FROM THE EDITOR IN CHIEF...
With this issue I join the long and storied history of Air Force Magazine and the Air Force Association, succeeding Adam Hebert as editor in chief. I am grateful for the loyal readers and talented staff he leaves behind and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. Having spent 30-plus years in military and defense journalism, half that time as chief editor of the Military Times and Defense News media groups, this is familiar territory. Yet every product and readership is unique, and I’m excited to learn the nuances of this one as I embark on this adventure.
Magazines are like good friends. We look forward to their arrival, welcome them into our homes, enjoy their company. We notice when they change and worry if they seem to be growing away from us. I am confident that, like a good friend, you will tell me when you think we fall short and how we can do better. That’s what friends are for.
Beginning with this issue, you will notice changes in substance, style, and design. The intent is to make this magazine more valuable to our readers: more current, more compelling, more insightful, and therefore more important. We want to be the friend you can’t wait to hear from when something significant happens, the one who brings a unique perspective to every conversation, who helps explain what’s complex, and shed light on what’s hidden. Most of all, we want to be that friend who, when it’s time to leave, surprises you as you realize how much time has passed in pleasurable discourse.
Everyone has ideas about what will make a publication better. I invite you to share yours and look forward to a long and rewarding friendship with each of you.
Editor in Chief
Congratulations on the 100th anniversary issue, September 2018. The cover was outstanding and thanks for placing at the top the “Hap Arnold” wings and star symbol.
I never warmed to the “space age” version created under former SECAF [Sheila E.] Widnall. She said that the Air Force needed an official symbol, when in fact the Arnold symbol had been there for decades.
That symbol was worn on the shoulders of all AAC and AAF uniform jackets from the early 1940s and was embossed on the flight clothing of the crews that flew thousands of combat missions in all theaters in World War II, the Berlin Airlift, the Korean War, the Cold War, and Vietnam.
That original symbol had a long life. I have an Air Force document from the early 1980s that has the symbol at the top of the page. Thanks again for featuring the original symbol on your cover.
MSgt. Edward Curtis Jr., USAF (Ret.)
WE'RE NOT THEM
A couple of the captions in the “Old Bombers, Making History” story in the August issue [p. 48] incorrectly identify weapons personnel as munitions personnel. Munitions personnel build, store, and deliver the munitions to the flight line. Weapons personnel load the munitions as well as maintain the weapons systems and components of the aircraft. There is a stark contrast between the two career fields and neither wants to be confused with the other.
CMSgt. W. Glen Pugh
SKUNK RULES FOR ALL
The article “Skunk Works at 75” is the most profound article I’ve ever read in Air Force Magazine [September, p. 34], because of the effect the 14 rules could have for our country. The list can be separated into two distinct groups: creating innovative culture and nurturing creative people.
In some cases, we are innovative by inviting and linking new ideas using small teams. Just ask the Defense Innovation Unit in Silicon Valley or some of the various national labs. We could be doing much better by allowing more rank-and-file organizations to create and keep the magic alive by dreaming and acting on those dreams. My sense is, this kind of widespread creativity is stifled by a risk-averse culture and a fear of failure.
The rules for nurturing creative people present a much larger challenge. Our personnel system, both military and civilian, is overburdened by too much oversight, too many reports, too many meetings, and tinkering from upper management. Recent initiatives by the SECAF and CSAF have addressed these deficiencies by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy, but much remains to be done—specifically convincing the force to cut out non-value-added activity.
Just do it!
The current personnel system is not designed to pay people based on contributions rather than supervisor responsibility, nor is it designed to hire people motivated to do the impossible. This must change if we are to remain competitive and able to win America’s wars. The various “pay for performance” and direct-hiring initiatives are good first steps and must be accelerated.
The 14 rules should be proliferated throughout DOD, and indeed our entire government. This list could have just as well been titled, “How to Create Winning Organizations.”
Col. W. Michael Guillot, USAF (Ret.)
