

The magic bullet of separating during BMT will work despite generational and cultural changes that seem to serve as a common crutch these days. While I was commander of Lackland Air Force Base for four years and ATC commander for three years, we had very few cases of sexual assault. Why? (1) Magic bullet (2) Luck.

Gen. Andrew P. Iosue,
USAF (Ret.)
San Antonio

Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin is, without question, the finest senior leader for whom I’ve ever worked. His integrity is unflagging and his fairness uncompromising. Before I deployed to work for him under hostile fire, I sought to know what kind of man I’d be working for and found his reputation to be excellent over the course of a long and distinguished career. He did not disappoint me. Do those who suspect malfeasance really think such a man would pursue this course of action without good cause, realizing the certain backlash by those who might see this as a politically expedient opportunity? No, only a man of great conviction would make a call this difficult and stand to take the heat.

Lt. Col. Jack A. Klein,
Fairchild AFB, Wash.

Goldwater-Nichols Strikes Again

Thanks for the continuing great work representing our Air Force. The April 2013 edition was exceptionally well-assembled and written. All of the articles hit on the compelling topics of the day.

Regarding the “Airmen Absent” [p. 34] piece, I think there are some pretty interesting conclusions that can be drawn from the magazine’s annual almanac and the section on Air Force leadership [“Leaders Through the Years,” May, p. 108]. If you look at the period starting in 1990—very soon after Goldwater-Nichols—you will see what I think is a pretty sad picture. In that period the Air Force had: 12 SECAFs, 12 CSAFs, and 15 VCSAFs. In the same period, there had been a similar number of commanders of three of the key major commands: 16 TAC/ACC, 13 PACAF, and 14 USAFE. This includes a lot of great officers, managers, and leaders, including some “acting” in their positions for only a few months or so. Nevertheless, this is certainly a set of circumstances differing from the pre-1990 era, when senior leaders were often in these key positions for four to six years. This turbulence over the past couple of decades comes from a host of reasons, but regardless of the causes, this rate of turnover would not be considered a good thing by any experts in leadership and management, and probably contributes to the small number of Air Force generals serving as COCOMs or in the key positions on the Joint Staff.

Finally, regarding the quote, “Whatever check (you write), I will cash,” I think I understand the commitment to jointness this is meant to convey, but I would hope that the circumstances leading to the comment included a very healthy, open, and frank discussion on the amount of the check and the payee before the transaction is finalized.

Col. Stephen A. Mosier,
USAF (Ret.)
Williamsburg, Va.

Former Air Force Secretary James G. Roche has a Navy background, so it is no surprise to me he was amazed when “former AMC general officers bad-mouthed the F-22.” I spent a career as an airlifter and found both the Navy and Army folks I was supporting to be very team-oriented. Not so Air Force pilots. When I reported to my first assignment after pilot training, Korat Air Base, I was advised not to go in the Officers’ Club bar. (Do second lieutenants ever listen?) As a few of us walked by a group of fighter pukes at the bar we were greeted with, “What are you trash-haulers doing in here?” So, because I didn’t finish in the top 10 of my class I deserve that? Nothing in my career made me feel that I was part of a team that included fighter pilots. When Air Force Magazine wrote an article about the evacuation of Kham Duc, the pilot of the C-123 who [received] a Medal of Honor for this incident was described as a fighter pilot. I believe the pilot of a C-123 is an airlifter, regardless of his past assignments. Those AMC general officers undoubtedly had similar experiences. Airlifters will always do their job with skill and dedication, but help sell fighter planes? Not likely.

Maj. Tom Phillips,
USAF (Ret.)
Niceville, Fla.

1944 to 2010

I am writing about an article in Air Force Magazine, “The Mustangs of Iwo,” in the April 2013 issue [p.74].

On p. 77 there is a picture of a flight of P-51s of the 462nd Fighter Squadron of the 506th Fighter Group, in formation on a mission to Japan. The flight leader in plane #627 is my father. I do not know if he was a lieutenant or captain at that time. My dad’s name is Jack Rice. This was a flight of four planes, and my Dad loves this picture. In fact, not only does it hang in my parents’ home, it hangs in the homes of all us children, and in my classroom as well. My dad flew numerous eight-plus-hour missions to Japan, not only as bomber escort but also on strafing missions; top cover missions over Iwo protecting the marines; and missions against Chichi Jima.

After the war, my dad stayed on flying status in the Connecticut Air National Guard. He was recalled for the Korean conflict, and then stayed in the Air Force, serving our country for 32 years. He flew around 30 different types of airplanes and has actually recently flown one that he had never flown back in 1943. He served in TAWC, the Vietnam conflict, and with NATO toward the end of his career.

In 2010 my dad was “recalled to service” as a guest speaker with the 53rd Air Wing, at which time he gave an average of three briefings a day to the airmen of the wing, and we also sat in on some staff meetings. With this unit, though with varying names, Dad served in 1944, 1963-64, and 2010.

