Why Circular Runways are a Ridiculous Idea

I’ve had several people ask me my thoughts on the BBC story about the Netherlands study on the possibility of circular runways for airports. I was compiling my big list of the negatives when I came across this article.

http://www.nycaviation.com/2017/03/circular-runway-concept-work/
Since he did a pretty good job of refuting the idea, I will leave it at that.

Now the story can go away…

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Seven Reasons Why Being A Flight Attendant is the Best Job Ever

Let me get started by saying this: I never wanted to be a Flight Attendant. I viewed Flight Attendant’s as ditzy women and men serving only one purpose: to give me my Diet Coke. Really. This …

Source: Seven Reasons Why Being A Flight Attendant is the Best Job Ever

Of course I think pilot it right up there too… 🙂

Republican Thoughts on ISIS : A Brookings comparison

Below is the Brookings article paired with my comments in italics.

William McCants | September 11, 2015 8:00am
Ten silly ideas for fighting ISIS

The next U.S. president will have to deal with the Islamic State (or ISIS) on his or her very first day in office. The group is an army, a terrorist group, and a proto-state in a strategic region. Its brutal tactics and harsh rule threaten the Middle East and bear at least partial responsibility for the European refugee crisis. With the second Republican presidential debate coming next week, it makes sense to ask what the candidates intend to do about this problem from hell and whether their views make any sense.

1. Oil Spot Strategy: Donald Trump advocates sending American troops in to seize ISIS oil fields because those are the group’s “primary sources of…wealth.” He would “put a ring around it and…take the oil for our country.” 

Very simplistic and wrong. First it isn’t a large source of money, especially in light of our recent attacks, and two, it isn’t our oil to take – besides crude from Texas is cheaper and easier to get to market. Verdict : not a strategy.

2. You Gotta Believe: ISIS is winning because they are willing to die for their philosophy, even if it’s wrong, argues Ben Carson. Meanwhile, “we are busily giving away every belief and every value for the sake of political correctness. We have to change that.” Presumably, if we go back to old-fashioned American values, we’ll know how to defeat ISIS.  

Being politically correct is not why we are losing. That makes for a popular response, but still, not a strategy.  Yes since they are willing to die it does make it more difficult to defeat them.  That is known as a “Total War” for ISIS, where for us it seems to be a war of inconvenience. Verdict: More of a comment than a strategy.

3. Surge: Obama made a “fatal error” when he withdrew American troops prematurely from Iraq, says Jeb Bush. He would send more advisers and trainers to help the Iraqi forces and fight alongside them in the battlefield. In Syria, he would unite the moderate forces and back them with an undisclosed number of American troops to defeat ISIS and Bashar Assad. He would also enforce a no-fly zone over part of Syria to create safe zones for civilians. 

Probably the closest to a strategy, but know ISIS isn’t just in Iraq and Syria. Pulling all the troops out of Iraq was a mistake (just like out of AFG). Brookings is correct about Syria, where is that plan? How are Libya and Egypt working out? Verdict : close to a plan.

4. Feel the Pain: Ted Cruz only wants to tangle with ISIS for threatening “to attack the United States” and “for killing American civilians.” Even then, it would only be an “overwhelming air campaign to destroy the capability of ISIS to carry out terrorist attacks on the United States.” Otherwise, Cruz is not keen on fighting in other people’s civil wars or on nation building after the war is over.
Overwhelming air campaign is not a strategy. Working with allies is… But using Cruz’s logic I fear we would not have many Middle Eastern allies left. Verdict: not a strategy, just a tactic.

5. Proxy War: “You cannot defeat ISIL unless you hit them in those parts of Syria that they now control where the Syrian government is not even present,” says Marco Rubio. America should do the hitting from the air but leave it to the regional governments to “confront [ISIS] on the ground with U.S. special forces support, logistical support, intelligence support.”

Probably the best response similar to Bush. I would love to hear more details  in a future speech. Prob still need to add more U.S. Army trainers and troops to coordinate with our forces. Verdict: Start of a strategy discussion.

