Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Note from AFA President -- Loh response to Helprin

Last week the Wall Street Journal published a letter to the editor by General (Ret) John M. Loh. Gen Loh responded to a WSJ op-ed by Mark Helprin. If you read nothing else in this note, skim his letter. A link to the letter can be found at: http://www.afa.org/PresidentsCorner/Other/Considerations.pdf.

Mr. Helprin’s piece is also valuable. And … while in his last principle, I might substitute the word “Airman” for either the word “general” or the word “infantryman,” I won’t quibble with him. [Approach war with the mind of a[n] Airman, but the heart of an infantryman … or … Approach war with the mind of a general, but the heart of an Airman.] You can find the piece at:  http://www.afa.org/PresidentsCorner/Other/PAMI.pdf

Read both pieces and tell me what you think.

For your consideration.


Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

"The only thing more expensive than a first-rate Air Force is … a second-rate Air Force."  --  Senate staff member


Ed Krutsinger said...

I interpret Helprin's words a bit differently when he writes "general" and "infantryman". By using "general", he seems to me to be referring to top thinkers, the generalists, if you will, in the planning and executing aspects of war-making. By using "infantryman", on the other hand, Helprin is referring to the generic grunt, irrespective of service empire, who puts his or her backside in peril while carrying out the intent of the President or of the "generals", most of whose backsides are seldom in danger. Viewed in this way, use of "airman" instead of "general" makes no sense. Yes, we of the Air Force empire use "Airman" as an egalitarian term that refers to all of its team members, general and airman first class alike. That usage, however, would be lost to most readers of Helprin's piece. They would quickly sense his intent when he writes "infantryman". We have no universal, service- independent term for the people near and at the bottom of the warfighting hierarchy. I get Helprin's drift, and I see no implied slur or slight to the role of the Air Force.

Edwin H. Krutsinger
Lt Col, USAF (Ret)

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Kirk said...

(1) The current political and economic situation make Mr. Helprin's texts very important now, as well as before.

(2) While I have no professional perceptions of his issue, at least to my untrained mind they make sense, and to my memory of recent decades of engagement they make very much sense. In addition, they make more ethical sense than many alternatives we remember, which caused in their day far more carnage than quick, determined action. Remember how the network news reporters called continued Serbian impositions a defeat for Western airpower when all that was done from the air was a single strike by a single aircraft. Remember how the press called it a defeat in Haiti when gunmen on a single docking area led to the withdrawal of a single Navy utility ship to initiate the restoration of order there.

(3) If our leaders are going to be "wishy-washy," let's at least do it with a VENGEANCE, to make clear of at least that stance, or else is we are to act, let's "Get it done!"