CHAPMAN AND CHILD
I’ve managed to read the excellent article on MSgt. John Chapman’s Medal of Honor several times and will retain it in my personal archives. Without taking anything away from the article itself, I am repeatedly drawn to the profound and moving photograph that makes up the cover of your October/November issue. This crusty old chief is moved to tears every time I look at it. In my mind, it gives new meaning to that old axiom, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
CMSgt. Robert D. Hudson, USAF (Ret.)
FAKE NEWS, INDEED
Richard Reif seems to have taken President [Donald J.] Trump’s frequent critiques of Jeff Bezos to the extreme [“Letters: Monetary Collusion,” October/November, p. 4]. In voicing his concern over Amazon Web Services (AWS) providing “cloud computing services to the entire federal Intelligence Community,” Reif makes a spurious charge that since Bezos owns Amazon and The Washington Post and since the latter reports on the Intelligence Community that creates a conflict of interest for Bezos.
In an article from the July 2014 issue of The Atlantic, Reif found this excerpt friendly to his premise, “This is a radical departure for the risk-averse Intelligence Community.”
Reif’s quote is close, but in the actual passage from that edition is this, “For the risk-averse Intelligence Community, the decision to go with a commercial cloud vendor is a radical departure from business as usual.”
Not only is Reif’s direct quotation inaccurate, he leaves the impression that somehow going with AWS is weakening security. But, later in that same piece is this: “CIA Chief Information Officer Douglas Wolfe called it [the contract with AWS] … one of the most important technology procurements in recent history. I think it’s going to make a big difference for national security.”
Then Reif refers to a Nov. 20, 2017, Washington Post article that he says found “some serious security mistakes, … which Amazon was seeking to remedy.”
This again leaves the impression that AWS has security problems and that it was “seeking to remedy,” but nowhere in that story is there any such language.
There were three episodes where users of AWS failed to properly secure their own information and left it vulnerable, but those were not at all a result of weak or flawed AWS security.
Finally we get to the meat of Reif’s letter. He is angry, really, really angry that President Trump—an avowed critic of Jeff Bezos and Amazon and The Washington Post—has not stepped in to “cancel the contract or ask tough questions about it?”
Tough questions, like the one Reif posed, “Why do our intel agencies need Amazon’s cloud computer services?”
Had Reif read that Atlantic piece thoroughly and not cherry-picked text to suit his biases, he would have found his answer—“What we were really looking at was time to mission and innovation,” the former intelligence official said. “The goal was, ‘Can we act like a large enterprise in the corporate world and buy the thing that we don’t have, can we catch up to the commercial cycle? Anybody can build a data center, but could we purchase something more? We decided we needed to buy innovation.‘ ”
No, Mr. Reif, Amazon’s success is no reason for you to spin webs of unfounded conspiracies. There are sufficient proclamations of “fake news” emanating from others in government without adding yours to the chorus.
Frank G. Scafidi
PICK THAT FRUIT
With reference to the C-5 entry in the June Almanac issue [p. 101]: Because the C-5A airframes in AMARC still have significant hours left on them, with only the problem of trouble-prone engines and other subsystems onboard, I would propose that private industry, under the rubric of the CRAF program, buy up some (20-40?) of the best A model airframes in the boneyard for next to nothing, and do the M mod-plus a rigorous review and replacement of the remaining high-maintenance items with commercially available equipment, in other words, picking the low-hanging fruit. Civil industry could operate the aircraft as a Western analog to the commercially operated An-124, selling hours, pounds, and miles to whomever needs it in the Western world. I imagine they could do it more efficiently than the military/government can and usefully augment our outsize cargo capabilities.
MSgt. Christopher Dierkes
Westhampton Beach, N.Y.
WHAT A GOOD FELLOW!