6. Surge Light: Scott Walker’s surge is less aggressive and less specific than Jeb Bush’s. It involves a no-fly zone in Syria and more advisers in Iraq who are permitted to fight ISIS. He’d increase the training of Syrian rebels to fight against the Islamic State and Assad but, unlike Bush, he doesn’t say he’d back them with American troops on the ground. 

Another start to a strategy, but we need more thought about Syria after Assad and more ISIS discussion outside of Syria. Verdict: yes, but more details please.

7. Talk to Our Friends: Carly Fiorina believes its “premature” to come up with a new plan to deal with ISIS. “Okay there are all these alternatives in front of us that our allies who are there have told us will help, and we’re just going to leap over all of those and talk about boots on the ground,” she says. Instead, we should hold a Camp David summit and “talk with our Arab allies about what they need from us to fight this fight.”

I think if she just calls her CENTCOM CDR, he can lay out exactly what these countries want.  Hopefully she will not be surprised that they want help from our forces too.  Throwing weapons into a fight without a lead country or strategy is not a strategy.  Verdict: this is a response, not a strategy to defeat ISIS.

8. Talk to Our Friends II: John Kasich’s position is the same as Fiorina’s—let’s talk to our Arab friends first and develop a plan together. He knows putting large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground isn’t politically popular but he believes it’ll come to that eventually. 

Similar here, get a brief from Central Command and the Department of State. Also know there are differences amung our regional friends. Verdict: not a strategy, but it is a starting point. He needs to research the issue a little more himself.

9. Kurds and Bombs: Mike Huckabee wants to send more weapons to the Kurds and “bomb the daylights” out of any ISIS target. He’s reluctant to commit large numbers of U.S. troops. If there’s boots on the ground, “they have to be more than just U.S. boots. There have to be boots that come from the Saudis, the Jordanians, and others.”

Possible start but seems more of a headline quote. The Kurds are a viable force but only in their limited area. More discussion needed for the rest of Syria and the region.  Verdict: Not a full strategy but would sound good on his TV show or sound bite.

10. Proxy War II: Chris Christie would train the troops of friendly Arab governments “who all see ISIS as an existential threat to their existence.” His plan is to support them with intelligence and with weapons. “We don’t want to be occupiers in the Middle East. We want to fight them there so they don’t come here.”

We already train with friendly regional governments.  More intelligence sharing would help but we would need to send advidors/coordinators and briefer so too.  Probably naive to think no U.S. troops needed.  Verdict : small start to a strategy.

Will any of these work?

None of the top ten Republican candidates want to commit large numbers of American troops to fight on the ground in Syria and Iraq. Bush and Walker want to do a bit more, Cruz wants to do a bit less, and most of the rest of the field wants to leave it to our Sunni Arab allies to figure out. 

Interestingly, the two candidates with the most unique strategies are also the frontrunners in the presidential race. Trump wants to occupy oil fields and Carson wants Americans to believe in themselves. The two candidates frame their strategies as a return to strength in American foreign policy without actually committing to a real show of force. That’s similar to the way Obama frames his own policy. 

Agreed, especially Carson.

So would any of these strategies actually work? We can leave aside the non-strategy strategies of letting our allies come up with a plan or believing in ourselves. Those aren’t actual plans, although they might lead to plans. So we’re left with the Surge of Bush and Walker, the Feel the Pain strategy of Cruz, and the Oil Spot strategy of Trump. 

Trump’s won’t work because oil isn’t actually the group’s primary source of wealth.  

Also, “putting a ring around” an oilfield is not a strategy for defeating ISIS. Perhaps it could be a small tactic implementing a much larger strategy, but it certainly is not a strategy on its own.

Bush and Walker’s Surge appeals because at least it focuses on the source of the problem in Syria, which is the Assad regime. But what happens if the plan is successful? And what will they do about all the other Islamists who are vying for power once he falls? We’re not told.

As for Cruz’s plan, it’s pretty modest: teach ISIS not to mess with the United States. But it has a clear goal that’s in line with ISIS’s own chief priority, which is to build a state in the Middle East rather than attack the United States. 

Disagree Cruz’s plan does not defeat ISIS nor would it deter them from further threats to our allies or citizens forward.