Cheryl Anderson
Hurst, Tex.

Show Us the Thunderbirds

It’s unfortunate that we as a country have lost confidence in our government to do the right thing for saving “billions” of tax dollars [“Cutting Readiness,” April, p. 22]. We continue to read or see news about billions of funds unaccounted for and no answers to “where’s the money?” We fund programs/governments overseas for their civil wars when they do not even want us involved. When the government bailed out the auto manufacturers they were critical when the CEOs flew their own jets to Washington. However, how much does our government waste utilizing Air Force One for unnecessary trips? The sequestration hit on a Friday and the new Secretary of State John Kerry announced $250 million in aid for Egypt on that Sunday!

And look at the adverse effect this now has on our military. Grounding the Air Force Thunderbirds! It is a sad day for the current Thunderbird team who have worked so hard during training season and are now grounded. An approval show flown today for the ACC commander was a waste since there are no air shows now. I suppose that most of our politicians don’t know that all the team members are operationally ready as a requirement! And it takes less than 72 hours to have the jets ready for battle!

I wonder how many new recruits who would have enlisted at their hometown show sites with the Thunderbirds’ commander are now disappointed, as well as our Air Force Academy graduates? It’s such a shame for those team members who proudly serve to end up missing the opportunity to represent our Air Force, especially for the 60th anniversary show season of the team.

Perhaps we need as a nation to have new members of our executive, legislative, and judicial branches who don’t fight and agree. It’s called leadership!

SMSgt. Dave Branks,
USAF (Ret.)
Maryville, Tenn.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel wants to cut Pentagon personnel costs, which he cites as a key driver of soaring DOD budgets. He should start by cutting the civilian tail that wags the military dog. DOD has roughly two million uniformed troops and 800,000 civilian employees, which means a ratio of more than one civilian staffer for every three military troops. That’s lopsided leadership. The Pentagon must cut its civilian staff in half via a permanent hiring freeze, reduction in force, and attrition. It plans to slash 15,000 staffers, but that’s not nearly enough.

Along with federal government workers, DOD hires roughly 100,000 private contract workers doing tasks that GIs used to perform, such as food services, logistics, security, transportation, and intelligence gathering. Those duties must be transferred to military personnel who can perform them just as efficiently at a much lower cost. DOD should also dump a small army of consultants producing meaningless reports and PowerPointless briefings. A consultant just looks at your watch and charges a high fee to give you the right time. We must not outsource the defense of our country to Halliburton, Blackwater, and RAND.

Richard Reif
Flushing, N.Y.

Hail to the Chief

I became quite interested in reading the Air Force Magazine publication for April 2013, announcing what we truly have in our next Chief Master Sergeant of the US Air Force [“Chief Cody,” p. 44]. What a leader and representative of our great enlisted force. Calling the airmen the service’s most important asset takes me back to the year of 1972 when the then-Secretary of the Air Force gave an address and emphasized the fact that our most important and valuable asset of the Air Force was its PEOPLE.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Cody is bringing forth so many issues regarding our enlisted force that have been sitting on the sidelines for far too long. Throughout my entire career I always had the highest regard for the welfare of the enlisted force I was responsible for.

Col. Norman H. Happel,
USAF (Ret.)
Spokane, Wash.

I really enjoyed your article on the new Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, CMSgt. Jim Cody. When Chief Cody’s selection was announced it was almost as if I’d hit the “trifecta.” I worked with then-master sergeant Cody on the HQ ACC airfield operations staff; his spouse, CMSgt. Athena Cody, was my ATC functional at HQ AMC before her retirement; and General Welsh was my wing commander while at Kunsan AB, South Korea. I was indeed blessed!

I could tell early on that there was something very special about Jim Cody. It wasn’t a question of whether he’d have a successful career; it was just a question of just how far he’d go. Over the years I flight followed him up each rung on his career ladder and was impressed with his success at each level.

I used to tell folks that he looked just like Steve Canyon although many of the younger troops didn’t even know who that was. I guess now your readers (“Up in the Air With Milton Caniff,” April, p. 66) will be saying Steve Canyon looks like him. His professional look coupled with his extensive knowledge, intensity, and attention to detail made him a force to be reckoned with on ATC standardization-evaluation team visits to ACC airfields. Controllers, aviators, support personnel, or leadership he dealt with didn’t always like or agree with what he had to say but always respected his right to say it. With the many and diverse challenges facing today’s Air Force enlisted force we can be in no better hands as we move forward!

Col. Bill Malec,
USAF (Ret.)
O’Fallon, Ill.

It was a sight for sore eyes, seeing pictures of the change of command ceremony for Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force and both men in Air Force blue. I think it is time to put the BDUs in closet and start wearing the “Air Force blue.”

TSgt. Pete Reasner,
USAF (Ret.)
Turbotville, Pa.

