It’s Time to Rethink How America Postures Its Nuclear Capabilities

Map showing the areas of the six Minuteman Missile wings on the central and northern Great Plains. The areas in black denote deactivated missile wings, and the red ones denote active missile wings.
National Park Service

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
Albert Einstein

Growing up in Montana during the Cold War, I often found myself under a school desk as we went through frequent nuclear fallout drills. Montana is a state known as being a part of the “nuclear sponge,” where it is universally known that Russia targets our nuclear missile facilities, and we would absorb any large-scale nuclear exchange. They have not moved since they were built and that was eighty years ago. Even today Montanans who still know this threat exists are less inclined to hide under a desk and more likely to sit on the front porch with their favorite drink and watch the end of the world. We recognize that even if we were to live through a nuclear strike the world that followed such a holocaust is probably not worth trying to live in. We have the same attitude towards Yellowstone Park blowing up.

Montana in the 1960s was not densely populated, and this was part of the appeal to building the silos here. The same is true for the other locations on the map you see above. In the 1960s Montana’s population was estimated at 680,000 people. Today it is nearly 1.13 million. Given the exodus of people fleeing states like California, Oregon, and Washington, our population is expected to increase. Yet we remain a part of the “nuclear triad” where America maintains land, sea, and air capabilities. The land-based options were viewed as necessary when it was thought the Russians (Soviet Union) were winning the balance of power, even though they were not.

It is time to think differently concerning the positioning and deployment of America’s’ nuclear arsenal. I do not think it is wise or necessary to keep missiles in fixed locations that are so easy to target and increasingly surrounded by people moving into the affected states. We need to stop thinking of these areas as nuclear sponges, perpetually 30 minutes away from decimation, and as acceptable losses. We should develop new strategies that allow for rapid response and deterrence equally as effective as land-based systems. In fact, there should be no land-based systems anymore.

Nuclear silos are typically 3.5-17.5 miles away from a launch facility and 3.5-8.5 miles apart from each other. In Montana, there are one-hundred missiles. They were installed in the 1960s and last updated in the 1970s. The technology inside the facilities has improved, but the missiles themselves need some work. The Air Force has a $400 billion plan to upgrade both the missiles and the facilities. I think we can make better use of that kind of money and acreage.

America needs to rely solely on airborne and sea-launched missile systems. There are advantages to making this move.

Americans are not at risk of a direct nuclear strike in the core of our homeland as adversaries would seek first to destroy our ability to respond.

We could sell the silos and the land around them to citizens and reduce the cost to the taxpayer.

Mobile nuclear launch systems in the air and under the sea are much harder to target than fixed facilities.

Military risk is distributed by spreading missiles across multiple launch platforms rather than condensing missiles in three geographic areas.

There is a reduced risk to the population by eliminating the need to move nuclear systems over land.

As always, there are disadvantages at the outset of any plan like this. Some are fiscal and some are time constraints since this plan would require building more submarines and potentially airplanes. I do not see how maintaining the status quo out of fear of change is a good reason not to make those changes. We live in a highly connected world, with better technology and communications systems. Additionally, existing systems with a destructive potential far beyond what is necessary means we should adjust how we do business.1

Much has changed since the 1960s; it is time to change how we posture our nuclear forces, too. The triad would be better as a duet.

Lt Col (ret), US Army, Darin Gaub is a Co-founder of Restore Liberty, an international military strategist, foreign policy analyst, executive leadership coach, ordained teacher, and serves on the boards of multiple volunteer national and state level organizations. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, or its components.

Image by spDuchamp 

Ninety-nine red balloons

Floating in the summer sky

Panic bells, it's red alert!

There's something here from somewhere else!

The war machine springs to life

Opens up one eager eye

Focusing it on the sky

When ninety-nine red balloons go by

                                                    German Band: Nena, “99 Luftballoons”

By now most people in America know that China launched a “red” balloon and successfully navigated it across America and over some of our most sensitive installations. I am a Montanan living just south of Great Falls and the ballistic missile fields that are overseen from that location. To say the least, I was concerned, and many fellow Montanans watched the news or the skies waiting for an explosion. Either our Department of Defense would defend our airspace and shoot it down in a blaze of glory, or maybe there was something explosive on the balloon that would also be triggered. Neither happened, but I was reminded of growing up in Belgrade, Montana in the 70s and 80s, ducking under my desk in school wondering even then how thin walls and a classroom desk would save us from something like a nuclear blast.

The American people are rightfully upset that this single balloon crossed our country unhindered. We knew where it was from, China even admitted to it and called it a weather balloon. They were right that it was taking the temperature of a nation. We looked to the sky and knew there was something here from somewhere else, it was spying on us, and our administration simply watched. Thank you to Larry Mayer of Billings, Montana for taking a picture of the balloon, if he had not we may never have known. 

Angered and alarmed, Americans turned out in large numbers on television, radio, and podcasts to call out the administration for its lack of action against a threat to our nation. I was one of those Americans. It is time to admit though that the balloons that have us looking to the sky are worth noting, but spy balloons come across our shores every day and we are not upset enough. We better get there, or we will find ourselves homeless on the land our forefathers built. These “balloons” look different but are equally and maybe more dangerous. 

1. Exchange Students – Chinese students attended colleges and universities across the country. Keeping an eye on them and spreading propaganda are an estimated 80 collegiate-level and 500 high school-level Confucius Institutes. Controlled by the Chinese Education Administration they are there to influence Americans and report on Chinese student activities. 

2. Congressional Girlfriends – Eric Swalwell is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chinese influence at all levels of government.   