That’s a fact that gets lost in the din of overheated rhetoric about the threat the Islamic State poses. It’s a serious threat to our allies in the Middle East and, via the refugees, to Europe. But it’s not yet a threat to the U.S. homeland. The worthy debate in the Republican primaries should be over whether the United States should lead its allies against an enemy that threatens them more than it does at home.

Agree. This is a connected world, economically and militarily. We need to coordinate with our allies and regional friends alongside aiding them in our strategy to counter ISIS. Throwing our head in the sand didn’t work in the last century and it won’t work now.

Iran gets their own inspectors?

  
So how did a “side agreement” with the IAEA and Iran allowing Iran to self-inspect some of their nuclear sites get approved by the U.S. and other major countries at the negotiating table.

After the Cold War, using the ever popular phrase “Trust but verify” we monitored the destruction of sites in Russia and Ukraine.  How in the world would we allow Iran to self-inspect and or self report on nuclear sites.  We already know they will report compliant with these sites… Some of which they won’t publicly acknowledge. 

How many other side agreements are hidden in these agreements? I think Congress will take the approach and sideline this agreement until all of these hidden deals are exposed.  Until then I support rejecting this agreement with Iran.  Too many questions with an unreliable country.  The stakes are too high for the Middle East.

Airliners, Ebola, Myths and Facts

The JetHead Blog

DSCF3175

Airliners, Ebola, Myths and Facts

The most recent communicable disease being linked with air travel as a possible factor in its spread is Ebola, which joins a long line of other contagions, such as SARS, H1N1, Hepatitis and even the basic flu, in the screaming air travel headlines.

There are two ways in which air travel could actually be a factor in the spread of such infections. First is the simple reality of transporting those infected to an uninfected area, and second is the propagation of infectious elements among people near the disease carrier.

This last consideration is medical and comes with contingencies well beyond my level of expertise. But what is absolutely common knowledge is that countermeasures in any public place–which an airliner is–are rudimentary. Your airline seat–like your theater seat, your seat at a dinner table, a taxi cab, a bus, a classroom, or any public area–is not…

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This Time its Different (Syria)

We are being told this time it is different. “No boots on the ground” “Syria is not Iraq” That this time we will get it right.  This confuses me as I look back the last 6 years of our Middle East foreign policy.

Let’s look back to Iraq during the surge of troops there.  After successful outreach to the Sunni tribes and an extra 100k in troops (US), President Obama was determined to reduce the surge quickly and ultimately reduce total forces in Iraq.  The  Centcom CDR was typically overruled as the drawdown was placed on a time schedule instead of Iraq Army capabilities.  VPBiden and the President disagreed/saying the Iraq forces were ready as they ceremoniously turned over province after province to the Iraqis.  We were told that the military CDRs were in “agreement”.  It was painfully obvious to me this was very misleading as I knew from talking to troops that the Ir
aq Army was not ready even with brand new US equipment and years of training.  My biggest fear was what was going to happen to these Sunni militia groups once they no longer had a common enemy or. Were no longer being ” paid” by the US? …..

Then we jump to the Presidents press briefing yesterday.  “We underestimated the ISIL force” Apparently they have been watched in Syria for some time as they had safe haven in ungoverned Northern Syria.  While we were ignoring Iraq so we could surge and drawdown in Afghanistan, former Sunni and Saddam Hussein military members built up training and funding in Syria.  Despite the pleading of the moderate rebels in Syria asking for help against extremists there, we handed them MREs and non combatant supplies.  It wasn’t until the Iraqi Kurds were on the run and ISIL approached Bagdhad that we affirmed our mistake in not helping Iraq early enough.  Then it took beheadings of the press in Syria to say we need to get involved there..no mind the thousands of Syrians ISIL has killed before the journalists.

I have to admit the US helped set this scenario along.  We withdrew from Iraq too quickly and too early.  President Maliki did play a major sectarian role thought as he certainly was no friend of the Sunnis – to which I’m sure his Iranian (Shia) advisors were happy with.  As we were out you could feel the US was “done” with Iraq as we concentrated in getting out if AFG.  I think similar thinking kept us from helping the Syrians against Assad or the ISIL rebels. President Obama had to get dragged in by the beheadings ( or chemical weapons until the Putin save)

Now we are bombing Syria, which I support, but it reminds me of North Vietnam.  We attacked ISIL reluctantly in Iraq and dragged our feet for a month in Syria.  This gave time for ISIL to prepare, move, and get ready while we talked about it in the press. When questioned about civilian casualties, the White House said don’t worry, the White House is strictly controlling targets in Syria. What?  This makes attacks time late from intelligence and severely limits the Military commanders on flexibility for targets of opportunity. 

