Image by Presidential Press and Information Office

Democrats and NeoCons are rushing toward nuclear war with Russia, and even President Biden seems resigned to that possibility. Not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has the nuclear clock ticked closer to midnight.  The federal government is so concerned they have purchased $290 million in drugs to combat radiation sickness.  New York city has run public service ads for what to do in the event of a nuclear war.  And former and current military leaders talk openly about winning such a war.  They seem to believe that a nuclear exchange would be limited to the Ukraine, therefore acceptable.  What they do not know is the mind of Putin and his generals.

From the first days of the war, it was clear that on paper, Russia should easily have beaten the Ukrainian army, but Western intervention has evened the odds.  Russians have lost territory over the past few months due to their own military weaknesses in combination with NATO weapons deliveries.  The US has supplied Ukraine with tens of billions in aid, irrespective of the disposition of those arms and money.  Reports have been that much of the equipment is not reaching frontline units, rather sold.

During Russia-Ukraine negotiations for a ceasefire in March 2022, where Russian’s main demand was permanent Ukrainian neutrality, failed when Western nations pushed for a military victory for Ukraine, along with regime change in Russia.  As a result, the war continued, and thousands more were killed, wounded or made homeless.

Now, more than seven months later, Western intervention has convinced the Ukrainians and NATO nations that the war is winnable.  Media and the political class continue to fan the flames of war.  Worse, they provide an endless parade of former generals to explain how Putin’s threat to use tactical nuclear weapons, while possible, would only lead to a NATO response that would destroy the Russian army.  Foreign affairs experts explain to us how Putin is a desperate, isolated madman who needs to be removed.  How can they not see that cornering the proverbial wounded animal is not a good idea.  This is the same madman whose army we threaten to destroy should he use tactical nuclear weapons, without mentioning that might possibly result in his use of thermonuclear weapons on the US and Western Europe. They forget that Saddam Hussein expected the Gulf War to be limited to Kuwait, only to find the US strategy was to eliminate “centers of gravity”.  It is a core principle of US military strategy.

Gen. Sergey Surovikin has now been named the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine.  Surovikin is a veteran of brutal wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, and most recently Syria, where he earned the nickname “General Armageddon”, for his indiscriminate destruction of Aleppo.  In Syria, Surovikin bombed civilian targets, using everything from conventional to chemical weapons.  It is clear with his appointment that Putin is willing to do anything to avoid defeat, including tactical nuclear weapons.  In his first week as commander, Suroviken authorized the launching of missile and drone attacks on Kiev. It seems Western leaders did not contemplate his actions based on months of reporting an imminent Ukrainian victory.

Western leaders have forgotten the shocking information we gathered in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.  For five decades, NATO operated under the assumption that neither side in a European war would resort to first use of nuclear weapons.  The treasure trove of documents we obtained after the collapse indicated that not only were the use of nuclear weapons possible, but they were integral to Soviet war plans to defeat the airpower advantage NATO had over the Warsaw Pact.  Their day one plans were to strike our airfields with chemical and nuclear weapons to disable our air forces, and deny the use of those bases by reinforcements.  

If the generation now leading the Russian Federation, both politically and militarily, were trained in a system that used nuclear and chemical weapons as just one tool in their arsenal, it is also reasonable to assume the war in Ukraine could result in a tactical nuclear war, then escalate to nuclear Armageddon.  Western leaders possess two of the most dangerous attributes -- naïveté and overconfidence.  The American political leadership was 'selected' not for their experience, but their gender pronoun and ethnicity.  Our military leadership has been promoted despite military failures in Afghanistan and Iraq for similar qualities as their civilian counterparts.  We stand on the precipice of a nuclear war, with ideologs at the helm.  Only time will tell, but our best hope may lie with the man they have declared a madman, and his willingness to exercise restraint.

A USAFA grad, Brent flew F-15 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. After completing his service, Brent immigrated to Israel, where he was drafted into IAF active service.

Abraham Lincoln and George B. McClellan in the general's tent at Antietam, Maryland, October 3, 1862.

At the risk of being accused of being the old man shouting, “get off my lawn”, the US military has abandoned the tradition of promotion by merit in favor of promotion by “equity”, and not the Webster’s Dictionary version.  From our earliest tradition in fighting the British to the sands of the Middle East, the weak have been weeded out and incompetent commanders fired and replaced.  Certainly, there are exceptions to this rule, but you can find limitless examples.  It is unclear exactly when the US military strayed from our tradition, but the endless wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, or the weak leadership of the Obama era, seem likely places to search.