3. Land and Business Ownership – throw a rock and you are likely to find land or a business owned by the Chinese. From several businesses in West Yellowstone, Montana to land purchases in multiple states like Arkansas and Mississippi, the Chinese either publicly own a lot of America or own it through proxies. 

4. Social Media/TikTok and Tech – our technology is infected with the cancers of spyware, malware, and many other means of collecting personal data. TikTok is banned in a number of state governments across the nation now, but America’s desire for followers, clicks, and likes is an addiction the Chinese are happy to feed. 

5. Trade Manipulation – it is no mystery that the Chinese have used our desire for things against us. We buy what they make, they take our money and buy up as much of the world as they can. Free Trade should be free, instead, it has come at the price of selling our independence overseas. 

6. Intellectual Property Theft – anything we can make the Chinese can copy and make cheaper. From movies to microchips, airplanes to asthma medication, it is copied and sold. In my younger days, I bought a lightweight jacket in South Korea and was asked which logo I wanted embroidered on it. This is what China does on a global scale. They steal our intellectual property. 

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7. University Grants – money comes with strings attached. When China is the source of money going to American colleges and universities we should expect there to be many strings. Professors and teachers who dare teach the U.S. Constitution accurately do not last long. 

8. Immigration/Invasion – China considers itself at war with America and has for a long time. The open Southern land border, the open and seemingly unguarded skies to the north, and barely controlled waters around America are the invasion routes. No Trojan Horse required China, just walk, float, or sail on in. 

9. Globalist Organizational Control – the United Nations, World Economic Forum, and many other global organizations have Chinese Communist Party members in key positions. They do not do this for philanthropic reasons. 

The lyrics of the 99 Red Balloons song fit America over the last two weeks, we focused on the sky, except the war machine did not spring to life. It stayed in the basement instead. If we as a nation keep allowing all the other “trial balloons” to cross our shores we may live out another part of the song:

Ninety-nine dreams I have had

In every one, a red balloon

It's all over and I'm standin' pretty

In this dust that was a city

If I could find a souvenir

Just to prove the world was here

If we do not start thinking like the Chinese and ask ourselves why they are doing the things they are, we will be looking for souvenirs of America in the “ashes” of what we once called home. 

And the Constitution

The following is a testimony written in support of House Bill 527 currently in the Montana State Legislature. There are many arguments used to distract people from the core purpose of this “Defend the Guard” bill, and my testimony addresses each of those arguments in sufficient detail. I wrote this with the sole intention of distributing it to the committee members as a means to persuade and educate and was then encouraged to write an article on this topic. After some time in thought and seeking the counsel of others, the conclusion was that the testimony stands on its own and should be published as is. 

The central point is:

The U.S. Congress has the sole authority to declare war. It cannot be delegated, and Governors have the responsibility to resist activation of the National Guard for overseas combat roles if Congress unconstitutionally delegates its sole authority to declare war to the President.

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Madam Chair, and members of the House State Administration Committee. My name is Darin Gaub. I stand in support of this bill as an individual, a 7-deployment combat veteran, a 28-year-in-service retired senior Army officer, Co-founder of Restore Liberty (veteran founded), the founder of the Global Veterans Coalition, and also on behalf of Montanans for Limited Government. I would like to thank the sponsor and twenty-five co-sponsors for bringing this bill.  

I would like to start by discussing my military, foreign policy, and strategic experience. I hope you will be able to see that it is extensive and of great value to this discussion. 

I served in the military from the rank of Private to Lieutenant Colonel. Even as a Private, I worked at the White House, the Pentagon, and in many of the nation’s highest security areas requiring the most sensitive security clearances. After becoming an officer my primary duty was as an aviation officer flying helicopters. During my career, I served on seven overseas deployments - four in Afghanistan, one in North Africa, one in East Asia, and one in Europe. These deployments combined with my experience gained stateside allow me to speak to this bill with what I hope is enough authority to gain your respect and trust. 

Officers in the military are also “generalists” in that we will work in many areas of government that are not related to those primary duties. While dedicated to my primary aviation duties I commanded army organizations of up to 3,500 personnel. I worked within Title 32 and Title 10 requirements, and with civilians to build successful teams. My ability to build high-performing teams spoke for itself across the Army Aviation community. But my experience as a generalist is what is most applicable to this testimony. 

As a generalist, I served as a national strategic planner where I developed plans for many regions around the world, including plans for homeland security missions. I worked within the constraints and limitations defined in United States Code (U.S.C) and within many regulations and departmental policies. Those regulations and policies were produced by the Department of Defense, Department of State, and many others. Not all these efforts can be made public or published in unclassified environments, many of those efforts dealt with multi-national and multi-state security environments. My duties required me to brief national leaders, congressional representatives, and department heads across the full range of government activities. I also worked with foreign military and government leadership on four continents and across multiple countries. 

Now, as a retired officer, I volunteer as an executive coach, foreign policy advisor, and military strategy advisor. I also co-founded a nationwide non-profit where we instruct people of all ages about our constitutional form of governance, with a focus on bringing our nation back to higher constitutional principles as the supreme law of the land. I travel the country to speak to numerous groups and routinely appear on national media outlets. I also founded the Global Veterans Coalition and run this organization across eight countries. Finally, I work as a peer-to-peer counselor with veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and serve alongside of numerous veteran and liberty-focused organizations. Our collective goal is to return to the constitution and Restore Liberty. 

What is the “Defend the Guard Act?”

This act is a necessary step to realign the Government of Montana and the Federal Government back to the U.S. Constitution. It is state-level legislation to prohibit the overseas deployment of the state’s National Guard units without a  congressional declaration of war. 