This morning was a press interview with and ISIS member that stated they knew the attacks in Syria were coming and that most escaped into the population.  This could be propaganda, but I suspect somewhat true.  Our own conference talked about the “nodes” or infrastructure we attacked, not the key leaders…

We are touting that we are training a rebel force in Syria, although it is alleged that could take a year or so and may only number 5000.  But its OK (tic), we are not sending boots on the ground.

Here’s where I am concerned.  We don’t seem to have a coordinated (cross country) strategy to defeat ISIL.  First we protected Iraqi civilians, then Syrian, then attacked ISIL in Iraq, now finally ISIL nodes in Syria.  We are helping the Kurds slowly in Iraq, but not really Kurds in Syria.  What about ISIL in Turkey? Kurds in Turkey? ..As you see it gets more complicated with government policies and minority groups on motivation to help.  Most importantly, how is this whole effort not aiding Pres Assad of Syria, who we say still must go.  He’s not going anywhere.

Now the Iranians say they will help if we lift sanctions against their country.. Although only implied as that they won’t talk to us about ISIL until we do.  Hopefully we won’t fall for that trick as they have not complied by reducing enriched nuclear material.

If we are going after this group why did we wait so long? Why are we going after them piecemeal? Why do the Commanders need to seek white house approval limiting strikes and making them time late on intelligence? Why does it seem that the only thing that has worked is boots in the ground? … Or no action at all?

For even more insight check out Anthony Cordesman… http://csis.org/publication/real-center-gravity-war-against-islamic-state

Real Center of Gravity for ISIS

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Airliners & Missile Defense: A Pilot’s View.

Some systems are available, but not economically feasible for an entire fleet. Limited employment perhaps , but even with chaff it probably would not have helped the Malaysia flight over Ukraine. They might help against some lower flying shoulder fired threats.

The JetHead Blog

US Army “Spyder” missile launch.

After an apparent missile strike brought down Malaysia Air flight 17 over the Ukraine with senseless, tragic loss of life, public focus has included possible defensive systems for airliners. From my perspective as an airline captain, I believe the discussion is good, but in my opinion, fruitless.

First, my disclaimer up front: I’ve never flown any aircraft with defensive systems, and I haven’t flown a military aircraft since my last flight as an Air Force pilot in 1985. Even then, our strategy was simple: avoidance of threat areas.

So what I know about aircraft missile defensive systems is from three sources: discussion with engineers who design such defensive systems at Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin, former military pilots who did evade missiles in flight, and industry publications such as Jane’s Aircraft and Weapons and Aviation Week & Space Technology.

That background, plus my 29 years (and counting)…

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Negotiating With Terrorists, We’ve Already Lost

image

A 2008 Presidential candidate quote stated President Bush

didn’t use the full force of American power to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden, al-Queda, the Taliban, and all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11. Hmmm.

Another quote by Defense Secretary Chuck Bagel during his Senate confirmations..

We didn’t negotiate with terrorists

This past Monday White House Press Secretary would not call the Taliban a terrorist organization, but only

an enemy combatant

.

I think our military, our allies, and Afghanistan may disagree. They went on to belabor the point that we have always negotiated in times of war… ( forgetting our long standing US position of not negotiating with terrorists)

While I am not upset that Sgt Bergdahl is coming home, I am surprised at how it happened and how words are being twisted to make it sound less harmful than it probably is. I will save the debate on if he was a deserter or AWOL as that will soon come to light.  What is interesting is press reports from Dianne Feinstein, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman who says that when the idea was brought up in 2011 as an idea for a trade it was almost unanimously rejected. Hmm again.

What changed? Did the President know more? Did he need a boost in the polls., I would think that would not be his reasoning, did he know more than the military – outlasting his CENTCOM CDRs?