Many of the Continental Army’s commanders came from the British Army, whose commissions were bought.  The wealthy raised their commands with private funds.  But this tradition quickly went by the wayside with the initial failures of the Continental Army in battle with the British.  Had the American army not moved to removed incompetent command, the war would have been lost.  As an example, after the fall of New York’s Fort Ticonderoga, in July 1777, Major General Philip Schuyler was relieved and accused of dereliction of duty.  Later, Horatio Gates, who was sent to command American forces in the south, was routed by the British at the Battle of Camden in South Carolina, and he too was relieved.  These were but a few examples.

The tradition continued in the Civil War.  There are numerous examples of poor leadership, particularly at the beginning of the war, but the worst of all was General George McClellan, from whom Lincoln and the Union expected great things. McClellan was a superb organizer, a West Point-trained engineer who did much to build the Union army almost from scratch. But he was overly cautious by nature. Lincoln's pleaded for aggressive action, but McClellan convinced himself that the Confederate armies outnumbered him despite superior resources in the North.

World War I was no different.  US commanders were untested and entered the war against forces that had vast experience.  Pershing relieved at least six division commanders and two corps commanders during World War I.  This was not limited to senior commanders; he removed around 1,400 more junior commanders from combat positions.

Pershing’s understudy, General George C Marshall, helped prepare the US military for World War II.  He eliminated deadwood in the officer corps from top to bottom.  Marshall’s forced in to retirement or discharged 31 colonels, 117 lieutenant colonels, 31 majors, and 16 captains from the active-duty force in the summer and fall of 1941. In addition, some 269 National Guard and Army Reserve officers were let go. Marshall estimated that, as chief of staff, he forced out at least 600 officers before the United States entered World War II.

American involvement in World War II began in infamy with the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The commanding officer of Pearl was an imminently qualified naval officer, but Admiral Husband E Kimmel was fired ten days after the attack.  This disaster happened under his command, and he was held accountable.  

One of America’s most successful generals in World War II was General Douglas MacArthur.  He commanded forces in Korea, and led the infamous victory at Inchon, but when he failed to obey President Truman’s commands and defied him in public, he was unceremoniously fired.  The primacy of civilian control over the military was established in the most public way possible, something we would see eroded during the Trump Administration.

While Vietnam reversed the tradition of promoting competent leaders, at least at the highest levels of the military, Operation Desert Storm announced the success of the professional army and warrior class.  Great leaders like General (Ret) Norman Schwarzkopf, then Commander US CENTCOM, and General (Ret.) Chuck Horner, then Lieutenant General and US CENTCOM Air Commander, brilliantly commanded US and allied forces to a sweeping victory.  The victory seemed to validate the idea of a professional army that erased the memory of our failures in Vietnam.  

Unfortunately, subsequent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, the endless wars, have exposed the weakness of a professional standing army.  Our Founding Fathers were fearful of a standing army, and in every conflict from the Revolutionary War to Vietnam, we had to rebuild and conscript citizens into the army.  With more complex weapons, this became a serious drawback which resulted in the decision to transition to a volunteer, professional army.  With a standing army at its disposal, Democrat war hawks and Neocons have been able to wage endless wars without having to answer to the American public, they volunteered after all.  These endless wars repeated the same politicization of senior military leadership.  Those senior officers were promoted to leadership positions, more often on their political stance than competence. 

President Obama replaced competent military leaders with men like General (Ret) Lloyd Austin who reflected the president’s political ideology.  General Austin oversaw the withdrawal of US and allied forces in 2011 that led to the rise of ISIS.  The president infamously referred to ISIS as a “jayvee team”.  Thousands would suffer under their cruel regime and thousands more would die.  Another political officer, General Mark Milley, would rise in rank.  The later was promoted by President Trump, who could later come to regret his decision, and the former would become Secretary of Defense, under President Biden.  The combination of those two would lead to the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, the loss of 13 US Marines and soldiers, and like Iraq withdrawal, the creation of a safe haven for terrorists.

Maybe more critically than the loss in Afghanistan, General Mark Milley directly defied the lawful orders of the Commander in Chief during the fateful last days of the Trump Administration.  He went so far as to contact Communist Chinese leaders to “assure them” he would not obey any orders from President Trump to launch nuclear weapons.  The damage this has caused to the idea of civilian control, established in the Constitution, and reaffirmed by President Truman, is untold.  

Should this control not be reestablished by future administrations, we could face an army that is willing to act in contravention to lawful commands, or worse, against the American people.  President Biden, and the Democrat controlled Congress, seem willing to use National Guard forces to forcibly protect their regime, as evidenced by their response to the events of January 6th.  Washington DC was effectively under martial law.  

