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


April 29, 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.

Protect the Sats

I read Maj. Gen. Lawrence Stutzriem’s article “Modernizing Satellite Communication” [December 2021, p. 43] with great interest. I can’t disagree with his recommendations to eventually ensure our communications remain available even in the face of our adversaries increasing threats. But I can’t believe our responses to these threats would be confined to a defensive posture: no deterrence and no offense.  

A confirmed attack on our space assets should be considered an attack on this nation and the attacker should suffer the consequences. For example, a kinetic attack on one of our satellites should bring the immediate destruction of the launch infrastructure that enabled the attack. A nonnuclear ICBM would be all that would be needed to destroy what is an extremely soft target in about 30 minutes, and there is probably only one site to target.  

Col. Dennis Beebe,
USAF (Ret.)
Solvang, Calif.

Boomer Goes the Dynamite

In the March issue of Air Force Magazine are two articles concerning the location of the boom operator position behind the cockpit rather than the aft bottom of the fuselage [“World: GAO to Air Force: Think Twice Before Owning KC-46 Tanker Fix,” p. 26, and “Letters: Tanker Tanking,” p. 4]. I agree with both. My first operational assignment was as a copilot in the KC-97 at Smoky Hill Air Force Base in Salina, Kan., in 1953. The KC-97 was the first boom tanker in the Air Force. It was a modified Boeing Stratocruiser powered by four propeller engines.

This was the beginning of the jet era and the KC-97 was replaced by the KC-135. It is still in the inventory and my grandson pilots them at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

At the time, 1951-1954, my father, Gen. Orval R. Cook, was deputy chief of staff, material. Boeing had asked for funds to manufacture a jet tanker. He told them to manufacture a commercial liner that could be modified. The result was the KC-135.

The solution to the boom operators position is aft bottom of the fuselage where he has eyes on the receiver. Too much time and money has been wasted. The KC-135 is old and a maintenance nightmare.

Peyton Cook
Southern Pines, N.C.

Real Life is Hard

I was both amused and annoyed by the descriptions of the hackers’ gripes detailed in the Hack-A-Sat feature of the January/February issue [p. 28]. The contestants whined about “rules changing on the fly and poor communications” during the competition. Given that the purpose of the event is “to find vulnerabilities in earthbound satellite hardware,” don’t these “deficiencies” actually make the test more representative of the real world and, therefore, of greater potential value to the Space Force sponsors? Events in real-time don’t always play nice. It seems that there could be value added (even though unintended) to this competition by learning how to overcome and prevail despite the vagaries of institutional shortcomings and the vote the other side gets.

Of course, every opportunity should be taken to ensure that future competitions are optimally productive, but the useful role of uncertainties in the event should not be ignored and should be incorporated, when appropriate. Ultimately, the real metric should be the potential value to the Space Force’s decision-making process, not whether the contestants’ egos were appreciatively coddled.  Unfortunately, the article only describes the validity of the decisions about who won prizes.  Nothing is said about the actual benefits that may have been realized by the Space Force, which is unfortunate.

Hank Caruso
California, Md. 

Facing Russia

If DOD is being cowed by Russia’s threat to use nuclear weapons, then our own nuclear weapons are of no practical use: We will continue to back down to whomever threatens the first use of nuclear weapons just to avoid any use of such weapons [“World: Russia Tests NATO Resolve Over Ukraine,” March, p. 22]. We will be blackmailed into backing down worldwide by this threat (no matter how credible).  

If, however, the military advice being given to President Joe Biden is not being accepted (and this would be the second crisis in which that would appear to be the case), it is the President’s responsibility to explain to us why, ask for resignations, and to demand better (or different) military advisers.  

In the not-too-distant past, honorable military advisers whose advice was consistently ignored on such important issues would feel honor-bound to submit their resignations. This accomplishes two goals:  The public knows whose advice is being ignored and the President is free to get (hopefully) better military advice from a new group of advisors.  

As of now, we’ve had no resignations, so we must assume that our DOD, led by the SECDEF, is so risk-averse to using all available military options that they are compromised in the performance of their duties and should be replaced.  

I spent over seven and a half years in NATO and I can guarantee that they are world-class ditherers.  Without American leadership, which is currently nonexistent, NATO will not act. Beyond Polish MiG-29s, we should already have accomplished the following:  

1. Stand-up NATO nuclear forces and put a portion of them on five-minute/cockpit alert.  (They are not now standing nuclear alert.)  

2. Move NATO ground and air forces forward into Poland, Slovakia, Rumania, and the Baltic States.  (NATO forces far outnumber Russia’s.)  

3. Share real-time targeting of Russian forces with Ukraine.  

4. Commence drone/air strikes upon all Russian forces within Ukraine, followed by a demand for all Russian forces to return to Russian territory outside of Ukraine.  

Russia has exposed its military as a brutish, unprofessional hoard which does not attempt to abide by the laws of armed conflict to which it has agreed.  It does not deserve any benefit of doubt as to its further intentions and appeasement doesn’t work. By threatening NATO with nuclear blackmail (as it already has), Russia has exposed its real intent and that is simply to subjugate or neuter the entire continent, ridding it of U.S. influence while eliminating NATO. 

By not standing up to Russia, NATO and DOD may already have ensured that when confrontation is no longer avoidable, when we have backed up as much as we can back up, it will necessarily be much bloodier and perhaps involve weapons of mass destruction. The time to act is rapidly passing us by and our SECDEF seems unable to change this all-too-familiar European outcome from, once again, coming about.  