Did President Obama inform the Congress 30 days prior to releasing prisoners from GitMo as required by law? No.

Did the President perhaps consult our Afghanistan or Pakistan allies on releasing 5 Taliban members (4 of which are senior leaders) for their opinion on this proposal? I think not since the Afghan govt seems to be upset.

Did the President look at some of our past Gitmo releases to see if they returned to combat? I don’t know but apparently it was not a deciding factor as many have been seen in Yemen, Afg, Iraq, and Syria among others according to press reports.  A few have ever been taken out by our drones.  Most recently, 3 Gitmo detainees that were returned to Morocco 10 years ago, and despite assurances that they would be monitored,  left Morocco and were the founding members of the AQ rebel group in Syria. Hmm.

Now we are told by the White House that the emir of Qatar has personally guaranteed that these 5 members will be fully monitored and will not be allowed to leave that country for a year. Sounds to me like a good amount of time to recover, raise funds, re-engage AQ via the internet, and return to fighting in AFG or elsewhere in a year.  In fact the news is reporting Gulf sources saying the 5 Taliban members are

with family, can travel anywhere in Qatar for a year, and can go anywhere including Afghanistan after a year.

 

{Update June 6, One of the Taliban Cdrs in Qatar has already vowed to return to AFG and kill Americans there.  http://news.yahoo.com/report-freed-taliban-commander-vows-return-war-against-165007948.html }

So it brings the question

What are we assured of by the emir?

So when these terrorist..err enemy combatants kill US soldiers and or citizens in a year or two, who will tell the families that this trade was worth it? Who will tell the parents of the next US citizen or soldier who is kidnapped by AQ or the Taliban? Who will tell the government of Afghanistan when they return to the Taliban as

heroes?

Coincidentally, these fabulous 5 from Gitmo could be returning to Afghanistan as we pull out almost completely next fall of 2015.  I’m sure they will live peacefully, love the AFG government, and won’t harbor any ill will against the US citizens still there in the embassy or the hundreds of charitable organizations throughout the country.

But I guess that hardship and realization will happen in the next administration after this President is gone from Washington and only those of us who appreciate history will remember.

I wish I knew what changed..

I apologize for any formatting errors. The android WordPress app is not as easy as typing on the computer for WYSIWYG.

U.S. President Obama: Crimea not ‘done deal’ as not recognized internationally

U.S. President Obama: Crimea not ‘done deal’ as not recognized internationally

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that Russia’s annexation of Crimea was not a “done deal” as it has not been recognized by the international community.

He added that Washington was concerned about the possibility of further Russian encroachment into Ukraine.

“It is up to Russia to act responsibly and show itself once again to be willing to abide by international norms and … if it fails to do so, there will be some costs,” he said at the end of a nuclear security summit in The Hague.

He said additional sanctions would hurt Russia, but also the economies of other countries.

(Reporting By Anthony Deutsch)

What happened to our 1994 nuclear disarmament agreement to help defend Ukraine?

What happened to don’t worry, “our sanctions can get ugly quickly” and can ratchet up to hurt them?

Ok, a few questions.. How is it not over? The Ukraine military was forced to lead its own bases in it own country.  They left behind equipment, naval vessels, and THEIR bases.

The Russian military is in place and has raised their flags prominently.

What will happen in a few months in Eastern Ukraine? Bulgaria? Other Non NATO provinces with a Russian majority?

When is the next Olympics?

Malaysia Flight 370: What Didn’t Happen.

The JetHead Blog


Speculation on what happened to Malaysia 370 now runs rampant across the world media, just as it always does after any airline disaster. But as usual, most of what the “informed sources” hypothesize is unfounded or at least, not based on fact. That’s because whether the “experts” popping up on broadcast media want to admit it or not, there are few facts; and for all the wrong reasons in this case, there are fewer than ever.

That in itself is significant and, in my judgment from the perspective of one who makes a living piloting Boeing jets, a major factor largely ignored in the media. Specifically, what didn’t happen to that Boeing 777 holds the key to what did.

First, let’s start with the most obvious clue, which basically is the common denominator in one major risk factor that affected everyone who boarded Malaysia flight 370: the two travelers…

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