Going Into the Teeth of Death

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Three years after the SEAL assault on the Pakistani compound and the killing of Osama bin Laden by a team of dedicated Navy SEALs flying sophisticated helicopters of the same type used by our Special Forces and highly trained Combat Search and Rescue forces, it is worth asking, as Rear Admiral George Tarrant (played by Fredric March) famously asked in the 1954 movie, Bridges at Toko Ri, “Where do we get such men?”
Our book, Leave No Man Behind, tells these stories – over a century of heroes going into harm’s way – literally into the teeth of death – to rescue their comrades. Here is what other writers thought of it:
An important and comprehensive work on that most American of military imperatives–going in harm’s way to get one of our own.
Dick Couch
Author of The Sheriff of Ramadi and Chosen Soldier (and ten other books)

Combat search and rescue (CSAR) has evolved into one of the most complex operations in war. Modern rescues often involve dozens of aircraft, and hundreds of military personnel-all this to save just one person! Why does the United States commit so many resources to this endeavor? Why do its Armed Forces consider it a sacred duty to leave no man behind? George Galdorisi and Tom Phillips explore these questions in their comprehensive history of CSAR from World War I through the Global War on Terrorism. In doing so, they help explain why CSAR has become a fundamental element of the American way of war.

Dr. John Sherwood
Author of: Afterburner: Naval Aviators and the Vietnam War and Officers in Flights Suits: The Story of American Air Force Fighter Pilots in the Korean War.

How Should We Live?

Wall Steet Journal

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Lowry reviews Roman Krznaric’s new book, How Should We Live? Her entire review is enriching and well-worth reading in its entirety, but briefly here is some of what she has to say:

Once living was not an art, merely a question of survival. That was before the dawning, in the affluent West, of the era of choice. Today we are dazzled by an unprecedented range of possibilities in almost every sphere of our lives, assailed from every side by messages about what we should buy, wear, eat and look like, and how we should spend our time.

Mr. Krznaric’s appealingly provocative book contends that contemporary culture trains us not just to think but to see, feel and desire and that we must strive consciously to “deprogram” ourselves if we are to live more authentic and satisfying lives. In a series of essays drawing on thinkers from the ancient Greeks to Gandhi, “How Should We Live?” considers such topics as love, family and empathy; work, time and money. What distinguishes this book from other self-help manuals is that Mr. Krznaric’s approach is rooted in a historical appreciation of how our modern muddle came about and what we might do to sort it out.

Read the full article here at the Wall Street Journal.

The Air-Sea Battle Concept and Its Antecedents

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As we talked about in an earlier post, the Air-Sea Battle Concept had antecedents in the Air-Land Battle Doctrine. Given that the 20th century was essentially a European-focused period and the Cold War was a largely land-focused arena with the penultimate battleground the Fulda Gap, it is easy to see why the Air-Land Battle Doctrine was a natural response to the overwhelming Soviet forces in Central Europe. And today, with this century being widely-described as the “Asia-Pacific Century” and with the Pacific being a maritime theater, it is also readily seen how and why the Air-Sea Battle Concept was a natural – and necessary – concept.

Read more about the Air-Sea Battle Concept and its antecedents on the Defense Media Network website post.

A Wide-Range of National Security Challenges

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In his May 1, 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal, “Playing Politics with Military Readiness in a Dangerous World,” former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta captures the breathtaking scope of threats the United States must deal with. In his words:

Three years later, the world is just as dangerous—maybe more so. While a mood of withdrawal and restraint is spreading in both political parties, recent events suggest that the U.S. may need to address crises around the world that threaten our national security. Our military must be prepared to respond if necessary. Consider the threats we face:

• Russia is threatening further military incursions into Ukraine. The U.S. may have to bolster both military and humanitarian aid to our NATO allies and others in the region.

• Syria remains a humanitarian catastrophe. It may require further U.S. involvement, including military aid and training the opposition.

• Al Qaeda is again on the rise in Iraq, Syria and North Africa. U.S. intelligence and special operations forces will be necessary to prevent an attack on the homeland.

