Air Force MSgt. Mandy Mueller, 39th Medical Operations Squadron medical services flight chief, reads a holiday letter on Dec. 11, 2019, at Incirlik AB, Turkey. SSgt. Joshua Magbanua
Photo Caption & Credits


Feb. 17, 2022

We love letters! Write to us at To be published, letters should be timely, relevant and concise. Include your name and location. Letters may be edited for space and the editors have final say on which are published.

Tanker Tanking

The continued buy of the KC-46 with the Remote Vision System (RVS) only shows us that the Preliminary Design Review and Critical Design Review Teams of the RVS for the KC-46 didn’t do their job [“KC-46, F-35, Provide Lessons for Future Testing,” November, p. 22].

The Critical Design Review is supposed to stop a program from going further when it doesn’t meet specifications by the customer, the customer being the USAF.

The USAF is scheduled to buy 179 of the KC-46 tankers of which over 40 have been delivered with a mired of issues too numerous to mention here.

But the elephant in the room is the ability to refuel aircraft. 

The USAF needs to stop the bleeding and buy the Airbus tanker which is operational with many of our NATO partners and is being built in Mobile, Ala.

Terminate the team that came up with the Remote Vision System for refueling aircraft in-flight. They failed miserably and cost the USAF something it can ill afford right now, tanker support. 

What’s the USAF term for this, lack of confidence in a leadership role?

What’s it going to take, a lightning strike that disables the camera system and a missed refueling of an important mission for the AMC leadership to see this tanker isn’t working?

The AMC commander has had this problem long enough. Get it fixed, our troops deserve better.

Col. Clyde Romero,  
USAF (Ret.)
Marietta, Ga.

If Boeing is serious about any future tanker business it should: 

1) Grab the drawings for the KC-46. 

2) Pull the next KC-46 airframe on the assembly line. 

3) Figure out where to put a pod for two-plus boom operators in the aft bottom with a panoramic window (boom plus instructor—minimum).


5) Take the old boom and new one and make the new one work like the old one.

6) Refit the produced KC-46s free of charge to the new B standard. 

Then offer more KC-46Bs to the Air Force.

Charles McCormack 
Danville, Calif.

Definitely Uncomfortable

Perhaps it’s high time USAF refocused on war fighting capabilities [“More Uncomfortable Conversations,” November 2021, p. 35]. I’m really getting tired of hearing about the latest community health assistance efforts, not to mention the latest failure to evoke a spirit of real warfighter mentality in all our young people—enlisted and officer alike. Get it going or get left behind, people!

Lt. Col. Harvey Lyter,
USAF (Ret.)
Meridian, Idaho

Our penchant for fairness is running amok. This is lately expressed in the form of proposals to draft women. A much better idea would be to abolish the draft completely. If the government can take over the life of a person who has committed no crime, this is akin to slavery. The United States should not enter any war that its citizens are unwilling to fight. If we did not have the draft during the Vietnam War, it would likely have ended much earlier and thousands of American lives would have been spared. Let’s make sure that we have no more unpopular wars and, at the same time, ensure that we do not enslave American citizens—men or women.

Col. Roy Miller, 
USAF (Ret.)

I’m now convinced the Air Force (and other services) are more focused on being woke than ensuring the services are ready to protect this country. I’m not sure why this article is titled as it is—“Uncomfortable Conversations”—as these issues have been around for more than 50 years. In my opinion, it is not until the last sentence of the article that what is most important is stated ( … recruiting and training the best possible warfighters is a losing proposition), but the hard words are never said. We’ll get to that.

It’s not like these issues haven’t existed for a while. Broad statements inflame instead of inform. Underrepresentation in career fields. Pilots—the least diverse—may have a perfectly good explanation. The last part of the pushback section had the answer—if one looks at qualifications for the field vs. diversity.