The next generation of officers from the military academies are being taught that diversity, equity, and inclusion are more important than competence.  Those rising in rank are being promoted using those same metrics.  Senior leaders are commanding their subordinates to live by those principles.  Before long, the entire military will be infected with this ideology.  Time is running short to reverse these destructive policies and return to the tradition of promotion through competence.  Our next conflict will expose these critical mistakes and lead to loss of life and potentially the loss of our independence.  Our enemies could not care less about social justice.  We need warriors and competent leadership or face defeat.

A USAFA grad, Brent flew F-15 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. After completing his service, Brent immigrated to Israel, where he was drafted into IAF active service.

Once upon a time, the American fighting man was revered and respected.  Desert Storm validated the professional military and the effectiveness of our military forces.  Our military was built on technical excellence and promotion of the most fit for duty.  In my own experience as an F-15 pilot, I saw how this played out in one of America’s premier fighter units.  From afar, I have watched this system be destroyed from within.

One of the stories from World War II that sticks with me is when General Patton slapped the soldier for cowardice.  He did not do so in malice, but to set a standard.  Patton was fired for the incident, yet the message was one that from top to bottom, American fighting men had to be warriors.  

The Air Force Academy was built around that warrior spirit.  Those in the first classes saw Greatest Generation in their youth and just missed the Korean War as teens.  They served in the very beginning of the Cold War and everyone understood the importance of their service.  They and the classes they commanded at the Academy were the first to fight in Vietnam.  Classes in the late 60s and early 70s graduated, attended pilot training, and went off to combat.  In the early 80s, President Reagan gave graduates a new sense of patriotism.  This was my generation.

The Class of 1986 graduated just short of 1000 new officers.  We were not “recognized” until graduation week.  This is the period where freshmen, doolies, were required to walk everywhere at attention, be prepared for upperclassmen questions, like days to graduation or Schofield’s quote, and drop for pushups for “gazing” at upperclassmen.  We endured a Hell Week that sent hundreds of our classmates to the hospital.  Some might have called this hazing, but it was a right of passage.  It tested our willingness to preserve to achieve a goal.  I was a terrible cadet and tried to quit twice in my freshman year.  But for my officer commander, “Captain America”, a West Point grad we all feared, I would have.  In the end this whole experience equipped me for combat and adversity in civilian life.

As an F-15 pilot, I flew over 420 hours in Desert Shield/Desert Storm.  My superior training, and fortitude afforded me by the difficult Academy experience, allow me to function in combat at the highest levels.  We flew missions over Iraq from Day 1, encountering surface-to-air threats, in addition to Iraqi MiG-29s.  Later we dragged a KC-10 into southern Iraq, so that our 4-ship could chase down a high value asset being escorted by 8 MiG-29s.  Ironically, the most terrifying night was refueling amid thunderstorms, resulting in vertigo.  It took every ounce of my willpower to convince my subconscious that I was flying right side up.  All this I attribute to my days at the Academy.

My squadron did not tolerate pilots, who despite technical competence, yet lacked the warrior spirit.  One of my early F-15 instructors, Mongo, told us we should kill something every day, even a fly, to hone our killer instincts.  Many reading this will think this sounds insane.  It is the very essence of the warrior spirit that all combat unit members will understand.  Every unit has their traditions.  Those incapable of internalizing the warrior ethos are moved on.

Fast forward 30 years to 2016.  I returned to the Academy for a reunion.  I had for years told my wife about stories of walking the strips on the terrazzo and interrogations by upperclassmen at Mitchell Hall. Almost immediately, I sense something was off.  It was only September, and I didn’t see any doolies marching along at attention.  Then we went to Mitch’s and freshmen were getting the food first, rather than the upperclassmen.  We were told they need to make sure the doolies were getting proper nutrition.  Then they started talking amongst themselves.  My wife did not believe my stories any longer.  Later we were told by the Superintendent, LTG Michele Johnson, that kids today did not have the same sense of honor and we now had to be mindful of their feelings.  My classmate, Todd Wood stood up and asked something to the effect “what do our enemies care about their feelings”.  

It had all begun to go wrong with the previous Superintendent, LTG Mike Gould, who declared that diversity was critical to unit cohesion.  Since when do your squadronmates or foxhole buddy care about diversity?  What about his ability?

At the time, I had hoped this was an aberration, and with the election of a president who cared about America, we would see a reversal of course.  Despite his best attempts, President Trump was resisted by those who had been promoted by President Obama at every turn.  And once Trump was out of office, the new President Biden began to unwind the limited progress that President Trump had made.  

Those leaders in the new diversity first culture have been tested in combat and found wanting.  From operational mishaps to the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, these “leaders” have failed.  There are good men and women serving today, but new leaders from the military academies and those in senior leadership are ill prepared.  They are more worried about gender pronouns than the enemy at our doorstep, Communist China.

A USAFA grad, Brent flew F-15 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. After completing his service, Brent immigrated to Israel, where he was drafted into IAF active service.

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