What does it do?

More specifically the act says the Department of Defense serving as the executive agent for the federal government under the President of the United States must abide by the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that only the U.S. Congress can declare war pursuant to Article I, Section 8. 

“To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water”

Why is it Needed?

The U.S. Constitution as the supreme law of the land vests the power to declare war exclusively in the US Congress. This clear letter of the law has been bypassed or ignored for years. Congress has repeatedly abdicated its duty by unconstitutionally delegating its authority to the executive branch. This violates the separation of powers. We need to return to the design of the US Constitution. If we are willing to ignore the letter of the law on the most crucial decision a nation makes, then what else will we ignore? 

To put it simply, Congress Declares war and the President executes the war as Commander in Chief (Art II, Section 2). The two functions were never meant to be delegated in either direction.  The President cannot declare and execute the war on their own. That’s something you see in dictatorships. This is a Constitutional Republic, and those decisions are made by the people through representatives. The law is clear on this, we all must accept the risk of war and stand behind that effort. Today’s expeditionary military mindset looks more like the time of the Roman Empire, where those in uniform served at the whim of the emperor, not at the will of the people. 

What is its Foundation?

The Constitution of the United States of America is the foundation for this resolution. Again, Article I, Section 8 does not leave any wiggle room. Congress and Congress alone has this power, it cannot be delegated. The reason is that our Founders were wise enough to know that Congress is the body of government closest and therefore most responsive to the people. 

The US Constitution, therefore, does the following:

a. Requires Congress to declare war.

b. Requires the President (Commander in Chief) to prosecute the war. 

c. Requires by logical extension that through the laws of this union that the National Guard only be deployed to overseas combat by approval of Congress and no other. 

The other critical component of the foundation of this argument is the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution. It is the duty of the states to interpose between the states and the federal government when the federal government takes part in unconstitutional actions. To violate Article I, Section 8 of the constitution is an unconstitutional action. 

Defining the Guard/Militia

In the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, the militia is also addressed - specifically in Clauses 15 and 16. These same clauses are the basis for the formation of the National Guard. The Army National Guard even emphasizes this fact in their charter.

“The Army National Guard's charter is the Constitution of the United States. Article I, Section 8

of the U.S. Constitution contains a series of ‘militia clauses,’ vesting distinct authority and

responsibilities in the federal government and the state governments.” 

Clause 15 Delegates to the Congress the power for the calling forth of the militia (National Guard) in three situations:

a. to execute the laws of the union,

b. to suppress insurrections, and 

c. to repel invasions.

The militia was formerly known as “the whole people, except a few public officers.” This was further understood as all able-bodied males between 16 and 45 and up to 55 years of age. The Dick Act of 1903 then limited the scope and scale of this definition to control the extent to which militias could be called into Federal Service. 

Therefore, the militia is the National Guard and is governed by Clauses 15 and 16 as it pertains to the role of the US Congress and the states. 

What about Authorizations for the Use of Military Force (AUMFs)?

The United States has not declared war since World War II. Yet we spend decades at war anyway. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Libya, the Philippines, and other locations around the world have seen Americans in conflicts Congress never truly authorized. Even post-9/11, no war was declared. Presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump have all leveraged these authorizations. 

The simple answer is the AUMF subverts the constitutional process by having congress delegate powers to the President it is not allowed to delegate. 

What about H.J.Res.542 – [The] War Powers Resolution?

The War Powers Resolution of 1973 is itself not constitutional. Here’s the timeframe:

a. The President must inform Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to action.

b. Forces are prohibited from remaining in combat for more than 60 days without congressional approval. 

c. There is a 30-day withdrawal period if Congress does not authorize those forces to remain deployed. 

d. This means forces can remain in combat for up to 92 days without congressional approval. 

The resolution was intended to give the President the ability to respond rapidly to situations that might be of concern to the United States’ national security. In fact, it gave the President the power to embroil America in conflicts to the point where we would be a nation at war and only have the choice to win or lose considering how much can happen in 92 days. 

Engaging in an armed conflict based on the discretion of only the President is not how America is supposed to work. To call the National Guard into such a conflict based on the War Powers Resolution is to build a decision on the sand. We did not authorize the three branches of government to have the power to delegate their sole responsibilities to other branches of government. This resolution only highlighted the violations of the separation of powers. 

The Threats Used Against this Constitutionally Based Bill. 

a. Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)

There might be threats from the Pentagon to close bases in Montana if we follow through. This is called Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). The real threat they are trying to leverage is the economic impact on locations that have federal military bases. Having been through this process more than once, I can guarantee it is not as easy as a phone call. It is a large movement of many agencies of government and Congress. Not only are there many people involved in these decisions that can take years, but the cost and logistics of a base closure also make the threat nearly an empty one. For Montana specifically, Malmstrom AFB is a significant strategic base with responsibilities that would be near impossible to move. 

Montana has an opportunity to lead and could show other states that the clear direction of the constitution matters. In doing so other states might follow the same path and send a message that will be clearly understood. We should not bow to bullying and call their bluff instead. 

b. National Security is At Risk

It is not. In fact, Congress over the last few years rarely showed up for in-person votes and used modern technology to work and vote remotely. If we need to go to war overseas immediately, then Congress can vote immediately too. 

This resolution means that the National Guard can be activated when Congress does its job. If the US is invaded then the National Guard will respond, as in this bill we are only focused on overseas combat deployments. 