Dragon Lady, Terry, Steve, and Milton

Your recent article on Milt Caniff brought back fond memories [“Up in the Air With Milton Caniff,” April, p. 66]. In 1951 I was an F-84 gunnery instructor at Luke Air Force Base. The Air Force decided to send some cartoonists and assistant cartoonists to various bases so they could accurately depict Air Force life in their cartoons. I was assigned as escort officer to Frank Engli, who was an assistant to Milt Caniff. I told Engli that I was a fan of “Terry and the Pirates” and that Terry and I checked out in the P-40 and the Mustang at about the same time. Mr. Engli thought that was cool, and he offered to send me some of Milt Caniff’s original work. A few weeks later I got an original pen and ink panel of Terry, a large watercolor drawing of Steve Canyon, and a beautiful watercolor drawing of Miss Lace—all signed by Milt Caniff and dedicated to me! They hang in my “Air Force” room and I am honored to have these wonderful treasures from the legendary Milt Caniff.

Col. Bill Landis,
USAF (Ret.)
Escondido, Calif.

In the April issue, I very much enjoyed reading John Correll’s fantastic article about Milton Caniff. It was a real treat for me, having grown up reading the funnies in that era, but there was a piece of lore the author missed that your readers may enjoy learning. One of the best assignments I experienced during my USAF career was flying the U-2 Dragon Lady out of RAF Alconbury, UK, (then labeled a TR-1 for political reasons) in the latter half of the 1980s. After retiring from the Air Force, one of my jobs was working U-2 advanced concepts for Lockheed Martin. In that role, I had the pleasure to give classified briefings to many political and military officials on U-2 capabilities. One of the commonly asked questions was how the Dragon Lady moniker came about. Having access to people who had been connected to the very beginnings of the program, my research discovered the name was adopted early in the program from the Dragon Lady character in the then-popular “Terry and the Pirates” comic strip, whose persona fit the U-2’s flying characteristics perfectly—graceful but don’t dare let your guard down. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to share how Milton Caniff had connected with yet another unique aspect of today’s operational Air Force. Thank you for your great publication, keeping the past and future tied together for the generations that have served and the generation serving now.

Lt. Col. Mark A. Mitchell,
USAF (Ret.)
Maple Valley, Wash.

I am Milton Caniff’s nephew and after his death in 1988, I now own the trademark on Steve Canyon, Male Call, and Dickie Dare. Your article was terrific. I am trying to keep Milton’s and Steve Canyon’s names alive. We are working on a DVD set of the 1958-59 TV series and when finished, hope the Military Channel will be interested.

IDW is doing the Steve Canyon books in large size and I trust they will do the 40 years of it.

I was in the military from 1941 to 1964 and helped in research for many of Milton’s projects.

Milton visited me while [I was] stationed in Panama and we visited Albrook Air Force Base on the Pacific side. When we arrived, we were met by, I believe, General Stranahan. He informed Milton his old buddy Curtis LeMay had been visiting and when he heard Milton was arriving, he immediately jumped in his plane and took off. You are correct. He was not fond of Milton.

Harry Guyton
Yuma, Ariz.

Short Flight

The Kfir was the subject of “Airpower Classics” in the April issue [p. 84]. I think that the “Airpower Classics” is one of the highlights of the Air Force Magazine and I always carefully read about the selected aircraft. However, I can’t help wondering about the listed “max range 215 mi.” Certainly this can’t be the max range. Maybe a “1” was omitted and the max range is 1,215 mi? Or maybe it was mislabeled and the 215 mi is the combat radius? Inquiring minds would like to know, what is the real story here?

Charlie Friend
Alamogordo, N.M.

The Kfir’s combat radius is 215 miles. The article has been corrected in the online version.

I always enjoy Walt Boyne’s “Airpower Classics” feature. It’s the first thing I check out when I get a new issue of Air Force Magazine. I would like to offer a few comments for the April 2013 edition. For the Famous Fliers section, “Ace: Giora Epstein” is a little misleading. Epstein, who is one of the world’s top jet aces (the Russians muddy things up a bit with claims that one of their MiG-15 pilots in Korea has about 23 kills) got all his 17 kills in the Mirage III and Nesher derivative of the Mirage 5. He checked out in the Kfir, and did, indeed, come to NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach, Va., in 1985 to help check out naval aviators in their newly leased Kfir C.1s. But he did not get any kills in the Kfir and so is definitely not an ace in the aircraft.

For the Interesting Facts section, an Ecuadorian Kfir scored against a Peruvian A-37 in January 1995.

I greatly enjoyed John Correll thankfully lengthy feature on Milton Caniff, especially all the examples of his “Steve Canyon” and “Terry and the Pirates” strips. Wonderful work, the artist and the article’s author.

Cmdr. Peter B. Mersky,
USNR (Ret.)
Alexandria, Va.