• An unpredictable and nuclear-armed North Korea and an assertive China demand a continuing and strengthened U.S. presence in the Pacific.

• Iran’s drive for a nuclear capability and continuing political turmoil in the Middle East require a strong U.S. force in the region to deal with any contingency.

• U.S. military assistance to nations in Latin America, Africa and elsewhere is essential to building alliances to fight terrorism, drug trafficking, cyber-attacks and other transnational threats.

Read the full article here:

In his May 1, 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal, “Playing Politics with Military Readiness in a Dangerous World,” former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta captures the breathtaking scope of threats the United States must deal with. In his words:

Three years later, the world is just as dangerous—maybe more so. While a mood of withdrawal and restraint is spreading in both political parties, recent events suggest that the U.S. may need to address crises around the world that threaten our national security. Our military must be prepared to respond if necessary. Consider the threats we face:

  • Russia is threatening further military incursions into Ukraine. The U.S. may have to bolster both military and humanitarian aid to our NATO allies and others in the region.
  • Syria remains a humanitarian catastrophe. It may require further U.S. involvement, including military aid and training the opposition.
  • Al Qaeda is again on the rise in Iraq, Syria and North Africa. U.S. intelligence and special operations forces will be necessary to prevent an attack on the homeland.
  • An unpredictable and nuclear-armed North Korea and an assertive China demand a continuing and strengthened U.S. presence in the Pacific.
  • Iran’s drive for a nuclear capability and continuing political turmoil in the Middle East require a strong U.S. force in the region to deal with any contingency.
  • U.S. military assistance to nations in Latin America, Africa and elsewhere is essential to building alliances to fight terrorism, drug trafficking, cyber-attacks and other transnational threats.

Read the full article here

The U.S. Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific: China – The “Other” Major Pacific Power

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Volumes have been written about the rise of China and we won’t even begin to attempt to replicate the scholarly work and analysis that has gone into enhancing our understanding of China’s rise. Suffice it to say that China’s stunning economic rise has happened much faster than most predicted. Further, China’s economic growth – now predicted to enable it to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy this year – has had beneficial spillover effects for the entire Asia-Pacific region. And to be sure, in spite of some speed bumps along the way, due to globalization and a host of other factors, China’s economy and that of the United States have become more intertwined over the years.

Any understanding of the U.S. Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific must be juxtaposed against China’s dramatic rise. Read more about how China’s rise impacts this U.S. rebalance on the Defense Media Network website post.

Tectonic Shifts Shaking Our World

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Step back and think about major tectonic shifts that are – and will continue to – change our world in profound ways. While we all have our opinions, the collective vision of the United States Intelligence Community suggests there are seven of these tectonic shifts. Getting ahead of them may well spell the difference between success and failure for individuals, for businesses, and for governments. These tectonic shifts are:

  • Growth of the Global Middle Class: Middle classes most everywhere in the developing world are poised to expand substantially in terms of both absolute numbers and the percentage of the population that can claim middle-class status during the next 15 to 20 years.

  • Wider Access to Lethal and Disruptive Technologies: A wider spectrum of instruments of war – especially precision-strike capabilities, cyber instruments, and bioterror weaponry – will become readily accessible.

  • Definitive Shift of Economic Power to the East and South: The U.S., European, and Japanese share of global income is projected to fall from 56 percent today to well under half by 2030.

  • Unprecedented and Widespread Aging: Whereas in 2012 only Japan and Germany have matured beyond a median age of 45 years, most European countries, South Korea, and Taiwan will have entered the post-mature age category by 2030.

  • Urbanization: Today’s roughly 50-percent urban population will climb to nearly 60 percent, or 4.9 billion people, in 2030. Africa will gradually replace Asia as the region with the highest urbanization growth rate. Urban centers are estimated to generate 80 percent of economic growth.

  • Food and Water Pressures: Demand for food is expected to rise at least 35 percent by 2030, while demand for water is expected to rise by 40 percent. Nearly half of the world’s population will live in areas experiencing severe water stress.