The greater risk to our nation’s security is to continue to allow Congress to “pass the buck” and ignore the constitution. 

c. The Courts 

The Supreme Court has not settled this, and as the weakest of the three branches of government, it can render an opinion only. However, what is case law now is that the federal government can activate the National Guard for overseas training but does not address activating the National Guard for combat. See Perpich v. The Department of Defense

Even if Congress did try to create legislation to add that the federal government can activate the National Guard for overseas combat, the Governors would have to block that activation until Congress made a formal declaration of war. Again, technology can make this a fast process and if governors saw the declaration as more likely than not they are free to issue warning orders to the state’s National Guard units to prepare them for mobilization.

d. Funding and Equipment Restrictions or Removal, To Include Pay and Benefits removal for those still serving, and the retired

Much like the threats to close bases, this threat is not convincing or likely to realize. 

More importantly, the constant threat of removing funds is driving bad decisions and policies across America. Funds come with strings attached. The Montana legislature should not too quickly toss aside the foundational tenets of the US Constitution because of threats concerning money or equipment. 

Again, call their bluff and do not be bullied, threatened, or coerced. 

e. Does not conform with the US Constitution

You will likely hear that this bill does not conform to the U.S. Constitution, this is a false statement. The Supremacy Clause does not mean that the federal government is supreme in all things. It means that laws that are passed “in pursuance of” and abiding by the constitution are supreme. House Bill 527 is before this committee specifically because the federal executive authority is operating outside of constitutional limits and Congress continues to allow this despite the clear reading of the highest law. 

You may also hear that this bill would raise issues of constitutional conformity issues. Yes, it will. This bill is intended to place government back into the bounds of constitutional authority, therefore the question of conformity to the constitution is the whole point. 

The Higher Principles

The US Constitution is the highest legal authority in the land. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution is clear. We the people are the enforcers of the contract that is the U.S. Constitution. We as principal agents delegate power, and those who delegate power can remove that power. The government is our agent and cannot operate against our contract, or further delegate the powers we’ve limited them to in the first place. Montana can and should lead in this effort. I call on the legislature and the Governor to instead rise in courage and let the constitution be enforced as it is the highest law of the land. This is what it looks like to exercise the 10th Amendment, Montana should lead this effort, not follow.  

“The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

The Oath of Office 

To all who have worn the uniform and still do, you recited the Oath of Office, I remind us all of that oath. 

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

So help me God.

We are sworn to support and defend the constitution, not Congress, not the President – only the constitution. When we took that oath we were never allowed to ask if doing so would be easy. The legislature should know that those who take this oath back this house bill as it is part of us holding to our oath and not being swayed by bribery, or coercion.  

Key Quotes

“The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, & most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature.” James Madison

“In the general distribution of powers, we find that of declaring war expressly vested in the congress, where every other legislative power is declared to be vested; and without any other qualification than what is common to every other legislative act. The constitutional idea of this power would seem then clearly to be, that it is of a legislative and not an executive nature …Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded. They are barred from the latter functions by a great principle in free government, analogous to that which separates the sword from the purse, or the power of executing from the power of enacting laws.” James Madison

"The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.1 The governor of New York, on the other hand, is by the constitution of the State vested only with the command of its militia and navy." Alexander Hamilton

The states “have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties appertaining to them. James Madison

“The executive has no right, in any case to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.” James Madison
















America is Sending Our Adversaries Another Bad Message, They Heard It

By now most people know that my home state of Montana was all over the news as Chinese surveillance balloons moved overhead. As a good Montanan my first response, along with many of my fellow Big Sky country friends, was to ask if it could be ranged by high-caliber hunting rifles. If our government was not going to defend our nation, then we would take it upon ourselves. 

Alas, at an estimated 60,000 feet of altitude, we could not reach it. 

As the nation became increasingly aware of this balloon’s existence, more questions were asked, and Americans had the right to answers. Instead, they were told many things, except good answers. First, our nation must thank Larry Mayer, a Billings, Montana based private pilot and sharpshooter with a lens, and no doubt a rifle too. He is the reason why a nation became aware of this balloon. He is the reason why more Americans are now aware of how our federal government refuses to take decisive action when needed.   

Here are some critical concerns our government needs to address concerning this incident. 

There is a bigger message because of this incident though. One is a message of weakness. The second is a message of trust, or the lack thereof.

MESSAGE 1. A nation ruthlessly defends its borders from clear and present dangers. This administration is showing that it will not defend America.  Not only are we invaded from the south on land, but we have also now been invaded from the air as China replicates tactics used by Japan going back to World War II.  Not in eighty years has America dealt with a threat like this. (Rebuilt Japanese World War II era balloon)

Instead, consider Gary Powers getting shot down over the Soviet Union in May of 1960 in his U-2 spy plane, or China’s knocking an American Navy EP-3 plane out of the sky in 2001. Those were times of high tensions, and these nations did what they thought was required to defend their nations. It is not a matter of whether we agree or disagree with their actions, but that they were taken and that we failed to take similar action when we needed to. 

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When a clear and present danger was upon us as a nation, our government watched. The only war that was started was in the meme wars as this incident created days of material on social media. Here are only a few examples. They are humorous but rest assured a nation watched and received a message as clear to them as it was to China. 

America surrendered and ran from Afghanistan.

America allows for a human invasion across its Southern border.

America severely degrades its readiness by sending critical supplies and systems to Ukraine. 

America attacks its own military through woke agendas and vax mandates. 

America is willing to adopt Chinese and global entity social credit scoring systems via other means.

America pursues its patriots with more energy than it does its true enemies. 