Imagine my sheer exhilaration upon seeing the article featuring 1st Lt. John Goodfellow [“Namesakes: Goodfellow,” October/November, p. 88].I enlisted with USAF in July 1962. I was security-cleared for USAFSS [USAF Security Service] at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. My class, BN14112, graduated in May 1963. I still have our graduation photo. Capt. Donald Clark was our squadron commander. Captain Clark formed an Airman’s Advisory Council. I was [one of] its first members.
My four years with USAF are among the best of my entire life. I was giving serious thought to a USAF career, becoming a commissioned officer.
Regrettably, and I do mean regrettably, I returned to civilian life after being honorably discharged with three written commendations.
I was promoted to staff sergeant before I turned 21 as a result of being admitted into the “2T” (two-tour program).
I do not recall that we were told the history of naming Goodfellow. Your article makes my journey all the more meaningful. Thank you!
Silver Spring, Md.
AGED TANKERS AGING ON
Seems to me that something is amiss with the KC-46 tanker [“Mobility Boom,” August, p. 26]. In the 1950s, we built over 750 KC-135s on a relatively new airframe in a matter of five years or so. Boeing built the airplane and flying boom that was perfected on the KC-97. You would think that Boeing would have that whole air refueling thing down pat. The KC-46 is built on the B-767 airframe that has been flying since the early 1980s. Every time I read the Daily Report there has been another delay with the comm gear or are you ready for this ... the boom! Boeing has been in the refueling business for almost 70 years. This is one item that should not have any problems. The KC-10 was fielded quickly without too many problems. Somebody is not doing their job and, as usual, the taxpayer is on the hook. Good thing the KC-135 was built as good as it was because the way things are going with the KC-46, it will have to fly another 50 years.
Pine Plains, N.Y.
MORE UNIFORM KERFLUFFLE
My thanks to both Mr. Endsley and Mr. Haigh for their comments and lively opinions regarding current Air Force dress standards “Letters,” August, p. 4 and October/November p. 4].
I agree with Mr. Endsley that today’s “on-the-job” uniform is unattractive and looks like pajamas. When on base, other than clerical jobs, we wore fatigues with the shirt tucked into the pants along with a standard-issue blue belt. A practical utility uniform with a sharp, military appearance. When off base, Class A or Class B dress was expected to be worn.
Mr. Haigh’s referral to the reduced number of airmen and unit manning shortages as a reason for sloppy appearance is not an excuse for excepting lower uniform dress standards.
It is not true that the majority of airman don’t live on base in barracks or the BOQ [bachelor officer quarters]. That may be true of Air National Guard and Reserve personnel, but is not the case with Active Duty airmen.
Mr. Haigh’s statement that in yesteryear “leaving the base depended on obeying higher-up demands” is total nonsense. Permission from supervisory ranks was never a requirement at any of the three bases that I served at.
The fact that the military brass spent their time and taxpayer money to approve a utility uniform that looks like camouflage pajamas is a disservice to the airmen who have to wear it. So I don’t blame the troops for this uniform fiasco. They would like to ditch the “pajamas” and look professional and sharp on duty. Appearance is a vital part of being militarily competent. I blame the USAF uniform board for recommending it and the USAF senior officers for approving it.
To quote Rainer W. Josenhanss: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
About the Air Force adopting the Army’s operational camouflage pattern: What a waste of my taxes! I joined the Civil Air Patrol cadet program in 1966. Within two years, all the patches and collar insignia I purchased were deemed obsolete, and so began a cycle of constantly purchasing new items. There was the change from silver chevrons and name tags on the fatigue uniform in 1978. There were the “blueberry” airmen stripes in 1976 (who was the flaming genius who thought of that?). Then it was BDUs in 1987. Before I retired in 1992, there was the change to the master sergeant stripes (“top three”, really?). For what? All because some colonel or some chief master sergeant with too much time on their hands decided to make a change—which confirms my opinion there are no improvements, only changes. None of this had anything to do with winning wars, which should be the main consideration when any “improvement” is contemplated. I enjoyed serving in the Air Force; the uniform changes are one thing I don’t miss.