  • U.S. Energy Independence: With shale gas, the United States will have sufficient natural gas to meet domestic needs and generate potential global exports for decades to come.

Read more about these Tectonic Shifts in this on the Defense Media Network website post.

Writers! Harness Self-Doubt and Make it an Ally!

Writing Techniques

If you are in any kind of creative business you likely ride on the razor edge between hubris and self-doubt. Some call self-doubt, “The Dutch-Elm Disease of Creative Minds.” Mark O’Connell takes a refreshing view of this in his article: “Sorry, Chief, but That’s Not Going to Cut It,” in the New York Times Magazine. He addresses self-doubt head-on

Because if I had to identify a single element that characterizes my life as a writer, a dominant affective note, it would be self-doubt. It is a more-or-less constant presence in everything I do. It is there even as I type these words, in my realization that almost all writers struggle in this way; that the notion of a self-doubting writer is as close to tautology as to make no difference, and that to refer to such a thing as a “struggle” is to concede the game immediately to cliché, to lose on a technicality before you’ve even begun.

Read the entire article here!

Missile Defense: A Wicked-Hard Challenge

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Rogue nations possessing ballistic missiles armed with WMD are one of the most vexing and wicked-hard challenges the United States must deal with today. For some, it is a new challenge. But for the U.S. Navy, dealing with air and missile threats has been something it has been dealing with for seven decades. And in many ways, the U.S. Navy has been a leader in evolving effective responses to air and missile threats.

For anyone younger than those of the baby boomer generation, it is impossible to fully understand the urgency the Cold War brought to building and deploying the U.S. Navy’s missile fleet.  Once the Berlin Wall went up and the spectre of the Soviet Empire crushing the West – and especially the United States – began to sink in during the early 1950s, spending on defense became a compelling urgency.  Few can forget the phrase famously attributed to Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow on Nov. 18, 1956, “We will bury you!”

Read more here on the Defense Media Network website

Outside of Ourselves

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In a recent article in the New York Times, Akhil Sharma, author of the novel, Family Life, talked about the vexing challenges any writer faces, but offered insights all of us can use to navigate life’s treacherous highways. For Sharma, it’s all about getting outside yourself and actually praying for other people.

After leading into her story about massive writers block and then moving on to a story about how her brother almost drowned, she says this:

So, sitting on the bench by the river that day, I remembered having read in Reader’s Digest — a periodical my family has undue reverence for — that when you are feeling bad, one way to make yourself feel better is to pray for others.

I began to pray for the people who were passing by. I prayed for the nanny pushing a stroller. I prayed for the young woman jogging by in spandex. I prayed for the little boy pedaling his bicycle. I prayed that each of them got the same things that I wanted for myself: that they have good health, peace of mind, financial security. By focusing on others and their needs, my own problems seemed less unique and, somehow, less pressing.

Read the full article in the New York Times here.

More Early Praise for Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes

Out of the Ashes

Now just a month away from publication, the first book in the re-booted Tom Clancy Op-Center series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes has garnered additional praise from early reviews. Here is what Booklist has to say:

Issue: May 1, 2014

Out of the Ashes

Couch, Dick (Author) and Galdorisi, George (Author)
May 2014. 400 p. St. Martin’s/Griffin, paperback, $15.99. (9781250026835). St. Martin’s/Griffin, e-book, (9781250026828).
Tom Clancy’s Op-Center books (12 in all) were popular, but the series ended after the last one was published in 2005. Now, almost 10 years later, St. Martin’s has resurrected Op-Center with this offering from coauthors Couch and Galdorisi. A series of terrorist attacks at NFL stadiums during games causes havoc, and the president’s response does little to restore confidence. He realizes the time has come to reestablish the Op-Center, a group known for its unmatched SWAT, computer, and infiltration skills. The recruitment process takes up the beginning third of the novel and proves surprisingly compelling. Once the team is up and running, the operation to strike back at the terrorists begins. Couch and Galdorisi are veteran military-thriller authors, and they show their talents here. Op-Center fans will be pleased to have the series back and will look forward to more installments in the future.

Jeff Ayers