MESSAGE 2. The people do not trust the government to tell them the truth, and often wonder when we became so bad at telling a lie. The meme wars and many other comments on the news and social media make it clear that people will not trust this administration or government in general. They assume that if any agency of government is updating the American people, what is shared is likely a lie. Even if the government suddenly started telling Americans the truth, it will take a long time for trust to rebuild, if ever. 

There are plenty of actions the government needs to take that are specific to the “trial balloon” incident. They can start by proving to Americans they care about our borders be they land, sea, or air. They can also start telling us the truth, We the People can handle it. What we cannot stand are bad lies. 

Lt Col (ret), US Army, Darin Gaub is a Co-founder of Restore Liberty, an international military strategist and foreign policy analyst, an executive leadership coach, and serves on the boards of multiple volunteer national and state level organizations. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, or its components.

The Consequences of Lowering Military Recruiting Standards, from a former Commander’s Perspective

The American military in which I served for twenty-eight years continues to struggle to meet recruiting goals. I am not surprised. The Biden administration’s ongoing pursuit of ‘progressive’ (regressive) policies comes at a hefty price that cannot be ignored. The problem is so bad they are resorting to lowering recruiting standards to meet the need. This is abnormal for an American military that is not at war. The last time the military’s standards were reduced like this was at the height of the dual conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I had a front-row seat to the consequences of lowered standards, both as a commander in combat zones and as a trainer. 

Are We at War?

Again, we are not at war; or are we? I would say we are in a war, but an internal one over the future of our own country. The military is part of that war, and we should not be experimenting with readiness, but we are, to our shame. The military serves one purpose, to win our nation’s wars. It should not serve as a giant laboratory for ideological indoctrination. The price of failure is too high.

America’s military is a cultural microcosm of our society. Big city kids from Los Angeles, farm kids from the mid-west, black-brown-red-white, each with their own motivations for joining. Some join for college money, some for adventure, others to escape a previous reality, and many to fulfill a desire to serve the nation they love. The attacks on servicemembers by their own chain of command seem to be intentional and designed to reduce our readiness as a nation. This is part of the internal war. 

Who willnot join?

The kind of recruits the military needs are the same kind who have no desire to sit in a classroom and be told they are racist, sexist, misogynist, or any other kind of ‘ist. Our military needs people who are physically fit and mentally capable of combat in harsh environments. They should not be filling out paperwork identifying their pronouns. These are the kind of recruits who love this country and cannot see enlisting in this environment. I cannot blame them. 

Who will join? 

There are great people still joining the military. They keep their heads down and focus on the mission while waiting for a leadership climate more focused on readiness and excellence. They pray for something new in 2024. This also means there are many joining who are willing to take part in the indoctrination and might even embrace it. Those who embrace the woke culture are typically not your warfighters. This causes problems for commanders who are tasked with training their people for combat and building the best team they can in a political environment focused on pronouns, diversity, equity, inclusion, and the apparent targeting of patriotic people for removal. 

How Does Lowering Recruiting Standards Impact Readiness?

1.  Every time standards are lowered recruits who otherwise could not join flood the recruiting centers, fill basic training slots, then move out to active, reserve, or national guard units. Here they often cause more problems because the issues they had prior to enlistment are magnified in the high-paced and stressful military environment. 

2. Commanders tasked with building combat-ready teams spend much of their time dealing with those problems. They spend a lot less time on training and readiness as a result. 

3. The recruits who have the problems get waivers to join because those tasked with meeting recruiting numbers are only responsible for signing them to a contract and rarely deal with that same recruit a year later. In recruiting command, the goal is quantity over quality. 

4. Commanders who would rather have eighty percent of their units filled with high-quality servicemembers are forced into accepting new recruits with problems. Their units look like they are one hundred percent filled on paper, but the reality is commanders are forced to spend eighty percent of their time on the twenty percent with the greatest number of problems. This is time-consuming, and the eighty percent see the command focused on the biggest problems, not the biggest contributors. The same twenty percent usually end up being removed from service for a variety of reasons and it can take a long time. All these factors kill the morale of the unit and cause the quality to leave rather than re-enlist. In the worst case, something I have personally experienced, the unit is scheduled to deploy, and the same twenty percent must stay home. The American taxpayer just spent thousands of dollars training somebody who cannot do their job. Commanders seek quality over quantity, the opposite of the recruiting mentality.

What can be done?

1. Elect a different Commander in Chief, one who respects the military and understands its importance. 

2. Eliminate the vaccine mandate for all servicemembers. No, the most recently signed NDAA did not accomplish that for all.

3. Eliminate all Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training requirements and offices/positions. 

4. Raise recruiting standards, don’t lower them. Quality often matters more than quantity. Quality builds great teams, quantity builds a stack of paperwork and wastes time and money. 

5. Diversify incentives. Servicemembers join for many reasons, not always financial. 

6. Teach the meaning of the oath and the U.S. Constitution, as originally written and intended. 

The military needs to be an organization recognized for having the highest standards. This creates a culture of excellence where servicemembers know they are part of the elite and are expected to perform that way. Lowering standards does not work, it creates more and bigger problems. 

Lt Col (ret), US Army, Darin Gaub is Co-founder of Restore Liberty, an international military strategist and foreign policy analyst, an executive leadership coach, and serves on the boards of multiple volunteer national and state level organizations. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, the Department of Defense, or its components.



Bust of Themistocles, a Greek Strategos. Marble, Roman copy from the Hadrian Era after a Greek original from ca. 400 BC.