Are warfighting services looking for equal representation of race, color, gender, or whatever in our services, or the most qualified individual to perform the mission? I vote for most qualified. Brig. Gen. [Shawn] Campbell said, “Diverse teams outperform homogenous ones,” alluding to one thing, but not saying it. 

Diversity is never defined in the article, and neither is “where we want to be.” Do we want the most qualified pilots or someone to sit in the seat? Do we want warfighters or bodies to fill a slot? Do we want our services to be equally represented by society or be individuals that are the best qualified to do the job and have the desire to do the job? Do the services want quotas? Please, general officers, tell us what you want. 

Who do you want leading a wing? The individual who knows operations inside out, or an individual who knows supply? I’ll take the operations individual. Not saying the supply type isn’t good, but a good operations type has a pretty good idea of what supply is about. When I was a lieutenant, I was told by a master sergeant to find myself a chief or senior master sergeant in each of the various organizations that made up the wing and get educated on what their organizations do in the mission—some of the best advice I ever received. Maybe there’s a reason for the promotion rates in operations. I’d sure like to know what “a lack of diversity there has a disproportionate impact” means in context. Air Force flying is operations. Support helps the Air Force do its job. Without the airplane, there’s no reason for the maintenance, supply, logistics, etc. Yeah, I’ve heard it before, without the other sections, the airplane doesn’t fly. Let’s get the cart and the horse in the right position before you joust that dragon.

So, Gen. [Sami D.] Said, how are you going to force the population to want to join the services so that the services are more reflective of the population? Society may not agree with an organization’s expectations. If the services are to be reflective of society, let’s put the blame where it might belong—the leaders, the generals. 

I’ve been through Social Actions training and Green Dot, Red Dot training because they were mandated but, in my opinion, did little to address the “uncomfortable talk” issues. In fact, when one is told they’re the problem because of the color of their skin, their gender, or where they come from, it makes the issue worse and solves nothing. Perception is reality and lots of people don’t like to be told their perception is incorrect and won’t listen to someone trying to educate them to help alter that perception. Don’t you dislike that? If topics are “just uncomfortable to talk about”, maybe commanders should have addressed them more vigorously.

Let me get this straight: I want an individual to go to pilot training. My candidates are one that has no experience but has the qualifications, and one that has 500 hours of pilot time and all the qualifications. Note, financial means has no place in this selection. Which do I pick? Or, let’s look at that football coach looking for players. He’s got candidates—one has played football since junior high school and was the Heisman Trophy winner, and one who played football in high school but not college. Which one does he pick? Bad idea to not look at prior experience. 

We, the armed forces, have one mission, FIGHT and WIN. It has been said that war is politics by another name. I wonder if David thought that when he faced Goliath?

Col. B. E. Foster, 
USAF (Ret.)
Fayetteville, Ark.

The Chief of Staff said the pilot selection process is being tweaked to reduce the value, for example, of prior flight training. That will reduce the advantage wielded by someone with the financial means to afford private flying lessons.

This is an absurdity. First, a pilot training candidate with such training is much more likely to succeed in Air Force pilot training than most others, and is more likely to achieve mission-ready status sooner than others. I am sure there are many cases where such an individual worked a second job to cover his or her flying lessons.

This “political correctness” is all too common these days.

Col. Frederic H. Smith, 
USAF (Ret.)
Peachtree City, Ga.

I hesitate to write this letter because I know our Air Force senior leadership, and this supporting magazine, are under extreme political pressure to “do something” about the imbalances of racial minorities in career fields and leadership positions. However, as a very senior former Air Force pilot, the words of General Brown that the pilot selection process is being tweaked to reduce the selection value of prior flight training got my attention as a policy change very poorly thought out. Many, if not most, of these candidates paid for their private pilot training through years of working summer and after school jobs. This is not white privilege. They are focused individuals dedicated to becoming the very best pilots possible and that path is open to anyone who wants to make the effort. 

We had two candidates in my class with prior flight time (not including the ROTC Private License Program). They did very well, finishing in the top of the class. These are the pilots we absolutely need in our Air Force.

