- Air Force Missileers Suffer from Low Morale
“The best morale exists when you never hear the word mentioned. When you hear a lot of talk about it, it's usually lousy.”
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
In one of our recent posts we noted that the U.S. Air Force is experiencing a severe recruiting and retention shortfall such that it is short some 30,000 airmen, including 800 pilots. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/air-force-chief-service-short-30000-airmen/vi-BBxvmbl?ocid=spartandhp. This is unpresented as the Air Force has historically enjoyed the highest reenlistment rate of all the armed services since its establishment nearly 70 years ago in 1947.
Now we learn that the USAF is suffering from morale and discipline problems in its ICBM launch wings. The main part of our country’s nuclear deterrence triad. The Air Force can be pretty relaxed at times. Back in the late 1980’s the Air Force’s recruiting slogan was “It’s a great way of life”. A Ranger sergeant I worked with would always quip “but not a military way of life”. However the Strategic Air Command (SAC) which controlled the nuclear missiles and manned bombers was always super-strict, by the book and laser-focused on combat readiness. It was all about maintaining a credible and always ready strategic nuclear strike capability to deter the Soviet Union from launching a surprise nuclear attack. Then the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union dissolved and a big part of SAC’s raison d’etre went with it. SAC was too successful at deterrence and essentially put itself out of a job.
“The latest assessment concludes that the problems persist because so much of the equipment on these missile bases is so old that many components are no longer made and the shrinking air force budget cannot meet demands for expensive improvisations. As a result the missile bases are considered a bad assignment because so much stuff is ancient and breaking down. All this was made worse by the post-Cold War air force leadership stressing “zero defects”, micromanagement and political correctness. This stuff made matters worse at the missile bases. These three items made it particularly difficult to admit that they were key problems and as a result morale among officers and airmen was low and staying low because despite the headlines about “fixing the problem” things got worse, especially when it came to living and working conditions in these rural bases. The problems were particularly harsh during cold weather, which in this area, near the Canadian border, have always been a challenge.”
“The problems got so bad that in the last few years that some officers were punished for being too harsh in their efforts to improve discipline and performance of subordinates. While Air Force commanders want discipline and performance improved in the missile forces, it must be achieved in a politically correct manner. That, the latest analysis of the situation concluded, had become a major part of the problem and a massive obstacle to any solutions.”
It’s a demanding job. Also a tedious and routine one. You man a weapon system you never get to fire in earnest. As the article states the AF brought back the Missile Badge that demonstrates an individual passed stringent qualification standards in an effort to raise morale and pride of service among the missile launch personnel. Maybe the Air Force ought to go further and create a combat action badge for the missile launch officers. Otherwise how will you be able to tell the veteran missileers that have been through a nuclear war from the rookies who haven’t seen action yet? LOL!
For a good suspense thriller set in an ICBM launch silo, see “Twilight’s Last Gleaming”.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nuu_CozdXu4 (Twilight’s Last Gleaming '' - official film trailer – 1977).
For too long men have borne the burden of fighting our nation’s wars…Time to let women take over.
Fighting soldiers from the Sky, fearless men and women who jump and die, men and women who mean just what they say, the brave men and women of the Green Beret.
Silver wings upon their chest, these are men and women, America’s best. One hundred men and women we’ll test today only three men or women win the Green Beret.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5WJJVSE_BE (Ballad of the Green Berets – SSG Barry SADLER)
“Liberals seem to assume that, if you don't believe in their particular political solutions, then you don't really care about the people that they claim to want to help.”
- Thomas Sowell
“An army is a collection of armed men obliged to obey one man. Anything that weakens that principle weakens the army.”
– Major General William Tecumseh Sherman
First the NYPD, now the U.S. Army is having its appearance changed by the quest for vibrant multicultural diversity. How did we win any wars without Sikhs, Muslims, transgender troops and female infantrymen?
The rational for military and police personnel to have short hair and be clean shaven in the modern era was for reasons of health and safety. Short hair is easier to keep clean and doesn’t attract fleas, lice and other parasites under austere and unsanitary field conditions. Long hair can get caught in dangerous moving machinery resulting in horrific disfiguring injury. Long hair and beards can interfere with wearing a helmet and/or a breathing apparatus. Your gas mask won’t seal properly and keep out the poison gas if you have big soup-catcher beard. Wrapping your head in a couple yards of colored cloth won’t protect it from penetrating injury anywhere near as well as a Kevlar helmet. In Medieval times Norman knights shaved the back of their necks so their helmets would fit better. Finally not having long hair and a beard denies the enemy a painful handle in hand to hand combat. No less than Alexander the Great commanded his men to be clean shaven so they couldn’t be grabbed by the beard in battle.
Another tenant of the Sikh religion is that they must carry a sword or kirpan dagger everywhere they go so that they are prepared to “fight against injustice”. However, since the law in most modern societies prohibits going armed in public with edged weapons, Sikhs living in modern societies have taken to carrying a picture or carving of a sword on their persons. If Sikhs are willing to make that concession to modernity, then why cannot serving Sikhs just carry a picture of long hair, a beard and a turban with them? That doesn’t seem like an unreasonable compromise to make for the sake of heath and safety, as well as the esprit de corps and morale that comes with uniformity of appearance and equal treatment in a military organization, does it?
Nevertheless the-powers-that-be that be have decided to allow Sikhs to be "different” on account of their religious beliefs. My question then is that if health and safety and uniformity of appearance are no longer to be overriding considerations in setting grooming standards for police and military organizations, if all kinds of exceptions are to be made based on religious and cultural affiliation, then why not LET EVERBODY grow their hair long and wear facial hair? Sikhs, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Eastern Orthodox priests, females, males, everyone! Why must only Christian and secular males in the service be subjected to the ritual humiliation of having their hair and beards shorn?
No real surprise here. But it’s a good thing the USA moved all the nuclear aircraft bombs it had stored at Incirlik out of the country.