MSgt. Michael R. Betzer, USAF (Ret)
PRIDE'S A FAMILY TRADITION
I’ve read with great interest about our past, current, and future Air Force in Air Force Magazine since being a brown bar and looked forward to each issue. One of my favorite sections of your magazine is “Letters.” For instance, in the September issue, I read with great interest Carl Van Pelt’s commentary [“A Different Breed,” p. 4], and I largely agree with what he has to say. However, his closing comments took me somewhat aback. Before I retired in 1985, I swore in my son Charles as a second lieutenant, using the same brown bars I once proudly wore. He subsequently flew the A-10 for over 3,500 hours in all the wars and conflicts I could no longer be involved in. I met the young men and women who went off to RAF Bentwaters, England, feeling 10 feet tall, just having finished training at Davis-Monthan [AFB, Ariz.,] to man their country’s defenses against the Soviet foe and subsequently participate in conflicts none of us had dreamed of at the time. Like Carl said in his letter, they, too, were changed forever and bonded. My son later flew in the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem [AB, Germany], a wing I flew with after I returned from Vietnam, and the ground and aircrew I met on a visit were all as inspired and professional as we once were. I do book signings at the National Air and Space Museum now and meet in the process many youngsters flying everything from the B-1, F-22, F-35, A-10, C-130, C-5, RC-135, etc., not just fighter pilots, but the others as well, who make it all work for us—and I see the gleam in their eyes and the pride they feel in what and who they are. America may have changed since our Vietnam days, but the few are still as capable and proud as ever to be part of the defense of our great nation. I am not saying that we don’t have our issues—retention problems in a vibrant economy are nothing new.
But those who man the cockpits I would fly with any day—and their standards are as high as ever. They will have their reunions, just as we do and our World War II flyers had before us, and look back with pride at the time when they did something unselfish, serving their country.
So, Carl, America may have changed in ways, as we always have and will continue to change in the future, but those who serve our country now and are charged with its protection, you wouldn’t mind flying with. Later next month, my granddaughter Anna is off to Laughlin AFB, Texas, to enter pilot training and keep up a tradition of service to our nation, now in the third generation.
Yes, she wants to fly the A-10, just like her dad once did.
Col. Wolfgang W. E. Samuel, USAF (Ret.)
Fairfax Station, Va.
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER
Peter Grier’s article, “The Chappie James Way,” published in the October/November issue [p. 70], contains much valuable information about a great American, but it also contains a major error. It falsely claims that Daniel “Chappie” James graduated from Tuskegee Institute in 1942. Actually, he received his Tuskegee Institute degree in 1969, twenty-seven years later. The reason James did not graduate in 1942 is that he was expelled from Tuskegee Institute for fighting during his senior year, not long before he expected to complete his college degree. Despite his expulsion, James entered military pilot training, also at Tuskegee, and graduated from advanced flight training at Tuskegee Army Air Field, not part of Tuskegee Institute. Tuskegee Institute awarded James his college degree in 1969 because he had taken additional courses during his military career. He received his degree, in physical education, just before his promotion from colonel to brigadier general. He went on to become the first African-American four-star general in any of the military services.
Daniel L. Haulman
Maxwell AFB, Ala.
A GOOD MAN GONE
Your September 2018 issue brought sad news of the death of Gen. Lawrence A. Skantze [p. 14]. He was a man of many skills and talents, but he was especially good working with the news media. I know because I was his public affairs officer at Air Force Systems Command from mid-1985 until he retired in 1987.
Skantze’s defense of the B-1 on the “Today Show” was a classic that has been used by the Air Force in its media-relations training program. He will be missed.
Col. David J. Shea, USAF (Ret.)
WRITE TO US
Do you have a comment about a current article in the magazine? Write to “Letters,” Air Force Magazine, 1501 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209-1198 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters should be concise and timely. We cannot acknowledge receipt of letters. We reserve the right to condense letters.
Letters without name and city/base and state are not acceptable. Photographs cannot be used or returned.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Tweets by @AirForceMag