Lt. Col. Marshall Miller,
USAF (Ret.)
Piedmont, S.D.

Questions Unasked

The editorial on “Truth and Consequences” by Tobias Naegele in the March 2022 issue [p.2] was thought-provoking on how to evaluate news stories in general. He mentioned a “foundation of disconnected truths” that contributed to a “false story”—the plane really did crash; the military really does require COVID-19 vaccination; myocarditis is a real, if rare, adverse effect of mRNA vaccines. But what concerned me were the questions not asked: was the F-35C pilot recently vaccinated and if so when, relative to the incident; did the “black box” really record the pilot’s complaints of chest pains which he attributed to the vaccine; have there been other complaints, or surveys, of fighter pilots regarding symptoms and signs post vaccination, and if so when and under what conditions, etc.? 

As a senior flight surgeon I recognized that the physiological stresses of flight, particularly aboard fighters vs. cargo aircraft for example, often impaired, or could have impaired, the physiological functioning and health of the crew member; this is why we would ground aircrew for illnesses and complaints that would minimally interfere—if at all—with health and function at a desk job. I should hope that the Surgeons General are investigating, with confidential surveys and other tools, the effects of the COVID-19 vaccines on aviators and keeping these data. I understand, from personal experience, that sometimes line commanders do not appreciate health and medical findings and analyses that they perceive as interfering with operational readiness. 

However, the issue of the combination of mRNA vaccinations with the unique stresses of flight, and the effects on short-and long-term aviator health and functioning, needs to be addressed. It is conceivable, though not at this point proven, that combining high loads of physical stress with a vaccine that has been shown to cause myocarditis/pericarditis on rare occasions in the civilian population, especially young males, can possibly exacerbate these adverse health effects. Might this be why we’ve recently had several soccer (football) players who’ve suffered heart attacks despite being in top physical condition?

Col. Glen I. Reeves,
USAF (Ret.)
Sun City, Ariz.

More Discomfort

I was disappointed by a number of the letters in the March issue, but not surprised [“Letters: Definitely Uncomfortable,” p. 4].  Militaries, by their nature, are authoritarian and many of its members tend to be uncomfortable with and resistant to change. The same resistance to change also applies to societies.  We saw resistance to President [Harry S.] Truman’s order to take down racial barriers in our armed forces and sadly that resistance has continued not only in the armed forces but also across much of our society, despite laws regarding civil rights.  

There has been similar resistance to the changes involved in opening up our society, and our armed forces to women, and now we are seeing resistance to the relaxation of rules regarding gender identities.  To some extent this opposition to increased racial and gender diversity is because of the threat it poses to those who have profited by the lack of diversity.  And while the letter writers may be correct regarding some short-term loss in capabilities when barriers to individuals created by discrimination are removed, they are seriously wrong in the long term because changes that embrace diversity make our armed forces, our society, and our economy stronger and far more capable.  

Anyone who has doubts about the value of increased diversity need only look at what is happening in Russia and other authoritarian nations and compare the strength of their armed forces, societies, and economies to that of the United States.

Lt. Col. Price T. Bingham, 
USAF (Ret.)
Melbourne, Fla.


To help keep myself informed of what’s current in the joint force, I subscribe to all of the service’s professional journals as well as the various associations such as this magazine, AUSA, and the Navy’s Proceedings. It’s more than disappointing to read the persistent slant in this publication not just toward certain political agendas (which isn’t altogether surprising considering the lobbying nature of AFA), but the constant derision of other services, in particular the U.S. Army. 

No one service alone can hope to successfully defeat any of our nation’s adversaries, and yet readers of Air Force Magazine are fed a steady diet of how “decisive” the USAF is and how money needs to be moved now(!) from the U.S. Army’s budget to USAF. Where is the introspection that I see in the other service’s publications?    

There is certainly enough blame to go around, mostly internal to USAF, about the state of the current force. Lobby and complain all you want about the budget, but once it’s been set, deal with the realities. Look at ways to increase the capabilities and scope of your current equipment and personnel. Discuss ways to reduce costs such as upgrading certain parts of the fleet instead of new purchases or cut the number of personnel (broaden the skill set of aircraft maintenance personnel instead of being so incredibly specialized). 

Open your eyes and see how the other services are doing things now that can actually help USAF’s mission effectiveness and survivability. In short, be part of the team.

CW4 Charles Boehler,
Albuquerque, N.M.


  • Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) Alumni Association Reunion, May 18-22, 2022, at The Radisson Resort at the Port in Melbourne, Fla. Contacts: Sean Ryan, Chair AFTAC ( (321-591-9053) or Phil Godfrey, Vice Chair ( (321-446-8775) (
  • Laredo AFB, UPT Class 74-02, (50th reunion) United Snakes of Laredo. Sept. 18-20 or Sept. 25-27, 2022, in Las Vegas. Contact: Fred Harsany ( or Facebook: Class 74-02 Laredo (Group).
  • Unit reunion notices should be sent three months ahead of the event to, or mail notices to “Unit Reunions,” Air Force Magazine, 1501 Langston Blvd, Arlington, VA 22209-1198. Please designate the unit holding the reunion, time, location, and a contact for more information. We reserve the right to condense notices.