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Strategist - a person skilled in strategy

Let us pretend for a moment you are a dentist. It took you years to receive the training you would need to be certified and licensed. Now, imagine I walk up to you in a meeting and say, “I am a dentist.” How long would it take you to figure out that if I, a person with no dental training, went messing around with your teeth or gums, it would not go well? 

It sounds ridiculous to think a person with no training would claim to be a dentist, but the same thing happens when someone with no training in strategy development suddenly claims to be a strategist. If the dentist were to watch me attempt to fill a cavity and tell me I am not a dentist, they are possibly saving someone’s life. When a person like me, trained in many facets of strategy development, watches someone with no training attempt to be a strategist, it is not as dangerous initially but can still cost lives in the right circumstances. 

People have a fascination with the words “strategist” and “strategy,” but those same people rarely know what these terms mean. Perhaps this is because the word defines itself; a strategist is a person skilled in strategy. Let us try this another way; a dentist is a person skilled in dentistry – no kidding. In case the issue is not clear enough, let us define a dentist.

Dentist - one who is skilled in and licensed to practice the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, injuries, and malformations of the teeth, jaws, and mouth and who makes and inserts false teeth 

Maybe it would be better to look at the definition of the word “strategy.”  

(1) the science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war

(2) the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems toward a goal

There are a few keys words in the definition - science, art, and goal. That strategy is part science and art is a well-known fact to those trained in its use. 

The science of strategy means accounting for specific variables for which we have little control. Vehicles and aircraft move at certain speeds, fuel lasts for so long at specific consumption rates, and machinery manufactures a finished item in a set amount of time. That is the science that informs strategy. Failure to account for these hard facts often leads to impractical or impossible plans. 

The art of strategy is much broader and harder to master. It is how a strategist moves from an aspirational goal to the specific steps necessary to achieve that goal. “I want world peace” is easy to say. “How,” is the harder question. To witness our surrender in Afghanistan was easy (though not for us Afghanistan war veterans). To predict a range of consequences from our surrender and how to deal with them, a lot harder. With training and years of expertise, the predictions become more trustworthy and the potential solutions more realistic, especially when one is trained in strategy development and has years of experience analyzing world events. 

Strategy with no clearly defined goal is pointless. 

It is the years of experience and training that make a strategist not simply calling yourself one in a meeting. In my military experience, we employed a variety of terms with purpose. Strategic is something at the national or global level. Operational is based on a region or specific area of conflict. Tactical are those specific actions taken by individuals or smaller units to achieve operational and strategic objectives. Where the U.S. often fails is in the strategic realm. Too many of our nation’s elected representatives lack a truly strategic mindset and necessary training.

My training in strategy started with learning chess at six years old. It continued during my 28 years of military service where I attended the nation’s best strategy schools. I also went through the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification process, media training, Lean Six Sigma, and other Change Management training. I am not a strategist because I applied the label to myself in a meeting. I am a strategist because I went through years of training and applied that training to real world scenarios in multiple countries and organizations. I am not a dentist, doctor, lawyer, or accountant; I do not have the training.

Claiming the strategist title does not make a strategist anymore than claiming to be a dentist makes one ready to pull teeth. 

Lt Col (ret), US Army, Darin Gaub is a Co-founder of Restore Liberty, an international military strategist and foreign policy analyst, an executive leadership coach, and serves on the boards of multiple volunteer international, national, and state level organizations. He also serves as Chairman of the Lewis and Clark County Montana Republican Central Committee. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, or its components.

The new look of modern warfare, bigger doesn't mean better

Credit: Author, Afghanistan 2006

Through the summer of 2022, the war in Ukraine rightfully dominated headlines. Many were suddenly flying their yellow and blue national flag in a display of solidarity. At the same time, the instant foreign affairs and military experts filled the airwaves of American news outlets. Months later, winter arrived, and though the war still creeps into headlines, America’s mid-term elections and fiscal crisis now dominate.

The war rages on, but it feels like a more static environment. It looks like the late stages of a boxing match. Though there was a display of intense energy as the initial bell rang, the fighters are now two exhausted opponents barely able to stand. The odds of a knockout blow are remote, but the world watches and prays that the threat of nuclear weapons use is not realized. It may look slow now to the observer, but they are doing everything they can, and both might be satisfied with a draw. The future is unclear.

Still, most of the public no longer thinks about this conflict every day. In fact, they may not hear anything about it for a week or more. But Ukraine remains fertile ground for those of us who faithfully follow the international situation and analyze events to provide advice and analysis to those seeking it. Ukraine provides critical lessons for America’s military and might signal the start of bigger changes. Are we seeing the birth pangs of the infamous but rare Revolution in Military Affairs?1 Or is this just a continuation of one that has already started? 

This war shows us the changing tactics and methods driven by advanced technologies and manufacturing techniques that cause the miniaturization of weapons. Highly lethal weapon systems are getting smaller, more agile, easier to use, and relatively cheap. Let’s look at three examples that show this is the case.