Unfortunately, what appears to be happening today is a return to the quota system across the board. This tells me that the decision has been made that we will be OK with being “good enough” as long as the “data” are good … instead of constantly striving to be the very “best.” We can be assured China and Russia are looking for their very best. 

Col. Mike Sexton,
USAF (Ret.)
Albuquerque, N.M.

I believe it’s time for our Air Force and Pentagon leaders to have an uncomfortable conversation among themselves about the fact that their obsession with instituting the woke politics in our military has caused them to take their eyes off the “ball,” namely, China and Russia, to the detriment of our national security and national objectives. Their preoccupation with the politics of diversity and inclusion and white rage is the reason we had the”very close to” a Sputnik moment, as characterized by Gen. [Mark A.] Milley, of the Chinese testing of a hypersonic missile. 

The Air Force for years has always worked admirably at improving the human relations environment. The environment in the Air Force is not as bad as our leadership portrays it to be. However, countries like China and Russia will interpret these signals by our leadership as dissension in the ranks and continue to press the limits such as Russia’s unfettered massing of its troops along the Ukraine border. We need to stop berating and brainwashing our troops by saying how bad they are and instead focus on what unites us in a common cause, and that is the defense of our country and the liberties and freedoms many have sacrificed their lives for.

SMSgt. Bob Mienscow Jr.,
USAF (Ret.)
Woodstock, Ga.

The No. 1 student in my UPT class was an Embry-Riddle University graduate with several hundred hours of flying time when he arrived at Webb Air Force Base, Texas. That guy lived and breathed flying and airplanes. He made a fine Air Force pilot. He was the right man for the job.

If we go to war, I sure hope we have a person that loves their job flying our aircraft. If you like your work, you usually excel at it. 

Let’s not let political correctness cause us to lose an air war.

E.D. Shaw III
Monroe, Calif.

The article brought to mind Gen. [William P.] McBride’s “Listening Program” at Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC)
in about 1974.
He formed a team of military and civilian representatives from the various directorates, and armed us with “lead-in questions” related to a full range of life at the AFLC bases.

We went to each base where we met with several different small groups of civilian and military personnel, presented them with subjects for discussions—and listened. The results were summarized, provided, and briefed to staff at the headquarters, who proposed solutions in appropriate areas.

Subjects included civilians rating military and military rating civilians, traffic, and parking rules on base, discrimination problems, selection for upgrade training, and housing concerns, to name a few.

We operated under the Full Force concept, where the civilian input was important. For example, today Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, has about 15,000 civilian and 1,700 military personnel. 

When studying Air Force-related problems, do not forget our 171,000 civilians.

Lt. Col. Frank L. Powers,
USAF (Ret.)
Schertz, Texas

Designation Error

We hear the term, “Total Force,” a great deal during our service careers. Our civilian population has little knowledge that when the military strength of the United States is projected in news reports it is seldom broken down to reflect the reality that more or less than half our forces are Reserve or National Guard. Since Desert Storm, those Reserve and National Guard forces have been deployed in an operation tempo that has made the difference between, USAF, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard almost seamless. 

On p. 51 of the December issue [“Revamping Homeland Defense”] the accompanying caption identifying the two F-16s as Air Force F-16s. In one way, it could be a compliment that the Air Force considers those fighter pilots and jets as equal to the regular Air Force and that we have achieved “Total Force.” As a component of the “Total Force,” I feel that recognition should be given where it is due. To anyone familiar with tail markings, the two F-16s are clearly Colorado Air National Guard F-16s. 

As a proud retired member of another marking on the tail, “Mile High Militia,” I would just like to see my current members of the Colorado Air National Guard properly recognized as members of the “Total Force.”

SMSgt. Mark Bashaw, 
Colorado ANG (Ret.)
Greeley, Colo.

The F-16 description came directly from NORTHCOM, but you are correct—we should have caught the error.—the editors