  1. The aircraft – I am a retired US Army Aviation officer with 22 years of flying the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter. Most of my flight time is in combat. During mission planning, we would template large Air Defense systems and plan routes around them. They were either large systems easy to avoid and target due to their size and electronic signature or smaller ones impossible to locate. Though a clear and present danger to the higher-flying, fixed-wing aircraft, large systems are still easy to target and remove. Larger systems do maintain the advantage of longer ranges and higher altitude capabilities, as well as greater technological capabilities for tracking aircraft. But those same advantages come with the tradeoff of size, signature, significant training requirements, and excessive cost. What will get a pilot’s attention is to inform him that the battlefield is flooded with Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) rather than two to three of the large systems. A Stinger or SA-7 can be carried on a person’s back, employed virtually in any environment with minimal training, replaced easily, and disposed of quickly if the situation warrants it. These systems, in the right hands, only need to be around airfields to target larger, fixed-wing aircraft, while helicopters are vulnerable anywhere. 
  2. The tank – In the movie Saving Private Ryan, there is a battlefield scene where German tanks are incapacitated with “sticky bombs.” A rudimentary but effective solution where the combination of a sock covered in grease and some explosives make the best German armor ineffective. That was World War II. Enter the 21st Century and the javelin anti-tank missile. Just like the stinger can make almost anyone an airplane killer, the javelin can turn the same people into lethal tank hunters in a week or less. The javelin provides the same advantages to the user as a stinger - small, lethal, inexpensive, relatively simple to employ, easy to move, and resupply. Tanks are effective at what they do and have some unique advantages, such as speed. But if I were driving a tank (or any vehicle) on today’s battlefield, I would probably welcome the ease of detecting and targeting an enemy tank and fear the largely invisible threat posed by the javelin and other small weapons.
  3. The ship – The headlines on April 15, 2022, highlighted the sinking of the Russian flagship Moskva by harpoon anti-ship missiles. Like the sinking of the Royal Oak or Graf Spee in World War II, the Moskva was a symbol of power for the Russian confederation. This $750,000,000 symbol sits at the bottom of the Black Sea at the cost of $3,000,000, and the price of pride and public relations cannot be measured. 

Stingers, SA-7s, Javelins, and Harpoons are only a few examples of small, easy-to-employ, lethal, and inexpensive weapons on the modern battlefield. There are also “kamikaze drones,” or other drone systems that launch munitions or help identify targets for long-range artillery. These may only be the tools that technology has made possible and not a Revolution in Military Affairs by themselves, nor do they change the brutality of war. 

America’s military must prepare for combat in an environment where threats are everywhere and almost undetectable until it is too late. Larger systems are quickly becoming relics subject to the disposable systems of today.

 1A Revolution in Military Affairs is a hypothesis in military theory about the future of warfare, often connected to technological and organizational recommendations for military reform. Broadly stated, RMA claims that in certain periods of the history of humankind, there were new military doctrines, strategies, tactics and technologies which led to an irrecoverable change in the conduct of warfare. Furthermore, those changes compel an accelerated adaptation of novel doctrines and strategies.

Lt Col (ret), US Army, Darin Gaub is a Co-founder of Restore Liberty, an international military strategist and foreign policy analyst, an executive leadership coach, and serves on the boards of multiple volunteer national and state level organizations. The views presented are those of the author and do not represent the views of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, or its components.

Image by Mostafa Tehrani

In 2011 I wrote a master’s thesis titled “The Children of Aphrodite” where I emphasized America’s lack of readiness to manage the threat posed by drones to our own forces and our homeland. It’s become an often-cited source document for further research in government agencies and private companies since then. Now we see the war in Ukraine taking a heavy turn toward drone use since the attack on the Kerch Bridge. This change also highlights the challenges to Russia’s logistics chains and their inability to maintain the more expensive aircraft. The Russians now destroy infrastructure across Ukraine using a variety of drones, including Kamikaze versions. The world should take note, as the advent and growth of drones mirrors the historical growth of aircraft capabilities and tactics in history. But what once took years and decades starting in World War I can happen in months and years today. 

My thesis highlighted potential uses for drones in the future that have since become reality. I analyzed state actors like China, Iran, and Israel. I also highlighted non-state actors like Hezbollah in the Middle East and drug gangs on America’s Southern border. The key predictions I made in 2011 were:

  1. China, Iran, and Israel were focused on growing their drone forces and capabilities. 
  2. China and Iran would seek drone technologies for their own use to inexpensively but effectively counter America’s systems.
  3. Israel’s conflicts ensured their need to outpace their adversaries in drone technologies and allow them to continue a persistent watch. 
  4. Israel would also focus on counter drone technologies as their adversaries built their own offensive and reconnaissance drone systems. 
  5. Non-State actors like drug gangs would find applications for drones, such as smuggling drugs and people, and targeting their own adversaries. They would also collect the intelligence they need to maintain their stranglehold on the narco-state of Northern Mexico and America’s Southern boundary. 

It’s clear to all watching the conflict in Ukraine and the narco wars along America's Southern border that drones are fulfilling these predictions. Iran supplying Russia with drones demonstrates Iran’s continuing ties to Russia while exposing Russia’s own logistics challenges. Israel recently targeted drone assembly facilities in Syria. Syria’s parts, manufactured in Iran, are a clear display of the expected proliferation of not only the completed systems but the supply chain supporting them. China is using drones to agitate and collect intelligence against Taiwan.  Lastly, their use by drug gangs is common, and sources in the Border Patrol admitted to me that they were not expecting how quickly the gangs would employ them. 

The drone wars highlight that the minimal training and cost required to employ them means drone use will increase. A million-dollar tank can be destroyed by an $80,000 javelin after minimal training. A $25 million MIG-29 would buy 25,000 drones at $1,000 each. That same MIG-29 can also be destroyed by an inexpensive Stinger missile. Countries counting pennies while in conflict see the advantage of low cost, easy to procure systems. The math behind drones says we better get used to them in all future conflicts. 

America’s military has improved our own drone systems significantly since I authored my thesis. But the U.S. is still plagued by considerable expense and bureaucracy behind how we procure our systems. While Russians successfully targeted vehicles, convoys, and structures using simple off the shelf quadcopters costing $750-$1000, Americans paid $10,000 for the Raven drone, not including their ground equipment and support costs. Also, by the time our systems are fielded, the technology is already old. America’s drone fleet is another victim of an antiquated procurement process. 

  America is not ready for conflict on a battlefield where drones are more common, versatile, and effective than tanks. We must consider that the total cost of the systems we are accustomed to employing combined with the speed of technological developments is driving them to extinction. We’ve improved our ability to counter the drones used by other nations, but we must learn the lessons coming out of Ukraine and our own Southern border. There are companies developing technologies and techniques to win the drone wars. But we are hindered by our slow-moving government acquisitions process. We must change to make sure the speed of the developments in drones is at least matched and then exceeded by our ability counter drones from other nations. 

The conflict in Ukraine is a window to the future, we better see it clearly. 







Lt. Col. (Ret.) Darin Gaub is an Army veteran, Blackhawk helicopter pilot and former Air Assault Battalion Commander, international military strategist, and Co-founder/Executive Director of Restore Liberty. Col. Gaub spent 28 years in military service, with 7 years in command, and three years training military forces for combat, including “hybrid warfare” environments.  He helped to build contingency plans for the unique characteristics of a conflict in Eastern Europe based on lessons from Russian operations in Georgia and Syria. He completed four deployments to Afghanistan, as well as South Korea, Eastern Europe, and North Africa.

The Army Has Core Values, Senior “Leaders” Can’t Seem to Find Them

I was asked recently for advice on how to deal with a persistent conflict between two people, both working in the political arena. The advice I gave was to avoid the emotional and personal side of it and measure all actions against a set standard. In this case the set standard was a series of statements in a political platform document, and the U.S. Constitution. This allows for impartial discussion measured against principles and standards only.

The U.S. Army requires adherence to a set of principles and standards called the Army Values, known by the acronym LDRSHIP. It stands for Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. This performance standard applies to all serving in the Army, without regard to rank. I crafted hundreds of performance evaluations over my years of service and measuring Soldiers of all ranks against this common standard was critical. The oath of office demands service to the people through the principle of defending the constitution alone. Similarly, the point of defining the Army’s core values was to ensure those serve know they are to adhere to certain principles of conduct regardless of the cost. 

Unfortunately, the Army’s senior “leaders” do not measure up to their own grade sheet, and their subordinates can see it. 

Loyalty - bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers.

Rather than display this kind of loyalty, the Army’s current “leadership” pursues patriots who serve and displays loyalty only to the pursuit of a woke agenda, illegal vax mandates, and self-preservation for the sake of career and paycheck. Worst case is they are willingly pursuing these measures to help destroy our Army’s readiness from the inside. 

Duty - fulfill your obligations.

Their obligations are defined by their oath to the U.S. Constitution and to the people who have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness under that contract. Today’s senior “leaders” are again failing to do their duty by destroying the Army’s readiness to fight and win. 

Respect - Treat people as they should be treated.

Each day I work with those still in uniform as their chain of command pursues them with a relentlessness normally reserved for enemies of the United States. There is no respect for those serving who do not blindly or willingly accept the administration’s destructive agenda. 

Selfless Service - Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.

There seems to be a trend in that each of the Army values are ignored and replace by other priorities. These “leaders” are supposed to exemplify these values in daily life and leadership but ignore them instead. By attacking patriots from inside the ranks, these “leaders” display no concern for the welfare of this Constitutional Republic, the Army, or the subordinates and the families who become the casualties of a domestic battlefield. 

Honor - Live up to all the Army values.

By now it’s clear to all of us who’ve served, and many still serving that such “leaders” lack honor.  Veterans and retirees like me and many others fight each day to expose those who wear the rank but can’t and won’t lead. 

Integrity - Do what’s right, legally and morally.

In watching the Congressional testimony of senior ranking officers after America’s surrender in Afghanistan, it’s clear they chose to serve the gods of self and administration preservation. The easier lie was accepted over the harder truth and Americans know it. Those serving now, and those who might consider serving saw it too. Many serving still uphold the Army Values like Atlas holds up the world, under significant weight, as those highest-ranking officers press down on them in hopes they’ll break and submit. 

Personal Courage - Face fear, danger or adversity (physical or moral).

Having spent years in combat there’s no way to truly describe the physical courage it takes to go on combat missions not knowing if you’ll survive. I’ve escaped death on many occasions and have buried too many friends unable to escape that fate. Some of today’s senior ranking officers displayed physical courage in combat but worked their way to positions where moral courage is required. Moral courage is the harder of the two to display. Someone might wonder if I’m unjustly criticizing others for that which I may never have had the opportunity to display. I sacrificed a career to a single decision made while training an Aviation Task Force at the army’s National Training Center in January 2018. I would do it again as I am convinced it saved lives.

As a retired senior army officer, I’m contacted daily by those still serving who are keeping as low a profile as possible in hopes that the American people will provide the civilian oversight needed to fix this problem. Many have already paid the price for standing up for what is right, and I fear that’s what these senior officers want, to cull the ranks of patriots. 

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Darin Gaub is an Army veteran, Blackhawk helicopter pilot and former Air Assault Battalion Commander, international military strategist, and Co-founder/Executive Director of Restore Liberty. Col. Gaub spent 28 years in military service, with 7 years in command, and three years training military forces for combat, including “hybrid warfare” environments.  He helped to build contingency plans for the unique characteristics of a conflict in Eastern Europe based on lessons from Russian operations in Georgia and Syria. He completed four deployments to Afghanistan, as well as South Korea, Eastern Europe, and North Africa.

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